Hobby Update 2020!

Hey everybody,
It’s that time of the year once again! Let’s dig into the progress that has been made over the last 12 months with my hobby, comparing it with my hobby goals from the start of the year – although I’ll warn you now, it’s not as extensive as I’d like!!

Paint up those Grey Knights!
This hasn’t actually been too bad, although of course I’m nowhere near to having even half of an army!

I’ve got the first Strike Squad painted up, which is quite exciting, as I’m sure you’ll agree! I also painted up the Chaplain model, and finally finished the first unit I started for the army, the Purifiers!

So at this point, I have two units of infantry painted up, and two characters. I’d like to do more as 2021 grinds on, as well, so hopefully I’ll keep churning out the psykers!

Finish off the odd Drukhari stuff that I have hanging about
I’ve not painted any Drukhari in 2020. I have, however, sold off some of the Kabalite Warriors in an attempt to clear the decks a bit. So I can hopefully get some of the backlog cleared as the next year approaches!

Necromunda, generally!
Okay, so this one has been quite successful of late, if I do say so myself!

I have played the game twice, solo, and loved it! I think I prefer Zone Mortalis to Sector Mechanicus, although it’s still early days and all that! I’ve been making pretty decent progress with painting my Delaque fighters as well, but I think I’ve been a bit all over the place in my excitement, and need to try to focus my efforts and get some stuff actually finished!

Blackstone Fortress – play a full campaign
Well, this didn’t happen. I did get the box down at one point, but didn’t get very far. Never mind!

Try to thin out the unpainted / unwanted models
This has actually worked out quite well for me, so far! As I said, I’ve got rid of some Drukhari bits, and have thinned out some others as well. There’s still a long way to go of course, but I’m considering my options with a lot of different bits and bobs… we’ll see how 2021 goes!

Finally – try to work on what I have had lying around for ages!
Yes, this hasn’t really worked out very well for me, either! I’ve splashed a bit of paint on some Genestealer Cult models, a few Necrons, and a few skirmish game bits and pieces such as Warcry and Necromunda. But not a great deal of models have been finished, I’m ashamed to say!

Looking through my instagram, I have fully painted five Necron Immortals, two Necron Overlords (including the new Indomitus model), five Blood Angels Devastator Marines, the Grey Knights Chaplain, Grey Knights Strike Squad, and a couple of things that I’m very pleased with:

The Ferratonic Incinerator has been hanging about for years, and I think back in 2019 one of my hobby goals was to paint a piece of terrain, so I feel pleased that I’ve finally made good on that point! I’m hoping that I can get more done, now that I’ve developed more of an idea of how I can get stuff like this painted, so we shall see on that one!

Finally, I’m really happy with this guy! So far, it’s the only model for the Black Legion that I have painted, and this is yet another army project that I’ve not yet gotten off the ground. However, it’s a project that I am rather excited to do, and Chaos is something that I keep coming back to, so I will no doubt have some updates on this development soon!

So there we have it – not the best of years, but not the worst!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
Well, here we are, at the end of the Legacy run! After the initial 50-issue ongoing series came to an end in August 2010, there was a short gap before the six-issue miniseries War picked up the tale to draw things to a close. Interestingly, the same thing happened to the Knights of the Old Republic ongoing series, which ran pretty much concurrently with Legacy throughout, and was wrapped up by its own War miniseries. But that will be a subject for another blog!

Volume Eleven: War

Darth Krayt has returned! He travels to Coruscant to confront Darth Wyyrlock, and kills him in single combat, taking back control of the Empire to lead a new crusade against the galaxy. Antares Draco, held captive on Korriban, has eventually broken under the torture of Darth Havok, and divulged the location of the hidden Jedi temple on Taivas.

The Sith plot to destroy the Jedi once and for all, and send a combined task force under Darth Stryfe, while also dispatching Darth Nihl at the head of his secret Sith Dragon ships. However, the Jedi launched a defense alongside Gar Stazi and the Fel Empire. Just when the Alliance seemed to come through victorious, the Dragon ships appear and turn the tide, but the tide turns again when several Sith Imperial ships, including Moff Yage, defect back to Roan Fel’s side.

Fearing an assault on Bastion, Fel decides to lead an assault directly on Coruscant. It turns out that Darth Maladi had been captured, and was working with Fel to create a biological weapon designed to attack the Sith. A strike team, led by Cade Skywalker, sabotage the orbital defense network to allow the fleet to arrive in-system. Cade then infiltrated the Sith temple to confront Krayt. During the duel, Cade witnessed Krayt’s vision for the future: Darth Maladi’s toxin is actually designed to kill everyone except the Sith. Seeing this vision, Cade finally knows his place in the galaxy and kills Krayt, declaring himself to be a Jedi.

However, feeling Krayt’s spirit in the back of his mind, Cade knew that the Sith Lord would be able to heal himself once more, and so determines to fly a ship into Coruscant’s sun, destroying them both. However, the spirit of Luke appears to him once more, and urges him to trust in his friends. He ejects, and Jariah Syn picks him up while Krayt’s body is incinerated in the sun.

And with that, the Legacy series comes to an end!

This was a pretty action-packed ending to the series, bringing everything together into a nice (too nice?) package. I’ve glossed over a lot of details here, of course, but there is a lot going on in this book, although I think it succeeds in not feeling too rushed. The book covers a lot of space battle over the hidden temple, living up to the title at least! It’s pretty epic, and I think we could perhaps have seen more of these types of all-out battles throughout the main series.

