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Seeking Diverse Board Games

There was a discussion in a Facebook group I am part of this Sunday, asking what are people’s favourite games designed by minority designers.

Sadly it was shut down and deleted before I could comment, apparently there were some undesirable comments in it.

But the thread asking why it was deleted which was quickly shut down showed what kind of comments I should have imagined.

When it comes to the board games industry, I think it would be fair to say that it does have a representation issue. My first U.K. Games Expo was 90% bearded white dudes, last year was very different to be fair, a lot more women, a lot more families a lot more LGBTQ folk, but white men (usually with a belly and beard like myself) still made up the majority of the attendees.

And the number of BAME attendees is still very low, which is shame, and I think that part of that is when there is a discussion about BAME game designers, you get comments about why does someone’s race matter, that it’s just playing identity politics and only working to divide people.

I am gonna be frank here, representation matters, if we see BAME game designers front and centre, then more BAME people will want to play board games.

I have sadly had a few occasions where when demonstrating games, I have been told by BAME people that board games are not something that people like them play, and I think that a big part of that is, because the board game hobby is seen very much as a very white dominated hobby.

Of course there will be those that continue to say that it should not matter what race someone is when they design a game, but I don’t think that’s a good way to think about it.

Let’s look at the most famous BAME board game designer, Eric Lang. He is a mixed race fella and had designed some amazing games, and come up with some brilliant and innovative game mechanisms.

Naturally, he will have a different background to many other game designers, coming from two different cultural backgrounds. And this difference in experiences will no doubt have contributed to the mix of talents skills and talents possessed by Lang, that has allowed him to innovate and design games in different ways to the average designer.

And I highlight him because he is an exception, he is a great designer, at the top of the industry who just happens to be mixed race, but the fact that he is sadly the only BAME designer of any notoriety is why his ethnicity stands out. In an ideal world, his ethnicity wouldn’t be something so noticeable because there would be a lot more BAME designers.

So when we have a board game industry that’s more diverse, we get more great games, we get more innovation, more challenging games.

We have seen that as more women are designing games, we are getting a bit of that, but most of the women designing games are coming from the same socio-economic background as their male counterpoints.

This isn’t me saying I want to see less games designed but white men, but what I want are more game designers, a bigger pool of talent, and for people to come into the industry who can offer innovation from which all designers can learn.

A case in point is music, over the past century, the biggest driver in development of popular music has been the influence of the music of other cultures. Ok yes in a lot of cases white people still dominate that industry whist using making music highly influenced by other cultures. But without the influences of other cultures, we wouldn’t have had jazz, rock and roll, rap etc.

So if we encourage game designers from other backgrounds, and I am not just taking about different ethnicities, but also religion, class, nationalities, education, disabilities etc.

The bigger the pool of talent, the better games we get, the more diverse an industry we have, the more players we have, the more opponents we have , the more games sold and the bigger the industry.

This is just my perspective, and I know that as a white dude, I enjoy a huge amount of privilege, but I don’t want to be a dude who sits back and says, I don’t see race I just see the games.

People like me have to say something when we see comments like that, we need to point out that representation is important, we need to say, actually, we want to see games from BAME designers specifically. And most important of all, listen to players, content creators and designers from a BAME background have to say on the matter.

If you want to follow up on this can I suggest checking out games by BAME designers, google and look for them, sadly I could only find Eric Lang and Omari Akil with my Google Fu, and in fairness of all the game designers I have met, the only one who was BAME was Eric Lang.

Also check out content creators who are BAME, simply because most reviewers out there are straight white dudes, and yeah their reviews are good, but getting reviews from people with different backgrounds can give you a perspective that you yourself may not have considered, which may open up new gaming possibilities, or make you reconsider a game. I’d recommend Be Bold Games and Geeky Gaymer Guy on YouTube.

I admit I probably made an incoherent mess of this whole post, but this something I feel strongly about, and I will end with a bit of wisdom from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruit, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof.

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

What I Am Modelling

I started the week by starting the Prosecutors from the Age of Sigmar starter set and a Knight-Venator for my Stormcast Eternals, these were a lot quicker to paint than I thought they would be.

This means the only remaining models from the original Age of a Sigmar box set I have left to paint are the Retributors.

I then started work on some Blood Ravens Intercessors and Sgt Jovan.

The Intercessors are a mix of multipart models, a Dark Imperium model and one from the easy to build set. These five models will add to the squad I painted up when Dark Imperium first came out and give me a full squad of ten Intercessors.

I am painting Sgt Jovan at the same time because it’s makes sense to paint him with these six instead of later on with a squad of ten.

I then started work on three Blood Ravens Land Speeders, which I got finished on Sunday afternoon. I have built and painted here a Typhoon and two Tornadoes.

I then started work on 5 Retributors, a Knight-Heraldor and a Knight-Vexillor for my Stormcast Eternals.

The Knight-Heraldor was finished today, I dunno why but I decided to focus on just him.

I also made sure all of my next ten projects are built, primed and paced into my “in-tray“.

So how does my painting plan look for now.

  1. Stormcast Eternals Retributors x 5 & Knight-Vexillor.
  2. Space Wolves Grey Hunters Packs Leaders x 4, Iron Priest & Repulsor
  3. Blood Ravens Chaplains x 5
  4. Chainrasp Horde x 40
  5. Sons of Horus Contemptor Dreadnought
  6. T’au Ethereal on Hover Drone x 2
  7. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 10
  8. Death Guard Sabre Strike Tank x 2
  9. Stormcast Eternals Sequitors x 8
  10. Blood Ravens Repulsor x 2

What I Am Reading

I finished Valdor: Birth of the Imperium, I enjoyed it, but I found it very short and I think I would have like there to be more to it.

I have now started on The Founding by Dan Abnett the first Gaunts Ghosts omnibus, I have been getting hassle from Graham and Chris for having never read any Gaunts Ghosts books so I am correcting that oversight.

