January Retrospective

Hey everybody,
January has come and gone, and just like that, 2021 is under way. With the world as it is right now, I thought it’d be nice to have a little retrospective blog at the end of each month, highlighting the things that I have been up to, serving to remind myself (if nobody else) that it is still possible to do cool stuff!

To start with, I’ve done quite a bit of painting this month, between the Dark Eldar Incubi (above), and making a fantastic start with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, my new army for 2021! I’m chronicling the army progress separately of course, and will continue to do so as I get deeper into both the lore and the models! I’m currently working to finish off the Mortek Guard, both to get the basic scheme sorted and because troops can sometimes feel like a chore to get through! Contrast paints have been a real boon here, though, so I’m hoping that I can sail through things fairly quickly.

I’ve already been buying reinforcements, which I should probably try to control myself with, but I do find it hard to do so when I’m so excited for a project!

For 40k, I’ve been thinking back to my Dark Eldar days, especially since we have a codex on the horizon, so that will hopefully be good to get hold of! I’m wanting to get more variety in my lists, so I definitely want to get more wych cult models painted up – I’ve been thinking about this for a while of course, but it’s a definite goal for 2021. Fantasy has certainly come back to the fore for me, though, as I talked about last week, although I’m not sure if I could get as many games in with AoS when everything returns to normal. I guess we’ll have to see!

Warcry has come back on my radar, although it had never really left if I’m honest. Still having only played it once, I’m just in love with the aesthetic of the game, and the feel of the whole thing. I’m not all that interested in the plethora of warbands that have come out for it, but I do have my sights set on getting hold of more of the regular Chaos stuff – including, of course, the new Slaanesh stuff that will hopefully be out soon! I’m not going to go crazy with that, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on some of the Slaanesh mortal stuff for use in Warcry.

From games that I’m not playing to games that I have played, now. This month, I’ve managed to get in some games with both Arkham Horror LCG, and the third edition of the board game that I had for Christmas! Blogs on both events are coming, but let me tell you, the new edition of Arkham Horror is quite good. As for the card game, I’ve started The Circle Undone, and I’m really impressed. It leans heavily on witchcraft and the supernatural, something that doesn’t seem to be as associated with Lovecraft as the cosmic horror, but it’s an absolute delight, and while I’m only on the first mythos pack of the cycle, I’m very impressed! Come back this week for more thoughts there, anyway!

Let’s talk about a different type of witch now…

Disney+ has launched their first MCU tv-series this month, WandaVision, featuring of course Scarlet Witch and Vision. I’d almost forgotten about this, but had been getting increasingly intrigued when friends and fellow bloggers started to talk more about it. I do like Scarlet Witch, as well – House of M is still one of my favourite comic lines – so I’m intrigued by it. I’ve only seen the first episode, but it’s definitely got something going on under the surface there to make us think just what on earth is this all about. It’s a delightful Bewitched-style 1950s American sitcom, on the surface, until the dinner party near the end has us asking deeper questions as to what’s going on. I have no real theories yet, as it’s all a bit too early to say for me, but head here to check out a more detailed discussion!

From television to books, finally! In January, I read the first Darth Bane novel, Path of Destruction. The book, now Legends of course, deals with the early years of the Sith Lord, as he moves from a life of hard labour, through his military service on the side of the Sith in their war against the Jedi, to his awakening in the Force and learning to use his power at the academy on Korriban. The novel ends with the climactic battle of Ruusan, which I’m fairly sure is dealt with in the comic miniseries Jedi vs Sith.

I was disappointed with this book. I’m in a Facebook group where people have given high praise to this trilogy, but I can’t see what all the fuss is about. Putting aside the fact that Darth Bane’s birth name is Des, I think the book fell into the same trap as Tim Zahn’s new canon Thrawn trilogy, showing us an evil genius when he’s at school. There were strong echoes of Kevin J Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy as well, which felt a bit banal. The whole thing just seemed so silly, somehow. Set against the backdrop of the war, I thought the best parts were definitely those that showed us the fighting there, although even that got a bit ridiculous after a bit.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that the book didn’t seem to take great pains to distance itself, temporally, from the main movie periods. It takes place a thousand years before A New Hope, yet the tech feels, at best, similar to Phantom Menace era. No effort is really made to do anything more, which is quite sad, really. At least the Tales of the Jedi comic books actually felt like they had ancient tech in comparison!

What I did like was the way the book had me guessing throughout. Bane’s relationship with his fellow student Githany led me to wonder if she would become his famous apprentice, Darth Zannah, but suffice it to say – she doesn’t!

Bane is a big part of Star Wars, created by Lucas during production of Phantom Menace, and while I didn’t exactly enjoy the first book in this trilogy, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and carry on with Rule of Two soon, as I’m really intrigued as to where the story is headed next!

For now, however, I’ve moved back to 40k for something completely different:

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
Well, here we are, at the end of the Legacy run! After the initial 50-issue ongoing series came to an end in August 2010, there was a short gap before the six-issue miniseries War picked up the tale to draw things to a close. Interestingly, the same thing happened to the Knights of the Old Republic ongoing series, which ran pretty much concurrently with Legacy throughout, and was wrapped up by its own War miniseries. But that will be a subject for another blog!

Volume Eleven: War

Darth Krayt has returned! He travels to Coruscant to confront Darth Wyyrlock, and kills him in single combat, taking back control of the Empire to lead a new crusade against the galaxy. Antares Draco, held captive on Korriban, has eventually broken under the torture of Darth Havok, and divulged the location of the hidden Jedi temple on Taivas.

