Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review of 2015

For me, 2015 became very focussed on Warhammer 30,000 and the Horus Heresy. Although I have not abandoned Warhammer 40,000 altogether, my personal view is that the Horus Heresy series that is being produced by Forge World is simply an order of magnitude better to the usual Warhammer 40,000 fare. 

Why Horus Heresy?
I wrote a full article earlier in the year on this exact subject. But in summary, I'm drawn to the Horus Heresy because I consider it to be simply a better constructed, balanced and more fun game. It also deals with THE part of the Warhammer timeline that has intrigued me the most for a long long time. In the distant future of 40k, we know that everything is at war with everything else. The story is not progressing and its all a bit grim-dark. In 30k, though, we see a time of optimism and expansion of the human empire through the Great Crusade. Humanity is unified (once conquered!) and its space marine legions sweep (or attempt to sweep) all xenos before them. This is, of course, broken by the betrayal of Horus and his allies, leading to inter-legionary warfare for (maybe?) the first time. (maybe, because it has been teasingly hinted that the Space Wolves were released against either Legio II or XI at some point in the past). The prospect of building an army that could take part in the Great Crusade, Isstvan, and the wider Heresy, plus ultimately still be playable in 40k strongly appealed to me. Plus, I get to read in a humongous amount of detail never presented before what happened during those dark days of the Heresy in 30k.

So what appeals to me about 30k rules and armies? Well, having been in both games since the "beginning", I think that 30k displays a much stronger tendency toward balance than 40k has ever done. That's not to say there are not strong and powerful rules in 30k, there most certainly are. Take for example the Iron Hands Legion rules -- they reduce the incoming "S" of any ranged weapon by 1. That's truly incredible as it makes them the 30k analogue of Plague Marines in terms of survivability due to the mechanics of comparing "S" to "T" of the weapons and miniatures involved. But in 30k, its balanced up. The Iron Hands must always stand and fight (Ferrus clearly didn't think much of his marines going to ground) and they have rigid tactics that severely limits the kinds of army that this legion can field (in a fluffy manner as well, I'd argue). This is not to say 40k does not possess some kinds of balance, it most certainly does (lower I for plague marines, and a higher points cost than basic marines to say the least).

Yet, I've personally found it hard to "break" the 30k army building rules to construct a win-at-all-costs army. Sure, I can think of a few Word Bearers legion lists that might combine with daemons and Be'Lakor / Fateweaver for some scary combinations with the likes of the Gal Vorbak, but that's the best I can do in terms of really fielding a uber army that is going to try to win with a death-star style unit. And that relies on 40k units and army codexes. There's also the Alpha Legion instant tank death combination too. I'm sure there probably exists other scary combinations without primarchs present, and I'd love to hear about them (leave a comment if you have something to equal or better Word Bearers + Be'Lakor / Fateweaver army lists!). But in 40k, we have all come across screamer-stars online or in person (or fielded them ourselves), and necron flying deathstar armies before that, leaf blower before that, etc. I just can't find too many 30k issues like that though. And it is for these reasons that I'm doubly attracted to 30k.

Top 10 Hits.
All this being true, I have focussed this blog on reviewing units from the Horus Heresy publications for the main part this year. I've trawled through all the first four books (Betrayal, Massacre, Extermination and Conquest). The fifth book (Tempest) is underway with the legion units at least complete (Ultramarines and Word Bearers). 

In terms of sheer hits to this blog, these reviews come out top. They have remained top of my hits for almost the entire year. In order, the most popular pages on this blog for the year 2015 are:

Indeed, to get to anything that is not directly related to the Horus Heresy, I have to plunge to approximately position number 40 for the Chaos Space Marine summary page. Then to 61st position for the Dark Angels. And then 69th position for the Daemon Name Generator.

Entertainingly, there was a noticeable upswing in hits to my blog following the publication of Betrayal at Calth board game. Seems like the Horus Heresy is gaining a lot of traction out there!

Hobby and Gaming.
Alongside the reviews of the Horus Heresy, I have also been working on assembling an Alpha Legion force. These articles can be found under the "Unbroken Chain" tag throughout the year. The goal with this army is to ensure that each model is at least a kit-bash, but preferably a conversion. Several examples include the Necron-armed sniper marines, and the chaos marine converted terminator weapon arms. Let alone the Contemptor Dreadnoughts

The paint scheme I have settled on for these guys is a dark metallic blue, spray-painted on to the miniatures using last year's Christmas present. I'm tempted to purchase a big bag of 32mm bases to ensure the rest of the army has somewhat larger bases as this seems to be the trend nowadays for 30k marines.

In terms of gaming, I've only got a few games in. This is largely a product of moving away from my gaming group in Melbourne and returning to the UK (in 2014) where I don't have a regular group any longer. Plus my children have had to come first, naturally (did I mention that one of them has started a Tau army? A Tau army! What am I to do!). That said, I did manage a few games. Most memorable was an Apocalypse game in the middle of the year. I have a few images from that one, but perhaps the best moment was when Typhus repelled an Ork charge single-handedly

Role-Playing Games.
Following the publication of Astulae, my very old roleplaying group got back together earlier in the year for a number of Skype sessions to test it out. Very enjoyable overall! If you happen to play Astulae as well, do let me know and jot me a message! I'd love to hear about it. 

Although I have not yet finished my reviews of the old Dungeons and Dragons Dark Sun campaign setting, they have progressed a little bit from where I was at the beginning of the year. I am just about up to the second campaign setting review and hope to continue these next year - regardless of whether these are less popular than the 30k reviews or not!

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you've continued to enjoy (or perhaps even discovered?) my humble little corner of the internet this year. Best wishes, and I hope 2016 will be as good as this one!


Kraggi said...

The Betrayal at Clath set got me back onto Games Workshop and 30k will probably be my main game moving forward.

Your blog has been an awesome source of information and communication inspiration please keep up the good work and

Happy New Year!

jabberjabber said...

Cheers Kraggi -- much appreciated.
Who knows, now I'm back in the UK I might even get to meet some of you guys in person one day!

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