Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Whats in the Box: Dropzone Commander 2 Player starter set.

As far as starter sets go, they are great thing, they enable people to pick up a game, and play right out of the box, in most cases. Granted there is normally some assembly that is involved. But for the most part everything you need is right there. And then we Have Drop Zone Commander, the game its self has been out for a wile, but with small starter army's set at around £70 each. Not many people went out to purchase it. you where looking at around £200 just to get started. The main reason for this being the Models where expensive to manufacture being made of Metal, or Resin in some cases. But now Hawk Wargames have brought out a new line of Plastic Miniatures for the game, same great detail even on the 10mm scale, But by doing the plastic sets they are able to decrease the price a lot. (take note GW, when reducing the cost of your manufacturing, this means you CAN in fact reduce the price of your miniatures rather than increasing them)

And because of Hawk Wargames newly cheaper model line, They where able to produce a starter set.

If you ever wanted to know just what Dropzone commander is about you don't have to look much further than the stunning box art, Also as trivial as it may be, the box is not a normal slide the top off sort of box but more of a hinged lid one, and this makes life easier.

The Back of the Box shows most of what is includes in the 2 player starter set.

Inside the Box you fined the Full size A4 155 page full colour rule book. It includes all the rules that you need to get started, and lists all the units available for each army and there respective rules, and points costs. We also get Nice artwork throughout, and even a gallery of guest painters, that have painted up both scenery and models.

We also get quick reference sheets for the army's included in the box, Plus a quick start guide to get you into the action faster. These are full colour Card sheets, and are a really nice addition to the box set.

Also one thing I'm not used to seeing as of late, with all the forge world i have been building is instructions for the different models in the game. its worth taking a look as some parts fit in different places to allow the drop ships to carry the different APC's and tanks.

We also get some nice Card Stock, including objective markers, blast/landing zone templates, as well as an Arc of fire template. Its worth considering buying the Perspex set of templates for £9.50. as all though the card is thick, it does not seem as hard wearing as say the card items you get in X-Wing. But as a starter set it gets you playing until you want to go out and get the decent templates.

 Next up we have the Army's and first of all the Scourge. The Scourge are an alien race, And there is fluff and background included in the book, for you to learn all about the Scourges invasion of Earth. The army consists of a 500 point list, including 3 Drop Ships the Marauders, 3 Hunter tanks, 3 Reaper tanks, 2 Invader APC's (although you do get an extra one on the sprue) And 30 Warriors. This makes up 3 Battle groups.

As you can see from the picture below the Drop ship actually do carry the tanks and the APC's giving the Game a more active feel.

 The detail although only 10mm Scale, is very high especially on the scourge. The models are made of plastic, so you can actually use Plastic glue instead of superglue, So you can be assured a decent join between the components.

These are the Scourge troops as you can probably guess there is not that much detail, but there is enough, to make an effective looking troop, when painted.

Next up we have the UCM Army consisting of the same sort of units as the Scourge did the UCM army contains, 3 Condor drop ships, 3 Sabre tanks, 3 Rapier tanks, 2 Bear APC's and 30 legionnaires.

 Again as with the Scourge the drop ships can carry the APC's and Tank's into battle pictures below is a Condor carrying two Bear APC's

Also (and I love this) they provide enough dice to play the game without having to keep re rolling dice, and the addition of a small little tape measure rather than a red whippy stick also adds to the ease and completion of a rather nice starter set.

Also in the Box you Get two, huge Posters. But wile these are nice posters, what really counts is on the other side.

Flipping the two posters over gives you a very high quality printed Battle field to play DZC on. But they did not stop there.

Also included are 10 Full colour ready cut, ready folded Buildings, all 10 are different from one another, and are just the icing on the cake for this brilliant Starter set. The building can either be glued together, for a more permanent scenery of if space is tight can be left unglued and folded flat  and stored away. This gives you a 4' X 3' fully built city scape to fight in. Pictured below is just Half of what you get. 

