Creating A Retinue - Conversions Or Not?

Looking over the Games Workshop website, in-between moments of rage at how clunky the interface is, and mourning the loss of so many Specialist Games models, I was reminded that their are still a few models on there that I like and that would look good in INQ28. I'll go into the specifics of which models in the next post (when they'll hopefully have arrived from various places), but before that it makes sense to talk about what I'll be converting, what I'll be leaving alone, and why. But first, avenues of purchase.

With GW having cleared its virtual shelves recently, as well as the run of the mill removal of models as they are replaced, there are more than a few models that I remember fondly that are no longer around other than via eBay. There are of course still some older models on the webstore that I like, but there is a trust issue there. Many of the models have a number of variant sculpts, and with GW being unable to guarantee which model will be supplied I am once again forced to eBay, where you at least get a picture of exactly what is being offered (remember to check you're getting backpacks etc though). So when I know it's just the one model I'll be going via GW, if it's up for debate, or I need something rare, it's time to search the webs.

Forge World - Legio Cybernetica

I was going to have this post be on the Space Marine release rumours/pictures, but it looks like there is still more to come, and it's all over the web anyway. I'll talk Marines when the pre orders go up, and I can see some 360° shots.

Instead let's take a look at the two Forge World releases that the Space Marine rumours are overshadowing.

Both are from the forthcoming Horus Heresy Book, Massacre, and hail from the Legio Cybernetica. Let's start with the bigger model...

Castellax Battle-Automata - £36

Not too badly priced, when you get the arms in the kit, and a plastic Dreadnought is £28. 

I really like this model, it looks imposing, the mechanal parts look workable and I like the grabby claws. My favourite touch is the skull at the centre of the model, giving it an off centre focus, and a nice bit of grimdark. 

I tempted to say it borrow a little from Warmachine Warjack's but I think that's just the shoulderpads. It's certainly more balanced it its proportions than PP's models. 

The weapon feed at the rear looks serious stuff (lets face it, that's where it's gonig to be picked up/handled.) The back of the generator looks great as well, which is all for the good, as it's the kind of portion that sometimes gets skimmed on.

Creating A Retinue - Prologue

My hobby has always been driven by a narrative to some degree. The prospect of building up a retinue for INQ28, or whatever GW releases in the near future (my bet is an October release, so as not to interfere with September's Space Marines), blows this wide open, with things to be considered in far more detail. It's not a question of picking a Chapter, Kabal or Province, and putting the right coloured paint on models, but of deciding the reason why someone has a certain MK of Laspistol  (I like the Accatran Mark II) .

Concerning Habits

Well, that was a much longer break than the one I expected to take. Turns out the habit of writing a blog post a day is only a habit when you're doing it. Who knew?  I thought I'd be getting a lot of other things done rather than writing on here, but instead I've achieved laughable little of use.

So the good news for you is I don't have a huge slew of articles to drown you all in. There are reviews I need to catch up on (White Dwarf, etc, and Puppet Wars), but that's about it for getting going again.

White Dwarf - May 2013 (401) Review

Another month, another issue of White Dwarf.  We're starting to see some bigger changes from the format that has pervaded the last seven months, with tweaks made in the 400th issue being expanded upon.

