Return to Ultramar Event

This weekend I will be participating in a large Apocolypse event. Two other Imperial Guard Players and myself will join forces to halt a massing horde of Orks.  I wrote up a little narrative from the Imperial point of view and figured I would share it here.

___Reciprocation___

 

Not since the first great betrayal experienced by the Sons of Ultramar ten millennia ago had the Five Hundred Worlds witnessed this scale of war.  The Theatre of War being waged by the various forces of Chaos seemed almost all consuming. It was taking virtually all of Guiliman’s various and vast military might to counter the sundry armies of the Ruinous Powers.  Though being currently contained this war was still precariously close to the precipice of defeat. It was under these conditions that a large group of Greenskins entered the Ultima Segmentum from the southern fringes.

The first warnings of this untimely invasion came from astropathic distress calls from the Fortress World of Ongrath.  Guilliman had none of his own prodigney to spare against what theortically seen as the lesser threat. The Ultramarine’s Primarch initially requested the Sons of Garro to lead a coalition of Imperial Forces to the defense of Ongrath. If the relief forces arrived after the fall of Ongrath, then the repulsion of the Xenos threat and the recapture of Ongrath would be the requirement. Nar Estani the Repented, Captain of the 4th Company, Sons of Garro gathered several Guard Regiments from Krieg, Cadia, and Valhalla, along with voluntary assistances from the Order of Our Martyred Lady lead by the venerable Canoness Kane.

To Guilliman this force seemed easily sufficient for the practical application of a complete annihilation against a foe who surely must had suffered under the Cicatrix Maledictum as much as any other race in the Galaxy. No doubt this would have been the case if said force had arrived as expected.  Instead, piecemeal, various Astra Militarum Regiments entered the system. Initially out gunned, the scattered Imperial Navy fleet kited the Ork capital ships while waiting for more of the response armada to arrive and regroup with. Though the bulk of the Guard Regiments had arrive, there was still no word of either the Sons of Garro or the Order of Our Martyred Lady.  Believed to be possibly lost in Warp, word was sent back to Guilliman.

 

Exacerbated by the complications of this nuisance, Guilliman found assistance offered where once it had been given. First was Company Master Helbron of the Dark Angels, freshly in the system as reinforcements. Then came Commander Dante of the Blood Angels, arriving to repay what the Chapter saw was a recent debt to their salvation on Baal.  It was not without a sense of nostalgia that Guilliman thought back to a similar time, many thousands of years ago, when these three Legions worked together for a common cause. Guilliman was grateful that both Dante and Helbron and their respective Chapters would be the spearhead to deal with this threat. Preparing there fleets, both Commanders made good time to Ongrath to lead the resistance.  To their surprise, the Fortress World still stood. They worked quickly to organize the deployment and reinforcement of Ongrath.

At the time of deployment; the Imperial roll call was recorded as such:

 

Astra Militarum
______________________________________________________

Lord Marshal Gallien- overall Astra Militarum Command

317st Cadian Regiment
56th Laurentian Guard Armoured Corp

Death Korps of Krieg Artillery Regiment 4077, 3rd Company

42nd Valhallan Armored Regiment, 6th Company

reinforced with Abhuman Auxiliary Platoon
1516th Super Heavy Regiment
2nd New Caledonian Super Heavy Regiment

Unknown Catachan Warrior

Knight Houses

______________________________________________________

House Raven
House Hawkshrowd


Titan Legions

______________________________________________________

Legio Metallica


Adeptus Astartes

______________________________________________________

Company Master Helbron

Dark Angels 5th Company, reinforced

 

Lord Commander Dante

Sanguinary Guard

Blood Angels 1st Company

Blood Angels 2nd Company

Reinforced with 10th Company Scouts.

 

++-Redacted-++

Squad Blood Ravens

 

The Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition

______________________________________________________

Inquisitor Indalicia Sobrino de Hidalgo

Deathwatch Librarian Drasar Qarem

++-Redacted-++ Strike Force Raven Guard

++-Redacted-++ members of the Officio Assassinorum

Spring Hobby Wrap Up

We’re into Summer now and it’s high time I gave a report on the status of Hobby.  Since Adepticon I hadn’t had much time to attend any events other then wonderfully casual tournament at Flipside Gaming in Albany.  I did make it up with much painting.

March/April – A Deluge of Blood Angels

Back in March I gave a bit of hint with my Captain Slamginius on what I was working.  Technically it was for a run with a competitive list.  Thankfully though, they were all units I wanted anyways.  Otherwise I might have been really disappointed at the big FAQ and the beta change to deep striking on the first turn.  I am reminded why it is the narrative and hobby aspects of this game I love so much.  With that, saw hello to reinforcements to my Blood Angels 2nd Company, Dante’s Sanguinary Guard, and additional characters.

