Saturday, 30 June 2018

One Last Opportunity to Save the Internet

So, after last time, things have become worse. Article 13 breezed through the initial group of politicians judging it, and it's being raced into service. This is bad for obvious reasons, the least of which is that it would end everything as we know it. If you didn't get the memo- This act would ban the upload of anything which was not wholly owned by you. Parodies would no longer be permitted, images or clips which were used for reasons of criticism would be barred. Livestreaming would be ended for good, fan creations would be shut down before they even start and memes would become a thing of the past.

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Linking articles, using social media, online platforms, even blogs like this would be made impossible by this. I could try to run this purely on personal commentary and fan theories, and the chances are that I could no longer fulfill this. The entire internet would be run by bots, the likes of which have all but ruined Youtube. All of that abuse, all of those problems, all the ineffective, ill advised and damaging measures implemented out of laziness would plague every part of the online space. To be blunt here, if we lose this one, we lose everything.

If you value any part of the internet and wish for it to continue within Europe, then click here. The website there is dedicated to opposing this. It offers you full information on these measures, and does most of the work for you by showing who you should contact to sway their opinion. Your e-mails matter, and even if you cannot type it for yourself (though I highly advise that you do), then there is a pre-written design ready to use. Write to them - but do not spam them - and make your opinion known in a polite but extremely clear manner.

We have until the 4th of July to object to this. We cannot allow outdated and easily abused laws such as this to ruin livelihoods and a new wave of media which has opened so many doors to others.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Breaking Down Star Wars' #WeTheFans

Welcome to shooting yourself in the foot 101. If you ever desired to see a better way to annihilate your own argument, stack the deck against your own side and turning yourself into a laughing stock, look no further!

So, after my last couple of articles, I expected that I would be given the time to look into more of the benefits of the Expanded Universe. In fact, this was intended to be a look into the novel Death Star, and then hopefully the Dark Forces trilogy along with some video game releases. No, instead, I bumped into quite possibly one of the worst Star Wars things to be produced in written form since Aftermath. In all honesty, I am not quite such which I feel dumber for reading. Someone by the name of Azula on Twitter decided to try and take a stand against Disney, and produced an absolute joke of a declaration:

It's clearly intended to emulate a document from the EU setting, specifically, the Why Do We Fight The Empire piece. I imagine it was intended to serve as a kind of call to arms, but instead, it reads as if all those involved are the worst kind of fans, demanding everything from a creator and expecting it to be delivered to them. Worse still, this was apparently done without consulting anyone on any side, from those who actually want the EU back to the fandom in general.

A few of the highlights involved include the creators trying to "push an agenda of masculine inferiority" and the desire to "bring about the destruction of your own (Kathlene Kennedy's) career in relation to anything in filmography". Oh dear. You might recall that I said in a previous article that the "It belongs to me" is a stage along becoming a severely toxic fandom, and this is it displayed in all its glory. It's a petty and quite frankly narrow-minded piece which accounts only for the desires of one group above all others, leaving no room for other opinions, and failing to even consider that some might oppose them. More incredulously, rather than pushing for an equal standing among fans, it places the priority of EU enthusiasts above those of the films, getting even the most basic Give Us Legends message wrong.

To be blunt, much of this comes off as an attempt to rant about decisions they disliked, but in a manner which had to be seemingly taken seriously. It's akin to when you have a maniac try to form a court case against someone, purely so they can list off multiple frustrations and severe irritation with another person. All that ends up happening is that one person sets up a pedestal for themselves, allowing for a public demonstration of shoving their head up their own arse. Yes, that's not too eloquent, but by this point, I personally do not give a damn. This in turn only leads to the very thing they opposed becoming worse, and as was discussed in previous articles, it only ends up blowing up in their face. The opposing side is encouraged to double down on their actions and makes things worse for the other side. As a result, someone does something stupid like this, and the whole thing starts over. If you wish for a good example of this in storytelling, just look at Dragon Age II's Templar-Mage situation.

However, perhaps the single most frustrating point is how this ends up both shooting the author in the foot and also undermining their key points. One of the parts toward the end cites the problem with fans who dislike The Last Jedi or the franchise direction being treated as "overweight white males and members of the alt-right". It's a valid point, and if you have ever wondered why I have an approval process for all comments, let me just say that there is a great deal of ugliness that I continually block. Equally, you could discuss the gender politics at work, or how certain directions have been mishandled because there is a discussion to be had there. Yet, it throws these in by whitewashing them all as a single negative agenda and writing them off as an anti-male decree, which ends up making the writer and their points look ridiculous. As a result, they end up resembling the very thing they are openly trying to distance themselves from, and just make these points look laughable.

Normally I would try to offer points on both sides, no matter which I felt was in the right, but in this case this is just a trainwreck. The writer of this is clearly in the wrong, to the point where it is hard to oppose even the worst of the backlash they receive. Looking at this sort of thing, and combined with the lies, mistakes and contempt of the past, I'm starting to think the best thing would be for each side to wipe the other out, and give someone else a chance to try and rebuild the fanom anew.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Crimson Empire Vol. 3: Empire Lost by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley (Comicbook Review)

Nine times out of ten, the last work in a trilogy is typically going to be the weakest one. There are exceptions, of course, in some planned works or multi-arc series which were designed to span several productions from the get-go. However, when it deals with stories in an episodic basis, the finale tends to be the one left with the most baggage. Creators by the end can feel burned out, the crew behind them lacks the spark of the first parts, and it needs to stand on its own while also neatly finishing up all that came before it. Sometimes a break, or even a delay, can help offset this, but in the case of Crimson Empire, it seemed to seriously hurt the work. While the first issue of this saga was released in 1998, Empire Lost hit shelves in 2011, long after it was thought that the comic would serve as a simple duology. More than a few fans were elated at this news, until it had become clear something had gone a bit wrong with the series.

As not to mince words here, this one is bad. Even separating it from the successes of the first two volumes, the third story is a complete mess of poor narrative choices, abrupt changes and poor art. While you can see some of the stylistic touches of the creative team at work, the many strengths of past books have faded and a multitude of new problems have arisen in their place. As such, it means this tale ends on a down note, and without the engaging ideas and strong characterisation that made it so great a story in the first place.

Yes, this might be giving the game away at the start, but this really is a bad story.


The year is 14 ABY, and the long war between the New Republic and remaining Imperial leaders has slowly swung in the favour of the new power. Despite reinforcements, new weapons and even the benefit of their greatest minds in new wars, the Empire has ultimately lost the conflict. This is what Gilad Pellaeon tells the Imperial Council. As the former right hand of Grand Admiral Thrawn and one of their most decorated veterans, his voice carries great weight within the few systems they still hold under their control. A few are starting to acknowledge this grim reality, but not all.

Still acting under the guise of a bounty hunter, Kir Kanos makes his living collecting the heads of the galaxy's scum. Despite being the last living member of the Emperor's Guard, he shows little interest in the fate of the Empire, or the events playing out as they sue for peace. Yet, others do, and he is soon brought before them. A fanatical group seeking to restore the Empire that Palpatine founded is ready to act, and offers him a position of power among them in return for his support.

