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Warhammer Tomb Kings Army Book review

Entombed beneath the sands, awaiting resurrection as the sun-bronzed warrior kings they were promised to be and subsequently resurfacing as withered, undead abominations has left the Tomb Kings vengeful and jealous of all living beings. Driven by vengeance & the unending need to conquer new territory, they along with legions of their loyal former troops and towering enchanted constructs have one goal……to defeat all who stand in their way!

Personally, this was of huge importance to me. Having been, without doubt, my most eagerly awaited wargames release of perhaps the last decade! Since GW first mooted the concept of an undead army based upon Ancient Egypt it has had me gripped.

First Impressions

The new Tomb Kings army book is 96 pages of fantastic imagery that continues the new hardback format. The entire publication is presented in glorious full colour, although, in keeping with the new format, it has a much darker feel. As one has come to expect from GW the book is replete with many beautiful, new works of art. All of the information is presented in an updated and easily understandable way.

On Closer Inspection

What was really important to me was what changes the near nine-year-wait for a second book would bring? Again, a book review coming on the basis of not having ‘field tested’ the army under 8th edition rules, one could not hope to unlock all of the subtle nuances that will no doubt arise given the sands of time (pun intended!). I could not help but feel that this time they had got it right.

As with any change of army book, there are winners & losers, ups & downs or comings and goings.

Biggest Positive Changes:

Too many to mention!

The addition of the much-needed Necro/War sphinx (reviewed separately) adds the, now mandatory, ‘Big Guy’. This direction was almost inevitable to keep the army ‘in pace’ with all the rest, while the iconic sphinx made the choice almost obvious.

But the addition of the Necropolis Knights/Sepulchral Stalkers, the as yet unseen Heirotitan (wave 2 anyone?), and the Ushabti with strength 6 bows were all a little less obvious (but all very welcome indeed!) as was the ability of the Tomb Prince/King to bestow his WS on all in his unit. Reduction in points for the basic skeletons was a must along with the introduction of Arkhan and the Necrotect character.

Bringing the previously unique magic phase into line with 8th Ed rules was a move, which to my mind, was both inevitable and necessary. Removing the ‘stumbling around’ created by the lack of knowledge on the part of any opponent (or, indeed, the player himself) of a magic system which was anathema to the newer, faster rules was a sure sign that this was an army to be taken much more seriously this time around.

Biggest Negative Changes:

The removal of the ‘uniqueness’ of the Tomb Kings magic is a two-edged sword.

I could whine about my favourite models (the Ushabti) taking a hit from strength 6 changing to 4 and the lack of reinstatement of any Mummies being a chance left wanting.

However, these issues are all cosmetic. Otherwise, everything is much better.

On the Tabletop

A somewhat unknown quantity due to the timing of this review, however, I sincerely believe the Tomb Kings time is at hand and many seasoned players will underestimate them at their peril! My initial gut feeling, is that this new army book will put the Tomb Kings much higher up in the rankings. Definite tourney winners in the near future me thinks!

Rating

The production values, quality, appearance etc. are all unequalled in the hobby. An essential purchase for any serious Warhammer Fantasy Battle player. 8/10.

Robin Cruddace, step on up! A surefire hit certainly not a hint of disappointment, at least, not on my part. as a time-served apprentice in the Khemrian way! What has been so long in the making has been worth the wait.

Having been of the opinion that the Tomb Kings concept was brilliant in 2002, the preceding army book had a feel of having been ‘rushed out’. This book by comparison shows much greater consideration and understanding for the subject matter. 8/10.

Still, that’s an average of 8/10 overall & my Mummy gives a big, bandaged thumbs up!

8-10

 

*Accurate as of 28th April 2011.

BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set review

BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box SetBattleTech is an epic, ongoing fictional science-fiction universe supporting a game that simulates combat in the 31st century.

The lords of the battlefields of the 31st Century are 30 foot tall humanoid combat vehicles known as BattleMechs.

The Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set contains everything you need to start playing Battletech.

Included in the box is:

  • 24 unpainted, ready-to-play plastic BattleMech minis
  • 2 unpainted, premium-quality plastic BattleMech minis
  • One 12-page full-color quick-start rulebook will have players into the action in minutes
  • 36-page book of pre-generated BattleMech Record Sheets
  • One 80-page full-colour rulebook
  • Inner Sphere at a Glance, a 56-page full-colour book of universe background and BattleMech technical data
  • One 16-page full-color Painting and Tactics Guide
  • Two heavy-duty cards of compiled tables
  • Two 18″ x 24″ game-board quality maps

Before we get stuck in to the review, something about my relationship with BattleTech. I’m a bit of a lapsed BattleTech fan, I used to play a lot of BattleTech but haven’t had a game in nearly 20 years. Why is this relevant? Well, I’m hoping that this boxed set will be a trip down memory lane for me, and that it will be a great way to start playing again, if it fails in either of these I will be hugely disappointed and the score at the end will reflect this. Anyway enough navel gazing on with the review…

On opening the 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set, I am pleasantly surprised by the shear amount of stuff that it contains, included is a selection of rulebooks and source books, record sheets (just waiting to be photocopied), 26 miniatures,2 quality card hex maps and a couple of dice.

