Friday, 28 May 2010

Getting on my Soapbox - Competitive & Non-Competitive Play

I think it’s time I got this off my chest as it’s a subject which I keep reading about online, and there are some opinions which really “grind my gears”, they’re entitled to those opinions of course – but I think they’re wrong so it's time to get on my soap box.

Our hobby is a diverse one and plenty of people have different reasons for taking it up, let’s just quickly look at what I’d call the three cornerstone aspects.


I think it’s fair to say this is the largest factor for which many of us are in the hobby. Whether you play all out to win in tournament style competitive play or just want to play with some mates and have a laugh with a few drinks and pizza it's why we're here. Though I should highlight the two are not mutually exclusive, please keep that in mind.

Modelling, Painting & Collecting

Given it’s a game of toy soldiers (gasp) the other major aspect is the figures themselves, it’s quite perfectly acceptable to spend as little time as possible on your army (though some of us would say ‘why’ when your prepared to spend hard earned money on it), but it’s also perfectly acceptable to lavish time on it, to convert every single model and to paint them to the best of your ability – I think everyone can appreciate a good looking army on the tabletop even if they don’t wish to spend the time to do it themselves. Though of course alot of people are more in the middle of these two 'extremes'.

Background and Story Telling

This is another important part of the hobby that is often and easily overlooked, and without it you might as well be playing chess! Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to write a novel to explain everything in your army, 40k has a deliberately large universe which allows us to explain just about anything IF we want (and yet again of course you don’t have too). However for some parts of our community it’s an important aspect, one which can mesh with the collecting, modelling and painting of an army as a player finds a certain theme they like which is to them really cool, it can also mesh with gaming when it comes to special scenario's or campaigns.

So what’s the problem? The fact is that certain parts of the community feel that the game should be played for a single aspect and that anyone who differs should be looked down upon as ‘a poor sportsman’, ‘a scrub’, ‘beardy/cheesey’ or derogatively as a ‘fluffy player’. You may feel one aspect is best, that anything else is stupid, but what right have you got exactly to judge somebody else? None! Play as you wish, but you have no right to criticise someone for the style of play they choose.

Though I would add cheaters, (actual) bad sportsmanship etc is a different matter, and is a group who should be shunned by all.

Competitive Play

Aspects of competitive play are often looked down upon from some quarters, for example, building an army which excels at one particular function at the expense of everything else, the use of particular powerful units or combinations of such units which may or may take particular advantage of the rules (e.g. the often despised Nob Bikers with every model slightly different for wound allocation) and to a certain extent pushing the boundary of the rules as written (RAW) beyond what may be thought of as acceptable as far as possible to squeeze out an advantage.

Now if you can’t stomach that sort of play for one thing you ought to tournaments because they are normally all about this sort of play, if you do go along and dislike the experience keep in mind it was your choice, don’t moan about it.

However the fact is this is a game, and you are playing against an opponent to win. Even if you don't consider yourself a competitive player, YOU ARE, it may just be you just place a greater weighting on the non-competitive aspect as well.

Non-Competitive Play

Now apparently some competitive players can’t understand why someone would not play their ‘A Game’ all the time, or would handicap themselves with what in their terms are poor unit choices or utterly rubbish armies as a whole. It’s certainly true that some people do take ‘poor’ choices mistakenly believing them to be awesome, but there good reasons which are more personal.

The most typical I suppose is my usual reason, simply because I like the models and/or it fits the theme of my army (matching the other two cornerstones of the hobby). I’ll take the example of my FW Malcador Defender, in game terms it’s frankly pretty awful, it fulfils much the same roll as a Demolisher with fractionally increased firepower but it's slower, has weaker armour, is far more expensive and carries the possibility of taking half your army along with it when it blows up (which it will), I got into a debate a few months ago with someone unable to comprehend why I would take it, the answer is simple I think it’s a lovely model. I love concept behind it, it fits in perfectly with the look and feel of my army and lastly I didn’t buy it as an expensive paper weight, it may not add anything to how well the army works, in fact it detracts from it, but it LOOKS GREAT!

