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Warhammer 40k – War Zone Charadon Act 2: The Book of Fire and Crusade: Amidst the Ashes Review

The Charadon System is engulfed in war and Metallica itself is besieged. Typhus The Traveller has spearheaded a plan to corrupt the Forge World in the name of Nurgle, enacting The Warmaster’s plans against the forces of the Imperium. Meanwhile, the legendary daemon prince Be’lakor has plans of his own…

Today we have 2 brand new Warhammer 40,000 books up for pre order – The Book of Fire concludes the War Zone Charadon storyline while also giving players a host of resources for their games, while Amidst the Ashes offers a brand new Crusade Mission Pack expanding your pool of missions and content for your Crusades! If you would like to support the site, then why not order the books through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20%?

Games Workshop have kindly sent us a free copy of each to review and dive into with you all, if you would rather watch than read this review then make sure to check the video below from our YouTube page!

Still with us? Then sit back as we head back into the conclusion of War Zone Charadon!

War Zone Charadon Act II: The Book of Fire

For those who have not read the first part, The Book of Rust, The War Zone Charadon series is a narrative expansion that tells not just the tale of the fall of Metallica, but also contains a host of supplemental content to add to your games of Warhammer 40k.

The Lore

The Book of Fire continues where The Book of Rust ended with the Charadon system torn open with a Warp Rift known as “The Sore” and Typhus readying his assault on the Forge World itself. While The Book of Fire never reaches the highs of the Broken Realms series for Age of Sigmar we do see some lore development here – for those who want to read it themselves I’ll cover this at the very end of the post, but there are a couple of interesting things that happen that do push forward the story forward and leave things open to be picked up in future supplements and Codexes!

Presentation is great as you would expect, with some brilliant artwork along with maps of sectors and battlefields giving you insign into the flow of the conflict. I’d have perhaps liked to have seen the book written more in a “in universe” narrative style akin to the Imperial Armour books with the volume acting as more of a “historical” document of information on the conflict, but fingers crossed we get something of this sort in the future. In addition to the main narrative we also get a number of boxouts digging into further lore on some of the main characters in the conflict such as Morvenn Vahl and Be’lakor, adding a nice way of introducing these to people who are not yet familiar with them.

Campaign Rules

Building on from the Obolis Invasion campaign rules in the first volume, The Book of Fire contains rules for putting together a full narrative campaign to re-enact the events of the entire conflict by gathering together anything from 2 to dozens of players led by a Campaign Master who runs the campaign and makes sure everything goes smoothly.

We’re huge fans of Crusade here at Sprues & Brews, and this really takes things to the next level by having an overarching campaign being able to be played as an additional level of detail and interaction over the standard Crusade rules. It is worth noting that the campaign is designed so that you can use it with any Mission Pack, so if Matched Play is more your cup of tea then you can of course play your games using that. For us, we’ll probably be using the Amidst the Ashes Crusade Mission Pack (reviewed further below!)

The Campaign last for 3 phases (with each phase lasting 2 weeks and a number of games played equal to the number of players), this allows for each player to have a game per week and keep the momentum up over a couple of months before it draws to its conclusion. I’ve found that in the past it is sometimes difficult to work out just how many games you need to have to get a successful campaign, so the book does a great job at guiding this. If you have multiple players they will be divided up into one of 3 different alliances, and it even suggests some lore reasons why unlikely forces might be fighting together.

The players get a bank of “War Zone Assets” which are additional tools that players can use to disrupt their opponents with and are purchased at the start of each phase and banked for later use in individual games on a first come first served basis. This includes things like ordering a blockade of the planet in order to limit the use deep strike, or making a demonic pact so that you can use a Command Re-roll for free, or even perhaps laying a minefield in your deployment zone – these all add some really fun touches that drive the narrative of the conflict.

What’s also really cool is the concept of Heroic Achievements – these are special achievements that players can try and complete during the battle to gain more campaign points or unlock special bonuses in Crusade games – and in an awesome touch in Crusade Games your heroes can earn legendary titles and further abilities by completing the achievement while also fulfilling a number of other requirements. For example in a Chaos army, if your warlord manages to slay another warlord then not only do they unlock a battle honour for gaining the achievement but they also become a favoured of Be’lakor earning the title Servant of Shadow and making them untargettable unless they are both the closest enemy model and within 18″ of the attacker! I really like this system as adds some fun narrative hooks that players will fondly remember in future games, leading to tales of glory in future crusades!

