Tuesday 20 February 2024

Rogue Trader Reprint: A Long, Long Time Coming


Just a quick update today as I'm pretty busy but I thought I'd post my thoughts on the Rogue Trader reprint.

So as of typing, the book still hasn't arrived and reading around the internet, this seems to be quite a common occurrence in the UK with stock arriving recently in the US but with the book being printed in China, it appears that we'll be waiting a while yet for copies to appear.

In GW's defence, they did say it could take up to 180 days or 6 months but it does feel like this has turned into a bit of a cash grab before the release of the Old World fantasy battle stuff.

I'm willing to wait a wee bit to get hold of my copy but I must admit that I'm getting to the point where I may cancel my order as I am actively moving away from GW games and delving further into my collection of old indie stuff, especially as there has been some comment from folks who did get their copy that have mentioned its not the best quality wise with photos being described as being a bit on the dark side.

I suspect that is due to the fact that GW had to scan a copy of the original so its never going to be perfect but it sounds like they could have tweaked the images a wee bit to clear them up. I'll no doubt hum and hah about it for the rest of the week but I'm edging closer to just moving onto something else and the refunded pennies could be better used for something else that will get regular play...

We shall see if there's any update this week and I'll make the decision on Saturday and possibly dedicate the saved cash to a small indie company that needs it more than the behemoth.

In the meantime, All the best!

Tuesday 13 February 2024

A Great Flood


Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week or so. We've got an ongoing leak coming through our kitchen ceiling which has now been going on for three months.

The landlord for the flat upstairs has been in repeatedly to try and fix it but still it persists. Sometimes we have a whole week without water coming through but at others its poured through resulting in a kitchen we can't really use until repairs are complete.

Unsurprisingly this has been rather praying on my mind and while its currently slowed down somewhat, its a bit of a distraction from much needed hobby time.

Hopefully it will be properly fixed this weekend but until then, I doubt much hobby shenanigans will be had!

On a brighter note, I've got a few sculpts finished and hope to be able to show them soon which will then see my Leviathan project kicking off. In an attempt to distract myself further from the flood from above, I'm also going to revamp my original Leviathan blog and stock it up with rewritten and formatted articles about the original game. This will be a bit of a slow burn sort of project but once I've got the first few posts up, I'll share it here.

In the meantime, All the best!

Monday 5 February 2024

An Ode to Obscure Games: Exploring Settings and Factions


I've been sculpting furiously over the last week and have got the next batch of figures for my Leviathan project but as I'm trying to get an entire faction at least to a decently playable condition, it's taking a while but my Children of the Worm should be about ready to paint come this weekend which is great.

In the meantime, I thought I'd have a look at how to incorporate some of the obscure games from my collection into something a bit more focused, namely looking at setting a mini campaign in one of them.

For this I've rummaged out my original Void 1.0 rulebook which has the rules and basic background for the game as well as core troop choices for each faction. Weighing in at 48 pages, the original Void rulebook is none the less a really great wee read, chock full of background that helps set the scene for the game that would develop over the following years.

We have an outline of the civilisation, namely the Viridia Solaris-Leviathan binary system where humanity originated from. We then have a brief overview of the binary systems planets and brief history of how the civilisation, originating on Viridia spread initially throughout the system and began to squabble amongst each other resulting in war and a split between the Viridians, Junkers of Ironglass and the Syntha of Prime.

We also get a good overview of how FTL travel works in the setting, largely due to the gravity well of the dead star Leviathan and then the book explores each of the factions in greater length comparing everything from their commerce to military and politics which serves to give a good grounding on how each of said factions will operate in setting.

We have the eco-capitalist Viridians who have a megacorporate democracy and generally good tech level. Its citizens are probably the freest of the settings societies but as they're working for the megacorporations, this is must be taken with a pinch of salt. Their military is well equipped but risk averse so rely more on well equipped troops who can hold the enemy off at range.

The Junkers of Ironglass are a despotic society, loosely based on Rome with the basic citizens life being grim, hard and brutal, not to mention short. Coupled with their tendency to appropriate tech, planets and resources whenever possible, they're clearly not nice guys. The inner council of the Junker's senate aren't even known, so highly do they keep their secrecy. Military wise, the Junkers are numerous and eminently disposable with short range weapons better suited to close in firefights and assaults.

The Syntha of Prime are a technocratic society who believe in melding humanity with machine and develop artificial intelligences using Prime Obsidian, a super rare material only found on their homeworld. Interestingly it is stated that there are two tiers of citizens, the lower class Synthetics such as AI's and synthetic beings while the upper is the Prosthene or cyborg humans. At the same time their society is guided by an AI called Prime. Unsurprisingly the Syntha rely on technology over numbers.

