New Year, New Hobby Opportunities!

Christmas time is over, New Years Eve is looming and we’re all feeling a lot fatter, or rather I’m trying to reassure myself that everyone puts on a few pounds over Christmas. It has been a busy time for me, especially considering that I have been sorting out my transition from my parents’ house back to Brighton on top of everything else. I was ill just before Christmas just after starting a new project (which is a secret for now, but I have a deadline for once!) so things have been a little quiet on the posting front. However, with my impending return to Brighton I will be able to do two things. Firstly, I can get involved in a tabletop RPG, which I’m thinking of trying to find a D&D 5th edition game to join as my Bard Master Race membership card needs renewing. Secondly, it means that I can finally get back to actually playing Warhammer 40k again. There’s the whole teacher training and studying aspect, but I’m honestly petrified of that part of my future. So, with my impending return to the hobbies that I love (seriously, being trapped in a house for 5 months with no social life is torture. I need people in my life!) I have decided to release my list that I think I will be fielding at Games Workshop.


1500pts Ithyl-Loc Strikeforce

* Counts as: Firesabre
** Counts as: The Spirit Stone of Anath’lan

HQ

Thalinia Narésiel – 138pts
Autarch – 70pts
Warp jump generator – 15pts
Mandiblasters – 10pts
Fusion gun – 10pts
Scorpion chainsword – 3pts (swapped out)
Blade of the Incandescent Soul* – 30pts

Lireia Narésiel – 145pts
Farseer – 100pts
Singing spear – 5pts
Runes of Witnessing – 15pts
Runes of Warding – 10pts
Rune of the Everwarden** – 15pts

Elites

Troops

Children of Isha – 265pts
10 Guardian Defenders – 90pts
Bright lance – 20pts
Wave Serpent – 115pts
Twin-linked scatter lasers – 5pts
Shuriken cannon – 10pts
Holo-fields – 15pts
Ghostwalk matrix – 10pts

Disciples of Asurmen – 65pts
5 Dire Avengers – 65pts

Fast Attack

Hunter on the Winds – 180pts
Crimson Hunter – 160pts
Two bright lances – 0pts
Exarch Ionarth Cuersyl – 20pts

Heralds of Victory – 128pts
8 Swooping Hawks – 128pts

Sentinels of the Infinity Matrix – 177pts
8 Warp Spiders – 152pts
Exarch Darallis Rathan – 10pts
Twin-linked death spinner – 5pts
Fast Shot – 10pts

Heavy Support

Faolchú’s Deliverance – 155pts
Falcon – 125pts
Starcannon – 5pts
Holo-fields – 15pts
Ghostwalk matrix – 10pts

Murehketh Bein Hekhita – 210pts
War Walker – 60pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
War Walker – 60pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
War Walker – 60pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
Scatter laser – 5pts

Total – 1498pts

This list relies on mobility. If my opponent turtles up, then my faster units run interference whilst my longer range units take and hold objectives. If they do not, then the faster units take out isolated units whilst my longer range units hit them from distance with heavy weapons. The entire army relies on mobility and line of sight blocking terrain. All of the skimmers have the ghostwalk matrix to allow them to ignore Dangerous Terrain tests so that there is no risk of immobilisation when entering terrain, as it opens up a good way to avoid jinking (and firing snap shots in the subsequent shooting phase) whilst still gaining a decent save with cover + holo-fields. Positioning is essential too as misplacing units or not accounting for potential deep strikers that my opponent has can leave me very exposed and vulnerable. Eldar life is precious. Preserve it.

If you’re in the Brighton, England area, this is a list that you may face frequently (or at least derivatives of this list) as I like to build a core list and build on it, or try totally different themed lists on occasion.

So Everyone Is Hyped About Blood Angels? Let’s Show Some Love For Tyranids

New box set (that I have already outlined my thoughts on), new codex, new models. It’s a good time to be a Blood Angels player, right?

Well, I’ve been at a loss on what to write about in terms of Warhammer 40k as of late, as my models are all in Brighton whereas I am in Spain visiting my parents; all I have to do for the hobby is keep up to date with the latest releases and craft up some theoretical army lists. So, why am I writing this? It would be bad practice to just write something for the sake of writing something, especially if it’s just to complain about not having anything to write about.

There is always something to write about.

