July retrospective

Hey everybody,

Well it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was here with my June retrospective, and already July has been and gone! With everything going on in real life right now, I have (unsurprisingly!) been a bit busy to be doing any fun stuff, as holding a baby to get her to sleep (and all the other associated activities!) don’t really allow for anything else. But I have been reading, which is probably going to be the main focus of this post!

I’ve been reading a lot of Necromunda books, both the current range of hardcovers and also the old Gang War supplements that were released three years ago now. Perhaps because of the fact that I’m now outnumbered by women at home, I’ve been taking a long look at House Escher for the game, and did actually manage to find a spare moment to paint some miniatures earlier in the month! So hurrah for that! I haven’t managed to get very far though, and haven’t managed to do so again, either. But never mind. I think, having a second child, it’s easier because you know there will come a time when the stars align and you get your free time back in the evenings – it isn’t suddenly a black hole of having no available time for the foreseeable future!

I’ve been reading a lot about campaign play as well, and seeing how that all works out for the game. It’s really exciting, and I think it’s going to be at the top of my list when I’m able to have something like regular gaming once more!

The roadmap for Necromunda was recently updated, to show the plastic weapon upgrades for Orlock, Van Saar and Cawdor are coming in the next quarter, and a new gang in Q4! This is very exciting, I must say. A lot of speculation is being made around classics such as Ratskins or Skavvies, but I do recall hearing at one of the Open Days that they also had plans for totally new gangs, which of course we have seen already with the Corpse Grinders, so I’m very excited to see what’s coming. Very exciting times in the Underhive right now – and it’d be even better if we had the Delaque weapons!

The new edition of Kill Team has been announced, with GW making a very big deal of it coming out next month. I’ve been back and forth so much on this one, but I think I’m still at the point where I’m really excited for the new system. Whether I am able to get my hands on the new box or not is, of course, the big question, but I think it looks like it should make a really interesting board game style of game, even if I nevermake up another team. But, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to be making more teams!

The thing is, though, I’m really feeling the narrative focus this time around, and I know people have been losing their literal minds on the internet by the fact that it now uses movement templates rather than inches, but I do find myself quite liking the fact that the rules have changed to a more bespoke system. However, it’s the narrative, for me, that I’m keen to dive into, and I’m really looking forward to assembling a team of spec-ops to use. Furthermore, I think I’ll most likely be assembling a team or two that are purely meant for Kill Team, and not simply taking a bunch of models from my 40k collection to use in this game, which I have done in the past. The Krieg models are a perfect case in point, and I think I might be keeping a few Tempestus Scions for the game as well. We shall see!

As I said, though, I’ve mainly been reading this month, and have managed to make my way through two of the anthologies for the Horus Heresy, Shadows of Treachery and The Primarchs – so I think I’m reasonably now up to date on everything that I’ve missed! As ever, anthologies are a bit of an uneven experience for me, so rather than going through them both story-by-story, I thought I’d pick out my absolute favourites to talk about from each.

Prince of Crows

Published in Shadows of Treachery, this follows on from Savage Weapons, where Konrad Curze was wounded by Lion el’Jonson during their duel. With Curze lying comatose, First Captain Sevatar re-forms the Kyroptera advisory council of the Night Lords, and plans how to save the Legion as the Thramas Crusade draws to its conclusion, with the Dark Angels poised to annihilate the VIII Legion. The Legion commanders each take a portion of the fleet to raid Imperial space, while Sevatar himself uses his nascent psychic ability to bring back the Night Haunter from his coma, and lead a retaliatory strike against the Lion’s cruiser. While this attack ultimately fails, it does allow for Curze to hide himself in the bowels of the Invincible Reason.

I really enjoyed this novella – it’s probably one of the best Horus Heresy stories that I’ve read for some time, actually! The Night Lords haven’t really had a novel properly dedicated to them, they’re always just on the sidelines – I’m not sure if that changes, as I’ve only just broken into the 30s in the series, but I feel like they’re something of a forgotten Legion, really! There are a couple of short stories though, which somewhat culminate with this novella, joining the dots as to what’s happening out on the fringes before Curze then makes an appearance in The Unremembered Empire. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s nice to see the Legion structures and compare / contrast how each works. The Night Lords, for all that they’re said to be a band of ruthless murderers, still have that similar command structure, the Kyroptera being roughly analogous to the Mournival of the Sons of Horus.

We also get an extended flashback/memory sequence from Curze, detailing his early life on Nostramo, which was nice to get that full story in print, as it’s a fairly major part of the lore, etc. It’s a fairly lengthy novella, and gives a lot of action as well as some of the quieter moments to allow for a bit of Legion lore to get in, as well. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it!

Shadows of Treachery is otherwise a bit bland, with a couple of shorter stories that just felt dull and unnecessary when talking about the Heresy as a whole, but we also have The Crimson Fist, which was a bit of a drawn-out explanation for why the Imperial Fists didn’t make it to Isstvan V. I wasn’t a huge fan, truth be told.

The Serpent Beneath

This is another fantastic novella-length story, published in The Primarchs and this time dealing with the Alpha Legion. My favourite of the Legions, the story is actually quite fascinating as it deals with the Legion infiltrating Tenebrae Station, which is controlled by their own brother legionaries. The station is being used to create the warp storms that are keeping the White Scars at Chondax, but several security leaks have been traced to the installation and Omegon decides to form a team to neutralise this threat.

The narrative is really quite cleverly constructed, as it keeps slipping back to the planning meeting that Omegon held with the team, and then into the action of their infiltration. It poses the very intriguing question, what happens when you need to infiltrate your own Legion, and so know your own tricks? 