Books from the BattleTech Introductory Box Set
Books from the BattleTech Introductory Box Set

After a read of the various books I have to say that I’m impressed. The quick-start rules genuinely will get players up and gaming in less than an hour and for new players I would recommend a game or two using these rules before tackling the rules within the introductory rulebook.

For those that don’t know BattleTech: The full introductory rules are moderately complex, BattleTech being a more complex game than say Warhammer 40,000. Although it’s just a matter of personal taste, I have always liked the way that units in BattleTech sustain damaged in quite a granular fashion, ‘Mechs can sustain damage to a range of systems, actuators, engines, gyros etc. Even when simply moving and shooting care needs to be taken not to generate too much heat, heat can lead to movement and combat penalties, damage to your ‘Mech or can even lead to the pilot losing conciousness. As a result of this complexity you tend to play with far fewer miniatures than many miniatures games. This isn’t a review of the rules however so back the box contents…

The introductory rules almost exclusively cover ‘Mechs, this isn’t too much of an issue as this is typically where people would want to start anyway and this is an introductory boxed set after all, rules for other vehicles/troops can be found in the full rulebook BattleTech Total Warfare. All in all the rules are well explained in the Introductory rule book with good use of examples making the more complex game mechanics easy to grasp.

Of the other books included, the most significant is “The Inner-Sphere at a Glance”, which provides quite an in depth introduction to the history and politics of the BattleTech universe, it certainly contains enough source material for players to decide which House (or other power) they would like to play and hence how they might like to paint your miniatures, see Camo Specs for more inspiration.

BattleTech Miniatures
BattleTech Premium & Standard Miniatures

Talking of miniatures… there are 26 ‘Mech miniatures in the box, 24 of which are of average board game quality, i.e. they fall well short of what many wargamers might expect. I admit to being disappointed. That said with a little cleaning up, filling and a tiny bit of re-sculpting of detail that has failed to mould perfectly these miniatures can be brought up to a standard that most gamers would be satisfied with… that is until they stand the remaining two miniatures next to them… The two premium miniatures are in a completely different league, being crisp hard plastic models, you can see the difference in this photo, click for a bigger pic.

I feel that I would have preferred to have fewer higher quality miniatures. Maybe 12 of the premium quality ‘Mechs instead of 24 poor quality miniatures that  really don’t inspire me to invest a lot of time painting them.

Finally, the 2  maps supplied are  of good size and quality.

Conclusion

BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set represents great value for money and is a great introduction or re-introduction to BattleTech.

The box set is jam-packed with stuff, including a well written introductory rule book, a detailed introduction to the background of the BattleTech universe and 2 high quality hex maps for you to play out your ‘Mech battles.

The only disappointment comes from the quality of the majority of the miniatures that come in the Introductory Box Set, personally I would have  preferred to have seen less miniatures if it meant they could have all been of the same quality of the two ‘premium’ Clan ‘Mechs included in the box.

Overall score: 8/10

 

You can pick up the BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set at Mythreal for only £33.99*: BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set

*Accurate as of 11th April 2011

(Review courtesy of our sister site Mythreal)

Warhammer 40,000: Codex Grey Knights review

The famous psychologist, Kurt Lewin, once said: “if you want to truly understand something, try to change it”.  Something true for the process of writing codices: if you want to write a good codex you need to understand what you’re writing about, and if you’re going to make changes, you really have to understand what is being changed.  The Daemonhunter codex has indeed changed, it doesn’t get much bigger than a name change.  And so now we’re talking about Codex: Grey Knights, but what else has changed ?

Knight Shift

The section on the geography of Titan is not particularly well written and its inclusion seems all the more pointless for that.  In the Dark Eldar codex you got a real sense of Dark Eldar and how they have an almost symbiotic relationship with their environment; in this book it has all the atmosphere of a surveyors report.  The background also labours the point of how the Grey Knights ruthlessly kill or mind-wipe other Imperial agents, to the point where it seems that they usually end up killing more of their own side than the enemy – a very repetitive part of a section that is shorter than normal and bereft of ideas.  The only two-page story the author manges to put together comes to the inevitably brazen, GW-sales pitch conclusion, where the shiny new item saves the day.

Of course, with the change in name the focus of the material was always going to be different.  But in a book where the Inquisition should still be an important factor there was a severe lack of information on this important part of the Imperial machine, mere sentences in comparison to the GK material.  If the Daemonhunters codex talked too much about the Inquisition, to the detriment to the Grey Knights, then this book has gone too far the other way to the point where it seems the Inquisition parts were included merely to stop this being just another Marine Codex.

