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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Mini-Movie Reviews

Greetings and felicitations to my fellow denizens of the warp! Old Man Chaos is back in action. I have another battle report that I have to write up, and I've got some freshly painted models that I have to take pics of pronto. However, I also promised some movie reviews. Now, these will be somewhat brief- I just want to give the gist of my thoughts on the movies I have seen this summer so far...

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

If you have read other reviews on my site, you know that I think Captain America: The First Avenger, was one of my favorite Marvel movies. Well, I am pleased to say that Cap 2 blows that, and all the other Marvel movies out of the water. Possibly even Avengers. Why, you ask? Well, Cap 2 does a TON of things right.

First, like Nolan's Batman movies, this movie is a reflection of our War on Terror fears and how far are we willing to go to keep the world safe. The movie does a great job with this, actually making lots of links between this conflict and World War II. Here, Captain America stands for our best intentions, and he finds himself at odds with an America that values security over freedom. So, he is still a fish out of water, but this time it has a moral imperative. This is contrasted nicely with the "Winter Soldier", who basically does whatever his handlers tell him, with no moral qualms.

Then, there is a deeper idea, that evil can survive even decisive defeat by changing form. By becoming a different kind of evil. Less open. More hidden. And, worst of all, it can mascerade as something good. This evil is harder to root out. We all like to think that Totalitarianism is gone, but... it just looks better now. This is some deep stuff for a comic movie, and the film makes those connections by bringing in elements from Cap 1 and WW 2 so well and intricately.

But, even with great ideas, a movie could be flat. Not this one though. The actors are all superb- Chris Evans is just amazing as Cap. His scenes with Falcon are warm and realistic (this is not hero worship- its 2 soldiers bonding over loss). Black Widow and Fury are also at top form here, and Cap is constantly trying to figure out their true motives and loyalties. Finally, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce is so morally slippery- and yet he never overplays it. In addition, the action scenes are a standout. The physicality between Cap and the Winter Soldier is just brutal. There's also lots of bullets flying- it gives the movie a grittiness and gravitas without becoming too grim.

Overall, the best Marvel movie. Period. Loved Avengers, but there was nothing deeper there. Cap 2 is both a fun action movie and a reflection of America at this moment in time.


This one I have mixed feelings about. I am glad to see Godzilla taken more seriously- I LOVE the 1954 movie- the perfect metaphor for the atomic bomb. The other Godzillas I could take or leave- I liked the monster fights as a kid, but damn those movies are bad. Then, the trailers for this one came out and I said YES- this is the Godzilla that needs to be seen.

The film is, as I said, a mixed bag. The monsters are very well done, with Godzilla himself getting all due respect in his appearance and strength. The problem is the rest of the movie isn't very effective at all. I don't mind slow deliberate pacing- but this felt off. They could have trimmed a good chunk and the movie would still be OK. They also kill the off one of their best characters fairly quickly. It doesn't help that the lead is fairly dull and un-involving. The monster fights are thrilling though- but these were all too brief compared to the rest of the movie.

Overall, I liked it, but didn't love it. That's too bad, as I think this movie could have been great.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Boy, did this movie have a ton on its plate. It was going to try to coordinate the older actors with the newer ones, somehow account for all the differences and inconsistencies (big and small) in the various movies, while trying to live up to one of the most famous X-Men stories of all time. Now, if that isn't a tall order, I don't know what is.

And, incredibly, the movie manages to deliver on all of these and then some. The story is part Terminator, part Empire Strikes Back, part ST IV: The Voyage Home, part comic book movie, and I mean that in the best possible way. To prevent a terrible future for both mutants and mankind alike, the xmen decide to send Wolverine back in time to prevent the murder of Bolivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels. Problem is, Mystique is the killer, and how do you find someone who could look like anyone? Complicating matters is the fact that in the 1970s, Xavier has basically given up on his dream, living life in a druggy haze (a metaphor for how America seemed to have given up in the 1970s perhaps). Plus, Magneto is in jail for a crime he may or may not have committed. Only by working together do the three have any chance to avert the catastrophe- but can they?

I am disappointed in this costume... how he looked at the end of First Class was great...
The movie is a great race against time flick, and it also has a healthy sense of humor. It is buoyed by some great performers- the Xavier's and Magnetos are played so well, its fantastic. And of course Hugh Jackman is great as Wolvie, though he doesn't dominate the proceedings, which is good. The special effects are top notch, and the Sentinels are fantastic. The best part though is the juxtaposition between the hopeless future and the rough but not yet dark 1970s- it really adds weight to the whole thing, making the characters decisions that much more important. However, there are moments where it seems like they are juggling too much. Also, there are some rather odd dull spots too, as well as some lapses in logic. But, as they say in Austin Powers- time travel? Now I've gone cross-eyed.

