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Friday, 31 May 2013

Why I Hate Parcelforce

One of the many projects I've backed on Kickstarter finally shipped my rewards last week, as a result I have a new card game called Strategy of War to look forward to. However I'm going to be waiting a while longer before I can get my hands on it, because of the disorganised farce that dares to call itself a parcel delivery service.

To paraphrase the Joker: I have given a name to my pain, and it is Parcelforce.

This particular shipment was sent with full tracking via USPS, as a result I know that it was posted on May 20th and arrived in the UK last Sunday (May 26th) and cleared customs first thing on Tuesday morning. Fair enough, they didn't process it on a bank holiday and I wouldn't expect them to. But I can see that Parcelforce took possession of it by Tuesday lunchtime.

I received the invoice for the customs charges today. Since it came by first class post that means it took 2 days for Parcelforce to process and send an automated invoice! I've already paid it, but since it won't be delivered until Monday (no way am I paying an extra £12 for a Saturday delivery) that means it's probably going to wind up getting redelivered to my local post office. Which means I won't be able to get my hands on it until next Saturday, since (like most reasonable people) I'm at work while the post office is open so I won't have a chance to pick it up before then.

Net result of that 2 days delay; I have to wait over a week for a "next day delivery".

I shouldn't get so angry about it, after all this is the standard of service I've come to expect from Parcelforce. At least they've acknowledged payment this time. Last time they took my money and refused to admit it, it took me 2 weeks and half a dozen phone calls to finally get them to arrange delivery.

I'll stop ranting now. It doesn't help, but it does make me feel a bit better.

P.S. On a lighter note, Mike from Peterborough Wargames is still running his prize draw in celebration of hitting 100,000 page views on his blog. If you haven't taken a look at it yet I thoroughly recommend it, it's generally a good read. But if you haven't enjoyed this post, don't read his rant about UPS. :-)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

(Lack of) Progress Report

I said that my aim for the bank holiday weekend was to get enough models painted for my corrupted Grey Knights army that I would be able to field a legal allied contingent in a game of 40K. I'm ashamed to say that I failed in even this modest task.

It wasn't a complete failure. I did get my first HQ choice painted, a Librarian/Sorceror. I have a squad of 5 Terminators that's about 80% completed, but only one of those is in a state where I could call it complete. So success on the HQ, but a fail on the troops choice.

Plus I now have a much better idea of what the army will look like. I've posted pictures of the Librarian, and I'm happy with the colour scheme. There's certainly no danger of these being mistaken for regular Grey Knights anyway.

Close up of the Librarian/Sorceror - a mix of Grey Knight and Chaos Terminator parts

Detail of the model's cloak, I'm quite pleased with the flame patterns
So what's next? Well, obviously I'm going to finish the 5 Terminators I've got almost completed, plus I've got 5 more undercoated to take the squad up to full strength. After that, I want to concentrate on the possessed Nemesis Dreadknight (also undercoated and ready to start).

P.S. When I say the Librarian is finished, I'm not including the base in that. I like to base models in batches, otherwise I always wind up wasting glue. So what I'll do is wait until I've got the full squad of 10 Terminators done and base the Librarian at the same time.

P.P.S. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the prize draw that Mike from Peterborough Wargames is running on his blog in celebration of 100,000 page views.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Distractions

So, I haven't got a great deal done on my Grey Knights army over the last couple of weeks. The distractions have been kind of piling up, in no particular order I've had to deal with the following:


  • Work (always a problem)
  • Movies I couldn't miss (Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Oblivion in the last 2 weeks)
  • Miniatures I had to paint up for Judge Dredd
  • Miniatures I had to paint up for a different 40K army
Since I'm here to talk about gaming I'll concentrate on the latter (although all the movies get a big thumbs up from me).

I've been running a Lone Vigilante in the Judge Dredd campaign we've been running at the club. up until now he's been fine by himself but he recently picked up a couple of superhero allies and a sidekick, all of which needed painting for a game 2 Mondays ago at the club. You can see the results below.
The Judgement League (from L-R) - Captain Liberty, Dreddpool, Tin Man and Nocturne.
As it happens, my efforts were in vain as my force got roundly thrashed by Judge Anderson.

Then this week I had a game of 40K in the other club campaign I'm taking part in. This time I was using my Daemon army and wanted to include a couple of Daemon Princes, but they weren't painted and as my Daemon army is one the few where I can field a fully painted force I wasn't going to ruin that. So I got them done, and this time managed to wipe the floor with Jonathan's Ultramarines thanks to some better than average luck with armour saves. Again, the results are below.
Daemon Prince of Tzeentch

The Prince of Tzeentch has actually turned out to be a test model for my Grey Knights, the cyan and red colour scheme on his power armour is what I had in mind and I like the results. The cyan is suitably garish for an army of Tzeentch and the red offsets it nicely.

So I guess I have achieved something towards my new army after all.

