Arks Of Omen The Lion Review and Unboxing – Warhammer 40,000
The Arks of Omen have been continuing their mission across the Galaxy, and The Despoiler and The Arkifane almost have their prize. With but the location of Vashtorr gleaned from the minds of traitors, the Dark Angels will not rest until they have their revenge upon The Arkifane after his failed assault upon The Rock. But nothing will prepare them for what they find at the end of their journey…
Arks of Omen The Lion, up for pre order today, is the final part of the edition bridging Arks of Omen series. In this review we will be taking a look at the book, seeing what is new from a gameplay point of view, check out what’s been added for Boarding Actions and delving into the lore and shocking revelations of the story itself.
We have also unboxed, built up and painted both Lion El Johnson and Dante, with videos and images of both for you to check out!
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us free review copies to unbox and check out on the site. If you would like to support us then why not order your copy through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too? We also have recently launched our Patreon and Discord!
So let’s take a look at Arks of Omen The Lion, starting with the brand new kits!
The Lion and Retinue Unboxing
This is the big one that people have been waiting for – Lion El’Johnson, The Lion himself has returned! And he isn’t along – being bundled with a unit of Bladeguard in The Lion and Retinue box!
The box contains the Primarch Lion El’Johnson along with a retinue of Bladeguard veterans to accompany him into battle – these have Dark Angel transfers, but it’s a shame the upgrade sprue wasn’t included, as that frame contains some bits that bit great on Bladeguard. For mine I have taken the heads and shields from the Deathwing Knights in order to make them look more “Dark Angel” than the stock models. Once painted I’ll share some photos!
Also included in the box is an envelope containing some art prints, one of the Arks of Omen cover and another showing The Lion facing off against his brother Angron.
Above you can see photos of my painted Lion, and he was an absolute joy to work on! To make painting him a little easier I kept him in a number of sub assemblies. The scenic base and watchers, The Emperor’s Shield, his sword Fealty, the backpack, his body, and his heads still attached to the sprue. These were all attached to cork with bits of wire to make getting to them a lot easier while painting the model!
There’s lots of cool details and I can see a lot of people painting him up even if they don’t have a Dark Angels army!
Commander Dante Unboxing
Next up is Commander Dante of the Blood Angels! Another kit given new life with an awesome new sculpt updating the old model
While a smaller kit than The Lion, Dante is still an impressive model standing almost as tall as the Primarch on a large base! Lots of the iconic details remain, but he has been brought up to the quality and design of more recent Space Marine kits
Jay has gone for a gritter more burnished gold than usual to represent him during the battle that takes place in the book as he faces off against a Daemon Primarch.
Again this is a gorgeous model and hopefully a sign that we will get more Blood Angels soon in the future after the 10th Edition launch box is released!
Arks of Omen The Lion Review
So on to our review of the final Arks of Omen book itself! Now, there’s not really any way of talking about the lore in this book without going into serious spoiler territory, so in order to make it so that anyone who wants to experience it for themselves can still read this review, I’ll be putting the spoilerific lore content at the very end of the review. What I can say is that it was one of the most enjoyable 40k stories I’ve read outside of the Horus Heresy series. In a similar way to the Broken Realms series, Arks of Omen has told a story branching across two editions of the game, and in it had some great lore development. In Arks of Omen The Lion we see the finale of this series, and with it some massive surprises and twists – Some things people saw coming a long way off, others had me grinning as I digested what was happening! We’ll talk about the ins and outs of it a little further down the article in the spoiler section, but what I will say is that the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, with the story line to continue further into 10th edition. For Age of Sigmar we have seen lore developments in the Thondia book, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we got similar books in 10th edition continuing the story that we see set up here. Also there’s nothing here setting up the Tyranid invasion coming in the Warhammer 40k 10th Edition launch box – so we’ll have to wait a little longer here to see how that plays out.
The book contains some new 9th edition profiles for a number of different units – The Lion, Dante and the various builds of the Enforcers, Navy Breachers and Rogue Traders. What’s cool is that you don’t actually need to pick up this book if you just want the rules for those models, as Games Workshop have provided the rules for free over on Warhammer Community.
