Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Genestealer Cults Kill Team: Metamorphs and Purestrains painting

To paint the more genestealer looking members of the Kill Team for the round robin games we are playing locally, I delved in to my very old paint pots. I dug out the first generation inks (purple and blue) from those paints which have aged very very well considering how many years have passed since I bought them. 

After applying a base coat in ultramarine blue and worm purple (yes, I still have those paints too!), I inked them over with the respective coloured inks. After allowing to dry, I went over the ridges and exposed regions with some brighter blue and purple tones to bring out the features a bit more. The finishing was done with the claws using a two toned vanilla and off-white scheme to create the final feel for the creatures. Otherwise, the human parts broadly followed the approach I had for the neophytes

Job done, and they look very respectable on the tabletop!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Genestealer Cults Kill Team: Neophyte Painting

Today a painting update on the Genestealer Cults Kill Team that I assembled and painted up for our mini round robin tournament that we are currently having. I am using my 30k Alpha Legion for this tournament, so have loaned the Genestealer Cults to a friend for this tournament. And they're doing rather well, having wiped out my Alphas once already.

These are the bread and butter (and expendable tar pits) of the Kill Team plus two heavy weapons -- the Neophytes. As can be seen, there are no conversions implemented here -- they are straight out of the box assembled and painted.

For the painting, I wanted to try to emulate some of the schemes shown inside the covers of the codex. The orange jump suits coupled with the grey body armour and the classical blue and purple colours of the genestealer inheritance. That hardest bit was doing the skin tones. Some of them feature dappled scalps that looks almost chimeric in nature. Others have more smooth, yet still noticeably purple tints to their skin. The edging took a long while to paint as well, but I think it was worth the investment in time.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Poll Results on Running a 30k Tournament

One week ago, I asked my readers and the community about the possibility of running a Horus Heresy / 30k Tournament locally. To say that I've been blown away by the support out there for this idea would be an understatement.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time out to send me an email (or several), fill in the polls that I put up, and made a comment on Warpstone Flux here. It is genuinely appreciated.

As of this point in time, I have concluded that this idea is a "go-er" and can succeed. Accordingly, I have begun getting quotes and negotiating with venues for costs, etc. I will update folks about this later in the week once those talks have all been done. Suffice to say that I'm excited about this prospect and I think that we categorically can run a tournament with minimal fuss. 

What I wanted to to in this blog post was take a wide-field view of the poll results that I asked people to comment on. I had a good number of results from this which is a nice snapshot of community feelings for this kind of event for me. 

Entry Fee.
Firstly, with regard to costs. I would have to charge a fee to cover the venue, insurance, and new scenery purchases (and new gaming tables too). So the first question was about what the maximum price should be.
* Nobody wanted to be charged GBP100. That's understandable really.
* Half of respondents to this question were happy with up to GBP75. This is interesting. I think it shows that many 30k gamers are probably more mature (meaning more disposable income) than the average 40k player perhaps?
* The majority though suggested that up to GBP50 would be fine.
* Less said it would need to be GBP40 and below.

Overall then, I will try to keep the tournament to GBP50 per person for the entry fee.

Whilst a few people wanted an upper end venue (unique, national stage level venue), the vast and overwhelming majority thought that a mid-range venue (hotels, etc.) would be ideal, with only 1 person wanting a lower end venue (church halls and the like). Having contacted several upper end venues, I'm actually glad the majority of people want a bit lower than that just on the basis of costs. Although hotels are pricey enough, they are nowhere near the level of football stadia and the like. I'm currently talking with the University of Hull about costs, etc. I will report back on this later this week I hope.

There was 55/45 split between a 2 day event and a 1 day event. Personally, I don't mind either. But for a HH tournament with more than 12 players, I think that a 2 day event would be better. So I'll try to do that. But if the cost takes the entry fee above GBP50 (as above), then maybe we'd start out with a one day event instead.

Army Lists.
There were two questions here. One surrounding the type of build that should be allowed, and one about the points value that should be imposed.

Only a couple of people said unbound lists would be okay. Hence I think we'll write off that idea instantly. My personal view is that it can lead to vast imbalances.

Many people suggested only one faction (or legion) would be ideal. I can see why as it solves a lot of balance problems without really trying.