That whole concept can certainly be extend to single units, multiple units or whole armies however the owner should beware complaining about them, remember at the end of the day it is your choice to take them and nobody forced you, save that for discussion about how bad the game designers get it sometimes!

Another reason which is fairly typical is simply a player does'nt have the models he or she would need to build a competitive list, forgiveable surely?

A final possibility is that someone is literally challenging themselves, a competitive player who is taking a non-competitive list because using optimised list is kind of like taking candy from a baby. Okay, perhaps not the best comparison but it gives you the idea, after all to win with something which is admittedly terrible takes either a lot of luck or someone who really knows what they’re doing. I’m not one of those people, but I know a few who are.

Myself, I fall in between these groups, I'll always include units I like even if they're not great, but I will also include elements which are more useful - even when they don't fit right in with the army, I don't think in that respect I'm untypial.

In closing, because this has become a bit of a rant, don’t become like THIS. Here if I read this right we have Stelek a clearly Competitive player who has played someone who clearly is'nt for whatever his reasons may be, the result is one playing is moaning about Stelek and Stelek in turn is moaning about him, I doubt either of them would particularly want to repeat the game.

Such unhappy situations are EASILY avoided, use your head and talk to your opponent, make sure you find out exactly what your opponent wants out of the game first, if that doesn’t match what you want out of the game don’t play it whether it's because your opponent is too competitive, because you don't think they're competitive enough or whatever other reason, just find another opponent. This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby where both players have fun, if your not gonna have fun playing a particular game then you have to ask what’s the point?

P.S - Oh yes, if you don't ask what your letting yourself in for don't moan about it, don't say what if, don't blame the dice, (and especially don't if you did know what you were letting yourself in for), we do all do it from time to time, but without actual good reason that is a very good example of bad sportsmanship. Even if it's true! ;)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Commission - Praetorian Ogryn Squad (Part 17)

That's it, the Bonehead has his Chainsword and the final Ogryn his hand, though it was sculpted in the end.

And with that the Praetorian Ogryn Squad are complete, it's been a hell of a project, it's taken far longer then I could of imagined but the results are such that I'm really rather pleased with them. I think they're characterful, and fit the theme of a Praetorian unit, but one which is a wee bit on the rough side! I'll actually be quite sad to see them go and it's very tempting to want to get on and create such a unit for my own army - maybe sometime soon, it's not like I hav'nt got enough to get on with already!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

And the Winner is... GIVEAWAY - Your Taking the Pith (Part 2)

And the winner of the Ramshakle Games Pith Helmets with Gas Masks is poster number 16...


skywatcher said...

Count me in. Great casts.

21 May 2010 17:42


I've dropped you an email, as soon as I've got an address for you I'll get them in the post!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Reminder - GIVEAWAY - Your Taking the Pith (Part 2)

Sorry for the lack of updates, it reflects how much I've got done in the past week or so, work has been... interesting!

Hence just a quick reminder that following on from my review of Ramshackle Games Pith Helmets with Gas Masks, I'm running a giveaway of a sample of 12 if these 28mm resin heads ideal for Praetorians in the grim darkness of the 41st Millenium or perhaps for your steam punk colonial Infantry?

To enter all you need to do is leave a post in the post HERE and be a follower of the blog.

The winner will be drawn TOMMORROW at 18:00 GMT leaving you little over 24 hours as I post this!

Monday, 10 May 2010

GIVEAWAY - Your Taking the Pith (Part 2)

Following on from my review of Ramshackle Games Pith Hemlets with Gas Mask's, I'm very pleased to be able to offer up a sample of the Ramshackle Games heads in another giveaway.

In 'Your Taking the Pith (Part 2)!' up for grabs is a set of 12 of these excellent heads as shown below.

If you'd like to get your hands on these you'll need to be a Follower of the blog, using the widgit which can be found towards the bottom of the right hand column and to leave a comment in this post, from those left one will be chosen at random by

The winner will be picked on Saturday 22nd of May at 18:00 GMT leaving you just under two weeks, but why wait?

Once again, good luck!

Product Review - 28mm Pith Helmets with Gas Masks by Ramshackle Games

Ramshackle Games, based in Nottingham in the UK released a set of Resin 28mm Pith Helmets with Gas Mask's some time ago, I was fortunate enough that I recieved a sample of the heads which is what I'm basing this product review on.

The heads are supplied in random sets of 10, on first inspection they are slightly shiny which indicates as with ALL resin models it's a good idea to give them a clean with a mild detergant to remove any remanent of the release agent.

The heads themselves vary in design with some fairly simple and others more complex, the detail is quite fine, though not I would say on a par with Forgeworld, though at £3.00 a set your certainly not paying Forgeworld prices. They do suffer from some small air bubbles, most of the heads in my sample would require a little filling with your chosen putty, this is easily done however and they are not micro air bubbles so it's not too fidley to do and the overal surface quality is good. Also there is very little if any flash on any of the heads, and I really can't pick out any obvious mold lines, definately can't complain about that!

Enough of my observations and onto using them.

I guess the most obvious place to use them is of course on something like the Cadian plastics, I've made up three models below, one (a Sergeant) uses one of my own resin torso's, another a standard armoured cadian and one a tank torso. Some work is needed to fit them to each of these torso's, obviously they wer'nt designed with such a use specifically in mind and to get the best out of them will require a little sculpting to give you a collar and or fit them to the neck joint properly. It also has to be said that they are closer to true scale 28mm rather then the larger heroic scale that GW currently uses, that boils down to the heads being a little smaller then would be ideal, though not so small that they look silly, this I think thanks to the gas masks bulking them out.

A quick, and I do mean quick, paint job later and you get more of the final effect, which overal I think is good, especially when compaired to a stock GW Praetorian Guardsman.

After all said and done I only have two minor gripes with them.

Firstly is the size as I talked about earlier, they're not an ideal fit for current GW models, I'm left thinking they may infact work better for converting Mordians to Praetorians as the different between these is smaller or even just adding variety to regular Praetorian models. That said I've a suspicion they could also work really well on Forgeworlds Death Korps of Krieg models, it's an expensive thought, but the gas masks would definately work well with the greatcoats for Praetorians fighting over no mans land.

My second gripe is the variation, I quite like my armies uniform when it comes to equipment, and these Gas Mask's don't do that brilliants as there are several different designs, I'd have preferred a single one I think, though it would be quite possible to kit out individual squads with single one I suppose if buying in bulk, that is a personal preference of mine though.

I'd have to conclude overal that I'd definately rate them as a solid, if not excellent, way of raising a 40k Praetorian IG force - or indeed Steampunk 'Colonial' forces. The sculpts & cast's are are good, the price is excellent and the contact I've had personally with Ramshackle has been spot on, can't say I've heard any complaints from anyone regarding this company.

Ramshakles Pith Helmets with Gas Mask's are available from their online store at the below address.

Ramshackle Games

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Objective Markers

We all use objective markers, often little purpose made objective markers from companies including GW, or coins, pieces of paper, spare models and even paint pots, but really theres very little excuse for not (eventually) having some that you've modelled, it might be an ammo dump, a banner, some loot, it could be just about anything really but it adds something extra to games!

Until now I've always dug into my wallet for a few coins but no longer, I've finally got around to painting up a few of the Praetorian Casulaty models and then basing them up on some of the bases which previously held my Heavy Weapons conversion before the models were rebased onto 60mm bases for the latest codex.

Thats better!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Commission - Praetorian Ogryn Squad (Part 16)

What will probably be the penultimate post on the Praetorian Ogryn Squad has finally arrived, 8 of the Ogryns are now to all intents and purposes finished as far as I'm going with them, weapons have been added, gaps filled, and only two now remain.

The Boneheads Chainsword needs to be finished and attached, it's built from two Ork Chainswords combined, however before I add a grip I need to pin it into his fist to ensure it stays in place.

