What we did at Games Day

First of all, let me say I haven’t counted up our I-Spy totals yet, though I plan on doing that tonight, so feel free to add your scores here. Who knows, there may be a prize involved (unless we win!). And you can read Games Day as it happened on the bookofgrudges twitter.  If you read the Games Day entries, you’ll get a feel for our coach journeys etc, ie. the boring stuff!

So once we got to Games Day we met up with Ardua from Echoes of Nonsense. He was easy to spot, luckily and he was already chatting to Paul. We exchanged Cherry Coke for chocolate (the blogger’s contract), and I said hi to Paul too just briefly while he was sitting at a little desk in front of a monitor continuously playing the trailer. He had to go to an interview with Eurogamer, and we wanted to check out some of the Warhammer stuff, so we went for coffee in the main room of the event. (Spinks: I demanded coffee at this point because I was a wreck from the early morning and coach. They propped me up in front of the Rhino noted below for pictures and then … coffee!!)

After coffee we had a look at some of the tables in Hall One, where the Black Library, Forgeworld and Author signings were. Ardua wanted to get some books signed, and I wanted to go look at the new books, so we parted briefly for that. They didn’t have enough cool Games Workshop related T-shirts or jewellery and I realised I’ve ordered them for my work library, so we didn’t buy anything. Then we went to check out the sale area (mostly sold out by the time we got there) and then Spinks checked Forgeworld. We decided to head back to GOA quickly.

GOA and THQ were situated in what we referred to as ‘a corridor’, because it was a corridor. The promised Rhino tank was next to the Dawn of War II stand and their trailer was getting a lot of attention. Because GOA had 24 PCs set up where everyone could see them and an orderly queue, it looked like a few less people – but I’d hazard a guess they had just as many if not more. Me and Spinks joined the queue and watched some of the gameplay. The game looked fantastic on the computers and monitors they brought with them.  We quickly worked out which computers were linked to the two bigger screens that the queuing people were watching and I nabbed one. Ardua caught with us when we got to play and I made a Squig Herder and did the initial Greenskin quests until the flying bit. I wanted people to see how much fun it was, and a lot of people just picked up whatever char the previous person left.

We took a moment to go look at the Games Workshop stands, check out the art competition and also look at the Golden Demon entries. Our favourite was in the diorama category and included some colourful multi-coloured squigs with spots on. (Spinks: I liked the purple one with yellow spots. And the one jumping out of a bush to bite a slayer on the bum. It wasn’t a prize winning entry but it made us laugh. We think they should have a section for comedy dioramas.) But seriously, there are some scarily talented people out there and it was great to see their work. We also went to the Arena and checked out the gaming tables and some of the amazing models and landscapes that were on show.

As we returned to GOA, Paul returned and asked if we were ready for an ‘interview’.  Ardua, realising we’re complete wimps, had organised this for us! And we went through to the GOA area and stood chatting with Paul in-between him having to dash off and talk to other people. More on what we talked about in a separate post. But he was charming, polite and adorable with his daughter. He also rushed off to help someone in the dwarf starting area who ‘wanted to fire that cannon’ (Paul’s words, but the guy was trying to work out what to do).

In one of the in-between times a couple of the people we know from Freddyshouse spotted us and asked the GOA staff if it was us! Incredible! So they came through to stand and chat with us and we got to meet Dervish from Covenant of Zak and Flimgoblin from Humberton Blackguard. Paul came back and there was another round of chat, videoing (if my vidskills are weak, the guys got much better footage I think), signings and hilarity.

The GOA staff told us we’d been spotted by a couple more people so we all moved over to chat to them and they were really nice too. Gave them guild details and had a bit of a warm-glow moment in the realisation that real people read the blog. So thanks to everyone who waved or spoke to us, seriously, it was humbling and awesome and you were all so nice!

Paul was nabbed for more interviews at some point and we were getting knackered so we went to the Arena to go watch the Golden Demon awards and then find our coach home.

Took quite a few photos and I’ll set up a Games Day flickr and just add them all to it, with little editing! Also, my brother-in-law is going to attempt to help me with the video footage I took yesterday and see if he can get it off the camera and show me how to edit it into clips. When that’s done, I’ll put it in our Youtube account. Yes, we have one, but we’ve never had any clips to show until now. I won’t tell you what kinds of things I videoed in case it all went horribly wrong – except to say that there’s some fun stuff in there!

