Cadian Blood: Book Review

I have to admit, I haven't read much of the Black Library's Guard Fiction outside of the Ghosts novels. When a bar is set as high as Dan Abnett has set writing for the Imperial Guard in the 40K Universe, how can you keep from being hesistant? Maybe even jaded, i.e. too much of a good thing, nothing compares even remotely...

Cadian Blood by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is, without a doubt, a "fanboy" book. If you're unfamiliar with the 40K setting the import of some of the situations -- namely the 13th Black Crusade -- won't mean as much. But that being said, there are no other negatives to report on this phenomenal story! It's an action movie in a book with just enough horror laced through to cement the gothic horror that is the 41st millenium.

The Cadians are fleshed out brilliantly -- with their genetic heritage of violet or blue eyes, with a distinct dialect, and with great characters you don't want to see blown away -- staying true to their bad ass character without making them into super heroes, and that includes the Kasrkins. They're shown to be the special forces kick-ass element that they are, without being cheesy or trying to sell product for the tabletop.

The way Space Marines are handled is exactly how they should be written; you'll have to read the book to fully get what I mean by that, but all the appropriate awe, mystique, fear and inspiration their presence provides is conveyed with zero cheese. And The treatment of Chaos, especially Nurgle's brand, is done with enough detail to disgust and inspire model making but not enough to be over the top. There isn't the full on horror elements you'd find reading a Guant's Ghost novel, but when a Primary Target identifies itself in the form of a Death Guard Marine wading through the cultists and undead around it, the excitement, terror and exhilaration of the Cadians is palpable. Great novel.


Big gaming weekend!

WOW! Awesome weekend of gaming! It was like a junior "con!" There was:

And there was:

And then there was:

And then MORE:

I can't say enough about Conquest of the Empire except where do I buy it. It's from the same 80's family that spawned Axis and Allies, Fortress America, Shogun etc. Great, easy to learn rules, smooth gameplay, excellent simple to understand and execute dice based combat system. Just all around fun experience with that one. Thanks Casey and Cain and Mick for the lesson!

First real D&D game I've had since the 90's when there was a substantially larger group of us playing. Special thanks to our DM Casey for dealing with three players under 13 (my kids), and for putting some great spins on a dungeon crawl! That was well done! I think the intent is for this D&D game to blossom into a campaign, drop-ins are welcome!

The Joy Vacuum

"If you're going to be serious about this, you need to take serious steps." "If you're going to move forward, you have to committ yourself to what needs to get done." "If you don't have that, you really have no right to be in here in the first place."

What do those sound like to you? A serious talk between professional corporate baby boomers? A fast food restaurant manager trying to encourage some level of professionalism from a modern teen? An acting coach or agent speaking to an aspiring performer? An editor addressing a writer on a submission? If only they were spoken in those contexts, those scenarios would garner some modicum of respect or even a bland acceptance; boss speak, manager speak, corporate speak, condescension, call it what you like. Only these sentences weren't heard by me in a boardroom, or a professional kitchen or in an office, this is how some raiding gear snob gamer addressed aspiring raiders in my guild the other night after a few wipes in some "older" level 80 raid.

I knew I was in trouble when the guild was assigned video homework in order to do a raid! -- as if the guild is somehow paying for the two accounts I maintain or paying me a wage or something. "Sorry boss, I can't come into work today, I have to memorize this raid." "Sorry honey, I know you made dinner, but you and the kids go ahead, this raid is REALLY IMPORTANT to get right!" "I know we were going to go out, but I had a real shot at those level 264 boots and I had to be sure I got my DPS rotation right" "I know I told you I would read you that story but you have to understand how important this video game is! I have to research this raid!" "I realize I have to look for a job mom, but c'mon! If I can get this raid right it will make the monthly subscription toally worth it!"

Now don't get me wrong, raiding is part of the game. Questing, Player vs Player and Raiding. Ya can't get around it. However, especially lately, Blizzard and their minions have made raiding a key part of the game if you want, like, really goofy looking cartoon gear with a purple heading and outrageous statlines so you can sit for 20 minutes at a time clicking your hard earned, well thought out rotation and smack the same monster over and over and over and over again while someone "heals" you. Oh this is HIGH drama and quality fantasy gaming we're talking about here!! Kind of like the emotional, intellectual and story driven action involved in a game of Space Invaders, or even Defender! What kind of gaming experience compares with standing within a graphic of a monster and hitting it repeatedly while monitoring a dozen "add-ons" that let you know everyone else is doing the same thing you are, or ensuring you can keep doing what you're doing.

But my bullshit tolerance was breached when the participating guildees and I got a lecture from some limp cock tank about raiding and moving the guild forward, about comittment, about time management and about being serious. My guts gave a small lurch when my guildees responded with sad, solemn humilty to this sad sack's diatribe and acted on it. Are you kidding me? Are people really that debased? Is it really that simple? Really?


Who toys!

I don't have to lament being too old to play with toys, I don't have to confine myself to toy soldiers in cerebral wargames, because I got really cool children!! Here's my son's latest acquisition happily bought by me and mom for a report card that blew us away! These aren't one plain model repainted over and over to resemble a certain era in the show, these are separate and gorgeous recreations. Must have for collectors or just really fun to play with! The title of this blog is a link to WhoNA (Who North America). They don't have everything, but their stock is huge and their delivery is fast!


Best 50cents I ever spent

With the advent of d20 rule systems everywhere, what happened to the rest of those dice?

Here's a piece of gaming brilliance from the early part of the 21st century!!(2003) I found this at a flea market in central Illinois for a dollar -- marked down to 50cents! Good luck finding it for less than 50bucks now on ebay or Amazon. It's been out of print for a number of years, which is a shame, because you can tell they were poised to release new rules and expansion teams.

With easy to master rules and dice that are color coded to the players' bases, which in turn reflects the speed and power of thier positions, i.e. a runner gets a d20 and a tackle gets a d6, one's potentially fast as hell, but the lower dice roll makes the tackle happen. Brilliant.

Can't afford to invest in Blood Bowl? Have kids that would rather watch grass grow than play Monopoly or Life? This game is well paced, simply ruled, has great looking minitaures, a simple but cool background and futuristic setting so as to necessitate "carnage markers" (Blood, mechanical parts and uniform bits from cybernetic players) and takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to play. 50 cents well spent! Unbelievable shame it died a quiet death on the toy store shelves!