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Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Brief Rant

Welcome back to the Chaos Corner, my fellow Chaos legionnaires! It is really hot in this part of the Eye of Terror, and it looks like its going to stay hot through the weekend. I may have to do some modeling in order to stay cool!

I am here today for a rant. Something very big has been bothering me these past few days. Yes, I am sure many of you are going to say "No Duh", but I am very tired of the trolling, bitterness, and outright hostility on the web. It has gotten completely out of control. What should be constructive criticism and concerns has turned into outright insanity, almost a pathology. Some people on the Internet have become so bitter, so hostile, that they are in fact, damaging the causes that they believe in.

Take, for example, the Wraithknight. Now, I'm not talking about the look of the model or price (one is aesthetic opinion, the other is a valid economic concern). What I am talking about is people condemning it as a "non-viable" option of the army. That the rules suck and it isn't useful ( or even the See The BOLS Article). Wait... what?! The rules AREN'T EVEN OUT YET. How can anyone debate the combat usefulness of it when the rules are not out yet? That is absolutely crazy. I'm used to people talking about the Meta and all after the rules are out, but BEFORE? Others are screaming that the Eldar are broken- again, what?? The book isn't out- how can anyone know that it is "broken"?! The whole thing just reeks of anger and bitterness. How can you condemn without knowing the details? It is beyond me.
This sucks... how do I know? I don't even have the 'Dex yet, but I know.

We don't know much of anything about it yet...
Then, there's the XBOX ONE issue. Last week Microsoft had a showing of it, and many people are
already calling the system a "failure". Wait- a failure? Based on what? A brief intro to the system? They showed practically nothing- it was just meant to whet people's appetites before E3 and all that jazz. How can anyone say it is an "epic fail" before anyone has even seen it up close? Before they have shown much of anything?

I could go on. People condemning Man of Steel, Wolverine, The World's End, sight unseen. Now, one could say "the trailers look bad" or "I am not a fan of Snyder's movies"- those are valid. But to be so hostile and negative with no provocation is just crazy.

What's next? Will the trolls say tomorrow that 7th EDITION breaks the game? Or that the NEXT Chaos codex is overpowered?

The solution to this is simple:

People need to chill the f**k out.

It has become simply monotonous. The constant blaring of anger and pettiness is just overwhelming. People who profess to love X Y or Z spend their time ripping it apart. And then there are the haters, trolling everywhere just to ruin people's day. I am not a fan of Warhammer Fantasy, but I do watch their releases and I found the recent Warriors of Chaos and Elves additions to be rather bland or uninspiring. However, I did not go onto BoLS and say so and attack people that did like them. Why would I do that. Lots of people love Fast and the Furious- I have never gotten into that series, but I wouldn't complain or criticize it just to be negative. That simply makes no sense.

Are we just nitpicking everything we enjoy to death?
And it hurts. It hurts the fans. It makes them look petty and mean. Why would anyone listen to the just concerns and constructive criticism of fans when so much of it sounds like angry trolling? I will be the first to admit that GW has problems, but I also want them to fix it so they succeed. I love 40K- I want to fix it, not tear it down. I don't want my army to always be "the best"- I want a challenge, a fair fight. I don't want to WAAC or break a Codex or make a meta net list. Can't we just have fun?

I just know that 9th Edition Chaos Marines will be broken! Callin' it right now.
So, that ends the rant. I just want to have positive exchanges between fans and enthusiasts. We can agree to disagree, and still be friendly about it. Let's stop being so judgmental, and certainly not judge things before we can actually get a close look at the finished product. That's just my 2 cents.

Until next time...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Hey there Chaos fanatics and cultists! Welcome back to another edition of Chaos Corner. As promised, I have a review of Star Trek Into Darkness. So, is STID a success for the rebooted franchise, or does it simply show that Star Trek '09 was a one trick pony, and is already out of steam? Let's look into that, shall we?

Full confession first- I have always loved Star Trek. I grew up watching re-runs of TOS, and of course I watched TNG almost religiously (though I began to fade out from it by season 6). I never got into DS9 or any of the other spin offs. To me, they lacked the cool, fun, action-packed, and often zany aspects of TOS, and also lacked the elegance and intelligence of TNG. So, my Trek love lies with TOS and TNG. I know that each show has its good qualities and defenders, and I recognize their valid points (I know MANY feel DS9 is superior), but I just love TOS and TNG. To me those are what I think of when I think of Trek.

