Monday, 31 August 2009

OK - I cheated :-/

I admit it. The challenge is less than 24 hours old and I have broken the rules. Ive now spent 54 quid in total, 41 of which I have just spent on the Chaos Space Marine battleforce from Maelstrom Games:

The plan is to keep 10 CSMs and the rhino and then flog the rest back on the bay of e, using the money (hopefully) earned to buy a second rhino and a second-hand predator AND hopefully come in under the 50 quid budget!!!

The updated list is now:

Chaos Lord Mark of Khorne, Power weapon (115)

10X CSMs Aspiring Champion w Powerfist, 2 meltas (200)
Rhino Transport (35)
9x Berzerkers Skull Champion w Powerfist (229)
Rhino Transport (35)

Heavy Support:
Predator with Assault Cannon & Sponson Las cannons (130)

744 pts in total

An initial 750 Pt Chaos Space Marine List

OK, Day 1 of my CSM 750pt challenge. I've spent 13 quid and begun to work out my list:

Chaos Lord (Mark of Khorne, Powerfist) 130

10X CSMs (Aspiring Champion w Powerfist, Icon of Khorne, 2 meltas) 240
Rhino (Daemonic Possession) 55
9x Berzerkers (Skull Champion w Powerfist) 229
Rhino (Daemonic Possession) 55

Which leaves me with 41 pts to play with to get to 750. I'm thinking of dropping the daemonic possession, but that would only free up 40 pts and I can't buy much heavy support for 80 pts (i.e. a basic Predator)

Fan Studies and W40K/GW Related

My aim in these series of ongoing posts is to think aloud about how W40K and GW fandom in general may be understood in terms of debates within fan studies. To date, as far as I am aware, no one has done this.

The best way to begin would be to outline Henry Jenkins work on ‘textual poaching and then show how this has been used by Rebecca Bryant to understand roleplaying games (RPG). Using this as a starting point, I can then sketch out how these ideas can then be applied to W40K/GW fandom (to be developed in subsequent posts)

The canonical text within fan studies is Textual Poachers (1992) by Henry Jenkins. In the book, and in his subsequent work, Jenkins has sought to reject the negative cultural images of fans as ‘cultural dupes, social misfits, or mindless consumers’ (2006:40), and reframe them as marginalized subcultural groups actively appropriating media texts in order to re-read and transform them to serve their own particular interests and social agendas. For Jenkins, one does not become a fan by merely regularly watching a particular programme, but rather “by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity...” (ibid., 41), such as, for example, joining a discussion forum, writing stories based on the programme, collecting, attending conventions or going on ‘fan pilgrimages’ to locations used. Fandom is thus inherently active; an active, productive engagement with a media text as opposed to, for example, merely ‘watching a TV show’ or ‘knowing a few songs by that band’.

In her article, Dungeons and Dragons: The Gamers are Revolting, Rebecca Bryant makes a case for reframing the emerging scholarship into RPGs, arguing that they have more in common with forms of fan creativity than (as they are often linked with) computer games. In particular, she argues that the gaming system within RPGs operate in a similar way that, for example, a particular TV programme’s canon does for fan writers - providing a basis for creativity, a common frame of reference around which fans can improvise their own meanings, express themselves, tell their own stories etc. Aside from being an interesting theoretical move (essentially claiming RPGs for fan studies from the mass of turgid debates among mainly Scandinavian LARPers about whether, and to what extent, RPGs should be considered as games or narratives), Bryant’s article provides a useful foundation for trying to think about W40K and GW-related fandom through the lens of fan studies.

Thinking aloud, if we were to look at this, there are three issues that need to be covered first:

What is the Canon?
As an initial starting point, there would appear to be two main (albeit inter-linked) contenders for this:

  1. Fluff? At its most basic level, the background ‘fluff’ (i.e. the W40K) universe as expressed and developed through codexes, White Dwarf articles and officially-sanctioned (i.e. Black Library) would provide one aspect of the canon. On one level at least, it is this that provides the narrative background to the games we play, the models we construct, paint etc. - otherwise it would be just moving bits of plastic around a board and rolling dice.
  2. Rules? Following Bryant, the published rules could also be seen as part of the canon. Unless we play completely using house rules, the published rules provide the frame of reference around which gaming takes place. We may argue about rules or interpret them differently, but the published rules have a canonical status within each gaming system - otherwise, again, we would just be moving bits of plastic around a board (and maybe rolling dice) without having a gaming context.
Both of these could be put under the umbrella term: ‘the gaming system’. This would include both the abstract rules (AP scores, morale checks) and the ‘fluff’ which provide the context for games. The gaming system is, of course, Games Workshop’s exclusive Intellectual Property - despite how much the rules are similar to other systems or the fluff is allegedly inspired by other sources.

