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Sanguinius: The Great Angel (17) (The Horus Heresy: Primarchs)


Nagashsnee
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So read this yesterday as I just could not wait to get my greedy little hands on this. Non spoiler review:

Great book 9/10 does what the primarch series is suppose to do and lets us get to know sanguinius a little better without it going to far in any direction. 100% Worth the read for HH, BA or Primarch fans.

 

Spoiler Review:

Spoiler

Right of the bat I was hooked, the book focuses on in universe author/journalist turned remembrancer who  has suffered reputational damage for writing a book covering the darker side of the great crusade ( night lords, world eaters, etc) and critising the Crusade regime as not living up the ideals it has set itself. And just how this is handled shows me 30k done right, in 40k this book would never have gotten to a legal printer and anyone involved in its writing would meet the sharp end of sticks pretty fast.

 

Here it not only got published, but is pretty wildly read, the negative affects are PEOPLE defending the ‘justified actions’ of the crusade based on its success and criticizing the author for even writing such a gloomy, negative book.  

However it also shows the people who matter DID read it, and did take note.  The author is chosen to write a book on the Blood Angels, who were not covered in his first book as he could not find witnesses/sources on the pre Sang days ( NO WITNESSES BROTHERS!) and he deals in what he can prove is the truth.  He is brought to the fleet as it gathers at Baal for re supply and gets ready to go back out to the starts.

 

Winner number 1 Baal, we finally get to see the difference between a legio and chapter homeworld. The VAST difference in scale, logistics, assets and needed manpower. It feels lived in and real, serfs are well trained and efficient but also get drunk at the local bar after a weeks work. They serve the Blood Angels because they LOVE them. To the Baalites Sang IS Jesus ( or equivalent example saviour deity) and while the moons were left untouched the chapter fortress and orbital assets are full of local serfs who know just how much they were lifted out of perdition by Sang.

Winner number 2: The Blood Angels, they are here and they are glorious, warriors without peers, artists without flaw, shining paragons of the Imperial Ideal, but gloomy. Ever smile is a little sad, every success tastes to them a little bitter. They are humble in the sense that they KNOW they are unworthy of their praise as faultless perfect beings. The book managed to make the ever lingering FEAR the ba have in their hearts, from the Primarch to the last line warriors, fear of their past, fear of their present, fear of themselves. The book posses that they counter this with hope, hope that Sang and his way will lead them to a future where they need not fear what they are, but has vanquished the darkness and can finally bathe in the light.

 

Winner number 3: The Surroundings, every vessels, chamber or even pen of the Blood Angels is as has always been said covered in art, sculptures and beauty. From the outside of their Battle Barges to the tiny handrails of transports that no one but the marine will ever see. A theme in the book is how the protagonist cannot understand why they bother so much, why does the rhinos utility space have to have a fresco painted in it, but as the book progresses he realizes why they do, they do it because they MUST surround themselves with reminders of what they aspire to be, what the Imperium already thinks they are and what Sang hopes he will lead them to. They surround themselves in light to vanquish the dark. And they are dark.

 

Winner 4: The Dark, the FW books gave us the legion organization, and its secret police, and they are handled GREAT. They are there, in the corner of your eye, on the edge of the battlefield, in the dark rooms of the forgotten corners of Vessel, they ARE watching and they ARE waiting. Sang knows that the road away from their ‘issues’ is long and some of his sons will stumble, an others will fall. And that he cannot catch them all. He knows that he has commissioned a book that cannot be published and picked an author who will do what he has to find out why all these Angels struggled to look him in the eye.  But he accepts it, he deals with it, the book will be written for the Day the blood angels can look back at their failures as a history, but history is important and must be studied or repeated.

 

Winner 5 Smart people, at one point the authors reveals his discoveries to another remberancer who has been with the fleet for decades, and she just deadpans tells him she knows, the serfs know, some of the Army knows. THEY DON’T CARE. They love Sang, they love the BA and they will do what they must to HELP them cover it all up. This was the cherry on the cake for me, we see what we always said, no way they can cover it all up all the time for everyone one.  Smart people see thru the masquerade sooner or later but they also see how the BA try and overcome their nature, how they strive to be better  and just end up loving them more for it. Already Sang is being used aa propaganda Imperium wide, he is the Angel and with his death his deification is inevitable, the fact that Jesus died to shields God from the Devil will just make it x10 more effective.

