Sundays are for programming computer people to have ambition and fear, that you might later exploit their weaknesses for crime. But first we must gather the week's best writing about games, as tradition demoands.
So, post-Xmas, in addition to candy-induced pre-diabetes, Sansa show up with a tiny beginner’s Tyranid force: thirty Termagaunts and a Tyrant. He didn’t like the wings and he doesn’t know any better, so he’s built it as a footslogger. He’s brought his little army – all painted in what looks like a mix of 10% emulsion, 15% Tipp-ex, 75% childish joy – and more enthusiasm than a puppy trapped of a basket of clothes which are warm from the dryer. See, he’s got his army sorted, for today, He Becomes A Man.
Unlike Sansa, Joffrey is a Lannister, and so he’s got a lot more income. He, too, has brought his new Xmas army, but he knows exactlywhat he’s doing. He’s rocked up with 10 Grey Knight Paladins, a horrifying number of Psycannon, Draigo and an Imperial Knight. That’s right. For a half hour pick-up game at lunch, he’s done the equivalent of showing up to a playground fist fight with a ninety pound lump of plastic explosive carved into the shape of a giant middle finger.
I bristle at the phrase GrimDark, both in terms of its origins and how it’s used in conversation. As an abbreviation of Warhammer 40k’s famous tagline, it’s normally used to dismiss dark-for-the-sake-of-dark fiction. That it emerged from Warhammer shows how many people simply miss the joke.
Warhammer is fucking hilarious.
It is a maximialist universe that borrows liberally and blends from everywhere. It’s everything, often in the same model. It’s most obvious with the more chaotic models like aforementioned Goblin Fanatic and everything that emerges from Skavenblight, but even in the most straight faced (which, somewhat ironically, is Chaos) it’s still extremely silly.
This is the first level with Giant Ants (in some versions called Rattlesnakes). These can drain Strength (the sole attribute score) on a successful hit. Two more potions are found here, and two more scrolls, and a food ration. One of the potions is of the same type as the one found on Level 1 (they're both "plaid," however that works), and he also now has two of one type of scroll (they have the same title, something like "swerr mep"). Rodney makes the decision to test-ID one of the scrolls, hoping it might be Identify (the most common scroll). It is! He wisely uses it on the ring (the hardest kinds of item to figure out) and finds out it's a ring of Teleportation. These are cursed and annoying, but potentially a lifesaver. He keeps it in his pack, but mentally notes when he runs out of room it's high priority for trashing.
No, I stopped going to Ground Kontrol, but my little laptop had Jade Empire on it. The laptop served as good camouflage, allowing me to check my email in a coffee shop for two hours rather than sit there while the baristas gave me the stink-eye.
As the drawbridges pull shut, I watch as Inod paces outside them, until finally, resigned to his fate, he makes a beeline for the approaching hill titan. He’s no warrior, but he’s going to collect his fifteen seconds in the spotlight. He doesn’t last five. The firestorm and its harbinger pull on ahead.
At this point two things happen. One, the hill titan vanishes, engulfed by the smoke. Two, the mad one-humped camel from before has killed its merchant owner and tried to storm the fort, only to promptly trigger a cage trap and jail itself at the entrance. Febontak’s industrious haulers have moved the camel into a stockpile full of caged goblin theives, kobolds and assorted scavengers, freeloaders and vermin that plague the fort.
The election is looming. I take a moment to look at the state of the country. On the upside, we’re hugely technologically advanced, thanks to my careful funding of robots and nanomachines, and relatively productive and green. On the downside, there’s lynch mobs in the streets, class warfare as society collapses, inner city riots, booming crime rates, luddite riots smashing those lovely new robots, and extreme nationalism (more about that when we do the Ukip manifesto.) Poverty has rocketed, equality plummeted, health collapsed, crime boomed, and generally the country has collapsed. Quite impressive in just five years!