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[WM/H] Something’s Got To Give

I have a little bit of a dilemma on my hands, boys and girls.

This is the time of year at which money is not abundant, and at which a chap who’s bound to the sell-the-old-to-buy-the-new paradigm of hobbying looks at what’s there and what’s not there and wonders: what can I bear to do without?

I look at my miniatures shelf and I see an increasing lack of space there – especially since I have a new project taking shape on the desk over the room. In particular, I see a lot of Warmachine stuff, which makes me… nervous. It’s arguable that I don’t really benefit from having that much stuff for Warmachine, and that if I’m going to have a diverse collection for that game it’d be better to have one Warmachine and one Hordes faction than anything else. At the moment, I own Retribution and Cryx (and some token Mercenaries, but they’re less a viable faction than a collection of stuff I own for the IKRPG or my other factions, out of which I can technically make a Warmachine army).

I like the look of my Retribution immensely – well, not completely immensely. I like the job I’ve done Ravyn, Kaelyssa and Elara, on the Houseguard and, to a lesser extent, the Dawnguard infantry, and the Stormfall are OK. The Arcanists, the two myrmidons, and Ossyran, though… they’re oddly bad compared to the others, and it’s annoying since I need at least one ‘jack that I’m comfortable with fielding, and the support pieces for it, and since Ossyran’s my favourite Retribution caster it’d be nice if he was my best painted too. I’ve not had much success with the Retribution but the Houseguard and, to an extent, the Stormfalls, have done me proud. The ‘pick one scalable list and stick to it’ project has been pretty successful, although I’d rather have picked Mage Hunters over the Banshee and just stuck to a one-jack army.

I like the style of my Cryx immensely. The monochrome paint job has mostly worked, although I think the job of bridging the gap between casters and troops could have been done better; there’s too much of a stylistic jump between Asphyxious and his minions, too much rich colour to make him sit well with them. I’m settling into a play-style that I like with them; I play Cryx not as a horde but as a handful of scalpels being rammed into the opponent from every direction. The goal in play is not to outfight my opponent but to bypass them in sufficient strength to win by assassination; that’s why I seem to favour Deneghra, Mortenebra and the Coven as casters and battlegroup-focused builds in general. I don’t seem to find myself fielding infantry swarms very often, conventional wisdom be damned.

The problem I have is this whole “two armies for one game which arguably rewards deeper investment in one army” phenomenon. The other problem I have is the nagging itch to do Hordes. I do like the Hordes mechanics. I did like everything about Skorne except painting them and I think I know what went wrong there (I went inside-out rather than outside-in – with my Circle I painted the fiddliest bits at the basecoating stage and everything else was just putting colours around those bits). I could quite feasibly play Trollbloods again; I own enough blighted trollkin miniatures to do some dark, spiky trolls with the addition of, say, Doomshaper and a battlegroup.

What’s telling, I reckon, is that if I look back at my history with Warmachine, I have (barring a couple of years in the middle) always played Cryx, always had that primary faction – and then had something else that I’ve swapped in or out over the years. The Cryx have been the ‘collection’, the thing for which I bother with multiple builds – my off-faction has generally petered out at a single 25 or 35 point list, been played for anything up to a year, and then drifted gently away. Given that track record it’s perhaps not surprising that I’m considering letting the Retribution go… especially since, with the whole ‘one or two heavies and a bunch of infantry’ shtick, I essentially play them like classic Cryx anyway. Could I build a list heavy on Cephalyx or Bane Knights or Satyxis and effectively get my Retribution force within Cryx? Potentially – but I would really miss those Houseguard models.

[WoW] Warlords of Draenor: Nemesis Mine…

We may kill from sky break to sky fall and still our work will never be done. Yet at the end of days when we are measured for our accomplishments, only the bloody wake that we have left behind us will show our true strength. For this reason you must never stop the slaughter of those that would seek to harm us and our loved ones.

Promise me, Gar’shúl.

