Vengeful Spirit

Hey everybody,
I’m determined to make a proper effort with the Horus Heresy series this year, starting with the juggernaut that is Vengeful Spirit!

This book, the 29th in the series, has felt like a breath of fresh air, after the last few books which were a little more difficult to get through, and always felt like they were going nowhere. I suppose I’ve been a little put off by the chunky size of this one, but almost as soon as I’d made a start on the book, I was enjoying it!

We’re back in the thick of the Heresy, with Horus reassembling the Mournival to replace both Loken and Torgaddon following the purge of the Legion. The story picks up immediately after the short story Little Horus, which I haven’t yet read (my bad), but the Sons of Horus have successfully defeated a White Scars assault on their primarch at the planet Dwell. There, Horus has learnt of the planet Molech, about which he has some hazy memories that he doesn’t understand – all the primarchs are supposed to have eidetic memories, so why can’t he remember it? He meets with his brothers Fulgrim and Mortarion, who were also there, and all three come to the conclusion the Emperor himself has tampered with their memories. According to the information Horus has learnt on Dwell, Molech could be a site of great power, possibly where the Emperor gained his god-like power. As they begin to plan their assault, however, they come under attack by an Iron Hands warband, and Horus basically decimates their ships by jumping onto them and pummeling them with his mace, Worldbreaker.

On Terra, Leman Russ decides the best course of action is to lead a surgical strike against Horus, and with Malcador’s help recruits Garviel Loken to lead a strike team of Knights-Errant to board the Vengeful Spirit and basically light the way for Russ’ attack. The team travels to Titan to arm and assemble in full, and Loken discovers his personal remembrancer Mersadie Oliton is being kept a prisoner there.

Meanwhile, the spirit of Ignatius Grulgor returns to Mortarion, fully corrupted by the power of Nurgle. The Sons of Horus find themselves with their own daemon, when Serghar Targost and Maloghurst the Twisted use the braindead body of Gor Geraddon to bring forth the first of the Luperci, Tormageddon. The Luperci are the Sons of Horus equivalent to the Word Bearers’ Gal Vorbak, and Tormageddon was initially brought forth by Erebus from a fragment of the soul of Tarik Torgaddon. The Traitor flotilla arrives at Molech shortly after the balance of power has shifted, with the Imperial Governor there killed by his own son during a beast hunt.

The Battle of Molech is pretty grim, and forms the epic central narrative of the book. The first couple of hundred pages have all that set-up, then once everyone is in position, it’s a bit like all hell breaks loose, first in the void and then on the surface. The ground assault takes place to allow Horus to learn exactly what happened on the world all those years ago with the Emperor, and in fairly devastating fashion, he finds out.

The Emperor made his bargain with the Chaos gods on Molech, gaining the knowledge with which to make the Primarchs and all the rest of it. As we know, the Emperor didn’t intend to keep his side of the bargain, and so the Ruinous Powers created the Warp storm that scattered them all. It’s hinted at early on – how did the Emperor manage to leave Molech if He left His starship on the world? – but the revelation of what exactly Molech’s importance is still managed to surprise me!

The fighting is intense, but Horus finds his way to the Warp gate, and in suitably mystical fashion, travels through and becomes empowered by the Ruinous Powers. Meanwhile on the ship, Loken and the rest discover a cult surrounding Targhost as he is about to create another Luperci, and the team destroy them all. However, Targhost’s “death” reveals that he is possessed by none other than the daemon Samus, which kinda traumatises Loken. Horus, already somehow aware of them aboard the ship, has sent a team to capture them, and following a brutal skirmish, the Knights-Errant are brought before the Warmaster. Horus tries to convince Loken to rejoin the ranks of his Sons, but despite a deep-seated desire for that earlier belonging, Loken refuses and more fighting breaks out. Iacton Qruze attempts to kill Horus himself, and many others go down fighting, but the surviving members of the strike team are rescued, to return to Terra.

I really liked this book, a lot. As I said at the start, I had been growing a bit disappointed in the series, as it seemed to just be expanding outwards with no effort to move the story on. Here, however, perhaps more so than with any other novel since Fulgrim, it feels like the book is a direct sequel to the opening books. There are so many elements that are drawn from the earlier novels, it makes things feel much more cohesive than at any other point in the series so far, I think.

A big part of this, of course, is that this is very much a Horus novel. We have three main characters that we follow – Loken, Horus Aximand, and the Primarch himself. Mingled into this are so many other elements that the book does begin to feel quite bloated, especially the second part with the main battle. A lot of the negative reviews that I’ve read seem to focus on this perceived bloat, but I think it somehow adds to the truly epic frame of the story. It’s like, we had the opening trilogy/five books which truly set the scene, then we go off into the wilderness somewhat as we explore all of the side stories and whatnot, but here is where the series begins to rein in those threads and we start to get something more like cohesion across the whole Heresy. A lot of the story that has been told in short story form, including the Garro series of audio dramas etc, is also worked back into the mainstream of the novel series here.

It’s a huge task, and it has lead to a correspondingly huge book. Some of the story does, at times, feel like it’s probably a bit unnecessary. The whole Knight storyline for the Titan legions of House Devine could probably have been cut out, of shortened, with more focus instead on the combined garrison of Blood Angels and Ultramarines, as that felt like it should have had more time devoted to it. Indeed, the Blood Angels seemed otherwise to be utterly pointless as an inclusion. Another seemingly unnecessary inclusion was that of the Red Angel, which felt almost like it had been shoe-horned in simply because it is something that has happened already in the series, and so can also be referenced. I suppose it makes sense that Horus has it, so it maybe would be mentioned in a book about the primarch, but it all just fell a bit flat, somehow.

