Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition: Astra Militarum

Curious as to how each of the units work in the Astra Militarum (otherwise known as the Imperial Guard) in the Warhammer 40,000 Tabletop game for 8th Edition? Well, let's take a look at their tactics shall we?

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Rebuilding the Cadian 8th: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Astra Militarum

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard). 

Landing Page Print based on the Co Optional Podcast Animated "Admiral Biscuit" on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhHJC3PAN4A

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Rebuilding the Cadian 8th: The Briefing

One man's journey to rebuild his childhood Warhammer 40,000 Army.

The Astra Militarum. Or the Imperial Guard. 

Landing Page Print based on the Co Optional Podcast Animated "Admiral Biscuit" on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhHJC3PAN4A

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The Sunny Side of the Codex

I do have to admit. My first impression of the codex announcement wasn't positive. I'm still cautiously pessimistic about codex's in the long term since editions have changed frequently in the past. It makes it so that the older books become obsolete and end up getting sold at garage sales or just lingering in an attic somewhere. I have also seen a ridiculous amount of Power Creep from codex to codex in previous editions. However, there are some positive points to keep in mind. Games Workshop has changed their stance around with the community in terms of communcation that gives us a bit of a bright spot in 8th Edition's future.

 I prefer 6th Edition's cover personally.

I prefer 6th Edition's cover personally.

First things first, Games Workshop is finally publicly presenting information themselves before the release of their products. This accomplishes a few things positively for both the consumer and Games Workshop themselves. It makes it so that information doesn't have to boil down to rumors and here say shortly before release. It wasn't uncommon in previous editions to get your information about the new releases not from your Local Game Store or Games Workshop themselves, but by Bell of Lost Souls reporting on the latest rumor from various blogs that had credibility when it came to rumors. Even Codex pages with rules on them were leaked well in advance before it was announced in a White Dwarf, Games Workshop's official magazine. It was where Games Workshop relayed its information out of, hoping you'd buy a magazine every month from your Local Game Store to get the news. In theory it sounded like a solid plan. It was to entice customers to go to your Local Game Store in order to find out what was going on with new releases and product information. In practice, it was the main reason people went to websites like Bell of Lost Souls to gather their information and knew more before the White Dwarf launched. And Local Game Store owners that wanted to stay on top of what was going on had to rely on this information. Which meant that nine times out of ten, the customer knew far more about what was going on than the Local Game Store did. 

It also builds up hype in the same was as the rumors did years ago, but far more controlled. The Dark Eldar got a huge overhaul back in 2011. It was the first army they remodeled entirely in plastic from the ground up. Kabalite Warriors, Wyches, Wracks, even the Talon was redone in plastic. It was a pretty major overhaul that cost Games Workshop quite a bit of money to do all in one sitting. It was also the product that sold the least at the time upon release. Why? Grey Knights were already accurately predicted to release their codex six months later. People were more excited for Grey Knights getting the overhaul than they were Dark Eldar, discouraging them from doing the same thing again to other factions that sorely need it like Sisters of Battle. Games Workshop now has more in control of what information gets leaked ahead of time by providing it themselves, protecting their IP and making the central focus be on what they have in the works this month instead of a year from now. 

Second, it seems that Games Workshop is taking feedback from rules problems and inaccuracies far more seriously this time around. In previous editions, FAQs would be released silently by Games Workshop and never announced unless it was by a user that happened to stumble upon it. It was as if the company was afraid to announce anything and stand by their rules. And for the most part, they were right to be cautious. Games Workshop is, and always will be, a model company first and a rules company second. They focus on the miniatures themselves first and then the game after the miniature is made. Now, they have been quick to point to and release FAQs for the Indexes when they released. This is in part due to direct feedback from people on their Warhammer Community page on Facebook. It allows them to address questions and rule inaccuracies quickly and easily. Which leads me to point number three.

Wisely, they decided with this edition to let the community develop it alongside them since they have far more experience with the tabletop game. And it has paid off for the company if their list of models being sold out is any indication as to their sales figures. I swear, Orks have been sold out for awhile now. Previous editions were developed in house by Games Workshop with no direct feedback from outside sources at all until well after the edition was released. This in turn lead to high turnover rates when developing the various editions. So after looking at some previews of what the Space Marine Codex for 8th Edition holds, it seems like they are customizing armies by giving them a universal Tactic and Stratagems that can be spent using Command Points. One example they gave was of the Ultramarines Tactic shown below.

 I like it. I like it a lot.

I like it. I like it a lot.

This is going to be a universal rule that applies to all Ultramarine models. Models. MODELS.

