Sunday, August 19, 2007

REVIEW: Siege of Vraks

I'm back with a review post, but don't get too excited - my posting will still be erratic over the next few weeks.

Siege of Vraks is a slimmer than usual Imperial Armour book because it is split across two volumes. This first instalment concerns the initial 9 years of the siege; it's inception, the gruelling fight between the Death Korps of Krieg and the Renegade Militia under Cardinal Xaphan, and the intervention of the Dark Angels Space Marines. It ends unresolved, with dark hints that Chaos forces are to reinforce the Renegades more openly.

The book has four main sections. The background to the conflict is the largest section. It suffers from the same problems as previous books, namely spelling mistakes and clumsy writing, but the ideas are good. In tone and spirit it is pure 40k, especially the reasoning behind the decision to lay siege rather than pursue other options (such as planetary bombardment). The relationship between the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines is interesting because it illustrates that although the two forces are on the same side, they do not necessarily communicate well about the war and their objectives. This friction explains much about the Imperium as a whole.

The narrative serves as a jumping-off point for the scenarios, which are a much smaller portion of the book. There are 7 in total. I think they provide interesting games as they are largely devoid of Space Marines. 40k is a completely different game without their dominance.

The Death Korps of Krieg army list represents an Imperial Guard army at siege and is composed mostly of infantry and artillery. I have heard some murmurs of complaint from some players because it is relatively prescriptive in it's list choices. I think this is necessary as surely part of Forgeworld's remit is to provide alternatives and variations on Games Workshop's core army lists. If you want a regular Imperial Guard army then use the GW codex (with Death Korps of Krieg doctrines if required). The Forgeworld list represents a siege variant.

The second army list is for the Renegade Militia. It allows you to play an IG regiment that has just 'turned' to Chaos, so it only has a handful of changes from the standard IG list. Morale is random, which makes for a characterful choice; it's great for narrative or scenario driven play but competitive players will hate the randomness. Ogryns have been tweaked as have the psykers.

Of course, the best thing about both armies is the fantastic range of new models Forgeworld have produced for them. I need another army like I need a hole in the head but I'm tempted by both of these forces.

The artwork is, if anything, even better than that of previous Imperial Armour books. Some people complain about the repeated vehicle technical drawings with slightly different paint schemes, but they are well done. The treated photographs of the models are really superb but I think the best artwork is reserved for the full colour plates of the major combatants. These represent a Death Korps infantryman, a grenadier, a Renegade Militiaman and an Orgyn Berserker. A special mention must be made of the poster which comes with the book. This has a map of the battlefield on Vraks on one side which is just crying out to be used for a campaign, and a diagram of the Death Korps infantry squad and company organisation on the other.

Excellent stuff.

All in all, then, I think this is a very good publication and deserves an 8 out of 10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

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