Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

Ave Omnissiah!


My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Force, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood and Skitarii legions, and perhaps the Titan Legion, Legio Gojira (which will never happen because I don't have money for Forge World Titans).

Oh, and I'll throw in the Thousand Sons from time to time because they're my favorite Space Marine Legion. I refuse to believe that they are Traitors! They're just...ahem...secretly loyal to the Imperium!

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I'm not Natfka and I shouldn't try to copy or learn from him because...frankly speaking, I'm inferior and I'm not even worth...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stories

The next chapter of War Convocation has been written and uploaded. As usual, you can click on the link to read it. As I've decided on going Mech, I might as well just throw in the Punisher, Demolisher and Wyvern tanks before schedule.

Now that I think about it, it's fitting for the owner of the AdMECHknight blog to go MECH for Imperial Guard. Ha ha. Ha.

Anyway, I have a new idea for a new Warhammer 40K story. I'm still writing War Convocation because there's still so much I want to write about it, the omnicopaeia and stuff. That should be fun. It's a fun story that displays the Adeptus Mechanicus that I always want to write about AND throws in my favorite Imperial Guard for fun. Leman Russ tanks! And more Leman Russ tanks! I'm going for the siege variants to roll into the enemies' lines and blast them apart with sheer firepower! Unless my tanks get destroyed my meltas, lances, haywire and other anti-vehicle weaponry. Ouch.

The new idea is inspired by Seven Samurai so I wanted to write a similar story called Seven Freeblades. It's about seven Freeblades who have severed their ties with House Yato that come upon a backward, isolated agri-world that has been targeted by a Tyranid splinter hive. The seven Imperial Knights must work together in order to fend off the ravenous broods and protect the verdant, paradise-like world from the sinister hive-mind. And to make matters worse, the Stormfire Steel Chaos Space Marines launches an attack at the same time, bearing the request of their Dark Mechanicum allies - to bring back an intact Tyranid Dominatrix or a gargantuan synapse creature that has landed upon the poor agri-world. The only things standing between these two insidious forces are seven Freeblades, mighty Imperial Knights who have discared their names and houses for honor and duty.

By the way, the Stormfire Steel Chaos Space Marines are a  chapter that splintered off from the Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines.

I wonder if this will work. We'll see.

Mechanicum review

Today is the day. Finally I get to write a review for Mechanicum, a novel from the Horus Heresy. I've read other Horus Heresy novels such as False Gods, the Flight of the Eisenstein, Fulgrim, A Thousand Sons, Prospero Burns, and I'm looking forward to read Vengeful Spirit but given the  bad reviews so far I'm not enthisiastic on splashing out $30 on the book only to be disappointed. I wanted it to read the fall of House Devine because I'm an Imperial Knights fan, but it appears it focuses way too much on Horus and lots of random characters. So...no.

I'll be honest, I'm not very fond of the Horus Heresy series. I can't find any novels that doesn't focus on the Space Marines EXCEPT Mechanicum and most likely the assassin novel Nemesis. But I don't really like the assassins either. I enjoyed The Flight of the Eisenstein, but didn't really like False Gods and Fulgrim, the latter especially disgusting me. I did like A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns, but that's because much like the Grey Knights Omnibus (maybe I'll write a review for Alaric's stories after all), they were about psyke marines and Magnus was awesome. But I didn't really enjoy the Horus Heresy series on the whole, with a few exceptions.

Mechanicum is my favorite book in the series and quite possibly the only one other than A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns that I like. And I like Mechanicum a lot better than those two combined. The Thousand Sons Space Marines novels. And because they were my favorite pre-Heresy chapter, I was riled when the Thousand Sons went over to the dark side...I mean turned to Chaos. Unfortunately, it's all part of Tzeentch's plan and we all know the outcome anyway because of the Warhammer 40K lore. Still, it irked me that the Space Wolves went and killed the Thousand Sons for NO reason (Horus's doing, actually). They were innocent! They were wronged.

This brings me to Mechanicum, the only novel in the Horus Heresy series that I truly like and one of the few books that do NOT focus on the Space Marines (good riddance, they were so dry, they were either all honor, valiance and duty to the point they got obnoxious or they were angsty and emo dudes (Fulgrim) that fell into Chaos in pretty...um, weird ways. A statue on a water serpent planet? Come on, Fulgrim. And Montarion?! Why the hell are you on Chaos's side?! Instead , Mechanicum focuses on the titular Mechanicum, one of my favorite factions in Warhammer 40K behind the Imperial Guard, and the setting is on Mars. MARS! How much more awesome can that be?



Knowledge is power, and the book opens up with a very impressive opening. The Lord Commander of House Taranis - though he was a brother in the prologue - Verticorda meets the Emperor who promptly heals the irreparable damage in his Knight's leg in a show of divinity. The miraculous display earns the mighty God-Emperor the recognition of the priesthood of Mars, and they begin to worship him as the Omnissiah, beginning the Cult Mechanicus that we all know and love today. And thus begins the cooperation between Terra and Mars that lay the foundation for the military might that the Imperium became. I really like it, and again, it was a Knight and not a damned Space Marine who narrated it! Hell, no Space Marine appears in the entire novel at all! GOOD RIDDANCE!

Right off, the cast is likeable. We have the aforementioned Verticorda who exudes honor and wisdom yet reins those in to not make him as obnoxious and Mary Sue-ish like the Space Marines. We have the transcriber, Dalia Cythera, who basically has psychic powers and has visions, leading to the enigmatic but freaking awesome Mistress of Magma City, Koriel Zeth, to recruit her to build the Akashic Record. Sadly, that never came to frution as we all know there was no such thing in the Warhammer 40K universe, but you can tell how talented Dalia is, and what a precocious girl she is.

Dalia's ragtag band also appeals to me a lot, all of the normal, common people who worked hard and achieved their positions through their own efforts. We have the blunt, crash but kind-hearted and well-meaning Zouche Chahaya. We have the motherly and experienced Mellicin Oster, who really tugged at my heartstrings. We have the caring Severine Delmer who acts as a good leader, bringing them through the labyrinths and braving danger to reach Dalia's eventual goal safely. And we have the very relatable and gentle Caxton Torgau, whose puppy love for Dalia really reached out to me. Surprisingly, I became very attached to Dalia's band as Graham McNeill develops and elaborates each of their characters and makes use of their strengths and talents throughout their perilous journey across Mars.

Last but not least, we have my favorite character out of this bunch, Rho-Mu 31, who is basically a Skitarius but somehow just named Mechanicum Protector. He's a Skitarius, I'm sure of it. He turns out to be an unsung hero and my favorite of the bunch, with his sense of humor and valiance protecting Dalia's group. It says a lot when a supposedly cold, mechanical guy becomes my favorite through his characteristics!

But the book is not merely about Dalia and her group. As I said earlier, Koriel Zeth is freaking awesome, and even her ally, Ipluvien Maximal, the Forge Master of Mars, pulled off some cool stuff. I won't spoil it for you, but at the end Koriel Zeth was a BOSS. When I read what she did, I couldn't help but have utmost respect for her, and for Maximal who joined her and did the same. Only thing I can say, we ain't letting Chaos have their way, no matter what!

The Knights of House Taranis are no less important. There is Raf Maven, a sturdy and determined Knight who relentlessly pursued his enemy underground, no matter how far it went, and he is accompanied by Leopold Cronus, a loyal friend who followed his brother-in-arms all the way. Verticorda and the other Knights were no less impressive, fighting ferociously in an incredible battle when the inevitable betrayal happened, slaying the enemies from the Dark Mechanicum with great vigor. Similarly, Raf's quest to avenge his defeat and track down the dark, twisted foul metallic creature that wounded him despite everyone insisting it no longer existed was fun to follow, and I could really feel his determination and need to help his almost-sentient suit destroy the formidable foe. I couldn't help but root for House Taranis, and to my joy, I learned more about them and their rise as the foremost and most prominent Knightly house on Mars after the Horus Heresy. They survived (well, of course Raf and Leopold inevitably survived) and became so much stronger, something that made me feel relieved and jubilant in a universe where chaos reigned and somber grim-dark was the norm.

In addition, I really enjoyed the Titan combat. The characters of the Titan legion, Legio Tempestus, were present, with Princeps Cavalerio, taking the front. The other Princeps, Sharaq, Basek, Kasim, to name a few, were also extraordinary fighters and I could feel the camaraderie between these men despite the wide distances and heavy armor that separated them from each other. Every Titan battle had me roaring and cheering for them as they darted, flanked, twisted and outwitted the superior enemy with brilliant tactics and sheer will. I was reminded of this when I read Titanicus, and the connection was there, with Legio Tempestus migrating to another world, Orestes. Orestes became their new home after the Horus Heresy, huh.

The Titan combat in Mechanicum was on par with that of Titanicus, but admittedly Titanicus does the fighting better. There were more battles, sporadic, with a climatic end where the Titans engaged each other including the presence of an enemy Imperator Titan, plus a lot more excitement and the scale was just amazing. Dan Abnett does the combat better. However, Graham McNeill excels in weaving a plot and developing characters. While I loved the Titan crews in Titanicus, being attached to the growing Guido Prinzhorn and especially liking the loyal Zane Tarse, the other cast and characters in Titanicus were simply lackluster. Cally Samstag, the remnants of her PDF group, and her husband were not as well developed as Dalia and her group, and I wasn't as attached to them as I as to Dalia and Rho-Mu 31. As I said in my review of Titanicus, her group could be easily combined with Erika Varco's, who made for a more compelling mission almost but not quite on par with Dalia. Manfred Zember? Utterly pointless. The retired Princeps in a garden? Er....okay. Forgettable.

