Grey Knights updates!

No, we’re not getting our codex anytime soon!

A few days ago, I finished reading the second novel in the Grey Knights series by Ben Counter, Dark Adeptus.

Dark Adeptus is the second novel in the Grey Knights series, and we’re once again with Justicar Alaric and an even smaller team of Grey Knights, as they investigate the mysterious reappearance of the planet Chaeronia from the Warp. An added complication is that the planet is a Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and so the Knights are forced to team up with the Tech Priests as they investigate what is happening. Making planetfall, the team discovers that the world has been overtaken by some form of tech heresy, with many of the structures suffused with a biological matter – clearly the Dark Mechanicus has taken root.

It eventually transpires the Tech Priests have been influenced by a daemon that has possessed the artificial intelligence of a Standard Template Construct (STC) for a Titan. The daemon has sent a signal through the Warp to the Warmaster Abaddon, as it feels he is the best recipient for the army of Titans that it has produced. Alaric and his team are able to thwart these plans after a climactic battle, banishing the daemon back to the Warp.

I didn’t think this one was as good as the first book in the series, maybe because it started with such a strange plot device for the Grey Knights to be involved with. The daemon-hunters of the Ordo Malleus, involved in something that has no apparent daemonic link? Hm. As it moved on, though, the story was fine and everything, just seemed to be a bit of a stretch at times as to why the Grey Knights were involved. I think part of me still likes the idea of the chapter operating in absolute secrecy, to the point where they never work with allies without killing them afterwards to preserve that secrecy.

Of course, all of the Adeptus Mechanicus allies end up dead by the end of the novel, so I suppose that’s that taken care of! Interestingly, the foot soldiers of the Mechanicus are referred to as the Tech Guard, as being the almost drone-like meat shields in comparison with the more elite Skitarii troops. The novel pre-dates the current Adeptus Mechanicus line, though, which uses the Skitarii as a similar drone-like foot slogger. Though I do need to stop reading Black Library novels in the mindset of having miniatures for every eventuality!

So while this was a little disappointing after how much I enjoyed the first novel in the series, it is nevertheless good to read about the exploits of the Grey Knights!

My own exploits with the Grey Knights, of course, are less than amazing, although I am quite pleased to announce that I have finally finished painting the Purifier Squad that I had started almost two years ago! I don’t know why it has taken this long, if I’m honest, but it seems to have been the case where I had gotten so far with the models, and couldn’t seem to bring myself to finish them off. It’s the sort of thing that has happened before, of course, but it’s good to have them done.

I still have a long way to go with the army, of course, but I’m looking to get another Strike Squad painted soon, along with a Brother Captain. Maybe the Land Raider will see a coat of silver paint… I might not have the whole army painted by the end of the year, but I’m hoping there will be a lot more painted by the time we get to January 1st!

Decadence & Decay: The Warhammer Preview!

Decadence and Decay

This weekend, we’ve had another Warhammer Preview from the Community team, looking at a whole bunch of stuff from across a multitude of game systems. Let’s take a look!

We’ve got a new campaign coming, which looks like it might be the start of bringing out these lieutenant models that were teased a while ago: Death Guard vs AdMech (with Imperial Knights, and my favourite Drukhari!), which should be fun! I’m a bit curious about the title for the book, “Act One”, which seems to imply there’ll be more where this came from, which sounds a lot like another Vigilus. Remember when we had Shield of Baal, which was a Blood Angels vs Tyranids, with some Necrons and Sisters action on the side? When we had Warzone Fenris that was just Dark Angels, Space Wolves and Thousand Sons? 7th Edition had a lot that needed to be fixed, but at the same time, it was nice when a campaign had a much tighter focus. To me, it doesn’t matter if my Necrons aren’t featured in the current campaign – if I have a different campaign coming up that might have them front and centre instead. By trying to have all of the factions involved, it seems to dilute something from it, and can make a lot of it seem forced. But I guess we’ll see!

Getting back to the Drukhari, though…

Oh man, we’re going to be the first xenos codex of 2021! Hopefully we’ll be able to play actual games with it soon after, too! I’m very excited to see what is on offer, as I’ve heard we’re going to lose that penalty for mixing Kabal, Cult and Coven. I mean, I’d been experimenting with a mixed force that went back to the Index days towards the end of 8th edition anyway, so this will be good to find out more!

We’ve been promised “lethal combat damage across the board” – I hope that transpires to making a lot of the Cult units truly horrible. Whenever I’ve taken Wyches to games, they have rarely (if ever) made up their points in terms of the damage output. I mean, they should be truly terrifying to come up against, but end up just being a bit… meh…

The Dark Angels are also getting their Codex, with promise of more stratagems to hunt the Fallen. I mean… they’re really pushing the theme on this, fair play, but it’s very niche, don’t you think? I’m sure if you’re a Dark Angels player, and have regular matches against Chaos Marines, you’d benefit, but so many of these rules specifically mention the Fallen. I don’t really know what you’re going to expect from the new book, but I’ve definitely moved away from the army (despite loving the aesthetic!)

