Monday, 31 October 2011

Archetypes in 40k--Choosing an Army

I've discovered that I'm a bit of a "theme" player. I build my armies around an idea, and enjoy playing out that idea on the table-top.

When I started my Tyranid force, I was just learning how to play. I spent some time on The Hive Mind forum, read Loate's unit tactica (which I post to every thread I ever read for new Tyranid players) and bought a force. As I've expanded that force, it's grown around an organically occurring theme--that of a Hive Fleet falling upon an enemy position in wave after wave of bodies. I have a fast flying wave (Gargoyles and a Flyrant), a fast ground wave (Hormagaunts, a trygon, and my favorite: Raveners) and a slow advance (Hive Guard, a walking Tyrant, tervigon and accompanying termagant screen--Tyrannofexen when the model is released). In a perfect battle for me, this army crashes upon an enemy like an advancing tide.

When Dark Eldar came out last year, I gleefully jumped the bandwagon. This time, I chose a theme deliberately--that of a lightning fast mech force, focusing almost entirely on shooting, with the exception of my Archon and her Incubi retinue. I consciously tailored my force to play completely differently than my tyranids. I wanted a change of pace, after all, so beasts and monstrous creatures really weren't worth it to me--I have more fun ones in my tyranid collection, after all! In time, I plan to expand the Coven of my force beyond the generous gift of a Talos and some Scourges one of my friends was kind enough to give to me, but not for a while, I think. My resources must be husbanded carefully, after all!

This leads me to why I'm writing this in the first place. The other day, I posted about whether I wanted to start Grey Knights or Necrons. This got me thinking about what kind of army I wanted to play next. And I can't seem to figure out what sort of army the Necrons are. That's why I'm having difficulty getting as excited about the Necrons as I had originally. Because the models are GREAT, and I want them, but I don't know how they synthesize into an idealistic whole. A Grey Knight Paladin force with a slight inquisitorial element (two models, despoiling my purity...) has a theme I can sink my teeth into. It's a rock, pure and simple, and you just let the guy across the table deal with it while you go to town.

Would it be hard to beat? Hell no. My Dark Eldar would be laughing their butts off all the way to Commoragh with Draigo's head on a pike after a game with my putative list*. But it would be fun to play, cool to model, and it would look pretty good, I hope. And it would be significantly different from what I already play (Super-fast shooting and swarms with big bugs).

I can't figure out a pull for the Necrons. They have a range of great models which I want to possess, but I'm just not sure how to synthesize them at this stage. Maybe once the Codex comes out, the clouds will open and all will be made clear. But right now, I'm just a wee bit confused.

*For those interested, it consists of Draigo, two units of 10 paladins, an Inquisitor, and a Vindicare. Just over $250 at GW's retail price for a 2000 point list.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Armies Looking Forward

So, with the new Necrons coming out, I've been considering hopping on the bandwagon for Christmas. This whole thing has got me thinking about where I'm going with 40k, and what armies I want to collect.

There's still stuff I want for the ol' Kabal and the Hive Fleet, but I can't help but look at some of the other armies.

The Necrons look very cool, but they're missing a few things. Primarily, I'm looking forward to the release of the Stalker. I'll probably decide whether I want to start a Necron army after I see their wave two of models. Moreover, I want a look at the codex, to see whether the rules and fluff are cool enough to justify a collection. I think the models will be, after seeing these guys:
One-eyed Snipers. Don't question the Necrons.
I've been thinking of a lot of list concepts, based on the models. Annihilation barges, destroyer lords, command barges, immortals (with those one-eyed heads). I want to know more details on fast attack--destroyers and Tomb Blades, mainly. I think 3x1 Heavy Destroyers will be a good choice for those of us who aren't feeling the whole Scarab thing, but I'd like to see the next wave of models.

Overall, I need a look at the codex.

Another thing that's looked cool to me since before their codex came out was a paladin-wing Grey Knights army. Draigo, twenty paladins, a vindicare, and an inquisitor grenade carrier.

Come at me, bro!
The last is largely because this is one of my favorite models in the range, and I want an excuse to own him.

I've been interested in Draigo-wing ever since I saw the grey knight paladin models, and it turns out they're rules are actually pretty good as well! I'd buy a few assault cannons to round out my psy-cannon count, and go to town. My list isn't really min-maxed, mainly because the guys I play aren't into that sort of thing, and enjoying a game of 40k means everyone should be aiming for the same level of competition. And 3 units at 2000 points isn't exactly competitive, but it would be a good 2k for my future imperial force.