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Captain Slamginius, the old Captain of 2nd Company that fell to the Black Rage on Baal during the Tyranid invasion.
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Another addition to the Angel’s Priestly order.  Basically I needed a guy with a jump pack and a chainsword.
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The Terminator I’d had sitting around for more then a year half finished.  The Jump Pack Librarian was built in April.
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Primaris Ancient, a model I wish that was available outside the Starter Box.  I’d paint one up for every Chapter if I could.
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Five additional Sanguinary Guard with a Sanguinary Ancient

 

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Three new Primaris Marine Squads for my 2nd Company.  I’m missing several transfers because I couldn’t find my transfer sheet.

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10th Company also received some love.
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Lemartes needs some Death Company, done to his standard.

I also painted up some random other models I had sitting around in April.

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Two Tech-Priest Enginseers
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Cataphractii Terminators for my Horus Heresy Ultramarines.  I’m definitely not a fan of the bare sergeant head.  I plan to replace it in the future.

Though most of these were started in March, the bulk was done in April.  Definitely a productive month.

May/June – The Guard Ride Again

On to May and into June.  Technically the first week of May was finishing up the above models.  Then I decided to go back to a model that had been sitting primed for sometime…

It’s still not done, needing some details painted and transfers.  But I’m happy with it thus far.

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Then my actual commitment for the month.

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My Shadowsword!  This is a super heavy I’ve been wanting for some time.  And I painted up just in time for a big Apoc game occurring this weekend (more on that later).

For the event, I was also trying to crank out some of my remaining Guard vehicles.

Unfortunately I did not completely finish them, but very close.

So what’s up next?  Well this weekend is a giant Apocalypse game with friends in Albany.  Then its time for something completely different.

Lemon Meringue Pie?  No, Harlequins.

 

Post Adepticon Roundup

Its been over a month since I loaded up the truck with Family and hobby stuff and struck out from Southern Ontario to the Windy City Suburbs.  Having recovered sufficiently and completed my Black Library Open Submission, I figured it was time to look back at the fun that was Adepticon.  This was my second year attending but my first being there for the full week.  And boy, what a trip.

The first half of the con was very mellow, much of it spent hanging out with the family, doing some shopping and hitting the pool.  I attended the Preview event by Games Workshop which was rather enjoyable and most of that content is available elsewhere. There was an FAQ following that was typically fruitless, so I decided to ask a question that was bugging me; when is “Made to Order” coming to Forge World and old Specialist Games? Though they have done Made to Order Blood Bowl and Necromunda, I was hoping for Man O War, Epic/Space Marine, and Battlefleet Gothic.

Exhibition hall was a dangerous place.  The first time around I had my wonderful wife Lisa with me to keep in check and be an enabler at the Forge World counter.  However it didn’t stop and the loot pile continued to grow…

I signed up for a couple of hobby workshops.  First up was Mr. Justin’s weathering class where we went over chipping with the salt method and hairspray method, which were techniques I’ve heard of but have never knew how they worked.  The second workshop was painting black and white with Caleb and Kat of CK Studio, another excellent learning opportunity.

Much of the week was spent hanging out with the family around the pool or locally.  I also had the opportunity to meet up with some of the folks who I’d met online in the community, such as Lucas (SonsofMedusa on the NPC Discord group).  First and foremost was Peter from the NGC 40K Podcast in which I was have some very enjoyable and enlightening conversations with.  Peter did much to help me solidify my own ideas for the recent Black Library submission which I completed.  To this end I also attended the “Writing for Black Library” panel which had BL authors Graham McNeil and Clint Werner to answer people’s question.  Hugely informative, that alone would be it’s own blog post so I won’t regurgitate it here.  This event was a huge pleasure as I was able to meet Graham, along with Clint and BL’s Adam Poole.  Definitely a panel I will attend again in the future.  Lastly I had the pleasure of meeting David Annandale at the Forge World area of the Exhibition hall.  I spoke briefly with him and had him sign a copy of “Warden of the Blade” which I had brought to read, not knowing he was going to be there.

As for gaming I ended up dropping out of the Combat Patrol on Saturday and but did attend a Horus Hersey Zone Mortalis event.  This was a double first for me, first Zone Mortalis and first game of Horus Hersey!  I played three excellent opponents whose name as I write this slip my mind (which I have written down in my Battle Journal at home..).  I’ll cut to the chase.  I lost all three.  Some to a poorly optimized list, which I stubbornly refused to switch, some due to poor choices, and finally some due to cheese.
Here’s my overly elite force of 500 poitns:

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Delegatus with a Gladius, ten Breachers with two Meltaguns and a Contemptor with a Twin Lascannon.

