Warhammer Fantasy ‘Island of Blood’ Unboxing

Island of Blood is the Warhammer Fantasy Battle starter set and is the first GW box I’ve purchased since Blood Bowl 3rd edition when that first came out. As such I thought I’d do a little unboxing review – I’m clearly way behind on offering exclusive insight!

Seeing the box on the desk and comparing it to the BB box, I can see that this one isn’t as tall. Let’s see what’s inside…

 

The Island of Blood box

The Island of Blood box

The box is open

The box is open

 

Okay, so it’s full! That’s a good sign. I obviously know that there are 70+ Skaven and High Elf minis included in the box but hadn’t thought how much plastic that would actually be. There are 5 sprues in total and I’m disappointed to see that 3 of them are mixed Skaven and High Elf. That’s a shame as I’ve already decided to play High Elves and would have liked to sell the Skaven sprues. Looks like I’ll need to chop them up a little bit if I want to do that. The other 2 sprues look to be exclusively Skaven or elf.

Plastic, plastic, plastic

Plastic, plastic, plastic

More plastic

More plastic

 

Before I go into detail the rest of the box is taken up with bases, dice, plastic templates, a getting started booklet and the miniature version of the rules. The rules are the complete 8th edition rules but with the various painting and race guides taken out. It’s a nice little rule book although the paper is the cheap stuff used in magazines. Would be nice to be able to download the rules for free if you’ve purchased the box set…but that’s never going to happen. 

Contents

Contents

I’ve got to say though that the minis look amazing. I’ve not had much exposure to modern plastic models and I must say these are nice. There is lots of detail on each model and I’m looking forward to putting them together and eventually painting them. I’ll also have to get used to the weight of plastic minis on the battle field; all of my collection so far is metal with the exception of the basic Orcs and Humans that came in the BB boxes. 

The range rulers and templates are a little cheap looking. It would have been nice to have a proper tape measure in the box rather than the red plastic strips. Of course GW want you to buy their upgraded templates and rulers, but this seems a little cheap to me. 

All in all this is a nice introduction to the game and if I was 12 and looking to start in tabletop gaming with my brother or a friend then this would be perfect. For the £56 that I paid for it, I don’t feel too cheated. I’ve got a nice little set of minis and a decent sized rule book. Personally I’d like the quality of the non-mini pieces to be upped a little and I’d have liked the sprues to be exclusive to one race.

I’ll let you know how I get on with the game and how the components fare after some usage.

Getting back into Warhammer Fantasy : Why?

I’ve already posted on this blog that I used to play Warhammer Fantasy Battle to a small degree when I was younger. I remember having a large board that had a Hornby train track setup on one side and was painted up for Warhammer gaming on the other. We used to put the board on top of the half sized snooker table that we had in the spare room. As was the way back in the day we then had terrain pieces made out of cut foam or painted cardboard boxes. This was 3rd edition.

As I’ve been getting back in to the hobby gaming world, I’ve been feeling around to find what fits with me. I’ve fallen back into the blood Bowl groove but have been looking for more. I’ve picked up the 40k rulebook, but haven’t really made a connection with that yet. I’ve also been looking at other types of games – board games, dice games and card games. As I’ve been feeling around I’ve been reading websites, forums, looking in game shops, listening to podcasts and seeing what is being played at the local gaming club.

At this stage of my life I am not a gamer. I’m a hobby gamer. The aspects that appeal to me most are collecting, painting and list building. That is influencing my choice. I’m also seeing what the local gamers are playing and seeing what interests me most. Time is a big factor in my life, so in terms of playing games, smaller scale skirmish games are naturally a better fit.

40k hasn’t connected with me. It seems too nerdy. Even as someone who has played games and is aware of the GW / Warhammer universe, it seems too difficult to get into. There seems to be no real entry point. Seeing people play it and reading what people write about it, there appears to be so much detail, background and general nerdiness that I’m not prepared to get into. There’s so much back story that I don’t want to play it. This is not the fault of the players, but I suppose if you want to keep a game franchise running for so many years then you need to keep adding story. It’s obviously working for GW to some extent but that’s not a topic for discussion now. Another factor is the 40k podcasts that I listened to all added to that barrier to entry. I had about 5 podcasts downloading for a few months and gradually I’ve stopped listening to them all. Again the levels of nerdy discussion broke me. So 40k is out.

I’m on the Mantic kickstarter for Deadzone, so that will come later in the year and cover the skirmish side of things, plus Necromunda has seen a resurgence locally. I’m reading up on that and keeping an eye on the local campaign.

Warmachine has been on my ‘wishlist’ for a little while. I’m quite interested in the miniatures and the time aspect of the gameplay. I like some of the mechanics that I’ve read and heard about but the big downside for this game is that I’ve not seen anybody play it locally. I know I said that I am a hobbyist, but I’d still like to play a few games once in a while.

