Friday, 14 December 2018

Magic The Gathering - Deck Building Zen

When a buddy at a local gaming store heard I'd found my MTG mojo again while showing my 6 year old son how to play, he passed us a huge bag of cards to explore. That was an awesome gesture and we're hugely grateful, as not only can my son check out more of this glorious game, but I can revisit cards and combos that I'd long since forgotten in the 15 years or so since I played a lot.

While I'm teaching my little dude the rules, I constructed some single colour decks that were big on creatures, sorcery cards and Instants but light on artefacts, dual lands and enchantments, just until he gets the hang of the basics before I add the next layer of complexity for him.

Something I've rediscovered during these sessions is just how relaxing the art of deck building can be. Getting the right balance of card types and combos is a remarkably Zen thing to do, and I've got a lot of pleasure just from this, even before any cards hit the table!

For anyone who needs some pointers on this activity, there are some great instructional videos out there. Here's one I enjoyed from the Geek and Sundry crew:

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Impellitteri - 'Run For Your Life' Music Video

Y'know, solid and straightforward melodic metal still makes me damn happy. The cuts from this new Impellitteri album are kicking my backside and making me kinda consider returning to music mags one day so I can spew forth my relentless worship for old-school neoclassical shred. This band is firing on all cylinders creatively and giving their audience exactly what they want. It's paying off, as this is their biggest release in a long time.

VOXCAST - The Official Warhammer 40,000 podcast - Episode 1


Voxcast, the official Warhammer 40,000 podcast, is underway now with this splendid first episode. Featuring a relaxed yet engaging interview with designer Jes Goodwin, it's exactly the sort of content I've wanted to watch. There's a great deal of value in it thanks to the length and the insights provided, and it'll certainly be interesting to see who comes on in future episodes. 

Material like this really does help to deepen the understanding and appreciation of the hobby, and adds a great talk show vibe to the Warhammer TV YouTube channel. I'd love more shows along these lines covering things like painting or particular games. Perhaps feature discussions on classic games like Space Hulk or Space Marine, or maybe even things like Dark Future or Talisman and their place in the GW pantheon. Anyway, this is a fun watch. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

FEMFORCE 184 – MY BIGGEST ISSUE YET

Amongst the 76 pages of superhero adventure in Femforce Issue 184 from AC Comics are no less than FIVE new stories I've scripted, making this the biggest entry in my Femforce career so far! The stories I'm involved with this issue include one for She-Cat, two for Ms Victory, one for Tara and one for Stardust. I love writing these characters (with Stardust just edging out in front to be my favourite of them all), and being able to explore their worlds a bit is so fun.

I'm hugely excited to see what the incredible artists that took my scripts on have done with these stories. It's still a thrill to write for this title, and as a bonus this time round there's an incentive book containing the start of a new – full colour – Femforce tale as well! OK, this is mind-blowing stuff. I should get on and finish the stories I'm working on for issue 185!

Necromunda - The House Delaque Set

The new set of House Delaque gangers for Necromunda is a delight. Evocative of the Strangers from Dark City with a bit of a Cenobite vibe, they're a really nice addition to the dark cyberpunk shenanigans of the Underhive. I mean, weird bald guys who wear black are always cool. At least, that's what I tell everyone. Anyway, these beauties kinda make me want to sidestep from my 40k/Sigmar fun and take up Necromunda! The House Delaque gangers' sculpts look spectacular and have a touch of Mister X and the darker aspects of 2000AD about them as well, which is always going to get my attention.

 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

On a Spellslingers Binge


After getting through a metric (oops)ton of Geek & Sundry content this past few months, this past couple of weeks has seen something of a Spellslingers binge going on in my world. With its simple concept (host Vs guest at a round of Magic The Gathering), jovial atmosphere and quick-fire game-play, the act of watching people playing an extremely dense and intricate card game has been turned into thoroughly engaging content.

Geek and Sundry have been knocking it out of the park in terms of their offerings lately, and watching so damn much Spellslingers has got me eyeing up Magic decks again. I played a lot of Magic The Gathering back in 2000-2003 as my partner at the time was a tournament player and she got me into it in a big way.

I also sold the cards at the comic store I worked in and during quiet periods there were several times my colleagues and I would crack out our own decks and play a round or two. That was always cool, as customers would join in with the excitement or would ask us about what we were doing and end up buying a deck. Showing your love for the stuff you sell is damn fine advertising, after all. 



