May retrospective

Hey everybody,
Well this has soon come round again, hasn’t it? Doesn’t seem like five minutes since the last retrospective blog, does it now?! I’ve not actually been posting all that much on here throughout May, unfortunately, and I doubt that June will be very busy at all, given that we’re eagerly awaiting the birth of baby number two, but I hope that I’ll be able to do something. At any rate – it’s not the time to look forward right now, it’s time to look back!

May has seen the temporary culmination of my Ossiarch Bonereapers army, with three heroes joining the ranks of the rest of the models that I’ve painted up for the army. Arch-Kavalos Zandtos, Vokmortian, and the Mortisan Soulreaper have been a nice way to finish things off, I think!

I’ve got somewhere in the realm of 1400 points painted up now, which is very exciting, though I do think I need to get more basic troops done before I can call this army done. I’m hoping that the new edition of Age of Sigmar will bring us some more models, as I’d really like to get a unit of those archers, if nothing else!

So the start of the month was almost consumed with Age of Sigmar and getting the Bonereapers into shape. I’ve also got some more games of Warhammer Underworlds in, which has been really nice, including with the original Shadespire set.

It’s been really nice getting to play the game, and I’m hoping that I can pick up some of the Direchasm expansions when the world returns to normal and they’re actually available to buy again… fingers crossed!

It’s not all about the Mortal Realms, though, as I’ve also made a return to the grim darkness of the far future. Specifically, with the Sisters!

Sisters of Battle

It’s been far too long, of course, but I’m really glad to have finally made an effort with these ladies. I’ve gone for a custom scheme, though intend to play them as Order of the Sacred Rose – I’ve written at length on my plans for the army, here and here, so please do check those blogs out!

I very nearly had a game of 40k the other week, though my buddy JP had a drunken night and figuring out the rules for a system we’ve barely played was not to be! I’ve got a game of Necromunda lined up with James next weekend, which should be good because I’ve only ever played it solo up to now! So gaming is slowly coming back on the radar, even if it will be curtailed while I look after a newborn again!


Jemma and I have started to watch the MCU again, working our way through Phase One during May. There’s probably a lot more to talk about with these things, although at the same time I feel like there isn’t really a great deal that I can add that has already been said. Two Iron Man films, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers movie. I do find origin films to get a bit same-y after a while, and this is very true of the MCU, where you get to feel like they’re just giving us yet another superhero who comes into his or her power (actually, I guess they’re just male) and fights the bad guys, gets beaten down, comes back stronger and saves the day.

There is a definite élan to the first Iron Man, which updates the action from Communist China to Afghanistan during the War on Terror superbly well. Indeed, that’s one of the great things we see during the series as a whole, the way that they’re updated and made relevant, almost. For sure, they all exist as pure escapism, and they’re all just great adventures that you can sit back and bask in the effects without needing to really think. But I do find it quite fun to watch the development of Iron Man, the one that started it all.

The Avengers is also an amazing film for the fact it managed to pull together so many A-list stars and not feel like it favoured one too heavily. It was nice that we’d been having hints and shadows of SHIELD since the very beginning, but that film very definitely exists in a SHIELD world. It’s almost ten years old, and I still can’t quite believe they managed to pull it off!

Phase One has got some great stuff in there, though. I think it’s possibly because of the fact that they’re starting off, and so all the big names are being established. Things are definitely getting more niche in some of the post-Infinity Saga stuff that we’re hearing about! There’s a lot to enjoy in this first act, I found myself in particular enjoying Captain America more than I remember, and Jemma was appreciative of Thor as a sort of classic fantasy movie merged with the conspiracy-theory stuff based here on Earth. Things definitely began to get unwieldy after this, although I do think Phase Two managed to keep a fairly decent lid on things until it all seemed to go nuts in Phase Three. But that’ll be for another blog!


Now then. I was up in the attic recently, trying to choose my next book, and I came across a stack of unsorted Magic cards, which seem to have been my last purchase from maybe 12-18 months ago? Feels like it might be longer, though I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, it brought back a lot of memories, and I have been doing a bit of tinkering with some things, in the hope that – as I said before – real-life gaming may well be on the cards once again.

