FARSIGHT: Crisis of Faith, a review


Like many of you I tend to have a swift Google for a review or video review of a potential purchase. Not so much when it comes to Black Library products, as I usually buy things that I know I'll like (with a few bitter exceptions), but I did however search for any clues as to whether this particular novel was any good as I had just embarked on my own Tau expansion, and it would be my first step into Tau fiction - I found very little, good or bad, so I'm adding my tupp'orth and hopefully you'll find it useful.

So no major spoilers ahead, indeed my review will be more of a comment on the Tau's and Xenos in general's fiction (or lack of), and the community opinions/response to this. Don't worry, I'll talk about the book too!

So what do you get for your £18.99 or regional equivalent? 

A hardback, fairly large print novel of 355 pages by Phil Kelly (more on him later), centering on the eponymous hero's exploits crossing the Damocles Gulf and generally plot device-ing himself and his super awesome squad of justice and tolerance out of the various slightly sticky situations they find themselves in. Presumably there's more to come too, as we don't get any Enclave action at all; this is a prequel, or backstory of sorts.

That's the plot in a nutshell, without spoiling anything - there are subplots involving the Inquisition, an oddly-behaved member of the Water caste, the machinations of the Ethereal caste and the best efforts of the Scar Lords chapter to derail Farsight's expedition. Beyond that, we glean something here and there about Farsight's relationships with Commander Shadowsun, That Guy Kais and his old mentor Puretide, but nothing anyone with a basic grounding in Tau lore wouldn't be au fait with. (I'm not including myself in that group, as a Tau noob).

As for Commander Farsight himself, there's plenty of him getting slightly miffed and emotional about things not going the way he wants, presumably as a prelude to him having the eponymous crisis of faith (at some point). Whether you find it natural or too jarring with the traditional ideas of the Tau obediently going about their for the Greater Good business is largely down to you. His command team are blatantly OP though. One of them is basically a Dreadnought and another is a Cylon. Come at me, bro! 

You also get a brief but useful Xenolexicon at the back, (although if I'm being uncharitable, it would've been nice had this been mentioned in a contents page, I only found it about a fifth of the way through my reading...)

This brings me onto a more general discussion - many of the Tau's hardcore fans have very strong feelings about Mr. Kelly, usually positive in regards to his original involvement with previous Tau codex fluff, and vehemently negative when it comes to his recent move into novel writing.  

I'm as bad as anyone else when it comes to debating my favourite sci-fantasy universe, but the 'colour of Tau blood' debacle (alluded to in the recent Community post announcing the novel) and the somewhat shaky ground of the 'kind of make it up as you go along' Tau language are problems laid at Phil Kelly's feet. As a Tau noob, these things don't bother me unduly, but I know instinctively that they probably would be doing if I'd had a longer relationship with the little blue guys.

On a wider scale, these issues are felt more by a fan base when that group is smaller; write a bad Space Marine novel and enough people will buy it and/or think it's half-decent, and encourage the company to publish more - write a 'bad' Xenos novel and the relatively few people who buy it will desperately wish for it to be good and be all the more enraged when it's not, usually leading to no further novels for that particular faction for a while. It's a vicious circle but hey, newsflash, Marine stuff is popular, sells well, and thusly gets more stuff published for it.

In summary, this is a decent read. Caveat: I have notoriously low standards when it comes to films, TV, etc. It's not that I like bad things, it just that something can be 'ok' and as long as it's vaguely enjoyable I'll be accepting of it. We live in an age where anything and everything is held up to the light and picked apart, and whilst this is good insofar as it encourages things to be done better, it also frequently takes some of the magic away. Everything will seem a little worse if you stop to really scrutinise it. If I hadn't delved a little deeper online in trying to gauge the community's response to this book, I probably would've had a higher opinion of it. Make of that what you will.  

Equally, if you want to read something Xenos-related, you never have much choice. If I had to compare this book to another (in order to give you a sense of how it feels, not in terms of quality) it would probably have to be the notorious Descent of Angels from the Horus Heresy series; it gives a flavour of its subject but leaves you feeling somewhat let down by the lack of actual content/progression.

Not so much a 'crisis of faith' as a mild perturbation. Here's hoping for more to follow.


Review - Bolt Action - Battle of the Bulge Campaign book

Everyone else seems to review stuff so I guess I'll jump in too!

As war-gamers we (many of us!) surround ourselves with books related to our little plastic/metal/resin men. Forge world books are my main vice - they do look pretty when all lined up!

