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!

Fallen Angels

Hey everybody,
After having put it off for years, I’ve finally read the eleventh book in the Horus Heresy series, Fallen Angels.

I’m a bit out of sync, then, as the previous novel that I’d read was the 28th entry in the series, Scars! Fallen Angels is a direct sequel to the sixth book, Descent of Angels, a novel that I have grown to dislike so much since I first read it back in the day, that I have projected that dislike onto its sequel without really much thought. However, after discussing it with Dave of wordaholicsanonymous fame, I decided to go for it and see what I’ve missed.

As it turns out, Fallen Angels isn’t all that bad. It’s not a great novel – I’m not about to start evangelising about it to you all – but it certainly holds a place within the chronology of the Heresy, and much like Dave says in his review, this book makes so much more sense of the last one. It’s a fact that doesn’t make me like Descent of Angels any more (a book that requires a sequel to make sense of it?) but I can at least let go some of that annoyance with the earlier entry!

Fallen Angels has two storylines, as we once again follow Zahariel and Nemiel on their progress with the Dark Angels Legion. Zahariel is among the space marines exiled to Caliban with Luther, after the events during the Compliance of Sarosh (where Luther kinda conspired to kill the Lion) while Nemiel is in the thick of things with the primarch himself, as news of Horus’ rebellion spreads and the Dark Angels are given the task of denying the traitors access to the Forge World of Diamat, close to the Isstvan system. We’re sort of behind the times in this book then, in that the dropsite massacre hasn’t yet come to pass, but Mars has already fallen so we’re following on from the ninth book. If ever there was a novel in this series that shows how skewed the timeline is when you try to read these books in order, surely Fallen Angels is it!

I’ll be discussing spoilers from here out, so be warned!

On Caliban, Zahariel learns of the rebellion against the rule of Luther, led by some former knightly masters who see the Imperium as slave-masters and are trying to restore their freedom. Zahariel is a staunch Imperialist, but is dismayed to see the rifts forming between those Caliban natives and the marines (and others) imported from Terra, and even more dismayed when he sees Luther seemingly begin to sympathise with the rebels. Investigating possible rebel activity in the old Northwilds, he discovers a foul rite that has taken place, bringing immense worms into existence and feeding off the life-energy of humans. He learns that this was merely a test for a much larger ritual that seems to be formented by Terrans, and so Luther and the Dark Angels descend on the ritual site, only Luther seems to want to bind to his will the creature that these sorcerers have seemingly brought forth from the Warp, using Zahariel’s powers as a Librarian to do so. The creature dissipates and Zahariel effectively dies for five minutes, but is brought back to life by the Master of Caliban, who later on promises he’ll be better-prepared next time…

Meanwhile on Diamat, Nemiel is leading a landing party against the traitors in an effort to take back the Forge World, but the Dark Angels soon discover that the Forge has fallen and its leader, Magos Archoi, is actually in league with the Dark Mechanicum. The extent of the Magos’ treachery is cunningly played out as the Warmaster’s reinforcements arrive, as Horus is intent on retrieving some Titan siege-guns he had the Forge World make for him around fifty years earlier. The Dark Angels are able to use a Dreadnought in their party to operate one of these siege guns and deflect the Sons of Horus from their objective, but the epilogue is just dripping with irony as the Lion hands over control of the weapons to none other than Perturabo.

I’m weird. I wanted to not like this book, as I wanted to feel somewhat vindicated for my dislike of Descent of Angels all these years. While I didn’t end up loving it, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. There were maybe two chapters that were outstanding for me, both of them in the Diamat storyline, where we see some fairly brutal city fighting that felt incredibly cinematic and really well-executed: the rush to rescue the Dreadnought drop pod after landing on the world, and then the defence of the Forge against the landing of the Sons of Horus. There was something really visceral in the writing here, where you could really picture the bombed-out cityscape, with the Dark Angels running through the ruins covered in dust… really very well done, that!

The Caliban storyline felt like a pretty slow-burn, as the intrigue was explored around the divisions between Terrans and Calibanites, something that felt entirely natural following on from the earlier book, and I suppose something that keeps up the theme of several novels that have dealt with those kinds of divisions. We saw it with the White Scars as well, and I’m sure there are plenty of other instances where the “native” troops feel themselves much more special than their Terran fellows, as they are (in their own minds) closer to the Primarch. Here, though, it is only part of a much larger conspiracy that begins to set the wheels in motion for Luther’s betrayal of the Lion, and provides that whole foundation for the Dark Angels being divided into the Fallen (Luther’s followers who fell to Chaos alongside him) and the Unforgiven (those Legionaries who stood with the Lion).

However, this book subtly posed the question of the Lion’s loyalty by bringing up the idea that he may have understood the wild beasts of Caliban to be linked to the Warp, and by insisting on hunting them to extinction, it then leaves the people of Caliban open to the Warp taint, as they had previously shunned those areas because of the beasts.

