Tuesday, 14 February 2017


So I had some great ideas for a play on words for the title, as I usually do, like...

Cadia is falling, Cadia is falling!
...but it felt like it really needed the picture to get the idea across so I stuck with the actual title of the book and used the lack of funny title to add some pointless but entertaining content to this post.  Classic...

Before I get into the story and the rules, I want to take a couple paragraphs to talk about the quality of the book.  It's a hard cover book, like many of the codex's, it's got some neat holographic lettering, but the picture is not raised or textured like many of the other codex's.  Good quality paper, well made, all the things you are used to seeing in a Games Workshop book.

Pictures.  Lets talk about these cause I have a rant and a rave.  Lets start with the rave, the artwork is fantastic.  There is a host of new artwork, along with some of the great iconic artwork from the original Eye of Terror campaign, as well as old art from any and everywhere.  With all the amazing art, i have to say that my favourite is probably the depiction of the Eye on 4-5 with the overlay of the Chaos symbols.
Now what is the deal with the dioramas?  I didn't really notice anything was amiss with the pics until about halfway through the book.  I was drooling over them and fan-boying out all over the place, probably the same as you.  Then I noticed something.  Every single picture has the exact same aesthetic.  Over the shoulder of the bad guys, into the face of the good guys, harsh coloured light originating from behind the good guys other wise fairly dark, smoke, everyone neatly lined up ready to deliver and receive the charge.
I understand that the underlying theme of the book is focused on the Imperial characters and the defence of Cadia, but none of the pictures seem to give the impression of fear, desperation, and panic that saturates the story.  It also tends to blur the vision a little as it makes it harder for me to focus on any of the details looking into the sea of faces.  Maybe it's just me, but the pictures actually started to look plain and uninteresting.

So, the book opens with a spoken word poem titled "The Dreamer".  After reading it I have determined that the dreamer is St Celestine although I'm a little confused as to how this works.  What is she?  I had assumed that she was a physical person that continually, miraculously, regenerated after having been killed on the battlefield.  Much the same way that a Perpetual would (see John Gramaticus and Vulcan).  Instead we find that she lies in some sort of stasis in another realm until she is needed and then she goes forth to eliminate the enemy.  Yet every time this happens, she looses a little bit of herself.  Or maybe it's not her, and if that's the case, who the hell is it?  Or maybe I'm batshit crazy...

I'm gonna skip the Age of Darkness cause we already know just how shitty this universe is.  Grim Dark and such.

Chapter 1: The Shadow Descends
Here the story starts in earnest.  "In the Grip of War" briefly goes over the opening assault of the 13th Black Crusade, which has already happened.  It has crippled the Navy and pounded Cadia with all the usual nastiness that Chaos is known for.  Plagues, bombardments, corruption, assault, and taint are all typical weapons found in Chaos's tool box.  Especially taint, Chaos loves the taint.
This opening scene ends with Creed getting a smashed Astral Choir Beacon Jerry rigged up so he can watch re-runs of Happy Days, and send a desperate plea for help, killing 99% of all the Astropaths hooked up to it.  He didn't use enough duct tape.

The story then jumps to "Tatooine" where Belisarius Cawl is digging up some "Buried Secrets" all while being harassed by Orks.  The planet is actually called Eriad VI and, we find out, was abandoned when Abaddon's Fourth Black Crusade swept the surrounding area.  Cawl is about to give up and leave the planet to the Orks when an Eldar woman, whom actually showed up IN HIS forge on Mars telling him to take his precious cargo to it's long intended destination (whatever that means), shows up again and tells him to keep digging.  Her name is Sylandri Veilwalker and she talks about dancers learning new moves, like cramping or something, so I'm guessing she is a Harlequin.

