Warhammer 40k 8th Edition retrospective

Hey everybody!
Indomitus goes on pre-order tomorrow – a two week preorder window, which seems a little silly given that the box is likely to sell out in a couple of minutes. Anyway, we’re not too far away from having a new edition, even if it doesn’t seem like five minutes since 8th Edition, and I thought it would be nice to look back on the old edition before it fades into memory!

I think the best thing about 8th Edition was the fact that it launched with these books. Being a completely new style of game from 7th Edition, the Indexes were of course necessary for the game, but they functioned quite like mini-Codexes, with the rules for (I think) pretty much every model made for each faction, and army-specific rules.

I started playing pretty regularly in 8th with my Necrons, followed quickly by my Dark Eldar, so it was quite good to have all of the rules for these factions in the same book. It was also useful if you were going to play against an army included in the same book, as you basically had their Codex as well, allowing you to see what you could be coming up against.

My Dark Eldar were the the army that I had been building up for this edition, of course, so it was nice to get them to the table.

One of the best aspects of 8th Edition was the addition of “chapter tactics” for each faction, allowing for a great deal of customization for your army. Relics, Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers were all given out with specifics for these sub-divisions within each faction, as well as Stratagems:

Stratagems were, I think, among the biggest game-changers for the edition. Many of the army rules, unit rules, or even weapon rules from the previous edition were re-created via Stratagems, which could be used for a cost that was generated by how you’d built your army. There have been pages and pages written about Stratagems and their use, of course, so I’m not going to labour the point on this one, but there have been quite a few shenanigans though the generation and re-generation of command points.

In the main, I’ve quite liked them, of course, although I do tend to forget about them… and end games with almost as many points as I’d started!

8th Edition 40k was certainly an improvement on 7th Edition, although very quickly we started to get the same kind of bloat as had been seen in the previous edition. Both Space Marines and Chaos Marines had two editions of their codexes, as the factions had seen an influx of new models. Let’s not talk about Primaris Marines here, because even more pages have been written about this topic, but suffice it to say, the range has exploded to take over the older marines. Only a matter of time before the old marines are phased out entirely, I think.

While we saw campaign boxes such as Shadowspear and campaign books such as the Vigilus two-parter, Psychic Awakening has really caused some issues for gamers wanting to play their armies and requiring a couple of books to get all the relevant rules. In three years, we’ve had a load of books to support this edition, which just seems crazy!

However, let’s turn back to the successes of the edition – let’s talk about Kill Team! The skirmish variant of regular 40k was completely re-imagined this time around, and I think it was quite a hit when it launched. It helped, of course, that it came out in a box set that launched an entirely updated terrain range – “updating things” seems to have been quite a theme of 8th edition! I’ve played a few games of Kill Team, and I do quite like it. The game feels, to me, very much like the sort of game you play with friends at your house, and run through a campaign with it. As the sort of game that you play in pick-up games down at the local store, however, I’ve not really had the sort of experience that I’d have liked.

The increased line of support for the game – bringing Elites, Commanders and so on – has turned it into something of a monster, and I think the almost RPG-like quality of things has made for that kind of sandbox feel that would be great with a consistent group. However, the product line did include perhaps one of the most incredible box-sets GW has actually produced:

Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Bringing Rogue Traders to 40k is a ridiculously ballsy move, and I’ve talked about this box at length here. I think this box helped to set the scene for another roaring success for Games Workshop, Blackstone Fortress. While it isn’t really part of 8th Edition, I have really appreciated the fact that a lot of these ancillary products have brought us additional options for 40k. Rogue Traders and Navigators have all come to 40k, as well as Traitor Guard and Dark Mechanicum models. It’s been an absolutely insane time for fans of the lore of this universe, as we see so many wonderful minis for this game coming out. The 40k rules are maybe a bit… strange… and you really have to work to include them in a regular army if you wanted to do so. I suppose it’s perhaps their way of saying these models belong in these side games. Maybe. But it’s nice that the game has been supported with this stuff as well.


8th Edition has definitely been my busiest time for playing 40k – I’ve made some really good friends by being more present at my local store during this edition. I’m not a competitive gamer, so I’ve not has cause to complain too much about things that have been abused over the course of the three years. I’ve come up against some awkward games where I’ve been shut out of actually playing the game, but on the whole, this is not an edition I’m going to think badly about – it’s no 7th edition confuse-fest where you need a scientific calculator in order to work out a damage roll!

I’ve enjoyed 8th a lot, so let’s see what 9th is going to bring!

Goodbye to 8th Edition

Hey everybody!
I had what is most likely going to be my last game of 8th Edition 40k yesterday, though I didn’t let that stop me from trying out yet another new army!

Genestealer Cults 9th edition

I’d drawn up a list of Genestealer Cults, mainly the units that I’d already had built up over the last few years…

Genestealer Cults

A double battalion with 13 command points available, and yet I manage to finish the game with 11 of the buggers left to me! Of course, I was using the Nexos to regain a couple of them over the course of the game, but even so!

Genestealer Cults

I really enjoyed this game, seeing how the Cult works and so forth. I had a blast with the various rules and seeing what I could do with the units that I have on offer!

The Genestealer Cults models are some of the most beautiful models in the game, in my opinion, and while I do like the models that we’ve had out for some time now, I was looking forward to trying out some of the new units as well! The Clamavus-Primus-Nexos trick of gaining command points back seemed like it would be glorious, but it actually didn’t seem to be worth bringing them all along just for that. I think I gained two back over the course of two rounds, so it wasn’t really worth having the Nexos and Clamavus both on the table. The latter did actually help prevent an Obliterator landing square in my backfield (instead, he came in on the corner, and only succeeded in wiping off half a squad of Acolytes).

