Rotation 2016

Hey everybody!
Time for another game day at, and today I wanted to take some time to mourn two of my favourite Standard decks from this past season. Rotation doesn’t actually happen until Friday of course, when Kaladesh hits for real, but I’ve spent the last couple of days going through my current stable of decks to weed out those with cards from both Dragons of Tarkir and Origins. One deck emerged unscathed, my W/B vampires deck, and another retained the majority of its cards, mono-black vampires. While a couple had never really gotten off the ground anyway, I’ve nevertheless had two that will suffer significantly for the loss of Magic: Origins from Standard. Let’s take a look!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

So first of all, I’m sure plenty of seasoned veterans of the game will be thinking, why would my decks suffer from the loss of Origins? A lot of folks have a bit of a snobby reaction to the core sets, and almost rejoiced when they were cancelled, but I really like both the variety of cards you get in them, and also don’t build decks with which to destroy people. I like a variety in a lot of what I do, and this is certainly clear in the decks that I’m gonna be talking about today!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

First up, it’s my treasured blue/red land prowess thing. I’m not great at coming up with names for my decks, in case it wasn’t abundantly clear already. This deck was a departure for me, because I built it when I made the decision I wanted to see what blue could do. My favourite colour-pair is black/red, and I knew I didn’t want to go down the avenue of blue/black, so veered instead into the toolbox that is Izzet. And as it turned out, I had a lot of fun with this!

The deck involves prowess, obviously, but is still quite creature-heavy, because that’s where I’m most comfortable (though not as bad as my attempt at building a Jeskai deck!) There is also a lot of Awaken shenanigans with the lands, including two copies of Wandering Fumarole, a card that I really enjoy having out on the table more to mess with my opponent than anything else.

The main goal is to use the counter-magic and buff the smaller dudes until I can get the big Djinn characters out; they’re both Flying for the evasion, so they should act as finishers. It has performed really well, but now that rotation will kick a lot of the useful cards out of here, it’s almost a case of back to the drawing board. I don’t want to merely draft more cards into the deck, as it might end up a bit too much of a monster, but I have previously earmarked one or two from Eldritch Moon that could be useful. While there seems to be more of an emphasis on artifacts for blue/red in the set, I suppose we’ll see what Kaladesh can do for me…

Mahamoti Djinn
Soulblade Djinn
Stormchaser Mage (2)
Jhessian Thief (2)
Mizzium Meddler (2)
Acolyte of the Inferno (2)
Umara Entangler (2)
Halimar Tidecaller
Mercurial Geists
Harbinger of the Tides

Negate (2)
Dispel (2)
Scatter to the Winds (2)
Titan’s Strength (2)
Brute Strength (2)
Sure Strike (2)

Rush of Ice (2)
Clutch of Currents (2)

Prism Ring (2)
Orbs of Warding

Highland Lake (4)
Looming Spires (3)
Skyline Cascade (4)
Wandering Fumarole (2)
Mountain (6)
Island (7)

My second Standard deck that I’m going to miss is something else that is pretty much outside of my comfort zone when it comes to playing the game: red/green landfall elementals!

Magic the Gathering Rotation

This deck was a bit of an experimentation as well, as I very rarely play green (I think I play blue more, in fact!) I was enamoured of the landfall mechanic when Battle for Zendikar arrived, however, so had wanted to do something with that. I like the idea of lands coming into play – which should happen a lot, you know? – actually doing more than just providing mana. So with that, I set about building up this thing:

Omnath, Locus of Rage (2)
Grove Rumbler (2)
Fierfiend Elemental
Zendikar Incarnate (2)
Valakut Predator (3)
Cinder Hellion
Embermaw Hellion
Oran-Rief Hydra (2)
Akoum Stonewaker (2)
Jaddi Offshoot (2)

Titanic Growth (4)
Swell of Growth (4)
Titan’s Strength (2)

Retreat to Kazandu (2)
Zendikar’s Roil (4)
Flameshadow Conjuring
Zendikar Resurgent (2)

Sword of the Animist

Cinder Glade
Timber Gorge
Looming Spires (2)
Forest (8)
Mountain (9)

It’s basically a deck that makes huge dudes bigger, and bash everyone in the face. I suppose it’s kind of an aggro deck insofar as it doesn’t really care about defense, but more about presenting a lot of threats from the off, and isn’t very subtle all told. There are a few bits in there about making tokens and stuff, though that’s not super overpowering. Hopefully things like Akoum Stonewalker will draw enough attention that the big Hellions and other Elementals will go unmolested! But not very sneaky at all – the one concession to anything other than face-punching is the Jaddi Offshoot, which is a good chump-blocker that can help gain a bit of life if I’m struggling from not putting up any kind of defense.

I’m not a big fan of green at all, but I did enjoy playing this one, as it failed very rarely. Sometimes it could be overpowering with the right draws, which made some matches too one-sided for me, but a decent deck that will be sorely missed. There may well be some cards in BFZ block that I’ve missed, which could plug some holes once Origins goes for good, but I’m thinking that this deck might actually be retired for the time being.

Of course, rotation isn’t only a time to be sad, as it does also mean that a whole raft of new cards are incoming, which forces a re-evaluation of the previous two sets that will hopefully allow for more cool decks to emerge. I sadly didn’t make it to the prerelease at the weekend, and haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time studying the cards from the new set yet, so I’m kinda excited to see what’s going to be new when I get my hands on those new packs for the first time!

