Death Stranding – Release Date Reveal Trailer | PS4 from YouTube
DEATH STRANDING will be available November 8, 2019. Learn more: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/death-stranding-ps4/

I’ve no idea what is going on in the trailer, but visually it looks very impressive. I’m a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, so I’m probably going to give this a shot, as weird and as impenetrable as the plot might be…

In advance of Girl Wonder geting into the hobby, I’m putting together a flexible 4×4 gaming board. In your experience, how much scenery is good for this size of board, for each of AOS and 40K? Bonus internet points if you can show examples ?

A few weeks back I caved and bought the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft. No, that’s not why I didn’t blog much in the last 2 weeks of September. Anyway, I played it heavily for the first few days I had it; I leveled my “main” (a Human Protection Paladin) to level 120 very quickly. Surprisingly quickly in fact. I just followed the quest chains, and by the end of my first session I was already at 116 or so. By the end of the weekend I was at 118, and with a couple of hours mid-week, I was at max level. In Legion, using similar play patterns, it took me a couple of weeks to reach 110.

In general, levelling and questing through the new zones has been wonderful. There’s always a new storyline to discover, and the atmosphere of the zones themselves has been amazing. I only fell to my death off the side of that mountain in Drustvar once twice three times.

I’m about halfway through the “free” game time I had for WoW, and I’m probably going to resub for at least another 6 months. A lot has been made on forums/Reddit/YouTube about “Beta for Azeroth” and the general quality of the systems in the expansion, but honestly? I’m having a blast.

Granted, I’m not your usual modern WoW player. I’m more interested in the solo experience and I’m only logging in a couple of times a week at most. The “time-gating” and Azerite armour issues many players are complaining about simply don’t apply to me. I hated World Quests when I first unlocked them in Legion, but for some reason I’m really enjoying them in BfA. I log in, check my map to see what WQs have the best rewards (gear or rep tokens are my targets right now), and knock out 4-8 in short order. If I have time, I then carry on any questlines I’m working on. If a Warfront is open, I’ll jump on the several quests available for that – the rewards and drops have been pretty good for me so far for a handful of “kill 20 of X” quests.

My goals in the game, in rough order right now, are: to get the Pathfinder achivements in Legion and BfA, unlock WoD flying, then start unlocking Allied Races. Whenever I need a break from that I’m experimenting with how far I can get soloing Dungeons and Raids. I went into Legion’s Emerald Nightmare (Normal) with ~ilvl 290 gear and soloed everything upto Ursoc with only a few deaths along the way. Those deaths were mostly on Elerethe, which I put down to unfamiliarity with the mechanics. I can get Ursoc to between 8%-15% remaining health fairly consistently, but I seem to be just short of getting over the finishing line before the debuffs get too much. I’ll try again after a few gear upgrades. I even tried Trial of Valor before that (I had a quest), but – while I was in little danger of dying – the length of time it would take to down the first bosses was impractical. My hands started to cramp up after 15 minutes or so, with me, Hymdall and Hyrja all still above 70%, so I bubble-hearthed out of there.

I’ll get them eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

Preamble: I’ve jumped back into WoW over the last couple of months. I’ve had an on-mostly-off relationship with the game over the last few years (since the end of Wrath of the Liche King, really), but the early promise of Legion brought me back.

I spent the time up until the launch 2 weeks ago getting acclimated to the game and all the changes I’d missed. I powered through Warlords of Draenor (WoD) in a few sessions, just through quest content (the massive amounts of rested XP helped a tonne!) then set about getting my professions up to max-level.

Professions in WoD very, very easy to level-up. I had both primary professions, and all secondary professions except Fishing maxed-out within a weekend1. If anything, I felt a bit underwhelmed by how easy it was. Between the Garrison and Auction House, it took very little time and money to gather everything needed to craft enough stacks of whatever recipe gave the most skill-ups2. Gathering professions didn’t take much effort either.