This is also reflected in the rules.  Whilst the three main Ordo’s of the Inquisition are represented with rules, they seem to be included as an afterthought.  There are not many options for how you can kit out your Inquisitors, immediately invalidating a large number of conversions around the world.  Added to that is the fact that this elite arm of the Imperium have worse statistics than a Commissar Lord and you begin to think that maybe the author didn’t understand what he was changing.

This feeling is only enhanced by the fact that the elite of the elite now have the statistics of a normal marine, are no longer fearless (perhaps not the worse change though) and have lost their shrouding ability.  Instead you have a number of different Nemesis Force Weapons that give different bonuses to the wielder (to Strength, Initiative, Saving Throw etc).  With an anything goes, mix-and-match attitude to how your squads have access to these weapons there will be more than the normal amount of beginners confusion as players try out and settle on their builds of choice.

As is increasingly the case with new Codices and Army Books, most of the time seems to have been spent on writing up the rules for the Special Characters.  Mordrack’s teleportation and other benefits stand out for the little extra he costs above a standard Grand Master, and of course those who want to field an old-school, non-GK, Daemonhunters army have no choice but to take Coteaz in order to access henchmen as a Troops choice; this could and should have been a purchasable upgrade for any Inquisition HQ, to give the players some say in what they they are ultimately investing a lot of time and money into.

Shades of Grey

This extra attention given to the special characters is annoying because it only highlights the lack of detail and precision given to other units in the codex. Surely the Imperium-wide vehicle types (Rhino, Land Raider etc) should have been able to take GK-specific weapons such as Heavy Incinerators or twin-linked Psycannons ? The much-discussed Nemesis Dreadknight though does seem to be a good addition, bringing a rare (or even unique ?) monstrous creature to the ranks of the Emperor’s servants.

As with the Vanilla Space Marines Codex, why are there only two Troops choices ?  I can understand why GW would want to limit you to play a Grey Knights only army in Codex GK, but if that isn’t viable due to a lack of options then why remove the Stormtroopers as a Troops choice at all ?  Another Force Organisation Chart travesty is the small number of Fast Attack choices compared to the Elite section.  Of the two choices we have the Stormraven Gunship, which looks like it will be rolled out to all the other Space Marine chapters in the future, and the Interceptor Squad, which rules-wise gives something different and unique, but uses the same basic plastic kit as three other units in the army, not lending itself to much visual variation on the field.

Maybe that’s why the pictures that accompany the codex are not as inspiring as in other releases.  The focus on GK means that you are looking at variations of the one type of paint job, and the large group shots just feel overcrowded, with too many models in shot and too many buildings in the background giving an overall impression of muddy-greyness.

Grey Matters

The author of this book has done the equivalent of tending to a bonsai tree with a chainsaw, leaving not much more than a stump for the the reader to play with.  The number of entries available for selection may have increased, but it feels like the amount of choice has decreased, making this a mostly poor read from start to finish.  Hopefully they will not play in as tiresomely repetitive way as the book has been written, and hopefully your local games scene will not see a repetition in builds that a book like this can often lead to.

As you have probably guessed, this release has really disappointed me.  The golden rule is if you have to change something, make sure that change is for the better.  Heraclitus once said that “nothing endures but change”, but lets just hope that we don’t have to endure these changes for as long as between the last edition and this one.  And if (god forbid) the same author is given the same job again, lets hope his understanding has improved over the intervening years.

Changers in the Knight: 4/10

Warhammer 40,000: Grey Knight Terminators review

Grey Knight Terminators (GKT’s) are a mainstay of Grey Knights forces, they’re able to teleport straight into the thick of the action, or fire their heavy weapons whilst relentlessly moving forwards from their own lines. Whilst other Space Marine chapters may have a few score suits in total, the Grey Knights pretty much have a suit for every battle-brother, a privilege granted to them due to the dire threats they must face on a daily basis. This review concerns itself with the new plastic GKT kit released by Games Workshop, which allows you to build up to five Terminators or Paladins, including a Justicar or Apothecary.

Old versus New

One of the main benefits when an old army is remade is that the models get redesigned and remade in plastic; certainly, the Dark Eldar release benefited hugely from a complete redesign. But when the Grey Knights were announced, with new plastic kits to replace the metal sculpts, there was a good amount of trepidation amongst players. Most people liked the old models, and didn’t want to see them become invalidated either due to a completely new design for the models, or due to scale creep (the tendency for new releases to gradually get taller than older models over a number of years).

Happily, in this case the old and the new sit together very well, the style has been retained and they are at the same scale. That doesn’t mean that the plastic miniatures are basically the metals done in plastic; there are a number of subtle differences between the models.

The plastics have a hood-type affair now, but hopefully this doesn’t mean that they’ve now taken to hanging out over the balcony at your local shopping centre. The detailing on the armour plates has also been updated: the writing is now more clearly defined and all the edges are much sharper. The sharpness extends to the all the components: the helmets, weapons, and bling have good definition too.

