Warhammer Fest 2021

Hey everybody,
Warhammer Fest 2021 has been and gone, and there have been some fairly mixed reviews on the internet overall, with a lot of people seemingly disappointed with the fact that the hyped 6 days of previews didn’t live up to expectations. While that is perhaps true, and the event didn’t really have the usual feel of these preview events as being ground-shaking, there’s still a lot to talk about here! So let’s get to it!

Warhammer 40,000
To start with, let’s talk 40k. Over the six days, there were two devoted specifically to 40k, the first seeing a collation of the various Adepta Sororitas previews that we’ve had over the past few weeks and months, plus a few extras of course. Looks like the warsuit thing is coming in a squad of three, and there will be the new Celestian squad with the maces and shields.

The weird thing about all of this is, we’re getting a High Lord of Terra! Weird, right? Well, I guess anything is possible.

It’s always exciting when an army gets new stuff though, isn’t it? So however weird these things are, let’s just enjoy the fact that the Sisters range didn’t just get a plastic overhaul back in 2019; they’re now being fully developed as a faction.

Sisters will be getting their Codex soon, and the next chapter in War Zone Charadon is on its way, and will come with rules for Be’lakor in the 41st millennium, which is pretty exciting, and it’ll be coming out alongside a terrain expansion that seems to have all of the Sector Mechanicus stuff that has been hard to find for quite some time now!

The second day for 40k reveals came on day five, and we’ve got more Orks coming, those squig-riding things and a couple of new characters.

In addition, there is going to be a reboxing of Cadian Shock Troopers to give them more diversity, more faces and the like.

Not a new kit, though, which everybody has been clamouring for for years. Ah well! But we have also seen this little teaser:

I must admit, I’ve been turning away from the light of the Emperor of late, and preparing to embrace the fact that I’m a xenos player through and through. However, now that we’re seeing some Grey Knights on the horizon, however distant that may be, I’m thinking I need to wait and see what’s coming before I do anything too hasty!

That wasn’t all for the 41st millennium though, as day three brought us a bit of a surprise (for me, at least!) – Gaunt’s Ghosts are getting new miniatures!

I did not expect this! There are another raft of novels on the way, including two more Warhammer Crime anthologies! I’m a little disappointed to find out that they’re anthologies – although one apparently had a novella in there – but it’s still very good to have more of this stuff! Grim Repast, “a Quillon Drask novel”, sounds like it should be good though. I just hope that we see Black Library make good on these books that are sold as “a (character) novel” and give us more of that same character in future books.

Boxed Games
Day four was all about boxed games, and we saw some upcoming stuff for Direchasm, Necromunda and Aeronautica Imperialis. The latter doesn’t really interest me, though I do think it’s kinda funny that it’s being marketed as the plastic thunderhawk that people have been asking for for years.

Necromunda previews consist of the House of Shadows, and the Delaque specialists. I am very excited about this particular release, as they really have become my preferred gang! The new models are just as weird as I’d hoped they’d be, with a couple of gribblies such as that weird flying brain thing. Definitely the sort of thing that I’d expected from Delaque!

For Direchasm, we’re getting the Idoneth Deepkin warband, though everyone has been going crazy for the crab mini!

Which brings us nicely on to…

Age of Sigmar
I’ve saved this until last because it was probably the biggest part of the week of previews – outside of the crab, of course. Day One saw the remaining previews of the Soulblight Gravelords miniatures, which look truly like the stuff of nightmares:

These models tie in quite strongly with Warhammer Quest: Cursed City, which is quite sad because that game has disappeared entirely in a whimper that wholly belies the ceremony and hype that had been lavished upon it prior to release! A lot of people – myself included – had hoped there would be some kind of official word on this game coming from one of the days, but despite hundreds of comments in the twitch chat asking about it, no mention has been made whatsoever. Shame.

The fourth Mortal Realms book has also been announced: Kragnos is a huge Beastman-type, and the book will be coming with all those cool new models that have been shown off, such as the flying Slaaneshi thing, the new Lord Kroak and more. Mortal Realms then draws a line underneath Age of Sigmar 2nd edition, as the Sixth and Final Day of previews has given us the big news (that so many people had already guessed) – third edition is on its way!

This model is just wonderful, and I won’t lie, it’s got me pondering starting a Stormcast army!

She’s a new type of Lord-Celestant, or something – I didn’t really watch the stream, although I caught bits of this one as I was putting my daughter to bed. The interesting thing, for me, is that the lore has the armies of Order finally reclaiming the lands lost to Chaos and creating outpost cities. I find this fascinating because it feels like we may actually be seeing something akin to the Old World, and the network of cities and whatnot. Of course, there’s still the potential for them to all have daft names, but even so!

The article makes mention of a new narrative play style, which I guess is Crusade from 40k by another name, so we can expect to get updated battletomes for all factions to include those new rules. So long as the Ossiarch Bonereapers get their Mortek Archers and the mace-wielding guys, I’ll be happy!

And that was it! Big news was Age of Sigmar v3, and we have supplemental ranges of Sisters and Orks to look forward to. I think everything else was decidedly of a lower rung of colossal really, though I’m trying not to follow the rest of the internet with complaining too much. New stuff is nice, for sure, but I think this time around, it was definitely over-hyped, and with having everything spread over six days, it meant that individually each live stream was a little disappointing. But we’ve got the promise of more previews to come in May, which may bring us further news of what’s coming – hopefully they won’t be quite so universally decried…

April retrospective

Hey everybody,
It’s the end of another month, and we’re already a third of the way through the year! After quite an eventful March, I feel as though my April doesn’t really measure up! Lots of real-world stuff going on, sadly, but as this blog is being published, I’m coming to the end of a very relaxing week away, which is hopefully going to help propel me to new heights in May! Well, we can but hope!

While perhaps not as much has happened in April, I think what I have been able to do has been pretty big! I want to start with Warhammer, because why not – indeed, most of this blog is probably going to be taken up with plastic crack! After a few years of having the game, I have finally made it round to trying out Warhammer Underworlds, and I think I’ve become obsessed…

In these coronavirus times, I’m still playing games with myself, so stuff like this and Warcry has suffered a bit, but nevertheless, I can say that I wholeheartedly love the idea and the playstyle and I cannot wait to play against a real person! The only warband that I have painted is still the Thorns of the Briar Queen from the Nightvault set, though I have recently made efforts to get the Godsworn Hunt warband painted as well, having made a start back when Contrasts were new and all. Very small progress, but progress nonetheless.

