Bristol Blitz 2013

Thoughts Before

The Bristol Blitz, my second tournament, is in one week (as of writing) and is hosted at Vanguard Wargaming. As soon as we finished the ManticBowl, I wanted to be at another tournament. I fell for tournament play hard.

This time, we have convinced Oli to come out with us – he’s one of the first people that I introduced to DreadBall, and the one who has come back for more (though in fairness, he lives closer than almost all of the others and has his own transport). Although he plans to get his own kit, he’ll be borrowing a team for this tournament.

So just like pushing to try and get the Corporation ready in time for the ManticBowl, I’ll be pushing to try and get the Judwan ready in time for the Bristol Blitz (and therefore leave the finishing touches on all the other teams for another day…)

The rules pack is based on the ManticBowl pack, with a couple of tweaks. The biggest two are the tournament points system and the “Secret Objectives”. At the Bristol Blitz, tournament points are all one higher than at ManticBowl and even a loss will give you a point – and in addition, conceding a game will be penalised. I’m not sure what the purpose of this rule is, but it’s being organised by veteran Blood Bowl players so maybe that’s something they’ve gotten used to over the years.

I noticed that “painted teams” was clarified in the Bristol pack as being “three colours” – ManticBowl just required painted models, and I did see a Z’zor team that appeared to be sprayed a single colour. I didn’t get close enough to be able to tell for certain though, that’s what it looked like from 6 feet away.

The Day

Well, Secret Objectives turned out to be… difficult to balance. The organisers said that this was the only game system for which their secret objectives didn’t work. In the end, they decided to drop them from the tournament.

It was a much smaller and laid-back affair than the ManticBowl. There were only six players overall (including myself, Jen and Oli!) so the tournament pack wasn’t adhered to slavishly (I noticed one team had only been undercoated in purple) and the Swiss system essentially meant that in the final round, we could either avoid duplicate matchups (meaning the top player played the bottom player) or follow Swiss matchings (so at least two games would be duplicates). We went for avoiding duplicates, but Jen and I played each other again – in fairness, neither of us remembered that we played each other in the first game, and even Oli thought that he’d played Jen that day! (turns out that he had, game two – which just confused me and Jen further!)

As for teams, Jen took roughly the same Corporation as she did to the ManticBowl (moving the skills from Jacks to Strikers), I took Marauders again (this time with an offensive coach and two coaching dice) and Oli took Judwan with four skill increases. Between them, the other players took two Corporation teams (one from each season) and a Judwan team.

Game One – Jen’s Corporation

In my defence for remembering nothing about this game, I play Jen all the time. The only thing that I remember about it is setting a net of goblins that she kept falling over in. It ended as a win to me.

Oli did get a quick snap for evidence of our first game though:

2013-05-25 11.38.29

I will be taking better notes next time!

Game Two – Liam’s Judwan

I found the Judwan frustrating – I got a landslide loss against them. The game was going well for the first half, as I had completely blocked off the three-point strike zone, although I wasn’t able to score points myself due to awful luck (every single scatter in the game moved the ball closer to my strike zones) and excellent double-up misdirects from the aliens. The most-used action was Steal, as we attempted to get the ball back off each other – with goblins and Judwan, this can take a while and often three actions in a single rush were all Steals! When I brought on an extra player to get the ball back from the far end of the pitch, one of my blockers was sent off from the three-point strike zone and from then on, I found it difficult to recover.

Game Three – Cai’s S2 Corporation

Cai was new to the game, and managed to beat me (although not by a landslide). Good use of Running Interference and blocking the bonus point hexes put me at a disadvantage, as well as forcing all of my coaching dice out early. We finished in good time, and I spent the rest of the game watching Oli and Liam’s “Jud-off” – despite predictions of a dull and quick game, they found instead that the score varied constantly, the Judwan caught the ball from launching and scored over and over again. In the end, Oli managed to scrape a win – his first non-landslide of the day and Liam’s first loss of the day. He had been lucky with his skills and extremely lucky with his dice (the cry of “Stop rolling sixes!” was especially memorable).

Game Four – Jen’s Corporation again

This game was over fairly quickly. I managed to score 3 three-pointers against Jen’s three-pointer, then knock a single point in near the end of the game to grab a landslide win. Again, I play Jen all the time so I don’t remember too much about this game. Again, the action was all happening at Oli’s table where he was playing Tom’s S1 Corporation. The score had gone back and forth, Tom had injured some Judwan, and in the end it was three points up to Tom in his final turn. He got the ball all the way to the four-point hex with a Jack, although a couple of us realised that if he had dashed the previous turn he could have had two dice to throw with instead of just one. He had no coaching dice left. Last action, last turn, he rolled… a three. We all breathed out. Then he said “Wait! That was Petrosky…” – he’d named his whole team – “And Petrosky has a skill of 3!”

So the Judwan were beaten by a landslide from a lucky four-pointer at the end of the last game! So exciting, we all cheered, including Oli.

Thoughts After

Well, despite the last-minute landslide loss, Oli came out in first place! I was really pleased that he did so well in his first tournament, since I’ve been pretty much been his only opponent up till now (he described his first and only game against Jen a week ago as his first “real” game, because he didn’t count our games!) and he won a team of his choice (it was Judwan). I spent some time after the tournament explaining modelling, mould lines, painting basics etc. and referred him to better painters than I am.

I managed to come fourth, and Jen unfortunately came last. She did beat Tom in her third game, and I think gave him a few tips which proved useful against Oli in his last game.

The next day, we went to see a friend and teach him and his ten-year-old son how to play – they’re going to pick it up later in the year as well. Between myself and friends, we’ll have plenty of boards and teams to play a decent mini-event between ourselves at some point. I’ll need to practice though, if I want to come in the top half!

I think my next step will be to play against Oli’s Judwan as much as I can for the next two weeks, to get ready for the tournament in Cardiff on June 8th. I’m sure there’ll be a few more Judwan there.

After Cardiff, I don’t know about any other tournaments in the South-West – it’s not always easy to find that sort of thing if you’re not already in a club. I might just relax and get on with painting, and take a break from Marauders to try some of the Season two teams. I’d like to see how the Z’zor work, and experiment with the Robots a bit.

ManticBowl 2013

The ManticBowl! My first tournament! I’ve never been to a tournament before, not for any game. I’ve played in a single league outside of my house, and a couple of games of Warhammer in a couple of clubs over the last fifteen years. That’s pretty much enough to qualify as ‘I only play against my friends’. Since I got the free ticket with the Kickstarter, I thought it would be nice to treat Jen to a weekend away and get her a ticket too!

Thoughts before

I’ve heard about Warhammer tournaments for a long time on podcasts, and was tempted to join in on one of those (not fancying my chances very much though) but DreadBall is new and exciting, and I feel more able to play well. That being said, I’m not getting cocky. I’ve heard that there are 28 contenders in the tournament, and Jen and I are two of those. I’d like to come in around 25th or better – not aiming particularly high, I know, but almost everyone that I’ve played against is someone that I’ve taught the game and apart from the league games (one win, one landslide loss) I’ve been advising my opponent on tactics and the rules. I don’t know how good my tactics are!

