2016

I’ve not done ‘the meme thing’ since 2013… First of all, I had a bit of a blog break, and when I got back into it I just didn’t feel like answering all the questions there entirely truthfully. For a start, some of the questions were just a bit samey, and not much changed from year to year. I’m still not keeping up with new music, still not changed my style, etc… Other things, I have to keep confidential for important reasons.

So it feels less interesting than it could be. But, here I am, trying to get the blog back into a sort of shape. I did pretty well blogging every fortnight for a while. It was helped by a long train commute so there was plenty of time to put words in computers. Since I started a new job closer to home (and I travel by bus), that time has gone.

Still, I’m going to give blogging a go again, and in-between new posts I am trying to repair the old blog posts. More information on ‘what happened’ is going to come… soon.

2013

It’s that time of year again! I try to do this every year on the first day of the New Year. This year, I couldn’t be bothered, I felt like a bit of a rest before it’s gone up.

Did you enjoy this year?
On the whole, yes. Did a fair few new things.

What did you do in 2013 you’d never done before?
Been to a games tournament, won a games tournament, driven to Cardiff (almost one whole year after starting work there!), gone to a Roller Derby game, kept the blog updated regularly.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but I did have a secret resolution to update the blog regularly. I’ve managed to put up a new post every two weeks all year long, only being late by a day or two a few times, normally due to illness. And I have managed to be early on at least two occasions, by more than five days, so overall I’m still ahead.

In 2014, I’m going to try and keep that up – blogging is fun. I’m also going to try and get my painting table cleared, and get running (again). If I put my updates on the blog, I’ll be more motivated to actually keep it all going. Watch this space.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some of our friends did, yes!

Did anyone close to you die?
What a morbid question this is. Thankfully, no.

What countries did you visit?
I visited Wales – I normally just work there. I also visited Nottingham, and while it’s not another country I’ll count it. I am not a globetrotter.

What would you like to have in 2014 you lacked in 2013?
Some calm.

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 8th – I won the Cardiff Regional Championship! September 3rd – Freddy started school!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Today’s meme is brought to you by the ‘winning the Cardiff DreadBall Regional’ dead horse, pre-flogged for your convenience.

What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to play in the Ultimate Regional. Not running.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few times, normal minor illness things. Nothing horrific.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Nope, I am a healthy person. We went to hospital for Fred to have grommets put in, and again not long after for a biopsy.

What was the best thing you bought?
I didn’t buy anything this year, I think. Certainly nothing too big. I suppose the new printer will have to count by default.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Freddy’s behaviour improved a lot over the first two terms in school. His reading is shooting ahead, writing is catching up, and his silliness and outbursts are getting rarer and milder.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Freddy’s behaviour in the first term in school. It felt like there was no reason for it, and nothing we could do while he was at school to calm him down. About the only explanations we can think of is hospital visits or end-of-term tiredness. He sorted himself out though.

Where did most of your money go?
Into the mortgage, we didn’t really put anything anywhere else.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Freddy starting school. The Welsh Regional, and both of the Mantic Open Days. Getting my last DreadBall Kickstarter package.

What song will always remind you of 2013?
Lithuania’s awesome Eurovision entry, ‘We are the winners’.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? About the same.

ii. richer or poorer? About the same.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
More games! More games nights!

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I can’t really think of anything.

How did you spend Christmas?
Visiting family in Portsmouth.

Where did you ring in 2013?
At home, in bed, sleeping. We have two young kids and had to get to work after the new year!

What was your favourite TV programme?
We mostly watched Stargate SG-1 this year. Xena took a back seat because it was getting a little bit annoying with the Mongolian Amazons (and we had to sit around the computer, and the chairs aren’t good for Jen’s back).

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Well, Chris Grayling confounds me completely but I wouldn’t say I hate him.

What was the best book you read?
I don’t think I read a single book all year. It’s been a hard year to find time to read.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I just don’t get any new music this year. My friends started a band, their last one was awesome, but I haven’t heard any of it yet. Check them out and tell me what you think, they are called The Disfavoured Party.

What did you want and get?
A tournament win!

What did you want and not get?
A proper National tournament, as was planned for the middle of November. The venue flubbed and we didn’t get it.

How did you earn your keep?
Writing software for a law firm.

What was your favourite film of this year?
The World’s End. Hands down the best.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I spent the day before at the Welsh Regional, and the day of my birthday just chilling out at home with my mum visiting. I was twenty-nine.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning another tournament. I’m getting to be a bit of a junkie… Never being late with the blog, not even the once.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Too many holes, best buy something new. Get the same as what I just threw out.

What kept you sane?
As in previous years, this question makes an assumption.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Privatisation of the probation service. When the keynote address at a conference discussing it declares that it’s a terrible idea, and the minister in charge hides an MOJ report about it while repeating “I believe it will work so I’m going to do it” (a direct quote) and the companies trying to get the government contracts are already being investigated for fraud while carrying out other government contracts in the same area… You have to wonder, is this really a good idea?

Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of new people at tournaments, and in the Vanguard club leagues. All of them are awesome people. Some of these people I expect I’ll only see in Nottingham at Mantic Open Days!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Stay cool.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
WEEEEEEEE are the CHAMpyuns, my freeeeeeeeeeeee-ends…

What is the best thing that you were given?
My awesome metal pitch. It’s so pretty…

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I am not a generous person. I don’t think I gave anyone anything. I gave a bit to charity this year… but nothing personal that I remember. Ah well.

Mantic Open Day November 2013 & Gamers For Life Tournament

I wasn’t too sure about going to the second open day, until both a DreadBall tournament was scheduled and the Nationals were postponed as the venue couldn’t host it anymore. It looked a little shaky, but we got babysitters sorted so both Jen and I could make it. Then we dragged Oli into it too…

Jen decided quickly – Season One Corporation. That’s her favourite, and they’re almost ready. Oli has his favourite too, the Season Two Corporation. He told me that he couldn’t get his team painted in time though, so I offered to paint my second Corp team for him and finished it just two weeks before (not including highlighting, which is going to make a big difference). I took a long time to decide – I had four teams to choose from that were ready to take. The Veer-myn, Marauders and Z’zor are all finished or nearly finished, and the Judwan (while basic) are ready to take at least. I heard that there might be painting prizes, so I would rather take the Z’zor (my best painted team) but given that I still don’t think that my best will be good enough I settled with the Veer-myn. I’ve only taken them to one tournament (the Welsh Regional) but I really enjoy the fast teams over the bashy teams. I definitely need more practice before I take a bashy team to a tournament again.

While getting ready to go, and ordering our breakfast, we found out that as well as ourselves, our hotel was also hosting a couple of tournament players, a pathfinder and both the Scottish and Irish regional winners – what are the odds, three regional winners under the same roof! If we’d known, we’d have shared our three-player Ultimate game with them (as well as the vodka, beer and prawn crackers). Next year, there was a suggestion of getting in touch with the hotel and trying to book as a group to get a discount.

Game One – Craig Johnson’s Vanaheim Vixens (S2 Corporation)

My first game went very well – a landslide win! It wasn’t easy, and Craig was an expert with Running Interference. He used a couple of tricks I’d never seen before – if you run interference on someone when they move into the ball space and win, you can attempt to pick up the ball yourself. He even managed to kill a rat, which is pretty good going for humans.

