Tag Archive | Tavern Talk

Tavern Talk – Painting: Beginners and Beyond

Time for drinks down at the Trading Post.

I have decided to try a different thing this time around.  I thought I would offer you this scenario and see what your advice would be:

A new starter to the hobby has approached you, their army has been selected (insert your own preference if needs be) and rather than ask you questions about how to game or army composition they instead ask you about painting.  Your reply is….

Basically, what tips would you give to a new starter in the hobby.  Everything from paints, to basing.  What are your top tips?

This is best addressed in a list style format. Away we go!

  1. Before you even start painting, properly prepare the model. Clean off mould lines and give it a wash if you have too. Since this is for a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend trying to fill gaps. That can come later.
  2. Pick a rank and file model to start with. Don’t leap straight into Azhag the Slaughterer. It might be worth investing in a plastic box set that you like the look of, to allow you to mess about and try different colours. Be prepared that this lot of models might not even be the army you end up choosing.
  3. A black undercoat will most likely give a more satisfying final model. However, it is harder to get lighter colours to get even coverage, so beware of that.
  4. The most common mistake I see of beginner painters is laying their paint on too thick. There’s no shame in this, I did the same thing starting out. But the goal is to lay down multiple, thin coats to create a more even coverage. Practise not only your brush techniques, but also watering down paints to different consistencies and seeing how that affects the application.
  5. Look after your brush. And don’t chew on it. That’s just nasty.
  6. Your fine detail brush is for just that, fine detail. Make sure you have a higher point sized brush for applying paint to larger areas.
  7. Practise painting a couple of models before you worry about basing. Take it one step at a time.
  8. Try out some different basing materials and techniques before deciding on one for your entire army. You don’t want to commit to something that isn’t going to look right, or prove to be too difficult, to apply over hundreds of models.
  9. Renew the water you use to clean your brush regularly. A murky grey slop isn’t the best environment for proper brush hygiene.
  10. Send a pie to anyone who gives you useful painting tips.

Tavern Talk – Tournaments and Comp

The bar has been reopened!

Tournaments are a very interesting and popular way to play Warhammer, giving an individual the opportunity to play games against players from around the country or to try out different format.  The tournament might be fun, but the organisers often find a need to change how the game is played.  These changes come in the form of restrictions, such as ‘no double rare choices’, ‘maximum of 12 power dice per magic phase’ or they might be the outright banning of certain items (‘no power scroll’).  Many tournaments come out with large rules packs full of restrictions, others have none at all.
The question is how do you feel about comp’ed tournaments?  Do you view these restrictions as important to balance out the game, or are they just a pointless dumbing down of the rules?  What do you like or dislike about these comp’ed tournaments?  What are your experience with them?

I’m at a little bit of a disadvantage here, as I still haven’t had a chance to play in a tournament with the new rule edition.

But so far, playing games of Warhammer, I have been left with the impression that this edition of Warhammer was made with tournaments specifically not in mind. The whole tone of the book and the rules seems to be ‘fun first, rules second’. Not that I think this is bad, far from it. I always prefer a fun game to an unenjoyable one. But certainly this doesn’t lend itself to a highly competitive environment.

With this in mind, it seems only fair for tournament organisers to be able to put restrictions and rules changes into their games. In an ideal world this wouldn’t have to be done, and we could all play the game as-is on equal footing, but that just isn’t the case. While this theoretically provides an equal footing, it also creates its own unique set of problems. For example, you can’t just attend a tournament with ‘out-of-the-box’ knowledge, you have to read and understand a players pack.

My major concern has always been, at what point does the game stop being Warhammer and start being something else entirely? If 10% of the rules are changed, is that still Warhammer. What if it was 50%? 80%? At what point does the title ‘Warhammer tournament’ not accurately describe the proceedings? I have no answer, but it is something that has long weighed on my mind.

In the end though, it is unavoidable that restrictions and alterations will be made. As always, it is up to the tournament organisers to use their best judgement, and for players to just roll with the punches.

Tavern Talk – List Building

Time to order a pint and sit down on the least sticky bar stool.

After listening to a recent show of Heelanhammer I came across the idea of list building.  I wanted to see how people went about building their lists.  There are a host of methods people use.  Some start with the rare slots or their character choices, while others get the core choice out of the way.  Do you see a difference between a friendly pick up game list and a tournament list?  One thing it seems many gamers often appear to view and consider with their lists is the meta game – how much attention do you put on the local meta-gaming?  Are your lists consistent or do you change from game to game?  I have heard of gamers tailoring their lists to work against certain armies or lists, does this appeal to you?  How do you feel on the topic of tailored lists?