I definitely think I’m obsessed, though!

I’ve also been making some very decent progress with the Ossiarch Bonereapers! In my latest New Army Update blog, I showed off some Immortis Guard, as well as the plans for the Endless Spells and Arch-Kavalos Zandtos. Well, the Spells are finished, and while everything is just done to tabletop standard, I do like how these things have turned out! I must say, I struggled with each one to think of a good colour scheme for them – I wanted something different to the ghostly-green of the box art, but I never knew what! In the end, I went for ghostly-blue, in the main,as a nod to the Mortisan Boneshaper.

The army is definitely coming along, though. I’m trying to not get too distracted with Underworlds and other projects, so that it won’t be too long before I’ll have a fourth update blog with yet more finished miniatures! Although it is exciting to think that I’m only one model away from having that 1000-point list fully painted!

Of course, the Ossiarch Bonereapers are due for their own Underworlds warband to come out soon, talk about worlds colliding! So that’s definitely something to look forward to.

While we’re talking about new miniatures…

The next Broken Realms book is going to be accompanied by a slew of huge model releases, it seems, not least of which is a new Lord Kroak for the Seraphon, and this fabulous thing for Slaanesh! If I was excited for the plastic Keeper of Secrets back in 2019, I don’t even know where to start with this beauty! Slaanesh is, of course, my favourite, and I keep talking about how much I want to have a Slaanesh army. Well, given that they’re quite possibly now the most-supported of the four Ruinous Powers, it seems like I need to make a start with these glorious things! I do need to try and control myself at times, of course, but when things like this come along, I just don’t know what to do…

The Keeper is a big model, but these things look huge, due to the wings and everything. I really didn’t see this coming, but I definitely want at least one!

Moving away from the Mortal Realms now, I’ve been reading quite a bit of the Horus Heresy this month – mainly catching up on some of those books that I had left out up to this point.

Prospero Burns is the 15th novel in the series, and tells the story of the Burning of Prospero from the point of view of the VI Legion. Now, the book is by Dan Abnett, one of the Black Library’s greatest, and it deals with one of the most critical moments in the Heresy that has already had a fantastic novel covering those events. What’s not to like? Well, it’s Space Wolves, and if there’s one Legion I just cannot enjoy, it’s these. In all fairness to him, Dan does a great job and the story feels very much like a sort of Viking Saga. It’s told from the point of view of Kasper Hawser, who functions a bit like a Remembrancer for the Legion. He’s a noted academic from Terra, and we get to see some of his backstory investigating sites and the like. He seems to have a particular specialism in the Imperium’s past during Old Night, which was particularly intriguing. However, during one of these academic investigations, he is seemingly turned into a sleeper agent by the Thousand Sons, and sent to Fenris to live alongside the Space Wolves Legion, acting as an early warning system for Magnus to ensure Leman Russ is never sent against him.

What? Why would Magnus even think such a thing? Well, he is perhaps the only psyker on a level with the Emperor Himself, so maybe he had a premonition. Anyway, the Wolves keep Hawser in stasis when they discover his identity, before deciding to study him as he studied them, in an attempt to discover more of his intentions. We revisit a lot of ground covered by Graham McNeil’s book, including the Council of Nikea, where Hawser’s role as spy is revealed to him by Russ. Hawser and the Wolves attempt to discover what exactly is going on, and it eventually transpires that he was in fact possessed by a daemon of Chaos, with the purpose of ensuring the mutual annihilation of both Thousand Sons and Space Wolves. The Thousand Sons’ psychic potential had no room in the plans of the Ruinous Powers, and the Wolves are the only Legion to pose a real threat to Horus and his Sons. Makes sense, no?

The Burning of Prospero happens as we all know, with Russ and the Wolves decimating the Thousand Sons, and Magnus fleeing with his Legion into the Warp to the Planet of the Sorcerers. Hawser agrees to go back into stasis so that he cannot be used against Russ again.

I don’t know what it is, but I just dislike the Space Wolves, particularly in how they’re handled in the fiction. I get it, they’re Space Vikings, and everything is wolf this and wolf that, with pelts all over the place, and the battle brothers drinking mead and eating raw meat with their special fangs. If Chaos’ plan had worked, and the two Legions had destroyed each other, I don’t think I’d have been all that concerned with the loss of the VI Legion. Dan Abnett does a wonderful job of creating some truly atmospheric scenes, and we get a very interesting look at the Legion like nothing we’ve had before, but I found myself most often feeling that they worked particularly well when read as some kind of Viking story, and not as Warhammer.

But that’s just me!

I suppose it’s difficult to get away from the fact that the book just feels a bit superfluous, and really we could just have A Thousand Sons and miss this one completely, and the whole Heresy story wouldn’t suffer for it. I think this gets worse as the series moves along – I’m actually about to start on book 30, and I believe it gets a bit rough at times as the books range wider and wider, with more and more superfluous entries in the series. Prospero Burns was an interesting book in some respects, showing us marines in a different light, and it actually gave me the strange feeling of actually being a bit like a serious, grown-up novel, at times. No mere bolter porn, for sure! But ultimately, I just wasn’t that into it, and it really felt like a chore to get through it.

To help me get through it, I actually started to read something else, with a kind of reward system going on. Bad, isn’t it? Never thought I’d say that about Dan Abnett, but honestly I think it’s really just my own personal hang-ups about the Legion, and not the quality of the writing, that are colouring this review.

I read this book alongside my fellow bloggers Jenn and Dave, although I think I started a bit early and finished first, but you can now check out Inquisitor Jenn’s thoughts on the book here!

