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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Campaigning in 40K Part 2- Getting Back On The Horse

Hey there my friendly readers! Welcome to yet another edition of the Chaos Corner. The Dark Eldar are upon us! Very exciting, though the idea that they have no LoW is kind of lame. Seriously? The other 7th edition books all have a LoW- why are we DE players being shafted again? So annoying. At the very least I hope he comes as a Dataslate. I just wish GW would be just a bit more consistent with their books/releases.

At any rate, I am here to talk about my campaign to... do a 40K Campaign. In a previous article, I outlined a campaign my friends and I did, The Gryphone IV- Siege of Kronian campaign (See that article HERE. We were so excited by the campaign, but it fell apart- the rules were too complex, and the map was cumbersome, to say the least.

However, I never gave up on the dream. I would always tinker with rules, trying to develop better campaign rules. Well, this past year I have come up with a much better ruleset, and a storyline to go with it. So, for your approval, I present to you the storyline: The Judgment of Trovana Prime!!!

The Judgment of Trovana Prime

Background of Trovana Prime: In the opening phases of the 13th Black Crusade (999.M41), the entire Imperial war machine slowly grinds in preparation to meet the threat of Abbadon and his forces of traitors and heretics. This will be a war unlike any other, a war that will shake the foundations of the galaxy. Such a titanic confrontation seems quite remote to the people of Trovana Prime however, as they are far from the front lines; yet, little do these Imperial citizens know that a swift fate is hanging over them, and that the flames of Cadia and the gaze of the Eye of Terror may yet reach Trovana.

Trovana Prime is actually the fourth planet of the Trovana system, however it is the largest habitable planet and thus the center of trade and culture in the system. The Trovana system was settled by pioneers from the Five Hundred Worlds, the original seat of the Ultima Segmentum. Trovana, like so much of the Ultima Seqmentum, is ruled over and protected by the Ultramarines.

Trovana, like many of the original Five Hundred Worlds, is a planet of biodiversity, abundant raw materials, and large cities that facilitate the exploitation of Trovana Prime’s resources. Trovana Prime has become a center of trade, industry, and culture in the region. Naturally, Trovana pays its rather large tithes to Maccragge and the Imperium without issue or complaint.

As the war on Cadia begun, Marneus Calgar, master of the Ultramarines, has called upon all worlds in his domain to produce more materials to aid the forces of Cadia and the besiged Imperial defenders. Calgar is also preparing to lead the Ultramarines personally to battle on Cadia against the forces of the archenemy.

Insurrection on Trovana Prime: Just as Calgar was preparing to mass his forces and gear up wartime production on his worlds, the unthinkable occurred- a revolt broke out on Trovana Prime. The insurrection at first seemed to be a spontaneous uprising, with workers dissatisfied with the increase in work hours and tithes demanded. However, as the rebellion spread from the Kroarscia Industrial Complex Forge Center to the City of Hisi to the agri-plains of the Shahar Valley, it became apparent that a more insidious foe was at work. As the rebels began to unfurl their new standards and flags, the strange and blasphemous symbols demonstrated beyond doubt what started this insurrection, the forces of Chaos.

Lord Governor Porter Vasser the third immediately rallied loyalist forces and set to work in cutting out this foul cancer from Trovana. Vasser and his right hand, General Xan took the fight to the rebel stronghold in Kroarscia, but they continue to resist in all quarters of the globe. Making matters worse, some elements of Vasser’s forces have turned traitor, led by the treasonous Colonel Strommer. Vasser has put a brave face on the conflict, swearing to put down the rebellion at all costs. Vasser did petition the Ultramarines for aid, and Calagar has sworn aid to the loyal forces of Trovana

Chess Pieces: As the rebellion continued, a strange visitor made his way to see Governor Vasser- an old man named Lenard Wynter. Through trickery and deceit, Wynter came before the Governor and revealed that he was an Inquisitor- Wynter the Forgiver of the Ordos Malleus. With such authority, the Inquisitor quickly took much of the power from Vasser and has become the de-facto leader of the Imperial forces of Trovana Prime.

In the midst of these developments, Calgar was about to split his forces- the bulk were to be dispatched to Cadia, with a smaller force sent to Trovana to put down the rebellion. At this moment, Calgar received a communication from Jarred Corwin, lord Inquisitor of the Ordos Hereticus. Corwin petitioned that Calgar himself go to Trovana at once, informing the lord of Ultramar that a renegade, heretical Inquisitor was on planet, weakening the loyalists from within, and Governor Vasser didn’t know it. Gritting his teeth, Calgar acquiesced to the Inquistor’s command and prepared at once to go to Trovana.

