Scars

Hey everybody,
It’s been a while! I’ve been working my way slowly through the twenty-eighth novel in the Horus Heresy series, Scars. Written by Chris Wraight, one of my favourite Warhammer novelists, it’s actually a really good read, albeit a bit of an odd one. Originally serialised online back in 2013, the story does have some elements that mark it out as such, such as the occasional recaps.

View this post on Instagram

#nowReading #HorusHeresy

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

The novel, unsurprisingly, features the White Scars legion front and centre (I think the only time we’ve seen them previously was the sixth novel, Descent of Angels). The legion is a bit of an anomaly, as they are still almost always deployed as a single unit, rather than in multiple warbands to multiple fronts. The legion has, up to this point, been deployed on Chondax. We get a lot of background on them, following in particular two initiates and their careers in the legion – one a Chogorian called Shiban, and a Terran called Torghun who was originally intended to join the Luna Wolves. We also follow the primarch himself, Jaghatai Khan, as the pacing is quite broad during the beginning. The system has been cut off with Warp storms, however, leaving the Khan awaiting orders, and his legion subsequently restless.

In contrast, we also see the Space Wolves dealing with the aftermath of the battle on Prospero. While they are licking their own wounds, they are set upon by the Alpha Legion, some of whom board the Wolves’ ships and, when confronted, state that they are doing the Emperor’s work.

When the White Scars emerge from the storms, they receive multiple conflicting orders, including from Rogal Dorn asking for them to join him on Terra for the defense. The Khan, going against all of the orders that he has received, decides to go to Prospero to see for sure if Magnus has been defeated, and in an effort to learn the truth of what is happening in the galaxy. The planet has been utterly devastated, and teleporting down to the surface with his keshig guard, the Khan is beset by psychic ghosts and separated from his bodyguard. He discovers a psychic projection of Magnus however, who confirms that the Space Wolves attacked his legion, although he understands now the reasons for his censure.

While in orbit, it emerges that there are several warrior lodges within the legion, however, and as the novel goes on, it transpires that these lodges are in communication with the Sons of Horus, and believe that their true purpose is to join them in their rebellion. One of the lord commanders of the legion, Hasik, effectively leads a coup on the ships, awaiting the arrival of the Sons of Horus to join them. However, the legion who arrives to support the coup is the Death Guard, with Mortarion joining Jaghatai on the surface in an attempt to convince him to join Horus’ cause.

Needless to say, Jaghatai is not to be swayed, and things are finally made clear as regards what is happening in the universe when Targutai Yesughei, the legion’s chief librarian, arrives with news that the Warmaster has indeed gone over to Chaos, having himself come across some survivors from Isstvan III in the course of his travels across the galaxy.

Horus Heresy Scars

This is actually a really great book, one that I enjoyed a lot. The atmosphere of uncertainty in the galaxy at this time is captured really well, in particular with the use of the Alpha Legion launching their attacks on both the Space Wolves and the White Scars. The inclusion of the Alpha Legion, and their misdirection, was quite a masterstroke really, as their presence is often guaranteed to add to the air of confusion.

There is a fantastic battle sequence when the White Scars punch through the attack of the Alpha Legion – we get to see that they are really a unique legion for their use of speed. They use a lot of pseudo-Mongolian throughout the book, which I was surprised didn’t interfere too much with the telling of the story as things went along. Often with such things, I find them hard-going, but there was obviously just the right amount used that meant it wasn’t hard to keep track!

The book is a little odd in that the story seems to just forget about the Space Wolves around halfway through. Of course, I’m not a Space Wolves fan at all, so I’m not really missing that side of things, but it did feel a bit strange how they were just left out. Anyway! It was really interesting to see the events of the burning of Prospero revisited, too, and to see what has happened to the planet since the attack. Of course, it was a little bit contrived how one Thousand Sons legionary had managed to survive and led the keshig guard to safety, etc, but I suppose the narrative needed something!

Something that I keep coming back to, though, is just how effective the atmosphere of the unknown is here. The Khan really doesn’t know who to trust, and so reverts to his old friend Magnus, with whom he had pushed so strongly for the use of the librarius within the legions. There is a moment of great irony when Yesughei remarks how the Edict of Nikea has effectively hamstrung the loyalists, removing their greatest weapon against the traitors and their Warp-craft. Even though we’re still roughly around the mid-point of the series, there is a sense already of trying to pull together several plot elements from across the wider Heresy, and making a cohesive narrative out of things. Whether that was intentional or not, I don’t know, but it’s really quite remarkable how the author is able to make the book feel like the legion have been sidelined, keeping them apart from the rest of the goings-on in the galaxy, but at the same time pulling together these plot threads to make it all feel like one long story. Bravo, that man!

Overall, though, I thought this was a really fascinating look at the legion that has been somewhat on the sidelines for the series up to now. We’re 28 books in, and only now seeing yet another “new” legion – crazy! Of course, we haven’t really met the Night Lords or the Iron Hands in proper novels, either, which just feels ridiculous now that I think about it!

The Unremembered Empire

View this post on Instagram

#nowReading #HorusHeresy

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

Last week, I finished reading The Unremembered Empire, the 27th novel in the Horus Heresy series. I’ve not read one of these books since Betrayer back in the summer. In real time, there is the short story anthology Mark of Calth to check out, as well as the Salamanders novel Vulkan Lives, though I’ve decided to leap over some of those novels that don’t really hold any interest for me and keep ploughing through the main storyline. (That said, I might come back to some of the short stories, we’ll see!)

