Sunday, 26 June 2011

40k 6th Edition Rumors: What do they mean?

The 40k blogosphere is vibrating from the recent rumor mill output. Warhammer 40,000's 6th Edition is rumored to be a massive step away from the streamlined principles we came to know in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I'm therefore interrupting the scheduled Shawn Abreu Treasury program this week to share some thoughts on the rumors while they are still fresh.

The overall tone of the rumors suggests a far more complicated tabletop game. Being able to control your units beyond the move/shoot/assault basics is a HUGE leap toward realism. Maneuvering will actually mean something now with units switching between flying and non-flying states and passive actions such as overwatch negating enemy advantages. 

From a design perspective this is incredibly challenging. How can you playtest and ensure balance across millions of possible interactions without resorting to global beta testing? Software-borne games have veteran Quality Assurance teams working around the clock and they've only recently managed to keep players from escaping the map in multiplayer. That's with real-time "invisible" updates available to them through the internet too. 

It's great to have choices and to feel that those choices reflect what you might expect real combatants to do or feel at any given time. Yes, a flying rocket-powered motorcycle should be more difficult to hit than a Monolith. Yes, there are battles taking place apart from the one in the immediate area that affect the arrival of fresh troops. 

But have you ever played one of those games against someone who is constantly second-guessing themselves? Have you ever had a seemingly straightforward player turn degenerate into a 40 minute movement phase that sees a paranoid Ork player agonize over the placement of every Boy? 

What if we doubled the phases in each turn as the rumors suggest? Add variables that require the full spectrum of characteristic tests and odds of success or failure that goes beyond the simple computations that one can make on the spur of the moment. Simple possibilities of being pinned spiral out of control with new modifiers to shooting, cover, wound allocating, possibly characteristic tests and tiered leadership tests. 

Certainly knowledge of the rules - both codex and main rulebook - would have to be impeccable (they seldom are even "good" in my opinion) and the game would be virtually off-limits to those players that don't roll dice often enough  to get a feel for complex probabilities. The tiniest diversions from the main book (house rules) would widen into gaps that two players playing a pick-up game will never be able to solve.

I am comfortable with a ruleset that strains even the best players to their limits whilst providing a cinematic tabletop experience. Such things as mainstream flyers and implacable tanks speak to the wargamer in me - I want the tabletop  to feel like an Abnett novel. Stratagems even give me a way to respond to the army across from in a meaningful way before the fight begins - just like a real army!

Sadly I just can't see how these rumors could be true. There's virtually no hope of selling such a franchise to the casual gaming market or even the short-attention-span/short-tempered "core" gamer screaming obscenities into his XBL microphone. With so much choice the average game length would stretch far beyond the capabilities of the one-game-a-month player. 

We've been asking for more complex rulesets for a while now. It really has felt as if most of GW's recent rules attempts have been aimed squarely at 15 year old boys to the exclusion of even the 20 year tabletop veteran. But this rumor post is just unlikely. It's difficult for change on this scale to be made successfully to begin with. Large scale change with a view toward realism is a recipe for disaster. 


Round One: Fight!...

...Or not.

Because of a long-standing hatred of Dark Eldar, my aforementioned opponent, who used Grey Knights rather than normal Marines, fought against my Guard instead. And I was thrashed. His list was essentially:

Grand Master
5 Termies
10 Termies
10 Purifiers
Storm Raven
Psybolts on everything...

Mine was my usual Guard fare: Yarrick, CCS, 4 Vet squads, one in a Valk, one in a Chimmy, two Sentinels, 20 Ratlings, Marbo, a Russ and some allied ISTs in a Rhino.

The entire army was essentially tabled after Turn 3 after my failure to realise his Puries were in the 'Raven and his big Termie squad having Scouts lost me my Ratlings on Turn 1. After this he essentially closed in on my castle and mopped everything up gradually, with two of my three Demo Charges being worthless and Marbo's being too little, too late. How can 28 models be so damn good? At least with DE I might have been able to fight back! And the Dreadknight with personal teleporter...feth, I needed poison then, but all my Ratlings died in one swoop...

