Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 28: Narrative Miniature Painting

Today Lilly and Alex are joined by James again to talk about miniature painting, this time with special guest Neil from @paintgreatminis to talk about what he calls “narrative painting”, as well as a few techniques!

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt

Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings

If I were to recap my wargaming past, I don’t imagine anyone would be surprised to learn it began with Games Workshop – thought maybe a little when I say it wasn’t Warhammer. I remember when I first saw an advert on TV for The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, afterwards shouting “MUM!!” and begging that we could by the first issue; little did I know that it was the beginning of a hobby and passion for small plastic soldiers that I would enjoy almost 20 years later! I was then introduced to Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and Warhammer 40k. It was with Games workshop that I would enjoy wargaming… until now.

The game was Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings. At first I thought it was based around the Early Middle Ages (no ‘Dark Age’ crap) but soon learned it was fantasy. I was immediately taken by the look of it. However, it was the idea of a rank and flank style of game that kept making me hesitate. But, after seeing some online reviews and some really good introductory game videos by On Tabletop, on Youtube, I was sold and wanted to start playing it as soon as possible. Sadly, this was at the beginning of 2020, and literally a couple of weeks after getting my box set and rushing to get all the models assembled to start playing, the pandemic hit the UK and the dawn of the lockdowns began. Luckily, one of the guys who plays it managed to set up an Excel simulator for the game – now with terrain features and all – and so I have managed to play the game many times now, even over lockdown, and hoping that regular physical gaming can soon pick up again with lockdown in the UK easing up. This game has become very important to me, for several reasons, and I want to tell you about it.

100 Kingdoms: Household Knights
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3D Printed Minis from LichForgedMythics

Today we bring you a review of some minis that we got from a new business on Etsy called LichForgedMythics, who are a 3dprinting company based in Lichfield (UK). You can find their shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LICHFORGEDMYTHICS.

LichForgedMythics print their miniatures from the Cast and Play range (https://www.castnplay.games/ ) and are selling different products on their Etsy. The key product are the mystery boxes, which is what we got. It is as simple and amazing as what it sounds: you order a box, it contains 4 random minis from the Cast and Play range, you open the box and BOOM, MINIS! They also offer some themed boxed and some big minis on their own like the werewolf that looks absolutely epic! In any case, you came here for a review, not to hear me rant about other stuff so, buckle up and pics will follow underneath.

First of all I must say that, from a delivery and service point of view, LichForgedMythics get a 12/10 best boys in the galaxy because the minis came in like a day, perfectly wrapped up, no post damage, all good. Here are some pics of them fresh out of the box.

LichForgedMythics
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Why I haven’t given up on Square Enix’ Marvel Avengers game just yet

I admit it, I’m a comic book nerd. So when Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics created the Marvel Avengers game last year, I eagerly bought it expecting to smash like the Hulk and yell “Avengers Assemble” at the top of my lungs. Granted, I was a little underwhelmed by the clunky movement and the strictness of multiplayer matchmaking. So why haven’t I branded Marvel’s Avengers a disappointment? I have thought long and hard about it and the truth is… I see its potential.

Square Enix & Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers game isn’t bad, in fact I would say it nailed the atmosphere of what a Marvel game should include. The narrative alone was great, and the characters all felt believable. After a disaster destroys San Francisco on A-Day, the Avengers disband and, in their wake, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) vows to protect the world. Soon, the Avengers are needed, once again, to protect the world against AIM. However, doing so will mean they will need to forgive themselves for the A-Day incident; a task easier said than done for Earth’s mightiest heroes. Marvel Avengers also adds Kamala Kahn aka Ms. Marvel to the roster; a decision I believe to be inspired. With the game focusing heavily on the young Muslim Inhuman throughout the campaign, we get to see a view into a culture that is rarely given a spotlight in video games, let alone as the protagonist. Soon though, players will have unlocked multiple members of the Avengers team and can then determine the hero that they have grown an affinity for and can choose to continue to play as for the rest of the game.

The Marvel Avengers campaign had me hooked until the very end. However, the game began to lose its hold on me once the campaign was over. The multiplayer needed work. As the only person in my friend group with a copy of the game, my only options were either to play with AI or with random people online. I opted for AI. Unfortunately, this became rather dull after a few weeks of random mission selecting and I regrettably decided to pick up a new game to play. Therein lies the game’s problem – a lack of drive. The multiplayer mission felt hollow and lacked the story-driven narrative of the campaign. Instead, I felt like I was grinding characters for no reason. Additionally, Marvel Avengers did itself no favours by refusing to allow duplicate heroes in multiplayer. Players that had upgraded one specific hero now found themselves limited when matchmaking. There could only be one Black Widow and one Hulk, if you wanted to play as them, you had to make sure no one else was playing them first; one extra hurdle that turned me and others off.