Without giving away the movie, let me say that the last battle and ending are great. Indeed, the conclusion is so good- basically, IF this was the end of the series, I would be totally OK with that, as this ending is really special. It is especially noteworthy if you hated X3 or Origins, let's put it that way. Naturally, there will be another one, judging by the scene after the end credits-geeks only will get this, as I had to explain it to non-comic fans.

Ultimately, I think X2 is still the absolute best, and there is something really fun about First Class, but DoFP is really, really good- it is so ambitious and they accomplish what they set out to do. Cap 2 was a better movie overall, but DoFP is still excellent.

Well, that's it for my movie reviews for now. I plan on seeing Planet of the Apes, Sin City 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy at the very least. I'll be sure to review them (eventually). Hope you found this entertaining.

Until next time.

The Warhammer 40K Social Contract in Action

Hey there Chaos Cultists, great and small! Summer is upon us, which means I'm going to try to get in a ton of Warhammer 40K stuff done- models painted, games played, and even, yes... a campaign. I'll blog about that at another point, but it looks like that I'll be having a campaign with my friend and my brother... a nice 3 force campaign of my own devising. Like I said, I'll get into that in the next posting or two...

The Lord of Skulls prepares for battle

At any rate, I played a game last week at my local store. My opponent was a younger person (younger than me, at any rate). I have played him before at the store- fun opponent, serious player but willing to laugh off mistakes. He is also a good modeller and painter, in my opinion.

This thing is huge! It is inevitable that GW will make plastic Titans sooner or later...
Well, we had decided the week before that we would fight, and yes, we would go with a Lord of War. I was very excited, as I have never gotten to use my Lord of Skulls before. The day of the battle, the guy tells me that he has a Leviathan brand "Knight" (and damn it, that it is a huge model- very nice, although it lacks the finer details of a GW model). I was fine with this (I don't care if it isn't GW). However, he had a special request- could it instead count as a Lord of Skulls as well?

This was an odd combination, and it didn't work that well.
Now, he has Black Templars and Dark Angels. There should be no way that they can have a Lord of Skulls without it being "Come the Apocalypse". AT LEAST. Plus, the model is radically different from a Lord of Skulls. The Leviathan model could pass as a Knight (A big one, to be sure), but I don't know about a Lord of Skulls... However, thinking that I have played this guy before, and the fact that he was very excited about it (he even had a backstory for it)... how could I say no? So I agreed. Then, he asked if we could go up to 3K points. Now, I only brought a few extra things with me... so I ended up with a squad of Spawn, a Dark Apostle, and a Bloodthirster. Again, not what I planned, but hey, its all in fun.

Kill! Maim! Burn! Indeed

Right there is what I think GW is getting at with 7th (unbounded and the like). We talked about it beforehand, and came to an agreement. Plus, he even had a storyline in mind. This is the type of thing that a Tournament would go beszerk over, but in a friendly game, why not? Besides, now we would be evenly matched- no way to complain that taking a LoW was unfair or anything. I now envisioned that this game would be brutal, and it would be anybodies game. I won for placement, and put my LoS on the far side of the board with a Maulerfiend and a Warpsmith in Rhino for support. My opponent placed his LoS opposite mine- he said that he was dying to see them fight, and that the Emperor was blessing him... The guy wanted to play straight up kill points, and that's all, again I agreed. Ultimately, our lists were almost 3K points

Well painted, with subtle conversions and nice winter basing.
The game, as it turns out, did not go as either of us predicted. In my first turn, my LoS did some damage to the nearby Centurions (those are tough bastards). My Helbrute destroyed his pesky thunderfire cannon quickly. I then advanced my rhino and Maulerfiend on with the LoS. On the other side, I drove up my other rhino (containing Kharn) and a squad of Spawn with a Dark Apostle.

The Black Templar Lord of War has its sights set on single combat.
Then, my opponent went. The first thing he did was advance his LoS so that it was literally face to face with mine. He really wanted this up close. So, he charged. When he rolled with his destroyer weapon, he rolled poorly, rolling mostly ones and a 4. I lost 3 hull points. He was not happy. Then I rolled. I rolled a couple of ones myself, but also a 6. Then, on the D table, I rolled a 6 again. I killed his LoS outright. One blow. Gone. Even his cataclysmic explosion did little, though it took a HP from my Maulerfiend. I laughed and said how crazy that was...