The Good

Now, despite that opening, there are a number of good points present in the story. Some are major and minor, but they serve as solid points to where you could see how this could have been a much more effective tale. The first among them is the very setting itself. Kanos' story began with Palpatine's final death, and his rampage against those who betrayed them. This truly was the beginning of the end for the Galactic Empire, and for him to play a role in relation to the Pellaeon–Gavrisom Treaty makes sense. While he would obviously be in the background as always, it makes for a natural end to his story and would allow him the chance to have a hand in a major event before departing for good.

Equally, having Kanos in a dispassionate position was a natural progression for his character. Despite the comments against it in Council of Blood, Kanos' desire to continue had been waning for some time. His major foe was dead, a multitude of those who had betrayed and turned against Palpatine had met their ends, and the Empire he served was might never have existed. It might not even have fully existed. So, to have him start in a semi-directionless state only to be offered a final chance to restore Palpatine's Empire served as a good idea for a narrative drive. After all, Kanos has continually worked alone or with allies of convenience, never with others who openly shared his goal. It was an interesting premise to be sure, and it served as a good basis for character moments.

What's more, the actual group opposing the current regime was a resistance. They were working with outdated Clone Wars era ships, operating from the shadows and making use of whatever they had on hand. Many of these were those who had operated from the shadows under Palpatine or had been skilled enough in espionage to initiate this operation without being observed. As such, it twisted the typical dynamic by making the Imperials effectively the Rebellion, and requiring them to enact many of the same tactics as before. It's hardly a 1-to-1 comparison, of course, as the Imperials prove to be infinitely more ruthless and hierarchical in their actions, but they nevertheless are operating from a position of lesser strength.

The comic also tries to capitalize on the direction Council of Blood took by featuring more politics in places. This is most obvious given the subject matter, but we see far more of both sides than would normally be permitted. This certainly benefits the Empire, as the moments where they are finally coming to terms with their loss are some of the best in the story. This means that the weight behind these actions is much more evident than it would be otherwise. It's not quite the politics and power plays as before, but by showing a B-lister like Pellaeon among them helps to bring home the immensity of the actions at work here. Plus, this isn't the only case where this happens. We also see the final appearance of Vima-Da-Boda in the story with the Jedi Academy. It's a brief moment, but it's enough to show her speaking normally and suggesting her mind had healed. It's enough to give her something of a happy ending after so many decades of trauma.

So, what went wrong?

The Bad

Let's go with the big one first: Crimson Empire was its own entity right from the start. While it wasn't averse to using other characters, these tended to be B-listers or figures who had yet to become wholly prominent within the setting. Suddenly that's dropped here, as we have Luke, Leia and Han playing parts within the story at each turn. While Leia would make some sense given her position within the New Republic, the other two choices are incredibly superfluous, and seem to have been added purely for the sake of adding them. Han barely appears at all and does nothing of note, while Luke's presence here is somewhat justifiable due to his skills, it's still a hell of a stretch. For one thing, it's a role most Jedi could have carried out without too much trouble, and atop of this then you also have the fact that it abruptly closes out one story element. Really, he does that, and then departs from the tale entirely.

The problem of people showing up and then departing again is a major issue within the story, as it keeps happening. Believe it or not, but Boba Fett shows up for all of three pages, and then disappears from the story. Nom Anor suffers from the exact same problem, as despite a quite engaging minor role in the past volume, he shows up in this one, rages at a subordinate, and then buggers off. Really, that's it, the best character of the Yuuzhan Vong and he acts like Skeletor before disappearing for good. This could go on for the entire review given how many characters show up and disappear, but the point is that the narrative is bloated and unwieldy.

More frustratingly still, in order to add in so many new major figures, the comic has lost focus here. Kanos and Mirith Sinn seem like side characters within their own story, and despite the fact they play a major part in the finale, the efforts to flesh them out are horribly rushed. This is most evident when it comes to how Sinn is suddenly serving as a bodyguard to the Solo family (quite the downgrade from her previous role as a ranking commander), and doesn't get involved properly until halfway through the story. Kanos suddenly goes through a massive mood swing himself, and has a monologue where he opposes his entire standing up to this point. It's such a massive turn that, even giving it the benefit of the doubt and accounting for the years which have passed, it just rings hollow. Worse still though, Tav Kennede is a complete no-show while the D'Astas are simply treated as a means to an end.

Yet, what is truly aggravating are the villains here. As with the last installment of this tale, no one present even begins to live up to Carnor Jax's villainy, and each is easily forgettable. The problem is that, rather than going in an entirely new direction, the writers are clearly trying to create parallels between them via the new main figure, Ennix Devian. This is a poor man's Jax if ever there was one, from the scarred features to his actions. While Jax was a gloriously traditional villain who still had some smarts, Devian is someone who treats Peter Anspach's Evil Orderlord List as if they were rules to live by. This is cemented when he ends up killing one of his own men for the pettiest of reasons, and the story tries to build him up by claiming Vader personally trained him as an assassin.

The actual plan upheld by Devian's faction manages to be both needlessly elaborate while also childishly simplistic at once. A major element within this is the simple requirement for things to continually fall into place, as it needs his troops to continually risk being found out while raiding enemy installations. Then, at the end, much of it requires both governments to fall for a massive decoy effort, ignore a huge fleet bombing an Imperial world, and to openly ignore several destroyed ships. There are dumb evil plans, and then there are these guys.

So, finally, we have the art. A major point of praise throughout the past two books was the artwork, which remains a fine example of the time even today. It's atmospheric, detailed and worked well in both scenes of action and drama. In this case though, someone seriously dropped the ball. Everything has taken on an oddly oily appearance, and details seem to be bizarrely exaggerated. It's that quality of being too human, where they push into uncanny valley territory, and they end up looking like a surrealist creation rather than a person. Even without this though, panels suffer from disjointed fight sequences and sudden actions which are difficult to follow, along with some truly poor foreshortening on many individuals. Given Paul Gulacy's work both prior to and following this, it's difficult to pin down just how in the hell things went so wrong.

The Verdict

What else can I say here? There's really little to nothing of value in this one. There's no way to avoid this fact in any way, and it's a damning end to what was otherwise a brilliant series. Unless you're a devoted completionist, I'd recommend picking up trade paperbacks of only the first two volumes and then leaving it there. The story is honestly stronger with this segment left out, as Kanos' eventual fate is still left in question even with this portion intended to wrap things up. It's usually cheaper these days, as well.

Verdict: 2.5 out of 10

Monday, 25 June 2018

Blackshields: The Red Fief by Josh Reynolds (Horus Heresy Audio Drama)

As was hoped, it seems that the Blackshields has become the latest spin-off from the Horus Heresy saga. Even with the decades-spanning series finally winding down, it seems as if authors are looking for more ways to explore and examine this universe at the last minute. Such things have had mixed results in the past - notably, a few of the major alterations to events have opened up more than a few questions - but the minor stories have been more successful. As this has been set up as a very minor part with few to no major figures involved, the Blackshields have a multitude of advantages other series lack, especially when it comes to creative freedom. Well, that and character examinations.

While every author has their distinct thumbprints on their work, Josh Reynolds' stories are always the ones which emphasise character. They're willing to delve into the histories of figures, even retell major events, but his stories often serve as a vehicle for character-defining moments and studies of those involved. This isn't to say that they're badly written, but he's less ready to jump at the chance to introduce a massive battle than the likes of Ben Counter or Graham McNeill. That's mostly what we get here, and it proves to be the story's greatest strength and weakness in one.

