Sunday, 24 April 2016

Bloggings for the week...includes Lego!

It's been a busy week with a bit of painting, a bit of gluing and a bit of gaming. I managed to get in my first game of 40k in a long, long time and in preparation for that I got the basics of my Mechanicus models glued together. I played Bryn who is also putting together a new army though he's much further progressed than I am. I snapped a couple of shots of the game but the light wasn't great so the images are a bit grainy.

The game did not go well for me as I learned the pain of facing down three Heavy Bolters on Attack Bikes with my Skitarii out in the open. Certainly the game was a lesson in target priority and what kind of firepower my army is currently lacking. Below is a shot of my Vanguard making their heroic last stand as Bryn's Attack Bikes gunned down the last of my army.

The game was a lot of fun despite the one-sidedness to it. Losses tend to help you figure out where your weaknesses are and where you can improve, so it's safe to say I figure out A LOT from this game.

In other news this happened over the weekend:

A mate of mine suggested we go check it out and of course being a big fan of Lego there was no question of whether or not we should go.

It was a pretty small display compared with the Christchurch Brick Shows I've been to previously and they were mostly stock standard out-of-the-box kits rather than unique displays. But they did have a few of my favourite models on show which I snapped some photos of:

Lastly I thought I would mention that I have signed myself up for Maelstrom 9 on 11th and 12th June as a way to focus myself on getting back into Warhammer 40,000. Maelstrom is a 40k event run by Hagen who I used to game with many years ago when we both lived in Christchurch. Hagen has kindly offered to lend me an army (as there's no way I'll get my models painted in time) so I'm going to pick the army up this week and start getting some more games in as practice. Expect to see a few more posts about 40k over the next month and a half as I try to get my head back into the game after an extremely long hiatus.

So that's my update for another week. As a closing note just remember that the age range on Lego boxes say 4-99, so as long as you're not 100 years or older you're never too old to play with Lego!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Book Review - Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarius

Life has been busy as always so it's been a while since my last post. I have managed to pick my way through another book in between everything that's been going on so I thought I might put up a quick review.

I've started gluing together my Adeptus Mechanicus models so to keep me motivated on this path I thought I'd start reading the Mechanicus hardbacks I bought when the models were released back in early 2015. First up was the Skitarius novel...

Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarius - Rob Sanders

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, my worst fear was that it would be half written in binary, my greatest hope was that it would inspire me with great ideas and imagery of the Mechanicus for building my new army. At the end of the book I have to say it is more the later than the former.

Skitarius follows the journey of Alpha Primus Haldron-44 Stroika and his Skitarius army in besieging a Dark Mechanicus forge world. The development of characters takes an interesting path in this book. Most of the time Stroika is battling to repress his emotions in favour of the cold, calculated logic favoured in the ranks of the Mechanicus. Once Stroika and his peers are thrown into combat their Mechanicus Lords decide to take control using hard wiring linked directly to their minds. This removes free thought from the Skitarii making them automatons to their overlords. The result is that they become completely void of human fears but also lose the adaptability that comes from creative thinking. The storyline follows the tried and true path of; set the scene/central battle sequence/climactic finish. There are a few interesting turns along the way but nothing so immensely shocking to make you say WHAT THE FORK!?! I think George R.R Martin has inured most of us to dramatic plot twists these days anyway.

All up I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It gave an interesting view of the army of the Mechanicus showing a good balance between the human side and that of the machine. The Priests of the Mechanicus were a bit under-represented, but the book is deliberately set up so that this can be explored in the sequel; Adeptus Mechanicus: Tech-Priest. Guess what's next on the reading list...

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Natcon 2016 done and dusted!

I’m back from a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining Natcon, and with a top 3 placing to boot! I’m struggling a little with the after effects of too many late nights with friends drinking too many beers but it was definitely worth it, and I look forward to the next event I can attend once I’ve had a little time to recover.

