Last month, I made it to book 35 in the Horus Heresy series, the anthology Eye of Terra. It had been an unspoken goal for me to make it to this book before the end of 2022, but that wasn’t to be. Never mind! With this one behind me, there are now just 18 books left in the series, which is quite something really. At least after this point, there are more novels than anthologies for a bit – perhaps a reflection of the fact that the series initially exploded in popularity and therefore was catered to with all manner of shorts, but over time reader lethargy has led to fewer of these things needing to be collected up.
Anyway, let’s take a look through what’s inside here!
The Wolf of Ash and Fire is a short story that involves Horus and the Emperor fighting side by side (as depicted on the cover), as told through the eyes of first captain Abaddon. I liked this story, I thought it was reminiscent of ADB’s Black Legion somehow. The Luna Wolves are going up against Orks and take the fight to them on a scrap-moon that itself is also highly reminiscent of The Beast Arises! Luna Wolves and Custodes fight side by side, and nobody is really a baddie, which was nice to see.
I think anybody reading this anthology would be principally interested in the novella Aurelian, however. This story seems to take place during The First Heretic, and deals with Lorgar’s wanderings within the Warp. The character development we get through this 130-page mini-epic is astounding, and I really enjoyed it. In all honesty, I was a bit confused by the timing of this story, because it deals with Lorgar’s wanderings which I thought happened before Isstvan V, though it begins with Lorgar realising that Fulgrim has been possessed, which of course happens after the dropsite massacre. To be fair though, the timeline at this point is an absolute shambles, with stuff seemingly taking place between paragraphs, let alone between chapters of the novels. Suffice it to say, though, as a character piece about Lorgar, this one is tremendous.
It’s a shame that this one comes so early within the anthology, because a lot of the stories after it have pretty much melded into insignificance, if I’m honest. There are a few about Iron Hands, and Iron Warriors, some about Ultramarines (I think), but none of them has really stood out for me. Another ADB short, The Long Night, was interesting for furthering the development of Sevatar during his imprisonment by the Dark Angels, that one was curious as it had him in psychic contact with one of the ship astropaths, and showed him to almost care about her. However, Sevatar has always been one of the more complex Night Lords characters on the books.
I think, overall, this book is pretty symptomatic of the majority of the later Horus Heresy books overall. There are a couple of stand-out moments, but everything else is just meandering nothingness that has almost been published “because”, and not due to any kind of actual story need. Yes, it’s fun to see the origins of the Sanguinor, but do we really need another throwaway story about it? Why not incorporate that into a Blood Angels novel and make that book all the richer? Rather, Black Library have stretched the narrative to the point where it is now lace-thin, and people like me have paid £7.99 for a book that only a quarter of which is any good. I don’t think this is the fault of the authors, as they’re doing the best they can, but it’s the general premise of “let’s do a story about World War II – we’ll start with the in-depth biography of Churchill’s nanny’s aunt’s window cleaner”.
For me, the Horus Heresy has been jerking along since book five. The opening five books is one continuous epic, but over the course of the next thirty, I would be pushing it to say that just eleven of them do anything to move the story along (I realise I get a lot of flak for my views on Mechanicum, so I suppose it should be a round dozen!) Recognising that we have eighteen legions of space marines, plus the Mechanicum, plus stuff like the Custodes, and the twists and turns with stuff like the Remembrancers and whatnot, there is a lot of ground to cover, but I really do feel like it’s a story that should have gone six feet wide, not sixteen feet.
Looking ahead to the next ten, we have some very intriguing titles coming up, and at least a couple of novels in there that I am very excited for. Praetorian of Dorn (I think) involves the Alpha Legion, we’ve got Master of Mankind and we have Garro, which I’m hoping will give us some very good storytelling. In the end, 2022 wasn’t too bad for getting back on track with the Heresy, so I do have high hopes that I can continue that, and maybe get through the next ten books before the end of 2023! You never know…
I’m getting there… book 34 in the Horus Heresy series is done with now. Just 20 more to go!
While he has written a few short stories set during the Heresy, this is Guy Haley’s first full-length novel in the series. As we could have expected from his short story A Safe and Shadowed Place, the book pits the Ultramarines against the Night Lords under the command of Krukesh the Pale, and his subordinate Gendor Skraivok. The Night Lords have observed the regular energy pulses from the Pharos on Sotha, and understand it to be of value to the XIII Legion, so in turn decide to take it. Especially when they realise that it is intentionally guarded by a token force to hide its importance.
We’re never really told what the Pharos is, perhaps because neither the Ultramarines nor the Iron Warriors war smith who is helping them really know, either. It is strongly implied to be of Necron origin, however, with the inner construction seemingly of Blackstone.
There are many battles between the Night Lords and the Ultramarines as the war for control of the Pharos sees Krukesh take possession of it, only to finally be thwarted by war smith Dantioch, who overloads the system when Krukesh is attempting to beam himself aboard the VIII Legion flagship Nightfall to take control of the wider Legion. However, the massive energy surge has far-ranging consequences when it is felt by none other than a Tyranid hive fleet…
I really wanted to like this book. I thought it would be great to see what Guy Haley can do in this time period, as he has written some of my favourite Warhammer novels over the years. However, it felt quite a bit like there was a bit of a brief that he was writing to, which in turn led to some stuff being here for the sake of it.
At its core, the book is a Night Lords vs Ultramarines story, but being set in Imperium Secundus, we have several scenes that also include Sanguinius as they attempt to further that storyline, but nothing really comes from it, and it almost feels like filler when you consider the gap between The Unremembered Empire and this one. It’s been over two years since I read that book, as well, which has compounded the problem!
