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Archive for the ‘Bloghammer’ Category

Game Review: Herald of Oblivion (And a look at the Origins of Games Workshop)

Developed By: Tinman Games

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android

Genre: Choose Your Own Adventure

Overview

Herald of Oblivion is a Choose your Own Adventure interactive digital novel, in which you play the role of an Imperial Fists First Company Terminator Brother Nabor. Your mission is to explore the derelict Space Hulk Herald of Oblivion and discover what secrets it holds! I normally wouldn’t review something like a gamebook as a full article, but there is some history here which interests me, so I hope you find it interesting as well! read more

Game Review: Deathwatch

Developed By: Rodeo Games

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, iOS, PS4

Genre: Turn Based Strategy

Overview

Step into the power armored boots of the Emperor’s finest, as you command a squad of the elite Deathwatch, in their fight against the Tyranid menace! Deathwatch is a turn based strategy game, blended with some TCG and RPG elements, which combine to create an insanely fun experience!

Gameplay

If you’ve played any games similar to X-COM, then Deathwatch will feel very familiar to you. Every mission places you in command of a squad of five Deathwatch Space Marines, and tasks you with a specific objective. These can range from surviving a set number of turns, to killing a specific enemy, or reaching a certain point on the scenario map. To accomplish these tasks, each squad member has a number of Action Points (usually four) to spend during their turn. Each space moved (in any direction, including diagonally) costs one AP, as does making an attack with a basic weapon. The current state of play also changes based on the position of your marines, and what they can actually see. read more

Our Day at White Dwarf

Firstly, Happy New Year to all our followers! Hope you all had a fantastic time celebrating with friends/family/toy soldiers. The keen eyed amongst you may have noticed some familiar faces in this month’s White Dwarf! I thought it’d be interesting to give you all the “behind the scenes” lowdown on this!

I can’t really remember what I was doing the day that Pete Foley sent me and Innes a message on Twitter. I want to say playing Star Wars Battlefront 2? From a quick skim back, it was all the way back in April of 2018! He told us that he was a listener of the podcast, and that he found our views really interesting. This was a surprise to be sure, but definitely a welcome one. We had no idea that HQ was listening to what we had to say, never mind actually feel happy enough to reach out to us for a chat. read more

Road to the LVO Update

I’m afraid real life has been kicking my butt recently, and I’ve been a bit remiss in reporting on tournaments and the development of my list for the LVO.

So, to bring all of you (who care!), up to date –  I’ve been to 3 tournaments since STO4, the Freedom GT (2 days, 4 Games, ETC rules set), Winter War (one day, 3 games), and the Grand Strategist GT (2 days, 5 games, ETC rules), and bluntly my performance has been pretty poor (4-9 for those keeping score)!

Game Review: Space Wolf

 

Developed By: Herocraft

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android

Genre: Turn Based Card Game

 

Overview

 

Sons of Fenris rejoice! Assume the mantle of Valgard Twice-Slain as you take control of a small cadre of Space Wolves, who find them in the midst of the fight of their lives in the Fall of Kanak. Space Wolf is a strategy game of sorts – but it’s blended in with some Trading Card Game (TCG) elements. I know that sounds really weird, but stick with me and I will tell all!

Gameplay

 

Space Wolf is a very unique game, which nicely blends the worlds of TCGs and Turn based strategy gameplay. Both parts are integral to the overall experience, and it’s important to have a good feel for both of these elements in order to succeed in this game. You control a squad of 1-3 (sometimes joined by bonus reinforcements) Space Wolves during every mission, and the missions vary in scope. These range from defeating a key enemy, to reaching a key point on the map (sometimes within a time limit).

Your characters can all perform (usually) 2 actions during any one of their activations. Their available actions are based on the types of cards that they are holding. Almost every type of card can be discarded in order to allow that character to move on the map, which is comprised of squares. Additionally, after every movement you must specify which direction your hero is facing – attacks can only be initiated if you are facing the correct direction, so consider your moves carefully!

 

However, the system is made more strategic by use of the effort system. The effort system is a way of “pricing” particular actions. Each action card (more on these later), has an associated effort cost in the top right corner. Whether this card is used for its function, or whether it’s used to move your character, the effort cost will be added to that character’s effort total for the turn. During each activation, you always have the option of 2 actions – but you can always choose to end your turn after the first action (or even end your turn with no action). The payoff to this, is that you can see every character’s (including enemy’s) effort score – and in subsequent turns, characters with a lower effort score ALWAYS go before characters with a higher score. This could mean that in some situations you can have 2 activations before an enemy unit Beware though – the same applies in reverse! It’s tempting to go for that double autocannon shot, but if you don’t kill your target then they could make you pay!

