Survivalist Chaos: Looking at the Warhammer Chaos Gods through a different lens.

Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, and Slaanesh. These supernatural beings are the infamous Chaos Gods within the Warhammer universe – both Warhammer 40K, and Warhammer (Fantasy battle and Age of Sigmar). For those familiar with the Warhammer lore, they will know that the Chaos gods are often at the heart of the major storylines and conflicts; for those not familiar, they are described as the biggest threat to order, stability and general life, and portrayed as the major evil along with their villainous followers – even in the lore of 40k where no faction is inherently ‘good’. However, to say that the Chaos Pantheon are evil may be too critical of them, and what Chaos is and those that follow it. I’m not suggesting that Chaos are the “good guys” (if that exists in Warhammer), but neither are they the traditional “bad guys” (if this exists in Warhammer, too) expected from fantasy and sci-fi narratives.

Continue reading “Survivalist Chaos: Looking at the Warhammer Chaos Gods through a different lens.”

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
Continue reading “Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings”

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 15: RPG Character Death

Time for another podcast episode! This one is with James Campbell-Prager again, and our regular guest Mike Jarvis to talk about the death of the player character in RPGs! How cheerful!
You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt

 

Manaburnt Podcast – Colossus: Harbinger

Today we have another special interview podcast episode! This one is with James Campbell-Prager, who is here to tell us all about his upcoming 5th Edition D&D module called Colossus: Harbinger
You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt
Be sure to check out the team behind the game at facebook.com/BorkenThings
Sign up to their mailing list, and keep an eye out for the Kickstarter appearing on the horizon very soon!

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 10: Tolkien

Welcome back to the Podcast, probably the last one in 2019! Don’t worry though, we made up for it by unintentionally making it almost twice as long! But what do you expect from our special Milestone episode 10 all about Tolkien stuff, chosen by the listeners!

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

In this episode we are joined by our friend, Tolkien nerd and all round awesome RPG guy – Jason Tondro! We talk about all things Tolkien, his works and the adaptations: the movies, the videogames, the music, the RPGs (I never miss a chance to bring up The One Ring) And of course most excitingly we have a lengthy discussion of our hopes and fears for the upcoming Amazon Prime Lord of the Rings series!

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 7: RPGs

Another podcast coming at ya! This one is on our most beloved subject – RPGs!

Also our podcast is now on Apple HERE
This means you can easily listen in the Apple Podcasts app, or any other IOS and Android podcast tracker/app! just search ‘manaburnt’ and you’ll see us!

Alternatively, find links for all other places to listen at anchor.fm/manaburnt

Lilly and Alex are joined by Mike again in this episode. We go over some of our favourite RPGs and things we’ve played recently, before getting into some topics such as character death and combat realism. We all have a great love for RPGs, and different perspectives on many, listen and you’ll see!

There will surely be many more RPG discussions in the future. Maybe you’d like to join us? Get in touch!

My Thoughts on the Stand Alone Naomi Novik Novels – Uprooted & Spinning Silver

Alright people, I had been on holiday most of September, so apologies for the lack of posts from me since, but I am back. And whilst away I have been doing a lot of reading which is what I am sharing with you today. So, fantasy novels lovers, today is your day, because here I bring you my 2p on two novels from Naomi Novik: Uprooted and Spinning Silver. Most of you, I suspect, would know this author for the series Temeraire, so let me tell you this: my first experience of reading anything from Novik was Uprooted, therefore I didn’t come to it with any baggage or expectations. In fact, I had never heard of her series and work before. It was only that because of secret Santa at work, one of my colleagues gifted me the book and I decided to give it a shot. So if you are expecting me to do comparisons between the 9 volume series and these two…Well, not gonna happen. Sorry. In fact, I can tell you already, that, as much as I am a historian and a fantasy nerd, and by proxy Temeraire should totally be my thing; I am not interested. The Napoleonic Wars have never appealed all that much to me…and I am not sure if I am willing to invest into 9 books of this stuff to figure out what is going on. 

Continue reading “My Thoughts on the Stand Alone Naomi Novik Novels – Uprooted & Spinning Silver”

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition – A Quick Look

Recently the latest edition of the Warhammer Fantasy RPG was released, and with this being one of the two RPGs I’ve been looking forward to in recent years, I had to pick it up and have a look! I fully intend to play and perhaps run a game of this at some point in the future, but for now instead of a solid review I will share some of my initial thoughts and impressions.

warhammer-4th-ed

Now I’m not the most hardcore of Warhammer fans, I’ve never actually played Warhammer or any of the previous editions of the RPG, but since getting into a few of the videogames I’ve become more interested in the lore of Warhammer Fantasy. I say this because clearly this is an RPG based on previous versions. This 4th edition seems to have been based more heavily on the 1st and 2nd editions of the game, while clearly making many improvements. This is something of a revival for the system, as the 3rd edition made by Fantasy Flight Games was a complete departure from the mechanics of the previous two.