 

The tiny bad: Two issues, one I am not 100% about, but during the war on murder I am pretty sure Horus legion had turned into the Sons of Horus and not lunar wolves as he was warmaster already? In which case the book having them in white armor is a mistake ( tho it does talk about their renaming so maybe its right where they were changing? I don’t remember 100%). Two a small part of the book take place during the War on Murder vs the mega arachinds, and I just feel we did not need to go to already established places. The Galaxy IS BIG, just have them meet Horus and his legion somewhere else.

Ok I could go on and on about this book, but I need to stop myself. BUY IT PEOPLE!

Edited by Nagashsnee
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It was pretty good, still working through all my thoughts about it.

Spoiler

The ending was utterly 40k- grimdark to the max with the main narrator being killed for his knowledge and then the truth of what the BA are/were being suppressed because the Imperium needs the idea of Sanguinius rather than the reality of him more. Really, really pushed home how the nascent Imperial leaders/bureaucracy (time frame around the end of the Scouring I think given the references to the Astartes beginning to follow the Codex organization), was not only changing from the Imperial Truth to the Imperial Cult, but actively starting to repress history and distort fact to shape the Imperium. 

 

Overall I liked it, though it felt quite a bit different than the other Primarch books for me. I don't know why, maybe the civilian narrator, or the fact that it didn't really delve into the BA's history before Sanguinius in the same way other books did for other legions might be the reason. Not saying that it wasn't enjoyable, just that it felt quite different.

 

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6 minutes ago, Lord_Ikka said:

It was pretty good, still working through all my thoughts about it.

  Reveal hidden contents

The ending was utterly 40k- grimdark to the max with the main narrator being killed for his knowledge and then the truth of what the BA are/were being suppressed because the Imperium needs the idea of Sanguinius rather than the reality of him more. Really, really pushed home how the nascent Imperial leaders/bureaucracy (time frame around the end of the Scouring I think given the references to the Astartes beginning to follow the Codex organization), was not only changing from the Imperial Truth to the Imperial Cult, but actively starting to repress history and distort fact to shape the Imperium. 

 

Overall I liked it, though it felt quite a bit different than the other Primarch books for me. I don't know why, maybe the civilian narrator, or the fact that it didn't really delve into the BA's history before Sanguinius in the same way other books did for other legions might be the reason. Not saying that it wasn't enjoyable, just that it felt quite different.

 

Spoiler

See i liked that it was different, the FW books and to a lesser extent Echoes of Eternity cover the Revenant legion pretty well. This book aims to show the BA on a more 'normal' post Sang daily basis. Which for the BA also means showing how the primarch is shaping them to become Angels.  And it works ( for me) in that context. 

 

And she can burn what she like, there NO way that copies ( as she mentions copies) of the book did not get spread to the legion libraries. 

 

Edited by Nagashsnee
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On 11/27/2022 at 11:44 PM, Nagashsnee said:

So read this yesterday as I just could not wait to get my greedy little hands on this. Non spoiler review:

Great book 9/10 does what the primarch series is suppose to do and lets us get to know sanguinius a little better without it going to far in any direction. 100% Worth the read for HH, BA or Primarch fans.

 

Spoiler Review:

  Hide contents

Right of the bat I was hooked, the book focuses on in universe author/journalist turned remembrancer who  has suffered reputational damage for writing a book covering the darker side of the great crusade ( night lords, world eaters, etc) and critising the Crusade regime as not living up the ideals it has set itself. And just how this is handled shows me 30k done right, in 40k this book would never have gotten to a legal printer and anyone involved in its writing would meet the sharp end of sticks pretty fast.

 

Here it not only got published, but is pretty wildly read, the negative affects are PEOPLE defending the ‘justified actions’ of the crusade based on its success and criticizing the author for even writing such a gloomy, negative book.  