 

 

The game manages most of the detail of your allies (except for their optional skills), meaning that their weapons deck is mostly pre-built by the AI. You have a good amount of flexibility when customising Valgard though. He starts as a tactical marine, but you can pay to unlock (using in-game currency for a reasonable price) Terminator and Scout skill trees.  These all play vastly differently, and they have specific skills which are only usable when you are using a particular skill tree (or deck). This also unlocks new Terminator and Scout allies which you can use as part of your squad.

As the commander, Valgard also has access to the rage ability. When he takes enough damage, his attacks can potentially do up to 200% extra damage, and also his effort score is reduced to zero. When you attack, this results in a fun little mini game, where you decide to “gamble” by revealing hidden skulls. These can add or deduct 25% increments, or end the mini game immediately if you reveal a skull.

 

 

By completing objectives, you gain both currency and skulls. Skulls are important, as these are what are used to level up Valgard’s hitpoints. Currency is also important, as it’s used for several things in the game, including:

  • Leveling up Allies
  • Levelling up Valgard’s Skill Trees
  • Buying booster packs
  • Buying Resurrection and Crafting Runes

On the PC version, you need to gain currency by completing missions – the same is true on the Android / iOS versions, but the Android version also has that thing that modern gamers all dread – the micro-transaction. I hate micro-transactions (even if I see why they exist), but know that I completed the Android version of this game (which is free to download) having only made one purchase. For £5.99 I purchased the Iron Priest ally (which also awarded some currency), and with this plus currency and rewards I earned in game, I was able to beat the game. Be warned though, this game is definitely not easy – skill, wit, planning (and a little luck) are all needed in order to be victorious.

 

 

The game (I’m talking Android here) is a little heavy-handed in trying to steer you into buying stuff – if for no other reason than the game’s difficulty. Make no mistake, this is a punishingly difficult game if you don’t know what you’re doing, and the temptation to splurge out on good cards and upgrades can be strong. However – I think the game is also fair in the freebies that it gives you. You get rewards for playing every day, and most of the campaign secondary missions are fairly achievable. You also don’t need to complete all these in a single attempt, meaning you gain some replayability and also some flexibility which is nice.

 

You also gain crafting parts as freebies and mission rewards (and you can also scrap/sell existing cards to gain more), which you can use to craft new and better cards. You can also attempt “riskier” craftings, which run the risk of complete failure (and the loss of your materials), but yield better cards. You can also purchase crafting runes (again, using in game currency) to guarantee a successful craft. I didn’t dabble in this too much, as most of my best cards were obtained from loot chests that I found in missions, but if you are so inclined you could easily sink a lot of money into this.

 

 

Now lets actually talk about the cards themselves. The cards represent all the various weapons that you can include in your arsenal – but there are also other cards which have important uses. For example, you can have cards which summon tarantula turrets, or a Fenrisian Wolf companion. Both of these are solid choices, because the enemy will often go after units which have less hit points remaining (such as these units) – these can be super useful in a cinch – but they often have a high effort cost. The challenge is working out for yourself whether or not it’s worth the gamble.

 

 

You can have 30 cards in a deck, and while its easy to want to fill your deck with all of the absolute best cards, this can be a bit of a trap. Most of the best cards (or cards which are the heavier ranged hitters) have high effort costs. So if your deck is loaded with these, even simple actions such as moving can have a highly inflated effort cost, which means that your hero isn’t really able to achieve much. Conversely, it’s important to have a decent amount of damage dealing cards, because some of the later missions are brutal and have a lot of combat. Decks don’t get expended (your cards will get recycled), so you never need to worry about running out of cards.

 

You also have 3 deck slots – and this is where I enjoyed the versatility. Some missions are “search and destroy” type missions, whereas others are “sprint to the finish line”. You can share cards between decks, but importantly they can be totally separate in terms of their playstyle. For example, my Terminator Valgard was an engine of destruction, and almost all of his gear was built around being efficient yet deadly in combat. My scount Valgard though had almost exclusively cards which made him a “runner”. You can use cards such as the Fenrisian Wolf (and more grimdarkly, your other squad mates) to act as decoys for the enemy which your hero(?) legs it into the endzone. It sounds like a random thing to throw into a game like this, but it actually keeps the mission structure exciting and varied.

 

 

 

Lastly, there is a challenge mode called “Fall of Kanak”, where you take on the role of a lone Khorne Berzerker, and try to take on as many loyalists as you can before falling. It’s as one dimensional (and bloody good fun, pun intended) as it sounds! Your hero(?) will even be mocked by an allied chaos sorcerer during this mini game as well. Definitely worth checking out when you’re done with the main game!

