Genestealer Cults in the Black Library!

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a long few weeks as I’ve been reading some Genestealer Cults stories – or re-reading, that should be, as I have actually read both of these before, I’ve just never talked about them on the blog! As I’m still on the Cult kick at the minute (although painting has stopped due to lack of brushes!) I thought it was appropriate to get in the mood, and all that!

Cult of the Warmason is first on the list, and shows a Cult uprising on the shrineworld of Lubentina while the besieged Sisters of Battle attempt to put them down. There is a lot of story here, as we see the battle sisters defend the Warmason’s cathedral against the cultists. The Warmason of the title, Vadok Singh, was the man who helped design the defences around the Imperial Palace on Terra during the Heresy. The Ministorum clerical staff refuse to call for aid until it is too late, and when they think that the Adeptus Astartes have arrived to answer their call, instead it is revealed that the Iron Warriors have arrived to reclaim one of the relics in the cathedral. The cathedral becomes a nexus of the fighting, as the Astra Militarum, the Sisters, the Cult and then the Iron Warriors all converge upon it. The Cultists get the relic first, and so the Iron Warriors follow them into the catacombs below the surface, followed closely by the Sister Superior while all goes to hell up above. The Iron Warriors confront the Patriarch of the Cult, and eventually recover the relic, which turns out to be one of Perturabo’s flawed creations. In keeping with their primarch’s wishes, the launch the device into the sun, and leave the planet. While the world burns, the Sister Superior escapes Lubentina with the genestealer infection…

Like I said, there is a lot of story here, and it almost needs more space to be told at times, as the narrative feels a bit like it jumps around a bit too much. I love the inertia of the ruling Ecclesiarchy and Ministorum council, and there is something wonderfully gothic and very 40k about the flashpoint being centred around a monumental cathedral. However, the story did feel a little bit like it shouldn’t have been constrained by a page count, which is something a lot of Black Library books almost have in common. Perhaps if the Iron Warriors storyline hadn’t been included, things would have had the room to breathe a bit more? I believe that plot links in to the Space Marines Battles novel Siege of Castellax, also by CL Werner, which is on my list to investigate at some point, so maybe I’ll think differently when I’ve read the background there!

However, I also think the novel suffers a little from comparisons with the next book that I read…

Cult of the Spiral Dawn is the rebranded novel from Peter Fehervari originally published as part of the Legends of the Dark Millennium series, back (I think) when the original Genestealer Cults codex came out at the end of 7th Edition. There are a lot of similar ideas to the Warmason book; Sisters of Battle and Astra Militarum fighting the Genestealer Cults uprising on a remote world, but there the similarities end. Spiral Dawn is somehow a lot more complex, and yet also a more compelling read. It starts with the genestealers besieging the abbey stronghold of the Sisters of the Thorn Eternal on the planet Redemption 219, then fast-forwards a century to the arrival on world of a group of pilgrims seeking the light of the Emperor through the Cult of the Spiral Dawn, an officially-sanctioned sect of the Imperial creed. However, when the pilgrims land, a hundred are pressganged into the Vassago Black Flags regiment of the Astra Militarum, who are on some obscure guard duty, though nobody has explained to them what they’re guarding. The tension mounts from the Imperial side, while we get some glimpses into the activities of the Cult and their kindred followers, until it all boils over with the emergence of the Primus war-leader. The colonel of the Black Flags is almost seduced by the Magus, but in so-doing he learns of the existence and location of the Spiral Father, and launches an assault with his ogryn bodyguard while the on-world Inquisition presence also launches its assault. Despite the carnage of the assault, three of the purestrains manage to escape Redemption for deep space…

Also included in here is Cast a Hungry Shadow, a short story that takes place within the narrative of the novel, dealing with the early years of the genestealer infestation and filling in some blanks around the betrayal of the Sisters. There are some interesting threads in the story, which felt a little confused towards the end, but ultimately it is the tale of the cult securing their hold on Redemption, the discovery of an untrained psyker hiding beneath one of the spires who is taken in by the genestealers to birth their Magus. There are some interesting scenes in the story, particularly involving another cult, called the Scorched Creed, which may or may not be a Chaos Cult dedicated to Khorne.  

I do think that Cult of the Spiral Dawn is one of my favourite 40k novels. I hadn’t really realised that I’d read it before – I mean, I knew that I’d read the Legends hardcover, but I didn’t remember which one that book was. It’s a really good story – some of it could perhaps do with a bit more meat for the bones, and help to further the atmosphere, but it’s still a really good story. It’s also my first exposure to Peter Fehervari’s Dark Coil … series? I’m not sure if you could call it that, but all of the 40k stories that he has written are linked in subtle ways, either with shared characters or worlds, etc. It’s an incredibly interesting way to write in a shared universe and carve out a niche without limiting yourself to staying in a random corner. The links in this book to the Fire and Ice novella, for example, give the sense of history without feeling forced, if that makes sense. It’s really good, anyway – I like it a lot! And will no doubt be investigating more of these stories in the not-too-distant future!

September Retrospective

Hey everybody,
Well, we are three-quarters of the way through 2021 now, and it seems pretty crazy to think that I wrote my January retrospective blog as potentially a one-off to cover all the random rubbish I’d been doing at the start of it all. It’s actually been a really great motivator, for me, to have these retrospective blogs now form a part of my monthly pattern, because it makes me want to do stuff to then report on at the end of the month. At any rate, September has been fairly busy for me, as I’ve had a couple of weeks off work that have enabled quite a bit of recreation – if you can call looking after two children under 2 “recreation”!

To start with, September is the month that I traditionally think of as my hobby month, as I have a lot of fond memories of really getting into the 40k thing way back when during this month. As such, I’ve tried to really recapture that essence, as far as the paternal duties would allow, and ended up with a fair few random projects on the go!

Let’s talk about my Zone Mortalis terrain progress first! I’m very pleased with this, and I think it’s all coming together really quite beautifully! I talked about the colour scheme that I’m using last month, so won’t go over that again here, but I’ve now expanded my repertoire into other bits like ladders and water tanks! The ladder was just painted Averland Sunset, shaded Agrax Earthshade, then drybrushed like everything else to give it that worn, lived-in look. The tank I’d wanted to paint orange, as I think it makes sense to have it follow the same pattern as the Water Guild big boy, but in the end it turned out more red. No matter, other tanks I’m thinking about painting different colours, anyway, so it’s not like it’s important to remember their colours. I’m very excited to get more terrain painted up – whether I end up getting more done by the end of the year, who can say, but to have any of it painted so far is, frankly, a miracle!