The Sith plot to destroy the Jedi once and for all, and send a combined task force under Darth Stryfe, while also dispatching Darth Nihl at the head of his secret Sith Dragon ships. However, the Jedi launched a defense alongside Gar Stazi and the Fel Empire. Just when the Alliance seemed to come through victorious, the Dragon ships appear and turn the tide, but the tide turns again when several Sith Imperial ships, including Moff Yage, defect back to Roan Fel’s side.

Fearing an assault on Bastion, Fel decides to lead an assault directly on Coruscant. It turns out that Darth Maladi had been captured, and was working with Fel to create a biological weapon designed to attack the Sith. A strike team, led by Cade Skywalker, sabotage the orbital defense network to allow the fleet to arrive in-system. Cade then infiltrated the Sith temple to confront Krayt. During the duel, Cade witnessed Krayt’s vision for the future: Darth Maladi’s toxin is actually designed to kill everyone except the Sith. Seeing this vision, Cade finally knows his place in the galaxy and kills Krayt, declaring himself to be a Jedi.

However, feeling Krayt’s spirit in the back of his mind, Cade knew that the Sith Lord would be able to heal himself once more, and so determines to fly a ship into Coruscant’s sun, destroying them both. However, the spirit of Luke appears to him once more, and urges him to trust in his friends. He ejects, and Jariah Syn picks him up while Krayt’s body is incinerated in the sun.

And with that, the Legacy series comes to an end!

This was a pretty action-packed ending to the series, bringing everything together into a nice (too nice?) package. I’ve glossed over a lot of details here, of course, but there is a lot going on in this book, although I think it succeeds in not feeling too rushed. The book covers a lot of space battle over the hidden temple, living up to the title at least! It’s pretty epic, and I think we could perhaps have seen more of these types of all-out battles throughout the main series.

Cade goes through a bit of a metamorphosis in this one, as well. His creepy leer still pops up of course, but he does become more noble, somehow – I think the death of Bantha Rawk during the assault on the hidden temple has a lot to do with that, but he does give up with his “I don’t want anyone to die for me” to some extent. I talked about the whole Grey Jedi thing in my previous blog, and this miniseries does go some way to mitigate that, by making him follow the Jedi path more consciously, and walking in the Light, etc. I do appreciate the fact that his character has “resolved”, therefore!

Darth Krayt is something of a problematic character for me, though, although I suppose it has been explained to some degree why he has done what he has done. Some of his outbursts, about making the galaxy suffer, and so on, do seem to be a bit inconsistent with the Jedi Master who fought during the Clone Wars, but we learnt that a lot of his world view was shaped by Vergere in the embrace of pain. I guess I compare it a bit with Jacen Solo in the Legacy of the Force novels, and while Jacen’s descent into Darth Caedus was maybe unexpected, it was handled so well by the authors of that series that he never felt like the pantomime villain that Krayt sometimes is.

I should probably re-read the LotF novels at some point – maybe next year!

I’m glad I’ve re-read the series, and have actually read it through to conclusion, because some of the later arcs I don’t think I read back in the day! While some of my affection for this series was probably borne from nostalgia, along with a fair dose of it being so novel when it was first published. Now, though, even given the fact that it’s a Legends series so these things don’t really matter, I do feel that it falls short of the mark, in the main due to the fact I hate the main protagonist!!

But let’s end this on a high – seeing the fallout of the Yuuzhan Vong war was cool, and some aspects of the series, such as the Hidden Temple of the Jedi, were great!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re on the home strait with the Legacy series now! There has been a lot of nostalgia for me in re-reading these comics, but at the same time, it has felt like a bit of a slog, as I’ve not really enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. But we’re getting there, so let’s crack on!

Volume Nine: Monster

This is a very intriguing storyline. Rav shows up again, and offers his erstwhile pirates an offer they can’t refuse. They head to Wayland, one of the first sites of the Ossus Project, and the site where that project first showed signs of failure, but it turns into a trap. We learn (finally!) that the Ossus Project was sabotaged by Zenoc Quah, a Yuuzhan Vong Shaper who believed surrender to be a betrayal. He collaborated with Darth Maladi to sabotage the Project, which led to the Sith-Imperial War that saw the end of the Jedi all the way back in volume one.

Quah captures Deliah Blue and puts her in the embrace of pain, and together with Maladi, they attempt to lure Cade into a trap. Maladi does not trust Wyyrlok, and has sent Darth Nihl to Korriban to see if Darth Krayt is still alive; meanwhile, she is developing a bio-weapon that will keep the rest of the Sith in check, but needs to test it on a Dark Side user, and Cade is a perfect test subject. However, Cade is able to fight his way through, and Jariah Syn kills Zenoc Quah with an amphistaff that he has mastered. Maladi escapes in the chaos, detonating her laboratory, while Cade is able to free Deliah and, using the Light Side for the first time to do so, heals her in the Force.

Meanwhile, the Jedi and the Fel Empire attempt to broker a treaty on Agamar, but word is leaked to the Sith and they attack en masse, capturing Princess Marasiah and taking her to Korriban.

Star Wars Legacy

The storyline for this one was really good, I thought, as it delved a lot into the post-war landscape. We learn much more about the Ossus Project, too, which is something that I’d been wanting for most of the series up to this point! I think the blending of Yuuzhan Vong with the rest of the galaxy works well to provide that sense of distance that makes the Legacy comics feel apart from the New Republic era stories. There is that patois the Mynock crew (and others) use, which feels at times like the attempts to blend in Chinese with English in the Firefly series, but there is very little to otherwise distinguish the era from that of the height of the Empire. Seeing the devastation wrought by the Yuuzhan Vong, who apparently conquered and terraformed millions of worlds, is a nice attempt to give that distance.

