July 31

Soda Pop Miniatures Previews Halloween-Themed Autumn Releases

The Gencon train keeps on chugging. This time, Soda Pop, creators of my beloved Super Dungeon Explore, have previewed their Autumn release of Beatrix the Witch Queen and Jack Scarecrow. Might this be a boss box, like Goro, with the ghosts included in the box like the Giri? We’ll see. On to the models!

Also previewed is the thematically similar Jack Scarecrow hero.

As always, the models are brilliant. They are always so cute and full of character. What a lovely release for Halloween.

July 31

Some Answers Regarding Wyrd’s ‘The Other Side’

EricJ, originator of the images I shared earlier this morning, has posted a little update on his Twitter regarding Wyrd’s upcoming release, The Other Side:

answers

So some of the speculation bears out and, as could be guessed from the art style, the new game will be set in the Malifaux universe. My money is definitely on a higher model-count game.

Other Side

Still hoping we get to explore the effects of the goings-on in Malifauc from the point of view of those still on Earth. It would be so cool to explore what effect the technology, magic and artefacts brought back through the breach has in politics and power in the old world.

I do hope that we know more by the end of Gencon weekend!

July 31

Coming Soon From Wyrd Games: The Other Side

These images have just surfaced on Twitter and they have me very excited!

Other Side

 

The Other Side

 

This image was also posted by Pyrflamme, a user on the Wyrd forums:

The Other Side

The reference to both ‘Earth’ and the ‘Other Side’ (probably meaning the other side of the Breach, meaning Earth) lead me to really hope that this will be a spinoff game to Malifaux set on Earth. This has a lot of great possibilities and the rumour mill is already grinding away. Here are some of the interpretations I have seen:

  • A spinoff game with more factions and inbuilt interchangeability , like Warmachine and Hordes
  • A mass-battle game a-la Warhammer 40,000 or the likes
  • A board game
  • An expansion for Through the Breach which sees the fight spilling through from Malifaux to Earth
  • A completely different, sci-fi themed game

Whatever it is, I am really looking forward to finding out more! I do hope it explores what is happening back on earth as the Guild focuses their attentions on Malifaux, and if it is a higher model count game, it will fill a different niche to that of Malifaux and hopefully have some crossover potential. The humans are dressed in much the same way as the guild, and are armed similarly, though perhaps a tad more advanced in their guns and mech which would fit the theme, given that magic is far less common and potent on the Earth side of the breach. The scale is also questionable, given the sheer size of that mech and the largest of the beasts. 120mm bases incoming?

An army of Malifaux-themed minis? That could be good, if they stopped putting such stupidly tiny and delicate parts onto their sprues!

Exciting times!

July 31

Wyrd’s Gencon Malifaux Pre-Release Extravaganza!

Gencon is upon us, friends, Gencon is upon us! As per usual, Wyrd Games have pulled out all the stops to make their pre-releases available not only at the con, but on their webstore for the duration of the con (through this weekend) for everyone who wishes to partake.

The biggest draw for me is probably the third book of second edition, Shifting Loyalties, which brings in campaign rules, avatars and some more new models:

Shifting Loyalities

I imagine many will also want to pick up the Dark Carnival, a limited Nightmare Edition set that may be used as an alternate Colette crew. The price is pretty steep for this limited run item, but the models are fantastic:

Dark Carnival

Here are the extended highlights, including The Crossroads Seven and some really nice crew sets. The Gremlins are particularly blessed and now feel a lot more fleshed out and complete as a faction. Ulix is also the first Gremlin master that I have actually been interested in! The riders are also beautiful. And Jack Daw. And Hamelin… Oh, whatever, just click the images for a better view:

Finally, continuing their tradition of doing alternate, female version of male models for Gencon, Wyrd are offering Miss Anne Thrope, an alternate Wastrel model, to those who meet the purchase threshold:

MissAnne

If you are interested in filling your boots, and are not afraid of international shipping, you can order up some pre-release Malifaux at Wyrd’s store. Usually I would embed a hyperlink into the text of my post, but I really like the URL Wyrd use for their store, so I am just going to pop the address right in here:

http://giveusyourmoneypleasethankyou-wyrd.com/collections/sale-specials

There are other items available too, including a new board game and supplements for Through the Breach.