And that's the other thing I'm thinking about. As much as I'm interested in other xenos, Tau and Eldar aren't what I want right now, mainly due to their age. I think the 6th edition books will be great improvements, and the models should get a nice reboot. And I don't find the Orks all that exciting.

I've got a paint and basing scheme worked out for my Space Marine chapter, and I've yet to buy a single model. It's going to be a massive and most likely costly endeavor, but it's sort of my "Somewhere over the rainbow" project. It'll happen.


Till we see that day, however, I'm faced with some choices. Begin Necrons, Grey Knights, or Space Marines? Or just build up the armies I already have?

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Scrapping Posts

So, I've had a few posts planned. Even a few partially written.

I couldn't bring myself to do a book review of Ludlum's The Holcroft Covenant. It was pretty bland, and it took me way too long just to slog through the mother. And I think it was less than 500 pages. Not at all what I was expecting from him.

My posts on my D&D campaign are stillborn when I try to write them. I just need to figure out HOW I want to present them, and then have time to do that. Because I would like to post that at some point.

I wrote up an article last night about the competitive/non-competitive debate. Essentially, the gist was that the non-competitive crowd is losing because they are too disrespectful of their fellow hobbyists. Only, I took a look at that today, and I come across as a whiny brat.


Everything is in a state of flux right now. So I'm sort of just powering through and seeing where I am once things calm down. Is this what being an adult feels like? Blugh.

On the bright side, the new Necrons look awesome! I'm tempted to put a 'cron army on my Christmas list.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Modeling Crew on My Raiders?

I've been considering how best to model the crew of The Kabal of the Vashta Nerada's* transports. Just throwing some thoughts into the aether, seeing if anything catches.

From GW's Website, without permission

The raider (and ravager) sprues come with a number of Kabalites, meant to be stationed on the vehicle itself. But is that how I want to use them? After all, they could make valuable contributions to their Archon's cause if inducted into the infantry forces.

See, I probably want a steersman (the dude at the aft) for all my raiders. But what about the gunner? Or the passengers?
As above

I'm NOT including the gunner in my first two venoms. I'm going to use some cabling from Dragon Forge in order to hook up the splinter cannon to the craft itself, so that the pilots are controlling it. Why? Well, I don't really use Wyches. The only Cult-themed units in my army are Reaver-derived (i.e., Reavers, Fighter, Bomber), and adding Wyches there would really screw up my aesthetic.

So, I've established a gunner-less precedent. But what about my raiders? I don't like the cabling idea so much for the dark lances, but I'm not crazy about adding a gunner that restricts how I can move the turret and could be used to flesh out my kabalite troops!

So what does the internet think rolling (skimming?) without a gunner is a good idea? What do people think of the minimal-crew aesthetic?

As I'm writing this, I'm having other ideas as well. Could a Sslyth work as a pilot? Does anyone with the model know if it would even fit? How would I model an AI** flying a raider? There are a lot of options for Raider and Ravager pilots that I think would be great ways to customize.

*Bonus points to whoever recognizes who I shamelessly stole that from.
**Surely the Dark Kin have no proscription against Abominable Intelligence!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Dreadfleet: Why should I care?

So, GW is releasing Dreadfleet.

Well, that's... cool?

I don't play fantasy, because the world doesn't excite me as much as the Grimdark does, and I just don't have the assets to invest in both. (Hell, I don't even have the assets to invest in one, right now.) I can't use the pieces as is, nor do they look like promising conversion parts. So, I ask again, why should I care? The game is over $100, so should I shell out that kind of cash for something I'm indifferent too, that has NO crossover potential to anything I care about?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the fantasy die-hards out there are squeeing with joy. But this isn't BFG, which was supposed to be a line in its own right. It's a limited release board game. There's NO future support coming for it. My best guess is that it's some sort of grab for attention for Fantasy, just like Storm of Magic.

But Games Workshop hasn't given me a reason to care.

I don't really get it.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Truth is Out There: The TRUE Allegiances of the Space Marines

Every good Imperial citizen knows that the Space Marines are the Emperor’s Angels of Death. But what most don’t suspect, even inside the Inquisition, is that the true master of the Space Marines is not the beloved God-Emperor. Terrifyingly, many of humanity’s protectors have fallen prey to the wickedness of xenos and the fell taint of Chaos.

