Genestealer Cults in the Black Library!

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a long few weeks as I’ve been reading some Genestealer Cults stories – or re-reading, that should be, as I have actually read both of these before, I’ve just never talked about them on the blog! As I’m still on the Cult kick at the minute (although painting has stopped due to lack of brushes!) I thought it was appropriate to get in the mood, and all that!

Cult of the Warmason is first on the list, and shows a Cult uprising on the shrineworld of Lubentina while the besieged Sisters of Battle attempt to put them down. There is a lot of story here, as we see the battle sisters defend the Warmason’s cathedral against the cultists. The Warmason of the title, Vadok Singh, was the man who helped design the defences around the Imperial Palace on Terra during the Heresy. The Ministorum clerical staff refuse to call for aid until it is too late, and when they think that the Adeptus Astartes have arrived to answer their call, instead it is revealed that the Iron Warriors have arrived to reclaim one of the relics in the cathedral. The cathedral becomes a nexus of the fighting, as the Astra Militarum, the Sisters, the Cult and then the Iron Warriors all converge upon it. The Cultists get the relic first, and so the Iron Warriors follow them into the catacombs below the surface, followed closely by the Sister Superior while all goes to hell up above. The Iron Warriors confront the Patriarch of the Cult, and eventually recover the relic, which turns out to be one of Perturabo’s flawed creations. In keeping with their primarch’s wishes, the launch the device into the sun, and leave the planet. While the world burns, the Sister Superior escapes Lubentina with the genestealer infection…

Like I said, there is a lot of story here, and it almost needs more space to be told at times, as the narrative feels a bit like it jumps around a bit too much. I love the inertia of the ruling Ecclesiarchy and Ministorum council, and there is something wonderfully gothic and very 40k about the flashpoint being centred around a monumental cathedral. However, the story did feel a little bit like it shouldn’t have been constrained by a page count, which is something a lot of Black Library books almost have in common. Perhaps if the Iron Warriors storyline hadn’t been included, things would have had the room to breathe a bit more? I believe that plot links in to the Space Marines Battles novel Siege of Castellax, also by CL Werner, which is on my list to investigate at some point, so maybe I’ll think differently when I’ve read the background there!

However, I also think the novel suffers a little from comparisons with the next book that I read…

Cult of the Spiral Dawn is the rebranded novel from Peter Fehervari originally published as part of the Legends of the Dark Millennium series, back (I think) when the original Genestealer Cults codex came out at the end of 7th Edition. There are a lot of similar ideas to the Warmason book; Sisters of Battle and Astra Militarum fighting the Genestealer Cults uprising on a remote world, but there the similarities end. Spiral Dawn is somehow a lot more complex, and yet also a more compelling read. It starts with the genestealers besieging the abbey stronghold of the Sisters of the Thorn Eternal on the planet Redemption 219, then fast-forwards a century to the arrival on world of a group of pilgrims seeking the light of the Emperor through the Cult of the Spiral Dawn, an officially-sanctioned sect of the Imperial creed. However, when the pilgrims land, a hundred are pressganged into the Vassago Black Flags regiment of the Astra Militarum, who are on some obscure guard duty, though nobody has explained to them what they’re guarding. The tension mounts from the Imperial side, while we get some glimpses into the activities of the Cult and their kindred followers, until it all boils over with the emergence of the Primus war-leader. The colonel of the Black Flags is almost seduced by the Magus, but in so-doing he learns of the existence and location of the Spiral Father, and launches an assault with his ogryn bodyguard while the on-world Inquisition presence also launches its assault. Despite the carnage of the assault, three of the purestrains manage to escape Redemption for deep space…

Also included in here is Cast a Hungry Shadow, a short story that takes place within the narrative of the novel, dealing with the early years of the genestealer infestation and filling in some blanks around the betrayal of the Sisters. There are some interesting threads in the story, which felt a little confused towards the end, but ultimately it is the tale of the cult securing their hold on Redemption, the discovery of an untrained psyker hiding beneath one of the spires who is taken in by the genestealers to birth their Magus. There are some interesting scenes in the story, particularly involving another cult, called the Scorched Creed, which may or may not be a Chaos Cult dedicated to Khorne.  

I do think that Cult of the Spiral Dawn is one of my favourite 40k novels. I hadn’t really realised that I’d read it before – I mean, I knew that I’d read the Legends hardcover, but I didn’t remember which one that book was. It’s a really good story – some of it could perhaps do with a bit more meat for the bones, and help to further the atmosphere, but it’s still a really good story. It’s also my first exposure to Peter Fehervari’s Dark Coil … series? I’m not sure if you could call it that, but all of the 40k stories that he has written are linked in subtle ways, either with shared characters or worlds, etc. It’s an incredibly interesting way to write in a shared universe and carve out a niche without limiting yourself to staying in a random corner. The links in this book to the Fire and Ice novella, for example, give the sense of history without feeling forced, if that makes sense. It’s really good, anyway – I like it a lot! And will no doubt be investigating more of these stories in the not-too-distant future!

Hellboy Musings

It’s been more than two years since I took delivery of that big box full of evil goodness, and in that time, I’ve managed to play it a grand total of just four times. Four times! It’s shocking, even though I have moved house and had two children in that time! I honestly don’t know why I’ve not wanted to get it to the table, either, as it is a really nice dungeon crawler. It reminds me of Descent in many ways, but with a much more unique theme than the fairly generic (by comparison) fantasy realm of Terrinoth.

The box is huge though, being a Kickstarter game and all, full of miniatures that basically make up two fairly substantial expansions, plus a few smaller ones, as well as the main base game. It can be quite off-putting, and it has got me thinking about either splitting the box up, so that it’s much more clear what I’m looking for, or else making a list (who doesn’t love a list?) of everything and where it belongs. It never ceases to amaze me, when I look at this game, just what precisely is the actual base game.

I’ve played the tutorial three times now, as well as one of the “proper” case files once. The tutorial game is a bit drab by comparison to the main game, as I think a lot of other commentators have said. When I played the game last week, I did veer away from the tutorial and found it to be a bit better. You’re still going up against an incessant number of frogs though, which does get a bit boring… I think if you had the retail core set and played this tutorial, without any of the additional bits and bobs, I could well imagine a lot of people might feel this is hardly a game worth keeping.

Once you get past the tutorial game, of course, things can be pretty exciting. There is some level of customisation available through the Requisition cards, something that is almost tucked into the back of the rule book, but which does give a bit more to the game. In a two-player game, you get 8 points to spread around among the agents, from extra equipment to backup agents. The main thing, though, is getting to play with more of those wonderful minis that are weighing the box down so much!