However it also shows the people who matter DID read it, and did take note.  The author is chosen to write a book on the Blood Angels, who were not covered in his first book as he could not find witnesses/sources on the pre Sang days ( NO WITNESSES BROTHERS!) and he deals in what he can prove is the truth.  He is brought to the fleet as it gathers at Baal for re supply and gets ready to go back out to the starts.

 

Winner number 1 Baal, we finally get to see the difference between a legio and chapter homeworld. The VAST difference in scale, logistics, assets and needed manpower. It feels lived in and real, serfs are well trained and efficient but also get drunk at the local bar after a weeks work. They serve the Blood Angels because they LOVE them. To the Baalites Sang IS Jesus ( or equivalent example saviour deity) and while the moons were left untouched the chapter fortress and orbital assets are full of local serfs who know just how much they were lifted out of perdition by Sang.

Winner number 2: The Blood Angels, they are here and they are glorious, warriors without peers, artists without flaw, shining paragons of the Imperial Ideal, but gloomy. Ever smile is a little sad, every success tastes to them a little bitter. They are humble in the sense that they KNOW they are unworthy of their praise as faultless perfect beings. The book managed to make the ever lingering FEAR the ba have in their hearts, from the Primarch to the last line warriors, fear of their past, fear of their present, fear of themselves. The book posses that they counter this with hope, hope that Sang and his way will lead them to a future where they need not fear what they are, but has vanquished the darkness and can finally bathe in the light.

 

Winner number 3: The Surroundings, every vessels, chamber or even pen of the Blood Angels is as has always been said covered in art, sculptures and beauty. From the outside of their Battle Barges to the tiny handrails of transports that no one but the marine will ever see. A theme in the book is how the protagonist cannot understand why they bother so much, why does the rhinos utility space have to have a fresco painted in it, but as the book progresses he realizes why they do, they do it because they MUST surround themselves with reminders of what they aspire to be, what the Imperium already thinks they are and what Sang hopes he will lead them to. They surround themselves in light to vanquish the dark. And they are dark.

 

Winner 4: The Dark, the FW books gave us the legion organization, and its secret police, and they are handled GREAT. They are there, in the corner of your eye, on the edge of the battlefield, in the dark rooms of the forgotten corners of Vessel, they ARE watching and they ARE waiting. Sang knows that the road away from their ‘issues’ is long and some of his sons will stumble, an others will fall. And that he cannot catch them all. He knows that he has commissioned a book that cannot be published and picked an author who will do what he has to find out why all these Angels struggled to look him in the eye.  But he accepts it, he deals with it, the book will be written for the Day the blood angels can look back at their failures as a history, but history is important and must be studied or repeated.

 

Winner 5 Smart people, at one point the authors reveals his discoveries to another remberancer who has been with the fleet for decades, and she just deadpans tells him she knows, the serfs know, some of the Army knows. THEY DON’T CARE. They love Sang, they love the BA and they will do what they must to HELP them cover it all up. This was the cherry on the cake for me, we see what we always said, no way they can cover it all up all the time for everyone one.  Smart people see thru the masquerade sooner or later but they also see how the BA try and overcome their nature, how they strive to be better  and just end up loving them more for it. Already Sang is being used aa propaganda Imperium wide, he is the Angel and with his death his deification is inevitable, the fact that Jesus died to shields God from the Devil will just make it x10 more effective.

 

The tiny bad: Two issues, one I am not 100% about, but during the war on murder I am pretty sure Horus legion had turned into the Sons of Horus and not lunar wolves as he was warmaster already? In which case the book having them in white armor is a mistake ( tho it does talk about their renaming so maybe its right where they were changing? I don’t remember 100%). Two a small part of the book take place during the War on Murder vs the mega arachinds, and I just feel we did not need to go to already established places. The Galaxy IS BIG, just have them meet Horus and his legion somewhere else.

Ok I could go on and on about this book, but I need to stop myself. BUY IT PEOPLE!

Ty for the review!

 

Horus kept the Luna Wolf identity for the first bit of his time as Warmaster, it was only later on that he changed the name and livery. Take it as you will but I tend to take it as one of the first signs of him falling to vanity and cracking under pressure. 