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Craig went on to get second place and win best painted, and his models were so clean and clear I’m not surprised!

Game Two – Adam Cooper’s Marauders

I played Adam at the previous Mantic Open Day in May and it was good to see him again – it was also good to see his dice were on his team this time. Last time, he played Judwan while I took Marauders with an Offensive Coach. This time, he had Marauders with an Offensive Coach. The cards I picked up were almost useless, and the game devolved into a massive ruck behind my three point Strike Zone. For a fair portion of the game, there were no models on the opposite side of the pitch – including the ref and the ball!

Both of us used the referee to try and block avenues of escape – me to stop him getting to the three-point zone, and him to stop me getting the ball back to his half. A couple of times I did manage to break away and score to get a win.

Game Three – Matt Willis’s Marauders

After lunch, I played Matt and his Marauders. He bought an extra Orx, and lined up all four on the starting line. It didn’t look easy to break through. Luckily, they scattered fairly quickly and opened up the pitch. He played a heavy slamming game, and kept so many rats off of the pitch I had a tough time getting to the ball and scoring. For a couple of rushes, his Goblin held on to the ball and didn’t move at all, while the rats were being pummelled! In the end though, I managed to scrape enough points to get a win.

It was after this game, on table two, that I realised I might be in with a chance…

Game Four – Dan Porter’s Asterians

Table one, baby! This was the hardest game by far, and Dan had got here with three landslide wins. I got a bit of a pep talk going into the game, since of all 12 teams I’d not played with or against the Asterians before. Before taking any actions, he used Dirty Tricks and got my guard sent out of the game. That’s an incredible ability, and there is absolutely no defence against it (unless you are Zees).

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Dan used Taking a Dive really well, and I soon had a Striker out of the game too. I did get a hold of the ball fairly often, and had five strike attempts – four at three points, and one at one point. Guess which one actually worked. Dan had four successful attempts at two-pointers, and one failed at a three-pointer. Despite losing by a landslide, I felt at every point in the game that I could have brought it back – at first, I felt I could get a win, then a loss, and finally in rush 11 it was all over, although Dan had to Sneak to be able to do so. I think I played well, and if my dice had just behaved once I could have got something like a 5 point loss, or possibly even better.

Results

So Dan obviously took first place, with four landslide wins. Craig took second place and best painted, Oli got fourth, and I came fifth. Jen did fantastically – after getting Wooden Spoon in every tournament she’s been to, she had a perfectly even day with two wins (one being a landslide) and two losses (one being a landslide), putting her exactly halfway out of 27 players – fourteenth place. She managed to play two Nameless teams and a Teraton, as well as Marauders.

This time around, everyone had to provide their own pitch. This mean that I got to see a couple of Tesla Domes and the Mighty Dorx stadium, but unfortunately didn’t get to play on any of them. The Tesla pitches are especially nice, with a much better resolution than I expected – they are really clear and beautiful. If I didn’t already have three pitches, I’d be tempted!

There was a surprising mix of teams here – I expected more Asterians, like the Judwan flooded out in May, but there were only two teams. Void Sirens seemed strong again, and Nameless and Marauders were out a lot – which I honestly didn’t think that I’d see. I heard of one Forge Father player, but never saw them, and spotted Judwan and Robot players. There were also a couple of Teraton players. I was the only Veer-myn team. No Z’zor, no Zees – are people just picking teams alphabetically? The top five were a good mix of teams, with Asterians, two S2 Corporation, a Marauder team and my Veer-myn.

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Open Day

The Open Day itself was pretty amazing. Enough time was left between games that if you finished early, you could get to a seminar. Oli got to one in the lunch break, but I was hanging around for the Regional Ultimate so I missed it myself. There’s been mention of an online seminar for those that missed it though, so I think I might get in on it anyway. Jen’s game went on a bit too long for her to be able to reach it too.

After the first game, we walked around the halls. Mantic had invited other companies to show off their toys – Dropzone Commander and Bolt Action were both in attendance. Deadzone had a big presence, and I was extremely jealous of the Kickstarters who were picking up massive, massive boxes of plastic. There were literally hundreds of wide-eyed gamers hauling massive boxes, with a slightly disbelieving grin on their faces. It’s hard not to want to buy the lot there and then.

Loka was a surprise to me. As we passed their table, Oli took a look. I’d not cared too much for it when it was released because I’ve never liked Chess that much. But Alessio invited us for a game and being a long time Warhammer fan I couldn’t pass up the chance to play a game on the same team as him! The rules were surprisingly simple, the game is really quick to play, and it nearly swayed me. Oli was heard through the rest of the day saying “I love Loka. I want to buy Loka. I can’t get Loka. Should I get Loka? Loka is amazing. What will my wife say if I buy Loka? I can’t buy Loka. I won’t buy Loka. I just bought Loka.” I have to admit, it’s a really nice game. I was told that they sold out a couple of times through the day, it was just flying off the shelves.

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Before the final game, I asked James Hewitt (Mantic’s Community Manager) if there would be time to see the shiny new models at least after the last game. He made a quick phone call, then told us he’d come get us later. True to his word, he brought us to the main room where Silvain, Mantic’s sculptor, had just brought over some of what everyone else was drooling over for us to take a look at. I even got to hold the Zombie Troll Shaman, and I want that model so bad it hurts. I don’t even care what game it is for. We got close up to the resin masters for the DreadBall Convicts and Brokkrs too, and they look absolutely amazing. When the next round of Kickstarter comes around, I am going to be so out of pocket. So for that, unseen internet thanks to James and Silvain! Sorry to everyone else for not taking a picture. But not that sorry.

James clearly takes his role as Community Manager extremely seriously. When he was explaining how to get to the pub for post-Open Day chill-out, I asked “Is it walkable?” For the second time that day, he didn’t answer the question. He said “Hang about, and I’ll give you a lift.” He ended up making two trips to take happy gamers to beer! There’s a man who cares about the gamer community, and makes Mantic fans very happy.

Other people have already got their Open Day news up – I suggest you read the Daily Punter (who won second place in the DreadBall tournament), Tiny Tactics and Afternoon Tea, GMort’s Chaotica, see the Facebook event pictures, the new UK & Ireland Ultimate DreadBall Champion’s blog (and another one here) and read Mantic’s blog about the day. Beasts of War covered the day too, mostly interested in the new Deadzone stuff, and in the background of their video you can see the three of us many times (many, many times).

Regional Ultimate

I found out more about the Regional Ultimate on the day, although only from another regional winner. It didn’t seem terribly well planned or publicised, and started 25 minutes late – meaning instead of leaving halfway through to get to my next tournament game, I wouldn’t even be able to start. I was told that it wouldn’t clash, but I preferred to go for the standard games than the big one.

The Regional Ultimate was a multiplayer game between the Midlands, Scottish, Irish and another English Regional Winners and in the end, Ireland won!

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I did get the opportunity to pick up my metal pitch – it is awesome! I have made two rash promises that I don’t know if I’ll keep yet – first, that only painted models can go on it; second, that it will not cross the border into Wales. Hopefully that will convince some Welsh people to come out to win it next year!

What’s Next?