Volume Ten: Extremes

The series comes to an end with the three-part Extremes arc! All hell breaks loose here, as the storyline attempts to live up to its name. Cade and his crew are on the trail of the Sith scientist Vul Isen, as they try to track down “the Butcher of Dac” and hold him accountable for his crimes. They travel to Daluuj, but are ambushed by a group of Sith who are clearly waiting for them – but Cade is able to easily escape the trap. Isen had maintained a laboratory there, which they destroy, but the trail goes cold until the Hutts – mainly fan-favourite Queen Jool – inform Cade they have lured Isen to Utapau.

It’s nice to see movie locations revisited like this, though sometimes they appear to be carbon-copied from the movies, as if time has stood still. That feels like the case here, sadly, and even the port administrator of Pau City recalls the previous holder of that title from Revenge of the Sith!

So Vul Isen is attempting to poison the world and kill Gar Stazi, who is currently based on the planet, but Cade thwarts the scientist’s plan with the help of his old master, Wolf Sazen. Additionally, Antares Draco leads a strike force to Korriban in an effort to rescue Marasiah from the hands of Darth Havok, and he learns that Havok is none other than Eshkar Niin, a former Imperial Knight who killed the wife of Roan Fel as part of his fall to the Dark Side. Part of me feels that this would have had more impact if the Fel Empire had had more exposure than it had, but I feel that throughout the series, it has always been in the background, with little development overall. Meanwhile, still on Korriban, Darth Nihl arrives to discover that Darth Talon is guarding an empty stasis chamber – Darth Krayt has disappeared! Nihl pursues Talon into the Valley of the Sith, where they both discover the resurrected Krayt, who sends out a psychic message to all Sith to inform them that he has returned…

The arc ends with Cade having a disturbing vision of the future: Darth Krayt reborn, then nothing.

Star Wars Legacy

Phew!

It’s a series that I remember enjoying a lot, back in 2008-2009 when I was initially reading them, but one that has now somehow felt much less so. I think I’ve possibly come to expect more from my Star Wars, of course, but a lot of the core storyline that follows Cade just feels really bad, like Ostrander and Duursema wanted to write about pirates and bounty hunters, but also wanted to involve the Jedi. I think if this had been a series about Cade purely as a bounty hunter, it could have worked much better. Maybe he’s angry and bitter because the Force has passed him over, despite being the heir to such a strong Skywalker tradition, and so on?

Grey Jedi are of course a thing at this time in Star Wars publishing, and I suppose that was the thing they were going for. It’s an interesting spin, but the execution tends far too much towards the frat boy jerk that I find myself cringing so much throughout.

The Imperial intrigue, around Nyna Calixte and Morlish Veed, was quite interesting for a time, and seeing the completely different take on the Empire under Roan Fel was quite refreshing. The Imperial Knights are an interesting blend of the Royal Guard and the Jedi, with a martial tradition of their own, and I think it could have been developed more if we weren’t always being treated to the soap opera of Antares Draco and Marasiah Fel!

The wider galaxy did seem to go unexplored, however, and I am quite sad about that fact. We visit plenty of worlds, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the story is told from the galactic fringe, and part of me would have liked to have seen more of what the galaxy was like prior to the Sith-Imperial War. Of course, I guess a lot of this is left unexplored simply to allow room for further storytelling, as no doubt the writers couldn’t show something to be true, only to paint other authors into a corner if they chose to follow up the Legacy of the Force series, for instance. Instead, we get the vague “Galactic Alliance” that was almost entirely wiped out at the start of the war, leaving Gar Stazi as the sole representative of the former New Republic. The main interest seems to come from the split Sith Empire and the Fel Empire, and Cade’s group, with occasional help from the Jedi remnant. It feels somewhat lacking – much like The Force Awakens, we take a leap forward in time and have very little context to hang the story on.

So there we have it, ten trade paperbacks later, the Legacy series is at an end! For now, at least. Following the initial 50-issue run, there was a four month break before the six-part Legacy: War miniseries capped things off from December 2010. But that’s for another blog!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
I’m getting close to the end of the Legacy series now! I’ve made it into the final third now, which to me form something of the nadir of the series. Let me explain…

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Seven: Storms

The seventh volume is comprised of a couple of two-parters, which takes us back into the wider galaxy with Fight Another Day, where we follow the Sith extermination of the Mon Calamari people. Fighting alongside the Mon Calamari Rangers is the Imperial Knight, Treis Sinde, who is recalled by Roan Fel but decides to go against his orders and help the Mon Cal people, especially when it is discovered that the Sith have unleashed a creature of legend, the Sith Leviathan, upon the world. I’m not a big fan of the artwork in these issues, although it does take me back to some of the Republic / Clone Wars era comics, which I seem to remember were enjoyable back in the day!

Of course, I thought the same about the Legacy series, and so far I’ve not been all that favourable this time around!!

The next two-parter is the eponymous Storms storyline, where Cade and co travel to Kiffu, where he hopes his uncle Bantha Rawk can help with healing Azlyn. Cade goes off the rails in this one, and the whole storyline is a bit bonkers if I’m honest. He tells Bantha and Droo that Azlyn wants to survive, despite the fact she has made her peace with death, and alienates Droo by putting his desire above that of the patient. He and Jariah Syn then go into town and get into a drunken brawl, and he comes very close to killing his own cousin, who is working for the local law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Darth Wyyrlock assumes control of the Empire as the mouthpiece of Darth Krayt, and bestows the title of regent on Morlish Veed, although Nyna Calixte is suspicious of the Sith’s motives, fearing that Veed will become the face of the Sith atrocities throughout the galaxy.

If ever there was a storyline to make me hate Cade, this is it. He drifts so far from the path of the Jedi it’s unreal, and he becomes such a reprehensible human being that it’s now hard to feel anything except distaste. He’s always had the look of the douchebag about him, but his scumbag leers are really just too much this time, when coupled with what he actually gets up to. I thought the Ossus storyline was supposed to see him hit rock bottom, then pick himself up again, but here he’s just an absolute dick.

