[WM/H] Road to SmogCon II -“Nobody move! I’ve dropped me brain.”

I don’t know why, but I invariably cock up every game I play with Pete. I don’t even have the excuse of heatstroke this time. Not to take anything away from him, of course, the big lad played a solid game and I manifestly failed to do so, but I did end up just shoving figures across the board into the teeth of Cygnar POW 10 and it’s only Pete’s frequent inability to roll numbers like 4 or 5 on two or three dice that kept me in the game. For what it’s worth, I brought the same army as last time and Pete had something like this:

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Defender (9pts) (the only dubious choice here)
* Ironclad (7pts)
Black 13th Gun Mage Strike Team (4pts)
Trencher Chaingun Crew (2pts) (underrated, lemme tell you)
Gun Mage Captain Adept (2pts)
Journeyman Warcaster (3pts)
* Charger (4pts)

I’m not going to bother writing up the game because a) no photos (my army’s still not painted) and b) you’ll get the gist from examining the big lesson that I learned. I’m not playing Makeda or the Titan Gladiator as far upfield as I should be; both of them are melee pieces which I’m treating like spell support, and the consequence is a piecemeal attack.

In this game, a more bold advance and a spot of Fate Walking with Makeda would have let me keep Karn in her control area, which in turn would have meant I could force a few rerolls on Pete’s Ironclad, which in turn might have meant I’d had a living Molik Karn to mess with on my third turn. I also need to ease off on the running to engage nonsense and look for opportunities to smash things; again, with the benefit of hindsight a properly ramped up Molik Karn (Enraged and under Road to War and Rush for extra verve) could have been trashing Pete’s Ironclad and engaging his Defender rather than going for a “if I survive this turn you’re dead” run against Stryker with both heavy warjacks alive and well.

I have to either adapt my play to the army list, or alter the army list to conform with my playstyle. I’m more tempted than ever to roll up with Lord Arbiter Hexeris instead, for reasons which warrant a post all to themselves.

Progress on the scenario has been nonexistent bar the acquisition of two more player character models (a Gatorman witch doctor/bokor and a Farrow slaughterhouser/chieftain). I’d like to plead “busy with work” but the truth is I’ve been through a bit of a slump in which the only miniatures I’ve given a damn about are the Oldhammer Orks I’ve been buying to cheer myself up, and the only gaming I’ve been doing is a long weekend of WoW which induced dough-like immobility until a looming deadline forced me to engage with real, productive work instead of low-outcome work substitute.

WoW really is like aspartame or methadone; it’s not a second job you have to pay for, it’s a job-like experience for the conventionally unemployable or the chronically depressed. Which you have to pay for. I think that’s why a disturbing number of WoW roleplayers choose to roleplay ordinary civilians with boring jobs and civilian problems; for these people, that’s an implausible and enticing fantasy that’s an improvement on their actual lives. For me, the game is an equivalent to binge drinking. If I’m feeling miserable I don’t go out and get tanked up (stupid medication makes that an unpredictable and rather short experience); I sit around pulling the WoW lever for cheese until the experience has become so stale that I start doing things again to avoid its numerous and sluggish obligations.

Anyway, the point is that I haven’t felt like either statting up any antagonists or painting any models, which must change over/after Christmas. I’ve deliberately not booked any work between the 21st of December and Epiphany; for once, I don’t have to spend Christmas fretting over money and income, and so I’m not going to. Hopefully I’ll spend that time actually doing some hobby, putting the Mammoth together (it’s cleaned up! that’s progress!) and giving everything a good coat of spray primer and its first layer of ink at least.

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

11 thoughts on “[WM/H] Road to SmogCon II -“Nobody move! I’ve dropped me brain.””

  1. I seem to be back into using events to drive painting. Painting a third Batman crew (Bane and League of Shadows) right now for this year’s third event. That and Lost Hemisphere’s Paint the Target challenges.

    Also, hopefully kicking off a Journeyman (monthly instead of weekly) in January, to help drive painting Hordemachine (Cephalyx this time). And, I’m eyeing the Lead Painters League on Lead Adventure this year.

    Has the Mammoth got a name yet? My Galleon is called Squishy, and my regular with a Mammoth has called it Stampy. :-D

    1. Events are more or less the only thing which can bully me into actually painting these days. Apart from the Revenants I can’t remember the last time I finished a model. Primed loads, put a bit of basecoat on some, and then… wandered off.

      The Mammoth isn’t even BUILT yet. Also, I plan on losing it in every game. I don’t want to get too attached.

  2. That description of Wow rings grimly true from what I have seen of the people that enjoy it in their post-teenage years. The first step to healing is accepting you have a problem. I’d recommend reading Horus Heresy novels instead but then again that is what i do if i feel bored or unhappy and there are no friends available.

    Happy Holidays and fortuitous tidings on your statting, painting, wargaming and scenario writing Von. I played nothing but roleplaying games this weekend and I find the exciting responses, awe, laughter and cheer from my players makes every minute I spent feverishly pooring over fluff-heavy tomes to be worth it a thousand fold. Also the new Star Wars blows and I am the only one who seems to think so.

    Best,
    Prince.

    1. I tried to read a Horus Heresy novel a few weeks ago. I hate to say it but after ten or so pages I was not sufficiently enthused to proceed. To be fair, it was recommended to me because it had the Death Guard in it rather than because it was an objectively well-written book. I feel that’s a problem with the series, to whit waiting six books to encounter the Legion about which you give the biggest shit and having to play author roulette to see if you actually get a good one.