There are so many twists and turns along the way that it is virtually impossible to summarise them all, but the story takes a hugely interesting turn at the very end, where Omegon and Alpharius discuss the situation. It seems Omegon had fabricated the security leak as a means to destroy the station, a gift from the Cabal, and it is possible that he is trying to subvert his twin’s plans – is Omegon a secret loyalist? Who the hell knows, this is the Alpha Legion, after all! It was a great story, with a look at the wider universe outside of the space marines – when Omegon is recruiting his team, we get something almost akin to a film noir sequence of the hooded marines stalking a Mechanicum operative. This is just one of many cases in point, though, as the story was exceedingly cinematic, and it read really well as a result.

The Primarchs is essentially four novellas that tell stories about Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion el’Jonson, and Omegon. The Fulgrim story actually turned out to be fairly important, bridging the gap between Fulgrim and Angel Exterminatus, and clearing up some minor points that had be a little confused at the time. The Iron Hands story is notable for being a tale with Ferrus Manus front and centre (considering he is killed in book three of the series), and I thought it posed some interesting questions about the Legion, notably how easy it would be to overcome the warriors if you can disrupt their bionics.

In addition to reading, I’ve also been watching more TV, starting to make my way through The Expanse on Amazon Prime. It’s been years since I first read Leviathan Wakes, and I’m still a little put out that I’ve not yet made it to the next book in the series! I really need to pull my finger out on that front. I’ve watched the first series, and I was really impressed by the look of it, and the feel for how they’ve translated the book to the screen. I do find myself increasingly impressed at how good TV shows have become in recent years – watching WandaVision earlier in the year, I was continually blown away by how the production values made it feel very much like a part of the MCU. The Expanse is in a similar vein, with a big-budget feel to it. I did feel lost for the most part, because the storyline has been mixed up, I believe, with some of the more political storylines from Cibola Burn. So I did find it a little hard to follow at times, but that was only because I was thinking of it in terms of the book! I think that adding this political dimension in right away has been the best decision, though, because it greatly enhances the world-building – in my initial review of the book, I did mention the fact that we don’t get a lot of that as a downside to the story.

It’s a great series, anyway, and I think in general this is some of the most believable sci-fi that we have out there. Definitely looking forward to diving into more of this!

Flashpoint: Octarius

This month’s White Dwarf has got the start of a new Flashpoint, this time moving to the Octarius Sector, ready to tie in to the new Kill Team box that is coming next month! I thought it might be good to have a proper catch up with this one, anyway, and keep updated as it seems to be a fairly major development going forward, with the next in the series of Warzone books also focusing on the Sector.

This particular flashpoint seems to be involving the Tyranids and the Orks, as a Waaagh! was manoeuvred into the path of a tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan by the Imperium, thinking that they would wipe each other out. But no! The Tyranids gained more biomass to enjoy, and were able to adapt in yet more interesting ways, while the Orks grew huge on the prospect of even more brutal carnage. The Sector was then declared the planets at the heart of this conflict to be lost to the Imperium, with those worlds bordering the battlegrounds reinforced to contain the xenos menace. Reinforcements of space marines from the Deathwatch as well as the Dark Krakens (a Salamanders successor chapter) answered the call for aid along the newly established Cordon Impenetra.

The Dark Krakens began an unusual mission on the planet Death of Bianzeer; to protect a pack of ursun-wolves, to ensure the Tyranids weren’t able to assimilate the creatures into the hive mind and gain a potentially lethal advantage in the subsector. There is a lot of information about this campaign against the Tyranids, and it all sounds wonderfully atmospheric, with the space marines wading through snowdrifts while the Tyranids send Hormagaunts to burst up through the snow, or Gargoyles hanging still and silent from trees, waiting to attack from above.

I don’t think the Dark Krakens are about to become another Tome Keepers, with a whole Index Astartes article on them, but we get a lot of information about their librarian, chaplain and chapter master, with some datasheets as well. Just the one mission is included in the article, one of which replicates the Dark Krakens’ defence of the ursun-wolves. Additionally, though, there is one Theatre of War, which seems to be a set of additional rules for any scenario of your choosing. This one is set underwater, Beneath the Mirror Sea, the site of a skirmish with the Tyranids prior to the ursun-wolves stuff.

This doesn’t feel as loaded with additional rules and stuff as the first White Dwarf Flashpoint articles, somehow, though maybe they’re going to either draw this out or else have learned to balance the magazine content away from giving too many optional rules. Of course, it’s still fantastic that we get this kind of game content in the magazine! I think it’ll be interesting to see the contents of the Kill Team and Warzone books that come out, and how they link in with this content.

2021 Hobby Goals check-in

Hey everybody,

We’re a little way over halfway through the year now, so I thought it would be good to check in on where I’m up to, as regards fulfilling those goals that were set out back in January!

To start with, I’ve been trying to do more with my Sisters, working on the original Battle Sister squad from the launch box, which I had previously tried to paint in a couple of different schemes, but haven’t yet managed to get very far! I have been doing a great deal of research into the faction, which had been inspiring me to get them painted, but the project stalled when Necromunda came heavily back onto my radar!

So far, then, not much has been done.

Next up we’re the Drukhari, and I had planned to paint up 5 Wracks, 3 Grotesques, 5 Incubi and Drahzar. So far, I’ve painted 5 Incubi, which is delightful, and I’ve also made some progress with the Coven models as well. I’m hopeful that I might actually achieve this one by the end of the year, anyway!

I need to think about what I want to do with those armies for which I have so many unpainted or partially painted things. AdMech, Deathwatch, Tempestus Scions and Blood Angels, specifically. I’m pretty much set on keeping my Genestealer Cults and my Tyranids, though at this point I don’t really have them on my radar. The same is true of my Grey Knights – I think the winter time is when I tend to go down that road, anyway – though with the new Castellan Crowe model on the horizon, that could well change. I still have Heretic Astartes on the radar as well, though not far enough up the list where I want to start working on them. Similar story with my Necrons really, I had wanted to try to rescue some more of the older models that I have hanging about, but so far all I’ve done is finish a couple of the newer models.

