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10/25/2015

Xathrodox86 comments on: "End Times: Vermintide", "TW: Warhammer" and other stuff

It's a busy week that we're having right now. "Vermintide" was launched on Steam, "Total War: Warhammer" recieved new trailer and "Horus Heresy" is (finally) moving forward... somewhat.

Let's start with "Vermintide". I've been lucky enough to play a single hour of the public beta and my impressions were very, very good. Vermintide may actually bring me back to online gaming, something that even "Payday 2" failed to do. Game's a lot of fun. Yeah, it is basically "Left 4 Dead" dripped in medieval/reneissance sauce, but it works so damn well, it's almost astonishing. Transition from ranged to close combat with a big emphasis on looting and an excellent atmopshere - these are the trademarks of "Vermintide". There's a lot more of course. Music's moody and atmospheric, even if at first glance it can be a little out of place, especially during combat. For me one of the best things about this game is the atmosphere of Ubersreik, the town in which the story takes place. Overrun by Skaven, while the rest of the world burns in the flames of Chaos, it still endures and there are people within its walls who are still trying to push back the tides of darkness. Mists gather on the streets, most doors are locked and the air of lost grandeur is strong in the air. As much as I hate the "End Times" and what they did to Warhammer Fantasy, I have to admit that in this instance they've wroked really well. Heroes discuss things that are happening in the world, like the destruction of Kislev and it really adds to the gloomy and oppresive atmosphere. In the game makers own word: it's not about winning, it's about surviving one more day, before the inevitable end. That's what "End Times: Vermintide" is all about and that's why it feels so good and atmospheric. Not to mention that with a cast of nicely written, classic Warhammer characters, it really feels like a combat-heavy WFRP game with a band of misfits taking on a huge, looming threat. This might be the closest we'll ever get to having a video game version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, at least in terms of atmosphere.

The most badass video game cover ever? You bet!
Then of course, there are Skaven. Guys from Fat Shark made an excellent in depicting everyone's favorite ratmen. Fans of "L4D" will once again be reminded of Valve's zombie-filled title, as they'll eventually encounter many familiar, special enemies. Instead of Smoker we have Clan Moulder pack master with a pole arm, with which they capture their unfortunate enemies and drag them away from their comrades. Hunters have been replaced with Clan Eshin Gutter Runners, who jump on unsuspecting heroes and repeatedly stab them with their Warpstone blades, escaping in a puff of smoke, when surrounded by their victim's allies. Then there are of course the Rat Ogres, nasty Tank-like beasts, who are quick, tough and utterly lethal. Trust me, you'll be missing your familiar M-16's and a trusty SPAS-12 when facing a giant, pissed off rat-beast, instead having to rely on your trusty sword and a pair of flintlock pistols.

One of the strongest and most important features of "Vermintide" is parrying. Unless a player wants to become rat chow in a couple of seconds, he'll need to learn how and when to block incoming attacks, as well as utilise his surroundings, since almost always heroes will be fighting, while completely surrounded by the rat spawn. Some enemies are harder to block than others. A lowly Skaven slave is no threat to a trained Empire soldier, but an elite Stormvermin can be a huge threat, especially when it is a part of a larger patrol. In that case forget about blocking and parrying and just throw some improvised explosives in their general direction. Oh and pray to Sigmar of course.

As I'm writing this, "Vermintide" goes live in a moment... literally. I strongly advise anyone who loves Warhammer Fantasy to grab a copy and play the hell out of it. It's one of the best multiplayer games that came in years and is a refreshing experience, even with its obvious ties to "Left 4 Dead". I totally recommend it.

Now let's take a look at the game that has many strategy fans salivating - "Total War: Warhammer". We've already got annoucements, trailers and even a release date (28th of April, 2016). There is also a lot of worrying and speculation about its quality. Let's face it, the last few "Total War" titles were... very medicore to put it lightly. Tons of bugs on release, attrocious ammounts of DLC's and a general "fuck you" attitude towards fans on the Creative Assembly's forums - these are only some of the problems with this venerable strategy series. I myself have only played "TW: Medieval 2", mainly for the execllent (seriously, download and play it!) Warhammer mod, named "Rage of Dark Gods". Back then these games were still good and since it was before the endless DLC-spam era, people didn't felt like being ripped off on a daily basis. CA already announced the first addon for their upcoming title, which will include Warriors of Chaos. You can get it free if you'll pre-order the game, but expect this to be only the beginning. Most probably we'll see the Gore-adding DLC, tons of factions and possibly units, DLC's and more. I can't say I'm a fan of such policy, but then again it is a sign of modern gaming world. Buying bigger, boxed addons is a thing of the past. Nowdays it's all about small, overpriced DLC's, which add things like new maps, a single weapon, maybe some player skins... I guess it is just a sign of changing times and trends in the electronic industry.

