As we near the end of 2019 a number of blogs have started posting roundups of the year that was. We’re no exception, with part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this year’s Top 50 List being posted thus far. One post that I really enjoyed reading was Plastic Craic’s 2019 roundup. I liked for the format, so I thought I’d have a go at a similar post.
Podcast of the year
There is no contest for me. I like lots of podcasts, but there’s only one where I actively watch out for each episode dropping. This podcast is Game Classy.
Joe and Steve are the hosts of this gaming podcast which occasionally mentions games. This is not a criticism as their tangents are usually pretty entertaining. They seem to share a similar worldview to me on several different topics, but we do differ on our opinion of Malifaux! This podcast is a lot of fun, probably not safe for work, and definitely worth your time. At the time of writing, their latest episode was actually their 200th one!
Homebrew RPG of the Year
There are a couple of interesting contenders in this category, with the Warcraft 5E project representing a damn good piece of work. The winner though, for making such a usable supplement for an existing game is this conversion of Changeling: the Dreaming, bringing it into line with the latest edition of the World of Darkness:
As I mentioned in my review, the conversion guide is a very practical document that provides a working version of the game without pinching any content from other sources. It instead relies on your owning the 5th edition core book for Vampire: the Masquerade and the 20th Anniversary Edition of Changeling: the Dreaming. It’s also a thing of beauty, incorporating photographic art and other design cues that match the style of the latest WoD publications, but also not losing that Changeling feel. This felt like an incredibly professional, polished piece of work.
My RPG One-Shot of the Year
I have played in a lot of one-shots this year, which has been an absolute treat! In particular, I got to play 5 different games at this year’s Tabletop Scotland event. I loved all of these games, and it’s difficult to choose a favourite. It would probably come down to either our game of Vampire: the Masquerade or They Came From Beneath the Sea. Both were great sessions with great groups and great GMs. I think the winner will have to be They Came From Beneath the Sea. The deciding factor is that this was new to me and therefore really interesting, whereas I already knew a lot about Vampire and was already a huge fan.
They Came From Beneath the Sea fulfilled its promise of allowing us to play in the world of 1950s B-Movies. It probably helped that the GM was the game’s designer, Matthew Dawkins. I really liked how the game worked. It was very familiar because it uses the Storypath system which is based on White Wolf’s Storyteller and Storytelling systems. I enjoyed the B-Movie touches, like having players trigger effects like missing scenes, shoddy sets, body doubles and the like. The game itself, the GM, and the lovely group all combined into a really great one-shot RPG.
Achievement Unlocked of the Year
This blog! I can’t say that it’s quite what I want it to be at the moment, but I’m heading in the right direction. My average word count per article is above 1000 words, in line with my wish to keep articles reasonably substantive, and I’ve started in recent months to do a few reviews. I’ve long said I wanted to do reviews, so I’m glad that I’ve finally started to follow up on this. I’m not intending to review the newest things, because I rarely find my way to these items. I’m as happy reviewing a bit of homebrew as I am reviewing a more recent RPG book or a supplement from decades ago. I just like to share what I’ve been reading. I was worried that, for a while, the blog was just 5 on Friday posts and overviews of RPG bundles from Bundle of Holding and Humble Bundle, but I’ve gotten a bit better recently.
Traffic isn’t that important to me, but it’s nice to know that more people are reading what I put out. Sure enough, traffic has pretty much doubled year-on-year since starting out in 2016. I’ve also closed my other blogs since then and focus entirely on this one.
Going forward, I’d like to return to my original intention, which was for this to be a group blog. It’s why I often use the term ‘we’ when referring to the blog, as that was how we started out. I’d like to look into getting more voices on here by bringing in other writers. The blog is very much a hobby, but it’s one I’ve been enjoying a lot over the past few months, and I’m gratified that the traffic increases reflect the increased effort that I’ve been putting in.
Battletome of the Year
Ooh, tricky one… There were two Battletomes that I was really looking forward to this year. Both were actually from very early in the year, with the Gloomspite Gitz coming out on January and the Skaven in February. Of these, the one I loved the most, and which offered something that was really new, was the Gloomspite Gitz Battletome.
The new Troggoths, the Squigs and the classic Night Goblins all give cool options for running different types of army. I would love to do a Squig army, myself. Then, like, maybe branch out into some Troggoths… and maybe paint up some more of the old Night Goblins I have… damnit! I see where this is going…
The Slaves to Darkness book looks really good as well, but I am unlikely to really see it until the new year.
Battletome Review of the Year
This isn’t me just sucking up to Plastic Craic after stealing this post format. Their huge, multi-part review of the new Orruk Warclans book is definitely the winner of this category.
You can click here to visit the Orruk Warclans book category at Plastic Craic, in which all of the parts of the review can be found. It’s a thorough, entertaining and well-written series of posts.
Non-GW Boxed Set of the Year
Games Workshop has been hitting it out of the park over and over with their boxed sets. They’re good value, they’re full of beautiful minis and they sell out damn quickly. They’re all amazing products. But what about other companies? Well, I actually have two choices for this category. One from a game I dearly love and one from a game in which I’ve never really taken much of an interest.