I decided that as Blood Angels are getting so much attention with their new codex I would look at the other side of the Shield of Baal box set: the Tyranids. I will say before diving into the body of what I wish to write about that I am not a Tyranid player. I have played Tyranids briefly in the past, though I was a Witch Hunters player mainly, back in 4th edition when everything was just a little bit less deadly and Cities of Death was the accepted meta in my local area, being the Games Workshop in Brighton. This was about eight years ago and things have moved on, but Tyranids remain very much the same beast that they used to be, with a few buffs and nerfs in various places. So I urge you to take everything I write with a pinch of salt; my main source of experience with Tyranids is blasting them off the table, so maybe I can give a fresh view on the faction that you won’t find elsewhere.

So, where to start? First, I would like to go through what goes through my mind whilst playing Tyranids, from an Imperium/Chaos perspective and then from an Eldar/Dark Eldar perspective as there is a massive difference in how each army plays and how it deals with Tyranids. Whenever I play(ed) Space Marines, Astra Militarum, Witch Hunters (Adepta Sororitas) or Chaos Space Marines my tactics were pretty straightforward: shoot them back and counter initiate with average close combat troops, or sit in cover and strike first in the first round of combat, usually against a weakened unit. The idea was that my units would sit in cover and gun down units of Tyranids in a particular order: hormagaunts first, as they used to be able to move 6″, run D6″ (so possible 6 extra) and then charge 12″ in a meta when only specific units with the Fleet of Foot/Claw/Hoof special rule could run, you could charge after running and charging was largely fixed at 6″ for units that weren’t cavalry (in short, a potential for 24″ movement where most units got only 12″). Hormagaunts were the underdog that you really didn’t want to let crash into your lines. People underestimated them and then quickly learned not to when all of their front units were tied up (close combat used to block line of sight too) and the back units were helpless to do anything as the next waves started to crash in. Next were the other small Tyranid organisms, such as Genestealers (they could only infiltrate if they had a Broodlord, who was an HQ choice), then Termagants and the rest as they could also run forwards an pounce on your units, causing a real headache for your guns. Finally, we moved on to the monstrous creatures, such as the Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants. Warriors were a bit of a joke unit that nobody took and I believe that synapse wasn’t a rule.

But Lexicon, I hear you ask, if you’re sitting back in cover and shooting then you’re not claiming objectives. How do you capture them? It was simple, really. Interception units. For me these were Land Speeders, Assault Marines and for others, Bikes. This combined with a final surge forwards was enough to take objectives from the beleaguered Tyranids that lay scattered across the board. My lists often contained a lot of multi-shot AP4 weaponry such as assault cannons or heavy bolters (I have a thing for Land Speeders and Whirlwinds) as well as a healthy amount of missile launchers and lascannons, which gave me a definite advantage at range. I used lots of troops on the table to mitigate losses as less important and also maximise my presence in both close combat and in shooting. The key was to open up with heavy weapons in the first turn, then get those bolters or lasguns firing as the Tyranids closed in; massed boltguns or lasguns deal a lot of damage to Tyranids, so it should not be underestimated. You shot down Tyranid units until they had very few models remaining and allowed the rest to charge you, beating them down in close combat. I don’t think I ever lost against Tyranids with my Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Astra Militarum or Witch Hunters following this basic principle.

Fast forward to 6th/7th edition and I have my Eldar as my main army. Again, I have yet to lose against Tyranids in a 1vs1 situation (I have lost in a 2vs2 where my partner (he was learning how to play his army) got annihilated in 2 turns and left me to face all of the remaining Tyranids myself; I just couldn’t cover enough objectives!) with my Eldar or Dark Eldar, but the way I deal with them is very different. The way my Eldar and Dark Eldar deal with Tyranids is simply by out-running them. Both armies are fully mechanised and use the mobility of the fast skimmer chassis to run rings around them whilst hitting them with a lot of firepower. Tyranids are lacking at long range anti-vehicle, so I just stay out of range of their short range weapons and deal with anything that has a heavy venom cannon first (or Hive Guard. Target priority #1 is Hive Guard!). Everything else I can just dance out of range of and harass with tank mounted heavy weapons. Even Zoanthropes!