I also read book sixteen, Age of Darkness. The second anthology in the series, I thought this one much better than the first, Tales of Heresy. Perhaps because more has happened by this point in the series, and so there is more for the short stories to tie into? At any rate, there are nine stories here, written by all manner of Black Library alums, including Dan Abnett who wrote Little Horus – the story of how Horus Aximand of the Sons of Horus Legion had his face cut off. Delightful! The stories all feel quite important, though I think that might be due to having read so far into the series now, coming back to this book has helped me make sense of how a lot of them fit into the overall series to date.

I thought Liar’s Due, by James Swallow, was a good story. Different, in that it dealt with a lone Alpha Legion operative as he sows discord throughout the normal people of the Imperium. It really shows how the XX Legion wage their wars, through intrigue and subterfuge, without needing to fire a shot themselves. Savage Weapons is a story that I’ve read before, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. It deals with a parlay gone wrong between Lion el’Jonson and Konrad Curze, and is I think the first time in the Horus Heresy that we get to seriously see the Night Lords (though I could be wrong there!) It is set during the events of the Thramas Crusade, which is notable for being an attempt to keep the Dark Angels from Terra by having the Night Lords run amok in Ultima Segmentum. The story is mainly told by ADB in this and Prince of Crows, one that I’m looking forward to reading at some point soon!

Little Horus and The Last Remembrancer directly link to the 29th novel, Vengeful Spirit, which I have covered in its own blog here. That is definitely worth the read, and I am still impressed with the breadth of that book!

Darth Bane Trilogy

It’s not been all Warhammer, though, as I’ve finally drawn to a conclusion with the Darth Bane trilogy! Not my favourite, by any stretch of the imagination – you can read my rambling thoughts on the final book, and the trilogy as a whole, here!

I’ve finally started to read the hardcover sensation that is Light of the Jedi, as well – the inaugural novel in the High Republic series. Be sure to check back for my review when that goes up!

It seems to be an exciting time for Star Wars, with the announcement of the “special event series”, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Originally slated to be a movie along the lines of Rogue One, it was announced as a series in 2019 but put on hold due to “script problems” a year later. With the announcement of the cast, though, we’re well on the way to getting this series in 2022, I believe, and I’m really intrigued to see what it’s all about. The Mandalorian has really shown just how good Star Wars on the small screen can be, and while I don’t know what the significance of “a special event series” will be, I would like to think that we’re in for something really special.

I just hope Obi-Wan and Vader never actually meet…

Lots going on right now to be excited for, though! The Cassian Andor spin-off series has already been filming since December, although we don’t have a release date yet. The Book of Boba Fett is set for release in December this year, though, and the third season of The Mandalorian will be out sometime after that, maybe this time next year? Definitely a lot to look forward to, at any rate!! I do wonder if we’ll get many more movies, with the way the TV series have been a success for Disney+ so far. I suppose it does hearken back to what I was talking about with WandaVision though, in that the series can show a lot more of the slow moments, whereas the movies seem to have to deal with just one big adventure. The upcoming Rogue Squadron movie is probably going to be something along these lines, I’d guess…

Oh yes, and I turned 7 on 21 April!

Anyway, I’m rambling here! Time to wrap things up. It’s been a slower month for sure, and I haven’t had the time for as much as I’d have liked, but things are definitely ticking along with the hobby, and you can definitely look forward to more Underworlds content as it continues to take over my life!!

Warhammer Underworlds

Hey everybody,
Today is game day once more here at spalanz.com, and today I’m going to talk about my latest obsession: Warhammer Underworlds! It’s been out for years, and I’ve had the Nightvault core set hanging about for a couple of years now, but only recently started thinking about it seriously for the game, rather than the miniatures as part of the larger Age of Sigmar game.

I do love the miniatures though, it has to be said they’re some of the best fantasy sculpts out there!

Anyway, Warhammer Underworlds is heavily marketed as the competitive miniatures game, and you can really tell just from reading the rulebook. Everything is quite strict and laid-out, trying really hard to cut out any room for error or misinterpretation. Of course, some rules can come across a bit thickly, if that makes sense, though subsequent “seasons” have sought to refine the rules to the point where, I believe, they’re in the best shape yet.

Seasons, I hear you ask?
There have been four seasons, as the time I’m writing this. Shadespire, Nightvault, Beastgrave, and Direchasm. To remain competitive, while keeping the bar for entry somewhat low, a system of rotation was introduced to keep only the two most recent core boxes current – something akin to Standard for Magic the Gathering, I guess. Whether additional formats will come in time, along the lines of Modern say, I suppose time will tell. At any rate, the cardpool is kept small enough that it doesn’t become too arduous to build a deck for the game.

A deck, you say? But GW are a miniatures company!
Ah yes, Games Workshop is mainly all about the minis, for sure. But Warhammer Underworlds is a curious mix of miniatures and deckbuilding. When assembling your warband, you build two decks; an objective deck and a power deck. At the start of the game, you draw three objective cards, and five power cards; the objective cards are exactly that, objectives that you can aim to score throughout the game. These can be scored immediately or at the end of the game, and upon achievement they give you “glory” – at the end of the game, the player with the most glory wins.

Power cards are a more immediate benefit, which come in two flavours – upgrades and gambits. Upgrades can, well, upgrade fighters for the cost of the glory that you have earned (this doesn’t remove that glory from your final pool, though), whereas gambits can be more one-time effects. With Nightvault, the game had the addition of Magic, and several gambits come in the form of spells, which can be used only by wizards in your band.

There are of course many rules for deckbuilding, which is pretty much true of any such game of course. You can only have 12 objectives, only six of which can be “surge” objectives (the type you can score immediately once the conditions are met). The power deck must have at least 20 cards, no more than half of which can be gambit cards. Additionally, you cannot use multiple copies of the same card.

So how do you play?
The game lasts for three rounds, which are split into four activations for each player. Perhaps the best thing about this game is that it follows an I go/You go principle of alternating activations, so you don’t have to sit through one person working out their strategy for the whole turn. Warbands come in many sizes, from three to nine fighters, though you only have four activations to work through each round, causing a lot of decisions as to who you use and who you leave back.

Each fighter can move, attack, charge or go on-guard. In addition, there are player activations that you can take, such as discarding and drawing cards. Interestingly, fighters can be activated more than once per round, however once a fighter moves he receives a token which means he can’t perform the same action again. In addition, if the fighter charges, he receives a token which means he can’t be activated again. But in theory, you can move the fighter in the first activation, and then attack with the same fighter in each subsequent activation. Very useful if your warband is reduced to one fighter!