There are two problems with the cover to my mind. Firstly the glaringly obvious joint on the Phoenix, which is a real shame given the quality of the rest of the model, and the paint job. Secondly there's the background, which though it sets off the model, is too indistinct. I'm caught up more in wondering what it is than anything else.
Opening Salvo 
Still mostly talking content. Give us something interesting.          
Unless something happens with this, I'm not mentioning it again.            
New Releases  
26 pages of High Elves, 2 pages of Hobbit (wholly focused on Radagast on that ridiculous sledge, 2 pages on the LE t-short of the month (is this a thing now?). A 2 page Games Days ad, that seems incongruous amid the other content, 4 pages of Black Library news, the first thing I actually want to read (rather than flick past, having already seen pictures online). The three pages of Forge World stuff seems really dated, with the Abaddon vs Loken piece released in Feb. Digital Products takes a page, and we round off with the two pages of release dates and prices, which include an out of place piece of Space Marine art.           
Army Of The Month      
A truly gorgeous Blood Angels force this month, from the brush of Mark Bedford. Look near the page hold for some tech adept conversions. It's disappointing that this is only 6 pages long, and contains only three paragraphs, as I could quite happily read more about the conversions, painting, and background of the army. There isn't anything in the Paint Splatter either. 
Jervis Johnson 
Jervis puts pen to paper for the second and final part of his piece on GM'd games. I can't help thinking that the two parter would have fitted into one issue with a smaller font and a photo of Jervis that doesn't take up half a page.          
Battle Report    
We are getting more distant shots to give an overview of the battlefield, as well as a deployment photo (weirdly coming before the armies are detailed). I think we might be seeing a slow improvement to things. Half marks. 
Armchair General           
A new feature that boils down to a single page piece padded out to four pages by photos. It has promise, but we need more words.     
A focus on the ladies of 40K. It's getting redundant to saw that the conversions in this section are glorious, but they are.                
Citadel Hall Of Fame      
The Hellbrute takes the stage this month and it is a truly lovely model.  
The Time Of Dragons    
An eight page feature on Dragons, with a look at the background from Mat Ward, and Trish Carden talking about sculpting and model design. It's a nice feature and something it'd be nice to see more of.               
Parade Ground
Dreadnoughts, and, nope, just Space Marines Dreadnoughts. 8 pages of th hulking things. These are becoming a bit too homogenous.   
Kit Bash               
6 pages of conversions, ranging from Warshrines, to Elves to Cultists, with a good range of conversions, from subtle to huge and imposing.   
Parade Ground (2)         
Back to machines with two legs. This time Titans.             
Golden Demon
2 pages on GD models from Japan          
Paints Splatter 
6 pages of High Elves, and 2 pages, oddly, of horses of different colours.              
Jeremy Vetock 
A ramble about getting models from plastic to painted this month.         
The Month In...               
White Dwarf     
Battles and models from around the studio.       
The Design Studio          
Surprising no one it's the High Elves in the spotlight this month, with the design studio talking at length, and Mat Ward taking a page.  I like this piece, but it feels like it ought to be in the main body of the magazine.
Forge World     
One massive tank, a bike, and some very well painted Marines.               
Black Library     
Guy Haley talks about Baneblade.           

Parting Shot      
The Goblin King in all his horrific glory.   
At last a redesign, with things all lining up nicely.              
Back Cover         
More elves on the icy backdrop               
There have been some obvious alterations to some sections of the magazine this month, and all for the better I think. There's still a lot more change I'd like to see, with the New Releases section shortened, so the magazine isn't spending over a sixth of it's page count on the army of the month. The gatefold page could fit a hell of a lot on it, rather than just the army picture. There seems to be a lot of wasted page space, with a feeling that photos are being used to pad out the magazine to 152 pages, rather than articles, if that makes sense. It'd be interesting to do a word count between a new issue and an old one, and see if this is a case of rose tinted reading glasses.

Infinity - April Release

It still throws me that the Infinity releases come at the back end of the month. Here's the latest set in the order Blogger's chosen to put the images up. 

Scots Guard

We saw this model last month. I really like the cloak, but it's ruined by having the big, non camouflaged, shoulder pad being so obvious.

Kirpal Singh, Akalis Major Sergeant

 A great model, the basics are all there, accentuated by the little details. The pose is solid and commanding, the armour is well detailed, and the face really draws the eye. I really like the helmet hanging from his belt. I really can't fault this model.

Domaru Takeshi “Neko” Oyama

Another fantastic character model, it'd take way too long to list the good points. The bad however is limited to two things. The sword grip being so low, and the manga stylings of face/hair. Otherwise it's a perfect model.

Haqqislam Support Pack

Unusually for the support packs, the Doctor and Engineer have been re-sculpted. The Doc looks good (apart from the bare midriff), but I can't shake the idea that the Engineer is sitting on an invisible stool.

Chaksa Auxiliaries

I'm really not a fan of these models. There's something disappointingly retro about them, and it's just not working for me. I'm not sure if it's lack of detail on the flesh, the chunky armour plates, or the shoulder mounted missile launcher.

