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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Movie Review: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Hey there Chaos fans and fanatics! We here at the Eye of Terror hope that you all had a great holiday and that you got plenty of Chaos-goodies in your stockings or under your tree or whatever. I know I sure did- my wonderful (and understanding) wife got me the Sector Imperialis battleboard! Wow! This thing is huge and very nicely detailed. I'm so excited that I have already started to paint them! My wife is the best (or an enabler, depends on how one views the plastic crack habit that is 40K). In addition to that, I have been working on several projects, some of which I will show on this site later this week.

At any rate, my wife and I saw Hobbit 3 just over a week ago, so I decided I'd do a small-ish review. So, without further ado:

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

As my long time readers may remember, I love the original Lord of the Rings movies. Each of those films are both personal and epic, filled with action, emotion, and character. These three movies elevated "fantasy" films to an art form. The LoTR trilogy is without peer. I suppose, one day, I should review them on this site--- if only I had the time!

As my long time readers will also remember, I have been less than satisfied with The Hobbit films. I thought that Unexpected Journey was just awful (see review HERE). Total lack of characterization, tension, respect, filled with stupid CGI battle scenes- yikes. Though it had some good points, UJ was a letdown in nearly every respect. I have very rarely emerged from a movie so completely disappointed. A year later, Desolation of Smaug hit theaters (see my review HERE). While still not as good as LoTR, it was light years ahead of UJ- it felt much closer to the feel of LoTR, and Smaug himself was a fantastic creation, a worthy addition to the entire Middle Earth Saga. The movie had a bigger theme, had some good character beats, and felt like a more fulfilling experience. I left the theater excited for the 3rd part. Would Five Armies manage to keep up the momentum built up by

Well, the answer is sadly mixed. Five Armies starts out promisingly enough- Smaug takes his frustration out on Laketown, with only Bard standing in his way. It is a fantastic scene, and Bard come across as both brave and desperate to stop the murderous dragon. The confrontation makes for a thrilling start to the film, but the movie never builds on it, unfortunately. Nothing that follows is quite as exciting or well done as the incineration of Laketown, which hurts the remaining two hours of film time. The remaining film is entertaining, but never rises to such heights as DoS or the rest of LoTR.

While the movie moves much faster than UJ, it has similar problems. Bilbo is pretty much a side character, which seems to defeat the entire purpose of the series. Martin Freedman does the best he can, but the focus is placed on others, and thus Peter Jackson himself seems to forget it was the 4 Hobbits which made LoTR, not the action scenes or special effects. Gandalf is similarly relegated to the sidelines, though his rescue from the Necromancer is thrilling (the only part that comes close to the battle with Smaug)- its great to see the White Council in action, and Jackson is smart enough to barely hint at Saruman's eventual fall rather than telegraphing it (sadly, Jackson poorly telegraphs everything else that will lead to LoTR).

The weakness is again the Dwarves. None have been developed well at all. Balin (my favorite from the other two, acting as the conscience of Thorin) barely gets any time. Killi is still in love with Tauriel (absurdly, in my opinion, and the resolution to that tries to be dramatic but just feels unearned). The other Dwarves are still just bodies. They add nothing to the proceedings. Ironically, a new Dwarf King, Dain, introduced in the midst of the "Battle", has more verve and character than the Dwarves we have been with since the start, and that must tell you something.

The only Dwarf developed at all is Thorin, and here is where the film truly goes awry. DoS built up the theme of greed as a corrupting influence. Now that Thorin has reclaimed his kingdom, what will he do next? The answer is that he suddenly becomes a greedy, selfish, and paranoid nutjob. And why? No, its not a moral failing- its only "Dragon-Sickness". Ugh. So suddenly Thorin isn't responsible for his own actions, and he just as suddenly recovers from his "Dragon-Sickness" just in time to save the day. Cartoonish and convenient, exactly the opposite of his development in UJ and DoS. Thus, when his heroic moment and sacrifice comes, it again feels odd and unearned. I think it would have been better to tone down his "Dragon-sickness" and instead build up his fears of losing his Kingdom again- walking a fine line between legitimate concern and selfishness.

