Warhammer World

Where does every self-respecting thirty year old get taken for their birthday by their wife? To Warhammer World of course.  I had been once before when I was much younger but I barely remember it and I was probably far too small to understand what was going on.  This time however, I fully appreciated everything I saw.

We went straight in to the exhibitions when we arrived and they were immaculately done.  It was nice to see a potted history of the various games using minatures and dioramas.

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Eldar vs Tyranids with a huge Eldar Titan dominating the centre

I’m not a huge fan of Age of Sigmar so I kind of glossed over that but I enjoyed all of the rest.  I particularly enjoyed this little scene depicting the classic Warhammer Quest.

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Another classic piece is this diorama of the Emperor vs Horus with Sanguinius having already fallen.

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My favourite display though is below.  It was bigger than I could get pictures of but it is essentially an entire Imperial Guard Tank Reigment, including a few super-heavies.

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All of the displays were magnificantly done and if you are a fan of the hobby you will be in your element.

After the exhibitions I explored the huge shops, including ones Black Library and Forge World.  The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful, including to my wife who didn’t really have a clue what was going on!

We finished with a bite to eat at Bugmans (the restaurant/bar) and enjoyed a surprisingly nice burger.  Finally I had a look at the life-size models outside including a rhino and a rather stoic looking space marine.

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All-in-all it was a really good day out and I recommend it for any fan of the hobby.

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Three Beers

I’ve been back to a spot of beer drinking in the last couple of weeks after a very fruitful trip to a few specialist beer shops.  The three beers below are all excellent beers.

 

First up is Smokey Horyzon by the Moor Beer Company who are based in Bristol.  This beer is described as a Smokey Rye Ale and comes in at 5%.  The beer comes in a can with a fairly stylish label.  The look of the beer is amber and murkey, with a smokey aroma (including a slight hint of bacon!).  The taste is smokey with a bit of fizz and a really nice aftertaste.  I’ve never had anything quite like it before but I’d get it again.

 

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Next up is the Wit from Pilot Series from the West Three Brewing Company in Swansea; it is an unfiltered Belgian style wheat beer.  The beer doesn’t have a description but I’d describe it as a pale ale and it comes in at 5%.  The bottle and label are simple yet distinctive, with the look of the beer when poured being golden and cloudy.  The aroma is slightly sour but also fresh (if that is even possible) and there is a hint of grapefruit and other tropical flavours.  The taste is as with the aroma, but there is a nice level finish and a good aftertaste.  Overall it is an excellent and interesting beer.  I’d be keen to try more from this brewery.

 

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Last but by no means least is an amazing beer from the Wild Beer Company who are based in Somerset.  The beer was called Rooting Around and it was an ultra pale ale where all the ingredients added for flavour were foraged from nearby the brewery.  The foraged ingredients are ‘leaves and buds + beech and linden trees’.  It comes in at a low 3% and the bottle is a typical Wild Beer Company style.  The look of the beer when poured was cloudy and the aroma was potent, but also fresh and citrusy.  The taste was exceptionally fresh, with light citrus elements as well as being a bit herby.  Overally it is a fantastic beer and very easy to drink – highly recommended.

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5 Best Breweries in Scotland

Scotland has a thriving brewing scene and now has some of the best breweries in the UK.  In no particular order, my favourites are the following:

 

Stewart Brewing

They are best just outside of Edinburgh and having lived in Edinburgh for a while, I was a fairly frequent visitor.  They do a wide selection of styles and their brewery shop is well worth the visit.  My particular favourite is the Cascadian East, an excellent American Pale ale.

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Isle of Skye Brewing Company

After holidaying on Skye last year, I discovered this great little brewery that has a few excellent beers.  I ended up ordering quite a supply from them and still do every now and again.  My favourite is the Skye IPA.

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Innis & Gunn Brewery

The standard Innis and Gunn ale was probably the first beer I ever started drinking properly.  I still go back to it quite often and have also tried most of the twists they have on the standard recipe.  You can pick a bottle of theirs up almost anywhere in the UK and it is worth a try, although it is a bit stronger than the average.  My favourite is the original but I also quite like the Irish Whiskey finish.

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Tempest Brewing

These guys are based in the Borders and they aren’t afraid to experiment with different flavours and try some brave new combinations.  A lot of these are excellent and I’d particularly recommend the Brave New World IPA.  You can find them in some supermarkets but you are best of trying specialist beer shops or online.