As I said, the book does provide some degree of legitimacy for having a sword and sorcery novel in what is otherwise a fairly hard sci-fi setting, and while I did end up enjoying this book more than I’d expected, it’s not exactly in my top five from the series so far. If nothing else, though, I’m glad to have finally made the time to read it!

March Plans

Hey everybody,

I seem to be in a bit of a hobby wilderness at the minute, in fact I haven’t really done much of anything all week so far, so I thought it might be a good idea to draw up a plan of attack for the month, before things get too out of hand, and I end up with a March retrospective blog that is devoid of anything!

Let’s start with Necrons. I’ve got these two guys looking pretty good, in fact the Royal Warden has been almost finished for quite some time, already! I’ve got a few finishing touches planned for him, then I’ll hopefully be able to get the Plasmancer finished off in short order for another fairly quick win – just the plasmic lance really that needs work doing to it. I’m particularly pleased with myself for this one, because work only actually started on the model on Sunday. 

I’ve recently decided to sell off a bunch of models, including all of the Primaris stuff that I’ve kept but not had any kind of plan for. As such, I spent some time at the end of February building up the rest of the Necrons from Indomitus so that I could sell the Primaris half including the instructions! In addition, I’d seen Garfy’s Chronomancer painted up and looking fantastic, which really prompted me to get back to painting these guys.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLzzPtEHJs-/?igshid=1cxnofh59q3zt

Along with the Plasmancer, I’ve now received the Psychomancer model so need to get moving with that! I’ve heard that it’s a difficult build, with the digital skull face thing that he’s summoning and all, and looking at the sprue I can well believe it! It does feel a little fiddly, but I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with that!

As you can see, I’ve also been stocking up with Fantasy stuff, getting the new Shardspeaker model for the new Hedonites of Slaanesh, as well as the Agents of Chaos “battletome” for Warcry. I’d like to get that Shardspeaker built, if not fully painted too, I’ve got some interesting ideas floating about for my Slaanesh models, which will be nice to explore further. I also want to get at least another game in with Warcry, because it kinda haunts me that I’ve only played that single game! So that’s going to be something else to aim for!

Talking about playing games though, I also want to get more Arkham Horror LCG played! I’ve now started to put up some blogs on my Circle Undone campaign, which has been a long time coming as I think I did start to play this one early in January! I’d not been wanting to play too far into the campaign without getting round to the write-ups, but now that I’m pretty much up to date, I think it’s time to continue on with the witches!

I’ve used this segue before, but speaking of witches, I really need to make more of an effort to catch up with WandaVision. I mentioned briefly the first episode in my January catch-up blog, but have now watched I think up to episode 6, and I’ve been really impressed with how the series has just gone from strength to strength. I think the second episode, where the beekeeper comes through a manhole only to be “re-wound” by Wanda, is truly where this series lit up for me. On the surface, it’s quite a nice retro-feeling show, but there is so much going on beneath the surface that it really sucks you in! I’m toying with the idea about writing more about it, but I don’t really have that much more to offer than has already been shared around the internet! 

I think the last episode is out tomorrow, so maybe it’ll be a weekend of binge-watching to the finale!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CL464FLn2q1/?igshid=1ggklhl0oq12n

I started to read Fallen Angels earlier this week, the eleventh book in the Horus Heresy series. I’ve basically gone back in time, then, as I’ve actually read up to book 29 at this point – but I couldn’t get into the sixth novel, Descent of Angels, so put this one aside as it is something of a direct sequel. After reading Dave’s review of Nemesis over on wordaholicsanonymous, though, I’ve gone back to see what I’ve missed – I’m only about 100 pages in, so it’s still early days, but I’m hesitantly thinking that it is better than the earlier book! The review will of course be coming once I’m done!

Feels like this might be a busy month for me after all…

February Retrospective

Hey everybody,
Another month has been and gone, and it’s once more time for another retrospective blog! I’m quite enjoying this idea, so hopefully that’ll continue for the year ahead! It’s been a pretty productive month as well, with a lot more hobby and stuff to report!

Since last month, I’ve been making terrific progress with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, which was most recently chronicled in my update blog, here. I’ve now got 590 points-worth of the bone-boys painted up in the colours of the Petrifex Elite. It’s been a lot of fun painting these chaps, although for now I’ve taken a small break as I look at what else I have that needs attention.

The next part of my plan for the Bonereapers is to have the Necropolis Stalkers painted, although I’m not sure whether to build them as the Stalkers or the Immortis Guard. It is on my radar to get more troops, although I’m kinda waiting for the inevitable Start Collecting box, which will likely have these guys in there. Unless they go for a cavalry box? That said, with 40k moving to these combat patrol boxes, I don’t know if they’re planning to continue to do these for much longer. At any rate, for now I’m continuing to build and paint what I have, rather than branching out and buying yet more miniature men.

