Total War Warhammer II – Initial Thoughts

I’m always a little bit sceptical about glowing reviews of a game but for once, I am in total agreement with most people out there about how brilliant TW:W2 is.  I really enjoyment the first installment in the series but this is a big step forward.

There are a few reasons in my opinion as to why it is so good:

  • Uniqueness of each race
  • The campaign map and campaign features
  • The Story

 

Uniqueness of Each Race

In the first game, each race was unique but they were all on a fairly normal stereotype, e.g. dwarfs are good in defence and orcs are mindless attacking killing machines.  In contrast, in TW:W2, each race is completely different and I don’t think any of them really follow a stereotype.

I’ve spent most of my time playing as the High Elves and the Lizardmen so far.  Despite the quickness of the High Elves, they actually work really well as a defensive army.  This is mainly due to their amazing archers and bolt throwers, all arrayed behind a wall of spears, and then some swift cavalry and flying units to go round the flanks / from above.  If you are a beginner, or even a fan of dwarfs (blasphemy!) then the High Elves are probably the best faction for you to start as.

The Lizardmen are something completely different.  I found myself using them more like an over-powered orc army, supported by some competent skirmishers…and massive dinosaurs!  It doesn’t really suit my style of play but I really enjoyed attacking hordes of skaven with my saurus warriors and a pretty furious stegadon.  For pure enjoyment levels, the Lizardmen are a good choice.

I played a little bit as the skaven and where they really shine is their crazy war machines and ranged units.  They are quite annoying to fight against as they just keep coming back again and again…and again.  As for the Dark Elves, I’ve only really fought against them but I think they are probably the army to choose for more advanced players.  They seem to have a lot of non-traditional hybrid units, that make for a flexible army but probably quite difficult to balance correctly.

 

The Campaign Map

The map is brilliant, spanning four continents and a huge ocean.  It feels bigger than the Old World but I think in part, that is because each faction is using it more fully.  In comparison, the Old World had most of the south-west of it controlled by non-player factions that had no unique units.

My favourite game so far has been as the Lizardmen faction – the Last Defenders.  They start on the east side of the Southlands continent and already have fought skaven, orcs and the undead, whilst encountering/allying with high elves, wood elves, dwarfs and humans.

I’ve also enjoyed the rogue armies popping up – playing as Teclis for the High Elves, a human army of pirates came out of nowhere and almost took me out as I was recovering from a huge battle against some Lizardmen.  Although quite frustrating at the time, the battle was really enjoyable and the randomness of the event kept me on my toes in-case it happened again.

A small feature, but one greatly appreciated, is the shipwrecks throughout the sea areas.  There is a lot of sea to travel across and having these small little shipwreck events really break it up nicely.  I was lucky enough at one point to get a 5000 gold bonus from one of them that allowed me to quickly recruit some units to fight off an enemy incursion.

 

The Story

The final element that makes this such a good game is the story.  Having it as less of a sandbox and with an end game has given a real focus to this game.  The stress of defending your cities whilst performing a rite is worth it for the epic battles that often occur because of it.  Now I haven’t completed the game as any of the factions yet, but the end goal makes me actually want to finish the game; not something I would often do in the first game.

 

Conclusion

The game is epic and worth every penny.  I look forward to the Mortal Empires DLC to have the old sandbox experience, but I think I will still come back to this story-driven campaign even after that is released.  I hope the developers continue with the excellence that they have produced here, both for future DLC and for Total War: Warhammer 3.

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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.

cascadian east

 

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.

ipa-bottles

 

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.

Innis-Gunn-Irish-Whiskey-Finish.jpg

 

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.

bnw---smallr

 

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.

1502306662bot_deadpony

Cycling Review June

June is a busy month in pro cycling but is mainly the calm before the storm that is the Tour de France for men and the Giro Rosa for women.  There are also all the national championships that mean every country gets a couple of winners this month!

 

Men – June

  • Races
    • World Tour – 2
    • Stage Races – 22
    • Stages – 104
    • One-day – 100
  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • One-day wins – Multiple riders with 2
    • Stage wins – Malucelli with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – De Gent with 5
    • Distance won – Demare with 620km
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Bora – Hansgrohe with 10
    • One-day wins – Bora – Hansgrohe with 6
    • Stage wins – Multiple teams with 6
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple teams with 10
    • Distance won – Bora – Hansgrohe  with 1653.9km
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Multiple countries with 15
    • One-day wins – Belgium with 7
    • Stage wins – France with 12
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple countries with 11
    • Distance won – Belgium with 2209km
  • Rider of the month – Demare with his impressive victories, including in the Criterium and French Nationals