It's safe to say that I didn't really enjoy that much. So next time it's out with the rusty Guard, and back in with the Kabalites so I can fight properly again.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Generating New Ideas

There's a lot of chatter on the interwebz about Mantic's new sci-fi wargame - 'Warpath.' All we have so far are some concept sketches and a tentative release date poised towards autumn. There's been a lot of conjecture about what this new contender in the tabletop gaming world may have to offer that isn't already on the Games Workshop 'menu.' 

Most threads I've seen so far are degenerating into pointless back and forth bickering about the source of inspiration behind Mantic's release and how this might reflect their long term goals for the new miniatures range. Critics are quick to label Mantic's 'Orx' range as a flagrant derivative of GW's 'Orks' citing this as the reason Mantic will never truly rival GW's monolithic wargaming market presence.

This makes for a difficult discussion. Where and when did the Orc trope of a ramshackle, primitive but functional society of bloodlusting lunatics originate? Was it GW? Or Tolkien? Or some ancient Northern European mythos? The correct answer is "all of these" but it is also "none of these."

New can no longer be generated. Not if by "new" we mean "100% original with no derivative qualities." This is because as cultured and (sometimes) educated human beings we have countless thousands of influences affecting our daily thought patterns that deciphering what is generated within our mind from what is born outside of it is impossible. 

This means that when 'ye olde storyteller sits down to write some new Intellectual Property  - be a genre-crushing sci-fi epic or a C3 (Custom Chapter Codex) - he is invariably furnishing his narrative with the pieces of influence scattered around his more mundane everyday awareness. The protagonist's (or titular group in the instance of a C3) is "colored in" by the memories and character of his creator who is likewise shaped by his or her surroundings. 

The influence can be small:

 "Nolan fished through his pockets for the extra dime, muttering under his breath about how a cab ride down the street shouldn't cost an hour's pay. He unceremoniously hurled the loose change at the startled cab driver before ejecting himself from the still-moving vehicle. Tripping over some loose luggage on the sidewalk he sprinted into the station's entrance not even noticing the threatening looks from wary security personnel. 

He had to find Elaine..."

Or it can be large:

"Tukishan csnapped the Hiyabusa into 4th gear coxing the engine past the 12,000 rpm mark and cranking the speed up to a suicidal 280 kilometers per hour. Abandoned vehicles and other detritus of the city's mass exodus left the highway littered with deathtraps - contact with anything at this speed would lead to a fatal deceleration - even if he miraculously survived the crash.

His rearview mirrors darkened and Tukishan nearly wet himself at the twin quivering images of the 200 foot wave closing in him. At its crest the Tsunami gripped a luxury yacht, sales flapping madly in the hurricane winds. Tukishan could imaging mother nature bringing that yacht down on him, a million tonnes of water crushing him instantly. His insides turned to jelly and he readjusted his grip on the throttle, feeding still more fuel to the engine..."

Dubious quality of the writing aside we can see how each instance of outside influence gives relevancy and authenticity to both accounts. It is easier to imagine a world where rising mundane expenses such as transportation have flushed us all into poverty. If you read the news a few months ago it's easy to imagine a ship catapulted onto dry land to disastrous effect. 

Therefore brand new ideas are not simply difficult to generate - they may detract from the narrative in unpredictable ways:

"Dhfo sprinkled his thoughts into the star-chasm. Gesturing with bone horns and flesh cape he formed the thoughts into future memories planting them like gravity seeds in the cerebellum of his unwitting host."

Hmmm. Sure it might be cool to know what the hell a "star-chasm" is but the novelty of this idea immediately puts a kind of high "price tag" on the story wherein the currency cost is replaced with a demand in thoughts and effort.  

So what's the solution? 

The answer to how one generates fresh and captivating narrative is not by any means a new one. Even in the limitless realm of science fiction, good fiction is a precious, precious commodity. Once we've factored in the very personal needs and wants of the common enthusiasts a universal "new and good idea" becomes very ellusive indeed. 

