New Story – “Fifth”

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Happy Easter all! What better way to celebrate the strange Christian-Pagan celebration of resurrection and diabetes than with a story about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Fifth cover FINAL

As I said, “Fifth” is about the Horsemen; you know, Death, Famine, War… and more specifically the White Horseman, Conquest. “Conquest?” you may say. “I thought the fourth Horseman was Pestilence!” (or “Strife” or “Fury” if you played Darksiders). Well, Conquest was the original White Horseman, before s/he got phased out about a century ago in pop culture for Pestilence. So guess what this story’s about?

You can purchase “Fifth” for your Kindle on this link! Or this one if you’re across the pond.

- Gareth

Limited Use – Journey Into Nyx

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The Theros block draws to a close with Journey Into Nyx, and while I’m not able to attend a prerelease due to various time and money issues, that doesn’t mean I’m going to break my stride of babbling on about the commons and uncommons that have gotten my attention, in the same way I did for Theros and Born of the Gods.

Just as a first impression, Journey looks a hell of a lot better than Born, but then again that’s not saying much.

ajani

 

Oh strive, you’re like multikicker’s weird, equally-badly-named cousin. Most of the strive spells are fairly subpar but serve well enough as heroic enablers. Ajani-cats Ho! is probably one of the better strive spells, because I hear being indestuctible is pretty good. Even without striving, it’s a cheaper Mortal’s Resolve, which was a fine combat trick.

banish

Well Oblivion Ring, it was a fun seven years (well, that makes me feel old), but WotC got tired of your shenanigans involving flickering, permanent exile, and endless triple-Ring loops. I for one like the changes, much as I liked Banisher Priest from M14. This is obviously going to stay around and be reprinted a million billion times in Core Sets, Commander pre-cons, Duel Decks, etc. And I’m okay with that. By the way I’m totes proposing B-Light as a nickname.

eidolon

A lot of people have been talking about “Rule of Law on legs” (or my preferred nickname, “Rhetoric Turtle”) and it’s easy to see why; this guy is awesome! Yes, yes, by being a creature he’s doubly vulnerable. He is, however, doubly useful in that he can block like a champ. Probably not quite as useful for Limited, but he’ll stop a barrage of cheap burn and heroic-enablers.

fleece

Ah, there’s our Argonauts reference. Another cheap creature with a big butt that kills aggro dead. 5 toughness is a struggle to break through, and on top of that you’ve got repeatable lifegain. Get two of these down along with Eidolon and the game is going to last a while. And you have my blessing to backhand-slap anyone at your prerelease who says something along the lines of “urrhurr this is going in my tribal sheep deck urrhurr I’m sooo random lol.” BECAUSE THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE LIKE THAT.

reprisal

HADOKEN! This is an excellent reprint, and very welcome in a set with monsters and buffed-up heroes. This is the original and best of white’s anti-fatty kill spells, and its appearance here now means that it’s in Modern! No longer will people have to make do with crap like Smite the Monstrous and Vanquish the Foul and Scold the Mischievous.

hour

I actually quite like this; three mana (plus an extra two for every other dude after the first) to turn one of your little guys into a big blue flying lion man? Yeah I’m down with that, especially at instant speed! It’s nice that this could also double as a weird kind of removal spell; Gods or enormous monsters giving you a problem? Well a 4/4 flyer is probably going to be less of a problem.

hubris

Okay, this is more of a personal choice that anything. As a bounce spell, it’s okaaay. It’s an expensive Unsummon when used on an opponent’s creatures, or it’s a “save me and all my cool Auras” spell when used on your own creature. It’s okaaaay. But who cares? It’s a spell called Hubris and oh my god that is the most fucking coolest awesome thing ever.

pull

CONSULT THE HELIX FOSSIL. Yeah, not much else to say other than this is bloody excellent. A shame about the exile clause; I’d love to see someone endlessly chaining two of these, netting an instant each time.

