Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Path of the Incubus

First off, I got to say that I really, really anticipated the release of this book! I was in the book store each week searching for this thing as I was unable at the time to find the actual release date. I wasted no time diving into this and like the 1st novel in this series, Path-of-Renegade, I had a hard time putting it down. It did take me a long time to finally get around to a review.

Path of the Incubus is an absolute direct sequel to the previous book Path of the Renegade and if you simply pick this book up without first reading the previous book, well, you might be able to figure some things out, as Andy Chambers does explain who every one is and what they are about, but still, you would be missing out on a very cool read and everything in this book will make a ton more sense.

The title is a tad misleading, as you find yourself following a lot of paths actually, not just that of the incubus, although you will learn that it is his path that is the most crucial to the survival of the dark city. There are 3 main paths, or rather journeys, taking place here. (Although not one of these main 3 journeys I was particularly amused with the two death machines that are programed to hunt down and assassinate someone, that well, I shalln't spoil it!) So, there are 3 paths we follow. First of all, everyone's journey here is a direct consequence to the end of the last book as the dark city of Commorragh ir reeling from the after-effects of a dysjunction that threatens to tear the dark city and it's pocket dimension apart. We see this in the form of daemonic attacks in the lower level that sets two of the previous book's secondary characters, Xagor and Kharbyr, with two rival archons and their parties on a quest to get up to the higher, and deceptively safer (like there is such a thing in Commorragh!) level. This particular journey was one of my favorites to follow and I really like how it ends and sort of sets up the next book.

The 2nd path involves someone we assumed was left for dead in the last book. Needless to say I won't spoil it, but this also sets up the next book too. A favorite aspect of this part of the story is the description and the battle of the Gorath, one of the captured suns or ilmaea that provides heat to Commorragh. Fascinating stuff, and quite an epic battle. Oh, and a personal appearance by Asdrubel Vect that is quite chilling and villainous.

And the 3rd path, the one that really holds this whole story together, yet not directly, is the path of Morr, the incubis from the previous novel and his tag-a-long companion Motley, a harlequin trouper that is determined to convince Morr that he can, and should, personally undo the dysjunction that he caused. This path is quite epic, as we see Morr beat his way through his fellow Incubi and even fight one of the special characters from the Codex! It is also a very well done view on the interaction and attitudes of craftworld elder and their dark kin, as well as the exodites whom we again are treated to more of their culture and background. You could really pull a well rounded ecology article on the exodites from these two books. Also we learn more about the Harlequin thanks to the loose lips of Motley.

  • Did I like it? Yes, very much. My only complaint was I felt that we didn't get as good of a taste of Commorragh as we did in the first book, as everything was in a start of recoil and reaction to the dysjunction. But still, the paths of all these characters were all enjoyable to follow and I loved how they ultimately weave together.
  • Was it hard to put down? Sometimes. I confess that I found some bits dragged in parts, particularly in the Morr story. But "vision quests" never made for good reading to me.
  • Could I care about the characters? Yes. The whole vile lot of them! In particular I found myself missing two characters that escaped the end of the last book that never popped up in this one, and I am itching to know their fates....
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium? It's Andy Chambers! He gets it better than most of the hacks that BL allows to write Space Marine stories for Hammer and Bolter, so yeah, there is no better person (save Jess Goodwin) that I would rather have take me on a tour of all things elder.
  • Was I being talked down too? Andy kept the same vibe that he had in the first book. I would say that this one seemed a bit more desperate and with less cloak and poisoned dagger but that would be untrue as this book has plenty of that double-cross stuff at play that one truly expects to read about when it comes to Commorragh.
  • How predictable is this story? More so than the last one, but still with a few twists and turns that one couldn't see coming.
  • Do I recommend this book? Yes. Unless you just hated the first one, then I see no reason to recommend this book or, well, any book to you.

  • Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    I finally start a Dark Angel army

    I finally started a Dark Angel army. Oh, and it's my army this time!

    I had done some work on my friend's Dark Angel army over the years and together we came up with a unique paint scheme for them that was sharp, fairly easy and quick to execute. Indeed, I think that the Dark Angels are the fastest models I have ever painted that came out looking the way they do. You can see some of the character models here,

    Sometime last year I picked up GW's current paint starter set to try out some of their new reformulated paints and they came with 5 Dark Angels. In fact, if was this starter set that sort of started the ball rolling on rumors at the time the 6th edition starter set for Warhammer 40,000 was going to include Dark Angels, and sure enough that was correct. However these exact models are definitely NOT in that set. And once you hold them up close you quickly see why. They tend to have slight casting distortions on the shoulder pads, unlike the rather crisp quality of the Dark Vengeance models, and for 'plug-and-play' models none of the guns want to stay 'plugged' and they don't want to join properly at the right wrist like they should. GW's painting instructions in the box show the most laughable technique for speed paining I've seen employed on one of their models since the crude techniques they showed for speed painting orcs in the Freebooter's book. The finished product looks dreadful.