The Synopsis

Following the events on Xana, Endryd Haar's depleted forces are searching for a location to rebuild their strength. With their numbers thinned and ammunition running low, the group opts to raid an armory world held by Haar's former legion. A distress beacon has been originating from it for some time and an old comrade of his governs the world. Even as it is besieged by remnants of the Iron Hands legion, Haar attempts to both pillage anything of worth from the world, and convince his former friend to part from his colours.

The Good

As mentioned in the introduction, this is very much a character piece first and foremost. The emphasis is placed on Haar himself above all others, as the additional figures largely serve to forward his own story in one way or another. However, while this certainly repeats the same focus and style as the first story, it doesn't simply rehash the same elements. It slots in neatly as a second part to an ongoing tale, and to further develop Haar's disposition toward his troops and the war. One major appeal within The False War was the hints about Haar's unique history and serving a possible bridge between the Thunder Warriors and Astartes. It worked for a single tale, but emphasising that once again would have been tedious so, outside of a few general mentions, it's less "Is he or isn't he?" and instead "How has his past shaped him?"

The emphasis on using an unmentioned history and uncertain loyalty is core to Haar's depiction here. As he is now both following Malcador's orders and keeping their true nature hidden from his troops, he has more official oversight than he has since the outbreak of the war. Haar is someone who chafes under such control, despite its freedom, and yet it has offered him infinitely more direction than he has benefitted from in years. This allows him to contrast with the work's villain, someone who desires such purpose again but Is willing to go to almost any length to accomplish such a thing. Both are aged warriors, the last of their kind within the Legio XII it seems, but their nature differs in how they have come to define their lives. Each needed a purpose, a direction and reason to continue. Yet, while Haar has devoted his existence to personal revenge against Horus, his counterpart has slid into darkness and insanity, simply in order to follow Angron once more. Also, if you're wondering why i'm not naming the character, that might give the game away. Just a fair warning.

Almost the entire audio drama focuses on such conversation pieces, with the battle outside serving primarily as a backdrop. While the Blackshields conduct their operation and the war plays out in orbit, it is given little attention. This isn't so much of a hindrance as you might imagine, as it offers far more time to examine and contrast the main figures involved. The story places a great emphasis on dialogue and atmosphere, so attempting to insert this around multiple explosions would have hindered the work. As such, the battles are only seen fleetingly through the eyes of others. We are told of how the Blackshields initiate their operations through Haar's HUD, while the battle in orbit is detailed and conveyed through reports. As a result, these serve as more of a ticking clock than an excuse to produce bolter porn.

Interestingly, the story does make a few general efforts to flesh out more of the Blackshields themselves. While initially, it seemed as if this group consisted of Death Guard with a single World Eater at its head, but we now see contingents of Iron Warriors and Raven Guard among them as well. These figures are only briefly seen, but they do offer a few moments of insight into how the group operates and their disposition. The Blackshields are reavers and pirates, and as such there is a lack of discipline among them. They are skilled, and much more willing to remove unworthy leaders despite their positions over failure, but there is an odd sense of comradery despite this. It's akin to what was seen with some of the Night Lords and Space Wolves, and Haar's decisions to place certain figures in command or positions of power is not far from what we would see Ibram Gaunt do in his series. These are minor qualities on the whole, but it's less the Codex Astartes than it is Imperial Guard behaviour, and as such it helps to remind the reader that the astartes of this age were much more human. It's a reminder of just how great a failure that was, and just why such stringent measures were taken in the wake of the Heresy to enforce discipline.

The Bad

Of course, with the narrow emphasis on character comes another problem. You see, the character moments are genuinely great. It's what the audio drama focused on first and foremost, and even using other elements merely as a vehicle in order to get there isn't entirely bad. Yet, with that being said, it shares The False War's problem of lacking any notable figures behind Haar himself. The Garro series had the likes of Varren and Rubio to use in order to have returning figures, but once you get beyond Haar there isn't much of a supporting cast. You have Erud Vahn, but he's pushed into the background of the story, and beyond one brief moment he has little in the way of impact on events. As a single short piece this works well, but as the second installment in what should be an ongoing series, it seems to be turning into a single-character piece. It's a shame as the story has the potential to be much more than that.

Equally, the fact the heist itself quickly fades into the background is a point of frustration. The False War played with infiltration and heist elements rather than outright embracing them, but that assisted with the surprising twist and change in direction of the narrative. With The Red Fief, it's not quite so much the case. We know what they will do, when they will do it and how, and for the most part it goes off without a hitch. Even the typical spanner in the works is largely left out of focus, and as a result the actual events beyond Haar's character arc is unsatisfying. It's not an intentional bait and switch, but it seems at first as if it is going to deliver an honest take on what the first story played with, only to ignore it entirely. As such, it's a definite point of frustration.

Another definite issue within the audio drama is how it, unfortunately, plays a bit too close to territory we have seen before. Now, repeating a theme is never a bad thing in concept. Having a marine suffer from daemonic possession or corruption, a human confronting Chaos for the first time, or the eldar manipulating everyone and anyone. Those all work fine, and there is nothing wrong when there's a new take on an old idea to be had. However, in this case, the surprising twist cuts a little too close to something the series has dealt with a good three times thus far. The actual concept itself is fine and there is some unspoken horror to it, but there's not enough time spent on the element itself to help it stand out. Like so much here it's a tool to excuse character moments, but the fact it's tied so closely into the finale and serves as a surprising twist means that this isn't quite so excusable.

Finally, for all that has happened here, the ending proves to be a bit too clean. This isn't to say it's poorly done, or that the events did not have any impact on Haar, but for the events that played out it seemed to have too narrow a focus. It left a bit too much in question and for a great deal of payoff to be reserved for a future story. It was an ending, of sorts, but it's the kind of ending you would have in a mid-season television series episode or major revelation. It requires a further follow-up to truly work, and doesn't offer so much closure as one could hope. If we get another story this could lead to something great, but on its own you will probably be left wanting more.

The Verdict

The Red Fief is definitely a success and it does build on where The False War followed off. It helps to work with a good protagonist and it contrasts well with the majority of Heresy era stories. Yet, as obvious as its strengths are, it's also easy to pick out its weaknesses and it will definitely disappoint those who are after non-stop action or an emphasis on events over conversation. With that being said, I would personally still recommend it for its engaging ideas, dialogue and atmosphere. Though, you should definitely get The False War first, for obvious reasons.

Verdict: 6.8 out of 10

Friday, 22 June 2018

There Was Going To Be An Audio Drama Review For Today...

But I can't hear it.

I can't even hear myself think right now, because the relentless sound of power tools is so loud that the relentless shriek of motors dominates the building. You can hear this fucking noise from across the street. Combined with the fact that my "office" now consists of a single desk which has been moved into a public space - where a snorting brainless mountain of fat can interrupt my work every minute - finishing anything has proven impossible. Oh, and the lights don't work, so I can't see what i'm supposed to be working on after this finishes. I was actually going to pass on a brief recording of this, until I realised it would likely deafen anyone who listened to the damn thing.

So, to offer the short version - Fuck 2018, fuck this insanity, and please know that standard practices will resume as soon as this absolute joke of a situation is finally resolved.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Codex: Imperial Knights - Relics & Warlord Traits

So, this second-to-final part here will delve into the "bonuses" of the army, all the additional special rules and elements which are used to augment a force in battle. As a fair warning, it's usually in places like this where the reviews tend to be their most critical, and where we judge just how each one will affect games the most. Why? Because these days it tends to be where the ball is really dropped, and some of the raw cheese starts to enter an otherwise balanced book.


