Happy Halloween!

This little gaunt was only a twinkle in the Hive Mind’s eye the first time I got into 40K. This time around, she’s almost old enough to be in charge of her own brood. It’ll probably be about 30 years before I let her read any of the fluff, though.

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The Best Strategy Guide Ever for Monopoly

Monopoly has earned its spot in gaming history and culture, but Beowulf or The Ilead of boardgames  it is not. This is a game that every gamer should play at least once, to experience a a connection with the history of this hobby, and then promptly shelve in order to move on to better games.

The glut of themed Monopoly games for practically every hobby, interest, and predeliction that exists speaks volumes about the level of sophistication that currently exists regarding board games in the culture at large (at least in the U.S.). Admittedly, many themed versions that exist are collector’s items, probably not intended to be played so much as to be simply acquired, an indicator of the subject’s popularity; you know that something’s big when there’s a Monopoly version of it.

Not only does this strategy guide tell you how to win, it explains how to do so in such a decisive, soul-crushing way that your friends will never want to play again, and that is the real victory in this scenario. Sometimes, it takes strong medicine to help people get better.

Of course, having now learned the secrets of how to win, I kind of want to play it again. Go figure.

Back In the Grimdark Saddle – Part 1

Despite my love for virtually all facets of tabletop gaming, my feelings towards Games Workshop have always been… mixed. I’m certainly not a Games Workshop fanboy; I’m not really even a loyal customer. My perception has always been that in the world of tabletop games, for better or for worse, Games Workshop stands apart. It’s always kind of felt like, generally, people who play RPGs, CCGs, and board games and who paint miniatures for RPGs intermingle in a shared space, while those who play Warhammer Fantasy or 40K occupy a separate space. This is only my own anecdotal experience, but for what it’s worth, Games Workshop’s own rulebooks refer not to the “tabletop wargaming hobby” as a whole, but to the Games Workshop hobby. (Of course, this is the same company that trademarked the term “Orc,” except spelled with a “k,” and would probably have you believe that “ultramarine” is a term that they invented.)

For a long time, I stayed within the confines of the first group. Games Workshop is a part of the landscape in the tabletop gaming world, so it’s easy to develop a passing familiarity and interest in the lore of both Fantasy and 40K, but I never wandered far off the reservation. However, the years of resisting the siren song in game shops and on the Internet finally wore me down, and I took the plunge about halfway through 5th edition, at the same time the new (at that time) Tyranid codex and models were released. It was rather fortuitous timing, because I had decided long before actually getting into 40K that Tyranids were my favorite, so I got to experience coming into the game when my chosen army was the flavor of the month. What was less fortuitous was the now generally agreed upon view that the 5th edition codex was pretty awful, making them a particularly bad choice for new players. I ended up playing less than a dozen games with the bugs, and got curb-stomped by mechanized lists in a good number of them.

I stuck with 40k for about two years, amassing a decent-sized collection of nids, then some Orks, and a few of the obligatory Space Marines. (Seriously, if you play 40k at all, you know that it’s practically impossible to not end up owning  at least a few Space Marines.) I started drifting away from the game around the release of 6th edition — not because of life circumstances, my poor win-loss record, or even due to the byzantine set of rules or expensive models, though these things did factor in to some degree. The single biggest reason I drifted away from Warhammer 40K is that I got burnt out on painting; I’ve come to realize that I really don’t like painting mooks. But if I’m going to paint a mini, even a mook, I can’t let myself do a crappy job. That’s not to say that every single miniature I paint represents my absolute best work, but even my tabletop-level termagants each take two hours or more to do.

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This is my version of tabletop quality. YMMV. And spinefists are the easiest weapon choice to paint, combat stats nonwithstanding.

After having spent hundreds of hours painting up enough minis to field small Tyranid and Ork armies (and a couple of squads of Space Marines), the prospect of having hundreds or even thousands more hours to go before I could field enough minis for more standard-sized games, especially when combined with the other forces pushing me away from the game, made 40K into something that I just didn’t find enjoyable anymore. A little over a year ago, I sold off the various codexes and back issues of White Dwarf that I had acquired, along with a good portion of the remaining unpainted minis I had. The last game I had actually played had been quite some time before that, and I haven’t played 40K since.

But a lot can change in a couple of years.

And once again, for various reasons, I find myself lured in by the sirens’ song.

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I hear that these guys ain’t too shabby in the current edition.

Ral Partha & Reaper Golems

Reaper is sometimes considered to be the spiritual successor to Ral Partha. In that vein, I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side of the four classic types of golems (flesh, clay, stone, and iron). Ral Partha on the left, Reaper on the right. The Ral Parthas were painted over twenty years ago now (clay and iron by me, flesh and stone by two of my friends at the time).The Reapers were painted much more recently and are from the first BONES kickstarter.

Paint schemes aside, I thought the similarities between the two versions of the flesh and clay golems were striking. You could make the argument that there are better analogs in Reaper’s catalog for the iron golem, but I went with this one because it was part of the kickstarter set.

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Desert Research Station WIP

A terrain piece I’m currently working on. I’m envisioning it as a desert research station and planning on using it for 40K Kill Team games (also working in painting up the Tau from that box set at the moment). The design may not be completely practical or realistic, but I had fun mashing up the sci-fi elements with the natural landscape.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Real-World Inspiration for GW’s Hive Cities?

I learn the most interesting things from the random stuff that shows up in my Facebook feed. Tonight I came across the Kowloon Walled City, a real place that existed in Hong Kong until it was demolished in 1993. No need to say much about it here since a simple search will yield enough info to keep you busy for hours, except that I strongly suspect that this was at least part of the inspiration for the hive cities in Warhammer 40k. Just look at the pictures to see what I mean.

 

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Real-life version

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Grimdark version

Of course, this being GW, they cranked things up to 11, with their version being populated by upwards of billions of inhabitants; the real-world version boasted a much more modest 33,000 at its peak. And there are probably lots and lots of skulls littering that thing too, you just can’t see them from this distance.