So, with this knowledge how can we field a Tyranid list to combat these tactics. I will go over a checklist of what I believe you need in a Tyranid list to be both fluffy, because I always build fluffy lists, and also decent on the table:

  1. Shooting – If you rely on only melee, you will be kited around the table and picked off. Having some decent shooting behind you will give you some hitting power as you move forwards. As a note, Tyranids will never win long range shooting matches with the likes of the Tau or the Astra Militarum. They just aren’t built that way.
  2. Numbers – As I said, one of the only times that I lost a match was simply because I couldn’t hit enough objectives. You want to have the field presence to be able to swarm over objectives and deny your opponent those points that they need to actually win the scenario.
  3. Null deployment – Fritz40k talks about this in depth here. The idea behind null deployment is to box your opponent in. You want to control where your opponent will be on the table and not give them free reign to drive around and gun you down as a Tyranid player; you need to be pinning your opponent in place.
  4. Synapse – Depends on how dangerously you want to live. Synapse is how you keep your Tyranids in your control, as opposed to leaving it to the dice. My opinion is that you need synapse coverage. You need good fields of synapse that weave into one another, just in case one creature goes down you want to be able to plug the gap.
  5. Speed – You can’t kill an enemy you can’t catch, and the faster you are the sooner you will pin your prey down and start wearing through them. You want to hit your opponent after taking as few losses as possible as if you get into close combat with no steam behind your army, you will just die in close combat as the numbers of Guardsmen just bayonet stab your Hormagaunts or Space Marines attach krak grenades to your last wounded Carnifex.

These are the areas that I want to hit when making a Tyranid list. So which units fill these gaps?

  1. Hive Guard – This is a unit that you want in your army. They are fairly expensive and only Ballistic Skill 3, but their 2 shots at Strength 8 each that does not need line of sight and ignores cover is incredibly useful. The only vehicles that you will find tough to deal with are Armour Value 13 or 14, but anything 12 or under will be a prime target for them. Also, it keeps things like Land Speeders from harassing your units if there are Hive Guard watching over them. Jinking, you say? Ignore cover, I say!
  2. Biovores – Cheap. Lobs a pie plate across the table at Strength 4, AP4 with the barrage special rule. If they miss they spawn spore mines. A must-have in any Tyranid list in my opinion. Now they even have 3 Wounds each! What is not to love about Biovores?
  3. Exocrine – It’s a monstrous creature in close combat and it has a shooting attack that reduces entire squads of Terminators to dust. Considering the 2+ Armour Save is so powerful now with power weapons being segregated and considering the lack of low AP Tyranid shooting, the Exocrine is another unit that I would always put in my list.
  4. Gaunts – Termagants and Hormagaunts are amazing. They need Synapse support to do anything as with Leadership 6 they will be failing more than half of their Instinctive Behaviour checks on average if left outside the Synapse bubble. They are cheap and you can take them in bulk. If you have the points, upgrades can be useful though if I want to give Termagants the devourer gun, I would only give them to around half the unit so that I could use the fleshborer wielding ones as a shield. For hormagaunts it really depends on preference. Adrenal glands allows them to combat vehicles as Furious Charge gives them Strength 4 on the charge, whilst toxin sacs give you Poisoned (4+) attacks in close combat for wounding enemies of all Toughness values; however, I would take one or the other, never both as then they become too expensive. You will take losses on your gaunts, so you want to keep them cheap!
  5. Zoanthropes – Warp Lance, Dominion and another psychic power that you roll from the Tyranid psychic power table. Mastery Level 2. 3++ Invulnerable Save. These are great for providing a bit more Synapse to your force and some close range anti-vehicle firepower as their Warp Lance is a Strength 10 AP2 lance weapon, though it doubles as Warp Blast which is an AP3 blast weapon for clearing infantry. It does, however, take two Warp Charges to go off. I would always take a brood of at least three Zoanthropes, with one definitely upgraded to be a Neurothrope, unless really strapped for points as you only need one psychic test for the whole unit to get their shooting attack. One psychic test for three shots is a lot better than one psychic test for one shot (that you could very well miss!). The Neurothrope is a good way to generate free Warp Charge dice for the Zoanthropes to cast their Warp Blast power as well as causing some extra casualties with Spirit Leech.
  6. Tyrannocite – It’s essentially a Tyranid version of a drop pod that can carry twenty models or a single monstrous creature. This is an excellent unit for getting your Tyranids nice and close where they can actually do damage. Heck, I would put most of my army in these with the exception of my longer range units such as Hive Guard or Biovores who want to sit back a bit.
  7. Mucolid Spore Cluster – Mucolid spores are cheap and can fill a Troops slot. What it does is act like an ordinary spore mine, but with Strength 8, AP3. Fifteen points for a deep striking battle cannon shell? Well, I know how I will be filling out those last few points in my lists. Oh, they can also hit zooming flyers, giving you some quirky anti-air, although as it is only an AP3 weapon you will likely not be able to destroy a flyer in a single blast. My advice? Stick to blasting squads of Space Marines to little pieces. I feel that I should mention the Sporocyst too, as a method of churning out Mucolid Spore Clusters, but it doesn’t quite make the list as it occupies a hotly contested Heavy Support slot. It can be useful for denying an area, using Infiltrate to get into position (it’s immobile) and then churning out Mucolids every turn. However, it’s still a Heavy Support choice.

