SKAVEN Battletome!

 

Yes yes it is here now! The might of the Great Horned One shall spread throughout all the Realms, all shall bow grovel to the might of the Skaven!

Review of the Battletome

My first impression of the tome was “oh gods this paper is heavy” and yes the pages are thick with ink! Brilliant colour on every single page, from decorative edges to full page and double page artwork spreads as well as army photos. GW’s photography studio has excelled themselves yet again in making photos that are as dynamic and epic as the sweeping artwork GW still fills their books with (although sometimes it highlights that GW really needs a few more models of things here and there when you can spot the same 3 stormfiends every time they appear).

The lore and story is well setout and, like many current Battletomes, they focus on a quick telling of the history of Skaven from the early days in the Age of Myth through the Age of Chaos and into the current times of the Age of Sigmar. The Myth age setting lore is, as for many, quite light on detail; representing the various histories and pasts lost to the Skaven over the vast generations. The short details leave a lot of room for further writing and fleshing out and for fleshing out ones own backstory and clan to fit into the realms. There’s also tantalizing hooks placed here and there – the mysterious fate of Clan Shrykt who built a new gnawhole and collapsed it in on itself behind them, their destination unknown; or that Clan Tichritt (a fallen Clan now) once held Chronomatic weapons of great power. Just two of the potential hooks that might one day be developed and evolved upon.
There are also many neat stories telling of creative plagues; unique machines and even skyfleets of stolen airships. Ideas that might spark the imagination of eager converters within the hobby; or which might one day appear here and there as future weapons and models released by GW official (though I’m sure the dark minds of their master crafters have got even more nefarious ideas to sculpt up for us). Plus fans of the mighty and cunning Thanquol will be pleased to know he features with his own short story!

From the general background things get more specific, focusing on a page for each of the Great Clans (Skyre, Eshin, Moulder, Verminous, Pestilens and Master) which set the scene. Though Skyre and Pestilens are the clear poster-child factions of the current age (likely bolstered by Pestilens own Battletome to begin with and by Skyre having quite a few newer kits and variety in the current range). Others are certainly not left without, but I’d wager we’ll see more of clans like Moulder as and when GW can update some of the older sculpts such as Rat Ogres*.

From clans to units the next big segment goes into some lore and history on the various units and weapons of the Skaven; giving some flavour to the various units and weapons of the army that gamers can directly buy and field on the tabletop.

Following is glorious page after page of photos of models from the GW painters and army displays, joined by several good and quick painting tips for various specific Skaven elements such as teeth, fur and warpstone.

Finally there’s the rules for the army; rules that you build either a clan focused army around one of the great clans, or a motley united force of Skaven pulled together by a powerful leader. Whatever your choice you can find it here and the single Battletome shines for being able to combine sub-armies whilst also letting them viably compete with each other for their own unique flavour. I will not go into any detail in the balance or numbers, there’s going to be endless reviews and arguments and battles that will appear over the coming months that will hammer out the winners and losers from the balance pass. Suffice it to say Skaven will never be a full beginners army; with many abilities that can outright kill themselves as much as their foes Skaven will need a careful hand to guide them to victory. I will say that its fantastic to see that they’ve retained almost their entire line from the Old World days; though also they’ve lost a few parts here and there. One I’m honestly glad to see gone are Skaven Slaves, for whilst they fit the lore really well (and they are very much still part of it); they were always both overpriced (as they never went full plastic) and so highly numerous whilst being the epitome of a chaff unit. The kind you’d spend hours making only to remove most of them each game pretty fast. Even in the old days most just fielded Clanrats so to have slaves gone and Clanrats the lowest of the biped rats is a good thing in my view.

 

If we consider this the first tome then Skaven are off to a good start with a great foundation to build upon. I fully expect that in the coming years we’ll see more stories like Skaven Pestilens which add to the lore and history of the faction. We’ll certainly see Thanquol weaving his mad plots and schemes and see the rise and fall of many a Skaven plan. Whilst some of the detailed depth has been lost from the Old World, Skaven have honestly retained almost all of their original character, they are still maniacal, scheming, cowardly, crazed rats. They still stab each other in the back as much as they stab their opponents and other races; they still strike from the shadows and, if the Hammerheld Herald is to believed, they still don’t officially exist!

 

Carrion Empire 

If you’re checking out Skaven right now then you surely can’t miss that Carrion Empire also launches this weekend. A duel battle kit featuring mad rats and madder cannibals with a new leader for both armies as well as a steep discount on the models within. A great selection for starting off your Clan Skyre or for bolstering your other clans with Skyres powerful war engines such as the famous Doomwheel!