In terms of audio books I listened to Honourbound by Racheal Harrison, because I really loved the story and it was just as enjoyable in audio format.

I also finished listening to Cadia Stands by Justin D Hill, which was really good and I was quite pleased to hear that Cadians are in fact, space Geordies.

And I just started listening to Cadian Honour by Justin D Hill which continues the Cadians are Geordies theme.

What I Am Playing

Sadly not a sausage, really sad about that.

What I Am Backing

Still backing Railroad Ink Challenge, but I am considering dropping my pledge at this point just due to financial issues.

We are seriously looking at backing Chai: High Tea, the game looks really nice.

What I Am Cooking

For Sunday morning breakfast I made a slow cooker hash brown and smoked sausage casserole, it tasted a lot better than it looked.

Next time I am thinking of reducing the smoked sausage a bit, adding some unsmoked bacon lardons and a finely diced green pepper.

What I Am Spending

My first premium pack for Mortal Realms arrived, a slight issue with a sprue but nowt that I can’t imagine will take long to deal with.

The pack is of Flesh Eaters Courts and contains an Abhorrant Archregent, 20 Crypt Ghouls, and 3 Crypt Flayers, plus Athonian Camoshade and an extra magazine

The only issue is that Lindsay and Megan are not pleased that I am giving serious thought into turning these guys into an army that I would play with!

We also as a household decided to buy Pandemic: Hot Zone North America, we love Pandemic and the idea of a smaller, quicker version of the game is very appealing, just like Ticket to Ride London.

I also purchased a couple of sheets of transfers with the Blood Ravens chapter symbol, but they aren’t due to arrive until July as they are coming from China.

And finally I bought myself a 12 pack of Carabao Sugar Free Green Apple, annoyingly I have been living on energy drinks lately, they have really been helping me get through the day.

But this on is my current favourite, and thankfully is sugar free.

May Resolutions Update

How did I do in May for my resolutions, well let’s have a look shall we.

Paint 867 Models – 70.59%

Kinda smashing this one, I have painted 612 models so far this year and I have plans to do 80 Chainrasps in June which will take me a good chunk of the rest of the way.

Terrain and Nighthaunts have really helped me get ahead with this resolution.

This month I have painted up to

Finish Painting The Blood Ravens I Own on 1st January – 58.97%

This month I painted two units of Scouts, these I got from Conquest last summer. I actually bought two extra copies for these, my subscription copy is going to the Blood Angels I share with Megan.

I also painted five Intercessors to reinforce a squad of five I already have painted, plus Sgt Jovan, although he doesn’t actually count towards the resolution as I got in this year.

And finally I managed to paint my three Land Speeders, a Typhoon and two Tornados.

This brings me above the half way point and puts me well ahead of schedule.

Finish The Death Guard – 83.33%

Well I made a giant leap forward with the Death Guard this month by painting the Tallyman, which is the last of the Conquest collection to be done, and two sets of Blightlord Terminators.

All I have left to do now is a pair of Chaos Spawn and Mortarion himself, the Chaos Spawn are now built and primed and I am planning long term for when I will paint Mortarion.

Complete 2000 Points of Stormcast Eternals – 70%

This month I was able to add a Knight-Questor, Lord-Ordinator, two Celestar Balista, three Prosectors and a Knight-Venator to the list, taking me up to 1400 points painted.

Next month I am going to come up with an actual game list to use for this resolution, it’s all fine and dandy having 2000 points painted but if it’s not a useable list does it count?

So it’s likely that this percentage will come down as I figure that list out.

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A few bits for my Stormcast a Eternals were finished tonight. A Lord-Ordinator and two Celestar Ballista with thier Sacrosanct Engineers, one from Soul Wars I got off @ebay_uk when the box set was first realised and an Easy to Build one I got from Warhammer Mortal Realms. #Warmongers #WarhammerCommunity #PaintingWarhammer2020 #IsolationHobby #PaintingWarhammer #PaintingGamesWorkshop #WarhammerAgeOfSigmar #AoS #WarhammerAoS #AgeOfSigmar #GrandAllianceOrder #StormcastEternals #CelestialVindicators #SacrosanctChamber #LordOrdinator #LordOrdinatorVorrusStarstrike #VorrusStarstrike #CelestarBallista #EasyToBuildCelestarBallista #MortalRealms #WarhammerMortalRealms #Painthammer2020 @jewelknightjess

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Rebase Blood Ravens 25%

I made a start on this by rebasing the first Tactical Squad, and leaves me with another Tactical Squad, an Assault Squad and a Captain to do still, but it’s a start.

I intend to get this completed in June.

Other Resolutions

  • Complete 1750 Points of T’au
  • Complete 1750 Points of Orks
  • Rebase the Orks
  • Paint Mortarion for Everchosen

Not much to report here, the plan is to rebase a few Orks next month, and as you will see some T’au units are starting to appear on my painting plan now.

So let’s have a look at the painting plan and what I have planned in the next few weeks.

As I said the first T’au units have appeared on the list as have the first Sons of Horus unit for the Edge of Empire Podcast army.

  1. Stormcast Eternals Retributors x 5, Knight-Heraldor and Knight-Vexillor
  2. Space Wolves Grey Hunters Pack Leaders x 4 and Iron Priest
  3. Blood Ravens Chaplains x 5
  4. Chainrasp Horde x 40
  5. Sons of Horus Contemptor Dreadnought
  6. T’au Ethereal on Hover Drone x 2
  7. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 10
  8. Death Guard Sabre Strike Tanks x 2
  9. Stormcast Eternals Sequitors x 8
  10. Blood Ravens Repulsor x 2

Long term I am aiming to complete the Blood Ravens within the next three months, most of what’s ahead of me for them is Infantry units, 16 units are left to do, of which 7 are characters.

The T’au are starting to feature in my long term planning now, but I do have phase 3 of Niki’s Death Korps of Krieg which I am going to start slotting in from next week.