The game uses special dice, which can be a little confusing at first of course, as with any game that uses such dice. The white dice are used for attacks; black for defence, and blue for magic. Each fighter’s card uses a fairly elegant system to show how they move, attack and defend, as well as their wounds characteristic.

On the left we have the weapons, showing the range (in hexes), number of attack dice rolled, as well as what you need to roll for a success, and then how much damage the attack deals. Attack dice have two hammer symbols, one crossed swords symbol, and a critical success symbol. When attacking, a critical success symbol has the potential to cancel out any successful defence roll, and the other way round.

Rather than trying to cover the whole gameplay thing, it might be easier if I just link to the GW video where Becca Scott explains it all:

While you can attempt to destroy your opponent’s warband, the game is all about playing the objectives, of course, and at the end of the game, the player with the most glory is the winner – even if they have no fighters left standing.

I’ve recently picked up the Direchasm box, which I’ve been eyeing up for a while because of the Slaanesh warband, but decided it was high time I actually see what I’ve been missing out on all these years. The short answer, of course, is a lot of fun! Sadly, due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, I’ve been unable to play real games, so have been checking things out by playing against myself, but already I’m pretty hooked!

I’ve played one game with each core game so far – although I think I may have sold off the Stormcast that came in the Nightvault box, so instead I used the Godsworn Hunt warband, which I have hanging about because I love the aesthetic so much. As shown up at the top, the Thorns of the Briar Queen warband is the only one that I have fully painted up, though, so it was a pleasure to get those guys out at last!

It’s definitely the sort of game that I can see myself really immersing into. I’m not about to go ahead and plough a lot of money into all the various warbands, of course, but I would like to pick up a few (probably ones that I have already earmarked for their miniatures) so that I can get a wider cardpool to use, and of course having different warbands to try is always going to be a nice bonus!

The rotation thing that I mentioned before does give me pause, though. The Nightvault game that I had yesterday was played using cards and warbands from that season – kinda like Block Constructed for MtG, I suppose! The way that rotation works, all the Warbands currently out there are still legal, including any warband-specific cards they have. But each warband is sold in a pack that includes 60 cards, roughly half of which are “universal” – when a season rotates out, those universal cards go with it. If a card is then featured in a new, current season after being printed in the older one, you can use the old printing if you like. I’m not sure how many cards that affects – there are probably sites out there that crunch these sorts of numbers! – but it’s something I find interesting insofar as longevity of the product. I’m not trying to say that I’m against rotation per se, especially when you think I’m trying to get into the game during its fourth season, so would otherwise have quite the task ahead of me to do so! But while I like the look of the Beastmen warband from Beastgrave, I’m probably not going to buy that set because it’s going to be rotating out this year…

Obviously, rotation only affects tournament play and I don’t think I’m likely to be playing in any such events with a baby due in two months’ time, but I’d like to get as much play out of my stuff as possible. Luckily, Direchasm seems to have the greatest number yet of warbands that I’m actually interested in – along with the Slaanesh Hedonite warband from the core box, there are Slaves to Darkness and Ossiarch Bonereapers, Idoneth Deepkin and even Seraphon.

I’m two games in, and already I can feel myself getting sucked in to the whole thing. I’m finding myself pondering deckbuilds, and wanting to read up on all of the Glory Points articles in White Dwarf that I have, up to this point, been ignoring. The rule book covers all kinds of different scenarios and has rules to cover supporting other fighters during activations etc. There is a lot of depth to the otherwise basic gameplay that I tried to summarise earlier! I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m going to be talking about this game again, and most likely soon!

Vengeful Spirit

Hey everybody,
I’m determined to make a proper effort with the Horus Heresy series this year, starting with the juggernaut that is Vengeful Spirit!

This book, the 29th in the series, has felt like a breath of fresh air, after the last few books which were a little more difficult to get through, and always felt like they were going nowhere. I suppose I’ve been a little put off by the chunky size of this one, but almost as soon as I’d made a start on the book, I was enjoying it!

We’re back in the thick of the Heresy, with Horus reassembling the Mournival to replace both Loken and Torgaddon following the purge of the Legion. The story picks up immediately after the short story Little Horus, which I haven’t yet read (my bad), but the Sons of Horus have successfully defeated a White Scars assault on their primarch at the planet Dwell. There, Horus has learnt of the planet Molech, about which he has some hazy memories that he doesn’t understand – all the primarchs are supposed to have eidetic memories, so why can’t he remember it? He meets with his brothers Fulgrim and Mortarion, who were also there, and all three come to the conclusion the Emperor himself has tampered with their memories. According to the information Horus has learnt on Dwell, Molech could be a site of great power, possibly where the Emperor gained his god-like power. As they begin to plan their assault, however, they come under attack by an Iron Hands warband, and Horus basically decimates their ships by jumping onto them and pummeling them with his mace, Worldbreaker.

On Terra, Leman Russ decides the best course of action is to lead a surgical strike against Horus, and with Malcador’s help recruits Garviel Loken to lead a strike team of Knights-Errant to board the Vengeful Spirit and basically light the way for Russ’ attack. The team travels to Titan to arm and assemble in full, and Loken discovers his personal remembrancer Mersadie Oliton is being kept a prisoner there.

Meanwhile, the spirit of Ignatius Grulgor returns to Mortarion, fully corrupted by the power of Nurgle. The Sons of Horus find themselves with their own daemon, when Serghar Targost and Maloghurst the Twisted use the braindead body of Gor Geraddon to bring forth the first of the Luperci, Tormageddon. The Luperci are the Sons of Horus equivalent to the Word Bearers’ Gal Vorbak, and Tormageddon was initially brought forth by Erebus from a fragment of the soul of Tarik Torgaddon. The Traitor flotilla arrives at Molech shortly after the balance of power has shifted, with the Imperial Governor there killed by his own son during a beast hunt.

