Word Bearers Squad, pt.2

I’ve been agonising how to start this post of what is essentially a draft from mid-June, when I was working on my second squad of Word Bearers. They began as a run-of-the-mill Troops choice before turning into one of those squads that you can’t seem to make any headway with, no matter how many hours you spend on them.

They form a second squad of five, including a plasma-gunner and a champ with plasma pistol and power axe. I haven’t had a game with my Word Bearers as of yet so I’m not 100% sure just how viable this will be in the current edition, though I have run similar loadouts with my old Space Marines back in the day.

There’s not a great deal else to say about these guys. Painting CSM armour is good fun as there are tend to be many cool details such as faces appearing in the plate, fangs and claws running along the shoulder pads, or something as simple and varied as their ornate backpacks. In game terms I would run these guys to compliment my cultist horde, by having them jump in the Rhino and going after enemy armour with their plasma weaponry.

I’ll wrap it up there, but thanks for reading. Take care.

Lockdown Gaming, pt6: Vampyr

Playstation Plus put on an interesting free game this month in the form of Vampyr, an action-RPG game released back in 2018. This was a game that I had been interested in for a couple of years, unfortunately getting swept under the rug by whatever the hell I was playing back then. Now seemed like a time to right that wrong.

Set in London in 1918 during a brutal epidemic, the player controls the character of Dr Jonathan Reid who was been attacked by a vampire and left for dead. Springing back to life with undead vigour, Jonathan is flung into a difficult predicament, being a surgeon of some renown as well as a creature of the night with a thirst for blood.

There’s many mechanics at work in this game: part of Vampyr is a semi-open world which sees you speak to NPCs, take side jobs, trade and gain cash and experience; there’s also combat, where you fight fanatical vampire hunters and other beasties using Reid’s own vampiric powers, and another aspect of the game where you manage the health and well-being of the various districts and boroughs in a kind of ‘local doctor’ sim fashion. It all melds together into one game bizarrely well, and becomes extremely immersive once you get into your stride.

I enjoyed the combat the most, a mostly melee affair with some gunplay if you choose to use a revolver in your off-hand. In all, it flows in an almost Bloodborne/Assassin’s Creed-like manner, especially when using the lock-on feature. I found that once you start mixing your chose vampire abilities into the fights too, these scraps can take on a whole new form and really show what the game’s upgrade system has to offer.

Managing the health of the boroughs is done through healing NPCs of diseases that afflict them, such as sepsis, migraines, the cold etc, and also not harvesting them for their XP. The amount of XP carried by each NPC varies and can increase after you do some investigatory work by talking with them and other characters in their social circle. Choosing to ’embrace’ them nets you their blood XP which can be exchanged for vampiric upgrades, but weakens the overall health and stability of the district.

Killing NPCs may get you the blood XP but it also has negative effects on the district, such as seeing more patrols or beasties on the streets as a result. One merchant I encountered even stopped selling their wares out of depression, after their significant other was feasted on by some unscrupulous vampire that totally wasn’t me….

There are a couple of mildly annoying little niggles that bother me about Vampyr, however great it is on the surface. One of these is the stamina meter, which degrades when sprinting or dodging, but also with every swing of whatever weapon you have equipped. These are essentially “light” attacks you’re using, and to have these consume stamina seems very odd. I’m also at odds with myself for thinking this game should have a fast travel system too, as I have found myself exhaustively hoofing it across multiple boroughs to reach quest points or various characters, but I guess this is so you get to experience the surroundings that your decisions have helped to shape, both positive and negative.

On the whole, I found Vampyr to be a solid RPG with an addictive neighbourhood management sim at the heart of it. The setting and time period make it somewhat unique, and I found myself exploring every nook of the darkened London streets just soaking up the atmosphere. While it has some issues in combat and in performance in general, I’d easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good RPG game.

Dreadaxe Retro Gaming: Final Fantasy VI

I have a fondness for RPG games dating back to Pokemon Red, which was my first trip into this style of playing. Something about building a team and watching it go from strength-to-strength, acquiring new abilities and travelling to wonderful places made for a heavily addictive experience.

Playing Final Fantasy VII a year or so after its initial release, the game hit me like a ton of bricks for more of the same reasons and more. The story was incredible, and the score was like nothing that I had ever heard before, either in gaming or films. I was then lucky enough to get Final Fantasy VI when it came out on PS1 in the late 90s, but I was still fairly young and didn’t appreciate it as much.

I’ve had a strong interest in revisiting the series lately. One of my mates and I are always lamenting the fact that neither of us finished Final Fantasy VIII, and I also remain bitter with my younger self for losing interest in VI back then; thankfully they have been on Steam for a little while and in that time I have replayed VII and have made a sizeable dent in VIII earlier in the year. VI was on special recently and I figured it was time to right an old wrong.

