November Retrospective

Hey everybody,
The end of the year is fast approaching, and it’s been really great to have these monthly retrospective blogs to look back on the progress that I’ve made with all manner of projects – hopefully they’ve been as interesting to read as they have been to write!

For November, the pace seems to have been a bit slow, as we slide towards the festive season. I’ve been reading a lot of weird fiction this month, which has shown itself in two blogs covering a variety of stories from contemporaries and followers of HP Lovecraft, before then the man himself popping up last week with The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I do love a bit of cosmic horror, and I think it’s been good to read some of the more extended mythos stuff this time around. It’s all very uneven, of course, and a lot of these stories could hardly be called masterpieces, though they are fun, which for me is the main thing. I am planning to read more of Lovecraft’s own horror stories over Christmas, of course, so do stay tuned for the traditional Mythos Delvings blog!

Reading so much weird fiction has, of course, gotten me back into playing the LCG. Having kinda planned out a series of games with Trish and Agnes, playing through some of the standalone scenarios, I’ve since pushed this idea to the side in favour of an actual campaign once again: The Innsmouth Conspiracy has well and truly started! I’ve built new decks, for Stella and Zoey, and hope to finish that in the coming week or so. I’ve got next week off work, so fingers crossed I can have more games then, if nothing else!

I have been trying to get somewhere with my painting though, and after a month off in October, I’ve been back to the Genestealer Cults, getting more Neophyte Hybrids painted up alongside an Acolyte Iconward and a Clamavus. These characters weren’t part of my original scheme, so it may mean that I end up not completing the 500-point list by the end of the year – that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it! I’m hoping to move onto the truck next, and still have the 5 Hybrid Metamorphs to do something with. So, we’ll see how far we get. But hopefully it’ll be a nice-looking little force, so I’m excited for that!

The Genestealer Cult hasn’t really been languishing for it, but I have moved on a little bit to another little project. After starting to read the third novel in the Grey Knights series, Hammer of Daemons, I’ve obviously moved on to these fellas once again, as it’s now a bit of a tradition for me to see how far I can get with them! I’ve got another 5-man Strike Squad on the table currently, along with a Brother-Captain. My painted Grey Knights are currently somewhere on a par with my painted Genestealer Cultists, in terms of size, so I suppose there’s a nice symmetry there in terms of building up both of the smaller forces. While I did initially think 9th edition might mean a slimming-down of my backlog, both of these armies are quite beautiful, and I really feel that I want to keep them.

My big news for November is that I’ve actually played my first game of Warhammer 40k this year, at last! Lockdowns do get in the way of these things, don’t they? JP and I took the tried-and-tested Chaos Space Marines vs Necrons out for a spin, but as ever, we spent most of the evening talking about all manner of junk and didn’t get much gaming actually done! I’m still not wholly sure about 9th edition, if I’m honest – I think it might be the subject for another blog, but I’m still not entirely in love with it. Which is slightly concerning, because if the recent pattern still holds true, we’ve only got about 18 months left before 10th edition rolls around…

It hasn’t even changed a great deal from 8th edition, really, it’s just the additional stuff in the rules have made it feel like it’s an overly complicated game now. When I sat down with the core rules a while back to try to make sense of them, it really surprised me just how little has actually changed. It certainly isn’t the seismic change from 7th to 8th that I experienced as my first edition change, but there’s something just stopping me from really enjoying it. I think this is probably something to explore in another blog, though. I might have a smaller-scale game with the Genestealer Cult and my mate James’ Black Templars soon, though, so maybe playing with a smaller model count might make things a bit better to understand, etc! Of course, that has its own problems when playing with an older Codex for the Genestealer Cult. Hm.

At any rate, I have been thinking that I would like to get more of my Necrons painted – I do have a lot of Necrons painted, for sure, but I need another ten Immortals, 5 Lychguard and 5 Tomb Blades to be finished before I can say that I’m happy with the force as it is. I’ll then be turning my attention to the stuff that I currently have painted, but which could be done better – some stuff like the Annihilation Barge could do with a bit of work to make it a bit more visually appealing, I think. So, I’d like to try and get the models that I think of as “finished” up to a better standard. Then there’s all manner of other units I need to turn my attention to.

I’m really chuffed to have got my hands on the new set for Warcry, Red Harvest, and have already started to build up some of the models from it. The design team are really knocking it out of the proverbial right now with this stuff, and I am utterly bowled-over by how good this stuff is. I think the terrain is what got me interested in this box, but the actual game content seems to be really great, too. It’s always nice when you get something like this – essentially a box of plastic – and there is a great rule set to go alongside it! My current plans, though, are to build up the new Tarantulos Brood warband, then potentially try them out in some regular games of Warcry with the core set stuff. It might be quite some time before all of that terrain is built, after all!

I have no more plans to attach to any of my hobby things right now, though. I think I just want to concentrate on getting my Genestealer Cultists done, and seeing where I can get to with the Grey Knights and the Necrons. If I can build and/or paint anything else, then that’s a bonus for me! I’m looking forward to making my way fully through the Innsmouth Conspiracy, and will have some more thoughts up here when that is all said and done. Who knows what else the month of December may hold? I do have some time off to look forward to, so there could be many exciting things yet to fill 2021!

Warcry: Red Harvest (first look)

Hey everybody,
So I am a very lucky boy, it seems, and have been able to snag myself a copy of the new Warcry: Red Harvest set, which came out a couple of weeks ago and looks an absolute delight so far, I have to say! I’ve not been able to get a game with it yet, because much like the original core set, there is just so much stuff in there to build, but I thought I’d come along here for something of a first look, and general geek-out over the new plastic!

And what new plastic it is. We get two honking big Chaos-infused industrial machines, two substantial, multi-storey platforms, a whole bunch of sluices to create all manner of layouts, and the barricades from the original Warcry set.

