And now, Wood Elves!

Hey everybody!
In a move that will no doubt shock nobody at this point, I’ve found myself thinking about painting something completely different to what I’m used to, and feeling the need for – not a new challenge, as such, but just feeling like I want to try painting something different… and so I’ve been thinking about new armies, and looking at different stuff online, and have returned to an idea from a few years back now: the Wood Elves!

Wood Elves don’t really exist in Age of Sigmar. They were a faction from the Old World that encompassed the new Sylvaneth alongside their elven counterparts. I think this is the aspect of Wood Elves that appeals to me the most; the image in my mind of some tree-spirit creatures like the Treelord and Dryads, alongside their “mortal” followers, the Eternal Guard and so on.

I don’t honestly know enough about the elves (or aelves, as they are these days) to know if they’re worthwhile in an Age of Sigmar army. I still think I’d like to try and put together a small number of miniatures though, simply because I love the appeal of walking trees alongside elf hunters!

There seems to be an interesting mix of units available to the Wood Elves, which is another appealing factor. Of course, I’ve not looking into it in any great deal, so I suppose this could be equally true of any other faction, but I do like the fact that there are a lot of utility units, and nothing really seems to be too wasted. Of course, there are a lot of units that do their own thing, but then it isn’t simply reliant on heroes to then buff those units.

One of the units that first drew me to the army was the Wildwood Rangers, hooded and masked warriors wielding these massive two-handed draichs. I have previously picked up a box of these gents, in an effort to kit-bash them into plastic Incubi for my Dark Eldar army. Unsurprisingly, that was a project that ended in obscurity (well, ebay).

Of course, there have been so many new model releases that are just awesome for the Sylvaneth side of things since Age of Sigmar first launched, I think anybody would be hard-pressed not to want to include these in any such army! The exciting thing now, of course, is that we’ll hopefully be able to do exactly this, with the upcoming Cities of Sigmar battletome that was previewed at the weekend!

Back in the day, I was leaning heavily into Sylvaneth after I’d grown tired of painting Stormcast Eternals in the gold-and-purple scheme I’d been using, and had picked up several kits in an effort to build up a second force. The Tree-Revenants I later decided would be used as Mandrakes for my Dark Eldar, and I painted them up to match the main force:

I had also been painting Dryads, the first unit that I was building up for my Sylvaneth army, using the winter colour scheme from back in the day:

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth Dryads

I also had the big daddy himself, the Treelord that would form the centrepiece of this collection of living trees:

I really like the Sylvaneth. I suppose part of it is because it takes me back to my early days in the hobby, where I would buy all kinds of random stuff and build and paint while the youtubes was on in the background. Back then, I used to listen to Joey Berry a lot, whose videos would chronicle her own beginning journey in the hobby and served as a nice sort of mirror. Given that Joey was a Wood Elves player, a lot of that has stuck with me down the years, and it’s a nice way to look back on my hobby “journey” (if that doesn’t sound too corny) and reminisce!

It was a wrench when I eventually sold all of this off a couple of years ago, thinking I would concentrate solely on 40k, only to then fall right back into it when Soul Wars came out and I found myself picking up more and more fantasy stuff once more as 2018 rolled to a close. I suppose thinking I would just stick to 40k was a bit disingenuous, as it was fantasy that got me into this wonderful game, and back in the day, I was actually really into Age of Sigmar and all the rest of it.

I’m probably not going to go wild with this project. I’ve definitely been thinking a lot about that Treelord miniature, and wanting to get one so that I can paint it up and enjoy it. Having a small band of miniatures adjacent to that would be just lovely, I’m sure, and making them a nice mix of tree-folk and elves is the dream.

I’m probably still going to stick to my plans for the Nighthaunt and Legions of Nagash being my main AoS focus, with Chaos being a close second. Sylvaneth have some beautiful models though – there is just something really pleasing to me about painting fantasy miniatures. It was the same when I was painting up the Nighthaunt, something that just strikes a chord with me, and takes me back to my early days in the hobby. I think this could be a really fun side project though, so stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting updates to see where I go with this for the rest of the year!

Age of Sigmar Open Day!

Yesterday was the Age of Sigmar Open Day over at Warhammer World, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the main focus was on Warcry, which is due out in a scant fortnight.

There were demo games, the beautiful models were on display, and folks were getting to paint up Iron Golems left and right.