Volume Eight: Tatooine

Cade & Co have started pirating Black Sun, who are themselves pirating the Empire’s supply lines. You know, as you do. Realising that he’s still public enemy number one, Cade goes to ground on Tatooine, though he is pursued by Anzati bounty hunters working for Black Sun. Nyna Calixte sends her daughter Gunner Yage to bring Skywalker in, going herself as Morrigan Corde once more. Turns out the Imperial Moff on planet is as corrupt as any Moff based on Tatooine, and was working with Black Sun to profit from letting Imperial shipments fall into criminal hands.

This one should have been a much more enjoyable storyline, as we get to visit a classic movie location – Cade even holes up from a sandstorm at the Lars Homestead – but it is once more a bit of a let-down, as Cade continues to prove that he’s the galaxy’s cheapest skank. The scumbag leers abound, and his seeming efforts to flirt with his half-sister are just cringeworthy.

Star Wars Legacy

Somewhere in here, though, there is a storyline that was fairly decent. The war profiteering by Moff Nieve Gromia was a nice mirror to the old days with Prefect Talmont. I can’t recall if I mentioned this in previous books, but I find it quite interesting that Black Sun is still a going concern in the Legacy era – criminal empires that long-lived would strike me as being a rarity?

At any rate, we’re approaching the end now, and hopefully we’ll see things pick up as we reach the finale! I’m pretty sure, when I first read this series, I didn’t get further than the Tatooine arc, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all ends!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re back with the great re-read of the Star Wars Legacy series!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Six: Vector

The Vector storyline was a year-long event in Star Wars comics publishing, back in 2008, where each of the four ongoing storylines – Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Times, Rebellion, and Legacy – would be touched by an ongoing crossover event. Given that more than 4000 years separates these lines, in-universe, that was quite the prospect at the start! However, it was effected really well, with the Jedi Celeste Morne being kept in stasis following the initial four-part storyline in KotOR, and being awoken by Darth Vader thousands of years later.

By the time we get to the Legacy part of the story, Morne has a star destroyer full of rakghouls floating in deep space, where Cade and his crew come across her and hatch a plan to use the rakghouls and the Muur talisman to destroy Darth Krayt and the One Sith. They travel to Had Abbadon, where Krayt and his inner circle find them and do battle. Roan Fel, hearing of the talisman, sends his Imperial Knights to collect it, thinking he can use an army of rakghouls to defeat the Sith and reclaim his throne.

Azlyn Rae manages to land the killing blow on Krayt, and his body is Force-pushed off a cliff, however she herself is mortally wounded. Karness Muur is disappointed that Krayt has been taken out of the picture, but he senses the darkness within Cade and attempts to bond his spirit with Skywalker’s. Cade, however, uses his Force power to shatter the talisman, destroying Muur for good.

The storyline concludes with Darth Wyyrlock collecting the body of Darth Krayt, only to discover that he is clinging to life – and so he uses Force-lightning to finish him off.

Dun dun dun!

Star Wars Legacy

It’s a strange one, this, because it forms something of an end-of-act storyline for the Legacy series, as well as the finale to the Vector storyline, but it does so quite well, if I’m honest. Putting aside the strangeness that we see from having a Jedi from the Old Republic era surviving for so long, and the whole thing with Roan Fel thinking it would be okay to unleash the power of the Dark Side on the galaxy if it gets his throne back (to say nothing of Antares Draco’s thoughts on getting the talisman as a way to get Marasiah into bed), the story was interesting in bringing together a lot of the major players once again. Definitely felt like an “event” storyline!

I still find myself bored by Cade forever coming across as a bad-boy type while also having these noble ideas of killing off Krayt and removing the threat of the Sith from the galaxy. It almost cheapens that threat, really, if they can be taken out by a Jedi drop-out like Cade. Remember, this is the Sith that removed the entire Jedi Order that had been rebuilt by this point. It just doesn’t ring true and I find myself having to really suspend that sense of disbelief that is normally pretty strung out with Star Wars, anyway!

Post 999!

Hey everybody!
It’s my 999th post on this blog! What an incredible milestone! I honestly didn’t give things much thought back when I started this endeavour back in 2014, but I suppose as time has gone on, I suppose it’s been quite exciting to see the blog growing – even if it is with my inane babble! As we gear up for post number 1000, which is already written and scheduled to go live tomorrow, I thought I’d have a bit of a catch-up blog with you all, and dip into some of the stuff that has been going on in recent weeks!

Curtain Call

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of Arkham Horror LCG, and enjoying myself immensely. Back when I first played the game upon release, I definitely knew that I enjoyed the game, but always seemed to struggle to get round to actually playing it. It wasn’t until last year, almost three years after the initial release, that I got round to actually trying out a full campaign.

Now, however, I’m firmly entrenched in the whole thing, having really revitalized my enjoyment of the game and throwing myself in whole-heartedly! I’ve made my way through two full campaigns now, and I’m poised to start on a third over the festive season, tackling The Circle Undone with Diana Stanley and Joe Diamond. Having sleeved the cards for this cycle, it’s been exciting to see that this one focuses more on the classic trope of regular cultists trying to bring about the end of the world, rather than fantastical creatures and the like. I’ve been recording my games here on the blog, and I’ve set up a page specifically to collect these posts together. I’m sure I’ll be trying out some campaigns multiple times, too, but I want to try out all the game has to offer me, and make up for lost time!