We also have many scenes of gratuitous torture and violence, which is of course the way that the Night Lords wage their war. I’m not trying to be squeamish or anything, but it did get a bit too much at times – I wasn’t actually sure if it was meant to be almost a parody, but it really was all too much. The character of Skraivok actually muses on this in the second half of the novel, as he reflects on how the Legion used to use their terror tactics to win, rather than just for the sake of it. It’s interesting to me, though, because of all the Space Marines Legions, the VIII are perhaps the most bizarre. Unlike many of their traitor brethren, who fell to Chaos to gain power, the Night Lords are said to have always been like this, and the Heresy merely allowed them to shrug off that veneer of respectability. It’s almost like they never fell to Chaos, they just stopped pretending to be real soldiers. Another layer on top of that, of course, is how Curze hates his own Legion, and abandons them almost the first chance he gets. All of this is interesting because it makes a pre-Heresy Night Lords Legion quite difficult to imagine, in many ways.
However, in the short stories by ADB such as Prince of Crows, the Legion has sparked my interest. Here, they seem to fall into the trap of generic renegade chaos marines, without much to make them stand out.
Another part of that “by the numbers” plotting is Roboute Guilliman, sadly. He also feels like he was included simply because the story takes place within the borders of Ultramar, and he doesn’t really do much to excite me. Guilliman in Know No Fear is an awesome entity in the very real sense of that word, but here he kinda gets on my nerves. Maybe because nobody has managed to write him as well as Dan Abnett did.
The story of the Night Lords’ invasion of Sotha, with all of its gruesomeness, is actually pretty good. I wish we learnt more about the Pharos itself, although I think we may do so in Haley’s book on Belisarius Cawl. Some of the extraneous bits could perhaps have been left out, but I suppose they’re here to remind us that this is part of a series.
Things are definitely dragging on now, and I as much as I wanted to get a bit further before the year is out, I do kinda feel like I need a break before yet another anthology…
Hey everybody, After what feels like an age, I have now finished War Without End, the 33rd instalment in the series. It’s another anthology, in what feels like a very grindy, middle of the road space within the overall storyline. I don’t really have anything against short story anthologies, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the time with the Horus Heresy, these stories can be very hit and miss, and they rarely seem to advance the overall storyline.
There are some interesting inclusions in here. I think the stand-out for me is The Laurel of Defiance, which is an Ultramarines story centred on Lucretius Corvo (who will go on to found the Novamarines chapter after the Heresy is over and done with). It’s a great story that shows us the Ultramarines as the statesmen and politicians they are meant to be when all war is over, and Corvo’s own feelings on that are quite interesting, to say the least! We see the Ultramarines during an awards ceremony, and Corvo reflects back on the action that got him there, where he and his legionaries took down a Word Bearers’ possessed Titan.
Allegiance, by Chris Wraight, is another good entry, although I did struggle a bit to get through this one. It shows a Thousand Sons legionary who has not turned from the Emperor, being rehabilitated into the White Scars legion. Around that main storyline, we see the continuing purge of the disloyal White Scars following the Scars novel, where several legionaries attempted to introduce warrior lodges in the same manner as the Sons of Horus.
In terms of continuing the storylines from previous novels, Gunsight brings us back to the assassin Eristede Kell following his failed mission to kill Horus in Nemesis. I really liked that book, contrary to a lot of popular opinion, it seems, and I really liked the way this story let its madness unfold as well. The ending was quite a surprise, too, but along the way I think it was really cool to see how the menials and the serfs of the Warmaster’s legion have reacted to his treachery.
Another story that deals with the goings-on within the Vengeful Spirit is Twisted, which follows the Warmaster’s equerry Maloghurst as he is hounded by a daemon. This builds on some of the threads from the Vengeful Spirit novel, specifically Maloghurst’s dabbling in the Warp and his creation of the Luperci. It’s an interesting story because it shows us the influence the Davinite cultists are having on the Sons of Horus, and while the whole heresy is undoubtedly traced to Horus and his lust for power, you do get the feeling here that actually these cultists are perhaps almost more to blame for the whole thing, with their corrupting influence on the legiones astartes. Interesting stuff!
Among these are stories about the Alpha Legion, Dark Angels and Iron Hands, among others, as well as the little people of the galaxy. There’s a story about the lodges on Davin that acts as a prequel to The Damnation of Pythos, another book that I know not a lot of people like. There is a story from Graham McNeil that ties in to his Vengeful Spirit and the Titan lords featured in that book, which was all a bit convoluted at first, but interesting in its way. We also have a Night Lords story that acts as a prequel to the next novel, Pharos. I had been enjoying how the Night Lords were just peppered through several novellas so far, as we follow the Thramas Crusade almost as a side event, but sometimes, these stories are just too gruesome.
Overall, there were some interesting stories here, if you’re really invested in the massive sprawl of the Heresy as a series, and you’re following along all of the various plot threads and such. I have to say though, at this point in the grand scheme of things, it feels like we’re just stuck with nothing really going on, and it is all starting to become really stale. Yes, it is enjoyable to see these slices of life of the serfs aboard the Vengeful Spirit, or seeing the flashbacks for Captain Corvo the Titankiller, but there is a very definite sense, for me, of “just where is this going?” I sometimes wonder if the Heresy has got too large a cast, although this was perhaps unavoidable given that all eighteen legions have a starring role. There is just too much ground to cover, unfortunately, and the pace of things now that we’re in the 30s is really starting to show.
Next up is Pharos, though, and I have a hope that this one will begin to point us in the right direction again. Fingers crossed, and all that!
Deathfire is the 32nd novel in the Horus Heresy series, and follows on directly from both Vulkan Lives and The Unremembered Empire as we begin on Macragge, where Vulkan is lying in state with the fulgurite jutting from his chest. Numeon is being held captive by the Word Bearers but refuses to give in to their torture, instead being sustained by his overwhelming faith that his primarch does indeed live. When a team of Ultramarines rescues him and brings him back to Macragge, however, he is forced to confront the fact that maybe Vulkan isn’t alive, after all – until the corpse goes walkabout, and ends up in a monumental garden. Numeon decides that he needs to take Vulkan back to Nocturne, where the primarch will be reborn in the lava and fires of the legion homeworld.
