Fighting with little plastic men. The story of Warhammer:Fantasy Battles

New contributor and fellow Nerd Big K aka Kruno drops an article about the best table top fantasy war game of all time. Read more to find out more about this forgotten classic.

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It was the year 1998, the author of this text was in his late teens and admittedly a bigger geek then I am now if that is even humanly possible.

My friends and I had been playing D&D from the very beginnings and as a group we have been hardcore gamers, but D&D to us was a system that was just missing something, we could not quite put our finger on it, but as we understand it now we were missing gritty reality and logic.

While playing D&D at later levels, talking 12th and up, any character could basically walk into a village, kill every single person there and leave without so much as scratch on them! So things like that happened a few times in our playgroup before we disbanded until we could find a punishing enough system that would prevent stuff like that from even the most advanced level players.

We explored and read a lot and my friend and I found an article on (god damn I feel so old for remembering) Alta Vista(for those of you who don’t know what it is, its basically something like Google but way more primitive) about Warhammer: Fantasy Battles. It was a game of heroes and armies clashing on the field of battle, where 2+ players each commanded their own little or big army as we would later discover and beat each other senseless for bragging rights and a pint of beer, or if you played seriously on the tournament scene you could win some nice expensive Warhammer figurines and accessories like paint stations and professional style airbrushes.

In August 1998 the very first box of Warhammer: Fantasy Battles 5th edition arrived in Split, Croatia and my entire crew gathered to see what was in the beautifully painted box which sported a knight in full plate armor on a warhorse charging some sort of lizard like creature.

The suspense was crazy and we were all giggling like schoolgirls, and then we opened the box, it was full of unpainted and un-assembled models of knights, archers, lizardfolk, and sported 2 phenomenal looking heroes/champions for each army.

It also contained a phenomenal rule-book with loads of rules for almost any situation that could occur during the game itself and incredible Gothic looking artwork which we all fell in love with at first sight.

While some people felt underwhelmed and a bit disappointed, most of us including me saw huge potential in Warhammer. I saw endless possibilities for customization and making your own unique army and heroes, which could possibly be used in other gaming systems not just in Warhammer.

Now that we had the actual game it was but the the beginning of the love that would mark the next 20 or so years of my life.

We would all now have to chose an army to represent us best on the battlefield, it would define the way you build your army,  the way you play and what were the strengths and weaknesses of your particular army.

As a group we all picked what we felt most comfortable with.

The Vampire Counts with their incredible necromantic magic that could make entire units of skeletons appear on the battlefield.

The High Elves with their fast moving infantry and cavalry paired with their Mages that could wreak havoc on enemies.

The Empire ,a human faction with  heavily armored knights and heavy artillery like cannons and mortars to back them up and mostly used infantry as cannon fodder and something to be sacrificed to achieve victory at any cost.

The Dark Elves and their specialist units which were lightning quick while their heroes were ferocious in up close melee combat.

The Wood Elves as absolute kings of shooting with their longbows which had extra range and extra power, and the best scout units in the game.

 The Brettonians as a human faction which could be best described as feudal french knights mixed with crusaders and peasants as backup units which provided numbers while their fantastic cavalry did heavy hitting.

The Skaven a race of mutant ratfolk which use unstable magics and fight in huge numbers while supported with a form of close combat magics and semi/mechanical shooting which were hugely unreliable but when they did work  it proved absolutely devastating for the enemy.

The Warriors of Chaos a semi human demon faction wielding insanely powerful magic, which were the ultimate bad guys in the Warhammer world.

The Dwarfs a  reliable army of heavy armored infantry that could withstand almost any charge and strike back with good measure, backed up with some of the most devastating shooting units in the game and very decent protective magic.

And the last but certainly not least, my own favorite faction

The Orcs and Goblins   purely for practical reasons cause nobody else wanted them, I took them as my favorite and never regretted it for a millisecond.

It was an army of monsters, giants, trolls, goblins and orcs which lived in a mostly nomadic tribes and while they had huge numbers they were primitive and their magic was unreliable. When it did hit  it was absolutely devastating and while orcs were huge lumbering brutes that relied on pure strength, goblins were sneaky and devious so with those 2 combined were for me a match made in heaven.

