Monday, November 5, 2018

BatRep of the Week: Blood Angels vs Iyanden Eldar

Another battle with really good looking armies. Also two armies I own so ...

Monday, October 29, 2018

BatRep of the Week: New Orks vs. Khorne Daemons

Something new here at the Tower. I watch a fair number of battle reports for the games I like so I thought I would start sharing them here on the blog.

First up: the boys from Scotland rolled out one of the first reports using the new Ork codex and it's a lot of fun -and- it's not ridiculously long. Stompa incoming!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

40K Friday - Thursday Edition

It's been too quiet for too long so I thought I would start opening things up with some shots of the daemon army I've been working on - October > Halloween > Monsters - right? Here we have roughly 1000 points of Nurgle daemons. People aren't big on Soul Grinders right now due to the cost but outside of tournaments I think 3 of them will be a tough customer for a lot of armies. Om top of their general toughness, high wounds, and invulnerable save, Nurgle gives them a 5+ feel no pain as well. The Daemon Prince being nearby lets them re-roll 1's to hit and can take the Nurgle psychic power that let's him heal a d3 wounds so he improves their offense and their defense both.


This will likely be half of the army I'd like to play in the near future, combined with roughly 1000 points of Khorne daemons. I see this as an independent piece of the army that can stay back and shoot while holding objectives or can charge in alongside other units and soak up overwatch fire while inflicting some serious hurt. At the moment this is all theory but hopefully Blaster and I will try it out soon.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book Review: Cadia Stands

This is another of the "current events" books for Warhammer 40,000 similar to Dark Imperium ... which I realize I never posted a review of on the blog so that will be coming later in the week!

The focus this time is on the battle for Cadia which is assaulted and finally destroyed during the 13th Black Crusade which is one of the big new timeline advances that arrived with 40K 8th edition. Cadia has been the "cork in the bottle" of the Eye of Terror (home of many chaos space marines) and the home of the famous imperial guard Cadian Shock Troops. This book covers events during it's fall.

The Good
If you wanted more detail on what exactly happened with Cadia, how a bastion of the Imperium could fail, this books covers it though only from the imperial point of view.  Abaddon is doing things beyond just throwing troops and ships at it this time but there's not a lot of discussion of what he's doing, why he's doing it, and why it works - it's mainly about imperial forces reacting to the attack.

The Bad
At a big picture level, there's not enough ... big picture. The books is presented in chapters, and starts off with a fairly consistent narrative covering a few units of the imperial guard - mainly their leaders - but then about halfway through the story it just shoots off in a bunch of different directions. What seemed like main characters drop out of the story entirely or fade into the background. Some new characters pop up. Many of them die. Not only does it lack any point of view from the chaos side it loses the larger view from the imperial side so there's not much context for what's going on.

The whole thing just turns into a mess.

Near the end many units evacuate the planet so we spend some time with the crews of a spaceship or two. For the finale we have a group of survivors making a last stand on a completely different planet where they are annihilated by a force of chaos marines. 

To give it a happy ending (I guess???) those chaos marines are then annihilated by an imperial relief force in the final chapter.

After reading this I don't feel like I know that much more about the fall of Cadia and I don't feel like I got to know much more about that characters than i did when they started out.

It's just a mess. That's the best way I can describe it.

I hate to criticize without some kind of deeper feedback so ... how could it have been better? How could this book have given us more?

To me there are two basic approaches you could take with a topic like this - a big event in the setting that affects a huge number of people:

  • You give the big picture approach. Leaders. Plans. Strategies. Battles. Preferably for both sides.
  • You go personal story. This squad experiences this and this and this as they fight their way through the huge planetary assault. Add in some other characters that cross paths with them - a tank crew, a pilot, some civilians - and give us a first-person view of the fight. 
This book seemed like it was starting out at the personal level, then kind of went high command on us, then went back to the personal level but it spread itself out so much that it had no real impact - on me anyway. 

I think there was a narrative issue with the finale too as there is no reason that last fight could not have happened on Cadia itself! It's much weaker to spend multiple chapters fleeing the scene of the event only to have them die by chaos marine somewhere else than it would have been to keep the story focused on Cadia and the losing fight happening there. 

I think it's ridiculous to end with an imperial victory of any kind too. This is the story of the Imperium getting punched in the face by Abaddon and the powers of chaos. It should be dark and grim etc. - there are no significant victories for the good guys here according to the other lore we have. Let's not try and sugarcoat it here. 