The Sprues

Grey Knight Terminators Sprue 1

 

Grey Knight Terminators Sprue 2

Grey Knight Terminators Sprue 3

Building Your Unit

Grey Knight Terminator
Grey Knight Terminator

The components are packed closely together on the sprues, and many of the parts are fragile, or fiddly, so unclipping the components is a fairly fraught process. This is another kit where the parts are attached on the parts where you want things presented at their cleanest and smoothest, and this does take a bit of work to clean up. The review kit had a number of mould lines in inconvenient locations – these weren’t the worst examples seen – but it was another thing that needed some attention before the building process could begin.

Grey Knight Terminator
Grey Knight Terminator Incinerator

It proved difficult to get a clean contact between the limbs and torso, real attention was needed to make sure that the parts were touching correctly and the parts needed to be held for longer than expected for a satisfactorily strong join to be established. I don’t usually bother with instructions, but with the number of options in the kit i thought I would have a look. Unfortunately, I think it left me more confused, as the explanations for building each type of miniature were a bit muddled. I think that having a basic diagram showing the core build of the marine, followed by sections showing the alternative builds would have worked better.

Pimp My Knight

Grey Knight Terminator Standard Bearer
Grey Knight Terminator Standard Bearer

These problems are all quite minor though, as for all these quibbles the kit is pretty great. It is possible to make a great range of poses for anything from attacking terminators to a more heroically posed model. There are lots of small extras that you can use to add extra details to your marines. Little really does mean little though, when using the model some forceps would have been useful, as well as a scalpel, someone to wipe my brow and perhaps a full medical team in attendance too. I exaggerate of course, but I was worried about losing some of these smaller parts. There are also multiples of most of the weapons – certainly your bitz box will be fuller when you’ve finished. The notable exception being that there is only one Daemonhammer supplied, so expect to see the business press listing its trade price next to Gold and Platinum.

Final Thoughts

This kit has been made to a high standard, covers most, if not quite all, of the options you could possibly need, and will provide you with lots of extras for conversions in any other projects you might have (a Nemesis Falchion has already been press-ganged into a becoming a powersword for an Imperial Guard officer). This really is the kit that patient ex-Daemonhunter players have been waiting for (and, dare I say it, deserved), and it scores:

Strangers in the knight: 8/10

8-10

Warhammer 40,000: Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight review

The Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight (which for my sanity’s sake I will refer to as the DK, just don’t start thinking I’m talking about a publisher) is probably the most talked about new thing in the Grey Knights release.  It’s something quite different from anything they’ve released before, perhaps being most similar to a Penitent Engine in looks or a Wraithlord in terms of game mechanics.  This review is going to focus solely on the model, the aesthetics and how it builds, rather than how it plays “in game”.

Like most of the recent kits from Games Workshop, the sprues are densely packed.  Perhaps they’re getting a bit too packed though, it seems to be getting increasingly difficult to cleanly clip components of the frames these days.  Mercifully, there are not too many mould lines to clean up, though a major gripe is how many of the attachment points to the frame are on the smooth flat armour surfaces, which need a lot more care and attention in order to get the smooth finish that a model like this requires.

GW have also started numbering the components on the sprues, to match with the illustrations on their instructions.  This is a good idea, but it’s an idea that has been poorly executed.  There seems to be no logic to this numbering.  If for instance components 5 and 6 are to be glued together you would suppose that they would be next, or at least close, to each other on the sprue.  In actual fact they were not even on the same sprue, part number 5 instead sitting happily amongst the 70’s and 90’s on another of the (in total) 3 sprues supplied.  A minor annoyance, but one that could have been easily avoided by using more intelligent numbering.

The Sprues

Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight Sprue 1

Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight Sprue 2

Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight Sprue 3
Grey Knight Nemesis

When looking at the preview pictures, the fairly static poses that the figures were given caught the eye; leaving me wondering whether this was intentionally done by the painter to show off the detail, or a limitation of the kit.  Well, on building the legs it became apparent that it was the latter.  Not only have the designers not given you an out of the box way to dynamically pose the legs, they have designed the model to actively make it difficult to achieve such a goal, because of the way the terminators pilots legs attach to the DK.  When the DK has legs that are so much longer than those of the dreadnought it really feels like an opportunity has been missed, especially when you think of the Sentinel kit and how the newer version came with improved knee joints for extra pose-ability.

The same is also true to a lesser extent with the upper torso, the pistons that control the movement of the upper arms effectively prohibit completely free movement of the limbs, and the arms are a bit too short to allow a two handed sword holding pose.  Speaking of the weapons, there are only parts to fully build two of the three ranged weapons (the Heavy Psilencer, the Heavy Psycannon and Heavy Incinerator); this is also the case for the three right-hand close combat weapon options (The doomfist, Nemesis Greatsword and Nemesis Daemon hammer) [what is it with GW and their increasingly stupid names ? – ed], though those with some sculpting skills should be able to quite easily build the missing part of  the hand that’s required.  This would then mean that with a bit of magnetic magic you have swappable weapons options for your DK.