Quite the sea-change for me, really!

At some point in the near future, though, it’ll be the turn of this magnificent specimen, and I cannot wait to get this one built!

In the middle of getting this small army of mine assembled, I did a little work on the nascent Black Legion that I’ve been wanting to get off the starting block for quite some time now! I’ve been inspired by Martin Sivertsen on Instagram and his own burgeoning Black Legion force! It’s a beautiful force, and I think it’s about time that I got somewhere with my own. In addition, I’ve also been hard at work building up the remaining models from the Necron side of the Indomitus box (I’ve decided to sell the Space Marine portion, more money for the stuff I do want!)

I’m still not a huge fan of the new Necron aesthetic of shambling robot zombies, but the army is of course my first love, and I do find myself enjoying the look of the new Crypteks, so have picked up a Psychomancer for the list that I talked about a while back, and I’m planning to start work on painting the Plasmancer pretty soon. That juggernaut of GW painting, Garfy, posted yesterday showing the new Chronomancer mini and it’s absolutely beautiful. Probably going to be a while before this one is released separately, but I suppose it’s at least four more months before we will see the lockdown restrictions removed here in the UK, so I’ve got the time! I’ve got a lot of disparate ideas for 40k floating around, but it seems as though I’m much more likely to focus myself on Age of Sigmar right now.

Slaanesh has been on my mind of course, now that we’ve had the new range of mortals released. I’ve picked up the Shardspeaker, such a fantastic model, but have otherwise reined myself in here. In all honesty, this is a force that is a long way off just now, and I’d rather keep focusing my efforts on the bone boys to get a decent sized force finished.

In addition to the Bonereapers and Slaanesh, I’ve had my eye on the Lumineth Realm-lords, following the latest Warhammer Preview this month. There are some very beautiful miniatures in this range, to be sure, and I’m trying my hardest to resist buying anything just now! There’s definitely something Old World about these minis, that makes me nostalgic for the old days. I keep thinking I might just pick up a box of the basic infantry, just to have a go…

Lumineth Realm-lords

So far, though, I have been a good boy!

Something that I haven’t been able to resist, though, is this:

The “latest” expansion for Warcry is a few months old now of course, but I’ve been thinking on it for quite some time, vacillating over whether to get it or whether it was a bit steep for the content involved.

However, I am glad to have it, despite all the negatives floating around online! Warcry is absolutely one of the things near the top of my list right now. I’ve been wanting to get further into that game recently, although I’ve still not played it after that game back in September. I’ve got the Iron Golem models from the original core set primed and waiting, and I’ve been thinking that may well be the next project to get underway with. Of course, Warcry could be the perfect way to start with Slaanesh when the time comes, and I’m sure I’ll be exploring more of that here!

Arkham Horror LCG The Circle Undone

At least I’ve been playing Arkham Horror LCG, and have managed to get started with recording my endeavours on the blog here! With working from home more regularly during the current lockdown, I’ve found that I have the time while on my lunchbreak to get a game in, which has been quite good for getting to explore the game some more.

Taking a sharp left turn now, I watched The Phantom Menace last weekend, for the first time in what feels like an age. It’s hardly the best film in the series, of course, but it did feel quite wonderful to be watching Star Wars once again, and I did feel really quite nostalgic for the whole saga. I used to watch the prequels almost every Christmas, while reading a selection of the novels and comics set around there – to the point where I had almost developed a set scheme for “my prequel Christmas”. I do quite miss the days when I had nothing much going on, and could read a 400 page book in a day, happy times! I’d like to try and get back into that maybe someday here, revisit the old days and chronicle some of those classic tales here – though much like with the Legacy series I re-read last December, it’ll be interesting to see if these things hold up.

Something that I have finished reading this month is the Warhammer Crime anthology No Good Men. I really enjoyed the first novel in the series, so had been looking forward to reading more. Anthologies can always be a bit ropey, and I think this one is no different. Seven short stories from Black Library alums (including Chris Wraight, author of the inaugural Bloodlines), all set on the world of Alecto and around the hive city of Varanganthua. The thing is, after Bloodlines, and after a couple of stories here, things begin to sound all the same. Probators going about their investigations, etc. There are a lot of missing persons, it seems, in the hive city, and I found myself wanting a bit more variety. I’m not really that down on the book, of course, but things just tend to blur into one at the end. Individually, the stories are pretty good, and very enjoyable with that noir feeling. Some are better than others, of course, but I definitely like the change from space marines and the like.

I’ve got Flesh and Steel, the next Warhammer Crime novel, ready and waiting. But I’m also hearing such good things about the first Star Wars High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, that I’m thinking I might have to pick that one up sooner than later.