The Fall of Damnos

Damnos

Hey folks!
While I’ve been reading (and re-reading) all manner of stuff at the minute, I thought I’d talk today about a book that I read a few weeks ago, back when I was moving house and all that attendant nonsense. The Fall of Damnos is the main bulk of the Space Marines Battles: Damnos book, which follows the progress of the Ultramarines’ attempt to liberate the populace of the mining world of Damnos from the return of the Necrons.

To all intents and purposes, I should love this book. Indeed, I’ve thought of it for a long time now as the quintessential Necrons novel.

Boy, was I disappointed.

The story follows several of the Ultramarines 2nd Company, under the legendary Captain Cato Sicarius, as they struggle against the reactivated Necrons across the world. There is a token planetary defense force, but the main populace on the world are the miners who seemingly accidentally wake the slumbering Necrons. There are several battles described, but despite Sicarius’ charisma and battle prowess, it seems the Necrons have the upper hand as they attempt to reclaim their tomb world…

The narrative feels like a series of vignettes for the most part, and at one point actually came across like some kind of attempt to describe a tabletop battle. I’m not a huge fan of that sort of thing, as it often feels like the story is going nowhere as we get several descriptions of epic nothingness. Maybe I’m being too harsh…

Confusingly, one battle group of Ultramarines is referred to as the Immortals, which is around the same time we get the Necron Immortals entering the fray. Kyme even uses different words to describe these guys depending on the point of view – to the Ultramarines, they’re “larger warrior constructs” or something, whereas to the Necrons, they are of course Immortals. Necron Raiders are mentioned quite a lot, often in relation to what I assume otherwise to be Necron Warriors. While the use of Raiders might be a nice throwback to fans of 2nd Edition, I can’t say it held much appeal as a Necron fan.

Indeed, there isn’t really much here for fans of the undead space robots. There’s a mad Overlord, a scheming Cryptek, and the usual insane Flayed Ones, then the most part of the army consists of Warriors/Raiders, and Canoptek Scarabs. Monoliths make an appearance at one point, which is nice, and there may have been a Tomb Stalker mentioned for one incredibly brief moment, but otherwise it’s quite a one-dimensional foe for the brilliant Ultramarines to fight.

As for the Ultramarines themselves, they’re a weird mix of politicking folks who seem to be out for personal glory above all else. Weird, right?

Damnos dates from 2011, and feels very much like “the old” Black Library. Sure, they still put out clunkers and filler-type novels, but in the main, they definitely feel like they’ve upped their game since these days, where they were basically a game company tie-in. We may not be getting Shakespeare now, of course, but we’re getting novels that are actually enjoyable to read, and are worth reading for their own merits, and not merely because they describe the deeds of the plastic men we push around on the tabletop. The Necron lore in particular felt badly written in this one, which put me off it pretty much entirely, but even with that aside, I can’t think of any reason why you’d want to pick this one up today.

The Death Guard!

So, the demon primarch Mortarion is coming out tomorrow, and I have to say, I’m actually really excited about the new Death Guard models we’ve been seeing!

Since the arrival of the Dark Imperium set earlier in the summer, I’d been primarily excited for the new Primaris marines, which I do actually like quite a lot. The Death Guard models were, at first, a little too busy for me – and the fact there are so many Poxwalkers to build for that side of the box has somewhat put me off looking at the whole Chaos half of the box. However, a friend of mine posted a picture on instagram of his work-in-progress Nurgle stuff, and it really inspired me to take a look!

So I’ve built up two of them, and have been looking at doing them in an alternate colour scheme to the usual greens. I’ve not gotten very far as it stands, as I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with it, but I think I might go for a tan look, or a pale brown…

I like them, anyway – they’ve got some lovely detail, which I’ve grown to enjoy rather than be intimidated by!

I happened to be in my local game store on Thursday when the owner had his GW delivery, so had a look at the box of Mortarion, and I think that model does look pretty good. I have been slightly intimidated by a lot of these big character models, but seeing him in the store, I did actually think it looked like a great project to sink my teeth into! I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but don’t be surprised if I suddenly start posting up pictures of the demon primarch here before too long!!

Necromunda hype!

I’ve not been able to talk much about the hype around the return of Necromunda on my blog yet, as I’ve been in the middle of moving house and stuff, so haven’t had a proper amount of time to digest the news we’ve seen from GW about it. However, I’ve been gorging myself on this stuff today, and I have to say, I’m incredibly excited to get my greasy paws on this box when it arrives in November!

