Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Imperial Armour 11, the Doom of Mymeara

Imperial Armour Volume 11: The Doom of Mymeara is the latest addition to the IA series of books. It is the story of the invasion of the frozen Imperial world of Betalis III by a combined force of Craftworld Eldar and their Corsair brethren.

Story and Background

Like all Forge World books it is lavishly illustrated, opening with a six page full colour spread. The internal pictures are all beautifully done, and I’d say it is the best looking IA yet. The story telling is the standard after action report style of the series, and begins with the initial Corsair raids and the cat-and-mouse game between the Eldar and Imperial Guard forces as the raiders prodded and probed the seemingly random outposts before disappearing.
It soon comes to heated battle, and an Inquisitor arrives and sends a distress call to the nearby group of Space Wolves – Bran Redmaw’s great company. They arrive as the Eldar forces are on the verge of overwhelming the Imperials, and turn the tide, driving off the Xenos. But did they stop the aliens achieving their true goal..?

The story is well plotted and has plenty of twists and turns, with the Imperials giving a good showing even as they’re getting overwhelmed by the superior Eldar forces. There has been some mention of the Phantom Titans seeming underpowered against the Imperials, but to my reading is fine. The Phantom and its two Revenants are wailing on a Reaver and two Warhounds. They are driven off after the rest of the War Griffons show up – that would be five more titans of indeterminate classes, but either way I think it’s reasonable for the Phantom to retreat in the face of that.

This links in with the book’s worst aspect – it is edited terribly. I don’t mean Forge World’s usual brain-fart typos and messing up the rules, but it’s like in the rush to get it out for Christmas they didn’t have time to proof-read. For example:

“As the Nightwings, Phoenix and Vampires soared down, they were met with a tremendous firestorm of las shot and artillery shell. What heavy armour his command staff could muster, but he had not sent the young colonel into battle empty handed.”


It’s like they just cut out the beginning of the sentence, or part of the paragraph. There are a couple of other instances of this sort of thing, as well as glaring typos. Some include:

- Units being Jet Pack Infantry as their base type, but you have to pay to buy them jet packs

- Duplicating a piece of wargear in a units listing

- A superfluous mention of 0-1 and 0-2 restictions

- Webway portal wargear rules included… but nobody in the Corsair list can take it…

Etc, etc…

Now, Talima Fox’s prose is fine, but very uneven – the second paragraph of the book contains a 42 word run on sentence, and the focus on the macro and micro changes often. By this I mean that we’ll be essentially hearing a character’s life story, and then the exact details of how a battle was fought, then back to century spanning events in the next line.
The aforementioned editing issues don’t help at all either (I’m pretty sure I saw an ‘utterly decimated’ in there, but I can’t find it again). One particular example that stuck out was hearing how the Eldar were mowing through the IG forces defending a mining facility, “but it was at the entrance to the mines that the worst atrocities were committed by the Eldar.” We then read about how the mining vehicles (and militia behind them) blocking the entrance were destroyed by Fire Dragons… and that’s it. No massacre of cowering civilians, no revelling in the destruction, nothing particularly worse than what had just been described really.

Ms Fox seems to have a thing for Fire Dragons, and I can't blame her.

Compared to other IA stories, Mymeara feels short. The shortness isn’t a bad thing, the story gets to the point and never drags on or re-hashes the same type of battle over and over. Each piece of combat is different to the last, or a continuation that adds to the story rather than repeats it. In tone, aside from a few story callout boxes, it is very much a historical account. There are no real ‘character moments’ in the story. Generals command and soldiers fight, but aside from a few moments with particular notable officers or commanders (such as Bran Redmaw himself) most characters go unnamed. Whether or not this is a bad thing would be up to personal taste.

My gut instinct is that for whatever reason they cut sections out of the prose at the last minute, and didn’t have time to do a final edit before rushing off to print. I mean Forge World is renowned for its lax editing standards, but this is bad. Now you’re probably thinking it’s a terrible book – but the truth is far from it if you’re able to look past the superficial errors and enjoy the story. The ending section, written as the aforementioned Inquisitors account of a battle, is especially well done and I found neither the Eldar nor Imperials to be portrayed as weaker or too out of character.