If you don’t want to get the box I strongly recommend scouring your local store or ebay for the book that comes with the box. The Carrion Empire booklet isn’t huge, but gives a fantastic setting (and several themed battleplans for use against Flesh Eater Courts) and adds to the overall lore of the Skaven in the Mortal Realms.

 

* It should be noted that a selection of models including ogres, engineers, packmaster, warpfire throwers and globethrowers were updated with the Island of Blood boxed set in the last age of the Old World. However whilst those kits are still found on ebay (hunt around you can still find unbuilt ones); they’ve not made it into the current age (although teasingly the globethrowers do appear in the codex in a few photos).

Black Library Novella Series 1

A book review of the new NOVELLA series by Black Library.

Recently Black Library published the first ten books of a new run of novellas which span their range of worlds. From the dark and polluted ruins of the Underhive of Necromunda, to the vast magical peaks of the 8 Realms of the Age of Sigmar, these books take you on a wild series of adventures. They are a nice length for an evening read each and whilst they don’t have the length of a full novel, they still have room to develop characters and give you far more flavour of the worlds they take part in.

The Bloodied Rose by Danie Ware – Sisters of Battle (40K)
Steel Daemon by Ian St Martin – Imperial Guard (40K)
Auric Gods by Nick Kyme – Custodes (Space Marines – 40K)
Spear of Ultramar by David Annandale – Horus Heresy (prequel to Siege of Terra series)
Dreadwing by David Guymer – Horus Heresy (prequel to Siege of Terra series)
Wanted: Dead by Mike Brooks – House Escher (Necromunda)
Warqueen by Darius Hinks – Dark Oath (Age of Sigmar)
The Red Hours by Evan Dicken – Sigmarites (Age of Sigmar)
The Bone Desert by Robbie MacNiven – Gotrek Gurnisson (Age of Sigmar)
Heart of Winter by Nick Horth – Scourge Privateers (Age of Sigmar)

As you can see there’s a fair smattering of stories from the fantasy and the futuristic. Some are clearly tied to major recent publications and soon to be publications, such as Horus Heresy and Gotrek; whilst others are more free form stories set within their respective worlds. As they are shorter books I will provide a short summary review for those I’ve read below.

WARQUEEN by Darius Hinks. This is a powerful story that presents a fresh angle on worshippers of the Chaos gods and focuses on the lesser known Dark Oath factions. Brave and mighty barbarian tribes that worship the Chaos Gods. If any reading have ever read any of the Conan stories/comics or seen the various films (esp the classic with Arnald) then the Dark Oath feel lifted right out of the Hyborean age. Whilst with more trust to magic than your average Cimmerian, they are still akin to that classic warlike wild image. These are not crazed nor mindless characters and they retain a stronger sense of their humanity and emotions.

Within this story is war, betrayal and discovery. Follow a mighty warqueen as she seeks to unite her people under a single banner, to forge them into a single army that can carry them beyond the plains they have warred over for generations in the Age of Chaos. To bring them into the Age of Sigmar and make them a threat for all the world to fear. I would say of all those I’ve read thus far this is my favourite of the series.

 

HEART OF WINTER by Nick Horth. This story is cold. Not just from the frigid lands in which it takes place, where biting winds, ice slick surfaces and frostbite are around every corner; but with the characters that fill the story with their taste for blood, slavery, betrayal and revenge. Aelf pirates without equal, who are the literal scourge of the high seas. Those who have a passing understanding of the Old World (or who have been playing Warhammer Total War 2) will recognise some mighty icons from the past appear again within the Realms as a mighty Black Ark features prominently in this tale.
Of interest this story also ties strongly into the development of the Realms and the Age of Sigmar and is perhaps one of the stories that is the most “recent” in the time line. Whilst it does not focus upon those golden warriors from Sigmar, it does show how their society and the new Order is going. Giving us an idea of the rebirth, the rebuilding and the political shifts that are taking place within the Realms. It’s a view of the world generations beyond the end of the Age of Chaos; where only aged Aelves might remember the Cursed blight that was upon the land. This adds greatly to the story and makes it a fascinating read beyond the development of the background of another faction. Those who are fans of the Daughters of Khaine would also find this story of interest, for its not just scourge Aelves who inhabit the bloody pirate strongholds. Places of slavery, death, blood and fighting attract those piests and worshippers of the bloody God of Murder.