Oops. Wrong franchise.
However, as much as I enjoy Trek, there are some who take it a bit too far in my opinion. Now, I am not at all trying to rain on any one's parade- you believe what you believe and that's cool. I am just giving my humble perspective for your consideration. I just believe that there are some people who take Trek and its lore a bit too seriously. They have a vision of what Trek is and must be, and anything that violates that is "blasphemy", to be condemned. Many have accused the rebooted Trek to be a crime against Roddenberry's vision, a scheme to make money. However, I feel that they forget a few things:

1- Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, who was a TV writer/producer. He made Trek originally to entertain. Yes, he had thought provoking ideas, and even some morally challenging ones, but overall, he was a TV guy- he wanted his show to sell. He wanted it to make money. After all, he pitched it as "Wagon Train to the Stars" to NBC in order for them to pick it up so he would get money. There is NOTHING wrong with that- that does not diminish the moral lessons of many of the episodes nor does it weaken the overall vision of the future. However, at its core, Trek was a TV show designed to get ratings and make money. Just like any other show.

2- Trek is not the creation of just one person- it is in fact the culmination of many, many creative people. Indeed, some of the best episodes weren't written by Roddenberry at all: Coon, Fontana, Bixby, Ellison, and many more are responsible for the best ones. It was also the product of the actors (Nimoy had a concrete vision of Spock and demanded that he be listened to about the character), outside forces (Martin Luther King urging that Nichelle Nichols stay on as Uhura), NBC studio execs, die-hard fans, and of course all the other creative people that poured blood, sweat, and tears into each episode. Thus, while it is Roddenberry's overall "big vision", the fact is that many people added, subtracted, filled in, and otherwise enhanced that vision and made it something that audiences could relate to. Thus, you cannot say simply that something holds true to Roddenberry, as it isn't just him. Trek is the culmination of many, many different views and ideas.

3- Since Trek is the creation of so many voices, there is no true consistency here at all. TOS episodes varied wildly like this: some mentioned money, some said there was no such thing. Some said that they used "hours" and "minutes", while others had Kirk saying that they could "convert" to it. There's the connotation that religion is superstition and passe, but in one episode they mention a Christmas Party. I could go on. TOS is inconsistent, because of the new ground it was breaking and the fact that so many were involved. Later, TNG would become more consistent in its mythology, but even then- seasons 1 & 2 have things that don't gel with later episodes. Again, this is fine- it just shows that this isn't a single vision, but is instead one open to interpretation.

Everyone in the 23rd century is just so enlightened... sure they are.

4- Humanity is a work in progress. Many fans cling to this idea that humanity is so very evolved in terms of their morality, behavior, and understanding and tolerance for others by the future period of Trek. Some feel that Roddenberry has shown us a future in which humanity is almost saintly. Nonsense! That would truly defeat the real message behind Trek- which is that humanity is a work in progress, and that we are on a path to improvement. We are NOT there yet (not now, not in the 23rd or even 24th century), but we are getting there. Some have fought with me on this, stating that humanity has generally evolved and are more enlightened. From our prospective yes, but they really aren't that much different from us. How do else do you explain all those blinkered admirals/commodores they come across? Or the Mudds? Or angry/jealous crew members? Or General Order 24? Or miners that want to smash the Horta to bits? Indeed, most of the time the antagonists are other humans! Even Kirk/Picard don't always live up to the high ideals- they get there, but it does take them time. Thus, the future isn't a utopia (it's way better, but there are still problems). Showing when it isn't perfect, showing the messy as well as the pristine is just fine, in fact, it makes the times when the heroes succeed in upholding truth and compassion all the more compelling.

I know that was a long one, but I needed to get that out. Many condemned Star Trek 2009 for being a violation of Roddenberry's vision, and that the minds behind it were either totally inept or simply greedily trying to exploit Trek. To that, I say look at 1-4 above. Did they really "ruin" Trek? No- it is just another interpretation, another voice. While it is far from a perfect Trek movie, it does get a lot right- the generally optimistic view of things, the camaraderie, the aspiration to improve and be a better person. Yes, there are plot holes, some stupid attempts at humor, and things that don't quite gel with almost 50 years of previous Trek cannon. Basically, to get around that, you need to see the reboot not as an "alternate timeline" that is an offshoot, but rather as a mirror, mirror type instead, thus you can account for those differences. Overall, I thought they breathed new life into Trek, and I enjoyed it immensely.

OK- but what about this one? What about Star Trek Into Darkness? Well, if you liked Trek '09, you'll enjoy this too, give or take. If you think my above 1-4 ideas are simply wrong, then this will not change your mind at all. STID takes place shortly after Trek 09. Kirk is a young, cocky and inexperienced captain. He's a troublemaker with his own strong views, which unfortunately gets him in trouble with Starfleet command (and 2 great scenes between Kirk and Pike) when he violates the Prime Directive (something Kirk routinely did in TOS, by the way). However, any controversy surrounding Kirk's actions gets forgotten when a "terrorist", John Harrison, attacks Starfleet twice in as many days. Kirk is ordered to go after the renegade, but of course, something just doesn't add up. Kirk must not only capture Harrison, but must also untangle a mystery that threatens not just his crew, but the entire meaning of Starfleet itself.

