20 June 2008

Damned Space Marines

As Vth edition gets even closer, I've put my order in for two Gamer's Editions, primarily because I want those ammo boxes. More money down the drain, but like a drug addict, I keep going back to get my fix....

A recent trip home resulted in my returning to Montreal with a batch of 2nd ed Space Marine tanks, distributed evenly across Predators, Whirlwinds, Razorbacks, and Rhinos. This has provoked me to build them up for my siegemarine army, which I built three Vindicators into last year.

I have not, of course, actually started to do any work on them; but my imagination proceeds forward at flank speed.

16 April 2008

A Guardsman by any other name....

As a direct result of antipathy towards GW and their price model, and an eBay habit that won't quit, I've begun to build an Imperial Guard army based around proxied miniatures from Warzone. Actually, there are nominally two armies in the works, since I have 160 plastic miniatures coming, evenly divided between Imperial Regulars and Bauhaus Ducal Militia.

I've had a ton of Bauhaus stuff kicking around over the years (Venusian Rangers really defined the feel of the game for me), and, as a Germanophile, I've always wanted to build a first world war themed army out of them. Given the associated cost of an actual Death Korps army from Forgeworld, this seemed like a reasonable compromise.

11 April 2008

Ask...and thou shalt receive?

I recently dropped a line to Jervis Johnson, purely out of frustration at not currently being able to get Steel Legion Plasma Gunners for my army.

Not able to entirely check my rancor, here is what I sent:
"Hi Jervis,

I'm a long time GW hobbyist, and I'm hoping you might help me out. I've recently taken out my Guard army and recognized the need dor a special weapon other than a grenade launcher. However, the SL Plasma Gunner is not available in GW's current Bitz Catalog.

While I have read and am prepared to accept the rationale behind the drastic reduction to the Bitz service, I am curious to know what happened with this model, and if it will soon be available.

Thank you,
As you can see, I did not vent my spleen on the subject of there only being two special weapons for the SL in the first place. I commend my own restraint.

I was astounded to find, in my inbox today, this reply:

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll pass this onto the team responsible for the collectors & bitz range so they can deal with it.

Thanks again for writing in.

Jervis Johnson

Now, if this actually translates into action, my hat will certainly be off to Jervis Johnson. One of GW's 10 Commandments for Management is "Faith, Not Heresy", and I will be faithful in this circumstance that Jervis will follow through.

10 April 2008

20,000 Leagues

I'm embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of this before today, but it seems terribly significant:


08 April 2008

For the Empire! Venerate the Immortal Emperor!

My job is fairly repetitive, and the upshot of this is that I listen to a lot of podcasts, and get paid an absurd amount of money to do so.

For sparing me a significant amount of boredom, I want to extend my thanks to Jeff Carroll at Podhammer. If you play Warhammer fantasy, you owe it to yourself to listen to Jeff and his gaming gang discuss the ins and outs of the game. The Australians really have a top-notch tournament scene and these guys know what they are talking about. So, listen to Jeff!

On the 40k side of things is 40k Radio. This is, I would argue, the best of the 40k 'casts. The cohosts, Spencer Harding and Phil Johnson have great chemistry and an in-depth knowledge of the hobby. On the downside, they are 40k players, and consequently their idea of what makes a great game is sadly awry. Face it guys--Fantasy is the better game. 40k has all the strategy of a simian dung fight. Maybe that'll change with 5th ed.

Two strong podcasts for your listening pleasure.

20 March 2008

Chris Pine is a moron

Though I give the casting director credit for selecting Chris Pine, appearance-wise, as the youthful version of Captain Kirk in the upcoming Star Trek film, I must condemn his lack of loyalty to the franchise.

Most fantasy/sci-fi gamers are fans of either Star Trek or Star Wars, and often both, for varying reasons. Died-in-the-wool Star Trek fans know the pain of facing off against the pop-culture success of Star Wars, and can react only with outrage at a recent interview with Pine. Staing for USA Today that he is "“not trying to copy” the one, true Kirk, Pine instead says he is modelling his portrayal on HARRISON FORD:

"What Harrison Ford is so great at doing is bringing that quality to his characters that if they could be anywhere else in the world they would be there, but he is not, he just is in the middle of s*** and he has to figure out a way of dealing with it so that he can go back to doing whatever the hell he was doing before the film started…
I’ve always loved that quality about him in Star Wars, this sense of absolute grumpy manner; the accidental hero. Not to say that I modeled my version of James T Kirk on anything in particular but I think I definitely have wanted to bring that kind of Harrison Ford humour to Kirk."

