Sunday, 25 August 2013

Future of tournament gaming?

Since giving up Malifaux I can honestly say I've not missed it that much, what I have missed is the people an organising events. With that in mind I've been mulling over some ideas in recent weeks and now have a plan that I think will work.

The general idea is that it is an achievement based event but with a bit of a twist. There would be a lot of different games (board/card/mini) and a short list o achievements for each. You could only get each achievement once so it would encourage people to play as many different games as possible over the course of the day (or weekend depending on demand).

It's currently in the early stage of planning, at the moment I'm just feeling out whether there'd be demand for this type of event? Let me know what you think, I really like to get a format that people want to play so any feedback would be appreciated.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Gaming's geographical differences

In one of my earlier posts I stated that, being a lifelong nerd, I had never played Dungeons & Dragons and this provoked a level of nerd rage from my stateside counterparts.  For me, this raised an interesting question of how the journey into nerdage varies depending on where you are from.  This entry is based on a comparison of UK vs US but if anyone from elsewhere wants to chip in, I’d love to hear how it varies in other places.

In the UK, most socially awkward teens find their way into gaming through the range of Games Workshop games.  I’m sad to say that my own journey also started this way with a brief look at the original Space Hulk prior to investing my pocket money in Necromunda.  For guys my age in the UK that is a fairly common story, the only real exception to that is Heroquest which was made by MB games (the miniatures however were made by GW!).

After speaking to my American counterparts, I understand that the journey for the majority there takes a different route in the form of Dungeons and Dragons.  Having now played a couple of sessions I really do see the appeal of the game however, it being the first game that people play is not something that I can understand.  I like to think of myself as a pretty well rounded nerd that can adapt to a number of different systems but I have to admit that the D&D character creation felt more like a maths exam than a hobby.

My journey started, like many others, with a friend and muddling through the rules as we got to them.  As much depth as some miniature games have, I am yet to find one that cannot be learnt with the rule book, half an hour and a lot of guess work.  As a grown adult with years of gaming experience, I muddled through the character creation at home, on my own and have never been so confused (half way through it even drove me to drink!).  Thankfully I had the benefit of our experienced DM to point me in the right direction (cheers Barry!) but I really can’t see how accessible the game is to teens with no expert on hand.

Obviously things are different now than when I was a kid (I’m rapidly approaching the grand old age of 35) with video games like World of Warcraft easing that transition to a certain extent.  Even taking into account the technical changes, I still feel that the majority of UK gamers have an easier transition into the hobby due to the evil empire.

Does that mean that I think UK gamers get the best deal when starting in the hobby?  No.

One thing that I have rapidly begun to learn when delving into the D&D world is that there is so much more going on that just the game.  Even before we had played our first session, almost all of the players had written a back story for their character and were thinking about how they would react in a given situation.  D&D seems to have made me think so much about my character development and the story that is unfolding which I have not experienced to that extent with any other game.

It has been nearly 20 years since my first gaming experience and only now do I feel that I am getting the most out of my hobby.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A knight rises

With the start of my very first Dungeons and Dragons adventure looming, I thought it was time that I got around to doing my character sheet.  During my first tentative steps into the D&D universe, I’d decided that I wanted to do a paladin, mainly because I had a really nice mini going spare and they like to hit things.

I’d printed off some character sheets earlier in the week (obviously not at work!) but hadn’t really looked at them before last night.  One quick peek at them as they came out of my folder and my trousers went on brown alert, I’ve done university exams less complicated!  Naturally, in true heroic style, I reached for the tequila and got stuck in.

As I already had a miniature and back story for my character (see my earlier blog entry for that disturbing tale), I had a fair idea of what I wanted him to come out like.  Straight away there was a sub-class that really took my fancy, it was the Ardent Paladin from the Divine Powers expansion book.  They seem to have a real wrath of god feel that I thought would fit well with my character’s back story.

I decided to go for a standard set of stats rather than rolling for them, based on my rolling skills lately I’d have ended up with a knight more Forrest Gump than Chuck Norris.  I also opted for the suggested feat and powers associated with an Ardent Paladin as a fair amount of time and tequila had passed by this point and I was getting impatient.