I wasn’t jealous at all…

At any rate, Warcry wasn’t the only thing going on over in Nottingham…

The next two Battletomes were announced, one of which I really didn’t think we’d ever see! The Orc factions getting amalgamated into their own book was a nice touch for sure, as it’s good to see the formerly-splintered armies finally coming back together in a sensible and cohesive way. This is especially true of the old Empire faction, which was hacked apart, much like the old elves, into several tiny factions which, overall, it seems was done simply to then eliminate portions from stock. Cities of Sigmar is promised as more than just the Empire re-imagined, however, as it instead re-forges the Empire, the Elves and the Dwarves into a single book!

Cries of “Soup!” might well be warranted, but I’m hoping there will be solid plans in place to allow for an intelligent combination of these forces into a single cohesive army.

each City of Sigmar can enlist units from Battletome: Stormcast Eternals into their main force, while Tempest’s Eye and The Living City can draw on aid from the Kharadron Overlords and Sylvaneth, respectively, as full members of your army that share your allegiance abilities.

This has gotten me really quite excited, as I’ve been thinking for some time about trying to combine some of the old Warhammer Fantasy units with some of the new Age of Sigmar kits. Come back tomorrow for some of my thoughts on this!

Legendary Slayer Gotrik Gurnnisson is finally getting the model that he deserves, standing atop a pile of dead Skaven. Nice.

Speaking of new models…

I did not expect this to ever happen! A plastic Ogre Tyrant kit?! He looks wonderfully menacing, as well, which is really good. Alas, I’ve cleared out all of my Ogres, so don’t have any need to buy this one, but if I were still collecting the fat dudes, I’d definitely be picking this chap up!

Exactly how he’s going to be packaged, though – I’m guessing it’s going to be something along the lines of Looncurse and Carrion Empire from a couple of months ago. Bring out a new Leader for a faction, bundle it up with a bunch of older kits, and watch the money come rolling in!

Feast of Bones – the new battle box coming for Age of Sigmar! Maybe…

Meanwhile, Warhammer Underworlds is gearing up for season three, and I still haven’t played a single game! I’ve got stuff all over the place for this (I blame moving house, but still) so I think it really is time I tried the game out sometime soon. It seems to have a good following at my local store, at least, so that’s a good start!

Centaurs? Could we be seeing entirely new factions for Age of Sigmar here, or simply new models for existing factions? Who the hell knows!

It’s definitely time that I got my act together and tried this game out…

Finally – just what the hell is this all about? The Tithe of Bones? I’ve seen some speculation out there that the Tomb Kings will be coming back as a re-imagined AoS-style army, which would be incredible! Others think it could be Vlad coming back, or Krell. I’m not so sure, as I don’t think GW will be bringing back named characters anytime soon like this. So far, at least, it seems to have been mostly about creating new characters where possible, and the only named folks we’re seeing are the major players who came across at the very beginning anyway.

Re-imagined Tomb Kings would be so awesome. Death has got ghosts and it’s got zombies, and then there are the other bits within Legions of Nagash; it’d be really nice, in my mind, to have a faction of skeletons that forms a proper skeleton horde. Of course, TKs weren’t all about the skeletons and nothing but – rather, there were all of those constructs like the Necrosphynx and Ushabti. A skeleton army that features golem-like creatures could be really cool, and would allow for stuff like the Morghasts and Mortarchs to slot into the force quite easily.

Would it be too much to ask for a proper Deathrattle / Skeleton Horde? Possibly. I suppose only time will tell!


So there we go! I suppose for me, filtering out the Warcry stuff that was clearly the main focus of this event, the most exciting thing is this Tithe of Bones. I hope it’s basically a new faction release, and not the other half of that Ogres boxset that people have been speculating about!

Warcry up for pre-order

Hey everybody
It’s finally time for Warcry to emerge from the haze of the fairly bland internet previews and come up for pre-order! I thought this day would never come – I’d actually been growing a little bored waiting for the announcement, and had begun to lose faith it would be of any interest, given the complete lack of anything beyond previews of the models themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, those previews were showing off some pretty spectacular models, I just wanted to know more about what the hell the game is, and so it was with no small measure of joy that I discovered the “how to play” video finally uploaded yesterday:

Visual Appeal
The game looks amazing. I mean, I’m really blown away by the aesthetic that GW have captured here. The warbands included in the starter set have a totally unique look to them, and while there is definitely something to be said for the classic Slaves to Darkness look of the old Warriors of Chaos, these new models really capture the look of the classic Warhammer berzerkers of old. While it is of course set firmly within the Age of Sigmar universe, taking place at the Eight Points (more in a bit), there is still something very Old World about some of these minis. I think the Untamed Beasts warband in particular give off that Conan vibe that was almost the hallmark of old GW, pulling together and synthesizing so many disparate elements from classic fantasy into their own setting.