    So what the heck, I painted them anyway. I just got the new Dark Angel book for my birthday (see the last post) and I wanted to see how fast I could do up a squad of them. I also wanted to find out if I still had both a knack for painting them and more importantly, an interest.

    This is the level they were at the mid-coat stage.

    Highlighted and pretty much done.

    Close up
    I am happy to say, at least to my satisfaction, that I have done these models far better justice than the examples in the paint guide that they came with, They still need a few minor touchups mostly involving the gun, and some flock and they will truly be done. Scrutinizing these photos at a bigger size that the real model, I can see a few mistakes that I want to wrestle with, but for the base troops these will work fine as is.

    Now my Cypher model has new friends to play with! I'm sure they will get alone well.... ;)

    I look forward to painting more, but we'll see if that interest can pull me away from finishing that Orc regiment or not...or Space Wolves...or....*sigh*

    Monday, September 09, 2013

    Birthday Bloodbath

    Today, what little is left of it, is my 40th birthday.
    Thank you, thank you!
    I have had 3 birthday parties over the past week or so, but the one that was held on Saturday was a complete and total surprise! Redbird orchestrated a daring surprise party to be held at the local Hobbytown in Johnson City during what is typically our game night. She plotted this since July. Da Masta Cheef baked the cake and Rob decorated based on the design on my WHFB Orc banners. I saw all of the usual gamer gang and a few I haven't seen in years (Scott and Roscoe). Krishal gifted me with two models: an Ultramarinc dreadnought and a Marneus Calegar in Terminator Armor (bad ass! And thanks!). I got lots of great gifts (thank you all!), and I'm not discounting those, but the dreadnought in particular will have a bearing on the title of this post...

    With what we thought were an odd number of players, it was decided that I would match up 2K points worth of Ultramarines up against 1k each of Cheef's Eldar and his GF's (Wolfwalker)'s  Fem fatau. Now that I think I about it, this army did poorly against both of these forces when they fought one on one, but now that they are teamed up...yeah, I dunno what I was thinking either. Oh, I forgot to mention that this game is my final send off battle for the 5th edition Space Marine codex. Krishal had a copy of the new one and all of use drooled on it before the games began.
    A rather bold battleline for Space Elves. Make you wonder if they discovered spinach between editions...

    They one the dice offs, and we ended up with the Tau's favorite board layout (the long end deployment zones) and the mission where we both have an objective worth 3 vps each.

    The Tau defend the objective.
    And a near bird's eye view of the Xenos line

    Ultramarine deployment. Objective place in front of the Whirlwind.

     So, I chose to teleport in the terminators and bring the scouts on from reserve. Hopefully I could take the objective as it was easy to see that getting across the board in a conventional sense was far from likely to occur.

    So on the 1st turn the xenos filth blast away. With 1st blood being claimed for the killing of my dreadnought! I haven't even owned the thing for an hour and they murder my birthday present!!!

    ...well, at least it will provide some well need cover saves!
     They also immobilized by venerable dreadnought and killed murdered a few battle-brothers as well. My turn rolls around and I tried to give back as good as I got. I tore off a brightlance from the viper, and killed a few eldar from some of the units running around, but no total unit kills.

    The trees that I claimed for cover would become a battleground unto itself: The Battle of Keebler Park

    Another battle squad dies to horrible die rolling...

    Did I mention that I was using new dice? I switched out all my GW dice to a rather generic set of casino style dice, and well, my luck is my luck regardless of the quality of my dice it seems.

    At some point on turn 2, my Landraider is brightlanced to death (hate those things!) and my sternguard are ejected. Wisely, Da Cheef has his wraithguard (i.e. the lizard riders) move into the woods for some cover. The sternguard failed to kill any of them and it took a shot from the devastators (proving all game why they suck with exception to this lucky shot) to fell one. However I did get the two survivors of a battle-squad to assault them.

    These woods with flow with space elf blood!

    All the marines in this pic just took part in the slaughter of an Eldar unit that got too close to the objective!
     On turn my Terminators led by my Librarian arrived but scattered way off the mark to end up in front of the building containing the other objective. I got to use a rather sweet psychic power that caused the Tau squad holding the objective to pretty much kill each other, while the terminators dealt with the rest. On turn 3 my scouts arrived and tried to claim the objective.

    Let's get the thing!!!

    The scouts would all die by the time the game ended though, as the Hammerhead sent a brutal blast of death their way that their BMX gear/armor failed to protect them from. So much for me claiming that objective!

    No, THIS is my BOOMSTICK!!!
    In the final round of the game my Librarian slaughtered the remain Taus troops, but they themselves couldn't claim the objective.

    You'll never take us alive
     On my side of the table, the Waveserpent had let a squad of Dire Avengers out and final troop unit that was holding the objective was locked in combat with them when the game ended, thus leaving that objective contested as well.

    In a final act of futility the last 2 Sternguard attempted to kill the Devilfish....and failed.