The Autumn Republic

So I’ve finished the Powder Mage trilogy, and my only thought is: wow.

In my previous reviews for the first two books, which you can read here and here, I’ve tried to remain fairly spoiler-free. However, the plot of this book is fairly insane, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get through this blog and do the book justice without mentioning a couple of things, so proceed at your peril!

First of all, I really enjoyed this book. I think that has been true for all of these books, which are each pushing 600 pages, yet I’ve scampered through them much quicker than my usual pace for such things. Brian McClellan has such a way of keeping the action moving, you really don’t want to put the thing down! I read the final 200-ish pages in a day, the last 80 or so kept me up well into the night as I just wanted to see what happened before finally going to sleep! There are very few books that I can say that about, I have to admit!

Picking up where The Crimson Campaign left off, Tamas arrives at the front line with his reinforcements of Deliv troops to discover the absolute shambles that has been made of the war in his absence. He roots out the traitor in the ranks, before heading off into the mountains in search of his son Taniel, who is on the run from escaping the clutches of the Kez at the end of the last book. Tamas leaves detailed plans for the coming battle with Vlora, which I thought was a hilarious way of showing Tamas’ military genius, by having him fight the battle on paper the night before, and it pretty much went that way! You can really see here, if it hasn’t been clear enough already, just why Field Marshal Tamas is the central character of this story. Tamas also recovers Taniel and Ka-Poel, and everyone returns to the camp.

Adamat is also at the camp, and presents his report to Tamas on the whole thing with Lord Vetas, ending with the news that Lord Claremonte and his Brudanian soldiers now hold Adopest. The urgency to end the war with Kez becomes more pronounced and, after the decisive battle mentioned earlier, King Ipille sues for peace. However, during the negotiations, a group of Kez soldiers and Privileged steal into the camp and kidnap Ka-Poel, riding north with her. Taniel pursues them immediately, while Tamas is enraged at the fact Ipille seems to have gone back on his words of true.

Things begin to get extremely complicated in Adopest in the run-up to the elections for the First Minister, especially when Ricard Tumblar is almost killed in a bomb attack. Adamat interviews Lord Claremonte as a prime suspect, and discovers that he has no shadow, which leads him to the startling discovery that he is, in fact, the two-faced god Brude returned to earth. Adamat eventually discovers it is one of the union heads, Lady Cheris, who is responsible for the bomb. Taniel’s pursuit of Ka-Poel’s kidnappers turns up the alarming discovery that they are, in fact, disguised Brudanian soldiers. Just what’s going on?!

Tamas lands a hammer-blow against the Kez at Budwiel, only to discover that Ipille’s son Florian je Ipille has led a coup, killing his father and most of the court, and surrenders to Tamas to avoid further bloodshed. With the war with Kez pretty much concluded, Tamas returns to Adopest and the Brudanian menace. Arriving shortly before the elections, Tamas manages to secure the good will of Claremonte if the god loses the election, in exchange for Kresimir’s body, which has been recovered when the Kez surrendered. The elections go as smoothly as can be expected, and Ricard wins. During his inauguration speech, however, Sablethorn prison collapses, almost killing Ricard – Lady Cheris is revealed to be the second half of the god Brude, and attempts to exact vengeance against the Adrans.

All manner of hell breaks loose in Adopest then, with the Adran forces split between the royal palace, where Claremonte had been residing, and the square, where the Brudanian Privileged attempt to kill Ricard once more. Learning that Ka-Poel is held in the palace, Taniel joins is father there and the two powder mages take on the god Brude, unleashing sorcery the like of which has never been seen before. Tamas is mortally wounded in his battle, and only the timely intervention of Adom manages to save the whole city being destroyed in the process. Tamas dies during the battle with the gods, and Taniel is also pronounced dead, though he uses this to escape from a life following in his father’s wake. Vlora is promoted to general of the army to lead them into the new age of republic.

Okay, so I’ve tried to leave out as many spoilers as I could, but that is pretty much the course of the novel, right there! I couldn’t not talk about the death of Tamas, because it is such a climactic event, and written so damn heart-wrenchingly that I found myself tearing up reading it! Such a profound yet grounded scene, it was just superb, and a fitting end for the character.

There were some parts of this book that I feel were a little rushed, particularly the end of the hostilities with the Kez. Such a central event for so long in the trilogy, it ended probably the only way it could end easily, but Florian surrenders, then we’re suddenly at the gates of Adopest, and it’s a bit like there was a missing chapter or two that could have dealt with some of the aftermath a little more. The Brudanian threat to Adopest, though, was pretty well done, and while I suspect some folks might think it was a bit unnecessary, I thought it worked exactly as it needed to. The intrigue with Lord Claremonte was just great, and I had no problem at all believing his storyline as the novel moved forward.

We get to learn a little more about the magic system in this book, which I was kinda expecting in the last one, as I mentioned in that blog. Borbador spent a portion of the last book working with Nila, the laundress from Duke Eldaminse’s house who I haven’t previously mentioned in the blogs because I found her to be a bit of an annoying character, to be honest. At the end of the last book, she was revealed to have magical power, and here she is trained to use that power by Bo, with some pretty amazing results. Consequently, her character arc is pretty amazing, and perhaps one of the only characters in the entire trilogy who actually grows. Some of her early characterisation therefore becomes clear – she’s always portrayed as a bit weak but yet fiery, and I felt sometimes this was too much at odds to work properly. But the fact that she is possibly the most powerful Privileged of the last six hundred years can’t go unnoticed!

