The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3


Do not read this if you do not want the episode spoiled.

When we left off, Otis and Shane were chased into a high school carrying the vital medical supplies to save Carl's life. Every series has a couple of episodes where things slow down.  This was one of them.  Almost the entire episode was devoted to either more character development, or episodic plot drama.  The greater story arch however was not progressed at all.  AMC needs to be wary of that. I will explain later. A few important things did happen that will set the stage for the rest of the series.

Number One: Shane took the deep end plunge.

Since I am talking about trust and honor, how about this chick?
Who is worse, Shane or Her?

  We could already see the guy starting to lose it previously.  He is in love with his friends wife, and having difficulty coping with his predicament. Before the plague, he was probably kept in check by the rules of society. With the collapse of rules, the Shane rules were born. Pretty much, what Shane says goes.  You see a lot of people like this every day.  Bullies who obviously only follow the rules because they would get in trouble otherwise.  Not because they think the rules are right. In other words, not good people. (40k bullies any one?) In previous episodes, he nearly raped Rick's wife, and went way overboard with beating up the redneck who was hurting his family.  You see, the thing with guys like this is that so long as their carefully fabricated world stays intact, things are good. But with Shane, things started to unravel. Rick, a true leader who leads by example and word, not force of hand, came into the scene. First of all, this immediately challenged Shane's dominance, but also, and more importantly, his love for Rick's wife.  In one fell swoop, the only things that Shane had left, his power and relationship were taken from him.  So you get what we had in the scene where Shane lined up Rick in his sights last season.  Which is the way he wants it!

So Shane is unraveling. But he does have a sort of nobility.  It would hurt Shane if Rick knew how he felt.  They were friends, but their friendship is based on a relationship created while the old rules applied.  Shane knows that eventually there would be a clash and he is taking steps to escape it before it happens. The nobel anti hero.  Sacrifice for the sake of what should be. But is it sacrifice or cowardice? At one point this episode, Shane was about to give up. Then Otis came running, shooting the zombies about to take Shane down.  Then again, Shane was about to give up, and Otis kept him going.

But what is keeping Shane going? You would like to think it is his love for Carl, but I have to disagree.  It is not even for his friendship with Rick. Shane is ashamed of his own cowardice and weakness. It is noble that he is putting himself in danger for Carl, and helping Rick to save the kids life, but I think Shane is more concerned with the appearance of how he looks, than a deep rooted devotion.  Also, I do believe he holds a certain honor debt to Rick.

Rick even betrays Shane's nature when he tells the high school story of him stealing the car. Shane is unscrupulous, and uses his good appearance as a cover.

I have a childhood friend that is a complete and total miscreant. So much so that he had to move away from NY because he was on the top ten most hated list of the State Troopers. His situation was so dire that if he got pulled over one more time, he would end up in jail for years.  He is a thief and liar and a close match to Shane's personality. I would not really consider us friends, but, I trust him with my life.  I have no doubt that he would take a bullet for me.  Why? I'm not entirely sure. But he holds a level of devotion to me that belies his unscrupulous nature. Maybe because I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and respected him despite what others said. I think this is the relationship Shane holds for Rick. Shane feels guilt over leaving Rick in the hospital, he also feels guilt for moving in on his wife after telling her Rick was dead.

Shane owes Rick, and that along with his cowardice and shame of failure drive him.  That is why Shane put the bullet in the guys leg and left him.  Shane decided he had to pay his debt no matter what the cost to him.  Mostly because he wanted it paid so he could slip away guilt free.  Hence the problem. Shane only feels guilt towards certain people. Rick being one of those few names.  He knew it was wrong to shoot Otis and leave him, but his sense of guilt/nobility/shame for Rick was stronger than the morals he might hold related to a world now dead.

The head shaving was symbolic of all of this. It was symbolic of him shedding his debt to Rick. It was symbolic of him shedding his sense of right and wrong based on old world rules, and it was symbolic of him trying to wash his hands of Lori despite the fact that she gave him respite from his shame by asking him to stay. But now he would have to wear the clothes of a man he betrayed, and lie to his loved ones.  And sooner or later that lie is going to unravel too.  He is going to have to explain why he has Rick's pistol, which was supposedly in the hands of Otis when he died.  When that lie comes to a head, Shane's world will come crashing down. My guess will be that Glen will be there to help resolve the issue.

Number Two: The rise of Glen!

Last week I predicted that the Vet's cute daughter would rise to the level of regular character. This week I am sure of it.  First of all, there are at least there other people in the house. Only she got more then a few seconds of camera time. But also, most of that time was spent with Glen.  We are going to see Glen step up and take a more active role in things.  Glen is an optimist and holds a fatherly respect for Rick. Rick owes his life to Glen.  Those facts will lead to Glen replacing Shane as a decision maker, especially as Shane's sanity slips further away.  I have not read the graphic novels, but I predict a confrontation between Rick and Shane, probably caused by Shane getting the girl killed or nearly so, and Glen ending it with a bullet to Shane's head.

Number Three: Daryl becomes a leader?

Yes, Daryl, the neo nazi redneck is stepping up into a position of respect and leadership. Such is as it would be. The guy has useful skills in the new reality. He is a survivalist and analyst. He can break down situations, and offer quick and efficient responses.  But most importantly, as opposed to Shane, he does have a sense of right and wrong. He might not have followed the rules of society before the fall, but now that things have changed, and people rely on him, his sense of right is coming to the surface.  As he laid trying to sleep, the crying mother got the best of him. He knew that going to make a show of looking for the girl would help. While out there with the blonde, he actually showed some wisdom.  His logic on choosing not to kill the hanging zombie was sound and based on his reality which is very black and white.  Why waste an arrow? But also, he wanted to prove a point to the blonde. The dude hanging from the tree opted out. There are consequences to those actions.  And Daryl was going to enforce those consequences. But the wisdom is in his accepting her deal and shooting the zombie.  Now he had her trust. It was not about the arrow, or her answer. It was about him taking the time to give her the chance to trust him. I think he manipulated her in that regard.  Now he has her in his pocket. In fact, he is slowly doing deeds for every one in such a way. T-Dog, Rick, The Blonde... I would not be surprised if every one ended up owing him.

This is a common classroom discipline tactic. When you have a room full of tough kids, you do subtle favors for them individually, but you don't point that out to them at the moment, you wait until you need to pull that favor out of your pocket! Soon they will develop a sense of loyalty to me because they owe me, they have a street code, they have something invested like Trust. Hmm, sneaky? Is Daryl a teacher? What is the difference between me and my miscreant friend?

But it is how he uses this subtle power that will decide what kind of man he is. Sadly, as likable as he is, I think that the first chance he gets he will betray the group.  That will probably coincide with a late season reappearance of his brother Merl.  But he has still done good along the way.  Is this the definition of anti-hero?

But what happens if no progress is made in the overarching story?

AMC needs to be wary of bogging down the story too much with character development episodes.  I get it, they had to set the stage for the Shane melt down, plus whatever future plans for Glen and Daryl. But why are most of their audience watching the show? I'm gona guess it is not for the drama.  A lot of their audience is watching the show because they like to see how people react to the zombie apocalypse. They want to see what happened to Fort Benning. They want to see zombie action! The only zombie action in this episode was told in flashback.  The first three episodes of this season has not seen them progress from the damn traffic snarl that started it.  Little has changed. The girl is still lost, Shane is on the edge and the group is still fragmented.  They are no closer to Fort Benning and the zombies are even less of a fixture and more of a plot twist.

