Sunday, 23 December 2018

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report: The Blightorum Scourge Part 1

The past couple of weeks have been somewhat hectic at Castle Hawnt, which has left little time for big games with the kids, although several small scale skirmishes have taken place and these have been able to push our family game narrative forward. Here begins a series of reports from the battlefield, as lived by Adeptus Astartes of the Ironwing, Salamander and Ultramarine chapters.

Relay At Virilus VI 
Battle report by Lieutenant Talis of the Ironwing Space Marines 

Following on from the battle at the stronghold on Garilan IX where we stood beside our Ultramarine brothers against a Death Guard force, the squad had returned to our rely outpost on the otherwise barren Virilus VI. The Plague Marines, which held dangerous teleportation tech, had used a wave of Poxwalkers as well as their pestilent weapons against us to reduce our numbers.

The addition of an Ork warband complicated matters, but ultimately the Death Guard were annihilated by Brother Joseph, who detonated the unstable tech's core. We returned with our number lessened, but we made sure that the gene seed was collected so that their essence may be added to future battle brothers. 

While most had since returned to our orbiting ship for treatment or to assist with equipment repairs, brother Larin and I remained at our outpost to complete the exit. We gathered munitions and other supplies from the Munitorum armoured containers beside the main structure of the outpost in order to load them onto the next transport the Captain would send for us. We had two hours until the transport would make landfall, so we worked quickly.

Little did we know that a reconnaissance party of three Death Guard had hidden from our auspexes by covering themselves in plague flies. Clearly their teleportation tech had not all been ruined in the blast that had ended our previous battle. They revealed themselves with a hail of heavy Bolter fire, some of which detonated an ammunition crate and almost blew us apart. The battle was swift and brutal. There were no tactics at play here – just a sudden violent drive towards extermination.

These filth-ridden nightmares must have been sent to cleanse the outpost completely and take it for themselves, but they clearly hadn't counted on us. I freed a barrage of Bolter shells at them while Larian rushed to the nearest container, swiftly climbing atop it and training one of the roof-mounted Storm Bolters on the plague marines.

One, a pus-oozing horror whose face bulged out in fleshy lines between the cracks in his helm and whose stomach hung from the torso like some stinking, bloated growth, was shredded into filthy meat and tarnished ceramite. I wounded the others, but their pestilent forms repaired themselves before my eyes.

They fired again, Larin taking a shell to the shoulder. Thankfully his armour held strong, if blackened and dented by the impact. We conferred over the vox and rent open a munitions crate. Soon the space between us and them was filled with active frag grenades and krak grenades. S the first detonated, the others followed in a violent chain reaction that blew the three Death Guard apart like so much spoiled meat. We incinerated the corpses and completed our preparations.

As a small troop carrier arrived for us and we loaded it up, we passed on a message to be sent to the nearest other battle brothers. The dark forces of Nurgle were in the vicinity. Before we arrived back on board our chapter's ship, we had heard from squads fighting for two revered chapters – the Salamanders and the Ultramarines.

I wager we may need their assistance soon.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Warhammer 40,000 – Indulging in Aeldari

In my early days of gaming, my favourite alien races were the Genestealers/Tyranids and the Eldar. These two offered different ends of the spectrum in terms of foes for my Space Marines and the other forces of the Imperium that I'd filled shelf after shelf with. With the Tyranids there's the relentless hunger for violence the myriad clawed beasts thrive on, while the Eldar offered a regal, mysterious species rich in history and blessed with extremely striking designs.

Now I'm well and truly back in the game(s), my interest in Eldar – now Aeldari – has returned. I love their aesthetic, their quiet majesty and truly alien customs. Their miniatures are exquisite, offering a lot of scope for different styles and colour schemes, and the current plastic kits are way more detailed and practical than the metal ones I originally had.

Also, along with the Eldar came an interest in the Dark Eldar, or Drukhari. These mean, vicious fighters are the perfect embodiment of lean and nasty alien adversaries, and that's immensely cool. Their ships, such as the Razorwing or the Venom, have a beautifully angular design that not only looks amazing on the table, they also really evoke an otherworldly sense of cool.

Indulging in Aeldari and Drukhari is adding yet another layer of enjoyment for me, and I do suggest branching out from the tried and tested old favourites as a new army is always fun to paint and even more fun to get to know. Adding another dimension to the hobby can only serve to enrich the experience.