My first game was played on an “exterior” board being fought in an industrial area and amounted to “King of the Hill”.  My Breachers made it to the top but slowly died to a 15 man Tactical Squad of Sons of Horus while my Contemptor met his fate at the hands of Cataphrati Terminators.

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“Just some Tactical Marines?  No problem!”

My second game was against Emperor’s Children, including a Tactical Squad, a Tactical Support Squad, and a some dudes with fancy spears.  This game was really close!  The idea was to get to your opponents deployment zones.  I combat squad my Breachers and sent them up the left and right.  The left hand side was cut down by the Phoenix Guard in power armour but the right side mowed down his Tactical Support with Volkite in short order thanks to the Contemptor.  My Contemptor went charging after my oppenents other flank but the game ended on Turn 5, just shy of the Dreadnought finishing them off.  So close to victory!

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My last game was a complete wash.  My opponent was a nice guy but my luck had totally abandon me.  He had a Word Bearer force (the perfect opponent) and what looked like much like mine.  10 Man Tactical, So sort of character and a Contemptor,  one of those Mhara Gal Tainted one.  Who knew it could walk through walls?

The Mhara Gal closed quickly with my forces and so my own Contemptor moved up to intercept.  Being only 3″ away, I rolled boxcars.  They had a system in which I could re-roll a dice but that would give my opponent a re-roll which he could use whenever and would be past back and forth like such.  So this seems to be the obvious case.  So I grab one of the dice and re-rolled it.  Once again a single pip on the die face stared up to me.  I had failed a charge distance of 3″ twice.  In his following turn.  His Mhara Gal took down my own Contemptor in one round and started wading into my Breachers the following turn.  Even my Meltaguns missed.  Fate had turned against me and that game ended as quick as it began, Breachers being slaughtered wholesale by the Tainted Dreadnought.

 

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with family.  On Sunday I got the chance to hang out with Todd and Warboss Dugg from TABLEWAR and helped them tear down their display.  I got in a game with Doug against his Ultramarines.  I looked forward to this game as a learning experience because Doug is a veteran tournament player and that is one of the weaker aspects of my own play.  We played basically Relic with the Open War deck.  I won’t get into specifics but Doug out played me combined with my historic bad luck (apparently make charges is not my thing) Doug got the relic deep into his lines and my Beta strike with my Blood Angels was blunted by his screening.  None the less, it was a pleasure playing him.

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I was able to meet or see again some of the fine people of the fine people of the community, either podcasters or one of the many Facebook groups such as Carl, Adan, and Justin of Indepedent Characters, Peter of the NGC 40K, Blake and Ed of Life After the Cover Save, Chris Morgan of Forge the Narrative, Jason, Jon, and Brendan of the Sons of Heresy,  Caleb and Kat of CK Studios, Dave Gromely and Elizabeth Apke whom I know through the 1Houranight Facebook community, Scott, Kendrick, Nick, and Jarad from Upstate New York, Ted from Alaska, Tim from Appleby GW Store, and many others who’s name has slipped my mind.  This time around was a blast and I definitely plan to attend again next year.

Winter is still here and here’s a hobby update.

Note: This post was originally written before Adepticon in the middle of March.  I didn’t make any changes to keep it simple.  I just forgot to publish it two weeks ago.

It has been a hectic first two months of 2018.  I’ve been challenged to keep up with most of my commitments but so far I’ve done so to a limited success.  My writing here is has been sporadic but I have been making at least two posts a month (ideally I would like to get one a week).  Likewise I’ve completed my hobby commitments for January and February, albeit February was about a week into March.  Adepticon is rapidly approaching and I need to get cracking so I finally got some good pictures of my work and wanted to share them here.

 

January’s Commitment – 10 Man Novamarine Tactical Squad.

Good friend Jason of the “Masters of the Forge” podcast is forming a plan around a fan update to one of Warhammer 40,000’s greatest campaigns: The Badab Wars.  Its unofficial title, Bulging for Badab, is meant to be a way for armies of the various points in time to be included in the Badab Wars, including much the newly released Primaris Marines.  I’ve always really loved the numerous Chapters that were developed for this campaign and have been tempted to paint any number of them.  I settled on Novamarines.  Using some MK IV Tactical Squad I purchased on the cheap used, I re-purposed for the first unit.  I had some success with the unit except I need to get custom transfers from some where as most of the Badab Chapter’s transfer sheet are long out of print.  Unfortunately the Novamarines  will be going on the back burner for now as I work on other projects for events.