All in all, anyway, this book is just amazing, and a definitely worthy end to the trilogy. Indeed, the trilogy as a whole is some of the most fun I’ve had with books in recent memory! There are, however, a number of loose threads left dangling at the end here that, if I hadn’t known about a new book coming out next year, I’d be a bit mad about… For one thing, just what is Nila? Is she merely a Privileged, or a Predeii? What’s the future for Kez? Why exactly is Beon in hiding now? What are Taniel’s plans? Things seem a little vague here…

The next book, Sins of Empire, is coming out next March, as per the tweet above. I was studiously avoiding anything about this book before making it to the end of The Autumn Republic, as I didn’t want to accidentally discover something that could be a spoiler, you know? Well, as it turns out, the only thing I could possibly have deduced is that Vlora appears to be in this next one, but it seems to be a totally different setting etc. We’re going to Fatrasta! Excellent! The setting for this novel series is far too rich for us to remain in Adro for too long, of course. Given that Ka-Poel is from Fatrasta, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing her and Taniel, and maybe learning more about her magic and whatnot, so that could be cool. I’m not sure if I’d want an entire trilogy set just there, however, so here’s hoping it’s either (a) amazing, and I’m wrong, or (b) more wide-ranging than a single nation, and I’m still wrong!

Hobby Progress, week 38

Hey everybody!
I had the week off work this week, and it has been awesome for my hobby-time! Prepare for one of the most exciting and prolific painting progress blogs since I began this series back in January!

Hobby Progress 38

To start with, it’s the Skeleton Warriors that have been featured in previous installments! These are the first Tomb Kings models that I’ve actually managed to finish, and while they won’t be winning any competitions any time soon, I’m really happy with them! That said, they are actually going to form part of my Armies on Parade display – my Stormcast will be invading Khemri/Realm of Death!

I think I’ve mentioned some of it previously, but let’s talk about the scheme in its entirety here – mainly because I’ll probably forget otherwise… So the models were sprayed with Corax White, and the bone shaded with Seraphim Sepia. For the gold, I’ve used Balthasar Gold, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and drybrushed with the new Skullcrusher Brass. The shields were actually more complicated than I’d expected: painted with Teclis Blue, shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade, and lightly overbrushed with Lothern Blue. I’ve then shaded them again with Agrax Earthshade, then finally overbrushed some Macragge Blue at the top near to the gold trim. The result is almost a blending look, though was arrived at pretty much by accident! The headdresses were painted with Macragge Blue, and shaded with Nuln Oil. All of the spear hafts were painted with Dryad Bark and shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and the spear tips were done with Leadbelcher and shaded with Nuln Oil gloss, which hasn’t ended up with as glossy a look as I was expecting. I kinda like the idea of having a more obsidian look to those, so I might go over them again. The strips of cloth on the standard, and trumpet thing, as well as some of the shields, were basecoated with Rakarth Flesh, and then shaded heavily with Reikland Fleshshade – because I want them to look more akin to flayed flesh than cloth. Finally, the bases were painted with Blackfire Earth, which I’m upset to report my pot has dried out, so I had to mash it up with a lot of water to get it going. I think I’m going to have to invest in some more for all of the Tomb Kings I have, though! Also, the rims were painted with Dawnstone.


Hobby Progress 38

I’ve also painted up some more Horus Heresy legionaries, further expanding my Alpha Legion! I’ve actually merely finished them off, as the armour and some of the silver had already been started. But it’s always good to get things actually finished! Following the main scheme for these guys, the skin has caused me a lot of trouble. In the novel Legion, the marines are described as having coppery skin, so I’ve wanted to emulate this, but didn’t really have much of an idea of how to do that. So, I initially painted their heads – lightly – with Balthasar Gold. You know, for literal coppery skin. I then went for a bit of an overbrush technique of Doombull Brown and Wazdakka Red in a roughly 2:1 mix. While this worked wonderfully for the chap on the right, the chap on the left didn’t seem to come out looking that great. So I went to the usual Cadian Fleshtone and lightly brushed that onto the one on the left, making him a bit paler than the other guy. But I guess it all adds for the variety! Again, they’re not going to win any awards up close, but I think they look pretty good when they’re in the middle of the other guys!

Hobby Progress 38

I’m really happy with how my Alpha Legion has been growing so far this year, and while it has been fairly slow to get anywhere, I think that’s the best for me!!

On Wednesday, I gave myself a bit of a painting challenge for the afternoon, seeing how far I could get with the unit of Vanguard Veterans. These are the guys, three of which I’d attempted to paint as Scythes of the Emperor, decided better of it, and stripped them before spraying them with Macragge Blue. At some point in this process, the finish on these models has become a bit rough and uneven, and I’m left with some chaps that are less than ideal, if I’m honest, but seeing as how I actually want my Ultramarines to be 4th company anyway, I’m treating these almost as practice miniatures – their armour is sufficiently detailed that I’m trying to make a good job of them with some different effects or whatever, but I won’t be too torn up if they turn into an absolute mess.

