Spent some time painting the manor this weekend. Put on the base layers of dark brown and dark grey. I also created a highlight for both these colours, adding white to the base dark paints. On the palette, and when applied to the building, it looked great. But coming back a couple of hours later when it had dried the effect just wasn’t there. The tonal difference between the shades had all but disappeared.
No problem, though. I will just have to make a slightly stronger mix next time. If anything, it will just mean the building has a lot of very subtle shading and highlighting. Just not intentional subtly.
I also finished stripping the rest of the metal miniatures. Once dry I put them into basic piles. Going clockwise from the centre left we have a bunch of Wood Elf miniatures, a Dwarf Engineer, Vampire Counts pieces (mainly giant bats), the enemy character models from the Warhammer Quest expansion Lair of the Orc Lord, a couple of 40k guys, bases, random bits, and in the centre ancient Chaos Warrior parts.
They have all been dumped into plastic zip-lock bags, and are awaiting inspiration to hit.
Let me be the first (as far as I know, anyway) to officially welcome The Invocation to the fan made Warhammer webzine club. Yes, I realise this is their second issue, but I don’t consider something a proper webzine until it reaches issue two. Putting together one issue is piss easy, but following through and doing another displays your dedication. And to that, I tip my rusted, dirt encrusted helmet.
So, how is issue two looking, especially when looking back at issue one?
On the article side of things it is looking really good. There is a nice mix of articles types. Painting, tactics and stories all are featured. I particularly like the army showcase ‘Unholy Masterpieces’. The Carnivale de los Muerto is worth the hefty download price alone. The fact that the Vampire Counts players are championing such a different, but appropriately themed, army is good to see. Those armies that have had such time and effort put into them should be celebrated.
Besides this article, and the painting one, the articles were of no great interest to me. This is largely because I am not familiar with the Vampire Counts army book, and so know next to nothing on what they are talking about. From what I did read, though, the articles seem to be well written and edited. Poorly written and edited content is the bane of any publication, and a tough problem for webzines that rely on volunteer work to overcome. It seems The Invocation has a skilled team behind it, and I hope they can keep it up.
I would like to see some more articles that push the background of the Vampire Counts though. While tactics articles and battle reports are fine, the webzine format offers the opportunity to really flesh out the Warhammer mythos. Army books gloss over the details, and even supplement material like WFRP books only drill down so far. These webzines offer a terrific chance to sit down and just look at one aspect of the background that would otherwise go unconsidered. Not only does this create a greater sense of involvement in the material, but it also inspires other Warhammer players by giving them new details to work into their armies and fiction.
The design has certainly improved, but it is still a far cry from Skavenblight Gazette, or even Word of Hashut. To be honest, I prefered issue ones font size to issue twos. I realise that the physically displayed size of the text will differ depending on the readers screen size and magnification preferences, but the overall ratio of page dimension to point size of the text is off. It looks like they have used Times New Roman, or something based on it, as their main body font. Times New Roman can suffer, in the digital realm at least, from looking a bit too bulky and squashed up. It was designed with low quality papers and inks in mind, after all. Considerations a digitally displayed format does not have.
Their article titles need a little beefing up, too. At the moment, as far as I can tell, there is a section header as well as an article title. Section headers are the recurring topic articles appear under. Painting, would be a simplified example. Article titles are the titles of the written piece. Normally the article title is larger than the section header, because the section header is a constant visual que over multiple issues, and so does not need to have attention drawn to it.At the moment, though, The Invocations titles do not make sense. I can’t tell if the larger headers are section headers or article titles. The problem again happens to the next title, which is under the first and smaller.
Up until page 17 the text format seems sensible enough, bar the too-small type. After this the format switches between two column and single column designs. The two column works fine, but the single column looks just a bit too messy. This is compounded by the use of images centred to the paragraphs with large amounts of space equally on each side.Visually it just loses a lot of the coherence the two column formats creates.
I’m also not a fan of the overuse of the parchment background. Changing the background design of an article is a good visual indicator to the readers. Not only can you use it to quickly show them that they are reading a new article, but you can use it to tell them what the article is about, it’s context, and even how they should feel about it. The use of colour and simple iconography should never be overlooked.