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Brewdog

Love them or hate them, Brewdog are a huge success story, with their beers and bars to be found all over the country.  I think the story sometimes obscures the beer but it has to be said, some of their beers are excellent.  My favourite is Dead Pony Club.

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Rediscovering Lord of the Rings Online

I first started playing Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) 10 years ago when it first came out.  I had dabbled in World of Warcraft but LotRO was my first true MMO and it blew me away.  The fact it was set in Tolkein’s world was amazing, but the gameplay at the time was pretty good as well.  I played for a couple of years at uni, then after a short break a few years after that as well.  I’ve taken about a 3/4 year break from playing it properly since then but in the last month I’ve come back it and I’m enjoying it as much as ever.

Part of the reason for coming back is that LotRO has finally reached Mordor.  As much as running around Mordor appeals to me, as much as anything I’m enjoying riding round all of the old areas, exploring and completing quests.  I haven’t even seriously ventured in to Mordor yet.  I’ve realised there is a lot of content I missed first time around and I’m making up for lost time now.

One of the main things I’m currently doing is playing through all of Volume 1 of the Epic Story, something I’ve only done once and a very long time ago.  It is easy to forget how good the story telling was on the Epic Story and I don’t think any other MMO has really matched it.  In fairness, no other MMO has had such epic source material!

Hopefully, assuming I keep my enthusiasm (!), I’m going to put some alternative guides to LotRO on here in the coming months.

Warhammer Games of the 00s

Coming in to the new millennium, the quantity and quality of Warhammer games remarkably improved.  The trailblazer during this period is probably Dawn of War, making Warhammer computer games finally accessible and acceptable to the mainstream.

 

2003 – Fire Warrior

A strange game in that you play as the main protagonist who is a Tau Fire Warrior; this was probably due to the Tau making their first appearance in the 40k universe only a couple of years beforehand.  I’ve never had the joy of playing it but I know it was an FPS and the reviews were on the average side.  If you want a copy, you might be able to find a hard copy somewhere on amazon or ebay.

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2004 – Dawn of War

Finally, the Warhammer game that brought the universe(s) to the mainstream.  Dawn of War (DoW) is a real-time strategy classic, even without it being Warhammer related.  The gameplay is good solid base-building and the combat is pretty good as well.  The single-player campaign as the Blood Ravens is immersive and the multi-player is epic.  I still occasionally give the game a whirl and I enjoy it just as much as I did when it first came out.  You get can get the game on steam for a very reasonable price – as you can with all the subsequent expansions.

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2005 – Dawn of War: Winter Assault

DoW with added Imperial Guard, both in a single-player campaign and in multi-player.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Imperial Guard, but this expansion didn’t do much for me.  One for the completionists out there if nothing else.

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2006 – Dawn of War: Dark Crusade

By far the best of the DoW expansions, Dark Crusade allows you to play as one seven races in a dynamic single-player campaign.  Never before had a 40k fan had so much choice on a video game.  The satisfaction in stomping your Necrons over everyone was a particular highlight of playing this.  I recommend this expansion in particular to any 40k or real-time strategy fans.

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2008 – Dawn of War: Soulstorm

Soulstorm is a good idea in principle but the execution was average and Dark Crusade had already done it and done it better.  The idea of Soulstorm was to have a sector wide dynamic campaign but with added Dark Eldar, Sisters of Battle and some flying units.  It was fine, but I find myself going back to Dark Crusade rather than this.  One really only for Dark Eldar and Sisters of Battle fans.

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2006 – Battle for Atluma

A collectible card game for PSPs – frankly I’d never heard it before doing this list and looking at the reviews, I won’t look at it again!

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2006 – Mark of Chaos

Mark of Choas is a fairly decent real-time strategy game set in the Warhammer Old World.  It features a good single-player story and campaign and reasonable multi-player.  I did play it a fair bit at the time but I can’t say I have really fond memeories of it in the same way I do with Shadow of the Horned Rat and Dark Omen.  I think it might be the lack of a character to warm to or maybe just the fairly average gameplay.  I might have gone back to it again but for Warhammer: Total War doing all of it but a thousand times better.  Best place to get it now is probably an old copy from Amazon or eBay.

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2008 – Battle March

Battle March is the expansion to Mark of Chaos and simply contains another single-player campaign and a couple of new races.  It is more of the same, no brilliant new features or gameplay.