The terrain is just mind-blowing, though. I mean, sure, we’ve had ruins and archways like this before, most recently with the Azyrite Ruins set, these things are just phenomenal. I think the most impressive aspect we have here is that the terrain is designed to be multi-level, so we have all of these walkways, bridges and ladders that bring up the idea of Mordheim from all those years ago. Is Warcry meant to be Mordheim for the modern era? I have no idea, having never played the older game. But it has the feel of a classic in the making, with some fairly straightforward rules that should get you up and playing very quickly.

The Rules
Warcry uses a fairly straightforward system of rules, with some flavour from the current 40k set in terms of the strength vs toughness mechanic. The initiative is a very interesting idea, where you both want the duplicate rolls so as to employ powerful abilities within the game, but you also want to roll singles so as to give you a higher chance of going first. The additional die you get to add to your pool will lead to some pretty difficult tactical decisions, I’m sure!

The actual rules seem to be quite straightforward, and predominantly close-quarters focused. While there does appear to be some ranged combat possible, from what I’ve seen so far it does seem to be around the 3″ max range. Which is in fitting with the sort of skirmish game that a board densely packed with scenery like this would suggest…

All of the glyphs and runes that appear across the fighter cards really add something to the feel of the game, being as it is set in the realms of roving Chaos bands. It was a really nice idea to provide that additional feel to the game, I think.

First thoughts
There is a definite boardgame feel to this one, I think. People have been calling it Kill Team for AoS, including the designers, and I can sort of see that, but it also feels like much more its own thing. There are elements of Kill Team, though it feels a lot more like Necromunda to me – instead of gangs, we have warbands, but these are models that are specifically created for this game. I’ve heard somewhere on the e-grapevine that there will be rules for these warbands to be used as Slaves to Darkness stand-ins in regular Age of Sigmar games, which is cool and all, but I do like the idea that we have a distinct and separate game that is its own thing.

At first, I was one of those people a bit surprised that this was solely a Chaos vs Chaos game, and while there are rules to include other factions such as Stormcast Eternals, Idoneth Deepkin and Nighthaunt in the game, I get the impression that the design is really focused on these individual Chaos bands, with the six we’ve already had previewed as well as two additional bands that we have yet to see any models for.

Even the new scenery feels like it is intended purely for these Chaos warbands to fight over. The game is set in the Eight Points, what was once the Allpoints, the mystical crossing-point between all of the Mortal Realms, but that has since been captured by Archaon and fallen into Chaos and ruin. Warring factions now compete for the favour of the Everchosen, and that’s really what the game is all about. It feels almost weird to be bringing in Daughters of Khaine into this, though I must admit that the idea did cross my mind to pick up some models…!

The Future
I had kinda forgotten about this game. I’d certainly lost some interest in it, after waiting for months since the initial announcement with no news on what it was, beyond the fact it features Chaos on Chaos violence and had some very attractive miniatures. With the ability to add in regular AoS miniatures, the game will have a lot of traction, I’d guess, and while there does seem to be some mixed reactions overall, I think the general impression is a favourable one of the new miniatures.

With the two additional warbands – Spire Tyrants and Scions of the Flame – as well as the promise of further warbands for the game coming, I’d guess there will be a decent amount of life in this one. Kill Team has the benefit of having a wealth of miniatures to choose from across the entire 40k range, and so far GW have only seen fit to create two brand new teams for that game. As such, it has really taken off and flown with the number of expansions available for it already.

I get the impression the opposite may well be in store for us here. We’ve seen six warbands, making me think those miniatures are ready to go now, and it won’t be too long before all six of them are out in the wild (three of them are available for pre-order this weekend, even if the Wild Beasts and Iron Golems are stuck within the core box). A Kill Team-like approach has been taken with repackaging older terrain sets for this game, with the second such pack announced at today’s AoS Open Day, but I could totally see something like the Rogue Trader box coming out later in the year with those final two bands, side by side with some more terrain to supplement that from the core box, as well as maybe some rules tweaks or something.

Of course, there is always the possibility that we’ll see some rules, further down the line, that bring some of the Shadespire warbands into the mix. I’m not overly familiar with that game, though have been enjoying painting up a couple of those warbands, but from what I’ve heard, there is a similar feel to both – even down to the glyphs to denote the mechanics of the game. Shadespire / Nightvault (and the upcoming Beastgrave also announced at the Open Day) is also organised into these small-scale warbands, of course, and while some of them are perhaps on the smaller side (such as the Stormcast), bands like the Godsworn Hunt or the Sepulchral Guard have a similar feel as regards the model count, and the Darkoath models perfectly fit with the aesthetic of warring Chaos tribes.