Interestingly, all of this Arkham Horror LCG has got me thinking about trying my other great card-game love, Lord of the Rings LCG. It’s been a long time since I have last played this game, I think I tried my hand in one of the early scenarios in the summer-time, but playing this game has really dropped off my radar in recent years. It’s interesting, of course, because I still really love it, and I still call it my all-time favourite card game. I suppose part of the reason for me having stepped back a bit from it resides in the fact there is just so much of it now. The game wound up a few months ago, after the last cycle took an absolute age to actually see all six packs released – in total, we have nine full cycles, eight deluxe Saga expansions, and about a dozen standalone scenarios. It’s quite mind-boggling, really, and the player cards have become quite the beast to wrangle!

Earlier this week, as it happens, I spent a sleepless night looking through my collection once more, and reliving some past memories as well as tinkering a little with my favourite Rohan deck. The whole thing was brought about because I wanted to re-sleeve some of the cards, requiring the transparent sleeves for Arkham Horror as it happens, but it really took me on that journey down memory lane, to the time when I would excitedly play each pack in the Mirkwood cycle as it was released – spending yet another sleepless night back in, what, 2011, playing The Dead Marshes. Ah, memories!

I’ve currently got four decks built up and ready for the game – the Rohan deck, a Dwarf deck, an Elf deck, and more of a generic/mix that uses a number of Dúnedain and Outlands cards. Going over these (and re-sleeving them), and sorting out a lot of the later packs from Harad, Rhovanion and Mordor, has got me thinking how I’ve never really ventured very far into this game, always returning to Mirkwood and the Dwarrowdelf, without really exploring any of the cycles from Ringmaker onwards, really! Looking back, I got as far as The Dunland Trap from that cycle (the game’s fourth, just fyi!) while playing what I would call regularly, back in 2015, and have pretty much given up, since! Sporadic plays of a scenario from Angmar and Harad notwithstanding, I’ve pretty much let the bulk of this game pass me by, whilst still compulsively collecting it!

Well, hopefully that will change soon!

Lord of the Rings LCG

I’ve got my eye on playing some of the newer quests, potentially with that Dúnedain deck, or else with the re-tuned Rohan deck, over the festive period (although probably more like the new year weekend). I’ve even been considering building up an entirely new deck, using the newer player cards to build around the Dale theme. I’ve got my eye on trying maybe The Lost Realm, or else Vengeance of Mordor as that has struck me as a very intriguing cycle. I’ve heard so many good things about the Ered Mithrin cycle, though, so that is also a strong contender. Of course, I playtested on the Angmar Awakened cycle, but I think I came into the game after the playtesting for the deluxe expansion had finished. I have lots of bad memories of never being able to escape from the dungeons, but it’ll be nice to actually play the game in its finished form, with artwork and not the badly-formatted black-and-white printouts that were sleeved on top of other cards!

So that’ll be something good to look forward to!

What else has been going on?

Well, I’m quite excited to say that I’ve pretty much finished my first major terrain piece! I mean, I’ve painted up some ammo crates before, but I’m quite excited for this one! The Sector Mechanicus stuff is really nice, and I have rather a lot of it after all, but I think after the game of Necromunda the other week has got me thinking more about terrain and whatnot, so I think it’ll be nice to have some done. I’ve been working on a Galvanic Magnavent lately, building it up to reflect the back of the box rather than the “standard” build from the front (I’m pretty sure I did that with another piece, too…) so I think when I have these big pieces painted up they’ll look really good out on the table!

Let’s talk about Necromunda though, as it’s something I’m hoping to try out again over the festive break (first Lord of the Rings, more Arkham Horror, and now this?! Where will I find the time…) I’ve been reading up the rules for scenery from the Book of Peril, and I’m quite excited by just how interactive the battlefield can get! So it should be really interesting to see how all of that works (although it might not be something that I get to straight away, as there are a lot of moving parts in this game, after all!)

It’s not all about the scenery though, as I’ve also been building up some more Van Saar folks as the excitement around House of Artifice increases! My current leader comes in at a whopping 310 credits – I know Van Saar are expensive, but that’s a third of the starting gang, so I needed to slim them down a bit. This chap, above, is a much more respectable 245, which means I can actually fit in another body, between trimming down the leader and champion options. I think that game I linked to earlier definitely showed just how much the advantage of numbers can go in your favour – and expensive gangers are of no use to anybody if they’re Prone and Pinned!

Finally…

We need to talk about this. I don’t think I’ve properly recovered yet, of course! But 10 new Star Wars series’ is just phenomenal! The Mandalorian is showing that Star Wars can absolutely have a future on the small screen, and I am so excited to see what they’re going to do with it all. I probably need to confine my thoughts on this to a separate piece, but suffice it to say, I’m really happy with what’s going on there right now!

So, folks, that’s almost a thousand posts finished! Come back tomorrow to celebrate my birthday with Post 1000 itself – I think it’ll be a good one!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
The great Legacy read-through continues!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Four: Alliance
After the dramatic events of the previous book, we have a swift change of pace now as we look to the wider galaxy, and catch up with what’s happening with Admiral Gar Stazi of the Galactic Alliance. The Empire attempts to trap Stazi by presenting him with an irresistible target, a new Star Destroyer being built at the Mon Calamari shipyards, the Indomitable. Stazi doesn’t disappoint, and the Empire think they have him in their clutches only to have the tide turned on them, and the Alliance makes off with the ship. In retribution, Darth Krayt personally initiates the mass-genocide of the Mon Calamari people. Stazi decides it might be time to once again pursue an alliance with Roan Fel.

There is also a one-shot issue that follows Darth Wyrlock as he attempts to find answers from the holocron of Darth Andeddu to help him deal with his master Darth Krayt’s impending doom.