A large number of people said that a Lords of War choice should be allowed. And I do agree -- 30k is a great place for them. But they would have to be a certain fraction (say 25%) of the total points value.

Even more people wanted Primarchs! Who am I to disagree? I don't. Because playing with Primarchs is awesome and great fun too.

What surprised me was the number of people who said that having one ally would be okay. I'm on the fence about this as I can see it both ways. A single faction would solve balancing problems to a large extent. Some allied lists could be very powerful. But then again, having some allies would be fluffy and enable things like the mechanicum or imperial army to be represented alongside the legions. That is always fluffy and fun. I am therefore inclined to have up to one single allied detachment and trust to the community that they'll not try to build (and abuse) death star type formations. After all, 30k does reward fluffy builds already, so that's probably not too much of an issue. And clearly for Word Bearers, daemonic allies are almost a given. However, we could always restrict powerful builds by insisting that no named daemons can be taken (I'm thinking of Fateweaver and Be'Lakor in particular here). And no summoning either to keep it points balanced. As with Lords of War, there will probably be a maximum percentage of points allocated to allies, say 20% to 25%. 

Speaking of points, the general consensus will be of no surprise to many: a higher points limit should be used in 30k compared to 40k. However, there is a trade off here in terms of getting games (say, of 5 turns each) completed in a reasonable time limit (say, 2.5 hours per game) … and even getting an army painted up (or assembled) in time. The majority voted between 2000, 2250 and 2500 points per side. I don't mind any of these points values. Perhaps 2250 is "about right" then for the trade off described above.

At 2250 points, 20% would correspond to 450 points and 25% to 563 points. The former is too small for certain primarchs, so Lords of War would have to be 25% at this points level. The latter is reasonable for all of primarchs, Lords of War (short of titans!) and allies together. 

The vast majority of people wanted some kind of sportsmanship scoring to be part of the final reckoning for the tournament. As did people who wanted painting, and a distinct painting award. Personally, I think all three are fine to include. Horus Heresy tends to be more about participation than it is about winning at all costs. If balanced nicely, then there's no reason to not have painting and sportsmanship involved for determination of the overall winners as some component of the final scoring system. I personally find Horus Heresy players are much less "win at all costs", but they do provide a very competitive game regardless of all other considerations. I personally think this is due to the demographic -- most more mature folks compared to other types of tournament. Plus it encourages people to play well together and have a good time. Let alone providing more photogenic images for everyone to take if folks bring painted armies along.

Most people wanted 12 or more players. I think 10 or 12 is about the lowest that I could do whilst maintaining financial sense. There were a good number who wanted over 24 as well. I think that whilst this initial tournament is in the category of a "go-er", I couldn't handle 24 or more players at this stage due to the preparation it would require. Hence that is now a goal for the future. This initial event will be restricted to about 20 or 22 players at the most … purely for my sanity and finances. We can build up to larger events later. Plus, that kind of number means most people can at least interact with each other and say hello, etc., in some meaningful way.

Dates and Days.
In terms of the dates, there were a spread of preferences between late spring, summer and autumn in the UK. To be honest, I'd like to do a tournament before the summer holidays kick in. This doesn't mean that another one could not happen later on either though. Hence, one in the autumn as well could easily be undertaken I believe.

Most people would find it tough to play on Fridays or weekdays though. So I think we're aiming for Saturdays and Sundays here!

I'm currently negotiating dates and costs with the University of Hull and will update on this later this week I hope. At that stage, we will make a formal announcement and open registrations if everything goes well.

Numbers attending is my chief worry. Particularly in terms of finances. If less than 10 people register or attend, its not going to be very successful financially for me. Although most said that they couldn't attend (and freely admitted to living way outside the UK), many have indicated to me that really REALLY want to attend and would be willing to travel a long way to do so (modulo family commitments, of course). I'm genuinely enthused by your support. And ultimately, it is the people emailing me, messaging me, and posting comments here on the blog that has encouraged me to treat this idea with all seriousness and try to make it a reality.

Hence, as above, we're now at the stage of negotiating with venues, setting costs and determining finances.

...Plus, I may have invested in a Death World terrain set already over the weekend which will come in handy whether or not the tournament happens…!