In the weeks and months after the invasion of Ultramar by the Word Bearers, Roboute Guilliman has sought to create something of a haven for the Imperial loyalists in the five hundred worlds. Since the planet of Sotha has seen the mysterious Pharos xenotech that has almost replaced the Astronomican as a light through the Ruinstorm, principally squads of Salamanders and Space Wolves, the latter sent to shadow Guilliman and censor him if he proves to be disloyal.

After an attack on the Ultramarines’ Primarch by shadowy members of the Alpha Legion, Guilliman reveals his plans to provide an Imperium Secundus centred on Macragge, but he is incredibly reluctant to sit on the throne himself. However, when he is about to reluctantly take up the mantle of regent, none other than Lion el’Johnson arrives with near-Legion strength Dark Angels, following the light of the Pharos. Guilliman finds it difficult to trust the Lion, however, due to his almost compulsive keeping of secrets, one of which proves almost disastrous for Macragge, as Konrad Curze is revealed to have hidden on the Lion’s ship.

Curze and the Lion aren’t the only Primarchs to descend upon Macragge, however, as not only Vulkan arrives, insane following his torture at the hands of Curze, but also Sanguinius and his Blood Angels, fresh from their battles in the Signus Cluster.

Curze runs amok in Magna Macragge Civitas, over a night of hell for the combined Ultramarines and Dark Angels forces, though he is sent into the Warp by the Perpetuals John Grammaticus and Damon Prytanis, who have arrived on the planet to fulfill the wishes of the Cabal by killing Vulkan, furthering their plans to allow Horus to win the war and for Chaos to burn itself out: if Vulkan is not present to help defend Terra, this will be easier. Guilliman proclaims Sanguinius as the new Emperor, as the Primarchs agree to immediately forget about this whole episode if it is proven that Terra and the Emperor still stand firm.

The Unremembered Empire

I’d fully expected to really enjoy this book. Dan Abnett is of course a fan favourite, and I really enjoyed Know No Fear, the last time he wrote about the Ultramarines. I don’t know whether it was just something as straightforward as the fact the cover had me expecting Sanguinius to show up for more of the book, but I just couldn’t get into it as much as previous books. There’s a lot going on, for sure, and Abnett covers a lot of ground between following up with Vulkan, bringing the Lion and Curze as well as then Sanguinius into the five hundred worlds.

We actually have a lot of Guilliman and the Lion, which was actually quite interesting for the most part, as we see the pair of them grow to almost-trust each other as potentially the only two Loyalist Primarchs remaining in the galaxy. I find it interesting that the Lion is a consummate secret-keeper in a period of time when we don’t have the whole baggage of Luther and the Fallen yet. It’s just part of his shtick, I guess. I’ve not read much of the Lion yet in the series, having avoided much of him after Descent of Angels, but this was a really welcome return to him.

Guilliman was much more of the statesman that we have come to expect from Ultramarines at large, with a surprising lack of the tactical/strategical brilliance we saw in Know No Fear. At least, that was my feeling! He’s still a much more interesting character than a lot of people would have you believe, of course, and his role in the book as the architect of the Imperium Secundus was really fitting overall. Maybe that’s where his strategic thinking comes in, though? Hm.

I think the highlight of this book, though, is probably the night of terror wrought by Curze throughout Magna Macragge Civitas. It’s a study in terror tactics, and I was really impressed at how relentless the pacing was. We do get inside of Curze’s head, and see how he is driven by his visions, and that sense of invincibility that he has, having seen his death already. However, for the majority (the entirety? I can’t remember) of the night, we’re seeing things from the eyes of others, which gives a real sense of the danger going on.

There is almost a Shattered-Legions sense from the book early on, when we see White Scars, an Imperial Fist, Iron Hands and Salamanders all converge on Macragge – only to discover that there is an Iron Warriors warsmith in charge of the Pharos! However, this is quickly pushed into the background as we focus on the Ultramarines and Dark Angels. Rightly so? I don’t know. They do make something of a reappearance later on, of course, but it feels a bit like a lost opportunity. For sure, the ending does feel almost rushed, with the denouement with Sanguinius being proclaimed Emperor coming almost as an afterthought…

I realise that I’m being quite critical of this book, but I suppose that’s only because I was hoping for so much from a Dan Abnett novel, and his previous offerings in the series have been pretty solid. I think it’s a pretty well-known fact by this point, however, that the Horus Heresy series does slacken off a little bit in the middle, as we’ve got so much ground to cover. Having 18 Legions pretty much all as important as each other is a tall order, though, and things do broaden out considerably in order to cover every corner. I think it does begin to tighten back up, though, as we get into the 30s, so hopefully there’s not long to go before we get back into the realms of the good stuff.


I think I said this about a year ago, but I want to get back into reading the series, and see if I can make some decent headway into it all. Two more novels have recently been released in paperback, bringing us up to fifty-one paperbacks now available. Gulp! I’ve definitely got some catching up to do, but at least I’m at the halfway point of the 54-book series!

Betrayer

Hey everybody,
It may have taken me almost a month to finish it, but I have finally made it through Betrayer, the 24th novel in the Horus Heresy series. The length of time it took me is no reflection on the quality of the book, I’d just like to put that out there now – I think I’ve just been tied up with the joys of moving home, and so reading has been put somewhat onto the back burner for the time being!

