Friday, 1 August 2014

My GW CEO Application letter - In the style of Tom Kirby


The single weirdest thing about Tom Kirbys email was that he mentioned that they recruit based on letters. After reading Tom Kirbys letter I wondered "If he thinks that is a great letter to put out, what the hell would you need to type to get the CEO role there?"

Well, I put my thinking hat on and here is my Application letter in a style Tom Kirby can understand. 

The original letter is here 


I am J Vomkrieg and I think I would make a great CEO of Games Workshop.

If your measure of 'great' is that a CEO should be qualified for the role, you may not agree. But if your measure of greatness is someone who will get stuck in, demonstrate passion and promote detailed programmatic specificity, then I am truly greatness incarnate.

My plans for the business are manifold and varied, well beyond the understanding of those who dwell on the internet taking pot shots at the glorious cathedral of dreams that is Games Workshop.

I will continue the de-risking of our business by removing all paid retail staff and replacing our “one man stores” with “no man stores”. Stores will contain giant vending machines that gleefully dispense product to our customer’s parents, with next to no overheads. The centrepiece of each store will be a hologram of Matt Ward that answers every question with a variation of “you should buy some Ultramarines, because Ultramarines are the best”. Putting our creative genius front and centre speaks to the heart of what we are. Am I right?

To help supplement our store we will recruit a legion of volunteers from our fanbase to mind the children, we can pay these volunteers in product and a nice hat…. We could also give them a spiffy title like “battle brother”. I have always admired the Dominion from Deep Space Nine (making a note here to sue Star Trek about the Borg) and how they controlled their clone soldiers with an addictive drug. Our product is so good we can command a legion of fan slaves with it! This makes perfect business sense as it will grow our community presence while further driving down unnecessary costs like wages.

This augurs well for our long term health and cash flow.

Obiwan Sherlock clousseau from our Rogue Trader book.
How many people have ripped off our originality?
Sue Tennant! Sue Cumberbatch! Sue Moffat!
I will continue with your mission of spending an indecent amount of money on litigation. Spending indecent amounts of other people’s money is a passion we share. (I feel like I have another brother in you) I have already identified a few key targets that are ripe for the picking. Did you know that Peter Jackson and New Line Cinemas have been making movies based on our Hobbit Game IP? An affront to our creative skills and intellectual domain like this cannot be stomached any longer.

We must fight for our game IP regardless of the cost to our bottom line, our brands and our fans. Everyone must know who is boss! (it’s us right?). Let steal some of our hogs back (Man, I want bacon… does anyone else want bacon?)

You say we spend “far too much money spent on far too little gain” on litigation. I believe this is wrong. Are we not a proud British company? Yes, yes we are, and we should take a leaf out of the book of that great British General Sir Douglas Haig and never give up, never surrender, no matter the cost the Hun must be defeated! Like Haig, we will be heralded as visionaries and leadership for our dogged determination (And I look quite dapper in a Military uniform)(Wait, was that Haig, or Tim Allen?).

I too don’t really understand how 3D printing works and what it means for the world, but I’m sure it’s not a big deal. I have an inkjet printer at home and it sometimes blurs and blotches, so I can’t imagine 3D printing will be very good. Certainly, nothing like the highest standards ever obtained in miniature making, our flawless finecast range, perfect every time. We still do finecast don’t we?

I suggest we ignore 3D printing and try to jump ahead to 4D printing. Being at the cutting edge of the next generation of printing will position our business well for the future, regardless of profits and expenditure now. The last thing we want is to miss the wave as it crests and be smashed on the rocks of obsolescence while our crops wither and die, our dog has a limp and our guinea pigs wheek hopelessly for a nice handful of lettuce. Hungry guinea pigs do not feature in my vision of a successful business, no sir!

The mantra of ‘we recruit for attitude and not for skill’ will remain a cornerstone of my enterprise decision making. However, I pledge to take ignoring CV’s to a whole new level. My hiring policy will be based solely by looking at a picture of the potential candidates. I want a workforce that I can look at and think “these people make miniatures!”, therefore size and styling of beards will be the lynch-pin of my recruitment criteria.