Mantic are apparently moving into the abandoned hospital, hopefully they’ll get plumbing, lighting and heating in there throughout next year. With the offices in the same space getting a studio tour should be easier for us hardcore DreadBallers, and the lighting in some of the rooms was only barely adequate. It was clearly only temporary, and will be better next time. They have a rough plan to hold an Open Day in May again, and maybe next November too. If they make it a DreadBall tournament too, we’ll be there!

It was an improvement on the last Open Day in that there was time for the tournament players to see some of the other stuff, it looks like Mantic are definitely listening to feedback. It’s a shame that the DreadBall tournament was off in a side room this time but after the first game, I didn’t notice it.

I met so many lovely, amazing people. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and welcoming gamers are, and how I never see any of the real horror stories of tournaments. Even the top tables of the DreadBall tournament were, in my opponent’s words, just like club games. Jen found people giving her advice during and after games, and gave some herself, and we all learned a lot from our games. I cannot stress enough to anyone on the fence that they should drag themselves to a Mantic Open Day tournament – whether or not they have been to a local tournament or not, and whether or not they liked it. They’re such fun, and everyone is wonderful. Don’t worry about being new, I played a guy in his seventh game ever and a couple of the players had only played once or twice before. They had a blast!

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Next time, I’m going to have to either convince a real photographer to let me borrow their camera, or to come along themselves. A camera phone really doesn’t do justice to some of the awesome stuff on display.

Firestorm Games – Welsh Regional Heat

Plotting and Planning

This is going to be the last of my tournaments for the ‘Spring of DreadBall’ in 2013 – there may be something going on towards the end of the year, but it’s time to chill out for the summer and try some other teams out.

I think for Firestorm, I’m going to try something different. I’ve had acceptable results with the Marauders, but they suffer in that their Jacks are unable to get the full utility that a Striker can – both in losing dice and losing mobility. They have a maximum of one hex movement on a throw, and that one hex loses them a dice. A Striker on any other team can move up to four hexes (bare minimum, most teams are five or more) and that reduces their dice to that of a stationary Jack. The goblin Jack’s chances of slamming are significantly lower than of dodging, so I have been using them mostly as surrogate Strikers.

Looking at their disadvantages and considering the meta-game (Judwan and Corporation heavily in attendance in tournaments so far), I think it might be worth trying the Veer-myn. They have the same speed and distance of a Judwan, same bonuses (being Strikers) and both their Guards and Strikers can dodge well while defending the three-point strike zone. They have capable guards able to disrupt a defensive formation and open the opportunities for a 4-point strike.

I can’t work out the best combination of advances for them – extra ranks on the Strikers would be a good thing, to try and counteract their Skill of 5 (raise it to 4, get A Safe Pair of Hands, etc.) but they could also benefit heavily from coaching dice. I don’t think that cards or coaches are really too necessary, since they are accomplished dodgers (don’t need a defensive coach) and really fast (less need for the extra actions of an offensive coach or a card action). Maybe following Oli‘s pattern of four ranks on Strikers to make a copycat Judwan team, since at least one of them should get a Skill upgrade and one of them get A Safe Pair of Hands. With three players standing behind to guard the three-point strike zone, I think it might even pay to have two Strikers with two advances each – this almost guarantees that they will each get Skill 4+, and combine their upfront offense with a single Guard. Leaving three Strikers to defend the strike zone means there’ll be one Guard up front and one in reserve, so combining a Striker’s threat hex with a Sucker Punch slam won’t be as risky since if it works, I am forcing opposing Guards (the most dangerous on a non-Judwan team against this tactic) to dodge on 2 dice against a 5-dice slam. If the fouling Guard is sent off, the reserve Guard can come on and play it slightly safer for a turn or two.

Having played a couple of practice games with that setup, I think it is a winnable tactic. The three blockers at the back are not going to keep it closed forever – consistent, sustained Misdirect actions will move one of the blockers. In one practice game, it was open for a single turn and let two three-pointers through! On the other side of the board, my Guard was not performing well but I put that down to bad dice rolling. I think I need to react better to my opponent’s play style – if they are sitting on the DB1 hex, I need to keep the Guard there to put a threat hex on that spot. If they are blocking the strike zone bonus hexes, I need to get one of them open and try and get the Guard back to the DB1 hex. And if the Guard is trying to smash something that can dodge well, I need to use my forwards to threaten the target.

The Day

It was slightly disappointing, only four players turned up – Jen and myself, and Liam and Tom from the Bristol Blitz tournament at Vanguard. We were told that the top four players qualified for the nationals in Essex later this year, so congratulations to everyone just for turning up! There was plenty still to play for though…

Game 1 – Liam’s Z’zor

I was terrified – I’d never played Z’zor before, and Liam is a really strong player. I set up exactly to plan. Liam’s dice hate him though, and his players failed to score (despite trying) – I knew that Z’zor Strikers had poor skill, but I didn’t realise they had average speed (I thought they were slow). I managed to get a landslide win in about rush 11 or 12.

Game 2 – Tom’s Corporation

I hadn’t played Tom at the Bristol Blitz. but I knew that he had learned a lot from that game and to be on my guard. My skill increases were very useful, and I managed to (for the second time) get my three-pointer on the first rush. On the second, I got another one and (without realising it) had left a Veer-myn on the second ball launch hex on the off-chance of catching a launched ball on his turn. I did, and thought “oh, my best chances are for a single point, and every little helps”. I scored the point, looked up and Tom was offering me his hand. I checked the board and realised that was a landslide win in the fifth rush! I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself as we headed outside for a nice barbecue and long lunch.

Game 3 – Jen’s Corporation

Jen and I play each other all the time. On the one hand, I know everything that she will do but on the other,  she knows everything I will do. And I explained my strategy in detail to her last week to try and get ideas on how people might beat it.

Once more, I got the first-turn three-pointer but Jen scored two points in her first rush – the first time I had been scored against. By rush eight, however, I got back the landslide win.

Game 4 – Liam’s Z’zor rematch

Liam had been learning how to use the Z’zor over the course of the tournament – he had beaten Jen in the second game, making great use of the powerful Z’zor Guard to keep the majority of her team on the injury shelf during the game. He took the same aggressive tactic against Tom in the third game, and me in the final game. My two powerful Strikers were put out quickly, and my Guard was killed in the first few turns. Thankfully he wasn’t any good at scoring again (the Striker’s low skill being a particular pain), and after losing one of my Striker’s to total death (and a lot of lucky Evade rolls around a Z’zor Guard with 360 vision) I pulled another landslide win in the last few rushes.

The Aftermath

Four landslide victories and only four players – I won!

Tom came second (one landslide win, one win, one loss and one landslide loss), Liam came third (two wins, two landslide losses and Jen unfortunately came last again (two losses, two landslide losses). There’s additional report on the tournament from Pathfinder Pete who kept it all running and organised, with pictures of us all and a picture of me holding a picture of the pitch I will receive! All of our teams were photographed for the blogs – and I was ashamed that my Veer-myn weren’t finished yet. Some parts are clearly in need of some work. I’m feeling suitably guilt-tripped into getting at least one team finished this year, and I think the Veer-myn have earned the right to be it!

