Monday, 26 February 2018

Book Review 19 // Grey Hunter by William King

Welcome to the Grey Hunter book review. The third installment of William King's exploration of the Space Wolves and their most popular character Ragnar Blackmane. The first book of the tale can be found here and the second installment here.

This will also see the completion of my fourth book of 2018. As you may have seen or read elsewhere each year I try to push my slow reading ability more and more. For 2017 the challenge was 12 books in 12 months, which I completed. For 2018 it is a minimum of 18 books in 12 months. Not to hard I know, but for me it would be quite the achievement. So with this all in mind let us dive in to this next review.

Title: Grey Hunter
Author: William King
Publisher: Black Library
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 288
Commercial Fluff: "Ragnar Blackmane is unique among the Space Wolves in that he ascended to the Wolf Guard without ever being a Grey Hunter. But how did he manage such a feat? The beginnings of that story are told here… When the Spear of Russ, an ancient relic of the Space Wolves once wielded by Leman Russ himself, is stolen, the Chapter seeks its return on the world of Garm. But when they are ambushed by the forces of Chaos the enraged Space Wolves learn that there is more to the attack than they could have guessed, for an ancient enemy of the Chapter is prophesied to be reborn…"

Review (Contains Spoilers)

So first up this is the third book in a series, so don't just jump straight in as it will be confusing to understand the characters and how they are organised. Unsurprisingly it features Ragnar as a Blood Claw going to war within his great company of Space Wolves, fighting against a chaos infested uprising that has also stolen the legendary Spear of Russ on the World of Garm.

Angered by this a front to chapter, the Space Wolves head to Garm in full force to bring down this uprising and recover the lost Spear. But it is never that easy in the 41st millennium... In a surprising twist we see the return of Madox- A Thousand Son Sorcerer from the first book, who has seemingly learnt a few tricks and grown as a villain. Madox is attempting to open a portal to the planet of Sorcerers to allow Magnus the Red to re-enter the material realm. Soon Ragnar is facing off against Madox is a race to close the portal that is letting chaos flood into the world. What follows is a pretty epic battle as Ragnar fights Madox and in the final moments choses to throw the Spear of Russ into the portal of chaos closing the tear and ending the conflict. This leads to mixed feelings for Ragnar as some believe him to be a saviour and a hero, whilst others see him as the upstart who lost Leman Russ's Spear.

Like the other books in this series William's writing is sometimes blunt and bland, but his fight scenes are always well paced and not gory for the sake of it. I enjoyed about 70% of the book whilst 30% of it seemed to dragged on whilst Ragnar faced inner demons and became an Emo marine. If you are Space Wolf/Space Marine fan you would find this an enjoyable read.

As always thanks for reading my review and feel free to follow or drop a comment below. My next book on the list is Neferata part of the Warhammer Time of Legends series. A step into Vampires and Fantasy.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Beer Review 56 // Highland Hill Walker by Crooked Mile

New brewery alert. Crooked Mile brewery has been around now for about a year, only problem is it's all the way out in Almonte. So with a day off we hopped in the car and took the drive and picked up some cans. So without further ado let's get into it.

Details

Name: Highland Hill Walker
Style: Scottish Export
Brewery: Crooked Mile, Almonte, Ontario.
Country: Canada. 
ABV: 4.4%

Commercial Fluff: "Like a friendly greeting on a long trail, our Scottish Export will bring warmth to your table. This beautiful, deep amber ale is smooth and true to style. You’ll discover sweet notes of butterscotch and a slight smokiness with very little bitterness."

Own Opinion

Sight: Pour is a dark reddish copper, with a little fizzy off white head. Standard looking for the style.
Aroma: Dark fruits, roasted malts and some gentle coffee aromas.
Taste: Pretty gentle and mellow all round. Malt flavours, some hints of coffee and a light bitter finish.

Would I buy it again? Sure. Very easy drinking and a solid example of the style. Will it blow your socks off? No. Is it good for drinking a few in the row hell ya!