Complete Nemesis Dreadknight
Complete Nemesis Dreadknight

Now we come onto my thoughts on the look of the model, which admittedly are purely subjective, so you may feel inclined to disagree.  As Paul said in his Grey Knights preview piece, it’s difficult to say whether I love or hate this kit, I guess in reality it is a bit of both.  I like the overall slickness, but I think it has been spoiled by some of the additions like the pistons controlling the arms, and the “headless horseman” aspect of the design.  Then there is the writing, technically a great achievement, again showing how far GW have come with plastics, but with the words themselves just a touch silly – I think I would have preferred that they stuck to the cod-latin stuff.

And then there is the pilot, in what can only be described as a baby harness.

Overall it’s aesthetics are as confusing as the numbering on the sprues.  Is this supposed to be a slick technological marvel, or something only half a step more advanced than a sentinel ?  It has the smooth armour, but then a very static pose and pistons etc sticking out all over the place.  As alternative comedians like to say: “what’s that all about ?”

So a lot of annoyances for me in the look and design of this kit, but despite all of that I wouldn’t say it was bad, it’s just a bit of a disappointment considering what they nearly achieved but didn’t quite.  Given a few months I’m sure a number of guides will be published on converting this into something that will realise it’s potential a bit more, and it’s on the basis of the kits potential that the Nemesis Dreadknight gets:

Good knight and good luck: 6/10

6-10

 

Warlord Games Firelock Storming Party review

Pike and Shotte Firelock Storming PartyThe Firelock Storming Party from Warlord Games is a boxed set containing 18 figures, 16 plastic and 2 metal.  The packaging is well designed, the front illustration and the information on the reverse both being particularly pleasing to the eye.

Inside, there are the metal figures, a running officer and drummer, as well as 16 identical sprues for the rest of the company.  There is also a printed sheet with further information on the period and troop type, as well as some colour scheme suggestions.  Like the box itself, this sheet is also produced to a high standard and shows that a lot of thought went into it’s production, elevating it from being a mere aside.

The two metal figures represent the captain and drummer of the company.  Both these figures are very well detailed and are very evocative of the desperately charging men they represent.  The only downside I can see is that if you plan to field multiple companies then you’ll need extra work converting these figures to minimise their repetition from unit to unit, having said that, they are amongst the best historical figures I’ve ever seen, so I think that down side can be forgiven.

Firelock Sprue
Firelock Sprue

As previously mentioned, the bulk of the company are all made from a single plastic sprue type, meaning that they use the same stock pose: with one leg slightly raised and tilting forward in a running pose.  Unfortunately, this means that there is very little in the way of out-of-the-box variation to be had from this set.  Each sprue contains two sets of firelock-wielding arms (gun raised and gun point forwards), as well as two hats, and that is all the variation that can be had.

This does mean that you are getting 16 spare firelocks, which can be sprinkled about other regiments to denote better equipped individuals (plus of course more hats). It would have been nice to see extra possibilities in the kit; a second pose or separate torso’s and heads being two ways of doing this.

Pike & Shotte Firelock Storming Party
Firelock Storming Party

The sole pose aside, the model is finely detailed and has a minimum of mould lines.  And although I spent the last paragraph complaining about the lack of variation in the pose, the fully assembled company does look quite good in a uniform “hustling” into position kind-of-way.  And it is possible to add a minor conversions to change the leg posture, as well as change the elevation of the gun to a certain extent.  With a few spares from other sets, it is also possible to do things like add some hat plumes, for instance, further enhancing the look of the unit.

Pike & Shotte Firelock Storming Party
Firelock Storming Party (again)

All in all then, this is quite a pleasing set of figures at a very good price.  Not being able to get multiple poses out of the box is an issue for a lot of modellers and gamers however.  I feel as though Warlord missed a trick here – if there had been say: two torso’s, two heads and two sets of legs per sprue (and thus eight sprues per box) it would have easily rectified this problem.

8-10

Game, set and Flint: 8/10

Warhammer Orcs & Goblins Army Book review

Greenskins live to fight! Whether nomadic, territorial, or living in the filthy, despoiled remains of their latest vanquished foe, predictability their next action will almost certainly be to wage war. Their society works on a structure of sorts. Might is right and if you can’t be mighty, fight dirty. It was once said, that if they could only conquer their desire for in-fighting and self destruction, that they would one day have complete dominion over the whole world!

As an O&G player myself, I was particularly keen to see how it would affect the 6000 points plus that I have already amassed over the years.