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February’s Commitment – 10 Breachers, 1 Contemptor.

For February I wanted to work on my Zone Mortalis force for Adepticon.  However, I found myself distracted at the beginning of the month painting some Blood Angels.  A Blood Angels Captain which had been sitting on my work desk for nearly three years when I first started the army…

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Following this, I kept the Blood Angel train rolling with a fun Forge World project in which I grab as many of their older kits that I can before they disappear forever.  In this case, the Venerable Chaplain Dreadnought:

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I need to still put transfers on this bad boy.  But now I have TWO Dreadnought HQs for the Angels of Death.

Finally though with the deadline approaching, and only a week before Adepticon, I finished my Horus Heresy Ultramarine Breachers:

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And the Contemptor:

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With this all done I’m trying to get as many Blood Angels as I can get done before Adepticon but I will need for April 7th.   No problem, right?

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This is to make my Blood Angels a little “Netlisty”.  Even including the now very popular Captain “Slamginius”…

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Well, until next time, happy hobbying!

Goldensprue GT 2018 Recap

One of things I’ve begun doing this year is keeping a “Battle Journal”.  Yes that really silly book Game Workshop released.  One of my goals this year was to play more games of Warhammer 40,000 (but in reality, any game will do) and I thought this might be a fun way to both keep track an even encourage.  So far this year, I’ve played in two events and one local friendly game, giving me a total of 8 games played.  I thought a recap might be a fun exercise.

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Yep, it’s Games Workshop “Battle Journal”.  Please excuse the doodles.

Goldensprue – January 13th and 14th, 2018 – Day One

The premiere event of the New York State’s Capitol Region and more importantly the recent event of some good friends in the Albany area, this is a tournament I would not necessarily go to if it were not for the fine people there.  I went into day one wanting to lose my first game (sad I know) in order to put myself in the loser bracket so I could actually have some fun.  I brought a list that’s quite common for me, a “Kitchen Sink” list of Blood Angels.

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My Goldensprue 2018 Army.  Missing from photo: Seven Death Company.

I call it a Kitchen Sink list because other then two Tactical Squads, every other unit is unique making it virtually a Highlander list.  I bring what I have painted and what I’ll enjoy playing with. I also continue to work on my Blood Angel display board.  It’s meant to be a ruined portion of some city on Baal.  Its coming along but still really needs something to pop.

My first game was against a wonderful chap from Connecticut (I think, I’ve misplaced my Battle Journal to reference it).  He was playing Astra Militarum in a pretty tight list.  Lots of Infantry Squads, Veteran Squads, Leman Russ Battle Tanks, Hellhounds and Sentinels.  He was using the Tallarn Regimental rules so this meant Veteran Squads filled with meltaguns were up close and personal with outflanking while the Infantry Squads provided the screen for heavy weapon teams and Leman Russ’.  Due to some pretty poor rolls my big assault units, whom had deep striked down, none actually got into combat. This basically ensured they became target practice for the guard.  It was all downhill after that which accomplished exactly what my goal was; to lose soundly.  There was definitely some stratagems I could have used to help get that initial Beta strike to hit however I hadn’t practiced with my Blood Angels and did not know my stratagems well. My opponent was very friendly and his army was great.  The Guard infantry was all original pewter (Rogue Trader era) while his tanks were from Forge World, so I had a lot of appreciation for facing his army.

My second game was against the local “Papa Nurgle” himself, Pat.  Definitely a fun game and the reason I make the trip.  He had a mix of Nurgle Daemon and some Death Guard (Mortarion).  Pat had access to a preview copy of the Daemon Codex and it showed.  Here’s a hot tip to you all out there.  Do not charge 25 dameon Plaguebearer units.  They’re rather tough. Despite taking Mortarion down (which thanks to some fantastic rolling on Pat’s part, took the better part of three turns) I lost this game handily.  Mono God Daemons list, at least pertaining to Nurgle, have some fantastic overlapping buffs creating relatively fast, tough, and damaging servants of the Plague God list.

 

My third and final game of Day One was against another wonderful local, James and his Angels Vermilion.

It was the Battle of Blood with Sanguinor leading a host against its parent Chapter.   Honestly another battle I assumed I was going to lose due to some initial mess up.  I dropped my jump assault troops  first only to have them counter assaulted by James’ own assault units. Even Dante was cut down.  It was the armour and Tactical Squads that carried the day. With my assault units taking out his range, my own ranged troops whittled his James’ remaining forces until even the Sanginor fell to a barrage of Assault Cannon fire.  It was appropriate very bloody and I edge out a victory over this worthy opponent.

