Thursday, 24 March 2011


hello loyal reader, it’s all gone horribly wrong and I’ve had to move the blog. it can now be found here:

Right then you pesky mice, I’m about to stuff up your plans!

The one thing I really miss about paper and pencil RPG, that’s not Rocket propelled grenade, that would be silly! Aside from the social side, sitting down with a few good mates stuffing your face with pizza and cola, is the chance to completely mess up the hard efforts of a good DM. The way I see it is this; as a DM it’s my job to keep the players on their toes and to challenge their ingenuity, keep them guessing and do my best to finish off their characters. If they survive a campaign then they deserve to be rewarded, primarily with XP but also with fame and fortune in the universe the game takes place, for D&D it was usually the Forgotten Realms, I was never a harsh ref, if I could avoid character death I would, botching a hit roll so that a PC is badly wounded rather than killed outright is not uncommon as is fumbling a save roll so that a PC lives rather that suffer an excruciating death, it’s incredible how players get attached to something that is, effectively, a series of numbers and letters. I’ve seen players weep at the death of their level 9 cleric, I’ve seen players storm off in an angry huff because their Dwarf couldn’t dodge a crossbow bolt whilst climbing a drainpipe in full plate armour, you know who you are!

I also know players who throw their characters in front of every monster in the game in hope hope that the PC will meet with it’s untimely and and they can set about making up a new character. I like character generation but I like to see how they progress. us gamers are an odd bunch.

Then comes the role of the player, in actual fact most DMs hate the players, it’s true, they spend weeks writing a campaign and creating the bad guys, they consider all eventualities and encounter outcomes, and then a player comes along with a well aimed crossbow bolt or a very succesful backstab, I love rogues! and poof, it’s all over! the campaign ends prematurely because the ref wasn’t expecting a player to to do something as mundane as attack the bad guy. oh no, he’s expecting a battle, spells being thrown and minions rushing in to defend their dark master, and it’s all ruined because he forgot that he’d earlier given one of the player a ring with three wishes bound to it and that the player in question is a high enough level to cast permanent illusion, oh how we laughed. There’s a lesson to be learned here though, as a Dungeons and Dragons DM who’s prepared to wipe out an entire party, never ever go to the toilet before the big battle, players will conspire against you, you know who you are too!

DMs and players go through a kind of posturing, as players we get all cocky and confident that our characters are immortal with high armour saves and Vorpal Swords, as referees our job is to find nefarious ways of setting the player character up for a mighty fall, as players it’s to out think and out roll the most devious NPC that the DM can throw at us, and that’s why I enjoy gaming, it can be very frustrating at times but it can also be such good fun, especially when the DM gets all crest fallen because he didn’t plan for the rogue to be using an F type poison on a concealed wrist blade.

That’s the thing I love, when you finally get to meet the sadistic so and so that laid waste to a whole village, enslaved the children, murdered the men folk and enrolled all the totty into his harem, The ref prepares his best “I’m so bad I eat puppies” speech and one of the players looses an arrow, rolls a natural 20 and oops, it’s all over, we didn’t want to hear your stupid speech anyway. now we free the women and children and take all your valuables to pay to rebuild the village, minus our 20% of course, I may be lawful good but I’ve got to eat!

One day soon I shall play again and I will once more hear the familiar clatter of my dice on a books hard cover and pray to Randomonia for a twenty, she won’t listen of course, she never does. All I need is three other players and a ref!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

3 years and still going

I had a brilliant day at the shop today, over the past three, it could even be four, years I have seen many lads come and go. some have stuck with the hobby, some have grown out of it and moved on to other things. The ones that have been with us from the start have done really well, some of them have such a good grasp of the game whilst some have developed some fantastic painting skills. One or two still rely on the more experienced players for guidance with the rules and a couple still don’t have a clue. but that’s what the hobby s all about, a group of like minded people getting together to have fun whilst enjoying a game or two.

One of the lads who has been coming since the gaming group started has become such a skilled painter I really hope he sticks with it, if he continues to improve his skills he will be on par with most of the painters that work for GW. I hope he remembers his roots if that day ever comes, I must admit that if it did I would be so proud.