I think Kirpal Singh is the model of the month, with other releases fallig short in one way or another. We really need to see another Tohaa push or their forces are going to stay a long way behind the model pool of other factions.

Specialist Games Winding Down Along With Collectors Ranges

Games Workshop are winding down Specialist Games, along with Forge World's tie in models, and the metal models in the Fantasy and 40K Collectors ranges. This post focuses on the Specialist Games, but many of the points transfer over.

I'll let that sink in, on the chance you're unaware of this. Not that there's a reason you'd be aware of this unless you have your eyes on the online community. Certainly GW have not put out any official word that this is happening. The main source of information is people ringing Customer Service and being told that model aren't being replaced.

The mechanics are brutally simple, in that as regional stock is run down models aren't being replaced. Instead you get this on the product page:

 On the main page you'll see that the "Add to Cart" button is missing from certain items.

Things are pretty much up in the air as to what's happen with rules or boxed sets. The rules are available in PDF format online through GW, and hopefully they'll stay like that officially, so the games don't wholly die out. 

I wonder how much this is a perfect storm of declining sales and the replacement of metal models with Finecast. Although there doesn't seem to be the big push that the was to move the main ranges over to Finecast.

Different games are going to be affected to different degrees. Necromunda, Mordhiem, and Gorkamorka are all going to see players either simply using models from the big two systems, or moving to other suppliers.

Blood Bowl is probably the game with the most specific non GW models available, so it's very dependent on how much you like GW's models vs those made by others

Inquisitor is a special case as that has already got a following using models outside the 54mm scale models specifically provided by GW, as part of INQ28.

Epic seemed to have its hayday before I got into the hobby, but it's always been outside my interest, so I can't really comment with any certainty on that. Likewise Battlefleet Gothic, which is facing stiff competition from Spartan Games and X-Wing I imagine.

Warmaster has always been an odd thing, and I never got the impression it was doing well even shortly after release.

Battle of Five Armies has had its card marked since the Hobbit really, and I couldn't tell you when it was pulled.

There's a whole issue of how none standard games (well, none 28mm) require different terrain etc, and the extra hoops they create for themselves, but that's a whole other post.

There is a lot of noise on the internet about this at the moment, although stocks don't seem to be vanishing as fast as might be expected. 

Putting aside the damage done to the gaming community there's an issue of transparency. We only know that the SG range is winding down because it was actively chased up. How is that a good way to run things? You'd think there'd be   a warning, and something like a few weeks to let people get the models they want. This seems especially bad in the week Feait 212 goes dark (I'll be posting about that shortly).

GW abandoned the Specialist Games range a long while ago. Somewhere I have a White Dwarf that charts the studio Necromunda campaign that was run in an effort to raise interest. I don't know the issue number off the top of my head, but it was many years back now. Certainly there's been no active promotion, online, in White Dwarf, or in stores, leaving the games to live and die on their own merits, and the power of the various communities off and on online to keep things going.

I wonder if we'll see White Dwarf rules for skirmish games under the two big systems of if GW is moving to just selling big armies? Or are we going to see an expensive plastic revival in the form of Limited Edition box sets.

There is going to be a lot of fall out from this. Here are my thoughts in a very vague order.
  • Run on popular models on GW, be it for personal use, or for resale at a layer date.
  • eBay prices are going to really ramp up, as people hold on to model rather than sell them, and we'll see big bidding wars over SG models, and probably books.
  • Increase in fakes, as people try and take advantage of the situation by casting copies of the OOP models.
  • Increase in non GW models - there are already firms producing models that can be used in Blood Bowl, Necromunda, etc (although not for other systems (Inquisitor springs to mind first, then Gorkamorka), each for different reasons I imagine), and this is only going to rise to fill the vacuum.
  • The above is also going to lead to people moving away from GW as they are exposed to other companies, be it for models, or simply because of moving to a totally new/different system.
  • Turning players away. This is going to be the last straw for some, as GW turns its back on their game. I can't help feeling they'd be somewhat justified. 
  • Increase in plastic set sales. This is going to depend on a lot of things, especially the situation with the sale of bits, but people are going to want more conversion bits to make model x that they can't get otherwise. This is going to be limited to the 28mm games obviously, and may not be noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
What I can;t see is players going back to the big two games if that wasn't what they played anyway.