The challenge lasted four and a half hours, anyway, and in that time I think I’ve done a pretty good job on them! I have done more work on them since, of course…

While I’m not sure if I’m calling them finished, I think I’ve done as much on them for now that I can. I’m still not happy with them, and I’ve been thinking a lot about stripping them again if/when I get an ultrasound cleaner, as I expect that would be a much more thorough clean. And speaking of models that I’m also unsatisfied with…

Hobby Progress 38

The five assault terminators that I’d started ages ago! I don’t know what it is, but these models just feel really horrible to paint right now, like the previous layers of paint were applied too thickly. If memory serves, I sprayed these with Macragge Blue and, while the original batch of space marines didn’t seem to be too badly affected, it feels a bit like that has obscured too much detail for me. Again, I’m really not happy with these, and if I do go down the route of an ultrasound cleaner, I’ll be throwing these guys in there as well.

But to finish, I’ve been working on yet more space marines – it’s the second lot of ten from that first batch of marines I built up late last year! Including Captain Ventris and Sergeant Lysane!

Hobby Progress 38

These guys have been a lot better to paint, and over the course of Saturday afternoon, I got them done. The gold bits I’ve done slightly differently to my usual scheme, in that I used Reikland Fleshshade to shade it, rather than Agrax Earthshade, then lightly drybrushed with Golden Griffon. The green trip for 4th company is just three thin coats of Elysian Green, and the bolter casings are done with Abaddon Black and washed with Nuln Oil, as are the silver bits. Ventris’ face has caused me a lot of concern – it’s the usual Citadel scheme of Cadian Fleshtone, Reikland Fleshshade, and Kislev Flesh, but I think that last looks a bit too weird somehow. I’m still learning faces, of course, so I might change this soon. I still want to do something with the power sword, Lysane’s flamer I want to try and do the muzzle burn thing on, and I should probably add some decals to them too, so they’re not quite finished yet, but in the main, they’re done! I think the tactical squad looks great so far, anyway!

Hobby Progress 38

Shamefully, this is the extent of my Ultramarines army right now, also! I do have a lot of half-finished things on the go, of course, but still!

Going back to what I was saying about faces up there, I’ve also been painting a couple of others:

Hobby Progress 38

The two Dark Angels here are probably the easiest to talk about, as their faces are really hidden and stuff, so only the suggestion of skin and they look okay. The Blood Ravens librarian in the centre, however, has been more of a concern because his head is much more prominent! Again, it’s the same scheme as Uriel Ventris described above, as I was doing all of these chaps at the same time, though I’ve also put some Celestra Grey onto his eyes – some figures like the librarian here have more pronounced eye-bumps, while others like the captain actually have pronounced cheekbones, hiding the eyes. For the librarian, I’m going to paint his eyes vaguely glowing, so it isn’t a problem, but I think having the grey there looks a bit weird…

Unless it isn’t obvious, since the last time the librarian appeared in my progress blog, I’ve done a lot of the tan colours on his body – all Zandri Dust, though the tabard and shoulder pad have been shaded Seraphim Sepia, while the purity seals and librarian skulls have been shaded Agrax Earthshade. I’ve also painted his power sword, with a weird mix of Balthasar Gold and Leadbelcher. I basically wanted to see what happens when you mix these two paints, and it looks kinda nice, so I thought, why not?

Finally, I’ve been working on the Knight-Heraldor, who will be joining my Stormcast on the board for Armies on Parade next month!

Hobby Progress 38

He’s pretty easy to paint, actually, for all that he’s a character unit. The armour is Balthasar Gold, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and drybrushed with Golden Griffon; the silver bits are Leadbelcher, shaded with Nuln Oil, and drybrushed with Necron Compound; the purple bits are Naggaroth Night highlighted with Xereus Purple, and the plume is Celestra Grey shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade. The pennant coming off the trumpet is Thunderhawk Blue, shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade, and lightly drybrushed with Celestra Grey. All I need to do is paint the hilt of the sword, and he’s finished! So that’s been surprisingly easy, anyway – I think it helps I used him to break the monotony of painting so many marines this week, which has certainly helped!

So, all in all, I feel like I’ve made some excellent progress this week!

As I said above, I’m going to abandon those veterans and terminators for the time being, while I figure out whether I want to actually keep them or strip them. It’s currently no great loss, of course, because my Ultramarines are hardly a force that just needed one of those units to tip them over the edge, but still! I think it’s shown me that spraying Macragge Blue might be best left for vehicles or larger things, and otherwise I’m best off just painting it on with a brush.

Getting those five tactical marines finished – pretty much in a day – has got me back in the mood for painting marines. Painting these faces, especially the Deathwatch Librarian, has got me back in the mood for painting more Deathwatch. So maybe next weekend, I’ll have some more of those chaps done! That said, I’m also feeling a bit in the mood for more instant gratification, so I might build some more 30k marines for my Alpha Legion. I really should try to work on my board for Armies on Parade. But all this talk of Genestealer Cults has got me thinking about making a start with those guys, as well! What to do, what to do…

I’ll probably end up painting something completely different to all of that, anyway!!

Genestealer Cult!