I’m always in a bit of a quandary over the Imperium armies, because on the one hand I think it’s really cool to have the sort of classic 40k army, with tanks and such – I just find it so inspirational! But on the other hand, I feel as though I’m forever taking on too much, and I do feel that need to trim back my projects!!

Lastly, I wanted to paint more terrain. Well, I’ve not managed to do anything with that one yet, either!! I really want to try and get some Sector Mechanicus stuff finished, in particular the Alchomite Stack that has been partially painted for a couple of years now. I have quite a lot of stuff though, but having finally figured out a colour scheme when painting up the Ferratonic Incinerator at the end of last year, I’m hopeful that I could get another terrain piece finished by the end of the year!

So, if I’m doing this badly at keeping to my goals, what the hell have I been doing?!

Despite all of my goals being centred around 40k, I’ve actually spent the year painting up a near-complete army for Age of Sigmar! I’ve painted up loads of Ossiarch Bonereapers, which makes me happy! I’ve even done some terrain for the fantasy game! Definitely unexpected, that one!

At the minute, I’m not really able to paint anything, as I’m in full-on baby-care mode. But hopefully as the year moves on, I’ll be able to get somewhere as life returns to something like normal. Fingers crossed!! It’ll be interesting to see how far I get with all this!!

New Kill Team!

We have another new edition of Kill Team coming soon, and it does look kinda tasty, I have to say!

It looks quite wonderful, for sure – Death Corps of Krieg vs Orks, and we have a box load of Ork shanty-town style terrain, too!

Now, I’m not an Ork fan, not really. They’re possibly the only faction in 40k that I’ve never really shown any interest in collecting, but these models have got so much character that I have been finding myself wondering if the time has come! I mean, look at them!

What has really piqued my interest though, is the plastic Death Corps models that are coming!

These really are some of the most beautiful, characterful models that I’ve seen for 40k in some time. Multipart plastic models that have the options to make regular guardsmen, but which come with a Veterans sprue that allow for all of the specialist models for Kill Team – I mean, this all sounds so perfect!

The thing is, my buddy James already has a Krieg army, and I have no interest in stepping on anyone’s toes. I also have no genuine interest in Orks, so this set – while initially full of excitement for me, has actually fallen off the wayside now, and I think I’ll most likely pass. Even when the separate boxes come out, I don’t really know if I’d buy the guard, as it would only really be for a painting project.

However, I’m really torn because this, perhaps more than any other box that GW has produced, is giving me strong board-game vibes, and I think it looks like an excellent game to keep for its own merits. The previous iteration of Kill Team had that to some extent, though I think that box was always seen as a launch set for the Sector Imperialis terrain, and recycled some Skitarii and Neophytes. This box feels much more like the miniatures are designed for the box, and not designed for 40k. But that’s probably just me!

I find it interesting that these models have almost been specifically designed for KT, though are perfectly usable in 40k – rather than the other way round. It’s led to some discussion on the Facebook group over whether we’re seeing something akin to Warcry. Intriguing, if we are – I’ve previously thought the future of Kill Team could have been in putting out “legendary teams” much like the Rogue Trader box, rather than continually drafting in different units from regular 40k.

It’s definitely exciting me to see the evolution of the game from my first encounter with the system back in 7th edition. Rather than being 40k lite, or some kind of weird tacked-on small scale game of 40k, we appear to be getting a genuine skirmish game that seems to have a real narrative focus. In the stream, it felt like they were placing a lot of emphasis on the narrative of what a kill team actually is, so I think it could be fascinating to see how they’ll handle this sort of thing, going forward. The last iteration of the game was very much centred on recycling existing content, with the very notable exception of the Rogue Trader box, and so we never really got anything that was actually new and exciting for the game – we just got a rules system to overlay onto 40k models, albeit very nicely marketed. The Death Corps, and (surprisingly, to me) the Ork Kommandos both feel very much like an actual Kill Team, something that I suppose has previously only really been seen in the Deathwatch lore.

Aside from seeing some vaguely whacky measuring rules, I don’t know anything about what we can expect so far, but I think having some genuine kill teams in this core box is setting the stage for what could be something special. If we do get expansion boxes along the Warcry mould, rather than the previous Kill Team method of repackaged 40k stuff, I think we could really be getting something good here.

I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this, anyway!

I think this could well be an interesting time for skirmish games in the 41st millennium!!

House of Blades (part two)

Hey everybody,
Over the past few days, I’ve been managing to juggle looking after my now two-week-old daughter while also deep-diving into the House of Blades for Necromunda, I honestly don’t know how this has been achieved, but I’m just going with it and somehow managing to help keep a tiny person alive (full disclosure: my wife does the lion’s share!) and also throw around ideas for a starting gang. Having now picked up the Escher reinforcements, as well as the Escher plastic weapons set, I feel like I’m now poised on the brink of greatness here!

So this is very much my first effort at creating an Escher gang. Back when I first picked up the boxed game, I built up the Escher side of the box pretty much as the instructions told me, without knowing anything about anything. So I already have ten gangers built, but I don’t really want to play that type of gang, as I feel as though it’s a bit boring. As an aside, I can’t believe how non-descript the Escher sprue is – the weapons are all pretty basic things, there are no special weapons beside the chem thrower and combi needler! I’m so glad that GW has finally brought out an affordable upgrade sprue, because these gangs really need it! I just hope they actually produce such things for the other gangs (wouldn’t it be awesome if the reason why the Enforcers and Corpse Grinder Cult hasn’t had any Forge World upgrades is because they’re going to make them in plastic instead?)

Now that I have Hive War, I’ve got ten more Sisters to build, and I definitely want to make sure that I’m building them the way that I want!

In the above list, there are only three more gangers to build: the needle rifle, the autogun, and the Little Sister with autopistol and stub gun. Only the autogun comes in the base gang set, so let’s give another cheer for the plastic upgrade set!