I played sporadically after that until I wound up in bands and DJing and spending everything on music and fried chicken, and I look back now and see that I missed the fun of it. Spellslingers certainly brings the fun of the hobby back into focus.

Over the years I kept finding Land cards I'd used as bookmarks and remembering how great the cane could be. Granted, it could also be dreadful when you were getting your rump thrashed at every turn, but that's where the excitement of CCGs is - you can drag yourself to victory even if it feels like you're doomed. 

Building decks to your own specifications and making sure you had enough major cards to save your backside when your life was getting low was a ton of fun, although I can't say I miss opening booster packs and saying 'Plains... Plains... Plains...' as I flicked through a seemingly endless stack of land cards. With so many places to play locally, I may well pick a deck up again sometime soon. Fancy a game?

Break out the Emergency Warhammer!

I needed to keep my 6 year old son occupied while he waited for his swimming lesson to start yesterday, preferably in a manner that didn't involve him using my phone data or needing to bring a load of things on top of the swimming gear and lunch box I'd brought for him.

Our favourite shared activity right now is playing Warhammer 40,000 – or at least a version of it that he's comfortable with. Taking boards and armies to the leisure centre wasn't really practical, so I grabbed a container from the kitchen and put into it two of my Salamander Space Marines, two of his 'Noisy Gitz' ork warband, a little bag of dice and a 40k ruler. I figured it was worth a try.

Thankfully it worked pretty well. The game only lasted maybe ten minutes, but we used the container and lid as obstacles and a spare dice as an objective. My marines got wiped out by my trigger-happy opponent and we had a lot of fun before the swimming lesson, meaning he went into his lesson with a grin.

It got me thinking, with the variety of awesome sets Games Workshop is releasing lately in a range of sizes (I'm looking at you, Conquest, First Strike, Nightvault et al), there may be room for another type of set. They are doing a great job of getting new players into the hobby (and old players returning to it), so I'd say there's definitely a market.

The set I would propose is a 'duellist' set, containing two or four miniatures, an objective marker and a compact rule booklet that also contains data cards for the miniatures and a couple of scenarios to play through. The packaging, or inner tray, could have scenery printed on it like in First Strike, Know No Fear and the like. I think it'd be a great little taster set for those looking for a gateway into the hobby and also something cool for existing players to collect if the minis and objective were exclusive to it. It seems like a fun idea.

Yeah, I'm writing a fair bit about Warhammer stuff of late, but it has made a huge difference to my family life and it's so exciting to be so deep into it again. This is so much fun it's unreal, and I'm loving sharing my enthusiasm for it! Give it a go.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report: Stronghold of the Damned 3

Whoops... this appears to have become a short story now. I may go back and add dialogue to the first two reports at some point. Games have been sporadic this past week due to family visits and the usual mayhem that comes with being the daddy of two very energetic young boys, but we've managed to bring this little series of skirmishes to a fun conclusion. 

Previous entries:

Battle Report: Stronghold of the Damned part 1

Battle Report: Stronghold of the Damned part 2

Report by Lieutenant Talis of the Ironwing Space Marines  
Transcribed by Andrew Hawnt 

The orders were shared amongst the Ironwing and Ultramarines, and formations were agreed. I must admit that the honour of serving alongside the sons of Guilliman drove me on further, as it did my battle brothers. The Ironwing are not as widely known as the Ultramarines, but we are strong and we do not yield to the forces that would seek to topple the God Emperor's work.

Our point of contact was none other than the revered Lieutenant Calsius, a fine warrior indeed, and he shared our resolve to end this matter as swiftly as possible. The time for tactics had passed. The focus of our own assault would be the stronghold itself, to pick off any remaining Poxwalkers and as many of the Death Guard as we could. The Ultramarines would focus on keeping the Orks at bay until we had gained access to the stronghold and then half of their number would turn their aim to our aid. The Orks had brought over a stolen Rhino, its hull daubed with painted skulls and burnt filth. More Ork warriors spilled from its hold, eager for blood.