The Die Is Cast: As Lord Governor Vasser and Inquisitor Wynter prepared to renew assaults on rebel strongholds, the unthinkable occurred. Chaos Battleships broke from the warp and entered orbit, vanquished the Trovana space defenses, and began to make planetfall. Thus, the truth was revealed- the Traitor Legions were behind the bloodshed. Incredibly, the Plague Marines of the war-band Krankhiet and the Khorne Bezerkers of the Scions of Gorechild have formed an uneasy alliance, putting aside their mutual animosity in order to slaughter those loyal to the Emperor. From orbit, Death Guard battle barges launched chemical and nuclear warheads against loyalist strongholds, rendering the city of H'Chusni and the Highlands of Tulkas into contaminated wastelands, while the Bezerkers, led by Kharn himself, tore a bloody swath through the defenders. Vasser feared for his world and his soul, but Wynter reassured him that the Emperor protects.

As if in answer to a prayer, Calgar and his Ultramarines arrived in-system, and prepared to take the fight to the enemy, both in the void and on the war-torn planet. Calgar swore that this blasphemy would be avenged, for no planet of the Five Hundred would ever fall to Chaos. He swore an oath, on the honor of Guilliman, that justice would be done for Trovana Prime.

From the planet surface, Inquisitor Wynter could feel it with his psychic senses. Corwin was indeed with the Ultramarines- Corwin had his tainted claws in everything, didn’t he? Wynter, sighed, knowing he may have to fight the Ultramarines now as well. Taking up his weapons, he simply said “For the Emperor”…

What is the true purpose of the Chaos invasion of Trovana?
What spurred the unholy alliance between two traitorous legions?
Can Calgar save Trovana and then make all speed for Cadia?
How will Lord Governor Vasser save his world?
And… which Inquisitor is the real traitor?

The War for Trovana has truly begun…

Well, that's the story set for the epic campaign. I'll post again with some of the rules that I made, and a progress report on the campaign itself. 

Until next time...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Two For One Book Review: Vengeful Spirit and Stormcaller

Hey there everyone. It continues to be busy times for us 40K fans. The Dark Eldar are imminent, and I am both hopeful and nervous. I want the strengths of the 2010 book to continue, but all these rumors seem to scream "NERF"... we shall see. At any rate, I'm back with a pair of book reviews. Now, I haven't done this in a while, so I may be rusty at my book reporting skills. Beware of minor SPOILERS, please. So, away we go...

Vengeful Spirit by Graham McNeil

I have mixed feelings on this book. I am glad to see Horus back and center stage- it is his Heresy, after all. McNeil makes Horus as charismatic and strong as he should be- the reason so many would follow him. His "charm" has been missing from most of his appearances lately, so it's nice to see that aspect of this character return. I also continue to get a hoot out of Abaddon (such a curmudgeon) and "Little Horus". At any rate, Horus is looking to "walk the path" that the Emperor walked in the early days- a path that could take Horus to godhood. Horus just has to lay waste to a planet or two to get there. His Daddy issues come to the fore here as well, in interesting ways. My only complaint is that just as Horus is about to take his first steps into the Warp... the book pulls away from it. The coolest part is thus consigned to our imaginations, for good or ill.

The other parts of the book is where I have real issues with the author. The rest of the elements never seem to come together. There's yet another perpetual (I guess the immortal Emperor has the time to be this prolific, huh?), but she is not as interesting as the ones that have come before (Grammaticus and Oll Persson come to mind). There's some Imperial Knight house intrigue- I'll admit, it did a great twist turn I didn't expect, but- it felt shoehorned in there- cobbled in just because GW has this hot new model. The Ultramarine and Blood Angel contingents are forgettable and their impact is negligible. Finally, there's Malcador's "proto-Grey Knights". Now, I like the idea of this strike team, but I wish that Loken had not been brought back. I loved Loken, but I think he should have stayed dead. Their mission is interesting, but they get into trouble--- and get out of it fairly easily. I wonder if Horus is a warmaster or a ringmaster, barely controlling his 3-ring circus, as the Knights Errant slip through his fingers very quickly.

The battles really shine- the planet of Molech becomes a charnel house once the Sons of Horus arrives, and McNeil does well with the action scenes. Its just that the elements never quite gel (unlike say Betrayer or Unremembered Empire, which took tons of dangling  plot strings and tied them together so well). I liked the book, but I didn't love it, as I was hoping.

Stormcaller by Chris Wright

I reviewed his first book in what appears to be a trilogy, Blood of Asaheim HERE. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, and this one is just as good, if not better.

