Painting Progress! November 2018

Hey everybody!
Well it’s day five of my 800-blogs celebration week, and to close with a bang, I thought I’d update you all with some of my recent hobby progress! As always, I’ve been building a lot, but more excitingly, I’ve also been managing to not only paint a lot of things, but to get some of those things finished! Win-win!

Let’s start with some Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault.

I’ve not yet played this game, but seeing these minis really inspired me to look again into fantasy and the Nighthaunt range for Age of Sigmar, and we all know where that has led me! These were some quite challenging models to paint, the Briar Queen herself in particular, because I’m not really used to having such light colours, and having to mix shades with medium to lighten them has been quite a learning curve for me. The models have so much character though, I really enjoyed getting them finished and seeing the whole band come together.

I enjoyed them so much, in fact, that I’ve already built my second warband!

I’m hoping to get a game of Shadespire in soon, so will be featuring that on the blog here at some point in the near future – stay tuned for that!

Next up are my Electro-Priests! They’re a unit that I’ve had some trouble with in the past, as I’d wanted to paint them for a long time but initially sprayed some white and it didn’t end well for me. I’d previously had the idea of painting their skin a charred black, with the robes a light pink. Well, that no longer fits with the look of my Skitarii, so I went back to the drawing board and have painted them with the blue robes of the rest of my army (which currently numbers five models, but whatever) There are a few callbacks to the Skitarii such as the grey tabards in front, which echo the pressure suits, and of course the various dangling bits and pieces are a strong resemblance between both squads. You can definitely see on three of them there is a chalkier finish, where the stripping hasn’t quite worked out for me, but overall I think they look great, and they’re a really nice addition.

Really chuffed to have finally painted them, after nearly three years since they were originally built!

Of course, I was wanting to paint something weird while I was waiting for the Blackstone Fortress stuff to land, so now that I’ve done these, I feel at a bit of a loss as to where to go next! Fortunately, however, I have found some of the Chaos Cultists from Dark Vengeance, so have been busy building up those gentlemen!

Not only have I got the Cultists being built up, I’m also building some House Cawdor gangers for Necromunda. They both kinda fit the bill of weird 40k stuff, after all, so I think they’ll keep me going nicely for the next week, until we get to Blackstone Friday! The Cultists are nice models, for early push-fit stuff, and I have previously painted up some of them at least, so I’m excited to try my hand once more at these guys. While building them, I was thinking that I’d like to try, so far as possible, to make a really nice job of them – partly because they’re comparatively rare models nowadays, but also because they’ve got so much lovely detail on them, and I don’t always try my hardest to really make an effort with the regular line troops. So I’m thinking that I’ll just do a few at a time, and try to make them really special.

The Cawdor stuff is really kinda weird, isn’t it? Such fiddly models, as well. But while I initially wasn’t thinking much of them, I think I would like to try some of these in a game at some future date, so it would be good to have them painted up and whatnot. While I’m definitely going to do more than ten Van Saar gangers, and will probably do more Orlocks as well, I think I will probably just build up the ten as per the box, and leave them at that.

Speaking of the weirder elements of 40k, all that talk about the Kill Team Rogue Trader expansion the other day has gotten me into painting the minis, finally! I really, really like these guys, so while the going has been quite slow so far, it has also been a lot of fun. The models are so wonderfully detailed, they really show just how good GW is at sculpting their models right now – it’s stuff like this that really puts the argument that Citadel minis are the best in the business out there. I’m not really used to painting regular human skin and whatnot, so I have been finding it a little tough at times, but they are so enjoyable to paint that I can’t help but want to plough ahead with the project!

Something that I’m really pleased with is getting this squad of Necron Immortals finally painted up, having stalled with them a few weeks ago and not really having gotten the inspiration to finish them off. I’m a big fan of gauss Immortals, but I think the tesla carbines have really come through here, and the soft drybrushing from Kantor Blue, through Alaitoc Blue and up to Teclis Blue has really come through quite well, I think – rather than looking messy, it actually feels more like a glowing effect, to my eye, so I’m really chuffed!

While I’m still a long way off from my projected list from September, I think I’m feeling more in the mood to get moving with the Great Reanimation now, so hopefully my Necron army will be getting back to the tabletop soon!


So I’ve been painting and building a lot, but I think the Necrons bring me on to the next part of this blog, and my plans for the immediate future, and where I would like to be by the end of the year (just six weeks away!)

Obviously, I’d like to get more Necrons painted in my Thokt Dynasty scheme, so I think somewhere near the top of the list will be more space skeletons. I think I’d like to get more troops, with more fancy units, so I’m thinking I’ll probably aim to do five more Immortals (gauss most likely!) and either five Deathmarks, or an Annihilation Barge. I’ll stop short of saying both, but I’ll decide which I’d rather do soon. I’ve got both units built, at least!

I talked about Skitarii before, and I think I’d like to get at least five more Rangers or Vanguard painted – possibly Vanguard, as I’ve been thinking about some effects I could try on the radium carbines. Not sure if I’d do anything else, though the Tech Priest Dominus is a strong contender. I had one built up, but I think it broke; I do have a total of four further Tech Priest kits (between all the Start Collecting, Forgebanes and now the Kill Team Commander that I picked up the other day!) so I could build up another and see if I can get anywhere with him. I started painting the Tech Priest Enginseer, but he’s currently on my painting table broken, so I’ve been thinking about trying to finish him, as a part of which I’ll try to fix him.