This gang is the first time that I’m including juves – for the Escher, we’re now calling them Little Sisters – and I have to say, I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier. While the leader is always going to be a touch on the expensive side, having juves does allow you to then include either a couple more special types, or just more bodies in general. As an aside, I’ve gone for the needle rifle on my specialist Sister (ganger), which is only a slight extravagance – I think my very first thought of including a plasma gun in the list meant that one ganger cost 160 credits! Far too extravagant! I have given her flak armour, to at least try to ensure she stays with me, but after talking it over in the Escher facebook group, flak armour (most of the time) is a bit of a waste of credits across the whole gang, because it will work so rarely, but can be the cost of a whole other ganger if you cut it entirely!

I’ve also picked up the reinforcements kit (are we calling them that?) with Death Maidens and Wyld Runners, and the cats. I love the variety that these things give, especially how the earlier kits like that for Escher are basically just more of the same, albeit with much more exotic options. I do feel that stuff like Van Saar and (particularly) Delaque have had some very weird reinforcements, but anyway. I wanted to include one of the Death Maidens because I find them utterly fascinating, and I think it’ll be an interesting sort of game to have an undead Sister running about. The lore on these things is very creepy, and I think it definitely adds depth to the House.

While I’ve mostly been plotting my list and reading up on the lore while giving my wife a break from dealing with Freya, at the weekend I was actually able to grab about an hour’s hobby time during the day, so built up the Death Maiden as well as threw a bit of paint on some gangers! I’m still not 100% sure on the sort of colour scheme that I want to go for – I had been considering a violet and maybe green theme, then I thought maybe about doing something with orange, but now I’m leaning more towards having a grungy sort of look, and only picking out things like the feathers in brighter colours. I mean, this is the Underhive still, and I’m not entirely convinced that the gang would be able to keep their boob armour that pristine yellow on the box art…

I’m also not convinced by that almost-purple skin tone they use for the models, although given the lore of chem-cults and so forth, I suppose it might fit with the notion of some gangers being almost drug-addicts. I’m going to stick with my more “normal” skintones, anyway, and see how far I get.

So there we have it – my starting gang, nine models strong, with some fairly interesting things going on (hopefully!) I still need to think about skills for the champions and leader, but I’m currently dying from a cold (it’s not COVID, honest!) so I don’t really have the wherewithal to make those sorts of decisions yet! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have some more hobby time before I go back to work in two weeks, and maybe I’ll have some completed gangers to show for it!

But let’s try to keep things real here…

June Retrospective

Hey everybody,
It’s already time for another retrospective, and we’re suddenly already halfway through 2021! That soon happened. June has been something of a slow month for my blog, because I had the fairly huge event of my second daughter being born on the 18th of the month! Freya came into the world only a couple of days early, although completely unplanned as she couldn’t wait to join the world, so was delivered on the bathroom floor 😳 She’s been doing great though, and her big sister Phoebe is hopefully going to be a big help to us all, despite being only 21 months old, herself 🤣

I’ve been reading quite a bit, and was able to schedule a couple of book reviews to make sure that my blog didn’t just shut down for a few months as happened with the birth of the Firstborn. Master and Apprentice was a little disappointing, but I’m aware that I seem to be almost routinely bashing the new canon stuff, so I need to try to be better and approach these books a little more positively. Hopefully when I get round to stuff like the Alphabet Squadron series, I’ll enjoy them as much as I did Alexander Freed’s Battlefront novel.

I’ve really been on a bit of a Horus Heresy bender, though, partly because I’ve grown tired of continually making statements here along the lines of “I just want to read five more books in the series this year” and “I just want to make it to x, that’s only 4 books to get through”. I’ve been going back to read some of those anthologies that I skipped over back in the day, thinking I just want to read the actual story, and I’ve also been progressing forwards, getting to book 32, Legacies of Betrayal.


This is a bit of an odd duck, to me, being a collection of lots of short stories that previously saw release as audio books, or as part of the BL Advent Calendar that usually has shorter-than-normal stories. It kicks off with Brotherhood of the Storm, which is a novella prequel to the excellent Scars, and one story that I enjoyed quite a bit, even if at times it felt a bit superfluous. There are some interesting shorts in here that give us a tiny insight into how the war is going, such as Strike and Fade showing a group of Salamanders ambushing some Night Lords on Isstvan V while the dust settles. Veritas Ferrum is a short prequel to Damnation of Pythos, and shows the Iron Hands rescuing the Salamanders before they escape the Isstvan system – the sort of story could (should?) have been included as a prologue to the parent novel, but anyway. There are a couple of World Eaters stories by ADB that were quite good – I particularly enjoyed Heart of the Conqueror, which showed the internal conflict experienced by the ship’s Navigator – aware of the fact the Legion has turned against the Emperor, who she sees as a kind of saviour/patron figure, she kills herself and thus pulls the flagship out of the Warp. The stand-outs though, were Censure, which showed us the Ultramarines vs Word Bearers on the irradiated world of Calth (I had no idea that Kurtha Sedd was a character before the box set!) and Kryptos, which featured the Raven Guard/Iron Hands stealth assassin team from Angel Exterminatus. These stories were of a more traditional length, and were able to give a more proper development to the actual storyline they had.

So it was a curious book, overall, having a lot of short, forgettable, dare I say pointless little side stories, but at least I’m ploughing through – only another 23 books to go! 😳

There was some very exciting news about Arkham Horror LCG at the start of the month, with the change to how they’re going to publish cycles from now on, and last week we had the news that there’ll be a revised core set doing the rounds, which will feature a complete playset of the player cards, as well as some of those cards from later expansions to give new folks a better experience right out of the box. Otherwise, it’s still the same 5 investigators (albeit with new art) and they’re going up against the Night of the Zealot as before. I find it interesting that they’re choosing to do this, full playset of cards etc, as it seems to be indicating the shift of the LCG model away from what it has been, and instead making it more like the board game that it pretty much was anyway. I think it’s really exciting, especially if they can pepper the year with stand-alone scenarios to keep the attention on the game, rather than just relying on one, potentially two release events in a year.

