Monday, 28 September 2015

The Road to Conquest 2015

When living in Christchurch one of the events I looked forward to every year was 'Conquest'. This is a wargaming event run annually around Labour weekend that brought gamers in from all over the South Island and even further North. It is the biggest gaming event in the South Island and brought together geek minds of all ilk for a weekend of beer, BBQs, gaming and general smack talk. It is a tournament where I can relay on being able to catch up with gaming friends I know I probably won't see at any other time in the year.

Sadly with the move up to Wellington and a new mortgage I will not be able to attend so many gaming events in the foreseeable future and Conquest is one of the events I may have to take off the calendar. However I wanted to make it to at least one last Conquest before I call 'time' on my favourite annual event so I have booked my tickets and sorted accommodation and I am heading down South to make sure I get one final hurrah!

There is also an ulterior motive to me attending this year; with Games Workshop cutting ties to the old style of Warhammer Fantasy the organisers of Conquest are also going to cease running this game system in their event so this is the last year we will see Warhammer Fantasy Battles as a game being played at Conquest. I figured this is the perfect way to say farewell to the old Fantasy I know and love.

So with that in mind I am setting out to paint as many Dwarfs as I can before October 31st. The goal this week is to get some colour on a unit of 30 Longbeards in the hope that I'll be able to finish them before the end of October. Given my rather poor track record of getting (or rather not getting) models finished in time for tournaments I'm trying to keep my goals somewhat reserved. So if I can get the steel colours and the fleshtones finished this week I'll be happy.

No picture updates yet as the models are only undercoated and a bit boring but check back early next week and I'll post some up. In the meantime here is a picture of some awesome dwarfs...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

It's gone! It's finally all gone!

Last week I managed to get the last of the Lego in the mail and now there is finally space again to walk in the study. I'll admit there is still a bit of Lego left as you can probably see if you look closely at the picture but there are sound, logical reasons for all of it...well I tell myself there are and really I don't care what anyone else thinks.

In all honesty I did want to keep some of the Lego so I have kept most of the Lego Castle Minifigs and also all of the Minifigs Lego have released in their Minifigs series. Aside from that the rest of the models are old models from the 90's which I am "looking after" for Sam's brother so they were not mine to sell. It truly pains me that they continue to take up space but it's a burden I suppose I must bear :)

It feels really good to have reduced my toys by so much as they really were just becoming clutter. I've actually been so happy with the end result I have started to sort through my toy soldiers in an effort to reduce what I have there also.

Now that I've completed what I set out to do with the Lego I've been wondering what to do with my spare time. I've noticed it is starting to get filled up with playing computer games or watching TV which always kind of bothers me as being rather unproductive. So after a chat with a friend I've decided to set my sights on another tournament and see if I can get some more models decluttered in the process.

Anyway I'll post more about that later, as always thanks for reading and if you have an urge to declutter then start by throwing 10 minutes a day at it for a week. The hardest part is just getting started.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Greenstone Cup 2015

The Greenstone Cup is over for another year and the Av'ndale Dandies humiliated all competition to bring the cup back to Wellington!...well ok not quite. This was in fact my worst Greenstone cup placing ever and I managed to achieve it with a tier 1 team; Wood Elves.

At the start of the year I posted about 2015 being the year of the Elf for me and how I was going to try and step outside of my comfort zone. The aim was to play the four different Elf races in Blood Bowl in four separate tournaments and learn more about the 'dash' style of play. Wood Elves were the last team I needed to play so I thought why not bring them along to Greenstone where I think they could be quite competitive.

The build guidelines for Greenstone are 1,100,000 gp with 6 skills (5 normal skills and 1 'double roll' skill) with all the regular caveats around inducements and Star Players etc. This was the team I took:

And as part of playing my last game with Elves I wanted to try and finish painting my Elf team. I didn't quite get there but I got pretty close. This is them:

I'm very happy with the monochrome effect and I like the purple contrast. I think they'll look really good once I've finished painting the purple and the bases.

So anyway that was my team and my models, but what about my opponents? Well settle down with a tea, coffee, beer or whatever you enjoy drinking as I wax lyrically about my tale of woe...

Game 1: Ingwenya Lizardmen (Helouis)

Final Score 3-0 (Cas 2-4)

The Dandies made a good start to the tournament against Helouis' Lizardmen. The game was looking a bit concerning in the first turn when Helouis sent two of my linemen to the casualty bin but I managed to score quickly and get my reserve on the field to bring my team up to 10 players. A lucky sack on Helouis' Skink ball carrier gave me another quick point before the end of the first half. In the second half the Elves came up with another lucky sack to bring the score up to 3-0. Then by turn 15 Helouis was looking like she would at last get a very well deserved touchdown. All her Skinks had to do was complete a hand-off. But it seemed even that was too much to ask from her dice as the Skink fumbled the ball into the crowd. The ball then got pitched 11 squares across the field right next to a waiting Elf catcher to threw it down field to stall out the last turn of the game.