To begin, I just want to say that the artwork in this volume is not my cup of tea. At times it was far too cartoon-y and stuff, and I really didn’t appreciate it overall. In addition, I wasn’t a huge fan of the storyline – I can remember reading this one back in the day and enjoying the fact that we were getting to see what was happening in the wider galaxy. I found there to be several missing links in the history that I wanted to see resolved, but now I found that I was just getting confused by things. There are a lot of flashbacks to the earlier war between the Galactic Alliance and the Empire, but nothing seemed to be really explained, which left me with a sense that the war was simply there as a device to have the galaxy in the state that it currently is. I can’t remember if there is any more detail to come, but I am a little deflated at this point in the timeline, trying to work out what on earth the backdrop to these events was supposed to be!

Volume Five: The Hidden Temple
We’re back to Cade and Co for the fifth volume in the series, as we catch up with the crew of the Mynock after their escape from the Sith Temple on Coruscant. Deciding to lie low for a while, they head to the moons of Iego and Cade’s uncle, Bantha Rawk, formerly Jedi Master Nat Skywalker. Bantha has left the order following the Ossus Massacre, and has established a life for himself with his family. When they arrive, however, Black Sun have been attacking the retreat and the Mynock is instrumental in fighting them off. It turns out that there is a bounty on Cade’s head and a lot of people have been looking for his known haunts to see if they can get ahead of him. Unbeknownst to everyone, however, someone else has arrived at Rawk’s Nest, Cade’s former fellow Jedi apprentice, Azlyn Rae. When the Empire turns up looking for Cade, the crew of the Mynock realises that this isn’t safe, so Bantha agrees to lead them to the Hidden Temple of the Jedi to see if they can help.

However, Azlyn is serving new masters these days, and helps to lead the Imperial Knights to the Temple in an attempt to broker an alliance between the Jedi and Roan Fel. Cade further expounds his plan to assassinate Darth Krayt, in the hope that the One Sith will fall in on themselves and eliminate that threat. The Imperial Knights feel this could well work in their favour, also, as it would allow Fel to reclaim the throne. Princess Marasiah stays behind at the Jedi Temple while Antares Draco and Azlyn Rae accompany Cade and his crew to the deep core, with Shado Vao also coming along to keep an eye on Cade.

After the previous volume, it felt good to be back to what seems to be the main storyline, seeing Cade, Jariah and Deliah going off on their adventures. We also get further backstory on Rav and his pirates, learning more about Jariah Syn and his hatred of the Jedi along the way. More character development is always a good thing, of course, and as the story moves along we see Cade embracing a little more of the fact that he can use the Force.

Star Wars Legacy

Jedi-wise, Master K’Kruhk is back, and it’s also really nice to see T’ra Saa from the Republic series coming back here. Of course, it is somewhat arguable that bringing back so many Jedi from these previous stories makes one question how effective Order 66 really was, but also it serves to show how the Jedi were able to come back in such force so quickly after the fall of the Empire. So I guess there are multiple sides to that.

I can’t help feeling as though the story is feeling a little rushed at this point, though, with Cade having gone from being the fringer nobody to suddenly thinking he has to solve the galaxy’s problems. True, he’s doing it to stop the Sith hunting him, but it all feels just a little bit like there should have been more reconciliation between his character at the start of the series, and how he is now. But maybe I’m expecting too much?

That said, though, I think the story moves along much better when it has this focus on Cade & Co, as if Ostrander and Duursema are much more at home telling the tale of their team, rather than trying to hang that story in the wider galactic context.

The Mandalorian: Season Two (part two)

Hey everybody,
After the first three chapters in the second series of The Mandalorian, we’ve got a pair of really wonderful episodes that I need to talk about today. I’m constantly a bit late to the party on this one, of course, but we’re catching up of course!

Chapter Twelve again feels a little bit like a filler episode, although there’s a gang’s all here feel to the show as we return to Nevarro for the Razor Crest to get further repairs before the trip to Corvus. Greef Karga has taken over political responsibility for the settlement, with Cara Dune acting as enforcer for him. However, there remains an Imperial base on-world that incorporates the lab of Dr Pershing, the associate of the Client from season one. The Mandalorian agrees to help them destroy the base while his ship is being repaired, and we get the standard sort of infiltration mission that feels a bit similar to the prison break episode from last season. However, it’s still very enjoyable, and we get to learn a bit about what Pershing was up to, conducting experiments on transfusing the Child’s blood into test subjects, presumably to produce Force-sensitives?

The episode ends with the revelation that one of the mechanics working on the Razor Crest has planted a tracking beacon for Moff Gideon…

Now then. Chapter Thirteen is probably one of the most anticipated of the series, as we were promised live-action Ahsoka Tano for a long time. On Corvus, Ahsoka is prosecuting a war against the Imperial Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth, whose master she is keen to track down. When Mando arrives, he meets with the magistrate, who offers him a beskar spear in return for killing the Jedi. Mando finds Ahsoka and explains why he has come to Corvus, whereupon she and the Child communicate directly through the Force. Interestingly, we discover that his name is Grogu, and following Order 66 he has been suppressing his Force powers in order to survive. In exchange for training Grogu, Mando agrees to help Ahsoka with her battle against Elsbeth.

The planet is liberated, and Ahsoka forces Elsbeth to tell her where her master Grand Admiral Thrawn is. However, she refuses to train Grogu, explaining that he and Mando have formed too strong a bond. She suggests they travel to the temple of Tython, where Grogu may be able to access the Force and call out to another Jedi.

