What is RSS – and why you should care

The great equaliser

Millions of people use the internet every day. It is a fantastic tool and its driven not by a small group of elites, but by millions of people just like you, with similar goals and interests.

The internet made it cheap and quick for anyone to establish their own property, or website, which was just as accessible as any other website. Think about that for a moment. It’s as easy to come to ServoSkull as it is to go to Google. That’s wildly different to the real world, where travel costs limit our ability to visit different places. The internet changes that. Because of the internet you can make connections with people anywhere, as long as they are interested in connecting with you.
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Japan 2015 – part 1

I’m settling in for a couple of hours at the airport by doing that thing I do best. Eating. This is enhanced by the many pleasures of eating in airports. My favourite of these being the opportunity to use cutlery designed to be as safe as possible. I imagine this is just in case you choose to steal said cutlery and attempt something nefarious later. 
I have more down to earth plans for my cutlery. Unfortunately the efficient slicing of food in preparation for comfortable mastication is entirely precluded. Largely because the knife and fork are so safe as to pose no risk to a handful of chips.

Culinary woes aside I am really excited. You see I’m sat in Heathrow Terminal two waiting for a flight to Beijing. It will be the first time I’ve visited China. I’m not sure it’s going to be a life changing visit given that after an hour I’ll be flying on to Tokyo…

I’ll be dashing all over Japan for the next week or so. After fifteen or sixteen hours in transit I’ll be unleashed on the land of Nippon. I say ‘unleashed’ but I expect to spend a lot of time walking quietly around some of the most beautiful and interesting gardens, shrines, and temples in the world.

I’m not going to share the itinerary in advance. Instead I’ll check in with a report of what I’ve been upto when I get to the hotel (and wifi) each evening.

Here goes!


Blog Wars X

This weekend just gone I drove up to take part in the growing legend that is Blog Wars!

Image of an Ork

One phenomenal Ork army

(Oh how I wish I could claim these beautiful Orks were mine!)

The three-game one-day tournament started as a get together for 40k bloggers from around the UK and grew into a fun-focused day of carnage where turning up and having a good time trumps all other considerations.

The man responsible blogs over at From the Fang, and if you’ve not been I suggest you hurry on over there right now!

Back already?

I played three fantastic games and managed to lose all three convincingly enough. This included the game in which I reduced my opponent to four models by the top of turn three. Just goes to show that I should read the mission pack!

Game 1 – Necrons

My first opponent introduced me to the Tesseract Vault. Quite the eye-opener.

Photo from game one

The piranhas proved utterly useless against it!


Yep. I really did forget to put that Devilfish in cover…


I like the view my opponent gets of the laden Skyshield


Piranhas deploy in speedbump formation


Floods of firepower from the vault


Farsight takes Gauss to the face and not even the 4++ skyshield can save him


Pesky flyers…


The Necrons win the day.


Unfortunately, that huge pile of Tau is a funeral pyre, not a wave of reinforcements!

Given the almost 200 days since I last posted something I’m going to leave it at this point and save the other games and a review of the event for another day.

Periorbis is on Kickstarter

One of the reasons I’ve not had very much hobby time is that, along with a couple of friends, I established a company called Perihelion Games.

I was invited to play board games at a small board gaming group a couple of years back. The very first thing we played was Game of Thrones (2nd Ed). It was a spectacular game. I wasn’t really big into board games at the time so I got a bit intimidated. Rather than take the game seriously I threw away my position in a major backstab move. It went down really well with the group and we’ve grown to be good friends.

Incidentally, I love how that happens sometimes. You are trundling along, quite happy, when from nowhere you make one or more new friends and the direction of your life is altered.

Skipping forward a little, I managed to convince three people in the group that we should make our own game. A couple of years later and I am proud to present: Periorbis

You can see reviews, previews and back the game over on Kickstarter.

Periorbis: The deep space mining board game for 2-6 players -- Kicktraq Mini

Take a look! Better still, tell your board gaming friends about it!


2015 Nova Open

Just picked up my SuperNova pass to the 2015 Nova open.

