Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Ravenwing (& Angels of Darkness)


I will try not to ruin any surprises with this review dissection, but there will be some things I will just be forced to talk about.
I dislike this image... 
 This review is about Gav Thorpe's Ravenwing (Book One of the Legacy of Caliban) by Black Library. It is a sequel (sorta) to his first foray into the intrigue and zeal of the Dark Angels, Angels-of-Darkness. However reading that book isn't necessarily required reading if you want to pick up Ravenwing, but it is highly encouraged. At the time of this posting Ravenwing is still readily available, whereas Angels of Darkness is a lot tougher to find. (Unless you like ebooks).

It's probably not likely that if you're reading this post that you don't know who the Dark Angels are, but just in case you don't, go over to to learn more about them. In fact, before you touch any Warhammer 40,000 novels I would recommend at least a broad skim through a wiki like that or the current core rulebook for the game. But for those of us who have been keeping up with the evolving Dark Angel lore since the late '80s, sometimes these books can get a bit annoying. Especially when a writer feels that his 'artistic license' gives them free-reign to change what has been firmly established in the Warhammer40K lore for decades.

I don't feel that Gav Thorpe is one of those writers. Gav started out as a Game Designer for the GW Design Studio and wrote a lot of the source material for the game of which BL's novels expand on or plays with. I'm not going to list his greatest hits or his greatest misses, but if you roll your eyes at the eldar term for mocking humans, "monkeigh", well that's a Gav contribution. After Gav left GW to become a writer I was a bit reluctant to pick up his works, until I stumbled upon Grudgebearer a few years back. The 1st chapter of which read like one of the more dismissive Inferno! short stories, but after that the book became more and more awesome. I think quite honestly that it has been my favorite BL novel to date, and that says a lot considering how much I enjoy the Eisenhorn and Cain novels! So, with that standard of enjoyment set high, I followed it up with Angel's of Darkness.


Reprint cover.

Angels of Darkness, I feel, has to be talked about a little bit before one talks about Ravenwing, as it does set the stage for what becomes the goals for the protagonists in it. Angels of Darkness was the story about Interrogator Chaplain Boreas. Gav wrote this book so that the chapter's alternated between a flashback of Boreas' first time having to draw a confession from a Fallen Dark Angel, Astelan, and to his current situation on Piscina IV. A chance encounter leads Boreas and his team away from their base of operations into a distraction set by the Fallen, all the while the confessions of Astelan continue to haunt and torment him, until ultimately once the Fallen's final trap is revealed, Boreas and his team are tricked into making the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Piscinia IV. -That was a very brief summary, and I hope that I did not do this brilliant and highly recommended novel an injustice with it.

Ravenwing on the other hand, I felt did a major injustice to the sacrifice of Boreas. Knowing that this was a sequel to Angels of Darkness, I felt, as I started reading this book, a great sense of "get on with it already" as I read through the first 60+ pages of what was basically War Porn. The type of stuff that makes reading Space Marine anthologies so challenging for me. Don't get me wrong, I like action, but if I'm going to have a writer choose a specific character to follow around a battlefield in a 3rd person narrative, please establish why I should give a shit about him first. As it was, and the way this book was promoted, I assumed this book was about the Ravenwing's Grandmaster, Sammael, and Corvus, his awesome jetbike, a character from the miniature game who we as readers and players might sort of know, and to some extent we do. But I wanted to follow him more, get into more of his history and background, but we just don't. I was hoping to learn more about the Ravenwing's past use of Jetbikes but no.  Instead we're following Annael, a fairly newly inducted member of the Ravenwing. And then we have Telemenus, whom we follow as well, who is not even in the Ravenwing but is in the 5th company. It felt like stalling to me as I just wanted to get on with finding out about Boreas. In retrospect, I might have really enjoyed this book if I had read Angels of Darkness after Ravenwing.

I felt the first 50-60 pages of this book could have been told in far less pages if paced better and I felt the introduction of these other two character's could have been handled better. But there is a method to what Gav was doing here: the three points of view that we follow represent the circles of secrecy that is the Dark Angel hierarchy.