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2006 – Glory in Death

This one was a turn-based strategy game with a focus on Space Marines.  It was for the N-Gage (!) – I don’t even remember what an N-Gage was.  Suffice to say, if you want to play this, it isn’t going to be easy!

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2007 – Squad Command

Yet another portable game (remember a world without smart phones?) and yet another mediocare one.  I did try this when I had a DS, but I wasn’t a fan!  Clunky gameplay and a frustrating camera really limited the enjoyment on this one.

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2008 – Age of Reckoning

Age of Reckoning was an MMORPG and a pretty fun one at that.  It wasn’t Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, but it did have its own unique style and I spent a fair bit of time playing it.  It was a shame that in 2013 the servers shut down but a free-to-play version, Return of Reckoning, has seen a resurrection of sorts for it through a very dedicated group of fans.  If you like Warhammer and you like MMOs then it is worth taking a look at.

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Blood Bowl and Dawn of War II (both 2009)

Technically cheating but I’m going to cover off both in the next in the series.

Beer Review – Battledown Beer

Just a short review today and this time it is for the excellent pale ale from Battledown Brewery.

The Battlldown Brewery are from the Cotswolds and fairly local to me – there is no bias from me though because they are local; there a plenty of bad local beers as well!

As for the beer itself, it comes in at 3.8% and has a surprisingly flowery label.  When poured it looks clear and golden, with a very pleasant aroma of honey.  The taste is excellent, being very refreshing and quite sharp, but in a very good way.  Overall it an excellent pale ale that is perfect for summer drinking.

 

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Pro Cycling Summary – July

I’m a bit late with July’s summary but life as ever gets in the way.  July obviously has the Tour de France and that has started to give a clear outlook to the best riders in the men’s peloton.

 

Men’s – July

  • Races
    • Stage races – 14
    • Stages – 94
    • One-day races – 22
    • World tour races – 3
  • Individuals
    • Wins – Kittel – 5
    • One-day wins – Shilov – 2
    • Stage wins – Kittel – 5
    • Distance won (km) – Kittel (1014.5)
    • Days in lead – Froome – 14
  • Teams
    • Wins – Quick-Step Floors – 5
    • One-day wins – Multiple – 2
    • Stage wins – Quick-Step Floors – 5
    • Stage races wins – BMC Racing – 2
    • Distance won (km) – Quick-Step Floors (1014.5)
    • Days in lead – Team Sky – 19
  • Countries
    • Wins – France – 14
    • One-day wins – Belgium – 6
    • Stage wins – France – 13
    • Stage races wins – Multiple – 2
    • Distance won (km) – Belgium – 2177.7
    • Days in lead – UK – 18
  • Rider of the month – Chris Froome for his Tour de France win

 

Men’s Overall

  • Individuals
    • Wins – Kittel – 13
    • One-day wins – Multiple – 4
    • Stage wins – Kittel – 12
    • Stage race wins – Multiple – 3
    • Distance won (km) – Kittel – 2329.4
    • Days in lead – Froome – 14
    • Points jerseys – Sagan – 4
    • Climber’s jerseys – Multiple – 2
    • Young rider’s jerseys – Bernal – 5
    • Time trial wins – Dennis – 4
  • Teams
    • Wins – Quick-Step Floors – 38
    • One-day wins – BMC Racing – 10
    • Stage wins – Quick-Step Floors – 30
    • Stage races wins – BMC Racing – 8
    • Distance won (km) – Quick-Step Floors – 6354
    • Days in lead – BMC Racing – 31
    • Points jerseys – Multiple – 5
    • Climber’s jerseys – Manzana Postobon – 5
    • Young rider’s jerseys – Andrioni Giocattoli – 5
    • Team jerseys – Movistar – 6
    • Team time trial wins – BMC Racing – 3
  • Countries
    • Wins – France – 92
    • One-day wins – Belgium – 26
    • Stage wins – France – 73
    • Stage races wins – France – 13
    • Distance won (km) – France – 14300.84
    • Days in lead – France – 53
    • Points jerseys – France – 10
    • Climber’s jerseys – France – 10
    • Young rider’s jerseys – Colombia – 11
  • Rider of the year so far – Dumoulin for his epic Giro win

 