Thus begins some kind of weird Odyssey rehash, as the Salamanders make an attempt to navigate the Ruinstorm, though first diverting to crush a Death Guard assault on a space station near to the Ultramarines’ homeworld. There, they are joined by the Knight Errant Kaspian Hecht, who refuses to divulge his mission other than telling Numeon that he has been tasked by Malcador himself. The Salamanders, Hecht and some survivors from the station brave the Warp, and are attacked during their flight by a group of Word Bearers, who have come in an attempt to retrieve the fulgurite, which they now know is capable of killing a primarch. Along the way, Hecht is revealed to be none other than Barthusa Narek of the Word Bearers, although he tries to remain loyal to the throne and keep hold of his sanity.
The Word Bearers are ultimately expelled from their vessel when the Salamanders unexpectedly arrive in the Solar System, and despite the general joy to realise that Terra has not yet fallen to Horus, Numeon now realises more than ever that his mission is to return Vulkan to Nocturne, so they once more brave the Warp, and this time are pursued by both Word Bearers and Death Guard. They arrive above their homeworld only to be attacked immediately by the Death Guard, the captain of whom is intent on taking Vulkan’s head. Numeon and what remains of his brothers land on the planet and find there are still many Salamanders on-world, so they are able to defend against the Death Guard incursion with the help of the native drakes as well as their brother legionaries. The Death Guard are repelled, and Vulkan is returned to the fires of Deathfire, an active volcano. However, Vulkan is not reborn, leading to a crisis of faith for Numeon. He wanders out alone into the ash desert, however when a team of Salamanders is sent to find him, instead they find none other than Vulkan himself.
Well, what a wild ride this book was. It earned just two stars from me, in the end, as I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it all that much. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fairly okay, if you can see past the bland way in which it is told. The Salamanders have almost always appeared to me to be one of the most boring legions, and this book does nothing to change that for me. It’s a huge book, clocking in at over 500 pages, but there is so much fat in here that should be trimmed, it’s untrue. The central portion of the book, where the ship is in the Ruinstorm and the Warp is making itself felt is actually pretty exciting, and there is a real horror-story vibe coming from it. That’s really what made me give the extra star though, because otherwise I just couldn’t enjoy this one.
There were two major inconsistencies for me that I really struggled to wrap my head around. One of them was how, in the middle of the narrative, Word Bearers just suddenly appear on the Salamanders’ vessel with no break, and it’s almost like an editing error where I had to go back a couple of times to try to see whether I’d missed something. The second one is much earlier though, and concerns Barthusa Narek. Now, I know it’s been a while since I’ve read a Horus Heresy novel, but this guy’s story is just confusing to me. He’s a Word Bearer who disagrees with the daemonic road his legion is on, but somehow manages to survive a few culls of disloyal legionaries. He begins the story imprisoned on Macragge, and the Word Bearers actually have a plan to infiltrate the Ultramarines’ dungeon in order to get him killed. But somehow he just manages to escape, and then he shows up in a shipping crate with different armour and a new personality. The bulk of the story is then how Kaspian Hecht is on a mission for Malcador, but we don’t know what that is, and I struggled to decide whether he was lying or not. Turns out he wasn’t, because Malcador genuinely has had him in his grasp, because he put up a bunch of psychic wards within Narek’s mind. There’s a story there that, I feel, needs to be told – but from what I can tell, it hasn’t. A big bugbear for me is when a novel like this knowingly misses out a chunk of story to specifically have that told as a separate thing. The New Jedi Order did this a couple of times, and it feels like we’re being cheated. However, to just leave that story untold is really glaring! I know I said that some fat could have been trimmed here, but to my mind, that part of things should have been included!
As I said, I liked the crazy parts during the Warp voyage, the sense of foreboding came across quite well, but otherwise, there wasn’t a lot for me to enjoy about this book. It has Word Bearers being creepy and weird, which is a good point, but otherwise, I don’t care about Vulkan, I don’t care about the Salamanders, so I wasn’t really coming at this one from a good place!
We’ve got another anthology next, then I believe the story finally begins to pick up again in Guy Haley’s Pharos, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m going to try my best to make my way through a few more Heresy books before the year is out, anyway, so stay tuned for more ramblings!!
Hey everybody, The weather is definitely getting colder, and Autumn is definitely here at last. We’re here at the end of September, and I am quite shocked really at just how quickly this month has gone! I know I say this every month, but it really doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was writing my August retrospective blog! And after a very productive August, things seem to have just dwindled for me now, and I’m languishing a bit in a bit of a hobby … not slump, per se, but I’m certainly a bit all over the place when it comes to what projects I’m working on!
To start with, then, I have finished repainting the original group of 10 wyches from my Drukhari army. Back in 2017, I had painted ten to some level, but it wasn’t great. I also wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted them to look, so it wasn’t exactly what I’d call a good unit, and was probably why I have never really been that keen on the Wych Cult side of the army. Well, after getting ten of them done in August, I’ve got these other ten finished, plus the Succubus. I haven’t yet finished the third group (heck, they’re still bare plastic!) but I am kinda excited by the fact that I have been painting Drukhari miniatures again!
Especially because I’ve also been working on painting this Raider! It isn’t finished yet, of course, though somehow it seems to have been pretty quick to paint up to this level, which is nice! Painting it really took me right back to those early days with my Dark Eldar, and I have really enjoyed recapturing that feel. It makes me hopeful that I will, in fact, be able to make some decent progress with getting the army up to a better standard, as for the most part they were all just done to a tabletop standard.
I really want to try to pace myself on this front, though, because I don’t want to miss out on getting any other miniatures painted because I’m spending my time going over old ground – I mean, I still have a massive backlong, regardless of the amount of stuff I’ve got through over the summer!