Keep the comments and messages / emails rolling in if you are thinking about attending; or just to send some encouragement my way. I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Gaming Boards at Tournaments

A very long time ago, I once got asked to describe what a "typical" gaming board looked like at a tournament for one of my friends who was thinking about going to their first tournament.

I suspect that my answer might be similar to yours in this situation. 

A uniformly green mat or green velvet sheet draped on top of a 4ft by 6ft table. There are 4 buildings -- they are ruins. There's also a copse of trees. There might be some walls and if you're lucky: a hill in the middle. That's about what you can expect. And they'll all mismatch. One of the buildings will be from Warhammer Fantasy Battle. The next from 40k. And the other two from somewhere else -- I've no idea. Hopefully they'll be at the right scale for 28mm though. 

Or at least, that was my experience of tournaments at the time. 

Fast forward a bit, and I was attending a tournament in Brisbane where this was slowly becoming less true and such mismatches decreasing in regularity. I remember in particular that there was one table that really stood out for me. It had a lot of MUSHROOMS everywhere. Big ones. Small ones. Clusters of them on MDF sheets. Things to hide behind and claim quality cover saves from. Clusters of them to place an objective behind and sit on it for almost all of the game if I wanted to. The enemy would have to come to me if they wanted it. It looked so cool that I deliberately asked the tournament organiser if I could have a game on it -- they said sure! And so one of my 5 games was held on that board and I loved it -- the whole board what solidly cohesive. 

On reflection, I think the thing that stood out for me was the theme of the board. It had a tale to it. It represented a planet where fungi were the dominant life form and somewhere that was obviously not Earth-like in nature. 

Since then, I found multiple other themed boards at various tournaments -- particularly at conventions at the GenCon level. They range from Eldar wraith bone boards, through to necron green-glow eerie boards and chaos boards. Some were based on MDF with layers of styrene foam on top to create channels and valleys. Others were just a blank canvas, but with highly tailored individual scenery bits strategically placed. Plus a good mixture of line-of-sight blocking terrain coupled with terrain that can be interacted with. 

This thought has long stayed with me. When I got around to designing not just custom terrain items, but entire boards (see picture above), I wanted to go themed. An entire board that looked like it gels with all the components present -- as opposed to just a green sheet on a table with a few out of place looking buildings. To me, this is the key aspect of gaming board design -- not just a cluster of odd scenery items on a board, but one that looks unified and provides a good experience. Yes -- they can have four buildings, no problems. But those buildings need to look like they belong there at some level. And the buildings should be from the same source as much as possible. This is what I wanted with my Martian board and I paired this up with some appropriately painted scenery that ultimately resulted in something that was high quality for all concerned.

And, with the prospect of running a tournament in the pipeline, I have returned to these thoughts for creating a number of gaming boards. I already have invested in a number of different pieces of kit over the years, but the opportunity to design several from scratch and re-adapt others is really re-invigorating my creative energies. That said, I no longer have the time and space (due to children) to design and build MDF plus styrene 4ft x 6ft boards from scratch any longer. So I will be investing in more mouse-mat boards as the basis. What will ultimately create the unified feeling for these boards is what I then do with them. A mouse mat board is just the start. Will it have burnt-out buildings? Will it be a war zone? What about a death world? Or an Eldar maiden world? All these thoughts and more are currently burning around my mind and I'm looking in to how to fully theme a gaming board from the basis of a detailed mouse mat board. More on this at a later date!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Views on 8th Edition Rumours

Like many other people, I read with interest the rumours concerning the next edition of the Warhammer 40,000 core rule book. Being a bit of an old timer (meaning I've been playing since Rogue Trader days), I thought that I would offer up some views on the rumours and what my take on them is.

(1) Armour save modifiers. In the current rule book, every miniature gets a fixed saving throw to represent how good their armour is. Some weapons are designed to bypass almost any armour at close enough range (plasma and melta all have a low AP for instance). This works well, as armour should stop some shot types but not others and the system is relatively simple. On the other hand, the proposal to modify saving throws based on the weapon used is an old idea that's been done before. Sure, it works nicely. Until a new release comes along that says you can never alter my saving throw. And then power creep might well happen. Furthermore, this rules change favours cheap horse style armies. Why take space marines any more if they only get a 5+ save from bolt gun rounds when you could just have more wounds by taking more irks or tyranids? In short: I don't like this change even if it might make some narrative sense to some people.