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Is that the face of Hersey?  Or maybe I should look in a mirror…

 

Day Two

Day Two everyone was split into three groups.  The top eight continued the tournament. Other competitive players began an RTT.  And the people who liked to have fun played in a friendly event.

The first game I played with yet another local, and good friend, Josh with his crafty Craftworld Eldar.  I brought out my Astra Militarum for this battle.  I built a real jerk list by bringing not one but TWO super heavy tanks.  Admittedly one is a Macharius Vanquisher which is a glorified Leman Russ.  None the less I reassured that, as mean as it looked, this list was incredibly flawed. Especially his well rounded force of Space Elves would trounce it easily.  Such is the way with self-fulfilled prophecies.

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“I got a bad feeling about this…”

We had a table with city runes and a really weird deployment where one side has a narrow strip in the center going half way up the board.  With my army being entirely mechanized I suggested I should be a convoy that gets ambushed by Josh’s Eldar.  My strongest element, a Stormlord being “buffed” by a Trojan, was making handy work of those sneaky xenos. The tide turned when Fire Dragon successfully took down the Macharius Vanquisher.  I told Josh to roll to see if it exploded.  He was unsuccessful.  He then decides to spend a command point to re-roll and promptly rolls a 6.  BOOM.  Not only did the the Fire Dragons take the brunt of the explosion, so did my entire army, popping other damaged vehicles and taking a chuck out of the Stormlord.  With victory in sight, the Eldar made their move and went in for the kill.  It was shortly over.

My second game of Day Two and final of the Tournament was against yet another local, Connor and his Death Guard.  This game I played a more traditional strategy of turtling up in the corner.  Despite a fairly furious barrage from IG, the incredibly resilient Death Guard hit my lines and it was game over.

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A good old game of keep away.

At some point the Daemon Prince got into grips with the Stormlord. Out came it’s defenders, a Priest, a Company Commander and Oygrns.  Problem was, only the Orgyn unit made it into combat and lacking the buffs of the Priests, didn’t quite have the punch to take down the Daemon Prince.  It was valiant fight but for not. As the sun set on this losing battle, the Basilisk and Macharius Vanquisher began a withdrawal to save their valuable equipment from the corruption of Nurgle.

With that I had won one game out of five, but I still really enjoyed myself.  A big thanks goes out to all the crew of the Upstate Honor Guard and especially Adam for another fantastic event.  If you haven’t been and you live remotely close to the Northeastern U.S., do yourself a favour and check out the Goldensprue GT.  Its run annually at the Melvin Roads American Legion (which means there’s a bar!).

This piece is long enough so shortly I’ll touch on a Friendly Narrative event and my most recent game in a later post.

Top Ten Video Games of 2017

We’re only a month and change into 2018.  It’s not to late to talk about 2017 still, is it?

2017 has been a fantastic year for video games. You may have come here expecting a purely hobby based blog, however this is not the case. It is a blog for all of my interests and one thing I have made effort this year is to find some balance between my two favourite hobbies: Miniature Wargaming and Video Games.  To that end I have endeavored to keep up with some of 2017’s games and do up a Top Ten List for the year.

To start things off I have some honourable mentions.

Night in the Woods – I just started playing this game after picking it up during the Holiday Steam sale.  I only wished I had played this earlier in the year so that it could make it on my list.  I’m about halfway through the game and it is just magical.  Whether it is the haunting recreation of a small rust belt town, or the anamorphic characters who so closely resemble real people in dialogue and action. This story has a sincerity to it, something games rarely accomplish.  The aesthetics, though simple, communicate the characters and settings so well.  Finally the music of this game wraps it up neatly.  There some really catchy tunes in the band practice, and though typically I’m  terrible at rhythm games, I find myself practicing so that I don’t disappoint those in game friends I’ve grown to love so much.  Be warned though, this is a heavy story.  One grounded in reality, a challenge that any number of us might face.

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Metroid: Samus Return – I wanted to like this game and get more into it.  Metroid 2 on the Game Boy was the first of that series I ever beat without Game Genie or walkthrough.  But for some reason I just didn’t have the motivation to go back to this game.  I mention it only because I did enjoy what I played and didn’t overly mind the shift to polygonal graphics for a 2D entire of the Metroid series, but it didn’t capture me like previous entries.  Still I hope to finish the game in 2018.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Probably the most enjoyable Legend of Zelda in a decade or so, when our family first picked up the Nintendo Switch in January, it was the reason to get it.  The first 10 hours or so I found myself getting lost in this living world, beautiful, vibrant and filled numerous encounters and experiences.  So why is this game not on my top ten?  Well because I bounced off the game. Not for usual reasons. My daughter picked the game up and became obsessed with it.  I watch in her the same enchantment I felt when I first played numerous classics on the NES that I had gone on to enjoy and obsessed over.  It become more enjoyable for me to watch my daughter experience the highs and lows of Hyrule, and live through her vicariously.