There are spoilers in this review, so you have been warned!

View this post on Instagram

#nowReading #HorusHeresy

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

Betrayer is almost a direct sequel to Dembski-Bowden’s first novel in the series, The First Heretic, as we continue to follow Lorgar and his plans to bring about the downfall of his father, the Emperor of Mankind. This isn’t purely a Word Bearers story, however, as the spotlight is shared with the XII Legion, the World Eaters, as the title might suggest. The main protagonists are Argel Tal of the XVII, and of course, Khârn of the XII. While the story is called Betrayer, Khârn didn’t earn the title until the Battle of Skalathrax, years after the Heresy – I thought it curious at first, as I was expecting some kind of payoff for this that never came. However, looking back, most of the characters could be called traitors as the novel progresses!

So it turns out that the Word Bearers and World Eaters share quite a bond, and Khârn and Argel Tal are particularly close. Most of the novel shows them fighting side by side as the combined Legion forces seek to overrun the military training world of Armatura. The planet is one of strategic importance to the Ultramarines who, as we know from previous novels in this series, Lorgar is attempting to utterly break following his humiliation at their hands (albeit, on the Emperor’s orders). The first half of the book explores the relationship between the two Legions, as well as that between the Legions and their respective Primarchs, while the prosecute the war on Armatura.

I think this book marks Angron’s first appearance in the series, as well, which is something of an event in itself! Angron is a tortured and broken man, whose Legion has a peculiarly sad relationship with him. Angron was raised as a slave in the gladiatorial arena on Nuceria, with the Butcher’s Nails hammered into his skull to make him fight all the more brutally. Upon reuniting with his Legion, Angron then insisted that his sons also take the implants, and they willingly agreed in the hope that it would bring them closer to him. However, the implants seem to be killing them slowly, and even the Primarch is being worn down. As for the Legion’s librarians, they cannot take the Nails as the implants outright kill them. Shunned by their battle brothers, the librarians are a sad coterie of outcasts among the wider Legion. The World Eaters are, quite frankly, a very troubled and tense legion!

Lorgar seeks to use this to his advantage, and the results are quite shocking!

Following the devastation of Armatura, we have more of the intrigue that we’ve come to expect from any book involving Lorgar’s Legion. Erebus makes his insidious return from Calth, and the plans are put into motion to move the fighting to Nuceria, Angron’s homeworld. The former slave moves from city to city, destroying all reminders of his former life on the planet, and as they reach the final settlement, a rag-tag armada of Ultramarines vessels arrives in-system, beginning the absolute best depiction of a void battle that I have ever read in a Warhammer 40k novel! Most battle depictions are ground based; I suppose because the source material is a miniature war game where the overwhelming number of models are infantry. But seriously, even with all of the sci-fi I have come across in my time, this battle was just so awesome.

It turns out that Lorgar is attempting to bring about the Ruinstorm here on Nuceria, the Warp Storm that will cut off the 500 worlds of Ultramar from the rest of the galaxy. However, his plans look to have been foiled when Roboute Guilliman turns up, and the two brothers have an epic duel – while Lorgar does manage to hold his own at first, Guilliman gains the upper hand until Angron rushes to his defence. It is kind of suggested that no Primarch can actually hope to defeat Angron in melee combat, due to his unfettered fury and rage, and that really comes across until the full extent of Lorgar’s plan becomes apparent: in order to prevent the Nails from killing his brother, Lorgar has offered Angron up to the Chaos gods to be transformed. The librarians, despite being shunned by their brothers and Primarch, come to Angron’s aid and fight a psychic battle with Lorgar, almost defeating him. But it was not meant to be, and all of the remaining psykers were killed in their efforts to save their Primarch.

At the culmination of everything, Angron is transformed into a Greater Daemon of Khorne…

This was a really cracking book, I really enjoyed it! If I hadn’t been so tied-up with the mechanics of moving house, I think I’d probably have read it through in a matter of days. The action sequences are fantastic, with some truly cinematic scenes – the one that keeps sticking in my mind is the attempt to destroy Lorgar by the Legio Oberon and their plasma cannons; he simply deflects one blast with a kine-shield, the second one almost immolates him completely, though just as the Titan attempts to crush him underfoot, Angron swoops in and basically stops the Titan’s foot with his own brute strength.

That void battle over Nuceria, though. I mean, wow! I’m half tempted to go back and re-read that part just for the kicks!

Of course, no book is perfect, and I think anything that deals with the Word Bearers is almost flawed from the outset by the heavy reliance on Erebus as a character. As we know, the First Chaplain was the one to plant the worm in Horus’ ear about rebellion against the Emperor. However, it has been suggested in several books now that the Word Bearers sent envoys to their brother Legions in a similar attempt to turn them, too. So why is it always Erebus? Where is the Chaplain who attempted to turn the Night Lords, or the Salamanders?

He is an interesting character of course, don’t get me wrong, but he seems to be popping up all over the place and the effect now is almost comic. Like he’s a stock Word Bearer for the authors. Where’s the diversity?! I think it was doubly annoying because it is mentioned here a couple of times that Erebus is intent on turning Sanguinius (the novel, it seems, takes place around the same time as Fear to Tread), but he was also instrumental alongside Kor Phaeron at Calth. While Warp travel is a thing, of course, Erebus gets around super quickly for my liking, and I think I would prefer to start seeing more Chaplains of the Word popping up to take on the role of schemer extraordinaire.

