Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Gothic War (Book Review)

When it comes to Black Library, there are a few key novels which are signified as being massive game changers for the franchise and fan favourites. Ian Watson’s Space Marine, Dan Abnett’s First and Only, and Graham McNeill’s Storm of Iron are the traditional ones, but the Gothic War duology is sadly forgotten these days. While likely down to a lack of reprints until recently, the sad truth is that it’s one of the best novels of its kind and covers a subject so often skipped by many authors: Naval life and battle. True, many books do feature this to a fair degree, but so few are exclusively set on warships, and both Execution Hour and Shadow Point are perfect examples of how to truly nail this.

Set during Abaddon’s Twelfth Black Crusade, the series follows the crew of the Lord Solar Macharius as they are deployed to help turn the tide in a slowly losing battle against the traitor fleets. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned on countless occasions, the vessel and her captain, Leoten Semper, keep winning battles time and time again. However, as the ever traitorous Eldar offer an alliance against Chaos and the Planet Killer continues on its ponderous course towards heavily inhabited worlds, can even the most staunch of Imperial commanders hope to turn the tide?


  1. I don't know too much about the Twelfth Black Crusade (aside from the broad plot points) and I also didn't know this existed so this looks like something I'll have to pick up at some point.

    I wonder if the Thirteenth Black Crusade will ever get a novelization, I mentioned a long while ago that they wrote a story in White Dwarf (specifically the Battlefleet Gothic ones) based on the games people played, so all they need to do is expand upon it, and it's not like they can't do this in the novels because they already have series that take place roughly one hundred years after the crusade has started.

    As a slight aside, if you're interested in reviewing the new Necron codex I can almost guarantee you won't get any argument from me as far as the rules go, it was given the same treatment Matt Ward gave the Grey Knights, pretty much everything I said I really liked about them tactically has been removed, a lot of units have had incredibly generous price cuts (for example Lychguard were not only made much better but also 75 points cheaper, going from 200 to 125, and they weren't the only ones), and the new Reanimation Protocols and Resurrection Orbs are absolutely absurd. Now most of the army is just a brute force kind of army without anything subtle, clever (barring Deathmarks), and can be kneecapped very easily because they now have no reliable defence against things like Fliers (although with the new RP's and RO's I'm fairly sure you can outright ignore the fliers). At least Lore Wise it's mostly fine, the art works well with the new book, and it was ALMOST very well organized.

    1. Well, honestly I personally think that the Thirteenth Black Crusade will be something authors will edged around or work off of rather than directly go into it. Ben Counter and a few others have used it as a plot device, a looming background conflict to help show how weakened and resource starved the Imperium is, but we have only seen a few minor skirmishes. What little we have seen has been a nightmarish bloody meat grinder even for the space marines though. As such, I think we'll hear a few more individual tales and facts than an outright novel, save possibly for one of the Black Legion series being written.

      If you are interested in the Twelfth Black Crusade though, i'd actually suggest looking on Warhammer Wiki. Pretty much the entire outline of the conflict from the Gothic books has been put down in the full article, outlining exactly how things panned out in quite a bit of detail. While it doesn't mention the Lord Solar Macharius in there, it gives a good idea of how knife-edge the war really was, and why many thought it might have actually been Abaddon's final defeat given his losses.

      As for the Necron codex, sadly i'm not surprised. I've been going back to look through a few recent ones, and that sort of thing is sadly a massive trend in a lot of their lists, especially in the Imperial Knights. It's likely a gambit to help force people to buy the new army because it can simply overpower anything in front of it, but at the same time its weaknesses encourage others to buy those shiny new fliers they've been pushing into the game.
      I've not seen anything personally about the book's text, but I will agree that the art i've witnessed looks pretty damn good, especially the bits involving the Eldar.

    2. Thanks for the information, I'll definitely check that out.

      I've noticed that about the new codex's too, the new ones don't seem too interested on different playstyles or complex tactics (being able to deep strike in the enemy movement phase but not being able to do anything else until your turn is still one of my favourite ideas), most of the new stuff is just focussed around units that can only be used in one way.

      If you're lucky the book will have maybe two good lists you can use, otherwise it's relying on units that are completely overpowered, for example (once again) the new Lychguard, which can get (for 75 points less than before) a 3+ invulnerable save, followed by what is essentially a 4+ Feel No Pain save that becomes 5+ against Instant Death (the new Resurrection Protocols) and if you have a Resurrection Orb in there you can re-roll your RP result. I don't even know how anybody will remove a large block of those guys, other changes are things like Destroyers getting 2 wounds with no points increase (and RP is now taken every time you take any wound, making them another near impossible unit to remove).

      It sucks because I like a fair smart game more than anything else, but that seems to be going out the window.