An example of a 40K book that does this better in my opinion is Rynn's World. That story really begins with the Crimson Fists fortress monastery getting blown up during an ork invasion and focuses on a group of surviving marines fighting and sneaking their way across the planet to the main city and then assisting in its defense. Heck, I reviewed it six years ago and yes - there's an example of a much tighter effort on a similar subject. 

Even with this one, I won't say "don't get it" but I will say that it may not do the things you'd like it to do. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Dertosa, 215 BC

So Blaster and I have managed to restart our extremely long term Command and Colors Ancients series. This time we fought "Dertosa" which historically was a Carthaginian loss. Since the game plays fairly quickly we always play each scenario twice - once from each side. This time Blaster won both games so each side went 1-1 though that second game was really close as we both had 5 flags the last few turns and the win was to get 6.

The funny thing is we read through the "Cannae" scenario and were all fired up to fight one of the more famous battles of the ancient world but I walked away from the table and somehow the book got flipped over and we set up for Dertosa (the next battle in the book) instead. Ah well - it's probably good to have a warm-up before the bigger fight anyway.

I did not realize quite how long this had been going on til I looked back at the blog and find the first battle was in 2011 ... that is a really long time to still be playing through the first set of battles.

I suspect we will pick up the pace, considering how much we both like the game - especially now that I know.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Astro City TV Series

Well here's one I missed in my offline time: Astro City is wrapping up as a monthly book and is being seriously attempted as a TV show. Of all of the "modern"? "Retro"? -whatever - comics out there Astro City is my favorite and has been for a while. A decent take on it would make a great show.

Between this and the word that Wild Cards is also in development as a show from a year or two back there are two super-universes that I really like making their way into new channels. Cool!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A D&D Podcast for People Playing D&D, Not About People Playing D&D

I've been looking for a certain type of D&D podcast for a long time. So many of them now are people playing D&D - I don't need a ton of those myself but they do seem to be increasingly popular. What I am looking for is a podcast about D&D - news, reviews, rules debates, ideas for different things to try in play or approaches to common problems. Even if I don't agree with all - or any - of them it's good to hear people discussing these kinds of things about the games I like.

We used to get this kind of thing in Dragon Magazine - in fact I'd say that was it's primary purpose, outside of being a promotional vehicle for D&D itself.

When the web became a thing we saw more of this kind of thing migrate to websites, then forums, and now a lot of it turns up in Facebook groups - which are just terrible for presenting anything other than the "right now" of a discussion or exploration.

Podcasts are an interesting mix of forum and social media. They are definitely a snapshot of he "right now" discussion but they are persistent in that one can go back and listen to them even if they occurred before you were interested in that particular topic.

This is the current state of things in say Warhammer 40,000 podcasts, or Age of Sigmar, or Kings of War etc. There are the news and reviews type podcasts which focus on the game itself and what's happening right now, then there are battle reports which are people actually playing the game. Two different approaches, both pretty popular, and often both are done by some of the same people. The discussion happens on a podcast while the batreps tend to happen in a YouTube video.

So why is it so  hard to get this for D&D these days? Why do we have so many "battle report/actual play" casts and so few shows about the game?

Pathfinder has Know Direction. Star Wars has Order 66. D&D 4E had Radio Free Hommlett. Dungeon Crawl Classics has Spellburn, Mutant Crawl Classics has Glowburn. Savage Rifts has the Murderhobo Show. Savage Worlds has multiple shows of this type.

But the biggest RPG in the world has very few of them.

  • There's the official D&D podcast, Dragon Talk. It's even more "meta" than I am looking for as it tends to talk about the game as a whole rather than the game as something that is played. 
  • There's Radio Free Borderlands which is nice because it's a) short and b) focused on news which keeps it from wandering all over the place. This is one of my weekly staples now.
  • Finally there is Heroes Rise which is a fairly new show just starting up last fall. It's tied to the people who do Priority One which is a Star Trek Online show that's been going for years. That means it has decent production values, a framework to help with structure, an d experience behind it. It is probably the best example of what I am looking for It runs an hour or less each week and has had a consistent production schedule right from the beginning. 
So while I do not know why they are so rare I have found 3 shows that pretty much cover what I am looking for. Heroes Rise, in particular, is pretty close to what I really want. 

That said - there's always room for more, so if you know of one that fits into this category please pass it along.