While their duel was fantastic, Guilliman seems to just pop up a bit awkwardly on Nuceria, as well. It was cool to see some element of retribution for Calth, following up from Know No Fear, it did feel a little bit contrived to have him join in the fray when he did.

But there are minor complaints about what is otherwise an amazing book!

Angel Exterminatus

It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading Angel Exterminatus, so I thought it about time I came here and wrote up some of my usual rambling thoughts about it!!

I feel very much like I’m in the land of filler novels at the minute, with the last full-length novel in the series I read, Fear to Tread, being the same. It seems like there is just so much to cover, having such an extensive cast already, that the stories are becoming, not necessarily the same, but alike enough that it’s growing old already. And Angel Exterminatus is only book 23 of what we now know to be a 50-book series!

This book is the first to properly feature Perturabo and the Iron Warriors, as we follow the legion during an action on the planet Hydra Cortadus (later seen in the novel Storm of Iron, of course!) The Iron Warriors are joined by the Emperor’s Children, who have all gone a bit weird since Perturabo last saw them, and Fulgrim stokes his brothers curiosity around gaining control of a fabled eldar super-weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus, from a planet deep within the galactic phenomenon known as the Eye of Terror. Perturabo is essentially duped by Fulgrim, who is attempting to rise to daemonhood through a ritual on this eldar croneworld – in order to get there, he needs Perturabo’s knowledge of labyrinths to navigate the hidden ways.

Perturabo, for his part, is well aware that he is being used, but is nevertheless curious as to what is going on, so goes along with the charade but manages to stop Fulgrim’s ascendancy at the last minute. Both parties are in turn being stalked by a ragged band of Iron Hands, who also show up on the croneworld and all hell breaks loose. A lot of the Iron Hands shenanigans did feel a little bit like they were getting in the way of the main story, partly because it felt like these sections were lifted from another book entirely, so I’m not sure they were exactly needed for this one. But I suppose it does add to the confusion at the end. Overall, though, while a lot of work has gone into the character-building for Perturabo, I think there was a lot of chaff that could have been trimmed from this one.

I’ve read of so many people claiming that this book is just so amazing, that I found myself initially let down by it. I usually enjoy Graham McNeill’s work, as well, which kinda compounded the problem. It’s not a bad book, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s just the issue of coming on the back of so much filler, because nothing really happens in this book it just also lapses into that category. We have a really intriguing character portrait of the Primarch of the IV Legion, as well as a continuation of the depravities of the III Legion, and it actually fits really well with McNeill’s earlier novel, Fulgrim. While Perturabo is definitely front and centre of the cover, the book is as much about the ongoing issues with the Emperor’s Children, and we see more of Lucius, Fabius and the Kakophoni. Julius Kaesoron also returns, which I thought was a nice touch, as it feels like he’s sometimes sidelined in favour of the other Emperor’s Children legionaries.

At this point in the story, I feel like more needs to be happening to drive the overall narrative forward, and we’re just not getting that right now. What’s going on with Horus? He hasn’t properly appeared since the opening trilogy, and the odd cameo where he just glowers and rages isn’t really cutting it for me.

I realize, however, that I’ve not been very good at keeping going with the Horus Heresy series, so I’m hoping that this year I can make some decent progress here. I’m going to aim to read up to The Damnation of Pythos, at least, and hopefully get to grips with the ongoing narrative. It’s a total of seven more novels (well, six and an anthology) so it’s not exactly impossible! From reading the backs of some of these novels, it sounds like there is a definite return to the story of the Word Bearers as architects of the Heresy, and – hopefully – we see a return to something like an ongoing storyline. Character studies are all fine and good, of course, but there is a significant part of me that is expecting more out of this series at this point!

The Horus Heresy

Hey everybody!
It’s Game Day here at spalanz.com, as I try to re-establish the old favourite series of blogs for the month of December. Today, I’m sticking within the now-established theme of being obsessed with Warhammer 40k, and taking a look at possibly the most expensive two-player game I’ve ever bought – it’s The Horus Heresy, from Fantasy Flight Games!

This massive box was originally suggested to me by my erstwhile gaming buddy Tony, who was I think intrigued by the lore of the thing, and suggested we give it a go. Well, give it a go, we did, back in 2013, and what an incredible gaming experience it was! I mean that insofar as it was quite the juggernaut of the board game, coming in that huge coffin-box full of cards and miniatures, and of course the 3D game board!

I honestly don’t remember a lot of the intricacies of the rules from more than five years ago, and I think the fact we only ever played it once is probably quite telling there. Notably, of course, this game stems from the time before I actually started to build and paint (and play) the GW miniatures, so my exposure to this sort of thing came exclusively in card- and board-game formats like this. The video above does a fairly decent job of explaining the rules, which include card-based combat in the same manner as Mansions of Madness, something I do quite enjoy from a game.

I think the main problem with getting this to the table more is the sheer size of the game, though. It took me almost an hour to set up before the game (not an uncommon occurrence, as you can see from fellow blogger Roemer’s Workshop, when he took a look at the game!) and pretty much an entire weekend to get the rules straight in my mind. I must say, though, once we got going, I seem to recall it was pretty straightforward to play the actual game. While being no strangers to card-based combat games like this, I think there is still a strange element to playing this sort of game, as we probably just prefer to use dice!