This is something I am always on about, so I’ll only briefly cover it, but I think A4 landscape is still the way to go. In this case I am even more confounded by the retention of A4 portrait, but some pages are full page A4 landscape illustrations. My mind boggles as to how the decision to do this came about. I’m also a bit put off by the massive 45mb file size. 120 pages is a lot, but asking people to download 45mb seems a bit presumptuous. Not to mention, if The Invocation ever get its own website to host its issues on, 45mb issues are really going to hit the server hard.
Oh, that reminds me too. Get your own website, The Invocation. And track your website traffic. It will be worth it, especially when you start trying to extract stuff from Games Workshop and their affiliates. Not only will you be able to say you are the webs most popular Vampire Counts webzine, you will be able to back it up with hard numbers.
Alright, to sum it all up, and save you smart people who skipped all the way to the end for the wrap up spiel. The Invocation issue two is a worthwhile read. The articles are good, especially if you are a Vampire Counts player. While the design and layout side of things has a way to go, it is still easily navigated and understood. 45mb might seem like a hefty price to pay to read it, but ultimately it is worth it.
As you would know, magazines of any sort are kind of my thing. This sits doubly so for ezines. I still haven’t written my ezine manifesto. But this is all besides the point.
The Invocation isn’t a bad ezine. It certainly hugs the archetypes and imagery of the Vampire Counts close. Most pages have a aged parchment type background, while the font is serif and slightly gothic in feel. There aren’t many pictures, which is a shame, but this is a brand new production. Most probably they still have to build up some kind of library to pull from. Beware though, The Invocation. By issue three, if you haven’t addressed the artwork issue, you hazard my ire!
Visual themes should probably be mixed up a bit. The repeating parchment and blocks of black text can get a bit overwhelming. It is in A4 portrait, as you would know, a format I think ezines do not work well in. Using the A4 base is a good idea, as it accommodates the reader if they wish to print something out. But this is a digital medium, and screens are universally wider than they are taller, and I still firmly believe that A4 landscape is the way to go. You get nice columns of blocked text that you don’t have to scroll through, and plenty of room to include a variety of images.
Content is varied and well written. As someone who scrapes for ezine content himself, I can understand the pitfalls of content generation. As a first issue this certainly promises a lot for the future. Lets just hope they can keep it up!
In what is a slightly puzzling move, there are adverts slipped in throughout the publication. Part of my hates this, but then part of my loves this. I think the ads would work, if not for a couple of minor things. First, don’t put the ads on the same page as content. You are just destroying the mood you are trying to create. Second, come up with a standard ad size. For this I would say full page or half page. It’s not like page count is an issue! And make the advertiser provide the ad to size at a decent quality, or else they can provide the elements and The Invocation puts the ad together. As it is, the ads vary in quality, size, and their placement is terrible.
I also find it odd that there is no back page. It really needs some kind of finale, some kind of indication that you have in fact reached the end. And not that the file didn’t just cut out partway through downloading. Pages numbers and footers are also needed. Overall branding like this helps to establish your brand. And while that sounds like marketing bullshit, it is. But it works. There’s a reason popular stuff is popular.
Lastly, guys, get your own website. If there is one thing that really bites, it is having to debase yourself by hopping onto one of those mass file sharing sites and downloading the issue from some nonsensical url that is made from an army of numbers and letters. If you are game to do an ezine, bite the bullet and get somewhere for it to live. Even if it costs you.
So I’m looking forward to seeing what The Invocation manages to do in the future. If there is one thing I want more than having Skavenblight Gazette at the top, it is having someone succeed us. The Skavenblight Gazette needs an enemy it can take down. Do the dead-things dare?
At the moment I seem to have a cold. Seem to, because I haven’t actually been to the doctor. Hey, it’s not like I’m missing out on work! So I have’t really felt that enthuesd to paint or model, though I have still briefly peruesed the Warhammer related forums.
I came across this army which I quite liked. It’s a Vampire Counts army, themed around some kind of celebration. The undead are mixed in with costumed revellers, stilt walkers, clowns, and a bunch of other festival related characters.
This kind of army interests me because it fits comfortably into the Warhammer setting while being highly creative and original. I really can imagine a Vampire or Necromancer using a slightly macarbe festival to secretly attack a town. Who would be alarmed by a zombie when everyone is dressed up as one? The Undead silently slip into the crowd and go about their business. Which is killing the living and bringing them back as shambling horrors!
