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Is that the time?

23/07/2014

According to WordPress, my last post was almost four months ago. I should probably do something about that.

I haven’t posted anything because my time has swung more towards Life than Geek recently. That’s not to say it’s ‘all work and no play’, I’ve still managed to sneak in the odd bit of geekery here and there. Here’s a quick recap…

Books, books, books

I’ve done a lot of reading (and listening) of late. I managed to get my hands on a few of the Horus Heresy audiobooks. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the series, and it’s a story I’ve known the basics of for decades. The only thing that’s been putting me off is their length. Sure, they’re not all weighty tomes, but there’s a lot of jargon and detail to wade through. That’s why I opted for the audio version. They allowed me to ‘read’ the books at times when having a physical book would not be practical – walking to the train, while working, that sort of thing.

Of the four books I chose, the most engaging were A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns. Both books tell the story of the Space Wolves attack on the Thousand Sons home world of Prospero in the early stages of the Horus Heresy, but from opposite sides. A Thousand Suns documents the slow corruption of Magnus the Red and his sorcerous battle brothers, culminating in their downfall at the hands of both the Space Wolves and the powers of Chaos. Prospero Burns, on the other hand, follows a Terran academic who is remade as a skald for the Vlka Fenryka, the Wolves of Fenris. He accompanies them on many great battles, up to the assault on Prospero. Interestingly, the assault is not described as it happens, as it is in A Thousand Sons. Instead, the author tells the story of the battle in the form of a skaldic saga. This gave the battle a very different feel and kept repetition to a minimum. There’s also a surprising reveal at the end of the book that ties it into the Warhammer 40,000 version of the chapter, but you’ll have to discover that for yourself.

I have done some actual reading as well, though not exactly from books. I’ve purchased a number of the ebooks released by Privateer Press’ literary arm, Skull Island eXpedition. These books take place within the Warmachine and Hordes universe and tend to follow established characters as they go on all new adventures. These sorts of stories are nothing new to those familiar with the games they’re associated with. The rule books for both games are already packed full of stories of action and intrigue, though these stories are more used to advance the narrative of the game and tend to flit from character to character so everyone gets a little time in the spotlight. The SIX novels are much more focussed, each book following a group of characters almost exclusively for the entirety of an adventure. If you’re a fan of steampunk fantasy, they’re well worth checking out. If you’d like more details, at some point in the near future I’ll post up reviews for the books I’ve read.

Putting brush to model

I’ve meant to get back to painting my models for some time now. For a long time I didn’t have an area to paint that was easily accessible, but now I do. The news of a possible Kings of War tournament later this year was just the motivation I needed to get back on the horse. Okay, so I’m placing a cutting pad over my laptop’s keyboard and painting on that, but it’s a start (plus I can catch up on shows on my laptop at the same time). I started slow by spray undercoating a couple of units (some missile troops armed with rifles and an ogre regiment) and a monster (a Stegadon I’m using as a basilisk) and was immediately reminded that it’s been a while since I last did this. The first models I sprayed were the ogres and I went a little overboard. Not thinking, I’d grabbed one of the command models to spray first. It was a new can, so I wasn’t aware of how much, or how little I should apply. I quickly realised I’d used to much as his face turned into a smooth, flesh-coloured blob. A little dabbing with a paper towel and I was able to reverse most of the damage, but he still looks a little more filled out than the rest of his unit. I sprayed the other models with a can that I’d used many times before, so received a much more even coat.

As for the painting, that has not been as challenging as I expected. I’d picked up a good selection of Privateer Press Paints when they first came out, and surprisingly enough they were almost all still good. Only a couple of the metallic paints had either separated or hardened, the rest returned to normal with a few energetic shakes. To break up the monotony of the painting, I’ve also been assembling some different miniatures. I assembled most of the units for my Kings of War army long ago, so I’ve moved on to the models I received from the two Blackwater Gulch Kickstarters. I ended up with a total of five gangs and a good selection of Hired Guns (special characters, many of whom inspired by movie characters). I’ve only assembled the Vigilance Committee and the Crew of the Tranquility (the mandatory Firefly inspired models), but they’ll soon be joined by the others. Once they’ve got some paint on them, I’ll take them down to the club and see if anybody wants to learn a new game.

In the grim darkness of the far future there is only… a new edition

While I’ve not played Warhammer 40,000 in a long time, I still follow the news and updates for the game. I’m not exactly sure why, either. I think it’s partly because most of the podcasts I listen to talk about it (if only to make fun of it), and partly because I’ve invested a fair chunk of time (and money) into the game over the years and I feel obliged to keep up with what’s happening. Part of it is also certainly keeping an eye out for any positive changes in the direction Games Workshop is taking. Sadly, this does not seem to be happening any time soon. The best example of this is every time they try something new. Without fail, the internet sniffs out any rumours they can about the impending release, speculation runs rife with sites like Bell of Lost Souls putting political commentators to shame with their (sometimes fanciful) predictions.

The best example of this recently has been the internet noise generated in the run up to the release of the latest edition of Warhammer 40,ooo. Very little was known for sure about that was changing, but that didn’t stop the internet filling in as many of the blanks as possible with its hopes and dreams. While some of the predictions turned out to be true, many remained the stuff of dreams, failing to make their way into reality. The game still heavily favours ranged combat over melee, they haven’t moved to a percentage-based list building system, and Squats have not been renamed and become part of the Tau Empire.

The other source of tasty Schadenfreude are the Codex Supplements. Basically, these are add-ons for your army books that allow you to field a specialised type of army. Every time a main Codex releases, speculation begins about which Supplements (and it’s always more than one) will accompany the release and all the awesome new units they’ll contain. In reality, the Supplements are mostly fiction, some new artwork, and a few pages of rules at most. This is a format that has been pretty consistent. Oh, and most armies only get a single Supplement. Only Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and Tyranids received more than one. With the Marines it makes sense as there are multiple chapters on either side, while the three Tyranid Supplements detailed the three stages of an invasion on a planet. They did not receive a Supplement for the ever-popular Genestealer Cults, as just about everyone was predicting they would. It seems like GW fans prefer to dream big and be disappointed than keep their expectations low and enjoy whatever they get.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping a clever and dedicated fans from making their own Supplements, but that’s a topic for another time.

Next time on…

That’s what’s been going on, more or less, but what about what’s coming up? A quick glance at my traffic numbers tells me that it’s almost GenCon time again. Sadly, my newly acquired mortgage means I won’t be attending this year, or anytime soon unless I win Lotto. That’s okay, I can still experience it vicariously through others, and I won’t get upset when a Con-only item sells out by lunchtime on the first day, or inconsiderate jerks shove past me so they can get to their CCG tournament on time. Instead of attending, I’m going to take part in a month-long event – RPGaDay. Here are the basics…

RPGaDAY Basics

I’ve seen the full list of questions are there are some especially fun ones in there. I’m going to try to write a post for each day of the event, though not all of them will be as long as this.

While going through an old box of books, I discovered a stash of old White Dwarf issues. They date back to a time when Lord of the Rings was a new release and the Dark Shadows worldwide campaign had just wrapped up. Flicking through a couple of the issues I was taken back a more innocent time. A time when White Dwarf was full of content and new rules. When the editorial staff were drawn as servitors. When you were told how to make your own terrain. I’d like to write up some reviews of these issues in the near future. I don’t want to compare them to the current version of the magazine because things have changed so much. I also think they can hold their own and give me plenty to write about and you to read.

I’ve got some other things I’d like to do, but I think I’ll keep them a surprise for now.

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