AUG – SEPT 2010
MORE DESIREABLE THAN A STRANGER’S CANDY
Huge ETC coverage SPECIAL CHARACTERS:
Interview with Alessio Cavatore! ARMY SHOWCASE:
Stunning Spartan Elves
8th edition battle report
56 pages: our biggest issue ever!
A magazine for gamers, hobbyists and collectors
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Unseen Lerker Winners Matthew Taylor (UK) free Shuuro board game (Test Dummies competition, Issue 4) Corneel Bodar (Netherlands)
free ETC Beastman figure (Issue 5 competition)
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CREDITS THE UNSEEN LERKER TEAM
Editor: Isaac “Bobo” Alexander Business Overseer: Bryan “Ubertechie” Carmichael
It’s always a bit of a challenge trying to decide what to use my bi-monthly editorial allotment for, and this issue I’ve decided to talk a bit about the process we go through when putting together an issue of the magazine.
Editorial Consultant: Chris “Fitz” Fitzsimmons Hobby Corner: James “Domus” Hyde
We’ve obviously got our regular features: the army showcase, event spotlight, hobby corner, battle report, and fortunately we have a team of (mostly) reliable staff ready to write these columns each issue. So basically it’s just a matter of deciding on the content of each article: which army, which event, which players etc. This is often the tricky bit, since we’ve got to maintain a balance of content based not only on what else is in that issue, but also what’s been in previous issues, and what our reader feedback has prompted us to alter.
Creative Splatter: Joe “Kittens” Sturge Lead Artiste: Max “Brakken” Karpsten Lergy Comic: Zach Kin-Wilde Graphic Design: Heath Moritz Contributors: Stuart White, Nicole Wakelin, Russ Wakelin, Jeff MacLeod, Jordan Braun, Rasmus Hammer, Alessio Cavatore, Asger Sams Granerud, Anders Nøhr, Greg Dann, Dan Comeau.
Reader feedback is a massively important part of this magazine. Without the brave souls who email us or approach us at events and tell us what they did and didn’t like about the magazine, we can only guess at what our readership want to see in these pages. For example, we’ve always had request for more hobby content: photos of pretty armies and modelling articles. So this issue we’ve got no less than eight pages dedicated to Jeff MacLeod’s lovely Spartan Elves, and not one but two hobby articles – one on army theming and one painting masterclass (though we can’t call it that – shh).
Special Thanks: Ibis Miniatures, Bernard Lewis www.unseenlerker.com firstname.lastname@example.org Want to advertise in Unseen Lerker? Well now you can! A variety of options available. Email email@example.com for more info.
CONTENTS 4 20 Event Spotlight
The European Team Championships in Munster, Germany.
THE GLORY OF A GAME CONVENTION Nicole Wakelin talks about game conventions, fast food, and corsets.
CREATIVE SPLATTER Joe, our very special painter, shows us how he got on with a very special miniature.
Special Characters Up close and personal with Alessio Cavatore. Yes, he’s real.
Army Showcase This isn’t Sparta, but it’s damn close.
HOBBY CORNER James Hyde returns to talk about themed armies..
THE DARK SIDE
THE TEST DUMMIES
Russ Wakelin delves into the twisted world of Malifaux.
Empire vs Dark Elves: dodgy Danes duelling to the death.
More mysterious than ever. Kind of.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER This magazine is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited. The Chaos devices, the Chaos logo, Citadel, Citadel Device, the Double-Headed/Imperial Eagle device, ‘Eavy Metal, Forge World, Games Workshop, Games Workshop logo, Golden Demon, Great Unclean One, the Hammer of Sigmar logo, Horned Rat logo, Keeper of Secrets, Khemri, Khorne, Lord of Change, Nurgle, Skaven, the Skaven symbol devices, Slaanesh, Tomb Kings, Trio of Warriors, Twin Tailed Comet Logo, Tzeentch, Warhammer, Warhammer Online, Warhammer World logo, White Dwarf, the White Dwarf logo, and all associated marks, names, races, race insignia, characters, vehicles, locations, units, illustrations and images from the Warhammer world are either ®, TM and/or © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2009, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. Used without permission. No challenge to their status intended. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners.
The battle report too has undergone some major changes in the past few issues, with the layout altering to include maps, each game turn being given a double-page spread, and the player introductions expanded to give a better idea of what’s going through their heads pre-game. Battle reports have always been my favourite part of wargaming magazines, and I know many others feel the same, so I think it’s important to really put emphasis on this feature. And as always, it looks like just as I’m getting started I’ve run out of space to write. More next time. Don’t forget to email us and let us know what you want to see – you help shape this magazine as much as we do. Isaac Alexander, Editor
Isaac Alexander EVENT SPOTLIGHT Words: Photos: Stuart White
European Team Championships
I approached the writing of this spotlight with somewhat more apprehension than usual. Not because the event wasn’t any good, quite the opposite: because I wasn’t sure whether or not my rudimentary, clunky words could encapsulate what a truly amazing spectacle the ETC is. As recounted by head organiser and chairman Jacek Jedynak in Issue 4, the ETC was originally just a gettogether between some players from Denmark and Poland, and over the five years since its inception the event has expanded to become the largest Warhammer & 40k tournament in the world. The location changes from year to year, and in 2010 almost 600 people from 35 different nations were crowded into the refurnished ice skating arena in Munster, Germany. There really is nothing quite like it. The atmosphere is one of constant excitement, as you meet up with old friends from the previous years – from Russia, Greece, Hungary, Czech, Australia, Ireland – or new acquaintances – from Malta, USA, Wales, Canada,
600 gamers. Four days. One room. That’s a lot of man-sweat.
Portugal, France – who you share a pint with, have a fun warm-up game against, or just chill out with and talk rubbish. Most of the teams arrive at least 1-2 days before the weekend, ensuring ample opportunity to socialise with the other attendees, explore the wonderful town of Munster, play some pick-up games, have a few drinks, and generally just make the most of the unique buzz that’s saturating the air. The main event is, of course, the two day showdown between teams of eight players representing each country: six rounds of some of the most intense gaming action you will ever witness. Each team takes their own approach to the tournament. The more competitive ones can spend months and months
preparing their armies, honing their gaming skills and matchup strategies. Other teams attend with a more casual attitude, devoting their energies instead on making the most of what is essentially a wargaming holiday: the Belgians bring exquisite beers for each of their opponents; the Scots wear kilts and hip flasks; the Americans decked themselves in enough red, white and blue to blind a baby seal; and a particular member of team Ireland (‘Woody’) is infamous for finishing the weekend wearing nothing but his nipple rings and a toga fashioned from the Irish flag.
Of course, while the games themselves can feel like a bit of a backdrop when set against the social atmosphere of the event, the tournament itself is naturally a great experience too. Each team typically brings its most capable players, so to witness some of the best players in the world working their craft can be quite special (and educational – particularly if you’re the opponent they’re creaming!).
Tales from the front The Landsmann pub became the local haunt for the players that week. The German bar staff must have learned more than a few pieces of Warhammer terminology with the amount of gamers that poured through their doors, ranting about ward saves and enthusing about Skaven. On Thursday a sufficient amount of liquor was consumed and Troels Cederholm, one of the crazy Danes, decided to strip off naked and play a Warhammer game against three of the top Australian players. He beat them all. The hotly contested Ashes match between Australia and England on the Friday swayed back and fro between the two sides, with star English player Russ Veal crushing Lachlan Macwhirter’s Tomb Kings 20-0 to give the English a good lead. Marcelo Rouco’s Lizardmen salvaged some pride by defeating Rob Downey’s Daemons 14-6. Most of the other games were much closer, with three draws and no other win larger than 14-6. The final scores on the doors were England 96 Australia 84, and both teams celebrated afterwards by going out to a restaurant together.
Luck of the Irish: ‘Woody’s opponents never stood a chance when confronted by his raw…power…
Intense action during the Ashes competition between Australia and England.
With the massive number of gaming tables required, some of the players were roped into painting additional 6x4 boards during the week. After a score of litres of green paint some of the helpful assistants, feeling inspired, decided to construct an innovative piece of artchitecture: the trestle-tower! On the Sunday night, celebrating the successful finish of the tournament, many of the players went out on the town and got to know the locals. The people of Munster were more than accommodating, and showed the travelling players the hippest places to hang out, regaled their histories, and shared a drink or two.
When gamers get bored, they build stuff.
EVENT SPOTLIGHT THE EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS The Main Event Say what you will about not caring about results and just playing for fun, but being competitive is a human trait that we can neither fight nor deny, and part of the appeal behind the ETC is getting to watch the titans of wargaming pitted against one another in a bid to see who can triumph and crown themselves the kings of the world – until the following year, at least. The main contenders for the tournament’s podium positions have traditionally been the same, and this year was no different with the ‘big four’ of Italy, Poland, Denmark, and Germany taking early leads and clashing on the top tables. All eyes were watching as Denmark faced Italy on table 1 halfway through the tournament. The Italians, overall champions in both 2008 and 2009, had never lost to the Danes, but this time the players from
Team Ireland won Most Sporting Team – you can probably see why.
Team USA face off against Switzerland in round 5.
Tensions were high as Poland faced Italy in the final round.
Scandinavia managed to eek out a win of the absolute smallest margin. Going on to defeat Germany in round 5 as well, the Danes were within striking position for their first ETC win ever. But Italy too had triumphed, and were right on their heels. In round 6, Italy faced off against their arch-rivals from Poland while Denmark was drawn against the newcomers from USA who had clawed their way to table 2 after some incredibly tough games. In the end, Denmark got a medium win against the boys from America while the Italians managed to beat the Poles soundly, but when the last dice fell silent and the tape measures were packed away the final scores stood at a nail-bitingly close Denmark 568pts to Italy’s 565pts! Denmark had won it!
We need trophies. Lots of trophies.
Jordan Braun – Captain America (Team USA) The most lavishly dressed individuals in the whole hall were without a doubt the newcomers from Team USA. They went the whole hog with their debut, including themed gear like flags, hats, flip-flops, and a shield and mask for Jordan Braun, aka Captain America. We managed to find a slot in his busy wargaming/crimefighting schedule to ask him a few questions. This is your first time at the ETC – what are your impressions so far? What do you think? It’s fantastic to see so many enthusiastic wargamers together in one room. I can’t imagine the amount of work and preparation that’s been done for an event this size…just incredible. We’re very pleased to be a part of it.
Are there any particular countries you would like to face during the tournament, and if so why? The Aussies! They’ve been very helpful when it comes to preparing for our first ETC, but it’s also one of the few occasions where we’ll both be in the same place at the same time, with Warhammer armies! What do you feel your strengths as a team are? What about your weaknesses? All of our players are experienced tournament veterans who play regularly, which is making it easier for us to adjust against these new European tactic thingies. Our weakness? Hmm, probably rolling really badly! Do you have any plans or overall strategies for the event? We are using our Skaven and Lizardmen armies to try and get big wins. This leaves our three dragon armies to try and eek out small wins while the Daemons, Wood Elves and Orcs & Goblins try to hang on for a draw. What do you have in your pocket, right now? Wallet, Blackberry, three wooden Dispel Scroll tokens (I’m needing them all!).
Being ETC virgins, are there any special preparations that you and your team have made? The same as any other team, I think; we practiced pairings, army list construction, actual gaming, theorising. Also, one member of our team is an actual virgin, so we got him to practice talking to girls.
The Side Event In previous years the single player side event (a tournament for those not playing in the main event) has been run along side the ETC proper, and usually boasts between fifty and one hundred players itself. This year the ETC was simply so large that there was not enough room for the side event on the weekend, so it was shifted to the Thursday and Friday instead, and saw two and a half score gamers clamber out of their beds for a nice early start. Unlike the main event there were no restrictions or other composition in play, however, as a balancing factor you were forced to play each opponent twice: once with your own army, and once against it. After ten games of intense warfare the overall winner emerged as young Harry Dixon from team New Zealand. He had gambled on taking Tomb Kings and it had paid off since few of his opponents knew the ins and outs of the army quite as well as he did. Second place went to New Zealand captain Dave Grant with his Lizardmen, while third place was claimed by none other than Denmark’s Empire player, Anders Nøhr – who also features in this issue’s battle report on page 33!
