Return to Blacksand…..Port Of Peril – Ian Livingstone (Scholastic)

I make no secret of my deep and abiding love for Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy books. In the canon of things that make my brain cauldron bubble, FF 1-10 sit prominently alongside the first three Integrity records, Pushead artwork and every issue of 2000AD published between 1982-1993. Scholastic Publishing has recently resurrected the franchise, reissuing the first half a dozen books of the Puffin run and commissioning some new titles. Port of Peril authored by returning OG Ian Livingstone is the first of those new adventures.

To say that Scholastics stewardship of the series has been greeted with a mixed response from the FF fan community is a gross understatement. People tend to get very precious about the sacred cows of their youth, particularly those of us in our mid thirties- late forties who grew up with FF the first go round and I sit right in the middle of that particular demographic. Sure I can get as sensitive and defensive about FF as the next guy but I try not to act entitled and can accept that life moves on, capitalism is a thing and maybe other generations should have the opportunity to sample the things that stirred my own imagination as a child? Continue reading

The History Of Nemesis Records by Patrick Kitzel & Frank Harrison  (Tribal Books/ Reaper Records) 2016

I’ll preface this article by stating that when it comes to putting together these reviews, unlike many of my peers, I do not fuck with press release material. I read so many reviews of books/music/movies/comics whatever that are just lazy rewrites of the blurb that accompanies the product. I consider reviews like that to be devoid of any genuine opinion or individual insight and therefore without critical merit. They depersonalise the experience of absorbing the material. As far as I’m concerned that is a massive disservice to the effort put into project by it’s creators and the expectations of you, the reader. Rest assured that when your stuff ends up on the desk of Nathan Bean, you better know I will review the SHIT out of that thing.

My first purchase on Nemesis Records way back in 1993 was the Bonesaw record. As was often the case in the 90’s, this was a random pick up based upon the fact that I thought Bonesaw was a cool name for a band and the songs on the record had hard titles. I had previously heard one Bonesaw song on a sampler CD someone gave me outside my first hardcore the year before and I rinsed that record for a whole summer. Have I listened to Bonesaw since that Summer? Have I fuck. Continue reading

Age Of Sigmar Book Review: The Gates of Azyr, by Chris Wraight

04-07-AoS-carousel-ppageA new game, with a completely new setting, means that we get boat loads of brand new stories and background. For someone who thinks the best slice of the Jervis Johnson Hobby Pie™ is fluff, I couldn’t be more stoked! So instead of diving right into the book review, we need some background. How did we get here, and who’s in the new world? Chaos won The End Times (again, the clue was in the name), and the Old World blew up, Sigmar clung to the metallic (hard)core, and was flung into the void. After meeting a celestial dragon, he founded a new realm of heavens/azyr, discovered that the 7 other winds of magic also had their own realm, and alliances were re-forged, plus there’s a 9th one for Chaos. Each seems to have remnants of the races from the old game, so there’s the narrative for you to use your existing collection. Anyway, as time is a flat circle, dudes fell out, Chaos went to war and conquered and corrupted said realms, so Sigmar went home, and locked the gates.

Which brings us the to this book, by the excellent Chris Wraight (author of Scars and Battle of the Fang) where we get inside the heads of each of the different units and characters included in the new boxed set, as this is a companion novel to the scenarios found within. Sigmar, with the help of Grugni, has forged an army of Stormcast Eternals, these are the new Sigmarines everyone is going crazy about, and they are at the forefront of the battle to reclaim all the realms from the foul grasp of Chaos.

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Horus Heresy Book Review: Deathfire, by Nick Kyme

Deathfire-eBookThe book tells the tale of the XVIII Legion as they return to Nocturne with the body of their Primarch, Vulkan. Following on from the events that take place in The Unremembered Empire, Deathfire is a tragic tale, for the Salamanders have lost much, including many of their battle-brothers and the father of their legion who, for the first time, has not recovered from his wounds. It’s a harrowing journey for Artellus Numeon, former Captain of the Pyre Guard, who must lead his brothers against some of the most horrific foes the Emperor’s warriors have ever faced.”

After what feels like an eternity of novellas, anthologies, audio and eBooks, following the bombastic The Unremembered Empire and Vengeful Spirit, the Salamanders take centre stage in a full length Horus Heresy novel. No more filler, shattered legions and timeline hopping, as Nick Kyme takes up the plot on Macragge and Imperium Secundus, to give the series a much needed forward thrust.