Okay, let’s get to something that I’m really excited for now! House of Artifice is coming to update House Van Saar in Necromunda, guys!

I am very excited about this! As we’ve seen for three gangs already now, we’ll be getting new leader-types and new juve-types – but my goodness, we’ve got juves on hover boards! I mean, Christ! This looks fantastic!

I’m looking forward to seeing what the rules are around these leaders as well, with their spider-arm weaponry up top there. They look great, and while I do love the main gang box, I do like their posture!

I’ve been somewhat on the fence about the new Direchasm set, although the fact that it has Slaanesh mortal units in there, I will most likely be picking it up in due course! However, these Slaves to Darkness do look really wonderful, and not just for the board game – that sorcerer character looks great, and I think I’ll definitely be picking up a box!

Speaking of Slaanesh, though…

Oh my good god, YES!

Sigvald the Magnificent was the first Warhammer novel I ever read, and I’m probably always going to have a soft spot for him (steady!) This miniature looks utterly amazing, and I absolutely love it. Some of these re-imaginings of Old World characters have been a bit… off… but I really love this new Sigvald – he’s definitely looking magnificent, don’t you think? It’s got just everything, and I really want to get this model…

In case you aren’t sure – I like it!

And this isn’t all for Slaanesh…

We’re getting Slaanesh mortal units! The Myrmidesh Painbringers look like the kind of perfect warriors that I’ve been expecting from the Prince of Pleasure, and I think they personify that excess that the god is all about. Looks like a dual kit, as well, with these Symbaresh Twinsouls:

Where the Painbringers are perfect soldiers, the Twinsouls are just weird. Slaanesh isn’t just about sex and drugs, of course, and there is so much more to explore when it comes to the Dark Prince, I’m so glad we’re now getting to see this.

I thought we were being spoiled when we had all of that good stuff last year, with the new Keeper of Secrets at the head of the range of plastics. Now, we’re finally getting to explore the mortal side of things, and we’re seeing Sigvald at the head of his own Decadent Host! It’s a glorious time to be alive – dare I say, it’s magnificent!!

Beyond Lovecraft

Hey everybody,
Christmas is coming, and inevitably I’m getting into the mood for some mythos tales as I play more of the Arkham Files games and get into that side of things, but I thought it might be interesting to see beyond Lovecraft and investigate some of the authors that have contributed to the mythos, specifically of course, the games!

Let’s start with Robert E Howard, the man who is credited with single-handedly creating the Sword & Sorcery genre. Conan the Barbarian was perhaps his greatest creation, although Howard also wrote weird tales, and weird West stories, and created Solomon Kane and Kull. 

The Haunter of the Ring is an interesting little story that deals with something more akin to black magic than actual cosmic horror. A Hungarian occultist calls forth the dark powers of the haunter to exact his revenge upon the man who stole the woman he loved, by using her as his instrument of vengeance. He gives her a ring that temporarily allows the haunter to take over her body, whereupon she tries to kill her husband. Very weird, some nice mythos elements from aspects such as the magical dabbling, but I think overall it lacks that sort of thrill from the stories that deal with the ancient ones.

The Horror from the Mound is one of Howard’s weird west stories, and concerns the down-on-his-luck cowboy Steve Brill, who notices how his Mexican neighbour skirts a mound and questions him about it. With dire warnings not to investigate it ringing in his ears, Steve impetuously digs up the mound, though is initially dismayed to find it seemingly empty. However, following a shadowy shape to his neighbour’s house, he witnesses the old Mexican being murdered. Returning to his house with the written notes from the Mexican’s hut, Steve learns the mound was constructed to contain the body of a vampire, at which point he looks up and sees said vampire looking through his window! It’s a fantastic pulp story, and is full of suspense and horror. Definitely recommended!!

Next up, we have the almost controversial figure of August Derleth. The man who is responsible for preserving and publishing much of Lovecraft’s work after his death. Derleth had attempted to bind Lovecraft’s mythological creations into a cohesive narrative, the Hastur mythos, though in life Lovecraft rejected the idea. In the years following Lovecraft’s death in 1937, however, Derleth wrote stories that worked towards a single coherent pantheon of Great Old Ones and Elder Gods. Many have since denounced this move, of course, leading to a somewhat chequered reputation for him. 

The Return of Hastur is an odd duck. It has a poor reputation among Lovecraft devotees for being the story that first attempted to classify the mythos by elemental means. An elderly scholar dies, and asks that certain books be destroyed, along with his house. However, his nephew contests this action but subsequently grows to rue that decision, as he learns that his uncle had made a pact to provide a haven for the return of the ancient one, Hastur. For a good chunk of the tale, it actually reads very much like a Lovecraft story, but there are several unfortunate parts that really try too hard to force themselves into the mythos, that it reads like bad fan fiction. I think it was also a very poor decision to include an actual reference to The Call of Cthulhu as a weird tale itself, as it just rang too false for me. I’m not sure that the story deserves quite the amount of hate that has been directed towards it, but I’m equally disappointed that the story is effectively worse for trying too hard.

