Thursday, March 24, 2016

E-Book Recommendation: the Tyrant's Champion

The Tyrant's Champion is an excellent Black Library short story by Sarah P. Cawkwell about Vorenus, a warrior of the Emperor's Children who fights along side the Red Corsairs in the 40K universe.  Huron Blackheart, Master of the Red Corsairs, seeks a new champion for his warband.  Vorenus is one of several hopefuls that seek to claim this honor through a trial by combat.

This story provides a strikingly clear vision of what a member of the Emperor's Children should look and fight like centuries after the Horus Heresy.  Vorenus is a true son of Fulgrim.  He is elegant, refined and aloof.  He is swift with his sweeping spatha long sword, eschewing the axes preferred by his less cultured associates.  He is artistic in temperament, entranced equally by the beauty of combat and aesthetic ornamentation.  He wears his former head of ghost fine pale hair shaved close to his head for reasons of battlefield practicality, but still clearly remains a "peacock among the poultry."

The perfection that Vorenus seeks is the rush of battle and experience, culminating in the ideal death in battle.

I highly recommend this book to any fan of the Emperor's Children.  A+

Monday, March 21, 2016

Iron Hands and Emperor's Children

On its face the close bonds of brotherhood between the Emperor's Children and the Iron Hands during the crusade may seem to be an unlikely mismatch.  The Emperor's Children are refined, elegant and obsessed with perfection.  The Iron Hands are grim, purposeful, and abhore weakness.

Yet in truth the two legions are united in their uncompromising drive towards a singular, absolute purpose.  At the highest levels the difference between their respective goals may only be a matter of nomenclature.  Perfection may be akin to strength.  Imperfection may be very similar to weakness.

In each case the obsession may in fact be driven by a deep rooted insecurity.  As detailed in the short story Chirurgeon by Nick Kyme the Emperor's Children were plagued in their early years with a contaminating flaw to their gene seed, which was only eliminated once Fulgrim was found.  The Iron Hands labor in the shadow of their Primarch, subconsciously fearing that their true selves may have been too weak to live up to his expectations for them.

Despite their similar goal, it is undeniable that the ways the legions have respectively chosen to manifest their drive differs greatly.  The Emperor's Children have delved ever deeper into their experiences as sensate beings, ever seeking to develop and experience more.  The Iron Hands on the other hand have seemingly desired to turn their backs on the aspects of their being that make them human, hoping perhaps to deaden the pain and insecurities of their primarch's disappointment by becoming unfeeling machines.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault Review

Drop Assault is a Clash of the Clans style mobile game set in the 30k universe.  You take on the role of either a loyalist or traitor faction of the Emperor's Children, Sons of Horus, Death Guard, or World Eaters and build a base and army and attempt to dominate the planet.  Each legion receives a particular special bonus.  In the case of the EC they have a +10% movement bonus.

The game play is fairly simple, divided into attack and defense.  On defense you spend energy and time on your base to slowly erect and improve buildings such as power generators and munition drops to improve your resources and capabilities.  You also build defensive weapons to repel attacks and  rally zones to muster armies to invade other players.  Each building takes an increasing amount of time and power to construct, which can be reduced by using currency paid from real life or by voluntaily watching ads for other mobile games.

On attack you use the troops that you have gathered to attempt to invade other players and sites and attempt to steal their resources.

At the higher levels of play the EC offer the use of specialized Phoenix Guard, which are like normal terminators but faster moving.

The game also allows you to enter a chapter with other players and socialize,  which is kind of like a guild.  I'm in a loyalist EC themed chapter called Phoenix Guard.

Overall the game is fairly diverting, as long as one has a reasonably high tolerance for the money grabs.  It is fun to see the units and lore of the HH come to life in a mobile game.  

Grade wise I'd give this game a B-.  Worth giving a try but not for every one!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tyrian Purple

Fulgrim is referred to as the Phoenician.  His legion is known as the Emperor's Children and they wear purple.  These are not coincidental choices.

The Phoenicians were an ancient maritime civilization situated on the modern day coast line of Lebanon, Syria and Israel.  It was an enterprising trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1500 BC to 300 BC.  The Phoenician culture helped spread the alphabet used by the modern Western world today.

One of the most prized goods that the Phoenicians traded was a dye called Tyrian purple.  It is a secretion produced by several species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, rock snails originally known by the name Murex.  

The Roman mythographer Julius Pollux, writing in the 2nd century AD, asserted (Onomasticon I, 45–49) that the purple dye was first discovered by Heracles, or rather, by his dog, whose mouth was stained purple from chewing on snails along the coast of the Levant.

The reason that this dye was so prized was that it would not fade over time.   It is believed that the intensity of the purple hue improved rather than faded as the dyed cloth aged. 

The Romans valued the color so much, that it became associated with the Emperor.  A child born to a reigning emperor was said to be porphyrogenitos, "born in the purple".

Bringing the motif full circle is the symbol of the Aquila.  The eagle was the symbol of Roman emperors and is also the symbol of the Emperor of Mankind.  The Emperor's children therefore fitting bear the Aquila and the eagle's wing, alone of the legions.  

