Saturday, 29 August 2009

Review of The Siege of Vraks - Part Three

I picked up my copy of the third part of the Siege of Vraks Trilogy yesterday. I started buying this trilogy with Part One and was pleased with my purchase even at an eye-watering £38. I decided to collect a Vrak Renegade Army and my regular opponent, Shaun, collected the Death Korps of Krieg.

The book was good value for money with excellent graphics, two new army lists, scenarios, trench warfare, and lots of lovely new models. Shaun and I fought a campaign of very enjoyable battles. The only problem with Part One was the indifferent prose but that was a minor irritation.

Part One gets Four Stars (out of five).

I eagerly bought Siege of Vraks Part Two and was deeply disappointed. There was very little in it that was new and it was a mess. Key rules were missing. The book was padded with repeat data that a buyer would already own. I did not need datasheets for Chaos Land raiders and Rhinos. The Imperial player had only data for Krieg engineers to justify shelling out £40. The Chaos player was little better off with a Khorne variant renegade army list that was a mild reworking of the list from Part One. The worst feature was the truly dreadful prose. I do not know whether it really was much worse than Part One or whether I was losing patience but it stank.

Part Two gets Two Stars (and that’s being generous).

I bought Part Three to complete the set, laying down my £45 more in hope than expectation. My first impression was favourable. Forge World supply a stiff sleeve to take all three volumes. That was a nice touch. The graphics are as good as ever. Forge World have few peers in this area.

There is more new ‘stuff’ in this book. The Imperial player gets rules and data for the Minotaur, Valcador, Inquisitor Lord Hector Rex and a Krieg Armoured Regiment army list.

The Chaos player does well getting info to play Necrosius (a Nurgle sorcerer), Blight Drones and Blood Slaughterers (daemon engines), Gorefeaster and Jibberjaws (monsters), and An’ggrath the Unbound, Scabeiathrax the Bloated, Uraka Az’baramael, Mamon, and Zhufor (various characters).

The new Renegade Army List follows the pattern set in Part Two in being a mildly Nurgalised version of the Part One Vrak Renegade Codex. There is a useful roundup of the various Renegade and Heretic armies that can be used in the Siege of Vraks. The list does not allow the use of the new Blight Drones or Blood Slaughterer models, which is disappointing.

Part Three includes a simple but well thought out Campaign Game system based on area control and a point to point movement system on a map. This is a great idea.

Forge World have included extra Vraks Apocolypse Battle Formation sheets. Some are useful but others are a hoot. I particularly like the Ventarii Reaver Titan Maniple. To field this wonder all you need are three Reaver Titans and three Warhound Titans – on the other hand, you could squander the money on a second-hand car, pay your kid’s university fees, or eat for six months. I cannot see many people fielding thirteen Blight Drones at £40 a pop.

So far so good but now I get to the problematic issue. The prose is still awful to the point that it spoils my enjoyment of what should be a good read. The sentence structure is clunky with over use of sub-clauses in front of the clause, often in multiple combinations. The punctuation and grammar are also shaky. The way paragraph are split is often not helpful for the reader.

I quote below the opening sentences of three paragraphs selected from page 46 to show what I mean.

Paragraph A.
“Then, as suddenly as it struck, it was over. The damage done, the Traitor Marines had fallen back, and left the field to their summoned allies.”

Paragraph B.
“So it had come again. The daemonic incursion that the Visions of Seer Malphius had predicted had started with the followers of Nurgle, now Zurphor’s blood legions had managed to open another rift and done likewise. “

Paragraph C.
“Whilst Zurphor could call upon daemonic aid there was little chance of winning a war of attrition, his reinforcements were effectively endless.”

My final criticism is a matter of taste. I find the writing style overblown and portentous. This approach may be acceptable for a few lines of italicised fluff in a codex or White Dwarf but it gets wearisome over one hundred pages.

I give Siege of Vraks Part Three - Three Stars.


  1. Nice reviews. I haven't seen the books myself, but they sound fair.

    I'm very glad to know that I'm not the only one who gets really upset with the writing in GW products. Have you read any of the Horus Heresy novels? (They're the only GW novels I've summoned up the effort to read.)

    My feeling about the writing in the novels is just as you describe for these books. (Though some are much better or worse than others.)

    Angelic Despot

  2. Thanks very much for the review John!

    I love the FW campaign books, as much for the background and artwork as the new rules and models, and might well consider picking up this one!

    These books are the only really legal lists for renegade guard armies - I think FW have been very astute in picking out a gap in the market after GW withdrew the Eye of Terror codex, and no doubt a lot more players would pick this up if it were not for the heavy price tag!

    In terms of picking up a book for a general and perhaps most comprehensive renegade list, which would you recommend? I already have book 1 but didn't go for the second one after hearing similar comments to your own when it was released.

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  4. Dear Angelic
    The writing in game-novels is often uneven, i.e. D&D. I think this is because they are written by a whole range of writers from solid professionals to fanfic people.
    I sold my first ever story to GW so I am not a disinterested witness.

  5. Dear Pacific,

    Vraks Part One is still the best Renegade List. Part Three is a good second choice. There is little else apart from some notes in the Inquisition Codexes or the old Lost and Damned.


  6. You got yours before mine, but us in the colonies... I play Nurgle so the list interests me. The first list only has one CSM squad allowed... You can have three I think in the second two lists.

    I'm intersted in the rules for Plague Zombies and I'm disappointed that the Drones can't be fast attack for the Nurgle Renegade list. They are fast attack for the regular CSM list? That is still OK for me, but I won't be buying any this year or even early next year in all liklihood.

    I ordered the book and have plans to make a small nurgle renegades list, but I guess I'll run sentinals or hellhounds as my FA choice.

    Imperial Armour 1 & 2 were updated including their tank company rules, they changed the point values of chimeras and leman russes etc. Does the Vraks three renegade list have the old point values or the new inline with the new IG codex point values for vehicles?

  7. dear Muskie

    The Blight drone is in none of the lists!

    I believe the renegade lists in the three books are fifth edition 40K so compatible. Armour 1&2 are much older..


  8. You can kinda tell by the price of a Chimera. They used to be 85 points which came with some guns but few upgrades now I think they are 55 points with a lot of upgrades like spotlight included but also with more gun options that used to be Imperial Armor only are in the IG Codex.

    I don't have any of the relevant books in front of me. But basically the Iron Fist squad seems to have left the new IG Codex but was in the Vraks 2 list I believe, it was definitely in the older lists...

    I don't care much, because I'm running rebels because it will be cool and look very different from everyone else, it is the painting and dollars that worry me a bit...

  9. In Siege of Vraks Part Three a Chimera is 55 points and plague marines are a standard elite choice n- you could field up to 60 in a codex legal army.

  10. Thanks!

    I don't know if that is great news, but it what I expected and what I was lead to believe by reading on the internet.

    Apparently my copy I could have had two days ago if I didn't work. Now I've finally gotten a hold of UPS and it will go to work tomorrow.

    I never paid for UPS though maybe that was the only option, I took the cheapest shipping option.

  11. Forgeworld have started to post overhauls of the older IA books, 1 and 2 have been done. They are mostly current with the relevant 5th edition codeces, with a little FW spice remaining. This includes an updated Armoured Battlegroup list.

    I suspect 3 and 4 next, with 5 and 6 to follow. 7 as stated is already current.

  12. Hi! I've been collecting Angels of Absolution for years. Does the book detail the colour scheme for all AoA units, including terminators?