Starting Flesh-Eaters Courts with Mortal Realms

For those of you subscribing to Mortal Realms, if you went Premium, then you will hopefully by now have the first Premium set which focuses on the Flesh-Eater Courts.

So I decided to look at how you would turn this into a 1000pt army and a 2000pt army for as little as possible.

So let’s look at what the box gives you first off, and what you get if you build it as the guide suggests.

  • Abhorrant Archregent
  • Crypt Ghouls x 20
  • Crypt Flayers x 3

So let’s look at they when plugged into Azyr, and if you split the Crypt Ghouls into two units of 10 that gives you 610 points.

So where would I go from here, well personally I would grab a Start Collecting Flesh-Eater Courts, this gives you an additional 10 Crypt Ghouls, 3 more Crypt Flayers and a Terrorgheist plus I’d also grab the Endless Spells.

Now you can’t pop all this in the list to get to 1000pts, you would go way over, but that’s fine because we are gonna use most of the box to get to 2000pts.

So with this in mind my new list would be:-

  • Abhorrant Archregent
  • Abhorrant Ghoulking
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Crypt Flayers x 3
  • Chalice of Ushoran
  • Corpsemare Stampede

And that gets you to 990pts.

Ok so let’s get cracking on with 2000pts.

Straightaway I am gonna throw in the Terrorgheist, and then build some Crypt Horrors to use up the rest of the Start Collecting set.

That gets you to 1420 and I think the best way to go to 2000, is to buy another Start Collecting set!

So from that we add in an Abhorrant Ghoul King on a Terrorgheist, and we make from the Crypt Flayers, plus the bits we have saved from the other kits, a Crypt Haunter Courtier and a Crypt Infernal Courtier plus another one of your choice to use all three models.

So the list I have now looks like this:-

  • Abhorrant Archregent
  • Abhorrant Ghoul King
  • Abhorrant Ghoul King on a Royal Terrorgheist
  • Crypt Infernal Courtier (Or Crypt Haunter Courtier)
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Crypt Ghouls x 10
  • Royal Terrorgheist
  • Crypt Horrors x 3
  • Crypt Flayers x 3
  • Corpsemare Stampede
  • Chalice of Ushoran

That gives you a list of 1960pts for adding two Start Collecting boxes and the Endless Spells.

And it leaves you with 10 Crypt Ghouls left over, personally I’d be tempted to make a Crypt Ghasy Courtier and then hit eBay up for the parts to make another Crypt Ghast so you can have another full unit of 10 for when you want to change your list up.

I am not going to pretend this list will won you games, because frankly I don’t know if it will, I haven’t played Flesh-Eater Courts before and I won’t pretend this is a big tactica article.

But this will get you an army for Battlehost level games for as little outlay as possible.

If you were to buy the kits from Element Games, it would cost you £110.50, which isn’t too bad.

I’d also be tempted to grab the Charnel Throne as well, it’s not too much of an outlay and does look really cool.

When it comes to painting them, Peachy at Warhammer TV did a great video for painting The Grymwatch, the Warhammer Underworlds Warband for the Flesh-Eaters Courts and if you are gonna do Hollowmourne this is the way I would paint them.

In fact I probably will paint them this way.

So let me know what you think of my ideas, and if you are gonna give them a try out, let me know how it goes!

Just a quick note, if you do follow the links to Element Games and buy something from them, a little bit of a commission is made for Edge of Empire which helps keep the podcast running.

9th Edition Inbound

So it cannot escaped the attention of those of you who care, but Games a Workshop have announced the 9th Edition of Awarhammer 40,000.

I can’t say much about because I know very little, but I do like what I hear about it.

The main thing I like is the rebalancing of Command Points because right now the prevalence of the loyal 32 and armies with multiple detachments is not good.

When I play it’s with one army and one set of rules, I hate seeing armies in which one detachment is from the Raven Guard another from White Scars and a third from Ultramarines in a situation where it seems that those with the most command points is gonna be the winner.

I am not opposed to allies but the soup situation was getting silly. I hope to see a system in which choosing one army is rewarded and you are penalised for trying to take soup or different sets of rules from one Codex.

Unless of course fluff actually permits it, like a detachment of Tempestus Scions with Cadians for example.

I do like 8th but it does have faults and I am glad the guys at GW are looking to address those.

And I have been this month thinking of making Necrons a project for next year and lo and behold, new Necron models are coming!

I am still planning on picking up Start Collecting Necrons so long as it’s still in stock when I get paid, to add to the two sets of Forgebane I have and the extra Immortals and Lychguard I have. Even think I have an Overlord in there as well.

This week I have made a few changes to the site, I started just wanting to tidy it up a little, add an Instagram widget and put up a link to Edge of Empires affiliate link with Element Games, I doubt anyone from the blog would use it, but you never know, it all goes to helping run the show.

Anyway it ended up being a full redesign with a change of theme and lots of behind the scenes stuff. I changed the SEO plugin to one that works better with social media and removed some stuff that wasn’t working too well.

I also added a security certificate, so not this site will use https instead of the not secure http. Not that it matters as I don’t have registered users in the site, nor do I sell anything but I don’t want people looking at the Not Secure bit and wondering if I am up to no good with data.

One thing I am using to motivate me is a new Goodreads sidebar, that way people who aren’t on Goodreads can pester me about my reading progress.

Goodreads is a site I need to use more to get the best out of it and hopefully this will motivate me to do so.

It’s been three years since the site had a major update so hopefully this will keep it looking good for a bit longer.

What I Am Painting

I started the week by painting the Raptoryx from Warcry which was the final thing to do from that box set.

I did them in a scheme influenced by Louise Sugden and I am quite pleased with how they turned out.

I then turned my attention to two squads of Blood Ravens Scouts. I got both squads from Conquest so I got two squads and saved £1.52 compared to buying them from Games Workshop.

The sculpts are very old and a bit static but they still paint up nicely. I built one squad with Bolters and one squad with Shotguns, both have a Heavy Bolter.