First Impressions

This book is 112 pages of pure beauty, odd really when you consider the subject material. The new hardback format (for all future army books if rumour is true), is an absolute masterstroke. The entire publication is presented in glorious full colour, from robust cover to robust cover, this book will not fall apart. As one would expect from GW the book is laden with beautiful artwork, some familiar, some refreshingly new, all beautiful. There are 14 pages of mind-blowing miniatures showcase, showing just how varied and characterful this army can be. All of the information is presented in a new, but still very easy to understand way.

This new format will, in my humble opinion, create it’s own sub-section of ‘must have ‘em all’ collectors. I can already see, in my mind’s eye, how fantastic all the Army Books will look fighting for shelf space in our house.

On Closer Inspection

Now to the nitty-gritty. What does the book mean to the people who play this Army? This review will not (and indeed can not) answer all of these questions. Before the addition of the 2 new heroes & 3 new troop types, the O&G already possessed the most varied array of options of any army in the game, and with that, a vast amount of army builds as individual as their creators.

As with any change of army book, there are winners & losers, ups & downs or comings and goings.

Biggest Positive Changes:

The addition of the Arachnarok (reviewed separately) adds a much needed (slightly more reliable than a giant) Big Guy. The addition of the Nasty Skulkers makes Goblins a tad more attractive troop choice. The ability to take Goblin Chariots in units (1-3) is a nice variation. Animosity is less punitive. The various tweaking of points values, lifting of number restrictions and re-categorization of certain troops makes the army more compatible with other 8th edition forces. For the completely insane, that Squig army build is now a more viable option!

Biggest Negative Changes:

The removal of the ‘Waaaagh!’ spell and general changes to  magic: I’m sure that the analytical brains who come up with the formulaic ‘best build’ armies will find new, interesting combos that are hidden to me, but the Waaaagh was a great leveller (literally!) against high initiative opponents. There are now only 8 (yes 8!) magic items in the ‘Shiny Stuff’ segment. Three of which cost 100 points and all but one of the remaining five carry heavy restrictions. Magically, all around in my opinion, the army has been ‘nerfed’.

On the Tabletop

Difficult to really know having not put the book through a ‘field test’ under 8th Edition Warhammer; initial gut feeling is that the introduction of this beautiful tome will not radically alter the Greenskins perceived place amongst the ‘fun only’ armies. In the current game, speed is of the essence and merely possessing the ability to ‘‘it really ‘ard’ is not going to matter if you’re no longer around by the time your number comes up! Having said that, the army still remains top of the tree when it’s down to sheer enjoy-ability. How the army will fare against the real tournament contenders out there is anyone’s guess. The jury really is out on this one!

Rating

The actual book, as an item, is indeed a thing of beauty. The production values, quality, appearance etc. are all unequalled in the hobby. An essential purchase for any serious Warhammer Fantasy Battle player. 9/10.

Having been reliably informed that Jeremy Vetock (GW’s resident O&G aficionado) was the penman on this edition, I was genuinely excited at the prospect of an army that could stand toe to toe with the likes of Demons, Dark Elves etc. Frankly, however, I’m underwhelmed & remain unconvinced that this is what has indeed been delivered. So, content in game terms gets only a disappointing 5/10.

Still, that’s an average of 7/10 overall. Go Green!

7 out of 10

Pick up the new Orcs & Goblins Army Book prior to release and get 20% off RRP: Orcs & Goblins Army Book

Warhammer Orcs & Goblins Arachnarok Spider review

A veritable behemoth that builds it’s lair in the deepest darkest depths of the forest, where nothing is safe from it’s rapacious appetite from careless Beastmen herds to the mighty Cygor. Canny and cunning as ever, the shamen of Forest Goblin tribes have developed methods of cajoling or coercing the services of these gargantuan beasts. Bedecking their enormous carapaces with comic-looking howdahs, weapon platforms or shrines, enables even the least threatening greenskin to command ultimate respect as they power forth crushing all in their path…..

The Arachnarok is a rare troop choice from the Orc & Goblin army book, but may also be taken as a shrine mount for a Goblin Great Shaman or carry an upgrade ‘flinger’ that is a unique war-machine.

First Impressions

Like a child fed on E-numbers for a week (I’m a dyed in the wool Greenskin at heart!), I was almost unable to control my excitement at being given the opportunity to assemble and review this creation. When I finally got my clammy mitts on the goodies I was blown away! I must admit to being a little intimidated as reality hit home, could I do justice to the sheer level of detail portrayed over such a huge kit? Only time would tell…….

On Closer Inspection

The 95 part kit was, as expected, up to the usual phenomenal standard one would come to expect from GW’s current plastic output. The individual details are portrayed perfectly in every aspect of the kit, from the humour of the goblins to the utter horror & revulsion created by a spider the size of a large two-storey building. Warning! Staring at the components can cause delay in assembly.