Genestealer Cults

The Primus was decent though, and he is a serious buff for Cult models, so I think he’ll be staying in the list.

Genestealer Cults

I’m a big fan of this chap though, the Achilles Ridgerunner. With two heavy stubbers, and that heavy mining laser on top, it was pretty damn useful during the game, killing off the Daemon Prince to net me Slay the Warlord. I was really quite surprised at the punch of the laser! In all honesty, I don’t think I used it to the full potential – I don’t even think that I moved it during the game! – so I’d like to work again on what I would do with that in future games.

Genestealer Cults

Man of the match, though, has got to be the Patriarch. Which I suppose is only fitting, really. When everything seemed to be looking quite dire for me, the Patriarch stepped up to the plate and used Mind Control on the Venomcrawler there to remove the Dark Apostle, before then utterly shredding his way through the Venomcrawler in a single round of close combat. I feel that he certainly helped me go out with a bang, anyway!

However, I did indeed lose, and quite badly, as well – I think the final score was 9-6, but when we’d been looking through the potential third round, it would have only gotten worse, so we called it there.

One of the main downsides for the army is just how squishy they are. With T3 almost across the board, vast swathes of my army were being chewed up. In contrast, I wasn’t really doing a great deal to fight back, despite the massed fire from Neophytes seeing a lot of dice rolled… I think I was averaging 3 successful wound rolls from 14 hits (though of course, several were then saved).

As much as they fold like wet paper bags, I’m thinking about maybe taking bigger blobs of Neophyte Hybrids, to allow for greater sticking power. Of course, their weapons still leave a bit to be desired, but I’m hoping that I can get some results just from the weight of numbers! We shall see. 9th edition seems to be losing the requirement for multiple detachments, so I suppose I could afford to then take my troops in bigger squads rather than the minimum squads that I have at the moment.

Genestealer Cults

I’m very excited for these gribblies, as I really want to get better with the army over time. In particular, I’d like to get a better handle on the stratagems available to me. For sure, a lot of them were to do with playing around with the Cult Ambush rules, which I wasn’t entirely sure about before I began. Having no real plan, I think this showed most with my deployment, as a lot of things ended up in the middle of no-man’s land.

We were playing at 1230 points, although I do think it might have been better to have started with a smaller game to get the feel for it. Again, 9th edition might help me here, as I can potentially try smaller games to start with, as I get to grips with the army.

For a long time now, I’ve been trying to paint the army up but it’s been a slow process due to the level of detail on the models. I’m thinking I’m going to try and focus on getting the equivalent of the Start Collecting box painted up, especially as I want to show some love to the Ridgerunner after such a good performance!

Regardless of the inaugural outing with the Cult being a washout, I am still really excited for the army as my new force for 9th edition! I’ve played a lot of Necrons and a lot of Dark Eldar during my time with 8th, but I think it was nice to say goodbye to the edition with my new army 🙂

New 40k Reveals!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for seeing more new awesome models coming for Warhammer 40k, as we’ve seen some new terrain features that I’m sure will be gracing Armies on Parade, if not actual battlefields for a while yet! Then yesterday, of course, we had some very exciting bits shown off as part of the inexorable marketing campaign for the upcoming Indomitus boxset. What a time to be alive!

I’m very excited about this new Necron stuff, I have to say! As I’ve said many times already on this blog, Necrons are my first love, and they’ll always have a place in my heart – even if some of these new models that we’re seeing are a little bit… strange. Necron terrain is something that I never thought I’d see, though, even with the promise of faction-specific stuff coming. Just goes to show, doesn’t it?! These “starstele” sound like they’re going to be really useful to the faction, as well, packing a punch in and of themselves while also supporting the army with buffs and movement shenanigans. Excellent stuff! Price dependent, of course, I’ll take a few!

I think we all need to pause for a minute, and realise that the Silent King himself now has a model that can be used in 40k. I mean, I don’t know whether he’ll be usable, as defined by the tournament elite, but he has a model that you can put down as a part of your army, and that is just bonkers!

I never thought I’d see it, and now that I have, I can’t believe I’m seeing it! It’s a beautiful model, and I cannot wait to have it as a part of my army – even if storage and transportation are going to make this thing an absolute nightmare!

Szarekh isn’t the only big dude coming, of course…

If the Silent King looks like a delicate model… this one looks nigh-on impossible! The C’tan Shard of the Void Dragon is stunning, let’s be real here, but he’s also going to be an absolute nightmare, worse even than the likes of Nagash (from whom he seems to have taken a lot of inspiration).

It’s an incredible piece, and in some ways could almost be more striking than Szarekh there, too. Am I going to get one? Probably. But not just yet, methinks…

Of course, it’s not all about the Necrons, as the Space Marines are seeing an extension of the Primaris range, as well. Chaplain on a bike is a nice addition, although that gives us three Primaris Chaplains, as the Indomitus box is coming with a new one, too! Clearly someone in Nottingham has decided that Chaplains need some love and attention, after all! Of course, this has got me wondering if we’re going to be seeing Librarians on bikes… maybe Techmarines on bikes… well – speaking of that last…

So then, we’ve got Primaris bikers, the start of Primaris Devastators, and new Primaris characters coming out, in addition to the assault Primaris marines… I suppose the question now becomes, how long have the mini-marines got left? Their time has got to be limited now. I’m guessing we’ll see more tanks to bring stuff like the Predator up to date, and then that’ll be it! Move them to Legends, their time is done!

