Leprecon-ning Myself

Yesterday I made the trip down to Dublin to take part in a small Guild Ball tournament at this year’s Leprecon. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve played Guild Ball despite my insistence that I was going to get more matches in this year. In all I got three games in which was pretty good but yet again I didn’t come away with that illusive win.

The first game was a rather cagey affair with my Fishermen going up against a Masons team. Things were pretty balanced between my opponent and I and he came away with a narrow 8-6 win. I must admit I was disappointed with the result because I really should have won. A rooking error in the final turn left Jac with the ball close to the opposition goal but with no influence assigned to him.

Game two went more like I expected and I was thoroughly outclassed by 12-4 against a Union team. I really didn’t put up much of a challenge in this one and my opponent’s Rage beat his way through my team. However, my opponent was a regular Fishermen player himself so he gave me a few tips on how to use them which I tried to implement in my third game.

Game three then got off to a great start for me as I managed to get an early goal to lead 4-0. However, as the game went on my opponent’s Morticians started to gain more control on the pitch and I eventually succumbed on a 13-9 scoreline. I wasn’t too disappointed with the day though, as I felt that I played some of my best Guild Ball on the day, and my matches are getting a lot closer. Here’s hoping I’ll get a few more games in this year and improve my outcomes.


Waagh!, What is it Good For?

Sometime in the middle of last year I decided to try creating an Ork Kill Team for Shadow War. It was supposed to be something small, and different from just playing more Space Marines. As of this morning however, I have about 30/40 assembled Boyz, along with another box ready for assembling today. I’ve also got six Killa Kans awaiting a base coat, and a box of Lootas ready for assembly along with the rest of the Nobz I left in the box after putting together the Kill Team. A mate also threw me some sprues he wasn’t using and I’ve no idea how many Orks are on them. Somehow, I’m well on my way to having a fieldable Waaagh of my own. Expect more updates as I get these bad boyz (puntacular!) finished.

Review: Gaslands

(originally published on Geek Ireland)

It’s time to get your old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars out of the attic because they’re about to get a new lease of life thanks to Gaslands. Created by Mike Hutchinson, Gaslands is an apocalyptic vehicular combat miniatures game that channels the energy of such franchises as Mad Max or Death Race onto the table top. Available through Osprey (as a physical book or via PDF download), the game offers a lot of bang for very little buck.

One of the great appeals of Gaslands is that it allows you to delve back into your childhood and get out your old model cars all over again. With simple yet intuitive rules, the game can be played very easily with the vehicles as is. For those at home in the world of tabletop miniature war games however, the game also allows for the customisation of said vehicles into weapons of death and destruction. Cars are divided into a number of classes, defining how fast they can move or how many implements of destruction you can strap to them. While you’ll be unable to stick a missile launcher to a motorbike, it should easily outrun something the size of a truck allowing it to get out of range of the latter’s weapons before annihilation is visited upon it. Like most wargames, players will have to build their team within the constraints of a points system (referred to in game as cans), with each vehicle and weapon varying in value and usefulness.

Gaslands Wargame Complete Bundle

Once your cars are ready, you’ll be able to jump into the action with Gaslands’ easy to learn rules set. Each ‘race’ takes place over a number of turns, with each turn involving a number of activations. Each car begins the race in 1st gear (though certain advanced perks may alter this for some races) and, as a result, can only make manoeuvres that could be done in first gear. In order to do so, they select an applicable movement template (these can be photocopied from the rule book or bought separately from the game’s website) and place it at the front of the activating car. They then role a number of game specific dice (again these can be bought online, though the rules do offer a table for converting a standard d6) to determine how successful the manoeuvre is. Once all the dice outcomes have been resolved, the car can be moved to its final position and make available attacks on other vehicles.

Such attacks vary in nature depending on how vehicles come into combat. Should the moving vehicle be in range to bring one or more of its weapons to bear, it can assign one of its crew members to that weapon and activate it. Each weapon may be used by one crew member (unless specified) and the active player rolls a weapon specific number of dice to determine how much damage is sustained by the target. The target then rolls a number of dice, determined by the gear they are currently in, with each ‘6’ result removing one point of damage from the attack. Once the final damage total is calculated, the player receiving the hits removes hull points from their vehicle to reflect what damage has been done. If a vehicle removes its last hull point, it becomes wrecked and may explode in spectacular fashion, potentially taking other cars out with it.