Genestealer Cult

Well, I’m more excited for this than I first thought I would be, I have to admit! When I first got my hands on the Deathwatch: Overkill game, my attention was mainly drawn to the space marines, and while I did build up a couple of the genestealer cult models, I haven’t done anything with them yet. The Deathwatch were formally launched into 40k in August, and I kinda threw myself behind that release, and while a lot of the internet has been excited for these cult minis, I can’t really say I feel the same way. I think a lot of that excitement is based in the nostalgia for the genestealer cult from back in 2nd edition (early 1990s), replete with cult limousine…

Obviously, I can’t speak for this nostalgia myself, having only become interested in Warhammer 40k in the last couple of years, but I have to say, I really like the mining aesthetic that the models have from the Overkill game, even though I don’t tend to go for that kind of grungy look for my miniatures. I’ve started to assemble a lot of the minis from Overkill, at any rate, partly after being inspired by a post from a Facebook group earlier in the week.

Genestealers are linked to some of my own nostalgia for 40k of course, as one of my first experiences with the setting was the 4th edition Space Hulk boardgame released in the autumn of 2014. Blood Angels vs Genestealers in the narrow confines of a derelict space hulk, the game features a horde of the tyranid vanguard, and if I hadn’t already become so enamoured with my Necrons, I would very likely have bought into the new tyranid bugs that were released around the same time…

So I’m not going to go all-in on genestealer cults, but I am thinking about getting some more models to build up and paint. All of this interest, however, has got me thinking about these cultists, and what the story is all about. So sit back, while I educate myself about all this stuff!

Genestealer Cult

The genestealers are the vanguard for the invading tyranid forces, sent forth in advance of the massive hive ships to subvert a planet to make it ready for conquest. The genestealer infects hosts with its DNA, causing hybrids to be born when that host reproduces. For a generation or two, the offspring will appear vaguely like its parent, though further generations will reveal more of the genestealer look – more arms, tails, bulbous heads and blue/purple skin.

I find this kinda fascinating, possibly due to having enjoyed the Shield of Baal series so much. Genestealers are fairly intelligent for a tyranid lifeform, able to operate away from the hive mind or synapse creatures for extended periods thanks to its own form of brood mind, directed mainly by the Broodlord. With enough genestealers operating under this brood mind, the tyranid hive fleet can sense the planet ready for conquest through the warp. Which brings us to Genestealer Cults!

These cults are formed from the first offspring of infected hosts, and band together into a vague sort of family that has a vague sort of worship of some kind of figurehead – sometimes referred to as the four-armed emperor, I’ve heard? Anyway, by banding together like this, the psychic resonance they create attracts the hive fleet, and the cult attempts to sow dissent against the Imperium to ease the way for the tyranids to then invade and digest the planet.

While a Broodlord is the military leader of a genestealer force, a distinct entity referred to as the Patriarch is the head of a genestealer cult, and provides the psychic link for the rest of the cult members. The Patriarch itself is a powerful psyker that can last for hundreds of years, readying the way for the approaching hive fleet. It sounds like a wonderfully creepy way of leading the little bugs, with more, well, cultish overtones than the Broodlord itself.

The Patriarch is served by the Magus, another psyker though almost human in appearance. Its primary role is to serve as the public face of the cult, and relays the orders of the Patriarch to the members. By the time of the Magus’ birth, the cult will have grown significantly, allowing a more widespread control of the planet. This is achieved by the powers of hypnosis and mind-control possessed by the Magus. The Magus is a fourth-generation hybrid, but any children it has will first be purestrain genestealers once more. A pretty horrendous thought, giving birth to six limbs and chitinous exoskeleton…

Something that I’ve found interesting, in the run-up to the Genestealer Cults release from GW, is how/why they can ally with Imperial Guard, never really seeing the link between the two. Well, as it happens, there is a further element of the cult referred to as Brood Brothers – the original infected hosts that started the spawn cycle. When these folks have their hybrid babies, that hybrid psychically dominates its parents, enslaving it to the cult and the whims of the Patriarch. Being normal humans in any other respect, they are able to operate the machinery of the Guard or any Planetary Defense Force, and so open the door for all these types of ally shenanigans that I find really interesting.

Genestealer Cult

So there you have it, the results of my research into these subterranean cults and why I think they’re so cool! I’m definitely going to be picking up the Codex next week, along with a box of ten more neophyte hybrids!


Hereticus Dan Abnett

I’ve made it to the end of the Eisenhorn trilogy! I finished Hereticus at the weekend and, while I’m going to try to avoid major spoilers here, some might be inevitable as I discuss just how insane this book gets! I mean “insane” in a good way, of course! Let me explain…

The book takes place about fifty years after the second, but has significant ties to both of the earlier books that really helps to tie everything into the overall storyline, which I kinda wasn’t expecting, but was a nice touch. Eisenhorn is officiating at a heresy trial when he learns the man who killed his old friend Midas Betancore is on the same world. He sets off with his team in pursuit, but discovers an Imperial Titan waiting for him, and is forced to use some of his more dangerous skills to vanquish the war machine.

During the battle, several of his colleagues are injured, so the team retires to Gudrun and Messina in order to recuperate. Unfortunately, a co-ordinated strike against Eisenhorn’s entire organisation is then launched, leading to a massive chase across the planet. Eisenhorn realises that Pontius Glaw, the disembodied cultist from Xenos, is bankrolling the mercenaries who are hunting him down, and teams up with his erstwhile protege Gideon Ravenor to finally put an end to the Chaos worshipper.

