Bloodbowl: Skaven vs Chaos Dwarves

“Welcome sports Fans! Well, what a game that was. We had thrills, we had spills and we had a healthy dose of gratuitous brutality. I’m Ken Krippler and in this part of the show we will review the game from the perspective of our winning team, the Reikland River Rats. We are joined by the team coach and Greyseer, Pyrhus Palepaws. Tell me Pyrhus, did you predict that victory?”

“I always predict victory, for the Great Horned Rat has shown me visions of how my team will be invincible this season.”

“Well, that’s great to know for all those Rats fans out there. So what did you think of your teams performance today?”

“I was pleased with the result, but disappointed by those malingerers, taken off in stretchers. None of their wounds were fatal. They should have been able to get back into the game.”

“Yes… perhaps. Your team often suffered serious casualties during their qualifying matches. Does this worry you?”

“Not as all. They have not yet lost a match, even when they were almost all hospitalised by the Utterly Savage Association. They know that winning is everything and that there are things I can do that are far worse than any death that you mere humans can imagine.”

“…er…ok then. Moving on. Let’s join our expert commentator Bob Bibbins and take a look at the match.”

“This was the first match of the new Mantis-Bowl, but it looks like we had both lovely weather and a good turnout, with just a few more River-Rats fans out there. And it looked like coach Pyrhus had his team well psyched up and ready for the play.”

“There were some last minute changes to the River Rats lineout when thrower Sneek Barbjaw was thrown off the team for trying to steal from the petty cash, but despite only fielding 11 players, those Skaven were looking good.”

“Similarly, their opponents, the Chaos Small-stars were also fielding a team with no reserves, which took a toll on both teams.”

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“So, what about that action today?”

“The Reikland River Rats received and there was a lovely opening play, with quarterback and team captain, Ratchitt Sleekit, passing to Amscray Scattersprint, who made a beautiful run, but was brutally brought down by one of the Bull-centaurs.”

Those bull-centaurs are certainly some of the most troublesome players on the Small-stars team, Bob.

“And the most vicious. After hospitalizing Amscray, that Centaur was sent off for a vicious foul on Skratch Mankarver, allowing Shagzwell Skuttlespike a chance to take possession and run a beautiful touchdown.”

“yes. That was certainly a good result for the River Rats. Those gutter runners are great at scoring touchdowns”

“The Skaven fans were going wild, giving lots of encouragement, when the Small-stars were receiving. That offensive line of there were extremely effective, putting another two Skaven players in the hospital. Flyting Hurpeez and Skititch Skavenspine. But then Jhenny Tailwortz managed to cripple on of their hobgoblin players.”

“I hear he had a broken hip, Bob.”

“And then Blitzer, Skritch Swiftkik managed to get possession score a second touchdown for the River Rats.”

It looked like the Small-Stars were more interested in injuries than touchdowns.

“That’s a good observation, Ken. It was close to the end of the second half and the chaos dwarf team decided to focus on taking out as many players as they could after that.”

“Yes. Their Dwarves were determined to kill the River Rats’ rat ogre, Danger Mouse.”

“Very true. I lost track of how many times he was tackled or fouled in that match. He seemed to he stunned for most of the match. He was stretchered off just before half time, but fortunately for the river Rats, he was roaring his way back onto the field at half time.”

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“I don’t know what warpstone concoction they put into his half time juice, but it certainly seemed to do the trick, Bob.”

“In the second half the Chaos Small-star coach seemed to have lost his focus.”

“I heard he was up all night in some bizarre chaos ritual, to invoke the dark powers to further bless his team.”

“I don’t know about dark powers, but the Dwarf blockers had some interesting tactics, ignoring the Rat Ogre and pairing up against the Skaven blitzers. Despite that, things certainly seemed to favor the River Rats in the second half. They had better coaching and the fans were certainly giving them more support too. Then Jhenny Tailwortz surprised the fans when she put one of the dwarf blitzers in the hospital.

“I’m told he had two smashed ribs and will definitely be missing their next match.”

“An then Skritch Swiftkik managed to impale a Hobgoblin.”

