Monday, April 3, 2023

REVIEW: Arks of Omen - Angron

Welcome to Arks Week here at Mengel Miniatures! With the final book in the series, The Lion, announced, it's time to cover the three books that followed Abaddon, kicking off today with the angriest of the Arks books, Angron! What has the most violent of the Emperor's sons been up to since his return to the galaxy? Let's find out!

First off, I would like to thank Games Workshop for sending me free PDF copies of the Arks of Omen books to review. I've been really enjoying this series so far. I missed out on the Psychic Awakening books, and even the Gathering Storm, so it's been nice to jump back into the evolving 40k storyline with the Arks of Omen. The series kicked off with the Arks of Omen: Abbadon book, which you can read my review of here. This has been followed up with Angron, Vashtorr, Farsight, and the upcoming Lion book. I have to admit, due to various reasons, I fell behind on reading them and didn't start the Angron book until Vashtorr was getting released. Now I'm all caught up though and ready for the conclusion to the story with The Lion. I'm going to cover each book seperately, and will mostly focus on the lore, while just briefly touching on the rules in each one. What's been nice is that the rules included in here are only needed for the Boarding Actions style of play, so if you're not interested in that game mode then you don't NEED the rules in them, unlike in past narrative books. Having said that, Boarding Actions look like a ton of fun and at 500 points pretty achievable! The biggest hurdle is all of the terrain needed for it that is unique to Space Hulk battles, meaning you're unlikely to already have it painted unless you were doing the newest season of Kill Team as well. I really want to play some games of it though and I'm glad to hear GW say that the rules will be compatible with 10th edition 40k. Now, let's take a look at Arks of Omen: Angron!

Coinciding with the release of the World Eaters Codex and the new Angron model, I initially thought this book would feel shoehorned in to the series. More of a tie in to cross promote the biggest new model than a fully deserved story in its own right. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, I can firmly say that out of the Arks books so far, Angron is definitely my favorite! I really loved the story in here and the way it was presented. The book starts with a bit of story from Angron's perspective, which is always interesting to see. He's obviously an absolute maniac, but also still has some agency. It's a fascinating viewpoint we return to several other times in the book. He seems acutely aware of his damnation and how much the violence of Khorne has overtaken him and his personality and what he's lost because of that. Mostly, his sense of self. He's a tool of violence now.

This is followed by us joining Fleet Quartus, one of the major fleets of the Indomitus Crusade. Long story short, this fleet hadn't been having the best of luck in their efforts and had fallen woefully behind schedule in their planned conquests. That is, until, they discovered the Choral Engine, or more accurately, Inquisitor Glori Emagna discovered it on the planet of Malakbael. The Choral Engine is either an ancient xenos piece of tech, or an ancient human piece of tech from before the Great Crusade. Either way, it's mysterious and beyond anyone's true understanding. At it's most basic though it acts as a mini form of the Astronomicon. They even have to feed/hook up a bunch of psykers to it to make it work. If you're familiar with the Heresy it feels a lot like the Pharos.

This psychic beacon makes it incredibly easy to navigate and coordinate the efforts of the crusade fleet, suddenly giving them the boost they needed. The downside to it though, is that if their own forces can see it so easily, so can the enemy. To Angron the Choral Engine was an affront to Khrone. The psychic beacon was blinding and needed to be snuffed out, and he gathered together as much of his legion as he could to see it accomplished. It wasn't only the forces of Khorne who were drawn to it though, a Tzeentchian warband of traitor marines were also drawn to it aboard their Ark of Omen, intent on beating Angron to the punch to steal the prize.

The Imperials were warned of a coming incursion and were even reinforced by a contingent of Grey Knights. The crusade fleet withdrew as much of its forces from afar as it could to the Malak system in preparation for the invasion. They didn't know exactly what was coning, but they knew something was. The Tzeentchian Ark of Omen and it's fleet arrived first, and while they did some damage, the overwhelming presence of the Imperial forces were able to contain it. At first they thought they had gotten lucky and had over-prepared, and then Angron's fleet entered the system. It was an all-out assault and the Imperials were left reeling. When space battles in 40k are done well, I really love them, and this one was awesome. I don't want to go into too much more detail here, as I really think the story is worth reading on your own. The space battles and boarding actions are brutal, as you would expect from the World Eaters. Kharn has a great time butchering Imperials inside of some ships. Eventually there is a planetary assault on Malakbael, which is where Angron and his forces really get to shine. The ability for Angron to die in game and be brought back via a stratagem is highlighted very effectively here, with the Primarch "dying" several times. An orbital defense laser to the face will do that, even to someone of his stature. My favorite bit from this was him hoping at one point for the death to be permanent to free him from the Butcher's Nails and Khorne's grasp, only to be let down when he rematerializes. So, of course he vents his rage on anything nearby. It adds a level of tragedy to a character who runs the risk of being rather one note.

The finale of the story is spectacular, and I think the best payoff of the whole series. Not only is it satisfying on a narrative level, but the ramifications of what happens are huge. Huge! I really hope we see this thread picked up again in the future, because really, it has a monumental impact on the Indomitus Crusade and the Imperium as a whole. I really enjoyed this story. Every part of it. It's action heavy, but also does a great job of setting up the board for Angron to knock it all over. It also feels "real" in a tactical sense. The Imperials feel like they're actually planning and reacting to the World Eater assault and it's not just a big brawl. Maybe it was the inclusion of one of the Indomitus Crusade fleets, but it felt a lot more connected to the overall storyline of 40k. It felt like it could have easily been one of the Dawn of Fire novels and would've fit right in. The only thing that felt a bit off to me was the inclusion of the Tzeentchian Ark of Omen. It was paid off in the end, but even that felt a little tacked on. It gave the impression that they came up with this awesome storyline and then realized they needed to tie in the Arks and Vashtorr a bit more. It didn't detract from the overall story though.

On the rules front we start to get individual faction rules for Boarding Actions. This includes special rules for forming your party, as well as a few more Stratagems specific to that faction. Nothing overwhelming though, with only a handful of new Enhancements and 6 or so Stratagems per faction. In this book we get the World Eaters, Chaos Space Marines, Space Marines, Grey Knights, Astra Militarum, and Orks. Both the Chaos Space Marines and Space Marines also get unique subfaction rules for legions and chapters with a special rule and Stratagem each. This is followed up with a few new terrain rules for Boarding Actions and then 6 new missions. The core Boarding Action rules are not reprinted here though, and are only in the Abaddon book.

Overall I loved this book a lot and it's my favorite so far.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my review of Arks of Omen: Vashtorr, and then again on Friday for Arks of Omen: Farsight!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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