Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Imperial Armour 8

My copy of IA:8, Raid on Kastorel-Novem arrived in the mail today, and here are my thoughts on it.

The same format is used here as in all IA books, the large hardcover with lots of colour pages and a detailed story of a campaign fought by the forces of the Imperium against (in this case) Orks.
The story itself tells of the attempt of the Impreial forces to disrupt a building Waaaagh by attacking the facilities of Boss-Mek Buzzgob, chief Mek to the soo-to-be Waaagh's Warlord. This includes the Elysians and the Raven Guard.

The story is written from multiple perspectives of a few characters, and each gets a little part of each battle jumping back and forth - it is well written and keeps the narrative flowing nicely and it reads quickly. This is a good contrast to the Vraks books - they were about sieges and this is a lightning raid, so it is good to have some punchier writing here.

Not to spoil it too much but, as in every IA book so far, it doesn't go to plan and the Imperials get their behinds handed to them for the most part. Now I know most fiction is Imperial-centric but come on Forge World guys, the whole "Imperials fight, get mired down and eventually get broken and retreat" bit is getting repetitive:

IA3: Taros - Imperials soundly defeated by the Tau - Marines repeatedly fail to do anything.
IA4: Anphellion - Imperials wiped out by 'nids, save the Marines who wander around, kill some Genestealers, get shot down, then leave.
IA5-7: Vraks - Imperial victory, but barely. Marines do rather well.
Tactica Aeronautica - Imperial Forces destroyed, Tau also destroyed, Imperial production severely disrupted - Tau minor victory.
IA8 - (This one) Imperials attack and get wiped out (they have a postscript where the survivors of this one have another go at the same Orks and get doubly wiped out of good measure).

Maybe because I'm primarily an Imperial player but I felt really dissapointed that they took a good concept - Imperium on the offence against aliens - but turned it into an Imperial defence story by having them screw it up. I'd like to read about the tactics of the elite airborne Elysians doing cool stuff like dropping from Valks and taking the fight to the enemy, not them digging in agianst the unstoppable hordes and getting shot down all the time...

But I digress - the book is not badly written by any stretch, but it feels far too samey with another "stupid Imperials underestimate their foes" story to rate the background very highly.

The army lists in this book are the updated Elysian Drop Troops list and a varient Ork Dred-mob list. The Raven Guard do not have their own list, but a new Captain as a special character.

The Elsyian list brings them into line with the current IG codex, including orders and streamlining wargear and removing doctrines. It is very similar to the IG list, but everyone can take Valkyries, Deep Strike and access to heavy weapons is more limited. Support Sentinels have been removed, effectively replaced by the new Tauros vehicles in their role. The Tauros buggy has a Heavy 2 grenade launcher of heavy flamer, and the bigger Venator has multi-lasers or lascannons.
The new Valkyrie Sky Talon can transport the bigger vehicle, and looks pretty nifty - I imagine it wil lget some more cargo options down the line.

The Elysian list is ok, nothing too radical aside from the new vehicles so pretty much what I expected. The only downside is a mis-print (which has been confirmed as such by FW) where the Hardened Veterans have a BS of 3 instead of 4. That's pretty bad, even by FW's standards (which otherwise seem better than normal).

The Ork list is the real gem of this book - a Mek's own private army. The HQ's are a Boss-Mek, a Pain-Boss, and a Super Mek-Dred. All are very flavourful and fun looking. The rules for the Mek's Kustom Force Field are also written very clearly to establish that the save does not work in Assault, so points there Forge World.

Options for this list are all themed along Meks - Boyz get Meks instead of Nobz, Deff Dreads are troops (and come in mobz of 1-3), you can get Burnaz, Lootaz, Kanz, Defffcoptaz as well as Trukks which come with armour plates as standard, but loose being fast.
New units include the 'Chinork', a big transport 'copter (effectively a fast, AV10 skimmer), Grot Tanks (random movement, but can always shoot their weapons), and a host of big vehicles.

With then new plastic kits and AoBR making it possible to field an almost all plastic army (save some resin and teh mek [though you could kitbash those]) I see this list being used a fair bit of all the FW lists.

A bonus included in the Ork section are the Build-a-Stompa rules from White Dwarf, as well as rules for the trio of Super Heavy tanks recently released and some Battlewagon variants using the FW pieces. Also useful is a compiled page for all the different Orkish weapons by category such as Kannons, Rokkits and Bombs and Zzappas and Lasers. A couple get little comments, such as a dissmissive "Pah!" after Grot Gunz, adding to the flavour.

So the Elysian list is good, but not anything more than expected, and the Ork list is worth the price of the book if you're a fan of da Boyz.

The missions in the back of the book are all rather inventive - they have restricted Force Org charts and often will have different requirements as minimums than the standard 1 HQ, 2 Troops. They also have a number of special characters hidden away there - a Command Tauros buggy (with bonus rules for Apoc), a pair of Elysian Captains and a Pair of Ork Warbosses (one Goff, one Death Skulls).
Well worth looking over, but to play they need to be planned for as the different charts really prohibit pick up play.

The book also comes with a poster with a portrait of Buzzgob by Paul Bonner (who's Ork art from Rogue Trader I love) and a 'know your enemy' style picture of Goff troops and vehicles, as seen above. It comes folded, which is fine for the Goff side but if you want to display the Mek side without creases you should get a second one as they come rolled (at least they used to, doesn't say either way on the site).
The artwork throughout is the usual Forge World minis looking like photos than photos of minis style, and they did a great job with the Orks and the ruins. The orkish illustrations are really fun and characterful - you get the feeling this should be called "Armour of Gork (or possibly Mork) 1: Defence of Mekslag-ikks" the way the book is skewed.
Not that that's a bad thing though!

The foreword mentions that they decided to split the Orks into two books clan wise, this one is Deth Skulls, Goffs and Evil Sunz (who get a biker boss character to go with the FW mini), and a forthcoming one will be Bad Moonz, Blood Axes and Snakebites.

In summary the book is good, but only if you either play Elysians/Harakoni (or really want the rules for the new vehicles) or to an Ork fan. If you like Orks this book has lots and lots of gubbins for you. If you're just looking for some background with no pressing interest in the two forces I'd probably give it a miss honestly.

Story: 6/10 - Give the Imperium a break already Warren!

Imperial List: 7 / 10 - Looks good and thematic, but is retreading old ground both from IA3/4 and the Codex (which you need as well to use it).

Ork List: 9 / 10 - All the units really feel different, from Meks replacing Nobz to the little chunks of background on each.

Missions: 7 / 10 - More missions is never a bad thing.

Overall (not an average, even if it coincidentaly is): 7 / 10

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