Rasputin is of course a classic Hellboy villain, especially after his appearance in the film, and it was great to play against him in my one and only game outside of the tutorial game. But looking through the Kickstarter bits and pieces, and trying to get a sense of what it all is in there, and I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of the Unexpected Threats. This mechanic allows you to include up to three random enemies in the deck of doom – so you have the chance to come up against Ilsa Haupstein or Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, which again is rather magnificent to see! The scenarios are mainly geared towards that final Big Boss confrontation, while the comics do have a lot of small threats because so many of them are short stories.

The Kickstarter box comes full of stuff that supports the BPRD Archives expansion, a way to allow for near-infinite replayability to the game. The main Archives expansion comes with a series of generic case file cards, split into seven types, which are put together to create a custom scenario to play. So it’s a bit like a guided custom thing, if that makes sense. There are cards which determine the setup, the minions, and so on, providing random twists as we go much like the main case files. I think it’s really cool to see the expansions building on this, though, and giving yet more cards to feed into this custom generator. I’ve not really dabbled much at all with the expansion yet, mainly just looking through it all to see what’s in there. But there is something of the random nature of the Hellboy comics that comes through here, with the support to allow for games against random witches and swarms of bats.

With the additional amount of Kickstarter content, though, the possible case files become kinda ridiculous in their scope, and it really feels like an endless array of stuff that you’ve got to enjoy. I think this is an expansion that I can see being one of the go-to sets in the future, where I just fancy a bit of a random game involving all manner of weird stuff. I mean, while it seems meant to be completely random, there’s nothing to stop you from pre-selecting a couple from each deck, and then making the final selection random, to help give a bit more theme. Or perhaps pre-selecting the final confrontation, and the journey there will be a bit more random? The scope is fairly huge, really!

I’ve not made a tremendous amount of in-roads with the Box Full of Evil, either, but that thing is also choc-full of miniatures! It contains two expansions, plus additional bits and pieces from the original Kickstarter, such as the Oni and the Floating Heads. The sheer amount of options for this game is staggering, to say the least, and it’s going to take a long time to work through things! I suppose that’s part of the issue, of course, because the game has almost been designed for built-in replayability, with a myriad of monsters and such that make no two games exactly the same. It does this almost at the expense of any kind of campaign system, but then the comics don’t really tell a linear story.

But then, as I’ve said before, I kinda like the fact that this is a game that you can set up and play, without worrying about any bookkeeping. It’s nice to have the RPG feel of a campaign brought into some games, for sure – but some games are just nice to pick up and play, you know? And Hellboy is definitely one such game, designed for straightforward fun with next to no fuss. The co-op aspect is fantastic too, and the fact you can decide on the order of each agent’s actions, rather than each agent taking their whole turn at once, is a fantastic way to keep the whole group involved. I’ve read a few reviews where people recommend three agents at a minimum, and I can definitely see me trying this at my next game; two seems much more all-or-nothing, somehow. Certainly, in my last game we had our asses handed to us by the Giant Frog Monster!

That’s for sure part of the appeal of this game, however. It feels like it’s straight out of the comics, where Hellboy is routinely thrown into a brick wall by a wayward tentacle (gonna be sore in the mornin’!) but nobody is an absolute pushover if the team works together. It’s definitely one that I want to play more often, so hopefully I’ll be talking again about the game before we see the end of 2021!

Arkham Horror: Third Edition

Hey everybody,
Today’s game day blog has been a long time coming, let me tell you! Today, I’m finally getting round to talking about the third edition of Arkham Horror! I first played this game in January, and have been meaning to do a first impressions blog pretty much ever since! Having recently returned to board games to some extent, though, I thought now would be a good time to feature this game here. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

The third edition of Arkham Horror came out in 2018, so I’m already late to the party. It’s had a pretty huge makeover since the second edition, as well, no longer having the traditional board that represents the city of Arkham, but rather a series of tiles that are interconnected to form the map for each scenario. This is now most definitely a scenario-driven game, as opposed to the classic “just try to survive” of the earlier version, which I suppose could be boiled down to the same game each time you play it, just with various tweaks and so forth.

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

Third edition is built to give you a new experience each time, through the use of scenarios tied to the Great Old Ones, rather than simply going up against them that we’re used to. The game was redesigned by Nikki Valens, who was also heavily involved (if not responsible for) the ongoing development of Eldritch Horror after the core set, and so there are a number of classic Arkham Files beats coming through loud and clear.

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

Each scenario has got its own win condition, and you don’t always know what you need to do to win. This was a little bit disconcerting to me at first, because I had a bit of AP as I tried to decide what to do with my actions. But then I just embraced it all and it’s actually an incredibly effective and thematic way to go about this type of game! The game uses this idea of the “codex”, a collection of cards placed next to the scenario sheet, which represents the changing objectives throughout the game. So you’re not simply trying to gather clues to throw at the monster, or whatever, and there are both success and failure paths to follow as the story unfolds. It takes some getting used to, but it’s actually really nice and very flavourful when you get into it.

The game is played across 4 Phases. To start with, there’s the action phase, where the investigators get to do their thing. The monster phase comes next, with monsters moving and attacking the investigators. The AI for monsters is somehow slicker than 2nd edition, which was itself quite nicely done. Here, they either move to a specific investigator, or to a specific location, or they just cause chaos by adding doom. Monsters are represented with cards in this edition though, which is a little more tricky to manage on the board than the tokens of 2nd edition or other Arkham games.

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

The encounter phase is next, and this is similar to other iterations where you draw a card and have a short adventure, usually involving a skill test of some sort. Some encounters have been seeded into the deck by the scenario, and will allow you to further the investigation with clues. The last phase is the mythos phase, where players draw a token from the mythos cup, and resolve its effect. These can spawn clues to spawn monsters, resolve the reckoning effects of cards in play, or resolving a headline – a new type of card that kind of acts a little like mythos cards of old. The tokens are interesting because there are also blank ones, which add an element of surprise, but you also don’t throw them back into the bag after drawing them until all have been drawn, so you can get an idea for how good or bad a mythos phase is going to be, based on what has already come out.

At its core, third edition is very much a blend of second edition and Eldritch Horror, with some new or streamlined elements that make it feel very much like a new game. While I’ve been happy to play and replay second edition many times, I think third edition has an increased replayability simply from the scenario aspect. The Codex is a very interesting idea as well, as it contains a bunch of numbered cards that are added in as determined by how the game is going, but are used in varying ways across the scenarios, allowing for some interesting gameplay as time goes on.