If you know of any other interesting themed armies, let me know.
Back from the tournament. And man, what a weekend. A weekend that I need another weekend to just recover.
So the main details.
I came 4th overall, just getting pipped at the post by Bega and his Lizardmen for 3rd place. Still, it is a ‘top tier’ ranking, and I did have a lot of fun. Which is the main thing.
The tournament was using a modified magic system, where you could add power dice to a spell after casting it. It was an interesting idea, but I only ended up attempting to use it once the entire tournament. And it didn’t work. The spell was still dispelled. But I do like the idea of including small rules changes to make a tournament more interesting, rather than just playing a bunch of the same old games over and over again. All props go to Ash for running it!
My first game was against Meg and her Vampire Counts. I am pretty sure this was her first tournament. She did pretty well, placing 5th, so definitely is one to watch out for.
The army consisted of 1 Vampire, 2 Necromancers, 2 packs of five Dire Wolves, 2 units of three Spirit Hosts, 2 units of fourty Zombies, 2 units of five Blood Knights, 3 Fell Bats and 20 Skeletons. The Vampire was getting about in one of the units of Blood Knights.
Of all the army, the Spirit Host was the thing that worried me the most, as they could only be hit by magic weapons. Only one of my characters carried a magic weapon, and my Grail Knights count as having magical weapons, so I was a little worried about how to deal with them. Combat resolution may have destroyed the Spirit Host in a couple of turns against a mundane foe, but only if the Spirit Host didn’t luck out and kill enough enemies to either make the combat resolution loss negligible or win the round outright, causing the unit to flee.
However, it turned out I didn’t need to worry. The Spirit Hosts were placed quite far apart, and in relatively open areas, so they were easy for my faster knight units to get around.
My battle plan ran very smoothly. A unit of 10 Peasant Archers on the left flank kept the unit of 20 Skeletons busy the entire game, meaning the Vampire Counts were down one important unit. The bulk of my army hung back to beginning with, to see where the Vampire Counts were headed. Since the Vampire Counts are a slower army who depend on outlasting enemies in combat, they had to move towards me from the first turn. My higher movement meant I could hang back a little and wait and see what eventuated.
The main problem Meg had was that she gave me a clear and accelerated run straight at her Vampire count. In her first turn she raised a unit of 5 Zombies to screen her first unit of Blood Knights. They were raised, though, in the charge range of the Knight Errant, who made very short work of the feeble undead. If she had of raised the Zombies in the same spot, but placed them at an angle to the Blood Knights rather than parallel, the Knight Errant would have over run away from the Blood Knights and towards the Spirit Host. As it was, the Knight Errant over ran into the Blood Knights, gaining the first round of combat in the Vampire Counts second turn and wiping them out. After this, they over ran into the second Blood Knight unit, the one with the Vampire, and destroyed that unit as well. After this, the undead horde fell apart in a matter of turns.
This is the only thing I could fault Meg on. Her use of her Spirit Host could have been better, and she could have protected her Necromancers with a unit of wolves or something (as Pegasus Knight hunted both casters down), but overall she has a good understanding of her army and what it can do. I think she just needs some more practise in predicting the implications of the placement and effectiveness of units. But that can be learnt in time.
My second battle was against Bega and his Lizardmen, who whipped me so bad that even photos of the battle came out smeared with blood. Actually, I forgot to take any pictures, but I’ll see if I can track one down.
His army was pretty solid, Old Blood on Carnosaur, Skink Priest on Engine of the Gods, 9 Saurus’ on Cold Ones, 2 lots of fifteen or so Skinks, 3 Salamanders, around 20 Sauras Warriors, 3 Jungle Swarms and 3 Terradons. I haven’t even read the new Lizardman book, let alone played against it, so I was slightly worried.
Overall, my army performed pretty much as I had hoped it would. I was Massacred, but it performed as I expected!
