Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Essen Spiel Day 2 - Extra Photos

So just a quick update, with some extra photos from Essen Spiel 2013.

First up some images of the scenery by Micro Arts Studio for the wargame Wolsung. I would also consider some of the scenery for Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine/Hordes.

Next up some photos of the minis for Soda Pops' upcoming game, Super Dungeon Explore. Rather cute and reminds me of the figures for Puppet Wars by Wyrd Games.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Essen Spiel 2013 Day 1 Round Up

So today was day one of Spiel. Held in Essen, it is the largest gaming trade fair in Europe. Primarily a games convention, the event days are also shared by Comic Action, a comics fair.

The main focus of Spiel is for games creators to show of their games to traders, and also for a chance to build up an awareness for games. The primary type of games on show are board games, but there are also wargames, card games and some computer games, plus a plethora of sellers of LARP equipment, cosplay, figurines, and more.

Spiel also caters for all ages, and so there are many different types of games on sale. Which means certain days of the convention are perhaps better avoided given that they are the 'family' days. You will also see a lot of people wheeling around boxes and suitcases in which they stash the gear that they have bought. So there are plenty of parents doing their Xmas shopping.

So what was I looking for today. Well a chance to see a few things up close for once. And mainly war games miniatures. Anything roleplay game wise I have either played, or I'm not interested in. of course do a lot of work in translating many rpgs to German, and so they are also the German distributors for Warmachine/Hordes/Iron Kingdoms, Pathfinder, and a few other things. There were also demo games of Shadowrun taking place, and may be others.

First up is Mice and Mystics a game which looks like Warhammer Quest mixed up with Mouse Guard. Overall the miniatures and production values are high, and looks like a great gateway game to rpgs and minature gaming for kids.

Did I say Zombies were in the year? Actually I'm a bit tired of the genre, but Zombiecide looks kinda interesting and has excellent sculpts and great variety. The game is about survival, and there is a balance between killing stuff and defending the main safe house.You get a ton of nice minis and looks like something worth painting up.

Something random in the halls was Quest, which looked a bit boring to be honest, but they had a version running that worked on a tablet table type device, with could read QR codes or something.

Leaders is something that looks incredibly cool. And perhaps the best example of what tablet based technology can do for a table top game. While Golem Arcana left me unimpressed, where the tablet really just managed the rules and not much more, in the hope that it make people want to play it because the game is then more accessible, yet so far does not offer anything else game play wise other than a bit of resource management that every other war game happens to deal with fine, Leaders is a proper game.

Leaders looks like Risk. But with all the elements of Civ, and pretty much any other RTS, and even Vampire the Eternal Struggle. While the game board shows where forces are distributed, the tablet manages diplomacy (and secret treaties), espionage and spying and assassinations (in a manner that it means you know someone has killed, stolen and destroyed your stuff, but you don't know who), and the management of tech trees. It really looks great, has a great, slick looking app, and really takes advantage of mobile tech to enhance the game, not just act as a middle man for the dice. It makes a game like Civ, or and RTS, the type of thing you can play on the table top.

So Hawk Wargames were there, showing off Drop Zone Commander, a game that fills that "Epic" void. They were showing off a few big pieces, such as the monorail, and a defence laser. Massive terrain pieces that make great objectives. I was really pleased to see the models up close and it may well be something I get into at a later date as the design and style of the armies are a really great departure from Gothic Sci Fi. The Art Deco design is a real strength of the game and the terrain.

Cthulhu Wars were present, showing off the great figures they have for their game. Risk with the Great Old Ones. And so in the way it is in the same vein as Chaos in the Old World, but with bigger figures. I didn't really look into what the system was but I assume Risk with bells and whistles.