 The 5th Company, your basic Dark Angel Space Marine, knows next to nothing about their chapter's past or the events that tore their legion apart in the waning days of the Horus Heresy. Yet they are called upon to follow the 2nd and 1st companies (Ravenwing and Deathwing respectively) who do know about this dark past, and support them in a battlefield role that often makes no sense to them. For example objectives are given to them that the Ravenwing doesn't seem to give a care about, and to them, the Ravenwing appear as glory-hounding frat boys with big cool toys who show up for the easy win once the 5th company has accomplished the grueling grunt work. By the end of the novel, I found the 5th company to actually be more interesting than the Ravenwing characters that this books is named after, and Telemenus (I keep wanting to call him Telemundo LOL) stands out to me as very interesting and sort of bad-ass character but not in a fan-boy over-the-top kind of way.

Then we have Annael, the new guy to the Ravenwing. Honestly I just didn't care about him much, or the Ravenwing, who, like I said, are perceived as glory-hogs and for the most part kind of come off this way accept to Annael, who just seems way too naïve even to be doing what he's doing. By the end of the book, he does get to finally shine a little but I won't spoil how. But basically, I felt that we could've ultimately dropped him from the book and focused on Telemenus's and Sammael's perspectives instead.

Sammael, the Ravenwing Grandmaster, is the 3rd major point of view that we follow, and it's his that is the most important. Along with the company psyker and Malcifer the Interrogator Chaplain, we see how Sammael's command decisions are made and determined. It is in the chapters pertaining to Sammael that this story actually moves. Seriously, I'm tempted to do an experiment by re-reading only the Sammael chapters just to see if the story reads better or not. I'm damned sure the pacing would improve! More importantly, we see what some the Ravenwing don't fully comprehend, and what no one in the 5th company comprehends, in regards to the decisions that Sammael must make in his quest to track down The Fallen.

Original cover
After the 60+ pages of war porn, the guy they capture and torture gives them a clue that takes them on to a new course to good old Piscina IV. It's here that  the 5th company are led to believe that they are there to stop a siege on Kadillus (the big capital city on Piscina IV) when really the Ravenwing are there to figure out why a distress signal is coming from their base of operations there and figure out what became of the Dark Angels that were stationed in it. After some time, they work their way in and essentially spoil the ending to Angels of Darkness in the same way that Alien3 ruined Aliens. I won't say how, as ultimately this spoiling does motivate the rest of the book as the Ravenwing take the clues gathered by Boreas' journal entries to try to chase down the Fallen that took down Boreas and his fellow Dark Angels. 

Suddenly, things get interesting, and we're led to a planet with a space station that is held by renegades of some sort, who attempt to escape. We have a chapter or two of some rather tasty space battles in a Battlefleet Gothic vein that I was quite excited to read, but it was not only too simplistic in the telling, but over far too quickly. Before we know it they're launching teams of marines into a space station full of under powered  goons who have no hope of stopping the Dark Angels. Although better written than the 1st chunk of the book, it was still slowly paced war porn that seemed to take too long to get to the goal of moving the story forward, however it was a bit more engaging, if not teasing, with it's subtle revelations. Finally we get to where the 5th company, who have their target in sight, are told by the Ravenwing to hold their position while they basicly "handle it from here" which builds quickly into a very tense scene where it looks like they are about to completely turn on each other. This scene was a big reset button on the book I thought, and really upped the tensions that Gav was slowly (and I feel maybe too subtly) building up. 

The character building I wish I had at the beginning of the book finally happens in the last 1/3 of the book, as we see the Dark Angels continue their hunt for the Fallen. I shall not spoil what happens next, only to say that they encounter the Death Guard, and the encounter is the best written fight sequence in the book, and yet, it's far too short, in particular the final battle. 

