The Elder Thoughts

RPGs, miniatures, books and other rants

Book Review: Azrael (Space Marine Legends)

Azrael book cover

Azrael is a novel classified in the Space Marine Legends group that tells us the story of how Azrael became Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels chapter, and his first hard difficulties when faced with a powerful enemy and the dilemma of choosing as allies the Eldar xenos.

It is a nice narrative. We get to know about how Azrael thinks and plans, but also are presented with Belial, Asmodai and even Ezekiel, other well known Dark Angel characters that will provide advice and support to him. Belial for example is presented as a Deathwing sargeant, and for once the hunt for the fallen is mentioned but not the main drive/topic "above everything else" (meaning the only drive or reason why they take decisions).

It is not a long ebook read so don't want to get into spoilers, I liked it but felt a bit short. Action tends to end quickly and I would have loved to learn more about the main character, and about his enigmatic advisor Ezekiel... but was interesting anyway.

Space Hulk Deathwing, Dawn of War III and August painting progress

The end of July and beginning of August has been busy, but I managed to squeeze some time to play and even paint. I'm slowly shifting towards more painting and less playing but summer vacations mean no painting either. Anyway this is what I've mostly been doing (apart from farming Zelda components to max out almost all clothing):

I'm playing again Space Hulk Deathwing main campaign, and I have to test the cooperative mode now that has been improved. The game came out a bit unpolished and I paid the hype price, but still the atmosphere it's impressive and I'm enjoying the second run (with graphic options almost maxed out as framerate is better).

Apothecary Deathwing Terminator Assault Deathwing Terminator The Deathwing Banner

I bought Dawn of War III with a heavy discount, and how lucky I was, because the game has been somewhat a dissapointment... The multiplayer component is great, even skirmishes against the computer. You have three elites who level up, three battle doctrines (modifiers for unit types or special general weapons) and basically looks like the best representation of Warhammer 40,000: Big battles with dozens of units (a lot more than DoW 2 and also more than the original DoW), amazing graphics, imperial Knights and the Eldar & ork equivalents (well, almost, a Gorkanaut instead of a Stompa... meh, sounds like a GW-imposed choice), bases and many, many nice looking and intense battles. On that regard it is a great game, and with a decent graphics card it looks amazing, just like the miniatures. But on the other hand the campaign is... a waste of time and effort. It is a forced, badly written and dumb story that looks made only to let you know how every unit of the game works of the three factions. And even that is in my opinion wrongly executed, as you forcibly have to switch faction on every mission (each mission is tied to a faction, that is), and some of the missions are really boring. Combined with decent voice acting but poor dialogs (between predictable, silly and sometimes absurd) and some nasty gameplay bugs that force you to repeat the level if you encounter one... For the first time in the franchise I haven't finish the campaign, as I got tired when I hit another bug just in the final level. It is too uninteresting. It is a pity because it could have really had been great, and after the previous games I can only guess that there were budget constraints on the development because it looks only really polished on the multiplayer part, and there are almost no NPC factions/units (on the later levels it is quite noticeable they even reused 3D models instead of adding more variety). I don't regret the buy as I already poured in around 20h and will probably play some CPU skirmishes in the future, but it is a wasted opportunity of delivering a great game, bringing instead a "just nice" one. Still, some of the videos have really cool images:

I've fallen in love with female Eldar farseers An Eldar Howling Banshee

And finally, apart from small progress on painting Nagash (I'm on the 3rd layer of bone colouring, and I expect at least one or two more), I grabbed two of the Betrayal at Calth models and did some dark washing on them to prepare to paint them. I'm not going to go for anything really hard so will just highlight with Mephiston Red and maybe some touches of orange. And I should definetly finish the basing of my Imperial Knight, it is only missing that and the decals to be finished...

My painting progress for August

Book Review: Insomnia

Insomnia book cover

Ralph is a retired man who just lost his wife months ago. His life is monotonous and just passes by, until he starts to suffer insomnia, slowly sleeping less and less. But not only that, at his town, Derry, strange things begin to happen: Friends going mad, pro and anti abortists fighting... But Ralph also starts "seeing things", weird things. What is all about?

It is hard to talk about the novel Insomnia without spoiling parts of the plot. It is also curious because the book is almost 900 pages in the softback spanish edition I've read, but it becomes logical when I realized this is an example of how detailed is Stephen King when describing environments, characters, and almost every tiny detail. I did big reading chunks of 50 or 100 pages and sometimes the story would just advance a bit forward, but other times there were interesting developments.

