Wednesday, 17 May 2017

PROLOGUE - Due to the owner / Grand High Poo Bah of Spikey Bits getting royally out of his pram as I didn't follow their Terms of Service, which include adding a link to their site (done) I hearby note that indeed, this article uses as it's basis an piece first posted on probably the worst 40k based 'news and rumours' site on the internet.  Happy now Rob? It's a shame that instead of collaborating and celebrating different views you decided to go straight to the nuclear option, but that's your prerogative.... 



Earlier today, a site called 'Spikey Bits' (to which you can find a link above - it'll take you straight to the original article) posted an opinion piece on the frustration felt by one of its writers toward the release strategy being undertaken by Games Workshop in relation to the upcoming 8th edition of Warhammer 40k.



Now normally I'd just ignore it and move on - it's just Spikey Bits doing what it does best - making a lot of noise for not much output, but this... whine needed to be answered, rebutted even.  SB get's a lot of traffic thanks to it's hyperbolic headlines and click bait links, so for something as negative as this to be published when there is a wide sense of excitement and enjoyment towards the new edition couldn't go unresolved.


DISCLAIMER:
I am not affiliated to nor do I work for, Games Workshop. I am a passionate fan of their products and enjoy painting and playing with their miniatures and games.  
I will take each point raised (apparently these are the thoughts of, in Rob Baer’s words ‘Someone with multiple degrees pertaining to the subject’ - his words not mine…) and attempt to place a counter argument (my rebuttal is in italics throughout - emphasis in the Original post is the writers, not mine)

 Can someone at Games Workshop please take an Organizational Change class? Please. You’ll thank me for this one, promise.
We’ve talked about change before and how people are naturally adverse to it.
(This is correct. On the whole, groups of people with interests are resistant to change)
 However, there’s a number of key things that leaders can do to help pull off a change.

Could you imagine Apple holding a daily press conference to show us every new feature of it’s latest phone one by one? (This is a false equivalency. Apple are not in the industry of creating games systems. Now, if the writer had said, perhaps Electronic Arts, they would have had a better understanding of the issue).


It’s the Economy Points Stupid.

Before we get into how organizational change can be improved, it’s important to understand the keys to success from previous releases. In this case, points was critical to Age of Sigmar gaining Traction. I’ve been reading some things about how AoS turned around because of the increased listening y’all have been doing. While this listening is great, don’t let your marketing team take all the credit.
AoS turned around because you added points.
The feedback has been great, it’s the icing on the cake but without points that feedback would have been useless. (certainly, I will concede that it’s because they listened they knew to add points, but seriously, they should have known they needed points.)
(This is pure conjecture. There are no hard and fast figures to back this assertion up, that sales of AOS were slow prior to the Generals Handbook coming out.  As anyone who works in marketing or even basic data research knows, assertions without data are just opinions and should not be used to provide support for an argument such as this)


Early Wins

Want people to change? They need to see results now. Not next year; the sooner the better. Whenever you make change you want to show people that the changes you’re making are good. You do this by creating early wins. Things people can see are good right off the bat. To a certain degree the streamlined rules are an early win, people can see some units are getting better and may come off the shelf.
However, without points we’re still at a loss on how it all fits together. The points are the secret sauce; if you did good then letting us see them would have been an amazing early win. At the speed of the internet maybe you’ll release points before this article gets released. Before May 15 would have been great in my opinion.
(Ah, so now we get to the heart of the writers issue… they want to see points. they want to see how armies for tourna- SORRY, Matched Play will work. Now, all of the information given so far (up to last week’s reveal of how Power Levels and Point will work) has been to give a ‘flavour’ of the system - not to provide any level of detail on the system itself.  This is akin to Electronic Arts providing gameplay videos of games not yet finished - it shows you whats coming in order to whet your palate, an amuse bouche maybe).

