Sunday, 24 June 2012

Of the Living Dead and Full Scale War

Hello Readers

Today's post is going to be about two of my currents projects as a game designer.  While I love playing tabletop games I often find myself wondering "What would this be like" or "Wouldn't it be cool if..."  I have a lot of projects on the go, most of which will probably never see the light of day, but there are two projects which I think may have a bright future; "Zombies" and "Warzone".


Some of the local club members already have some fond memories of playing Zombies.  It is the first game I have made that people have actually played, which fills me with great joy, though I would like to get some more games in.  Zombies is designed to be an easy to learn, easy to play role playing game where the player, with as many allies as he wants, fights off wave after wave of zombies as they do their zombie thing.  The rules, in a nutshell, are that the players run around the board shooting zombies, picking up weapons and avoid being eaten alive.  At first this is fairly easy, but as you go through the game it gets harder and harder until, ultimately, everyone dies.  Yes, that is right, everyone will die.  It gets to a point that the zombies become so powerful that there is no hope for salvation and the last player snuffs it.  The point of this game then is not to survive, but to get a higher score than players before you.  I can see this game being good for groups of gamers, whether they be clubs, families or friends.  And it doesn't really matter how many players join in because while some things get easier with more people, some things get harder.  So far, we have found that four or five people is probably optimal, but we have still had some very interesting scores with just one or two.

As of the time of writing this blog, there is only one way to play Zombies, the "standard" game on a 2 feet by 2 feet board with a little bit of terrain (mainly for aesthetics, trust me, you don't want much terrain in a standard game).  While this is all fun and dandy, I am planning some "expansions" to the current rules, allowing players to play in a built up city, where every bullet counts, or in a campaign, where you have to achieve certain goals before moving onto the next map.  Overall though, the game works and I am happy for that.  Because of the way the game is set out, there is no need for character classes or anything else normally associated with an RPG.  It seems that each player has their own set of tactics anyway, making for varied games with different people, though I may at some stage introduce this.  The background to each game is really up to you.  You could be fighting waves of zombies  in central park, killing Micael Jackson thriller zombies in the dance studio or you could be destroying allies as they invade your home, whatever you want.


My other current project is, sorry....GIGANTIC.  If you thought your five thousand point Warhammer battle was big than you are about to be educated.  Warzone is a game of semi-futuristic battles on the lagest, or rather, smallest of scales.  To give those who don't know an idea; Warhammer is 1:28 scale, Flames of War is 1:100 scale (I think), a 6mm game (can't think of one right now) is about 1:130 scale and even the smallest scale naval battle games are 1:1000 scale, very tiny.  Warzone is on a different level, it is...wait for it...1:100,000 scale.  Yes that is right, every kilometres is represented by one centimetre on the board.  Let me tell you early on that this is not an easy game to play.  You MUST have gaming experience and a few brains before even reading the rules for this game.  It is certainly not going to be for everyone, but I think that those who play it will love it.

Warzone is an unconventional wargame in many ways.  Firstly the scale, 1:100,000.  Secondly, you might expect to find some sort of points system in a wargame, Warzone has almost completely abandoned the idea.  Thirdly, and most importantly, is the customisation on an unheard of scale.  Where in, say, 40k, you choose your codex and pick certain units to play with, in Warzone you design the codex.  Yes you heard me right, you get to design your own codex (essentially) and even change it half way through a battle.  This will eliminate the talk about which army is better.  For example, a conversation at a gaming club, might go like this:

Bob: It's not fair, you won because you are playing Necrons and they are so over powered
Bill: No, you are playing Space Wolves, they are cheesy.  I had to take this army to beat you.

and then the argument and debate continues.

The same situation in Warzone would be:

Bob: It's no fair, you won because you have better artillery.
Bill: Then why don't you use them then.  You can.

Warzone is about huge battles involving thousands of soldiers fighting over vast distances.  When making your Warzone army you have to decide on alot of things.  Firstly, you have to decide on what sort of society your troops come from; things like how rich the country is, how proud they are of their military, that sort of thing.  You then decide how you want to train your troops and in what.  You may want all of your soldiers to be able to drive a tank, or half of your army to be trained as a medic.  You get to decide how many soldiers are in each unit, company, regiment etc.  You then equip them with whatever weapons and equipment you want.  While they are on the battlefield, you have to think about your ability to supply them with ammunition, food and fuel.  The rules are such that you have to think about alot of things, but it is so far made that most of the thinking will be done before the battle.  The game itself is actually fairly simple, but the logistics side of it is where the complications begin.  You may want to play as part of a team with, say, one person controlling the army, another the navy, another the air force.