Want another example of a show that lost it's viewers in such a way? The original Battlestar Galactica any one? The show had the same premise as The Walking Dead. A group of survivors making their way against the odds and an unending opponent to an eventual end. The viewers tuned in to see what was going to happen. But week after week the story arch got bogged down with sub plots and character twists until it was cancelled before it's time. That was why with the new BSG, while they spent a lot of time doing character dev, just about every episode also included a bit of a push into the story arch.  The new BSG remained on task, thus it maintained it's incredible popularity. The Walking Dead runs the risk of becoming bloated with too many episodes about nothing.  The need to keep the balance or risk losing their fans.

Next week we can look forward to watching Shane squirm, Glen hook up with the hottie, and the blonde sulk.  More to come!


Star Wars: The Old Republic. Jawaballs gets some hands on time prelaunch!

Myself with Mr. Jeff Bass. The guy in charge
of social events for Bioware

Hey Folks! Last night I had the pleasure of attending a meet and greet social at a club in New York City hosted by none other than Bioware!  As part of their appearance at NYC Comic Con, they decided to have an unrelated social event at a club for guys unable to attend the con.

I hopped on a train from CT right after work and made my way out to the club on 36th street with dreams of some face time with Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The new MMO due out on December 20.

I arrived at the location at 5:30pm knowing that doors open at 8 for the event. There were already about a dozen or so people in line.  I quickly introduced myself and shook hands with a few guys at the back of the line. One was from Scotland who flew over for the con, another worked in Finance around the corner and a few other guys were blowing off work and wives from Jersey. The typical mixed bag of gamers.  My kind of crowd.

Just a few folks in line. Ahead by the railing was a couple 
from Spain on their honey moon!  

This guy was passing out wristbands from a plush R2 unit.
He is the creator of a fan podcast site TorWars.

Jeff Bass came out to socialize.

So after almost three hours of waiting, IDs were checked and in we went!  

Lighting was of course dark so I have few pictures worth showing.  But I made my way immediately to the gaming area. It turned out there were 6 PCs set up for fans to play the game on, and each of us who got on one had 30 minutes to play.  Since there were easily 300 people there, grabbing one of those slots would be lucky.  I managed to score one though.  Apparently introducing myself as Jawaballs carried no weight except for a wry smile at the goofy name, but when I mentioned Bell of Lost Souls there was a glimmer of recognition from the guy running the gaming, and I made it to one of the first slots.  

Game on!

They had the game preset and we were playing on one of the actual US servers.  I was not able to create a character, but they had pregen characters and I picked the one I plan on playing live, a Sith Operative. (The sneaky sniper)   So then I was off. Headset on and blue haired chick running around some sort of Cantina sporting a carbine.  

As most of you know, the interaction between player and game is based on voice.  Instead of quickly reading/skimming a block of text that offers a quest, the dialogue is handled through cut scenes between the quest givers and your character.  At pauses in the conversation, you can select certain options that will guide the conversation, and give you positive/negative effects.  

After quickly watching the impressive cut screens and scooping up some missions, I was off to the wilds.  From here it was a standard MMO.  Get mission, run into wilds and kill. Defend the outpost from marauding thugs. But quickly I got a sense that TOR has the best of every thing, and more!  First comes the cover option. As you run up to boxes and barricades, a "hologram" of your character appears behind certain ones that would grant you cover. You run up to them and hit the button to take cover and your character does a snap roll into safety.  In this picture my toon jumped behind a box to get ready to charge up a power shot on a waiting thug.  

I managed to level three times as I played, and by the third I was one shot killing these thugs with the charge shot.  On the power bar you can see the three powers I had to begin with. There was a fourth, Shiv, that only appeared when I was close. She pulled out a knife and jacked dudes in the face.  

To the right of the living thug, behind the HUD, you can see a corpse. Some corpses glowed with that pillar of blue energy. Those signify that they carry loot. As I looted my kills I picked up a fairly good upgrade rifle.  Not sure how they run the power levels of gear but it was quite a bit better than the one I started with.  

In the middle shot you can see a cut scene of my character arriving on location, and at the top the NPC is talking to her.

In this last shot my toon just finished clearing out an army of thugs and stands ready for more.  They had called time to switch and that was that!

Recently I have been playing Rift, which is I think the most current MMO, and TOR shares a lot in common. As you kill mobs that are part of your quest an alert pops up on screen, and to the right you have a heads up quest tracker.  On the left upper it keeps track of loot.  You can see the last few items you picked up.

The interface was flawless from the little I could experience.  On the bottom right is your Heads Up Display map and if you are lost you can click it to bring up a map with you in the center as a cursor. The map is see through but you can follow your cursor around to navigate twisty turns.  Fairly standard fare for good games, but surprisingly difficult for some to pull off. Dungeons and Dragons Online for example is one that does not do this well.

The gameplay itself did not bring a whole lot new to the table, at least that I managed to experience in my furious few minutes.  The cover system is nice and I'm sure will be vital as the game grows, but the powers on the tool bar are reminiscent of the same button mashing brought to you by games like WoW and Rift.  Hopefully the game will indeed have an efficient Macro system that will enable efficient customization of the button pressing. Rift excels at this and TOR should take that page of code.

From there I have little more to share. The graphics were good, but almost a bit dated!  We have seen millions of screen shots and all sorts of videos of character progression so maybe that is the culprit. I do have a feeling however that the game engine may be a victim of it's own age. It has been in development for at least three years, having been announced on October 21, 2008.  How much of the basic work was already done when that announcement was made?  At some points I almost got the impression that I was playing an Xbox game on a 360.  Know the feeling?  The graphics were certainly good, and frankly with high action shooters you don't really want high res graphics slowing game play but I wonder if the very long development time has hurt the final game. Did the content overshadow the graphics?  Having said that, the game textures were nice. The grass looked like it truly enveloped the toon and stuff far off had detail.  I hope guys have the hardware to animate it.

When discussing  graphics with Jeff  Bass he seemed not concerned with some of the rigs described to him.  Is this a good or bad thing?  On the one hand you almost want him to say that the game is a graphics hog, that way you may get a truly ground breaking experience.  On the other... it would be nice if a rig showing it's age could handle the game without expensive upgrades.  Not every one has a power game machine!

So after my gaming I scored a couple of exclusive Empire T-shirts by answering Star Wars trivia questions, and had some free drinks at the open bar. I have to hand it to Bioware they spared no expense, though the chips were stale. :)  I had some top shelf scotch and a couple beers, and paid not a dime short of tipping the bartender. There was no entry fee either. Bioware really threw the fans a bone with this event.  Kudos to you for doing it right. I got to shake hands with some big names in other genres and make new friends with cool gamers.

Overall, my experience was great. I think that the game should come close to meeting it's MASSIVE expectations.  It is playable and fun. The interactive quest system gets you into it, and the fact that you have choices between good or bad, and the game tailors itself to your choices is great.  Quite revolutionary for an MMO.  Most games have a relatively linear story line in which you are more of  spectator watching events unfold. In TOR the story is uniquely crafted around your character and actions.  Your friend can take part in it too and have their own actions influence events.

Here is some video! Nothing great, but it was fun. :)

As standard fare, the devs were tight lipped about any thing not already released. There would be no secrets divulged here. This was more of a "Come look what we created!" event. Plus we had some free drinks and good laughs.

I'm looking forward to playing with the friends I made that will be joining my guild, Jawa Nation.
If you want to join the guild take a look at my Jawa Nation blog as well!

Tell me what you think about what you have seen of TOR so far and what your expectations are!


