Friday, 19 January 2018

Watching the WarTube

Here’s something I discovered after diving back into Warhammer 40K: there’s a metric ton of video reports out there!

Warhammer Fantasy had some presence, although the rank ‘n flank style seemed equally suited to the written word and flat images. Age of Sigmar is getting some traction, but OH BOY is there a lot of 40k content available.

It's basically watching this for several hours.
Better than the snooker.

But which ones are the TV Times' pick of the week?

As with everything, there is a lot of dross out there, but the best channels really do put out some quality stuff. The models and battlefields are beautiful; they’re on top of the rules and the meta (or the background narrative); and when the dice start rolling, it can get very exciting.

The ‘official’ channel, I guess would be Games Workshop’s Warhammer Twitch channel, although it doesn’t do much for me. The ‘top-down’ view with play-by-play commentators works really well for games like X-Wing, but I think Warhammer works best when the camera is in amongst the thick of it, hearing the players banter and seeing the dice roll. Essentially, I think the experience works best when you’re taking the role of a spectator who’s looking over the shoulder of a game at his mates’ house.

After some extensive shopping around, I’ve now found some of the best channels out there. They make for very good proxies when you can’t play an actual game (or face long train or plane journeys). They also can be very good painting companions, especially as even the shortest report will run for longer than an hour.

I find myself watching/listened to at least five battle reports a week (so at a rough estimate, that’s 150 reports since 8th Edition started) and the hidden bonus is that the best channels know their rules and take the time to explain what’s happening, so I’ve come up to speed with the 40k rules faster than any other games system.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the channels I’d recommend:

Winters SEO

The definition of a gentleman gamer. Stunning battlefields, a broad choice of opponents and a strong dedication to the narrative of the universe.

The regular armies are usually Space Marines, AdMech or Death Guard. You’ll always get a good-looking battle, a variety of opposing armies, and a great story.

Tabletop Assault

Three guys from Scotland, playing a variety of armies (Necrons, Thousand Sons, Chaos Marines, T’au and AdMech off the top of my head).

A newly-growing channel, which makes the team the most responsive to video comments. Solid gameplay, good banter and, of course, everything sounds better in a Scottish accent.

Grim Resolve

Just south of the border, two guys from the North East do battle with a wide variety of big armies. Some really sound tactics on display and a rock-solid grip on the rules. They also are happy to play the narrative campaigns (like the recent Fate of Konor), which you don't often see.

The narrator describes what's happening in a shade more detail than the others, which makes these videos the best to paint by. As a bonus, there is a great deal of laconic Tyneside comments going on (it’s always entertaining to hear “Ah cannut beleef it!” when triple 1s are rolled).

The Glacial Geek

A former Alaskan resident (hence the name), who mainly films his battle reports in his FLG in Georgia, with a number of different opponents. The Geek himself mostly fields Dark Angels, Deathwatch or Genestealer Cults.

Because of the location, the videos carry a certain amount of hubbub in the audio, and varying painting standards, but this is more than compensated by The Geek's boundlessly enthusiastic narration, great sportsmanship, and sudden whoops of joy whenever he makes a fortuitous dice roll (seriously, these WOO!s have to be seen - yes, seen - to be believed).

Tabletop Tactics

These seems the most ‘professional’ of the outfits (they have merchandise and an additional paid channel) and features a whole crew of players who mostly go by their nicknames (what kind of losers would do that, eh Kraken? Lefoa? Kasfunatu?).

There’s a host of studio armies, and having an income stream means than more are being continually pumped out. The production values are top-notch, the banter is excellent and the games incline towards the tournament-level, so you get to see harder armies.

Those are my picks. Each channel releases around one free battle report a week, so there’s a good output there. I notice that most of these UK channels – I did shop around (I won’t name and shame), but the other ones didn’t quite cut the mustard.

Happy viewing!

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