Friday, February 22, 2013

Abaddon vs. Loken!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment we've all been waiting for since Horus Rising was released in 2006: the Forge World models of the Sons of Horus Captains, Mournival all-stars and rivals to the bitter end, First Captain Abaddon vs. 10th Company Captain Garviel Loken!!

Abaddon is of course wearing his black suit of Justaerin Terminator armor with a combi-weapon, Loken with his power sword. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Death From The Skies: Is the Storm Talon viable now?

Death From The Skies is here and we are starting to learn the new rules. Even stuff released recently has some sort of change, and that includes the nifty Storm Talon. Is it enough to bring new life to the smallest of the Space Marine Flyers? well for starters it is the same AV11 with 2 hull points paper plane, not exactly a flying fortress. But hey, now it's cheaper, still brings good dakka and we know Flyers are pain to deal with by many armies. Let's have a look.
The first thing to notice is that now the Storm Talon costs 110 points, which seems more reasonable than the previous 130. It carries a  a twin-linked assault cannon, a fine gun which is both reliable and versatile. Interestingly it is underslung so it can shoot targets behind the 'Talon, just mind 24" is not a lot. The secondary weapon is a twin-linked heavy bolter, and while it adds more weight of fire, is really meh against most things in the game. Luckily GW has also lowered the cost of what is probably the most versatile weapon in the hangar deck, the skyhammer missile launcher. 15 points for 3 S7 shots is a good deal, and leaves our chibbyhawk at 125 points. That sounds like a deal. It is not auto-include by any means, but it's not a bad addition. It will provide some AA (at least, if it gets to play after the opponent's) and if not, it can pound ground infantry and light mech targets alike. Just make sure you deal with its nemesis (Quad-guns) before the Talon gets to play, or it will not get far.

The other two options (TL lascannon and TML) are too expensive for what they do. The lascannon could still find its place in a meta full of AV12 flyers but the TML is awfully expensive for what it does.

Consider the alternatives. Space Marines do not get access to flakk missiles or AA weaponry of any kind in their ground forces, thus relying in twin-linked which is still an ineffective way to deal with Flyers. So allies and fortifications aside, it boils down to the Storm Raven or Talon. The Storm Raven is obvioulsy better, if a tad more expensive, and can still transport the cheap SM hammenators or an ironclad. 

What else there is to it? the escort option isn't very enticing to say the least, and strafing run is cute but you already have BS4 and a twin-linked gun. Now that the Storm Raven is available to most Space Marine chapters (sorry 'bout that, Wolves), it has the size to potentially block LOS to the Talon but that is already an expensive proposition. It has been clarified now that it can hover, but keep in mind this will likely end with the Talon hitting the ground or exploding in the air.


The changes to the Storm Talon costs make it an interesting option now to help fill the AA needs of Space Marines, especially now the Helldrakes, Vendettas and Scythes are wreaking havoc. And are versatile enough to deal with other targets should you come across armies without Flyers. It is still a glass cannon and will not survive many dogfights, but it can win your troops a couple of turns of safely sitting on objectives.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The 5 Horus Heresy novels you can't miss!

Did you know the first Horus Heresy book was released in 2006? although the series really didn't start taking off until ebooks were made available in late 2010. All this time I have read and re-read all the novels (and re-re-read again some of those), courtesy of a long conmute on my way to the office. This is the Top-5 novels no Warhammer fan, no science fiction fan can miss. Here we go;

#5 A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill

The Thousand Sons are one of the most special Legions. Warfare was but a side consequence of their real objective which was the collection of all knoweldge. Thus they tapped into the Warp, a vast ocean of emotions and knowledge, and thought they could control it. Thought they were ready for it. Thought it would not harm them. They were wrong.

This is a very enjoyable novel about a fall that should have never happened, for the Thousand Sons and Magnus were loyal and devoted servants of Mankind, and all their did was to enlighten the rest of our kin. Unfortunately for them, the Warp can't be controlled and can't be fooled, and gambling with its inhabitants will only yield disaster. This is again a tale of Mankind being about to reach its peak, only to fall onto the deepest of pits. The other part of the story is told from the eyes of the Wolves of Fenris in Prospero Burns.

Remarkable moment:
Magnus manages to reach Terra to warn the Emperor about the treachery of Horus, but wreaks absolute havoc in doing so and severely damages the Golden Throne, earning the Emperor's punushment through the Space Wolves.

#4 Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

Time has taken its toll and many novels have appeared since, but this is where it all began. For the first time we heard about Loken and Torgaddon, the Mournival, the remembrancers and many more classics. It was a time of hope and enlightment for Mankind. And this is precisely what makes this book so special: probably the only non-dystopic book in all of the Black Library; there was no grim dark future, no doom at hand for Mankind, but a vast Galaxy to be conquered, an interstellar empire to be instaured. The Emperor and His Sons were abroad, commanding vast armies the like of which had never been seen before. Mighty battleships carrying death incarnate in power armour for some, enlightment for others. There was nothing that could stop Mankinf. Nothing on the tangible side of the galaxy at least...

Remarkable moment:
Loken's induction to the Mournival probably sets the highest moment in the Crusade, the final moment of utopia, and the beginning of the end.

#3 Legion by Dan Abnett

Whereas this book tells about the fall of the Alpha Legion, this is first and foremost the only Imperial Guard centric book in an otherwise universe of power armour. Abnett has proven over and over again to be the Master of the Guard, and this time is no different: the real stars of the show are the troopers of the Jokers regiment and their Commanding Officers. Soldiers of flesh and blood, fear and emotions, lasguns and trenches. Non-enhanced, knowing the fear, the cold and hunger. And yet quickly become the stars of the show. Not even the guest appearance of John Grammaticus and the Cabal he works for can steal any of the spotlight.

