Archive for the ‘Dark Age’ Category


Runewars: The Miniatures Game is Final Fantasy Games’ newest big game system, and it is looking to be huge. Set in the Runebound universe, players fight for dominance on the battlefield, using sword and spear, magic and huge beasts to vanquish each other, and rule the fantasy realm of Terrinoth.

First things first, I know absolutely nothing about the Runebound Universe, and so this review is likely to miss a few marks and infuriate some die-hard fans. Sorry! Feel free to track me down and message me incorrect facts about things I like!

Runewars is an interesting hybrid of a game. Mixing troop-based ground combat with the Flight Path System used in games such as X-Wing, it presents itself as something familiar to fans of existing games, yet different enough to not feel like a simple re-skin. Much like games such as X-Wing and both variants of Attack Wing, this starter set contains enough for two starter forces, one of the noble Daqan Lords (read: generic high-fantasy humans) and the other re-animated forces of Waiqar the Undying (read: skeletons, monster worms and other gooey nasties), and all the miniatures, dice, tokens and assorted gubbins needed to addict you and and a friend to your newest set of plastic crack.


Opening up the hefty box, we are presented with three booklets and some cardboard sprues full of token style things. We immediately fling those to one side, because Holy Tolkien, this thing has some beautiful miniatures! On a quick look, there’s forty-six assorted soldiers and cavalry and things, and two huge monsters. All of them have some exquisite detail, and I am immediately drawn to something called a Rune Golem. It’s a big rock-like man-thing with tasty looking swords and the box art tells me that it has an internal blue glow, and it is very tempting to just stop this review right now and go paint it. No. I won’t. I’ll finish this first. I hope you understand how tough this is for me.

Unlike some other FFG titles, the models in this set come unpainted and need some assembly. 

The tokens are nicely designed, all in cardboard, as are the movement templates and range ruler. The dice are 8-sided, and contain some nice custom symbols.

Back to the three booklets, we have Learn to Play, Rules Reference and Lore Guide. I’m a big fan of this format, as it’s a really good way to get into the game. Learn to Play gives you the basics of the system, how to build a force, how to move, how to fight, and a simple one-on-one skirmish scenario. It introduces some more complex elements, but focuses on getting you to grips with how to play the game. The Rules Reference is a wonderful idea. I’ve seen it in other FFG releases, and it’s the closest thing to an “argument settler” that you’re going to get. What happens is my Rune Golem flanks your Archers? It’s in the book. What if I can’t work out how many dice to roll? That’s in the book too.The Lore Guide is pure chrome, and if the other books introduce you to the game, this introduces you to the world that that game exists in, and the factions at war within it.


I’m not going to dive too in-depth into the rules, that’s what the rulebook is for, but I’ll try to convey the general ideas. 

Each unit in your army has a double dial thingy that sets what that unit will be doing that round. It doesn’t define what direction the unit will be moving in, like X-Wing, but defines what type of action that unit will perform, such as moving, attacking and shooting. The second dial can modify the first, adding attack dice, bolstering defence and the like.

Movement uses movement templates almost exactly like every other game that uses the Flight Path system, to guide the position of your troops. The difference comes when one unit meets another. All the other versions are based in space or aerial combat, and the aim is not to bump into your opponent, but to line up clever shots and angles on them. This is not so in Runewars. You actually want to crash into your opponent, charging into their forces and attacking them head on, or even forcing a flanking attack, catching a unit unawares. This is the largest difference, to me, from Runewars‘ contemporaries, and it adds a small amount of complexity. Troops perform a function called “squaring up” where they literally form lines against each other, and this doesn’t use any kind of movement template, therefor allowing for exact positioning, and a freer range of movement on the battlefield.


As is standard, troops are bought with points, and given upgrades such as special weapons and character traits. This set contains plenty of such upgrades, and it doesn’t take long to spot some great and effective combos.

Again, I’m really breezing over the rules here as I don’t have a tonne of games under my belt, but it also includes effects such as Boons and Banes, which can help or hinder your troops, panic reactions, and varying levels of magic, that can ruin the best laid plans, or pull victory from a seemingly definite defeat.