Cade goes through a bit of a metamorphosis in this one, as well. His creepy leer still pops up of course, but he does become more noble, somehow – I think the death of Bantha Rawk during the assault on the hidden temple has a lot to do with that, but he does give up with his “I don’t want anyone to die for me” to some extent. I talked about the whole Grey Jedi thing in my previous blog, and this miniseries does go some way to mitigate that, by making him follow the Jedi path more consciously, and walking in the Light, etc. I do appreciate the fact that his character has “resolved”, therefore!

Darth Krayt is something of a problematic character for me, though, although I suppose it has been explained to some degree why he has done what he has done. Some of his outbursts, about making the galaxy suffer, and so on, do seem to be a bit inconsistent with the Jedi Master who fought during the Clone Wars, but we learnt that a lot of his world view was shaped by Vergere in the embrace of pain. I guess I compare it a bit with Jacen Solo in the Legacy of the Force novels, and while Jacen’s descent into Darth Caedus was maybe unexpected, it was handled so well by the authors of that series that he never felt like the pantomime villain that Krayt sometimes is.

I should probably re-read the LotF novels at some point – maybe next year!

I’m glad I’ve re-read the series, and have actually read it through to conclusion, because some of the later arcs I don’t think I read back in the day! While some of my affection for this series was probably borne from nostalgia, along with a fair dose of it being so novel when it was first published. Now, though, even given the fact that it’s a Legends series so these things don’t really matter, I do feel that it falls short of the mark, in the main due to the fact I hate the main protagonist!!

But let’s end this on a high – seeing the fallout of the Yuuzhan Vong war was cool, and some aspects of the series, such as the Hidden Temple of the Jedi, were great!

Horror in your Dreams!

Hey everyone,
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and for today’s festive offering, I’m attempting to revive my custom of playing Eldritch Horror! There are still a couple of expansions that haven’t yet made it onto the blog, so today I’m going to investigate The Dreamlands, a big box expansion that first came out back in 2017.

Eldritch Horror: The Dreamlands

As with both of the previous big box expansions, Mountains of Madness and Under the Pyramids, The Dreamlands comes with a new side board for the main game, featuring locations from HP Lovecraft’s Dream-Cycle stories such as Ulthar and Dylath-Leen. Travel between these boards is, however, much easier than previously seen, as an investigator can either spend 1 clue or test Will -1 while performing a Rest action, and immediately move to the Enchanted Wood location. During set-up, three gates are drawn from the gate stack, ensuring each is for a location not on the Dreamlands board – these locations then receive Dream Portals which also link the boards together. It’s all quite thematic, and depending on where the locations of the Dream Portals are, can make things fairly straightforward to travel back and forth.

Eldritch Horror: The Dreamlands

The expansion is very much in the vein of more of the same, as we follow the now-established formula for these things, with two new Ancient Ones, about eight new investigators all from the Arkham Files universe, more cards for the base game locations as well as item decks, and then cards for the new board, and in this case an Expedition-style deck called the Dreamquest deck, which functions in the same way as previous iterations by giving you more complex encounters to follow. There are, of course, Prelude cards that allow you to determine how you’re going to use the new content if you like to structure things that way, and there is a small deck of Adventure cards that work with the Dreamlands board if you aren’t using a Dreamlands Ancient One.

Eldritch Horror: The Dreamlands

For my first game, I went up against Atlach-Nacha, created by Clark Ashton Smith as the spider god who spins a web between Hyperborea and the Dreamlands. I seem to recall always being fairly creeped-out when playing against this Ancient One in Arkham Horror, though that’s likely due to my arachnophobia. Here, Atlach-Nacha feels like a fairly straightforward Ancient One to overcome – it is more than likely down to the Mysteries that I drew, of course, but I didn’t feel like there was a great struggle as I went around the boards. True, only one of the three mysteries that I drew required me to have Research Encounters, so whereas normally I can be a little bit frustrated with the lack of clues spawning and so forth, here it didn’t really come to pass. I was also very lucky with Luke Robinson gaining the friendship of the cat unique asset which grants you five clues, as this happened just when I needed it!

Atlach-Nacha

The second Ancient One included in the box is Hypnos, who I’m fairly sure has been upgraded from simply a Herald (or was he a Guardian?) in Arkham Horror. Hypnos always works with the Dreamlands board, and has some fairly interesting mechanics for advancing his mysteries. He also has three separate decks of special encounters, which is really neat!

However, I feel like neither of these Ancient Ones is particularly nasty.

I don’t mean this to sound in any way disdainful when I say that this expansion gives us more variety without really breaking any of the rules of the base game, because it really isn’t a bad thing. Eldritch Horror has, in many ways, provided nothing but more of the same in each expansion. The Focus mechanic is back from Mountains of Madness, and that is pretty much the only change from the base game. Everything else is self-explanatory once you start playing, and while we get some tweaks on existing concepts (more Conditions that are actually boons, for example), there’s very little to confuse the uninitiated.

The eight investigators included are all familiar faces with new artwork, some of them are quite welcome having been staples from the core set of Arkham Horror, but only now making their appearance here.

There isn’t really a great deal more that can be said, if I’m honest – the expansion provides much of what we’re used to seeing from Eldritch Horror at this point, and continues the trend as we would expect it. The side board is interesting, with some thematic stuff going on to enjoy, and overall any fan of the base game will appreciate this for its strong ties in to the theme of the source material. I don’t think I’d say it is my favourite of the Eldritch Horror expansions, but it does its job well, and that’s all that we can ask!

