Reviewing Doom of Mymeara: Fluff and Aesthetics

I have an Eldar problem. It is known.

I don’t particularly apologize for this problem, but readers of this blog will know its there – they’re one of my favorite factions, they’re my primary army, they’re what I know the best. And so I write about them the most, because for me questions about them come up more for me in games and thinking about the hobby.

Which means it was inevitable that I’d order Forge World’s major Eldar-focused book, The Doom of Mymeara. But the Eldar are also a popular army, and this book unlocks a lot of new tools, so it warrants a pretty careful review.

Coming up is another several-part part review, covering:

So…shall we see what all the fuss is about?

The Story:

The Doom of Mymeara (despite the name, spoiler: Mymeara isn’t doomed) actually focuses on a campaign for the world of Betalis III, one of two inhabited worlds in the Betalis System, located in Segmentum Solar. I actually rather like this setting, as it’s a departure from much of the 40K literature – Betalis III is a backwater, with 62 million inhabitants scattered pretty evenly over the entire, primarily barren, surface of the world, guarded by a temporary base and spaceport that’s since been built up. The fate of entire sectors doesn’t rest on Betalis III. It’s not on the path to Terra. It’s just another planet.

What follows is something of a summary of the events of the book, for those who aren’t going to read it, hopefully without spoiling it for those who will.

The war for Betalis III doesn’t begin with a Rok crashing into a hive city, or a daemon portal opening up and spilling out Bloodletters. It starts with some remote monitoring stations going silent, the repair crews sent out to fix them butchered, and a slight uptick in the activity of Eldar corsairs near a local ‘nebula’ made up of flotsam and stellar debris that the Imperial Navy usually does its level best to avoid – always a pretty definitive sign that Eldar Shenanigans are about to begin.

Fortunately for the dirt poor indentured miners on the planet, the Cadian 6th Armored just happens to have put into Betalis III for cold-weather training operations after sending some Orks packing. At roughly half-strength, they get pulled into a bloody and inconclusive cat-and-mouse game with the Eldar (where it’s never clear who exactly is the cat…) before their General realizes something more serious is happening, and calls for help. What’s assembled is a motley crew of Imperial forces – the Cadian 6th, the Vaust 14th Armored (reluctantly), the freshly raised Betalis 28th Infantry, some household guard from the various cartels that are long on fancy equipment and short on experience, along with Inquisitor-Lord Danzk. Fortunately, a small force of Legio Gryphonicus titans and a detachment of Elysians happened to be traveling in a convoy that was passing through the neighborhood, and were diverted as well.

An eclectic mix, to be blunt, but enough to let Forge World cram in all their usual Imperial Armour goodies. I was half surprised not to see Sergeant/Captain/Commander Culln show up with a bunch of Red Scorpions in tow.

Things get serious with a proper space battle, Corsair fleets spilling out of the nebula and doing a number on the Watchful Savior, the local battle station, and most of the system fleet sent to protect Betalis III. Once the Eldar have undisputed air superiority, hosts from the Mymeara and Alaitoc craftworlds attack. Interestingly, here, there’s suggestion that despite its obscurity, Mymeara is a craftworld known to the Imperium.

At this point we get a couple more things that made me really enjoy the fluff in this book. The first is a couple sidebar notes on color plates and the like about unit effectiveness that I really liked – for example, Leman Russ Vanquishers being cited as being particularly ineffective against Eldar tanks, which is also my experience on the tabletop. The battle is also portrayed as a war of maneuver – it’s not just a hardened Imperial line that the Eldar are trying to smash their way into. It’s detachments sent to accomplish certain missions, delay and holding actions to buy time, etc. It feels much more dynamic than say, the majority of the Siege of Vraks, or the scale on the Horus Heresy books, which often read a little bit like “Drop pods fall, everyone dies.” Betalis III is brutal, but not a cataclysm, and not a grinding war of attrition.

And then it all ends. If there’s one adjective I could use for describing the end of Doom of Mymeara’s narrative section, it would be “abrupt”. The battle shifts suddenly – Imperial Navy reinforcements arrive, with a Great Company of Space Wolves in the lead. The Eldar lose their air superiority temporarily while the Corsairs break off to deal with the newcomers, then permanently when they run into a fleet of transhuman Space Vikings with anger issues. Bran Redmaw’s Great Company have a similar effect when they reach the ground, turning the tide on one front of the battle that had turned into a brutal, bloody small unit engagement in a frozen canyon system. The Eldar seem to lose their interest and momentum – and then they’re done.