Women – June

  • Races
    • World Tour – 1
    • Stage Races – 1
    • Stages – 6
    • One-day – 74
  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Noskova with 3
    • One-day wins – Noskova with 3
    • Stage wins – Multiple riders with 1
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Niewiadoma with 3
    • Distance won – Noskova with 220km
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Boels-Dolmans with 7
    • One-day wins – Multiple teams with 5
    • Stage wins – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – WM3 Energie with 4
    • Distance won – Boels-Dolmasn with 447km
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Multiple countries with 4
    • One-day wins – Multiple countries with 3
    • Stage wins – Australia with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Poland with 4
    • Distance won – Netherlands with 434
  • Rider of the month – Niewiadoma with her Tour of Britain win

Men – Season So Far

  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Multiple riders with 8
    • One-day wins – Van Avermaet with 4
    • Stage wins – Gaviria with 8
    • Stage race wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Dumoulin with 9
    • Distance won – Valverde with 1449.4km
    • Points jerseys – Multiple riders with 3
    • Climbers jerseys – Multiple riders with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Bernal with 4
    • Time trial wins – Dennis with 4
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Quick-Step Floors with 33
    • One-day wins – BMC Racing with 10
    • Stage wins – Quick-Step Floors with 25
    • Stage race wins – Multiple teams with 6
    • Days in lead of a stage race – BMC Racing with 28
    • Distance won – Quick-Step Floors with 5339.5
    • Points jerseys – Multiple teams with 4
    • Climbers jerseys – Manzana Postobon with 5
    • Young riders jerseys – Multiple teams with 4
    • Team Time Trial wins – BMC Racing with 3
    • Team classification wins – Movistar with 6
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – France with 78
    • One-day wins – Italy with 21
    • Stage wins – France with 60
    • Stage race wins – Multiple countries with 11
    • Days in lead of a stage race – France with 47
    • Distance won – France with 12106.54km
    • Points jerseys – France with 10
    • Climbers jerseys – France with 8
    • Young riders jerseys – Colombia with 10
  • Rider of the season so far – A hard choice between Valverde, Van Avermaet and Dumoulin – a tie I think

Women – Season So Far

  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – D’Hoore with 6
    • One-day wins – Lepisto with 4
    • Stage wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • Stage race wins – Multiple riders with 1
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple riders with 5
    • Distance won – D’Hoore with 652.8km
    • Points jerseys – Majerus with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – Hall with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Klein with 2
    • Time trial wins – Moolman with 2
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Boels-Dolmans with 17
    • One-day wins – Multiple teams with 5
    • Stage wins – Boels-Dolmans with 7
    • Stage race wins – Multiple teams with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – United Healthcare with 9
    • Distance won – Boels-Dolmans with 1536.4km
    • Points jerseys – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – Multiple teams with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Cervelo-Bigla with 3
    • Team Time Trial wins – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Team classification wins – Multiple teams with 2
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Netherlands with 23
    • One-day wins – Netherlands with 14
    • Stage wins – USA with 11
    • Stage race wins – Netherlands with 3
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple countries with 10
    • Distance won – Netherlands with 2382.1km
    • Points jerseys – Multiple countries with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – USA with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – USA with 3
  • Rider of the season so far – Still Anna Van Der Breegan for her Ardennes triple

Top 3 Kickstarter Games this Week

1. Astrobase Command by Jellyfish Games

As the invisible administrative hand of an Astrobase in a forgotten corner of the universe, your crew depend on you for their survival.

Funding Goal – $40,000 (Canadian) by Friday 26th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

2. Soul’s Light by Nick Butera

Journey deep into Alina’s nightmares to find her Soul’s Light and defeat insidious Mr. Grinny, while uncovering Alina’s own dark past.

Funding Goal – $25,000 by Saturday 27th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

3. Nova Drift by Jeffrey Neilsen

A fluid and frenetic arcade shooter. Control an endlessly adaptable bio-mechanical ship, survive enemy onslaughts, and cross the void.

Funding Goal – $6,000 by Friday 26th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

Top 5 Kickstarter Games this Week

1. The Man Came Around by Pipette Inc

A Survival Game about moral dilemmas, hardships and the failure of democracy. Will you sacrifice your principles in order to survive?

Funding Goal – €10,000 by Thursday 11th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

2. Hellpoint by Cradle Games

Hellpoint is an occult sci fi RPG with split-screen multiplayer. Investigate a derelict space station orbiting a mysterious black hole.

Funding Goal – $50,000 (Canadian) by Wednesday 10th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

3. War of Velana by Loreweaver Creativeworks

War of Velana is a tactical RPG inspired by the 16-bit era and refined through modern gameplay and system design.

Funding Goal – $15,000 by Saturday 6th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

4. Eagle Island by Nick Gregory

With your loyal owl and falconry skills, explore a procedurally generated island. An adventure platformer for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Funding Goal – £20,000 by Tuesday 16th May

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

5. Super Plexis by Medley Studio

Inspired by games like Tetris Attack, Puzzle League, and Meteos: a twist on the puzzle fighter formula with classic 16-bit SNES flair!