One thing that is done very well is scale. It is an unfortunate thing that Sci-Fi writers have no sense of scale, but Talima Fox avoids this pitfall. The crapsack mining world of Betallis III still has a population of over six million, and the combats include large volumes of superheavies and huge numbers of regular vehicles. One example is that over a hundred War Walkers and five Cobras were recovered by the Imperials after the fighting – that’s just the salvage, not units engaged.

Coming back to that macro/micro thing, the Eldar section isn’t as fleshed out as I’d like – for the first real information on Corsairs in a 40k book there wasn’t much to go on about how they do things. We probably could have done without 14 pages of pictures of Space Wolf troopers and vehicles and had a couple more pages on Corsair society in my opinion. Fortunately the various Rogue Trader books have good source material on the various Corsair groups found in the Expanse, but it is a lost opportunity.

A dozen pages of this is certainly better than information about the Corsairs!

The same can be said of the Eldar special characters – namely that in a society with no gender divisions (and canon 50/50 chance of a warrior being female) it is a bit of a disappointment that neither the new Phoenix Lord, nor any of their new troopers, are female – especially from a boutique company like Forge World (and it’s not an easy prospect to convert the Shadow Spectres either). Another oddity is that none of the photos showcase the Corsair kits – they appear in the background of one or two photos, but as the new shiny toys they don’t get much play.

Army Lists and Units

First up are the Cadian regiments and a description of their notable actions. They are led by General Myndoras Odon, supreme commander of the Guard defenders. He has his own description and comes with a command squad and rules wise is Creed lite, including a special ability “Careful Planner”.
Next up is a brief discussion of the Cadian forces. It’s a generic description of Cadian forces, which seems superfluous given most people buying an Imperial Armour book would be familiar with the regiments already.
After this comes rules for the Malcador Infernus, Praetor Assault Launcher and Crassus Transport. Rules are the same as in IA: Apocalypse 2.

The Elysians get a brief write up, explaining they were hitching a ride with the Legio Gryphonicus detachment so were diverted by circumstances rather than choice. Legio Gryphonicus have a short bit of blurb, noting that one of the Reaver’s machine spirits was especially skilled at fighting the Eldar, having fought them before.

The Imperials continue with Bran Redmaw’s Great Company coming next. One point of contention I’ve noticed is that the Space Wolves are noted as a 2nd founding Chapter. It reads to me that this is meant to mean that as a Chapter they came from the 2nd founding, the Space Wolves Legion being noted as their predecessor. Regardless, it’s still a weird way of writing it.

He even gets a model before the Farseer.

The Great Company gets a lengthy write up, and the aforementioned 14 pages of pictorials.
Game play wise they aren’t any different from the regular Space Wolves, but their master certainly is. Skarvald the Troll-faced did a great write up on his rules for those interested. Story wise he’s constantly struggling against the Curse of the Wolfen, but no insight into the curse is given – it just is.

The Eldar section begins with Craftworld Mymeara, telling of their struggle to survive and the intercession of Phoenix Lord Irillyth that saved them. One interesting tidbit is that each craftword came from a single Eldar planet, so they already had separate identities from one another before the fall, explaining the different ‘personalities’ of the factions. There’s more to the Mymeara Craftworld, but that would be spoiling the story.

Alaitoc is also present, an ally of Mymeara, and has their own background section. It is odd, as half of it is dedicated to an account of defeating a Hivefleet Behemoth splinter (that macro/micro thing again), which felt too much like copying Iyandens shtick.

The Shadow Spectres and their Phoenix Lord come first unit-wise, and have undergone a few revisions since the beta rules. They’ve got an invulnerable save that varies dependant on enemy range and the Prism Rifle rules have been tweaked a little. That said the Exarch lost his ability to fire separately from the Ghostlight, so taking a Haywire Launcher does… something to the shot (rules for the Prism Blaster are included).

The combined range, rather than being 12”+12” per extra model firing is now 18”+6” per two firing models (rounding odd numbers down) in the squad. That seems overly complicated to me, as you need two to shoot 24” (as in the beta), but four to shoot 30” where four would fire 48” in the beta.
One big improvement is moving them from the clogged Heavy Support section to the Fast Attack slot. Phoenix Lord Irillyth is what you’d expect – standard statline and beefed up version of his aspect’s gear.