The Chaos Cultists are a project, but while there are a load of them, I’m going to paint them in fives, so as to not overwhelm myself. Whether I get to them before the end of the year or not, I don’t know, so I’ll leave them off this list for the time being. I also don’t know if I’ll manage to get the Elucidian Starstriders finished before new year, but I’d like to see how far I can get. So far, anyway, I’ve almost been painting them while I had a certain paint on the palette for another unit, so I might just keep them there and see where I get to.

Three years ago, I started to build a Deathwing army, and I am really feeling in the mood to do some more with that this year. I have a lot of models that are basecoated and such, so I might see if I can get the details finished on them, as they are a wonderful-looking force, and I’m really proud of those models that I’ve so far managed to finish. So I think I might like to add in the Deathwing Knights to this list, as I think I’d like to get those done in particular.

So what’s on this list? Necrons, Skitarii and Deathwing, with perhaps some odds and ends mixed in to keep things moving and interesting. Necrons are possibly my priority because I want to try and get the army up to a level where I can start having games with it. I need to make sure I don’t get distracted by Lychguard or Praetorians, and instead focus on the troops that I need, and some of the good support stuff that will make a core of the army. Skitarii will be my Kill Team project – I’ll be writing a blog on that sometime soon – so they’re again something that I will be painting up to play, with a view to finally getting the army going, but I think that’s more of a long-term goal. And the Deathwing thing is almost something of a passion project at this point, but I would really like to do some more work to them: as December is traditionally my time to do stuff with the First Legion, hopefully we’ll see at least some movement on that front!

I have the feeling, though, that Blackstone Fortress may be taking up a lot of my time, once I get it in my hot little hands!!


So there we are, my painting and hobby progress to date! I think this focus on just finishing one unit is definitely the way forward for me, so you can expect to see more updates where I have complete units in the future. And what a week it’s been! 800 posts, huh? I certainly didn’t think I’d last longer than a year, but next April it’ll be my five-year anniversary! Amazing stuff!

Black Library catch-up

Hey everybody!
It’s day four of my posting-every-day in celebration of 800 posts here on my blog, and today I thought I’d talk about some books along the Warhammer theme – got to keep it all neat and current, after all!

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First of all, I can’t believe I didn’t write up a blog for this one! After the second book in the series, I wasn’t sure if I would still enjoy Gaunt’s Ghosts, as I thought it was a little less than wonderful, but thankfully I was proven wrong with Necropolis!

Set on the planet Verghast, the story involves the clash of two huge hive cities on the world, Vervunhive (still loyal to the Emperor) and Ferrozoica (since fallen to the Dark Gods). Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only arrive to bolster the local militia of Vervunhive, amidst a gruelling siege from the forces of Chaos.

The book is actually really good, with some tremendous set-piece battles taking place. While planetary politics aren’t always the most exciting, it was an interesting change of pace for me to see a battle taking place amid the industrial politics of Vervunhive, and the city leaders jostling for power and money amid the war going on around them. Dan Abnett is obviously a firm favourite for many, myself included, and it felt very much like this book was a lot more firmly on track than the collection of short stories that comprised the second book.

The book, like pretty much all of Abnett’s writing that I’ve encountered thus far, features much that is both grim and dark, and that helps to give Warhammer 40k its distinctive gothic feel. Notable for me is the hive leader, Salvador Sondar, who is perpetually encased in a neurocasket and conducts his dealings with others through servitor-puppets that are decomposing on their wires.

In some ways, the plot reminded me a little of Warriors of Ultramar, although the storylines do diverge quite dramatically. There is something of the feel of impending doom as we wait for the besieging enemy to attack, and it helps somewhat that the story is never told from the point of view from the Ferrozoicans – much like with Graham McNeill and his Tyranids. Even the turning point of both stories involves infiltrating a massive control structure of the enemy…

Anyway! It’s a wonderful book, quite creepy in parts, but incredibly visceral as Abnett usually is with his war stories. Definitely one to seek out and enjoy if you can!

More recently, I read the fourth story in the Space Marine Conquests series, Of Honour and Iron. As with all novels in this series, it deals with the arrival and integration of the Primaris Marines into the regular infantry of the various (currently First-Founding) Chapters of Space Marines. I’d have thought the Ultramarines would have been more receptive to them, given that they were created on Guilliman’s order, but even here, there is mistrust from the regular Marines.

We get Genesis Chapter in this story as well, the first of the Ultramarines’ successor Chapters, and the guys that I had decided to paint up my own Primaris Marines as following the release of Dark Imperium last year!

The story involves Ultramarines and Genesis Chapter fending off an attack by an Iron Warriors warband – at the time, I’d just finished Dead Sky, Black Sun, so felt like I was continuing to read the same story! Clearly there is a lot of bad blood between the sons of Perturabo and those of Guilliman… The Iron Warriors are searching for something among the hive cities of Quradim, a world garrisoned by the Genesis Chapter, and the same world where the Ultramarines, led by Chaplain Helios, arrive on a special mission for Guilliman. Turns out, years ago there was a cache of virus bombs deposited there, and Guilliman wants to use them to kill off worlds to deny them to the Ruinous Powers in a bit to drive back the Cicatrix Maledictum. Or something like that. The Iron Warriors obviously want them to cause havoc, and something of a race across the planet takes place.

I felt like this was very much a story-by-numbers, for the most part, with the Iron Warriors coming across more like stock-villains than anything else. It was cool to see the Genesis Chapter having such a large role, for sure, and I do like seeing the larger 40k storyline advancing, though I similarly feel that it was a little bit pointless, and these books exist more to show the Primaris integrating into the regular Marines Chapters than anything else. (It doesn’t hurt GW to be able to point to these and say, “look! The Ultramarines/Dark Angels/Space Wolves/Blood Angels have now accepted the Primaris Marines into their ranks! Now buy these battle force boxes!”)