They’re mostly from Ikoria, though some M20 in there as well. I need to get to grips with what I’ve missed since I was last interested in all this stuff. Was it War of the Spark, last time I paid attention? Can’t remember… It’s been a long time, anyway, though seeing these things, and flicking through them, and even the smell – it’s all triggering those fond memories, and it’s got me wanting to build decks again! Let’s hope that it won’t all be for nothing, though…

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you can expect to see some more Magic blogs here, as I attempt to catch up with what I’ve missed!

Age of Sigmar: Dominion

The new box set has been previewed! This thing is choc-full of interesting goodies, featuring Stormcast vs a new breed of Orruks, the Kruleboyz. We’re firmly in the realm of beasts, and we have some swanky new Stormcast models, the first (I think) since Soul Wars updated the range a few years ago.

The new Stormcast look like they’re a tougher breed than the wizards we had last time, but this addition has got to be making their battletome really quite bloated. Interesting.

The new Stormcast do look nice, of course, and I really like this character, as I think I have mentioned before:

She looks utterly amazing, don’t you think?

However, these are what has got me most interested in the box. The Kruleboyz have got a cunning look about them, and seem much more intelligent than the regular greenskins. I’m intrigued because it’s always nice to see a new race involved in these games, and there is an element of world-building that will be interesting to explore.

The big hero miniature is quite something, for sure, and I love the dynamism of the pose, with his big battle cat leaping down off the ruin. The draping filth off these things is really evocative of the swamp, and these guys are just brimming with character!

The sorcerer chap looks particularly funky, with his sous-chef assistant there.

There is a very interesting mix of guys, although of course they all follow the established pattern of having some leaders, a heavy group of warriors and a larger mob of more runty chaps.

This doesn’t seem to be all that’s coming though, as we’ve seen previews for a few more units for each force, including a Stormcast chariot (like the olden days! Chariots for all!) and this for the Kruleboyz:

It’s a wonderful piece of artillery, though they’re also getting a very angry troll:

The Mirebrute Troggoth looks wonderful, and I can’t imagine being able to resist this dude when he is released into the wild!

However, I’m finding it very hard to get excited for this box, because of the paragraphs towards the end of the article. It’s up for pre-order in June, but it’s another of these “while stocks last” thing. I don’t understand it. I was able to pick up Soul Wars about six months after the launch, but this is the same language as Indomitus, and that box disappeared at a rate of knots. Given the way things have been with the big boxsets of late, as well, I really have no faith in the Dominion box being any different – it’ll be available for pre-order for maybe 20 minutes, and then it’ll disappear. Which will no doubt make for good reading for the shareholders, but is disappointing because the odds are it won’t be available for the people at whom it’s intended.

But lets not end this on a downer. The new Orruks look wonderful, and it’ll be interesting to see how third edition changes the game – and whether we’re in for any more new races!

The Adepta Sororitas

Hey everybody,
Welcome back to the second part of my Codex deep-dive into the Sisters of Battle, this time looking across the wider suite of rules n the book and seeing what I can make with the models that I have.

Last time, I was looking at the army-wide rules and how they all fit in with what the army is trying to accomplish. Now, I’ve started to re-work my list ideas into something that I will have to aim for, without trying to get too far ahead of myself, of course! There’s always the danger of running away with myself when doing this sort of thing – building a load of models up, and then feeling overwhelmed by it all! I’ve moved away from the initial list that I had made,

I’m aiming for 1500 points, though I don’t want to worry just yet about how I will fill all of this. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting more troops, of course, and with the new releases on their way I want to keep my options open for what new stuff I’ll be sprinkling in.

I’m playing Order of the Sacred Rose, as I’ve said before. The rules for this Order Conviction are:
– no more than one model can flee when a Morale test is failed;
– regain one Miracle die on a 5+ after performing an Act of Faith;
– Overwatch attacks hit on a 5 or 6.

In addition to the usual relics and warlord traits on offer, there is a stratagem for the Order that allows for hit rolls of 6 during Overwatch to score 1 additional hit. Wonderful stuff!

Let’s start at the top, anyway, with the Canoness. The warlord trait that I have chosen is Light of the Emperor, the Sacred Rose specific trait that allows for the warlord to gain one Miracle die after performing an Act of Faith, with no roll needed. The relic she has merely improves the damage output of the blessed blade from D3 to a flat 3. I’m not really sure how to use the model yet though, as I’m always a bit wary of throwing my warlord into the thick of things, but there are a number of stratagems that can protect characters – and even bring them back from the dead, if need be!

