Thursday, May 24, 2012

On Vacation

I'm going to be on vacation for a few weeks. Work and my personal life have been taking a lot out of me lately and it's been incredibly hard for me to express myself well. I have quite a few topics I want to talk about and I've been getting frustrated in expressing them.

I expect to be back to my normal 3 post a week schedule come June 18. Expect an in depth review of the first season of Ring Ka King, a summary post about my Ogres, a majority of my Vampire Counts army to be done, and numerous posts about the failures of the free market and other such topics.

Thanks for everyone's support! I never thought I would get as many views as I have and I've received a lot of very positive feedback from so many people that it has been very humbling.

Expect a better and energized Hammer Dialectic in mid-June!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tomb Kings Army

Here is an army shot of my Tomb Kings.

I'm actually really happy with how the army looks as a whole. The massive block of spears look dangerous and the rest of the army looks mean.

Queen Khalida

Prince Apophas


Tomb King

Liche High Priest

Liche Priest of Death

Liche Priest of Light

50 Skeleton Warriors with Spears and Full Command

59 Archers with Banner

8 Chariots with Banner and Musician

10 Horsemen Archers (usually run as 2 units of 5)

6 Necropolis Knights with Full Command (more info here)

Casket of Souls

Screaming Skull Catapult

Moving into the future I'll likely be shelving these dusty bones for Ogres and Vampire Counts. I've had a lot of fun playing this army and am definitely better at the game because of my time with them, but they have some severe limitations that make the army a little boring to play with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vampire Counts - Terrorgheist / Updated Hobby Road Map

I'm making some progress on my Vampire Counts. Not as much as I would have liked, but some progress.

I painted this guy up over a few days and I'm happy with how he came out. I love his rules and I think the model is ace. A lucky eBay find made him really cheap, too, so I couldn't be happier.

I saw a guy at the Colonial base his Terrorgheist on some of the Garden of Morr bits and I couldn't help but steal that idea. He's already a big model and will never be obscured so I just embraced that and did the same. Plus, I now have lots of leftover pieces from the Garden of Morr to use as unit fillers for zombies.
On the whole I'm happy with how he came out. I got a little sloppy in some areas but I think the model is solid and will look good in my army.


Updated Hobby Road Map

One of the worst parts of my love for this hobby is my inability to stick to any one project. I seriously find something appealing about every army Games Workshop makes and for lots of other games and minis.

Some new things and ideas have come up and I thought I should update my plans for the year. I've been on a big fitness kick lately and one of the things that has helped me stick to it has been writing down my goals in a public place. It's been working for my diet and exercise routine so I hope it works for my hobby life as well.

Vampire Counts: Finish by the end of June
Dreadfleet: Finish by the end of June
Blood Angels: Assembled by July 15, paint to keep pace with Escalation League
Zombicide & Extras: Paint in time for Halloween game
Miscellaneous: Spend November and December on smaller projects such as Lord of the Rings, updating 'Nids, Space Hulk, and anything else I have in mind.

One project I would like to get to this year, and might try to squeeze in if I get ahead of schedule with my Vampire Counts, is to do an Empire army using Old Glory's Landsknechts. They're cheap and look good and I think I can bang out a big Empire army for $250 that would look really fun. Right now I'm thinking of doing a Tilean themed army, which would explain their different appearance from the GW plastics, and it would be fun to create some background for them as well.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Impossibility of an Ethical Life

A few weeks ago the Communication Workers of America sponsored a hashtag on Twitter called #CorporateGreed. What was meant to bring attention to how Verizon is raising prices on customers and slashing benefits for workers, while also increasing the pay of executives, was instead hijacked by free market types on Twitter. Maybe that isn't fair as many who did use it to lash out at the CWA and the Occupy Movement are less concerned with free market economics than they are with simply finding an excuse, any excuse, to be terrible and hateful towards their fellow working brother and sister.

Many of the most popular tweets were similar to this:

I saw this sentiment shared hundreds of times. It's blatently stupid* but it did make me ask a question to myself: how could we create meaningful change without simultaneously contributing to the very things that are so hateful and destructive to the world?

We see this all the time from the right**: accusations of hypocrisy for living in a capitalist society while protesting the excesses of capital. This argument exists to try to scare the left into submission. Even still, it must be addressed in some form. Put simply, the right is somewhat right about this as we are all living lives that are highly unethical and do far more harm than good. That they try to shut up any that would try to change that is quite vile, doubly so as they often celebrate the destruction capitalism brings.

Think about it, our very life in the West is harmful to the world in any number of ways. Consumption of energy and fossil fuels is driving climate change that will surely devastate the lives of potentially billions. Our diet consists of an industrialization of meat production that is the farthest thing possible from anything resembling ethical treatment of animals (I'm not a vegan but we all have to admit that the current state of meat production is awful). We consume products and services from exploited labor throughout the world. We all pay taxes into governments that use that money to bomb and otherwise cause destruction. Our lives are immediately and directly responsible for wars, death, starvation, and a future that is looking increasingly dim for much of the world.