Now, this came a little bit out of left field, as I think I’d made an offhand comment about having two carnifexes that needed painting, and then promptly dug them out and finished them off! Even though one of them had been mostly done, and it was just a matter of finishing touches and stuff, I feel really pleased at having got these big chunky boys done. The carnifex model is horrible to put together, and the back carapace in particular looks gross when you look at how mis-aligned the pieces are, but I can’t deny the overall effect of them is brilliant, even if I say so myself! It’s very rare that I look at something I’ve painted and think, “this is awesome!” but with my Tyranids (and, oddly, with my Dark Eldar) I really get that feeling.
Tyranids have been on the back burner for what feels like centuries now, of course, and I’m sure at some point I will burst forth with a bug infestation, but not quite yet… I still don’t even have the codex for the army, but it’s so far from finished that I suppose the codex is the least of my worries! I love the look of the army so much though, and even stuff as daft as the feel of some of those big bugs in the hand, it’s just a tremendous force!
I had a week away this month, and so had a week off from hobby stuff (which itself could be contributing to my hobby slump) but did take some Necromunda books with me. The end result is that I’ve spent the last week basically obsessed once again with the best skirmish game out there! I’ve really been fired up with a lot of inspiration for the game, but with the result that I feel a little bit like I have that sort of scattergun approach to the hobby, and I don’t know where I want to turn my attention first. I have some Delaque gangers that I want to paint, I want to paint more Van Saar, and I want to paint my Orlocks. I also want to paint more terrain, and I want to start an Outcasts gang. I have also – finally! – begun to look into the Goliath gang, mainly because I was looking at the new Goliath bikes and think they’re utterly hilarious! I’ve built up two gangers for the time being, and they are quite nice models – although the one who has a cigar in his mouth is just ridiculous. I mean, the cigar is a separate bit!!
So I’m trying to take it a bit slower, and I’m trying to just plan things a little bit, and work out what exactly I want to do here. I still want to get more Necrons and Sisters painted by the end of the year, but the Necromunda resurgence cannot be denied, so I think I need to focus on just the Delaque, as I try to get my sneaky boys finished off. James has started to work on some Enforcers that he is pretty excited for, so with a bit of luck we’ll get more games in there soon enough!
My big Necromunda news, though, is that I have finally decided to go for the Ash Wastes, after all! I am hoping to pick it up sometime soon, and have sold off my Nighthaunt army to finance the whole thing, as there is a lot of stuff that I haven’t yet got hold of. That was a bit of a shame, really, as I do love the models, and even though I hadn’t done anything with them in years, getting them all out again in order to work out what I have etc did make me wonder if I should keep them! But I’m trying not to go too crazy, I haven’t played with Nighthaunt in years, I haven’t thought about them or anything in so long, so it makes sense to just off-load them and turn it into something I will use.
The Nighthaunt may be beautiful, but my goodness me, they’re also fiddly as hell! I was almost having palpitations trying to get them untangled from each other! It’s the last complete army that I have wanted to dispose of, really, after selling off the Blood Angels, the Dark Angels, and others, and it is a bit sad to see them go as they are such good models! But it’s just not meant to be, I think. I have the Bonereapers for AoS, of course, although the main thrust of my hobby life is Necromunda and 40k, without a doubt, so it just makes sense to clear out the clutter. I haven’t really bought any models for a long while now, so I don’t feel quite so bad for adding the Ash Wastes box to the pile of shame. Plus, I’ve off-loaded 21 units of Nighthaunt (93 models, including the Black Coach which is much bigger than I remember!) so I suppose I’m making room!
On the whole, though, it feels very much like Warhammer has taken a back seat in September, and I have been focused on my Star Wars prequel re-read. I got through three novels and a half-dozen graphic novels, as well as the final movie in the prequel trilogy, so it was all very much about the galaxy far, far away! It’s nice to have finally made it through all of that, especially as it was meant to be a summer of Star Wars that just started to drag on a bit!!
Interestingly, it has left me feeling a little bit Star Wars-ed out now, though, and I have yet to start watching the new Andor show, despite having been stoked for that to come out! I also picked up a couple of the latest canon hardbacks, but haven’t got the inclination to make a start with those, either!
For the time being, I have started to read Deathfire, book 32 in the Horus Heresy series. I have been neglecting this of late, reading barely any novels in the series the last few years. There’s a definite feeling of lethargy about it now – 32 novels in, and I’m over halfway, but it still feels like I’m a long way from the end! Looking at my recent reading of these books, I finished Scars in June 2020, then Vengeful Spirit in April 2021, and The Damnation of Pythos in June 2021. I made an effort to finish a couple of the anthologies in June as well, which wasn’t too bad as I could cope with short stories while on new baby duty, but that was that! I find the anthologies are a struggle though at times, because there are so many throwaway stories, or tangential stories, and I begin to question just why on earth I’m reading this stuff. I still have 22 books to go before I get to the end of the Heresy series, around 15 of which are novels I believe, so that should help there. With a bit of luck, the storyline will resume somewhat and we’ll have more of a focus as the narrative begins to hone in to the march on Terra.
Deathfire is quite a good book though. I have zero interest in the Salamanders legion, it has to be said – I think it’s along similar lines to the Space Wolves, everything is fire this and pyro that, like the Wolves have wolf this and wolf the other. It’s all a bit blandly boring, really. I know the Salamanders have the reputation for being the good guys, as well, and their whole “caring about the little folk” thing, but that has never been something that appeals to me. I like the Ultramarines, as is well chronicled on this blog, and I always find it interesting how people like the Salamanders for the reasons they dislike the Ultramarines, and it’s almost like it comes down to preferring green over blue, or something! However, in the same way that I ended up liking Vulkan Lives despite kinda dreading having to read that, I am also enjoying Deathfire, so it’s all good for now!
It’s also weirdly nice to get back to the Heresy, as I think I do miss it, despite just how long and drawn-out it has become! It’s been almost seven years since I started reading the series, and while some of the earlier books have stuck with me as being really enjoyable, I really am at the point now where the fatigue has set in. It’s an epic story, and I get that, but some of the stuff that we have in this series does feel incredibly like filler, it’s hard to keep the level of enthusiasm for it! Maybe I should consider a “personal canon” for the Heresy, and start a re-read of just those books that I actually enjoyed…!