Evangelists

These are the people who sell it. A small group of committed individuals who go from group to group and show them the changes are amazing. You really should have gotten your FLGS teammates together, given them the rules and allowed them to do demo games. Think of it as a soft launch. Want to see the new rules? Head to your local game store and get in a sample game. Will some of them leak the rules and points ? Sure, but what’s wrong with letting us know what’s good?
(Who says that this isn’t happening? Warhammer Community is running articles from passionate and engaged leading lights in the 40k community at this very moment in terms ‘Faction Focus’ articles - these are guys and girls who have played the game, have hands on experience of the system and how it plays, how each Faction interacts with the new rules. Just because you weren’t asked, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Now, far be it from me to argue it, but I think posting articles online where anyone with an internet connection can see them is far better and a more controlled environment (not to mention more cost effective) than trying to coordinate 1000’s of stores across the globe in this early stage of the release cycle).
Could you imagine Apple holding a daily press conference to show us every new feature of it’s latest phone one by one? No. Ugh. That would hurt. What you’re doing now is painful.
(here we are AGAIN - the Apple comparison. A better equivalence is EA - show the gameplay, show the various ‘roles’ that can be taken in game - show maps etc.. as you build hype for the game. In fact, Wizards of the Coast did this very thing for DnD5e -  yes, they beta tested as well, but they also did a huge roll out of what was changing and how the feel of the game would be handled post 4e - just as GW are doing now. False equivalencies are pointless and weaken the writers argument hugely.)

Wait, Wait, Don’t sell me.

Okay, I will admit this is anecdotal but I don’t get access to sales figures so we’re just going to have to deal with what we got. The FLGS’s I’ve been too and friends have been too say that sales are struggling. It’s clear this extra long preview is to blame.
Even if you think everything is good no matter how hard you try there are going to be winners and losers. Okay fine, I could be wrong, but history says I’m not.
If everything is a winner then why not show us the points? Those army previews you’re publishing from tournament players are cute but where’s the meat? We need the points. Show us the Points!
Anecdotal evidence says 40k sales have stalled. If you let people go to the store to see the points, let the FLGS owners show those interested players that the change is good what they’re in for you’ll start to effect change. Those players that have tried the game at the store and seen the points will go out and tell others it’s a good game. Then when you’re ready to show us the new edition you’ll have an army of evangelists.
(Again with the anecdotal evidence! And this writer apparently has degrees! The first thing you’re taught when writing dissertations is - DON’T STATE IT IF YOU CAN’T SUBSTANTIATE IT!! The writer also ignores the fact that 40k (the game, not the wider setting) is but one product line in a business with hundreds of product lines. Since the announcement of 8th Edition GW have released the following:
Kharadon Overlords - a whole new army for AOS
Shadow Wars: Armageddon - a whole new boxed game, rulebook and scenery kits
Blood Bowl Goblins
And that’s so far. GW will have seen the gaps that not having those 40k sales would create as players anticipate the new edition dropping and have accounted for them - by releasing goodies for their other games (this doesn’t include the countless novels & Forgeworld items for both Heresy and Lord of The Rings that have been released in the same timescale).  This is no different to the drop in sales immediately before the release of a new version of a console game in fact.  Now, it has been said (both by the writer and by others on Social Media) that LGS’s have seen a downturn in sales due to the anticipation drop in 40k sales. This I would also argue that a store that hinges a large proportion of its turnover to one line is a store that’s run incorrectly - any business worth its place should know this, it’s business 101.)

Detractors, aka Trolls

Yup, you’re going to get these guys. Yes, they’ll show up, get a demo, and hate everything. Odds say you’re going to get some converts. You’re not going to convince everyone but if you give no demo’s then you’ll have zero converts.
(I dont disagree with the first sentiment expressed. However, the second one is again, a fallacy. These ‘teasers’ are designed to generate interest. The Demos will kick off when the stores receive their packs and commence doing so. Think of this as ‘Phase One’ - demos therefore are ‘Phase Two’ and release is ‘Phase Three’. I would also point to several million dollar accruing Kickstarters which have been massively successful without demo games full stop which fly in the face of this assertion..)

Learning for your Mistakes, while making new ones.

