Saturday 31 May 2014

The Next Big Games Workshop Question...

Greetings wargamers and hobbyists, and welcome to my post room. This of course is where all my gaming and modelling purchases arrive from far and wide, and I am pondering whether I am likely to have to knock out a wall and expand 'Goods in' into the walk-in weathering suite next door...

What I am talking about, which is of particular significance to players of Games Workshop games, is the recent release of the 7th Edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rules set.

There are two conversations going on at the moment about the release of the new rules: one relating to the rules themselves, whether a change was necessary and whether the new rules set is better or worse than 6th edition, and the second relates to the timing of the release itself. This is because historically each new edition has come around roughly four to five years after the last, with a couple of exceptions; there was only a year between 1st and 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy, and six years between 6th and 7th, while there was a six year gap between Rogue Trader (Warhammer 40,000 1st edition) and the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40,000.

The fact that 7th edition of 40K has come just two years after 6th has raised questions of some concern to gamers: did 7th edition come out so soon because 6th had a small number of issues that needed to be addressed, and so it was a one-off quick update? Did Games Workshop need a money spinner and so decided to produce a new rules set early? Finally and most significantly - is it because two years between editions will be the new norm? Given the phenomenal and comendable rate at which Games Workshop have been releasing Army and Codex books and supplememts over the last year or so, I am sure no one can doubt that they are capable of doing so.

Personally, I hope it was the first option. Though 6th edition was certainly not a 'bad' edition, there were some things that needed tweaking, and early signs are that 7th edition is a better rules set. However if it turns out that a new edition of the core rules for Games Workshop games will be released every two years for both of their signature games, then I think we may well see the end of that special breed of multi-army players, of which I am one.

I play five armies in Fantasy and six in 40K, and I think that players owning and playing more than just one army is probably pretty common, but with the rate at which Army and Codex books have been coming out, I am sure we can all agree that keeping up has become rather draining on the old bank balance, because it's not just the books, it's the supplements and new models too. While I think that the rapid release schedule is better than the glacial pace of releases were used to have, it has been bordering on too fast, and has probably crossed that line a few times as well. 

For it to even be worth updating a book for an army, there will be changes to rules, units, options and list building possibilities, not to mention new models, and all of this means it can take weeks or even months to really get used to a new Army Book or Codex, without even considering supplements like Escalation and Stronghold Assault. When we factor in a change in the core rules every two years, I feel it can become very difficult to maintain more than a handful of different armies to any real depth of familiarity and knowledge, and so players who own as many armies as I do are more likely to concentrate on a smaller set of armies, and might leave other armies gathering dust on the shelf because they simply don't think they'll get around to using them before the next edition of the game is due out.

My concerns could prove to be unfounded, even if we do end up with a new major rules set every two years. Perhaps I'm just used to only having to spend £50 on a new Rulebook twice or three times a decade instead of double that. I guess only time will tell on that score. Maybe most people only actually have two or three armies and not eleven like me...

So, the Big Question is 'how frequently are we going to see a new edition of a major game from Games Workshop in future?' The answer impacts both how long we have to get used to and actually play an edition, and the practical value of each new rulebook we buy.

What do yo think the answer will be?

Me? Like I said, I hope 7th edition is a blip, and we will be back to 4-5 years between rules sets. I think that Games Workshop would spend their time and effort more productively going back to and reinvigorating their Specilalist Games Range, maybe release some new campaign supplements for all their games, hell, why not a Global Campaign or an entirely new race for 40K or Fantasy? All of these things would be preferable to a new edition of 40K or Fantasy in half the time we have become used to, especially if that also means new army books and codexes in half the the time as well, that really would make multiple armies unmanageable, and result in a reduction in my overall spend with Games Workshop, not an increase.

As always, thanks for reading...

Wednesday 21 May 2014

While You Are Out: Sprue Cutters Union #29

Greetings wargamers and hobbyists, and welcome. The Sprue Cutters Union is back!

It's been a while for sure, both since my last post and since the last topic provided by the Sprue Cutters Union high command (Jon over at The Combat Workshop), but now things are all in order and ready to roll. There will however be a change to the SCU posts (Sprue Cutters Union), which is that topics will be issued for consumption monthly rather than weekly.

