Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shield of Baal: Leviathan Fluff Book Review

I wrapped up reading through the fluff book and enjoyed it immensely. The visuals are very high quality, both original artwork and diorama/showcases for new models. I will talk about how things go in the story line, so Spoiler Alert below the bump.

First up, the intro features some Militarum Tempestus arriving on a world that is quickly overrun with a Genestealer infestation. The splinter fleet that had destroyed Satys in the Rising Leviathan series was headed toward Baal and would head through the Cryptus system to get there.

The introduction is followed by various star maps, where I noticed a prevalence of somewhat hidden skulls. Certainly very menacing.

Just about every image of the planets of the Cryptus system had at least one skull hidden somewhere. A couple I couldn't find, but may have been covered by the text boxes. The Aegis Diamando page below had the most I saw, with at least seven.

The hiding of skulls in the images made for a fun scavenger hunt and also got me really looking at these great images.

The story proceeds somewhat predictably, with the Tyranids easily blasting through the first waves of defense. The Imperial forces have some success on a couple planets, but further on defenders are rapidly overwhelmed.

Each planet's confrontation included introductory material on the key players. These usually focused on the named Imperial Commanders, but the sky battles featured some absolutely impressive drawings of winged Tyranid creatures.

This was a different and really impressive style, where the illustration mirrors the model, but the texture is much more detailed and... wrong. I think these really captured the eerie evil and menace of the Tyranids just fantastically.

As the story progresses, the two planets that initially had success, lead by the overall general of the defense and the Adepta Sororitas, suffer greatly against the second wave. The emphasis of the Tyranid invasion fluff was that the waves of attack were rapidly adjusted to the wildly varying atmospheres of the various planets of the Cryptus system. The newly released kits, particularly the Sporocysts and Tyrannocytes played very pivotal roles in each invasion force.

In the end, the Cryptus system falls, which, for me as a Tyranid player, was somewhat surprising. I am used to Tyranid fluff featuring incredible feats of heroism and bolt pistols one-shotting Hive Tyrants to scatter the swarm. I liked this, despite identifying with the defenders and somewhat rooting for them, because the story arc captured the inexorable hunger of the Tyranids that they are supposed to embody. They are supposed to be a near unstoppable force, and the hopelessness of the defense of Cryptus accurately depicted that.

Of course, the Blood Angles will swoop in and turn back the unstoppable force, but for this book at least, the Tyranids triumph completely.

If you've checked it out, what did you think of the fluff in the book? If not, how do you think the Shield of Baal campaign will play out?

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