The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2

I watched the first season of The Walking Dead with weekly devotion. I created a little ritual for myself where I would drink some scotch on a Sunday night and pay a little price on Monday morning for an hour of sipping good spirits and watching good TV.  Eagerly I looked forward to this season. Last week opened with a new bottle of scotch and a full day marathon of last year's shows, and the premiere of Season 2.  I was in zombie heaven.

Before I go on, I feel the need to say that NO I did not read the graphic novels. I don't care what is in them. I don't care if they explain back story and I don't care if you think the comics are better than the show.  I am responding ONLY to the show.

Now, upon watching the shows a second time, all at once, I started having issues.

First of all, the show is outstanding. AMC is good at creating gripping drama that works.  The characters in the show, and how they react to the situations they find themselves, make for good, watchable TV. But that does not mean nerds cannot pick it apart!

SPOILER ALERT. If you do not want to read possible spoilers, stop reading here.

What is my beef?  First off, before I can review each episode, I have some issues with the series as a whole. Trust me, this is not going to be an article bashing WD. I like the show. But some points need to be made and accepted before I can talk further.

Well, as zombie apocalypse shows go, it is well done. I think that the visual effects are outstanding for a cable TV series.  It looks great.  But there still has to be an element that remains believable in order for us to remain interested.  I think that WD flirts with that line a little too much.  Allow me to point out a few things:

First of all, time. The show speeds up certain things like the affair between Ricks wife and Shane, and the spread of the plague and slows down time in other areas. They don't really explain how much time elapsed while Rick was in a coma unless I missed it. But you get the sense that it was a couple of months. He got shot, and you get the sense that the plague spread shortly after. So there were probably a few weeks of slow breakdown while the government hushed things up, then a few more while things went to crap. Then comes the scene where the military is executing any one in the hospital that is sick, and Shane is with Rick, trying to wake him up. Shane escapes, and barricades Rick's door with a mobile cot. Now the clock is ticking.  A human being can survive for 3 days without water. He had an IV, dripping fluid, and we can assume that a fresh one was administered right before Shane left him.  I am no medical expert, but I cannot imagine one of those IV bags lasting more than a day.  That means that it could not be possible for more than 5 days or so to elapse between Shane escaping the hospital and Rick waking up.

A couple more nights pass while Rick is getting debriefed by the black dude in the suburbs. I would say it can be accepted that a week has passed from the time Shane leaves Rick at the hospital, to the time that Rick is reunited with them at the quarry.  During that time, Shane moved in on Rick's wife and Atlanta along with the rest of the world that we can see has been completely over run. The military has completely failed and roving packs of survivors have resorted to dangerous trips into populated areas to scavenge for supplies.

You just don't get a solid sense of reasonable time. But the time is the least of all my issues.

My big ones? The military collapsing, and the scavenging for supplies.

The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us and the military goes down like a two dollar whore!

Ok, I am not in the military, though I have two brothers and a father that were/are.  But that doesn't matter. It does not take a genius to have a basic understanding of military tactics.  Lets look back at the turning point in modern warfare in the industrial age.

World War One:

Step one: set up trench system that forces charging enemies into choke point.
Step two: set up machine guns at strategic positions for maxim coverage of said choke point
Step three: wait for enemy to come. when they come, pull trigger and mow the lawn.

This basic concept should apply to zombie apocalypse tactics.  Create choke points, wait for the walkers to come, and mow them down.

Now, the program does not take the time to show us the time that elapses between Rick getting shot and waking up. So,  in order to suspend my disbelief, I try to make allowances for the military. Like, they didn't know the zombie apocalypse was coming... Hmmm... no, can't buy it.  I have to believe that in light of a zombie plague, the military would have been on alert before places like Fort Benning were overrun.  Hell, even if they were not, army bases are designed to keep the public out.  In other words. Even an unsuspecting military base checkpoint manned by a couple of snot nosed privates should have been able to repel what must have been a minimal zombie attack in the early days of the plague.  But I simply cannot believe that any base would not have been on alert.

So, how come places like the CDC were overrun, and strategic choke points like the one where Rick first encounters the zombies in Atlanta were abandoned? If you look at most of the gun nests, they still had ammo belts fed into the chambers! You could say the tank ran out of ammo, but when Rick was inside, there were rounds ready to fire.  I guess you can say the tank ran out of gas... But damn, if those vehicles in Atlanta had been overrun, I would imagine the tank plus the squad in the hummer would have put up a fight, and mowed down a few hundred zombies before being killed.  There were none.

I guess the gun emplacements could have run out of ammo and not been resupplied fast enough because the zombies broke the supply chain? Yah those big military transports are pretty vulnerable to the zombie advance.  Oh and what about all of those helicopters we have?  It is not like they have to dodge rocket propelled grenades in Somalia.  They can just find large hordes of zombies, hover and fire. When they run dry, they fly back to a secure staging area and rearm while the next one comes in and continues the zombie massacre.  Given that it takes 10 minutes to unload the ammo on the dead, 10 minutes to fly back to base, 10 minutes to reload and 10 minutes to fly back, four or five choppers working together can lay down a continual flow of gunfire in protection of vital locations like the CDC.

And the guns nowadays are a bit more effective than the ones in 1914.  You don't need to kill the zombies by shooting them in the head.  Most squads carry a SAW, a squad sized heavy machine gun, a grenade launcher, and a bunch of M-16s.  All of these weapons are capable of cutting a human in half.

Even if half of the soldiers went AWOL and/or crazy from unreality of the scene, I have to believe there was still enough fingers to pull triggers and waste zombies!

Now, it is not like the military was trying to defend a foot hold in Normandy. They were fighting a battle in the very streets of Atlanta and the suburbs.  This means there was a pretty much limitless flow of resources.  The nearest Home Depot would have had enough chainlink fence to erect a suitable choke point in a matter of hours. Plus they could have gotten some heavy machinery from any one of the major construction sites nearby to bring in rubble, to reinforce the chainlink, or hell, use the thousands of cars sitting around.  Build a fence, to keep them out in the short term, then as the choppers cut down waves of dead, bring in cars to reinforce the chainlink.

I didn't even start with Mines, mortars, claymores and god knows what else is available. Even fire trucks with high power hoses would work against zombies.  Use the hoses to funnel them all into a nice clump and napalm them. Or just save the ammo and run them over with a bunch of tanks.

Any way, the military could not do this. In stead they sent small groups of solders in hasmat suits into overrun buildings to execute straggling sick people. Since the program does not show us the military, we can only speculate as to what happened. Personally I think this would be the program we all want to see! Lets see some of those last stand fights! Lets see the tank in the streets of Atlanta get overrun! Did it run out of gas? Break down? What happened??

The other issue I have with the show is the scavenging.

Why the hell are they struggling to maintain a 30 year old RV in the middle of Georgia? For the love of god Georgia is the home of the Recreational Vehicle! You would think that at any point they could have pulled off the road and found a modern one.  But no, they continue to drive that gas hog with a broken radiator instead. Further, they continue to drive past thousands and thousands of cars stuck in traffic on the interstate heading out of Atlanta.  Why would they not at any point just have taken one of those vehicles? Why did they not syphon gas out of every car there? While I am on it, why would they not have picked up any of the dozens of military assault rifles sitting around the CDC?

Lookie all those cars full of gas and loot! 