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

Gates don’t really exist in this edition – instead we have Anomalies, which don’t appear in every scenario, but are functionally the same as Gates of old. You can enter an Anomaly and have an encounter, which might help to seal it, or you can attempt to Ward Doom to prevent one opening in the first place. An interesting addition is the Remnant token, which some monsters leave behind when you defeat them, or from removing multiple Doom tokens with a Ward Doom action. They can later be spent for profit or to help with casting spells, which I find super thematic!

Third edition is a very different, very interesting game that I think definitely needs a lot more exploration to see what it has to offer. I find it a very interesting amalgamation, between Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror second edition. There are also elements from the card game present, in terms of how the game is strongly tied towards the scenario, and being a big fan of that game it is very nice to see.

I do like second edition, and the opportunity that it has for telling your own stories. I do love Eldritch Horror, and the global scale of adventure and exploration that it gives us. I also love the card game, as has been well-chronicled here on this blog over the last twelve months! This third edition doesn’t have anything that I could say really detracts from it, in my view. It’s a solid addition to the game line, pulling elements from across several other games to make something very thematic from the previous version.

So far, we’ve had two small box expansions, and one big-box, coming at a rate of one per year. So we’re seeing a fairly steady stream, but nothing that seems to be difficult to keep up with. In a new move for me, I’ve not bought into any of these yet, although I have been eyeing up the most recent one, Secrets of the Order, as I love anything to do with the Order of the Silver Twilight! It will be interesting to see how these expansions integrate into the base game, in the fullness of time of course! For now, I definitely need to try and play the core set some more, even if I just play each of the four scenarios once! 

September Retrospective

Hey everybody,
Well, we are three-quarters of the way through 2021 now, and it seems pretty crazy to think that I wrote my January retrospective blog as potentially a one-off to cover all the random rubbish I’d been doing at the start of it all. It’s actually been a really great motivator, for me, to have these retrospective blogs now form a part of my monthly pattern, because it makes me want to do stuff to then report on at the end of the month. At any rate, September has been fairly busy for me, as I’ve had a couple of weeks off work that have enabled quite a bit of recreation – if you can call looking after two children under 2 “recreation”!

To start with, September is the month that I traditionally think of as my hobby month, as I have a lot of fond memories of really getting into the 40k thing way back when during this month. As such, I’ve tried to really recapture that essence, as far as the paternal duties would allow, and ended up with a fair few random projects on the go!

Let’s talk about my Zone Mortalis terrain progress first! I’m very pleased with this, and I think it’s all coming together really quite beautifully! I talked about the colour scheme that I’m using last month, so won’t go over that again here, but I’ve now expanded my repertoire into other bits like ladders and water tanks! The ladder was just painted Averland Sunset, shaded Agrax Earthshade, then drybrushed like everything else to give it that worn, lived-in look. The tank I’d wanted to paint orange, as I think it makes sense to have it follow the same pattern as the Water Guild big boy, but in the end it turned out more red. No matter, other tanks I’m thinking about painting different colours, anyway, so it’s not like it’s important to remember their colours. I’m very excited to get more terrain painted up – whether I end up getting more done by the end of the year, who can say, but to have any of it painted so far is, frankly, a miracle!

I’ve been doing odd bits with genestealers and have recently finished the Necron Triarch Praetorians, but my main focus has shifted to the Genestealer Cults, as I have decided that I really want to get some of these things painted up, finally! I’ve been working on ten Neophyte Hybrids this month, and slowly but steadily I have almost got the squad finished – a huge achievement, considering the amount of detail on them! They’re tiny, and the scheme that I’m following doesn’t allow for speed painting when it comes to these chaps – the armour, the fatigues, the cloth, the padding, the weapons, the skin (actual skin, and carapace), the dangly-doodads, it’s all just so time consuming!

But I think I’m really getting somewhere now, having finished the first of my ten-man squad, and I’m ready to move on to my next project in the list! Since writing the linked blog, however, I’ve reorganised all of my Cultist miniatures, and have a different ten-man squad make-up, so there are ten more shotguns coming my way soon! Once all the Neophytes are done, though, I should have a fairly straightforward task of finishing off the Metamorphs and the Truck, so I think I can definitely get this first part of the list painted up and ready by Christmas. Ready for what, precisely, I’m not yet sure, but still – it’ll be ready!

I’ve been generally immersing myself in 40k across the month, anyway, and have been enjoying myself immensely. I finally picked up the Drukhari Codex as well, and have been investigating that to build my first proper list for that army in 9th edition. I think Necrons are still edging out the Dark Eldar in my affections for 9th edition, though I am definitely looking forward to playing both armies when the time comes. I’m at that point in the year where I’m now thinking about what I can accomplish prior to the year-end, and in addition to the GSC, I’ve got 5 Wracks and 3 Grotesques on my radar. Though everything is a time-sink, so we’ll have to see how things pan out!

GenCon surprised me this month by, well, taking place! I always thought it was August, but I guess the pandemic has been causing chaos. There hasn’t been a great deal of anything that is exciting me, if truth be told, but I think that could be symptomatic of my relationship with the whole board game scene right now. I wrote a very long ramble about that yesterday, but basically I feel like Kickstarter games have been taking over somewhat, and I’m increasingly disappointed in how FFG have diminished over the years. GW have put in a decent showing at GenCon, announcing a few exciting projects that has my wallet in palpitations.

I do feel like I have been quite gloomy on the board game front, but it’s not really the case! I’m hoping to get in a game day with my buddy Tony some time in October, and I also have plans to once again check out the Hellboy board game, after thinking on that one quite a bit of late, also. So there should be some interesting bits and pieces coming to the blog in the coming weeks! I’ve also finally been able to pick up In Too Deep for the Arkham Horror LCG, so I am thinking about an Innsmouth campaign for the autumn – assuming that I have the time, of course!

All in all, it hasn’t been that bad a month – fingers crossed that I can keep up the pace into the final quarter!

A board game ramble

Hey everybody,
My big news for September is that I’ve actually been playing real-life games with real-life people once again! We went away for a week with the in-laws, and my brother-in-law brought Ticket to Ride: Europe along. It’s something he’d mentioned back at Christmas time, but with all the lockdowns and whatnot, we hadn’t really pursued the idea. Being a gateway game, it was perfect for the whole family to get together (although with six adults and a five-player game, it did mean that there was someone left over to act as the baby monitor…) I have played it a few times back in my heyday of gaming, but had since sold off because I had so many games that were going unplayed. Well, it looks like my wife is a bit of a convert, and so we might be investing at some point! I still have the app on my tablet though, so can always get some games in with the pass-and-play function there. But it was tremendous to be gaming once more, I have to say!