But none of that really detracts from the whole, overall. It’s a meaty epic of a book, and now that I come to think of it, we’ve not really had anything like this in the series yet. The Horus Heresy is an epic story in every sense of the word, and I think Vengeful Spirit is quite possibly the first book (at #29) to truly show us that epic scale of the subject matter.

Very much required reading, I must say!

Ravenor Rogue

It’s been a while since I finished the second book in the trilogy, but now it’s time to look at the final book.

Following the events on Eustis Majoris, Ravenor and his retinue are asked to account for their actions and the destruction caused. Despite Ravenor’s hunch that Molotch is on Tancred, he agrees to stand down in his pursuit of the heretic, and another Inquisitor takes over the search. However, this team is compromised and most of the retinue is killed when they attempt to arrest Molotch, and Ravenor decides to go rogue in order to end his nemesis once and for all.

In order to gain some insight into where Molotch may strike next, Ravenor and his entourage travel to Utochre and the Wych House there, the idea being that he would potentially see into the future to anticipate Molotch’s next move. However, it turns into a trap, one engineered by Molotch and Orfeo Culzean. The Wych House used a three-way door to show people potential futures via the Warp; Ravenor met with Culzean where he offered an alliance between the inquisitor and the heretic in order to eliminate the threat posed by the daemon Slyte. Ravenor completely discounted this proposal, whence he and his team were attacked by Tyranid hormogaunts – for the extremely nerdy among us, the Tyranids were first officially recorded in the year 745.M41, although the Ravenor novels take place in 404.M41, so we can postulate that the door sent Ravenor and his retinue into the future at this point. Anyway!

They are only able to escape by the intervention of Carl Thonius manifesting Slyte once again, but the damage caused in turn leads to the destruction of the Wych House. Part of his team manages to escape, but Ravenor, Nayl, Angharad and the housekeeper once more go through the door to flee. There follows a bit of a ploddy narrative as they continually open the door and find themselves in different places and times, until Ravenor realises that a degree of psychic focus can allow them to determine their destination. Gravely wounded by the Tyranidattack, they manage to get fixed up to a degree before finally reuniting with the rest of the team in the right year, and so begin the final hunt.

Since the start of the book, Zael has been in a coma, watched over by Frauka to blunt any potential psychic outbursts. Worryingly, about halfway through, it seems as though Zael has managed to “turn off” Frauka’s blunting ability, and everyone is convinced that Slyte is going to attempt to manifest into realspace through him. Of course, we the readers know that Slytehas possession of Carl Thonius, and when Ravenor finally catches up with this, the whole team travels to Gudrun and the bolthole of Orfeo Culzean, where Thonius is leading a team in an attempt to dispatch Molotch once and for all.

When Culzean realises that Thonius is Slyte, he attempts to bring forth the daemon, with absolutely disastrous consequences, and it does indeed come down to a truce between Ravenor and Molotch, who combine together their psychic might to bring down the daemon, using the three-way door to finally send Slyteback into the Realm of Chaos. In the epilogue, Ravenor kills Molotch once and for all, and surrenders himself to the Inquisition for judgment.

***

I have got to be honest, this book was not the best it could have been, to my mind. I’m a big fan of Dan Abnett, and I have really loved the Ravenor series, but the final act here doesn’t feel like it really does everything justice. It’s a bit like the original Star Wars trilogy, where the build-up is amazing, with the second act far surpassing the first, then the third just seems to fall a little bit flat as it attempts to wrap everything up before the end. I’m not saying it was rushed, but there didn’t feel like the kind of payoff for some things that perhaps demanded them. Zael in particular fizzles into nothing, serving as little more than a distraction for the rest of the cast, despite the fact we as the readers know what is going on.

The middle part with the three-way door felt like it went on a bit too long, as well. I’m still not entirely sure why we needed to see the complete adventures of Ravenor and co. as they attempt to join up with the rest of the retinue – an abridged version would have been fine, if we could instead have had more on the Zaelplot, maybe? I don’t know. It also feels like some of the retinue characters are maybe a bit lost, with very little action for Kara Swole more than any of the others.

I don’t know.

It’s by no means a terrible book, and I’ve said before how Return of the Jedi is in fact my favourite Star Wars movie. If this is the Return of the Jedi of the Ravenor trilogy, then that is still pretty decent praise, I would say! There are some incredibly rich descriptions of worlds that we get, such as the sweeping vistas of Tancred at the beginning, which are pure and classic Abnett.

It’s better than a lot of the stuff that has been written for Black Library, and I don’t want you to think it didn’t keep me reading. I just feel like maybe the series could have been capped with a greater payoff in the end. But that’s possibly just me!

New Warhammer incoming!

My goodness, what a day!

There are some very interesting models coming our way in the next few months! The Faith & Damnation preview came out of nowhere, at least to me, and has shown off quite a few models that I’m excited for! Let’s take a look…

Of course, a lot of the stuff is Soulblight Gravelords, who must be coming pretty soon given that we’ve seen so many new units already. The Blood Knights have been redesigned, and look very fancy! Whether they’ll be an extortionate £61.50 for a box of five though, who can say? We’re also getting more Skeletons and Zombies, who fit in nicely with the stuff that we’ve seen from the upcoming Warhammer Quest: Cursed City. I’ve been back and forth on the new stuff, but right now I’m holding off getting into the new Vampires: I think I have enough on my plate without adding yet another army into the mix!!

The Ossiarch Bonereapers are getting their Underworlds warband and I WANT THIS NOW! May isn’t too long to wait, I guess, but still… I’m very excited for this! I also hope that it means we’ll be getting some more Bonereapers units in the future – archers would be lovely, and how about some mace-wielding chaps as well? But how nice would it also be to have some executioner-types as well? Massive axes and all!

