29 November 2009

Uninformed opinions on legal matters...

For those of you who haven't read about it yet, Games Workshop's legal team spent their Thanksgiving sending out another round of "cease & desist" letters. This time the target wasn't a simple blogger with an unfortunate URL or someone stealing artwork for a message board - the target was Boardgamegeek.com, a major all-games review and playaids hub.

Needless to say, the online communities hosted some lively debates on the subject. As with most internet arguments, people jumped to conclusions without exploring the details. Personally, I'd rather have all the facts before I weigh in, so I dug a bit deeper into exactly what had to be removed. See here for a complete list.

Normally I err on the side of the copyright holder, but some of these takedowns were absolutely silly. Currently "supported" (stocked) games such as Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Five Armies... this I understand. Abandoned minigames like Brewhouse Bash, The Lost Patrol, Doom of the Eldar, etc... This seemed harsh as these never received more than an initial release from GW, but they are still part of the 40k universe and its IP. So I can forgive this with a simple rolling of my eyes.

But also on that list are Judge Dredd, Warlock, Rogue Trooper... all games from the early 80s, when GW was an independent games publisher and not dedicated to the Warhammer hobbies. These games haven't been produced in decades, aren't supported, aren't announced as future releases... and GW feels the need to "protect" these games? After this many years, I don't understand what they are trying to accomplish. Their legal department seems to be operating without any real guidelines, boundaries, or common sense. With the GW studio falling incredibly silent over the past few years, the company has very little interaction with the general public (especially in North America, where hobby centers are few and far between). When the only "voice" or "face" on a company is its legal department demanding takedowns of fan-created content for 30-year-old games, that company's reputation should suffer accordingly.

GW needs to quickly change into a company that is far more supportive of its veteran (ie: long-term spending) gamers. I would offer the following:
1 - Developers' Kit. Buried deeply within their website are their personal-use guidelines and disclaimer requirements. These are the disclaimers you see on major message boards, FTW/BOLS downloads, etc. If I was a kid entering the hobby today, wanting to start a blog, I'm not sure how easily I would find this information.
GW needs a PROMINENT link on their main website - something like "developers' resources," "fan content creation," or "blogger toolkit." On this page should be plain-English guidelines for how to post your disclaimers, what is forbidden by copyright and what isn't, etc. They could even devise a set of "public domain" logos that fans could put on their homemade content. This would keep fanmade content from being "mistaken" for official works, and show tremendous support to their long-term gamers. They could even host a database of current fan websites - it wouldn't be as good as an official forum, but it would be something.
2 - Release of abandoned games. Those 1970s-1980s games that aren't related to Warhammer, 40k, or LOTR? Release them to the public. They aren't making money off of them, nor do they have the manpower or resources to try to profit from them today. They should simply have a "History of GW" page on their website listing Judge Dredd, Warlock, Dark Futures, Dr. Who, and their other "abandonware" properties and their release years. Collectors could use this information to find these games on the secondhand market, and those who still play them would be free to develop their own resources (as was on BGG until yesterday).
3 - Release of out-of-publication WFB/40k games. Awhile back, GW released Battle For Armageddon and Chaos Attack as PDFs. Why not do this with all those one-shot games? Brewhouse Bash, Doom of the Eldar, Advanced Space Crusade, Advanced Heroquest... the list goes on. These games are either print-and-play, or are rules that could be used with current-line miniatures. They could even do quickie stories about the mini games... such as how to use modern WFB miniatures with your downloaded Advanced Heroquest rules, missions, and counters. A little work with publications they already possess could easily sell a few more current models.
GW could be very clever with these games, just as many of their customers have been in the past. "Heading to a friend's place for the weekend, but can't take your 40k army? Just take a few Tyranid Warriors and Space Marine Scouts with you, and introduce them to Advanced Space Crusade. Maybe you'll find a new permanent opponent!" Many veteran gamers were introduced to GW by Space Hulk, Heroquest, Space Crusade, etc. There's no reason they couldn't do that with another generation of gamers... just using a slightly modernized distribution model.
In the case of the print-and-plays... these should only be released if Fantasy Flight has decided completely against selling them. Print-and-play would also work great for the old White Dwarf card sections. In fact, why not release as many of those as possible? Some of the scenic bits were very nice. They might be enough to keep beginners around long enough to actually buy Citadel terrain.

These steps would clearly define GW's level of IP protection, open the door to former customers who have walked away because of their legal practices, and expand their potential customer base by using current veterans as marketing representatives. What do they have to lose, other than a few weeks at the scanner and blogging terminal?

17 October 2009

Alternative Rules - Forge Of War

And now for one of the more controversial subjects of the Games Workshop hobby - alternative rule systems.