I was trying to work out the scores after the third game and I thought I had almost won, depending on who won Liam and Tom’s game. And I won! I get a free ticket to the nationals (as opposed to simply qualifying, it probably only saves £15) and a metal pitch with the event name and my name engraved on it. That’s going to be amazing, I was completely over the moon. There was a scaled down picture of the pitch that wasn’t terrifically clear, and be assured I will be swamping this blog with pictures as soon as it arrives.

So what’s next? Bristol Vanguard have a league starting soon and are planning another event in August, and I’ve obviously got the Nationals to look forward to November. If I’d only qualified I might have considered whether or not to go, but since I won a free ticket I’m really excited to actually go along and see how I do against more talented players than myself. Jen isn’t interested in this one – it’s a bit far to go and we’d then have to get babysitters for a whole weekend which makes things more complicated. Once the new pitch arrives, I might set up a private event too to show off and celebrate –  I don’t know when yet, it’ll be nice to scale back and hit the painting/hobby side for a while. I’’l have to ramp up my practice before November though, I know that the competition will be tough!

Bristol Blitz 2013

Thoughts Before

The Bristol Blitz, my second tournament, is in one week (as of writing) and is hosted at Vanguard Wargaming. As soon as we finished the ManticBowl, I wanted to be at another tournament. I fell for tournament play hard.

This time, we have convinced Oli to come out with us – he’s one of the first people that I introduced to DreadBall, and the one who has come back for more (though in fairness, he lives closer than almost all of the others and has his own transport). Although he plans to get his own kit, he’ll be borrowing a team for this tournament.

So just like pushing to try and get the Corporation ready in time for the ManticBowl, I’ll be pushing to try and get the Judwan ready in time for the Bristol Blitz (and therefore leave the finishing touches on all the other teams for another day…)

The rules pack is based on the ManticBowl pack, with a couple of tweaks. The biggest two are the tournament points system and the “Secret Objectives”. At the Bristol Blitz, tournament points are all one higher than at ManticBowl and even a loss will give you a point – and in addition, conceding a game will be penalised. I’m not sure what the purpose of this rule is, but it’s being organised by veteran Blood Bowl players so maybe that’s something they’ve gotten used to over the years.

I noticed that “painted teams” was clarified in the Bristol pack as being “three colours” – ManticBowl just required painted models, and I did see a Z’zor team that appeared to be sprayed a single colour. I didn’t get close enough to be able to tell for certain though, that’s what it looked like from 6 feet away.

The Day

Well, Secret Objectives turned out to be… difficult to balance. The organisers said that this was the only game system for which their secret objectives didn’t work. In the end, they decided to drop them from the tournament.

It was a much smaller and laid-back affair than the ManticBowl. There were only six players overall (including myself, Jen and Oli!) so the tournament pack wasn’t adhered to slavishly (I noticed one team had only been undercoated in purple) and the Swiss system essentially meant that in the final round, we could either avoid duplicate matchups (meaning the top player played the bottom player) or follow Swiss matchings (so at least two games would be duplicates). We went for avoiding duplicates, but Jen and I played each other again – in fairness, neither of us remembered that we played each other in the first game, and even Oli thought that he’d played Jen that day! (turns out that he had, game two – which just confused me and Jen further!)

As for teams, Jen took roughly the same Corporation as she did to the ManticBowl (moving the skills from Jacks to Strikers), I took Marauders again (this time with an offensive coach and two coaching dice) and Oli took Judwan with four skill increases. Between them, the other players took two Corporation teams (one from each season) and a Judwan team.

Game One – Jen’s Corporation

In my defence for remembering nothing about this game, I play Jen all the time. The only thing that I remember about it is setting a net of goblins that she kept falling over in. It ended as a win to me.

Oli did get a quick snap for evidence of our first game though:

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I will be taking better notes next time!

Game Two – Liam’s Judwan

I found the Judwan frustrating – I got a landslide loss against them. The game was going well for the first half, as I had completely blocked off the three-point strike zone, although I wasn’t able to score points myself due to awful luck (every single scatter in the game moved the ball closer to my strike zones) and excellent double-up misdirects from the aliens. The most-used action was Steal, as we attempted to get the ball back off each other – with goblins and Judwan, this can take a while and often three actions in a single rush were all Steals! When I brought on an extra player to get the ball back from the far end of the pitch, one of my blockers was sent off from the three-point strike zone and from then on, I found it difficult to recover.

Game Three – Cai’s S2 Corporation

Cai was new to the game, and managed to beat me (although not by a landslide). Good use of Running Interference and blocking the bonus point hexes put me at a disadvantage, as well as forcing all of my coaching dice out early. We finished in good time, and I spent the rest of the game watching Oli and Liam’s “Jud-off” – despite predictions of a dull and quick game, they found instead that the score varied constantly, the Judwan caught the ball from launching and scored over and over again. In the end, Oli managed to scrape a win – his first non-landslide of the day and Liam’s first loss of the day. He had been lucky with his skills and extremely lucky with his dice (the cry of “Stop rolling sixes!” was especially memorable).

Game Four – Jen’s Corporation again

This game was over fairly quickly. I managed to score 3 three-pointers against Jen’s three-pointer, then knock a single point in near the end of the game to grab a landslide win. Again, I play Jen all the time so I don’t remember too much about this game. Again, the action was all happening at Oli’s table where he was playing Tom’s S1 Corporation. The score had gone back and forth, Tom had injured some Judwan, and in the end it was three points up to Tom in his final turn. He got the ball all the way to the four-point hex with a Jack, although a couple of us realised that if he had dashed the previous turn he could have had two dice to throw with instead of just one. He had no coaching dice left. Last action, last turn, he rolled… a three. We all breathed out. Then he said “Wait! That was Petrosky…” – he’d named his whole team – “And Petrosky has a skill of 3!”

So the Judwan were beaten by a landslide from a lucky four-pointer at the end of the last game! So exciting, we all cheered, including Oli.

Thoughts After

Well, despite the last-minute landslide loss, Oli came out in first place! I was really pleased that he did so well in his first tournament, since I’ve been pretty much been his only opponent up till now (he described his first and only game against Jen a week ago as his first “real” game, because he didn’t count our games!) and he won a team of his choice (it was Judwan). I spent some time after the tournament explaining modelling, mould lines, painting basics etc. and referred him to better painters than I am.

I managed to come fourth, and Jen unfortunately came last. She did beat Tom in her third game, and I think gave him a few tips which proved useful against Oli in his last game.

The next day, we went to see a friend and teach him and his ten-year-old son how to play – they’re going to pick it up later in the year as well. Between myself and friends, we’ll have plenty of boards and teams to play a decent mini-event between ourselves at some point. I’ll need to practice though, if I want to come in the top half!

I think my next step will be to play against Oli’s Judwan as much as I can for the next two weeks, to get ready for the tournament in Cardiff on June 8th. I’m sure there’ll be a few more Judwan there.

After Cardiff, I don’t know about any other tournaments in the South-West – it’s not always easy to find that sort of thing if you’re not already in a club. I might just relax and get on with painting, and take a break from Marauders to try some of the Season two teams. I’d like to see how the Z’zor work, and experiment with the Robots a bit.