July 30

Bundle of Holding: Deadlands Classic

 

A new Bundle of Holding has appeared, this time focusing on the classic edition of Deadlands, the weird west RPG. Here is how the site describes their latest bundle:

Time to saddle up again, Marshal! The surviving Rail Barons of the Great Rail Wars have resurrected our May 2014 Deadlands Classic Bundle, featuring the original 1996 Weird West tabletop roleplaying game designed by Shane Lacy Hensley of Pinnacle Entertainment. This huge collection of DRM-free, non-watermarked .PDFs gives everything you need to protect the Weird West of 1876 from the Reckoners.

This is the classic, standalone version of Deadlands, rather than the newer Savage Worlds setting, which is also very good.

 

Deadlands is a mix of western and horror with the original premise of the game having been ‘cowboys and zombies’. It also brings in shadowy agencies, religious fanatics, magic and, because it is a wild west setting, Native Americans. The game lets you play as living or as undead, with one of the supplements in this bundle focusing specifically on the creation of undead characters. I’ve had more experience with Weird War II than with Weird West, but I’m up for giving it a go!

Deadlands

The set contains a good selection of books under the usual two-tier setup. The first tier costs $7.95 and contains:

  • Weird West Player’s Guide (retail price $7.50): The core book for players, with the original rules and setting that started it all. [Note: Deadlands has been adapted to several rules system. This revived offer re-presents the 2004 revision of Pinnacle Entertainment’s flagship 1996 game and its supplements.]
  • Marshal’s Handbook (retail price $7.50): The Game Master’s guide to the Weird West of 1876.
  • Fire & Brimstone (retail price $3.75): The Blessed folks of the Weird West — Baptist Bible-thumpers, frontier rabbis, soapbox evangelists, and wandering Buddhist monks.
  • Hucksters & Hexes (retail $3.75): The soucebook for magic (and poker) in the Weird West.
  • Rascals, Varmints, & Critters (retail price $3.75): Scores of Deadlands desperadoes, abominations, and freaks.
  • Smith & Robards Catalog (retail price $3.75): A full range of weapons and equipment, plus New Science gizmos and rules for fantastic devices and the madm– um, geniuses who create them.

The second tier currently costs $14.62, though this changes based on the average donation. This tier contains:

  • The Agency: Men in Black Dusters (retail price $3.75): One of the highest-rated Deadlands supplements, this training manual documents secrets the Agency (a secret service of the Weird West) doesn’t want you to know.
  • Book o’ the Dead (retail price $3.75): The secrets of those who have passed beyond the veil — and back. New rules for generating undead heroes, as well as over 50 new mystical Harrowed powers.
  • Canyon o’ Doom (retail price $3.75): The native peoples call it the House of Stone and Light. In its shadowed depths, unnatural things wait. An epic 128-page adventure.
  • The Collegium (retail price $3.75): The intrigue-filled association of mad scientists in the Great Maze boomtown, Gomorra, and their newest, least stable steamtech inventions.
  • Ghost Dancers (retail $3): The sourcebook for Native American Shaman characters, their powers, and the Happy Hunting Grounds where mad spirits dwell.
  • Law Dogs (retail $3.75): About law enforcement, and the enforcers who have to be as ruthless as the outlaws they pursue.
  • Lone Stars (retail $3.75): The Texas Rangers sourcebook!

If you are interested in picking up this bundle, click here to visit the page.

July 29

Heroes of the Storm: Trying Out Mecha Tassadar

I picked up a new skin on Heroes of the Storm for one of my favourite character: Tassadar. Mecha Tassadar is really cool, completely revamping the original skin in favour of one that has that classic Transformers look. Here are the two side by side:

tassadar

How awesome does that look? I was really keen to try it out and jumped into a quick cooperative game. I also recorded it:

I really like the option to transform into a plane instead of using a mount – though you can use a normal mount instead if you want to. The sounds, animations and moves have also all been tweaked. I really like it when a skin is complete like this, changing every cosmetic aspect of the character rather than just recolouring the model.