Finally we get a trio of Legendary Missions that represent key beats during the conflict, these allow the Campaign Master to end each phase of the campaign with an impressive showpiece battle to capture the feeling of the narrative.

Army Rules

In addition to the story and campaign we also get some supplemental rules to expand armies including a Order of Our Martyred Lady Codex Suppliment and 2 Armies of Renoun – Skitarii Veterans and the Disciples of Be’lakor (Along with Be’lakor’s new profile to reflect his awesome new model!).

Skitarii Veteran Cohort

The Skitarii Veteran Cohort is an elite Adeptus Mechanicus Army of Renown based around upgraded Skitarii. This is a strong sub-build but does have some specific army construction rules. Everything in your army must be Skitarii with the exception of the option of adding a single one of each of the following: Tech-Priest Dominus, Manipulus, Enginseer and Techonoarcheologist. Your general is also locked into being a Marshal.

As a reward for these restrictions you are able to upgrade both Rangers and Vanguard into Veterans for a 2pt cost. Both units get +1 attacks and leadership along with a 5+ invulnerable save, Rangers always count as being in light cover if they do not move and Vanguard roll an additional dice and pick the best when advancing and never count as containing 6 or more models for the purposes of blast weapons! These seem like pretty good upgrades for your Skitarii and this Army of Renown will certainly appeal to people who want to do an infantry heavy admech force! Obviously you can’t take anything without the Skitarii keyword, but there’s certainly nasty stuff you can bring with just Skitarii!

The Cohort also get some new stratagems allowing +1 to wound for 2 Skitarii units targetting a single enemy unit, +1 attack to Skitarii when they charge (In addition to the extra attack they get in this Army of Renown!), a 5+ wound shrug or the ability to run and charge. Your Warlord can take a trait that reduces the CP cost of these based on which Imperative you are currently in, making these strats very very good!

Order of Our Martyred Lady

In a similar move to the first Warzone Charadon book with the Drukarhi content, we get 4 pages that expand the Order of Our Martyred Lady for the Adepta Sororitas with 3 new Warlord Traits, 4 new relics and 8 new Stratagems. I’m not terribly keen on stuff like this being included in a suppliment and not in the Codex itself, and I do worry this is something we will see going forwards now, with every big Codex release having additional rules elsewhere in another volume.

That said, we do get some fun stuff here.

Saintly Example is a warlord trait that makes another character in your army into the Warlord with their own trait – and for the purposes of slaying the Warlord your opponent has to kill the new Warlord too!

Saint Katherine’s Legacy makes the Spirit of the Martyr rite active in addition to an others that are active and also gives you a 6″ bubble in which any slain sisters cause mortal wounds of a 5+

Martyr’s Strength gives the wielder an extra attack for each wound they have taken, sadly this caps at+2 though!

As for relics we get the following four things to play with:

The Blade of Sacrifice is an interesting one, you can suffer 1-2 mortal wounds in order to cause that many Mortal Wounds on a successful wound roll – combine this with ways of increasing attacks and you could potentially one shot a rival character!

The Helm of the Fiery Heart is a one use only 2+ inv save for a single phase, potentially ace in a tight spot but risky as one use only.

The Sceptre of Vengeance is a pretty decent mace (Sx2 AP-2 D2) that gives +1 to wound against Tyranids

And finally the Candela Scroll is a one use Imagifier relic that gives units within 6″ +1 attack until your next command phase.

We also get 8 new Stratagems including a way of giving Paragon Warsuits Objective Secured and a way of giving units +1 to hit when fighting a target with 5 more models than they do!

Disciples of Be’lakor

As a Daemon player this section of the book has to be my favourite, especially as it has the rules for one of the best miniatures put out by Games Workshop this year, Be’lakor!

The Dark Master is an absolute beast – 2s to hit, Strength 8 and Toughness 7 and clocking in at 16 wounds and 6 attacks he is going to get work done, and thats before we get to his various abilities! He’s going to be tough to take down too, not only does he have a 4+ invulnerable save, but he is also both -1 to hit and -1 to wound! What’s more hits against him cannot be rerolled, negating a large number of beneficial buffs.

He has a couple of nice auras, Lord of Torment lessens bravery and makes combat attrition tests more dangerous while The Dark Master allows Daemons within 6″ to reroll hits of 1 (Including himself!)