The points level of the list will dictate exactly which of these I would field. For example, in a 500pts game I will be limited compared to fielding a 2000pts list, for example. Taking all of this into account, I have come up with a Tyranid list that I would field at 1850pts.


1850pts Standard Tyranids

HQ

Tyranid Prime – 125pts
Tyranid Prime – 125pts
Scything talons – 0pts
Devourer – 0pts

Elites

Hive Guard Brood – 110pts
2 Hive Guard – 110pts
2 impaler cannons – 0pts

Zoanthrope Brood – 225pts
3 Zoanthropes – 150pts
Tyrannocyte – 75pts
5 Deathspitters – 0pts

Zoanthrope Brood – 225pts
3 Zoanthropes – 150pts
Tyrannocyte – 75pts
5 Deathspitters – 0pts

Troops

Hormagaunt Brood – 210pts
30 Hormagaunts – 150pts
Adrenal glands – 60pts

Hormagaunt Brood – 210pts
30 Hormagaunts – 150pts
Adrenal glands – 60pts

Termagant Brood – 120pts
30 Termagants – 120pts
30 Fleshborers – 0pts

Termagant Brood – 120pts
30 Termagants – 120pts
30 Fleshborers – 0pts

Tyranid Warrior Brood – 150pts
5 Tyranid Warriors – 150pts
5 Scything talons – 0pts
5 Devourers – 0pts

Tyranid Warrior Brood – 90pts
3 Tyranid Warriors – 90pts
3 Scything talons – 0pts
3 Devourers – 0pts

Fast Attack

Spore Mine Cluster – 15pts
3 Spore Mines – 15pts

Heavy Support

Biovore Brood – 80pts
2 Biovores – 80pts

Exocrine – 170pts
Exocrine – 170pts

Total – 1850pts


So, the idea behind the list is to swamp objectives with bodies and wear down your opponent. The list features a model count of 142 plus 3 Spore Mines, so all but the dedicated Astra Militarum infantry horde will have less models on the table than you. The hardest part about building this list was the need for Synapse creatures and so I decided to spend points on Warriors to act as another Synapse anchor alongside the Zoanthropes. The Tyranid Prime goes with the smaller squad of Warriors and hides in the back, giving Synapse to the Biovores, Exocrine and Hive Guard, whilst the unit of 5 Warriors accompanies the rush of Gaunts. The Zoanthropes enter play in the Tyrannocytes, deep striking alongside the waves of Gaunts to provide more Synapse and some powerful anti-vehicle and psychic support. It’s a very simple list that won’t win every game, but for people who play like me it would pose some serious problems; there’s simply too much to target without getting lucky dice rolls! It’s also a fun list to play (and play against), so unless you face a cheesy WAAC list, you and your opponent should have a lot of fun during the game. There are plenty of other viable lists to play, but I merely wanted to show a very ordinary, standard Tyranid list that should be able to accomplish something on the table. I would change out the Spore Mine Cluster for a Mucolid Spore Cluster (of a single Mucolid) but I ran out of Troops choices in the Combined Arms Detachment. Oh, remember that all of the Gaunts and Warriors are Objective Secured, meaning that only Troops can contest objectives that they hold. 128 Objective Secured models? Those objectives will be yours!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Free Weekend Shenanigans and Impressions

This weekend there was a free weekend offer on the new Call of Duty game, Advanced Warfare. As both an Unreal Tournament player and a Call of Duty 4 player, I decided to give it a shot. I downloaded it, all forty gigabytes of it, and dived right in. My expectations were low, considering I thought that every Call of Duty game apart from 2 and 4 were utter trash, but I wanted to see the new movement mechanics.

Firstly, the free weekend extends to the multiplayer and only the multiplayer. I have not played the single player and I am quite glad about this, in all honesty. I believe that the campaign is just going to be more of the same dull, boring story archetype with some message about power corrupting and how Captain America an American soldier has to fight against it all. He will probably be a white male too, because every damn Call of Duty game is fronted by a white guy with a military background, though I could be wrong on that point, I largely stopped caring after Call of Duty 4. It will also probably feature a plot twist involving an obvious betrayal that we all could see coming from a mile away. However, that’s not what I am here to rant write about; I am here to write about the multiplayer experience.

