Sunday, 30 November 2014

Warbases Review Video

Not content with merely writing about Warbases, I have also made a YouTube video to show just how amazing they really are.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Reflection on e-Books and Wargaming

I must admit that I am a little frustrated every time I play with my Dark Angels. Inevitably there is a rule that will need checking, or a statline, "how exactly does Grim Resolve work again", etc. I have a physical Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, and I have developed the muscle memory from only about three uses that allow me to jump between the sections I need at will. It also sports an index which makes finding anything really quick and easy.

The triumph of form over function.

Earlier in the year I made the decision to go digital and buy my Codices on my iPad. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I would save space, and the pictures and such look really grand on an iPad display, and additionally the iBook updates as Games Workshop push out the FAQs. However, from a practical standpoint it is simply too clunky. I can't jump between parts of the book quickly, and many is the time I have stood there tapping at the screen, swiping left to try and get to the correct page, while my opponent has to stand there, waiting on me. It simply isn't good enough. I want to move quickly between parts of the book and I feel that even with the ability to pull up rules definitions with a tap it simply isn't very ergonomic. I think that in future I might just stick with a physical copy.

In a similar vein, I have had an even worse experience with Privateer Press's digital content on my iPad. I have the Warmachine Rulebook on there, and as far as I can tell the app never remembers where I last was, nor does it allow me to bookmark anything. Worse, if I let the iPad fall asleep and then unlock it, without leaving the app it doesn't save the state I was last in. Time to open the PDF again. Privateer Press's app suffers from being poorly designed as a functional piece of software that the user will refer to, rather than read continuously.

However, this said, there are instances where wargaming does benefit from the digital revolution. TooFatLardies have for some time published everything they do in PDF format. This has multiple benefits, firstly it is platform independent. I dropped the files onto my Google Drive and can now access them wherever I am, and on any device that can display a PDF. Secondly, the fact that the documents I get from them are only PDFs, means that I can print them if I want. In other words, I can have my rules as soon as I pay for them, and once I do, I can print out those sections of the rulebook which I feel are necessary for reference. Additionally, TooFatLardies also publish quick reference sheets and other useful bits to enable gamers to play. Ultimately, a gamer seldom needs everything in physical media, campaign rules for example, or the army lists at the back of the book, and having a stripped down version of the rules helps in this respect. That said, even the iBook experience isn't all negative. I have several of the painting guides and a have the Kill Team iBook, both of these publications are of such a nature that I don't need them to be overly slick in terms of navigation, and the painting guides are especially nice in the digital format with the increased interactivity.

Campaign systems are perfect for digital platforms

Of course, I can understand why Privateer and Games Workshop have "siloed" their electronic publications, piracy. What they don't want is rules proliferating around the internet for free, and I suppose TooFatLardies have a very loyal following who are likely to pay for something. As an aside, TooFatLardies rules are usually cheaper than GW's or PP's offerings, but that is another conversation. My point is that I have no inherent opposition to either of the methods of access, I just wish the experience was better on the digital front. The fact remains that rulebooks and Codices are reference materials, and therefore they need to be easy to handle, or at least offer the user the opportunity to print out a sort of crib sheet.

I realise that absolutely nothing will change because of this post, however, I do think that I shan't be buying any more Codices in the iBook format. For the money I am paying I would rather get a nice solid book that functions adequately as a reference. Perhaps if the electronic editions were notably cheaper that would be an incentive, but since the prices are more or less equal, they do not even represent a saving. That said, I won't be buying physical copies of the Dark Angels or Imperial Guard codices in addition to my iBook editions, I shall just have to plough on through.

And just to prove that I have done some painting, here is another almost finished member of my Command Squad for my Dark Angels:

Friday, 21 November 2014

A New Place to Play

So this week myself and my long suffering ally in toy soldiers, Taff, set off to visit a wargaming club a stone's throw from home. We had done a recce a fortnight before (the club meets fortnightly) and had found the assembled company pleasant and very welcoming, so we decided to bring toys this week. Taff hasn't played in a while, so we decided to dust off his old Necrons and give the new edition of Warhammer 40k a whirl. I had put on a demo game for Taff's son, Morgan, a few weeks earlier, which he observed, so we were both keen to play a proper game.

Taff's Necrons are from 3rd edition, and predate their reinvention as Tomb Kings in space. So he was fielding an army that lacked many of the shiny things that one commonly sees on the table nowadays. We decided to play 1,000 points, and rolled up Big Guns Never Tire, with the longways deployment. Since I was trying to teach Taff the new rules I didn't take any pictures. When the blind lead the blind photography falls by the wayside. The scenario ended up being a slight boon to me as extra Victory Points could be scored by destroying Heavy Support choices, I had none and Taff had two. Furthermore, there were five objectives up for grabs that were worth 3 VPs each. 

Taff's list looked something like this: 

- Destroyer Lord with a resurrection orb
- 3 Destroyers
- 4 x 5 Necron Warriors
- 5 Flayed Ones
- 2 Monoliths

Taff is competitive player and will never hold back, I felt that I had brought a spoon to a gun fight with my 1000 point Zone Mortalis force of Dark Angels that I painted up for the Hobby Progress Challenge.

- Interrogator-Chaplain
- 7 Deathwing Terminators
- 2 x 10 Tactical Marines
- 6 Scouts
- Ravenwing Bikes

The game played out quite spectacularly with deep striking monoliths wreaking havoc amongst my lines and a Deathwing chainfist carving one of them up before it exploded killing several of my own terminators. My tactical marines, led by my zealous Chaplain tore the Destroyer Lord to pieces. When the game ended it was 10-7 to me, but one of the objectives I had was tenuous, so I suggested we call it a draw. The game was satisfying, despite my total lack of ranged anti-tank assets. The real coup was getting our faces out there and becoming names at the club. Things can only get better and I look forward to the clubs next meet in less than a fortnight's time. 

I realise also that I have been rather quiet on the blogging front lately. In all honesty, I simply haven't had the time for the hobby. I haven't had a day off in over five weeks due to Army courses and commitments, in addition to the busy period at work. The good news is that this weekend I might get Sunday off, which should free up some time to get working on some Dark Angels to give my force some more punch. I took the liberty of ordering the Dark Vengeance, Dark Angels expansion from Element Games which should be waiting for me when I get home. Some more Ravenwing bikes, Deathwing and a flyer can only help with those pesky Monoliths.