The Elder Thoughts

RPGs, miniatures, books and other rants

Book Review: Ender's Game

Book cover

One book I had pending the review was Ender's Game. I had been postponing its read and how I regret it now...

In the future, nasty aliens have attacked the Earth, and while they were defeated, they will probably attack a third time, so humans are trying a new combat tactic: Training children to become soldiers, pilots and commanders and defeat the alien menace. Elder Wiggum is one of the chosen boys, sent to the training military school, where he will learn all sort of tactics, combat techniques, and also make friends and enemies alike, partially because he's even younger than the rest of the children.

The book not only tells how a futuristic military drill instruction would be, but also beautifully adds portable computers, an internet, virtual reality and combat simulations that any videogames lover (like I am) can easily imagine. It is also a hard and sometimes cruel book: Kids have to learn quickly and without remorse in a very competitive scenario, so sometimes the enemy looks also to be within and not only at the space.

A great reading that sadly was not repeated with the other books of the saga, it is a must for science-fiction lovers.

Mordheim: City of the Dammed

Mordheim is one of those Games Workshop products (like Gorkamorka or Man o' War) that I never had the chance to try in my youth. I've read articles about it at the White Dwarf, seen pictures but never actually played a single game.

When I saw that a computer version of it was being made, I definetry wanted to give it a try. And few days ago I was able to play the four tutorials of the early alpha build of Mordheim: City of the Dammed.

As I said, I don't know how loyal is to the original, although looks quite right, but I love turn-based tactical strategy games, and the game can't look better for these kind of public. The controls are smooth (I actually prefer playing with the gamepad as it is being designed with it as an option from the beggining), the menus and actions work fine, and the game already looks quite good.

The Alpha/Early access build right now only has two warbands (human mercenaries and skaven) but the tutorials allow you to test the other two future warbands, Sisters of Sigmar and Possesed (chaos), showing also some variety on the scenery, from a big cathedral to cities.

The full game will feature campaign modes, experience and inventory, special characters, both fixed and procedural maps and of course multiplayer (already available but I haven't tried it yet). After playing the tutorials I can say I really liked it and only found a bug (one human ogre got stuck in a small door), for the rest is quite playable although limited because there's still only predefined missions (tutorials) and skirmishes (no customization).

Here are a sample of how it looks and a gameplay video (quite good to get a feel of how the mechanics work):




Mordheim is in Early Access at Steam right now if you're interested. While not the cheapest game is at 20% discount now.

I'm trusting this one to become everything that has been promised (also Steam is becoming stricter regarding commitments), so I already "backed" it and will play as much as possible.

Book Review: The Book of Blood

Book cover

The Book of Blood is an anthology/compilation of a black & white comic, a novella and four short stories, all themed around the Blood Angels Space Marines chapter.

I had the book forgotten in a shelve, because after reading the comic I wasn't specially enjoying the Space Hulk novella. As I ended up reading it alone, I recently decided to finish the book.

The results are that the comic is the best piece, then the short stories vary. This is my first reading about the Blood Angels specific lore, "vampirism" and the black rage, so while is interesting to see the differences from Dark Angels and Ultramarines (of whom I've read a few books) on most stories it feels like too exagerated, as if the bloodlust or the rage was terrible, while I had an image of some crazed marines but the rest more normal.

Not bad but I'm not impressed either... and as I said, the best part is the comic.

The inspiration for Astra Militarum's Taurox

When I saw Warhammer 40,000 Astra Militarum's Taurox vehicle I thought it was a custom mix half-buggy half-tank thought from scratch...


But it looks it's based on the MRAP concept (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle):


Of course it has tank tracks instead of wheels, and MARPs are not just one specific design but a grouping of similar armoured anti-explosive vehicles (at the Wikipedia link there are a dozen more photos), but the similarities are abundant.

Warhammer Visions Decadence

I wrote my thoughts after a few WH Visions numbers a while ago. It wasn't too good but as we are nearing a year of issues and there are some rumors of no more numbers after 2014 (due to the failure it has been), here's how it has become even less valuable from my point of view.

First, is a mostly a showcase of "trending miniatures". Example: If you don't like Dark Eldar, you're going to get minimum 1/3 of the magazine dedicated to them. Although there are always different topic sections, throwing away sometimes half of the pages because "is not your army" is not very appealing. And as there is no lore text, you're probably not going to start an army only by looking at the paint jobs. The tactic of bombarding once an again during a month with all the new minis doesn't works on me at least.

All official articles have too many minis. Games Workshop seems to want us to only play at Apocalypse scale, because now you see dozens of vehicles and usually no less than 30 miniatures per photo (excepting close ups and the like). Battles have gone insane, like with the Dark Eldar bomber... it is somewhat cool, but really showing 3 of them plus other flyers as a detachment? Or around 30 wracks, when a box is only 5 models? Or probably around 100 tyranids each time they appear?
It is also a tactic so that we see the need of having bigger and bigger armies "like WD guys have", but I kind of miss the old, less packed photographs, so many models distract me and I don't give as much attention to the details as I did in the past, when I could stare at each photo for minutes appreciating everything.

The best painted miniatures are no longer the White Dwarf or Heavy Metal team ones. I didn't like at first the Parade Ground section too much, always displaying winners and honour mentions instead of "also non winners", but now they are usually the best painted ones. Probably due to having to paint so many minis for so many photos, quality is uneven, and, despite doing too much mud watering/painting, Forge World photographs are also quite cool. White Dwarf ones have cool illumination and backgrounds but... They are no longer the coolest guys in town, it looks like "mass pro painting" instead of "awesome painting" (still years ahead of my painting skills, of course).

Same happens with conversions... The only conversions you see are Kit Bash articles and Parade Ground ones. GW has like forbidden showing converted minis, so no imagination, no creativity, only different color schemes. And half of the Kit Bash articles are too basic or uninteresting.

Blanchitsu is unclear of authorship. John Blanche is a great illustrator, a cool miniatures creator, but come on, I don't even remember the last time the minis showcased at his section were from him. Most minis are from other people, and while they are really really cool there's only a small text fragment saying the name of the real author. I don't like the misleading look of the section, as if all were from him.

The "how many nurgle chaos lord conversions in this issue?" joke is too much already. The same mini appears at every single issue, in all sorts of cool, normal and crappy conversions and/or paint jobs. It gets really tiring to see it once and again. While is a good mini (I have one in fact) it really annoys so much lack of variety.

So, counting with the not precisely cheap price, the too narrow content variety of each issue and the complaints I've put... I'd recommend at the very minimum to peek an isue before buying it.

Let's see if WH Visions survives this winter.

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