Monday, 22 October 2012

Iron Kingdoms RPG Review

It's been a while since I've had a new RPG to review since I've started becoming a lot more selective with my gaming purchases. That, and many of the lines I was buying have slowed down considerably! However, this one is well worth singing its praises.

I don't think it would shock anyone to say I'm a huge Iron Kingdoms fan. I bought the 2 of the original Warmachine battle boxes, despite not having anyone to play against at the time. With the exception of the Force Books for armies I don't play, I have all the rule books from Mk1 Prime. I even bought 2 of the original Hordes Battle Boxes when I still didn't have anyone to play against. (forever the optimist!)

The Iron Kingdoms though, didn't start off in the miniatures game. It originally existed as part of a adventure trilogy for 3rd Edition D&D published under the OGL. The Witchfire Trilogy was so popular that eventually a small RPG line was published alongside the emerging miniatures game. WHile the setting was good, unfortunatley the use of OGL D20 caused some issues meshing gameplay to player's expectations, especially once they saw what the equivilent unit in the miniatures game could do. While I did run the Witchfire Trilogy (its an awesome campaign BTW. Key moment in Iron Kingdoms history, great set peices and classic NPCs) the D20 rules held us back, and Gun Mages and anyone wanting to craft stuff was seriously disadvantaged.
When Privateer Press started work on Mark 2 Warmachine, they put a hold on the entire RPG line, promising to re-visit it with a new system once Mark 2 was up and running.

Roll on a couple of years, and we now have one of the best looking RPG books around.

With production values on par with the Warmachine/Hordes rule books (and light years beyond the original Iron Kingdoms Character Guide), the new Iron Kingdoms RPG is a full colour hardback book, weighing in at 340 pages.

Kicking off the book is an excellent section on the history of Western Immoren. Covering prehistory, all the way up to the "modern" day, this is a great introduction to the world. Much of this history has been covered in various of the miniature books, but it is well written and worth having in one place. Following swiftly afterwards is a section looking at aspects of Western Immoren as it stands, including magic, religion and Mechanika. These two sections total over 100 pages and gives even those completely new to the setting everything they need to know.

Character creation gives you the chance to get into the crunchy parts of the book. Building from a stat line that will look familiar to anyone who's played the miniature game, each character gets to pick a race, archetype and 2 careers to form the backbone of the character. The races feature all the options available in the original RPG, and cover just those living in Western Immoren, later books will open up options to play Skorne and some of the more exotic races. The careers are much like you would expect with classes key to the setting such as the Alchemist, Gunmage and Warcaster represented along with more generic, but equally important careers such as soldier and spy. With each character picking 2, it leads to much more variation and gives much more opportunities for creating interesting characters.
Each career seems balanced, with even the lowly Spy being able to bring something to the table when up against Warcasters and Gunmages.

The conflict resolution system is very similar to the miniatures game, with the combat and magic systems being a pretty straightforward port. While I don't find that a problem, some people may find the overly tactical combat system, which works better with miniatures, to be a problem. Certainly it would not take much to shift to a miniature-less combat, and there is a section in the back that covers this, but otherwise they expect models on the table.

One of the biggest flaws in the D20 version was always the crafting. In the setting, magical items are rare, with most "magical" items actually being Mechanika, a blend or magic and technology. However D20 could never handle this, and so you ended up with much of the fun classes (Alchemist and Arcane Mechanic) being hobbled and unable to be truly awesome. Thankfully the new book presents crafting in a manner that really fits with the setting, and allows crafting classes to be really useful.

My only real gripe is there is not enough in the book. Its a poor gripe, but a valid one, as there is so much crammed in, that some sections are much shorter than I'd have liked. The antagonists section feels especially small, but this is being supported via the No Quarter magazine (and excellent publication for Iron Kingdoms fans) and online. Given the scope of the setting, there is plenty of material and I look forward to an updated Monsternomicon.

Overall, the Iron Kingdoms RPG is an excellent successor to the D20 variant, and continues the tradition of excellent products that started all those years ago with the Witchfire Trilogy.