For example, the Grey Knights, the super-secret awesome-incarnate chapter of Space Marines, who do battle against the foul warpspawn, are CLEARLY in the service of the Eldar. Why, that’s preposterous, you say! Sadly, ‘tis true, dear reader. One need only look at the incident aboard the craftworld Malan’tai. After the Grey Knights purged the foul daemons from the vessel, did they procure the psycho-active soulstones for the good of humanity? Or did they return the cursed artifacts to the Eldar? Truly, the conspiracy runs deep indeed.

            Even the beloved Ultramarines are not to be trusted. After they were completely wiped out by Hive Fleet Behemoth at Ultramar, the Hive Mind captured the barely surviving body of Marneus Calgar and turned him into a genestealer. Hive Fleet Behemoth then flew into a sun, so that the “Ultramarines” would live on to spread the infestation from within humanity. How else do we “explain away” that Calgar, the spiritual liege of all Astartes and keeper of the Codex, would allow a NON-codex organization to form within his own chapter? The only rational explanation is that the Hive Mind wanted to defray suspicion, and so decided to “start” an “anti-Tyranid” “group” within the “Ultramarines.”
Behold The Lord of Ultramar on his throne of LIES!
            Known to many scholars in our honored Imperium is the incident on Gehenna. The Blood Angels, led by Lord Dante himself, were doing battle with the Necrons. That is, until Marneus Calgar led a Hive Fleet to wipe him out! Then, Lord Dante showed his true colors, took command of his loyal Necron servants, and proceeded to send Calgar crying back to Macragge. Surely it has not escaped your notice, dear reader, that Dante and Deceiver both start with the letter D!? Such a thing can surely be no coincidence—they are one and the same!

            I could go on—how the Dark Angels fell to Chaos, and Cipher and his "Forsaken," as they call themselves, are desperately trying to warn Terra of the Lion’s betrayal. Of how the Black Templars may or may not be the most successful Ork WAAAGH in the history of the galaxy, masquerading as an endless human crusade. But I think that all that is pretty much self evident, now that I’ve shed light on the fact that the defenders of man…


…may not be who they seem….

Monday, 29 August 2011

In Defense of the Sisters

Let me come right out and say that I’m not a huge fan of the new Sisters of Battle White Dwarf codex. It has its share of problems, and doesn’t succeed at anything that has made 5th edition awesome in terms of army-building. It is not the awesomeness incarnate that is Phil Kelly’s Dark Eldar, which in my opinion should be the golden standard and critical benchmark by which all other books are judged. However, there are some choices in design that I think are reasonably correct, which have received no small amount of flak from the internet.

I’ve heard some whining about the new points costs of the basic Sisters themselves. I’m afraid I must disagree with the Pink Master. 12 points a model is perfectly appropriate, people! IG Veterans are 10 points with a 4+ armor save, and the sisters have a 3+, acts of faith, and increased leadership. They lack the toughness and strength of marines, and so they are 4 points less.  They should not be 9 or 10 points. This wouldn’t balance with Dark Eldar or Imperial Guard. It would drive the points of less costly units (ork boys, guardsmen, DE warriors) down to absurdly low levels over the long run, and throw off game balance in the short.

Another thing which has attracted the internet’s ire is the nerf to the Immolator. No fire point? No longer fast? GOOD! From a fluff perspective, they shouldn’t have either of them. The Immolator is a modified razorback, a variant of the rhino chassis with troop capacity and a main gun. It doesn’t have a baal engine. It doesn’t have a sunroof. The Mechanicum would be all over it if it did, and then BAM! Every rhino in the game is fast, and every razorback has firing points. You know, just so Grey Hunters can fire their meltaguns from inside their armored boxes. I will concede there are points issues with the current iteration of the immolator, but that’s a different story.

Oh, and eviscerators? A S6 chainfist is good, or at least not terrible. At least the tyranid player in me says so, so I guess that’s a result of busting tanks with my trygon. I’m not sure if it’s worth the points (because I forget how much it costs right now…) but I’m not willing to dismiss it out of hand. The jury is still out.

The Sisters ‘dex has problems, yes, and maybe even more than plague a normal codex. But there are the real problems, and there are the things people kvetch about. Now stop kvetching, and get to work making the codex good. At least till we get a full book.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Book Review: A Dance With Dragons

Let me open by saying I am a massive fan of George R.R. Martin’s work. In his A Song of Ice and Fire series, he has created what is probably the best work of fantasy since Tolkien wrote his opus. The depth of characterization, the complexity of the plot, and the excellent writing all make for a truly great series. Nothing being written today in the genre compares. If you haven’t read these books—even if you’re not a fantasy fan—read them now. Like, now! Or at least watch the HBO series (itself remarkably true to the books. From this point forward, spoilers for the books previous to Dance may be written, though I’ll try to avoid any Dance spoilers that weren’t well-known before the book came out.