First of all, live-action Ahsoka is not as annoying as cartoon Ahsoka, which is something of a relief! The cartoon version would quite easily have defeated every Imperial on the planet, I’m sure. It’s interesting that she’s looking for Thrawn – I’m not entirely sure, but I believe it has something to do with her trying to locate Ezra, from her time during the Rebels cartoon series – that’s something that I’ll have to try and cover here on the blog at some point, as well…

The Jedi Temple on Tython is something that goes back to The Old Republic, and that MMO from 2011 – so that’s a deep call back to the old expanded universe! The episode is directed by Dave Filoni, however, and as much as I disliked the Clone Wars cartoon series, you have to hand it to the man that he just gets Star Wars and is able to take these references and build them into his own material, usually with very good results. When Filoni does Star Wars, he usually does it well – as the protege of George Lucas, it’s to be expected. There are just one or two things that irk me about his efforts, and it’s unfortunate that those one or two things override all of the good stuff, really!

These two episodes feel quite important to me, as we have a nice pit-stop back into the first season, and catch up with what Moff Gideon is up to with some more teasing of what his role could become in chapter twelve, then The Jedi blows almost everything out of the water by including such a high profile character – and a fairly huge name-drop, as well! – but manages to do it in such a low-key episode. I mean, the feel of Corvus is quite simple-oriental, and while I would have liked to have known more about the conflict there, it does feel like the show is sticking to its quiet and understated mood that the first series had, despite taking on such big storytelling.

I’ve read a sentence that has got me really hungry for chapter fourteen, which premiered yesterday, so I need to move on to that one fairly soon!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
It’s time to get back to more Star Wars: Legacy, as I continue reading through the eleven-volume series, today getting to volume three: Claws of the Dragon!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Three: Claws of the Dragon
This book forms a real turning point in the history of the Legacy era, as we get a lot of answers to a lot of the questions that may have been bubbling away up to this point, as well as seeing the storyline placed firmly on a new heading.

Cade, determined to make amends following his drug-induced vision on Ossus, and rescue Hossk Trey’lis from the Sith Temple on Coruscant. As it has been built upon the former Jedi Temple, he knows some secret ways in from the underworld, and makes contact with a Hutt information broker, Queen Jool. He finds his way into the chamber where Trey’lis is being held, but is set upon by Darth Talon, and captured. Darth Krayt then reveals that he wishes Cade to join the ranks of the One Sith, and we get a lot of exposition from him when he reveals his identity as none other than A’Sharad Hett.

The first time I read this book, my mind was utterly blown! Hett survived Order 66 and spent time on the galactic fringe, learning of the ways of the Sith before being taken prisoner by an advance party of Yuuzhan Vong, where he encountered Vergere. We learn that Vergere was trained in the Dark Side by Darth Sidious, and she attempts to further turn Hett to the Dark Side. However, Vergere is forced to move on when the priestess Elan is reassigned. Hett is experimented upon by the Yuuzhan Vong Shapers, and implanted with coral seeds that he has been attempting to resist the effects of since escaping from his captors. Hett formed the One Sith while the eyes of the New Republic were on Darth Caedus and Lumiya, and he needs Cade’s healing abilities to help rid him of the coral seeds. Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue are discussing options to rescue Cade when they are joined by Morrigan Corde, who comes up with the plan after explaining she is Cade’s mother. Cade refuses to heal Krayt, and duels both Darth Talon (wounding her) and Darth Nihl, before taking on the Sith Emperor himself. However, he is able to be rescued by Syn and Blue before Krayt is able to defeat him.

Star Wars Legacy

This is quite the pivotal issue, as I said, and covers a lot of ground with explaining what has happened to get us to this point. A good chunk of the trade paperback is taken up with Darth Krayt’s exposition of how he came to be at the head of the One Sith, of course, and it doesn’t feel too contrived somehow, given that Hett has basically been away from the main galactic events that we’ve seen covered by the novels following Order 66. It’s also useful to have a kind of bridge for readers to get the main beats of galactic history to show what’s been going on and help to provide some more context for the stories that we’ve had between the Prequels and this series. Of course, he is yet another Jedi who managed to escape the so-called Purge, which makes you wonder whether the Emperor could have done a better job.

Reading the series this time around, I feel really disappointed with Cade’s story arc. He’s forever being portrayed as the half-Jedi bad boy, and yet is able to go toe-to-toe with Darth Talon, who was previously built up as a deadly assassin, and survive. To say nothing of his later duel with Krayt, although that was on the back of his Sith training, so I suppose could be excused. I didn’t get the impression that he actually completed his training on Ossus, so not sure what to think of that. It’s almost like he’s being used as a tool to tell the story, and having all of these really interesting and cool scenes and interactions, but he is entirely the wrong sort of character to be in these scenes.

It also doesn’t help that he has a lot in common with Quinlan Vos from the Republic series, but Quinlan’s arc was much more in keeping with the character established for him!

I think I’ve found this re-read of the Legacy series a bit disappointing so far, as I have such fond memories of reading them the first time around! It’s actually in my top ten Star Wars comics, and I think that’s a reflection of the fact that it felt, at the time, like we were seeing the galaxy being brought together into a cohesive manner. Maybe I’m feeling like I want more from my Star Wars fiction, but I think Cade Skywalker just isn’t the right sort of character to be having this sort of adventure. There is still a lot to enjoy though, and there is a lot around the outskirts of the story that I did still like, such as the Coruscant underworld scenes, and a lot of the Imperial scheming is very engaging.

On to volume four!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
As promised last month, throughout December I’ll be re-reading the Star Wars: Legacy comics series from Dark Horse, published between 2006 and 2010, with an eleventh volume that ran into 2011. I first read these books about two years into the run, so had a decent number of issues to sink my teeth into.

The story was quite controversial at the time, being pushed so far into the future of the expanded universe – the first arc, Broken, starts in 130ABY (after the Battle of Yavin) and predominantly takes place in 137ABY, while up to this point the furthest into the future we’d been was to 29ABY with the end of the New Jedi Order. A lot of people were a bit disappointed with the fact that the galaxy doesn’t feel particularly different, with having the Empire still around (and still in olive fatigues), and so on. There’s definitely merit in that argument, but it’s also only just over 100 years following the end of the Yuuzhan Vong war, and I suppose we can’t expect things to have moved on to the point where things are so unrecognizable.

