Sunday, 29 January 2017

Return of Reckoning

In 2008 I was over the moon at the highly anticipated release of the MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I have played MMORPGs since about 2000 and really enjoy the long term development play style they promote, the opportunity to also play as a character from the tabletop world in which I spent so much of my spare time was just the icing on the cake. From a sentimental point of view this is where Warhammer Online was so special to me. Despite all the various bugs and issues with the game that annoyed the crap out of hard core MMO gamers I always loved the game simply for the fact that it allowed me to play my painted models in a digital RPG format.


As the saying goes however; 'all good things must come to an end'. And as such in 2012 Mythic Entertainment and Games Workshop, the game developer and the owner of the IP respectively, announced that they were parting ways. This sadly meant the end of Warhammer On-line and all servers were shut down.

By this time I was rarely playing Warhammer On-line so it wasn't such a terrible loss. I still enjoyed dropping into the game from time to time but if I were to add up the time I spent in-game it would have been less than an hour per month. Once in a while though I still get nostalgic about the game and find myself looking up screenshots for painting references or scenery references.

I happened to be doing just this a couple of months ago when I stumbled across a Youtube clip of a tutorial on how to develop a new character in the game. On closer inspection the date on the video was from 2015, well after the closure of the game. This of course intrigued me and eventually as I crawled further down that rabbit hole I arrived at this website:

So Warhammer Online is back! From what I've read it appears that a dedicated group of enthusiasts have set up a private server in France and are attempting to improve the various bugs and balance issues in the game that Mythic never had the time or money to resolve. As such it's currently listed as being in Alpha testing but the game plays pretty much the same as it did before it shut down.

It's probably no surprise when I say this game has taken up a lot of my time recently, probably more than it should have, but when I get all nostalgic about something like this I can get a bit carried away. If you've never played Warhammer On-Line and have wondered what it's about then here's a brief run down of what I've done in game so far:

Like any MMORPG your first port of call is the character selection. This is also the first point at which Warhammer On-Line differs from other MMORPGs. You pick first from 6 different races; 3 for the Realm of Order (Dwarf, Human, High Elf) and 3 for the Realm of Destruction (Greenskin, Chaos, Dark Elf). Once you have picked a race then you pick a class, however, each race has 4 different classes that all function in their own way. They fit loosely into the categories of Tank, Healer, Ranged DPS and Melee DPS but no two work the same. They all have their own unique skills and spells and their own ways of generating them in game. Being that I was a Dwarf player in the tabletop game I not-so-surprisingly went with a Dwarf character and I picked an Ironbreaker as my class. I've always loved the dead-hard look of Dwarf Gromril armour and hence was looking forward to seeing my character decked out as such. Apparently though that armour must be earned because this is what my Ironbreaker looked like to begin with:


Once you're in game you begin your journey, like most MMORPGs, by completing quests for people. In Warhammer On-Line you will find people all over the world offering you quests mostly standing in warcamps, villages or just hanging out by a road.


The quests require you to do a variety of tasks such as visiting parts of the world, finding strange objects, locating people and of course killing stuff. Once your quest is completed you visit the right person (not always the person who gave you the quest) and receive your reward!


One of the things I love most about Warhammer On-Line is the amazing scenery. It's a little comicy in appearance (this game is almost a decade old) but it reminds me so much of the art from all the Warhammer Fantasy books I've read.

Hanging out in the wheat fields.

Imperial village.

I got a horse!

Horsing around in a pub...get it...ok I know that's bad.

Some Chaos Hellcannons.

Wandering around the map you can also stumble into characters from the Warhammer Fantasy world.

Bugman.

Gotrek and Felix.

Apart from the sentimental aspect of this that might appeal to tabletop gamers like me there's not much difference in the questing from a regular MMORPG. The biggest change between Warhammer On-Line and other MMORPGs is the Realm vs Realm fighting. Once you choose a Realm; Order or Destruction, your interaction with others on-line is limited to your own Realm. The only time you'll meet up with people playing for the opposite Realm is in the various Realm vs Realm instances. And the only reason you'll meet up with the opposite Realm is to beat the snot out of each other. Player vs. player combat is a huge part of this game and it's initiated in interesting and unique ways. There are parts of the map dedicated to Realm vs. Realm fighting where you can join up into warbands and fight over strategic locations, there are scenarios you can enter where you are required to complete certain tasks while fighting the enemy in order to score points for your Realm, there are even castles you can besiege and claim for your Realm, or alternatively you can defend if it's your castle that has been besieged.