Finally we have VASA or the Viridian Aeronautics and Space Agency who are based on Vacillus and are essentially a combination of scientific administrators, law enforcement, the UN and Nato. They seek to keep peace amongst the members of the Tripartite Confederacy. As such they have access to the best tech and gear and are pretty heavy handed in trying to stop humanity from both wiping itself out and in resisting the Korolan menace.

This sort of information is really handy as it gives you so many handy hints and creative choices if you wish to incorporate the Void setting into your own games or wish to play the game as meant and I do like the fact its all pretty hard sci-fi without the whole mysticism or space fantasy of many other games. 

When you compare it to the older ruleset, Kryomek, you can absolutely see its influences with the Nexus Quarumate and its mixture of megacorporate shenanigans facing an implacable alien menace so it wouldn't take much work to combine the two with just a small amount of effort.

Next we move onto the Void rules themselves, these are a nice, tight and quick skirmish set that is clearly aimed, at least initially at 30-40 figures a side. Looking at the rules, I see no reason why it won't work perfectly well for much smaller skirmishes with 5-10 figures fighting it out with only minor adjustments and may well be a way of trying out the game quickly and easily.

The other option is to use the setting as a guide and instead of concentrating on the big sweeping stuff and instead get down to the nitty gritty. There are plenty of interesting options for the skirmish gamer by just reading the rules. I could easily imagine creating a small raiding party of Junkers seeking loot, Syntha scientific expedition protected by AI troopers, Viridian marines off on a bug hunt or even independent colonists trying to hold off one of the great powers who seek to incorporate them into their fold. VASA could be used as enforcer types, either NPCs with set objectives or as a punishment unleashed on any warband that gets too overpowered in a campaign.

One of the criticisms I've head of Void is that it is a bit generic and the figures are bland and possibly compared to the super detailed and even fiddly stuff that GW produces, this is to some extent true but with a bit of a read of the rules and forethought, it does make for a really intriguing setting that lends itself to digging into and exploring.

When you combine this with other rulebooks which are specifically aimed towards small skirmishes, such as Star Mogul or Planet 28, there's the framework for a gripping narrative to be explored in small scale.

Combined with the Battles With Miniatures magazines and Army Books, all freely available to download from Seb Games, there's a lot of inspiration to be found and I do look forward to porting Farpoint into it and seeing what I can come up with 

I'll be posting more of my thoughts when using other games, specifically sci-fi for my next update and we shall see where it takes me but in the meantime, All the best!

Thursday 1 February 2024

An Ode to Obscure Games: Leviathan


I figured that after all this rummaging through my collection of obscure games, it was high time I actually posted about my main project this year, Leviathan!

Published in 1995 by Grendel Miniatures, Leviathan was a game that I discovered, like so many others, in Macs Models and was immediately fascinated by the stunning artwork produced by Adrian Smith. Macs Models even had lots of the original art up on the wall which I still regret not buying when they were available!

Unsurprisingly, I picked up the rulebook immediately and that was me. Sadly I didn't end up doing much with it until I headed off to university in 2006 where I arrived in Worcester, a city I'd only visited once and knew nobody having sold off literally every miniature I owned and most of the rulebooks and gaming magazines. While university was brilliant, I found myself hankering after miniatures and had for some reason, brought my rather battered copy of Leviathan with me and re-read it for the first time in over a decade.

Here was a very different fantasy world from the GW Old World. It had suffered an apocalypse called The Death which saw the thrice cursed Elves break a great seal which unleashed the princes of the fallen upon the world. At the same time a great storm of wild magic roiled across the world, mutating, changing and causing vast destruction as it went and now the surviving races must fight to survive this harsh new world.

The now throughly evil Elves squat in their great obelisks in the wastes ride forth to reconquer their shattered realm, accompanied by terrible monsters summoned from other realms and the warped remains of the dragons.

The barbarian tribes of the North march to a final war to avenge the mutilation of the Earth Mother. They ride great razorback boars and have the power to warp themselves in a battle frenzy and their druids can summon elemental creatures to aid them in battle.

The Orcs and their slaves, the Goblins pour from the endless plains of the east atop great lizards to ravage and claim the ruined world for themselves, driven on by their god Gorath who they summoned by the ritual sacrifice of all their shamans.

The Dwarves, locked up in their subterranean holds survived The Death better than most and now emerge with blackpowder weaponry and great steam driven engines of destruction to hold their mountain fastnesses and drive back the forces who wish to destroy them.

The rules themselves are pretty interesting but do feel like they are aimed at two very different styles of game. On the one hand, the setting and big beasties that were created for the game work for either small scale skirmishes with 5-10 figures a side fighting for resources or up to a large warband of several units supported by a handful of larger monsters or war engines, somewhat like 40k 2nd edition.