The Battle of Molech is pretty grim, and forms the epic central narrative of the book. The first couple of hundred pages have all that set-up, then once everyone is in position, it’s a bit like all hell breaks loose, first in the void and then on the surface. The ground assault takes place to allow Horus to learn exactly what happened on the world all those years ago with the Emperor, and in fairly devastating fashion, he finds out.

The Emperor made his bargain with the Chaos gods on Molech, gaining the knowledge with which to make the Primarchs and all the rest of it. As we know, the Emperor didn’t intend to keep his side of the bargain, and so the Ruinous Powers created the Warp storm that scattered them all. It’s hinted at early on – how did the Emperor manage to leave Molech if He left His starship on the world? – but the revelation of what exactly Molech’s importance is still managed to surprise me!

The fighting is intense, but Horus finds his way to the Warp gate, and in suitably mystical fashion, travels through and becomes empowered by the Ruinous Powers. Meanwhile on the ship, Loken and the rest discover a cult surrounding Targhost as he is about to create another Luperci, and the team destroy them all. However, Targhost’s “death” reveals that he is possessed by none other than the daemon Samus, which kinda traumatises Loken. Horus, already somehow aware of them aboard the ship, has sent a team to capture them, and following a brutal skirmish, the Knights-Errant are brought before the Warmaster. Horus tries to convince Loken to rejoin the ranks of his Sons, but despite a deep-seated desire for that earlier belonging, Loken refuses and more fighting breaks out. Iacton Qruze attempts to kill Horus himself, and many others go down fighting, but the surviving members of the strike team are rescued, to return to Terra.

I really liked this book, a lot. As I said at the start, I had been growing a bit disappointed in the series, as it seemed to just be expanding outwards with no effort to move the story on. Here, however, perhaps more so than with any other novel since Fulgrim, it feels like the book is a direct sequel to the opening books. There are so many elements that are drawn from the earlier novels, it makes things feel much more cohesive than at any other point in the series so far, I think.

A big part of this, of course, is that this is very much a Horus novel. We have three main characters that we follow – Loken, Horus Aximand, and the Primarch himself. Mingled into this are so many other elements that the book does begin to feel quite bloated, especially the second part with the main battle. A lot of the negative reviews that I’ve read seem to focus on this perceived bloat, but I think it somehow adds to the truly epic frame of the story. It’s like, we had the opening trilogy/five books which truly set the scene, then we go off into the wilderness somewhat as we explore all of the side stories and whatnot, but here is where the series begins to rein in those threads and we start to get something more like cohesion across the whole Heresy. A lot of the story that has been told in short story form, including the Garro series of audio dramas etc, is also worked back into the mainstream of the novel series here.

It’s a huge task, and it has lead to a correspondingly huge book. Some of the story does, at times, feel like it’s probably a bit unnecessary. The whole Knight storyline for the Titan legions of House Devine could probably have been cut out, of shortened, with more focus instead on the combined garrison of Blood Angels and Ultramarines, as that felt like it should have had more time devoted to it. Indeed, the Blood Angels seemed otherwise to be utterly pointless as an inclusion. Another seemingly unnecessary inclusion was that of the Red Angel, which felt almost like it had been shoe-horned in simply because it is something that has happened already in the series, and so can also be referenced. I suppose it makes sense that Horus has it, so it maybe would be mentioned in a book about the primarch, but it all just fell a bit flat, somehow.

But none of that really detracts from the whole, overall. It’s a meaty epic of a book, and now that I come to think of it, we’ve not really had anything like this in the series yet. The Horus Heresy is an epic story in every sense of the word, and I think Vengeful Spirit is quite possibly the first book (at #29) to truly show us that epic scale of the subject matter.

Very much required reading, I must say!

Oh, GeeDubs…

So the new Warhammer Quest board game is no longer available online. I mean, it’s not even out yet, this is being written during the pre-order week. But they’ve been hyping it for months, and now have sold out. I believe they’re making more, so it’s probably not going to be a problem – the quote is something like, they’re going to keep the base game in stock as they have done for Blackstone Fortress, which is still available as I write this.

But the way this sold out during the pre-order window, much like Piety and Pain, and Indomitus, and the plastic Sisters box, makes me baffled, for sure!

It feels very much like GW are increasingly all about the big splash releases, selling big boxes in small quantities rather than just letting people access their product in a more reasonable fashion. There is internet cynicism abound, of course, which blames shareholders and so on, but it definitely feels like GW has at the very least, shuffled a little away from being all about public engagement. On the one hand, they’re giving us incredible releases like Cursed City, but on the other they’re not really giving everybody the chance to experience that. An actual pre-order system, whereby you register your interest to buy the product and then they go ahead and fulfil that, would perhaps have been better, going up right at the start of the hype season.

I mean, they’re a fairly large company. They should be able to deal with that, right?

As it is, my interest was kinda waning anyway, but now I’m just thinking, I have enough plastic to keep me going. I’m fine with this. I don’t really have the energy for big splash releases anymore…

/grumpy old man rant 🤣

New Army update three

Hey everybody,
I thought it might be a nice time for a look at what I’ve been doing with the Ossiarch Bonereapers since my last update more than a month ago. The short answer to that question is, not a lot, but I wanted to take a bit of time today to show off the few efforts that I have made, regardless!

I’ve got three Immortis Guard painted up, which was quite wonderful really. Considering they’re much bigger than the Mortek Guard, there are very few real differences between the two models which allows for an easy scaling-up of the scheme. The only real difference here is the hafts of the dread halberds, which I painted with Drakenhof Nightshade and then lightly drybrushed with Teclis Blue. It gives enough of a contrast to the blades and other elements, but keeps the ethereal theme of them being mystical ghostly things.

I’m looking forward to trying these out, more than perhaps any other unit that I’ve painted so far – they look great, in my opinion, and I think they should be quite hard-hitting. Each model has 2 attacks with the halberd, and 2 with the shield; then they can attack again with the shield for 2 more attacks. The halberds hit on 3s and the shields on 4s, so fairly decent, and the halberds have -2 rend and do 2 damage on each successful hit. Finally, the shields do a mortal wound on the attack roll of a 6 in addition to any further damage. I know there are a lot of variables here, but there is still a lot of damage potential, for sure!