The first thing that I did was… Customise my soldier. The customisation mechanics are nice, I will admit, and I spent a good long amount of time making my operative look great and spent some time putting together my emblem. Also, like Call of Duty Ghosts, female soldiers have been brought back in Advanced Warfare and don’t look like Battlefield Barbie (which really appeals to my can-do feminist attitude). A day later (and about a dozen test games in) and I have settled with my operative’s appearance and calling card:

s1_mp64_ship 2014-12-13 23-09-26-985

It was a necessity to show these Call of Duty players that a member of the Valve crowd has graced them with her presence!

So, weapon in hand I hop, skipped and jumped into multiplayer, fast abandoning any notion of using a sniper rifle or heavier weapon in favour of an assault rifle or simple submachine gun. The whole reason I was interested to try this game out was due to the enhanced mobility given to players in this installment, after all, so why squander the gift? I must say that the new movement mechanics add a lot to the Call of Duty multiplayer, it adds something that Call of Duty has always lacked: three dimensional gameplay. Enemies can come from the front or sides, sure… But also from above and below. As an Unreal Tournament fan and long time player, this concept is not a new one to me, but it’s really nice to see it in a Call of Duty game for once. This alone makes the multiplayer worth playing, because otherwise it’s standard Call of Duty multiplayer. However, the jetpacks make movement such a huge factor and it’s also where Advanced Warfare stands apart from the rest. It is not without problems, however. Firstly, it uses matchmaking, or as I like to call it: the devil’s gaming mechanic. I detest matchmaking more than I detest the other Call of Duty games (2 and 4 not included!). Matchmaking is an abomination that should be banished from the PC gaming scene. Privately owned dedicated servers are the only way to go for a multiplayer shooter. Call of Duty 4 did it so right, so why have none of its successors followed suit? It’s infuriating, but it’s something to do with online rankings and unlocks (two other aspects of the game that I care very little for) and the fact that it’s largely designed for consoles first and PC second. You can tell by the obviously console-friendly UI in the screenshot above. The matchmaking itself is buggy to add insult to injury here, often making me join games that I then can’t connect to, leaving me staring at the loading screen for about two minutes before telling me that I’ve lost connection. Combine this with the fact that you cannot alt-tab whilst in a lobby or a game (loading screens included) and this becomes infuriating. Some of us have dual monitor set ups! Also, the lack of dedicated servers causes laggy games and irritating host migration if the original host disconnects for some reason. Perhaps I could understand such cut corners in a free to play game, or at least a cheaper title but Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a triple-A title with a triple-A price tag. There is no excuse!

The co-op mode is your standard wave defence against hordes of enemy troops. It’s… Too easy and incredibly boring. My first game where I was suffering from horrendous lag spikes and three out of five of the original players left early I managed to make it to wave 96. I only stopped because it was approaching 4am and I needed to go to bed!

First game and I reach here on the scoreboard. This is not a challenge, it is a test of patience.

First game and I reach here on the scoreboard. This is not a challenge, it is a test of patience.

It only starts to get a bit challenging at about wave 90, but it’s still not all that challenging given the level of upgrades you have at that point. Also, the heavy class is so incredibly broken beyond belief. I was playing the Light Exo and I was doing okay, but my team mate was running a Heavy Exo and was dismantling waves by himself. Getting to wave 90 took about two hours and twenty minutes, meaning you have to wade through waves of easy enemies for about two hours, unable to alt-tab out when you get bored or need to change music, before it starts getting a little bit engaging. Most people pick up a shooter for a quick hour of fun when they get home from work or after the children have been put to bed, so the fact that a single match will take upwards of two hours (with no pause mechanic or ability to alt-tab to check Twitter or put on a different playlist) is inconvenient. In an upcoming DLC they will be adding a zombie mode to the co-op which will be more of the same that we’ve seen before, only this time with jetpacks. If I want a zombie game, I’ll go and play Contagion (which is great and has a price tag of about £15) or Left 4 Dead; funnily enough, both of those games are probably around the same price as the DLC that will have zombie mode in it. Yep, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has Call of Duty pricing which makes Games Workshop look reasonable by comparison; at least their products are good and expensive, where Call of Duty DLCs are just expensive. Out of interest I went to the top of the scoreboard to see the lengths of some of these matches. I think the numbers speak for themselves: you’ll never catch me playing a match for these figures!

9 hours? 17 hours?! Seriously, the human body needs to sleep and eat and use the bathroom!