On the other hand, almost the entire cast of Mechanicum were likeable, relatable and extremely relevant, receiving great care and progessive development. None of them felt unnecessary and I grew attached to every group. The plots are also different. Dan Abnett opted for a simpler plot to focus more on Titan-versus-Titan combat, which was a good choice, but his tying in of an attempt by Magos Tolemy to take power by revealing the truth about the Emperor was clumsy at best and I didn't like the politics in there. However, in Mechanicum, this is where the plot and politics shine. Somehow McNeill succeeds in enthralling me with the conspiracies, secret deals, forging of dark alliances among the priesthood of Mars, with Fabricator General Kelbor-Hal and Fabricator Locum Kane (and more) sealing a pact with Horus in an attempt to split Mars from the Imperium and no longer be subservient to Terra. In addtion, they found the idea of being free to research whatever they want and indulge in darker technologies appealing (I would find it appealing too). Their reasons for joining Horus were a lot more convincing that some of the Primarchs. Fulgrim? Montarion? Even Magnus, I don't get his sudden reversal and he just spirited all the Thousand Sons away like that. What the hell, and he was so determined to not fight against the Space Wolves before...his 180 degree turn was abrupt and inexplainable.

The difference in writers is clear here. I very much preferred A Thousand Sons to Prospero Burns, because Graham McNeill makes the Thousand Sons a lot more sympathetic and human, better than the other Space Marines anyway. At least they're not so much about honor and duty or killing the foe. They have their quirks, they are about learning and I like learning. There were quite a few mysteries here and there. On the other hand, Dan Abnett lays a smackdown between the ferocious Space Wolves and the sorcerous Thousand Sons with not much regard to characterization or developing a plot.

As I said, Graham McNeill is superior in terms of weaving a plot together, developing characters and making them likeable. I can already tell from reading Knights of the Imperium, but actually I read Mechanicum before Knights of the Imperium so...never mind. On the other hand, Dan Abnett is great at brutal, awesome and large-scaled combat. Well, Mechanicum also has great, massive-scaled combat at the end when all the Titans marched out, but somehow I liked Dan Abnett's Tarses and Prinzhorn more. Actually, I like the whole of Legio Invincta just as I like the whole of Legio Tempestus in Mechanicum. And the Knights! Don't forget Maven, Cronus, Vedacorda and the esteemed House Taranis!

Yes, Mechanicum is an awesome read and I would highly recommend it to anyone. In terms of storytelling, it is superior to Titanicus, but Titanicus has its own strengths and I already gave it my utmost recommendation in its own review. However, Mechanicum possesses more than epic Titan battles. It has Knights, compelling and likeable characters, sinister machinations and politics, dark secrets about the Void Dragon and a great plot. It gets two thumbs-up from me, and I urge anyone who is even a fan of the Warhammer 40K to read it. It is that awesome.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Latest Tau news - the KV128 Stormsurge ballistic suit

I don't know if everyone has seen this yet, but I came across the KV128 Stormsurge ballistic suit in the latest issue of White Dwarf. So I thought I might inform Warhammer 40K fans of the Tau Empire's newest and deadliest weapon.

The KV128 Stormsurge
The Stormsurge is a Lord of War, and you can include up to 3 of them in a single unit! Awesome! He costs 360 points each, though, so be careful that you don't blow your points on them and forget about your Riptides and stuff. But seriously, having 3 of these guys probably means you don't need Riptides anyway.

It's a Gargantuan Creature with toughness 6, 8 wounds, armor save of 3. So he's actually pretty easy to kill, I think. Just deep-strike a bunch of Militarum Tempestus Scions behind him, use the Preferred Enemy order (Autonomous Fire Sanctioned!) and fire 8 volleys of plasma gun shots. He's pretty much dead. But if he survives, the retaliation will be brutal and you'll see your stormtroopers vanish under a torrent of flames or, if the Stormsurge has nothing better to shoot at, a Strength D weapon. Ouch.

This guy has many options. He comes stock with a pulse blastcannon...which, to be honest, is pretty lackluster when compared to other Lords of War like the Wraithknight which has much longer range and can take 2 D weapons. Up to 10 inches, the pulse blastcannon fires 2 Strength D AP1 shots. Awesome. Except that no one will get within 10 inches of this guy, and their anti-Gargantuan Creature weapons probably outranges him. Except my deep-striking stormtroopers, who will get wiped out by those Strength D shots if they somehow fail to kill him. Deep-striking units can't charge, after all. Sigh. But yeah, it deters melee, charges and assaults from deep-striking units and drop pods. Especially drop pods! If you fail to kill the guy, your Space Marines are all dead! DEAD! Muahaha! Die, you stupid drop pod Space Marines! DIE!

10 to 20 inches, it fires off 2 heavy blasts of S10 AP1. Pretty good if you ask me, but as I said, 20 inches is pretty lackluster when you look at how short the range on this thing is. Last of all, 20 to 30 inches, which is its maximum range, it fires 2 heavy large blasts of S9 AP3. This is pretty good, particularly against blobs that are charging at him. Hmm...there's still quite a lot of promise. I guess. But he's unlikely to hit anything unless you move him across the table slowly. Well, one good thing is that he will soak up a lot of firepower, that's for sure. Still, without an invulnerable save, and being only T6 (why is the toughness so low?!), a lot of weapons can still hurt him, with even lasguns hurting on sixes. If the Imperial Guard troops can close enough, that is......they'll be completely wiped out by his main weapon and his other missiles, now that I think about it.

Yeah, moving onto the 2nd weapon. Now this is where the Stormsurge shines. He has an awesome Cluster Rocket System which is S5 AP5...but...! BUT!!!! But it fires 4D6 hits. Even if you're incredibly unlucky, you can still get at least 4 hits, but if you're super-lucky, you can potentially get up to 24 hits. Most of the time, you'll probably get around 14 hits, which is still pretty awesome, and they're all S5 AP5. Very damaging, especially to blobs. This, combined with his special rule, can actually turn out to be extremely overpowered, especially against blobs - I'll elaborate more on the special rule later. It's also a long-range weapon, with a range of 48 inches. Not bad! Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

The Stormsurge also has a twin-linked flamer, which if you pair with the pulse blastcannon, will make this guy superb at close-range combat. Huh. They have to be that crazy to want to get close to him, or fail their deep-strike surgical assault. They can't lock him up in combat because they can't charge him after deep striking. So he gets to roast them with the flamer next turn, and if need be, DESTROY them with his Strength D weapon. The flamer can be traded for a twin-linked burst cannon or a twin-linked airbursting fragmentation projector for 5 points, both of which have greater range than the flamer but...still not that far. Well, they are still pretty useful. The latter ignores cover and is a large blast! Whee! And the former gives 4 shots. Wow. The last weapon is 4 one-use destroyer missiles, 60 inches (finally! Now that's long-range!), S8 AP1. Good for anti-vehicle if you need something to bust that transport open, and then pour your cluster rocket system from above onto the staggering and disembarking occupants, hammering them to death. Sweet!

The best option, however, isn't the secondary weapons. It's the primary weapon. The Stormsurge has an option to swap the pulse blastcannon for a pulse driver cannon for 15 points, and I say it's worth it. It makes him the price of a Knight Paladin or Knight Warden without upgrades, but I say again, it's worth it. Why? The pulse driver cannon has 72 inches range (now that's what I call long-range!), and it's an ordnance large blast with S10 AP2. Awesome! It has a long-range demolisher cannon now! I want that on my Leman Russ Demolishers! ARGH! I want it, I want it, I want it! NOOOOO!

Combine this with markerlight shennigans and you'll basically Instant Death any non-vehicle, non-Monstrous Creature unit into oblivion. Especially if they have no invulnerable saves. Hordes will die, vanishing in utter destruction. Elite units will also be completely annihilated. Even vehicles aren't safe, their AV14 front armor praying that the Greater Good doesn't roll a 4 and glance them.

If that isn't scary enough, take a look at the Stormsurge's special rule. If you choose to activate the Stabilizing Anchors rule during your shooting phase, during your next turn and subsequent turns after that for the rest of the game, the Stormsurge can fire twice. The "drawback", of course, is that the Stormsurge can no longer move under any circumstances or make stomp attacks. But if you've equipped him with the 72" range pulse driver cannon, he doesn't need to move! And with WS2, Initiative 2 and 2 attacks in close combat, what the hell are you doing, charging him into combat?! The stomps aren't worth it, man! And with S6, the only units you're going to instant-death are poor infantry units from the Imperial Guard, Orks and Tyranids. Don't charge the guy into a squad of Space Marines just for the Stomp and Smash rules, it ain't worth it.

Anyway, you use this rule and you can fire all your weapons twice. TWICE! That means your cluster rocket system with 4D6 shots has just turned into 8D6 shots. Combined with markerlights from the inevitable Pathfinders (you're not going to field the guy on his own now, are you?), you can negate cover saves and laugh hysterically as a charging 30-men blob gets reduced to 2 or 3 in one volley. OUCH. Best used against Orks, Tyranids, Imperial Guard (NOOOO! This is why I play Mech!) and other horde armies. Even Space Marines and Terminators will shudder at making potentially 28 saves. Even better, a 2nd large blast template with S10 AP2 is coming your opponent's way after the first one devastated his poor gunline. Laugh manically as you taunt your opponent for ever thinking he can match you in a gunline fight.

Better still, take 3 of these things and deploy the Stabilizing Anchors. Now look at your opponent and grin as you roll your dice and determine how many shots will 24D6 give you. 84, statistically. Use your markerlights to ignore cover. With the Stormsurge's poor BS (BS 3), only half of those shots will hit. 42. Now watch as your opponent's combined platoon of 4 infantry squads just vanish under the rain of rockets and grin. If anyone has a solution for dealing with annoying horde armies that just throw bodies at you (50-men combined squads of an infantry platoon or 50 Conscripts with a Commissar), it's the Tau Empire. Hell yeah. And these guys make good anti-vehicles in a pinch. 3 S10 AP2 shots? 6 with Stabilizing Anchors? Yeah, that Leman Russ tank is going to cry (NOOO! My Leman Russ tanks!).

