Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Scaling it up by Scaling it down

Oh Post Human Republic, how I love thee, let me count the ways

For a good number of people, at its core gaming is about creating something awesome, cinematic, exciting and imaginative. Something that could easily fit in to our favourite tv show, film or book. A truly epic conflict on a grand scale against all the odds and expectation your forces do battle with their foes. The problem is that sometimes our games of choice do a pretty poor job of really capturing this sort of grand scale of imagination, 40k will in a standard game use at most 180 models per side and while this may look damn imposing on the table top, when you actually consider this 180 orks aren’t actually that scary a prospect for a whole planet. Doug Seacat writes absolutely incredible fluff for all things Iron Kingdoms, its about the fall of nations and mighty armies clashing to decide the fate of gods…A few warjacks, a caster and a smattering of infantry will more than likely provide a brilliant game for you, but will be far less likely to set the imagination on fire.

A pretty cool looking Apoc game....but it has its problems
Here’s my point, 28mm is just too big to really capture that epic feel (that seems slightly oxymoronic but I think you get the point). Transport for them is difficult and if you up the numbers to more epic levels via apocalypse, unbound or some other clever mechanic then you’re forced to spend an awful long time doing it. The problem being that we with lives, significant others and jobs all too often don’t have time to dedicate to these big games, what’s the solution then?

Make the models smaller! Or as I look to put it, scale it down to scale it up

There are lots of smaller scale games floating around the place that one can really sink their teeth into. We have Gruntz, Flames of War, Epic and what I really want to talk about, Drop Zone Commander.

From the moment I laid eyes on the models I knew I had to play this game, the scale is small (10mm) but the model quality is off the charts as well as the realism. In brief one of the key components of the game is moving your units around the board via dropships, so unlike many other games air power is important (not unlike real life). Also combat is based not just on weapon ranges and rolling to hit, but also ranges of potential counter measures that might be employed (like real life, that doesn’t have armour saves).

Another great complement to the smaller scale is the pretty huge scope of the conflict that we’re talking about. I won’t spoil anything too much, but think mass planet and even system wide invasions from space and you’re in the right ballpark.

One of the things that you’re going to need to do when playing a game like dropzone (or whatever small scale game you might be interested in) is really revamp your terrain collection. The most excellent article by Brandon pointed out issues with 40k terrain and it’s importance to a really great game. This is even more so when you’re fighting over whole cities and planets. One must also consider that smaller scale terrain isn’t always going to be readily available for us, so its good call to potentially size up what kind of terrain you’re going to need, how you’re going to construct it and then simply go and do it. If you struggle with this I’d suggest doing it as a group, which leads me on to my next point

Dropzone terrain, made purely of paper
When starting a new game, particularly a small scale game like Dropzone, don’t do it alone. There is nothing worse than killing yourself painting up a lovely little army, making great terrain and then having no opponent. So if you’re making the plunge try and get some friends involved, try and play different factions, maybe organise a terrain building day or even set deadlines for when everyone’s stuff should be ready for. Simple stuff like that can really ignite a new game for you and what’s more if people see you and your crew having fun then it’s a great advertisement for them to pick up the game themselves, meaning more people for you to play with.

So with that in mind, next week in the shack is Dropzone week, we’ve already started cranking out terrain and four of us have each picked a different faction. I’m really looking forward to finally putting my PHR on the board and really scale it up a bit, I want to defend the next step for humanity (READ THE FLUFF)

Anywho, hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, if there’s interest I’ll post up some pictures of some of the terrain that Mo and this weeks addition Ross/Tom have been working on and some WIP stuff of our armies, let me know in the comments


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A brief history of Irish 40K Tournaments/A love note to Warpcon

Warpcon is Ireland’s largest games convention and since the Shack is its main sponsor for Wargames this year I reckon it deserves at least one post from us, particular when you consider the influence that this jewel of the South has had on Ireland’s gaming scene.

