Sunday, 28 December 2014

End of year awards - The Kriegy awards 2014

Welcome to the second annual Kriegy awards. Yep, it’s award season and as I have complete and utter contempt for any awards I decided to do my own.

Why? Well, it’s because as far as I’m concerned my opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. So if you have issues with that, I suggest you take it up the with esteemed Kriegy awards committee*

*note….. that’s me

Anywho, this is totally and 100% my view on stuff. So, without further fanfare, the awards!

P.S all awards are based on stuff I have seen and done in the last year, I don’t really care when stuff was initially done or when it was released.

PPS. I'm probably not going to have the same awards every year, because effort!

The "F**k this, I give up" award

For model that most made me want to give up painting because anything I do will not be as cool as that.

For the second year in a row, this goes to a Warmachine Collosal that is so over the top it makes my brain ache. Seriously, you have to go to this page  and look at the full insanity, including videos.

In short, all it's guns work, they fire smoke, have sound effect and it's painted beautifully. I mean seriously...... this is insane and awesome in equal parts. 

The "What am I even looking at" award

For model that made me think the sculptor was smoking crack or just really really high. 


This has actually been a pretty good year for GW's sculptors, and they have done some amazing figures, some of which I will mention in a later award.

But this figure is just daft.

It takes the silliest tropes of the 40k setting and powers them out to the nth degree to create something that ends up being an homage to Santa Claus. Oh, those traits are oversized models, impracticality, cultural appropriation and covering every inch of something with decorations. I'm surprised the sled isn't a brick though, most marine stuff this days looks like a shoebox with guns on it. 

Anyway, this figure is just silly. Oh, and if you don't think it looks like santa..... you're wrong. 

The Axos the Dark Rose memorial award

For best role-playing game book and or supplement.

What is amazing about this award is that it comes down to two different RPG's i've played and run this year. Edge of the Empire by Fantasy Flight Games, and Age of Rebellion, also by FFG.

So, lets just give it to FFG for creating the best Star Wars action based system yet. d20 starwars bugged me because it was d20, with all the problems that came with that, even if Saga edition was very solid. D6 starwars, while great, also had problems, mostly with character development and bloat. 

I've really enjoyed the games I've played and ran using this system and i'm looking forward to seeing how they do the hardest bit of Star Wars gaming, making force users fun but not broken. 

Last year Iron Kingdoms won, and i'm still enjoying that game as well. 

The "This isn't fun anymore" award

For the single moment that turned me off a game system. 

So, I was playing Netrunner a lot last year and in the first half of this year. For a while, I was playing reasonably well and was winning over 80% of my games on OCTGN as well as the majority in person, even with wacky decks.

I decided to enter my first card gaming tournament, and it was a small one of about a dozen players for the Wellington regional finals. Only 4 rounds of 2 games each in one afternoon, so the duration was manageable. 

I won my first 6 games and entered the final round in the lead. One more win and i would be regional champion. I then played the single worst and most annoying match of any game i have ever played in my life.

Here are what destroyed my concentration and contributed to me losing.

1.) My opponent stack shuffles. His agendas are always perfectly spaced and you can see him always shuffling his cards in groups of 5. He also shuffles in a way that shows him the bottom card of each shuffle. 
2.) He uses a non standard set up, and places resources randomly on the play area, he also tends to have 15+ things out and you lose track of where they are. 
3.) He doesn't use tokens to mark how much currency is on something, if it has a renewable amount of coin he taps it. This makes visually counting how many resources he has very difficult. 
4.) He talks at you all game, and is constantly telling you why you should be playing X and Y, and what the best counter for the last card you played is, and what he thinks is wrong with your deck construction. It's an obnoxious, non-stop barrage of how awesome he is, and you just want him to shut the fuck up. It kills your concentration. 
5.) I lost the first round as corp because i didn't see a 1 resource card he had placed near his discard pile without a token on it, so when i corp troubleshooter-ed to keep him out of a remote that i could have scored to win. I paid 1 less than i needed to, because I thought I had spent exactly enough to win. Not seeing his hidden card. And he was "oh, i have 1 more credit from this card concealed over here, oh, I guess I am through". I was not happy. 
6.) I lost the runner game in 3 rounds because i wanted to either win in 3-5 rounds or die, as I was just about to punch him in the throat.