In summary, Runewars seems to be a very in-depth, rewarding experience. In terms of complexity, it definitely ranks above X-Wing, in a similar area to D&D: Attack Wing or Star Wars: Armada. It’s not, by any means, a difficult game to learn, but keeping track of the various multipliers and game effects at once will take some diligence, and I doubt the rule book will be far from hand for quite a while. If this sounds like a negative, it really isn’t, it’s actually to the strength of the game; you won’t feel like there’s nothing left to master any time soon, and it will keep you coming back to try new tactics time and time again.

Realistically, the price tag may seem a little scary to fans of X-Wing and Star Trek: Attack Wing, but the contents are not comparable. Both space games contain three miniatures. Runewars contains many multi-part, multi-size characters screaming for customisation. Which is what I’m off to do right now.

Can I Fit LEDs in a Rune Golem?/10
Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work on Facebook and Instagram.

Advertisements

Omer Ibrahim digs in to the new Conan board game, to find out what is best in life, but discovers just how little he really knows about Conan the Barbarian.

51ds2Ey7G5L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_How to Plan a Crusade is A lively and compelling account of how the crusades really worked, and a revolutionary attempt to rethink how we understand the Middle Ages

The story of the wars and conquests initiated by the First Crusade and its successors is itself so compelling that most accounts move quickly from describing the Pope’s calls to arms to the battlefield. In this new book, Christopher Tyerman instead focuses on something obvious but overlooked: the massive, all-encompassing and hugely costly business of actually preparing for a crusade. The efforts of many thousands of men and women, who left their lands and families in Western Europe, and marched off to a highly uncertain future in the Holy Land and elsewhere have never been sufficiently discussed and analysed before.

maxresdefault

How to Plan a Crusade is a great, fun read; and it’s certainly refreshing to see The Crusades tackled from a rather unique perspective.  We’ve seen military and religious analysis before, but I don’t know that I’ve ever come across something that actually tackles the…the business…of running a Crusade before.  The logistics and finances take centre-stage here.  While that may sound tedious, in the execution it’s actually very engaging and entertaining.  Tyerman speaks passionately on the subject, and it’s his writing style that is the main part of what makes How to Plan a Crusade so entertaining, though.

I will, say, though, that this is not a great book to pick up if you’re a complete newbie when it comes to The Crusades.  A lot of prior knowledge is assumed, with dates and names fired off with no introduction or context.  If you’re already interested in The Crusades, then this is highly recommended – pick it up for a fresh perspective on an aspect that you may not even has considered before…but if you’re a complete novice, you may want to do some other reading first.

Abomination

Posted: September 30, 2015 in Books, Dark Age, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

24762706

ENGLAND, 888 A.D.

As King Alfred the Great struggles to defend his realm from hordes of Viking invaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury stumbles upon an ancient secret — dark magic that could turn the tide of the war in England’s favor. But when exposure to the magic corrupts the Archbishop, Alfred commands his greatest Knight, Sir Wulfric, to hunt the mad priest down. For the battle-weary Wulfric it is one final campaign, and one that will bring with it consequences far more terrible than he could ever imagine…

Abomination is an exceptionally well-paced, action filled “monster movie” of a historical fiction novel.  From the outset the pacing and the characters are superb.  The prelude itself feels like a novella in its own right, rather than a feeble bit of plot establishment – and this really pays off, as the story suddenly heads in a totally different direction from what you’re expecting.  I was expecting it to centre around Wulfric travelling the land, dispatching the evil monsters of the Archbishop’s creation…but what I actually got was something very different indeed.

Wulfric_Indra_Final

Wulfric – the central character – is especially sympathetic, and it’s not hard to feel for him through out all of his struggles. He has victories and failures, and suffers many moral quandries along the way – resulting in a very interesting and somewhat bizarre permutation of the “Heroes Journey” trope.  Indra, another Abomination hunter, is a character that that it’s also impossible not to like.  She’s the plucky young heroine, and she kicks as much arse as you’d expect.

Abomination is great at riding the monster movie, horror and fantasy tropes without every slipping into cliche.  You get the comfort of being on familiar territory, but at the same time, you don’t ever groan at the trappings of the genre.  It’s a really great compromise that just makes the whole thing very enjoyable to read.

abomination-banner-artl

The monsters – the titular “abominations” – are superb, and Whitta’s descriptive writing makes them come alive like Stan Winston creatures in your mind – certainly reminiscent of his work on John Carpenter’s The Thing.  The teeth, the cartilage, the stabbing and slashing…all great stuff.  The blood and gore is strong, but again, he’s very careful not to stray into splatterpunk cliche.