On top of that, I only got my Season Two pack a week ago. We’ve had no time to play against the new teams, and from what I’ve seen in the forums the Judwan are going to take some work to take down. We were planning to get some practice games in but it looks like the only time that we’ll get to play against each other (the first time in many, many weeks) is going to be in the hotel tomorrow night.

One thing that’s been occupying me for the last week is painting. I asked Jen what she wanted to play of our two-and-a-half painted teams, and she said Corporation. The completely unpainted team. I have a colour scheme that I wanted to use for the S2 models but not one for the S1. When the new models arrived, I built up an S1 team with S2 models (ensuring I had enough models in two piles to assemble both an S1 or S2 team in two different colour schemes) and have been painting furiously to get them ready in time. I’ve missed off a lot of the highlighting, but I’ve been trying to work carefully and make a good job of it. I’ve got them to a point where they would be acceptable for tournament entry, even though there is plenty more work in highlighting to do on them. I’m so happy with how they’ve turned out, I’m jealous of Jen taking them!

The last thing to worry about is that we don’t have all the required materials that the tournament pack lists. We only have one copy of the game, so we only have one rulebook, one refbot and one pack of cards. Apparently both players should be bringing this stuff, but the only thing that I have in multiple is a pitch (MDF pitch, started to paint it but no details done yet). Hopefully our opponents will be able to fill in the gaps and the tournament organisers will be tolerant.

Jen is just worried that she doesn’t know the rules enough, so I guess I know who will be taking the rulebook!

The day

Apologies for not remembering more about my games – after the tournament we went to the cinema, had a meal out, then back to the hotel to plough through a bottle of wine. It was a real whirlwind of a day. I ended up taking my Marauders, with two extra coaching dice (the maximum allowed) and an advance on a Jack.

Game 1

My first game was against a Forge Father player named Tristan (Golden Forge Guardians, placed 25th). They were painted black and gold. My Jack got a skill advance, but got injured and never got around to using it! The memorable moment was realising that the bloodthirsty Forge Fathers had put everyone in the sin bin except a single lone guard in my last rush! Seeing where the ball was, I took out my only sub (a Jack) and defended the two closest strike zones and hoped he didn’t have good cards. In his last rush, he managed to get all the way to the 4-point bonus hex, he shot and… missed! There was a little back and forth, but I ended up winning by 2 points.

Jen played a Corporation team, and lost by a landslide.

Game 2

I felt really bad for my opponent in the second game – a Judwan player named Adam (Aryes Grey Basterds, placed 23rd), who had borrowed a friend’s blue, white and red Judwan. His dice were definitely against him, and with a few rounds of dropping the ball and failing catches, I think he only managed to score once. He had set up a chain of passing which worked beautifully, double successes all the way to the three point zone, and if it had worked it would be a play that was talked about in history. His last player failed to catch the ball (needing one 4+ on any of three dice!), and it scattered… back to his other strikers, who failed to catch it and it scattered… all the way back to where it started.

My goblins picked it up and took it to a landslide win. At lunch, I looked around the shop but I didn’t see any dice. I think I owed the guy a new pack, since his dice deserve to be destroyed for their betrayal.

Jen played another Corporation team, and lost by a landslide again.

Game 3

Buoyed up by my good results so far, I got quite close to the top table. It was either table 3 or 4, if I recall correctly. Jen had gone down to the bottom table already. I played a Corporation player named Gary (Cryotek Hornets, placed 11th), whose team were painted in yellow with black and white stripes. He spent most of the early game ganging up on my guys and tag-teaming slams. There was a little back and forth, but his big strike zone at the end (my favourite target) was too well defended to do much with. I ended up losing by 5 points.

Jen played against a Marauder team this time (Hyson Green Smack Fiends, placed 26th), but lost by a landslide again.

Game 4

This was the most exciting game of all. I played against Carl (aka @athousandhats) fielding a Corporation team with an assistant coach (Crashtek Wreckers, placed 8th), and realised just how useful they would be (I almost brought one, but didn’t have any painted yet). This team was also painted yellow, and was probably the best painted team I played against. There was so much going on the whole game – it went back and forth so many times, neither team getting more than two points on the other. We both scored a lot.

He had a Striker with A Safe Pair of Hands (I’d been lucky and got it for the first time today too, but that Jack spent his time mostly injured!) on the ball entry hex, and caught it a couple of times. As I was two points up in his penultimate rush, I used a Running Interference card to at least try and move the Striker so they couldn’t catch the ball… and ended up getting six successes (from three dice!) against his two to dodge! He saved a couple, but was no longer a threat. By this time, we were one of the last games playing.

In my final rush, I failed to get the ball far enough out of the way and he managed to pass it round the back of my Orx guarding the big strike zone to score three points. Every other game had finished, and the time was almost up, but it was our last rush so the TOs and a couple of spectators were crowding at this point. He got the three-pointer, and showboated, and took the score back to 1pt in his favour.

I have honestly never enjoyed a game of DreadBall more than that one – Carl knew the rules well, and played fantastically, he was a good fun guy to chat through all the way through and he was just as buzzed about how the game was going as I was. I think the benefits of a Swiss tournament system mean that you should end up playing someone who is around your level, and in DreadBall that means that it will normally be a close and exciting game.

Jen was still on the bottom table, and the downside of the Swiss system is that she was playing the same opponent again – but she didn’t lose by a landslide! She lost by 6 points. She also helped her opponent (Jona) to win Bloodiest Coach, because most of his kills had come from her team.

Thoughts after

I loved it! I want to go again! I will be going again next year, hopefully. Jen enjoyed herself despite coming bottom of the whole thing, and everyone commented on what a good sport she was. Mantic even gave a prize to the bottom player – a copy of Dwarf King’s Hold, with the tongue-in-cheek comment that maybe she should try a different game. That being said, they were really nice and we would be welcomed  back again. All her opponents were friendly, and she said they offered her tips after the games. The TO, James, even came over to check how she was doing in the last two games, and brought her over to my table at the end of the last game because it was so exciting!

As far as results go, I came 17th and Jen came 29th. One player disqualified himself and told the judges that because he had been playing coaches wrong and giving himself an unfair advantage, all his opponents should get a landslide win against him. They agreed, and that’s why Jen came 29th out of 30. If he hadn’t have done that, I would have come 16th and Jen would have come 30th. I really like the honesty and sportsmanship involved – it shows that everyone else was just there to have a laugh and a good time playing as well. Having analysed the final results, if my opponent in the last game hadn’t scored that final strike, I would have placed a lot higher – but that’s the way things go!

We’re both looking forward to trying out Dwarf King’s Hold, and I’ve skimmed over the rules. I don’t know if we’ll get a chance to play it yet though, as I’ve totally got the tournament bug now and with 2 more tournaments in the next four weeks, I want to get a lot more practice in and potentially paint another team (since we’ve convinced @lordscree to join in the Bristol Blitz).

Overall, I’m finishing off this blog post two days after the event and I am still buzzing. Maybe that’ll calm down as I get more used to tournaments, but for now all I want to do is play DreadBall and get back to another tournament. I know I won’t be able to go to too many out-of-town events because of the need for babysitters, but I might look at travelling a little further afield in the Wiltshire, Devon, South Wales or even possibly Hampshire and London areas (if we can attach ourselves to friends and family out there).