America – f*ck yeah!
Anton Saturin from Russia won Best Painted Army with his Lizardmen – not bad considering the 600 competitors!
Rasmus Hammer – team coach (Team Denmark) The overall winners of the event were Team Denmark, who bested all their foes on their way to the top. We managed to catch up with their devilishly handsome non-playing coach Rasmus Hammer to find out just how they did it. Your team has traditionally done very well at the ETC. Any insights you can give us on how you do so consistently well? What’s your secret? I think we have a very dedicated critical mass of good players in Denmark to choose our team from. If the competition at home is fierce then you will perform better abroad. Also I believe at the individual level Danish players have a very thorough understanding of the Warhammer rules and as such is very seldom surprised by anything the opponent is trying to do within those rules. The restrictions used at the ETC have always been very close to those used in Denmark, so you could say that for most of the year we are actually playing Warhammer “ETC style”, which again gives us the advantage of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the armies under those particular restrictions.
Victors: Denmark celebrate in traditional fashion, with champagne and shouting.
Who were your main rivals for this year, and did you have any particular plans in place for when you had to face them? The main contenders were always going to be Italy, Poland and Germany. And the plan was not to lose! It’s not that simple in practise, but what it boils down to making sure we do not slip against any of the other heavy hitters because that will mean we are out of the race for the title! How would you describe the way your team operates? Team Denmark operates very much as a Team. We have a Captain, Paul Bridge, and me as a coach to keep everything organised but each player has strengths in particular areas which are fully utilised during preparations and the event itself. This year I feel we have truly come together for each other and the Danish Warhammer community to bring home that prize that has for so long been beyond our reach! What do you enjoy most about the ETC? I think that almost everyone who has attended the ETC in some way will agree with me when I say that the social part of the ETC is the most enjoyable! Meeting people from all over the world for a few beers and some wargaming is fantastic and something I will always remember. Apart from that? Oh it felt damn good winning this year!! A very big thank you to all the people that cheered for us and expressed their support during the rounds! It felt as if we were playing for all you guys (which may have added a bit to my stress level!) and seeing all those happy faces and shaking your hands made me personally very proud and honoured. Hope to see you all next year!
Unseen Lerker Around The World Reader Cristopher Schmitt with UL Issue 3 at the Strokkur geyser in Iceland. Whoomf!
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The Glory of a Game Convention By Nicole Wakelin I have been a fan of conventions since before I ever managed to attend one.Years ago I remember seeing ads for Star Trek Cons that were coming within driving distance, but life always got in the way of my fun and I never made the journey. I desperately wanted to go so I could get my picture taken with a bunch of guys dressed like Klingons, or purchase a Tribble or a working Communicator Badge. Truthfully, I’d still like to get my picture taken with a bunch of Klingons so I may have to add a Star Trek Con to my to-do list for next year. I have managed to attend a few Gaming Cons and they’ve made for some wonderfully fun weekends. Never been to one? Here’s what you’re missing… They are the best opportunity ever for indulging in cosplay. Sure, you can break out your kilt and combat boots for the local Renaissance Faire but that’s only for a couple of hours on a single day.You can even get into the spirit of things on occasion when you’re playing games with your friends, but most of the time you’ll just show up as Joe Gamer with an armful of games,
Name: Nicole Wakelin Age: 40 Location: New Hampshire, USA
Favourite army: Do you mean ‘favorite’?
Favourite fruit: You do mean ‘favorite’!
I would never… mock the Queen’s English
a case of little metal men, and your favourite dice of the moment. Again, even if you do dress the part it’s only for a few hours and then you’re headed home. At a Con you can dress up for a whole weekend! There are generally an abundance of other folks roaming the halls dressed as their favourite characters so you’ll fit in perfectly.You’ll probably see The Doctor (at least three different versions), an Ork, several random Vikings and at least one woman in a too-small, too-tight corset. Ah, I see I’ve finally got your full attention. Attending a Con means you can game for hours with minimal sleep and nothing more than caffeinated beverages and fast food for energy.You can eat the
Hundreds of eager attendees stream to game conventions each season; pictured is the throng from a recent GenCon bonanza.
worst junk foods possible, the most artery-clogging hamburgers and fries on the planet, and not only will no one judge you, they will likely ask if the restaurant your ordered from will deliver some for them, too. This is a place where everyone understands that sleeping and eating take a backseat to gaming.You can even choose to pass out on a couch, or a chair or the floor and no one will look at you funny, unless you’re drooling with your mouth half open. People napping in-between games in whatever spot they can find is just another part of the whole convention experience. Now, despite the acceptance of guys in kilts eating junk food and sleeping in corners, there is one thing that you are required to do every day. It won’t be in the pamphlet they hand you when you register, and it won’t be on a poster anywhere, but this is absolutely the single most important rule for you to follow. Ready? Shower. That means water, soap and shampoo. No, splashing some water on your face at the sink in the men’s room does not count. Even if you’re with a bunch of your buddies, there comes a point where the most hardened
Sadly we didn’t have a photo of any women in body-hugging corsets.
of gamers will run from you if you’ve developed a case of Gamer Stench. The experience is more fun for everyone if you don’t stink. This is especially important if you want to get the attention of that woman in the too-small, too-tight corset who I mentioned earlier. Lastly – and this is the best part of a con – you’re going to get to play games. There will be people there that love the exact same games you love, and they’ll be happy to play. There will be people there who’ve never even heard of the games you love, and they’ll be happy to learn.You’ll find newly released games, oldies that you haven’t seen in ten years, and the games you’ve got in your basement. Games. Everywhere. If there is one thing you can be sure of at a Gaming Con, you are going to get a chance to play some great games, with people who love them just as much as you. So the next time you’re trying to decide if it’s worth your time and money to attend a Con, stop debating with yourself and buy a badge. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have dressed in a kilt and eating junk food while playing games and ogling women in corsets.
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Creative SplatteR Joe ‘KITTENS’ Sturge
PREPARE TO WET
YOUR PAINTS A step-by-step guide on how to paint the limited edition Beastman ETC figure, produced by Maelstrom Games.
Ooh, you Beast! Apparently there was a large and prestigious international tournament in Germany recently, with competitors from all over Europe and indeed the world. While I remained at home avidly glued to coverage of the World Moustache Championships on television (Karl Heinz-Hille triumphantly retained the title he first won in 2007- the man’s a legend!), Bobo gallantly journeyed all the way to Muenster just to bring back a lovely Beastman model for me to paint. All he asked was that I take a few photos and jot down a few comments on how I went about doing it (he also asked me not to make too many references to unicorns, magical badgers and relevant hallucinogenic substances, but that’s not a promise I’ll ever willingly make).
Okie dokie, having affixed Mr Beast to a nice disposable strip of plasticard with a drop of lovely adhesive product it seemed that some sort of spray undercoat was probably in order. The pixies told me so. I don’t know nuffin about Beastmen guv’nor, but supposing that some sort of mix of brown and red would make a suitably acceptable colour scheme I went for an Army Painter Leather Brown basecoat- it being nice and flat and oh so easy to paint over. A brown base colour would also hopefully make the model look muddier and dirtier (the Reikwald forest not being known for the quality of its laundry and housekeeping services): I like to undercoat black if I’m looking to highlight up crisply and cleanly, undercoat brown then apply lots of inks and glazes if something grimy and unclean
is called for. I left off the banner and shield before undercoating, as trying to paint around and behind them would surely cause a build-up of rage great enough to test the calming capabilities of even my strongest and most illicit medication.
Step 2: Tea Oh yeah. Tea.
Star Dragon by Michael Biggs.
Creative SplatteR JoE ‘Kittens’ sturge
Well then kids, this is where Joe started getting it all wrong. I normally like to paint one colour at a time, so I’ll base coat the flesh, for instance, then highlight through to finished before starting work on the metal, which I’ll finish, then the cloth, etc. This increases the risks making a mistake on a later colour (a ‘boo boo’ as us professionals call it), but it’s always helped me to paint to a good standard at an acceptably brisk pace. However, this approach also assumes that I know what the colour scheme is, what I’m aiming towards, and what the finished model will look like. Well, about that... I really didn’t have much of a clue where I was going with this model’s colour scheme at the start, apart from a vague idea to keep the bestial chappie’s skin a nice mid-brown to use it as a balancing background colour for the model; the horns, hooves, hair, etc would then all work as contrast off that solid base. Okay then. Paint paint paint, highlight highlight highlight. Right, I appear to have painted brown onto a brown background and can’t tell where one brush stroke ends and another begins. I amaze myself sometimes. Let’s start again, eh? Having drowned my sorrows and revitalised my spirits with a brisk and invigorating mug of tea (oh yeah. Tea), I proceeded to slop Vallejo black paint all over the model’s hair, Tin Bitz all over the metallic bitz and Bestial Brown on the strapping. Not too neat, but at least it gave me a vague idea of the model’s shape.
You do know how to highlight, right?
Well, kinda. I was planning to cheat quite a bit when it came to the actual difficult details on the model.Y’see, I could get away with doing a half-arsed job on the highlighting, then drench the model in inks and glazes, claim that it was all grimy and characterful and celebrate with a triumphant mug of Victory Tea (the best kind of tea) with maybe even a chocolate biscuit too. Unfortunately I’ve spent most of the last decade painting nice crisp colours and sharp edges, and this messy and grimy look is apparently much harder to pull off than it seems. Some Dheneb Stone on the horns highlighted up to white, red pants, and a few brisk highlights on the brown left Mr Beastman looking a little too gleaming... I dealt with this problem by brazenly ignoring it and carrying on with the highlighting- there’d be plenty of time later to splash Devlan Mud everywhere and call it art. I’ve never been any good at painting metallics so tend to go for extremely sharp, clashing highlights (and tea. Mustn’t forget the tea) in order to mask my lamentable incompetence. In this case, starting with a base of Tin Bitz up through Shining Gold to a final highlight of Chainmail hopefully gives an impression of a twisted mess of rust and abrasions. I hope the poor beastie has his tetanus shots up to date.
What colour do I paint the rock?
Rock-coloured, of course. All rocks everywhere are grey, and there’s no way to possibly prove otherwise. Ahem. Being too cheap to buy some grey paint, I simply mixed some black and white together, then added more white to highlight. At this point I had reached a stage where most of the detail on the left arm was done, so I attached the shield (breaking off the arm it’s glued to of course, leading to unfortunate profanity, some idolatry and a little light ornithology) and painted it in situ, dealing with the embossment in a similar manner to the other metallics. A touch of grey made the dear fellow’s hair look almost regal and distinguished in a bestial and vile kind of way (I call it the Russell Crowe look), while his pants and tongue were highlighted up to a spiffing Blood Red, with a touch of flesh colour added to the tongue to make it look a little more tongue-y. I like words. They’re good.
For goodness sake, what about the tea?
To my great shame I’ve not mentioned tea for at least a couple of paragraphs, but painting the banner was a serious business- not least because the accursed thing refused to stick to any sort of base which I could use to stabilise it while painting. Plan B was just to get paint all over my fingers (and subsequently just about everything else in the office), which seems reasonable to me. I settled for dong a basic job on the banner first, then attaching it securely to the model for some closer attention and possibly even a little modest freehand later on (if I could find time between my hectic social milieu and crippling addiction to crossword puzzles). The whole model is quite heavy and unwieldy at the best of times, so adding the extra weight of the banner didn’t make it too much harder to manipulate with my Awesome Wrist Strength, so as long as the banner wasn’t obscuring too many details it was okay to paint in-situ.
Creative SplatteR JoE ‘Kittens’ sturge
Are we done yet?
Well now, having attached everything to a 25mm base, I set about tidying up all the messy odds and ends, adding a few extra glazes (moar glazes!) and re-highlighting quite a lot of the skin which it seems I made rather a mess of at the start. Having painted the model in a large number of short sessions, there were little imperfections everywhere which needed correcting, and more tea which badly needed drinking. I decided that the banner had plenty of sculpted detail as it was, so some bijou and minimaliste chaotic symbols were quite enough to finish it off. This just left ol’ Beastie to tower over his poor 25mm base in a distressingly undramatic matter.
Scenic base ahoy!