The Dweller in Darkness bears a very strong resemblance to Derleth’s earlier The Thing that Walked on the Wind, having the setting of a cabin in the woods in the author’s native Wisconsin. The narrator is on the trail of a disappeared academic, and goes up to a cabin on the shunned Rick’s Lake with a fellow graduate student, in an effort to pick up his trail. The trail leads them through several Lovecraftian tropes, we get a link between Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep, and the new Great Old One, Cthugha, a fireball which is depicted in opposition to the other two in Derleth’s pantheon. There are definite shadows from Lovecraft, particularly The Whisperer in the Darkness (recording the otherworldly voices via dictaphone, for example, and the conclusion describing the footprints). I did think it was a good story, and better than the other one, as this definitely tried more to be its own thing. I suppose I just feel disappointed when Lovecraft’s stories are brought into the story as support for the eldritch horror that lurks.

Finally, we come to Clark Ashton Smith, another of Lovecraft’s correspondents, whose reputation rests as much on his poetry as his weird fiction. Prolific as a writer, Smith created the prehistoric world of Hyperborea, as well as the “Dying Earth” continent of Zothique, writing many tales in these and other settings.

I read The Seven Geases specifically because I wanted to read the first mention of Atlach-Nacha, the “dream weaver” that looms large in the mythos. I had no real idea what to expect, if I’m honest, and the tale is definitely one to be filed under W for weird! It forms part of Smith’s Hyperborea story cycle, the legendary continent once situated in the present Arctic before the Ice Age. The land is lush jungle, populated by dinosaurs and the ape-like Voormi, before human settlers arrived from elsewhere on Earth. One such settler, Lord Ralibar Vooz, is leading a hunting expedition onto Mount Voormithadreth when he interrupts the sorcerer Exdagor, who places upon him a “geas” or curse, to present himself to the subterranean god Tsathoggua as a sacrifice. It turns out, however, that Tsathoggua is quite full from a recent sacrifice, so sends Vooz under a second geas to the spider-god Atlach-Nacha, who is far too busy spinning his webs to deal with Vooz’ arrival, so sends him to the “antehuman” sorcerer Haon-Dar, whose minions imprisoned within the walls and floor of his palace would not be properly sated by eating Vooz, so he sends him to the Serpent People, who are advanced scientists and already have a human specimen, but don’t have any use for him, and on it goes. 

The story is meant as a comedy, with a fairly silly and blunt ending that made me wonder just what on earth I’d been reading! But when I understood that it’s meant to be a sort of darkly comic parody, I could actually appreciate it as quite enjoyable. It’s particularly noteworthy as being the first mention of both Atlach-Nacha and Abhoth (who places upon Vooz the seventh geas) in the mythos, Ancient Ones who loom large within the wider Cthulhu mythos. While other writers have more fully fleshed-out Atlach-Nacha into the “dream-spinner” we all know and fear, Abhoth is pretty much here what he/she has always been since.

The Hunters from Beyond is much more ‘classic’ mythos, dealing with strange, extra-dimensional beings who have been serving as models for an artist, although recently they have been acting with a bit more independence. It sounds familiar because it is modelled after Pickman’s Model, of course, but I thought it worked quite well with a certain element of suspense brought about, not because the end was in any real doubt, but more because of the expectation of it, if that makes sense. It’s also worth noting the narrator is one Philip Hastane, who has cropped up as an ally in a few Arkham Files games to date!

I’ve definitely enjoyed delving beyond my favourite, HP Lovecraft, though I will certainly be taking the time this Christmas to once more delve into the mythos and read some more weird fiction!

Grey Knights: let’s talk Paladins

Hey everybody,
Following on from last week’s post about the Grey Knights, as I get ready for something of a major push towards finishing as many of these minis as I can by the end of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the list that I have and what I can do with it to field an army at the 1500-points mark, and have come up with something that I am quite excited for, so thought I’d talk about it here today!

There was quite a bit of talk in last week’s blog about the idea of the Paladin bomb, and while I have expanded the list a little with a second box of these chaps, this isn’t actually something that I’m going to be focusing on too much – principally because of the points cost for these guys! However, I have taken the opportunity of a second box to fill out the squad to five men, and have used the other bits to create a Paladin Ancient, the banner-bearer that gives nearby models +1 attack. 

Having five Paladins does give me the option to equip two of them with special weapons – the wording on the datasheet in the current Codex does actually say “two”, and not “up to two”, which means that you can’t just put one in there, unfortunately. Paladins are 50 points each, and the weapons just add to that, so given that the current build of daemon hammer and two with pairs of falchions just screams melee-orientated unit, I didn’t then want to spend points on giving them ranged weapons that they wouldn’t be able to use when the unit got into combat. True, the special weapon only replaces the storm bolter, so they are still able to be equipped with melee weapons, but it’s all additional points that I’d rather spend elsewhere. I’ve gone for two additional guys with halberds, as the +1 attack for paired falchions is nice, but really, the +1 strength from the halberd should be very nice as well, so it’s a decent blend of attacks in there (especially with the daemon hammer hitting at S8!).