So what’s next from Black Library?

Coming up in February is the story of a female Commissar, Honourbound, which looks like it might be quite good. Notably, it’s a female Commissar who doesn’t feel the need to strut about topless or less. At the minute, I’m enjoying anything that involves a Chaos Cult, so it definitely ticks some boxes for me!

Uncompromising and fierce, Commissar Severina Raine has always served the Imperium with the utmost distinction. Attached to the Eleventh Antari Rifles, she instills order and courage in the face of utter horror. The Chaos cult, the Sighted, have swept throughout the Bale Stars and a shadow has fallen across its benighted worlds. A great campaign led by the vaunted hero Lord-General Militant Alar Serek is underway to free the system from tyranny and enslavement but the price of victory must be paid in blood. But what secrets do the Sighted harbour, secrets that might cast a light onto Raine’s own troubled past? Only by embracing her duty and staying true to her belief in the Imperium and the commissar’s creed can she hope to survive this crucible, but even then will that be enough?

Definitely one to keep an eye on, anyway!

Also coming in February is the final novel in the Horus Heresy series, The Buried Dagger, which will draw the series to a close with both sides poised on the brink of Terra. At least, I think that’s where they’re poised. We’ll get to see Mortarion damn his Legion to perpetual infestation, while an insurrection on Terra erupts in advance of Horus’ forces. It sounds like it’s going to be quite explosive, I have to say, and definitely one of those novels that should stick in the mind.

I’d been expecting to see more in the way of Space Marines Conquests books on the horizon, but there’s nothing on the Upcoming page just yet. We do have the Corax novel in the Primarchs series coming out – that’s a series that I haven’t found myself being quite so invested with for the time being, as none of the stories have sounded like they’d really wow me, so I’ve only picked up three of the volumes for the time being – Perturabo, Lorgar and Jaghatai Khan, as they’re all Primarchs that I’m interested in. If they ever do a Horus novel, I’ll likely pick that one up, and I’ll also likely be interested in an Alpharius book, but I suppose we’ll see!

As it is, I still have rather a lot of Black Library novels waiting for me on the shelf, not just Horus Heresy entries but a lot of the books that were released sort of to advance the storyline. I think I’d like to get to some of those, and also continue along with Gaunt’s Ghosts while I’m on this Chaos Cults kick!

For the time being, I’m reading the short story Skitarius, which is inspiring me to continue with painting my Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures – make sure to come back tomorrow for a painting progress update blog!

Let’s talk about the Primarchs…

Hey everybody!
Wordpress tells me that this is my 800th post, which is quite phenomenal when you think I started this blog back in 2014 as a way to pass the time! Anyway, to do something monumental to mark the occasion, I’m trying to get posts out every day this week, starting with yesterday’s visit to Warhammer World. Will each of these posts be confined to the realms of the grim dark of the 41st millennium? Well, it’s entirely likely, but you’ll just have to keep checking back to see for yourself!

This blog stems back to last December (which is actually when I started writing it, but had left it as a draft for eleven months…) when the Blood Angels and Dark Angels Codexes came out. At the time, there was a lot of chatter about more Primarchs coming back in Warhammer 40k, and back then I couldn’t quite decide whether this would be a good thing or not – probably explaining why I never got round to finishing the post!

I might as well catch up with what’s been going on, along with weighing in with an opinion of my own about the whole situation. It’s certainly been an exciting time in the 8th edition story landscape, don’t get me wrong, but let’s try to make some sense of what’s happening here…

 

While people have been talking about Primarchs coming back for a while already, I think it was the announcement of these two that moved that talk into another realm, as people began to furiously debate whether or not Lion el’Jonson would be included in the Dark Angels book. The fact that the loyalists are currently outmatched by heretic Primarchs by two to one seemed to be a powerful indicator that the next new plastic Primarch would be a loyalist, and so that narrowed the list appreciatively, before the very fact that Dark Angels were getting a book seemed to be proof enough that the Lion would be the one.

Of course, the book arrived, and there was a distinct lack of Lion el’Jonson. For a time, it seemed, the talk of returning Primarchs died away as the much vaunted (yet almost entirely fan-made-up) year of the xenos got underway.

The line-up
For completion’s sake, the loyalist Primarchs we have are:
Lion el’Jonson – he’s said to be “sleeping” somewhere deep within The Rock, recovering from his psychic battle with Luther. However, only the Emperor himself is aware of the Lion’s survival.
Jaghatai Khan – he’s off fighting Dark Eldar in the webway, and it is unclear whether he is still alive or dead.
Leman Russ – he disappeared during a feast, some believe he has journeyed into the Eye of Terror on some quest or other. It’s possible he has succumbed to the Wulfen curse, as some mystery surrounds his disappearance.
Rogal Dorn – confusingly, Dorn was said to have died while repelling the first Black Crusade of Abaddon, though this has since been retconned so that, whereas initially his body was discovered, now all that remained was his fist.
Sanguinius – he’s dead, but more on this in a moment.
Ferrus Manus – he’s also dead, decapitated by Fulgrim on Isstvan V at the opening engagement of the Horus Heresy.
Roboute Guilliman – currently the only loyalist Primarch running around the galaxy in 8th edition.
Vulkan – a curious fish, Vulkan is said to be a perpetual, so he cannot truly die. He’s currently MIA, however, waiting for the last four of his nine artifacts to be recovered by his sons, at which point he will deem them worthy of his return. Hm.
Corvus Corax – deeply disturbed by the events surrounding his attempt to rebuild his Legion following the Isstvan massacre, Corax simply left his sons, plotting a course for the Eye of Terror.