To answer this question for myself I would posit that a "new" idea (meaning a new and good idea) is the combination of two or more very stereotypical and time-resistant archetypes. An attack on space station by a planet-sized wll'o-the-wisp. Huitzilopotchli awakening in downtown Mexico city and demanding sacrifices. A giant minigun-toting Samurai. 

Some of these combinations will take flight and others will float like lead balloons. Playing with these combinations is like playing the lottery. Chance of success is pretty low but... well... um.... J.K. Rowling.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Casual List Building- Contra Vulkanem

(Am I supposed to use the accusative for this? I haven't seen a word of Latin since the exam...)

Right, after a long hard think I've decided just what I'm going to use as a start point against the Drop Vulkan army that is inbound in my beloved country some point in the next two weeks. As I mentioned before, I'm going to be using my Dark Eldar, simply because I'm best with them out of all 10-ish of my armies (Imperial Guard a close second, but I haven't used them in ages).

Because I'm not 'competitive' in the interamericanet sense, my process of construction is very different. Most of the time I work with no brief. I don't build lists months in advance, and I don't practice before proper use. This time I have an idea of what I'm up against, which is having a lot of influence on my thoughts, but casual tailoring is like a custom-made hoodie. Yes it's more comfortable to wear, but high-end armies look at you, and you're still wearing a hoodie. Make sense? No? Good. Here's the list at 1750:

Master Bryss' Soul Stealers - 1746
Aurelia Malys
2x Haemonculus with liquifier gun and webway portal
9 Trueborn with 2 cannons and 7 carbines in a Raider with night shield
5 Incubi in a Raider with night shield
5 Harlequins with 2 kisses, a Shadowseer and a Jester
2x 20 Kabalites with blaster and 2 splinter cannons
10 Wyches with 2 shardnets and a Hekatrix with agoniser in a Raider with night shield
Ravager with 3 lances, night shield and flickerfield

At 2000 I get an extra Incubus, replace Malys with Vect and get 5 Reavers. At 1500 I get an extra Incubus and lose 10 Kabalites and the Trueborn, with the depleted Kabalites inheriting the Raider. Here's the idea:

1. Enemy Deployment: For my opponent the concept of the reserves game doesn't exist, and he's got 4 Pods, meaning he'll have to drop 2 right away. I need to drop 2 Portals in that time as well, which means hiding one in a Raider (probably with the Incubi) and the other with the Harlies. I expect the Harlies to die horribly unless I go first, but if I go second they might succeed in drawing one Pod away from the other Portal, so I should get one down. Either way I don't plan on starting with more than 2 units on the board.

2. HQs: Both HQs lend some support in different ways. I either have Vect to maximise the chances of me getting both Portals down, or Malys to mess with the positioning of his other units and draw long-range fire away from me. She also gives me the option of abandoning Plan A and just reserving everything. They can both go with the Incubi because I'm third edition like that.

3. Nights over Flickers: It's Vulkan. This speaks for itself.

4. Unit Composition: I don't have the Raiders for everyone. Considering the merry hell one 20-man squad let loose on my MRSU (Multiple Random Small Units) Coteaz list, two should douse his Marines in enough splinters to ensure they die horribly. The Wyches are there to tie up....whatever I determine needs tying up. Termies come to mind.

Yes, the list is terrible by net standards. However, no amount of efficiency can compare to being able to read an opponent and being incredibly clever with your tactics.

Next week is dominated by relaxation in a foreign country. After that I'll get the Badab Black out and paint those damn Crusaders.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Shawn Abreu Treasury: Necron Stalkers

Necron Stalker

More from Mr. Abreu, today we're looking at the Necron Stalker Construct. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is there is already such a thing as a "Necron Tomb Stalker" but this is very different. Although both units are designed to give the Necrons a little more of a close combat edge the Stalker is a much more dynamic and intimidating unit.

