There Is Only War

The battle lines were drawn. Formations of the 3rd Company First Legion Astartes, the Dark Angels boarded their transports and attack bikes and prepared to protect an Imperial world against the expansion of the technologically superior yet numerically inferior Tau.

This was only my third game of Warhammer 40,000 in the last twelve months. The Tau have always appealed as a race, the miniatures are good, the background intriguing and their gun lines are dependable. Against the Dark Angels, the versatile super-human warriors of the Imperium of Man they were always in for a hard fight.

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The Space Marines’ plan was to close the distance quickly in Rhinos and Razorbacks, disrupt the Tau gun line with fast vehicles and then smash them in close assault and point blank gun range. The Tau plan was simply to hinder that. To use long range guns and missiles to neutralise the transports, vehicles and heavy support; to maintain the distance.

The table was 8’x4′, the game set at 1750 points per side and lasted 4 full turns (before we ran out of time). There was one objective to take, located in the centre of the table and the deployment was diagonal across the battlefield with 24″ between the two armies.

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The Tau started pretty well, Heavy Bolter and Quad Autocannon rounds pinging off their armoured battlesuits. In response rail gun rounds landed hits on the transport vehicles approaching them forcing troops to disembark before they were in position, troops that were then cut down in volleys of missiles and plasma fire.

Then the Ravenwing bikers arrived in turn 2 – behind the Tau gunline. And that was the beginning of the end. The Hammerhead took serious damage in its weaker rear armour and was immobilised, the Riptide became embroiled in close combat where its advanced weapons couldn’t be brought to bear on distant targets. Unsupported the fast Piranhas were destroyed by entrenched Space Marine Devastators and Fire Warriors fell under the Ravenwing’s wheels.

The Dark Angels paid a heavy price, 4 Ravenwing bikers, an Attack Bike, 20 Space Marines and a Rhino were slowly being added to the casualty list, but in return Crisis Suits, Fire Warriors, Devilfish Transports, Piranhas were being removed from play. Losing combat with the Company Master proved too much for the Tau Commander who decided at that point that fleeing was his best option…

The game ended with the Dark Angels controlling the relic and a final score of 9 points to the Space Marines and 4 points to the Tau.

I probably should be more upset about that than I am, but it was good fun (and I can feel a rematch coming on…)

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It’s worth mentioning as well that the Dark Angels looked really good. The vehicles in particular with their row of Dozer Blades were a fairly intimidating sight. The only thing I regret is not taking more photos, but my opponent Graham did and I’ll be sure to point you in the direction of his battle report when it is undoubtedly written. Lessons learned? Use more Fire Warriors and try to take some Kroot – something that might make Space Marines think twice about charging across the battlefield and entering close combat relatively unopposed.

Army Building

I’ll be honest, this is not my favourite part of the hobby. Pouring over rule books and codices trying to come up with an army list. But I’m pleased to say I’ve found something tonight that’s make it a little easier, courtesy of Command Centre.

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I dare say other gamers have been using this (or something like it) for many years, but I’m new to it, so indulge me.

You simply populate the tabs with your HQ, Troop, Elite, Fast Attack and Heavy Options. There’s extra tabs for Transports, weapon and wargear loadouts and so on. If you’re a regular gamer you can save and edit army lists so you can cherry pick from previous forces. You can even share them with other people. What this all means is that I can print it off and have most of the rules for my units on one piece of paper. That’ll surely cut down on rule and fact checking tomorrow for the 1750 point game I’m due to be taking part in. It was actually fun to put together this time around as well, and it’ll make it easier to try out new themes or forces in the future.

Anyway, here’s the list. It’s themed to be a bit shooty (deliberately) and fun to play rather than an out and out game winning army. Should be fun (and the Riptide is obviously included). And yes, I’m aware that I’ve already started making excuses for losing…

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So that’s how it looks on paper (well, on the screen, but you know what I mean) and here’s how it looks laid out.