I’ve been doing odd bits with genestealers and have recently finished the Necron Triarch Praetorians, but my main focus has shifted to the Genestealer Cults, as I have decided that I really want to get some of these things painted up, finally! I’ve been working on ten Neophyte Hybrids this month, and slowly but steadily I have almost got the squad finished – a huge achievement, considering the amount of detail on them! They’re tiny, and the scheme that I’m following doesn’t allow for speed painting when it comes to these chaps – the armour, the fatigues, the cloth, the padding, the weapons, the skin (actual skin, and carapace), the dangly-doodads, it’s all just so time consuming!

But I think I’m really getting somewhere now, having finished the first of my ten-man squad, and I’m ready to move on to my next project in the list! Since writing the linked blog, however, I’ve reorganised all of my Cultist miniatures, and have a different ten-man squad make-up, so there are ten more shotguns coming my way soon! Once all the Neophytes are done, though, I should have a fairly straightforward task of finishing off the Metamorphs and the Truck, so I think I can definitely get this first part of the list painted up and ready by Christmas. Ready for what, precisely, I’m not yet sure, but still – it’ll be ready!

I’ve been generally immersing myself in 40k across the month, anyway, and have been enjoying myself immensely. I finally picked up the Drukhari Codex as well, and have been investigating that to build my first proper list for that army in 9th edition. I think Necrons are still edging out the Dark Eldar in my affections for 9th edition, though I am definitely looking forward to playing both armies when the time comes. I’m at that point in the year where I’m now thinking about what I can accomplish prior to the year-end, and in addition to the GSC, I’ve got 5 Wracks and 3 Grotesques on my radar. Though everything is a time-sink, so we’ll have to see how things pan out!

GenCon surprised me this month by, well, taking place! I always thought it was August, but I guess the pandemic has been causing chaos. There hasn’t been a great deal of anything that is exciting me, if truth be told, but I think that could be symptomatic of my relationship with the whole board game scene right now. I wrote a very long ramble about that yesterday, but basically I feel like Kickstarter games have been taking over somewhat, and I’m increasingly disappointed in how FFG have diminished over the years. GW have put in a decent showing at GenCon, announcing a few exciting projects that has my wallet in palpitations.

I do feel like I have been quite gloomy on the board game front, but it’s not really the case! I’m hoping to get in a game day with my buddy Tony some time in October, and I also have plans to once again check out the Hellboy board game, after thinking on that one quite a bit of late, also. So there should be some interesting bits and pieces coming to the blog in the coming weeks! I’ve also finally been able to pick up In Too Deep for the Arkham Horror LCG, so I am thinking about an Innsmouth campaign for the autumn – assuming that I have the time, of course!

All in all, it hasn’t been that bad a month – fingers crossed that I can keep up the pace into the final quarter!

Codex: Drukhari

Hey everybody,
I have finally got my hands on the Drukhari Codex for 9th edition! It feels like it’s been an age, though I suppose not playing games has meant there has been very little need for it. But with potential games on the horizon, I think it is time to start looking at my largest model collection to see how I can work things in the new edition. (I keep saying “new”, even though it’s been out well over twelve months now, simply because I haven’t had a chance to play properly yet!)

Oh my goodness, this book is complex!

I mean, when you sit down to properly read through, it’s fine, but when you first pick it up and take a look at the battle-forged rules, my goodness it’s wordy! I think this is really symptomatic of the new edition, because they have tried to make a rule set that is clear for organised play, it becomes very litigious, rather than reading like the rules to a game. True, that game is complex, but I thought 8th edition was a great big sigh of relief after the overly-fussy 7th edition, and while we haven’t gone back that far, it does need you to sit down and get your head around it to properly take it all in!

The Drukhari Codex is still split into three separate factions – Kabal, Coven and Cult – but when I first came to read up on how the army works now, it felt like some drastic changes had occurred! Not so, just a tidying-up of the rules, I suppose. Upon reflection, the way these rules are presented is actually quite neat, as well. The relics, stratagems and warlord traits unique to specific Obsessions are now grouped together on a single page each, rather than having a page of traits, a page of stratagems, etc. It does help to make things feel somehow more cohesive, once you realise that’s what they’ve done in the book.

To start with, you can still do the three Patrol detachment thing, and the cost for doing so is 0CP. There is a new Realspace Raid detachment rule, which gives a new keyword to the units that allows for a greater cohesion across the army, even though you’ve mixed in all three factions. The only stipulation is that the Archon must be the Warlord, but that’s a flavour win so I can’t see why you wouldn’t.

Something I really like is that you can upgrade each of the faction HQs to a Master – Master Archon, Master Succubus, Master Haemonculus – for a few extra points. This unlocks relics and warlord traits for them, as well as giving a new ability, and excitingly, it also unlocks “favoured retinues”, which allows you to upgrade Kabalite Warriors to Trueborn (for the Archon), Wyches to Hekatrix Bloodbrides (for the Succubus), and Wracks to Haemoxytes (for the Haemonculus). These retinue units have better stat lines and a special ability, but they don’t get access to more special weapons as was the case in 7th edition, so no Blasterborn or any similar shenanigans! I’m kinda fascinated by the Haemoxytes though, as they’re a new idea to me!

So the exciting thing now is that you can make a mixed force and call it a Realspace Raid, provided that you have the three separate HQs and a unit each of the basic troops, and the Archon is your Warlord. They even give you a two-page spread example of how a Battalion detachment might look in this instance, to further hammer the point home. A minimum-sized points investment for doing this would be 335 points, after which you’re free to fill up the army however you want. Doing this means that all the Kabal units still gain Kabal Obsessions, and so on, so it’s really quite a useful way of building an army, so long as you’re playing a points limit that can accommodate that initial outlay.

As far as army-wide rules go, Power from Pain and Combat Drugs are still a thing, Insensible to Pain is there, and Poisoned Weapons haven’t changed since the last edition, either. A new rule, Blade Artists, seems to be pretty much across the whole force, and improves AP by 1 for melee weapons on an unmodified 6, which is quite nice! Especially as there are a lot of weapons with AP in the melee list, from the start!

