Friday, July 30, 2010

Warhammer Quest

Note: This is a post I did on Arcadia Prime a while back, but since it applies to the fantasy side of things as well, I thought I'd repost it here.

A big problem these days is that in my old age I'm married with a 18-month-old daughter. Getting to the FLGS is a 20 minute drive. At best I get together with gaming friends maybe once a month.   These are not the days of college/grad school where practically every weekend I could wargame, participate in an regular RPG, try out lots of other games etc. But there are times when I get together with friends for an evening, etc.-This is an opportunity for board games. Problem is, for the most part, these people aren't really into games like 40k or WFB--or rather, one person might be, but their SO is not.  While the term "gamer geek" might describe many of my friends, it doesn't necessarily describe their wives.

What is needed is a game that bridges the gap--a game that satisfies the sci-fi/fantasy urges of the geeks while being tolerable to the non-geeks. In order to work for a mixed group, what would such a game need?
  • 1. (Painted) Miniatures. A big attraction for people who are normally indifferent to this stuff is the painted miniatures. I can't count the number of times people who I know aren't remotely interested the games nonetheless fawn over the miniatures I've painted, never having seen anything like them before. If the miniatures themselves attract their interest, they may stay interested long enough to play the game.
  • 2. Simple rules. It must be simple enough that anyone can learn to play very quickly. A downside to games like WFB and 40k is its complexity. For the geeks, they are so enthralled by the background that they'll put up with the rules complexities long enough to learn them. Someone not already invested in the background will have a shorter attention span. The sooner they are having fun, the better.
  • 3. Cooperative gameplay. Competition can be fun, but it can deter new players. Even if the rules are simple, a player who is new to both the game and the genre will probably feel intimidated, assuming that the uber-geeks playing the game will trounce them because they have so much more experience/knowledge of the game and genre.
  • 4. Quick gameplay. You need to be able to play a complete game in a few hours, even with distractions. It needs to be "light" enough that the game can continue if one person is taken away for a few minutes--getting drinks, using the bathroom, checking on the babysitter, etc.
A game that fulfills many of these requirements is one that I would like to see come back: Warhammer Quest.It had miniatures, simple rules (with potential for more advanced rules), cooperative and quick gameplay. New players even could play the game without realizing that they are (*gasp*) playing an RPG. If described to a skeptical new player that it's a cooperative board game rather than a "dungeon crawl roleplaying game", they may be more amenable to giving it a try. Once they've had fun, then you can break the news of what they were really playing.

Back in the day when Warhammer first came out (1995), I was focused more on 40k and Space Marine (Epic 40k), and less interested in the fantasy side, and board games in general. So I passed on it. But a while back, in looking over some old White Dwarfs of mine, I found myself wishing I had gotten it. With time more at a premium nowadays, I'm wishing it would return. I'm wondering (hoping?) if Space Hulk sells well, that it might spur GW into bringing back some of its other games, if only in limited editions. If Warhammer Quest comes back, I'll be sure to get it this time.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dire Wolves

 I always thought that Dire Wolves would be a cool addition to my Vampire Counts army, but I was less than impressed with the Vampire Counts Dire Wolves models.  The skeletal, corpse-like wolves just don't really appeal to me.  Then I saw this post on the Iron Wolves blog.  If he can use the Chaos Warhounds to represent Fenrisian Wolves (with some greenstuff adjustments), I can do the same thing to represent Dire Wolves!

Hmmm...after some thought and exploring of the GW online store, I came across these:
It's a Warhammer bitz pack, and comes with five wolves.  I'm going to assume the worst and imagine that all five wolves are the same pose.  The upsides are: they definitely look more wolf-like than the warhounds do, they require no conversion work at all, and they are marginally cheaper than the warhounds.  The downside is that they may end up all looking the same (if they're the same pose, but perhaps I could try some pose conversions), and the miniatures themselves are on the old side, and look more "cartoony" than the more modern miniatures.  This will require more thought...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Test Miniatures

I recently did up a few test miniatures to try out paint schemes for some of my fantasy miniatures. I think they came out pretty well for a first attempt:
Skaven Clanrat

Vampire Counts Skeleton Warrior

Grave Guard 

Empire spearman from Averland

Friday, July 23, 2010

Starting the Collection

In the early days (i.e. 1987-1989) I had placed all my miniatures orders directly from Games Workshop in the UK, but to be blunt, I didn't know what I was doing.  I had only the vaguest notions of the Warhammer world and the armies that fought in it, so I just bought miniatures that appealed to me, with little thought of army building per se.