Have you tried it? Drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Book Review 18 // Ragner's Claw by William King

Welcome to Ragnar's Claw book review. The second installment of William King's exploration of the Space Wolves and their most popular character Ragnar Blackmane. The first book of the tale can be found here and was the fourth book I ever reviewed. It's taken me a while to get back to this series (my bad).

This will also be my third completed book of 2018 (yay me). Each year I try to push my slow reading ability more and more. 2017 the challenge was 12 books in 12 months which I completed and for 2018 it is a minimum of 18 books in 12 months. Not to hard I know, but for me it would be quite the achievement. So with this all in mind let us dive in.

Title: Ragnar's Claw
Author: William King
Publisher: Black Library
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 282
Commerical Fluff: From the death world of Fenris come the Space Wolves, the most savage of the Emperor's Space Marines. Ragnar's Claw is the storming tale of Ragnar's first mission as a young Blood Claw warrior. From the jungle hell of Galt to the polluted cities of Hive World Venam, Ragnar's mission takes him on an epic trek across the galaxy to face the very heart of evil!

Review

First up this was a surprising quick read for me. William King's writing style is engaging and easy flowing. It kept me engaged from start to finish. Down side to his storytelling is that you need a working knowledge of 40k otherwise you get completely lost. The tale follows Ragnar's first off world mission as young Blood Claw (think entry level fighting unit). His mission to help aid an inquisitor on a mission to collect three pieces of an Eldar artifact, which is prophesied to help save the inquisitors homeworld from a deadly plague. Throughout the tale the marines face off against orks, genestealers and daemons, whilst they traverse jungle worlds, space hulks and industrial planets. Ragnar as a character gains more background and becomes a more rounded character with faults and flaws that make him seem human. Even developing a fear of mortality after being seriously wounded by some ork's and watching a comrade die in battle. Throughout the book we deal with Ragnar's suspicions about his allies and get rewarded at the end for wondering who are these offworlders and what are they really after.

As with the first book, King expertly delivers fast pace battle scenes that are quick and brutal as befitting a 40k book and starts to explain the wider Imperium of Man to the reader via Ragnar's own developing story. For me the best part was how far Ragnar and his pack developed as group, traveling further than ever before and fighting foes for the first time we start to see a novice unit becoming a elite fighting force.

Overall a fun, quick read, some may find it a simple book. Personally I really enjoy it.

"For Russ and the Allfather!"

Sector 102 // Emerald Isle and Judge Fergus Kilkenny


Welcome Dredd-heads, time for a Sector 102 update. This time we travel the waves and visit the Emerald Isle's and Murphyville. Then I will introduce Judge Fergus Killkenny an Exchange Judge visiting MC-1.



Lets begin with some background info:

Murphyville
Murphyville is the main urban settlement on Emerald Isle (formerly Ireland), spanning the south-east coast. It is independent to Brit-Cit but highly 'influenced' by it. The main export of Murphyville is entertainment. There was 20 million inhabitants on the island in 2113.

History

Ireland's potato crops died out in 2052. For the sake of the tourist trade, they secretly mashed up rice to look like potatoes. It remained neutral during the Atomic War of 2070 but that didn't protect it from extensive radiation damage. It was only reclaimed in 2095 due to Brit-Cit aid and in return, Brit corporations have a major hold on the Isle's government. The country was turned into a gigantic theme park based around stereotypes of traditional Irish life. Stereotyped rural villages like the Charles Haughey Memorial Village were set up in the countryside, catering for the tourists (and only serving potatoes). Insulting promotional ads were fronted by a cartoon leprechaun called Seamus O'Tuber. Murphyville itself became increasingly urbanised but sometimes bit off more than it can chew: the Black Atlantic tunnel to the island ends in the Atlantic Bridge as they ran out of cash to complete the tunnel itself.