Eldritch Horror: The Dreamlands

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re on the home strait with the Legacy series now! There has been a lot of nostalgia for me in re-reading these comics, but at the same time, it has felt like a bit of a slog, as I’ve not really enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. But we’re getting there, so let’s crack on!

Volume Nine: Monster

This is a very intriguing storyline. Rav shows up again, and offers his erstwhile pirates an offer they can’t refuse. They head to Wayland, one of the first sites of the Ossus Project, and the site where that project first showed signs of failure, but it turns into a trap. We learn (finally!) that the Ossus Project was sabotaged by Zenoc Quah, a Yuuzhan Vong Shaper who believed surrender to be a betrayal. He collaborated with Darth Maladi to sabotage the Project, which led to the Sith-Imperial War that saw the end of the Jedi all the way back in volume one.

Quah captures Deliah Blue and puts her in the embrace of pain, and together with Maladi, they attempt to lure Cade into a trap. Maladi does not trust Wyyrlok, and has sent Darth Nihl to Korriban to see if Darth Krayt is still alive; meanwhile, she is developing a bio-weapon that will keep the rest of the Sith in check, but needs to test it on a Dark Side user, and Cade is a perfect test subject. However, Cade is able to fight his way through, and Jariah Syn kills Zenoc Quah with an amphistaff that he has mastered. Maladi escapes in the chaos, detonating her laboratory, while Cade is able to free Deliah and, using the Light Side for the first time to do so, heals her in the Force.

Meanwhile, the Jedi and the Fel Empire attempt to broker a treaty on Agamar, but word is leaked to the Sith and they attack en masse, capturing Princess Marasiah and taking her to Korriban.

Star Wars Legacy

The storyline for this one was really good, I thought, as it delved a lot into the post-war landscape. We learn much more about the Ossus Project, too, which is something that I’d been wanting for most of the series up to this point! I think the blending of Yuuzhan Vong with the rest of the galaxy works well to provide that sense of distance that makes the Legacy comics feel apart from the New Republic era stories. There is that patois the Mynock crew (and others) use, which feels at times like the attempts to blend in Chinese with English in the Firefly series, but there is very little to otherwise distinguish the era from that of the height of the Empire. Seeing the devastation wrought by the Yuuzhan Vong, who apparently conquered and terraformed millions of worlds, is a nice attempt to give that distance.

Volume Ten: Extremes

The series comes to an end with the three-part Extremes arc! All hell breaks loose here, as the storyline attempts to live up to its name. Cade and his crew are on the trail of the Sith scientist Vul Isen, as they try to track down “the Butcher of Dac” and hold him accountable for his crimes. They travel to Daluuj, but are ambushed by a group of Sith who are clearly waiting for them – but Cade is able to easily escape the trap. Isen had maintained a laboratory there, which they destroy, but the trail goes cold until the Hutts – mainly fan-favourite Queen Jool – inform Cade they have lured Isen to Utapau.

It’s nice to see movie locations revisited like this, though sometimes they appear to be carbon-copied from the movies, as if time has stood still. That feels like the case here, sadly, and even the port administrator of Pau City recalls the previous holder of that title from Revenge of the Sith!

So Vul Isen is attempting to poison the world and kill Gar Stazi, who is currently based on the planet, but Cade thwarts the scientist’s plan with the help of his old master, Wolf Sazen. Additionally, Antares Draco leads a strike force to Korriban in an effort to rescue Marasiah from the hands of Darth Havok, and he learns that Havok is none other than Eshkar Niin, a former Imperial Knight who killed the wife of Roan Fel as part of his fall to the Dark Side. Part of me feels that this would have had more impact if the Fel Empire had had more exposure than it had, but I feel that throughout the series, it has always been in the background, with little development overall. Meanwhile, still on Korriban, Darth Nihl arrives to discover that Darth Talon is guarding an empty stasis chamber – Darth Krayt has disappeared! Nihl pursues Talon into the Valley of the Sith, where they both discover the resurrected Krayt, who sends out a psychic message to all Sith to inform them that he has returned…

The arc ends with Cade having a disturbing vision of the future: Darth Krayt reborn, then nothing.

Star Wars Legacy

Phew!

It’s a series that I remember enjoying a lot, back in 2008-2009 when I was initially reading them, but one that has now somehow felt much less so. I think I’ve possibly come to expect more from my Star Wars, of course, but a lot of the core storyline that follows Cade just feels really bad, like Ostrander and Duursema wanted to write about pirates and bounty hunters, but also wanted to involve the Jedi. I think if this had been a series about Cade purely as a bounty hunter, it could have worked much better. Maybe he’s angry and bitter because the Force has passed him over, despite being the heir to such a strong Skywalker tradition, and so on?

Grey Jedi are of course a thing at this time in Star Wars publishing, and I suppose that was the thing they were going for. It’s an interesting spin, but the execution tends far too much towards the frat boy jerk that I find myself cringing so much throughout.

The Imperial intrigue, around Nyna Calixte and Morlish Veed, was quite interesting for a time, and seeing the completely different take on the Empire under Roan Fel was quite refreshing. The Imperial Knights are an interesting blend of the Royal Guard and the Jedi, with a martial tradition of their own, and I think it could have been developed more if we weren’t always being treated to the soap opera of Antares Draco and Marasiah Fel!