July 29

Alphabet of Entertainment: B is for Borderlands

Following on quite naturally from A, this week sees me get down and dirty with the letter B.

Videogames: Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2

The first Borderlands game was really good and mixed fast paces action with quick-witted humour and an interesting randomised item system. Borderlands 2 continues this tradition and builds upon it, expanding the previous game in just about every way possible, giving more engaging character interactions, a much wider variety of environments to explore and more outrageous humour. The game was improved immensely by the DLC as well, particularly by the Dungeons and Dragons inspired adventure, Bunkers and Badasses, featuring everyone’s favourite juvenile psychopath, Tiny Tina. The whole thing is brilliant and is replayable with the different classes just so that you can enjoy the humour and charm of the game all over again. It also has one of the best villains I’ve seen for a while in the form of Handsome Jack.

Honourable Mention: Bioshock. It is, like Borderlands, a shooter, but with a very different, much heavier tone. The story is fantastic and the blending of action, story and the exploration of philosophy is unique.

Television: Black Books

Black Books

Black Books takes place in a book shop of the same name and features the proprietor , Mr. Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), his friend Fran (Tamsin Greig) and his long-suffering employee, Manny (Bill Bailey). Black, despite running his shop, is an antisocial, drunken, spiteful, despressive man who has no time for anyone but his eldest friend (Fran) and is often seen to take his frustrations out on Manny, his employee.

Bernard Black

The dialogue in the show is very sharp and it’s not hard to believe that the show is another brainchild of Graham Linehan, known for Father Ted and The I.T. Crowd. My favourite episode is probably the one in which Bernard and Manny, whilst housesitting for a friend, accidently drink some very expensive wine intended for the Pope and must do their best, using the available tasting notes, to create a suitable substitute thst will taste like the original. Hilarity ensues. The show also attracted a lot of really excellent actors to take bit parts and cameos. Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman and Peter Serafinowicz are among these actors. The show, long since finished, is available in its entirety on Netflix.

Music: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run

Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
Girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the street tonight
In an everlasting kiss

Oh, man! This could the song or the album, I don’t care, they are both brilliant. The song is just perfection, but I can’t play it while I’m driving or I find myself creeping well beyond the speed limit.

As for the album, not only does it have the titular track, but Jungleland? Thunder Road? Backstreets? And those are just the highlights! There are just no bad tracks on this album – something you can rarely say for even the best of Springsteen’s releases. This is one of the best albums I have ever heard and is what affirms my undying love and respect for The Boss. It’s little wonder that this was his breakout album. It is available on Spotify.

Honourable Mention: Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School by Warren Zevon because it has so many of Zevon’s classics in one album, including the titular track, Play It All Night Long, Jeannie Needs a Shooter (with Springsteen), Gorilla You’re a Desperado and Jungle Work. Good stuff!

Podcasts: (The) Bugle

The Bugle

Billed as ‘An Audio Newspaper for a Visual World”, The Bugle is the brainchild of English comedians Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver. The podcast is an irreverent send up of the week’s news and is often filled with puns and profanities in equal measure. The show has a quick pace to it and it pulls zero punches in its skewering of public figures and important events. The update schedule has been less consistent since John Oliver started his HBO talk show, but that only make us appreciate the episodes that they do put out all the more. If you enjoy TV shows like Have I Got News for You and Mock the Week, or radio shows like The News Quiz or The Now Show (The Now Shooooooooow!), then you will probably enjoy The Bugle.

Board Games: Blood Bowl

Blood Bowl

Blood Bowl is a fantasy football game that I have been playing since I was a child. I always sniff with derision when I hear about my more sport-savvy friends discuss their fantasy football leagues and management games, because quite frankly their games are crap. Their ‘fantasy’ football games don’t even have Orcs. This is one the Games Workshop games that has utterly fallen off the map in terms of official support, but the popularity of the game has not waned. This has seen a huge range of alternative miniatures and boards being produced by smaller companies, usually to a better quality than the now-outdated stuff that Games Workshop produced. For example, here is my Elf team from Grid Iron Miniatures:

Pro Elves

The game itself is fast-paced and frantic. The dice add a randomness to the game that ensure that even the most experienced team cannot always count on the perfect execution of their plans. The low model count makes the game accessible in comparison to larger-count miniature games like Warhammer or Warmachine. The game is, as with all good games, quite simple to learn and difficult to master. There are good videogames based on Blood Bowl produced by Cyanide and a more faithful (but less visually stunning) Java version produced by fans.