I will also extend the attitude requirement to all our supporting systems. No longer will we ask for detailed requirements from IT suppliers or manufacturers. Anyone who has that GW “twinkle in the eye” (you know the one!) will get a look in. I’ve already arranged for our finances to be handled by this nice chap I met down at the pub last week.

This organisation needs me, it needs someone who can talk to corporate (like a boss), approve memos (like a boss), lead a workshop (like a boss), remember birthdays (like a boss), direct workflow (like a boss), micromanage (like a boss), promote synergy (like a boss) and swallow sadness (like a boss)

So welcome me onboard with open arms and I will lead you to the promised land. On the bright side, we both know GW is too big to fail, so what’s the worst that could happen? And if I don’t get this role I suspect my wife will be livid (she will blame you, and she's on medication, in fact she scares me sometimes, I think she's watching me now....... SEND HELP!).

Oh, and if appointed I will run Games Workshop from my home office in New Zealand. Co-locating corporate leaders is at the heart of the rot in the corporate world. Which reminds me, I will also ban shipping GW products to Australia until the Australian Government issues a formal apology for the underarm incident (Corporates can be used for social good, and this cause is a thing I hold dear).

And no Tom Kirby, you can’t stay on, there ain’t enough room in the shop for both of us. Kirbys cronies will be Vomkriegs cronies, I love cronies. (and it rhymes with ponies).

J Vomkrieg
Future Chairman and Future CEO
31 July 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Games Workshop CEO letter - The craziest thing you will read this week.

You all have to read this, it is the craziest pile of management mumbo jumbo I have ever read, and my job is taking management mumbo-jumbo and translating it into English, so I see a lot of it.

I've highlighted the bits that leap out at me as bizarre, or utter management nonsense. I especially like when he talks about himself in the 3rd person.

http://investor.games-workshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Chairmans-Preamble-2014.pdf



CHAIRMAN’S PREAMBLE

Games Workshop has had a really good year.
From the desk of Tom Kirby

If your measure of 'good' is the current financial year's numbers, you may not agree
. But if your measure is the long-term survivability of a great cash generating business that still has a lot of potential growth, then you will agree.

Having taken on the conversion of our stores to a one man format with all the
concomitant complexity of staff changes and new sites and new lease negotiations – a long job not quite finished – we decided to re-arrange the management of our sales channels from a country-based system to a central one. This meant removing four european headquarters, consolidating all trade (third party) sales personnel at our Nottingham base, creating a new continental european grouping of our retail stores, and recruiting new management for these divisions whilst flattening the structure by removing all middle management. At the same time we changed leadership of our retail chain in the north american area, and gave birth to our new web store after many months’ labour.

All this has significantly de-risked the business. We have far fewer key personnel to replace if need be, and a much lower cost base (£2 million p.a. less). It has cost, in total, around £4.5 million to accomplish. The new web store allows us to sell online more efficiently. It cost around £4 million.

This augurs well for our long term health and cash flow.

What is really remarkable, however, is that it was all accomplished in five months. The levels of complexity handled by our 'back-office' staff – personnel, IT and accounts – are beyond my descriptive abilities. And yet it was co-operatively done with precision, efficiency and calmness at a ferocious speed.

We all owe these people a big vote of thanks. They have saved the company millions.
Working with people like this is why it is a pleasure to work here.

In the technological world we occupy there is constant debate over who 'innovates' and who merely copies.
We have, this last year, spent an indecent amount of your money trying to stop someone stealing our ideas and images. It is a very difficult thing to do when it is done through a legal system designed to prevent people stealing hogs from one another. Our experience has probably been typical of most – far too much money spent on far too little gain. The argument is that we have to do this or we will, bit by bit, lose everything that we hold dear, everything that keeps the business going. Our crops will wither, our children will die piteous deaths and the sun will be swept from the sky. But is it true?

Last year I published the secret that I believe is at the heart of what makes this business great. Steve Jobs once did the same over at heavily litigating Apple. He said they ignored everything that did not lead to 'insanely great products' and that was what made them great. None of the people Apple are suing are trying to do that, so why sue?

I said,
‘we recruit for attitude and not for skill’. It is what makes us great. It is those people who design the miniatures; those people who make them and those people who sell them; those people who transformed our business systems in five short months. I have been deluged with two comments about that statement, neither of which was: 'you fool, you just gave away the crown jewels'. Why doesn't everyone do it? Ask them.