Sprue Thumbnails:

Arachnarok Spider Sprue 1
Arachnarok Sprue 1
Arachnarok Spider Sprue 2
Arachnarok Sprue 2

Assembling the Kit

I’m an experienced model maker (with 30 years experience), but was under no illusion, having perused the instructions, that I would not be calling on ALL those years experience. The build got under-way at a flying start. The assembly of the actual spider proper (up to and including part 41), was a cinch. The parts were expertly designed to ‘click’ reassuringly into place during dry-fitting and each overlapped subtly to hide prominent seams.

My  relationship with this kit began to show signs of strain as the instruction manual entered phases 6 & 7. At this point you are going to be putting some terra-firma under your not-so-wee beasty (basing). The manual will have you believe that your base is square (which it clearly isn’t!).

 

 

Arachnarok Spider Complete

TOP- TIP 1. Remember your spider needs to face one of the short sides of your RECTANGULAR base! ( I nearly didn’t!).
From part 8 of the instruction manual we were heading for marriage guidance! The assembly & attachment of your howdah, (prior to deciding your final choice of build), requires a steady hand, persistance & an inexhaustible patience!

TOP-TIP 2. When the instructions advise a dry-fit assembly, heed the advice!

On fitting the howdah, it’s decision time. For our review model, I took the decision to build the one choice that would use the most parts! So, we were going to end up proud owners of a ‘flinger’ (an impressive mobile artillery platform).

It was from here on in that the kit became a little ‘testing’.

The various howdah options all required some seriously fiddly work, and it was at this point that my one and only gripe arose. I found the instruction manual to be not only inaccurate, but the diagrams were often misleading or at best unclear. Fortunately, the kit was so good it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of the overall experience.

On the Tabletop

Arachnarok Spider Complete
Arachnarok Spider Complete

As a basic model with no upgrades your Arachnarok will weigh in at a hefty 290 points. So if you’re playing 2400 point games why not take two?! The flinger upgrade is only 30 points and the Catchweb Spidershrine only 40.

The bog-standard 290 pointer hits home with 16 attacks on a 100mm frontage. Eight of those are poisoned & strength 5!

For 320 points your added ‘flinger’ will enable you to shoot as a stone thrower with strength 1 (3) (even on the move!) from 12-48 inches, deluging your target in sticky webs that cause them to ‘Always Strike Last’ next turn (not so great against High Elvsies, but will put a damper on just about everyone else!)

For just 10 more points, the added shrine will give your Great Shaman the ‘Loremaster’ special rule.

If you consider that the upgrades are in addition to the basic attacks and then add the thunderstomp as a final flourish you can rest assured that the Orc & Goblin Army has just joined the big league…..quite literally!

Rating

Without doubt a high scoring delivery from GW with an overall web-tastic 9 stars! Only (maybe harshly) reduced from the maximum by the problems arising from a poor set of instructions.

9/10

Accurate as of 18th February 2011.

Warlord Games Parliament Infantry review

Pike and Shotte Parliament Infantry Box Warlord Games are busily releasing a number of historical sets for various time frames, from Romans in Testudo formation to German SS troopers, they are slowly building up a catalogue of miniatures that any historical gamer should be looking upon greedily.

With the publication of their Black Powder rulebook just over a year ago they have provided an entertaining and well-crafted set of rules with which to use their (and other manufacturers) models in a wide ranging wargames settings, and having announced earlier in the year that they are working on a number of supplements to detail various periods in history, it really seems like there has never been such an exciting time to get into period wargaming.

The English Civil War is one of the periods in history that I am most interested in, and when Warlord started releasing the Pike and Shotte range of models I started gathering them just as a collector and painter.  Having been lured in with such dainties as the King Charles I model, and with the wealth of options available for historic wargaming, it seems to be the right time to take the plunge and build an army ready to march across the British countryside.

From just reading about the box the signs seemed good. 40 models for an RRP of just £18 ?  A few years ago that alone would have caused me to dismiss them out of hand as being of definite poor quality; but having seen what Mantic are doing these days, it is no longer as far-fetched to believe that plastic models can be both well-priced and well-crafted.

The package exterior filled me with hope, with the period-style artwork, and lots of well thought out information on the period and models.  If they put that much thought into the box then surely they wouldn’t cut any corners with the actual models ?

Parliament Infantry Insert
Parliament Infantry Insert

Inside the box, along with the sprues and the bases, was a nice leaflet with yet more detail.  Containing information on the period, paint schemes, unit organisation as well as some banners ready to cut out and use, this small leaflet was a great little bonus, and shows a really well thought out approach from Warlord Games. As the contents are similar (and sometimes the same) for all of Warlords Pike and Shotte basic regiments it’s worth getting one of each box just for the packaging and extras.