Harry Potter spoiler: Snape kills Dumbledore. A Song of Ice and Fire spoiler: EVERYONE YOU LOVE IS KILLED
via gameoflols

A Dance with Dragons picks up where A Storm of Swords left off, following the events in the east (Tyrion and Daenerys) and at the wall (Jon Snow). Eventually, it catches up with the events of A Feast For Crows, and we see a number of returning viewpoints.

As always, Martin’s writing is spectacular. The prose is engaging, and the constant cliffhangers leave you always wanting more. The entire series is next to impossible to put down.

One of my most hated characters in the series has always been Theon Greyjoy—at least since the events of the second book. Whenever he came onscreen I would gloomily mutter, “Fuck you, Theon,” to myself. However, in this book, he has actually become someone worth rooting for. How does this turn around? Ramsay Bolton.

We got a little bit of the Bastard of Bolton in A Storm of Swords, but now we truly see how horrific a man is. He is probably the most axe-crazy guy in the entire series. And for y’all who have read this, that’s saying something. I mention it because it shows how adept Martin can be at manipulating his audience when he wants to. Taking someone I reviled and turning him into someone I practically cheered for? Well played.

The most agonizing moment came at the end of one of the final chapters had me shouting “NO!” at the book, only to have my protests reduced to a low whimper as I turned the page.  It’s a massive spoiler, so no more for now.

A common complaint that I’m seeing online is that, while the Westeros stories are engaging, the Essos stories revolving around Dany and Meereen drag. In hindsight, this is to a certain extent true. But to me, this did not truly disrupt the flow of the book. The problem is that Martin is setting up his chess pieces for the final two books—there’s a lot of maneuvering, but not a whole lot of checkmates. I fully understand this, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I actually really enjoy seeing Martin maneuver! Just know that there isn’t much resolution in Dance. It truly raises more questions than it answers.

What I did miss was Sansa and Sam’s POVs. I don’t really care about Sansa, but I wanted to read about Littlefinger! And Sam is one of my favorites, even moreso now that we know the maesters are up to… Something.
Mmmm... Frey...

In terms of favorite characters? Barristan the Bold came into his own, serving as a highly effective foil to Quentyn Martell. Both are idealists, but Barristan has the experience to fit his idealism into reality—and that makes all the difference. It was good to see the return of Jon Snow. Tyrion was fun, but much darker after the events at the end of A Storm of Swords. His and Jaime’s relationship had always been one of my favorite in the series, but that seems shot to hell now. I’m glad to see Ser Robert Strong is back, and I’m looking forward to that plotline developing in King’s Landing. Lord Manderly gets a special shout out for me as my favorite “new” character. He was a true Magnificent Bastard. Think about what’s in his pies. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A bit of painting and storyboarding (and Ben Drowned)

Spent an hour today doing a bit of painting--nothing fancy, just painting flesh-tones on hormagaunts (I use Dheneb Stone). I'll do the carapace next (Dark Angels Green) later, along with some detail work, washes. etc. I think I'm doing orange or orange/black CCW symbiotes, but I'm not sure. I still need to figure that out. But hey, I'm not doing any tournaments any time soon, and I have no compunction about playing with unpainted models. Not that I'm planning on playing anytime soon, either, lol.

I had an idea for a new book today, with a tentative title of "The 5th Contact Saga." I know how the story will be told, I know why it's being told, but I'm not sure what the story is yet. I was hoping to get some writing done after work, but I sat down with my computer, and I realized I didn't know where I was going! Slightly problematic.

I also found the Ben Drowned ARG via TVTropes today. That is some creepy shit, right there. Apparently the ARG (Alternate Reality Game) is on hiatus right now, so I'll need to check back there every now and again.

There will be an A Dance With Dragons review coming up soon. It was an excellent book--to any who have not read A Song of Ice and Fire, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Book Review: The Power That Preserves

Donaldson’s final book caps off the series rather nicely. Taking place 7 years after the events of The Illearth War (in the Land’s timeline), Thomas Covenant is once again summoned to fight Lord Foul. Covenant and his allies must make their way to Ridjeck Thome, while Revelstone is besieged by the forces of Satansfist, the third and final Giant-Raver.