The final regular Ogryn meanwhile is in need of a hand, unfortunately I've run out, but I'm hoping to acquire one from a club mate this week which will allow me to finish this model also with a few minor bits of sculpting left to do.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Plague Marines (Part 3)

With a bit of time over this bank holiday weekend I'm at the paints as well as the greenstuff, as a result, and after a bit of an absense the Plague Marines have seen a bit of progress with the final three bodies of the first squad finished. Unfortunately I can't go any further as I don't have my pin vice to hand at the moment to drill out the bolters, so they'll go back to the waiting pile now until later in the week.

Commission - Praetorian Officers & Sergeants (Part 3)

With a little more work I've finished the four Praetorian 'Character' models, top left has gained a Laspistol and a outstretched pointing arm, top right has had his cloak finished and gained a Laspistol in his exposed hand. Bottom left meanwhile has had a little tidying done and the bottom right has recieved a little more detailing including a small aquilla on the Power Fist.

Job's a good un!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

And the Winner is... GIVEAWAY - Your Taking the Pith (Part 1)

And the winner of the 28mm Pith Helmet set is poster number 11...


Jason said...

I have heard of May Day baskets, but May Day piths?! ;) Keep up the good work as always!
21 April 2010 17:53


I've dropped you an email, as soon as I've got an address for you I'll get them in the post!

Another Giveaway will follow during this month - with more Pith related goodness up for grabs, keep your eyes open!

Event Report - Exeter Legionary 2010

Freshly returned from and very satisfied with the results of the Legionary 2010 event, a one day, 3 game 40k tournament played at 1000pts. I used my Imperial Guard Army List B, a not exactly competative gun line list I think you'd agree and reasonably balanced with just a couple of toys, though I would add if anything terrain is a little sparse which does help armies like mine out a bit more then usual, terrain is maybe 20% but only one or two bits which really completely block LoS on each table.

Game 1 - Dawn of War, Annilation

Game 1 saw me up against a regular opponent from my local club, the Exeter Inquisition (apparently we're now known as the Militan Wing of the Exeter Gaming Clubs! Hmmm!), he was fielding a pair of Valkyries with Hevay Bolters and Missile Pods and a Vendetta, in them were mounted three Carapace Armoured Veteran Squads, two with Plasma Guns, one with Meltaguns (and some with Demolitions so Demo Charges though this did'nt come into our game) as well as a Primaris Pysker.

I deployed a blob unit of all four infantry squads in cover, reasoning that even with the Valks firing at them they'd be able to last two or three turns at least protecting the two Lascannon Infantry Squads and their Plasma Guns, they were supported by the Command Squads and the AT Squad moving on in turn one, unfortunately my reserves arrived before his leaving the Roughriders with very little to do other then trying not to get shot and the Valkyrie being exposed to his Vendetta. His reserves arrived all at once in exactly the right places, the Valks on my flank and the Vendetta on the other which promptly downed by Valk, his other shooting this turn was poor however as he failed to even cause a check on my blob unit. My own return fire was also poor however merely shaking and knocking a weapon off one Valkyrie despite successful orders.

He now switched tact, targetting my smaller more vulnable units and ignoring the blob, the Veterans went down as did the Roughriders as he positioned himself to disgore his infantry at the appropriate moment, my return fire did down the Vendetta and again shook a Valkyrie but nothing else. Aiming at my Command and Heavy Weapons Squads but failing to do too much damage, in return I downed a Valk, though his squad was in a good position behind ruins as a result, in the following turn his Melta Veterans pounched on and destroyed the Demolisher while one of the Command Squads and the Heavy Weapons Squad were wiped out - at which point the game ended a Crushing Victory for him with 6KPs to my 2KPs, exposing the weakness of my small units when I simply could'nt expose his.

Game 2 - Pitched Battle, Objectives (3 evenly spaced across the board)

I was paired off against one of the Cross Swords contingent for my second game, her Space Marine list featured two ten man Tactical squads, one in a Rhino, a Captain and 9 Sternguard also in a Rhino and a Venerable Dreadnought. I deployed around my objective on the left flank with a couple of squads in the center as a guard, she placed the foot slogging marine squad on her objective, the Sternguard poised to push across the center and the Dread and other mounted tactical squad on my left to have a go at my deployment. Turn one saw me popping the Rhino's and then targetting the Tactical Squad which was cut down to below half strength, they punished the Veterans hard and shook the Valkyrie (where I was lucky as it was a twin-linked Lascannon targetting it), however in the following turn they were wiped out bar one Marine running off the board (I remained within 6" until I was free to pop him with Meltaguns), the Valkyrie was then destroyed and an Infantry Squad fell victim to the advancing Sternguard.