So I ended up with a smattering of Chaos Warriors, some High Elves, some Orcs, and a really cool unit of Wood Elves called "Skarloc's Wood Elf Archers."
Games Workshop (or rather, Citadel Miniatures) did not have a very developed line of paints yet, and in any case I didn't have much access to buy those that they had, so I reverted to simply using the model paints that I was used to for making plastic model kits.  These were primarily Testors paints and Testors Model Master paints, which were oil based enamels, which required thinner.  I can't believe I put up with that, and am definitely thankful for the acrylic paints of today.
Here's the unit as they are today--they've already undergone multiple paint jobs, as my skills improved much in the early years with practice (and have long since plateaued). I think they're about due for another overhaul though.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Warhammer Siege

Relatively soon after Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd edition came out, a supplement called Warhammer Siege was released.  It detailed some rather complex rules to handle sieges in Warhammer.  (On the other hand, the 3rd edition rules were complex already, so by comparison Warhammer Siege wasn't much different)

In trying it out, while I had read the sample scenario at the back of the book and thought it was interesting, I quickly dismissed it as not epic enough.  We had to try a HUGE EPIC BATTLE (classic mistake).  No minor siege of an insignificant keep would this be, where we could learn the rules a little bit at a time and have a clue about what we were doing.  Rather, it would be the assault upon a High Elf city by a huge Evil Army, consisting of Chaos, Orcs & Goblins, Dark Elves, you name it. 
We used the "Mighty Fortress" that Citadel Miniatures had recently released, a neat styrofoam castle that has stood up to the test of time.

Here's mine, 22 years old, and still in great shape.

So we had the battle.  The evil horde forms up outside the city, while the defenders stand guard on the ramparts, stoically watching their approach.  The evil forces prepared for a long siege of digging sapper's trenches, tunnels to undermine the walls, and battering at the walls with their siege engines.

Turn One.  The evil stone thrower threw its first stone at the city wall, aiming for the main gates.  The stone impacted right on target, and the entire gate house section collapsed, completely breaching the wall.


Apparently we underestimated the power of the stone thrower--we didn't want a wussy one in this "epic" battle, so we took a huge one.  And it practically vaporized the castle.

With the gatehouse breached (read: blown away), the Chaos Warrior Cavalry charged forwards, the rest of the evil army swarming to follow.  Out of the breach the High Elf Cavalry charged to meet them.  Very quickly, however, we determined that the forces of good had little chance to survive, as they were outnumbered by a huge margin and effectively had no defensive advantage anymore.  After a few turns of horrendous carnage we called it a day.

We barely scratched the surface of the siege rules during the game, but we had fun nonetheless.  The next time I did a siege I would have to be a little more reserved concerning the army size...

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Miniatures Queue

Over at Arcadia Prime I have up a "Miniatures Queue" listing the amount of miniatures I have left to paint.

Now that I've created this new blog,  I've made some changes to the Miniatures Queue on Arcadia Prime to reflect the addition of fantasy miniatures that I've added to my task list.  I've also added the Queue here as well.

I've split up the Miniatures Queue into subdivisions: 40k, Warhammer, LotR, Battlefleet Gothic, and Space Hulk.  I've left out Epic (for now), because that would truly make things scary.

The queue will probably spike several times in the near future as I get more organized and identify more miniatures I want to paint (and possibly make some ill-advised impulse purchases).

I've removed projects such as terrain projects and other scratchbuilt ideas from the queue.  I do have lots of ideas, but they frequently change.  As the queue is supposed to be a measure of mountain of miniatures I'm trying to reduce, scratchbuilt/terrain projects don't really apply here.

So here's the new queue, as of today:

Warhammer 40k:185
Lord of the Rings:147
Space Hulk:38
Battlefleet Gothic:3

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Warhammer Rulebook

When I made the decision to buy the Warhammer Rulebook, I was originally just going to get the main one, and I made an argument on Arcadia Prime that it was worth the extra cash. But when it came time to actually buy it, I went a little crazy and went for the collector's edition instead.  I'll probably be rationalizing for a long time trying to justify that decision. 
Well, it arrived in the mail right on Friday, July 9, so I decided to do a post about my impressions of it.  First off, it's heavy.  I tried weighing it on a small scale, and after the scale went over 7 lbs it begged  for no more.  So the book is big.  On the GW website they describe is as a "massive grimoire", and it certainly gives that impression.  If you lug this thing around, people will know you mean business.