This series kept getting better and better as the books continued. Over the course of the trilogy, Donaldson creates a plethora of extremely complex characters, with deep underlying motivations and personalities, not to mention development. Many of these come to fruition in The Power that Preserves, meaning that we see what really makes these people tick. I like that a lot; good character development is one of the things that really draws me into a story.

Thomas Covenant’s Unbelief also comes to a head. As with many things about Donaldson’s work, it isn’t until a subject reaches its conclusion that the reader fully understands it. At the books climax, the reader gains an even deeper understanding of Unbelief, the oft-spoken of but seldom described force that allows Covenant to accept the Land as a delusion.

Even that description is pretty poor—a “force”? Bah.

If you are interested in a different sort of fantasy, I hesitatingly recommend The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Be forewarned, however: the first Chronicles were written at the same time, even if they were published as three different books.

Right now I am reading something which I would call far superior—A Dance with Dragons! That will be the subject of my next review. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

So, yeah...

I've been quiet for a while-sorry 'bout that. I'm getting used to living in my new apartment. I just got my wifi up a few days ago, and living on my own is different, as is having a full-time job. I'm getting closer to being a grown-up. That's a terrifying thought.

At any rate, I'm settled in Houston, hoping to be more frequent about the internets. I'm well into Mass Effect 2 as I perfect a file for the upcoming third game, and A Dance with Dragons is great so far. The next book review will be up soon--it's sitting in my hard drive, but I thought I'd do a "sorry for not posting" post first.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A recent game of Apocalypse--Thoughts and Conclusions

The other night, I had a big game with a bunch of my buddies. We usually try to get in a big one with everyone while I'm in town, but this one was a little bigger than usual. There was a little bit in excess of 17000 points per side, I believe. On the other side of the table were IG, Tau, and Blood Angels. On my side were Chaos Space Marines, Daemons, and Tyranids & DE (me).

We set up in pitched battle, 24 inches away, with a table on either side of the main one. Chaos, 'nids, and DE deploy on the front line, while BA deployed across from the 'nids, and Tau and IG deployed in depth throughout their own table.

We were soundly thrashed.

There were a few problems that I faced with Dark Eldar and Nids. Some of it was due to my list--my friends usually don't use flyers, and the Tau player (not someone I usually play with) brought 3. The BA player used a formation that turned 3 Stormravens into flyers. Tyranids have no good defense against flyers using the current Apoc rules, which screwed us over to some degree. But I could've proxied Tyrannofexes, so I can't really complain.

Something more important, of note for all Apocalypse games, is however, board size. Large boards (more than 2x normal size, near as I can tell) take away large advantages for both. First, the Tyranid.

I simply ran everything I had, about 2000 points of normal tyranids plus a Scythed Hierodule. My force was concentrated into one side of the board, across from a blood angels column and some miscellaneous guardsmen. They were deployed back, towards the edge of the main table. And I found that I really struggled to reach them. Tyranid lack the mobility to advance on a board of Apocalypse scale.

Next, the Dark Eldar. Our main advantage is our mobility. When we can cross the board in a turn, we do well. When that merely brings us into the teeth of the enemy guns, we do less favorably.

And that brings us to the crux of the matter. USE TERRAIN! Lots of TERRAIN!!! We skimped on it because it would clog up deployment, and daemons would have trouble deep striking. Tyranids and Dark Eldar need terrain when facing an Apocalyptic gunline from Tau or IG. There is no way to make it across a table and a half with paper planes or footslogging monsters without cover and such to utilize.

My two cents, not well edited or thought through. A bit of tl;dr word vomit.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Super 8, Game of Thrones, and some 40k

Super 8 is a great movie. I have a hard time finding things that I did not like about the film. The child actors were excellent, the writing was superb, and I enjoyed the direction. J.J. Abrams must have a soft spot in his heart for monster flicks, but after Super 8 and Cloverfield, I have to say he's just about the best person to make them.

I consider A Song of Ice and Fire to be just about the best fantasy series written--certainly the best modern fantasy. After having a passionate love for years for David Eddings' work, this is hard to admit, but I believe it's so. Over the past couple of days, I've finally been able to catch up on the Game of Thrones HBO adaptation. I must say, I'm impressed. They stick very close to the original story, the acting is excellent, and they do a phenomenal job of visualizing Martin's universe. I cannot wait to see them bring even more to life in Season 2.

On a related note, Dance with Dragons should be out soon, and that will definitely getting a book review!