Of course, if we do end up seeing a similar situation to that of Kill Team last year, we’ll be seeing all of that sweet new scenery, repackaged and expanded upon – that has got to be reason enough to want this to be the AoS version of Kill Team, right?! The terrain is already fantastic; I can only begin to wonder at how it could be expanded upon!!

At any rate, I’m really happy to announce that I think Warcry could well be the next big thing for me, and I’m really keen to get my hands on all of that plastic to get building, painting and playing!

Getting somewhere with Genestealer Cults

Hey everybody!
So the Codex has been out for a couple of months now, and I’ve been finding it a bit difficult to work out just how I want to build my Genestealer Cults army. I mean, there’s a lot going on here, with it being a new army with a whole slew of new models to try and get my head around and see how they work with the units that I was somewhat familiar with from leafing through the Index and stuff.

While I’ve been leafing through other codices, it’s usually my game-plan to start with a single model, or a single idea that requires a couple of models, and build out from there. With the Cult, however, I’m still at something of a loss! I think the first problem I encounter is always wanting to include the Broodcoven in my list, simply because of the coolness factor. The three HQ choices of Patriarch, Primus and Magus are something of a holy trinity, though, and I do feel like they should be at the forefront of my list. With that in mind, then, I suppose it’s time to try and build a Cult!

The Patriarch is a melee monster with some real psychic punch, as well. The Psychic Phase is not my natural home – I’m a Necrons & Dark Eldar player, after all! – and I think this could also be part of my downfall with these guys. Knowing when and how to use the best of the Broodmind Discipline is going to be a steep learning curve for me, I feel. The Patriarch knows two psychic powers and can attempt to manifest one per turn, though any familiars he has with him can lend him the power to try for a second. That could be very useful, I feel. He’s also something of a commander for both the Cult at large (allowing friendly models to auto-pass Morale if they’re within 6″) as well as adding one to the hit rolls for friendly Genestealer models within 6″. With 6 attacks of his own, he’s going to be up close and personal with the Genestealers, rather than hanging back with a screen of chaff to protect him (though that chaff will be useful, regardless!)

The Magus has a new model, I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of that by now, but I still love the classic model that came out with the first batch of miniatures for the army. The Magus is actually quite underwhelming as an HQ choice, I feel – he can allow units within 6″ to deny psychic powers as if they were themselves psykers, but if you’re not playing a psychic-heavy enemy, this ability is fairly redundant. He does know two psychic powers however, and can also benefit from familiars allowing him to attempt another one per Psychic Phase, which is quite nice. I’m guessing that’s where his main focus will be, either through buffing friendly units or else denying Overwatch with Mass Hypnosis. There are some more offensive Psychic powers in the Broodmind Discipline, but I think I prefer to keep my Magus further back than they perhaps require him to be…

A lot of Genestealer Cult players have been a bit miffed – and rightly so – that Purestrain Genestealers do not gain a Cult Creed. Indeed, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that the Cult version of Genestealers are strictly worse than their Tyranid counterparts, though I don’t know a great deal about such things. At any rate, I feel like I can’t have a Genestealer Cults army without at least one squad of these little critters, and they do have the unique Stratagem that gives them a random buff that feels like it may go some way to compensating for the lack of a Cult Creed.

Speaking of which, I think I should probably talk about that for a moment, as well. All of my Genestealer Cults units painted so far have been in the colour scheme of The Bladed Cog, which gives an improved invuln save, and negates the penalty for Infantry units moving and firing heavy weapons. Which is alright, but given my thoughts of going heavily into melee, I’m wondering if The Pauper Princes might not be a better choice, giving re-rolls to hit rolls for melee weapons on the charge. For now, I think I’m going to stick with my original plan, because so often with chapter tactics-type rules, I feel that you really need to play them to get a feel for how good they actually are.

I definitely want to include some Aberrants in the list. I’d been keeping away from these models for some reason – I think I had in my mind the idea of a relentless wave of cultists, much like my plans for Chaos. With 2 attacks each, hitting on 3s and the potential to be dishing out some serious damage, they look like a melee powerhouse. Their Bestial Vigour ability allows them to reduce the damage they receive, and also gives them a decent enough chance to shrug off wounds anyway.

It also gives me the reason I needed to buy the Biophagus, which is such a great looking model, but had firmly dropped off my radar because of the fact his only special ability is really to buff the unit.

The Primus is another useful HQ that will give +1 to hit in the Fight phase for units within 6″, as well as providing a useful buff for nearby units when they target a unit he has designated as the quarry. Very thematic, I like it!