Capturing a port in Nordland Realm vs. Realm. I've picked up some better equipment by now.

Laying siege to my first keep. A Dark Elf one I believe.

All in all I've found it to be one of the most unique MMORPGs I've played and the sentimental attachment to the IP just makes it so much better. Be warned though, if you're considering giving it a go it's not without it's problems. The biggest complaint tends to be around the imbalance in Realm vs. Realm. Winning locations or capturing castles can depend a lot on which Realm has the most people on-line at any given time. For people looking for a constant even balance this leaves a lot to be desired and leads to them raging a lot on the forums. I've never had much of a problem with it, even when you're outnumbered you can still win fights, you just need to be a bit more strategic. It's likely you'll lose the war but you can pick up plenty of experience in winning the battles you do choose. Alternatively if there's just no way to win you can just go questing outside of the Realm vs. Realm zones until more people log on.

To me though, this game has always been primarily about the scenery and the interaction with characters and monsters I am familiar with through my wargaming. I'm really enjoying being able to immerse myself in the Warhammer world again. Ever since GW decided to wipe the slate clean with Age of Sigmar I've felt a little sad about the lack of support for what was an incredible world they created. I spent so much of my teenage years absorbing myself in this fiction; painting models, playing games and reading books, that it's become a part of my life in a sense. So it certainly makes me grateful that there are such amazing people out there with a similar love for this world that they will put in the time to keep games like Warhammer On-Line alive just so that people like me can reminisce for a time.

Thanks again for reading and do drop in again later for more posts. It's difficult to find time these days but I'm getting posts up on a semi-regular basis. As a closing shot I'll leave you with a screenshot of my character at level 26. Slowly but surely I am getting closer to that full suit of Gromril armour...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Tale of One Gamer

I'm well overdue for an update on this. I've been working through models over the Christmas holidays but visits to relatives and then digging through the Christmas backlog once I returned to work has meant I have not got around to posting until now.

I have completed the Assassins much to my delight. I'm not 100% happy with the paint job but I'm looking forward to using them all in game. Here are the finished models.


The contrast of the bright green and the metallics against the darker colours has worked out as well as I hoped, it's the red hue on their bodysuits I'm not stoked about. I struggled with this for some time trying three different techniques but just couldn't get it to match the image in my mind. I envisioned an almost black suit with red highlights along the edge where the light hits it but everything I tried came out too bright. In order to dull it all down I tried a light drybrushing and glazing it with the GW Gloss wash but even a light drybrush on black stands out like nobody's business. I think given more time I could maybe reach what I was hoping to achieve but this project is about getting an army finished so in the end I just had to pick something and run with it.

With the Assassins behind me that brings me to month 5 and the last unit for this project. According to the original plan I get to pick something of my choosing and as such I have decided to put together some much needed anti-Marine firepower in the form of a unit of Kataphron Destroyers.


So far I've got all the prepping and sub-assemblies done and am finishing off the metals. With the time I lost over Christmas it's going to be a close call to get these finished in time, I'm just hoping that with all the metal on them the paint job will be relatively easy. Time will tell I suppose.

Thanks for stopping in, more posts soon as I sort through all my photos and updates from over the holidays.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Fergburger Experience


It's kind of strange when I think about it that after living in Dunedin for 5 years and making many trips into Queenstown for ice hockey tournaments I never once tried Fergburger.

If you're not sure what Fergburger is check out their website (it's interactive!...kinda...) and have a read through the history. If you just want the short story they are a burger joint in Queenstown that started out as a hole in the wall business down some back alley who have now grown into a Queenstown icon. Fergburger is one of the activities that all tourists 'must do' when in Queenstown. As such the burger joint has gained a bit of a cult status, so much so that there is a constant queue for their burgers from about 9 in the morning till late in the evening every single day.

During our Christmas holidays we were down in Glenorchy (45 mins drive from Queenstown) to visit family so I figured I would take the opportunity to finally tick Fergburger off my list of burgers I've tried.

We ended up getting into town around lunchtime which is the absolute worst time to go to Fergburger as it's the busiest time. Because of that the wait in the line was 45 minutes alone just to place my order. It didn't bother me too much as Sam was doing some clothes shopping so waiting in line was much more preferable to waiting in clothing stores for Sam to try things on. Once my order was placed it was another 25 minutes wait for the burger to be cooked making the entire wait time 1 hour and 10 minutes.