Okay, so I didn’t take any work in progress pictures of this bit (Bobo says he’ll cut off my hands in punishment. I think he’s bluffing, but am practicing using the kettle with my feet just in case) but it’s fairly straightforward. Take a 60mm round base; build up the edges with Milliput and add rocks/stuff from bits box; wait for it to dry (you know what to do while you’re waiting); realise the hole you’ve left is too small; swear a lot; hack out a bigger hole; apply sand/flock/homicidal asparagus monsters; victory! After one final spritz of varnish, the end result isn’t too bad I suppose.
We’re auctioning off this wonderfully painted miniature in order to support Flood Relief in Pakistan. Please see our website, www.unseenlerker.com, for more details. In addition, so that Joe’s article doesn’t just seem like the sadistic ramblings of a madman, we’re giving away a brand new unpainted Beastman ETC figure so that one lucky subscriber can put Joe’s methods to the test. Subscribe to Unseen Lerker for your chance to win! Additionally, you might still be able to pick up the model from Maelstrom Games’s website, www.maelstromgames.co.uk.
What? You want a conclusion? Well, you can stuff your concl... No, seriously. It’s a nice model, it turned out well. It’s got lots of colours and stuff. What more do you want?
Name: Alessio Cavatore Age: 38 Location: Nottingham, England
Favourite soup: Tuscan Bean Soup
I would never… condone physical violence
Alessio Cavatore is a geek super hero. Who else plays board games with Jervis Johnson, Dungeons and Dragons with Graham McNeill, historical wargames with the Perry Twins and still has time to bring up a two-year-old? On top of that he wrote 7th Edition Warhammer, 5th Edition 40k, the Lord of the Rings strategy battle game and is currently engaged in writing a rule set for Mantic Games. Rumour has it he’s also worked out the solution to world peace, but he just has too much on his plate to get it down on paper at the moment. Chris Fitzsimmons was granted an audience via the power of the interweb to discuss what it means to be a consultant games designer. The following is the transcript of that conversation. You’ve written a lot of games, and I know you like chess, but what games do you play for fun?
Do you still have much time to play or does being a father take all your time up?
Well if you’d asked me that a few years ago, as in, before I had a child, I would have said that at least once a week I indulge in traditional role play with my friends. That group of role players includes quite some names, like Graham McNeill and Phil Kelly. We basically played DnD, Call of Cthulu – that kind of stuff. That was my weekly role play fix. Then I also tended to play boardgames at least once a week, with another group. The most notable member of that group is Jervis Johnson, who is a total board game fanatic.
Well, I don’t have so much now, a two-year-old does tend to absorb a lot of your time when you’re not working. And of course, work went completely mental after I left Games Workshop. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I was afraid of not getting enough work, so I went out of my way trying to find stuff to do. Ultimately I’ve found a bit too much to do! It’s a bit of a hectic period at the moment.
Boardgames with Jervis Johnson would be ace! What did you play? Well, the group tends to prefer “Euro games”, things like Carcassonne and Puerto Rico, they have a massive collection. However, I am slightly more into what is known as “Ameritrash”. I’m a big Axis and Allies player and I have all the old MB games. Things like Fortress America, Shogun and all of that. Finally of course I did a lot of wargaming at work when I was at Games Workshop. I have to say that recently I am playing less war games, not surprising I suppose. But, I have started playing a bit of Historical. Perhaps it’s because I’m old! I quite enjoy Black Powder and Flames of War. I’m very fortunate that I can just turn up at the Perry Twins’ house and play in a fantastic gaming room. Pick a period, pick a terrain and go for it! It’s great.
To tell you the truth, actually I wasn’t expecting to get so much stuff proposed to me so quickly, so yes, in actual fact I was a bit surprised at that myself. It was like ‘Woah! Okay!’ It was a pleasant surprise though. So what exactly are you up to at the moment? Well, right now I’m working as a consultant for both Mantic Games and Warlord Games. Also we just sent Turanga, the expansion for Shuuro, to the printers. In addition, and I think this is a bit of an exclusive, I’m writing a sci-fi novel in Italian. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid and I started it long, long ago. Since I went part time at GW I decided I wanted to finally finish it.
Why did you choose to write in Italian not English? Well, it’s a confidence thing really. One of the biggest barriers to writing for me is my own brain telling me every day that the story isn’t good enough. It’s not interesting. People won’t enjoy it. Who’s going to read it? I had to find some way of getting more confidence in my work, and that was by writing in my mother tongue. I believe that my written Italian is better than my written English. I can certainly write in English, but I don’t have the depth of vocabulary that I have in Italian. What about your current gaming projects? Well, we’ve now sold out of the first print run of Shuuro, but I think it’s only half done. Really what you need is the expansion, Turanga, which is the dog’s bollocks! It turns Shuuro into a two against two game with no verbal communication allowed between teammates, which can lead to some really interesting games! [For those of you who don’t know what Shuuro is, check out the Test Dummies’ review in issue 4] In reality these two games are still pretty small, we have no expensive marketing, so it’s all about word of mouth and growing little-by-little. However you will be able to get them both from Maelstrom Games very soon. Of course it’s now been announced that you are developing the Kings of War ruleset for Mantic Games. How did that project come about? Well, when I stopped working for Games Workshop, the director of Mantic, Ronnie Renton and I started talking.
He asked if I’d like to develop some rules for their miniatures, and how could I say no? To see a recreation of how it all went down, just go onto YouTube and search for ‘River Horse 1’. So is this the first time you’ve built a rules system from scratch? Well, it’s the first time I’ve done it on my own. Rick Priestley and I worked from scratch on Warmaster and Lord of the Rings, he was the lead writer and I developed a lot of the rules and wrote the army lists. When people ask me, I say that Rick is my guru and Jervis is my sempai. So, while we’re on game design and designers, the Mantic system is going to have a public beta. What are your thoughts on that? Well it was Ronnie’s idea – he’s the director of the company and it’s his choice. I have been asked to write the system. It’s important that we stress that Riverhorse will do exactly what you ask us. We design to a brief, or a set of miniatures in this case. I’m doing the design of this game. But, there will be also a lot of development, which will involve the public. I don’t think a designer can physically listen to the public properly in terms of core mechanics. What it can do is give you play testing for tuning balance, or points costing etc. That kind of information is precious, and Mantic don’t have the resources that a larger company has in terms of play testing. In this case, it’s just me and a few friends! The fine-tuning will be down to the public.
Left to right: Alessio, Alan Perry, Brian Nelson, and Michael Perry, all trying to look grim in the name of Rohan on the Lords of the Rings film set.
Do you have any key philosophies you try to stick to in game design? The mantra that I really started to preach when I was at Games Workshop is basically “Keep It Simple”. I try to think of that all the time. Maybe because I’m getting old I can’t really cope with a huge amount of rules. If I see a game with a lot of rules, I don’t even feel like starting to learn it. To give you an idea, Kings of War including the intro, the rules, the scenario, the picking an army section, and a section on timed games, consists of 12 pages (A5 size!). To the people that say this philosophy is too simplistic, I simply ask them how many pages you need to write the rules of chess. My design style is extremely minimalistic. I just do things very, very brief and small and quick. And one thing that I learned from Rick (Priestley) is wit, fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Frankly in war games, you can write as many pages as you like. There will always be a moment, in every single game system, where you say “Oh damn! What do we do here? It’s not in the rules.” There will always be that situation where you (the players) have to just kind of make it work for yourselves. What’s the point of writing six million pages of rules? You won’t cover every eventuality, so accept it and move on! Are there any game mechanics out there at the moment that you like? As far as war games are concerned, I am a great believer in true line of sight I have to say. Hate mail to… More alert readers than I would have remembered that Alessio introduced the Games Workshop world to the concept of TLoS with the release of 5th Edition WH40K... This elite cadre readers may also have noticed your name in the back of the WHFB 8th edition rulebook. What’s your involvement been with it? Well, I was in charge of writing 7th, and at the time of the briefing for 7th, Gavin Thorpe and I put forward a very long proposal of what we would like to do with the game. Unfortunately at the time Games Workshop was very conservative. They were very afraid of us breaking the game, so they said no, no no, just polish it a bit. I was essentially, as lead writer, asked to do version 6.5. So at the time, most of those changes didn’t see the light of day. For 8th luckily the atmosphere was considerably different. There was a lot more courage on behalf of the company to inject new life into the system. I’m happy to say that quite a few of the changes that we originally suggested for 7th actually got into 8th. Well done Mat!
What do you think drove this change of heart? Was it the success of 40k 5th edition’s revamp, or was it a change of personnel at the top? Well I’d like to think that it was the former, since I wrote fifth edition 40K! But I suspect it’s a combination of that and that the company recognised that the conservative, 7th edition approach to Warhammer didn’t do that well for the game. So let’s bite the bullet. What do you think of 8th edition? Well firstly the book is amazing, fantastic.You can feel the 30 years behind the game when you pick up that book. There is fantastic depth to the content, and it conveys a great sense of gravitas. As far as the rules are concerned, there are bits I like and there are bits I don’t like. It’s a matter of taste I guess. A lot of the bits I like are the ones I wanted to put into 7th obviously! One of the things I always was frustrated with was that I charge in, your front rank gets dropped, and no one fights back. So basically, you can be the most skilled warriors in the world but you might as well be goblins if you get charged. I just like the fact that models now get to fight! That’s my favourite. There are bits I’m not a fan of – I’m a bit of a control freak as you can tell from the games that I design. For example, random movement makes the game less serious now that the dice have more control, but that was something that was very definitely in the design brief. Defend true line of sight in Warhammer! I really don’t understand why people are so worked up about it. I mean, is it that important in Warhammer? In 40k, everyone has a gun that can kill anything, and I can see why it’s a big change, but in Warhammer, does it make such a huge difference? I possibly think it’s much less of a change, because there is less emphasis on shooting. And also what I really love it is that it drops you into the game. It gives you a cinematic experience. There’s no more imagining that there’s a tree there. There either is, or there isn’t. Finally, what’s next for Riverhorse, and yourself? Well, after Turanga, we will release two more expansions for Shuuro. The next expansion after Turanga will add more terrain, including woods, swamps and elemental gates. The following one is fairly radical – it will introduce a combat system. Each piece will have a number of dice (probably 12 sided) depending on how strong it is. Sooner or later we will make armies for it! So, that about wraps up over an hour on Skype with a truly special character. Keep your eyes peeled for future developments from Riverhorse, Mantic and Warlord Games over the next few months all of which will have the Cavatore touch!
Jeff MacLeod, as well as being the captain of whiskey-chugging, kiltwearing, fun-loving Team Scotland, is the builder and owner of many unique armies, including Narnian themed Wood Elves and a High Elf army from the Citadel of Dusk. This year at the ETC he unveiled his latest project, and like many others we could not help but be drawn to his display. For those of you who weren’t in Germany to see it in the flesh (and for those of you who were but can’t resist a second look), Jeff ’s stunning Dark Elves are displayed on the following pages for your viewing pleasure.
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first, Jeff – what sparked the idea for this army? Well, some might argue it’s a control thing, and that there’s nothing I’d like to do more than be in command of dozens of rippling, nubile bodies wearing nothing but leather underpants with huge codpieces. Such an argument would of course be slander... It was an evolution really. I thoroughly appreciate those odd special moments in cinema when a stirring image strikes you speechless and all you can say is “Cool!” or something lame like that. The film itself might be utter tosh, but just a single brilliant scene can, in my opinion, make the entire thing worthwhile.
The first Narnia film was like that for me – the charge of the centaurs just took my breath away and made forget all those fanboy close-ups of Peter that had been making me retch. Similarly, Troy had some wonderful images, even if it did butcher the Greatest Story Ever Told. In some respects, 300 was even better. I’ve long been an avid fan of the Spartans and, if I had my way, my daughters would be growing up in an ad hoc agoge* in my very house! Now although some of the fantasy elements of the film didn’t grab me, some of the imagery was utterly awesome. It also echoed numerous ideas that I’d been exploring in Warhammer miniatures and presented an irresistible challenge. So my immediate question was, once I’d seen the film, “how well can I replicate that?” *Editor’s note: for those who don’t speak Ancient Greek, ‘agoge’ was the strict way of upbringing in times of old, based around physical refinement and moral indifference.