I'm having an absolute blast with this universe and would love more people to discover for themselves what a positive thing it is. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and choose some crazy loud hair colours for my Drukhari Kill Team ;)

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


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

Monday, 12 November 2018

Rest in Peace Stan Lee - There's Work to Do

I did think about writing a big, emotional post about what Stan Lee meant and will continue to mean to me. I did think about writing about how much the old Bullpen Bulletins used to make me feel like I was part of a big, exciting club (even in twenty year old back issues I got cheap as a kid). I thought about some words on what he meant to pop culture.

I thought about maybe something on how his public persona was developed over the years, or the early years of Marvel with everyone crammed into tiny offices. I thought about a moving piece on him inspiring me to be a comic book writer (he did, and now I am), and I thought about a done other things tonight since hearing the news.

None of them seemed like the right thing. Here's a moment that all fans of the big guy knew would come eventually but we all dreaded. The inevitability of it was often pushed back by the simple fact that this was Stan Lee we were talking about. He was like Lemmy or David Bowie - we all hoped he was secretly immortal so that there would never be a world without him in it.

The passing of people in the public eye don't usually affect me all that much. I didn't meet these people. I didn't know them. I'm usually saddened, of course, but then these things get filed away in the mental library and the world carries on.

This is different. This is Stan 'The Man' Lee. This is the guy who smiled at me from comics and magazines when smiles were a rarity for me. Here's a guy who created icons even though at the time he was just trying to scrape a living. Here's a guy to came to embody everything that the BullPen Bulletins made him out to be. Here was a guy who lived long enough to see his creations take pop culture by storm, decade after decade. Here's a guy who wouldn't have spent ages ruminating on news like this. Stan would have got typing.

So yeah, if you'll excuse me I have some comics to write.

Rest in peace, Stan Lee. Hero to millions, yet always seeming like a friend. Excelsior.

'Nuff said.

NORTHWARD - 'While Love Died'

Floor Jansen really is one of the greatest vocalists in the world. It's such a pleasure to hear her take on a melodic rock project.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

(War)Hammer Time!

I took my son to Crusader Club at Warhammer Nottingham today after missing last week's session (although he didn't miss out as we visited Warhammer World that week). Upon arrival we received the warm welcome which really is the norm for all visitors there – it's so inviting the moment you go in there.

We'd come for the painting hour and the Sunday game, and thus we set about unloading paints and brushes and miniatures. I'm currently painting Stormcast Eternals Vanguard Hunters in black and glowing green (I've watched Tron too much, clearly. I love stark contrasts), while my little dude was catching up with his remaining Space Marines. That said, he did spend several minutes excitedly showing everyone his Ork-ized Rhino, which we've modified together and are painting together. As ever, the atmosphere was fun and exciting, and it was so cool to see so many kids coming in with parents to check out what it was all about.

There were some older lads there who I believe hadn't been before and they were having a ball with their first painting and gaming experience. The wave of positivity in that shop is utterly infectious, which is down to the extremely high standard of staff (today we had Dan, Josie and Adam for company in very fetching Santa hats). Today's session further cemented in my mind that this was the right thing to introduce the kids to.

Having something that we all get different things from and can all enjoy together is beyond valuable to me, and I will happily encourage other parents to give it a go. Don't let the rules, measuring, phases of a turn and the dense, extensive lore put you off – within a few rounds you'll be hooked, and I dare say your kids will be too. There is something about it that genuinely fires the imagination (heck, I'm writing posts here again after pretty much giving up on blogging a while ago for example) and holds the attention.

While the Crusaders pitted their models against this week's foe and the daemon that he summoned, I took some time to examine the new Blackstone Fortress boxed game, which was open and on display for fans to check out (it can be pre-ordered here), The new character minis that it comes with are delightfully varied, and the modular board tiles and mechanics of it look like it will offer a heck of a lot of replay value. Add to this that it includes data cards which allow the minis to be used in 40k and that adds yet more value. It really is a huge set which is well worth investigating this Christmas (that's not a hint to my family, btw).

What strikes me about Blackstone Fortress is a similar thing to the Kill Team Rogue Trader set – a slew of new characters and additions that really expand on the stories of the 41st millennium and show that Games Workshop has loads to offer fans new and old, even if staples such as Space Marines and Orks don't appeal. I also checked out the brand new range of Black Library novellas (perfect size and price point at £3 a book) and my immediate thought was “how do I get to write one of these?!”

Looking around me there today at the variety of ages and levels of interest, there really is something for everyone. We can't wait to go back.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report – Stronghold of the Damned 2

There was only time for another brief skirmish last night, so that is reported below. We didn't have time for a game today, but we were still able to continue the story before a game we have planned for tomorrow evening ;) Getting to build the narrative with my son is great fun.