Ferg is about two shops down from the white Gelato sign you can see in the distance.


This is Fergburger from about 9am to 6pm.

So after such a long wait what was the burger like?


I ordered the Southern Swine which was a beef burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, aioli and tomato relish. The buns are cooked in their own bakery right next door and all the other ingredients are very fresh. I guess that's one of the benefits of having such a long queue is that you know the turnover of stock is going to be pretty quick and hence anything used will be fresh.

Overall the burger was really good. The patty was cooked well-done, the bacon was shoulder bacon and cooked perfectly, the bun was a little hard on the crust but soft and fresh in the middle, the Aioli was creamy though felt a little lacking in flavour, and the relish was nice though also a little weak in flavour. One thing I should point out though is that Fergburgers are BIG and really cheap by NZ burger standards. The Southern Swine cost me $12.50 which is about on par with, even slighty cheaper than, the likes of Burger Wisconsin, Burgerfuel or Velvet Burger. The difference is that Fergburgers are noticeably bigger.

So after such a long wait was this burger worth it? Well yes and no is my answer. I'm very glad I ticked off that box and I enjoyed my burger immensely. I think there could be some improvements made such as cooking the burger medium rather than well done, and improving the flavour in the aioli and relish. But when all is said and done I would happily buy another Fergburger...if I didn't have to wait over an hour. This is the deal-breaker here, while I was happy to wait just to try it out there is no way I would wait that long again just for a Fergburger. There are way too many other good lunch options in Queenstown including other burgers that it's not justifiable in my view to wait that long for a burger. Don't get me wrong, it's a good burger and good value for money, but it's not the best burger I have ever tasted.

In short, if you've never tried Fergburger before and are in the neighbourhood then give it a go. You won't be disappointed. If you've already had it before and you're pretty hungry then try something else and come back to Fergburger around midnight when the lines are shorter.

Friday, 13 January 2017

New Year, new me...


Well not really, it's now the 13th and this is the first post I've managed to find time for so trends seem to be merrily carrying on as if nothing has changed. And nothing really has, life continues to be busy and finding time to fit everything in continues to be difficult. That being said I have actually got drafts down for two blog posts so I have managed to find some time for blogging.

For this post though I just wanted to firstly wish everyone a Happy New Year! And secondly I just wanted to reminisce a little on the past year and set some goals for 2017.

Gaming

When I look back at what I achieved with gaming over the past year it all seems very muddled. I played a lot of different games and didn't really progress with my painting much at all. I made a much stronger effort towards the later half of the year with the Tale of One Gamer posts (more to come on this later in the month) but for 2017 I'd like a stronger focus on completion of some painting projects. To me this means limiting the games I am playing so that I can focus on only a select few game systems. This will be based around the tournaments I am attending throughout the year so I'll get these finalised in the next month or so and set some painting goals around that.

Burgers

I'm really sad about how little I've posted about my burger obsession last year. I actually tried a lot more burgers than I posted and some of them were incredible (others not so much), but by the time I got round to writing a post I couldn't remember anything about how they tasted other than the fact they were awesome (or terrible). Having learned a bit from this I actually started writing some tasting notes for burgers I tried over Christmas and this has helped a lot. This in addition to receiving a couple of burger cookbooks over the Christmas/New Year holiday means that hopefully burger posts will be a little more common in 2017.

Other Important Stuff

I've played around with book reviews, video game reviews, art exhibit reviews and anything related to Lego throughout the year. Some I feel have worked and some haven't. I'm not really sure what I want to specifically include and exclude in blog posts next year but I generally feel if it's not geek related I want to leave it out. We'll see what happens and try to learn further as 2017 progresses.

This year is set to be another crazy year for Sam and I and I'm a little worried about how this will affect my ability to post regularly. We'll see how things go but over the next month I have a number of photos and draft posts that need to be finished in relation to:

- Tale of One Gamer
- Warhammer On-Line
- Fergburger
- Blood Bowl
- Miscellaneous Dystopian and 40k photos

Anyway, in the meantime I need to get off to bed as we're off again on a trip tomorrow. This time up to Auckland for the weekend to check out an exhibit by Gottfried Lindauer. After we get back I hope to have some time to settle back in to some kind of regularity.

In the mean time thanks again for stopping in and all the best for the New Year. I'll get more posting done in a week or so.