Having relics on Knights might seem odd - especially as the vast war engines themselves are often treated as relics - but it offers a bit of added history. While personally I think this could have been used to be a bit more creative in terms of how they were implemented into the army and worked with the main lists, there are certainly worse ways in which this could have been taken. These have also been divided up into several different sections, from universal ones to those specific to either Imperial or Mechanicus aligned groups. Personally, I would have gone with Houses (well, more of them) to further entrench a sense of legacy and identity, but that's just me. So, let's get on with this.


Endless Fury - It's an Avengers Gatling Cannon on steroids, with 36" Heavy 14 S6 AP-2 2 Damage as its stats. What's more is that - in place of what would have been rending a couple of editions ago - now every (unmodified) roll of a 6 now counts as two separate hits. This means you have a far greater degree of firepower on hand, and potentially a much higher output of shots if the dice are with you for once. This makes it a bit more useful for the role of crowd control, but otherwise it's not much of an improvement or serious change over the standard gun. It's a shame really, as the lore behind it has a few interesting concepts which could have been built on for further effect.

Judgement - This is just an upgraded Stormspear, as it hits at AP-3 and allows you to re-roll to hit. Alright, but rather forgettable on the whole.

Ravager - Welcome to the Reaper Chainsword upgrade. Yes, there's going to be a lot of this, as the version here is +8 Strength, AP-3 and Damage 6, along with allowing the Knight to re-roll 1s when trying to hit targets. This is obviously a bonus for anyone looking to go Land Raider hunting, as it bypasses the -1 to hit offered by the Thunderstrike pimp hand, but still offers you Strength 16. It's a good one to have if you're facing down a heavily armoured list or Nidzilla force, as it makes life much easier in bringing them down. Well, assuming you can get within range, of course.

Skyshield - Given how well known the landing platform is, this choice was surprising to say the least. Well, at least it is clear on just what it means. The weapon is a barely souped-up Icarus Autocannon, with a 60" range Strength 7 AP-2 and 2 Damage stat. Again, it's not much of an upgrade over the standard one, and between lower costs and more effective missile launchers, you might want to skip it.

The Paragon Gauntlet - The pimp hand, this is definitely one of the most entertaining here, despite its role as a static upgrade. Besides doubling the Strength of its user, hitting at AP-4 and 8 Damage, you no longer have any penalty to striking targets. This can be quite happily stacked with other effects, to be a seriously punishing weapon with some decent planning.

Sanctuary - An upgrade to the Ion Shield, this one boosts it so that it works against melee attacks along with ranged weapons. This is better than its alternatives on htis list, and helps against big monsters, but it doesn't boost your ability to take low AP attacks.

Armor of the Sainted Ion - It grants the user a 2+ armour save. Nice, but Sanctuary is going to be the better option nine times out of ten, due to what you'll usually be forced to bear the brunt of.


Banner of Macharius Triumphant - This grants +1 Leadership to all units belonging to the Imperium which are within 6" of the one holding it. It also grants them the capacity to perform Objective Secured and allows them to count as ten models when contesting against an enemy force. Pretty damn useful on the whole, and it's a very nice bonus to have in mot games.

Traitor's Pyre - This supplants the Conflagration Cannon on a model and allows you to re-roll failed rolls to wound. not bad, certainly useful when it comes to culling astartes from a board.

Helm of the Nameless Warrior - You add +1 to hit rolls in the Fight phase, something which is going to be very useful in most situations, and can be stacked with other re-roll abilities. On something like the Gallant, this can allow them to rack up a high tally of kills in good games.


Mark of the Omnissiah - Roll a D6 at the start of the turn and heal D3 wounds on a 6. It's akin to having a Techpriest who cannot be killed standing next to you, but it's only going to work once in a while. It's not bad if you're expecting them to take the brunt of a few hits, but there are better things to spend your points on.

The Helm Dominatus - This can only be used with the Dominus and Questrois class models, and serves as one of a new trope of items we've been seeing a great deal of lately. Basically, at the start of a shooting phase pick an enemy target within 24" and then give all allied Armigers within 6" of the bearer +1 to hit. If you're looking to kill something via a thousand cuts or utterly wreck one aircraft then this is your best option, really. That said, this exact cookie cutter build is getting a little irritating.

Cawl's Wrath - No, he's not in this, but his presence is most certainly felt. In a manner which you would expect from Cawl, it's a massive power booster to a high tech weapon. In this case, it's a Plasma Decimator, as you end up with AP-4, and +1 Damage to both modes. Take it and witness absolutely savagery at its finest.

Household Specific Relics

Thunder of Voltoris (Terryn) - You gain a replacement Battle Cannon which hits with the following stats line: Range 72" Heavy 2d6 S9 AP-2 d3 Damage. When rolling for the shot number, you roll 3D6 and drop the lowest number. Practical but still fairly effective.

Mark of the Lance (Griffith) - ... Okay, someone in the writing department has to be a Berserk fan from all these veiled mentions, surely. This effectively makes your charges all the more effective, as when you finish your charge mode, you roll a D6. On the result of a 2+ you immediately inflict D3 Mortal Wounds on the target, or 3 immediately if you get a 6. It's a supercharged version of their universal special rule, and a pretty damn nasty one to be sure.

Angel's Grace (Hawkshroud) - If you take a Mortal Wound in the psychic phase, roll a dice. On a 4+ you ignore it outright. This can be effective given how little defense the army has against psykers in general, and it assists with nullifying one of their greatest weaknesses.

The Hunter's Eye (Cadmus) - You ignore enemy bonuses from cover when judging this unit's attacks. It speaks for itself, really.

Honor's Bite (Mortan) - Aside from having the benefit of being listed despite its missing "u", the weapon is a S+6 AP-4 6 Damage Reaper Chainsword which can deal an extra D3 Mortal Wounds on the wounds roll of a 6. Pretty damn useful, and it means that it has some unpredictably destructive tendencies which can seriously hurt the enemy.

The Banner Inviolate (Raven) - This is limited to the Questoris class, and it allows all House Raven models to re-roll 1s to hit in the Fight Phase when within 6" of this bearer. The limited range here given the size of the models is what will seriously hurt this one the most, as while it's fairly generic, it can't work effectively on many at any one time. It's largely worth ignoring as a result.

Fury of Mars (Taranis) - It's a thermal cannon but you get the usual melta effect of rolling two D6 and picking the highest number when hitting targets at its full 48" range. Yeah, just ignore this one, as it looks good initially, but usually ends up being a waste of points.

The Headsman's Mark (Krast) - It's easily one of the best here, as all weapons gain +1 Damage standard when targeting an enemy with ten or more wounds, or +2 Damage if it's a Titanic foe. This thing is the bane of enemy Knights and it's utterly deadly on a ranged unit.

The Auric Mask (Vulker) - If an enemy is forced to take a morale test, within 12" of this one, they must roll 2D6 and keep the highest result. This is actually pretty useful for breaking enemy lines and dealing with possible speed bumps, especially if you are trying to hit the middle of an enemy's gun line.

Warlord Traits

This is another divided lot, this time with some which are marked as universal, while others are dedicated to specific houses.


Blessed by Sacristans - While this can't work with relics, this one allows you to deal Mortal Wounds on the unmodified roll of a 6. This might seem like a generally minor benefit at best, until you realise that the Avenger can count for this sort of thing. Yeah, it's a good one to have if you have the right build for it.