Ticket to Ride is one of those games that is so delightfully easy to pick up, and the strategy comes in actually playing the game, and not hidden within a plethora of rules, that I find it really a lot of fun. Sure, you can end up with turn after turn of not being able to do anything, but I suppose that’s the luck of the draw. I also don’t find it all that super-competitive to play so that I end up getting stressed by those types of empty turns. It was quite refreshing to play, after having spent a lot of time with Warhammer 40k! 

It also got me thinking about my relationship with board games nowadays, and this is something that was reinforced when I read this blog at the weekend. I strongly suggest you read this, as it is a very insightful look into the state of board games these days, and I echo a lot of the sentiments quite a great deal. Kickstarter games seem to have taken over the board game market these days, leading to a saturation that leaves me a bit confused about the lay of the land today. Due to the way Kickstarter works, games are only available for a short space of time and then gone, with very few making it to the shelves of the local store. There’s no “catalogue” to speak of, just a continual raft of new games, selling this cult of the new and the shiny.

It makes me a bit sad, because I feel like we’ve left those days of board games like A Touch of Evil or Runebound, and nowadays everything needs to come with a bucket load of miniatures to have that sort of mass-appeal. I think that the Hellboy board game is a case in point for me here. True, it was put out by Mantic, who do make miniatures games, and was designed by the chap who led the redesign on Necromunda, so there is a provenance there. But I’ve got some pretty huge boxes of stuff under my bed, which I really need to take a look at. But isn’t that just symptomatic of these types of big games, which have a lot of set-up and a lot of effort for a game, whereas you could be playing something like Ticket to Ride inside of a couple of minutes?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the Hellboy game though, as it’s one of my favourite fictional universes, and one that I want to delve into more. The game seems a perfect vehicle for that, as we have a lot of elements from both the Hellboy and BPRD graphic novel storylines to discover. I think having a massive box of miniatures has put me off a little bit, though, as it has turned into something a little bit intimidating to work through. I can still remember my wonder when opening that honking big box of stuff, and seeing all of the various gribblies, and getting pretty excited for what this game was going to be, but then playing it seemed to fall a little flat as I just didn’t get the sense of exploration or whatever. I guess I need to give it more of a chance, but time is not something that I have a lot of these days!

For all that Kickstarter games have that allure, I have found myself selling them off because I don’t have the storage or the inclination to climb that mountain of miniatures that they come with! I’m not trying to bash these of course, and if you’re a Kickstarter fan, there’s no problem with that. For me, I find them pretty exhausting, and sometimes, they’re not even that good when it comes down to the actual gameplay. Shadows of Brimstone was a big case in point for me on that score, and I definitely had my fingers burnt with that one.

My regular gaming buddy Tony has long been a huge KS devotee, and together with his boyfriend Lee they’ve invested thousands into these types of big, miniatures-heavy, multiple-expansions-at-once sorts of games – to the point where they actually have too many games to ever really play and enjoy. Most of them have either never been played, or they might have been cracked open once to give it a go and that will be it. The half-dozen expansions that were part of the stretch goals are either still in the shrinkwrap or else have been looked at, and then returned to their boxes.

It’s quite sad, really, and I am also guilty of this, with the expansions for the Hellboy game that I’ve picked up still lying unwrapped under the bed. I definitely need to look at that one again, as I remember it being pretty good, but it seems so symptomatic of this whole situation – I’ve played that game three times, back when it was delivered in April 2019, but that has been it. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing Arkham Horror and Lord of the Rings quite a lot! Once that shiny and new has worn off, how great are these games in comparison with the old favourites?

I’m not about to launch into a sort of “back in the day” rant, but part of me does harken back to the time where you’d buy a game, then maybe 8-12 months later there’d be an expansion, then over the course of the next year you might get a couple more. With the Kickstarter model becoming seemingly more prevalent, you pretty much buy a game with at least half a dozen expansions in there as well. It seems a bit skewed and, in the case of me with the Hellboy box, it seems confusing when you have a whole bunch of stuff, only a small portion of which is actually meant to form the core game. But I do realise that is perhaps more of an issue with some companies, whereas others will provide a retail-level of game for you right off the bat, all nicely separated into their respective expansion boxes. I think the Hellboy box that I have is the equivalent of core set, two big expansions and about 4 smaller boxes.

The board gaming landscape has definitely changed, and I’m not so sure I want to keep up with it anymore. Like I said, though, if it works for you, then that’s great. I’m not really sure the new way is for me, anymore. I’ll pick up the Arkham Horror LCG for as long as that runs, but I don’t think there has really been anything that has grabbed my attention for a few years now in the mainstream (non-KS) market. Which I find weird, because I used to be such a fan of Fantasy Flight, but they appear to have really run themselves into the ground. Remember when the In-Flight Report would be an event at GenCon? When we’d have genuine excitement over what is going to come next from the company? Doesn’t really seem like there’s much going on now, outside of a couple of card games. Though I would guess that’s more on how Asmodee are choosing to run things.

There is also the other factor to consider, how my own circumstances have changed. I suppose I’ve moved from being a board gamer to being a wargamer, and have kept the small handful of games that I know I enjoy, but by and large I’m not all that open to buying a £40 game on a whim when that £40 could be spent on a new unit for one of my armies! I’ve become so much more invested in tabletop wargaming that I seem to prefer to spend my time marshalling the plastic crack, rather than playing board games. But the will is still there, of course, in the way that I enjoy stuff like Blackstone Fortress, how I’m looking at the new Kill Team and so on. I think I still want to play board games, and I will most likely still be writing about them here on the blog, though this has now primarily become a Warhammer 40k platform with the occasional card game thrown in!

I haven’t played games with Tony for years, and of course the pandemic hasn’t helped there, but we’ve been talking about recapturing the good old days, and I’m hopeful that soon, when things settle down a bit more with the kids and we can reliably have the evenings back, that we can maybe look at getting some games to the table. Perhaps play a few rounds of Magic as well, properly capturing the old game days (though with fewer 3am finishes…)

So, what was the point of this ramble? Well, I guess it’s just something that has been running round a lot in my head for a while now, and after reading Tavendale’s blog it got me thinking more and more about it. I’m not sure I have anything particularly enlightening to say, but it’s nice to get these things down on paper every so often, maybe spark some debate, or whatever!

Star Wars: The Rising Storm (a review)

The second novel* in The High Republic series, The Rising Storm picks up pretty much straight after the first book, as we follow the preparations for The Republic Fair on Valo, in the Outer Rim. Another of Chancellor Lina Soh’s “Great Works”, the Fair is intended to showcase the very best of the Republic, acting as something of an expo I guess, with the added benefit of bringing the Togruta species into the Republic fold.

