Monday 28 December 2015

St Andrews Wargaming- 2015 in Review

As 2015 draws to a close, I thought I would take the opportunity to look at what has happened in the past year with respect to my hobbying. So put your feet up, grab the leftover turkey and join me in reminiscing over the past 12 months.

Have a random picture that in no way represent this post.
The Blog
By far the biggest change in my hobbying for this year was starting this very blog you are reading right now (or at least, quickly skimming through until you find something of interest).

Despite playing 40k for over 10 years now, I have only become a recent active member on the online community. It is only in the past 18 or so months that I have become a more active member of 40k online. I used to read the occasional blog or rumour site online to keep up to date with what was happening, but never dreamed of commenting on any posts or articles, never mind starting my own blog.
That all changed when I became more active in the St Andrews University gaming club. I became the wargames rep for a year and starting running a campaign and organising apocalypse games within the club. As part of the campaign, I started sending out weekly updates to the group with battle reports of my games that week. I started wanting to share my opinions on gaming with others, to highlight some of the terrain projects that I had been working on and to comment on some of the changes to 40k that were happening.
This all came to a head when I signed up to attend Blog Wars 9. Since I would be attending Blog Wars, I decided that I wanted to have my own blog. It was something I had been thinking about for a while and finally took the plunge in April. Fortunately, I had the club's upcoming apocalypse game as a nice starting point for the blog, allowing me to showcase a huge battle in my first few posts.

I want to give a big shout out to Dave (Confessions of a 40k addict) and Alex (From the Fang) for their advice on starting the blog and for the continued inspiration that their blogs provide. It's highly unlikely you are not aware of their blogs, but if you are not, check them out.

I have found that having the blog has been a huge boost to my own hobby progress. Wanting to share my progress on projects and games has led me to spend a lot more time on 40k than I have been previously; playing on a regular basis, actually getting stuff painted in a timely fashion, attending tournaments for the first time in over a decade, reading and commenting on many of the fantastic blogs I follow. Having the blog has given me a lot of excitement towards 40k at the moment, and I hope it continues into the future.

New Army
This year, I purchased a brand new army- my White Scars.

After buying a load of marines on ebay, I was tempted to start a new Space Marine army. I already had a Dark Angels army, but the 6th edition codex was not great and was severely outclassed by the Space Marine codex. I was missing playing my marines, so decided to start a new force.

I was always fond of the White Scars since I first saw Paul Sawyer's amazing army in White Dwarf years ago. A more recent White Dwarf with the Stormtalon painted in the White Scars colours sold me on the army after the St Andrews club picked up a new Stormtalon and I got to paint it.

Since January, my army has advanced quite nicely to a sizeable force. As might be expected, it features a lot of bikes and transports. I have taken them to a couple of tournaments and they have performed really well for me.

The addition of the new rules for White Scars has made them an even more powerful force with some great new formations and relics.

The "End" of Warhammer Fantasy
2015 saw the biggest change to Games Workshop's 2nd major property with the End Times series of books followed by the "death" of 8th Edition fantasy and the launch of Age of Sigmar.

My first foray into wargaming began with Warhammer Fantasy. Back in 5th Edition, I had a fledgling Undead army consisting of a couple of units of skeletons, some skeleton horsemen, some wraiths, a vampire and a couple of Necromancers. It was unlike any other game I had ever played and I was instantly hooked. Not long after, 3rd edition 40k was released and my friend and I moved over to the grim dark future, where I have loitered ever since.

I got very excited with the release of End Times Nagash. I have always been a big fan of Nagash's story and have a soft spot for the Undead as they were my first army. I picked up the book and loved the story and where it was going. I got so excited for the End Times storyline that I decided to start a Vampire Counts army. I picked up a load of stuff for my Vampire Counts and pored over online tactical articles to see what worked best for my army. I also got a lot of the force painted very quickly, difficult to do with large blocks of infantry that fantasy needs.

I bought all of the End Times books and loved the storyline and tales told within each.

Then GW did the unthinkable. They actually destroyed the Old World and re-launched Fantasy as Age of Sigmar. A completely different game. A skirmish game.

I have played a little of Age of Sigmar (my first and second impressions of the game have been posted previously), but wasn't overly fond of the game. I haven't had a chance to play any more games as I have been busy with my 40k campaign, but would like to try it again in the New Year and even get some 8th edition games played.

In preparation for this post, I asked the group at Dundee Wargames Club if they were still playing Age of Sigmar and were excited for the release. Quite a few of the members replied to say that they were still enjoying the game, with a few talking about starting new armies next year. Others had tried the game and enjoyed it, but the lack of points values is the biggest sticking point, making pick up games more difficult to organise.