All in all, it was the worst gaming experience i've ever had and it killed my interest in netrunner dead. I'll probably pick up the game again, but fuck playing in a tournament if I have the possibility of playing that asshole again. 

I came second, but I'd rather I hadn't played at all. 

I got some nice stuff for coming second. 

The "leading cause of paper cuts this year" award

For best card game of the year

Android Netrunner is still the best card game on the market, despite my horrible experience with it this year. 

I want to get back into the game, but I have many other things on the go at the moment. It is still a great experience of bluff, counter bluff, resource management and risk taking. I suspect that sometime next year I will start playing again. Hopefully by then, a certain person will have fallen down a sewer opening and been eating by mole people. 

The "I like where this is going" award

For best model range of the year. 

First off, an honorable mention to Privateer Press and the recent run of Trollkin models. That's some impressive work right there. 

But the king of cool new figures this year is Forge World, and in particular, the Primarch range of figures. 

They are simply works of art, no other way to describe them. It seems like Forge world and GW main are going on different trajectories, with one focusing on doing cool stuff, while the other one keeps putting out daft looking stuff. 

30k is by far the most exciting GW property around these days, and the Primarch figures are a big part of that. 

The "The distant future, the year 2000" award

For game idea/concept that could change the gaming world. 

Heroforge are doing something very interesting, and I recommend checking out their work. 

What does the scouter say!
To summarize, they have a "character generator" that is not too dissimilar from many computer games on the market. The twist is that they will 3D print your custom figure and send it to you. 

Now, until i see one in person, i won't suggest rushing off and buying a load of figures. But the potential this application and idea has is immense. 

3D printing has such potential, and if they can sort out quality issues, it can be a huge thing for the miniature gaming world. 

I'm cautiously excited to see how this all turns out. 

The "Toy soliders are serious business!" award

For miniatures game of the year

X-wing and Warmachine are still kings of the heap when it comes to competitive wargaming, but i'm going to give my award to a leftfield game that I impulse purchased, and then got dozens of hours of gameplay from. 

I got zombicide, thinking it would be a light-weight silly game with cool figures. I wasn't prepared for how tense and tactical the game would be. It's also a game my partner really enjoys and that helps a lot. 

It's not cheap, but it's simple to learn, has great tactical depth and gets very tense, very quickly. It's also a game where you cannot be complacent, as one bad move can completely ruin you.

Plus, rolling 25 dice a turn with a chainsaw is just fun!

The "Ouch, my Wallet" award

For game that ruined my bank account. 

My fleet.... missing my Rebel aces, Decimator and YT2400
This could be Warmachine, as I purchased the rest of the figures needed to finish my Cygnar army this year. But, to be honest, for Dollars spent vs Games played, it has to be X-Wing. 

I don't want to play X-Wing competitively, mostly because i know a few people locally who do play that way and they are douches. 

I'm just a Star Wars Junky, and I'm buying the figures mostly as toys. The few casual games i've played have been an absolute blast though and I do recommend the system highly. 

The "Sean Lincoln service to gaming in the community" award

For best local game support and generally being a good bastard

Goes to local Press Ganger, Chris Otton aka Palarel. 

Chris not only ran a good number of the Warmachine events in Wellington this year, like he has every year for quite a while. He also ran a long term "Iron Kingdoms" campaign with me and another 5 trouble makers. 

Anyone who can GM that group for an extended period of time has the patience of a saint. Cheers Chris. 

The "What shall we do tonight, Pinky" award

For best boardgame of the year

Hands down, my best boardgame of the year is Spartacus. 