The book has a satisfying ending, leading and setting up the next book in this series, Master of Sanctity which as of the time of this writing hasn't been released yet. I'm hoping that we see some of the descendants from Ezekial's people from the Deathwing short story by William King and Bryan Ansell. -Just because. ;)

  • Did I like it? It wasn't the worst BL book (*cough -Runefang- Cough*) or story I ever read initially, but this book did eventually win me over, but it took awhile to get there.
  • Was it hard to put down? Not really. After the revelations on Piscina IV, I was so bummed by this chapter that I set the book down for awhile to read a few Ian Flemming James Bond novels, and it's saying something when I would rather read Bond's golfing shenanigans against Auric Goldfinger than pick this book back up, but eventually I did.
  • Could I care about the characters? At first no. But I started to really be impressed with Telemenus. I kind of didn't care if Annael lived or died, and Sammael almost came off as a generic Space Marine leader with a cool ride. His inner circle were a bit more interesting I thought. A lot of the secondary characters in this book were interesting however a lot of them had far too similar names (i.e. beginning with an 's' and ending with '-iel') which makes me want to write to Gav's blog with a link to the Dictionary of Angels that I bought 20 years ago as reference (for the Vampire: The Masquerade game oddly enough) to show him that there are a lot more angel name variations than just the dozen he's aware of. It was confusing sometimes, and a list of characters (Dramatis Personae) like they have for the Horus Heresy novels would have been very helpful here. Telemenus stood out, not only because he was cool, but because his name was unique and not easy to confuse with another character. Which is strange that a very unique typo occurs toward the end of the book where Telemenus is suddenly with the Ravenwing (what? huh?) and then a page and a half later at the start of the next chapter he's readying for drop pod deployment with the rest of his 5th company unit. I'm gonna blame the editors and proof readers for that one though! 
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore? Or is this the work of a hack chasing a paycheck vs. establishing his mark on the ever-expanding 40k universe? Gosh. Eek. OK, to be fair, by now Gav Thorpe is definitely, without question, an authority on both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 lore. But this book is not his best work. it's primarily due to the stretched pacing of the chapter upon chapter of war porn, when, although action is nice to read in an action book, the plot could have used more focus as could the character development. I get the sense that if he had more time, he really could have shaped this up a bit firmer. This was released around the time of the 6th edition Dark Angels Codex and I suspect the deadline was pushed hard on him, but this is only speculation on my part...
  • Was I being talked down too? No. This was thankfully avoided, as it probably would have remained an unfinished read for me if that tone was present...
  • How predictable is this story? Ravenwing was fairly predictable. The few curve balls that we were thrown were still soft balls. I was pleasantly surprised by the space battle and the fight in the space station started off interestingly enough. It doesn't have the whammy-effect that Angels of Darkness had but the ending and last few chapters were arguably the best in the book and now I am looking forward to the next part. I just hope that the objections I had with this one aren't magnified in it's sequel. 
  • Do I recommend this book? If you like Dark Angels, yes. If you like Space Marine war porn and reading about marines tearing orcs, renegades and insurgents apart with their bolters, than you'll like this book. If you want to learn very specific things about the Ravenwing, oddly, there isn't much revealed here (other than maybe that they like to name their bikes?) If you read and loved Angels of Darkness, I urge you to tread with caution as there is a 50/50 chance you won't like how Boreas' legacy is handled. As for me, I am going to stick with this series, and I will probably read Purging of Kallidus as well. 
For more of my reviews, go here.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Repairing the casualties part 2

Much to my disappointment, here's the 2nd part to my post-move repair series. In the previous part I fixed a few things that proved to be fairly minor repairs. However I knew I had something broken because I discovered during the move that I had a small box, that I knew had a model in it, that rattled when handled. I had assumed it was my Celestial Lion character (see the Other Armies link) only to actually find him in another box completely safe and intact. So, it left me wondering just what was in that rattling box...

And I was quite disappointed to find this:
Space Huks are like crumbs: if you break one in half do you have two, or two halves?
 It's my only painted Battlefleet Gothic model, my Space Wolves Battle Barge Ragnar's Breath which was built and showcased a few years ago. It was in rough shape, half disassembled and the flight stand was snapped off at the connection point to the model.