FFG Horus Heresy

Fantasy Flight always make wonderful games, of course, and while the miniature quality is of course nowhere near that of Citadel miniatures, they are nevertheless decent enough for gaming pieces. The Primarchs themselves are cardboard stand-ups, however, which is slightly disappointing, though they do use some classic art, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing! Returning to Roemer’s Workshop, you can get a better idea of the game and its components in his follow-up blog, here.

As a board game telling the story of the Siege of Terra, I think the game does a really good job of keeping on-theme while still allowing for the game to actually play itself – you’ll never be doomed to eternal defeat if you play Horus, but you’ll certainly get the sense of what the story is all about. In my game with Tony, I was playing the Loyalist side, and actually lost due to a Spaceport victory (though Horus was on the brink of death when that happened, I’d like to mention!) so it is definitely possible.

FFG have, of course, stopped producing Games Workshop games, so this is no longer available. GW have themselves started making their own board games set during the Horus Heresy, although have not yet made an attempt to capture the iconic events such as the Siege. Maybe when the novel series reaches this point, they might? I recently sold my copy on ebay, as it had been so long since I played it, I just couldn’t ever see this game coming back to the table. That isn’t to say it’s a bad game, at all, it’s just a very particular type of game, and I think it somehow belongs to the older Fantasy Flight style of game, when they made things that were pretty heavy-going and gamer-centric, rather than being the more accessible sort of thing they produce these days. But that’s probably the subject for another blog!

So much Warhammer news!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a bit crazy for Warhammer news during August, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve managed to digest it all yet! With the reveals from Warhammer Fest two weeks ago, and now the NOVA Open reveals, we’re going to be in for some amazing times as hobbyists and gamers for a good while to come!

Let’s start with Warhammer Fest, as it was so long ago now. The news that the Horus Heresy series is coming to an end before the actual Siege of Terra itself I find quite interesting, and I’m a little bit worried that it means we’re going to be in for another drawn out series as we see the culmination of Horus’ betrayal. It’s also really weird that the series The Horus Heresy doesn’t actually conclude the events of the Heresy, if you know what I mean. But James Swallow is a good author, and I did like his Flight of the Eisenstein, so I’m hoping for good things as he draws the proceedings to a close.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of stuff for Adeptus Titanicus coming out this month, so I suppose it’s about time I addressed this point now: I am not a fan of this game. Betrayal at Calth, while it’s Space Marine on Space Marine violence, was nevertheless an interesting game. Adeptus Titanicus, being hulking war machine vs hulking war machine, just doesn’t interest me in the same way. I get the sense that it is appealing to those with more nostalgia for the olden days, and the original iteration of the game (those at my local store are all part of the Old Guard), but it just sounds far too boring and bland, and I don’t think the fact that it’s a completely different scale is helping matters – at least Betrayal at Calth and all of the other boxed games they produce have included miniatures that could be used in regular games.

Something in its favour though – I love the fact that we can talk about Games Workshop and “all the other boxed games they produce”. They really are becoming a Workshop of Games now, and I love it!

Rogue Trader! The big box expansion for Kill Team is coming out in September, and I’m really very excited to get my hands on what look like amazing, weird, and very different minis. Perhaps most excitingly of all, though, is the little paragraph at the end of that announcement, saying that we can use both the Rogue Trader crew and the mutants in regular 40k! Didn’t see that one coming!

Codex: Imperial Agents, anyone?

So, even though I already have quite a lot on the go with regards painting projects, I’m looking forward to this quite a bit. It’s that sense of borrowed nostalgia once again. I wasn’t around for Rogue Trader back in the day, of course, but it’s something that looms so large in the background lore, and indeed, the meta world of the game as a whole, that I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of something so iconic to the grim darkness of the far future finally coming to the tabletop!

So October (sorry, Orktober) is going to be the month of the greenskins, and it’s likely the Codex will be coming then, too. With the Space Wolves getting theirs last weekend, does this mean the Genestealer Cults will get theirs in September, maybe? Anyway. I’m not a big Ork fan – I play against them often enough, so it’ll be fun to go Codex-to-Codex against them now, but there’s very little else about the release that I can say, if I’m honest. It’s always good to see new models that replace the older ones with stuff that looks this good, so there is definitely that!

Speed Freeks seems to be a bit like the Gangs of Commorragh boxed game, in that it involves pure vehicle combat within a single faction, but is including a lot of new models – it seems GW likes to launch new kits this way nowadays, which isn’t always a bad thing, as it allows you to flesh out an army while getting the new stuff, usually with a decent saving.

Something that unites both sets of announcements, though, is the new Adepta Sororitas stuff coming – Emperor willing – next year. From Warhammer Fest, we got to see some renders of the weapons – exciting enough, for sure, but I can’t say as it really interested me. Well, maybe the fact that they’ll get a crossbow is hilarious, but still.