At some point, the Emerald Isle Militia became a semi-formal Judge force. They created the spud gun at a time when they were unable to afford bullets and tried using the fake potatoes instead. Discontent with patronising tourists and the need to cater to them grew. Young nationalists had formed the Sons of Erin terror group in the 2110s. Many of the Judges sympathised and the Sons rarely did anything serious, until the Sons leader Frank Neeson hired a mob blitzer called Donny Staples (mistaking him for a war veteran) to help them in 2113. They first executed the Ambassador to Mega-City One, then were steered by Staples into the "Bloody Monday Morn" massacre on May 12: hitting Murphyville International Airport, Riverside Travel Centre, Justice Central Station, Telemurph, the docks, and various hab villages and spudatoriums. A visiting Dredd helped Joyce and the Judge Militia wipe out the Sons of Erin but the tourist trade was still crippled.

Since then notable instances:
  • In 2114, Judge-Sergeant Joyce uncovered human body parts in Fingal Pie Factory pies. This turned out to be a gang of Trinity College medical students who thought it was a laugh to smuggle human bodies into food. 2114 was also the year that Murphyville finally signed the Judicial Charter with Mega-City One after years of diplomatic wrangling. In the same year, Murphyville faced zombie attacks on Judgement Day. Murphyville still had graveyards rather than [resyk] and zombies poured out of them, with airstrikes on graves written off as the Church would never buy it.
  • Murphyville was one of the many megacities trying to get the head of Judge Eckhart in 2117. Judge Patrick Wilde was actually a double agent for Vatican City but failed to secure the head.
  • In 2126, the city was under Chief Judge Krilly rule. He visited Mega-City One for the Global Justice Summit and got into a fight with Euro-City's Chief Judge Boltstern (who dismissed him and the city as irrelevant unless they wanted to hear about potatoes) when he came to the defence of an Oz Judge. 
  • After Chaos Day, an unknown number of Irish Judges were sent to Mega-City One to replenish its numbers. 

The Judges

The Judge Militia used to be poor, hence the need for the spud gun, and their bikes were still less advanced than the Lawmaster by 2114. They were more like the traditional Garda than most Judges, rarely using the same level of violence and being more integrated in the local community; Judges were allowed to drink, even on duty, and can have families. Bloody Monday Morn was a severe shock to the Militia. 

The uniforms are highly distinctive, with the top being a "trenchcoat" rather than the biker leathers of most forces. The green and white colouring (with orange bits) is based around the Irish flag. Large sidearms were in use by the 2110s (apparently without the multiple rounds of other Judge forces). The force operates out of Justice Central Station while criminals are locked up in Kilmainham Iso-cubes.

Under the Judicial Charter, Murphyville Judges can pursue criminals to Mega-City One and receive assistance, and vice versa.

+++ Current List of Exchange Program Judges +++
+++ .........accessing.........Sector 102 records........ +++
+++ .........one Judge currently active......Murphyville Judge.......Judge Fergus Kilkenny......+++
+++ Data Upload Complete +++
+++Visiting Judge Fergus Kilkenny+++

Judge Kilkenny hails from the Southern regions of Murphyville near the Black Atlantic Bridge. He was granted access to Mega-City One following a killing spree committed by The Summer Hall Gang. A gang with strong ties to Murphyville. Chief Judge Heresy felt it only fitting that they help clean up the mess their fellow Irishmen had created.

Judge Kilkenny is a light hearted fellow, who enjoys a good drink. Since coming to Mega-City One, Kilkenny has enjoyed the lights and sounds of the Big Meg. He can be found most of the time in Angles and has become a great Shuggy player.



Credits: 125 Type: Infantry, Hero Lvl 2 Equipment: Daystick, Handgun, Lightweight Armour.
Move: 5" Agility: +0 Shoot: +3 Melee: +0 Melee Dice: 2D Will: +0 Armour: +4 Hits: 3

Talents: Accurate, Crack Shot, Wild Shooting,

Sunday, 11 February 2018

S102. Character Fact File: Rhode Island Red and Squid Face.