Well the metal bitz were easily reassembled, and the snap on the base, though uneven, sort of fit like a puzzle piece, so I drilled a hole through both pieces with a pin-vice and inserted a brass pin before supergluing it back together.

Stability added while the glue was setting
 I used this as an excuse to actually finish this model, by painting the antennas that stick out the front as well as the gun turrets. These bitz have only been in my Portable Neverness Kit since I put that thing together, so it felt good to get it completely finished.

Into the cosmos!
 Now if there was any local interest in playing BFG, I just might be inspired to get back into The Space Race and finish my fleet! But sadly, I doubt there is...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mk1Land Raider for the Blood God part 3

As promised the other day in part 2, here is the final part of this series. This project was completed in record time (for me) and I'm excited to paint more stuff for my small World Eater force.

I had a slight hitch at this point however, when I accidently super-glued one of the twin-linked lascanons so that it wouldn't swivel, while the other one worked just fine. Well, the modeler in me wasn't having any of that, so I popped both sponsons back off, fixed that glued gun, and while I was at it I filed down the back part of the swiveling mount of the sponson so that the canons will swivel all the way. Now they both swivel out to the same degree.

"Shoot them over there,"
 Here is a close up of the scoured and scratched metal bitz of the tracks and the Destroyer Blades.

 Which I repeated to represent the chips, dents and dings to show the battlescars of war.

 Finally I mounted the rear spikes, dirge caster and smoke launchers. (why are the smokelaunchers on the Chaos kits so much cooler than the loyalist counterparts?)

(Don't ask me how they get in/out of the hatch, they just DO!)
And here is the finished model! Ready to start gathering skulls!

The next thing to do is to figure out how to work this into an army list, and let the locals lance it to death, but at least it will look good in it's death-throes! But before that happens I will need to figure out how to transport it. Coming up with transport, storage, and protection methods are my least favorite part of this whole hobby, but a necessary one.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fall of Night

Last weekend I had the chance to get a game in, and I decided to take one of my "core" armies. It's been awhile since the Orks have had a chance to tangle with anyone, and since rumor has it that they will finally be getting a new codex, I figured I would take them. After all, it could very well be the last time I play them with this codex! And with the new edition approaching fast, it could very well be one of my last 6th edition games.

Being a spur-of-the-moment decision, and spending the bulk of Saturday afternoon working on my World Eater Land Raider, I didn't have a list until I got to Hobbytown. Using Battlescribe on my phone, I whipped up what I thought would be a competitive list that incorporated some things I rarely take. These "finally gonna try 'em" units would be the 'Ard Boyz (which I have seen Bink use to good effect) and an artillery battery of Zzap Guns (It took five years to convince myself that they didn't totally suck, and another one to actually try them).

The rest of this list were the typical 30-ork slugga/choppa unit, a unit of 5 Mega-nobz, a squad of 6 burna boyz, a squad of 8 loota's with 2 mekboyz, a Gobsmasha (i.e. a hardcase battlewagon with killcannon and only 2 bigshootas) with 2 Big Meks in the HQ slots, one with a Kustom Forcefield and the other with a Shokk Attack Gun.

Everyone was paired off a lot quicker than usual, thanks to our MC Patrick who has really stepped with getting people organized and playing as opposed to the what we used to do (stand around and BS for an hour or more). So as I was walking around watching the start of the other games, in walked Matt, with a Tyranid Hivefleet in need of some fresh bio-mass.


We only had one table left to choose from, and if you follow this blog you'll notice that I tend to end up playing on this 'desert of despair' a lot! So we rolled the mission (The Scouring) and the table set up (Vanguard Strike), and we rolled for our Warlord Traits. Mine was a lame one that allowed my Reserves to come in quicker ( I wasn't using any!) and Matt rolled one that gave Nightvision to units within a certain distance to his Hive Tyrant. That seemed like a cool power. And since we never -well I have never- used them before, I suggested we should roll on the Warzone Traits table from the back of the hardcover rulebook, since, y'know, a new edition is about to come out and it would be a shame to have never tried them. Sad really, this is a neat table and it really should've been, along with the campaign stuff, in with the main rules so that the people that only have the small Dark Vengeance rulebook would have them too. They look like they could really up the ante on a few games and make the battles less predictable, So we rolled on it and got:

 Warzone Traits. #7. Fall of Night.