It is not a book about terror, although has some tension. There are no monsters per se, but not everything is normal, and after the first hundred pages or so I was hooked on the plot, on wanting to read more and more to understand what is happening and why. It is from 1994 so you can find it quite cheap anywhere too, so there's really no excuse to not recommending it.

On Zelda again, Dawn of War III and LEGO robots

I am starting to play Dawn of War III. After the previous titles I thought I would wait until got cheap, but Steam summer sales made Amazon put it around 45% cheaper, so I ended up buying it. Just started the campaign and tried a multiplayer skirmish against computer AI controlled foe and battles can be so long now! I ended up defeated as I didn't even knew what buildings and units I can have, but it is really fun to call into battle an imperial knight, and as there are quite a few elites (special characters) on all three factions, it looks I'm going to have fun for a long time.

I am also back at hitting hard Zelda: Breath of the Wild, because first DLC came out, so apart from playing the new content and quests, I'm trying to finish all secondary "quests" (fully upgrade all clothing and armours, get many korok seeds...). I'm 2/3 through the Master Sword Trials, easy ones were quite easy, medium ones were a bit of a challenge on the first levels as you start naked, but once you grab some weapons and a shield... are doable.

Zelda current status

Still regarding videogames, I finished an X-Com 2 walkthrough. While not technically an RPG (despite the soldier stats and upgrades), it is a turn-based tactical game so if I talk about Warhammer 40k why not about it? I loved the game, it is a nice kind-of-adaptation of V, with aliens having won the original battle and convinced humans they're here to help but a resistance fighting back to uncover the dark truth. It is a very hard game (on the normal difficulty setting), mid-game you start to not suffer on every battle but at first it is hard and I restarted twice due to fatal mistakes (I played in "ironman mode" where you only have an automatic savegame and cannot go back).

As Warhammer 40,000 8th edition came out, I bought some Dark Imperium plague marines cheap from eBay and assembled them. Primaris Space Marines are not bad, but I both dislike the lore additions to justify them and prefer to keep my old miniatures instead of mixing both. I might buy a small squad of them in the future but only for painting, and surely not for my Dark Angels (I only see them for now as "new" Ultramarines). I'd prefered just a model change, but I get the commercial justifications behind it... why just replacing models if you can have both and slowly make people move towards the new ones without explicitly retiring old ones? Also they get to sell space marine players lots and lots of new minis! Is a great strategy from Games Workshop, that's for sure. Anyway, thanks to internet I have the cool models I wanted, the plage chaos marines are so awesome...

And finally, I'm retaking some old hobbies and after a bit of a cleanup of LEGO pieces, I'm assembling and programming a Star Wars R2-D2 with the Mindstorms EV3 "computer". My plan is to fully add to id original sounds and the like, but for now the prototype works and is just missing a few more pieces plus the logic:

LEGO EV3 R2-D2 photo LEGO EV3 R2-D2 photo

Sadly, all this means my painting has been on hold, and as summer is here, having both at July an August vacations, I'll do my best but don't expect to advance much on the painting topic.

Book Review: The Art of Mad Max Fury Road

The Art of Mad Max Fury Road book cover

The first time I saw Mad Max Fury Road it got me speechless. I had so much fun and adrenaline pumping watching it that it became instantly one of my all-time favourites. I've already watched it half a dozen times and it simply gets better each time. So when I read about An art book of the movie, I researched a bit what its contents were. I was primary looking at drawings, sketches and details of the vehicles (especially the War Rig), and decided to give it a go after peeking some really cool picutres and storyboards.

I think I made the right decision. Along its 176 pages, you'll find not only production insider details or elaborated descriptions, but tons of drawings, not only of the movie itself but from earlier ideas, discarded scenarios, initial drafts of the characters and vehicles... There are even cool maps of the other bad guys cities (nowhere to be seen in the movie), and of course lots of pictures of the vehicles and making ofs of some of them. Combine with it some really good stills of the movie, with high quality and nice, vivid colors (as vivid as the movie, that is), some from different angles than the ones displayed at the film.

I might be biased due to my liking of the movie, but I enjoyed every page of this art book. Now it remains to watch the movie once more, with this "extended knowledge".

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