What sort of research do you traditionally carry out for your army projects? (apart from tuning your abs and shouting ‘This is SPARTA!’ a lot, obviously.)
Did you experience any specific challenges when recreating the distinctive palette or conversions in this army? How did you overcome them?
Research? Well, apart from that, lots of adult films! I also like getting dressed up as Indiana Jones, but that’s not specific to this particular project...
There were a lot of challenges in this army that I wasn’t confident I was up to.
For the Narnians I simply worked from hundreds of freeze-frame moments and then did everything I could to recreate what I’d seen. For the Spartan Dark Elves it was similar. I had wanted to combine the best bits of 300, Troy and a hint of the terribly disappointing Clash of the Titans, so I went through these ad nauseam. In both cases I bought probably 3 or 4 times as many models as I eventually used, most proving unsuitable. In addition my favourite art-form is classical sculpture, and a couple of centuries ago I spent one glorious year in Rome pretending that I liked smoking, learning enough Italian to get slapped in the face, and absorbing classical sculpture in my favourite museums – particularly the Vatican and Capitoline. From these I learned that the hardest thing to achieve in a static medium is movement and tension. I developed an appreciation for this and I’ve applied it a lot in my modelling of figures in motion.
Fearsome converted Cold One Chariot.
Firstly, the aforementioned movement. The Spartans in 300 present such a dynamic and wonderfully choreographed series of battle sequences that I really wanted to capture this. As a sports medicine doctor I have a good knowledge of anatomy and movement, so this helped. Then to get the pose correct, I would adopt it myself (in my windowless attic!) until I knew where the limbs were and how the weight was distributed. I wanted this movement intertwined with the scarlet, flowing cloaks of the Spartans. The cloaks themselves weren’t hard, but ranking up the models became a total nightmare! The next challenge was the overall lighting. I really liked the grainy, warm, “bronze” lighting of the film. Too warm for night lighting, but too dark and the contrasts too stark for daylight. I had no real idea how to achieve this, and procrastinated for a long time. Then I just did what I always do when I get stuck, and made it up. To get the grainy feel I spray undercoated from a distance which resulted in a slightly roughened surface on the models. Then a series of dry-brushing, dip, highlighting and washing, in keeping with an overhead light source, had the desired effect. I went back and blackened out some of the shadows to increase the contrast, and finished the red cloaks with a magenta glaze which really livens them up. Jeff’s centrepiece unit (or at least one of them) – the deadly Black Guard.
You have quite a deal of experience when it comes to painting ‘source lighting’ effects – what sort of tips would you give avid painters who want to try their hand at it themselves? Well, I wouldn’t say I have a lot of experience! I’m still not very good at it yet, but it is surprisingly easy to get a good effect. If you want to have a go at it, ‘Google’Victoria Lamb’s tutorial first.You’ll want to start with a dark model – my first attempt was with High Elves which was quite difficult. Dark, evil armies are the perfect thing to use this technique on. Then just practice. There are a couple of ways to do it, but for tabletop quality just go with soft dry-brushing from something like red gore through to a mix of golden yellow and white. I find the orange fire stage (Vallejo) the most important. Keep in mind where the light is coming from and what the light would strike, and that the distant objects must have just a hint of red, and the closest objects will be nearly as light as the source. Surfaces perpendicular to the light source – especially edges – will reflect more light, but as they pick up more paint during the dry-brushing process that sort of takes care of itself.Yellow-orange glazes are then really important to make the brightest parts “glow”. Finally, a strong light source creates contrasts of light and shadow, so you may to go back and black ink the shadows and recesses to emphasise this. For the whole process start very subtle otherwise you’ll just create an orange mess. You can always go back and re-do it if the effect is not strong enough – I had to redo the lighting on the Hydra twice before I was happy.
Do you have a favourite unit or piece in the army, and if so why is it special to you? Well, my favourite unit has to be the fighting Spartans themselves – the Black Guard. They were the inspiration for the entire army and, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want abs like that! What do you use to keep yourself going during the difficult stages of a project? I rely entirely on a sequence of procrastination and trouser-soiling panic. Blogs such as in The Glass Cabinet on warhammer.org.uk help a lot, as you commit yourself and create expectations among other gamers that you don’t want to fall short of. Tournaments give you a deadline to work to, without which I would never finish a thing. Sleep deprivation, coffee and access to polypharmacy then plays an important role. Finally, when the horrid truth sinks in and you realise that you really have left it too late to finish in time, cut the seat out of your painting chair and rig up a blowtorch to warm your nether regions – it works wonders!
Badass (can we say badass?) Shades.
Hydra, with extra burny death.
Altar of Khaine, complete with ghost of Aenarion!
Converted Dark Riders, with more skulls than Khorne!
Sneaky Harpies, built from the Gamezone range.
Stabby Spearmen â€“ extra points for picking out all the different models that have been used.
THE HOBBY CORNER James Hyde
Lean, Mean, Themed Machine
Remember that “Domus” guy from issues 1 & 2? Well, we were a bit worried about him since we hadn’t seen him in a few months, and when we went around to his place to see what was up we saw why: he’d been watching Lost… Anyway, after a few days of intense psychotherapy (involving a blindfold and a number of whacky sticks), we got him back on the hobby wagon and this issue managing to convince him to write an article about one of his favourite subjects – themed armies. Domus: I was first introduced to the concept of army theming by the cover of a White Dwarf magazine. It was shortly after the Tomb Kings release, and the newest White Dwarf magazine was released with Sean Lukie’s Tomb Kings army on the cover. The army was based around the then recent movie, The Mummy Returns and featured a “Scorpion King” as his Tomb King. Numerous other conversions were included in the army, Egyptian style headdresses on every skeleton for example, to further convey this theme. Needless to say, I was blown away at such an idea of using conversions and painting to have your army convey some special imagery. Being very new to the hobby, I was more than a bit afraid to try and tackle such a project so I filed it away in the ol’ mental catalogue for future reference. Over the course of the next couple of years I started becoming heavily involved in the tournament scene, and after starting to attend more and more events I saw more amazing examples of themed armies: a Witch Hunter Empire army, Feudal Samurai Bretonnians, and then finally a stunningly themed Ogre Kingdoms army from Mike Butcher.
This last army was what set the standard for me in the army theme concept department. Mike did not theme his army around a “known” theme (like The Mummy or Witch Hunters) but rather converted all of his models in a similar fashion and created a truly unique ogre army. Gorgers with cages on their heads and lots of extra bits on every model were featured. Mike had even gone to the next level and used little skulls that slid onto counters behind the models to denote wounds. I was completely inspired and knew at that moment this was the level that I needed to take my hobby. I immediately set about determining which army I would use and what theme I would employ. The end result was my army I’m most proud of – a Forest Spirit Wood Elf army with ‘emerging’ Dryads, fall colours and lots of pumpkins. I followed that up with 1000 points of Sigmarite Ogres for use in the Adepticon Team Tournament, which I talked about briefly in Issue 2.
Origins (getting inspired) Army themes can take on a number of forms. The level and extensiveness of the project is always up to the hobbyist himself (or herself), and the great thing about a theme is that it can be whatever you want it to be. However, the origin of themed armies usually falls into one of the following categories:
Easily Identifiable Themed using a familiar subject matter from either the Warhammer World or from Pop Culture. (Witch Hunter Empire/ Mummy Returns Tomb Kings / Sigmarite Ogres / Samurai Rats / Araby Tomb Kings are all good examples of this type of theming).
Army List I’ve seen many army themes that started with a specific army list or common troop type (Bretonnian Peasants, Clan Pestilens Skaven, Dark Elf Khainite/Witch Elf Army etc…)
Fun Silly themed armies (Smurfs, Santa, Hello Kitty, etc..)
Tying it all together Of course, deciding on your exciting theme is only half the work. And believe me, the second half (executing) is a lot larger! Again, the extend to which you want to go is entirely up to you – some people are satisfied with a simple head swap here or there to break up the monotony of their rank and file models, others feel the need to sculpt Aztec pyramids in the middle of their units or drill holes in their models to insert tiny LED lights. Below are various ways to convey your theme and examples of how I chose to do it for each of my armies mentioned.
The Models An easy choice, you say? I disagree. There are countless miniature ranges to choose from, and if you’re inclined you can even trawl the back catalogues and find the real gems, archaic figures from decades ago. Some are hard to find and some are expensive. Kit bashing is an excellent option when using plastics – and don’t be afraid to combine miniatures from two different ranges if it suits your needs. When thinking about a new army I tend to spend a lot of time researching miniature options and possible conversions before making any investments. The hardest truth to accept in this department is to know your limitations. My initial concept for my Wood Elf army was to be a completely Native American Indian force.
After lots of research, I quickly discerned that there were no models available that I liked and I would be forced to perform intensive sculpting on every model (I would have based them on Wood Elf legs and Ungor torsos, for the record). Sadly, it was an aspiration that was well beyond my limitations. I did find a great use for kit-bashing with my Sigmarite Ogre Kingdoms, though: Gnoblars mixed with the plastic Flagellant bits really helped convey the theme to my singularly biggest (& smallest) unit on the table. Due to the small arms of the Gnoblars almost everything needed pinning, but these are things you learn as you go along! I even used the Valten figure as a statue on the unit filler.
The Basing Another very important aspect to the army and one I try to plan out somewhat meticulously. My Wood Elf army used cork, sand, various resin tree stumps and lots of green stuff pumpkins for basing materials. Topped off with lots of dried birch seed bits dyed in various fall colours. The Sigmarite Ogres were the complete opposite, very sparse basing materials (some cut up building bits and sand) with the main portion of the base simply being a painted cobblestone pattern.
The conversions finish the job that the models started. They are the details that ultimately help carry the army theme home. My Wood Elf army featured forest spirits emerging from trees and my Sigmarite Ogres carried big Sigmar-style hammers. Often the little details help the most – I used chain to add “belts” to all of my Ogres.
The painting is not only the major tool, but also one of the most expressive, to convey the theme of your army. Freehand, source lighting, texturing, and weathering are just some of the techniques you can use for your painting to enhance your theme. In my Wood Elf army I painted the Wild Rider horses with a woodgrain pattern to make it appear as if they were living creatures of wood. In my Ogre army, the paint’s showcasing roles were showing off the bases, striping the Ogre pants, and as freehand for the various books used throughout the army to spread the word of Sigmar.
The Extras Inspired by what I had seen others do I decided to create all themed gaming aids for my Wood Elf army and no longer use any purchased aids. This resulted in me first creating wound markers using the same type of pumpkins I’d been adding to bases with the centre drilled out. I also decided to make some charge markers. A bit of knife work and glue and I created “arrow” shaped charge markers out of twigs from my yard. A GF9 wooden turn counter saw sand and bits glued to it to create a themed turn counter as well. There are countless ways to convey your theme. What’s that old saying? Your imagination, and the new True Line of Sight rules*, are the only limits. At least, in my experience – if you end up being inspired enough to try a themed project for yourself, write to me and let me know what else you find out! *Sorry, couldn’t resist!
There are of course additional things to keep in mind when you’re embarking on a themed army project. It will take a substantial amount of time, and it may end up costing you more money than a normal army would. My Wood Elves certainly did. But in return for your investment you will be the proud owner of a unique force that is completely and instantly recognisable as yours. It is well worth the effort, trust me.
The Dark Side
You ever have a day like this? You’ve just finished painting your sixtieth skaven (whew, I’ve got just enough to field two units) when you suddenly wish you could take a break and add a little more variety to your painting table. I’m not talking “It’s time to start on the rat ogres” variety… I’m talking “man it’d be fun to paint some undead hookers right about now.” Really, Russ? Undead hookers? Well, perhaps in your head it’s steam punk wild-west cowboys. Or maybe it’s demonic toddlers who hide knives behind their backs and work with giant evil teddy bears. The point is every once in a while we all get the urge to paint something really weird.
Actually, I should say “Wyrd,” as in “Wyrd Miniatures,” a company that has managed to not only craft the models described above, but also fit them into a single game system that is as unique as the inhabitants which populate it: Malifaux
w, lo ok at t he baby!”
Teddy just wants you to love him. And his friends.