So let’s get down to business, and see what kind of list I have put together…

I’m currently just aiming for 1500 points, and the main theme behind this list is getting to grips with 9th Edition! I know that I should be thinking a bit more critically about some things, and protecting stuff like the Incubi and the Wyches more with transports, but I think that will come with 2000 points. I still like to have a core Kabal in there, which is why I’ve gone for two lots of Kabalite Warriors with Raiders. A hugely exciting development is that the transport capacity for Raiders and Venoms has been upped to 11 and 6, respectively, meaning that HQs can travel with their troops now! So the Archon and Haemonculus will each be in a Raider and Venom, respectively, with a bodyguard type of unit, leaving the poor Incubi, Wyches and Succubus to foot-slog up the board. But I’m thinking that the melee units could potentially be kept back for objective-sitting, with the flying stuff causing chaos elsewhere.

Splinter racks have changed now, so they no longer give exploding 6s but instead allow rapid fire weapons to treat the target as being within half-range, so I’m not 100% sure on keeping them as an auto-include now, but I think – as with a lot of this list – I want to play with these things, to see how it works out. I’ve also put grisly trophies on all my vehicles, as they give -2 leadership to enemy models within 3″, and I’m thinking about using the No Mercy, No Respite secondary objective, which gives VPs for each model that flees the battle each round. I’ve not previously leaned into the fear aspect of the Drukhari, but it’s something I think might be nice to look into, now that there is such a tasty objective on offer there!

Of all the Cult units, I think Reavers are the ones I’ve used most often, and have enjoyed most consistently. I think I can see them being quite deadly in the game, as well, with 10 attacks from the unit, the grav-talon to dish out mortal wounds on the charge, but also the firepower they can boast before close combat. They all have pistols to shoot while in combat as well, and I’ve given them the +1 Toughness drug, so any retaliation will come at T5, which can be quite difficult!

Scourges are a unit that I only really started to appreciate towards the end of 8th edition, mainly because of the possibility of having 4 splinter cannons dropping down from the sky on top of people. Splinter cannons have changed now, from Rapid Fire 3 to Heavy 3, so they aren’t necessarily as good as they once were. That said, again I would like to play with them first, and get a feel for how things work in the new edition before dropping them. I do feel like I might be going for fewer specialised weapons in my lists, going forward!

So there we have it, anyway, my first Drukhari list of 9th edition. I’m hoping that I can actually get to play in another couple of weeks, albeit I’m not sure if a 1500 point game would be on the cards quite yet! But you never know. Hopefully soon, I’ll be talking about how this list performed on the tabletop, anyway!

Back to the Cult

Hey everybody,
After my rambling talk about the Tyranids last month, I have naturally veered off into the Genestealer Cults once again! Typical, huh? However, I’m hoping that this is going to be something a little bit different. I know, I’ve been here before, talking about projects and never getting anywhere with any of them! But hear me out, it’s not about to be another blog where I over-commit to stuff and end up with virtual egg on my face.

I love the Genestealer Cults – the lore is fantastic, and some of my favourite in the whole 40k universe. The models are amazing, and I’ve talked many times about how the Neophyte Hybrids are the best-looking troops in the entire line.

I want to take it slow, though. All too often, I’ve had thoughts about building an army, starting with just a small force, then adding on from there, but then before I even put brush to plastic, I’m planning the next stage, and the next one, and it becomes a nonsense! I’ve done this with Chaos and, to a lesser extent, Sisters. I know that life is different for me now, but I do sometimes think back to the glory days of 7th edition, when I just bought a Dark Eldar army and, pretty much in 6-7 months had the majority of it fully painted! I’ve churned out many a list for the Cult, but still haven’t really gotten anywhere with the army – so it’s time for that to change!

I’ve got so many models for this army, and have been faffing about with them for what feels like centuries now, after all. So after some rumination for a while, I’ve decided that I need to get my finger out and actually finish off some of these miniatures. I have given it all some thought, anyway, and have come up with a 500-point list (of 9th edition points) using the miniatures that I already have built and ready – and in some cases, almost finished. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to start things off with 500 points, but I’m a lot more hopeful this time! In theory, at least, it should be a fully-functioning list for Combat Patrol, the 500-point format, while also providing a useful core from which to build out further. Because of course I’m going to be going huge with these guys!

The thing with this army, of course, is how cheap some of the stuff is, which turns things into a bit of a horde feel, hence why I’ve amassed so many of them! But with such detailed models, it does end up scaring me a little. I mean, 60 Neophytes must be a delight to see finished on the tabletop, but getting there – jeez!

The Primus is my current warlord, the trait giving the enemy -1 to hit on shooting attacks against him, and the relic allowing him to do mortal wounds at the end of the charge (plus a 4+ invuln!) I say ‘current’ because I really want to have a Patriarch at the heart of this army and, under the current rules at least, the Patriarch must be the warlord when he’s included.

I’ve talked before about my dreams of having a Hybrid Metamorph bomb go off, and I’ve got the beginnings of this here, with the five guys plus the Primus. I’m giving them the Goliath Truck, rather than including the Magus for psychic stuff, to help deliver them into combat. My one and only game with the army, back between lockdowns in July 2020, saw me mess up the sequencing with them and it really didn’t come to pass, because they were shot off the board before anything could really happen. Not this time, though! Of course, I’m still largely working with models that I built before I really knew what I wanted from them, back when 7th edition was still a thing, so I might yet revisit them and change things up. But that could well be a task for when the Codex drops.

My main preoccupation here is going to be the Neophytes, I think. They’re just such good looking models, I really want to try and nail these troops so that I have a nice workable backbone for the army. I’m actually considering massive units of 20 models when the time comes for some big games, but I suppose we’ll see. They’re one of my favourite units though, visually, and so I definitely want to use them in the force.

The list, then, consists of 32 models (32 models in a 500-point match sounds like a lot, but they’re really quite poor in terms of survivability, remember, everything has a 5+ save and toughness 3, so it’s not like I’m going with an elite force here! My plan is simply to make sure I get this list finished before the New Year. I’m not saying I need to focus solely on these guys, particularly as I have a few other bits and pieces that I’m currently working on, but I’m kinda throwing everything else out the window now, so long as I finish these models I’m gonna be happy. I can still paint some Necrons, some terrain etc, but I want to get these guys done. Then I might look at painting up the next chunk by Easter, and on it goes!