This stuff does look really nice, and I think it was certainly the thing that initially attracted me to the set. It’s the sort of thing that just really captures my imagination, and I know I’m definitely a sucker for these sorts of releases, but it definitely excites me for these types of games!

The story of this box is the pursuit of varanite, a type of realmstone particularly attuned to the power of Chaos, with which warbands can become super powerful. Enter the two forces clashing in this set, the Darkoath Savagers and the Tarantulos Brood. It’s always great to get more Darkoath models, as it brings me closer and closer to that dream of reworked Chaos Marauders. There are a total of ten Savagers in the box, which makes them one of the biggest Warcry specific warbands, I think? At first, I did think they might just be a close repeat of the Spire Tyrants, who were almost the generic Chaos Marauder style band, but these do have a very nice aesthetic that is noticeably different to the other band, not just with a different paintscheme.

The Tarantulous Brood is unlike anything we’ve seen before, a Chaos cult devoted to Chaos Undivided in the guise of an eight-legged spider. They are specifically seeking varanite to enact foul mutations, bringing them closer to eight-limbed perfection, and it is just utterly bizarre – I love it! I think they’re going to be the first warband to get my attention, when I finally get round to building these things up!

The new rules are particularly exciting, I feel. Of course, most of this is the basic Warcry stuff, but the new terrain comes with new rules for the Varanite Delve machinery – as the expansion is set in the cursed mine of Krath, there are rules for using the machinery against your foes, such as turning it on to flood any sluices with molten ore, or using the moving parts to crush foes who are dealt damage when next to the machinery. I really liked the look of this machinery when we first saw the set shown off, but with all of these additional rules it is really giving me Temple of Doom vibes, and I absolutely love it!

As ever, each warband has got two bespoke quests, each of which uses the new terrain, and we have a new type of quest, Branching Quests, which are aligned to each of the four grand alliances. These are really quite something, and remind me almost of a Choose Your Own Adventure style thing – after the first convergence, there is some fluff to read, and you’ll choose which path you want to follow, which will give you additional options to complete your quest, with spoils of war appropriate to the final choice you made.

It’s a very nice addition to the game. We also get the core rules, along with stuff about narrative campaign play (no open or matched play rules though, curiously). So it’s a strange one, especially if this is your first taste of Warcry as you’ll also need to get the core book. I do like the fact that GW has listened after the Catacombs thing, and we have battleplan cards for this box. That’s always a nice touch, even though it doesn’t look like we have the boxes for them this time? Unless I’ve not found them in my box, of course!

I do like the dice that have come in the box though – they are much more square than the rounded-corner dice from previous sets, so they land better!

In general, as a Warcry fan, I really like this set. I think it is glorious, unlike anything GW has put out previously with the mining terrain and the Chaos spider stuff. I’m really looking forward to having more toys in the toybox when it comes to this game, so it’s definitely time I started building this stuff!

On a somewhat-related note, I wonder if we’re getting a Tome of Champions 2021? With the Branching Quests for all four alliances in this book, I don’t really know what else we could expect to see in the annual round-up book. Of course, that’s probably why I don’t work as a game developer, and they could have all manner of good stuff up their sleeve, but I think I would have expected to have seen it by now, if it was indeed in the works? Didn’t the last one come out with Catacombs?

Well, anyway. Red Harvest is a very welcome addition to the line up. I’ll doubtless be coming back here in the coming weeks, as I build up some of this stuff – maybe even paint it! You never know…

What’s Going On?

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a while since I had a catch-up blog here, though it’s not exactly like things have been hectic or anything, so I’m not sure what’s up with that. At any rate, November is quickly slipping away and it won’t be too long before I’m here with my penultimate Retrospective post of the year! That said, I thought it might be nice to just take five minutes and ramble about what’s been going on, almost to move me along with some things so that the Retrospective post will actually be a decent read!

I’ve been very heavily immersed in weird tales the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reading a wide variety of weird fiction by many contemporaries of HP Lovecraft, and have also made an early start on reading more by the man himself, stay tuned for a blog coming next week on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward! It’s always nice to read some of these stories at this time of year, as it seems really cosy and whatnot, now that the days are shorter and colder. Just the ticket for reading about weird and fantastical goings-on!

Perhaps inevitably, then, I have returned my attentions to the LCG, and have built up a couple of decks for tackling The Innsmouth Conspiracy! I finally picked up the first mythos pack for the cycle a good few weeks ago now, after feeling a bit disappointed during its release that I couldn’t play it because of missing that pack. I’ve had the Stella Clark pre-built deck sleeved up for about 12 months now, but after a half-hearted attempt with her and Winifred Habbamock at the Excelsior Hotel, which felt like it was going nowhere fast, I have changed the deck a little bit, including some cards which I think (hope!) will play better with my overall plans for her. I’ve paired her with Zoey Samaras from The Dunwich Legacy, too, as I had read on reddit that she was a decent companion. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter a great deal, as my pair of Daisy and Ashcan Pete for the Carcosa cycle really shouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as it turned out!

I’ve retired my idea of playing Trish and Agnes with the standalone scenarios, as well, favouring instead the idea of playing a proper cycle (I have enough of the unplayed, after all!) and slotting in some of the standalone stuff when I feel like it. We’ll see how that goes, anyway! For now, though, I’m very excited to be getting into another campaign for the winter season!

While I might be poised to start playing the Arkham Horror LCG once more, I have for now turned my attentions back to Warhammer 40k, and to the Grey Knights, no less! It’s another of my winter traditions, it seems, to be thinking about the incorruptible Chapter 666, and for the last couple of years I’ve been reading the novels in the Grey Knights omnibus. Hammer of Daemons is the third in the trilogy, and while I’ve only just started to read it, I am quite excited already to be seeing where this one goes!

I didn’t really get very far at all with my Grey Knights last year, in terms of painting them, so it’ll be interesting to see what progress is made this year, if any! I don’t think I’m going to be getting rid of these chaps anytime soon, though. I haven’t yet picked up the codex, unfortunately, but I’ve been hearing some very interesting things about how they play now in 9th edition, so I am curious to see what I can do with them on the table.