All in all, Abomination is highly enjoyable.  It pays off in a good, dramatic ending, and the potential for more to follow – but at the same time conclusive.  A really fun exciting read.

9298

It’s the new miniatures wargame that everyone’s talking about (no, not Age of Sigmar)…and so Suppressing Fire’s Joseph Crouch gives us the lowdown on Frostgrave

Frostgrave is my first foray into fantasy wargaming proper. Something that I found, or rather stumbled upon whilst on Facebook in one of those handy (or not so handy, depending on the subject) recommended posts. After having looked at the “nickstarter” and immediately falling in love with the miniatures and basic premise I decided that I must take the plunge.

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

The premise is quite simple. Frostgrave is a long dead city, some Wizards grew a bit too big for their boots and conjured something they shouldn’t have, which leads to the death of its populace, and the destruction of much of the city. Thousands of years later and tales of the city are all that remain, and you, the Player/Wizard are putting a warband together to raid the mad city to gain glory and the gold that comes with it.

To my tender and squidgy mind it reads like your basic fantasy setup, but the more I thought about it the more I likened it to Diablo, Conan the Barbarian (in particular The Tower of the Elephant) and – following along the same lines as that – the Moria sequence in The Lord of the Rings. This idea that I would be raiding a crypt rather mercilessly on some mad quest for loot, trying not to wake up the long unseen beasts that dwell in the depths…or something like that.  The idea that this game could encompass the gloom of dungeon crawling with the high action of a skirmish game was not lost on me either, and the prospect of being able to micromanage my warband over a campaign seemed far too novel for it not to be one of Frostgrave’s successes.

(Models and terrain by Joseph Crouch and Ömer Ibrahim.)

(Models and terrain by Joseph Crouch and Ömer Ibrahim.)

To this date I have played three games of Frostgrave, so I’m still getting to grips with it’s intricacies as well as marvelling at the sheer amount of customisation and storytelling the game almost begs you to throw onto it. After a long think and a few bouts of soul searching with other SF contributor Robert Lindsay, I had it firmly affirmed within me that I am an evil bastard and should probably be the Necromancers. Thus, The Murderess was born, and with her, “Frederic Fassbender” the fabulous apprentice, “The Grinning Death” a female Nord barbarian and a slew of other lesser characters that even now are coalescing fuller characterisation with every game I play.

Yes, even the Zombie that my character can raise has a name.

And this is exactly what I have loved every moment of Frostgrave for the vagueness of it, the allowance and encouragement of bringing your own version of the twisted city into being. I’ve spent more time getting it ready and forming this small mythos in my head than I have playing it (for good or for bad).

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

Firstly, you must create your wizard. You can do this by first choosing the school of magic they will be; Necromancer, Thaumaturgist, Sigilist etc…and then further customising them by selecting the initial spells they will be using in the game.

Then you are ready, mostly.

The basic scenario is quite simple, at the very start of a campaign each player will start of with their Wizard and 500 gold coins that are intended for the purchasing of your first basic warband and an apprentice (the book makes it very clear that although an apprentice is not mandatory, it is in fact highly recommended you have one at your side). So, you both assemble your warband and attempt your first scenario, there’s the basic one wherein 6 treasure tokens are placed around a map and your goal is to loot as much of it as possible, or if you’re like me, kill everyone before they can pick up anything. Then there’s other more lore filled scenarios, a particular favorite of mine being the “mausoleum” scenario that focuses on you having to loot a crypt in the center of the map whilst Skeletal Knights pour out of it every turn.

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

I’ve played that one twice because Skeletal Knights are perhaps the best thing ever.

At the end of each scenario the players total up their loot and roll for injuries/deaths on their warband, as well as totaling up experience for their Wizards in order for them to improve or even learn new spells.

YES, I did say experience, because over the course of the game the Wizard will earn experience points for performing certain actions, eventually attaining a level and a point in which to spend either improving the casting number on a spell or an attribute.

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

(Models painted by Joseph Crouch and Robert Lindsay. Terrain courtesy of Rochester Games, Models & Railways)

Beyond this is a fantastic meta-game in which you can look after your warband, buy them gear, learn new spells and even customise a base that will grant your team certain buffs over the course of the entire campaign.