Professions in Legion are almost nothing like in WoD. In some ways it’s welcome; recipes have different levels of proficiency (1-3), which adds more interest to them. I haven’t found any recipes yet awarding multiple skill levels. There’s profession-related quest content – often to unlock a better proficiency – and even some of the new World Quests are profession-specific.

It’s just a shame that there’s one fundamental flaw: most of the progression is locked behind Dungeons. Take Alchemy as the prime example: after unlocking Legion Alchemy, you get 3 recipes with 1 or 2 more available from a vendor. These will give you a handful of skill levels at most. Beyond that, you have quests which require you to run dungeons to unlock more recipes. You have to run all of the dungeons in Legion, enter a busy free-for-all PVP area, and even complete a WoD Raid to unlock everything in Legion Alchemy. Other professions are similar.

I absolutely don’t mind having to work for progressing in professions, but this is disappointing. Gating them behind Reputations would have made much more sense to me, or some other mechanic which didn’t force players into LFG/LFR… The new World Quests are another decent candidate. In my experience most players in dungeons are just looking to speed-run bosses for gear upgrades and if you’re not OK with that they’ll make your life hell until you quit, or just /kick you outright.

It’s always been the case that the most lucrative recipes were acquired through dungeons… but these were optional/rare recipes, and mainly of interest to people looking to make serious gold on the Auction House, or needed to get it to help their competetive raid team. Levelling up your professions never needed these “high-end” recipes.

I stopped regularly running dungeons years ago because I had too many bad experiences with groups who were rude/intolerant of players “not as skilled” as they were/just plain assholes3. Since then, I’ve dipped in with ever more reluctance. I have zero desire or patience – let alone time – to deal with that again, and have zero faith it’s improved any. I’m sure I’m not the only player who feels like this, judging by posts on the Battle.Net forums and elsewhere.

For players like me, who have long turned away from the group aspects of WoW, professions are the end-game content4. Locking the means to meaningfully progress professions behind dungeons basically locks them away from us, unless we’re prepared to hold our noses and deal with aspects of the game we don’t necessarily enjoy.

It’s still early days for Legion, and even though I’ve hit 110 on my main, there’s still a tonne of other content I can play, for now. And other characters. I’m just hoping Blizzard do something to make the professions a bit more accessible in a future patch. They’ve achieved their intent to make them more interesting, I’m just not convinced they achieved the “fun” bit.


  1. Most of this was just travel time while levelling Archeology. 
  2. This was new to me – certain recipes giving more than 1 level at a time. 
  3. At first, LFG was a blessing compared to trying to organise a group through chat. Unfortunately it made it impossible to weed-out the bad-eggs before starting a dungeon. My feelings on WoW Dungeons are a topic for another time. 
  4. Alongside Reputations, exploring, lore, and Achievements. 

If – like me – you were eying up the Volkite Weapon Kits from Forge World as a means of expanding the Betrayal At Calth box set, but we’re dismayed to find them sold out and “no longer available” (as opposed to “Temporarily out of stock”), then fear not!

Forge World have your back, according to a reply I got when I asked about the missing kits:

image

Not only will the weapons coming back in an improved form, but other kits will be getting a refresh, along with new accessory packs.

LotV-Screenshot-04

Never, ever pre-order games. That’s the general rule, especially given such recent debacles as the PC version of Arkham Knight.

But as with every rule, there are exceptions. The final entry in the Starcraft 2 series is – for me – one of them. Within 20 minutes of learning the pre-order for the digital editions was live, I had the deluxe edition ordered.

Starcraft is one of those rare gaming series I hold dear; I played the original on my very first PC, fell in love with the story, then had to wait over a decade until Starcraft 2 came along. When the first part, Wings of Liberty, arrived 12 years after Starcraft 1, I fell in love all over again, and all fears about how splitting up the game into 3 would work out. The 3 year wait for Heart of the Swarm was agonising — I loved the story being told so much I just wanted more!