When thinking about what to bring as a bodyguard for the Primus, I hear a lot of chatter about people using Acolyte Hybrids for their versatility. I’m not about to get all power-gamer and equip the whole squad with heavy rock cutters, or whatever the current meta has decided is the best weapon of the moment. Indeed, I’ve got a lot of Acolyte Hybrids from Deathwatch: Overkill that are bare-bones with autopistol and cult knife, and as a cheap troops choice, they’re pretty great for that!

Of course, a lot of Cult units are very squishy, with most of the hybrid Infantry being T3. This is perhaps where the mechanised portion of the list will come into play. I’ve had a Goliath Truck half-painted up for years, but I really want to add the Rockgrinder to the list, for that insane drilldozer blade! There are now some fairly good options for the Cult to get around the board, with the new bikes and the Ridgerunner. I’m thinking a lot of these things can be used to soak up Overwatch fire, which is always something of a concern for me with units like this. I do love the idea of mass-infantry, don’t get me wrong, and the thought of unstoppable waves of cultists just coming and coming at the enemy does have some appeal (I feel like I have enough miniatures that I could fairly well-replicate that idea, too!) but there are practical considerations to bear in mind!

Finally, I love the hilarity of the Tectonic Fragdrill, and would love to include it in the list. At 75 points, it should be able to find a home, and if for no other reason than it looks fantastic, I think I do need one in my life. As the centrepiece for the army, it really does look the part:

So I think I’ve been wittering on long enough now – I suppose I should actually share the list ideas that I’ve come up with!

This is something of an evolution of one of many, many attempts to make a Genestealer Cults list that I have been through so far this year! At 1500 points, I didn’t have the room for a Fragdrill, instead opting to go for more customisation on the Neophytes and take a second squad of Atalan Jackals to provide me with an Outrider detachment. While I do have four detachments in this list, I think I’m really only allowed to have three, and so there will be a number of things shifted into the main Battalion detachment, with then the Vanguard and Outrider providing the additional benefits.

While I was particularly excited about pretty much everything prior to the release, I actually ended up with just two of the new character models and a box of Atalan Jackals. These bikers really impressed me with how they can be customised, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to include them in the army from the off. Well, that soon went by the wayside! I’ve grown to love their dirt-bike aesthetic, and I think they’ll be really useful for harassing the enemy with their 14″ movement, as well as potentially tanking Overwatch as mentioned above.

It might just be me, but there’s almost a Wild West vibe that comes off these guys, as well. The name, plus the quadbike Wolfquad they use, as well as the tomahawk-wielding guy in the image above… it puts me in mind of prospectors out in the deserts, which I suppose is what the intention is – the Codex talks of these bikers using the cover of searching out new seams of ore in order to further the infestation of the Cult.

All gaming considerations aside, I think I am really in love with the Genestealer Cults as a faction, for the simple reason of their flavour being some of the strongest we’ve yet seen for any army in 40k. The idea of a band of everyday chumps forming a revolution against the Empire is terrific, and when paired with the idea of the Genestealer Cults preparing the way for the Tyranid invasion, I think it really leads to some of the best storytelling in the game. The new Elites choices that we’ve seen, from the vox-hacking Clamavus to the tactician Nexos, bring to life some of these fantastic elements from the army and it’s in-universe methods. All of the new models fit in seamlessly with the already-established mining aesthetic from the first releases back in the day, giving us one of the best, most fully-fleshed-out forces in the game right now.

I can’t wait to get started painting more of these guys!!

Playing Magic: The Orzhov Syndicate

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these “playing Magic” blogs, but in light of the fact that I’ve started to collect some cards again, and seeing as how we’ve just experienced another return to the plane of Ravnica, I thought it’s about time I wrote up a blog showcasing the Orzhov deck that I’ve been talking about in a number of my previous blogs! So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Orzhov Syndicate

The Orzhov Syndicate is a bit like the idea of a corrupt Church organisation, not all that far removed from real life, where the leaders are more businessmen than clerics, and who have a very temporal power through their control of all manner of deals. Indeed, one of the Guild-specific land cards in the original Ravnica block is Orzhova, the Church of Deals. There is a strong theme whereby even in death, a person’s debt is rarely paid, and so the Guild features a lot of ghosts and shades, with a few keywords that have come in over the years that play on that idea.

The original keyword mechanic for the Orzhov Syndicate was Haunt. Widely considered to be a terrible mechanic (head designer Mark Rosewater himself considers it “a mistake”), a card with Haunt will be exiled rather than placed in the graveyard, “haunting” another permanent on the battlefield. When the card it is haunting is itself then put into the graveyard, that action will trigger the Haunt effect of the original card, basically getting a second use out of it before both die.