WANTED: DEAD by Mike Brooks. Necromunda lends itself well to the short story market and this tale does not disappoint in the least. We see the classic Necromunda battle between Houses Escher and Goliath, but things are not always so simple as the might appear on the surface in this dark, dank world of the Underhive. There’s also a tale of love woven into this and of loyalties which are fine additions to the lore of Necromunda, where betrayal and selfish interests can often appear to rule much of the action. It adds to the rich tapestry of the world and shows that the Underhive, for all its lack of education and structure, is possibly one of the most varied settings in the 41st millennium.
We also get a sense of how individual each gang within a Great House is, how they are almost alone as they carve out their own little corner of the Underhive and defend it to the last against any competition.

 

THE BLOODIED ROSE  by Danie Ware. Welcome to the world of the Sisters of Battle, women monks of a powerful militant order who are bound to serve the one true Emperor of Mankind and protect humanity from the threats of the heretic, the mutant, the xeno and the corrupt. The story here touches at the very foundation of the war of mankind vs the darkness of the universe and follies of the long forgotten past of mankind when they originally spread through the stars in ages past.

The religious element is woven into this story well and builds a fantastic mental picture of the churches and religious order of the Sisters. Of how they worship in battle, of how prayer and unity with their sisters armours them against the darkness of the universe and how those dark forces might see to corrupt and tempt them.

The story starts off building a fantastic sense of mystery, touched with the edge of horror. Carrying the reader forward eagerly with page after page as one seeks to uncover the truth of an abandoned settlement and the dark forces that have led to its twisted, macabre end.

 

If you are interested in reading these stories and others in the series, then they are up for sale now. At £3 each for print or digital, or if you get them direct from the Black Library website there’s a £3 discount if you get the whole series of 10 in one go (digital or print). The price is well worth it and this series makes the fantastic in-fill whilst you’re waiting for that next reprint of Inferno Classic or the upcoming New Inferno issue 2

Print Collection

Digital Collection

Inferno – the Classic Era

A review of the reprints of INFERNO by Black Library

Last month Games Workshop started doing print on order of the first run of 5 issues of their classic Inferno series magazine. This was run biomonthly from 1997 to 2004 and features short stories from all the worlds of Games Workshop of the time – Warhammer Classic, Warhammer 40K, Necromunda and others – as well as comics, artwork, cutways, maps and other similar content.

As such they are a fantastic eye into the grim dark worlds that Games Workshop has created, giving you a touch of flavour and adventure as well as a bit more background.

These are high quality reprints made identically to their original versions, even down to the page of advertisements, addresses, prices and even the questionnaire on the last page of the first edition. It’s all here 100% authentic in beautiful black and white (within the pages) as it was when it was first hot off the printers all those years ago.

I was originally on the fence and found it hard to find much info on these and the stories they contain, however as GW was selling them at £5 each and £25 for the set I figured I’d take a leap and give them a try, esp since searching around Ebay showed that the original copies were selling for around those prices anyway. The first series of 5 has now finished its order run (sorry I didn’t get mine till the last days so couldn’t write this any sooner); however they are planning to return to print the entire series from start to finish. Each coming as a set of 5 for a month on print on demand (which is typically pretty fast turn around).

I couldn’t be more pleased with these, high quality printing and some great material and background to really immerse yourself in the lore and settings. The stories are well written and fun adventures. Note that some do appear in later collected editions (eg the Necromunda Story “The Demon Bottle” Also features in Status Deadzone collection), however others are fully stand alone and have not been reprinted by the Black Library. The comics, cutaways and other content have also, again, mostly never been reprinted outside of Inferno.

The stories are well written and have all that punch and wild fun that one would expect from adventure stories set within grim dark settings. From tales of Space Marines against Monstrous first generation Tyranids (the classic Screamer Killer and the old “Alien movie” style hormagaunts); to demonic incursions into the Underhive of Necromunda through to swords and spells as adventurers quest for ancient magical artifacts in dark caves (who also features a barbarian who sounds like he’s right out of the 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger era of films – accent and all). Some of these one off stories stand alone, others are the very early days and adventures of some heroes who later became big names in their own right, such as the mighty Gotrek and Felix!
The authors are wide ranging, some who have come and gone others who have remained with Games Workshop and Black Library for decades – Andy Jones, Jonathan Green, Gav Thorpe and so many more.

The comics vary in their styles of the artist and in what they are conveying, from short one offs to longer running series such as Obvious Tactics. Again another great way to look into the dark world of the 41st Millennium or the deep gothic mystical world of Fantasy.

