Ghostmaker

Hey everybody!
Earlier this week, I finally finished reading my way through Ghostmaker, the second novel in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series. I won’t deny, it was a tough slog to get through this one in the end, not as good as the first, but get through it I did… let’s take a look…

View this post on Instagram

Back to the Ghosts tonight! #Warhammer40k #GauntsGhosts

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

The novel is set on the world of Monthax, as the Ghosts are preparing to fight another onslaught of Chaos Cultists. However, the actual story of this action doesn’t really begin until about 100 pages from the end. The majority of the novel is taken up with reminiscences from several key members of the regiment, tied together with a couple of pages of Gaunt walking the trenches and reassuring his men on the eve of battle.

We get to see Gaunt arrive on Tanith for the founding ceremony, and the Chaos invasion that ultimately destroyed the world. We see extended flashbacks from Major Rawne, Mkoll, Larkin, Corbec, and others, which somehow manage to interweave among each other as well as helping to inform the final story section, where the Ghosts storm a ruined building on Monthax and find a small group of Eldar from Craftworld Dolthe, who are trying to seal a webway portal to which the Chaos cultists are so desperate to gain access.

While the structure of a series of reminiscences like this is quite a tried and tested formula for telling a story, I found that it irritated me the longer it went on in this particular instance. I generally don’t read the synopses on the backs of novels like this, but had somehow caught sight of the fact that the Ghosts were going up against the Eldar, and so was looking forward to seeing that – as a result, every time I read about something else, I felt somehow cheated by it. The book isn’t a bad one, and fans of the series no doubt will appreciate the character portraits that emerge as we get to see more of individual Ghosts, but I felt that the endless flashbacks got in the way of a story that I wanted to read.

And that’s the great shame about Ghostmaker, for me. I know that, ultimately, the novel isn’t really about the Tanith vs Eldar battle, but the final chapter that actually details the fight is actually really interesting, and I wish that there had been some way of peppering these flashbacks into the narrative while throwing the focus instead on the “present” story.

I think I might have another break before making it on to Necropolis, anyway!

Army Updates!

Hey everybody!
For today’s game day blog, I thought I’d share the fruits of some of my musings on Warhammer 40k since I spent the best part of a weekend sorting out how I’m going to field the legions of little people that I have right now. It’s been a very exciting time, I have to say, so I’m excited to share it with you all!

Imperium Army

First of all, I’m sure by now you’ll all remember the combined AdMech/Militarum Tempestus army that I’ve been thinking about for a while? Well I’ve been looking into getting the AdMech part ready for a tournament at my local game store at the end of October, so was working on a 1500-point list of Skitarii and the odd Tech Priest. What a glorious list that would have been! The only problem, of course, is that I would need to buy more miniatures than I already have, and the enormity of the task was somewhat getting to me… I mean, the total project weighed in at 1468 points and 66 miniatures, of which I’ve currently only painted one five-man Skitarii Ranger squad.

Hm.

It’s with a bit of regret, then, that I think this army project will likely not be ready inside of a month… But I’m going to continue on with it for the time being, as I really do like the idea of having a wave of Skitarii robot-men marching across the field implacably!

I picked up the Codex for the AdMech when it dropped, and also the Guard Codex when that came out at the weekend. What a pair of books!! A lot of people have been really tearing the AdMech to pieces, whereas the Guard have had nothing but glowing reviews – indeed, it seems right now, they’re the most powerful army in 8th Edition! So I’m intrigued to see how a combined army would fare.

Of course, my own Guard contribution is Militarum Tempestus, which seem to have come off the worse in comparison with the other Regiments in the book. However, the models are so damn amazing that I would never let a small factor like the rules get in the way of me enjoying them! So before I move on, let me talk about the planned army that I have right now.

The original army list for the Scions that I posted back when I was working from the Index came in at 385 points, very much a subsidiary portion of the overall force. I’ve not actually changed the load-out, from what I can see, but my new Tempestus force weighs in at 391 points, so still not exactly a massive part of the force.