“I heard that one had a punctured lung, but is recovering and will be back in training soon, Bob.”

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“The Chaos Small-stars went back to focusing on trying to take Danger Mouse off the field and he was soon passed out, back in the dugout. There was some lovely ball control from the Hobgoblins, with several neat passes, but then a fumble gave the River Rats a chance to blitz through their defences.”

“Yes. With two players in the dungeon and three in the hospital, there were several holes in the defensive line that the nimble Skaven players could exploit.”

“And once again it was Shagzwell who took possession and brought the ball home for a third touchdown.”

“yes, Shagzwell looks like he will certainly be a player to watch out for.”

“That he is, Ken.”

 

“The rest of the game was a lot less eventful.”

“It still made great viewing. Both teams were down on men. The Skaven had more knocked out, but the Dwarves had more players sent off. The Hobgoblins were making some good plays and the remaining Bull-centaur and the Chaos Dwarves made some great tackles.”

“Yes, but the River Rats made some good tackles too, with possession of the ball changing hand a few times, but the Small-stars just weren’t able to get past those sneaky Skaven.”

“Very true.”

“So there you have it. The first match of what looks like it will be a very interesting season of the new Mantis-Bowl tournament and our first winning team, the Reikland river Rats. So, tell me Bob, what do you think about the players and how they performed?”

“Well, for me the obvious man of the match for the Small-stars was their Hobgoblin quarterback. He made some beautiful passes and had possession of the ball far more than any other player.”

“Yes. The fans seemed to be with you on that choice, Bob.”

“And for the River Rats I am torn between Jhenny Tailwortz, who seems to be better at crippling the opposing players than the Rat Ogre, Shagzwell Skuttlespike for his two elegant touchdowns or Skritch Swiftkik for that surprise touchdown.”

“Yes. those all sound like good choices to me, but strangely the fans chose Amscray Scattersprint as man of the match.”

“I think it just reflects the education level of the average Skaven fan. I don’t think they can tell the difference between the number two or the number three.”

“Judging by the state of the toilets I don’t think they can tell the difference between a number one or a number two either, Bob.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“Well, that’s it for us. Be sure to join us next week for all the latest Bloodbowl action from the Mantis Bowl tournament.”

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Games Workshop are suddenly acting like a games company.

What has happened to Games Workshop?

What is the new CEO thinking?

After years of ignoring their customers, selling increasingly expensive models that hardly anyone can afford, making rules changes that compel customers to pay a fortune or abandon the hobby and selling huge boxed sets that offer no saving over buying the parts individually, they have suddenly started to get things right.

I first played GW games in the 80s and 90s, so I remembered things like Blood Bowl when it first came out. GW used to do a lot of nice, fun, stand alone games. They also did good spin off games, like Necromunda.

These games were fun and popular, but to the managers at GW these games were too limited. You only needed a few models. You bought your team, or your gang and that was it. You might occasionally buy a few new models to update your gang or team, but you didn’t need to keep buying more.

Warhammer 40K offered far better sales potential. Players could spend thousands of pounds or more on an army and then, when a new codex or a new edition came out, suddenly find their army obsolete if they didn’t spend hundreds or thousands more. This made money for GW, but it also cost them customers.

GW customers tend to fit into 3 groups. The teens who think the models look cool and get their parents to buy then an army. The geeky students for whom this is their main social activity (along with tabletop RPGs). The 30 or 40 something professionals who got hooked as teens or students.

The  trouble is that parents don’t want to fork out hundreds for something the child might quickly bore of. Students generally can’t afford to keep going when the editions change. This leaves the professionals who never grew up as the core customers. They could afford the big Knights, Titans and other giant war machines, but they were a limited market. GW needed more new players.

When they were criticized by customers, their response in the past has been “we are a first and foremost a model company, not a games company”. This is an utterly idiotic stance, because without the games, nobody would be buying the models. The models from the last few years may have looked great, but they did nothing to enhance the experience of playing the games.

What they seem to have forgotten is that it was the simple, easy, cheap games which attracted customers. Warhammer has often been called “plastic crack” and the stand alone games were the gateway drugs of the Warhammer worlds. They were the thing that got you hooked and made you want to keep playing more and more.