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

The Death Guard clearly have more at their disposal than we imagined. Upon taking shelter in a ruined munitions silo, we witnessed a further wave of filth-encrusted Poxwalkers emerging from the depths of their territory. One of the Plague Marines, a hulking brute with a pointed helmet, pustules bulging with pus upon the foul skin visible between its green armour's sections and a thick horn emerging from its faceplate, followed three of the Poxwalkers as they came closer. A recon party, testing their invaders' resolve. They clearly didn't count on not only the Ultramarines arriving but also we of the lethal Dark Angel Ironwing legion.

I left the silo with sergeant Villis, double-backed on ourselves to mask our brothers' location and engaged the scout party. An oversized Bolter, thick with unknown grime, lay down fire from the Plague Marine, one shell skimming the edge of my armour and searing a black line across the ceramite. No matter. As the Poxwalkers neared us, Sergeant Villis picked them off one by one. He had been a crack shot ever since his days as a scout, and I knew of nobody more skilled as a sniper.

Each of the moaning, staggering horrors fell in explosions of rancid meat and bone, their rictus grins still plastered over their faces even after their torsos had been detonated by Bolter fire. I was thus free to focus my own fire upon the marine itself. I aimed first for the head, then the weapon of the thing, but with a speed which it should have been impossible for such a brute to muster, it dodged both attacks.

A third barrage from my weapon blew wet chunks of flesh, armour and toxic jelly from its torso, and I clenched my teeth as the thing wheezed, glancing at its own putrescence as matter sucked together in the Death Guard's crude version of healing. It stopped in its tracks as if listening, then began to walk backwards, keeping us pinned low behind lumps of fallen buildings while it fired upon us. Once it was at a good distance, the monstrosity returned to its brethren and the precious relay. We returned to the other Ironwing marines and formulated a plan.

The element of surprise was lost, so the next stage would be an all-out assault. If the combined might of the Ironwing and Ultramarines couldn't take down these Plague Marines and gain control of the relay, the consequences could be catastrophic for the Imperium. We would have to take down the orks, too. We synchronised timer runes within our helmet displays and waited for the mark to count down to zero. Combat awaited, and if we failed, that combat would be followed by darkness being unleashed still further. We were soon combat-ready.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report – Stronghold of the Damned 1

Here begins a fun little fictional record of the games of Warhammer 40,000 I play with my kids. 

I come up with simple scenarios that they can enjoy and help to move forward, while shouting excitedly and dropping several dice on the floor with glee.

This first one recounts the battle we fought at Warhammer World itself during the school holiday. 

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

When long-range Auspex of our ship, the Defiant Shadow, picked up not only a powerful energy signature but also signs of different lifeforms converging on that energy source, Master Ferin commanded that we investigate further. The ship was steered towards the signal, and work began on unravelling the jumble of noise that surrounded it. The planet was dead, formerly known as Yvynn, dotted only with the ruins of an Imperial colony in a cold area of one hemisphere. While it should have been devoid of life, it soon became clear that we had stumbled upon a skirmish, and it was a skirmish with familiar participants.

A renowned squad of the Emperor's finest, the Ultramarines, was down there already, as was the notorious Ork warband The Noisy Gitz, who we have faced on a previous mission. They must have replenished their ranks. While the Ultramarines and Orks traded fire, their objective was elsewhere. The ruined central fortress appeared to be their target, and upon closer examination it became clear that it was under the control of the Death Guard. They not only had control of the ruins, but the source of the energy signature.

Surface scans matched its output to a lost experimental Teleport relay device which would allow clean teleportation across vast distances. It was never completed as it was stolen during an Eldar raid a century ago. It would appear that the power cells were still operational. If that technology could be completed, it would turn the tide of so many battles for those that possessed it. No Death Guard transports were in this region of space, so it was clear they were holding fort until the relay could be removed from this barren hellhole of a world.

The Defiant Shadow's teleportarium delivered us to a raised landing platform, which gave us an immediate vantage point, allowing us to survey the area in full. The nearby ruins contained six Plague Marines, its exterior surrounded by a moaning swarm of Poxwalkers. To the West moved the Noisy Gitz Orks, some in stolen and modified Space Marine armour, others scarred and battered, all heavily armed. Four Grots scurried around the front of their group.

It was clear the Ultramarines wouldn't get to the stronghold before the Orks, so we had to assist, lest the relay fall into the Greenskins' hands, or worse, letting the Death Guard use it to shift more of their filthy hordes across the Imperium and further spread their horror. We contacted the Ultramarines and agreed that we would work independently towards a common goal. The Orks had to be held back, and the Plague Marines had to be wiped out.