9 hours? 17 hours?! Seriously, the human body needs to sleep and eat and use the bathroom!

I want to love Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The jetpacks make multiplayer so enjoyable and the level of customisation for your operative and calling card is truly wonderful, but there’s far too much against the game, especially considering that it’s a triple-A release. I would pay no more than… £20 for this game, and that’s only because I’ve seen that the campaign features some heavyweight actors like Kevin Spacey. Without that, I wouldn’t pay more than £15 at a push. With privately owned (and user-managed!) dedicated servers, more maps (user created maps is a good way to get more quality maps, though that needs to go hand in hand with point #1), much lower DLC costs and a co-op mode that doesn’t bore and take multiple hours without purposefully throwing the game I would probably pay more, but the fact of the matter is that none of that is going to happen, with the exception of the last part that -might- happen.

So my final verdict? Fun. I would go as far as to say “incredibly fun” if it had more maps, but it’s not worth the price tag as it has far too many problems that won’t be fixed. This is due to the fact that they aren’t all code related problems, but business and implementation problems as well. I can’t recommend this game.

Now I need to pick up Titanfall and do a comparison. I think that Titanfall may leave a better lasting impression than Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (especially with its lower price tag now that it has been out for a while)

Romantic Fiction: What Makes It So Hard?

I was reading Roulette by Megan Mulry this morning, remaining within the safety of my bed and shielded from the arctic temperatures of downstairs in my parents’ house in Spain and this thought crossed my mind. Okay, maybe it is not quite arctic temperatures, but it’s pretty damn cold down here considering that this is Spain, but that does not change my thoughts that I had as I was reading. Now, I am not advocating this book as the be-all-and-end-all of romantic fiction as there is plenty that I haven’t read, but I have enjoyed what I have read so far. Why? Because it all seems so natural. Firstly, the book is written from a first person perspective of Miki Durand, which I think really helps the reader to get into the mind of the protagonist and exactly what she’s feeling, but the protagonist’s thoughts come across as very normal; it’s very easy to identify with Miki as she comes across as a very believable, very real woman. Secondly, every exchange between Miki and Jérôme Michel de Villiers works well and, again, comes across as believable and real, from their deliciously awkward verbal exchanges all the way to their more passionate and intimate encounters.

So why the post, title laden with innuendo? Well, it was precisely what I was thinking as I was reading the book. I’ve tried my hand at writing romantic relationships in fiction and have even tried to write sexual encounters in the past, but every time it just feels clunky and awkward. Every time I write something like this I end up scrapping the work as it just irritates me how bad it reads. It took half a tub of ice cream, self-pity and a fairly large quantity of amaretto for me to work up the courage to post something lewd (and very NSFW. You have been warned) up and, whilst I got some positive feedback from one of my reliable proof readers, it certainly had room for improvement. Whilst all I posted up was a quick scene of flirting followed by a sexual encounter in a cyberpunk setting, finishing on a rich person’s security chasing the would be murderer out of the building (through an unconventional exit) I am currently writing a novel where romance between two characters plays a very significant part and, considering this may be the first novel that I try and get published properly, I want it to come across naturally and not in an awkward or clunky way. The relationship is so central to the plot that, whilst it isn’t primarily romance in its genre, I feel that a clunky relationship would detract from the narrative as the relationship is awkward, but not in that way. Equally, a 50 Shades of Grey style “romance” is most undesirable as well. That just isn’t how love works, at least not in my insular, sheltered mind!

So why is it so difficult? What raises this rather sizable obstacle? I believe it comes down to two things. Firstly, practice. I have been writing mystery, action and conspiracy based fiction for a long time. Romantic fiction? I’ve only been writing bits and pieces for about a year and a bit now, but that’s nowhere near enough for me to feel comfortable with the standard of work that I come up with. Secondly, I believe it comes down to personal experience, at least a little bit. I am a train wreck when it comes to romance as a person; I’ve had… I think five people through my life (four throughout my teenage years and one later on) who have expressed an interest and three of them I actually reciprocated the feelings towards, however whenever I felt like the dreaded romance train was approaching, I would derail it and run away as fast as I could from the train wreck that ensued, hiding in my safety cave until everything was cleaned up again. Thankfully, I only truly regretted two of them, but enough about the burning pile of mess that is my romantic history and back onto my point. I believe that to write romantic fiction well, one at least needs to have experienced it themselves; one needs to have experienced the flirting, dating, cheeky banter and all the feelings that burn ever so brightly during a relationship to write one into fiction accurately and to give one’s narrative a fluid and real feel. It is a deeply emotional experience that cannot be researched and quantified like other things. Everyone reacts to romance differently, so I believe that one needs to at least have personal experience to draw inspiration from should they wish to write romantic fiction (without difficulties of unnatural relationships and dialogue, unless one is a natural romantic!).