Daemon Prince of Khorne
My goal for the bank holiday weekend is to get enough Grey Knights painted up to be able to field an allied contingent, which means an HQ and a troops choice. We'll have to see how that goes I guess.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

And now for something different

When I started this blog I was going on about how I'm starting on 2 new armies. Up until now I've only been going on about my new force for 40K, I haven't even touched on the new historical army I've been planning. It's time to change that.

My plan - and it's an idea I've been kicking about for ages - is to put together an army based on Spartacus' slave revolt. I'll admit it right up front, I'm a fan of the TV series and even though I know it's about as historically accurate as Braveheart it's still my primary inspiration here. But I think I can still put an army together that fits the historic details while capturing the feel of what I want to do. Either way, it's going to be fun but it's also going to be a longer term project.

I made a start at Salute, I picked up a box each of Wargames Factory's Ancient Germans and Numidians - they're the right period, they're wearing tunics or less, with a few head swaps I figure they'll make up a couple of decent sized units of slaves. What I'd like though is to be able to field some of them with equipment looted from fallen Roman troops; weapons and especially shields. I got a few free sprues of Warlord's new Republican Romans at Salute as well, so that gives me a dozen shields plus some gladiuses and pilums to play with. Gripping Beast do a pack of scutum shields for an excellent price that I may have to pick up.

So next on the list are some gladiators. The obvious candidates are Foundry, plenty of character and variety. I've got plans to use the retiarii as skirmishers with their nets counting as bucklers. There's a good mix of weapons and armour types too. My only possible issue is one of scale, I know Foundry's miniatures tend to be on the smaller end of the 25mm scale. Fortunately Foundry have an event coming up soon that I'm planning on attending to try out Gods of Battle so I can see how they measure up then.

My big issue though is finding a ruleset to use. WAB is the obvious candidate, but I've had issues with the rules in the past and the fact that it's out of production is another issue since I don't own a copy of Armies of Antiquity. I picked up a copy of War and Conquest at Campaign the other week, partly because the army lists are a free download. I've not had a chance to play a game yet, but I'm hopeful. The other alternative is Hail Caesar from Warlord, but as far as I can tell they don't have an army list for the slave revolts so I'd have to adapt something. I've not played that one yet either, so I see some practice games in my future.

Anyway, that's the plan. Such as it is.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Oldhammer - Feeling Nostalgic?

So I've noticed the whole "Oldhammer" revivial of the 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles going on and I'll admit it's got me a bit nostalgic. WFB 3rd  was the edition I started with and only the second wargame I ever played (after 40K Rogue Trader), and I'll admit the idea of going back to where it all started has a certain appeal.

Don't get me wrong, I play the current version of WFB and I still enjoy it; in spite of all its flaws it's still a good game and it's a lot better than the mess that was 7th edition. But 3rd edition was a whole different kettle of fish. The level of detail (and associated complexity) in the rules was like nothing I've seen since, probably a bit much for a 14 year old in hindsight but I just about managed back then and I'd love to see what I could make of it with another 20+ years of experience under my belt.

But, I told myself I wasn't ever going to splash out the kind of cash necessary to pick up a proper Oldhammer army on eBay. Not when I had so many other current armies on the go. So despite the fact I still have my 3rd edition rulebook kicking about somewhere (the benefits of being a hoarder as well as a gaming addict) I thought that was as far as I was going to go.

Then on the drive home from work tonight I remembered something. Right up there along with the rules is my original Chaos Warrior army. Couple of bit units of Warriors on foot, a couple of units of Chaos Thugs, a handful of cavalry and a whole bunch of dragon ogres and other assorted monsters. Given how many points Chaos Warriors cost back then (it was a whole unit of hero level troops and you paid for it) that should actually make a fairly substantial army.

So I guess I'm heading up into the loft sometime soon.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Mantic Open Day 2013 - Tournament Report

Today was the Mantic Open Day, held in Nottingham in one of the most unusual venues I've seen for an event like this. We were in a disused NHS surgery that had been fairly comprehensively stripped of anything that could have been considered useful. The Dreadball Tournament (the reason I was there) was in the main reception area, the shop area was in a storeroom, Mantic CEO Ronnie Renton was holding seminars in on of the reception offices while the other reception office was being used for Deadzone demonstrations. The highlight (pun very much intended) was the Warpath participation game that they had set up in what I think was an old exam room; the room itself had been stripped of its light fittings so the whole game was illuminated by a single spotlight set up in one corner of the room. Made it very atmospheric, but I'm not sure that was intentional!
Corporation troops defend a fortified position at twilight (well, sort of)
All in all it was a very weird setting, it felt a bit like we were gaming in a squat. None of this stopped it being an excellent event though.