I had a unit of Scouts from an old Space Marines Battleforce when I first got back into the hobby, but I attempted some conversions on them and frankly they were unsalvageable, so I ended up getting rid of them.

These mean that I could fulfil the troop requirements of a Battalion detachment with just scouts for 40k, when combined with the Sniper Scouts I repainted a few years ago. I am not sure I would ever do that, but perhaps in a Vanguard themed list perhaps.

Next I moved onto my next Millitarium Tempestus squad and their Taurox Prime. These are some of my favourite models and they are always a treat to paint. I love the colour scheme of the 55th Kappic Eagles.

Whilst working on them I decided to let myself get distracted and build and paint the first Sigmarite Mausoleum for Age of Sigmar seeing as I got the first copy of Issue 25 of Mortal Realms.

So I finished that in Sunday after editing the podcast.

I finally got the Scions finished just before the 9th Edition Q&A.

I also built my Stormhawk Interceptor for the Blood Ravens and built some Swiftclaws for the Space Wolves.

I have literally just started on the Stormcast Eternals Prosecutors tonight.

So how does this leave my painting queue right now, well as you can see below, we have the first T’au units appearing on the plan, which starts on one of my resolutions for 2020.

  1. Blood Ravens Land Speeders x 3
  2. Stormcast Eternals Prosecutors and Knight-Venator
  3. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 5 & Sgt Jovan
  4. Stormcast Eternals Retributors, Knight-Heraldor and Knight- Vexilior
  5. Space Wolves Grey Hunters Pack Leaders and Iron Priest
  6. Blood Ravens Chaplains x 5
  7. Chainrasp Horde x 40
  8. Sons of Horus Contemptor Dreadnought
  9. T’au Ethereal on Hover Drone x 2
  10. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 10

What Am I Reading

I started on Valdor: Birth of the Imperium, not got a lot read but enjoying it so far.

What Am I Playing

Despite wanting to play games I haven’t played any.

What Am I Backing

I am backing Railway Ink Challenge for now, not sure if I will back it all the way but it does look really good and I do fancy having a roll and write game in my collection.

We are also looking quite favourable at Chai: High Tea which looks very pretty.

What I Am Cooking

I made some Be-Ro flapjacks which are some of my favourite baked goods.

They use cornflakes and are familiar and loved by most north eastern folk. First time I was severed a flapjack outside my home I was upset because it had no flapjacks and noting like what I had a home!

What I Am Spending

Not spent anything this week but my copies of Mortal Realms 15 from Forbidden Planet and Conquest 48 from Hachette finally arrived together on Friday.

Waiting for #Cans

Well earlier in the year I cast doubt on the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, but now it’s looking like it’s actually going to happen and Mike Ashley will be leaving our club after an awful period under his ownership.

But the takeover is proving to be controversial, with lots of people saying that we fans should object to the takeover for various reasons, from the human rights record of a Saudi Arabia, to their alleged involvement in piracy of Premiership games.

I am not an idiot, I am well aware that Saudi Arabia is hugely problematic, it treats women, LGBTQ+ folk, Shia Muslims and Baha’is dreadfully.

And yes it’s not exactly been the most surgical of combatants in Yemen, and it’s actions have killed many innocent people, but the scary thing in that conflict is that they are the good guys. The opposition in that war are particularly nasty Iranian backed rebels. But yeah, their record of collateral damage is absolutely appalling, and they should be held to account for that.

And the Crown Princes involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is something that can’t be overlooked, his fiancée has even written a letter begging fans to object to the takeover.

But let’s be honest, we fans don’t get a say in the matter, we have seen the club drained dry over the past 14 years, relegated twice, our home used as an advertising board, our stadium renamed, players discriminated against, the training ground and stadium neglected to the point where they need lots of investment to fix problems that should never have been allowed to develop, and ticket prices going up well above what other clubs pay.

Mike Ashley will do what’s best for him, and him alone, he cares not for the opinion of the fans, he doesn’t give us a say nor does he even communicate with us.

And so 97% of fans are behind the takeover, despite some very loud complaints by the MP who represents the stadium and some fans who turn out to work for NGOs who campaign against Saudi Arabia.

I can’t comment on the rights and wrongs of the takeover, because I don’t get a say, but I would hope that if the Saudi PIF do takeover the club, we might see positive changes in Saudi itself, in which women get to take part in football a lot more, in the same way that women’s participation in football took off in the UAE after the Man City takeover.

But there is a part of me, that it’s still convinced it will never happen, I am prepared for Mike Ashley to spit out his dummy and continue his destructive ownership of the club.

But if and when the takeover is announced, I will crack open the #cans and enjoy a drink in celebration of being rid of Ashley. I will be cautious about the future, I am gonna try and be optimistic, and hope that we Geordies can convince the Saudis to be better people.

I guess it’s a sad place to be in when ownership by a not very nice non-democratic regime is the preferred option.

What I Am Modelling

At the start of the week, I was quite pleased to be featured on the Warhammer Mortal Realms Facebook page with some of my Myrmourn Banshees, they didn’t tell me in advance but I am happy enough to have been featured.

I started the weeks painting by putting the Tallyman and Blightlord Terminators into the painting handles and figured I would also do my Ultramarines Javelin Attack Speeders at the same time.

The Javelins got finished first, I wanted them done to fulfil my hobby goals for Edge of Empire this month.

I was lucky enough with these to get in a trade from Heresy Trading last year, a set of Predator Lascannon Sponson, which are identical to the ones used for these, so I bought two of the ones with Cyclone Missile Launchers and magnetised them, giving me both options.

I finished off the old Forge World Terminators on the Saturday night whilst watching Life on Mars with Megan. I got the newer ones and the Tallyman a good chunk of the way there but at the end of season 1 we decided to go to bed, I thought about going downstairs to paint some more but figured that I should get to bed at a reasonable time.

The newer Blightlord were finished on Sunday morning, much bigger and bulkier models than the older ones and with a lot more character than the older ones with elements of Heresy era armour.