It’s been three years since the Primaris line was launched in Dark Imperium, and this expansion for Indomitus has been huge, so I don’t think we can expect the Tactical Squad to last. Which is a shame, really. Though I suppose we can’t really be surprised…

Remembering Netrunner

Hey everybody,
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know I’m mostly obsessed with Warhammer 40k, although of course I’ve long been a huge fan of all manner of tabletop boardgames, particularly those from Fantasy Flight. While it’s been almost two years, I’ve recently found myself feeling pretty nostalgic for Android Netrunner, that amazing living card game that came to an end in 2018 after six glorious years of expansions that served to deepen the gameplay and expand the universe.

Android Netrunner

 

I first featured this game on my blog back in 2015, after having had a couple of years’ casual play out of it with my regular gaming buddy Tony, who introduced me to it after we’d enjoyed a few of the LCGs from FFS’s stable. I think the original draw, for me at least, was how asymmetrical the game play is. The differences in what each side is trying to do made it pretty different from any game I’d come across, before or since, really!

At the time, I was quite heavily involved in web development, and was looking to pursue it as something of a career option. Perhaps this was among the things that attracted me to the Runner side of the game, particularly the Shaper faction. While I think I’ve tried out each of the Runner factions, the Shaper was the faction I kept coming back to, because of the tinkering aspect of the identity. Being able to do crazy-ass things appealed to me greatly, and it was for sure the identity that I had the most fun with!

Android Netrunner

I played in the Summer 2015 Netrunner tournament, using my favourite Shaper build alongside a hastily put-together Haas/Bioroid Corp deck that I hadn’t really used before. Indeed, playing the Corp wasn’t something that I was overly familiar with at that time, as I’d played almost exclusively as the Runner when playing against Tony. However, the tournament was perhaps a symptom of the success I’d had with infecting the local community with this card game, and opportunities for games became fairly regular over time with guys at the local store. As such, I was able to get into playing more Corp decks, and to see what the fuss was all about.

Android Netrunner

NBN is an identity that I had graduated towards shortly before their deluxe expansion came out, and they had a massive boost in publicity. For most of my time with the game, Jinteki seemed to be the dominant Corp that I’d played against, although Tony always favoured Wayland. At any rate, I started throwing cards together and, over time, came up with a really enjoyable deck to play – I think I won with it as often as I lost, so I think that’s a fairly decent yardstick!

Android Netrunner

I sold off my collection in December 2018, sadly, having not actually played the game for more than two years prior to that. It was actually quite a sad moment, really, as I’d had so much fun with the game over the years. As it happens, though, I turned it into more plastic crack, so I suppose I’ve managed to get something out of it.

I do feel, though, that of all the games that I’ve played, the games that I’ve bought and then sold, this is one that I really regret losing a hold of. FFG stopped publishing the game, of course, but I have recently thought about trying to get a hold of a core set again, maybe a couple of expansion packs, just to recreate some of those happy times! I think Tony has still got his copy though, so I can always raid that to build up some decks and try my luck again when the lockdown is properly lifted!!

We’re approaching GenCon now, of course, which always gets me thinking about the other games from my collection. Gaming isn’t all about the grim darkness of the far future – something that I think I’d like to try to recapture as time goes on. Fingers crossed!

Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Hey everybody,
Yesterday, I finally made the time to watch Man of Steel, a full seven years after its theatrical release! I had been put off this movie for a number of reasons over the years, but I have to say, my short review is that it certainly was an entertaining film, and succeeded in making me both interested and invested in Superman, something I’d previously not thought possible!

The Story
This is an origin story for Superman, but following the initial sequence on Krypton with the birth of Kal-El and the military coup of General Zod, pretty much the entirety of Superman’s origins is told through flashbacks. It was probably the best way of doing this, really, as the origin of Superman is probably the most well-known of any superhero by mainstream audiences, I would have thought.

The first story catalyst seems to be Lois Lane stumbling across Superman’s Fortress of Solitude while pursuing a story, leading her to meeting Superman and wanting to find out more about him. She does so, though it’s hardly the expected montage that we might have expected at this point, and she decides to keep his secret for him.

However, General Zod appears with his followers in pursuit of Superman, attempting to recover a Codex of Kryptonian genetic material that will ensure the survival of their race that Jor-El had sent to Earth with his son. He gives the world 24 hours to turn Superman over to him, or face the consequences, launching a massive FBI/military action to find Lois Lane – who is revealed to know who Superman is.

Seeing the danger he has caused, Superman turns himself over to Zod, but he and Lois manage to escape the Kryptonians, Lois along the way receiving the knowledge of how to defeat them from a projection of Superman’s father. Zod learns that the Codex he seeks has been genetically imprinted within Superman’s DNA, and so attempts to recover him, dead or alive, while launching a direct attack on Earth with his World Engine – a device that will terraform Earth to be a New Krypton. The attack is centred over Metropolis, but Superman manages to destroy the World Engine in the Indian Ocean, which foils the plans over Krypton.

This just makes Zod mad, and so a massive brawl ensues with Superman and Zod coming to blows quite spectacularly – a fight that only ends when Superman breaks Zod’s neck.

Man of Steel

I think I’d been avoiding this movie for far too long! I was under the impression, for some reason, that it was something of a sequel to Superman Returns, though I don’t know where I had that from! The movie effectively launched the DC Extended Universe back in 2013, and made no attempt to connect to previous Superman movies, being entirely its own thing.

