Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Hobbit; The Battle of the Five Armies - A Review

As my last post intimated, I have been looking forward to this movie a fair bit and managed to get to see it yesterday.

The title of the movie pretty much sums up what the movie is all about and most who will go a see it will have a pretty good idea of what the movie is all about.

As with all Peter Jacksons' LotR/Hobbit movies, it is credited as being 'based on' the works of mr Tolkien and as with any Hollywood blockbuster they've got to play about with things a fair bit to make it acceptable to the great unwashed. With that said and understood and knowing that the film was going to be an action-fest with characterisation and indeed the plot loosely based on the book I was happy to go in a watch a 'switch your brain off' entertainment film.

And all in all thee were no disappointments as Mr Jackson has delivered more of what he promised and the franchise goes out with a suitable bang.

No surprises with Smaug getting his just comeuppance at the hands of Bard the Bowman in the opening stages of the movie after he has torched most of Laketown. (I do like what they've done with Laketown and the look of the urban environment definitely tickles my terrain making juices).

The whole early piece of the movie sets up the situation nicely and still keeps the pace up while reminding everybody on what happened in previous episodes.

The mid part of the movie tidies up some of the set pieces which had been left un-resolved in the previous Desolation of Smaug. A particular favourite is the freeing of Gandalf from Dol Guldur, with some nice touches and cameo's here which are totally non-canon but good movie stuff.

The bulk of the rest of the movie is un-surprisingly the main action in the title and generally worth the wait though again the drift of the action has little to do with the battle as described by Tolkein (which doesn't go into a great deal of detail anyway) but goes the winded up hollywood story version instead which is a good visual feast.

Again I'm happy with this and the film concentrates on the main characters individual actions and builds detail around these which all makes good cinema. I particularly like Thranduil here (very nicely played by Lee Pace) and is suitably haughty and Woodelf King-like (though his mount with the nudge bars is bit over the top), not my usual elf-disliking self.

All the cameo's are well done in fact and the cast throughout is well cast with Richard Armitage doing a good job of Thorin's gold lust and doesn't get too cheesy.

I also noticed some of the cut scenes.

There are a number scattered across the film and the locations are very picturesque and indeed again several are very cinematic. A good job there too, a couple being very Japanese art cinema inspired I'm sure.

Of course the bit everybody wants to see is the main action and the battle is well done but as said only a few scences have the 'big picture' particularly in the early opening stages of the battle.

Lots of epic action and big nasty monster types and all the evil protaganists are suitably bad and as ever in these things always seem to be better a killing folk.

All in all the troops depicted I liked the most were the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. I like the look of them and how they behaved in the battle.

Actually with that said, all in all the people that don't come out in a very good light all in all are the humans. In the film very small in number (compared to everybody else) and generally looking quite shabby compared to the more (I suppose stereo type racial cousins).

I did groan a bit when I saw (or more rightly heard the voice) of Dain when the Iron Hills Dwarves make their appearance, with the light relief character being in the form of Billy Connelly. Though I did get the joke of the 'Big Yin' playing a Dwarf, I would of been happier with someone like Ray Winston as Dain,

I can see the script for the character did sit with someone like Billy, who does what he kind of does now a days. But that's a minor gripe, I still liked the dwarves.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable romp with all the usual heart strings being plucked, heroic stoicism, self sacrifice, bravery, love, loss etc etc. All that you could want from an epic.

Once the dust has settled, this one gets a 9 out of 10 'must see' from the Warblog.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

Looking forward to see the Battle of the Five Armies which is released today.

The bit I've been looking forward to seeing since they started the whole Hobbit adventure. Going by the clips I've seen so far it looks to be pretty good, but what's not to like about massive battles on an epic scale.

I'm not going to let the slightly improbable multi-racial (not least to say vertically challenged) love interest get in the way of a good battle-fest.

Certainly bound to be a few ideas for scenario's etc from this the 'last' in the cycle of the LotR films. You never know though, some of the Silmarillion might get made into a film or two yet :-).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Necromunda Campaign - Round 2 Scavengers

Round 2 of the campaign already :-) and another four way game (6 of the other players having already played their Round 2 game a week or so ago) and this time the scenario is the Scavengers scenario.

The contestants up for a fight this time were my Red Redemption fanatics, Doug and his Genestealer Cultists, Kev's House Cawdor and Andy's Van Saar.

The Initial setup

House Cawdor start their exploration
Following the ubiquitous random deployment, and initiative House Cawdor kicked things off and advanced towards the centre, followed by the Redemptionists doing likewise.

The Van Saar and the Cultists with their nefarious 'Vents and Tunnels' abilities deployed their forward scouts and 'claiming the majority of the loot from the outset.

The Red Redemption start their hunt for loot...
With nothing to lose and much to gain, the Redemption and Cawdor fanatics launched themselves into the fray, but trying to keep to cover in the process.

...and move into the structures for cover.
The scenario had a 'scary monsters' roll for each players turn and a few occasions were meted out but only one of the Van Saar were actually taken out by this, the rest of the rolls were pretty innocuous, like the Brother at the back being 'delayed' for a turn.