Funding Goal – $6,000 by Saturday 6th May

Kickstarter Link

Top Kickstarter Games this Week

1. RUIN by Tarhead Studio

RUiN is a Top-Down Arcade Style Arena Brawler where you select your own set of abilities and battle it out on deadly arenas.

Funding Goal – 100,000 (SEK) by Thursday 9th March

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

 

2. Mutant Football League by Digital Dreams Entertainment

The wildest, goriest, most outrageous football game ever!

Funding Goal – $60,000 by Tuesday 7th March (already achieved!)

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

 

3. Die for Valhalla! by Monster Couch

You are a Valkyrie, a ghostly witch, sent by the gods to help Vikings save their world.

Funding Goal – $5,600 by Thursday 9th March

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

 

4. No Mercy: For Lorne Hope by Multivarious Games

Fight for a forest under siege in this brawler for PC+Mac+Linux. Hope lies with your team—at a grave cost. What will you sacrifice?

Funding Goal – $30,000 by Thursday 16th March

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

5 Best Greenlight Games this Week

1. Steam: Railes to Riches

The official version of one of the best board games – Steam™: Rails to Riches.
Take control of a railway company, issue shares, build railroads, deliver goods along an ever changing network of tracks and stations and make profit to expand.

Greenlight Link

2. Nevrosa

You woke up in a strange place — is it a dream or reality? What do you need to do? Are you alone here?

Original puzzles, dark atmosphere and creepy creature locked with you will help you to prepare for the upcoming full experience.

Greenlight Link

3. Age of Resurgence

Set in a new and vibrant fantasy world, Age of Resurgence is a real-time strategy game which focuses on presenting classic RTS gameplay while reintroducing the importance of the player as the commander of its forces.

Greenlight Link

4. Steel Empire

Steel Empire is a steam punk shoot’em up game featuring a frantic combat filled with powerful enemies and insane obstacles. Enjoy a beautiful world and retro game-play as you dodge and shoot your way through classical stages. Choose one of 4 difficulty settings according to your set of skills and fight the evil empire! See how well you did using the Replay Mode and show your worth by getting all achievements.

Greenlight Link

5. Stars of Icarus

Stars of Icarus is a 2D Roguelike Space Shooter with a skill based combat system. Explore, loot, craft and fight your way through a mix of procedural and hand-crafted levels. Upgrade your ship with newfound technology, weapons and items crafted from the resources you gather.

Greenlight Link

Thoughts on Deathwatch by Ian St Martin

I’ve stuck to pretty much only reading three series by the Black Libary over the last few years: the Horus Heresy, Space Marines Battles and (this year at least) the Beast Arises.  Last week though, I thought I’d give a one-off novel a go, and with the recent Deathwatch releases I thought Deathwatch by Ian St Martin was the way to go.

In summary, I thought the book was a really good and engaging read.  I didn’t quite know what to expect from one of the Black Library’s newest authors but I am pleasantly surprised with how good the style of writing was.  The book didn’t just descent in to endless fight scenes but instead nicely focussed on the kill-team dynamics and the wider situation.

The context the novel was set in was very interesting, it being in the most present and up-to-date history of the 40k universe, with Hive Fleet Leviathan going toe-to-toe with the Ork Empire of Octarius due to the machinations of Inquisitor Kryptman.  The question of how to deal with the mess this created is the main driving force for the story.

The characters are very well written and fleshed out, particularly Watch-Captain Artemis.  Off the back of this I think Ian St Martin should look at doing a novel about the Mortifactors Chapter that Artemis is part of. Also of interest were Rogerio the Crimson Fist and Hyphantes the Scythe of the Emperor; the recent tragedies of their chapters and the references to those made them all the more interesting.

Although limited the human element added to the story.  The tremendous loss that the humans are faced with vs their duty was very poignant; a particular highlight of the novel was the confrontation between Artemis and Admiral Nearchus that focused on this conflict.

As for the xenos, Ian St Martin conveys a feeling that they are entirely unstoppable and that the Imperium will be in huge trouble should their eyes turn upon it.  The descriptions of the space battles between the orks and tryanids are awesome and a nice change to see xenos vs xenos battles.

All in all, I highly recommend this book as a one-off and I will be seeking out future works by Ian St Martin.

Best battle/fight – the final confrontation with the Overfiend

Best non-battle/fight part – the aforementioned confrontation between Artemis and Admiral Nearchus

Where to buy – the Black Library website – here

Further reading

By Ian St Martin:

Further Deathwatch Reading:

Thoughts on Armageddon

This week’s thoughts are on Armageddon by Aaron Demski-Bowden; two stories specifically following Black Templars Chaplain Grimaldus and his efforts during the third war for Armageddon.  Aaron is one of my favourite authors and this book does not dissapoint.

