Thursday, 28 July 2011

Financial fortunes of GW

Storm of Money: I don't know who this guy is, but he looks happy...
Today I have added myself as a new follower of an apparently exclusively 40K blog. Why would I do such a thing? Well really, it's because I found the following post very interesting: Financial Analysis of GW.

Like many people (I suspect), I find annual financial reports very dull and less than completely informative. My interest has never been great enough to bother working out exactly what everything means, so I remain secure in my ignorance. The run-down given by Duke in the link above is given in simple English and should be understandable to anyone who cares enough to look at it.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Locking it in

I have written in the past about my use of tournaments as motivation for actually getting painting done. I have always found that committing to a tournament and including things that need to be painted in my list is a great way to make sure I actually knuckle down and get some paint on the models.

This year I have been entering fewer tournaments than normal. This is partly because it's a bit harder to commit to these things when you've got a toddler to think about, and it's partly because a couple of the tournaments I have attended in past years decided to go with player packs that didn't interest me. It's been 4 months since I played in a tournament.

Book of Grudges is in just over 2 weeks, and I submitted my list yesterday. I confess, I gave a reasonable amount of thought to the composition of the army, but little consideration to how much painting I will have to do. This kind of seems like poor planning on my part. Maybe I am out of practice.
Anyway, I have now locked in what I will be using, so all that remains is to ensure it's ready to go on the table. Here is a picture of my "to-do list"...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Imperial Progress VII

As is usually the case, my recent progress on the Empire has been moderate at best. However, in keeping with the sagely advice I was given, I will keep giving updates so that I at least feel guilty about my slowness - maybe that will spur me onward...

I used to think that I would never field a Steam Tank in my Empire army. Admittedly I made this resolution in 7th edition, and I resolved at the same time never to use a War Altar. Both struck me as decidedly no-brainer choices - too powerful and far too common in the Empire armies I saw.

8th edition had changed my opinion of the War Altar a bit; bound spells now require power dice, so that made a big difference. I haven't gotten around to making one yet, but at least I no longer have an issue with fielding one.

The Steam Tank, on the other hand... Well, it was revised to Toughness 10, so my immediate reaction was that it was even worse than before. I did end up buying one though, so I could use it in larger games where any imbalance it brought would really not matter. Then it sat in a shelf in its box for months.

Discussions with some friends have convinced me that the Steam Tank is actually nowhere near as rude as it was in 7th edition, despite the increased Toughness. The reason for this is that its immunity to most spells has been taken away. Now things like Pit of Shades and Purple Sun of Xereus mean almost certain death for a Steam Tank (Searing Doom scares it a lot too), which means a lot more armies will have a way of dealing with it.

I probably still wouldn't field a Steam Tank in a balanced army with Great Cannons and the rest - not in a tournament-sized game. I feel like it's adding an unnecessary level of hardness to the list. However, I have recently started toying with some all-cavalry lists, and I like the way the Steam Tank adds to the army. It is, in effect, the mobile artillery for the force. It provides the only cannon in the army (although it's only Strength 8 and D3 wounds). It also provides a holding force in an army that is somewhat lacking such things. I do think the Steam Tank will be one of those units where some armies swat it like a bug, whilst others can't really deal with it. But there are plenty of things in the game like this, and the lists I use don't normally include them.

So with this all in mind, and with my Book of Grudges list coming together in my head (it's due in 2 days), I have assembled my Steam Tank! I'm hoping it won't take forever to paint. The model does have a ton of detail on it. It also went together really nicely, which I was impressed with. This is a nice kit. Of course, I am probably the last Empire player on earth to assemble one, so you all knew this already...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

When battle reports go wrong...

You sometimes hear people talking about the battle reports in White Dwarf, and how they have to play the games multiple times in order to get a game worth talking about. I used to think this sounded like poor planning - surely there are plenty of games that are close enough to be worthy of a report. A decent match-up of players and armies should ensure you don't have too many blow-outs, right? Well...

This report was going to be for the benefit of those who like to see a more competitive game. Chris Cousens and Ben Leopold are both currently in the top 10 of the national rankings, and they were using tournament-strength armies. So far so good, right? Apparently not. After setting everything up and preparing for a game worth talking about, the wheels came off Chris' wagon early on and there was no recovering. Chris tells me his army is a bit hit-and-miss. If that is the case, this game definitely goes into the "miss" basket.

Chris will be banned from battle reports until he promises to put in a better showing than he did here. Shame, shame, shame...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Poll results

OK, so the poll has closed and the results are in. The most popular preference was for a combination of story and actual game detail, followed by people who prefer straight narrative.