I wasn’t around for the original Necromunda, which was out in 1995. I mean, I was alive, but I was much more interested in fantasy than 40k at the time. Anyway! This time around, it looks like GW have applied all of the style and panache of their recent sculpting success into the gangs we get in the box, to bring us (what looks like) twenty wonderfully individual miniatures that would look great on the tabletop. While I’m excited for the game, I’m excited for the miniatures and find myself hoping that we’ll be able to use them, in some way, in 40k at large, as well. At any rate, they should provide some amazing conversion-fodder!

I’ve already been thinking about the potential for House Escher as Wyches in my Dark Eldar army!

The sculpts look amazing, but I find myself less than enthused about the paint jobs on the minis we’ve seen so far. The purply skin tones seem to clash terribly with the yellow on the Escher minis, although I love the weapons options, and I’m really impressed by the look of them as a gang. House Goliath minis look somehow weirdly washed-out with the faintly rust-orange thing going on all over there, but even so, they look like solid sculpts that I’m finding myself looking forward to painting up just as much!

Each of these gangs will be multi-part plastic kits, and I’m so happy about this! It sounds like this game is going to be more like Betrayal at Calth rather than Deathwatch Overkill, and we’ll eventually get the sprues for each available separately without any need for them to re-tool the sculpts. I love getting individuality from models through the assembly, so this is definitely something to look forward to. Forge World are also set to do upgrade kits, which sounds like there could really be quite the industry coming out of this game! Not that there would really have been any doubt about its popularity, surely…?

While the game is coming with just two gangs, I really hope we get more options soon for more variety. News from the recent NOVA open indicates that we’re getting a lot of support for the game – Adeptus Arbites, welcome back!

The board seems a bit flat, especially when you consider that the original game was all about the multi-level experience. However, as the article from whence I’ve been plundering all of these pictures explains, there will also be rules for us to enjoy the game amid the Sector Mechanicus terrain sets, which makes me glad I picked up the entire range earlier this summer!

I’m hugely looking forward to getting hold of this game when it comes out. I’m hoping that GW don’t drop the ball and make it some kind of limited-run thing like the original Shadow War Armageddon box – hopefully, its release in November means that it is taking the place of the Horus Heresy boxed game that we’ve had over the last couple of years, and so will be available for a long time yet. Though of course, I imagine that initial take-up is going to be phenomenal.

I mean, it’s Necromunda!

First and Only

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

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

YEAH! #Warhammer40k #GauntsGhosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space Marines Legends: Cassius

Cassius

Hey everybody!
I’ve been continuing to make my way through some Warhammer 40k novels lately, riding the wave of 8th Edition and general positivity towards the IP, and have recently finished the first book in the Space Marine Legends series. This series began earlier in the year, and has been looking at a different, well, legend of the Space Marines! I’ve not been all that interested in pursuing the others in the series, which include spotlights on Ragnar Blackmane, Shrike and Dante, though the Azrael book may be of some interest. Anyway!

Cassius follows the Ultramarines’ chaplain as he leads an assault of the combined Third and Fifth Companies against the Tyranids on the world of Kolovan, close to Forge World Ryza and the Sol System. The Tyranids are dangerously close to Terra, and the hive fleet must be stopped before it can destroy the heart of mankind. Cassius leads the troops in pushing back the advance, only to discover that the world had already fallen before the Ultramarines’ arrival. However, with the discovery of a Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus’ bioweapon that could potentially destroy the Tyranids, the Astartes launch an attack on the hive ships themselves in orbit. Ultimately successful, the space marines are nevertheless depleted by their losses, and decry the fact that few, if any, will ever learn of the importance of their sacrifice.

The novel is fast-paced and fairly short, as it happens, running at around 220 pages. This seems to be a bit of a trend these days, and while part of me quite likes the fact that novels of this length feel more like a movie that I’m enjoying, I’m nevertheless saddened by the fact that it’s £12.99 for more a novella than anything. The story is good though, if a little wacky towards the end – though I always find it vaguely silly whenever the space marines board a Tyranid vessel.