The second special character is Farseer Bel-Annath, supreme seer of Mymeara. He’s a combat focussed Farseer, having previously served as an Autarch after a life on the path of the warrior after a stint as an outcast. He confers Stubborn to nearby units and can optionally modify his army’s FOC, dropping two Troops in exchange for a fourth Heavy Support.

Background wise he and Irillyth have a really weird timeline. Bel-Annath was born “long after the fall”, and was a young seer when Irillyth was last seen on Mymeara. He didn’t become a seer until the second half of his life. Yet the Shadow Spectre aspect is said to have fallen into memory for all save Mymeara due to Irillyth’s disappearance. But if Irillyth was last seen by a living Eldar not noted to be especially long lived, how did everyone forget the Aspect?

Alaitoc only contacted Mymeara after Irillyth departed, and the Phoenix Lord came to the Craftworld in what seems not especially long after the fall. So either Irillyth spent nearly 10,000 years chilling on Mymeara (no wonder his shrines were abandoned…), or the timeline is seriously messed up here. Editing, people, editing…

The Corsair background is, as mentioned previously, sadly brief. The entire section for a previously unseen but oft-mentioned faction is shorter than the Space Wolve’s pictorial section (can you tell I think it was too long?). The text is only a little over a page long once you take out the pictures. Nothing about how the bands are organised, where they are supplied from, what they do with their fallen or how they prevent falling to evil. Only a brief mention of Craftworlders occasionally taking on Corsair groups they feel are too close to their dark kin.

Corsair Army List

The army list itself is very good, once you get past all the bone-headed errors plaguing it (see earlier list). You can even take a Gyrinx! The basic Corsair weapon is either the Lasblaster or Shuriken Pistol and CC weapon.


Corsair Prince (or Princess) - a cross between an Autarch and a Archon, they can be well kitted out for combat (ranged or close) and allow non-deep-striking units to do so anyway. They also get a free orbital bombardment type weapon, with three variants to choose from.
The Prince (or Princess) can take a retinue of Bladesworn Corsairs. They come equipped for close combat, but can be given more ranged/special weapons.

Void Dreamer – the Warlock equivalent. They come with three psychic powers by default, a reasonable shooting attack, a defensive power against psykers or daemons, and a morale re-roll ability. They’re nice and cheap.


Voidstorm Squad – Elite Corsairs, they come with jet packs as default, and can take more special weapons.

Harlequins – as per Codex: Coneheads, may take a Corsair Venom transport.

Craftworld Outcasts – One Codex Eldar fast attack or Elites choice. I think this is meant to be 0-1 but, despite the preamble on the subject, such a clear note is missing.

Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors – from Codex Dark Eldar.


Corsair Squad – BS 4 Guardians, they can take Shuriken Catapults if you don’t like shooting things, or Shuriken Pistols is you like dying in close combat. They can also take Jet Packs, and min-max horribly: Five guys with Jet Packs, an Eldar Missile Launcher and Fusion Gun runs you 100 points. The Jet Packs come at a flat rate, so it is more pricey to do it this way.
They also have grenades and can take a squad leader upgrade, who can be given a fusion pistol and power weapon.
Jet Packless squads can take a Corsair Venom if they number five or less, or a Falcon if they number six or less… despite a Corsiar Falcon carrying ten. Dammit Forge World!

Wasp War Walkers – Changing slightly from their beta rules, they’ve gone up 10 points but can move as Jet Pack infantry normally now. Additionally after using their special Jump Jet move (now 12”, done in lieu of shooting after normal movement) they may no longer assault or make their Jet Pack move. You can’t have more Wasp Squadrons than Corsair Squads.
Overall I think they are great units, and the Jet Pack movement more than makes up for the lack of 24” jump.

Corsair Jetbikes – BS 4 Craftworld Jetbikes, whose unit leader can be given a fusion pistol and power weapon.

Dedicated Transports

Corsair Falcon – BS 4 Falcon, transport capacity ten.

Corsair Venom – Much like the Dark Eldar version, but with Craftworld guns.

Fast Attack

Hornet Squadron – as per IA:A2

Nightwing – a fast skimmer/flyer, it is not much changed from previous version, but gains “zAerial Assault” [sic]. Dammit Forge World!

Night Spinner – same as in White dwarf

Heavy Support

Phoenix Bomber – yes, you read that right. It’s hella expensive (just under a base Land Raider), but can rain unholy destruction upon your foes. It’s only AV10 though, so you’ve got to hope those holo-fields hold up.