Cunning Commander - So this one, from the name, sounds like you might gain a mini-Creed from this. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case, as it gives you a free re-roll for hits, wounds, saves or damage once per battle. You start with +1 CP if you are Battle-Forged, which is the more important point. The former is alright, but the latter means that you can gain the upper hand much faster with some luck. It's a good one to have and can work with most lists.

Fearsome Reputation - This is a surprisingly exceptional one, as it sounds bad on its own until you account for, well, everything else. This one imposes a -1 Leadership penalty for enemy units within 12" of the warlord and -2 if they are within 6" of them. Again, on its own it's pretty bland, but then consider everything else which can modify Leadership which you can take. Even if it's just a squad of Psykers inflicting Terrify, that's -3 in total. Yeah, this can be damn good when you fit together truly effective army.

Ion Bulwark - You now have an invulnerable save of 4+ when facing off against those shooting at you. Pretty useful, and like the aforementioned options, there are good ways to buff this when stacking it with others.

Landstrider - You merge with the speed force. No, really, you basically have a buff which extends to all Knights within the same Household when they are within 6", and then adds 2 to Advance and Charge roles. With Terryn, you are basically teleporting across the board without too much trouble at all.

Household Specific Warlord Traits

Veteran of Gryphonne IV (Cadmus) - All Damage taken in the Fight phase is reduced by one, to a minimum of 1. Skippable and largely worth ignoring, unfortunately, as something with this name seriously deserves a more engaging or interesting buff.

Master of the Joust (Griffith) - Second verse, same as the first. When you finish a Charge, roll a D6 and on the roll of a 4+ an enemy unit within 1" the unit suffers D3 Mortal Wounds. With a few more things like this, Griffith leaders can kill units just by running at them and getting lucky.

Duty of Forsworn (Hawkshroud) - This is basically a hunting one here, as it allows you to pick a single enemy unit at the start of the game, and then to benefit from a +1 to hit it from there on. Unless the opposing army has been built up with a single super unit on the opposing side, it's not worth taking at all.

Legacy of the Black Pall (Mortan) - Beyond 18", all shooting attacks made toward your warlord suffer from a -1 penalty to hit. Given the best way to counter Knights is usually lascannon spam or heavy anti-armour cannons, this is typically quite useful. It means that your Warlord can last a fair bit longer, and has more of a chance to get in close against your enemy. not to mention that you can use him as a living shield if required.

Champion of the Household (Terryn) - You can re-roll failed charges. Yeah, it's a good one to have. Simple and quite effective. There's nothing more to really be said here.

First Knight (Krast) - You can re-roll hits of 1 from your Warlord, both in shooting and melee. Again, it speaks for itself. It's good to have in most situations.

Master of the Trial (Raven) - This allows your warlord to ignore AP-1 attacks, which can be helpful but not nearly so much as you might think and there are more universally useful ones on here. Yeah, there's a lot of ones where that can just be said on the whole.

Knight of Mars (Taranis) - When rolling a natural 6 to wound while shooting, you gain an additional point of AP. Good with a shooting heavy unit, and potentially beneficial to the Avenger, but for the most part it can be ignored due to the statistics involved.

Adamantium Knight (Vulker) - This is one of the much more entertaining options on here, as it can allow you to stonewall multiple shots even from anti-titan weapons, as it means wound rolls of 1, 2, and 3 automatically fail, even if the wound chart contradicts this. Yeah, with so many ways for Knights to easily get killed, this is a definite must-have for this house.

So, that's that done for the moment. We'll be taking a break from this to get back to some of our normal content because this keeps being delayed and it's a bloody long codex. This was actually meant to be the final part, until I realised that I would be hammering out a lengthy epic by trying to cover Stratagems in here as well.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

European Courts Move To Destroy the Internet As We Know It

Yes, it's that time again where we delve into the law, specifically the problems surrounding what happens when outdated policies come into contact with the internet. The last few times have been bad. We have seen things like SOPA, efforts to destroy internet neutrality and worse things still. Unfortunately, this one might be the nuclear option in all that, as Europe has begun pushing for a number of quite insane policies.

As described by Wired, "A proposed new European copyright law wants large websites to use "content recognition technologies" to scan for copyrighted videos, music, photos, text and code in a move that could impact everyone from the open source software community to remixers, livestreamers and teenage meme creators.

In an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, some of the world's most prominent technologists warn that Article 13 of the proposed EU Copyright Directive "takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users."

The big one here is, of course, the fact that this would be highly invasive. It would require companies to relentlessly spy on those online and utilise a growing series of extremely invasive programs in order to accomplish this. What's more, it would double down on a massive problem we already suffer from: Youtube copyright bots. Speak to anyone who uploads stuff onto Youtube, anyone who tries to make a living from videoes or even does it for personal entertainment. Then listen to them describe the countless problems and all the hoops they need to jump through in order to accomplish anything. Listen to how these people have their work flagged by long bankrupt companies which folded decades ago, singular episodes of TV series, or even by themselves under this automated system. Or, if you can't be bothered to do that, then listen to Jim Sterling rant about it. That would be for the entire internet, and yet it would be the very tip of the iceberg.

Any written information using images, sound effects, even words if this was extended, would be open to copyright flagging. Those reposting elements which they had not personally created, even for reviews or to cite points, could easily be flagged and their content destroyed. News reports could have sloppily written copyright claims filed against them, negative reviews could be taken down by this sort of thing being wielded like a weapon and, yes, even internet memes would be outlawed. 

We have seen in the past how many corporations are more than willing to use such systems as a cudgel to beat down those with less power. Just take a look at what any major corporation involved with Youtube can get away with, and there's no reason to think the same will not happen again here. The likes of Sega removing Shining Force videos to boost search ratings for their own content, or the company behind Pixels indiscriminately flagging everything with the word "pixel" in it with DMCAs, won't be exceptions. They might even become commonplace.

Fan websites, online journals, personal blogs, social media, even historical websites documenting centuries-old events would all be at the mercy of this system. It would effectively destroy a large swathe of online life, and livelihoods, for a substantial part of the Western world. And now, thanks to how overlooked this has been, we only have 24 hours to try and change their minds.

If you have any desire to avoid this at all, click here and start sending e-mails. I don't care how overdone you think memes are, or even if copyright needs to be adjusted for online media. This isn't the way to do it.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Codex: Imperial Knights - Household Traditions, Burdens, Qualities & Units (Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Review)

Well, I said that there were going to be delays due to the ongoing work at home. Please put this one down to that, as no one could hear a single thing anyone was saying, or their own thoughts, thanks to the relentless fucking hammering going on due to DIY. That and the lack of any actual office.

So, here we are with the units and their formations. The trouble with forming an Imperial Knights force up until now was that there was little in terms of their overall range. Sure, the basic Knights had a good basis for various weapons and builds, but it was akin to completely building an army out of Rhino variants. You could technically cover everything, but it lacked variety and had a few obvious blind spots. Even with additional AA support, the army lacked versatility, and the new rules' emphasis on infantry over vehicles or massive monsters (which I fully endorse, don't get me wrong) left them at a disadvantage. So, we ended up with both bigger and smaller units to cover the gaps.