Also, Atlanta is the perfect city. It is built like a wheel. The city itself is the hub, and public transit spokes out from there connecting all of the neatly planned suburbs to the city. Each of the suburbs is more or less a self contained community complete with Friendly's, Wal-Marts and Home Depot's.  All of these commercial areas need distribution, and I'm sure Atlanta has an equally efficient distribution network where stuff is stockpiled to the gills. Granted that the time line from outbreak to Rick waking up is a couple of months, it probably took time for the distribution of goods to and from these hubs to stop. Meaning, there is probably still a horde of stuff from bottled water to Granola bars sitting around just waiting. Certainly the Wal-marts will be picked clean. But I have to believe that they would find at least once distribution center that is NOT infested with dead. It's not like they are placed in heavily populated areas, plus they are usually fenced!  Not to mention the fleet of loaded trucks stuck on the road.  (They did find a water truck in the traffic snarl.) I wonder where all Hostess trucks are?

But no. In Episode 2, they are driving two vehicles. A 30 year old camper, and an 80s SUV.  Neither of which should be on the road at all.  The get to the traffic snarl, and complain about not being able to turn back because they were out of gas.  It was not until then that some one decided they could syphon???  Logic would suggest that when you are in a situation where there are NOT a lot of zombies coming at you, you stop and get gas. If there are, you drive away from them until there are not.  It is amazing to me that after how ever long these survivors were camped, they finally came to the realization that they could loot cars in this episode.

Jesus, they risked going into Atlanta, surrounded by zombies, to loot a department store, when they had to pass a line of stalled cars miles long that are a veritable Wal-Mart on wheels.  You think all those people trying to get out of Atlanta did not stock up only to leave their crap on the interstate?  And no, don't say that the area was too hot with Zombies.  Rick passed the whole line on his way into the city on Horseback at a slow trot. When they left Atlanta, they passed the same cars.  This is just one small example of the same situation that could have played out any dozens of times as they were heading out of Atlanta towards the CDC.  "Oh hey Rick, look at that, a RV dealership... think we can risk getting us a new RV?" "Oh and it is next to a Toyota dealership... how bout we upgrade your 1987 Jeep Cherokee to a 2011 Highlander Hybrid?"

There. Got that off my chest.

Now for the show.  One thing they did right, is that they are smart enough not to fire their guns. The noise attracts the walkers. So they realize that they have to stealth kill the zombies when they encounter them. Nice.

 So they went to the CDC and met the doctor slowly fading into insanity. The doctor decided to kill himself, along with some people. The survivors escape the explosion, leave the plethora of sturdy Hummvees and assault rifles where they are, and get away, now heading for Fort Benning. But on the way, they encounter a traffic snarl.  Then the radiator blows on the RV. Of course.  While they are looting the cars and getting gas, finally, Rick and the old dude are on watch.  Here is something I don't get.  The old dude is up on top of the RV with binoculars. Behind them is open highway with the exception of a few cars they tried to weave around to get through the snarl.  They were driving down the road for what must have been a good while, and had no sign of zombies.  But then while on watch, they spot one, then as the camera pans back, there is hundreds. Where the hell did they come from? How do you miss hundreds of zombies shambling toward you from the direction you just traversed? I guess they could have shambled out of the woods onto the highway, then turned to follow the highway, coming out from behind the bus. But come on. It was a cool scene I suppose, but in a program already pushing the envelope of reality, they need to tread wisely.

So, every one under the trucks.  Lets hide.  Some how these zombies snuck up on us and it is too late to run into the woods and hide for a few minutes.  This brings me to another nit pick.  In season one, Rick and Glen coated themselves with guts and gore and limbs and intestines so that they could infiltrate the shambling horde and get to a construction yard to take a truck.  The zombies, unable to tell their smell from other dead, let them go. Until, of course it starts to rain the most unfortunate and timely rain squalls. As it rains, and washes off the dead smell, zombies start to smell the living bodies, then chase ensues.  Now they are walking just as close to the living bodies as before, and the bodies are not covered in death, but have been sitting unwashed in the Georgia summer for a day at least, and not a single zombie smells them.  Logic leap!  Rainy day, people covered in body parts, zombies smell them. Sunny day, hot sweaty people sans dead parts, no zombie smells. Hmm.

So the zombies pass except for a couple who find the little girl, who runs for her life into the woods. Rick chases, kills the zombies, but loses the girl.  The rest of the episode is spent looking for her.  But here is where the genius of the producers shows.  The zombies are not the drama, the characters are. The dead are a tool, a plot device, not the show.  The show is about putting these people into whacked situations and seeing how they will react! And that is why I love it.  At the end of the season 2 premiere, Rick's son is shot by a hunter. And the new episode opens with Rick sprinting towards a farm house carrying the boy.

What is great about this is that you finally see the cold, calculating and calm Rick unfold. His breaking point was his son. You see him literally transform from the well controlled and planning Sherriff into a shrieking crazy. Great scenes, great acting and great plot twists suck you in. Drama is almost forced though. Just when things look bleak, and you need something to happen, a zombie jumps out from behind a tree and nearly gets the blonde. Then we are right back into the story and drama.

Rick and his wife are now at the farm house, while the other survivors are dealing with  the dilema of driving away or waiting for the little girl to return. The revelation that the doctor is just a vet is expected but necessary. It provided the opportunity for the line "Well I think we are all in over our head."  Great stuff. I mean, blammo!  Who are they to be picky about what kind of doctor is fixing their son!

Then comes the end zombie chase scene. I suspect we will see a lot of them.  Shane and the redneck hunter go to a FEMA med shack to get supplies. When they get there, it is surrounded by zombies of course.  They need a diversion!  The answer?  Open the squad car and get the flares that Shane happens to know right where they are cause he is a cop, then throw them to a spot away from the shack.  Zombies go that way, we go in!  But what happens when the zombies come back... Of course that was not important. Why didn't shane just get into the truck and drive over to the zombies, then drive away slowly, just fast enough to keep them close.  He could lead them away for miles! Then kick it up to 60, run over a few in the way, and turn around and get back to the FEMA shack, meanwhile redneck medic dude is rummaging through the shack safely. IT would take at least 15 minutes for the horde to shamble back to the shed! Shane pulls up in truck and uses his shotgun on any remaining zombies, (Who cares about noise, you are already surrounded.) redneck jumps in the back with the stuff, and away they go.  Nah.  The two of them go into the shack while the zombies attention is on the flares. Get the stuff, then open the door to find hundreds of zombies right back where they started. Unable to run back the direction they came, they end up inside the school.  Fade to black on a rickety fence keeping the zombies out of the school. Sigh.  The writers need to work on having some less stupid characters. Another example of forcing drama by writing stupid characters.  I love the show but the writers should work a little harder.

I wonder what happened to these chicks during the zombie apocalypse? 
Please let them be dead.

The episode serves a few purposes. One was to introduce a pool of new characters. The original group was splitting up and getting killed. I think that the young girl on the horse will end up joining the group. The Vet is a famous guy and the show tends to use the famous actors as one and done characters like Merl and the black dude who was on Jericho. So I doubt he will last much longer than the crisis with the kid.  But the guy's daughter is cute, and capable.  I think we will see more of her.  Hopefully the blonde will die off soon.  Her season 2 character shift has become annoying, with her antics and the old dude trying to protect her. Shane needs to man up and toe the line.

Doctor Old Guy is gonzo but his cute daughter will remain!

Ok thats it, Fingers hurt. Next week, now that I have my gripes about the series out of the way, I will focus on character development and what is good about it.


Email Friday! Blood Angels list help

I have about 35 minutes before 29 7th graders trundle into my room like a bunch of drooling nurglings and I feel like writing... But what to write?


Here is a doozy of an email I got last night. I have not even finished reading it yet. I will do so now.