Anyway, this is all the info I have for you regarding the Stormsurge. There's some lore and I forgot most of it, but basically the Tau Empire needed some new weapon because even with the advanced Riptides, they weren't able to stand up to the Imperium of Men as it was an age where Imperial Knights and Warlord Titans stalked the surfaces of countless worlds. To counter them, they turned to this brilliant Earth Caste scientist who came up with the Stormsurge as an answer. Like the Hammerhead gunship, the Stormsurge is piloted by a crew of 2 Fire Caste dudes (or Earth Caste if it's Farsight Enclaves). It's different from a battle suit, it's a ballistic suit, not a battle suit, which means the pilots of the Stormsurge don't get the respect they deserve. Still, the Fire Warriors rever them as they march under the feet of these behemoths, the Stormsurge providing apocalyptic firepower to match even the fiercest of the Imperium's titans. I still think they will die to Warlord Titans...no, even a Reaver or Warhound Titan will obliterate them, though. Imperial Knights...well, that's another story. Keep your Knight away from that guy if he has the pulse blastcannon! If he doesn't, then feel free to march up to him and engage him in melee, but for the love of the Emperor don't do it if he has a 10" Strength D weapon waiting for you!

Antoher thing in the lore is that the Stormsurge is the first of a new and latest advanced line called the ballistic suits, which sacrifice the mobility, jet-packs and flexiblility of the Crisis battle suits and other battle suits (except the Broadsides, I guess) for sheer firepower. Heck, even the damned Riptides have jet-packs but this poor guy doesn't. What should we do?!

Nothing. I'm going to see what my Imperial Guard army can do against these guys. Sigh. Well, I have the Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation. Maybe they'll be able to fight against the new Tau Empire somehow, but I have no doubt they have improved units, better rules and awesome formations to make them competitive against the new Eldar, Necrons and Space Marines.

All right, signing off here. For the Emperor!

Final decision - Mech PLUS Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation is now complete!

Yes, as you have seen it. I've made my final decision. I am going Mech. I have received advice from the staff at Battle Bunker and I was strongly advised to go mech. It fits my playstyle anyway, as I'm the Imperial Knight guy who charges my heavily armored knights in front and...instead of charging into combat for melee, uses their ranged weapons to shoot armies to death. I only charge in when I'm desperate, I prefer to keep my Knights back to lay down heavy fire.

So armored Mech it is for me. I love tanks so blob was but a faint and highly unlikely possibility that I would have explored but will not. To me, tanks are the best and throwing a row of AV14 armored tanks into my enemy is just so much fun (though it'll hurt when my opponents throw melta-squads at the oncoming tanks...ouch).

A battery of Wyvern Suppression Tanks. Lots of Leman Russ tanks. I have 2 right now, and I'm planning on adding 2 more. Chimera APCs. Every mech list runs Veterans in Chimeras and I'm going to learn from them. So I've made my final decision, after discussing it at length with the dudes at Battle Bunker. Their best advice? Play something fun and something that fits me, not try and copy what other people do. I might be pleasantly surprised.

Anyway this is my new list. Actually, I should list what I have first.

2 Leman Russ Executioner tanks with plasma cannons, 1 with lascannon

2 Veteran squads with heavy flamer, flamers, plasma guns and maybe 1 meltagun.

2 Vendetta Gunships.

1 Doomhammer superheavy tank

1 Company Command Squad with plasma guns

Now, when I run Mech, I won't include the Doomhammer and Company Command Squad unless it's my Doomhammer super-heavy list, which I guess can also be considered Mech.

Anyway, I'm considering adding these to my collection.

2 Chimera APCs

2 Wyvern Suppression Tanks

1 Leman Russ Punisher tank

1 Leman Russ Demolisher tank

That completes my Mech list where I ditch the Doomhammer and Company Command Squad and instead add a Knight Crusader. The Knight Crusader actually is worth its points as a replacement for Leman Russ tanks. It's essentially 2 Leman Russ Battle Tanks and 1 Leman Russ Punisher tank for 10 points less. Add 40 points for the S8 AP3 3-shot carapace weapon and it will equal the 3 Leman Russ tanks with lascannon upgrades in points. Best, I'm getting all these shots plus the Avenger Gatling shots with RENDING and AP3 (though 8 less than the Punisher cannon) at BS4 at the same cost. Of course, I don't get the AV14 front & AV13 sides and I have 3 hull points less, but I have ion shield to make up for it, AV12 rear against AV10/11, Smash and good melee attacks to make up for it.

Plus I don't have to worry about weapon destroyed or immobilization.

So there you go. A possible list (after I buy what I want) is this:

Knight Commander Pask in Leman Russ Punisher tank with heavy bolters
2 Leman Russ Executioners with plasma cannons, one with lascannon

Veteran squad with heavy flamer and 2 flamers
Chimera APC

Veteran squad with meltagun
Chimera APC

2 Vendetta Gunships

2 Wyvern Suppression Tanks

Leman Russ Demolisher tank

Knight Cruasder with rapid-fire battle cannon and Stormspear rocket pod.

No space to add a 3rd Wyvern, which makes me sad. If I want, I can swap the Knight Crusader for a Stormsword but one of the Veteran squads lose their Chimera. Most likely the flamer squad, who's going to sit back and guard the Wyverns from drop pods and deep striking units. I hope.

Now, for the next news. As the title says, my Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation is finally complete!

I have purchased and built my 3rd and last Onager Dunecrawler. He's the last one left, so with him done, my entire army is complete! I can finally have a game with my Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation! YES!

The last Onager Dunecrawler
If possible, I'll try out my brand-new army in a game on Friday. Assuming nothing happens and I don't oversleep or something.

The next book review will be out on Wednesday or so. I'll make sure I get around to reviewing Mechanicum by Graham McNeill. I've finally finished the Starfist novel, so I can return to reading Warhammer 40K novels. I was going to start on the Adeptus Mechanicus series, Priest of Mars, because I'm so looking forward to reading it and it forms the basis for my story, but I got sidetracked by Flesh and Iron by Henry Zou. I'll read Flesh and Iron first instead. It's an Imperial Guard novel, part of the Bastion Wars series, but it'll be the only book in the series or omnibus that I will read. I'm not too enthusiastic about reading about an Inquisitor or the Blood Gorgons Chaos Space Marines and the 31st Riverine Imperial Guard appeals to me the most. So I'll read it first.

Another reason is that the Adeptus Mechanicus series is a trilogy so I'm planning to read all 3 in a row as opposed to breaking them up. That's why I should finish Flesh and Iron first before I start on them. As an aside, I'll focus on the Adeptus Mechanicus series completely regardless of whether my other novels arrive from online orders. I have ordered Baneblade by Guy Haley, The Emperor's Finest which is a Ciaphas Cain novel by Sandy Mitchell, and the Honor Imperialis, which is an omnibus comprising of three novels, Redemption Corps, Cadian Blood and Dead Men Walking. As I have already written a review on Dead Men Walking, I won't do it again.

I will be doing completely separate reviews for the Adeptus Mechanicus series and Honor Imperialis. That is, I will write a review for Priests of Mars, a 2nd review for Lords of Mars and a 3rd, separate one for Gods of Mars. Similarly, I'll write a review for Redemption Corps and another one for Cadian Blood. Before all these, I will immediately write a review for Flesh and Iron, but I promise, the review for Mechanicum will be out after the next two or three days.

For the Emperor!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tempestus Militarum Scions aka Storm Troopers

While trying to decide whether I should play blob-mech or pure mech, I came across another idea. No matter what the list, I'm going to get Chimeras, no question about that. They are absolutely necessary for a mechanized infantry (mech) list, mech-blob or even just blob. I think only air calvary doesn't need them and I can't afford to play air calvary (Vendettas are really expensive, each one of mine cost almost $150 and I can buy 2 Leman Russ tanks or 2 Wyverns with that!).

But then something struck me. Well, I deleted my old blog a very long time ago but last year, before I went and bought my Imperial Knights, I was interested in creating a Militarum Tempestus army. I was experimenting with the Airborne Assault Formation, a few Militarum Tempestus Combined Arms Detachment, but eventually they never came to fruition because I wanted an Imperial Knight army and Militarum Tempestus just didn't cover the weaknesses of Imperial Knights, even as allies. I mean, both Militarum Tempestus and Imperial Knights had no decent air (this was before the Imperial Knights codex and even then I'm not sold on the twin Icarus autocannons). And while Valkyries make awesome flying transports, I very much prefer Vendettas. No, seriously. Three twin-linked lascannons that can provide both anti-tank and anti-air support is invaluable to my Imperial Knights. As you can see, my Imperial Guard army was originally built as intended allies for my Knights.

Hmm. It doesn't seem to be working out, though. Oh well. As it turned out, I really like my Imperial Guard and I want to build on my current collection of 2 Leman Russ Executioners, 25 infantry soldiers, 2 Vendettas and 1 super-heavy tank. I'm beginning to think it's more optimal to place bodies on the table than investing massive points into a single super-heavy unit. Oh well, a Doomhammer is cheap and I should really stop messing around with my list and creating Stormsword or Shadowsword lists. Super-heavy tanks are nice but they really limit my options and what I can take. Anyway, we'll see. I managed to squeeze 2 Wyverns into my lists because I was advised that they are absolutely necessary. Awesome. So I'll need to get 2 Chimeras and 2 Wyverns.

Anyway, back to my Militarum Tempestus. I had the idea to field them as elite surgical strike squads, either parachuting (grav-chute) down from Vendettas or deep-striking behind enemy lines. They target high-value targets and destroy them with extreme prejudice. Most likely they would die from the enemy's retaliation, but that's fine. They have fulfilled their mission. The reason why I'm running them as a separate detachment is so that I can get 2 Militarum Tempestus command squads for 4 special weapons AND the specific Militarum Tempestus orders. Best of all, the command squads can issue orders to themselves, making them that much more potent. Stormtrooper command squad kitted with 4 plasma guns? Don't worry about getting hot, I'll just issue the order that gives them Preferred Enemy (Autonomous Fire Sanctioned). Gargantuan Creature/Monstrous Creatures or armored vehicles including super-heavies bearing down on my defensive position? No problem, I'll have my Stormtrooper command squad with 4 hot-shot volley guns issue themselves the order to get rending (I think it was Elimination Protocol Sanctioned, my favorite). Defensive means they're stationary (I have 3 other suicide squads running around) so I can fire 4 salvo shots each - 16 S4 rending shots in total. At least 2 or 3 should wound the Gargantuan Creature (I'm looking at you, Wraithknight) or glance the armored vehicle. It also works for my plasma gun command squad so that S7 can penetrate vehicles but obviously I won't use it for Monstrous Creatures.