Well crap.

How ironic is this? LOL

So here are the highlights, and man did we have some!

Tyranid left flank

Tyranid right flank

The Orks deploy
Seize the initiative? Of course not!

Thanks to the Kustom Force Field, I only lost one guy in first turn of shooting.

The shoota boyz surge forward!
My 1st turn of the shooting, and I roll a Str 9 for the Zzap guns. And I miss with all 3 shots. Remembering ammo runts, I re-rolled and missed all 3 again! Due to the nightfighting rules the bugz were able to take advantage of some awesome cover saves.

Turn 2 and the Hive Tyrants move in to eliminate my Shoota 'Ard Boyz.

...and laugh at their puny snap-shots!

The fearless Orks are able to bog down the 2 HTs until turn 4!
The Mawlocs appeared, one scattered and killed the Kustom Force Field Mek, but couldn't take out the big gun it was touching, so had to roll on the mishap table, and I placed him on the very FAR corner of the board! The other one targeted by Slugga boyz and killed 5 of them.

When my turn came around, the boys surrounded the beastie and opened up with their pistols.

"Every ork in Orkville, the tall an the small, was singing! He HADN'T stopped the Waaagh at all!"
That didn't do anything, but undeterred, they charged! After the Mawloc's attacks failed to do anything, the boyz struck back with 85 attacks, 53 of which hit causing 10 wounds! After that, the Mawloc had 1 wound left which was quickly eliminated by the Powerklaw wielding Nob. After ward the consolidated the full 6"which I took full advantage of and spread them out to full coherency as I knew the bugz were coming with more pain...

The Tyrants continueto wear away the 'ard boyz...
On thebugz turn, the Hive Tyrant was ableto score a precision hit against the power klaw wielding Nob, dashing the ork's best hope of killing them. Speaking of Power Klaws, the Meganobz failed a break test in Turn 2 and ran the full 12"! On Turn 3 they rallied, but they were still too far away to be able to assist the 'ard boyz. Matt was worried about them so had that Mawloc return and kill them all off at the top of Turn 4!

The Zoanthropes lance the Gobsmasha, killing 2 of the occupants, Despite the added protection of the resulting crater, the devourer armed 'gants were able to kill off the burna boyz, who never got to fire a shot this whole game! -Ouch!

"Go to ground? Wha? AAARGH!"
The situation was turning grim fast, as the Tyrants were able to chew up the rest of the 'ard boyz who eventually failed a break test and were killed in the sweeping attack. My slugga boyz were holding on, and having gone to ground near the 4pt objective, were pinned good!

So, at the bottom of Turn 4, and realizing that we have gone to the point of no return, I decided to concentrate my fire on killing the warlord tyrant. The bastard had taken a lot of wounds and kept regenerating enough to keep it alive. It survived the Zzapp guns and Loota's attacks, and then I aimed with the Shokk Attack Gun, targeted and rolled a double 5.

It's rare that my Shokk Attack gun EVER rolls doubles and does anything cool on the chart, so thinking I was about to get a sweet Str 10 attack, we were quite amused to see that I just teleported the Big Mek into Close Combat with the Hive Tyrant! Nothing like a Warlord vs. Warlord fight, which always seems to never happen in our local games, and once the Assault Phase began, it was over, as the HT had the initiative and gutted with Big Mek whose Cybork Body was ill-equipped to save him.

So, after that epic "fight", at the top of Turn 5, we decided to call the game, with the Orks ceding to the the Tyranids. It was a good game, my first with Matt, and I really enjoyed his playing with his painted models and it shames me to have to put down 20 year old unpainted models against just nicely executed pieces. He only seems to show up at Hobbytown once in a blue moon, but I hope I have the opportunity to feed things to his bugz again!