And now for the actual top ten.

10. Destiny 2 – I had fun with Destiny 2, which I can’t say as much with the first Destiny.  As a mostly solo player, I actually enjoyed going through the campaign, jumping into World Events, and getting up to the level cap in a relatively quick manner.  I did not raid, though watching the Giant Bomb’s incredibly lengthy stream of Leviathan, which did not motivate me to start it. The characters this time around were sufficiently memorable and especially the voice work of Nathan Fillion as “Cayde” worked very well to bring some humour and breviary to what was otherwise a very dour situation for the Guardians of the Light. But at the end of the day, Destiny 2 is about shooting, and that shooting was on point and fun enough to warrant the 10 or so hours that the campaign took.

9. Tacoma – An interesting story driven game where you play the part of investigator trying to determine what happened at a catastrophic accident at Tacoma Space Station.  This involves an interesting mechanic in which you are able to replay portions of the computer memories that are displayed as simple holograms representing the people and their conversations. In any given section, there could be several events happening simultaneously in which you must rewind and reposition yourself so that you can see all sides of the story.  The story is intriguing and paints a dystopian future (which seems inevitable these days)  in which corporations of future more influence of everyday happenings with little government regulation.  Another game in which the characters are very relatable.

Tacoma_CrewMeeting.png8. Dead Cells – During the Giant Bomb deliberations, Producer Jason was denied the chance to include Dead Cells as part of the discussion.  Still being in early access, is not considered “released” for 2017.  Well I have no such misgivings so I’ll happily include the game on my list.  This a 2D game, pixel art based, Metroidvania, roguelike.  Did I lose you?  Seemly this category is chalk full of remarkable and not so remarkable entries. This game does not bring much new to the table, instead polishes the game to being one of the best of its kind.  The combat is tight but frantic, never giving you too much down times. There is numerous weapons combinations feel valid, with no one set sticking out as the best.  Finally the animations and aesthetics help to back up the gameplay,  making a grim world in which you collect souls and use them to purchase upgrades in some sort of pixelated purgatory.  And honestly, this early access game has more polish than many full releases.

9. Yakuza 0 – I’m sorry, this game has Stttttyyyyyyllllleeee (deep voice, sound sleezy). The Yakuza series is a brawler RPG out of Japan that started on the PlayStation 2 back in the early 2000s. Yakuza 0 takes a look at its roots, which in this case is Japan in the Eighties. The height of the Japanese Economic bubble, the money and champagne flowed like Dōtonbori Canal in Osaka. You play a rookie Yakuza thug that has the making of someone great, while rival clans fight over a booming real estate. In this environment you are set up as a fall guy to give someone else an advantage but in the process bring down your own family. Thus begins your story of revenge. Both characters that you play have a swagger, cocky youths that aren’t afraid to throw around their weight. But it’s not just the characters, it’s also the setting. Neon lights and numerous night clubs dot questionable neighbourhoods in Urban Japan that never sleep.  This game has bravado to it, and it is both earned and deserved.

Yakuza-0-Accolades-Trailer.jpg6. Wolfenstein 2 – This game is not a great shooter, especially on a gamepad.  But I was not here for the shooting, I’ll leave that to Destiny 2 and last year’s Doom.  I came for the story.  Really.  Though if you played through all of the first Wolfenstein: The New Order, you already knew that this game went places.  An alternative universe in which the Nazis won and now occupy much of the Western World.  Much of the game focuses on the US, with most white people choosing to side with Nazis while much of the minorities are not really given the choice. To say that this game may hit a little close to home in the current American climate may be an overstatement, but there is definitely a statement being made here.  Nonetheless this is first and foremost a first person shooter power fantasy.  At the end of the first game we are left believing that the main protagonist, BJ Blazkowicz, dies in the final encounter.  This game opens with a timely rescue of BJ.  While still recovering, Nazi’s attack your base of operations, requiring you to once again kick some ass.  It is with some humour that the entire first level is done from BJ being in a wheelchair having not fully healed.  From there, not even the sky is the limit.