The biggest downside is that we missed a lot of the Open Day stuff, but I had so much fun I don’t really care. I don’t have time to play DeadZone or Kings of War, and I don’t want to buy any more stuff. I looked around at some of the professionally painted models, which was amazing and intimidating, but it just makes me want to try harder. Waiting in the queue for food meant that we missed the seminar, but again we just milled around and chatted to the other players.

We will be going again! As long as babysitters, accommodation and transport can all align, we will definitely be going back. I encourage anyone else who can make it to do the same!

Vanguard Dreadball League


I was tempted to step up and start some DreadBall community in Bristol, since no-one else had done so and the nearest tournament, official or widely announced, was in Milton Keynes. The ‘Southern’ regional heat was somewhere out East somewhere, and pretty much useless for much of what I think of as the South region (anywhere from Bristol out to Brighton and beyond).

Conveniently for me and my sanity, the Welsh regional heat was arranged in Cardiff. Since I commute there every day it’s not a big problem for me to travel out that far. Not long after that someone got in touch with me on the Mantic forums to tell me about a new wargaming venue in Bristol called Vanguard Wargaming, with an active community who were really getting buzzed about Dreadball.

They were starting a league, and I wanted to join a league, and so I signed myself and Jen up for it! It means that quite often, we’ll probably not be there together (children need watching) and as they are fortnightly rounds there will probably be one day every week that we don’t see each other. But it will be good for both of our playing to be able to play other people. In between league rounds, we can play friendly matches against each other too. We’ve gone through three of the four planned rounds so far, and I’ve been putting match reports on every game I’ve played on the Vanguard Wargaming forums.

Round One

Marauders vs. Corporation (Pete vs Jen, friendly)

We had a friendly game to start off the season, but the term ‘friendly’ is a bit of a misnomer. Marauders took the first rush and by the third action a human striker was already being recycled.
The game went back and forth with a number of small goblin strikes balanced by larger human ones. In desperation, a lone goblin sat on the human entry hex to block reinforcements coming on while the ref was occupied at the high-point strike zone on the far end of the pitch, avoiding the Eye in the Sky and driving the humans mad with fury (and hell hath no fury like a woman stalled…)
In the final rushes, the goblin Jack left the entry hex to avoid being called out and the goblins were 4 points up. But in the final human rush, another 4 pointer brought the game into sudden death!
Sudden death was thankfully short, as the goblins grabbed the newly launched ball and scored a single point to tip the game to their favour.
In the aftermath, one Orx guard was voted Man of the Match and promoted to a Keeper while a human striker increased in rank and gained the Roll skill.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Hung, league)

First league match, and my first ‘mirror-match’ – Marauders vs. Marauders! Thankfully, not both in the same colours. Hung’s Yellows lined up with 3 Orx and 3 goblins, and my Reds faced them with 1 Orx and 5 goblins.
The first six rushes saw a lot of fighting, but not a lot of injury. The ball was picked up, stolen, slammed and dropped, picked up again, but never got further than 2 hexes from the centre line.
Finally, one of the Red goblins grabbed the ball and made a break for the 3-pointer zone. Two Yellow Orx were knocked down and pinned by the starting line for several rushes while the scrum was sorted out and broke off a bit.
The Reds scored two 3-pointers, then Yellows took the ball for a 4-pointer to bring the score back to 2-0.
In the final turns, the Reds brought in another Orx to replace an injured goblin and got a few back slams on the Yellow Orx – killing one! Despite sucker punches from both sides, the refs were content to let greenskins murder each other with complete abandon.
Just before the end, the Reds got another 3-pointer and a tense moment based around the high-point strike zone prevented a Red landslide in the final rush. Final score: 5-0.
Dave’s Yellows had awful luck, and my Reds were unusually lucky – no player on either side spent more than a single rush injured, both refs missed everything, and goblins dodged left, right and all over the place.
Man of the Match went to a Yellow goblin, and two Red goblins got advances (one Skill advance, one Safe Pair of Hands).

Corporation vs. Corporation (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

Not much of a league report here – Jen couldn’t make her game, and in the interest of time they agreed to count the game as a draw.

Round Two

Corporation vs. Marauders? (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

I wasn’t here to watch this one, but from what I can tell Skindog had awful luck – dropping the ball two rushes in a row. Jen ran all over him to get a landslide by the 6th or 7th rush.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Chillydogg, league)

My second league game was really forward and back. Both of us had moments of terrible luck, and points were it could have swung the other way, but the dice were against us. I set up the same as I did for the game against Hung, with 5 jacks and 1 guard. Kev lined up against me with 2 jacks and 4 (!) guards – it was even more extreme than the match-up against Hung!

I scored 3 points in the first time and started juggling my goblins up to the top scoring zone and back. Despite having 4 guards against me, I only had a couple of jacks out injured at a time and no-one on my side died. Just like every other game in this league, I killed one of the opposing team – this time, it was an Orx guard. He had extra anyway. The ball was constantly being dropped and carried back and forth, but on it’s travels it scored a 2-pointer and two 4-pointers for Kev’s visiting team to end the game in a landslide against me in the 9th rush.

Round Three

Unfortunately, interest fizzled out in round three as the final pairing found it difficult to organise their game and everyone was waiting on tenterhooks for Season 2 models and rules. It was decided that as a practice run, Season 1 was a success and we would begin a new league with Season 2.

What’s Next?

I enjoyed the club, and will be jumping in on their Season 2 league when it starts. From what I could gather, there’s going to be a different structure, where a game night is picked and everyone plays as many times as they like/can in that evening. At the end of the round, the best 3 games are submitted for your score (so obviously, it helps to play more games to have a larger pool to choose from). I’m not sure what team I would pick in Season 2 – perhaps the Judwan, since they are playing a passing, dodging game which is how I am trying to play the Marauders at the moment.

Second Games Night of 2013

We recently hosted our second games night of the year. Unlike the last one, where we started early and crammed in many many short games throughout the day, this games night was mostly taken up with long games.

The day began with a long game of Warhammer for Jen’s Vampire Counts against Dan’s Warriors of Chaos. She did relatively well, although I believe her spell choices were poor (despite having two doubles, she did not choose Hellish Vigour or Vanhel’s Danse Macabre!). The Terrorgheist at least survived the battle, and was last seen chomping through the back of a unit of Chaos Knights. Although we couldn’t work out victory points due to time, we eyeballed it and decided it was probably a minor victory for the Warriors of Chaos.

Once that was finished, I pounced on some of our new players (while the turnout was still fairly low) to teach DreadBall. That game was cut short by departures, but more players arrived at the same time so we reset the board and played again. This is the first time I think someone I’ve shown DreadBall would not play again, probably because the rules were not grasped as quickly as people usually do. It was an exciting game though, with the Corporation player scoring 5 points throughout the game despite the Forge Fathers keeping at least two of them injured at any time and, by the end of the game, killing three! In the final two turns, the Forge Fathers scored a 4-pointer and a 2-pointer to bring it back to 1 point in their favour. The Corporation player got the ball to the 2-pointer spot, and the whole game essentially came down to the final roll – two dice, requiring at least one 4+. And they flubbed it, the Forge Fathers win!