What I really do like about "TW: Warhammer" is its collector's edition. I know that it will be overpriced as hell, but what the heck. Check out the sweet, sweet loot inside. I want that wetstone and that ring in my collection, even if that means that I'll get ripped off. Totally worth it in my book.

However I'd still like to know from which province these soldiers come from...
Anyway what I'm trying to say, is that "Total War: Warhammer" will probably be worth it. It won't have any of that "End Times" nonsense, factions will be unique and will play very differently from one another, the graphics look really, really good and I'm pretty sure that the music will be great. Even weak Warhammer games, like "Mark of Chaos" had great music. DLC spam will be, unfortunately, unavoidable and necessary to get the full experience from this title, but it's something that is not really that weird or unexpected nowdays. I know I'm going to play it and I advise you to at least give it a go. If it comes to worst, you can always get a refund on Steam, so why not?

And now for something completely different!
Finally there is everyone's favorite geek franchise, the "Horus Heresy". For the last year we had to endure shitty titles, like the abyssmally bad "Deathfire" and re-releases of limited edition novels, such as "Scorched Earth" and "The Purge", which were medicore at best. With Black Library proudly proclaiming that the "Horus Heresy" will run for at least 4-5 more years, backed by similar claims from Forgeworld, many a fan felt that they are in fact watching a grimdark equivalent of a soap opera that dosen't know when to fucking stop. It's kinda hard to see why - the last book that pushed the storyline forward was "Scars" by Chris Wraight, which was published two years ago. Now before someone will begin to cry about the "Unremembered Empire", I just want to say that the whole Imperium Secundus side plot is both retarded and aimed at prolonging the series, since we know that in the end the whole fucking thing didn't mattered. So no, it dosen't count.

Fortuantely Black Library announced some new titles that will be released in 2016 (and possibly 2015). Unfortunately one of them will concentrate on the goddamn Imperium Secundus and it will include Night Lords. Now it's no secret that BL authors have a massive hard on for sons of Curze and the man himself. One of the most cringeworthy moments including the old Bat, was in Dan Abnett's "Unremembered Empire", where he was able to place a few dozen krak grenades under the roof in the Fortress of Hera and then duel BOTH the Lion and Guilliman to a standstill, before dropping the whole building on top of their heads. Because he's awesome like that you guys, don't forget about it.

My bad. I've meant to write "badly written" instead
Actually it's a valid point, talking about how much Traitor spunk the BL writers like to jug down their throats. So far the Loyalists have been presented as either A) completely clueless and B) incompetent morons, while Traitors are "teh best guize evah" and I don't really understand, why the fuck haven't they concquered Terra yet. Lorgar knows everything, because the Gods talk in his head 24/7, Curze is a god-like warrior, despite being a complete loony, and not really having any special skills which could explain why he nearly killed Dorn, Lion (twice!) and Guilliman, Primarchs who are considered some of the actuall best fighters in their brotherhood. There are endless examples and I could go on and on to describe more, but there are other things I have to do, like jack and all so I'll leave it at that. However I do hope that in this new batch of Heresy goodness, the authors will finally understand that it's time for the good guys to kick some ass and that the initial shock and surprise of Horus's betrayal have worn off. Come on Black Library, show the servants of the Emperor some love!