I’m intending to run the Canoness around with her bodyguard unit of Celestians, anyway. The squad has a slightly better stat line than the basic Sisters squad, though both units can equip one heavy weapon and one special weapon, or two special weapons. They have a better WS, and more attacks, which could be seen as making the case for equipping the Celestian Superior with a fancier weapon, but the chainsword is always a solid option for granting one additional attack! I’m going for a general theme of having my Sisters preferring melta weaponry, so the squad has a meltagun and an inferno pistol in there. However, there is also the heavy flamer, and three bolt guns, meaning that it is a viable target for the Holy Trinity stratagem, which gives +1 to wound if flamer, melta and bolt weaponry all fire at the same target. In addition, Celestians can re-roll hit rolls while within 6″ of a character model, so I think it’ll be good to keep them close to the Canoness!

Let’s talk about close combat now. I said before that I’m planning to have the core of the army reflective of the launch box for the new army, so I’ve worked in the squad of Sisters Repentia with the Repentia Superior to chivvy them along. The elite slot is really heavy in a Sisters army, though the Repentia Superior doesn’t count in it while she comes alongside a group of penitents. However, when I start wanting to expand into the Dialogus et al, I think I’m going to need a new detachment!

The Repentia can re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 6″ of the Superior. They also have the Zealot rule, which allows them to re-roll hit rolls if they charged or were charged that phase. So there are definitely options to improve their accuracy. 8 attacks in the squad, at S6 AP-3 and 2 damage each, togged up with these re-rolls, should be quite nice! The Repentia also have their own stratagem, Final Redemption – when the unit is being attacked, each time a model is destroyed, you get to inflict a mortal wound on the attacking unit on a 4+. There is also the option, for 3CP, to get the unit to fight again at the end of the fight phase, which may also be useful!

The arco-flagellants are one of the ecclesiarchy battle conclave units that are allowed in the army. They also have the Zealot rule, and have a unique stratagem, Extremis Trigger Word. This one is interesting, because the regular group of three – two flagellants and an endurant – has a base 7 attacks. However, for each attack, you make D3 hit rolls, and the stratagem makes that a flat 3. So 7 attacks, making three hit rolls each – 21 dice, at S5 AP-1 and 1 damage each… oh yes! The only downside to this is that you must then roll a D6 for each model, and on a 6, they die.

The group of Retributors that I’ve recently put together is made up of a pair each of multi-meltas and heavy bolters, with the Retributor Superior has a combi-plasma and power maul. I’m still not a big fan of the Superior’s pose, it looks incredibly awkward somehow, but anyway. Retributor Squads also have a unique stratagem, which costs 2CP and allows you to choose an effect depending on the weapon load out – +1 to hit for a heavy bolter OR re-roll the wound roll for a heavy flamer OR +12″ to the range of all multi-meltas and +1 damage for a multi-melta. Having a pair of multi-meltas, I think I’ll probably be using it for them, as the range increase will mean the melta effect will kick in within 18″, but will still give them the same range of the heavy bolters.

I’ve got the Penitent Engine in here for some added threat – it’s not a particularly big model, if I’m honest, though it’s bigger than anything else in this line-up, armed with a pair of heavy flamers and capable of 5 S8 attacks at AP-3. Very nice, but I do worry about it getting stuck in with only being T5 at 5 wounds. There’s very little to bolster it, being an Adeptus Ministorum unit, though the same 3CP stratagem as the Repentia have does apply to the Engines as well, allowing them to fight twice.

Something that I’ve been backwards and forwards on multiple times, though, is the Dominion squad. The purpose of these girls has eluded me for a while, flicking casually through the Codex, but it’s clear that their intended purpose is to move up the board as quickly as possible to maximise on positioning, and then either objective-camp with their fancy weapons, or aggressively go after a choice target. They really are a special weapon showcase, being able to take four of them per squad. On the competitive scene, the go-to load-out seems to be four storm bolters, to use the Blessed Bolts stratagem. For 1CP, you can make storm bolters AP-2 and D2 each. That’s pretty good, although I find it a bit boring to equip the squad entirely the same, you know? So I’ve added in some meltagun girls because they’re going to be moving significantly, anyway – the melta effect comes into play at 6″, but even at their maximum range of 12″, that’ll put the storm bolters into rapid fire range for some serious threat.

