Thursday, 7 October 2010

Old Glory and my hatestorm ...

I went to the Derby 'Old Glory' wargames show with the shop this weekend (working on my fucking birthday, no less). I thought I'd share a couple of thoughts with the hoi polloi (you) to get a proper update on my blog. And as I'm rusty and out of practice I'm switching targets from Mantic back to Games Workshop. I need an easy target to get back into the swing of things. I have a lot of bile to get rid of, but recent events in my real life have messed with my head (the world is topsy-turvy, I tell you). So, like a rabid stoat in a maternity ward it's easy meat for now.

Old Glory is an independent wargames show in Derby. It is sponsored by the Old Glory miniature company, and is a largely historical show. However, Hasslefree and Heresy were there so it was all right. As it was my birthday weekend I did get away with goofing off, so I spent a bit (a lot) of time smoking and going to the aforementioned stands.

Now, everyone should know I love both companies. They are true exemplars of the indie miniatures scene. Kev and Andy are wonderful to talk to, both very witty and quite free with their time, so you can talk to them at length and they are both really good at masking their irritation and boredom. And Andy is making what ranks as the best dragon miniature (and I use that term ironically, it's fucking huge and will beat up your Forge World dragon and steal it's dinner money). So go ahead and wibble on about stuff that makes no sense, pop a chubby over the Heresy dragon, they love it. I spent my birthday money (working on my fucking birthday, no less) and scored some awesome booty.

From Heresy I got 2 of the Hurn Headtaker limited edition miniatures. Based upon the predator, it's fucking amazing. Like all Heresy models it's really well cast. You get options for wrist blades, spears and hands as well as the obligatory over-the-shoulder plasma cannon. With less than 50 of the limited run left, I'd really recommend picking one up. Value-wise, at £8 it's easily the equal in raw material of the £12 Logan Grimnar Space Wolf from GW, and unarguably cooler. More about GW later.

I also picked up a fantastic bargain from Heresy too. The uber-cool trenchcoat warrior gang Andy did was available in a big ass blister for £37.50. With ten models in the pack it works out to a saving of about £4. That's not much, I hear you cry like the unbelievable tossers you are. Fuck you, I reply. It has a fat guy with a Stinger missile launcher, a nutcase in a leather dress with a flame thrower and a hard nut with a minigun. One of them is cartwheeling with a shotgun. That is all. You go buy them now, I'll carry on when you get back. Really, I'll still be here.

Back? Already?

You better have fucking bought them.

I'm going to carry on with the literary gem that is this blog now.

All are exceptionally well cast and wonderfully characterful, really good for use as Delaques in Necromunda (aside from the fact all the GW gangs look puny and insipid next to them) but more on GW later.

Switching over to Hasslefree, I finally got my limited edition resin Axenarf. This model (inspired by the GW original Skrag the Slaughterer, not the wanky one with a cauldron tied to it used nowadays, but more on GW later) is a multi-part armoured Ogre with optional heads and a big certificate of awesomeness (I got number 66) made to celebrate Hasslefree's 6th birthday (I had to work my birthday over the weekend, did I tell you?). I also got a pre-release Goatboy master as a birthday present, and bought what is probably the best example of the female form committed to an artistic medium since Rodin's Danaid, Artemis.

This model is naked (the only other female model I have owned with even a hint of boob was Werner Klocke's Chaos Sorceress) but not in a titillating way. It echoes the statuary of ancient times, and all she is wearing is a helm (looks Spartan to me, Hoplite at a pinch) and sandals. She is holding a shield with a big blank space for freehand as shown in Ali McVey's version and what looks to be a gladius (maybe a Gladius Hispaniensis, but I'm no expert) and is in the 40mm scale.

These miniatures can only be made on the indie circuit where creativity has free reign. The very idea of pitching either Artemis or Hurn to a committee at GW is ludicrous. Now, don't get me wrong, GW do produce some great minis. Aside from the sheer ludicrousness of the High Elf helmet there are some wonderful models in that range.

The new Dark Eldar models are also nice, if looking a little fantasy chaos warrior-ish. With the demand for movement in models there are some bizarre running poses and the skiffs look more and more like Jabba's sail barge in miniature (Sarlacc pit anyone) but it is still strictly within the canon as defined by GW's financial masters. And, I suppose, the design studio.

But therein lies the problem. With no room for innovation outside of Forge World (and most of their stuff is derivative and uninspired) I have been drawn to the following conclusion:

Games Workshop is the death of creativity.