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They’ll be facing of against An English Wargammer‘s Dark Angels (which you can see here in all their glory) and I dare say they’ll be a couple of battle reports written afterwards – one a bit happier than the other.

HMS Alert pt. 3 (and other stuff)

Only a fairly quick update on HMS Alert tonight, although the reason for the delay in getting on with it will become readily apparent when you get to the second half of the post.

I’ve put in another hour closing in the hull. As I suspected from the last post, it was much quicker tonight and although I wouldn’t say I raced through it, it was certainly not the three hours it took me to do the other side. It’s also cleaner than the first half, so not so much glue smeared all over everything (although there may have been a separate PVA explosion that has decimated the living room… Bit messy).

So here’s the obligatory picture. I haven’t had a look on the instructions at what the next step will be, but I imagine it will be closing in the stern and then maybe adding some external structure – maybe the side rails or the keel and stem (which are notable for their absence at the moment).

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So, the second half of the post.

As a treat for successfully carrying off the Cape St Vincent re-fight, myself and one of the other Chatham Historical Wargaming Club members have decided to have a celebratory game of Warhammer 40,000. We tried to arrange it during the preparation for the game, but painting 1:1200 scale ships took over all of our lives so it never really happened.

I had a game a while ago against a chaos army and although the Tau did ok, they lacked a bit of punch. Extra punch has been added in the form of two Broadside battlesuits, 4 Crisis Suits and… (drumroll please) a Riptide.

I’ve wanted a Riptide since they were released, it’s a gorgeous miniature (relative term) but never really got around to it. I finally got hold of one on Monday, assembled it and have painted it up to fit in with my existing Tau force over the last two evenings. There’s still detail to add, but this is enough to get it ready for the tabletop on Thursday night.

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Also, I found out today that there will definitely be a feature about the Victory 250 exhibition and the Cape St Vincent game in Warships, International Fleet Review Magazine – so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

And finally, other gamey blogs that you might be interested in checking out (members of the Chatham Club and all round good eggs).

The Only Wargamer In The Village

An English Wargamer

Enjoy and check back in soon for battle reports and more progress on HMS Alert.

HMS Alert pt. 2

Well as you may remember reading I’m working on a 1:72 laser cut cardboard model Naval Cutter for work. I left it last time with the under-frame of the hull assembled after about an hour’s work, and it was looking like this.

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Tonight I’ve done another two and a half hours work and the first step of that was to glue the previous assembly together. The only problems I’ve had with this build so far have been caused by the fact that there was no glue in the box… I’ve bought two glues, an all purpose UHU and a tacky PVA from my local Hobbycraft store. I figured out pretty quickly that it would need to be brushed on, and that it might need to be watered down a little in order to do that. Unfortunately, it took me a while to get the consistency right, but 150 minutes later I had it figured out – after smearing it all over the construction…

That’s not a huge problem in so much that everything I’ve built so far will be hidden under the external planking, so it’s a bit of trial and error that I could afford to spend time (and messiness) in doing.

After brushing that glue into the joints I then had to build the under-frame for the stern and add attach an under-deck. The final deck has planking laser etched into it, so this is more of a structural element that gives you something to glue other parts to free from the hassle of trying to keep everything really neat and tidy at this stage.

The interlocking of the cross sections into the under-deck around the outside edge is also important… As you’re about to see.

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After that I had to stick the incredibly thin card to the outside of the cross sections. I’m guessing this is to create something that you can then stick the final hull planking to, but it also adds a whole lot of rigidity to the thing (I may have accidentally knocked it off the table tonight and onto a hard floor, but it survived ok – phew).

I’ll be honest, these are pretty fiddly. There’s really not much area of contact to apply the glue on. Although the cross sections are only probably a little over a millimetre thick, you need to attach two of these, one on either side, to each section. Then – there’s a teeny gap between them… So there’s really not a lot of contact at all. This is the first chance to see the actual hull shape though, and it was quite satisfying watching it develop. Those interlocking sections onto the deck mean that these cross sections, and the gaps between them, are exactly the right size; and that’s really important when you consider the tiny amount of overlap in the parts here.