The early part of the novel has a lot of shuffling-of-pieces, as we see the Nihil leadership move forward and posture among themselves, Marchion Ro in particular taking further steps for a grand plan to attack the Republic. We also see the Cyclor Shipyards, and the research vessel Innovator is going through various tests prior to the Fair when a rogue tempest of the Nihil attack, to be fought off by the Jedi.

For the most part of the book, we then get an extended view of preparations for the Fair, including the arrival of the Togruta monarch and so on. Everything is rather wonderful, and we get to really delve into some of the returning characters from the first book, such as Elzar Mann and Stellan Gios, before suddenly the Nihil attack! It is quite dramatic as well, and the manner of the attack, with an orbital element and reaver-like ground assault (including smoke clouds and sonic disruptions) feels like an utterly ferocious strike at the Republic and the Jedi.

While the Nihil are eventually repelled, they still claim a victory and rogue elements decide to press the advantage by planning another attack, but fall prey to a disinformation campaign and are routed. The Jedi learn that the Nihil are basing themselves on Grizal, and mount their own attack, at which point the Nihil organisation seems to be tearing itself apart. In order to escape, Marchion Ro releases a beast known as “the Leveler” which can turn people into husks, and flees on his ship.


I really enjoyed this book – perhaps not as much as I enjoyed the first one, for sure, but nevertheless it felt like a really great second act. So many trilogies seem to go a bit dead in the middle, but I think here we’ve broadened out just enough to allow more character to appear from the established cast, while maintaining the momentum in the Republic vs Nihil war. Actually, the whole war is an interesting one, because it often seems like nothing more than marauders and pirates testing the fringes, and not a really large-scale military threat. That’s why the attack on the Fair worked, because it wasn’t a case of the Nihil going up against a Republic fleet or somesuch. The scale is different to, say, the Clone Wars, and I really like it.

The Jedi are developed a lot in this book, and I like how different they feel to their counterparts in the Prequels. They don’t quite seem to be the cloistered monks, but rather the type of official mediators and security services of the Republic, and have a much more public face. You definitely get the impression that the Jedi are off-limits when the time of the Prequels comes about. It’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, that change comes about. There are perhaps glimpses here, as Elzar Mann uses Dark Side power to stop the Nihil attack at one point – maybe they decide to retreat to avoid any kind of fall?

Some of the criticisms of this book that I’ve seen online (mainly on the SW book club Facebook group) come leveled at the fact that nothing seems to happen in the book, that it is boring, etc. I think, on the contrary, so much happens that it’s difficult to provide a satisfying synopsis of it without going on for days! We get a lot of minutiae when it comes to the Fair, which I think works quite well because after a number of chapters where the action moves around a bit, we’re almost lulled into a sense of security before BOOM – the Nihil attack and all hell breaks loose! The subsequent attack takes place over several chapters, though purportedly only takes place over the course of maybe an afternoon. So much is going on, that it’s difficult to cover it all quickly, but the pacing is really quite good and no single aspect of the attack feels like it has been short-changed. I was then surprised that the end was still a long way off, because a lot more action then follows!

Bell Zettifar has his reunion with Loden Greatstorm, who has been testing his bonds in the Nihil prison, and manages to escape, only for their reunion to be short-lived as he falls victim to the Leveler. That was a genuinely emotional moment for me, and I felt almost like I’d been punched. That’s some good storytelling, right there – it really got me!

We’re getting what now appears to be the Disney trope of adding in more gay characters to the books, with a fairly significant plot thread involving the Chancellor’s son, and a more throwaway element involving the former Jedi padawan Ty Yorrick and the daughter of her client, who ends up as a bit of a catalyst for the final confrontation on Grizal. As far as Kitrep Soh’s awkward relationship with Jom Lariin goes, I thought it seemed a bit rushed at first, but turned out to be very satisfying and worked really well within the wider story without feeling shoehorned in. It’s great to have these kinds of plot threads, where two guys can be attracted to each other and have an arc which forms a strong part of the actual story, rather than it being a case of LOOK EVERYBODY, THIS GUY’S GAY! as it often felt in the Aftermath books. Ty Yorrick is a much more complicated character, who didn’t really get much airtime to properly see develop. Maybe she’ll form a large part of the third novel, coming out in January? There’s a suggestion of something there, which feels much more how we’re used to seeing this kind of stuff in years gone by. We’re definitely getting there, which is the main thing!

Of all the new canon books that I’ve read so far, I think this is up there with the small clutch of novels that I think would benefit from a second reading. Indeed, I think I would enjoy a second reading, though I think I’d probably do so as part of a general High Republic re-read. Very good development, but I definitely want to go wider with this time frame, and see more of the galaxy.

The third book, The Fallen Star, is written by Claudia Gray, who I’ve definitely had some ups and downs with! Let’s hope we get something along the lines of Bloodline, and less Lost Stars! It’s coming out in January, and I hope to pick it up pretty much as soon as possible and get reading.


* I know there are a bunch of other YA novels etc, but this is the second in what I’m thinking of as the main storyline, based on purely the adult novels. Not “adult” in that sense, though…

Gen Con 2021

This one surprised me a little, I must be honest, but GenCon is being held in September this year? I always thought it was an August thing, but what do I know? The best four days in gaming must be a bit strange this year, although the main thing is that it’s back!

Let’s start with Fantasy Flight, whose In-Flight Report used to be the highlight of the weekend for me. Remember the days when they’d announce something spectacular, like Android Netrunner, and then they’d have limited stock to purchase during the convention? Here in 2021, it feels distinctly lacklustre, somehow, like there isn’t a great deal to be excited about. For sure, we have the long-awaited expansion for Outer Rim, which I know fans of that game will be excited by (I can’t believe I haven’t yet looked into that one, but then I guess my priorities have shifted lately!) There are a few games, like Keyforge and Marvel Champions, which I don’t play, so the only thing for me to come out of this announcement was the revised/consolidated Lord of the Rings LCG core set that is due, which will support 4 players out of the gate, and the promise of re-packaging complete cycles in a similar fashion to Arkham Horror LCG. And speaking of that game, they’ve also announced that they’ll be re-packaging earlier cycles to support collectors who have only now got into the game, starting with The Dunwich Legacy.

I thought it was interesting, though, reading some of the comments on FFG’s own facebook post about this, and seeing my own thoughts echoed. I used to be such a fanboy for FFG, but it seems that since they sold to Asmodee (well, for me I think the death-knell was the loss of the Warhammer licence) they’ve lost a lot of the creativity that I used to love. I mean, I used to go through their catalogue and just buy stuff to try it, on the basis that the company was top-notch. Now, I’m pretty much only buying Arkham games, and even then I’m not buying them all… But anyway, enough introspection!