I still haven’t played Underworlds, of course, and I don’t know if I will anytime soon, but I am very excited for this band!

We’re off to the 41st millennium next, and there are yet more units coming for the Adepta Sororitas! We’ve already seen the walker and the lieutenant-type, and now we’re getting a Predator-type vehicle as well! This is very nice, I must say – I wonder if this is it, or whether we’ll be seeing more for the Sisters before they inevitably get their 9th edition codex.

This is long overdue, for sure. Another army that has been getting new units that are bursting out of its current book. The Skitarii Marshal is probably the last we’ll be seeing for the army for a while, I’d guess. After the wave of models that came out in the Psychic Awakening release, I can’t see anything more coming over the hill, but I suppose you never know! At any rate, it’s good to see an army that has been spread apart like this come together, so I’m pleased to know that they’ll be getting their book soon.

Of course, I have a small-ish Mechanicus force of my own that I still don’t quite know what to do with. Maybe I’ll keep them, but I do want to try to thin out my plastic addiction!

Third starter set coming for Necromunda – who saw this coming?! Escher vs Delaque with some of the plastic Zone Mortalis stuff, though I’m expecting it to be quite expensive, regardless. Can’t think it would be the same price tag as Dark Uprising, of course! It’s good to see a hopefully more affordable starter set on its way, and Delaque is a nice choice, I must say!

The next House of book is coming up as well, House of Faith, featuring the Cawdor gangers having their update. Do we have a box with prospects and leaders? Not sure, but we will be getting these fine gentlemen:

We’ve already had one spoiled, but it’s lovely to see the whole box. Six miniatures, three times two, but with some very nice options regardless. I’m liking these guys a lot, anyway, I must say! And it’s always wonderful to see what’s coming next for Necromunda!

All in all, this has been a very exciting preview – if the Bonereapers warband is scheduled for May, then I’m guessing that it won’t be long until we see all of these coming out!

Fallen Angels

Hey everybody,
After having put it off for years, I’ve finally read the eleventh book in the Horus Heresy series, Fallen Angels.

I’m a bit out of sync, then, as the previous novel that I’d read was the 28th entry in the series, Scars! Fallen Angels is a direct sequel to the sixth book, Descent of Angels, a novel that I have grown to dislike so much since I first read it back in the day, that I have projected that dislike onto its sequel without really much thought. However, after discussing it with Dave of wordaholicsanonymous fame, I decided to go for it and see what I’ve missed.

As it turns out, Fallen Angels isn’t all that bad. It’s not a great novel – I’m not about to start evangelising about it to you all – but it certainly holds a place within the chronology of the Heresy, and much like Dave says in his review, this book makes so much more sense of the last one. It’s a fact that doesn’t make me like Descent of Angels any more (a book that requires a sequel to make sense of it?) but I can at least let go some of that annoyance with the earlier entry!

Fallen Angels has two storylines, as we once again follow Zahariel and Nemiel on their progress with the Dark Angels Legion. Zahariel is among the space marines exiled to Caliban with Luther, after the events during the Compliance of Sarosh (where Luther kinda conspired to kill the Lion) while Nemiel is in the thick of things with the primarch himself, as news of Horus’ rebellion spreads and the Dark Angels are given the task of denying the traitors access to the Forge World of Diamat, close to the Isstvan system. We’re sort of behind the times in this book then, in that the dropsite massacre hasn’t yet come to pass, but Mars has already fallen so we’re following on from the ninth book. If ever there was a novel in this series that shows how skewed the timeline is when you try to read these books in order, surely Fallen Angels is it!

I’ll be discussing spoilers from here out, so be warned!

On Caliban, Zahariel learns of the rebellion against the rule of Luther, led by some former knightly masters who see the Imperium as slave-masters and are trying to restore their freedom. Zahariel is a staunch Imperialist, but is dismayed to see the rifts forming between those Caliban natives and the marines (and others) imported from Terra, and even more dismayed when he sees Luther seemingly begin to sympathise with the rebels. Investigating possible rebel activity in the old Northwilds, he discovers a foul rite that has taken place, bringing immense worms into existence and feeding off the life-energy of humans. He learns that this was merely a test for a much larger ritual that seems to be formented by Terrans, and so Luther and the Dark Angels descend on the ritual site, only Luther seems to want to bind to his will the creature that these sorcerers have seemingly brought forth from the Warp, using Zahariel’s powers as a Librarian to do so. The creature dissipates and Zahariel effectively dies for five minutes, but is brought back to life by the Master of Caliban, who later on promises he’ll be better-prepared next time…

Meanwhile on Diamat, Nemiel is leading a landing party against the traitors in an effort to take back the Forge World, but the Dark Angels soon discover that the Forge has fallen and its leader, Magos Archoi, is actually in league with the Dark Mechanicum. The extent of the Magos’ treachery is cunningly played out as the Warmaster’s reinforcements arrive, as Horus is intent on retrieving some Titan siege-guns he had the Forge World make for him around fifty years earlier. The Dark Angels are able to use a Dreadnought in their party to operate one of these siege guns and deflect the Sons of Horus from their objective, but the epilogue is just dripping with irony as the Lion hands over control of the weapons to none other than Perturabo.

I’m weird. I wanted to not like this book, as I wanted to feel somewhat vindicated for my dislike of Descent of Angels all these years. While I didn’t end up loving it, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. There were maybe two chapters that were outstanding for me, both of them in the Diamat storyline, where we see some fairly brutal city fighting that felt incredibly cinematic and really well-executed: the rush to rescue the Dreadnought drop pod after landing on the world, and then the defence of the Forge against the landing of the Sons of Horus. There was something really visceral in the writing here, where you could really picture the bombed-out cityscape, with the Dark Angels running through the ruins covered in dust… really very well done, that!