I love exciting games like that, and we had everyone present hanging on the outcome of that final roll. One old friend noticed that DreadBall is very much like ice hockey, which is interesting considering the game mechanics were originally designed for hockey or a hockey-like game. It’s a good way to get her into it again some time!

Once that long game of DreadBall was out of the way, we brought out Kill Doctor Lucky as a nice, simple, uncomplicated game for two rounds. The first was over quickly as over-ruthless bluffing let a murder attempt through without challenge (Tight Hat killer!), and the second was surrendered to the victor as she had 24 spite tokens to a combined total of 1 spite token across 5 other players and she had a car waiting for her outside for 20 minutes while she tried to turn that into a win! We gave her the win, and retired for the night.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to play so much, I think that was my fault for pushing a 2-player game onto people who weren’t quite used to tactical/strategic games, and I was going slowly myself because of the huge amounts of overtime I’ve been doing in work recently. I was exhausted way before the end of the night!

I’m not sure when the next games night will be – we’ve got a busy calendar ahead of us with DreadBall tournaments and the like, and I’d like to squeeze in a movie night at some point. The top candidate for that one would be the blu-ray box set of Resident Evil or new Batman trilogy that I picked up for Jen’s birthday/Christmas last year.

(Oh yeah, and we all lost the game)

Defence of the Northern Watchtowers

I’ve been itching to get back to regular Warhammer games for a while now, spurred on by listening to podcasts like Bad Dice and Garagehammer, and by some of the awesome new plastic kits that have been produced for the recently updated armies.

Luckily, I have a good friend in the same boat who just bought the new Warriors of Chaos book and wanted to take it for a test drive! I asked for a 2000pt game so that I could get a feel for the rules again, since it’s been at least a year since my last 8th edition game, but I was convinced into going for 3000pts. I’m glad that I did, I got to put in all the toys I wanted short of a dragon!

For my army list, I took heavy inspiration from the advice of Ben Curry on Garagehammer. Units of 30 in horde formation, Death Hag with a Cauldron of Blood and Battle Standard Bearer, and Shadow magic on a level 4 Sorceress. I also took a level 2 Sorceress with Metal magic, just in case I encountered Chaos knights.

The scenario was a Pitched Battle, and we had an Altar of Khaine on the table – it was very quickly decided that Chaos Warriors were invading Naggaroth from the North, and the Dark Elves were defending. We don’t go in for complex stories for our games, but a bit of context rather than ‘we wanted a rumble’ or ‘I’ve got all these toy soldiers’ improves the game quite a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how well it turned out. Whenever I eschewed the Cauldron’s 5+ ward save in favour of an extra attack, I wish I had taken the ward save instead. I also completely forgot the Banner of Murder on the Black Guard, and they were wiped out. Overall though, the game went tremendously well and despite the high armour and Mark of Nurgle making it incredibly difficult to wound the Chaos Warriors, I scored almost double the victory points. At the end of the game, there was only one Chaos Warrior unit still on the table and going toe-to-toe with 30 Dark Elf Spearmen and a single Chaos Knight musician running off the table (one more turn would get him off the board).

The game started poorly for Chaos, with Warhounds using the Vanguard rule to get closer to my lines, then failing their Terror test when my Hydra declared a charge. And fleeing through a Chimera, causing a Panic test, and sending that running off too. Neither unit would play a part in the game.

The Forsaken rolled poorly for mutations, getting two turns of Always Strikes Last. This gave my 30-strong Corsair unit a chance to kill them off. The Chaos Giant was taken down by the sheer number of Poisoned Attacks that my Witch Elves had, but on the plus side he fell on top of them and killed another nine.

The Black Guard performed alright, but I forgot that they had the Banner of Murder entirely. This would probably have helped a little bit. Luckily, before they were destroyed another Hydra assisted with a flank attack and the Witch Elves got into the front with Okkam’s Mindrazor cast on them – this was one of my aims of the game, to try and get their massive volume of attacks boosted with the Mindrazor. Although the Black Guard were wiped out (they only had a Standard Bearer left at that point), the Chaos Warrior unit was completely devastated.

That was the only way I could have got rid of the Nurgle Wizard General, who had managed to cast a few spells successfully and thus had a boost to Toughness and Wounds of 3 or 4 – even with Mindrazor, that would be a difficult prospect. Running him down after a failed Break test was much easier.

I also faced a Slaughterbrute (proxied with a Great Unclean One, for the Nurgle theme). This got into combat with my Cold One Knights, who failed every Stupidity test they had to take. The Knights managed to knock at least a wound off each turn, and the Slaughterbrute thankfully directed it’s attacks against my general two turns in a row. Since he had the Pendant of Khaeleth (roll under the attack’s Strength and you get to ignore it) and the attacks were Strength 7, nothing got through to him. It kept the Cold Ones out of the game, but it could still have been more effective if it had been supported more by the nearby Forsaken or if it was paired with a larger, tougher combat unit to push a probable win into an absolute win. I think that next time, I may be facing a Mutalith Vortex Beast.

All in all, I was really pleased with my new army list and I’ll definitely take it again. It may even give me a chance against the Empire gunline that has plagued me for so long…

Star Trek Episode Autopsy – Endgame (part 2)

This blog post continues on from the previous one, where I began picking apart all the things that bothered me about the final episode of Voyager. Again, I remind you that this is spoiler heavy! There’s more preamble in that post, so without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Janeway and the Borg

image_4Oh, the Borg. The Borg, the Borg, the Borg. The Borg are a terrific villain, but that is sort of the problem. They had to be defeated back in TNG because with their rapid adaptation, it was pretty clear that they would overrun the Alpha Quadrant in very short order. This was continued in Voyager as they became a legitimate threat again, but had to be defeated regularly by a ship even smaller than the Enterprise-D. Within this final episode, it was revealed that the Borg were scanning the armour upgrades to the ship and attempting to adapt around them. Simply by installing those upgrades and encountering the Borg, Janeway has given them an opportunity to advance twenty years ahead of where they should be – if they disseminated that armour data as widely as they could as soon as it was received then it is conceivable that by the time that armour should be developed by Starfleet, the Borg will be able to negate its usefulness. If the Federation ignore the temporal prime directive and research the hell out of that future technology, they will be able to maintain the status quo against the Borg. However, the other Alpha Quadrant races would not be so lucky. With all of them weakened from the Dominion war, and the Borg already as far back as Picard’s golden age rampaging across the neutral zone, the Borg would have armour technology far surpassing that of any contemporary weapons to penetrate. Unless the Federation share that armour technology with allies like the Klingons (two civil wars in the last fifteen years?), the Romulans (at least two coups in the few years following Voyager’s return) and the Cardassians (two major wars with the Federation in the last fifteen years), the Alpha Quadrant will fall to the Borg.

image_5How long it will take the Borg to take advantage of this is unknown, however, with one of their transwarp hubs destroyed. There are only six in the galaxy – which means that in exchange for giving them a glimpse at powerful future technology, Voyager has reduced the Borg’s mobility by (charitably) around 20%. They also killed the Borg Queen… but this isn’t really a major drawback for the Borg. There’s no indication of how many Queens there are or how important she really is to the Borg. Just a few years before Voyager got home, Picard killed the Queen three centuries in the past. I can’t remember for certain, but I had a feeling that Janeway has already killed the Queen once before. She is a remarkably resilient creature. If the “Borg Invasion 4-D” interactive ride can be taken as canon, then a few years after Voyager returns home the Queen is back and the Borg are functioning as normal again. So whatever blow they struck against the Borg is effectively removed by the Borg’s ability to operate as a collective mind, and their ability to regenerate or recreate an immortal Queen to lead them.