Like some fat, malicious, syphillitic, geriatric sadist teabagging the miniatures industry with it's rotting scrotum whilst simultaneously defecating shit, tumours and rotting Space Marines onto it's forehead, all the time wishing it was Simon Cowell, hence able to force greater consumption of it's product by the bovine, cud-chewing masses (you) and completely dictate the zeitgeist of the tabletop industry.

It already dictates the structure of the average gaming company simply due to the number of disillusioned, fucked-over ex employees who, like the psychologically scarred survivor of a torture porn film just end up repeating the cycle again.

In this way GW has tendrils throughout the industry. Retail employees used to have the 'ten commandments' - common sense guidelines like bathe frequently and don't wank on the shop floor during opening hours (where else did you think they got such shitty superglue from?). You know, the kind of thing people can work out for themselves by being able to act in a social situation. Now there are the doctrines (and you thought my Space Marine metaphors were tortured) which govern how a store will look (taking a leaf out of McDonalds food, the same as all other stores), how to make scenery (only out of GW product unless you work at Warhammer World) and how many Baneblade tanks to sell to the guy who has a High Elf army.

Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? Who do you fucking think you are? Even painting methodology is dictated, with the emphasis on the flat coat/wash/drybrush/done method. Hello Golden Daemon. No really. With one competitor being told he painted in too French a style to make it through the first cut and another being told by an 'Eavy Metal member he should have entered the competition with a miniature that failed to make first cut one has to wonder what the bean counters are doing trying to gouge a bigger profit from a consumer base renowned for smashing their toys when they fail to validate their reason for being by losing a game and alternating between a cataleptic sate when confronted with a real woman and masturbating furiously to porn/bragging about the sexual gymnastics they would perform with that girl over there and entering a cataleptic state when that girl over there walks near them. Possibly yelping in terror if any female anatomy brushes them then fainting.

I am honestly surprised there hasn't been an incident in the store where one of these social underclass (you) cuts up rough after smearing himself in excrement, or possibly Scorched Brown paint and maybe drybrushes a random staff member with his penis.

And those poor bastards in retail. Conditioned to eat at the trough of blandness through spiritual abuse so they are Pavlovian in their responses. Horrendous sales targets (GW Christmas special training: 'If you really loved your son you'd spend more than the £150 you already have' - I shit you not), bizarre orders, demand for new starters with deep pockets and bitchy corporate culture it's no wonder they try to sell you shit you don't want or need.

In a hobby that thrives on individuality GW (and Mantic) have proven that it's natural state is really a Mediocrity, echoing popular culture.

We're all to blame, but you can make a difference. Spend the money that would have gone on a Baneblade on Heresy or Hasslefree. If you need to spend your cash on a range that supports a game, go to Wargames Inc and buy or order some Flames of War or WarmaHordes. Support the indies, or all you will be left with is GW and some expensive models on Ebay you'll wish you had bought earlier.

Angry at weird life turns ...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Another escape ...

A mate of mine, Matt (the illustrated postman) has started a blog detailing his forays into the world of historical wargaming. You can have a read here, and the link is also in the running away section. You know you want to visit ...

Monday, 9 August 2010

Apoplexy and the gag reflex ...

I'm long overdue an update, it seems. The hard thing about all this blog malarkey is to remain motivated and regular through the mindless wankery of retail and dickhead customers that fill my day to day hours like some kind of continuous discharge of diarrhea spewing from an invisible arsehole (akin to the Skorne Bloodworm model but less painful on the way out). I was originally going to use Aristotle's definition of hate to title this post as a nod to my old mucker Tim Matts, but he's too clever and handsome for his own good and the rest of you can fuck off.

I find myself bewildered by the heapings of praise and love some miniature ranges get. Most of my bewilderment is, admittedly, levelled at that bastion of pedestrianism Mantic Games. It appears that you really can gild a turd in some people's eyes. Now, I do know that some models are suffering from a case of that hoary old Cyberpunk maxim 'style over substance' and functionality of design is the new battle cry from everywhere on the Internet (until a model with huge tits comes out, that is) however, there is no escaping that the Mantic range is, by and large, shit.

I should also warn you that this review may not have the same amount of venom in it as the GW Minotaur post. This is because I have pissed and whined about this range already to the high heavens for quite some time. Just dial up the bile factor by about 23 and you'll be about there. I guess ennui sets in more quickly the older you are.