Not that long ago, a boardgame based on any established IP was a recipe for buying a garbage boardgame. 

Battlestar Gallactica smashed that boundary, proving that you could take a TV series and make a stellar game out of it.

Spartacus is in the same ballpark as Battlestar. It's fun, it's tense, it has loads of space to mess with each other, and it's usually very close. 

Honorable mention to "Dead of Winter", which arrived late in the year and is also a very good game. 

The "Golden Kriegy" award

Overall winner For best game system of any kind for the year

A hard choice this year as my time was split between many systems and many different things. So lets list the game's I really enjoyed this year. 

X-Wing, Spartacus, Iron Kingdoms, FFG Star Wars RPG, Warmachine, Zombicide, Dead of Winter, Mansions of Madness and Eldritch Horror. 
So now it's confession time. I have been designing a game engine that will allow me to run a massive Star Wars epic campaign next year that will use X-Wing, Imperial Assault and Armada to supplement a roleplaying game. I've spent a lot of time building it, and that's because Age of Rebellion got me interested in running the campaign. 

So the Winner of the Golden Kriegy award, is Age of Rebellion. 

Oh, and if your curious about how much work i've put into the game, here's a "welcome to" document of the sector that my players and I built to play in.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fallen expectations – A Horus Heresy Review

What The Black Library says about the book

With news of Horus’s treachery spreading across the galaxy, the Great Crusade grinds to a halt as the primarchs and their Legions decide where their loyalty lies – with the Emperor, or with the rebel Warmaster. The Dark Angels, too, face a time of testing, both among the stars and on their home world Caliban. Luther, once Lion El’Jonson’s trusted second-in-command, now languishes as an exile in all but name while his master struggles to thwart the traitors’ advance upon the forge world Diamat. But an ancient evil gathers its strength beneath the surface of Caliban, and the First Legion will soon be thrust into a deadly conflict where all that they know will be cast into doubt.

What the book is really about?

I tried to like this novel, and I sort of do. But it is not a novel.

It’s two related novellas alternating chapters, nothing more and nothing less. The real problem is that the A Story is quite interesting, while the B story is pretty much filler.

The sad thing is the B Story is the one that features the Primarch.

Story A – Caliban in Crisis

In short, the A story focuses on the protagonists from “Descent of Angels”, Zahariel. Now a fully-fledged librarian and the right hand man of Luther. Zahariel. Luther and a large group of other Dark Angels have been sent from the fleet back to Caliban in a state of exile. Nominally, they are put in charge of improving recruitment and traingin for the Legion, but the reality sets in that they have been banished. Hence the book title, Fallen Angels.

The story rockets ahead 53 years from when they were exiled, and we find Caliban a changed world. The forests are gone, having been replaced with Imperial industry and cities. In response to these changes, rebellion and dissent has been spreading across Caliban. Luther, as champion of the Caliban people has done little to supress the rebellions and he cannot bring himself to wage war on his own people.

I like how this change is presented, and the rationale of the rebellion is totally logical. The Imperium is a curse to the people of Caliban, they completely destroy Caliban’s way of life, their culture and traditions. It’s such a rapid and extreme example of colonialism and cultural imperialism. Simply put, the people of Caliban have a perfectly justified belief that their way of life is being destroyed, because it is.

The way the Rebellion unfolds is clever and well done (even if some of the rebels are a bit thick at times). There are some great climatic moments as well as the doom of Caliban rapidly approaches. And the final reveal and twists are quite well executed. If this was a stand-alone novella, I would think quite highly of it.

Story B – Nemiel and Johnson faff do nothing of importance.

Ok, this isn’t a bad story. It’s problem is that it’s a largely meaningless story. The final scene, intended as a “M. Night Shyamalan” style “what-a-twist” just kills the story. And I mean, it kills it deader than Elvis.