I am happy enough with this myself, and am very pleased that Jon has been able to accommodate the Spruecutters in among his new schedule. Also, this leaves me with more time to post more gaming related topics and get some more painting and modelling done myself! There will be plenty to talk about, as I have recently picked up the new Dwarf Army Book (get ready for some truly classic models appearing in this very blog), and a new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is right around the corner!

With the introduction out of the way, let's move on to this month's topic:

"How do you keep in the hobby when you are away from the workbench?"

Now Jon has asked the Union to talk about the ways in which we stay connected to the hobby when we aren't actively 'cutting sprue', like research or collecting supplies for or inspiration for our next project. Well in order for me to answer this question, I have had to begin by asking myself "what is my hobby?".

The answer to this question has changed a little over the twenty-plus years that I have been involved in miniature collecting and wargaming, with the advent of things like the Internet, and then eventually the ability to take that wealth of information with us wherever we go.

Where one day in the past the hobby consisted of buying, assembling and painting miniature soldiers, and then using them to take part in 'Little Wars' either at home or at my local gaming store or gaming buddy's homes, it has evolved to also include more writing (campaign material, background fluff, army list generation and of course, this humble blog), and trying to be an active part of what has become a thriving internet and social networking community spanning the globe.

I think that I am fortunate that the various elements of my hobby allow me to talk gaming with hardcore tournament stalwarts, but also discuss the finer points of weathering and composition with modellers and painters that focus exclusively on the visual feast of dioramas and display pieces, and finding interest right across the spectrum.

There is it then. With so many aspects to what consititutes 'my hobby', I am able to keep my hand in when I am away from HQ:
I tend to take a fishing tackle box with me to work, so that at lunchtimes I can sit in the canteen and paint or work on assembly and conversion projects. I find a tackle box has enough room for about a dozen models or so, and twice that number of paints, plus brushes and small modelling tools like files.

In addition to this, I have a 7" tablet (the perfect size for keeping with me pretty much anywhere) which has on it all of my pre-selected complete army rosters and lists of different scenarios and missions for games. It also has on it all my digital rule books and campaign stuff, so that I can work on army lists, campaigns, blog posts and even my novel on this one handy gadget. I always have at least one Codex or Army book in my work bag, and usually a campaign note book too. I used to have an issue of White Dwarf in there as well *grumble, grumble, grumble*

Between the practical hobby goodness carried within my trusty tackle box, and the digital awsomeness that resides on my phone and tablet, I can partake of whatever aspect of the hobby takes my fancy at any given moment, and with internet access via my portable wifi, doubly so. This is why I think that being an all round hobbyist is such a boon.

Some hobbyists only paint and model, so background material, list building and campaigns are of lesser interest. Others only game, in which case they need not only a table, rulebooks, scenery and plenty of time, they also need a whole extra person! No matter where I am, I can take part in my hobby. Even driving in the car I get to listen to wargaming podcasts, so whatever happens I'm covered.

So how do you manage to keep in touch with the hobby when you are away from the workshop?

For anyone who hasn't come across the Sprue Cutters Union (#spruecutters) before, it's what we refer to as a 'blog carnival', which is a series of complimentary blogs which tackle the same topic title from the perspectives of their individual writers. 

At the bottom of each SCU post, I will include links to the articles already posted by other Union Members on the topic, and a link to the 'topic hub', which is where members post the links to their articles over at The Combat Workshop - my favourite thing about the Union is getting to read the views of other hobbyists with different interests talking about the same topic - links below!

And finally, if you yourself write any kind of miniature modelling blog, then perhaps you would like to consider joining the Union? All it takes is the dedication to produce one article per month on the topic of the moment, and include links to other members articles at the bottom of your own post as I have done. All you need to do is keep an eye on The Combat Workshop or any of the member blogs for details of the next topic!

As always, thanks for reading.