A mixed bag, don’t you think? Some of those Primarchs, such as Leman Russ and Jaghatai Khan, are said to be waiting for their chapter’s time of greatest trouble, at which point they will return to lead them, very much in the manner of King Arthur. But there are also clearly a good number of these chaps who could be brought back into the story with no huge retcon required, as they’re merely “somewhere else” as opposed to, say, decapitated and dead. For these, it may well be more a question of “when” rather than “if”.

Returning from the dead
Last December, there was a mention by one of the writers that Sanguinius may not actually be dead after all, however. I came across this mention by Chapter Master Valrak back in the day, where the suggestion was made that the winged angel is merely in stasis.

Sanguinius, in case you weren’t aware, teleported up to the Vengeful Spirit along with his father, the Emperor, and Rogal Dorn, during the climactic battle of the Horus Heresy. Sanguinius became separated from the others, and was the first to find Horus, whereupon they dueled. Sanguinius knew he was no match for his brother, and had already foreseen his own death at Horus’ hand, but nevertheless knew he had to do what he could to help take down the arch-traitor, and it was the Blood Angels’ Primarch who managed to land a blow on Horus that opened up the chink in his armour for the Emperor to eventually get in and destroy him.

However, during this confrontation, Sanguinius is very definitely killed by Horus. Sanguinius’ death was so painful that his death screams left a psychic imprint upon all Blood Angels through both time and space, the echo of this remaining to this day as the Black Rage. Would the Black Rage exist if Sanguinius hadn’t been slain? Possibly, but to keep Sanguinius alive in the lore does definitely cheapen his sacrifice here, and I wonder – if he were to return – how that would make the Primarch feel… Sanguinius foresaw his own demise at the hands of Horus, and yet still went through with it all, knowing he would die, because he saw the possibility that his sacrifice could help the Emperor to destroy the Arch-Traitor for good. To bring him back after that would be to lessen the events aboard the Vengeful Spirit, and would likely torture the Primarch himself, as he is once again alive while his father the Emperor is entombed on the Golden Throne.

Unless we see the Emperor return as well, but that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys…

The whole Sanguinius thing faded into memory by the time the Space Wolves got their Codex earlier this summer, and once again there was talk of the return of a Primarch. But the book came out, and no Leman Russ came with it, which did indeed seem quite odd, but it happened, and the chatter about Loyalist Primarchs seemed to ebb away. Do GW just not want to bring any Loyalist Primarchs back? What’s going on there in Nottingham? We’re 2-1 in favour of Chaos at this point! Has Duncan made a pact with the Dark Gods?

So we’re currently at the point where, for now at least, it seems like the return of any Primarch has died down somewhat. Of course, no new Primarchs on the horizon isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though the new Imperial Fists battle force box coming out this Christmas has now got me wondering if that is testing the waters for a second Loyalist Primarch making a return…

See, while I don’t think I’m definitely in that camp, I’m certainly leaning more towards the idea that the Primarchs belong in the 30k age, and especially after having read The Beast Arises series, I think it’s good to have that sort of mythical age of heroes to look back onto. If the story made sense, then I would absolutely back the return of the Lion, or even Russ, but I don’t think we particularly need to see every single possible Primarch come back just because. They belong in 30k, because that was their time; now, I think they should only appear because the story demands it.

But Chaos has got two Primarchs now!

The Traitor Primarchs are a lot easier to bring back, as all of those surviving Primarchs fled into the Eye of Terror following the Horus Heresy. With the Cicatrix Maledictum now tearing the galaxy apart, the storyline does seem to naturally follow that we’d see more of them, and they may think the galaxy is now ripe for another incursion.

I’m very curious about this whole turn of events, though, which is one of the reasons for this blog anyway. See, Magnus and Mortarion coming into the game does kinda make sense, because both Primarchs lead traitor legions of models that are both very specific within the lore, and had models in dire need of a proper upgrade. However, I am very curious if we’ll ever see Perturabo, or even Lorgar, because those guys just seem to lead generic Chaos Space Marines. And I really doubt we’ll ever get Alpharius/Omegon (not just because one may or may not be dead). I’ve been kinda interested in Iron Warriors ever since reading The Beast Arises and Storm of Iron, and so would really like to see what they would do with a Daemon Primarch Perturabo – but there wouldn’t really be any Rubric/Plague Marine equivalents for these chaps, instead a bit of a generic CSM kit with hazard markings.

This point does beg the question, though – where are Fulgrim and Angron?

Fulgrim had been thought to be coming out prior to the Morathi model being released, as daemon-Fulgrim is a giant snake. There have been several suggestions online about a Fulgrim release coinciding with the upcoming Slaanesh release in Wrath and Rapture, which pits Khorne against the Dark Prince, and it would be entirely fitting if the daemon models that cross between AoS and 40k then led to plastic Noise Marines and so forth. I do feel that the Noise Marines in particular need an upgrade along the lines of the Rubric Marines we’ve seen, as they’re currently in the same position as the Thousand Sons, having a resin upgrade kit and some sonic blasters that are just embarrassing at this point…

At least you could, at a push, invest in some Kakophoni if you wanted to go for a more civilised look, but even these look poor when you compare them with the glorious plastics for the Sons of Magnus!

But what about Khorne? There had been rumours of an Angron model coming out in some kind of Armageddon-themed box set, World Eaters vs Orks, which would have coincided with the Ork codex. But that book is now out in the world, and we don’t have any Angron. However, Khorne Berzerkers are in nowhere near as bad a shape as Noise Marines – they actually have a plastic box, even if those plastics are really very dated now!