If I had to speculate, I am going to predict that armies in future codexes will follow this similar pattern to be unique from one another. Armies like the Astra Militarium (Imperial Guard!), Orks, Necrons, and Tau have multiple different variants that are possibilities to have into their own unique feel similar to Space Marine Chapters in the upcoming Codex. They already mentioned that Raven Guard will have their own Stratagems, Warlord Traits, Relics, and Tactic that will make them different from Ultramarines. It would not surprise me then to see Catachans have a different set of Orders than Cadians that are unique to them or Snakebitaz being able to do things that Bad Moon Orks wouldn't do like infiltrate units of Boyz. But it also opens up more possibilities for factions that may not have obvious differences like the Farsight Enclave or the different Necron Dynasties. It allows for no two armies to be on the field to play the exact same, which is great for all of us as we'll see a lot more diverse armies on the tabletop for people to try out. 

It does lead to some pretty great possibilities later down the line. We will know more when the Codex releases later in the month.   

Making an Awesome Character; During your lunch break

With 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons released, we saw a rather interesting shift in character creation. While you still picked a class and race as before, the background was also a part of the character as well even more so than in previous editions. When you picked your background, you got two additional skills that you were trained in. Makes sense considering that these skills fit into your background story. But these were simply templates with a few charts for you to roll on to give you a sense of who your character is. Things like:

I’m always picking things up, absently fiddling with them, and sometimes accidentally breaking them.
— Player's Handbook, Outlander Personality Trait
It is my duty to respect the authority of those above me, just as those below me must respect mine.
— Player's Handbook, Noble Ideal

Lame

These don't make interesting characters. These are quotes as to what a character is now, not WHY they feel that way. There are thousands of different ways that each of these quotes can be played out and all of them are going to depend on who that person is at their core, the environment they grew up in, and key events that happened in their life to push them one direction or another. People's lives are not static. They are active in some way. We grow up, we fall in love, we get our heart broken, we make friends, we make enemies, we learn. Things happen through the course of our lives that make us who we are as people. Characters in a fictional medieval setting or a Star Wars setting are no different.

So how can we come up with a good character idea as we eat our lunch? Simple. We roll it.

I can already hear you right now.

I want to roleplay, not roll play!
— The reader

That's not what I mean. What I mean is that we make up a series of charts that give us a bit more insight as to our character's background. Even more so than the charts in the Player's Handbook. Think about a person's life for a moment. What usually happens in it? A few things that happen in chronological order when you think about it.

  • They are born
  • They have an adolescent life
  • They have a young adult life
  • They become an adult
  • They start their adventure (added in there for D&D purposes)

There are a ton of other things we can add in there for good measure, but this gives us a good starting point. Let's start by asking ourselves some basic questions under their birth.

  1. Where were they born?
  2. Who were their parents? Are they still living?
  3. Who raised them?
  4. Were there any special circumstances behind their birth?

Come up with as many answers to these questions as humanly possible and jot them down in a list. Don't worry if it sounds stupid, we'll weed out the bad ones later on. For now, focus on getting as many ideas down for each of these questions as you can. Remember, its a fantasy setting. Go crazy with it starting off. Let's start with where the character was born in a Star Wars game. You could list planets sure, but let's expand on it further.

  • On a Rebel Base
  • On an Imperial Base
  • In the woods on a jungle planet
  • In a Wookie village
  • On a starship
  • On a research station
  • In the sun
  • On the moon
  • On an asteroid
  • Underground
  • Inside a Tauntaun
  • Cloning facility
  • Mechanical Factory

Once you have your list down, start crossing off ideas that don't make a lot of sense to you. Or if you feel that you can explain it later on then feel free to keep it. If you like one of these ideas, pick it and move on to the next question. If you can't decide, just list them numerically and roll for it randomly. But most importantly: Keep this list handy! Set it to the side and use as a reference later for the next character that you come up with in your future games. Do the same thing for their parents, who raised them, and special circumstances behind their birth. Remember, not everything has to be awesome at the beginning.

When you move on to special events that happened in their adolescence and young adult lives, think about things that could happen to them. Make it brief and in one sentence. Again: Go crazy! Its a fantasy setting after all. A few examples:

  1. My parents left me to a wise old man when I was very young. I still remember them.
  2. I made friends with a smuggler and started learning tricks to their trade.
  3. I was in a circus for a few years trying to make ends meat.
  4. I saved a young girl and her wealthy father gave me a gift for the heroism
  5. I was taken off world just before it was destroyed, escorted by my father's adviser.
  6. My village was in the middle of a war between two factions when I was very young.
  7. I was captured by bandits, but managed to escape with another gentleman.
  8. I fell in love with someone who's family is at odds with mine.

NOW we're getting to the good stuff! These are the things that make a person who they are. The things that happened in their lives that shape them as a person. With these, you can ask questions about their reaction to these events. Its not always a simple two or three choices like in some games...

 I still have that Game Informer issue.