Also "This topic comes up almost as often as Sisters of Battle… so we're going to bring them back" -- did you interpret that to mean sisters of battle are being brought back as well?!

(2) Variable movement rates. This is bad. It makes the current system more complicated than it needs to be. Currently it is 6 inch or 12 inch moves for almost everything-- nice and simple. I really don't want to have to remember five or eight or twelve different movement rates and try to think about how fast my opponent will be moving in their next turn. Getting rid of movement characteristics was a good thing to my mind. This complexifies things and risks making the game slower -- at least at first. In short: I don't like this either.

(3) Striking first if you charge in to combat. Charging is already rewarded through bonus attacks. That said, being able to strike first due to charging is a very nice idea and one that I do not think will slow the game down. I am all for this one as it'll bring about new tactics that I think makes more sense. The worry for me here is what it'll do to 30k.

(4) Different ways to play. Looks like an Age of Sigmar import. This is actually all good in my opinion though. I would encourage folks to look up the Age of Sigmar system for the ways that can be played. I actually like it.

(5) Morale. The proposal of moving to a "kill more squad members if you lose" is okay and feels like what happens to fearless or daemon units. I can't quit tell if units are still going to be fleeing or not though. I hope fleeing still happens as it's fluffy!

(6) Command points. Urgh. A messy way to solve the mess of formations being introduced outside of Apocalypse about a decade ago. It will work in the short term and until codex creep happens. Or until a big bonus of rerolling everything happens. It has the potential to be game breaking if done badly with the bonuses getting out of hand. I'll take a wait and see approach for this one overall.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Update on the Possible HH Tournament

Further Update.
Further to the earlier post today and the initial one yesterday about arranging a possible Horus Heresy Tournament, I've been getting a few more quotes in -- this time from providers who are more in the mid-tier rather than in the upper ends of what is possible. 

The one that stands out the most to me from both a practical and a financial point of view is from the University of Hull. The University is cheaper than the apex locations (like KCOM stadium and The Deep), but still significantly more than a church hall would be. 

The reality of the quote that I obtained is that I could offer ticket prices in the region of 40 to 50 pounds (although probably more like 50 pounds once other considerations are factored in). Importantly, this amount would cover a TWO DAY event. However, it means that I would make a short term loss on the event. I could claim that loss back very readily by running a second tournament later in the year though, assuming this one works out well enough. That's my problem and not yours though dear reader!

The University of Hull has a number of things going for it. Firstly: Free Parking on site during the weekend (at the owner's risk, of course). The support offered by the University is comparable to that of a dedicated hotel team. The staff are well-used to handling wedding receptions, funeral wakes, concerts, and everything in between. Hence we would be very secure and well looked after in many regards. 

For those of you not familiar with the area, the University is offset from the city centre (as defined by the railway station) by about a 5 minute drive, traffic dependant (regular bus services every 10 to 15 mins from the city centre connect it up to the city very well indeed). It is located in a pleasant, leafy suburb of the north part of the city. There are nearby food outlets contained both on and off the university campus that would be fine for such a tournament. Overnight accommodation can readily be found nearby or in the city centre itself.

There would still be undergraduate students around the place though (including perhaps players themselves!), but we would be located on the first floor of a recently refurbished entertainment building on the campus and therefore away from the centre of the action. 

I've been offered a number of dates. The most plausible is May 13th and 14th. That's slightly sooner that I would have hoped for, but later in May is a public holiday weekend in England which makes things tougher (plus not wanting to clash with the Coventry event either). I could potentially negotiate for June though. 

So. There it is. May 13th and 14th 2017, all day on both days for a 5 round tournament of 30k. Would people be able to make it if I went ahead??? (or delay till later in the year?). 

(aside: this tournament idea is going to need a name soon if it gets any more real! suggestions welcome! The polls on the right hand side are still open for use until next week, please fill them in if you've not already done so. Additionally, send me emails -- -- or leave comments! I'm on the cusp of making this a reality now...)
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