Friday, September 6, 2013

40k Book Review: Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha

     Time for another book review. This time, as pictured above, the review is of Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha by David Annandale. I had never read anything by this author before, but was too tantalized by the thought of an Ork-heavy story to pass it up.


  • Incredible and hilarious story. One of my favorite endings out of any 40k book thus far.
  • If you love Orks, this is a priceless book. I have had a recent rekindling of my inner, Orky fire after reading this that makes me even more proud to own my lovable greenskins.
  • Short: especially for the $12 price tag.
  • Perspective: I didn't enjoy the memoir-style-recollection type of storytelling used in the book. I've never really enjoyed first-person storytelling, but it was made worse in this case by the occasional switch to another's perspective. Luckily, each perspective change was labelled with the character's name at the start of the shift.
  • Lack of character development. This may be a silly complaint, but it seemed like many of the characters in the story were introduced specifically for the purpose of dying. They were given a name, some history, and then killed off. They weren't developed well enough to convince me to care for their deaths, but in the context of 40k wanton death is the norm. For the purpose of this story (and the perspective it is presented in), I suppose it may have been less of an issue than in others.
     To summarize my thoughts on this one: if you love Orks or are a die-hard fan of Yarrick, pick it up. It'll be worth every penny. Otherwise you may want to pass on this one due to the specific taste I think is necessary to really enjoy it the way I have.

     As always, questions and comments are welcome and appreciated.

     Thanks for reading,


Friday, August 30, 2013

40k Book Review: Lords of Mars

     Hey there, internet! Remember when I complained that there was no sequel to Priests of Mars in an earlier post? Turns out one released without me noticing: Lords of Mars, by Graham McNeill. I picked this up earlier this week and blew through it in a couple days. After reading this book, all of my gripes about the last book are rectified.

     I absolutely LOVED this book. There were some awesome moments in it that I would hate to spoil, but will highlight a little below.

  • Crazy plot with very unique characters.
  • Considerable exposure to the mind of a titan princeps.
  • Titan combat!
  • Intrigue, treachery, and the collision of the two concurrent stories from the last book.
  • A healthy length unlike some OTHER, similarly-priced Black Library books.
  • There is a third book and the wait might kill me. :C
     Questions and comments are appreciated and welcome.

     Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 19, 2013

Only War: Impressions Thus Far

     After playing a couple games of Only War, I've decided to post up a collection of my thoughts on the game thus far to organize what I think of it and to get myself to think about it more critically.

     As a GM, the game seems to be easier to run than D&D 3.5. Of course, I could just be a particularly unskilled DM, but who knows. The planning process for Only War went much faster than when I had to plan for D&D and the system itself flows a bit better for it.

    I'm not gonna lie, I've found it difficult to adjust to the system as it took me years to get as good at D&D as I was. Only War only uses the d100 and d10 in place of the full set used in the d20 systems. At first I had thought this would result in a lack of definition as you couldn't possibly get the same results with fewer types of dice, but I find myself enjoying the simplicity of only having two different types to bother with.

     Only War's method of dealing with the DC for checks is probably my favorite thing in the entire system. Instead of planning a DC ahead of time and wondering if it will be too tough or too easy, it uses a modifier system that works much more intuitively and with less planning time. This system also makes choosing a DC on the fly much easier as well.

     The role-playing aspects of the system are limited due to the military nature of the game, but within that context there are a vast amount of possibilities that can be represented. From a small squad to just a small part of a continent-wide conflict, the system does well to handle it all. You can also run a vehicle-based campaign for armored regiments that I would love to give a try some time.

     Compared to D&D and its beloved "city-time" (our version of a character's personal time in a city to do whatever), Only War is short handed on opportunities to forward personal goals or advance your character's love interests. This restriction is probably my least favorite part of the system as "city-time" was one of my favorite parts of playing D&D. On the other hand, it means that I don't need to plan for it, which saves me tons of time and less time spent planning means less stress during the time between play-sessions.