Never. Stop.

– Raza’kul

Well, you can’t say no to a request like that, can you?

With a return to Warlocking comes a return to PvP, simply because I lack the patience for sitting in the lengthy queues endured by pure-DPS classes in search of PvE content. With a return to PvP comes the usual anxiety about gear gaps, season start times, faction bias, etc. etc….

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Oh, wait. What’s that? Gladiator’s Sanctum? OK, forget I said anything.

I like the Sanctum a lot. It’s a Garrison building which, like many others, allows you to set work orders; you put in resources, wait for a bit, and produce comes out. The thing is, what you feed into it is Broken Bones, which you acquire by murdering players of the opposite faction; what comes out is currency (honour and conquest points, garrison resources and Apexis crystals) and entry-level PvP gear (item level 600 out in the world, scaling to 660 in PvP zones).

I’ve probably had two full sets of Felweave emerge from mine since hitting 100 a week ago, plus belt/bracers/rings/necklace. No trinkets – I guess you still have to buy SOME things – but enough honour to make buying trinkets trivial. It’s quite marvellous, since it means my slacker ass is pretty much ready to disgrace itself in battlegrounds and arenas now that the first season of the expansion’s opened, and all I’ve had to do is spend a couple of hours hanging around Ashran throwing around ridiculous amounts of AoE attacks.

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Admittedly, that might have been worth doing in its own right. Ashran, the new world PvP zone, feels like a new take on the old Alterac Valley standard. For those not in the known, Alterac Valley is a massive forty-players-per-side five-hundred-respawns-per-faction battleground, dating back to the earliest years of WoW and consequently full of sidequests, reputation grinding, and time-consuming “do this in order to unlock that which’ll summon an NPC who’ll make it marginally more likely that you win” content. Apparently, back in the day, Alterac Valley was hog’s heaven, with matches taking whole days to resolve one way or the other. To me, that sounds like a lot of poopsocker hogwash, but I digress.

The point is that Alterac Valley, in the here and now, is a poster child for the quick-and-drop culture introduced by random groups for battlegrounds, raids and dungeons. Forty people come in, charge willy-nilly up the map, if you’re lucky they might stop to eliminate a few key targets and thus some of the opposition’s resources. What’s meant to be a slow, crawling battle essentially turns into a race to see who can steamroller to the enemy boss fastest, or at least who can be the first to induce extreme tilt in the opposition and cause them to throw the game. The way that the game is played, in the here and now, means that much of Alterac Valley might as well just… not be there.

Ashran is built for the modern MMO environment. It has a very similar structure, with a long road between two bases. There are sidequests, which unlock a very significant buff or additional NPC for your faction if completed, but which aren’t absolutely mandatory to win the game (unlike the take-and-hold-the-bunkers part of Alterac Valley). It rattles along as a series of bite-sized encounters at varying stages along the road, each lasting a few minutes with a couple of minutes’ breathing time in between, rather than forcing you to stick around for a half hour’s foregone conclusion if you want your participation reward. You lose nothing by dropping in or out as you please, although you’ll be wanting to press on for an enemy boss kill now and then for loot.

In theory, it ebbs and flows in favour of one faction or the other; it’s been more of a pendulum swing on Earthen Ring at the moment, as one or the other faction’s more serious PvP guilds pile in to farm honour and bones, but it’s been as much fun farming the Alliance as it has been heroically defending the Horde’s gates. My favourite moment so far – alas, not screencapped as to cease button-mashing would have been death – was standing Gar’shúl on the bridge outside the Horde camp, Alliance charging him en masse, hurling out Conflagrates and Immolates and Rains of Fire and his Infernal minion. There were other players farther behind, but I’d ended up at the front and had to pull back into their range, and so I did; backing up one step at a time as a score of enemies were snared and burned. He died, of course, but for a good ten seconds he stood alone on that burning bridge and defied an army.