 

Story

 

SPOILERS!

The story is right out of 40k 101 – our intrepid heroes are ambushed by the Word Bearers upon arriving at the planet of Kanak. Their ship is shot down, and the survivors crash land on the planet, looking to kick some heretic ass. Valgard leads his squad through the planet, fighting various Chaos Space Marines, Daemons, and even some Necrons which show up near the end.

 

 

In between missions, you return to the command centre, and one of the surviving space wolves will always have some dialogue which progresses the story. The story itself is pretty much what every Space Wolf story is – they fight against the odds, hoping that their deeds will be remembered in a great Saga for the ages. Personally i’m not the biggest Space Wolf fan, but I can see fans of Russ getting their teeth into this without hesitation.

 

 

The Chaos cast are suitably preachy as well – with their veiled threats to Valgard and his squad, and the mysterious reasons for their presence on the planet. The Word Bearers are characterised really well – religious zealots who are willing to go to any lengths to succeed in their aims. Also (and this is a first i’d say) – the Daemons that you encounter in this game are actually really intimidating. Bloodletters of Khorne can get onto you really quickly, and you definitely learn to fear their wrath if they make it into combat with you.

 

 

 

The game also does a good job of capturing the units of the 41st millennium. All of the players here (both Chaos and Imperium) all look really like their miniature counterparts, and with all of the sound effects and graphics rendering of the weapons on show, I felt really immersed in the game and the environment. Boss battles were suitably cinematic and exciting, and I could easily see some of the scenes here in some other Black Library material. Even lots of the little touches, like Runes being part of your upgrade system, and Wolf Claw weapons all added to the Space Wolf theme which permeated the game. I would say that the game does a good job of trying not to make you feel like a cookie cutter space marine, which can only be a good thing.

Roundup

 

If you can successfully navigate the treacherous waters of the micro transaction ocean,  there’s actually a really solid game to be found here. It’s strategic, thematic – and it’s an absolute must have for any Space Wolf fans. The ability to pick it up on your phone and play it in manageable chunks is also really appealing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that’s coming from someone who truly isn’t a huge Space Wolf fan.

Space Wolf is available on the App Store, Google Play and on Steam.

Tales of the Singular Gamer – Part 5

The Two Things You Need In 40K…Skill, Luck and The List*

A long long time ago at a gaming event far far away – and I really do mean far away – the venue for the tournament was not only in the wilderness but it was nestled snugly in the place where outsiders are shunned shagged eaten or all three, you get introduced to the wife and sister with only one person standing there and dueling banjos is everybody’s ring tone.

But anyway we safely made it to the venue without farmer Jeremiah eating our asses or humping them to get a days’ worth of quality gaming in, I was using a Mechanicus list and was obviously smashing all who dared stand before me into small bite sized pieces…apart from the inconsiderate bastards that didn’t let this happen and smashed me instead. However dear reader, that is not the point of this ramble because at some time during the days quality gaming I asked Bernard how he was getting on, to which his reply was a shrug of the shoulders before grabbing a handful of dice, dropping them on the table and saying ‘that’s how it’s going’. That is when lightning struck my brain…

When I woke up in hospital three weeks later and after speaking to geologists about the strange phenomenon of lightning striking indoors, I was curious about how skill and luck can affect our games of 40k. This led me to ask questions like, is it better to be a skillful player or a lucky player? How much do they effect each other? Am I skillful or lucky? Semi Deep questions for a flaccid mind…

So, first off what attributes make up a skillful player? Well in my usual style I am going to ramble on with no forethought, research or even a credible background to make any bold claims or opinions from…if you want any of that serious shit then you best find a different kind of article written by a more intelligent fanny than I am…Still here? Even if it’s only a cat that has just sat on somebody’s laptop I shall continue.

Now, back to the skillful player stuff, I think most people who play 40K play at a good level, unless you are just starting out and getting to grips with it all. I think that most people who play on a regular basis are good players, whether they play at tournaments or a local shop/club or even in someone’s house, they understand the rules, their army and the tactics they want use in their games (however I should point out that we are not including cheaters, cheaters big bogie eaters in this article, they are for another time) . But what I think separates all these good players from the skillful ones are subtle differences. A skillful player knows all the rules, but more importantly than that they know all the loopholes that are ripe for exploiting and harvesting for a table top bumper crop of win. They know all the rules that have a direct influence on their army, they know all the insidey and outsidey bits of their army, they know its strengths and weaknesses, they have plans A’s through to Z’s covering whatever turmoil’s may happen during the course of the game. They know it all but not only that they also know all that stuff about their opponents army, they know it for the guys armies that are playing next to them, they can even glean all this information from just seeing somebodies army list. I have had this happen to me every time I have played Innes ‘The Chairman’. In one circumstance he even knew my army better than I did and was teaching me how to use it as we were playing our game (still got thumped mind you.) You can witness this yourself next time you are at a tournament, anytime a rules query or something needs to be double checked only a select few people get asked for their advice, council, rules knowledge.