We are now moved to Trazyn's museum where the Bell of Saint Gerstahl gives "A Dolorous Warning" by ringing 13 times.  Each time it rings it not only gets louder, but it causes extensive amounts of damage to Trazyn's Vaults which causes him to toss the thing into the Webway like it's the recycling bin.
Saint Gerstahl was part of a prophesy that says the Saint will rise again when the Eye of Darkness opens for the last time.  Well, during Abaddon's 3rd Black Crusade, the Saints remains were destroyed, potentially ending the prophesy.
This perks Trazyn's interest and he heads to the Celestial Orrery, which is like Cerebro from X-Men, and finds that Cadia is the wellspring of the galaxies woes.  How poetic.  He then has an inner monologue where he hopes to find an ally and head off to Cadia.  All he can think of is the Xenos Inquisitor Valeria who is dead, but it gives him an idea and he heads off looking for one of his Vaults.

Yet again, the story takes us somewhere other than Cadia.  Cadia is in this book right?  Instead, we get this ridiculous story on how Shon'tu, Warsmith of the Iron Warriors, and Be'lakor manage to open a warp rift right into the Imperial Fists battle fortress Phalanx.  This thing is so massive that they are currently using it as a home world and it just so happens to reside in the Sol System, which is where Terra is.  If they can fucking open a door right outside Terra then why the hell doesn't Abaddon just do that?  There doesn't seem to be any kind of price paid, or penalty imbued in order to have this rift opened, and the only thing that saves the Imperial Fists (for now) is they use the weapons of the battle station to shoot off a section of it's self that contains the majority of the Iron Warriors.  Captain Tor Garadon then gets the great idea to jump into the warp and just drive is whatever direction they are pointing with Be'lakor and a ton of Daemons still on board.  You know, lets jump into the place where are enemies are strongest.
It takes the appearance of the Legion of the Damned to save every ones asses but it was the perfect plot hook because as soon as they were about to turn around and head home they manage to receive the message sent by Creed and his duct tape soup can phone, and the Damned tag along for the ride.
You mean like writers and their terrible plot hooks?
Finally we return to Cadia with "The Might of the Despoiler" bearing down on the lynch pin fortress world, and he brought the last know Blackstone Fortress, Will of Eternity.  Now it says that few knew of Abaddon's true purpose of destroying Cadia, and few cared.  Except for us, the reader, who will have to wait still.  Now the number of ships coming out of the warp must be ridiculous because it says that Abaddon could have lost 10 times the number before it even sparked his notice.  Where the fuck are all these ships coming from?  How is it that Abaddon just so happened to have a fucking armada big enough to pretty much ignore when his "...rimward flank evaporated beneath sustained nova cannon fire."?  Lets set that aside cause we got bigger fish to fry.
Ever since the last crusade in which Abaddon used the power of the Blackstone Fortress, the mechanicum had furiously worked to devise an anti-warp beam shield, which just so happened to get smashed during the first siege.  In an attempt to delay the Will of Eternity long enough for the Tech-priests to fix the Null Shield, Sven Bloodhowl of the Space Wolves loaded up his ship, Firemane's Fang, with a bunch of Space Marines and board the fortress.
Creed gave motivational speeches.
The time comes and the Blackstone Fortress dumps a load of warp laser on Cadia, but the beam breaks upon the shield and everyone rejoices.  Except for Magos Klarn who know that some alien scum killed all his priests and fixed the shield.  Bastards.
We also get a rather long text message from Richelieu telling us the penal world St Josmane's has erupted in rebellion.