Monday, 15 October 2012

November Painting Challenge

This idea has a couple of sources of inspiration, so bear with me while I ramble for a bit before getting to the point.

You might remember that back at the start of the year, I decided I’d try and paint 4 15pt armies, one for each of my factions. You can find the original post here. I’m not giving up on that challenge, in fact I’m only 4 models away from completion. However I don’t like making things too easy for myself, so I’ve decided to take on a further, shorter term challenge.

In writing circles there exists an event called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where people who like to write set themselves the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. My wife has decided to take part this year in order to help encourage her to write more, and being the supportive husband that I am, I’m also getting involved.

Ok, so I’m not writing a novel, I know I can’t write, but I can paint! So, to take a leaf from such threads as’s monthly painting threads, A Tale of Warmahordes and other such things, I’m going to set myself more of a challenge in November.

So, my challenge is, to paint a load of models in November!

Ok, perhaps not a huge challenge, but given my painting speed, it could be. I haven’t yet decided what to paint, mainly because I have a birthday coming up and have been told to expect a load of lead as presents Open-mouthed smile. Also, I hope to finish off what’s still on the table by the end of the month.

At this point, its time to get some volunteers from the audience. I’m looking for people to join me in this endeavour, especially if you are a slow or unmotivated painter. Simply pick a number of models to paint over November that would be a challenge for YOU. You don’t even have to be that specific, you could say “I’ll paint 15pts of Menoth” rather than specific models. As long as its more than you’d normally paint, that’s fine. Then post your progress somewhere, either as comments to my progress reports, or on your own blog/forum.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

WarmaHordes Weekend–August

At the end of August, another WarmaHordes weekend was held, with the added bonus of a day’s extension due to everyone being accidently available on the Saturday as well!! Didn’t manage to get many more WarmaHordes games in, but did play some fun World of Warcraft CCG games, as well as a demo DropZone Commander. I’ll talk about DzC in a different post later.

As is typical of me, rather than stick with my regular list, I wanted to try out a new Epic Skarre list.

Skarre, Queen of the Broken Coast
* Deathjack
Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
Satyxis Raider Captain

I love the aggressive nature of this list, and is synergy-tastic! The raiders gain Fearless, immunity to knock down, increased def vs ranged and immune to blast damage AND have a 14” threat range. Along with their Advance Deployment, I can have them in your face from turn 1. The Deathjack is a beat stick that’ll put anything its matched against into the ground.

Unfortunately I only managed a 1-1 record with it, and neither battles I was amazingly happy with. I firstly went up against a Kreoss force (I was giggling like a loon as he deployed!) in a straight up caster kill fight. I was busy working on my positioning to slam the DJ into the side of his force when I stupidly placed Skarre a bit too openly, and had her die to a volley of rockets.

My other battle with this force was using the No Man’s Land scenario against Cygnar. Scenario play is new for us as a group, and unfortunately my opponent misjudged his turn leaving me controlling the zone at the start of my 3rd turn. Ignoring this technical victory, we went on to beat the crap out of each other. I was loosing Raiders to Stormblades, but unfortunately Caine made the mistake of standing within melee range of the DJ, and was promptly dispatched.

I don’t think either battle was a good example of the force’s potential. I’m still getting used to Skarre’s spell list, as its very different to Denny or Gaspy’s. As I found when I played my Skorne force, Admonition is an interesting spell, and Perdition should open me up some charge angles. I also need to work on when to use her feat, as both times my opponent simply backed away. While it did get me the technical scenario win, I’m sure there is a better time to use it. Back to the drawing board there I think.

Speaking of Skorne, I also broke my Skorne out for a Horde-off vs our Circle player.

Master Tormentor Morghoul
* Cyclops Brute
* Cyclops Savage
* Titan Gladiator
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Bloodrunner Master Tormentor

Being my first outing with a Warlock, and Circles ridiculous movement manipulation, I failed to make a dent, and ended up loosing on scenario after my only assassination option fell very flat. However, I’ll be back!

Overall, another fun weekend, where I (hopefully) learned more.