By their own admission, Games Workshop is a miniatures company above all other things. The mechanics of the game we call Warhammer 40,000 haven't actually changed much since 1989 - it has always been IGO-UGO, separate rolls to hit, wound, and save. Through four-plus revisions and editions, these mechanics have evolved into a comprehensive set of battle rules. But they are still cumbersome, and do not represent the flow of battle. To most 40k players this isn't an issue - they want a universal game they can play in a store or club, that is supported by a major corporation, and that will always have a steady stream of new models. But a handful of players aren't interested in a universal game they can play with strangers, and are more interested in finding rules to support the models they have (whether produced by Games Workshop or not).

Many free alternate rules exist, and have for years. And I have investigated them on several occasions, only to go back to 40k every time. The reasons for this vary tremendously. Some are systems like Stargrunt, which are free and supported, but really aren't any less complicated than 40k once gameplay actually starts. Others have been gaining popularity, like Two Hour Wargames and Fast And Dirty. Both are pretty good systems which seem to have been created around fixing specific problems with 40k, and play much faster. But both of these have charts for everything. I'm tired of consulting so many charts! A quick reference sheet should be one or two pages, not four to eight! Also, neither system seems capable of supporting 100+ model games. So none of the alternates jumped out as being viable in my mind.

Until I discovered Forge Of War.

This ruleset is absolutely fantastic. It has an initiative/command system loosely reminiscent of Epic:Armageddon, which has been widely recognized as GW's best system. It introduces a D-Marker system similar to Epic 40,000's use of Blast Markers, so that might be why I enjoy it so much. And it resolves fighting/close combats with a single modified roll, with modifiers very intuitive and easy to remember after your first few games. Best of all, the Yahoo group has very playable stats for most 40k units. One of the group members created a very complex calculator to automatically convert stats - balance is maintained at GW codex levels. I have played a variety of games using Imperial Guard, Orks, and Space Marines - all function exactly as they do in 40k. In fact, I've played two test comparison games; playing a standard 40k game, then replaying the same mission/armies using Forge of War. In both of these comparisons, Forge of War produced almost IDENTICAL results to 40k - in about half the playing time.

So here is my challenge to anybody interested in trying something different. Download Forge of War from The Game Shed, join the Yahoo group, get the most updated 40k stats, and play a demo game or two. I'm not saying you'll never play 40k again... but you will be pleasantly surprised by the gameplay of Forge of War.

01 October 2009

Scratch-built Killa Kans

For some time, I've been inspired by (Bell of Lost Soul's) Bulwark's great article about scratchbuilding Killa Kans cheaply:


Since there are no heavily-supported rumors of new plastic Kans coming out soon, I decided to try my own scratchbuild for my new Bad Moon army. I didn't want to completely copy Bulwark's design, but figured it was a good place to start. So I set aside a few other bits from my collection to use (mostly Rogue Trader Ork heavy plasma guns), and was ready to hit Home Depot for button-drippers (see Bulwark's article) when I looked down at my workbench and saw the humble Citadel plastic barrel.

I immediately began to smile.

The Citadel barrel looked like it was just the right size to hold a Grot and some controls. I looked around the Bunker for a few more ideas, and saw the 90-degree pipes on the Imex Power Plant scenery kit. A few minutes with an Exacto knife, some files, and some superglue, and this is what I produced:

Junkyard constructs meets 1960's sci-fi robots. I love 'em. The parts I used:
  • Body - Citadel barrel
  • Hatch - Imex Syberclicks set (useless as a whole, but a great source for individual parts)
  • Armor - from the original plastic Rogue Trader battlewagon, re-released during the Gorkamorka days in a parts bag.
  • Arms and Legs - piping from the Imex Power Plant (a great set, both as a whole and for parts)
  • Hips - old Epic Ork wagon gun turrets
  • Feet - plastic Epic stompa feet (though almost anything would work for feet)
  • Close combat weapon - Rogue Trader power klaw
  • Grotzooka/Mega Blasta - Rogue Trader heavy plasma gun
Kans 2 and 3 followed the same basic formula. The only difference was that instead of a hatch, I left both lids open and inserted plastic Grots (one was a 2nd Edition Grot, one was a broken Space Crusade figure). I also used different close combat weapons on each... one was a modern buzzsaw, the other is also from the old Epic wagon sprue.

All in all, it was an inexpensive, quick, and entertaining way to produce a Heavy Support option for my new Bad Moon army. My next scratchbuild will probably be a battlewagon... I'm just not a huge fan of the new Citadel version. I'd rather make something like the old epic Battle Fortresses or the Forgeworld gunwagons. If any readers have created major custom Ork jobs like these, let me know and I will post links to your work.

30 September 2009

Starting the Waaagh - two takes on 500-point Ork forces.

'Oi lads!

First, let me apologize for the lack of recent updating. I spent over a week in bed with our wonderful new strain of Influenza, while helping my girlfriend recover from an emergency appendectomy.

But even while resting, I've been doing some work. I needed a break from my power-armored forces (all three flavors of Dark Angels, plus Executioners for the Badab campaign), and decided to re-start my Orks.