After basically taking October off in terms of painting, I have once more been painting miniatures, both Necrons and Genestealer Cults – my dreams of a 500 point force fully painted by the end of the year are still alive, people! I’m hard at work on another 10-man Neophyte squad, although I have somehow along the way also picked up the Acolyte Iconward, and the Clamavus, both of which I’m also painting as I go. It’s been quite the slog, if I’m honest, but I’m trying to make myself do a little bit each day, and so far, as you can see, they’re not looking totally terrible. I think a few more sessions can see the squad finished, if not the two characters, as well. Fingers crossed!

My biggest, and most exciting news, though, is finally getting in a game of 40k this year! Necrons vs Chaos Space Marines, me and my buddy JP back gaming, even if neither of us was really clear on the rules and spent the first 4 hours of our game day just talking about nonsense and general catching-up. We played one full round, after which I think I was ahead on points, though it was getting pretty late for a school night and we had to call it a day around midnight. A lot of fun was had, a lot of hobby love was rekindled, and we’re intending to play again soon, hopefully with the same armies and terrain set-up! Much to my chagrin, I hadn’t really looked at the models I brought with me, so ended up with a mixed squad of Immortals representing all-tesla chaps. So I’ve been building up five more Immortals, all-tesla, all the time. That will give me a massive blob of 40 Immortals, 20 each of gauss and tesla.

It actually prompted me to look into the possibility of an all-gunline Necron army, using the models that I either have ready or have on the to-build or to-paint pile. I can squeeze almost 2000 points of this stuff out of Immortals and Warriors, Tomb Blades, and the supporting artillery of a Doomsday Ark, an Annihilation Barge and a Triarch Stalker. Interesting… maybe one day I might try it!

I do like the Tomb Blades though, even if they are just horrendous models to build and to paint! I’ve got five tesla bikes, and three gauss bikes, all of which need painting, but I think I might make more of an effort with these at some point, because they have been a tremendous threat on the table – not because they’re particularly amazing, but their speed makes them look like a threat, so they formed a fairly decent distraction while the Praetorians I brought went up the other side of the table and ended up with Slay the Warlord between their pistol attacks and voidblades!

Despite seeing some really curious comments about Necrons being underpowered online, I thought that the new codex made them perform really well in the partial game we played a fortnight ago. However, I suppose that is against an army that is still using an 8th edition book.

Fingers crossed we can get in that rematch game soon, anyway! Stay tuned for more Genestealer Cults updates, and the exciting start of my Innsmouth Conspiracy campaign!!

Kill Team: Octarius (some thoughts)

I finally finished building all of the new Kill Team box up recently, so I thought I’d just come here and write a short bit of bumph about the new edition! I still haven’t played it yet, because children, but I’m rather excitedly planning for some dummy walk-throughs at some point, just to see how the things work in the new edition.

It’s been a couple of months now, of course – and we’ve got the next box set currently on pre-order, so things have definitely moved on! – but I think it’s useful sometimes to revisit these things at a remove, and see if the new and shiny was blinding me in any way to the actual value or worth here.

In terms of the actual plastic, there is a hell of a lot in here. I bought this from my local game store, so for £100, I’ve had ten guardsmen, twelve Orks, five substantial structures, and a bunch of scrapyard scatter terrain and barricades. It’s really quite brilliant value, when you think the two kill teams alone probably account for around £50-£60 of that. The terrain is nice and chunky, full of great little details, and given the size of the board we’re talking about, it really fills the playing field out well. It can combine to create an Ork fortress, or be used to make that kind of shanty town thing, plus combines excellently with the workshop terrain that came out a couple of years back, the scatter elements of which are reused here.

All in all, there is a tremendous amount of awesome plastic in here. The Death Korps of Krieg miniatures are simply beautiful, with an amazing level of detail that I really like and appreciate. They’re everything I suppose we can expect from models these days. The Ork models are similarly full of character, even the sprue is as crazy as the xenos themselves! Whereas the guardsmen can be built from parts clustered together on the sprue, the Orks have their bits scattered all over the place. Very Orky.

Of course, a lot of people seem to value these things in terms of the plastic content, and forget that Games Workshop have had to pay people to come up with a game that uses this stuff. The rules for the new Kill Team do take a little bit of reading to make sense, at least to me, but this is largely because it’s now a clear departure from the regular 40k ruleset.

There are three phases per round – Initiative, Strategy, and Firefight. The round is called a Turning Point, and each game takes place over 4 Turning Points. During the Initiative Phase, models are readied and given either Conceal or Engage orders. Conceal means your operatives are being stealthy, so can’t be targeted by the enemy, but it also means they can’t take certain actions. Engage has no limitations on what actions they can take, but it does mean they’re viable targets for the enemy.

In the Strategy Phase, you generate a command point, which can be used to pay for Strategic Ploys or Tactical Ploys. These Ploys are much like Stratagems in 40k, with Strategic Ploys being the kind of set-up type, use them beforehand when you expect something to happen (such as Overcharge Lasguns for the Veteran Guardsmen, which improves the gun profile for that weapon for all operatives before they shoot with it), while Tactical Ploys are played when that specific situation arises (such as Combined Arms, again for the Veteran Guardsmen, which allows for rerolls on an attack against an enemy that has already been targeted that round). I find it helpful to think of it in Magic terms – Strategic Ploys are like Sorceries, and Tactical Ploys more like Instants.

There is then the target reveal step, where you can reveal (if you want/are instructed to) any Tac Ops that you are trying to achieve. These are basically secondary objectives, and you usually pick around 3 per mission. The kill team you’re playing comes with an archetype, and you choose Tac Ops based upon that – again, sticking with the Veteran Guard, their archetype is Security, so they’d pick from there. Veteran Guard and Ork Kommandos have faction-specific Tac Ops, and the newer teams featured in White Dwarf, allowing for further customisation. In fact, getting rules like this is one of the reasons why I’m so attracted to the new Chalnath release, as I don’t know if the model for releases includes the actual rules you need for these teams outside of the big boxes.