The story revolves around a conflict between the Empire and a faction called the Returners, with the Empire trying to track down and utilise the power of magical beings known as espers. Magic itself seems to be something of a rarity in this time with only few characters having access to spells at the beginning. There is more of an emphasis on each character representing a specific class, as each of them has a unique skill; Edgar has an array of contraptions to use in battle, Locke can steal items from an enemy mid-battle, Celes can opt to absorb cast spells and restore MP, and so on.

You definitely get the feeling that the story is on a grand scale, as there is no one main character; instead the story is told through multiple protagonists who all have their own personalities and histories, and these really come through during the course of Final Fantasy VI. The game world itself is highly detailed and feels genuinely lived in, and Nobuo Uematsu’s score perfectly characterises these locations.

My favourite aspect has been the combat, making good use of each character and trying to suss out who my main party will be. The combat segments do feel very fast-paced and it’s easy to get caught up in trying to match the game’s speed, often resulting in wrong spells or abilities being selected (a critique of myself, not the game!) It has a lot of depth though, which keeps the characters feeling different and the battles more tactical.

(The flying is also lots of fun!)

Well, it’s been brilliant getting to revisit this game and understand why it is held in such high regard. I’m aiming to play more titles in the Final Fantasy series in the coming months, albeit in a random order. We’ll see how that goes!

Lockdown Gaming, pt5: Bioshock

Up until a little while ago I thought that Lockdown Gaming posts were done and dusted but here we are. Unfortunately we are now entering a different flavour of lockdown this time around, though one which is required all the same. I won’t go further into this topic as it is saturating the news and the Internet at this point in time, but the overall mood of this week has been a pretty lousy one and I started thinking about hitting the games again to lift my spirits.

The game I’ve been playing as my main just now has been Bioshock, or Bioshock Remastered (I guess? I don’t know, it’s part of the Collection, so I assume so?), and this marks the third time that I have seriously put the hours in with this game. The first time was with the original over 10 years ago and became fairly frustrated. I played again a few years back and enjoyed it enough to see it through. This time, I just wanted something creepy to play, and on this occasion everything just clicked.

While it doesn’t seem like I’m giving this classic its due, in the grand scheme it’s mainly just down to poor timing on my part. Bioshock was originally released in 2007 and passed me by at the time, being a title that I picked up years after and felt even then that it was somewhat dated. I’ve grown up (somehow) since then and can appreciate the masterful nature of the environment, the characters, and the story, which is delivered mostly (and masterfully) through audio logs.

The premise has been written and described numerous times, so I’ll be brief. Following your plane going down in the sea, you end up in the underwater city of Rapture, a sprawling cityscape torn apart by civil war and now populated with the remaining psychopathic inhabitants known as Splicers. Addicted to the substance ADAM, the Splicers are vicious and unpredictable, turning the elegant halls of Rapture into a bloody horror show. And that’s really all I’m going to divulge, though I will say that Bioshock builds the tension so well with every aspect of its design, especially from a voice acting and audio design standpoint. The environment is so chilling and tragic, the Art Deco beauty of the city being a distant memory as locations lie partially flooded, collapsed or smeared in blood.

One thing that I love about the series in general is the mix of gunplay and powers that you can weave into combat. The environmental effects are one of the game’s strong points and makes for some exciting conflicts, such as zapping enemies with a shock plasmid while they stand in water, or using an incinerate plasmid to melt ice around the level and thaw out a door. The ability to fine-tune your character through upgrades that offer various perks gives you the chance to make a build that is all your own too, and tweaking these throughout the story was rewarding and felt weighty.

If I had any gripes with the game it is mostly down to the ‘juggling’ you do with your weapons in one hand and plasmids in the other; Jack can only have one hand on-screen at any one time, making the player switch between them in combat. This makes sense because some of the guns are two-handed, like the machine gun and shotgun, but it feels like an odd design choice when you start playing.

Also, there are some irritating bugs present with the game’s difficulty dropping in secret for no reason; I played through on hard mode and figured that I was just getting stronger as I reached the last boss, only to find that the game had knocked itself down to medium. At the end of the day though, these issues were minor and didn’t sour the overall experience that I thought was a remarkably positive one.

That’s all for this post, anyway. If you have any thoughts on Bioshock or indeed the Bioshock Collection then feel free to let me know. Until then, stay safe and take care.

Word Bearers Possessed

“The difference between gods and daemons largely depends upon where one is standing at the time” – Lorgar Aurelian, Primarch of the Word Bearers, quoting Argel Tal.

In a previous post I said that I wanted to give my Word Bearers a bit of a melee boost, and as I didn’t have anything occupying the Elites slot apart from the Helbrute, I figured the best way to do so would be to look at choppy options.