The choice of psychic powers for each unit is also really offensive. The Paladins have Purge Soul, which is almost like a leadership contest between the squad and their target. The Paragon, the sergeant for the Paladins, is Ld9, which is only one point above a marines’ sergeant, however, the important note here is that the Paladins will be running around with the Ancient in tow, giving them +1 to their Leadership value. There is potential for a couple of mortal wounds on a decent roll, here, I feel! Speaking of the Ancient, he has Inner Fire, one of the powers from the new Dominus discipline, which lets him roll a number of dice equal to the value of the psychic test for the power, and deal a mortal wound for each 3+ rolled. 

Having units that can take part in every phase is a big draw for the Grey Knights, and is why I think they are so expensive as models. If all of those psychic powers come to pass, they could be doing upwards of 6 mortal wounds to a unit before they even shoot anything! Everyone has a storm bolter, of course, so within 12″ of an enemy unit that’ll be 10 shots from the Paladins and another 2 from the Ancient, hitting on 3s and likely wounding on 4s, then the juicy stuff happens when they’re in combat. Each Paladin has got 3 attacks, but the banner from the Ancient gives them +1 attack if the model is within 6″ of it – so best-case scenario, we’re looking at 20 attacks. There are two models equipped with falchions, so we’re now up to 22 attacks. The Paragon will be using his four attacks to hit on 2s with a S8 AP-4 D6 weapon (with 3 damage, minimum), which should be nice! The falchion-guys will be using their 10 attacks hitting on 3s and wounding on 4s (most likely), while the halberds will be making 8 attacks wounding (potentially) on 3s. Both the halberds and falchions are AP-2, as well, and D3 damage each. 

Stratagems for the Grey Knights are not particularly fantastic, if I’m being wholly honest, but there are some useful things hidden away that can bolster the knights of Titan, and thinking about the Paladins in particular, there is help to keep them alive by reducing damage dealt from ranged attacks (for 1CP), once they’re in combat there’s a stratagem to give them +1 to hit rolls (for 1CP), you can keep any Paladins on the battlefield until they have had a chance to fight back (for 2CP), and the classic Honour the Chapter will allow the unit to fight again (for 3CP). 

Some really interesting options in there, I feel – and all of this is just through the use of those six models. The Chaplain’s litanies, and the Grand Master’s Rites of Battle ability, can allow them to re-roll hit rolls, should those characters be nearby as well. It is difficult to get the kind of crazy aura shenanigans of some armies with the Grey Knights, for sure, but I do like the fact that you can still get some really interesting stuff going on for them.

As a bit of a footnote for this, Paladin squads have the Combat Squads ability, meaning that you can take a unit of 10 models and, before the battle, split them up into two units of five models. Given the fact that you can take two special weapons for every five models, this allows you to break up a squad into melee-orientated and shooting-orientated. However, the points investment for this kind of squad is ridiculous – almost 600 points for the ten-man unit. It’s definitely cheaper to take a Purgation squad if you want ranged firepower in the list, as the weapons alone cost cheaper when equipped to a non-terminator model. Sure, you get the terminator stat-line on the Paladins, but the weapons aren’t any more accurate when equipped to the bigger guys, so while this option did at first intrigue me, I don’t think I’m going to be rushing to build four psilencer-wielding Paladins anytime soon! 

Ravenor Returned

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Last month, I finished reading the second book in Dan Abnett’s Ravenor trilogy, which I think in many ways surpassed its predecessor with just how brilliant it is! The book sees the Inquisitor return (unsurprisingly!) to Eustis Majoris, to further his investigation into the illegal Flect trade that seems to be centred on that world. The members of Ravenor’s team infiltrate their way back on-planet, and set up shop in a town house in order to continue their operation, each member working in a different role in the Administratum building to gain some insight into what the Magistratum is doing with the imported cogitators from the Mergent Worlds.

Patience Kys is working to transcribe what appears to be gibberish when she passes out, to be promptly hauled off for interrogation, being asked repeatedly for what word she saw or tasted when she fainted. It turns out that the Magistratum is attempting to unlock the Chaotic language Enuncia, and certain phrases and grammar can be found within the Chaos-tainted logic engines recovered from the Mergent Worlds. Enuncia gives the speaker the power to re-shape the world around him, causing reality to shift or allowing for a pretty powerful physical attack, although it does cause problems for the speaker, such as nosebleeds or worse.

Remember Ravenor’s arch-nemesis Zygmunt Molotch, from the prologue of the first novel? He was attempting to recover more of the Enuncia lexicon when Ravenor’s team caught up with him. As it happens, we learn that Molotch is indeed behind the goings-on here on Eustis Majoris, also! Through Chaotic means, Molotch had been wearing the face of the Lord Governor Barazan, and manipulating the Minister for Subsector Trade, Jader Trice, into using the power of the Magistratum to further his plans.