To summarise what goes on, Johnson, after finding out Horus has rebelled has a brilliant idea. He decides to hit a forge world that can supply Horus, and to get his hands on some secret weapons that could be used for great effect during the heresy.

He “somehow” defeats a larger fleet with….. look, I have a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies and I still don’t really get what Brilliant thing he does to win the Space Battle. So let’s just say he “Primarchs” the Space Battle and lands his troops in the forge.

After a few encounters, the baddies are defeated, but Horus’s dudes will be back. Nemiel does some detective work with his squad, there are betrayals, and a marine vs marine fight, where Johnson kills no named Sons of Horus.

Then, after securing the Siege Weapons he hands them over to his Brother Primarch….. Perturabo of the Iron Warriors. So the whole story resulted in sod all happening. Which is exactly my issue (well, one of many) with Battle for the Abyss.

And the story isn’t bad.  Nemiel and his squad are quite well depicted, and the actions scenes are reasonably well done. It’s just that the other story is far more interesting and actually has stuff happen in it.

The Hero-Protagonist?

Zahariel returns from Descent of Angels and is the Protagonist for Story A. Zahariel is still a wonderfully flawed character, but this time he is more certain and defined with his actions. Considering how much Luther loses the plot in this story, he pretty much is the only person keeping a level head. He has to make horrible decisions and he does them well. I also love how you are left with some questions about him at the end. Is he corrupted, or is he the only man on Caliban still loyal?

His story is one of love left to die through lack of attention. He wants to serve the Primarch and the Emperor, but 53 years of being ignored would really wear you down.

Nemiel has grown awesomely in 53 years away from Zahariel. Clearly, the need to compete with his psychically advantaged cousin has driven him to succeed greatly. He’s basically a model marine and has become a Chaplain. Now, in the Heresy, the Chaplains are the guys who keep morale up by being awesome and hardcore, not by being preachers. And Nemiel is suitably hardcore in this book. I also love how he puts his Primarch on the spot and challenges him. Very few characters in the Heresy books openly challenge their Primarch like Nemiel does, and that trait endears him to me.

Random note: So it turns out Astelan, the dude from the slightly forgettable short story in Tales of Heresy is a supporting character in this book. Somehow, on first reading, I completely missed that.

Why are there humans in my book about Super powered Space Marines

The human characters in the story are a little weak and two dimensional. With the exception of the two knights of Caliban, they are bordering on cliché. Magos Bosk is the self-important bureaucrat, Lord Thuriel a pompous noble, Governor Kullik, a hardass grizzled veteran.

They aren’t bad characters, but they aren’t exactly interesting either.

MVP – Sergeant Kohl and his squad

One of the paradoxes of this book is that the characters in the meaningless story are written better than the characters in the story of substance. Zahariel is quite good in the main plot, but the supporting cast of Luther, Cypher and others are pretty flat.

Sergeant Kohl is just a character that made me laugh. He just has a dead pan style of black comedy that appeals to me. A few lines from him, and other members of the squad and I had their characters down. The squad made the action scenes of the B story interesting enough to read and stay interested in, even if the plot didn’t feel like it was doing much.

I think every writer of military fiction should watch the first half of Aliens. James Cameron does an amazing job of introducing the marines, and within a line or two of dialogue you know that squad and you feel for them. That film is the benchmark for me of creating an ensemble squad of characters in a short amount of time. And the dialogue is some of the most quotable material in all of fiction.

Someone doesn't like the cornbread

Worst Character – Luther

Honestly, this should be Lion El’Johnson but I’ll cover him later on.

Luther is just pants. This is another example of the Horus Heresy book’s tendency to “tell but not show” why people are awesome. We are continually told that Luther was “the most awesome dude ever, and if Johnson wasn’t around he would have done the most awesome things ever”, yet he is portrayed as indecisive and nervous.  

The book makes Zahariel the awesome dude that actually did everything. Luther just seems to sit around, brooding and delegating the major task to Zahariel. And when an actual decision needs to be made towards the end of the book, he is indecisive and panicked.