But where’s my Big Bad?
All of this begs the question, of course – do we need the Primarch to come out just to provide an update for the range?

From a business point of view, we absolutely need that. The promise of a huge plastic centrepiece model is what drives a lot of GW releases these days, and that’s for the simple reason that we’ve all been conditioned to want an army that is built around one big bad boy. I say that like it’s a bad thing, of course – it isn’t, at least not always. It looks fabulous on the tabletop, and it’s a bit part of building a collection for a great number of people. It also helps that they tend to have ridiculously strong rules so that, no matter how many points they cost, people still want to use them. Having these kinds of centrepieces is a badge of pride for many, and the way they’ve been designing plastic models of late really helps to draw a collection into a wonderful, cohesive whole.

I’m banging on about this, because it’s an important point to be made for the Chaos Primarchs. Their armies are quite distinct from one another – you’d never mistake a Plague Marine for a Khorne Berzerker, and that’s not just because of the colour scheme. It’s therefore easier to provide Chaos Primarchs, I would think, because they each have a distinctive force to build around them. Even bringing out Perturabo or Lorgar as mentioned earlier would be entirely possible if it meant we got new daemon engines or cultists, respectively. For the Loyalists, however, most of the time they’re just different flavours of the same kit. Dark Angels may look a bit more Catholic, and there may be a few more topknots among the White Scars, but by and large, they don’t really have a great number of differences to really mark them out as unique.

In this respect, then, Loyalist Primarchs coming back are really very much a one-off release, and can pretty much come out in any kind of rag-tag box of miniatures – you only have to look at the one and only Loyalist Primarch’s release to see that… Does this mean GW will be keeping Lion el’Jonson for some random release by himself, rather than putting him in his own Codex? Well, possibly.

They’re probably likely coming anyway, so what’s the deal?
This blog is already getting long and drawn out, so I’ll try not to ramble on much longer. But I do think that GW might be keeping any future Primarch releases more for narrative-style games, rather than keeping them in the main line of the game. Let me explain a bit.

Primarchs can warp the game. There’s no doubt that Guilliman had been a problem, leading to a couple of attempts to correct him with both Chapter Approved and the Big FAQ. He’s now a significant points investment if you want to include him in your army, although at 400 points he’s still the cheapest of the plastic Primarchs to date (Mortarion is the most expensive, in case you were wondering). I feel that there is a balancing act going on with the first three, whereby GW want to make them appealing to both collectors and to gamers, and yet they don’t want to make them so powerful that it’s simply a case of a player putting down Magnus (for example) and their opponent giving up before deployment has ended. Maybe it was too much of a balancing act to really want to bother with anymore, and so the Dark Angels didn’t get Lion el’Jonson, and the Space Wolves didn’t get Leman Russ, because it was too much hassle to bring out such a potentially game-changing unit that would cause headaches for months.

Instead, why not go with the Armageddon-themed narrative box style, and release a Primarch as part of some narrative adventure thing, with the rules for that model in a supplemental book rather than in the main Codex. It would mean that they wouldn’t have to keep re-releasing Codexes and angering the player-base with a sixth Space Marines Codex in one edition, but instead having the Drukhari vs White Scars campaign book to bring out Jaghatai Khan, for example (along with plastic Incubi and a Dracon HQ choice for the Dark Kin, which will allow for a double Kabal battalion without having to resort to using Drazhar). Would there really need to be a full-on Emperor’s Children Codex, or could they perhaps just bring out some new plastic Noise Marines, and then plastic Fulgrim, and it’s a supplemental rulebook to be used alongside the Chaos Space Marines Codex proper.

I do strongly feel that, once the Genestealer Cults have their Codex, we’ll be moving into a more campaign-play-focused 40k, with Codices coming out for things like the Sisters whenever the release schedule warrants it. Stuff like the Rogue Trader release for Kill Team, and the upcoming Blackstone Fortress stuff, makes me think that we’re already seeing GW gearing up for this, and the mini-dexes we got in Rogue Trader will become something of the norm as we move forward.

Does this explain why the Lion and Russ were left out of their respective Codexes? No, not really. So let me elaborate further with my crazy ideas.

I think there was some kind of master schedule drawn up for the release of 8th edition, where GW made a list of all the Codexes they wanted to bring out, and all of the releases they wanted to bring out with them, and by necessity some armies were winners while others were, to some degree, losers. Those winners were, of course, the Space Marines and Death Guard – the focal point for the 8th edition storyline – along with the Custodes and, to a lesser degree, Imperial Knights and Orks.

I made a handy table to illustrate this, because that’s the sort of thing I do.

I think that GW had set this all up ready, and had already decided that they were going to bring out the books for Dark Angels and Space Wolves as they were – to a large degree, I think they were driven by the need to get the books out as quickly as possible, as it’s a fairly short window to release this many things in one go, after all.

If we go back to the question above, then, and assume it is a question of “when” the Loyalist Primarchs come along, I think it’s pretty safe to say that GW never had any plans to bring the Primarchs along with their Codex, as their principal driving force was to get the updated 8th edition rules out there. New models could wait for just a small handful of releases, but the majority of armies are just getting a book, and that is it. Which is fine, really, as it means we get to play games and all the rest of it.