This is mostly conjecture, however – there always seems to be more to the Borg than appears and this is the only explanation for why they don’t do the logical things or behave in a manner consistent with Starfleet’s understanding of them.

The Temporal Prime Directive

Admiral Janeway broke the temporal prime directive by giving future technology and knowledge to her past self. She freely dispenses these nuggets of knowledge to anyone who will listen to try and get a mutinous crew to force Captain Janeway into accepting her help, and validating the Admiral’s decision to effectively end her career and life.

image_6Captain Janeway would not necessarily be viewed as a hero by accepting these gifts, however freely given. It sets a precedent where anyone with time travel ability (a relatively common technology as soon as thirty years after these events) will be pardoned for sending hints, knowledge and technology backwards and altering their own timeline. In the case of Voyager, this has already been foreshadowed as Harry Kim in an alternate future uses Seven of Nine’s temporal node to send data back in time and save them all from crashing on a frozen planet. Captain La Forge in that alternate future was attempting to stop him, by any means necessary, because of the temporal prime directive. Admiral Janeway’s violation is far worse – she is providing more than small packets of situational data (ie, useless outside of their one small context) and the needs are far less. She stated that less than twenty crew will die in the following sixteen years, whereas Harry was attempting to save the entire crew and the ship itself.

image_7If Captain Janeway hadn’t accepted the Admiral’s help, they’d have made it home and with almost the whole crew intact. If they were going back in time to bring Voyager home early, why not go back to Deep Space Nine and prevent them going on the mission to the Badlands in the first place? The violation of the temporal prime directive was more trouble for less gain than Harry Kim’s violation, and Starfleet attempted to stop him from succeeding. I don’t see why they would allow Admiral Janeway’s, and Captain Janeway’s complicity in it, just because it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

Other Captains

Which brings me to a fun mental game I like to play – how would the other modern captains have played it? Sisko is a lot like Janeway – he’s shown that he’s willing and able to break rules if it’s required in order to do the most good. He also has almost as big a beef with the Borg as Janeway has, so the chances are that he too would try to cripple them first and use them second, and go along with the Admiral’s plan as long as he can do it on his own terms (and deal a blow to the Borg as they leave).

Picard on the other hand hasn’t been through quite the same experiences as the other captains – he rarely steps off the Starfleet mark, and is the ideal that Janeway holds herself to. Sisko had a sense of duty and responsibility, but reconciled it against a duty and responsibility to his family and to Bajor. Picard and Janeway have never appeared to think of a life after Starfleet – they will die at warp speed, on some alien planet. Picard’s duty would not let him violate the temporal prime directive in almost any situation – he would be disgusted most of all if the Admiral returning from the future was himself, and likely to abandon the plan on that principle alone.

However, he does have one weakness… The Borg. It’s entirely possible that his obsession with the Borg wasn’t tempered at all by his victory in First Contact, and the presumed subsequent encounters in the Delta Quadrant would only have hardened his heart further. I can foresee an episode where he refuses to use the Borg technology for his own good but takes the future weapons to destroy the transwarp hub, sitting in the nebula and watching every last particle burn. He would ensure it was gone, and every trace of it wiped out. No salvage, no escape. In this, he is unlikely to listen to cries for mercy from his senior staff despite any lessons learned after First Contact.

Sisko would have done exactly what Janeway did, and Picard would either tell his future self to jog on, or destroy the Borg and then tell his future self to jog on.


image_8Since Voyager got home but nothing of the last seven years was resolved, what was the point? Aside from the cameo that the (non-time travelling) Admiral Janeway had in Star Trek: Nemesis, nothing in the Star Trek universe has changed at all. Apart from Janeway’s promotion, all the characters still exist in the same state that they did in the previous episode – sitting on Voyager, regardless of their status as wanted criminals. With the scene earlier, where Admiral Janeway watches the crew talk about how it doesn’t matter if they miss this chance, they’ll find others, they’ll get home eventually, and toast the journey it wouldn’t be out of place if they just took the technology and launched an assault on the Borg, leaving the path open for a Voyager film to get them home early, or advance the Voyager plot on the big screen.

If Voyager hadn’t have made it home in this final episode, there are no consequences. We have a view of a possible future (Seven marrying Chakotay and dying in three years, Tuvok’s degenerative illness eventually limiting his mental faculties) but with knowledge of the future comes the ability to change it.

Overall, it was a great episode (like much of the last season) with a good plot, but it just feels like they could have done with an extra half-hour or so to increase the time taken to convince young Janeway, to explain just how devastating the infection attack on the Borg was (outside of the transwarp explosions) and to give each character a couple of minutes to wrap up their story and how they plan to move on with their life, or how Starfleet plan to deal with them.

Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Babylon 5 – when that was wrapped up, there were a few episodes showing what came next. One was a series of short scenes showing snapshots of the far future, and the effect of the overall plotline on Earth and the galaxy centuries from now. That’s obviously a bit too much for Voyager, but the character stories could all be wrapped up nicely.

Thanks for reading! I’d like to know what you think, or if you disagree with any of my points here, or even if I’ve missed anything that you’ve always been thinking about!

Star Trek Episode Autopsy – Endgame (part 1)

I’ve had an idea for a while of reviewing and discussing Star Trek episodes. The original plan was that I would review the episodes in order, and go back to the beginning of The Next Generation and start from there. But we’ve been watching through every episode so far and just finished watching Voyager, and I had a lot in my head about the final episode so it looks like I’ll be starting there.

Just to warn everyone, there will be a lot of spoilers here. Consider this a sort of “spoiler warning”. I found that while writing it, I had so much to say that it’s worth splitting into two blog posts. The next one will be up in a fortnight! Just to be clear, this isn’t an autopsy related to the first episode of this two-parter – just the first part of my autopsy of both parts considered as a single episode. If that didn’t clear it up, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean further down.

I liked the last episode, but I found a lot of problems with it. The biggest one is this: Why did they get home at all? We see a lot of an alternate future where Voyager spent another decade in the Delta Quadrant, learned a lot and grew a lot. In contrast, we see absolutely nothing – literally, nothing – of the consequences of them getting home. Deep Space Nine never had a seven-year quest like Voyager, yet we know where the characters went and what they are doing next. There’s definite closure in the end of it. Voyager felt much more like the end of The Next Generation where the final episode didn’t really mark the end of anything and life will continue as it always did (and see the movies for the proof). The only consequence as far as I can see is that Janeway is promoted to Admiral before the events of Nemesis, and there is an implication that Tuvok will not suffer from his degenerative brain disease. Neither of these are shown in the episode, they spend less than 5 minutes in the Alpha Quadrant and we see them fly towards Earth, but not actually meet with or have physical contact with anyone in the Alpha Quadrant.