Make no mistake, the mechanics behind the book were fighting an even bigger uphill battle than those writing the lore. Not only was the core meta working against them, but there was also the issue of trying not to break from a core theme behind the army of gigantic mechs while offering tactical versatility. Something even looking back into the original Knights would not wholly resolve.

Now, before we actually get onto the units themselves, there is something we need to look into - The special rules which dictate how they fight. You see, you have the opportunity to tailor your knights capabilities, at least to a certain point a-la chapter tactics style additions. Something I'm very thankful for, as this can be applied both to Freeblades and entire houses.

Household Traditions

Questor Imperialis

House Terryn - Gallant Warriors: As the Ultramarines stand-in for the book - right down to their blue - you might think that this allows them to do more tactical drops or planned advances. Well, not quite. Instead, you gain the ability to roll two D6 when advancing or charging and pick the highest result. This might seem rather underwhelming at first glance, but nine times out of ten it's going to be very useful. Most of your units are things you are going to want in melee to take advantage of their chainblades or to emulate the classic pick-up-and-throw actions via thunderstrikes gauntlets. Even when you're not doing this, the chances are that you will wish to pull damaged knights out of the battle and into cover, so a few extra inches can be a real bonus. So, while it's not all that flashy, it's a surprisingly effective practical option.

House Griffith - Glory of the Charge: You sacrifice most of your units to have your leader gain daemonic powers.


Alright, look, I went through the entire lore section without making a single Berserk joke in it, at least let me have that one. In all seriousness, this adds +1 to the Attack value of a model upon charging or making a Heroic Intervention. There's also the added bonus of allowing models to do Interventions as if they were characters. It's a good way to initiate some serious damage to break an enemy army in an opening charge, but it's not the best option on here. An assault heavy choice where you mob a few single targets before picking off the remnants. It leaves you a bit tactically limited on the whole, even if it can be effective.

House Hawkshroud - Oathkeepers: This is easily the best option for one easy reason - It directly counters the knights' greatest shortcoming. When you're calculating stats degradation and damage, you count your knights as having twice as many wounds, allowing them to remain extremely combat effective even on the verge of death. This really means that you can have a knight left with little more than a metal skeleton, and they will be fighting far harder than their counterparts. Honestly, this alone means we will likely see a fair few Hawkshroud armies in the years to come.

House Cadmus - Hunters of the Foe: This tradition offers you the chance to re-roll all failed wounds in the Fight phase when you're going up against anything with less than 12 wounds. This means you're going to be curb-stomping a few marines into the ground - literally, as your stomp abilities are going to inflict some serious damage against mobs. It's a nice general purpose option, even if it does lack some character.

House Mortan - Close-Quarters Killers: As you might guess from the name, Mortan is the house you go for when you want to make enemies take a twelve-meter long chainsaw to the face. While this is universally true of almost all knights, in this case, you gain +1 to all hits during the fight phase, when your units charge, are charged, or initiate Heroic Interventions. It's an alright bonus to have, and there are detinite situations where it is very helpful, but it's definitely the weakest on here.

Questor Mechanicus

House Raven - Relentless Advance: With Raven being the big Martian name of this section, this one subverts what you might expect by being more generally skilful than just giving them a big tech boost. With this one your knights do not suffer from penalties upon firing after advancing, as it immediately makes all of your ranged heavy weapons count as assault weapons.

This is the ying to House Terryn's yang, with a benefit to shooty options over getting in close and personal. While it does leave you with fewer opportunities to ensure the survival of your knights, it does still allow you quite a few substantial benefits in regards to mobile engagements. Crusaders and Armiger Warglaives are the most obvious ones here which will definitely benefit from this, and it means you can both sweep forward while providing covering fire, and perform swift withdrawals. It's a pretty good one on the whole, and it wouldn't a surprise to see certain Knights lists written to favour it.

House Taranis - Omnissiah's Grace: Your models gain a 6+ Feel No Pain roll against all non-mortal wounds. It's alright really, but aside from possibly covering for the inability to allow ion shields to provide protection at close range, there's nothing too fantastic about this one.

House Krast - Cold Fury: This one is identical to the main benefit of House Mortan with one definite big bonus here - It also counts as continually in effect when you are fighting units with the Titanic special rule. This effectively means that you're fielding a house of giant killers, well suited to initiating charges against most mobs, but having a distinct edge when bringing down other big opponents. It's not too brilliant, and much more could be done with it, but more than a few players will definitely find uses for this one.

House Vulker - Firestorm Protocols: This final one is another close-range option, which this time benefits shooting, at least with the nearest unit. When targeting the nearest model, you gain a re-roll to any 1s. This means that, when you are firing off a weapon which relies on a single lucky attack, you have a bit more of a safety net and it also helps for players to more freely use the overcharged Plasma Decimator on the Castellan. We'll explain that in a minute but basically 1 = boom! in that case.

On the whole, it's not bad. The big problem here is that it does lack ambition and has been written with an effort to try and cover every base in terms of general tactics or desirable bonuses. I can personally see why given how big of a shift this has been, but there was more that could have been done with some of these to make them stand out more. In particular, Vulker, Taranis, and Mortan at least could have benefited from designers re-thinking a few things. So, it's alright, but a bit flawed certainly.

Normally that would be it for most armies, but with Freeblades having such prominence here, there's an entire second list to go through. While this might seem gratuitous or as if it's padding, this actually makes a lot of sense in many regards. More than a few people fielded Knights as a bonus unit to their big armies, so by having a dedicated house focused list followed by rules more suited to individuals, you end up with the best of both worlds. People who want singularly strong knights can work with one, and those wishing to field full armies can utilise the other.



These are the big bonuses of the section, each a benefit which buffs the Knight, only to be offset by the second list below.

Indomitable: You add a single Wound and one extra point to Leadership. Leadership can help when facing certain targets and a bonus wound isn't bad, but it's not exactly a great one.

Last of Their Line: Re-roll 1s to hit when facing units of 10 or more models.

This deactivates when the unit you face drops below ten models and only works in melee. Same comment as above, but it is more helpful when culling Tyranid swarms or the like.

Legendary Hero: One free re-roll for your hits, wounds, damage, charge or save per round.
Probably one of the best here, as you can apply the re-roll to any multitude of situations or desperate moments where one is needed, and it can further stack atop of other buffs. Definitely consider this one.

Mysterious Guardian: The Freeblade can now make Heroic Intervention as if it were a Character and has a distance of 6".

Peerless Warrior: Roll a D6. On a 1 to 3, you add add 2" to the model's overall movement. On a 4-5, add a single point to WS. On a 6, do the same but to BS.
While irksome given its random nature, most of these do have some benefit to them and helps to give the Freeblade a bit more of an edge in most battles. Not bad, but it feels as if the first result should have covered only 1s and 2s.

Sworn to a Quest: Re-roll 1s when trying to hit the enemy Warlord, and it allows the Freeblade to provide standard Objective Secured actions on targets, but you still only count as one(!) model while doing so. Not bad, but very skippable.


Driven to Slaughter: The Knight's BS is reduced to 6+ and can no longer use Fall Back. This is useful on the more close combat built knights, but for the most part this is likely one you will want to avoid.

Exiled in Shame: You cannot use any strategems on a Freeblade. This covers all strategems across the board, both within the Knights code and others apparently, and as such it might cause a few problems with certain army builds. Overall, it's not too penalizing in the majority of cases.