What else?

I’ve built up the Endless Spells for the faction, which are an exciting set of models – much bigger than I’d first thought they would be! I only actually have one wizard in the army so far, the Boneshaper, so I would need to get a few more for maximum effect, I suppose! The Ossiarch Bonereapers spells are “soul-linked” to the caster, meaning that only that player can move the spells that are predatory (all of them!) which gives some degree of control over them that other armies don’t get with their own.

I particularly like the Bone-tithe Shrieker (the one in the middle there), as it adds 1 to the hit rolls for units which target a unit within 12″ of this spell. All of them are pretty good though, which gives me the additional incentive to get more wizards in the force!

I’ve also built up Arch-Kavalos Zandtos, who will be the second hero for my army. I am a little hesitant, having built him entirely, and I hope that it won’t be too cumbersome to actually paint him. As usual, of course, I’ll be using the Contrast paints for the most part, which should help things along well enough. Fingers crossed that I can do it justice, anyway! He comes with two command abilities, one of which gives re-rolls to units wholly within 24″ of him, the other adds 1 to attacks for units wholly within 12″ of him. There are also a couple of nice abilities that he has to help with his offensive capability, which I think would make him a real force to be reckoned with!

What does all of this look like, then?

I think this is a great start to the army. Of course, I have no idea if it would work really well on the table, but I’m looking forward to getting it there. Just two more models to go before this list is finished, of course, though I’ll probably paint up all three of the spells so that they’re done and dusted.

So, all in all, things are going really well right now! We had some good weather earlier in the week, so I’ve been able to prime them with Grey Seer already, so I’m hoping to get these things painted up soon enough! With the arrival of the secondborn expected in mid-to-late June, I do feel a little like I’m on the clock with getting these things finished! I am definitely excited to have gotten so far with the army in such a short time.

What’s Next?
Once these models are finished, I recently picked up some Kavalos Deathriders to add in to the mix, and I still have both Vokmortian and the Mortek Crawler to build and paint up. However, I do also find myself wanting to get a second box of Mortek Guard, as I think it could be handy to have more troops. It will also get me to my first battalion, Mortek Shield-Corps, which will be good. I suppose I’ve been hanging fire on that because of the potential for a Start Collecting box to come out at some point, and I would naturally be getting one in due course!

I’m also wondering if we aren’t going to see some more units in due course, maybe archers or mace-wielding Mortek Guard. I’m very excited to get hold of this warband when it comes out, though, so that’ll be another few models to add in to the army!

With the current additions, I’ll push the army just over the one thousand points that I was initially aiming for, though with the Deathriders et al, I’ll be at 1640 points – and of course, if I were to add in Arkhan the Black, that will bring me to exactly 2000 points! Would it be a good force, with those Leaders involved? No idea… but I’m sure it’d look good on the table!

The Secret Army Project

I have a secret army project that I’ve decided to start working on in April. Yesterday’s retrospective post has a clue, but I’m hoping to be able to burst upon the scene with at least some completed units by the end of Lockdown here in the UK, so stay tuned!

Two and a half months (hopefully!) to work on getting something together…

Exciting times ahead!!

March retrospective

Hey everybody!
I’m really enjoying these end-of-the-month round-ups that I’ve been putting out so far, hopefully they’ve been interesting to read, too!

I want to start off with talking about WandaVision, which I have finished and which I enjoyed immensely! From such a weird start, the show progressed incredibly well, with such a wonderful pacing as the mystery unfolds. In particular, I love the fact that we get so many quiet moments in this show, which is fundamentally about family life (albeit the ideal family life that Wanda wants). These kind of glimpses into character are of the sort that we’d never see on the big screen. Marvel have stated that the TV shows that they have on the books are intended to cover those characters who will very likely never get their own film; however, given the incredibe storytelling we’ve seen here, it makes me wonder if that will hold true, or whether they’ll instead branch out into further shows that explore the bigger movie characters in time.

It was a really great show, with an explosive finale that I for one really appreciated for actually staying true to the hints and suggestions of what exactly West View was all about. I think almost from the start it’s been fairly clear that this has all been Wanda’s creation, borne of her despair from losing Vision during the events of the Infinity War.

I do like the fact that we finally get to see Wanda embracing her comic book heritage with the costume and the name Scarlet Witch bestowed. In the tradition of Marvel movies, we get a mid-credits scene that shows Wanda in her astral form learning more about her powers, which indicates great things in store for her appearance in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie.

I haven’t just been stuck in front of the TV, though!

I’ve been able to play quite a few games this month, which has been incredible given the lack of much gaming so far this year! After a very false start with The Circle Undone, I have finally been able to play through the whole cycle now – and what a great run it was! You can check up my write-ups on the games here, here and here. I’ve also started on a much looser idea for a “campaign”, starting with playing Return to Night of the Zealot. My idea here is to play some of the standalone scenarios like Curse of the Rougarou and Murder at the Excelsior Hotel. Of course, I need to create a new investigator deck now, but I think it could be fun – and it’ll be nice to see what I’ve been missing all these years!

In addition to Arkham Horror LCG, I’ve played two games of Warcry! Still playing against myself, sadly, because we’re unable to meet up with friends indoors for the time being, but it’s been a decent way to get to grips with the game, and I’ve played these types of things solo before, controlling both sides of the board and making the best decisions for each, but having the one side that I wanted to actually win.

I’ve had two games with the Cypher Lords, and I do enjoy the way that they play. The first game, I was playing against them, and it was the sort of game that came right down to the wire before they were defeated by the Bloodbound, my warband of choice at that game – the Wrathmaster, with one wound remaining, rolled three critical hits to thoroughly beat the Thrallmaster into a pulp. The second game, playing as the Cypher Lords, I was completely outclassed by the Unmade and the Thrallmaster was again soundly decimated by the Blissful One attacking back to back. Absolutely incredible stuff, I have to say! I definitely need to crack on with painting the terrain for this game, though I have had a hard time deciding on a scheme.

I also want to crack on with getting the Catacombs box built up and investigated…

Following on from my March Plans blog, I’ve now at least built up both the Shardspeaker and the Psychomancer – what an incredible pair of models! The Psychomancer in particular has greatly impressed me, as soon as I get some more Chaos Black spray, I’m sure I’ll be starting work on these.