     A possible alternative to running Only War as a straight-up Imperial Guardsman's life would be to use the rule set to simulate guardsman-like mercenaries in the service of someone like a Rogue Trader. In addition to greater freedom, this would also allow for possible "city-time" and loads of new role-playing opportunities. I may end up trying this in the future as it does sound like quite a bit of fun.

     I hope this didn't come out as being too scatterbrained for anyone to read. I'm more than happy to answer questions about the game or clarify what I meant above if anyone wants to know.

Thanks for Reading!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Trying Something New

     Hello again internet. It's been quite some time since I've done much of anything hobby related (let alone post on here!), but I'm feeling the urge to get back into the swing of things with both some table-top 40k and the wonderful rpg pictured above.

     I recently stumbled across Fantasy Flight Games' line up of 40k RPG's and was instantly drawn in by the concept. I mean, I love 40k and I love D&D, so how could a mix of both not be good? I proceeded to look over their games and picked out Dark Heresy and Only War as the two likely candidates to play. Then I found out that Dark Heresy was being re-released and was currently in beta... so there wasn't much reason to buy the old books. After some more digging, I learned that Only War is Fantasy Flight's newest game on the 40k front. I love guardsmen, so I decided to do some more digging to learn about how the system works.

     I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness and simplicity of (most of) the system. Almost everything struck me as streamlined and geared towards a fast and gritty playing experience, but there were a couple of things that I at least need to read more about before I could speak about their complexity. Vehicles, the logistics system (how gear is acquired by players), and psyker abilities are three such things. I may post again later on those topics once I have some games under my belt.

     There are rules to accommodate many different types of play-styles within the rulebook. From a small, stealthy team, to kilometer wide battlefronts, to Leman Russ squadrons: this book has got you covered. It also comes stock with the rules for many of the popular regiments in addition to rules for making your own.

     If I had one complaint about the system, it would be that the enemies lack a "challenge rating" to make building encounters easier for new GM's.

     I have yet to play a game yet, but am planning on running a test-game tomorrow with a premade mission-set called Eleventh Hour. I read through it a couple days ago to prepare and was amazed at the quality of the material. The game-style is very far removed from D&D's dungeons, allowing much greater choices to the players on how to confront problems or get where they are going. Obviously, this puts more strain on the GM, but the greater simplicity of Only War's system appear to remove quite a bit of the stress of making things up as you go. One such change is that there are no pre-assigned "difficulty checks." Instead, you make the call on the difficulty when the player goes to do something. Is it happening in the middle of combat? Subtract ten from their skill for the purpose of the test. Is the character being helped? Add ten to their skill for the purpose of the test.

     Overall, I'm really looking forward to giving it a try.

     On the miniatures side of things, I've almost bought enough Cadian minatures to get my regiment going. I'm a single platoon command squad short! I've still got a ton of painting to do on the guardsmen, but I'm excited to get them on the table. I'd like to pick up a single valkyrie and a couple basilisk tanks, but those can wait for a while: especially with the rumored release of both Space Marines and Orks right around the corner! So excited!

     Also, in case anyone was wondering, my Warhound Titan is pretty much complete. I still need to find some gratings to cover the engines with (it didn't come with them and I didn't order from Forgeworld, so no luck there) and haven't had any luck getting anything useful locally. The miniature was an absolute blast to paint and worth every dollar I spent on it.

     Well.. I think that's it for this update. Still haven't figured out a way to take decent pictures of my miniatures, so no pictures yet.. I really need to invest in some quality lighting and a photobox of some sort.

     Thanks for reading!


     P.S.- A few more 40k Book Reviews should be happening within a couple months as I usually buy books to read during the time between my classes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ideas for the Future

     Well, here is that post I promised about the ideas I have for the future of this blog. First off, once I have more books to read, I will do more 40k Book Reviews, but for now I want to cover another topic.

     For a while now, I've been wanting to construct a narrative 40k experience and feature it here on my blog. Once the armies are painted (hopefully sooner than later), I intend to go through with that plan. I've been working on back-stories, names, locations, and motivations for around a month now.