Hey jackass: Kirk LOVED what he did. He would never have traded being a starship captain for anything else in the world, not love, not a family, not growing old. Being in the "middle of s***" is a starship captain's job. There is no getting back to doing something else.

Now to be fair to Pine, I don't really think he is a fan of either franchise. I think he goes to movies, or went to movies before he was an "actor", for fun. And Indy and Han are good "action" roles, fun and energetic. I also don't think he has an idea of what he was stepping in, vis-à-vis Trek fans and the problems we have faced in the shadow of Star Wars.

All good Trek/Wars fans know there is only one Captain Kirk, and there is only one Han Solo, and never shall the twain meet.

19 March 2008

Seas of Blood

I just recieved my very first Man O'War miniatures. For some absurd reason, I've been eBay-ing this stuff like mad. I have three box rules sets (Man O'War, Plague Fleet, Sea of Blood) on their way and have ordered ships for a variety of fleets. 'Cause you know, having one fleet isn't enough; you need to be able to provide a fleet for a friend, and hey, two fleets aren't enough either. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

So a bubble-wrap filled envelope was slid through my mail slot yesterday and with was the beginning of my Dwarf fleet. Despite their natural adversity to water, the Dwarves make fearsome sea-farers in their steam powered gunships. I lovingly unwrapped my first ever ship, a Dwarf Ironclad.... It was beautiful. The miniatures are well sculpted and nicely detailed. I can't wait to paint them.

03 March 2008

Seeing Red

Everything I've seen about the forthcoming Vampire Counts army for Warhammer Fantasy is awesome (a word I do not employ lightly). Fantastic models and a rework of some of the army list's mechanics that instills a strong sense of theme and really makes the VC stand out as an army.

Much hand-wringing has been provoked by the vampiric Blood Knight cavalry, who promise to be far more dangerous than even the current heavyweight contenders, Chosen Chaos Knights. They look stellar, perfectly capturing what a badass vampire knight should be.

However, someone over at GW Canada is apparently suffering from anal-cranial inversion, as the price tag for a five man box has been set at a staggering $110.00 (plus tax). In the US, you can fetch them for $75.00, and, in the UK, the asking price is £40.00. This is higher than the Chaos knights, at $65.00 CDN, $50.00US, and £30.00, which is not, in and of itself, unreasonable, as it appears that the mounts are metal. By God, they better be metal.

Still, all of the usual objections about currency comparison and endorsements of the WarStore aside, who in their right mind would think that people should pay more for five admittedly fearsome vampire thralls on mighty horses than a BANEBLADE? At $95.00CDN, give me a super-heavy war engine of doom, please.

Two vigourous thumbs up for fantastic models and a cool looking army. Two thumbs down (in the gladitorial sense, if possible) for absurd pricing.

Attention Games Workshop Canada: Your customers are not as stupid as you think they are.

30 January 2008

There are no heresies in a dead religion

The much-anticipated Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game, Dark Heresy, was released on 25 January, 2008, and sold out that very day, preorders exhausting those copies not sent forth to distributors.