Games Workshop are also at GenCon, and have announced a lot of interesting Kill Team stuff! The new warzone box, Chalnath, is due for release at some point, and does indeed feature T’au vs Sisters of Battle. The T’au Pathfinders kit will have an upgrade sprue, while the Sisters are a new unit, designed specifically for Kill Team. This is pretty much what has been speculated, and the fact that a new Sisters kit is coming out that looks so varied and stuff I think is proof that they want the Kill Team range to be its own thing. Of course, I imagine there will be 40k rules to follow, but it’s exciting. Pathfinders are a pretty full kit anyway, so adding in an upgrade sprue is a move that I can entirely understand – there are maybe only a handful of kits they can do this with, but it does make sense, rather than producing new kits all the time. The scenery is that from the first Kill Team box in 2018, so I’m thinking I might forego this one, in the hope that I can get the campaign book as well as the new miniatures separately. Otherwise, I could see myself with a second set of Sector Imperialis terrain!!

The new Sisters models do look very interesting though, and I like the idea of having a very customisable, essentially Sisters Scouts squad.

An actual Kill Team starter set is also due for release, as well as the Kommandos and Death Korps models coming out separately. This box won’t have the big buildings, just the barricades etc, but I think that’s a great idea because launching a new system with a limited edition box really does irritate me. At least now it looks like something that people can be excited for, rather than disappointed by.

We’ve also got our first look at Season Five of Warhammer Underworlds: Harrowdeep. This one sounds pretty good, and comes with the expected Stormcast vs Kruleboyz, so I’m excited for this one. I’m also wondering at what kinds of warbands we’ll see as the season gets underway – though I still haven’t picked up a couple of the s4 warbands that I’ve had my eye on… I need to get on that…

Well, the Necromunda news didn’t disappoint! This was unexpected, Outcasts are the new gang, coming with their own book that promises to be something of a treasure trove of Underhive junk that I for one cannot wait to see. The minis look like a great bunch of generic gangers, a nice addition of general 40k humans that, up to now, we’ve only had Cultists to represent. And the terrain is just astonishing! Who knew we needed a market stall like this?! I’m looking forward to getting to grips with these bits and pieces, should be great to fill out a more open area on the table without it feeling too crowded. Interesting stuff, at any rate – and I’m particularly pleased that all of this is coming out separately, it seems, and not tied into a big-box release. I’m already saving for the new Kill Team, after all!

I’m not all that impressed with the big Warcry announcement though, mainly because it wasn’t really an announcement but just a tease. Hm. I’m guessing some kind of drider-like creatures, new stuff for the setting as a whole rather than simply Spiderfang Grots, because otherwise why make such a fuss? Hm.

Codex: Drukhari

Hey everybody,
I have finally got my hands on the Drukhari Codex for 9th edition! It feels like it’s been an age, though I suppose not playing games has meant there has been very little need for it. But with potential games on the horizon, I think it is time to start looking at my largest model collection to see how I can work things in the new edition. (I keep saying “new”, even though it’s been out well over twelve months now, simply because I haven’t had a chance to play properly yet!)

Oh my goodness, this book is complex!

I mean, when you sit down to properly read through, it’s fine, but when you first pick it up and take a look at the battle-forged rules, my goodness it’s wordy! I think this is really symptomatic of the new edition, because they have tried to make a rule set that is clear for organised play, it becomes very litigious, rather than reading like the rules to a game. True, that game is complex, but I thought 8th edition was a great big sigh of relief after the overly-fussy 7th edition, and while we haven’t gone back that far, it does need you to sit down and get your head around it to properly take it all in!

The Drukhari Codex is still split into three separate factions – Kabal, Coven and Cult – but when I first came to read up on how the army works now, it felt like some drastic changes had occurred! Not so, just a tidying-up of the rules, I suppose. Upon reflection, the way these rules are presented is actually quite neat, as well. The relics, stratagems and warlord traits unique to specific Obsessions are now grouped together on a single page each, rather than having a page of traits, a page of stratagems, etc. It does help to make things feel somehow more cohesive, once you realise that’s what they’ve done in the book.

To start with, you can still do the three Patrol detachment thing, and the cost for doing so is 0CP. There is a new Realspace Raid detachment rule, which gives a new keyword to the units that allows for a greater cohesion across the army, even though you’ve mixed in all three factions. The only stipulation is that the Archon must be the Warlord, but that’s a flavour win so I can’t see why you wouldn’t.

Something I really like is that you can upgrade each of the faction HQs to a Master – Master Archon, Master Succubus, Master Haemonculus – for a few extra points. This unlocks relics and warlord traits for them, as well as giving a new ability, and excitingly, it also unlocks “favoured retinues”, which allows you to upgrade Kabalite Warriors to Trueborn (for the Archon), Wyches to Hekatrix Bloodbrides (for the Succubus), and Wracks to Haemoxytes (for the Haemonculus). These retinue units have better stat lines and a special ability, but they don’t get access to more special weapons as was the case in 7th edition, so no Blasterborn or any similar shenanigans! I’m kinda fascinated by the Haemoxytes though, as they’re a new idea to me!

So the exciting thing now is that you can make a mixed force and call it a Realspace Raid, provided that you have the three separate HQs and a unit each of the basic troops, and the Archon is your Warlord. They even give you a two-page spread example of how a Battalion detachment might look in this instance, to further hammer the point home. A minimum-sized points investment for doing this would be 335 points, after which you’re free to fill up the army however you want. Doing this means that all the Kabal units still gain Kabal Obsessions, and so on, so it’s really quite a useful way of building an army, so long as you’re playing a points limit that can accommodate that initial outlay.

As far as army-wide rules go, Power from Pain and Combat Drugs are still a thing, Insensible to Pain is there, and Poisoned Weapons haven’t changed since the last edition, either. A new rule, Blade Artists, seems to be pretty much across the whole force, and improves AP by 1 for melee weapons on an unmodified 6, which is quite nice! Especially as there are a lot of weapons with AP in the melee list, from the start!

So let’s get down to business, and see what kind of list I have put together…

I’m currently just aiming for 1500 points, and the main theme behind this list is getting to grips with 9th Edition! I know that I should be thinking a bit more critically about some things, and protecting stuff like the Incubi and the Wyches more with transports, but I think that will come with 2000 points. I still like to have a core Kabal in there, which is why I’ve gone for two lots of Kabalite Warriors with Raiders. A hugely exciting development is that the transport capacity for Raiders and Venoms has been upped to 11 and 6, respectively, meaning that HQs can travel with their troops now! So the Archon and Haemonculus will each be in a Raider and Venom, respectively, with a bodyguard type of unit, leaving the poor Incubi, Wyches and Succubus to foot-slog up the board. But I’m thinking that the melee units could potentially be kept back for objective-sitting, with the flying stuff causing chaos elsewhere.