Of course, there’s a part of me thinking perhaps this could be signalling the end of the game, as Call of Cthulhu went to a similarly concentrated release schedule of deluxe boxes only before it folded. But even if that were to happen, I think I’m pretty confident that this game has got enough content and playability in the existing cycles that I’ll be playing it for years to come!


Speaking of playing with old stuff, I suppose Lord of the Rings can now be counted as an older game that has finished! I’ve recently had some time to have a few games with this old favourite, playing the first three scenarios in the Angmar Awakened cycle. I was initially planning this for Christmastime, of course, but better late than never, I suppose!! I’ll post something next month going over these, anyway!

June has been pretty much all about rediscovering Magic the Gathering, after I’d found some cards in the attic that I have no real memory of buying! I’ve written a couple of posts where I’ve caught up with the recent sets, here and here, though I’m still trying to be a little circumspect with it, not flying off the deep end with buying cards left and right! I’ve got a couple of deck ideas that I want to share, too, so stay tuned for more on that front!!

However, the biggest game news from June came from Necromunda, when I was finally able to play a real game with James, my Delaque vs his Orlocks. That was a lot of fun – I knew I’d enjoy it, having previously solo played the game at the back end of 2020, but it was a whole load of fun with another person, and we’re planning to get more games and hopefully a campaign in once Freya is settled and the kids are sleeping through the night!


As a consequence, I’ve picked up the new Hive War box set! I knew I wanted more Delaque models anyway, and after playing with the zone mortalis stuff, I think it was clear that the Dark Uprising stuff, while excellent, wasn’t going to be enough for a 3×2 board. The cost of more Delaque and more terrain would be around the £58 mark at my local store, where I could also pick up Hive War for £71, netting me more Escher for just £13, as well as the new book and stuff. So that was pretty much a no-brainer, I thought!

The set is actually quite nice as a starting set, coming with enough terrain to play some games, but I’m pretty sure that even GW themselves tell you it’s only intended as a starting point, and you will get more out of it with more terrain. Which is fine, after all! The rule book, specific to this box, has got the basic rules in it, as well as some “starter” gang rules for all six House gangs, allowing you to build a gang using the box only and these rules. It feels pared-back, but this is the point of this box, remember!

When the Hive War box came out, we also had plastic weapon upgrades for Escher and Goliath (the original two gangs, remember), which seem to be a blend of weapons from the Forge World weapons kits for both gangs. I’m really hoping that, when House of Shadows comes out soon, we’ll also have plastic upgrades for Delaque, so I’m holding off from building too many more gangers for the time being! As I mentioned at the start of the week, though, I’ve started to poke my nose into House Escher, so I could well be making a move there in the coming weeks!

I feel like Necromunda is in a very exciting place right now, as we’re poised on that brink of “what’s next?” once the Delaque get their book.

That pretty much sums things up for now, anyway! I’m hoping that I can do a proper catch-up of the hobby goals sometime in early July – I had planned a mid-point check in for this blog, but I think I’m running a bit long here already. But stay tuned for that!

House of Blades

Hey everybody,
I’ve been reading the House of Blades, the codex-like book for House Escher in Necromunda, while on duty with the second born this last week or so, and I’m really quite impressed so thought I’d come here for a bit of a ramble about it all! I’ve not really had a chance to look at the proper nitty-gritty of the rules, so this blog is very much broad strokes, and first impressions. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to come back soon with more of the actual rules and my thoughts on them, though!

The House of books for Necromunda are really great. They started last year with the Goliath book, House of Chains, which was followed by the Escher tome soon after. I think the idea is to give updates to the gangs, now that all six House gangs have been released, and in a way follow the old Gang War books that came out back when the gangs were first coming out. Along with the books, GW also released a box of new recruits for the gang, and a new pack of tactics cards and new dice.

The books all have stuff in common, insofar as they all have new rules along the same lines, and some very gang-specific stuff that makes them feel very individual. There is now such an incredible depth of rules and gameplay here, it’s incredibly exciting. Especially for me, now that I’m finally playing the game!

The amount of lore in the books is also amazing. A full fifth of the book is devoted entirely to the lore of the gang, with much more sprinkled throughout as we get the new rules, it’s just great.

We also have an enhanced gang roster thanks to the new models that have come out. Somewhat confusingly, the fighter types have got individual names now, so we don’t just have ‘leader’, ‘champion’, ‘ganger’ and ‘juve’, but a variety of names that are different for each gang, helping to make them more individualistic but slightly confusing all the same! I do like the fact that each fighter type is arrayed across two pages, and each has its own equipment list, so it does make things a bit more obvious. The hangers-on and brutes are pretty much copy-pasted across each book, although there are the House specific exotic beasts etc.

The Regular Stuff
So all the new House of books have some stuff in common, which I’ll go through here. To start with, there are the Alliances. Each House can attempt to enter into an alliance with a group from one of three strands of Necromundan society: Guilds, Recidivists, or Noble Houses. You can only have one alliance at a time. Each faction comes with a list of benefits and drawbacks; you might get access to new and exotic weapons, or special abilities, but you will have to give up some (or all!) of your share of the creds at the end of a game. You can try to get around those drawbacks, but you’ll need to test your alliance with the faction, which runs the risk of them withdrawing support. Each book gives you a selection with which that House is said to have a “strong alliance”, meaning that the first time you’re asked to test that alliance, you don’t need to actually do so. But you’re free to make an alliance from any of the House of books, in practice.

For the Escher, the alliances are with the Water Guild, the Cold Traders, and House Ulanti. Each of these factions has the possibility of giving you free fighters, as well, usually between 2-4. So it can definitely be worth your while getting into this aspect of things – especially when Forge World are busy creating the models to go along with these allies! The Water Guild minis are up for pre-order as I type this, though at £42 for three miniatures, it does feel a bit too expensive. I mean, the regular gang boxes, and the new recruits boxes, are £26 (or less).