I rolled well on the Destroyer table- praise Khorne and the Skull Throne!
Sadly, the guy was upset. Angry. Mad that he lost his LoS so early- and it was on his charge besides. Because he was so pissed, the rest of the game wasn't as fun. I  and some other guys tried to tell him to buck up, as the dice could have easily gone the other way, but it was no use. He was mad and that was that.

The forces of Khorne advance!

The rest of the game was interesting, though not surprising. His Chapter Master and squad tore through the Spawns. My Maulerfiend finished off the Centurions up close. And my LoS began to take out chunks of his army as he moved toward the center of the field.

And they both bite the dust!

That Contemptor is awesome, even if it cleaved me in twain.
Then, his Chapter Master gets to Kharn, and they duel. Interestingly, both died simultaneously- the legend of my Kharn continues, as this is how he has met his end in several games recently. His  Contemptor Dred tore my Helbrute apart in spectacular fashion. Then, my 2 Heldrakes came on the board, and began to incinerate things (I only take 2 Heldrakes IF I know my opponent is fielding lots of flyers or if it is well over 2K points), and the Templar/Bezerker battle ended with but a handful of Templars left. The Maulerfiend was destroyed by shots from his Devastator squad.

A major moment in the game in  my view...
The Templars did have a Stormtalon, and it zeroed in on one Heldrake. I took Jink, but it wasn't needed as he failed to hit. Yikes- bad rolls. My other Heldrake would later vector strike him and actually destroy it (my rolls were dead on for most of the game when it counted). That meant my Heldrakes were the masters of the sky. My Lord of Skulls was now nearing the center, killing off what was left (including those Devastators). Finally, my Bloodthirster appeared. He shot at him and grounded him, then he had the Contemptor and Terminators charge him. The Contemptor rolled poorly, and again the guy was pissed. My Bloodthirster then killed some terminators.

... since it meant that I could do this in later turns.
At this point, my opponent decided to concede. With the Lord of Skulls dominating, he couldn't win. He killed several of my units, but I had killed more, and that killing would continue unabated, while he had less and less to kill my units. Ultimately, I had 2 Heldrakes, the Lord of Skulls, a Warpsmith and 9 Bezerkers, and a Rhino. He had his Land Raider, and the terminators and conemptor locked with the Bloodthirster. Even IF he had killed the Daemon, the Lord of Skulls was ready to smash that Contemptor to pieces and shoot the terminators.

He made some mistakes. Once his LoS was dead, he decided to pretty much ignore mine. His Centurions were killed before they could act, true, but he had a Landraider, Storm Talon, and Devastators. They should have shot all they had at the thing. But he didn't. Thus, my Lord of Skulls could strike with impunity.

The Heldrake's point of view
His anger had gotten the better of him. Once the game was done he said that Lords of War were stupid and that his army sucks. I told him a single die roll of 6 was what changed everything. I said that I play Khorne Bezerkers- everyone says they suck due to the difficulty of CC armies in 7th- and yet I won. There are many factors, and that next time or the time after he would win. It was to no avail. He was upset and that was it.

Look, it happens sometimes- every player loses their cool at one point or another. In my younger days I would get pissed (Red Terror, Pete?). I understand. But even in my worst moments, I was still sportsmanlike. Shake hands. Have a laugh. Swear revenge.

I felt bad for him, but at the same time... if HE rolled that 6 on the Destroyer table- would he have felt bad for me? And besides, I agreed to every request he made- can it be a Lord of Skulls? Can we just play kill points? Can you increase your list to 3K? As far as I'm concerned, I lived up to my end of the social contract. I hope that he will put this loss in perspective and laugh it off at some point.

Other than that, I have a 2K point game tomorrow against Ultramarines, and I will be looking forward to starting the campaign soon. And I finished some models that I plan on showing soon. And I have mini- movie reviews. And... wow... when did it get so busy here at the Chaos Corner?

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

7th Edition Thoughts and a Short Battle Report

Hey there Chaos fanatics! I know I've been away a bit, but things have really been crazy in my corner of the Eye of Terror. Yet, I know you don't care about any of that hogwash. You just want an update from Old Man Chaos- well, I'm back baby! As the summer begins I'll be posting more regularly once again.

So, 7th edition landed a couple of weeks ago, and I've read through it cover to cover once, and re-read certain sections (like the Psyker phase stuff). Ultimately, I find that the book is more of a 6.5 edition than an outright new edition, but... that's fine by me. There are changes, big and small (look at counterattack for an example of a slight change that could go unnoticed).

Basically, if you liked 6th then you'll pretty much like 7th. Most of the mechanics are the same, and ultimately the changes that were made (save two) don't have an enormous impact. The Psyker phase isn't quite a "game breaker"- the odds against getting off warp charge 3 spells are higher than you think, and Deny The Witch can block any psychic power- well, let's just say that unless you are fielding an all sorcerer army, then the new phase isn't going to drastically alter the game. Even a Daemon summoning Daemons isn't easy. The Maelstrom of War cards/missions are fun, but again don't change everything about 40K.