The Possessed presented itself as the most obvious choice, as the Word Bearers love their daemons and summoning so much. The Possessed kit that GW sells is a few editions old though, and while the torsos and legs are fairly dinky, some of the limbs and heads I found to be next to unusable. To its credit, there are a lot of great bits on the sprues and I did end up buying one of the kits.

I made a rough note about what could be useful and what definitely wasn’t before building. As Possessed are meant to be marines with daemons rattling and stretching around inside their frame, I stuck with the armour segments that looked cracked or had mutations sprouting from them.

Some of the other bits I used here came from the old Chaos Space Marine squad upgrade sprue, while others were leftovers from my Chaos Spawn. Warp Talon heads were also very useful as they have a similar look to a few of the helmets of the Gal Vorbak, the Legion’s first daemon/marine fusions.

While I wasn’t massively concerned with maintaining that Word Bearers logo across them all (seeing as mutations render them all different anyway), I wanted to keep at least two marines with a normal-ish pad that could hold the Legion symbol. The rest went with whatever pads were compatible with their protruding limbs/claws/spikes.

With the Possessed squad now wrapped up, I can say that I’m pleased with the outcome. A kind of malaise set in towards the end of painting/beginning of decals and it took a push to get them completed. Not that I’ve been painting much in the last month anyway, but I was having some problems with differentiating between two mindsets; one being “yeah, let’s get these guys finished, woo!” and the other being “you have to get these guys finished”, and it was a bit demotivating.

I think I’m slowly getting past that now, thankfully. It might mean a week or two break away from the hobby to recharge in the mean time.

As always, thanks for reading and take care.

Word Bearers Master of Possession

So this post has been a long time coming! It has been a while since I last posted anything (not having anything ready to blog about), although I’ve tried to stay active as a reader on WP during this time. With lockdown restrictions lifting, there has been a lot of change and I’ve found myself getting caught under the treads, with the days hurtling by.

Most of this time has been spent reading; I’ve been reading everything from Asimov to Vonnegut, Ellison to PKD and so on… it’s been a breath of fresh air getting back into reading regularly again. I’ve also began writing again, however that is another post for another day.

I thought it was time to get cracking again, so I’ve been working on my Possessed crew. This includes an additional HQ for my Word Bearers in the form of a Master of Possession. And I’m going to state for the record that I dislike the MoP model from Shadowspear; I don’t know if it’s the pose or the ram helmet, something just doesn’t sit right. So, I opted for something slightly different.

I really liked the Sorcerer but thought that, in game terms, the MoP would be more beneficial to an army with Possessed, Obliterators and Spawn in its ranks, so I used the Sorcerer model as the base for my own MoP. I still adopted the horned skull for the staff, as this seemed a like an important badge of office for him; it was just one of the bigger skulls from the Citadel Skulls box.

The rest is straightforward. I switched out the double dragon backpack and gave him a mutated one from the Possessed kit, as well as added a familiar to his base, the little sprite from the Terminator Lord kit. I thought it looked pretty cool and needed to go somewhere.

His head choice was an agonising one. I liked the bareheaded idea but the notion of having a helmet gave him a more sinister feel, so he got one of the Warp Talon heads I had kicking about. This way, he shares a kind of Gal Vorbak-esque look with the Possessed ranks and ties in with them a bit more.

At this point I’m still making some headway with the Possessed squad, although they are very fiddly in the amount of details and extras that are covering/pushing their way through their armour. They are really fun to paint though, as was the MoP, and I’m definitely going to try to make more time for it again.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Word Bearers Terminator Lord (Jewel of July 2020 Community Painting Challenge)

I have just wrapped up work on my Terminator Lord, one of the brave heroes for my Word Bearers host who fits the bill for Azazel’s Jewel of July 2020 challenge.

As I may have said before, I’m not a huge fan of Terminators. The models used to bug me back when I was a pre-teen Black Templar player in 3rd edition, and although they became fairly awesome looking in later editions, I’ve never been keen to build a list around them. These days I still don’t feel like taking a squad of them, but if a warlord gets the chance to take a suit of Tactical Dreadnought Armour then colour me intrigued.

I built him from the Terminator Lord kit, which comes with loads of useful Chaotic gubbins; you can tell it’s from an older edition due to how many added customisation options you are left with after assembly. Plenty of extra goodies for the bitz box! His head is from a sergeant I found in my bitz box; it was a lighter plastic so possibly a Forge World head. I added some parchments to his armour and switched out the close combat weapon.

On the whole, I’m really happy with how he turned out, both building and painting. It’s an incredibly spiky, cluttered model and while I don’t have the time or inclination to part-assemble and paint my entire army in this way, doing so for the Terminator Lord really helped to sidestep a lot of issues that would have arisen. He’s also a very awkward model to get a shot of; even the pictures on the box make him look uncomfortable.