Because no one seems able to grasp the essential simplicity of what we do there has always been the search for the Achilles heel, the one thing that
Kirby and his cronies have overlooked. These are legion. I run through the list from time to time when someone says that computer games will be the death of us – they are so much more realistic now! – again. This year it is 3-D printing. Pretty soon everyone will be printing their own miniatures and where will we be then, eh?

We know quite a lot about 3-D printers, having been at the forefront of the technology for many years. We know of what we speak. One day 3-D printers will be affordable (agreed), they are now, they will be able to produce fantastic detail (the affordable ones won't) and they will do it faster than one miniature per day (no, they won't, look it up). So we may get to the time when someone can make a poorly detailed miniature at home and have enough for an army in less than a year. That pre-supposes that 3-D scanning technology will be affordable and good enough (don't bet the mortgage on that one) and that everyone will be happy to have nothing but copies of old miniatures.

All of our great new miniatures come from Citadel. It is possible that one day we will sell them direct via 3-D printers to grateful hobbyists around the world.
That will not happen in the next few years (or, in City-speak, 'forever') but if and when it does it will just mean that we can cut yet more cost out of the supply chain and be making good margins selling Citadel 3-D printers.

At the heart of the delusion is the notion that designing and making miniatures is easy. It isn't.

On the first of January next year I will be stepping down as CEO of Games Workshop. I intend staying on as non-executive Chairman (if the board will have me), so those of you who want to see an end to these preambles (rhymes with rambles), don't get your hopes up just yet.

The board has prepared a job specification for CEO, and the consequential advertisement. The ad. will be published the day after our AGM (September 18th).
If you apply, we require that you write a letter saying why you want the job. No letter, no interview. The interviews will take place on November 7th and will be at Nottingham. An announcement will be made the following week. We have not decided what will happen if no suitable candidate is found but I suspect my wife will be livid.

Let me dilate about this letter. Last year I wrote here about our recruitment process, and shortly afterwards we recruited a new non-executive director (NXD) using the method described.
We got a great (not good, great) new board member. She is still surprised that I did not read her CV (exasperated would be a more accurate word) but there was no need. Her letter told us what kind of person she was: sincere, open-minded, a learner, excited at the opportunity. The interview told us she had all the qualities needed. It mattered not one jot what her CV said. Appointing NXDs because of their careers rather than who they are is at the heart of the rot in the corporate world.

Tom Kirby
Chairman and acting CEO
28 July 2014


So in short, we hire bullshit artists who parrot our crazy rather than people with actual skills. Fuck me, how is this company still afloat with this madman at the helm?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Aiyanna and Holt - NEW CAMERA

So I manged to get my hands on a really flash camera. Also, the lovely Ms. Vomkrieg has recently been on a Photography course. So, hopefully i can pick up some of the skills shes learned.

She took some photos of Aiyanna and Holt as well as some random shots of my models.

The Horrible thing about a good camera is it shows all the imperfections in more details than you can sometimes spot with the naked eye. 

Honestly, I thought these looked pretty good on the table, but under SUPER CAMERA VISION, you can see all the little imperfections.



Stylistically, I wanted these two to stand out on the batttlefield and picked what i thought was an unusual colour palette. The green and orange are also contrasting, yet complementary colours.

In a sea of Blue and Gold, this tandem should stand out (bt they won't too much due to MAGICAL STEALTH!!!!)


Oh, bonus "stylistic X-Wing shot" to show off how cool the camera is. 




Saturday, 24 May 2014

Back to Arkham - Part one of our epic campaign against the old ones

You may have noticed a conspicuous lack of painting updates lately..... that's mostly because I haven't painted anything in a while. 

I've started a new stage of life (running a business) and I've been enjoying boardgaming and playing computer games.

I just haven't felt much like writing. 


However, my partner and I decided that we were going to pick up the old Arkham Horror challenge we started a few years ago. 

The Challenge is as follows. 