Of course, vehicles can be difficult to control and players might find that their chosen movement template will bring them into contact with another vehicle, resulting in a smash. In this case, a number of things need to be determined; firstly in what direction is the smash occurring? The rules allow for three types of smash; HEAD ON where the vehicles meet bonnet to bonnet, T-BONE where the activating vehicle hits a car on either side, and TAILGATE where the activating vehicle hits a car from behind. A second consideration for determining the dice pool for the smash is the speeds of the two cars while the weight class of each vehicle also has a bearing on proceedings. Once all values have been determined, and the appropriate dice pool is built the combat proceeds in much the same manner as that outlined above for weapon combat. The only difference that may arise are situations where the ‘defending’ vehicle might wish to visit damage back upon the ‘attacker’ rather rather than trying to evade the damage.

Gaslands Cars Motion Shot

During all this movement and combat, vehicles will be receiving hazard tokens to show just how difficult driving under these conditions will be. Players will be able to remove these tokens in a number of ways, but should a vehicle ever have six hazard tokens on it at one time, the driver will lose control and potentially flip their vehicle. It’s a very interesting addition to the rules and provides a bit of tension, even when a vehicle seems out of reach and on its way to victory. On one occasion, during my own playing of the game, one of my vehicles (a Dodge Charger equipped with a missile launcher) lost control in fifth gear, while well out in front and flipped, resulting in it finishing up trapped between two buildings and a wall and being effectively out of the race as a challenger.

As I mentioned above, each car begins the race in first gear, but as the game progresses their dice rolls will allow them to move up and down through the gears, allowing them to make more activations per game turn. Once all vehicles in first gear or higher have been activated, the game turn moves to its second gear phase and all vehicles in second gear or higher get to activate again. This continues for a third, fourth, fifth and sixth gear phase until the turn is over. As a result, vehicles can potentially activate up to six times per turn, though being in higher gears will mean that certain tighter turns or shorter straight advances will become unavailable to them making it more difficult to control their cars’ movement.

What is really exciting about Gaslands is that it’s highly customisable. I’ve already mentioned about that you can customise your vehicles in any manner you want within the games’ rules but there is also a great deal that can be done with the ‘races’ themselves. The setting for Gaslands, as per the rules, is a post-apocalyptic Earth that is being used as a TV showgrounds by the rich, now living on Mars. As a result, the core game offers a number of suggestions as to how you might play the game, from straight out Death Races that see cars aiming to race through gates on their way to the finish line to Destruction Derby style events that see the vehicles enter an arena with the ultimate goal of being the last one standing. There’s even an obligatory Zombie mode that sees combatants trying to run over (or ‘collect’) as many zombies as possible, with the winner being the person to collect the most zombies by the time the last zombie has been ‘collected.’ The Gaslands rules however, are so open to customisation that should the post-apocalyptic setting not be to your tastes then you can apply them to one of your own. The games’ fledgling community has already suggested the use of the rules to recreate a number of different pop culture races from Mario Kart and Wipeout to Star Wars‘ Pod Racing, so there’s plenty to work with for those willing to try it out.

Leo Curiosity Attention Django Unchained Meme

Overall, Gaslands is an amazingly entertaining gaming experience. Personally, it’s resulted in my going out and buying some new die-cast vehicles which I haven’t done in the best part of two decades or more. As enjoyable as it has been to modify my new toys however, the game itself has been where the true enjoyment has come. I’ll admit that my first foray into Gaslands was a rather tentative Death Race scenario but once we got going, and upped the number of participants (the game recommends 3-10 combatants) things really stepped up. The fact that the game goes against the standard 1v1 template of table top miniature wargaming should be enough to warrant it getting some attention, but it is its robust and fun rule set that really make Gaslands worth checking out.