At any rate, Alliances are a very nice aspect to the game, and I like the fact that they’re giving us expansions by the back door, almost.

Faction terrain involves traps of varying sorts, and chemical drums, etc. Nothing too fancy, but I suppose this is more about customising an oil drum, or whatever, rather than trying to replicate something like the Corpse Grinders’ protein reclamator. Escher get a new skill, Finesse, which can be quite useful. There are also two Escher-specific scenarios included, although you don’t 100% need to play them using an Escher gang. The bulk of the rest of the book, however, is taken up with the weapon profiles and traits.

The Fancy Stuff
House Escher are known for their association with the chem industry on Necromunda, and they have a rules section that goes into detail on how you can create a variety of toxins and stimms. For all that people complain GW is getting too kid-friendly, this section tells us how fun it can be to mix and match the various effects of these combat drugs, and encourages us to name our potions accordingly!

These drugs can be used to enhance gangers or create poison rounds for weapons, and you can potentially get some for free by rolling well on the House Favours table. That’s a nice touch, by the way, giving gangs different effects that, to some extent, scale with the gang’s reputation.

Of course, the book came out with the new kit of Death Maidens and Wyld Runners, which looks quite wonderful and I do want to get my hands on it. Hopefully soon! The book puts a corresponding weight behind these two new aspects of the gang, going into a lot of the lore around both fighter types. Death Maidens have got to be the creepiest by far, reanimated corpses going about their business until death finally claims them anew. They’re a really cool and interesting aspect of the gang, and I think when they first came out, it was a surprise to me that GW were going in that direction. Wyld Runners do make sense within the context of the House, but having now read through the book properly, it is a very cool addition, and helps to make the gang a bit more unique.

I’m loving Necromunda right now, and while it’s true that I was intending to work on my Van Saar as soon as I had the chance, I’m now thinking instead that I might have a go with the ladies of House Escher, having had these miniatures built up since the original box set came out in 2017…

New Army update four

Hey everybody,
Today is the day of the long-awaited fourth new army update! While this has pretty much been covered in both my April and May retrospective blogs, I thought I’d keep the tradition going and provide a proper update for the force, mainly so that I can share some fancy pictures!

Since the last update, I’ve painted up the three Endless Spells for the Ossiarch Bonereapers, as well as some more hero models. Vokmortian and the Mortisan Soulreaper are both wizards, something my army was otherwise lacking (considering I’d painted up the spells with only the Mortisan Boneshaper to cast them all).

I really enjoy the Vokmortian mini. He was the original Bonereapers character, of course, coming out in Feast of Bones back in the day, and under the current rules, he has that spell that can outright kill a model. His miniature design is also pretty bonkers, a skeleton clerk holding out a contract and wearing a tombstone strapped to his back. I mean, what’s not to love?! I can probably make him look a lot better, particularly in terms of his staff, but I think I principally wanted to concentrate on getting the model finished.

That’s been a theme across pretty much the whole army, though, I suppose – having a colour scheme that is quick to replicate across all the models, to get them tabletop ready, and then I can come back in as time allows to properly finish off odd details when necessary.

The Mortisan Soulreaper was an interesting model to paint, because of the ghostly stuff going on around that massive scythe he’s got. Again, there’s really nothing new on this model that I haven’t painted before, the ghostly bits being similar to the hafts of the Immortis Guard weapons. I’m quite pleased about the way I’ve been able to get the screaming ghost blending in with the scythe blade.

The main boy in this procession of heroes is Arch-Kavalos Zandtos, who is a named character for the Mortis Praetorians that I’ve painted in the colour scheme of the Petrifex Elite. But I suppose my use for him is as a Liege-Kavalos. I built this model up in its entirety to start with, which didn’t feel like it would be a problem until it came to painting and discovered that it was more difficult than I’d anticipated! The shield is connected to the arm and harness, meaning it can’t really be left off to paint, so led to some issues, but I think I managed to pull it back and get him looking reasonably fancy! I decided to paint the weapon as metallic rather than the usual scheme I’ve been using for the nadirite weaponry, but on reflection I’m thinking I might change it – it’s called the Dark Lance, after all!

I’m trying not to get too much into the rules now that AOS 3 is on the horizon, but Zandtos has some very nice abilities, allowing for re-rolls of wound rolls and the like, plus dishing our mortal wounds to nearby enemies when he finishes a charge, as well as a command ability that adds 1 to the attacks of a unit within 12”. The Liege-Kavalos has these last two abilities as well, and clocks in at 20 points cheaper. What’s 20 points, I hear you cry? Well, it’s the difference between a stock named character and a generic character that you can give additional relics and command abilities to, allowing you to tailor your approach. 20 points is also the cost of the Soulstealer Carrion, the massive bird endless spell.

So this is where I’m up to, anyway! 1380 points (if I’m taking the mounted hero as Arch-Kavalos Zandtos), and I’m very pleased with my efforts to date!

I still have a few models to get moving on, specifically those Kavalos Deathriders, as I’d like to get a mounted contingent started for the army, and give Zandtos some friends! The catapult is an absolutely stunning model, as I’ve said previously, but I’m still a bit wary of it for the time being! One of my principal concerns is that I don’t actually have a proper storage solution for the army sorted yet – so they’re all pretty much stood up in a storage box, which is already full!

Longer term, I’m going to get myself another 20 Mortek Guard, and bulk out both of the squads that I’ve already got going on. Of course, with everything about to be going on in my life, I’m not in any rush, so can probably afford to wait and see if we do get a Start Collecting box when the new battletome comes out!

It’s probably incumbent upon me to mention the faction focus that came out the other day, looking at how Ossiarch Bonereapers are going to play in the new edition. I have to admit, I didn’t really take anything away from it as I’ve not been following the news with gusto, so aside from the fact Nagash is a powerhouse of Arcane Bolts now, the biggest thing for me was the fact that the Gothizzar Harvester counts as more than one model for holding objectives, because it’s a monster. Excellent!