CHALLENGE RULES

The Scoreboard


  • Defeat all 25 Old ones once
  • Investigators stay dead if they die. If we run out of investigators, we lose. 
  • If we team wipe vs an Old One, we have to face them again.
  • The difficulty of the game increases as we succeed. If we lose a lot of investigators, the difficulty will relax. 
  • We must play against each expansion three times. 
  • We must face each heralds twice and use each Guardian/Institution twice
  • Characters keep some gear/statuses between games. (Based on how many games they have played, and their starting gear) 
  • Character stories are used 
  • All games reported to Arkham horror Stats (http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/4731-arkham-horror-statistics-reports/)

Game one

6 Seals, BOOM!
This was easy to setup as we had played the scenario with one of my gaming groups earlier in the week. First up, on easy difficulty, we took on Nyraleothep, with Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, using the Dark Pharaoh Herald. 

It was pretty much a cake walk as the bonus clues from easy difficulty meant there were always clues to burn. 

Our Starting team was playing 

  • Zoey (Insane Evangelical Christian Chef who puts monsters on the stove)
  • George (Her boss, a grumpy old lawyer dude)
  • Silas (A fisherman with a shady past)
  • Akachi (An African Shaman)
The short form of this is that Akachi sealed 4 gates during the game using the combination of the find gate spell, and a pile of clues. 

The highlight of the game was watching poor Silas discover his true nature and turning into a deep one, before Zoey killed him and added her to her impressive cooking pot (11 trophies at game end)

Silas, gone, but not forgotten

So, Scores so far

Great Old ones :1  Investigators 1



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mechanicum - A Horus heresy review



Disclaimer


Spoilers abound in these posts, if you haven’t read the books and will get upset by finding out what happens just stop.

This is also not a recap, if you want a recap go to Lexicanium.

What The Black Library says about the book


As the flames of treachery spread outwards through the Imperium, Horus mobilises those forces who are loyal to him, and plots to subvert or destroy those who stand agaist him. A battle is being fought for the heart and soul of all the Imperial forces – the Astartes, the Imperial Army, the Titan Legions and more. In this epic story, author Graham McNeill tells the story of the civil war on Mars, and the genesis of the Dark Mechanicum.

What the book is really about?


First off, don’t read this book when you are tired (or if you are a bit dim)

There are no less than 5 major divergent story lines with associated characters, and keeping track of who is who, and where they are up to is one of the charms of this book. (if you have trouble with mechanicum, do not try Game of thrones)

Ok, so five major story lines, interdependent but mostly independent of each other.

Story one – The questing Knight dude


Maven is a Knight of Tarantus, a group of noble dudes who drive around big warmachines and, well, act like Knights for 14th century fables about knights.
Kaban Machine hungry!

I won’t say he’s the most complex character in the history of literature, and his story is quite a simple one. There is an explosion the blows up a nuclear reactor, during the lead up to this explosion Maven encounters a giant kill bot (that we later find is called the Kaban Machine).

Maven quickly sums up its an AI, and that is a bad thing to the mechanicum. The rest of his story involves tracking down the Kaban Machine with his best mate, disobeying orders, and blowing up the machine at the heroically appropriate time.

It’s a simple “I MUST SLAY THE BEAST” story, but that was good enough for Beowulf I guess.

Story two – Titan legion vs Titan Legion


Fanboi alert!

I really liked Adeptus Mechanicus the boardgame, so I have a soft spot for the Titan legions. (Even if Legio Metallica has now been removed from canon for legal reasons).

This was fun, stupid, but fun



This story focuses in on the aging commander of the Legio Tempestus (Storm Lord Cavalerio) and his legions conflict with Legio Mortis.

Right now I will point out one of my great bugbears with all of 40k/30k and that is names. Legio Mortis are the bad guys, WHAT A SHOCK, the death legion turn out to be a bunch of evil shits. Ok, this isn’t as bad as Fabius Bile and Abaddon (so, your name means hell….. shady dude) but its still really obvious who the bad guys are.

Anyway, two cool things to note about this story. One is the Storm lords’ transition from being just a modified human, to living in an amniotic tank all the time. It’s nice and sci-fi, and akin to the navigators of dune and other “giving yourself over” stories. I liked it, but felt they could have done a little more with it.

The other cool bit is the titan battle at the end of the story. The first Titan engagement is a let-down, but the finale is pretty awesome. The writer conveys the colossal scale of the conflict, while keeping the tension and desperation high. Very nice action scenes.