In other news, I managed to play a couple of games with the new edition of Arkham Horror, which really is a lot of fun! It’s a surprise to me, because I did enjoy the second edition of the game, but this new one really is great! I think having a story mechanic is a real plus, and adds to the overall feel of the game. I have now bought the Dead of Night expansion, which gives us more of the same stuff, but haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. I want to try and get more big games played in October, so hopefully I can play at least once a week with games like Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, and A Touch of Evil. Whether my long-suffering wife will join me, who knows! Though she does like Eldritch Horror, and I think I can persuade her to try A Touch of Evil. We’ll see. I have so many favourites though, and I haven’t played these things in years, so it would be nice to try and get more games in with them!
More board games, more painting, potentially more Necromunda… I don’t know when I’m planning to sleep during the next month…
Oh man, this was an exciting one! Four days of previews that are really pretty great, for so many in the hobby. Let’s try to break down some of the new stuff and see what’s coming our way in the next few months!
To start with, Chaos is back on the menu! We’re getting a lot of new Cultist varieties, including a ten-man squad, a sort of command squad, and mutant cultists of various stripes. Delightful! There’s also going to be new Possessed, which will presumably be accompanied by the Chosen and the Warpsmith when the big release comes.
Oh yeah, and there’s also gonna be a new Daemon Prince!
Points values will be made available for free, but the upcoming Chapter Approved will be tinkering with the rules, specifically around command points, and giving everyone new secondary objectives. There has been some outcry about why CA is coming out when armies like the Guard still don’t have their Codex, which I think is pretty valid, but 9th edition has been so strange to me, I suppose I’m not really surprised.
World Eaters will be getting a Codex, too, but it’s too soon to show off any new models. And the new Squats are getting a trike, which people seem to be excited for. I’m still underwhelmed with the Squat news – I’m happy for those players who have wanted this to happen, of course! I’m just happy, also, that I don’t feel the need to get any!
Next up, we have Age of Sigmar! Leaks from the Slaves to Darkness book have been on Facebook for about a week already, but it’s great to see these big lads in high definition glory! There’s a new Skaven model coming out, and Sylvaneth are getting a lot more new models!
This has been quite a surprise, to me. Seems like each iteration of the game grows this army, and they’re getting further away from their Wood Elf origins. It’s great to see, and I think I’ll need to exercise some restraint because Sylvaneth are an army that I really would love to try out. I mean, the Treelord mini is one of my absolute favourite sculpts of all time!
Big news from AoS is that Cities of Sigmar will be getting what I suppose we’re now calling “the Battle Sisters treatment”, and there will be updates for the redesign online. Could be interesting…
Big news in Specialist Games comes once more from the Squats, as we’ll be getting them in a new gang of Ironhead Squat Prospectors. Interesting, seems like 2022 is going to be the year of the space dwarf.
The next Kill Team box has been announced, Moroch, and will be Phobos Marines vs Traitor Guard, with the new Sector Frontieris terrain! I’m unsure about this one, as I don’t want the Marines, and I already have the ogryn and commissar models from their release in Blackstone Fortress, so I’m thinking that I might sit this one out. That terrain is, of course, wonderful, but given that they split these boxes up eventually anyway, I think I might just wait.
It does look tempting, though!
New logo and new location for Warcry, as we head into a cursed jungle for what many seem to think will be a soft version two. I’m not sure about the jungle, because I personally love the aesthetic of fighting in these abandoned cities (or mines!) and can’t really see that translating well. I’m prepared to be wrong, of course!
We also have a new warband preview – the Horns of Hashut – which is odd because it feels like they’re half of the suspected new box… We also have the centaur dude who looks pretty great – I hope this is going to mean we get more unique crazy sculpts for these sort of mercenary allies as time goes on!
I have to say, though, I’m disappointed to hear that the new setting is going to bring with it more AoS races “to the fore”. I don’t think Warcry is good when we have just any old fantasy race; I much prefer it as a Chaos vs Chaos game. Don’t get me wrong, I know why they’re doing it, and adding in the whole AoS catalogue has probably kept interest in the game to the point where we’ve been able to have so much amazing content for it. But I really preferred it when we were seeing bespoke, weird Chaos warbands unique for this game…
The final day, yesterday, brought the big news about Horus Heresy 2.0 that has been teased and spoiled and goodness knows what for a long while now. We’re getting a new box set, which is huge, and new MkVI marines. New plastic tanks, and a slew of plastic weapons upgrades to try to muscle in on people who have been 3D printing their own. It’s an interesting move, and I wonder if they’ll start to do these kinds of weapons packs for other armies, giving Kabalite Warriors a second blaster, etc? It’ll be interesting to see whether these Necromunda-style upgrades have any traction into 40k, anyway. Without being a Heresy aficionado, however, the final day was otherwise a bit of a whimper, to me.
But it was definitely an exciting few days, and here’s hoping that I am the lucky one to win everything they’ve previewed here!! 🤣
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.
Well it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was here with my June retrospective, and already July has been and gone! With everything going on in real life right now, I have (unsurprisingly!) been a bit busy to be doing any fun stuff, as holding a baby to get her to sleep (and all the other associated activities!) don’t really allow for anything else. But I have been reading, which is probably going to be the main focus of this post!
I’ve been reading a lot of Necromunda books, both the current range of hardcovers and also the old Gang War supplements that were released three years ago now. Perhaps because of the fact that I’m now outnumbered by women at home, I’ve been taking a long look at House Escher for the game, and did actually manage to find a spare moment to paint some miniatures earlier in the month! So hurrah for that! I haven’t managed to get very far though, and haven’t managed to do so again, either. But never mind. I think, having a second child, it’s easier because you know there will come a time when the stars align and you get your free time back in the evenings – it isn’t suddenly a black hole of having no available time for the foreseeable future!
