Saturday, 25 January 2014

Some life happened, and now I'm abaft.

Ugh, I won't bore you with details but the Norovirus has recently gone through my entire family like a plague, even the cat!? Needless to say, hobby deadlines were missed. Thankfully it hasn't taken long for the New Year optimism to be crushed mercilessly and for things to return to normal!

A big welcome to my two newest followers, thanks very much for signing up!

I managed to get the last few out-of-stock EM4 minis that I missed out on in December. I emailed EM4 in the end and basically threw myself at their mercy. Lo and behold, They cast up the missing minis and they were delivered within 24 hours! I have thanked those responsible by email but I'm so grateful I am giving this shout out for EM4 here, too.

3 models from EM4's Spacelords range and one from the Future Skirmish range. L to R, Punk, Savage, Trader, Lady.

I am also (slowly) putting together a warband to take on Whiskey Priest's Felderburg Nether Port Watch and anyone else who takes part in the meeting-up part of the challenge. Below is the boss and first member, a lovely Viking mini from Wargames Foundry.

This fellow is seriously huge by 28mm standards and stands even taller than GW minis. A perfect Chaos Warrior to lead my damned warband.

The final days of January will bring painted minis for your viewing pleasure and February will bring more AAR's of games against Thantsants of Somewhere the Tea's Getting Cold. I may do a post about Judge Dredd soon too, I'm up to the 14th volume of the complete case files and it's so awesome I think I may need to talk about it with somebody.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Shock report: GW is losing popularity!!!

Since my last post GW have both come out and clarified the WD magazine situation and released their financial report.

The deal with the magazines is as anticipated in many quarters, one becomes two as the shiny advertising is split off to become a weekly catalogue and 'hobby content' is released monthly in a more expensive form.

Well, good luck to them I guess but I remain deeply suspicious of GW's ability to produce any writing of real quality. They have got an over-worked, cut-price staff working on all their output these days and it shows. While the shiny, glossiness of the magazine and books has risen tenfold (good to see all those graphic design degrees being put to good use) the substance has withered away to naught.

I'm not going to buy issue one of Warhammer Visions. There, I've committed myself now. I'm fed up of giving GW second chances. While I have many friends who still work for them and avoid the malicious bashing of GW at all costs I have lost all hope of ever seeing things turn around. I have actually begun to detect a few nods here and there to the retro scene, my mate gives me a free WD each month and I swear some of the articles were written by someone aware of the Old School scene and the growing bands of retro-gamers out there. Narrative campaigns made a reappearance for the first time in decades too.

It was all a bit mediocre though. The books and supplements were too shallow, too focused on teh awesum perilous grims and grim darks.

Where was the poet who had to weigh the terror of the Warhammer World against the more immediate fear of failing to fulfil a drunken oath given to a psychotic Dwarf that could tear him in half? (Bill King's Felix & Gotrek.)

Where were the insidious story hooks that gave dangerous hints about a wider galaxy? (Rogue Trader.)

Where were the Space Marines that battled their homesickness and homo-erotic feelings even as they battled Tyranids? (Ian Watson's Space Marine.)

Where was the playwright thrust into a real life tragic drama alongside a child-like vampire with as much sensual, sexual energy as fighting prowess? (Jack Yeovil's Drachenfels.)

All in the past, that's where. Has the ability to create pulp fiction of this quality left the British Isles? I say no, I think it's down to penny-pinching and restrictive deadlines that smother creativity. I always assume the knock-on effect the poor writing has on the games is obvious to all, the stories and the game should go hand in hand, grist for the mill so to speak. Before I move on to the rather juicy report, I will end this section with a reminder to GW, 'you have to speculate to accumulate'. Ah, who am I kidding!

The report then. It's baaaad. There are positives to be drawn from it, technically they are still making a few million in profit, but there will be no dividend paid out this time and the shares have taken a nose dive as a result. The way those share prices recover in the coming weeks will be a key factor in deciding the future of GW in the long-term. 'Weak share price provokes hostile takeover bid' is one possible headline. 'Shareholders revolt' is another. I don't intend to start another diatribe about GW's strategies bringing about their own downfall, it's an all too familiar tune by now, but I will say this brings us a big step closer to the removal of several armies from Warhammer or at least their integration into other lists. This will mark the first step back for GW who have been trying to embiggen Warhammer in a bid to emulate the success of 40k. The design staff fought with marketing to be allowed to make changes to the Warhammer restrictions they worked under (eg. creating three-sprue kits for Warhammer instead of only one and two) because they believed it would drive sales. In light of these figures it would seem the creatives will have to admit defeat. When Dreadfleet failed to reach the targets set for it, marketing canned all future boxed specials as a result (Blood Bowl 25th anniversary edition was an idea that became a casualty of this decision) so I imagine talks will be reignited over Warhammer only this time with a very negative mindset casting a pall over proceedings.

