Happy Orktober!

October is finally here and with it hopefully the new Orks Codex from Games Workshop. Over the last year or so, I’ve gathered together a nice little collection of Ork models that I’m eager to get onto the tabletop. With the new codex looming I’ve been reluctant to play Orks over the last few months so it’ll be great to finally get to use them. Of course, I’ve decided to be a little mad and do a horde Ork army so I’ve still got plenty of models to paint. That said, I have kicked off Orktober by getting some of these models started. I primed twenty-three models earlier today with four now with their flesh-tones finished and a further five with their flesh bases done. I’m not going to stress myself out by setting a goal of models to paint, but I am hoping to break the back of the work that needs to be done by the end of the month. I’ll be trying to reward myself by allowing myself to paint a Killa Kan or Deff Dread every 15-20 infantry models though.



Welcome to the…Dungeon

It’s been five or six years since I properly got into tabletop gaming, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to both GM and play in a number of roleplay campaigns. Last night, at the invitation of some friends who’d recently started a campaign, I played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time, and it was an interesting experience.

In the interest of balance, they suggested that I immediately skip the few levels they’d earned over their previous few sessions and so I joined in as Tarien Pureriver, 3rd level Elven Druid. Much of the start of the session was taken up trying to explain why Tarien had followed the party into a previously unknown cave, but once that was sorted it was time for action. Or it would have been if my character was any good in a fight. While I was creating Tarien I tried to play toward his backstory as a hermit, so all of his spells are those that might help someone survive alone in the wild; not particularly useful when the gribblies come a knocking. In the end, though, he wasn’t the most useless character, and his gruff responses and general attempts to reintegrate with society made for an entertaining session. On to the next one!

Thoughts on Blood Oath by Phil Kelly

I’ve had the Damocles book from Black Library sitting on my shelf for quite a while; so long in fact that I’d actually forgotten that I’d already bought it, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a full-length novel until I opened it a few days ago, and I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that the White Scars – Tau confrontation that enticed me to pick it up is only the first quarter of the book. While I’ve finished reading that short section though, I do intend to keep going with the book; here though are my initial thoughts on Blood Oath by Phil Kelly.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though there were a few moments that threw me a little and took away from the overall experience. Shadowsun’s sections of the story were enjoyable and gave some nice insight into ho the Tau go to war. The Kor’sarro Khan sections, however, left something to be desired as the Huntmaster of the White Scars came across in a bit of an unfavourable light. Having read Scars by Chris Wraight in the past, I was used to a legion who utilise well thought out tactics even as they plunge headfirst into the enemy, but the legion described in Blood Oath seemed to just attack like a hammer and hope for the best. Indeed, it was only when Khan was separated from Moondraken that he seemed to even consider another way of fighting. Add to this the fact that the slow and measured approach to trapping the Tau was made by committee, and that the White Scars were forced to flee the planet soon after and I feel that the Fifth Legion were handed the short straw in this.

When I first delved into Damocles I was hoping for an epic showdown between the Tau (the first faction that drew my attention when I discovered 40k) and the White Scars (the faction I’ve taken to the table top most often) and in places Blood Oath delivered. However, at the same time, I was left feeling somewhat disappointed by the portrayal of one of the more loyal legions in the arsenal of the Empirium.

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.