The Redemption generally made for the high ground and quickly put fire onto the forward Van Saar but only temporarily dropping a couple in their vantage points, while the two Deacons made a beeline for two loot counters that could be seen in the gantries. The Priest, flanked by the two Zealots rushed the loot stashed on the wrong side of the check point. (hopefully the double handed Eviscerator armed maniacs would draw the attention of the nearby Van Saar lurking the the shadow of the central tower).

The best of the Brethren drops on round 2
 and doesn't manage to stand again for the whole match!
Quickly the Van Saar retaliated and dropped one of the Deacons as he rushed towards one of the Loot counters, and dropped a Brother who was sniping at them from cover.

The Priest rushes for the loot while the Zealots take the hits

A fellow Brother with a long shot from his shotgun took out one of the Van Saar guarding the loot counter atop the guard tower. The Deacon with the flamer dropped the Van Saars companion as he sped towards the other counter.

Reaching the counter at the Check Point while taking fire, the Priest managed to pick up the loot while the Zealots tried to slow the Van Saar who rushed into combat. The combat went poorly for the Reds with the Van Saar winning all the combats and it ended with one Zealot out of action and the Priest and the other Zealot dropped.

Cawdor in the shadows
(MacBeth would be proud)

The House Cawdor generally were keeping to cover and laying down a lot of fire at the Genestealer Cultists they could see who were spread out a fair bit. The Cultists in turn, returned fire but little effect was caused to either side at first.

The Van Saar made a few side steps towards the Cultists on their left but no serios moves but enough to make the Cultists watch their flank and hold back from an all out attack on Cawdor.

A Cultist holds off the Van Saar flanking move

Cawdor keep together while laying down suppressing fire
on the Culists 
Slowly but surely, Cawdor advance keeping together and slowly surround the forward Cultists and make a bid for the nearest loot which the Cultists have been guarding.

The recovery rolls for the Priest and Zealot didn't go well on the next time round and both succombed to their wounds. This meant that on my next turn a Break test was required. This left the Van Saar free to move round and hoover up the loot in the area.

Van Saar move off with another of the loot counters

The Reds clutch two of the Loots in the nick of time.
The Deacons on the far side of the field now made a bit for glory. The dropped Deacon crawled on his hands and knees and managed to reach the loot on the gantry and claimed it for the righteous ones. The other Deacon rampaged up the ladder and rushed the Van Saar on top the guard tower who was still a flame from the previous Deacons flamer and with Chainsword and Hand Flamer laid the Van Saar out and claimed the second loot counter.

With three out of the match and two on the ground, I called it a day and the Reds vacated the scene but with two loot counters for their trouble.

Cawdor and Cultists shoot it out on the gantries
With the majority of the loot in their possession and with three of their number out of action, the Van Saar also decided to leg it.

Van Saar move to claim the high ground (and the low)

The fight between Cawdor and the Cultists began to come to head at this time and a couple of Cultists were dropped by fire even though the hand to hand fight was inconclusive. With one loot counter in their possesion, the Cultists bade the fight a farewell to minimise loses too.

The fight for the last loot
This meant that though they had suffered pretty lightly the House Cawdor had possession of the field (and by default the winner) they had recovered none of the loot which left Kev a bit non-plussed by the turn of events. Still a win is a win.

Round 3 is up pretty soon so the fast paced campaign will continue unabated and things should start hotting up too.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Necromunda Campaign - Round 01

Table one

A catch up post for the first round of the club Necromunda Campaign just kicking off a couple of weeks ago (well OK, a month ago, but who's counting).

With a total of twelve participants signed up for the campaign this one is going to be busy and hopefully full of action and entertainment.

The first round with 6 turning up for the first bash we went for four on one table and two on another and we started off things with Andy's vertically challenged Van Saar, Dave Goliath's, Ken's House Cawdor and my own Red Redemption on the first table and Kev's Cawdor versus John's Eldar on the other table after the usual random deployment throws.

Table Two
The randomly determined starting points meant I was starting in the open facing up to the Van Saar who with 'Tunnels & Vents' skills meant they could forward deploy pretty much where they wanted. And they did.

Goliath's in the open!

The Goliath's mob handed faced up to the Cawdor fanatic's who outnumbered took to cover while the Goliath guys advanced pretty much in line order while pouring lead into the enemy while advancing.

The Redemption in the open!

Starting the fight in the open was not a good idea for the Redemption crew especially as the Van Saar already had snipers in good positions right from the start, so the Redemption rushed towards cover and immediately came within range of the most forward deployed Van Saar, but they ket loose with Autogun fire and flamers and themporarily downed a couple as they ducked for cover.

In return the Redemption took some fire but no permanant loses. Next round and pretty much every one had targets but the leading Zealot got mashed by the Van Saar leader before she could even swing her Eviscerator. Returning the favour, the Redemptionists took out the Van Saar leader in a blast from the Priests meltagun and another wave of flamers.

Next up the Van Saar dropped the other Zealot and with one of the Crusader Brethren temporarily dropped a Break test was required and this of of course failed in excellent style and the Redemptionists fled the scene. Though having caused some minor wounds on the Van Saar.