If the AoS release was botched it’s because you didn’t maintain the points system and it seemed like a money grab. He who has the biggest collection wins. The AoS setting is still destroyed, the core rules are 99% intact, but you added points. It’s not hard to see the variable here.
(Again - pure conjecture. The AOS setting isn’t ‘destroyed’ at all - it never was - the fandom for it is growing and growing as can be seen from how quickly each faction release sells out - and these are not made in small numbers.. Also look to the ever growing community that’s running not only tournaments but Narrative events under the NEO banner - and its still early days for the game in relative terms. Saying ‘he who has the best collection wins’ shows a massive lack of knowledge on the game and points to the writers ignorance of it).
In 40k you made sure to let us know you’ve kept the points but you haven’t show them to us yet. This makes the roll out is agonizingly slow. Let us build some lists while we wait. Let us consider the new rules with sample armies we can adjust. You’ve given us the core rules now give us some points!
(Again the writer shows their colours here - they want to start building lists to beat other players with. The next point is purely subjective - I for instance, look forward each day to what’s going to be shown to us - rules, background, faction focus or battle zone - it’s all good stuff. Just because in these days of instant gratification the writer can’t be bothered to wait doesn’t mean we all can’t.  Of course, the converse to this would be that GW release no details at all and hit the market cold - which is the writer’s complaint for AOS! So GW are in a Catch-22 situation here with parties such as they).
Yes, you have a group of tournament organizers on your team, that’s great, but you could have done more and included many more FLGS owners so you had bottom up change; even if the core of the change is drive from the top down.
(Is that a modicum of jealousy I see here? Who says they haven’t included trusted FLGS owners, players, blog writers? This is what they did with AOS with the likes of Bad Dice and HeelenHammer - so who’s to say that GW haven’t continued this approach with 40k?)

You’re doing good, you can do better.

I hope you guys give us something worthwhile soon because I honestly would like to go out and buy an 8th edition army already. Then again, maybe I just proved you have a lot of pent up demand and it’ll be a tidal wave of sales. For those with tons of disposable income and time buying, building, and painting a ton of models at once will be great.
For those who like to build an army bit by bit (i.e. people on a budget) this slow release is having me spend my money elsewhere.
(Now this made me laugh. The writer contradicts themselves!  Is the writer incapable of saving money until the release? Surely, if they did so, and the release is later in the year, they would have MORE money than they do now to spend on a new army! Or even, as many are doing under the ‘New 40k New Army’ banner, start buying kits now for an army you fancy doing and start building…. GW have already stated that all units will have rules, and that all options will remain valid, so what’s to stop you? Unless of course, you’re an obsessive Win At All Cost, power gamer who only buys the units and kits them out for maximum power in the game… which I fully suspect from this final comment they are.)

I’m more than happy with how GW are approaching the release of 8th edition - it’s a fresh approach from a company that’s decided to engage at every level with it’s customer base, both through the teasers and through social media interaction. Yes, I want 8th as much as everyone else, the difference is I’m enjoying the ride getting there…

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

40k - A 30 Year Obsession - Part Two

Where were we...

The year is 1988, 40k has been out for nearly a year, and I still haven't bought any miniatures of my own.

Growing up was a difficult thing for me; my Father raised me and my brother (who had special educational needs) on his own following the break up of his marriage when I was six months old.  This situation during the 1980's wasn't as commonplace as it is now, made even more odd by the fact it was my Father, not my Mother, who had sole custody (I hadn't seen my mother for more than an hour in my entire life at this point).  The situation meant that we had little money (he didn't work so he could look after us), so buying toys and luxuries was a rare occasion - birthdays and Christmas at the most.

So as I turn 13, I took a paper round as well as cleaning, peeling and cutting potatoes at a local takeaway shop to make a little money I could spend on myself.

This work gave me the opportunity to indulge in my hobbies, and is something I still feel strongly about now - I work, save and then spend on what I want - this isn't the cheapest of hobbies and never has been!

But enough of the scene setting - you're here to read about 40k!

White Dwarf 105, October 1988 (TM Games Workshop)

Up to this point (October 1988) I'd been using Des' minis - mainly Marines, Imperial Army and Squats (yes, Space Dwarves..).  However, with the publication of White Dwarf 105, and its amazingly colourful Dave Gallagher cover, this all changed.

The Eldar had been part of the background in the RT rule book - a race of long lived aliens who acted like pirates, raiding settlements and enslaving the residents to do their bidding.  With WD105, this was deepened into a tragic tale, with the Harlequins forefront in its telling.