The facebook group seemed to be going crazy about how the Bonereapers are now nerfed into the ground, though, because of the way command abilities work. The army still collects Relentless Discipline points, which are used for using command abilities as normal. I hear things about not being able to use more than one command ability per phase though, but I don’t know if (a) RD points work around that, as we don’t appear to have seen the whole rule yet, or (b) if I’d even find myself trying to use multiple command abilities per phase? It has been on my mind to properly sit down and work out the kind of battle plan I’d like to affect, but now that the game is in flux I don’t really see the need anymore!

Things do seem a little bit up in the air at the moment, but hopefully when the time comes for me to look again at this army, we’ll have a new book and know more about any potential new units coming out – Mortek Archers, I want you!

A little night Magic… (part two)

Hey everybody,
Following on from my last Magic catch-up earlier in the week, it’s time to finish up my look at what I’ve missed from the last couple of years. I left things at Jumpstart, which was released last summer – which was followed by Double Masters, which looks like a phenomenal set for reprints, seeing a lot of expensive cards being reprinted almost like the intent was to simply increase supply. Classic Commanders like Kaalia, Sen Triplets and Riku, as well as more recent stuff like Atraxa and Breya. Jace the Mind Sculptor also reappears, alongside the Swords, and the Filter Lands from Shadowmoor/Eventide.

This was followed by Zendikar Rising, a Return to Return to Zendikar set. This is a set of adventure and exploration, apparently, and returns specifically to the feel of the original Zendikar block, without the Eldrazi. As far as story goes though, we’re in the post-BFZ era, where the plane has been ravaged by the titans. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s get into it!

Zendikar Rising is the first set to see Set Boosters, which are different to Draft Boosters in that they’re not designed, well, for Draft. Instead, you get a different distribution of card rarity, and we have the introduction of something called The List, 300 cards from the game’s past which are not Standard legal, but offer a chance to get reprints (though at random).

In terms of set mechanics, there is a new Party theme which grants boons based on the creature types you have in play. Modal Double-Face Cards are a new type of double faced card that players can decide which face to cast (they don’t transform). These cards eventually proved to be the theme among the sets of the Magic “year” (it seems they’re not calling them Blocks anymore).

I adore Zendikar, the art is some of the best in the game, and I went through a phase of buying as much of the lands from that block that I could, which I’m quite pleased about. I’m also a fan of the Party idea, as I like the idea of assembling a proper type of Fellowship for my games. I think this is definitely a set that I need to look into soon!

Commander Legends is a draftable Commander set, which I just don’t understand how that’s supposed to work. There are 165 new cards, and almost 200 reprints. Drafting a Commander deck just seems odd – you’re drafting a 60 card deck, picking two cards at a time. You still have the colour identity stuff, though it is no longer a single-card deck. Weird. I don’t quite get it – though it is always handy to have Commander cards in circulation.

Commander meets Draft. Weird.

The next set is Kaldheim, which brings us to February of 2021. We’re getting there, folks! Kaldheim is Magic’s take on Vikings, and it kinda works. Much like Theros and Amonkhet, we get some fairly decent God cards which is always nice. Kaya is front and centre of the packaging, which is perhaps a reflection on WotC’s attempts to compensate following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 (remember, they decided cards like Cleanse and Crusade were “culturally offensive” because they destroy black creatures and pump white creatures, respectively). Kaya is a fairly badass character in her own right though, and being a big fan of Black and White as a colour combination, I’ve appreciated her as the BW planeswalker since she first arrived in Conspiracy 2. Her role in the cinematic trailer makes it clear, in case there was any doubt, that she is amazing, anyway.

I’m getting too political here, let’s rein it in!

Kaldheim is somewhat tribal themed, with Giants and Dwarves, Angels (Valkyries) and Elves showing up. There is a huge development on Snow as a theme, moving on from 2006’s Coldsnap to have Snow on instants and sorceries as well as creatures (and of course, lands). I’m a big sucker for this, anyway – snow and fantasy games always reminds me of Runebound, one of my all-time favourite board games!

In addition to more modal double-face cards, and the second return of Sagas (again, something I like!) we have two new mechanics: Boast and Foretell. Foretell is a bit like Morph, which allows you to exile a card for 2 generic mana, and later play it for its Foretell cost. Boast is an ability that can only be used if the creature with said ability attacked that turn. All very interesting stuff, for sure.

I’ve really been sucked into the whole Kaldheim thing, and have actually been buying cards again – specifically for this set. I’ve been buying boosters and stuff, including Set boosters as well as Draft boosters, and have begun the process of creating a BW Angels deck. There’s a lot more to be said on this topic, so stay tuned for a blog coming on this, soon!

Something very strange has been happening with Magic though. They’ve announced that there will be sets released with themes from outside of Magic as we know it – called Universes Beyond – and they’ve released in paper Time Spiral Remastered, a single set that distills the essence of the original Time Spiral. Why? Who knows. Weird.

The first Universes Beyond set is coming sometime next month, and is set in the Forgotten Realms. I’m actually quite excited to see Drizzt on a Magic card…

The most recent set to release is Strixhaven: School of Mages, which came out in April and seems to be Magic’s take on Harry Potter. Well, not exactly, though it is described as “the magic school genre” – so that’s clearly a thing! The set is an enemy-coloured theme, spells matter theme delight – I think I’ve read somewhere that it’s the first set specifically devoted to enemy colour pairs since Apocalypse in 2001. Anyway, Strixhaven is a magical school that attracts only the best and the brightest. Among these are Will and Rowan Kenrith once more, who are really establishing themselves now in the lore of the multiverse.