Fandom Vs ???????????
There is no clear or agreed-upon dividing line within fan studies between fandom and more general viewing. Does the fact that I have watched all the series of the X Files make me a fan, or do I need to have taken part in internet forums on the series, written fan fiction, read the related books etc etc? I need to give some thought to whether there is a similar dividing line within 40K/GW fandom, and if so what it is.

What Forms of Fan Creativity?
This is a slightly easier question. Again, as a starting point:

  1. Collecting. One dividing line between casual and fandom in W40K could be size and number of armies collected (multiple 5k armies vs a couple of minis passed down from an older brother)
  2. Painting/conversions
  3. Fanfilms: In contrast to other forms of fandom, there is not much W40K fan film. The majority of clips on youtube are short fanvids, or at the most primitive stop-motion animations. The most ambitious W40K fan film is ‘forbidden film’, Damnatus.
  4. Fan fiction: This would range from producing house rules, rule supplements and fan-codexes through to fan stories (see Black Library forum thread on fan fiction)
  5. Gaming Clubs
  6. Attending Tournaments/Conventions/Games Days
  7. Forums/blogs


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Coming Up

Over the next few weeks/months, I'm going to use my blog to do two main things:

First, I've decided to put together a small (500-750pt) Chaos Space Marine army, so I will use the blog to keep up with here I am - hopefully tracing their development from bits of plastic through to battle-winning heretics. The challenge that I've set myself is to try and (a) build the army up complete from second-hand/bay of e purchases and (b) to try and bring the whole thing in under a certain budget (30-50 quid). This may necessaitate a bit of wheeler-dealering; buying boxsets for one item and then flogging the rest back on the bay of e.

Second, I'm going to use the blog as a way of linking my academic interest in fan studies with 40K. When I'm not painting, my day job is as an academic and I have recently become interested in debates in fan studies. As no one - as far as I can tell - has looked at 40K from a fan studies perspective, it would be interesting (to me at least to do so). Rather than starting with trying to express my ideas formally, I will use the blog as a way of 'thinking aloud' about how various issues in fan studies intersect with 40K and other parts of the GW universe. This may be of interest to players. Hopefully it will and we can have a conversation.
I've already written a bit on this - an article on the German W40K fanfilm, Damnatus, that was banned from being released by GW back in 2007 - and hopefully if that article is published, I can develop the ideas raised here as well.

EDIT (31/8) First batch of Chaos incoming: 1 Chaos Lord & 17 Khorne Berzerkers for 13 quid

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Space Hulk Thoughts

I was initially excited when I heard on the forums that GW were going to re-release Space Hulk - not least because, according to the rumours - you were going to get a pack of terminators and genestealers in the box for around 50 quid. Well, the game has been released and it's nearer 60 quid. I came within an inch of buying it when i saw the box and all the blurb on the GW site, but I've decided to hold off due to cost (I could have handled 50 quid, but psychologically 60 quid seems too much) and because (a) the minis (although they look great) can't be used in a standard game without converting them and they are in Blood Angels colours (so cannot, I believe, be played with the current SM codex). I'm also not convinced about how 'limited' an edition it is. Even if it is 'limited', there will be copies on the bay of e in a couple of months/years when the kids want to get rid of them.

About Me

I first got into painting minis back in the 80s when I was a kid (and the minis were all metal). I was always too poor to buy minis and paint then so i just used to paint the same 20 or so minis over and over again (as i recall they were the Games Workshop Lord of the Rings box and some general fantasy creatures). I swapped the lot for my first guitar when I was 16.
[fast forward a couple of decades]
I got back into painting and started playing 40K last July on a whim and have been painting and playing ever since (as well as playing LoTR). I've painted up a LOAD of minis in the meantime, most of which Ive sold on to buy more (inc. two complete 1.5k Space Orks and Tyranids). At the moment I'm playing Salamanders in 40K and playing a variety of armies in LoTR (mainly Rohan, Easterlings, Uruk Hai & Dwarves).
I like painting plastic minis, hate painting vehicles, and keep promising that i will never paint another metal mini (but always keep painting them). I love playing LoTR SBG, but am pretty cynical about War of the Ring (AKA Warhammer of the Ring).

1.6k of Salamanders are Complete

I've been working on 1.6k of Salamanders for a few months now and thought that they would make a great introductory post as I'm really happy with how they turned out:
HQ: Vulkan He'stan
Elites: 3 Dreadnoughts (Brothers Iccio, Adso & Adelmo)
Troops: 4 Tactical Squads
Transports: 7 Drop Pods

I've enjoyed painting them although I'd forgotten how much i hate painting vehicles (esp. drop pods). Luckily i already had some assembled and I was able to buy a couple more fully assembled, but not painted, from the bay of e for only a couple of quid more than they would have been new (more money but none of the hassle of assembling). I also love the bases, that I got from over at Dark Art Miniatures