Legolas and Tauriel do fine here, and Legolas' arc seems to be what I thought earlier- he awakens to the needs of all Middle Earth, not just his kingdom and his father. Thranduil fares worse though. His selfishness hits new heights (which is fine), but toward the end he suddenly reverses himself and becomes nice, even sending Legolas on a mission to find Aragorn (talk about telegraphing- not only did I groan, but it makes no plot or character sense to have Thranduil change so suddenly and without good enough reason).

Bard and the people of Laketown get the shaft as well. After defeating the dragon, Bard becomes the leader of Laketown's survivors. Luke Evans does well: he's a family man put in a tough situation. Where can his people go? How will they survive? Don't the Dwarves owe all the people some help? Bard becomes a reluctant warrior, willing to fight to keep his people safe. He is a welcome addition to the story, even if there are shades of Aragorn in his character. Sadly, once the "Battle" is finished, the movie suddenly forgets Bard and his people- what happens to them now? Do the Dwarves, Elves, and Men make an accord? Who knows? Once the "Battle" ends, Jackson decides to run back to the Shire as quickly as possible, seemingly afraid of having too many endings...

Which brings me to the end. Once Azog is killed the battle comes to a sudden end (almost inexplicably abrupt, the more I think of it). The movie swiftly concludes with Gandalf and Bilbo going back to the Shire. Their relationship, which was so warm in LoTR, is virtually non-existent here. Again, Jackson telegraphs the influence of the ring too much, and Gandalf seems VERY suspicious. Huh? Then why the hell does he wait DECADES to do something about it? The worst of it is, though, the film ends with LoTR Bilbo (Ian Holm) greeting Gandalf just before the birthday party in Fellowship. But because Gandalf and Bilbo had little to no relationship develop in the Hobbit trilogy, this ending just feels hollow and reminds you that LoTR are such better films.

Despite my many complaints, there are certainly things to recommend the film. The movie moves quickly, with very little drag, which makes it better than UJ immediately. The actors do their best, even the sidelined Martin Freedman (seriously, it is not his fault). The action pieces are fairly well done. While there is a ton of CGI, you expect it in the larger battles, and it works, with the action not being cartoonish (as it was in UJ)- plus the "Battle" has some stakes, which helps. Watching a Dwarf army go to war is interesting and unexpected in its execution- and I loved it when Daine's dwarves formed a phalanx against the charging Orcs! The single combat between Thorin and Azog is good (though it reminded me of Batman Begins. Seriously- watch and you'll see the resemblance, trust me).

Overall, "Battle" was a fun time at the theater, but as part of the Middle Earth saga, I expect more than that. Way more. So, since I liked it more than Unexpected Journey but less than Desolation of Smaug, I'll give it 2 1/2 Marks of Chaos out of 4.

So, The Hobbit trilogy is now closed, and it was a decidedly mixed bag, at best. It's too bad, because I love LoTR so much that I'd love to spend more time in Middle Earth. Unfortunately, The Hobbit trilogy ultimately forgot so much of what made LoTR so good: the big and the small, the grandiose and the subtle, the personal and the historic- those in combinations made LoTR shine, and the Hobbit lacked so much of it.

Ah well. I think I'll fire up the LoTR blu rays to make me feel better. Now THERE'S a saga well told...

"I wish none of this had happened".

"So do all who see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we can decide is what to do with the time that is given to us". 

Until next time!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random Stuff

Hey there Chaos worshipers of all shapes and sizes! Old Man Chaos has just returned from the Eye of Terror (in actuality I finished moving, unpacking, and setting up my new place- whew!). I have a few things I thought I'd update you guys on, if you are interested:

Dark Eldar

I had my first two games with Dark Eldar about a week ago against Iron Hands with Grey Knights allies. My friend Pete can smile now (see that game HERE)- my Dark Eldar got their asses handed to them- not once but twice. In the first game I held a lot in reserve, which enabled my opponent to table me by the start of turn 2. Yikes. We then played a rematch where I held less in reserve- and I was pretty much undone by the end of turn 2 again, so I gave up.