I played 40K as a teen in the Rogue Trader era and returned as a mature student in the 5th edition age.  Most of my friends abandoned 40K as soon as it changed to 6th ed. Their Orc and ‘nid armies became less effective and it would cost too much time and effort to try to build new armies.

As a teen I played the Warhammer fantasy RPG, but didn’t have money for the wargaming. I loved the flavour and the details of the Old World. I started collecting a Fantasy army around the time that fantasy was scrapped for copyright reasons. Instead we got the very vague and shapeless world of Age of Sigmar, which seemed a lot like 40K without the guns.The models are very detailed, but the introductory box was about £100 and there was no sense of who could play what models. Players needed to have gentleman’s agreements on what sort of game to play, or it could quickly prove absurd.

Then it all changed:

First it was the start collecting boxes for £50. A nice, small army at a bargain price. HQ, troops and something else at a discounted price. In the past GW had done some nice, bargain battleforces and it was a welcome return to the good old days. Instead of having to advise parents on several boxes to choose, the child just needed to pick an army and they had a perfect starter set, ready to assemble.

Next they brought in points values for AoS models. something which the community had desperately been screaming for. The rest of the General’s Handbook was a disappointment, but it was another step in the right direction. The objectives for battles did change the game considerably. Players with lots of weak squads having more versatility than those with a small number of unstoppable elite heroes and troops.

Then, tied in with the release and promotion of Deathwatch kill teams, 40K got the Kill Team game. A version of the 40K game which only used 200 points of models, with a few extra rules. A single squad of brave veterans against another small, elite force. It was a perfect entry game for Warhammer 40K.

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The Battle for Vedros boxes, which news leaked out about last year, are finally out, allowing children to have a cheap, easy to learn, introductory way into 40K. By using the old Black Reach snap fit models it kept costs down and made assembly easy for kids.

Then Blood Bowl returned. A fast and dynamic fun game, that did not need players to keep buying more models. The rules are relatively simple and it is more tactical than simply beating the opponent into submission. The turnover rule also means you need to think about what order to make moves, as a failed throw or a tripped player will end your turn.

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Now GW have brought out a series of boxes with a squad and a transport for little fore than the cost of a transport. £35 for a squad of marines in a drop pod, or Pathfinders in a Devilfish. Bargain. It is things like this that make people want to buy more.

My friend often complains that his wife can’t stop spending money. She goes out for some milk ans spends hundreds on things that were reduced, because she couldn’t resist a bargain. GW have suddenly noticed that bargains means sales.

It even looks like Sisters of Battle are finally getting plastic models and a new codex, after a decade and more of people crying out for both.

For Age of Simar they have done two great things.

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The first was Storm of Sigmar. A smaller introductory box for AoS, with just a few of the Stormcast Eternals and Bloodbound, along with dice and rules. Importantly it is only £20! That means that new players are getting to try the game for £20 ($33) instead of £95. They have also got starter paint boxes for both bloodbound and Stormcast for £10. Parents will happily put that under the Christmas tree and even better is that the best way to expand either force is with the pre-existing starter box. They have also got easy build boxes for the models in Storm of Sigmar, although buying the Storm of Sigmar box would get you the same models at half the cost.

In short, they are making it easy for kids to get into Age of Sigmar.

They have also brought back Island of Blood, albeit under a new name. Two full armies, with 74 models for just £50 (or $80). That is less than it cost when they discontinued the old boxed set, but this time you get twice as many bases, giving you a choice of what shaped bases to use. Spire of Dawn is a much better introduction into Age of Sigmar than the Age of Sigmar starter set.

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By bringing back some classic fantasy races this also makes AoS more accessible to people conceptually, than with the eternal, and pretty pointless, celestial struggle between the immortal warriors of Order and Chaos.

Well done Games Workshop. Well done Kevin Rountree.