During Return to Ravnica block, Orzhov had the mechanic Extort, which allows you to pay an additional white or black mana whenever you cast a spell, whereupon each opponent loses 1 life and you gain life equal to the total lost. Commonly referred to as “drain and gain”, it’s a great way to ensure cards have impact for you the whole game, and it’s the mechanic around which I’ve built my deck that I’ll talk about shortly!

During the latest Guilds of Ravnica block, the new Orzhov mechanic is Afterlife X, which creates X 1/1 Spirit creature tokens when the card with Afterlife X dies. I suppose you can think of this as a cleaner Haunt, or at least, a cleaner implementation of the idea of Haunt! It’s also extremely on-point for the idea of never quite paying off your debts to the Syndicate!

Unlike my Dimir deck, my Orzhov deck is all about the Guild, and goes heavily into the theme of Orzhov, using cards only from Ravnica and Return to Ravnica blocks.

Orzhov Syndicate

I’ll be the first to admit, this deck can be clunky as hell. Because of the fact that I’ve got the self-imposed limit of only including Guild-specific cards in the deck, it’s really difficult to reliably make the deck win. I’ve also included some cards in there for the sheer theme alone, and ordinarily wouldn’t consider using if I were trying to make the deck more playable. But it’s a lot of fun to build decks that are dripping with theme like this, so there is definitely that in its favour!

Creatures (25):
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Kingpin’s Pet
Treasury Thrull
Syndic of Tithes
Syndicate Enforcer
Souls of the Faultless
Maze Sentinel
Basilica Guards
Sin Collector
High Priest of Penance (2)
Tithe Drinker (2)
Orzhov Guildmage
Vizkopa Confessor
Thrull Parasite (2)
Crypt Ghast
Pontiff of Blight
Vizkopa Guildmage
Dutiful Thrull (2)
Basilica Screecher (2)

Instants & Sorceries (5):
Purge the Profane
Executioner’s Swing (2)
Obzedat’s Aid (2)

Artifacts (4):
Orzhov Signet
Orzhov Cluestone
Orzhov Keyrune (2)

Enchantments (4):
Gift of Orzhova (2)
Shadow Lance
Blind Obedience

Land (22):
Orzhov Guildgate (3)
Orzhov Basilica (3)
Orzhova, the Church of Deals
Plains (8)
Swamp (7)

Orzhov Syndicate

There are 15 instances of Extort as a keyword in the deck, though thanks to the Pontiff of Blight, every single spell being cast has the potential to gain Extort – and in case you were wondering, multiple instances of Extort on a card do indeed stack, so there is definitely the potential for some serious drain and gain shenanigans going on there!

Of course, Extort isn’t the only thing going on with the deck. There is a certain element of Control, thanks to stuff like Blind Obedience (a card I normally dislike playing due to the amount of hate it can attract) and the High Priest of Penance forcing some difficult choices to be made by any would-be attacker. The lifegain potential in the deck is high, due to the multiple instances of Lifelink outside of Extort, though one of the big areas this deck falls down is a failing to weaponize that. I’ve talked more in-depth on weaponizing lifegain in my Ayli Commander deck blog, though, and I think if I were to travel outside of the Ravnica block cards, it wouldn’t be too difficult to create a really punishing version of this deck.

Ultimately, this is meant to be just a fun deck that is really dripping with theme, and one that brings back fond memories for me when I was first getting into Magic the Gathering, watching Spellslingers and enjoying the interactions of the cards, as well as seeing just how much fun you can have playing this game!!

Games updates!

Hey everybody!
I may be in the middle of moving house, but I’m still trying to keep abreast of all the goings-on in the games world! There is, after all, quite a great deal happening in the world, and I feel like it’s a glorious time for us nerds as we move into the summer.

First up, I want to talk about Lord of the Rings, and the first pack preview for the upcoming Vengeance of Mordor cycle.

After your adventures in A Shadow in the East, Dorwinion seems to be bright and beautiful, free from the taint of evil that the mysterious cult had swept over the land. After a month of peaceful travel, your band of adventurers have made their way back to the capital city to enjoy one last night of the citizens’ hospitality before returning home. You are glad for the rest, but your thoughts cannot help but drift back to the horrors you witnessed in the shadow of Mordor, and wonder whether the evil has truly been rooted out. 

Your fears are confirmed when you awake in the middle of the night to the sounds of clashing steel and cries of fear pouring in from the streets. The enemy has gotten Inside the Walls. Thane Ulchor, a traitor to Dorwinion, has returned to the city with an army of Easterlings. His agents within the city slew the guards and opened the gate to let them in, and now the battle rages in the streets. It is up to you to defend the helpless citizens, support the city guard, and push back the invading forces before the city falls into the clutches of darkness.