 

The entire events of Horus Rising (Including Murder) have the Sixteenth still being Luna Wolves. 

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I'm actually happy that it goes back to Murder, because it's basically the first campaign we see Horus and Sanguinius interact in, way back in Horus Rising. However, it's not the focus of that book - instead, we get the Emperor's Children angle. But it was a meeting that had an impact, and there's really no need to invent another similar campaign in that similar timeframe just to not reuse locations in a short novel that wasn't going to spend all that much time on establishing a new thing anyway.

 

And yeah, Horus refuses to adopt the Sons of Horus name for years after becoming Warmaster. He considers it too self-aggrandizing, like it might look to his less-favorable brothers that he's drinking his own warmaster-branded coolaid. It takes a shift in perspective and being bogged down in Imperial bureaucracy, having to deal with plenty of petty issues that distracted from campaigning. I suppose he realized at that point that he had to put himself on a pedestal more directly, starting to look way too important to deal with nonsense on a regular basis.

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8 hours ago, DarkChaplain said:

I'm actually happy that it goes back to Murder, because it's basically the first campaign we see Horus and Sanguinius interact in, way back in Horus Rising. However, it's not the focus of that book - instead, we get the Emperor's Children angle. But it was a meeting that had an impact, and there's really no need to invent another similar campaign in that similar timeframe just to not reuse locations in a short novel that wasn't going to spend all that much time on establishing a new thing anyway.

Who cares where we see them first? Like what significance does it make? Nostalgia for a book many readers will have never read? Do people get nostalgic for first time primarch meeting scenes?   Re using locations should happen for a reason, the galaxy IS HUGE, having things take place at random new locations only adds to the setting, a name drop and a sort description that adds one more planet to the 30-40k Universe. Hell you can have them meet in deep space, on a station pretty much anywhere, New minor species, new minor wars, new minor planets, always be adding even if we never ever ever see or hear from them again. Tho I understand it might take more effort/time it is in my view always worth it, and I always enjoy it when we see a place/race/thing we have not before. 

 

Thanks all for setting me straight with the whole sons of Horus/Luna Wolf armor thing, could not remember when the flip happened. 

 

14 hours ago, Scribe said:

Sounds like another Wraight winner.

100%. Wraith has easily become one of my buy on release authors with ADB and Fehervari.

Edited by Nagashsnee
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Sanguinius: The Great Angel - Chris Wraight

 

Damn, not just one, but two defining Blood Angels novels in a single year. We are spoiled on that front.

 

I don't know if there's been an editorial change surrounding this subseries, but for my money everything since and including Alpharius has been an absolute banger. Divisive though Mortarion and Dorn were, they both outstripped my expectations for author and premise. And oddly, I think this book is going to be divisive as well, despite the author. I can't wait for the army of Redditors complaining there's not enough Sanguinius in this book.

 

I was mildly worried going into this, Wraight doesn't have a 100% hit rate with me like ADB. The man absolutely gets 40k, and his vision for the setting is 100% in tune with my own. His prose quality is great too, but I think he sometimes suffers, like Annandale, from losing what makes his writing interesting. Wraight's character writing and character payoff are almost always superb, but occasionally his stories wander too far and for too long. Leman Russ was way too action-heavy for a book that was ultimately not really about the action. Valdor, upon further review, falls too often into his "reasonable people having reasonable conversations" habit that sucks most of the interesting elements from a scene. Both result in ~100 pages of slogging to get to the great stuff.

 

Sanguinius is thankfully not guilty of that.

 



I am SO GLAD this book is written in the first person, because if it wasn't I think it would have dragged. Everything being through the lense one of the most realistically portrayed artists (and this is coming from an artist) out of the series makes everything just pop. His little observations, internal criticisms, and biases about both his work and the Crusade lend flavour to any otherwise dry scene. And besides spicing up every occurrence, Kautenya provides an element to the remembrancer perspective that something like Fear to Tread utterly failed at: a civilian's perspective of a legion that does art to keep itself from eating people. I never expected the Sanguinius Primarchs novel to be a Horror piece, but that's absolutely what it is.