Not sure I’m going to be playing any 40k there though, it takes so much time and with three small children I just don’t have very much time to spare. I’m thinking I’ll play one of the smaller skirmish games which will won’t require me to paint and playtest more than about ten models tops. There are plenty of these games and Infinity is the front runner at the moment.

I have my first test game, with my current Yu Jing squad on Tuesday. I’ll let you know how it goes. Who knows? Perhaps this will be the first post in a series that leads to me crushing everyone and taking all of the top Infinity prizes? More likely I’ll go, get beaten quite a bit, and have a fantastic time along the way.

In other news, I cleared out the loft with the help of my father in law. I’ll be setting up a little shop somewhere to try to sell some of the armies and miniatures I’ve hoarded over the years. eBay and Facebook seem to be the prime contenders.

In other, other, news I have been playing Elite: Dangerous. Because of the aforementioned time commitments I’m not able to spend a lot of time playing, but I have managed to grab myself a Cobra MkIII and I am enjoying bouncing around the universe in that. I suspect I will kit it out for exploration and begin a little sojourn within the next few weeks. No bad guys to contend with and a fun way of putting my name on the map in small convenient packets of play.

Which is not to say that I haven;t enjoyed the occasional scrap…

Why you should carry on blogging

I’ve been thinking recently about some of the challenges inherent to blogging. First and foremost being finding the time to do it. Other challenges include dealing with negative comments, maintaining a steady flow of content, and developing a presence for your blog. These things have been on my mind because I’ve been struggling with motivation and despite having a number of things to talk about simply haven’t made time to get on with it.

These things are topical at the moment because theres been a contraction in the wargaming blogosphere. Some of the best blogs have gone offline, key services like Google’s RSS aggregator service have been taken down and social media sites like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook are doing their utmost to create controlled portals, single points of access where everyone shares their content on a website which belongs to a commercial organisation.

RSS is independence. Its an opportunity for an individual or small group to express themselves and be heard, more importantly to express something of value which will not be subjected to third party filters. Consider Facebook for a moment. Facebook doesn’t show you everything that’s going on among your friends. Instead they use an (admittedly very clever) algorithm to select the best bits. If your updates don’t meet the criteria then very few of your friends will see what you write.

That’s not really acceptable. The only appropriate filtering is that which is controlled and understood by the person receiving the filtered content. With RSS this is primarily through subscribing or not subscribing to a feed. Once subscribed, people can skip articles which don’t interest them and read the ones which do. In this way I was able to follow just under 500 blogs though Google Reader, selecting the content I wanted to read in detail from amongst everything they produced collectively.

This is important because some of the best content was also the most obscure. For example, there’s a small group of painters in Stockholm who post new content infrequently, yet the art they produce is simply phenomenal. I was able to monitor their site and be confident that I would see everything they posted. I simply could not do the same thing through Facebook.

If you’ve not taken a look at Stockholm Warpaint then perhaps now is the time!

So, what can be done?

Writing for an Audience

Knowing who you are writing for is vital. Once you know who you are talking to it becomes much easier to know what to say and how to say it. This article is for people who have blogged and have subsequently faded, or want to blog and just need the push to get started for example. This is a subset of my normal audience, which is anyone interested in miniature wargaming.

Writing something worth reading

It’s very easy to re-post something created by someone else; it takes effort to express yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should see this Guardians of the Galaxy video, but there’s a lot more value in producing and sharing your own content. The trick to this is making sure you produce something that provides a genuine contribution. You don’t need to change the world, but the world is interested in what you have to say if it’s new and relevant. Don’t bow to the pressure of repeating what other people have said or done.

002 The army I’m taking to the Nova Open

[quote]The featured image for this post is Raffa’s amazing Pedro Kantor. You can read his post about painting this model over at Massive Voodoo. The image has been used here without permission.[/quote]

Pulling it together

I love designing army lists. Don’t get me wrong, it takes me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to finalise one, but the experience of umming and aahing over options and trying to cram a bit more in to the points you have available is part of the hobby as far as I’m concerned. I’m constantly amazed by people who can produce an army list in a couple of minutes. Especially as they are often more themed and/or effective than lists I might have spent weeks agonising over. Read more

Darth Vader and 40k 7th Edition

So, 40k 7th edition is confirmed for May 24th. But the story doesn’t end there. That’s just the start.