They basically are my anti-monster, anti-vehicle specialists, with the normal 5-men Militarum Tempestus squads with 2 meltaguns sent to take out artillery or other high-value targets lying at the back of my opponent's deployment zone. They can even be used to take out Terminators or something. Even if they die from the retaliation, the measly 90-point squad has successfully taken out more than its points worth of units. I hope. And I have 2 of them.

The rest of my Imperial Guard provide the armor and artillery, particularly anti-infantry. That's why I need the Wyverns. While my Militarum Tempestus Scions deep-strike or parachute from Vendettas eliminating high-priority targets like tanks, vehicles, Monstrous Creatures or Gargantuan Creatures, the Wyverns will be needed to clear the hordes. I think I need my mechanized infantry or blobs to secure objectives or something. With so much plasma in the list provided by my Stormtroopers, I'm not sure if I need my Leman Russ Executioner. Well, having one of the table as a distraction Carnifex might be a good idea.

It's so tempting to ally Militarum Tempestus to my Imperial Guard, even if it means I have to spend more. Oh well. We'll see.

Another option is for me to get the Cadian Defense Force, ditch the Leman Russ Executioners and go with blob. Hmm. I don't know if that will work.

Anyway, I wrote the fluff for my Stormtroopers in my story War Convocation. According to the Draconis Imperial Guard, they have an elite military branch trained in the Schola Progenium called the Draconian Dragons. They are basically the stormtroopers of the Draconian Armored Defense Force (Draconis Imperial Guard), and while known to other Militarum Tempestus regiments as Draconian Dragons, their official name is the Draconian Special Forces Group. Yeah, it's based off the Japanese Self Defense Force. Hell, the Draconis Imperial Guard is also based off the Japanese Self Defense Force, just look at the name! Draconian Armored Defense Force!

As a joke, the Draconian Special Forces Group is known to the rest of the Armored Defense Force as the Kamikaze Troopers because that's what they do, essentially. They charge straight into the heart of the enemy's base, take out the high-value targets, and then die from the retaliation. Essentially suicide squads. So yeah, they're Kamikaze Troopers. Get it? :D OTP

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I know I need the Chimeras and Wyverns no matter what. The next step is mech, blob-mech, Militarum Tempestus allies, or a mix of mech-Militarum Tempestus or blob-mech-Militarum Tempestus.

I wonder if I'll get any advice or suggestions......

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cadian Defence Force...I mean Draconian Defence Force

As I expected, nobody offered any suggestions or advice. Then again, nobody reads this blog anyway. Maybe I should give it more time, but I hit upon a stupid idea today.

I'm thinking of buying the Cadian Defence Force. That's the model set's name, but obviously I'll paint them all black and turn them into the Draconian Defence Force. Fluff and all that. Then I'll finish the force off by purchasing a separate Leman Russ Battle Tank and Chimera. The reason why I'm doing this is because I was thinking of going a mixture of mech and blob. Getting an infantry platoon might actually boost my chances of not getting tabled than if I merely plonked five to seven tanks on the table and hope for a miracle.

So I thought, why not get an infantry blob to screen and shield my vulnerable (ironically) tanks? Throw in a Primaris Psyker, give the platoon command squad and the 30-men strong combined squads a vox-caster, cast Prescience on the entire unit, issue the "First row fire, second row fire" order (yay, leadership re-rolls if I fail the first time) and watch as 27 lasgun shots turn into 54. And if they're within 12 inches, I get 81 shots. The look on my opponent's face when I pick up that many dice and roll them will be hilarious. Not only that, with Prescience (unless my opponent successfully denies the witch), a good 75% of those shots should theoretically hit. Even a squad of 10 Terminators will cry when they have to make that many saves. Except that stupid S3 lasguns only wound on 5s against T4 Terminators. DAMN IT!!!!

It also gives me the Leman Russ Battle Tank I need, though I'll have to purchase a second one for my Tank Commander in a Leman Russ Vanquisher. That's not so bad, considering the good deal I've gotten out of this list. Furthermore, I get a Chimera for my platoon command squad if I'm running a Doomhammer list, and 3 heavy weapons teams, which I need for my Doomhammer passenger detachment! Firing 3 lascannons and 7 plasma guns out of its fire point while the passengers are being protected by AV14, that's just awesome.

I even have variations where I use a Stormsword or Shadowsword instead, in which case I need to get a 2nd Chimera for both my Company command squad and Veterans. These lists are the one where I can have 3 infantry squads (I need 2 Veteran squads for my Doomhammer, so I only have 2 infantry squads left). Alternatively I can trade my Primaris Psyker for an Aegis Defence Line or a Void Shield Generator (going to need suggestions and advice here) to give my infantry cover or protection. I'm not sure which is better, but it seems giving them cover is better than having 1 or 2 AV12 walls that would be punctured sooner or later. Or I could just go with the Primaris Psyker and have my 30-men blob of infantry march up the table grimly with their 27 lasguns, with the platoon command squad following closely behind to issue orders.

Then the alternative is my mech list where I field 2 Leman Russ Executioner Tanks, a Leman Russ Vanquisher Tank with Tank Commander, a Leman Russ Battle Tank, 2 Veteran squads in Chimera APCs equipped with special weapons, 2 Vendetta Gunships, 3 Wyvern Suppression Tanks, and either a Knight Crusader or a super-heavy tank - the Stormsword or Shadowsword. I don't know if it's as viable as running a mixed list, I mean, look! It's all vehicles! Armored vehicles and tanks, plus a super-heavy walker if I'm inclined. I'm tempted to go this way, but as I said, I don't know if it's balanced and if I'll get utterly destroyed.

I'll ask for advice at Battle Bunker, but I'll really appreciate advice from people online as well. Do you guys think it's better to get the Cadian Defence Force and play mixed infantry-armor, or better to go pure armor?

Looking forward to hearing from you guys.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tanks versus Artillery

Before I begin, I would like to let you know that another chapter for War Convocation has been uploaded, so have fun reading it. The next couple of chapters will be a lull period, meaning meetings, dialogue, world building and no action at all. So if you're looking for explosive firefights and awesome duels, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until the explorator fleet actually takes off. I'm sorry.

On the tabletop gaming side of things, as I said, my Skitarii army is nearly finished and consequently it means my entire Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation is almost done. Just one more Onager Dunecrawler to go. And I'll have an army of cybernetic warriors plus a Knight! I kind of wished I built three Knight Crusaders instead but hey, it doesn't matter.

I'll probably build a Reaver Titan for my next project, but right now I'm kind of stuck over something. I need to complete my Imperial Guard list, and it seems I need to add a Leman Russ Battle Tank and Leman Russ Vanquisher no matter what. If you've read the story I'm writing, you'll know it's part of the fluff. The Draconis Armored Regiment uses Leman Russ Vanquishers and Leman Russ Battle Tanks. I'm also quite the fan of parking my Leman Russ Battle Tank at the back and using it as pseudo artillery. However, I realized that my Knight Crusader and Knight Paladin can double as Leman Russ Battle Tanks - I mean, they have rapid-fire battle cannons that are essentially two shots of Leman Russ Battle Tanks. Of course, they're on the expensive side, because a Leman Russ Battle Tank only costs 150 points, and 2 of them being 300 points, still less than the Knight Paladin by 75 points and 130 points less than a Knight Crusader. However, a Knight Crusader with Stormspear rocket pod is easily worth 3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks because it fires 2 battle cannon shots, 12 Avenger Gatling shots and 3 krak missiles for just 20 points more. And I haven't included the heavy stubbers.

However, I'm still interested in doing an armored list for Leman Russ tanks, centered around the Steel Host formation. I don't know if I should build around my Leman Russ Vanquisher and Leman Russ Battle Tank or if I should build around my Leman Russ Executioners. It confers Preferred Enemy to the commander tank and all tanks from that formation that are within 12 inches of the commander. Now I'm trying to figure out what's the optimal build for this formation. I heard that Preferred Enemy does nothing for blasts and scatter. Well, the re-rolling ones to wound might be important, but re-rolls to hit? The blast guys are out, which means the Leman Russ Eradicator, Battle Tank and Demolisher are out. Then the Leman Russ Exterminator is twin-linked, so it doesn't get any benefit from the Preferred Enemy either.

It works for Leman Russ Vanquisher, Punisher and Executioner. The first two will land more hits while the Leman Russ Executioner will have much less chances of Gets Hot! results because I can re-roll the Gets Hot! rolls. Yay.

Despite that, I'm still wondering if I should just give the Preferred Enemy to the Tank Commander and his Leman Russ Executioner buddy and fill up the other slots with Leman Russ Battle Tanks. The 3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks will be placed at the back to serve as artillery.

The alternative is to build an all-Executioner list, and if it gets too expensive I'll swap a couple out for Punishers or stuff. I read that Exterminators would be good too, since they benefit from the Preferred Enemy's to wound rolls. That will cut the cost and allow me to ally in another Imperial Guard combined arms detachment.

I need advice and I hope you guys can give suggestions and advice on how to build the Steel Host formation. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An update after so long

Finally, an update after so long! I've written the fifth chapter of War Convocation and uploaded it. I don't think it's an enjoyable chapter because there's not much action and stuff. Rather, this chapter is more of a information or expanation chapter. It details the history and background of the Draconis system and House Yato, as well the importance and significance of the forge world Draconis IV to the Imperium.

Have fun reading it, but if you're looking for explosive action, this chapter doesn't have it. The lore, world-building and setting were fun to craft and I enjoyed writing the background and elaborating on the history. I do understand if readers don't like it or don't enjoy it, though. But hey, it's fun. I hope.

Ice Guard and Dead Men Walking

Ice Guard is an interesting novel with a very likeable cast (mostly), a few nice twists and a good dispaly of character. I prefer it a lot more than Steve Lyons's other book, Dead Men Walking because of the cast and the characters. The struggles they go through, their tenacity, them going so far and surviving against all odds despite being pitted against the forces of Chaos and...gasp! Chaos Space Marines! Admittedly, Dead Men Walking had much better battle scenes - the scene where the Rough Riders of Death Korps of Krieg rode in and stomped the Necrons into the dust was awesome, and was the Grenadier scene where the Deat Korps of Krieg Grenadiers strode into the Necron tomb, armed with nothing but their hot-shot lasguns or hellguns. That was pretty awesome.