The rules themselves though seem to be aimed more towards Fantasy Battle sort of scale and need a 4'x8' board to play and regiments of troops fighting. At this level, it feels like it should have had a mass battle option with 10-15mm scale figures that would be better suited to the mass battle and mighty engines of war sort of thing.

Despite this, the game really appealed to me, and over the next few years, I picked up a lot of resin bits and bobs and even had a bash at creating usable warbands but the sheer size of the undertaking was too much and when I left uni, the project had stalled.

Over the next decade or so, I've tried to restart the game with limited success, managing to play a game each year using cardboard tokens to represent units and it actually worked pretty well but there is no substitute for a proper miniature game with painted miniatures.

This saw the birth of the Boar Company with their leader Grimli who I've sculpted in different scales over the years and their ongoing rivalry with their nemesis, Marik Goldhelm, a rogue wizard and much enjoyment has been had from it.

Similarly, as I played a small skirmish game using the setting, rather than the rules, the setting began to morph and change, with a new background forming until it was very much an original beast in its own right.

The Elves were now the remnants of an interstellar empire who unleashed The Death by creating a fell magitech machine to fight a foe so terrible that in defeating it, the Elves cursed themselves. Now there are multiple factions of them squabbling over the ruins. Some remain true to their original selves, others have fallen to evil or genetic modification or even magitech addiction.

The Orcs became Gorathians, soldiers from another world who the Elves used as footsoldiers in their wars who seek to return to their own world and will destroy all who stand in their way. They have access to crude blackpowder weaponry and when combined with their command of saurian mounts are a force to be reckoned with.

The Dwarves are engineers and builders whom the Elves had used to build their vast obelisk palaces and create the engines of war but turned against them when they turned on The Machine and now seek to bring order to the chaotic wastelands of Aeroth. They make use of technology and engineering but slowly turn to stone as they age so even their ancestors are still around and their souls can be implanted into machines to march to war along with their kin.

The Barbarians are the hardened survivors of The Death who roam the world in warbands seeking a new and safe homeland following the destruction wrought by the Elves. Once slaves to the Elves they are free people but live a hard, nomadic life of raiders and are somewhat like a combination of Mad Max and Slaine...

As the setting started developing off on a tangent, the background becoming very different from the original, I started moving away from the old resin sculpts and even the style of game that the original Leviathan rules were aimed towards and I have to say that I don't regret it as I've had a huge amount of enjoyment from putting together my own world and sculpting my own figures but I do find myself hankering after at least putting the original Leviathan to bed by completing at least one small warband using the original figures...

I still have a fair amount of resin miniatures from the range which could be put to good use so maybe this year will see me work towards getting a warband constructed and painted but I suspect that this is going to be beyond my abilities, if for no other reason storage for large painted resin miniatures is a bit of a nightmare and I just don't have the space for more than a 3'x3' board making gaming the original rules somewhat of an impossibility.

So where does this leave me? I do have plenty of options to use other rulesets but using the original setting to create some really interesting gaming. For example, how about using Frostgrave to represent different magic users investigating the ruined megacities of Aeroth in search of lost lore.

Rangers of Shadowdeep, Five Leagues from the Borderlands or Brutalquest could see brave bands of adventurers exploring the ruined wastelands and fighting dire foes to keep their homes safe from the perils of the post Death world.

There's even options for creating larger warbands with 30-40 figures to duke it out with each other with Rogue Trader or No Quarter so I do still have options!

At present, I've ben trying to get more of my SD sculpts finished that will represent the Children of the Worm, worhshippers of a great white worm that inhabits the southern deserts whose flesh, if consumed gives the gift of unlife so expect to see some fresh fights and rivals for the Boar Company.

But this approach is very slow as I can only sculpt about 4-5 figures a week and when you include painting, this stretches things out even more so I may end up with a bit of a two pronged approach to things and create some mini challenges of a Leviathan theme throughout the year, be it creating a couple of warbands for Brutalquest using pre-existing miniatures and building them up to Frostgrave levels or making scenery suited to the setting.

Coupled with this, I do find myself being drawn to another project, namely Void 1.1. With the upcoming release of Void 2.0 by Seb Games, I do think it would be fun to do a bit of an army challenge sort of thing where I give myself 3 months to paint one of the army starter boxes and then bulk it out to a full 1500 point army (which isn't too much of a challenge when that would be 30-40 figures and a vehicle or two).

This would give me lots to be getting on with and should keep me from burning out or losing motivation which is something I have had to deal with in the past, especially with Leviathan.

We shall see what I get through in the coming months but I do plan on trying out as many rulesets as I can this year (my record is currently 7 different rulesets played in a single year and I'm keen to break this!).

Hopefully I'll get myself in gear to make a start on the somewhat nebulous projects in the coming weeks but until then, All the best!