I had a few questions that weren’t answered here that I’ve spent seven years (figuratively) thinking about.


Chakotay and the Maquis

Granted, the Maquis subplot was dropped fairly quickly. The tensions were mostly stirred up in early episodes by Seska and Torres, but with Seska leaving and Torres calmed down and resigned to her fate on Voyager the rest of the Maquis just seemed to toe the line. It flared up once or twice since – Lon Suder’s inability to integrate in Year of Hell and the “misfit” crew members in the final years are notable examples – but for the most part they integrate as good little Starfleet officers. Unfortunately, this integration is out of necessity. The only mention that I can remember being made of the consequences of getting home for the Maquis occurs in the first season, and no doubt if they’d gotten home at any point in the first two years Janeway would have them all locked up for their terrorist activities.

Now that they are home, what happens to the Maquis crew? They won’t be allowed to continue serving on a Starfleet vessel without at the bare minimum re-enlisting in Starfleet (for Chakotay this would be trivial, for Torres it might involve a quick graduation in the Academy) and, let’s not forget, going on trial for their crimes. The Maquis are terrorists in the eyes of Starfleet and although the Maquis as an organisation no longer exists (the Dominion wiped them all out), why would any bombings, raids, thefts or attacks committed by the Maquis against Starfleet or Cardassian targets (who were not at war at the time) be ignored just because their ship went missing?

In some ways, Janeway has still successfully completed the mission she set out on seven years previously – to bring back the crew of the Batanay for trial.

Will all the crew want to enlist in Starfleet? Stockholm syndrome aside, many were effectively at war with Starfleet before they were lost in the Delta Quadrant and will see no reason to ally with them in the Alpha Quadrant. Some probably never integrated pleasantly with the crew at any rate – see Chell, Lefler, Mortimor etc in their brief moments of belligerence and discontent. Would they see the Maquis as finished, or does the cause still exist for them? The Maquis was only destroyed in the Alpha Quadrant, and although they are small in number there may be enough strong-headed rabble-rousers amongst the Voyager crew to recruit more people. I don’t believe that the cause was destroyed with the people. The original cause of the Maquis was that the Federation granted planets to the Cardassians, and evicted the human populations to do so. Given that the Cardassians (as part of the Dominion) have been invading and taking over planets during the war (probably not all of which were recaptured), are there now more dispossessed peoples ready to join a new Maquis, even though the original displaced rebels were killed by the Dominion?

Assuming that they don’t immediately try to run off and rebuild the Maquis to pick a fight with the severely weakened Cardassians, I can imagine that seven years of good service on Voyager would be a point in their favour. Sentences would be reduced, waived in some cases, all dependant on what crimes they may have committed prior to being lost in the Delta Quadrant.

Seven and Chakotay

image_3In a way I’m glad that Chakotay’s story wasn’t resolved – the most realistic thing to happen for Seven would be to dump him. A romantic relationship that only existed for a few weeks isn’t going to last if he’s being sent to prison for an unspecified time (although longer than if he’d been tried by the Cardassians). But this is television, and without the requirement to show that relationship waiting for the time they can be together again, the general rule is that LOVE CONQUERS ALL and she will wait for him, even if he is imprisoned for years.

The Doctor

The Doctor’s story also couldn’t be resolved just by coming to Earth. He is an outspoken and occasionally misguided activist for holographic rights, and nothing about that story changes just because he comes back to Earth. Even moving the focus to him and his story would probably be some expectation on his part that on returning home, new laws will be passed to give him the rights and respect under law that he’s come to expect on Voyager. That’s still a story idea triggered by the return home that won’t become an issue until at least a week or so has passed.

Neelix and Icheb

Not a lot here, but how gutted is Neelix going to be that he jumped ship just a week before they got back to Earth!

Icheb too isn’t seen in the “default” future. We know that he cannot find his home, and presumably any home, as he was created to be a weapon against the Borg and even his family were going to sacrifice him for the second time. What did he end up doing on Earth at the end of the episode? I know he’s a relatively recent addition to the crew, but he was still a relatively important character and some closure on his story would be nice.

Harry Kim

Of all the different things that going home meant resolving, the fact that Harry Kim was always the first in any episode to start planning the following morning on Earth whenever they found a piece of technology, a spatial rift or stellar phenomenon that may be able to shave a week or more off of their journey. The one thing that shows that they got home would have been a shot of Harry Kim contacting his parents, or at the very least shedding a tear of joy on the bridge because every third episode since they got stranded in the Delta Quadrant, he has been thinking of Earth. Many of the rest of the main crew were ambivalent at best at returning home – Tom, B’elanna, the Doctor, Seven, Neelix, Icheb – none of them have shown any strong ties to home or gotten too excited about the possibility of getting home. But Harry, really, has been harping on about seeing his parents for seven years. It doesn’t feel like they got home unless he actually gets to see them.

On the other hand, it’s so obvious what Harry wants and what he’ll do that it doesn’t really need to be shown. We all know who he’ll go to first, and what he’ll do, and how he’ll go straight back to Starfleet for duty as soon as he’s done.

That’s  enough! Over 1300 words to get started. Next time, I’ve got a bunch more to say about this final episode.

Radio Stars

Podcasts are fantastic. I don’t like media that isn’t on demand, like traditional television and radio. I don’t know why I let theatre off, maybe because it’s more of a conscious decision to consume theatre.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like the content (although most of it is garbage) – I love DVDs and own a few television series on DVD so that I can watch it when it’s convenient (and pause it when the kids wake up), and I listen to a lot of podcasts. Since I started a new job in Cardiff and hence do a lot of commuting, I’ve been listening to even more – and here they are.

.NET Rocks

This is a good one to start with – it’s one I’m thinking of giving up. I started listening to it a few years ago as one of the first podcasts I picked up. It’s a technology podcast about .NET stuff, programming stuff and related fields. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty heavy schedule and puts out two shows a week of about an hour, and not all of the topics are relevant to me as it’s quite a broad range of subjects. They also seem to have quite a heavy bias towards Agile methodologies, and I’m not a fan of those yet. Although one episode did seem a little sceptical about them, so maybe they’re just playing up to whatever guest they have. I don’t think the value I get out of it is worth it.

On the other hand, it is good to put on in the background and mostly ignore when I am working from home – I’ll see how that goes.

The D6 Generation

The D6 Generation is a mammoth show about games – mostly board games, though they are familiar with (and less fanboyish than) tabletop wargames. There’s always a quiz, usually a guest, and the most in-depth reviews I’ve ever heard to give you an idea of playing a game. I’ve picked up a couple of suggestions for future additions to Games Night from this show, but so far not tested their reviews. I also love that they don’t blindly review things, they actually give negative opinions if they don’t like a game.