***

The second book in a trilogy can often lapse into “bridge syndrome”, where it exists purely to provide a bridge between the set-up of book one, and the conclusion of book three, and there are very few trilogies out in the wild that are able to handle a middle book well. Ideally, I suppose, the story should broaden out, we should get to see more character development, but the pace shouldn’t really slacken off from the first one – and this is exactly what we get here. Arguably, a lot of the character development went on in the first book, anyway, but we get location development, in that we learn more of the planet and its various organisations and institutions. We get some new characters, who seem to be set to continue on as part of Ravenor’s retinue into book three, as well, but the main thing that is notable about Ravenor Returned is the breadth of story in here.

There is a lot of intrigue going on, with competing Chaos cults on the planet and a deepening of the Contract Thirteen storyline from the earlier book. As was the case last time, we get the terrific sense of atmosphere from the hive world, as well, with some really evocative descriptions being given that bring the world to life. It’s all just delightfully gothic and incredibly evocative!

One of the plot elements of the story is that the hive itself is laid out in some deliberate manner by the heretical architect Thedor Cadizky, in a storyline very reminiscent of the original Ghostbusters movie, where the tower block is built along paranormal lines to specifically channel the occult. I thought that was quite a nice touch, somehow, as it lends a sense of history to the plot, somehow.

A secondary plot-thread deals with the Magistratum Marshall, Maud Plyton, who almost stumbles on to the conspiracy when investigating a supposed suicide. The storyline is actually really interesting, and serves as a nice counterpoint to Ravenor’s investigation, adding more pieces to the puzzle without revealing too much until we’re nearer to the end. Maud joins Ravenor’s retinue at the end of the book, so I’m expecting to find out more about her in the third novel of the series, anyway.

I’m not sure what else there is to say about this one, really, other than to go out there and read it! It’s such a good book, full of intrigue and rich in detail – it’s one of those things that just reminds me why I love 40k so much!

Dipping into Madness…

Hey everybody,
Today is once again game day here at spalanz.com, as I was lucky enough to get some time to myself yesterday where I could actually play some games! I know, it was quite spooky really! My daughter is now thirteen months old, and is certainly in more of a routine where I can plan stuff like this, so it was definitely time to grab that while I could!

I managed two games, along a similar theme, and it was just glorious.

First up, we have Eldritch Horror. This is one of my all-time favourite games of globetrotting mystery and supernatural dread, although it suffers somewhat for being such a juggernaut to set up! This time around, it took some time for me to get back into the swing of things, although I think it was literally just one round for each of the investigators – Mark Harrigan and Diana Stanley – before it all came flooding back, and I was off! I chose these investigators because I had finally actually read that little introductory blurb at the start of the rulebook, where it seems to be the pair of them looking into the weird occult mysteries of the world…

I followed this up with Arkham Horror LCG, a game that I have been trying to get back into for a couple of weeks now. I have built two new decks since I last played back in the summer of 2019 (when I actually ran through the entire Dunwich Legacy campaign). Roland Banks is the first investigator that I ever used, and even though I’ve not exactly played this game a lot, I have something of a soft spot for him all the same. Akachi Onyele is usually a very powerful investigator in the other Arkham games, though I’ve played two games with this duo now and it’s clear already that she really needs the right spells out to be any good. That’s probably a bit harsh, but in the game yesterday, I noticed particularly how she just couldn’t really do anything before I had Wither out, whereupon she became more of a tank than the Guardian investigator!

I’ve really gotten back into the whole Cthulhu mythos and Arkham Files games lately, and part of me is now really annoyed with myself for having sold off my Arkham Horror 2nd edition collection last year. I got a good price for it, don’t get me wrong, but it was such a good game, and I never got round to featuring each one of the expansions on the blog before it went.

However, I’ve found myself looking into getting the 3rd edition for Christmas, so that will be quite nice when the festive season is finally here! Definitely need stuff to look forward to as we’re on the cusp of a new lockdown, as well!

Eldritch Horror was just lovely to get back on the table, I must say. I’ve still got a couple of expansions for that game to feature up here, so I’m thinking that I’ll get back into the tradition of looking at those roundabout Christmas time! Indeed, playing yesterday’s game was mostly about getting back into the game so that I could look at playing the expansions – seems like I’ve only played some of them once or twice, but The Dreamlands box is still in the shrinkwrap! I’m really behind with the times here.

I kinda fell away from the Arkham Horror LCG last year, thinking that I was barely playing it anyway, so didn’t buy any of the Dream-Eaters cycle as I had three full campaigns still to play through. However, I’m now thinking that I need to catch up with it all! I’d spent a few days recently looking into it all as if from scratch, and have sleeved all of my cards and bought the ‘Return to’ boxes to make sure everything is stored up properly, so I’m really finding myself quite hungry for more now!

Having taken that time to get to know the game again, though, I can definitely see myself playing this one for a long time yet. It seems as though the Dunwich Legacy campaign is fairly tame in comparison to some of the later ones, and a lot of people seem to favour the Path to Carcosa set, so I’m thinking that my next proper foray will be there – everything is ready for me, anyway!