First, thanks for putting up an email address where people can reach you. I have been playing GW games since 1989, and so am no stranger to the painting desk or gaming table - I do, however, have some questions to ask if you don't mind. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and for whatever reason you feel the need to post this/your answers, I don't mind at all. 

As mentioned I've been playing for quite some time, but never really 'competitive' - I attend the occasional GW or LGS tournament, and even won quite a few, but nothing to strenuous. Recently I've been looking through "the internets" regarding competitive Warhammer 40k, and I will admit, much of it is confusing to me. While I see how cramming the best guns you can into every force organization slot -could- win you the game, I don't see how it can cover all the eventualities you might encounter in a tournament. I set a personal goal for 2012 - I want to attend 5 GT's and -try- to place progressively better at each one. My other goal is a Best Painted/Player's Choice type award, as my hobbying is much more important to me than my win/loss record. 

With that goal in mind - I looked at the 'competitive' armies vs the armies I own - I own Space Wolves, but it is an entirely foot-based Pre-Heresy force made from Forgeworld kits, and I only play that in a friendly or campaign environment (it has 2 melta guns...and 1 weapon that fires further than 24"). I have some Grey Knights, but after reading their codex I found it hard to create a list that did not include 10+ Psycannons, and therefore fall into "spamming the best gun" category. I'd like your help with an army that has units I can convert/paint to a winning standard, plus perform adequately on table: 

I set this list for 1850pts, which lets me find a middle between 1500-2000pts (I guess most GT's are 1750-1850?)


Mephiston – 250pts


5 Assault Marines – 175pts
                Melta Gun, No Jump Packs
                Razorback with Twin-Linked Plasma Gun and Lascannon, Hunter-Killer Missile
5 Assault Marines – 175pts
                Melta Gun, No Jump Packs
                Razorback with Twin-Linked Plasma Gun and Lascannon, Hunter-Killer Missile
9 Assault Marines – 232pts
                Sgt. with Powerfist, Melta Gun, No Jump Packs
                Rhino with Hunter-Killer Missile


5 Assault Terminators – 220pts
                4x Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields, 1x Lightning Claws
2 Sanguinary Priests – 150pts
                1x Terminator Armor (Power Sword Included)
                1x Power Sword

Fast Attack:

Baal Predator – 115pts
Baal Predator – 115pts
Baal Predator – 115pts
                Flamestorm Cannon

This obviously is less than 1850pts - it is 1547, giving me 303pts to add, or 333pts if I drop all the Hunter-Killer Missiles. I am trying to think of counters to what 'the internets' say as tournament standards - 

Mephiston should demolish Paladins, Scouting/Flamestorm Baal Predators should destroy Grey Knights/Long Fangs, Baal Preds with Assault Cannons and the Las/Plas Razorbacks can suppress av11-av12 transports. 

My general deployment plan is Mephiston on one flank opposite the 'slow' enemy flank, and the FNP Terminators on the other flank, opposite the 'fast' or assault oriented enemy units. The Las/Plas squads will backline, and the larger FNP Assault Squad in their Rhino is the counter charge element. 

Here are my concerns: 

1) No real 'fast' anti-tank - I do have the models for a 4 Melta/Jump Pack Honor Guard squad, but costing 200pts+ that eats into my 300~ left over quite a bit. My only other thought was to drop a Baal Predator and get a 2x MM Attack Bikes, but I don't really want to lose an av13 fast hull. 
2) I'd like at least one more scoring unit - If I scrape, I can do the Honor Guard + Unit of Sniper Scouts with a Missile Launcher and Camo Cloaks. I could squat them in cover and not do much all game for not very much cost. 
3) Terminators are slow - I do have a Redeemer that I can paint up, but with that point cost I couldn't afford the fast Melta Honor Guard. Primarily, the Terminators are then fairly defensive, or just an area-denial weapon. 
4) I've only got 6 armor hulls on the board - is that a lot/little? 
5) I feel like against a IG tank wall, I will have to over-rely on Mephiston's speed and tank killing ability since everything else is....average on their own. 
6) While awesome as a model and something I'd like to paint, I'm not sure what a Librarian Furioso/Furioso in general would get me. 

Obviously, your thoughts are appreciated - on the list, how to spend the points, ideas to use them together, or getting into GT's in general. We are relatively in the same area (middle East Coast), so I look forward to catching you on the tables for a friendly game. 

Thanks for the help, and I look forward to seeing your response. 


