The Apocalypse is here!

Hey everybody,
So, Apocalypse is coming on the horizon for Warhammer 40k. While I’m not really all that into playing such massive games, I’ve actually surprised myself at how interested I’ve become in this latest format for the game, after watching the brief run-down video from Becca Scott over on theĀ  Warhammer TV channel. In case you haven’t taken a look, I’ll link it here:

My very first impressions after watching this were of just how similar it sounds to card-based combat games like Battlelore. I find this interesting, as I had originally had the impression this scale of game was literally just for people who wanted to spend an entire day playing a single game of 40k, or else wanted to play with all of their massive Forge World stuff that required remortgaging in order to buy, or possibly both. The video, in fact, makes the game seem a whole lot less complicated than that, and I can actually see me giving it a go sometime in the near future!

Right off, something I really like about this system is the way the army building works. Building a force using detachments is nothing new for 40k, but here we see that the detachment functions as a singular entity, activating at the same time, and relying on its commander for in-game leadership. In regular games of 40k, I find myself (and see plenty of others) building armies where the HQ which goes into a Vanguard detachment never has any in-game link to the Elites within, and is almost seen as a tax. Here, it sounds like it might be a lot different, and I like that!

Here’s something huge: movement trays! Apocalypse isn’t Epic, and so troops units still have a vital role to play. However, moving about dozens of units model-by-model will be arduous for anybody to watch, so we’re seeing movement trays coming back, and the internet rejoices!

We’ve got an Index of faction focus articles that show pretty much all of the regular factions will be making an appearance – and it’s nice to see the Sisters of Battle included here, ready for their big plastic release that is hopefully coming later this year!

It’s probably the fact that it feels like such a new and interesting way to play the game, but I’m really quite keen to pick this one up! I’m also a bit of a sucker for this style of box set, with all the fancy dice and tokens and cards. It sounds like it should make large-scale 40k games much more bearable than some of the horror stories of playing Apocalypse from back in the day, so it’ll be interesting to see how much of that is true. I never played Apocalypse back in the day, of course, but still…

It goes up for pre-order on Saturday, along with a bunch of other stuff (including, naturally, a bunch of battalion boxes to help you flesh out an existing army ready for the new system, or maybe to start off a new one). If I do find my way to playing, I will pretty much certainly be playing with either Necrons or Dark Eldar, depending on how the army composition works. I mean, I’ve got loads of painted Dark Eldar ready to go, so hopefully they’ll turn out to do me well!

Apparently, it’s summer now…

Hey everybody,
It’s been raining something terrible here in the UK for the last week or so, which has left me with a lot of indoor pursuits to take my mind off the fact we’ve had more than a month’s rainfall within hours. I’ve already talked about getting back into Magic, which has been very exciting as I’ve been rediscovering that classic. I’ve got quite a bit more to discuss on that, of course, so those blogs will be peppering my site over the coming weeks and months. I’ve already got some lined up, to keep things going while I move house (though when, exactly, that will be, remains to be seen!) so I thought I’d check in with everything else that has been going on!

First of all, I’ve really gotten back into painting, and have been really getting somewhere with my Skitarii army ideas from days gone by. I’ve been toying around with quite a number of list ideas, though for now I’m trying to focus on painting up what I’ve got built, and ensuring I can bring down the pile of shame into something more akin to a proper army.

I’ve managed to get two lots of five troops, along with one HQ and one elite slot finished. Once I’ve finished up the Tech Priest Enginseer and the next ten Vanguard painted up, I want to move back to making the two lots of five troops into two lots of ten, which I’ll probably do alongside another character model. I’ve also built up five Sicarian Infiltrators, which I really like – especially that Princeps model! I love the insane technical details on these models, and I’ve really enjoyed painting the abundance of clips and plugs and screens on the Enginseer, so I’m expecting to enjoy him as well!

It’s my plan to get 500 points of AdMech painted up soon, so that I can start to play games with them. I don’t have an Imperium army that I can play with, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they work. Once I’ve got those 500 points finished, I can keep painting and adding to the collection, but at least it will be an army that is seeing some action, at last!

Skitarii list 500 points

My thought process here is to keep adding units that interest me, or that I feel that I need, once I’ve been able to try the army out and see what it’s all about. I’m guessing that heavier artillery will be a requirement, and I’ve already started to put some paint on the first Dunecrawler twelve months ago,Ā so hopefully that will be making an appearance before too long!

On the subject of painting models, I’ve also been fidding with some Necromunda miniatures, the Delaque gangers that I’d built back in December. I want to get into this game so badly, but finding people to play with has been proving a bit more difficult than I’d thought – hopefully soon, though, I’ll be able to get either the Delaque or Van Saar models to the table and try it out! I just hope I actually enjoy it!