5. Super Mario Odyssey – What a delightful game.  It’s wonderful to have something so upbeat and crafted so well. In this strange adventure you try to prevent Princess Peach from being wed to Bowser (stylish sporting a white tux with top hat).  The game introduces Cappy, a ghost that takes the form of hat that possess nearly anything, and take Mario with it.  Most mobile, and some not so mobile objects, creatures, enemies, and friends can all be possessed by Mario with the help of Cappy. This leads to whatever being possessed donning a red Mario cap and mustache which leads to some great gags and a variety of gameplay situations.  The control is tight and many of the worlds are incredibly flavorful.  Rather then stars, you’re seeking out Lunas to power your airship so that you can catch bowser.  Rather then having a single Luna at the end of a sprawling level, there is many spread everywhere in the world, meaning that exploration is greatly rewarded.

4. What Remains of Edith Finch – A story of a young woman from a curse family, returning home to discover who she is and who her family was.  This game is very short, only about two hours long.  But it makes up for this in many little vignettes that are incredible emotional.  Due to the nature of the Finch’s family curse, most members come to an untimely demise, too young in life. So the subject is definitely heavy.  Yet it touches these things in a much more sensitive manner then video games traditional do.  But it wasn’t just the stories that held me.  The setting of Edith’s family’s home is whimsical.  This big beautiful house is eclectic and feels lived in, with every nook and cranny filled with objects of interest.  Do not fall trap to those calling this a walking simulator.  The game more than makes up for any lack of action.

What-Remains-of-Edith-Finch_20170424172157.jpg3. Assassin Creed Origins – This game was a real surprise for me.  I’ve never really been a fan of the series, and this game was nowhere on my radar.  It was watching a Quick Look that I started seeing the setting, Greek and Roman era Egypt, that my interest was piqued.  You play the last “Medjay” a sort of Ancient Egypt cop, that travels around helping people.  The who assassination part of the game seems sideline for mainly exploring and doing quests for people.  But for me the real pleasure comes in the exploration.  Alexandria and the Great Lighthouse.  Giza and the Great Pyramids.  Memphis, the old capitol.  What really makes this shine though is the obvious effort to make to research the setting and make it as accurate as possible.  Down to fields of grains being period appropriate (according to my good friend, a Botany Nerd).  The main character, Bayek, is sympathetic character and actually a really nice person.  He’s friendly with children, respectful of his Elder and willing to give anyone a hand, whether Egyptian, Nubian, or Greek.  In other words, completely the opposite to the usual attitude filled assholes who lead Assassin Creed games. Though there are still small parts in which you control a “future person” who’s having this entire experience through the Animus, these parts are very short lived can be almost complete skipped.  The Action RPG elements do feel tacked on, but hardly take away from the experience.  I’m still happily paying this game into the New Year.

2. Nier: Automata – I love that Japanese games are back.  They are my first love.  Nintendo, Sega, NEC and the numerous third party Japanese developers that made for those systems.  This strange game is the brainchild of Yoko Taro, a bizarre Japanese developer. The game revolves around you playing Androids, built by humans to fight Machines that invaded Earth hundreds of years ago and were built by Aliens.  The thing is, no has seen any Humans or Aliens.  Much of this games spends its time questioning many basic things about Human emotion, what it means to be alive, to have a soul.  Very esoteric stuff.  And you do all this while hacking apart machines who are also having the same conversation, denying them the right of existence or self-determination.  This game goes places.  I can’t even begin to list on all the subjects that are touched on.   The combat can seem a little shallow, especially compared to other Platinum entries. I still enjoyed it.  Much of the mechanics is a bit obtuse, however the customization of your Android’s “Chip set” is crazy, even allowing you to pull out the OS Chip (which results in your Android crashing and getting a Game Over).

1. Horizon: Zero Dawn – This game seemed sadly overshadowed by the similar play style of Breath of the Wild.  This Playstation 4 exclusive is a gorgeous entry from the makers of Killzone.  It is very much not like their previous games, a Third Person sweeping adventure where you play the as the female protagonist named Aloy.  The world in which you play is fairly large and vast open world, absolutely stunning though it can feel empty at times.  The setting is a post apocalyptic one, the reason being a main story point which I will not spoil.  In this world, the humans are thrown back to a time equivalent of Medieval times.  Much of the world is covered in the ruins of another time.  More importantly the world is also home to thousands of robots who tend to mimic animals in look and action. These robots will either flee or fight and through them comes much of the crafting in the game

81SZo-WN6fL._SL1500_.jpgAll the recent tropes of open world games are here, from an unwieldy inventory, leveling and skills, crafting, armour, weapons, and even tower(ing) robots to scale in order to uncover more of the map.  What really makes this stand out as my number one game of 2017 is the story, which I found riveting, the setting that supported that setting and its characters.  Having some of the best visuals of the year and incredible soundtrack and folley work to back it up (it doesn’t take long to learn the sound of a dangerous attack coming from behind) helps overcome others of this list.  Finally what cements its position is the enjoyment of actually playing this game.  Whether it be hunting the robots, overcoming some of the larger variants, exploring or complete story driven quests, this game never felt like a chore.  It is actually the first game I received the platinum trophy, it was relatively easy thanks to being fun to complete every facet.