Hard on the heels of what virtually any observer must describe as a tremendously successful release, the book's publishers, Black Industries, issued a release three days later, on 28 January, announcing the termination of the entire line following the eventual release in September 2008 of the third supplemental release. To restate, the Dark Heresy game will have a production lifetime of 10 months, and include only the core book and the three supplements, Purge the Unclean, The Inquisitor's Handbook, and Disciples of the Dark Gods. Those suckers -- I mean, devoted fans and worthy customers who purchased the core book may take comfort in the knowledge that:
"For the time being Black Industries will continue to post articles in support of the products on their official website, which is a fantastic resource for scenarios and gaming tools for GM’s and players alike."
It appears that this is not the fault of the sad bastards who actually wrote the game, since Black Industries as a whole is being folded back into its parent, Black Library Publishing, which is, of course, a subsidiary of Games Workshop. Kevin Rountree General Manager of BL Publishing has this to say:
"As a result of the continued and impressive success of our core novels business, which we have built around 40K and Warhammer, we have decided to focus all of our efforts on growing this part of our business. Black Industries has seen fantastic success, most recently with Talisman and Dark Heresy. This change does not take away from that achievement rather it allows BL Publishing to focus on producing the best novels we can. This is a purely commercial decision and will enable us to carry on the huge growth that we have recently been experiencing with our novels."
So, according to our man Kevin, Black Industries is fantastically successful, and, by logical extension, must therefore be closed down so as to improve the production of BL's novel business. Seen in that light, this "purely commercial decision" makes perfect sense.

Naturally, fans are in an uproar. The forum on the subject of the announcement has 26 pages, 500 posts, and almost 42,000 views as of today. Shouts of "Betrayal!" resound, mitigated in part by support for Dave Allen, Mike Mason, and the other staff in light of their perhaps uncertain employment future. The dominant cry, however, is "Why?"

Speculation regarding GW's pacts with the Forces of Darkness aside, the most likely answer is to be found in the hard numbers of Games Workshop's year end financial statement. An operating loss in 2007 of £2.1 million (a significant drop from 2006's £4.2 million profit) suggests that Chairman and CEO Tom Kirby may not have done everything possible to earn his £371,000 of salary and benefits. This is the latest in a series of declining profits over the past years:



operating profit
before taxation
after taxation
Basic (loss)/earnings
per ordinary share

(Coincidentally, the third Lord of the Rings movie, Return of the King, was released December, 2003)

So, in fact, this announcement may not be just another kick in the teeth. Instead, it may be, as Kevin Rountree says, "a purely commercial decision", intended to tie a tourniquet around the limb of a company that is bleeding capital in an especially messy fashion.


Games workshop has negotiated a deal with Fantasy Flight Games to distribute all of GW's board games, collectible card games, and role playing games. This move, virtually unprecedented for GW, is incredible news for everyone who has loyally supported these lines, and should mean the continued support of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy, and Talisman. More info here. This is an interesting move for GW, especially since they are in direct competition with Fantasy Flight in the miniature wargame market; FFG is the North American distributor for Rackham's Confrontation and AT-43 lines, both now pre-painted. The long term implications for this new arrangement should prove interesting to observe.

22 January 2008

Go Green or Go Home

It's about time. Almost 10 years after their last Codex release, the Orks have emerged in a shiny new 4th edition format. Chaos is on it's third book, Tau their second, Eldar their second and a half, well, you get the point, and the Greenskins finally get their just desserts.

And it looks pretty good. A Shokk Attack Gun(!), a sexy new truck, bikes that suit the new Ork aesthetic, Weirdboyz(!) -- there's a lot here to love. Bomb Squigz even! I love all of these releases. (BTW kids, buy them in the States, because GW Canada thinks that you are STUPID and cannot use the Internet: Canadian Ork Trukk $45 vs. US Ork Trukk $30. Today, the Canadian Dollar is worth 0.9686 US Dollars, so the Trukk should cost either $30.97 CDN if the American price is the right one, or $43.59 US if the Canadian price is correct. An even smarter consumer will save 20% on the American price at the Warstore.)

I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but any Ork fan knows this is so far overdue as to verge on insulting. Orks are a fundamental part of games wORKshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe; they were the original antagonists featured in the first 40k book, Rogue Trader, and rated THREE entire hardcover books detailing their rules and background, Waagh The Orks, 'Ere We Go, and Freebooterz. This was, I admit, perhaps a tad much, bordering on overkill even. Chaos only had two books, Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned, and these coved both Fantasy and 40k. Still, even the shortest of the three Ork books, Freebooterz, was 144pp. and thus one 48pp paperback Codex for 3rd ed. 40k and the first half of 4th, without so much as a Weapons Summary to tell you what a Big Shoota does, is a slap in the face. The new book is a step in the right direction, but I do fear it may be a little late in the day, and disingenuous in the extreme, to now promote Orks the way they ought to have been five or more years ago.