Sunday, 12 July 2015

Warhammer 40K Painted Assassinorum: Execution Force Minis

After over a month of being slack I seem to have finally got the painting bug back again and I have painted all the interesting minis from the Assassinorum: Execution Force game.  By 'interesting' minis I mean everything except the cultists, not that I think there's anything wrong with them, just that I've painted the same minis before when they came in the Dark Vengeance set.

Lets start with the stars of the show the Assassins; and in particular my long-time favourite temple the Vindicare.




The Assassins weren't the easiest minis to paint and I spent a good while considering the best approach before starting painting.  This is a very unusual approach for me, in the end I painted them solid grey to start with and then washed them with 'Nuln Oil' five times to give the depth to the synsuits.

I've also painted the Big Bads from the game.  As my Chaos Space Marine army is painted as Alpha Legion I have naturally painted these to match.

Chaos Sorcerer

Chaos Space Marines

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Warhammer Is Dead, Long Live Kings Of War

I've played Warhammer for many, many years, it was in it's 4th edition when I started and I've played it on and off ever since.  So it is with some sadness that I greeted the news of Warhammer Fantasy Battles discontinuation.  Although it saddens me, it doesn't surprise me, if the 'end times' wasn't a big enough hint there's been a problem with Warhammer for a long time.  It's got clunky and unwieldy, in background and rules, and whist I've still been playing every so often I've hardly been buying any new minis for it at all, and I expect that's a common story.  The entry costs are too high as well, so if older players aren't buying and new players aren't joining it had to go.

What's interesting is its replacement the 'Age of Sigmar', the new fantasy game from GW.  The successor to Warhammer, but a very different beast.  There's some stuff to like here, GW have provided the rules (all 4 pages of them) and stats for all old Warhammer minis as free downloads so you can start playing straight away.  Also apparently army books are a thing of the past and rules will now be included in the box of minis when you buy them, excellent stuff, this will help players pick up a box or two of minis they happen to like and get them on the gaming table, this is a move forward.  The new miniatures are of course fantastic, I really like the look of the new Sigmarites and whilst the chaos stuff isn't a radical redesign, it is well done.  However there are some mortal problems that I see with the new system, firstly it's way to simple, Warhammer was a game of manoeuvre, this isn't, this is a game of rolling dice and killing stuff.  The real killer is the lack of points values, you just use whatever takes your fancy or until you run out of space to deploy it!

I can see what GW are trying to do here, it's a big gamble and I hope it works for them, but I'm not going to be getting on board with this, I'll still play Warhammer and will be keeping an eye on the new model range to see if there's any cool stuff I can retrofit into my Warhammer armies.  It seems to have got off to a good start in one way at least, the White Dwarf with the free Sigmarite mini has completely sold out, and before I could get a copy :-(

However as it happens this has all happened with fantastic timing for Mantic Games who see the release of their own mass battle system 'Kings of War' next month.  The mechanics are different, but this is very much a strategic fantasy massed battle game.  Two of us in our gaming group pledged for the Kickstarter a few months ago and the first packages are due soon.  We'd been looking at Kings of War as we were finding problems with Warhammer and wanted a slicker, but still strategic, fantasy battle game, and Kings of War seems to fill this hole nicely.  Ultimately whilst Warhammer and Kings of War were direct competitors, trying to do the same thing, Age of Sigmar and Kings of War are doing very different things, which I suspect will ultimately benefit both systems.

And as for the bases? I'll be sticking with square ones.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Review - 40K Assassinorum: Execution Force

Games Workshop are doing something right at the moment, first they released the first part of their new Adeptus Mechanicus range, which although I haven't bought any yet, it is only a matter of time.  Then as I was drooling over the Skitarri they go and drop an unexpected bombshell and release a stand-a-lone new boardgame featuring brand new Assassin minis.  Well I couldn't resist, so lets see what you get for your £75.

The first thing is you notice when you pick up the box is the weight, it was much heavier than I was expecting.  The box has great artwork on as would be expected, but the box itself is a step up for GW, a proper thick board game box, not the flimsy thin card boxes that starter sets come in.

Lets get straight to why you've bought or are considering this game and that is the miniatures.  The game contains 34 hard plastic minis, 15 chaos cultists, 3 chaos space marines, a sorcerer & familiar and of course one each of the four new Assassins.

The new Assassins (a Vindicare, a Callidus, an Eversor and a Culexus) are masterpieces of the miniature makers art.  It's amazing what GW can do with plastic these days, the dynamism that they manage to capture, that would be impossible in old style metal minis, is just outstanding.  I can't gush enough over how great these are.  Quite a bit of assembly is required, these are no 'push-fit' board game pieces, but the end result is well worth the effort.

The Assassins are of course trying to assassinate someone, in this case a Chaos Sorcerer lord who comes with some mates.  All the chaos forces minis are already in the range so no real surprises here.  They are also all generic so can be painted up to match any existing chaos collection that you might have, mine will all be painted up to join my Alpha Legion army.