So, to finish up, get what you want, while you can, and we'll all hold or breath to see what happens next.

Ravage #6 Review

As ever, if you're in the UK, head over to Valiant Wargames to pick this up.

Ravage is the most consistently interesting  magazine, thanks to the broad range of games it covers. This does mean that the some of the coverage falls outside my knowledge, but that's more problem, rather than the magazine's. There are still some iffy bits of translations, but the content is otherwise good.

Let's get going. 

A nice cover image, and a good run down of what's in the issue.               
Inside Front Cover          
Battle Foam ad 
Letter From The Editor 
As the first issue proper issueof 2013 (yes, I know I'm behind, but this is Feb/March issue, so give me some leeway)) this editorial focuses on the future of the mag.         
News Splash Page          
I'm still see these as a loss of a page, but like the way Ravage is divided up.         
Descent 2nd Ed Review
A four page review of the new edition of Decent, which gives fair coverage of the game, especially in relation to the previous version.            
Sedition Wars Review   
This is a bit more wide ranging than most reviews, talking as it does about the Kickstarter that brought the game to the masses.               
Anima Tactics Overview               
This article takes a look at some the factions within Anima Tactics focusing entirely on background (rather than how they play on the tabletop and the like)            
Jake Thornton takes a look at Dreadball from his standpoint as its designer, which is an interesting viewpoint to hear things from, as it's so rare.       
Bushido - Temple Of Ro-Kan      
This article takes a look at the Temple Of Ro-Kan in detail on the tabletop, both as individual models and for building a force.               
Horus Heresy Book One: Betrayal            
A remarkable balanced look at the huge tome, that covers many points.              
Dropzone Commander 
There's a big chunk of this article pulled straight from the Hawk Wargames site, which seems a bit of a cheat, that starts with a wide look at the game, and then focuses down to look at collecting a Scourge force, reviewing the models, and detailing a few games.  
Games Splash Page        
I'm going to run through this section fairly quickly, as it's a series of exclusive scenarios, and there's little I can say about them, being unfamiliar with many of the systems            
Dust Tactics Scenario     
Zombicide Scenario        
Battle For Albaster         
A bit of an oddity, that not only includes a scenario, but also a mini summary of the game, background and painting advice.               
Mercs Campaign Scenarios, Chapter Three and Four      
Hobby Splash Page         
Painting Guide - Morat Raicho   
A odd article, that talks about itself a bit much, before getting into 3 pages of photos going stage by stage though painting the model, mainly by airbrush, but seems lacking in detail.          
Dust Tactics - Hades In 3D            
A piece on building a room terrain piece to use in Dust, in this case a sewer. It suffers from not having a large picture of the finished piece, but otherwise there are interesting things to take away.               
Eden: Abandoned Warehouse Diorama
A remarkable detailed diorama, that's all the more astounding, for using walls made from hand drawn bricks.    
Mercs Advert   
Reclaiming The Sularian Gate - Duel        
A step by step piece of following the creation of an impressive entry into the French 2012 Golden Daemon.       
Elvish Base From A To Z
Focused, as the title suggests, on a quite magnificent base, this piece covers a lot of ground, from trees to home made roofing structures.         
Skarrd Abomination: Step be step           
Three pages take the model from fresh out the box to finished, with a focus on the base, and construction.       
Community Splash Page              
Steampunk Files              
An expansive six page piece that touches on Steampunk in its many media forms, especially, but not limited to its tabletop incarnations      
Quirkworthy's Ramblings             
A page taking the bull by the horns and dealing with the harsh decisions needed when you have too many games/armies.               
Dreadball Ad     
Ravage Ad          
Dark Age Teaser              
Back Cover         
Infinity Campaign Paridiso Ad      

This is the best score I've given Ravage, even with number of 0s (I'll double check my scoring is consistent tomorrow).