Imperial Knight – A Review

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It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed anything for the Grim Dark Future of the 41st Millennium so this article is a bit of a treat as I’m taking a look at the awe-inspiring Imperial Knight kit. I’ve always felt very fortunate to do what I do but some days I really have to pinch myself…

For those that either (A) aren’t old enough or (B) haven’t been in the hobby long enough, Imperial Knights made their debut in Epic, the 5mm game of awesomeness that has sadly fallen by the wayside along with all the other specialist games. The Knights filled an ill-fitting hole in the military offering of the Imperium being neither a Titan, nor a platoon of armour. Instead they were a kind of sucky middle ground that were often used as a distraction for the Mega Gargants that were also included in the Titan Legions boxset. The Knight Paladins looked a little something like this…

Knight_Paladins

Now they look like this…

Knight_Paladins_40kI mean look at it! It’s massive. Whilst I lament the demise of Epic Armageddon as much as any gamer as seasoned as I, or as someone who appreciates an amazing rule set, I have to full conceded that the 40k scale Knight is amazing. I wasn’t sold on the idea originally, although I totally called it when rumour of an Imperial large kit was in the offing all those months ago. I thought it was going to be a glorified Dreadknight. Nothing to really write home about. I rarely enjoy being wrong but on this occasion I briefly considered getting t-shirts made.

It looks gorgeous. Now there’s been some nonsense floating around about how GW ripped off the Cygnar warjack design to which I have this to say: the Knight model was there first. Whilst a dramatic evolution from the old models shown above, the hallmarks are all there. Plus it’s just superior in just about every way possible to a warjack model (no disrespect to Privateer). That’s not me Warmachine bashing. It’s better than most models I can think of beyond boutique resin models that occupy a league of their own.

Absolutely everything about the kit screams careful consideration. Not just how the model goes together, which is very clever and in some aspects resembles more an Airfix kit than toy soldiers, but the look and simple posability. Granted it loses something by the legs not being even slightly posable. This does mean that short of attacking your £80 kit with a saw your Knight is going to look largely like any other. However, the way arms and head all go together means that you can still tell a story or strike a roguish pose. And that’s pretty important.

The other significant detail is how very un-40k it is. Now bear with me on this. The Knights are an STC from the first expansion of man. They are older than just about any other fighting machine, suit or armour or weapon in the Imperium. Some have been painstakingly maintained over 15,000 years and so the design aesthetic and the technology level is different. Not vastly but enough that it’s noticeable. Enough that you look at the Knight and can see it’s an entirely more elegant construct than a Warlord Titan or even a Warhound.

It’s all beautiful curving armour plates and simple (but not crude) manufacture for longevity. And the detail is just the best. Everything about the model is stunning. The face plates, the weaponry, even the handles and grip rails that are totally unnecessary but fit right in. My own two – no really – gripes are the battle cannon is a bit bland. I suspect it was designed to look like a lance and it just looks like a slim-line acme cannon. I don’t hate, but I don’t love it and helped me make the decision to build my Knight as an Errant. The other is that some parts of the build are a bit fussy which could be helped if the instructions didn’t suck out loud. The visuals are poor and the close-ups are blurry versions of the main images and so are pointless.

However, it isn’t the most complicated kit in the world so with a bit of careful thought and trying pieces before gluing them you should be fine. One would hope. With careful gluing you can keep quite a lot of movement in the arms just to make things more fun and with some very careful cuts and the strategic placing of magnets you can quite possibly build it to switch out the weapons.

On the board it’s a beast. Weighing in between 370 & 375 points depending on your weapon of choice, it’s a toughie with armour 13 at the front and 12 at the sides and rear with 3 hull points on top. And if that weren’t enough the Ion Shield affords it an invulnerable save. Throw in some handy special rules and some horrendous weaponry and you’ve got yourself a party.

The weaponry is equally tasty. As I mentioned, the options are either a two shot battle cannon – which is nothing to be sniffed at, or a turbo charged melta weapon with more strength and a large blast. Both have merits and your regular opponents will most likely dictate your choice. I opted for the latter mainly from a design point of view, but as I have plenty of opponents with vehicles or multiple wounds, splatting them with a melta gun of doom followed by the fooking great chainsword of destruction is too good an opportunity to pass up. And speaking of the FGCOD, it’s just madness. It has strength D so will pretty much auto annihilate anything it touches. The interesting scrap would be a Knight verses a Warhound. The Knight weighs in a significantly fewer points and would have to endure the torrent of  Vulcan Mega Bolter shots but providing it got into base to base with the Titan I can see the Knight chopping its leg off and then beating the Titan to death with it.