In terms of equipment, he has a combi-melta and a power maul. I don’t think it’s regarded as the the best close combat tool, although a Word Bearer character with a maul can upgrade to the Cursed Crozius, a Legion-specific relic that came to prominence in their lore when it was used to beat a White Scars Praetor to death. In game it allows the wielder to re-roll failed wound rolls when in combat with an Imperium unit.

There we have it, a second HQ unit for the Legion. When things begin to return to normal I would love to get a game in with this guy leading the masses, adding some punch to the cultist horde. Until then, take care.

WIPs for June

I’ve been interested in putting together some Possessed marines lately, as my Word Bearers could use a bit of a melee boost. The problem is that the Possessed kit badly needs an update, but GW have relapsed into Ultramarines again with the birth of the new edition.

I found maybe half of the Possessed kit to be usable at least, so mixed this with some current Chaos marines. I have a squad of 5 at the moment, but here’s a shot of the two I’ve painted the armour for, including a Greater Possessed:

The main area of focus has been trying to finish up the Terminator Lord and second squad of Word Bearers marines. I started with the champion and marine with plasma gun, aiming to get to get all the plasma done in one go. They are quite close to being finished overall, with just tiny details needing done. As for the Chaos Lord, he had to be worked on in chunks because of how awkwardly spiky the model is. I finished the back section of his armour along with his cape so he could be fully assembled at last!

In the coming week I hope to find the time to get these three brought up to speed and continue on their Possessed brethren. Painting tends to be relaxing and really enjoyable, it’s just getting started that’s the hard part. Hopefully we can return to some form of normality in the weeks and months to come.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re all staying safe.

Word Bearers Rhino (Sixty Day Miniatures of Magnitude May-June 2020 Challenge)

I’m not fully sure how long I’ve had this Rhino in my possession for; I seem to recall it being a present from my sister maybe a year ago. I also remember the assembly wasn’t as bad as Rhinos normally tend to be! With Ann’s Immaterium issuing the Miniatures of Magnitude Challenge, now was the time to get this tank brought up to speed.

When putting it together, I aimed to keep it in line with everything that I liked about the Chaos vehicles: the spiked top sections, the grumpy gunner, the variety of gruesome trophies, etc. With our foul missionaries in the Word Bearers spreading the truth wherever they go, it made sense to add some parchments and tomes to the body of the Rhino too. Trying to avoid spending money on gubbins, I raided my bitz box and came up with a daemonic book and a couple of Space Marine parchments that could be used (after filing off the Imperial Aquila).

As far as painting goes, I stuck with my normal routine of drybrushing the armour. It took a few goes around the tank to build up a decent deep red that fit in with the rest of the crew, but added to that tattered, ancient look that is shared across the army. Feeling brave, I attempted some weathering with a sponge along the bottom of the chassis as well.

Thanks for reading and catch you all next time.

Lockdown Gaming, pt4: Catherine: Full Body

These last few weeks have seen me resorting to gaming a lot in the evenings, as I’m finding it restorative in a way. After 12-hour days with the kids in lockdown, a few hours of video games tends to be the way to end the day, along with the usual bout of working on my Word Bearers.

I’ve been using this time to work through some of my backlog on the PS4 (though I’ve been bashing through a stack of games on Steam as well), but wanted to discuss a title that myself and one of my best friends found in a game shop by complete accident many years back. This was back when we shared a flat and would often pick up coop games to trawl through. We found the original Catherine and after reading the back of the box and seeing how insane it was, we bought it.

Catherine is a Japanese puzzle game with a bizarre story revolving around a guy who cheats on his girlfriend (Katherine) with this stranger he meets in a bar (also Catherine). During the night, he finds himself dragged into a nightmare where he must climb ever-disintegrating towers or die in the real world, a fate shared by many men in the story.

The premise is odd, granted. It was even stranger to find a game that we had never seen or heard of before, nestled amongst the standard fare of brown-filtered modern shooters. We were both mesmerised by it at the time, especially as it shifted from romance to horror and back again, complete with multiple different endings. I picked up Catherine: Full Body this year, which is a kind of rehash with some added story beats and a new character thrown into the mix.

So far, it’s as fantastic as the original was and it’s helped me to recapture that magic of playing it a few years back. It forever sticks in my head not just because it’s one of my favourite games but also because it’s one of those games that appeared out of the woodwork and forced you to take a chance on. For me, it sits alongside games like Deadly Premonition and Alan Wake as being a sleeper title that stuck around in my mind longer than I thought they would have.

That’s all for this instalment anyways. I hope you’re all well, and take care.