Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Military SF, A Signed Novel Giveaway, and the Worldcon SF Convention

With the big three-day weekend coming up, I have three big announcements to make (well, relatively big, blog-world speaking).

1. I have just published my almost-award-winning novelette of military sci-fi action, The Thorne Legacy:

Corporal Cranston Thorne is the black sheep of the family and about to be kicked out of System Guard for his selfish and reckless behavior. His father, Captain Thanos Thorne, would like nothing more than to see that happen, but unfortunately he can’t stay for the court-martial; a remote outpost has gone silent and he must take the fleet out to face a possible attack. But in the fleet’s absence, it’s the planet that is attacked and it’s up to Corporal Thorne, who’s never cared about anyone but himself, to save planet Giger and restore the family name.

This novelette was a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, first quarter, 2012, and is part of the forth-coming Endless Dark trilogy.

This story is available only in e-format and can currently be found on and

2. I have joined up with Cricthon at Your Daily Sci-Fi on Facebook to announce a drawing that will run through the holiday weekend. Anyone who "likes" that Facebook page and "likes" the contest announcement or "befriends" my own J. D. Brink Facebook page will be entered into a drawing to win a free signed paperback of my fantasy novel Tarnish. Cricthon will determine the winner and announce it on Tuesday. The contest ends at 11:59pm on Monday, September 2nd (so at midnight).

3. This weekend is WORLDCON, the World Science Fiction Convention, and it's right here in San Antonio. Thanks to the gang from the Writers of the Future Contest for tipping me off, because the local media certainly didn't! (They tend to talk about things AFTER they're over... "Happy Monday morning, San Antonio! Guess what you missed THIS weekend?!") I'm really hoping to make it downtown to check it out but haven't found the time yet to look over the convention schedule to see what day would be good for me. The biggest event of the weekend will be the Hugo science fiction awards ceremony (which is a really big deal!) on Sunday evening. It'd be really cool to attend that but I doubt i'll be available on Sunday night to make it. But hopefully I'll see some of you folks reading this right now downtown at the convention!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Usual Suspects (part 2): Mutant Ogres on Parade

A flash of inspiration hit me a week or so ago and I immediately got on Ebay to see what I could see.  I decided that it was time to get me some of them thar big ugly fantasy warhammer ogres to add to my 40K Chaos forces.  And so I did.  And to my own surprise, I jumped right in and got all six put together, mutations and all, in a mere two days this weekend.

They were pure fun to assemble.  Unlike the teeny, tiny parts of a Dark Eldar model or Daemonette, the ogres are big guys with big parts and pretty basic.  That doesn't mean I skipped the part where I just stare at my choices and survey sprues imagining good combos.  And with the vast array of bits provided, plus other bits I've acquired here and there, I decided that I need more bodies!  The Ogre Bulls box comes with six bodies but enough bits for many more.  I may have to get me some more bodies just to use all the good parts and see what other mutant combos I can come up with.

So what will I use them for?  I'm big into "counts-as" and conversions, especially for Chaos forces.  If I'm fielding mostly Chaos Space Marines I'll likely use them as Spawn.  The S5 T5 W3 stats fit well.  For my newly dreaming Daemon army, I'll likely use them as Bloodcrushers -- big brutes of Khorne with S5 T4 and W3, plus AP3 blades.  I am also thinking of using a couple of them as Heralds, minor HQ models also with high stats and stamina.

This first one is the master hunter, the pack leader.  He looks more cunning than the rest.  Lots of personality (and none of it good).

My standard bearer made use of a unique weapon bit, the man-trap.  It's hand-held and I decided to have a third hand protruding from the hole in his stomach to hold it.  I had to have a long, curved snip of paperclip drilled into the ceiling of his gut hole and then into the hand, plus some greenstuff for a forearm.

I call this guy Bert and Ernie.  I was originally thinking of that name going to the last model on this list (more ironically fitting), but these guys have more of the Odd Couple mismatched roommates thing going on. I really wanted to put a two-headed guy in here somewhere, especially since there were so many head options -- it seemed a waste not to use more than six of them.  I filed down the neck-knob and pinned these heads off-center.  It was difficult to get them both in there without crowding.  The placement looks a little awkward in this pic, more so than it does in the flesh.

I was determined to have someone with a big toothy maw in that gut hole.  I started out trying to cut up knife bits then found some extra Seekers of Slaanesh spiky parts in a little baggy.  It didn't quite turn out as nice as I'd have liked, but my fingers are too big for anything better.  There's really not much room to work with here.  But that's okay -- mutants mouths should be uneven and grusome.  This model is also my Instrument player should I pay for one -- he's a yodeller, ya see.  And rather than risk screwing up that beautiful singing voice, he developed another mouth to do the flesh-eating work.