"The Siege of Cadia Secondus" goes into more detail of the assault.  Since the Will of Eternity can't get the job done they gotta get boots on the ground.  This part of the story reads pretty much like any other bolter porn story, except with not enough detail to make it feel engaging, but enough detail to still get your heart beating.
There are a handful of specific areas talked about.  The downed battle ship Sword of Defiance is assaulted time and again by World Eaters but it isn't until the Terminus Est begins dropping payloads of virus bombs that the Dark Angels decide it's time to leave.  Unfortunately the only place for them to go was directly into the jaws of the World Eaters who awaited them in the plains.
The Shrine of Saint Morrican is defended by the Order of Our Martyred Lady.  The shrine eventually falls when a trio of Lords of Skulls show up and start spewing their gakk all over the place.  Two of the beasts are destroyed by Cannoness Genevieve and a squad of Retributors who Melta one to death which kills it's neighbour when it goes super nova.
The fortress of Kasr Kraf, which contained three rings of curtain walls that defend it's central keep.  Held mainly by Astra Militarum, it seems to be the central structure to which the surrounding areas fall back to.  The first wall falls due to a breach from Baneblade bombardment, the second because Nurgle rotted the mechanism and it couldn't close.  As things began to look desperate, or I guess more desperate, and morale low, Creed left the safety of the command bunker.  Being the ever inspirational leader he is he spends time with the soldiers, actually even fighting with them firing a borrowed lasgun.
While Creed kept the west side in check, the east was being held together but the remnants of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, Dark Angels, and Space Wolves whom all have retreated to this locale. However there isn't much they can do when the Legios Vulcanum come knocking.  Fortunately the the 119 airborne sacrifice themselves in a daring attempt to stop the Warlord Titan Vessel of Damnation and succeed as the last surviving pilot crashed the flier right into the damn things face.  Now it just so happens that through some horrible evilness the traitor Princeps Malas Tiron is able to control the entire Legio of titans and when that Valkrie crashed into the Warlords head it stunned him, which in turn stunned all of the titans giving the good guys a chance to kill a few before the titans regained control.

Urkanthos, the guy on the right.
At this point we are introduced to Urkanthos, one of Abaddon's BFF's who happened to gain prince hood as the Black Fleet approached Cadia by winning a difficult space battle.  Yep, Khorne blessed this guy cause he blew up some space ships.  Anyway, he teleports in, leading the Hounds of Abaddon looking to smash the Kriegan Gates

Thus begins "The Fall of Kasr Kraf" and another thing that irks me.  Urkanthos and the Hounds of Abaddon can take the Krieger Gate but they can't manage to run right over an Aegis line?  I don't care who's manning it.  If the Cadian 8th are that damn good, why the fuck weren't they on the wall defending the gate?  Urkanthos over extends his assault thinking he can do what Abaddon couldn't and claim victory for himself instead of doing what Abaddon sent him to do, which is destroying the null shield preventing the Blackstone fortress from melting everything on the planet.  Thanks to the Baneblade Vicanthrus, he is able to detach himself from the grind and play to the mission.  He runs over a bunch of conscripts and Sisters of Battle and gets stymied for a bit on a couple of Cannoness's but slays them as well.  Not before the writers blunder over Genevieve's head-butt to Urkanthos while he has her by the throat, after he snaps her spine.  Think about the biology and physics of that.  That's 2 sciences against the writer.

The whole time this has been happening, the damn Black Templar have been defending this pile of rubble, having refused to fall back when everyone else did.  They now seem to realise they done fucked up.  They are out in the middle of nowhere defending a completely useless point, completely surrounded, while their allies are getting slaughtered.  So they load up in the Thunderhawk and crash landed it right in the face of the main battle, jump out and start laying waste.

Also, a mysterious shadowy figure sends out some nanites that take over the Baneblade and force it to shoot into the Chaos forces saving the newly arrived Black Templar...yeeeeaaaahhhhh...

"The Echoes of the Past" take us back to Belesarius Cawl and he finally uncovers what he has been digging up.  Identical pylons to the ones on Cadia, but these ones have been bombed to shit.  We find out that these pylons keep the Warp from spilling out of the Eye, and that there are several other planets with these pylons, all of which were carpet bombed by Abaddon during his many Crusades.  Here I am going to plug an older post called "History Repeats Itself".  It's a look back at all 12 of Abaddon's Crusades and what he accomplished during each.  You can now add "Blows up pylons that keep the warp at bay."