I’m almost looking at this period as a trial, a time period that just needs to be gotten through, and once we’ve got all the existing armies with their respective book, we can then start looking at advancing the storyline with narrative campaign boxes that bring us a few new models at a time. We’ve seen this already with the three Vigilus story boxes, and I think we’ve very much been experiencing something of a testing bed for GW as they move into that as being their primary product delivery method. These boxes appear to have done quite well, probably in the main due to the fact the new models were awesome and the actual value was quite good. Moving forward, we may see boxes that are less about a pair of new character models, but also including new units (much like the Aberrants in Tooth & Claw, although they were an existing unit that just had a massive update. Hm, Chaos Space Marines are an existing unit that could do with an update).

So maybe we’ll get one of these narrative boxes that includes some repackaged stuff, for instance Primaris vs Heretics, where we see the 42nd exclusive Primaris Lieutenant model, and maybe a plastic Chaos Lord, new plastic Chaos Space Marines, and then there will be a narrative Codex-length book available separately, and there’ll also be some models like the Marines available separately, and then we’ll get Angron as a separate release. I could easily see them doing this, having almost an army-sized release that covers two or three weekends, but rather than being a single force, we get two distinct factions seeing smaller updates respectively. The Primarch wouldn’t be in that campaign box, but it would form a part of the larger release that would still serve to drive excitement up to new-army-style levels, while not having to release a whole army for the price.

I could see that happening, certainly Jaghatai Khan could be included in the same release window that gives us Primaris bikers. Corax could come out with Primaris Vanguard or Assault Marines. (Are Reivers supposed to be the new Assault Marines? I feel like they’re more like Scouts…)

But what about…
Yes, I’ve managed to write over 3200 words without mentioning the proverbial elephant in the room. When is the new Abaddon model coming out?

As the leader of the Black Legion, he’s not quite the poster boy for Chaos anymore, but he’s certainly still a huge name in those ranks, and he desperately needs a new model. I bang on about a lot of my favourite armies and how I wish they would get new stuff a lot, of course, but I don’t think there’s anything within the realms of 40k right now that so desperately needs a new model like Abaddon does. What makes this worse is that GW have missed quite a few opportunities to do so, significantly when The Gathering Storm storyline came out nearly two years ago. He doesn’t necessarily need new rules, he just needs a new goddamn model! That finecast monstrosity just cannot be allowed to lead forces when you have models like Typhus and Ahriman running around. I would field a generic Chaos Terminator Lord before getting that bloody Abaddon model, it’s an affront to all that is amazing about Citadel miniatures right now.

I’ve talked about the time not being right for new Primarchs when I was rambling about the Codex release schedule, but I think now, as we look beyond the Genestealer Cults to the next phase of 40k releases, Abaddon should be top of the list for some new sculpting to be done. It is a very sincere hope that we will see him with a new release very soon, before we get any sniff of a further Primarch being released. He doesn’t even need to be a huge model; as a Chaos Lord who has always rebuffed the daemonic enhancements of Chaos, he’s just a regular space marine – albeit pretty huge anyway – so we don’t need anything quite so spectacular as Magnus or Mortarion.

Urgh!

Anyway, I think it’s definitely time I wrapped this thing up now. How are you all doing? Made it this far without skipping to the end? Well, you definitely deserve that biscuit, in that case!

In summary, I’m not a huge fan of bringing back any of the Primarchs just because they sell. If there’s a valid story reason for their return, then all 18 of them can come back, so far as I’m concerned! I do like the fact that they are models that can form the centrepiece of a collection, and so far each of them has been quite staggering in their own way. While I think they belong to the age of mythical heroes that is 30k, I still wouldn’t shout anybody down for wanting to include them in their army. My Marine armies are all Successor Chapters, so I don’t feel a particular need for “my” Primarch to come back (they’re actually Ultramarines Successors, and I still haven’t bought Guilliman yet!) but I do have a not-insignificant Deathwing army, and could see myself picking up Lion el’Jonson if and when he arrives. I suppose the look is a big factor for me, and if he has that Gothic, Catholic vibe to him then he’d fit right in with the First Company.

I did toy with the idea of getting Mortarion for all of the Death Guard marines that I’ve found myself with after the Dark Imperium box, but I’ve since decided not to go down that route and will be selling off my Plague Marines at some point. While I do still love the Rubric Marines, I actually have no desire to pick up Magnus as I just don’t love the model enough. Weird. The only Traitor Primarch I could see myself picking up would be Lorgar, as I think we would fit in well with the ideas I’ve recently been talking about for a Chaos Cultist army. But I suspect he might well be a very long way off…

Anyway, at 4000 words, it’s now time to stop typing, I think!

Dead Sky, Black Sun

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The third volume in the Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill, this one forms a direct sequel to both the previous installment, Warriors of Ultramar, as well as McNeill’s earlier novel, Storm of Iron.

While Uriel Ventris may have played a successful part in repelling the tyranids on the world of Tarsis Ultra, his unorthodox methods were not approved of by the larger Ultramarines Chapter, and so he and his sergeant Pasanius are exiled from the Chapter on a Blood Oath to destroy some daemonic engines that Chief Librarian Tigurius has seen in a vision. All of this is dealt with by the short story Consequences that precedes the main story proper, anyway.

Dead Sky, Black Sun sees Ventris and Pasanius on their way to discover just what this vision could have meant, when their ship is attacked in the Warp by the Omphalos Daemonium, a daemon engine we saw briefly in The Enemy of My Enemy, the short story I’d read following Storm of Iron. The daemon takes the Ultramarines to Medrengard, the homeworld of the Iron Warriors deep within the Eye of Terror, and tells them that the daemon engines they seek are to be found within the stronghold of Khalan-Ghol, but its purpose is hardly altruistic, as it tasks Ventris with retrieving the Heart of Blood from within the fortress – “you will know it when you see it”.