However I was now free to turn the Lascannons on the Dread which I did destroying it (I was asked to re-roll an immoblished result with it being Venerable, which turned up a wreck, though I agree with the decision as it had already lost it's Lascannon) and then the rest of the army on the Sternguard who started to reduce rapidly in number, the Roughriders then assaulted killing one but holding in combat only to be finished off in her turn - I responded killing the last two with the AT Squad and an Infantry Squad as the rest moved and ran towards the central objective comfortably holding it with three units on turn 5. She then opted to try an dislodge me with her remaining Tactical Squad advancing towards it, I think it would have been better to hold her ground and go to groun to hold her objective, but as it was the game ended on turn 6 with her in dead ground with 6 tactical marines left facing off against a fairly intact army giving me a Crushing Victory (17pts to 3pts).

Game 3 - Pitched Battle, Single Central Objective

The final game was against a rather nice Space Wolf army, it featured three units of Grey Hunters with Wolf Guard, a Runepriest, Longfangs and a Dreadnought in a Drop Pod. We basicly deployed in opposite corners with me in the right and him in the left with the woods which were the objective in the center, my first turn was ineffective and his looked potentially like a game winner as his Dreadnought deepstruck into the middle of my lines with Heavy Flamers, however critically it failed to do too much damage with no sqauds destroyed or running, I was lucky enough to quickly pop it in return and added one of the Rhino's into the bargin as well as felling a couple of the Marines with the newly arrived Valkyrie - which unfortunately arrived right in front of the Longfangs

His following turn saw him pushing forward, picking off a couple of squads and blowing the Valkyrie away, one Rhino was now on the edge of the woods with the dismounted squad alongside it, I popped the remaining Rhino with the Demolisher and started thinning out the previously dismounted unit.

In my turn the I did very little to the Grey Hunters, however importantly the bigger remaining unit was forced to go to ground to preserve them by a bang on shot from the Demolisher, in return his Long Fangs knocked off the Demolishers main gun and a squad was assaulted and broken by the remaining Grey Hunters of the smaller unit. These were then counter assault by my Roughriders and swept away, while concentrated firepower almost wiped out the remaining Grey Hunters in the woods. His following turn achieved little, though he did move his remaining Foot slogging unit up towards the woods - no idea why he had'nt as soon as the Veterans were dealt with really. I pushed forward with everything, litterally, towards the objective gaining it with a couple of units with the rest within 6" at which point the game ended leaving me with the objective and him only able to contest at 6-12" giving me a second Crushing Victory.

The two wins combined with the Painting and Sportsmanship averages left me in 5th place overal (which I'm really rather chuffed about) and I was very happy to recieve the award for Best Painted Army at the event (40k and WFB combined), despite a few early misgivings it was a really great day, though sadly it sounds like it may not be repeated next year.

Even better from a club point of view Exeter Inquisition gained 1st for WFB, and 1st, 2nd & 3rd for 40k, not bad, not bad at all!

Hobby Fund (1st May)

A good month for the hobby fund, plenty of sales and income from the Praetorian Ogryns which are on the verge of being finished - two models remain with work to be done now, update soon. More importantly no out goings though, so the hobby fund is nice and full, sadly thats all going on repayment on the Reaver Titan which will bring me down to just over £50.00 'in the red' for the fund as this month gets going, fingers crossed that'll be cleared this month!

  • Starting Balance 1st May = £12.85

  • Sales in April = £89.00

  • Sales Fee's in April = -£3.82

  • Purchases in April = £0.00

  • Misc Income/Outgoings = £0.00

  • Reaver Fund Repayment = -0.00

  • Balance 1st May = £98.03

  • Reaver Fund Outstanding = £150.00