This is another one I listened to many years ago and dropped, because each episode is over 3 hours long and come out every 3-4 weeks. Now that I’m commuting over 5 hours a week, I have the time for this show again and I get an awful lot out of it.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

I’ve only recently picked this one up but gone back through the archive as far as the RSS feed goes. This took me back as far as an episode on the Age of Exploration and the whole of the Death of the Roman Republic series. It’s a fantastic podcast, although each episode is a few hours long they only come out every couple of months and I still have the whole Wrath of the Khans series to get through to keep me going. I try and keep these episodes as a treat to myself for having finished listening to everything else on the list, else I would just blow through them all in no time at all.


I think this is the only podcast that I’ve been listening to since the very start. It’s another .NET technology podcast, but occasionally branches into other areas like organisational skills, diabetes and disability, fitness and hobbies, but Scott Hanselman is an excellent host and as it’s only a half-hour show it’s very easy to fit in to the daily commute and learn a little bit about a range of subjects.

I realised how long I had been listening to this show when I met up with some developer friends, mentioned a Hanselminutes show about something we were discussing, and when I went to the archives to find it for them found it had been over three years before!

Webcomics Weekly

Technically, this is another one that I’ve been listening to since I started listening to podcasts – it may even have been the first podcast I listened to. But it stopped being weekly, then it stopped being… then it came back for a few episodes and disappeared again. It’s still on the RSS reader if it ever updates again, but I’m not holding my breath.


This is the first Warhammer podcast I subscribed to, and I thought it was fantastic. Unfortunately it’s ceased recording now, but at least (unlike Webcomics Weekly) they officially announced their end. Ironically, it was after a week where they joked about finishing up the show.

While writing this, however, they have announced that after a nine month hiatus, they are coming back in the middle of March! Hooray!

Bad Dice

The second Warhammer podcast I started listening to, I almost quit this one immediately. The first episode I listened to had three guests, and one didn’t play Warhammer and was just being a snarky, rude and extremely annoying twerp. The following week, it was announced that he and another of the guests would be co-hosts going forward, and he was marginally less annoying.

I stuck it out, and over the past year Gareth has been getting better and better and made the podcast really enjoyable. He’s an excellent counterpoint to the tournament-heavy bent of the other hosts, asking simple questions and getting used to things slowly just like people who don’t play Warhammer at least once a week. I’m glad I didn’t quit on it back in the beginning.

Bad Dice Daily

This is a spin-off from the Bad Dice podcast (the clue is in the name) where the main host (Ben Curry) talks for 15-20 minutes each day on a different subject. I don’t sync episodes on my phone every day, so I normally end up with a few to listen to all at once. It’s an excellent show, short enough to not get annoying if the subject is dull (most tournament results or White Dwarf news, for me) but long enough to impart useful knowledge such as the “How to Paint Black” or “How to Paint White” episodes.

Mantic Podcast

I’ve become a big Mantic fan in the last year – their Kings of War ruleset is interesting and if I had more time to play, I’d love to give it a go, and I’ve mentioned Dreadball on this blog a few times already. They put out an infrequent podcast also hosted by Ben Curry and since most of these recently have been about Dreadball, I’ve been listening avidly.


I picked this one up when Ben Curry of Bad Dice was a guest on it talking about Dark Elves (my favourite army), their tactics, and the rest. I added it to the regular subscription list and figured I’d see how I liked it – and I did! They are more hobby focussed than Bad Dice, and they’re not serial tournament champions. Since Heelanhammer finished, they’ve definitely filled a void that Bad Dice doesn’t quite fit. Some of their best and worst episodes are their playthrough battle reports – during a game, they take breaks to describe the turn. It might be just that sometimes I’m not paying complete attention to the podcast (something I make sure to do with shows like Hardcore Histories), but I can’t always visualise the game and lose the thread of things, and at that point I just want it to be over and skip to the next bit.

Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy and Comedy of the Week

When I used to drive to work on my own, I got used to listening to the radio. I eventually gravitated to Radio 4 because Radio 1 is not for me, Radio 2 was hit and miss with the DJs, and every other station has adverts and I can’t stand adverts. Jack FM is best of a bad bunch, but I found that at the same time every Wednesday evening there would be Steve Harley Come Up and See Me, and that was the nail in the repetitive playlist coffin. Then we removed the car radio but didn’t replace it so that was the end of the radio for me.

These podcasts are (usually) hilarious and give me something that amateur comedy podcasts don’t usually do and in a British accent. Listening to too many American accents can get irritating and most of my podcasts now (or at least the longest podcasts) are American.


This podcast is put out by the LoadingReadyRun team and has changed over the last year – they used to go into some detail on how their videos are made, but since this is now handled by the Loading Time video series, they’ve reduced that content. The Ask LRR section is a bit hit and miss – sometimes it’s really interesting and other times it’s “what Magic card would you be if you were the opposite gender”. After a long hiatus, they’ve also come back with a new format – regular LRRCast once a month, a Magic podcast once a month, and a games podcast once a month. This is nice, because if I don’t feel like listening to a bunch of Magic: The Gathering stuff (and why would I? I don’t play!) I can just skip it. Similarly, I’m just not into computer games as much as I used to be, so that one is skipped too.

Penn’s Sunday School

Penn Jillette, the noisy part of Penn & Teller, puts up a libertarian, atheist music-loving podcast.

This is another podcast I almost dropped – before I had a big catch-up a couple of weeks ago, it was always the one I passed over for other things. The big problem was an episode a fair while ago that just had so many adverts it bored me – especially since most of the adverts were for American berry supplies, American postage stuff, etc. It’s just not relevant or interesting. I usually catch up on it to get to an interesting guest interview – the last catch-up was to get to an episode with Teller, and before that to get to one with George Takei. I won’t just skip to the interviews I want though, because that would mean missing things like an interview with Peter Noone. I had never heard of him before, but it’s one of the best episodes of Penn’s Sunday School they’ve done.

Meeples & Miniatures

I listened to a couple of episodes of this that discussed Dreadball – obviously – and decided it’s not really meant for me. I liked the podcast, but it was a bit long and didn’t really click for me. But apparently, the guys behind Meeples and Miniatures are going to be making a Dreadball podcast soon! That’ll be going straight onto the list. Since I can’t actually think of a reason why I didn’t pick this up (they’re like a calm, quiet, relaxing D6 Generation) as a regular cast, maybe I’ll give it another go.

The Diecast

Shamus Young of Twenty Sided is experimenting with a podcast – I haven’t listened yet, but I’ll try it out. I didn’t like the Spoiler Warning series (I barely got five minutes in), although I normally like commentaries and MST3K style things, I just found it annoying more than anything else. But the podcast will be worth a listen to see if I can add it to my list.

First Games Night of 2013

Our first games night of 2013 was a success! Not that I was expecting a failure, but the previous one (almost a whole year before) had two guests. This time we had four, meaning we could fill out the full six players in some games! We were expecting another (so we could have filled out an entire crowd for Kill Doctor Lucky) but for some as yet unexplained reason he chickened out.