     There are several things that I know I want to feature in this series:

  • Pictures of the armies, or at least of important units.
  • A page full of background "fluff" for each army participating.
  • Battle Reports with pictures and narrative bits.
  • Battles that affect the outcome of the system's narrative.
  • A broader selection of game-types and scenarios that give a more dynamic experience than "kill everything" or "hold that rock."
     The battle reports may prove difficult due to insufficient lighting where we play, but I can hopefully improve on that soon. I'm also working on getting a light-box setup for photographing the miniatures for each army as I type this. However, it will still be quite some time before I can actually start on this: there are still many miniatures to paint!

     Here's a list of the armies possibly involved (no special names yet):
  • Chaos Daemons
  • Dark Eldar (two forces)
  • Eldar (questionable)
  • Imperial Guard
  • Orks
  • Space Marines
  • Tau
     I'll be posting updates as I get closer to having this project up-and-running. I would love to hear any suggestions about what you would like to see in this project!

     Thanks for reading!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hobby Update.. Er.. Post?

     I don't normally do this kind of post, but I'm planning on posting pictures of minis as soon as I have a light-box either ordered or made. Plus, I've never really made my hobby-doings very clear past the to-do lists on the right of my blog. As such, I'm doing this post to make future plans more relevant (and because I'm really excited about the near future of my hobby world!).

     Several pretty big things just happened for me in hobby-land and I'm pretty excited about the upcoming projects. :D

     The first thing is that I sold my 3000pt+ Necron army on Ebay. The Necron were my first army (back in 4th edition) and I used to really enjoy playing them, but with the 5th edition codex they felt stale to me. Maybe it was just a matter of time and the 5th edition codex really had nothing to do with it, but who knows. They spent the last couple of years sitting on a shelf and gathering dust (save for one game where they sided with Tau and eviscerated a Space Marine-Grey Knight team at the dawn of 6th edition) and I decided that it was time for them to go.

     The second big thing is that I've sold my Citadel Realm of Battle. I hauled it out to my FLGS to see if they could ask around for anyone interested (no way I could ship that thing!). They helped me take pictures of the board and offered to put it onto their Facebook after they asked the regular players if anyone was interested. It was a fully-painted Realm of Battle with the extra two tiles, all in snow colors and I was asking $430 to cover the cost of the board and the spray cans. After a couple weeks with no news, I was beginning to lose hope. I called up the store to get a quote on some new plastic crack with the money I made from my Necron selling, and they gave me the great news: They offered my in-store credit for the board at my asking amount! They said the players loved the board, but none of them wanted to buy it. So the store saw it as a great investment to keep people coming in and playing. I'm glad that I've helped them out and that I know the board has got a good home where it will see some use instead of sitting around in its case at my place.

     The combination of the first two things leads to the third. By selling the board I suddenly had a surplus of funds that I could devote to my hobbying. This quickly lead to me searching Ebay, innocently enough, for a Space Marine head to replace an un-helmeted one with. After finding one, I looked down at the other suggested items and noticed a Warhound Titan... Mars Pattern... The one I've wanted since.. well, forever.

     Not only was it a Warhound Titan, it was assembled (separable at the waist), unpainted, and nearly $150 (after shipping) cheaper than Forgeworld's price when I first found it. The seller is located in Russia, which after some investigation it seems that the Russians can get their hands on FW stuff cheap. So I compared the pictures and carefully read the description. The Warhound pictures matched Forgeworld's detail for detail, minus the paint and pose. The auction ended this morning (just a few minutes ago) and I won! The final price was $456 after shipping, but that's still almost $50 cheaper than Forgeworld and it comes fully assembled! The assembly process was one of the things that made me hold off on buying one for so long. Combine that I can order one cheaper AND assembled? I'm all in!

     So now my head is swimming with ideas of how to paint this dream-model of mine. I'm pretty sure that I'll go with the Legio Crucius design:

     I love the black and white stripes, and its a pretty rare scheme as far as I can tell. I've only ever seen two done in it. This one is fantastic:

     Of course, mine won't look that good, but I can dream!

     Since this was supposed to be a post about my hobbying, I should also explain the armies I am currently collecting/playing and the armies I typically fight.