It was just brutal. My rolling wasn't even that bad- but my opponent had plenty of tanks and guns- my Dark Eldar just couldn't catch a break at all. I was absolutely despondent at the end of the games. I barely put up a fight at all. I don't mind losing- I get upset when it wasn't even a contest, like why did I even bother putting my minis down? I no sooner put them down and I had to scoop them all up. My opponent was gracious both times to be sure. Still- I was shamed, to say the least.

So what happens now? No, I will not put the DE back on the shelf for another edition. I will find a way to make the army work. I just think in this edition of overwatch and Imperial Knights that the new DE book as it is now just isn't enough (they took Haywire Grenades from Wyches- WTF?). The supplement (Covens) is hardly much better (though a couple of the formations are interesting). I am at a loss on what to do here. And you know I love my Dark Eldar army...

Campaign for Trovana Prime Update

 I played another battle against my friend Brian in our campaign last week. As you may be aware, I have been running a few articles about the Judgement of Trovana Prime (look HERE and THERE for the most recent posts). I have been enjoying the campaign, but I haven't won a game yet, which is odd for me. Not that the games haven't been competitive (some have been blowouts, most have been really close). The best "victory" I got was that I destroyed his Imperial Knight (meaning he can't use it again for the rest of the campaign).

So this week we played a Maelstrom of War mission (Cloak and Shadows). This mission has the deployment at the short edges- a long way to trek to get to the other side. I played very well, plenty of killing on both sides. However, the tactical objective cards just wouldn't come to me- I kept getting cards for objectives that were on my opponents side; while he kept getting cards for objectives that were ON his side. As a result, the final score was 10 to 1... BUT in terms of kills and objectives held it was much much closer.

Brian remarked that while he loves the card missions for variety, he also feels that it may be too random- he acknowledged that the game was much, much closer than the lopsided victory points would suggest. Nevertheless, he repelled my advance into his territory, and the campaign goes on.

I did learn a few things though-

1) Plague Marines should use plasma- I had always equipped them with Meltas, but I have since discovered that it is tough to get them close enough for Meltas to make the difference. Plasma Guns have the better range and are still S 7 AP 2, which still gives you a chance to explode a vehicle.

2) Obliterators- I have always been reluctant about using them- they are a bit pricey compared to havocs, but their versatility is key. They got in some great shots until Brian's Centurions grav gunned 'em down like bitches (did I mention how much I hate these guys?).

3) Daemon Princes- they are a bit funky, especially with grounding tests, and they can't charge ground units if they were in the air the previous turn, which is annoying. However, I used the Prince to harass the ground troops with Smite, and he did charge and destroy a Storm Talon. Not too shabby.

4) Plague Drones- they are great, bringing some speed to Nurgle. However, they don't work well against Terminators, let's put it that way. Next time I'll try to have them go after regular marines or vehicles instead.

Well, that's all I have for now. I am slowly but surely painting stuff, which I'll be sure to post when it is all finished. Until next time...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Campaigning in 40K Part 4- The Progress So Far

Hey there Chaos followers one and all! Old Man Chaos is back from a trip to the seventh circle of the Eye of Terror, so to speak. I recently moved, which was a "slight" ordeal. It has been a couple of weeks since I put paintbrush to model (nor have I been able to post), which is disappointing; but life goes on! I should be back to painting in no time at all, once I get my new digs set up.

Using the old charge plastic counters to show attacks on the map
So, for this article I'm going to summarize my Trovana Prime campaign as it went these past few months. If you have been following my series, you know that I have longed to do a big campaign. I have only ever done one (which was a lot of fun but collapsed under its own weight- the rules were a bit too much). After years of fiddling and streamlining, I came up with a new campaign ruleset- the Judgement of Trovana Prime.

My zombie list wrecked havoc- but the Imperials still won!
So, we began the campaign in earnest this summer- I kept it small- it was my brother, my friend (and newly converted 40K fanatic) Brian and myself. I set up the campaign narrative as such that all three factions- Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Chaos could reasonably all fight each other. I was excited- it would be time to see if my new rules panned out as well as I hoped.

