Friday, February 11, 2011

Tales of Battle #8 review/thoughts

For some reason, I'm on a magazine-reviewing kick.  I promise I'll have other articles up soon.

I recently received the latest issue of Tales of Battle magazine.  It's an independent magazine generally covering independent GTs and various other events concerning Fantasy miniatures.  Previous issues have really impressed me with their production quality and content, with very well done battle reports, army thoughts, and even allied army lists that could be fun to use.  One thing to note, however, is that Issue #7 came out over 6 months ago- it's been a LONG wait for this issue.

Let's take a look at the various inclusions in this issue.

First, the issue is 20 pages.  1 1/2 pages are ads.  Not a bad ratio, especially in a magazine that costs five dollars.

Coverage of Reaper Con.  The coverage of this was fairly mediocre, I thought.  I don't care how many females were at the event.  I don't need to read about Aliens invade ReaperCon.  Also, given that the issue came out in January, and the Con took place in May, it's a bit dated.  Tales of Battle runs a Reaper ad, however, so I assume they are one of the sponsors.  Maybe he didn't have a choice?

Review of Warhammer Ancients Battle 2.0.  Four pages.  This is mainly coverage of how the book and rules changed from the first edition of the game, as opposed to the basics about the system as a whole (which, seeing as how it's so similar to WFB is probably not necessary anyway).  The article does make the system sound fairly interesting, and since one of the biggest complaints about the current WFB system isn't present in historical games (magic), there may be some reason to take a look at the system.  Still, if you haven't played WAB, this article is going to be pretty uninteresting, even if you have interest in the system.

Interview with Marlon Subieta.  An interview with someone who has won a GT.  I find these interviews to be pretty interesting, it's nice to see how they think, get an opinion from them on strengths of various armies, and also to get a feel for how these people are.  This guy is a big elf player of all sorts, and loves Wood Elves, apparently with an army based off 2 Treemen.  Not a bad read.

8th Edition Observations.  A pretty good article covering the basics of how the new 8th edition rules have changed the game.  I'll point out, again, that the article is a bit too late (8th ed has been out for a while), but the thoughts are good, and if you're just NOW starting to play the new edition, it's probably a worthwhile read.  Takes up three pages, covering a lot of different points.

Painting Guide for a GameZone Chaos Hound.  Basically an article on how to paint a Chaos Hound with Reaper Paints.  It's not very long, but it also doesn't have enough interesting going on in it (various reds, ooooh) to make it something you'll be looking back to from time to time.

Battle Report- Daemons vs Vampire Counts.  At 6 pages, this is the longest article of the magazine, and is probably the best written piece in the whole thing.  Great coverage of the game, with a very close ending, and you get to read a lot about the players' thoughts about the game while it's going on (always a fun time, in my opinion). 

Overall, I found the issue a bit disappointing, compared to how good the last couple of issues have been, but for 5 dollars, we're not talking a huge waste here.  The Battle Report is the best article in the issue, but that's hardly a reason to pick it up.

I really want to support independent magazines- I think they add a lot to the hobby, and I want to see them succeed. Unfortunately, this issue just wasn't so good.  I'm hoping that the long delay probably screwed with it, and when Issue #9 comes out, I'm going to be able to write a review about how great it was.  Look for it, whenever the issue comes!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Non-collectible Monsterpocalypse?

According to PP's Monsterpocalypse news blog, Monsterpocalypse is going to move to a non-collectible format this year.  In addition, they will be re-releasing all of the old stuff so that people can assemble the armies they want.

That is VERY exciting news.  If that comes to pass, I may actually get some new miniatures, and finally get some more games in.  Rob's been eager to play, and I certainly would love to try some of the new and old stuff. 

Hopefully, look for more Monpoc stuff on this blog this year!  Of course, if you have no interest in it, then you can just ignore those posts :).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No Quarter 34 review/thoughts

Well, I finished reading/digesting the new issue of No Quarter, and since I haven't posted in a while, I figured I'd post what was in it, and my thoughts on the issue.

To start, there's a lot of Retribution stuff in the issue, starting with the cover.  Retribution is a fairly cool faction, and they do a lot of work to give players some fun things for players to think about, both with terrain, alternate color schemes, and tactics.

Alright, so let's go through the main things in the issue:

Strategic Academy: Minions.  Basic tactics and ideas for using the various Minion choices in the Hordes armies, as well as some thoughts on how to use the new warlocks.  Like all of the Strategic Academy articles, they are a good start for people looking for tactics, and I'm sure there's plenty of good information here for everyone.  That part on using Minions with Skorne isn't terribly amazing, but really, Skorne are so great it doesn't matter :).