Corvus Belli does some lovely starter sets. A few months back, they released their latest 2-player starter set, Operation: Wildfire. Operation: Wildfire contains starting forces for the O-12 Human Sphere Police and the Combined Army’s Shasvastii Infiltrators. The set also includes a Sálvora Governmental Complex Scenery Pack. Take a look:
Gorgeous, innit? The minis look great, as usual for Infinity miniatures. The terrain is also really cool. It’s more varied and interesting than the usual, boxier terrain of previous cardboard terrain packs from Corvus Belli.
The other set that more of a surprise to me is the new starter set for the third edition of Mantic’s Kings of War. I know that there aren’t many new miniatures in this set, but take a look at the contents:
There are two very pretty armies in that set, with 44 miniatures for each. The Nightstalkers are fantastic horror-themed miniatures with ghosts and scarecrows and some big ol’ beasties thrown in for good measure. They’d look at home in tons of games, even if you’re not that into Kings of War. The Northern Alliance miniatures are even nicer. I love the clansmen/pack hunters, which I’ve picked out above with an individual picture. They are detailed and exude personality. I’ve always found Mantic’s miniatures to be a bit hit-or-miss, but this box is just full of hits, and all for a really reasonable price tag!
Scenery of the Year
TTCombat is a great company. I love their MDF terrain because it represents the most fantastic value for money. Any previous concerns about the quality that you get for that money have dissipated over the past couple of years. They’ve upped their game considerably, but the prices have stayed pretty low. They’ve put out loads of great stuff this year, but my favourite new range is their Savage Domain fantasy line:
Whether for Mordheim, Age of Sigmar, Frostrave, Warcry, or any of a host of other Fantasy tabletop games, these buildings are perfect. They also have a grid on them, meaning they’re ideal for D&D and similar RPGs. My terrain goal for the moment is to finish up my sci-fi board, but after that, I’d be keen to look into this range for a fantasy one. It’s certainly not going to cost that much if I go with TTCombat! Could they just start sponsoring me, already?
Batrep of the Year
I’m still a big fan of Guerilla Miniature Games and l, although I do watch other battle reports, I love what Ash puts out on his channel. It’s hard to pick, but I think my favourite of his battle reports from this year was their Sylvaneth versus Gloomspite Gitz video for Age of Sigmar:
These are two armies that I really like and it’s fun to see them facing off against each other. Ash always makes the games just seem so much fun, and is so natural with the camera. It particularly cool to see the Mangler Squig in action!
There was also a close second, with another Gloomspite Gitz video. This time it was a game of Warcry against the Stormbois:
Again, it’s fun to see the goblins in action. I was interested to see how the Squig Hoppers would perform in Warcry. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’d like to pick up some Gitz, and the fact that they can be used in Warcry is a big plus. The battle was a lot of fun to watch.
Worst Mini of the Year
Miniatures get better every year, whether they’re from Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Corvus Belli, Mantic, or a host of smaller companies. There aren’t that many outright ‘bad’ miniatures being released. There are a few boring ones, though. Take the Fyreslayer Magmic battleforge as an example of this:
I mean, it looks fine, I guess? It’s just this big, bronze, bland… thing. A chunk of plastic. As a terrain piece it might look at home as part of a larger forge building, or maybe it would fit more with the very bronze Kharadron Overlords or the more static-looking Dispossessed. It just doesn’t seem to quite fit with the more dynamic Fyreslayers.
Miniature of the Year
I have a couple of choices for this one, and each of the two choices represents a range, rather than an individual miniature. My first choice is Sister Superior Amalia Novena, the early-release battle sister that I’m using to represent the new plastic Sisters of Battle miniatures from Games Workshop:
The new Sisters look fantastic. They are suitably ornate and feminine without being overly (or overtly) sexualised, as female miniatures often are in this industry. I wonder if that’s down to the influence of Steve Buddle, who joined GW as a sculptor a few years back. He was always good with appropriately proportioned female minis. Maybe it’s not him, but I like to think of him making his mark. I love the Battle Sister range and I’m looking forward to the full release next year!
My other choice comes from the wonderful Warcry range. All of the Warcry sets look great, but my favourite is probably the Corvus Cabal:
Brilliant, no? These miniatures manage to have differently armed and admired miniatures that nevertheless carry a unified central theme. The highlight of the line is the fully-feathered, winged chap clutching his wings and looking ready to swoop. This is the highlight of a great range.
That’s All, Folks!
2019 was a turbulent year in a lot of ways. Certainly, it was a bit of a rollercoaster for the UK, and whatever your political position, it’s likely to stay that way for a while to come.
Hobbywise, it was also a very mixed bag for me, though it’s been positive overall. I got to play a lot more RPGs, but I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be in painting my miniatures or getting them to the table more often. Similarly, I played fewer board games as more time went towards RPGs. This isn’t a bad thing, but there are some games on my shelf that I’m really keen to play next year. I’ll probably do a post on this before Hogmanay.
I quite liked doing this post. I think it will become an annual thing. Let’s see if I can find some interesting new categories for next year.