Now, I am not a Superman fan, although in recent years I have come to enjoy certain aspects of the character. I think the idea that he embodies the best of humanity, and provides a shining example of goodness, is certainly something to admire. Henry Cavill does a pretty good job, as well. There is something of a repressed/frustrated aspect to his portrayal, where he is holding back his power in order to appear more normal, but his introduction and some of the flashbacks to his youth show him to be not above using his power to help others when he can, even as a teenager. There’s a quiet side to the guy that I really enjoyed, and thought fit in with him as a good person. Seeing him bullied at school, it adds a lot of nuance to the guy, as you know he could have just wrecked those kids with ease. But he is dedicated to using his powers for good, and that is definitely something to admire.

We don’t spend a lot of time on Krypton, but it is shown to be far from the utopia that it was in the Christopher Reeve movies. There’s an excellent article here that shows the influences from the comic books for this movie, and it seems to be The Man of Steel from 1986 that first depicted the planet as a sort of sterile world, where children are grown and not conceived naturally. It’s an interesting idea, and adds an extra layer of depth to the classic discussion of Superman as an alien trying to be a man. It also makes you question Zod’s motives a little bit, when we learn that he’s trying to remake Earth as a New Krypton – why would you want to do that? Zod tells us that he was genetically predetermined for his role as a military leader, and that was all he was ever intended for in life – why would you want a society where free will doesn’t exist?

Man of Steel

I think this movie has got a lot to commend it. The climax, with the attack on Earth and the Superman vs Zod fight, is a bit of an orgy of destruction, for sure, and we were a bit surprised, watching it last night, how badly the CGI effects have held up over the years, but even so! As a Superman origin story, it works really well in terms of the pacing, and I certainly didn’t grow bored waiting for something to happen. Indeed, the pacing felt quite relentless, while somehow still allowing for some character moments to come through. There are some nice flashback scenes of Superman witnessing his adoptive father’s death, for instance, in the middle of the movie where the American government is trying to track him down to appease Zod.

It also works pretty well as a launch pad for the DC movies to come. DC of course were seeming to play a bit of catch-up with Marvel in terms of the movie multiverse, and by the time Man of Steel was released, Marvel had already released the first Avengers movie. However, the whole Marvel vs DC debate has already been done to death, and will no doubt rage on for a while yet. I do like my DC guys, of course, but when it comes down to a consumer level, I think we’re perfectly allowed to like both, if we so wish, without need for infinite comparisons and “Marvel/DC is better because…” There is certainly a darker tone to the DC movies from Zack Snyder, but I think it kinda works for them. Not because they need to be set apart from the Marvel films, just because the stories that they’re telling are, at times, pretty grim. Man of Steel – and Batman vs Superman after it – deals with humanity’s inability to deal with their saviour because they don’t feel they can control him. I mean, that in itself is a fairly grim idea, don’t you think?

8/10, would watch again!

Genestealer Cults: A New Army for 9th Edition

Hey everybody!
So with the news of the new edition coming out this summer, I’ve been going through my vast collection of 40k miniatures, and seeing what I can get rid of, trying to thin out the ranks as we start anew. In doing so, however, I’ve decided to finally make a proper go of things with my Genestealer Cult! I’ve been here before, of course, but I’m currently feeling really positive about this new project, so decided to announce things here, and go through it with regular updates as I proceed!

Genestealer Cults Hybrid Metamorphs

As always with these things, I’m building a list by starting with a unit from the codex, and seeing what I can do to build out from there. I’m starting with the Hybrid Metamorphs, a unit that I’ve always liked the sound of, and had originally built up two years ago for Kill Team. The Hybrids are those cultists who have begun to mutate with more Tyranid bioforms than the usual Acolytes and Neophytes, and are seen as particularly blessed by their fellows. These saint-like creatures are usually deployed very near to the day of ascension, in time to wreak havoc among the planet that has been chosen for the Tyranid invasion.

In the game, these chaps are quite the blender, pretty wholly close combat-orientated, with three attacks base (and four for the Leader). I’ve always found their upgrades quite confusing, as they are swapped out in pairs – talons and claws for whips and claws, or talons and claws for bigger claws… The Metamorph talon gives the bearer one additional attack, which is always nice, as keeping the squad at their basic load-out gives them 21 attacks. However, two of mine have traded their talons for Metamorph claws, so I’m doing myself out of 2 attacks. Sad face.

Genestealer Cults

But things can get really interesting when you start pairing these guys up with stratagems, psychic powers, and the like. Let’s start with the Primus. This guy has got four attacks of his own, but gives +1 to the hit rolls of friendly <cult> models within 6″ in the fight phase. Now, the Metamorph talon allows you to add 1 to hit rolls as well, but a natural 1 will always fail, so let’s put this to the side for now. So my Metamorphs are making 19 attacks, and they’re hitting on 2s. I’ve got a cult icon with my squad, as well, which allows me to re-roll any hit rolls of 1. Nice!

Now, they’re only S4, for sure, but there are two guys in the squad with Metamorph claws, those massive crab things which are S+2. So there are 19 attacks, six of which are S6. Nice!

Without trying to get too far ahead of myself here, I want to include a Patriarch in my list, so he will have to be the warlord. However, I’m planning to spend a command point before the battle for the Broodcoven stratagem, allowing me to pick warlord traits for the Magus and Primus in the list as well. For my Primus, I’m taking the Biomorph Adaptation for +1 strength and +1 attacks. So the Primus is making 5 attacks of his own, hitting on 2s, and his attacks are at S5. Handy!