The Caliban storyline felt like a pretty slow-burn, as the intrigue was explored around the divisions between Terrans and Calibanites, something that felt entirely natural following on from the earlier book, and I suppose something that keeps up the theme of several novels that have dealt with those kinds of divisions. We saw it with the White Scars as well, and I’m sure there are plenty of other instances where the “native” troops feel themselves much more special than their Terran fellows, as they are (in their own minds) closer to the Primarch. Here, though, it is only part of a much larger conspiracy that begins to set the wheels in motion for Luther’s betrayal of the Lion, and provides that whole foundation for the Dark Angels being divided into the Fallen (Luther’s followers who fell to Chaos alongside him) and the Unforgiven (those Legionaries who stood with the Lion).

However, this book subtly posed the question of the Lion’s loyalty by bringing up the idea that he may have understood the wild beasts of Caliban to be linked to the Warp, and by insisting on hunting them to extinction, it then leaves the people of Caliban open to the Warp taint, as they had previously shunned those areas because of the beasts.

As I said, the book does provide some degree of legitimacy for having a sword and sorcery novel in what is otherwise a fairly hard sci-fi setting, and while I did end up enjoying this book more than I’d expected, it’s not exactly in my top five from the series so far. If nothing else, though, I’m glad to have finally made the time to read it!

March Plans

Hey everybody,

I seem to be in a bit of a hobby wilderness at the minute, in fact I haven’t really done much of anything all week so far, so I thought it might be a good idea to draw up a plan of attack for the month, before things get too out of hand, and I end up with a March retrospective blog that is devoid of anything!

Let’s start with Necrons. I’ve got these two guys looking pretty good, in fact the Royal Warden has been almost finished for quite some time, already! I’ve got a few finishing touches planned for him, then I’ll hopefully be able to get the Plasmancer finished off in short order for another fairly quick win – just the plasmic lance really that needs work doing to it. I’m particularly pleased with myself for this one, because work only actually started on the model on Sunday. 

I’ve recently decided to sell off a bunch of models, including all of the Primaris stuff that I’ve kept but not had any kind of plan for. As such, I spent some time at the end of February building up the rest of the Necrons from Indomitus so that I could sell the Primaris half including the instructions! In addition, I’d seen Garfy’s Chronomancer painted up and looking fantastic, which really prompted me to get back to painting these guys.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLzzPtEHJs-/?igshid=1cxnofh59q3zt

Along with the Plasmancer, I’ve now received the Psychomancer model so need to get moving with that! I’ve heard that it’s a difficult build, with the digital skull face thing that he’s summoning and all, and looking at the sprue I can well believe it! It does feel a little fiddly, but I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with that!

As you can see, I’ve also been stocking up with Fantasy stuff, getting the new Shardspeaker model for the new Hedonites of Slaanesh, as well as the Agents of Chaos “battletome” for Warcry. I’d like to get that Shardspeaker built, if not fully painted too, I’ve got some interesting ideas floating about for my Slaanesh models, which will be nice to explore further. I also want to get at least another game in with Warcry, because it kinda haunts me that I’ve only played that single game! So that’s going to be something else to aim for!

Talking about playing games though, I also want to get more Arkham Horror LCG played! I’ve now started to put up some blogs on my Circle Undone campaign, which has been a long time coming as I think I did start to play this one early in January! I’d not been wanting to play too far into the campaign without getting round to the write-ups, but now that I’m pretty much up to date, I think it’s time to continue on with the witches!

I’ve used this segue before, but speaking of witches, I really need to make more of an effort to catch up with WandaVision. I mentioned briefly the first episode in my January catch-up blog, but have now watched I think up to episode 6, and I’ve been really impressed with how the series has just gone from strength to strength. I think the second episode, where the beekeeper comes through a manhole only to be “re-wound” by Wanda, is truly where this series lit up for me. On the surface, it’s quite a nice retro-feeling show, but there is so much going on beneath the surface that it really sucks you in! I’m toying with the idea about writing more about it, but I don’t really have that much more to offer than has already been shared around the internet! 

I think the last episode is out tomorrow, so maybe it’ll be a weekend of binge-watching to the finale!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CL464FLn2q1/?igshid=1ggklhl0oq12n

I started to read Fallen Angels earlier this week, the eleventh book in the Horus Heresy series. I’ve basically gone back in time, then, as I’ve actually read up to book 29 at this point – but I couldn’t get into the sixth novel, Descent of Angels, so put this one aside as it is something of a direct sequel. After reading Dave’s review of Nemesis over on wordaholicsanonymous, though, I’ve gone back to see what I’ve missed – I’m only about 100 pages in, so it’s still early days, but I’m hesitantly thinking that it is better than the earlier book! The review will of course be coming once I’m done!

Feels like this might be a busy month for me after all…

February Retrospective

Hey everybody,
Another month has been and gone, and it’s once more time for another retrospective blog! I’m quite enjoying this idea, so hopefully that’ll continue for the year ahead! It’s been a pretty productive month as well, with a lot more hobby and stuff to report!

Since last month, I’ve been making terrific progress with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, which was most recently chronicled in my update blog, here. I’ve now got 590 points-worth of the bone-boys painted up in the colours of the Petrifex Elite. It’s been a lot of fun painting these chaps, although for now I’ve taken a small break as I look at what else I have that needs attention.