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As you can see, it’s as messy as I warned you, but by the end of the evening I had one side of the hull finished and I think the other side will be a bit quicker as I know what to expect and I know what consistency to keep the glue at.

So here’s how it’s looking after three and a half hours and two evening’s worth of effort.

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Expect more updates soon!

Driveclub

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Driveclub was one of the launch titles I was looking forward to on the PS4 way back in November 2013. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of racing games across whatever platform I’ve owned at the time; Wipeout, Forza, PGR, Gran Turismo and for Driveclub, we waited. And waited. Delays after delays piled onto not only the game’s physical release, but also the release of the free, promised PS+ version (which has yet to materialise).

I held back on buying the game immediately upon its eventual release date nearly a year overdue in October 2014. There were huge server issues, the game was glitchy, matchmaking was broken; in short this title has had a troubled time in development and just as troubled a time in its delivery.

Gradually though, the price began to fall in the shops, first as a preowned title (a method I’m not averse to using in order to grab a bargain) and then as a factory sealed, brand new game. The server issues were resolved, the amount of players meant that the online features were being better utilised and there is, by now, a huge amount of DLC, some of it free, most of it reasonably priced considering the content. It’s currently down to £24 at Tesco, and I think that’s a fair average price in UK stores at the moment, so if you haven’t already taken the plunge it’s well worth it.

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The game features an initially bewildering array of events, tours and challenges. Car types are broken into a few broad categories, Hot Hatch at one end and Hyper at the other (with more in between). As you’d expect the Hot Hatches are pretty easy to handle and cover things like Mini Coopers and Golf GTis. The Hypers are a bit more, ummm, twitchy. This is where you’ll find the Paganis nestling next to the Koenigseggs. As the driver levels up, more cars are unlocked.

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The track variety is good and will take you on a whistle stop tour of the world from Scotland, India, Canada, Japan and so on.

During the races (which can be laps or point to point) certain challenges will crop up. These challenges, set by other drivers’ performances, will change from race to race and can be drift, cornering or average speed challenges. Beat them and you get more points. You get points for clean sections of circuit, clean laps, overtaking, drafting, drifting and high speeds – but you’ll lose them for veering off the track, hitting other drivers and generally driving badly. This taking away of points is important given the games online element. It encourages a certain amount of fair play. Then there are additional “in-event” challenges that don’t change from race to race (finishing in the top 3, or beating a certain laptime) that earn challenge stars. These stars are used to determine whether or not you can unlock certain events, in particular the multi-race tours.

There’s a photo editor which is quite good fun to play with for a while – but no replay function for the races themselves. A small niggle and really not something that is that important, especially considering the PS4 sharing functions that record the gameplay in any case. It just means that you’re missing alternative camera angles which might be important to those Youtubers out there.

And finally let’s put the Club into Driveclub.

I started a club the day I got a copy of the game. I soon realised however that the club remains inactive until somebody else joins it… But none of my online friends have a copy of the game (sad face).

Driveclub comes to the rescue by suggesting people to invite to your club based on active players at the same driving level. I think (it seems to be the way it works, but I haven’t checked properly) that every time you level up as a player, it allows you to invite more, up to 20 at a time, suggested players to your club. You can decide on your club colours, name and badge (a familiar online function for most people) and have up to six members at any one time. The club then levels up with the drivers all contributing points from their own endeavours – which unlocks even more cars. You can set up events, challenges and just generally participate in the more social aspect of the title.

Of course, you could just join someone else’s club – but where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, graphically the game looks really good, at least it does to me as the player. The scenery whizzes past when you’re concentrating on not hitting other cars or barriers at high speed, so while I think it looks good, I might not be the best person to comment. Watching spoilers automatically rise and lower or the front and rear airbrakes on the Pagani Huayra struggling to assist the car through a corner is something that’s never getting old.