I have to say, I wasn’t as much of a fan of this book as I was of its predecessor. I think the protracted chase sequence that forms the core of the book, while it has a lot to commend it, felt a bit weird for a Warhammer novel. I mean, it reads a lot more like Murder on the Orient Express, somehow, but I do appreciate how Dan Abnett really fleshes out Gudrun as a planet, with distinct locations and geography. I’ve read so much science fiction where planets are largely one-dimensional entities, whereas here we have a planet that feels like a planet, which was really novel!

I can’t write any kind of review of this book without mentioning the body count here. As I said, Pontius Glaw sends mercenaries after Eisenhorn’s entire retinue and, while I thought that Malleus had enlarged the group around him almost unnecessarily, it was still absolutely shocking to see how so many of these people are stripped away from him. However, it doesn’t end with the attack on his estate, and I found myself genuinely distraught when certain folks kicked the bucket! Again, I’m really trying to avoid spoilers, but there are two deaths in particular at the end that I was really upset by! A testament to the writing, right there.

Final thoughts on the trilogy

I’m really glad I’ve read these books, as they seem to be seminal works from the 40k universe. My enjoyment of them was somewhat uneven, though at their best, these books really are amazing. I love the way Abnett weaves so many elements that we’re used to primarily from a gaming perspective into a genuine cohesive narrative that transcends mere game tie-in material. I think I still prefer the Ultramarines novels as the best of 40k novels, but these weren’t half bad overall, either!


Hey everybody!
It’s another game day blog here at, and continuing the recent theme for game days here, I’m looking at another upcoming game – Gorechosen, out this coming weekend from Games Workshop!


It’s one of this breed of almost filler-games they’ve been producing, which are basically a collection of pre-existing models collected together into some kind of game, with a significant discount. Much like the Imperial Knight game a whiles back, the game is retailing for roughly half the price of buying the models individually – £71 for the four miniatures, or £35 for the game. It’s an interesting idea, though I’m still waiting for them to do something with miniatures that I actually want!!

As a game itself, the game looks really quite straightforward. Four characters are fighting in a bit of a free-for-all until one man is left standing. Each character has its sheet that describes how it fights in the game, and something I really like is the kill zone mechanic, which denotes the area around the model that you can affect with your weapon. It would lead to some interesting choices, I’m sure, and I’d be intrigued to see if they release further rules for models in this game, how this changes.

Straightforward or not, the game does actually look like a lot of fun! It can apparently be played by 2-4 players, but I imagine a 2 player game wouldn’t be quite as much fun as more of a free-for-all four player extravaganza – which in turn makes me a bit sad that my play group isn’t bigger these days! I’ve not really been down to my local store for a while though, so they may have plans that I could perhaps get in on.

I’m not the biggest fan of Chaos in terms of miniatures, but have liked the look of the Exalted Deathbringer since he came out, and have thought about getting Bloodreavers for a while, too – so I could easily see myself buying this a little further down the line. I suppose I could always try and get a demo game in, to see if it would be the kind of thing I’d like…

What are your thoughts on these style of games? A weird kind of discount, or do you like the way GW seem more interested in making more than just two huge war games out of their miniatures these days?

Week off, day one!

Hey everybody!
I’ve got a week off work, so I’m looking forward to doing a whole lot of nothing for a week! Today has been a great start in that respect, and despite feeling like I’m coming down with a cold, I’m happy to report that I’ve had a really productive day for painting! Full details will be revealed on Sunday’s painting progress blog, of course, but hopefully I can continue in this vein and get a lot more progress with my ongoing projects!

I also had a chance to catch up with the latest issue of White Dwarf, the first in the new monthly iteration of the magazine. Relaxing this morning with a coffee, I perused the pages and was pretty blown away by a lot of what’s going on in here! I mean, the Eldar Biel-Tan army of the month is just stupendous!! I really enjoyed the idea of the Tale of Four Warlords, and kinda wish I could do something similar, but I know I just don’t have the dedication for that. The blue Nurgle stuff was really interesting, though! There is a lot in this magazine, and I can highly recommend it to anyone looking for some hobby goodness – but it’s more than likely you’ll have gotten a hold of this already if you’re looking for that!

Lots of painting has been happening, which is really exciting as I’ve actually finished painting some guys. Aside from this, I’ve also been checking out the latest news coming from over in Nottingham, and the leaks around the Genestealer Cult stuff coming from this weekend!

I’m surprised to say that I’m kinda looking forward to this! Having a lot of the miniatures anyway from the Overkill boxed game, I think I might pick up the Codex anyway, but I’m not so sure yet. I’m also not sure if I’d want to pick up any of the additional kits, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see on that score. I think more than anything, I’m just excited to see some of the more side-event things happen for the main game, anyway!

I’m also excited to see the next Horus Heresy boxed game coming, from the leaked cover of the November WD. Not really a fan of Mark-III armour, but I do like the Thousand Sons, so I suppose I’m looking forward to it for that. I wasn’t entirely sure about Betrayal at Calth until I actually saw the unboxing, and eventually got two boxes, so I’m expecting that I’ll be buying this one when it comes out. Though if Blood Bowl is also coming out for Christmas, this may be a fairly tall order…

In other news, I’ve started to work on a new deck for Lord of the Rings LCG, which I haven’t played for a long while now. I haven’t really used a lot of the new cards – heck, I’ve not bought any of the new cycle yet! – so I want to really investigate what’s going on there. I’m hoping, as the week goes on, that I’ll get some games in with this thing, then who knows, maybe a future game day blog or something might feature a look at it!