My first assembled and my bad-ass.  He'll double as a Herald of Khorne.  Outfit the Herald with a Juggernaut and he becomes S5 T5 W3.  I can definitely see him joining my beatsmen squad (counts-as bloodletters -- still need to put them together too) and lumbering into combat.

My last I call the Ventriloquist, for obvious reasons.  He was almost Bert and Erie, for obvious reasons.  This big fat triple-chinned head was actually my favorite one and I wanted it to be special.  This guy (or one of these guys) I might also run as a Herald of Nurgle with my zombies (count-as plaguebearers).  Give the Herald a palaquin and he's even more durable and bulky than the Khorne Herald. I stuck the head on one of only two arms that actually stick out like that, then greenstuffed them together with some strands of goop.  So the second head is more a growth, like his twin brother of something.  And notice how the main head's mouth is closed while the puppet is talking -- he's good!

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Eldar Heavy Support (part 2): or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Bomb (part 7)

This is my last installment of How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Bomb (the reference made here, my friend Josh assures me, everyone understands).  Here I will briefly look at the last two categories of Eldar Heavy Support: the Wraith constructs and Grav-Tanks.

Wraith Lord:  The WL was always a staple in my Eldar lists.  I love that I can have a faceless monstrous creature of pure wraithbone animated by the spirits of the dead.  I always liked the look and style of the big, smooth head with spindly limbs sasquaching it across the battle field, flaming units of infantry to death and tearing tanks apart with its bare hands.  This was the heaviest of all heavy support for them, at least in 5th edition.  No longer...  In order to make room for the bigger, better, more expensive hugiest thing you've ever spent a whole paycheck on, the wraith lord had to take a hit in the Strength department, from S10 to S8.  You can, however, buy a ghostglaive to boost it up to S9 and gain a Mastercrafted reroll.  Other than that, the WL is pretty much unchanged.  He never did get that invuln save we were all hoping for, but I suppose 3+ and T8 isn't too shabby.  You can still swap out flamers and/or shuriken catapults, and give him up to two heavy weapons.  Personally, with the advance of shuriken technology ("bladestorm" cutting everything on 6s), I'll likely just opt to give him a shuriken cannon and a pair of flamers, plus the ghostglaive.  The downfall of this monster is close combat -- while nearly nothing can stand against him, a big crowd would keep him bogged down for hours.  Thus I have 2 flamers for crowd control, and the close combat bonuses the glaive provides.

Wraith Knight:  Not to be outdone by the Tau, the Eldar now have a model your kids can ride around the yard on.  The Wraith Knight is the biggest, most brutal word in Eldar warfare.  It resembles the WL in its stats, but now it has the S10, 6 wounds, can jump, comes with two wraithcannons (S10, AP2, distort) and options on even bigger, more shootier cannons, and can even get itself an invuln save (which the lowly WL was never allotted).  This is the next best thing to a titan and certainly one of the biggest hype items the Eldar have had since the invent of the aspect warriors (circa 1991).  And I'm sure that even though, dear readers, many of you have read article over article about these giant baddies, you're hungry for more confirmation here of their abject awesomeness. Sorry to disappoint but...  I'm not a fan, for many reasons, which I wno't go into.  Chalk it up first and foremost to stubbornness.  I never needed one before and I don't need to jump on that bandwagon now (nor do I have the spare cash -- that's like a car payment or something).  So to sum up:  They're huge, they can't be killed, they throw nuclear bombs like footballs.  Have one and you will win 8 out of 10 games.  Nuff said.  