I’ve been reading a lot about campaign play as well, and seeing how that all works out for the game. It’s really exciting, and I think it’s going to be at the top of my list when I’m able to have something like regular gaming once more!
The roadmap for Necromunda was recently updated, to show the plastic weapon upgrades for Orlock, Van Saar and Cawdor are coming in the next quarter, and a new gang in Q4! This is very exciting, I must say. A lot of speculation is being made around classics such as Ratskins or Skavvies, but I do recall hearing at one of the Open Days that they also had plans for totally new gangs, which of course we have seen already with the Corpse Grinders, so I’m very excited to see what’s coming. Very exciting times in the Underhive right now – and it’d be even better if we had the Delaque weapons!
The new edition of Kill Team has been announced, with GW making a very big deal of it coming out next month. I’ve been back and forth so much on this one, but I think I’m still at the point where I’m really excited for the new system. Whether I am able to get my hands on the new box or not is, of course, the big question, but I think it looks like it should make a really interesting board game style of game, even if I nevermake up another team. But, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to be making more teams!
The thing is, though, I’m really feeling the narrative focus this time around, and I know people have been losing their literal minds on the internet by the fact that it now uses movement templates rather than inches, but I do find myself quite liking the fact that the rules have changed to a more bespoke system. However, it’s the narrative, for me, that I’m keen to dive into, and I’m really looking forward to assembling a team of spec-ops to use. Furthermore, I think I’ll most likely be assembling a team or two that are purely meant for Kill Team, and not simply taking a bunch of models from my 40k collection to use in this game, which I have done in the past. The Krieg models are a perfect case in point, and I think I might be keeping a few Tempestus Scions for the game as well. We shall see!
As I said, though, I’ve mainly been reading this month, and have managed to make my way through two of the anthologies for the Horus Heresy, Shadows of Treachery and The Primarchs – so I think I’m reasonably now up to date on everything that I’ve missed! As ever, anthologies are a bit of an uneven experience for me, so rather than going through them both story-by-story, I thought I’d pick out my absolute favourites to talk about from each.
Prince of Crows
Published in Shadows of Treachery, this follows on from Savage Weapons, where Konrad Curze was wounded by Lion el’Jonson during their duel. With Curze lying comatose, First Captain Sevatar re-forms the Kyroptera advisory council of the Night Lords, and plans how to save the Legion as the Thramas Crusade draws to its conclusion, with the Dark Angels poised to annihilate the VIII Legion. The Legion commanders each take a portion of the fleet to raid Imperial space, while Sevatar himself uses his nascent psychic ability to bring back the Night Haunter from his coma, and lead a retaliatory strike against the Lion’s cruiser. While this attack ultimately fails, it does allow for Curze to hide himself in the bowels of the Invincible Reason.
I really enjoyed this novella – it’s probably one of the best Horus Heresy stories that I’ve read for some time, actually! The Night Lords haven’t really had a novel properly dedicated to them, they’re always just on the sidelines – I’m not sure if that changes, as I’ve only just broken into the 30s in the series, but I feel like they’re something of a forgotten Legion, really! There are a couple of short stories though, which somewhat culminate with this novella, joining the dots as to what’s happening out on the fringes before Curze then makes an appearance in The Unremembered Empire. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s nice to see the Legion structures and compare / contrast how each works. The Night Lords, for all that they’re said to be a band of ruthless murderers, still have that similar command structure, the Kyroptera being roughly analogous to the Mournival of the Sons of Horus.
We also get an extended flashback/memory sequence from Curze, detailing his early life on Nostramo, which was nice to get that full story in print, as it’s a fairly major part of the lore, etc. It’s a fairly lengthy novella, and gives a lot of action as well as some of the quieter moments to allow for a bit of Legion lore to get in, as well. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it!
Shadows of Treachery is otherwise a bit bland, with a couple of shorter stories that just felt dull and unnecessary when talking about the Heresy as a whole, but we also have The Crimson Fist, which was a bit of a drawn-out explanation for why the Imperial Fists didn’t make it to Isstvan V. I wasn’t a huge fan, truth be told.
The Serpent Beneath
This is another fantastic novella-length story, published in The Primarchs and this time dealing with the Alpha Legion. My favourite of the Legions, the story is actually quite fascinating as it deals with the Legion infiltrating Tenebrae Station, which is controlled by their own brother legionaries. The station is being used to create the warp storms that are keeping the White Scars at Chondax, but several security leaks have been traced to the installation and Omegon decides to form a team to neutralise this threat.
The narrative is really quite cleverly constructed, as it keeps slipping back to the planning meeting that Omegon held with the team, and then into the action of their infiltration. It poses the very intriguing question, what happens when you need to infiltrate your own Legion, and so know your own tricks?
There are so many twists and turns along the way that it is virtually impossible to summarise them all, but the story takes a hugely interesting turn at the very end, where Omegon and Alpharius discuss the situation. It seems Omegon had fabricated the security leak as a means to destroy the station, a gift from the Cabal, and it is possible that he is trying to subvert his twin’s plans – is Omegon a secret loyalist? Who the hell knows, this is the Alpha Legion, after all! It was a great story, with a look at the wider universe outside of the space marines – when Omegon is recruiting his team, we get something almost akin to a film noir sequence of the hooded marines stalking a Mechanicum operative. This is just one of many cases in point, though, as the story was exceedingly cinematic, and it read really well as a result.
The Primarchs is essentially four novellas that tell stories about Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion el’Jonson, and Omegon. The Fulgrim story actually turned out to be fairly important, bridging the gap between Fulgrim and Angel Exterminatus, and clearing up some minor points that had be a little confused at the time. The Iron Hands story is notable for being a tale with Ferrus Manus front and centre (considering he is killed in book three of the series), and I thought it posed some interesting questions about the Legion, notably how easy it would be to overcome the warriors if you can disrupt their bionics.
