I arrived home today to discover the Shadow Force Solaq boxset waiting at my door. Now if you’ve been following all the rumors and reveals on the various Warhammer news sites you’ve likely already seen a reviews of the boxes contents, but I figured I’d offer up my own unboxing anyway.
The box itself is gorgeous, with images of expertly painted miniatures gracing the cover, back, and sides. Much like previous boxsets they do an excellent job of making an eye catching design that manages to show off all the models in their best light. The Captain Solaq model that is currently exclusive to this set (I’ll get back to why I say currently in a bit) is up front and center, and emblazoned in the upper right corner is the symbol for the War Zone Damocles campaign to which this release is tied.
The box contains five sprues, two for the Land Speeder, one each for the Stern Guard and Vanguard, and one for Solaq himself. Then you have the assorted bases and instructions for each, along with the softcover campaign supplement book with the rules for Solaq and unique versions of the included units. Other than Solaq all the other sprues are repacks from older kits. Sadly, there no decals in the box, despite all the units pictured having nice Raven Guard decals all over them. Forge World is coming out with a set, but I would have loved to have them included.
Based on the prices of the older kits this set is a slight discount. The Land Speeder, Sternguard, and Vanguard Vets come out to roughly $146, throw in the supplement and the unique Commander and its about $180 value in the box. Not nearly as good as some previous deals, but not bad if you are like me and just getting into Space Marines.
Back to my comments about Solaq’s current exclusivity, the instruction sheet for the model is actually the insert for a standard clam pack. Now it may be that the original intent was a solo release, and the idea for the boxset came later, but with the amount of work that went into all the rest of the packaging that seems unlikely. It really looks like they may be planning a secondary solo release of him like the rumored releases of the unique models from the Assassinorum: Execution Force game. That is pure speculation though. If you really want the model, holding out is still a bit of a gamble.
To the campaign supplement, it is a full thirty-two pages of full of fluff, rules, and some beautiful artwork. My understanding is that the book shares the bulk of its contents with the Infiltration Cadre Burning Dawn boxset, also just released. Having not seen that supplement, I can’t say for sure how much is shared but there are eleven pages dedicated to rules and Raven Guard specific artwork for the models in this kit.
The missions themselves are extremely interesting. The first starts with only the Land Speeder on the board, the Raven Guard searching for the Tau Warlord, who is randomly allocated to an objective marker. If the Raven Guard player can find and kill him they win, but when he’s discovered the Tau get to start deep striking in some other units so the Raven Guard player has to work quickly or be overwhelmed.
The second is setup something like a Kill Team game with every model acting as an independent unit. The Raven Guard is on a seek and destroy mission looking for the Tau warlord again, but if the Tau can get to a board edge he can escape. Meanwhile, the third is a more traditional fight, however if both sides lose their warlords the game is an automatic draw. It’s an interesting twist which really forces greater attack and defend tactics since neither side and afford to lose their leader. Campaign missions like this are a big draw for me personally, since they tend to be far more interesting than a standard game.
Overall I really like this set, it’s a decent value with plenty of cool miniatures and has some interesting missions and rules in the supplement. It’s less of a value for someone who already has a Space Marine army, and unlike previous boxsets it lacks the necessary parts to build a standard CAD out of the box.