Interestingly, now that Lord of the Rings has finished, I’m finding myself almost moving away from that game in favour of this one. For sure, I’m not going to be sacking off my collection of the older game, as I’ve had far too much fun with it over the years to want to be without it, but I think that game did seem to suffer a little for the designers’ efforts in making it more challenging. Mirkwood and Dwarrowdelf are still the high watermark for me, although I’ve not played so many cycles from the game I could be selling it short. However, with Arkham, it seems to have been designed as fairly tough from the outset, but the variable difficulty of the Chaos Bag allows for it to still be enjoyable. In fact, as I think I’ve talked about before, the game really benefits from not being a simple kill-the-monsters sort of thing that Lord of the Rings can sometimes become – the encounter deck for Arkham is very often full of treachery cards, with just a couple of enemies to keep things interesting. There are so many different moving parts in the game that keep things moving, so that the formula allows for much greater variety on the whole.

Like I say, I’m not getting rid of Lord of the Rings, but I do feel that Arkham Horror has overtaken it in my affections lately!

Grey Knights, 2020 Edition!

Hey everybody!
It’s that time of year when I start to get back into the Grey Knights army, and I think after yesterday’s reflections on the hobby goals from this year, as well as starting to read the second book in the Grey Knights omnibus, I’m really back in the mood for the knights of Titan!

This year, I’ve not yet managed to get very far with my original plans for painting up an actual army of these guys. Of course, I’ve expanded out my guys from merely having that Grand Master painted, and now have the Chaplain and a Strike Squad painted, but I feel like I definitely need to get more models painted!

As a finished squad, I think they look great, which I hope will prompt me into finishing more and more of these chaps as I go! I have a mostly-painted Purifier Squad still hanging about as well, so I do need to get on with those guys, as it’s been almost two years that they have been waiting. Definitely need to crack on there.


Having a look at the models that I have right now, I’m quite surprised at just how many points that I can field. Of course, some bits and pieces have gone up a bit since 8th, but I’m hovering around the 2000-point level, when I throw in the Stormraven Gunship and the Land Raider Crusader that I’ve saved from the Dark Angels cull. Trying to fit this into something approximating an actual army, though, I’ve so far got my list up to 1300 points:


Thinking about how I could bring this up to 1500 points, I might get some more Paladins in there, although I am quite keen on another Purgation Squad, all-incinerators.


With the new rules from Ritual of the Damned, I’ve been seeing some interesting tactical ideas around the famed Paladin-bomb, tooling a full squad of ten with four special weapons, probably Psilencers for the weight of shots, and buff them with the new psychic powers to wreak havoc:

Four psilencers is 24 shots hitting on 3s, and at S4 they’re most likely going to be wounding on 4s, with no AP and D3 damage each. The new powers and litanies, however, you can boost the range of the weapon to 30″ with one chaplain, you could improve the AP to -1 with a second chaplain, and you could re-roll hits if the enemy is within 15″. This is in addition to the pre-existing psychic power that lets you target an enemy unit that isn’t visible to the shooter. Paladins are of course Terminators, so they can be targets for the new Fury of the Proven stratagem, which gives them +1 to hit, in addition to the older Psychic Onslaught stratagem that can give the weapon +1 strength and a further AP improvement to -2. I mean, this is going to be a horrendous investment of points – that 10-man Paladin Squad alone is 508 points! – but it could be a glorious moment in the battle!

I’m not sure where I want to take the force yet, but I’m definitely going to try and paint up more of the models that have been languishing in disarray for the last twelve months or more – stay tuned for more updates on this one, as well as the review of Dark Adeptus once I’ve finished that one!

Hobby Goals: 2 months left!

Hey everyone,

So following on from my hobby goals blog at the start of the year, I thought it would be good to take a look at how things have gone, with just two months left! Seems a bit weird, I know, but I thought it’s as good a time as any to check in, and see if I have any chance of actually accomplishing these things between now and New Year.

1. Paint up those Grey Knights!
Well, I’ve not got a massive force of the Knights of Titan painted up, but I have actually spent some time this year painting up these guys! Autumn-into-winter is usually the time when I start looking at the army once again, of course, so it’s entirely possible that I will, in fact, paint up some of these gentlemen by the end of 2020.

I’m really pleased to have gotten the first Strike Squad painted up, and I think I’ve actually done a pretty decent job of things, even if I say so myself! True, the Nemesis weapon effect isn’t as good as some peoples’, but it’s bright enough that I think it makes a statement! The mixture of silver, gold and red is a really nice combo, I feel, and like I say, I’m just chuffed that I managed to get them done! 

I’ve also done this chap! The special edition chaplain in terminator armour has come out really nicely, I feel – again, another one where I think I’ve done a really good job, though I don’t mean to sound arrogant! I just think it’s at the top end of my painted miniatures, so I’m really pleased with the result!

However, that is all that I have done for the army so far. I’d like to think I might be able to paint up those Purifiers before the end of the year, as they have been almost-done for nearly two years now. 