The core troops of the army I pretty much tore through. Knights Errant chewed up the Cold One cavalry, Skinks and Saurus warriors were no match for charges that yielded heavy loses and lost combats. Where I fell apart was against the Carnosaur and the Engine of the Gods. In a matter of two turns the Engine had reduced my Questing Knights to a fine dust, though they did manage to wound the Skink Priest. Meanwhile the Carnosaur made three or four units run in Terror. While I had managed to destroy the bulk of Bega’s blocked infantry, the Engine and the Carnosaur were just too great of opponents and managed to squish all my expensive troops. My only real consolation was that the Salamanders ate all their handlers bar one.
Third battle was against Corey and his greenskins.I found this army slightly odd, as it only contained 6 units. My army had that many on one side of the battlefield! He was running Grimgor, 1 Goblin Shaman, 2 Orc Hero’s, 20 Black Orcs, 20 Big Uns, 20 Boyz and 10 Boar Boyz.
I feel slightly bad for Corey, I steamrolled him pretty harshly. As you can see, I weighted my left flank pretty badly when I realised he had only 6 units, and Goblins were the only thing on his right flank. The first turn my left flank swung around, while the centre and right held fast. I think he used Waaaagh! prematurely, as the extra movement forward didn’t bring him into charge range of anything.
All it did was bring the Goblins in close enough for the Yeomen to gallop out in front of them and release their Fanatics onto a completely throw away unit. The Fanatics kept the main section of the Orc and Goblin battle line from moving forward, which gave my left flank time to come around and charge the Goblins with three Lance formations of varying knights at one time.
The Goblins pretty much disintegrated, bringing all three lances into contact with the unit of Black Orcs. Grimgor was in this unit, but I hadn’t realised that Grimgor was actually in the army! I issued a challenge with my Lord, only to have Grimgor answer. He always strikes first, and it a pretty heavy hitter, but only managed to bring my Lord down to 1 wound. In return my Lord took 1 wound from Grimgor. The knights mad a mess of the Black Orcs, but they didn’t flee. The next round of combat saw Grimgor finish off my Lord, but the knights continued to cut swathes through the Black Orcs, causing them to flee and be destroyed.
In the meantime the Boar Boyz had charged the Battle Pilgrims, who beat the mounted orcs in combat and subsequently they fled off of the board. The Battle Pilgrims continued to stand fast, 300 Spartans style, in their little rocky canyon.
I think Corey had a solid list, he just didn’t react to the changing events of the game very quickly. He could see the left flank of three lances coming around, but not one of his units was employed to stop them. Letting me get off the flank charges pretty much guaranteed my success in combat. Personally I would not have placed the Goblins on the end of the right flank by themselves. It might have been beneficial to deploy the Boyz with them. As it was, the Battle Pilgrims tied up the Boar Boyz and the Boyz simply by standing in some terrain and looking imposing. The Boar Boyz could easily have been used elsewhere, like against the Mounted Yeomen or the Grail Knights.
Again, with some practise of predictive tactics Corey could come to be quite good a general.
My fourth battle was against Stanley and his Dwarfs. Dwarfs! Raargh! I’ve always had trouble against Dwarfs with my Bretonnians. Their freakishly high leadership means they just hardly ever run away.
While being hard as a goddamn rock, Stanley’s army was interesting in that it contained no ranked shooting units. His army consisted of a Dwarf Lord, Battle Standard Bearer, 2 Slayers of some description, 1 unit of (I want to say) Ironbreakers(?), 2 units of Longbeards, 2 units of Warriors, a unit of Giant Slayers, 2 Flame Cannons and a Cannon.
My overall plan was to avoid his this unit of Ironbreakers with the Lord and BSB in it, as well as his Giant Slayers containing the two Slayer characters. Some dastardly (and illegal) unit reforming on Stanley’s part meant that I ended up smacking right into the Slayers with my generals unit. This, coupled with a disastrous combat from my Questing Knights, the early annihilation of my Pegasus Knights and my Knights Errant’s inability to either kill three cannon crewmen or make them run meant that any plan I devised fell flat. Small mercies like askew dice and pedantic clipping behaviour were little help in my totally annihilation.
So it has to be said, Stanley had a killer list. I can’t fault him for that. I have a sneaky suspicion he wasn’t playing the army quite to the letter of the rules, but I don’t know the dwarfs well enough to call him on it. Not that I should have too. But there was some stuff that I realised later I should have called, like the unit reform, but this is just stuff you take in and learn from.