The story begins shortly after the first one ends. The rout of Jarnhamar is moping up operations on the shrine world Ras Shakkeh when two arrivals herald even bigger challenges- a vicious Cardinal and, of course, Njal Stormcaller, Rune Priest of the Space Wolves. All parties want to take the fight to the Death Guard- who have their own space hulk spreading contagion throughout the sector. Naturally, the cardinal has a rather extreme view of how to deal with the hulk (destroy the populated planets in its wake- not too extreme), while Njal wants to board the hulk and take it out from within. What ensues is a crackerjack action story, complete with a ticking time bomb, betrayals, and naturally tensions between the Wolves and the Ecclasiarchy. Whereas the last book felt like a siege from Lord of the Rings, this book is like Empire Strikes Back: the band of heroes is split up, dark truths are learned, and it ends on an ambiguous cliffhanger.  I mean that as a compliment; the book is a fun ride.

The action, though pulse pounding, takes a back seat to the characters. I love the chemistry between Gunnlaugur and Ingvar. Ingvar in particular is intriguing, the former Deathwatch veteran still trying to find his place in his pack. While tensions between the two have improved, it threatens to bubble to the surface at the worst moments. Olegir is given a fascinating, almost "political" mission which sees the big guy NOT fight. Jorundur is his usual grumpy self (and the least developed of the characters). Hafloi is still hot-headed but he is learning that blood lust is not enough and the Grey Hunters have their merits as "cooler" warriors. Then there's Baldr. Poor Baldr. I can reveal nothing more here, but oh boy... It is interesting to note that they briefly remember the slain Valtyr, which I think is appropriate. The Wolves aren't sentimental. Death is part of the work and life of a Space Marine. They acknowledge it and move on. It's that simple.

Njal is a big presence, though he is not drawn nearly as well as our friends in Jarnhamar. However, Njal makes some decisions (and mistakes) that may have huge repercussions on both Jarnhamar and the galaxy at large. But he does tie into the larger themes of "knowing your place" in the scheme of things- he is the ultimate authority, he knows the rules, but even he is unsure. Its great stuff.

Also taking that theme is, once again, the Death Guard. The leader of the space hulk Festerax, the Death Guard sorcerer known as The Mycelite is a great character- he's quite melancholy, resigned to the fact that everything rots. The sooner we all acknowledge this and hasten the process of entropy, the better for the galaxy. That sums up the Death Guard (and Nurgle's) position pretty well. Again, it sets a great contrast for the Wolves- they truly are running ragged by the constant war, surely they feel the touch of decay? Wright continues to have fun comparing the two. Though most would say that the Thousand Sons are the "natural enemies" of the Wolves, I think the Death Guard make much better foils for them, at least in Wright's hands.

I truly enjoyed the book- once I got started I couldn't put it down. If you liked the first one this is a great addition to the saga. I can't wait till the next one (Typhus? The Inquisition? Eye of Terror?).

Well, that's all for now. Until next time... stay thirsty my friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Campaigning in 40K- A Personal Quest

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, to yet another glorious update to the Chaos Corner. I hope you will find this offering to be interesting, intriguing, and indispensable! I have to say I am very excited to see new Dark Eldar on the horizon (I love the Haemonculus and the Wracks- though I wish the Wracks were a bit cheaper- unless they have really strengthened them in the new Codex). The Dark Eldar was my first army back in the day (I started in 2000 with 3rd edition Dark Eldar), and I loved their update in 2010 (fantastic models, great codex with lots and lots of options). And while I don't play Fantasy, the Nagash stuff has been interesting, and rumors that Fantasy Chaos will be getting goodies may well translate into 40K Chaos players getting goodies too (one can hope- either new Daemon models or at the very leaset models and bitz for conversions).

I have always wanted to play a long term, story driven campaign complete with a campaign map, story background, and a lot more. I'm not interested in the tournament scene really, much preferring to play with friends or one-offs with people at my local store. However, I have always wanted a hard-hitting, twist-turning, and exciting campaign. The problem was getting people to invest the time and effort in such a campaign.

In July 2005, my friends and I managed to put together one campaign. It was called The Gryphonne Secondus Campaign: The Siege of Kronian. Basically, the famous Forgeworld of Gryphonne IV is under attack by Tyranids. It's lesser known neighbor, Gryphonne Secondus is also under attack- not just by Nids, but also by Chaos and Orks! The idea was that all of our friends could take part in the campaign.

 We wrote a storyline that featured a good-hearted but weak Planetary Governor, a divided populous rife with traitors, slavering Nids and Orks, as well as heroic Guradsmen and Space Marines. The campaign centered on the city of Kronian, capital of Gryphonne II. We created a whole "campaign pack", which included the background, rules, maps, pictures, charts, and even quotes from key leaders. Yes- our imaginations ran wild! This was exactly what we were talking about doing for years! The first batch of games were an absolute blast! I even made a newsletter (The Daily Inquisitor) at the end of every campaign turn to summarize the events of the turn in an exciting fashion- I printed it on "old parchment" looking paper to boot.