But what Ice Guard had was a more relatable and likeable cast, and despite the twists and attempt to remain "grimdark", it had a pretty good ending that left me with a nice aftertaste, unlike the grim and somber ending of Dead Men Walking. Furthermore, the only character in Dead Men Walking who was relatable and likeable was Gunthar, a mining supervisor who was saved in that Rough Rider scene I mentioned earlier and conscripted into the Death Korps. Unfortunately, he ended up being indocrtinated and brainwashed into a cold, calculating killing machine (which was kind of unbelievable, given the short time frame in which he received his training - a few months at the most, and he survived longer than freaking elite Death Korps Grenadiers!), and the ending where he determinedly walks into his suicide was just...well, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I disliked the ending, but that's just my personal preference. The Death Korps of Krieg were too emotionless and soulless, they were named after numbers, which really fits their lore and everything, but wow. It would have been better to write the novel from the point of view o the Death Korps of Krieg. While Gunthar basically turns into a typical Death Korps of Krieg conscript in the end, he just doesn't feel like a real Imperial Guardsman. Yeah, his mentality is the same, but his training, his past, it all just doesn't feel right.

The only other likeable character in Dead Men Walking is Commissar Costellin, but...as you expect, he dies. And it says a lot when the Commissar - the Commissar! - of all people is the kindest and most rational person in the entirety of the Death Korps of Krieg. Yeah, the Death Korps of Krieg are that ruthless and cold. The Death Korps of Krieg do not even need the Commissar for the...well, you know, the usual summary execution to pass morale check and have the Stubborn rule. They are Fearless. The commissars are only there to serve as liasons between the masked, unfeeling and soulless Death Korps of Krieg and the unmasked, normal humans of other worlds. Plus the way Costellin was killed was really terrible and made me hate the Death Korps of Krieg further. Bloody hell, he was taken as a hostage and instead of helping him the soldiers of the Death Korps of Krieg shoot him along with the Necron cultists because it's more efficient this way. And despite his 30 years of service to the Death Korps of Krieg, his death is treated stoically as the quartermaster strips him of his weapons while he is dying. Yeah, you definitely will not be reading this novel to feel good or for enjoyment (unless your idea of enjoyment is to wallow in the helplessness and misery of fictional characters).

The Death Korps of Krieg are also as unfeeling, cold and ruthless as the soulless Necrons they battle. This made for great battle scenes, as I already mentioned, but I just...I just couldn't root for any of the characters. Except for Gunthar, but when he walked off to his death against an overwhelming number of Necrons in the end, I felt cheated. The Death Korps, despite their ruthlessness, tenacity, resilience and firepower, still couldn't defeat the damned Necrons in the end. Damn it! At least destroy the hated Xenos if you're going to sacrifice so many men! Yeah, the whole grimdark and pessimistic feeling was reinforced in Dead Men Walking, and as the title says, the novel made me feel dead and empty after reading it. So if that's what you're looking for in a Warhammer 40K, grim reality, somber endings and feelings of helplessess, then Dead Men Walking is definitely for you.

On the other hand, Ice Guard leaves me with a feeling of triumph and relief. Even if the valiant Valhallan Ice Warriors do not succeed in their mission (mild spoiler, but what do you expect? It's a grimdark Warhammer 40K novel, since when do the Imperium win? Unless Ciaphas Cain is involved), the majority of them do survive, and they are much more relatable and likeable than the soulless and robotic soldiers of the Death Korps of Krieg. I enjoyed the struggles, the small victories (even if it's an overall defeat because the mission failed, or a moral and psychological victory in spite of the mission's failure, depending on how you view it), the triumph of survival and the characters' strength. The relatively small cast works wonders, and despite the switching around of viewpoints at the beginning, as the novel progresses the story becomes more focused on this single squad of soldiers, each with his or her individual talent and gifts, and I like that a lot. Unlike most Warhammer 40K novels, especially the Horus Heresy series which I didn't really like, Ice Guard is very focused, which is a very big plus in my book. I don't like the multiple viewpoints where the story jumps from one viewpoint of a character to another. I prefer a single, focused storyline where I can concentrate on the actions and adventures of the characters I have come to like and relate to. No random civilian out of nowhere lamenting the wars, or being affected by it (and to be honest despite most of the authors' best efforts, their civilians are mostly badly done and just not relatable enough), no politics between high-ranking leaders as they try to out-maneuver each other to gain the one-up. Just a simple story about an elite (or ragtag, depending on how you look at it) squad trying to carry out their mission and survive against impossible odds.

Like Ciaphas Cain, this focus is the novel's strength. Of course, I do enjoy the different viewpoints of various soldiers fighting in different parts of the battlefield, like the Knights and the Titan legion in Mechanicum, both of whom fight separately in different battlefields. Huh, I can't think of any other novels like Mechanicum. The other novels focus on Space Marines and civilians, and particularly in the Horus Heresy series, the Imperial Army is almost non-existent. Sigh. So yeah, I prefer focused novels like Ciaphas Cain, Skitarius and Tech-Priest by Rob Sanders - both of which focus solely on the Adeptus Mechanicus, with Alpha Primus Haldron-44 Stroika being the protagonist of the first and Magos Omnid Torquora helming the second - and even Justicar Alaric in the Grey Knights omnibus. Knights of the Imperium was okay, but it does jump unevenly from Baron Roland to Lady Cordelia despite it being such a short book/novella. If Graham McNeill wanted to explore the viewpoints of two or more characters, he might be better served writing a better book, or so I think.

In Ice Guard, the characters are typical, predictable but somehow likeable. The indomitable Colonel Stanislav Steele strikes me as a heroic figure, and his no-nonsense and straightforward attitude really struck a chord in me, allowing me to respect him as a leader. I like the inclusion of Trooper Grayle and Trooper Barreski, the two being the tank crew of a Leman Russ Annihilator. I was sad that the Leman Russ tank didn't make it for the rest of the novel, but these two guys were fun to follow, particularly when Grayle gets his hands on a vehicle, which ranged from a Termite with a drill to a huge truck and then a lander in a spaceport. Well, you know Grayle is going to survive till the end because his team needs him to drive things, especially a space shuttle!

On a side note, why a Leman Russ Annihilator? It's got to be one of my least favorite Leman Russ tanks, unless they cut its cost into 100 or below. The damned thing only has a single twin-linked lascannon, which isn't worth its points of 150. I mean, even the Leman Russ Exterminator, which makes use of twin-linked autocannons, has 4 autocannon shots from its twin-linked Exterminator autocannons. At least give the Leman Russ Annihilator 2 twin-linked lascannon shots, not one! The Leman Russ Exterminator is only 130 points, 20 points cheaper for 3 more twin-linked shots, even if they have lower strength and not as good AP. It's supposed to be a tank-hunter, but even the Leman Russ Vanquisher does a better job at tank hunting. Just add 15 more points and you have a Leman Russ Vanquisher firing a single shot with armorbane at BS4, which is sure tot ake down tanks better than the Leman Russ Annihilator. Honestly, unless they buff the Annihilator lascannons into two twin-linked lascannon shots like the Leman Russ Exterminator or cut the price cost down to 100 points or so (maybe 120?), it is practically outshone and outdone by the Leman Russ Vanquisher. No wonder they removed it from the latest Imperial Guard codex. There are other tanks that do its job better.

Anyway, the other characters are also likeable but predictable. There's Pozhar, the mandatory reckless and young hotshot who is always itching for a battle. Yeah, in a special squad like this, you always need this cliched character. And then there's Anakora, who we all know is going to survive because 1) she's the sole female character in the team and 2) her backstory in the first few chapters just screams "survivor!" no matter the odds. Just from reading her character setting and backstory, you know she'll definitely survive, and might even predict that she will be the sole survivor a la Ellen Ripley of Alien fame. Thankfully, she is not the sole survivor and other characters like Grayle make it to the end. Yay. And then there's the resident asshole Blonsky (he executed a Sergeant in the beginning), an overzealous character who we all know is going to die for being a jerk. Of course, we can't forget about the ever-loyal and faithful sidekick, Ivon Gavotski, Steele's sergeant who served the formidable colonel all the way to the end and...much like Trooper Jurgen, survived with his boss. Yay.

The characters are likeable but stereotypical, as I said, the plot typical and straightforward. It might not be the most original or creative concept or story in the universe, but it's a highly enjoyable read packed with predictable twists and against-all-odds firefight. I was disappointed that the entire squad of Valhallan Ice Warriors weren't even able to take out a single Chaos Space Marine, and the traitor wasn't even wearing Terminator armor! Well, they did finally defeat him in the end, after a needlessly long, protracted battle that stretched on forever, with no one but the augmented commander Steele stabbing the Traitor Marine in the back with his own chainsword. Anticlimatic, but with almost 10 of them firing their lasguns at the Chaos Space Marine, you would think he would fail at least one of his armor saves. take a wound and die from the overwhelming number of las-bolts. The Chaos gods must have favored him with lucky dice rolls then, bloody hell. Funnily enough, he failed to kill any of the Imperial Guard in assault, and was eventually slaughtered himself! By a Company Command officer, too! Well, given a Chaos Space Marine has WS4, toughness of 4, 1 wound compared to the Company Command Officer's WS4, toughness of 4 but...but 3 wounds! I guess, it shouldn't be a problem. Particularly when you consider the rest of the squad providing bodies as meatshields and having Look Out, Sir!.

The twists, while predictable and I saw coming from far away, were admittedly well done, particularly with the Confessor Wollkendon. Yeah, this being Warhammer 40K, we know he's definitely not the Virtual Saint the Ecclesiarchy made him out to be, his reputation was exaggerated for sure and the real guy is just a weak, snifling, pitiful coward. But there is still one final twist at the end that I won't spoil for you, but seasoned readers can probably guess what it is.

Anyway, Ice Guard was a good read for me, I enjoyed it thoroughly and it left a good feeling after the ending, something I couldn't say for Dead Men Walking. Admittedly, I enjoyed the cool battle scenes between the Death Korp of Krieg and the Necrons, but the characters...sigh, the characters just weren't likeable, the only relatable and likeable characters met with ignominious or pointless deaths and the ending left a bad aftertaste. So I would recommend Ice Guard for a casual, fun read, and Dead Men Walking for masochistic readers who enjoy wallowing in the misery, suffering and helplessness of characters.