Let’s leave the Primus for a moment, and turn to the Magus. His sole use here is as a Psychic powerhouse – he knows 2 powers from the Broodmind discipline, but can only attempt to cast one per turn. I’m giving him Might from Beyond, which gives +1 to strength and attacks of units within 18″, and then Psychic Stimulus, which allows units to charge even if they have advanced, and also fight first in the fight phase. For one command point, I can use the Cult’s Psyche stratagem to attempt a second psychic power in my turn. I’m up to 2 CP used now, but my Hybrid Metamorphs are now making 24 attacks, eight at S7 with sixteen at S5.

But I’m not done yet!

In The Greater Good, there is a Hybrid Metamorph-specific stratagem for 1 command point, Violence Unleashed, which gives the unit +1 attack. What’s that, 29 attacks? I’ll take that, thank you very much!

I’m running my army as Cult of the Bladed Cog, whose unique strategem (1 command point) gives exploding hits on 6s. How nice! So that’s a total of four command points used, and I’m sort of banking on two psychic powers going off – the two powers have a warp charge value of 7 and 6, respectively, so I’d hope that it would work out, but I could potentially take a Familiar with the Magus to allow me a third bite at the (psychic) cherry.

I have no real head for probability calculations, so have used a dice roller to give it a try, and rolled an average of six 6s. Now, if you remember that I’m hitting on 2s and re-rolling 1s, so I’m going to be hitting on a lot of these attacks! Assuming that 32 attacks will hit, against T4 models, I’m going to be getting roughly 20 wounds in. My favourite tactic of drowning a unit in saving throws might well work out here!

On top of this, of course, we’ll have the Primus in close proximity, probably making his own five attacks. Interesting…

Of course, this is all fairly theoretical stuff, but it’s always nice to see what sort of things you can do with a unit like this. For info, my Metamorph – Primus – Magus combo costs 209 points (I did think about throwing in a Clamavus for an extra 55 points, to give +1 to advance and charge rolls, helping them get closer, but I’m thinking now that I’d prefer to throw them into a transport to ensure they get to combat unscathed), but I’m now considering making a max-unit of 10 Metamorphs, which would be purely with talons to get that 20 attacks base (30 attacks with all the buffs, which generated an average of three 6s for a potential +33 attacks in the unit, hitting on 2s and wounding MEQ on 3s).

Who knows how 9th Edition will change this up? Genestealer Cults were one of the last codexes published for 8th Edition, of course, so my guess is that they will be hanging around in this form for some time to come.

I’m going to be looking at using some Aberrants, and I am for sure going to be investigating the new Atalan Jackals, as they are some very cool models. I have two boxes of them, so it’ll be fun to see what I can come up with there! I think I’m going to do these sort of update-style blogs as I decide on the pieces of the list, rather than going through a massive run-down once I’ve got the whole thing decided (as I have done for Necrons before!)

So Genestealer Cults will be my 9th Edition army, although Necrons and Drukhari will definitely see play, and I hope that I can continue to paint my Grey Knights, and get started properly with the Sisters. Those are my current plans, but who knows if the AdMech or Black Legion, or any other project will get in the way?!

Thanks for reading, and check back soon for more musings on our four-armed saviours!

Scars

Hey everybody,
It’s been a while! I’ve been working my way slowly through the twenty-eighth novel in the Horus Heresy series, Scars. Written by Chris Wraight, one of my favourite Warhammer novelists, it’s actually a really good read, albeit a bit of an odd one. Originally serialised online back in 2013, the story does have some elements that mark it out as such, such as the occasional recaps.

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The novel, unsurprisingly, features the White Scars legion front and centre (I think the only time we’ve seen them previously was the sixth novel, Descent of Angels). The legion is a bit of an anomaly, as they are still almost always deployed as a single unit, rather than in multiple warbands to multiple fronts. The legion has, up to this point, been deployed on Chondax. We get a lot of background on them, following in particular two initiates and their careers in the legion – one a Chogorian called Shiban, and a Terran called Torghun who was originally intended to join the Luna Wolves. We also follow the primarch himself, Jaghatai Khan, as the pacing is quite broad during the beginning. The system has been cut off with Warp storms, however, leaving the Khan awaiting orders, and his legion subsequently restless.

In contrast, we also see the Space Wolves dealing with the aftermath of the battle on Prospero. While they are licking their own wounds, they are set upon by the Alpha Legion, some of whom board the Wolves’ ships and, when confronted, state that they are doing the Emperor’s work.

When the White Scars emerge from the storms, they receive multiple conflicting orders, including from Rogal Dorn asking for them to join him on Terra for the defense. The Khan, going against all of the orders that he has received, decides to go to Prospero to see for sure if Magnus has been defeated, and in an effort to learn the truth of what is happening in the galaxy. The planet has been utterly devastated, and teleporting down to the surface with his keshig guard, the Khan is beset by psychic ghosts and separated from his bodyguard. He discovers a psychic projection of Magnus however, who confirms that the Space Wolves attacked his legion, although he understands now the reasons for his censure.

While in orbit, it emerges that there are several warrior lodges within the legion, however, and as the novel goes on, it transpires that these lodges are in communication with the Sons of Horus, and believe that their true purpose is to join them in their rebellion. One of the lord commanders of the legion, Hasik, effectively leads a coup on the ships, awaiting the arrival of the Sons of Horus to join them. However, the legion who arrives to support the coup is the Death Guard, with Mortarion joining Jaghatai on the surface in an attempt to convince him to join Horus’ cause.