The Firefight Phase is the main action, where operatives alternate activating, starting with whoever has the initiative. Each operative has an action point limit, for the Veteran Guard that’s 2 each, and they can do the usual stuff like move, shoot, charge, etc.

Shooting and Fighting is completely different from the regular 40k stuff. To start, you roll a number of dice equal to the attack value of the weapon, and compare it to the BS/WS of the model wielding that weapon. 6s are critical hits. Defence works interestingly, where the defender can negate hits with successful defence rolls (using 2 normal saves to negate a critical hit). Fighting follows a similar route, where you each select a melee weapon and roll dice at the same time – for each successful hit, you then choose if you are going to strike or parry. If you parry, you discard the dice and one of your opponent’s successes. If you strike, you can deal damage – whether as attacker or defender. It’s a very dynamic way to play, and sounds like it’s what melee combat should be! I suppose implementing this in a game the scale of regular 40k could be a nightmare of course, but who knows what 10th edition might have in store?

There are more rules for supporting fighters, and the like, rules for injured fighters where the stat line is worsened, etc. Objectives are controlled by whoever has the most number of APL on their models near an objective – that’s an interesting take on things, and works in the favour of some teams like Custodes, where each operative has 4APL. Aside from some pistols, ranged weapons have infinite range, which I find a bit baffling… but I suppose the board is small enough that it probably makes sense…

All of this is the core rules for Kill Team. Which is great – it’s an interesting new system with a very nice implementation of melee combat, and I feel like games will actually be pretty quick to play, and you could potentially play a couple of matches over an evening, which is a nice touch. The second big attraction of the Octarius box, after the shiny new terrain, is the narrative book. This has the missions that are themed to the Octarius storyline, as well as the rules for the specific Death Korps and Kommandos kill teams, which are much more extensive than the rules for generic teams found in the Compendium book. I know why GW released the latter, but in retrospect it seems like a move that soured a lot of the online community against the game at first – “why do the Death Korps get fancy rules when my Space Marines are boring?” etc. I suppose the answer to that is simply to wait, as the release model appears to be going through the factions slowly, with currently six fully-fledged factions now with rules (including the two White Dwarf articles and the upcoming Chalnath box).

It all just serves to heighten the fact that Kill Team is not intended as the same gateway to 40k that it was previously. Whereas before people could build a team from existing models, and then you might buy a box or two to create a new team and then perhaps consider a smaller army of those and so forth, now it seems very much that you’re supposed to just buy one box of models and that is your team. Well, maybe two of the same box. The Fire Team structure of the new style of teams means that you don’t have the same freedom that you had in the last edition, so you won’t necessarily need to buy a box of 5 or 10 models to get the parts for one operative. Having had a while to think about it now, I think it’s a really good move, and has already allowed for some pretty cool models – the upcoming Sisters Novitiates is a prime example of this, such an eclectic bunch and really full of character. I really love the fact Kill Team is getting its own releases, which remain compatible with 40k but aren’t ‘40k and also Kill Team’, if that makes sense? They’re primarily designed for this game, and much like the Underworlds warbands, will have rules for the main game system alongside.

That actually begs the question as to whether we’ll see increasingly wild Kill Teams? It’s all very well and good seeing a 10-man unit boxed up with a sprue of Fancy Bits to use in Kill Team, but what about having some more weird and wonderful ones? The upcoming Sisters team seems to be starting to break the mould a little with having a character-style model on the sprue, so they aren’t just ten of the same type of infantry, but whether we’d ever see a Haemonculus Covens team, for instance, which has two Wracks, two Grotesques, and some weird experimental part-mutant type thing, only time will tell! A lot of people are clamouring for Gaunt’s Ghosts to be released with Kill Team rules, which would be awesome but would give us a Commissar as well as some pretty specific Guard models (sniper, scout etc).

It very much speaks to something I talked about during the last edition, having Kill Teams of Renown or something, where you get a very specific bunch of models, not necessarily a team of ten of the same type of model. I suppose this is kinda what the Elucidian Starstriders were, a Rogue Trader crew with a variety of model types. I really hope they give us rules for those miniatures, heck I hope they find a way to make all the random Imperium models from this and Blackstone Fortress playable going forward! I also have fervent hopes that we’re going to see an Inquisitor and retinue!!

At any rate, it seems to be a very interesting rule set, and one that I’m looking forward to giving a whirl. The future definitely looks bright for the system, as well, although I’m not sure how many £100 boxes I’m going to want/be able to afford!!

Helsreach

This book is pretty damn good, I have to say. It took me quite some time to get through because it is really quite dense, in terms of the action and whatnot. It’s basically a war novel through the lens of 40k, moreso than any other book that I’ve read recently. I love ADB, don’t get me wrong, but there was just something about this one that made it sometimes a bit tough to read through.

We’re basically in the Third War for Armageddon, Black Templars vs Orks. The strategy employed by the Imperium is to try to annihilate the Ork fleet to prevent planetfall as much as possible, but the Ork fleet is just so unspeakably huge that this quickly proves impossible, and the Imperial fleet retreats, allowing for massive xenos landings. So it becomes a land battle, which becomes a siege as the Imperial defenders attempt to hold Helsreach Hive against the invasion, but the Orks have such overwhelming numbers in comparison to the Steel Legion and just 100 Black Templars. Of course, those Templars are led by Chaplain Grimaldus, who is an absolute beast himself.

Grimaldus is one of the small handful of point of view characters, but he is singled out by having his narrative told in first-person. It’s a very interesting shift whenever it happens, and does feel like he is the central character of the story. Being the chaplain of the Black Templars, he does give a very rousing speech calling all the elements of the Guard to battle shortly before the first wave of Orks attack the hive walls. Spoiler alert: he’s also the only Templar left by the end of the book, and is presented with the relics of the first founders of Helsreach for his valour in defending the hive – which is why his model comes with those three servitors lugging around stuff like the huge column and the tattered standard, etc.