I’ve been building up some more Ossiarch Bonereapers models, and have made quite a bit of progress here – I’ll be getting another army update blog posted up at some point over the Easter weekend, anyway, so stay tuned for that!

As well as the miniatures side of the hobby, I’ve also been reading more novels set in the war-torn hellscape of the far future. After putting it off for years, I’ve read Fallen Angels, which ended up a much better read than I’d been expecting. I’ve also finished the Ravenor trilogy with Ravenor Rogue, which sadly did not really live up to the rest of the trilogy! Never mind. I’m trying to get back into the Horus Heresy, after Fallen Angels – I’ve started to read the beast that is Vengeful Spirit, and I hope to move through the series a bit more this year, though I have said that a lot with these books, and only read one a year for quite some time now!

I’ve also read the second Darth Bane novel, Rule of Two, which was better than the first one, though I still don’t honestly see what so many people see in this series. The book helped me to see the whole Sith Academy thing in a different light – it was one of my major bugbears about Path of Destruction, as you may recall, the ridiculous idea of having a school for essentially evil kids, but here we have Bane draw attention to the fact that this was one of Lord Kaan’s great failures.

The book is definitely more an exploration of Zannah’s journey this time, although the middle of the book jumps ten years so we don’t have to go through years of her learning how to use the Dark Side. Instead, we have her going on missions for Bane where she is essentially working to topple the Republic by using radical groups on Serenno, the homeworld of Count Dooku. We even have a Chancellor Valorum that makes an appearance, which all just serves to heighten the links to the Prequel era as opposed to work in any real temporal distance. I’ve said it before, of course, but the book is set 1000 years before A New Hope, but it feels like it’s merely a year or two before The Phantom Menace.

At any rate, while Zannah is working to topple the Republic, Bane is trying to figure out how to make a holocron, which seems to take him the course of the book and he still doesn’t figure it out. I’m not properly up on holocron lore, but there does seem to be some conflicting accounts of how prevalent they are in the galaxy. Coupled with this, while raiding Freedon Nadd’s tomb on Dxun, Bane gets covered with weird crustaceans called orbalisks, which render him pretty impervious to any attack (we saw this in the short story Bane of the Sith, of course). However, during the climax on Tython, he is almost killed by the creatures when his Sith lightning is turned back on himself. Zannah manages to save his life, though does tell him that she will kill him when she has no further use for him.

Somewhere in there, there is a really good story. I’m just not struck on Drew Karpyshyn’s style. It feels very simplistic, and a little too much like bad fan fiction at times. Zannah is described as just gorgeous and so on, much like Githany in the last book. It all just feels a bit non-Star Wars-y. Just not really my cup of blue milk, as they say! The actual storytelling, and the temporal feel aside, I think it’s a definite step-up since the earlier book, and I am somewhat looking forward to finishing the trilogy soon.

Hobby Goals 2021 – quarter one check-in!
So we’re three months into the year now, and I think it’s a good time for a check-in as regards my 2021 hobby goals! To start with, I wanted to get the Sisters army underway, but up to this point I haven’t actually done anything with these models. At one point, I actually considered moving away from them, as it happens. However, whenever I think about them for any length of time, it’s a project that  really feel excited for, and I want to get it off the ground. I’m not sure if I should try to pare down my goals here though, and think about getting just a couple of units done. Doing this might get me into the swing of things though, and perhaps I might yet get that 500-point list painted up after all! I guess we’ll see. But Sisters definitely remain on the menu for now!

I also haven’t done anything more with my Drukhari since the Incubi back in January. I have plans for the Grotesques here, for sure, and I think I’ll take stock of the situation again once I’ve got those guys finished up!

The Codex is now out of course, though I’ve not picked it up yet… I should try harder!

Working on my Imperium forces now, I’m not sure about the Blood Angels, or the Deathwatch, but I have already thinned-out some of the AdMech models that I’d not quite gotten round to painting yet, thinking I might keep a small force of them just to have some fun with. They are just lovely models, after all. I think the Tempestus Scions might be for the chop, though – I just don’t know where I’m going with the army, and it’s been that way for so long, I think it might just be time to call it a day and focus myself elsewhere.

I still haven’t done anything with Tyranids yet, either, and the Genestealer Cults are a force similar to the Sisters in that I’ve thought maybe they could be something to move away from. Whenever I think about them, at all, I just feel the need to paint up some more Neophytes, or something. I definitely want to have a Genestealer Cult force, so I really need to plot that out.

All in all, then, it’s really not been a very productive quarter, when compared with my hobby goals! However, I’ve produced quite a lot of minis for my new Ossiarch Bonereapers army, which is quite something to be pleased about. I’ve been able to get some more Necrons done, and the Incubi as mentioned before. Things are definitely going well, I think, so it’s nothing to worry about just yet! Maybe at the halfway point there will be a bit more ticked off from here, anyway!

Ravenor Rogue

It’s been a while since I finished the second book in the trilogy, but now it’s time to look at the final book.

Following the events on Eustis Majoris, Ravenor and his retinue are asked to account for their actions and the destruction caused. Despite Ravenor’s hunch that Molotch is on Tancred, he agrees to stand down in his pursuit of the heretic, and another Inquisitor takes over the search. However, this team is compromised and most of the retinue is killed when they attempt to arrest Molotch, and Ravenor decides to go rogue in order to end his nemesis once and for all.

In order to gain some insight into where Molotch may strike next, Ravenor and his entourage travel to Utochre and the Wych House there, the idea being that he would potentially see into the future to anticipate Molotch’s next move. However, it turns into a trap, one engineered by Molotch and Orfeo Culzean. The Wych House used a three-way door to show people potential futures via the Warp; Ravenor met with Culzean where he offered an alliance between the inquisitor and the heretic in order to eliminate the threat posed by the daemon Slyte. Ravenor completely discounted this proposal, whence he and his team were attacked by Tyranid hormogaunts – for the extremely nerdy among us, the Tyranids were first officially recorded in the year 745.M41, although the Ravenor novels take place in 404.M41, so we can postulate that the door sent Ravenor and his retinue into the future at this point. Anyway!

