Friday, 20 September 2013

Review: Iron Kingdoms - Kings, Nations and Gods

I've just got the latest source book for the Iron Kingdoms RPG, and boy is it awesome.

This is only going to be a quick overview, as I haven't had enough time to read in depth, but a full review will appear in time.

The book is produced the same way as the core book, being a full colour hardback. While I haven't counted the pages yet, it has roughly the same page count as the core book, while containing much more fluff over rules!

The book is divided into 6 sections, covering the major kingdoms of Western Immorean. Not only does each section have a map and an outline of the kingdom's history, but it also includes geographic information, as well as the major mover's and shakers.

Each section also includes a players section which provides new careers, abilities, spells, gear and warjacks relevant to the nation. Anyone who wanted to play as one of the units from the wargame now has everything they need.

Overall this looks to be another excellent book. Only one gripe so far, and that their is a players section at the end of each nation, which while I understand works well layout wise, but is a pain for referencing. Especially as some of the abilities and spells are available to other careers.

However, I'm really looking forward to devouring the book, and will give a fuller review once I have.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Kickstarter - 404: Law Not Found

In a great exercise in willpower, I've managed not to back any Kickstarters since Warmachine:Tactics, however when this game came along I couldn't help support. Read on to find out why you too should be backing 404: Law Not Found.

404: Law Not Found is the first board game from 3DTotal Games, a small company based in Worcester. Mixing humour and with simple to learn but strategicly deep game mechanics, it looks to be a game both novice and veteran gamers can enjoy.

You control a robot on the starship Clarion who's base set of directives have been changed. Instead of "Protect all Humans", you may now be directed to "Empower War", or "Improvise Cloning". These being your directives, they are good directives, and you will follow them. By being the first robot to complete your 3, perhaps odd, directives, you win the game.
While you are trying to complete your directives, you will have to deal with your fellow robots trying to follow their own directives, the human crew trying to complete their mission and a monkey.

The parent company, 3DTotal has a background in art and producing art books, and this shows in the look of the game. From the box art to the game components, the look is evocative while not being overly complicated. I love the design of the robot who manages to seem retro and modern at the same time.

If you don't want to go in blind, by just going to the Kickstarter page you can download a copy of the prototype rules. For just a £1 pledge, you can get a copy of the Print and Play demo kit, so you can start playing right now!

Looking through the prototype rules, they look well thought out, with enough examples and diagrams to help new players understand the rules. I like the drafting mechanic by which players get their directives. It means that, having an idea what other players may be doing means you can actively act against players, or if you are really clever, get them to help you with your directives.

404: Law Not Found looks to be a clever, fun and engaging board game that is an absolute steal at £28 (free UK and US postage!). Currently it is over 50% funded with 28 days to go, so with your support it can easily fund and get some of the fantastic looking stretch goals as well.

Finally, if the above hasn't gotten you a little interested, perhaps the personal touch might. I'll admit, this isn't just a project I've ran across by accident. I have the pleasure of knowing the game designer for many years now, and have enjoy gaming alongside him. He has one of those minds that seems to just summon up fun ideas, and he is definitely someone who should be creating board games.
I missed the opportunity to play test this game, due to me and my life, but I know most of the people on the play test credits and they have all raved about this game.

This is not just loyalty to a friend talking. I know Greg is working hard to make this the best game it can be, and from everything I've seen it will be awesome. Go, back it now. The monkey demands it!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Kickstarter - Warmachine Tactics

Its one week to go in the Warmachine: Tactics Kickstarter, and I've finally got round to posting this! Better late than never, and a great time to support if you haven't already.

Unless you are a first time visitor to this blog (hello to you), you will know I'm a big Warmachine fan.

I bought into the game at its release, collecting Cryx and Menoth. Although I've only recently been getting regular games in, I've got most of the books connected to the wargame and the RPG.

So 5 years ago when Privateer Press announced they were going to create a computer game based on Warmachine, I was one of those people that were over the moon. The preview video that was released later on did nothing to dent my enthusiasm. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and the news about the video game was sparse. Despite Whitemoon Dreams (the developer) stating that work was continuing, the game was presumed to be vapourware. That was until the teaser trailer was released!

Not only were we getting a game, but instead of the action game they were originally working on, instead it’s a turn based strategy game. Oh hell yes!!

It only took less than 48 hours before it had passed its $500,000 target, and quickly has been knocking down the stretch goals. With a week to go, and over $1.1 million already pledged, this shows the support of the gaming community for the project.

If you want the full details, the Kickstarter page is:

So, the next thing is, why should you pledge to support this Kickstarter?