Warzone has been designed for realism, though some things have had to be skipped over.  For example, in Flames of War, the range of a field gun might be 2m, scaled to about 200m.  This is not at all realistic.  Not to criticise Battlefront at all, they have made a great game which I love playing, but Warzone is a different sort of game.  The range of artillery can be 10, 20, or even 30 kilometres. 

Everything matters in Warzone.  To explain what I mean by that, lets say you, with your 5000 point Imperial Guard army, made up of a Baneblade and only conscripts otherwise, have a battle.  You win, losing only the Baneblade.  Now the rules of the game say that you have won, but in "reality" the loss of a Baneblade would be catastrophic.  In Warzone, because you have to think of re-supply and replacing lost units, replacing a Baneblade would be a huge task and so, even if you route the opponent, they may have actually won the battle on a logistical level.

Ultimately, Warzone is a game for those of use who want to do alot of thinking.  Don't be daunted though by all this.  As I have said before, you do all that before the battle and if you do it well you only have to do it once.  When the next battle comes around you can easily say "I'll have three divisions of these, five companies of these and a battleship fleet," or whatever.  You have total control over the armed forces and I mean all of the armed forces; Army, Navy, Air force and even Space Fleet if you manage to get one.  Warzone is an all encompassing game where you can have as much fluff as you want and the rules allow you to reflect it fully.  Being at the scale it is, Warzone is not a game of miniatures, it is a game of skill, planning and tactics.

Well thank you for reading my blog today, I hope you enjoyed it.  If you want any further information on either of these games then please, don't hesitate to ask.

Join me next time when we talk about making your own scenario for Warhammer 40k.

See ya

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Cult of the Fifth Witch

Hello Readers

Today's topic will be a very fluffy one.  Today I will tell you about one of my current 40k projects, the Cult of the Fifth Witch.  I am not collecting an armyas such, I am getting a lot of models together and themeing them into a chaos cult.  At the local gaming club I hope I can use these models all together, but at a tournament I shall have to use them in each separate army.  So far the plan is to utilise parts of the Imperial Guard, Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons and Grey Knights Codexes.  I plan to write them all together in one 'codex', simply changing the titles of the special rules and such to give them a more thematic flavour.  And now, without further ado, the background story to the Cult of the Fifth Witch.


Planet: Hygex
Year: 751 M38

In some dark corner of an unknown Hive City on the planet Hygex lived Geralt Scipio, a scientist of great intellect but little renown.  He happened to stumble across a book in his studies one day that looked extremely old and was written with some strange writing on the front.  It was a mighty book, twenty centimetres thick, yet it weighed less than a kilogramme.  Scipio was, of course, interested in the contents of this book and try as he might, he was unable to open it.  After years of semi-focused study, he finally came to the discovery that this was a book of daemonic origins called "The Claws of Daemon Hands".  He guessed it must be of some great power and, rather than turning it over to the inquisition, thought that he may be able to use the power within to better his research.  Despite the book taking up more and more of his time, he was unable to discover it's secrets within hi lifetime, and so it passed to his trusted associate, Nearna Daela.  She was also very intelligent but could not open the book.

Planet: Hygex
Year: 818 M38

"The Claws of Daemon Hands" was yet to be opened, despite the efforts of Nearna Daela and her descendants, to which the book kept being passed down to.  It wasn't until a gifted child, Pirella Daela inherited the book that the power within became truly apparent.  Perhaps the book had chosen her, perhaps she happened to know how to open it, no one can be sure, but she certainly did open it.  Upon the opening of the book and the subsequent study of it, Pirella Daela gained great powers of the Chaos Gods and was a master at bending them to her will.  She called herself, the Fifth Witch, the unknown writer of the book being the first, Scipio being the second, her grandmother, Nearna Daela being the third, her mother Carlia Daela, being the forth.  As well as being smart, Pirella was very well organised and, despite not knowing very much about military matters, was able to write up 'rules' on how to build an army, based around the books teachings.  She wrote alot about "The Claws of Daemon Hands", partly translating it, partly simplifying it.

Using the powers she gained from the book, Pirella was able to call upon forces that were unknown to even some of the more powerful chaos worshippers in the galaxy and called upon daemons and the warp to slowly and painfully destroy Hygex in 819 M38, in effect, by herslef.