      You scare me when you exhibit an actual sense of enjoyment and engagement with life. Stop it. (I do need to find some players who are a bit more local than my regulars; they’re all lovely people but playing once a month at most is a bit unfulfilling and I still find Roll20 to be a cumbersome shadow of True Fun.)

      As for the Star Wars… I am wary, since JJ Abrams’ directorship is the film franchise equivalent of “gone into receivership, the administrators are here to revive the brand with some totally safe choices and appeasement for the existing client base”, but I’m going to see it anyway because Abrams hasn’t been actively dreadful in my experience – merely very, very safe.

      1. You may have read Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow. Stop that. The Death Guard have not been fleshed out very well so far in HH and it is only with recent short stories that they have been given something of an identity. That and the villain (Grugor? Gruor?) in that book felt like an 80s highschool movie jock villain. I am 30 books and several novelettes in and i am not slowing down. I am even reading Nick Kyme, though I weep bitterly whenever I must do so.

        As for author roulette, your tastes might be a bit more hampered by your native tongue then mine, as such i find myself enjoying most works not written by the simplistic James Swallow, the talentless Nick Kyme or Graham Mcneill when he is drunk and wrote the Outcast Dead. Chris Wright, Rob sanders, Demski-bowden and the superlative Dan Abnett, all are forces for good and not evil imho. HH does not lend itself well to just picking up a book and reading i think, what with all the canonical nods and cross-fertilisation and the three thousand different events that one needs to keep track off. It is, however, a space opera of mind-boggeling depth and epic scope, and thank the Emperor for that.

        Your assesment is on the money. Star wars felt boring to me. That is something I did not experience even when I watched the Phantom Menace. Nothing new under the sun, it was a remake with less gravitas and less interesting characters. Space has been made boring and i felt old when i left the cinema. Abrahams did a good job on making Star Trek into Star Wars but the subsequent parts where all the same. Brainless space action and immaculate special effects with some fun characters reminiscent of 90s comic books and no bone to throw to a poor, hard-sf fan that likes films in the vein of Interstellar, Moon and even Prometheus god help me.

        1. I’m increasingly filing this under “Not For Me”, then, because I’m disinclined to wade through novels that aren’t good merely for the sake of contextual information for novels that are good. I respect the scale of the undertaking but I still prefer the Heresy as a couple of pages in each relevant Codex and a grand, hinted-at-but-long-forgotten legend.

          In a similar vein, it occurs to me that a hard sci-fi fan who looks for satisfaction in Star Wars (a space opera of soap opera inclinations, with an epic taking place in the background) might not find what he seeks.

      2. [Counter]
        Ben Counter’s Galaxy in Flames was good but Battle for the Abyss was so pointless and stupid I suspect it might have cost him his position as HH author. I’m nominating Nick Kyme and James Swallow for removal next, Graham Mcneill is uneven but at his best he is very good (at his worst he is still better then Kyme). Horus Heresy is, on the whole, a good series, especially for licence fiction.

        [Codex]
        Ah las, your predilictions for amgiuity will have to make room for MONAAAAY. I am overall very satisfied with the quality of the material they have chosen to milk us for our last sheckles though.

        [Soap opera, Star Wars, Star Trek]
        You misunderstand, I was referring to Star Trek, which originally started out not as hard sci fi but at least a bit more grounded and willing to tackle science fictiony premises with thought and whatnot. Abrams made it into essentially Star Wars, a fun if brainless science fiction action movie with references.

        Star Wars has never had that more serious tone or hard science fictiony aspirations and has always been Amazing Fantasy Adventure with a Space jacket, which is why its newest iteration was such a dissapointment. It lacked the sort of interesting characters, locations and bricabrac that made me fall in love with it in the first place.

        1. [Stars, Wars and Trekking]
          That does seem like a more coherent observation. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

          [Codex]
          As I have often been heard to observe, what is good for business is generally bad design and motivated by nerdish urges toward completionism and canonicity. I accept this as the way the world turns, but I don’t have to be happy about it.

          [Authors]
          I’m surprised by the range of ways in which it’s apparently possible to screw up bolter porn. Your assessment of McNeill is accurate. I think he has more fun when he’s writing explicitly Chaos stuff, which amounts to a corresponding improvement in quality.

          1. [Codex]
            Ahh…but nothing sets the nerdish blood aflame as a well-thought out and deep canon. Fap fap fap fap. And i think in the end HH allows BL authors to create works of beauty and complexity that they would otherwise be unable to make, and is that not a worthy cause. The unique great crusade antagonists that all get wiped out before the heresy starts alone are a creative reinassance for 40k, which can get stale at times.

            [Authors]
            I’ve observed that that is true for other authors as well. Chaos gives a creative freedom that is noticeably lacking when writing Xenos, which is why most books involving them are of less then stellar quality. It is much harder to come up with something new if everything is already spelled out, and i think this stifles the creative process. However, Warriors of Ultramar is good fun and Dead Men Walking is a bizarre anomaly of grim-darkest hopeless war against the Necron that asks deep questions about the nature of identity with quasi-literary aspirations and a portrayal of 40k that is the grimmest seen yet.

            Mcneill is a steam-engine that occasionally flies off the rails but he understands how to write satisfying bolter porn, interesting characters (or at least properly defined characters), story structure, symbolism and I suspect he is very well versed in the classics (dead sky black sun is clearly based on Dante’s inferno for example, and Fulgrim reads like a greek tragedy), which is to his immense advantage. Bolter porn with Mcneill is at the very least exciting and action scenes rarely feel tacked on or padded, each advances the narrative or reveals new information that alters the story. It can get formulaic at times but I get the idea he is improving with each novel.

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