I feel very much like this cycle is setting itself up a little like Against the Shadow, which was an urban cycle focused on Gondor, and began with a pack set in the city with the task of rooting out a traitor. While comparisons can be made with controlling locations and Assault on Osgiliath, I think this one could be quite interesting, with the locations you control having effects on them that remain in play even after the card has left play.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of this pack is the new Tom Bombadil ally card, which is shuffled into the encounter deck if you manage to play a copy of the Tom Bombadillo! card from your hand. It’s an interesting way to bring in an ally like this – previously, they’ve been included in the encounter deck as Objectives. It’s exciting to see that the game is still bringing us new ways to play, even this far in the game’s history.

I’ve not been playing Lord of the Rings nearly as much as I’d like to this year, though I have rediscovered my love for the adventure card game with Arkham Horror LCG, and recently picked up the Return to Night of the Zealot box from my local store. While I’ve finally made it to playing The Dunwich Legacy, I think it might be fun to give this one a try and see how much more difficult the additional cards make things!

I’m still not caught up with the current cycle, which I think has now seen the final pack released, but I am looking forward to the next box already, as it looks really interesting with its dual-planes of play. I’ve already talked about this in a previous blog, of course, but I really need to catch up with this game and put some time aside to really investigate what it has to offer. I mean, it’s really not that I dislike the game, it just doesn’t seem to have the table-time that I think it needs. Symptomatic of the times, of course, as I don’t seem to be playing anywhere near as much as I’d like. I guess I’m mainly painting miniatures these days, which brings me on to…

Warcry, the skirmish game set in the Mortal Realms, the game I’d nearly forgotten about with everything else going on, has had another warband revealed, and it is just weird!

The Unmade are just…well, weird! They look like some wonderful Drukhari experiment or something, and I can probably see myself getting hold of some of these models simply to paint, though I’m not sure if they’ve taken the spot of the Iron Golems as my favourite.

They look… I don’t know, almost too-40k. Especially that elongated champion-like figure. Very much John Blanche-esque, make no mistake!

They could also make some useful Cultists for 40k, thinking about it…

Model of the set is probably this chap with the chain, though. The models coming out of Nottingham these days are all pretty amazing, but the sense of movement in these warbands is just phenomenal, and I thought it just looks really, really cool!

Where the hell did this come from?! Talisman: Batman?! Not only a re-skin of the classic game, but a Super Villains edition, where you navigate the hallways of Arkham Asylum, evading Batman to free the inmates! Sounds hilarious, and it’s always interesting when you have the opportunity to play as the villains!

I’m actually trying to thin out the boardgames collection once more, as space is currently at a premium while we get settled in the new house and prepare for the arrival of the firstborn, but it is definitely very tempting, I have to say!!

Core Set 2020 is now out, with no real storyline as such (well, it’s a Core Set, so…) but focusing on the life of everybody’s favourite pyromancer, Chandra Nalaar. The set focuses on three-colour wedges, which I like because it’s the first time we’re seeing this since Tarkir block, the set that I really started playing in. I’ve not played in prerelease, of course, but I would like to get my hands on some of those cards for my decks!

There is always something quite nice about a new Magic set, and especially seeing a Core Set again. I’m really trying hard not to fall into the spiral of the cardboard crack, but Magic is probably the best one-on-one card game experience I can think of, so I think it will always be there in some form, and I enjoy collecting at least a few cards from each set and seeing what I can do with them!

Dark Imperium: Plague War

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It’s taken me almost a month to finish reading this book, but I feel like I need to point out that I haven’t been dragging my feet because the book is bad – far from it, it’s a really great 40k story in what I’m coming to think of as the “iconic” mode, as opposed to all of the throwaway stories that I’ve read in the past. But, as I’ve said already, I’ve been moving house, so time has been at a premium!

Plague War follows on from where Dark Imperium finished off, with the stage set for a Guilliman vs Mortarion showdown. In many ways, Plague War is a much better book, as it doesn’t really come with all of the baggage of the new edition that its predecessor had. Rather than reading the book to find out what would be in store for the new Primaris range, we can instead enjoy it on its own merits, and while I think I’ll most likely re-read them both when the inevitable third part comes along, I do think that the second act is definitely stronger.