The spindly proportions of their first race (that guaranteed seller, High Elves) instantly put me in mind of that one kid in your school class that you just know will turn into a serial killer. One of the self-loathing, closet-homosexual cannibal variety, like a knock-off Jeffery Dahmer. Well, originality is dead nowadays. I suppose I should put a crass joke about necrophilia, dietary choice and a flask of hot water here somewhere but I can't be arsed.

Add to that the amazingly slanted eyes (like a 70's racist caricature of an oriental person of the far east persuasion) and a cranial shape that could have taught the ancient Incas a thing or two about head-binding and you have a model that should have +1 to it's armour save due to epicanthic folds alone.

Utter fucking wank so far, but don't take my word for it. Have a look for yourself:

See? As an amusing aside, a customer who actually likes this crap came in (I know, I wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't happened to me, much like alien abduction and the subsequent anal probing) and actually said 'I'm not too keen on the elves (no fucking surprise there) because they are too much like the old Rackham metal elves'. That's right, he thought they were too much like the Cynwall from Rackham. I can see that they are both miniatures, but that is all. I think there may have been an element of day release or bizarre wit involved, but as I'm on a bit of a roll, here is a Cynwall elf commander for you to compare yourselves:

So, two leaders and a massive difference in quality. Unfair? Well, the Rackham model is probably about 5 years older and French. Style over substance? No, because the Rackham model is metal, ergo it has Just as much substance as the other one. The difference in scale on the photos is because the Mantic stuff is photographed much smaller than the rest, probably to hide the massive inferiority of product.

There is a cavalry unit too. Special, angry, joy-time derision goes to whoever decided that a person that's about six stones wringing wet through can ignore the laws of physics when using a spear (not a lance, a weapon specifically designed to be used as a prodder from beast back) and can hold their weapon unbraced on the back of a charging horse and not do the whole comedy pole-vault thing when they inevitably miss the target. Ahh, the agonised screams of scrawny high elves with broken shoulderblades flying through the air. Enough to warm even the most jaded cockles of one's heart.

The argument used to defend the Mantic range is that the ghoul models are better than GW's. This is true. It's also not such an amazing statement for marketing to try and sell a range. Another flea-ridden pigeon feather in Mantic's hobo hat is the way they offer better deals online direct from themselves than most retailers can match. Add to this a presence at all the shows and the little customers there are for this tosh (about 3 per million, or 180-ish in the UK) will buy directly from the manufacturer.

Aha, but what about the rules they are bringing out? Surely you aren't about to badmouth Alessio Cavatore? No, but knowing Alessio as I do (quite vaguely) I realise one thing about him: he sees the models as something different to me. He sees them as playing pieces and nothing more, like the GW models he played with. Perhaps that's the reason. I see them in the context of all the other awesome models and I should be seeing them as pawns, rooks and knights.

No, fuck that. It's a shit range that will only get more and more mediocre as time goes on. Alessio's first rules release since he left GW is saddled with utter dogshit. I feel very sorry for him, being overshadowed by such a mountain of crusty wank tissues.

I know this review hasn't been as agressive as usual, but I honestly can't work up the bile with this range. It's that bland, and my leg hurts.

Angry with his bum knee ...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Save vs. Choresome ...

There will be a new post over the weekend, however Mark from THACO (and Fell Calls) has a blog that is really well written and worth a read. An excellent link to retreat to, however if you're too lazy to skootch your pointing device over, click here and go.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Schilling for friends ...

So, here's another plug for someone else. My number one industry connection, Alessio Cavatore is selling his world renowned Bretonnian army. Painted by sundry members of the 'Eavy Metal team and artists like Wayne England (best known for his wonderful icons in the mid 90's), it's a regular slice of wargaming history.

You can see the listing on Ebay here, it's a beautiful deal. 3,000 points of French aggression masterfully wielded by an Italian. It would have been more apt if Alessio was Corsican so I could do the whole Napoleon thing. If you want to see the whole list with no obligation you can visit the GW website here (if it works).

It's a one-off opportunity and a great buy in time for Warhammer 8th edition.

Can I have my cake now, Alessio?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Things I like ...

One more link added to the 'What the fuck? I was expecting pictures of dog's rectums' section for those of you who have arrived here due to a dodgy search engine. The THACO podcast is what happens when the Podthralls burn out and choose to do a multi-format show (ie pen and paper rpgs and the like) with different people.

Well worth the listen, and the Fell Calls gang reunite for a look at Hordes MkII as well. Very witty, and a great source of ideas.

Angry with insomnia yet again ...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Games Expo and other things ...