The Tallyman was also finished on Sunday, which is the last of my Conquest subscription models.

I then started on a combination of the Chaos Furies and the Dreadblade Harrows, and got the Dreadblade Harrows finished quite quickly.

The Furies followed soon after, not my best work but I like them.

I also started work in rebasing some Blood Ravens with a Tactical Squad, cutting off the old bases was a bit nerve racking but well worth it as they look so much better now.

So let’s take a look at my painting plan right now.

The Chainrasp Horde is now back on the list thanks to the Grey Seer I got delivered.

  1. Raptoryx x 6
  2. Blood Ravens Scouts x 10
  3. Millitarium Tempestus Meltagun Squad and Taurox Prime
  4. Blood Ravens Landspeeders x 3
  5. Stormcast Eternals Prosecutors x 3 and Knight-Venator
  6. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 5 & Sgt Jovan
  7. Stormcast Eternals Retributors x 5, Knight-Heraldor and Knight-Vexillor
  8. Space Wolves Grey Hunters Pack Leaders x 4 & Iron Priest
  9. Blood Ravens Chaplains x 4
  10. Chainrasp Horde x 40

What I Am Reading

After my review of Tales from the Crucible, Aconyte reached out to me and sent me a copy of Wrath of N’Kai by Josh Reynolds so I could give it a read and review it.

It was extremely enjoyable and I have written a review that you can read here.

What I Am Playing

Haven’t played anything this week, I had hoped to convince Megan to play a game with me today, but she was very tired.

What I Am Backing

Nothing this week, but I do have my eye on Railway Ink Challenge which looks really good.

What Am I Cooking

Noting this week, been a tough week physically, at one point I was in hospital with the Covid legacy.

What Am I Spending

Not a lot really, I did buy a copy of Mortal Realms Issue 15 to add to the issue 11 I already have to combine with those in my subscription to give me a full Sigmarite Mausoleum.

Annoyingly I am still waiting for these and Conquest 48, but the postal service is rammed right now so I guess that’s understandable.

Wrath of N’Kai

After my review of Tales from The Crucible, Aconyte reached out to set me up with a new copy of Wrath if N’Kai by Josh Reynolds.

So here are some disclaimers which are always important to put out there first. I am a friend of Josh on Facebook, and whilst we aren’t beat buds, we do interact with each other and I consider him a class person, and I have very much enjoyed his work with Black Library.

Secondly I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

So Arkham Horror is not a game I have actually played, I fancy it, but me and the Cthulhu mythos have never been quite on the same wavelength.

I have never read any H.P. Lovecraft books, my first exposure to them was at a small convention in London when I was about 12, it was actually a convention for Corps of Drums, not even speculative fiction.

Basically an older chap was reading a book and it lead into a discussion lead by a BAME person about the issues of racism in his work, and even the chap reading the book was pretty clear that there was some nasty racism in some of his work.

As I said I have never read any, that discussion put me off, but I have read stuff by other authors, never a novel, usually short stories and played games set in the mythos. I have so many Cthulhu expansions for games that one would think I am a huge fan.

I can play all of Munchkin Cthulhu, get all the references and jokes, but as I said never read a single Lovecraft story.

It’s a gap in my knowledge that I am actually going to try and fill, I was recently gifted an audiobook of the complete fiction of Lovecraft, so am considering giving that a listen, but I will admit the racism is something that I will be on edge about.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

It’s a 1920 whodunit told mostly from the perspective of master thief Countess Alessandra Zorzi who arrives in the town of Arkham, hired by a mysterious cabal to steal a newly discovered mummy.

The eldritch prologue sets you up for some occult horror, but the book largely steered clear of that, which given that the protagonist is not that familiar with the intricacies of the occult makes sense.

The setting is deep and rich, with gangsters and bootleggers, all speaking with 1920s US slang. It’s a real atmospheric period piece that evokes the days of prohibition, with just a hint of eldritch terror and added tommy guns.

Alessandra herself is a very three dimensional character and extremely well developed beyond the trope of the aristocratic thief. We see her backstory teased out over the book, learning more about her as we go though, and as I said, she is more than just the trope.

Her driver Pepper was actually my favourite character in the story, they have their own secret, although this is revealed early on. They are full of spunk and as mentioned by a gangster they deal with, moxie.

It’s a really fast paced book, that I literally devoured over two sittings, one that got me 20% of the way in and the rest in an evening that kept me reading until 3am! I was just utterly drawn in by the story with its twists and turns.

As I said I haven’t played Arkham Horror, but I have played Elder Sign and I recognised lots of elements of that games story mechanics in this book.

And given my surface knowledge of Lovecrafts work, I did recognise a few little nods to those within the story that will please those who are more familiar.

There is a bit of a creep factor in there, and there were certainly bits that had my skin crawling just a little, but not so much to put me off. It’s very light in terms of horror, which makes it very accessible.


Personally I loved this book, it was a throughly enjoyable story which whilst grounded in the Cthulhu mythos, did not delve into it too deeply, nor did it require me to have more than passing knowledge.

In fact I think if a layperson was to pick up this book and read it, they would get on with it perfectly fine without knowing a thing about the mythos.

This book was great and for me it was a fantastic read. I particularly enjoyed a strong female protagonist who at no point needed any romantic entanglements, and the pulpy 1920s nature of the story was just delightful.

I really hope that the countess and Pepper return to Arkham for some more adventures, this is kind of hinted at, but please Josh, do it!

Tales From The Crucible – Book Review

Aconyte Books were kind enough to allow me to review a couple of books ahead of their general release and the first one I am doing is the first Keyforge book, Tales from the Crucible.

So couple of things I should get out of the way, I do have a causal work contract for Aconytes parent company Asmodee to demonstrate games, one of which is Keyforge.

I am also friends with three of the authors whose stories are featured in this book, David Guymer, CL Werner and Robbie MacNivan, but I have tried my best to not let those two things cloud my judgement.

I will start by saying that the software that is used to read these time limited books is absolutely awful on the iPhone 11, it’s very buggy, it misses off the top line of every page due to the notch, meaning you have to mess about a bit to read it, and it frequently skips forwards a few pages and very often crashes.

If you are going to buy these, do so in a format that can be read by any other program than Adobe Digital Editions.

Ok so with that out of the way, let’s dive in.

What Is The Crucible?

The Crucible is a giant word larger than the sun, an artificial planet that is constantly under construction by the the Architects.

They gather their materials by transporting them from other planets and worlds, often bringing that worlds inhabitants along for the ride.

The world contains every environment imaginable, from bustling urban sprawls, to deserts, to jungles, to meadows and everything in between.

The Architects communicate through the ethereal Archons who themselves are completely in the dark about the purpose behind the Crucible.

And so they gather bands of followers, to gather Æmber, a psychic substance that can be forged into keys that unlock the vaults if they architects.

Keyforge itself is a unique deck card game, developed by Richard Garfield, the developer best know for Magic: The Gathering and King of Tokyo.

It’s a really good game, you should go check it out, but I am not reviewing the game here, but I will soon.

The Book

Tales from the Crucible is a collection of nine stories from established authors the majority of whom have some experience writing for franchises.

The collection is expertly edited by Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells and I think she deserves a big mention here and the collection flows really well from one story into another with aspects of the universe introduced in earlier stories being built upon in later ones.

It probably does help to have a brief idea of the fluff and lore behind Keyforge, but it’s not exactly required.

So let’s take a look at the stories, we open up with Contract by Tristan Palgren and this is the tale of an elf assassin name Vira, hired to take out an Archon.

The Archons are godlike beings who are believed to be immortal so the story does touch on the contract being more trouble than it’s worth for the bother it might bring on the Shadows.

You get to see two Archons and their retinues battle it out over Æmber and the technology, magics and different cultures that make up the races of the Crucible.

This story is an amazing introduction to the world of Keyforge and the twist in the end is quite good.

I actually hope to see Vira feature in more stories as I rather like the character.

Then we have The Apprentice by Cath Lauria, which features Roz the titular apprentice to a Goblin mechanic.

Her whole purpose in life is to gather the parts and money to fix Tris, the only thing she has left of her parents, only thing is her boss has lost Tris in a bet.

This story follows her efforts to keep Tris by striking a deal with a Saurian, and her journey to get what he wants.

You get a great look at the Crucibles underworld and some of its most downtrodden inhabitants who live in an actual dump.

Personally I found this story to be the richest one in the book, the amount of world building it achieves is incredible and it’s a lovely quirky story and you can’t help but be touched with the ending.

After this we get Extermination Examination by Robbie MacNivan, who as I mentioned, is a friend.

This story follows a pair of students conducting fieldwork with the Martians, who are a fanatical, xenophobic and secretive race.

The Martians I found in the game to be a bit cliche and Robbie plays up all the cliches here, they even have heat rays! And it works, especially as he actually fleshes them out a lot and really digs into their paranoid nature.

The ending to this one caused me to laugh out loud, I was reading it in bed and it caused Megan to wake up frightened!

The Librarians Dual by M K Hutchins is about a librarian funnily enough, but she has a daughter whom is trapped in the walls of her library, and must be given books to read to prevent her from being fully absorbed into the walls.

Out on a journey one day to return some books to the central library, she encounters a gang of giant barbarian warriors and accidentally becomes their leader!

I was reading this and scratched my head as I wasn’t sure where it was leading, but oh my this story is hilarious, absolutely rip roaringly good, it kinda reminds me of Prachett a bit.

The next story, To Catch a Thief by Thomas Parrott concerns Nalea Wysasandoral an elven thief who whilst being excellent at what she does may have bitten off more than she can chew.

A notorious private detective, Talus the Thief-Taker a creature made of stone. Both of these are wonderful characters and despite only being a short story, you get to know a lot about them.

Another insight into the underworld of the Crucible and a twist at the end which was unexpected and very interesting.

The we have Useful Parasites by MK Hutchins which takes place in the Lesser Uncanny Forest and features a Taryx who is a creature a bit like an Ent, who acts as a healer for the creatures of the forest.

The story is about him taking care of a creature that crashes into his vegetable garden , whom he calls Burble, and tending it back to health for it to become a companion and assistant.

But noting on the Crucible is quite what it seems and the assistance that Burble gives him in his work to care for the creatures of the forest comes at a price.

It’s a slow story and the ending is what I would describe as bittersweet, but it’s really well written and very enjoyable all round.

The Perfect Organism is a contribution by CL Werner and this Godzilla inspired tale is about a Martian scientist called Briiilp and his efforts to make Creature 647 the perfect genetically adapted war machine.

Sending him out to face a an abomination known as the Tyrant, this tale really shows off Werners ability to write such horrible creatures and the way they act and battle and also really explores the character of the fanatical Martians.

Wibble and Pplimz, Investigators for Hire from M Darusha Wehm is a delightful story starting with the classification detective story trope of a missing person.

This most unusual story in the collection it sees the protagonist venture into the lawless zone accompanied by a classic odd couple of Wibble and Pplimz, who have some, shall we say erratic personalities.

The ending was a twist I really didn’t see coming and in a way was slightly disturbing.

I am not sure what to say about David Guymers Vaultheads, it was a really entertaining romp which looked at the idea that LARP is something that might also exist in the universes of speculative fictions.

It’s a really engaging story and I saw lots of aspects of role players, LARPers and gamers I know.

To be honest it was practically perfect as a means to end the collection as it’s kinda subversive and I liked that, and I think the ending was actually quite upbeat and emotionally satisfying.


This was a really good collection, I was already reasonably familiar with the lore behind Keyforge and this was a great way to explore the universe a bit further.

But now I want more, there are some characters in there that I really need to read more about, and I think that Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells has frankly done a superb job in getting the right authors to write the right stories.