They are only able to escape by the intervention of Carl Thonius manifesting Slyte once again, but the damage caused in turn leads to the destruction of the Wych House. Part of his team manages to escape, but Ravenor, Nayl, Angharad and the housekeeper once more go through the door to flee. There follows a bit of a ploddy narrative as they continually open the door and find themselves in different places and times, until Ravenor realises that a degree of psychic focus can allow them to determine their destination. Gravely wounded by the Tyranidattack, they manage to get fixed up to a degree before finally reuniting with the rest of the team in the right year, and so begin the final hunt.

Since the start of the book, Zael has been in a coma, watched over by Frauka to blunt any potential psychic outbursts. Worryingly, about halfway through, it seems as though Zael has managed to “turn off” Frauka’s blunting ability, and everyone is convinced that Slyte is going to attempt to manifest into realspace through him. Of course, we the readers know that Slytehas possession of Carl Thonius, and when Ravenor finally catches up with this, the whole team travels to Gudrun and the bolthole of Orfeo Culzean, where Thonius is leading a team in an attempt to dispatch Molotch once and for all.

When Culzean realises that Thonius is Slyte, he attempts to bring forth the daemon, with absolutely disastrous consequences, and it does indeed come down to a truce between Ravenor and Molotch, who combine together their psychic might to bring down the daemon, using the three-way door to finally send Slyteback into the Realm of Chaos. In the epilogue, Ravenor kills Molotch once and for all, and surrenders himself to the Inquisition for judgment.

***

I have got to be honest, this book was not the best it could have been, to my mind. I’m a big fan of Dan Abnett, and I have really loved the Ravenor series, but the final act here doesn’t feel like it really does everything justice. It’s a bit like the original Star Wars trilogy, where the build-up is amazing, with the second act far surpassing the first, then the third just seems to fall a little bit flat as it attempts to wrap everything up before the end. I’m not saying it was rushed, but there didn’t feel like the kind of payoff for some things that perhaps demanded them. Zael in particular fizzles into nothing, serving as little more than a distraction for the rest of the cast, despite the fact we as the readers know what is going on.

The middle part with the three-way door felt like it went on a bit too long, as well. I’m still not entirely sure why we needed to see the complete adventures of Ravenor and co. as they attempt to join up with the rest of the retinue – an abridged version would have been fine, if we could instead have had more on the Zaelplot, maybe? I don’t know. It also feels like some of the retinue characters are maybe a bit lost, with very little action for Kara Swole more than any of the others.

I don’t know.

It’s by no means a terrible book, and I’ve said before how Return of the Jedi is in fact my favourite Star Wars movie. If this is the Return of the Jedi of the Ravenor trilogy, then that is still pretty decent praise, I would say! There are some incredibly rich descriptions of worlds that we get, such as the sweeping vistas of Tancred at the beginning, which are pure and classic Abnett.

It’s better than a lot of the stuff that has been written for Black Library, and I don’t want you to think it didn’t keep me reading. I just feel like maybe the series could have been capped with a greater payoff in the end. But that’s possibly just me!

New Warhammer incoming!

My goodness, what a day!

There are some very interesting models coming our way in the next few months! The Faith & Damnation preview came out of nowhere, at least to me, and has shown off quite a few models that I’m excited for! Let’s take a look…

Of course, a lot of the stuff is Soulblight Gravelords, who must be coming pretty soon given that we’ve seen so many new units already. The Blood Knights have been redesigned, and look very fancy! Whether they’ll be an extortionate £61.50 for a box of five though, who can say? We’re also getting more Skeletons and Zombies, who fit in nicely with the stuff that we’ve seen from the upcoming Warhammer Quest: Cursed City. I’ve been back and forth on the new stuff, but right now I’m holding off getting into the new Vampires: I think I have enough on my plate without adding yet another army into the mix!!

The Ossiarch Bonereapers are getting their Underworlds warband and I WANT THIS NOW! May isn’t too long to wait, I guess, but still… I’m very excited for this! I also hope that it means we’ll be getting some more Bonereapers units in the future – archers would be lovely, and how about some mace-wielding chaps as well? But how nice would it also be to have some executioner-types as well? Massive axes and all!

I still haven’t played Underworlds, of course, and I don’t know if I will anytime soon, but I am very excited for this band!

We’re off to the 41st millennium next, and there are yet more units coming for the Adepta Sororitas! We’ve already seen the walker and the lieutenant-type, and now we’re getting a Predator-type vehicle as well! This is very nice, I must say – I wonder if this is it, or whether we’ll be seeing more for the Sisters before they inevitably get their 9th edition codex.

This is long overdue, for sure. Another army that has been getting new units that are bursting out of its current book. The Skitarii Marshal is probably the last we’ll be seeing for the army for a while, I’d guess. After the wave of models that came out in the Psychic Awakening release, I can’t see anything more coming over the hill, but I suppose you never know! At any rate, it’s good to see an army that has been spread apart like this come together, so I’m pleased to know that they’ll be getting their book soon.

Of course, I have a small-ish Mechanicus force of my own that I still don’t quite know what to do with. Maybe I’ll keep them, but I do want to try to thin out my plastic addiction!

Third starter set coming for Necromunda – who saw this coming?! Escher vs Delaque with some of the plastic Zone Mortalis stuff, though I’m expecting it to be quite expensive, regardless. Can’t think it would be the same price tag as Dark Uprising, of course! It’s good to see a hopefully more affordable starter set on its way, and Delaque is a nice choice, I must say!

The next House of book is coming up as well, House of Faith, featuring the Cawdor gangers having their update. Do we have a box with prospects and leaders? Not sure, but we will be getting these fine gentlemen:

We’ve already had one spoiled, but it’s lovely to see the whole box. Six miniatures, three times two, but with some very nice options regardless. I’m liking these guys a lot, anyway, I must say! And it’s always wonderful to see what’s coming next for Necromunda!

All in all, this has been a very exciting preview – if the Bonereapers warband is scheduled for May, then I’m guessing that it won’t be long until we see all of these coming out!