I wish to avoid major spoilers, so I'm going to run down a simple Good/Bad listing. At some point in the future, I'll do a more in-depth review (I need to see it again, actually). So:

+ The cast of this reboot Trek is truly miraculous. Each actor tries to recapture the spirit of their characters, while also making them their own. Chris Pine really comes into his own here as Kirk. He is like the original Kirk in so many ways, and yet his a bit more flawed. Pine does a great job of transformation in here- he's a bit out of his depth, but he struggles to do what is right. He is a rule breaker, and he and the crew realize that some rules must be broken in order to attain a greater truth. Quinto is again sublime as Spock- he is still incredibly cold here (like a first season Spock) and doesn't understand Kirk's emotionalism at all, and while he's kissing Uhura, he doesn't actually "get it"(love) either. Spock also undergoes a great character arc, and by the end he is now in his place, by Kirk's side, trusting Kirk and being his friend. Though those two are the stars, the rest of the cast are also great, with Karl Urban and Simon Pegg nearly stealing the show- both embody their characters so well, adding some humor and some real great character moments for both. Basically, the entire crew is just great- a fantastic reinterpretation of the classic characters. I would also like to say that Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller and Bennedict Cumberbatch (whom I have never seen in anything before) are also very good, though Cumberbatch suffers from being underwritten (more on that below), and he is under somebody else's rather big shadow, which he can't just get out from under (not his fault). Basically, whatever the faults of the story, this cast is amazing, and I know I want to see more from them.

+ STID is an allegory, in the best tradition of Trek. Now, not all of Trek's episodes were allegories, but quite a few were. This movie is indeed an allegory for recent events- Harrison's actions are those of a terrorist, but that's not where the allegory is. Certain members of Starfleet (and perhaps some in the Federation itself?) were deeply shaken by the events of Trek '09. The destruction of Vulcan was a seismic event, changing everything for Starfleet. What if there's another threat like this? How can we stop the Narada or something even worse the next time? Well, some in Starfleet believe that they must be prepared to respond, doing anything and everything it takes to be ready- including doing morally questionable things. Some believe that Starfleet's primary purpose of being explorers is now outdated and far too weak for this dangerous galaxy, and that it should, instead, be refocused on military aspects and stopping threats before they happen. Sound familiar, doesn't it? Now, your politics really shouldn't matter here- this movie could be a critique of Bush (premptive war) OR Obama (drone strikes) in equal measure. The point is that this isn't a simple action or sci-fi movie- it has a question about our tactics in the War on Terror, kind of like Iron Man 3, but quite better, actually.  This isn't a cackling comic book villain here, instead, Starfleet's actions could well be a logical response to events, but it also sets the stage for "unintended consequences". Kirk isn't just fighting for the lives of his crew, he is fighting to save Starfleet from itself and this new, distorted mission; and the ending to this ideological conflict is just perfect. I don't want to say any more, but there is a real allegory here, and it is appreciated, and worthy of the Trek tradition.

+ The action and special effects are simply amazing. The planet of Nibiru made me smile, as I just kept thinking of those basic TOS and TNG sets- seeing Nibiru got me thinking how grand Trek really is- every new planet was different, and a sight to behold. Earth has never been so fully realized- there is a thriving, multicultural civilization here, not just Starfleet personnel. Kronos is briefly seen, and the Klingons are nicely designed here. Finally, the Enterprise herself is great, and a few key battle scenes are just amazing (my favorite is the Enterprise being chased at warp speed by a "superior" vessel, as it is realized incredibly well). The fisticuffs and more personal action bits are also well handled, particularly Harrison's attack on Starfleet HQ and the fight inside that "superior vessel"- they are exciting and clear to follow. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Enterprise falling in orbit, burning up as it falls- it looks amazing.

- This movie, even more than its predecessor incredibly, leans a bit too much on older Trek episodes and movies. Now, I don't mind that they are using the past to inform them, but the creative minds here stole lots and lots from previous movies in particular. I mean there were action bits and scenes that really didn't simply echo the older stuff, but they basically just copied and pasted at times. Trek '09 did some of that, but it felt like a fresh, new whole. Here, some of these beats feel like just that, copies of older bits fused together. This is a shame, as the cast, special effects, and overall allegorical plot are so good, that this "theft" is no longer required- you may have needed it to connect Trek '09 to the rest of Trek and give comfort to confused/nostalgic movie goers, but now, they have established themselves- I don't think they need to copy wholesale from older Trek- they can go in their own direction, and I truly hope they do in the next one.

- The plot at times is a bit too convoluted for its own good at times. It becomes tough at first to follow who is f***ing who over and why at first, and even after its all revealed it just feels a bit too messy. I wish they could have streamlined it just a bit more, as the convolution only weakens the plot, action, and allegorical themes. Yes, Abrams and co. were desperate to hide certain elements, but they actually confuse the movie in the end, rather than adding to the movie.