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I’ve also been reading Warhammer 40k novels quite voraciously, as I try to work my way through quite the backlog that I have! The Space Marines Legends series was a short-lived set of hardbacks that focused on a single Space Marine hero from one of the popular first-founding chapters. I’d read the first book in the series, Cassius, back in 2017, and was quite impressed overall. Lemartes takes us to the Blood Angels, and discusses the cursed sons of Sanguinius with the dual flaws of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage. We follow a Chaos incursion on the planet Phlegethon, which the Blood Angels are sent to put down. The Death Company are unleashed on the cultists, along with those brothers from the Fourth Company who are particularly susceptible to the Red Thirst. When the cultists bring down the wrath of Khorne on the planet, these brothers almost lose themselves, but fortunately the unbridled fury of the Death Company is able to bring down the greater daemon Skarbrand.

It’s an enjoyable enough novel, though it felt a little bit like a non-event in the grand scheme of things. I also read Azrael recently, by the king of the Dark Angels, Gav Thorpe, but I was particularly unimpressed with this one. It just felt interminable, and the plot was particularly uninspiring overall. Also dealing with a Chaos uprising, and showing Azrael’s ascent to Supreme Grand Master of the Chapter, I was hoping we’d get to see a lot more of the inner circle, but instead it all just fell a bit too flat for me. Ah well!

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A bit more recently, we have Cadia Stands, which is something of a tie-in to the Gathering Storm series that brought 7th Edition to a close. The novel deals with, well, the Fall of Cadia, as the forces of Chaos emerge from the Eye of Terror for Abaddon’s Thirteenth Black Crusade. Yes, he’s had a Thirteenth Black Crusade before, but this is a different Thirteenth Black Crusade. I really found myself enjoying this book, as we followed groups of Cadians around the planet. I thought it was really quite interesting to see how the soldiers reacted to the increasingly Chaotic events on-world, as some struggled to evacuate from the warzone.

The book has been followed up by Cadian Honour, which seems to follow up on one of the soldiers featured in Cadia Stands, Minka Lesk. I’m not normally one for Cadian stories, as I’m not a fan of the army in-game, but I enjoyed this one enough that I’m thinking I’ll probably give it a try soon!

Arkham Horror LCG

From 40k to Lovecraft, and it’s been quite an adventure this afternoon, as I’ve finally started playing the Dunwich Legacy!

I’ve been playing this game for what feels like a long time now, but have never made it past the Core Set. Back last October, I finished the core set campaign, Night of the Zealot, and so built up some decks with the new cards and thought about starting up the Dunwich Legacy, but other things seemed to get in the way. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally made it to Dunwich!

I’ve played the first scenario, Extracurricular Activity, using my Jenny Barnes and Ursula Marsh decks. I know Ursula is a more recent investigator, but the deck was built, so there we are! I really enjoyed it, seeing how the game has evolved from the core set already was quite interesting. There is a strong discard theme in the first scenario, at least, which I wasn’t expecting – I didn’t quite see my decks completely discarded, but even so, it was something I wasn’t really prepared for, and the hate leveled at investigators by the Agenda for having a large discard pile was really something!

Arkham Horror LCG Dunwich Legacy

Overall, I’m really enjoying this game. I’ve been buying everything for it as it has been coming out up until the current cycle which, due to real life intrusions, I hadn’t been aware had been released! When I popped by the games shop recently, it turns out pretty much the entire cycle has been released now, though I’m fairly sure I’ve only picked up the deluxe cycle.

FFG have recently announced a fifth deluxe expansion, The Dream-Eaters, which has also taken me unawares! The way the campaign works for this expansion is quite unique, as it features scenarios set in the real world and in the Dreamlands, and you choose one of the two for your investigators to follow. There is still talk of a cohesive eight-part campaign, though, so it sounds as though it will still be a traditional cycle. I may even have caught up with it all by then, and be able to play this one as it happens!

While I am loving this return to the Arkham Horror LCG, and finally getting round to seeing what I’ve been missing all this time, I’m also excitedly awaiting A Shadow in the East, the next deluxe expansion for Lord of the Rings. I haven’t played that game for a long time now, I know, but it is still up there for me, and I look forward to getting my grubby little hands on it!

Getting Back into Magic!

Hey everybody!
So it’s been a while, but I’ve started to get myself back into Magic the Gathering, having been thinking a lot about what I’ve been missing since I was last looking at it back when Guilds of Ravnica came out last year.

To begin with, it seems like there’s been a lot happening! War of the Spark is out, and all hell seems to have broken loose on Ravnica, as the Planeswalkers of the Gatewatch face off against Nicol Bolas. I think I need to really get to grips with what on earth has been going on overall, though there is that novel coming out that, I presume, will deal with all of that! In the meantime, though, I’ve been taking a look through a lot of my collection, adding a few bits here and there, and have already been building up a couple of decks – one of which, I’m sharing with you all here today!