There is a restriction to taking him however, as you are not allowed to have any other daemon princes in the same detachment, but honestly he far surpasses any Daemon prince!

His weapon has 2 profiles, one giving him 12 AP-3 D1 attacks, the other hitting at S+4 -4AP and D3+3 damage and ignoring any inv saves! Be’lakor will be eating your Custodes for breakfast!

Such an incredible model now has some phenomenal rules, and I can’t wait to see a new Daemon Codex to see what the studio do with the rest of the range.

Alongside Be’lakor’s rules we also get an interesting Army of Renown based around mixed Daemons and Chaos Space Marines. This has some quite tight army formation rules – You cannot include any greater daemons, daemon engines, World Eaters, Thousand Sons, Death Guard, Emperor’s Children, Chaos Knights, Titans or god specific units such as Plague Marines. There are some pretty ace benefits though, all daemons in range of a locus stop the enemy from rerolling hits against them and are -1 to hit when more than 12″ away. In addition all your Astartes units are also -1 to hit when more than 12″ away from the shooter making this a very nasty army to try and thin out!

We get some really cool stratagems too, give your Astartes a 5+ inv save, make your daemons +1S, make your units count as rolling a 1 for morale tests for banner shenanigans all have great utility, but my favourite is the ability to make the damage of a weapon 0 when you fail a save!! Shrug off volcano cannons all day long!

Chaos Space Marines Appendix

We then get 33 pages of reprinted Chaos Space Marines rules from Vigilus and Psychic Awakening – which I can’t help but think could have been used for other new content! There have been very few changes here other than baking in FAQ amendments or changing it to the style of 9th edition formatting, and for 30+ pages of additional content I’m sure Chaos players would have coped until the inevitable Chaos Space Marines codex dropped. Sorry guys, but really find it hard to justify the inclusion of this when it’s been in some pretty recent books (Certainly more recent than the Chaos Space Marine Codex itself!)

Crusade Rules

Finally the book closes out with some more Crusade content, this ties in with the Campaign earlier in the book with ways of earning campaign badges to show that units have fought in the conflict and additional requisitions, relics and titles they can gain through them.

We also get a new way of causing additional penalties to an enemy Warlord when they fail an Out of Action test – You can spend 1 RP to cause “Insult to Injury” – this gives the victor an additional reward and gives the fallen hero an additional penalty that remains until certain criteria are met – for example Grievous Wound reduces that hero’s Strength and Attacks by 1 until they survive 3 battles, representing the time taken to heal the wound. In a great narrative twist your entire army now has a vendetta against the unit that put your hero out of action, giving them +1 to hit and wound against them when they fight in the future! This is a really fun rule and one of the things that I love about

Summery

War Zone Charadon Act 2: The Book of Fire is a fun book that gives people creating campaigns lots of tools in order to make some fun linked games of Warhammer 40k. We also see more of the Armies of Renown, something I hope is expanded in future as it is great fun to play with a specialised force with some additional benefits. The story while not game changing does push forward the narrative of the game and drops some teases at what we might get in the future. The only real disappointment is the page count dedicated to reprinting material out of previous supplements when it can’t be too long until we see a full 9th edition Codex Chaos Space Marines. Those few gripes aside this is still worth picking up, especially if you have the new Be’lakor in your possession!

Crusade Mission Pack: Amidst The Ashes

Also up for pre order alongside the Book of Fire is Amidst the Ashes, a new Crusade Mission Pack! If you have picked up any of the previous Mission Packs such as Beyond the Veil then you will know the drill here! New Crusade content, new missions and new agendas along with the core rulebook for reference purposes!

For those who have not read the War Zone Charadon series then the book opens with a 4 page summery of the plot and the various locations we are fighting over in order to put the battles you will be having into some context. Crusade is all about the narrative, so it’s great to see players brought up to date with this!

One of the biggest new additions to the system are upgrade trees. During your Crusade you will decide if you want to follow the path of Awakening of the Strong (Which represents the machine spirit of your vehicles getting awakened and upgraded over your Crusade) or the Corruption of the Weak (Which allows you to upgrade your psykers with more auras, abilities and psykers)

Once you have picked which path to follow you can then spend RP to allow your units to gain these special upgrades and slowly work your way up 3 levels of abilities – these upgrade trees all have branching paths meaning that we should see quite a bit of variety in our upgraded units.

