Friday, May 24, 2013

40K Friday Returns!

Yes I'm trying to drive some 40K action again here at home. I want to plant the seed before summer vacation hits for the Apprentices and they get wrapped up in everything else. With the "year long campaign" sitting idle since February my grand plans are in tatters but there is still hope. Playing 40K seems to drive interest in painting 40K so I'm hoping some regular games will spur that a little bit. Also, Apprentice Blaster will be on a different schedule with us this summer, a more evenly-spaced schedule, which should give us time to get in more games, whether it's 40K or anything else. The current state of 40K on our home planet:

Apprentice Red has Orks and Necrons

  • His Orks are about 90% built and about 50% painted so he's not in bad shape. He was running mostly footsloggers but I gave him some custom battlewagons (that I replaced with some even more custom battlewagons) and with those and his trukks now he could run Mechanized Death if he wanted too. His main support choices are deff koptas and kannons with a new batch of lootas built now as well. What he really needs now are more boyz, plus we have plans to make some custom meganobz and some more of my scratchbuilt killa kans to really build out his options. 
  • His Necrons are still developing. he has plenty of warriors, all painted, plus one of the newer HQ's plus some destroyers (painted) and a monolith (painted) and he picked up a ghost ark back at Christmas but has not finished it yet. Oh and wraiths. He has 3, built but not painted, and I already hate them. Definitely the most annoying unit in his army. Ghost arks seem to be pretty popular right now so he could use more of them and some of the other vehicles, but those are the priciest things to add so it will take some time.

Apprentice Blaster has Space Wolves and Eldar
  • His Space Wolves are pretty solid. His core is Grey Hunters(footsloggers) and a big mob of Blood Claws that ride to battle in a Land Raider Crusader led by a Wolf Priest and it's a pretty strong force when it hits. He also has the obligatory long fangs, who usually park next to a Razorback (painted) with long range guns for extra shooting power. He also has two dreads that sometime make an appearance (painted) and one predator that shows up sometimes too. He has added another predator and a vindicator but they are not even built yet,. He has recently added some bikes (painted) too. He has a pretty solid standard tactic worked out where the Fangs+RB park at the back, the Hunters + Dreads (if any) + Termies (if any) footslog forward, and the LR full of Blood Claws and the bikes and the Thunderwolves (if any) surge flat-out towards the other side. I've only seen it fail when I hit them with the Deathwing army and I'm not sure I could pull it off again with his added forces. His biggest need is to finish painting his marines.
  • The Eldar are still pretty new to him and he's only played them once in a small battle. He has the basics: Avatar, Farseer, Dire Avengers, Guardians, some jet bikes, Harlequins, a Wraithlord, a full complement of Dark Reapers, and just added a pair of Falcons and a Wave Serpent. So what was a footdar force just got fairly mobile. I've been hearing bad thins about Eldar vehicles with 6th edition, but with a new codex on the way later this year I suspect that will all get resolved. Most of it is built, but not much of it is painted so he has his brushwork cut out for him.
Apprentice Who has played a few times but does not have his own army yet. He did participate in a figure painting contest up at the FLGS and did pretty well for never having done it before so it may be time to get him started. He has shown a strong interest in the Chaos armies, but I'm still a little reluctant to set him up with those as it's tough to explain to grandma what he means when he says he likes "Chaos Demons" and he is not shy about telling anyone and everyone all about his latest obsession.  About the only army we do not have represented in the house is Tyranids, so I'm considering a push towards those since he likes big monsters. I have a pretty nice Dark Angel force with a lot of bikes but he just does not seem interested in space marines - unless they're Chaos marines, which brings the thing full circle. More to come on this. 

As for me? I have too many damn armies even after shedding a whole bunch to get the boys set up - but they are mostly painted!
  • Howling Griffons - Drop Pod army - the oldest, veterans of 1st-5th edition battles, not yet tried in 6th
  • Crimson Fists - Mechanized army - started in 3rd edition, still adding on here and there. I started thes guys originally because the quartered paint scheme of the griffs was a pain to paint and I wanted to get them done faster. 15 years later I'm still adding to it.
  • Imperial Fists - Deatwing all-temrinator army - acquired last year already painted, thank god. It was a nice big army but I've still felt the need to add some pieces to it.
  • Dark Angel Ravenwing army - so did I decide to paint them all yellow to match up with the Fists I got? NO! Because the guys in the new starter box have a bunch of feathers and wings and robes all over them and wouldn't look right as Fists - so that meant yet another marine army!  I justified it by making it almost all bikers of some kind. Only used in small battles so far but they will see more action later this year.
Now nobody really needs 4 marine armies. It is a product of how things have evolved over the last 20+ years and not a conscious plan, but still - it's overkill. If I had planned it from the start I would have picked an easy paint scheme and just added to the original force over the years. Lesson for the future, kids!