We played a few games – started off early in the day with the keenest players, with a quick round of Toy Story 3 Yahtzee with Fred. I don’t think he realised that people were coming round just to play games, but he was telling everyone that they were his best friends and thanking them for playing his game nicely so that was cool. We were thinking about having a demo game of Warhammer earlier in the day, but I haven’t read the latest rulebook in a long time and haven’t had a chance to get it back from whom I lent it, so revised that down slightly to a demo game of Gorkamorka or Necromunda, but a cock-up by Homebase means that our study is filled with a bath until I get time and assistance to fit it. The bath conveniently blocks off all access to scenery, models and rules so that’s completely removed.

Before the main event I managed to teach Chris and Mark how to play Dreadball, as I threatened before – I spectated/refereed and taught the rules as they went along although by the end of the game they were only really checking numbers with me. I got to play against Mark the following day, and although it was only his second game he was only asking me “is it this many dice and that number for success?” and was usually right. He’s even considering picking it up to play against his brother, since it’s so quick to learn and play and as a veteran Blood Bowl player he’s already keen on the small-team miniature games. I think it also helped that he won both games, and managed to make the Forge Fathers succeed every speed test they had to take! Chris too was keen to come round and give it a try again someday. When I’ve got the models painted, I’ve now got a total of five players willing to join in a one-day-league (including myself). It’s just a shame that I only have four teams to go around until Season Two!

As much fun as Dreadball is, it’s only a two player game and I can’t teach everyone to play at the same time so we played a couple of rounds of Thunder Road before more guests turned up. Thunder Road is a fun and fast game based on a Mad Max style race through the desert on the straightest, longest road ever created. It’s really quick to pick up – although the helicopter mechanic was a little bit strange and took a while to grasp before I really understood it, it wasn’t complicated and once I properly grokked it there was no confusion at all. It’s a great four-player game and I’ll definitely request it be brought back another day. The Wikipedia page has the rules available for download, if you want to take a look. I’m not sure whether the game is available anymore, but maybe it’s somewhere on eBay.

I had to duck out to keep putting the kids to bed (and Jen was pretty much unavailable the rest of the night with more of the same) so I missed a couple of childless games of Toy Story Yahtzee, and resolved that the next games night will absolutely 100% have a babysitter. It wasn’t nice that Jen wasn’t able to play in most of the games of the evening, and we had originally planned a babysitter but there was a last minute change of plans.

ultravioletdragonFinally, we started to play Order of the Stick with some of the Shortening rules. I put in Wandering Xykon but left out Backstories, since I couldn’t remember the rules well enough to want to put in even more mechanics. I figured that we’d get Xykon out early and see how that worked. Unfortunately, we all had big and nasty monsters so the first level was entirely unworkable for the whole of the game. For an example, the first monster out was an Ultraviolet Dragon (roll a D12, add your defence of 1, and hope that it somehow gets higher than 18). Other dragons, big Ogres, and named NPCs filled out the rest of the first floor.

It took a while to remember and relearn the rules as we went, and it seemed to take too long before we even started trying to attract Xykon. I wonder if I got some of the rules wrong in the skim-reading, I’ll have to check that later. At some point we decided to just start the dungeon collapse and end the game without Xykon. When that happened the game finished fairly quickly, so next time I think I will assign a time limit and start the collapse at that point. Another reason it may have taken so long to get to the Xykon stage is because we had 5 ½ players, so obviously each person has less time to get at monsters and gain experience.

Everyone enjoyed it, even the ones unfamiliar with both roleplaying games and the Order of the Stick comic, which is always a bit of a worry to me with really niche games like that.

For the first time in a long time, we didn’t play Kill Doctor Lucky – I noticed that we were expecting another player, and it was one of the only games we have that advertises up to 7 players (and still optimistically expecting Jen to be able to join in) so I put that aside until they got to us. They never turned up and Order of the Stick ran on so long (I was enjoying it too much to notice that it wasn’t really any shorter a game…) so Kill Doctor Lucky remained on the sidelines.

Next time, as I mentioned before, we’ll definitely be organising babysitters. I think I’ll make a shortlist of games to bring out for the evening (Zombies!!! hasn’t been out for a while, nor has Talisman) and read the rules in advance. If I put Order of the Stick in again, I’ll really have to read the rules first so I can be more helpful with it and try the Shortening rules properly – I’m sure I missed something or got things wrong. I’m aiming for the middle of April so we can try and attract some people who always seem to miss our games nights.

All in all, an excellent night and I look forward to the next one!

Butter-Fingered Dwarfs

Our best game of Dreadball so far – I got the Forge Fathers and Veer-myn assembled and challenged Jen to a game. I took the Forge Fathers, and she took the Veer-myn, and we decided to try out cards for a game (no ref this time).

She played Home and I played Visitors – which seems to be the general way that my games have gone so far, and she proceeded to dance her rats all over the pitch. There was a giant scrum on the centre line as our guards got into a huge fight, and one of mine was killed outright. The others did almost nothing for the first half of the game as we slammed backwards and forwards, all the while the rats running around with the ball behind my lines. She scored 2 four pointers, and I was completely unable to even pick up the ball, even with my Strikers.

In rush 8, I managed to get the ball! And transport it all the way to her four-pointer spot! And get it stolen off of me by a Veer-myn striker running straight off of the bench! This was about the time that I managed to clear much off the space on the centre line, asserting that Forge Fathers are stronger than Veer-myn. Even if they can’t score for toffee. This slowed the rats down, although Jen managed to get the ball back up to my scoring zone for a rush 13 landslide victory.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite barely having any contact with the ball. We’d introduced the ref this time so there were more events – the biggest effect on the game came from the ‘double-distance scatter’ event, with the ball ricocheting all over the pitch, especially where it collided with the ref and the scrum on the centre line.

In our next game, I picked up the Forge Fathers again and Jen took the Marauders. It was more difficult for her to get behind me and Sucker Punch my guards, and her lack of strikers made scoring more trouble. Forge Fathers are also pretty good at holding their own against Orx. This time, the dice gods had completely changed their minds and the Goblins found it difficult to pick up the ball, while the Forge Fathers managed to score two four-pointers and a three-pointer for a landslide victory in the second half despite an early Goblin two-point strike.

As with the previous Veer-myn game, I think it helped that I cleared the table of opponents – there are fewer models to evade around, straighter paths to the strike zones, and less threat hexes to worry about. Jen didn’t top up her teams from the subs bench because there were models closer who could be immediately effective to spend the action counters on.

In both games, the fan support and the ref didn’t really matter – no-one scored the high points to get enough fan support for a free coaching dice, and no-one fouled anywhere near the ref. I also realised just how far away the ref can see things going on – it can cover a large amount of the action, if placed near the centre line.

I noticed on the Mantic website that there is a games day at Firestorm games in Cardiff in June, and hopefully I’ll have at least two teams painted by then. I’ll just need to work out if I want to do the work commute on a weekend, and if I can convince Jen to come along too. As there’re two of us, it’ll work out cheaper to drive (even factoring in parking and the bridge toll). I haven’t heard about anything in Bristol yet, and if nothing happens maybe I’ll try and organise something myself. Cut ‘n Thrust Wargaming is pretty good and has plenty of space, and it’s where I played the Dreadball demo game that convinced me to jump on the Kickstarter.