I will be working on a format that allows readers to follow the story without being too interrupted by game details, but making sure those details are available for people who want to see them. I have not entirely decided how I am going to do this yet - I may even just resort to using different colours for the narrative and gaming aspects of it, so people can skip a particular colour if they want to. This would, in effect, address all 3 criteria on the poll. However the emphasis will still remain on producing a proper story from the game.

Hopefully I will get a chance to have a bash at this method sooner rather than later.

Thanks to all who responded to the poll.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Battle Bunker closing

 It has recently been announced that a local independent retailer in Melbourne, Battle Bunker, is to close its doors. The announcement can be seen here.

It's always sad to see games stores close down, particularly when they seem to be going along well. Battle Bunker has established its own club, which took second place in the 40K event at the Victorian Club Championships earlier in the year. It's possible the club will outlive the store, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

It seems that running an independent games store is a thankless task, as evidenced by the high attrition rate that we see. I realise a lot of businesses don't last long (this is not a phenomenon restricted to hobby stores), but it really does seem that running a games store at a profit is an uphill battle. This is probably especially the case nowadays, with the rise and rise of the internet as the cheapest source of so many things.

Viv mentions that running the store has killed his passion for the hobby, which is perhaps the saddest part of all. Most people who start a games store are likely to do so because they have always dreamed of turning their hobby into a full-time job. The thought that realising a dream can actually suck that enthusiasm from you is a bit scary. Hopefully closing down the store will give Viv a chance to rekindle his passion for the hobby.

I feel a twinge of guilt whenever a local retailer disappears, knowing that I am one of the many who take most of their business online nowadays. Unfortunately my main consideration is always going to be price, especially when the difference is significant (thanks largely to the exchange rate at the moment). I have spent far too much on my hobby already to be knowingly handing over extra cash on a regular basis.

I don't imagine it's possible for a store to remain open if its sole source of income is from club meets and hosting events (and in the case of some like Battle Bunker, producing and selling high quality custom terrain), so it's hard to imagine a different fate for anyone game enough to try to turn their hobby passion into a viable business in the current environment of a strong Australian dollar.

Thanks for trying, Viv. Sorry it didn't work out.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Imperial Progress VI

My slow progress on my Empire army continues. Well, I guess the fact that the progress is continuing is the important thing, even if the speed is slightly depressing.

As predicted, I managed to complete the Halberdiers I was painting whilst still on holiday. That was about the sum total of my achievement, but it's still progress. The unit is very nearly ready to be used, however I am slightly undecided about command models. I got a command group along with these guys from EBay, however the standard bearer and champion are old Reiksguard infantry, and none of them really match my Halberdiers in all their Attack of the Clones glory. I am considering converting some random models heavily and making a command group that matches these guys instead.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Poll: Battle Reports

OK, as I alluded to at the bottom of my previous post, I have added a poll on the top right of the page, asking people what sort of battle reports they want to read. This has come about because I figure there is not much point putting together an elaborate report when readers would really prefer it was approached in a different way.

I understand that the same style will not suit everyone, but if there is a clear majority then this will make it easier for me to give you what you want.

If you have any particular suggestions or feedback, you can always just respond to this post with comments. For instance, if your vote is dependent upon particular conditions (such as you only want a players' perspective report when the players are worth listening to), you can let me know here.

The poll closes in a week, by which time we should already have played another report game - so I will be able to get on with delivering it in a way that people want to see it...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

From the vault: Contest or Context

Here we have another article I have dredged up from the dark ages of 2006 - the days before iPhones ruled the world and Hellpit Abominations were just part of some games designer's bad dream (if only they had stayed that way)...

Martin de Carcasonne, knight of Bretonnia, raised his grime-splattered visor and surveyed the carnage before him. The field was littered with dead and dying, both Bretonnians and foul Orcs, their bodies strewn up and down both sides of valley in which they were fighting. The valorous deeds of his unit had gradually taken their toll - he was the sole survivor. The brave knights who had taken the field with him had fallen one by one; dragged from their saddles by the savage green beasts they were fighting, their noble steeds beaten and chopped down with crude clubs and axes. Three had fallen at the hand of one particularly large brute, wielding a massive axe nearly twice its own height. Martin himself had eventually delivered the killing blow to the fiend, driving his blade through its warty throat.
And now the battle was nearing a critical juncture. Few warriors remained alive from either side; the casualties had been horrific. Even now the shambling remnant of a mob of greenskins was heading his way. Martin could see his lord's tattered and mud-smeared standard in the vile clutches of one of the brutes. Tears filled his eyes at the thought of returning home without Lord Louis; of recounting to the fair Lady Genevieve the tale of her husband's fall. 
The thought of doing so without being able to at least lay his lord's banner at her feet did not bear consideration. Looking at the score or so Orcs guarding the precious banner, Martin offered a brief prayer to the Lady. Lowering his visor once more and drawing his sword, he prepared to charge - and then whimpered in dismay as he was shuffled sideways, out of the charge arc of the Orcs, and safe from having his valuable Victory Points plundered in the last turn of the game...