I got in a game of 40k with some of my buddies. It was a 1v1v1 with me as Tyranids, one friend as CSM and the other as Daemons. Tyranids and CSM deployed pitched battle, and daemons just dropped in as they are wont to do. We were just screwing around, no objectives or keeping track of KP, just playing for last man standing (which was me :) ). There were a few fun moments--I had a heroic termagant, who survived the destruction of his brood and all around him, charging him into battle with Abaddon and his Terminator bodyguard (along with two hive tyrants, two tyrant guard, a trygon, a tervigon--chaos never even had a chance to swing), and who was charged by a demon prince specifically to spite me. Needless to say, I had to table the offending player for his insolence. All in all, it was a nice beer and pretzels game, and a good time was had by all, as far as I know.

The lightning storm is threatening to cut my power again, so I'm going to post this without any more description of the game or the movie as I had planned.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Book Review: The Illearth War

I'm back in Chicago! Wrote this up on the plane trip home. 29 hours of travel kills--my body is so confused right now...

The Illearth War is the second novel in Stephen R. Dondaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Once again, this book review will start in the middle of a series—sorry, Internet! [Though I end up reviewing the Lord Foul’s Bane too…]

As before, there are likely to be [read: are] spoilers for the first two books of the trilogy.

I’ll start with a quick recap of the premise and my thoughts on the first book, Lord Foul’s Bane. This first book follows one Thomas Covenant, a man turned extremely bitter by his leprosy, and society’s reaction to it. While walking into town in a blatant defiance of those who fear his disease, Covenant is nearly hit by a far and wakes up in the Land—a mystical world beset by The Despiser, Corruption, Fangthane: Lord Foul. Covenant names himself The Unbeliever, as the healing power of the Land threatens to destroy all of the caution which is necessary for a leper to survive. He refuses to accept that the Land is anything more than a delusion.

Now, you might be thinking at this point that Covenant comes into his own and gathers the courage within himself to defeat Lord Foul. Think again.

Thomas Covenant in this first book is one of the least likable protagonists I have ever encountered. Only my sheer will to finish any book I start* carried me through at certain points, especially where Covenant rapes a sixteen-year-old girl. (It’s not explicit, for those worried about that—I actually had to reread it to make sure it actually happened, through my shock.)

The setting is also a problem in the first book. Donaldson has a nature crush on the Land, and just about every chapter has some new glorious vista that is described in tedious detail. When not a lot is happening, this gets tiresome, and it’s not helped that what does happen is usually not committed by the Unbeliever. I kind of felt like RPing a character in a campaign with a great setting, only to have the GMPC railroad me through a plot I was not invested in. In the end, Covenant returns to the “real world,” and has only been in a coma for a few hours.

On to The Illearth War! Let me start by saying that I was much more impressed by the sequel. While Covenant has been away for 5 weeks or so, the Land has progressed by 40 years. Foul’s army is ready to march upon the Land, and another man, Hile Troy from the “real” world has also been summoned and was put in command of the Land’s army.

In this book, Covenant is a much more sympathetic character. I only began to understand him at the end of Lord Foul’s Bane, and armed with that knowledge, his self-hatred and regret turn him from a whiny little caricature to a man who is deeply flawed in The Illearth War. He hates himself and everything he ever did in the Land, and cannot accept that even those he harmed forgive him, and he cannot accept the responsibility that the people of the Land lay on his shoulders.  

The plot is also much more exciting than the Quest of the first book. The book is written in three parts, but contains four real storylines. The first part, Revelstone, sets up the action for the story. Not much need be said, plot-wise, although some nice character introduction and development occurs. The second part, The Warmark, follows Hile Troy as he leads the army of the Land against Fleshharrower, commander of Foul’s armies. This moved well, and was rather exciting, given that most of it was marching. Included in this was the third storyline, the Bloodguard’s mission to discover the fate of the Giants. Although it only comprised two chapters at different points in the book, I could not put these chapters down. They were the best parts of the book, in my opinion, building dread reminiscent of Lovecraft’s scarier work. The fact that certain elements were left unresolved makes me eager to read the next book of the series. The fate of the Bloodguard Korik is something I eagerly wish to know! Part Three is relatively short, and follows Covenant and the High Lord as they attempt to uncover a source of ancient power.