Grav-Tanks:  I'm kind of clumping these together because the main difference is turrent-mounted.  Overall, the Eldar excel at speed and grace, and even their tanks exemplify that.  Fast skimmers that can jink past missiles and lascannons, bolt across the field and let fly with a hailstorm of hyper-charged death.  They kick a lot of ass.  Of course, in 6th Ed vehicles aren't what they used to be, but having speed and that jink save certainly help make the Eldar's vehicles a little more valuable. 
     Falcon:  The falcon is your back-up heavy transport.  It can carry a small squad of 6 (most often for me a unit of fire dragons) and still deliver two turrent-mounted heavy weapons.  One of those is always a pulse laser (S8 AP2 Heavy2), one of the biggest guns in the Eldar arsenal, and the other comes from the standard list of options.  I predict (and have used) the scatter laser will be the most common of those, since its new laser lock ability will make your pulse laser twin-linked.  I also predict that even though this is a great heavy choice for its weaponry and transport ability, with the new and improved Wave Serpent (carries 12) and the terrible abundance of Heavy Support choices to be made, that the Falcon is going to get a lot less use than it used to.  When the Serpent can carry more, endure more hits, and now cast its shield off for D6+1 S7 ignores cover hits on a target, AND not take any force org slots doing it, I think the Falcon may be headed for the scrap yard.
     Fire Prism: This is your high-penetration, anti-armor tank.  The Fire Prism now has 3 modes of fire and apparently cannot piggy-back shots like they used to (because there's no need).  These 3 modes go from S5 AP3 Large blast, to S7 AP2 small blast, to S9 AP1 Lance.  Whatever your target, there's an option for you.  Killy, very killy.
     Night Spinner:  Whereas the Fire Prism is for killing heavy things, the Night Spinner is best at killing lots of little things.  Its monofilament-casting Doomweaver also has two modes: S7 AP6 large blast barrage, or S7 AP6 torrent flamer template (both also get AP1 on to-wounds of 6).  Great for catching lots of models under one blast.  Used to be twin-linked, which was nice for those high deviation rolls, but not anymore.  That's okay, I think it'll still do well...

In summation, I'll say again that the only Eldar choices that are harder to make than the limited 2 HQ choices are the limited 3 Heavy Support picks.  There are just too many good units to pick from, all of which are durable and deadly.
* * *

And now that my review of all things 6th Ed Eldar is complete, I suppose I should go play with some!  (Though I've been on a Chaos/Daemons kick lately...  I am happy to say, though, that the new Space Marine release is having no effect on me, even though I have a great Crimson Fist army I could play with.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Usual Suspects (part 1): Chaos Marine List, 1250 pts

I have here what I thought would be a fun and well-balanced list for 1250 points, complete with mugshots and favored by the Prince of Excess Himself.  (Mugshots don't have the best lighting, btw.)  I then employed this list against J's new Tzeentch daemon army.  It's fair to say that it was a massacre favoring the Lord of Change, though I still think it's a pretty nice list.  In italicized text below each entry is how they fared in the battle.

(HQ) Baphemut, Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, accompanied by his lover slave Cassandra (spell familiar).  Baph had a chaos boon, was a level 2 psyker (slaanesh and biomancy), and had a 3+ armor save. 
Baph accomplished pretty much nothing when J's soul grinder instant-killed him with a S10 daemonic gaze (is it me or should DPs have eternal warrior???)

(E) Fun Bags, six chaos marines possessed by daemonettes.
The girls would have charged J's DP but he was winged and zooming, thus out of reach.  They eventually charged the soul grinder, me thinking I would have my S5 against his rear armor of 11 (thus enough rolls of 6 could glance it to death) but now I realize against a walker it's front armor so...  they couldn't have hurt it.  The game ended here.

(HQ) Rasputin, sorcerer and warlord.  He was a level 2 psyker (telepathy and pyromancy) with an aura of darkness (invuln 5+).  With his LD 10 he was the army Warlord.
His only actions all game were to use Puppet Mastry on the soul grinder, seizing control of its 3-shot autocannon to wound the enemy daemon prince, both on the ground and when in flight (it has skyfire mode too).
(T) The Bluebirds of Happiness, 8 CSM, champ with boon and powersword (or very cutty chainsword in this case) and one CSM with plasma gun. 
The Bluebirds and Rasp spent the whole game inside their rhino with only Rasp and the Plasmagunner peeking their heads out the ports.  Not very effective but i figured they'd be quickly killed outside by the two units of 20 horrors that were each throwing 4d6 bolts of magic at me per turn.

(T) The Party Boys, cultists with a flamer and shotgun.
They were thoroughly burned to cinders but a unit of Tzeentchy Flamers.

(E) Sirens of Slaanesh, six noise marines.  The champ had a boon, sonic blaster, CCW, and doomsiren.  The rest were equipped with sonic blasters save Molly, who wields the blastmaster.
They got a few shots off but not many before being whittled down to nothing.  Pink horror blasts killed some, the screamers' fly-by attack others, the Molly was finally killed by the DP's fly-by talon attack.  I took a little comfort knowing that the DP was removed form the board by the fickle gods in next turn's warp storm -- Slaanesh punished him! 

(FA) Tiamat the Destroyer! (single spawn with mark of nurgle to bolster his toughness to 6.)
Tiamat and the Party Boys were all supposed to charge a huge mob of horrors at the same time but the cultists tripped over their untied laces and didn't make it.  One spawn against 17 horrors...  Ate two and then was torn to pieces.