Now we’re nearing the end, at last. The final chapter in the Starcraft saga will arrive sometime between now and March, and I can’t wait.

I have none, because we haven’t seen enough full information – in context – to make any informed opinions.

And neither have you. I get it, change is scary. But stop whining on the internet about AoS before you have all the information. Please? It’ll make the transition much more pleasant for you, me, and everyone else.

I’m flabbergasted by how quickly it all went from “ok, this looks like it could be fun and interesting,” to “ZOMG! The sky is falling! F-you GW! This is the most ridiculous and crappy game EEEEHHHVVAR!

And it hasn’t even been officially revealed yet. Careful; your knee is jerking so hard you might do yourself an injury.

I do have one final, parting thought to leave you with:

If you want a balanced, tournament-friendly (and 1st-party supported!) Fantasy massed-battle game that plays like a “Warhammer 9th” – basically what everyone complaining the loudest seems to be lamenting Age of Sigmar is not – then I humbly suggest you go check out Kings of War. 2nd Edition is right around the corner, with the beta rules available for free download. A number of Warhammer Fantasy armies port over to KoW with little-to-no modification or need to buy new models. It’s fast, deceptively simple, fun, well written, and actively supported. If you’re up in arms about AoS, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

With all the cool new stuff constantly being released by recently, it can be very easy to end up with a large hobby backlog. When this happens it’s possible to get overwhelmed by your “to do list,” and it starts to become a mental drag; when this kicks in, your hobby no longer feels fun and instead feels like working a job you hate. Sometimes it’s just best to declare something a lost cause and just start over afresh.

I went through this very recently. My backlog had grown too big for me to see sight of the end of it – especially with the glacial pace I paint at! When I took stock of what was in the queue I had 2 full armies: a jump-heavy Flesh Tearers list, and a mechanised Tempestus Scions list. Not counting fun stuff like vehicles and characters, I had well over 100 models to prepare, assemble and paint… and these are just the army projects! Throw in various starter boxes for other games, and other sundry small projects, and the list was nearer 400.

Too. Damn. Many.

What to do? My initial plan was to freeze buying anything new until I’d whittled the backlog down to a more manageable level. Such a sensible plan might work for many a struggling hobbyist, butnfortunately, it was not the right plan for me. Despite several months of not buying any new figures1, I made zero impact on the pile of miniatures I had to work through. On top of that, I found myself losing all inspiration for certain projects. Some of that came down to gnawing insecurities about being able to achieve the vision I had in my head, others from indecision about what that vision even was any more. In the end there was just a pile of boxes and sprues causing me to feel terrible every time I thought about it. This was no longer a hobby, it was a chore. Something had to give, and it would be great if it wasn’t me.

In the tech world, there’s a popular approach to email management called Inbox Zero. The idea is to have your email inbox as empty as possible, so the amount of time your brain is occupied by email is as close to zero as possible. The intention is to reduce the distraction and stress caused by an overwhelmingly full inbox. Related to Inbox Zero, is Email Bankruptcy – the practice of deleting all email older than a certain date (often that day) due to being completely overwhelmed.

One day I realised I needed to declare something similar – Hobby Bankruptcy – or I was going to drive myself out of a hobby I’ve loved for over 20 years.

https://twitter.com/atChrisMc/status/585733864183767042

How was I going to do this? Throwing out hundreds2 of pounds of miniatures would be insane, especially if I changed my mind about something. Selling would take too long, and was subject to the fickleness of others. The simplest (non-destructive) solution won out: I took everything 40K/WHFB related, and stashed it in the loft. Out of sight; out of mind. Literally. The only survivors of the “purge” were source books and the limited edition 25th anniversary Crimson Fists miniature.

https://twitter.com/atChrisMc/status/585836777702875136

https://twitter.com/atChrisMc/status/585841570697609217

I can’t express just how much of a weight off doing this has been. I’m no longer under (self imposed) pressure to work through a massive backlog I no longer had the enthusiasm for, and yet, if I rediscover that enthusiasm, I can pull individual kits from the loft to work on as and when I want to.