The next part of my plan for the Bonereapers is to have the Necropolis Stalkers painted, although I’m not sure whether to build them as the Stalkers or the Immortis Guard. It is on my radar to get more troops, although I’m kinda waiting for the inevitable Start Collecting box, which will likely have these guys in there. Unless they go for a cavalry box? That said, with 40k moving to these combat patrol boxes, I don’t know if they’re planning to continue to do these for much longer. At any rate, for now I’m continuing to build and paint what I have, rather than branching out and buying yet more miniature men.

Quite the sea-change for me, really!

At some point in the near future, though, it’ll be the turn of this magnificent specimen, and I cannot wait to get this one built!

In the middle of getting this small army of mine assembled, I did a little work on the nascent Black Legion that I’ve been wanting to get off the starting block for quite some time now! I’ve been inspired by Martin Sivertsen on Instagram and his own burgeoning Black Legion force! It’s a beautiful force, and I think it’s about time that I got somewhere with my own. In addition, I’ve also been hard at work building up the remaining models from the Necron side of the Indomitus box (I’ve decided to sell the Space Marine portion, more money for the stuff I do want!)

I’m still not a huge fan of the new Necron aesthetic of shambling robot zombies, but the army is of course my first love, and I do find myself enjoying the look of the new Crypteks, so have picked up a Psychomancer for the list that I talked about a while back, and I’m planning to start work on painting the Plasmancer pretty soon. That juggernaut of GW painting, Garfy, posted yesterday showing the new Chronomancer mini and it’s absolutely beautiful. Probably going to be a while before this one is released separately, but I suppose it’s at least four more months before we will see the lockdown restrictions removed here in the UK, so I’ve got the time! I’ve got a lot of disparate ideas for 40k floating around, but it seems as though I’m much more likely to focus myself on Age of Sigmar right now.

Slaanesh has been on my mind of course, now that we’ve had the new range of mortals released. I’ve picked up the Shardspeaker, such a fantastic model, but have otherwise reined myself in here. In all honesty, this is a force that is a long way off just now, and I’d rather keep focusing my efforts on the bone boys to get a decent sized force finished.

In addition to the Bonereapers and Slaanesh, I’ve had my eye on the Lumineth Realm-lords, following the latest Warhammer Preview this month. There are some very beautiful miniatures in this range, to be sure, and I’m trying my hardest to resist buying anything just now! There’s definitely something Old World about these minis, that makes me nostalgic for the old days. I keep thinking I might just pick up a box of the basic infantry, just to have a go…

Lumineth Realm-lords

So far, though, I have been a good boy!

Something that I haven’t been able to resist, though, is this:

The “latest” expansion for Warcry is a few months old now of course, but I’ve been thinking on it for quite some time, vacillating over whether to get it or whether it was a bit steep for the content involved.

However, I am glad to have it, despite all the negatives floating around online! Warcry is absolutely one of the things near the top of my list right now. I’ve been wanting to get further into that game recently, although I’ve still not played it after that game back in September. I’ve got the Iron Golem models from the original core set primed and waiting, and I’ve been thinking that may well be the next project to get underway with. Of course, Warcry could be the perfect way to start with Slaanesh when the time comes, and I’m sure I’ll be exploring more of that here!

Arkham Horror LCG The Circle Undone

At least I’ve been playing Arkham Horror LCG, and have managed to get started with recording my endeavours on the blog here! With working from home more regularly during the current lockdown, I’ve found that I have the time while on my lunchbreak to get a game in, which has been quite good for getting to explore the game some more.

Taking a sharp left turn now, I watched The Phantom Menace last weekend, for the first time in what feels like an age. It’s hardly the best film in the series, of course, but it did feel quite wonderful to be watching Star Wars once again, and I did feel really quite nostalgic for the whole saga. I used to watch the prequels almost every Christmas, while reading a selection of the novels and comics set around there – to the point where I had almost developed a set scheme for “my prequel Christmas”. I do quite miss the days when I had nothing much going on, and could read a 400 page book in a day, happy times! I’d like to try and get back into that maybe someday here, revisit the old days and chronicle some of those classic tales here – though much like with the Legacy series I re-read last December, it’ll be interesting to see if these things hold up.

Something that I have finished reading this month is the Warhammer Crime anthology No Good Men. I really enjoyed the first novel in the series, so had been looking forward to reading more. Anthologies can always be a bit ropey, and I think this one is no different. Seven short stories from Black Library alums (including Chris Wraight, author of the inaugural Bloodlines), all set on the world of Alecto and around the hive city of Varanganthua. The thing is, after Bloodlines, and after a couple of stories here, things begin to sound all the same. Probators going about their investigations, etc. There are a lot of missing persons, it seems, in the hive city, and I found myself wanting a bit more variety. I’m not really that down on the book, of course, but things just tend to blur into one at the end. Individually, the stories are pretty good, and very enjoyable with that noir feeling. Some are better than others, of course, but I definitely like the change from space marines and the like.

I’ve got Flesh and Steel, the next Warhammer Crime novel, ready and waiting. But I’m also hearing such good things about the first Star Wars High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, that I’m thinking I might have to pick that one up sooner than later.

Warhammer Crime: Bloodlines

Hey everybody,
It’s been more than a week since I finished this bad boy, so it’s definitely time that I got down my thoughts on the blog here! Warhammer Crime is the second subset of Warhammer novels, following the Horror imprint that made its debut in 2018. Warhammer Crime came along in 2020 with Bloodlines by Chris Wraight, which was a huge draw for me, for a number of reasons. First of all, of course, Chris Wraight is one of my all-time favourite Black Library authors, and while I do love a bit of the crime (stories, not actual crime), I thought this could be a great vector to introduce my wife into the world of 40k, as she reads almost exclusively crime fiction.