No skaven skin cloaks, no T-shirts – but you know what? The GOA staff were incredible, and helpful and friendly and a little nervous about wearing big shirts with GOA on their backs. But I think we all managed to express our thanks for the game and that we really really want the European community to be as good as it can be. The guys manning the stall were actual GMs, and I think I prefer that to booth babes.  Oh, and we all got texts to say the headstart servers were delayed a little and then up and running just fine – so well done on a pretty damn smooth start to everyone! Especially GOA and Mythic, of course. (Spinks: The GOA guys were also cute and Irish, just saying … My husband texted to say ‘servers fine. am almost RR3 already!’ so we passed that on.)

Games Day (UK) I-Spy

I-Spy books were around a lot when we were growing up. Basically they were spotter’s guides that included points for everything you saw, in a little book you could helpfully write on (always fun as a child).

Anyway, in my excitement and nervousness about actually going to Games Day I decided to sit down and create for everyone a little I-Spy sheet to supplement other Games Day activities. Feel free to amend it for US events (you could even use it for Comic-con over the next couple of days). And I’m happy to take suggestions of things I may have missed!

Games Day I-Spy (Google Doc)

ps. the chocolate entry exists to make sure I personally get some points 🙂

Things to do at Games Day (UK), no. 1

Go to the Black Library stand and pick up their free 64-page sampler, which previews titles to be published in October and November. Leaf through Empire in Chaos which is due to be on sale at Games Day and decide if you can fit in a quick novel set in the Warhammer Online universe before the game’s release.

Bother authors for autographs. A bunch of them are due to be there including Dan Abnett, Nathan Long, Mike Lee and Gav Thorpe.

Games Day (UK) I-Spy

When we were kids there was a range of books called I-Spy books. In them, you got points for each thing you spotted. Each book had a theme, like ‘Wild animals’ or ‘Flowers’ and we loved them. They were great ways for a parent to keep a kid quiet and busy, but also playing a game and learning about the world around them. I just remember hours spent on journeys ticking off things we’d seen.

Anyway, less of the history lesson and nostalgia from me. I was bored, and thinking of things we might do at Games Day UK in September, and I decided to devise an I-Spy sheet with points and things to do! I’ve tried to include everything I know is happening, and have also added points for finding Josh Drescher/Mark Jacobs/Jeff Hickman even though I have no idea if they’ll be there. Will probably put up an amended file the week before the event, but here’s my first draft – feel free to make suggestions or amend for other events 🙂

ps. the chocolate is there to ensure I get some points!

Book Preview: Empire in Chaos

So maybe all this time-travelling has got to me, but I thought I’d take a look at the Warhammer Online novel that’s due to be published in September 2008 (make of that date what you will!). How can I provide such an insight you might ask? Well, those helpful people over at The Black Library have provided a 15-page excerpt to whet our appetites, so I thought I’d read through it and see if I felt hungry.

Written by Anthony Reynolds, Empire in Chaos is set firmly in the Warhammer Online universe, which distinguishes it from many Black Library releases. It’s listed as the first in a series of novels that take place in the MMORPG’s universe. Now, I’ve not read any of the World of Warcraft novels, so this is my first foray into computer game-related fiction, and of course, I’ve only got 15 pages to play with her. But it gave me enough of a taste to ask my local library to order it for me (ok, so it’s also my workplace, but for the record many libraries are happy to take suggestions!).

So, without further ado, here’s the overview of the novel:

When Annaliese Jaeger’s* village is overrun and destroyed by mutants, she and an injured elf captive are the only survivors. As the two unlikely companions fight their way towards Black Fire Pass, Annaliese discovers within herself powers of courage and faith that inspire all around her. With a grizzled witch hunter and a dwarf warrior, the heroes battle alongside the armies of the Empire and the dwarfs, above and below the earth, against greenskin tribes and the hordes of Chaos.

The extract provided comes from the start of the novel and describes in glorious detail the mutant attack on Annaliese’s village and her first interaction with the elf captive. It’s very well-written and the details of the horrors of the attack as well as the inhuman treatment of the elf in captivity really drew me into the action a lot more than I’d expected from such a short extract. And it made me think more about the setting for Warhammer Online, and how it’s actually a fairly horrific prospect for war to be everywhere.