Campaign Terrain.  This article covers a Cephalyx Slave Pit- a type of trench that may prevent grunts from actually dying when nearby, with the ability to rescue them.  I don't think that this really adds anything exciting to the game, truth be told, and I think it's the weakest of their terrain ideas to date.  I would've probably liked this a bit better had the picture shown some sort of conversion for the trench, to fit the theme (basically the Cephalyx capture injured bodies and drag them to these places to start their 'work' on them), instead it's a picture of a trench with Cephalyx standing in it.  Amazing.

Ranking Officers and Wrath model previews.  Rules for the new Ranking Officers that will come in Wrath.  There's rules for this type of unit attachment, as well as the rules for the Ogrun Assault Corps, Attendant Priest, Captain Jonas Murdoch, and Koldun Kapitan Valachev (no Cryx! :( ).  The Ranking Officers are a cool concept, and there's a lot of potential there, especially given the vast variety of Mercenary units out there.  I'm not really qualified to give much tactical advice here, however.  It's a brand new option for your armies though, that's extremely exciting.  As for the new units, the Ogrun Assault Corps has some serious potential, but it has a very limited selection of factions it'll work for.  CMA and CRA on a single unit is pretty fun sounding.  All three of the Ranking Officers are pretty awesome.  The abilities they'll give to their units are going to make for some VERY interesting combinations.  Assault (from Murdoch) is going to be an interesting option, and combined with the various Cygnar ranged attack enhancements could be VERY strong.

Tales from the Iron Kingdom: Prey.  This is story about a Totem Hunter hunting a group of Trollkin Champions.  Great story.  I thought it was pretty well written, and most importantly it moved quickly enough to be enjoyable.

Studio Secrets: Underpainting.  Now, this is a technique I've never heard of, but after reading the article, I'm 100% going to have to give it a shot.  Basically, you spray on 3 layers of primer, black to grey to white, and use extremely light paint on the top to take advantage of the highlighting caused by the primers.  The results (at least those shown in No Quarter) are fantastic, and it looks like it would be fairly fast to do, once it was practiced.  It's a VERY interesting technique, and I'm really excited about the idea.

Guts & Gears: Dawnguard.  Extra background and tactics for the Retribution's Dawnguard infantry units (the Invictors and Sentinels).  The tactics are probably a good read for Retribution players (I have no experience with or against them yet...) but the coolest part of the article for me was the variant paint scheme after the article- the Golden Guard.  They are painted to a darkened bronze color scheme, and frankly, it's so awesome looking that I almost went out and bought models for the army the day after seeing it.  Seriously- it's pretty sweet looking.

Forces of Distinction.  Two new theme forces for Warmachine armies- one for Captain Allister Caine, and one for Aleksandra Zerkova.  Regardless of the relative usefulness of these forces, I think the most important thing is that it looks like Privateer Press is going to be occasionally giving players new theme forces to go with their armies.  That means that maybe I'll see a nice Epic Asphyxious list that isn't based off of Cephalyx.

Caine's list is Trencher-based, which is different (and means that Caine's Elite Cadre ability is worthless here), but it has some interesting potential.  More mobility and protection for your models in the early going- plus extra free Trencher Commando Scattergunners.  It feels... a bit strange, since Caine doesn't have all that much to help out the trencher units, although they probably don't need it.  Maybe the intent is for Caine to do his assassination thing with as much protection as possible?

Zerkova's list actually looks pretty good.  First, you get to take Vanguard light jacks, and with the Tier 4 benefit, they'll actually be a point cheaper.  Greylords, Kayazy, Widowmakers, and get this- Gorman di Wulfe are allowed in the list.  That's a pretty interesting variety of choices here.  I'd love to see this in action, just to get an idea of how it would work on the table.

Modeling and Painting.  Battle Wounds and assembly help for Bethanyne and Belphagor.  Not of any interest to me, but I'm sure those are handy to plenty of people.

Power Progression: Retribution.  Handy if you're a new Retribution player.  Glad to see they are doing this for all the factions.

Terrain Building and The Gavyn Kyle Files.  Both were kind of 'meh' for me.  The terrain is for Retribution themed terrain, which is nice, but I don't think it's terribly exciting.  The Gavin Kyle Files were on Saxon Orrik, a very interesting character, but the article didn't really add anything to him that I hadn't heard already, so it was only of medium interest.

Finally, the concept art on the pack is of the Scavenger, the Battle Mechanik Officer (a Battle Mechanik in Man-o-War armor?  Hmm), and Constance Blaize.  Interesting looking stuff, but I'm more interested in seeing the models (the Scavenger model already looks cool!).

So, there you go.  I think it's another fantastic issue by Privateer Press, and if you haven't picked it up, you really should.