Helouis is one of those people who maintains a happy and positive outlook on things no matter how bad the dice are rolling and hence is always a great person to play. I think she deserved a lot more luck than she got in this game but I was glad to see she placed pretty well in the end which indicates that the dice did turn round for her later in the tournament.

Game 2: Holy Harlots Amazons (Nick)

Final Score 1-0 (Cas 2-4)

For the second game I moved to the top table to play Nick and his Amazon team. I forgot to take a photo of the game in progress so I just snapped a shot of Nick's team when we packed up. This game didn't go so well for the Dandies. I received in the first half and ran the ball up-field into a scoring position. To follow on from the previous game's early casualties turn 2 left a lineman dead and Nick managed to knock the ball loose from my catcher. Things weren't so bad though as it looked like a relatively easy pick up next turn and then in for the touchdown. Unfortunately not so as Nick had one last player to move and with her he strung together a hand full of unlikely rolls to dodge away, pass the ball and catch it with another player right in the middle of a ready-built cage. It was all pretty much one way after that as the Amazons ground their way towards the end-zone. Nick had so much Guard in his team that the only chances I had to strip the ball out of his cage required two dice, up-hill blocks. One of these left a Wardancer as a casualty while the other Wardancer was taken down by the Amazons on turn 11. A blitz at the start of the second half allowed me to get a point on the board but the game was pretty one-sided overall.

Game 3: Fifty Shades Dark Elves (Dave)

Final Score 2-0 (Cas 1-2)

Third up for the day was Dave and his Dark Elves. The Dandies did pretty well here but I must say there was a disparity of dice. Dave's weren't great and mine were pretty good. I received first and after a very unlucky early two dice block I was left scrambling to recover. I managed to get the ball to touchdown on turn 5 with a riot having delayed the game a little. On the kick off one of my catchers chased the kick and managed to injure himself tripping over his shoelaces but otherwise the first half was pretty uneventful. The second half started with a thrown rock which injured one of my Wardancers but thankfully the team kept it together and managed to turnover the ball and score again in turn 14.

Game 4: Ravensburg Rhinos Undead (Steve)

Final Score 1-2 (Cas 0-5)

This game started well enough with the Dandies scoring early in the first half after receiving. I was hoping to stall a bit but things were looking a bit too risky to do that. Once he received Steve kept basing all my players in order to grind them down. Unfortunately I wasn't having much luck in dodging away from him but thankfully for me Steve was also having no luck with his block dice or armour rolls. I delayed Steve as much as I could to get him to risk exposing his ball carrier for a blitz and sure enough my chance came on turn 7 to strip the ball out. Nuffle had different ideas however as my Strip Ball Wardancer leapt in and rolled a Both Down followed by a re-roll with the same result against Steve's Block Ghoul. Steve then flattened all my standing players and scored before the half time whistle. In the second half Steve received and just ground his way down-field, but this time his dice had turned exceptionally hot and my team fled to the casualty and KO bin. I had to take risks and was very lucky to knock the ball loose on a two dice uphill block and then pick it up in two tackle zones before making a pass to an open player. However just as Nuffle giveth he also taketh away as Steve rolled the 6 he needed for an interception and his Mummy plucked the ball from mid-air. That was the nail in the coffin as Steve stomped in another Touchdown and I was left with only 4 players on the pitch.

Game 5: Welcome to the Freak Show Chaos Pact (Gil)

Final Score 1-2 (Cas 0-4)

Another game that started well but quickly went pear-shaped. I sent some catchers down my left which drew a number of Gil's players away from the centre then blitzed through the middle and repositioned almost my entire team behind Gil's front line with a good screen to stop him getting to the ball. The Elves it seemed were working just how they were supposed to; with speed and agility. It was too risky to stall so I scored on turn 3 and kicked off to Gil. Gil's team formed a similar cage to Nick with enough Guard to make it difficult for me to strip the ball out. I learned from my previous game however and based his Guard players forcing him to cage up without them. I got a good opportunity on turn 6 where I leapt in to blitz the ball carrier however my Wardancer failed the leap roll and I had no re-rolls left (they were all gone by turn 4 *sigh*). My Wardancer in his incompetence managed to break his neck in the dive and then the following roll Gil broke my other Wardancer with his Ogre. Gil touched down before the end of the half as my players started fleeing to the injury and KO dugout as game 4 began to repeat itself all over again. By turn 12, due to having so few players on the pitch I advised Gil I was just going to shift the remnants of my team up the other end of the field and wait for him to score so I could attempt a 1 turn touchdown. So we called it a touchdown to Gil and save ourselves 4 more turns of Gil shifting his cage slowly forward. We set up for the 1-turn touchdown attempt where Gil promptly rolled a Blitz and smashed my front line. In the end I just didn't have enough players to get the chain push going for the one turn score and it was all over bar the crying.