The excerpt really captures how people would live and think and react within this universe, and as a fan of roleplaying (although more casual these days), it did make me smile and change how I feel about the idea of RvR in-game. I want to feel like I’m fighting for my life and that of my friends, family and everything I hold dear!

Anyway,  I am looking forward to this and the rest of the series; a set of Warhammer novels that’ll take place in our universe, one we’ll shape. 15 pages doesn’t take long to read, why not check it out and see what you think?

* Yes, she shares a surname with Felix from the Gotrek and Felix novels.. will be interesting to see where this heads.

Are games more fun when you know the lore?

There are two different types of tourist.

  • The well prepared tourist has read guides, made lists of things they want to see and do and planned out their holiday in advance. It may be a sketchy plan but it’s there. They may even have learned a few words of the local language and know which of the local delicacies they plan to sample. Perhaps they have watched films about their destination or even been inspired to go there from seeing the place featured in a favourite book, comic or TV show.
  • The accidental tourist travels with the aim of exploring. Maybe they have made some preparation but what they really want is to be surprised with new and exciting experiences to tell all their friends about when they get back.

I always feel like a tourist when I head into a MMORPG for the first time. I like to know about the lore so that I can have the fun of recognising places and people if I see them in game. If someone made a game set in the town where I live, I’d enjoy “walking” around it in the virtual world, even though I could go outside and see it in real life.

For Warhammer, I’ve been reading some of the Black Library books to get a feel for the setting. I really noticed the effect of this when I was reading this month’s newsletter. Every other paragraph, I caught myself stopping to think something like “Wait, I read about that!”, “Ooo, that looks like a rat ogre, that was in my book!”, “That sounds like one of the daemons I read about … and it’s going to be in that dungeon! Wow, cool!”. I don’t know how excited I really am about the Warhammer setting per se but I am very intrigued at seeing how the world I’ve been reading about will be brought to life.

Of course, a graphical setting can be breath-taking whether or not you know the lore behind it. It’s nothing to do with how hardcore a player you are or whether you roleplay in game; an awesome visual is a visceral experience, and a well-written storyline can engage anyone who reads it (this is why even in a game like WoW, you can ask people if they have a favourite quest and most of them will pick the well written ones.)

Do you prefer to research the lore before you play a game that is set in an existing ‘world’?

Book Review: Gotrek and Felix — The First Omnibus

Gotrek & Felix, by William King

Gotrek shrugged. He glanced to the door. The archway was filled with green-skinned marauders, advancing behind their grinning moon banners. Felix slid the Sigmarite sword smoothly from its sheath. A thrilling musical note sang out. The runes across its blade blazed brightly. For a second the goblins hesitated.

Gotrek looked over at Felix and grinned, “This is going to be a truly heroic death, manling. My only regret is that none of my people will ever get to hear of it.”

This omnibus collects together the first three books of adventures of Gotrek Gurnisson, the battle-hardened dwarf trollslayer and his associate Felix Jaeger, warrior-poet of Altdorf. They’ve become two of the most iconic characters in Warhammer fiction. The books are great, and if they weren’t tied to a game-based IP, they’d be widely recognised as some of the best swords and sorcery fiction ever written.

The adventures are exciting, the characters spring to life, and the strange gothic undertone that gives Warhammer its distinctive flavour seeps out of every page. This is an Empire where hunger and war are familiar gnawing fears, where madness and corruption lurk in the shadows, where politics turns brother against brother, and where even the most high born can sell out their own kin to the lords of chaos.

Book 1: Trollslayer.

In a a travelogue written as a collection of short stories, Gotrek and Felix break up a Chaos cult during a sacred festival, travel to the lands of the border princes with a dispossessed count and his people, seek treasure and vengeance beneath the dwarf city of Karak Eight Peaks, and battle one of Chaos’ chosen warriors and her beastman retinue. Along the way, the Empire itself comes to life. The tough, determined humans. The oath-bound, honorable dwarfs. The subtle corruptions of chaos, and the savage greenskins.

Book 2: Skavenslayer.