Now i want to mention a few extras that Hawk provides on there website. You can add to the look of the building's by way of purchasing a bag of resin pieces, that can be painted up and glued, or magnetised to the card buildings ( my personal choice) And these include Lobbys for the building and fun details like the airconditioning, and air vents for the roofs. All os the card building are actual copies of Real resin building that where originally made for the game. However I am unsure if you are able to buy them. But wile on the subject of Building, If you so happen to have a decent printer. then you can also download all the building you want off of the Hawk wargaming website, print them out and build them. The building on the site are a perfect match for these ones, so you can stack a few on top of each other for huge skyscrapers, or just riddle the city setting with building. Also available on the website to download, are quick reference sheets for all the army's, A Army builder software for you to work out your army roster and even the road sections. although for the cost of a set of printer cartridges nowadays, you may as well buy the city scenery set for £30, £25 from Wayland Games. and this includes enough square card pieces to create a 6' X 4' city scape with 20 buildings. its also worth mentioning that both the poster layout and the card layout options, all have the ability to create multiple roadways, by turning the pieces around.

All in all this is the best starter set i have seen by far, retailing at £55 from most places. there is no reason not to grab one. Just invite a few friend and save the world.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Games Day UK 2013

 Well, like many others today I headed off to Birmingham for Gameday UK 2013.

The general theme for the whole day seamed to be Forge world, and Horus Heresy heavy. This was great for me however, being a Heresy player my self. The amount of new models on show was immense, and some stunning displays, Including a Zone Mortalis Imperial Fists VS Iron Warriors battle. And the stunning Drop site Massacre, White Dwarf did not do the Drop site massacre justice in its latest issue. I was going there expecting a huge Dark Elf themed Day, But there was very little Dark Elf stuff on display, Well compared too the HH and Forge World items anyway.

The Que for Forge World was massive, and when I saw it I was glad I pre ordered Massacre. As I walked right in picked up my copy, And was also able to get Alan Bligh to sign it for me with minimal waiting time. As every one else was still trying to purchase there copies.

Saw some of the new Supplements being released including the new Chaos Gods limited edition 4 book set. and the Farsight, and Black Legion supplement hard back editions. All the Model Sculptors from Forge world where out in force and willing to chat to us all about the new creations.

There was a huge Fantasy flight games stand there with there licenced GW based games, Horus Heresy, Relic, Talisman, and the stunning RPG book sets based on the Black crusades and heresy's.

Had most of the Evy Metal Painters doing live painting, as well as a sit and paint masterclass session using a supplied space marine figure, and following the instructions from the iBooks HOW TO PAINT SPACE MARINES.

Got a few pics, unfortunately, not all turned out that great, Models in Glass units with bright lighting........ war gamer problems.

So anyway onwards with the pics.

 New sicaran Venator

New Machanicus Models


Dread claw Drop Pod

Lorgar???????? Oh yes.

Forge world Seminar shed light on what is in Book III for the Horus Heresy.

New Dark elf Models

Is that Castle Greyskull?

Drop Site Massacre

The Next Supplement release for C:SM

The £7000 Ultramarines chapter on display

Fire Phoenix

Crashed Thunder Hawk Realm of Battle tile

The New Tau Riptide, NOT A FAN.

Chaos Gods Limited edition Supplements

Black legion Supplements

Eavy Metal Painter showing off some edge high lighting

A New Side Scrolling Beat' um up, Featuring an Angry Space marine with a chain sword and bolt pistol, looked a lot of fun.

A new Armageddon PC game, It was hard to  tell what was going on, I'm assuming its a Turn Based Risk sort of game.

And the thing that put a smile on my face today, Sighed copy of Massacre.

And a Massive congrats to David Soper, for winning the Slayer sword with his Scourge Diorama

Oh and did I forget to say something............. what was it now................... Began with something like Lerper....Lurper....Lorpa......LUPERCAL!!!!!!!

Thats right the 5th Primarch being released Is Horus Lupercal, the Warmaster.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Interview: Ben Counter

Had the chance to Interview Ben Counter, Black Library Author and the creative mined behined novels such as Galaxy in Flames, Daemon World, Grey Knights, and the Soul Drinkers Series, as well as many other Books and short storys. For a List of his Books check out Ben's Lexicanum page.  BEN COUNTER

Grumpy Wargamer: How did you get to write for black library? Was it a case of them approaching you for your previous work? Or did you ask to write for them?