Now wait, before you flip ahead to the battle report thinking “great, another skirmish game” let me give you the quick overview of what sets Malifaux apart: card driven core mechanics, unique models, and extremely in depth scenario design. Let’s start with the core mechanics: Malifaux is not like other miniature wargames. Oh sure you move your guys around with a tape measure, use templates to check AOE effects, all that good stuff. But when it comes to figuring out who shot who or if your spell strikes home, it’s time to start flipping cards. That’s right, Malifaux does not use dice, ever. Instead of our beloved plastic polyhedrals each player will be using a standard deck of playing cards. Or if you want to get fancy you can buy a themed deck from Wyrd. The only difference is the themed decks have cool full colour artwork and the suite names change: Hearts become Rams, Spades become Crows, Diamonds become Masks and Clubs become Tomes. Even jokers are used. A red joker is the best possible card (akin to rolling double 6) and a black joker is the worst (like rolling double ones). These are the players ‘fate decks’ and each player will be managing a hand of cards drawn from these decks at the start of each turn. But don’t think of these “fate decks” as simply thirteensided dice. Most of the time it is a mini-game to see if a shot hits or a spell succeeds. These mini-games are called ‘duels’. If Perdita, the buxom gunslinger who works for the guild, is going to shoot a Sabertooth Cerberus, the multi-headed long toothed tiger, her player flips the top card from their fate deck and adds her combat skill to the number shown on the card. Then the owner of the Sabertooth Cerberus flips a card from his fate deck, and adds the defensive value of the model to the number flipped. The difference between the attacker’s total and
This guy auditioned to be a part of Megadeth’s latest tour, but was refused on the grounds that he was “too short”. It’s a hard life being a 28mm figure.
Now now, what have we told you about accepting candy from strangers?
the defender’s total indicates the quality of the hit, and thus dictates how damaged is determined. But it’s not quite that simple. After both sides have flipped their cards and determined their totals, the current underdog in the duel has the option to “cheat fate”, that is, replace the card flipped with a card from his hand. Let’s say Perdita flipped a 5 and her combat skill is a 7, which puts her total at a 12. The Sabertooth flipped a 10 and has a 5 defence, so his total is a 15. Perdita is currently going to miss her target. But Perdita’s player checks his hand and sees he has a 9 and decides to cheat fate, replacing his flipped 5 with the 9. Now the duel stands at 16 to 15, with the Sabertooth getting shot with a nice hit, unless his player can cheat fate.
And there is more! If one of the combatants is a master, or other super elite character, they can burn a soul stone to enhance the duel even further. Soul stones are a rare commodity in the Malifaux universe from which magical energy is drawn. At the start of each game each side will have a pool of soul stones to use for the duration of the battle. The size of your pool is related to your master and how large your force (aka crew) is. Basically if you decide to bring less points to the table than your opponent you’ll have more soul stones to work with. But each soul stone is one use only for the game.
There’s also an interesting meta game that develops. Since turns are integrated (i.e. on side fully activates a model, then the other side does the same) and since your hand of cards does not replenish until the end of the turn, you have some tough choices. Should you use that awesome 11 card you’re holding to ensure your current shot hits? Or should you hold it for defence in case your opponent has a nasty attack coming? Maybe if you hit your opponent’s master really hard with an early shot it will draw out the good cards form his hand before he attacks you?
Back to our example, Perdita has cheated fate and now she is winning the duel 16 to 15. The Sabertooth player also decides he’ll cheat fate, and replaces his original 10 card with a 13 (a king in a standard deck), bringing his total 18 vs Perdita’s 16. Looks like Perdita will miss, but wait, she is a master. Her player decides this shot is a big deal and really wants it to hit, so he burns a soul stone to flip another card and ADD it to his current total. He flips an 8, which brings makes the duel’s total 24 to 18, Perdita’s favour. And since the Sabertooth is not a master, his player doesn’t have the option to use a soul stone.
Again, there is a lot that goes on in a single combat strike. But have you ever played a skirmish game with 5-6 models, spent hours painting your beautiful little band only to have your leader die on the first shot due to a lucky roll? When you have a low model count game, you want options, you want moves, you want to feel like your lovingly painted characters have a chance to dodge that bullet and return fire.
And that’s how a single combat strike can play out in Malifaux. There’s more of course, the suits that were involved may activate trigger abilities on your character which cause more damage, improve defence, etc. It’s definitely more complex than your typical miniature game, but it really shines at the skirmish level. Each gun shot, sword swing, and spell cast feels like it slows down to an almost Matrix-like slow mo as players work out the exact details of the attack with moves and counter moves. The lady Perdita, a Guild Gunslinger – because she’s worth it.
Speaking of lovingly painted, let’s talk about the Malifaux models. Wyrd miniatures started as a miniature company, and added the game later. It shows. Their sculpts are beautiful, creepy, and very dynamic. Just a quick trip through the Wyrd website shows an amazing amount of variety all at an astounding level of quality. My only caution here is that because the sculpts are so well done and detailed, assembling some of the more advanced models can be tricky, there are many small parts. Not a big deal for a veteran modeller, but something for someone new to hobby wargaming to keep an eye on. Before I wrap up I wanted to touch on one other area I think Malifaux excels in: scenarios. Most wargames add encounters (or scenarios) rules on as almost an afterthought. Not Wyrd. In Malifaux the encounter system covers a huge section of both of their books. In fact, they’ve completely re-worked it in their first expansion book. These encounters, with both known and secret objectives on both sides, really add a lot to game play and a lot to replay ability of the game even between two crews who face each other often. But it’s not just encounter rules. Sections of the books cover all kinds of terrain that can be used in a Malifaux game, with fun rules for just about anything that you may already have in your gaming cabinet. In fact, the eclectic nature of the Malifaux world means that the game feels right at home on just about any table you’ve got. Steam punk? Sure. Tudor medieval buildings? Yep. Gothic ruins? No problem. So the next time you’re feeling like it’s time to try something Wyrd, er, weird, check out the Malifaux book at your local game store. There’s bound to be something in there that catches your fancy. And the game plays like no other. Did I mention there are undead hookers?
Reader’s Rant Twilight:
A Tale of Disappointment
? John Doe
My wife has recently discovered the joys of a genre of literature I previously didn’t think existed or, upon examining it, should ever have been allowed to exist. This is, of course, the genre of “Paranormal Romance” (which, sadly, is not as kinky as it sounds). On seeing the section in my local bookstore I, like your average open-minded man, presumed they were just books on necrophilia (a common enough and socially acceptable practice in many areas of rural Ireland). And, being an openedminded bloke who had dabbled in the realms of dwarfs, lady boys and domestic pets, I gave props to the missus and shouted encouragement as she paid at the till. Finally she’s decided to broaden her horizons. And if she wanted to act out her fantasies I could happy lie on the bed not moving and play dead while she had her way with me. After all it was only fair, she’d be doing that for me since we got married. So one night, feeling a bit randy (it must have been a Wednesday) I raised the subject of the genre and asked The Woman if she wanted to do a little hands-on research together. To my delight she squealed in excitement and suggested we watch the DVD first. This stuff came on DVDs?! Good lord. This was going to be one epic night.
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So there I was, sitting on the couch waiting for it to start. I took a quick look at the DVD cover. Twilight, eh? It sounded erotic already, plus it had young women, vampires and werewolves to boot – necrophilia and bestiality in the one movie, that’s what I call a toofer. My Wednesday night shorts began to tighten; I hadn’t been this excited about a movie since the original Willy Wonka in 1971 (and that was for completely different reasons, I assure you).
My wife seats herself, having fetched chocolate and tissues. Kinky, I like that. The movie begins to roll. Now, you’ve probably seen Twilight or are at least ‘aware’ of it, so you can imagine my horror as the movie progressed. This wasn’t what I’d bargained for. Where were the gratuitous shots down young ladies’ tops? Where were the people caught in uncompromising positions with farmyard animals? Hell, there wasn’t even a single corpse being given a good seeing to. In fact, the main character struggled to even kiss the girl. I checked the cover again to make sure it was one of those “men’s interest” films my dad used to make me watch. But no, it was a sick perversion of pasty white teenagers whining for two hours about their love lives – an Emo version of Home and Away with better accents. I remember when vampires were cool and when werewolves, being more hairy and manly, were even cooler. But their majesty has now been purged from my mind. Now, every time I think of a vampire, instead of a neatly dressed gentleman surrounded by scantily clad beauties I imagine a skinny little Goth with badly permed hair and a distemper.Vincent Price would turn in his grave if he saw the mockery this had become, though I am not convinced he’s actually dead. That’s unless he’s actually dead of course, you never can tell with him. Later that night, as my wife cuddled into my chest and I lay in mute shock staring at the ceiling, she whispered, ‘I’m glad you enjoyed the movie, hon. Maybe tomorrow we can watch the sequel.’ There are sequels??! For the love of God.
A Shot In The Dark ASGER SAMS GRANERUD (DARK ELVES) vs ANDERS NøHR (EMPIRE) With the ETC over and done with – a very fitting farewell to Warhammer’s 7th edition which we have enjoyed for so many years now – the attention of gamers everywhere is being directed entirely towards that brave new world: 8th edition. There has been a smell of fear in the air when it comes to these strange new rules (or was that just the local squirrel populace that Lergy has been terrorising?), and even experienced players have been struggling to get their heads around how to best work within the new game’s parameters. For this issue’s battle report we wanted to have an 8th edition game that showcased not only some of the more interesting rules changes, but also gave a couple of veteran gamers the chance to embarrass themselves in print. Err, we mean, show us how it’s done. With Denmark having proved themselves at the ETC, we thought who better to test drive the new rules than these champions? We tracked the vikings back to their lair in Copenhagen, and there commandeered two of their forerunning players to fight us a game. Both players are using the same armies they used at the ETC, so we were sure to witness a good scrap! Asger Sams Granerud (Dark Elves) has been on the Danish team since the ETC first began, and actually holds the record for the highest battle points scored in a single event.
He went undefeated in Munster this year and looks set to continue wreaking havoc for his rivals back home in the remainder of 2010. This year was the first ETC for Anders Nøhr (Empire), but he played out of his skin and was not only one of the highest ranked Empire players in the tournament but also played a key role as one of Denmark’s offensive weapons in their quest for the top prize. This report actually recounts what happened during the boys’ second game. For all of our battle reports we like to have a bit of a warm-up game beforehand, and this first encounter ended in turn 2 when Asger conceded. Let’s hope the second game was a bit closer so that we actually had something to write about! When we asked the Danes what kind of game they would like to play, we were surprised to discover that they’d already planned the whole thing out! They are currently practicing for the largest tournament in Denmark, Giant Fanatic, and decided to use our report as an excuse to get in another trial game. I suppose we can’t really complain, can we? For more details on the Giant Fanatic tournament and the restrictions being used, check out www.giantfanatic.dk. In terms of scenario they decided to stick with the straightforward Battleline.
‘I think you are underestimating the sneakiness…’ Asger: Hmm, a battle report to be done for the best independent wargaming magazine out there? Could I say no to an invitation even if I really didn’t have the time? Not a chance! I knew from the start that this game would be an entirely different kettle of fish than the just passed ETC. I’ve recently thrown away my 7th edition rulebook and started working my head around 8th edition, but both Anders and I still have very limited 8th edition experience so I am sure that some of our ideas and concepts will not seem quite as clever or innovative by the time you read this – even if they might seem clever now! Picking my army was both difficult and easy at the same time. Difficult, because I’ve only had a few games with Dark Elves in 8th edition. Easy, because I haven’t had time to update the army to 8th edition hence I was somewhat limited in my choice of models. Starting from the Rare choices (as I am wont to do) I decided against bringing my trusted pair of bolt throwers. They’ve served me very well in the past, but I feel like they have now become more fragile, harder to hide, easier to hunt, and their payoff has been hindered somewhat by the increase of basic grunts and less vulnerable, expensive targets than before. The Hydra on the other hand really only got better, but since I don’t have a painted model that one was dropped as well. The trusted Shades were kept in – they had to be, really. More marching, marching and shooting and the new scout rules all combine to make these guys as much a pain as they were before, if not more. Striking in initiative order means that if you can keep these guys out of harm’s way from heavy cavalry and big infantry blocks (which they excel at), then support units will struggle immensely trying to deal with them, especially when factoring in the potential Cauldron boosts. 10 Cold One Knights were picked as a big strong assault unit that will often be deployed 10 models wide. Cauldron synergy and the armour piercing banner ensures that they can also fight the grinding battle that 8th has allegedly become.