In a tournament setting these skillful games tend to be congregated around the top tables, where the atmosphere can be tense and frosty with every move being scrutinised, the tactical plotting ramped up to the max and everyone is doing that thing with their eyes that Eastwood does in his spaghetti westerns, you know the squinty thing. Everything is at stake at the top tables, can’t afford to lose any ground as any slip ups could cost a podium finish with the flip side being any win could squeeze you closer to the prizes. With this pressure it’s no wonder that everything must be precise, no bathroom breaks are allowed those are for the weak bladders, only the person that is currently winning is allowed to make jokes during the game (at their opponents expense obviously) and if you are even thinking of making small talk then think again buster that shit is what you do between games.

The mid table section is a little less serious than the above but can still be a rich environment for skillful players and good players all looking to push as close to the top tables as possible. Now this can be a brutal place as you get the ones who feel like they should be at the top tables, the normal mid table ones that are always at that level and the lower table players that are doing better than expected. So what you get are the ones who think they should be doing better all full of hate, spite and bile because they are having to go against commoners who they feel are beneath them. You get the normal mid tablers who feel like they need to defend their territory against fanny balls that have fallen from grace or indeed upstart punks that are getting ideas above their station in 40k life and then you get the ones that are doing better than expected who don’t want to go back the way now they are at the dizzying heights of the middle or lose the, now, god like status they have from the gamers they have left behind.

Then after that you get the lower tables where it’s barely controlled anarchy with shouting and screaming, drunkenness, a disregard for any form of rules or etiquette, shoes being used as land raiders, table boundaries are a vague indistinct thing (I don’t see anything in the rule book saying my assassin can’t be deployed three tables away), dodgy deals trying to be made over the outcome of the game to either gain more points or even just get to the pub quicker (let’s call it a 20 – 20 draw). The low tables have got all sorts of gamers in the mix, guys who are just learning, guys who go with the rule of cool or their army is built under a certain theme, guys that don’t know or don’t want to know the rules, guys who only get to play at tournaments or even some poor soul who has just wandered in off the street thinking it was a computer game shop. A mob of unruly behaviour that’s only a dice roll away from becoming a mass brawl.

But all the stuff I have just written about above requires a good healthy dose of luck, because at the end of day 40k is a dice game and dice are random so luck will play a factor in all games. Now obviously, everybody tries to build their armies to reduce this random factor via re-rolls, modifiers, immunity to certain effects, or the good old on a 5+ trick. In a game these things can all help to discount luck as much as possible from the game. But you can’t take it out completely.

In one of my previous articles I went over an effect that can happen during a game of 40K known as “The Turn” which is basically a turn where something goes for you or against and can swing the game to a victory or defeat, be it you make all your hit rolls or you make all your saves or indeed you make none of them. Is that skill, or is that luck? If you have ten dice and you need to roll four pluses for your hit, wound or save rolls and you make all ten then that’s you getting a dirty great hand job from lady luck. If on the other hand you make none of these rolls then that’s you getting lady lucks sloppy seconds…Another piece of luck that can have a massive effect in winning or losing a game is the dice roll to see if a game continues or not. The gaming taverns all over the world are full of stories in that the game was won because it ended when it did, or if it had only lasted one more turn I would have won.

Am I a skillful gamer? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no. I fall squarely in the camp of going to tournaments to play games of 40K and catch up with mates and hopefully get drunker and drunker as the event goes on. I usually start at the mid table section and slowly but surely creep/stagger my way backwards until I am sitting on the floor playing my final few games with the cat as an opponent.

Am I lucky gamer? That’s a trickier one to answer as anybody can make a good roll at any time and we can all experience “The Turn” at some point, but I can be lucky with my on a 5+ trick but at the end of the day if you give me six dice and tell me to roll for two pluses I’ll still manage to roll eight ones.

But I hear the cat meow there is a third option and that’s the list.

This notion was introduced to me when I was talking about this to the Greatest Lover in The World Commander O’Shea and he mentioned the list factor.