I’m sure that some people take to it naturally, but for me at least I find it an incredibly tall obstacle to overcome, more than most other writing related barriers. It’s a problem because romance is a large part of life for us emotional human beings. A protagonist will likely have feelings for someone at some point in their life much like a normal person will, unless they’re a robot or strange, emotionless alien race, and so if writing anything to do with this part of life comes across poorly it will reflect on the rest of the written prose. The weakest link in the chain.

Shadow of Revan – Revitalising or Revisiting? A brief overview of the 3.0 changes

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a fairly large Star Wars fan, particularly the Old Republic era ever since playing KotOR for the first time. Naturally, I had pre-ordered the upcoming expansion “Shadow of Revan” and thus have been able to mess about a little in the early access (and spend all those Galactic Starfighter requisition items!). I will outline my findings and feelings on this expansion in this article.

Firstly, I feel that I must comment on the pricing. One word sums up my opinion: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. £12 is a suitable price for an expansion to an MMO. I don’t know how Blizzard gets away with charging new game prices for their expansions at launch, considering they also have a subscription model in place. Are World of Warcraft players made of money? I remember buying World of Warcraft back in the vanilla days for about £20 in… I can’t remember the game shop, but I do remember that it was in Churchill Square in Brighton, so it could have been Game or HMV. I remember buying the Burning Crusade expansion for around £15 or £20 as well, but the later expansions came in heavily at £30 – £35, leading to me just stopping my subscription and moving onto greener pastures. Whilst Star Wars: The Old Republic has a subscription model (it’s free-to-play, but free-to-play is crippling) and the content is nothing -that- special when compared to the RPG experience I can get in single player games like Shadowrun Returns, Dragon Age: Origins, Skyrim or Divinity: Original Sin, it also has sensible pricing on its expansions. As I said, Shadow of Revan is £12 and even includes Rise of the Hutt Cartel to those who did not already own it, and will go down over time as this is the launch price. The only MMO that I have played where the expansions were the same launch price as that of the original game were the original Guild Wars games, however that did not operate on a subscription model, instead using the superior (in my opinion) buy-to-play model where you buy the game and then can play it as much as you want without a subscription and without limitations. And these were still only £15 – 20!

The first thing that I have to comment on are the changes to GSF. There are some minor aesthetic details that have changed, such as objective markers looking softer now, but the real change is in the buffs to requisition gain that we all knew was coming. Let me tell you, it feels so good. I noticed the buff to requisition gained, as I managed 1.7k ship requisition on my Star Guard (with the 2x daily mult for 500 bonus req) which netted me around 250 fleet requisition instead of 170. Also, all of the daily and weekly items have been increased by approximately 25%, and having about a month and a half worth of them stocked up, you can imagine that I was a very happy person.

The big thing that I’m sure you all want to know about is the new disciplines system that has replaced talents. I am… Both pleased and disappointed with this system. The advantage is that you gain a specialised skill straight away, allowing you to really -feel- like a tank, healer or dps from the word go, howeverthe removal of hybrid builds hurts higher level players who may have wanted to try an interesting build (I ran a “Mandalorian” build for the Powertech/Vanguard class by going mostly in tanking, but then also in the middle dps tree for the wrist blade). It has a fairly simple interface, making it obvious what you’re getting yourself into at the moment of choosing:

There is no way you're getting confused with this interface.

There is no way you’re getting confused with this interface.

As you can see, from level 10, you instantly gain Underworld Medicine (which has been totally removed from the Scoundrel abilities and replaced with slow-release medpac, no longer a Sawbones only power). As you level up you gain new powers, as well as other passive abilities, automatically. There is no longer any choice for your specific discipline, however you do get to choose your utility abilities. Once you choose your discipline, you go to the next screen:

Very little choice involved!

Very little choice involved!

As you can see, your progression in your discipline is very linear. You level up and you gain new active and passive abilities as you go. However, you can choose your utilities and gain access to a total of seven at level 60. For a Sawbones such as myself they are very, very useful, however it varies from class to class. One of my guild mates said that he found his Guardian ones useless, for example. As I said, I don’t like this as it doesn’t allow for interesting hybrid builds, but I really like that it makes you feel like your chosen role from the moment you gain your advanced class. A quick note: Abandon is the same as field respec. You need to purchase it in your legacy window! I had the field respec, so I can abandon my discipline in the field if need be.