I will try to answer this as I read.  First of all.  NEVER go to a GT with player's choice as a goal.  The last time I went to a GT that offered that elusive award, I had high hopes and a sweet presentation. But the award went to a guy with a rough looking Tau army that kept shouting "Can a brotha get a six!".  The point is you never know.  Now, Best Painted is a different story, especially if there is a printed rubric before hand.  If you know how you are going to be judged, you can paint your army to the rubric, like teaching to the test.  This will give you a chance.  But still, be prepared for much more disappointment than success.  Paint judging is tough business.  Want tips? Non-metallic metal.  Come up with a way to do NMM silver and use it on EVERY gun in your army.  Guys will notice. Also, no decals.  Hand paint your details, numbers and words.  Paint every single detail on every single model, drill every barrel, and clean every mold line.  Those last few have nothing to do with your painting ability, but when you are up against 4 other armies equally well painted, the judges will be looking for little things that set you apart.  Extreme attention to detail is the easiest way to grab an edge.  
You are a hobby man, and it seems that you don't really care much about what you play. So if you are building an army with the goal of Best Painted, go with the best models.  Blood Angels are king in that department as far as Space Marines go.  GKs are new but lack the pretty details that the BA have.  Wolves, well, wolf fur pelts look silly in my opinion.  All of their fetishes pose a painting challenge.  But well painted wolves vs equally well painted BA can have an edge because you simply see less of them.  After all, many wolf players are just flavor of the monthers just throwing together a poorly drybrushed army to get it GT legal.  
As for paint scheme, red, painted well, is impressive.  But red painted well is hard to do.  Greens and blues have an easier go at it. If I painted a Salamanders army to the same level that I painted a BA army, without a doubt people would say the Salies were better painted. The color combos simply speak to genetic human taste more.  Like insects being attracted to certain shades. 
I have plans on doing an entirely NMM GK army.  I think that is what it will take to top my current BA army.  Something to consider!
As for current "competitive" GT armies?  The GT meta recently has devolved back into a late 4th ed "go first and shoot" gun battle. At the end of 4th ed, 40k pretty much came down to a single die roll. He who went first won.  Guys lined up their armies, and blasted away.  Worse, the Tyranid Genestealer army was simply wrecking every one.  At the first GW GT I went to in Baltimore, something like 12 of the top 15 armies were the same Genestealer army.  Pretty stupid.  But that was the game then.  
The competitive game today is in the hands of the Grey Knights, Imperial Guard, and Dark Eldar.  The DE might not win as a much as the others, but what they do is put a hurting on the armies that have a shot at the GK and IG.  Following close on their heals is the Space Wolves, then Blood Angels.  Any other codex can just forget it.  I am not saying you wont see an occasional Codex: Space Marine win, or whatever, I'm sure I will get lots of comments like "Well Space Marines won such and such GT."  But I am speaking generally.  Battle for Salvation case in point.  The two armies playing for the win? GK and IG.  The armies rounding out the top 10? Without looking at the results, but walking through the final round tables, was mostly DE, GK and IG.  
So, today's current meta revolves around a few things:
1. Putting out a lot of dakka.  One thing most of the top armies have in common is lots and lots and lots of high strength shots with 36"+ range.  If you don't have 15 to 20+ str8 and higher guns, you are kicking yourself in the balls.  But not only high str shots matter. Winning DE armies can put down over 200 shots a round.  GK and IG can lay down loads of STR 5 and 6 shots at medium range with psy bolts and multi lazers. The current game is a shooting game. Period.
2. An overwhelming defensive assault unit is important.  The GK have it with assassins coming out of land raiders with GK termies with cheat grenades. DE have it with incubi and some nasty IC upgrades and chicks with nets. IG can even do it with their cheap character upgrades making their loads of dudes less fun to assault than one would think.  You have to be able to deal with your opponents assault forces that will make it through your wall of lead.  You don't however need a lot, since most enemy assault forces that make it to your lines will be greatly depleted.
3. Most importantly, effective troops.  Or cheap troops. Ideally both.  GK have the ultimate score in this department by being able to fill out all 6 of their troops choices for what, 120 points total using acolytes?  They just keep em in reserve then run them onto the table into safe spots or dive them into razorbacks. This frees up lots of points to put into killy elite stuff.  IG previously held the troops title with Melta Vets in Chimeras. Not necessarily a cheap troops, but uber effective and survivable. You can pile em into Vendettas and put down a lot of melta wherever you need it. SW have fairly cheap but highly effective troops as well.  DE troops can lay down massive Dakka for a relatively cheap investment. This is the factor that leaves Blood Angels lagging behind.  Their troops are expensive in an expensive army, and not all that effective.  The single reason why you don't see many BA GT victories. 
When I won my last GT, I played an army built on that very premise. Lots and lots of shots, one single killy assault unit, and loads of redundant troops. But I barely won, mostly due to the fact that my troops, once their las cannon was taken off their razorbacks, were useless.  
So, what I am saying is that if you want to play an army that looks good on the table, and can compete, play Blood Angels.  Just be ready to have your ass handed to you. 
You seem to have the right idea.
This brings me to your list.  Not too bad.  Truly competitive BA lists are centered around razorbacks since they are the best BA have to offer for troops choices.  But if you are playing them, and trying to play a squad with their packs still on, you run the risk of that squad getting singled out and wiped.  Your stuff is so expensive that you cannot afford to have one fast moving assault squad separated from the rest of your army. So break em up and put em in razors too.  I do suggest a scout squad with fist and combi melta.  In my last two GTs, my scout squad did very well.  When used right, they are a cheap and effective troops choice in a codex that has few.
Most importantly, your termies.  Blood Aangels biggest advantage is in their speed.  Furious Charge is boss when playing other marines.  If you want to play hammer termies, play Codex: Space Marines. Switch out your termies to x4 claws and 1 hammer.  And get them mounted in a land raider crusader with extra armor and multi melta.  Go the extra step and give them a chaplain and priest and you have your defending death star. 
Your predators can be effective, or they can whiff.  I perfer autocanon/las preds. But for the cost you could do worse than your Baals.  What they will do is bunch up your opponent in the center especially when using the melta/fist scouts, where you can focus on them with your death star followed by Mephiston.  
Reading your summary, I see I already addressed most of your points. Don't worry about your lack of stuff. You will almost always have less.  Get meltaguns into your razorbacks. Against IG mech wall, full attack. Send every thing.  One or two assault marines can wipe out a squad of melta vets. Not a bad idea vs GK either. Send every thing. Take your losses, then assault.  Of course that is situational, and not the only tactic, but it beats sitting back and trying to out shoot and getting torn up by venerable psy dreads.  
I have written a lot about how to use this army.  Take a look in my archives!  Good luck.


A jawa-retraction

Sometimes a blog post gets away from you. In my attempt to provide examples for a point I was making, I inadvertently wrote things that should have been kept private and for that I apologize to my friend.  I'm definitely not perfect.  There was no malice or hurtful intent, and most of it was just busting chops. I woke up in a cold sweat last night worried about having hurt Hanz's feelings. Sorry Hanz!

Perhaps I will revisit those particular issues at a later date.

Who done it?

Interesting.  I have been seeing a lot of stuff bounced around about the Necron's "leak". Conspiracy theories, insider trading, collusion between a store and a media outlet...  Here is my theory.

It was George W. Bush. And Obama. And Martha Stewart, Madoff, and M. Knight Shamalamalamadan. But all of their strings were being pulled by Bin Laden, Saddam and Bill Gates ghosts.

It's all crazy guys.

First of all, it is just business. As in... mind your own.

Grats to the online retailer that scooped the rest of the world on Preorders. I won't say their name because they refused to sponsor me. But good for them. :)

Grats to Beasts of War for putting out some damn high quality stuff.  It is not easy and they do it quick and great and it all looks fantastic.  BoW please add my youtube channel to your new one. What happened by the way? Did you get shut down? I would love to do something with you guys. Great stuff! BoW does not sponsor me either. I just love their stuff.  Which does compel me to ask... how the hell do you guys make money? Is BoW just a college project? I would love to talk.

I see the point that Spikey Bits Rob makes, sorta.  But does he really have to make it? As if he would have not jumped at the chance at plastering his MBG imprint on those pictures instead! In the "new world" of GW sales practices, what little I know of them, it is not fair to guys like Rob I suppose that the "unnamed webstore" got a month head start on preorders. But again, would any other online retailer have done it different?

"Hey Neal at The Warstore, I'm gona post preorders for necrons a month before they are released by GW. Do you want in on the coup?"

I can't imagine any one would have done different at all. I sure would have plastered Jawaballs all over those pics if I could have.

Thats the good stuff...

Bottom line, except for the few retailers who are truly hurt by what might be considered unfair practice, who cares.  We all got to see cool pics of models a few weeks before GW released them.  Hopefully it is just GW getting on board with the internet for once. But really, who cares. It is a win for us all. Buzz is generated. A great site is promoted. And we all get to take snide shots at every ones favorite bad guy. Who happens to be the guy that makes our toys.  Or sells them. Or talks about them. Argh.  

No more to come on this... 


The GT scene. My wishlist?

It seems like more and more Grand Tournaments are added to the list every week.  First of all, today I want to talk about my next two scheduled entries.

In about three weeks I have The Mechanicon!  Mechanicon has solidified itself as my personal favorite, not because of it's big numbers or grand scheme ala The Nova, but more for it's personal touch, family atmosphere and attention to the hobby.  Mostly the latter of the points. Yes, I won Mechanicon last year, and yes I won only because of my painting.  My paint score vaulted me into the win at the end!  This also helped me with my 3rd place finish the year before.  So yes, a guy who paints well, and plays hard on the table does have an advantage. Some people hate this and cry out for more traditional scoring, but I say NAY!  

But also, and I have said this many times, The Mechanicon is about the friendly atmosphere.  You don't see a lot of open gaming on Friday night at most events.  But at Mechanicon guys come to play! The social crowd is there and happening until the wee hours of the morning.  I have met some of the best people I know at The Mechanicon.  If you have not been, you definitely should try to make it.  The pricetag is steep, but the weekend is worth it.

Then comes The Conflict GT.  If you want a good ole battle point kill fest, and it seems that these are more and more rare nowadays, The Conflict is for you.  The Conflict is the weekend of Jan 13th and held at the Palisades Mall just north of New York City.  The Conflict was predominantly a Fantasy event, with 40k only being added a couple years ago.  The first year there was only 30 or so 40k players and it was marred by whack comp scores and  iffy judging. The 40k tournament was the red headed step child to it's much bigger Fantasy event.