The NOVA Open announcement gave us a look at the heads of these girls, and they’re looking like they have a good amount of movement there to suggest some pretty dynamic poses within the kits. Interestingly, the 2018 Chapter Approved will include a mini-Codex for the Sisters that will allow for a decent amount of playtesting feedback to be gathered before the Codex itself lands. Ever get the feeling that they’re almost going too far with this? I get that people are keen to get plastic Sisters, and they want the release to be a memorable one – hell, I’ve talked about this myself years ago – but it’s almost like they’re getting too much special attention. Why should one army get so much playtesting, while others get landed with a copy-and-paste Codex just so as to get the book out there? Hm. It’s always going to be a difficult one, for sure, but it struck me this morning when I was reading this stuff, it just seems to be making this too much of A Thing.

Anyway, clearly I’m now one of those old farts who is just never going to be happy!

I’ve been quiet about Age of Sigmar for a long time now, for the simple reason that I’ve been moving away from the game, and focusing more completely on 40k. However, what looks like the return of Slaanesh to any of the game systems simply cannot go un-mentioned! It has always been my favourite of the Chaos Gods (don’t judge me!) so I’m always going to follow what happens here with a keen eye. Expect more blogs when we have more information on this, including one devoted to just why I like Slaanesh so much…

Now, what the hell is this, when it’s at home?! Is it really going to be the new Battlefleet Gothic? The fact there are ships in the announcement video seems to have a lot of people assuming so, but the announcement compares the game to Silver Tower in a way that makes me think we’ll get a similar line-up of infantry-based miniatures battling through the impossible halls of a Blackstone Fortress. Indeed, it’s being described as a dungeon crawl game over on the 40k facebook page, so I reckon we’re definitely getting people miniatures, and not starship miniatures.

(As an aside, I don’t really know if I’d be into Battlefleet Gothic in the same way I’m not into Adeptus Titanicus – I guess cross-compatibility might be an issue for me, after all!)

Intriguingly, the protagonist/voiceover chap in the video seems to be another Rogue Trader, so it may be possible we’ll see some sort of merging of the miniatures from the Kill Team expansion and this in the future…

I am really excited for these two boxed games, if nothing else, so I’ll be saving the pennies from here on, for sure!

Fear to Tread

This is a Horus Heresy novel that I’ve had on my shelf for a very long time now, back from when I had just gotten into the series and was excited to find out more about it. I honestly don’t know why, but the Blood Angels kinda fascinate me as a space marine chapter – I don’t own an army of them, and have no intention of doing so, but I’m still weirdly drawn to them. Space Marine Legions all seem to have their counterparts between loyalist and traitor, but the Blood Angels, while they’re more commonly compared with the World Eaters for their assault-focus and brutal efficiency in close combat, are also similar in so many ways to the Emperor’s Children in their artistry. I suppose they don’t pursue things to absolute perfection, but there is a strong link between the two… and I do rather enjoy the Emperor’s Children in a lot of ways!

At any rate, Fear to Tread is the 21st novel in the Horus Heresy series, and is the first to truly follow the Blood Angels to the exclusion of all other Legions. While Sanguinius did pop up all the way back in Horus Rising, he’s here very much at the centre of things. We follow the Blood Angels as they battle the weird alien menace known as the Nephilim, before Horus then sends the legion to the Signus system with the report that there have been Nephilim sighted there. Horus has also learnt of Sanguinius’ dark secret, that of the Red Thirst, and hints there may be the answer to that problem held on the planet Signus Prime.

The Blood Angels travel there, but instead find that the system has been truly taken over by the forces of Chaos: there are droves of daemonettes along with bloodletters under the leadership of the bloodthirster, Ka’Bandha. The Blood Angels are joined on this expedition by a small coterie of Word Bearers sent by Horus, and another small band of Space Wolves sent directly from Malcador the Sigillite. As it turns out, Malcador has sent the Wolves out to all Legions, as he suspects that more may have turned from the Emperor in the manner of Horus and Magnus.

The war does not go well, as Sanguinius is seemingly defeated in single combat by the bloodthirster, prompting a shared madness of the Red Thirst to break out among his sons. The fighting is particularly brutal, especially among Amit and the Fifth Company (later the Flesh Tearers), who actually kill the Space Wolves while in the grip of this madness. Sanguinius is revived when a band of former librarians goes against the Edict of Nikea to bring him back psychically, and he manages to defeat the daemons with the help of the apothecary Meros, who sacrifices himself to a Chaos ragefire that had been intended to consume Sanguinius himself.

Fear to Tread

While there is nothing inherently bad about this book, I found it incredibly hard-going, and took over a month to wade my way through. I’ve noticed this with the last Blood Angels novel to pass under my nose, Devastation of Baal, which makes me wonder if it’s something about this particular chapter that I just can’t seem to gel with! I find it odd, though, considering – as I mentioned earlier – I do actually like the idea of and the lore behind the Blood Angels…

There are quite a few nods to other Horus Heresy novels, particularly the opening trilogy (the lone survivor from the planet Murder, brother Targa, was originally part of the ragefire that created the Red Angel, a daemon later presented to Horus by Erebus). Obviously, the use of the Space Wolves as the Emperor’s executioners also harkens back to A Thousand Sons, and the novel ends with Sanguinius arriving at Ultramar, which leads into the plans of Guilliman to set Sanguinius up as the head of the Imperium Secundus. It’s handy reading the novels in publication order, I feel, as things like this are a nice way of tying up the narrative.