Women’s – July

  • Races
    • Stage races – 5
    • Stages – 36
    • One-day races – 5
    • World tour races – 2
  • Individuals
    • Wins – Multiple -3
    • One-day wins – Tihar – 2
    • Stage wins – Sierra – 3
    • Distance won (km) – Winder – 220.7
    • Days in lead – Van der Breggen – 8
  • Teams
    • Wins – Multiple – 3
    • One-day wins – Multiple – 1
    • Stage wins – Multiple – 3
    • Distance won (km) – Rally Cycling – 326.1
    • Days in lead – Boels-Dolmans – 8
  • Countries
    • Wins – USA – 8
    • One-day wins – Multiple – 2
    • Stage wins – Multiple – 6
    • Distance won (km) – USA – 713.5
    • Days in lead – Netherlands – 9
  • Rider of the month – Van Der Breggen for her Giro Rosa win

 

Women’s Overall

  • Individuals
    • Wins – Multiple – 7
    • One-day wins – Multipe – 4
    • Stage wins – Winder – 5
    • Stage race wins – Multiple – 2
    • Distance won (km) – D’hoore – 779.8
    • Days in lead – Van Der Breggen – 8
    • Points jerseys – Multiple – 2
    • Climber’s jerseys – Hall – 2
    • Young rider’s jerseys – Multiple – 2
    • Time trial wins – Multiple – 2
  • Teams
    • Wins – Boels-Dolmans – 18
    • One-day wins – Multiple – 10
    • Stage wins – United Healthcare – 9
    • Stage races wins – Multiple 3
    • Distance won (km) – Boels-Dolmans – 1660.4
    • Days in lead – United Healthcare – 13
    • Points jerseys – Multiple – 2
    • Climber’s jerseys – United Healthcare – 3
    • Young rider’s jerseys – Cervelo-Bigla – 4
    • Team jerseys – United Healthcare – 3
    • Team time trial wins – Boels-Dolmans  2
  • Countries
    • Wins – Netherlands – 30
    • One-day wins – Netherlands – 15
    • Stage wins – USA – 17
    • Stage races wins – Netherlands – 5
    • Distance won (km) – Netherlands – 2919.88
    • Days in lead – Netherlands – 19
    • Points jerseys – Multiple – 2
    • Climber’s jerseys – USA – 3
    • Young rider’s jerseys – USA – 3
  • Rider of the month – Van Der Breggen for her general all-round dominance

 

Top 3 Kickstarter Games this Week

1. The Iron Oath by Curious Panda

A gritty turn-based RPG with a focus on tactics and the management of your guild within a dynamic world.

Funding Goal – $45,000 by Friday 8th September

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

 

2. Sole by Gossamer Games

Explore the remnants of great cities and uncover the history of an ancient civilization on your journey through the dark world of Sole.

Funding Goal – $15,000 by Sunday 3rd September

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

 

3. Jettomero by Ghostime Games

Jettomero is a visually striking and musically enticing video game about a giant clumsy robot trying to save the universe.

Funding Goal – $5,000 (Canadian) by Friday 1st September

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

A couple of wine reviews

First up is the Red Monastrell Salinas from Spain, coming in at 14%; we got this from Majestic.  The label is quite modern and stylish and the wine has an aroma of blackberries and out.  Tasting without food, it was too sharp and dry; I wouldn’t recommend drinking it on its own.  We then had it with steak and it was much better and fruitier.  We also had it with lamb neck the following day and it was even better.  Overall it was a good wine but not amazing and I would say there is probably better out there.

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Next is the Italian White,  2015 Greco di Tufo Triplica, coming in at 12.5% and again from Majestic.  It as a classic Italian Label and an aroma that is slightly herby and fruity.  Tasting without food it was tangy and fruity with a lovely finish.  We then had it with sage chicken legs and it was even better and smoother.  Overall it was a lovely wine and a great drinker, with or without food.

 

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Wine Review – Vendanges Nocturnes

An absolute corker of a wine this week – Vendanges Nocturnes – a 2016 Viognier coming in at 13%.  We got this excellent wine from Majestic.

As per usual with French wine’s the label is very traditional.  The aromas we got from the wine were light traces of pear and honey – very pleasant.  Tasting without food, the taste was initially light, gorgeously fragrant in the middle and then a surprisingly warming aftertaste.  We then had the wine with chicken, which softened it but it was still very nice.

Overall I can highly recommend this wine.

 

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