Remarkable moment: 
Bronzi Hurtado is not a man to be bullied when taking a leak, not even by a mighty Astartes!

#2 Mechanicum by Graham McNeill

Behold the mightiest machines of the Mechanicum rise in arms! this has to be the biggest product niche GW has yet to explore. Hell even Squats wouldn't sell as much as a fully-fledged Mechanicum army. Let's face it, big robots have always been popular in sci-fi, but seldom have been this cool. Huge stalking giants, bearing weapons capable of taking cities down in but a few seconds, fighting for the supremacy of the red planet. And the Heresy seeds creating a huge ridge in the planet that could tear it apart. Knights, Titans, Legions, Adepts, Forges and even a mysterious Dragon  make Mechanicum a Black Library masterpiece. Just. Don't. Miss it.

Remarkable moment:
A loyalist Titan legion defending one of the latest standing Forges from the attack of Legio Mortis. Pure epic.

Remarkable moment #2:
A patrol of Mars Knigths (think about the Grey Knights Dreadknight and you won't be far off the mark) are the first to receive the Emperor upon His descent to Mars. They get blinded by a warm golden light and are kneeling before His presence without even considering it.  Heal thylsef, machine!

#1 Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett

In the grim future/past of the 31st millenium there is only war, and boy what a war! the greatest, most powerful forces the Galaxy has ever seen are fighting each other. And amongst them, the Space Wolves outstand as the most ruthless and dangerous of them all (Abnett dixit). Not even the psychic mastery of the Thousand Sons stand a chance against the Emperor's deterrent once their fury has been unleashed. For most of the novel we will get a different insight though, not of bolters roaring but of the Wolves in the Rout, the Fang, and of their ways through the eyes of an outsider named Kasper Hauser. The Council of Nikaea is at the center of the story and plays a key role on the events that are about to unfold. Of course  there are other forces at play, the same that got Hauser to Fenris in the first place, and that might have been working in the shadows for decades so this Council actually happens...

Remarkable moment:
The final fight between Primarchs Leman Russ and Magnus is truly a clash of titans, yet one that can only have a winner. Abnett is at his best portraying Leman Russ, who tries to look like a barbaric madman but turns out to be more of a cunning warrior than that.

And that's it. Perhaps Ultramarine players will think Know No Fear should be on this list, or BA players will vouch for Fear To Tread. This is of course a subjective list, so feel free to post what are your favourite Horus Heresy novels!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dark Angels Veterans Showcase

Sternguard veterans are amongst my favourite Space Marine minis. They are essentially what a Space Marine should be, wearing ornamented power armour with different replacement parts, scrolls, necklaces, service studs and other blings to make each one stand out. Probably because of my love for Space Wolves, I just find the bog-standard vanilla squads boring, where the only difference is that the occasional skull in the helmet or chst plate. Now Dark Angels don't get Sternguard vets but I just couldn't resist to paint 5 for the greenwing. In game I will either use them as Tactical marines, or as allied SM sternguard.

Of course I still need to base them, but I'm still undecided. For me the bases need to fulfill 2 roles i) enhance the army by providing a rich contrast and ii) set said army in a context, for example a campaign I've read in a book. Now I'm fairly new to DA lore and as such I don't know much beyond them fighting greenskins, and color-wise I'd like to use the same bases for the Death, Raven and Green wings. Any ideas and recommendations are very appreciated!

Also here's a sneak peek at what's in my desk right now - the mighty DW Knights! alas I need to replace the needle on my airbrush so there will be limited progress this week. What do you guys think?

Dark Heart Review & saving money at the Black Library

Dark Heart is a short story by Anthony Reynolds set in the Word Bearers attack to Calth and makes a nice read for those who have enjoyed Know No Fear by Dan Abnett. Don't be fooled by the cover, this story is all about the Word Bearers and covers a scene towards the end of Know No Fear from their point of view. In Abnett's original novel, we pretty much see the Ultramarines side on this particular action and we don't get much insight onto what is going on Kor Phaeron and his boys end.

Now the good thing is that Reynolds doesn't just tell the same story from the other side of the mirror, but rather uses that context to give us some insight onto what the Word Bearers legion has become at this point. Even in the small calm before the storm, things stir where the Word Bearers tread!

All in all an enjoyable read, if only a bit short. But that's what you get for that price. Oh wait.

Price shaenigans, or how this costs 70% more in Europe than in the UK!

Now onto the rant... why does this ebook cost 70% more in euros than in pounds? and 26% more in USD than in pounds?

It is a well-known fact that international companies often have different prices across regions, beyond what the exchange rate fluctuations would justify. This is of course a profitability measure, as the price elasticity, competitive landscape and rest of variables affecting demand and supply can have significant differences. It is also use to protect margins against exchange rate fluctuations but let's not get too technical ;) GW's prices in Australia comes to mind as a good example.

And how to get around it

The good news for us customers is that unlike physical goods that can be restricted to a certain extent, online products like ebooks are far more difficult to bound to a geographical area. If you tried to order from the UK site of GW to say Europe, GW would stopped you from doing it with the UK prices as soon as you entered the destination address. However an ebook is purchased and downloaded, regardless of the adress the user has entered.

Simply register as a new customer with a UK address and order in pounds. Creating a new account takes a couple of minutes and you can order straight away and download the ebook. Unfortunately this only works with ebooks and not traditional paper books.

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