The Ultramarines chaplain is front and centre during the book, as you’d expect, and we do get to learn a little of the chaplain’s role within the chapter. Throughout my reading of it, I kept thinking about how much I’d like to get back to painting space marines, and even how much I’d like to start doing something with those Tyranid models from Shield of Baal! More than I think any other Warhammer novel that I’ve read recently, Cassius has made me want to buy and paint miniatures, which I think says it all, really! It was a good read, the only downside for me was the price. But this seems to be standard for hardbacks from the Black Library these days, so I can’t really hold that against it.

Drukhari catch-up!

Hey everybody!
Well, it’s been quite the slog at times, but I’m pleased to announce that, this week, I’ve not only finished my initial Dark Eldar Oath project from back in February, but I’ve also started to add more miniatures to the ranks! Well, kinda…

Back in February, my local Games Workshop started a painting project where we all picked a new army for the new year (we were a little late getting it all sorted), and we had six months to paint up a 1000-point list. Of course, 7th Edition was still a thing, and I’d already started to build and paint Dark Eldar, so I went along with making up a list there. You can read all about my initial efforts with the dark kin here.

Over the course of the last few months, then, I’ve been trying to get paint on this thousand-point list, though was initially pretty stumped by the vehicles. I mean, I’m fine with painting infantry, and even the odd monster, but vehicles seem to just get me every time. I had the same issue with the Necron stuff, and the only thing I’ve managed to complete for the Space Marine stuff is that Alpha Legion Rhino, which isn’t my finest work! So having a pretty mechanised army was a bit of a stumbling block, I have to say!

However, I think I’ve managed to pull it all back quite well, and this weekend got the list finished! It wasn’t my original 1000-point list, as 8th Edition had kinda messed with that to the point where I wouldn’t be able to fit everything in. One Raider was cut out, and the Trueborn had to be re-done with their weapons options, but I’m finally at the point where the army is done!

I’m actually really happy with it, in the end. Sure, the faces are always going to cause me grief – but this is tabletop standard, I’m not trying to win any awards with them! I just want a fully-painted force, done to the best of my ability.

Costed precisely how each model is built, I’ve worked this out to be 1010 points, or 53 power, in the new edition. But that includes stuff like the power sword on the Dracon, which I’m not sure I actually want to use in the game. The first game, incidentally, is lined up for tomorrow, so I’ll be sure to come back with some thoughts on how they play in the not-too-distant future!

I’ve also been finishing off a few other models for the Dark Eldar, which had been built for the original list. Initially, both Kabalite Warrior squads were in Raiders, but the increased points on vehicles has meant that I can only take one now. That said, a Raider is the same points cost as my current Kabalite Trueborn build, so I could always swap them out.

I still have a Ravager and a Venom that have been partially finished for a while now, so I hope to get those models completed soon enough! In the meantime, though, I’ve been working on a third squad of Warriors, and also getting round to painting the Reaver Jetbikes! Exciting times ahead, I must say!!

Getting into 8th

Not too long ago, I had my first game of Warhammer 40k 8th Edition, so thought that I’d ramble about my experiences for a bit in today’s game day blog!

I’ve been loving 40k for a long while now, but the arrival of 8th Edition last month really has me firmly on that path now. I’ve previously talked about my experiences playing 7th Edition here, as well as my first impressions on the new edition here, so it might be useful to take a look at these blogs as a bit of background!

I played a game of roughly 40 power against Orks, having arranged the game with a guy at my local GW. Having only played against Imperial Guard in all of my games of 7th, I was really excited to see what was in store for me! I’ve heard the tales of Orks from watching bat-reps around the internet, of course, and was prepared for waves of the greenskin menace and bucketfuls of dice, but it was really cool to see what was in store!

Necrons Overlord

The armies

(Again, I didn’t have my phone with me, so couldn’t take pictures, so there will be some generic indicative stuff on offer!)

My list shows off my usual love for Lychguard, though coming in at 8 power per squad, they are a bit of a points-sink. I had an Overlord leading two 10-man Immortal squads, both armed with gauss blasters. One squad of Lychguard were armed with warscythes, and another with hyperphase swords. To round things out, I also included my squad of Wraiths. In total, I had 45 power.

Robin’s Orks consisted of two squads of twenty Boyz, led by a Warboss, along with a Weirdboy, a Painboy, and two Killa Kanz, for a total of 40 power.

The game started fairly sedately, as I moved one squad of Immortals up the field and shot at the first squad of Boyz, but only managed to get rid of one of the buggers. Orks turn one saw the Weirdboy use Da Jump to move the second squad of Boyz almost to my table edge, which allowed them to charge into one of my groups of Immortals that turn. However, these Immortals were also very close to my Lychguard with scythes, and as luck would have it, I was able to start laying into close combat with them from my turn two.