If you’re still reading, thank you.  If you’re here for miniature painting, don’t worry, an update on the Novamarines and plans for Adepticon are coming.

Until next time,
Mike

Hobby Goals for 2018 and Current Hobby Progress

It had not been my intention for such a gap between posts, but with recent lost in the family my time has been split between family and work and leaving little for my hobbies.

That being said I’ve also pushed back plans I had for another retrospective look back into 2017 in Video Games.  Look for that shortly.

Last year I attempted to complete a “Closet of Shame” Challenge over on the One Hour a Night Facebook group.  I did not reach my goal, only about 2/3rds of it.  Thus I’m still staring at my closest, full of shame.

Closet_of_Shame2018.JPG
Look at all that shame.  And it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

 

A promise I have made to my significant other is that I would really reduce the number of uncompleted kits in my possession.  Either through actually completing them or selling them off.  Ideally I’d rather complete them as selling them always just seems like losing money.  That being said, sanity and happiness in the home is more important then money.

Rather then just list every single thing I have, I’m going to break it down into the project I want to contribute to this year.  The big theme this year is “Outside the Comfort Zone”.  In addition to specific projects, there’s two major goals I have.

Goal #1 – Use my airbrush.  I’ve taken the CK Studio course, I’ve been to Aaron Lovejoy’s panel.  I don’t expect myself to do everything with it, but I know it will speed the process up.  It’s just a matter of getting a set up in my rather smallish office that I share with my significant other.

Goal #2 – Play more games! I purchased that silly battle journal and I’m determined to use it!  Honestly though, if I hadn’t attend a hand full of tournaments, I would have played three or four games at most.  Part of it means getting out of my comfort zone to play with people I don’t know as well locally since my good friends who I usually play with do not have the free time to play.

Goal #3 – Go on MiniWargaming.  I live like 45 minutes from them.  What am I doing?

On to the projects, these are NOT listed in order of priority:

First up is my Horus Hersey Ultramarines.

Commitments07.JPGThis army has a 1000 points already completed. My goal is to get this up to 3000 points.  I’m signed up for Zone Mortalis at Adepticon, so that will be 750 points right there.  I have Breacher Squad and Contemptor Dreadnought to complete for this among a few other things.  The biggest item will be my Legion Glaive.  It was such a disappointment to not get this thing done last year.  But being the centre piece of this army, I want it to be magnificent.  To date, all models have been done with rattle cans and brush work.  My goal is to start doing base coats with airbrush but nothing fancy as I want it to match the current stuff.  So no fades or modulation.

My second goal is a new army.  Novamarines!

Novamarine_Tac_Squad01.JPG
My current efforts on a Novamarines Tactical Squad this month.

Can I gush a moment at how much I love the background and the Chapters of the Badab War?  I feel like with the passing of Alan Bligh and the out of print status of the books has only increased my desire.  A discussion went on a discord channel for the Masters of the Forge people about doing something similar to the “Tales of Four Warlords” from White Dwarf, however it would be done with a Badab twist.  Renamed something like “Warlords of Badab” (since it will have more then four people), people started claiming their chapters of choice.  Funny thing for me is there’s at least five if not more Chapters I would happily do, but I landed on Novamarines for this.  I really need to lay out a plan of exactly what I’m going to paint up for this army, rather then the just seemly random nature I tend to go with.  All that I’ve done is buy a ton of minis off a friend.  Its something I need to think about.  And quarter scheme?  Totally outside my comfort zone.

3rd is a Xenos army!  I don’t have a Xenos army.  I’ve love Eldar since the beginning.  I had a small force in 2nd Edition that I sold off.  Over the last year or so I’ve picked up both Craftworld and Dark Eldar kits I’ve wanted to do up.  But right now this is really on the back burner as I have some higher priorities.

4th will be my first Age of Sigmar army, to potentially be done in conjunction with some friends from Albany.  I’ll be focusing on Death, though not specifically which faction.  I currently have some Death Rattles and Vampires Counts.

5th Complete two Blood Bowl teams.  Humans and Dwarves.

Sadly nothing exciting to add to that last one.  So that’s my broad hobby goals for 2018.  Age of Sigmar and Ultramarines are expected to be focus on up front.

Thanks for reading.

Mike.