In the meantime though, I am free to start work on new projects3

And yes, I do know I’m crazy.


  1. And growing increasing anxious about not getting the cool new shinies. 
  2. OK, maybe it’s higher… 
  3. Obviously, any new projects will have much more strict rules around the number of models allowed in the queue at once. No more buying entire armies in one go! 

Space Hulk is one of my all-time favourite games. It’s one of the best rule sets ever written by Games Workshop. It’s been out of print for a few years now, but it looks like it’s being brought back for a limited-run re-release.

Rumours have been swirling for a few days now, and this morning Games Workshop put up a teaser video on their White Dwarf Daily blog.

It’s the standard, ropey, low-budget GW affair, simply panning across a piece of artwork depicting a Space Marine being fitted into Terminator armour. But at roughly 31 seconds in, for a few fractions of a second, another picture flashes up, showing a Terminator fighting a Genestealer – the classic badguys in Space Hulk.

space_hulkSo it looks like Space Hulk is on its way back. While I’m very happy, my wallet is off crying in the corner!

[ UPDATE 09:31]

Thanks to Matt on Twitter for sending me this other still from ~14 seconds in, which I initially missed:

space_hulk2

The Rumour Mill has been frothing for months about a “revised” version of 40K 6th Edition. In the last couple of days there have been leaks from White Dwarf Weekly confirming it was happening – and it appears to be a whole new edition.

Obviously, this is the Internet, and specifically, this is the online 40K community. Where previously we had people saying we needed a revision/new edition to “fix the imbalance,” “add clarity [about what is/isn’t official],” “make the game fun again,” etc, etc, etc… we now have much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The sky is falling! This is the “death” of 40K! It’s a “money grab.” Insert your favourite Games Workshop hate here!

Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up. Ask for a new edition; get a new edition; complain there’s a new edition.

Some cheese with your whine?
Some cheese with your whine?

So what do we know about what’s coming? Two main things:

  1. There’s a “new” psychic phase, just like the magic phase in Warhammer Fantasy.
  2. You now have the option of building your army in one of two ways: “Bound” (which uses the Force Organisation Chart), or “Unbound” which is a free-for-all, take whatever you want affair.

That’s pretty much all of the interesting details we know. If you want my opinion (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t) these are awesome changes to 40K. Why?

Psychic Phase

I hate the current implementation of psychic powers in the game. Having to remember to use different powers at different times in different phases is a massive pain in the hoop. Not using psychics right can lose you a game, yet at the moment they’re so fiddly that it’s all too easy to forget them until it’s too late.

I put “new” in quotes above because a dedicated psychic phase is not unheard of in 40K. We had one in 2nd Edition, and while it added an extra phase to the game, it was beautifully straightforward and it worked. I realise that at least half the player base isn’t old enough to have played with a dedicated phase, and so it’s a big, scary change… but trust me on this: the game will have one less potential point of frustration.

The FOC (or lack of it)

For years and years and years, players have been complaining they can’t field certain “fluffy” armies on the table because the force-org restrictions wouldn’t let them (think Space Marine “Reserve Companies” and the like). Guess what? You just got your wish. Got the points for it? By the sounds of things now you can take it in an “Unbound” list. What was the first complaint about this change? That it would be the death of fluffy armies. Seriously.

If you’ve been paying attention to Jervis Johnson’s column in White Dwarf, he’s been telegraphing such a change for months.

The one fair criticism which could be levelled at this change is that it opens the door for all sorts of spam-list abuses. Is that a game issue, or a player issue? Has everyone lost sight of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”?

Not to mention, we haven’t got any details of the “bonuses” given to Bound (FOC-using) lists. These could still turn out to be an equaliser.

If you’re playing amongst your good friends then sure, take that ridiculous list as a one-off, for the lolz. But taking it to your FLGS for a pick-up game? That makes you That Guy. What do we always say? Don’t be That Guy.