The Inquisition was, of course, organising Hygex's defence before it was destroyed.  They in fact caught Pirella Daela and killed her.  They destroyed Pirella's body, but realised that, despite it being an artifact of chaos, Pirella's notes, known later as the "Witches Cult" and  "The Claws of Daemon Hands", were invaluable pieces of writing for use against chaos itself.  The Inquisitors left on the last evacuation ship, just as the last Daemons took over the planet, and set course for a base on Sirelon.  Just as they were about to arrive on the planet, the ship was struck by a small asteroid, forcing the ship to crash on Sirelon, killing all the crew in a fiery explosion.  The only things that survived the crash was the "Witch Cult" and "The Claws of Daemon Hands".  An Imperial Guardsman, searching through the wreckage found them and sent them to his higher authorities.  It found it's way to General Forn Pale, a military genius but some didn't trust him, thinking he was tainted by chaos.  Whether he was or not, is really up for debate, but Pale certainly was after he came across the Pirella's belongings.  He used her notes and the knowledge he gained from "The Claws of Daemon Hands" to form the Cult of the Fifth Witch, named after Pirella Daela herself.


The Cult of the Fifth Witch is a very well organised chaos cult, as far as compared to others anyway, due to Pirella Daela's writings and Forn Pale's military experience.  Each member of the cult, a cultist, is a member of one or more sects.  There are no enforcements to be in a certain number of sects or be in any in particular.  The sects are rather varied, some a militaristic warband, other almost a type of book club of those interested in the ways of chaos.  Each sect ultimately takes care of it's own affairs, much like a small Space Marine chapter, though each sect is united under the doctrines laid down by Pirella Daela.

Currently, the leader of the Cult (known as the Overlord) is Verna Xenith, a powerful warrior and a wise scholar of sorts.  He oversees the four 'families' of the Cult, each led by a Baron.  These families are made up of like minded sects that have similar ways or designs for the powers of chaos.  The families are as follows; the Arm Family, made up of summoners and chaotic priests, the Eye Family, dedicated to learning about and spreading the influence of chaos, the Voice Family, who are powerful psykers, though not necessarily in tune with chaos, and the Claw Family, the militaristic members of the Cult.  Each family contains many sects, led by a Fanatic, each with their own thoughts on chaos, but all sharing the teachings in "The Claws of Daemon Hands" and the "Witch Cult".  Each Fanatic leads a 'pack' of cultists, varying in number usually between five and thirty. 

The Claw Family is the largest and most respected family in the Cult and the most strictly and well led.  Sometimes a Fanatic may gain such respect and power that when going into battle he leads other Fanatics like a general would lead Sergeants into battle.  They each have their own traditions and insignia, but all look similar to an opponent.

The Cult of the Fifth Witch is not an army, and probably never will be.  It is a group of heretics sharing the knowledge and power of chaos.  This means that, even when grouped together, they are not a huge force, though they are very powerful.  Typically, a member of the Cult is a warped and possessed fiendish being, or a daemon dragged from the warp, willingly or otherwise.  Many of the fallen hero's from the cult return to fight another day as lesser daemons or sometimes even daemon princes.  The Cult is a sneaky force, often striking hard and fast then vanishing into the shadows.

Under the direction of the Barons or the Fanatics, members of the Eye and particularly the Arm and Voice family join the Claw family in combat, lending their abilities or knowledge to a situation.  This makes the Cult a varied force, and hard to truly plan against.  The Cult has also spread to many planets, though each has few members residing there at one time.  It is perhaps better to think of the Cult as a group of prophets, drunk on power and high on knowledge, fuelled by greed and armed with chaos, allies of the dark gods themselves.

The Plan

Well that is my current project.  I don't really expect to win many battles, but it will be fun to collect.  I plan to do alot of converting with this army and utilise new and interesting paint schemes.  As you may have guessed, I love doing all this background stuff in Warhammer and I have always wanted to do a chaotic cult of some sort.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this post and I shall see you next time when I talk a bit about my current game design projects.

See you later

Sunday, 17 June 2012

My Story as a Gamer

Hello Readers

Today's post is going to be a little boring, no pictures or anything, but I feel I need to do it anyway.  Today I shall be talking about myself (who doesn't like doing that) as a gamer and where I am at the moment.  This at least will give you some idea as to where I am coming from in future articles.

My experience as a gamer started a long time ago, back in the days when the Lord of the Rings movies were coming out.  Though at the time I was not a fan of the story (I hadn't read it at least) I was interested in the whole fantasy genre thing.  I was over at a mates place, Beau, in 2003 where he showed me the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.  I was hooked and loved the fact that tactics made an impact.  I had been playing games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Chess for a long time before, but this was something different.  I remember that it felt real and I felt like I really cared about what happened to my guys.  We had a few small battles with Beau's quite large collection, though I realised later that we weren't quite playing it properly.  I went home that day with a new aim in life, to play this game and paint the miniatures.