But, there were a few problems. Our imagination got the better of us. We made the darn thing way too complicated. The map system I devised was a mess- with limited avenues of attack on the city "tiles". Making it worse was that each "tile" had its own rules, missions, etc. Basically,  it was way more cumbersome than it should have been. It made preparation a nightmare. And, of course, it was hard to schedule everyone to get together. Before you knew it, people dropped out--- the whole thing pretty much collapsed.

We played 4 campaign turns, which saw several battles in each turn- so it turned out to be a lot of battles, but as everyone pulled out, the whole thing just came undone. In the end, it was just me and my brother (which was not at all what I expected to happen). We played a "final Apocalyspe" match to determine the winner. Ultimately, my brother's guardsmen won the day, saving the world from the forces of evil.

The collapse of the campaign saddened me. But, the flame would not quite die. For the next few years, I tinkered with campaign ideas, tearing down what was done with the Gryphonne II campaign pack and streamlining it. I painted up the map- tiles that Games Workshop produced. I began to create a new story (which would see several revisions). Most of all- I kept after the rules, making sure that it would be faster and playable.

The Victory Parade at the end of the Gryphonne II Campaign

Thus, after years of tinkering and revision, my new campaign was ready- the Judgement of Trovana Prime!! In my next blog update, I'll let you guys all know how that campaign has been going- if I have indeed learned from my mistakes, or if I am indeed a fool and have learned nothing...

Until next time!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Zombie Champion Challenge

Hey there, my fellow denizens of the Warp-Hell that we call the Internet! Welcome to yet another edition of Chaos Corner. Old Man Chaos is here to entertain you and hopefully inspire some conversion creativity in my readers. All the time, I look at other blogs, Facebook pages, etc. and get inspired by the great work I see there. I am not saying my work is "great", but I enjoy my hobby and if somebody sees my blog and says "Hey- that's not bad, but I could make that even better" and they do it- well, that's what this is all about folks.

I have been fascinated by zombies for quite some time. When I was a little kid (growing up in the 80s and 90s) my parents got me interested in sci-fi. I watched Alien at an early age for sure, as well as Star Trek, Star Wars. I was also exposed to horror films like Halloween, the Howling, Tales From The Darkside, etc. though my parents were more into the classics like the Universal Horror movies.

However, there were some movies that my parents refused to let me see. The Exorcist for one. Night of the Living Dead was another. I remember seeing part of it on TV till my mother changed the channel. She said that movie was "bad"- not bad as in poorly made- rather, bad as in evil. Wrong. Just too scary for all the wrong and evil reasons. I was forbidden to watch that film.

But, in 1996, I was a senior in high school when the situation changed. I bought a PSOne in 1995 when it first came out, and in 1996 a game came out for it that would alter the video game industry and my own movie/game interests forever- Resident Evil. In that game, you are a elite cop trapped in a mansion that has become a nightmare of experimentation gone wrong- mutants, viruses, and of course... zombies. My world was changed forever by that experience. I did get a copy of Night of the Living Dead on VHS and that was it. I was a zombie fan for life. I quickly discovered Dawn and Day, as well as Zombie! and a host of others (both good and lame).

Naturally, my enjoyment of the undead eventually found an outlet when I got into 40K. At first I played Dark Eldar, but soon the Plague Marines beckoned and that was it. It was so easy to make bloated, decayed Plague Marines. However, I soon got another zombie jolt for 40K with the Eye of Terror book (a hollowed classic that they have never been able to recapture), which featured Plague Zombies. With that little impetus and inspiration, I made 75 Plague Zombies. I used fantasy zombies, but I also used plastic Cadians and Catachans too- Imperial soldiers that fell to the zombie plague. I had a vast horde of Plague Marines and their victims- arisen to aid those that brought the plague in the first place (If you read Wright's Space Wolf series he describes this incredibly well, as does ADB in Cadian Blood). Great times as a Nurgle player.

However, subsequent editions came out, and there were no equivalent rules for Plague Zombies, and I was afraid they would be consigned to oblivion (or friendly, rules-loose games). But, then 6th edition came out- though the new Chaos Codex had issues, they allowed you to take Plague Zombies once more, by having Typhus as your warlord. My undead would walk again in the name of Nurgle!

It took me a while to "get it" that zombies had to have champions just like cultists. At first I thought that was an "upgrade", but really no- its required. So, when I fielded them I usually just said "this one" is the champion. But, I didn't like that... it felt like a cop out. Problem is, I didn't have an alternative. That changed this past summer, when inspiration hit me like a plague-ridden slap in the face.