 There are two changes that are huge though. First is the whole unbounded/battle-forged army list. With ALL units now counting as scoring, this changes the dynamic of the whole thing- I know everyone is rethinking their troop usage and the like. The concept of unbounded armies is an idea fraught with peril, but also filled with promise. On the one hand, you know there's going to be butt-holes (this is a family publication) that are going to field an army of Riptides or Heldrakes. Sadly, there won't be much you can do about them except choose not to play them. However, unbounded also opens up the codexes, allowing for more variety. For example, an Iron Warriors army could field 4 Maulerfiends and a couple of Vindicators and a handful of Warpsmiths. That is a fluffy army and one that ISN'T invincible. That means a Khorne Bezerker army can take Bloodcrushers without the old HQ/2 Troop "Tax". It is endless possibilities, and no two armies need be the same ever again. Again, I just hope players act reasonably with this.

The other big change is that indeed, Lords of War ARE part and parcel of the new rule set, meaning you could see super-heavies at any time in any battle. While I don't think this is a "bad thing" per se, I just again hope that players act responsibly, and discuss with their opponents if this is OK or not. I do think TOs can choose to have them or not (indeed, I think GW is being quite open ended, making it easy for TOs to make the tournaments as they wish).

I played my first game of 7th edition last Friday. My brother and my friend Brian teamed up, with Brian as Grey Knights and my brother as Imperial Guard. The total was 3,000 points per side/faction- Brian and Steve had 1500 each then. My bro went unbounded, taking only tanks as his force (since they were together, we decided that their whole army was "unbounded"). I was originally going to do battle-forged, but... the temptation to do unbounded was just too great! For the first time ever, I did a combined Khorne Bezerker / Plague Marine army. I've had combined daemon forces, but never Khorne and Nurgle Chaos Marines. I didn't have to worry about who was troops or elites, as with unbound they are all scoring. I must confess it was quite freeing.

I ended up taking Kharn, a Nurgle Sorcerer, a Warpsmith, 2 squads of Bezerkers, 2 squads of Plague Marines, 2 Heldrakes (I normally don't do that, but at 3,000 I think its acceptable), 3 Maulerfiends, a Land Raider, 2 Dreadnoughts (one with Helcult), 2 squads of cultists, and a Daemon Prince of Nurgle (so that's a mastery 6 total). Taking an army with no limits is great, but I kept thinking "Ohhh... how about I take this? Or how about that...?".

We decided to use the tactical cards, with each side having 3 secret cards (discard, etc allowed). The game started off rough for me, with the Imperial scum going first. Steve's tanks blew chunks out of my army, felling a Maulerfiend turn 1. The only way to win was to get in there and negate his tanks range as much as possible.

The game was a see-saw at first. Ultimately I managed to summon two squads of plaguebearers but- every other thing I tried to summon failed- either denied or I didn't get enough 4s. The Plaguebearers distracted my opponents, and even Touch of Rust-ed a tank, but they were more annoyance than game changing. The Grey Knights proved frustrating with all of their bells and whistles, as usual. Iron Arm was amazing though, allowing my Sorcerer to survive just about anything, and cursed earth is good for daemons, no doubt.

By mid-game, my 2 Maulerfiends began to tear up the tanks, as did my close combat Helbrute. I kept my daemon prince airborne, attempting to use my psychic powers to lash out at the enemy or summon new daemons (which didn't work out so well). My Heldrakes arrived, torching the Grey Knights quite a bit. My brother's Hydra couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

The cards made things interesting. There was a constant shuffle to try to reach one objective or another. I wouldn't play with the cards EVERY time, but when you get tired of Eternal War missions the Maelstrom ones make for a fresh experience. I approve, and I hope they release other cards (for campaigns or just new missions), as I think there is a lot of potential here.

In the end, adding kill points and objectives gained, it was a score of 11 to 15. My forces were all over the Imperial table edge at the end, and I still had fresh guys in their tanks (you try not to put troops outside of their transports when you are facing several ordinance launching tanks). The game was an absolute blast though, with plenty of back and forth throughout.

It was a fun game, and I am pleased to say that this first test was just fine. The sky isn't falling. The only big concern is how people might abuse the rules as I mentioned above. Barring that, 7th is worthy. At any rate, I'll be playing at my local this week- my opponent and I already talked, and let's just say both of us will be bringing a super-heavy (see? agreed in advance). Should be a blast!

Until next time...