Jund

Jund is one of the five Shards of Alara, primarily aligned with Red mana, spilling over into both Black and Green. The Shards were introduced in Shards of Alara, unsurprisingly, and gave names to the allied three-colour groupings. The flavour of the Shard is very much something I like, using the vibrancy of Red as a base to build upon. I’m not hugely into Green, but I do enjoy the pair of Red and Green, so that’s all fine.

There is a strong theme of wildness and passion that comes out from looking at the actual Jund-themed cards from Shards of Alara block, where the theme of predator/prey comes out through the Devour mechanic:

Devour N (As this enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice any number of creatures. This creature enters the battlefield with N +1/+1 counters on it.)

Jund Savage Lands

For my deck, I’ve got quite a few things going on, which should hopefully make it interesting to play. There is a theme of Enchantments matter, spells matter, and a counters sub-theme, along with more of a meta-theme of shamans playing about with magic. This latter might take some explaining, so bear with me!

Creatures (14):
Radha, Heir to Keld
Deeproot Chamption
Dragonmaster Outcast
Blightcaster
Savage Ventmaw
Boltwing Marauder
Hellkite Hatchling
Paragon of Eternal Wilds
Poison-Tip Archer
Guttersnipe (2)
Kiln Fiend (2)
Winding Constrictor

Instants & Sorceries (9):
Blood Divination
Doublecast
Grim Affliction (2)
Virulent Swipe
Firebolt
Ground Assault
Enter the Unknown
Death Frenzy

Enchantments (8):
Sight of the Scalelords
See Red
Gruul War Chant
Untamed Hunger
Pyromancer’s Assault
Retreat to Valakut
Bonds of Mortality
Infernal Scarring

Artifacts (4):
Primal Amulet
Thunderstaff
Worn Powerstone
Dowsing Dagger

Land (25):
Mountain (4)
Swamp (4)
Forest (2)
Bloodfell Caves
Jungle Hollow
Rugged Highlands
Timber Gorge
Hissing Quagmire
Cinder Barrens
Rootbound Crag
Cinder Glade
Savage Lands (2)
Akoum RefugeĀ 
Molten Slagheap
Kazandu Refuge
Dragonskull Summit
Evolving Wilds

So we’ve got a lot going on, but the thought process here is stuff like the Blightcaster killing creatures whenever Enchantments enter the battlefield; the Primal Amulet, Deeproot Champion, Guttersnipe and Kiln Fiend doing things whenever instant and sorcery cards are cast; and the Winding Constrictor increasing the number of counters that get put on cards through effects like the Deeproot Champion and Enter the Unknown. Hellkite Hatchling is the only card with Jund’s Devour mechanic, which is nice to have for flavour purposes, and will also benefit from the Winding Constrictor.

The land base is a little bit janky, I’m currently thinking about swapping out a few things, and can’t decide if I want to get rid of the manland or the storage land. It’s always a question of cost as far as lands are concerned though!

I mentioned earlier the theme of shamans going crazy casting spells. I want the deck to have a fairly strong theme of magic coming through in the artwork, with spells that have a strong feeling of casting (Blood Divination, Doublecast, Firebolt), artifacts of power (Worn Powerstone), and even powerful spellcasters themselves (Blightcaster, Dragonmaster Outcast).

Artwork on cards is something that I’m often very sensitive to, wanting a deck to feel like it’s coherent as well as looking it. Another theme I wanted here was for the cards to all share the post-M15 border, and for any colourless mana symbols to have the “diamond” symbol, and not just a number in a grey circle. All very unimportant to most players, I know, but it’s something that I’m becoming increasingly concerned with.

As a side note, Firebolt’s appearance in the upcoming Modern Horizons means that it’s only Worn Powerstone that is keeping this deck Modern-legal. Ah well!

This deck should be interesting enough to play, in theory, so I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future, along with some of the others that I’ve been putting together!

GW at the UK Games Expo 2019

Hey everybody!
There were a slew of previews coming from GW yesterday, as they showed off more stuff for upcoming games at the UK Games Expo. In a way, I was more excited for this one than the previews we got last year, though I suppose we were in the middle of getting the 40k codexes we wanted, and the new edition of Age of Sigmar was underway, so it was certainly a different time, with different priorities. This year, we’re definitely in more of a boxed-game mood, with all of the previews for the specialist games, rather than anything specifically for 40k or AoS (though, of course, the use of these models in the big games is not exactly impossible…)

I want to start with the Palanite Enforcers for Necromunda, as these are models that I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a long time now.