I really was not expecting such a drastic change to take place in fantasy. Especially with the End Times only lasting about a year in total. I know that you can still play 8th edition fantasy, but I don't think I've seen a single game played since Age of Sigmar was released, much the same way that I don't see many games of 3-5th edition 40k played at the club (not a direct comparison, I know, but close enough).

I enjoyed painting up my Vampire Counts and playing a few games of fantasy during the End Times, but in hindsight, I would have preferred to spend the money elsewhere, perhaps on a new 40k army.

Tournament Play
Another huge change to my hobbying this year was that I started to attend tournaments. Previously to 2015, I had attended two tournaments. Both were in Edinburgh and both were run by GW to give you an idea of how long ago this was.

To date, I have attended five tournaments this year; Havoc 2015 (Dundee), Blog Wars 9 (Stockport), Clan Clash 2015 (Aberdeen),  Rapid Fire 2015 (Stirling) and Blog Wars X (Stockport). You can check out my battle reports and thoughts on the tournaments in the Tournament Reports tab above.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the tournaments that I have attended. They have all given me some fantastic opponents to face and some really tough games to test my tactical knowledge and army selection.

I find tournament play to be useful for honing my skills in regular games. Decisions tend to carry more weight in tournament games where the outcome could have a big effect on how well you do. That's not to say that regular club games do not offer a challenge (just check out some of my battle reports to see otherwise), but I will generally try more risky tactics or manoeuvres in a club game at times, as it will lead to more interesting situations or games. Mistakes are usually punished pretty harshly in some tournament games, and I'll admit, it can be quite disheartening when your army is utterly crushed by a really strong list.

Also, despite being more competitive in general, tournament games can still be a lot of fun. I have had some fantastic games against some great opponents at tournaments. In this respect, Blog Wars stands out in my mind, I have had some really fun games full of intense tactical ploys on both sides and games where we both can't stop laughing over terrible dice rolling.

I hope to continue this trend in the new year and go to some more fantastic events.

New Codices
This year saw the release of two new Codices for my armies: Codex Space Marines and Codex Dark Angels.

The new Space Marine codex had a few changes for my White Scars (which I previously reviewed) to help improve the army. Some of new formations in the book looked interesting, but were not ideally suited to the White Scars. This was solved with the War Zone Damocles: Kauyon expansion, that included some very thematic formations for the White Scars.

One of the biggest excitements for me this year was the release of the new Dark Angels codex. Not only that, but it was a really good codex.
Dark Angels were my first army and I have always loved the history and aesthetic of the Dark Angels. However, they have suffered from rather lacklustre codices for the past few editions, being severely outclassed by the "vanilla" marine codex in almost all respects. The release of the 7th edition codex saw the Dark Angels recover a lot of ground in becoming a very strong army. In particular, the new rules for the Ravenwing have made them an extremely strong force that are seeing a lot of use in tournament lists, either on their own or in combination with other Space Marine Chapters.

My own Ravenwing army had a lot of success at Blog Wars X, having three great games and showing how powerful the army could be.

Dundee Wargames Club
I find that a great games club really enhances your enthusiasm for the hobby and I am fortunate enough to live near a great games club.

This year, I started attending Dundee Wargames Club. It has really helped with my hobby progress this year to have a group of like-minded hobbyists to play games with on a regular basis and provide much of the content for the blog. I get to play some great opponents there who have no problem with me constantly interrupting the game to take photos and notes for my battle reports and am indebted to everyone who gives me such great games and are happy to let me display their armies on the blog and who contribute to the battle reports.

At the moment, we are in the middle of the Medusa IV map-based campaign that I am running. I was really surprised by the interest when I proposed running the campaign and how enthusiastic all the players in the campaign have been. As you will probably know, these sort of large campaigns die very quickly without an excited and enthusiastic player base. Thanks to everyone involved in it and I hope to have a few surprises in the new year to keep everyone interested.

Also, a big thank you to everyone who runs the club in Dundee. I have no idea how much time and effort goes into running a successful wargames club (a lot, I imagine), but the people at Dundee Wargames Club do a fantastic job. The recent addition of a load of gaming mats have made games look even better and they work tirelessly each week to get the table set up with interesting terrain layouts before everyone arrives for a solid night of gaming.

I've had a great year of hobbying in 2015. A lot of this has been due to the blog, it is great for pushing me to get stuff done so that I can post it as content, whether that be painting, reviews or battle reports.
Another bonus is all the new friends I have made in the past year through 40k, either at the club or fellow bloggers.

Overall, it has been a brilliant year for St Andrews Wargaming and I hope it continues in 2016.

What about you dear reader? What have been your hobby highlights for 2015? Leave a comment below.
Also, please let me know if you have any suggestions for the blog or things you would like to see next year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review. Always interesting to read people's reflections. I'm hoping to get mine up in the next 48 hours! Otherwise it'll be to late!