Bloodlines is, at its most straightforward, a missing persons story, following the Probator Agusto Zidarov as he follows the trail of a wealthy industrialist’s son. The search takes him into the underground pharmaceutical trade, and includes a fairly hefty dose of industrial espionage and politics along the way. That’s how I kept selling it to Jemma, but to date she hasn’t taken the bait. But you never know!

The novel is set on the world of Alecto, mainly in the hive city of Varangantua. There is a very strong Necromunda vibe here, for sure, and I had a lot of serious call-backs to the Ravenor books, which is probably the closest we’ve had to Warhammer Crime up to this point. Zidarov is basically the Warhammer version of a detective, so he’s a bit of a different breed to the Enforcers that we’ve also seen in novels. I found it interesting to see the emphasis placed on this being pretty much a police procedural, and the aspects that make this 40k were almost down-played, which makes me think this could be to allow the book to appeal to the widest possible audience. For sure, the references are there if we want to notice them – I mean, the major plot point of the pharmaceutical trade involves rejuvenat treatments, which we know of course from so many 40k novels (including those Ravenor novels), and of course we see folks armed with laspistols and autoguns. But you don’t need to know what any of these things are to enjoy the book – interestingly, I’d say we actually learn more about the rejuvenat process here than we’ve ever learnt in mainstream 40k.

There is some wonderful world-building here – this is one of those sci-fi books where none of the food or drink is familiar, you know? It weirdly helps to ground the book in the realms of the more mundane, though, and made me realise that we’ve never actually had a 40k book like this before. I suppose the emphasis has always been on the battles and the insane stuff, even with Ravenor we get those glimpses into the downtime that folks have, but here there is almost a family drama playing itself out for us in the middle of the investigation, with Zidarov and his wife worrying about their daughter’s desire to join the Astra Militarum. It was interesting, to me, because again, we don’t need to know what this means in the context of the 40k universe for it to have an impact – it was very much two parents worrying about their child getting shipped off to die on some distant battlefield.

It was very well written, with a fantastic feel of the classic noir detective story throughout. You could almost imagine Zidarov sat behind the frosted-glass door with his name on it, smoking a cigar while brooding on the case. No femme fatale here, but maybe that’s being kept for a later book, you know? Interestingly, the book is described as “An Agusto Zidarov Novel” as if we’ll be getting more, so hopefully there is something in the works for that, anyway!

Warhammer Crime

Varangantua is apparently the setting for at least a few more books in the subset, though, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the next one, Flesh and Steel, by Guy Haley. Another Black Library veteran, it sounds like this one might be a bit more 40k-y, as it features a probator working alongside the Adeptus Mechanicus. It’s on order, anyway, so I’m sure it won’t be too long before I’m back here with my thoughts on that one, too!

More New Warhammer!

Hey everybody,

At the weekend, we had the latest Warhammer preview, showing off some of the new stuff that’s coming up in 2021, and some of it is very exciting, to say the least! I really hope this year brings us some awesome new toys, because let’s be fair, it’s been pretty grim these last few months, and we currently don’t have any sort of end in sight…

First off, we have the Sisters of Battle version of the Nemesis Dreadknight. It’s a little silly looking, in particular when you try to imagine the dimensions of the pilot and imagine how long her neck must be. But new models are always cool, even when they’re not necessarily the new models you’d have hoped for. No Biker Sisters? Hm. I’m curious as to whether, between this and the Palatine model, we have enough to warrant a new Codex already? Will we be seeing even more new kits? Hm.

Next up for 40k is a new expansion for Kill Team, showing that skirmish 40k hasn’t entirely been abandoned. I believe that this set is in addition to the re-vamp promised for the system later in the year? I’m a little sad that it seems we may need to wait longer still before getting the Chronomancer and Flayed Ones as separate kits, though I guess it’s possible people might be splitting these sets on eBay.

On a separate note, I’m really pleased to see the Psychomancer up for preorder soon! It seems like ages since I wrote my Necrons list with that guy in there!

The new Kill Team box is likely going to be a pass from me, price depending, but it’s interesting to note that this bundle gives new players who picked up Indomitus, or any of the new starter sets, a nice little expansion to those armies while also getting a different sort of game. Nice one!

We’re off to the Mortal Realms now, however…

I am categorically not about to start an army of High Elves, but I think it’s really neat to see how GW have taken the old classic elf fantasy trope and combined it with something a bit more eastern/otherworldly, with these huge animal-spirit-type forces-of-nature thing they have going on. Very Studio Ghibli. The Teclis model is strange as all hell, for sure, but I do like these big mountain spirit things!

We’ve seen some of the Vampire previews doing the rounds, but finally the new Soulblight Gravelords are making an entrance into the game with a new warband for Warhammer Underworlds, and they do look very nice! Just to reiterate, I’m not about to start yet another new army, but I could see me picking up this warband, to actually try out this game!

We’ve recently seen the update for Warhammer Underworlds, with the Slaves to Darkness warband going up for preorder soon, and what looks like an Ossiarch Bonereapers warband coming up in May. Direchasm is shaping up to have a lot of nice warband options, that’s for sure! It’s definitely time that I tried this one out, I’m thinking!

The big news, for me, is this. We’ve got a new version of Warhammer Quest coming out, and it’s once again in the Mortal Realms. However, this one miniature has got me completely drawn in – I’ve been trying to calm myself in regards to buying new stuff, but look at that guy! If we think back to Silver Tower, and all of the Tzeentch-y weirdness that we had there, this has the potential for unspeakably good zombie minis along the lines of this gravedigger lad.