As for tournaments, I imagine they’ll be Bound-List-only, perhaps without the bonuses, depending how the chips fall on those. That way no one has to get their knickers in a twist any more than they do nowadays. It’ll be the same 40K the Internet Community have been anticipating the death of for more than a decade.

In a nutshell, I like this change because it brings so much freedom to the game. I can have a load of fun playing more-or-less what I want, without having to tick boxes on an FOC that’s grown to sprawl over an A3 page when printed… if I want to. Or I can have fun playing with a “cohesive” army and reap some in-game benefits for doing so. The choice will be mine to play the game how I want. GW have actually written into the rules what they’ve been trying to tell us for years: have fun, playing the game your way. We won’t know for sure until the rulebook hits the shelves, but as I said on twitter yesterday, 7th Edition sounds like it’s going to be a hoot to play.

Bloodspire Cover Art

Addendum: My Wishlist for 7th Edition

If I can wishlist for a moment, here’s some more changes I’m hoping to see in 7th Edition:

  • Less “Ignores Cover” – at the moment, there are far too many ways to apply IC, which essentially makes cover useless as a game mechanic. No cover makes it harder for assault armies to do their thing. Would need to be an Errata item for existing codexes though.
  • Less low AP – massed AP3/AP2 is too common, and exacerbates the prevalence of Ignores Cover, making anything without an Invuln save far too squishy.
  • No more random charge distance – seriously, I hate this bit of 6th. I need no other justification other than it just feels stupid to play.
  • Special Rules do not affect Allies, unless specifically noted – 80% of shenanigans gone in one fell swoop.
  • Assault from Deep Strike – would make for some epic moments, and would be a significant boost for assault armies. Definitely of benefit if Ignores Cover remains as-is.

I doubt any of these will happen, but a guy can dream, right?

This is part 2 in a look at the changes to our hobby I have witnessed since my return at the start of the year. You can find part one, which looks at the changes in game-play here: On Returning to Warhammer 40000 – The Game. This part is a bit more ranty.

By far the biggest change I’ve noticed is in the general attitude and culture surrounding the game. In many senses it feels less like a hobby, and more like a competition. There seems to be a “win at all costs” mentality in a large section of the gaming community. I don’t want to sound like someone espousing about the “good old days”, but I find, particularly amongst the younger players things are a lot less friendly than they used to be.

Everywhere I look I see people asking for advice on building lists to beat their local “meta” (WTF?) – what happened to playing the game for the enjoyment of playing the game? I get that winning is fun, but it’s not everything in Warhammer 40000. Our game is as much about telling stories as it is about playing to win. It’s why I’m so glad to see the focus on “Telling a Narrative” in the new rulebook.

By all means, play to win, but if your opponent hasn’t still enjoyed him/herself while losing, then you’ve both failed in my opinion.

TrollFace
Trolls. Don’t feed them.

Another cultural change I’m not so keen on is the rumour-mill on the Internet, and the general sense of… entitlement that the more vocal side of the community displays. So you don’t like a miniature? That doesn’t necessitate a profanity-riddled screed about how the model sucks, GW sucks, you’re never going to spend another penny on their products again, an you could have done so much better while blindfolded and with both arms cut off… and so on, and so on. Put your toys back in the pram. Don’t buy the miniature – or, if for some reason you are “forced” to – convert it; change it to suit your tastes. Just stop complaining about it. Likewise, when a rumour turns out to be off the mark, don’t get all tetchy. It was just a rumour, after all!

Relatedly, your army (or an opposing army) is not “broken”. It may need a rules update as we’re in a new rule set, but that doesn’t mean it’s unbeatable, or can’t be won with. Every codex has its faults, for sure, but nothing that can stop you enjoying the game if you don’t let it. View any such “brokeness” as challenges to be met, and a test of your skill as a player. If you can overcome a “broken” army then you can take comfort in knowing you are better than any of the faceless complainers out there.