I would just like to point out, as well, that the Battle Sisters box, which can also be used to build Dominions and Celestians, comes with four of each special weapon, so you don’t get shafted if you’re trying to build them as Dominions. Excellent stuff, there!

Of course, as with a lot of the ranged units in the force, there are a few targets for specific stratagems that I’ve mentioned; the Sacred Rose-specific The Emperor’s Judgement allowing for exploding hits on 6s in Overwatch will be useful for a variety of units, after all. Blessed Bolts can be used by the regular Battle Sisters, one of whom has a storm bolter, etc.


I think this is going to be a good start to the army, though of course with a new Codex on the way, who knows how any of this will hold over? Yesterday, I was reading the latest Battle Sister Bulletin that began to tease new rules for the army, giving us six battle hymns that we can have a priest sing at the start of the turn. It reminded me a lot of Canticles of the Omnissiah for the Adeptus Mechanicus, though I suppose the Prayers to the Dark Gods from the Heretic Astartes might be more appropriate. These priests can provide some very nice aura effects, such as causing auto-hits on 6s for bolt weapons fired by a unit within 6″, or to shut down any psykers attempting to manifest powers at a nearby unit. Very powerful, that one, and what I find more interesting is that the Dialogus is now seemingly classed as a priest, herself – as well as the new Dogmata model.

I know not everybody likes the new model, but I can certainly see a place for her with these hymns being on the horizon!

At any rate, I’ve got plenty to be getting along with here, so hopefully I can make a concerted effort to get painting these models next! We’ve got a long weekend coming up, and it’ll soon be time for my May retrospective, so keep an eye out for some progress on the Battle Sisters, soon!!

The Adepta Sororitas!

Hey everybody,
It seems to have been a while! Real life has, sadly, been intruding once more, as we count down the weeks until the birth of my second-born, and with just 5 weeks to go, I suppose it’s inevitable that I won’t have the time to do as much on the blog here! For the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been looking at my Adepta Sororitas army, the Sisters of Battle that I was initially very excited about getting my hands on, only to then flounder a bit with my search for a colour scheme. I’ve gone from wanting something like the Deathwing colours, to a traditional Order of the Sacred Rose, to now coming up with something that is pretty much entirely my own. I’m not turning into one of these folks who comes up with the lore for them, though – they’re definitely being played as Order of the Sacred Rose (unless the 9th Edition Codex changes my ideas!) but I wanted a colour scheme that I could replicate across a lot of models without much fuss.

I mean, what kind of masochist wants to paint an all-white army?!

The scheme that I’ve chosen is a pale blue, with all-grey robes and then red gun casings. I’d initially attempted green casings, but I think the red is definitely a better spot-colour for these guys. They’re still very much a work in progress for the time being, but I am finally enjoying myself working on them – much more than I was in the past!

Sisters of Battle

For the time being, I’m still working towards the list that I’d outlined back when I set out my hobby goals for 2021, though I really think it could be time for a change, especially when the second wave of new releases comes out this summer! For those of you who didn’t click the link, though, this was my first attempt at building a Sisters army:

There is a lot here that I’m probably going to change. In particular, I think I may swap out the Immolator for the new Castigator, as I do love that model. While I have both Celestians and Dominions in this list, I’ve actually been at work building the Retributor box, after having built up a solitary heavy bolter girl before leaving the rest of the box. Eventually, of course, my plan is to have the core of the army made up from the contents of the launch box from back in the day, as I think the combination of Battle Sisters and Seraphim is just a glorious one!

The Rules
Lately, though, I’ve also been spending some time trying to figure out the army rules. I’d say the 8th edition ruleset from their Codex was fairly baffling to me, when I first picked it up, due to the fact that it feels very much like 7th edition and the need for a separate rules glossary to make sense of it all. This blog will form the first of a two-part look at the army rules, as I try to get to grips with everything that is available to the Sisters.

There are three rules that almost all Adepta Sororitas units from the army have access to, which are referenced elsewhere in the book: Acts of Faith, Shield of Faith, and Sacred Rites. Acts of Faith in particular is quite the lynchpin of a lot of the force, and it has a lot of influence on other stuff like warlord traits and stratagems.