Haunted by Failure: Any hits at range or in melee with the result of a 6 must re-roll their dice. This is mixed really, as on the one hand is can be very easily ignored, but on the other there are a multitude of attacks or results reliant on getting a 6 as a result. Situational to be sure, but it's a more desirable weakness than most.

Impetuous Nature: The Freeblade channels his inner Black Templars and begins moving towards the nearest enemy unit with each action, and must declare charges against any enemy unit within 12", unless it's already locked in melee. This makes it a good bullet magnet, but it does mean that you end up with a dead Freeblade nine times out of ten thanks to the inability to withdraw or hide them behind something.

Obsessed with Vengeance: This doubles up with Impetuous Nature but with an emphasis on dakka rather than running. It forces you to both target the nearest visible enemy unit in the shooting phase, and then declare charges only against this during the Charge phase. It's not too bad as it doesn't hamper you all that much, but it does mean that you might have to position your knight in a place where they will be facing off against a desirable unit to blow their way through.

Weary Machine Spirit: You count only half of your remaining wounds when judging via the Damage Chart, meaning that your Freeblade's stats degrade at twice its normal speed. It's probably the worst of the bunch, but this can be offset in a number of general ways such as with the Mechanicus Knights via Machine Spirit Resurgent.

So, with that over and done with, let's delve into these units and see how they hold up in this new edition.

Sir Hekhtur “The Chainbreaker” and Canis Rex

Now this one was a surprise. After several editions of treating each knight effectively as something to be retooled with each army, to have one specifically highlighted as a named character was quite a shock. While there had been one or two in the past, these were typically dedicated to specific campaigns, this was the first to truly be highlighted in their own codex. Aside from some questionable lore behind his actions, he's actually quite an interesting take on the Knights and a good central piece for an army thanks to his rules.

Any Imperial units which flee within 6" of his model get the opportunity to roll a dice, and on the result of a 6 they do not flee. This means that you can have him positioned in a place to easily block fleeing cannon fodder and give your units a chance to get back into the fight before your line breaks. With the smaller Knights this makes him useful for obvious reasons, but the fact it can cover Guardsmen as well makes him a very desirable choice.

His modified Knight Preceptor is armed with a gigantic microscope a Las-Impulsor, a multilaser, and a uniquely powerful version of the thunderstrike pimp hand which hits at 2D6 damage, making him a very fun unit to throw against tanks. Or throw tanks at people. This would be decent enough for a general model, but most impressively is that his stats do not degrade past a certain point when damaged. Both WS and BS starts at 2+ and will not drop below 4+, meaning he will remain fairly effective even when he's metaphorically on his knees. Oh, and when he does topple over, guess what? He gets out personally and starts shooting at things with a pimped out Strength 5 AP 2 pistol, while still retaining all his rules. This does mean he's not as effective as before, but he can still hurt a few things.

Knight Crusader:

The dakka mecha of the army, the Crusader is armed with both an Avenger gattling cannon and either a thermal cannon or repeating battle cannon. It's an option best used as a way of culling troops and crowd control - especially as mobs tend to be one of the big threats to Knight in many key battles - as one weapon can quickly pop open transports while the other cuts them all down. Even without this, it's still a good general purpose response unit at range, as it will cause the likes of Predators some serious damage if positioned correctly. It's one best kept to cull the Orks and Tyranids when you end up facing them.

Knight Errant:

This one is much more of a dedicated tank hunter, and a good way of quickly countering most heavy armour lists, especially those of the Imperial Guard. The thermal cannon is short ranged, but will melt through the front armour of just about any major offensive tank it is pointed at. Simultaneously, as the ion shield offers a good general defense at range, you have no reason not to get in close and hack your foe to bits with the reaper chainsword. Combined with its generally cheap price and the option to add in the famed pimp hand of doom, it's a solid overall choice.

Knight Gallant:

Besides the +2 WS this Knight has over its contemporaries, having five attacks standard and two sets of close combat weapons means that this is a frontline fighter. Your main tactics will typically involve getting in as close as possible to an enemy, with as little damage, before punching them in the face. While it can be fitted with the standard carapace weapons, in most battles these will be completely wasted on this vehicle, while the optional heavy stubber just takes up a slot that will never be of real use to you.

These guys are almost certain to draw the most firepower from any enemy force, as they're the ones typically at the head of any attack. Get them in close and they will reap a heavy toll on enemy troops before going down, while their two main weapons are among the best options for quickly dispatching monsters. With some extreme luck and even a few buffs (such as House Terryn's benefits), you can end up making a turn one charge on some smaller boards. Just keep in mind that you might want to keep them back for a short while or using them to deny enemy advances, before throwing them away in a one-man attack.

Knight Paladin:

This is the standard knight you see in most artwork, outfitted both with the blade weapon and battle cannon. It's not quite the jack of all trades some drum it up as, but in the recent edition, the combination of 84" firing range and strong melee makes it viable for most situations. It's likely that in most games you will end up using it in one of two roles - Either getting in close and personal very early on, or hanging back and initiating supporting fire before ripping the foe a new rear end. For the most part they serve as a good method of denying enemy movement, as they can lay down considerable supporting firepower, while the chainsword is nasty enough to make enemies refuse to approach it. In addition to this, they serve as good AA platforms for their autocannon turrets, as they're fast enough to quickly reposition themselves, but will have plenty of opportunities to remain in static positions. Oh, and there's the bonus that it's cheaper than the Crusader as well.

Knight Ward

This is an option that's even more of an all-rounder than the Paladin, with a gatling cannon in place of the battle cannon. While it has a greater divide between the roles of its weapons, the raw damage output of each makes it good for countering one type of foe at a time, either multiple gun fodder at a range or a brick shit house in melee. It's probably the best option to be given a fist as well, thanks to its substantially cheaper price. This means that you can more easily field a counter to heavy armour units such as Land Raiders, while also having enough room to field more knights. Given the already limited tactical flexibility of these armies, this makes the Warden a definite must for most lists.

Knight Preceptor:

Taking up the only big change to the standard build of Knights, the Preceptor is another weapons swap design which outfits the unit with a las impulsor and a chainsword. Common stuff, but the bonus here stems from its specialist Mentor rule, which allows nearby Armigers to re-roll 1s to hit. This is an interesting one, in that it both reflects something seen in the Imperial Knights novels and also gives a few new building options for certain lists. For the most part, however, you will typically find yourself only fielding this and two or three Armigers due to the costs involved. It's a good way of getting some extra firepower, but I can see the novelty of it becoming something of a trap for those who don't fully account for all facets of this Edition's rules.

Armiger Knight Warglaive:

The smaller scale Armigers are more or less what you would expect here, as they both are more numerous and less durable on the whole. With 12 Wounds plus a 3+ standard and 5+ invulnerable save, but the Toughness 7 stat means that it will be able to avoid being truly hurt by the likes of heavy bolters with ease.

The Warglaive version is outfitted with both a Thermal Cannon and a reaper chainsword downsized, a Thermal Spear (30" S8 AP-4 Assault) and Chain-Cleaver respectively. While this might seem like an odd choice given their squisher status than the normal Knights, these guys can still take a fair amount of punishment and also have a 14" movement to overcome this small detail. They have four attacks standard which makes their general strikes in melee quite effective, but it's all the more so when you account for how their weapons can be used. The cleaver can be activated in one of two ways, either to Strike (which doubles the Knight's Strength 6 standard blows along with AP-3) and also Sweep (which hits at AP-2, standard Strength and doubles the number of hit rolls you can make). This allows them to both severely hamper units engaging them in melee while mobbing attacks on light vehicles or opposing walkers. They lack the versatility or adaptability of the likes of Dreadnoughts, but they also have enough power and speed to cause most foes serious problems.