I dislike “mathhammer” as a way of proving something is awesome or that something sucks. If you’re spending your hobby time working out a stream of maths over the chance or likelihood something will win you your next game, then it’s not a hobby any more. Take what you’re drawn to (my armies mainly consist of what I want to paint), and just play it. Leave the maths for professional poker players!

Right, now I’ve got that out of my system, it’s not all bad, I must say. The hobby is bigger than ever. I can get tips and feedback from like minded people all across the world. I have access to a whole raft of information which just wasn’t available before.

The things I’ve noted a dislike for above are merely the dark side of the passion 40K inspires in its fans. It’s the same passion which drives us to spend hard-earned money and countless hours slaving over our miniatures and army lists. Properly channelled, that passion is what leads to amazingly painted armies and miniatures, brilliantly fun games and camaigns, and what ultimately brings players like myself back to the game after so much time away… and that is no bad thing.

Last weekend I read the latest Horus Heresy novel from Graham McNeill and Black Library: Angel Exterminatus. What follows is a quick review. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, so don’t go into much depth about the plot.

Angel Exterminatus focusses on the the Iron Warriors legion and their Primarch, Perturabo. Although they are the main protagonists, the plot is setup and driven by another Primarch, Fulgrim, and the Emperor’s Children legion. Also making an appearance are 2 Eldar, and a few battered “loyalist” Space Marines.

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 – and the Horus Heresy in particular – will be lured into Angel Exterminatus by the promise of finding out more about Perturabo and the Iron Warriors. Up to now they have been typecast as rather mundane, if somewhat psychotic bullies. They’re the go-to guys when you have to besiege some fortress in a crawl-through-the-mud, ground-pounding war of attrition – as opposed to the other legions who grab all the glory for daring strikes into the heart of enemy territory. Beyond this stereotype their background hasn’t really been filled in much, leaving us thinking they’re pretty boring, bitter, and only concerned with blowing things up with the biggest gun possible.

What we learn from Angel Exterminatus is a very different picture. The Iron Warriors and Perturabo become interesting, multi-faceted characters. Perturabo is an master craftsman and artisan who can (and does) design and build devices and architecture of dazzling skill and intricacy. He has an unparalleled grasp of physics, mathematics, and strategy. He also has a volatile, murderous personality, but we come to understand where it comes from, and that he is very much more than he appears. The Iron Warriors largely reflect their Primarch. They are straight-forward warriors who excel at far more than they get credit for. They are logisticians, strategists… even geologists and engineers. They just happen to apply those skills to warfare and in a manner which is blunt and brutal, but extremely effective – applying the maximum force with the least amount of effort.

The overall plot can be summarised as: Fulgrim, with the aid of a mysterious Eldar “historian” convinces Perturabo to take his legion on an expedition to the heart of the Eye of Terror, to an ancient, dead Eldar world which is home to a mythical super-weapon which could end the war quickly in favour of Horus. Some Loyalist survivors of the opening battle of the Heresy discover the plan, and are led by another Eldar in a bid to thwart this possibility. Along the way we get to find out just how far the Emperor’s Children and Fulgrim have descended into excess and the worship of Slaanesh, and also how much it sucks to be a loyalist Space Marine right now. Mid-way through the book there’s even a Iron Warriors version of a game of Warhammer 40,000.

Overall, the plot flows nicely, and works well. There a very few, minor snooze moments, but nothing which totally detracts from the rest of the story. The payoff at the end gives us several things which old-timer fans might have been wondering when they would appear in the series, leaping some plot threads considerably.

In summary I’d say Angel Exterminatus is a great addition to the Horus Heresy series. If you’re a fan then you definitely want to pick it up. Newcomers might find it a bit difficult as it refers to a lot of threads in previous books, but it’s not so bad as I would say you should avoid it. It’s still a great read… One that once I started I didn’t put down until I’d devoured the whole book.