Acts of Faith is a mechanic that uses Miracle Dice, of which you gain one at the start of each battle round. In addition, there are four other ways to gain Miracle Dice at the end of a phase – one of your units destroys an enemy unit; a CHARACTER unit from your army is destroyed; a psychic power is resisted by a unit from your army, and rolling an unmodified 1 for a Morale test. Splendid!

Miracle Dice form a pool that lasts until they are used – when you gain one, you roll a D6 and its result is the value of that dice. When you come to perform an Act of Faith, rather than rolling a dice you instead substitute it for one of your Miracle Dice, so it’s like you’re pre-selecting your dice results. You can do this for Advance rolls, Charge rolls, Deny the Witch tests, Hit rolls, Wound rolls, Saving throws, Damage rolls, or Morale tests. Importantly, if you perform an Act of Faith on a Deny the Witch test, for example, you wouldn’t then gain a Miracle Dice if the psychic power was successfully resisted. Also importantly, if you then re-roll the dice, you do not re-roll the Miracle Dice used for your Act of Faith; so it’s important to differentiate which dice are which.

You can only perform one Act of Faith in each phase – so you couldn’t substitute Miracle Dice in for the hit, wound and damage rolls in a single shooting phase, for instance. However, there are a bevy of rules that do interact with this stuff, such as the Simulacrum (standard-bearer) model in a unit allowing you to perform an Act of Faith even if you’ve already done so in that phase. Several units come with Incensor Cherubs, which allow you to gain one Miracle Dice but roll 2D6 and choose which one you want. My chosen Order, the Order of the Sacred Rose, as the ability to regain Miracle Dice on a 5+ once a unit has performed an Act of Faith. It’s quite the integral mechanic for the army, and it had been bothering me that I had been getting a bit confused by how it works until I recently sat down and properly drilled down into the Codex at last!

This is massively different from the last rendition of the rule, which was a bit like a suite of Psychic Powers, where there were different Acts with different effects, and you had to roll a dice to see if it goes off. You could attempt to perform these Acts by spending “Faith points”, the number of which was based on the number of units in the army.

Shield of Faith is a rule that grants a 6+ invuln save, but also turns each unit with the ability into an anti-psyker unit, allowing them to take Deny the Witch tests. They only roll a single D6, though, rather than 2D6, so if an enemy psyker rolled 6+ on their psychic power roll, it’s not going to do anything. However, the Battle Sisters have got undying faith in the Emperor, so they aren’t so easy to overcome! There is a stratagem that allows the unit to resist the psychic power on a 4+, regardless.

Sacred Rites is an additional army-wide rule that grants one of six effects for the whole battle. At the start of the battle, you can either choose one or roll 2D6 for two random ones, and they’re in effect until the end. There is a stratagem for 1CP to change the rite, as well, giving some control over it. Similar to the Space Marines combat doctrines (although it makes me think most of the Grey Knight Tides).

The effects of these Sacred Rites are not particularly overwhelming, but can be extremely useful based on the type of army that you’re running. One allows you to add 1 to advance and charge rolls; one grants an auto-hit for a melee weapon on an unmodified roll of 6, etc. Interestingly, though, it’s the “Aegis of the Emperor” effect that has my attention: add 3 to Deny the Witch test rolls. So Shield of Faith will now only be useless if the psychic test roll was 9+. And they still have the stratagem to fall back on.

As an interesting aside, the Sacred Rites are based largely on the older Acts of Faith from earlier editions.

I imagine a Sisters army to be quite the thing to behold, when it is working in perfect sync. They have access to a lot of firepower, and although the models are only S3, they have enough tricks up their voluminous sleeves that they shouldn’t be wiped off the table without a fight.

Of course, the Codex does feel a little bit like two books in one, because there are a number of Adeptus Ministorum units folded in that feel a little bit like they’re an afterthought. When the range was re-done in plastic, these hangars-on were, for the most part, left. So Death Cult Assassins, Crusaders, Missionaries and Preachers are all still in metal, sadly. Of course, Blackstone Fortress gave us a plastic Preacher and Crusader, and Rogue Trader gave us a plastic Death Cult Assassin, but it is a shame that they’ve been left out, to some extent.