So they don’t have the classic Arbites look that I had been hoping for, but I guess Necromunda Enforcers were never true Judge Dredd-style Arbites, so it’s difficult to argue that point. We basically have ten chaps in carapace armour, who would look fantastic as Guardsmen allies for a Primaris Marines force because their helmets are so damn similar! I feel like that is something of a let-down, though it’s something I’m sure I could get used to. A lot has also been made already of the fact that the shoulder armour actually seems to be restrictive of movement, but hopefully they can be posed without that being too obvious – the two “gangers” who have that look may just need to wait for the Forge World additional weapons options, to see if there’s some way I can use the bodies with different arms and avoid the narrow, squat-y look. Hopefully.

However, on the whole they do look pretty good, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I could potentially do with them, given a different paint job (I’m thinking of a deeper navy, and then red for the yellow…) Shame about the lack of cyber-mastiff, though!

Whether Adeptus Arbites will ever make an appearance for, well, anything, will remain to be seen, then. I do entertain some hopes that we’ll get actual Arbites if they ever decide to do something properly in plastic for the Inquisition, so that we could use them in a retinue or something. I know that they’re the police, so can’t really be expected to act within the context of the tabletop game, but even so, stranger things have happened!

Up next, we’ve got the fourth new warband for the upcoming Warcry, the Corvus Cabal, a bunch of bird-worshipping cultists who wouldn’t be out of place in a Tzeentch-themed army!

This fourth warband is, admittedly, quite weird, although beautifully realised, so I can’t honestly complain much there. We’ve seen some really unique Chaos cults come out for this product line already, and it has been fascinating to see them take shape. With two further warbands due for reveal, I’m intrigued to see what else we could possibly be in store for here!

That said, I’m finding myself a little bit bored with Warcry now. We’ve been having previews like this for months, but we don’t know a great deal about what the game actually is. Back in February, when it was first announced at the LVO, it was described as a mix of Warhammer Underworlds and Kill Team, so everybody has been assuming that it is AoS Skirmish, re-imagined with bespoke Chaos warbands. At the Adepticon preview, GW confirmed that nine non-Chaos warbands would also be playable when the game launches, making this sound a lot like Kill Team, and I suppose that’s the analogy people have been using since. We also know it is coming with fancy new terrain, so the comparison is a good one, right?

Well, who knows. I don’t know what the game is going to look like yet, whether we’re getting a big, expensive core set with all the terrain and new warbands, or whether it’s going to be a whole product line similar to Adeptus Titanicus, with everything sold separately. Are all these new Chaos warbands going to be available in one big release, or are we seeing the next six months of releases with these previews, and the game will more likely remind us of Necromunda in that respect? I suppose at this point, I just want to know more details about how I need to plan my purchases, but all we’re getting is “hey, look at these new miniatures!” rather than anything more solid as regards what we can do with those miniatures. Time for details, GW, if you please!

In the interests of saving the best til last, we’ve got another expansion for Blackstone Fortress, this time something more along the lines of what I would have been expecting for this game all along: Escalation. I say that, because I’ve been expecting GW to put out this sort of hero-and-enemy pack as the first expansion, rather than the third. Getting the Ambull was nice, although a little unexpected, and the Traitor Command stuff should be another interesting addition, though both of those are more akin to the sort of thing I would have thought we’d have seen much further down the line. I’m not really explaining this well at all, but never mind!

We’re getting four new explorers, the characters from the Combat Arena game that was first previewed a whiles back, with the suggestion here that the Servitor is somehow either not a playable character, or else is linked with (presumably) the Tech Priest in-game. I thought it was interesting to learn that Combat Arena isn’t going to be available outside of the US and Germany – something they’ve kept to themselves up to this point. I do find it a bit disappointing that GW have these country-exclusive games, as with Labyrinth of the Necrons last year. It just boggles my mind that they’d go to the trouble of creating a game just for release in one country – why not get as much money as you can off the back of it, and release it worldwide? Bah! Anyway. We’re also getting enemy miniatures, to change up the battlefield from the original game:

These models do look quite beautiful. Six cultists, plus two villain-style minis, with a rag-tag feel that does seem to complement the heroes from this set quite nicely. There’s a parallel between the Rogue Trader and the pirate-queen-style cultist, to my eyes.

There is almost something AoS-y about these new Cultist models, as well, maybe it’s the tusks on flame-pole guy there, or the Daughters of Khaine-style face mask on the other one. It’s always really good to get new Chaos implementations like this, for sure, and I think it’s a good sign for things to come if we’re seeing updates for the Cultists as well (though, a cultist with a grenade launcher? Interesting…)

Blackstone Fortress has definitely been kind to Chaos!

I’m going to assume this will be the big box expansion that we can expect to get around about the 1 year anniversary date, so in the shops in time for Christmas. Hopefully Traitor Command will come out sometime between now and then, to keep us going with more content, and then I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if next year brings us plastic flayed ones, or plastic mandrakes, or some other weird and wonderful corner of the 40k universe! Certainly, I think GW will be using this game to put out miniatures that capitalize on the fact there is a lot of weird out there!