I spent a good time talking to the guys from Mantic Games. Now while Warpath and Kings of War are essentially Warhammer and 40K alternatives, Dreadball fills a Bloodbowl shaped hole in the market, and from what I have watched on Beasts of War, it has a great dynamic game play. Now while I don't have photos, Deadzone, and Mantic's latest kickstarter, Mars Attacks, both run on similar systems. So while they have a grid based movement system, line of sight matters. So you need to place things in a grid, but be aware of where exactly. Overall it looks like the Sci Fi skirmish game that will sit nicely with Warmachine.Hordes. Deadzone also has a narrative play style, drawing on concepts similar to those seen in XCOM.

So a few last shots. We have above miniatures for Eden. They look great and is another war game I need to look into. Again the cool thing is that we are now getting war games that can be played on different size tables happily. Eden and Deadzone work on 2 feet square play areas. A useful thing when you really just don't have the space at home.

Another set of excellent figures are for the game, God Slayer, by Megalith Games. The system is a you move something, I move something, with action tokens and more. In essence it seems to allow for a dynamic and reactive game play, and so has some similarities to Inquisitor in the respect. Again lots of novel design, with a fantasy-meets-ancients.

Speaking of Inquisitor, Smog has some excellent, steampunk, 54mm miniatures. But - and here is the kicker - larger scale means that your scenery you have for other games more than likely is not compatible. Bummer.

And speaking of more steampunk - we have Wolsung - which while pretty, and for which Micro Art Studios does great terrain (which is awesome for Warmachine), I just feel a bit steampunked out. Warmachine, while drawing on steampunk concepts, is not just 'our world but gone weird'. But I will still have a look at what useful minis they have for games.

To finish off, my friend and member of my gaming group, Ben, got a great deal on some Terraclips scenery (they gave him two sets and the clips came free), so I have a look at Malifaux. Again more steampunk, Victorian world divergence setting. Meh. Pretty but right now not really giving me something different enough from Warmachine. Wyrd Games's Puppet Wars however does look like a lit of laughs and nicely produced. Something to look into on Sunday perhaps.

Something different I saw on Kickstarter is Ashes - Dark Side of the Moon. Certainly something the Cthulhu Tech crowd will love these.

To finish off we have Titan Forge miniatures, who do GW compatible miniatures, and also their own game, Lobotomy.

Conclusions? There are plenty of war gaming miniature companies out there, and many  provide great alternative to GW for minis for your Warhammer and 40K armies, or entirely new games. It's a real golden age, what with digital sculpting and 3D printing. Plus there are plenty of great boardgames also making use of the same technology.

Finally, some fun pictures from the day, featuring my friend Ben.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

[actual play] Iron Kingdoms - Adamantine Will

Episode 3: Friends in High Places - part 4

The necromancer had fled the scene, and killed as he went. Taking souls for his dark intent. The troupe however could not follow in the chaos. Plus they had a lot to explain to High Captain Kilbride who had just arrived to survey the destruction.

Kilbride seem satisfied that the troupe had cleared their names, and wanted no more of them as they now had the ire of a necromancer to deal with. One of the remaining Paulson Street Rovers found the whole affair reminiscent of the events that had lead to the gang's formation years ago, and how the pistol that was planted on the troupe, the Final Word, had been given to the gang leader at the time to kill a Thamarite sorcerer.

Smek reappeared, and whistled as he looked at the fire. He explained that he had heard Kilbride's words and that now would be a good time for Smith Burrls, Tantock, to be finished off. If they didn't act now things would only get worse. Smek of course knew where Tantock kept his lair.

Smek led the troupe of witch hunters - not that he knew that they were - to Dag's Ward, a filth and refuse filled district, and the dilapidated tenement building that served as Tantock's lair. Smek explained he had figured out where this place was, and noted that Tantock had a cult of some sort. He then explained that there were two ways in - either through the ground floor, or via the sewers. Smek then dangled a key which he said would unlock the door in the sewers, and this was the way in used by the cult. While the troupe discussed what they should do, they turned to ask the Smek show them the way in, but Smek was gone, and had left dangling off a hook the key, and left a cigar butt on the crate he had sat on.