The list factor is when you have a great list that can carry you through games and maybe masks the fact that you are actually a bit of a munter at 40k. A good example of this is the old school Seer Council list.

The Seer Council list was basically one unit of swinging dicks that could do anything it wanted, you want to swing that dick in the movement phase, the seer council can do that as they are all on space elf hover bikes, want to dominate the psychic phase, oh boy that swinging dick has now become a full on donkey porn star monster throbber of man phallus with everybody in the Seer Council casting powers making them harder to hit, harder to kill whilst also making it easier to hit and kill the opponent after that phase you were laughing. Singing spears were solid enough at being chucked and bashing someone around the head with. They were fearless as well I seem to think and you add in the elder turkey aspect warrior leader winged guy and they got access to the hit and run special rule as well…which I forgot about for a whole five turns against Martin Moffatt once…d’oh!!! (But in my defense I was sober)

And that was just the council itself, you flavoured the rest of the list with MSU scatter bikes for objective grabbing and hosing units with righteous firepower, perhaps a hemlock or two for yet more psychic douchery and at the time every elder list and its dog had a wraithknight in them, mix it altogether and you got a solid list. Terrifying in the hands of a skilled gamer but also, potentially, equally as deadly in the hammed fists of a fud because as soon as that Seer Council got up to speed it could steamroll its way to victory.

A strong list like this does have the power to carry a player along the road to greatness but it depends on the list I feel, if the list is designed to do one part of the game exceptionally well then you are golden because you just need to focus on say getting stuck in smashing people, or smiting the tits off of units, or blowing holes in them so they resemble a fancy cheese. These types of powerful lists can help a dunderheid along because you only need to get one part right and if lady luck is giving you the wink and flashing her knickers at you then you get right on it and ride that list like a dog in heat all the way to victory.

However some lists are just as powerful but require proper tactics and thinking to go into them, such as a Simmy List**, where different components all need to come together for the whole to work out, these lists are tricky to master but when done correctly they can bend you right over that table and not even give you the god damn courtesy of a reach around…bastards. These lists tend to be far more adaptable then the previous type of lists and so it’s more difficult to find a hard counter to them.

And that is where I think I shall leave this ramble and wish you all a resounding victory in your next game…unless you are actually playing me in which case you’re getting fucking hammered!!!

*In the style of the trilogy in four parts

**A Simmy List is a list that when you look at it on paper it looks complete pish, where nothing seems to work with each other but Simmy manages to turn this pish into a fine champagne, like a geek Jesus, that destroys your army in record time with seemingly very little effort or consternation on Simmy’s part

Game Review: Space Hulk – Deathwing (PS4)

Developed By: Streum On Studio, Cyanide

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4

Genre: First Person Shooter

 

Overview

 

Step into the (armoured) boots of one of the Dark Angels’ finest, as you brave the unknown depths of a derelict Space Hulk! Deathwing is a First Person Shooter, where you take command of a small squad of three Dark Angels First Company (also known as the Deathwing) Terminators.  You play as an unnamed Librarian, and joining you are companions Barachiel and Nahum. Your quest will take you deep into enemy territory, as you unleash the deadly weapons at your disposal in the fight against the Genestealer menace!

Gameplay

 

The first thing that you need to know about Deathwing, is that it’s a First Person Shooter – and yet it’s also not a First Person Shooter. That sounds like a completely ridiculous thing to say, but stick with me! Yes, you can equip a plethora of Imperial classics such as the Thunder Hammer and Plasma Cannon, but you also need to think about other things such as squad management. In fact this is probably one of the things that I enjoyed most about the game – all of the tiny nods to the Space Hulk board game. In addition to the actual wandering around the (super immersive) environments, you have to factor in a lot of variables:

  • Squad Loadouts
  • Squad Positioning and Orders
  • Health management
  • Resource Management
  • The Optimal Route

 

A big part of the game is deciding what to equip, and also what your fellow Terminators will equip. As the Librarian, you have access to (eventually) all of the Imperial arsenal. You can choose to use Force Weapons (which reduce cooldown time on your destructive psyker abilities), go gun crazy with one of the Assault Cannon Variants, or get up close and personal with the Thunder Hammer or Mace of Absolution.  Your squad mates are a little more restricted. Barachiel can take most weapon configurations (meaning you can customise him to suit your Librarian’s build, which is nice), but Nahum is a bit more restricted. As the apothecary, he is the only one in your squad who has access to the vital Narthecium – the most valuable piece of wargear held by your entire unit.