Time will tell, but this is definitely one to keep an eye on, as the miniatures design shown off in just this one guy, combined with everything they’ve doubtless learnt from Blackstone Fortress, will surely make for an incredible experience!

It vaguely surprises me how, in recent weeks, I’ve moved back into what I suppose is my first love from Games Workshop, the fantasy stuff. 40k is still up there, don’t worry, but I do find myself increasingly enamoured of the Age of Sigmar miniatures line, and I think going all-in on the Bonereapers army recently testifies to that.

I’ve been worried recently that my drive to hobby has been waning, in part due to lockdown stopping me playing games, but seeing stuff like this coming over the hill has started to fire me up once more!

Necromunda thoughts

Hey everybody,

I’m fresh from reading the anthology Uprising, so thought today that I’d come along and talk a bit about things in the Underhive!

The book is a little uneven, as with any anthology really, and is mainly built around the novella Low Lives, which is a tale of a conman in the ash wastes. The various short stories that make up the collection often feature the gangs from the miniatures line, and three of them actually involve some of the named characters that you can buy in glorious Forge World resin! I thought that was pretty neat. There are a lot of Orlock stories, with one Escher, one Cawdor, one Van Saar, and one Corpse Grinder Cult. Although the Escher story is more about the Palanite Enforcers and Servalen.

On the whole, I did enjoy the book, although I did only give it three stars on goodreads, mainly because where the stories weren’t so engaging, it became a chore to get through them.

I was also disappointed there were no Delaque short stories (though they are in the Van Saar tale, as the faceless pursuit).

I mean, it was okay, and I do enjoy getting to experience the Underhive in print, as well as plastic! I was very disappointed, though, by the fact that none of the stories really dealt with the idea of the Uprising as detailed in the Dark Uprising boxed set. Having the Enforcer on the cover also felt a bit like a red herring…

But never mind!

I’ve been fairly productive on the Necromunda front as regards the actual game, I must say!

I’ve been chipping away at the Delaque gang for a while now, and they’re definitely coming on, at last! Still got quite a bit to do around the weapons and bionics, but in the main I think it’s going fairly well!

I’ve built up a few more Van Saar, too! I’ve made good use of the weapons upgrades, but I have yet to actually start painting them. One step (or gang!) at a time, I guess!

I’ve also been working on building the Gang Stronghold up since Christmas, of course, and I’m very pleased with how it’s taking shape so far! Everything is fully modular, so each section of wall can be moved about to fit any kind of configuration, which is something that is nice! I’m not sure if I should try to glue things to make it a little more solid, particularly the corner piece at the 90-degree turn, but I think I’ll wait for now, and maybe play about with it all a bit more. The floor platform at the corner I mentioned can be supported with one of the many struts included in the set, so it doesn’t seem too bad.

I’m really excited to see how it fits together with the zone mortalis stuff from Dark Uprising, as I have a lot of the platforms left over, somehow, but they are all fully compatible, so it’ll be really interesting! I recently picked up another box of the stairs and platforms, so I’ve got a lot of plastic available to me now, for sure! It does look really good, I think, with the corner stairwell I’ve attached in the above photo, but I’m sure I could combine things to come up with yet more permutations!

I don’t think I’m about to create something quite as wonderful as the stuff being put out by Owen Patten, or Leonard Dime (Rapid Tabletop), however, but it should be nice, and allow me to create some very cool looking battlegrounds!

Excitingly, I’ve also managed to get another game of Necromunda in shortly after Christmas! I built up a Sector Mechanicus board, using the Kill Team boards and a bunch of terrain that I’ve had for years, and once more pitted my Van Saar against my Delaque! (We’re still locked down here, and my wife has no interest in 40k games, sadly!)

It was an absolute joy, I must say! I didn’t play with the additional rules for Sector Mechanicus boards that were published in the Book of Peril, mainly because I am still trying to keep the core rules clear in my head! I think I need to work on making a sort of ‘rules primer’ that will help in these situations, because I spent far too long flipping back and forth in the rule book.

During the game, I was controlling both sides equally, but wanted the Van Saar to come out victorious, as I still think of them as my first gang, and all. Well, it seemed like that dream would come to nought as the Delaque gangers were picking them off with ease. I rolled so many Out of Action results this game compared with last time, it was untrue!

Things looked really grim for Van Saar, despite constantly winning the roll off to act first each round. In the fifth or sixth round, they failed a Bottle Test and barely managed to make it through, passing the subsequent Cool check to act normally. And that was really the clincher, as the Leader was able to dispatch the remaining trench coats from his lofty perch with ease, but it absolutely came down to the last man standing!

Such an epic game!

And it’s such a great game, too! Playing solo like this is fine to scratch the itch, of course – if gets me rolling dice and playing with my plastic – but this kind of game had so many epic, cinematic moments in it that could easily form part of campaign legends, this is really where I miss being able to play with friends! Hopefully we’ll begin to see an end to the restrictions by the time my gangs are painted, though, and I can be bringing news of my campaigns in the Underhive to the blog!!

Hobby Goals 2021!

Here we go again, folks! It’s a new year, and the time is right to go through some of my goals for 2021, so we can see what I can accomplish in the next twelve months. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have on the books, and thought I would go through the inventory and see what I have to work through. So let’s get to it!

 https://www.instagram.com/p/CJb-xStHHRc/?igshid=11u1wvjkf55x4

I would like one of my main focuses for 2021 to be getting the Sisters into some form of playable shape. I’ve had the box since November 2019, of course, and was adding to it with some of the additional releases to come out at the top of 2020, but I’ve barely made any kind of dent in actually painting these models, so I really want to change that for 2021!

