Warhammer 40,000: Vigilus Ablaze – Review

A "War of Nightmares" In Name Only

The over-arching narrative of Warhammer 40,000 progresses in the latest publication named Vigilus Ablaze. This acts as a sequel to Vigilus Defiant and see the Black Legion descend on the hotly-contested planet of Vigilus. I’m here to tell you what this means to the universe and whether Vigilus Ablaze is worth your spend. Does it bring the story of Vigilus to a harrowing and satisfying close? Do the new rules includes breath fresh, new life into your games?

If you may have missed it, the planet Vigilus has been a core part of Warhammer 40K for some long months up to now. It has led up to a colossal conflict throughout the world amongst a number of factions. Genestealer Cults, the Imperium, Orks and even more. However, Vigilus Ablaze sees the Black Legion arrive, headed by Abaddon the Despoiler himself.

Black Legion forces assault a gunline of Primaris Ultramarines.

The Story Unfurls

(Spoilers Ahead…)

Mentioned in my previous coverage of Shadowspear, I’d said we’d hopefully see the conclusion of the battle for Vigilus within Vigilus Ablaze. I went through the rather hefty amount of content covering the Vigilus conflicts. The accounts within are plentiful, detailed and a delight upon the eyes. It’s laden with all sorts of strategic maps, wonderful artwork, and accounts of various battles.

There is indeed a conclusion…sort of. Rather surprisingly and perhaps cheaply the story more or less ends as “the battle rages on for Vigilus”. How this comes to be is at least somewhat exciting. It would seem as though all hope is lost in this “War of Nightmares”. Various districts and regions fall to the various enemies of the Imperium, be they Drukhari, Slaaneshi Daemons, Orks or the traitor legions themselves. The last stand for Vigilus would take place in an area named Hyperia, it would seem.

(Still Spoilers…)

Soon thereafter, various Imperial reinforcements arrive. Ecclesiarchy and Adeptus Sororitas ships arrive to lend support along with some Dark Angels. Calgar’s troops begin to push outwards rather than simply holding. The book then goes on to say that the Imperium simply must not lose Vigilus. All but decimated, they continue to fight for the planet at the threat of Vigilus becoming a costly battle that could last untold years.

This feels like a little bit of a cop-out and there’s little in the way of closure. Granted, in the grim darkness of the far future there is only war, but this does feel notably anti-climactic. Whilst the various battles and overall war itself are covered beautifully in the book, to not have it reach a satisfying conclusion is somewhat disheartening. I’d suspect relevance in the Adeptus Sororitas making a mentioned appearance towards the end. Perhaps a large summer campaign ushering in the new Sisters of Battle range? Speculation aside, I was hoping for more of a bang than a long-burning fizzle for Vigilus. Although, with the sheer amount of campaign content within the book, perhaps they really are leaving it to the players to determine the fate of Vigilus?

(Spoilers End…)

Chaos Rising

One of the biggest features of Vigilus Ablaze, narrative aside, is the myriad of new rules and models for Chaos Space Marines. This includes the sensational new model for the Warmaster himself, Abaddon the Despoiler. Seeing him re-imagined decades later alongside brand new Chaos Space Marine models is nothing short of exhilarating for myself as a Chaos player.

The new Chaos Marine and Havoc models are adorned with new details whilst adhering to a comfortably edgy style. Yet, they don’t look overly-busy as some of the new Primaris Infiltrators do. These updated Chaos Space Marine models are more akin to those we first saw as the Chosen from the Dark Vengeance box back in 2012. We’ve been drip-fed new Chaos models via Blackstone Fortress, which acted as a precursor for what was to come.

These models coming alongside Vigilus Ablaze does help to make the events feel a bit more impactful. The narrative justifies the new models at this point in the universe and puts Chaos (especially the Black Legion) firmly in the spotlight.

Ruling with Terror

The new rules unleashed for Chaos are more than sufficient in most cases. The Black Legion see most of the fun and games here, as seems fitting based on their relevance upon Vigilus. They get a cluster of new stratagems, warlord traits, and relics. “World Killers” feels worthy of mention, having you spend 3CP to cancel out any enemy abilities that permit capturing an objective providing Black Legion units are within 3″ of it.

There’s a handful of new specialist detachments which help to further segment your legion-specific armies for Chaos Space Marines. These typically include a relic and a couple of fitting strategems. Cult of the Damned could see Cultists never fail morale test should things go their way. Soulforged Pack can bring smiles to Iron Warriors as this brings the potential to temporarily double the number of wounds remaining on a Daemon Engine.

I was initially apprehensive of these specialist detachments, but I’ve become surprisingly receptive. Simply put, they help to make your army feel even more thematic whilst generally providing a fun and accomplished bonus. It’s just a shame, not every legion received one.

It’s also worth noting that Chaos Space Marine Codex 2.0 is released alongside this book to include the same updated rules alongside the whole army. However, if you have the original codex, you’d be fine buying Vigilus Ablaze. That’s providing you don’t mind more books to carry around, of course.

Narratological Excursions

For those who aren’t sworn to the Dark Gods, there’s plenty more in Vigilus Ablaze. There’s a tremendous amount of new rules to recreate various battles or conditions of the war zones being fought over.

There are event tables you can roll on which will determine potentially disastrous consequences. From orbital debris crashing down each turn to drought slowing down all infantry. There’s also a plethora of new narrative missions with their own rules and stratagems.

The new rules and missions absolutely inspire a fervent eagerness within me to start planning out a campaign. Of course, Vigilus could end however you and your fellow wargamers want it to in your games. These rules clearly allow you to play out the “War of Nightmares” together and plot out the proceedings yourselves. They all feel somewhat individual and I can’t openly confess to disliking any of them within the book. Admittedly, I find myself contemplating mustering my forces and arranging a weekend-long Vigilus campaign with some friends. This book would undoubtedly permit that and more.

I will say that there’s almost too much content in this book for those looking for new ways to play Warhammer 40,000. Battlezones, War Zones, Narrative Play Missions, and Event Tables. To anyone remotely new to the hobby this could seem somewhat intimidating or daunting. Still, with an experienced player, I’m sure this book could bring hours of fun to any level of wargamer.

Back from the Brink

Upon reading the narrative component of Vigilus Ablaze I did find myself a little disheartened. As stated, I was hoping for something with a lot more impact. However, aside from the written fate of the planet, there’s very, very little dislike in Vigilus Ablaze.

The updated rules and coinciding models for Chaos are long overdue but nonetheless welcome. Most of the included legions are given an ample refresh and a new set of tactics to administer. Black Legion is clearly the stand-outs, but this feels fair considering the premise of the book.

For those simply looking for new missions and ways to play, you’ll not be disappointed. Vigilus Ablaze is utterly jam-packed with new mission rules and additional components to help keep your future games fresh and fun. If like me, you’re not a fan of the written conclusion of Vigilus then I strongly advise you grab a handful of fellow gamers and determine the fate of this crucial world for yourself.

Simply put, it feels as though Vigilus Ablaze sets out and accomplishes near all of its goals. Whatever happens after the events of this story, this is one book I’m glad to be carrying around to most of my games. I foresee it getting plenty of use as it brings further life to my games.

2 Comments

    • They do indeed fight. The fight itself is well-written but the result is somewhat disappointing; for me, at least. I’ll not go into detail, but it’s just another way that there’s little closure or hard-hitting events that feel like they’ll have a lasting effect on the universe/factions.

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