It was a while before I got another game with my friend and it was a similar sort of day, though by now he had painted a few more miniatures.  I thought at the time that I would never be able to paint that well, or have the patience to even paint a whole army.  I was in Kingaroy (the closest town to where I was living at the time) when I stumbled across a shop that sold these gaming items.  They had a table set up with, if memory serves, a battle between Tyranids and Necrons half played.  It was an amazing sight and I was just so excited to play a game of this scale, which was a lot bigger than anything I had previously played.  Just thinking about that now, it was probably about a 1000 point game, though at the time this seemed like a huge force.  Lucky for me it was my 13th birthday coming up and for said day I got a box of Beastmen.  I was so happy and excited and I couldn't wait to paint them.  I bought some paint (some of which I still have and is still good) and painted them...furiously is probably the word.  To be honest, it was a pretty terrible paint job, I didn't even undercoat them.  I had no idea how to play Warhammer (I wasn't even aware at this stage that there was such a game, I thought that it was all played by the same rules at LotR) but it didn't matter to me, I had taken the first steps in a wider world.

I had another few games with Beau over the next couple of weeks where I added some High Elf Archers to my army.  We made up stats for my miniatures that reflected a similar unit in LotR.  I lost pretty easily, but I didn't care, I had never had so much fun.  I wasn't even aware of the points system and had I been I would have known that I had about 250points of miniatures while Beau had nearly 1000.  But as I said, it was fun and I didn't care.

It was at school that I had my next big experience with wargaming.  Beau had moved far away and apart from the sadness of losing a friend I now had no one to play with.  One day I was talking to some of the cool kids at school, not because I was their friend but because I thought I might be cool too.  Then some of them started talking about "Space Marines" and all these amazing things that they could do.  I asked one of the members, Marty, about what he was talking about.  He showed me the third edition Space Marine Codex and told me about the game.  This got me really excited again as I listened in on Marty and Dov's conversations about how certain hero's had done certain things and how such-and-such a model would take out some other model with ease.  Marty told me about the local gaming group and I simply HAD TO go along.

I stepped through the doors of the hall in Kingaroy not knowing quite what to expect.  I walked in and was amazed at the diversity and awesomeness of the armies on hand.  It was 2004, I was 14 and blown away.  I talked to some of the players there, recognising some of the people from school and realising that this was a really big thing.  I didn't know that so many people played wargames.  All around me were stories of the kind that had inspired me to go to the games night to begin with.  I talked to some of the players and showed off my miniatures, now made up of a unit of Empire Knights as well.  They were very polite and said that my paint job was pretty good.  One of the members, Brodie, asked me what colour i had used to undercoat with.  I answered that I didn't undercoat.  I even realised it then; all of the people who heard my say this looked around at each other as though I had committed some sort of terrible crime against humanity.  Despite not getting a battle I still had a good night though and left with high spirits.

It was a while before I went to the games nights again, in which time I had gathered together a 600 point army of Chaos Warriors, all heavily upgraded and built to survive, though they didn't.  I played against Dave alot, the person who ran those games days back then, and always lost against his Skaven.  I was slowly getting the idea of the rules though tactics were yet to cross my mind.  Looking back on those first few years of gaming I hadn't really grasped the hobby in it's entirety and was yet to fully understand how to play.  I had only just bought 5th edition Warhammer rulebook when 6th edition came out.  I gathered alot of Chaos Warriors together and lost all the time.  I think it was probably two years before I ever won a game.  This fact became more and more frustrating.  I was enjoying the game but a win occasionally would be nice.  I had about 3000 points of Chaos Warrior when I decided that they weren't for me and swapped to High Elves, who, perfect to form, got a new army book just as I got into them.  This started the long tradition of me starting an army and then they getting a new Codex or Army Book shortly afterwards.

Wargaming continued to be a big part of my life, though not a very successful one I must admit.  Over the years these are the armies I have played; Warriors of Chaos, High Elves, Tomb Kings, Space Marines, Space Marines, Eldar, Tyranids, Space Marines and then onto my current project of army building which I shall detail in the next blog.  I took a year off from Warhammer in 2009 I think to have a break from losing perhaps.  Coming back from this year was a good feeling, though to be honest I felt a little like I was starting again.

