By Ed Fortune
Games Workshop’s current narrative campaign is Arks of Omen. This is part of Warhammer 40,000’s growing story, where the hell-enhanced forces of Chaos continue to conquer world after world, converting them to the forces of chaos and bringing the doom of mankind to an inevitable end. This storyline involves the Arks of Omen, demonically powered cosmic flotsam made out of things called ‘Space Hulks’, big space station-like structures made up of abandoned and warped starships.
Part one, Arks of Omen: Abaddon, focused on the set-up; the Warmaster Abaddon’s big plan, his demon god allies and so on. This second book concentrates on the finer details of the plan, namely the acquisition of the various MacGuffins required to transform Vashtorr the Arkifane from the Demi-God of demonic technology into a full-on Chaos God in its own right.
When this story begins, humanity is struggling to navigate its way across the galaxy. Cosmic tears, in reality, means that the hellish warp dimension is spilling into space, making it practically impossible for the Imperium of Mankind to get anything done, never mind defend themselves against invaders. Fortunately, a hare-brained plan to ignite the Choral Engine, a sort of beacon in space, seems to work. But of course, this attracts some of the worse monsters in the galaxy, namely a horde of demonic sorcerers and, worse still, Angron and his World Eater warriors; essentially a prince of hell and his warriors.
The result; an epic battle. Because this is Warhammer; all stories end in a big fight. It’s a thrillingly written tale, presented piecemeal and enhanced by some fantastic art. This is the sort of storytelling Games Workshop does best; a multi-perspective tale filled with snapshots of people having very, very bad days in the grim dark cosmos.
Rules-wise, we get expanded details on a mode of play called Boarding Actions. This is intended as close-quarters combat, with the idea that various small groups are fighting in the narrow corridors of hideously altered starships; Warhammer 40K’s iconic Space Hulks.
The previous Abaddon book detailed how to squeeze the current Warhammer rules-set into this space, and we now get rules for World Eaters, Chaos Space Marines, Space Marines, Grey Knights, Astra Militarum, and Orks, and adds stratagems, which honestly, this mode of the game doesn’t need, but it’s fun to have.
We also get rules for special objects/areas on a ship, which ties in nicely with the various types of specialist Warhammer terrain for this mode of play. So the lovely terrain bits from Kill Team Shadowvaults and Into The Dark can now be used to maximum effect as barrels, pipes, and weird computer things can be used strategically. We get some extra missions, which are nice.
One criticism is that it’s a bit of a pity this book only has rules for the core Warhammer 40,000 game. It would be nice for a touch of Kill Team, or better yet, Battle Fleet Gothic and Space Hulk expansions, though as the latter two games are very out of print, this is really just wishful thinking.
Overall, a good addition to the canon; we can’t wait to see where it goes next.