 

If you were on the fence before I’d encourage you  to take the leap and get into this series if you can, even if you only pick up a few direct from Games Workshop. Quite a few are still lurking around on ebay and other secondhand book stores – so if you’ve missed the start its not too late. Meanwhile anyone who already has a collection with a few gaps this is a perfect situation to pick up those issues that you missed out on.

Skaven Pestilens

A book review of SKAVEN PESTILENS by Josh Reynolds

This is a special book for me as it was not only my first foray into the blighted world of the Skaven, not just my  first look at the proper lore and world of Age of Sigmar, but my  first ever full Black Library book that I read. Having spent many years as a Tyranid fan and a fringe fan of many other armies (ergo not fully invested), I’d never really delved deep into the lore of 40K nor the Old World of Fantasy Warhammer.

So from the get go I should say that I really recommend this title!

Within you discover the filth infested, back stabbing world of the Skaven of two Pestliens Clans as they fight over their conquest of a city that crumbles as their rotting blighted powers and war engines tear it to bits. The very ground beneath this vast city being burrowed into by the skaven as they feast on the flesh of the vast living wyrm that forms the foundations. Yes this is a war on the move and the mental images and descriptions that Josh creates are as epic as Age of Sigmar can aspire to be. Vast cities built atop even greater wyrms that wander a vast open plain, the various cities warring with each other and the twisted blights of Chaos that have crept into the world during the Age of Chaos.

Into this we have the Skaven as they seek something a relic from the Old World that was, but they are not alone. For into this destroyed city march the shining beacons of the Stormcast, come to cleanse the great beast and free the peoples of the city and awaken the great Realm Gate nestled in a temple built atop its head. However even their might is not enough to overcome the thick smoke and plagues of the Skaven, allies have to be found not just from the released captives of the city, but also from other races. From an old and ancient race that comes not just to fight the blight of Skaven and Chaos, but with their own motivations and ideals as well.

This is a book filled with magic and battles and Josh expertly balances the forces involved and the heroes that arise within each army. We see and get a fantastic flavour for the races involved and see the personal aspirations of characters as they seek to achieve their various objectives.

The only real criticism I have after reading is that I wish it were longer. I would have loved to have read the beginning of the war when the city was first under siege and the Skaven arose to fight the peoples of the wyrm; and I would love to read more of the story after the events in the book. I really hope that Josh gets to return to the world of the Skaven as he’s got a good talent for writing about these dark, twisted, slightly (if not totally) mad rats.

As I said at the start this is one book that I’d strongly recommend reading, though as noted just below in the links, I’d also recommend that you grab a copy of the Legends of the Age of Sigmar since you can then also tip into the worlds of two other major races as they awaken and throw off the shackles of Chaos invasion; leaving behind the Age of Chaos and bathing in the blood and light of the Age of Sigmar.

I recommend getting this book as part of the Legends of the Age of Sigmar: Omnibus 1 as for the same price as the book on its own, you get a selection of other great novels focusing on the Fyreslayers and the Sylvaneth.

Also available on Amazon and other good book stores.

Tales from the Underhive

A book review of the TALES FROM THE UNDERHIVE by various.

Books in the series:
Death’s Head by Josh Reynolds
Burned by Darius Hinks
Emp-Rah’s Eye by Guy Haley
Scar Crossed by Nick Kyme
Once a Stimm Queen by Robbie MacNiven
Dirty Dealings by Rachel Harrison

As this is a series of short stories I’ve decided to review them as an overall block instead of one by one. With the range of authors and styles presented there’s a little bit for everyone and each author puts their own twist on the grim gloomy world of the Underhive of Necromunda. The toxic, radioactive industrial wasteland that exists beneath the great industrial machines and megacity of the Hive above. These stories focus on short adventures by gangers as they attempt to survive within this hostile environment. Showing how some prevail and some fail against betrayal, cunning traps, the twists of fate and of love, the lust for greed and to escape and more.

As each one is short they take only around 10-20mins or so (on average) to read and thus present a neat bit of flavour to the Underhive. You don’t need much background to get into them, just a general awareness of the dark gritty world; yet if you know more you can see some of the links to the greater Warhammer 40K world. Each of these stories also follows a different gang, giving you a taste of the difference between the primitive Ratskins, the light and agile Eschers and the heavy, stim heavy Goliaths and others.

I found these enjoyable and a nice quick read and more than worth their price. That they are easy to get into without much background awareness makes them an ideal item for those new to the setting and for long time fans.

Buy now on Black Library as a set of 6 with one free
Also on sale as individual stories and on Amazon Kindle store.

