Monday, December 6, 2010

Assault on Black Reach impressions

Okay, the Mordheim stuff is on hold for the time being, but we have returned to civilization and I have had a chance to dig into the Black Reach boxed set.  I know it's been out for a while, but I just got it, so I thought I'd give a newcomer's perspective on the set, especially as it compares to what Games Workshop offered back when I used to play their games, a decade and a half ago.

Pictured: Civilization, except for the Big Bang Theory sign

So while I sit here in the comfortable glow of the city lights, the familiar hum of the Leafs getting massacred on the TV behind me (fewer things are more pointless than a huge HDTV that you listen to, rather than watch), with glass of wine in hand,  I'll give you my thoughts on the Assault on Black Reach box. And I'm thinking of what kind of Marine force I'm going to put together.

The last Games Workshop boxed set that I had was the one that came with Bretonnian and Lizardmen forces.  The tireless Zoanthropes who perform the research here at Men With Toy Soldiers inform me that this was in fact the 5th Edition of Warhammer, and that it was released way back in 1996, when I was just a small infant (or teenager).  They've also informed me, although I didn't request the information, that this edition was referred to as 'Herohammer', due to the hilarious cheese you could pile on top of the characters, like some sort of Epic Meal Time episode.

They're absolutely correct -- remember, I played Chaos, and watched my Khorne Lord weigh in around 700-900 points with a decent loadout and just eat units.  Chaos got hurt bad by the 'step up' rule.  Magic was hilarious too.  I'm sure some of you have decent stories about 5th edition heroes that wrecked entire armies, please share!

Regardless, we were talking about AoBR and 5th edition 40k, which replaces cheese characters with cheese tanks!  I have to say straight up, even though I'm aware that they've had 14 years to improve upon their offerings since my last basis of comparison, I'm really impressed!

Gratuitous box shot!


Quantity and quality.  While the models can't be posed or customized, the level of detail is pretty good.  Back in my day (he says while waving his cane around) we used to buy boxes of, say, Wood Elf Archers or Skinks that were exactly the same model, one piece, with a poor level of detail, because that was acceptable for your basic troops.  Oh, did I mention the diagonal slotted bases that had entire units facing 45 degrees to the right or left?  By the way, I just google image searched 'high elf spearmen diagonal base' and got some wicked pictures of nice ladies in lingerie.  No idea what the connection is there, but I hope my blog shows up for people looking for ladies in lingerie as I think that might be a bigger audience.

There's also not only a goodly number of models (600 points of Marines, according to the book), but a good variety.  I don't care too much about the Orks, but I love that you get a Dreadnought in this set!  Even the Deffkoptas are cool!  Back in my day (predicts weather based on trick knee), we got Skings and Saurus.  The Bret Knights were the only multipiece.  This is neat in terms of economies of scale, too; my FLGS owner breaks these boxes open and sells the contents on the cheap, $20 for most things in the box, which is better than $40-something for dreads or like.... what does GW charge, $60 for 5 plastic terminators? Hilarious!

Overall, I'm really impressed!

Growing the Swarm?

Other Junk:

I love that the rulebook is so compact, as it's easy to tuck into a case on your way to the game.  I'm of the firm belief that everyone should have both a copy of the rulebook and their codex at every game, to solve gentleman's disputes.  If I had one complaint, it's that the font is maybe a bit tiny, but maybe I just need the prescription on my contact lenses updated.

I love the templates.  Back in my day (yells at children to get off his lawn), the templates were cardboard.  That's right, the templates, under which units were affected by spells etc, were opaque cardboard.  Made it super easy to count models underneath.  They also frayed around the edges easily and got wrecked pretty quickly.

I love that they give you a sheet of transfers.  That's just something that they didn't have to do, even though I don't really use stuff like that myself (anymore), I think it's neat, and it'll really help a lot of people who just do 3-colour paintjobs have better looking models.

