Saturday, 28 July 2012

Warhammer: My First Game of 6th Edition 40K

Last weekend I brought the grim darkness of the far future to my dining table for my first game of Warhammer 40,000 6th edition.
I wanted to keep things simple and let the new rules emerge naturally over the course of the game. So it was Eldar vs Space Wolves, 600 points in the Battleforce Recon mission.
It being a relatively small battlefield, the Farseer moved in close enough in his first turn to use one of the new psychic powers. “Puppet Master”, from the Telepathy discipline allows a psyker to take control of a target and make a shooting attack with it. It is also a "Focussed Witchfire" ability which means that if the psychic test is passed with a total of 5 or less, the Psyker can choose which member of the target unit he takes control of. In this instance, the Eldar Farseer commanded the plasma gun-toting marine to fire on his comrades, killing one.
It was a great start to the game and things were only going to get better. The Rangers fired on the Wolf Lord and Blood Claw pack from their high vantage point in the Basilica. They would have wounded the Lord twice (him being the closest model, had it not being for the “Look Out, Sir!” attempt by one of the young  marines. When a wound is allocated to one of your characters and there is another model from the same unit within 6", you are allowed a "Look Out, Sir!" attempt. On the roll of a 4+ you can take the wound on another model instead.

In the Space Wolf turn the Wolf Lord set off up the field and thanks to the new charge distance rolls, managed to get in close combat with the Eldar War Walker on his first turn! The new Overwatch rule allows the unit being charged to fire on the enemy in an attempt to slow the advance. Representing the desperate nature of this volley, the unit can only fire using Ballistic Skill 1. On this occasion, the Wolf Lord made it through unscathed and ploughed into the walker. This was also my first game with the Space Wolves and knowing the Wolf Lord had an oath to keep and a Saga to add to, I charged him in without fear of the consequences. While his wolf companion was killed, the Lord came out triumphant and set his sights on the Eldar Farseer. 
Characters can now issue challenges to a unit in close combat, to face an enemy character one-on-one and it was my intention for the Wolf Lord to issue such a challenge to the Farseer. 
Sadly, the challenge never happened as the Wolf Lord was brought down by mass shuriken catapult fire from the Dire Avengers using the Exarch’s Bladestorm power. 
The Eldar went on to win the game 7-6 and the greater number and variety of ways you can now score points is a great addition to 40K. Not only do you get points for destroyed units and capturing objectives, but also being the first to destroy an enemy unit (First Blood), kill the opposing player’s Warlord (Slay the Warlord) and by having a unit in the enemy's deployment at the end of the game (Linebreaker).
My first game of 6th edition Warhammer 40,000 was a fast and viscious affair and I can’t wait to try out the new rules in a bigger game.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Where do you draw The Line?

To say the games industry is dominated by shooters is an understatement. With the likes of Halo, Gears of War, Battlefield and Call of Duty selling hand over fist year on year, you could be forgiven for wanting something a little different. It may be surprising then, that I’m selling you another one. But bear with me.
On the face of things, Spec Ops: The Line is your basic third person military shooter. It looks well, plays fine, has decent squad mechanics. So far so what, right?
Where it differs from the pack is its themes and story and the way that story unfolds. This is one of the most gruelling games you’re likely to play and I don’t mean that it’s frustrating in any way. I mean that by the end you will have been put through an emotional wringer. Your family and friends will question the vacant stare in your eyes while those who have been there nod knowingly with a glance of shared sympathy, shame and regret.
Spec Ops: The Line is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, the same book on which Apocalypse Now is based and centres around a three man squad of soldiers sent into Dubai after a series of city-destroying sandstorms. Your character – Walker  – and his squad of Delta operatives are tasked with finding the US Army rescue party sent into evacuate the city and who have since fallen off the grid – the leader of which appears to now rule over the ruins of Dubai as some cult-like figure.