The first couple of hundred pages feel like they are very deliberately setting the scene for the showdown on the planet Parmenio, presenting us with a number of small vignettes focused on several major characters to the story. We meet Frater Mathieu, who has settled much more into the role of Militant-Apostolic to Guilliman, and is continuing his schemes to make the Primarch a true believer in the divinity of the Emperor. We follow the Guard, as always, alongside some Sisters of Battle as they investigate the presence of a potential Imperial Saint in the city of Tyros, who first appears at the turning point in the battle against the forces of Nurgle. We meet several of Nurgle’s daemons, we catch up a little with Mortarion, and we also get to catch up with the Primaris marine Justinian Parris, who is seconded to the Novamarines following the events of the earlier novel. It’s all a little bit of a jumble – Guilliman himself doesn’t even appear until well over 100 pages, to take delivery of a curious strongbox.

While Mortarion is cooking up something particularly disgusting on Iax, which we got some clues about in book one, his feint on Parmenio is intended to bring Guilliman to his knees, and so the main portion of the book deals with the battle there. There’s only so much disease, filth and ichor that I can really take, but nevertheless, I felt it was somewhat toned down compared with previous Nurgle-centric novels. The Novamarines manage to destroy one of Mortarion’s clocks on the planet, which means that when the daemonic incursion takes place, the Neverborn are at a distinct disadvantage, due to the lack of any Warp power on Parmenio. They still put up a good show, of course, and Guilliman is almost destroyed by Mortarion’s scythe Silence, but at the crucial moment, the Battle Sisters bring the Saint onto the field of battle (defying Guilliman’s express orders) and her mere presence manages to send most of the daemon’s back to the Warp. Mortarion escapes to fight another day, calling out to his estranged brother to follow him to Iax and pretty much setting up the third novel, and the Imperium forces are left to gather their thoughts and their dead.

The fairly ambiguous end sees Roboute Guilliman open the strongbox, and begin to read possibly the only remaining copy of Lorgar’s Lectitio Divinitatus.


I said before, this is a much more enjoyable novel than Dark Imperium, and I suppose part of that has to do with how I approached reading the earlier novel. There is still an element of seeing these sorts of novels as miniatures catalogues, although there aren’t any new miniatures hinted at that I recall. The Astraeus super-heavy tank gets a mention, though, which I suppose was new at the time this book came out!

The novel did feel a lot like a short series of disjointed events for probably the first half, which didn’t really help me get into it too much. It became easy to pick up and put down after a single chapter, rather than wanting to read through for a good period of time. Nevertheless, once the story got underway, it was very enjoyable – though my personal disinterest in Titan warfare meant a particularly long chapter about 3/4 of the way into the book was just tedious to get through.

I thought it was really interesting how the Imperial Saint, Kaylia, was handled, though. She seems to have been just a regular girl who happened to have, to all intents, the Emperor act through her, bringing the cleansing light of His majesty to the disease-ridden battlefields of Parmenio. One of the daemons actually refers to her as “the anathema”, their word for the Emperor, though once this power has proven to be too much for a mere mortal to contain, and she expires as a result, Guilliman writes her off as an unsanctioned Psyker and berates Mathieu for planting the seed that enabled the Battle Sisters to take possession of her. The war between the Primarch and the Ministorum is clearly not over yet!

I do wish that more had been explored of that, but I suppose it’s possible that we’ll see more of it in the next book, which I hope will follow up on a lot of this stuff. Will Roboute Guilliman become a believer? I don’t know what to make of it – and I really don’t know what to make of him. Throughout this and the last book, we are led to believe that Guilliman, once he had come out of stasis thanks to the help of the Ynnari, had a chat with the Emperor on Terra. During the confrontation with Mortarion, however, it is implied that Guilliman did not, which makes me wonder what’s going on there. Is he trying to create some kind of cult of personality around himself, and maybe eventually declare the Emperor to be dead at last? I think he is now aware of the reasons for the Primarch project, and their eventual redundancy, so maybe his loyalty has shifted a little. I’m not trying to say that he is about to fall to Chaos, of course! I’m just wondering if we might be setting up for a further schism on the side of “good”, with the Ministorum heading up a pro-Emperor faction, and Guilliman at the head of his own? Like an Imperium Secundus, but for the modern age? Who knows!

I was a bit disappointed by the actual Guilliman/Mortarion confrontation however, and while inevitable, the fact that pretty much all of the Nurgle commanders escaped to fight another day was disappointing. I suppose it’s difficult to have such a confrontation where, presumably, the author isn’t allowed to kill off such a hugely important character (with a £90 miniature that was only released a year and a half ago…) In addition, the battle involving Typhus was almost entirely a bit of a sideshow, and I can just imagine the Herald of Nurgle twirling his moustache with a snicker and a “until we meet again!”

“You haven’t seen the last of me, muchachos!”

Overall, it’s definitely worth the read, although as the second part of a trilogy it both benefits and suffers, by having a decent story to build out from, albeit with no real sense of closure quite yet.