I haven't done anything with non-Epic Orks since Gorkamorka was in publication, so that should tell you something. Those Gorkamorka days, combined with a few sets of Black Reach Orks, gave me what I felt would be a great core for a new Evil Sunz army. As with all things, I started with 500 points:

HQ: Mek with twin-linked shoota, power klaw, bosspole (Black Reach boss model)
Troops: 4 Nobz with Big Choppas (Trukk with Red Paint and Wrecking Ball)
Troops: 9 Slugga Boyz, Boy with Big Shoota, Nob with Big Choppa (Trukk with Red Paint)
Fast: 3xDeffkoptas with Rokkit Launchers

I'm fairly certain that I was already under H1N1's thrall when I made this ridiculous list. You're reading this correctly - only 16 greenskins at 500 points. But it seemed like a good enough idea for me to get painting:

I like the basic color scheme... it only took me three days' recovering time to paint those 500 points. In any case, last Friday evening I was able to put this army list (and I use that term very loosely) to the test against my buddy's Cadians. And by Cadians, I mean two full platoons and a barebones Leman Russ. The results, as you can well imagine, were completely laughable.

As I mopped several green puddles from the streets of my ruined city, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I should be more concerned with numerical superiority at low-point games than with mobility. I shelved my fresh new Evil Sunz, opened my cabinet, and dug through my Rogue Trader and 2nd Edition plastic Orks.

I didn't want to repeat the same scheme and theme with two radically different model sets, so I decided to build my Orks 2.0 as Bad Moons. A lucky eBay find landed me about sixty well-painted Rogue Trader boyz, which gave me this scheme (along with a dozen others):

I'm going to retouch the yellows and browns with modern Foundation paints, and redo the base once I finalize my new desert-table scheme. Other than that, I'm more than satisfied with this appearance, and will use it to produce my Bad Moon army. The new 500 point list:

HQ: Mek with Shokk Attack Gun
Troops: 29 Shoota Boyz (3 with heavy shootas), Nob with power klaw
Troops: 8 Slugga Boyz, 1 Boy with heavy shoota, 1 Nob with big choppa (Trukk with red paint)
Troops: 18 Grotz, Runtherd

60 greenskins at 500 points. I playtested it against my own 500-point Executioner list on Monday. The results were far more satisfying than using the glorified Gorkamorka mob from last week's sessions, and each 500-point increment I add to this force will include one more shooty mob. I have over a hundred Rogue Trader boyz to use in this army, along with tons of great 1st and 2nd edition models (two original plastic Battlewagons, some old Power Armor Nobz that will be my Meganobz, etc). An unsatisfying portion for now is the Grot Mob. In terms of models, I have eighty 2nd Edition mono-pose Grots... and nothing else. And the Rogue Trader boyz are so much more high-tech in terms of clothing and equipment (compared to modern Orks) that the new Grots would look out-of-place. For 3-point models, I think I'll allow boring to win. My test scheme for the Grot Mob:

Nothing fancy - Black spray, Adeptus Battlegrey drybrush of the entire model, Boltgun drybrush of the blasta, Gretchin Green on the face, ears, and arms, and Iyanden Darksun on the helmet and belt. It'll never win a Golden Demon - but the entire thing, from the time I picked up a brush to the time it was done, took less than five minutes. So it will be very easy to knock out a mob or two of these as I rebuild my army.

Tomorrow's post will feature the development of my 1000-point army, along with some conversion goodness. Stay tuned!

07 September 2009

Fog of War Expansion Preview: Force Selection

After some debating, this is the trial version of the Fog of War force selection rules (extract from the in-progress book):

Fog of War uses a variable army size for each mission. These are deployed in increments of 500 points, with a total army size of 3000 points. The first 2500 points should be chosen from a single codex, but may use allies when standard rules permit (Inquisitiorial ally rules, Kroot mercenaries, etc). The army is constructed as follows:

  • 500-point Vanguard (explained below).
  • 1000-point army. This army must combine the Vanguard with a 500-point addition to create a legal army (one HQ and two Troops choices).
  • 1500-point army. This force must be a legal army (one HQ and two Troops choices) and include the Vanguard. This can be accomplished by adding 500 points to the above 1000-point army, or by creating a completely different 1000-point addition to the Vanguard.
  • 2000-point army and
  • 2500-point army. The remaining additions are restricted only by the standard Force Organization Chart, created however the player desires.
  • 500-point addition which will create a 3000-point "apocalyptic" army. This remaining addition can be chosen freely, and may include flyers, super-heavies, additional units from the army's codex (or codices), or units from another codex (subject to the Apocalypse ally rules).

Vanguard Composition

The Vanguard is the core force used in all Fog of War missions. It consists of the following units:
  • One mandatory choice from Troops
  • One mandatory choice from Troops OR Elites
  • Maximum 1 HQ unit
  • Maximum 1 vehicle with a total armor value over 33 (sum of front, side, and rear values).
  • Other units can be chosen from any Force Organization Chart entry, subject to the above restrictions.