Even those that try to live a more sustainable lifestyle are going to fall short. I don't say this as someone that thinks individual efforts shouldn't be taken, we all owe it to ourselves and our worlds to constantly grow into better people, but without real collective action it won't do much to turn back the tide of despair we are infliecting upon the world. It is this very collective and democratic action that many on the right fear and it is why they try to use the most sophist of arguments to beat down any that would try to advance that action.

To those on the right we should all abandon cities and towns and live in the forests. Only then could we approach something resembling an ethical lifestyle. The part that they never address, or even imply, is that by doing so we would become not only impotent to create any collective action, but that we would also become part of the world that is so negatively affected by the actions of the first world.

That is the dichotomy we are facing, there are only exploiters and exploited. This goes throughout capitalist morality and can be seen when starting a business, and eventually owning a business where others work and generate profit for you, is seen as the greatest moral good. That is the promise capitalism gives: each one of us can stop being exploited and instead become members of the exploiter class.

It is time for us all to embrace our own unethical lives and to actually do something about it. Simply shirking from the task and feeling bad for our contributions to the evils of the world is not enough. The gears of capital will inexorably grind forward and it is only through collective action that we can ever stop them and reshape the world in a positive way.

*This is even more stupid than someone like me yelling at a Tea Partier for using their weekend, which unions won for the working class, to protest government involvement in the economy. Or for me to yell at an elderly Tea Partier for using Medicare and Social Security while simultaneously protesting their very existence. The big difference here is that these people want all the benefits of the labor movement while trying to deny those benefits to the younger generations, while many on the left just want production to happen in a way that doesn't involve child labor, environmental devastation, or mass exploitation that resembles slavery.

**Again, I don't think this is an ideological issue. More and more I'm seeing people express such hateful feelings towards those on the left and I'm becoming increasingly baffled as to why. I don't think that there is a coherent ideology that drives many on the right, but simply a desire to hate on those they feel are at war with them and their culture.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Warhammer 40k 6th Edition Rumors and Lessons From Warhammer Fantasy

I don't usually follow rumors. Rumors seem to come in three forms: They're either false and a total waste of time, they're so vague that they can technically be true but are still a waste of time, or they're misunderstood or make little to no sense without context and become a waste of time. What I'm trying to say is that I don't follow rumors (except for leaked pictures of models, I'll follow those) because they end up being a total waste of time.

We're starting to see that play out with the rumors for the 6th Edition of Warhammer 40k. What's worse about these rumors is that they are pointing towards 40k turning a little bit more into Warhammer Fantasy and this is causing Warhammer 40k players to lose their shit.
I played 3 games of Fantasy this weekend. I love 8th edition.
I think I'm in a unique position to talk about this as I'm one of two people I know well who have seriously played both of the current editions of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k. I'm seeing a lot of gnashing of teeth online from 40k players because they feel that 40k incorporating elements from Warhammer Fantasy is a bad thing, while not understanding how Warhammer Fantasy is played and how it all works together.

Here are some of the current rumors from Blood of Kittens and I'll discuss how people are responding and what they likely mean.

Every unit gets a 6+ save vs. all Psychic Powers & Psychic powers are selected during deployment.
What this likely means: Psychic Powers are all over the place in the game. They matter a lot to some armies and none at all to others. There are lots of different powers and they are all activated at different steps in the game. To put it simply, Psychic Powers are a mess that make little sense and can be hard to keep straight. They are more than likely streamlining Psychic Powers so there's more consistency throughout the game and this will likely mean that they also become a bigger part of the game. The 6+ save will help mitigate some of that as I expect other armies besides Space Wolves and Grey Knights to have kickass powers. One of the big gripes with Fantasy is that the big mean spells can obliterate characters without them getting a Look Out Sir! roll and I see the 6+ save being a bone thrown to the 40k crowd as they will likely express similar things as more armies get Psychic Powers that are as good as Jaws of the World Wolf.

People are terrified of random Psychic Powers like in Warhammer Fantasy. It's not a big deal in Fantasy, though. Here's the thing: Level 4 Wizards almost always get the one or two spells they really want, and almost every spell in the game is worth taking so you're never left with bad spells. Good players don't plan around getting certain spells off because it won't happen anyway, so the Magic Phase becomes about learning how to use the spells you do have in useful ways. As I said before, since all the spells are useful this isn't a problem at all. I don't know how this is going to be implemented, but it's not a big deal and works really well in Fantasy.

Random Charge Lengths are in & Pre-measuring is in.
What this actually means: These two need to be taken together. If there was pre-measuring but no Random Charge Lengths than someone who's only skill was knowing distances better than their opponent could move and destroy their opponent. I know some people are okay with that, but I personally don't play these games to determine which player is better at eye-balling 24 inches. If you can pre-measure there needs to be random movements so you can still play a game.