While Ventris of course has no intention of keeping a bargain with the daemon, he nevertheless uses all opportunities presented to him to help fulfill his Blood Oath. And so he and Pasanius begin their journey. Along the way, they meet up with Ardaric Vaanes and his Renegades, and attempt to infiltrate the fortress only to be caught by its lord, none other than the half-breed Honsou!

The Space Marines are given over to the Savage Morticians deep within the bowels of Honsou’s fortress, creatures I’d have expected to be more at home in Commorragh than here, but whatever. Ventris himself, for defying Honsou, is stitched inside the Daemonculaba, a horrific Warp-spawned engine/womb hybrid where the Iron Warriors seek to make more of their kind. Somehow, Ventris manages to escape his grisly fate, and along with significantly less renegades, escapes the Savage Morticians only to find themselves in the land of the Unfleshed – the failures of the Daemonculaba process. These horrific brutes at first fight the Space Marines, though their leader smells the Daemonculaba on Ventris and takes them in as kindred. Eurgh.

Together with the Unfleshed, the Marines storm the citadel once more, and all hell breaks loose when they release the daemon bound to its centre, the Heart of Blood. At this point, the Omphalos Daemonium shows up and there ensues a titanic battle between the two, with the Heart of Blood victorious. However, the Omphalos Daemonium’s daemonic engine is left behind, and Ventris, Pasanius and the remaining Unfleshed use it to flee from Khalan-Ghol. Honsou, barely surviving the attack on his fortress, teams up with Vaanes and a grisly by-product of Ventris’ time within the Daemonculaba – what appears to be a Chaos clone of the Ultramarine…


This is one hell of a grisly book!

I know it’s set within the Eye of Terror, so anything goes, but still! There is a lot of swimming through blood and body parts, and various mutant hybrids, and it’s all just really quite grim!

Maybe because of that, I found myself enduring this one rather than enjoying it, as I did with the previous two. I suppose the pared-down nature of the story, with just the two Marines rather than the whole company, didn’t really help there, though. I enjoyed the earlier Ultramarines novels because they showed how the Space Marines fit into the Imperium, and whatnot. There was a really quite nice sense of world-building in that regard there. Here, however, the story felt a little more small-scale, and while I suppose it offers a fascinating look into the worlds of Chaos and what the Iron Warriors get up to on their home turf, I just wasn’t feeling as into it as I had previously.

The way that the novel brings together the Iron Warriors and Ultramarines novel-universes, though, was really very good, and I’m glad I took the time to read Storm of Iron before getting back into this series.

Having briefly looked over the remaining three novels in this series, I find myself a bit dismayed to discover that the next two seem to be dealing with Ventris’ attempts to rejoin the Chapter, as I’d hoped for more general Ultramarines action. It’s not to say Ventris isn’t an interesting character, or that his arc is not worth reading – I think I just prefer to see Space Marines fighting on the larger scale.

But I guess we’ll just have to see!

War of Secrets

Finished the third of the Space Marine Conquests series this morning, and while I think it was probably the best of the three we’ve had so far, I’m still not entirely sure I like these new breed of Space Marines in the lore.

War of Secrets deals with the Dark Angels, and so we have the usual round of secrets within secrets. It’s actually quite a straightforward story in that regard – the Dark Angels chasing down one of their Unforgiven. The new Primaris are a part of the chase, though of course they aren’t trusted and so don’t fully know what’s going on. So we have a lot of angry marines on both sides, the Primaris for being kept in the dark, the “regular” chaps due to what they see as Guilliman’s spies in their ranks.

Layered on top of this, we have a T’au storyline that involves Shas’O Kais, one of the three star pupils of the legendary Puretide. Kais, heretofore merely a Codex background character, is held in stasis due to the fact that he is an unpredictable ‘living weapon’. However, a conspiracy is launched with Tutor Twiceblade, another of the legendary tutors of T’au society, to launch him again into the front lines.

The stories converge over the planet of Saltire Vex, which has come under some kind of psyker plague, possibly as a result of the presence of the Unforgiven marine (that’s my inference, anyway!). The action follows the twists and turns of both factions, with some decent action scenes throughout, particularly near the end as we see a Ghostkeel battlesuit put through its paces. The T’au side of things was probably the most interesting to me, possibly due to my recent interest in building an army of the blighters, but Kelly is well known for his T’au writing at this point, so it’s probably no surprise there.

While the story was definitely a lot better than the last installment for me, I suppose that was due to the fact I’m a lot less interested in Space Wolves than Dark Angels (and, especially, T’au). But even so, we’re back into this mix of Primaris vs non-Primaris stuff that started off in the first book, though given the First’s penchant for secrecy, the friction is a lot more pronounced here. The way the storyline is concluded, however, did slightly annoy me – I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers in this, but suffice it to say, it felt like too convenient a finale, somehow.

At any rate, I’m sticking with the series, in the hope we might see some really intriguing aspects of the new 40k universe. The fourth book in the series has just gone up for pre-order this weekend, and features the Ultramarines in “a mission of vital importance” to the Indomitus Crusade – interesting, as I thought that was over already. Sounds a bit vague, but I suppose we’ll see! I’m hoping we might see the series move beyond the First Founding chapters, but I suppose I’d rather have a shorter series that just takes us through these than an unnecessarily long series that shambles through the thousands of chapters one by one…

Ashes of Prospero

I’ve recently finished reading the second book in the Space Marine Conquests series, Ashes of Prospero, so thought I’d ramble on here for a bit about some of my thoughts!