Failing that, take two.

The Imperial Knight is a superb model. It’s not cheap and it’s not the easiest model to build but I can think of at least 5 kits from Forge World that fall into the same category and they’d cost you more. And this you’ll actually use. It’s an indulgence. A gift to you from you. And it’s absolutely bad ass on the board. Not indestructible by any means and it’s the proverbial bullet magnet but it’ll look ace whilst it gets shot to shit. It’s a triumph for Games Workshop and I don’t say that often. Is it worth the money? Honestly? Yes. I’d happily buy another. And another.

The Imperial Knight is available from Firestorm Games priced £76.50.

Salute in Review: What Happened To All The Spending?

Salute 2014Must…buy…toys…must…buy…toys….  No it’s not Mat, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead it was me wandering around aimlessly trying to find shizzle to buy at the end of Salute on Saturday. I went in with a good idea of what I wanted but after picking up my hefty (and heavy) Forge World order, purchases were unfortunately few and far between.

The day went largely as expected in accordance with the pre-Salute post – far more business over pleasure and the vast majority of my time was spent engaged in conversations with gaming companies old and new. It was a very productive day on that front with some downright fantastic agreements made with several major companies and numerous encouraging discussions with others, who were also showing signs of following suit.  Despite the dedicated focus we still ran out of time at the end and missed out on several stands we wanted to visit, there just weren’t enough hours in the day in truth.

The walks between the companies we wanted to talk to was where I attempted to find the things I wanted to buy.  Some bits for my Warhammer Empire army were high on the list but there was an absolute dearth of their products available, being limited to just boxes of State Troops and the occasional Greatswords.  I know Games Workshop removed many of the items I needed from the list available to independent stockists but I thought given the scale of the event some would still be available from the three I wanted: Demigryphs, Helblaster, Pistoliers/Outriders. But no.  I did grab an absolute bargain in the form of a brand new metal Marius Leitdorf for just £4 – yes you read that right. Just £4.  A pricing error? Who knows, but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I also bagged a pack of Purple and Gold dice to go with my Emperors Children, very fitting I thought, and a ruined building from Amera Plastic Mouldings (review to follow soon). But that was it. I had still spent a hefty sum on my Forge World order, but I went home with £160 still burning through my pocket and now charring the flesh of my thigh.  So here’s what I got (because most of my stuff came as bags of parts, which aren’t very exciting, I’ve used images from web):

LEGION SICARAN BATTLE TANKEMPEROR'S CHILDREN PHOENIX TERMINATORS

Marius Leitdorf36 PEARL DICE - 6 SIDED & 12mm SIDES - PURPLE !!Z214 - City Block Ruins

 

I think you’ll agree that if any Imperial Tank could ever be considered sexy, the Sicaran would be it – with it’s sleek profile and…er…armour plates. Backing it up with a pimp set of Phoenix Guard means I should have one good looking army once they hit the table top alongside one of last years Salute purchases, the Emperors Children Contemptor Dreadnought (with twin Kheres and a back up Power Claw, of course).

At the time of writing I have just ordered a variety of the magnets I wanted and now have to further resort to trawling the web to satisfy my hobby cravings and try to find things that can convince me to part with my cash – but it’s not the same.  When your there and it’s in your hands something almost takes over you, and you just start throwing money in peoples faces and running off before someone’s mind changes. Still, at least I’ll get a free Space Marine Captain if I order from Games Workshop direct.

Until next year, the sound of Neil singing the Salute theme tune will remain a memory.

 

*The Salute theme tune goes as thus: Saying the word Salute repeatedly to the tune of Black Adder (writing credit: Rob Mossop).*

Calas Typhon Unboxing

I’m back from my adventure to Adepticon, and I brought home lots of goodies! One of my favorite pieces came from Forge World, the fearsome Calas Typhon [So much want - Ed]. I’ve unboxed him so you can get a decent look at him.

I haven’t been too keen on a few of the Horus Heresy character models that Forge World has released, but Calas really strikes me. He may move to the top of my painting queue. He’ll certainly be assembled this weekend.

Also in that queue are several other Horus Heresy characters including Angron, Fulgrim, and Abaddon and Loken. I eventually plan to have the whole set of HH characters, which is getting harder to do as they release them at a faster pace. Originally, I had just planned on getting the Primarchs, but the other characters have been such interesting models that I decided to go for them all.

My wallet weeps.

I hope you enjoyed getting to see Calas Typhon!