Brian learned to fear Defilers and Soul Grinders
Thankfully, I can report that the campaign rules have functioned much better than our last iteration. The map phase is cleaner, the environmental tables work well, and the "Plot Threads" have added some spice to the proceedings so far (more on that in a second).  The game has been fast paced with lots of battles happening.

However, it was not without hiccups. After a few battles, my brother said he was done with the campaign- he just didn't want to commit the time needed for such a lengthy game. That was quite frustrating- but I wrote it into the plot, saying law and order has almost broken down, and while some guard are active, the Adeptus Astartes are in charge now. It made narrative sense, thankfully.

The campaign has been a ride, that is for sure. Ironically, I have only won a few games, while newcomer Brian has used his Ultramarines/Grey Knights to wipe the floor with my Chaos forces. I am in no way sore about it- I just can't believe that after all this time of wanting a campaign I am performing so poorly! I suppose that war has its fortunes, good and bad. It has certainly pushed me to experiment with other lists/ideas...
If I'm using Noise Marines the situation MUST be desperate
Yet, all is not lost. At our most recent game, Brian decided to bring forth his Imperial Knight for the second time. If you recall from my "Plot Threads" posting, the Imperial Knight, Baneblade, and Lord of Skulls all count as Lords of War for their faction. If they are destroyed, they cannot be used for the rest of the campaign. Brian had previously used the Imperial Knight in one of our earlier games; the Knight was brutal; the Knight was simply vicious.I barely scratched him.

Veritas of House Dilabor marches against the forces of Chaos
So, Brian boasted that he was bringing the Knight in for our most recent battle. I decided, rather than go for victory, I would instead go for his Knight. I created a list of Traitor Guardsmen, using the Astra Millitarum book. Thus I had a ton of lascannons, tanks, and more. I took tons of shots at him in the first turn doing significant damage in the process (his ion shields blocked some, sadly). However, he was still alive and kicking.

This tank crew was assigned the task of destroying the Imperial Knight
 In his first turn, he retaliated, blowing up scores of guardsmen and stomping two tanks as if they were paper- I really thought my gambit was going to fail. But, at the start of the second turn, my remaining Traitor Guard lascannon teams whittled away the remaining  hull points, and the Knight was destroyed (and what a roll!). This is exactly the result I wanted- now he cannot use the damnable thing any more, giving me an opening in future games to use the Lord of Skulls with a bit more safety.

The Lascannon crew that destroyed Veritas
The game did go as expected afterwards- once I killed the Knight the Space Marines and Grey Knights sought revenge, and it was ugly. They just cut through my remaining guardsmen like a scythe, and there was little I could do to stop them. The Imperial Knight had done so much damage in a single turn that I could not regroup enough. I conceded the game, but Brian knew victory had cost him dearly. The loss of Veritas of House Dilabor could alter the entire campaign. I have never been so happy about losing a game!

The die roll that spelled the doom of Veritas, Knight of House Dilabor
We have not been able to play the campaign for the past few weeks due to my moving. Now that I am (kind of) settled, I intend to strike back ever harder at my worthy opponent. I will let you know the progress of the campaign, as well as the modelling I will be able to accomplish once I set up my new hobby area- did I hear someone say Voidraven Bomber? Lol

Until next time...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Campagining in 40K Part 3- Some Rules

Hey there friends and fellow fanatics. Old Man Chaos is back with another update. I'm working on a bunch of stuff currently (some Chaos, some Dark Eldar). I did pick up the book and I'm itching to give them a spin. The codex took some cool things away, but added others, so I really want to see how they do- hence I dusted off some DE stuff I haven't touched and I'm back at it. I will have to get the new models- they all look fabulous. If you give the Archon a more dynamic pose he'd be perfect (and you can, as he can be converted with ease). I'll show you new stuff as I get it done.