For me that left a return to Warhammer (Fantasy Battle). It must be something in me that prefers fantasy, or maybe doesn’t like sci-fi as much, but I prefer the concept of dragons and knights to tanks and lasers. The podcasts that I tried have also helped – Bad Dice and Heelanhammer in particular. Nerdy yes, but not to the extent that I found with 40k.

I don’t see myself ever going to tournaments, but a few games down the local club yes. I’ve already decided to collect High Elves. There’s a recent army book for them and lots of discussion about them which helps me learn quicker and there’s already a decent starter set of models in the Warhammer starter set – Island of Blood.

I’ve just got Island of Blood and am already looking on eBay for a few cheap additions to make up a little army. That’s another 50 odd minis for me to paint. While I do that I’ll play a few games at the local club and will start reading the rules, army book and forums with extra gusto.

I do think this will be more of a hobby collection than anything else at the moment, but who knows? Give it a few years and I could have a few armies and be playing every week. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

When did we lose sight of the game?

Now that I’ve got more of my old gaming things out on display, I’ve been spending some time flicking through the various rule books and looking at the miniatures and it strikes me that something has changed. The game has gone. The fun has gone.

I’ve got the new Warhammer 40k 6th edition rulebook and I’ve got the 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle rulebook. At some point in the last 20 odd years something has changed.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know this change has happened. I’ve picked up enough from various podcasts and blogs and I can see with my own eyes how much Games Workshop has changed. But it really makes me sad that money has taken over what should be an enjoyable hobby. The old books included cardboard representations of units and special weapons for you to cut out, copy and use in battle. The Blood Bowl Companion book includes various templates and even includes a +2 bonus if y0ur cheerleader models are painted. This to me says that the important thing was to play the game, not buy the models. The best 40k or Fantasy Battle player shouldn’t be the one that can afford to buy and paint the best models or afford the most Codex supplements. In part that’s why I love Blood Bowl and why I think it is perfect. I need a minimum of 11 miniatures up to a maximum of 16. The rules are simple, I don’t need special terrain or carry cases to carry flyers. This isn’t about Blood Bowl though it’s the principle of gaming. Right back to D&D where you didn’t even need minis – the rules, a few dice, paper, pencil and you were away. I’m starting to explore the brave new world of tabletop, card and roleplaying games in the hope of finding some new loves. I know they are out there.

I don’t know when this change happened, but I know it’s not one that has made this a better world. I wonder how the original designers of these games must really feel now…deep down. Not in the glossy brochure that is White Dwarf. Looking at the pictures of them in the old rule books these are not people that needed miniatures to have a good time with tabletop games. The game is in the skill and imagination of the players.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle rule book

Warhammer Fantasy Battle rule book

Warhammer Fantasy Battle cut outs

Warhammer Fantasy Battle cut outs

Lonely gamers?

Now, I’ve not looked. I’m getting that out there straight away. I’m a married dad of one. My wife isn’t into ‘geeky’ stuff. I moved to a new area 6 months ago, and although I am making headways in terms of Blood Bowl, I am still a lonely gamer.

What is there for me?

I’ve been going through some of the contents of the old toy cupboard in preparation of moving it into my cave later this week. I’ve found my Warhammer Fantasy rulebook (1st ed I think) as well as the D&D Rules Cyclopedia from the same period. I love fantasy gaming. If I’m honest I love the background and story, hobby, elements more than the playing aspects. But, I still love to play. Double but, I don’t like the though of MMOs, I want to play on my own or with a few mates. Considering I don’t know anyone else like me (at the moment)…what games can I play? Where are the Massive Singleplayer Online games? Where are the card games for one? There must be more lonely gamers out there? I’ve got Blood Bowl Chaos Edition but that’s installed on my PC laptop not my Mac (that I use most). Suppose I can rectify that when the cave is opened. Given my recent debut with the Eshin Academy I think that would be a good move 😉

I love, love, love the hobby and fluff aspect – reading, purchasing, painting, building armies/teams/characters etc – and that will always continue. That’s about to have a rebirth of it’s now my time and money can focus on it.

But I want more!

40K anyone?

When I was a kid I played Warhammer (Fantasy) a little bit. We had a halfsized snooker table in one room in the house and my brother and I used to put a bit of chipboard on top and make hills out of foam for our battle scenes. I think there was a lot of Orcs vs Elves; but based on my digging in the old toy cupboard not a lot survived. 

We didn’t really ever get into 40K, although my brother did collect a few of the models. The closest I got to 40K was Space Marine. I think it’s just called Epic now. Something about that game really grabbed me and I used to play it with a friend quite a lot. 

I was looking over the gaming club’s forums and 40K seemed to be played quite a lot so I thought I’d investigate. I’ve just got myself a rulebook and will read it a few times before committing myself to collecting a new army. I’m not as enthused about it as I am about Blood Bowl. Time and money are massive drawbacks for me and 40K at the moment. I’ll keep it ticking along in the background I think. Warhammer is an altogether more serious game than Blood Bowl!