Before we were within range of them, the Orks had opened fire on the stronghold, blasting chunks out of the ruins but doing no structural damage and costing the Death Guard none of their number save for a few of the shambling Poxwalkers. Three of the mutated, grinning creatures were turned into red mist as the Orks' ramshackle onslaught blew them apart. The other Poxwalkers continued ambling towards the Greenskins, and those Orks were eager to face them in close combat for the thrill alone.

While that went on, our two Ironwing units and the Ultramarines advanced, taking shelter in other nearby ruins and observing the Orks picking off the easy prey while the half dozen Death Guard watched from high in the stronghold tower, Blight Launchers and Bolters primed.

Again and again we alternated our attacks on the Orks and Death Guard, but while the Orks eventually lost some of their number, the festering horrors of those ruined marines managed to retain control of the stronghold – and with it, the relay. One unit of Death Guard emerged from the building once the Orks had converged on their slaves and the Ultramarines and ourselves grew too close for comfort.

We lay down a formidable barrage of fire, but one of the Ultramarines and our own loyal Graeus and Hokkannen were lost to the horrific onslaught of blight launchers and other perverted weaponry. The decision was made to regroup in some of the other ruins and plan the next assault. For the time being, that relay remains in the pus-smeared hands of the Plague Marines. That will change soon, and we Ironwing will stand beside the sons of Roboute Guilliman and we shall not relent until those followers of Nurgle are nought but dust.

The battle will continue.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

WARHAMMER: A Personal Reunion - A Family Revelation

Early this year I decided that I wanted to steer my eldest son, who is six, towards a hobby that didn't involve a screen. He'd developed a liking for Dan TDM videos, like many others of his generation, watching hours of the dude playing Minecraft. Add to this various games, TV time and a daily film, that screen time was mounting up in a big way. That was pretty much our fault – life gets so busy that it's far too easy to give the kids a tablet to look at or switch the TV on. Thankfully with an Amazon Kids subscription, I know my sons won't see inappropriate content due to the filters on there.

Still, the desire to introduce a screen-free hobby was building and I wracked my addled, child-fried brain to think of something. We'd tried art with some success, but that had become more of an evening activity. Then, one day during a tram ride here in Nottingham, we passed the headquarters of Games Workshop, and the huge Warhammer World complex beside it. I started telling him about their games and how I'd played them in the nineties, and he seemed quite keen on the mythos both of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.

I picked up some miniatures and paints to see what would happen, and that opened the floodgates. Here, months later, I am fully back in the worlds I'd played in as a teenager, and I've now introduced three kids to a hobby which occupies them with creative pursuits, tactical thinking, attention to detail and rich stories as well as a vibrant social aspect. The welcome we have received from the local gaming community has been nothing short of phenomenal.

I've been taking my son to Warhammer Nottingham for the Sunday Crusader Club, which has been nothing but a positive experience. The staff are a delight, both knowledgeable and friendly without being pushy or elitist, welcoming me back to the hobby while welcoming my son to it with open arms and a fully loaded Bolter at the ready.

The Crusader Club is a brilliant idea for kids who would like to get started with a new hobby, The first hour centres around building models, the second hour moves to painting them and then this is followed by some gaming fun where the staff pit a monstrous vehicle or creature against the amassed might of their own models. From what I have observed, this has helped my son greatly with patience, attention to detail, endurance, tactical thinking and more. It has also made his already vibrant imagination explode with scenarios, creatures and mythologies of his own, which has been a delight to see.  When I enquired about the club, Dan at Warhammer Nottingham was brilliant at explaining the benefits of it and telling us about his own journey through the games and scene over the years. It seemed to tick all of the boxes with what we were looking for.

We play a game at home each night, small skirmishes that play into a loose overall narrative. We have building and painting sessions in his bedroom, which have been beautiful bonding experiences each time. We discuss the rules, look out for exciting ways to paint miniatures and generally have a great time out of it.

My own social life has improved since returning to the realms of Warhammer, with regular visits to Warhammer World and meeting up with friends to play or just compare minis. For example I recently met up with a friend who works for Games Workshop and hung out at Bugman's bar at HQ and played Age of Sigmar over food. It's wonderful that a hobby that some may see to be somewhat insular can make such a difference to lives.

If other parents have concerns about the violence and grim nature of battles in the Age of Sigmar or the 41st millenium, then I would love them to know that while there is violence galore, it is suggested rather than shown. This ain't video games. You're not going to see miniatures actually eviscerate each other. Of course, there are many Warhammer video games as well, which I would certainly advise sticking with the suggested age group.