We also have Andrej, a stormtrooper in the Steel Legion who provides something akin to comic relief in the book – as the novel wore on, the parts featuring him became some of those that I looked forward to the most. As the situation goes from worse to terrible, Andrej finds himself leading a group of civilian dockworkers armed by the Guard to defend against the Orks. Andrej becomes a very interesting point from which to tell the story moving towards the final stand at the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant, and forms a nice counterpoint to the serious business of the war waged by the Templars. Here is a guy who has no further orders, and the vox is down, so is doing his best to link up with any remaining members of the Guard, while leading this band of civilians.

Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of the Mechanicus storylines in these sorts of books. We usually see Titan Legions going to war and it really doesn’t interest me for the most part, but I did find myself interested in seeing these parts of the story unfold, I think in part because we get to read about life (to some extent!) in the cathedral on top of the Emperor-class titan, which is something new for me. We also see the rediscovery of the Ordinatus Armageddon – I’ve not actually read a book involving Ordinati before (at least, that I remember), so that was nice as well. Basically massive guns with some form of transport attached, the Ordinatus Armageddon is described as a nova cannon (the stuff voidships use to destroy each other) strapped to something akin to two landraiders. It’s the type of bonkers, over-the-top stuff that we have come to expect from 40k, of course.

We only ever see the Imperial side of things, and the Orks are reduced to just so much cannon fodder each time they appear, although their numbers never seem to dissipate. The war was led by Ghazghkull Thraka, and looms large in the 40k lore as the largest Ork Waaagh! ever assembled. The Imperials are led by Commissar Yarrick, although he barely appears at the start! I suppose this is very much a Grimaldus novel, though, and even when he’s not on the page, his presence looms large thanks to the other characters all having been linked by contact with him. Somehow, not knowing anything from the other side of the war does help to create a tension, as we can’t really anticipate what’s going to happen next. We don’t really know where they’re going to strike, etc – although it soon becomes apparent that any offensive where the Orks are involved, it’s all going to turn to hell soon enough!

The ending was a little disappointing, in that it’s basically a case of the seasons changing, and Armageddon itself fighting back. The world turns to an ash storm, and everyone has to break off and go to ground. A bit disappointing, but given how far the war had gone, I suppose the only way Grimaldus could survive to have a miniature of him in the game was for some kind of stalemate or extraction. Ah well!

The Third War for Armageddon is the stuff of 40k legend, of course, being part of a worldwide campaign back in third edition. Black Templars vs Orks was the stuff of the starter set, which was infamous for having the nicer-style deffkoptas that have only recently been redesigned. The Templars had a huge focus back then as well, and of course they too have recently been reimagined for 9th edition, while still remaining somewhat faithful to the older style artwork.

I did enjoy the book, although it was hard-going at times. If you’re a Black Templars fan, it’s pretty much required reading, and given the new Black Templar models being released right now, I think it’s probably moving further up many peoples’ reading lists!!

October Retrospective

Hey everybody,
October has been and gone, and it really seems to have been in the blink of an eye this time! I honestly didn’t think it would be over so quickly, but here we are, once again time for a retrospective blog! It doesn’t really feel as though I have all that much to report this month – it might just be that I’ve been asleep for a week or two in the middle of the month. I mean, not much to report + not feeling like an entire month has passed. Hm.

Arkham Horror 3rd edition

This month, I’ve been attempting to write a game blog every Tuesday, like in the old days with my Game Days. I was quite pleased to finally get my Arkham Horror 3rd edition blog written up, as I had originally played that back in January and had been meaning to write up my thoughts on it all year! I also think that I need to play that game more often – writing the blog reminded me of how good it all is, really, so I would definitely like to try it out again soon! I realise that I say this a lot about stuff, and then never get to do so, but fingers crossed that I’ll start having evenings again before too long!

Arkham Horror is still quite the juggernaut of the “serious” board game landscape, in my mind. The amount of stuff that goes on within the game is really quite something, and yet it doesn’t feel quite like it takes over, somehow. I think there’s just the right amount of depth and game to keep it nicely balanced. I think the only down side to the game is just how long it takes – between set up and actually playing the game, it isn’t exactly an easy game to make time for. But I’m kinda glad for that, because those are the sorts of board games I do find myself enjoying, on occasion. Stuff like Runebound from back in the day could take you a good couple of hours, if you wanted, and it’s nice to have a game that can absorb you like that.

Not quite the other end of the scale, but I’ve been playing a lot of the Hellboy board game as well, after talking about it in my board game ramble last month. It’s definitely a game that I needed to get to grips with, and despite only chalking up another three plays with it, I think I’ve spent enough time now with these boxes to understand what it is that I’ve got – basically, I have a lot of options for a fairly neat and straightforward game system. The massive box full of miniatures, the decks of cards that I wasn’t entirely sure about – pretty much all of that now does make sense, and while I’d hesitate to say I’m an expert, I have more of an understanding of the wider game, beyond the tutorial, so that’s definitely good! It’s also been good to play with the Conqueror Worm expansion, and see stuff beyond the frog monsters of the core set. While I haven’t had the opportunity to play it yet, I’ve also been setting up my own random case file deck, stacking it with certain enemies to get some variety involved for me! So that is something to look forward to!

It’s been really nice to get some board games played this month, as it’s something I’ve really missed. I mean, 40k is great and all, but it can be nice to “get back to my roots” as it were! True, I haven’t really been playing the full breadth of games that I used to, but it’s been good regardless! In addition to a lot of Hellboy, I’ve also managed a game with Arkham Horror LCG, playing one of the standalone scenarios. Back in March, I played the Return to Night of the Zealot campaign with Trish Scarborough and Agnes Baker, with the idea that I’d link up a couple of the standalone scenarios as well. It’s only taken me 7 months to get back to this idea, but I’ve played The Curse of the Rougarou, and it was quite an interesting one.