Back in the day, whenever my DE tried to run, they would roll 1s or 2s, thus earning them the "Lazy" insult.
 Meanwhile, I'm back with another part in my ongoing series regarding the new 40K Campaign I developed- The Judgement of Trovana Prime. Last time, I showed the storyline for the campaign, which allows for several factions (Chaos, Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Traitor Guard, Grey Knights). Now, I know that lots of people love tournaments and/or one off games (I predominantly play one offs). However, the idea of doing an actual campaign is what I really want to do. A full storyline, filled with action, heroes and villains, with a whole world or system at stake. And the 40K universe is SO big, that you could just make up a system and breathe life into it. I wish I could do more campaigns, but it is tough to get people together regularly to do it. However, this didn't stop me from developing a campaign of my own.

For this "edition" of Chaos Corner, I want to show off a special rule that I developed for this campaign: Plot Threads. Now, an ongoing campaign has a lot of ups and downs, reversals and utter defeats. However, battle after battle might become a little stale. So, I added an element that each battle COULD mean more than just planting a flag on a map. So, here it is, presented for your approval, straight from the campaign pack I made:

“Plot Threads”

To ensure that each battle of the campaign has weight and “means” something, the following “plot threads” are in place to raise the stakes of the game for your faction as well as contribute to the overall narrative.

Lords of War

The Lords of War are the greatest engines of destruction, literally looked upon as gods of the battlefield. Such is their terrible might and awe inspiring power, that whole campaigns are waged with the Lords of War being the hammer and anvil of a warlord’s strategy.

However, Lords of War are an uncommon sight- they are difficult to manufacture and therefore rare. To reflect this, each faction has access to only 1 Lord of War. This Lord of War may be used ONCE in any battle PER TURN without any forewarning (see 7th edition army organization). However, if the Lord of War is destroyed, it CANNOT be used in any future battle for the remainder of the campaign. Thus, while a powerful weapon, a Lord of War must be used wisely.

Imperial Guard- 1 Baneblade

Chaos- 1 Lord of Skulls                                    

Space Marines- 1 Imperial Knight

Scorched Earth

War never changes. Lives, cities, civilizations, planets, and even whole solar systems have been utterly destroyed by war. This may be done out of simple blood lust, the desire to “set an example” to enemies, or as a sacrifice to thirsting gods.

However, in a war, there are more practical reasons for setting something to the torch. Resources, factories, and more can be destroyed in the “scorched earth” approach to war. If you have been defeated and you are losing a tile that has a building on it, you can attempt to destroy it. Roll a D6 after the battle. On the roll of a 1, the building is destroyed. On a 2+, it is now in the hands of the enemy. If the building is destroyed, it is removed from the tile and cannot be used again. If it is the tile itself (like the spaceport), simply note it on your faction sheet. Hive Cities cannot be destroyed in this way.

Special Characters

These are the heroes and villains of the 41st millennium; warriors of such strength, cunning, and renown, that simply their presence on the battlefield inspires courage from their allies and total terror in their foes. However, despite their prowess, these heroes are not immortal, and they can only be in one place at any time.

Like Lords of War, each faction can only use the following special characters ONCE in any battle PER TURN. If the character is reduced to 0 wounds. Roll a D6. On a 1-5, the character is “dead” and may not be used for the remainder of the campaign (he died, has withdrawn, suffered great injuries). On a 6, the character retreats from the field, ready to fight another day (he still counts as destroyed for victory points purposes, etc.), thus he can be used again in subsequent turns.

For this campaign, the characters are as follows:


Marneus Calgar


Inquisitor Corwin (counts as Kasimov)

Imperial Guard:

Lord Governor Porter Vasser (counts as Lord Creed)

Inquisitor Wynter (counts as Inquisitor Coteaz)

General Xan (counts as Commander Pask)


Kharn The Betrayer

Lord Pandemicus (counts as Typhus)

Colonel Strommer, Traitor Guard (counts as Col Straken)

 Well, I hope that you liked this sample of my campaign rules, and that it inspires you to make your own campaign. I have been playing the campaign for weeks off and on, though not quite in the way I intended. In the next edition, I'll inform you as to the progress of the campaign,  which has been interesting, and a little ironic.

Until next time...

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...