Ah, list building.

Usually I start with my general character choice. This is a necessity, so I like to get those points down straight away. Generals can vary, though it is usually a Paladin in my Bretonnian army or a Cchieftain in my Skaven army. I’ll give him his basic kit, but adding in magic items usually comes near the end.

After the general is out of the way, Core is always the next choice. This is the main crux of your army, and so I believe should be the first thing you look at. Every selection you make has to work with the core choices you are required to take. So it is best to get this foundation down so that you know where you are working from. From here the next selection can come from either the Special or Rare. It depends on what type of game I am playing, or what I want the army to be like.

The actual troops choices can vary from game to game. I prefer picking units I like, as opposed to what creates the hardest force. For instance, I absolutely love Globadiers and always include at least ten. The same for skirmishing bowmen in my Bretonnian army. In both instances, these choices are widely lampooned. But I don’t really care. I make selections I like playing with. This is the same reason that I have never run a Hell Pit Abomination. It just doesn’t interest me.

I don’t really pay much attention to designing the list to maximise the meta game. Though generally my armies tick most of the boxes anyway. This is probably because I just like fielding a wide selection of choices, and I like operating in all the phases. This isn’t a tactic to control the game, though. It is merely that I like to make sure I am doing something in every phase.

However, I do approach designing lists for tournaments differently than I do for friendly games. Tournament lists are usually very broad, with troop and equipment choices that are evenly spread across the spectrum. Where as friendly lists can be quite focussed. For instance, if I know I am fighting Ogre Kingdoms, then I am definitely going to be including a Doomwheel. It might be a friendly game, but it’s not a roll-over-and-die game! Especially playing against regular opponents it is ok to include some really nasty, horrible surprises that are specifically tailored to cause major hurt. Fair enough too, because they are doing the same thing to me. It is just part of the fun. No one wants to fight the same Chieftain with Sword of Might over and over again. Sometime you have to pull out a Warlord with Fellblade, just to make sure they are paying attention.


Tavern Talk: Etiquette

Time to see what’s happening down at the tavern.

Etiquette is not something you might think about with our hobby that much, but it does still exist.  It is the basic manners of gaming, what you expect from your opponent and what they expect from you.  Would you game with someone who turns up with no list or codex/army book but claims the know it all off by heart?  It also applies to the handling of miniatures, as well as the interaction between gamers and spectators.

Just what do you see as gaming etiquette?

As I see it, there is basically three types of game etiquette. They can loosely be classified as friend etiquette, stranger etiquette and tournament etiquette.

Friend etiquette is easy to define. It is the behaviour that is accepted by your circle of friends, and usually consists of a fairly relaxed attitude towards each other and the game. In the case of my group of friends, there is no problem handling each others miniatures, slanderous trash talk, fudging of rules, and generally treating the game in a light-hearted manner. To speed up the game we usually come with an army list prepared, but sometimes one is quickly written up on the day. Where someone is trying out  a troop choice they don’t currently own, substitute models can be used. The etiquette we have adopted facilitates a fun and entertaining game, with the aim of allowing us to experiment as freely as possible.

Stranger etiquette isn’t the opposite of friend etiquette. Rather it is a slightly more subdued version of behaviours and rules. This is usually what you adopt when playing against a new opponent, like a friend’s friend, someone in a local store or gaming club. Stranger etiquette is different for all people, but usually it consists of behaviour that will result in a good game, and the possibility of more in future. For myself, this entails having an army list prepared. If the game is spur of the moment, then putting together a nicely balanced list quickly is preferable. Spending hours on a list, or building something hard-as-nails, isn’t the goal. I also find it best to check the sledging as much as possible, and aiming for quick solutions to rules queries. Basically, the old adage ‘a quick games a good game’ is the central theme to my stranger etiquette. Of note, it is polite to ask permission before handling someone elses miniature. Usually they are more than happy for you to have a look, and discuss it. But asking first is always a good idea (you never know when a models arm is blu-tacked on!).