ManticBowl 2013

The ManticBowl! My first tournament! I’ve never been to a tournament before, not for any game. I’ve played in a single league outside of my house, and a couple of games of Warhammer in a couple of clubs over the last fifteen years. That’s pretty much enough to qualify as ‘I only play against my friends’. Since I got the free ticket with the Kickstarter, I thought it would be nice to treat Jen to a weekend away and get her a ticket too!

Thoughts before

I’ve heard about Warhammer tournaments for a long time on podcasts, and was tempted to join in on one of those (not fancying my chances very much though) but DreadBall is new and exciting, and I feel more able to play well. That being said, I’m not getting cocky. I’ve heard that there are 28 contenders in the tournament, and Jen and I are two of those. I’d like to come in around 25th or better – not aiming particularly high, I know, but almost everyone that I’ve played against is someone that I’ve taught the game and apart from the league games (one win, one landslide loss) I’ve been advising my opponent on tactics and the rules. I don’t know how good my tactics are!

On top of that, I only got my Season Two pack a week ago. We’ve had no time to play against the new teams, and from what I’ve seen in the forums the Judwan are going to take some work to take down. We were planning to get some practice games in but it looks like the only time that we’ll get to play against each other (the first time in many, many weeks) is going to be in the hotel tomorrow night.

One thing that’s been occupying me for the last week is painting. I asked Jen what she wanted to play of our two-and-a-half painted teams, and she said Corporation. The completely unpainted team. I have a colour scheme that I wanted to use for the S2 models but not one for the S1. When the new models arrived, I built up an S1 team with S2 models (ensuring I had enough models in two piles to assemble both an S1 or S2 team in two different colour schemes) and have been painting furiously to get them ready in time. I’ve missed off a lot of the highlighting, but I’ve been trying to work carefully and make a good job of it. I’ve got them to a point where they would be acceptable for tournament entry, even though there is plenty more work in highlighting to do on them. I’m so happy with how they’ve turned out, I’m jealous of Jen taking them!

The last thing to worry about is that we don’t have all the required materials that the tournament pack lists. We only have one copy of the game, so we only have one rulebook, one refbot and one pack of cards. Apparently both players should be bringing this stuff, but the only thing that I have in multiple is a pitch (MDF pitch, started to paint it but no details done yet). Hopefully our opponents will be able to fill in the gaps and the tournament organisers will be tolerant.

Jen is just worried that she doesn’t know the rules enough, so I guess I know who will be taking the rulebook!

The day

Apologies for not remembering more about my games – after the tournament we went to the cinema, had a meal out, then back to the hotel to plough through a bottle of wine. It was a real whirlwind of a day. I ended up taking my Marauders, with two extra coaching dice (the maximum allowed) and an advance on a Jack.

Game 1

My first game was against a Forge Father player named Tristan (Golden Forge Guardians, placed 25th). They were painted black and gold. My Jack got a skill advance, but got injured and never got around to using it! The memorable moment was realising that the bloodthirsty Forge Fathers had put everyone in the sin bin except a single lone guard in my last rush! Seeing where the ball was, I took out my only sub (a Jack) and defended the two closest strike zones and hoped he didn’t have good cards. In his last rush, he managed to get all the way to the 4-point bonus hex, he shot and… missed! There was a little back and forth, but I ended up winning by 2 points.

Jen played a Corporation team, and lost by a landslide.

Game 2

I felt really bad for my opponent in the second game – a Judwan player named Adam (Aryes Grey Basterds, placed 23rd), who had borrowed a friend’s blue, white and red Judwan. His dice were definitely against him, and with a few rounds of dropping the ball and failing catches, I think he only managed to score once. He had set up a chain of passing which worked beautifully, double successes all the way to the three point zone, and if it had worked it would be a play that was talked about in history. His last player failed to catch the ball (needing one 4+ on any of three dice!), and it scattered… back to his other strikers, who failed to catch it and it scattered… all the way back to where it started.

My goblins picked it up and took it to a landslide win. At lunch, I looked around the shop but I didn’t see any dice. I think I owed the guy a new pack, since his dice deserve to be destroyed for their betrayal.

Jen played another Corporation team, and lost by a landslide again.

Game 3

Buoyed up by my good results so far, I got quite close to the top table. It was either table 3 or 4, if I recall correctly. Jen had gone down to the bottom table already. I played a Corporation player named Gary (Cryotek Hornets, placed 11th), whose team were painted in yellow with black and white stripes. He spent most of the early game ganging up on my guys and tag-teaming slams. There was a little back and forth, but his big strike zone at the end (my favourite target) was too well defended to do much with. I ended up losing by 5 points.

Jen played against a Marauder team this time (Hyson Green Smack Fiends, placed 26th), but lost by a landslide again.

Game 4

This was the most exciting game of all. I played against Carl (aka @athousandhats) fielding a Corporation team with an assistant coach (Crashtek Wreckers, placed 8th), and realised just how useful they would be (I almost brought one, but didn’t have any painted yet). This team was also painted yellow, and was probably the best painted team I played against. There was so much going on the whole game – it went back and forth so many times, neither team getting more than two points on the other. We both scored a lot.

He had a Striker with A Safe Pair of Hands (I’d been lucky and got it for the first time today too, but that Jack spent his time mostly injured!) on the ball entry hex, and caught it a couple of times. As I was two points up in his penultimate rush, I used a Running Interference card to at least try and move the Striker so they couldn’t catch the ball… and ended up getting six successes (from three dice!) against his two to dodge! He saved a couple, but was no longer a threat. By this time, we were one of the last games playing.

In my final rush, I failed to get the ball far enough out of the way and he managed to pass it round the back of my Orx guarding the big strike zone to score three points. Every other game had finished, and the time was almost up, but it was our last rush so the TOs and a couple of spectators were crowding at this point. He got the three-pointer, and showboated, and took the score back to 1pt in his favour.

I have honestly never enjoyed a game of DreadBall more than that one – Carl knew the rules well, and played fantastically, he was a good fun guy to chat through all the way through and he was just as buzzed about how the game was going as I was. I think the benefits of a Swiss tournament system mean that you should end up playing someone who is around your level, and in DreadBall that means that it will normally be a close and exciting game.

Jen was still on the bottom table, and the downside of the Swiss system is that she was playing the same opponent again – but she didn’t lose by a landslide! She lost by 6 points. She also helped her opponent (Jona) to win Bloodiest Coach, because most of his kills had come from her team.

Thoughts after

I loved it! I want to go again! I will be going again next year, hopefully. Jen enjoyed herself despite coming bottom of the whole thing, and everyone commented on what a good sport she was. Mantic even gave a prize to the bottom player – a copy of Dwarf King’s Hold, with the tongue-in-cheek comment that maybe she should try a different game. That being said, they were really nice and we would be welcomed  back again. All her opponents were friendly, and she said they offered her tips after the games. The TO, James, even came over to check how she was doing in the last two games, and brought her over to my table at the end of the last game because it was so exciting!

As far as results go, I came 17th and Jen came 29th. One player disqualified himself and told the judges that because he had been playing coaches wrong and giving himself an unfair advantage, all his opponents should get a landslide win against him. They agreed, and that’s why Jen came 29th out of 30. If he hadn’t have done that, I would have come 16th and Jen would have come 30th. I really like the honesty and sportsmanship involved – it shows that everyone else was just there to have a laugh and a good time playing as well. Having analysed the final results, if my opponent in the last game hadn’t scored that final strike, I would have placed a lot higher – but that’s the way things go!