Game 6: Wainuiomata Widowmakers Dark Elves (Dawid)

Final Score 1-2 (Cas 0-2)

This game was madness from the very beginning. By turn 2 I had a dead lineman and my cage had been busted wide open with 3 or 4 of my players in danger of being pushed into the crowd. Thankfully my Wardancers came to play this time and stripped the ball out of the Dark Elf cage which bounced free for my catcher to run in on turn 4. Dawid received the kick-off and set about decimating my Elves. It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. For about 8 or 9 turns he was rolling 10's, 11's and 12's on the armour rolls only to roll 2's, 3's and 4's on the injury rolls. So thankfully my players weren't leaving the field but the number of players left dazed, confused and scattered across the pitch was making it hard for me to contain the Dark Elves. The remainder of the game played out similar to the previous 2. Dawid scored on turn 8 of the first half and then received for the second. He caged up and set about pushing down-field. I blocked him off for the most part and forced him to switch from one side of the field to the other but in the end he pushed through for the touchdown on turn 16. I had to try the 1 turn score again and this time it came perilously close to working but I failed a 'Go for it' roll when trying to move my ball retriever closer to the line of scrimmage for a pass.

So that brought the tournament to a close. It was an extremely disappointing finish for me as I struggled ineffectually to get to grips with playing Elves. In all honesty I have not enjoyed Blood Bowl very much at all this year in playing the pointy ear teams and have considered taking a break from the game many times. I think at the moment we'll just let things settle a bit and try playing some more bashy teams to see if I can reignite my interest in the game. With all the other models to paint and games to play however taking a break might not be such a bad thing.

As always thanks for reading and until next time remember...

Catchy slogan!!!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Book Review in 300 Words or Less - Mark of Calth

Yep, you guessed it, it's another Horus Heresy novel. Believe it or not I am actually reading another book that's not Horus Heresy I just haven't finished it yet.

However in the meantime let's get on with the review:

Horus Heresy: Mark of Calth by Guy Haley, Graham McNeill, Anthony Reynolds, David Annandale, Rob Saunders, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, John French and Dan Abnett
This one is easy, I can sum it up in two words:

Don't bother...

I'm determined to read all of the Horus Heresy novels for completion's sake but this one really did test my resolve. The novel is a collection of 8 short stories centred around the ongoing war of Calth between the Ultramarines and Wordbearers. It is set after the battle of Calth that destroyed the topside of the planet and forced everyone into the caverns beneath the surface. The stories feature both marines and regular humans and mostly focus on skirmishes of betrayal and subterfuge. While the majority I found Tolkienesque in their ponderous progression, two I found had some merit through their focus on extremely minor characters of the Heresy as a whole. The first is Athame by John French which tracks the progress of an Athame knife from the Age of Strife until the Heresy where it falls into the hands of Word Bearers Legionaries. While the story itself is as laborious as the rest it was interesting to see an inanimate object as the main character of a story. The second is Unmarked by Dan Abnett which helps fill in some of the background to Oll Persson; one of the perpetuals working with John Grammaticus for the Cabal. I always felt this character was rather unexplained in 'Know no Fear' and was a bit out of place, so it was good to get a little more info on his role in the bigger picture.

So in short, if you're dedicated to reading all the books in the series this one has a couple of cool Easter eggs, if you're just looking for a good read then best look elsewhere.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Where did all the bloggings go?

It's been a while since my last post but I do have a good reason. After about 10 loyal years my computer has finally kicked the bucket. This has made updating the blog a little more challenging lately but now with a shiny new gaming rig I'm back into it!

There's a whole bunch of stuff that has been happening over the past few weeks but what I've been most excited about is Burger Wellington so I'll start there.

Wellington on a Plate is a food festival in Wellington that runs for about 3 weeks over August. The concept is that restaurants in Wellington each put on an experimental fixed menu of sorts where patrons are able to try different and exciting styles of food. As a kind of off-shoot of that there is also the Burger Wellington competition where restaurants all create a unique burger and then patrons can try the burgers and vote for them on-line.