Tournament etiquette is, as you have probably guessed, your behaviour and rules for tournament play. These are interesting situations, as you are in an environment that is simultaneously requiring friendly yet competitive play. Generally tournament etiquette seems unanimous, though whether everyone can abide by it is a different matter. Always have an army list written out as clearly as possible. Bring all your necessary tools, dice, rules, templates. Keep your gear and miniatures together as much as possible, and have a way to quickly transport your army from one table to another. Working through rules disputes ourselves is encouraged, but don’t be afraid to call over a judge and have a ruling made. And if it is made against your position, suck it up and move on. In a tournament everyone understand that, to some degree, you don’t have to become best friends. You just have to play the best game you can to the rules without being a jerk. Oh, and hands off the miniatures. Unless you are given express permission to handle them.

So that is etiquette as I see it. The nature of how we play the game, and who we play it against, determines the types of behaviours we are willing to accept. Obviously there are some places these categories mix, like playing against a friend at a tournament. I suppose the main aim in any scenario is to facilitate the best game possible. Whether that means quietly accepting a wrong ruling, or questioning the lineage of someones heritage with a collection of expletives, so be it.

Tavern Talk – Rituals

Right after Happy Hour is Tavern Talk!

As we all know gamers are creatures of habit.  This extends into the realms of our gaming, whether it be how we treat our dice to how we prepare for a game.  Some place their dice with the ‘six’ up to “inspire” good luck, while others will not roll the same dice twice in a row.  Some gamers have mascots for their armies – either a specific model or even a cuddly toy.  So the question posed is; what are your gaming rituals?

Are we talking rituals as a generic term for things we do, or as rites we perform to bring on the superstitious or supernatural? I’m treating this as the former, as I don’t believe there is any way to influence luck. Purposefully altering luck has a particular name. That name is cheating. Otherwise luck is just luck, and you have no control over it.

For your average garage game, I suppose the only ritual I have is to prepare a drink before hand. Crazy, I know. Oh, and bathe in goat’s blood. But everyone does that, don’t they?

Though I do think I have something that could equate to a ritual when I attend tournaments.

Whenever I attend a tournament, I always bring my satchel bag and pack it in a particular sequence. Rulebook, Army Book, paper pad, relevant tournament printouts, templates, measuring tape, dice bag, bottle of water, pens, phone, wallet. The sequence is the same every time, though not to encourage good luck or nonsense like that. I do it the same way every time so I don’t forget anything. It is a checklist that has been mentally developed over the years.

The order isn’t just random, either. It is the sequence in which everything packs into the bag. Heavier stuff first, followed by flat items, then the irregular shaped things. Basically it is a game of Tetris, minus the midi music and unpredictable piece order. It is not (I repeat, NOT) like Dr Mario. I hated that game.

I have seen other people who had rituals. Organising dice in certain ways, things they put onto the table, things they had to wear. Not to make a blanket assumption, but any of these players with elaborate or over the top rituals normally have something in common. They all seem to be either poor losers, or poor winners (or in some cases, both). The kind who get frustrated when things don’t go their way, or the dice don’t roll in their favour. Or if they are winning, gloat about things that they obviously fluked.

I’m just saying, in my experience, the more elaborate the ritual, the worse the person is the play against. So for the sake of everyone, just watch that your rituals don’t get out of hand and become the focus of the game for you. Because if they do, I’ll be forced to kick your arse.

And I have some lucky underpants that will help me do just that.

Tavern Talk – One Army or More?

That time is upon us, where we sit at the bar of The Trading Post and swap war stories as we guzzle pints of foamy beer.

As I am sure we all know, when one picks up the game of Warhammer it is followed shortly by a choice of army.  This is usually a single army which is then built to make a decent list which will be used a lot.  And then to be followed by an expansion to include a few more options for future games.  However, who stays with a single army?  Once you have played one for a while, does it become boring until you branch out to another?  Or, do you stick to a single army?  There are merits to having one major army and to having a number of smaller ones.  What do have and why?


Lets start at the end and work backwards. My current collection is made up of both Skaven and Bretonnian armies, both able to field at least 2500 points. So immediately this puts me into the ‘or More’ camp.

At present I have been playing Warhamme for at least fifteen years. I started off with Skaven, primarily because their miniatures and background spoke to me the most. To date, the bulk of my time has been spent with the Skaven army, though my Warhammer involvment has waxed and waned over the years. I took up the Bretonnians post an ‘off period’ in the hobby, shortly after finishing studying Graphic Design. Why did I come back into the hobby starting ‘from scratch’ with a new army, and not pick up where I left off with my Skaven?