At several points, I’ve mentioned expanding the force. Now, I think my problem in the past has always been to write out a full 1500 point list, or whatever, and because everything is so cheap, I end up looking down the barrel of about 100 models to paint, and it just turns me off. If ever there was an army designed for the slow-grow, this was surely it! But I hope that by taking it in slow chunks, I can actually stand a chance of getting it finished! But I’m not going to focus on them to the exclusion of all else, either, in the hope of keeping the project fresh for me – because even taking it in chunks, there’s a lot of models to paint!!

I’m not abandoning my Tyranids either, and fully intend to carry on painting those chaps along the way! I think, at the minute, I’m happy to just bumble along and paint up what I can, I’m not trying to rush and get my bugs finished as well. The Cultists have been languishing for so long though, they really do need some love.

And the lore is just so damn good, too, you know? I might have to do another blog about that soon…

August Retrospective

Hey everybody,

August has been and gone, and it’s time to look forward to an autumn with the hobby, usually! Hopefully there won’t be anymore lockdowns happening of course, though with a 10-week old baby to look after, I’m not exactly sure how much I’ll get to do! She’s been quite poorly of late, as well, which hasn’t been much fun for anyone. Fingers crossed for a much more exciting September, anyway!

I’ve found myself in a curious place, lately, where I’ve not really been in the mood to read. Part of this is, I’m sure, because I find it awkward to hold the smaller person and also a book, so have spent a lot of the summer just not reading anything. However, this month I picked up The Rising Storm, the second book in the High Republic series. Well, it’s the second book in the ‘adult’ series; there are YA and junior books in the mix, as well as comics and now audio dramas, but I don’t have the energy to keep up with it all, if I’m honest. The Rising Storm has, so far, been pretty good – there’s definitely the feeling that I’m in the middle of a series (I believe this is only a trilogy, though I could be mistaken), but even so, I’m about 150pp in, and I’m enjoying it!

I’m in a Facebook group for Star Wars novels, and I kinda feel like I should just come out of it, as the opinions in there seem to be wild and I don’t know that I really get all that much out of it. I mean, a lot of the time, if I’ve spoken of my distaste for anything (the Darth Bane trilogy, in particular, sticks out here), it’s almost like a red flag to be lynched, or something. I dunno, anyway, but the latest High Republic book seems to be getting panned in the group, and I’m just a bit down on them all!

I haven’t mentioned the Arkham Horror LCG for a while, as I haven’t been able to play it since I ran through the Return to Night of the Zealot a few months ago, but after trundling on down to my local game store last week, I’ve been able to order a copy of In Too Deep, and have also discovered that the first part of the Edge of the Earth expansion is due imminently, giving us the investigator cards. So that’s all exciting stuff, especially as I’ll finally have the Innsmouth campaign in its entirety!

I think I’m going to save the box for later in the year, anyway. I’m in no rush to play with the new cards, as I have a ton of cards I’ve still never used, after all, so it would make a nice birthday/Christmas present!

This month seems to have been about Warcry in a big way, though. I wrote up a long and rambling post earlier in the month, talking about what I like about it, and where it could be going etc, as well as another post commenting on the downloadable content GW have put out, with a dash of speculation on the future of the game, after the hints of there being exciting news on the horizon. In the middle of these, I also took a look at the Tome of Champions 2020, which had an awesome narrative campaign included. The more that I’ve dived in to Warcry, the more impressed I am with the breadth of content available. I mean, all that free stuff on the Warhammer Community site looks fantastic, and the work that must go into those Tomes is phenomenal. If Necromunda wasn’t a thing, this could be the best!

I’m very pleased to say that I’m almost finished painting the Unmade now – I was hoping to have finished the whole warband, but there are maybe 2 models still to paint the metals. I think I’ve managed to do quite well with the tasteful blood spatter and so on, and I’m very pleased with how the bases are a good match for the main board in Warcry – the old Lustrian Undergrowth texture paint, which I bought a load of back in the day, drybrushed with Administratum Grey. Very effective, in my opinion!

Oh, and I’ve also been building up the Catacombs stuff! I’ve built up the dungeon terrain, and the Scions of the Flame warband, and have had an abortive game with it. I wasn’t entirely excited by it all, if I’m honest, but I want to have a full game with it before I form a proper opinion of it all. Stay tuned for that, of course!

In addition to Warcry though, it’s also been all about the new Kill Team!

This is especially true of the bank holiday weekend, when I finally picked the box up and had the opportunity to get some of it built. Who knows when I’ll be able to actually do anything more with it, of course! I’m going to try and take the opportunity to keep building it up though, and see how far I can get with actually painting it all up, as well. So far, 10 Death Korps of Krieg models have been built, and they look beautiful!

For a long time during the month, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it – the price, more than anything, had me wondering if I wouldn’t be better-off using my money on stuff I already play and enjoy etc, rather than buying into yet another game from GW. In the event, my initial thoughts of it being pretty much a board game have won out and I took the plunge, as I have no plans to start an Imperial Guard or Ork army! I am going to keep this as a boxed game, I think, though of course I’ll probably end up buying some add-ons as and when!

The subject of add-ons is an interesting one, of course, because I do find myself idly wondering where they’re going to go from here, specifically. We know we’re getting new Kill Zones per quarter, but does each quarter simply have a new big box and then some articles in White Dwarf? Or can we expect an expansion-type deal in a month or so, where we get Elites or Commanders? Death Korps Commissar, be still my heart! I firmly believe that we’ll see an expansion with more regular 40k models from here on out, and while initially I’d thought we could be seeing new units for existing armies, as the initial rumours seemed to suggest we’d be getting a new Sisters unit for the rumoured Sisters vs Tau box, I’m now thinking that we will most likely be getting re-packs with, perhaps, an upgrade frame. This is basically how the Krieg models work – the two main A sprues are the 10 infantrymen, with the B upgrade sprue having specific fancy parts. There are still fancy parts on A, but stuff like the medic on B is a lot more involved than the medic on A, if you see what I mean. So I could see a box of 10 Sisters being packed along with an upgrade frame to give access to more weapons (though the Sisters, being dual-purpose with Dominions and Celestians, already have a good breadth of bits available to them). There are quite a few kits that exist in the 40k range that would very easily port over, and if they were to just throw in some Sector Imperialis sprues as well, you’d quite easily have the bulk of a new box, right there.