At the time there were two gamers groups in Kingaroy; the Games Day, held every Friday night, and the Veterans, held every second Sunday.  I was a part of the veterans, who felt to me and probably many of the others like the 'real gamers'.  This is a silly idea really but the politics back then were, lets just say, interesting.  I won't go into detail with them just in case someone gets offended.  When I got back into Warhammer I started playing with Tyranids, an Army that just suited me.  It entailed everything that I believed in and was just the right army for me.  I was now living out of home and so could spread my nerdness all over the place, which made me very happy and allowed for games whenever I wanted.  I was now a 40K player, and there was no way that I was getting back into Warhammer, I just didn't like the rules at all.

Then, in 2010, I saw a Youtube video on the Beasts of War channel about a different game called Flames of War, who had just released a set called 'Open Fire'.  This game intrigued me and after looking into it I purchased one with my housemate, Marty.  He played the Germans and I played the Americans.  This was something new, a different way of playing that just made sense to me.  I loved it, I loved it so much in fact that I gave up 40k and sold all my Tyranids on eBay, though I was sad to see them go.  It was a fully painted, 1250 point army of over one hundred models, painted green on top and brown on the bottom (let me know if you currently have them, just out of interest).  They were not painted very well, by my standards at the time, but it was a fully painted army, one of the few in Kingaroy at the time.

I started playing flames of war with Marty and loved it so very much, though as Marty moved away I had no one to play with until I convinced some people to get into it only just recently.  Even now I don't often get a game of Flames of War, so I am getting back into 40k, now that I have money to support my habits.

So here we are, the present day.  My apologies for going on for so long but we are nearly at the end.  I am now playing Flames of War as a British Infantry Company and am just starting to build up a 40k army, which I shall detail in the next blog.  My journey through wargaming has got me many friends who I respect very much and cherish their company.  It is a fun hobby, no matter if you are a painter, a player or just a collector.  I am now part of a fully amalgamated group called Kingaroy Wargamers with a wide variety of people and a few different types of games being played.  I have enjoyed wargaming for nine years now and weather I enjoy it for the next nine or ninety-nine, it will be time well spent.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Daemon Prince Rises

Hello Readers

Below is some pictures of my recently completed Daemon Prince for my upcoming (one day) Chaos Cult Army.  I will be talking about this army in a later post but for now I shall focus on this beastie.

I have not got a name for him yet, but basically he is one of the more highly respected members of the Cult of the Fifth Witch (the name of the Chaos Army I am working on).  He has been pulled from the warp against his will and is pretty annoyed about that.

To paint him I simply started with a black undercoat everywhere and then buitl up his skin to make a sort of  'cracked lava' effect.  I started with Red than drybrushed orange then yellow over the top.  I picked out the raised lewvels in black, leaving the cracks where the muscles join showing up brightly.  I then drybrushed dark grey over the top to pick up any details.

The armour was straight forward enough.  I tried to have a similar but more contained effect going on with the armour and so only used the red paint in the armour gaps.  I then painted a dark purple over that.  The chaotic icons were simply painted gold and the metal parts on the skin and such drybrushed with a metal paint.  After all that was done, the entire model was drybrushed in a light grey to give it a fine ash look.  I think this worked well and will do a similar thing on later models.

I used one tecnique here that I havn't used for some time.  When I drybrushed the greys over the other colours, I was not at all careful to avoid getting any in the receces.  This achieved an effect that I think works a little better on skin but worked well enough here; that the surface looks slightly see through, a little more three dimensional.  This was a little frustrating at times as I did make a few mistakes along the way and had to go back to do touchups.  I am happy with the end result though.

I tried something else for the first time that I suppose many people have done before me; I tried fully painting the parts of the model before I put them together.  This may seem like the obvious way to do it to some people, but this is new for me and I did find it a little hard to match the colours up just right.  I found that as I kept going, I developed a heavier drybrush, and so the models skin became lighter as I went, he started to look like Frankensteins monster there for a while, but I fixed that up easy enough when the model was glued together.

Something else that I will try with at least this current army is how I did the base.  I used a piece of pumice stone for the large rock he is standing on (which I shall have to do a seperate article on one day, it is worth it) and used a sand i got from the local pet store for keeping lizards.  Apart from the pumice, the base is not painted at all.  I think it looks alright, but feel free to tell me otherwise.

Well ultimatley, all is well that ends well.  So I am pretty happy with this model and am looking forward to giving this guy something to command.

From Antman

First Post

Hello Readers

As this is my first blog I am just going to be brief and detail what you can expect from upocmoing blogs.  This will be a blog for tabletop gamers, about tabletop games, with tabletop games.  It will feature as much stuff as I can get into it including reviews, posts of my or other peoples work, news and articles about games, systems and projects.  This will be a little bit mish-mash, but hopefully you will enjoy it anyway.

Thanks for reading this and I will get the fdirst real post up shortly.