Ultimately, I feel that not a lot happened in this book, and that it was essentially filler for what is already becoming a massive series. The whole point of the book is to test the Blood Angels, and attempt to bring the legion over to Chaos. Horus decides to eliminate Sanguinius lest his brother replace him as Warmaster, but none of that works. Yet the novel plods its way across more than 500 pages to do so. A lot of it just felt like padding, somehow, and I think it could have done with a trim.

I also haven’t really been convinced by Horus’ turn from the light of the Emperor in a lot of the novels where he directly appears, but here especially, his readiness to kill his brother seems to come out of nowhere. I think this is made especially glaring in that Horus and Sanguinius appear fighting side-by-side in the prologue; they have a very close relationship anyway, but not enough has been made of the break on Horus’ side, it just seems to be too much of a jolt. I know Horus is meant to be the bad guy, but sometimes (like here) he just comes across as evil for the sake of it.

It was good to have the Blood Angels and Sanguinius centre stage, but I do feel that a lot of the middle novels of the series tend to draw things out a bit too much.

So much new goodness!

I mean, these Idoneth Deepkin miniatures look incredible. I was keen as all hell to get myself some Daughters of Khaine, but the incredible weirdness of these deep-sea elves has just got me, man!!

Namarti Thralls Idoneth Deepkin

They’re amazing!! I’d been planning to get some for either Wyches or Incubi for my Dark Eldar, but now I think I might just get some for their own sake! I am utterly captivated!

Alpharius

And finally, it’s the big daddy of the Alpha Legion himself! Absolutely no surprise whatsoever after the rumour engine from back in the day, but even so, it’s real nice to see the full model at last.

I am so looking forward to seeing the full model kits for the new Deepkin, and I think I may actually find myself getting Alpharius to head up my Alpha Legion

So much good stuff coming out of Games Workshop right now!!!

The Necromunda Weekender

Hey everybody!
Well, I’m a little late to this stuff, but I’ve just been taking a bit of extra time to digest all of the news that we’ve been seeing from the guys over in Nottingham!

Horus Heresy Necromunda Weekender

For those who don’t know, last weekend was the Horus Heresy & Necromunda Weekender, something that has been an annual celebration of the Horus Heresy but, this year, has been a joint affair between the Heresy itself and Necromunda, the new smash hit boxed game from GW! For the first time ever, I’ve actually been genuinely gutted that the weekend had sold out, as I would have liked to have popped along and soaked up all of the atmosphere – and pick up some brand new plastic!

Let’s start with Necromunda!

Orlock Gang Necromunda

The Orlocks are coming up for pre-order this weekend, which is just so exciting I can’t even begin to tell you! They’re coming alongside their House-specific cards, naturally, with all the rules held in a second Gang War book. This rulebook also holds the rules for some new terrain tiles that are on their way also – it’s going to be quite the weekend, I can tell you!!

Necromunda Hired Guns

Over on the Forge World website, we’ve got the set of three Hired Guns also available for preorder at the weekend. Again, awesome looking models (but not quite so awesome as the Orlocks), and I’m looking forward to getting some. Only trouble, of course, is the fact they’re resin. But I’ll just have to live with that…

In the meantime, I’d built up an Escher gang over the Christmas break, and have slowly started to get moving with them. I mean, I have a colour scheme sorted in my head, so it’s just a matter of time before I get them painted! The Warhammer Community team have put up this handy dandy guide to naming your Necromunda gang, and so I’m quite chuffed to announce that I’ve named my little team the Viridian Venom. That’s got nothing to do with my initials, incidentally, but I took the kinds of conventions listed and went with it. Anyway!

The reason I’m waffling about all of this, anyway, is that there are gang heroes, the Escher Queen and the Goliath King, as well as the Orlocks having a Boss (with dog). If the miniature is anything like this artwork, that Escher character is going to be bloody spectacular!

Escher Queen

I’m looking forward to all of this, having decided that I’m going to collect just everything I can for the game. It’s really fantastic, I have to say! (I’ll try to get a game day review up soon!)

Escher Huntress Necromunda

Heroes aren’t all that we’re getting though, as each House is also getting a sort of faction-specific bounty hunter to go along with the rest of them, and the Eschers have this rather amazing Huntress model. It’s a model strongly reminiscent of some of the artwork that had been doing the rounds while Necromunda was still in its early promotion, so to finally see the miniature is quite amazing. Looking forward to adding her to the roster!

But that’s still not all!

After the beastman bounty hunter that came out shortly after the game’s release, we’re getting more hired gun types, starting with the now-famous Squat bounty hunter. Yes, that’s right – Squats are back! Except they’re not. I mean, one of them is, but he’s hardly enough to build an army with. Anyway, here’s the little guy in all his resin glory:

He looks like a fun model to paint, so I’ll be treating myself to one of these when he arrives. Another bounty hunter on display at the Weekender was Eyros Slagmist (what a name!) who has a very Samurai-esque look about him. In fact, he reminds me of a couple of different Star Wars characters, as well as a hint of Mei from House of Flying Daggers:

Eyros Slagmist Necromunda

I’m sold, at any rate! I’ll be snatching this chap up as soon as possible!

But what of the Heresy, I hear you all type?!

Well, we’ve got the next Primarch for the series they’re doing, Rogal Dorn himself has turned up – much, it seems, to the internet’s dismay. Cries of “he’s a big Custodes?” aside, the model looks quite strident, which I suppose is what we should have expected from Dorn, so I can’t really fault that. I thin it looks decent, and as always with the Primarchs, I love the base!