The Stalker is a rare sight that is only becoming more common in the late 41st millenium as the Necron awakening phenomenom spreads to more and more worlds. It's gargantuan in scale making it a formidable foe on the battlefield - even more so than its menacing warrior counterparts.

Of course any fluff that involves Elysians is bound to get my attention and this entry was no different. Mr. Abreu manages to give the background a broad scope whilst still furnishing the blurb with enough detail to impart this mysterious construct's harrowing effect on the battlefield. I will comment that some sentences read a little awkwardly. The repetition of the word "these" in the 2nd and 3rd sentences and the descriptive repetition of the sentence fragment "At first the facility seemed deserted upon arrival," threw me off for a moment. Also the shooting profile of the Gauss Garrotte is not expressed in the typical weapons format (Range/Str/AP/Special) though this last point is a matter of preference and GW conditioning more than inefficiency of language. 

The rules for the Necron Stalker are impressive. At 30 points a model and 3-6 to a slot they can be taken in numbers and the Beast designation means that this unit can be used aggressively to put pressure on the opponent as quickly as turn 2. The above average WS, Str, and Toughness coupled with the ability to ignore saves of all kind makes this unit a "must kill" for any opponent that wants to make it past turn 4. Hardcore combat units will no longer be able to hide behind their toughness and Stormshields. Wolf Lords and TH/SS Terminators, two of the most capable CC units in the game, will be wounded on 4's and 3's respectively with no defense at all finally giving Necron players an answer for these threats besides the expensive single model C'tan units.

But the Stalker isn't quite the unstoppable juggernaut it appears to be at first glance. Slow and Purposeful could throw a monkey wrench into even the most flawlessly planned movement phase and could strike again in the assault phase where a failed charge will likely mean ample shooting suffered in the next turn. Toughness 5 won't save these guys from such common enemies as Dreadnoughts and Vindicators whose Strength 10 Attacks could easily cripple the unit in one phase. Besides that, the Stalker is not 'Fearless' or even 'Stubborn' and could easily fall victim to modifiers or one of those Deathstar-killing Psyker Battle Squads. All of these weaknesses are underscored by the typical Initiative value of '2' as with most Necrons.

Mr. Abreu has balanced this unit well in my opinion ensuring with the careful addition of drawbacks that adding this entry to the Necron codex can be a fun endeavor for both the owning player and his opponent. This says nothing of my favorite part which I enthusiastically confess is the artwork. An eerie lump of a mishapen skeleton - almost human looking until your eyes are drawn to the wicked curves of serrated blades. Next time I need artwork done for a unit entry I'll know who to turn to!


Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Shawn Abreu Treasury: Constantinus the Liberator

Constantinus the Liberator

It's been a while since we've had a good ol'character entry here on RM. Shawn Abreu has delivered with a series of unit entries I found in my inbox. Now I have the pleasure of sharing and reviewing these entries for our readers. 

Today we're looking Constantinus the Liberator, a renegade Sergeant formerly of the Sons of Guilleman. Disgusted with the state of the Imperium he turns the world of Nova Terra against the Imperium declaring himself the rightful ruler and liberator of the sector.

Mr. Abreu tells an interesting story in this entry - an iconic clash between basic human morals and the tired dogmas of  the corpulent Imperium. The narrative is a little confusing as the catalyst behind Constantinus' treachery is not altogether evident. The story shifts very quickly from the purging of the xenos threat to a restless populace to the ascension of a powerful warlord - essentially three novels worth of "fluff" in three paragraphs.

Rules-wise Constantinus can be described as the much needed Chaos Space Marine buffer character. His Space Marine Captain stats lend the aging codex a more modern combat prowess in the HQ slot. A subtle bonus is that Constantinus carries both a powerfist and a power sword allowing him to make the best of his high initiative whilst also giving him the opportunity to deliver Instant Death blows to other marine characters. 

The only original rule in the entry is the 'Tactical Mastery' special rule and it is a big one! 