The only non-Sisters plastic re-make was the Arco-Flagellants box, which has the Adeptus Ministorum keyword, but can still be included in a Sisters army thanks to having the Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave keyword, one of which units can be included without losing the Order Conviction for your overall army. It feels a bit like they should either have also re-done these oddball units, or maybe just forgotten about them entirely?

Anyway, I should probably stop rambling now, and go paint some more Sisters! Make sure to come back later in the week for part two though, when I continue to delve into the Codex and look at how I can start to build out my army. I’ll also try to bring further updates to my painting adventures as I get further along with the army, so stay tuned!!

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, and Dave’s review is now here! Be warned, though, punches have not been pulled!

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!!

Flashpoint: Argovon

Hey everybody,

I’ve been looking through a bunch of old White Dwarf magazines to read up on the Warhammer Underworlds articles that I always used to skip, given my new-found obsession with that game, and I thought I’d take a look at the Flashpoint stuff that was published there at the end of 2020. A three-part narrative campaign system, Flashpoint: Argovon System gives a narrative rule set for games that follow the developing story of the Task Force XI.

The system is deep within the Pariah Nexus, and forms a site of strategic importance in the Imperium’s war against the Necrons, which seems to be the main focus for 9th edition. In the first part of the campaign, we have Theatres of War rules for three distinct worlds, as well as a set of eight new Agendas. The planet rules are wonderful additions, giving rules such as ‘Miserable Weather’ on Sarronik, or ‘Avalanche Risk’ on Hishrea. I love stuff like this, though it does tend to be forgotten about when you’re trying to cope with a myriad other rules going on!

The Agendas are very interesting, especially because they’re pretty much all for armies that don’t have codexes yet, so it gives a nice bit of extra crunch when playing games. There is one for the Necrons, though, as we’d probably expect from the narrative. These all gain a mix of war zone points, which contribute to the win conditions, and experience points.

Part two gives correspondingly fewer rules than the first part, but does give us bespoke missions to play. Both are for the Crusade system, which I still need to properly understand but seems to fit strongly with narrative play. Each mission has custom stratagems and agendas, to further add to the unfolding story, though part two is mainly about the xenotech!

A new agenda, Search for Xenotech, allows infantry and biker units to search terrain to gain one point; there are four universal stratagems that can be used for one xp and one cp, giving benefits of cover as well as providing pretty offensive benefits in the shooting phase. Some quite nice effects there, which will perhaps make the agenda action worth performing!

Xenotech continues to be important in the third and final part of the campaign, where players get to choose a stratagem from a list of six on offer, starting with the player who has the most points. The stratagems are quite nice, and I think they’re probably geared towards those armies who don’t yet have a codex to give them more options. I’m not sure I could say they would make it worthwhile gathering as much Xenotech as I could during the previous campaign phase though!

We also get two more Crusade missions, following the story of the Argovon war. Lastly, we have the rules that come at the end of the campaign, assigning battle honours and crusade relics. These are quite nice, as it happens, and the relics are only available to those players with XP. So I guess there’s the incentive!

Overall, there are some pretty great things going on with this idea of Flashpoints – while the rules are perhaps a little more sparse than I’d have thought would come in this kind of thing, I suppose the rules team don’t want to lavish too much work on this kind of transient content. The real meat, though, comes in the narrative bumph included in the articles. Each instalment runs to more than 20 pages, making this about half the size of a regular campaign book from 8th edition. The articles are all written from an in-universe perspective, and alongside the main text we have plenty of additional material, such as journal extracts, and planetary profiles. It really reads like the kind of material you’d find in a sourcebook for a role-playing game. It’s the sort of effort that I really appreciate, and makes me feel ever more justified when my wife asks me why I’m keeping old magazines!

We’re currently now in the middle of the Charadon War Zone, which seems to link in with the Book of Rust, so I guess that we can see these types of Flashpoint articles continue in White Dwarf for a long time to come! They’ve even bled into the Mortal Realms to tie in with the Broken Realms series. It does seem like a great use of space within the White Dwarf magazine – my only criticism of it all really is that it’s coming out in the middle of a global pandemic, when we’re not able to meet up so freely with friends and play games!

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 🤣