It’s not all been about skirmish games though! I’ve started to think about my Tyranids again, and have been planning up my next steps to getting that army up to scratch. I’ve mainly been trying to recapture my paint scheme, because I didn’t make a note of it anywhere (like a fool!) I think I’ve been able to deduce that I used Death World Forest for the green, and I think Straken Green might be involved as a highlight; the carapace is definitely Rakarth Flesh, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and highlighted with Ushabti Bone (and possibly Screaming Skull). I’m working on some genestealers while I recover the scheme, anyway, though I’ve seen online a potentially easier way of doing this with Contrasts, which might work for the gaunts, so I want to try that at some point.

I’ve been painting some of the walls from the Dark Uprising set for Necromunda, as well, and I’m really pleased with the results! This is a fairly quick scheme that I’ve seen on a facebook group a couple of months ago. Spray the model with Mechanicus Standard Grey, then paint the inner arch bits with Tallarn Sand. Shade the whole thing with Agrax Earthshade, then drybrush Dawnstone and Deepkin Flesh, and that’s basically it! The details will obviously vary, but for the metalwork I’ve been painting the silver Leadbelcher, and the copper Castellax Bronze, all shaded with both Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade. It’s intentionally patchy and crappy, because I’m trying to make it look gross! I’ve then gone in and dabbed some Dryad Bark along the bottom as kicked-up dirt, and in places (though it isn’t always apparent) I’ve put some Athonian Camoshade to simulate moss/mould. It does work better on a lighter stone, but never mind. As a base, I’m quite pleased, but there’s always room for improvement and adding in some details, but for now it’s definitely good to see the walls coming together! I’m looking forward to getting more of the zone mortalis structures painted, the stairs and things, and seeing the whole hive come together!

As I said up at the top, September is very much a hobby-focused month for me, as I harken back to the good old days when I was first discovering 40k in a big way, so I’m excited to see what I could possibly accomplish on that front – here’s hoping next month’s retrospective blog will be choc full of good stuff!

Kill Team 2021

Hey everybody,

After a weekend devoted to attempting to understand the rules for the new version of Warhammer 40k: Kill Team that just came out, I thought I’d ramble for a bit on the blog here, with some thoughts and first impressions. I haven’t played any games yet – hell, I’ve barely had time to start building models – so all of this is just my rambling conjecture, really!

I think it’s important to note, first of all, that this game is a completely different and new iteration of Kill Team, and one that does not form a low bar of entry into regular 40k. It is its own game system, and I think it’s much better for it. Sure, I got confused as much as anyone when I first picked this up, but I’m getting my head wrapped around it now, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

I think one of the biggest changes comes from how you build your team. Points have all gone, and instead your faction choice dictates pretty much your roster. It’s not as straightforward as all that, but it is still very prescriptive. I don’t have the Compendium that has been released, to allow for all the “regular” unit choices from 40k to be played here, but I understand that, broadly speaking, each faction has a set number of “fire teams”, which are built from specific models, and you can’t simply throw together a team based on a whim. For example, it seems to be the case that Necron Warriors and Immortals aren’t on the same fire team anymore, so potentially won’t be in the same game.

That said, the campaign book that was released in the box has the rules for Death Korps and Kommandos – and these rules are both interesting and involved! For Death Korps, you get to build a single team of 10 guys, but can pick from a long list of role types. You get a plethora of additional rules to make use of. Which is a bit overwhelming at first, especially as you’ll need to get to grips with it all before you start. It just serves to illustrate how the Compendium is the Index of this game, and I suppose the promise of lots more boxes as the game develops makes sense, now!

I’ve surprised myself by getting a complete Krieg team built this weekend! I’m going purely for the rule of cool on these chaps, fully in the knowledge that I want to pick up another box when they’re released separately. I’ll probably build a couple more special ones, but I really like the look of these as basic troops, and it kinda fits the narrative in my head of having less of a ‘special’ squad with fancy weapons, rather just having a regular team that has been thrown into this situation of clearing out an Ork infestation.

The rules, as stated earlier, are very different to previous iterations, and from regular 40k, too. There are three parts to each turn (which itself is called a Turning Point), of which there are four per game. The initiative phase is where initiative is decided, oddly enough, then the strategy phase acts much like 40k’s command phase, where you get your command points and can play strategic ploys – one of two types of ploy, the other being tactical ones. These are basically stratagems from 40k, and each team has a suite of them that they can use. During the strategy phase, you also get to reveal TacOps – secondary objectives – which score you additional victory points outside of the scope of the mission being played.

Lastly, there is the firefight phase, where the actual model stuff happens! There are 9 different actions available to models, which have limits on how many actions they can take. The Krieg guys all have 2 action points to spend, and stuff like move, shoot, pick up and fight all costs one action point. Very nice.

Movement is still measured in inches, but there is a symbol-based system that has been the subject of much debate online, so I’m not going to go heavily into it here. I do kinda like the way having this symbol-based thing can be used, as you move in straight-line increments of whatever your move value is – 3⚪️ is 6”, but you move in blocks of 2”. There’s a nuance there that comes from playing, I imagine.

Combat is very interesting, especially hand-to-hand combat. Basically, both fighters roll together, and the defender can try to parry the successful hits from the attacker, simulating real-time combat in a way that I’ve not seen in games before. Very interesting, indeed!!

As normal for GW games, there are the three ways to play, with narrative play seeming to get the best deal here. Referred to as Spec Ops, there are rules for specialists that we had in the last version of the game, although the talent tree style has been replaced with a battle honours system that basically nets the operative more rules from a list of six available within that specialism. It’s perfectly serviceable, though does lack that sense of progression the old system had. The exciting thing here, though, is that you have rules to create your own HQ! The meat and potatoes of the narrative style is the Spec Ops themselves, though – ten missions, for want of a better term, that give you a structure to what your kill team is trying to achieve. Each one has two objectives, which must be completed in order – but that’s not to say you only have to play a pair of games! The first one objective of each requires you to play five games and score victory points from accomplishing certain things. It’s similar to Warcry, in that you’re trying to tell your own story through your narrative, and you aren’t tied in to a group or anything.

The Octarius book builds on this by providing a whole bunch of faction-specific rules, including unique Spec Ops for those teams to complete. It seems very much that this edition of Kill Team is aimed at the narrative end, although you can of course play matched play games if you want – I’m just not sure how much fun they’d be.

Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this version of Kill Team. It isn’t tied to the main 40k system anymore, which seems like it might outlast 9th edition. I know a lot of people are a little salty that it no longer provides a gateway into 40k, but that’s kinda the point now. Kill Team is its own thing, and will usher in fans via the models and the overall grim dark world and theme, but Combat Patrol is now clearly the way forward for small-scale 40k. Kill Team is its own game, one that looks like it will have its own model range that can almost coincidentally be used in main-line 40k.

Should be really interesting to watch this one as time goes on.

New Kill Team unpacked

It’s here! It’s pretty fantastic too, I must say! Daddy duties have kept me from immediately tearing into the box, and building up these new models, but from looking through the sprues, this box is just awesome. Both kill teams look utterly stunning, the level of detail on each team really is off the charts. The plastic Death Korps look every bit as detailed as the Forge World resin originals, and out of everything in here, these are the guys that I’m looking forward to the most. But even the Orks look pretty damn good, and that’s coming from me as someone who has never wanted to build or paint an Ork model in my life! The terrain does look a bit chunky, and a bit flat, but it’s still highly detailed and full of character. Very impressive!

I’ve been flicking through the books, and it feels like there’s a lot to take in, probably because it’s such a departure from what I’m used to with 40k, etc. I am a big fan, anyway, and I’m really excited to see how this game is supported, going forward. That sounds like I’m forever looking to the next big thing, and you might wonder just why I don’t take the time to appreciate and explore the current release! Well, I fully intend to, don’t you worry! I suppose it’s more idle curiosity, given that we know GW intend to put out new sets once a quarter. Is there anything else coming for Octarius? Or is it literally just four big boxes like this per year? I am intrigued! 🤔

Quarterly releases feel a bit like the schedule might get rushed. I mean, it could take me three months just to build everything in this box! I think I’d rather a slower pace, but if this box is it, and there’s no expansion for, say, Death Korps Commissars to come out next month, then at least we know what we’re dealing with.

The box has a campaign book, in which we find the rules for the fighters included here. I believe that the sprues included in the box have all of the parts to allow you to assemble a single kill team of each faction, although I could totally see myself buying a second box – indeed, Death Korps teams can consist of a leader and either 9 regular troopers or 9 fancy specialists, or a mix thereof. With a roster having a maximum of 20 operatives from which to draw your team, it kinda makes sense to me to build up two boxes’ worth and get every configuration. Smart move, GW!

The model rules coming in the campaign book is very interesting to me, because I feel like future sets might be smaller, for instance sold without the terrain. I suppose big boxes are a big part of their sales model right now, though, so I am likely to be priced out of this game soon enough! I thought the original Kill Team model of expansion was a brilliant way to sell the game, but this time they definitely seem to be veering more down the notion of bespoke teams, with those ‘compendium kill teams’ appearing almost bland by comparison. Rumours are already swirling about the next box being a new Sisters unit vs Tau Pathfinders, with an upgrade sprue for the latter to, presumably, allow for multiple weapon options. Interesting notion, for sure, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m beginning to sound a bit down on the whole thing, though, and that’s really not my intention. I am very much looking forward to getting my teeth stuck in to the new Kill Team, so stay tuned as I hopefully learn the ropes and – who knows? – get to try out the new edition!!

Could it be Tyranids?

Hey everybody,
With the world opening up now, and I’m potentially inching closer towards sanity once more on the parenthood front, I’ve been talking about 40k once again with my buddy JP, and the potential for games maybe this autumn. Possibly. September/October time is forever set in my heart as the time of year, all those moons ago, when I first got into the grim darkness of the far future, and while traditionally it might be more closely associated with the Necrons, I do also have a very strong attraction to the Tyranids, who were getting a fairly substantial plastic update at the time. Ah, memories!

With the current storyline set in the Octarius sector, with Tyranids and Orks going up against each other, it’s got me thinking about my own bug list from years gone by, and how I think the time has come to get some serious effort in with these chaps.

Massive dioramas like these don’t really help the cause, either!

It looks like the upcoming War Zone book, Rising Tide, is set to provide an update for the faction much like Blood of Baal did during the Psychic Awakening series, although I don’t remember hearing much in the way of good things there! The recent article up on the Warhammer Community site seems to be starting strong though, with a look at the synapse ability. In 8th Edition, synapse just allowed models within 12″ of a creature with synapse the ability to auto-pass morale tests, as well as making shooting more accurate for units within 24″ of them. Now, however, synapse creatures are getting their own unique abilities, which sounds quite nice! They’re a bit like these relic abilities that you can give to certain characters as upgrades – my only frame of reference is for Necron Crypteks, but I’m sure there’s a more commonly-used term! So Broodlords give nearby models the benefit of cover, and Neurothropes give nearby models fear-like effects, for the cost of a few points. What’s more interesting is that synapse creatures extend each others’ ranges, so if another synapse unit is within range of a buffed synapse creature, units within range of that unit will also get the benefit, even though they may be outside the range of the original buffed creature.

Interesting…

So what about my list?

I have quite a few Tyranid units built up these days, and some of them are even painted! I know! I think I’ve only played one game with them – possibly two, though it/they happened shortly before my eldest was born, and those pre-children times are quite hazy now!

Initially, I’d intended my Tyranid list to be predominantly big bugs, with just a few bits and pieces that would form something of the bulk. I’d mainly thought about carnifexes, tyrannofexes, hive tyrants and so on, without the need for painting swarms of termagants and so on. Well, once I’d played that first game, I think the need for more bodies quickly became clear! It’s all well and good having some big chaps along, but if they get picked off (my carnifex, I seem to recall, performed admirably in true “distraction” style, and died before doing anything) there’s much less you can do with your guys.

I also have a lot of genestealers, from a variety of sources, so that helps!

Adjusting for 9th edition, the army that I brought with me back in 2019 is somewhere in the region of 1300 points (it wasn’t quite to the level that I’d originally hoped!). It’s gone up quite a lot, mainly I suppose because of the amount of adrenal glands that everyone is using. However, the list was made very much with the multiple detachment style of 8th edition in mind, and of course we’re now free from those restraints, so I’ve been looking at mixing things up a bit!

I’m going for a 1500-point list, but I’m leaving myself a cushion at the moment with which to potentially pay for some of those tasty upgrades that I mentioned. So the core of this is basically the list I used last time. No Termagants, but another bunch of Genestealers (I said I have lots!) as well as the pair of Carnifexes and the Maleceptor as some pretty hefty creatures. I think I had a Trygon in here last time, but the cost is just too much for me at the minute, with all the other increases. I could probably drop some of the adrenal glands, but I do just love the mental picture of a carnifex running up the field and smashing into the enemy, followed up the field by a whole bunch of other warrior organisms. Wonderful stuff, for sure!