Chapter 2: The Fires of Salvation
"The Emperor's Light" shines on Cadia this hour and delivers St. Celestine.  Cannon-balling in like a bat out of hell and cutting down heretics like a farmer cuts wheat.  Now, I need to discuss this a bit more and by discuss I mean talk to myself while I type.  The story says that she was like a beacon to 2 ships full of sisters that had been lost in the warp for 1400 years.  Was she also in a ship?  Was it just her essence that caught the attention of these 2 ships?  Was she flying through the warp on her own?  So many questions...no answers.  Then there is the little story where Urakanthos goes toe to toe with Saint Celestine.  Well, their pre-fight chat anyway.  Here's a hint, Urkanthos dies.
The sister's aren't the only timely reinforcements though as the Phalanx breaks back into reality and takes on the entire Black Fleet driving through them all right to the heart and smashing a giant fucking hole into the Will of Eternity.  The Imperial Fists also have a couple t-hawks that take out the warlord titan Vessel of Damnation.  With that, Chaos needs to take a breather.

With the break in battle, St Celestine takes the time to head up the cremation of the dead.  Meanwhile, Cawl shows up with the "Clarion of Truth" in that the pylons are a means to end this war.  So the new plans of "defend the pylons" were drawn up.
There is an interesting little ditty involving Cawl and Trazyn who, ironically, has more personality than the Archmagos.  It was Trazyn who was the cloaked figure controlling the Baneblade, and he shows up again to show Cawl how to use the pylons.  He was there when they were erected after all.

Thus began the "Battle of the Elysion Fields".  Several pages of great heroic deeds against all odds, completely surrounded by the enemy yada yada yada, Abaddon teleports, kills Kell, who manages to push Creed onto the emergency Valkrie just in the nick of time.
Back to Cawl, with Trazyn directing him, he learns the secret of the pylons only to get assaulted by Abaddon.  Thank the lord that Trazyn tosses out a Pokeball and releases an entire army of Heresy dated Ultramarines, Vostroyans, Tanith, Salamanders, a Custode, and Inquisitor Greyfax.  We never hear from the Custode again.

Chapter 3: The Chime of Midnight
As the battle rages, Cawl sets to work getting the pylons working, and Abaddon realizes what is going on.  Pissed at himself for not just bombing the shit out of the planet and levelling the pylons from space, he re-doubles his efforts only to come face to face with St. Celestine, dramatic music sounds and epic battle begins.  It doesn't last long as the pylons begin to power up and suck all the magic out of the world.  All the daemons being to melt, daemon engine and possessed are destroyed as the daemons are ripped from their shells, but so to with the emperor's light.  Being a psychic beacon, the Emperor's "Divine" power is still fuelled by the warp and it's loss is felt by nearly everyone.
Lets take a minute to talk about this because it made me think REAL hard about everything I thought I knew.  The Emperor's blessings, powers, abilities, his own and those granted to others, are all fuelled by the warp.  The land of the daemons and gods of which he not only denied the existence of, is now in eternal battle with.  Go back and read Flight of the Eisenstein, when Keeler becomes the first Saint, that's daemon power she is using.  Even Celestine's powers are of the immaterium and lessen and the pylons reboot.  Until now, I had always suspected that the Emperor's follower's faith in him was fuelled by something divine and almost "anti-warp", if that makes sense.  This also gives me a really good understanding as to why Greyfax hates Celestine and all the worshipping the Emperor bullshit.  It's almost as if she can see that Warp energies are flowing through Celestine.
Back to Abaddon and Celestine, as their otherworldly powers are sucked from their bodies, the fight swings back heavily in Abaddon's favour.  While he no longer has the blessings of the gods, he's still one of the greatest Astartes to have ever existed and Celestine is a human shell.  Just as he is about to cut her down, Greyfax grabs him in a psychic bind just long enough for the Cadian 8th to throw their lives away to save their beloved Saint.  Denied that kill, Abaddon goes into blender mode and makes his way to Creed, he even gets the Talon on him before Celestine stabs him in the back.  All this time Trazyn is upset he couldn't "catch" Abaddon, and Greyfax can't believe what a bunch of worshippers everyone has turned out to be, especially since she is from a time when the Emperor was NOT a god and to think so was heresy.