It’s all been so much fun that I’ve taken on the Sanctum’s quest-line. The Nemesis quests are a series of kill counts. Kill 500 of a given playable race, and you get a neat title. Kill 500 of all the enemy faction’s playable races, and complete the unlockable Highmaul Colosseum, and you become a Warlord of Draenor.

I might just turn off my Black Harvest title for that. Maybe.

2014 Pledge Review

  1. I will start up and run an in-house WFRP game which will run for at least six four-hour sessions.
  2. I will run at least two one-off Vampire games and set up RPOL threads for both my distance-play groups.
  3. I will build/repair and paint/restore at least 2400 points of Vampire Counts, with at least 500 points of totally new stuff.
  4. I will build a viable Good force and Moria battlefield for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, and make Hark blog about them.
  5. I will paint and base a 50 point Retribution army by the end of March, and then purchase no more.
  6. I will lay hands on two starter sets plus kit for Freebooter’s Fate and run at least four demonstration games.
  7. I will not transfer more than two WoW characters during the entire year.
  8. I may build new Magic decks but I will not buy new Magic decks; they must be based on cards within the collection or acquired through drafting.
  9. I will do all of this on a budget of no more than £300, plus whatever is earned from selling unwanted goods.

If I manage to honour and maintain all of these pledges until the 1st of December 2014, I’ll buy myself Hyperion for my birthday on the 5th.

 

Remember that?

I did, in a manner of speaking. Not that I actually upheld any of them.

1. NOPE. I did join the Corehammer lads in a spot of WFRPing, but I said in-house and I haven’t seen it through. We’ve gotten as far as rolling up characters for a run at the original Ravenloft (since Erin still wants to try the D&Ds at some stage), but we haven’t sat down and played the bastard yet.

2. NOPE. RPOL annoys me. It seems like a lot of clutter to set up a play-by-post which you might as well just do with a basic forum. I haven’t even been arsed with that, and various efforts at Tumblr roleplaying have fallen down. I was chatting with and apologising to Ben about this the other day, and he opined that it’s not exactly my fault; I’ve made my thoughts on the tactility and immediacy of the roleplaying experience quite clear and I’m simply not wired for play-by-post. Which is fair enough, actually. Skype and similar tools always feel odd for the Vampire group: self-conscious, cramped, and limited by hiccuping connections and so on, especially since two people are generally crowded around one device with no room to breathe, keep notes secret etc. etc.

I’m actually more surprised that I manage to do any roleplaying via WoW – but the more I think about it, WoW-RP involves a lot of parallel chat, alt-tabbing out to look at other stuff, and the sort of behaviour that would induce a slap from a tabletop GM. Bugger the Internet. If I’m going to be so old-fashioned that I sit down for pencil-and-paper roleplaying I’m going to keep it resolutely low-tech.

3. NOT… EXACTLY. The End Times release might have potentially induced some sort of hype in this direction, but there are… issues. There’s been a change of management at GW. Rumours of ninth edition WFB are beginning to circulate. Products are being cranked out at a rate of knots. There’s the past history of big super hype world-wide events which ultimately end up changing nothing, their releases ultimately irrelevant a year down the line. There’s no sense of a secure future in the End Times (appropriately enough), which makes me disinclined to spend fifty quid merely on the rulebook, let alone rush out and spend a month’s rent on new models.

am quite taken with some of the new undead pieces; they’re stylish, in a hideously over-the-top kind of way, and I prefer the Mortarchs to the Zombie Dragon (if not the Terrorgheist), so there’s a potential purchase there just for an army centrepiece. That said, I’ve found the time to revamp my plastic infantry and cavalry at last, there’s a Lichemaster and a Krell and a new lady Vampire on the painting queue, and I finally have a legal unit of Dire Wolves again, so there’s at least 500 points of new stuff in the house. I’d be very surprised if there’s a legal or decent 2400 point army in it, but I have at least made a step towards this one.