     My largest army by far are my Orks. I've got around 3300 points of the Green Menace with a lot more on my to-buy list. The Orks are my favorite army to play and collect by far, but not my favorite fluff-wise. The Dark Eldar hold that spot in my heart (that's ironic!).

     With this latest order, I've decided to get my Space Marines and Dark Eldar up to fighting strength before I let myself buy any more Orks. Well.. I did order Ghazgkull, but that's different! D:

     After the order, my Dark Eldar will sit around 1400 possible points (I have 3 HQ choices) and my Space Marines will total to nearly 1700 points.

     As for the armies I'm usually fighting, da Tau are da usual customa's, but we git some good scraps in wif' dem Chaos Daemons too.

     I plan on posting sometime soon with my plans for the future of this blog. I really need to get some more Black Library books..

     Alright, dat's enuf' Orkin' about, boyz.

     Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 12, 2013

40k Book Review: Masque of Vyle

I cannot overstate my love for Andy Chambers' books. The Masque of Vyle is no exception to this love. While a little short, this story was very interesting as it details one of the things about Eldar I knew very little about: Harlequins. Featuring Motley (from the Path of the Renegade and Path of the Incubus stories), the plot is centered around a troupe of Harlequins seeking vengeance against an unknown someone who pillaged an entire Craftworld. Their chase leads them to one of the Dark Eldar realms, where they resolve to draw forth the culprit with a performance of the Masque.


  • Very interesting plot, especially if you want to know more about Harlequins
  • Fantastic writing style that is so typical of Andy Chambers!
  • An unexpected setting, which I won't spoil.
  • This story felt a little short, especially for the extra cost tagged onto it.
Despite the increased cost, I think that this book was entirely worth buying and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Eldar, Harlequins, or Dark Eldar.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 5, 2013

Balance in Games

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with the fantastic SinSynn over at House of Paincakes. Go read his stuff, its funny, well-thought-out, and he's a great guy to talk to.

That being said, the topic of game balance holds a special place in my heart that often makes me spitting, foaming at the mouth, pissed off. I've played a lot of video games over the course of my life, and when it comes to first person shooters I can honestly say that there is a serious issue with balancing. Just as some background, I've played every Halo game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Black Ops 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Team Fortress (and many other games that aren't FPS's, but they seem to lack the same kind of balancing issues).

The questions I want to explore with this post are these: Does balance, or the lack thereof, actively affect how many people play a game? and if so, is it solely in the way most people would think: negatively?

Obviously most people will quit a game if they aren't having fun, but I think that some people strive to find that imbalance in a game and actively exploit it solely for the feeling of superiority that it gives them. For example, the only Halo game that I personally believe is an imbalanced game is Halo 4 (I'm looking at you DMR). The DMR in that game destroys any other gun you put it up against. Anyone should be able to look at the numbers connected to its damage, range, and recoil and tell you that.

The Halo 4 community (not to be confused with the Halo community of Bungie's golden days) has been split down the middle: half of the people think that the DMR is overpowered and needs to be nerfed, the other half (the ones using it) think that its just fine and that everyone else should just use it instead of any other gun in the game.

Of course I don't mean to pick on Halo 4. There are great examples in every Call of Duty game and I haven't played Battlefield 3 long enough to pick out an overpowered gun (in that game's case it is more likely to consider aircraft overpowered as the only way to take one down is for two people to work together and get lucky). This topic obviously extends into miniatures games as well, but with them being less popular than gaming giants like Call of Duty, the trends are a bit easier to see in the video games, I think.

So balance obviously causes some people (those who do not wish to solely use the overpowered weapon/tactic/what-have-you) to leave the game community, but does that same imbalance draw people who enjoy taking advantage of it to play the game?

In the only miniatures game I've played (40k), the answer to that last question is a resounding yes. It amazes me how many people flock to internet forums to create the most broken and overpowered builds possible in an effort to demolish every opponent they meet, leading to a stale meta full of a handful of effective builds that everyone who wants to even stand a chance at winning uses.