BC: This is a bit of an odd one as the route I took into writing was pretty unusual. In the 90s I was a teenage Warhammer fan with a  particular love for 40K, as well as having ambitions to write professionally. A short story was published in White Dwarf one moth – I think it was 'Skaven's Claw' by Bill King. I immediately wrote a story (it was about a Dark Angel) and sent it off to White Dwarf. Skip forward a couple of years and the Inferno! short story magazine is being planned, and the editors must have gone through a filing cabinet of all the stories they had been sent to find any that might be useful. They found mine and suggested that while it wasn't in the right format, that I should try submitting plotlines for short stories as they were actively looking for new writers.

After about half a dozen submissions they finally found one they liked – 'Daemonblood', which was in issue 9, I think, and which became my first professional sale. Three more stories later and I broached the subject of submitting novel ideas, and the response was positive. Of the two I sent in, one was 'Soul Drinker', and after a very thorough reworking it was commissioned. I was extremely lucky as I wanted to write Warhammer fiction at a time when GW was actively looking for new writers to populate the Black Library's publication schedule.

Grumpy Wargamer: Tell us a bit about how you would start to write a novel. Are you given the plot line to write about, and you have to fill in the blanks? Or is it a case of you come up with a story, and black library find a way to fit it into one of the many book series.

BC: Books generally come about one of two different ways. The first is when a specific bit of the background is to be turned into a novel. Malodrax is an example, in that it's about a piece of Lysander's background that is already sketched out in the codexes. Van Horstmann is another. That's fairly prescriptive as the characters and major events are already determined, and the creative process is weaving a compelling story around them.

The second way is more freeform, where the subject might be decided but the plotline itself be undetermined. This was the case for the Soul Drinkers and Grey Knights series. Major characters and events are up to me. There is a lot of back a forth with this kind of book before the editors sign off on it and I can go ahead and write a first draft. Books in a series tend to work this way. The Black Library plan quite far ahead with their publishing schedule so they know what books they need when, and commission to fit the slots they have coming up rather than fitting a story into an existing series.

Both approaches are driven by the Black Library's editors. They have a very aggressive publishing schedule and a good idea of what books they want next. Usually I'll ask them what they want next and I'll get a brief about the next book and start writing up plotlines pretty soon after the previous book is put away.

Grumpy Wargamer:  Any advice for up and coming authors that would like to write novels about the hobby they have grown up in. I know for me, I am struggling to write these questions. It seems like you either have it or you don't kind of affair to me, but does practising help. I once tried to write a short night lords storey. I struggled to get passed one page before I ran out of things to write. So how you go about writing a whole series like your soul drinkers is a misery. But for the guys that can actually write. What are there best options?

BC: The first thing I will always say is that writing Warhammer stories and novels is just like writing any other novel or story. That is, the standards are just as high. There is a perception among the general public that licensed fiction is somehow not worth as much as non-licensed fiction, or that the writers don't have to put in the same amount of work as with a 'proper' book. My editors definitely don't share that belief. You're telling a story and aiming for a very high quality of language and expression, just like any other author.

There are a million and one resources for writing. I found creative writing nightclasses to be extremely useful when I first started writing as, if nothing else, it forced me to write something every week and learn to produce different types of writing. Books on story theory are also really good stuff, to help the focus on crucial elements like character and conflict.

In a practical sense, read a lot and write a lot. I can't give much specific advice about how to get published because my route into writing for the Black Library was pretty unusual, but read lots of different kinds of book (not just books you know you'll like) and write every day, even if it's just jotting down plot ideas. You get better by practising so you have to practice the act of writing – no one likes to hear that because it's a lot of work, but it's the truth.

My favourite piece of advice is 'writing = ass + chair'. If you don't sit down and actually put words on paper or on the screen, you're not writing, you're just thinking, and everyone in the world does that all the time anyway. Writing isn't a mystical process where ideas magically translate into words on the paper – it's a cool job but it's still a job and the discipline and practice of it is as important as the ideas.

Finally, plan ahead with your writing. An editor will usually insist on a pretty complete plotline before commissioning anything, so get into the habit of planning a story so you're never stuck not knowing what to write next. I don't know if there's such a thing as writer's block, but there is such a thing as failing to plan ahead and it'll stop you dead in the middle of the story if you don't put in the groundwork first. Again, not a very sexy piece of advice, but it's true.