Get to know your Legion – The Dark Angels

There are two types of Dark Angels in this book; the ones with Nemiel and Johnson, who are your regular baddass astartes, and the ones on Caliban, who are a bunch of jilted sadassess.

Nemiel’s story shows that the Dark Angels have mostly lost their “knightly” origins and have settled into the business of warfare like a regular space marine. I didn’t feel that the legion had much character though, without the knightly aspect to the Dark Angels, they are remarkably generic.

The dudes left on Caliban are just sad.

Get to know your Primarch – Lion’el R’chie

The Primarch of the Dark Angels is duller than dishwater, and frankly, I don’t get him as a character. I guess the authors of the two Dark Angels books tried to make him mysterious, but they ended up making him vague.

Like his father he suffers from the “I AM SO SMART THAT I WON’T TELL YOU WHY I DO STUFF” syndrome. I really liked it when Nemiel called him on this, and Johnson was all indignant about being called on his BS.

His practice of sending problems back to Caliban and forgetting about them is utterly brainless. It’s like the office clerk who gets behind on paperwork, so hides it in their desk so no one can see until they go on leave and someone has to cover for them (yes, I saw this happen once).

And finally, we see him get conned by one of his brothers. The Lion might be a master strategist and a combat machine, but he is a terrible judge of character.  

Why the Emperor is a giant douche

Well, not the Emperor himself this time, but his policies. Compliance sucks, it really does. Can you imagine having your whole way of life destroyed, your towns and cities replaced with massive hives and your friends and family being forced to work “quotas” in large industrial complexes while a bunch of pompous foreigners sit around living a life of luxury and cracking the whip.

It’s the kind of brutalist colonization and colonial exploitation one would expect in the Belgian Congo. Any resistance is brutally crushed. For the “saviour of mankind” his policies are very inhuman.

Moustache twirling evil-bastard award – Magos Archoi

I like the Magos Archoi plot twist, it homages Mechanicum and he manages to pull a Primarchs pants down. I like how, because they are barely human, most people find them impossible to read or understand. And given Johnsons inability to judge character it’s hardly surprising he gets duped.

While I love his trick with the torpedoes, I absolutely loathe how Johnson’s fleet bombards a forge off the planet in one fell swoop. I always thought a major forge would be a little tougher than that.

I’d also like to mention Cypher as it’s worth noting that he isn’t really a villain as such. They reveal who he is, his motivations and why he was made Cypher. If anything, it makes Johnson into a bigger fool than he already was. “ok dude, here are all my secret books of evil, um….. I’m going away for 50 years, behave”

The writing – technical review and evaluation

Mike Lee writes reasonably well, and I think he excels during action sequences. His description of the horror under Caliban is quite well written and I can’t really fault the writing in general.

The plot is what kills this book….. It’s just a bit lacking.

Dark Angel fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about during the Heresy books to date. I hope this story picks up a bit in its 3rd chapter.

This book gets a “Read it if you have the time, but it’s not critical to the series” rating. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Stryker 2 and 3

There are few casters in the Warmachine setting that have more impressive models than Stryker version 3.

This guy is brand new for me, and I still haven't got to put him on the table yet. But I can't wait.

There is something about a cavalry caster that just has that extra bit of grandeur and gravitas that other casters are lacking. 

The assembly of this model is a right pain, and I strongly advise anyone putting him together to glue to bottom of the banner to the side of the horse.

You might also notice that I left of the decorative plates from the side of his horse. Personally, I thought they were clunky and overkill and I think he looks better without them.

This was also an interesting activity of painting two versions of the same caster in parallel. 

I tried to have the colour schemes very close and hopefully i suceeded. Stryker2 is another new model for me, it's pretty awesome to have a whole bunch of new casters and new options to play and I think both these guys will be fun.