It's probably no surprise that Sam and I have been more excited about the Burger Wellington competition than the rest of this culinary extravaganza. Really though is that not to be expected? When you run a city-wide burger competition you know everything else is going to be just a sideshow.

So over the three weeks we managed to fit in 7 burgers and I have listed them off below from worst to best:

Arizona: Smoked Black Jack Cheddar Brisket

The name of this burger made me hopeful. It sounded like your typical cardiac arrest burger with lots of cheesy, meaty goodness. It turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The smoked brisket was incredibly fatty and drowned out every other flavour in the burger. I couldn't taste the relish, cream cheese, onion rings or horseradish infused bun. It was just a big slab of meat with some other stuff stuck to it so it could be called a burger. I voted it a 2/10.

Charley Noble: Ebisu Burger

In defence of Charley Noble, who are a fantastic restaurant, I should point out that I am not a big seafood fan so this was always going to be a hard sell to get me to like it. The burger was a fish pattie with Japanese mayo and house chutney in a squid ink bun. It looked amazing as you can see from the picture but at the end of the day it still just tasted of fish. Because it looked so impressive I voted it a 5/10.

Goose Shack: Goose Slammer

Earlier in the month a friend and I had been at Beervana where we had tried a Goose Slider made by the guys at Goose Shack. I'm not entirely sure what was in it (apart from goose obviously) but it tasted amazing! With that in mind I was very eager to try the Goose Shack's burger; the Goose Slammer. The Slammer consisted of a goose patty, apple slaw, beer braised cabbage, bratwurst and cheese in a sweet potato bun. This was really a situation where less would have been more. The slider we tried at Beervana was simple with just a patty, some kind of chutney and some greens. The Slammer just had too much going on and it wasn't nearly as good as the Slider, all the flavours just got lost in one another leaving me a little empty after having such great hope. I still enjoyed it overall and gave it a 7/10.

The Tasting Room: Pimpin Shrimpin Beef

While I may have mentioned earlier that I am not really a seafood fan, the exception to that rule is shrimp. I absolutely love shrimp and prawns. So when I saw this one listed on the menu as a 'Beef Burger with Popcorn Shrimp' I got really excited. All I could think of was a Surf'n'Turf in a bun. The burger also incorporated smoked cheddar, chipotle BBQ sauce and a peanut slaw. While my picture may not do it much justice this burger was actually pretty damn awesome and I would absolutely have it again if I could. I voted it an 8/10.

The Hideaway: The Dirty South

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the Dirty South as the premises was too dark but I found this photo on-line of The Hideaway's Dirty Cheeseburger which is what I believe the Dirty South is based off. The Dirty South includes a beef patty with jalapeno cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce and deep-fried pickles in a brioche bun. Overall I was impressed with the Dirty South if somewhat disappointed in a lack of spice. With jalapeno cheese I was hoping for a bit of punch in it but there was no heat whatsoever. However the flavour was good, I loved the pickles, bacon is of course always a winning option in a burger and the brioche bun was beautifully soft and tasty. An awesome burger made by a restaurant that knows burgers. I voted it 8/10.

Cafe Polo: Crumbgetacluckinhotchikin

Crispy crumbed chipotle chicken breast - good! Mexican slaw - good! Smoked cheese and a milk bun - good! Homemade tortilla chips on the side - good, good, good! This burger was fantastic and as it was actually the first burger we tried it set the bar very high for others to follow. I absolutely loved it with my only mark off being because it was rather lacking in spice for a Mexican burger. My vote was an all kinds of awesome; 9/10.

Egmont St Eatery: Cheese, beets and meat

Now here is a chef who understands burgers! Hands down this was the best burger we tried and it's no surprise it won the whole competition. The burger was incredibly unpretentious with a beef patty, smoked beetroot relish, fried pickled onions and jack cheese in a steamed bun. The ingredients were limited but all were rich in flavour and none of them were overpowering any of the others. The bun was light and tasty and it came wrapped up in a cool little spill bag so nothing dripped over your hands. This was definitely the tastiest burger by a country mile, absolutely loved it! 10/10!

So there is my burger review for Burger Wellington. Sam and I both enjoyed the last three weeks of gorging ourselves on artery clogging protein and carbs but now it's probably time for me to put on my running shoes and start to burn off all the kilos I have accumulated. I hope you enjoyed the read and if you haven't had a good burger in the last month or so then get out there and find one! There are heaps of great burgers popping up in pubs, restaurants and cafes all around New Zealand as we ride this wave of gourmet burger revolution. There's bound to be a decent burger not far from you!