Similarly to the first volume in the series, this one takes its focus on a single Space Marine chapter, the Space Wolves, and tells the story of why it’s acceptable to include Primaris Marines in your army if you were on the fence. Well, it’s a little more than just that, but anyway. The story follows Njal Stormcaller as he attempts to relieve himself of a psychic stowaway in his brain, a Thousand Sons sorcerer who was stuck inside the Portal Maze during the razing of Prospero back when Leman Russ was sent to censure Magnus. Njal hopes that he can also liberate members of the 13th Company of Space Wolves who were likewise trapped, and so leads an expedition to the Thousand Sons’ homeworld.

Spoiler Alert: Njal succeeds in battling through the Maze and ridding himself of the psychic presence of Izzakar, and manages to pick up about 200 space marines of the Heresy era, along with all of their attendant tech. Interesting. I’ve read of people speculating this means the Space Wolf codex will include rules for Spartans and Mastodons, but I highly doubt that.

Anyway!

The book felt unnecessarily long, and as with pretty much anything that involves the Space Wolves, includes so many over-the-top Viking references that it feels more like a parody of Space Vikings than an actual serious space marine fighting force. Everything is wolf-this and wolf-that, with faux-Norwegian peppered throughout to give it that rime of hoarfrost that we’ve come to expect. It’s not a long book, but because the action feels so drawn-out, it does feel like a chore to get through.

But that could just be because I’m not a Space Wolves fan!

The good parts were few and far between, but I did like the in-depth look at the launch of the taskforce, as we see the efforts the Navigators go through to enter the Warp. It’s also been a nice sequence so far, with the novels focusing on chapters and their classic enemies: Blood Angels vs Tyranids, and now Space Wolves vs Thousand Sons. The third book has apparently been recently released, and sees the Dark Angels go up against the T’au, so that was a bit of a novelty for me, but even so, it all feels quite thematic.

While I don’t feel that this novel did much to advance the timeline as the first book did, it’s probably worth picking up just to see the little bits and pieces of the 8th edition story come together. Then you can probably pass it along to a charity shop or something…

The Devastation of Baal

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Well folks, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally made it to the end of this book! That’s not to say that I wasn’t enjoying my time on the Blood Angels’ homeworld during a Tyranid attack – the book is actually really good, with some tremendous action scenes, as well as being quite thought-provoking.

I think the main reason I found this heavy-going at times was just how arduous those action scenes can be. We get about 200 pages of space marines fighting Tyranids, and it did become a bit much after a while. There is enough peppered throughout to keep interest, don’t get me wrong, but I just found it difficult to want to return to that melee day after day.

Another reason why I found this to be quite heavy-going is the simple fact that I’m not that big of a Blood Angels fan. For sure, I enjoy the sons of Sanguinius as much as any other casual space marine fan, but I’m not overly interested in them to the exclusion of all else. And I think this is a major point for this book – if you’re a Blood Angels fan, you’ll absolutely love it. There’s nothing but wall-to-wall red armour where everything is named something to do with blood. We get a lot of Commander Dante, and learn what it’s like to be the oldest-living space marine of the Imperium.

So, the story is basically the attack on Baal from Hive Fleet Leviathan, in what often feels like a follow-up to the Shield of Baal series from 2014. Oddly, though, while it does feel like a follow-up, a lot of what is referenced comes from the campaign books, and not another novel, which just feels a little disjointed to me! Anyway, after a long preamble where the various successor chapters of the Blood Angels gather to accept Dante’s leadership, the Shadow in the Warp descends and the Tyranids begin their attack. After a gruelling battle, where Baal and its moons is basically devastated (well, it’s in the title…) the xenos are beaten back and Guilliman shows up with loads of new Primaris Space Marines.

A lot of people have already been talking about how Guilliman saves the day yet again, and have voiced their complaints that the novel falls down because of the over-use of this device. However, I have to say that I don’t really share this view. True, the Tyranid attack stops and the Indomitus Crusade shows up, but it doesn’t truly feel like Guilliman actually defeats them. Dante and his combined Blood Angels forces do the vast majority of the fighting, and Guilliman himself actually ascribes the victory to Dante. Instead, Guilliman really only shows up for the clean-up. The main turning point comes when Cadia falls, light-years from Baal, and the Cicatrix Maledictum basically destroys the Hive Mind’s synapse long enough for the Tyranids to actually be beaten back.

Leaving entire chapters-worth of Primaris marines behind does feel a bit like a forced ending, of course, as we essentially have the Blood Angels updated for 8th Edition. Now you too can field countless droves of Primaris marines in your Blood Angels army, because Guy Haley told you it’s what happens! Seriously, it’s not the worst way of bringing this development into canon. There is an interesting scene near the end between Dante and Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers, where Seth calls the Primaris replacements for the marines, and their lack of the genetic flaws of the Blood Angels means that, while they may wear the colours, they will never be true sons of Sanguinius. Which is an interesting way of looking at things, to be sure.

Dante’s reaction is similarly thought-provoking, as he seems to have a bit of an epiphany whereby his attempts to preserve the Chapter almost cause Baal to be lost to the xenos. It makes the reader question whether space marines are too caught-up in their own past glories, and whether they really are willing to lay down their lives in service of preserving the Imperium. It’s a subtle point, but I really found it intriguing.

Of course, fans have been endlessly discussing the scene between Dante and Seth, and whether there will be a civil war between the old marines and the new. While we’ve been seeing fractures already like this, I don’t think GW is going to go down this route too much, as I can see it causing further problems with the integration of the product line. People already hate them, it seems, so why encourage that divide? Doubtless, it would be interesting, but I don’t foresee anything too much just now.

Anyway, overall this was a good book, and fans of the Blood Angels will of course love it more than anyone!