Indeed, sensing the desire to be in close combat early from the Orks, I basically allowed the army to come to me, and while it would have been more useful to have had more Lychguard on hand to start slicing up the big fungus creatures, I think it was still good to see how the army worked. I charged my Wraiths across the board into the first group of Boyz, who were by now in combat with my Immortals, and the centre of the table quickly became a gross tar-pit of metal and green.

In the event, my Lychguard were quite effective at carving up both squads of Boyz, and despite the Killa Kanz killing my warlord, he was avenged when one remaining Lychguard with a warscythe managed to carve up one of the Kanz, which caused the other one to run away! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Lychguard are amazing! Both as a kit and on the tabletop!

So what are my thoughts?

Aside from Lychguard being awesome, I think the main thing for me is to not really bother with large units for Reanimation Protocols. The way this rule works now initially prompted me to automatically think of max-strength units (which is still only ten models for Immortals, Lychguard, Deathmarks and Praetorians – the only Infantry models I like). However, while it is undoubtedly useful to think of it like this, I had two ten-man Immortal squads which were tied up quite quickly in close combat, and so were basically neutered early on. Having a lot of smaller squads carefully positioned should at least allow me to have some models that can shoot, as even a green horde can’t tie up every single one!

While gauss has that wonderful -2AP, I think I want to invest in some more tesla Immortals, as I think the hit rolls of 6 becoming three hits could be really good. Indeed, I think I want to do more with tesla in general – that Annihilation Barge should really be finished off soon!

I tend to go for a lot of Infantry in all of my army lists, as I enjoy having miniatures in a miniature wargame. However, I think it might be tactically prudent to include a healthy dose of other things – the aforementioned Annihilation Barge being a case in point. Necrons don’t have a great variety of stuff, of course, but I think I want to do more with the Catacomb Command Barge. Depending on how vehicle-heavy I go, I might try to get more Canoptek stuff such as the Spyder into the list, also. Against horde armies, I don’t think the Doomsday Ark is going to be much use, though for pinpoint destruction it could be fun. The Triarch Stalker looks like it could be good, too – expensive, of course, but I’m also thinking about getting that model finished soon. I’m certainly looking to change up my lists a little – though I’m doubtless going to keep a core of Immortals and Lychguard because these units are my favourites!

Army-wide Leadership 10 is really useful for the Necrons. Even when my Lychguard were being picked off one at a time, nobody was running away. The new way of working out to wound rolls was so much better than 7th -I was still having to check the toughness of the Orks I was hacking apart, but I think it went to much quicker than trying to remember that bloody chart from the last edition. It may just be me being thick, of course! But I think this is a hallmark of the new edition – certainly, as much as I can make such a statement after only one game: everything just moves along quite nicely! We were playing a small game, of course – a small number of units per side, and only having three command points each to use meant we both pretty much re-rolled something, and interrupted each others’ combats once. But it didn’t feel as bogged-down as my previous games of 7th have felt, and while it took 3 hours, I think that was definitely more because we were both quite new (well, I was brand new!) to the rules. I’ve previously set aside entire days for one single game of 7th, so I definitely appreciated how quick you can move through a game.

I didn’t really have a plan for my battle. I started out wanting to get a sort of firing corridor for my Immortals, but the Orks’ charge just floored me and so I was put onto the back foot. While I could adapt a little and managed to charge my Lychguard into a couple of combats, I think overall I need to have a little more flexibility into the list to allow for shooting and melee, and a little bit of shenanigans as well. I think this is where Deathmarks could come in handy, as they can teleport onto the battlefield and snipe at characters etc. Synaptic disintegrators aren’t the greatest weapon in the arsenal, of course, but with My Will Be Done giving them +1 to hit if there’s a nearby Overlord, it could be decent enough!

Necrons Deathmarks

Overall, I really enjoyed this game, and I’m looking forward to getting up to the store for more games soon! It took 3 hours to play, as I said, mainly because we were both quite new to the game (though also the fact that Necrons are very tough to get rid of, even when my reanimation protocols aren’t going too good – I was still getting at least a couple of models back each turn!)

Definitely excited to not only play more 8th with my Necrons, but also to get some experience with more armies!