In most of the competitive video games I've ever played, you can easily pick a couple weapons/vehicles/tactics/armies out of the pile that EVERYONE uses. It is less likely for you to play a game without seeing one of these things than it is to win the lottery twice in one day. To me, that would seem to suggest a balance issue as these players are all using the same thing presumably because it is the most effective weapon/army/tactic/vehicle they have used, leading them to get better scores and feel better playing the game. The consequence of this is a stagnant playing environment where everyone uses the same tactics, guns, vehicles, or armies to do the same thing over and over and over again. How can that be fun? What can be done to fix this issue?

For video games, it seems that if a game's balance is broken when it launches, then it will be broken for the rest of time. Generally speaking, one of three actions are taken by the game's creators to deal with the imbalance:

  1. They do absolutely nothing and enjoy all the cash they have already received from the suckers who bought the game.
  2. They make an effort to balance the game, but either balance the wrong things or do too little to the right things to make a difference. I call this the "At least we tried" response.
  3. They try to balance things but go overboard and the resulting game balance brings about new overpowered things.
With video games, this patch then has to go through verification (through Microsoft, Playstation, Valve, whoever provides you with your gaming wants) which can take anywhere from a week to a month if it actually passes. This rather large amount of time required to attempt fixing the game's balance causes players to drop like flies, leaving to seek out actual fun, competitive games.

With miniatures games, this patch, called an 'errata,' is posted online and can lead to a fractured gaming community in which some people use the errata and others don't even realize that it exists. This leads to frustrations as one player is told of the errata mid-game, often ruining whatever they had been planning in an unimaginably cruel sweep of fate.

The other issue I've noticed with video game companies and balance is the lack of clarity as to what their recently released patch has fixed. It seems like more often than not the company releases a patch with a "Hey! We fixed stuff!" sticker on it that leads to a quest of trying everything in the game out to figure out what they actually changed.. Or someone breaking the game's code to compare the two versions..

I know I'm not the only one who complains about balance in games. What most people don't realize is that balancing a game isn't easy. Can you imagine trying to design an entire game system from the ground up in a way that is balanced and fair for everyone? Even in the ideal scenario where everything is perfectly fair and stable, SOMEONE is going to blame the game's balance for their inability to do well at it. Game designers make mistakes, everyone does, so you shouldn't be too harsh on them for it. What you should be harsh on them for is their lack of an attempt to repair their broken system or even perform the most basic of maintenance to it (*cough* Gamesworkshop *cough*).. Both video game companies and miniatures companies routinely show that embracing their community is the key to making a good game. Look at Bungie around the time of Halo 3, or Mojang with Minecraft for that matter..

Anyways, I think that's enough for this rant.. As a final thought, I think that the best feeling when playing a game is provoked when you win a match or game with an obviously underpowered weapon, tactic, or army. There's just nothing like being the underdog and coming out on top.

Thanks for reading! Comments and constructive, calm disagreements are more than welcome!


Friday, March 29, 2013

40k Book Review: Hammer and Anvil

I'm not going to lie, this is probably one of my favorite 40k books now. This one really surprised me: I went into reading it with rather low expectations and received a fantastic story in return. To summarize, this takes the story of Sanctuary 101 (from the 3rd or 4th edition Necron codex, I can never remember what edition it was..) and expands it into a full-blown story by following up on the slaughter there with Sisters of Battle reinforcements. But there is so much more to this book! It is the most 'modern' look into Necron (as far as I am aware) as it makes use of nearly every new model from the newest codex. In addition to this, there is a ton of subterfuge and scheming done between the Sisters of Battle, the Ordo Xenos, and the Mechanicum. I would recommend this book a hundred times over to any fan of the Sisters, the Necron, or even those who appreciate the 40k universe as a whole. Obviously, if you are obsessive over Tyranids then you won't like this book!


  • Wonderful story that kept me reading into the small hours of the night.
  • Great view into the mindsets of the Adeptus Sororitas and the Necron
  • A diverse and interesting cast of characters
  • None. This book is great!
I would also like to add that this is the second book in a row that my favorite character has lived through. That makes it a new record as my favorite character almost always dies, especially in 40k books. Anyways, this book is an amazing read and well worth the money.

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions you may have!