This post might be all new to some people, or a friendly trip down memory lane for others. Ireland’s tournament scene wasn’t always like it is now, we forget so easily how blessed we are with the myriad of tournaments that there are now. From Q Con in the North, To Retcon in Dublin, Itzacon in Galway, Conspiracy (Towncon) in Kilkenny to our very own Shack Attack Tournaments a 40k player need never look too far from his own doorstep to get 5 quality games of 40k with new people in new surrounds. A decade ago this wasn’t at all the case sadly

Way back in the mists of time there were three tournaments that occurred with any sort of regularity. We had Gaelcon, my first tournament (in 2001…I shudder to think how badly I did). This was a great event for me mostly because of the novelty of not playing the same 4 people all the time and the fact that it was on my doorstep, the problem with Gaelcon was that until 2009 the quality how the tournament was run varied massively! Some years it was great, other years it was simply terrible! The second tournament was the Games Workshop run Grand Tournament. This was always a highlight for me and I still remember my first one in the Clarion Liffey Valley as one of the best weekends I’ve ever had in gaming. The problem with the GT was firstly despite the herculean efforts of organisers like Ronan Murphy (now owner operator of the most excellent Dungeons and Doughnuts) there was never any consistency of location and the poor old GT was bandied from pillar to post in the 3 years I went to it. We moved from the Clarion in Dublin, to the now dearly departed Valhalla Games in Athlone with a pit stop at the Red Cow Hotel in between…As you can imagine the venues varied in quality but the games were always pretty solid.

The one consistent event, the one guiding light in it all was Warpcon. A trip down to Cork was always worth it. They always had good terrain, the format was always interesting and there were always loads of new gamers to play. Things have changed over the years, points have gone up, there are cool class trophies now, the top tables are even more hotly contested than they’ve ever been, armies are as pretty if not more so. But the point is that Warpcon has always been the daddy of them all, pre ETC driven tournament explosion, before rankings or big time prizes and players Warpcon was still awesome and it’ll continue to be, that as much as anything is why we as a company are truly chuffed to have our name associated with it….See you in Cork in 3 days!!!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why we like all things Dark Angel!

Hey guys, today its not so much focussed on painting goodies, but why in fact we are loving the new Dark Angels Codex.


Madeye and I are very different people, in that when we crack a new book I’ll head straight for the in game rules and give a cursory glance to the fluff at a later date, Madeye however will gleefully troll through the fluff and if he doesn’t like it then there’s no interest from him in playing the army at all! Well let me tell you that he’s mightily pleased with the fluff for the first legion. Describing it as a real return to form from Games Workshop writers. As much as anything else they’ve done a great job of collating all of the great pieces that have been done in previous editions of the codex (the elder amongst us will remember the most excellent 2nd edition ‘dex “Angels of Death”). Also there has been further exposition on the inner working of the chapter hierarchy, their eternal quest for the fallen and how this plays out in a military sense. Basically it’s all good stuff and should keep everyone from veterans to Neophytes pretty satisfid… And no, we don’t care about Cypher…at all

You tournament hard cases will by this point be saying something like “enough of the flowers and poetry Quigley, get me to the rules and junk”

If you insist...

I think this codex has some of the most interesting ways to play the game that we’ve seen in 6th edition so far and what’s more I think a lot of people have as yet been overlooking them. For starters let’s talk about debuffs, this codex has them in spades and on good platforms. The Ravenwing Knights access to grenade launcher is pretty awesome. The way I’m reading drops the toughness of the whole enemy unit and with them having str 5 on the charge, they can comfortably be wounding enemy units on 2+ in cc…another insane combo is the ability to reduce the instant death threshold for multi wound units and then follow it up with a volley of plasma shots to the face…paladins, nob bikers, even monstrous creatures should be seriously concerned about this type of ability! Another prevalent debuff in the codex is blind, which can reduce your WS and BS to 1….also stasis can do the same trick. The Dark Angels may be a small and elite force, but if you do it right you’ll be so far ahead of your opponent in the stat race that numbers really won’t matter!

On the other side of it we have buffs, of which there are loads! For starters we have the Sacred Standards, these bad boys are only one per army but with bloody good reason. A lot of attention is going to the standard of devastation, giving boltguns salvo 2/4 while within 6”, its hard to protect and expensive but if done right can be absolutely horrifying for an opponent (particularly in this era of infantry hammer). Fortitude passing off FNP is brilliant and even the mass counter attack of retribution has its place. We also have the most excellent dark shroud speeder…passing off stealth to its super friends, deathwing knights getting bonus toughness for basing up is just another example of an excellent and yet simple mechanic!

One thing that really strikes me is that you’re not paying an abundance of points for anything, marines are cheaply costed to balance out the expense of the first and second company goodies. Regular land speeders are cheap as chips to allow back up to be bought in the form of the “super speeders”, librarians are cheap because command squads are not and so on and so on. This sense of balance is prevalent all over the codex and is something that I’m going to enjoy seeing on the tabletop over the coming weeks and months (at Shack Attack 2 in particular) and has inspired us to knock together a store army for ourselves to use until some good customer takes it off our hands.

So lets here from you, good people! What are your thoughts on the Dark Angels?