Overall? The Illearth War was well worth my time, and was a very good piece of High Fantasy of the old school. I’m eager to learn what happens to Korik, as well what the third Raver, Satansfist, has been up to. Donaldson corrects the mistakes of Lord Foul’s Bane, creating more three-dimensional characters and cutting back on the gratuitous descriptions of the Land. Whether or not the series is worth it will depend on the quality of The Power That Preserves, which I’ll get to as soon as I read it. When that’ll be? Not sure. Now that I have a social life again, I'll be reading a little less. But I've already started it.

*Except for Moby Dick, but one day I’ll slay that personal white whale. But dear God, Melville, have you ever heard of a bloody editor?! This is a rant for another day.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Trust Me, I'm The Doctor

A new Dark Science is up! I enjoy that comic, but I think I'll write more on that later.

More importantly, I'm going home today! I'll leave Saturday morning, spend 25 hours traveling, and get home Saturday night. Sometimes I really hate time zones...

Monday, 13 June 2011

I Never Thought I'd Say This, But Volcanoes Are Stupid

Well, I spent most of yesterday on an impromptu road trip from Sydney to Melbourne because that Chilean volcano's ash cloud grounded our flight. I don't mind road trips all that much, but it was a long day that I wasn't fully braced for. I mean, what business does a Chilean volcano have cluttering up Australian airspace? Damned rude of it, in my opinion.

I've asked my players if they mind me recording our campaign up here. If they tell me they don't the prologue should be up in a few days, and Chapter 1 (which is considerably longer) ... sometime after that.

I would really like to get into steampunk and Dungeon punk, and have thus been considering getting some Eberron source material for my 4e campaign, primarily for equipment and monsters. Can anyone tell me if this is a good investment, and which books I should look at in fourth edition?

I've been jonesing for some nerdiness. Happily, my players are gleefully spying on the Duke's court, Blood of Kittens has been dumping Sisters rumors, and Girlfriend is powering through season 3 of BSG (apparently she was using it to replace my constant geeky chatter while I'm away, and now she's hooked). So that's kept me going, but it only takes the edge off the fact that I really want to roll some dice!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Book Review: Yellow Eyes

From Google. The other cover had some sort of Beastman in Power Armor? Not sure what THAT was...
My first book review will unfortunately start off in the middle of a series. For those wondering, I plan to review whatever books I happen to read. I have just finished Yellow Eyes, by John Ringo and Tom Kratman.

Warning: Thar be spoilers ahead, matey!

Yellow Eyes is part of John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series. The story takes place before and during the Posleen invasion of Earth: chronologically, it begins during A Hymn Before Battle and ends between Gust Front and When the Devil Dances.

The writing style is pretty much what I have come to expect from Ringo: easy, laid-back, very accessible, with some extremely irritating comma usage (or more importantly, lack thereof). Kratman's influence is detectable--the narration is a bit more informal, and some of the scenes are gory in very descriptive ways. Whereas Ringo would before have left the effects of certain injuries more vague, Kratman goes into detail.

The story is also what I have come to expect. The good guys win, and the bad guys lose. I found the story predictable, with certain deaths forseeable (marriage is a death sentence, by the way) and the survivors just about what I expected (with the possibility of a few Posleen, who I either expected to live or die, and had those expectations reversed).

The problem was, as it was in When the Devil Dances and Hell's Faire, is that I'm not rooting for the humans. I want the Posleen to kick those threshkreen's asses and eat them! John Ringo has created characters in the Posleen God Kings who are generally far more likable, changeable, real than the plastic humans who are defending Earth against the oncoming alien hordes. Without the O'Neil clan, I don't mourn for the lost soul of humanity, as I did in Hell's Faire. There was no chance to see a man call down a nuclear blast on his own daughter so he could follow orders that he despised with every fiber of his being. (By the way, I think the exchange between Jack Horner and Mike O'Neil in When the Devil Dance's is one of the finest parts of the series--O'Neil literally destroying his own building in impotent rage was an image that still stick with me.) Instead, Yellow Eyes give us a few humans who are good, and a few who are bad. Granted, the scenes involving the military coup are well done, but I never get the sense of loss that I do in the main series. I get...confusion. While the slaughters of Posleen by humans in the main series are heroic and tragic at the same time, in this book, they are gross. The soldiers think it is hilarious as Posleen are disemboweled while slipping to and fro in the blood of their mutilated comrades, but I was half afraid the author did too.