Armiger Knight Helverin:

With one melee version, you can probably guess that this is the dakka version here. Rather than having a set of weapons, it's outfitted with two autocannons with a few upgrades to them. With an astounding 60" range, they have 4D3 shots at Strength 7 each. The range here is especially important, as combined with their speed it allows them to serve as a quick response and sniper unit, either ripping through heavy infantry such as Terminators or whittling away against stronger targets. They also serve as a good anti-air option, as their sheer volume of shots immediately offsets the -1 result to hit while the strength will keep causing problems.

Their range is likely to assist the obvious disadvantages faced in melee, as they can be much more easily overwhelmed by a solid unit of anti-vehicle infantry units or even opposing walkers. While the extended range might make them seem like a hard hitting option, they do go down surprisingly easily to thunder hammers, or a dedicated melee walker such as a wraith-blade equipped Wraithlord or Furioso Dreadnought. As such, you're more likely to keep them back as snipers or ambush predators rather than using them as a source of firepower. They make for good harassment options and distractions, but their tough but brittle build means that they can easily fall apart under unfavourable circumstances.

Dominus Knight Castellan:

The Dominus are the biggest of the new Knights, and are more akin to a down scaled Warlord Titan than a true Knight. Well, okay, they're not quite at that point and they at least avoided going so far as Forge World did, but the sheer number of guns and boost in size helped this thing to stand out from its opponents. The Dominus' baseline stats are what you would expect from something of its build. The Knight is much slower and with Toughness 8 and 28 wounds it's not likely to die any time soon. However, they have not been built with close combat in mind, as their WS 4+ leaves them at a notable disadvantage, and they should be treated more as mobile gun platforms than something to spearhead assaults on targets.

The Castellan is the long range version of the two here, as its guns are intended to cover as broad a series of distances across the board as possible. The two Plasma Decimators have a range of 48" and count as Heavy 2D6 Strength 7 AP-3 D2 and can even be overloaded for some extra damage (just with the plasma gun style backfiring risk working against them if they do this). However, on top of this you also have a downsized volcano cannon by the name of the Volcano Lance which hits at Heavy D6 Strength 14 AP-5 D 3D3 when striking at 80". Oh, and then atop of that you also have a set of twin-linked melta turrets, and three hard points for turrets which can be fitted with either range 48" Heavy 2D3 Strength 7 AP-1 Damage 3 Siegebreaker Cannons or Shieldbreaker Missiles which ignore invulnerable saves. The latter option can only be fired off one at a time, and can only be used once per game, but their Heavy 1 Strength 10 AP-4 D D6 at 48" range means that they will inflict some serious damage if they hit.

When these things were announced, people thought that they were getting this:

Actually, it seems they were getting this:

Most of this might seem as if it is heavily weighted in the machine's favour, but they do have several notable weaknesses. The first and most obvious among these is that they tend to fold quickly in close combat, especially against opposing super heavy walkers. Infantry aren't too much of a problem in most situations, but a suicide attack by penal battalion units armed with melta bombs or even a mass teleportation of Terminators could easily ruin your day.

The other issue worth mentioning is that it's definitely trying to keep too many plates spinning at once. It can cover a lot of bases, that's for certain, and its weapons will seriously hurt anything they end up pointed toward. However, with that being said, it will likely need some help finishing off anything which isn't a Titanic target, as most of its weapons are intended to cover a different role within the army. For example, the Siegebreaker Cannons and the Plasma Decimator look like potent weapons on paper both to deal with swarms and high toughness targets such as marines. Yet, it isn't quite capable of killing enough of them compared to the more dedicated Knight Crusader or the other cheaper options. As such, it should be treated as a way to counter massive singular targets such as opposing super heavies, but it needs to be held back for higher point games. Ones where you have enough units which can mop up its targets and cover its flanks. 

As weaknesses go, it's actually a good one, as it means you can't have a single big unit and a few throw-away options and expect to win a game. As such, it serves as a powerful weapon, but not a win-everything cudgel to smash away whole armies.

Dominus Knight Valiant:

While the Castellan proved to be a dependable artillery piece, the Valiant exchanges ranged firepower for point blank annihilation. The vast bulk of its weapons are extremely short ranged, but make up for that with sheer damage output. Just to cite the two big ones, the Conflagration Cannon hits with a Flamer style 18" Heavy 3D6 Strength 7 AP-2 Damage 2 attack, while the brilliantly named Thundercoil Harpoon offers up 12" Heavy 1 Strength 16 AP-6 Damage 10. Yes, you did read that correctly. This thing has Strength 16, and doesn't so much shoot vehicles as hit them so hard that the shockwave alone flays armour plating from their superstructures. Not only does the latter option re-roll hits against monsters and vehicles, but it adds on an extra D3 Mortal Wounds to those targets if a hit successfully gets through.

This would normally be the point where I start ranting about how damn broken this machine is, but it has one very obvious weakness: Its range. This thing is tough enough that it will likely survive to reach your lines if you maintain a static position, but a mobile army like the T'au Empire or various Eldar factions will likely keep dancing out of reach of its guns. Furthermore, even those which are more likely to stand their ground have a few ways of dragging it down, either with massed lascannon bombardments, Razorback spamming or the odd Strength 10 weapon. That's also without assuming there's nothing kept in reserve to deliver a killing blow, such as teleporting Terminators or the like.

The Valiant is at its most effective in environments where there is little room to manoeuvre and an immense amount of cover. City battles with broad streets tend to favour this environment, as do boards littered with ruins. Yet, those can also work against it, as they provide environments for armies to split up and hide, and for other groups to chip away at its wounds with attacks from different angles. The best use of this one is to keep it moving forward and use its threat to define where the enemy army moves, while also using the other Knights to flush out targets or prevent them from withdrawing. As such, it's an effective tool, but one which takes luck, skill and some general planning to actually make decent use out of, and even then you might still have it die without earning back its points.

Sacristan Forgeshrine:

This was something of a surprise, as the Forgeshrines were mentioned in passing and had appeared in prior material, but they had largely been ignored up to now. These are the installations which are used to repair and re-arm Knights, and serve as a means to buff their capabilities. Among other things, this means that they can offer a Knight an extra 6" of movement when advancing beyond its nearby range, offer more shots to non-relic cannons, and re-arm any previously fired Shieldbreaker missiles. It's an interesting option, but it is largely immobile and is extremely costly as well. Furthermore, while it can repair damaged Knights, they need to sacrifice a turn of shooting in order to accomplish this.

In siege situations or defensive positions, this one has a definite place in the game, but for the most part it's something you'll likely ignore in favour of most direct damage options.

So, that's the units over and done with. For the most part, it's a pretty reasonable selection. The majority of the Knights translated to this new version of the game with few changes, while the new selections have obvious strengths, but enough shortcomings to avoid the super heavy emphasis that the previous metagame fell into with nothing to effectively counter them. On the whole, it's not as good as one might hope, but infinitely better than what many feared we'd end up seeing.

So, next time we'll be finishing this up with the remaining parts. I can only hope it's sooner, and that I can actually get a few minutes to hear myself think.