The in-game music is a bit disappointing and is a fairly standard background drone that really doesn’t do much at all. A few good licenced songs would have made a lot of difference here, but never mind… I’ve added a video at the end of this for you, but make sure you’re viewing it on the highest definition your connection will allow (most things look awful when streamed at 240p). This is my gameplay, so I apologise for the awful driving (I’m not that bad in real life I promise).

I’m really enjoying this game. I picked up a copy of Evolve and Life is Strange in the last seven days, but I keep returning to this. A previously broken, but now solid racer with a decent online component (and coming from me, that’s pretty high praise).

HMS Alert pt. 1

“I’m not an addict. I can give up any time I want…” – said every hobbyist ever.

I swear I wasn’t planning on starting another project so soon. I was going to have a nice break from model ships, I was gonna coast for a few weeks using the stuff I already had assembled and painted at the weekly club nights and just have a bit of an easy time of it for a while.

Then I was handed a box today by our Front of House and Retail Manager. A laser cut, cardboard kit from Shipyard. Apparently they needed one built so they could display it in the shop (as we sell said flatpack box).

To start with HMS Alert seems an unlikely subject for a kit like this. Built in Dover in 1777 it was captured the following year by the French in the English Channel – not exactly a glowing service record… But I digress (as usual).

The box makes the finished product look pretty good – but I’ve never built anything like this before. Sure, I’ve built scale models, but not laser cut, not with brass parts, not cardboard and not (importantly) in this level of detail or for public display purposes. I suppose the only thing I’m used to working with here is the scale, which is quoted at 1:72.

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So I started off with a simple unboxing. The instructions are mainly in Polish (I think) with a translation near the front of the book. Fortunately, all of the parts seem to be very clearly set out on the sheet cardboard and the laser cutting is pretty neat as well (with only a couple of tabs left attaching it to the surrounding material – tabs that need to be trimmed off with the razor blades provided in the kit).

I started, funnily enough, with step one, the main hull assembly. The spine of the hull has cross sections slotted into it, all of the cross sections are numbered 1 – 18 from bow to stern and were perfect fits.

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Next there’s a port and starboard deck (not an actual deck, but just something to give everything a bit more rigidity I guess) that runs the full length of the hull, separate pieces for each side of the ship.

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I’m going to leave it there for tonight, believe it or not but that’s about an hour’s work… On pancake night! So I need to go and eat pancakes… NOW!

You can of course expect updates over the next few days, weeks or however the hell long this is going to take to put together. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is my ability to give it up at the end. I might end up buying another one for myself.

Life is Strange

Well, it is according to Dontnod and Square Enix. But then the life in question is a bit stranger than most.

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About twenty minutes into the game (after a pretty bleak introduction) the main character, Max, a teenage student and photographer at a decent college witnesses a murder – and then rewinds time. So yeah, pretty strange.

She realises that by rewinding time she can prevent the murder from happening in the first place. She can get the answers to her class questions right. She can interact with her fellow students and lecturers in the way they want to be interacted with.

I picked up Life is Strange on the Playstation Store a few days ago. I had a bit of money in my online account, it was cheap and had an interesting write up. I’m also, despite the mainly negative reviews, a fan of Dontnod’s Remember Me. I thought that title was interesting and character driven with good mechanics for combat and the development of skills. And it looked amazing. This doesn’t look anything near as polished, but as an episodic game focusing on storytelling I don’t suppose it needs to be.

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The in game controls are simple enough, and the way the time travel works is literally at the press of a button. On screen prompts let you know when you can rewind, what objects you can look at or interact with and whether you’ve just made a particularly ‘game changing’ decision that you can reverse.

Although it might not be as visually polished as their previous title, the style seems to be as much an artistic choice as it does one of budgetary constraints – and it still looks good. Especially if you consider the £3.99 asking price and remember that this is the first of five episodes. It’s relaxed gameplay, mellow graphics and really good use of sound and music (Max puts her earphones in for the title sequence and the song expands out through your TV) are a complete change of pace to the usual Current Gen Console Fodder (at the moment I’m playing Driveclub and Evolve as well). The main character is likeable, shy, smart and compassionate…

This could turn out to be quite an experience.