Splinter racks have changed now, so they no longer give exploding 6s but instead allow rapid fire weapons to treat the target as being within half-range, so I’m not 100% sure on keeping them as an auto-include now, but I think – as with a lot of this list – I want to play with these things, to see how it works out. I’ve also put grisly trophies on all my vehicles, as they give -2 leadership to enemy models within 3″, and I’m thinking about using the No Mercy, No Respite secondary objective, which gives VPs for each model that flees the battle each round. I’ve not previously leaned into the fear aspect of the Drukhari, but it’s something I think might be nice to look into, now that there is such a tasty objective on offer there!

Of all the Cult units, I think Reavers are the ones I’ve used most often, and have enjoyed most consistently. I think I can see them being quite deadly in the game, as well, with 10 attacks from the unit, the grav-talon to dish out mortal wounds on the charge, but also the firepower they can boast before close combat. They all have pistols to shoot while in combat as well, and I’ve given them the +1 Toughness drug, so any retaliation will come at T5, which can be quite difficult!

Scourges are a unit that I only really started to appreciate towards the end of 8th edition, mainly because of the possibility of having 4 splinter cannons dropping down from the sky on top of people. Splinter cannons have changed now, from Rapid Fire 3 to Heavy 3, so they aren’t necessarily as good as they once were. That said, again I would like to play with them first, and get a feel for how things work in the new edition before dropping them. I do feel like I might be going for fewer specialised weapons in my lists, going forward!

So there we have it, anyway, my first Drukhari list of 9th edition. I’m hoping that I can actually get to play in another couple of weeks, albeit I’m not sure if a 1500 point game would be on the cards quite yet! But you never know. Hopefully soon, I’ll be talking about how this list performed on the tabletop, anyway!

Back to the Cult

Hey everybody,
After my rambling talk about the Tyranids last month, I have naturally veered off into the Genestealer Cults once again! Typical, huh? However, I’m hoping that this is going to be something a little bit different. I know, I’ve been here before, talking about projects and never getting anywhere with any of them! But hear me out, it’s not about to be another blog where I over-commit to stuff and end up with virtual egg on my face.

I love the Genestealer Cults – the lore is fantastic, and some of my favourite in the whole 40k universe. The models are amazing, and I’ve talked many times about how the Neophyte Hybrids are the best-looking troops in the entire line.

I want to take it slow, though. All too often, I’ve had thoughts about building an army, starting with just a small force, then adding on from there, but then before I even put brush to plastic, I’m planning the next stage, and the next one, and it becomes a nonsense! I’ve done this with Chaos and, to a lesser extent, Sisters. I know that life is different for me now, but I do sometimes think back to the glory days of 7th edition, when I just bought a Dark Eldar army and, pretty much in 6-7 months had the majority of it fully painted! I’ve churned out many a list for the Cult, but still haven’t really gotten anywhere with the army – so it’s time for that to change!

I’ve got so many models for this army, and have been faffing about with them for what feels like centuries now, after all. So after some rumination for a while, I’ve decided that I need to get my finger out and actually finish off some of these miniatures. I have given it all some thought, anyway, and have come up with a 500-point list (of 9th edition points) using the miniatures that I already have built and ready – and in some cases, almost finished. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to start things off with 500 points, but I’m a lot more hopeful this time! In theory, at least, it should be a fully-functioning list for Combat Patrol, the 500-point format, while also providing a useful core from which to build out further. Because of course I’m going to be going huge with these guys!

The thing with this army, of course, is how cheap some of the stuff is, which turns things into a bit of a horde feel, hence why I’ve amassed so many of them! But with such detailed models, it does end up scaring me a little. I mean, 60 Neophytes must be a delight to see finished on the tabletop, but getting there – jeez!

The Primus is my current warlord, the trait giving the enemy -1 to hit on shooting attacks against him, and the relic allowing him to do mortal wounds at the end of the charge (plus a 4+ invuln!) I say ‘current’ because I really want to have a Patriarch at the heart of this army and, under the current rules at least, the Patriarch must be the warlord when he’s included.

I’ve talked before about my dreams of having a Hybrid Metamorph bomb go off, and I’ve got the beginnings of this here, with the five guys plus the Primus. I’m giving them the Goliath Truck, rather than including the Magus for psychic stuff, to help deliver them into combat. My one and only game with the army, back between lockdowns in July 2020, saw me mess up the sequencing with them and it really didn’t come to pass, because they were shot off the board before anything could really happen. Not this time, though! Of course, I’m still largely working with models that I built before I really knew what I wanted from them, back when 7th edition was still a thing, so I might yet revisit them and change things up. But that could well be a task for when the Codex drops.

My main preoccupation here is going to be the Neophytes, I think. They’re just such good looking models, I really want to try and nail these troops so that I have a nice workable backbone for the army. I’m actually considering massive units of 20 models when the time comes for some big games, but I suppose we’ll see. They’re one of my favourite units though, visually, and so I definitely want to use them in the force.

The list, then, consists of 32 models (32 models in a 500-point match sounds like a lot, but they’re really quite poor in terms of survivability, remember, everything has a 5+ save and toughness 3, so it’s not like I’m going with an elite force here! My plan is simply to make sure I get this list finished before the New Year. I’m not saying I need to focus solely on these guys, particularly as I have a few other bits and pieces that I’m currently working on, but I’m kinda throwing everything else out the window now, so long as I finish these models I’m gonna be happy. I can still paint some Necrons, some terrain etc, but I want to get these guys done. Then I might look at painting up the next chunk by Easter, and on it goes!

At several points, I’ve mentioned expanding the force. Now, I think my problem in the past has always been to write out a full 1500 point list, or whatever, and because everything is so cheap, I end up looking down the barrel of about 100 models to paint, and it just turns me off. If ever there was an army designed for the slow-grow, this was surely it! But I hope that by taking it in slow chunks, I can actually stand a chance of getting it finished! But I’m not going to focus on them to the exclusion of all else, either, in the hope of keeping the project fresh for me – because even taking it in chunks, there’s a lot of models to paint!!

I’m not abandoning my Tyranids either, and fully intend to carry on painting those chaps along the way! I think, at the minute, I’m happy to just bumble along and paint up what I can, I’m not trying to rush and get my bugs finished as well. The Cultists have been languishing for so long though, they really do need some love.