The new Space Marine kit is a great one- lots of weapons, armor varieties, etc. Then Nurgle told me that such could be brought more in line with his ways of entropy... yes, I could convert them into Plague Zombie Champions! I took up my cutters, knife, and glue and... bam! Plague Zombie Champions!

Just imagine- an Ultramarine is fighting the forces of Nurgle when he is bitten by the zombies- now, he is in agony as his geneseed-enhanced body tries to fight off the infection. He fights on in the streets of a hive city, trying to save the uninfected as his own body begins to succumb to this virulent strain of Nurgle's Rot. Finally, even his superhuman body falls to the plague, and when it does he mindlessly attacks those he was trying to save.

When the end came, most of the planet's inhabitants had died and returned as plague zombies of Nurgle. As the Plague Marines stalked the streets of the dead, admiring their work and praising Nurgle, they stumbled upon the heroic Ultramarine- his armor corroded, his body wasted and oozing, and his mouth wet with the blood of human flesh recently feasted upon. The Death Guard captain laughs grimly, and orders his troops to bring the Ultramarine to their lander. The captain smiles with rotten teeth, knowing that on the next world they "visit", this Ultramarine will help spread the plague far and wide before he is lain low by his uninfected brethren. Imagine their horror to see a fellow Ultramarine with the taint of Nurgle... that would be foul. That would be glorious.

And that's what I did. I made Space Marines of several chapters into Zombie Champions. I put them in various stages of decay, and put the appropriate blood, slime, corrosion, and mutations (I figured that the enhanced geneseed of the Marines would make the Plague react in other ways, causing more advanced mutations- the more enhanced, the more mutation). Now, there can be no mistaking which zombies are the champions. I can't wait to use them in battle alongside my regular zombies.

So I hope you liked this look into the workings of a mad devotee of Nurgle. So, I ask my fellow Nurgle players out there- how do you handle your Plague Zombie Champions?

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Conversion Time: A New Nurgle Heldrake

Hey there everybody! Welcome back to another edition of Chaos Corner. Today I have a sequel of sorts to a previous article, which you may want to peruse first HERE. In any case, allow me to present... my second Nurgle Heldrake...

So, as you may have seen in my previous article- I love the Heldrake (having 2 for my Khorne Bezerkers), but I felt that the model just wasn't "Nurgl-y" if you well, and given the model it appeared (at first) to be difficult to make suitable conversions. Of course, as a Chaos player I always have my eyes to conversion. Thus, one day I was in my hobby shop and I said to some of the gaming group that it I was thinking of combining the Heldrake with the Fantasy Zombie Dragon. The gaming group was impressed, save one. One of the circle of gamers sighed, saying that there was no way to do such a conversion. Naturally, I could not resist such a challenge and thus began to work furiously at a conversion.

I loved how that turned out. However, once I was done I realized I had a ton of parts left over- certainly enough to do another 'drake? So, I envisioned what the second one would look like, and immediately began work. However, there were problems. With the parts available, this would be a trickier conversion to pull off- I'd need lots of putty and brass rods. I also wasn't sure if my "vision" would look right, even if I could pull it off. Finally, other projects kept vying for my attention- the Imperial Knight, Plague Drones, Dreadnoughts, etc.

Finally, in the midst of summer, I began work on a Nurgle Forgefiend- and I decided to work on the Heldrake simultaneously (Am I ambitious or what?). Thus, I was properly motivated by Grandfather Nurgle to get this bad boy done.

So, let's break it down piece by piece. I put the Heldrake neck/head on the zombie dragon body. This did not fit on nearly as well, so I had to do some putty work. Putty is easy for Nurgle- you can make it look like ridges or sickly growths or whatever. It hides a multitude of sins. I then put the wings on. I could only do the two, otherwise the model would pitch. Again, I had to putty the hell out of it to keep the wings in place. I wanted the wings up, to give it some motion (it's swooping quickly).

At the back end, I wanted to put the heldrake legs on. Here, I used brass rod and drove it straight through the model. Then I glued the legs to the rod. Finally, I used putty to cover the rod.

As I looked at the model, I saw that a few things felt missing. First, in the rib cage it looked awfully empty. Thus, I decided to make putty intestines dangling in there, as if Father Nurgle wants its guts to spill everywhere to infect his enemies. I also put putty intestines around the brass rod holding up the heldrake in order to give the rod more support.

But, something still was amiss. I didn't like how he looked suspended just by the rod. It just wasn't appealing. So, as I mulled it over I did something I rarely do- I made a scenic diorama base. I used some of the spare building pieces I had to make it appear he is flying over an Imperial city. And from the one side it hides the rod almost completely.