But Aaron the TO caught hell online! 40k blogging was still in it's infancy and Fritz and I pulled no punches. To his credit, Aaron listened to every thing, joined the communities and engaged people in conversation, and made things right. I don't know the numbers but believe that every year since the conflict has grown by 30 or so players, with last year having close to 90?  The second year was a big improvement with Aaron knocking it out last year.  He dropped the comp scores. He created a transparent rules packet that clearly defined questionable calls. And he scored a new venue! All of the above combine into a win for The Conflict. It is a hard hitting, in your face event where you are sure to run up against the bets the North East has to offer.

The keystone of The Conflict is The Conflict Cup. Guys can arrange themselves in teams of 4 crossing over WFB and 40k, and total up their scores.  The highest score wins!  This throws in some extra bragging rights.  Also, this year Aaron is adding more to the pot.  Doubles on Friday, as well as 'other' game systems Flames of War and Warmachines!  This may be a little ambitious on Aaron's part, but I admire his gumption!

Look for me to be playing in the doubles on Friday and the GT. Who is my doubles partner?  Undecided, but if Fritz's necrons are nearly as fearful as I suspect they will be, I think he and I will have a go.  It is time for him to stop being a tournament liability!  You hear me Fritz???  And for my conflict team, the details are being ironed out, but I believe all of us went unteamed a couple years ago, but finished with a 1st, 2nd and 4th on the 40k side and a 1st on the Fantasy. I am fuzzy on the unimportant details, but they don't matter What is important is that this year it seems the stars will align and we will be swinging a pretty big cudgel of gaming goodness. More to come on that bit soon.

Now what else is there? Well I have a fairly big 40k wish list.  Top of the list? The Feast of Blades!

The Feast of Blades is a huge GT brewing up over in Colorado. What makes the Fob stand out the most is the format.  Essentially, it is a 40k championship.  In order to attend the FoB, you have to do well at a qualifier at a local store and move on!  What started out as a Colorado thing has now turned into an event spanning 32 stores over seven states!  And the TO plans on going bigger in the future. How cool would it be to have a national FoB where each state holds qualifiers to send the best of the best.  (Not cool for me since I live in the same state as Alex Fennel, Sean Nayden and Ragnar... die die die)

But there is more to it than just a "championship".  There are "Open" GTs in 40k and Fantasy, as well as tournaments for Warmachine, Hordes, Infinity and there is a Narrative track event!  Something for every one!

My favorite innovation is the Feats of Strength.  There will be a number of mini achievements such as killing five kill points with a single unit. As you achieve the qoals you will be given a FoB custom cast purity seal!  Pretty fun addition to an already cool weekend.

I definitely plan on making it out to this one sooner or later.  Sounds great!

I believe the winner gets to bring this jawa banner home
for display in his local store!

The Feast of Blades is held on November 4th in Denver Colorado.

Adepticon goes without saying. It is THE 40k pilgrimage in the USA.  I have never been, and every year get closer and closer to pulling that trigger. The Nova Open is knocking hard at the door, but has yet to dethrone the king.  Looking at the site I see nothing but a drool fest.  Pod casting, live video, just about every internet celebrity on the planet and yes, 40k.  Hopefully I will make it this year and have more to say!

I refuse to call it Wargamescon. Larry has been given the ultimatum. Change the name back or I wont go! :) Just kidding.  I was at the first Bolscon and had a great time. Fritz and I dropped the challenge on Jwolf and both of us were sent packing. Though my game was close while Fritz got owned.  We had planned to attend the 2nd year and run an apocalypse game, but life happened and that was not possible. I have not made it back since.  I hope to change that this year and get Bolscon back into my rotation.

So if I had my wishlist of events:
The Conflict: Jan
Valentines Day Massacre in Media PA: Feb
Templecon: Feb 3-5
Adepticon: April
Throne of Skulls
The Nova Open: August
Battle for Salvation: October
DaBoyz: October
Mechanicon: November
Feast of Blades: November

Now to figure out how to pull it all off and not get divorced.


Are you a 40k bully? That and rules discussion...

So I was at a recent GT and a guy I played nearby a few times kept saying to his opponents things like "I am just here to have fun." "People get too uptight at tournaments." and "It's all about good sportsmanship."  He was saying these things in a very friendly way, and seemed very friendly to play against. But his actions directly contradicted what he was saying.  He was lecturing his opponents about the very actions he was taking. He was browbeating them, in a friendly way mind you, on every other rule call.  And he was either calling over a judge, or forcing an opponent to two or three times a game.  Nit picking, arguing, questioning etc. These are not the actions of a guy just there to have fun!

I was not going to say any thing about it until some one else brought the dude up and then blammo, I knew I had blog content.

Is this a tactic? It almost seems like he is transferring what he is doing onto his opponent so that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Starting rules arguments, then saying that he is just there to have fun so it must be his opponent that has the problem.  Well, if you are just there to have fun, quit arguing every move, quit calling judges over when you don't like a rule, and quit browbeating your opponent. The fact is that your definition of fun is probably very different than others. Those sorts of actions are probably fun for you.

Quit being a 40k bully.

While at the GT I saw a few rules questions that I wanted to bring up here.  Remember, opinion is useless. Telling us how you THINK the rule works without any sort of reasoning and/or page numbers supporting your opinion does not help the conversation. So I insist that if you wish to take part in this discussion, please support your statements with reasoning and whenever possible page numbers of rules.

Situation One:
In close combat with multiple units. After a combat round is finished, every one piles in right? What happens if one of the units cannot pile in? That is, what happens if one of the units involved in the combat fails to make base contact with a unit from the opposing side? According to the way it was ruled, and I agree with the ruling, the entire combat ends and both sides consolidate as per the rules for consolidate.

Let me give an example.  Belial is part of a 5 man squad of terminators. His squad, and another unit of terminators are assaulted by a squad of Blood Angels terminators, and Mephiston.  Every member of his squad is killed except for him, and all of the BA terminators are killed. Due to the defenders reacting and such, Mephiston is surrounded, and it is impossible for Belial to get base to base with him.  Combat is now broken!  Both sides consolidate and go their own ways. Discuss.

Situation Two:
Grey Knight terminators can deep strike and combat squad upon landing.  As far as I have known in the past, any unit that stays in reserve may not combat squad, unless it is in a pod, in that case it combat squads when it hits the table. But are GK bound by that rule?


Mechanicon and The Conflict GT.

Ok guys, two of my staple GTs are coming up soon.

Tony Spino and company put on a great event. Custom built table with ever improving terrain are the mainstays along with the complete hobby mecha.  The weekend is all about gaming. You need not be a 40k player to get your gaming fix. There is an entire conference room devoted to as many other gaming avenues as possible. Mechanicon is a friendly, social weekend where good things happen. There is an auction in the Memory of Chris Bledsoe where the proceeds go to research and there is a bar in the gaming room with plenty of time for open gaming. It was at Mechanicon where I made friends with Alex Fennel, Bill McFadden, Simon Lean and Ted Nagel!  Looking forward to seeing the guys again. The Mechanicon is the first weekend of November. Get your ticket soon! The Mechanicon has become known as the GT for the Hobbiest. Painting scores are heavily weighted and have a big impact on your final score. I jumped from 10th place for the win last year with some favorable final game results, and my outstanding painting performance.

The Army I played at last years Mechanicon and Conflict 
earning me a 1st and 10th or so finish at both.