For me, I think it was that I was coming back in with fresh eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the Skaven, but breaking out the old army it immediately struck me how dated it was. All the troop choices available, all the painting, was done by an early teenage me with only rough starting skills. If I was going to bring the ratmen back to the table they had to conform to my new expectations, and this meant rediscovering my skills and what I was capable of. The Bretonnians seemed like the perfect experiment for this.

There were a number of reasons the Bretonnians were chosen. The first being, they are almost the polar opposites to the Skaven. While the Skaven are hordes of swarming infantry, the Bretonnians are small groups of elite mounted knights. The Skaven employ magic and machinery with abandon, while the Bretonnians rely on their faith and mettle.

Second, I could quickly build up a Bretonnian force. This was important, as I wanted to get onto the battlefield as soon as possible. This was as much about rediscovering the game aspect as much as the modelling aspect.

Third, I could see that the Bretonnians offered a lot of easy conversion work. I knew in the back of my mind I would not be content using the standard miniatures, and would end up converting almost every model in any army I made. The Bretonnians seemed to offer a lot of conversion possibilities, enough that would allow me to undertake some of the more eccentric ideas I had for the Skaven.

After I had built up my Bretonnians to a point that seemed like a fair sized army I moved on to working on my Skaven.

And that cover the ‘What do (you) have and why?’.

Lets look at the rest of this query posed.

Indeed, who does stay with a single army? My brother, for one. He has been playing Warhammer for the same amount of time as me, and has faithfully led a Warriors of Chaos army the entire time. And when I say Warriors of Chaos, I mean, Chaos back from when it was all just one thing all the way up to the latest book. Though without fail it has always been almost exclusively Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights. The man knows what he likes. And he like burly guys in armour.

Where as me, I didn’t mind taking up a new army. Before this I never had a problem giving other armies a go either. Borrowing a friends Undead or Orcs & Goblins was always an option. I even enjoyed putting together a number of enemy selections for Warhammer Quest. This was especially fun, as I got to model and paint all kinds of races without having to go as far as building up a whole army.

For the both of us, though, I don’t think our primary army ever got boring. Obviously he hasn’t gotten bored with is, as he is still bringing it destruction style. But even my dalliances with other armies haven’t been out of boredom with the Skaven, but as a means to experiment, build skills and understand the game.

Normally with these kind of opinion pieces I try to bring everything to point, or at least make some vague conclusion. However, I don’t think I can do that here. Obviously everyone is different, and they get something different from the hobby. Whether this means you must have one or one-hundred armies to achieve it, so be it. The main thing is that the armies you have give you enjoyment both on and off the battlefield.

Unless you play 40k. Those guys can stick it.

Tavern Talk – How Has Your Army Changed

Time for another Tavern Talk!

Tavern Talk – 8th Edition; how has it changed your army?

As we all know, 8th ed has been out for a short while now and everyone has had time to check their armies and see just what this new version of Warhammer has done to them. So, I am asking you; what has it done to your army(ies)?  Has the new edition made you reconsider units that were pointless during 7th ed?  Have you had to relegate units that were your “star players” previously?  Do you make use of more or less magic now?  Have you found, like many, that changes to rules – such as the parry save and great weapons – has made you use these (and other weapons) more or less?

What has 8th ed done to your army composition?

This question is easy to answer. Not much.

Sure, some units that under 7th I wasn’t considering have now found their way in, but as a whole the armies remain largely unchanged. Sure, most of the units sizes have vastly grown, but no units have been dropped in favour of others. Let us look at my two primary armies of choice.


Of course here we are looking at much bigger units than previously used. Usually a minimum of 30 for any Clanrat, Slave, Plague Monk or Stormvermin unit. That is minimum. Units like Slaves are fielded at around 45 strong on average. Something interesting to note, my Slave units have been broken in combat and fled more often in 8th edition than they did in 7th. That is even with Steadfast, and on occasion, the Horde rule.

I am still a little up in the air about Plague Monks. Frenzy is a bit more controllable now, thought the possible 12 inch charge range is annoying. Their saving grace is the Plague Furnace they can lug around with them, though it is rare I pony up for this expensive machine of death. Mainly the problem I think I have had with them is that I am fielding them in units that are too small. I’m in half a mind to boost them up to 50 or so models, put them 10 wide, and get a mass of attacks. But even this throws up another set of problems.