I hope things straighten out in Lenton, for my friends sake, and I don't indulge in schadenfreude as a rule so I will always be urging GW to turn it around rather than implode but I have to say I am left anticipating more bad news to come if I'm honest.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

CALM DOWN and DON'T PANIC! Opinions are like bumholes (everybody's got one that's special to them).

So, as you've probably heard by now, White Dwarf is going the way of the Dodo and will be followed swiftly thereafter by Warhammer. After that the Sun will fail to rise and the Earth itself will spin off it's axis and plunge headlong into Mars.

Ahem. At least that's if you believe the internet, which I would advise you don't because it tells fibs and makes things up.

Rather than rush around commenting on other people's WD scandal articles I've decided to wrap up my thoughts on the subject here, where it can be safely ignored if necessary.

Despite the fact that 12 month WD subscriptions are still on sale from GW and the lack of an official announcement, all of fandom is agog with the possibility of the imminent demise of White Dwarf. Hold on there buddy, it died quite a long time ago! It has been a mere catalogue for hundreds of issues! There has been no original hobby content in the living memory of the average teenage gamer! Surely we all knew this? The long lament has been dragged out for years with the moaning and whinging from 'veteran' gamers, apparently all the time people were hoping WD was going to make a comeback though? A return to the glory days? Why else are we all so upset? Never going to happen I assure you, I hope WD does die a death frankly, so that the embarrassment comes to an end. "So long!" I would say gleefully before continuing. "Thank the Lord you're finally able to rest in peace!". Unfortunately though, it looks like WD will morph into a weekly catalogue aimed at encouraging weekly visits and used as an 'add-on sale'. Surely a fate worse than death.

As for Warhammer (at least, the modern corporate version), I think it deserves an honourable death too. Made cool because it was Cthulhu in Middle-Earth, now it's just a bloated, burnt-out, parody of itself with nowhere left to go.

If anyone out there wants my opinion (based on a little educated conjecture), here it is. Mr Kirby has cut his American venture (the rejuvenation of the U.S. market) short to personally oversee the sale of GW. I think he was given a nod and a wink from a much bigger corporation than GW (Hasbro has been named in some quarters) and has come back across the pond to make a series of short term moves designed to increase the share price as much as possible for the sale. Thus enriched, Mr Kirby can sit back and enjoy a luxurious retirement while Warhammer's future is decided by a real corporation.

Nothing is ever killed off while it is profitable, that's not smart business. Warhammer is profitable by the way, it just doesn't perform as well as Space Marines, but then, nothing else in 40K performs as well as Space Marines. It might be sold off, ending up in the hands of a miniature company or an investment group that wants to squeeze a bit more out of it. That's plausible. It might be allowed to die, disappear, retained merely to protect the IP of Warhammer 40000. Possible. It may even get a dream team assigned to it and enter a new golden age! Of course, that's the one that doesn't sound too plausible when you say it out loud.

Won't it be a blessing if Warhammer goes though, really? A curse, lifted?

I've turned my back on it because everything good Warhammer has to offer is already in my possession, and that's the secret GW have been trying to hide from everyone. The good stuff was there all along, in the beginning, not in the future. It didn't need constant updating, retconning, censoring and embiggening. That's why it's not a good cash cow for a corporation.

1st, 2nd and 3rd editions are great games if you have a GM, 4th and 5th are lots of fun for two mates and 6th was the most balanced edition for tournaments. Everything you need, no matter your hobby preferences!

If there is a hobby god, 1st through 6th will be made available as cheap PDF's by the new proprietors at GW and a selection of cheap, 3D printed, Warhammer miniatures will be available too. Maybe they'll even be good enough to make your own lead moulds from!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The future awaits!

Well, well well, what a palava that was. Next year I'm camping somewhere remote for the holidays, I tell thee true. Below is your soundtrack for this post.

Take a look at my new acquisitions, these are going to occupy me for the rest of the month while I try and muster up some enthusiasm for my Chaos army.

A variety of sci-fi gangers, hackers, mnemonic couriers and ne'er-do-wells.

Mostly from EM4.

This one is a not-Snake from Studio Miniatures.

A not-Max from Studio Miniatures.

Interesting to compare the Studio sculpt to the EM4 'Road Warrior'.

My personal favourite of the whole bunch, a barking mad post-apoc type with 'stunbrella'.

My self-imposed month-long internet ban is over and the Black Hole is back in business with scheduling as normal (sporadic and unpredictable but enthusiastic).

Welcome and thank you to my newest followers!

Thanks for stopping by!