 

 

The range of Psychic powers that you have access to is good – you can definitely suit your Librarian to be the kind of character you want. There are destructive ranged powers, powers which stun enemies, and powers that enhance your own attacking capabilities. These all have various cooldown times depending on how powerful they are. A nice feature, is that if you use a Force Weapon, your cooldown times are reduced considerably. The trade off is that the Force Weapons are literally not in the same class as something like a Thunder Hammer, so you have some tough decisions to make about how to get the best out of your character. This is another nice nod to the board game, in that you have to consider the tools your squad has carefully, and how best to approach a particular mission.

 

 

You can change your squad load out in between missions, and also during missions using the Psygate. The Psygate is one of the most difficult resources to manage, in that you only have three uses per mission. Using the Psygate revives fallen squad members, replenishes the charges in the Narthecium, and also saves the game. This means that its absolutely essential to try and “get the most” out of each excursion out into the space hulk. If you use all of your Narthecium or Psygate charges too early into a mission, it can be a tough slog to try and make up that ground. Its a really delicate balance between succeeding, and being forced to restart your mission.

 

 

The actual gameplay is not unfamiliar to those of you who have played any First Person Shooter – you navigate a map, have access to various weapons, and need to kill a bunch of enemies along the way to fulfilling your mission objectives. This is a task however, far easier said than done. Deathwing is an excellent game – but the difficulty can be off the charts at times. Quite often you can be patrolling quite happily along a seemingly empty corridor, when all of a sudden a flood of Genestealers starts emptying out of the walls/vents/thin air to tear you to pieces.

Combat is very intense (and enjoyable), and in almost every occasion you truly feel as if your character is fighting for his life. Again, like the board game, you need to keep an eye on many variables in order to emerge triumphant from a skirmish. It’s crucial to keep an eye on not only your health, but the health of your squad. When ambushed by a swarm, or confronted by a powerful enemy, your teammates health can crash in the blink of an eye, prompting you to fumble desperately for the command wheel to issue a recovery command.

 

 

At first, this mechanic frustrated me (especially in the heat of battle), but it actually adds a layer of tactics and realism to combat. Also all of the various weapons “feel” right – for example, Thunder Hammers deal explosive, crushing damage, while you can also get immense satisfaction from spraying down a corridor with a full Assault Cannon clip. If you’re using a ranged weapon, you also have access to heat vision to try and assist you during the chaos of a large confrontation. Make no mistake – combat is intense and amazing fun, but you absolutely need to approach it with a plan and some strategy. The old “Run and Gun” tactics that you can employ in many a FPS are suicidal in this game.

 

 

You can also develop your character’s abilities during the campaign. It’s not deep enough to be termed as an RPG (or even an RPG-lite), but its a nice little touch that lets you specialise your squad’s development further. For example, you can unlock more psychic powers, or spend more points into “squad buffs” that improve your team’s survivability and endurance. You earn Fervor points for these upgrades during the game by performing well in missions. Good performance includes taking little damage, enemy kills, and finding hidden relics (which mostly amount to easter eggs) on each map. This is another nice addition to personalising your Deathwing experience – you can make your character a Psyker to be feared, or more of a squad commander boosting his team.

 

 

During the game, your main opponents will be Genestealers – but there are some awesome appearances from Genestealer Cults units, such as the Magus, Aberrants and Acolytes. Most of the cults units serve to offer ranged attackers (such as autoguns and mining lasers), and they are a welcome addition, faithfully rendered closely to their miniature counterparts. As all Space Hulk aficionados will tell you though, the Genestealer is the meat and drink of the game. There are several types of Genestealer as well, which really mixes up the experience. For example, warrior strains are good in combat, but they are nothing compared to the fearsome Scythe Strains, who will make you think “oh s***” when they crash out from a wall or up from underneath you.

Stalker Strains are cool too – invisible to the naked eye but make your radio fizzle out and show static when they are nearby, they will often get the drop on you. Each encounter presents its own set of tactical challenges – you could be rushed by a group of warrior strains, while a squad of acolytes pelts you with fire from an elevated canopy. The game is unapologetic when it throws you into varied and challenging tactical positions – even on the easiest difficulty, the answer is rarely “shoot everything until it dies”. I definitely appreciated that the game made me think outside of the box more than once.

 

Lastly, the tactical interface is pretty cool. It shows you your current location, and also the location of your squad mates. You can also see your current objective (and also set custom waypoints should you so wish). One really cool thing about this game – the maps are HUGE. They are also (except in some very specific cases) not linear. This means that if you find yourself struggling to complete a mission by following a specific path, you can retry and take an alternative route. I highly encourage this, not only for the gameplay benefits, but purely to see more of the absolutely outstanding environments on display here – this is a gorgeous looking game.