Firstly, for only $20 you can get a digital copy of the game on release. That is a bargain compared to the price of computer games these days. Not only that, but because the stretch goals are all about improving the game, you will get all those as well. Already your $20 gets you access to all 4 prime factions, their signature character jacks, 8 mercenary characters and a new single player campaign. Further stretch goals include more content, as well as more playable factions. On release, certainly the additional campaigns are likely to be DLC, so you get the benefit now.

Not only that, but you can get your hands on some exclusive alternate sculpts of Journeymen warcasters for each faction that will be released with Warmachine: Vengeance later this year. 
Each of the models is up to the standard you'd expect from Privateer Press, but they also add a new tactical angle for each of the factions. Previously only Cygnar had access to a Journeyman Warcaster, but with every faction will do soon. Personally I like the idea of coupling the Cryx one with one of the ranged crab jacks that can be a bit focus hungry for our regular casters.
I'm working on a post about them for later, as it’s not so time critical!

If you've got the cash, there are some nice higher priced rewards, like canvas art prints, but they are a bit outside most people's budget.

Other than the incentives, what about the game? Well for a start, Matt Wilson, the founder of Privateer Press, is part of the team developing the new game. Anyone who might be worried about the Iron Kingdoms not translating across can rest assured that it can be in no better hands that his. While the game won't be a direct translation of the tabletop game, they are committed to keeping the aesthetic and feel as close as possible.
Game play wise, as well as the single player campaigns, they've promised a number of ways of playing multiplayer, including LAN and play-by-post, as well as the more standard methods.
Privateer Press has also promised not to start another Kickstarter until they've delivered on this one. This is a nice promise, as some companies can stack too many projects up, and find they fall apart on delivering some.
The cherry on top (for those that are concerned about this) is a promise to avoid DRM in the game. They've said they will have to include it for platforms such as Steam, but there will be DRM free versions for those that want it.

Hordes fans will see a version of the game at some point, although whether it is an expansion or standalone but multiplayer compatible game remains to be seen.

So, if you enjoy the Iron Kingdoms setting, or like games such as X-Com and Shadowrun Returns, then you can't go wrong by backing this Kickstarter.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

*Tumbleweed* Anyone miss me?

It occurs to me that I have been very lax in posting the last couple of months!

I will get back to new posts very soon, I've just been a bit distracted recently.

But I do have some stuff coming up including a mammoth post showing what I've painted recently, some posts regarding Warmahordes mercenary/minions solos and the regular smattering of reviews.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Kickstarter - Deadzone

    The current hot property up on Kickstarter at the moment (in the gaming section at least) is a new skirmish scale miniatures game from Mantic Games called Deadzone. As I'm considering getting into this a bit, I thought I'd write up a post with the duel goals of working it through for myself, and giving it a bit of exposure to people I know who might be interested.

    For those that haven't been following Mantic Games, they are a mid sized gaming company based in Nottingham that started life producing 28mm fantasy miniatures. Initially sold as generic low cost, decent quality sculpts for use in other *coughGW* games, they have expanded with their own fantasy IP (Kings of War) and a Sci-Fi Ip (Warpath). Last year they had an extremely successful Kickstarter for their Sci-Fi Bloodbowl-esque football game while continuing to release models for both IP lines.

    I've had my eye on what Mantic have been doing since their initial releases, but never had a reason to buy into their main miniatures game. I passed on Deadball when they Kickstartered it last year, as I am not that interested in a Sci-Fi football game. However, given its success, and Deadzone appealing more, I'm looking to back this project.

    Deadzone is based in their Warpath world, alongside their main wargame and Dreadball. Where the wargame is closer is scope to Warhammer 40K, Deadzone is a small scale skirmish game played on a 2'x2' board.

    Alien artefacts are infecting humans with a genetic plague that mutates them into monsters hell bent on spreading the contagion further. When an area becomes infected, it becomes a quarantined area, a Deadzone. For those brave, or stupid, enough to enter a Deadzone, it offers a wealth of abandoned technology and riches. However, linger too long and you may find yourself overcome by the Plague.

    Currently there are 4 factions available for the game, mainly based off of existing factions in the Warpath world.

    The Enforcers

    The elite military of the ruling Corporations. These well equipped humans are sent into Deadzones to recover important technology, information or any other assets their paymasters want. Of the 4 factions, they are the best armed and armoured, representing the best the Corporation has to offer. They prefer to engage at range, although they can deploy specialist close combat units if necessary. Extremely good mobility as the Enforcer armour has a built in jump pack, making it easy for them to traverse the battlefield.

    The Plague

    The unfortunate victims of the alien virus, these mutated monsters live for nothing but spreading their contagion as far as they can. Those that are infected directly become hulking close combat monsters, while those 2 generations removed still have enough control to wield scavenged weapons. Most of the units are close combat troops, with some ranged support.