Sample Army - Dark Angels

Vanguard: Belial, Deathwing Squad, 5-man Tactical Squad in Rhino
1000 points: Vanguard plus Vindicator, Ravenwing Attack Squad, and Devastator Squad
1500 points: Vanguard plus Interrogator-Chaplain, Mortis Dreadnought, Deathwing Squad, Ravenwing Attack Squad, and Land Raider
2000 points: Vanguard plus Interrogator-Chaplain, Deathwing Squad, Tactical Squad with Razorback, 2 Ravenwing Attack Squads, Devastator Squad
2500 points: Vanguard plus Interrogator-Chaplain, Mortis Dreadnought, Two Deathwing Squads, Tactical Squad with Razorback, 2 Ravenwing Attack Squads, Devastator Squad, Land Raider, and Vindicator
3000 points: 2500 points plus Deathwing squad and Land Raider Prometheus

03 September 2009

Eight terrain pieces in one day

I don't have an Epic post for the day, as I was distracted by a new personal record. Today I assembled, primed, and painted eight pieces of terrain in one session. Obviously these were small and easy, but I think they were much-needed additions to my modular Cities of Death battlefield system.

Until today, I had been using a jigsaw to cut my MDF hardboard bases. Today I discovered a much simpler way using a mini-hobby saw and sanding sponge - it worked well enough that I may post it as a separate tutorial. Rather than using my own hardboard, all eight bases for today's projects were scrap and offcuts from the CNC Scenery Australia tiles. Some of the tiles, especially the straight roads, left pretty usable chunks of hardboard.

The project list for today:
  • Straight wall section from Cities of Death buildings
  • Stand of Games Workshop barrels
  • Two piles of city rubble (my usual mix of ground sprues and aquarium gravel)
  • Two Games Workshop tank traps
  • Two Games Workshop personnel barricades
The straight wall section had the most detail, and even it only took me 45 minutes to paint. Black basecoat, heavy blue drybrush on the walls and rubble, rusty steel on the skulls and chains (tin bitz basecoat, tin bitz/boltgun mix drybrush, boltgun light drybrush) and a Bleached Bone drybrush on the skeleton.

The barrel stand was basic rusty-steel, and the rubble piles were drybrushes of the usual Wal-Mart craft paints that I use on most terrain.

I'm getting far more comfortable with my rusted-metal effect. I'll have to get a better picture of it later, along with a tutorial.

01 September 2009

Space Hulk - Then to Now

As a fun break from rules development and painting, I broke open my shiny new copy of Space Hulk and assembled the miniatures. The pictures that Games Workshop published showed just how breathtaking the new miniatures are, especially to veterans. For those who haven't seen the older models, I thought a side-by-side would bring everything into perspective.

Librarian... 1st vs 3rd Editions

Sergeant... 2nd vs 3rd Editions

Heavy Flamer Terminator... 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Editions

Terminator... 1st, 2nd, and 3r3rd Editions

Anybody who hadn't decided whether or not they will buy this game... buy it. This is just a sample of the Marine models. The Genestealers are fantastic, the board, counters, and templates are rock-solid and attractive, even the dice are unique. I wish I had an old version of Space Hulk to compare boards and counters... maybe their prices will be driven down with the modern release? Only time will tell.

31 August 2009

Project Update - Fog of War

Good evening everyone,

I'm going to take a break from reading my shiny new Space Hulk rulebook to post the current status of the Fog of War game system. I'm really just in the concept phase at this point, so this will be a quick read. But hopefully it will generate a few emails, just like the last one.

In the old Epic 40k version, the missions were selected using an ordinary deck of playing cards. At this point I'm more interested in creating printable-and-cuttable custom cards for our 40k version, but the number of missions should still work. In Epic '97, the armies didn't have a fixed point scale - missions were scaled at "vanguard detachment +25% of army," "entire army," etc. Our version is going to have a set 2500-point scale, so we can fix the army sizes for each mission. Here's my initial idea:

Force Size
Patrol Only
Patrol Only
Secure Ground
Defend Ground
Stage for Attack

Things we need to decide before developing the scenarios:

1) Will the 2500-point army use the standard FOC, or are we going to use a variant system for Fog of War?
2) Will the patrol be 400 or 500 points? Will it use the old Combat Patrol composition rules, or will it be a legal 500-point army?
3) Is there too much overhead involved in planning a 3000-point Apocalypse game to make that a viable Ace option?

Right now my intent is that two players agreeing to a Fog of War session bring a 2500-point standard army (roughly dividable into a patrol, 1000, 1500, and 2000-point forces), along with 500 points of literally anything they want (a Force Org Chart-violating addition to their own army, an Apocalypse formation, 500 points from another Codex, a Super-Heavy, whatever). We'll try to playtest as many options as we can, but obviously we won't be able to predict everything.