"He may elect to have one of the following unit types to be chosen as a troops choice: Chosen Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Terminators, Possessed Chaos Marines, Chaos Bikers, Raptors, Chaos Havocs, or Obliterators."

Hmmm... Well the intention is clear: give Chaos players the flexibility and choices found in newer codices. Mr. Abreu wants the Chaos Space Marine codex to become a playground for Chaos players to forge armies as they see fit. But there is no limitation at all to this process - the entire codex is simply let loose in the troops section which already features 2 or 3 strong troops choices. Any one of the above units being moved to the troops section would have been a breath of fresh air for Chaos players but this is more like a whirlwind. 

At 160 points I don't feel Constantinus creates any opportunity cost for Chaos players. He is infinitely better than any other choice (though that's not a great accomplishment) and will give Chaos players more powerful lists when in fact the power level of the codex was never an issue. Quad-melta Havoc squads and Nurgle Bikers are even more obnoxious when made scoring. 

Still the Chaos Space Marine codex is in dire need of new options and perhaps this is the best way. I might have created a special character for each of the units allowing only one unit to be a troop choice per character but the result would be largely the same albeit more "colorful."

I have blogged before that the FOC mechanic is a poorly contrived one; That it draws completely arbitrary lines across unit entries forcing players away from themed lists. Mr. Abreu appears to agree with me. Just a year earlier I might have dismissed an entry such as this one as wishful, overpowered thinking. Since the BT/DA update, however, the status quo has changed. With the more efficient unit in the game (TH/SS Termies with CML) becoming a Troops choice there is little to suggest Constantinus the Liberator cannot become an equally refreshing addition to the game.

- Atrotos

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Building Deathleaper For Free (Sort of)

I am a student, and so believe disposable income to belong in a book of myths and legends (which also contributes a great deal to my hatred of mass transports). I'm always looking to get that extra bit of value from my miniatures (which will probably lead me to magnets in good time), and when my loyal friend and most regular opponent Cyberscape7 told me he'd built a Lictor counts-as from spare Nid parts I knew I had to try it.

Because I have more bitz than him, I could evolve the design further to create a viable Deathleaper, a counts-as dubbed the Burrowing Death, but it was stuck in limbo until I had green stuff. Now I can present to you a tutorial on the subject. But first, a word from the creator:

"The inspiration came from the simple fact that all Tyranids adapt into different circumstances. This is just one example of what the Tyranid range offers in terms of diversity, so this same idea could be transferred to other units in the Codex if you wanted, and had enough imagination."

Well said. I followed this same pattern with my Tervigon, which is a parasitic Tyranid that crawls into the corpses of larger organisms and uses their mass to create new life.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a master converter. What follows is a classic example of Scottish thriftiness that I (and by extension 'Scape) am sharing with you.

Ingredients: The Burrowing Death is made with spares from the following sources:

  • Ravener Brood (you'll need the rending claws, talons, a front torso and a tail)

  • Carnifex (optional, you'll need a back plate and a back thorn)

  • Trygon (optional, you'll need some of the small spikey things and a head carapace)

  • You'll also need a suitable head, plus a base. I'll go into that later.

    The first step is the body. The Ravener kit comes with 4 tails and 9 front torsos, so you'll always have one left over and a choice of two torso styles. I personally went for spinefists as they're closest to flesh hooks.

    The back carapace too has options. You can use only the Carnifex carapace, only the Trygon carapace or both to give more bulk. I went for both, 'Scape went for 'Fex, not having the option of Trygon at the time. To make the back with 'Fex, take any of the three back options for the 'Fex (you may want to file down the spikes or cysts) and cut off the side bits, as indicated:

    Attach the front and back bits together around the tail. You should have gaps around the half-sockets on the Ravener torso.

    If you want to use Trygon, take any of the two head carapaces and cut off the rounded edge. You can then glue that to the Ravener torso or onto the Carnifex plate, which will also leave gaps (not to mention a huge hole at the top.