I have no idea what the final tally of VPs was, but I know he won the game on just those alone. Here's a good impression the results however:

What I killed

What he killed

Monday, May 12, 2014

MK1 Land Raider for the Blood God! Part 2

I have made a lot of progress on this beast since the last post, so much so that I'm going to break this post into 2 parts.

Here it is from the top:

I spent a lot of time getting the tracks to look as real and weathered as I could. There seems to be quite a lot of construction projects in my area at this time and it has given me a lot of opportunities to observe the big machines in action. Dirty or not, you never see "silver" or "stainless steel" looking metallic bits on these machines, unless it's the hydraulics or a freshly chipped part. I usually weather up my tank's tracks in some way, but compared to this Land Raider, those models look practically showroom finish.

You'll also see in that pic an assortment of bits that were yet to me added. The skulls and severed heads required some specific attention while the spikes that they mount on were painted along with the tracks.
Skulls for the blood god!
The weathering theme continued again on the dozer parts. I am still torn as to whether or not I want to make the shovel part of the dozer blades removable or not. However the spikey part of this particular version of the dozer blades vehicle upgrade will do nicely as a representation of Destroyer Blades.

The other bitz in that pic are the twinlinked lascannons (which have been modified to fit the Leman Russ Battle Tank sprues), Dirge Caster, smoke launchers and more trophy spikes.

Next up is a close up of the rear track section where I am dirtying and muddying up the tracks. Gluing the grit directly to the models seems to be working out well. I am tempted to had another layer of dirt but with finer granules than the grit I have already used. But that might be over-doing it for a detail that only I will care about and which will probably Chip off in time.

And on late Saturday afternoon I had made a lot of progress, adding chips to the hull and tracks. I then worked on the rear spikes, one of which, the Tau head, has been painted as a representative of from Patrick's Tau army that stymied my Chaos army's latest battle and inspired me to do this project.

Smile for the camera!
....and here it is mostly assembled!

Ready to start gathering skulls!

The next post in this series with feature pics of the finished models and showcase some of the final touches.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

MK 1 Land Raider for the Blood God! -Part 1

The day after the battle with the Tau that I chronicled last time, I began construction on this beast:

Yeah, that's an original Land Raider! Granted, I modified it due mostly in part to the rough shape it was in, but also because I wanted it to function more like the modern version. With dremel in hand I widened the top round hatch so that I could fit the current Land Raider twin-linked heavy bolters into that spot. On the top hatch behind the round one I put a sheet magnet on the inside that I could be a removable havoc missile launcher in it's place. I then glued the original hatch where the spare track piece went on the original model.

And for those of you who need the quick reference, here's my original Land Raider, in it's fairly well preserved state, and the box that it came in. This should hopefully provide you with a gauge of just how modified this Chaos tank is.

I was not pleased with the joins on the tracks, nor with my attempts to fill them with greenstuff, I decided to grit them up. This will look particularly muddy and rough when I finish this project.

I primed the model using Testers spray enamel paint. Black then brown.
The brown will serve as an under coat for the red and the weathered metals.

It was a beautiful day to spray.
I had the basecoats done by the following Sunday.

Progress shot showing the Scab Red on the brown primer
Here are all the components so far.

 Next, after I was satisfied with the painting of the exposed parts that can be seen through the openings on the side area, I assembled them and the sponsons to the main hull,

 And the pic that started this post (presented here again) is the current state of this Land Raider. Fairly fast for me, but I felt particularly inspired. I mean, this is just such a cool and fun model to work on.

Next up, I need to highlight the red, add the mud and then add all the spikes, grave-yard fencing, chains and other things to hang skulls from.

Edit: Easy link to Ian's Land Raider from the comments. Ian's Land Raider.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Perils of the Warp and a fist full of marker-lights

"Perils of the Warp. -Why the heck does that even effect Daemons?" asked Warfrog when I told him about the game I had last week. I can't stop wondering that myself, as there just seems to be no good "fluff" justification for it, and considering the fickle as heck nature of the Warpstorm table, Daemons already have enough going against them.