On the other side of the field the Goliath's advancing seemed to go pretty well much to everyone's surprise and even with the Cawdor Crag Rats doing lots of climbing and sniping and much sneakiness they went down pretty quickly to the Goliath might (though not as quickly as the Redemptionists) and the Goliath's turned and headed en-masse towards the Van Saar who were equally advancing across the gang ways though they used cover on the way.

Van Saar on the move
Goliath's use the unsubtle approach again.
The clash when it came was short lived and the shear numbers of the Goliath's worked in their favour and it wasn't long before the Van Saar had to make their break test and legged it too, leaving the Goliath's the victors of this Gang Fight.

Van Saar firing line
Over on the other table Kev's Cawdor had a very difficult time of it against the might of the fully equiped Eldar but he made a bold stand against them ducking and diving in cover but with only his leader really able to do any damage against the Xenos tide, the game was only going to end one way.

And end one way it did though they managed to last longer against the Eldar than the others did against the Goliath's so John's Eldar didn't have it all their own way.

A good start to the new Necromunda Campaign which will involve 10 main rounds with interspersed fill in one-on-one games in between so a maximun 19 games each before the Big Finale next year.

Next week, is my Round 2 game with Doug, Kev and Andy with a Scavenger scenario picked from the campaign ladder by the winner of the Round 1 Dave and his Goliath's. This should hopefully be reported quicker than Round 1.

Monday, 3 November 2014

In Her Majesty's Name Skirmish Rules

'In Her Majesty's Name' is another of the rule sets from the Osprey Wargame stable.

As a Steampunk skirmish set of rules, they did not immediately catch much of my attention, not because there is anything untoward about Steampunk or skirmish or the combination of the two but as the Steampunk genre has not been a part of my previous gaming activities, they just appeared on the radar as a blip and a nod towards the Foundry miniatures which were released at the time as the rules did, nothing more.

However, from their release a few months ago now, several members of my gaming circle had picked these up and raved about the possibilities that these rules offered which were much more than their cover title suggested. So they were duly picked to see what they actually had to offer.

The layout of the rules follows the current Osprey rules format including the cover layout, type face and numbered sections within the rules. The difference these rules has with some of the other titles in the series and the FoG titles is that there are none of the ubiquitous illustrations from the Ospreys back catalogue of historical titles, really for obvious reasons. There are however, a good number of characterful photo's of miniatures looking suitably rakish or dapper depending of which side of the great divide they fall into (supplied by the gaming worlds great and worthy, so suitable eye candy here), plus a number of quite nice illustrations by Mr Fab and Jesse McGibney both of whom capture the spirit of the rules quite nicely.

The body of the rules follows the usual layout of Introduction, Troop Classifications, Playing the Game, Setting up a game, and a couple of sections on weapons, machinery and powers which make up the rules as a whole and covers just short of half the 64 pages of the rules.

The next couple of sections cover a points system, and making up a sample 'company', then followed by a reasonable selection of scenario idea's, then a selection of possible scenario locations for idea's, and finally there is a short section on campaign's.The last couple of pages have the now required 'Quick Reference Sheet'.

The rule book is nice to flick through and as with all the Osprey sets, all the tables are clearly laid out and most bits are easy enough to find once you get the idea of play in mind, but my usual cry of 'Why no index?' once again rattles around the Warblogosphere.

The mechanics of the rules are reasonably simple but hold enough depth so that there's something to get your teeth into. With company members having a set of stats; Pluck, Shooting Value, Fighting Value and Speed and then what equipment they carry.

The rules are based around D10's, which I quite like as a whole, and success or failure of an action is based on a D10 roll plus the appropriate stat value modifer plus any variables. All pretty easy and familiar.

The real strength of these rules are really on the fact that they are set up as being a bit old school in that they are open ended and laid out as pushing the player to do with the rules what they may. They have given several starting idea's for companies so you get the picture but as the author's are obviously 'into' the genre, they encourage the player's to go with what their own inspiration is for gaming, not the authors idea of what they should do.

I can see why several of the guys at my club are enthusiastic about these rules. They play through well in terms of the basic mechanics of the rules but as a rule set themselves, add something to the mix that other rule sets don't; that being enough of Steampunk flavour to get you salivating so you want to make up the main course yourself, and a well thought out milieu and image that gets you hooked.

A nice set of rules all in all, and one which can easily be used for a multitude of settings and tastes. Roll on Space 1888 and 'Up the Khyber'.

These get an Excellent Warblog rating of 8 out of 10.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Kislevite Ice Witch

A bit of artwork here, which was done for myself by one of my siblings namely my daughter, in the form of a Kislevite Ice Witch.

She did the commission for me at my request as a piece to decorate the man-cave which will keep in with the coming season.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

More Perry Useful Plastics Coming

First shots of samples from the Perry's of their 'earlier than expected' frames of their 'Agincourt' Archers plastic box set. Apparently the Men at Arms frame is still being worked on but they look to be available Christmas time-ish. Suitable from 1380's through to 1440's they will be very useful indeed and excellent for conversions and additions. Should be another useful addition to theit Medieval ranges.
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