P.S. I recently felt it in my water that there must be a new Bretonnian Army Book on the horizon, and after being inspired by Wayne Kemp of the Heelan Hammer podcast, I started building my own pair or Trebuchets. Here's the progress:

Friday 16 May 2014

Where did it all go wrong? #1

Greetings fellow wargamers. Over recent months playing games of Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy & Blood Bowl at my local club, I have been trying to spend a little time post-game analysing where I have failed in games I have lost, be it army selection, deployment, target priority or whatever. I must admit, a big part of this is about trying to convince myself that I am not as bad a player as I might think in the moments after a defeat, because if I can identify where I made mistakes, I can improve my game. 

At least I won't have to talk about Blood Bowl defeats in this series - so far at least!

So, this is part one of what I hope will be a series of posts that are realtively short and to the point, and I hope that both I and other players can learn something from my misfortune. Welcome to the Debriefing Room.


Game: Warhammer Fantasy
Armies: Warriors of Chaos vs Skaven
Points Limit: 2500
Scenario: The Watch Tower

This was my favourite combat of the battle! Double Giant for the win!


I lost when the game ended at the close of turn 5, immediately after the remaining models (13) in my unit of Chaos Warriors was removed by the Curse of the Horned Rat spell, leaving the unoccupied Watch Tower in the hands of the Vermin Lord that had cast the spell.


Ok, assuming the game would finish at the close of turn 5 like it did, there are three mistakes I have identified which could have changed the result of the game.

The first might well have shaken things up, and this relates to the demise of my Daemon Prince on turn 3. Quite simply, I moved him into a position where he could cast Cacophonic Choir and hit the greatest possible number of units, including a Doomwheel on 3 wounds which I expected to die when hit by 2d6 hits wounding on 4's with no armour save, and the Skaven Warlord's unit. I threw six dice at the spell, scored exactly 24 (without Miscasting), and my opponent had already used his Dispel Scroll earlier in the game. He threw seven dice to dispel and scored 24. Nuts.

The Doomwheel charged the Daemon Prince, I rolled a 1 for his Charmed Shield, and the Prince was toast. I hadn't planned at all for what the situation would be if the spell didn't go off, because I had max dice to use and there was no dispel scroll. What I should have done was either charge the Doomwheel in my own turn with the Daemon Prince and try and take off its last three wounds, or safer yet, fly to a position where the Doomwheel would be blocked entirely from charging or zapping the Daemon Prince due to intervening Skaven infantry blocks.

Second mistake. If I had remembered that I had a Dispel Scroll when my Chaos Warriors had first been targetted by  Curse of the Horned Rat (they were wiped out by the second casting of this spell), then the unit would have survived and I would have been holding the Watchtower at the end of the game. As it was, the second casting was cast with Irresistible Force, and that was that.

Third mistake. Even with forgetting to use the Dispel Scroll and losing the Warriors, if I had moved either or both the Battle Standard Bearer and Chaos Sorceror out of the Warrior unit and into the Watchtower in my turn 5 movement phase, I would have been in control of the tower when the battle ended.


From this battle I learned a few things:

When taking an important action like casting a major spell or declaring a critical charge, consider what the consequences of that action not going off might be. What happens if the spell fails, or the charge falls short? If you are lucky, nothing damaging, if you are less fortunate, you could lose a major unit which could start the snowball rolling that dooms your army to defeat.

Always remember the tricks and special rules in your army, like using a Dispel Scroll when you really need to stop that game changing spell (if you can), don't forget your Magic Items effects, and if you have to write yourself a little note or put an elastic band around your wrist to help you remember, do it. Whatever works to stop you forgetting something that later proves signifcant.

Lastly, consider when it might be beneficial to have your characters abandon their bunker units. This might be simply to move them to a position of safety, it could be to threaten an enemy unit that would otherwise be out of your units threat area, or like my game, it could win you the battle by providing more targets than the enemy can eliminate before the last few grains of sand finally run out. Units are often used to provide protection for character models, but sometimes it is safer to have your character leave the unit while the unit provides a suitable diversion.

So, that's it for #1 of "Where did it all go wrong?". I hope it's been an interesting read. I've tried to keep it simple, and avoid getting into a situation where "you had to be there" for it to make any sense, and who knows, the things I have learned might also help you as well the next time you find your battleline in a bit of a fix.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

P.S. For anyone who hasn't seen them, I recently 'finished' my human Blood Bowl team!