We’re also getting a new magos dominus for the Dark Mechanicum, some more vehicle doors, and – oh, hello Alpharius!

Alpharius

Jokes aside (seriously, the whole “I am Alpharius” thing is really old and tired now, people!), the model should be amazing, and while I’ve not been interested in picking any of the Primarchs up (price tags notwithstanding), I might find myself getting one of these when he comes out. I do have an Alpha Legion army, somewhere, after all, so it’s only fitting!

Of course, the size they’re going to do this model at does interest me. I’ve talked about this at length in the Alpha Legion blog linked earlier, but Alpharius is consistently referred to as short (for a Primarch), and the fact that anybody in his Legion can feasibly masquerade as him means that he really ought to be regular marine height. Sadly, I can see him coming out as a massive dude like the others, which is a bit sad for my own Legion aesthetic, but even so, it’d be nice to have the daddy…

And that’s all I really wanted to ramble about from the Weekender! Maybe I’ll get to go one day, as it does look like an excellent event. There are a few more models that were shown off during the two days, which I’m sure by now you’ve all managed to devour, so I think I’ll leave it there…

Exciting times to come, though, at any rate!!

Know No Fear

Hey everybody!
I’ve been busily reading my way through a few excellent novels of late, so thought it might be time to come here and share my thoughts with you all! First up, it’s time once again to return to the Horus Heresy, and finally get to meet the Ultramarines properly at book 19: Know No Fear!

This novel is basically the start of the famous Battle of Calth. Famous, I suppose in the main, due to the boxed game from Games Workshop back in 2015, which brought plastic Mk IV Space Marines to gaming tables the world over. The battle between the Ultramarines and the Word Bearers has gone down in Warhammer 40k history as one of the most personal, the enmity between the two legions running so deep as to be utterly irreparable. Let’s take a look…

The book reads rather like a disaster movie, as we see the Ultramarines massing at the Calth shipyards for what they think is a joint crusade with the Word Bearers. It has been more than 40 years since the Emperor sent Guilliman’s legion to chastise the sons of Lorgar on Monarchia, and as with everything he does, Guilliman just thinks he was doing his duty and took nothing personally. Lorgar, however, has never forgotten the humiliation he received at the hands of the Ultramarines, and in some respects it can be seen as having caused the entire Horus Heresy. At any rate, the Word Bearers are definitely not about to join forces and fight alongside the Ultramarines…

The book builds tension until about a third of the way through, where a ship crashes into one of the orbital platforms above Calth, and all hell breaks loose as the Word Bearers open fire on their fellow Astartes. Guilliman first thinks it a mistake, that the Word Bearers had thought themselves under attack and, paranoid after Monarchia, have immediately opened-fire on the Ultramarines in self-defence. But no, it doesn’t take long for the Ultramarines to realise that the Word Bearers are hell-bent on the destruction of their legion. Unfortunately, the noosphere has been knocked out by the attack, so vox traffic is halted. With no way to coordinate their defence, thousands of Ultramarines are killed.

However, the Mechanicum and the Ultramarines resistance soon manage to turn the tide, and Guilliman himself just about manages to thwart Kor Phaeron’s plan to annihilate his legion, but the Word Bearers have already unleashed several bombs on Calth’s star, causing terrible radiation poisoning of the planet, and driving the war into the catacombs and arcologies.

know no fear

I really wanted to like this book. Dan Abnett is, of course, a fan favourite, and I had been looking forward to seeing the Ultramarines properly in the Horus Heresy. However, I felt it was a little bit drawn out in terms of the initial impact of the Word Bearers attacking the orbital platforms, then it seemed to end quite abruptly, with an epilogue set long after the subterranean battle had ended. It was a bit of an odd one, and I can’t quite bring myself to say it was that great a book. I mean, Horus Rising was wonderful, and Legion is one of my all-time favourites, so I suppose I was expecting more. I don’t know.

I did enjoy the disaster-movie-feel that a lot of the novel had, and I think it was done really well to sustain that over the course of almost the whole novel. The initial cataclysm and subsequent scattered resistance was really good, though I think I would have liked to have seen more from the Word Bearers’ perspective.

It’s also worth noting that the novel is told in the present tense, which I always feel makes me read it faster than I would otherwise. Instead of chapter sub-headings, we have the “mark of Calth”, the time-stamp of each action described within said chapter, in relation to the initial attack of the Word Bearers. It gave the novel an added sense of urgency, which I think works really well alongside the disaster-movie approach.

It’s nice to see Guilliman in the Heresy at last, and I enjoyed seeing the Ultramarines at war en masse. A lot of people write Guilliman off as boring, but I’m always fascinated to read about him and his incredibly tactical brain. He’s written as being the tactical genius of all the Primarchs, and that comes out here when we see him digest dozens of battle reports at once, to form a plan of attack within minutes, while everybody is stood around him looking vaguely dumb. Some personality quirks – such as his preference for using a stylus – are carried over by the Dark Imperium novel, which I also enjoyed. He’s definitely a more interesting character than people give him credit for, and I think anybody who is bashing on the Ultramarines should take the time to read something like Know No Fear, to see how effective and badass they can actually be!

All in all, I think I was expecting more from the novel, so felt a little let-down, but still enjoyed a lot of things about this book. Probably not one of the stand-out books from the series, but definitely not one to pass over!