A Troupe of warrior artistes, the Harlequins cemented what it was to be Eldar in my head - beautiful, graceful, terrifying and deadly.  Performing feats of acrobatics whilst shooting their enemies, their suits shimmering as they flipped and kicked, the Harlequins were also fighting doom in their lives - the Fall of the Eldar (which we would learn more of in later years, and will be covered in this blog in subsequent chapters), striving to keep She Who Thirsts at bay (the Chaos God Slaanesh had been created by the Fall of the Eldar) and the rest of the Eldar race safe..

But that's only half the story for me, for a great story in a war-game is almost pointless. Without great rules, and great, attractive miniatures it can be missed (and there have been many such examples).

Luckily, Games Workshop had Jes Goodwin - designer of not only the Space Marine, but also the Eldar.  I don't think it's putting it lightly that to say without his designs and sculpts, the Eldar wouldn't have the mystique, the attraction that they do.

White Dwarf 105 gave me background, it gave me visuals and importantly, gave me rules for a new range of miniatures that were being released.

The box art matched that of WD105 - but in widescreen, giving room to Dave Gallagher's amazing art (which depressingly, I knew I'd never be able to replicate on the miniatures). The box contained 18 Harlequins, sculpted by Jes Goodwin and cast in white metal.



RTB6 Eldar Harlequins Box Set (Artwork by Dave Gallagher, Minis sculpted by Jes Goodwin, TM Games Workshop)



With a little practice, I managed to get a nice quarter - pattern I was happy with (maybe..)

Eldar Harlequin High Warlock - the sole survivor of that first army (Authors own, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, TM Games Workshop)



Playing the game with the Harlequins was a lot more difficult than painting them however! It took me months to work out how to use them after playing with Space Marines, who could stand and shoot and take hits, the Harlequins were fast but fragile - to make the most of their abilities, I learned that you needed to keep moving and hitting to stay alive!

But, I persevered, and slowly and surely began to win as many games as I lost. 

I kept on with the Harlequins for a few years, flirting with Marines along the way (as well as Imperial Guard, but that's a story for a different time), but I wanted more from them - more depth, more miniatures! I'd added Eldar Guardians to the Harlequins with a few squads already, but with White Dward 127, and the introduction of the Aspect Warriors, my fate was sealed...

White Dwarf #127 (Authors Own, TM Games Workshop)

Next: White Dwarf 127, Aspect Warriors arrive!


Monday, 24 April 2017

40k - A 30 year obsession... Part One

In September 1987,  I started my 2nd year at Secondary School (I was 12, so 7th Grade in US terms).  It was the year that saw:


  • Everton won the 1st Division title;
  • Thatcher won her 3rd term after calling a General Election;
  • The 'Spycatcher' scandal came to a head;
  • Black Monday saw stock markets crash around the globe, leading to a recession 

and...

White Dwarf issue 93 hit the stands in September, heralding the arrival of Games Workshop's new title - WARHAMMER 40,000: ROGUE TRADER.


White Dwarf, Issue 93 (authors own)

By this time I'd been playing Dungeons & Dragons for about 18 months, and enjoying every second of it. I'd even had a play of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Blood Bowl & Dungeonquest, thanks to having friends who also played and were a little older than me.

But with WH40K:RT, I fell in love.

I'm from a small town, not too far outside of Birmingham, but for a boy of 12, who's father didn't drive and had little money, Birmingham may as well have been the other side of the world. I hadn't been to Birmingham, nor even thought about it.

So when Games Workshop announced this new game, with samples of the artwork inside White Dwarf (by various artists - including Pete Knifton, who I'm immensely proud to say I'm now on friendly talking terms with thanks to Facebook) I knew I just needed to have it. It played to all my likes - armoured men with big guns and even bigger vehicles, strange alien races such as the Eldar, Ork and Squat, an Emperor 10,000 years old on a throne and a wonderful full colour double page spread of various Space Marine 'Chapters' which set my mind alight!

I didn't have long to wait... October saw the released of the rulebook.  I begged and begged my father to let me have my Christmas money early to buy it, and in a rare moment of weakness, allowed me to have it (all be it by pointing out that regardless of whether I liked it or not, that was it for Santa...).  I took the 116 bus from Tamworth to Birmingham with my best friend Derek, ran to Games Workshop (it was late on a Friday afternoon, school had finished) and handed over my £11.99 for the book...