There are plenty of tie-ins to the NJO here as well, as pretty much the entire foundation for the series starts with a Yuuzhan Vong terraforming project gone wrong. Let’s take a look at the background now…

Background
The Ossus Project was an attempt to reconcile the Yuuzhan Vong with the wider galaxy by using their terraforming technology to repair the ecosystems damaged during the war. Seeing the results on Ossus, the galactic community was impressed and hundreds of worlds tried to secure the Yuuzhan Vong’s efforts. While initially things went smoothly, suddenly worlds like Wayland saw deformed plant growth, and native inhabitants began to grow spines such as had been seen during the mass slave-taking at the height of the war. While the Jedi suspected the project had been sabotaged, several hard-liners from the Empire, who had chafed under the terms of the peace brokered between Gavrisom and Pellaeon, and who wished for the Empire to once more become the main military superpower in the galaxy, declared war on the Alliance for defending the Yuuzhan Vong.

Star Wars Legacy

Volume One: Broken
The story begins with the attack on the Jedi Temple at Ossus. Several Sith lead the assault, killing many Jedi, including Kol Skywalker, leader of the Council and descendant of Luke Skywalker. Skywalker’s son Cade manages to escape with several apprentices, but the light of the Jedi appears to have gone out in the galaxy once more. In the Empire, it is revealed that the war was largely a success due to the intervention of the Sith, who allied with the hardcore of the Moff Council, against Emperor Fel’s wishes. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, Grand Moff Nyna Calixte, personally brought the Sith over to assist the Empire, in the hope of furthering her lover Grand Admiral Morlish Veed’s ascension to the throne. However, Darth Krayt, leader of the One Sith, murders Fel and assumes the throne, only to discover that he has in fact killed a body double. He orders Darth Talon to hunt down the real Fel, lest he form an alliance with the Jedi against him.

Seven years pass.

Cade is now working as a bounty hunter, having hidden himself from the galaxy and fallen in with his fellow hunters Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue. Collecting the bounty on a scavenger, they come across the Bothan Jedi Hossk Trey’lis, and capture him as well, taking him to Rav the pirate and go-between on the planet Socorro. Also on Socorro is Princess Marasiah Fel, whom Darth Talon has been tracking in an effort to locate her father, Roan Fel. Marasiah is able to escape the planet with a member of the Imperial Mission, Astraal Vao, on Cade’s ship the Mynock, whereupon she makes arrangements to meet with Vao’s brother on Vendaxa. There, it transpires that Vao’s brother is Shado Vao, Cade’s former Jedi classmate, who is there with Cade’s former Master, Wolf Sazen. When the Jedi’s transport is destroyed by Darth Talon, Cade ends up taking everybody to Bastion, where Roan Fel has re-established his base.

Star Wars Legacy

As an opening arc, this is fairly explosive, let’s be honest! I think this is probably going to be an ongoing issue with a lot of these blogs, but there is the element of all of this coming out of nowhere – we don’t get the background on the Ossus Project until well through the series, for instance.

Volume Two: Shards
The second book does begin to deepen the narrative, though, as we delve into the relationship between the Sith and the Empire, as we see the tension between Darth Maladi and Nyna Calixte. Learning that Cade is a Skywalker, the Sith have got a not insignificant interest in him. Calixte sends her own Intelligence operative to find out what is going on, and dispatches Morrigan Corde on Skywalker’s trail. However, we learn that she is none other than Cade’s mother and, working with the Sith spy Jor Torlin, they track him to Ossus but Corde kills Torlin rather than allow the Sith to discover his location.

Along the way, we meet Admiral Gar Stazi, the last surviving military leader of the Galactic Alliance. Attempts are being made to form an alliance between Stazi’s fleet and Emperor Fel, but these attempts are foiled by Corde and Torlin. We’ve not seen the end of Stazi though!

Having left Bastion without his crew, Cade has drifted to Ossus in an attempt to lose himself, and finds himself haunted by the Jedi of his past – specifically, Luke and Kol Skywalker. However, the Jedi of the present also catch up with him, Wolf Sazen and Shado Vao, and Cade realises that he must make amends for the mistakes of his past, and completes his training under his old master.

I remember the Ghosts two-parter being a real stand-out arc for me, back in the day, as it was the first time we had properly seen Yuuzhan Vong in a visual format. We start to explore the Ossus project, and the possibility that it had been sabotaged as a catalyst for war, which is good because it’s nice to get more of that depth for the story. As a bit of a blast from the past, we get to see Jedi Master K’Kruhk return from the Dark Times series – seems he’s pretty much indestructible at this point!


I have some very fond memories of reading the Legacy comics back in the day. I’d been collecting them for months, along with the Knights of the Old Republic series written by John Jackson Miller, and went away for Christmas to a small stone cottage in rural mid-Wales, where I would spend the evenings alternating my reading through the two series. I enjoyed the books when I read them at the time, but hadn’t come back to it since. Reading it now, though, I’m not sure it’s got the same appeal for me. I think, in part, it feels a bit like the comic set out wanting to tell a story about a bounty-hunting fringe type who becomes a Jedi and takes on a new army of Sith – and as a result, the setting is almost tacked on. I mean, it does tell an interesting story when it gets going, but taking such a big leap into the future of Star Wars, it needs a lot of world-building, and I don’t think it really takes enough time with this from the off.

But I’m going to go through the whole eleven-volume series, so stick with me! I should probably read more of the Legends stuff for the blog, to help all of this make sense…