- The technological inconsistency here is astounding. Yes, the Enterprise's abilities varied within the run of episodes, but it shouldn't vary within the movie, from scene to scene! That is just outrageous. Why can't they beam again? They can use personal communicators over how far a distance? How fast can they get to Kronos? Huh? Yes, there are many moments where it is very, very inconsistent. Now, I DO NOT want technobabble, but ship abilities are added and dropped for plot convenience a bit too much, and it is jarring.

- At a future point, I want to discuss the films villains in detail, but I can't because I don't want to give spoilers away. The villains are great, and you can see where they are coming from and why they do what they do. However, it is Harrison that suffers here- I don't want to spoil anything, but while the actor gives a great performance, he is hampered by two things. First, he is under the shadow of a previous actor, one that is very difficult to get out of. Though Cummberbatch is great at being both menacing and sympathetic, it is almost impossible to live up to what came before in the role. He could have, if he hadn't been UNDERWRITTEN. That is the second, and much greater flaw. They have made his character a bit of a pawn, and this guy is nobody's pawn, ever. That is what makes him a badass. The writers should have done one of two things with him:

a) make him the REAL villain, as if he planned these events all along, and now they have come to fruition and if he succeeds he will conquer the galaxy. There's no grand speech here, no real view into just what kind of threat he poses. They depend too much on what you know of the character from previously. But, as a result, he comes off as too one dimensional in THIS movie; he needs to be built up in this timeline, not simply as a wink wink from the old. That is what you really need for this character; he IS larger than life, and should be made that way within the context of THIS movie. Instead, he's a bit of a pawn, who tries to break out of being such, but he never quite succeeds.


b) mess with audiences expectations and make him a real good guy. With this character, you COULD pull that off. It is an alternate universe. Situations are totally different. One could have tweaked it that way, thus the audience would be thinking one thing, and then they'd be hit with the notion that in this reality nothing is the same, and thus unpredictable. Thus, you could give the old time fans a real knocking- using their knowledge of Trek cannon against them.

OK- so how do I rate the movie. That is tough. Looking at it from the view of just Trek '09, I would give it 3 Marks of Chaos. It is fun, enjoyable, with great performances and has a nice allegory. However, its flaws are notable, and the fact is that these flaws could have been avoided with a bit more care just makes it worse in that regard. In the long view of Trek, that is hard to say, as it borrows a bit too much from the cannon at times, but is also a lot of fun and is solid sci-fi allegory (most of the older movies didn't quite do that to this level). So, for now, let's just say 3 Marks of Chaos and call it a day. However, I do want to see more from this cast. They are excellent, and have great chemistry and the acting chops. Perhaps we need another voice, new writers and director, a creative vision that won't lean quite so much on the past. I think that is a Trek worth looking forward to.

Until next time...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review 2 For 1 Deal: Angel Exterminatus and Ahriman: Exile

Ahoy there Chaos fanatics! I'm back with a 2 for 1 special book review- I'll keep them brief- just enough to give you the gist so you can think about whether they would be worth your time to read. Like it says in the title, I'll be looking at Ahriman: Exile by John French and Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeil. So, away we go...

I think I may have read a short story by French and that's about it, so I really wasn't sure what I was expecting here. I have enjoyed some of the recent Thousand Sons stories (A Thousand Sons and Battle of the Fang were great). In a way, Ahriman: Exile is a continuation of those stories, so it really adds up to a nice, cohesive whole. Naturally, Ahriman is the focus of the story, and French does a great job with the character- he is both sympathetic and very arrogant all at the same time. When the story begins, we meet a broken Ahriman- he is no longer with the Thousand Sons, he is a servant of a lesser Chaos Space Marine, and he refuses to use his powers. Comparing Ahriman from A Thousand Sons with his portrayal here, it is great to see him so broken and despondent.

However, Ahriman must re-embrace his powers and his will to live when mysterious forces come looking for him. Survivors of the Thousand Sons have come looking for Ahriman for nefarious purposes. In the course of the chase, Ahriman teams up with several desperate characters (a former Space Marine named Astraeos and a Chaos sorcerer Maroth are both really interesting characters) in order to evade his enemies and figure out what they are truly planning.

It is a fun, and interesting story, which sees a re-awakening of Ahriman. He is always sympathetic, but you also realize that he is only walking down the path that Tzeentch wants him to walk, and that, perhaps, Ahriman has ALWAYS been a doomed individual, no matter what he does- is that fate perhaps? Or simply his own arrogance? By the end, Ahriman is on the path of the renegade that we recognize from the 41st millenium.

My only problem with the story is the resolution. The Thousand Sons that are after Ahriman are led by Amon (I'm not spoiling anything there). Amon has his own plans for the Thousand Sons, and it is, quite frankly, really compelling and so much the opposite of all Ahriman's hopes for his legion- Amon's plans are very interesting, I won't say more as I don't want to give it away, suffice to say that there are now three people- Amon, Ahriman, and Magnus who are each trying to direct the destiny of the legion. However, my main problem is that Ahriman defeats Amon far too quickly. I had imagined a much longer conflict, considering that this story is obviously going to be continued- and there are many plot threads hanging by the end (deliberately). Also, sometimes the story drags a bit too much at times. Once you get through those sections, the book picks up and is a lot of fun, but it slows too many times, in my opinion. 