I managed to get a game in this afternoon, I put the Necrons up against Mikeys Dark Eldar. I was hoping to get some payback for the crushing defeat my Space Marines suffered at their hands on Sunday, my metallic minions didn’t let me me down. We’ll be back had a fair bit to do with my win. Mikes jet bikes swooped in all swoopy and slicey and every time he took down a handful of Necrons most of them got back up again, I love WBB! I managed to take out seven Hellions with 9 shots from 3 Gauss Cannons, and a Heavy Destroyer took out a Raider which also resulted in the loss of five of the troops on board. The three remaining Hellions had a drawn out close combat with the three Destroyers before removing them from play. The Monolith proved useful when I teleported what was left of the warriors and the lord along with the last Heavy destroyer, pulling the Heavy Destroyer out of a Close Assault which I was certain it would have lost had gone to a second round. I must admit that the Jet bikes are nasty and although Mike won’t believe me they tore the warriors apart. If it wasn’t for WBB the end result may have been very different. It’s not often that I get to decimate an army with Necrons but without the Jet bikes they are rather weak in the armour save department, but despite that he did manage to take out 15 Warriors, three Destroyers and a Heavy Destroyer, those losses made my victory a difficult one. the game ended at the end of turn five, had we played turn six I still don’t think that I would have managed to clear the table. Mike only had one or two Jet bikes left but when they Turbo boost they get a 4+ cover save and he was rolling those a bit too well. The dice were against me as usual and both of my Particle Whip shots had little effect on the Dark Eldar. I would like to see how the Necrons would fair against a large Tyranid force, but I think I may add a second Monolith before that happens.

I hope that the club continues to do well and that the lads that come along carry on enjoying the hobby and sharing it with us, they’re the ones that make the club what it is.

Warhammer 40k players are a funny bunch, they come in at all ages ranging from 12 through to 50 and beyond. Some are just painters and some just play, others are happy to do both. I for one prefer painting rather than playing, I play because I have so many models and it’s really the only way I have of showing them off so I game. Ours is a geeks hobby, we collect miniatures, paint them and play war with them. However if you mention toy soldiers and you’re likely to get your head bitten off, although not by me, it’s a game, and the game is played with small plastic/metal models that represent the soldiers. so why do some people find the phrase offensive? even if there were some other way of describing our hobby, it would still feature the words game, play, models and soldiers. I enjoy my hobby and don’t find any embarrassment in telling people what i do, of course some people laugh, why wouldn’t they? A grown man (well sort of) playing with toy soldiers, then I mention the time and effort that goes in to preparing the models, the hours of painting and building them. I get comments like “what a waste of money” I get a bit of a thrill when I ask how much this seasons shirt cost and if they’ll be buying the new season shirt if a months time? As you can tell I’m not over enamoured with the alleged beautiful game.

Anyway, before this turns into a rant I’m going to close, thank you Mike for an excellent game, I don’t doubt that you’ll get a win back soon.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Power corrupts


I’m afraid this post is a bit of a moan, for me Warhammer 40000 has been an enjoyable hobby, I like the social side things, getting together with some like minded friends and having a good laugh interrupted by some occasional gaming. I love painting models, from starting with unmarked grey plastic and finishing with a model that tells a brief story through the way the paint has been applied. The painting scheme can be used to tell the tale of the hardship the character has been through, the cleaner and fresher the paint the less the character has suffered. Let’s face it, life in the 41st millennium doesn’t present itself as an afternoon having cake and ice-cream in the park feeding the ducks, ducks are probably extinct or they’ve become a new threat to the Imperium of man, “Quack, we want your bread, quack!”

When I paint I’m generally sat in the kitchen with the telly on in the background listening to the missus moan about the goings on in East Coronation Dale, I used to listen to the radio, but being in a house with someone else makes the whole radio thing a bit difficult. Painting with someone sat next to me who is also painting is nice. My usual painting companion is Smiffy; he’s also my main adversary. I think the hobby is split between those who prefer to paint and those who just game, the problem is that models have to be painted. I must admit I get a buzz from placing a painted model on the table and having someone tell me that they think it’s well painted. I have one model in my collection that I didn’t paint, my Necron Nightbringer, it was painted by a professional artist and my own work is nowhere near Pauls level of skill, I would love to have a few lessons from him, I think my painting ability would improve after just a couple of sessions, but I get by on what I can do.

When playing I like the banter between players, there’s never any malice involved, it’s just light hearted mickey taking or taking the chance to have a bit of a giggle when it all goes wrong for your opponent, for example throwing six dice, needing just one six and rolling six ones, I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point, the goddess Randomonia can be fickle with her favours. I shall prattle on about dice a bit further down. The one thing I like about gaming is the fact that a player can win one game then immediately play a second game and lose drastically, but it’s all taken well. Can you imagine how the world of 40k gamers would be if we took the same stance as football supporters? Space Marine players trying to kick the bejesus out of Ork players and Tau players casting doubts on the parental lineage of Eldar players? Games Day would be interesting!