 

Out of the warp

For decades the Genesis chapter has struggled to eradicate the double threat of the ‘nid infestation and the green-skin hordes that had menaced the Gower star cluster. Aided by the brave men of the Cadian 501st they finally eradicated the last remnants of the Waargh! Mrkoms from the Swein’s Eye star system. As the chapters vast citadel battleship made its way through the warp the chapter master considered how they might best prepare for their new challenge. Their orders from terra were sending them far across the galaxy, to the very limits of the Empire, there to do battle with the unknown forces that had destroyed several outlying colony world. After generations spent fighting Orcs and ‘nids they had becomes used to a certain way of fighting. They knew their enemy and they knew what to expect. This time, things would be different. The intelligence reports showed that a lot of new xenos technology has been developed during the last few decades and they were developing new tactics too. Obviously courage and dedication would be essential in bringing victory, but they might need more and it was his duty as chapter master to ensure that they did not fail. They weren’t in Swein’s Eye any more. After two years in the void they were nearing their destination. The rules of war were changing and it was up to him to adapt or the chapter would perish.

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The translation into normal English is that I have been stuck in the middle of a remote backwater of China for the last two years (not unlike the warp) in an area where Games Workshop is completely unknown. However my new job is taking me to the fringes of the known galaxy or at least the southern edge of China, to a slightly more international city. I will be in Shenzhen from September and I have discovered that they have a single gaming store with some regular ex-pat wargamers. I have thus decided to dust off my miniatures and bring a few of them with me.
I mostly played 5th edition in Swansea, only playing two games with 6th edition rules. I have never played seventh edition. I have no flyers and haven’t bought any new models for years. My forces are going to be hopelessly outdated and as my undefeated 501st army will take up far too much space, it is my less powerful Space Marine force that I plan to bring with me back to China.
I can foresee a series of defeats and setbacks in my future as the Genesis chapter face off against their new opponents, but it will be interesting to see how much the game has changed in the last three years.

Army photos

When I began this blog I had already assembled most of my force, and so I was unable to do a unit by unit description of the assembly and painting of the army.

I think that the whole force deserves that sort of recognition, and so I have begun a more complete record of every unit in the army, with information on how it fits into the force organisation.

Just look under the 501st tab above to get a look at the units which make up the Cadian 501st.  More photos and description will be added as and when I get the time.

How it began

A long time ago, back when I was at school a game came out called Rogue Trader, or Warhammer 40,000. My friends and I were fans of roleplaying games but had not played any wargames before. One of my friends had bought the game along with hundreds of marines. In order to play against him my brother, my best friend and I assembled an army of Orcs between us. To be honest, it was less the gameplay so much as collecting and painting the figures which appealed to me. These years saw the great decline in Games workshop, when they went from catering to all roleplayers to when they exclusively produced and advertised models for their own games. As games workshop and white dwarf turned their backs on roleplayers I turned my back on games workshop. A few years later we went off to university and I didn’t play warhammer again. 

 

That changed a couple of years ago.  After a few false starts I had returned to university again and found myself sharing a house with a bunch of geeks.  Role players, wargamers, obsessive MMORPG players, sci-fi fans; in short, my kind of people.   Three of them were keen warhammer 40,000 players, although by now the game was in it’s 4th edition and was barely recognisible as the game I remembered.  Tom was a marine player and worked at the local games workshop, Pete played chaos and Steve played imperial guard.  Steve was not very confident at painting and since I remembered how much I used to enjoy painting the old citadel miniatures I offered to help paint some of his troops as he prepared them for a gamesday in Nottingham.  I was quite pleased with how they came out and wanted to paint some more, so I bought myself a box of Cadians to paint.  I did consider trying something else, but to be honest I liked the weakness and humanity of the guard.  I hadn’t really planned to keep going as much as I did, but the plastic crack is aptly named.  Soon my first squad of guard were complete and then I began on a cadian battleforce box.  My first squad were painted in standard Cadian colours, because at the time I hadn’t given any thought to designing my own uniforms for a unique army.  Having started that way, it simply seemed right to continue.  I did give a bit more thought to the unit number.  I wanted to use a number from the transfer sheet and the number 501 seemed like the most appealing.  501 looked a bit like Sol, denoting their allegiance to the human home system but in Roman numerals is written as DI, which seemed to have so many possible cool connotations.  Thus it was that the 501st Cadian “Death Incarnate” was born.