Curse of the Rougarou was, of course, the first “expansion” for the game, coming out not long after the core set and, if memory serves, before The Dunwich Legacy began. It’s a very early scenario, and I think it really shows its age now with some of the newer stuff that we’re used to. The scenario is in two stages, the first where we’re trying to find the voodoo priestess Lady Esprit, who has some information for us about the killings in New Orleans. Once the first act advances, the Rougarou itself is placed onto the board, and a second encounter set is shuffled into the deck, which ramps things up a little. Where I think the design falls down a little is the fact the Rougarou itself is placed on a location, and one of the objectives can be to defeat it. By knowing where it is, that kinda removes the sense of investigative dread that I think the scenario was trying to evoke. If there had been, perhaps, three cards placed face-down, and one of them was the monster but the other two were some kind of decoys, maybe that would have been a better way of doing it? For the most part, you have some low-key swamp leeches and otherwise evocative “ripples on the surface” treacheries, but the Rougarou itself doesn’t seem to want to fight you – indeed, you need to spend clues to engage, and then he runs off when he takes damage, leaving a trail of clues in his wake! During the early stages, I was tooling up my investigators to deal with the threat, and with Trish’s evade shenanigans to keep it there, whereupon I just whaled on it and possibly managed to defeat it? I’m not sure – I certainly forgot the bit about needing to spend clues to engage it, but if Trish evaded first, and used those effects to deal damage, before then fighting an exhausted enemy – does that count? Did I play it right? Not sure how the rules interact on that one, so I went with it and put it down to Trish being a super spy, she was able to find the trail of the beast, then Agnes came in with all the spectral power of Hyperborea behind her to finish it off!

Agnes, you may recall, died during the Night of the Zealot’s Return, but I’ve decided to keep her around because she’s a mystical character, and so has come back from her experience stronger than ever before (she had a Crystalline Elder Sign in her opening hand, which I think is a very thematic aspect to her story!)

It was an enjoyable game, not least because it was my first game with it for 7 months, but I can’t help thinking that the design has moved on, leaving this as something of an odd duck overall. I do like the storyline, and I do like the idea of chasing the monster through the bayou, but from this vantage looking backwards, it just feels like we’ve been spoilt so much by the other campaigns. A product of its time, maybe? Compared with the core set campaign, it’s head and shoulders above. But – assuming I played it correctly – the card pool has grown so that things are a lot more manageable nowadays. It’ll be interesting to see how Carnival in Venice plays, at any rate!

What else has been going on?

Oh yes – I think I might be starting a new army! Well, I probably will be starting a new army, but anyway. During the dim and distant past, I was very much into the Lizardmen for Warhammer Fantasy (I’ve talked about this a bajillion times, how the artwork from Warhammer Invasion got me sucked into this world, and how the rest is history…) Back in 2014, when I was making my first tentative steps in the hobby, I did actually make something of a start with them, as well, but it never got off the ground, and I moved around so many different projects that they were eventually sold off. However, I’m really feeling in the mood for building up a small force of them.

I don’t want to go crazy right off the bat – I’m thinking literally a Start Collecting box and that’s it for the time being. In terms of colour scheme, I think it might be nice to go green rather than turquoise, but I’ll see what I feel like when I have the models. It’s an exciting project, at any rate, and I think it might be good to have a new army to work on – hopefully they’ll go as great as the Ossiarch Bonereapers, and I’ll have loads of new minis painted up in next to no time! Ha!

Weirdly, though, I’ve not actually picked up a paintbrush at all during October. After deciding to make a real push with my Genestealer Cult, and after deciding to make an effort with my Tyranids, I haven’t actually done anything this month! It really seems to have flown by for me, and I think having some parenting adventures that have kept my evenings otherwise occupied, it has led to this dearth of hobby over the month. The only thing I have done is to build up the Delaque specialists box during the middle of the month – some very weird miniatures in that, let me tell you! Of all the games, I’m really hoping to get some more time for Necromunda soon – it’s been a fair few months since James and I had that initial game, and I really hope that things settle down enough for me that I’ll be able to get a rematch in before the end of the year, with or without painted specialists! I’ve not really made any effort to look at the House of Shadows book yet, other than a few cursory flick-throughs, but hopefully it won’t be too long before I’ll be playing for real, and can get to see what I’ve been missing! Fingers crossed.

It surprises me, in some respects, when I look through my logged plays on boardgamegeek, there is no Warhammer 40k at all this year. Indeed, hardly any of my logged games have been with real people! While to some extent that’s the pandemic for you, in my case it’s also the down side to having two children under two years of age! Whenever I say, “I hope to play this more” and the like, it’s really a prayer for bed time to go nice and easy, and for them both to just sleep through the night! Hopefully that’ll come to pass soon, though, and normality can resume! Fingers, as ever, are crossed!

Next month, then, I’m really hoping that I can get back into painting minis, and I’m also hoping to play either Arkham Horror again, or at least play the case file I created for Hellboy. Stay tuned!

Another Warhammer Preview!

It’s been quite an exciting preview this time around, hasn’t it? Not perhaps choc-full of surprises in some respects, but even so, it’s been really good to see what’s coming over the hill!

To start with, 40k has had the next couple of codexes shown off, Custodes and Genestealer Cults! They’re also getting a new battle box that is showing off a new character model apiece. The GSC Saboteur model is very nice, I must say – I’m not planning to get the box, but I will pick up that model when she’s released separately!

There’s just so much character there!

Age of Sigmar has had the next battletome shown off, the Maggotkin, and the next season of Warhammer Underworlds has got its next warband in the shape of a pirate ogre – including a pirate monkey with a knife!