thassa

Flood used to be one of my favourite old-school blue enchantments, so I’m all on board for the new version. This seems really good, but I always tend to slightly overestimate tap/untap effects; then again if you’re doing nothing with four mana (omg why are you not doing anything with four mana wtf is wrong with you bro), go ahead. Nice synergy with inspired dudes.

triton

Evasion wins Limited. Evasion wins Limited. EVASION WINS LIMITED. Never ever underestimate how much of a pain an unblockable 1/1 can be, especially in a set full of buff spells. I just wish this guy had been around in Llorwyn days; my Rogue deck would’ve loved him. And that flavour text? Cold.

gorgon

If this was Urza’s block, this would probably be called Scorpion’s Embrace. I actually quite like this, as janky as it is. It turns one of your guys into a chunky blocker with deathtouch, what’s not to like? I’d try and put one on the Nyx-Fleece Ram a) for hilarity, and b) to prevent anyone from attacking me EVAH, because who on the ground is going to get past a 1/8 toxic sheep?

hoplite

Very cool design on this guy; buff him up while eating the counters of an opponent’s hero or monster. Really nice for any aggressive build, because let’s face it, at the absolute worst he’s a 2/1 for two, with no drawback, in black. Solid. I like him.

felhide

One last bone for Minotaur fans, and it is a juicy bone indeed. I’ve avoided being bitten by the bug, but it’s tough to resist the urge to build a janky casual Minotaur deck when there’s guys like this. To be honest I’d run him on the day even if I had no other Minotaurs, because he’s still a 2/3 deathtouch with no drawbacks for three.

feast

Black continues to make up for earlier crap like Sip of Hemlock and Lash of the Whip. Born gave us Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow, and now we have this beauty; sure it’s a lot more conditional, but there’s a lot of enchantment creatures, Auras, and bestow shenanigans running around. Maybe not main deck, but a strong sideboard card. Sigh… if only it had been similar to Eye Gouge; -1/-1 to a target creature, and destroy it if it’s enchanted/an enchantment. Ah well.

Also, technically, mono-black enchantment destruction. The end is nigh!

return

I probably like this more than I should; after all it’s slow, an opponent will see it coming from miles off, you still have to cast the creatures you got back again… but I still like it. It’s still recursion, and lets you play the attrition game. Getting back three dead guys is a massive swing, even if they’re just sacrificial weenies. Don’t make the mistake of holding on for the maximum three creatures; if you absolutely need a dead fatty back, like right now, just bite the bullet and pay for your expensive Disemtomb.

skink

While white and black have come back strong for Journey, red has suffered somewhat. Lacklustre creatures, overcosted burn and combat tricks… meh. I like this little dude at least. 2/1 for two is fine for red anyway, and the repeatable scry is nice. He’s okay, but not wonderful. I’d rely on your Theros and Born packs to get decent red commons and uncommons for your Limited deck. I find it depressing that this is the only red card to make the cut for this list, and even then… sheesh. Red, I am disappoint.

weaver

You could do worse for a 1-drop. Chump-blocks like a pro, and then can turn into a spider to do more of the same! Again, it’s a card I like more than I probably should. Decent enough for early defence in Limited (though nothing compared the Sheep), but it’s definitely going to find a home in my Pauper morbid deck.

melody

I really like Remember the Fallen from New Phyrexia, so I’m a bit in love with its green sister here. Depending on how many enchantment creatures you run, this may end up being a cheaper March of the Returned.

deceit

It’s so refreshing to see a blue-black card that isn’t about milling for once! A lot of people have been raving about “Disciple of Transmute”, and it’s not hard to see why. To be honest, she lends herself better to Constructed where you can build your deck to take greater advantage of her ability, but I can see that she’d still help you tutor up one or two helpful cards on the day. Wizards, if you’re reading this… more like this please! Enough with the milling! I normally don’t care for blue-black, but Phenax was such a disappointment…

cockatrice

Alara Reborn’s Winged Coatl, all grown up. I love flashy deathtouchers for the ultimate “gotcha!” to mess up combat, so a flying one is even better. He’s a tad on the pricey side, but I just love blue-green creatures so much I’m willing to let that slide. The monstrosity ability turns him into quite an intimidating clock; a 6/6 deathtouch flyer will be a pain to deal with.