I’d drawn up a 500-point list back before the edition change, and everything has sneaked up to the point where I’m now quite a way over that! But rather than cut things, I’m planning to keep working to this until it’s done. 23 models shouldn’t be so insurmountable, I keep telling myself!

From here, I’m planning to expand outwards with Retributors and more Battle Sisters, as a start. I also want to get the rest of the contents of the box set finished up, although some of those feel like they’re a strange mix and I’m not all that sure how to integrate them into the rest of the army, but if nothing else, it will be good to have the whole thing finished off!

I’m very tempted to get the new Drukhari vs Sisters box coming out, but I’m holding back a little simply because I don’t really need all of the Drukhari side of it, having a massive amount of models for that army already. But another Immolator, and more Retributors, would be very nice – and I really want that Palantine model! I suppose that’s what is giving me pause, really; I’m sort of expecting it to be in the £80-£90 range from my FLGS, which would be about as much as the individual Sororitas kits would cost if you factor in the Palantine, so I’d essentially be getting the Drukhari half for free anyway. I guess we’ll see what happens in a few weeks when it’s released!

Speaking of Drukhari, though…

I recently took inventory of the dark kin that I have still to do things with, and was quite surprised at how many kits I still have! Top of the list for actually completing this year are Incubi and Drahzar, 5 more Wracks and the pair of Grotesques. I do actually need to treat myself to a third Grotesque soon, as that is the minimum unit size. Not a massive amount of models, this time! Other than this, then, I think I’d like to get some more models finished, like odd Kabalite Warriors that I have here, and perhaps another Venom or Raider. I’m not sure where I got to with the Scourges, either, so could do with taking a look there.

I probably need to inventory the actual force that I have! Back in the day, I had well over 3000 points fully painted, which should really get more outings! I think 8th edition put me off, to some extent, because I disliked having to force my list into Kabal, Coven or Cult. During the Index days, I enjoyed playing a mixed force, and I think 9th edition will be bringing that back, to some degree, so it’ll be interesting to see the sort of lists that can be done once the new codex drops!

What else?

I think I need to properly work out what I want to keep, from my Deathwatch, Tempestus Scions, Adeptus Mechanicus and Blood Angels forces (I know I’ve barely even started the latter!) I said back when 9th edition was landing, that I wanted to thin out a lot of the collection, and while I have taken some strides in that regard, I do need to try and be better! I’m thinking about wiping the slate clear with a lot of these small projects that have never really gotten off the ground, and just focusing myself where it matters! I keep getting suckered back in with the AdMech though, as I keep thinking how wonderful some of those models are! I might, therefore, just keep a token force to ally in with something like the Sisters, or the Grey Knights. While I’ve not really known what I want to do with everything, I’ve held off, but now I think it’s becoming quite clear that I ought to just cut down and focus on a few armies, rather than spreading myself so thin…

Larger collections of models include the Tyranids and Genestealer Cults, and I want to try and sort myself out here, as well. I’ve recently decided to thin out some of the Cult, as I was looking at far too many models there, but I am fairly certain that I’m not going to get rid of them as an army, as I love them as models so much. Of course, they were going to be my big army project for 9th edition, but that never really got off the ground, did it? I’m such a fan though, that they’ll no doubt be worked upon as time progresses!

The Tyranids were looking quite precarious at one point, but I enjoy those models a bit too much, also, so I think I’ll be keeping hold of those too – I want to try and play more with them, when that kind of thing is possible, as the couple of games that I have played with them were very interesting. Of course, I have the Grey Knights as a pure psyker army, but I do love the fact that the bugs have got a good mix, allowing for a nice balance during the game. Definitely need more time spent with the bugs, I think!

I also think that I had a fairly decent paint scheme for the Tyranids, easy to replicate across vast swathes of the things, but I did sort of stall back when my daughter was born, for obvious reasons! I think it would be good to get back into these guys, though, so hopefully I can make a bit more headway with these, too! It’s been nearly two years since my “Going Big With Tyranids” blog, but I think that will most likely form the jumping-off point.

I am in danger of making things a bit unbearable now, though – getting the Sisters army off the ground might turn into quite the task, after all, and I’ve not even mentioned the Necrons in this blog! At least the Sisters are the only project that has an actual list attached to them – Drukhari and Tyranids are just “paint up some random miniatures” for the time being!

Anyway, it’s probably time to enshrine some actual hobby goals for the year ahead!

Paint up the Sisters of Battle 500-point list (well, it’s a little more than 500 points, but the point stands!)

Finish up the Drukhari models – 5 Wracks, 3 Grotesques, 5 Incubi and Drahzar.

Paint up at least 2 Tyranid units, at least one of which is a big bug!

Continue rescuing Necron models – Triarch Praetorians, Canoptek Spyder, etc

Paint more Grey Knights! At least three more units, maybe a vehicle too.

Also paint more Chaos Marines! At least three units, and perhaps a bigger thing, as well.

Make a decision about the Scions, Deathwatch and AdMech models! Do I want to keep all of those Space Marines kits?

Paint more terrain – mainly for Necromunda, but also general 40k stuff.

In addition to all of this, I’d like to be less impulsive with buying stuff, and see if I can stick to only buying things that I want to actually use, etc. I’d also like to improve my painting, so I think I need to be better at doing it more often – not necessarily for the whole day, but try to do an hour more often in the week, than only one or two times in that week. I’m almost afraid to say this last one, given that we’ve just moved into full lockdown again, but I would like to play more often, and have more of a plan for when I do! I still tend to go in with the idea of “let’s see how this turns out”, so I think it could be good to get more of a game plan in place for when we are able to meet up with people once more!

So there we go! Let’s see where I stand this time next year!