I still have that Game Informer issue.

Remember, things are not always as black and white as they appear. Think of some situations that could come up as a result of these one sentence stories. Let's go with the saving the young girl example from earlier. It could have been an assassination attempt that failed and now the killers are gunning after you in revenge. It could have been that the father wanted to kill the daughter but had to give you something to keep it under wraps. It could've been an argument with someone that would've gone horribly wrong had you not stepped in. Maybe the young girl was working on something that could've caused her to get killed and you noticed something she never would have that saved her. You never actually intended to save her but ended up doing so anyway because you were too busy focused on something else.

There are SO MANY possibilities! Explore them! 

The trick to it is build it up in layers. Start with a simple sentence and expand on it as much as you want. Keep doing this for each of the questions mentioned before. Before too long, you'll have a little book of charts to roll several characters off of. The more you expand on it, the more in depth future characters will become.

Who knows, I may tell you of how I came up with Grotnick the Barbarian Accountant...

 Bonus points if you recognize the face. #FinancialPeace #PTCVids

Bonus points if you recognize the face. #FinancialPeace #PTCVids

But that is another story for another time.

Setting up Shop: Opening a Local Game Store

I'm about to drop a truth bomb on you.

You have a TON of competition out there.

And I'm not talking about the other LGSs around the area...

If you are involved in retail and HATE every aspect of retail (dealing with customers, stocking shelves, pricing product, cleaning the bathroom, managing sales tax and accounting, ect...) this is NOT the career path for you. A Local Game Store (or LGS for short) at its core is like a JC Pennies or a Gamestop. They have a product on a shelf that must be sold in order to make a profit. 

You have to sell product in order to maintain your store front. Period.

That is how your business will stay afloat. If you open your store with the idea that you're going to hang out with your friends and they will buy things from you because "they are your friends" and you give a great discount, you are sorely mistaken. Your doors will quickly close on you. So how does a LGS survive typically? What kinds of products do they sell? Well, it varies depending on which LGS you go to, but in almost every single store independently owned always always ALWAYS sells at least in some capacity...

 Yep. This piece of cardboard has built empires.

Yep. This piece of cardboard has built empires.

Star City Games started off like any other LGS in the Roanoke, Virginia area. They sold various products like Warhammer 40,000, comic books, board games in the beginning. But at some point in the business's lifespan, the owner invested quite a bit of money into Magic the Gathering. 

Why?

To understand that, you have to understand Magic the Gathering as a game at its core. There are other formats like Commander, Archenemy, and Planechase that vary play quite a bit but we'll stick to the basics for now. Magic the Gathering has players face each other one on one. Each player builds a deck of 60 cards minimum with no more than 4 of the same kind except basic lands, which are used to put into play to summon creatures, spells, enchantments, artifacts, and planewalkers like those seen in its advertisements. Magic the Gathering has seen several sets of cards printed over the course of its lifespan starting back in 1993. When a new set comes out, it phases out the older set slowly over time, never reprinting it except in certain cases like in a newer set or part of a special bundle like in Commander decks and Vaults as limited print runs. Over time, Magic the Gathering's single cards became rarer and rarer to find because of the limited print run.

Thus turning Magic the Gathering singles into this...

Because cards had varying degrees of supply and demand, each card has a value. Commons typically are a quarter, sometimes less. Uncommons typically a quarter as well, sometimes being even as high as 20 dollars in some rare cases. Rares and Mythic Rares can have values ranging from as cheap as 50 cents to as high as a down payment on a car (ala Black Lotus, which honestly wasn't really a rare per se because rares didn't exist back in Alpha/Beta, and I'm getting off track here...). There are things that will lower the price of a card like condition of the card as well as supply and demand of said card. The demand comes from the local tournament scenes like Friday Night Magic but can escalate to the Pro Tour that can give away some pretty cool cash prizes. Depending on what a pro level player is playing and how well they do with said deck in the various formats. Cards that are banned in these competitions in certain formats will also affect the card's value to keep the different formats fresh.

The formats in most tournament play are Standard, Modern, Vintage, and Legacy.

Getting into the buying/selling of Magic singles can be a tricky one, especially now a days. But just know this for now; It can be profitable but it must be done right in order to make it work. It will require quite a bit of money up front and isn't an easy business to get into.

So what can be learned from Gamer's Haven that you can avoid if you want to open up your own store or are currently running one yourself? 