So, a really productive start to the week, and yet also really quite restful, which is always a good thing. I hope this sets the tone for the week!

Hobby Progress, week 37

Hey everybody,
Another quiet week this week as I’ve been working ridiculous hours prior to my week off! I’ve done one or two things, but sadly not as much as I’d like. But anyway, I’m here to talk about the good stuff that I have been up to so, without further ado, let me introduce you to my Tomb Kings!

Hobby Progress 37

These guys have been an absolute blast to paint so far, let me tell you! After building them all up, I’ve sprayed them Corax White, which itself was a bit of a trauma as I’ve previously had really bad luck with that, but I shook it for an eternity, made sure it was really warm and stuff, and stayed about 8 inches away from my models, and they’ve turned out pretty well, by and large! There are some areas that look grainy, but it’s so much better than things like the Necropolis Knights, so that’s a good thing!

Anyway. My usual method for painting skeletons – that is to say, the method I used in the one time I’ve done this previously – is to spray them white, then use Seraphim Sepia wash on them, and leave them at that. It gives a lovely aged-bone look that I like, anyway. Sure, if they’re in the desert they should be more bleached, but I don’t mind.

From there, I also applied the wash to the backs of the shields, and some areas I knew I wanted to be painted gold, such as the icon and the sergeant’s headpiece etc. Basically, anything that would need a lot of work to be painted onto white. I then decided to do the shields a really bright – obnoxiously bright, actually – blue; Teclis Blue. Painted directly onto white, this colour is ludicrously bright! I’ve washed it with Drakenhof Nightshade, and it’s still too bright. I’ve highlighted it with Lothern Blue, but I’m thinking I may need to go back with something like Agrax Earthshade before they’re done. I’m not a big fan of weathering models, but these guys are undead skeletons, after all…

The golden bits have so far been painted with Balthasar Gold, and not gotten much further. I’d been toying with using Retributor Armour instead, but I think, while that shade looks fantastic on the Deathwatch stuff, it’s still a bit too much for my fantasy guys. I like the idea that the Deathwatch have the resources to make their armour and equipment super clean and stuff, but these skeletons are just skeletons, you know?

Anyway. I need to paint the spears and I need to finish the gold, then do the basing and they’ll be completely done! If I actually tried, I think these guys could have been painted in a day, they are pretty quick to paint in this kind of scheme. I think post Armies on Parade I might do a squad of archers, and I may actually test that theory. For now, however, I’m trying not to get distracted by things and just get the board done. So far I’ve primed it and done little else, but I have a couple of ideas, so I’m not exactly losing focus yet! The idea is that my Stormcast are invading the realm of the dead, so I want to get some of those ruins and arrange them with the skeletons defending them, and the Stormcast are just coming down in force. (Massive thanks to the guy at my local GW for the inspiration there!)

So I have a week off coming up and, while I am actually going away for some of it, I still hope that I can get some work done for the days I’m at home and see some models finished!

Come on down to Arkham! Now in card form!

In the second of my over-excited post-GenCon game posts, I’m taking a look at the Arkham Horror LCG coming out imminently from Fantasy Flight. In the wake of the company’s break with Games Workshop, and the demise of Conquest, it’s good to see there will be a game that looks like it can slip into the void, and it looks like it will be a game for the ages. I’ve already talked about this briefly, but today, I’m going to take a look at all of the excitement from the recent news and previews, and hopefully be able to make sense of it all!

Arkham Horror LCG

The game can be played solo, which is one of the biggest draw for me in this day and age. Trying to get people together for games days has become entirely too much of an industry for me these days! Because of this, I might be drawing a lot of comparisons with Lord of the Rings LCG, so head here if you don’t know about that game!

First of all, though, let’s look at the deckbuilding. You play an investigator, who seems to be like your Hero card in LotR, and a bit like your Warlord in Conquest, in that they have a set number of cards you must include in the deck. Something I really like about this, however, is the fact that your deck includes weakness cards, which add so much more to the story of the game. Indeed, this is what I love about games like this overall – when you aren’t focused on making a game that has an associated competitive level to it, you can make the game so deep and much more interesting than constantly providing cards that attack your opponent or whatever. If it wasn’t already Lovecraft-inspired, this game would now be an instabuy when it comes out for the deckbuilding alone! And check out those card backs – nice!

But that’s not all, because this is a role-playing-card-game-game! Your deck is built with these “signature” cards, and then you choose a class to follow! There are also limitations to how much stuff your investigator can have out on the table – much like Arkham Horror’s hand mechanic for using items, the game uses these limits for hands, body, allies, awareness and accessories. It’s something I really like about the board game, as it adds an element of realism to an otherwise abstract idea.

The game appears to be played similarly to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, in that you play an adventure that is part of a linked campaign, and your success in each adventure determines how you customise your deck. That sounds really great, though something I dislike about the Pathfinder deck customisation rules is how you need to break down your deck between adventures to the basic cards again, and it seems like an age between having extra slots to increase your deck size. Of course, in that game it makes sense for balance reasons, but a part of me hopes that Arkham Horror LCG allows for a bit more flexibility with your upgrades!