Dark Riders and Harpies were brought for the usual harassment role, and will try to keep enemy artillery occupied for the first turns, perhaps even taking out some of it, while Crossbowmen are still a great choice for shooting and the occasional combat (especially with the lowered penalties of giving away standards, making them worth taking on most units). The large block of Warriors also have some great options with the Cauldron and can grind down many different units while also providing a reliable static combat resolution block and something Steadfast to the army. On to the characters then, and by now it should be obvious that I still believe the Cauldron is viable. It has a great flexibility and lots and lots of synergy with the list. I (for once) kitted out the Death Hag for combat, where she can hopefully land a cheeky killing blow on any heavily armoured characters confident of an easy fight. The new magic phase is a must-have and thus the general was promptly picked as a Supreme Sorceress. I speculated at length about which lore to pick, Metal being good for the lack of ranged armour crunching skills in the list, Shadow simply having so much sneakiness potential, and Death for all the character assassination and the additional power dice generation. Fire was the only lore I really discounted. In the end I went for Dark magic though. The relatively reduced casting costs of the spells was very attractive which allows me trying to spam several spells a turn, often 3-4 of them: a strategy I have been wanting to try in order to maximise the +4 to cast and trying to get it as many times a turn as possible instead of relying on a strategy of one big spell a turn. Moreover the Soul Stealer spell is great for dealing with horde units, as is Black Horror (both also have potential against armour). I kitted her out with the Focus Familiar both in order to increase the range of her spells, but also to give her the chance to actually hide and still be effective. A ward save seems more necessary for wizards in 8th than before and hence I gave her the Black Amulet which, if I get the Soul Stealer spell, can hopefully allow me to put her in harms way without having to worry too much. Lastly I added a level 2 apprentice Sorceress to assist with channelling, add redundancy, bring some Metal magic to the table, and of course carry the solitary, essential Dispel Scroll.
‘Shoot first, ask questions later.’ Anders: Despite having a great time at the ETC 2010 I am glad my last game of 7th edition Warhammer is over. While I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two versions of the game it seemed to have become a bit stale towards the end – revolving too much around pedantic positioning and avoiding risky situations like unpredictable close combats. Magic and shooting were quite dominant and I do think it was time for a breath of fresh air… And 8th edition certainly is that! The game seems to have changed entirely in many ways, and veteran players all over are breaking their necks to figure out what will emerge as the new ‘gold standards’ of competitive play. Some are worried that the seemingly increased amounts of random elements in 8th (charge range, powerful spells etc.) will make the game more luck-based and less skillbased. On the other hand, who is to know at this early point, what might become apparent within the next few months? Interesting times… Alright, enough rambling for now and on to the game at hand. Asger and I will play Dark Elves and Empire, which are armies we know very well and also played at the ETC. What we don’t know is how to get the most out of them in this new world of 8th edition. We will make them as ‘standard tournament all-comers lists’, so no anti-Dark Elf tactics in the making of the army. Although, regarding Empire, I do have some preliminary thoughts: First of all, even though infantry certainly got a boost, I’m still not entirely convinced.Yes, they might hold their ground, but if they die in droves and rarely kill the opponents or win the combats, how much good will that do me? Perhaps a combined arms tactic with Knights could work, but it does require more units to be in the right places and not occupied or fleeing off the board. I’m going to take a unit of 21 Swordsmen to try them out. Knights, on the other hand, appeal to me for a couple of reasons. Durability: a 1+ armour save goes a long way. Speed and reliability: 7”+3d6 (-1d6) is a lot faster, and somewhat less random, than 4”+2d6. Furthermore,
the second rank also hitting with lances makes quite a difference. Oh, and they can’t be Stomped on. I will use a unit of 9 Knights with a Warrior Priest for hatred to make the most out of that crucial charge – and a Steel standard for a bit of extra charge range that just might catch Asger off guard... I’ll also bring a unit of 6 where I might keep my Wizard Lord and/or Battle Standard Bearer. I finished off my Core selections with two units of Handgunners, who are always useful for picking off support troops or thinning the enemy’s ranks. Banners in all of my units not only looked good, but would also help when it came to fending off Asger’s ancillary units like Harpies. The Empire artillery got a nice boost in 8th edition. They can see practically everything on the board, always “guess” perfectly and there are no partial hits from templates anymore…ouch! Seeing as he is so cheap and no longer takes up a character slot, I bought a Master Engineer to see if he can laser-guide the Helstorm and a Cannon (standing within 3” of each). If he flunks his task then it’s only 65pts wasted, but if he doesn’t then the difference could be huge. For my characters I was pleased to discover that I could afford both an 18” Ld9 War Altar general and a level 4 Wizard Lord, which is very nice. I’m gonna go with the Lore of Metal, which might seem a bit risky since some armies don’t use a lot of armour, however the new wording on the hits of the Metal spells means that Toughness is irrelevant, so even Wood Elf armies will suffer a great deal with flaming hits wounding on 3+ on their Treeman, for example. And besides, I have the luxury of knowing the entire Lore of Light on my War Altar! The final additions to the army were 5 Pistoliers and a Captain on Pegasus. Both units are somewhat vulnerable (then again so is a lot of my army!) but they are very flexible, great at taking out enemy support, and a lot of fun to use too! Anyway, I could go on and on. Let’s take it to the field of battle instead…
Asger’s Dark Elves 2146pts Supreme Sorceress – 355 Level 4, (Dark Magic), Focus Familiar, Black Amulet
24 Warriors – 198 Shields, full command, Banner of Swiftness
Death Hag – 275 Battle Standard, Cauldron of Blood, Touch of Death, Black Lotus
5 Harpies – 55
Sorceress – 160 Level 2, (Metal Magic), Dispel Scroll 10 Crossbowmen – 115 Standard, musician 10 Crossbowmen – 115 Standard, musician 5 Dark Riders – 104 Standard 5 Dark Riders – 104 Standard
Anders’s Empire 2250pts Arch Lector – 272 Great weapon, heavy armour, War Altar, Charmed Shield, Van Horstman’s Speculum
5 Harpies – 55
Wizard Lord – 285 Level 4, (Metal Magic), warhorse, Seal of Destruction, Opal Amulet
7 Shades – 119 Additional hand weapon 8 Shades – 136 Additional hand weapon 10 Cold One Knights – 355 Full command, Banner of Murder; Luckstone, Dragonhelm Astute readers will note that Asger’s army is 100pts less than Anders’s. Only Asger can explain why this is – either he decided to handicap himself for the game, or he just plain forgot!
Captain – 119 Battle standard, lance, warhorse, Armour Meteoric Iron, Luckstone Warrior Priest – 120 Barded warhorse, heavy armour, shield, Dragonhelm Captain – 143 Full plate armour, Pegasus, Sword of Might, Enchanted Shield, Potion of Foolhardiness Master Engineer – 65
MAGIC Supreme Sorceress
(Dark): Power of Darkness, Chillwind, Doombolt, Soulstealer, Black Horror
(Metal): Power of Darkness, Searing Doom, Final Transmutation
(Metal): Searing Doom, Plague of Rust, Enchanted Blades of Aiban, Final Transmutation
21 Swordsmen – 151 Full command 9 Knights – 267 Full command, Steel Standard 6 Knights – 167 Standard, musician, Gleaming Pennant 10 Handgunners – 90 Standard 10 Handgunners – 90 Standard 5 Pistoliers – 90 Great Cannon – 100 Great Cannon – 100 Mortar – 75 Helstorm Rocket – 115 Battery
Scenario outline Deployment was a very interesting affair from a reporter’s point of view, and really highlighted the difference’s in not only the two players’ playstyles but also the traits of the armies being used. Anders’s Empire deployed very defensively, with the war machines on the back board edge, the character-laden Knights quite deep also, and the rest of the units set up to hold the enemy at arm’s length. Only the Handgunners on the far eastern flank being left isolated. In the practice game Anders had discovered that the combination of vanguarding Dark Riders, flying Harpies and scouting Shades meant that
spreading across the board with his army could quickly lead to an entire flank collapsing, so this time he had set up with an eye to restricting the mobility of those units while still threatening the bulk of Asger’s army. Asger, meanwhile, knew that the safest place for his army to hide from the Empire war machines was in combat, so deployed almost his entire army on the 12” line and looked keen to get into a scrap as soon as possible. Anders’s ploy worked and the Shades set up camp on the ‘refused’ flank, content to shoot up the Handgunners and come into the game later on.
A – Mysterious Forest Enter at your own risk…
B – Regular Hill Ideal for sunbathing and picnics. C – Hill with Scree Slopes As above, but with slippery sections that count as Dangerous Terrain for all but regular movement.
D A A B
D – Impassable Rocky Bits Do you really need a description? It’s big and…rocky. E – Hedge Needs trimming. Apply within.
Deployment Arch Lector
Helstorm Rocket Battery
Cold One Knights
Turn 1 Winning the roll for first turn, Asger launched into action. On the east flank the Repeater Crossbowmen moved up to unleash on their counterparts, while the Dark Riders darted forward to tempt the Knights away from the main body of the Dark Elf army. In the centre the Cold One Knights passed their Stupidity test (thanks to their BSB’s re-roll) and advanced into the forest in front of them. It turned out to be a Wild Wood, and enthusiastically beat two of the cavalrymen to death (much to Asger’s disgust). The Warriors made the most of their extra movement banner and zoomed across the field, eager to get the Sorceresses’ spells in range. The magic phase kicked off with a Chillwind against the Pistoliers, which Anders dispelled. Asger then attempted to blast the Pegasus Captain with a deadly Searing Doom spell, but Anders, remembering the poor Captain’s fate from the practice game and knowing the spell would cause him problems later in the game, used his Seal of Destruction to get rid of the spell for good. The shooting phase was a fairly contained affair, with all of the Shades targeting the Mortar but only managing one wound in total, while nearby the Repeater Crossbows killed three of the Empire Handgunners who were performing a rearguard action on that flank. The panic test was passed, and with that, it was time for Anders to retaliate.
The Empire centre braces for impact.
Winds of Magic DARK ELF PHASE:
6 POWER DICE, 5 DISPEL DICE
6 POWER DICE, 6 DISPEL DICE
Considering how defensively he had deployed, the amount of charges Anders declared in his first turn took everyone by surprise! It began with the eastern Handgunners charging the flank of the closest Shades. Asger held with a confident wink – he clearly had a plan. Next was the Warrior Priest’s Knights gladly taking the offered bait of the Dark Riders and urging their mounts forward. The Dark Riders would have none of it though and fled; the Knights redirected into the closest Shades, who also fled. Finally, the War Altar gear shifted into overdrive and raced forward into the Cold One Knights. Asger held, confident that their Cauldroninduced 5+ ward save would see them through. The rest of Anders’s moves included the Pistoliers racing forward, the Pegasus shifting sideways onto the hill and the Swordsmen edging backwards slightly. Anders had deliberately left his Wizard Lord out of range, and soon it became evident why: all of the six power dice he generated were put into a devastating Soulfire spell from the Arch Lector. At least, it would have been devastating had Asger not managed to ‘channel’ with both his Sorceresses and subsequently dispelled it.
Shooting bore little more fruit, with the Mortar misfiring, the Helstorm scattering wide despite an Engineer re-roll, one Cannon bouncing off the hard as nails Cauldron, and the second one killing only one Warrior and a single Harpy. The Pistoliers did manage to gun down two Dark Riders, though.
In combat, Asger’s plan became evident (“roll better than Anders”, apparently), as his single Shade killed two of the Handgunners assaulting them. With no losses in return the Shades still lost combat thanks to the Handgunners’ banner. They not only passed the break test, but then passed their modified Leadership test to reform as well – uh oh! Elsewhere the War Altar was found lacking, killing only a single Cold One Knight on the charge. The Dark Elves inflicted a wound in return, and the combat looked set to continue for several rounds to come.