 

For all their flair, the Blood Angels are creepy. In most books, the Red Thirst reads more like a shounen hero's dark side than anything: a corrupting influence on someone who is, at their core, good. Wraight (and to a lesser extent, ADB) portray the legion as something innately monstrous; a dark heart wrapped in finery. I adore this take, and I wish that even the more clean astartes like the Ultramarines were portrayed as such. Space marines aren't just big people who are good at killing. They're gene-warped murder-machines for whom it is useful to be civil. And seeing our unlucky POV slowly peel back these layers, to his mounting distress, is incredibly compelling. 

 

Now, anyone who wants Sanguinius' detailed origin story on Baal where he sucks up all the pagetime is going to be disappointed. This is a novel about Sanguinius in the same way Master of Mankind is about the Emperor. Sanguinius is a central figure, and he has great moments, but the book is about who he is to others, not just who he is to himself. Wingboi himself only gets a few conversations, but his shadow is cast across the entire story. And as a ~200-page story about a remembrancer discovering the dark heart of a legion, it's expertly done.

 

Other things I liked: 
  • Bel Sepatus getting more pagetime retroactively makes his inclusion in Saturnine feel less forced.
  • The epilogue is disturbing in an entirely different way than the rest of the tale.
  • Iacton Qruze is great here.

Comically minor criticisms:

  • When a novel is this good, small flaws are more apparent. I thought the descriptions of the fighting on Murder bordered on overling.
  • I don't like that Kautenya said of the Emperor's Children "nobody liked them." It feels like a legion stereotype in a book bending over backwards to avoid legion stereotypes.

 

TL:DR This is awesome. 9.5/10

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I need time to chew on this before I write a review... 

 

But I think Ive gone crazy. I genuinely hate this book, its probably the single worst thing I've read by Wraight despite the basic structure being his typical brilliance and a clever idea.

 

But... the result is literally horrible, I actually think its my least favorite Primarch book by a country mile. I need time to organize my thoughts on it before I try and defend it in a review but... dear god do I think its a terrible book.

 

This is a book about incompetent and kind of horrible people being horrible in the most blase and kind of silly ways possible. And somehow it does not even achieve being funny in the process. I am flaberghasted since I am usually a Wraight fanboy.

Edited by StrangerOrders
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38 minutes ago, StrangerOrders said:

I need time to chew on this before I write a review... 

 

But I think Ive gone crazy. I genuinely hate this book, its probably the single worst thing I've read by Wraight despite the basic structure being his typical brilliance and a clever idea.

 

But... the result is literally horrible, I actually think its my least favorite Primarch book by a country mile. I need time to organize my thoughts on it before I try and defend it in a review but... dear god do I think its a terrible book.

 

Oooh, very excited for that, confused as I am.

 

EDIT:

Quote

This is a book about incompetent and kind of horrible people being horrible in the most blase and kind of silly ways possible. 

 

Now I'm even MORE confused!

Edited by Roomsky
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4 hours ago, Nagashsnee said:

@StrangerOrders honestly looking forward to your review.  I love totally different view points on books/film.  And worse primarch book yet is a low low bar to set. 

 

Indeed, I still resent the neurons I wasted on Vulkan.

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As a slight tangent I'm wondering is, or could, the main PoV character be the same AK who wrote the HH Black books?

 

Thought only occurred as I was re-reading the first couple of chapters and the bit with him thinking the other rembrancer pronounced his name, then combining the remarks throughout the story regarding his previous work from different characters, how it was written, perceived and apparent censorship, makes him a good candidate in my opinion (got a wry smile when it's title was mentioned) 

 

 

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Ok comprise solution, the work started by Malcadors mate and got taken over by their children with the same name, John 1-2-3-4 etc thus leaving the initials the same. 

 

Tho Laurie Goulding's  work being badly though out suprises me little. 