Story three – The Dork Mechanicum


Not gonna lie, this is probably the weakest story of the whole bunch. Kelbor-Hal is the fabricator General and a colossal douche. There is a whole arc about him and his cronies doing dirt deeds to win Horus’s favour and open up “SEKRETS BEST LEFT SEKRET”.

Kelbor-Hal and all his cronies are approaching caricature levels of evil. The secret tech they long for has been sealed away by the Emperor, and its pretty much “Insert daemon warp thing into tech” technology.

I get that these guys are meant to be dogmatic fundamentalists, but they really are very ham fisted about it all.

The highlight of this story is probably the catelgue of atrocities they unleash over Mars. It’s bordering on cartoonish the number of experimental new ways they develop to kill people, but it makes for an interesting read and brings home the scale of the conflict quite nicely.

Story four – The “Good Guy” Mechanicum


For a given value of “good” that is.

Even the loyalist Mechanicum are inhuman slave lords suffering from chronic cases of megalomania. Koriel Zeth, Adept of the Magma city is the protagonist here, and she’s the kind of person who will happily kill a thousand psykers in an experiment.



The highlight of this story is the “betrayal of Mars” by the Imperial Fists. The fists show up, and the loyalist Mechanicum are all “YES, WE IS SAVED” and all they do is hit the Marine armour and weapons production lines, steal everything that’s no nailed down, and then bugger off. The loyalists feel well and truly bummed after this.

Bonus points for “The large charge of the knights at Magma City” and “Zeth vs the Assassin” as those are nice epic moments in the story.

I also like that they lose, badly, and totally.

Story Five – Dalia and the Dragon


This is the main story I guess? I suppose you could consider Dalia the main protagonist of the story, even though she has little impact on the wider story. This is an ensemble book, but I do feel her arc is the one we are meant to identify with the most.

First of all, she is not from Mars, so we see the Mechanicum through her eyes. Basic features of the society are tastefully given the “basil exposition” treatment by having a niave off-world noob show up who needs to have it all explained.

It’s an old trick in sci-fi, but ti works here.

She’s also “SPECIAL” with a capital Spec!

We quickly discover that Dalia has a latent psychic ability that allows her to figure stuff out with technology extremely quickly, shes a savant, and with no real technical training she quickly solves the Mechanicum equivalent of a Gordian knot.

But, that’s only the start of her arc. After a horrific run in with a failed experiment with psykers (Thanks ZETH!) she starts to dream of a Dragon caged beneath Mars. 

The Dragon is most likely the C’tan Void Dragon, who is one of the great UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS of the 40k universe.

And the Mechanicum worship it….. crazy bastards.

After an encounter with otherworldly geometry that Lovecraft would be proud of, she settles in for a long haul as guardian of the evil dragon monster of Mars.

I guess even the Emperor cannot kill a C’tan.

All in all Dalia’s story is engaging enough, and she’s an interesting character. But nothing saves the day, and in the end she hides out for the entire rest of the war in a cave.


Why are there humans in my book about super powered Space Marines?


Oddly, in a book with next to no Space Marines there are remarkably few “humans”.

Everyone in the story is either cybernetically altered, a psyker, or a marine.    

MVP – The ensemble of techno assistants.


Dalia’s cohorts are quite a neat little bunch and I like how the writer gave them all quite different characters. Caxton is a honest young man who falls for Dalia, which makes her hermitage at the end a little more poignant. Mellicin initially comes across as a grumpy old cow, but is revealed to be a bit more than that. Severine, the draughter produces one of the really sad personal tragedy moments of the story. Zouche, the Tyrion Lannister of engineers, also has a bitter sweet story about his origin and what being a dwarf in a genetically obsessed society is like. 

Finally, Rho-Mu 31, the cyborg killing machine assigned to protect Dalia has arguably the high point of dialogue in the book when he cracks a joke. It’s wonderfully dark and out of the blue and turns, what could have been a caricature into a character.

Worst Character – The Dork Mechanicum cronies


All of them, so hammy, so moustache twirly. I really wanted a little more complexity from the villains, but then again, this is a Horus Heresy novel.


Why the Emperor is a giant douche


I still find it hard to digest how the Emperor treated Mars as such a special case when it came to religion. In most places he cast down idols and banned worship. On Mars, he fostered it.