As it is, I'll give the book 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. I am looking forward to part 2 a great deal, as I think this bigger story is going to be very interesting and a lot of fun.

Now, I love Graham McNeil. His Horus Heresy books are amongst the best, particularly Fulgrim and A Thousand Sons. I was very excited to see that he was doing a book about The Iron Warriors (with great ties to Storm of Iron, I must add right off the bat). Plus, they would be teaming up with the Emperor's Children too... how could you go wrong? This would be the second of what I call "The Odd Couple" trilogy (Betrayer, Angel Exterminatus, and the upcoming Forgotten Empire), and who wouldn't want to see the dour Peturabo going up against the outrageously flamboyant Fulgrim?

Unfortunately, the 2 legions just don't gel, and neither does the story. Yes, McNeil does a great job in portraying both legions and their respective Primarchs. McNeil really loves Peturabo, no doubt, but he sometimes becomes a caricature of Peturabo- he is a bit too one-dimensional. The problem is I had read Betrayer earlier- and the portrayal of Angron is so textured and complex, despite the fact that you would think Angron is one note, he simply isn't. Peturabo is motivated to join the rebellion because... the Emperor won't let him build... poor baby. That really can't be the whole thing, can it? Really? Further, I really like Forrix and I really was amused by Kroeger, but they don't get fully developed as characters either.

And that is because McNeil is also putting the spotlight on the Emperor's Children. I loved how Fulgrim ended- but after a short story and now this, Fulgrim is back in control of his body and actions- I feel that this totally negates the great story of the previous Fulgrim. I thought that was just not that cool. Yes, I think McNeil does a great job of showing the complete decadence of the legion- and he writes Lucius so well that I want to paint the model. But again, because the 2 legions have to share the spotlight, it detracts from both too much.

In Betrayer, Aaron Dembski Bowden seemed to be able to balance both the Word Eaters and the Word Bearers so very well while also tying the story to the greater Calth Shadow Crusade- with Lorgar's secret agenda coming into focus by the end of the story. Angel Exterminatus tries to do the same thing (right down to Fulgrim's end goal, it seems), that Angel Exterminatus seems to be a weaker version of Betrayer. This story simply didn't hold my interest or excite me that much. Like I said, I love McNeil's work, but this just didn't do it for me.

Thus, I would give it 2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.

So there you have it folks. Right now I am just beginning to read the anthology Mark of Calth. I'll let you know how it is when I'm done. I'll also have a review of Star Trek Into Darkness by the end of the weekend. Until next time...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Even More Battle Scenarios!

Hey there Chaos lunatics! I'm back with another round of Warhammer 40K Battle Scenarios. As I've stated earlier, I love the main mission sin the 40K rulebook. However, they can become stale if you play them over and over again. In response to this, I have been busy crafting several new scenarios. I posted a few a short time ago (Interested In Some New Battle Scenarios). I have come up finalized a few new ones, which I am now posting. I don't take any credit for these, as they have been inspired by missions and scenarios in previous editions, White Dwarf articles, and more. What I have done is add some spices and ideas of my own, plus putting in considerations from 6th edition, and voila! Nw Battle Scenarios. Let's take a look:

The Reinforcements Have Arrived!

Overview: The battle rages on over several sectors. Your units have come upon an untouched, quiet portion of the battlefield. They immediately begin to recon the area. They discover an enemy detachment of similar size to their own approaching. They call for aid, but cannot wait long, lest the enemy capture the area.

Set Up: Use a random deployment from the 40K rulebook. Deployment is done using the special rules for this mission, as described below.

Primary Objective: Place 1+D3  “mysterious” objectives randomly on the battlefield. Each objective is worth 1 VP.

Secondary Objectives: First Blood, Linebreaker

Special Rules:

Recon: To represent that this is an area untouched by any forces currently, forces are slow to deploy to this position without proper intel. Your forces are the earliest recon teams to the territory. To represent this, both players can only deploy 1 Troop choice and 1 Heavy Support choice at the start of the game.

Where Are those Damn Reinforcements?! : Set all other units into reserve. At the start of your second turn, roll for each reserve to enter. Instead of rolling as normal, roll a D6 for each unit and consult the chart below:

Turn 2
Elites and HQ
Fast Attack
*If the unit doesn’t get in by turn 5, they do not enter.

Get Into This Fight: When these units come from Reserve, they come in from the player’s table edge (unless they can deep strike/outflank).

Game Length: The game lasts 6 turns. 