Winds of Magic
Turn 2 The Repeater Crossbowmen charged the engaged Handgunners in the flank, while next to them the Dark Riders failed to rally and carried on towards the board edge. Asger continued with his aggressive approach, shoving the Warriors in the face of Anders’s troops despite the risk of losing the Sorceresses. Some Dark Riders darted up behind, while the Harpies closed in on the war machines, and the eastern Repeater Crossbowmen performed a swift reform and prepared to fire on the Cannon opposite. The Wild Wood ate another Cold One Knight. This time it was Doombolt that targeted the Pistoliers, fired backwards thanks to the added line of sight of the Focus Familiar, but it was again dispelled. Black Horror was unleashed at the Swordsmen, but Anders had gambled on using low numbers of dice to dispel and managed to beat Asger’s casting value despite rolling three dice against four. Power of Darkness too was dispelled. With the majority of Asger’s shooting either engaged in combat or just having rallied, it was only the Repeater Crossbowmen firing on the Cannon this shooting phase. They rolled well above average, scoring three wounds and removing the machine from the board.
DARK ELF PHASE:
6 POWER DICE, 7 DISPEL DICE
7 POWER DICE, 4 DISPEL DICE
Combat was equally brutal, with the Shades completely killing the Handgunners before they even had a chance to strike. The War Altar killed another Cold One Knight, but lost the combat, allowing the Cold Ones to reform out of the forest that was eating them. Anders continued his ‘best defence is a good attack’ approach and charged into the Warriors with Swordsmen, supported by the Pegasus Captain. “I haven’t done the maths on that combat,” confessed Anders, “but I’m sure it’s bad!” Elsewhere the Warrior Priest’s Knights again charged the Shades in front of them, who again fled, panicking the Repeater Crossbowmen. The Knights redirected into the second Shades, but fell 1” short and finished their charge inside the fear-causing Abyssal Wood (where they looked very scary, but did little else). That wasn’t nearly all though, with the Pistoliers charging into the exposed flank of the Repeater Crossbowmen, and the Empire Battle Standard Bearer (BSB) solo-charging first one unit of Harpies and then the second unit when they fled (the second unit also fled)!
The best defence is a good offence: the Empire Captain and Swordsmen pounce on the Warriors.
Magic this turn attempted to give the Swordsmen some Enchanted Blades, but this was dispelled. The remaining dice were poured into another Soulfire attempt, but Asger valued the lives of his Cold One Knights too much and produced his Dispel Scroll. Shooting passed largely without incident; with so many things in combat Anders had very few targets. He settled for annihilating three Shades with a hail of rockets, then moved onto combat. The Arch Lector and Cold One Knights again fought a stalemate (a theme had begun emerging here), while nearby the charging Pistoliers made the single required armour save and killed three elves. However the Dark Elves were steadfast and held, but failed to reform. The Dark Elf right flank collapses.
Didnâ€™t you know Pistoliers were good in combat? Neither did Asger.
In the main combat, Asger issued a challenge with his Supreme Sorceress. Anders, wary of Druchii trickery, debated for some time before accepting with his unit champion. This proved wise, as the brave human struck the she-elf for a wound only to have it rebounded in his face by the Black Amulet, killing him. Asger chuckled. The rest of the Dark Elves proved equally deadly, killing four Swordsmen. However, they lost five of their own to the return attacks, including the level 2 Sorceress, and actually lost the combat. They held on a nervous â€˜6â€™.
Turn 3 Asger’s third turn began in calamity, with both the Shades and the Repeater Crossbowmen on the eastern flank failing to rally and fleeing the board. The Dark Riders rallied though, as did both units of Harpies. With almost all the other units in combat, we moved briskly on to the magic phase. A double 6 for the Winds of Magic meant trouble for Anders, and things began in explosive style as the Master Engineer was ripped apart by a Doombolt. Black Horror was then unleashed on the Wizard Lord’s Knight bodyguard, slaying four. Chillwind then killed a further one, casting out of combat thanks to the Focus Familiar. Anders hadn’t used a single dispel dice yet – what was he up to? Soul Stealer was the last spell, targeting the Swordsmen in combat with the Dark Elf Warriors, and Anders vigorously dispelled it using all eight of his dispel dice. That wasn’t coming off! Shooting was once again a brief indulgence for the Dark Elves, with the remaining Shades opening up on the Mortar and killing it, and then all eyes turned to combat… The Cold One Knight champion had finally run out of places to hide and was drawn into a challenge. Despite two blows from the Arch Lector’s mighty great weapon the elf survived thanks to his Luckstone, and the combat went on. The Warrior Priest’s Knights race to save the Arch Lector.
Winds of Magic DARK ELF PHASE:
12 POWER DICE, 8 DISPEL DICE
6 POWER DICE, 5 DISPEL DICE
The Pistoliers, meanwhile, had obviously lost the momentum of their charge and only killed one Repeater Crossbowmen, though they suffered no losses in return. This time the Crossbowmen held and reformed to face their enemies. The main combat between the Warriors and Swordsmen had begun turning sour for the Dark Elves, with the Warriors inflicting no wounds and losing the combat by three. Asger “box-car’d” the first test, but fortunately had moved his Cauldron BSB in range and rolled the required ‘6’ on the second attempt. Things were getting tense… Anders was sick and tired of the Cold One Knights – his War Altar needed to be killing stuff! In an attempt to free up his general, he committed his BSB into the combat as well. The Warrior Priest’s Knights decided that the eastern flank was no longer the place to be, and performed a swift reform to get back into the action. They were also joined by the Wizard Lord, who decided that a bodyguard of a single Knight was no longer sufficient.
This turn’s magic priority was a six dice Timewarp, but it was dispelled by the Dark Elves. Shooting was more successful, with the Cannon firing grapeshot into the Dark Riders that had come hunting it and managing to kill them all! The Rocket Battery, thinking ahead, aimed for the Harpies that were bound to come calling next turn, but things almost went horribly wrong when the shot scattered 8” towards the middle of the Knight unit! Luckily it just missed, shredding a single Harpy instead. The charging BSB got a nasty surprise when a Cold One Knight wounded him, but he managed to pass his save thanks to his own Luckstone. Asger then rudely wounded him with a cold one as well! The Cold One Knights lost the combat, but held. Things looked brighter for Anders when the Pistoliers again shrugged off their enemies attacks and broke the Repeater Crossbowmen, running them off the table and grabbing their banner. In the main combat, the Pegasus Captain could ‘hide’ no longer and was drawn into a challenge against the Supreme Sorceress. Between rider and mount they inflicted four wounds to the magicker, but two of those were bounced back by the Black Amulet, almost* killing the Captain! The Warriors finally decided to use the pointy ends of their spears to attack, killing three Swordsmen for only one loss in return and winning the combat by four. The Empire’s nerve broke, with the Swordsmen fleeing the table and the Pegasus fleeing 8”. The Warriors pursued a measly 2”, losing one member to the hill’s Scree Slope. *Two-wound characters on three-wound mounts effectively gain an extra wound in 8th edition. Attrition proves the humans’ undoing, and the Empire break!
Turn 4 Asger began with the obvious, charging the Handgunners in front of the Warriors. The rest of his moves were fairly contained, with the Shades and Dark Riders racing to get back into the game and the Harpies landing in front of the Knights to delay them. Magic fizzled completely this turn as Asger only rolled 3 power dice, and in his shooting phase the Shades managed to pitch a single Knight from his saddle. The charging Warriors killed seven Handgunners on the charge. One plucky soldier attempted to take the last wound from the Supreme Sorceress, but got a fatal shock when the Black Amulet once again rebounded the blow. Asger cackled gleefully as he ran the unit down, chasing the Pegasus off the table in the process. The challenge between the Cold Ones’ champion and the Arch Lector saw the cold one wound the Altar, but the Arch Lector smashing the champion into the ground with his great weapon in return. Meanwhile, the two remaining Cold One Knights had been given killing blow from the Cauldron, and with a burst of what Asger referred to as “reverse dice psychology” managed to drop the Empire BSB with a deadly strike! Dastardly Harpies delay the relief party – damn their ears!
Winds of Magic DARK ELF PHASE:
3 POWER DICE, 4 DISPEL DICE
7 POWER DICE, 5 DISPEL DICE
The solution, it seemed, was to charge the Warrior Priest out past the Harpies and into the Cold One Knights. After all, there were only two left now – what could possibly go wrong? On the eastern side of the table the Pistoliers re-entered the field, while Anders’s tried to scramble his war machines and escape now that the Warriors were so close. The Knights attempted another swift reform to edge around the Harpies, but failed their Ld9 test and reformed normally instead. The Winds of Magic blew strong for the Empire, and Anders managed to rust the armour of the Cold One Knights with his Metal magic. Soulfire, though, was dispelled with an enthusiastic roll of 30 from Asger – he wanted those last two elves alive!
And for good reason! In combat Asger split his attacks, with one Cold One Knight each attacking the charging Warrior Priest and the Arch Lector. The Warrior Priest suffered a wound, and with a triumphant shout Asger rolled another ‘6’ and killing blowed the Arch Lector! Warrior Priest to the rescue! Or…
Despite the unit being reduced to only one model this was enough to win the combat, and the Warrior Priest broke and ran. Anders said something unpleasant in Danish – which we thought was fair enough really!
Winds of Magic DARK ELF PHASE:
5 POWER DICE, 3 DISPEL DICE
5 POWER DICE, 4 DISPEL DICE
on the other hand rolled amazingly, killing three enemies with their spears! Four of the Shades were slaughtered in return, and the Knights held to fight another round.
Ambush! Dark Riders and Shades assault the Wizard Lord’s bodyguard.
Asger couldn’t resist the temptation of the exposed Knights and granting his Shades killing blow sent them charging into the enemy’s rear. The Dark Riders also joined in, charging the flank. In the distance the Warriors pounced on the Cannon. Again using the Focus Familiar to good effect, the Supreme Sorceress cast Chillwind on the Pistoliers, killing a pair, while Doombolt homed in on the lone retreating Knight standard bearer, frying him in his armour. With all of his shooting either dead, fled or in combat, Asger moved briskly on to the combat phase! The riderless War Altar and single Cold One Knight predictably fought a draw, while the Warriors absolutely butchered the Cannon crew. The charge of the Shades proved truly underwhelming, with only a single cavalryman being cut from the saddle. The Dark Riders
With the Pistoliers unable to shoot, Anders moved them into position to charge the rear of “that last damn Cold One Knight!”. He literally had nothing else left to move (except the fleeing Warrior Priest, who failed to rally) – the Helstorm was the only thing not yet in combat, and the only way it could escape the Harpies now was by killing both units with a single shot. Hmm… The Cold One Knight’s armour became even more rusty in the magic phase – Asger allowed it through and instead saved his dice for Anders’s trump spell: Final Transmutation on the Warriors. The spell failed to cast, however. The Helstorm landed a perfect shot on one of the Harpy units, but the scatter robbed the machine of its satisfaction. In combat, Asger’s last Shade cheekily tried to killing blow the Wizard Lord, but failed and was trampled by flailing hooves. The Dark Riders could not repeat their performance from the previous round, and swallowed hard as the Knights reformed to face them… The War Altar and Cold One Knight had another nonresult. Shocking, we know.
Turn 6 Both units of Harpies descended on the Rocket Battery, sealing the crew’s fate. Asger’s Warriors reformed beside the hill, being very careful not to let the (one wound remaining) Supreme Sorceress get anywhere near the Scree Slope. It wouldn’t do, having her beat off attack after attack only to have her trip in a rabbit hole and snap her ankle!
Winds of Magic DARK ELF PHASE:
5 POWER DICE, 4 DISPEL DICE
9 POWER DICE, 5 DISPEL DICE
Chillwind again targeted the Pistoliers, and Anders, knowing worse was to come, was forced to let it through. A single wounding hit was enough to cause a panic test, but Anders nonchalantly rolled the required ‘6’ for his armour save and said, “is that all you’ve got, punk?”. It was, as it turned out, since Soul Stealer was dispelled and there were no more dice to cast with. Things were less jovial for the Empire in combat as the Harpies ate the Rocket crew and the Cold One Knight wounded the War Altar, but things took a turn for the brighter when the Dark Riders bounced off the Knights’ armour, lost two of their own in return, and broke. Anders’s final turn began with the Warrior Priest again failing to rally. Not a problem though, since fleeing units that are still on the board at the end of the game don’t give up victory points. A roll of double 6 for flee distance helped Anders not at all, and the Warrior Priest joined the ever-growing dead pile. Poor lad. The Pistoliers whooped and hollered as they charged the rear of the final remaining Cold One Knight, while Anders’s remaining Knights stayed in place and watched as the Wizard Lord bolted out of the unit by himself.