Needless to say, Jaghatai is not to be swayed, and things are finally made clear as regards what is happening in the universe when Targutai Yesughei, the legion’s chief librarian, arrives with news that the Warmaster has indeed gone over to Chaos, having himself come across some survivors from Isstvan III in the course of his travels across the galaxy.

Horus Heresy Scars

This is actually a really great book, one that I enjoyed a lot. The atmosphere of uncertainty in the galaxy at this time is captured really well, in particular with the use of the Alpha Legion launching their attacks on both the Space Wolves and the White Scars. The inclusion of the Alpha Legion, and their misdirection, was quite a masterstroke really, as their presence is often guaranteed to add to the air of confusion.

There is a fantastic battle sequence when the White Scars punch through the attack of the Alpha Legion – we get to see that they are really a unique legion for their use of speed. They use a lot of pseudo-Mongolian throughout the book, which I was surprised didn’t interfere too much with the telling of the story as things went along. Often with such things, I find them hard-going, but there was obviously just the right amount used that meant it wasn’t hard to keep track!

The book is a little odd in that the story seems to just forget about the Space Wolves around halfway through. Of course, I’m not a Space Wolves fan at all, so I’m not really missing that side of things, but it did feel a bit strange how they were just left out. Anyway! It was really interesting to see the events of the burning of Prospero revisited, too, and to see what has happened to the planet since the attack. Of course, it was a little bit contrived how one Thousand Sons legionary had managed to survive and led the keshig guard to safety, etc, but I suppose the narrative needed something!

Something that I keep coming back to, though, is just how effective the atmosphere of the unknown is here. The Khan really doesn’t know who to trust, and so reverts to his old friend Magnus, with whom he had pushed so strongly for the use of the librarius within the legions. There is a moment of great irony when Yesughei remarks how the Edict of Nikea has effectively hamstrung the loyalists, removing their greatest weapon against the traitors and their Warp-craft. Even though we’re still roughly around the mid-point of the series, there is a sense already of trying to pull together several plot elements from across the wider Heresy, and making a cohesive narrative out of things. Whether that was intentional or not, I don’t know, but it’s really quite remarkable how the author is able to make the book feel like the legion have been sidelined, keeping them apart from the rest of the goings-on in the galaxy, but at the same time pulling together these plot threads to make it all feel like one long story. Bravo, that man!

Overall, though, I thought this was a really fascinating look at the legion that has been somewhat on the sidelines for the series up to now. We’re 28 books in, and only now seeing yet another “new” legion – crazy! Of course, we haven’t really met the Night Lords or the Iron Hands in proper novels, either, which just feels ridiculous now that I think about it!

Black Legion

Hey everybody,
Following on from the first book in the series a few weeks ago, I thought it about time to get on with the second novel in the Black Legion series, simply named Black Legion.

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I must say, while I thought the first book was a pretty slow burn, this one was a lot more dynamic from the start. We’re back with Iskandar Khayon, as he tries to assassinate Thagus Daravek, a warlord of Chaos who has been bringing several warbands to his banner in the way Abaddon has been doing. We’re several years on from The Talon of Horus, and Khayon has been acting as Abaddon’s personal blade, though Daravek has been proving to be particularly difficult to kill. When his most recent attempt on the warlord’s life also fails, Abaddon sends Khayon to the mausoleum world of Maeleum, the world where Horus had initially been buried, on a nonsense mission that led the sorcerer to discover the existence of the Black Templars Chapter, and the seer, Moriana.

Moriana insists on being brought before Abaddon, and causes a slight rift between the new warmaster and his ruling council, the Ezekarion. This is especially true when Abaddon announces that he will lead a crusade into Imperial space, finally breaking the bonds keeping the Black Legion within the Eye of Terror.

Initially, this attempt does not work, as the stresses of the Warp destroy several ships from the armada. What’s more, Daravek catches up with them and a mutual annihilation looks likely. However, Daravek offers to parlay with Abaddon, and the two groups meet on the dead Craftworld of Taial’shara. There, Khayon comes very close to understanding the reasons why his attempts on Daravek’s life have failed for so long, as the warlord appears to have a peculiar hold over him.

Daravek demands Abaddon pledge himself and his forces to his own warband, which Abaddon scornfully refuses, but before anything further can happen, the Warp Ghost Saronos appears, offering to guide either group to Imperial space. While Daravek offers them ships and matériel, Abaddon simply offers them whatever they require, and wins their support. As it happens, Saronos wants their navigators, and while the Black Legion makes it out of the Eye, Khayon’s mentor Ashur-Kai is among those sacrified in the endeavour. However, when Khayon demands that Saronos removes his helm, he reveals himself to have the same face as Ashur-Kai…

Upon escaping the Eye, the Legion is confronted by the Black Templars fleet under the command of Sigismund, whom Abaddon determines to kill in single combat. The Vengeful Spirit is left under the command of Khayon, and Abaddon led the boarding action on the Eternal Crusader. Khayon psychically possesses one of the marines of the boarding party to witness the duel, but is forced to pull back. While the Black Legion has indeed made it out of the Eye, Daravek’s armada has also managed to make it through.

It transpires that Daravek has possessed a piece of Khayon’s soul, which has enabled him to exhibit a particular control over the sorcerer, as well as track him through the Warp. Daravek boards the Vengeful Spirit and massacres his way through the ship in search of Abaddon, who is still aboard the Eternal Crusader duelling Sigismund. Khayon is able to kill Daravek, and while Abaddon kills Sigismund, he is himself grievously wounded.

Black Legion

What a book! I felt like the first book didn’t really get going until Abaddon himself appeared, around two-thirds through. Here, however, the Black Legion is already formed and we’re in the thick of Khayon’s attempt on Daravek’s life. Of course, it is still slow in parts, as we still have the narrative device of the interrogation scenes.

