A very Star Wars Christmas

It's been a very Star Wars themed holiday, the last couple of weeks. As well as the new film (more on that in a moment), there's been lots of Star Wars gaming of one sort or other in our house.

First up, Beth and I have been playing through the campaign of Imperial Assault. It's a really fun game, with good production values, as per usual with Fantasy Flight Games. If you've played The Descent, you'd find it very familiar, as it uses the same mechanics, though they've been improved in a few ways to make the game run a bit smoother. The campaign literally came down to the final dice roll, with the rebels just managing to win the day.

Grey, unpainted miniatures are bad, m'kay?

Grey, unpainted miniatures are bad, m'kay?

Next up - Star Wars Armada. Beth got me this for Christmas, and man... I love it. As a big fan of X-Wing, I wasn't 100% sure if this game was going to feel sufficiently different to warrant starting to collect some of the (more expensive) Armada ships, but to be honest, I think I like Armada more. Maybe that's just because it's shiny and new, but the epic feel of it, and the less frantic movement makes it feel a bit more stately, strategic and grand in scope. Definitely worth a look.

While the big ships in Armada come pre-painted, like the ships in X-Wing, the little squadrons (Tie Fighters, X-Wings, etc) come either plain grey (Imperial) or bone colour (Rebels). That just wasn't gonna work, so out came the brushes and paints once again. Here are some of the results:

Then, of course there was The Force Awakens, which we saw on Christmas Day. I hadn't seen it yet (and had been studiously avoiding spoilers, of which there are none here, BTW), so was super excited to go see it, and... I loved it. This was a really fun movie, both for fans and newcomers to the Star Wars universe, with characters you can love and plenty of heart (something the prequels distinctly lacked). I utterly loved the look and feel of the movie - what a difference practical effects make. After the prequels, the story was refreshingly simple, and the casting brilliant. It's a great kick-off to a new era of Star Wars films.

Added into the mix quite a bit of Star Wars Battlefront, and it's been very Star Wars themed all round! 

Now to go plot the next additions to the Imperial and Rebel fleets for Armada... 




Games Day US 2013

The last two and half weeks have been pretty crazy. I've been in Chicago, Memphis, California, Colorado and back to Chicago, and this evening I am flying out to the UK, which will be the first time I've been back there since 2006. Crazy! I've also been doing quite a bit of writing, having handed over a few short projects to BL, finished up working through the rules for Twelve Elements of War, and been doing some work on synopsises for two novels that I hope to start work on later in the year. So... Games Day US 2013 in Memphis, which was held a couple of weeks ago. It really was an awful lot of fun. Exhausting, but fun.

My, what a lot of taps you have...

The weekend started well when I met someone on the plane from Chicago who was heading to Games Day - a friendly bloke called Jeff Durham. Jeff was kind enough to drive me from the airport to the hotel, and helped out with a number of other things over the weekend - so thank you Jeff, you are a star.

Games Day kicked off the night before Games Day really (Games Day eve), with the GW folks hosting a BBQ at their Memphis HQ for ticket holders and guests. I headed over there with author Mike Lee. I'd not met Mike before, and it was great to hang out. If you ever get a chance to chat with him, ask him about the time he almost died at the hands (or rather, hooves) of an angry warhorse. Yikes.

The BBQ was fun, and it was great to catch up with folk I used to work with in the Design Studio, chat with Dan and Mike, as well as the BL and GW staff, and meet some of the people who were coming to Games Day. After the BBQ I headed downtown to Beale Street, a pedestrian-only street filled with blues bars, street performers and seemingly everyone in Memphis) and met up with my good mate Dave Taylor. Beers were drunk, and later in the night we caught up with the other BL folk. Good times.

A quieter moment on Beale Street.

This was my first ever Games Day US, and I was really looking forward to it. Writing can be such an isolating past time that it's always great to go to things like Games Days and meet people who are genuinely passionate about what you've written. They are always both exhausting and energising for me. Exhausting simply because being 'on' all day, chatting to folks is surprisingly tiring, and energising because they always re-excite me about what I get to do simply through the sheer weight of enthusiasm that the fans exude. I'm getting paid to make up stories about Space Marines at the end of the day, and that's pretty damn cool.

I Talked lots about Word Bearers and World Eaters (was really pleased that people seemed to *really* like 'Chosen of Khorne'), as well as about future projects that are in the works (including HH, which I'll talk about in a future post...).

Mike, Dan and I, before the floodgates were opened...

All in all, it was a brilliant day. We signed lots of books, ran seminars, and chatted to heaps of people (and Dan's line, as ever, was an impressive monster). I met loads of wonderful people who said nice things about my books. Everyone was really friendly and enthusiastic. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello, you really made me feel very welcome and made the day very enjoyable. Thanks also to Desi and the US GW folks for hosting a great event, and to Claudia, Ead and the folks at BL for making sure us authors were fed and watered.

I also got a chance to look at the Golden Demon entries, which I usually don't get a chance to do, which was really cool. Some freaking amazing entries and winners.

I believe this was the Slayer Sword winner. Very cool.

The traditional post-Games Day drink turned into an epic night out, which was heaps of fun, though left me feeling a little worse for wear the next day. There were drinks, there were blues bars, there was karaoke, there were bizarre moments, and there was a lot of laughter. The term of the day was 'lobe stench', though I cannot really remember why, now. A highlight was swapping ghost stories/bigfoot stories with Dan and Mike. My skin was crawling for days.

As I said, I'm now getting packed up to head to the UK - and I'll be around in the UK for long enough to go to UK Games Day in late September. Hopefully it will be just as much fun as US Games Day!