27 August 2009

Epic 40,000: Omega Edition - the main rulebook

My revision of the 1997 Epic 40k rules is beginning to take shape. I thought it would be good for potential players of this system to know what they can expect.

On a production note - I'm creating the entire system using Google Docs. From there it will be exported as a PDF, which I will host freely online. There will be numerous diagrams and play examples throughout the book, for which I will probably use the Vassal Epic module. Other than that, there will be photos of my own models, terrain, and tables. As of this writing, I don't have anyone to do artwork, so the book is going to be pretty basic.

The main rulebook is going to cover everything needed to play a game - except for the army lists. In 1997 terms, the new rulebook is going to be a combination of the old Rulebook and Battles Book. So its contents:

  • Epic 40,000: Omega Edition rules
  • Demo/Training Scenarios (no army list required)
  • Play examples with diagrams for EVERY rule section
  • Scenario Special Rules
  • Scenarios
  • Fog of War (2nd Edition)
  • Tree/narrative campaign examples
  • Integrated game system campaign examples (40k/BFG/eE40k using Planetary Empires)
  • Painting weblinks
  • Terrain weblinks
  • Quick Reference Playsheet as last page (also available as separate download)

For those of you who have designed similar products in the past, or have simply used enough rulebooks on your own - what else am I missing?

24 August 2009

Cities of Death terrain - field test

This weekend I had the opportunity to play a quick Cities of Death game using some of the new terrain I've been working on. It was a 4x4 table made from the CNC Miniature Scenery Australia tiles, four of the classic GW corner ruins (which I really only finished as CoD test pieces, but they're good enough to stay in the mix), a standard Manufactorum, and a combination building built from all three CoD building types and the new Shrine of the Aquila. It's far from finished, but you can see how it's progressing in these pictures:
Belial and Squad Astrega assault the Orks,
while Tactical Squad Gesemon advances down the street

The corner ruins were a simple build. I cut the bases from 1/8" hardboard and white-glued the ruins to the base. Using a flea-market meat grinder and the GW website technique, I have a small box of sprue rubble. I added various bits to the rubble piles, such as old Skeleton Warriors, badly assembled and painted old Space Marines that received some fresh paint, and some old tank bits from, shall we say, eBay bargains.Made using a broken RTB01 marine painted as a Salamander with an exposed skull

A corner ruin with two skeletons

The left ruin has an ancient Crimson Fist
and a newer Howling Griffon, while the right ruin
features a skeleton and an unmarked yellow Rhino frame.

The next step will be to add rubble and wrecks to my larger buildings and get them painted. As side projects, I'm going to make three or four simple rubble piles, and a few city-painted bases of barricades, barrels, etc.

I also have an Imex Power Plant ready for assembly and painting. But I haven't decide whether I'm going to add it to the city, or give it a more generic paint scheme that can be used on multiple tables. Watch here for updates.

20 August 2009

Project Announcement - Epic 40,000: Omega Edition

Overall, I have always preferred the Epic 40,000 rules to Space Marine/Netepic and to Epic:Armageddon. Every year or so, this same debate is sparked on one of the forums (TacComs, Warseer, Dakka, etc.). Over the past few months I've read through these threads carefully, as well as numerous blogs and defunct resource pages. I know that I am not alone in thinking that Epic 40k is the superior system.

As such, I am announcing Epic 40,000: Omega Edition. This will be a standalone Epic ruleset based upon the 1997 edition.

My reasons for returning to this system:
  • Epic 40,000 was a complete product. It had a few officeial rules amendments and updates, but it did not suffer from "LINUXitis" the way NetEpic and Epic:Armageddon do (always being developed and updated, never a simple standalone product).
  • The previous two attempts to keep Epic 40,000 alive, the Battle Bible and Epic 41k, were both steps in this direction. This project would not be possible without their efforts, and I would absolutely love a little bit of help from those who worked on those documents.
  • Epic 40,000's simplicity make it an ideal intro game to the 40k universe, especially for younger players on a budget.
  • The Epic 40,000 rules are fundamentally sound (Battlefleet Gothic has the same core rules and has been loved ever since its release) and are the best representation of large-scale conflict possible within the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
  • Epic 40,000's army list system is optimal. Players can field every model created for the game, every unit in their collection, detachments based on their 40k armies, and wild units that would ordinarily never be seen. This is something the other Epic systems do NOT allow. In EA, there are only a handful of possible army builds. In SM2/TL/NE, there are a handful of "no-brainers" that appear in every army due to power level.
  • The Epic 40k army lists are NOT designed for tournaments. This is a great game system for friendly situations, but could never replace E:A at the tournament level.
  • The rule changes implemented throughout the Firepower/Magazine era should be supported, except those rejected by the old mailing group.
  • The Fate Card system is sound. It added a level of entertainment and balance to the game, and I will incorporate it into the new version.
  • The old army lists are generally good, but they do need slight changes/have units added to bring them in-line with current 40k codices. Orks need a slight power boost or a points reduction across the board, as they always played with a slight handicap.
  • The Fog of War was a great way to play games, which is why I'm creating a 40k version of it. It will be a major part of Epic 40k: Omega.

The rulebook is already being written, and I have electronic versions of all the old army lists and unit stats. This product won't take long to produce, outside of playtesting new scenarios and victory conditions. Any groups willing to beta-test this update to a fun and complete game system should contact me for more information.

18 August 2009

40k Play Aid: The Fog Of War

(Apologies for the late update... I was working very late on my CoD terrain last night.)

The Basement Gaming Bunker is announcing its first official publication - The Fog Of War. If anyone remembers the 1997 Epic 40,000 ruleset, you may remember the Battles Book contained a random mission generator by this name. For those who either haven't heard of it or need a refresher, this is what it generally was:

-Both players chose large armies.
-Terrain and objectives were placed as per a normal scenario.
-The random mission was chosen.

The missions were very broad in scope. For some, you could only use your Vanguard - which in Epic was your smallest standard detachment. Some used another 25% or 50% of your force, and some called for your entire army. Both players had different missions, so you could end up with something like:

Player A) One 200-point detachment, must survive four turns.
Player B) Full 2500-point army, must defend all objectives.

So occasionally the scenarios were a little lopsided, but the results were always entertaining.

For some time now, I've believed this system could be adapted to 40k, with missions ranging from a Combat Patrol to an Apocalypse force. Over the next two months, we're going to playtest various force restrictions and organizations, objective systems, victory conditions, special rules, and deployment options. The result will be the Basement Gaming Bunker's first free PDF download.

Anyone with interest in the project, contact me, or keep an eye on this space.

15 August 2009

City Tile Update and the Next Step

Last weekend, my girlfriend and I applied tinted Minwax Acrylic stain to the pained CNC Miniature Scenery's Urban Grounds tiles. The results are exactly what I wanted - something darker than the manufacturer's suggested paint scheme, but still having more color levels than Games Workshop's own city tables.

There are still some finishing touches needed, such as metal paint on the sewer grates and manholes, along with gluing some rubble and bones into the blast craters. But they are now ready to be used for a game.

The next project is to assemble enough buildings for a Gamma-level fight. I don't need Omega-level buildings until the rest of the CNC tiles are painted and stained. This seems to be the best approach - I spent two days assembling the City Grounds and Urban Grounds kits, and was immediately overwhelmed with how many there were. Doing them in small chunks makes the project very manageable. So I'm going to try the same approach with my Imperial City boxed set - build just a few buildings at a time rather than using every sprue and bit in the box.

I also want to pick up one more item - a Shrine of the Aquila. Initially I was very unimpressed with this building - it was tall, thin, and lacked detail compared to the existing Cities of Death sets. And like most internet gamers, I immediately complained in the forums. I still think standalone, the kit is fairly unimpressive.

But I saw something this week on GW's site that has completely changed my opinion. It is the cover image for the Focus on 40K Terrain article:


It uses the Shrine along with Basilica and Sanctum components to make a building that I can only describe as "solid awesome." I intend to build something almost identical to this and use it as the centerpiece in my City of Death.

03 August 2009

Miniature Scenery CNC Urban/Battle Ground tiles

A few months back, I ordered both the City Ground and Battle Ground series of modular tiles from CNC Miniature Scenery (Australia). I assembled and primed the tiles over the course of a few weeks, but abandoned them in favor of more work on my Executioners and Arbites. Assembly was very straightforward - took me three evenings to finish both packs, using nothing more than my hobby clippers, a sanding sponge, and some Elmer's glue.

My initial review of the tiles is extremely high - I am VERY impressed by their construction, assembly, instructions, and quality. I've assembled the tiles into many demo setups, and haven't had a problem yet with fit or finish. But, as I said, other projects took over, and the assembled-and-primed tiles sat in the basement for months.

The last few weeks, after my 2-year-old daughter's bedtime, I was able to get around to painting. I stay pretty cheap when it comes to terrain - all the paint is the cheap craft-store brand Folk Art, the brushes and mini-roller were from Dollar Tree, and the texture was some old Red Devil paint additive I had in the basement. Even with these cheap supplies, I was impressed at the overall results. My girlfriend Casey pitched in with some touch-up painting the past few nights, and here is a sample of our results.

In total I have 26 tiles painted. The tiles are a little over 9"x9" each, so 25 will make an Alpha- or Gamma-level Cityfight board. Ten are blank tiles for buildings/ruins, one is a decorative "courtyard" tile (I checkered it just for fun), and the rest are a variety of road sections. The final stage before play is going to be the application of Minwax acrylic stain, to properly "dull" their overall appearance (similar to the "dip" technique found on numerous other blogs). I'll post updated pics after the stain is applied.