    The Rebels

    Fighting against the “utopian” society of the Corporation are a rag tag band of aliens. Forced into Deadzones to scavenge for supplies, the Rebels may not be the best equipped, but they have a wide range of interesting troops instead. While Humans make up the bulk of the force, specialist aliens and high tech drones help plug the gaps and bring the Rebels up to match the other forces.

    The Marauders

    Once the shock troops of the Corporation, these Orx are now mercenaries looking for a quick score, and a good fight. Armed with big guns, and even bigger Ripper suits, the Orx are easily a match for The Plague. These are not big stupid Orks that you might find in other settings. Orx are cunning, tactical and able to use technology. Don’t underestimate them.

    I’ve got to say, I can’t quite make up my mind which factions I like the best! Each is flavourful, with some great sculpts. I would be made even worse if they were to introduce their 2 other Warpath factions the Forgefathers (Dwarfs in Space) and the Veer-myn (Skaven in Space) as they are both interesting looking as well.


    Gameplay wise, currently the Alpha rules are available to view and to try out. They are an interesting mix of board game and skirmish game rules that looks to create a game that is simple to play, but still has tactical depth.

    One of the key board game concepts used is in movement. The play area is divided into 3"x3" squares, and models will move a number (normally 1) square per move action. This cuts out one of the more time consuming aspect of a skirmish game. Still, cover and positioning within the squares are an important part of the rules, maintaining the tactical elements of a skirmish game.

    The dice mechanic uses D8’s which is an unusual choice, but makes sense when you read the designer’s blog on the subject ( well worth a look). It also uses the system Mantic developed for Dreadball, meaning it has had plenty of play testing.

    An additional element is the ability to play Battle Cards on models during play to give bonuses or penalties. Each faction will come with its own faction deck, and each card will have 2 possible effects. This adds more depth to a simple mechanic, and can give you the edge in a tough fight.

    Games will have faction specific objectives that will determine success, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to kill your opponent to win. This will mean that factions such as the Rebels that may have a technological disadvantage against the Enforcers can still play a balanced game. I like objective based games, I found Warmachine to be a better game when we added scenarios into our play, so I can only see this as a good thing.

    Finally, I can’t not mention the scenery they have produced for the game. With a snap-fit system that will allow you to put the panels up in any configuration you like, and then change it, it means you have some many options for your game board.

    We are expecting a big update today (Wednesday 6th May) with more information about the terrain, as well as terrain only pledges and add-ons. I can see this being very popular, as it can be used in a number of big Sci-Fi settings with very little adaption.

    So, why am I getting in on another Kickstarter, I’m sure you are all thinking. Well, there are a few extremely good reasons:

    1. Game Play – I really like the look of the rules, and I’ve been looking for a gate-way game that I can demo to people easily.

    2. Models – There  are some amazing looking models already done, and I’m a sucker for a painting project. Take a look at the WIP Marauder Ripper Suit!

    3. Value for Money – The Strike Team Pledge is already worth twice as much as it started with, and with not being even over half way through the Kickstarter it will rise further. I simply can’t look away from that sort of saving.

    4. I’m an addict.

      If you are looking for a new Sci-Fi game, you can’t go wrong backing a Mantic game.

      Sunday, 5 May 2013

      Iron Kingdoms GMs Kit - Review

      I'm a bit behind with this review, but better late than never.

      As is traditional in an RPG release schedule, one of the early releases is a GMs kit, containing a GMs screen and some additional content to entice us to hand over our money.

      Not ones to break tradition, Privateer Press's second release in the Iron Kingdoms line is a Games Masters toolkit to aid all those hard working GMs in running their games.

      The main component of the kit is the 4 pane games masters’ screen. With the panes orientated landscape, the screen is low enough that a GM can comfortably look over while sitting, but will hide notes and dice rolls from players. With a double sized centre panel, you have plenty of width to work with, and don't feel cramped with a pile of notes.

      The screen is made from tough card, like the cover to the Iron Kingdoms core book. This means that it will easily stay standing on its own, and even absorb dice impacts without moving. This isn't a 1990's White Wolf screen here!

      The outer screen graphics are up to the normal excellent standards of Privateer Press. The double sized pane gives a great opportunity for some metal mangling action, and it doesn't disappoint. You can’t get much more of a representative view of the Iron Kingdoms than a heavy warjack fighting a bionic pig man over a crashed steam engine.

      On the inner screen is the real meat of the product, with useful tables and charts for reference in game. While I haven’t road tested the screen, it contains everything I would need to reference quickly during a game. It also includes page references for sections if you want to look at the full rules, which is really handy. The text is a reasonable size, and laid out well, making it easy to read. Use of bold text and inverted text colour for headings means that you can quickly find what you are looking for.
      Onto the extras. These vary from company to company, some offering an adventure, others a small booklet of GM related material that didn't make the cut into the core book. In this case there are couple of gaming aids to help run your game.