Stability Lost

Last night I finally had the opportunity to try out some of the new Magic the Gathering Unstable cards thanks to a friend. He brought over a booster box and we ran a small phantom draft between six of us which was a bit of craic. Stupidly I decided to construct a deck around the rare I pulled in my first booster (a foil As Luck Would Have It) and things really went downhill from there. I lost my first two matches 0-2, though the first one wasn’t a surprise because my opponent Rules Lawyer’d in a few banned cards to defeat me. My second match was a much more straightforward affair but I lost thanks to my opponent’s many contraptions. In my final game I did actually manage to pull off a 2-0 win, but it was my opponent’s first experience at drafting a deck, and she was pretty new to the game as a whole. This did of course mean that the third game was pretty enjoyable and easy-going.

After the disappointments of my R/G deck on the first draft I decided to try out the Contraptions when we opened the second set of boosters. This worked out pretty well for me and my U/R easily overpowered my opponent in the first match. Unfortunately, at this point in the evening people started thinking about heading home, so I didn’t get the opportunity to give the deck another run out. I guess I’ll have to wait until Rivals of Ixalan comes out to test my drafting skills out again – a mate of mine is coming home from England at the end of the month and we’re already planning to host a draft for the set.

New Year, New Aims

Well, here we are again! The start of a new year and time to think upon what I hope to achieve over the next twelve months. While 2017 might not have seen me complete all my goals, it was pretty successful on the hobby front and I hope to carry that forward into 2018. This new year however, will have to be a bit different as I’m also looking to the future and trying to save a bit of extra money, so 2018 will be less about picking up new things and more about refining and working with what I already have. Conveniently this has helped me focus my goals for the year.

The BIG Goals

Tabletop Gaming – Last year I set myself the target of painting and assembling 2,500 pts. worth of White Scar Space Marines for use in Warhammer 40k. Honestly I never really came close but I’m still quite happy with what I’ve got done. The release of the game’s 8th Edition rules really spurred me on in the middle of the year and I’ve enough assembled models to field an army so I’ll continue to push on with getting them painted up. For this year however, I’ve decided to go another route and aim to build a gaming table for one of the games I play. I had originally decided on a table for Warhammer 40k but, as you’ll read below there are other games I’ll be focusing on this year and I may decide to go with one of them. Rest assured that all updates will be sufficiently blogged.

Reading – December proved to be a bit of a busy month and I didn’t get all that much reading done. This didn’t stop me from reaching my Goodreads goal of reading 30 books in 2017 so again, I’m calling that a success. For 2018 I’ve upped my target by 50% and hope to read 45 books this calendar year. A few things make me believe that this is an achievable target; firstly I’m nearly finished the audiobook of Raymond E. Feist’s Magician so it’s likely that I’ll have knocked off one book by the end of January 1st. I’ll also have 24 book club books to read in 2018 so that’ll clear over have the target. Secondly I’ve gotten back into reading Comic Books in a big way over the last few months so I expect to get through a few Graphic Novels in 2018 too, each of which will add to my Goodreads total.

Other Goals

As I mentioned above, I’ve decided to focus on the miniatures games that I’ll be playing in the coming year. 2017 saw the release of a few games that caught my eye, but as someone that’s still finding my footing in the genre, I can’t be trying to do everything. For this reason I’ll be focusing on three games in particular – Warhammer 40k, Guild Ball and Gaslands. I’ve already mentioned where I am with the first of these titles, and with Guild Ball I have sufficient models to field a number of teams, so these games will require minimal financial investment in 2018. Gaslands on the other hand is a game that I’ve only recently become acquainted with but I’ve already purchased the rules and tokens so really my main investment in this for 2018 will be on vehicles and conversion pieces. It’s probably the ideal game to be getting into now that I’m tightening the purse stings.

Beyond the gaming table I really want to get more writing done in 2018. This will take the form of updating this blog more often, getting stuck into the novel idea that I have and writing more for Geek Ireland. This of course is all time allowing but these early months of the year are pretty slow at work so I hope to get a good start through January and February.

Enough rambling, a Happy New Year to all and hopefully come December I’ll be reporting on the success of these goals that I’ve set myself.