I didn't wait to get home to open it - I tore the wrapper off and read it on the bus home, my mind racing with imaginary battles between humans and aliens, pored over every illustration (the mind bendingly surreal drawings of Russ Nicolson, John Blanche, Ian Miller, Pete's colour plates, Gary Chalk's double spread of Chapter colours), and tried to make sense of the rules ( Movement, Shooting, PSYCHIC POWERS??) and excitedly chatted to Derek about how we would play our first game...

Which I had no miniatures for!

BUT... That didn't stop me - I had White Dwarf for that! My first games were played (with my Brother) using cut outs of the photos in White Dwarf of the figures at that point available (I think I may even have used Skaven, Skeletons and Orcs from WHFB - oops) to stand in for the minis, slowly working out the rules (lots of mistakes and arguments) until Derek (who had a paper round and a few other Saturday jobs) began buying figures - which then became the ones we used when we played at his house.

It was a while before I got any figures, almost a year in fact since the game's release. But oh boy, was the wait worth it...

White Dwarf 105 (Authors Own)


NEXT TIME: Harlequins, Painting and learning to play....


Sunday, 23 April 2017

NEW 40K!

Yesterday, in an announcement on Warhammer Community (you know where to go right?), Games Workshop gave us a taste of what's to come with the new edition of Warhammer 40,000...

That's right, a NEW edition! But that's putting it slightly.... in fact, this edition (8th if you keep count) is going to be such a large shift from the previous editions that it's going to invalidate the existing codexes...

<cue lots of crying and shouting from entitled gamers who think their gaming books are an 'investment' - take a look here, but don't say I didn't warn you>

I think that this is a great thing - it throws off the shackles inherited from previous editions and allows creativity to shine through.

This approach could be seen in the Gathering Storm volumes - armies made up of Marines, Ad Mech, Grey Knights and Eldar are seen working together - something that has given me a huge amount of inspiration for my new army (see the previous post on the beginning of my Grey Knight army).  Removing the previous edition codexes and replacing them with new versions will allow armies like this to be more easily pulled together I hope, with alliances being common (and fluffy).

I'll be talking more about the new edition in the coming weeks - it's triggered an excitement in me that I haven't had for playing the game in many years, so expect much frothing and shouting as the launch gets closer!

Talking of which...

James Bragg, one of the Store Managers at Warhammer World, Twitter user and all round great hobby advocate has set down a challenge for the new edition, coining the hashtag #new40knewarmy which I will be taking part in with the Grey Knights (and whatever else takes my fancy)!

So far I've been taking my time painting as I want to do the best possible job on these guys... but here's some more progress shots!

First Combat Squad done:


Brother Captain Stern:


And Inquisitor Hector Rex (his war band is to come..)

Next up is a Dreadknight, and a few vehicles... stay tuned!


Thursday, 30 March 2017

(Not so) Grey Knights...

'THE GREY KNIGHTS ARE HUMANITY'S GREATEST WEAPON AGAINST THE DAEMONIC ARMIES OF THE DARK GODS. CREATED IN UTTER SECRECY BY THE EMPEROR, THEIRS IS A SACRED DUTY TO DEFEND THE IMPERIUM FROM DAEMONKIND'

Sounds great doesn't it? Noble warriors, fighting the Warp born horrors that even the hardest Space Marine can't defeat... 

Problem is, I can't bear to paint the gunmetal / silver scheme that is synonymous with the GK - hell, it's where their name is derived from!





So, how to paint an army I really want to play.. choices choices....

Referring back to the Codex, I hit upon an idea.  Each 'Brotherhood; (which is comparable to a normal Chapter's Company) has a heraldic scheme, which is shown on a small 'oath' shield.  These schemes vary from Brotherhood to Brotherhood, but are always red and white / grey.  