Survival Instinct by Andy Chambers

A book review of the novel SURVIVAL INSTINCT by Andy Chambers.

Welcome to the Underhive! My first foray into the world of muck, steel, slag and sump and I feel like I’ve made a very good choice with this book. The story follows the adventure of Mad Donna, a ganger with ties to House Escher who is trying to go it alone in the Underhive, whilst also trying to lose herself from ties to one of the Great Houses of the Spire – the vaulted top of the Hive City where all is clean, bright, airy and a tiny bit safer. The story focuses on one key adventure in her life and brings the Underhive to life with sight, sound and smell. You get a strong sense not only of how variable and rich with lore the Underhive is, but also how utterly vast it is when on the hunt and yet, at the same time, how small it can feel when your character is being hunted.

Each chapter begins with a short background snippet, which early on focus on records of events and places. General snippets that add flavour and a wider view on the world which helps remind the reader that this is but one story in a vast place. As the story progresses those snippets get more focused on the back story of our lead character, a neat way to fill in the growing desire from the reader to know more of her history that neatly slots answers into place. It’s a powerful story telling method that is very well put to use in this book.

The book runs at a good fast pace and is heavy on action, but not at a cost of losing sight of building a story. There are slow sneaky periods; restful moments of calm and then mad moments of action.

All in all a very enjoyable read and a book that works totally as a stand alone read even if you’ve never read a single bit of Necromunda lore or background before.

Buy now on Black Library
Also for sale on Amazon and second hand in paperback on secondhand book sites.

KR Multicase Review

The KR Accessory case. I purchased the case empty, they also do a version with their own tape measure and a selection of 30 regular dice as well.

Made by KR https://www.krmulticase.com (non affiliate link)

Price: (as of this articles writing 01-08-2018)

Empty case black or silver £10.99
Case and 30 regular dice and tape measure (choice of 3 colours of tape measure) £15.99

Both versions of the case also come with a stick on plastic wallet (not photographed) which can be used to put a name card or similar into and be stuck on one lid section

Content (my own added):
1 Tape measure – its a little chunky and I did have to remove the belt clip so that it would fit. It fights tight and pinches a little, ideally I’d get a slightly thinner one; this is a minor issue.

2) Two GW large dice packs (the Daughters of Khaine)

3) An older GW Dice Tin, which will let you put the lid on it. I like as not will use this for tokens and the tiny dice alone in time)

4) An assortment of regular dice (a few more than one of the old dice cubes)

So I chose to get the black version might regret it a “tiny” bit because I forgot how much black shows up dust, so silver might be better in that regard, but really a fast wipe with a cloth and its good as new. Note the colour only affects the outer case colour not the internal colour.
The case is well made and firm, the four clips on each side snap into place with a firm smooth action and once all four are clipped into place the lid is going nowhere. In fact you can lift up one clip and three alone holds it securely closed. The interior is lined with a black fine felt that gives a nice muted sound when you roll dice onto it.

The depth of the case is clearly based around two regular dice stacked one atop the other. It would have been nice to have have had it a little deeper and thus be able to stack two of the larger GW dice; but at the time of this items manufacture I don’t think GW were even using those larger dice (and in fairness trying to roll lots of those big dice is actually trickier than a handful of the smaller ones in equal number). There is a very slight lip around the inside of the case where the felt is stuck down, so you can’t pack it tight with with double layered dice – though honestly by that point you’re carrying hundreds of dice and thus way more than you’d need in a warhammer game.

The lid gives you a good dice rolling area, even with a big handful of the larger dice they generally all remained in the lid; and overspill is very minor and with smaller dice they all stay in side without issue. Because it takes a part in half you can either use the base to keep your dice and items organised; or take them out and offer it to your opponent so that you’ve both a separate dice rolling platform.

After closing the lid and giving it a strong shake around

The dice tin slides around a bit and the dice, predictably, roll around a lot. As its a hard case there is some noise with this, as one would expect of loose dice. You could muffle that further if you put the dice into a fabric bag prior to putting them in the container. My tape measure didn’t budge as the box was pinching it in place. At no point in this shaking around (where I also gripped it by the base/lid alone and shook that so that there was pressure on the clips) was there any sense of the structure of the container moving; or the clips weakening. All very solid locked together!

Overall – very pleased with this. There are a few niggles, but those are mostly just personal factors or related to using larger than average dice. With its build quality and price this is great value in my view; indeed I’d expect it to last for years and remain fully functional with the most likely long term wear and tear being on the felt slowly going bald with years of use.

A very solid fun product that brings with it a duel purpose of transport and game aid.