The wider galaxy did seem to go unexplored, however, and I am quite sad about that fact. We visit plenty of worlds, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the story is told from the galactic fringe, and part of me would have liked to have seen more of what the galaxy was like prior to the Sith-Imperial War. Of course, I guess a lot of this is left unexplored simply to allow room for further storytelling, as no doubt the writers couldn’t show something to be true, only to paint other authors into a corner if they chose to follow up the Legacy of the Force series, for instance. Instead, we get the vague “Galactic Alliance” that was almost entirely wiped out at the start of the war, leaving Gar Stazi as the sole representative of the former New Republic. The main interest seems to come from the split Sith Empire and the Fel Empire, and Cade’s group, with occasional help from the Jedi remnant. It feels somewhat lacking – much like The Force Awakens, we take a leap forward in time and have very little context to hang the story on.

So there we have it, ten trade paperbacks later, the Legacy series is at an end! For now, at least. Following the initial 50-issue run, there was a four month break before the six-part Legacy: War miniseries capped things off from December 2010. But that’s for another blog!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Hope you’re all having a splendid Yuletide – and if you don’t go in for all that, hope it’s been a tremendous Friday!

I’ve had a pretty decent haul this year, mainly focusing on the recent upsurge in Arkham Horror that I’ve had! In addition to getting fully up to date with the card game, I’m quite pleased to have the new edition of the board game, which is a curious beast that I hope to find the time to explore soon!

In addition, I’ve kept a few of my recent purchases back for the festive season, as a bit of a present to myself! Looking forward to getting round to these soon!

In a pretty surprising move, GW has announced some new models coming out soon, starting with Drukhari vs Sisters of Battle, which will serve as a vehicle to show off two new plastic character models, Lelith Hesperax, and the new Lieutenant model for the Sisters, the Palatine:

I think that’s a great looking box and, depending on the price, I’m probably going to get it. I’m feeling a distinct need to get back to my beloved Dark Eldar, so it’s the perfect product! However, some of these things have been priced quite… ambitiously, and I’m not going to go too crazy for it…

We’ve also seen more for the new Slaanesh release, and I’m bowled over at the attention being lavished upon the Prince of Pleasure! New mortal archers, ranged and melee Seeker-riding mortals… and Slaangors!! My goodness, I need a lie down…

What a Christmas!!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
I’m getting close to the end of the Legacy series now! I’ve made it into the final third now, which to me form something of the nadir of the series. Let me explain…

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Seven: Storms

The seventh volume is comprised of a couple of two-parters, which takes us back into the wider galaxy with Fight Another Day, where we follow the Sith extermination of the Mon Calamari people. Fighting alongside the Mon Calamari Rangers is the Imperial Knight, Treis Sinde, who is recalled by Roan Fel but decides to go against his orders and help the Mon Cal people, especially when it is discovered that the Sith have unleashed a creature of legend, the Sith Leviathan, upon the world. I’m not a big fan of the artwork in these issues, although it does take me back to some of the Republic / Clone Wars era comics, which I seem to remember were enjoyable back in the day!

Of course, I thought the same about the Legacy series, and so far I’ve not been all that favourable this time around!!

The next two-parter is the eponymous Storms storyline, where Cade and co travel to Kiffu, where he hopes his uncle Bantha Rawk can help with healing Azlyn. Cade goes off the rails in this one, and the whole storyline is a bit bonkers if I’m honest. He tells Bantha and Droo that Azlyn wants to survive, despite the fact she has made her peace with death, and alienates Droo by putting his desire above that of the patient. He and Jariah Syn then go into town and get into a drunken brawl, and he comes very close to killing his own cousin, who is working for the local law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Darth Wyyrlock assumes control of the Empire as the mouthpiece of Darth Krayt, and bestows the title of regent on Morlish Veed, although Nyna Calixte is suspicious of the Sith’s motives, fearing that Veed will become the face of the Sith atrocities throughout the galaxy.

If ever there was a storyline to make me hate Cade, this is it. He drifts so far from the path of the Jedi it’s unreal, and he becomes such a reprehensible human being that it’s now hard to feel anything except distaste. He’s always had the look of the douchebag about him, but his scumbag leers are really just too much this time, when coupled with what he actually gets up to. I thought the Ossus storyline was supposed to see him hit rock bottom, then pick himself up again, but here he’s just an absolute dick.

Volume Eight: Tatooine

Cade & Co have started pirating Black Sun, who are themselves pirating the Empire’s supply lines. You know, as you do. Realising that he’s still public enemy number one, Cade goes to ground on Tatooine, though he is pursued by Anzati bounty hunters working for Black Sun. Nyna Calixte sends her daughter Gunner Yage to bring Skywalker in, going herself as Morrigan Corde once more. Turns out the Imperial Moff on planet is as corrupt as any Moff based on Tatooine, and was working with Black Sun to profit from letting Imperial shipments fall into criminal hands.

This one should have been a much more enjoyable storyline, as we get to visit a classic movie location – Cade even holes up from a sandstorm at the Lars Homestead – but it is once more a bit of a let-down, as Cade continues to prove that he’s the galaxy’s cheapest skank. The scumbag leers abound, and his seeming efforts to flirt with his half-sister are just cringeworthy.

Star Wars Legacy

Somewhere in here, though, there is a storyline that was fairly decent. The war profiteering by Moff Nieve Gromia was a nice mirror to the old days with Prefect Talmont. I can’t recall if I mentioned this in previous books, but I find it quite interesting that Black Sun is still a going concern in the Legacy era – criminal empires that long-lived would strike me as being a rarity?