And while this conclusion is sudden, and not satisfying in the way the destruction of one side or the other would be, it does provide a different feeling than most of the literature in 40K. Both sides are bloodied, but not broken. The War Gryphons don’t lose their Reaver titans, and similarly, the Phantoms they are matched up against are damaged, but withdraw. The Imperium doesn’t lose another world, and the Eldar…the forces of two Eldar craftworlds attacked this particular miserable ball of ice for something, and it wasn’t the ball of ice. And for two factions in 40K that are generally locked in a spiraling pattern of decline and entropy, “not losing” is a refreshing change of pace.

 

Faction Specific Fluff:

The Imperium:

Doom of Mymeara is a book that is unapologetically focused on the Eldar. This means that the Imperial side of things is pretty sparse. The Cadian 6th, the Elysians, the Legion Gryphonicus…all get a two-page spread, plus the usual Forge World color templates. General Odon, who managed to keep the Imperial forces from getting cut to ribbons, gets his own page. The same goes for Bran Redmaw, and his Great Company – a decent treatment of the units, but a brief one. My one annoyance is with the section on notable battles. While it makes sense for the notable engagements for Redmaw’s Great Company to have its notable engagements concentrated in M41, as by definition a Great Company’s history is limited to the lifespan of its Wolf Lord, the same is not true of the Cadian 6th. There’s every suggestion that the Cadians have long-lived, continually replaced regiments, with constant turnover refreshing the unit under the same name and banner throughout Imperial history. So why is it that it’s notable engagements are still all in M41? Even if it took a few thousand years post-Heresy to get the Cadian Gate up and armed, the 6th must have been around for a long, long time. This is something that I find generally annoys me with 40K timelines – they’re concentrated at the very end of the timeline, giving people relatively little room to move around between events. Folks, spread out a little, write about wars and conflict in M38, or M33. The Horus Heresy has set the tone for being able to explore backwards in the setting rather than forwards, and I’d like to see more of it.

The Eldar:

The bulk of the fluff in Doom of Mymeara rightly focuses on the Eldar factions – in contrast to the Imperium, which appears in every Imperial Armour book, they really don’t feature very heavily in any other book. The craftworlds themselves don’t get a lot of time in the spotlight – Mymeara gets two pages, despite not appearing anywhere else, and Alaitoc, which gets its time in the main Codex, gets a single page. The Corsairs get two more pages – little blurbs on the three bands present in the campaign, plus more information on Corsairs in general. It’s not much, and honestly, if you want to get a better feel for two of the three groups (Alaitoc and the Corsairs), I’d suggest Gav Thorpe’s Path of the Eldar series, which I found a remarkably good read.

Where the bulk of the writing occurs is in individual units – unlike the Imperials, who only get a few vehicles touched on, every Forge World produced unit in the faction gets an entry. It’s all intermixed with the rules for the units and color illustrations, which makes for a pleasant read, if a somewhat inefficient layout for finding rules.

 

The Physical Product and Art:

Like all Forge World books, the production values on Doom of Mymeara are undeniably high. Heavy, glossy paper in a large format, it’s an excellent art book, though a little impractical for gaming. I’d love it if Forge World books came with an ebook version for slightly more practical gaming. Such things are, of course, often available, but I’d prefer them arrive in a timely and legal manner. The book’s not quite to the level of the Horus Heresy books, but it’s also considerably less expensive. But in the pantheon of gaming books, it’s a top-quality product.

The art in the book is of similarly high quality – though if you have the old edition of Doom of Mymeara, as far as I can tell it’s unchanged. For those who do have it, if you’re buying the new book, you’re buying it for the rules (which we will touch on in later posts). Forge World’s trademark color plates are there, but unlike in some earlier products, there’s not an unrelenting stream of them – just one or two, usually mixed together, showing a particular Corsair fleet, Craftworld or Regiment’s color scheme and patterns. These are interspersed with faux-aged schematics, doctored miniature photos, and the occasional full-page art piece. It feels repetitive to say it, but it’s all good stuff. The original Doom of Mymeara was done after Forge World had started to hit its stride, and it shows.

So as an art piece, a Warhammer 40K coffee table book, and a collector-level glimpse into one of the most popular factions in the setting, it clearly stands up. But how does it perform as a gaming book?

We’ll find out in the next few posts.

And while you wait, why not take a look at the Feast of Fluff contest we’re currently holding? We’ve lined up some great prizes from a few outstanding sponsors, and they’re only a single miniature and some faction fluff away from being yours.

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