Next I will talk about gear and commendations. Commendations have been simplified: Planetary and Classic commendations are no more and were converted into Basic commendations. All previously owned Ultimate and Elite commendations were also transferred to Basic with favourable conversion rates. Warzone commendations and Fleet commendations remain untouched.

New CommsBasic commendations can buy you gear from the Ord Mantell vendor (the blue chestpieces) all the way up to entry level 55 gear (including gear that used to be bought with Classic commendations) for affordable prices. For the entry level 55 gear, you want to look for Zeskogo, near where the Corellia and Makeb commendation vendors used to be, his wares and prices are shown below:

Really useful if you've come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Really useful if you’ve come from leveling a character on 12x with terrible gear!

Basic commendations can also be used to buy level 60 gear (186 rating) at the same place where Basic gear used to be sold. Prices seem to be the same as they used to be, just the gear has shifted up a few levels.

Then there’s the crew skills. I have not yet breached the new levels yet, but the cap has been raised from 450 to 500 in all crew skills. We’ll probably get the ability to craft up 180 gear and such items, but I can only speculate. Don’t worry though, I’m on the case!

Lexicon is on the job! ;)

Do not fear. Lexicon is on the job!

I have promised a friend that I would wait for him to complete the new areas together, so my exposure to those will be a little delayed though I plan on playing through on the Imperial side in his absence to get a feel for it (and to get a max level Cybertech!) Expect some views on the new sections soon

So… Am I happy with the changes? Yes. For an expansion, the appreciate the changes. To see whether or not it was worth the £12 I’ll have to wait and see what Rishi and Yavin IV have in store for me!

500pts Eldar Scouting Party

Finally getting around to posting up army lists. This is the one that I play in most 500pts games with my Eldar, representing a scouting force designed for small scale skirmishes and observation duties.

The full list can be found by clicking here as the list will be going up in the army list section of the website as a more permanent link.

However, I will also post it below for your viewing pleasure:


Here is my typical 500pts Eldar list. I try to go for a more scout themed list as 500pts is a very small skirmish and likely wouldn’t bring heavier vehicles or dedicated warriors, merely designed to observe and occasionally fight a small skirmish with an enemy warband. This list tries to maintain the scout feel, whilst also keeping a competitive edge with the volume of shooting that the list can kick out. This list will fall apart in a protracted battle of attrition, or if your opponent shows up with heavy tanks, but it’s themed; if you field this list against a cheese list, you will put up a good fight, with most units having good cover saves, but run the risk of being unable to deal with whatever cheese your opponent’s list revolves around and eventually lose. This list is fair, yet also has a competitive streak to it.
The idea is for the Rangers to use their Infiltrate special rule to set up somewhere largely secluded and pick off higher Toughness enemies or just add their firepower to killing and hopefully pinning enemy infantry. This benefits you in two ways as it may also siphon off enemy units from your main bulk of the army that will be doing most of the damage; people that I play against usually go after the Rangers because they’re very annoying. The War Walkers are the main damage dealers, unloading a ludicrous amount of shooting for such cheap units whilst the Vyper runs distraction or vehicle hunting if your opponent brings any. The Guardians act as a bodyguard unit for the Spiritseer (it’s a more experienced Warlock in my list as I don’t generally use wraith units in my Craftworld, so Spiritseers are rare) and benefit from Conceal, taking them to a 2+ cover save. I generally roll on Runes of Battle, but roles on Telepathy could give you Invisibility, and the Primaris power is a great deterrent for any unit wanting to get close and already brave the Guardian unit’s considerable close range shooting.

500pts Ithyl-Loc Scouting Party

HQ

Warlock Arduin Zatherith – 70pts
Spiritseer – 70pts

Elites

Troops

The People – 110pts
10 Guardian Defenders – 90pts
Scatter laser – 20pts

The Eyes of the Craftworld – 60pts
5 Rangers – 60pts

Path of the Outcast – 60pts
5 Rangers – 60pts

Fast Attack

Hounds of Kurnous – 60pts
Vyper – 50pts
Bright lance – 10pts

Heavy Support

The Foundation – 70pts
War Walker – 60pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
Scatter laser – 5pts

Murehketh Bein Hekhita – 70pts
War Walker – 60pts
Scatter laser – 5pts
Scatter laser – 5pts

Fortification

Lord of War

Total – 500pts