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November 25, 2010

Woah, a good while since my last post. Sorry about that, dear readers! Real life has gotten in the way yet again, with other hobbies and studies taking my time.

After a posting break it’s always nice to do something different, and this time it’s a “Top 5 at the moment” post. Here we go, in no particular order:

Horus Heresy book series

While I’m not a big fan of WH40K in general, these books have got me hooked. They depict a time long before the current date in the WH40K universe, being more like WH30K, and chronicle the catastrophic events of the eponymous Horus Heresy that see the Emperor’s most beloved son turn on his father and bring the galaxy to a bloody civil war.

There are lots of things to like in HH. The series boasts many of Black Library’s top writers, such as Graham McNeill and Dan Abnett, and most of the books – even the not-too-impressive ones – are pretty ok scifi fare. The books deal with a time period ten thousand years distant, so the writers have a lot of space (literally, too) to move and work in. Reading these books makes me wish the regular WH40K fluff was this interesting, with loads of alien civilizations and humanity’s spin-offs.

The best thing for me, however, has to be the point of view. Many of the books deal with the so-called Traitor Legions, the Space Marines that sided with Horus against the Emperor. Regular 40K fluff simply places a terribly boring and bland EEEEEVUL stamp on them, whereas the HH books tell the stories from the villains’ perspective. It turns out most of them aren’t really evil after all, but instead have all too human flaws like vanity or pride, which lead to their downfall. It doesn’t help that the benevolent God-Emperor starts to take on a more and more sinister cast as the story progresses.

I’ve always loved interesting villains. Sauron? Boring as hell. Saruman? One of my all time favourites. Whenever the time is taken to flesh out an antagonist, a story becomes much more interesting to read. At times you don’t know who you’re rooting for, and even if the antagonist IS evil, you find yourself thinking “Weell, he does have a point there.” The HH books are loaded with this, and the stories of Horus, Fulgrim and Magnus the Red are nothing short of delicious. Granted, some of the books aren’t really worth reading (Battle for the Abyss, for example, is a waste of time and money in my opinion), but the excellent ones more than make up for this.

If epic high fantasy scifi is your thing, give these books a go. I got mine through the Book Depository. You can check the publishing order here, for example.

Dawn of War 2

It’s been a long while since I’ve been this hooked on a computer game. Dawn of War 2 is a real-time strategy game set in the world of WH40K. Unsurprisingly, my consuming of lots and lots of WH40K fiction (see above) led me to pick up this game, and it hasn’t disappointed.

The story focuses on the Blood Ravens Space Marine chapter that lays down all kinds of hurt on orks, eldar and tyranids. The story is fine, the cutscenes lovely and there’s a little rpg element too, as your squad leaders gain experience and you can tailor their skills and wargear to suit your needs. All this combines to make a game that has a significant “one more mission, even if it’s 2 am” element.

I played DoW1 to death when it came out, and I’m glad to see the sequel is quality stuff as well. There’s a trailer below to whet your appetite.

Role-playing games

Miniatures are cool and all of that, but I’m a role-playing gamer first and foremost. RPGs are going through a small renaissance in my regular group of gamer friends, with games popping up here and there. A few days ago I had the honour of guest-GMing a game in a massive campaign my friend Petri is running. The campaign – named Century – is a wonderful X-Filesy alternative history romp, with one game played per year of in-game time. My contribution? Zombies in Estonia in 1936. Fun was had.

Our 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons is going strong as well. A lot of RPGs we play nowadays deal with pretty adult themes, ethics and the like. This campaign is about monsters, leveling up and solving mysteries. It’s great fun, and the social gathering is at least as important as the game itself.

Role-playing games have also allowed me to combine my hobbies with the real world. My master’s thesis (in education) is a survey study about the views role-playing gamers have on RPGs as a way of developing empathic intelligence – social skills, creativity, empathy and so on.

Winter

Winter has hit Finland yet again. While it brings some annoying things with it – such as loads of snow and freezing temperatures – it also provides a lazy student/blogger/gamer with all the peace and quiet he needs to invest in the things that really matter: games, movies, miniatures and so on. Since it’s perfectly acceptable to stay indoors in the winter, it really is the season of the geek. I’ve prepared for a long winter by stocking up on Horus Heresy books and zombie fiction, as well as making sure that most RPG sessions are held at my place. Oh yes, and there’s Christmas, too!

The Walking Dead

I can’t not-include TWD, can I? For my comments on the subject, see this post. We’re having our second TWD get-together with three of my friends this Friday to watch episodes 3 and 4. Can hardly wait!

Those are the five most interesting things in my life at the moment off the top of my head. Hopefully I’ll have time to get back to my regular irregular posting schedule now.

 

 

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8 comments

  1. TWD 3 and 4 are epic man! They continue in the same vein as 1 and 2 and honestly I really like it. Enjoy!


    • Great to hear that, Jules. One more day to go!


  2. The HH books that I have read so far (1-7) have been very enjoyable, with even the worst of those being pretty acceptable as trashy science fantasy books go. I have had an interest in the background since 1989 though, so my opinion is a little biased.

    As you have said, one of the series strong points is that it attempts to give the perspectives of the traditionally Skeletor like bad guys. As everyone knows, the best villains dont see themselves as such.

    Both video games and procrastinating about college work are killing my toy soldier productivity at the moment, but TWD is giving me the itch to get painting again.

    Heres hoping for a productive winter 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment Paul, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with procrastinating issues when it comes to minis.

      WH40K’s fluff is regrettably black and white nowadays, with even the übermensch Space Marines being portrayed as real heroes. I think they’ve lost a lot of irony over the years, as SMs have been made the true good guys of the universe. The HH books give a better description, as it shows the SMs as the genocidal maniacs they are, happy to tear down any peaceful civilization that doesn’t share their dogmatic view of the world. Compared to that, Chaos Space Marines don’t seem all that bad at times.


  3. Vihdoinkin Walking Dead tv-sarja on alkanut.
    Ja kyllä sitä on odotettukin!


    • Todellakin. Ihan loistavaa, että se vihdoinkin saatiin käyntiin. Ylipäänsä sekin, että joku tuotantoyhtiö sen otti hoitaakseen, on tosi siistiä.


  4. Speaking of games taking over…
    I have just fired up ‘Aliens vs Predator’ and ‘Undead Nightmare’ on Xbox360. I am very, very impressed with AVP. Undead Nightmare was very fun and kinda quirky. But as much as RDR’s storyline was fairly rich and well-paced, Undead Nightmare felt a wee bit rushed. Some things I liked, some I didn’t like.


    • So is this the new AvP game? It has been getting pretty mixed reviews, hasn’t it? I liked AvP2 a lot, we played it to death on LAN with my mates, so I’m really interested in the new one.



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