A lot of the characters from the earlier book, such as Lheor and Sargon, are somewhat relegated to bit parts this time around, which on reflection seems a little disappointing. The novel has a much tighter focus, revolving around Khayon’s dealings with Abaddon and Daravek, with little time for much else. We do learn a little more of Khayon’s history, though, and we get some really excellent set-pieces, such as the opening chapter that sees Khayon using a breathtaking array of psychic powers.

Oh, and the void battle scenes… my goodness, there are some fantastic battles!!

I was hoping for a little more lore from the Maeleum section of the book, maybe more on the relationship between the Sons of Horus and the Black Legion. Of course, that section was there to get Moriana to Abaddon, but I feel as though it would have been perfect to see more of that meshing of the two. The fact that this is all I can say against it, though, really attests to how much I enjoyed it!

It’s a really good book, and I feel like it was along the same lines as The First Heretic as being classic Warhammer fiction. It’s making me really excited to see what happens next in the series, and I’m hoping that it comes out sooner rather than later!

All of this talk of Chaos has made me look again at the miniatures that I have for my own Heretic Astartes army. With 9th edition on the way, of course, it’ll be interesting to see how this force (indeed, any force) will work, but I’m hoping that it will be possible to bring along interesting armies with odd bits peppered in. I’m still sticking with the Chaos Cult idea, though perhaps with a few more Marines along the way.

Though I’m really hoping for a Renegades and Heretics army in the new edition!!

The Sequel Trilogy: My Way

Hey everybody!
Way back when, I wrote up some ideas that I’d had to “improve” The Phantom Menace, which at the time seemed like an interesting thought exercise and a useful way to pass the time. Well, in trying to soothe a teething infant the last few evenings, I’ve been giving some thought to the Sequel Trilogy in something of the same manner. I suppose, after watching The Rise of Skywalker again recently, it’s been on my mind how much of a let-down things were. I’m not saying that any of these ideas would actually improve things, of course – I thought it was just an interesting idea to think about, trying to pull together more of the story into something a bit more cohesive perhaps…

Star Wars

So first of all, let’s take The Force Awakens as standing as it is. I don’t think it’s a perfect film, but I do believe it works perfectly fine for setting things up, and the main problems that I have with the sequels have been around the lack of any satisfying pay-off for a number of plot points raised therein.

Now. There are two points that I’d like to bring up from the expanded universe (the new one). The novel Bloodline is truly excellent, and should be read by everyone. Whether it was because it came out around the time of episode seven, when we had very little else to go on, it provided a tremendous amount of background to the political landscape in which that movie takes place. It also – kinda – answers the question of where the First Order came from, and that’s the first point that I feel is a let-down in the trilogy. Secondly, the Aftermath trilogy, while I wasn’t really a fan of the story being told, it nevertheless gives us a lot of information on what happens to the Imperial Remnant, and gives us some background for how Palpatine might have ended up with a massive fleet out in the Unknown Regions.

So, without further ado, and still hitting quite a few of the plot points from around and about the existing films, let’s do this!

Rey and Luke

The Last Jedi is all about recruiting Luke to the cause of the Resistance. Luke realizes that he is somewhat responsible for the death of his old friend Han, since he feels a sense of guilt over Ben’s fall to the Dark Side, and so he heads off with Rey to rejoin the Resistance.

The Resistance themselves flee from D’Qar, with Vice-Admiral Holdo leading a rearguard action to allow the majority of the fleet to disappear. Holdo sacrifices herself, taking out a good portion of the First Order fleet with her. Leia leads her forces to the planet Ajan Kloss, where they regroup and reorganise.

Finn is given a job in military intelligence after his vital part in the destruction of Starkiller Base, as the Resistance tries to get ahead of the First Order and work out what is going on. There he meets his fellow spy Rose, and they’re given the task of infiltrating an old Imperial Archive on Coruscant. At this point, and during this storyline, we’ll be able to learn more of what happened to the Empire after Endor, and maybe some more tidbits about the New Republic, too.

On Ajan Kloss, Luke and Rey arrive and sense a massive connection with the Force – none other than the Whiphid Jedi Master K’Kruhk, who had survived Order 66 through sheer bad-assery and has been secretly biding his time raising a small Jedi enclave far from the reaches of the galactic conflict. Luke and K’Kruhk train together, and develop Rey’s talents alongside the other students and followers of the Whiphid.

Snoke attempts to bolster the First Order following their losses incurred at Holdo’s hand, and sends Kylo Ren to “implement contingency b” or something…

Poe leads a mission to Corellia as a distraction while Finn and Rose head to Coruscant, and inadvertently discovers that Wedge has been informally leading a rebellion of his own there. The First Order comes to investigate and utterly destroys the revolt there, Poe and Wedge barely get out alive. The mission to Coruscant has unveiled a trail that leads to the Unknown Regions, and the movie ends with Finn and Rose coming out of hyperspace above Exegol, where they find the Final Order fleet, and Kylo Ren…

Of course, all of this means that The Rise of Skywalker needs a few changes of its own!

Snoke is the head of a cabal of ex-Imperials and the like who are attempting to resurrect the Emperor through Sith Alchemy. Snoke himself is so badly scarred because of a failed experiment to use his body to channel the dead Palpatine’s spirit years before.

Allegiant General Pryde is the man in charge of the First Order’s operations in the Unknown Regions, having taken over from Brendol Hux. Finn and Rose find him, and Finn tortures him into revealing who he, Finn, is. They learn that Finn was abducted from a crime lord, and flee from the fleet to return to the Resistance.