The Conflict GT. This January 13-15th we are set up for another great GT held at the Palisades Mall in the constantly growing NY Metro Area 40k scene.  The Conflict was primarily a Fantasy event but in the last few years has spread out into 40k which is threatening to take over.  The conflict is an event that invites guys to play in teams. Each team will have their scores totaled with the highest scoring team winning The Conflict Cup!  I think in the past 40k was not eligible for consideration in the cup but this year should be different.  Aaron has made the event better every year he has put it on. He is very open to input and wants in his heart to make an event that every one will love. He was also the first to have a huge 40k event at The Palisades Mall just north of NY City.  What a great venue! There is a huge food court plus loads of bars right next to the gaming room.  We can get in a game then take our pic from dozens of restaurants or have a brew or two in between games.

Go visit the site in the link, order your ticket and get yourself out to The Conflict.  Aaron is a friendly and gracious TO and openly walks the floors making you feel welcome. Test yourself against some of the toughest competition the East Coast has to offer in a good old fashioned Battle Point tournament.

I'm off to The Battle for Salvation!  Wish me luck.


Mail Call!

Here are some recent emails:

Warhammer 40k

If been having a problem with 40k for a while now

i have bought about 7 codexes and i havnt found a army i truly like its scaring me because i really want to get into the army but i cant because i dont want to spend money on a army i dont like.

do you have any tips or a soulution to my problems
the codexes i have bought are as follows (tell me if theres any links between them that might be the reason why im struggling) :

necron (recent)
tau (recent)
tyranids (old)
dark elder (old,recent)
space wolves (old)
imperial guard (recent)
grey knights (recent)

thx for your time
Sent to: jawaballs
I have a standard answer for this. Buy the models you like. My first tank was a Vindicator because I loved the huge cannon on the front.  Then I got a Whirlwind cause I liked the real world type of rocket launcher.  Neither of which would I play now.  If you like a model, buy it and paint it.  Don't worry about the codex being good, or competitive or even what list you are going to play. And don't buy a 3k point army all at once either.  Get a few things, paint them, play with them, and then slowly increase your force.  But the only answer can come from within you. Buy the models you like, and play them.

Army List

Dear Jawaballs

I am new in Playing Blood Angels and couldn´t decide which of those Army lists would be better to play on a 500PT Tournament in a local Shop here in Germany. It especially reveres on my Death Company cause I couldn´t decide if I should give them more Power Weapons or give hem a razorback and don´t use that much power Weapons.
I tried to translate most of the weapons names but some I didn´t know exactly
E-Weapons would be a Power Sword
And I will just call the special Blood Angels Pistol With Melter Profile

Captain/ Commander 100 PT
E- Weapon 15 PT
115 PT

Death Company 5 man 100 PT
2 E- Weapon 30 PT
1 E- Hammer 30 PT
Rhino 50 PT
210 PT

Tactical Squad 10 man 170 PT
Missile launcher 0 PT
Storm Bolter Sergeant 3 PT
173 PT

Total 493 PT



Captain / Comander 100 PT
E- Weapon 15 PT
M- Pistol 15 PT
Melterbomb 5 PT

Death Company 5 man 100 PT
2 E- Weapon 30 PT
Razorback with heavy Bolter 55 PT
180 PT

Tactical Squad 10 man 170 PT

Missel launcher 0 PT
Flamethrower 0 PT

Sargeant Melterbomb 5 PT
Storm Bolter 3 PT
178 PT
Total 498 PT

That Should be my 2 Army lists I was thinking about putting the Death Comp in a transport tank with my Captain so that I can move them freely

I would be happy if you could help me cause I can´t decide and thanks for all your good videos. Would be happy if you will do a painting video again or a Battle Report

Greetings From Gemany, Mckay
Hello to Germany.  Blood Angels are severely hampered at 500 points. They cost a lot and you get very little for the points. Further, most 500 point games prohibit the BA named characters which are their greatest strength.  Instead of trying to critique your lists, allow me to share with you the 500 point list I am playing this weekend at the Battle for Savlation:
Librarian with Jump pack (Preferred enemy and Str 10)
Sanguinary Priest with PW and Jump Pack
Assault Squad x7 PW and Flamer
Assault Squad x5 PW and Melta

Thats it!    I think my list gets you the best the BA have to offer at the points total.  Lots of initiative 5 assaulting power weapons.  Lots of speed and lots of fun!

2000 point list

hey mate I thought maybe it would be good to have the war-master of blood angels help me out =) with the 2000 point list i made


Chaplian - terminator armour w/ stormbolter
Sanguinary Priest- Terminator armour
5 man Assult terminator squad - land raider crusader w/ extra armour

5 man snipers - all w/ camo cloaks
5 man assult squad - melta gun, power weapon, melta bombs
5 man assult squad - melta gun, power weapon, melta bombs
5 man assult squad - melta gun, power weapon, melta bombs, combat shield

vindicator - siege shield
vindicator - siege shield

thanks if you read through this, any advise would be much apreciated

Your list is very much like the one I went 4-4 with at The Nova, and am playing this weekend.  All I would say is drop the vindicators. If you want armor, play auto/las preds.  If I was going to make a change to my own list, I would probably do that.  The list is very points heavy in the HQ, but has squishy troops.  You are best to keep your assault squads as close to your termies as possible!  Assault in force and you will win 50% of your games and maybe more.

Army List

Would this be a good BA list to start with?
Jump Pack
Infernus Pistol
Unleash Rage and Shield of Sanguinis

Assault Squad
Sgt with Power Weapon and Combat Shield
Melta Gun

!0 Man Tactical Squad
Flamer and Missle Launcher
Sgt with Chainsword and Bolt Pistol
Rhino with Hunter Killer Missle

TOTAL- 500pts exactly
So is it good or should i change anything out?
More 500 point love.  Drop the combat shield. Give him a meltabomb. 10 man tactical is a good choice. Rhino, if used well, will be good.  
hey jawaballs I am going to rebuild my ultramarines but I don't know what to put in can you help me?

Guys, questions like this I simply don't have an answer for.  What do YOU like? 

I received this great email in response to a comment on a video.  The comment was a standard unhelpful "You cant' paint you shouldn't be giving advice your stuff looks like poop" sort of comment to which I gave my standard Jawa-answer.  Then I got this fantastic reply:

dear jawaballs

never paint to be good or be satisfied with 'best painted'. When you paint to be good you accept average; paint to be great. Your free handing is very good, your checkerboard is perfect, but your blending is streaky and very contrast-ie which will get you good scores are events. The best advise i ever got and that i impart to you is to never accept good, only accept great. Perhaps my words were too harsh and maybe a little biased. I wish you well in all your endeavors and hope that you impart the best to your viewers. Don't teach them how to score good paint scores, show them how to paint. Im sure you can agree that there is a difference.
That my friends is some of the best advice I have ever heard any where. I agree, there is a difference. This advice was certainly taken to heart. I answered with this however: I believe that there are a large number of you who will never be "great". As an art teacher I know that most kids, no matter how hard they try, will never make it. It is to these people that I aim my tutorials. Most guys will be satisfied with painting average because average is a step up from where they began. The realistic truth is that good is an obtainable goal and great is fairy tale land. So when I give advice and do tutorials, I do them from the point of view of all you guys starting at below average, and get you to good the quickest way possible.  Now, in my own painting, he is right. I need to take my own stuff from good to outstanding.  I believe thought that I am on my way. My most recent army puts my old stuff to shame. Now, that old stuff won me Best Painted at several events including major GTs. But I admit it was not outstanding. My current army is starting to eclipse that horizon.  I think in a few years, I will have figured things out, and indeed be able to call myself great.  Thanks man for the perspective.  Your follow up email was much much more beneficial than your original comment.

Ok, thats enough for now, my after school 40k club just walked in. Time to teach kids how to paint... good.  :)