I’m playing Hive Fleet Gorgon, so that lets me re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the fight phase. As such, I want to get as many people into close combat as possible, particularly the genestealers and carnifexes. I’m paying for guns on the warriors and feel like they’ll be a waste in combat, but I guess we’ll have to see. As far as psychic abilities go, I’m still not entirely sure how to get the best out of the bugs, but I’m hoping that I have a decent-enough spread to help me out!

Interesting choice, perhaps, but I’m giving the warlord slot to the Broodlord. Of the three HQ options, he’s pretty much the middle of the road slot, and given the warlord trait wants him to be in the thick of the fray, you’d think I’d have instead gone for the Hive Tyrant with that trait, as he’s a much tankier unit. His relic will increase his toughness to 6 after the first fight phase in which he takes a wound, though, and with 6 wounds anyway, with a 5+ invuln, I’m hoping that I can pick my battles well enough that he is either going to do well, or survive enough that he can wreck face. The warlord trait only affects enemy units within 1″, though, so my initial idea of having him screened by genestealers (to which he gives +1 to hit rolls) won’t quite work.

It’s quite exciting, I think, having this little project to return to. I’ve not really painted up a lot of these guys so far, but from having started to paint those few models already, I seem to recall it’s a fairly quick and easy scheme to do. So I’m hoping that, as time allows, I’ll be able to get a fair few more miniatures painted up and ready for the gaming table!

As always, stay tuned for more excited rambling as Project Tyranids gets underway!!

What a weekend!

Kill Team: Octarius has gone up for preorder, and it looks pretty sexy, I have to say. I’ve put my order in at my local store, so I’m hoping I won’t be in for any disappointment in a couple of weeks. I do like the look of the box – even though I’m not an Ork fan, I think it looks like a cracking game and I’m very excited to get my hands on it!

It’s also been really interesting to see the news that Kill Team will be supported, going forward, with new ‘seasons’, for want of a better word, every three months. That feels almost too much, if they’re all going to be launched with a big box like this, but maybe the big box route is how GW is modelling their business now. Seems like they’re getting to grips more with the idea of actual pre-orders rather than adding a week on to your delivery time, with how they’re doing this made-to-order thing if they sell out. In my opinion, that’s how they should be producing every “event box” from now on.

However, there’s nothing to say that some of these ‘new season’ boxes won’t be strict repackages of existing stuff. Will they be able to produce so much new stuff to such a schedule? Why not just stick some Sector Imperialis terrain in with some Battle Sisters and some Tau Pathfinders, and job done! No massive design outlay, there!

Word on the street, of course, is that the release model will mimic Warcry and give us fairly unique, new teams that will have normal 40k rules, but will be primarily for Kill Team. Furthermore, the next box is already rumoured to be Sisters vs Tau. Given that Sisters have had a lot of releases recently, something just tells me that the release model just isn’t going to be purely new teams, but there will be those elements ported over from 40k where it makes sense. I guess we’ll see, of course, but yeah, it feels a bit off to say that we’re getting yet more plastic Sisters good stuff.

I would love to get the odd special box every once in a while, though – perhaps along the lines of Pariah Nexus, where the KT box is used to launch a new plastic unit from an existing army? Eldar, maybe your time is coming?

Speaking of what’s coming, the new codex road map for the rest of the year has been revealed, showing Black Templars as coming up, with a new Primaris Emperor’s Champion being shown off as well. Tyranids seem to be a strong option for their book coming, with a lot of people expecting Imperial Guard as well, though a persistent rumour of an Imperial Agents book has got me quite intrigued!

I guess time will tell! I’m looking forward to getting some of this good stuff – September seems to have become my traditional time of the year for really reconnecting with 40k, so after a lot of time spent with Warcry and Necromunda, I’m sort of hoping to have the hobby time to devote to maybe getting some Necrons painted!

Oh, and apparently this is a thing! I’ve been tentatively getting interested in Magic for a while now, and this weekend was watching a few of the Professor’s videos when I came across this – Commander decks themed for 40k, apparently coming out with a full set themed around Lord of the Rings. Weird! In his video, the Professor talks about diluting the world of MtG, and I have to say that I agree. I love 40k, of course, and while I don’t really play much these days, I still love Magic. But I love them as separate entities, and have no wish to see them mixed together. I’m sure it might be fun to get Primarchs as Legendary Creatures, or whatever, but ultimately I feel like this is going to be detrimental to the game. Sure, collectors will probably buy them, I may even be tempted myself, but I wouldn’t want to mix them into my collection of Magic cards. Worlds don’t need to collide!

Finally, this arrived today! Very much looking forward to getting my teeth into it!

July retrospective

Hey everybody,

Well it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was here with my June retrospective, and already July has been and gone! With everything going on in real life right now, I have (unsurprisingly!) been a bit busy to be doing any fun stuff, as holding a baby to get her to sleep (and all the other associated activities!) don’t really allow for anything else. But I have been reading, which is probably going to be the main focus of this post!

I’ve been reading a lot of Necromunda books, both the current range of hardcovers and also the old Gang War supplements that were released three years ago now. Perhaps because of the fact that I’m now outnumbered by women at home, I’ve been taking a long look at House Escher for the game, and did actually manage to find a spare moment to paint some miniatures earlier in the month! So hurrah for that! I haven’t managed to get very far though, and haven’t managed to do so again, either. But never mind. I think, having a second child, it’s easier because you know there will come a time when the stars align and you get your free time back in the evenings – it isn’t suddenly a black hole of having no available time for the foreseeable future!

I’ve been reading a lot about campaign play as well, and seeing how that all works out for the game. It’s really exciting, and I think it’s going to be at the top of my list when I’m able to have something like regular gaming once more!

The roadmap for Necromunda was recently updated, to show the plastic weapon upgrades for Orlock, Van Saar and Cawdor are coming in the next quarter, and a new gang in Q4! This is very exciting, I must say. A lot of speculation is being made around classics such as Ratskins or Skavvies, but I do recall hearing at one of the Open Days that they also had plans for totally new gangs, which of course we have seen already with the Corpse Grinders, so I’m very excited to see what’s coming. Very exciting times in the Underhive right now – and it’d be even better if we had the Delaque weapons!