Having been published by Cubicle 7, a company I have grown very fond of, especially due to The One Ring RPG, I fully expected this book to have a great presentation and artwork. I wasn’t wrong, the layout is very clear, all the tables and little info boxes are easy to interpret. The book is crammed full of brilliant art, with something every few pages at least, but it doesn’t make things look messy or take over from the text too much. The art direction and some of the art is done by C7’s own Jon Hodgson whose style im very familiar with from the excellent art in The One Ring, and he does a similarly great job here even with such a different tone of fantasy aesthetic. In particular I love the character art done for each of the 64 careers you can choose from, all done in a suitably gritty and grimy style for Warhammer. I also like how the cover art for the book is clearly a callback to the cover of the first edition of the game from 1986. Overall the presentation really makes this a pleasure to read through. Continue reading “Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition – A Quick Look”

Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – first taste of the mainstream lines in a long while!

Ok so today I bring you something that perhaps will be a bit bizarre for me. You know how I don’t really follow these days much of their mainstream coming book lines? Well! The thing is just a couple of months ago – in fact to be precise as of May this year – Image decided to do a wonderful mashup of two of their main characters I love: SPAWN and Witchblade. And I have been thoroughly enjoying this so far – I think I am one number behind, but even so. The thing is mediaeval or dark ages spawn was always cool with you know the metal armour, weapons, the cape that flows like an absolute badass that sometimes you don’t really get the texture of it quite right in the more modern comic storylines. And of course Witchblade has always been cool through and through, no matter what – she’s awesome. And simply because of the very nature of the Witchblade and and how this evolves and interacts with the user this fits perfectly into the medieval setting. It just draws you in: armour, metal, shine, grip, monsters, death, Darkness – you know the drill.

So, of course I was not expecting it would disappoint, not at all, but I was certainly curious to see how they were going to take it because, well, the personalities of SPAWN and Witchblade could be somewhat conflicting and I wasn’t entirely sure of exactly what excuse they were going to give for the characters to join up storylines. And perhaps – as far as my reading goes – this is my hardest criticism. The first volume essentially tells you the story as to how SPAWN appears in this mediaeval setting which, by the way, doesn’t have any specific real Middle Ages locations to it. They leave it fairly vague which I’m cool with cause, you know, the scenery and the characters scream medieval of some form and that works. (You don’t really need to know the exact world/timeline names and background, the bits and bobs suffice if you see what I mean). The second volume is specifically dedicated to explaining how which plate comes into this story, which is fair, but because of the ascetics and introduction of both characters at separate stages, it is not the easiest thing to relate and assume they are in the same place/time/story. There is one only thing that ties them up together which is the presence of this particular villain, but that’s about it. In my opinion, perhaps it would have worked out better if instead of splitting them in #1 SPAWN #2 Witchblade, they would have put them together. I think it would have made it flow a bit better just so the reader could actually understand that these two storylines are happening in parallel correlation to each other. That is really that one thing that I thought “hmm, okay, I guess”. Well, that and the fact that, unlike in the case of Witchblade, you do not get a clear definite reason and to why and how is SPAWN here. (Neither at the end of either volume which I found a bit irritating but that could be the completionist in me…plus, like I said, one volume behind…though if I have to wait for #3 to get what I perceive to be an important part of the story…it better be decent plot development…anyway, I ramble!).

In any case, I think it’s pretty cool and I am really enjoying it. I really like the art work: but that is obvious, you know, a classic Brian Haberlin piece. He is a legend and has developed this aesthetic over years. I believe it’s the reason why it fits the medieval setting so well: not because of the dark and gloomy feel, which we could agree to a point to be cliche. But I think he adds to that romantic, stoic, hard core valiant epicness, full of blues and shiny silvers and golds. The balance and contrast in colour is delightful, even in scenes where you could get a certain feeling of monochromatic look, everything is distinct, and outlined to fit together harmoniously. In fact, at stages the general graphic composition starts reminding me of videogames of a fantasy setting – I’m particularly thinking of Skyrim here. It is difficult to explain without showing you the pictures, so just go buy the thing. The other thing that I liked was that with just a few lines of succinct and precise text, all the characters are well defined and understood. There is a bit of.an archetypal thing going on in that regards, but it does suit the genre and makes good use of tropes and motives in the medieval/fantasy sphere so, it works 🙂

Therefore, if you want something current, mainstream, and yet with a twist to read and enjoy visually, go get ’em Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – and then drop by tell me what you think.