 

And so we all began collecting and painting our armies, gathering for gaming and painting sessions that would last for entire weekends, I personally remember a couple where my folks asked me „Have you guys eaten anything in the last 2 days?“ we would paint and play for hours, the game was to us so immersive and so gritty and real that we had people including me (actually, especially me) have nerd rages for rolling bad and having our heroes killed by sheer bad luck. To most of us it was the best representation of tabletop conflict we have ever seen, and we loved every second of it, because even if you lost, there was a sense of dramatic achievements when you told how your mage wiped out an entire enemy unit when his spell failed (yes it was actually quite possible for a spell to fail and do devastating damage to both friends and foes alike).

We loved the unforgiving nature of the game which made you think of it like chess but with six sided dice included, mistakes on the battlefield were severely punished and your units could quite easily be wiped out by much inferior opponents just because you left your flank or rear open and vulnerable to attack. It was unlike anything we ever played before, in D&D you could resurrect your fallen comrade, in Warhmmer if a Lord/Hero/Mage died it was a huge deal and most armies suffered greatly with a loss of such a huge point investment and lack of leadership.

Warhammer as a game itself has many extensive rules, most of which I will not mention in this text, cause I’m writing an article not a 450 page book, but I do need to mention the game has complex character stats and quite a few of them for each model/character and the better your stats the more points the model costs and each game is played with an agreed number of points, for tournaments it was considered that 2000 point games were most balanced but most playgroups played anything from 500 point skirmishes to 5000 grand battles.

The game itself developed and my group played all editions of the game, however instead of making progress, it is my firm opinion that the game was at its peak during 6th edition which was the most balanced and started deteriorating from there, instead of fixing the minor issues of the game Games Workshop made 7th edition which was somewhat an improved version of the 7th but it reduced and gimped a lot of armies because it reduced the number of race specific magical items doing away with the uniqueness of armies,instead of listening to their player base Games Workshop messed up big time, we thought OK, we can adapt its not 6th but its still playable.

After 7th edition was released followed by the semi disastrous and final installment of Warhammer: Fantasy Battles the 8th edition, while it added some great stuff, like advantage for fighting in large units the so called horde units, it absolutely killed cavalry and mobility and made all armies a copy paste of each other which huge infantry units charging frontally into each other. It seemed to us older players that the game was so stupidly simplified that even preschool children could play it, and we were pretty pissed off.  The number of race specific magical items was almost nonexistent, everything was  incredibly streamlined and we were all disappointed and incredibly angry to the point that some people actually quit playing all together after reading the rulebook.

It was a sad time, we were friends who shared an interest but this tore our group apart, nobody wanted to play with these stupidly simplified rule set, we felt like the huge effort and not to mention a really large money investment was taken from us because developers were morons who did not listen to their player base! Games Workshop wanted to make more money but they failed to realize that you can’t make such drastic changes without alienating and antagonizing longtime customers and supporters of you previous iterations.

It felt like they cheated us old players in favor of new kids and we were pissed off, I believe we had every right to be.

Warhammer: Fantasy Battles no longer exists as a game system, it is replaced by a stupidly simplified game called Age of Sigmar, which while undoubtedly fun to play has no where near the complexity of the game I loved to play which has reduced the number off stats and characters become 1 man armies that decide combat results, while in previous editions it was all about the positioning of your units making the right charge at the right time. Now it is all about who has a bigger sword on a bigger lord class character which is too simple, non complex and for this reason is NOT in the true spirit of Warhammer!!!

It makes me sad and happy at the same time that a group of enthusiasts made an unofficial Warhammer game called the 9th Age but, its not officially endorsed by Games Workshop unfortunately.

This was my experience with Warhammer: Fantasy Battles a game that has given me great joy and a lot of fun memories. It made me a lot of friends and it saddens me that it no longer exists as something I loved to play but as something completely different, that greed and corporate money grabbing destroyed what was once of the greatest tabletop war game of all time.

 

I hope you enjoyed my debut article for Nerd Dimension and look forward to reading you feedback in the comments. Remember to rate, comment and subscribe to our Facebook page and Podcast to stay in the loop as we upload new content.

Nerd Dimension TOS Ep 2 with guest David

They return !

The nerds return with another throwback installment in which we tackle many issues and of course go overboard with our sound effects and trolling. Apart from giving listeners our opinions on the listed below we through in our specific brand of humor as to offend only the most sensitive of listeners. We try to not make time sensitive content so that you will never feel like you are keeping up with a trend or listening to another pod-casting reviewing the newest products. By not having sponsors we have the liberty of talking about what we want, the way we want and pick and chose topics we feel may not have been discussed enough or from our position. In between day jobs, shows and other day to day BS we have to deal with we gotta vent somewhere about the shit we love so enjoy as we talk about:

– D&D Shadow Plague (Comic Review)
– Fairy Tale Fights Review (Xbox 360)
– Shadows  Over Camelot (Board Game Review)
– Book Recommendations
–  Apollo still hating on flat chested actresses portraying Wonder Woman !

And of course over the top sound effects !!!

 

 

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Spawn – The Anti Hero we all love

Find out more about your favorite anti hero, how he was created and how big he was for comics.

Some history…

Growing up  in the 90s and 00s I was lucky enough to have spent my young and formative years with my head in a comic and good hip hop in my Walkman (a portable music playing device for playing cassette tapes). The 90s to me will always be larger than life production, gritty writing and an age of wonder to me. I mean consoles, arcades, new comics, tv shows and blockbuster action movies were coming out non stop. So before we get into one of the greatest anti hero’s of all time allow me to set things up.

In 1992 Batman: The Animated series was on the air which would later be the dubbed the best animated series of all time. Sega & Nintendo buttons were being mashed and Activision’s original company Mediagenic filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is the time in the aftermath of Frank Miller‘s legendary ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ and Alan Moore’s masterpieces ‘The Watchmen‘ and ‘V for Vendetta‘ meaning comics witnessed a shift into more adult content with darker stories, sex and just grittier settings. Also remember that readers saw Superman die in 1993 and Venom get his own comic (interesting seeing as he was designed by Todd MacFarlane).  I say this so that a reader can attempt to envision the time and feel of that era that would later be dubbed The Dark Age or Iron Age of comics.

Todd MacFarlane and Image Comics

image-comics-logo
Image comics logo

Todd MacFarlane earned recognition first for his work on Marvel’s  ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ comic staying through the 80s for 28 issues and illustrated the first full appearances of the super villain ‘Venom’ as Edie Brock. The Canadian cartoonist and artist did not come out of nowhere, himself siting that he sent out more than 700 submissions in pinup size with next to no reaction from the publishers, mostly rejections. When he did get put on by the giant publisher he became a superstar in the world of comics. He would eventually part ways with Marvel due to their ‘work for hire’ policies towards their artists, in short they never got  percentages of sales or retained any Intellectual Property for the duration. Todd would join forces with other disenfranchised artists from the big publishers including: Jim Lee (X-men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine) Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) to name a few and veteran writer Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-men).  This group would reduce Marvel’s share price by $3.25 per share and they never turned back. Todd would mention in his own comics that he believed that artists deserved to be treated with respect by the publishers who made millions off their talent and not feel ripped off when a business relationship ended. Together Image comics would publish some of the best titles in comics including : Spawn, Witchblade, The Walking Dead and Saga. Image comics not only put out good product by renown artists but took a stand against corporations, their charter best says it:

  1. Image would not own any creators work; the creator retained it
  2. No partner interference either financially and creatively.

Enough said.