And the lore is just so damn good, too, you know? I might have to do another blog about that soon…

Kaldheim!

Following on from my catch-up with Magic a few weeks ago, today I thought I’d talk about the set that really caught my attention when I started to make some tentative steps at returning to the game. Kaldheim came out in February this year, and is a Norse-inspired set along the lines of Theros. The story heavily involves the planeswalker Kaya, who is one of my favourites as the only planeswalker in black/white, though as far as story goes, I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to happen on the plane. There are a lot of Vikings, clearly, and other cues from Norse mythology that link in quite well to the overall theme.

While the block structure is a thing of the past, WOTC has linked together the sets of a Magic “year” through a couple of themes, notably the tribal theme established in Zendikar Rising’s “Party” mechanic, and modal double-faced cards, where you choose which side of the card to cast as you play the card. In Kaldheim, all the nonland double-faced cards are Gods, which is quite fitting! The tribal organisation here is based around the ten realms of Kaldheim, which are analogous to the ten two-colour pairings. There is some development here of each realm, such as black and red (Immersturm) being a realm of fire and demons, though there isn’t really a great deal of development that you can do when you only have one set to showcase the entire plane.

The new mechanics of the set are Foretell and Boast. Foretell works in a similar way to Morph, where you cast the card face-down for 2 generic mana, and can later be turned face up for its Foretell cost. Morph cards were always creatures, even as face-down cards, but Foretell cards are exiled and so can’t be interacted with (except, I guess, by Eldrazi? I’m kinda new!), and you won’t know if it’s a creature or a spell that is about to be turned up. Boast is an activated ability that will only trigger if the creature attacked this combat. So it’s a slight drawback in that the creature has to survive that combat first!

Snow is back, first time in a main set since 2006 and Coldsnap, with more snow-covered lands as well as snow-covered dual lands, which is very nice! Snow creatures and other permanents (and non-permanents!) also feature, this time with a distinctive, frosty border! Nice!

I’ve been buying quite a few packs of Kaldheim, and a bundle. I’ve been investigating the different types of booster packs now available, and I really do feel out of my depth in this game right now. There are draft boosters and set boosters and collector boosters and some other types, with different cards that have different frames, that I don’t really follow all of the ins-and-outs, if I’m honest. Is there any need? Well the amount of content coming out seems to have had an effect on Standard becoming a bit cheaper, thanks to the number of packs being opened. But it feels a bit like the somewhat casual player – even the slightly-more-than-casual player like myself – might just be overwhelmed by the whole thing. I mean, it took me a weekend to work out everything, and I’m not sure I really get it, even now!

Anyway. Having bought up all these packs, I’ve been able to build a black and white deck that features the new Angels, or Valkyries as they’re called here. I opened three copies of Firja, Judge of Valor, a legendary angel cleric (party!) who triggers off the second spell, which is an intriguing mechanic. I haven’t built a Magic deck in a very long time, so this could be entirely awful, but I’m excited for new cards, so we shall see I suppose!

Creatures (20)
Firja, Judge of Valor (3)
Vengeful Reaper (4)
Hailstorm Valkyrie (4)
Cleaving Reaper
Doomskar Oracle
Starnheim Aspirant
Skemfar Shadowsage (2)
Elderfang Disciple (2)
Bloodsky Berserker (2)

Artifacts (2)
Valkyrie’s Sword (2)

Enchantments (11)
Valor of the Worthy (2)
Rampage of the Valkyries
Firja’s Retribution (2)
Ascent of the Worthy
Rune of Sustenance (3)
Rune of Mortality (2)

Land (27)
Snowfield Sinkhole (3)
Shimmerdrift Vale
Great Hall of Starnheim
Plains (7)
Snow-Covered Plains (3)
Swamp (8)
Snow-Covered Swamp (4)

The first thing you’ll probably notice here is that there are literally no spells. Well, no instants or sorceries, at least! This wasn’t by design, but purely accidental as I was building the deck and found nothing that I really wanted to include. This is very much a first-cut though, and could definitely do with refinement. I think it also speaks to the fact that I was doing it only with the cards that I had opened, without any real attempt to buy the singles that I wanted or needed. There’s also the element of sticking to just the Kaldheim set, of course, and the restrictions there. Strixhaven is an enemy-colour set, and there are a number of black and white cards in that set for the Silverquill college that I think might be a good fit, but I’ve not really investigated that set in great depth just yet. Of course, if we’re going to plumb the depths of my overall collection, I’m sure that the opportunities would be endless to get a really interesting deck ticking over! Might have to do that, at some point!

The basic plan for the deck is just to go wide with these angel creatures and smash into my opponent. There are some useful abilities and interesting things that might be possible, but I don’t think I’ll be making full use of any of them for the time being. Firja’s ability to draw cards when the second spell has been cast could be handy, paired with some graveyard recursion to get those others back from the discard side of the ability. There is some, for sure, but not a massive amount! Creating Angel tokens should be nice, though I do seem to run the risk of just having hundreds of creatures out with nothing really flashy – it could be a very blunt and obvious deck to play! I’m sure I’ll have a tinker with it though, and see what else I can come up with!

I do find it interesting to note how, in a recent video, the Professor was talking about the overwhelming quantity of new product coming at us this year, and made the comment regarding how can anyone be expected to remember the ten realms as a shorthand for the colour combo, as they do for the Guilds of Ravnica. While we’ve spent three entire blocks on the plane of Ravnica now, and so it can be reasonably expected that the guilds are quite well-known, I think he does have a point when Kaldheim only came out six months ago, but I had no idea the black/white realm was called Starnheim, and would forever refer to the deck as Orzhov.

I wonder if we’ll ever come back to Kaldheim? I suppose, if the story allows, why wouldn’t we, but we seem to have been dashing about so much lately, and we’re set to continue dashing into 2022, that it’ll be interesting to see whether there is ever the room to come back. Magic seems to be in an interesting place right now, where it is old enough that there is a nostalgia that can be banked on – returning to Zendikar, Ravnica and Innistrad, to say nothing of Dominaria, is always going to be a huge draw for people. Giving us new planes, such as Kaldheim and Strixhaven, Ikoria and the upcoming New Capenna, feels a bit like the design team trying to get away from the whole Gatewatch thing. But the constant new stuff seems to be just diluting the overall feel of the game, somehow. Added to that, the branching out into other IP does feel a little bit like the game is lost, maybe?  

At any rate, I am finding things interesting with Magic right now, almost as an outsider-looking-in. I haven’t played it for a very long time, of course, so even given my history with the game and my fairly substantial collection, I do feel a bit like I’m on the sidelines. Maybe that’ll change as life continues to get back to normal, though!