So I'm back from Games Expo and with Wargames Inc nearly in working order, no less. Rather than working with the shop, I got to volunteer with Privateer Press for the weekend. Being a pressganger, I get points for it (nothing in life is truly free after all) to spend on goodies. It was this sweet deal that led to me being the only person there with a Cryx faction book.

The show itself was great. I got to catch up with some friends who had entered the tourney but, more importantly, I got to catch up with Vishal from over at Café Turbo and get some tips on my choice of Khador force. I felt very dirty afterwards. He's a bad, bad man. I also got to cover the first day of the tournament as a rules lawyer. Aside from the inactivity the best thing about that day was seeing my old mate and Everblight terror Danny Suthalong lose his first game. I enjoyed it so much I just had to shake the winner's hand. In front of Danny. But fuck him, eh?

I had to cover Vish for his half hour break so I got to go to the demo area (really my favourite part of volunteering) and managed to drag Vish out for a cigarette break (and tactical advice) and then made an expanded sale to one of the Guts'n'Gears podcast. Then back to the tourney. Some lovely armies, some great players but on the whole a bit boring. Like watching an interesting game of chess or snooker. It's vaguely fascinating but it's still chess or snooker.

In case you're wondering, I got to stay in the demo area on Sunday (I think Mike had really had enough of my whining about not earning my points on Saturday). Highlights include a really overenthusiastic demo game that led to a lot of sales and hanging with Lee, Steve, Chris and Stuart. I suppose I should really apologise to Stuart. He was the only guy who knew what was going on with the cool new demo game, so even though he was pretty drained I got him to run the game again. and again. And I got to get a disillusioned Retribution player to buy two Hordes battleboxes. But fuck him, eh?

So, a great weekend. Soured only by people's continuing lack of understanding with regards to aesthetics and basic taste. It seems that in order to garner rabid appreciation of your product all you have to do is add spikey bits, circa GW's late eighties/eary nineties approach to Chaos armies. The latest model to appropriate this design ethic is Privateer Press' War Hog. Now, I'm a fan of huge animals ripping things to pieces. I yearn for an army of attack maquaques riding silverback gorillas so much I'm sculpting one myself. The idea of sentient pig men à la Tolkien's Orcs maiming random Warcasters tickles me. One of my favourite low budget horror films is the Australian flick Razorback. What I'm not too keen on is the approach of adding random bits to a solid concept. The minions Rorsch and Brine were cool. Putting a giant, bipedal pig in a plastic bag with Warjack bits and a load of glue, shaking it about and then tipping it out to see what has happened is not cool. Never. Not even if Mike McVey did it. But that seems to be what PP have done with this excrescence:

Now I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, a bio-mechanical warbeast has been on the cards for a while, and if a 13 year old kid showed you this as a conversion then fine. But as a final model? One that will cost over £20? The head is good. It's more realistic than Brine, though it does seem a touch too big. It's when all the other things are added together, the miniature's weaknesses far outweigh it's one 'strength'. What has depressed me is the endless praise this model has received. It's a crappy pastiche of scrapyard and sub-Hirst wankery but you tossers are eating it up. It makes Dominar Rasheth (or Pearl from Blade, in my prior post) look like a work of inspirational genius akin to Da Vinci's bronze horse. What do you mean you've never heard of it? I despair. I really, really do. But fuck me, eh?

Back to the world of models. As I previously mentioned, I really like the Farrow. Brutal pig-men who are imitative of the cultures around them yet with some really great shamanic traditions. You can do some really horrible things with them. The initial models are great, the new Farrow Warlock is wonderful but the core beast is shit.

For those of you who don't think so, I'd like to pitch you an idea for an addition to your Warmahordes: the Farrow Seductress. Mat, Rat, Str, Spd 6, Def 16 and Arm 12, 5 wounds. Her special action is to bring out those geeky, confusing feelings of sexual lust you have for anthropomorphic animal women to such an extent you suffocate from your dried in, unwashed wank sweat. You can see the concept here. But fuck her, eh? Yeah, you sure as shit want to.

New Hordes models continue to be a mixed bag. I can put up with the Razor Worm despite it looking like a half-finished poo dangling from an invisible bumhole (it's true, turn it upside down and see if I'm lying), I can put up with that bloated fat fuck now I have discovered that the Agonizers underneath it freak a mate of mine out so long as I don't have to have it, but denying me an entire faction?

That's just not on. It reeks of pandering to the lowest common denominator (ie you) and excluding people of taste (ie me and a couple of other people). So, an army for the masses, just not for me. But fuck you, eh?

Angry with anonymity ...