18 July 2009

Executioners - First 500 Points

I have a basement full of miniatures. Prominent is a collection of over 100 plastic Rogue Trader space marines. Many are STILL on the original sprues. I won a few auctions, and realized I had more than enough to finish my Dark Angels Battle Company, and would have plenty to spare. Around the same time, the Bell of Lost Souls announced they were starting the Badab War campaign book, I knew I'd have to try out one of the chapters.

I wanted to try a more complicated paint scheme than my Dark Angels, so for my traitor chapter, I chose the Executioners. I've never done camouflage except for Epic Imperial Guard, so I figured this would be a fun chance to do a full camo army.
Over the years, there have been many interpretations as to exactly what color scheme we saw in that original Rogue Trader-era article. The most common portrayal seemed to be white armor and blue camo on that, so I painted along those lines.


I decided, rather than assemble thousands of points and then ignore it for years, that I should actually build-paint-play at 500-point increments. My initial list:

Captain with plasma pistol and digital weapons
Five-man tactical squad in assault cannon Razorback
Ten-man tactical squad (meltagun, missile launcher) in Rhino


The Rhino and Razorback are the older body styles. The Rhino's Stormbolter is actually a modern Chaos combi-bolter, and the Razorback's assault cannons came from the Ravenwing sprue. The conversion was exceedingly simple. I added RTB01 torsos, heads, and arms to each, keeping the Mark VI theme consistent.

The tactical squads are straight assemblies from RTB01, with the exception of Berzerker chainswords and Azrael backpacks on the Sergeants. I have about a dozen of these backpacks... one of my last purchases before we lost the Bitz service.

The captain is a little different, as my original list called for him to have artificier armor. I used current Space Marine legs and torso front, the Captain back torso with cape, and the arms and head from a Khorne Berzerker (all icons shaved away). It makes for a sinister looking model, which I really like. Also, it's far less ornate than the current trend of Space Marine captains, which I feel is more appropriate for a Codex chapter.


At 500 points, a flamer would be more useful than a meltagun. That gives me five points to tweak my captain. I'm considering two options: replacing his chainaxe with a power axe (he was slaughtered by a Chaplain's power weapon during a game), or removing both arms and replacing them with lightning claws.

Or alternatively, I may remove him altogether and field a Librarian. Either way, he won't be painted until I make my final decision.


Pretty straightforward so far - Skull White undercoat, Mordian Blue camo pattern and weapon casings, Goblin Green tactical shoulderpads, Mechrite Red vehicle crew shoulderpads, and Chaos Black captain's pad. My prototype marine had white flecks in the blue "blotches" of camo, but I felt that made him look like a dalmatian. I'm considering using yellow flecks now, but need to find a fine triangular-head brush to apply them.

For decals, I intended to use the ones made by BigRed at BoLS, but after printing, decided I hated them. On a beakie marine, the axe faces the back, and I want them to appear as aggressive as possible. Also, the axe head resembles a fireman's tool rather than an executioner's blade. So until I take the time to create my own decals, they're going to stay "chapter free" for awhile.

For basing, I decided the blue-and-white camo was an effect of an icy homeworld. They will be snow-based, with blue slate chips and stones scattered on the leaders.


I'm experimenting with several options to increase to 1000 points. But with numerous other projects and very little free time, I'll probably wait and see what (if any) special rules or scenarios are in the final BoLS product, and build the army accordingly.


Kudos to the first reader identifying the base I used in the photographs!

10 July 2009

The future of Epic

This morning, I finally took the time to read through Tactical Command's rather lengthy topic regarding Forgeworld's withdrawl from Epic. This discussion drifted back and forth between other companies (namely Dark Realm and Exodus Wars, but others obviously mentioned) miniatures being used as proxies, and why some people hate it, to the beautiful Necron and Tyranid sculpts recently highlighted on Bell of Lost Souls. The way things are now going, there is no way to ensure the future of Epic miniatures.

Here's my thought at a complicated long-term solution. It relies on several basic, yet quite safe, assumptions:
1. There is, and always will be, a market for new, genuine, Epic-scale Warhmmer 40,000 miniatures to be sculpted, produced, and sold.
2. Forgeworld is completely getting out of the scale, outside of Aeronatica Imperialis and their rumored Titan slugfest.
3. Citadel has no plans to produce any new Epic models.
4. Epic is not financially viable for Games Workshop as a third system, and Specialist Games are barely "earning their keep."
Assumption 4 is somewhat tricky, due to the Lord of the Rings license expiring soon. That drifts into a completely different debate, but I'm of the opinion that LoTR/WoTR will be discarded as soon as it is contractually feasible. Which, of course, could bring about the ever-remote chance of Epic reclaiming its mid-90s status as the "third game."

I don't see that happening.