Over the weeks and months of this blog I want to take a look at various campaign/rule books, from new releases from FW right through to ancient tomes like the Angels of Death Codex - more on that another time.

Today I wanted to take a look through the 2017 Campaign book: Battle of the Bulge for Warlord Games' Bolt Action rule set. 

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The cover, as with several of the books released by Warlord/Osprey, has a mat finish with gloss characters. As expected it comes across as finished, designed and gives the impression of a really professional product! 

The inside is FULL of fantastic pictures of Bolt Action miniatures in nicely finished terrain. The sand bags, the trees, the snow; it all makes me want to make some Bolt Action Battle of the Bulge terrain (cough!).

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Those who own previous Bolt Action publications will be used to the other style of image found scattered throughout; the Osprey drawings. These give a great sense of the conflict they describe and are a nice contrast to the miniatures for BA. 

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Of course the real reason we buy these books is for the rules, scenarios and the new unit entries!  The Battle of the Bulge gives each of these in good measure.

The narrative and their associated scenarios give a good overview of the historical details of the conflict including the initial setup right through to what would be one of the largest, and possibly most gruelling, battles for the US forces. There are 12 scenarios, from the early stages including the fleeing German forces are nicely covered with rules for ambush missions and art-stealing trucks, right through to the Colmar pocket. The French/Belgian forces take a significant role in this book and to me, as someone who mainly wanted this for the 101st Airborne side of the conflict, was a nice surprise.

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The Bastogne section is one of the sections which will get the most love I imagine. The Band of Brothers episodes which cover this stage of the conflict are some of the most popular and the emotional interviews with those that served there still resonate with us. 

The description of the conflict around Bastogne covers the 'feeling' of the conflict well, and the scenarios around this stage of the battle are thematic and flavoursome.

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Foy; this assault is a famous scene and stars one of my favourite characters in the history of the 101st - Spiers. The stories that surround this man are open to discussion, but they help convey some of the legendary moments of this particular theatre. The story of Spiers taking over Easy and leading them on having been stalled in the open is one thing, but running through German occupied Foy and then running back must have been genuinely unbelievable to those that saw it. It would be easy to make his rules cheesy or to have them unbalance the game, but the guys at Warlord have made an interesting character. He counts as a Captain to represent the remarkable leadership he was known to show, and he conveys two special rules. One allows a nearby unit to remove a pin marker when activated, very useful to keep units in the fight, the other allows a 4+ save when Spiers is removed as a casualty - if he passes he doesn't die but continues the fight!! 

Foy isn't just about Spiers; it has a host of other special rules attached which I will review at the end. 

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Spiers is also not the only special character. The Germans have several, including SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Joachim Peiper who is of course represented by the direct order model which comes with the book if purchased from Warlord directly. He has some nice, subtle rules and also has access to a Panther...(Der H: Handro! build your Panthers!). Others included are Sgt Jose Lopez and Sgt McNiece.

There are also a number of rules for extra HQ choices which took my fancy - one is the chaplain. I'd associated the chaplains with actions in Northern Europe - again the visuals from BoB of the priest performing the last rights on the wounded in Carentan stick in my head! They aren't really for combat but will allow a similar pin removal mechanic to Spiers - a nice touch in this game. 

The other I immediately liked was the intelligence officer - an HQ unit upgrade (attached to an HQ unit) which allows, on a successful role, the choice of a dice from the bag at the start. This could be open to some cheesy lists if coupled with Spiers and a chaplain but then again, going first isn't necessarily better, and once you go it's then one less dice in the bag - good mechanic Warlord! 

Other units to catch my eye were the Feldgendarmerie, US military Police, non-combatants and the Ersatz units. The latter have some nice articles on Warlord here and here.

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Extra/Special Rules! 

This book, as with many of the theatre books, has a special rules section in addition to the rules scattered throughout. These include;

- Rifle Grenades - a nice little addition to add some nice cinematic moments to your games, especially for infantry heavy lists.

- Snow - rough ground

- Mud - this includes a mud table with effects for vehicles and artillery - don't get buried deep!

- Frostbite - pre-game casualties (brutal) and a further modifier with cold weather clothing.

- Poor weather and Fog

- Foxholes/Dug in - a nice set of rules to cover the cinematic effect of units being dug into the tree line


This is a great book. Mark, Alessio and Paul should all be very proud. If this stage of the war interests you - BUY IT!

Der H

Though for the day: "Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish The justice among men and nations. Amen" - Father J O'Neill