Tempestus list

I’ve since bought another box of Tempestus Scions, and the Start Collecting box, as I managed to find both at a reasonable discount. It’s probably important to note, I’ve never owned a Guard Codex previously, so I’ve never really been aware of the make-up of the army. Reading through the new edition at the weekend, though, I was quite impressed to discover that this list, plus the kits I have yet to build, make up a single Militarum Tempestus Platoon! Exciting times. I do enjoy having the proper organisation for these things, after all.

Now, of course, I just need to think of how I want to kit-out the three other squads of Scions…

For the AdMech portion of the army, however, I’m not being quite so formal. I very much want to field an army that I want to field, if that makes sense, and so I don’t particularly want to go forcing myself to get miniatures that I don’t particularly want, just for the sake of getting a Maniple or Cohort or whatever…

Skitarii list

The army is Skitarii-heavy, as I’ve mentioned already, but I think it should be an interesting build to play (and, hopefully, to play against!) Right now, then, I have a total of 717 points built and primed, which I suppose isn’t too bad going, on the whole! I’ve added a 10-man Skitarii Rangers group to this list since I first blogged about starting the army, as well as the Tech-Priest Enginseer, as I was aiming to get that Battalion detachment going on there. I’ve since started work on a further box of Skitarii, building them as Vanguard this time, so I’m now wondering if I can manage to slip them into a Patrol detachment that would give me yet more command points to spend, but I think I’ll need to give this some more thought for the time being. The dream remains a Brigade detachment, of course, but I think that will be a long way off yet…

On the whole, then, I have a Skitarii Battalion and a Tempestus Patrol detachment, so I’ll be getting the grand sum of 9 command points. So what can I do with all these things?

Codex Astra Militarum has given us some really nice, juicy Stratagems to work with. I’ve taken great care to ensure that all of my Tempestus units have vox casters in them, to allow for Orders to be issued as far as 18″ away, and the Tempestor Prime has his command rod that allows him to issue two orders instead of one each turn, anyway. The Inspired Tactics stratagem will allow him to issue up to three orders per turn, all for a single command point, which I find very exciting – I’m looking forward to seeing how well that can work for me, anyway! The Tempestus also have their own unique stratagem that allows them to immediately fire at a unit arriving from reserves within 12″, which could be quite useful, though so far in 8th I’ve not really played against a great deal of these types of armies…

As for the Codex Adeptus Mechanicus list of Stratagems, I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be using a great deal. I do like the Protector Doctrina Imperative, allowing for +1 to hit in the shooting phase (+2 if the unit has an enhanced or broad-spectrum data tether) – as I’m seeing the AdMech primarily as a gun-line army, I think it’ll be really useful to bolster them like this. I don’t have a Forge World for my army, so I’ve been taking a look through those in the book, and overall I think I like the look of Metalica – it was originally going to be my colour scheme, after all! So I think I’m going to have them as subsidiaries of the Metalica FW and go from there.

This has been an incredibly long ramble, so well done if you’ve made it to the end here! I’ve been very excitedly looking at my Dark Eldar collection in a similar vein, but I think I’ll wait for a bit before writing up my thoughts on the space pirates. October will definitely be a time for trying to get more of the AdMech and Tempestus guys finished for the tabletop, so I hope that I can soon get to my local store for some games!

First and Only

Hey everybody!
I think I’m slowly getting somewhere with the new house after The Great Move 2017 – still waiting for someone to come fit a new kitchen, but these things can’t be rushed, it seems… Anyway! I have the internet again, which is a joy, as trying to write blogs on my phone is a nightmare, so less of that now!

While waiting for everything to fall into place and whatnot, I’ve been reading a few things I’d been putting off for a while. Sure enough, they’ll no doubt all make their merry way onto this here blog in due course, as I ramble inanely for a while, but today I wanted to talk about the Gaunt’s Ghosts series that I’ve just started to read anew, starting with the opening novel, First and Only.