The weekend started at 5am Thursday morning as my alarm told me it was time to get myself showered and out the door to the airport. Unfortunately I had a few emergencies come up at work that week which led to some long days in the office and not much painting time. So not for the first time I was taking an army down that wasn’t fully painted. However I am glad that due to much better planning the models were painted enough that I didn’t have to pull an all-nighter to get them up to a minimum level. Below is the army I took:

-          - Hachiman Class Dreadnought with 2 Kitsune Escorts
-          - Tenkei Sky Fortress
-          - Ika Mechanical Squid
-          - 3 Nakatsu Light Cruisers
-          - 3 Inari Scout Gyros
-          - 4 Uwatsu Frigates
-          - 4 Uwatsu Frigates

About a month prior to the event I had forked out for a new KR multi-case to pack everything into so I could cart the army easily onto the plane as carry-on baggage and I am really happy about how this worked out. I can fit all of my current models into one box with some room for future purchases. I even found a way to store the fiddly little turrets for the Dreadnought and Battleships in between the layers of pick and pluck foam. If you've never heard of KR then check them out, they really are a great product.

So once on the plane and in the air we caught some typical Wellington turbulence and began bouncing our way South to Dunedin. I was worried at first that with so much turbulence they would never get a chance to serve out the coffee, but thankfully the pilots managed to find some clear air towards the second half of the journey and I got some caffeine into my system to help clear out some of the cobwebs.

At Dunedin I stepped off the plane to the fragrant aroma of sodden mud and cow shit. For those of you not familiar with Dunedin airport it is quite far out of town in the countryside and is surrounded by dairy farms. That also means it’s quite a long walk into town so thankfully an old Scarfie friend was coming to pick me up.

Seeing as gaming wasn’t starting till the following day we went for a wander around town to see what had changed since our student days. It’s certainly not the same town I remember from over a decade ago but there were still a few of the old pubs and takeaway joints around that we used to frequent. We stopped in at the Flying Squid for lunch as it used to be a regular during our Friday night gaming meets, and then went to a friend’s house for a few beers. I couldn’t help but visit some geek shops along the way and pick up some cool new toys, otherwise known as worthless landfill to non-geeks.

After a late night of drinking we rose Friday morning for our first day of gaming. I’ve not played Dystopian in a long time and only managed two practice games leading up to the tournament so I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Thankfully I had Ian for my first game who is not only a good friend from days of Dunedin gaming past, but also a really good sport and a very patient teacher. He helped me get my head around the rules and offered me some really helpful advice on how to use my army.

Game 1 - Ian - Italian Federation

Ian brought his Italian fleet which, as far as I can tell, is heavy on Shield Generators, Engineers and boarding boats. He did a great job of positioning his tiny fliers and I learned a lot about threat ranges of fighters and bombers. He set up well and I set up poorly deploying my Dreadnought off to the far left leaving him out of most of the game but in the end my flyers and frigates came through for me and I managed to slightly get ahead on points.

One thing that really stood out in our game was the new Critical Effects and Damage tokens made by Spartan Games. Ian had a set of each which he was using and they really do make the game more dynamic with lots of little explosion effects and fires next to the models.

Game 3 - Alex - Republique of France

The more perceptive of you will notice that I went straight from game 1 to game 3. This is because we had an odd number of players for Dystopian Wars at Natcon so there was a bye each round. Given my general tiredness from a busy work week leading up to the tournament, and the increased tiredness I expected to endure while trying to get my head around the rules of the game, I had volunteered to take the bye for game 2. So after a long and leisurely lunch break Alex and I squared up for round 3!

This game was definitely an eye opener for me. Having never played the French I was bombasted with a string of crazy special rules which quickly caught me off guard. In all honesty I still have no idea how these guys play, all I remember is that they land A LOT of Critical Effects on you. Anyway Alex and I spent the best part of three hours pummelling the crap out of each other until the umpire called time and we added up the points. In the end I scraped through with a bit more damage inflicted than Alex and so came out with another lucky win, however with the amount of damage Alex had done to my big ships it could quite easily have gone the other way if we played another turn.

Evening shenanigans

Well two wins is surely worth a bit of celebration, and how do geeks celebrate? With card games! I had brought a copy of Blood Bowl Team Manager with me so we set it up and I tried to teach my fellow geeks the rules over a few beers. In all honesty I've only played this game a handful of times so I really don't have a firm grip on the rules myself but with some more beer we managed to cobble a game or two together.