Stormvermin are ace. Then again, I have always thought that. But now, with the ability to hit back en masse they are really starting to show why they are the best of the best. They aren’t quite as durable as Clanrats, but the don’t really need to be when they are hitting back so hard now. You just need to make sure that you can get as many fighting as possible.

It is a shame, but Globadiers seem to have really taken a hit. The new terrain rules, plus the rule for Skirmishers are the main culprits. Fo some reason they just don’t seem as effective any more. But I am persisting with them. I just love them too much. Eventually I’ll discover their niche, and get them back into their rightly feared position.

Before 7th the Warlord on Bonebreaker, or on War-Litter just didn’t seem all that useful. But now both look to be attractive choices. So far I have taken the War-Litter for a spin, and it has more than payed for itself. Where as before it just made your Warlord a target, now it adds those much-needed attacks to your front rank. I imaging the Bonebreaker does something similar, only more so.

As for the Warplightning Cannon. When the latest Army Book came out this thing looked like a joke. At least, compared to the previous incarnation. But with it now behaving according to 8th edition cannon rules, it is a terrifyingly reliable piece of equipment. Sure, there still a one in six chance it will explode, but the damage it can do far outweighs this small problem.

Magic is a tough one. I probably have about the same amount of magic, but I never had a lot to last time either. To be honest, I’m a little hesitant about offering any kind of opinion or synopsis, as the Magic Phase is something I am still trying to get my head around. Not how it works, but just how to fit it into my play style.

So overall the Skaven haven’t changed much. You will still find Clanrats, Stormvermin, Weaponteams, Globadiers, Jezzails, Warplightning Cannons and Doomwheels to be the main focus. Some areas are going to need to be expanded on, or refocused, but that is nothing new. I suppose I’m more interested in taking the units I like to use and figuring out how to use them effectively in 8th edition, than ditching them in favour of something ‘better’ or ‘reliable’.


I haven’t had the chance to use these guys under 8th yet, so this is all theoretical.

First off, Knights Errant and Knight of the Realm look like they are equally as good as they used to be. They are at a little bit of a disadvantage, being the main two troop types, but also not really suited to formations that grant Steadfast or Horde. So most likely they are going to run into trouble against units that have gained these bonuses.

Skirmishing Archers were one of my favourites, but I can see them having the same problems as the Globadiers. From what I can see, their main benefit will be the ability to run out to buildings, garrison them, and then have a fairly impressive shooting range to draw on. Having them firing into the enemy from such a distance will hopefully divert some important troops to deal with a tiny, throw away 10 man unit.

While I love Questing Knights, I can see them running into the same problems they always have. Slightly less armour, and far too slow in combat. I’ll still use them, but it’s a shame they haven’t got anything extra to offer.

Of course, Men-at-arms will now be the Brettonians saving grace. Basically the only unit in the army that it is feasible to field multiple large units of. Where as before Men-at-arms were scoffed at, I can see them now becoming the backbone of the Bretonnian army. I think we will even see a few more Paladins on foot accompanying them now.

Bretonnians have always been bad in the magic phase, and this edition seems to be no different. Most of the magic items associated with spellcasting don’t look like they have survived the transfer very well.  This is of course compounded with the fact that they didn’t survive the transfer from 6th to 7th in the first place. Taking a Damsel is going to be mandatory, having at least one spellcaster seems to be, but she isn’t going to be that effective. If anything, her job will be to help stop the enemy getting any spells off, rather than contributing anything in the Bretonnians own magic phase.

The changes to movement and charging are the biggest cross the Bretonnians have to bear. Previously their strengths were their charge range, and power on the charge. However, with the dice generated charge distance, coupled with Iniative order striking, I can see the knights running into a lot of problems. Even when they do strike first, and strike hard, the new combat rules means that they are getting hit back with a mass of attacks. If you are looking at a lance of knights, maybe 9 or 12 guys, this is going to tear them apart. Even though they still have a great armour save and a ward save, the sheer mass of attacks is going mean that something gets through.

Basically, where the main units Bretonnians relied on before were Knights Errant and Knight of the Realm with Men-at-arms as support, this is going to shift to the Men-at-arms becoming the main crutch of the army, with the knights fulfilling supporting roles. As an army mechanic, this seems fine. But as an army that is supposed to reflect the Bretonnians of the Warhammer World, this just doesn’t seem right.


Overall, I can’t see very many changes to the composition of the armies I usually field. I might need to fiddle around with how I used to use units, and see how best they fit now, but as a whole everything has remained relatively unchanged.