Hellish Bombardment

Overview: Both forces have been in a horrible stalemate for months, with neither side managing a breakthrough. In an attempt to end the war of attrition, command has ordered a harsh bombardment of the field in order to destroy the enemy utterly. That some of their own men are there is of no consequence- this may be the only way to remove the enemy.

Set Up: Choose randomly from the deployment options in the Main Rulebook.

Primary Objective:
Survival: The forces already on the ground want to win the battle, but also want to avoid the bombardment and survive. Add up how many units each side has. Each is worth one victory point- record this amount at the start of the game. You lose one VP each time a unit is lost. At the end of the battle, add up how many VPs you have left. Whichever player has proportionally more VPs left wins.

Secondary Objectives: Linebreaker, Slay The Warlord, First Blood

Special Rules:

Hellish Bombardment: Battleships orbiting above the planet begin to fire down on the planet. At the END of each shooting phase, the ships fire on the planet. Find the center of each table quarter and roll scatter with 3D6 inches. The final location is hit with the following shot

Orbital Weapon                        St 8                        AP 2                        Large Blast

Shell Shock: To reflect the anarchy of the battlefield and constant threat of the bombardment, no unit is allowed to fire overwatch.  

“I’m Not Going Out There!” All forces are trying to find cover from the bombardment, and they are understandably unwilling or unable to break cover. If a unit starts in cover, it must pass a leadership test in order to take any action that turn. The unit only has to roll once per turn (If you pass for movement, you need not roll again to shoot or charge, for example).

Game Length: Random Turn Length

Special Forces Operation
(Pick this mission before making army lists)

Overview: A vital objective has been uncovered in this theater of operations, and command wants to secure it at all costs. However, given the nature of this objective, secrecy and speed is essential to success. To that end, command has assigned its elite units to the field, and they have been ordered to obtain the objective.

Set Up:


X Objective in the center


Primary Objective: The top-secret objective is the primary consideration. It is worth 3 victory points. Whichever army possesses it at the end of the game is the winner.

Secondary Objectives:  None

Special Rules:

Special Forces: In this battle, the Elites represent the main attack force. To represent this, only Elites and HQ may possess and move with the objective. Further, only 1 troop choice is allowed to be chosen, and they are not a scoring unit. The Force Organization Chart otherwise still applies (2 HQ, 3 Elites, 3 Fast Attack, 3 Heavy Support)

Top Secret Objective: The object in the center operates with the same rules as found in the Main Rulebook mission The Relic. However, only Elites and HQs can capture it and move with it. All the other rules still apply.

Game Length: The game lasts six turns

The Doomsday Machine

Overview: An ancient Xenos weapon of unimaginable power has been located in this sector. If found, the doomsday machine could very well change the outcome of the entire war. Your orders are to find the device and use it on your enemies, who are also closing in to find the weapon.

Set Up:
X Doomsday Machine in the center X

Primary Objective: Whichever side is in possession of the doomsday machine gains 3 Victory Points. See doomsday machine rules below.

Secondary Objectives: First Blood, Linebreaker, Slay The Warlord

Special Rules:

Doomsday Machine: The archaic device is capable of vaporizing enemies in an instant. In order to fire the doomsday machine, your unit must be in base contact with the device and NOT in combat (therefore an enemy may be close to it, but you may still fire it). The doomsday machine fires 1 shot (without a ballistic skill test) and scatters 2D6 with the following profile:

Doomsday Blast                        St 9                        AP2                        Apoc Blast
(Yes, the Blast can hit your own forces, so be careful)

“We have only one shot at this” :  In the final, desperate turn, if you don’t have possession of the weapon, you may choose to fire 1 (yes only 1) weapon at the doomsday machine itself. The doomsday machine counts as having armor value of 14. After rolling successfully to hit and to penetrate, you must roll 1 D6 (no matter what the weapon, and without any re-rolls or modifiers), on the roll of a +6 the doomsday machine is destroyed, and thus it is denied to the enemy, and no victory points for it are awarded.

Game Length: The game ends at turn 6

So, there you have it. Once again, I hope that you enjoy this missions. Whether you use them or they simply inspire you in your own gaming, that would be great! That's what this hobby is all about.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Iron Man 3 Review

Hey there Chaos lunatics! Old Man Chaos went out to the movies last night with Mrs. Chaos and we saw Iron Man 3, naturally. So- is this a promising start to a new series of Marvel movies, or is the movie going to be another near disaster a la Iron Man 2? Let's find out, shall we?

Well, I am pleased to say that IM3 is miles ahead of its immediate predecessor, thank the Chaos gods! IM2 was a weak, confused, and altogether bland movie. Thankfully, IM3 corrects that, being a solid movie that is full of action, humor, some plot twists, and a rather dramatic theme (which I will get to in my spoiler section). There are some problems with it, and they are not simply nitpicks- and these problems prevent IM3 from reaching the heights of the other Marvel movies.