White Scars Project Update

Back in January, at the prompt of the Ireland’s Gaming Community facebook group, I set myself the goal of assembling and painting 2,500pts. of Warhammer 40k White Scars Space Marines. It’s been a struggle to be honest (and I’ve heard “Why would you do that to yourself” on numerous occasions) but I’m pretty happy with how things are going so far. I’ve even managed to get some models onto the table on two occasions – the first a 100 Power Point victory over the forces of Nurgle and the second a bloody, hard fought win against Necrons at 2,000pts. I’m hoping to get a game in at that magic 2,500pts. mark in the coming weeks, so rest assured I’ve hit the mark with regards to assembly.

Here’s the breakdown of what I’ve got done so far;

HQ – Realistically the only HQ option I have so far is an assembled Captain on Bike. I do have a Kor’sarro Kahn model somewhere but I’ve completely misplaced him. He’s unassembled and my girlfriend bought him for me for my birthday, but I haven’t been able to locate him in months. Thankfully the lads I play with have been allowing me to proxy him so I know the damage he can do – In my battle against the forces of Chaos he straight up stabbed a Rhino until it exploded.

TROOPS – I’ve 60 Tactical Space Marines in various stages of assembly and painting. I had an accident a while back and a number of them became de-assembled so I’d say about 30 of them are still in one piece, of which 10-15 are pretty much painted and another 10 require finishing touches to shoulder pads and other detail areas.

FAST ATTACK -As of last Sunday my three Land Speeders are nearly done. Like my Tactical Squads they just need a bit of detail work. I’ve also got nine Bikes that are at the same point so it’s pretty fitting that this will probably be the part of my White Scars army that gets finished first.

HEAVY SUPPORT – For this category I’m looking toward my two Land Raiders. One of them is pretty much done, again I just need to add the finishing touches while the other is assembled. Unfortunately, I bought this one pre-assembled on ebay and the owner made quite a mess of it. I’m facing the real possibility of having to take it apart to clean up some of the shoddy workmanship. It’s pretty much been sitting in a box since I got it but I have it in that 2,500pts. list I mentioned above so I’ll have to face it at some point.

DEDICATED TRANSPORT – Here again is a category that I’ve done a lot of work on. I have four Rhinos (two are actually Razorbacks that I’m using as Rhinos but have left unglued so I can switch to their original purpose if needs be) and they’re nearly done. I ran out of paint when it came to doing their tracks and haven’t gone back to them. I also have two Drop Pods awaiting a final lick of paint before I can say their finished but again, it’s not a big project.

 Well, that’s it with regards to the White Scars. I’d probably be a lot further along with them if I hadn’t stupidly decided to work on some Orcs as well. I also have some Necron Destroyers that I picked up because I thought of a colour scheme I wanted to try on them. A bit more focus and I might actually hit my goal. That’ll be a big boost when it comes to setting my goal for next year – more on that one closer to January.

November TBR Pile

So, I’ve finally decided to organise my Goodreads to-read shelf, and by extension decide what titles I’m going to read for November. The plan going forward is to update my profile at the beginning of every month with the few titles that I plan to read over the next few weeks, rather than having a few hundred books listed as “to read.” With a bit of luck this will help me to focus on what I read. Anywho, here are the books I hope to get through in November.

Daughter of Eden by Chris Beckett – This one I’m already about 100 pages into. We read the previous book in the series, Dark Eden, as part of the Science Fiction book club I go to and I was perhaps more keen than the others to continue the series. Enjoying what I’ve read so far.

The Inferior by Peadar O’Guilín – In the run up to Octocon I read The Call by the same author ahead of getting to see him in person (sad face, we missed him all weekend) and thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw this in the local library I just had to pick it up and give it a try.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – This is the November read for the Science Fiction & Fantasy book club that I go to. It seems interesting, and my girlfriend (among many others) is enjoying it so fingers crossed I’ll like it too.

The Good People by Hannah Kent – Another November book club read, this time for the more General club. I put this one forward because I wanted to read something set in Ireland and the synopsis seemed pretty cool. Really glad it got picked.

Savant by Nik Abnett – Once again inspired by last month’s Octocon weekend, this book has a very interesting premise. Over the past few weeks it has been calling to me to be read so hopefully I’ll be able to get to it this month.

And there you have it, the five books I hope to get through over the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the sidebar over yonder to see if I can stick to my plans. Or, you know, you could follow me on twitter where Goodreads automatically posts when I finish and rate a book.