The Games Workshop price point is something that comes up sometimes when I talk about our involvement in the hobby, but my wife and I feel the prices are fair when taking into account the amount of value we get out of them. The building and painting can take hours, and then the finished miniatures go on to be used in many games. These things get a heck of a lot of use.

But it isn't just the six year old and myself who have found it. We've also brought the 13 year old and 4 year old in our lives into it as well. Each of us gets something different out of the experience, which is just magic for me to see as a dad. Finding something that really does cross age groups with its appeal is like finding the Holy Grail of parenting pastimes.

For me, the building and painting are remarkably therapeutic, while the games are exciting and challenging and the associated fiction and tie-ins really enrich the experience. Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 scratch different parts of the same itch for fantastical adventures and they boasts some astoundingly talented creators.

For my son it's all about the building and exciting standoffs between Space Marines and Orks, or Necrons. Our 13 year old brethren loves the community aspect of it along with the gaming, and is making big leaps in his understanding of the rules and the building and painting as well. Our 4 year old battle brother has an interest in it which I'm really enjoying watching. He wanted to join in as he saw the rest of us painting and playing, and has since developed a love of being our official dice roller, as he has an uncanny ability to roll 5s and 6s. He is also a big fan of the portion sizes in Bugman's at Warhammer World!

When I started up with gaming again after so many years away from it, it was with the intention of reducing screen time for the kids a bit, yet it has become something that we all enjoy and all get something different from. Boxes of paints and enticing plastic sprues fill the house. Posters of Space Marines line bedroom walls. Issues of White Dwarf fill minds with mental lists of what we'd like next. This is so much fun.

In fact, yesterday perfectly sums up what this has become for our family. My wife and I along with all three kids drove to Warhammer World in the morning. I'd booked us a 40k table in the amazing games arena and written a scenario that the kids could join in with easily. Two units of Death Guard with a band of Poxwalkers had taken control of a stronghold containing a valuable teleporter beacon that would allow anyone who activated it to bring more armies directly to the desolate world we had landed on. This resulted in a squad of Ultramarines, my home-brew renegade marines The Iron Wrath and my son's gang of Orks and Grots (The Noisy Gitz) trying to wrench control of the stronghold from the pus-seeping tentacles of the Death Guard marines. Good fun.

That lasted an hour, which we followed with another look round the exhibition halls and then an epic lunch. We piked up some paint and bases for projects at home and headed off to a Halloween party. That evening we ended the day with the kids being shown how to play Shadespire by a friend and a brief 40k skirmish on the living room floor. Once the kids were asleep I sat and painted a Stormcast Eternal. In fact, I think I'll do another one now.

So yeah. It's good to be back. I'm looking forward to what the future brings with this.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Ghost - Rats (Official Music Video)

I've seen some rock fans debating whether or not Ghost actually still count as metal, and can't help but want to point out that music like this is where metal came from in the first place. This current earworm is a joy of a theatrical rock/metal tune. Bow down.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Music Video - Amaranthe - '365'

Amaranthe have certainly proven themselves to be consistent purveyors of quality melodic metal, even with lineup changes. This latest offering is every bit as vital and uplifting as ever.

Hello again, btw. I hope you're all well.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


My movies, TV, books, comics and geek lifetsyle site DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT is returning soon in a new form. Updates soon! For now, please follow the Diary's account on Twitter as @genreaddict

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A little less screaming into the void

Photo by Simon Harrison
I'm not publishing on here as much as I'd like to. To be honest, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, my writing, my day job, my kids, life and other demands, I sometimes forget to post on the place that was such a big thing for me. Blogging has been part of my personal and professional life for 16 years now, and the changing online landscape seems to be allowing me less and less time to offer something meaningful here on the main stage.

The micro-blogging revolution of Instagram posts, Tweets and the allure of the FB status could be likened to the thing that old fart music fans like myself often say about downloading music - everyone just wants the quick fix of a single these days, and nobody wants to sit through the full album. I can completely understand  that, and have been swept up by it myself for the simple reason that this is where the current is leading us.

The thing is, there are times I want to say more, to go deeper than a tweet or a vague status, but the platform for doing so just isn't there in the way I'd want it to be. Things move on. I used LiveJournal religiously for years, then Myspace. Facebook, Twitter et al came along and were more fun, then LJ had all that stuff going on that was, erm, questionable, and the world kept turning.

I have plenty to say, but with life being as it is right now, the available time to share what I'm saying is spread thinly across platforms. That's a shame, as the outlet that the internet offers is a beautiful (yet sometimes frightening) thing. I'm working out where my future is going and what I can learn from the past and present.

What am I saying? I'm saying I love you, Internet, and I won't be posting here much. Mind you, you know where to find me, right? That's probably where I'll be.