Story

 

There will be some SPOILERS here  – you have been warned!

The actual story itself is quite light – the Deathwing have been deployed by Belial – who is frequently with you on Vox and in mission briefings, which I thought was super cool – to investigate the derelict Space Hulk Olethros (which is made up of several ships, including a Cadian vessel and also a Black Templars battle barge). Admittedly, I was super giddy at the sight of the Black Templars stuff, because I am a massive fanboy of theirs! At the start of each mission, you get a cool narrative briefing as well which is really cool. This is usually followed up by direct orders from Grand Master Belial, which is another reason to get all giddy (if the Dark Angels float your boat!)

 

 

Initially, you are on the lookout for “Dark Angels Secrets” – because whether they admit it or not, the Dark Angels are closer to heresy than they want the wider Imperium to know. After all, their hunt for the Fallen is both relentless and eternal. As the campaign develops, your character begins to develop some psychic visions – these vary, from detecting entities such as enemy Broodlords, to also reliving parts of the past. These visions are triggered when your party enters the Caliban’s Will – a Dark Angels ship which has been consumed by the wider Space Hulk. There are even references to Luther, and the civil war on Caliban during the Horus heresy. The actual story turns out to be slightly less interesting than some of the Heresy references you can find, which is a shame, but there is definitely still some amazing content to be found here – if you dare to explore the Space Hulk to the max.

 

 

The absolute best thing about this game though, is its ability to literally make you feel like a Terminator of a Space Marine chapter. When you walk, you literally feel like a walking battle tank (which is what Tactical Dreadnought Armour is supposed to feel like). Your weapons seem powerful and fearsome, you have a really cool looking HUD and vox channel – the game does an amazing job of placing you in the Deathwing unit and making you feel like you belong. The Space Hulk itself is grand, intimidating and majestic at the same time. If you ever wondered what one looked like – this game does a damn good job of placing you directly into the realm of your imagination. Even the Psygate area which acts as a respite for your squad has cool Skitarii guys working on repairing your squad’s armour. There are so many neat little touches and tributes not only to the board game, but the wider Warhammer 40k universe.

 

 

The game sounds great, it looks great, and it’s once of the best 40k experiences I’ve had (in terms of making me feel like I was part of the universe). One humorous note to close on – if you’re a fan of our podcast, you may recall the “Would you rather be a Chaos Spawn or a Servitor?” debate. That debate was started purely because of this poor bastard right here:

 

 

The Jury is out on that question!

Roundup

 

If you are a fan of FPS games and of 40k – this is an essential purchase. It is not an easy game, and there are definitely some punishing, punishing area. But if you are up for the challenge, and want to get stuck into some meaty 40k gunplay, then this is absolutely the game for you. Its immersive, tactical, challenging – and most of all, bloody excellent fun!

I played this on the PS4, but it’s also available for Windows. Go purge, in the name of the Lion and the Emperor!

 

Game Review: The Horus Heresy – Battle of Tallarn

 

Developed By: Hexwar

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, Mac

Genre: Turn Based Strategy

 

Overview

The astute among you will undoubtedly say “wait, this is a 30k game, not a 40k game”! While this is true, we wouldn’t have the 40k universe that we all know and love without the hardships that our heroes (and heretics) endured during the Horus Heresy. Battle of Tallarn is a turn based strategy game, in which you command Chaos or Imperium forces (the choice is yours) in the legendary armoured division battle which took place all the way back in the 31st millennium. Command waves of tanks, or even more fearsome war machines such as Reaver titans, and lay waste to the opposing forces in mortal combat!

Before we get to the main review, followers of the podcast may remember that we actually interviewed some of the Hexwar team around the time this game was released. If you’re interested, you can check that out at the link below:

 

Hexwar Interview Podcast

 

Gameplay

For new players to the game, i’d definitely recommend the tutorial before diving into the main game itself. The tutorial is really well structured, coaching you in the basics of movement and combat – it really scales up appropriately in terms of what you need to know to command your forces, I absolutely recommend checking this out.

 

Similarly to Rites of War which we also reviewed recently, Battle of Tallarn also uses a hexagonal based movement system, but the gameplay is fundamentally different. Units can move a certain number of hexes based on their unit type (and can advance, forfeiting shooting for some extra speed). Some units then have 360 degree fire arcs for their main weapons, and some need to pivot to shoot the target accordingly. This is handled quite nicely, as when you rotate a red outline snakes across the map, showing you what targets fall into that unit’s firing arc.