The phoenix is a mythical eagle like bird from Greek and Roman mythology, that rose from its ashes similar to how the Emperor's Children rose from the danger to their gene seed in their earliest years.  The phoenix was sometimes associated with Phoenicia in ancient times, and the term of someone from Phoenicia is a Phoenician.  La Fenice was also originally a famous opera house in Italy, which meant "The Phoenix".  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Successor Chapters

Did the Emperor's Children have any successor chapters?

Officially, no.  After the Horus Heresy many of the Emperor's Children were based in the Canticle City on the daemon planet Harmony.  They were led by Fabius Bile, who was experimenting on creating clones of primarchs.  Harmony was invaded in late M31 by Abaddon and his nascent Black Legion, and the Emperor's Children scattered.  What is left of their legion is currently splintered into numerous squabbling warbands located in the Eye of Terror.

There are rumors that various EC groups are led by Lucius, a revived Eidolon, Fabius Bile (the Consortium), Jihar, Dzyban, the Radiant / Oleander and the Sapphire King.
There are also rumors that the Red Scorpions might be a surviving loyalist branch of the Emperor's Children.  The Red Scorpions are notable for their extreme adherence to the virtue of purity, and are a favorite chapter of Forge World.  Their gene seed is renown as the purest in the galaxy.  Red Scorpions participated in the Siege of Vraks, the Anphelion Project, and the Badab War.

The 34th Millennial of the Emperor's Children were also proud loyalists that clashed violently with their former brothers, and the current Death Eagles chapter may very well be their legacy.

Despite superficial similarities other Slaneesh warbands such as the Flawless Host, Angels of Ecstasy, Exquisite Host, Flickering Blades, and the Violators are not believed to be Emperor's Children, although this is far from certain.

Deathwatch Mobile Game

It's often difficult to adapt the rules of tabletop games to computers or tablets.  Attempts have been a mixed bag, with games like Warmachine: Tactics providing reasonably acceptable translations while games like Space Hulk falling disappointingly short  The new mobile game, Deathwatch, however provides a genuinely enjoyable experience.

The game is somewhat similar to Space Hulk insofar as the player controls a kill team of space marines against hordes of nefarious tyranids.  However the controls of the game have been considerably streamlined in comparison to its somewhat ponderous predecessor, leading to superior, more intuitive gameplay.  The game has also been infused with a limited role playing element, where you can select members of your kill team from the ultramarines, blood angels, or space wolves and build them up and watch their skills expand.

Overall one of the better new 40k mobile games out there and a must try.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reflection Crak'd (spoilers)

The Reflection Crack'd is a pretty important short story for EC fans.  First of all it provides a link between the Fulgrim and Angel Exterminatus novels.  Secondly, it firmly confirms that Fulgrim is now himself, and not a demon from the warp.  Not to mention that it kills off my favorite HQ, Eidolon.

The story is also notable because Fulgrim shares some further insights with his legion with regard to the true nature of perfection.  As previously established, Fulgrim does not seem to acknowledge a division between spirit and the sensate material world. 

However the Reflection Crack'd takes things a step further.  In essence, Fulgrim seems to imply that the material world has been infused with a desire to seek more complex forms, greater purpose and more opportunities.  In other words it seeks to attain perfection through advanced development and diversity.

Here are some select quotes from Fulgrim's lips:

"Think of how one measures good and evil and you will see that what I am, what I am becoming, is a thing of perfect beauty.  A thing of goodness."

"This universe began in simplicity, with an event of such rapid expansion that it cannot ever be measured.  In the first fraction moments of its existence, the universe was a place of such staggering simplicity that we cannot even begin to imagine it.  But over time, those simple elements began to cohere, to come together to ever more complex forms.  Particles became atoms, and atoms became molecules until they grew in complexity to form the first stars. . ."

"None of this coming together is random.  It is part of the universe's nature, its tendency towards complexity. . . all things are part of this cycle of building and coming together, from the lowliest organism to the highest functioning sentience.  Given the right circumstances, everything will tend towards becoming something more beautiful, more perfect and more complex.  This has been this way since the beginning of this universe's lifespan, and that nature is as inescapable as it is inevitable."

"If you accept that the universe is constantly moving towards its final state of perfect complexity, and that this is its inevitable destination, then anything that hinders this process must be defined as evil.  By the that same logic, anything that promotes this ongoing journey is surely good.  I am moving towards that perfect complexity, and by hindering my ascension you are acting in the cause of evil."

Surprisingly this mode of thinking has a long history with our own modern perspective.  It is in essence a teleological argument.  Science hypothesizes that out of the chemical building blocks of life, that the original single celled organisms arose.  Those organisms grew more complex and achieved greater possibilities, becoming fish, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals, then humans capable to perceiving their own consciousness and building mighty cities and exploring space.  Fulgrim in essence embodies and universalizes an evolutionary / intelligent design perspective.

The alternative is stasis, puritanical limitations and gradual decay.  Somewhat like what 10,000 years of deterioration have done to the Imperium and the occupant of the Golden Throne.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Emperor's Children Quick Notes

I often have trouble remembering the EC rules, so I made a little cheat sheet of the rules I use most frequently.