So to illustrate that preamble here is the story of my first game in a about 2 months. I decided to give Chaos a spin again, after all I have been in a Khorney mood as of late, so let's try out that list again. When I arrived at Hobbytown the MC himself, Patrick, agreed to a game. He has been feverishly expanding our terrain as well as finishing his revitalized Tau army. The list I brought was 1,500 points and he asked if I could up it to 1,850 points. I didn't think anything of this, and figured what the heck, and decided to throw in my Khorne Berserkers that I have been dabbling on and which I had only brought to show off their progress to my friends and fellow players who might not follow this blog. So they were incorporated and I increased the size of the biker squad.

This pic was taken from behind in case you're trying to figure out what you're looking at here. Due to the unpainted nature of our armies, some of these pics will be in black and white in this battle report/review.

Poised to kick-ass!
This next pic shows the Tau army,

We rolled for the mission and the table set-up and we got the worst thing possible for this match up: Hammer and Anvil. The locals refer to this as "the Tau set-up" and for obvious reasons. And this table had such a sparse spread of scenery that I was really set up for a head long charge into the warm welcoming Tau guns.

Tau set up

"I'm too sexy for this blog."
Chaos set up. My two small Chaos Space Marine squads are set up on or really close to the objective markers. And one of the ones I'm sitting on is the 'booby-trap'. Yup, gonna be a tough game... my Berserkers would run up the flanks with the Chaos Sorcerer (he's level 1 psyker but I rolled a sweet power for him: Fire Shield). Followed, and soon to be passed by, my Chaos Bikers with Marks of Nurgle.

I failed to steal the initiative and spent a turn on the receiving end of a laser-light show in the dark as the Markerlights and blacklight filters picked out my units and presented them to the Tau gun line. Despite a fair amount of losses, it wasn't the Alpha-strike I was dreading. My dice, accursed chaos artifacts know in the Eye of Terror as The Polygons of Self-inflicted Pain, seemed to be rolling fairly decently at this point...

All I could do on my first turn was move in! My Berserkers ran forward berserkingly, my bikes revved up and turboed toward the devilfish, and my Sorcerer cast Fire Shield on the berserkers. My nurglings lept out from around the bastion, which was kind of protecting them, and they scurried over toward the Tau gun line. My shooting phase consisted of showing Patrick the joy and thrill of rolling on the Warp Storm table, and explaining how no one is targeting him, but that reality is. But he made all his saves anyway. This is when I started to have my doubts about my dice by-the-way, as the only '6's I rolled on his units were on the things that this particular result (the Tzeentch one) couldn't hurt.

Moving up the line! 
Tau Turn 2, and the gun lines opened up on the Nurgling squad. I was stunned with how much firepower they absorbed, but the current swarm rules do them no favors, and Patrick was damned near giddy when he discovered that templates do double-wounds to them (ouch). Needless to say they were reduced to little more than Nurgle's Rot spores or banished back to the warp (eh, pick one).

Pew. Pew. Pew-pew. (repeat like 60X)
So on my turn, I rolled for reserves and the only unit that wanted to show up and play was the Plague bears, and that was only because they have an Icon to keep them from scattering too far away. They ended up on the far corner of the Tau deployment zone.

The rest of my turn was spent running at the Tau gun line, but at least my sorcerer was able to keep that fireshield up or I would've lost a heck of a lot more berskers by now (I was already down to have the squad at this point). Still, I have some pathfinders to shoot at that were acting as ablative armor for the devilfish (which was hiding his HQ).

"Kill the red ones!"
But it was looking bleak already, and I really needed my daemons to show up!

Where's Chaos? 
My plaguebearers at least gave the Tau something to shoot at other than my marines, and they did so with impunity. The amount of wounding hits that were scored were a statistical nightmare for my Plaguebearer's 5+ invulnerable saves to have to overcome, and they were kicked back to their immaterial hell faster than I was able to place them down. (Rough!)