New Games Workshop Website Live!

gw_newwebsite_newsitelayout_frontpage

After the mysterious activities on the Games Workshop website yesterday, presumably just to build tension (given that these days there is no technical reason to take a site offline for a whole day to launch a web site!) it’s back, it’s new and, er, well is same but different.

It’s still just Games Workshop

No clever attempt at an integration of the Forge World and Black Library sites (as expected really, given that at no point yesterday did these sites disappear), it’s just the Games Workshop website, with some differences (see below). This is a good thing in my view, Forge World and Black Library have great individual identities and if they had been subsumed into a new ‘pure eCommerce’ site like this one then the community would have lost a significant amount of the flavour that they bring to our hobby.

The new design

Isn’t a million miles away from the old one. It’s still image-driven but now it’s even clearer that this is a retail store. Pretty much all of the ‘hobby’ content, bar the “What’s new” and “White Dwarf” sections, has gone and the menu layout and options are definitely geared towards purchasing, with options to select by price range and force organisation/ army composition rather than just driving you through the standard ‘army’ channels.

There are some good tweaks here, specifically to make the site more generally accessible across more devices, and as a result the hover menus have died a necessary death. It’s slightly annoying that you have to click on check boxes, not words as that gives you a smaller target area to aim at (especially on a mobile device), but I definitely prefer it over the last front end, much cleaner and easier to read and the new ‘list’ of products view is nicer.

One potentially useful new feature is the ability to select multiple categories at once from the side bar, very much a standard eCommerce feature but I’m not sure how necessary it is for this site. Unless of course you really need to look at Beastmen and Dwarves in one product list…

gw_newwebsite_newsitelayout

Mobile/ tablet friendly

Probably the biggest change folks are talking about (on Twitter, where Games Workshop notably still are not) is the introduction of a ‘proper’ mobile site. My feeling on this is, yup it’s nice, but really if there had been a site relaunch without some response design to accommodate mobile users then that would have been a serious negative point against it. It’s good to have, but should be auto-include for a retail web site these days.

FAQ off!

This is probably the ‘biggy’ in this revamp, Games Workshop have completely stripped out the FAQs section.

gw_newwebsite_faqsgone

This isn’t totally unforeseen, after all the FAQs haven’t been updated in a long while, and Games Workshop’s general shift towards digital content might suggest that they’ll simply shift them into automatic codex/army/rule book updates plus possibly a return to the old days of ‘official’ update books? I think that latter option is unlikely, Games Workshop have put considerable effort into their digital offerings of late and I suspect they want us all to just buy iPads and receive over the air updates so that we’re all using the version of rules they consider to be ‘the right ones’. Not that that’s much help if you don’t have a fruit-based tablet, of course…

We will have to wait and see what impact this has on the tournament and general hobby scene. After all if Games Workshop have taken them down, does this mean they won’t allow them at Warhammer World events? Most tournaments, I suspect, will still count them as valid (after all, they’re still an official Games Workshop offering), but how will new players get hold of them if not from the Games Workshop web site?

Your account is dead, long live your (new) account!

Part of the revamp involved a new platform and I guess rather than attempt (and therefore pay for) a migration of existing accounts, Games Workshop have scrapped all existing accounts and wish/gift lists. Not a massive issue really and certainly not worth holding up a new site for, but something to be aware of nonetheless!

Final thoughts

So all-in-all not a bad revamp, but clearly another step towards Games Workshop’s online presence being about two things, retail sales and retail sales. Oh wait, that’s the same thing twice. I do think they’re trying, with the White Dwarf revamp, the weekly release schedule and the hiving off of all social content to the stores to explicitly split off our relationship with Games Workshop HQ as a retail body from our relationship to the stores, hence retaining the store Facebook pages. It’s an interesting move on their part and I guess time will tell how successful a strategy it is, but with their one-man store policy and a clear desire to drive footfall back into stores as hobby centres you can see a picture developing where we go back to the days of our primary relationship to the Games Workshop part of the hobby being bricks and mortar centric. At least I suspect that’s what Games Workshop are trying to achieve.

New Games Workshop Website Incoming!

gw_newwebsite_placeholder So, not long after the launch of the new Warhammer World website, the main GW site is currently down for maintenance as the covers are being removed on the brand new site! See that bit on the right? That’s a sprue, which seems to be an awesome looking model available to anyone ordering over a certain amount once the new site is up and running: gw_newwebsite_sprue   And the offer itself with a pic of the finished model (which looks rather tasty I have to say): gw_newwebsite_modeloffer Look to the skies!

The Shell Case does Salute – Lee

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s Lee’s thoughts:

Lee

This year’s Salute is going to be a little different for me.  With my new role as Deputy Editor and increased responsibilities within The Shell Case, this time round will be significantly more business focused than previously.  Whereas last year I visited each stand and cooed approvingly at their products whilst Phil chatted to his contacts (or attempted to make new ones), this time I must attempt to join in the conversations – whilst cooing approvingly at their products. Hopefully I can pick up a few things and acquaint myself with those who support us. We also have some new companies we are interested in working with, and Salute brings many exciting possibilities.

The most important stop I must make on the day is…the Forgeworld stand (I’m only human, and a wargamer).  I should be taking delivery of a Sicaran Battle Tank and a set of Phoenix Guard Terminators – so I’m very excited (and maybe even a Mannan’s Blades bundle depending on how the day, and the wallet goes). I have a Helblaster shaped hole to fill in my Empire army (Phil will be pleased) and I’m also going to be keeping an eye out for some good quality modelling hardware – a Paint Station, some Micro Magnets and the like.  Aside from that, I’ll just see where my wandering takes me.

I’m also looking forward to meeting up with my fellow writers at The Shell Case (those that can make it) now being more familiar with their work – along with anyone else that wants to say hi.  In all honesty, the 12th can’t come soon enough.

Short Daemon Tactica: Bloodcrushers of Khorne

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Bloodcrushers of Khorne are pretty deadly, even though they have been somewhat downgraded since last edition, and are still a prime assault unit of any Daemon force.  There are even a few ways to overcome the units’ new problem with 2+ armour saves. Plus, it also gives me an excuse to break out a  MegaDeth song.

Ok, lets start from the beginning, because it colours a lot of people’s perceptions about the usability of Bloodcrushers. It will also explain why, depending on where you play, Daemon players are likely to throttle you if you try to bring up the unit in a conversation.

Bloodcrushers useful

A typical reaction to “I still think Bloodcrushers are useful”

Now, last edition the unit were god level good. They had a one point higher toughness, a 3+ save and power weapons still ignored all saves completely instead of just being AP3 Hellblades like they are now – so naturally every Daemon force had a unit or two.  But instead of screaming ‘Worst.Unit. Ever!’ like some parts of the internet, I’ll be explaining how to use them best, despite their diminished status. Call it an act of spite for having to wade through a year of forum after forum saying Phil Kelly is the worst human alive [I thought it was The Cruddace? - Ed]

For a start, Bloodcrushers are now Cavalry, making them able to cross the board by Turn 2 instead of being late game challengers as they were in the past. This increased speed somewhat makes up for a diminished survivability and means that the unit is now able to do flanking attacks or surprise a unit or two (not to mention they can pick and choose their targets more readily to avoid those pesky 2+ saves). Combine this with the ability to strip a unit of cover from the Bloodcannon and they can still kick a lot of arse.

Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop

Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop

Now, whilst their use is mostly limited to killing 3+ save units (of which there are many), the addition of a unit champion or Heralds gives you access to AP2 weaponry. The Axe of Khorne is one of the few god specific weapons I would consider trading the humble Etherblade for, as it has the same stats and swaps Master-Crafted for Instant Death on a 6 to
wound. What your play style is will determine which upgrade you choose I think.

One big change to Bloodcrushers is that I would now consider Deep Striking them, or at the very least hugging cover. That increased vulnerability, paired with their reputation from the last codex, means they will attract a lot of firepower – especially in Space Marine or Necron armies where AP3 close combat weapons are a scary prospect.

All in all, Bloodcrushers aren’t the strongest of units you can have in a mono Khorne force. But use them well as they will still eat a few units before their demise and draw a lot of firepower. For that, and the awesome models, they are worth trying.

So what are you waiting for? Its time to crush ‘em!

Bloodcrushers are available from Firestorm Games, priced £30.15.

The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. -Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

Leaked White Dwarf Astra Militarum Images

As the new Codex rumbles towards release as unstoppable as the Leman Russ battle tank it’ll no doubt over power, here’s the inevitable last-minute leaked images from the upcoming White Dwarf of the new shit for the freshly renamed Astra Militarum including the Wyvern. The badass twin brother of the equally badass Hydra. I make no bones: I want an army just for this kit. And the Valkyries.

WDCover OrderCards Regiments Wyvern2 Wyverndetail Hydradetail wyvern

Forgeworld Open Day – Event report

 

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Forgive me, gentle reader, should my fingers stumble in the scribing of this missive, because I’m knackered right?

A 5am 6am start (stupid daylight savings time!) saw me heading off to Nottingham to Warhammer World and the Forge World Open Day!

I arrived and was greeted by a huge queue which, once I defeated, lead to yet another queue. Yay! This time however it was the queue to buy ALL OF THE THINGS! I saved that for later and dove straight into the design studio, with the aim of tweeting the hell out of anything new and shiny I might find. And there was some great stuff on show.

Probably the most talked about new model on the day was the Cerastus Knight Lancer:

Cerastus lancer

cerastus lancer painted

They also had some rather nice heraldry shields on display:

imperial knight heraldry

The new knight model is easily two inches taller than a standard knight and built to stride rapidly across the battlefield. I think we should expect its slightly bulkier brother to make an appearance in the not too distant future as well. The model is a plethora of pose-able pieces, and apparently any purchaser can look forward to positioning each piston individually. It’s definitely more flexible in its assembly than the plastic kit given that the three I saw on the day all looked very different (as you can see from the unpainted vs. painted shots above). There have been some rules doing the rounds now as well given that the third Horus Heresy book was available on the day, which also contains a lovely Mechanicum army list (more on them later).

Speaking of Horus…

Horus-painted-1

Horus-painted-2

There were several painted examples of him on the day, this was my personal favourite. He was on sale as well, would’ve been extremely rude to turn him down, so I didn’t – here’s a little ‘unboxed’ shot. I’ll be doing a more detailed kit review once I start work on painting him up.

horus-unboxed

There was plenty of evidence of the new Salamanders content and a strong sense running around the design hall that the next primarch release would be at the Horus Heresy weekender in May, and that it would be none other than Monsieur He’stan himself! They did have a work in progress sculpt (looked pretty finished to me!) of the new Fire Drake terminators:

fire-drake-1

fire-drake-2There is some beautiful detail on that shield.

The other main work in progress things that caught my eye were the new Gorgon Terminators, which are very definitely ‘in progress’ given their general lack of all of their necessary appendages:

 

gorgons-wip

And last but not least the new Mechanicum models. Man I’ve developed a serious model-crush on these guys. Picked up a bunch of stuff on the day (would’ve been more but the Krios tank had sold out by the time I got to the front of the sales queue), but the general style of these guys really appeals to me. The kind of “Weird War I/II” with a smattering of Victoriana/steam punk is right up my street. The Krios weaponry options have been added to as well, with the Venator sporting an Ordnance 4 (eek!) bombard gun of doom (that is its technical name) and the Lightning Cannon, whilst only having a Strength 7 AP4 main stat-line, also having just about every special rule in the entire world (Shred, Rending, Instant Death, 3″ blast…)

Krios mechanicum

The Mechanicum also receive my (soon to be coveted by absolutely no-one) “most awesome model of the day” award for the rather tasty Thanatar Class Siege Automata:

thanatar-siege-automata

It’s big. It’s bad-ass. It’s got a cannon on its shoulder that will blow the head off the most well-set pair of shoulders. I want so many of these it hurts (my bank balance, presumably). Here he is with a bunch of his new friends, the combi-weapon toting Thallax and Castellax

mechanicum automata group

Finally (and I can only apologise for the pics of this, the lighting was terrible in this cabinet), the Tyranid hive mind can look forward to something called the “Dimacheron” appearing at some point in the future, looks like it will be almost biotitan sized (those legs are big!) and undoubtedly scary, it has lots of talons, and a sort of Mawloc style head.

tyranid dimacheron wip

There was a smattering of Warhammer Forge stuff there as well, but not much in the way of brand spanking new content, though the Dread Saurian looks very nice in real life!

Finally then, the event-only models, a Minatours heavy bolter and a rather nice Chaos Dwarf Daemonsmith. I didn’t grab either of these myself, though I do now have a nice bright red horus mug to drink my tea out of.

fw-openday-excl-models

So, despite a hideously early start and some lengthy queues it was a great day. I gorged myself on lots of stunning Forge World models (and stuffed myself on nachos in Bugman’s as well) and would definitely go back again next year. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with a few #warmongers and talk state of the game and Games Workshop. Everyone I spoke to was certainly looking forward to the re-development of Warhammer World and, as would be expected at a GW event, positive about everything the day had to offer.

I’m now even more disappointed I won’t be at the Horus Heresy weekender. I suspect that will be rather special indeed.

And no, I didn’t win the Reaver Titan in the raffle. I am outraged.