chariot

Wow. That’s a whole lot of bang for your buck. The original casting cost is a bit clunky, but in no way terrible, but equip 1 for an array of awesome combat abilities? If you open it, play it! First strike and trample are always welcome on dudes heading into the red zone. I’m actually surprised at how good this looks on paper, given how generally overcosted and underpowered non-rare/mythic Equipment is.

So that’s Journey into Nyx. It looks a lot better than Born of the Gods, and it’s a decent enough high for Theros to end on. It’s been a very up-and-down block, and in a way it’s reminded me of Kamigawa; a war between gods and mortals, a lot of overcosted filler, boring mechanics (constellation is the new “spiritcraft”), and weird “why the hell would you introduce that as a type” creatures (I mean, really? Sables?). Ah well. I survived Kamigawa, and the payoff was Ravnica. Maybe the next block will be just as good. And there’s still the very intriguing Conspiracy to look forward to.

Anyway, I have rambled enough. Have fun at the Prerelease!

- Gareth

Shift, in Blue

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This weekend, all over the world, people frantically wrote short stories and filmed themselves reading them as part of Sci-Fi London’s 48 Hour Youtube Storyteller competition.

On Saturday afternoon I got the email with my title; “Shift”. I had to include the line “Sometimes you have to adapt to circumstances in order to survive. That is how we got here in the first place.”, and my theme had to be about a phone that controlled behaviour and/or appearance.

48 hours? Please. I did mine in 24 hours… a decision I may come to regret. Really not sure why I went for the blue filter… to make it look more sci-fi? Jesus.

 

I’ll find out at the start of next month if I won… until then I hope you enjoy my story!

- Gareth

Slice & Dice – Mechamorphosis

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I made another video the other day, this time I’m working through FFG’s old but excellent Horizons RPG setting books, starting with Mechamorphosis, aka Transformers the RPG.

 

Enjoy!

- Gareth

Warhammer Memories : Favourite Models

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When I was waxing nostalgic over the Dogs of War, I mentioned that Vespero from Vespero’s Vendetta was one of my favourite models that GW had ever made. It’s the funny thing really; I’ve become a grumpy old neckbeard who gripes and moans about GW and their new policies and how things are different and I don’t like things that are different, myeh myeh myeh, but damn it; those boys from Nottingham have made some damn fine models. I mean they’ve made stinkers as well…

SWEET CHRIST MY EYES.

SWEET CHRIST MY EYES.

… but on the whole their stuff has been very awesome and iconic. Let’s face it, the gorgeous models are pretty much the main reason people get into the hobby (because it’s certainly not for the rules).

So never let it be said that I never have a good word to say about GeeDubs. These are my ten favourite models from over the years, in no particular order…

10. Vespero ( Dogs of War, Warhammer Fantasy)

Vesperos duelists

Vespero looks like a wonderful blend of the Phantom of the Opera and Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. The actual pose doesn’t look too great, and he looks fairly dated nowadays, but I still like him; at the time, Vespero (like all the Dogs of War) was a breath of fresh air when compared to bland Landsknecht Empire guys, and the feudal-French Bretonnians. He had flair and style, and you just know that some people picked up the model to stand in for their kickass rogue or assassin in a D&D game.

9. Sternguard Veteran with power fist (Space Marines, Warhammer 40,000)

sterny

Y SO STERN?

To me, that Sternguard Veteran is the very epitome of Space Marines; cool power armour without being too over-the-top, an awesome pose, and a big chunky bolter and power fist. I would’ve loved to have had this model back in the early days of 3rd edition when I used to run Crimson Fists. I love this model because it reminds me of one of the very first Warhammer 40,000 models I ever saw…

Ultramarine_Captain_with_Terminator_Honours

Just goes to show; time marches on, but the classics never go out of style.