One of the concerns that people had about previous supplements was that they had a tendency to sometimes seem like bits of content that could have been in the Codex and had been paywalled behind another book. Thankfully we do not have that here, especially as it is very likely that within the next two months we will probably be playing a different edition of the game with completely different profiles. I could have seen a lot of people being frustrated if they had to buy the book for The Lion’s rules, only for them to only be valid for a couple of months. Instead we get the best of both worlds – the rules for free online, but also including them within the book for collectors who like them in hard copy.
I’m not going to dig too deep into these rules, as you can just go and download them yourself and 10th is just around the corner – but I will say that The Lion looks absolutely bananas with the ability to put out a ridiculous amount of damage a turn!
The bulk of the content in the book are the completion of the Boarding Action content we have seen collected across the entire Arks of Omen series.
We get the rules for the Leagues of Votann, Thousand Sons, Adeptus Custodes and Agents of the Imperium – each with their mustering rules, adaptations, enhancements and stratagems. This completes all the current Warhammer 40k factions meaning that going into the new edition we have the entire Boarding Actions rule set over the Arks of Omen series. I do wonder if we get any more 40k factions in the future if we will get more books, perhaps a collected version of Boarding Action in a stand alone book.
New in Arks of Omen The Lion is a a narrative campaign that can be played just with the core Boarding Action scenery (which can be made up of any two of the Kill Team boxes that have been released this season) entitled “Dread Encounter”. Dread Encounter consists of a number of cinematic scenes from across the Arks of Omen and allows you to play through them and enjoy some very different battles that are a breath of fresh air from the standard “matched play” style games. In the mission “The Red Angel’s Wake” for example, at some point during the game the ship you are on splits in two, and this is represented in game by the two board tiles drifting away from each other. If you are on one side of the ship you can no longer cross over to the other (As the cold dark void of space is in the way) but in a really cool touch you can shoot your weapons across the breach into the other half of the ship! I have visions of the ship breaking up while the two forces still trade fire before dashing to safety.
In another mission “Empyric Erosion” the very matter of the ship is being corroded by the warp, and during the battle the very walls and corridors of the ship start to disintegrate into the warp, leaving the two forces more and more exposed as the ship comes apart around them!
I really like these missions, and the 6 on offer give players some really fun stuff to play through.
There’s also a collection of 12 “Breaching” missions that make use of the new breachable walls out of the Soulshackle box – This introduces a new mechanic where powerful weapons or demolition charges can be used to destroy sections of wall, allowing for some new ways of playing with units able to make shortcuts out of the walls. These missions are well designed with there always a valid route to any room without destroying walls, but taking out the weakened walls speeding up proceedings.
Collectively, the Arks of Omen series has given us a massive haul of content for games of Boarding Actions and I’m very glad that all these rules are compatible with the new edition of 40k, giving us ways of enjoying combat within the confines of a space hulk for the considerable future.
The Lore – Here be Spoilers
So here we go, we are about to dig into some pretty major spoilers here – so if you would like to enjoy the book yourself make sure to jump out here. If you are ready to face whatever maddening horrors lie ahead then scroll past The Lion who is guarding the spoilers from view…
Wow, so where do we begin? I suppose the first big one is where has The Lion been all this time? Well it seems that he has gained the ability to walk the spirit paths through the trees of old Caliban allowing him to travel across the galaxy in a similar way to how the webway works. He has been using this ability to hunt down members of the Fallen, determine if they are still faithful, and if so return them to the light of The Emperor and have them join his entourage as redeemed. Any Fallen he finds who is touched by Chaos he ends with Fealty. Commander Dante has heard rumours and whispers of The Lion, and has had his Librarium tracking the Primach. The book actually starts after Dante has found him, with the Blood Angels hosting El’Johnson as they translocate to the system where Vashtorr has his base of operations.