Stanley would be a really, really good general if he dialed it down three notches. I hadn’t even managed to get a unit deployed onto the board before he started throwing the trash talk. Actually, now I think about it, he was trash talking me while I was setting up the scenery. The scenery! I don’t mind a bit of rhetoric during play, but dude, I just woke up and carried suitcases all around a fucking hotel. At least let me deploy terrain in a civil manner!
After my rib cracking beating at the hands of Stanley I was fully shifted into rules lawyering mode. I wasn’t going into this battle, by fifth and last one, half cocked.
I was up against Scott B with an Empire army. Elector Count, Master Engineer in Steamtank, 2 wizards, Helblaster, 3 units of ten knights, 10 Crossbowmen and 10 Hunters.
Not having faced a Steam Tank before I enquired as to it’s general playing rules. After Scott had come back from a smoke, he ran me through the rules, which seemed to make sense enough. It generates steam points that it then uses to move and attack. Ok, simple enough.
I deployed in a slight variation to how I did against Corey, waiting the left and middle while leaving the right in the hand of the Battle Pilgrims and skirmishing Bowmen. The battle basically ran in three ‘zones’. On the left my Knight Errant and Questing Knights faced off against 10 Knights and the Elector Count. They fought it out the whole battle to a standstill between the Empire Knights who were flank charged by the Knight Errant, but refused to break. Combat drew on and on for a couple of turns, but largely all that was traded was angry glares and phone numbers.
The centre faked out the Steam Tank, getting the macine into combat with a unit of 6 Knights of the Realm and thus freeing up the General and BSB with the other 7 Knights of the Realm, and the Grail Knights, to attack the second unit of Empire Knights. A couple of turns of wheeling and feinting around a hill resulted in the Empire Knights charging the Knights of the Realm, but subsequently being charged in the flank by the Grail Knights. This flank charge cleaned up 6 Empire Knights, and pushed the unit into fleeing and destruction.
In the meantime the skirmishing Bowmen lured the third unit of Empire Knights into charging them, thereby exposing their flank to the Battle Pilgrims. I made sure Scott was desperate to get his knights into combat by holding them up with Beast Cowers for a coupe of turns. Their flank charge left them ready for a subsequent charge from my Generals unit, which was coming in from destroying the second Empire Knights unit.
His wizards largely did nothing, spending most of their time either out of line of sight, or running for their lives from Pegasus Knights.
Scott is not a bad player. He needs to read his rules a little bit thoroughly, as the Steam Tank wasn’t exactly operating to the letter of the law, but he has a good grasp on what is happening in general game terms. The major problem I faced, though, was the ponderous way in which he played the game. I did contribute to the length of the game by insisting we adhere to the correct rules, but while everyone had finished their battles we were still on turn three! I ended up speeding this along by basically agreeing to Scotts false applications of a vast slew of rules. By this stage I knew I had him, so I was just trying to get the game to come to some kind of a conclusion.
Much like Corey, Scott fell into the trap of exposing his flanks to charges from my knights. He was either under estimating the staying power of my knights when charged, or over estimating his knights. Either way, his units were held in combats they couldn’t win long enough for my units to lend assistance. At one point he had my Knights Errant on the ropes, after destroying the remainder of my Questing Knights in the same combat. But he subsequently charged his Huntsmen into the combat. It seems like a good idea, lending more troops to a battle, but the Huntsmen were absolutely no match for a knight. Rather than helping him win the combat, their inability to kill any of my troops only hindered him as my knights killed half a dozen of them, thus bolstering my combat resolution and giving me the combat. This meant that his unit couldn’t reform, and he was left with only two knight able to battle my three. His 4 attacks against my 7. Again, a little more practise, and learning to predict how combats will eventuate, will help him become a better player.
So overall it was a good tournament. I got to fight the new Lizarmen, as well as face quite a few armies I haven’t in quite a while. I learnt that I am going to have to look into some harder hitters in my army, especially for against things like Steam Tanks, Stegadons and Carnosaurs. The Steam Tank I understand that I have to just get it down a few wounds to make the likely hood of Steam Points generation causing damage, but I just have to figure out how to get through it’s Toughness of 6. I guess getting a charge off on it would help, but what about subsequent combats?
And Dwarfs… the Lady flood the Holds they came from!