Then there are the eccentricities of players, we’re a superstitious bunch, I’ve gamed in one form or another for the best part of thirty years from RPGs to table top and over those years I’ve met some real nutters. A 40k player who fielded Ork and would only use green dice, a chap that used to roll his dice on a silk cloth, any that rolled off the cloth were thrown away, he got through a fair few. A good friend kept his dice in a silver goblet, which he also used to rattle them in before casting them, that made for a noisy evening, we all have our quirks, I have a main set of dice that I won’t let anyone else touch, I carry spares with me to a game in case someone needs to borrow a die, that way they won’t need to use any of my main set. I have a mate who we swear is a dice killer, if you have a die that tends to roll high give it to Pete and it will never roll high again. As 40kers know we use good old six sided dice (D6) for the game, but I own dice that have anything from 4 to 100 sides. Whenever I bought a board game the dice would be removed and added to my collection of plastic cubes of randomness. At last count I had somewhere in the region of 300 D6, I ask myself if I really need that many, the obvious answer is “of course I don’t” can I bring myself to part with any of them? Absolutely not! I have no idea why, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away when someone else could make use of them, and giving them away seems a bit like giving someone your favourite pair of socks, OK not a good analogy there, but you get my drift. I’m very possessive where gaming is concerned, I have character sheets that are 20 or so years old, the sheet is dog eared, worn thin in places where hit points have been lost and gained, stained with tea, coffee and cola, a couple even have cigarette burns on them. Most of them have doodles in the margins, I found one a while ago that had a phone number written on it. I have no clue whose number it is/was, but looking at the character it was someone I met in 1996.

Where Warhammer 40000 is concerned the game has changed considerably over the last five editions, I wonder if players of the first edition would even recognise the current edition as the same game, and the armies have also changed quite drastically too. Over the past year or two we’ve had a few updated codexes and with each one the relevant army has become ever more powerful. On Sunday I played a small (600 points) game, Space Marines v Dark Eldar. The game lasted three turns, and I don’t think my opponent fired a single shot, but he still managed to deplete my force by half by the end of turn 2. Every army gets rules that counter everything you can throw at it. Even bog standard troops seem to have 4+ invulnerable saves and feel no pain. The current weapon system seems that the humble bolt pistol, or equivalent, could render a planet down to a small pile of smouldering charcoal, and that’s if you’re both using a fifth edition codex. If a player is using an older codex, i.e. fourth or third they stand no chance of gaining anything remotely resembling a victory, minor or otherwise.

I think the main problem is that our form of gaming is somewhat stagnated, the term gamer presents the image of a greasy haired teen with a pale complexion due to spending most of his/her time in a black curtained bedroom shouting “BOOM! Headshot!” louder than the stereo. The traditional gamer is now considered a bit lower down the social scale. We’re shunned because we read books and communicated face to face, our friends are real and not a computer generated avatar that bears no resemblance to our real life counterpart. We know what our friends look like and we speak English, not in a series of letters and numbers that represent whole words. We really do laugh out loud, we don’t spell it. I for one enjoy reading my rulebooks and I like the fact that they use whole words not abbreviations or acronyms unless they need to. Had I written this post in “txt spk” it would be less than a quarter of a page not almost two. When I game I like to be involved in a narrative that is described to me in detail, not illustrated in full 3D HD 1080p. I like to fail and not have the option of starting again but pausing the game and pressing up, down, left, right, orange, yellow, left shoulder button twice and having infinite health. If I fail it’s because I wasn’t up to the challenge, not because I don’t know the cheat code. The thing I like most about games like 40k and AD&D is the fact that I control the story, not the other way round. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of button bashing (not a euphemism) but Console/computer gaming does strike as being a bit solitary and extremely elitist, RPGs are to some extent, but I’ve never been called a f**king noob when I haven’t rolled well.

I miss gaming and I know that my friend Al does, he may not admit it but I know he does, the worst thing about it is that he’s one of the best DMs I’ve ever had the pleasure to game with.

Fortunately the hobby still has the social side and the painting to keep me interested, plus the fact that I have a good win/loss ratio with Smiffy.

So there you have it, a view on the current gaming climate, well sort of, from a gamers point of view, feel free to comment, it would be nice to know the point of view from other gamers.

G’night all, may you roll well, unless Pete’s man handled your dice!