"Daemon's be gone!"
Bottom of turn 3, and most of my other daemon's arrived. And they all scattered very wide from their targets. I was able to buff up my Great Unclean One with Endurance and Warp Speed while the Keeper of Secrets (or sucrets, since she is hanging out with Nurgle) cast Puppermaster on the Hammerhead, and, much to Patrick's chagrin, the hammerhead targeted on of his Fire Teams and killed some of them. She cast Enfeeble as well, but that really didn't matter since I couldn't charge.

Then came the shooting phase, and the Great Unclean One rolled to psychic-attack with Life Leech on one of the riptides only to roll double-6's! Ouch! Some of it's chaos gifts were the ones that gave him the added Wound, Toughness, and the It Will Not Die special Rule, so that helped, as it regenerated it's self-inflicted wound back.

On to the Tau Turn 4 and the firestorm began! The Keeper of Sucrets was blasted back to the pit! The Great Unclean was shot to hell, but still in the game with a few wound left. (like 4) My fiends took some losses, and my bikes and Khorne Berserkers (who last round killed off that Pathfinder squad) also took more hits. My Mark of Nurgle Space Marines who have been sitting in cover near an objective all game were holding onto life with like a two marines left at this point.  It was the charge of the Light Brigade but with no horses, lots of lasers, and explosive plumes full of puss and claws.

"Do you really want to charge me? Do you really want me to make you cry?"
My turn 4, The Daemonettes appeared behind some rocks. Too little too late I'm afraid, as they got to stand around for a round. And on my movement phase I go to buff up the Great Unclean One again and roll a double 1! I got the Endurance, but to get it I took another fricking wound from Perils of the Warp! So, on the shooting phase, I again have the GUO attempt Life Leech only to have him roll double 6's! ACK! REALLY!? At this point, feeling truly forsaken by the Chaos Gods, I make the only real option this army has at this point to put some hurt on these fish-headed xenos: I declare a charge.

All that support Overwatch tore apart my Chaos Bikers, leaving only 2 left, and my Fiends of Slaanesh with only 3 models left, and one of them was hardly alive. My Great Unclean was shot all to hell, with just two wounds left.
"Will Charge for PAINT!"

I roll charges: The GUO, comes up short on the charge roll as I roll a 3. He needed like a 4+! I knew that this was it, game fricking over for GUO, as it was a mathematical miracle that he survived this long against that Tau firepower.

So over to the bikers and Fiends. Both of them roll short for their charges!

The Gods say NO.
I was stunned.

Patrick was stunned. Heck, he was genuinely feeling sorry for me at this point.

And I knew, just knew, that the Chaos Gods simply were not favoring this battle.

All the GUO had to do was get in a single hit on that Riptide and it was dead (it had something that was giving it the Instant Death special rule) and my bikers and fiends (definitely the fiends) would've torn into that Tau gun line. But those 3 dice rolls doomed me.

Come turn 5 and the Tau clean-up squads eliminated the GUO and the bikers while reducing the Fiends further.

"What WAS that thing?!"
On my turn 5  My Fiends had Fire Shield cast on them for added help, but again, they were chewed apart on the charge by the sick amount of Overwatch shots. I did get my Khorne Berserkers and the Chaos Sorcerer to charge in, but the Berserkers died going in.

My Chaos Sorcerer was locked in combat in a duel as the game ended around him.

The final snap-shot of the game. 

I had one Objective and Line Breaker giving me 4 VPs. Patrick had 8 VPs with his 2 Objectives, First Blood and Warlord conditions met. A good game, but one that was stacked against me! Made even more so when the dice turned against me! The Tau list would meet it's match on the following week however.

My MVP of the game was the most unlikely but I would say it was my Chaos Sorcerer, who unlike the actual Daemons he was able to get his power off each round without scoring a Perils of the Warp result. Also, he was alive at the end of the game and locked in combat.

I definitely need to fix the transport options for the Chaos Space Marines, the Khorne Berserkers specifically, and bring some firepower along with them. So, on the next day, I dug out a kit I've had for awhile and began to work on this solution...

A shadow of reinforcements.