Right now I'm looking for Baneblade by Guy Haley, and most likely Cadian Blood, Gunheads and Redemption Corps. I'll probably get Straken and Yarrick: Pyres of Redemption eventually as these two are available in Battle Bunker. At least the first one is. I think I'll buy Honour Imperialis as it contains the stories of Cadian Blood and Redemption Corps, as well as a few awesome short stories, particularly about the Elysian Drop Troops.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Imperial Guard Armored Battle Group

I should return to the tabletop side of things for now. The next review should be on Ice Guard by Steve Lyons before finally settling on Mechanicum by Graham McNeill. Oh boy, I'm so looking forward to that book. I like Ice Guard too, which is why I want to write a review on it first, but Mechanicum is...in a word, epic. Epic Titan fights, cameo by two Imperial Knights, a look into House Taranis, one of the most ancient Knightly houses and situated on Mars! Plus...Titans again, sorry, I just love Titans. The Void Dragon is pretty cool too. And I really like the split between the Fabricator General Kelbor-Hal and his fellow Magos. Koriel Zeth, in particular, was one of the most awesome characters in the book, along with Forge Master Ipulvien Maximal. I really wanted to see them complete the Akashic Reader, but that damned Horus and his fellow traitors basically wiped off the good guys on Mars. DAMN YOU, HORUS! Well, he's dead. So I'll round up my fellow Imperial Knights from House Yato, a huge Mechanicus army including both Skitarii maniples and giant robots from Legio Cybernetica, an armored company from the Draconis Imperial Guard Armored regiment and a Titan legion to hunt him and the Sons of Horus down.

They will burn. In the name of the Emperor, I will ensure every single force of Chaos burns and gets thrown back into the Warp. That means I had better get back to writing War Convocation then. Well, it shouldn't be a problem. After all, I just finished writing the second draft of my Masters Thesis, and largely finished the stuff I needed to do for my graduate school applications, so I'm pretty much free for the rest of the week. That means returning to War Convocation and taking a peek into the Forge World of Draconis IV, its relationship with House Yato, the Knightly House of Draconis III, and the sub-par plasma weapons it supplies the Imperium after Ryza became busy with trying to survive two Waaaghs!. YAY!

As I said, with this free time, I should return to the tabletop sspect of my hobby. I still have one last Onager Dunecrawler to build, so I'll start on him this week or so. My wallet hurts, though...I had to splash on graduate school applications. I had better get into at least one of them or I'd have wasted all that money. Sigh. Anyway, once my Adeptus Mechanicus army is done, I will proceed to the next stage of Warhammer 40K.

The Titan legions.

Yeah, you heard that right. Well, I'm not going to buy the Titan models from Forge World. I can't afford it. I want a Reaver Titan, and the damned thing costs over 500 pounds, which means more than a thousand dollars, both American and Singaporean currency. I shudder to think how it'll convert into yen. Above 100,000 yen, that's for sure.

So the solution is to scratch-build a Reaver Titan on my own. Build it from scratch using cheaper materials. I'll probably ask the staff at Battle Bunker for advice, but basically I'm considering using a combination of cardboard, PVC plastic and maybe bottle caps and whatever I think necessary. Or a Gundam model kit. We'll see. Though Gundam looks more like Tau......

Obviously, my hand-made Titan isn't going to look like the real thing, but hey, I'm not using it in official games or tournaments, so I don't think my opponent will mind if I bring a horrid-looking Titan and plonk it down on the table. We'll have a good laugh, and I'll cry as I watch my 1,475-point Reaver Titan melt and blow up after he drops over ten meltagun tactical marine squads in front of it. I hate drop pods.

The other thing I'll build is my Imperial Armored Battle Group. I somehow got my hands on the Imperial Armor volume 1 2nd edition, and I really like tanks. I'm a big fan of armor. So yeah, I want to try using the Imperial Guard Armored Battle Group and just field nothing but tanks! Woohoo!

I know I'm a big fan of the Adeptus Mechanicus. But I also absolutely love the Imperial Guard. As you can see, most of the novels I read are about the Imperial Guard. Not Space Marines. Come to think of it, other than the bunch of Horus Heresy books that I don't really like (the only one I like was Mechanicum, which you all can tell from my enthusiam and intention to write a review on it) and the Grey Knights omnibus, I do not read any Space Marine novels at all. The majority of the novels I read are overwhelmingly Imperial Guard with a sizable portion (about one-third) of the Adeptus Mechanicus (I include Titans, Imperial Knights, Skitarii and Tech-priests in here). Well, the number of Imperial Guard novels I read will continue to rise because of Colonel Iron-hand Straken and the sheer number of Gaunt's Ghosts series. So yeah, I'm at heart an Imperial Guard player.

Hmm, actually I best represent the Imperium of Man. My heart consists of two eagle's heads as seen in the Aquila. One of Earth and one of Mars. So I'm half Imperial Guard and half Adeptus Mechanicus. Well, the Imperial Guard regiment of Draconis III is closely related and very dependent on the Adeptus Mechanicus and the forge world of Draconis IV, particularly because they are an armored regiment. Or mechanized regiment. Whichever word you prefer. So they rely on a lot of armored units, tanks and gunships, much more than infantry. They try to eschew infantry. So they're basically like the Armageddon Steel Legion or the mechanized infantry and tank regiments of so many Imperial Guard armies. Focusing solely on armored tanks and formidable gunships than infantry.

If you remember, I already have a couple of Leman Russ Executioners.


Remember these guys?
Not to mention I still have a giant Stormsword/Doomhammer/Shadowsword still waiting to be used. I really need to use it in a game.

Doomhammer ready for action!
So yeah, I'm going to weep when I finally field a whole regiment of tanks, and then drink my opponent's tears. Tears of joy, that is, when he wrecks my armored columns of tanks with either tons of melta or a sea of haywire attacks. Ouch. Well, at least I tried.

Anyway, I'll need a Leman Russ Vanquisher with lascannon, because y'know, to take advantage of the BS 4 upgrade that the Tank Commander gives, and up to 4 Leman Russ Battle Tanks. Yay. This will give me either the option to play standard 40K, with a pure Imperial Guard Combined Arms Detachment that includes a Lord of War, or a conventional Imperial Guard Combined Arms Detachment allied to an Imperial Guard Armored Battle Group. In other words, lots of tanks. Yay. Even more tanks.

So the pure, completely conventional Imperial Guard Combined Arms Detachment would look like this:

Shadowsword.

Tank Commander in Leman Russ Vanquisher with lascannon squadroned with a Leman Russ Battle Tank.

Veteran squad with 1 heavy flamer and 2 flamers

Veteran squad with 3 plasma guns

2 Vendetta gunships

Leman Russ squadron of 3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks

Leman Russ Executioner with plasma cannons

Alternatively, I can swap out 1 Leman Russ Battle Tank and 3 plasma guns for a 2nd Leman Russ Executioner, and equip it with a lascannon. I have the Doomhammer list as well, which is extremely plasma heavy and relies more on plasma veterans, so it doesn't have as many tanks as the Shadowsword regiment. Oh well. At least I tried. There's the Stormsword list, which swaps the Shadowsword for a Stormsword (obviously), discards 2 Leman Russ Battle Tanks for a Leman Russ Executioner with plasma cannons and lascannon that's upgraded to Knight Commander Pask. On the plus side, both Veteran squads gain the Forward Sentries doctrine with the leftover points. Oh well.

As for the Imperial Guard Armored Battle Group, I exploited the cheaper points in the Imperial Armor volume 1 2nd edition for the Vendettas, and made use of the non-requirement for the company command tank to need a squadron buddy. Additionally, I could use the Beast Hunter Shells that's unique to the group and have tanks for troops! I wasn't sure what's the point of allying the Imperial Guard, but I did so because the Leman Russ Executioners cost cheaper in there, and apparently I need to have infantry to screen my tanks from being charged in assault. Good meat shield in case my opponent drops drop pods of tactical marine squads in front of my hapless tanks like that disastrous game so long ago. I lost both my Leman Russ Executioners in just the first turn. Ouch.

Anyway, the list looks like this:

Imperial Armor Armored Battle Group Army

Company Command Tank, Leman Russ Vanquisher with lascannon and Beast Hunter Shells

2 Battle Tank Squadrons of 2 Leman Russ Battle Tanks each

Imperial Navy Gunship Support, 2 Vendetta Gunships

Imperial Guard Combined Arms Detachment

Knight Commander Pask in Leman Russ Executioner with plasma cannons and lascannon

Leman Russ Executioner with plasma cannons

2 Veteran squads

Imperial Knight Oathsworn Detachment

Knight Paladin


It would have been awesome if I could afford a Knight Crusader. I mean, I could swap out the  Tank Commander in Leman Russ Vanquisher and 2 Leman Russ Battle Tanks for a single Knight Crusader, which does the job a lot better, but doesn't fit the fluff just as well. Huh. Maybe I should try that. I mean, the tanks fire 1 S8 AP2 Armorbane shot, 1 lascannon shot, 6 heavy bolter shots that snap-shoot and 2 battle cannon shots while the Crusader fires 2 battle cannon shots, 3 S8 AP 3 Stormspear rocket shots, 12 Avenger gatling cannon shots with rending and 6 heavy stubber shots that don't snap-shot. And it's super-heavy, so it doesn't get immobilized or blown up upon a penetrating hit and I don't have to worry about weapons being destroyed. Hmm...on the other hand, the Knight Crusader is only AV13 as opposed to having 3 AV14 walls, and has 6 hull points as compared to 9.

Anyway, there's still a lot of things to consider and I'll take my time revising the lists. I don't know. We'll see. I want to try a Steel Host list, but obviously the Hydra makes it difficult. Oh well. We'll see. Anyway, look forward to the review of Ice Guard tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ciaphas Cain

Today's review will be about the Ciaphas Cain series. Not the novels or individual omnibus, but an overview of the entire series. There are plenty of reviews on the individual novels, and on the omnibus such as Hero of the Imperium and Defender of the Imperium, so there is no real need for me to review them one by one. Rather, this is a review for people who wonder if they should collect the series or at least start reading it.