Hey, hey Dredd-heads. Bringing you some more Dredd goodness. This time we turn to the dreaded Cursed Earth and the home of Rhode Island Red.

++ Sector House 102 ++

++ Morning Briefing ++

++ Subject: Rhode Island Red and The Red Leg Raiders ++


"Morning Judges. Intel has lead us to believe that Rhode Island Red, has escaped custody with the help of the surviving members of the Red Leg Raiders. Most likely in Sector 102 looking for transport to escape via the Black Atlantic. Be warned this gang make use of Dog Vultures so always check your six!"

-Sector House Chief.





Rhode Island Red Leader of the Red Leg Raiders
Credits: 140
Type: Infantry Hero, Illegal Infantry.
Move: 5" Agility: +0 Shoot: +1 Melee: +1 Melee Dice: 2D Will: +3 Armour: +3 Hits: 2

Mutations: Beak (Melee), Cock-a-doodle-do (Will)
Weapons: Knife, Laser pistol, Leathers.
Talents: Brave, Drokk the Law!


Squid Face of the Red Leg Raiders


Credits: 65
Type: Illegal Infantry, Minion.
Move: 5" Agility: +0 Shoot: +0 Melee: +0 Melee Dice: 2D Will: +0 Armour: +3 Hits: 1
Mutations: Tentacles (melee).
Weapons: Knife, Spit Pistol, Leathers.


Unsurprisingly I plan on growing this gang into a fully formed group. So continue to watch this space. Just need to workout how to make dog vultures.

Rhode Island Red and Squid Face ambush a business man and minder. 

Sector 102 // Dino Rampage


Time for another JDMG mission and additional rules. Once again these rules come from the now disbanded Mongoose Blog and are reproduced here to help grow a community. This time we turn our attention to Dinosaurs! First seen during the Cursed Earth Saga, they make for great random encounters and an excuse to play with some dinos.

++ Attention all Street Judges ++
++ Howie's Circus of Historic Facts is visiting Sector 102 today. Make sure to download the following facts on how to deal with beasts on the loose ++

In Mega-City One’s history, recovered dinosaur DNA was used to create clones for the "Dinosaur National Park". When the Atomic War ravaged the city, the dinosaurs were able to escape their confines and while most were recaptured or exterminated, many found their way into the Cursed Earth where they thrived in the harsh landscape.

Skip to present day and dinosaurs are a constant worry for every Cursed Earth settlement, who add them to the list of ever-present dangers along with rad storms, raiders and mutated vermin. Occasionally, a dinosaur may wander close to Mega-City One and slip past the defences unnoticed, where it will lurk in a ruined sector, preying upon the unwary.

The JDMG

Dinosaurs are a great way to challenge your campaign force in Mega-City One, as they are an unusual enemy that can pop up almost anywhere, and you do not need an opponent to face them! While we have not released any dinosaur-specific models, you will find a quick trip down to your local toy shop will furnish you with many different species eager to tear your forces apart.

The following dinosaurs can be used in games of Judge Dredd. All dinosaurs follow the Big and Dumb rule.

Big and Dumb: Dinosaurs were never noted for their brains and tend to follow their instincts, ignoring anything else. They never take take Will to Fight checks and automatically pass all Will checks they are called upon to make (even against Psi Talents – they just do not have a big enough brain for a psyker to find!).


Large Carnivore (500 Credits)

The most well-known carnivorous dinosaur is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, though there were many species of two-legged monsters equally capable of tearing Mega-City One apart. There is little more dangerous than a rampaging T-Rex.

MoveAgilityShootMeleeMelee DiceWillArmourHits
Large Carnivore8”-2-+62D-+525
Type: Illegal Minion Equipment: Jaws

WeaponDamageAPSpecial Rules
Jaws4-5Power Shot, Smasher

Large Herbivore (300 Credits)

Dinosaurs such as the Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus fit this category, huge swamp-dwellers that became the largest creatures to ever walk the planet. Though normally placid, they are easily spooked and can become very unpredictable when scared.