Edited by Nagashsnee
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I’m really enjoyed this; what with the remrembrancer parts being the highlights of Dorn and this book being so damn good I’m left wondering as to what might have been if their order was the common thread for every book in the series. 
 

certainly it may have been more consistent but 

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8 hours ago, aa.logan said:

I’m really enjoyed this; what with the remrembrancer parts being the highlights of Dorn and this book being so damn good I’m left wondering as to what might have been if their order was the common thread for every book in the series. 
 

certainly it may have been more consistent but 

I really should stop writing things as I drift off to sleep. But what? I’ve no idea…

 

The Primarchs series has, I think everyone will agree, been patchy at best. I think some of that unevenness has been down to it’s vague concept- origin stories? Exemplary battles? Fleshing out obscure references? Had the series have stuck with a theme of remembrancers, either as narrators, framing devices or even recurring characters I think it might have helped distinguish these books from the main Heresy series.

 

Anyway, Sanguinius is really very good. I like the way that Wraight plays with some of the tropes of vampire fiction and I do like the way it links directly to the start of the series. It’s less on-the-nose than other books that do the same and is more than a direct re-telling of already covered events.

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On 12/3/2022 at 4:40 PM, StrangerOrders said:

I need time to chew on this before I write a review... 

 

But I think Ive gone crazy. I genuinely hate this book, its probably the single worst thing I've read by Wraight despite the basic structure being his typical brilliance and a clever idea.

 

But... the result is literally horrible, I actually think its my least favorite Primarch book by a country mile. I need time to organize my thoughts on it before I try and defend it in a review but... dear god do I think its a terrible book.

 

This is a book about incompetent and kind of horrible people being horrible in the most blase and kind of silly ways possible. And somehow it does not even achieve being funny in the process. I am flaberghasted since I am usually a Wraight fanboy.


Don’t forget your review! I’m wondering if it will line up some with my thoughts (I like the book, but I wish it wasn’t a primarch novel, especially Sanguinius’s).

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On 12/9/2022 at 6:54 AM, aa.logan said:

I really should stop writing things as I drift off to sleep. But what? I’ve no idea…

 

The Primarchs series has, I think everyone will agree, been patchy at best. I think some of that unevenness has been down to it’s vague concept- origin stories? Exemplary battles? Fleshing out obscure references? Had the series have stuck with a theme of remembrancers, either as narrators, framing devices or even recurring characters I think it might have helped distinguish these books from the main Heresy series.

 

Anyway, Sanguinius is really very good. I like the way that Wraight plays with some of the tropes of vampire fiction and I do like the way it links directly to the start of the series. It’s less on-the-nose than other books that do the same and is more than a direct re-telling of already covered events.

I have not bought or read a single Primarchs series novel for that very reason. What is this series supposed to be?

 

I had hoped they would use this series as Origin/Great Crusade/Explain why they and their legions have certain traits etc. I definitely wanted a pre-HH setting for these to flesh out the Great Crusade.

 

So that, combined with mixed reviews, meant I avoided.

 

But if I was to pick up an individual book (rather than invest in another series) should it be this one?

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Hail!


Well - I finished the book the other night, and I enjoyed it. It was good - and no doubt that it is among the best offered in this series. 

 

I liked the portrayal of Sanguinius and the pay-off in the end was - for me - satisfying. 

 

Faithfully,

Master Ciaphas

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1 hour ago, DukeLeto69 said:

 

 

But if I was to pick up an individual book (rather than invest in another series) should it be this one?

What factions do you pay if you play the miniature side? What are your favorite factions? 

 

For me the answer is yes but i am a BA fan. If you for instance like Iron Warriors their primarch entry was also great etc. 

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45 minutes ago, Nagashsnee said:

What factions do you pay if you play the miniature side? What are your favorite factions? 

 

For me the answer is yes but i am a BA fan. If you for instance like Iron Warriors their primarch entry was also great etc. 

I have not played a TT game for about 20 or so years! I am an old timer who started out playing First Edition 40k (Rogue Trader) in late 80s. Played 2nd and a little bit of 3rd but then...life, wife, kids (same for all my gaming friends). However, Black Library (and codexes etc) kept me invested in the setting/lore which I still love.

 

When I did play my armies were strictly homebrew (and a bit crap, painting wise and my tactics lol).

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