I will absolutely be buying this as soon as it’s released in September.

The only reasons I took so long to read this was the dreadfulness of the software that I had to use to read it, plus during the reading of it I came down with COVID-19 and struggled to actually concentrate on reading in the way I would have liked to.

This is why I was sadly unable to read Wrath of N’Kai by Josh Reynolds, before my load of the file ran out which is a real shame

Lockdown Hobby Goals

A few weeks ago Games Workshop put up a series of 10 hobby goals for people to try and hit whilst on lockdown and I have decided to try and give them a go.

The ones in bold I have achieved thus far.

  • Take a picture of your latest painted model and post it online with #WarhammerCommunity
  • Complete the scenic bases for your army
  • Build and paint a Monster
  • Build and paint a Kill Team
  • Listen to a whole Warhammer audiobook while painting
  • Build and paint a Warcry Warband
  • Take a picture of your hobby area and post it on Twitter with #WarhammerCommunity
  • Teach someone new to paint a model!
  • Read a Black Library novel
  • Build and paint a new piece of terrain

They are mostly pretty good and I think I can get most of these done, the only one I am not sure it is painting a Monster, I do have Mortarion to do for Everchosen, just got to fit him into the schedule.

Obviously I have a few times now shared my latest models with #WarhammerCommunity, I don’t have many scenic bases for my armies, but all the ones I have right now for the Nighthaunt are completed.

I just finished listening to Beastgrave whilst painting (more on that below) and I have built and painted two Warcry Warbands, a Stormcast Eternals Vanguard Chamber one and the Untamed Beasts.

And a few weeks ago I did all of my Age of Sigmar terrain so that fulfilled that criteria.

So that’s five down and five to do, and I will be getting the Kill Team done in the next week I think.

What I Am Painting

I started the week off by painting the pair of Tech-Priest Manipulus’s I got when the Theta-7 Acquisitus box was released back in January last year and they have been sitting in my desk every since.

Been a while since I did any Adeptus Mechanicus but these were fairly fun to paint, although I think some subassemblies would have worked better for them.

These will see service in both my Adeptus Mechanicus army for 40k and my Mechanicum army in 30k.

Whilst various washes were drying on these I started and finished an Easy to Build Redemptor Dreadnought that I got from Warhammer 40,000 Conquest, but I decided to give this model to the Space Wolves.

Been a while since I touched my Space Wolves but I am thinking of going back and doing some work on them to bring them into 8th Edition.

I have already kitbashed together 4 Grey Hunters Pack Leaders, as last edition you could replace these with Wolf Guard Pack Leaders, which I always did, but now you need them in 8th.

I also built from various parts I had, 15 Blood Claws as that’s a unit I don’t really have in my Space Wolves.

I then started work on the Celestar Balista and Lord Ordinator for the Stormcast Eternals, these were one Balista from Soul Wars and an Easy To Build one from Warhammer Mortal Realms.

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A few bits for my Stormcast a Eternals were finished tonight. A Lord-Ordinator and two Celestar Ballista with thier Sacrosanct Engineers, one from Soul Wars I got off @ebay_uk when the box set was first realised and an Easy to Build one I got from Warhammer Mortal Realms. #Warmongers #WarhammerCommunity #PaintingWarhammer2020 #IsolationHobby #PaintingWarhammer #PaintingGamesWorkshop #WarhammerAgeOfSigmar #AoS #WarhammerAoS #AgeOfSigmar #GrandAllianceOrder #StormcastEternals #CelestialVindicators #SacrosanctChamber #LordOrdinator #LordOrdinatorVorrusStarstrike #VorrusStarstrike #CelestarBallista #EasyToBuildCelestarBallista #MortalRealms #WarhammerMortalRealms #Painthammer2020 @jewelknightjess

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I finished the first Celestar Balista on the Sunday, the other was finished apart from the base and then concentrated on the Sacristan Engineers and the Lord Ordinator.

I did a big burst of painting until 2am to get them finished. It’s been a long time since I got in the zone like that, and it was actually nice, I had Jack Ryan in in the background and I just painted, and before I knew it, all the models were done and I had binged all of season 2!

Next up on the painting table is some Blightlord Terminators and a Tallyman for the Death Guard.

I have decided to paint both the Deloris Strain and the Blightlord Terminators I made from the old version of the Chaos Terminators and the Forge World upgrade kit at the same time.

So let’s take a look at my painting queue.

  1. Blightlord Terminators x 10 & Tallyman
  2. Chaotic Beasts x 12
  3. Dreadblade Harrows x 2
  4. Blood Ravens Scouts x 10
  5. Millitarium Tempestus Meltagun Squad x 10 & Taurox Prime
  6. Blood Ravens Landspeeders x 3
  7. Stormcast Eternals Prosecutor x 3 and Knight-Venator
  8. Blood Ravens Intercessors x 5 & Sgt Jovan
  9. Stormcast Eternals Retributors x 5 & Knight-Vexillor
  10. Space Wolves Grey Hunters Pack Leaders x 4 & Iron Priest

What I Am Reasing

I started with an audiobook, I listened to Beastgrave which was a very good listen, different to what I was expecting by most enjoyable. The ending was a bit anticlimactic but other than that I loved it.

What I Am Playing

On Sunday we played a couple of games I’d Codenames Pictures. In one I was the spymaster for both players and Lindsay won, and in the second Megan was the spymaster for me and Lindsay and I won.

What I Am Backing

I convinced the girls and we are now backing Lords of Vegas at a level to get us the base game and both expansions.

I have been after this game for some time and it keeps being out of print whenever I am looking, so I am very happy to be backing this.

What Am I Cooking

I have cooked anything at all since my last blog post.

What Am I Spending

Not much spent but I did get my first resupply of paints from Games Workshop since they reopened and it was very much needed.