The trollslayer and his companion settle briefly in Nuln, a large and prosperous city of the Empire. With no coins to their name, they start by earning their way as sewer tunnel clearers … and encounter the Skaven for the first time. Unlike the first book, this isn’t a collection of unlinked stories. The Skaven are plotting to overthrow Nuln, and Gotrek and Felix are drawn unwillingly into their plots.

One faction of Skaven wants to use the adventurers to foil another faction. Felix has to deal with a brother he hasn’t seen for many years who is now among the city’s wealthiest merchants. And who is the mysterious Doctor Drexler who seems so familiar with combatting chaos plagues? As the plots thicken, the whole city is threatened by plague and by starvation until finally the full force of the Skaven army is unleashed … from beneath the city itself.

Book 3: Daemonslayer.

In an epic story Gotrek gets together with two other trollslayers and a dwarf army to carry out a crazy plan which takes them beyond the ends of the civilised world. In a huge dwarfish airship, they plan to sail out to the Chaos Wastes to fulfil an old oath to a long abandoned dwarf city, to search for treasure and survivors, and of course for a heroic death. And yet, when they get there, Gotrek finds that his coming was foretold and that a great doom is upon them all.

It’s another well-told story with vivid, memorable characters. And yes, the dwarf engineers get their moments of glory here too. What’s even better is that the biggest baddest daemon of them all, a Bloodthirster of Khorne … is going to be in the game (read about it here) so we can also follow in G&F’s footsteps.

In summary, all I can really say is that if you want to read more about Warhammer and get a sense of the setting, READ THIS BOOK. And I’m really looking forwards to seeing Gotrek and Felix again in the pub at Aldorf!

Book Reviews: Heldenhammer & Grudge Bearer

These reviews mark our first forays into the Black Library, novels based in the Warhammer universe. We hope to read quite a few to help us, and perhaps others, get a taste of the rich world the game draws lore from.

Heldenhammer by Graham McNeill

At the heart of the Old World lie the lands of men, ruled over by bickering tribal chieftains.

Set in the time of legends, hundreds of years before the Age of Reckoning, this is the story of Sigmar Heldenhammer, young chieftain of the Unberogen tribe. We follow the epic tale of how he fulfils his vision to unite the warring tribes of his homeland into a single empire. Yes, this is the same Sigmar who is currently worshipped as a god by the men and women of the Empire.

As well as uniting the disparate tribes by means involving diplomacy, wild sex (yes really), and monster slaying, he finds time to pick up a magic hammer from the dwarf king, acquire and lose a love interest, exchange smalltalk with his shield brother, and deal with a traitor who was once a trusted friend. Finally, in order to repel a massive greenskin assault, Sigmar must call on the sword-oaths which the other tribal leaders have sworn to him and lead the men of the Empire to fight alongside the stalwart dwarf army at the Battle of Black Fire Pass.

With all these epic adventurings, there isn’t a lot of time for character development so don’t expect anything deep here. The battle scenes are exciting and well described, and the atmosphere of the savage warring human tribes is convincing. If you’re interested in the history of the Empire and their alliance with the Dwarfs, it’s not a bad way to pass a few hours.

Grudge Bearer by Gav Thorpe

This gold Barundin had dubbed dammazgromthi-umigugalaz, which meant gold that he found particularly pleasing and beautiful because it was from the man grudge

My first foray into Warhammer literature was the book Grudge Bearer by Gav Thorpe, published in 2005. Obviously, from the title, it’s a dwarf-centric book and deals with the life and grudges of King Barundin of Zhufbar as he goes from grudge to grudge, settling each in turn as dwarf life and lore dictates so he can finally seek vengeance over his father’s betrayal.

It’s better written than I thought a game-related book would be, and it definitely gave me a ton of insight into dwarf society and got me quite excited by it all. I loved that the book was divided into grudges, and I felt that it was a great book to start with for some hearty dwarf-lore and setting. From the connection between dwarfs and gold to the strict order of carrying out grudges, and the importance of both the Engineers’ Guild and beer, I learned a lot.

Ironbreakers, Hammerers, Skaven, Greenskins and the Empire all made appearances and there was a particularly icky battle scene between Dwarfs and Skaven inside an old Dwarf mine which definitely gave a sense of what’s to come in WAR. So I’d say a damn good place to start if you fancy playing a Dwarf and want a short, easy-to-read intro into the setting.