      To start us off, there is a pad of 25 full colour character sheets, like the ones found in the core book. Next, there is a pad of 25 full colour encounter sheets, again like the ones found in the core book. There are also 10 laminated Character health trackers and 10 laminated initiative trackers.

      For me, while gorgeous quality, I'm unlikely to ever use the character or encounter sheets. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but I tend to find character sheets get used and abused in a way that doesn’t warrant using better than a black and white printout. Also, the paper is slightly gloss, and I'd imagine writing in pencil may be more difficult, leading to problems when changes needed to be made. It would also make the encounter sheets only usable once. That being said, there is nothing wrong with them, just a matter of personal preference.

       The laminated health and initiative trackers though, I will be making use of. The health tracker gives the player an easy way to track life or damage (in the case of a warjack) and their current Feat Points, without having to keep rubbing out a section of the character sheet. The Initiative Tracker card, not only gives the GM a place to record individual initiative scores, but also a character's stats and current Armour and Defense, so they don't need to refer back to the player as often. While not vital to running a game, it certainly makes tracking things much easier.

      Finally, perhaps the more difficult aspect is the product’s value for money. At $27.99 rrp, it is actually more expensive than Urban Adventures, and is likely to see less use. Looking at previous GMs screens I’ve bought, it is certainly much better than the screens I have for the FFG 40K RPGs, and just as good as my Eclipse Phase screen. For me, the additional items don’t quite have as much worth as the adventures/GMs books that the other screens provided, but I’m willing to let that go.

      If you intend to run a game of Iron Kingdoms, you can’t go wrong by picking up the screen. The information it provides alone makes it a must have, saving time leafing through the rule book. Consider it an investment if nothing else.
      Games Masters Toolkit Contents
      Iron Kingdoms Games Masters Tool Kit Contents

      Sunday, 28 April 2013

      Godslayer Miniature Review

      I ran across Godslayer by Megalith Games while they were running their Kickstarter recently. Unfortunately I wasn't able to seriously back them, but I was so taken with the miniatures I had to get a couple to paint.

      Godslayer is a fantasy minatures skirmish game, that is set in their own world of Calydorn. To steal from their website:
      "The world of Calydorn is the stage upon which plays the epic drama of GODSLAYER; a bronze-age world of sword and sorcery; steeped in the ruins of ancient civilizations, where the borders of myth and reality blur. Classical empires clash, spear and shield, in contest for cultural dominance; brutal barbarians command the skies astride the backs of giant avians while slave-caravans wend their way across endless deserts with their cargos of the conquered."
       What particularly interested me were the Halodyne faction, a basic port of Ancient Greek warriors into their world. I've always liked the look of the classical Hoplite infantry, and I like to branch out now and again to keep my painting varied.

      So, I backed the Kickstarter enough to pick up the Halodyne Demarchon and Sanctum Priestess.

      I'm pleased to say they arrived recently, and I thought I'd put together my thoughts on the models, in case anyone else was interested in buying some.

      Both models came in ziplock bags, one with the model and parts, the other with the relevent game cards. While not as fancy as the clam shell blisters that most other companies use, I had no problem with the packaging, as lets be honest most of it goes in the bin. The models came well protected in a padded envelope so the lack of additional plastic blister wasn't necessary.

      On opening them up, what was promised in the online pictures became reality as the models were as beautifully sculpted as the pictures implied. The models were a bit smaller than I expected, they are advertised as true 32mm scale, but I think I'm so used to painting "heroic" scale 28mm models that I lose touch with realistic sizes. Don't let this detract you from the models though, as they are wonderfully dynamic in their sculpts.

      The models are in metal, something that is becoming a bit of a rarity these days. Personally I don't have a preference between plastic, resin or metal, but I realise that some people do.

      Both models came in a number of pieces, and they went together well, with no more preparation work than you would expect from any other company. Mould lines were obvious, and for the most part in areas making cleaning easy. A couple though were in areas of small detail, which was unfortunate, but just took a bit more concentration.

      Because it seems I am slower at writing blog posts than I am at painting, I've managed to finish the Demarchon in time to show you a finished model!


      I am really pleased with the final result. I had intended to try non-metallic bronze, however I didn't feel confident enough so instead used a combination of traditional metallic paint and NM shading. The skin toning isn't quite as smooth as I'd like, but it is better than some of my previous attempts. I also want to put a few more touches to the base, but I'm not sure what yet!

      I certainly intend to take a look at the Godslayer Quickstart rules when I get a chance. I'd like to pick up a few of the other models in the range as well, but my painting pile is big enough right now, it might have to wait.

      Anyone looking to buy into Godslayer, from the quality of the models you would be daft not to. Not that I do ratings on my reviews, but if I did they'd be up there with the best.