For the sorcerer they give you the complete terminator lord/sorcerer lord sprue, so you have plenty of options on how to build the guy, and will end up with a load of spares at the end.  I've built this kit up before as a lord, but decided to go the proper sorcerer way this time, staff and all.

The 15 cultists are the same ones that came in the Dark Vengeance boxed set, I liked them then, and I like them now, I'm actually glad they're the same minis as they'll fit right into my units that I got from Dark Vengeance, which have always needed a size bump really.

Finally we have the three Chaos Space Marines, the most disappointing minis by a long way.  There's nothing actually wrong with them, they're just a bit flat a dull compared to all the others.  On another note this is my first experience with the new 32mm bases.  Overall I like them, maybe they're slightly too big and 30mm would have been better, but the marines do fill the space well.  I'm not going to go rebasing all the marines that I already have, but now I've seen them they don't upset either.

The game of course includes a rulebook, it's in full colour and is the same size and format as one of the current White Dwarf weeklies.  As well as clearly written rules the last few pages provide some interesting background on the Assassin temples.

The reason the box was much heavier than I was expecting is the board sections, the game contains 4 large and every thick board sections that join together to create the playing space.  Three of them create the main space where the Assassins have to locate the teleporter and turn it on and the final piece is the inner sanctum of the Chaos Sorcerer where the Assassins mission objective is.  These were much bigger and thicker than I expected, the artwork is of course top notch too.  Very impressive.

You also get a bunch of cards, counters and dice.  All high quality, for all that Games Workshop wind me up at times, they have put out an incredibly high quality product here.

So after all my gushing about the contents how does it play? and is it actually any good as a game?

The game is a co-operative game where the players take the role of the Assassins as they make their way through the Astropathic Sanctum trying to find the teleporter which will take them to the temple of shades where they will attempt to assassinate the Chaos Sorcerer.  The Assassins get two actions each per turn, which include basic stuff such as moving, shooting and attacking.  They all have different stats and different special rules which nicely make the four Assassins play differently, using the different abilities in tandem is one of the keys to victory.

After the Assassins have had their go the game takes it's go, the turn tracker moves on, random events happen and Chaos renegades move around the board in a semi random way until they see an Assassin, upon which they start attacking.  In a nice twist the more renegades that go on alert triggers more events (which are often more renegades) and the game can quickly escalate to impossible once you let one or two alert renegades live.  This provides an interesting challenge, it would be quite easy to slowly walk around taking out one renegade at a time, but there's a 16 turn limit and you don't have the time, but push too quick and you will be overwhelmed.

The board layout will be the same for each game, but cleverly the game comes with a random room mechanic, so you never quite know where the teleporter and the power switch will be.  Once you have found the teleporter you then have access to the final board section, the Sorcerer is always guarded by three Chaos Space Marines who are much tougher than the cultists that you mainly meet in the main board section.  We found our games to last around 45mins to an hour, which is a good length for a game like this.

My only real concern with this is the replayability.  We managed to assassinate the Sorcerer on our first attempt and out of three games in total we only failed once.  However GW have clearly realised this might be a weakness and have added a list of X-box style achievements, all of which will make the game harder to beat, and hence adding to it's longevity.

In conclusion, I reckon it's worth it for minis alone if you already have Imperial and Chaos forces for 40K, it works especially well if you have dark vengeance.  The games not a bad little filler game either, it's not massively in depth, but it is fun.  I think this is a good format for a release like this and I hope they do more like it.

One last thing to be aware of is that whilst all the minis are compatible with Warhammer 40K, none of the rules are included.  The Chaos figures rules are in all their codex, but to get the Assassin rules you'll either need to download the (expensive) dataslate or get your hands on White Dwarf 65 which also features the rules and points for all four Assassins.

As a nice surprise GW threw in a free Adeptus Mechanicus pin with my order!  I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it, but free stuff is always welcome.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

From The Painting Table #18

Another mix of recently painted minis for me to showcase today.  I've not had a greatly productive year so far on the painting front if I'm honest, I'm getting a few bits and bobs done, like those shown below, but no projects getting completed or even that many actual units (although there is one of those below), on the plus side I'm still getting a lot of games in, I suppose you can't have everything.......

Starting today with these Masai villagers from wargames foundry.  These were an xmas present from my sister (along with some Masai warriors) and are a welcome addition to my growing 'Darkest Africa' collection.

This is an interesting mini, from the dawn of Warhammer 40K, a 'Sensei'.  These are the immortal sons or descendents of the Emperor and are invisible to physic powers, the Inquisition naturally see them as a threat.  

An actual unit with gaming purposes now, 10 Nurgle Plaguebearers, which will see use in Warhammer fantasy, Warhammer Quest and potentially KIngs of War.  I'm always apprehensive of painting daemons, especially the skin ones, but I think these came out OK in the end, they still look a little to clean though and not disgusting enough.

 Below are a couple more plague spreaders, but this time for the Skaven.