View this post on Instagram

YEAH! #Warhammer40k #GauntsGhosts

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

This book series, by the venerable Dan Abnett, was originally published all the way back in the mists of time known as the 1990s, and I have memories of picking my way through it sometime after starting work in the early 2000s. Not really being a 40k enthusiast at the time, I didn’t really get a lot out of it, and it’s therefore small wonder that it had been the first and only 40k novel that I read for about a decade.

However, I’m back now, and I’ve been buying up the books in the series ready for my glorious return to it! Ever since Horus Rising, I’ve always had a real soft spot for Dan Abnett, and look forward to starting any of his 40k novels with gusto.

First and Only is the introduction to the Tanith First & Only regiment of the Imperial Guard, led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt. The novel is told in pretty much linear fashion across six Parts, each separated by a single chapter entitled “A Memory” that usually then foreshadows something in the subsequent Part. The structure is quite novel, to me, as I don’t really think I’ve read a full-length novel told in the same manner.

The story follows the Tanith regiment, nicknamed Gaunt’s Ghosts, and their rivalry with the Jantine Patricians as they take the forge world of Fortis Binary, which has been tainted with the warped powers of Chaos. After the battle, Commissar Gaunt comes into possession of a memory crystal that provides the catalyst for the main thrust of the story. Gaunt and his Ghosts become pawns in the ambitions of Lord General Dravere’s efforts to become Warmaster of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, and the Ghosts eventually learn that the crystal holds information that could provide the tipping point for Dravere’s bid for power.

Dravere is helped along the way by the Inquisitor Heldane, who has appeared since in Abnett’s Eisenhorn trilogy (for me to know – he may also be elsewhere, of course, but I was excited to see a familiar face pop up!). I thought the handling of the antagonist group of Heldane and Dravere, and the Jantine Patricians, was actually quite interestingly done – the story pits the Imperium against Chaos, but Heldane and Dravere aren’t truly on the side of Chaos, yet remain viable threats to Gaunt and the “good guys”.

While this is definitely military sci-fi, there’s also the sniff of a spy thriller around the central act, and I particularly enjoyed the almost le CarrĂ©-like inclusion of Gaunt’s spy-friend Fereyd. There is definitely a lot going on in the book, and once I’d managed to get into it, I have to say that I really enjoyed it and devoured the story in no time. (It helped that I was stuck on a train for a couple of hours on Friday).

I have to say, though, it did take me quite some time to get into the book. Quite early on, we’re introduced to what feels like the entire regiment, and it felt like a lot to take in. As time wears on, however, it’s relatively straightforward to keep track of who everybody is, but having a cast of 20+ people from the off, and trying to keep them all straight in my mind, did prove a little difficult at first!

But that’s a minor quibble. The book is fantastic, with a really well-told, cinematic story that is totally worth picking up. I know a few people who re-read them every so often, and I can definitely see myself joining those ranks as time goes by!

Another new army!

Hey everybody!
By now, you no doubt realise that I have an addiction to Games Workshop and their little plastic men. Well, we all have our vices. Anyway, while I’ve been both adding to my Necrons, and building up my Dark Eldar, I’ve also been thinking about a lot of the smaller-scale stuff that I have had on the go for varying lengths of time. Genestealer Cults, Deathwatch, and even the regular Space Marine stuff – but first and foremost, I’ve been thinking about making some sort of expansive Imperium army. With the release of the Imperial Agents codex last Christmas, I’ve been pondering all sorts of different combinations of interesting little marginal character-armies, and with the roll-out of 8th Edition, this idea is getting a little more firmly off the ground!

Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii

Back in May, I’d picked up a Start Collecting Skitarii box set, and not long after had built up five Skitarii Rangers. They’d been hanging about primed for a number of weeks, but finally I’ve decided to actually get myself in gear and paint the little blighters! I’d initially wanted to paint them in the Metalica scheme, but decided that I didn’t want the hassle of painting the off-white robes. In the event, I’ve created my own Forge World, which is yet to receive a name, but still! I’d initially wanted to have some very blue Skitarii, to contrast with the usual reds, but as it turns out, these chaps are just kinda muted and grungy. I’d hoped the bases would brighten the scheme somewhat and set them off nicely, but as it happens, they just seem to have added to the overall muted effect! Hm.