Stay with me on this one. I’ve taken a few days to mull this over and during that time there’s been a lot of discussion across most of the major outlets. If you’ve read even one other article about 7th edition you have probably read something about balance. 6th edition has a few problems, every edition to date has had them. What confuses me is the perpetual hope that the new edition will bring balance to the force game. We all know the prophecy.

In the time of greatest despair
an edition shall be born
which shall destroy the doubters
and bring balance to 40k

Well, something like that anyhow. I just don’t think it’s going to happen, so why worry about it?

Balance is difficult to achieve under any circumstances. 40k is a designer’s nightmare if you’re aiming for balance. The fact that they get so close, and give the design studio some credit here, they do get close, is despite the way the game is set up rather than because of it. With a rule set spread across a number of codexes and supplements, the idea of single book bringing it all together feels a little ridiculous. Ok, a lot ridiculous. 7th edition may be more or less balanced than 6th, we won’t know until some months after its been released, but I think the codexes are the real power brokers. When Grey Knights hit they were amazing because of the codex. They’ve gradually/rapidly faded from the top tables because of more recent codexes which are able to counter or out-beard them.

I heard the 11th Company say that 6th edition has been defined by the Tau. I think that’s accurate. Sure the core rules are crucial, they lay out the way the game is played. But the single biggest influence on what worked and what didn’t work during 6th edition has been the Tau. Let’s go one step further, the Tau codex.

Set aside 40k for a moment. Let’s think about Infinity the Game. The factions have some differences, but they are far more superficial than you might initially think. Weapons all work the same way, and good tactical play is based on the same fundamentals for all factions. This is why Infinity is recognised as a well balanced game. It’s actually difficult to make bad choices during army design. Sub-optimal? Sure. But outright bad? No. You could take a force composed solely of the units agreed to be the worst in the game and compete with someone bringing nothing but the best.

Infinity and 40k are worlds apart in terms of structure. 6th brought some streamlining of special rules to 40k, but nowhere near the levels found in Infinity.

So, that prophecy? Often misinterpreted, I think it is.

Where did all of the leaks go?

Now this is a bit more juicy. One of the most notable aspects of the recent stream of rumours about Warhammer 40,000 7th edition is that they are all from White Dwarf. We’re yet to see much conversation about the format of the new release. No chat, no pictures, no nothin’. We’ve known for some time now that Games Workshop have been actively engaged in reducing flow of rumours from the studio, but this is impressive. 40k is their focal product. There are more people interested in everything 40k than in any other part of their product line. Sites like Faeit 212 exist because the relatively large numbers of people who enjoy speculating about new rules, new armies, and new editions.


Not a peep.

What about the box?

Cast your mind back. You may recall that most of the 40k section of the internet was discussing, in pretty decent detail, the contents of the 6th edition box months and months ahead of its release. Beasts of War have a video discussion from April 2012 and our pals at the Bell of Lost Souls posted a rumour of the release in March 2011! That’s two major outlets, with decent inside sources providing quality rumours in excess of a year before 6th edition landed.

We knew what was coming, when it was coming, and we were excited about it. The boxes have been a pretty big deal in the past. Assault on Black reach was awesome, as is Dark Vengeance. I bought multiple copies of both. I want to know more about the rules, the boxed set, everything!

Think about it for a moment. What do you actually know about 7th edition? It’s going to be on sale or at least pre-order in 15 days and we know very, very little.

The things we do know all come from an official source, White Dwarf. You can boil it down to daemonology psychic powers, new ally chart, unbound armies, and unknown bonuses for using the FOC. Not a lot when you think about what we knew about 5th or 6th edition.



I sure am.

I want to know about cover, assault, movement, vehicle rules, outflanking, scout, deep striking, reserves, majority toughness, look out sir, and all of the other rules we could anticipate changes to. Providing a new ally chart, unbound option, and pyschic deck is a supplement. It’s got more in common with Planetstrike or Cities of Death. A new edition should be a major revision to the rules, and I haven’t heard much about those.

Have you?

P.S. It’s good to be blogging again!