2. Finish off the odd Drukhari stuff that I have hanging about
I’ve done nothing for this. Well, I’ve sold off a bunch of kits that I don’t think I need to keep hold of, and I’ve finally bought some plastic Incubi. But otherwise, I’ve not touched Drukhari all year…

3. Necromunda, generally!
Okay, so I’ve inched further along the road on this one, trying to paint up the Orlocks (again) and the Delaque, as well as starting on the Corpse Grinder Cults, but in some really big news, a guy I know locally has decided to get into it as well, so I’m finally looking at the possibility of playing some games! He’s gone for the Orlocks, so I’m toying with either Van Saar, for which I have at least six painted gangers, or else going with the Delaque guys. In preparation though, I’ve been planning scenery builds and I’m intending soon to try out the solo scenario that was published by GW during the first lockdown. Watch this space!

4. Blackstone Fortress – play a full campaign!
I’ve still only played the game once. Hm. Earlier in the year, I fully intended to have a game, but it took so long to set up, I just didn’t have it in me to then start moving the pieces around. However, I really enjoy it as a fairly simple game engine, exploring all of the wonderful side-factions of the 40k universe, from the Traitor Guard to all manner of weird and wonderful aspects of the Imperium. It’s definitely not going away for me, especially now that I’ve been hunting down almost all of the expansions (still not managed to get No Respite, though I’m not going to beat myself up over it). I think, where this particular goal is concerned, the massive nature of the game has seen it lose out to other board games when I’ve been in the mood to play something different. 

5. Try to thin out the unpainted/unwanted models
This one has been quite the success! I have already mentioned clearing out some Drukhari models, but I’ve also been clearing the decks of the Deathwing, and the Novamarines. True, I’ve then turned that cash into more plastic, but I’ve got so much more to clear out, there is always a chance that I’ll actually be able to keep hold of the money for when I actually want something… 

I’ve not quite been able to bring myself to make a decision about the AdMech that I mentioned in January, although I think some of the other stuff might yet be put up on ebay, such as the Tempestus Scions. 

6. Finally – try to work on what I have had lying around for ages!
This one has been a bit lacklustre – the Grey Knights success aside. In truth, I haven’t painted up a great deal of models this year. I’ve made some major headway, though, with my Necrons – possibly in part due to the new edition! 

So far, this year, I have fully painted:
– Necron Overlord and five Immortals
– Blood Angels Devastator Squad
– Grey Knights Terminator Chaplain
– Grey Knights Strike Squad
– Black Legion Master of Possession

And that is it! Terrible. Of course, some of these things are really quite good, even if I say so myself, so I am quite pleased with what I have done… I just wish I had done more! I’ve had some problems with motivation though, which I talked about earlier in the year, and which have returned in recent weeks, where I’ve almost been moving away from GW stuff – so I’m quite pleased that I seem to be getting some of that motivation back after writing this blog!

At any rate, there are still two more months of the year left, and there are plenty of models that I have made a start with, so maybe by the end of the year I’ll have a couple more to add to this list!

What’s New?!

Hey everybody!
Well, it feels like a long time since I’ve had the time for some rambling here on the old blog, but there seems to be so much going on right now, even considering the ongoing global pandemic, that I feel I just have to try and catch up with it all!

Of course, it was the Warhammer Preview again today, and we’ve seen a bunch new boxed games coming from the vaults of Nottingham, such as the new Blood Bowl, and the next season of Warhammer Underworlds:

Forget about the Lumineth – we’re getting Slaanesh cultists, even a Slaangor!

Look at these guys! They look amazing, so perfect and stuff. Exactly what I would want to see from Slaaneshi cultist models. Have we got all the flavours of Chaos cultists now? I really hope that this signifies the release of actual Slaanesh mortal cultist models – for years, all that we’ve had are the Hellstriders, we definitely need more. With these, and the upcoming boxset with Daughters of Khaine, it seems like Slaanesh is firmly back in the frame!

I still haven’t even tried Warhammer Underworlds, but I won’t let that stop me grabbing this for the Slaaneshi chaps!

So, I wasn’t expecting this. In truth, I don’t know what to make of it, either. Warcry is fast becoming Age of Sigmar: Skirmish, and it feels a bit wrong. I mean, one of the best things about the game is how much it is focused on the Chaos warbands in the Varanspire, vying for the attention of Archaon. Hm. At any rate, Warcry is getting battletomes, which seems to be an effort to combine what happened with the Tome of Champions and peppering in stuff like the Monsters and Mercenaries book, and the White Dwarf articles. Interesting.

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Is your Kill Team ready to enter the Pariah Nexus?

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And what’s more, there’s this! It seems there’s been a lot of talk about what is in store for Kill Team with the new edition of 40k out in the wild. Well, it hasn’t been forgotten, at least! But while we’re seemingly getting Marines vs Necrons, I’m hoping that we’re going to get something similar to the Rogue Trader box of yesteryear, with the Inquisition getting some amazing new plastics! Well, hope springs eternal…

What else?

The last adventure pack for Lord of the Rings LCG has been released, and I’m a bit sad by that fact! I mean, let’s talk about this for a moment; I haven’t played it for quite some time, and I certainly haven’t played some of the later cycles, so I certainly have a lot still to get through, regardless of the fact that it’s finished! I think the latest pack that I’ve played up to is the Haradrim cycle, although it’s all very patchy following the Ringmaker cycle… I’ve got plenty more years of this game left to me, anyway!