Setting the Scene

As the short blurb from the Black Library website says: A pair of tales from Armageddon. Black Templars Chaplain Grimaldus defends Helsreach Hive and tries to prevent the extinction of the Celestial Lions Chapter

The book includes two stories:

Helsreach – An awesome siege battle with a handful of Black Templars fighting alongside the Imperial Guard to save Helsreach Hive.

Blood & Fire – A change of pace following Grimaldus as he tries to find a way to save the Celestial Lions Chapter from the machinations of the Inquisition.

My Thoughts

It is a cracking read from start to finish.  As usual with the author, there is just the right amount of balance between carnage, intrigue and relationships.  This makes it an engaging and easy read, as well as highly enjoyable.

Avoiding spoilers, my top 5 highlights were:

  1. Grimaldius’ doubts about his ability
  2. The Salamanders intervention
  3. The final charge of the Celestial Lions
  4. The reawakening of an awesome Adeptus Mechanicus weapon
  5. Grimalduis’ relationship with the Adeptus Titanicus

Also a special mention to the fight at Helsreach’s docks with the volunteer dockworkers fighting alongside Black Templars.

Read this if you like…

  • Armageddon (…)
  • Black Templars
  • Orks
  • Sieges
  • Titans

Where to Get

From the Black Library website as either an ebook or a premium paperback

http://www.blacklibrary.com/all-products/armageddon_ebook.html

Further Reading / Listening (All Third War for Armageddon)

The Eternal Crusader by Guy Haley – The battle in the skies above with the Black Templars High Marshal Helbrecht

Blood in the Machine (Audio Book) by Andy Smillie – Flesh Tearers vs Inquisition vs Orks in a story full of carnage and intrigue

Dante’s Canyon by Josh Reynolds – Static and cornered White Scars in a battle for survival – cracking read.

Angron’s Monolith by Steve Lyons – A rather darker tale following the occasionally line-crossing Relictors chapter searching for a rather large axe…

Thoughts on War of the Fang

This week’s thoughts are on War of the Fang by Chris Wraight; a journey back in time to the 32nd Millennium and the enmity between the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves.  I read this on a holiday to Copenhagen in the winter, which seemed appropriate with the freezing cold weather at the time!  If you are a fan of Space Wolves then this book is an absolute must to read.

Setting the Scene

As the short blurb from the Black Library website says: Magnus the Red leads an assault on Fenris, in revenge for the long-ago burning of Prospero. Leading the defence is Bjorn the Fell-Handed. The scene is set for a clash of legends.

The book includes two stories: first of all the novella The Hunt for Magnus and then the Battle for the Fang.

The Hunt for Magnus follows the obsessions of the Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm in his hunt for Magnus (unsurprisingly).  It also shows the complexities of Wolf Lord politics and how all are not entirely in agreement with the Great Wolf.

Battle for the Fang is the epic invasion of Fenris by the Thousand Sons and the valiant defence by only one Great Company against all odds.  It is a great story that will keep you hooked until the end.

My Thoughts

The book had me hooked right from the start and I was left in Copenhagen without a book to read on the final day.  The pacing is fantastic and The Hunt for Magnus sets up the events for the Battle of the Fang perfectly.  Chris Wraight is fast becoming one of my favourite BL authors.

Avoiding spoilers, my top 5 highlights were:

  1. The complexity of the politics between Wolf Lords
  2. The web of deceipt weaved by the Thousand Sons (although you’d expect nothing less from them)
  3. A dark and shameful secret that turns out to be a trap for the Great Wolf
  4. Lots of Dreadnoughts in the final battle
  5. The human defenders of the Fang

Also a special mention to the character Haakon Gylfasson and his quest on the ship Nauro.

I always have to give at least a small negative and in this case the only thing I can say is that the Thousand Son sorcerers felt rather one-dimensional.  That might just be a symptom of their extreme loathing and bitterness for the Space Wolves but I would have liked a little more fleshing out of who they were and their motives.

Read this if you like…

  • Space Wolves
  • Thousand Sons
  • A Primarch fighting a Dreadnought (!)
  • Intrigue

Where to Get

My copy was an ebook from the Black Library website where you can also order a paperback version – http://www.blacklibrary.com/all-products/war-of-the-fang-ebook.html

Further Reading / Listening

A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill – If you want to delve further in to the Thousand Sons then you have to start here with their beginnings in the Horus Heresy.

Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett – One my favourite Black Library novels and probably the best insight in to what makes the Space Wolves what they are.

Parting of the Ways (Audiobook) by Chris Wraight – This focuses on one of my favourite ever characters, Bjorn the Fell-Handed, and his final battle before entombment as a dreadnought.