The Lion and the Blood Angels is not the only force heading there however, as Azreal has gathered together 75% of the previous Legion strength with Dark Angels and Successors alike massing at The Rock ready to deliver vengeance to Vashtorr by following the coordinates The Arkifane had released to them. They are well aware that it is a trap, but none of them are ready for what they will find…
We finally find out just what Vashtorr and Abaddon have been up to. After the War in Heaven various weapons of godlike power had been locked away in a vault somewhere within the Webway. Vashtorr had proposed reconstructing a device of Old One origin which had the ability to create the very Webway itself – think a tunneling device that splits reality and immaterium in order to create new branches of the Webway. With this device the traitors could simply dig through the webway itself until they find the vault and use it to crack open the doors to gain access to these weapons.
The “Key” to this device is made up of three artifacts, two of which Vashtorr has already obtained – The Plagueheart and the Oroboros. The third and final one is located within The Rock, The Tuchulcha Engine. If this sounds familiar, then yes this is already established in lore from the Gav Thorpe Dark Angels books, and was the cause of some considerable drama! Once all three are combined then Vashtorr will have his key. However to hold the key in place and fully harness it’s power he requires a planet sized structure that has been touched by the warp. Vashtorr, showing that he has a sick sense of humour knows of one planet that has been touched by the warp and scattered across the galaxy.
And so, during this entire Arks of Omen series, the traitor forces have been collecting fragments of the former homeworld of the Dark Angels, and Vashtorr has rebuilt the planet in his own image. Caliban, now known as Wyrmwood has been reforged into a horrific Daemon World of nightmare – and this is what the Dark Angels see when they arrive in system. To make matters worse an entire traitor fleet led by the Venegeful Spirit commanded by Abaddon himself is also waiting for them.
Epic battles both in space and on Caliban erupt as the Dark Angels attempt to do whatever they can to stop this defilement of their planet. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Vashtorr wanted, and while the Dark Angels focus on Caliban and the massive space battle above it, he once again gains access to The Rock (Which they very handily brought along to lead the assault) and gets the final part of his Key. Things go from bad to worse when the Daemon Primarch Angron is summoned to Caliban, a foe of unstoppable power.
The Blood Angels and The Lion arrive, leaving the Dark Angels equal parts confused and elated, but there’s not much time for celebration as Dante and The Lion along with the Blood Angels head down to Caliban to help fight off Angron. We see some amazing battles with Primarchs dueling and a desperate rout for the loyalist forces, but with Vashtorr in control of the final key it is too late, his Dissonance Engine is complete – the bloodied and battered loyalists manage to escape, but The Wyrmwood and the Traitor fleet disappear into the fresh hole cut into the webway by the planet…
And yeah, we have a cliffhanger that has some massive potential for the story of 10th Edition. Presumably, if the forces of Chaos now have a planet that can travel the Webway, create Webway paths and even destroy the very passages created by The Old Ones then that alone is a massive weapon of potential, even before they crack open the vault and take the weapons for themselves. I’m really excited to see how this plays out and what repercussions this might have for the galaxy at large, especially as it seems that the Tyranid invasion starts at around the same time.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story and count it as one of the best outside of the Horus Heresy novels, and it really has my mind running at the possibility!
With the close alliance between the Dark Angels and the Blood Angels, along with the raft of models we have had for them, I also do wonder if in early 10th edition we might see a new Codex Angels of Death…
Arks of Omen has been in my opinion the best edition bridging series that Games Workshop have done so far, blowing all the previous ones they have done out of water. We have had a high stakes story with some real universe shattering reveals, and some genuine surprises that had me gripped to the page!
But on top of this Games Workshop have also put out a full complete ruleset for a really fun subgame of Warhammer 40k, allowing people to have tense battles within the confines of a Space Hulk. This is supplimental content done right – not filler content for the sake of page count, but genuinely interesting lore and fun gameplay tied up in a celebration at the end of an edition.
If this is a sign of what content we have to come in 10th Edition then I think we are in for a wild ride!
Arks of Omen The Lion, The Lion and Retine and Commander Dante are up for pre order today and are released Saturday 22nd April
Games Workshop sent Sprues & Brews free copies for review purposes.
Leave a Reply