Some units have a mixture of both ranged and melee weapons, and can charge across small distances to deliver these attacks. I definitely found in my experiences playing the game that melee combat (whenever I got an opportunity to deliver it) was extremely deadly, and I was motivated to push such units as aggressively as possible into the enemy lines!

Other than the larger units such as Titans or 

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Patreon Page Launched

Hi Everyone!

For those of you who might be interested, we have launched a brand new Patreon page, which can be found at the below link:

Patreon

Nothing is changing in terms of content for the website – our podcast and website are free and always will be. This is merely a way of us setting up a page for any followers who might want to donate to the website. The Patreon is basic for the moment, but come the new year we will look at ways to develop this new platform.

As always, thank you to everyone for your support!

 

Game Review: Inquisitor – Martyr (PS4)

 

Developed By: NeoCore Games

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Genre: Action RPG

 

Overview

 

Inquisitor: Martyr is an Action RPG game (in the same vein as the Diablo series), where you don the mantle of one of the Imperium’s most feared agents. Slaying your way through hordes of enemies, your ultimate goal (besides gaining more loot and power – believe me there is much of this to be had) is to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the mysterious space hulk “Martyr” which has just recently re-emerged from the tides of the immaterium in the Calligari sector. There are also an infinite number of side quests and missions available to you, such that you might level up and develop your character as much as your heart desires! For reference, I have only played the PS4 version of this game, and also mostly only the campaign.

Gameplay

 

If you’ve played Diablo 3 (or any of the Diablo style clones out there), you will instantly feel at home playing this game. In a nutshell – your character gains experience by completing missions (which raises your inquisitorial rank), and improves their power rating by finding and equipping better wargear. You also acquire fate during missions and for completing challenges (more on this later).

Combat is really fun – you can use any of Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Psychic powers or support skills to attack and crush not only hordes of enemies, but also elite enemy champions and war machines alike. It’s immensely satisfying to watch waves of enemies fall under hails of your heavy bolter fire, or a bunch of them get blown up by a lucky fuel canister explosion, or even to see them crumple under your merciless melee attacks. There is a cover system available to hide your characters (and cover can be destroyed by the way!), but honestly i didn’t use this much at all. Perhaps this is because I played as a crusader – I could see the potential value for the psyker or assassin.

In my playthough I had only reached level 31, but the array of weapons on display is impressive. So many of the old classics (and new weapons) make an appearance, and you can truly shape your hero to be the warrior you need. Weapons and wargear all have their own skills, and you can combine interesting armour abilities with your weapons.

 

For example – my Crusader “Lachdanan” (spot the Diablo reference) was equipped with a Jump Pack and a Thunder Hammer. He could easily jump into a horde, and then smash huge enemy numbers with a powerful Area of Effect attack. Make no mistake, whether its a deadly assassin sniper, or a charging thunder hammer wielding crusader – the selection of death on offer is widely varied and interesting.

 

 

There is also a really interesting (at least I found it that way) combat mechanic which isn’t in the likes of Diablo, called Supression. Basically suppression is an indicator of how much combat pressure your character is. This is represented by a red/amber/green circle which surrounds your health bar.

Essentially, if you’re in combat you will take both physical AND suppression damage. If your suppression is in the green, all is well – but if it falls to Amber or Red, then you could be in trouble. In lower brackets, your character becomes susceptible to being stunned or even knocked over (and at the mercy of further attacks). You can counter suppression loss by using your innoculator (if you have customised it in such a way) or by disengaging in combat.

You can also inflict suppression damage on enemies – and some weapons have attack modes which are really designed to inflict massive suppression damage to your enemies. This is a really subtle inclusion to the game, and it really makes you think twice about how to tackle your latest horde of adversaries.

 

 

Unlike in Diablo 3 where the world is interconnected, every mission in the game offers its own unique map.  Whether you are playing a campaign mission, or doing one of the recursively generated side quests, you can browse the Star Map to search for a mission that suits your tastes.

Speaking of quests, in addition to your general hack n’ slash tasks which you’ll be carrying out in every mission, there are a decent amount of sub-missions, including:

  • Deactivating Gun Batteries
  • Purging an Entire Map of Enemies
  • Defending Key Personnel or Equipment
  • Destroying Key Targets on the Map
  • Limited deaths per map

You also have access to Priority Missions, which are like “mini campaigns”. You are often prompted before these missions to make a choice in some way – such as scout out a planet with hired psykers, or purchase reinforcements for a battle. These options sometimes cost Calligari Credits (which you can also use to craft items or purchase wargear from the merchant), and can affect your chances of success. Some options increase the Collateral Damage, which means that your completion reward is less worthwhile.  

Uther’s Tarot read more

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