At any rate, we’re approaching the end now, and hopefully we’ll see things pick up as we reach the finale! I’m pretty sure, when I first read this series, I didn’t get further than the Tatooine arc, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all ends!

Christmas Eve catch-up!

Hey everybody,

The festive season is well and truly upon us, although it’s a stranger one this year because of all the restrictions that are in place. I’ve got five days off work now, so I’m hoping for a bit of a break from things – mainly because there’s so little that we can do!

Of course, being a huge nerd, I feel almost like I’ve been preparing for lockdown my entire life! I’ve got an almost 15 month old baby to keep me occupied during the day, of course, and during naps and the evenings, I’ve got plenty of hobby-backlog to work through!

In an effort to get more models finished before January, today I put the finishing touches to my Necron Overlord from the Indomitus box. It’s a very nice model, even though all the Necrons from that set have got sculpted damage on them, which I’m not a fan of, but I think I’m slowly getting over that now!

I’ve been working most recently on my Delaque gangers, who are finally coming close to being finished! I’m very excited for that of course, though I do think that I’ve taken my time with them, when you think it’s been around 2 years since I first started to build them! I think they’re looking really great, anyway, and as I’m planning another game of Necromunda against myself in the near future, it’ll be nice to have that much more painted up!

Speaking of games, I’ve started to play The Lost Realm for Lord of the Rings, as well, playing the first scenario, Intruders in Chetwood, earlier this week. That was a great game, albeit really quite involved! I’m sure that I played a couple of things incorrectly, as there were a great deal of moving parts to that quest, but I really enjoyed myself – while it definitely provided a challenge, it never felt completely impossible, which was nice to see. So often in the past with this game I’ll have lost due to location lock, where the threat in the staging area is just too high for me to cope with. The encounter deck seemed to be a decent blend of cards, though, which I think is key here. Too many enemies or locations can lead to the game just beating you down hard. I was also playing with Shadow effects, as I feel I’ve been missing out on this aspect for my playing career so far! It probably helped me more than I realised, having that ability to cycle through the encounter deck and effectively discard some locations and enemies without having to deal with them, so I definitely appreciated that!

I think my decks need looking at fairly urgently, though – a lot of the time I felt as though I had too much of a mix of questers, and fighters, meaning that I probably wasn’t dealing with enemies effectively. Of course, I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to this aspect of play, but I do feel like the decks need to have their balance addressed, so that they fall down either as ‘the questing deck’ or ‘the fighting deck’. That’s not to say that they will fulfil that role exclusively, but just have a greater emphasis, rather than trying to do both equally.

I can probably make better use of Sentinel cards, also!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get more games played over the next few days – I’m hoping to get some Arkham Horror played, as well as more Lord of the Rings!

Hope you all have a wonderful festive weekend, whatever you end up doing!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re back with the great re-read of the Star Wars Legacy series!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Six: Vector

The Vector storyline was a year-long event in Star Wars comics publishing, back in 2008, where each of the four ongoing storylines – Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Times, Rebellion, and Legacy – would be touched by an ongoing crossover event. Given that more than 4000 years separates these lines, in-universe, that was quite the prospect at the start! However, it was effected really well, with the Jedi Celeste Morne being kept in stasis following the initial four-part storyline in KotOR, and being awoken by Darth Vader thousands of years later.

By the time we get to the Legacy part of the story, Morne has a star destroyer full of rakghouls floating in deep space, where Cade and his crew come across her and hatch a plan to use the rakghouls and the Muur talisman to destroy Darth Krayt and the One Sith. They travel to Had Abbadon, where Krayt and his inner circle find them and do battle. Roan Fel, hearing of the talisman, sends his Imperial Knights to collect it, thinking he can use an army of rakghouls to defeat the Sith and reclaim his throne.

Azlyn Rae manages to land the killing blow on Krayt, and his body is Force-pushed off a cliff, however she herself is mortally wounded. Karness Muur is disappointed that Krayt has been taken out of the picture, but he senses the darkness within Cade and attempts to bond his spirit with Skywalker’s. Cade, however, uses his Force power to shatter the talisman, destroying Muur for good.

The storyline concludes with Darth Wyyrlock collecting the body of Darth Krayt, only to discover that he is clinging to life – and so he uses Force-lightning to finish him off.

Dun dun dun!

Star Wars Legacy

It’s a strange one, this, because it forms something of an end-of-act storyline for the Legacy series, as well as the finale to the Vector storyline, but it does so quite well, if I’m honest. Putting aside the strangeness that we see from having a Jedi from the Old Republic era surviving for so long, and the whole thing with Roan Fel thinking it would be okay to unleash the power of the Dark Side on the galaxy if it gets his throne back (to say nothing of Antares Draco’s thoughts on getting the talisman as a way to get Marasiah into bed), the story was interesting in bringing together a lot of the major players once again. Definitely felt like an “event” storyline!

I still find myself bored by Cade forever coming across as a bad-boy type while also having these noble ideas of killing off Krayt and removing the threat of the Sith from the galaxy. It almost cheapens that threat, really, if they can be taken out by a Jedi drop-out like Cade. Remember, this is the Sith that removed the entire Jedi Order that had been rebuilt by this point. It just doesn’t ring true and I find myself having to really suspend that sense of disbelief that is normally pretty strung out with Star Wars, anyway!