With the pylons activated, Abaddon doesn't have time to muck about any more and teleports out before he can't teleport at all, remember teleportation requires use of the warp to pull off.  He now enacts the "Manhattan Project" and throws a chunk of the destroyed Blackstone Fortress at Cadia.  This is not the first time he threw a ship at something, if you remember in the Talon of Horus, he threw a ship at an Emperor's Children city when he went to confront Fabius Bile and the Horus clone.

Cadia dies but for those still on the planet, it's time to abandon ship, cause the death of a world happens in slo-mo.  Creed is not much up to the task as he gapes like a fish, and Celestine is a sorcerous witch, so Greyfax takes up command and starts issuing orders of "Run for your life!"  Of course with the enemy still nipping at their heels, Creed is roused from his stupor and vows to give the survivors enough time to escape and turns the Cadian 8th around to fight one last time and stays behind, and presumably dies, but we can't really believe that as we never see his actual death.

Of the original 850 million residents of Cadia, a mere 3 million limped off the planet, guarded by the Phalanx as they sought safety from the Black Fleet and nearly 1/6th of them survived their travels before it was determined safe for warp travel.  Unfortunately for them Abaddon finds out they have some relic aboard one of the ships that he wants and 10 Black Fleet ships materialise from the warp within firing range.  The timing was perfect as many of the Imperial ships were too close to warp jump to stop the countdown, this left the mechanics ships to their own fate.  Not able to warp jump due to damaged Gellar fields Cawls ship, Iron Revenant, fled with the Vengeful Spirit in hot pursuit closing fast.  The Vengeful Spirit soon overtook it's prey and in its death throes, a number of transport managed to escape, using the dying ship as cover making their way to Klaisus, a nearby ice world.

Celestine led the way through the snow storms, much to Greyfax's chagrin.  There was some end goal unknown to the others, but ever onward she urged but to no avail.  The Black Legion caught up to them in their LAND RAIDERS!?!  Are you fucking kidding me?  This makes is sound like they are traversing the Pass of Caradhras from Lord of the Rings, not a fucking freeway.  Anyway, the Land Raider's door opens, out steps Abaddon chasing the Imperial refugees right into the arms of a whole god damn army of Eldar.  Ulthwe, Commorragh Wytches, Biel-Tan, and many more.  Just behind them stands an open Webway gate.

And that's the end of the story.  It's about time actually as I was getting a little annoyed with the writing.  The story was amazing, but if I had to hear about one more time the good guys were almost over run only to be saved at the last second by some plot device and then regroup and push back at the inspiring presence of some hero I was going to scream "BANANA!"(Safe word)

Speaking of rules...

We start off with some funny mission stuff.  There are the Empyric Storm events and the Echoes of War missions, which are all fun and "fluffy" and should definitely be played with a friend in your basement.

Then there is Belesarius Cawl.  This dude is one tough hombre and force multiplier for any Mechanicum army.  To start, he is durable with T6, W5 and a 2+ save, he also has FNP that he can re-roll and he regains D3 wounds just because.  His wargear is extensive and excels at killing just about everything.  He has the Arc Scourge is a CCW that has re-rollable Haywire, a power axe, the Mechadendrite Hive that gives him an additional 2D6 attacks at S4 and I10, and the Solar Atomizer which is a 12" gun S10, AP1, Assault D3 Melta.  I also said he was a force multiplier and he comes with his own mini brand of "Canticles" that include IWND, an Invul save, and BS increases.  All that for 200 points.