I think it’s a really nice callback to the variety of Ogre Maneaters of the Old World. Similar to the other ogre warband that was just the one guy and a bunch of creatures, I guess that’s the template here. Interestingly, they have said this is the way forward now, kinda weird warbands that go a bit more into the corners of the mortal realms. Very intrigued as to what that could mean, I must say!

So, this wasn’t something I was expecting. I’m not an aficionado of Blood Bowl, though I have heard of Dungeon Bowl. It does kinda intrigue me how this works, playing American football in the dungeon? Not sure if I’d be intrigued enough to pick it up, though, because let’s be honest, there is rather a great deal of awesome stuff coming out right now, and my gaming budget is being hammered!!

Yes, that’s right – a new starter set for Warcry, and this one is so much more up my alley than the Catacombs set. I mean, dungeon battles are an interesting take for the game, but I think this looks much more like the sort of box that launched the game. I’m getting a lot of Temple of Doom vibes from the mining terrain – though many people have likened it to Goblin Town, too. There is some incredible looking terrain, and the warbands are a very nice inclusion – the spider guys are really quite original, and it’s lovely to have some more Darkoath warriors. A prelude to seeing the Chaos marauders getting a refresh? 🤔

It looks like it’s going to be a really good set, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it!

Oh yeah, and there was this!

Now, I don’t collect these chaps, and I’ve moved away somewhat from the Heresy in terms of the game, but it’s always pretty nice to see these event-style miniatures. Very nice!

So there we are, another preview day! New Warcry is definitely exciting me the most, but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the book for the Cultists.

Warhammer 40,000 (a history)

The point of this page is to try and help to get my head around when all of the editions of 40k came out. People online (and in real life!) often refer to the glory days of fifth edition, for example, and I have no idea what that means – was it 10 years ago? 20? Well, if you’re like me, you can wonder no longer!

Warhammer 40,000

First edition (1987)
The very first edition of Warhammer 40k bore the subtitle of Rogue Trader, and had much more of a RPG feel to things. Throughout this period, the background was being developed, including the Horus Heresy backstory and stuff about the Orks and the Chaos gods.

Second Edition (1993)
Second edition took the lore to a very dark place, really emphasizing the grim dark feel and the hopelessness of the Imperium situation. Special Characters from the setting became a big thing at this time, as well, leading to the popular moniker “Herohammer”.

Third Edition (1998)
The first major rules re-write. While first edition was pretty skirmish-based, things had been moving more towards bigger battles, and third edition introduced many xenos races such as the Necrons and Tau, as well as branching out the codex structure generally, rather than publishing army lists through White Dwarf and other supplements. The biggest thing was how streamlined the game became, with movement standardised and the system becoming based solely on D6.

Fourth Edition (2004)
This edition was backwards-compatible with many of the recently-released codexes. There were some tweaks to line of sight, but on the whole things were kept the same as previously. Two new expansions for the game were produced at this time: Cities of Death, and Apocalypse. Battle for Macragge was the starter set for this edition.

Fifth Edition (2008)
Fifth edition saw the beginning of finecast replacements for metal figures, and while previous editions had sought to streamline the rules, this time around, many rules (and models) were added back in, albeit in a new way. Rules such as Power from Pain (for Dark Eldar) and Imperial Guard Orders were brought back at this time. Also: true line of sight became a thing! Assault on Black Reach was the starter set for this edition.

Sixth Edition (2012)
Psychic Power cards are introduced! Flying vehicles also got a proper subset of rules, and several other aspects were reworked for this edition. Imperial Knights were also introduced as a playable model, and rules for greater interactivity with scenery were also added in. Dark Vengeance was the starter set for this edition.

Seventh Edition (2014)
My edition! The first one I played in, anyway. The actual Psychic Phase was introduced, and Maelstrom of War became a thing. In addition, the Lord of War slot – previously models produced specifically for Apocalypse – became playable in regular 40k.

Eighth Edition (2017)
The most radical redesign since Third Edition, with a complete overhaul of the rules – a slimmed-down version of which was released for free online. The lore was also moved along, with the galaxy torn in half by the cicatrix maledictum. And primaris marines were born! Dark Millennium was the starter set for this edition.

Warhammer 40k 8th Edition

Ninth Edition (2020)
Mainly a tweak from Eighth, with most of the rules backwards-compatible. The Psychic Awakening series that came out at the end of the previous edition made for a much more smooth transition. Indomitus was the starter set for this edition.

Lizardmen!

Lizards! Lizards everywhere!

It’s that time again, when I start thinking about another army. Does this happen to anyone else? Just me? Hm, interesting. I’ve almost started a Lizardmen army before, as they’re one of those races from the Old World that really inspires me, though I think back when I was seriously thinking about it, I had that many projects on the go that it got a bit lost in the mire.

That was back in 2014, when I was first getting into the hobby and was a little bit all over the place as regards projects! Following on from the first attempt at building this army, I made a few purchases again a couple of years later. But that never really got off the ground, either! 2016 was a busy time after all.

I’m honestly not that sure why I got rid of these things though, they do take me back to my very early days with the hobby. Back then, it was the artwork from March of the Damned that started it all for me… That huge, calculating Slann on the front of that box – even now, it’s something that I really enjoy.

I can’t really say what it is about the Lizardmen that intrigues me so much. I know very little of their lore – or that of the Seraphon, as they’re now known, but I just like the slightly meso-American vibe they have with their jungle stepped pyramids and whatnot. I do like my fantasy in settings outside of medieval Europe, though.

I didn’t really get very far with the army back in 2014 or 2016 though – just a few skinks and the finecast models at the first attempt, then a single Saurus Knight later on. It’s like it was never meant to be!

From what I’ve heard, the lore of the Seraphon is quite bonkers, something to do with beings from the stars, and you can either play them as being star-stuff or “coalesced”, which gives you access to different rules in-game? I don’t know. Bonkers stuff, but I suppose I just need to get the battletome in my hands. That said, with 3rd edition and whatnot, I’m not sure if it’s going to be worthwhile picking up the book if there could be another one out at some point. There has been a rules update in the current White Dwarf, which I had tried to read through but couldn’t make much sense from. At least it’s allowed me to make a start getting to grips with the new lore, though!