    So in the end the Xenos filth won 2 VPS to my 1VP (we both had linebreaker and they had First Blood). It was a really tough match, and clearly the new changes to the Eldar have made them bad-asses, even a "fluffy" army as Da Cheef's Exodite Elves. The Tau are just bad-ass, but had her dice been rolling good (some of her rolls were on par with mine) this game would've ended even sooner.

    Now with the new Space Marines codex out (and me itching to get it with my b-day money) I am eager to see how this army will do against these xenos now that I will have a sprinkle of "codex-creep" on my side! /)

    (Note: Da Cheef wrote a report as well called surprise!)

    Thursday, September 05, 2013

    Space Hulk SMASH!!!

    As you can guess from my cheesy title, I recently played some Space Hulk. The Doctor and I played around with the 3rd edition a few years ago, but this past weekend (Labor Day Weekend) we had a chance to meet up with an old High School buddy, Bill, who was (and still is) a huge Space Hulk fan.

    "You shall not passsAAARGH!!!"

     We played quite a few games, most of which all had similar outcomes that as a collective revealed to me some truths that I was previously oblivious too:

    • I really, really SUCK at Space Hulk! I always have, but I liked to blame the dice. I have won and lost a fair amount of games in my time to know when my tactics suck and when I have chosen poorly or when the dice gods are forsaking (or blessing) me. But Space Hulk is different. For one, it is a totally different way of playing a miniatures game, in the sense that it IS a board game 1st and a miniatures game 2nd. What I mean is, most miniatures games are essentially tactical re-enactments of a larger scale battle and even with objectives and goals you still feel like you are doing a small scale re-enactment of a larger event. Space Hulk is not this, despite the models and the ease of which it is to escape into it. Ignore the terminators, ignore the aliens, ignore the scary halls and painted grid-iron floors: you are actually playing Pac Man! And that is the trap I fall into every time I play this game. I just don't see a video game, I see terminators cleansing a Space Hulk. And it slaughters me every time!

      "You want this....don't you?"
    • Bill really rocks at Space Hulk. This was the 1st time that I have seen Bill in 21 years, and well, I think he spent a lot of time studying this game. At least in his head anyway. I think he runs through missions in his head on lonely nights while trying to sleep or something. Cause he gets it. In one of the games, you have to retrieve the Relic from a room with a dead marine in it. We ran through it the 1st time (or two, I can't recall) and just got slaughtered by the 'stealers. Bill figured out that the way to win was to go all Bloodbowl with it, and pass the Relic from one guy to the next. He was able to use this tactic to get the bloody thing from halfway across the board to the escape point in a single turn. Then there is that damned mission where you have to get at least one guy off the board at a designated point, and roll a D6. If you roll less than the amount of Terminators that escaped, you lose. Bill got all 10 guys off. Bill txted me tonight and told me not to feel bad, he did the same thing in the new video game against the A.I, on the same mission! Haha!

    • You really can leave a man behind. In Space Hulk, sometimes wining requires sacrifice, especially when the objective is to leave with a minimal amount of your team. I always try to bring all the boys home, but at the end of the day, well, collateral is often warranted for the mission's success.
    Bill wins a rescue mission

    • That time limit rule is stressful! It was really annoying dealing with the time limit. It was a fun aspect of the 1st edition, but I hated it then because of the limits it put on strategy. I discovered that I don't hate it, but man can it be a pain in the ass! I will need to be kicked by my fellow players the next time I try to suggest such a notion in a 40K game...

    • Broodlords rock! They truly do. We only got to use him briefly but man was it impressive. Bill brought the original rules and we got to compare them to the original Primarch: that guy was NASTY!

    • The lightning claw guy sucks! He just does. My guess is, if you're that Terminator, you probably really pissed someone important off, because now you got the suicide role of the group...

    • The gear in Space Hulk works very different than their 40k versions. Radically so. Terminator armor for example is like tissue paper in this game. Whereas the genestealer's claws, if they were this potent on the Warhammer 40,000 table top would be kings of the assault phase. Storm Shields and Thunder Hammers are awesome in Space Hulk....ok, they rock in 40K too, but they REALLY rock in Space Hulk! 

    •  Games Workshop dice really DO suck! The Doc's daughter threw down 6 dice, and the results were 1,2,3,4,5 and 6. I believe this is pretty much impossible to do with GW dice. The Doctor told me of a  study he ready on the probability issues of GW dice... (I can't find the link right now)...which proves the theory and hit home to me the notion that I should finally ditch the GW dice. Warfrog has only been telling me this since the 1st time we played together 13 years ago...

    • Centurians are fugly. I know, they have nothing to do with Space Hulk. But when you look at just how awesome and inspiring the Space Hulk 3rd edition plastic Terminators are, you just have to -have to- stand in awe of the sheer affront to the imagination and design of the GW Space Marine concept that the Centurians are. The Doctor and I have also determined that the Blood Angel Terminators look sweet, but they need to become Dark Angels and with a little work should easily be converted. I look forward to see what he does with them.

     In conclusion, we had a fun-filled weekend and it was good to catch-up with everyone! It was nice to play Space Hulk, but in hind sight I should've suggested that he brought Relic, which is a far superior game I think. ;)