In addition to these two casters, I have also finished off my Sword Knights and their UA. These are the first metallic models that I have mostly painted using an airbrush. The gold, for the most part, is all air brushed and has turned out reasonably well. The PP liquid pigment metallics actually work well in the brush, so bravo PP.
10 more down, still many many models to go :( 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Nemo, Laddermore and Jakes - Cygnar update

A quick update on my ongoing quest to paint "ALL THE CYGNARS!"

And this time, it's a bunch of new models I have never got to try out on the battlefield yet.

First up, the original grumpy old man, NEMO the first.

I painted him in exactlt he same style as the Nemo2 i've laready done. And frankly, there isn't a huge amount of difference between the 3 different Nemos. All of them are old dudes, with the same hair, holding different energy staves. 

Nemo2 has been a favourite caster of mine, and I am looking forward to giving prime a real go. I think he has some game, and anyone who can assign 5 focus to a stormwall has to have something going for them. 

Jakes was a nice simple paint scheme, although, by accident, i've managed to give her a seriously bitchy face. 

I'm actually playing through the Warmachine computer game campaign at the moment, and if Jakes ends up remote as cool as she does in that game, she will be an awesome caster to play. (Field marshall - sprint for starters!)

My first game with Jakes will probably be the upcoming "tiers mandatory" tournament i'm playing in, which will have her working with Siege and a few other journeymen. 

She looks fun, and her figure is a nice female sculpt. My partner saw her and went "this girl better be badass, because she looks badass", she was slightly disappointed to find out she was a badass in training.  

And finally, Laddermore. I really wish she wasn't 5 points, I really do. 

I mean, she is an awesome figure, and give's bonuses to Stormlances which are already pretty awesome..... but 5 points for one model is still a big investment.

She's yet to hit the table, despite me running a load of cavalry recently. In a 50 point list, i may have to include her, but at 35, she just hasn't fit in yet.

Oh, i love how her cloak turned out, yellow is such a bastard to paint but it works here. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Darius Conversion - Or how i rid myself of Toilet man!

Ok, first off, I haven't got to use Darius in battle yet, so I don't really have anything to say about him asides from "theory-machine". He looks like he could be a blast with loads of jacks, but i'll wait to see how he goes before saying more. 

So i'm not going to talk about anything other than the conversion. And Boy, was this a big job. 

There is a load of green stuff on this model, as well as parts from an 90's era Chaos Dreadnought from an army I started making but never finished (I think i had the total of 1 lord, 2 tactical squads, some noise marines and a dready)

Anyway. I chopped Darius to pieces with brute force. I really wish i had a good file so i could have trimmed him up better, there are still so many uneven bits on him.

The body was turn around and modeled onto the dreadnought legs. Now I actually spit the dready legs, because the whole lower body was too wide for the base, and it would have given him too much of a "here is my crotch" stance.

Green stuff has been applied over the skulls and whatnot on the shins, to give it a more "cygnar" look as well. 

The head is off.... triumph I believe. 

The cannon was chopped off and remounted on the arm, while the spanner got added to the servo rig on the top. That's two old dreadnought smoke stacks acting as the servo arm. 

I initially tried having the hammer operating on the servo-arm, but it made the model too lop-sided and it just didn't work. So i ended up moving the hammer to his left hand.

Now i'm not wild about this conversion, it has many many flaws, but boy..... do I loathe the original model.

Oh, if your unfamiliar with it, here it is. 

Gross toilet man is gross. 

Oh, and bonus pic of his little helped "halfjacks" done in the simplest way possible. Shadowed undercoat + metal + ink wash. Done!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Tales of Heresy - A Horus Heresy short story review

Well, it’s been roughly an ice age since I wrote a book review, and here is why.

Battle for the Abyss again killed my will to read. It’s such a diabolical awful book that my enthusiasm for the project wen’t up in smoke, I limped through Mechanicum, but then I just couldn’t stick with it.