(HVY) Big Hank, Defiler
As usual, I never get to play with my favorite toy!  J got the first turn and scored a S10 AP1 penetrating hit before the defiler could even move -- BOOM!  Explosion!!

(HVY) Lefty Barnes, Freelance Obliterator
First casualty of the battle, killed by a hail of horror witchfire while he was peeing in the corner -- he didn't even know the battle had started yet!


I think we called the fight after turn 3, maybe as far as 4 but by then I only had the rhino and it's cowardly riders and the daemonette-possessees left.  It was a slaughter.  But it was still cool to see the daemons in action!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tarnish Paperback on Sale on Amazon

I was checking to see if Amazon had the paperback version of Tarnish up yet and lo and behold, they're opening its first appearance with a sale!  For anyone interested, you can order the heavy-duty, 400-page book for 25% off right now.  (That's $10.45 vice $13.95.)  AND you can get shipping free if you combine it with other Amazon buys in your shopping cart!

Click here and enjoy.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New Eldar Heavy Support Review (part1): or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Bomb (part 6)

There are a lot of difficult choices to make when assembling an Eldar force, and none more difficult than picking your Heavy Support choices.  There are EIGHT of them now (which is why this is part 1 of Heavy and part 6 overall), and all of them are pretty damn good.  Not all of them are choices that I would personally make (I'm not jumping on the gigantic, hip, and expensive wraithknight bandwagon, for example), but I will talk briefly about them all and, as always, give you may personal take on them (your views may vary from my own).

Dark Reapers: As I am an Aspect Warrior fan, I almost always field me some reapers.  These guys have traditionally been one of my anti-marine units, and they are even better now than before.  Basically, everything they were before they still have -- basic reaper launchers are the same (S5 AP3 Heavy2) and the Exarch options for Shuriken Cannon, Tempest launcher, and EML are pretty much the same (though the EML now Pins and can take skyfire ammo).  Reapers got even more kickass in that they can all be upgraded to use Starshot ammo (krak missiles with pinning -- and by the way, so glad they got their own name for this now too -- "krak" is an Imperial word and not fitting for an Eldar spelling bee).  This gets expensive but it's a fantastic way to go.  You still have their reaper launcher but you are now anti-vehicle too!  And they are now Slow and Purposeful, which means they can move and still fire their heavy weapons, which is great!  Downside is they can't Overwatch, but we never had that before anyway so no loss (and let's face it, if they get charged they're pretty much dead anyway--unless Ra is with them, he's Death incarnate).  The new codex also finally gave the fluff about their helmet vanes some purpose: they can track fast-moving targets, thus negating any Jink saves, which adds to their anti-vehicle power.  And, for you spam fans, they can now have a squad of up to 10 models (vice 5).  That's a lot of points but anyone who invests in that will utterly destroy at least one target unit per turn.  So in total, I can't see an Eldar army without them.  Traditionally I would always have 3 reapers plus a tempest exarch but with the new options I may not necessarily go tempest all the time anymore.

Vaul's Wrath Artillery Batteries: I personally haven't used these much, and with all the other outstanding Heavy choices available, I can't see too many other people doing so either.  But if you want raw artillery firepower (and relatively less expensively) this is a nice way to go.  There are three options:
Distort Cannons: Still the most desructive force in the universe.  Distort weapons tear open real space and expose the target to the warp.  Relatively short range (24") but S10 AP2 Blasts that auto-penetrate and insta-kill on a 6 so... how can you argue with that?
Shadow Weavers: These are monofilament web casts like the Warp Spider weapons but on a bigger scale.  Large blast templates, S6 AP6 but AP1 on rolls of 6.  So again, you're hitting a lot of targets and probably killing them.
Vibro-cannons: Porbably the least cool of the three options, but they can combine their powers.  They start at S7 AP4 like an autocannon, but multiple hits from the same unit of up to 3 models increase their effectiveness by +1 to S and AP -- so if all three batteries hit, that's 3 S9 AP2 hits.  Not too shabby, especially against a vehicle. They are also pinning weapons, which is a nice bonus.