We’re both looking forward to trying out Dwarf King’s Hold, and I’ve skimmed over the rules. I don’t know if we’ll get a chance to play it yet though, as I’ve totally got the tournament bug now and with 2 more tournaments in the next four weeks, I want to get a lot more practice in and potentially paint another team (since we’ve convinced @lordscree to join in the Bristol Blitz).

Overall, I’m finishing off this blog post two days after the event and I am still buzzing. Maybe that’ll calm down as I get more used to tournaments, but for now all I want to do is play DreadBall and get back to another tournament. I know I won’t be able to go to too many out-of-town events because of the need for babysitters, but I might look at travelling a little further afield in the Wiltshire, Devon, South Wales or even possibly Hampshire and London areas (if we can attach ourselves to friends and family out there).

The biggest downside is that we missed a lot of the Open Day stuff, but I had so much fun I don’t really care. I don’t have time to play DeadZone or Kings of War, and I don’t want to buy any more stuff. I looked around at some of the professionally painted models, which was amazing and intimidating, but it just makes me want to try harder. Waiting in the queue for food meant that we missed the seminar, but again we just milled around and chatted to the other players.

We will be going again! As long as babysitters, accommodation and transport can all align, we will definitely be going back. I encourage anyone else who can make it to do the same!

Vanguard Dreadball League

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I was tempted to step up and start some DreadBall community in Bristol, since no-one else had done so and the nearest tournament, official or widely announced, was in Milton Keynes. The ‘Southern’ regional heat was somewhere out East somewhere, and pretty much useless for much of what I think of as the South region (anywhere from Bristol out to Brighton and beyond).

Conveniently for me and my sanity, the Welsh regional heat was arranged in Cardiff. Since I commute there every day it’s not a big problem for me to travel out that far. Not long after that someone got in touch with me on the Mantic forums to tell me about a new wargaming venue in Bristol called Vanguard Wargaming, with an active community who were really getting buzzed about Dreadball.

They were starting a league, and I wanted to join a league, and so I signed myself and Jen up for it! It means that quite often, we’ll probably not be there together (children need watching) and as they are fortnightly rounds there will probably be one day every week that we don’t see each other. But it will be good for both of our playing to be able to play other people. In between league rounds, we can play friendly matches against each other too. We’ve gone through three of the four planned rounds so far, and I’ve been putting match reports on every game I’ve played on the Vanguard Wargaming forums.

Round One

Marauders vs. Corporation (Pete vs Jen, friendly)

We had a friendly game to start off the season, but the term ‘friendly’ is a bit of a misnomer. Marauders took the first rush and by the third action a human striker was already being recycled.
The game went back and forth with a number of small goblin strikes balanced by larger human ones. In desperation, a lone goblin sat on the human entry hex to block reinforcements coming on while the ref was occupied at the high-point strike zone on the far end of the pitch, avoiding the Eye in the Sky and driving the humans mad with fury (and hell hath no fury like a woman stalled…)
In the final rushes, the goblin Jack left the entry hex to avoid being called out and the goblins were 4 points up. But in the final human rush, another 4 pointer brought the game into sudden death!
Sudden death was thankfully short, as the goblins grabbed the newly launched ball and scored a single point to tip the game to their favour.
In the aftermath, one Orx guard was voted Man of the Match and promoted to a Keeper while a human striker increased in rank and gained the Roll skill.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Hung, league)

First league match, and my first ‘mirror-match’ – Marauders vs. Marauders! Thankfully, not both in the same colours. Hung’s Yellows lined up with 3 Orx and 3 goblins, and my Reds faced them with 1 Orx and 5 goblins.
The first six rushes saw a lot of fighting, but not a lot of injury. The ball was picked up, stolen, slammed and dropped, picked up again, but never got further than 2 hexes from the centre line.
Finally, one of the Red goblins grabbed the ball and made a break for the 3-pointer zone. Two Yellow Orx were knocked down and pinned by the starting line for several rushes while the scrum was sorted out and broke off a bit.
The Reds scored two 3-pointers, then Yellows took the ball for a 4-pointer to bring the score back to 2-0.
In the final turns, the Reds brought in another Orx to replace an injured goblin and got a few back slams on the Yellow Orx – killing one! Despite sucker punches from both sides, the refs were content to let greenskins murder each other with complete abandon.
Just before the end, the Reds got another 3-pointer and a tense moment based around the high-point strike zone prevented a Red landslide in the final rush. Final score: 5-0.
Dave’s Yellows had awful luck, and my Reds were unusually lucky – no player on either side spent more than a single rush injured, both refs missed everything, and goblins dodged left, right and all over the place.
Man of the Match went to a Yellow goblin, and two Red goblins got advances (one Skill advance, one Safe Pair of Hands).

Corporation vs. Corporation (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

Not much of a league report here – Jen couldn’t make her game, and in the interest of time they agreed to count the game as a draw.

Round Two

Corporation vs. Marauders? (Jen vs. Skindog, league)

I wasn’t here to watch this one, but from what I can tell Skindog had awful luck – dropping the ball two rushes in a row. Jen ran all over him to get a landslide by the 6th or 7th rush.

Marauders vs. Marauders (Pete vs. Chillydogg, league)

My second league game was really forward and back. Both of us had moments of terrible luck, and points were it could have swung the other way, but the dice were against us. I set up the same as I did for the game against Hung, with 5 jacks and 1 guard. Kev lined up against me with 2 jacks and 4 (!) guards – it was even more extreme than the match-up against Hung!

I scored 3 points in the first time and started juggling my goblins up to the top scoring zone and back. Despite having 4 guards against me, I only had a couple of jacks out injured at a time and no-one on my side died. Just like every other game in this league, I killed one of the opposing team – this time, it was an Orx guard. He had extra anyway. The ball was constantly being dropped and carried back and forth, but on it’s travels it scored a 2-pointer and two 4-pointers for Kev’s visiting team to end the game in a landslide against me in the 9th rush.

Round Three

Unfortunately, interest fizzled out in round three as the final pairing found it difficult to organise their game and everyone was waiting on tenterhooks for Season 2 models and rules. It was decided that as a practice run, Season 1 was a success and we would begin a new league with Season 2.

What’s Next?

I enjoyed the club, and will be jumping in on their Season 2 league when it starts. From what I could gather, there’s going to be a different structure, where a game night is picked and everyone plays as many times as they like/can in that evening. At the end of the round, the best 3 games are submitted for your score (so obviously, it helps to play more games to have a larger pool to choose from). I’m not sure what team I would pick in Season 2 – perhaps the Judwan, since they are playing a passing, dodging game which is how I am trying to play the Marauders at the moment.

Second Games Night of 2013

We recently hosted our second games night of the year. Unlike the last one, where we started early and crammed in many many short games throughout the day, this games night was mostly taken up with long games.

The day began with a long game of Warhammer for Jen’s Vampire Counts against Dan’s Warriors of Chaos. She did relatively well, although I believe her spell choices were poor (despite having two doubles, she did not choose Hellish Vigour or Vanhel’s Danse Macabre!). The Terrorgheist at least survived the battle, and was last seen chomping through the back of a unit of Chaos Knights. Although we couldn’t work out victory points due to time, we eyeballed it and decided it was probably a minor victory for the Warriors of Chaos.