However, recently I picked up Tales of Heresy and re-read it. This review will be a little different as Tales of Heresy is a short story compilation, so I can’t really use the established format. So instead, I’m going to talk about each story briefly,
And remember, spoilers abound in these reviews. If you don’t want spoilers, go elsewhere.

Blood Games

Starting off with Dan Abnett is a good move, the man can simply write well. This story starts out incredibly strongly with a compelling narrative of some super-powered assassin dude sneaking into the imperial palace on Terra to try to attack the Emperor. It’s really tightly written and really tense and the reveal that it’s one of the Emperor’s bodyguards doing a test run on the security is excellent.

I love the concept. And it’s great to see a little more about the Adeptus Custodes, as in the 40k universe, these guys are pretty much stuck in one room doing not a lot. In 30k however, they are the super-secret service.

The second half of the story, investigating corruption on Terra is less interesting. But it’s still an insight into the custodes role as counter intelligence operatives with the Emperor’s safety as paramount. I like that Abnett explores politics and intrigue on Terra, as previously it has always felt as though terra was 100% behind the Emperor.

All in all, a great short story, but the first half is so good it makes the rest of the story feel a little flat.

Wolf at the Door

I really liked this story, and here are the reasons.

  •          The Space Wolves in the story weren’t caricatures of Norse beserkers, they felt like soldiers first, and Nordic heroes second, which was nice for me as I’ve always found the Space Wolves a little “one-note” in that regard (see Battle for the Abyss). They suffer, they struggle, and in the end they fight a good fight for all the right reasons (from an imperial point of view)
  •          The Dark Eldar make a nice change of pace as a villain in the 30k setting. It’s easy to forget, that with the heresy and chaos going on, that the good old Dark elder are still out there pillaging planets and turning farmers into hood ornaments. They are such a cartoonishly evil bad guy group, but it works for the story quite well.
  •          The locals have an interesting story, and it’s a sad “Morlocks and Eloi” story. Centuries of constant predation from the Dark Eldar have made them docile and cowardly, and it’s understandable if you’ve had your ass kicked ten thousand times that it’s best just to roll up and hope for the best. But they find their steel and mettle through the example given by the Space Wolves. Which leads to….
  •          The finale, the wonderfully written final page. Where, after finding their spirit to fight, they refuse compliance. At which the Space Wolves immediately turn from liberators into conquerors. It wonderfully demonstrates the single-mindedness of the Crusade and the soldiers fighting it.

Mike Lee does some good work here, and I have a much more favourable impression of this story compared to his Dark Angels work.

Scions of the Storm

First Heretic is a compelling story about a devoted son whose love for his father is turned to hate when his affections are rejected. It’s a compelling story about a complicated character, it is everything Scions of the Storm is not.

Ok, so it’s a short story, but it’s the second time the Word Bearers feature prominently in a Horus heresy book (after Battle for the Abyss) and they are still cartoon villians, and not in a good way.  

This is a weak story, and it covers ground that will be explored a lot better in first heretic. In short, it’s a story that adds very little material, and doesn't do a good job of showing its characters. It’s 80% action scenes and the dramatic reveal material seems rushed and ham-fisted.

This brings me to an important point about Heresy short stories. I believe they should explored non-central elements to the story, they should look at the side stories, and give extra depth and breadth to the overall Horus heresy story. Scions of the Storm fails to do this, as it treads over the same ground that will be explored in much more detail and depth in First Heretic.

You can really skip this story without losing anything.

The Voice

So, I just said that short stories should explore side characters and work to improve the depth and breadth of the setting.

The Voice is a perfect example of this mentality and is a great short story. It focuses in on the Sisters of Silence, an order of psychically negative nuns who run the Black Ships that capture, contain and transport rogue psykers.

It’s an Event Horizon style story. A black ship has gone missing in the warp and a group of sisters is sent to investigate the horrors within. The exploration is told in a tight, claustrophobic style that clearly conveys just how crazy and horrific the final moments of the original crew were.