4. NOPE. LotR SBG has fallen by the wayside. The range is gradually vanishing or turning into Finecast, and Hark hasn’t expressed as much interest in playing as expected. Not much to say there.

5. ALMOST. I did crack and purchase Elara, Issyra and a Houseguard Thane later in the year, but I have actually completed a 50 point force with a choice of four casters. I’m not a hundred per cent happy with it: I still haven’t found a way to paint the myrmidons in a manner of my liking. The Banshee/Sphinx has come out looking too Convergence-ish for its own good, and the Phoenix/Hydra is actually worse after its trip to the Power Spray than before. The infantry look pretty neat though, and they’ve been quite fun to play. I might well expand them to 75 points in the next year; Battle Mage solos and Mage Hunter infantry would be neat options and help to make the most out of some underwhelming casters. I’m tempted to replace the battlegroup with a new starter set, keeping my old Hydra arms so I have one of those for Elara, a Griffon for the Dawnguard Invictors and a Chimera for my ‘caster) – but that involves painting three of those damn myrmidon kits. The one-jack army is tempting, but a) Elara and b) which one? An arc node means a Phoenix, Chimera or Hypnos; Discordia would be easy to build from the starter box and pair well with the Invictors; Imperatus is, not to put too fine a point on it, awesome-looking but seems to lack utility. I’ll have to mull it over.

6. NOPE. I haven’t had the time, the energy or the inclination to evangelise for new games, and I don’t think I’m going to bother next year; if I’m going to make the effort to change people’s minds I’d rather do it for something important.

7. NOPE. I did so well and then, in September, the opportunity to snag a Garrosh kill or two cracked me and, in a flurry of transfers, I moved my best geared alt to the Alliance (and then back again when I remembered that I don’t actually like the Alliance that much), my Priest to the Horde so that my Forgotten Shadow RP cult was actually led by a Priest, and turned my Death Knight into an Orc because Warlords of Draenor. I kept it down to six, which is a fat sight better than last year, but still four too many.

8. YEP. Actually upheld, mainly because I’ve barely played any Magic this year. My decks bore me now, Khans of Tarkhir or whatever it is doesn’t hold the same appeal for me that Ravnica did, and Magic had an impact on the quality of this year’s geek holiday (quoth Jemma: “Every time there’s been a conversation it’s been about those infernal cards!” and she wasn’t entirely wrong – I think next year we might have to say no Magic and no Wi-Fi either, just for the sake of actually interacting.)

9. NOT SURE. Every bloody year I go off and say “I’ll keep an eye on the finances” and every bloody year it boils down to “well, I can’t afford that right now so I won’t buy it” or “I have some spare cash now so I will.” Considering that I’ve made a couple of hundred quid from sales or trades this year, and that I did buy the Cryx back around Easter, it’s probably just about evened out on the whole.

 

LESSONS LEARNED?

Don’t pledge so bloody much. Fencing myself about with these obligations was a poor choice. I need the openness to follow enthusiasm when it’s present and make the most of it while it lasts. Mind you, what with suicide attempts, therapy, career changes, engagements and political engagement it’s been quite a hectic year; I feel like I’ve changed, or tried to change, a lot since January, and it’s no real surprise that my gaming tendencies have changed too.

Next year… eh, I dunno. There’s a lot on. Election campaigns to support/help manage, the prospect of a house move and a wedding… it’s funny, but ever since we discussed moving away from London I seem to have started putting down roots here, and I wonder why – is it the self-sabotaging tendencies discussed ad nauseam in therapy sessions at work again, making sure that there’s some pain and stress and shame to be had – which makes a change from wanting to move around constantly as a self-sabotaging… ahh, fuck it, this sort of is-it isn’t-it malarkey is just asking for trouble. I’ll play it by ear. There are things I want to do and limited resources with which to do them. That’s all I know right now. We deal with what’s in front of us. Roofs over heads, potatoes in tummies. That’s what counts.

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