Once that was finished, I pounced on some of our new players (while the turnout was still fairly low) to teach DreadBall. That game was cut short by departures, but more players arrived at the same time so we reset the board and played again. This is the first time I think someone I’ve shown DreadBall would not play again, probably because the rules were not grasped as quickly as people usually do. It was an exciting game though, with the Corporation player scoring 5 points throughout the game despite the Forge Fathers keeping at least two of them injured at any time and, by the end of the game, killing three! In the final two turns, the Forge Fathers scored a 4-pointer and a 2-pointer to bring it back to 1 point in their favour. The Corporation player got the ball to the 2-pointer spot, and the whole game essentially came down to the final roll – two dice, requiring at least one 4+. And they flubbed it, the Forge Fathers win!

I love exciting games like that, and we had everyone present hanging on the outcome of that final roll. One old friend noticed that DreadBall is very much like ice hockey, which is interesting considering the game mechanics were originally designed for hockey or a hockey-like game. It’s a good way to get her into it again some time!

Once that long game of DreadBall was out of the way, we brought out Kill Doctor Lucky as a nice, simple, uncomplicated game for two rounds. The first was over quickly as over-ruthless bluffing let a murder attempt through without challenge (Tight Hat killer!), and the second was surrendered to the victor as she had 24 spite tokens to a combined total of 1 spite token across 5 other players and she had a car waiting for her outside for 20 minutes while she tried to turn that into a win! We gave her the win, and retired for the night.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to play so much, I think that was my fault for pushing a 2-player game onto people who weren’t quite used to tactical/strategic games, and I was going slowly myself because of the huge amounts of overtime I’ve been doing in work recently. I was exhausted way before the end of the night!

I’m not sure when the next games night will be – we’ve got a busy calendar ahead of us with DreadBall tournaments and the like, and I’d like to squeeze in a movie night at some point. The top candidate for that one would be the blu-ray box set of Resident Evil or new Batman trilogy that I picked up for Jen’s birthday/Christmas last year.

(Oh yeah, and we all lost the game)

Defence of the Northern Watchtowers

I’ve been itching to get back to regular Warhammer games for a while now, spurred on by listening to podcasts like Bad Dice and Garagehammer, and by some of the awesome new plastic kits that have been produced for the recently updated armies.

Luckily, I have a good friend in the same boat who just bought the new Warriors of Chaos book and wanted to take it for a test drive! I asked for a 2000pt game so that I could get a feel for the rules again, since it’s been at least a year since my last 8th edition game, but I was convinced into going for 3000pts. I’m glad that I did, I got to put in all the toys I wanted short of a dragon!

For my army list, I took heavy inspiration from the advice of Ben Curry on Garagehammer. Units of 30 in horde formation, Death Hag with a Cauldron of Blood and Battle Standard Bearer, and Shadow magic on a level 4 Sorceress. I also took a level 2 Sorceress with Metal magic, just in case I encountered Chaos knights.

The scenario was a Pitched Battle, and we had an Altar of Khaine on the table – it was very quickly decided that Chaos Warriors were invading Naggaroth from the North, and the Dark Elves were defending. We don’t go in for complex stories for our games, but a bit of context rather than ‘we wanted a rumble’ or ‘I’ve got all these toy soldiers’ improves the game quite a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how well it turned out. Whenever I eschewed the Cauldron’s 5+ ward save in favour of an extra attack, I wish I had taken the ward save instead. I also completely forgot the Banner of Murder on the Black Guard, and they were wiped out. Overall though, the game went tremendously well and despite the high armour and Mark of Nurgle making it incredibly difficult to wound the Chaos Warriors, I scored almost double the victory points. At the end of the game, there was only one Chaos Warrior unit still on the table and going toe-to-toe with 30 Dark Elf Spearmen and a single Chaos Knight musician running off the table (one more turn would get him off the board).

The game started poorly for Chaos, with Warhounds using the Vanguard rule to get closer to my lines, then failing their Terror test when my Hydra declared a charge. And fleeing through a Chimera, causing a Panic test, and sending that running off too. Neither unit would play a part in the game.

The Forsaken rolled poorly for mutations, getting two turns of Always Strikes Last. This gave my 30-strong Corsair unit a chance to kill them off. The Chaos Giant was taken down by the sheer number of Poisoned Attacks that my Witch Elves had, but on the plus side he fell on top of them and killed another nine.

The Black Guard performed alright, but I forgot that they had the Banner of Murder entirely. This would probably have helped a little bit. Luckily, before they were destroyed another Hydra assisted with a flank attack and the Witch Elves got into the front with Okkam’s Mindrazor cast on them – this was one of my aims of the game, to try and get their massive volume of attacks boosted with the Mindrazor. Although the Black Guard were wiped out (they only had a Standard Bearer left at that point), the Chaos Warrior unit was completely devastated.

That was the only way I could have got rid of the Nurgle Wizard General, who had managed to cast a few spells successfully and thus had a boost to Toughness and Wounds of 3 or 4 – even with Mindrazor, that would be a difficult prospect. Running him down after a failed Break test was much easier.

I also faced a Slaughterbrute (proxied with a Great Unclean One, for the Nurgle theme). This got into combat with my Cold One Knights, who failed every Stupidity test they had to take. The Knights managed to knock at least a wound off each turn, and the Slaughterbrute thankfully directed it’s attacks against my general two turns in a row. Since he had the Pendant of Khaeleth (roll under the attack’s Strength and you get to ignore it) and the attacks were Strength 7, nothing got through to him. It kept the Cold Ones out of the game, but it could still have been more effective if it had been supported more by the nearby Forsaken or if it was paired with a larger, tougher combat unit to push a probable win into an absolute win. I think that next time, I may be facing a Mutalith Vortex Beast.

All in all, I was really pleased with my new army list and I’ll definitely take it again. It may even give me a chance against the Empire gunline that has plagued me for so long…

Radio Stars

Podcasts are fantastic. I don’t like media that isn’t on demand, like traditional television and radio. I don’t know why I let theatre off, maybe because it’s more of a conscious decision to consume theatre.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like the content (although most of it is garbage) – I love DVDs and own a few television series on DVD so that I can watch it when it’s convenient (and pause it when the kids wake up), and I listen to a lot of podcasts. Since I started a new job in Cardiff and hence do a lot of commuting, I’ve been listening to even more – and here they are.

.NET Rocks

This is a good one to start with – it’s one I’m thinking of giving up. I started listening to it a few years ago as one of the first podcasts I picked up. It’s a technology podcast about .NET stuff, programming stuff and related fields. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty heavy schedule and puts out two shows a week of about an hour, and not all of the topics are relevant to me as it’s quite a broad range of subjects. They also seem to have quite a heavy bias towards Agile methodologies, and I’m not a fan of those yet. Although one episode did seem a little sceptical about them, so maybe they’re just playing up to whatever guest they have. I don’t think the value I get out of it is worth it.

On the other hand, it is good to put on in the background and mostly ignore when I am working from home – I’ll see how that goes.