Happy Solstice

Hey everybody,
Christmas is approaching, for those of you with the inclination, but the recent announcements over lockdowns in the UK has seemingly put a damper on things. This is as much as I’ll talk about with politics, of course, as I try to make this blog more of a haven from such things, but I think I’ll probably be posting a lot over the coming days as I try to take my mind off things – and, hopefully, yours, too!

It was my birthday on Friday, and I had a decent haul of Arkham Horror LCG stuff, which was great! I mean, a couple of those bits I’d kept back from recent purchases, such as the Dexter Drake novella and Guardians of the Abyss. I think the birthday haul is pretty indicative of what is on my radar right now, though – between the card game and Necromunda! I haven’t had a proper chance to do more than flick through House of Artifice, but I’m looking forward to digesting that over the coming days! I do want to get another game of Necromunda in at some point, even if it is by myself, because I’m really hooked right now!

I have started to play Lord of the Rings again, though, thinking that I’d start off with Passage Through Mirkwood, the introductory scenario. And it absolutely brutalised me! I had a very bad series of draws from the encounter deck, and playing two-handed was obviously increasing the cards seen over the course of the game, but jeez!

There are a couple of things that I want to mention here, of course. First of all, playing two-handed is actually a real joy. I had the odd moment of “where am I up to?” of course, but those tended to be in the late game where a lot was going on, already. I think perhaps playing two investigators in Arkham Horror has prepared me well for this one, and I think in part that, in comparison, Lord of the Rings is definitely a much simpler game. It surprised me because there is a much more linear plan for the game: you do the same thing round after round, and the variety of it all comes from the different cards being revealed from the encounter deck. Having played a lot of Arkham Horror lately, which has got that element of a board game from having investigators moving around different locations, and the RPG feel of leveling-up cards etc, it gives for a much more complex game. While there are those elements in common, such as effectively playing against the encounter deck and such, it really surprised me that I had that feeling!

Of course, the decks that I was playing were not really built for this way of playing – each one was effectively a solo deck, so they could have dealt with the majority of the game by themselves. As such, I think I could tweak the decks back to dual-sphere and have each one cover the other better.

Interestingly, I went back to basics on this one as well, and read through the instruction manual, as well as watching the tutorial stuff again, and tried to get it right. Back when I first started playing this game, in 2011, I had incorporated a couple of house rules I suppose, to make it more manageable for actual solo play, and I just kept playing it that way. The ‘Basic Game’ as explained in the rulebook does suggest not revealing shadow cards while you get into it, and I’ve played that way pretty much ever since! I was also playing the game whereby if I had optionally engaged an enemy, I would attack it first rather than allowing for all enemies to attack me first, regardless of who engaged who. In my mind, it made sense that I would be able to do this, because otherwise it’s the equivalent of going up to someone for a fight, and letting them hit you first? Of course, there are player cards that allow you to dodge attacks and the like, but it always struck me as really odd that I couldn’t natively attack first when it was my choice to engage with that enemy!

Anyhow, playing the game correct, I thought, would be a lot of work, but as it happened the first game was over in 5 rounds, as I was just unable to overcome the threats in the staging area, due to bad draws from both the encounter and player decks! Any allies that I had were dying to enemy attacks as I threw them under the bus to just try to deal damage to the enemies engaged with me, but as time went on, I had to throw my heroes at them as defenders, meaning I was in a holding pattern of doom until round 5, when four of my six heroes were killed off. It was shocking!

I did later that same day play again, after briefly considering trying out the official Easy Mode of removing some of the encounter cards, but in the end went for a straightforward shuffle-up-and-reset, and I managed to prevail. The game was a lot longer than I’d expected, though I think that was in part because of the two-handed thing, but also simply because I was trying to defeat Ungoliant’s Spawn, which was the fourth card from the bottom of the deck. Still playing without shadow cards, I wasn’t drawing as many encounter cards as perhaps I could have been!

It’s interesting though, to me, that playing without shadow cards can be such a dual-edged sword; on the one hand, you’re potentially buffing enemies when they can already be a bit unwieldy, but almost in return you get to cycle through the encounter deck quicker, and can potentially avoid having so many locations or so many enemies coming into play. I suppose this is something to think about when we’re talking about implementing house rules or whatever – the game has been tested to play in a certain way, and is as balanced as possible based on its own rules. Adding to these, or changing things, can tip that balance and sometimes lead to a less-than-optimum experience. Certainly something I need to bear in mind when I’m complaining about “how tough is this game?!”

Lord of the Rings LCG

I’m still going to be playing through one of these cycles over the Christmas period – at least one, maybe more! – so look forward to hearing more of my musings as I properly get back into what I have always been calling my favourite game!

I picked up the latest White Dwarf this morning and, as I have the day off (yay!) I had a fairly leisurely breakfast while flicking through its pages. There’s a lot of Age of Sigmar stuff in there, which I kinda glossed over because I’m not big into Spiderfang Grots, but I was reading Robin Cruddace’s column on the new 40k rules, and it was quite interesting to see why they changed some of the rules from 8th to 9th edition.

I’ve talked briefly about this recently, but in some ways I think 9th edition coming out in the middle of a global pandemic, when there are so many restrictions in place that the GW stores themselves can’t even run demos of the game or have people in there for any longer than absolutely necessary, does seem to be a bit of a swing and a miss. Any sort of excitement around the new edition has been, for me, tempered by the fact that I couldn’t immediately play it, and the few games that I have managed to play since it arrived were a weird sort of hodge-podge of rules, in part because I was playing an 8th edition codex in a new game. Granted, it wasn’t massively different, though for something like Necrons, trying to play with the army when Reanimation Protocols had changed, but we didn’t have the rest of the rules yet, was such a weird experience. Now, I know plenty of other folks will have been through the pain barrier between editions where they’re using a book from an edition or two ago, but it’s difficult to get my head around!