So that's it for that post. Just wanted to talk about my feelings towards the new and exciting Warhammer stuff that is popping up right now. For the last public announcement I just wanted to say that soon there will be a new "series" of sorts, published here. You see, recently I've returned to GM'ing in a fine game of WFRP 2nd Edition with some, very, very fine people (you know who you are). We are playing "Pretty Things" using the Roll20 website (which I fully reccomend for anyone interested in online role playing) and I've decided to record our sessions for future posterity and to satisfy my own, bloated ego. Unfortunately the first two recording have failed miseeably and I've managed to succeed only at the third session/attempt. You can watch our efforts at bringing the Old World to life on my Youtube channel, specially created for just that purpose (as well as some potential Let's Plays in the future) and Twitch account. Games are played once, every two weeks and the nearest one will take place on 31st of October at 5.30 GMT (it's 7.30 CET). I've even put a small app on the right side of this blog, which links to my Youtube channel. Give it a shot, maybe you'll like it.

Ahh the good old times. This was my first adventure as a GM, back in 2009... 
Anyway I'll post the written account of the first two sessions in one of my next posts. They'll include lots of arm wrestling, manhandling bounty hunters and good, old fashioned butchery, since my players seem to hail from the old school of RPG murderhobos. Which is totally awesome for me. Not so much for them, but hey - you have to die from something, right?

So that's it for this post. I'll see you all soon and have a great night.

Until next time

Xathrodox86

10/14/2015

Third time's the charm. "End Times: Archaon" has been concluded!

The last three heroes of the final "End Times" book have arrived and are ready for a proper and stern review.


Yeah... it's time to finally end this. This ET review took me more time than the actual event and that's really embarassing... kinda.

Anyway here it is. The end of the "End Times: Archaon".

1. Grimgor, Incarnate of Beasts

Lean, mean and green killing machine!
He's big, he's bad and he's back! Everyone's favorite not-Ghazghkull plays a major role in the "End Times" and his stats and abilities reflect that nicely. Unsurprisingly Grimgor is a CQC monster with a whooping 6 Attacks, WS of 8 and Strength 6 he's a force to be reckoned with. Combine that with his special rules, like the "Best of da best" which lets him re-roll failed To Hit and To Wound hits in a challenge and you have one nasty customer. Aside from his obvious role as an ass-kicking machine, he's also a decent army buffer. "Da immortulz" makes one of Black Orc units in your army a lot better by giving them a +1 to WS and "Hatred" special rule. Grimgor's innate bound spell, the "Locus of Ghyran", targets all friendly units within 12'' (but not Grimgor himself, a pity...) and grants them +1 Strength and +1 Toughness! Hooooly crap, talk about augmenting your already powerful guys. Finally there are his magic items. Gitsnik grants him a +2 bonus to Strength when attacking and the "Always Strikes First" special rule, which combined with his Inititative of 5 is really useful. Blood-Forged Armour provides the Big Guy with a 1+ AS and 5+ WS, always handy.

With Grimgor at the head of the Beast-Waaagh! very few things will be able to stand in its way, Clearly he needs to be in the centre of his army and in the thick of fighting. Stick him in a unit of Immortulz and watch your enemy cry bitter tears of rage. His only downside is a steep prize - 460 points. Hey, nobody is perfect. Even Grimgor Ironhide.

2. Caradryan, Incarnate of Fire

Flying in to wreck your shit
Another elf, another powerful character. This is a pretty standard thing in ET, so I can't say I'm that surprised. Costing a staggering 590 points and packing a statline worthy of one of Asuryan's chosen, he is both a great fighter and a decent caster. Having the usual plethora of elven skills like ASF, Martial Prowess as well as being Attuned to Magic and striking Terror in the hearts of his enemies, Caradryan is a Level 3 Fire Wizard who is himself immune to flames (he also deals flaming attacks!). Oh and he's a Large Target and can fly, since he is always fielded on the back of his Phoenix, Ashtari, so keep that in mind.

Stats-wise, the dude's awesome. WS of 6 and I 7, combined with 7 Attacks and 7 Wounds can really put a dent on even the strongest opponents. Only his Strength of 5 and a measly 4+ armour save are a little weak, but still - he can certainly kick some ass in close combat. His "Mark of Aqshy" special rule is a variation of the "mark of Asuryan" rule that he possesed before becoming the Incarnate of Fire, only... worst? Well, kinda. You see, when Caradyan buys it, the unit that killed him recieves 3D6 S4 Flaming Attacks that count towards combat results. "But what if someone's immune to fire?" some of you might say? Exactly. In that case I'm pretty sure the Caradryan's last laugh does jack to his enemies. Shame really.