Spawn & Batman
Image Comics Todd MacFarlane

The birth of Spawn

After a life of full of murder, betrayal, pain and espionage serving his country he would get promoted to top assassin for the C.I.A. after saving the life of the president. Al is then murdered, by whom he knows not so during his journey through the inferno that is hell he makes one last plea, screams and begs for a chance to see his wife Wanda again. Needless to say making deals with demons never bodes well for the one signing on the line so Al returns to Earth, face looking like a badly burned burger drowned in scabs…yuck would be an understatement. Al is in a new body as his mind is tormented by flashbacks and memories of his great love. While trying to put all the pieces together he decides to crash in the alleys while becoming the protector of the homeless in the Bowery, a run down hood in New York. Gradually he learns he got stiffed in his deal returning 5 years after his death, his best friend knocked up his widow and he was celebrated a hero…I know, and believe me it get’s worse. I am trying to not spoil of the story or giveaway too much but I can say that every panel is worth the paper it’s printed on. Spawn means a lot to me because it challenged me as a young reader, opened my mind to new horizons concerning creativity and imagination. I mean hot angels waging war with demonic lords with New York City as the backdrop most of the time. Spawn fights Predators, Xenomorphs to Gotham’s caped crusader himself. Even the supporting cast are written well as you begin to empathize and relate to certain characters. Spawn is an ever evolving character and his universe is by far one of the most sinister in comics. Be sure to check out the first couple of issues and below I will include a link for you lazy cats out there who would rather watch the show. The movie was meh, but the HBO is a lot better and will give you a limited yet good idea of what to expect from the literature.

We encourage all our readers to supports publisher, designers and authors by at least checking out their sites if not through purchases.

 

MacFarlane

Image Comics

Goosebumps 2015 The Movie (Review and write up) R.L Stine starring Jack Black

Jack Black & R.L. Stine come together to leave you feeling like a kid again. Find out what we think of this soon to be classic.

While searching for something to watch this week I stumbled upon ‘Goosebumps‘ the movie and remembered reading about it before it went to theaters and could not believe I had missed it! I was genuinely surprised that I didn’t catch word of it or even see the trailer plugged on television. Having grown up reading the books then reading that Jack Black was starring in it I immediately made the call to watch it.

Today my car broke down first thing, effectively leaving me stranded at my folks place and the weather was horrendous leaving me with an opportunity to kick back in the room and watch the movie with no interruptions. I played the trailer to my brother who would be watching with me and he too said he was stunned that he had heard nothing about it until today.

Goosebumps

 

The story goes…  Zach (Dylan Minnette) comes to small town Madison Delaware where his mom is the new vice principal of his high school and just happens to move in next door to the legendary author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and takes a romantic interest in his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) as they team up to battle against the characters from his books who have been let loose in suburbia.

If you ever read any of his work then the idea of mashing up all of his fiendish creatures into one movie is pretty stellar. Man Eating Plants to evil little garden gnomes, some of your favorite monsters make appearances and Jack Black playing R.L. seemed like movie gold to me. Well, until I heard Rob Letterman was behind the camera (Shark Tale & Gulliver’s Travels) I did got a little skeptic, after all Goosebumps were not really happy go lucky tales of joy from summer camp and a PG rating could prove fatal when you set high hopes for childhood classics. The budget was $50 Mil and it grossed north of $80 Mil  which is not too bad considering that the marketing was not that big but I would expect more for an author who is one of the best of our time. Yes, when a writer sells 400 Mil copies you have to tip your hat to him, especially if you ever read a copy for yourself.

Columbia Pictures produced a good movie which could be enjoyed by families and an adult audience with clever humor mixed in with great special effects. Rob throws you into it within the first seven minutes and the party does not stop, slow down or disappoint all the way to the end. This is a must watch for all Goosebumps fan if for not for the fun factor but for the nostalgia it awakens, watching them come to life was something take in. The shots are good, the tempo fast but not too fast and the writing is better than some of the ‘serious’ horror releases of late. I felt that it lost steam  in some places but that is my only qualm with the movie. I must thank Jack Black for doing a great job with this role and bringing his A game. I recommend it all the way and am hoping that Columbia decide to make another Goosebumps picture or perhaps a TV-Show in the years to come.

8 out of 10

  • Too Short
  • Steam is lost at some points which could have been easily avoided

 

Some of his works I would recommend for reading :

The Haunted Mask

Why I’m Afraid of Bees

Attack of the Mutant

Bottom Line : WATCH IT ! 

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You can find out more about the legend at his website : www.rlstine.com