Taking a break

So, where have I disappeared to? No posts for a week? As disgraceful as it all sounds, I've taken a week off work to spend a week away with my family. This dreadful lack of commitment has extended to my blog, as you've probably noticed.

I have not been completely idle, however. I did bring a number of models away with me, with the intention of being good and making further progress on my Empire army for Book of Grudges. In the grand tradition of such things however, I have found my efforts fail to live up to my ambitions. I brought away 14 Halberdiers and 30 Greatswords with me. We came down Saturday afternoon, it is now Wednesday evening (we head home on Friday), and this is the progress I have made thus far...
White, purple and armour are done. Flesh, boots and halberd poles remain.
Obviously I have been doing other things with my time down here, but I doubt anyone would be overly dazzled by my progress. I am hoping I will still get the Halberdiers done and at least undercoat the Greatswords, but I could probably have done better.

I'll throw up another post soon, but I thought I would take this time to remind all those other slow painters out there: you are not alone.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Going soft

As I stated in my previous post (Go Hard or Go Home), over the last 10 years or so I have been engaged in a constant struggle to reconcile my desires to use competitive and “soft” armies. This began with me being firmly in the camp of the ultra-competitive crowd, using hard-as-legal lists in an attempt to take out the tournament. However, over time my lists and I have mellowed and I have started to explore less powerful armies.

I have reached the point now where I don’t really want to field a list that opponents will see as really tough. I derive no real satisfaction from fielding an army that is harder than my opponent’s, and stomping them into the turf as a result. Unless I am going for a particular theme or performing some sort of grand experiment, I am most likely to aim for a comp score in the softer half of the field. I realise this sort of approach can affect my results, but by and large I don’t really care.

Deliberately selecting an army that is under-strength may be a foreign concept to some players. Why would you choose a weak army when you had better options available? Well, here are a few reasons why someone might choose to “go soft”…

Monday, 4 July 2011

From the vault: Go Hard or Go Home

Several years ago I wrote a number of articles on the club website, much of it not dissimilar to the sort of thing I have been writing on this blog. I may dig some of this stuff up over the next couple of weeks, provided that its content has not dated so badly that it no longer makes sense. First up though, I have an article that I wrote back in early 2007, but never got around to posting (the reason is lost in the mists of time).

And yeah, I seemed to use a lot of footnotes back in those days. I think writers in White Dwarf were doing it too, so maybe I was influenced by them...

The Elf and the Daemon
Donald hears the voices too...
Whenever I sit down to make a Warhammer army, I find myself in two minds about how I want to approach it. The little invisible High Elf on my right shoulder tells me that I should make a nice, balanced army. After all, Warhammer is a game, and I play it to have fun. My competitor is probably doing the same, so I should make sure I don’t pick an army that leads to an unbalanced (and potentially less than fun) game. But then from over my left shoulder comes the (rather sinister and intimidating) voice of the invisible Bloodthirster, telling me that you play games to compete. Warhammer is a contest between two generals, and it is the responsibility of each player to field a competitive force and try to out-play his opponent. He also howls for blood and threatens me with his big axe, but that is neither here nor there.

Imperial Progress V

Sooo, just in case you thought I never really paint anything (I know it feels that way to me sometimes), here is what I have been up to most recently.

First up we have the Helstorm Rocket Battery, which I painted last night. I admit that I really can't be bothered putting too much effort into painting my war machines. I have gone for a very basic approach of drybrushing the whole thing Boltgun Metal, then painting the wood Scorched Brown highlighted with Bestial Brown. The whole thing then gets a coat of Devlan Mud. Obviously there was slightly more to be done on the Helstorm given its fancy rockets and stuff, but the general principle of "get it done" still applied.
The brazier stumped me a little. I painted the joins between the rocks white so that when I went back over them with red, they would stand out like a glow. Then I painted the rocks black, but it hadn't really worked. I threw a yellow wash over the lot and it seems to have improved things. Good enough, anyway.