However, like Hydra, the Marvel game refuses to die. The developers are continuing to fix bugs and glitches, create new costumes, and adding new updates to the game. Most recently they allowed for the duplication of heroes allowing for multiplayer to be much less restrictive for a limited time. However, the introduction of new playable characters continues to be my reason for returning to the game. Since its release, Marvel Avengers has added Kate Bishop as well as Hawkeye to the team roster; both with their own mini campaigns to be completed to unlock them and new villains to defeat. With Black Panther announced to join the team later this year and the promise of Spider-Man to PS4 players as well, there is certainly a lot of content that will continue to draw comic book nerds, like myself, back into playing Square Enix’ game. For this reason, I like to think that like an Avenger, I haven’t given up on the game yet. After all, a hero never quits!

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 26: Women and Warhammer

Today we have a special episode featuring our all female wargamer and painter panel!

Featuring Lilly as always, joined by Chantel (@lass_games) and Vanessa (@vanessa_miniatures)

And Alex is here to ask questions taken from the audience about the issues women and girls face in the Warhammer community, as well as some on professional commission painting! 

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 25: MTG in Japan and Card Selling

In this episode Lilly and Alex are joined by Reza, importer and seller of Japanese and Korean Magic: The Gathering cards. He’s here to share with us his experience of the MTG community in Japan as well as a bit about being a card seller.

Check out Reza’s store on Cardmarket: DragonReikaiGames

And follow on Instagram: @reikaidragon

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt

Review: Coffee Talk

Hey everyone! Yes you may be surprised It is me on the videogame crusade lately, but for once in a really long time I’ve had spare time to play on my PC or the Switch and try out a few games out there. So today I wanted to talk to you about Coffee Talk, a nice little independent game by Toge Productions. And just as a head up, depending how much of a purist of videogames you are, you may not consider this as much as a traditional videogame but more of a visual novel or interactive story. In any case, there is currently a free demo on the Switch, and the game only cost me like £8.00, and it is also available on Steam.

The premise is that you run a café that stays open until dark where people come and gather. You find out about their personal stories; you help them out with a hot drink of their choice (sometimes just whatever you want) and so the narrative develops. It’s all 2d animation, (pixel art) but the characters are very well distinguished, the colours are rather pleasant and it all conjures a sincere sense of familiarity and tranquillity – it also comes with a super smooth jazz playlist so, there is that! The game play is very basic. All the dialogue is straight forward, and you don’t have any choices to make in there (which is perhaps the one thing I wished was different about this game). You have some main ingredients which depending how you combine them you create this or that hot beverage based on coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, or milk products. You don’t know more than a couple of basic recipes to begin with, and depending how you combine things along the way you learn more, which is handy because sometimes the main characters of this story will come and ask you for a drink by it’s specific name in the game and if you haven’t discover it yet, you gotta wing it. And why does this matter? Well, because if you get the drink wrong, it actually has an impact in the narrative!  The cool thing abut this is that you won’t actually know how it is impacting the game unless you start a new game again and try to avoid making the same mistakes, so here is some interesting replayability value if you are the completionist type and you want to know all possible permutations of these stories, I think it is a great idea. There is also a challenge mode, to try and get you to speed up with your drink orders, and an endless loop where you can discover new drinks without the pressure of the narrative – or if you are a clumsy person like me, you can practice your latte art, so that the characters in the game don’t criticise you for it (LOL).

But, without a doubt, as much as I love the chill concept of making coffee to help people with their struggles, the narrative is the best part. Every character has a specific viewpoint or relatable issue, and actually I must say now that the topics addressed by the game are actually quite hard hitting with current social issues. I have just forgotten to tell you that the setting or the game takes place in an imaginary alternative reality where Seatle in the current time, is a fantasy city with orcs, elves, vampires, etc, so this is a multicultural modern fantasy society. I really appreciated this not just for the freshness of the concept art, but also because it brings new light to the genre of fantasy, and it utilises this so effectively to approach current subjects which us humans should be better at handling. Just to give you a few examples, there are reflections and digs about racial profiling, xenophobia, interracial/cultural relationships, dating and dating apps, the videogame and pop culture industry itself, the lives of freelancers such as artists and writers, personal trauma, fighting ones own demons, class divide… and much more.

I was playing the demo, and just a few minutes into it, I was so taken by the characters and the stories that I bought the game, no regrets. If you are a Netflix nerd like me and like watching random things, this game has a similar feel to the Midnight Diner ( which if you haven’t watch and you have played Coffee Talk, I sincerely recommend, or if you like wholesome humane stories all the same, go watch it). It was a very welcome change of pace for a few hours, away from killing people, building empires or being an absolute hero, and catching them all Pokémon. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder of all the good we can do in the world by just being ourselves, and Coffee Talk definitely achieves that with a certain feel-good vibe about it.

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 24: Gender and Geek Culture

Today Lilly and Alex are joined by new guest Jess, and returning guest from the horror episodes Michelle!

In this episode we talk about gender in geek culture, mostly focusing on the experience of women and girls in geek communities, as well as representation in different media.

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt