The Fractured Void

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Twilight Imperium book The Fractured Void by Tim Pratt, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium is a much beloved strategy board game published by Fantasy Flight Games that’s currently in its 4th Edition.

First thing to know, it’s very long, my pal Drew, one of the owners of the amazing Meeple Perk, tells me it’s an 8 hour game as a minimum!

Secondly it’s an epic space opera, set in the power vacuum left behind by the decline and collapse of the Lazax Empire, as various races and factions vie for dominance and to become the new galactic superpower.

The Story

It’s a bit of an interesting one, clearly designed to introduce us in a gentle way to the lore of the game.

It focuses on the crew of the Temerious who are exiled to a backwater system where they patrol and occasionally help look for lost farm animals.

Lead by Captain Felix Duval they encounter a distres signal and end up rescuing a scientist named Thales, who is on the cusp of an astounding breakthrough that would change the balance of power in the galaxy.

Tasked by his commanders in the Mentak Coalition to assist Thales, they end up getting drawn into a cat and mouse game as they are pursued by black ops teams from two other galactic powers.

The book actually does a good job at introducing the setting, I have never played Twilight Imperium, despite it being right up my street, because Lindsay and Megan are unsure about it.

You get a lot of information and background, but it never feels like you get huge sections of exposition, but you do get the needed background. I can now after reading the book understand a lot about the lore of the game and the various factions in it.

The world building is second to none, it feels really well done and it’s an excellent primer.

But I do actually have some criticisms, firstly the books conclusion is kinda hurried, it’s feels too much like a set up for further books, you just know there is more to come, it heavily hinted at, and a big thing is kicked off, but not actually concluded.

I think I would have preferred a cleaner ending that wasn’t a setup for further adventures of Duval’s Devils.

Secondly, the characters for the most part, simply didn’t gel well with me. The heroes felt a little too cliche, we get it, they are raiders and little better than pirates. But it felt like that got pointed out at every opportunity.

The antagonists, well they again seemed forced, they as characters seemed to fit together quite well as an odd couple, but the escalation of their relationship felt a little forced at times.

But one character he did get right was Thales, an utterly detestable person, you just love to hate him and I tell you that you spend the whole book wanting him to get his comeuppance.

Tim does a great job with this character, he really gets you hating him and it really triggers an emotional response.

Conclusion

It was a fun space opera with a nice degree of humour and a good balance.

But I cannot state enough how rushed the conclusion was and how it really felt that little was actually resolved with the open left too open for me.

I want the story to be finished, which means I need to hope this sells enough to warrant a sequel, because it really needs a sequel to finish the story.

Duvals Devils did start to seem more interesting at the end as well, so I kinda want to see how they are developed.

Initially I was thinking of giving this 3 stars, but I ended up settling on 4. The book really makes you feel something, and that is hatred and anger towards Thales, and the writing is so good that when he gets his just desserts, it feels good.


Musical Advent 2020 – December 3rd – Terminally Seventeen – Eben Brooks

Eben Brooks is a kickass filk artist who has proclaimed himself the superhero of San Diegio.

I picked this song for the advent, not only because it is such a positive representation of polyamory, but because I think it captures me, and I am someone who has never mentally aged beyond seventeen.

At least I don’t think I have!


The Final Form

So yeah this week, I did more desk reorganisation and I think this is the form I am happy with.

Megan has been pestering me for weeks to reorganise my desk, specifically by getting rid of my Citadel Painting Tray.

Well I followed her advice and I have to say, she was right, so now I have a hit more space on the desk and a permanent home for the Switch dock.

Plus it really does look a lot tidier, and you can see the RGB effects from the speakers a lot better.

I did also reconfigure the setup for the speakers, because the Xbox One and Switch connect to the monitor via HDMI, they bypassed the speakers. Which meant that I only had the option of hearing them through the crappy inbuilt speakers or by plugging in a headset to the monitor.

So what I did was grab a 3.5mm cable and plug the monitors headphone socket into the 3.5mm socket in the speakers.

I moved the cable organiser from the side of the desk and put it on the back, this now holds the 3.5mm extension from the PC, and a 3.5 mm extension that heads to the side of the desk to keep the headphone cable from trailing over the desk.

So somehow trying to reduce wires and faff under the desk, I actually added more wires!

I am still trying to figure out how to be able to listen to the music from Pretzel when I stream and feed it all though the Mixer, so far the solution involves physically feeding the music through an audio cable from the PC to the mixer. Which is not how I want to do it, the mixer is a USB one, I can hear the music through the headphones, but it just won’t record in OBS, quite frustrating and I just can’t quite figure out what’s going wrong.

Sunday was spent pottering about mostly, I rerouted a few cables around the back of the desk to make the whole setup look tidier.

On Wednesday I put in place a monitor stand which would allow me to slip the keyboard underneath it when not in use. And I also swapped the HDMI switch for one with a remote and extended IR receiver so that I could locate the box under the desk.

What I Am Modelling

The first things I painted this week were a squad of Intercessors and Inceptors for my Blood Ravens.

The Inceptors are armed with Plasma Exterminators and the Intercessors are armed with Stalker Bolt Rifles.

These complete my New Years resolution to paint all of my Blood Ravens that I owned on the 1st January.

It’s been a long time since I bought and built these, I got them when they were first released in fact.

And for the longest time I had so much Blood Ravens stuff sitting in a box unpainted, but now everything I had at the start of the year is done.

The Inceptors were finished first on Thursday night and the Intercessors were finished on Friday.

All I have outstanding for them is the Indomitus box, a set of Intercessors I added earlier in the year and the Terminator Chaplain and Librarian that got released this year, oh and a Stormhawk Interceptor.

I then moved on to a squad of Death Korps of Krieg Grenadiers for Niki, along with two Heavy Flamer teams.

Whilst painting them, I also painted the Azyrite Belltower from Mortal Realms to add to the city of Esasa.

On Saturday night I finished my entry for Armies on Parade, you can read my blog post here about it.

Once done with them I got Rippa’s Snarlfangs to the table and started work on these bad boys.

At the same time, I started work on the last Nighthaunt from Soul Wars, that’s the Grimghast Reapers and Glaivewraith Stalkers plus Crawlocke the Jailor.

I did them them finished, which means I have completed all of the models from both Age of Sigmar starter sets now.


So what’s on my painting plan next the.

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Rippa’s Snarlfangs
  3. T’au KV128 Stormsurge
  4. Ork Megatrakk Scrapjet
  5. Death Korps of Krieg Death Riders x 10
  6. Nurgle Blood Bowl Team x 13
  7. Ork Meganobz x 3
  8. Secret Heresy Project Unit
  9. The Wurmspat & Hogthorns Mantrappers
  10. Blood Ravens Intercessors with Assault Bolt Rifles

What I Am Reading

I read The Fractured Void by Tim Pratt and I will be getting a review up in the next couple of days.

What I Am Playing

On Friday I did four hours of BioShock, I am getting on well with the game and probably will be finished in a couple of weeks.

I was supposed to stream The Witcher III on Monday but Megan was expecting a phone call from the doctors and was very nervous, so she asked me to hang out with her instead.

On Friday night I tried Among Us for the first time, which was a lot of fun, although I kept getting voted off even though I wasn’t an Imposter!

I had a couple of games of Apex Legends on Saturday to try and test out how my new setup would work for streaming more intensive games, the bigger monitor with higher refresh rates is pretty taxing on my modest GPU.

First off I ran a new Heaven benchmark, whioch gave me a score of 3725, which is lower than what I got when I was running at 720i, but that’s expected I suppose.

Before the GPU I was getting and FPS of 52.8, with the GPU I got up to 217.0, but now with the bigger screen I am getting 147.9, but that’s still pretty good I think.

Anyway here are the videos of the live streams.

On Tuesday I played a single two hour session of The Witcher III.

And I also played a little bit of Star Wars: Squadrons that night as well

What I Am Backing

I am back Wyrd Science on Kickstarter, it’s got some articles in it by friends, and I am happy to jump in on this because I really want it to fund.

What I Am Cooking

On Thursday I made our teas a Colcannon Cottage Pie, which was really nice.

I want to try it again but with lamb instead so it’s a shepard’s pie and throw in some marrowfat peas. I think that this is a dish I would cook for nibbling as it’s jam packed full of veg.

Then on Friday I cooked again, this time I made Mongolian Glazed Chicken Wings, served with sides of Garlic Spinach in Chicken Broth, and a Chinese Cucumber Salad.

That wiped me out, I shan’t be cooking two nights in a row again.

And tonight I helped Lindsay cook Korean Beef Tacos with Pickled Cucumber and Sriracha Mayo.


Musical Advent 2020 – December 2nd – Dragostea Din Tei – O-Zone

How could we not include this hit by the Moldovas most famous export O-Zone!

Made into a geeky classic thanks to the Numa Numa video by Gary Brolsmas, its kinda been a classic on nerdy playlists ever since.

And why not its a bouncy classic, lots of fun and just really gets you dancing.

I mean its just so much fun!!!


Musical Advent 2020 – December 1st – This Is My Jam – The Doubleclicks

Since last years musical advent was such a huge sucess, I think its only right to bring it back this year!

So lets start with one that got cut from last years list, but only because I ran out of days, plus the artists had already been featured a few times!

I give to you today, This is My Jam by The Doubleclicks, a song which is really about loving things and being cool with people loving different things.

Take consoles, I am absolutely on team Xbox, but in no way do I look down on folks who play Playstation, that’s simply what they prefer. For me its all about the controller, Sony have never made a controller that I have found comfortable to use for myself. Plus I love Game Pass.

But if you like Playstation thats awesome too, I have no reason to hate on anyone who likes what they like, and I wish other people would act the same. We all like different things, and as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says

Behold a beautiful garden full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Each flower has a different charm, a peculiar beauty, its own delicious perfume and beautiful colour. The trees too, how varied are they in size, in growth, in foliage—and what different fruits they bear! Yet all these flowers, shrubs and trees spring from the self-same earth, the same sun shines upon them and the same clouds give them rain.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Paris Talks

November Resolutions Update

I have this month I ended with 1295 minis painted so far.

With one month to go I am very interested to see how many will be the total for 2020.

But what about the rest of my resolutions?

Finish The Blood Ravens I Own on 1st January – Completed

I managed to finish the last two units for the Blood Ravens, a squad of Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles and some Inceptors.

So that’s a lot of units painted this year, but the box looks much better with mostly painted units in it.

I actually have some more stuff left to paint for them that I awaited this year, so let’s see if I can get a bit more of this done before 2021!

Paint 2000 Points of Stormcast Eternals – Complete

This month I completed the list, with the painting of the six Gryph-Hounds and the Lord-Aquilor.

Really happy with this and right now all I have left to paint is two trips of Vanguard-Palladors.

Paint 2000 Points of T’au – 79.9% Complete

I completed the T’au Barracuda which leaves me with just the Stormsurge to paint for the list.

Complete 2000 Points of Orks – 15.25% Complete

This is being abandoned, Megan has specifically asked me if painting our Orks can be a joint project for next year, so I am reluctantly abandoning this resolution.

Rebase the Orks

I really need to get in with this, must do it this month!

Completed Resolutions

  • Paint 867 Models
  • Rebase the Blood Ravens
  • Finish the Death Guard
  • Paint Mortarion for Everchosen

So what’s on my painting list as we head into December

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Rippa’s Snarlfangs
  3. T’au KV128 Stormsurge
  4. Ork Megatrakk Scrapjet
  5. Nighthaunt Grimghast Reapers x 4, Glaivewraith Stalkers x 5 & Crawlocke the Jailer
  6. Death Korps of Krieg Death Riders x 10
  7. Nurgle Blood Bowl Team
  8. Ork Meganobz x 3
  9. Secret Heresy Project Unit
  10. The Wurmspat & Hogthorns Mantrappwrs

Armies On Parade 2020

Seeing as its online this year and I don’t have to lug a box of models and terrain into store, I decided to enter Armies on Parade.

So here is my entry direct from my kitchen!

The Retaking of Esasa

Esasa was one of the great cities of Chamon in the Age of Myth, thanks to abundant deposits of silver within its territories and serveral Realmgates just a short journeys distance.

It fell to the forces of Chaos, specifically those of Khorne and Nurgle, and since then has been abandoned, a pale shadow of its former glory, inhabited only by scavengers, and followers of the ruinous powers.

But it holds a secret, in his wisdom, Sigmar hid away in Stormvaults, relics and artefacts of such destructive might, that could change the course of all of life in the Mortal Realms.

In the aftermath of the Necroquake, the Penumbral Engines began to fail and the call of the weapons secured within was heard across the realms. Warbands from all the great races began to converge on the city, and Sigmar feared that the Stormvaults could be potentially breached.

Esasa is but nine days march from Vindicarum, and thus Sigmar dispatched a force to retake the city, lead by the Stormcast Eternals of the Celestial Vindicators.

This Armies on Parade board represents the moment when Lord-Celestant Invari Shadowborn claims the first Stormvault from a small force of Nighthaunt trying to breach its many mystical wards.

As they begin to set up camp, a force from the Vanguard Auxillary Chamber led by Elden Wolfforged is able to link up with them, having arrived in the city some weeks earlier as a scouting force.

Lord-Celestant Invari Shadowborn, Knight-Questor Lindan Swifthand and Lord-Relictor Abron Gravewalker

Lord-Celestant Invari Shadowborn sits on his faithful Dracoth Gulvar Flametongue as his Lord-Relictor Abron Gravewalker recites prayers for those warriors returned to Azyr to be reforged.

His is guarded by Knight-Questor Lindan Swifthand, who has been taked with his protection from all might harm him. A capable warrior though he is, the threats that face them within Esasa are numerous and should he fall, they may be undone.

There is a contingent of warriors from the Sacrosanct Chamber in the force under Shadowborns command, lead by Lord-Exorcist Galbreth Wraithborn. Here he attends to a crypt where many of the Nighthaunt defeated in the battle fled to, as he chants prayers to seal the spirits back in their tombs and to sleep in peace.

Prosecutors patrol the area around the retaken Stormvault

Prosecutors have been instrumental so far, able to scout forward and access the nature of the forces arrayed against the Stormcast Eternals, and then striking from above to break their lines.

Here they return to the Stormvault, ready to begin patrols in the area to ensure its a safe place to set up camp.

Knight-Venator Ula Broadsword was instrumental in the battle, using her arrows to take down a Guardian of Souls, which broke the lines of the undead assailing the Stormvault.

Errant-Questor Firland Hornwind is the survivor of an early quest to Esasa in the Realmgate Wars, and has pledged himself to slay all those who stood against his retinue of Liberators. Although they were all reforged and now serve on the frontlines of the Soulwars, Firland was forever set on his quest.

Having recently been reforged, he found himself joining with Shadowborn as they had common purpose. Only when all those who oppose Sigmar are slain will he take up in place in his retinue again.

Sequitors and Knight-Incantor Shearlia Aznent

The Sequitors of the Sacrosanct Chamber proved invaluable in the battle against the Nighthaunt, led by Knight-Incantor Shearlia Aznent they were able to force the wraiths back and weakened them enough to allow Liberators to banish them.

Knight-Heraldor Vesti Prideheart and Liberators

The majority of troops led by Shadowborn are Liberators, ready to fight to the last to bring the city back into Sigmars domain.

Here a retinue accompanies Knight-Heraldor Vesti Prideheart as he returns to the Shadowborns side having used his battle-horn to herald the return of righteousness and order to Esasa.

Lord-Ordinator Leriv Cindereyes supervises the setup of two Celestar Ballista

Shadowborn decided to set up camp around the Stormvault, to allow them to rest and regroup whilst they await the reinforcements following shortly behind them, and to begin to form a plan to retake the rest of the city with information from the scouts of the Vangaurd Chamber.

To guard the camp, her ordered Lord-Ordinator Leriv Cindereyes to set up some Celestar Ballista to guard the camp against attack, here two are set up at the base of the Stormvault.

Lord-Aquilor Elden Wolfforged arrive at the Stormvault in the aftermath of the battle

Accompanied by their companion beasts of Azyr, Lord-Aquilor Elden Wolfforged arrives at the aftermath of the battle. They have been in Esasa for some weeks, having set out ahead of the main force to scout the city and gather information about the forces arrayed against them.

They have of course not been simply observers, but have struck out at warbands of Orruks and Chaos Cultists who have made their home in the ruins of Esasa.

Elden has a burning desire to return Esasa back to Sigmars bosom, once having been known as Elric, a lowly labourer who has risen up to defend the city against the forces of Chaos, before being betrayed by one of the cities mages, who had sold his soul to Nurgle.

Meanwhile in an act to show those lined up to oppose them, Knight-Vexillor Kolkerel Deadreaper flies the banner of the Shadowborns Chamber. This is a declaration that the reconquest has begun and soon the banners of Sigmar will fly from all of the towers of Esasa.

I know its a bit corny, but I just love imagining the stories behind the models in my head!

Anyway, I have no hope of winning, but its been fun putting this entry together.


Covid, How Much More Do You Plan On Taking

I cooked both of the past two nights and it’s buggered me.

My stamina has been in the toilet ever since Covid, but this really has shocked me mentally.

I used to cook a lot more frequently than that, I love cooking, I am a good cook. It’s something I love, and it’s just horrid realising it’s yet another thing that Covid had limited.

I actually did very little today, a teeny bit of painting, played a little bit of Bioshock on stream and then cooked tea.

So yeah, even a full days rest is not enough recovery time.

Not much to say, I just needed to vent.


Rough Sleep

I have had a very very rough week of sleep, it’s getting pretty bad, so bad that I have now been perceived sleeping tablets.

I was also quite ill this weekend as well, which probably hasn’t helped, but I am feeling a lot better now.

So tonight I start a four day regime of sleeping pills and sleep tracking to try and get me back on track.

As much as I am a night owl, it’s getting a bit daft, waking up at 1pm and not sleeping until 5am is just not good for living with other people.

I also must make sure to use my CPAP machine every night as well. So let’s see how this goes.

What I Am Modelling

It’s been a slow slow week, mostly due to a touch of illness.

What I did do is get myself prepared for the next twenty projects by building and priming it all, plus the Indomitus stuff for my Blood Ravens.

I did get finished the floors for my Zone Mortalis Terrain, both the actual Zone Mortalis Floors and the Sector Mechanicus Floors.

I did get around to starting on the T’au Barracuda AX-5-2, which was a real pleasure to paint.

I ordered it the day of release, and built and primed it as soon as I got it, but it’s been a kind of intimidating model for me, but I am so glad I got it done at long last.

At the same time I painted the Barracudas and Tiger Sharks for Aeronautica Imperialis.

I then actually began work on The Grymwatch because to start on the Intercessors I first need to put in a base coat using the airbrush and when I was ready to, it was late at night and the girls would kill me!

I got those finished Sunday night/Monday morning and am pretty happy with them.

I was able to airbrush on the red base coat of all of my outstanding Blood Ravens on Sunday night, which is good as it means I can crack on with them as soon as possible.

This allowed me to stray work on a unit of Intercessors and a unit of Inceptors, I have gotten the two main armour colours on, and washed it.


So what’s coming up on the painting plan next!

  1. Zone Mortalis Terrain
  2. Blood Ravens Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles x 10 and Inceptors x 3
  3. Death Korps of Krieg Grenadiers x 14
  4. Rippa’s Snarlfangs
  5. T’au KV128 Stormsurge
  6. Ork Megatrakk Scrapjet
  7. Nighthaunt Grimghast Reapers x 4, Glaivewraith Stalkers x 5 & Crawlocke the Jailor
  8. Death Korps of Krieg Death Riders x 10
  9. Nurgle Blood Bowl Team
  10. Ork Meganobz x 3

What I Am Reading

I finished reading The Last Ritual, which was a hell of a ride, you can read my review here.

I am planing to start another book tomorrow, and it’s another book for review.

What I Am Playing

I didn’t play any tabletop games again this week. We were scheduled to play Star Trek Adventures, but Chris, our GM was ill.

I did play four hours on the Witcher which was streamed and you can watch below.

What I Am Backing

Not backing anything right now as money is way too tight 🙁

What I Am Cooking

I didn’t actually get any cooking done this week, sadly I have just had too rough a week with sleep.


The Last Ritual

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book The Last Ritual by S. A Sidor, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

It’s a 1920s novel as an aspiring artist in the town of Arkham as he tried to piece together the puzzle of several very odd occurrences along with his love interest a talented young writer.

Like the previous novel Wrath of N’kai, which I reviewed earlier this year, it has a very rich setting, and there are subtle crossovers as characters common to the setting get a mention.

But we run across bootleggers, odd job men, butlers, privileged rich kids and impoverished artists, as well as the main antagonist, a renowned Spanish surrealists who wishes to open the gate.

On Goodreads I saw an excellent comment by Taylor Hanson, this book is “Lovecraft meets The Great Gatsby”, and that is as good a term I can think of.

The story is told retrospectively as Alden, our protagonist recites the tale to a young reporter, so there is a lot of foreshadowing to a disaster that left him disfigured and scarred.

The book is much slower and quietier than Wrath oif N’kai, but its suitably unsettling, there is an almost blurring of the lines between the possible, and the impossible, between dreams and waking. The creeping dread of the story is very tangible and when finished with it after a session, I felt a discomfort in my mind.

Conclusion

Personally I really enjoyed the book, it was a creepy, yet enjoyable story which whilst grounded in the Cthulhu mythos, like the Wrath of N’kai did not delve into it too deeply, nor did it require me to have more than passing knowledge.

Normally, I don’t go for horror, and this one nicely doesn’t dwell too much on gore, but its absolutely there but mostly happens off screen.

The conclusion felt like it came too quickly, and I did find his efforts to find a missing person in the last couple of chapters, a little lacklustre considering what they meant to Alden.

I would recommend this book, its certainly an entertaining read and does get the heart pumping.


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