We charged, and immediately came under fire from both the psychotic Greenskins and the Death Guard atop the stronghold's ruined tower. Ultramarines charged at the Orks and took down half of their number in a raging cacophony of bolter fire and roaring chainswords. Grots ran gibbering from their masters as Orks were cleaved in half or exploded over them in showers of ravaged viscera. One Ultramarine fell as a rocket from a ramshackle Ork weapon struck him. The battle brother vanished in an explosion of shattered ceramite and human debris, and yet his brethren didn't flinch, instead turning the marine's killer into a mist of gore within seconds.

Over the raging battle between them, we pounded across to the stronghold itself. Poxwalkers emerged from hidden tunnels and smashed entrances, and we lay waste to them within seconds. We would not allow such simple adversaries to hold us back this time. I leapt into the ruins first, with my Ironwing brothers an instant behind me. Two Death Guard were waiting and unleashed heavy bolters against us. Brother Herius fell beside me, his head gone completely, his blood spattered across my own armour. It was warpaint to me.

I retaliated with my bolter and brought Holy fire upon the unholy horror before me. The tentacles and pulsating filth that seeped and quivered between the Plague Marine's armour plates was shredded, rancid innards exploding forth as my weapon gouged huge holes in its torso. It didn't seem to care, suddenly advancing on me with its steaming entrails dragging beneath its hulking form. Before it could fire, I lunged forward and jammed a grenade into the joins between helmet and foetid flesh. I used my own inertia to carry me beyond the perversion, just as its top half exploded.

I thought of Herius and got to my feet, pushing on towards the tower steps. Others followed. A shell from another Death Guard marine detonated beside me, blasting chunks out of the wall and knocking me sideways. I landed hard but was unharmed. I dragged myself upright again and saw brother Joseph and brother Fenriz vanish into the tower, their power armour boots thudding up the stone steps towards the chamber atop the tower, where the teleportation tech was held by those heretic followers of Nurgle.

A blast erupted from above us, a blaze of flames and detritus exploding downwards upon me and my brothers. As my helmet optics adjusted, I saw the remains of Fenriz collapse down the staircase. I called across to the others that the column was laced with explosives, but that wasn't our only problem. The sound of the teleporter being activated rang out from above. The Death Guard were bringing reinforcements.

Calsius blocked my way with an outstretched arm. “No, brother. No further. Something isn't right. If they needed more forces here, they could have brought them already. That sound – something is wrong.”

I listened a moment, then it dawned on me. “That isn't the sound of a teleportation sequence. That's the sound of the power cells feeding back on themselves.”

“Brothers,” came the cracked, broken voice of Brother Joseph. He had made it into the tower. “Ironwing, Ultramarines. Listen. Fall back. Fall back... immediately. The Death Guard sought to take us all into... their darkness. The teleporter is not lost technology – it is theirs. This is a tool for gathering flesh to twist and warp!”

“Brother Joseph,” I said numbly over the vox. “You have commenced an overload sequence, haven't you?”

“I have, brother Talis,” came his croak of a reply. “The Death Guard have taken my legs. They have taken my left arm and I am ruined. I can see my stomach on the ground beside me. They are reforming. Their injuries will close in moments. Leave... now.”

Calsius nodded to me. “Your brother is dying, but he does do in glory.” He called out over the vox for all marines to exit the structure immediately. I hesistated a moment, looking at the smoking hole that lead to the tower.

“For the Emperor,” Joseph groaned in agony over the vox. “For... my brothers. For Holy Terra.”

“Indeed, my brother.” I followed Calsius and the remaining Ultramarines and Ironwing. I passed the Orks, all dead, and mangled Poxwalkers. I stomped passed filth and flesh and masses of congealed horror. I didn't look back as I heard the teleporter hit critical and the Death Guard atop the stronghold tower roared in fury as brother Joseph's final act took effect. The chunk of warped tech exploded in a corona of blazing reactions, annihilating the tower and all inside it. The explosion tossed us all into the dirt with a thud, the sound overloading our audio channels for a moment. A shock-wave followed it, a pulse of dispersing energy that disrupted our systems for a moment before they blinked back to life. I checked the runes flashing over my lenses. My suit was largely operational.

We picked ourselves up as the wave faded, looking back to the atomised ruins of the building we had been inside just moments before.

Plans were quickly made for the Defiant Shadow to come to our aid. Genetics would be harvested. Losses would be catalogued. The battle would be recorded. I would see to it that brother Joseph's sacrifice would be given the utmost honour. And then I would join my brothers and continue to our next quest in His name.

And his.

//Report ends