    For limbs, use one pair of Ravener rending claws and a pair of talons, either from the Ravener or from elsewhere if you like, putting them into the gap between the half sockets and back plate. The lowest sockets I filled with those spike things from the Trygon you put on the lower body, but anything suitable works.

    With the limbs in place, you can fill up the gaps at the sides with green stuff, as well as the hole at the top. If you can, continue the rib lines along the gaps with a suitable tool.

    The tail can be kept as is, but I chose to make it more jabby with a thorn from the Carnifex. Like the back plate, you should cut off the side plating so nothing hangs off the side of the tail tip.

    Attach a head at the top, using green stuff to make a bulkier neck. 'Scapes' original used a tendriled Genestealer head, however I have none so instead went down a more complicated route. I took the Genestealer head from a Chaos trophy rack and used green stuff to add the tendrils, like so:

    I'm aware it's a skull and technically has no eyes, but it looks menacing enough. The tendrils are also longer, which is better than the shortish Genestealer ones.

    And there you have it, one 'free' Deathleaperesque built entirely from spare parts. Of course, this idea started off as a standard counts-as Lictor, and the same basic core could build another Ravener also. Depending on what you use this idea to build, you save 1000-1600 pence!

    No, I'm not converting it into dollars. I'll leave this up until after work experience, when I shall put up what I'm going to fight Vulkan with.

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    More General Housekeeping/ A Rival Appears!

    Today's post is fully typed with two hands once more, as the vile hell-spawned abomination you see now (and the equally damed smell) is no more. You also get to see me....sort of, I'm still a faceless entity but now you know I do indeed have a left hand.

    You may have also noticed I've found a better camera, which means decent pictures. And as a further bonus, the banner has been updated with a new texture (chipboard). The main implications of this are that I shall be getting my paint out once more, so you get to see my amazingly average painting skills. Well, at least you will once I have restocked my washes.

    In other, equally good news an old friend is returning here for summer with his amazingly purple Vulkan-based army. Details of what I shall face are hazy, but the definites are:

    • Vulkan

    • 2x 5 Sternguard with combi flamers

    • Some TH/SS Termies

    • 4 Drop Pods

    Obviously there shall be troops also, and depending on how much he can get from Singapore to here maybe some other vehicles. However, the Pods take up most of that space.

    I shall send against him my Stolen Soul Kabal (which is undergoing fluff revision to become Corsairs), and a few things are influencing my plan of action (which I'm confident he won't read here).

    Vect. He's been mentioned about seventeen times this last week, and I want to use him. So he's going in the 1750/2000 list, but maybe not the 1500 as I can't work him in there. Lists will no doubt be my usual scalable misfits affair, with an influx of one whole Venom in July, maybe.

    With all due respect, my opponent is skilled and yet at the same time not the brightest tool in the box. Chances are he isn't going to drop empty Pods, which means I'm playing more of a reserves game to survive.

    I'm going all 3rd edition again and putting on Nights over Flickers. I don't see the use of Flickers here when careful moving and general cleverness will be enough. Knowing his army, he might bring the sniper scouts, but that's about the only thing over 24". Unless the twin-auto Dread makes it in, and it's not a full Rifleman like the Interamericanet loves so much.

    What started out as a stub evolved a bit. I may even put some army lists up soon.

    Sunday, 5 June 2011

    WIP Progress- Vect, Malys, Coteaz and Vect

    Some progress made on many fronts. Vect has had his robes and staff done:

    I know many people hate the old Archon, but I'm quite fond of it. The previous configuration was a bit past its time so he shall now serve as my ancient RetroVect. It's like he's still stuck in third edition, along with most of the army. To Malys:

    I decided in the end to stick the sword in the other hand and use the fan as an accessory, mainly to be done freehand. Some suitable hair has been GS'ed and a crown found in Ye Olde Corsair Sprue found in any good DE army. Although still static, it looks like it could be used as a chess queen, which was the desired effect.