Warp Hunter – as per IA:A2

Fire Storm – A pretty good ranged platform with the Fire Storm Scatter Laser’s 60” range (And twin-linking).

Overall I think it’s a great, characterful list hampered by stupid errors (such as the falcon issue and lack of webway buying ability.

The Eldar Engines of Destruction section details all the Eldar vehicles, Codex and Forge World, though does not contain rules for a couple of them (Wave Serpent, regular War Walker and Wraithlord). Everything else is detailed here, including the Wraithseer and Lynx. The Phantom gains the close combat weapon option, and Warlock Titans are mentioned.

Lastly comes the obligatory missions and Apocalypse Formations. These are all standard fare, with the missions as characterful as usual, and the formations taking advantage of the latest Forge World releases save the Space Wolves, which requires 2-4 Land Raiders.

Overall the book is a rough, or perhaps cracked diamond – it had great potential, but several missteps (poor editing, uneven flow of narrative, overdosing on Space Marines against the Eldar) keep it from achieving its full potential.

It may seem I’m harping on against the Space Wolves here, but given they only play a very small part in the story and we’ve just had two volumes of All MarinesAll The Time (and this is the first appearance of the Eldar) it was a great disappointment that it was so Imperial-centric. Yes, it’s called Imperial Armour, but there are players who don’t play Imperial forces, or who would like to know more about the various Xenos races.

This is a very similar complaint to my thoughts on IA:8, Armour of Gork (or possibly Mork). The Space Marines could have been easily excised from the story and replaced with Karskin, Valhallans, or anyone really and it wouldn’t have altered the story too much.

Story and Background8/10 for concept, 6/10 for execution. Now, I’m not slamming Talima Fox here as much as it might seem. Most of the issues should have been picked up before going to print as they’re silly, avoidable errors for the most part. Her writing and concepts were good, with the only eyebrow raising moment being a bit involving a group of Wraithguard and Space Wolves which, given GW’s propensity to have one side dominate, was a welcome change.

I’d happily read another book by her, but I’d be crossing my fingers that she’d be getting more (or better) editorial guidance. For the record I’m of the opinion that writers usually make terrible self-editors, especially if they don’t have a good long break between draft and review. I know if I don’t leave something a while I’ll miss glaring mistakes in my own writing.

Layout / Graphics9/10. A very pretty book, it only lost a point for lack of art of the Corsairs. The only Eldar character page is for a Dire Avenger. It would have been good to see more of these forces as they play a large role in the story and haven’t been featured before.

Army Lists and Units - 7/10, would have been higher if not for stupid mistakes. The Corsairs list would be great, save the errors riddling it. As it stands it’s still a good list, and would work well in low points games nicely.

Extras 7/10, good, but nothing exciting.

Overall – 7.5 / 10

I’m only giving it slightly higher than IA8 as I enjoyed the story more, even if the better plot was let down by worse editing. And, honestly, if I wasn’t a huge IA/FW fangirl and this was my first IA book, I’d be at least calling them up asking WTF (which I might do anyway)?

This all makes me feel that the book was rushed to make Christmas – there are too many obvious mistakes and Forge World’s constant “it’ll be out soon” message just makes me think they hit a deadline and either were forced to put the book out or decided ‘sod it’, and went to print regardless. Neither option is particularly good.

Still, the book, like IA8 for Orks, is a great resource for Eldar players and definitely worth a look if possible.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Koronus Gazetter Issue #1

This is a handout I'm producing for the players of my upcoming Rogue Trader RPG game to give them plot hooks, rumours and background texture. It's designed to be printed double sided and folded in half, so "Rogue Tradin'" is on the back.

Click to embiggen:

I think you can guess what the first adventure will be about ;) But there are seeds for future endevours and encounters layed down here. It'll be fun seeing the player's actions move from the back pages to bigger and bigger stories. Or seeing their screw-ups on the front page for all to see, ha ha!

Higher quality PDF available here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What is this I don't even...

You know when you like a band but you've only seen a couple of their videos for some reason and then you look at one more and your brain just melts? Yeah, this is that.

In other news it looks like I'll be running a Rogue Trader RPG early in the new year - will post more about getting that up and running soon.