The sisters themselves are given more depth and the nature of their order, their role in society, and the interesting foibles of a silent battle order are well covered.

The finale is a singular moment, and, while this story seems to have limited impact on the overall plot of Horus heresy it covers two major themes, the increasing religiousness of the Imperium towards the Emperor, and the willful disregard of warnings to that effect.

Just a good story, I’m glad the sisters got more screentime.

Call of the Lion


This is another pretty pointless story, so let me sum it up for you quickly.

The Dark Angels have an internal conflict, from those who were with the Lion on Calaban, and those who were part of the Legion beforehand from Terra.

The two characters in this story represent those factions, and the young turk from Calaban is a toolbox and the old guard Terran is a fuddy duddy.

That’s about the story. They go to do a compliance, the Terran want’s a peaceful approach, the Calaban undermines him and slaughter occurs. The end.
Seriously, this is a nothing story that adds nothing to the mix. Such a waste

Oh, so it turns out the Terran is a minor character in "Fallen angels", so this is the origin story for a bit part in the next book. Cool.....  

The last Church

Boy, am I conflicted about this story…. But that’s a good thing.

You see, it’s a really clever story that deals with matters of faith and fact. It’s told in the form of an exchange between the last priest on earth and , what appears to be the guy from the Imperial bureaucracy who is shutting down all the churches.

Now, with any discussion of maters of faith things get a bit tricky. But what I found interesting, as an atheist, was that I was pulling for the Priest and thought the bureaucrat was a smug self-righteous douche the whole time. He comes across as that sort of “internet atheist” that gives atheists a bad name by telling faithful people they are childish and infantile. And the priest is such a wonderfully flawed man, a man whose faith actually has made him a better person.

Of course, the reveal is that the man investigating the Church is the Emperor and that the miracle that inspired the Priest was just the Emperor using his awesome psychic powers. This still doesn’t shatter the Priests faith though, what destroys his faith is that the Emperor is a giant douche.

The Emperor wanks on about how religion has done X and Y evils, and then says “Oh yeah, I’m making an army of super soldiers to conquer the galaxy and anyone who gets in my way will get spanked”. The priest rightly calls him an autocratic douche who will damn humanity.

Yep, Priest guy is right.

Great story, Uriah the priest is a great character and I think the Emperor is at maximum douche here. He’s just a complete cockbag.

After Desh’ea

Speaking of the Emperor being a giant douche, after Desh’ea is a story about what might be his single worst move in the whole Horus Heresy (ok, he make millions of bad moves, but this is a big one)

A good short story focuses on a tight group of characters, and like “the last church” this is really just the interaction of two characters around one major narrative. It’s Angron and Kharn, meeting for the first time after the Emperor teleported him away from his army on Desh’ea and left him with “the war hounds” (The world eaters original name), without telling him who he was or what had happened.

Angron is a mess, a broken confused and enraged man who has just lost everything and does not know why. Kharn has the unenviable task of trying to talk the single most dangerous killing machine in the galaxy down and explain to him who he is, and what has happened.

It’s a tall order and the story is told extremely well, you can’t help but feel for Angron. He’s been through so much, and if the Emperor had just taken some time with him, he may not have butchered half his new command staff.

The portrayal of Kharn is also great, a loyal, yet level-headed solider who is bound by oaths and loyalty, having to do the impossible task of reasoning with his insane Primarch. It set’s him up for his own books later, and I must say that Kharn is the single biggest surprise of the whole Horus Heresy. Many other characters who become villians in 40k have been presented as thin one-dimensional hacks (Abaddon, Lucius, Bile), but Kharn is a deep character with convictions and conflict. I love how he has been treated (asides from Ben Counters treatment in Book 3, but Ben Counter sucks)

The final word on this story though, is the first word. The Emperor, what a douche.


5 good stories and 2 forgettable ones, this is certainly a short story compilation worth picking up.

Recommended reading if you are reading the series, but not required.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...