Finally there's "The Phoenix Blade", a magical weapon granting Caradryan a +1 Stregth bonus as well as the "Multiple Wounds (D3)" special rule! This baby alone is worth its weight in gold, being an obnoxiously powerful CC weapon, especially with the plethora of martial skills that the Incarnate of Fire posseses.

Caradryan is an expensive character, but worth every point that you spend on him. A decent magician and an awesome warrior, he'll be a bane of armies such as Undead and Wood Elves. Flaming attacks all the way and a killer close combat weapon are a nasty combination, balanced only by his relatively low Toughness and armour save.

3. Archaon Everchosen, Lord of the End Times

Even in Finecast he's still awesome
Diederick Kastne is  back and this time ain't no Orc gonna bash him in the gonads, no siree! As should befit a man who throttled a Greater Daemon with his own whip, Archaon's stats are god-like and reflect his everlasting badassery. Weapon Skill 9? Check. Initative 7? Check. Fucking 8 Attacks?! Yeah... check. His Strength and Toughness are only 5, but these are the only skills that can be considered "medicore". Archaons has a combined characteristic with his steed, Dorghar and sports a 1+ AS as well as being a Level 4 Wizard with access to lores of Death, Shadow, Metal, Fire and Tzeentch, Chosen of the Gods has their Eye upon him, is Unbreakable, a Strider and has Daemonic Attacks.

He also has a plethora of special rules and magical bling. "Chosen of the Gods" grants him every, single Chaos mark as well as the ability to re-roll the "Eye of the Gods" roll. He also treats the "Eye of the Storm" and the "Eye Opens" as "Khorne's Warth" and "Dark Fury" respectively. I'd expect nothing less from the favoured of the Four. "His Time is Come" means that Archaon must be your army's General and also grants him a 24'' Inspiring Presence, something incredibly usefull. Finally there's the "Swords of Chaos" special rule, which work similarily to Grimgor's "The Immortulz" in that it transforms a single unit (in this instance we are talking about an undivided Chaos Knights) into a much better one with Hatred and Unbreakable special rules. Spiffy.

Archaon's magic items are really, really good. First we have his signature weapon, the "Slayer of Kings", a daemonic sword that ignoures armour completely. Additionally Archaon can unleash the power of U'zuhl, the daemon bound within the blade, and thus boost his attacks to a total of 12! Hooooly, fucking shit! Of course if he rolls a 1 on any To Hit roll, he hits himself or any friendly unit in base contact, but still... 12 attacks man, 12 friggin' attacks! Bear in mind that once unleashed, the daemon won't stop augmenting Archy until the end of battle. Still, this sword's crazy power is totally worth the risk. Awesome stuff.

"The Armour of Morkar" which belonged to first of the Everchosens, makes Archaon immune to attacks that need a 4+ or more to Wound him. Simply awesome. This practically makes him immune to most units attacks as only the strongest and best opponents will be able to put a dent in him.

"The Crown of Domination" is pretty straightfoward. It causes Terror and allows any friendly models to re-roll Break tests if they are within 12'' of the Everchosen.

Finally the "Eye of Sheerian" grants Archaon a ward save of 4+ which is increased to 3+ by the Mark of Tzeentch. You're having fun yet?

Bloody hell, I can't even begin to think about the means to take this guy out, unless we're taking a cannon spam into consideration. Even then it will still be a miracle to scratch the Chosen of the Gods. Archaon is easily the best special character in the "End Times", period. With a combination of incredibly powerful special abilities, stats and magic items, this former Templar of Sigmar can solo entire regiments on his own and come out of nearly every challenge unscathed. He is seriously a Greater Daemon-level strong and together with his Swords of Chaos there is very little that can stop this monster of a character. Take him everytime you can. By the end of the battle his high point cost will almost certainly paid itself back in full. And you thought the Elves were bad.

So that's it. The final part of the final "End Times" installment is finished. All that's left for me now is to review the new units that ET books introduced to the 8th edition and then write a few, final thoughts on both the "End Times" and "Age of Sigmar". After that... who knows. There are a few things that come to my mind, but you'll have to wait a bit to see what they are.

Until next time

Xathrodox86