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Sacking Alexandria: Musing on Black Library and the Horus Heresy Novels

Blades_of_The_TraitorI am a failed tabletop gamer. As far as confessions go, I’m not exactly seeking a priest to whisper a secret sin. Is it something I would like absolving of? Yes. Will I ever rectify it? Possibly. I live in a world with an unfortunate amount of hobbies, be that a blessing or a curse. When it comes to getting time to paint it’s not often, therefore I don’t make progress, and I’m painfully aware that with every layer of paint I put on it I’m taking my miniature a step further away from what I see in my mind’s eye. Every brush stroke is an act of violent self-abuse. As a person who’s never had an issue generally achieving something I set my body to, be it from as picking up weights in the gym, to learning kickboxing to more relevant things such as sculpting or drawing it generally comes quickly. Painting minis however seems to be my Everest. As a result, all too often my relaxing time becomes bouts of intense rage, followed by aggressive self-frustration and ends with me giving 4cm high plastic space men a withering cold glare. This leaves me with a catch 22 of sorts. I really, really think it’s awesome, I’m just too infuriated by myself to make them come to life, but I want to enjoy the glorious world of militant space fascists. So there is only one answer for me.

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Horus Heresy Book Review: Vengeful Spirit, by Graham McNeill

VengefulSpirit-Art[4]Edit – Originally written for a zine that never surfaced last year, and just released in paperback, I thought this would be a good time to dredge it up, and serve as a preview to an upcoming blog piece by Dieter with regards to the series

Over 8 years, a mountain of novels, short stories and audio dramas later, we finally get to see the man himself in action again. Horus Heresy, it’s named after the Warmaster, it’s his name above the door, so it’s about time we see him on the ground, taking names and showing everyone why he was, once, the Emperor’s favoured son and chosen leader in the field before it all went to hell.

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Tales From The Darkwood Part 2 – Fates Messenger

WoFM-original-coverIn the previous installment of this primer HERE I introduced the simple premise of Fighting Fantasy. In a nutshell Fighting Fantasy could be described as self contained, simplified, single player D&D, staged for the most part (though not exclusively) in the setting of Titan. It would be fair to say that Titan definitely shared a lot of its aesthetic with what would become the Warhmmer world. Indeed for many young gamers FF provided a gateway into the more convoluted spheres of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, The Forgotten Realms, Orb and so on but we shall discuss that more in a future installment.

At the front of every Fighting Fantasy book was the Adventure Sheet. This sheet was used to document your characters progress through the adventure. It was the place where you could record the treasure, equipment and magical items you obtained along the way, document your encounters with monsters and of course keep track of the all important Skill, Stamina and Luck scores. These three statistics were the hinge upon which the progress or failure of your adventure swung. If you played by the rules, these figures were determined randomly by the dice at the start of the adventure if you were a cheating swine then you naturally maxed out with a 12/24/12 set up.
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Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman

merrick-coverThought Bubble is the North’s premier Comic Con and for my money the best event of its kind in these fine Isles Of Albion. The convention has been steadily growing in size and reputation since its arrival almost eight years ago and it’s attracting some of the big names in the field of sequential art as well as providing an opportunity for a huge number of independent small press creators to get their work into the faces of the more discerning comic book fan. It is an event I enjoy immensely, with the added bonus that it’s virtually on my door step. I particularly relish prowling the small press tables looking for something new to take my fancy and that is where I happened upon Merrick. Fickle as it sounds my attention was drawn to the Merrick:The Elephant Man stall by virtue of the very rad Suicidal Tendencies shirt that the chap behind the table was wearing. I then noted that the Merrick shirt was a Black Flag rip, clearly this book was the work of a punker. With my interest piqued I had a quick chat with the books author Tom Ward (he was the fellow in the Suicidals shirt) decided he was a good bloke and I promptly laid my money down and grabbed issues 1 & 2 and a nice new shirt.
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AK Interactive – Tracks & Wheels


AK 47 is the tool, don’t make me act the motherfuckin’ fool.

There are two big names in the scale modelling arena, AK Interactive, currently run by Fernando Vallejo Calleja, and Ammo run by Mig Jimenez. Seems there’s a whole truck load of pit beef going on between those guys, but that’s not the focus of this article. Tracks & Wheels is. Making them look manky and old, to be more specific

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The End Times: Nagash

The motherfucker's back!

The motherfucker’s back!

Nagash is back, the dead are rising, daemons are popping out from Lustria to the Worlds Edge Mountains, and Chaos has spewed forth from the North to lay waste to world, both old and new. Winter is indeed coming! As the second installment of The End Times is unleashed, I thought it’s about time I did a promised brief recap of the origins, the return of the mighty ‘Gash and the apocalyptic happenings in the Warhammer world. So strap yourselves in, and prepare for some heavy duty reading, as it’s a sprawling tale

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