My personal answer to that is a resounding yes.

The Ciaphas Cain series is, quite simply put, the best series in the entire Warhammer 40K universe. My humble opinion, of course, and please take note that all the reviews and stuff written here are of my personal opinion and in no way reflects the majority view and I have and will never intend them to be facts. So feel free to disagree. Anyway, the Ciaphas Cain series is my favorite, and in my own opinion, the best series in the Warhammer 40K universe. It brings a breath of fresh air and plenty of good humor to a universe otherwise steeped too much in the whole grimdark thing and takes itself way too seriously. Yeah, I know the whole point of the Warhammer 40K universe is to throw the poor residents living in it into despair by pitting them against innumerable odds and having them die horrible deaths, but honestly, I'm sick of all that. Many of the novels tend to take themselves far too seriously and have bad things happen for the sake of happening. Characters die when they don't need to, making it feel forced, and sometimes the theme is taken too far that it's hard to believe and it leaves a very bad aftertaste after reading it. Dead Men Walking, for example, and many of the Horus Heresy books, kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth with their dark and pessimistic endings and unfortunate protagonists and characters.






This is where Ciaphas Cain comes in. Tech-priest does this as well, with an awesome twist to its ending, but Ciaphas Cain...well, he's on a whole new level. Sandy Mitchell was apparently influenced by Blackadder, and anyone who watches that series and sees Rowan Atkinson in it knows how hilarious it is, and it shows. Ciaphas and his sidekick, Jurgen, make an amazing pair who brave dangers, survive them through ridiculously good fortune to the extent I can't stop laughing at how they simply bluff their way out of death or luck out in supposedly one-sided combat, and build upon their exaggerated reputation. Well, Ciaphas anyway, because poor Jurgen often gets ignored and sidelined in the universe's popular media. And the media itself and its depiction of Ciaphas and his so-called feats are also hilarious.

The first story where Ciaphas mistakenly saves Jurgen and ends up leading his allies to decimate the Tyranids through his supposed blunder is funny and an enjoyable read. The novel where Ciaphas crashes into Perlia and inadvertently saves it when he gathers a ragtag band of soldiers and misfits to save his skin rather than retake the planet is incredibly impressive. The sequel to that, where Ciaphas returns to Perlia to drive out the forces of Chaos with his trainees, is equally fun and enjoyable - particularly the ending where he literally kicks the villain's ass. And the novel where Ciaphas meets up with an old classmate Commissar who is attached to the Tallarn Desert Raiders who tries to get him into trouble out of jealousy and old prejudices is so amusing I actually burst out laughing when reading specific passages of how Ciaphas unintentionally turns the tables on Tomas Beije through heroic feats such as besting a couple of Chaos Space Marines in melee combat and figuring out the truth. I think Ciaphas and Beije were in Kastafore then. And Beije ended up being charged and punished by the same tribunal he reported to in order to get Ciaphas into trouble, which had me in stitches.

However, by the end of the second omnibus, the whole formula gets pretty stale and repetitive. Ciaphas's trademark "if I had known what was going to happen, I would never have done this and would have gone as far away from the planet as posisble" lines get dry and downright annoying. Yeah, we heard you say that the past nine novels. Time to change it up, all right? There's only so many times he can repeat that without the readers getting sick of it. And the stories are usually the same. Ciaphas makes the mistake of believing this task is easy, gets tricked into doing it, or some accident or disaster happens, his job becomes a lot more dangerous than he realizes, he can't escape because he's either stuck in the situation or he needs to preserve his reputation, and he ends up saving the day eventually which leads to his fradulent reputation being further bloated AGAIN. Yeah, it becomes the same after nine books and while the first two omnibuses were fresh and funny to keep my interest, the last two novels were, simply put, getting stale. And hey, the poor Orks getting pummeled by a more dangerous threat...that idea was reused twice! First, the poor Orks got overshadowed by Necrons...and to make matters worse, in The Last Ditch, the poor Orks got eaten up by Tyranids! They never get a break.

Well, I do hope the Ciaphas Cain series break away from the usual "if I had known this was gonna happen......" lines and inject new forms of humor and outrageous situations in future. There is only so many times you can reuse the formula and ideas, and Ciaphas and his series are so promising in a grimdark series filled with death and people taking themselves too seriously. Yeah, I know the universe is hopeless and pessmistic, but after reading so many books where people die, Chaos sometimes prevail, the price of victory being so steep winning becomes pointless (seriously the way the Inquisition treated the Guardsmen and purged them after they won the war on Armageddon was downright disgusting and again left quite the horrible taste), blah blah....I get desensitized and numb to it. It becomes hard to care for the characters (except Ciaphas and the Mechanicus and the Imperial Knights), and I just don't want to read them. I read for fun and to enjoy myself, and if the novels I read have bitter, sad endings, grimdark stuff and somber consequences, it really leaves quite the bad and sullen taste in my mouth and it's not enjoyable or fun.

Ciaphas Cain makes Warhammer 40K fun. That's why I will continue to read the series - because following a character as fun as him is enjoyable, leaves me with a happy feeling upon completing the story, and allows me to laugh and enjoy myself at his antics. This is why I will highly recommend Ciaphas Cain, not just to Warhammer 40K fans but to casual readers who know nothing about Warhammer 40K. It can be a light, casual read, it can be read alone as a sci-fi military series without any relation to the grimdark universe of the 41st millennium.

I have not read The Emperor's Finest yet, but I will read it eventually. A friend of mine owns the book and I look forward to borrowing it from him the next time I meet him (most likely in December). I've read all the other novels and omnibuses of Ciaphas Cain, and while Sandy Mitchell's last Ciaphas Cain novel was in 2013 - The Greater Good, I hope he will add a few more to Ciaphas Cain's memoirs! There's still the Dark Eldar story, the Chaos Dreadnought story and the Tyrannic Wars!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Breaking news: Tau release

Apparently on Faeit 212 and Bell of Lost Souls, there has been a reveal of the new Tau units in the upcoming issues of White Dwarf and Warhammer Visions. Yay!

Here are the links. I'm not a Tau player so I can't say much but I love the battle suits and mecha designs of Tau even if I don't play Tau, and I think Warhammer 40K fans will be interested in them anyway.

Faeit 212

Bell of Lost Souls

So if you're interested in Tau or a Tau player, head over to their blogs and check them out.

As for me, I'll be preparing my Adeptus Mechanicus army in preparation for a clash with the new Tau army. When 2 hi-tech armies clash, only one will prevail! Well, the Adeptus Mechanicus is backward technologically when compared with the Tau, but you know what I mean.

I wonder what's going to happen to the Hammerhead gunship. It got out-performed by the Broadside battlesuits, and with the Stormsurge coming in, I think it's going to sink further into obscurity unless it has an upgrade or improvements to its current abilities and weaponry. Will they improve the Vespids too? Those guys aren't much to look at or use either......

We'll see. If I find out more information I'll let you guys know. Generally I wouldn't bother, I mean as you saw I didn't do anything on the new Necron, Eldar, Harlequinns, Space Marines, Dark Angels, Khorne Daemonkin releases. I only did on the factions that interested me, the Imperial Guard/Astra Militarium, the Militarum Tempestus, Imperial Knights, Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus. So we'll see what I can do about Tau...if you remember I had a Tau army before I got rid of it and sold them to someone else. Ha ha, so I don't mind keeping tabs on them.

Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation painted

I managed to paint my Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation. They are all black now!

And no, they are not the Dark Mechanicum. Black is cool and the main color for the Forge World of Draconis IV, as well as House Yato, the Knightly House of Draconis III. So they're black. Yay.

Black is the new cool. A full force of the Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation!

I didn't just paint them, I also got my hands on blu-tac. It's a very useful tool for customizing my models and turning my army into a flexible force with many options for weapons.

Kataphron Destroyers with both plasma culverins and heavy grav-cannons.
The Kataphron Destroyers didn't have their plasma culverins glued on for a reason. I was planning to either magnetize them but someone from Battle Bunker suggested I use blu-tac instead. And it works! It's a lot better than gluing them on or using magnets. I can swap out the weapons whenever I want.

So now my Kataphron Destroyers have both their plasma culverins and heavy grav-cannons. I kind of used blu-tac to stick the second weapon to the side so it looks like they have both, but obviously game-wise I can only choose one of them. It should be fine.

Onager Dunecrawlers with multiple weapon systems!

I did the same with my Onager Dunecrawlers. I used blu-tac to give the Onager Dunecrawlers both the Icarus array and the neutron laser, so now they can use both! Um, not really. In game, I have to choose one, and I will let my opponent know whcih one it is, but for now it's a laugh to see my own unique Onager Dunecrawlers equipped with both the neutron laser and Icarus array cannon. Funnily enough, it sort of makes sense... when the Icarus array missile pod is closed, the neutron laser swings down to point at the front instead of above. So yeah, if the Onager Dunecrawlers use the neutron laser, they can't fire the Icarus missiles and rockets. If they're using the Icarus array, the neutron laser is pointed upward and can't fire forward. So it sort of makes sense. Except that where is the power for the neutron laser coming from?

The Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation
Ready for battle! Actually I still have one last Onager Dunecrawler to build. As usual, nobody reads this blog and nobody offers any advice so I ended up making the decision myself. Anyway, the staff at Battle Bunker already recommended me to have 3 Onager Dunecrawlers to make full use of the Field Harmonics so that the emanatus force field confers a 4+ invulnerable save for all 3 of them. Besides, I like the Onager Dunecrawler more than the Ironstrider Ballistarius. The flexibility of 3 Icarus arrays or 3 neutron lasers, complete with a 4+ invulnerable save, better front and side armor than the Ironstrider Ballistarius's AV 11, surpasses the poor Ironstrider Ballistarius in every way.

I can't wait to try them out in a game!