In addition to reading, I’ve also been watching more TV, starting to make my way through The Expanse on Amazon Prime. It’s been years since I first read Leviathan Wakes, and I’m still a little put out that I’ve not yet made it to the next book in the series! I really need to pull my finger out on that front. I’ve watched the first series, and I was really impressed by the look of it, and the feel for how they’ve translated the book to the screen. I do find myself increasingly impressed at how good TV shows have become in recent years – watching WandaVision earlier in the year, I was continually blown away by how the production values made it feel very much like a part of the MCU. The Expanse is in a similar vein, with a big-budget feel to it. I did feel lost for the most part, because the storyline has been mixed up, I believe, with some of the more political storylines from Cibola Burn. So I did find it a little hard to follow at times, but that was only because I was thinking of it in terms of the book! I think that adding this political dimension in right away has been the best decision, though, because it greatly enhances the world-building – in my initial review of the book, I did mention the fact that we don’t get a lot of that as a downside to the story.
It’s a great series, anyway, and I think in general this is some of the most believable sci-fi that we have out there. Definitely looking forward to diving into more of this!
Hey everybody, It’s already time for another retrospective, and we’re suddenly already halfway through 2021! That soon happened. June has been something of a slow month for my blog, because I had the fairly huge event of my second daughter being born on the 18th of the month! Freya came into the world only a couple of days early, although completely unplanned as she couldn’t wait to join the world, so was delivered on the bathroom floor 😳 She’s been doing great though, and her big sister Phoebe is hopefully going to be a big help to us all, despite being only 21 months old, herself 🤣
I’ve been reading quite a bit, and was able to schedule a couple of book reviews to make sure that my blog didn’t just shut down for a few months as happened with the birth of the Firstborn. Master and Apprentice was a little disappointing, but I’m aware that I seem to be almost routinely bashing the new canon stuff, so I need to try to be better and approach these books a little more positively. Hopefully when I get round to stuff like the Alphabet Squadron series, I’ll enjoy them as much as I did Alexander Freed’s Battlefront novel.
I’ve really been on a bit of a Horus Heresy bender, though, partly because I’ve grown tired of continually making statements here along the lines of “I just want to read five more books in the series this year” and “I just want to make it to x, that’s only 4 books to get through”. I’ve been going back to read some of those anthologies that I skipped over back in the day, thinking I just want to read the actual story, and I’ve also been progressing forwards, getting to book 32, Legacies of Betrayal.
This is a bit of an odd duck, to me, being a collection of lots of short stories that previously saw release as audio books, or as part of the BL Advent Calendar that usually has shorter-than-normal stories. It kicks off with Brotherhood of the Storm, which is a novella prequel to the excellent Scars, and one story that I enjoyed quite a bit, even if at times it felt a bit superfluous. There are some interesting shorts in here that give us a tiny insight into how the war is going, such as Strike and Fade showing a group of Salamanders ambushing some Night Lords on Isstvan V while the dust settles. Veritas Ferrum is a short prequel to Damnation of Pythos, and shows the Iron Hands rescuing the Salamanders before they escape the Isstvan system – the sort of story could (should?) have been included as a prologue to the parent novel, but anyway. There are a couple of World Eaters stories by ADB that were quite good – I particularly enjoyed Heart of the Conqueror, which showed the internal conflict experienced by the ship’s Navigator – aware of the fact the Legion has turned against the Emperor, who she sees as a kind of saviour/patron figure, she kills herself and thus pulls the flagship out of the Warp. The stand-outs though, were Censure, which showed us the Ultramarines vs Word Bearers on the irradiated world of Calth (I had no idea that Kurtha Sedd was a character before the box set!) and Kryptos, which featured the Raven Guard/Iron Hands stealth assassin team from Angel Exterminatus. These stories were of a more traditional length, and were able to give a more proper development to the actual storyline they had.
So it was a curious book, overall, having a lot of short, forgettable, dare I say pointless little side stories, but at least I’m ploughing through – only another 23 books to go! 😳
There was some very exciting news about Arkham Horror LCG at the start of the month, with the change to how they’re going to publish cycles from now on, and last week we had the news that there’ll be a revised core set doing the rounds, which will feature a complete playset of the player cards, as well as some of those cards from later expansions to give new folks a better experience right out of the box. Otherwise, it’s still the same 5 investigators (albeit with new art) and they’re going up against the Night of the Zealot as before. I find it interesting that they’re choosing to do this, full playset of cards etc, as it seems to be indicating the shift of the LCG model away from what it has been, and instead making it more like the board game that it pretty much was anyway. I think it’s really exciting, especially if they can pepper the year with stand-alone scenarios to keep the attention on the game, rather than just relying on one, potentially two release events in a year.
Of course, there’s a part of me thinking perhaps this could be signalling the end of the game, as Call of Cthulhu went to a similarly concentrated release schedule of deluxe boxes only before it folded. But even if that were to happen, I think I’m pretty confident that this game has got enough content and playability in the existing cycles that I’ll be playing it for years to come!
Speaking of playing with old stuff, I suppose Lord of the Rings can now be counted as an older game that has finished! I’ve recently had some time to have a few games with this old favourite, playing the first three scenarios in the Angmar Awakened cycle. I was initially planning this for Christmastime, of course, but better late than never, I suppose!! I’ll post something next month going over these, anyway!
June has been pretty much all about rediscovering Magic the Gathering, after I’d found some cards in the attic that I have no real memory of buying! I’ve written a couple of posts where I’ve caught up with the recent sets, here and here, though I’m still trying to be a little circumspect with it, not flying off the deep end with buying cards left and right! I’ve got a couple of deck ideas that I want to share, too, so stay tuned for more on that front!!
However, the biggest game news from June came from Necromunda, when I was finally able to play a real game with James, my Delaque vs his Orlocks. That was a lot of fun – I knew I’d enjoy it, having previously solo played the game at the back end of 2020, but it was a whole load of fun with another person, and we’re planning to get more games and hopefully a campaign in once Freya is settled and the kids are sleeping through the night!