It’s curious, although perhaps not totally unexpected, to see how I’ve almost gone off 40k in recent weeks. I think the lack of any outlet to play has a lot to do with this, as I’ve got no real motivation to paint anything up while there’s no end in sight to these lockdowns! I’ve moved into solo-able games so much that 40k has almost been left behind, but I do think it’s about time I used some of the down-time to get some projects finished, so that I can play with fully painted models when this is all over! I’m sure there’ll be more on this to come in the next couple of weeks – if only from the now-inevitable Hobby Resolutions blog! Now is not the time for a retrospective on that one, of course, but it’s definitely been a mixed bag in 2020, with some successes as well as some that have fallen by the wayside. Stay tuned for that blog, coming up sometime next week, no doubt!

Warhammer: Invasion

Hey everybody!
It’s time for a celebration here at spalanz.com, as this post marks my 1000th post on my blog! Whoever would have thought? It’s also my birthday, so it’s a double celebration, and I thought that I’d mark it in style. Today, I thought I’d talk about one of my all-time favourite games. It’s one that I have mentioned rather a lot over the years, but have never gotten round to actually featuring on the blog until now. It’s time to delve into the Old World, with Warhammer: Invasion, from Fantasy Flight Games!

Warhammer: Invasion

This was one of FFG’s original line-up of living card games, and as such features the older distribution model of having one full cycle of card packs (called ‘battle packs’ here) where they didn’t print an entire playset of each card; rather, the first cycle has 40-card packs where 10 cards have the full set of three copies, and 10 cards are one-of. The game was designed by Eric Lang, who has worked a lot with FFG over the years (and, due to his design of this game, has earned the glorious reputation of being my favourite game designer!) and was published between 2009 and 2013. This is really why I have never gotten round to featuring it on my blog, as I didn’t start writing it until the year after it had received its final expansion.

It is a competitive game for two players, where each player takes control of one of the six great factions of the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy: The Empire, Dwarves, High Elves, Chaos, Orcs or Dark Elves. This is before Age of Sigmar shook things up, remember, so we’ve got the delightful Holy Roman Empire-inspired battlegrounds replete with legends such as Karl Franz and Sigvald the Magnificent.

I’ve played this game a lot, and while I have played as every faction, I have the most experience as playing Chaos, and so all of the photos I’ve taken to show this great game are from the Ruinous Powers’ perspective.

Warhammer: Invasion

Each player has a Capital board, which has three zones: a Kingdom zone, a Battlefield zone, and a Quest zone. These zones determine how you play the game. Each has a number of axe symbols there: you gain resources equal to the number of axes in your Kingdom zone; you can attack your opponent for a number of damage equal to those in your Battlefield zone, and you draw cards equal to the number of axes in your Quest zone.

There are a number of different card types in the game: mainly Units, such as fighters and wizards, but also Support cards, Tactics cards, and Quest cards. Support cards are a bit like locations or objects that you can deploy to increase your influence in the game. Tactics cards are basically Event cards, with a one-time effect. Quest cards are only ever played into the Quest zone, and represent a longer-term investment in your strategy – they have effects that will trigger if a unit is played onto the quest, and you can gain bonuses thereafter.

Warhammer: Invasion

The object of the game is simple: you must burn two of your opponent’s zones by dealing at least 8 damage to that zone.

So, on your turn you get three resources because your Capital board has got three axes in your Kingdom zone from the off. You can use those resources to play cards into your Kingdom zone to increase the axes you have there, which will net you more resources next turn, or you can play cards into your Quest zone to draw more cards on your next turn.

Resources are a bit funny in this game, in that there are two costs for playing a card: the actual printed cost (in the top left corner) and its Loyalty cost, displayed in symbols down the left hand side of the card. Each Capital board provides one loyalty symbol, and other cards, once played, will provide a similar cost. If you only have two symbols among cards under your control and the Capital board, and the card you want to play has three loyalty symbols on it, then the difference increases the cost of that card. It’s a good way to balance cards where players might want to combine races (though that isn’t such an easy thing to do anyway, so I’m not sure you’d want to do this very often).

The Kingdom zone gives you buying power, as we’ve seen, and the Quest zone increases your card draw as well as giving you useful options through Quest cards, which can grant useful effects when units are placed there on the quest. The Battlefield zone is, normally, the only way to actually fight your opponent and deal damage to them. During the Battlefield phase, the active player can declare attackers against his opponent’s zone, totting up the combined axes between all of the cards declared as such. The defending player then declares which if his units, if any, will defend from that zone, and the damage is assigned simultaneously. Once this has been done, it is actually applied so the attacker and defender can both lose units at this point. Any excess damage dealt by the attacker is placed onto the defender’s Capital board, and as mentioned earlier, 8 points of damage is enough to burn that zone. (Importantly, if the defender has the possibility to over-assign damage in their defense, that damage is not dealt back to the attacker’s Capital.)

Warhammer: Invasion

So in the above example, I’ve got six axes in my Kingdom zone, so I’ll be getting six resources per turn, and I get to draw three cards per turn, also. The Battlefield zone is quite impressive, having a Bloodthirster out that deals a massive 5 damage, as well as forces the discard of a unit from my opponent’s Battlefield zone before I attack. The Bloodletter also doubles all damage being dealt to units, which could potentially allow me to one-shot a zone in my attack phase. Nasty!