The plot seems straight forward enough- Tony has been traumatized by the events of The Avengers- he nearly died, he realized that the universe is a much bigger and more dangerous place than he ever conceived, etc. While he is suffering from his anxiety (which is causing him personal problems with Pepper), he is faced with problems from two fronts: the first (and seemingly lesser) threat is from Aldrich Killian, a scientist/businessman who may be giving Tony some competition in both business and love; the second threat is that of The Mandarin, the leader of the terrorist organization The Ten Rings, who has stepped up his terrorist threats against the US, even putting Tony Stark in his sights.

What follows is a movie that has a lot of humor, a bit of mystery, and a strong amount of action, some of it cartoony, some of it a bit gritty, as it turns out (The Air Force One scene is fantastic). Tony is stripped bare here, and he must realize what it really means to be a hero, without the money and tech that he relies upon so much. For a good chunk of the movie, he must rely on his brain, his wits, and his stubborn determination. The help he gets from Pepper and Rhodes and even Jarvis is limited, and he really is on his own for a while. The stakes are high, not just for Tony but for America and even the world as a whole. We don't need Chitari- humans are bad enough- I appreciate the scale of the threat, and it is an appropriate challenge to Tony at this stage of his superhero career. The best part of the movie is an underlying, subversive message about terrorism. Agree with it or not, it is a fairly strong idea for a comic book movie- while it doesn't quite reach Nolan's Batman in that department, it is nice to see some bigger themes here. This is clearly not your average, run of the mill comic book sequel. I'll take on these themes in the spoilers after the main review.

The problem is the movie is a bit too twisty-turny for its own good. A few too many reversals, a few too many "What the fu- is he thinking?" moments, a bit too convoluted. The movie is smart, no doubt, but like Tony, may be too scatter-shot for its own good. It has some real serious themes (again, in the spoilers), but the movie is so stuffed with things that doesn't quite deliver on those themes (at least in my opinion). They get lost in the shuffle. Further, some of the action bits are really odd/implausible. See, IM 1, 2, and The Avengers set up some rules for Tony and his suits- this one seems to disregard them all- as these suits seem to defy all logic and physics. Tony can seem to go in and out of them at will- in the air, on the fly (literally in mid air)- all at mind bending speed, and with incredible ease. Thus, while your eyes were taking things like that in, you felt that Tony was not in any danger, no matter what. He almost didn't need the suit, he seemed so indestructible in those final action scenes. This hurts the movie, taking away the sense of danger and risk.

The actors are all good, with one exception. Downey again proves that he is the perfect choice for Iron Man- a mixture of bravado and doubt, a genius who doesn't have all the answers, and in this- an inventor who can't simply invent his way out of this mess. He goes through an impressive character arc- his anxiety isn't really about the Chitari in New York, I suspect; its Tony knowing that he isn't the end all be all anymore, that there are things bigger than him, and he many not be worthy of these challenges and rewards. Downey does a great job of realizing that arc, even when the movie itself seems to forget it. Paltrow, Cheadle, Hall, and Faverau do great supporting work, each are up to the task of matching Downey's sarcasm, and they bounce off him effectively. Kingsley is great, but I have to talk more about him in the spoiler section. Unfortunately, the weak link is Guy Pearce. Now he's a fine actor (Memento anyone?), but he's kind of blah here. Perhaps its the nature of the role (again, spoiler section), but he never quite energizes the screen. I didn't feel for the character (neither hate, nor awe, nor pity, or anything else). His character just never came together for me. This is really bad, since so much of the plot is tied to him, thus hurting the movie.

I want to get into a few spoilers, so let me just say that Iron Man 3 is a very enjoyable Marvel movie, one that certainly is better than Iron Man 2. I give it 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos, though I feel it is a notch below Iron Man and Thor. The best part is that they could have played it safe, with a basic plot and basic villain, but instead they went for somewhat riskier territory. I appreciate that very much. I only wish they had streamlined it a bit (taking out some of the twist-turns and asides), and I do wish that Pearce's acting/character had a bit more dramatic weight behind it. If you want some spoilers, check below after the ratings and pic...

OK- so let's get into some spoilers...

This movie has a fairly interesting and big theme. Tony's opening narration lays it out very clearly: "We create our own demons". Before he became Iron Man, Tony was an asshole. A callous, indifferent asshole who only cared about himself. He certainly didn't care for those around him. For all his genius, he failed to grasp the consequences of his actions. In a flashback to the 1990s, Tony is indifferent to the disabled Killian- who learns "desperation" due to Tony's treatment of him. Further, Dr. Hansen is simply used by Tony for sex- her brilliant ideas for the supposedly regenerative Extremis experiments are nothing to Tony, he just wants to bed her. Both Hansen and Killian want a scientific breakthrough, and Tony is the only one who can help them. Instead, he just uses Hansen, and gives a big FU to Killian, and then goes about his drunken way. He doesn't care.