As a consequence, I’ve picked up the new Hive War box set! I knew I wanted more Delaque models anyway, and after playing with the zone mortalis stuff, I think it was clear that the Dark Uprising stuff, while excellent, wasn’t going to be enough for a 3×2 board. The cost of more Delaque and more terrain would be around the £58 mark at my local store, where I could also pick up Hive War for £71, netting me more Escher for just £13, as well as the new book and stuff. So that was pretty much a no-brainer, I thought!
The set is actually quite nice as a starting set, coming with enough terrain to play some games, but I’m pretty sure that even GW themselves tell you it’s only intended as a starting point, and you will get more out of it with more terrain. Which is fine, after all! The rule book, specific to this box, has got the basic rules in it, as well as some “starter” gang rules for all six House gangs, allowing you to build a gang using the box only and these rules. It feels pared-back, but this is the point of this box, remember!
When the Hive War box came out, we also had plastic weapon upgrades for Escher and Goliath (the original two gangs, remember), which seem to be a blend of weapons from the Forge World weapons kits for both gangs. I’m really hoping that, when House of Shadows comes out soon, we’ll also have plastic upgrades for Delaque, so I’m holding off from building too many more gangers for the time being! As I mentioned at the start of the week, though, I’ve started to poke my nose into House Escher, so I could well be making a move there in the coming weeks!
I feel like Necromunda is in a very exciting place right now, as we’re poised on that brink of “what’s next?” once the Delaque get their book.
That pretty much sums things up for now, anyway! I’m hoping that I can do a proper catch-up of the hobby goals sometime in early July – I had planned a mid-point check in for this blog, but I think I’m running a bit long here already. But stay tuned for that!
Today I’m continuing to catch up with the books that I’ve been wading through of late, and will be taking a look at The Damnation of Pythos, the 30th book in the Horus Heresy series! 30 books in already – man, it doesn’t seem at all like these things are dragging on…
The book features what I think is our first showcase of the Iron Hands Legion since the series began – for sure, they’ve been in it since the start, but never as the stars of the show. The sons of Ferrus Manus were one of those Legions that were utterly decimated at Isstvan V, along with the Salamanders and the Raven Guard, and the survivors here are ragged group of all three. Led by Captain Atticus of the 111th Clan Company, the group is drawn to the death world of Pythos in the Pandorax system. There, their astropath Rhydia Erephren discovers a block of psychically-attuned black rock referred to as “the anomaly”, and cannot explain its presence. The space marines are set upon by the weirdly carnivorous beasts of the world, and begin to make a formal settlement on the world while they properly regroup.
After a battle with the Emperor’s Children, where the Iron Hands are able to extract some measure of retribution against the III Legion for their primarch’s murder of Ferrus, the Iron Hands return to Pythos to wait out a Warp storm, during which they are greeted by thousands upon thousands of junker-style ships that appear to be coming to Pythos to settle. The world continues to extract a toll on the civilians, who seem weirdly unfazed by the attacks by the massive native saurians. Meanwhile, the Legion serfs on the planet are being afflicted by nocturnal terrors, with many killing themselves in the grip of madness.
While the colonists are building their settlement, a fissure opens in the ground, revealing a submerged structure that the Iron Hands explore, only to discover it full of carnivorous maggots the size of a man. Things come to a head when Captain Atticus orders a lance hit directly on the ruins site from his flagship Veritas Ferrum, only for it to somehow be deflected back at the ship, destroying the Legionaries’ only way off-planet.
The colonists are soon revealed to be expatriates from Davin, and working to bring about the presence of the daemon Madail into realspace. The daemon’s presence then allows for a cavalcade of lesser daemons to pour forth from the Warp gates within the ruined structures under the surface, and Erephren is barely able to send a warning to Terra before the Iron Hands are completely overcome.
In the epilogue, the message is received by the astropaths of Terra, but the clerks there are unbelieving of such “mythology” and consign it to the piles of thousands of other unread messages.
It took me a long while to get into this book. Whether that was because of real life intruding on things, or something else, who knows. I did find David Annandale’s style a little too off-putting though, as well – the way that a short burst of action would be accompanied by, sometimes, a page and a half of introspection and tangents. But after I was about halfway through, I think I managed to get into it and stuff.
There is a very real sense of dread that is slowly unravelled as the book moves on, as well. After the initial furore of the native fauna of Pythos is seen, we get several nights of utter dread when something is clearly not right – it’s a wonderful way of building up the atmosphere, especially as these moments are seen through the eyes of the Legion serfs, the general humans who help the Legion. While the world also has an effect on the space marines, being transhuman they are somewhat able to shrug it off – especially when we’re talking about Iron Hands, whose motto is “the flesh is weak” and seek to replace their body parts with cybernetica.
I don’t think I’ve felt the need to put a spoiler warning on a Horus Heresy novel for quite some time, as the books all feel fairly dull as regards massive surprises go. However, the revelation that the colonists come from Davin was quite staggering, especially because of the simplicity with which it was announced. It’s a shock to us, the reader, because we know what happens in False Gods, but it’s almost irrelevant to the Iron Hands serf who learns it with us. I really liked that call-back, and I’m intrigued by the idea that we might not be done with the planet of Horus’ downfall yet.
As I alluded to earlier, though, the narrative of the Horus Heresy does seem to be getting really diluted at this point. I really enjoyed Vengeful Spirit, because it was a bit like a return to the principal narrative that had been left off sometime around book 5, but once again here we’re having a story that, while fairly decent in the end, didn’t honestly feel like a Horus Heresy novel for the most part. The little skirmish with the Emperor’s Children was the closest we got, and that only took up about 50 pages.
It’s a really intriguing book though, and I really liked the way that the tension is built up throughout, with the focus on the dread of what is out there. I don’t think I’ve read about many death worlds in 40k before now, so it was also pretty good to see just how bad some of these things can be! The finale was a bit ridiculous and over-the-top, to the point where I did struggle to picture what was going on for the most part, but this isn’t Shakespeare, I guess, so we’re just along for the ride!