Modal double-face cards are once again here, tying all of the sets of the “year” together, and we have a focus on instants and spells. Magecraft is a new ability word that triggers when casting instant and sorcery spells, and there is a new keyword that ties into the theme of the set, Learn. The keyword lets you either discard a card and draw a card, or to reveal a Lesson card from outside the game and add it to your hand. Lessons are a subtype of instants and sorceries that allow you to focus on a specific type of gameplay, their biggest thing being that you can “fetch” them with Learn cards. Seems a little one-shot-wonder to be of any real impact, but who knows? Maybe we’ll get more to support this type of thing in years to come.

Confession time: I’ve also been buying some Strixhaven cards. I’m a sucker for BW right now, and have been plotting another deck around the Silverquill college. There are five colleges in Strixhaven, each named after the Elder Dragon that founded it. Nothing to do with Harry Potter, whatsoever. Anyway – stay tuned for more on this deck, once I’ve figured out just what I’m trying to do with it!

Strixhaven brings us to the end of this two-part run-through the recent years of Magic sets! After the D&D set (in a similar move, Strixhaven is an upcoming sourcebook for the RPG, I believe), we’re going back to Innistrad once more, though I don’t know anything about that other than the set names appear to have been announced. I think I’ve got my work cut out for me in getting to grips with Valkyries and Ink-mages though, so I’m gonna leave it there for now!

Hopefully the challenges that parenthood has in store won’t interfere too much with me getting some more blogs written in the near future, so do check in soon when I hope to waffle on about my new favourite colour pairing of white and black in the most recent MTG sets!

The Damnation of Pythos

Hey everybody,
Today I’m continuing to catch up with the books that I’ve been wading through of late, and will be taking a look at The Damnation of Pythos, the 30th book in the Horus Heresy series! 30 books in already – man, it doesn’t seem at all like these things are dragging on…

Be warned – here be spoilers!

The book features what I think is our first showcase of the Iron Hands Legion since the series began – for sure, they’ve been in it since the start, but never as the stars of the show. The sons of Ferrus Manus were one of those Legions that were utterly decimated at Isstvan V, along with the Salamanders and the Raven Guard, and the survivors here are ragged group of all three. Led by Captain Atticus of the 111th Clan Company, the group is drawn to the death world of Pythos in the Pandorax system. There, their astropath Rhydia Erephren discovers a block of psychically-attuned black rock referred to as “the anomaly”, and cannot explain its presence. The space marines are set upon by the weirdly carnivorous beasts of the world, and begin to make a formal settlement on the world while they properly regroup.

After a battle with the Emperor’s Children, where the Iron Hands are able to extract some measure of retribution against the III Legion for their primarch’s murder of Ferrus, the Iron Hands return to Pythos to wait out a Warp storm, during which they are greeted by thousands upon thousands of junker-style ships that appear to be coming to Pythos to settle. The world continues to extract a toll on the civilians, who seem weirdly unfazed by the attacks by the massive native saurians. Meanwhile, the Legion serfs on the planet are being afflicted by nocturnal terrors, with many killing themselves in the grip of madness.

While the colonists are building their settlement, a fissure opens in the ground, revealing a submerged structure that the Iron Hands explore, only to discover it full of carnivorous maggots the size of a man. Things come to a head when Captain Atticus orders a lance hit directly on the ruins site from his flagship Veritas Ferrum, only for it to somehow be deflected back at the ship, destroying the Legionaries’ only way off-planet.

The colonists are soon revealed to be expatriates from Davin, and working to bring about the presence of the daemon Madail into realspace. The daemon’s presence then allows for a cavalcade of lesser daemons to pour forth from the Warp gates within the ruined structures under the surface, and Erephren is barely able to send a warning to Terra before the Iron Hands are completely overcome.

In the epilogue, the message is received by the astropaths of Terra, but the clerks there are unbelieving of such “mythology” and consign it to the piles of thousands of other unread messages.

It took me a long while to get into this book. Whether that was because of real life intruding on things, or something else, who knows. I did find David Annandale’s style a little too off-putting though, as well – the way that a short burst of action would be accompanied by, sometimes, a page and a half of introspection and tangents. But after I was about halfway through, I think I managed to get into it and stuff.

There is a very real sense of dread that is slowly unravelled as the book moves on, as well. After the initial furore of the native fauna of Pythos is seen, we get several nights of utter dread when something is clearly not right – it’s a wonderful way of building up the atmosphere, especially as these moments are seen through the eyes of the Legion serfs, the general humans who help the Legion. While the world also has an effect on the space marines, being transhuman they are somewhat able to shrug it off – especially when we’re talking about Iron Hands, whose motto is “the flesh is weak” and seek to replace their body parts with cybernetica.

I don’t think I’ve felt the need to put a spoiler warning on a Horus Heresy novel for quite some time, as the books all feel fairly dull as regards massive surprises go. However, the revelation that the colonists come from Davin was quite staggering, especially because of the simplicity with which it was announced. It’s a shock to us, the reader, because we know what happens in False Gods, but it’s almost irrelevant to the Iron Hands serf who learns it with us. I really liked that call-back, and I’m intrigued by the idea that we might not be done with the planet of Horus’ downfall yet.

As I alluded to earlier, though, the narrative of the Horus Heresy does seem to be getting really diluted at this point. I really enjoyed Vengeful Spirit, because it was a bit like a return to the principal narrative that had been left off sometime around book 5, but once again here we’re having a story that, while fairly decent in the end, didn’t honestly feel like a Horus Heresy novel for the most part. The little skirmish with the Emperor’s Children was the closest we got, and that only took up about 50 pages.

It’s a really intriguing book though, and I really liked the way that the tension is built up throughout, with the focus on the dread of what is out there. I don’t think I’ve read about many death worlds in 40k before now, so it was also pretty good to see just how bad some of these things can be! The finale was a bit ridiculous and over-the-top, to the point where I did struggle to picture what was going on for the most part, but this isn’t Shakespeare, I guess, so we’re just along for the ride!