Well, I started the last three paragraphs with 'I love'.  So I guess you could say I'm happy with the set.  If I had to pick something negative about this set, I guess I can come up with a couple things:  First of all, the sides are uneven, badly so.  585 points of Marines and 450 points of Orks?  Kids are going to get this, and the boring child that picks the Marines is going to smush the Orks over and over and over.  Good preparation for the game of 40k, I suppose.  Really, that Dreadnought is something the Orks can't deal with in this game.  Those Deffkoptas are probably not going to take it down, and if they don't, there's no hope for the Orks.

The only other comment I'd have is that dice are really not an expensive thing to provide, and 6 dice is a hilarious number to provide, given the 20-strong Boyz mob that potentially gets 80 attacks on an assault.  An extra artillery die or two might be nice, in case the first one gets lost.

Overall, I started 3 paragraphs with 'I love...', so draw your own conclusion!

It's been suggested to me that I give a proper grade to things that I review, so I'm going to start doing that.

I really want to give this an A+, but that might just be my own giddiness. I'm going to give it an A-, if only because of the imbalance of the forces provided and the cheapness of not providing a reasonable amount of dice in the box.  You should really be able to play proper games straight out of the box if that's what you're interested in, just like any other board game.  I'm still really happy I have it.

Overall Grade: A-


What kind of Marines should I play?


This part is usually where I put a joke but my god, while I've been writing this post the Leafs came back from a 4-1 deficit to win the game in a shootout!  What a hockey game!  


  1. Cheese: The vermin lords (plural) that you could field, who were level four mages and had a natural 4+ save. Good times.

    Or how about Chaos steeds, who, when frenzied, got 2 attacks at STR 4, which was more than most standard infantry for most armies.

    And btw, thanks for implying our home town, in which I still currently reside, does not constitute civilization.

  2. Yeah Vermin Lords were finely aged cheddar. Not just because of their stats, but I recall them being very inexpensive points-wise compared with anything else.

    I don't think I implied anything! I said it outright :)

    I mean come on, I had to drive my car somewhere to get a coffee, and a bottle of wine. There's a serious shortage of eggnog lattes.

  3. I agree--this is certainly the best value boxed set they've released for 40k to date. Considering a box of terminators is normally $50, paying $80 to get them, plus marines, a dread, captain, and all of the orks is a fantastic buy. No, they're not posable, but they're a damn lot better than their old non-posable plastics were.

    I bought a couple of these boxed sets simply for the models. I only ever really used the dreads though... I guess in hindsight, maybe it wasn't the best investment for me...

  4. I get the feeling I'm going to use the dread more than the rest of the Marines, but I still think there's a use for Tac Squads and regular Terminators in fun games. Plus they'll look good on a shelf when they're all painted up. The Tac squad's loadout (with the missile launcher/flamer) isn't actually that bad, either, even though I'd prefer more missile launchers!

    My FLGS sells the Dread out of the box for $20, so I'll have to stock up on a couple more and find arms to magnetize their loadouts.

  5. Yeah, I did wind up painting up a single tactical squad, but the big drawback to them is that they don't have the same shoulderpads as the rest of my units (I used the metal GW pads, and haven't progressed in my sculpting prowess enough to handle mass producing Ultramarine symbols).

    There's really nothing wrong with the termies.. I just don't use them much (since I can't make a 2+ save for the life of me). So, there's not much need for me to use more than the 5 I have.

  6. I didn't think about that with the shoulder pads! I think I'll use the AoBR Tac marines for all my Tac Marine needs, so I shouldn't have that problem. I'll probably even (gasp!) use the transfers that came with AoBR to distinguish units, but I don't know that a proper Blood Angels army is going to have a ton of Tac Marines in it -- I'm thinking there's going to be a whole lot more Assault Marines as troops :)

    As for the Termies, I haven't given any thought to what loadout I'd use for them so I'm going to leave the arms unglued and pick up some extras (assault cannons etc), I'm sure I'll find a use for them.