A can of Grey Seer, pots of Grey Seer, Rakarth Flesh, Kabalite Green, Gryph-Charger Grey and Valhallan Blizzard and two paint brushes, an M Layer and S Layer.

Ugh This Virus

This virus blows, I have gone backwards in recovery a bit, I am more tired, yet have trouble sleeping, and I am really struggling to get up and down stairs.

The doctors put me back on antibiotics and have given me an inhaler, but it’s still left me severely limited in what I am able to do.

I am still figuring out how to properly use the inhaler but it’s surprisingly difficult.

What I Am Modelling

I started the week off by building and priming my next ten projects, this way everything is ready at hand to paint.

Unfortunately the Grey Seer ran out part way though priming the Chainrasps, so they have been put aside to do once I get resupplied and their place in the painting queue has been taken by the Dreadblade Harrows.

I then started on Nikis Death Korps of Krieg special weapons Grenadiers and a Knight Questor for my Stormcast Eternals.

The Grenadiers represent the last of what I can do right now, until lockdown is lifted and I can see Niki to get a couple of parts I need for the last ten Grenadiers.

There are three Plasma Guns, three Meltaguns, three Vox Operators and a Watchmaster in this batch.

The Knight-Questor was finished at the same time, did him between bits of the Grenadiers, absolutely love the model, really cool to paint.

Then I placed onto the painting handles the last of the Khorne models from the original Age of Sigmar Starter Set from 2015, the Blood Warriors and Khorgus Khul the Mighty Lord of Khorne.

Mostly followed the standard painting guide for these, but made a few subtle changes here and there to better suit my personal vision for the Bloodbound.

And at the same time I also painted up Canoness Veridyan too.

I then put the Untamed Beasts from Warcry onto the painting table, a Warband I have been looking forward to painting for some time.

These had a lot of cool textures to work with, stuff I don’t normally get to paint and they were a real joy to get done.

So how does my painting queue look now?

  1. Tech-Priest Manipulus x 2
  2. Stormcast Eternals Celestar Ballista x 2 & Lord Ordinator
  3. Blightlord Terminators x 5 & Tallyman
  4. Chaotic Beasts x 12
  5. Dreadblade Harrows x 2
  6. Blood Ravens Scouts x 10
  7. Millitarium Tempestus Meltagun Squad x 10 & Taurox Prime
  8. Blood Ravens Landspeeders x 3
  9. Stormcast Eternals Prosectors and Knight-Venator
  10. Space Wolves Redemptor Dreadnought

What I Am Reading

I finished Tales From The Crucible and a review will come soon.

Haven’t started a new book yet.

What I Am Playing

My concentration hasn’t been there to play anything on tabletop but I have played a few games of Carcassonne and Warhammer Underworlds on the PC.

What I Am Backing

Nothing but gonna have another crack at convincing the girls we should back Lords of Vegas.

The Forgotten Chapters transfer sheet ran into a hitch, some of the original designs have been rejected as being too close to GW IP so they are being redesigned, but that’s cool, just means a slight delay.

What I Am Cooking

We had a pulled pork feast on Sunday, I couldn’t manage to make the pulled pork myself, but I did, with extensive help make some tangy BBQ Pit Beans.

Want to make a few changes before I put up the recipe however, but they were delicious.

I also mixed up a new batch of Cajun spice mix.

What I Am Spending

Now that GW is open I bought a few paints which got dispatched yesterday, so hopefully they will be with me on Tuesday.

I also bought a copy of Warhammer 40,000 Conquest Issue 48 from Hachette, I had a spare of this sitting around already, so when I have this, three of the bikes will be being used to make a squad of Swiftclaws for my Space Wolves and the spare is likely to one day become a Space Marine Captain for my Blood Ravens on a bike or perhaps as a Wolf Guard Pack Leader.

We also got the Asmodee Digital Play With Friends Humble Bundle which got us a number of awesome board games for Steam and gave some money to charity.

We do have a couple of games that we already own spare however, so if anyone wants Carcassonne, Small World 2 or Splendour, drop us a message.

April Resolutions Update

It’s the end of the month so let’s see how I did on my resolutions.

Paint 867 Models – 57.90%

I have painted 502 models so far this year, obviously this means I am well ahead of schedule which I am happy with.

A good chunk of this game in the month in the form of terrain. Being ill with Covid-19 has really hampered my hobby efforts this month.

Finish Painting The Blood Ravens I Own on 1st January – 43.58%

Only thing done this month was three Bikes and an Attack Bike, must do better next month.

This next month I hope to paint two units of Scouts, three Landspeeders and a unit of Intercessors.

Finish The Death Guard – 58.33%

No progress but I am ahead of schedule so I am cool with that. Next up at the Blightlord Terminators and a Tallyman.

Complete 2000 Points of Stormcast Eternals – 36.50%

I did a lot for this target this month, so far I have painted 730 points, although I may have to adjust this resolution so it’s a viable list I paint.

This month I painted, six Gryph-Hounds, 5 Vanguard-Hunters, 3 Vanguard Raptors, 6 Aetherwings, a Knight Questor and a Knight Incantor.

Other Resolutions

  • Complete 1750 Points of T’au
  • Complete 1750 Points of Orks
  • Rebase Blood Ravens
  • Rebase Orks

None of these have had any progress made, but the T’au are now appearing in my long term painting plan.

Just need to get the Orks in there too.

Rebasing can go ahead I just need to bring the Blood a Ravens downstairs to start it.

So let’s take a quick look at my painting plan right now.

  1. Death Korps of Krieg Grenadiers Special Weapons Men and Vox Operators x 10
  2. Blood Warriors x 5 & Korgus Khul
  3. Canoness Veridyan
  4. Untamed Beasts x 9
  5. Tech Priest Manipulus x 2
  6. Stormcast Eternals Celestar Balista x 2 & Lord Ordinator
  7. Blightlord Terminators x 5 & Tallyman
  8. Chaotic Beasts x 12
  9. Dreadblade Harrows x 2
  10. Blood Ravens Scouts x 10

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