Parliament Infantry Sprue
Infantry Sprue
Parliament Command Sprue
Command Sprue

Getting onto the sprues themselves, it could immediately be seen that the sculpting and casting quality is at a high standard. The were some minor gripes, such as the lack of variety and a couple of minor aesthetics issues, but these were well mitigated by the cost of the product itself.  Having counted 42 bodies over the 4 sprues (as opposed the the 40 advertised), I checked to see whether it was possible to build some extra men, and it seems that the command sprue does indeed provide enough extras for you to produce an extra officer, sergeant or musician.

Parliament Infantry Unit Built
Parliament Infantry Unit Built

Looks-wise I had a problem with the tiny heads on the soldiers, but the reason for this became apparent when I started clipping the components of the sprue, each head is designed to carry one of the many hats provided.  This in turn resolved my other minor gripe, those hats provide a way of giving instant variation to the unit.

So a cheap box with no negative aspects, and with ‘2’ bonus models included, it has to be:

10 out of 10

10/10 (warts ‘n all).

*Accurate as of 2nd February 2011

Mantic Undead Revenant Cavalry review

Revenants are ancient heroes infused with a Necromancer’s power that rise to become deadly undead warriors. The Revenants form the armoured elite of a Necromancer’s army and when mounted on the unholy remains of their once revered war-charges, there are few living warriors with the strength or nerve to stand against them.

Mantic Games’ Undead Revenant Cavalry are made from a resin/plastic mix, the Undead Revenant Cavalry Regiment contains 10 miniatures & the Revenant Cavalry Horde contains 20 models, each box contains 1 champion, 1 standard bearer and 1 musician.

This is the first time I’ve worked with a resin/plastic kit and I was surprised to find that all the parts were loose in a couple of plastic bags, maybe naively I was expecting sprues.

Wanting to know more about resin/plastic I gave Mantic a call and was told that the revenant cavalry were a trial to see how well this new material performed and that if it goes well we can expect more of these types of miniatures from Mantic.

The reason behind trialling resin/plastic is that the moulds for plastic kits are very expensive to produce, so miniatures that are likely to sell in smaller volumes, think specialists and character models, cannot be economically manufactured in plastic. Traditionally this would mean miniatures would be cast in metal but metal prices have sky rocketed in recent years, these revenant cavalry boxed sets would have cost twice as much if the miniatures were cast in metal, so Mantic have turned to resin/plastic. Additionally metal miniatures are always difficult to work with, if trimming or bending heavy weight parts is required, another reason to try resin/plastic.

Why resin/plastic and not just resin? We’ll anyone that has worked with resin will know that while it produces great levels of detail it is much, much more fragile than plastic (or metal of course) and adding plastic to the mix strengthens the miniature. This is an advantage as miniatures can be bent and twisted into shape easily during construction and are less prone to damage during play.

Anyway, on opening the bags included in the Revenant Cavalry Regiment boxed set you are presented with 70 plastic/resin parts along with 10 plastic bases. 3 parts for each horse including a mounded base and 4 for each revenant rider, see image below:

Mantic Games Revenant Cavalry Box Contents
Mantic Games Revenant Cavalry Box Contents

From the parts provided it is possible to build 4 differently posed horses, 7 differently built lancers plus command, a nice level of customisation.

Preparing the miniatures too little time, there was some flash on the miniatures, especially on the horses backsides, but these parts were easily cleaned up.

Construction was pretty straightforward, a little trimming and filling is required to get the two halves of each horse to fit together perfectly but this doesn’t present too much of a problem, I also found a lump of green stuff was needed to create better contact between horse and rider. NOTE: Resin/plastic is glued with super glue.

The only real complication is that the small resin scenic base poses some modelling problems as it sits on top of the plastic bases supplied. Some blending in with green stuff or similar will be required, this could have been avoided if the kit included recessed bases like those supplied with Mantic’s infantry.

The sculpts themselves are pretty nice, the standard bearer especially looks fantastic when built. To my mind there is only one piece of the kit that lets it down and that is the torso with the abdomen exposed. It doesn’t sit too well on some of the legs provided and the shield arm seems to want to sit lower than the lance arm on this torso. Both these issues can be resolved by trimming off the fitting peg and gluing on in the position of your choice, this doesn’t pose any durability issues as the resin/plastic mix sticks very well, much better than metal. Finally I would have liked to have seen tails on the horses but I guess this is the first thing that drops off when a horse enters unlife….

With regard to cost, at first glance this kit seems expensive for a box of Mantic miniatures, Mantic being well known for their great value for money. But once you accept that this kit was not going to happen in plastic and that the only other option would have been metal you soon realise that you get a lot of miniatures for your £25 or £50 RRP outlay. Were you to purchase the approximate equivalent Games Workshop miniatures (Black Knights) the prices would be £77 and £154 accordingly.

Mantic Games Revenant Cavalry
Revenant Cavalry charging into battle

So, all in all, there is little to fault this kit. The miniatures look great, are easy to build and represent good value for money…

Overall score: 9/10

Mantic Revenant Cavalry Regiment

Mantic Revenant Cavalry Horde

*Accurate as of 8th January 2011