The D6 Generation

The D6 Generation is a mammoth show about games – mostly board games, though they are familiar with (and less fanboyish than) tabletop wargames. There’s always a quiz, usually a guest, and the most in-depth reviews I’ve ever heard to give you an idea of playing a game. I’ve picked up a couple of suggestions for future additions to Games Night from this show, but so far not tested their reviews. I also love that they don’t blindly review things, they actually give negative opinions if they don’t like a game.

This is another one I listened to many years ago and dropped, because each episode is over 3 hours long and come out every 3-4 weeks. Now that I’m commuting over 5 hours a week, I have the time for this show again and I get an awful lot out of it.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

I’ve only recently picked this one up but gone back through the archive as far as the RSS feed goes. This took me back as far as an episode on the Age of Exploration and the whole of the Death of the Roman Republic series. It’s a fantastic podcast, although each episode is a few hours long they only come out every couple of months and I still have the whole Wrath of the Khans series to get through to keep me going. I try and keep these episodes as a treat to myself for having finished listening to everything else on the list, else I would just blow through them all in no time at all.

Hanselminutes

I think this is the only podcast that I’ve been listening to since the very start. It’s another .NET technology podcast, but occasionally branches into other areas like organisational skills, diabetes and disability, fitness and hobbies, but Scott Hanselman is an excellent host and as it’s only a half-hour show it’s very easy to fit in to the daily commute and learn a little bit about a range of subjects.

I realised how long I had been listening to this show when I met up with some developer friends, mentioned a Hanselminutes show about something we were discussing, and when I went to the archives to find it for them found it had been over three years before!

Webcomics Weekly

Technically, this is another one that I’ve been listening to since I started listening to podcasts – it may even have been the first podcast I listened to. But it stopped being weekly, then it stopped being… then it came back for a few episodes and disappeared again. It’s still on the RSS reader if it ever updates again, but I’m not holding my breath.

Heelanhammer

This is the first Warhammer podcast I subscribed to, and I thought it was fantastic. Unfortunately it’s ceased recording now, but at least (unlike Webcomics Weekly) they officially announced their end. Ironically, it was after a week where they joked about finishing up the show.

While writing this, however, they have announced that after a nine month hiatus, they are coming back in the middle of March! Hooray!

Bad Dice

The second Warhammer podcast I started listening to, I almost quit this one immediately. The first episode I listened to had three guests, and one didn’t play Warhammer and was just being a snarky, rude and extremely annoying twerp. The following week, it was announced that he and another of the guests would be co-hosts going forward, and he was marginally less annoying.

I stuck it out, and over the past year Gareth has been getting better and better and made the podcast really enjoyable. He’s an excellent counterpoint to the tournament-heavy bent of the other hosts, asking simple questions and getting used to things slowly just like people who don’t play Warhammer at least once a week. I’m glad I didn’t quit on it back in the beginning.

Bad Dice Daily

This is a spin-off from the Bad Dice podcast (the clue is in the name) where the main host (Ben Curry) talks for 15-20 minutes each day on a different subject. I don’t sync episodes on my phone every day, so I normally end up with a few to listen to all at once. It’s an excellent show, short enough to not get annoying if the subject is dull (most tournament results or White Dwarf news, for me) but long enough to impart useful knowledge such as the “How to Paint Black” or “How to Paint White” episodes.

Mantic Podcast

I’ve become a big Mantic fan in the last year – their Kings of War ruleset is interesting and if I had more time to play, I’d love to give it a go, and I’ve mentioned Dreadball on this blog a few times already. They put out an infrequent podcast also hosted by Ben Curry and since most of these recently have been about Dreadball, I’ve been listening avidly.

Garagehammer

I picked this one up when Ben Curry of Bad Dice was a guest on it talking about Dark Elves (my favourite army), their tactics, and the rest. I added it to the regular subscription list and figured I’d see how I liked it – and I did! They are more hobby focussed than Bad Dice, and they’re not serial tournament champions. Since Heelanhammer finished, they’ve definitely filled a void that Bad Dice doesn’t quite fit. Some of their best and worst episodes are their playthrough battle reports – during a game, they take breaks to describe the turn. It might be just that sometimes I’m not paying complete attention to the podcast (something I make sure to do with shows like Hardcore Histories), but I can’t always visualise the game and lose the thread of things, and at that point I just want it to be over and skip to the next bit.

Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy and Comedy of the Week

When I used to drive to work on my own, I got used to listening to the radio. I eventually gravitated to Radio 4 because Radio 1 is not for me, Radio 2 was hit and miss with the DJs, and every other station has adverts and I can’t stand adverts. Jack FM is best of a bad bunch, but I found that at the same time every Wednesday evening there would be Steve Harley Come Up and See Me, and that was the nail in the repetitive playlist coffin. Then we removed the car radio but didn’t replace it so that was the end of the radio for me.

These podcasts are (usually) hilarious and give me something that amateur comedy podcasts don’t usually do and in a British accent. Listening to too many American accents can get irritating and most of my podcasts now (or at least the longest podcasts) are American.

LRRCast

This podcast is put out by the LoadingReadyRun team and has changed over the last year – they used to go into some detail on how their videos are made, but since this is now handled by the Loading Time video series, they’ve reduced that content. The Ask LRR section is a bit hit and miss – sometimes it’s really interesting and other times it’s “what Magic card would you be if you were the opposite gender”. After a long hiatus, they’ve also come back with a new format – regular LRRCast once a month, a Magic podcast once a month, and a games podcast once a month. This is nice, because if I don’t feel like listening to a bunch of Magic: The Gathering stuff (and why would I? I don’t play!) I can just skip it. Similarly, I’m just not into computer games as much as I used to be, so that one is skipped too.

Penn’s Sunday School

Penn Jillette, the noisy part of Penn & Teller, puts up a libertarian, atheist music-loving podcast.

This is another podcast I almost dropped – before I had a big catch-up a couple of weeks ago, it was always the one I passed over for other things. The big problem was an episode a fair while ago that just had so many adverts it bored me – especially since most of the adverts were for American berry supplies, American postage stuff, etc. It’s just not relevant or interesting. I usually catch up on it to get to an interesting guest interview – the last catch-up was to get to an episode with Teller, and before that to get to one with George Takei. I won’t just skip to the interviews I want though, because that would mean missing things like an interview with Peter Noone. I had never heard of him before, but it’s one of the best episodes of Penn’s Sunday School they’ve done.

Meeples & Miniatures

I listened to a couple of episodes of this that discussed Dreadball – obviously – and decided it’s not really meant for me. I liked the podcast, but it was a bit long and didn’t really click for me. But apparently, the guys behind Meeples and Miniatures are going to be making a Dreadball podcast soon! That’ll be going straight onto the list. Since I can’t actually think of a reason why I didn’t pick this up (they’re like a calm, quiet, relaxing D6 Generation) as a regular cast, maybe I’ll give it another go.

The Diecast

Shamus Young of Twenty Sided is experimenting with a podcast – I haven’t listened yet, but I’ll try it out. I didn’t like the Spoiler Warning series (I barely got five minutes in), although I normally like commentaries and MST3K style things, I just found it annoying more than anything else. But the podcast will be worth a listen to see if I can add it to my list.