By the way, I've finished reading my Japanese light novel so it'll only be a matter of time before I finish the Starfist novel I'm reading right now and move on to the Mars trilogy. In the meantime, I'll be continuing reviews for the Ciaphas Cain series and Mechanicum by Graham McNeill. Maybe I'll throw in one for Ice Guard, but not Dead Men Walking as I no longer have that book (and I didn't like it). I'm daunted by the prospect of following Gaunt's Ghosts, so I probably won't read much of them for any reviews, but if there are other stuff you think I should read, please go ahead and recommend me.

I avoid Space Marine novels because of how generic they are and I prefer to read about the Imperial Guard and Adeptus Mechanicus (I really prefer the underdogs, and Space Marines always tend to be the damned heroes who save the day). Um, I don't know if I should write a review for the Grey Knights omnibus by Ben Counter - as I said, I don't really like Space Marine novels, but Grey Knights tend to be an exception beacuse of their whole anti-daemon and daemon hunter lore, plus rather than be grown in vats by gene-seed and stuff, the Grey Knights are recruited by getting psykers and then performing surgery on them. I think. I'm not sure, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, unless I get feedback and comments requesting a review for Grey Knights omnibus, I probably won't write a review for them. Besides, there are already countless reviews about the series that are writtern far better than anything I can write, so it's fine. I'm just writing book reviews about the series I love for the fun of it rather than any real need to inform people about how good they are. The Grey Knights omnibus and Dead Men Walking turn out to be extremely dark, too dark for me, which is why I'm not enthusiastic about writing stuff about them. I really enjoyed the Grey Knights omnibus and it was a fun read, but really, the ending of Hammer of Daemons turned me off. One thing about Space Marines novels that I really, really find unpleasant is the way they treat the Imperial Guard as mere fodder.

To me, the Imperial Guard are ordinary men and women, each with their individual lives, hopes, dreams, despair and fear. That is why the Imperial Guard novels and series are much more appealing to me. Well, I'll read Gaunts's Ghosts one day but the sheer number of volumes that I need to start reading puts me off. Dan Abnett is a good writer, no doubt about that - I really loved his Titanicus - but there are far too many Gaunts's Ghosts for me to follow, and I'm very particular in that I must absolutely read them in order (which is why I waited for Priest of Mars instead of reading Lords of Mars and Gods of Mars despite getting my hands on them first). With a few of the volumes out of print, and me being reluctant to read ebooks (my eyes can't take it), it's really a daunting task to start following Gaunt's Ghosts.

That's why I'm very angry with the disrespect and casual disregard of the Imperial Guard in most Space Marine novels. They are treated as cannon fodder, killed off horribly wihtout being given a fighting chance. I don't want to spoil Hammer of Daemons, but the Imperial Guard characters weren't even given a fighting chance. They were so well developed, so well written and so relatable I couldn't help but love them, feel for them and cheer for them despite Alaric being the protagonist (and he's a Grey Knight). In fact, I actually like the Imperial Guard characters more than the complex and growing Alaric, who despite his flaws and ruthlessness, is actually a likeable character.

However, Alaric's glaring "betrayal" or abandonment of the Imperial Guard characters at the end, and the manner in which the hope I had when they escaped Khorne's world was cruelly dashed, destroyed any like or enjoyment I had from reading the book. After overcoming so many trials and obstacles in Khorne's world, the way Ben Counter callously killed off the Imperial Guard in the Hammer of Daemons by use of a stupid daemon was just....yeah, callous. And once again typical of how the Imperial Guard are treated in most Space Marines novels. They valiantly fight, out their lives on their line, have hopes and dreams, are used without regard by the Space Marines, sometimes even help and save the Space Marines, but in the end they are coldly discarded to one side and killed off for no other reason than because the Warhammer 40K is "grimdark".

I'll just amuse myself with Ciaphas Cain, thank you very much.

This is also why I like the Sanctus Reach campaign. Castellan Jakren Stein actually saved the Space Wolves from daemons, the Imperial Guard rolling their heavy armor and artillery in to blast the invading daemons to bits and rescuing the Space Wolves, particularly Logan Grimnar and Ragnar Blackmane from a massive daemonic engine. I also loved the addition of the Knight houses, normal men piloting massive suits of armor to fight alongside their Cadian allies to stem the green tide of Orks that seek to destroy Alaric Prime. Their battle was a great and fierce one, not as one-sided slaughter as the Tyranids devoured the Imperial Guards and Sisters of Battle defending the Shield of Baal. And unlike the Shield of Baal campaign, the Imperial Guard rescued the Space Wolves unlike the Imperial Guard in Shield of Baal needing to be rescued by the Blood Angels.

I'm hoping for another campaign like Sanctus Reach where the Imperial Guard fight alongside Imperial Knights and perhaps the Skitarii and their Adeptus Mechanicus masters, the Tech-priests. Maybe I should try creating my own campaign. We shall see. Ha ha. I'll complete War Convocation before attempting to outline a campaign like Sanctus Reach.

For now I'll look forward to completing my Adeptus Mechanicus army. The only thing I'm missing now is a Titan! I need a Warlord Titan to represent the Collegia Titanica in Draconis IV, the Legio Draco. The problem is, I can't afford a Titan in real life, with the Forge World charging over a few thousand dollars for a single Titan model.

So...I'll see what I can do.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tempestus

Tempestus is the first book written by Braden Campbell in the Shield of Baal series, a campaign released by Games Workshop that involves the Tyranids. I liked the first book of the Shield of Baal, Leviathan...until the ending, that is, which pissed me off to no end. The second book of the Shield of Baal campaign, Exterminatus was even worse, fuelling my already boiling rage with similar reasons to the Sanctus Reach campaign, but I really like the Sanctus Reach campaign a lot more. But both campaigns had the same trope of the Imperial Guard - now called Astra Militarum because of copyright issues - getting their asses kicked before the supposedly vaunted Space Marines come down to save their sorry asses.

We Imperial Guard never get the respect we deserve. Bloody hell. At least the Cadians in the Sanctus Reach campaign actually saved the Space Wolves in the nick of time with the overwhelming firepower their armored vehicles were so well known for, but in Shield of Baal? Nope. We don't even get that little bit of satisfaction. We got totally destroyed and annihilated by the damned Tyranids.



Well, anyway, this isn't a review about the Shield of Baal campaign. It's a review of Tempestus, the novella that narrates one aspect of the Shield of Baal campaign, focusing on a squad of Tempestus Scions...except that it doesn't. No, really. Despite the novella being titled Tempestus, the Militarum Tempestus isn't the focus of the story. Instead, the story was better told through the viewpoints of Inquisitor Ulrich of Ordo Xenos, Canoness Grace and Sister Margene. Tempestor Chavis, while the narrator for a huge portion of the novella, is pretty dry and devoid of character. Yeah, I get that he's well trained and tempered into a human weapon by the Schola Progenium, he's emotionless and completely loyal to the Imperium, obeying whatever Ulrich tells him to do, he's cold, efficient and ruthless...but...he feels more like a machine. Even more so than the Skitarii or Tech-priests from the Adeptus Mechanicus. In this aspect, Rob Sanders, who wrote Skitarius and Tech-priest, excels in characterizing supposedly emotionless and mechanical characters, much more so than Braden Campbell.

That is not to say Campbell is a poor writer. No, not at all. He does a very good job in fleshing out the Adepta Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle, with Canoness Grace particularly standing out as a very strong woman with a powerful personality and good faith. Ulrich, unfortunately, falls into the old, cliched trap of being the typical self-centered villain who only does stuff for his own self-interests and benefits, only to once again fall victim to the same old cliches that consume such villains. Still, he provides an interesting viewpoint from the Inquisition, even if he isn't Gregor Eisenhorn or Amberley Vail, he gives the story a much-needed direction amidst the incoming chaos of the Tyranids' invasion.

Campbell also did well in bringing in Lovecraftian themes by including Cthulhu mythos and other disturbing elements. Mutations being seen as bestowments being a good example, and the legend of Shelse, the goddess of brine pining for Ixoi, the moon god. Such mythology and the native cults that worship Shelse bring a lot of detail into the story, building quite an elaborate world where it isn't just the imperial creed that believers believe in.

The Tempestus Scions, on the other hand, are disappointing. Tempestor Chavis is quite dull, to be honest, as is his squad. Yeah, they are the elites, but they don't feel like it. They just feel like an Imperial Guard squad of troopers who got brainwashed, indoctrinated and armed with better weaponry and vehicles. The Taurox Prime was certainly an interesting addition to the story, but it would have been better to see the Tempestus Scions Deep Striking from the air from their Valkyries and actually do something befitting their status as the best of the best, the most elite of the Imperial Guard. I would much rather read about the Cadian Kasrkin, at least they have much more personality and motivation. Chavis and his squad are just dull....much like the dull and unfeeling Grenadiers of the Death Korps of Krieg from Dead Men Walking by Steve Lyons. And I didn't like Dead Men Walking either.

The action scenes are where Tempestus excels in, but as I said, they don't really do the Tempestus Scions justice. They don't feel like elite warriors, just Guardsmen armed with more powerful Hotshot lasguns. So they experienced the toughest and most Spartan training the Imperium has to offer (and that's saying a lot) and all they can do is...shoot better with more powerful weapons? Sure, they may be disciplined, fearless and ruthless, but so are the Cadians and Catachans. Hell, even the Valhallan Ice Warriors in Ice Guard, also by Steve Lyons, seem just as disciplined and determined as the Tempestus Scions. I like Ice Guard a lot more than Dead Men Walking, as you can tell, so Lyons isn't a bad writer.

Being a novella, the length of the story isn't sufficient to provide character development and growth for the Tempestus Scions, and this is further aggravated by splitting the story into several viewpoints. Just as well, since the threads involving the Adepta Sororitas - especially Canoness Grace - and Inquisitor Ulrich are more interesting anyway. It would have been more gratifying if Tempestor Chavis grew more independent and developed more of a character or personality rather than just obeying orders all the time, questioning Ulrich and his motives while maintaining his loyalty to the Imperium, or clinging to his faith with determination like Halrdon-44 Stroika did in Skitarius. We didn't get that, and there probably isn't enough length to delve into that anyway, plus the fact that the Sisters of Battle make for better characters means this book shouldn't have been titled or Tempestus or tried to focus on them.

Overall, Tempestus makes for a fun read, but don't expect great characterization or hold high hopes for the supposedly elite Militarum Tempestus.