And yet... I wanted more from the scenic base, so I decided to literally make a scene. I put an Imperial Guardsmen (painted in my brother's scheme) on the outside, looking up fearfully- he is clearly desperate to avoid the heldrake's gaze. So why isn't he hiding inside the wrecked building--- hahaha! Take a look...

But that nod to Walking Dead still wasn't enough. So, I put a zombie inside the building. A victim of Nurgle's plague, the dead man now walks, seeking to spread the joy of Nurgle's Rot with others.

But... to really doom the Guardsman, I put this message...

Boy, is the grunt in trouble or what? If the zombie doesn't get him the heldrake will. I had a lot of fun visualizing that scenic base, and I love how it came out. The scene enhances the look of the Heldarke- he is banking around, looking for a victim.  He looks emaciated and the guts spilling out of him ties him into other elements of my army (Daemon Princes, Plague Marines,  and some vehicles have the guts spilling out).

I am happy that I was able to make two Heldrakes like this. They are really different and to me, they now look like they belong to the forces of the plague god. (And I think I saved some cash, as the zombie dragon is cheaper than a heldrake, thus I have Saved Money the Chaos Way once more).

Well, that's all for now. We have all heard the rumblings--- Dark Eldar are coming up sooner or later. I am hopeful that the new book will continue what the redo started... I really should ally Chaos with the DE at some point, shouldn't I...?

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mini-Movie Reviews- Apes, Guardians, Turtles

Hey there everyone! Old man Chaos is here with some mini-movie reviews. Now, am I reviewing miniature movies? Or will my reviews be brief? Ha ha. The jokes never stop around this joint. I'll be here all week.... At any rate, I have seen a couple of movies over the past month or so so I figured I'd give my 2 cents, as per usual. So, let us begin...

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I have a long history with the Planet of the Apes franchise. I love the originals. They are incredible films (yes, they are dated now, but you have to think about them in the context in which they were made). This series has every sci-fi staple that you can imagine: space travel, time travel, alternate timelines/realities, nuclear holocausts, mutants, environmental messages, distopian police states, war, racial allegory... I could go on. And the series is also very good at connecting the various threads, ideas, and names- its not perfect, but this franchise is an awesome universe.

Then, after Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the series ended (logically so, I might add). Recently,
there have been 2 attempts at rebooting the franchise. Tim Burton tried it first, and though the movie had some strong make-up effects and visuals, the plot was bad and well... let's not talk about that ending. The more recent attempt was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I am in the minority here I suspect- I didn't like this one either. My "brain" was interested- a totally different take on the franchise, with cutting edge effects. However, my "heart" wasn't in it- it did not engage me the way the old franchise did. I felt Rise was just dull.

Fast forward to this summer. All advance reviews said that Dawn was a game-changer- an excellent movie that did real honor to the old franchise while charting a new course. I decided, with some trepidation, to see it. And boy... it was amazing!

The story, actors, digital effects... it all combined to tell a great story of how humanity has just about collapsed and apes are in the ascendant. However, both species exist near each other- will they fight? Can they get along? This movie explores themes of war, suspicion, abuse of nature... The apes are just phenomenal- they look like animals, but each one has a soul. This is captured perfectly by Andy Serkis as Caesar- the leader of the apes. While he is suspicious of humans, he wants peace. His second in command, Koba wants to fight the humans- for all too human reasons, and actually rather compelling reasons, interestingly enough. What is set in motion is a multi- dimensional struggle within the ape community, the human community, and between the two species. The action is hard hitting, the quiet moments are pitch perfect. And, in PotA tradition, the ending is morally ambiguous, to say the least.

Ironically, with everyone saying this movie takes the franchise into "new waters"- I disagree- I feel that this movie borrows heavily from Battle of the Apes- the themes of peace and suspicion are there. Heck, change Koba's name to Aldo and presto... its a re-imagining of the weakest of the old franchise. I'm fine with this though. It borrows but is still very different (Koba's motivation is much stronger than Aldo's; Caesar here is more ambivalent toward humanity).

This was a real treat. I give it 3 1/2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. Check this one out- fan of Apes or not, there is a lot of meat to this film, and it has lots of good action scenes for casual film goers.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel movie franchise has had its ups (Captain America 2, Avengers) and its downs (Iron Man 2), but overall this franchise is incredible. The Marvel characters have gotten incredible treatment in these films- movies that are fun, filled with character moments, and ultimately they are very loyal to the essence of these characters (no emo-Spidey here). This trend of fun movie going continues in Guardians of the Galaxy- though focusing on lesser known characters, the movie is still a blast and fitting with this Marvel spirit.