8. Warriors of Chaos Exalted Hero (Warriors of Chaos, Warhammer Fantasy)

m1181679_99060201127_ChaosChampionChaosMain_445x319

Despite his his chainmail mittens and comically-proportioned sword, I love this model. Nearly all the entries on this list are here for sentimental reasons, and Axey McAxington here is no different. The only WHFB army I ever properly ran was Chaos Warriors, with a sprinkle of Tzeentch. While my Sorcerers flew around on Disks and repeatedly got gunned down by High Elf Archers and Dwarf Thunderers, my dual-wielding, footslogging Chaos Champion never let me down. Rest well, old friend. You earned it.

7. Slaanesh Daemonettes (Chaos, Fantasy and 40k)

m1252304_99119915010_CHCDaemonettesmain_873x627

 

Ah, the third and best incarnation of the Dark Prince’s handmaidens. Before they got redesigned into their current crab-clawed crack-whore form, Daemonettes were without a shadow of a doubt the nicest Daemon models. They look evil and sexy and cool, which is, of course, what they’re all about. Also gone are the gawky old crab-claws of previous incarnations, replaced with graceful scythe-claws. Great models. Chaos players these days are poorer without them.

6. Eldar Warlock (Eldar, Warhammer 40,000)

Eldar_Warlock_4

Yes, that was the best picture I could find of him (her?). You know the awesome thing? That model has got to be at least 20 years old, because it was around when I first got into 40k. Just goes to show that Jes Goodwin is a goddamn genius (as will be shown further down). As for the model, it’s great; gotta love an Eldar battle-psyker winding up a full-on baseball-bat-swing with his magic crystal-bone sword.

5. Crusader (Witch Hunters, Warhammer 40,000)

Witch_Hunter_Crusader

 

This guy basically goes down the checklist for badassery and ticks all the boxes. Big sword? Check. Massive tower shield? Check. Awesome coat? Check. Cool medieval-techno armour? Check! If your Inquistor wasn’t strolling around with at least two of these guys in tow, you were doing it wrong.

4. Mandrakes (Dark Eldar, Warhammer 40,000)

mandrakes

This is sort of cheating, because I like all the Mandrake models. Look at them! They’re like weird creepy zombie-ghost-elf-samurai! It’s just a shame that their rules in-game are pretty bad, leading to the famous question, “So what do your Mandrakes count as?”. A whole lot better than their 3rd edition incarnation as BDSM rejects.

3. Covenant (Inquisitor)

covenant

 

I vividly remember being in my local store about a week before GW released their 54mm scale narrative-skirmish-RPG-thing that was Inquisitor, and one of the staff members showing chibi-me and chibi-Ian two of the new models; one was elderly badass telepath pimp Eisenhorn, the other was Covenant. Of the two, I liked Covenant more, which was why I proceeded to snap him up the second he was available. I love this model, and in my opinion, it’s the best of the otherwise lacklustre and limited Inquisitor range. Everyone used to harp on about Artemis the Deathwatch Marine, but Covenant was the 54 mm man for me.

2. Chief Librarian Ezekiel (Dark Angels, Warhammer 40,000)

m1240854_99060101326_DAEzekielmain_445x319

I’m going to make a confession. At one point in my 40k playing life, I owned five Ezekiel models. One was an Inquisitor, one was a Word Bearer Chaos Lord, another was a Librarian in my Space Marine army, and the other two… pfff. Shits and giggles? Ezekiel shares a lot of similarities with other models on this list; he’s got cool robes and a big fuck-off sword. Again, like the Eldar Warlock above, this model is nearly 20 goddamn years old, and still looks amazing. But not as amazing as…

1. Delaque Leader (Necromunda)

m1252029_99110599006_NecroDelaqueGangMain_873x627

This guy! Yep, the classic Delaque leader with a bolter is my absolute favorite model GW has ever made. It was tough narrowing it down, there are lots of Necromunda models that I love (mostly the Escher and Hired Guns), but this guy here with his leather duster, goggles, and massive bolt gun beats them all. I don’t even really know why. The pose is solid and detail is great, but he’s not really anything flashy or special; he’s not a super special character or a giant monster. He’s just a dude with a cool coat and a big gun. And sometimes that’s all you need.