This is a really fun addition and I hope we see more of this in future to enable a wide range of different unit types get their own branching upgrade tree reminiscent of RPG or videogame upgrades!

We also get some stratagems that key off these upgrades, both enhancing them or being of use against them, giving armies that may not have upgradable units the tools they need in order to face them!

We also get a full list of Agendas, including some new ones, meaning that unlike in Beyond the Veil you don’t need to flip back and forth between this and the main rulebook to have them all. As with the strats there are a couple of new agendas that interact with vehicles and psykers that will no doubt be prominent in your forces to take advantage of the new upgrade trees.

The main bulk of the book are the new missions – 24 in total with 6 for each battle size from Combat Patrols all the way up to massive 150 power onslaught games. Once of the best things about the concept of Mission Packs is a refreshed list of missions you can play through, and I’d argue this is more important for Crusade as arguably you will be playing more smaller games too, meaning you can quickly play all the missions. By having a wide range of missions in the book means you can keep things fresh with your gaming group and make sure things don’t get stale. As the missions are all themed around the Charadon campaign this is the perfect thing to use alongside the campaign rules in The Book of Fire in order to recreate the entire warzone with your gaming group! We’ll certainly be doing that, so make sure to stay tuned to YouTube and Twitch to see the Crusade progress!

The Back half of the book contains all the core rules you need to play 40k which is a great touch meaning in theory you can just throw this book in your bag with your army and be ready to play. But, just like with Beyond the Veil the core rules for Crusade are not included here, and this means that realistically to play Crusade games you are going to need your hardback rulebook too. I really wish this was included here, even if it was an abridged version with just the key bits you need and I feel the lack of it knocks a point off an otherwise brilliant book.

Summery

It’s no secret that we love Crusade, it really is our favourite part of the new edition of 40k and one of the things that makes us excited to play games. If you even have a passing interest in Crusade then this is well worth the price tag, not only for the new missions but also for the additional Crusade rules such as the new upgrade trees.

One point I do need to call out is that the review copy we have been sent seems to have a misaligned cover with the spiral binding being punched through the spine rather than the flap designed to house it – unfortunately leaving it looking a little ugly on the bookshelf. Hopefully this is just a one off and the ones on shop shelves have been printed correctly. It still opens perfectly fine, its just had the cover slightly misaligned when the holes for the spiral have been punched.

It’s great to see regular Crusade supplements get released from Games Workshop, and I hope these books have done well enough for them to continue making them!

Games Workshop provided Sprues and Brews with review copies of both Book of Fire and Amidst the Ashes

Spoilers…

Still with us? Well scroll down for a few of the spoilerific content from Book of Fire…

After expecting the Imperium to get a last minute victory, the forces of Chaos actually win this one!

Be’lakor is currently working alongside Abaddon, but neither of them trust each other – the clearly have their own agendas and are only currently allied as it is convenient. Be’lakor’s master plan is to steal away the planet of Kolossi, the homeworld of House Raven. He manages to achieve this, pulling the entire planet into the warp and it later appearing elsewhere in the galaxy as a shadowy ghost of a planet hosting Word Bearers, the Alpha Legion and some interesting things that might point to future releases such as slave soldiers , Mutated Cyborgs and the deformed knights calling themselves House Korvax – With Be’lakor stealing away a Knight Household’s planet I do wonder if we might see more chaotic mutated daemonic Knights in the future…

Typhus also completes his objective, corrupting Metallica with a digital virus that is slowly turning it to Chaos. Every time the Mechanicum think they have cleared it from the planet it pops up again infecting everything on the Forge World – because of this Metallica is essentially dead, with all of it’s survivors dedicated to trying to eradicate this reappearing virus. We said it during our Book of Rust review, but I reckon this is perhaps leading to the reveal of the Dark Mechanicum for 40k…

We also see some conflict in the Imperium with Vahl almost coming to blows with the Ultramarines due to her wanting to eradicate any Imperial defenders who have been in contact with the forces of chaos. She pulls rank and calls Exterminatus on any questionable worlds – I guess she is a High Lord after all! But certainly raises questions if the post-human Astartes are showing more compassion for the survivors of the war than her…

I’m enjoying seeing where all these threads lead and do wonder when Abaddon is going to make his grand appearance again, as it does seem that he is trying to take advantage of the chaos of the Indomitus Crusade to strike out against targets that will weaken the Imperium if he were to head to Terra!

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