The actors give it their all here, with Chris Pratt doing well as the heart and soul of this rag tag team. Rocket Raccoon is also well realized, with Bradley Cooper's voice being almost unrecognizable (in other words, not his Hangover shtick).  Though he says little, Groot also tugs at the heartstrings. Dave Batista is a lot of fun as Drax, providing both action and some comic relief (nothing goes over his head ha ha). Last, Zoe Saldana is again the queen of sci-fi as Gamora- beautiful but dangerous, she realizes the error of her ways and tries to stop a terrible plan she has helped to set in motion.

The movie is fun. Lots of humor, great character interplay and banter. The action scenes are also quite good for the most part.The movie's soundtrack is almost a character in itself, with some fun 1970s tunes in there. The movie also gives the best explanation of Thanos and the "Infinity Stones" yet- setting the ground for all that cosmic stuff. I think Josh Brolin will do just fine as Thanos (he's here briefly). I am looking forward to his character taking center stage at some point.

There are problems here though. First, the bad guy Ronan the Accuser. Now Lee Pace is just fine in the role (menacing, etc). However, his motivation is paper thin, and he is never really developed. He's kinda just there. Red Skull, Loki, and Winter Soldier / Pierce all make an impression. Sadly, Ronan falls into the Malekith/Whiplash/Chitari realm of being boring and underdeveloped. This is too bad- it takes the teeth out of the tension and conflict.

Karen Gillan fares a bit better as Nebula (she is given a bit more to do) and her appearance and
attitude make an impression (hope to see more from her as well), but she's second fiddle to the bland Ronan. The climax is also too familiar and bland- destructive energy cloud, hero fights baddie, energy thing happens, battle won- we've seen this too often in Marvel movies (see Cap 1, Thor 2, Avengers).  Come on Marvel people- we can do better than this (see Cap 2).

So, I would give Guardians 3.25 out of 4. Cap 2 is still the absolute highlight of the Marvel franchise, but GotG was a ton of fun and I can't wait to see their further adventures (and more Thanos).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Oh. My. God.

I went into this with LOW expectations. I loved the old cartoon (had the action figures and all that), but I'm not a diehard fanatic as an adult. As the promotions began for this movie, I wasn't sure what to make of it. The more recent trailers convinced me that the prognosis wasn't good. But, a friend of mine was dying to see it, so off we went.

Thanos. End. It. All. Now.

This movie is a wreck. A horrible wreck. The plot is nonsensical, to put it mildly. Megan Fox looks nice, but can't act her way out of a paper bag. Will Arnett belongs in another movie. The Shredder seems to have been thrown in at the last minute (trust me- his relation to the plot is stupid and he acts basically as just muscle). William Fitchner is here for a paycheck, pretty much.

Nurgle... Take away my pain...

The turtles themselves are not bad- they have some good moments of camaraderie, and some jokes do well (most fall flat though). Then Splinter shows up knowing things that his character simply has NO WAY OF KNOWING AT ALL- he should be called Exposition, not Splinter. Poor plotting 101.

Dear. God. No.

The action scenes are haphazard and without stakes. There is no tension. No cohesive narrative. The villain's plot makes no real sense at all. Shredder looks good but that's about it. This movie was just awful. There are few times where I feel CHEATED going to a movie. Even weak movies have some redeeming value (For example- Machete Kills at least had a fun performance from Mel Gibson, most of the film was poor). Ask my friend Pete about Lost in Space (the joke is we "never" saw it, if you know what I mean). This movie was that bad.

Let's put it another way. I bought the 1990 Turtles movie on bluray for $4.99 at Best Buy in order to watch it and purge the crap I had just seen (and the 1990 movie isn't the greatest either- but it has heart and character development).

Zero out of Four Marks of Chaos. And for the record, it is films like this that makes Khorne want to collect skulls, by the way.

Anyways, that's my movie reviews. Planning on seeing Sin City 2 (hoping Rodriguez has brought his A game) this weekend. Until next time...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Scions of Gorechild- The Engines of Bloodshed

Hey there everybody! Old Man Chaos is back with yet another startling, insane, and shocking edition of Chaos Corner. What's that you say? It's hyperbole? Exaggeration? Overwrought and melodramatic? Ha!! No I say- this will be the greatest edition of Chaos Corner ever!! (*results may vary. Not a licensed spokesperson. The views expressed here are the opinions of one person and do not reflect the editors or owners of Chaos Corner. Ex post facto). Anyways, I've got some oldies and some newbies, presented herein for the first time. So now, without further ado... making their Internet debut... The Engines of Blood!

You have seen two of these bad-boys before, but now they are joined by the third (and I suspect final, at least for the Scions of Gorechild) daemon engine. This one looks a bit different I grant you, but I shall explain his origins in due time below.