The troupe found the entrance to the sewers, and traipsed through the muck, offal and filth. The stench was foul, and rats scurried about in the gloom. The witch hunters eventually found the underground entrance to the building, and from there they quietly clambered up into the basement of the building.

Tantock droned on, reciting some foul chant and magic. The green glow from the Telgesh runes above his head illuminated the chamber, along with the guttering light from the candles on the altar. A number of his cultists were there with him, waiting, along with two large imposing figures dress in dark armour, carry cruel maces and spiked shields.

Hurst acted quickly, tossing a cinder bomb grenade forward and incinerating two cultists, their dark cloaks consuming them in fire. Gregore charged forward and unleashed a series of hammering blows with his sword, barely harming one of the armour clad followers of Tantock. Brother Eckert had already called upon Morrow's blessing, and the holy runes danced about him, protect both himself and the others. He move forward through the rubble and sent a blast of holy light at another of the cultists. Darcy levelled her rifle. With the cinder bomb and rune light, she could make out a cultist, and with a deafening bang she executed the man.

Gregore continued to engage the armoured cultists, barely surviving as he dodged their murderous weapons. He sword was doing little against them. The cultist themselves had also worked their own magic, and summoned clouds of ash which they could hide behind. Hurst hurled more grenades, the bombs exploding and consuming the cultists in fire. Eckert could barely see the Tantock in the chaos and so eliminated and so called upon another of Morrow's weapons, a holy blast of energy that consumed another of them and also hit Tantock. Darcy reloaded and fired, killing one the of the guardsmen Gregore fought, much to the knight's relief.

The fight was still hard going. Darcy and Ekert unleashed a volley of gun fire and holy fury at Tantock, and in return witness the might of the vile shield of souls that repelled their attacks. Eckert had been struck in the face by the guardsmen's mace, and through the dizziness and blood that blinded him. His own blade met nothing but armour and shield. Hurst threw another grenade and it landed at Tantock's feet, and enveloped him in flame.

Bursting from the flames Tantock charged at Hurst. He had drawn a dark rapier, which glowed  unnaturally, and in one swift move he had driven it through Hurst's chest. Behind his gas mask Hurst just grinned,even as blood trickled from his lips. There was the sharp ping of a pin hitting the floor as Hurst just dropped a concussion grenade. In a blinding flash both he and Tantock were knocked to the ground. Eckert seeing his chance ran forward and drove his trench knife through the chest of the sorcerer. The remaining guard seeing this, stepped back from Gregore and then slit his own throat. Eckert scooped up what items they could take to confiscate, while the books at the altar were burnt.

Outside, the troupe waited as Hurst's grenades, that had been left within the building, exploded, collapsing the building. Smek walked up and clapped in approval, and offered to buy them a pint back at the inn.

At the inn the troupe relaxed with well earned drinks, Gregore waiting for a well earned bath, and Darcy enjoying a good wine Smek had acquired. Stomping in came High Captain Kilbride, and sat down with them, smoking his cigar. Kilbride explained that he was happy that they had dealt with the Thamarite, especially without his prompting. Now what did they want in return?

'Have you heard of a man called Rustiban Vandred?' asked Eckert.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Darker Days Radio Video Review - Mummy: the Curse

So Mummy: the Curse finally arrived at work yesterday, and so I present here, and in the video a brief review.

The book is an excellent print, and is everything you expect from a traditional print run by White Wolf/Onyx Path Publishing. Compared to previous World of Darkness books, it has a glossy cover with embossed text, rather than the glossy text on semi reflective coloured covers. So in that respect the book is more akin to the printing of Classic World of Darkness books.

Of course all the stretch goals have meant that we have a book with high production standards, and this includes a silk bookmark and gilt edging to the pages. You can't even tell that these books had to have their covers removed and replaced.

So my only real critique is that the cover is not quite in the same style as previous New World of Darkness books. But others wise this is a great book and ready for me to use and flick through.