Besides marines I also own:
  • Chaos Marines! Because I can! I had one back in 2nd & 3rd, traded most of it to bump up my Ork force, and the survivors of that purge kept whispering to me ... then they went and put Chaos in the starter set for 6th edition ... what the heck was I supposed to do? Clearly it was time to build another marine army! This one is the current obsession and while I don't have a set theme yet I am actively working on turning my collection of parts into a useable coherent force. 
  • Chaos Demons - because I had them for fantasy and we never play fantasy anymore - so they started getting rebased in 5th and will be on the table fighting this summer in 6th! It's pretty evenly spread amongst all 4 chaos powers so I don't have a theme here either.
  • Eldar! Actually I gave most of my Eldar to Blaster to start his army, but I kept a few of my oldest units in their weird paint scheme. It's a small force but I could run them if the mood struck. That's actually the second time I've downsized my Eldar. I am not actively adding to these guys right now, just keeping them around. That new codex might inspire me to finish painting some of the units so we will see. 
  • Imperial Guard - had an army started years ago, traded it for Orks, then a friend found a bunch of stuff at a garage sale and look - I have a mostly-painted guard army again! I keep an eye out for add-ons for this one but I really haven't played them much. I need to work on organizing the infantry better and getting in some playing time. 
  • Orks Orks Orks! I didn't really care for Orks back in the RT days, but then we started playing them in Epic and they were a blast so I started picking them up in the 40K 2nd Edition days and they've done nothing but grow ever since. I gave Red a selection of stuff to build his force up but I still have a lot of greenskins. They're mostly Goffs with a side order of Evil Sunz. I can run them as footsloggers, mechanized, whatever. I am still painting what I have and still add stuff to them at times. Lots of opportunities for "going different" with these guys, and I do.
At some point I will probably do a post on each of these with points and pictures and notes and plans for the future but for now there's the overview. My goal is to get the boys painting again as part of their summer off-time, scheduling some games, and maybe inviting some friends over to play too.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Overreaction Wednesday

For the latest in the Next Design Wars, I think these two articles pretty much sum it up:

Against the Nostalgia Fetish in Fantasy Roleplaying

1,000-Word Rebuttal: Against the Fetish of Progressive Design

The funny thing is that when I saw the titles of each I expected to feel more aligned with the second article. After reading them I was much more sympathetic with the first. I'm not sure what that says about me or how I feel about these games we play, but it's an interesting feeling. 

I do tend to consider myself more old-school than new-school, but I have seen exactly what the first  article describes: lots of the comments on Next have been pushing for changes based on how D&D used to do it. Using that as one consideration is fine IMO but it shouldn't be the only consideration, and I'm not sure it needs to be the primary consideration. Anyway, the primary focus of the article was specifically D&D Next.

In contrast the second article seems to be about old school gaming and nostalgia in general, which is really not anything that was addressed in the first, so it's not much of a rebuttal, specifically, to that first article. I completely agree that "newer" doesn't automatically mean "better" and that people should play what they want.

My personal take on Next is this: They don't need to republish Prior Edition X or some combination of Prior Editions X-Y-Z. They're already selling those again, in PDF form and in reprinted hard copy form. A new edition needs to have some "new" in it or there's no point to it. So show us something interesting. 

To WOTC, specifically: This is your job! You're supposed to be the trained professionals, the experts, with more resources than anyone else making RPG's. I've been hearing for years about how much better something is when "professional game designers" handle it as opposed to part-timers and hobbyists - mostly by people who happen to be or aspire to be - professional game designers! So show us how this is supposed to be done! Don't farm it out to the internet and then tell us "well this is what people want". I don't need a designer for that! That's acting as a project manager, not designing a game! No one has asked for a return to the completely closed "Hey ya'll here it is" approach leading up to 4th Edition but I suspect there's something between it and the "warring internet tribes" approach we're seeing now.

I'm less convinced now that crowd-sourcing was a good idea at the early stage in which it entered this project, because the game mechanics have gone all over the place since it started.  Having a solid base and the letting the crowd refine it, an "Open Beta" approach, still has value I think. This one feels like it started with no real set design and that everything was on the table. The lack of direction and consistency makes me wonder if we have a game of game design musical chairs going on now and whatever mechanics we have when it's time to publish are what we will be playing as part of D&D 5. I hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I allowed myself to get sucked in to the new Neverwinter game over the weekend. Since it pretty much filled our RPG time - Apprentices Who and Blaster joined me -I thought I would discuss it a little bit. The high points:

  • It's free to play, full access to current classes and races except for Drow - they're tied up in some kind of early spending deal right now but are supposed to free up 60 days from launch. If that's a big deal for you, now you know.
  • It has a good tutorial, running through the basics of characters and controls without being ridiculously tedious, repetitive, or boring. Everyone ends the tutorial at 4th, the games goes to 60th right now.
  • It looks very pretty. I thought it looked more like LOTRO than some of the more cartoony fantasy games out there. The lighting is nicely done
  • It's based on 4E D&D but in practice it works more like an MMO than any particular tabletop edition of D&D, including 4th
The setting is the ruined city of Neverwinter (Forgotten Realms), pretty much right out of the 4th edition D&D Neverwinter sourcebook. Having read the book I don't think there's any mechanical advantage but it is cool to recognize the names of characters and factions and locations and have an idea of what/who/where they are. If you liked that book you will probably be more inclined to like the game.
The character options are somewhat limited right now in that there are only 5 classes and there doesn't seem to be a ton of variety within a single class. So once I've created and played my Great Weapon Fighter I'm probably not going to create another one anytime soon, but I will probably create a Wizard.

They did have some problems over the weekend with some auction house exploit and rolled things back a little bit. I lost a few levels. It's annoying but it is a very new game and I would expect a few bumps - I'm not paying anything for it so I can't complain a much.

I'd say if you're at all interested in D&D themed videogames it's worth a look - it's free and you can play 24/7 so the flexibility is certainly there. If you dislike online games I don't think there's anything here that's going to change your mind about them.