I’m really feeling in the mood to get into the Arkham Horror LCG again though, as it’s been well over twelve months since I had the run through the Dunwich Legacy cycle, and Innsmouth is of course a classic location for the mythos. I really need to get to grips with this game, as it’s such a great way to get my Lovecraft fix!

However, for the time being, I’ve been thinking about trying to actually accomplish something as we’re heading into Lockdown number two, and I’ve been thinking about finally getting some of the Ossiarch Bonereapers models that I was so excited about last year. I mean, sure, I’ve got plenty to be getting on with, but I thought it might be nice to get a bit of a special project going on – and it’ll give me something to focus my Arkhan the Black around! So stay tuned for that!

Ravenor

Well, this review is well overdue, but I’m finally getting my act together now that the nights are drawing in!

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#nowReading

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A kind of tie-in to Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn series, Ravenor is the first book in the eponymous trilogy, following the Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor. As you may know, Ravenor appeared for a brief time at the start of Malleus, the second novel in the earlier trilogy, where an attack left him at the brink of death. It’s actually been a fair few years since I read that book, though I feel like the novel left it a bit open as to whether Ravenor had in fact been killed.

Ravenor begins with a prologue that shows Ravenor and his crew pursuing the heretic leader Zygmunt Molotch as he investigates the Enuncia carvings (this isn’t very important to the novel in question, but comes to prominence later in the series). The main meat of the novel begins with the squad on the hive world of Eustis Majoris, the subcapital of the Angelus subsector. Ravenor and his team, comprising Carl Thonius, Patience Kys, Kara Swole, and Harlon Nayl. They are investigating the illegal Flect trade, a kind of narcotic glass that seems to be rife throughout the hive. During the course of their investigations, Nayl comes across the young Zael, an addict with psychic potential, while Patience and Carl attempt to inveigle themselves into the confidences of a local dignitary – both lines of inquiry leading to different dealer names, however during the course of their investigation the dignitary overdoses. The official Magistratum investigation into this death is observed psychically by Ravenor, but he is attacked on the astral plane by the Magistratum psyker Kinsky.

Ravenor himself makes planetfall, now confined to a life-preserving suspension chair, along with further members of his team, Mathuin and Frauka, the latter a psychic blank along the lines of Bequin. The trail leads to the Carnivora (CAR-CAR-CARNIVORA!) and the team infiltrate the spectacle in an effort to find Duboe, the man implicated in the Flect trade. They apprehend Duboe, but then are themselves taken to Lord Govenor Barazan’s palace, where they meet with Jader Trice, head of the Ministry for Subsector Trade. He offers them the information that has been officially gathered on Duboe and the Flect trade, which seems to lead into Lucky Space – so-named because you’d be lucky to survive a trip into the area. They are also given Magistratum liaisons, including Kinsky.

Things begin to unravel in Lucky Space, and the team learns that the Flects are brought in by a cartel of Rogue Traders (calling themselves Contract Thirteen) from the interdicted Mergent Worlds, planets that had disappeared in a Warp Storm, but have since recently reappeared with the irrevocable taint of Chaos. The Flects are basically Warp-soaked shards of glass that shattered from the windows of the hive world of Spica Maximal. Kinsky inevitably turns on Ravenor and his retinue, but the Inquisitor is able to overpower the Magistratum officials and the team defeats the Rogue Trader Kizary Thekla, who had been operating under the Magistratum’s authority to recover logic engines and cogitators from the Mergent Worlds, revealing a level of corruption that leads back to Trice. While the authorities believe Ravenor and his team to have been killed out in Lucky Space, the Inquisitor arranges for passage back to Eustis Majoris. In secret, Carl Thonius tries a Flect…


Ravenor is excellent. It’s one of those books that just screams to me with everything that I love about the Warhammer 40k universe. The first part of the novel takes place on the hive world, where the claustrophobic feel of the place comes across just so well, it really feels like a grey and miserable, heavy place, from the acid rain to the hive scum. In very short order, we really feel the oppression of the place, it’s really quite remarkable. I suppose around the same time that I was reading this in July, I was deep into Necromunda again, trying to get my head around the rules, and so on, so that was a real bonus for me as I was really in the mood for that kind of story. As the story moves on, it doesn’t give much opportunity for rest, as the conspiracy continues and the mystery deepens. Things are a bit cramped on the journey to Lucky Space, but the action never lets up, and things get pretty explosive at the end.

I just can’t recommend this book enough. It definitely ticks the boxes for me as a fan of the wider lore of the 40k universe and, while there may not be a space marine in sight, it’s just fascinating to see the story of an Inquisitor and his retinue unfold with the “little people” of 40k along for the ride. It certainly has that Necromunda feel to it, although of course that’s not really the point of the book, but it will definitely appeal to those sensibilities. I’ve recently started to read the second in the trilogy, Ravenor Returned, and it’s interesting to see how, only a short way into the novel, some of the things that were set up earlier are being developed, in a much more tight-knit manner than the earlier Eisenhorn trilogy. I feel like the Ravenor books might prove to be more akin to the one-long-story type of trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!