  1. Plan ahead. Lay out your business budget. Itemize what it is that you need and price it out. Budget how much inventory you are going to have, the space that you are going to be setting up shop in, how much you need to have on hand while you get started.
  2. Think about what kind of business you are going to be opening up and what value you can bring to your community. If there are local game stores around the area, think about what they are doing right and what they are missing. Maybe you can cater to that area that is neglected. Also don't just sell board games and card games. Is there another market you can tap into? What works well with a LGS? Maybe a coffee shop? How about a sports bar like establishment for gamers?
  3. Set up an online store front. An online store front sells products 24/7, even when the retail doors are closed. Consider how you are going to ship packages off, how much to charge for shipping, what to do about returns, tracking shipped product, and marketing your website. 
  4. DIVERSIFY! DIVERSIFY! DIVERSIFY! You must NEVER EVER EVER bet your business on one thing. Always have multiple revenue streams somewhere from multiple different products. This way, if one fails, you are not out of business. Did I mention Diversify? This is the one thing that I did not do for Gamer's Haven. I invested quite heavily into Warhammer 40,000 and when sales plummeted on that front, I was forced to build up on something that I wasn't working on and play catch up so that the business didn't immediately sink. And Magic isn't full proof either. If Wizards decides to stop doing Magic (which honestly isn't going to be anytime soon as of the time of writing this article) then you will be in the same boat I was in when Warhammer 40,000 sales dropped. Even if it is other card games, board games, comic books, disc golf, whatever that may be (that is legal mind you), do something else to bring in revenue. While it may not bring you in as much revenue, it most certainly will keep you going while you find something to either replace the lost revenue or shift directions for your business.
  5. Treat your customers and your distributors well. Even in the darkest of times, they will be your saving grace. Your customers are the ones who are buying your product. Your distributors are the ones who supply the product. This means keeping a nice clean store, being fair with your prices, keeping your word to your customers, paying your distributors when you say you are going to pay them (preferably cash, more on that later) and being fair with your rulings in events. Treat them well and they will treat you well. Trust me, both customers and distributors will warn each other about bad/shady business people. Word of mouth can be a great marketing technique but it can also be the most damaging if you are not great to do business with.
  6. Know what you are signing up for and do your homework before hand. True story. I signed up for a great SEO marketing campaign that cost me $14,000 over the course of a year. The company did a fantastic job and generated a TON of traffic to the website I set up for the business. But there was one teeny tiny problem: I didn't have a web store. The best way I can describe it is like driving 100+ people to your website every single day with nothing to do and you not getting any revenue from it. Yeah, I paid my fair share of stupid tax on that one. Research a project before you dive head long into it. Don't do what I did. Please. I beg of you. 
  7. Don't go into debt for your business, EVER! It is the main reason when my business closed, I could walk away from it and not have to worry about a debt collector calling me wondering where their money was. When I went to school for marketing, I took a finance course and was taught a very important lesson about "Other People's Money". OPM is the idea that you are borrowing money to better your business. If you borrow too much, you eventually hit a plateau where no matter how much you borrow, you will end up further and further in the hole. I thought about it when I was starting up my own business and realized that the reason for this was because of a little thing called "Risk". Here are two scenarios:
    • Lets say you borrow $10,000 and had 4% interest to pay on it over 5 years for product you are putting on your shelf. That means the bank gives you $10,000 to use but you owe $10,000 plus 4% interest over 5 years to pay them back. This equates to around $174 a month minimum you are paying over the course of 5 years. Your distributor is happy because they are getting paid and you can make the monthly payments to the bank. Doesn't sound too bad right? What happens when you don't generate enough revenue to pay them back? Trust me when I say that this happens in business a lot. There will be times where you don't make great sales, you still have to pay the rent and utilities, and get new product in to make good on launch day sales. Are they gonna be kind and understanding and let you pay them back when you can? Of course not! You owe them money! Even if you default and close your business down, someone will be coming knocking on your door looking for that money. That debt gets sold to a debt collections agency and they start calling you directly. Because guess what? Its not tied to the business, it is tied to the OWNER of the business, YOU! And yes, it is all 100% legal for them to do it (within reason of course).
    • Now, lets take that same $10,000 and paid the distributor directly with cash for it our of your Debit card (NOT CREDIT CARD). Your distributor is happy because they got the money up front and the product is now yours to do with as you see fit. You don't owe the bank, you don't have to bargain with the distributor about when your next payment will be. Its a simple one off transaction. If your business closed tomorrow, your distributor or bank won't mind one bit. Why? Because you paid them already up front and never dealt business with the bank for the loan mentioned earlier.
  8. Make time for yourself when you can. Believe me when I say that owning a store is hard work. I spent over 70 hours a week working the business, even on my "days off". As much as I loved doing it, there were times where I wanted to just take a breather for once. People will make assumptions about you and think that you are lazy just sitting behind the counter not doing much of anything. Some people may even think you're going to close shop within 6 months, maybe sooner. But then there are people that do rally around you when the times get rough. Take some time to appreciate and give thanks to those people that stood by you. Even if its something small like a plaque.

I hope this helps in your future business excursions.