The new edition of Kill Team has been announced, with GW making a very big deal of it coming out next month. I’ve been back and forth so much on this one, but I think I’m still at the point where I’m really excited for the new system. Whether I am able to get my hands on the new box or not is, of course, the big question, but I think it looks like it should make a really interesting board game style of game, even if I nevermake up another team. But, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to be making more teams!

The thing is, though, I’m really feeling the narrative focus this time around, and I know people have been losing their literal minds on the internet by the fact that it now uses movement templates rather than inches, but I do find myself quite liking the fact that the rules have changed to a more bespoke system. However, it’s the narrative, for me, that I’m keen to dive into, and I’m really looking forward to assembling a team of spec-ops to use. Furthermore, I think I’ll most likely be assembling a team or two that are purely meant for Kill Team, and not simply taking a bunch of models from my 40k collection to use in this game, which I have done in the past. The Krieg models are a perfect case in point, and I think I might be keeping a few Tempestus Scions for the game as well. We shall see!

As I said, though, I’ve mainly been reading this month, and have managed to make my way through two of the anthologies for the Horus Heresy, Shadows of Treachery and The Primarchs – so I think I’m reasonably now up to date on everything that I’ve missed! As ever, anthologies are a bit of an uneven experience for me, so rather than going through them both story-by-story, I thought I’d pick out my absolute favourites to talk about from each.

Prince of Crows

Published in Shadows of Treachery, this follows on from Savage Weapons, where Konrad Curze was wounded by Lion el’Jonson during their duel. With Curze lying comatose, First Captain Sevatar re-forms the Kyroptera advisory council of the Night Lords, and plans how to save the Legion as the Thramas Crusade draws to its conclusion, with the Dark Angels poised to annihilate the VIII Legion. The Legion commanders each take a portion of the fleet to raid Imperial space, while Sevatar himself uses his nascent psychic ability to bring back the Night Haunter from his coma, and lead a retaliatory strike against the Lion’s cruiser. While this attack ultimately fails, it does allow for Curze to hide himself in the bowels of the Invincible Reason.

I really enjoyed this novella – it’s probably one of the best Horus Heresy stories that I’ve read for some time, actually! The Night Lords haven’t really had a novel properly dedicated to them, they’re always just on the sidelines – I’m not sure if that changes, as I’ve only just broken into the 30s in the series, but I feel like they’re something of a forgotten Legion, really! There are a couple of short stories though, which somewhat culminate with this novella, joining the dots as to what’s happening out on the fringes before Curze then makes an appearance in The Unremembered Empire. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s nice to see the Legion structures and compare / contrast how each works. The Night Lords, for all that they’re said to be a band of ruthless murderers, still have that similar command structure, the Kyroptera being roughly analogous to the Mournival of the Sons of Horus.

We also get an extended flashback/memory sequence from Curze, detailing his early life on Nostramo, which was nice to get that full story in print, as it’s a fairly major part of the lore, etc. It’s a fairly lengthy novella, and gives a lot of action as well as some of the quieter moments to allow for a bit of Legion lore to get in, as well. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it!

Shadows of Treachery is otherwise a bit bland, with a couple of shorter stories that just felt dull and unnecessary when talking about the Heresy as a whole, but we also have The Crimson Fist, which was a bit of a drawn-out explanation for why the Imperial Fists didn’t make it to Isstvan V. I wasn’t a huge fan, truth be told.

The Serpent Beneath

This is another fantastic novella-length story, published in The Primarchs and this time dealing with the Alpha Legion. My favourite of the Legions, the story is actually quite fascinating as it deals with the Legion infiltrating Tenebrae Station, which is controlled by their own brother legionaries. The station is being used to create the warp storms that are keeping the White Scars at Chondax, but several security leaks have been traced to the installation and Omegon decides to form a team to neutralise this threat.

The narrative is really quite cleverly constructed, as it keeps slipping back to the planning meeting that Omegon held with the team, and then into the action of their infiltration. It poses the very intriguing question, what happens when you need to infiltrate your own Legion, and so know your own tricks? 

There are so many twists and turns along the way that it is virtually impossible to summarise them all, but the story takes a hugely interesting turn at the very end, where Omegon and Alpharius discuss the situation. It seems Omegon had fabricated the security leak as a means to destroy the station, a gift from the Cabal, and it is possible that he is trying to subvert his twin’s plans – is Omegon a secret loyalist? Who the hell knows, this is the Alpha Legion, after all! It was a great story, with a look at the wider universe outside of the space marines – when Omegon is recruiting his team, we get something almost akin to a film noir sequence of the hooded marines stalking a Mechanicum operative. This is just one of many cases in point, though, as the story was exceedingly cinematic, and it read really well as a result.

The Primarchs is essentially four novellas that tell stories about Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion el’Jonson, and Omegon. The Fulgrim story actually turned out to be fairly important, bridging the gap between Fulgrim and Angel Exterminatus, and clearing up some minor points that had be a little confused at the time. The Iron Hands story is notable for being a tale with Ferrus Manus front and centre (considering he is killed in book three of the series), and I thought it posed some interesting questions about the Legion, notably how easy it would be to overcome the warriors if you can disrupt their bionics.

In addition to reading, I’ve also been watching more TV, starting to make my way through The Expanse on Amazon Prime. It’s been years since I first read Leviathan Wakes, and I’m still a little put out that I’ve not yet made it to the next book in the series! I really need to pull my finger out on that front. I’ve watched the first series, and I was really impressed by the look of it, and the feel for how they’ve translated the book to the screen. I do find myself increasingly impressed at how good TV shows have become in recent years – watching WandaVision earlier in the year, I was continually blown away by how the production values made it feel very much like a part of the MCU. The Expanse is in a similar vein, with a big-budget feel to it. I did feel lost for the most part, because the storyline has been mixed up, I believe, with some of the more political storylines from Cibola Burn. So I did find it a little hard to follow at times, but that was only because I was thinking of it in terms of the book! I think that adding this political dimension in right away has been the best decision, though, because it greatly enhances the world-building – in my initial review of the book, I did mention the fact that we don’t get a lot of that as a downside to the story.

It’s a great series, anyway, and I think in general this is some of the most believable sci-fi that we have out there. Definitely looking forward to diving into more of this!