MoveAgilityShootMeleeMelee DiceWillArmourHits
Large Herbivore6”-4-+44D-+730
Type: Illegal Minion Equipment: Stomp

WeaponDamageAPSpecial Rules
Stomp6-6Smasher

Aggressive Herbivore (400 Credits)

In a world of large carnivores, it pays to be well-armoured with a foul attitude if you just eat plants. Dinosaurs such as the Triceratops evolved with armour-plating and some useful weaponry to keep predators away. These defences work well in Mega-City One.

MoveAgilityShootMeleeMelee DiceWillArmourHits
Aggressive Herbivore8”-2-+43D-+816
Type: Illegal Minion Equipment: Horns

WeaponDamageAPSpecial Rules
Horns3-6Parry, Power Shot, Smasher

Dino Rampage
This scenario allows you to bring dinosaurs into your games of Judge Dredd, be they taking place within the city, Cursed Earth or some far off alien moon! One or more dinosaurs has intruded into your force’s territory and must be seen off before it causes too much damage.
Forces
You can choose any campaign force to face off against the dinosaurs. You must choose a number of dinosaurs to face, their combined Credits equalling or exceeding that of your force.
Set Up

As with most games of Judge Dredd, aim to get as much terrain on the table as possible – do not make it easy for yourself, or we will bring in flying dinosaurs, and you won’t like that!
Place the dinosaurs in the middle of the table, no more than 6” away from one another. You must then deploy your entire force, at least 12” away from a dinosaur and no more than 18” away.
The dinosaurs have the first Phase of the game.
Special Rules

Dinosaurs are somewhat unpredictable but they rarely have a pleasant attitude. At the start of every dinosaur Phase, roll a die for each dinosaur, apply the listed modifiers and consult the table below to see what they do.

Die RollDinosaur Actions
2 or lessSpooked
3-4Confused
5-7Irritated
8 or moreRampage!

+1 Lost one or more Hits last Turn
-1 Reduced to half of starting Hits
+2 Has Line of Sight to one or more of the force’s models
-2 Is a Large Herbivore
+2 Is a Large Carnivore or Aggressive Herbivore
-1 A Psi Talent was used on it last Turn
-1 Was Confused last Turn
+1 Was Irritated last Turn
-2 If attacked by a Fire weapon

Spooked: The dinosaur sees something it really does not like. It will take two Move actions to move as fast as possible away from the closest model it has Line of Sight to. Failing that, it will move directly away from the closest model.
Confused: The dinosaur tries to figure out where it is. It does not take any actions and will go on Alert Status. It will perform a Melee action against the first enemy model that completes an action within its Move, regardless of whether it has Line of Sight to that model.
Irritated: The dinosaur is getting testy and the slightest provocation may set it off. As it is, it merely follows its instincts, eating whatever is close by or trying to move little creatures off its territory. It will perform two Melee actions this Turn, chasing after the nearest enemy model that is in Line of 
Sight. If no enemy is in Line of Sight, it will instead become Confused.
Rampage!: The dinosaur is angry! It will perform three Melee actions this Turn, chasing after the nearest enemy model that is in Line of Sight. If no enemy model is in Line of Sight, it will simply go after the nearest enemy model.

Victory

You gain victory if you manage to destroy the dinosaurs or get them to run off the battlefield. Any other result is a loss and you must try to patch up your force after the dinosaurs have run through it!


I can't imply how exited I am to paint some dinosaurs. I already have some lizardmen Warhammer monsters that I feel would be cool representations of some Cursed Earth Dinosaurs. So watch this space.

Have you tried this mission? Are you play Dredd at all, drop me a comment below.

Miniature Monday // 1987 GW Talisman Pirate

Something a little bit different this week as I delve into the past. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 1987 Talisman Dungeon Pira...