And that's the part that bugged me the most. The Posleen, whom I cared about more deeply than some of the humans (I'm looking at you, token ACS officer) were getting the crappy end of the stick, in some cases for no apparent reason. (The native american who ravages an entire oolt and kills one of my favorite Posleen ever written can bite me.) There was never any sense they could win, because the cards were stacked against them from the start. I never felt like Panama could fall, as much as the author kept telling it could happen soon. There was just too much plot armor for a clan whose normals only had boma blades to cut through.

But my brother tells me this leads into The Tuloriad, which I am very much looking forward to. 'Cause I love me some Tulo'stenaloor more than just about anything else in the entire series.

So, in conclusion. This book is a decent addition to the Legacy of the Aldenata series, but not my favorite. If you read for big battles and killing hordes of Posleen, look no further--it has that in spades. What it lacks is the sense of dehumanization and cultural shift that so nicely formed the background of the main four books; the sense that humanity could indeed lose the war, and even if it wins, we may not like what we become. That is what made the Legacy of the Aldenata distinct for me, and that is what Yellow Eyes unfortunately lacks.

Friday, 10 June 2011

From a hotel in Sydney...

Not much to update on for now, but I thought I'd throw something down.

Well, it appears that the new SoB 'dex is truely in a White Dwarf. I hope it doesn't suck, because for some odd reason, I've always like the Sisters. I've never even seen them on the tabletop, but the idea of SO MUCH FIRE, in addition to Nuns with Guns... I dunno, it amuses me. I hope they still have lots of fire. Not to mention I enjoy when Games Workshop puts out quality product.

At some point, I may do recaps in a story form of the D&D campaign I'm running. (Good lord, I'm such a dork!) I want to finish Chapter 2, and that will happen when we get together at school again. I also need my player's permission. If I get bored, I may decide to start writing out Chapter 1 before then.

That's all for now. I expect the banality of my posts to lessen somewhat once I'm home, and have access to all of my hobby stuff.

My first book review is on its way. As soon as I finish the book.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Visions of a Madman

I have a few long-term projects I'm working on. Some are inhibited by time, some by space, and some by money. Some are going forward, and some may never come to fruition. So, here's my little to-do list. For Hobby:
  • Finish my Tyranid Army. 
    • I'm right about at 2k points, where I want to be, but I have a handful of minis left to buy, and only about 10-12 termagants completely painted, with no basing finished. (BTW, if anyone knows how to base a mini so it looks like it's in a wheat field, throw something in the comments!)
  • Build up my Dark Eldar force.
    • I still have a long way to go on this one. I have to finish of my 1.5k force, and then buy my way up to Apocalypse strength. Which means more triples of everything, since my Kabal runs on principles of 3. When IA12 or 13 has Dark Eldar, I'll be very happy, though my wallet won't be. 
  • Space Marines.
    • Oh, Lordy. My Space Marine Chapter has fluff, a paint scheme, but no models. One day I'll start buying them. But it'll be an Apocalypse-sized force, with playable armies for all the Space Marine Codices (not CSM or GK, though. They are too aesthetically different.) That may branch into an entire Imperial force, if I like the Sisters.
    • For these guys, I also want to build a scale model of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne:
    • Now imagine it with battle damage!
    • Yep, I'm an idiot! That's gonna be a while coming, though.
Generically, I also have a few other to-dos.
  • My Secret Project. 
    • It's writing. But other than that, I'm not allowing myself to say, only a few select people have been informed of this.
  • My Book Series.
    • I'm excited about this again. Maybe I'll try and start actually writing it once the SP is done (for better or worse). Right now I'm just mentally story-boarding.
  • Mass Effect!
    • Alright, with Mass Effect 3 coming out, a good portion of my time will be devoted to getting my Shepard's backstory perfect. I play BioWare for the story, and I love the Mass Effect series. It should be awesome.
Oh, and I have to catch up with friends and family for the short time I'm in Chicago, move into my apartment in Texas, start work, spend time with Girlfriend, and eat, sleep, and bathe. 

We'll see how all this goes, won't we?

In The Penal Colony

Hello? Anybody out there?

Well, I'm bored, so I'm starting a blog!

Jesus, I'm already banal.

Alright, let me introduce myself. I'm assuming the title Abakus. This blog will probably deal with Warhammer, gaming, my personal musings, my attempts at writing, video games, and things I find interesting. Assuming it doesn't stagnate and die.

I'm an American, though I begin this little journey on the continent of Australia, hence the title. I'll be home in few weeks, and then I'm traveling home again. Confused? Imagine how I feel.

It's late down under. Perhaps I'll tidy up the visuals, and hit the hay. G'night, world.