It all starts out normally enough with great visuals and natural interaction between the squad members. But it soon descends into darker territory. The game throws various moral choices your way and your actions begin to take their toll. Your squad mates will start to bicker amongst themselves and question your orders and you’ll be questioning yourself before this is through. One sequence has you raining deadly white phosphorous down on an area full of enemy combatants. As the cloud disappears, most other games would have had your squad high-fiving each other as the screen cuts to the next chapter. In Spec Ops, you have to walk through the aftermath of what you just did – soldiers burning and screaming for mercy at your feet.
It’s strong stuff and it’s a game that will remain with you long after you switch off the console. It reminds you how compelling games can be and it makes you wonder why more books aren’t adapted into videogames.
If you’d prefer your shooters with less gung-ho and more brains, Spec Ops: The Line comes highly recommended. I’ve been there. The nurse says I’m ok to talk about it now.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Warhammer - My Next Project

As any hobbiest will tell you, a wargamer’s thoughts are never far from his next project. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost interest in your current one, it’s just that Games Workshop have a tendency to keep passing shiny new models under our noses to tempt us and our wallets.
This is the reason I still have unpainted Eldar and Space Marines.
With the finish line in sight on my Space Wolves, my thoughts have turned to what’s next. Yes I want to get those Eldar and Space Marines finished and also get the last four Dreadfleet vessels done, but I can’t help thinking about something new.

The new Allies options available in the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is a brilliant way into a new army – allowing you to paint up a couple of units and try them out with one of your existing forces.
Now, I’ve always fancied making a Sisters of Battle army. I love the whole nuns with guns thing they have going on. I do think, however, they haven’t been given the same level of care by Games Workshop as their more popular armies. This isn’t reflected in the models, of course. They have some brilliant ones, but their Codex update was just two issues of White Dwarf, not a proper book release. And their models are still metal, seemingly only available in blister packs from the GW website. No Finecast, no spanking new releases.
It’s because of this that I’ve changed my initial idea. Instead of building on the one unit of Battle Sisters and Saint Celestine I’ve painted, I’ve decided to use them as allies instead. Initially, I’ll be using them with my Ultramarines, but in the long term, I’d like to do a Grey Knights army with whom Celestine and co. will march into battle.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Space Wolves aren’t finished yet and the Eldar have been pestering me to finish them for years. Keep an eye on my Geek’s Corner page for more pictures to be uploaded soon.

Friday, 6 July 2012


I was on a boat to Bruges and decided to go to the cinema. They were showing 3 films. The third escapes me, but the other two were Mama Mia and Taken.
I didn’t know anything really about Taken, except that Liam Neeson was in it. I like Liam Neeson and I hate Abba, so that was that sorted.
A couple of hours later I had a grin from ear to ear having just watched a terrific film.
Taken centres on a former CIA operative tracking down his daughter who has been kidnapped by Albanian's and fed into the human-trafficking system.
One of the joys of Taken is that that is all this film is about. His daughter is kidnapped, he heads off to get her back. That’s it. Many films would have heaped extra layers on it and twists and turns like the daughter turning out to be a Russian spy all along.
No. Taken goes from A – B, with the pedal to the floor and it is all the better for it.

Box office takings apparently stand at over $225m. I honestly didn't think it had done that well. It felt like a sleeper hit that grew through word of mouth and devleoped a cult following. But one thing is for certain, I haven't heard of anyone who's seen it and doesn't love it.

Nevertheless, I never expected a sequel. I still didn't believe it when rumours started to circulate. I began to come around when a few images were leaked onto the Internet, and then I accepted it when this grenade rolled into the room:

Boom! October 5th is the date when we get to see another round of Brian Mill's "particular set of skills". If it is half as good as the first one, it'll be something special.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

To Infinity and Beyond?

So game "journalists" with too much time on their hands have picked up on the acquisition, by Microsoft, of various domain names and they've singled out one in particular as an indication of what the next console may be called. Xbox8.

Wait. What? Haven't we missed a few steps here? Like Xbox 4 through 7?

Here's their thinking. It was rumoured at some point that the next gen console would be called Infinity. Kick the number 8 over - Virgin Media style - and you have the symbol for infinity. 

Hmmm. Before we get all Dan Brown on this, let's consider:

Microsoft have also bought up domain names for XboxPhone, XboxTablet and XboxLiveTV and with Internet Explorer coming to the console, this may all just be a build up for SmartGlass and other new features already announced at E3.

Then again, the next generation will be the eighth.

It's nice to think the Internet would just wait and see, but expect more and more rumours and leaks as the year goes on.