Finally we have this 'Lizard Sorcerer' from the old Darkworld boardgame.  He's not the greatest mini but is being added to my Warhammer Quest collection to act as a stand in for a Liche.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Army Focus - Warhammer Fantasy Dogs of War

It's been over a year since I last dug out one of my collections of painted minis for a photo-shoot (although there has been a couple of looks at some prepaints inbetween), this time I've settled on my Dogs Of War army for Warhammer Fantasy.

Dwarf Slayer Pirates, my favorite unit in the army

I started this collection back towards the end of 5th edition when the Dogs of War army book was released.  At the time it was a great innovation, a selection of wacky units that could either be fielded as a complete army of mercenaries or added to normal armies to add more variety (although I won't deny it was open to some abuse).  GW also continued to add more of the 'Regiments of Renown' in White Dwarf.  I enjoyed fielding this army at tail end of the 5th edition period, but one thing that always bugged me slightly was the lack of 'generic' mercenaries, everything had to be special unit, almost always led by a hero.


Then came along 6th edition, and all the previous army books were thrown out in one go and the game radically reworked.  A couple of PDF's were released with what ere supposed to be 'get you by' lists until the books were done.  Dogs of War never got a new book and I'm stuck using those lists to this day, however, the lists aren't actually that bad.

Heroes and Wizards

Inevitably with such an old list Dogs of War sit low on the power curve, but there's a lot you can do with these flexible lists.  They provide the best of both worlds, the 'Dogs of War' list is a generic list featuring normal unnamed regiments, such as heavy cavalry, light cavalry, dwarfs, marauders, pikemen, crossbowmen etc.  Then you have the 'Regiments of Renown' list which features all the special regiments from the previous book and White Dwarf, and you can use these regiments in an army based on Dogs of  War list.  It's good because you can theme a Dogs of War army however you like, but still add the wacky (and sometimes powerful) Regiments of Renown.

One of the 6th ed changes was to take the Halfling Hotpot out of the Empire army and put it into the Dogs of War army

There are two painting eras shown in this army, as easily seen by the two basing styles, the older style ones were painted when I was about 16, and the flocked ones after I returned from university.  I'd like to find the time to repaint the older part of the army, but it's not on the current priority list.  I'm not really planning on adding anything else to this army either, but it's still a collection that I enjoy and wouldn't want to part with.

5th edition; when two giants and a wizard was a suitable regiment

When being used this army is often joined by Dwarfs from my Dwarf army, Marauders from my Chaos army and any cavalry I can lay my hands on to represent light cavalry in particular, but occasionally some heavy cavalry can add a little punch.

Flying crossbowmen

Monday, 13 April 2015

Reaper Bones Great Mummy

A little while ago now Reaper ran an insanely successful Kickstarter for their new 'bones' range of soft plastic fantasy and sci-fi minis.  I was very tempted to join in on the Kickstarter, but in the end the international postage put me off.  Ever since then I've been meaning to pick up a couple of pieces to see what they're like.  Our recent obsessive playing of Warhammer Quest has given me the excuse to add a 'Great Mummy' which stands in as a Tomb King in our dungeons.

What arrived is shown above, a slightly squashed soft plastic figure.  It appears to be similar plastic to the Mantic Mars Attacks stuff that I got recently.  The squashed problem was easily solved by immersing the figure in nearly boiling water.

The detail is pretty good, better than I was expecting to be honest.  Although looking through the range the sculpting quality does seem very variable.

Next I based and undercoated the mini.  I used my normal enamel undercoat and it came up very shinny and a little bit tacky, I was a bit worried at this point that it wasn't going to take the paint well.

However once I got painting all went well and I got the result you see above.  Overall I'm really quite pleased with this chap, Reaper Bones figures are very cheap and the range is massive, as I mentioned before the quality does vary, but there's a lot of useful figures to be got, especially for filling up dungeons.  Also being soft plastic they're quite hard to damage.

One last point is that he was a bit bigger than I was expecting, towering over my classic GW mummies.  I'm not sure if this is standard for the range or not, it might be because he is a 'great' mummy.  Monsters come in various sizes anyway, but a towering bunch of humans might look a bit odd compared to other manufacturers if this is standard size.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wargames Foundry Greek Mythology Figures For Warhammer Quest

I've slowly been collecting foundry's Greek Mythology range over the last few years and a few weeks ago I placed another order for two of the larger monsters; a Hydra and a Chimaera.  I had an extra incentive to buy them, for as well as being added to my Greek collection they are also intended for use in Warhammer Quest. 

As you get to higher levels a lot of larger monster appear and I only really had a couple of Manticores to represent them all.  As well as being cheaper than 'official' GW models they are also a lot smaller, which wouldn't normally be an advantage, but when you're fighting in the close confines of a dungeon smaller minis are actually a win.

The Hydra

The Chimaera

Wargames Foundry have this really wonderful policy of throwing in a couple of free minis with orders, this time I got a free Gorgon and a free Harpy.  I already had the Gorgons in my collection and as there are only three gorgons in Greek myth this bonus one has been painted up for Warhammer Quest too.

And finally this Harpy, who can't be used in Warhammer Quest, but does make a welcome addition to the Greek collection.

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