My new vision of "Saint" Celestine, the Emperor's Angel of Death
Speaking of 200 points, Celestine, The Living Saint is the same points cost but she isn't alone.  She has the 2 Geminae Superia with her at all times, which are Genevieve and Elenore, the 2 Cannoness that were slain by Urkanthos.  They form a bit of a mish-mash unit with a handful of different saves and equipment.  Celestine has a 2+ armour save, Eternal Warrior, and 5 wounds and a 4+ Invul save while the Geminae have a 3+ save with a 4++, 2 wounds but no Eternal Warrior, all wounds are allocated to them first, AND at the start of each turn one of them comes back to life if she is dead.  These 3 form a unit which can then join other units like an IC.  As for weapons, Celestine has a Relic Blade, Heavy Flamer, and an Orbital Strike while the Geminae have pistols and power swords.  She still has her resurrection power, but it only works once, as well as hit and run and Fearless, topping off all her special rules is the Saintly Blessings which is a set of one time use abilities that boost the effectiveness of a specific battle field role.  For example, one gives all Troop units 6+ FNP or +1 to their FNP if they already have it.

And because GW can't go 3/3
Welcome to the 41st millennium Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax.  Now I shouldn't be so mean because for 150 points, she is not a bad choice if you can't manage to get that extra 50 points to get Cawl or Celestine.  She comes with some awesome wargear, a Condemnor bolt gun and power sword (both master-crafted), and psych-out grenades.  She is a level 2 psyker, despite having preferred enemy psykers, and can generate 2 powers from Telepathy and she gets her own special power that stops running, turbo-boosting, and shooting overwatch and can be boosted to become a bubble.  Pretty good vs Tau and their "everyone" can shoot overwatch, Dark Angels who can overwatch at standard BS, and Eldar who love to turbo-boost their damn jet-bikes all over the damn place.  Her strongest ability however has got to be her Warlord Trait preventing ANY infiltrators from being set up within 24" of her.

There are a handful of formations and detachments next, but as I don't play any of these armies I am not going to waste your (or my) time in pretending that I know what i'm talking about.  The Conclave Acquisitorius looks like a version of the War Convocation that could be good.  You can take more than one knight, every one gets Canticles of the Omnissiah, every character can upgrade one weapon to be master-crafted, and if you have the maximum number of units (which doesn't look too hard to do) everyone gets the Doctrina Imperatives (I have no idea what that is) from the Skitarii book.  I also want to bring your attention to the Castellans of the Imperium Detachment, this thing embodies the whole "Imperial Soup".  You can take just about any, and everything, AND all your troops choices go into Ongoing reserves after they die (on a successful 5+ roll).

Lets talk relics...
We get 2 new sets of Relics, one set is centred around Cawl and the other around Celestine.  I'm not going to go through them all cause I'm tired, and I have been writing this article for like 2 weeks now...so I'll just hit the highlights.

The Memento-Mortispex allows the bearer to grant either BS 2 overwatch, monster hunter, tank hunter, or sky fire to himself and his unit at the start of each turn until the start of his next turn.  Omnissiah's Grace is the Mark of Tzeentch.  Saint Curia's Autopurger sounds ridiculous, but it causes the entire enemy unit locked in combat with the bearer to pass a Toughness test at I10 or suffer a wound.  Considering that a "Bark Bark Star" with something like 40 Wolves made it to the finals at LVO, this might be a 25 point deterrent to having that unit get too close to you.

The Castigator sounds like a tool that beef farmers would use, but it's actually an AP2 pistol that ignores Invul saves.  While Desvalle's Holy Circle creates a 12" no Deep Strike zone, and if someone happens to scatter into that 12", MISHAP!

So there we have it, holy fuck was that long.  It might not have been quite as long as the Traitor Legions review, but I was way more excited to do that book.  Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and as always...

Keep them dice rollin!