The game play actually reminds me of Call of Cthulhu LCG, where you have skills that you make checks against – in CoC, you’re trying to put successes on stories, and here you’re investigating locations to find clues. At any rate, it’s nice to have that returning feel to the new game! There’s a really nice addition to this investigation mechanic, however, where you pull a chaos token from a bag, which can have an adverse impact on how you go on with the game. Sounds like a lot of thematic play is inbound, indeed!

Arkham Horror LCG

But what about the actual point of the game?

It looks like the game is all about finding the clues to stop the diabolical schemes that are going off in Arkham. The game has agenda cards that are split between the investigators and the game itself, and you need to put enough clues on the investigator side before the game can get enough doom on its own side. This is something that I really like! LotR has had similar things in the past with one or two scenarios, where you’re trying to advance the quest before some tokens are removed from objective cards or whatever, but in the main, I think the failing of that game can sometimes be that you’re pretty much only opposed by the enemy cards, so they make the game more difficult by having increasingly boss-level enemies, which really only leads to frustration. Recent expansions have remedied this somewhat with timed effects, but still! I think the idea of basically fighting the game rather than a progression of enemies could lead to some excellent scenarios here that aren’t combat-heavy, but more focused on exploration and investigation.

There also seems to be a lot going on between-games. After each game, you have the deck-customisation bit whereby you can upgrade and whatnot, but your actions taken in the game can greatly affect how you then upgrade. That sounds like it might be a lot of work for me, as I’m generally quite hopeless about thinking that far ahead. Looks like I might be levelling-up in life, not just my investigator!

The previews emphasize how the main ‘unit’ of the game is the campaign, and you play each scenario as a linked thing. While I like this idea a lot, and think there’s a lot to be said for it, sometimes I think I might just want to have a crazy adventure, risk my sanity, and shoot some cultists with my .38 special, you know what I mean? I like the idea of having just a one-off game, and I think that might be where print-on-demand could come in. For this year’s Arkham Nights, they’re giving out a standalone scenario, Curse of the Rougarou, which will be available later on via PoD. That would be cool if the scenarios are all linked, we could get some one-off things. Or maybe a shorter thing, like two linked scenarios, rather than a huge ongoing campaign?

That actually brings me on to the next bit… expansions!

The Dunwich Legacy

Last week, FFG announced the first deluxe expansion for the game, The Dunwich Legacy, and while some folks have been a bit incredulous that they’d do this, I’m just really excited for it! Aside from the fact that The Dunwich Horror is one of my all-time favourite Lovecraft tales, I love the fact we’re seeing how the game will progress right off the bat! It’s also quite similar to the way LotR worked, with having a story set after the events of the source material – we’re on the trail of the missing professors who climbed that hill to banish the Horror!

The expansion includes two new scenarios that link with the subsequent six Mythos Packs to create an eight part campaign. However, the announcement does state that the scenarios can be played independently, which sounds super-exciting!

It looks like the core set will be available around mid-October, and the first expansion will hopefully be with us in time for Christmas. Overall, I’m really excited for this one, and I just hope it lives up to these expectations once I get my paws on it!


Malleus Dan Abnett

Malleus is the second book in the Eisenhorn trilogy, and I have to say, I really enjoyed this book a lot more than the first! The book picks up a century after the first, with Inquisitor Eisenhorn still hunting out the enemies of the Imperium. At first I felt a bit cheated by this huge change, as I’m sure there could have been plenty of story to tell in the intervening years, but anyway. His team has changed, inevitably, with Bequin now heading up a ‘Distaff’ of psychic blanks, and the young Interrogator, Gideon Ravenor, who will later go on to have his own trilogy.

The story is really good, and follows the trail of the demonhost Cherubael, who we met briefly in the first book. During a triumph celebration, a massive attack is launched in order to free a group of 33 psyker prisoners – or more accurately, one alpha-plus psyker known as Esarhaddon. The plot thickens due to the fact Eisenhorn is implicated as a heretic following a transmission from a fellow inquisitor where Cherubael suggests he and Eisenhorn are working together. The trail for Esarhaddon leads Eisenhorn to Cadia where, just as it seems things might be going to plan, the Inquisition catches up with them and places him under arrest. He escapes and begins to implement his plan against the demonhost, resulting in a climactic battle. The epilogue is absolutely incredible!

I wasn’t entirely sure about Xenos, but Malleus is such a great book, I’m now completely sold on this series! One of the most enjoyable sections of this novel was that spent with Eisenhorn at home in Thracian Primaris, where we see something of the more ordinary life of the Inquisitor. The whole sequence with the triumph was nicely done, and I have to say, I felt a little thrill at getting to visit Cadia!

Indeed, something I’ve found myself appreciating about this series more than any other so far is seeing the little bits and pieces that I’m familiar with from the 40k universe realised in an actual narrative form – and a grown-up narrative, at that. I mean, we know about Nurgle and Slaanesh, and Cadia and the Ordo Malleus from the game, you know? But seeing how someone with Dan Abnett’s flair for storytelling puts all of these pieces together into a brilliantly cohesive story is really quite magnificent!

I had been reading these novels interspersed with the Powder Mage trilogy, but I’ve decided to move directly on to Hereticus now, so I’ll be back with my review soon!