Using this, I decided I'd base my Grey Knight force on the 3rd Brotherhood, under Captain Stern.  Using a  half white / half red scheme, I've come up with this:
THE SCHEME:

Basecoat:

Building from an undercoat of Halfords Red Primer, I blocked out the white half using Celestra Grey (I use the 'air' version for prefernce') and Khorne Red for the other half.  To shade, I used Nuln Oil into the recesses on the white side, and Reikland Fleshshade on the red (I did consider using Carroburg Crimson, but this would be darker than I wanted to).  The gold details were painted using Retributor Armour, the silver using Leadbelcher and the purity seals a base of Rakarth Flesh for the paper, and Mephiston Red for the wax seal.  the gunmetal areas were also painted with Leadbelcher, and washed with Nuln Oil.

Highlights:
The white half was overpainted with Ulthuan Grey, building up thin coats until I was happy that the colour was good and 'solid'.  The edges were then highlighted using White Scar.  The red half I re-painted the area with Khorne Red, which was then edge highlighted with Wazdakka Red, and then a final thin edge highlight of Tuskgor Flesh.  

The purity seals were highlighted with a 50 / 50 mix of Ushabti Bone & Flayed One Flesh, mixing in more Flayed One Flesh until it was 100% Flayed One Flesh.  Then, using an Artificer XS Brush, I painted thin watered down script on the paper.  The wax seals were highlighted using Evil Sunz Scarlet & Wild Rider Red.

The blade of the Nemesis Force weapon (the trade mark of the Grey Knights) was highlighted using Runefang Steel, and then a wash of Nilakh Oxide to add a 'glow' to the blade.

The final touch was the lenses on the helmet.  I painted these using White Scar, and then overpainted with Waystone Green, which is a translucent paint used to paint gemstones.

NEXT STEPS:


I'm really happy with the end result.  It's a challenging scheme to get right, and will hold my interest enough to paint an entire army.  Talking of which... the list I have to paint!

Draigo


Voldus


Librarian in Terminator Armour


1 Strike Team (10 men, 2 incinerators, Justicar)


1 Strike Squad (10 Men, 2 Psycannon, Justicar with Daemon Hammer)


1 Terminator Squad (5 men, Psilencer, Justicar with Daemon Hammer)


1 Terminator Squad (5 men, Incenerator, Justicar with Daemon Hammer)


2 Rhinos


1 Land Raider Redeemer


2 Dreadknights


Storm Raven 


Dreadnought


I've ordered Forgeworld Doors for the vehicles as I want to make sure they're as good looking as possible!





Sunday, 26 March 2017

Spring 2017 - New Army!

Each year, I try to pick a new army from one of the systems I play and work on that as a major project for the year. This gives my somewhat magpie approach to gaming a little focus (this is known as avoiding the 'Shiny Toy Syndrome').

At Christmas, I decided on Space Wolves. This was due to the Wolves being one of the few armies I'd never painted, they're prominent in recent storylines (see the excellent Warzone Fenris for more on the Space Wolves vs Thousand Sons story arc) and have some great sculpts.

This was not to be however... After painting Ulrik, which is a stunning miniature (I'll be posting about this later) I thought this was the army for me, but when I began to paint the rank and file, I just couldn't get motivated painted so much grey.

So it was back to the drawing board!

After a lot of consideration and the release of both Book Seven of the Horus Heresy series from Forge World and the glorious Ixon Hale miniature, I decided that Legio Custodes would be the project.

This fulfils two aspects for me - I can use the Legio with Horus Heresy in mind, with all their fun Grav tanks and bells & whistles, but also use them as part of a Talons of the Emperor army for 40k, replacing the Grav with Rhinos & Land Raiders.

So here we go - the first two Custodes are done, and a lot more to go...
 Custodes Vexilia. Rather than painting the Vexilia in solid gold, I've gone with a spot colour of white for the wings.

Custodes - I want the armour to look a little more 'worn' than some of the Gw schemes, hence the lack of red or other strong colours.  This means that the gold plating looks colder.  Adding to this is the bases - all of which will be covered with snow (as with pretty much my entire collection).

Stay tuned for more updates on this army!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Returning to the Blogosphere....

Crikey, 2 years...

That's what it's been since I last posted on my blog - how time flies!

In that time, I've not really had much time to keep up with blogging here as well as working; but, with a change in jobs (yay!) and a reinvigorated love for my hobbies, I hope to change that...

Stay tuned for more regular updates - in the mean time I can be found on Twitter as @badsausagesdjs or in one of the many hobby related Facebook groups!