First, let me say that Maulerfiends are very strong daemon engines. They can take apart most tanks with ease (unless you have a bad roll or two- it happens). They move incredibly fast and can get into the enemy quickly. They fare less well against elite units like Terminators. Complicating things is their lower WS and I- which kinda sucks (I guess they loose it in exchange for their speed. However, looking at a Murderfang in a drop pod it kinda sucks when he gets that many attacks).

At any rate, these puppies are good at tearing through armor and generally terrorizing the enemy. One Maulerfiend is just not enough though. If you take only one, the enemy will focus all fire on that and it WILL die. Now, perhaps that's what you want (firing at the Maulerfiend takes the heat off your other units), but if you want the Maulerfiend to do damage, you may need to take two. Or three. This makes them more survivable (most armies CAN'T take out all 3 at once, even my friend who has taken 3 or 4 Devastator Squads in Inquisitorial Chimeras with Meltas can't take out all 3). Now, opposing a regular army, the Maulerfiends can go after tanks with impunity once they make it to the enemy lines.

So- I thought we could look at all three together, and one at a time too. One is basic with no real conversions. The other two, of course, are heavily converted- its Chaos and I can't resist conversion, you guys know that by now.

So, here is Bonebreaker. This was my first Maulerfiend, purchased when they first came out in the fall of 2012. The one thing that I don't like about the kit is that it really isn't posable at all. If you are building the Maulerfiend, it only goes together in one pose. But, since this was my first, I didn't try anything fancy- I just wanted to see how well it would all go together. The one change I did was I used the Ectoplasma head instead of the "Rhinoceros" looking one, which I just didn't care for. I like the teeth and open maw, as if it is going to bite your head off. I also added the Khornate symbol in the middle of the 8-sided Chaos symbol on his top carapace.

The second Maulerfiend, The Skull Hunter, was completed in Sept/Oct 2013 (I build him while playing GTA IV- I was up well past midnight to work on him). I went a bit crazier on this one than I did on the first one. First, I put a rider on the neck. The rider was a Khorne Bezerker with a head and arm from the Forsaken fantasy box. I wanted him to look a bit feral and warp-tainted but not go overboard. I used chains from the Dark Eldar to make it look like the Maulerfiend's harness.

I again used the Ectoplasma head. I also included a couple of dead Imperial Guardsmen. One is being eaten, the other has been crushed underfoot. The Bezerker-rider is looking not at the carnage but rather toward the horizon, as if already looking for the next target while the Maulerfiend plays with his food.

And now, for my newest addition, thus making it a trilogy of terror, as it were. My final 'Fiend, The Warbringer. Now, you're saying "this guy has guns, therefore he's a Forgefiend". Perhaps, but this is what I was thinking- would Khorne have a Forgefiend? Should I use one- they aren't AS good as the Maulerfiends (if they cost as much as the Maulerfiend I'd be happier- they are over-costed).

But, what if I wanted to use one? But what if I wanted a third Maulerfiend (how many of these damn things can I buy?)? So, I decided to make a Maulerfiend, but with guns. Thus, he has the "Khornate" appearance of charging the enemy, but he has two cannons. I used the arm rigging joints and simply put them on the legs. So, I have a charging Forgefiend.

As a total chaotic contrarian, I went with the "Rhinoceros" head with this one. I'm not thrilled with the head, but I added the alternate Khorne helm/symbol from the Lord of Skulls, giving the head a larger and more fearsome aspect. So, in my friendly games, I can use him as either/or, and people are fine with that as long as I explain which one he is beforehand. Tournaments may not be so kind to my conversion, but that's OK. Not too worried about that.

So, the three of them together make The Engines of Blood. Three daemon engines that wreck havoc on the battlefields, slaying all in the name of Khorne. The Scions of Gorechild do have a Warpsmith in their ranks, and they have made deals for other engines in the past with other Warpsmiths- Lord Korlath will gladly lend his forces to another warlord in order to gain resources or weapons, or, in this case, the aid of Warpsmiths. For Korlath and the Scions, its win/win- they get to spill blood and make material gains, which will allow them to spill more blood. They never get a bad deal, unless the warlord betrays them- but that only gives Korlath an excuse to spill even more blood then take what he was promised anyway.

As for the Engines of Blood, they are fearsome on the battlefield, filling the enemy ranks with terror as they roar and then cross the battlefield with such incredible speed and ferocity. Even Space Marines dread the appearance of the Engines of Blood. They are the battering ram, the vanguard of the Scions of Gorechild- the opponents that they don't scare away they smash aside, ruining the enemy battleline and allowing the Scions to attack unhindered.

I am pleased with their cohesive appearance; they look similar but also distinct- exactly the look I wanted. Seeing all three on the battlefield is quite a sight, I must say.

Well, that's all for this posting. I have something even more blasphemous for the next one... Until next time!