    Sick and tired of me proxying him in every game, 'Scape bought me this as half my birthday present. He was in fact my first experiment with Green Stuff, which is limited to a simple hood done with a Bolter and Chainsword tutorial and replacing the eage with a snake, later given wings, from Khalidah's pole. Redubbed Varan Oclis, he will (read: has to) serve as the leader of my Excercitus Hereticus. Speaking of whom:

    Here's two of the twenty Crusaders I now have in the army. The majority have power halberds with new wiring, while a lucky two got swords and proper names. The one on the right is Aeneas (I had to have one), who defends himself with an Imperial Guard tank hatch with a fleur-de-ly on it to emphasise his Hereticusness.

    Incidentally, the other one with a name is Gordius, so called because he's based off the fat musician. I have no clue what I am going to do next.

    Hints for Homebrew: Campaign Characters

    Campaign play represents an easy way to insert custom rules into an environment they're not normally used in, and is also a good opportunity to design a new character gradually and from the ground up, rather than doing everything in one go, which can add depth to the character and gives you more time to think. However, it's a very different design process. When designing a normal character they generally fall into being combat monsters or FOC-movers/supporters. Campaign characters have the potential to be both. Here are my hints:

    1. Consider campaign type and length: The main campaign types are usually categorised as battle (loosely linked games), narrative (well-linked games with a substantial plot) and map (long-drawn out affairs utilising area control mechanics in some way). Campaign characters work best in the latter two, becoming more complex in longer campaigns, but that's not to say a very simple wargear system couldn't be implemented in the first one.

    Battle Campaign: Inquisitor Varan Oclis bashes Daemons' heads in at the Eye of Terror. As he gets closer, his psychic potential becomes stronger but riskier to use. This character should start with good wargear and one power, gaining the ability to use more simultaneously as he progresses with modifiers to the Perils table.

    Narrative Campaign: The campaign shows Varan Oclis at various stages of his life and how he got that winged snake and became awesome. In this case he starts with weakened stats and wargear, gaining more points to spend as he goes.

    Map Campaign: Oclis leads his band of Exercitus crusaders to a hotly contested planet to claim it. Character evolution can be heavily open-ended here, perhaps with an abilities table like the one for Fantasy characters from WD351 or similar.

    2. Be careful with stat boosts and wargear: It's all well and good gaining +1 Strength or Toughness once or twice, but all too often there is no cap on these apart from 10, which can create campaign Mary-Sues to out-Sue the Emperor himself. Aside from ascending to Daemonhood, physical-based stats should have a realistic limit, although skill-based ones like Weapon Skill or Initiative are fine.

    Campaign exclusive wargear should be desirable without being too much of an advantage over others. If universal special rules are put on a table, the best ones should logically be as close to the top as possible. Avoid putting too good stuff on the number 7, and have the best stuff near 1-1 and 6-6 (assuming 2d6 here).

    Example: After many hard-fought battles, Oclis can now move 12" as his now Monstrous Creature snake can carry him, has S10 default and can use 5 powers a turn, including the same one repeatedly, plus a Shadow Field that never breaks he pinched off some plot coupon Haemonculus. He's still an Independent Character.

    3. Try not to over-emphasise on individual performance: A lot of campaign characters end up in the same niche, that of the combat monster character. This can create really two-dimensional characters, something that shouldn't be the overall aim of creating a campaign leader system. The 5th edition rulebook's incredibly dumbed-down and weak system divides skills into shooting, assault and fieldcraft. Something similar could be done for improvements, but adding generalship as an option, which could re-organise the chart or improve squad performance.

    4. It's not as serious as normal characters, remember that!: With campaign characters there's less of an emphasis on balance and more on fun. Although you should remember to set limits, remember also to have fun with the system you devise. Don't be like the GW cover save system, have imagination with what abilities you want!

    The Varan Oclis character was borrowed from Bryssling, in an attempt to make him more interesting than a Coteaz counts-as. The next hints article will probably be the old mainstay of the site, characters proper.