If it’s starting to feel like this game was designed to pull in gamers of a different kind then I think you’d be right in feeling that way. I, myself, am primarily a video gamer and love the thought of micromanaging my Wizard and warband in-between games. This approach lifts what could be a basic idea into something very memorable that exists past the core limitations of a skirmish game, and even introduces ideas brought over from paper RPG’s creating something, for lack of a better word, Epic.

9781472815538_2

Additionally, I’ve read the supplemental book Tales from the Frozen City and have mixed feelings about it. It’s a great addition for someone that wants to rely on official lore, or someone that hasn’t quite decided what their starting wizard will be as it showcases each wizard and their particular skillset and alignment within the world of Frostgrave, but beyond that it doesn’t really add anything particularly exciting to the world, i.e a big bad for us to worry about and then dream of what Reaper Miniature will be of use for such evil, something I am sure they will rectify in the Thaw of the Lich Lord expansion due in November.

In short, I think I’ll be playing Frostgrave for a while. I couldn’t recommend it enough, it’s perfect for beginners like me and seasoned players who enjoy elements of RPG mixed in with their skirmish games.

It’s got my imagination by the cajones and it’s not letting go.

105800 It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly two years now since Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium was unleashed upon wargamers the world over.  Now, it’s back, significantly cheaper, and significantly lighter…yet still bursting with all – if not more – of the content that made its original release so awesome.

There are many great things about The Wargaming Compendium that make it an essential purchase, but one of the things to strike me upon reading it cover to cover for the first time is how useful it is no matter if this is the first thing you’ve ever read on wargaming, or if you’re an old hand who’s devoted his spare bedroom over to a 32mm recreation of The Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Within are tips and guides for choosing which era you want to fight in, how to prep and paint figures, how to build and lay-out terrain…pretty much everything you could need. Complete games/rulesets are supplied, as well as a pretty comprehensive directory of conventions, websites, magazines and publishers.  All periods of history are covered, from Ancients to Ultra-Modern, with a fair amount of discussion also given over to fantasy and sci-fi games. I cannot recommend this book enough.

No matter what your experience level, or what aspect of wargaming you are interested in, there is plenty in here to make it worth your while.  And now it’s lighter, as well. Bonus.

Buy it with your hands.  Again.

I couldn’t not show you all this post of a Giant Wooden Rabbit.

H.A.W.K.S.

Chris Palmer     This weekend I finished up a couple 10mm stands for my ?Bear Yourselves Valiantly? fantasy armies.  The first of these is a 10mm 3-D printed ?Trojan Rabbit?, purchased from Shapeways.  My friend, Buck Surdu, and I both got one of these; and in talking about it, we decided we?d treat it as a kind of self-propelled  armored personal carrier.  So, to enable the ?self-propelled? part, I modified some extra War-of-the-Roses figures I had to become ?pushers?, and glued them on the base as if pushing the rabbit forward.

Un cadeau!

Let?s hope they remembered to get inside this time!

   The other figure I completed this week was an Elf Wizard for my Sea-Elf army.  I used an extra GW High Elf Wizard I had, and painted him in my Sea-Elf army colors.  I tried to paint him as if standing upon a water spout, and…

View original post 19 more words

“Wolf’s Head” by Steven A. McKay

IMG_2786.JPG

After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman, the young Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions – including John Little and Will Scaflock – hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals. When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance. Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II’s rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight.

“Wolf’s Head” – the first in the “The Forest Lord” series opens up feeling like a fun, Errol Flynn-type Sunday afternoon swashbuckling adventure, but before long, one realises that this is not the story we thought we knew.  Several aspects of the tale are much darker and more violent than we have previously seen them. 

The phrase “gritty reboot” has become something of a joke these days, but it seems to apply here.  In fact, the violence sometimes seems to border on the extreme – this is certainly an 18+ novel!  It is, if you will, a story for kids who have grown up. 

The characters are all engaging and interesting, with old favourites such as Will Scarlet and Little John, meeting up with new and lesser know names and faces.

The plot is very well presented.  Whenever you think you’ve got a handle on where it’s going or what is going to happen next, it throws you a surprise, and heads off in a totally unexpected, though always credible direction.  The ending feels conclusive, but still leaves you keen to get onto the sequel.

A fun historical fiction adventure that’s well worth checking out.