One thing that really struck me was just how quick to play Kings of War is. I backed this on Kickstarter, I love the miniatures and I really like the look of the rules but I haven't had a chance to actually play it yet. Mantic had set up a 16ft table packed with miniatures on both sides. If we tried doing something like this at the club using Warhammer the game would take all day and we'd still run out of time. Mantic ran the whole thing in about 3 hours and were set up for another game after lunch! I need to give this game a try sometime.
The battlefield for the Kings of War game
Orcs with battle elephants - great idea

As far as the tournament goes, I started out great and got steadily worse as the day went on. I had intended to run a human team using the new Void Sirens list from Season 2, but after getting the models painted up last week I chickened out at the last minute and went with my Orx and Goblins, the Obliterators,  since they're the only team I have any experience with. My first game was against a Forge Fathers team (I'll apologize to my opponents now, as I've forgotten all of your names). This really couldn't have gone better, I battered his team into the floor and basically controlled the pitch all game. The lack of speed from a Forge Fathers team makes it easy to play around them, and this really was a landslide. My opponent admitted he'd only played a handful of games before but he took the result very well and was great sport. Plus his team will look great once he's painted the rest of them.
The Obliterators face off in their first game of the day

My second game was against a human team and was a lot more hard fought. I managed to get 3 of my Orx killed, but hung in there and fought back. In the end, time got called on the game while we were in the middle of sudden-death overtime and the final result was a draw. A fair result for an excellent game.

My third game was more humans, this time an opponent I'd faced before at the tournament at Hammerhead in February using the Void Sirens list and . In fact this was exactly the team I'd been considering bringing. I had an absolute nightmare of a game; everything I attempted seemed to fail, I had players who refused to get up off the floor for several turns, 2 Orx killed and one ejected from the game. In the end, I was lucky not to have lost by more than I did although I was actually in the running right up until the final turn and could have won if my last couple of dice rolls had worked out.

Finally, I had another standard human team. This time from the Starktech corporation wearing standard-issue red and gold armour. I had a great time in this game, hammered my opponent into the floor, got a couple of kills and was looking good for the win. Then I lost. Things really can shift that quickly in Dreadball, a couple of good dice rolls and the right cards played can see the ball down the far end of the pitch in the blink of an eye. Even my opponent didn't realise he'd won until I pointed it out. Unfortunately it appears I didn't grab any photos of this team.

End result, 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses. Better than my last tournament, but this time I hadn't killed enough opponents to get the "Most Violent Coach" award. Apparently this is going to be an annual event, so I will definitely be back next year.
Mix of Dreadball and Deadzone models on display

In addition to the Dreadball, I got a chance to see Deadzone in action. The game looks really interesting, it doesn't play like any other wargame I've played before now. It's a bit boardgame-like, but in a good way. Really looking forward to this one. Plus the models look amazing.
I hadn't realised just how big the first generation Plague models were until I saw one in the flesh...

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Preparing to be Unprepared

So, we have a Judge Dredd Miniatures tournament coming up at the club. Right now it's a nice, comfortable distance away. September 8th to be precise. Before then, we have to come up with some suitable scenarios for creating a sequel to the Necropolis storyline from 2000AD and paint up a suitably huge number of zombies for those scenarios and big the multi-player finale to the event.

And since this was all pretty much my idea, I expect that I'll be doing most of that myself.

I have enough zombies, following some last minute purchases at Salute I have at least 150 of them sat on sprues waiting. And I have 4 months to paint them in. No problem right? Maybe not for someone who's considerably more organised than me. So I've just booked the first week in September off from work, with no plans other than sitting at home painting zombies for a week. Because I know that's how things will turn out.

On a more positive note, I've managed to get another Dreadball team painted over the weekend. I thought cutting down the pile of unpainted figures a bit would feel good, but my next batch of rewards for backing the Dreadball kickstarter arrived today. So now I've got 4 more unpainted Dreadball teams to add to the queue.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Games Workshop = Apple?

This is something that occurred to me about a week ago, but has been rattling around in the back of my mind ever since and refuses to go away. Games Workshop are the Apple of the wargaming world, which would make Warhammer the iPhone.

Before you bite my head off, think about it for a minute.

Both diverged from their previous offerings to release a couple of products that went on to define their new market.

Both are now struggling to keep pace with new innovations from a raft of competitors who didn't exist five years ago. In both cases, they started struggling when the original innovators left (or died) and the money-men took over.

As a result, both have taken to releasing updated versions of their existing products with just enough new features to keep their fanboys happy and just about keep pace with the competition.

Both have made unsuccessful attempts to diversify from their core offerings. In some cases these failed due to lack of corporate support, in others because the market simply wasn't there. In the latter cases, the corporate support is still there and refuses to let the idea die.

Both have a nasty habit of launching a lot of unnecessary lawsuits.

Both still have a legion of enthusiatic fanboys plus enough supportive journalists to keep them in business for a long time to come. And both have their detractors who slate anything they come out with as derivative or overpriced or both.

And here I am, ready to support one and slate the other. What does that say about me at the end of the day?