Leia and co have been attempting to recruit more allies to the Resistance, and Lando returns to the fold when he learns that Han has been killed. He brings a lot of his old underground contacts with him, and when Finn and Rose return with their news, Lando reveals that he knows Finn’s father. Moreover, Poe used to work for him in his days running spice, so they lead a delegation to ask for support. Finn’s father is the head of Kanjiklub, and lends the support of his fleet of smugglers in revenge for having his boy stolen from him, and the Resistance heads off into the Unknown Regions.

Luke leads his band of Jedi against Snoke and the cabal, but he is cut down when the Knights of Ren descend upon him. Kylo Ren redeems himself by dying to save Rey, and Luke’s dying action is to lend his Force spirit to Rey and allowing for her to cut down Snoke.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Rey’s parents really were nobodies, hiding her on Jakku to escape from the Knights of Ren, who stalk the galaxy in search of Force-sensitive children and abduct them for the Sith alchemical experiments. Rey is a pure manifestation of the Force, similar to Anakin. The Force is aware of its internal balance being out of whack, and when one side gets too strong, it will bring forth a balancing power like this.


So there’s my half-baked thoughts on how the sequels could have played out, trying to combine as much as possible but giving things some new slants. There are plenty of things missed out that could have been included, such as the Death Star ruins and Lando’s daughter, and I’m sure Captain Phasma could have been sprinkled in there as well.

Finn feels like a character that was somehow forgotten about after episode seven, but I think making him a part of military intelligence could fit quite well. I do like the idea of Finn being the son of a crime lord, and the link to The Force Awakens and Kanjiklub is something I quite liked at the time I thought of it! It also brings in the underworld element, much like we had with Jabba in Return of the Jedi, and much like the idea of them finding out about the Imperial remnant in the middle film, here Finn and Rose become a catalyst for another info-dump, as we see what happened after Jabba’s organisation fell.

I’d love to have seen the Knights of Ren taking a bigger role throughout both movies, and I’m sure there would be opportunities with more development, but this isn’t precisely the sort of thing I want to spend most of my time working up a script for, or something!

For those who don’t know, Master K’Kruhk was a Jedi Master during the Dark Horse series of comics set in the prequel era, and was brought somewhat to the fore during the Dark Times run as an almost indestructible force of nature. He then showed up in the Legacy series that took place over 100 years after the Battle of Yavin, making him almost a Jedi Perpetual. It’s the storyline from the Dark Times comics that I’m sort of drawing upon here, with him being a patriarch of a Jedi enclave of survivors of Order 66.

At any rate, I thought it was a fun thought exercise on how things might have worked out, if we had something other than that abysmal episode eight, and removing the need to bring back Palpatine to make everything work out in the end.

What do you think? Is this worse than what we got?

#New40k

Well folks, here we are – the prophesied coming of the new age… 9th Edition. I’d heard rumours a few months ago, though a lot of that sounded like speculation. However, today’s the day that we’ve had it confirmed!

What a way to launch a new edition!

From how I understand things, this isn’t strictly a new edition in the sense of 8th Edition, however. More like Age of Sigmar 2.0, this will be a sort of improvement on 8th, streamlining the rules and amalgamating a lot of the new content from Psychic Awakening with the existing codexes, and giving us a new narrative system called Crusade. This last seems like the new thing, providing a way for armies to grow over a campaign, where previous battles matter. That sounds really cool, I must say!

New models are of course a given, and it seems that we’re going to be getting Space Marines vs Necrons in what is likely to be a starter box for the new edition. However, this little beauty is, well… something else…

I honestly never thought we’d get a Silent King, and even with the teaser from a couple of days ago, I was still thinking of the ways in which we might see something else besides a model. But no!

Oh my…

It looks like we’re possibly in for another of these centrepiece models like Katakros for the Ossiarch Bonereapers, or the Triumph of St Katherine. Despite having read a few complaints about these types of diorama-models from the more competitive crowd, who mainly seem to dislike them for transport, they’re clearly quite popular as eye-catching focal points for a collection. I really hope it’s going to be magnificent, and I can’t wait to get one for my collection!

So, this is very interesting. 8th Edition was the first edition I was there for the launch of, having gotten into 40k a couple of months slightly after 7th Edition had landed. There were a lot of promises for the rules to be streamlined in 8th, and by and large that held true for a while, but obviously the additions of the Vigilus campaign, and now Psychic Awakening, have caused a lot of bloat. So we’re definitely in need of some fat-trimming. The video talks about more command points for all, though the stream seemed to imply that you’ll have to use CP to pay for out-of-army allies, which is fine with me because I’d still like to try to play allied armies. We’ll see how that plays out though.

There are definitely some interesting ideas in this preview, though I’m not entirely sure just yet how I feel about the new edition. I mean, I don’t plan on getting out of the hobby, so it’s not like I’m mad about it or anything. But I’m feeling a curious sense of relief, or a sense of having a fresh start… I mean, it seems like the perfect time to thin out the ranks of some of my models, and focus down on those armies that I want to keep…

Necrons are, of course, top of my list, as they always will be, and I’m excited that we’re getting new stuff at last. Grey Knights and Dark Eldar will also be staying with me, and I think I might keep those Primaris Marines after all. But the Tyranids, the AdMech, even the Scions that I’d recently been building a list for – they’re all fair game…

It’s like I’ve got the perfect excuse to have a really good clear-out!

How about everybody else? Excited? Mad? Indifferent?