The robes have been done with Stegadon Scale Green, with Dark Reaper and Thunderhawk Blue providing the highlights; inside it’s a case of Celestra Grey and Ulthuan Grey, all of the robes then shaded with Drakenhof Nightshade. The pressure suit was done with Eshin Grey shaded with Nuln Oil, and the metallics are the usual scheme of Leadbelcher and Nuln Oil, and Balthasar Gold and Agrax Earthshade. I’d decided against painting the Machina Opus in the usual half-and-half manner, and instead have opted for a golden skull. Might see if I can somehow tie that in to the history of my Forge World at some point. The guns are painted with Rhinox Hide, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and then highlighted with Skrag Brown. The Arc weaponry is Caledor Sky highlighted with Baharroth Blue. Both of these are pretty much the Duncan-approved methods, anyway! The purity seals are Zandri Dust (parchment) and Tuskgor Fur (wax) shaded with Agrax Earthshade. Finally, the eye lenses have been done with Ulthuan Grey shaded with Carroburg Crimson.

Despite the fact that they haven’t turned out as I’d first imagined them, I nevertheless actually really like these guys! I think once I have a proper horde of them on the tabletop, with some vehicles in amongst them, it’ll look really cool, anyway!

So what am I going to be doing with this army?

As I said before, it’s an Imperium Army, and for the most part I’ll be using models that I’ve already got hanging about for one reason or another. It’s broken up into two Patrol detachments, and combined comes to 50 power / 1000 points exactly. Let’s break it down.

Imperium Army

I’ve got a lot of Militarum Tempestus stormtroopers anyway, so thought it would be good to get some use out of them. Two squads of five Scions, flying about the field in a Chimera with a Commissar for inspiration should be useful – by giving every squad a vox caster, I should be able to make maximum use of the Tempestor Prime and his command rod, relaying orders up to 18″ away from him. I mean, in my head it sounds cool, but I don’t know exactly whether it will play out that way!

I bought a bunch of Astra Militarum stuff around Christmastime for my burgeoning Genestealer Cults army, so already have a Chimera and Commissar that are just waiting to be built – I had initially thought about converting the Commissar to be a Genestealer Hybrid, as I wanted my entire Guard to be cultists, but I think that may be a bit too much to bother with. Plus, the Primus is a pretty good Commissar stand-in if I need one! I’ve already built up two squads from a pair of Scions kits, as I was building up the relevant Scions for the expansion to Deathwatch Overkill that appeared in White Dwarf back in the day. Working through each of those models has proven to require a third box, however, to make legal squads, but no matter. I enjoy having the variety of weapons and such, anyway, and they are really quite wonderful kits to put together, after all.

For the Skitarii portion of the army, I only needed to get a second squad of the Rangers/Vanguard kit, and a Sydonian Dragoon. I’d already been attempting to paint some Electro-Priests over a year ago now, so hopefully this will prompt me to finish them off, and the Start Collecting box really is incredible value. I do plan on getting another in time, in part to continue the idea of a wave of Skitarii marching implacably across the table, but those Onager Dunecrawlers have been growing on me as models, and while I’d initially planned on selling that portion of the box, I think I’d like to have at least a pair of the buggers on the table!

The Skitarii portion of the list feels much smaller, but is actually a fairly significant portion of the overall army. While I was surprised at first at how cheap some of the units actually are, I think it would also be quite easy to sink a lot of points into upgrades that, on T3 models, are probably wasted. If building Dark Eldar has taught me anything, it’s to be sparing with the upgrades!!

Before I end this blog, I just want to give a shout-out to Alchemists Workshops in Winsford, who I came across after watching The War Gamer‘s painting tutorials on youtube. I trundled over there earlier in the week to pick up the above bits, and couldn’t believe how well-stocked and how cheap the Games Workshop stuff is! It’s in the middle of an industrial estate, which feels a little weird to me, but I was very impressed! Definitely going to be making that journey again to stock up on stuff soon, anyway!