For writing Warhammer fiction in particular, what I always try to do is identify a core theme of the setting and spin that out into a plot. For instance, one of my favourite themes is the question of how far we should go to be victorious. This is a key theme of 40K because the Imperium does horrible things, not least to its own population, to 'win' against the forces preying on it. The stories about Lysander are based on this theme, because Lysander's character is that he will do whatever it takes to win. I put Lysander in situations where he had to really think about whether he was justified in the decisions he made – the theme became the conflict, and the conflict drove the story.

In summation (and to answer your actual question, heh heh) practice does help, so does planning, reading, writing, classes, and knowing some theory. 

Grumpy Wargamer: Ben, The two Missing Primarch's, Gork' and Mork' right?

The two lost Primarchs are lost – no one knows what happened to them. As far as I know that includes the GW studio, too. It's a cool little background nugget that was planted way back in the first Rogue Trader rulebook and I love that it's never been paid off. It's an example of one of the things that makes Warhammer 40K particularly awesome, which is that it's infinitely big.

The 40K universe is big enough to contain all the stories that could possibly be told about it, from having an effectively infinite number of planets (the Imperium itself doesn't know how many – the Administratum keeps losing them) to hosting whatever secret cabals and conspiracies a writer can come up with. There isn't even a concrete number of Space Marine Chapters – there are a thousand of them, but is that literally a thousand or a 'poetic thousand' meaning 'too many to count'? The strength of Warhammer 40K's themes means that a lot of facts simply don't need to be tied down to actual numbers, and the two lost Primarchs are an example of that.

In my head, Gork and Mork are psychic gestalt entities created by the massed activity of all the galaxy's Ork psyches. In a very real sense the ARE Orkdom. Whether that's what anyone else thinks that is another question – it's that ambiguity about a lot of the background, like the nature of the warp and daemons and all the nasty secrets about how the Imperium really works, that makes it so fascinating to write in.

Then again all sorts of crazy things could happen in the Horus Heresy series, so everything I just said might be void...

Grumpy Wargamer: I know you buy the odd model to paint up, like the silver wraith night I have been shown pictures of. But what else are you into GW armies, X-wing, AD&D?

BC: I am a massive miniature painting nerd. My most prized possession is a Golden Demon award, 3rd place in the Large 40K Monster & Vehicle category from Games Day Germany 2007. I won it for a Nurgle Daemon Prince, one of my favourite models of all time. I've been painting for a  very, very long time – it's my zen thing, I get to chill out and focus while creating something. I can happily sit and paint for hours on end. I haven't painted competitively in a while, and I find myself wishing there were more opportunities to do so.

I can hardly ever get actual armies together, I usually paint single figures. I have cobbled together a small Grey Knights army and another of Dark Angels made from the Dark Vengeance boxed set, as well as a tiny Eldar army which I put together just to see what an army looked like when it was painted in Alclad chrome metallics (turns out it looks pretty cool). I have a bad habit of starting big projects and never finishing them, and I'm trying to get better at painting model tank and plane kits so I can apply the techniques to miniatures too.

I'm also a big RPG player. I worked on the Dark Heresy core book and have run that sometimes – I also enjoy Call of Cthulhu, various White Wolf games and Dungeons and Dragons, preferably 4th Edition (which I know will be controversial...). I've recently got into board games and Magic: the Gathering so I can get my gaming fix while painting individual projects rather than whole armies. For M:tG fans, I'm a red mage and proud.

Grumpy Wargamer: Now I have to extend this invite out to you as I know you are local, but how about getting some soul drinkers painted up and joining my clubs Badab War campaign in the New Year. 

I'd have to get any army together first, but you never know. It would let me show off whatever I've created recently. The New Year sounds like a doable deadline, so perhaps, just perhaps, I'll scrape something together to terrorise the galaxy at my whim.

Grumpy Wargamer: Any free Plugs you would like to add?

Many thanks for asking me to do this interview, it's always cool to share things with readers. I'd also like to give a big shout out to the Bunker Games & Comics in Havant, to the Portsmouth On Board gaming club and the chaps at GW Portsmouth.