Now, I shouldn't be saying "Random Charge Length". It's not random. Random would be a single d6. In Warhammer Fantasy you get to roll and add up 2d6, or if you have Swiftstride you get to roll 3d6 and pick the two highest. This isn't random, it's probability. If you get to charge your movement plus 2d6 then it isn't random, it's merely using probability to determine when the best time to charge is. There's risk and reward and decisions to be made. That's why I play these games: I like making decisions and seeing how they played out so afterwards I can think back and adapt based on the actual decisions I make.

Random Charge Length hasn't hurt Fantasy, it's opened it up. Yes, I've failed 9" charges with Ogres by rolling double 1s, it happens, but the vast majority of charges I try to make I end up making because I'm learning to play the game well. It's as random as shooting a Bolter is random or anything else in the game: you simply account for the odds and make decisions based on how likely you are to succeed. There's a reason people take lots of anti-tank: so they have a higher probability to destroy tanks. All this change means is that you would play the game to give you better odds to charge successfully or to hold back an enemy's charge.

One of my favorite things about Warmachine is that everything is solved by 2d6. This is great in a skirmish game since it means you can play for the odds and work out the probability. Of course my huge problem with Warmachine is that it isn't a skirmish game and holy shit I don't want to roll 2d6 60 times to resolve all the attacks of my Mechanithralls is this what playing with a pair means oh no stop it this game is awful.

Random Battlefield effects are in.
What this actually means: I'm not the biggest fan of random woods in Warhammer Fantasy, but the terrain rules needed to be changed so the game didn't become a crippling mess of moving half inches through the woods. Random woods are fine, their effect in the game matters but has never won or lost me a game. It's Not A Big Deal.

All armies can purchase buildings for placement on the battlefield
What this actually means: I think this is kind of cool. I like the idea of a player wanting to play a defender and buying some buildings and making the game a more narrative driven game. I think this could be cool. I also fully expect this to be an exception and not the rule. I doubt this will ever happen in tournaments, I've not played in a Warhammer Fantasy tournament that allowed Folding Fotress at least, and it won't matter to anyone but those players that want to allow it.

Allies are in
Community Reaction: @#$@#$!@#$!!!@^^@
What this actually means: Allies aren't in. There's a section in the Warhammer Fantasy book about doing grand armies, basically multiplayer games, and a loose framework for who would team up with who and why. This is what this will be. I doubt very very seriously that allies are in the game and anyone that's freaking out about it needs to actually know what they're talking about.

What is really weird to me is that a lot of people are freaking out about how 40k is turning into Fantasy and how this is a bad thing, but yet I'm having a hard time actually finding any of these people who know how Fantasy works. Forget Warmachine, the biggest animosity and split in our community is between 40k and Fantasy players and it really boggles my mind why this is. Yes, there are those Fantasy jackasses who will say that 40k is a kid's game or checkers to their chess, and yes there are lots of kids who play 40k who can't be bothered to fully assemble their figures, but they are both great games with a lot to offer.

Honestly, at the end of the day we're probably going to see a lot of complaining and talks of people making their own ruleset and whatnot because their MSU / Tank spam won't be as good, the game will become more about managing probability, and it will hopefully be better. Once I fully realized that to do well in 40k meant to spam vehicles I stopped playing because that's not the game I want to play. I hope it becomes the game I do want to play because I really love Warahmmer 40k, I just don't like where it is now.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tomb Kings - Necropolis Knights, Khalida, Apophas, and Necrotect

These will likely be the last Tomb Kings models I paint for a while.

I like the GW Necropolis Knight models but I wanted to do something different. I forget where I got the idea from, but I loved the thought of them riding scorpions instead of snakes. Richard did some measuring for me and it looked like the Reaper Giant Scorpion would make for a great mount.

With some work I ended up with these guys:

I'm actually really happy with how these guys came out. They look different and they cost about $60 for the six of them (about half of what they would have costed if I went the GW route).

I do have a few caveats, though. First, the scorpions are big and do take some work to fit on the base and to make them line up with the models to their sides. Second, and most importantly, is that I got the P-65 Reaper versions and this was a bad idea. Reaper's P-65 line is cheaper but also made of a lead alloy that is softer and this caused a lot of broken joints and legs that took a lot of work to fix. If you're going to do something like this I would stick with the Warlord versions which, while more expensive, would be a lot easier to work with.

Still, I'm happy with how these guys came out and I think they look unique.

I also got Khalida, Prince Apophas, and a Necrotect done. I spent maybe an hour painting each of these and while it does show I think they came out Good Enough.

One thing I'd like to say is that the two Finecast figures (Apophas and Necrotect) were very close to flawless and each took less than five minutes to prepare and clean. Maybe I've been extremely lucky, but so far I'm continuing to love Finecast.
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