Next it came time to pick equipment, this was guided a lot by the miniature, meaning I would need a sword, shield and armour.  First up was the sword and the book recommended a 2 handed weapon for maximum damage.  I took one look at the weapon page and decided that the book was wrong.  Why the f**k would I pick a 2 handed weapon when there’s something so badass it’s called the Bastard Sword?!  It’s almost like Wizards of the Coast knew that one day I would play this game and put it in just for me.  Next I went for plate armour as it was closest to what is on the mini and a light shield to round out the look.  That left me with a little bit of leftover gold so I thought I should buy the adventurer basics kit (food seemed important for some reason).

I sent my sheet off to our DM, Barry, for checking and thankfully hadn’t done too much wrong.  Sir Cedric is now ready to enter the dungeon and smash monsters and Halflings alike in his quest for justice.

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this character and discussing the adventures of our group on future episodes of Soulstone Train.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Wyrd releases at Gencon 2013

It’s time once again for the annual joy that is Gencon but just how much joy will there be this year from Wyrd?

Historically I’ve always looked forward to Gencon for the pre-release models and, more importantly, the exclusive Nightmare Edition sculpts of existing models.  In the past we have seen the truly epic NE Chompy and the fantastic NE Dead Justice crew, both were above and beyond the quality of the original sculpts with Chompy regularly going for in excess of £100 on eBay.  Last year was a bit of a disappointment for me with the release of the Hanging Tree.  To me this always appeared to be some kind of vanity project for Wyrd and seemed to be an odd choice of what to make.  Fair enough making resser minions, a lot of people would use them but a terrain piece, really?!  It’s widely acknowledged that very few people use the special terrain rules, so much so that they’re not even in m2e.

Due to the disappointment of last year that many people were quite vocal about, I had high hopes for this year.  People that listen to SST, follow this blog or follow me on Twitter will be all too aware that I’ve not been anticipating the release of m2e so I’ll just skip over that.  The thing that attracted me to Wyrd in the first place was the miniatures so that is what I was most anticipating.

On offer this year is a nightmare edition of the Tara box set for $80 (picture here).

This to me seems like a really strange choice for the NE models.  I always saw the NE models as a way to bring fresh sculpts out for older models that could maybe do with a bit of a lift but the standard Tara box isn’t even out yet!  I don’t know if this is a business decision based on selling a crew box that is not available any other way to try and force up the sales figures for the NE model (this would be understandable following the low sales of last year’s hanging tree).

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have commented on the high price of the box, although I agree that $80 (roughly £55) for a crew starter is insane, I also get that plastic moulds are expensive to make and limited runs have to be reflected in the price.  Although £55 is a lot for a box, people regularly pay double that for Chompy showing that people will meet that sort of cost if the model is nice enough.  And that brings me onto the sculpts, I may need to think for a while about how to put this politely.

I have to say, I’m not a fan of the sculpts.  I’m not a big fan of the Wyrd plastics in general, I usually like the sculpts but am massively put off by how fragile some of them are (my Yan Lo box has never even left my house and 4 have already broken).  When I saw the Tara box I was shocked at how little I liked the sculpts.  For all their faults, the Wyrd plastics have almost all been dynamic sculpts and that box just seems to me to be quite far off the mark.  The NE sculpts have always been a number of steps ahead of the standard sculpts and that box seems a number of steps behind the other box sets (if that is the superior one I’d hate to see the standard version!).

Next up is the Justice box set (picture here).  I’m a big fan of Lady J and the Guild so was really looking forward to this one, was being the operative word.

Let’s first look at the previous version of this box which were amongst the oldest and most out of date models in the Malifaux range.  Lady J was an ok sculpt but by no means the best in the Guild, let alone in the whole range.  Although this model didn’t particularly excite me, I also didn’t particularly dislike it (it was the 2nd mini I painted after a 10-12 year hobby break so my paintjob really doesn’t help the sculpt at all!).  Next up is the Judge who caused me much misery in my early Malifaux days, getting his sword hand to stay attached for a whole game was always a challenge.  The sculpt is ok, it has definitely been surpassed by later models though (the Dead Justice version of him is awesome).  I know the Death Marshals are a bit of a marmite model, you either love them or hate them, and surprisingly I’m in the love column on this one.  Although it is rare that I would use them in a game (they’re the same cost as a witchling after all!) but I really like the sculpts and how much they relate to the fluff.