Heck, he even imprisoned a C’tan on Mars and let worship of that damned thing continue.

Also, how busy must one be to let the armoury of your empire fall when it’s in the same system as your capital. This seems remarkably short sighted and stupid.



Moustache twirling evil-bastard award – Kelbor-Hal


Dark Mechanicum?

He finally gets his wish and he unveils the secret tech of secret, and his calls his new group the “Dark Mechanicum”.

I would have preferred if one of the opposing Mechanicum leaders coined the phrase. Kelbor-Hal should have referred to his own as the “True Mechanicum”. Dark Mechanicum is just so damn hammy.


















The writing – technical review and evaluation


This is quite a good book I think, one of the better ones. Not as good as some of the Dan Abnett works, but a good solid story, pretty good characters and a story that mattered. Solid, but not special.

That said, I found it a lot better than some of the other books reviewed so far. 

This book gets a “Good to read” rating. (4/5)



Book ranking














































Wednesday, 26 March 2014

More zombicide - Or how we all got eaten

Session two of Zombicide with my very special and significant other. 

So far, we have had a lot of fun. but each session has had the same pattern.

We set up, play for 4 or 5 turns, stuff up and get murdered. 

We then reset the mission and try again, and do a hell of a lot better. 

This time, after 2 and a bit hours, we got murdered quite close to the finish line




So.... this is how it all ended for us tonight. 

The game has a rule, that if you cannot place a certain type of zombie because you have run out of models, then all the zombies of that type on the board activate.

The six runners moved forward, and ate all 4 of our heroes gathered there. 













And when i said close to the finish line, I actually meant on the other side of the map, but with all of the supplies we needed. We still had a long dangerous trek to the exit in the top left of the map. (You may notice one of our survivors on the other side of the map)

But we were badasses, experienced survivors are amazing compared to when you start the game. 

Wanda the waitress could move 8 squares a turn through any number of zombies. 
Amy the goth chick was murdering anything that moved with her shotgun
Ned was a machine with his chainsaw. 
Doug the business man sniped dead 7 zombies in one round, 
and the other lot weren't bad either. 

But still, even with all the baddassatude, it wasn't enough. And zombie ate our brains :(

Still, the story that played out was fun and i enjoyed the game a lot. Great times, very good for 2 players. Curious to see how it works with more


Oh, here you can see Wanda. She opened up a door to a house full of zombies and skated away. Ultimately, my "cleverness" with using Wanda to move the zombies around meant more spawned. Which ultimately ended in us all being eaten :(

And in bonus news, i have been given approval to buy expansions from the household budget instead of my own pocket money. HUZZAH!



Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ol'Rowdy - Fun with flags and gore

I'm pretty darned stoked with how this bad boy has turned out.

I tried some new techniques and some new paints. Damn he looks boss!





First of all, as a character jack I wanted to paint him a little different from my other Cyganr Jacks that are 90% blue. I decided to do him in the same scheme as Thorn and my Warcasters. that is, mostly gold with blue as the 2nd colour. 

Makes them stand out, while still being very Cygnar. 

I also wanted to try out some of the new citadel technical paints. If you haven't seen these yet, go check them out. GW has a bunch of you tube videos about what the paints do and how to use then, they are a little "play school" (Or Sesame street/Blue peter) but they are still quite good short demos of the capability. 

The "blood for the blood god" paint is pretty cool, nice and gloopy and really blood red. I went to town on Rowdy to make him look a bit like a feral monster that has just caved in a warbeasts skull. 

I painted up, in the direction the blood from a blow would be coming. I also flicked blood onto rowdys face and arms. I love how it has dried over the blue sections of the armour. Most pleasing. 

I also used some of the "typhus corrosion" to get a dirty effect on his hands and lower body. 

The other little innovation was to make a banner for Rowdys off-hand. Having his hand just hanging out like that looked a bit dull to me, so viola! Banner!

I'm getting more confident with freehand and would really like to try a proper "art" banner at some point in the near future. For what model, I have no idea, but i'd like to do something nice. 




Coming up on the painting desk, Aiyanna and Holt, as well as Gorman, tempest blazers and Kraye (i need these guys base painted in a week for a tourney! PANIC!!!!)



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