Instead, I look at other options. DRM and EW probably, and feel free to correct me, would not exist if it wasn't for their products' use as Epic proxies. But they will never be anything more than proxies. And while the miniatures are great sculpts and well made, they are no more Epic miniatures than a 10mmx40mm piece of cardstock with "Necron Warriors" written upon it. 99% of Epic and 40k veterans (I'm talking 5+ years in the hobby) are here because of the miniatures, not for the rules or fluff or artwork.

The sculptors of the Necrons and Tyranids (Evil & Chaos and his cohorts at TacCom) said they asked GW for a license to produce them, and were told that "licenses weren't issued." That wasn't the whole truth. THQ, and other video game makers, have had licenses for years. But far closer to the hobby, look at Fantasy Flight. They WERE granted the license, and have made and are making numerous Warhammer and 40k products. So licenses obviously exist.

Why was E&C denied one? One needs to look back into the early 90s for an answer. Once upon a time, Citadel wasn't alone in the production of models for Warhammer and 40k. Marauder Miniatures was licensed to produce fantasy, and several pre-Forgeworld resin sculptors (all surrounding the legendary Mike Biasi) produced kits for 40k. This ended by the new millennium. Why? Were the licenses no longer profitable for GW? No. Did GW perceive a level of competition on their own products? Yes.

Marauder wasn't simply given a single army within Fantasy and told "hey, this is yours." They were given carte blanche to produce whatever they wanted in Fantasy, and their products ultimately competed with GW's on merchandise. It was sales that GW felt should have been theirs, even though they received the fee and issued the license.

So here's the problem with Epic. E&C asked for a license to produce Necrons and Tyranids for Epic:Armageddon. He was denied. Forgeworld is also being removed from Epic. In my opinion, the two are related. Games Workshop, even though they don't have the time, resources, or personnel to devote to Specialist Games, want to ensure they have sole control of the Epic product line, with no internal or external competition.

Here's their fear. New player (40k veteran or not, doesn't matter) wants to take up Epic. Best case scenario, player orders the book from GW.com. Worst case scenario, player downloads it. Either way, new player is going to need an army. If that player wanted to take up, say, Tau, or even Imperial Guard to an extent, his solution would be Forge World. Specialist Games doesn't make a sale. Now, what if that player wanted to take up Necrons or Tyranids, but E&C has the license? Not only does Specialist Games not make a sale, but Games Workshop altogether is missing from this equation. In their current mode, it's better to not have any other armies available outside of Specialist Games, forcing new player to purchase Marines, Orks, or Imperial Guard. It seems silly to many, but it does make sense. They don't want to expand the line, but they damn sure don't want to see it split across several different manufacturers. There's only one solution that will work. And Jervis Johnson himself has already mentioned it to a few private individuals, probably hoping someone would pick up the hint.

Someone else has to assume FULL CONTROL of Epic.

That's right... FULL control. Not making an army. Not publishing army lists on a public forum. Not making proxies. FULL control. If someone, (or a conglomeration of, say, E&C and his cohorts, DRM, EW, and anyone else with assets and talent) went to Games Workshop, they could be granted the entire Epic product line. Let Specialist Games and Forgeworld get completely out of the business... minis, books, support, advertising - the whole thing back to the hands of those who love and support it.

Here's the kicker. Games Workshop is horribly unlikely to sell their Epic molds and designs. So if someone was granted the license, they almost certainly would have to start from scratch. For every army. Which means to be viable at all, they would have to have an Ork, Marine, and Imperal Guard range released with the new book. I'm not going to make a huge deal out of the books themselves, because the fan community has demonstrated time and time again that the books can be created, and created well. It's just a simple matter of finding a small-scale publisher (even Lulu would work fine) and getting it into print.

If this happened, the license owner would be able to focus entirely on Epic, even if it meant allowing all their other product lines to die. Given the size of the Epic global community and the quality of miniatures produced by the "other guys," this should be given serious consideration as an option. One company's devotion would return Epic to success unseen since the mid-90s. New 40k Codex and product line released? No problem, here's the Epic miniatures to go with it, and the revised army list is already on TacComs and the company's internal forum. Miniatures that have always been missing? Sisters of Battle, Dark Eldar? No problem, here's a box set and half a dozen blisters. We'll revise the line when their new 40k 'dex is released.

I have absolutely NO idea how much this would cost someone (or a group of someones) to do. I don't know how much Fantasy Flight paid/pays for the license, I have no idea if GW would sell the old molds or the book or if the licensor would have to start from zero like I suggested... but I do know this is the ONLY way that we will ever see Epic being supported the way we all wish and hope and dream it could be.

Initial setup

Hello all. I'm not going into introductions just yet, for reasons that will soon become clear. Over the years, I've had various project logs and blogs on other sites, notably the Bolter & Chainsword. I'm going to kick-start this blog by moving those posts to this central repository. More to follow!