Now let’s take a look at the new version.  Starting with Lady J, I actually really like this sculpt.  I do have concerns that the artistic style is not what I would associate with Malifaux but that is pretty much true across the board now (the Viks are a great example of this).  The Judge I don’t really have an opinion on either way, it’s a very different look for him but not necessarily a bad one.  The Scales of Justice is a pretty nice sculpt, I’m a big fan of the original model but the new one doesn’t appear any worse or better.  So far I’m not particularly excited or offended by what’s on offer, then we come to the Death Marshals.


I really don’t know where to begin with what I think is wrong with these.  It looks to me that someone has made a bunch of Ghost Rider models and then tried to fit them into Malifaux somehow.  I could rant for hours about my concerns with these models such as fitting them into a case, etc but I’m just going to leave it at that.

Next up are a number of new games that, until recently, we knew nothing about.  We have;

Jetpack Unicorn
Through the Breach

Did you spot the odd one out there?  That’s right, Through the Breach (the Malifaux RPG) will not be at Gencon.  I may well be viewing this wrong but it seems odd to me that Wyrd are taking 3 produced and previously unheard of games but are not taking the one that people paid for a year ago through Kickstarter.  I appreciate that an RPG must take time to develop but this just doesn’t sit right with me.

I’ll be interested to see what else comes out over the next few weeks because at the moment it’s looking like my search for something to suck me back through the breach will continue at least a while longer (it is very much starting to feel like I’m flogging a dead horse though).

Monday, 5 August 2013

A whole new world

So, the new episode of Soulstone Train is online after a considerable amount of time editing.  I actually rage quit that process for a few days due to a significant amount of coughing in awkward places which was a bitch to edit around (I can’t really complain after my months long cough that screwed up many an episode).  Due to the paranoia of missing something, I usually end up listening through the whole episode 3 times before it is released, this time however I just wanted it out and listened to each part twice but didn’t listen to the finished version.

I started listening on the way to work this morning and noticed a break with no music in, bit disappointed in myself but it just means that musical choice can appear in a future episode (unless it just got dropped in somewhere else by mistake!).  Also the sound quality on this one wasn’t great which is why, when I started editing, I decided to order some decent recording gear (hopefully it’ll arrive before the next episode).

Overall I’m pleased with how the new format worked, we had more of a plan for that episode than we’ve had in the past and I think that really helped.  I’ll be interested to hear feedback from anyone that listens to the episode, I think it’ll take a few episodes to find our feet and feedback will really speed up that process.

As we have been playing a number of co-op games recently, we’re also keen on working in some listener participation into the games we’re playing.  This may be taking suggestions on what game to try next or what direction to take our D&D characters in.  We think that’ll add a fun dimension to the discussions that we’re having.

One quick hobby update before this entry is done.  I’ve now received and fully painted my miniature for the D&D campaign, it is the Sir Conlan mini from Reaper’s Warlord range.  It was the most expensive of the Reaper stuff that I ordered at a reasonable £6.80 but for that you get a really nice sculpt with a fair amount of weight to it.  I ordered my Reaper stuff from Miniature Heroes ( and the service was awesome, I can really recommend them.  I’ll get some pictures of the finished Sir Cedric when I’m not posting from work (don’t tell my boss!), considering how quickly he was painted I’m really pleased with how he came out.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Respect - part 2

Following on from my last entry, Wyrd have now brought in new forum rules to try and eliminate or limit the disrespectful behaviour that has been seen recently. In part I was really saddened to see this, not because of the action taken but because it was necessary.

For the last 4 years I've played Malifaux and a big part of why I stayed was the uniquely friendly and respectful community. Whether you love or hate m2e, you have to admit that it's impending release has had a profound impact on the community and the behaviour of some of the players.

As much as this need saddens me, Wyrd deserve a lot of credit for the way they are handling it. A lot of companies would have quietly banned the offenders and continued to deny there was an issue. By saying that they don't want to stop people expressing an opinion, just make them do it in an appropriate manner, they have earned my respect.

As much as things seem to be changing at Wyrd, every so often they do something like this that reminds me of the good old days. This buoys my spirits and I live in hope that m3e might be a game that I can get onboard with.