Hansen ends up teaming with Killian, forming the scientific and research business AIM. Naturally, AIM does all kinds of tech and weapon stuff, including Extremis, which still doesn't work right- the subjects that live become heat mutants, while those that die simply explode.

One must fill in the blanks a bit, but based on what was said by several characters, AIM became this huge tech and weapon corporation, with Killian at its head. Of course, at some point, Killian becomes truly unstable (or, perhaps, greedy and ego driven, as Tony had been). Killian and AIM actually create the menace of The Ten Rings terrorist organization- it is meant to drive up demand for regular weapons and bio-weapons like Extremis, while also allowing Killian a way to hide his failures.

But what of The Mandarin? Therin lies the rub. Ben Kingsley is great as this "character". He is odd, speaking in a stilted manner. He is outlandish, but menacing. He is also a figurehead. Just as The Ten Rings was invented by Killian, so was The Mandarin- a "face" to this manufactured threat. The Mandarin is just a face on TV, an actor- when it is revealed, my jaw hit the floor. Kingsley then plays him like a drugged out foppish actor, who seems to not get the consequences of his actions. It was a move I didn't see coming, and I bet it pissed off fans of the comics. But, did they really expect 10 magical rings and a Fu Manchu style of bad guy? An Asian villain that is so stereotypical just wouldn't work, and I give the creators credit in how they made The Mandarin a manufactured threat- his name, his image, his style, all designed to create fear. The Mandarin is Osama Bin Laden if he had been created by focus group surveys and marketing researchers. It is bold, and I loved it. Heck, it only adds to the subversion that the guy isn't even Asian ("The Mandarin") or even Middle Eastern- he's a British actor, and that it kind of says that Americans are so afraid and they can be fooled in such an easy manner. While this take on The Mandarin is ballsy,  it means that Killian is the real bad guy of the film, and frankly he made for a much more bland villain, and this weakness keeps the movie from becoming great. 

As a side note, Harry on Aint It Cool News posited an alternate theory ( He suggests that the actor IS a terrorist. That The Mandarin is real, and that he has been pretending to be a simple pawn. Harry believes that he is the puppet master, and that Killian just thinks he's holding the strings. While Harry makes a compelling argument, I must disagree. Killian seems to be in charge throughout, and there are several statements from him, Hansen, and even the vice-president that confirm this. The bigger problem is, if Harry is right, it would undermine the entire theme of the film- "We create our own demons". The Mandarin would not be a creation of Killian, who was ultimately a creation of Tony's callousness. Thus, Tony would be wrong, he would have learned nothing, and the bigger theme wouldn't work. Part of me would love to be wrong here, as I would enjoy seeing Tony actually fight The Mandarin- a real face off between the Kingsley and Downey would blow my mind. However, doing that would negate this whole movie, since its subversive themes and events would be ruined.

The subversive implications are quite straightforward. The movie could be seen in this light: Tony is the USA- brilliant, dynamic, but often too cocky and arrogant. Tony's past arrogance has caused the creation of this threat, and now he must deal with the consequences. One could argue that American economic and foreign policies ultimately created the threat of terrorism we now face. Our foreign policies pissed off these people, and American big business profits from the chaos and war. I don't know if I agree with that (terrorists may or may not have legitimate gripes with the US, but they ARE responsible for their own actions in any event)- but it is a compelling theme to be in a comic book movie. Certainly the idea that they changed War Machine to the Iron Patriot is NOT just for the heck of it- this move  supports the US/Tony theme. However, the movie doesn't, in my opinion, develop these issues to a full conclusion, and instead relies upon the typical big action scene climax. 

However, what if Tony were able to really grasp his notion that we created our own demons? Look at the chronology: Tony is a dick, and thus makes Killian into a monster (forget that Killian bares his own responsibility for his subsequent actions for the moment). Killian creates AIM and The Ten Rings. Obidiah Stane will come to work with The Ten Rings (selling weapons to both sides, unknowingly copying AIM), and then hires that organization to kill Tony. Of course, this kidnapping makes Tony into Iron Man- he realizes the errors of his past, and tries to redeem himself by becoming a hero. He takes out the terrorists in Golmira, stops developing weapons, and defeats Stane. He then goes on to defeat an alien invasion of Earth, saving the world. Finally, he must confront his demons, and does final battle against The Ten Rings/Mandarin (really just Killian/AIM), and defeats them. That is quite a circle of events here, but it doesn't get fully realized in the movie. Does that mean when we create our own demons, can we overcome them? Do we inadvertently get strengthened by the demons we create? Again, compelling themes, but they don't get the attention that they deserve.

I don't know if I'll see IM3 in the theaters again, as I must save my hard earned cash to see other movies and pay for my 40K addiction, but I will certainly see it again when its out on Blu-Ray. Knowing the twists and the bigger ideas, I want to see the movie in that light.

Until next time.