So, what about the army plans?

Well, in short, I’m not sure yet. I’m planning to pick up the Start Collecting set soon, as I think that’s a nice mix of infantry, cavalry, and a big centrepiece model. I would like to get a slann, but I’m not entirely sure about HQ units just yet. As far as colour schemes go, while my first thought is invariably ‘go with the box art’, I’m considering either reds and yellows, or bright greens. Maybe some purple thrown in there as well. That’s one of the big attractions of the army, to me, the bright colours would be a nice change after some of the grim dark 40k stuff. Should be a nice change, I think, anyway!!

At any rate, I’m thinking 2022 might be the year of the lizards – much like 2021 was (for the first few months) the year of the skeletons!

Genestealer Cults in the Black Library!

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a long few weeks as I’ve been reading some Genestealer Cults stories – or re-reading, that should be, as I have actually read both of these before, I’ve just never talked about them on the blog! As I’m still on the Cult kick at the minute (although painting has stopped due to lack of brushes!) I thought it was appropriate to get in the mood, and all that!

Cult of the Warmason is first on the list, and shows a Cult uprising on the shrineworld of Lubentina while the besieged Sisters of Battle attempt to put them down. There is a lot of story here, as we see the battle sisters defend the Warmason’s cathedral against the cultists. The Warmason of the title, Vadok Singh, was the man who helped design the defences around the Imperial Palace on Terra during the Heresy. The Ministorum clerical staff refuse to call for aid until it is too late, and when they think that the Adeptus Astartes have arrived to answer their call, instead it is revealed that the Iron Warriors have arrived to reclaim one of the relics in the cathedral. The cathedral becomes a nexus of the fighting, as the Astra Militarum, the Sisters, the Cult and then the Iron Warriors all converge upon it. The Cultists get the relic first, and so the Iron Warriors follow them into the catacombs below the surface, followed closely by the Sister Superior while all goes to hell up above. The Iron Warriors confront the Patriarch of the Cult, and eventually recover the relic, which turns out to be one of Perturabo’s flawed creations. In keeping with their primarch’s wishes, the launch the device into the sun, and leave the planet. While the world burns, the Sister Superior escapes Lubentina with the genestealer infection…

Like I said, there is a lot of story here, and it almost needs more space to be told at times, as the narrative feels a bit like it jumps around a bit too much. I love the inertia of the ruling Ecclesiarchy and Ministorum council, and there is something wonderfully gothic and very 40k about the flashpoint being centred around a monumental cathedral. However, the story did feel a little bit like it shouldn’t have been constrained by a page count, which is something a lot of Black Library books almost have in common. Perhaps if the Iron Warriors storyline hadn’t been included, things would have had the room to breathe a bit more? I believe that plot links in to the Space Marines Battles novel Siege of Castellax, also by CL Werner, which is on my list to investigate at some point, so maybe I’ll think differently when I’ve read the background there!

However, I also think the novel suffers a little from comparisons with the next book that I read…

Cult of the Spiral Dawn is the rebranded novel from Peter Fehervari originally published as part of the Legends of the Dark Millennium series, back (I think) when the original Genestealer Cults codex came out at the end of 7th Edition. There are a lot of similar ideas to the Warmason book; Sisters of Battle and Astra Militarum fighting the Genestealer Cults uprising on a remote world, but there the similarities end. Spiral Dawn is somehow a lot more complex, and yet also a more compelling read. It starts with the genestealers besieging the abbey stronghold of the Sisters of the Thorn Eternal on the planet Redemption 219, then fast-forwards a century to the arrival on world of a group of pilgrims seeking the light of the Emperor through the Cult of the Spiral Dawn, an officially-sanctioned sect of the Imperial creed. However, when the pilgrims land, a hundred are pressganged into the Vassago Black Flags regiment of the Astra Militarum, who are on some obscure guard duty, though nobody has explained to them what they’re guarding. The tension mounts from the Imperial side, while we get some glimpses into the activities of the Cult and their kindred followers, until it all boils over with the emergence of the Primus war-leader. The colonel of the Black Flags is almost seduced by the Magus, but in so-doing he learns of the existence and location of the Spiral Father, and launches an assault with his ogryn bodyguard while the on-world Inquisition presence also launches its assault. Despite the carnage of the assault, three of the purestrains manage to escape Redemption for deep space…

Also included in here is Cast a Hungry Shadow, a short story that takes place within the narrative of the novel, dealing with the early years of the genestealer infestation and filling in some blanks around the betrayal of the Sisters. There are some interesting threads in the story, which felt a little confused towards the end, but ultimately it is the tale of the cult securing their hold on Redemption, the discovery of an untrained psyker hiding beneath one of the spires who is taken in by the genestealers to birth their Magus. There are some interesting scenes in the story, particularly involving another cult, called the Scorched Creed, which may or may not be a Chaos Cult dedicated to Khorne.  

I do think that Cult of the Spiral Dawn is one of my favourite 40k novels. I hadn’t really realised that I’d read it before – I mean, I knew that I’d read the Legends hardcover, but I didn’t remember which one that book was. It’s a really good story – some of it could perhaps do with a bit more meat for the bones, and help to further the atmosphere, but it’s still a really good story. It’s also my first exposure to Peter Fehervari’s Dark Coil … series? I’m not sure if you could call it that, but all of the 40k stories that he has written are linked in subtle ways, either with shared characters or worlds, etc. It’s an incredibly interesting way to write in a shared universe and carve out a niche without limiting yourself to staying in a random corner. The links in this book to the Fire and Ice novella, for example, give the sense of history without feeling forced, if that makes sense. It’s really good, anyway – I like it a lot! And will no doubt be investigating more of these stories in the not-too-distant future!