The last Cold One Knight finally gets his comeuppance.
The reason for this quickly became apparent – a casting roll of 22 for Final Transmutation against the Warriors inspired Asger to use all of his own dice to stop it, but crucially he only rolled 21 to dispel! Six Spearmen were turned to gold, but neither Asger nor Anders seemed to care. They were both watching the single red dice that would decide the fate of the Supreme Sorceress. It had not fallen flat like the other dice, and spun on its corner for a tantalising few seconds before tumbling down to show a result of……‘2’. She had survived! Justice came in the combat phase, in the form of the Pistoliers finally beating the Cold One Knight to death, several times over in fact. And with that, the game was over. Phew!
Victory Points Dark Elves: 1350 Empire: 1179 Under normal rulebook conditions the Dark Elves would have edged a win by 71VPs, but since the boys were using the Giant Fanatic rules the final result was a:
The survivors of the incredibly bloody game:
Supreme Sorceress, Cauldron, 8 Warriors, 1 Dark Rider, 4 Harpies, 4 Harpies
War Altar, Wizard Lord, 4 Knights, 3 Pistoliers
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Asger: Hmm...what to say and what to do! The dice in this game were incredible, swinging crazily both ways. I am still reeling a bit in shock at how easily my right flank collapsed. My entire flanking force was only facing one unit, which they would have been content running circles around til kingdom come while my shooting tore off war machines in single volleys. Rolling lucky killing blows and nervous break tests though, that was always part of my plan!
Anders: Whoa…that was chaotic. Like a lot of my 8th edition games, I sometimes felt like the game evolved while I just tried to tag along for the ride. That is unlike 7th, where it felt like meticulous control of units could provide a pretty good overview of how the game would probably go. In this game I felt like the game was in control, not me – for example when I felt obligated to charge to avoid being overwhelmed a lot of the time.
Mistakes were made, many of them and big mistakes. The silliest on my part was charging the big Knight unit in the end game – but having just killing blowed the Arch Lector with the one available attack the mood at the table was very much ‘death or glory’, and though it seemed crazy it felt so right! At least I managed to force the break test.
Regarding my army list, there are many things that could be reconsidered. I have six characters in my army, which is a lot! Those points would buy a lot of troopers. However, I feel that they all fulfil important roles in the army, and furthermore, the War Altar and Pegasus Captain function as independent units that can threaten and charge in many ways as well as an infantry or cavalry unit. So for now, I will leave them in.
More subtle mistakes involved me not focusing on getting Soul Stealer cast earlier, by using many dice. Not only should I have done so for the damage and panic output but more importantly I should have done it to secure my Supreme Sorceress, who came far too close to ignoble death far too many times. That reveals a different mistake, which was the focus on many minor spells a turn instead of one big one. The game is no longer about moving steadily around and picking at the edges of the enemy army, it is about big gambles, big combats, and big spells. Many small spells does not fit that strategy, and Anders rightly just absorbed the minor spells while stopping the important ones. Or perhaps we are still both just incompetent at the subtler elements of 8th, time will tell for sure. I did like the Black Amulet and Soul Stealer setup though, and could see it worth repeating but only with a “big spell” approach. I would also redo the Cold One Knight situation. Ironically enough I was originally holding them back so they didn’t get charged by the War Altar, but in hindsight just shoving them forward and then going for the early killing blow could have been the correct course of action. Then again I would normally expect the Cold One Knights to grind down the Altar itself over an average of three’ish turns, so I am not entirely sure. I really do like the Banner of Murder on them though, and think that this unit might become a stable of almost all my Dark Elf armies. I really did miss the Bolt Throwers, but I that being said I am still unsure if they will be worth their points – again, time will tell. I am really happy with the result of the battle, and I am looking forward to more of this 8th edition shenanigans. It certainly is a new learning curve, and one which I think we will all have to adjust to. We have locally dubbed it ‘Beer and Pretzel Hammer’ – bring it on, I say!
Some things should be altered though – the Captain and the Warrior Priest will switch ‘magic armour’ so the lone Captain gets the Dragonhelm, thereby giving him the 2+ ward save vs. flaming (including Metal spells, his bane). It was Asger’s suggestion and I agree it’s a definite improvement. Other than that I really liked his setup, complete with the Potion of Foolhardiness and a 1+ armour save in total. It seems to me that some items, like the Dragonhelm, Luckstone and Charmed Shield are so good for their points that they will be included in almost all armies. In general, I think that the Empire has access to many good army list entries, so when making a list I have to make some hard choices. The war machines are great, for example, and a second Mortar would be neat. However, the amount of shooting needs to be balanced with some combat troops. These need to be there to defend, and mop up whichever heretics are encroaching on the Empire’s lines (after they’ve been softened up by a bit of shooting, of course). This was what the Knights were there for, and I think they performed perfectly. Their long charge range made it easier to hold the enemy at bay (especially with the Steel Standard on my left flank). The Swordsmen well too, but I still don’t like how random their ‘enemy kills’ to ‘own casualties’ ratio is, especially when compared to, say, Knights. I think they will have to go for now, but they might be reconsidered when 8th settles down a bit and must-haves become more apparent. I was quite content with my magic – the Lores of Light and Metal supplement each other well, I think, with their focus on augments and damage, respectively. I think that the approach of throwing as many dice as possible (up to six) after one important spell is good, especially from the War Altar since it can Irresistible Force, but not Miscast. If I get more than 6 power dice I will start with one or two smaller spells that my opponent will probably have to let go, or he will be at the mercy of the last spell. All in all, I’m really enjoying the new aspects of the game and new approach to army building, even though some things seem more random at this point.
THE TEST DUMMIES Mystery Express
Producer: Days of Wonder No. of players: 3-5 Type of game: board game “Mystery Express is a new deduction game set aboard the Orient Express. The murder incorporates 5 different elements - Motive, Location, Time, Modus Operandi, and Suspects - each of which is represented by a set of Crime cards. The players take on the role of one of 5 traveling characters, each who has their own special powers of deduction. The player who figures out the who, what, where, when and why of the murder before the train reaches Istanbul will win.”
OG Games, official sponsor of the Test Dummies
Dummy #1: Greg Dann Greg: Do you remember Cluedo? Do you remember sitting around with your family until long into the night, trying to figure out whodunit? Barrels of fun and good memories, yes? Well, I can certainly say that was never my experience – the anticipation was always the best part, but once we had been playing for a while and everyone got frustrated that we couldn’t roll the number required to get into the room it always degenerated into cheating! Mystery Express has taken the principle behind Cluedo but modernised it: you have to figure out the Motive, Modus Operandi, Location, Suspect and Time of the murder and have a strict amount of time in which to do so – thankfully the killer doesn’t want to leave the train at any of the stops before journey’s end! The board has two main sections: the train route, which is used as a turn counter whilst also showing the ‘hours’ between stations, and the train itself, which is separated into the separate cars. Each car has an action attributed to it; these actions take between one and three ‘game hours’ to complete thus requiring you to manage your turn to try and achieve as much as possible with the amount of ‘hours’ at your disposal. One of each card type is placed below the board with each player then receiving a hand of cards, these are drawn at random from the Motive, Modus Operandi, Location and Suspect pile. The remainder are then placed into positions on the board and come into play during the game. In your turn you place your figure in the respective train car and follow the action: this can be to have two players pass you their cards before you give them
a card in return or to have a player show everyone a card from a specific type. As you see cards you can tick them off on your ‘train ticket’ which you will need to do as there are two of each card, so you are trying to find both cards to confirm it isn’t who or what you are looking for. After showing or swapping, these cards are then placed face down so if you see another then you know for certain that it isn’t the card (or droid!) you are looking for. Essentially that is the game, you have to try and manage your hand while forcing people to reveal what you want them to, which results in the game being very different depending on who is playing it with you. We had a game where one of the players had lost track of what was going on, this lead to him trying very unusual tactics which can completely throw the logic you are trying to apply. In fairness I really didn’t expect too much from Mystery Express but went in with an open mind and you know what, I was keen to play another game soon afterwards, don’t let the Cluedo comparison blur your thinking, this is a much better game. The strict turn limit means that the game isn’t going to go all night, there is no option for a stupid guess at the answer and you are always doing something, even while the other players are having their go. This is a game that provides a good tactical challenge but is wrapped up in a very accessible theme and as such will avoid the ‘geek’ labelling that can be attached to many games. So as a single gamer who plays most of his games at a club or with that group of friends would I buy this game? No is the simple answer, however if we change that question to something more along the lines of – with a family that contains a couple of kids in their pre-teens would I buy this game? Then I would certainly consider it.
Thanks to OG Games and the Test Dummies we will be giving away a full set of the Mystery Express board game – to one lucky subscriber! The winner will be announced in the next issue of Unseen Lerker, so subscribe today for your chance to win!
Dummy #2: Dan Comeau Dan: When I was first told of the next game we would be reviewing, I have to admit to having some reservations. I had heard of Mystery Express before and felt this would really not be a game that would pique my interest, but I’m always up for trying anything new and therefore went ahead with an open mind. Opening the box, I was very impressed with the quality of most of the components. The rulebook was short and concise, easy to understand. The board was nice thick card stock, and the artwork was very good. A nice touch was the use of bohemian style artwork, popular on posters and artwork of the Victorian era: this really helped set the mood and atmosphere of the game, carried across onto the various cards used in the game. The playing pieces were nice sculpts, but we disappointed to discover the piece representing the train was missing. Fortunately like most game producers Days of Wonder are happy to replace missing pieces if you just phone them. The premise of the game is very similar to Cluedo, with the game revolving around discovering several aspects of a murder that has taken place on the train: namely the Motive, the Modus Operandi (weapon), the Suspect, the Location, and the Time. Like Cluedo, you have to discover which card for each aspect is missing. The players take it in turns to visit different cars in the train and then perform various actions depending on with car they are in. For example, if a player visits the dining car, they can then ask a number of players to join them for dinner who then have to show the player a card from their hand. Each turn is allocated a certain amount of time depending how long it takes for the train to
arrive at the next station, so each player needs to think carefully about which car they wish to visit within the limited amount of time. In between turns, various special actions take place, such as NPC (non-player character) passengers getting on board, and it is at these stages that the Time cards come in to play. Rather than the Time cards being included within the rest of the cards, these are briefly shown to the players in a variety of ways, mainly dealing them face down in front of everyone, so you need to keep a sharp memory to find that missing card! After five turns the players then reveal their suspicions and the winner is the one who has correctly surmised the most categories in the murder. It takes a few turns to establish how the actions work to your advantage, but after a while we started to understand the mechanics of this and the banter between players made it even more fun. I even took the game home to my girlfriend and she enjoyed it a lot, which goes to show that this is a great game to play with “non-gamer” friends and family – my girlfriend is most definitely not a gamer! This made the game a lot more appealing as I was able to take my interest home and not have someone rolling their eyes at me because I have an urge to roll some dice. My main concern with the game is the lack of potential replay value. Due to the strict linear structure of the game after three or four games the variety runs dry, but then this should be considered one of those games that is stored on the shelf and brought out as a party game to be played with friends and family after the Queen’s Speech. I first thought Mystery Express was not going to be to my liking, but it ended up being a surprisingly fun little game and a one that can be enjoyed with some beer (and indeed some pretzels).
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Coming SooN Don’t forget to check out Unseen Lerker Issue 6, which will contain…
Mantic’s Kings of War
ISSUE 06 OCT – NOV 2010
Kemp’s Kool Konversions Dissecting 8th edition Plus:
BIG prize give-aways…
Colonel Mustard’s weapon of choice
and all the usual bits designed to tickle your special place
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