Honourable Mention: Battlestar Galactica sees the players take on the role of the colonists from the BSG TV show as they try to escape from the Cylons and start a new life on Earth. Good idea in theory, but at least one player is actually a Cylon agent and will act to sabotage the ship and destroy the fleet. It’s always more fun to play as the Cylon.

Next Week: C!

July 28

Has Hearthstone Found Its True Home on Mobile Platforms?

If you have not already heard, Blizzard have released their Warcraft-themed card game, Hearthstone, on mobile platforms. You probably have heard already though, as not only has it been out for a little while now, but this ad, or a variation thereof, has been all over the internet for the last few weeks:

HFVRX3M6X10H1428616926500

I started playing Hearthstone upon its initial release and I really enjoyed it for quite a while. The game plays like a simplified, freemium version of Magic and although there are significant benefits to purchasing packs of the cards, that does not necessarily mean that the game is pay to win. It is viable as a free game.

The different characters each have a very distinctive style defined by both the selection of available cards and a unique character ability, from the Uther the Paladin’s ability to summon reinforcements, to Jaina the Mage’s fireball, or Anduin the Priest’s ability to heal.

I did find myself playing the game less and less over time, partially because when I am sitting at my PC, I usually prefer a meatier game. I’m settled in to play and Hearthstone does not fill that niche for me. On a mobile device, however, such as a phone or tablet, this is the perfect kind of game. It has the right level of depth and yet the simplest of controls. It is a game you can dip in and out of as required, and one which just works well on these devices. It just feel better on mobile, and gives me a lot of hope for future mobile releases from Blizzard.

Here are some screenshots I took of the mobile game in action:

The game is available for free on the PC from Battle.net or from the App/Play/Amazon stores for mobile platforms.

July 27

Music Video Monday: Disorder in the House (Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen)

Two legends in one song! This is the song that won Warren one of his two grammies, from the album that won him his other – though sadly both were awarded posthumously. Given that Warren was dying at the time this was recorded, it’s a great song and the video is put together well from studio recordings.

I just got my paycheck
I’m gonna paint the whole town grey
Whether it’s a night in Paris or a Fresno matinee

Jorge Calderon makes a couple of brief little appearances in there, too!

July 26

League of Legends: Exciting Changes for Teemo

I am a big fan of Teemo, the pint-sized, furry-cheeked, poison-slinging scout from League of Legends:

teemo

He has long been one of my favourite characters and I love his playstyle. He is a stealthy scout who becomes invisible to the opposing team after a couple of seconds out of combat. He will remain stealthed until he attacks, is his by an attack or affected by an anti-stealth ward or ability. That is his passive ability. My favourite of his active abilities, though it functions as more of a passive that you can toggle on and off, is his ability to coat the darts from his blow-gun with poison and inflict anyone that he hits. He can also blind opponents and increase his movement speed. His ultimate sees him place stealthy exploding mushrooms on the ground that inflict poison and AoE damage to any enemies who tread on them. They are quite annoying.

In all honestly, the whole character is quite annoying. It’s always satisfying to take out an enemy with your poison after you yourself have already died. A bit of vindication, you know?

Well, let the Teemo-trolls rejoice, for the current beta build reveals potential changes coming up for Teemo. In this footage from Surrender at 20, we can see some pretty big changes to the stealth mechanic, allowing Teemo to stealth faster in brush and to remain stealthed while he remains in the brush. This is a big deal, opening up new and devious options for Teemo, particularly for escapes and ganking:

Of course, nothing on the test servers should ever be considered final, but it looks like Teemo players are in for a treat – albeit one that will take a little practice and adjustment of playstyles to really shine.