It’s a very straightforward game when explained like this, but there is a depth that comes from different card effects as well as the strategy of where you’re going to attack. For example, a player might be tempted to place a lot of his heavy-hitting units in his Battlefield in the expectation of using them to deal a lot of damage, but if his opponent attacks his Quest or Kingdom zone, there may be much weaker units there that cannot absorb the amount of damage coming through. Similarly, it sometimes doesn’t pay to double-down on attacking your opponent’s Quest or Battlefield zone if they’re building up a vast amount of resources in their Kingdom zone, which allows them to easily bring out something like a Bloodthirster!

There are a number of moving parts to a game like this, of course, with keywords that allow for some evil shenanigans on both sides. Toughness appears on some cards and acts as damage-negation, while Counterstrike allows a defender to immediately deal its damage to the attacker, reducing the overall damage being dealt. I said earlier that each zone will burn if it is dealt 8 points of damage; one way you can protect it is by playing cards face-down into that zone as Developments. Developments add 1 hit point to the zone that they’re in, and a player may only play one Development per turn. One aspect of the game that is particularly associated with Chaos is Corruption, which turns a card 90-degrees and removes its ability to act as an attacker or defender. You only get to restore one Corrupt card per turn, so if your opponent has Corrupted a number of your cards, then you’ll be facing an uphill struggle, from the off!

Warhammer: Invasion

With a generous life-cycle, Warhammer: Invasion had a lot of expansions. In addition to the initial Assault on Ulthuan box that brought High Elves and Dark Elves into the game (the core set only included four full factions, with just a couple of cards for the Elven races), March of the Damned brought us Lizardmen and Vampire Counts. The artwork on March of the Damned, as I have mentioned many times before, is what initially drew me to this game!

There were six full cycles each of six Battle Packs for the game:
The Corruption Cycle
The Enemy Cycle
The Morrslieb Cycle
The Capital Cycle
The Bloodquest Cycle
The Eternal War Cycle
Each of these worked on developing a specific aspect of the game, such as the Bloodquest cycle giving greater emphasis to Quests in the game. The Morrslieb cycle gave greater interaction with Developments, while introducing the Wood Elves to the game as a neutral faction, similar to how the Skaven had been introduced in the Corruption cycle. Hidden Kingdoms was the final deluxe expansion that then brought the four neutral factions to the fore, making each one a fully playable faction by giving small-scale Capital cards to allow you to play, for instance, all-Lizardmen:

Warhammer: Invasion

Perhaps one of the most important expansions was the Legends deluxe box, which brought a new card type to the game: Legends (surprising, that!)

Warhammer: Invasion

These cards are played into the centre of your Capital, and grant additional axes to each of your zones. Legends can be attacked instead of attacking a particular zone, and some of the more powerful ones might need to be dealt with before they can run away with the game for your opponent, so it can sometimes be worthwhile doing this! The deluxe expansion brought ways to interact with these Legends, however, and subsequent expansions even brought out new Legends, making them as close to a fully-supported type as possible. Hidden Kingdoms, in fact, brought us neutral Legend cards for each of the four factions.

Finally, the Cataclysm expansion gave us the option for multiplayer games.

Warhammer: Invasion

Cataclysm changed up the gameplay quite a bit, by adding these Fulcrum cards – sites of incredible magical power that can be channeled by a player during his turn to gain the effect on them. Cataclysm brings 3-4 players into the mix, and there are always 1 less Fulcrum cards than the number of players in play. In a four player game, three Fulcrums are in play – a player can declare an attack against a Fulcrum card from the common play area, and gain control of it, putting it into his Battlefield zone. During the end phase of the round, a player gains Dominance equal to the number of Fulcrums under his control: if a player has 8 Dominance at the end of the round, he will win.

Warhammer: Invasion

Cataclysm also changed the rules so that all three zones of a player’s Capital board must be burning for them to be eliminated. As such, the player cards included with the expansion all held a greater significance for burning zones, although these could obviously also be used in regular games, though given the fact fewer zones need to be burning, they would have a correspondingly lower impact.


Warhammer: Invasion is just a magnificent game. Before I discovered Magic the Gathering, it was my most-played competitive card game by a long shot. Something changed for me back in 2015, though, and the fact that Magic can be played purely with a deck of cards, and no need for all the tokens and Capital boards, it sort of struck a chord for me, and Warhammer: Invasion slipped down the ranks. However, I think with the End Times and then Age of Sigmar obliterating the Old World, there is something incredibly comforting about this game – I don’t mean that from the point of view of someone who rages against AoS, of course! I just love the low fantasy setting of the Old World, and I find it akin to coming home whenever I think about playing this game.

I mentioned the depth of gameplay that Warhammer: Invasion holds earlier, and I think there is something to be said about having a game where you begin with a deck of 100 cards! Games can be brutal, for sure, but they can also be quite long, as each side builds up their forces in the manner of true warfare. Sorties are sent to test the enemy, in case of any Tactics cards that might be played, before committing to an all-out assault in the typical carnage of Warhammer!

I haven’t played it for four years, though, which I suppose speaks a lot about my gaming habits in this day and age! Solo and cooperative games are a much better bet for me now, of course, but I’m hopeful that, when the world has returned to normal and we can see friends once more, I can convince my long-time gaming buddy Tony to break out his High Elf deck and once more demolish my attempts to Corrupt the world!