Actually, these are better than I thought.  Maybe I would like to field some...  Though I think they also lost something in this edition.  Some of the cooler, more logical aspects of these special attacks were lost.  If *I* were redoing them their rules might look more like this...
Monofilament:  The idea on these is that a razor-fine web gently drifts down on the target.  In that case, how is it that light as air line has a S6 or S7???  (Not that I'm complaining, just not very logical.)  Reimagining these weapons (even for warp spiders) I would make them something like their Strength is equal to the target's own Strength (as they fight to free themselves they cut themselves apart), keeping the to-wound roll of 6 equals AP 1.   And I want back the Difficult and Dangerous Terrain rules for units hit by this next time they move -- you find yourself tangled in a razor-sharp web, moving is a tricky thing.  Maybe that stacks a lot of rules and benefits on one weapon type, but it all makes sense to me (a lot more sense than "S+1 if their Initiative is 3 or less").   For targets without Strength (non-walker vehicles) I'd say just the Dangerous Terrain roll when they move. I can see a tank just rolling through and the line most likely snapping against its armored hull, giving a 1 in 6 chance that something important but non-lethal gets cut or tangled (like a fuel hose or line sucked into an intake or something, thus immobilizing and causing a hull point).
Vibro: This is a very unique kind of attack and it seems to me there could be more to it too.  Like Ignores Cover and causing Difficult ground on the next turn.  This also used to effectively be a Beam attack, hitting everything in a straight line.  Again, I don't want to overpower it, but would like it to be more logical and have strange effects.
Distort: This is pretty damn cool the way it is.  No changes I can think of.

War Walkers:  I don't have any of these, but would love to get my hands on some.  These are walking weapons platforms, scouting (or better yet, outflanking) war machines that come on the board and let go with up to 8 shots each of heavy weaponry.  I'm sure alot of folks are giving them at least one scatterlaser, which now has laserlock, making the second weapon (possibly another 4-shot S6 scatterlaser) twin-linked.  Massive shootiness.  Though the walkers haven't really changed that much from last codex, save one thing.  I always figured--especially in 6th ed where a 2 hull point AV 10 walker can be easily glanced to death by bolter fire--they were too fragile to spend the points.  But now they have a power field that grants them a 5+ invuln save, making them totally worth while!  AND they also operate under the Battle Focus run-shoot/shoot-run rule and Fleet.  I know a lot of players are making use of these guys and causing a lot of damage doing it.  This is one bandwagon I would like to jump on. 

(Though again, there comes the hard choices thing -- if I take war walkers I need to give up something else.  I typically take reapers, a wraithlord, and a falcon or tank -- what do I sacrifice?  Though with the new Wave Serpents, i suppose you can easily replace a Heavy choice tank with a Dedicated Transport...)  (And I think the build I would most likely go for would be one scatterlaser and one shuriken cannon -- 7 S6 shots and cheaper than 2 scatters, plus the bladestorm potential.  hmmm...)


Wow...  See, that's why this Heavy review is in two parts!  But I figure I should keep the grav-tanks together and wraiths together so we'll put all those in the next (and final) installment of E-Bomb. 
(By the way, no one has mentioned the "stop worrying and love the e-bomb" thing -- I hope I'm not the only one who gets that reference.  Am I that old?? (The correct answer is no, I'm not.))

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fantasy Novel TARNISH Now in Paperback!

Is anyone else as excited about this as I am?  I seriously doubt it, 'cuz I am pretty darn excited.  The first five copies of my novel to ever exist in paperback arrived today!  These were the "proofs," the test models for me to approve before going forward.  And, man, do I approve!

They look great!  And holy crap are they HEAVY.  And dense.  It's difficult to tell just how big this book is from these pictures but trust me, it borders on tome.

What makes it so big?  Well, I formatted this to be a 6" x 9" book and barely shy of 400 pages, and that was condensing it.  Formatted differently this could have easily been over 500 pages.  (Word count-wise, it's 128,000 words--your average novel is 80K to 100K, so it's kind of a novel and a half.)

Why would I want to condense it?  Well, to be honest, I'd rather have had the slightly smaller, but 100 pages thicker version.  It would just feel meatier in my hands and maybe even look more impressive.  But there's the cost to consider.  The basic cost of printing each book comes down to page count.  The fewer pages, the less expensive to produce, thus I can charge less for for it and still get a little sliver of pie for myself.  (I am, after all, an independent author -- I lack the giant printing and distribution mechanisms of the big-time publishing world.)

But even at 400 pages, its weight is way more impressive than just about any of the books on my shelves.  It's cool!

It will take a couple days for it to come up on, but any interested party can buy it from my CreateSpace eStore.  (Incidentally, the authors get a bigger slice if you buy from their own CreateSpace eStores -- the price you pay is the same, we just have to share less of it with Amazon, who, frankly, isn't hurting for funds.)

So if you're like me and you prefer books you can hold in your hands rather than those you get from a screen, now's your chance!