    Saturday, 4 June 2011

    More Brainstorming: Vect, Vect, Britishness and Vect

    I just realised I included 'Britishness' as a key word on my HoP application without fully describing it. I also realised my 3rd edition Archon has a silly lightsabre thing that my young mind believed was cool but I now believe to be a bit impractical. So I shall address both.

    Britishness first. A quick search of the most hyperbolic thing I could find gave me some quotes from the site of that cursed Champion Of Tzeentch (counts as Nurgle) T'Leeks. So in very general terms we apparently play slow, love hoarding one large army, like Apocalypse and are very odd indeed. I shall now address this relating to my position.

    Slow? What are you, German? I thought I was an efficiency freak. I power-walk whenever possible. To me, being British is getting the job done, and I could very easily finish a 2000-pointer in a smaller amount of time than you expect, even if my army isn't entirely mounted in plastic bricks (paper darts if I'm DE).

    My Space Marines top out at about 4000 points, but this is mainly because I have more than ten commanders for no apparent reason. There isn't a single army I don't play barring spin-off Marines, because I like being able to switch, not because of some metagame but because this week I want to improve my Daemons game, or Eldar, or whatever.

    Apocalypse to me represents an easier way to test homebrew on unsuspecting opponents, as well as pitting my pet super-heavy against someone else's pet super-heavy. That said, I lose aforementioned tank very early on, often against Deffkoptas. A typical Apoc for me isn't grandiose, it's one on one 3000, one SH per side, because I know we'll finish.

    Ultimately 40k started out as an odd British thing. This is why I take every opportunity to read stuff like PRIMARCHS or Turn Signals, they revive that old sense of fun. I don't take the fluff seriously much, modding it on the fly to suit my purposes.

    Britishness today is about both accepting and subverting the cliched images of Britishness. Now, to Vect.

    Vect represents a huge leap forward in terms of my converting limits. Usually I build everything in a shed, with glue n' clippers and not much else, but I'll use Vect to learn some more skills. Below is a 5-minute blurry sideyways mock-up of my vision of Vect:

    Jes Goodwin eat your heart out.

    The thing in the corner was meant to be a Black Mage, but I gave up. The main ideas here are the extra robes, to be GS'ed, and the staff is a Raider pole of all things, with a dark orb replacing the skulls. I'll be working on him simultaneously with Malys, and the end product should look very 3rd-edition, to represent Vect's sheer ancientness.

    Incidentally I mentioned Scottishness too, which to me is about inventing things, which may or may not go right. Now I'm off for a cup of tea.

    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    Brainstorming- Lady Malys from Khalidah

    I quite like Lady Malys as a concept. She's essentially the Anti-Eldrad, immune to psychic while gaining that nifty redeploy. I've wanted to do a Malys for a while, thought long and hard about the source and decided I wasn't going to go the Vampire route. Then I saw Khalidah's awesome repaint:

    If this doesn't work as a Malys, nothing will. It also fits well with my mental view of her, which is excellent because I'm a novice converter and want to keep as much of the original model as possible.

    Here's the plan. I originally started this in January, with the aim of replacing the snake (which found its way onto a certain Imperial model) with a pole-arm. The steel fan would fit snugly on the arm with the elongated finger. But it looked wrong somehow, and the fan was a bit on the small side.

    So, new plan. Below is a mock-up of the new steel fan on manly pink cardboard:

    Blurry (blame Apple) but you get the idea. I want to get rid of the stick and have the fan pointing inwards (>). The silly head-crest is to be removed and in place some proper hair will be installed (a good tutorial appreciated here). The visible bone will be covered with a mask in the Wych vein, whic should be easy enough to GS.

    The last hurdle I face is the Lady's Blade. I have no idea what the best way would be to point it. Finding/making a suitable sword will be simple considering the sheer size of my bitz box, but help on the direction would be nice.

    More brainstorming on the way for aforementioned Imperial model. Actual proper modelling will take place when I have full use of both my wrists and am not limited in how I hold a model.