- Gareth

 

 

Dreadball!

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Recently I’ve got a bit mental for Dreadball, the extreme sportsy-boardy game from Mantic Games. That’s probably because it’s a damn good game, and loads of fun to play!

photo-full

I got the Deluxe set for Christmas, and I’ve only managed to get round to playing some games over the past few weeks, but I’ve made for lost time! You get Human and Marauder teams in the box, and they’re what you may expect; the humans are good at everything but great at nothing, whereas the Marauder team is made up of Orx (big chunky bruisers) and Goblins (weak but quick).

In Dreadball, there are three player types; Strikers, Guards, and Jacks. Strikers are great at catching, throwing and running, but can’t tackle opposing players. Guards, on the other hand, specialise in putting the boot in, but can’t handle the ball at all. Jacks can do everything, but they can’t catch or throw as well as a Striker, or tackle as well as a Guard. Depending on your team, you’ll start off with a certain number of each role; for example, the Marauders start with three Guards and five Jacks, whereas Humans have only two Guards, but three Jacks and three Strikers. Some of the more exotic teams have stranger mixes of roles, such as the Judwan (Strikers only) or Robots (Jacks only, but can transform mid-game to Strikers or Guards).

As for a rules system, you couldn’t really ask for something more elegant. Dreadball is a dice pool system; the default dice pool is three dice, with fewer or more dice depending on the difficulty of the task. For example, a Jack throwing the ball into a Strike Hex (the goal) would have three dice, minus one for throwing at a Strike Hex, for a total of two dice. Then if at least one of dice scores equal to or higher than the stat being tested (Strength, Skill, or Speed), the action is successful! Of course, there’s usually a lot more to it than that, but that’s the basics.

There’s also a lot of high-risk, high-reward strategy that makes the game very exciting to play. Do you spend actions in slamming enemy Jacks and Guards out of the way so that your Striker has a clear run to the Strike Zone? Or do you try passing the ball around the main scrum, but risk losing control and ending your turn prematurely? Will you roll well enough on a catch or pick-up to get a free run action? How reliant are you on that being the outcome? Warhammer 40,000 wishes it could be as tense and tactical.

It helps that the models are pretty nice too. I’ve painted up the Marauders already. These are my Deathskull Pirates, a tribute to my last ever 40k army.

Crunch, Kap'n Dreggutz, and Hog.

Crunch, Kap’n Dreggutz, and Hog.

The Sneak, Stikkit, Zigzag, Wiggles, and Giggles.

The Sneak, Stikkit, Zigzag, Wiggles, and Giggles.

Yep, albino Orks. I wonder where I’ve seen that before…?

I’ve still got to put paint to brush for the human team, the Hiroyami Samurai, but the beauty of the Dreadball miniatures is that due to all their sports gear/armour, they’re easy to paint up!

It was Ian’s birthday recently, and due to his love of everything short, bearded, and belligerent, I got him the Forge Father team as a present. This is how his Kargrim Masons are currently shaping up…

kargrim

I’m anticipating a grand smackdown between the Pirates and the Masons coming up soon!

- Gareth 

Slice & Dice : The Two Towers Deckbuilding Game

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April already… jeez.

I’ve been a bit lax on here as of late, so have a stupidly long video as compensation! There will be real content again soon, I promise. Until then, enjoy this video of Ian and I playing Cryptozoic’s rather excellent Lord of the Rings deckbuilding game. This is the one with the towers and PO-TAY-TOES (boil ‘em, mash ‘em, etc), as opposed to the one with Sean Bean or the one with the indestructible ghost warriors that for some reason aren’t used to outright conquer Mordor.

 

- Gareth

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