Heh, my desk lamp shining nearby kind of gives the impression of a holy light shining down upon it...

Here's the book next to my 3rd edition rulebook (which is about the size of the 7th edition rulebook).  The more I think about it though, "book" doesn't really do it justice.  "Tome" is better, and I think "grimoire" does suit it nicely.

The covers are made of a debossed material that feels a lot like leather--either way, it's looks and feels great, and it just oozes quality.  The brass hammer/comet thing on the cover is a nice touch, and looks somewhat antique as well, which just adds to the tome's coolness. The pages are kept shut by a brass clip--it took me a while to get it off, as I was trying to be gentle with it so as not to damage anything.  It turned out it was just stuck to the cover--once I got it off, it slips on and off with no trouble at all, while still remaining snug.

Whew, it looks like I ordered just in time!

The inside is filled with some fantastic art.  The pages are made of thick, high quality parchment paper as advertised, which also adds to the sheer massiveness of the tome.
Some cool High Elf concept art by the master Jes Goodwin.
Flipping through it, it's filled with tons of material, and I haven't even scratched the surface yet, so I don't have much to say about its insides.  But with time I plan on reading the thing and make sure I get the most out of it.

In the meantime it can assume a place of honor on my bookshelf next to some other important tomes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Early Days

After receiving the catalog from Games Workshop, showing their Chaos Warriors, I remember seeing ad for two publications, the gaming magazine White Dwarf and the wargame, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, of which the 3rd edition had just gone on sale.

There weren't all the many hobby stores in my area--the nearest one, Al's Hobbies, was within walking distance of my house, but was almost entirely devoted to model railroading.  The second one was a Hobbytown, half an hour away.  They mostly dealt with plastic model kits and RC.  Neither one had any miniatures--rather, the Hobbytown did, but it was a pathetically small selection of Ral Partha miniatures for D&D. 

Now with an eye to look for Warhammer-related stuff, I went to the hobby stores.   The Hobbytown had some White Dwarf Magazines, so I bought all the ones I could get my hands on (issues #101-103).  They had ads for the various games that were in productions, such as Bloodbowl, Dark Future, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Adeptus Titanicus, etc.  Awesome looking stuff.  Unfortunately the White Dwarfs were all that Hobbytown had.

I headed over to Al's Hobbies just to see--the store was very small, and I knew they didn't carry any miniatures...but lo and behold, they had the Warhammer 3rd edition rulebook.  I duly paid the whopping $34.95 for it and brought it home...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In Ages Past...

With the release of Warhammer 8th edition today, I thought I would use it for the inaugural date of my new fantasy-dedicated blog, Abandon All Hope (of ever finishing painting all my miniatures).  For this first post I thought I would start with a little history of how I got into the miniatures hobby in the first place...

A.D. 1987
Long ago, before many of the present generation of gamers was born, I was a big fan of the Lone Wolf series of role-playing adventure game books by Joe Dever.  I still am, and if you haven't read them, I highly recommend them.  Back then, the series was only a dozen or so books, and when I saw a companion book to the series, I immediately picked it up.

The book, although relatively short at 96 pages, contained a wealth of background material on the series, along with sundry other things that piqued my interest.  One section in particular caught my eye.

I had always been into model building, but up to this point it was limited to model aircraft and ships.  I had always been interested in fantasy, primarily the works of Tolkien, but as far as I knew, there was little outlet for this sort of thing.  Well, I had seen Ral Partha miniatures for D&D, but I wasn't too impressed.  I wasn't much into D&D, rather, my interest was in MERP & Rolemaster, so I had little use for D&D miniatures.  But here was a neat diorama of miniatures representing a giak army assaulting a fortress, coupled with instructions on how to model the castle itself.

Very interested, I focused on the little note at bottom.
I dashed off a note of inquiry to this strange company I'd never heard of, asking about their products. Within a few weeks (the mail had to go across the pond and back) I got a response which included a couple of printed sheets containing pictures of the latest releases, mainly some dudes called "Chaos Warriors."  Who just looked totally badass. They even had names, such as:
Strok'nor Macekiller

Balspew Flamesword


This guy in particular took several attempts to order him, as he was constantly sold out--no surprise, the guy rocks.  But I finally got him.  He's currently stripped of paint because I had painted him over and over again so much that the layers became so thick that most of the detail was obscured.

As I began to learn more about Citadel Miniatures and their various products, I also heard about this game called Warhammer Fantasy Battle.  Soon I would have to check that out...