As you can probably tell from the picture above I did not get any candid shots of the game in progress. This was because I was far too drunk. Long story short though the night went well, even though I didn't win a game, and after a cold wait for a cab ride back to our accommodation we got a little shut eye before the following day's gaming.

Game 4 - David - Empire of the Blazing Sun

After a couple of lucky wins my first game on Saturday was against the guy who eventually finished 2nd overall. Needless to say he kinda knows what he's doing. We coasted into the middle and focused a lot of our fire on each other's bigger boats. Unfortunately I didn't do a whole lot of damage while David managed to sink my Dreadnought amongst a number of other ships. I did manage to finally get my Mechanical Squid to jump up out of the water and bite a ship for the first time in the tournament but it was too little too late. Off to the loser's corner for me.

Game 5 - Ryan - Covenant of Antarctica

Ryan and I ended up on the second table for the last game so somehow I was playing off for 3rd and 4th. I'd not played against Antarctic in a very long time so had very little idea of what the army could do. The only thing that came to mind is that Antarctica are the tricksiest of factions, so I was expecting surprises.

I certainly got a few; crazy evil flyers who can jump back and hide out of range after shooting, giant eyeball boats with big evil guns that don't lose any strength over range, regenerating fighter planes who pop back up every time I shoot them down, the Antarcticans certainly have their sneaky tactics.

The game progressed with me getting increasingly more frustrated with the tricksey Antarcticans as they dodged and hid and knocked my rockets out of the sky with their excessive amounts of shields. In the last turn or two I had turned a lot of focus onto Ryans bigger boats just to get some points on the board while he continued to whittle my fleet down to sweet bugger all. It was looking pretty glum as Ryan was well ahead on points from taking out my smaller and medium craft while I had just damaged his larger boats. We did the maths and figured out that if I could sink his battleship I might be able to pull off a win, so for the last turn I lined up Ryan's wounded battleship with my Dreadnought and rolled the dice...

...and missed...but only with the first turret, the second turret finished him off and I managed to win the game.

So the last game was intensely close and a great way to finish off the tournament. With the game 5 win I managed to reach third overall which was a pleasant and very unexpected surprise. Honestly though the whole tournament was fantastic in that it was well run by tournament organiser Phil and all the people I played were good sports and very understanding of my unfamiliarity with the rules.

After the prize giving we were all done with tournament gaming for the weekend so we picked up some takeaways and went round to a friends place for some after gaming beersies and some more Blood Bowl Team Manager.

Baltika (otherwise known as Balltickler) 1 Litre Cans.

My BFF; Lily.

The final day spent in Dunedin was a relaxing 8 hours of wandering round the event checking out the other games being played. I learned about the Game of Thrones card game, I watched a couple of games of Kings of War, I caught up on a Warmachine game and I spent a lot of time trying to hold myself back from buying anything on the 'bring and buy' table. God knows I don't need more plastic crack to fill up my shelves.

I managed to pick up a Jimmy's Mince and Cheese pie for lunch. If you've never heard of Jimmy's Pies they are a bit of an Otago institution. They're made in the sleepy Central Otago town of Roxburgh and shipped all around Otago and South Canterbury. They're solid working man's pies, none of this gourmet crap, and the Mince and Cheese is a delicious, stodgy, pastry encased piece of amazing!

Then at 4:30pm I boarded an airport shuttle with two others for the flight home. We arrived at the cow shit airport where we waited for about an hour to board our plane and had a little bit of time to reflect on a great weekend down South. We were all thoroughly exhausted from the late nights and excessive drinking so the flight home was a welcome opportunity to catch up on some sleep. When I got to Wellington Sam and Van (our dog) were waiting for me. Once I actually walked through the front door of our house I got possibly the best surprise of the whole weekend!

The Easter Bunny knows me so well...

Well that's another week's post. It's been a long one to put together and I imagine a long read so I'll take a bit of a rest from the blog for now and get something more posted by next weekend. Until then if you've got nothing better to do give Balltickler a try, it's a great beer...kinda...