Monday, 31 December 2012

Christerval and Wintermas

Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote on this thing, due to a confluence of events.  Stuff gets busier towards Christmas, naturally, and I also had coursework and studying taking up most of my lunchtimes.  Or at the very least, I had worrying about coursework and studying taking up most of my lunchtimes.  I didn’t think after leaving University that I’d be stuck with coursework again, and I’d underestimated just how insidiously it would annoy me and make me slightly less happy.  Every time I’d do something I’d normally enjoy, the spectre of coursework would be there, squatting at the back of my mind, idly scratching itself, just reminding me that it was still undone.

But that ended on Monday, just in time for me to be ill. Yay, I guess.  Regardless, here I am now, work has slowed down to a thoroughly lethargic pace and I can at last alleviate my boredom with waffle.  In the spirit of the season, I proffer you all belated and ill-considered Merry Christmas and Happy New Year platitudes, without the receipt for either, so you can’t exchange them.  For me, this has been the Christmas of IT problems.  My Mum received an iPad 3 to replace here old model and I spent most of Christmas and the Boxing Day transferring her seemingly insurmountable pile of crap from one device to the other whilst reconfiguring a used laptop that she had been given as well.  It was an experience so aggravating that I may well elect to get a non-iPhone come upgrade time, purely to put more distance between myself and fucking iTunes.

Anyway, with luck I can get the blog back on track and, thanks to one of my three commenters, I have a subject to occupy myself with here over the next several days.  But before that, there is the standard Christmas update to be had, and I have a ton of GW stuff to assemble.  So much so that I haven’t actually done any of the painting I had scheduled for the holiday.  I’ve just been too busy during my non-unpaid technical support time to get round to it and I much prefer gluing models together than getting them actually looking decent.  It’s just not an aspect of the hobby I really enjoy.  If I have the time and patience to figure out airbrushing then that might make the prospect somewhat less daunting.  At least a vague colour scheme has now been worked out for the Missionaries of the Whispered Word.  Grey base colour, black trim and red/purple spot colour with generic metal colours in the usual places and probably washed to crap to disguise my ineptitude.

The Warpsmith will be painted Iron Hands colours though, so: black.  The Chapter symbol will be red and bloody instead of white/metal, but that’s going to be the only Chaosy colour deviation for him.  He’s still an Iron Hand after all, just one who has lost his mind over protracted periods of bloodshed and sanity strip-mining in the Eye of Terror.  He’s just had the superstition surrounding warp entities removed from his mind and now treats them like any other resource to be modified and engineered.  The Imperium probably isn’t ready for that though.  Philistines.

The big announcement for the New Year will be my resolution, which is going to be quite a challenge by all accounts.  I’ll be giving up buying GW models for the year.  I’ll not be giving up the hobby as whole; far from it.  I’m going to Adepticon after all and I’ll still buy the paints and various books, but I’m staying away from purchasing more of the models.  I spend a lot on them (cue the regular jokery), and I don’t think I use a lot of them enough to warrant the expenditure.  At least for a while.  I am the type of person who will drop a far old whack of money on a couple of big kits for an army idea and then never use them again.  This resolution will help me better appreciate the models and armies I have now and at the very least, I’ll have saved some money in the process.  All that said, I have seen some of the new models for the Dark Angels and they look pretty sweet.  Damn…

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Headquarters of Villainy

You may have noticed that when I have been writing posts for this place, they have mainly been about Chaos.  Well, this time I thought for a change that we would talk about Chaos again.  Not the same disorganised jumble of thoughts as the last post, but more based around a problem I’m having with my army as it stands.

Well, maybe ‘problem’ is overstating it.  I enjoy the army a lot and it’s solid without (I think) being dickish, although you’d doubtless find those who would disagree with that assessment. The quandary I’ve got is really an overabundance of HQ choices, all of which I like very much.  And that’s the rub.  It’s hard to settle for one combo in particular.  Here’s the rundown:

Chaos Lord with Black Mace, Sigil of Corruption, Mark of Slaanesh: 150pts.  This guy is really my go-to Warlord.  The Black Mace is quite horrific and the Fearless rule he’s got makes him a very handy unit buff for either the regular CSM or the Cultists.  He comes in nice and cheap (for a Marine-type HQ at any rate) and can punch exceptionally hard with that mace.  Also, he allows me to take Noise Marines as Troops, which is a very useful trait.

Warpsmith with Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Veterans of the Long War and Aura of Dark Glory: 165pts.  Vital for my storyline as he’s the creator of my Daemon engines and the source of my Cultists (indentured Mechanicum serfs infect with scrapcode).  It’s nice to have a more ranged HQ unit, even if the range is short, and he’s not a slouch in assault, with 4 attacks flatfooted at S5 AP2, even if he is striking last.  The Brand makes him a monster versus foot Marines and also contributes to a decent Overwatch if his unit gets charged.  I used to run him with a Mark of Khorne as well, but it was far better synergistically for him to have the option of running with the CSM, and having a rival Mark would preclude that.  Also, it was easy to justify in storyline, as he is more mad and corrupted than a pure and voluntary Chaos devotee.  He also lets me weaken a piece of terrain for my opponent, which is very handy against some armies.

Level 3 Sorcerer with Terminator Armour and Mark of Slaanesh: 150pts.  I really like using Psychic powers in this edition and the Sorcerers are an excellent source of random nastiness.  I usually pack one Slaaneshi power and two Biomancy ones, and they can pan out nicely, with decent odds of getting something really cool to use.  The Terminator armour really helps with survivability against small arms fire and anyone not packing dedicated AP2 kit, with the cost of reducing the number of his attacks in any given fight.  I’m still undecided as to what force weapon to give him.  Sword is good for marine killing, Staff is better for everything else (including Terminators) and Axe is way out.  I have a Mark of Slaanesh.  I don’t want to waste it using an axe.  Now, I like this guy, but he has a brother:

Level 3 Sorcerer with Mark of Slaanesh, Sigil of Corruption and Jump Pack: 150pts.  I like this guy for similar reasons to his brother, but he has the advantage of a great deal of manoeuvrability and a better invulnerable save and an extra attack for two close combat weapons.  When I field him, he’s tied to a Warp Talon unit, so if I’m not playing my Talons, then he doesn’t see the field mainly because one jump packer on his own is just going to get punked.  Nevertheless, he packs a harder punch in combat than the Terminator and can run down enemies as well.  He and his squad are very much anti-Marine specialists.

The annoyance for me is whichever two I take, I feel like I’m missing out on the cool stuff the others can do.  I should quit complaining about this, because this is surely the sign of something going very right!  Maybe it’s a sign that I should play bigger games in order to include all of them, who knows?

As an additional complication, when assembling the Terminator Sorcerer, I found out that I really like the Chaos Terminator Lord kit.  So now, Lord Hieronymus Reach of the Whispered Word may be getting an armour upgrade!  Obviously, this brings new aspects to be considered.  Losing an attack doesn’t matter as much when you’re wielding a Daemon Weapon and the 2+ regular save (new and improved in 6th!) will probably more than balance out the downgrade of his Invulnerable Save from 4+ to 5+ (no, I am not buying a Sigil of Corruption for a Terminator! Unless he’s Tzeentch, then it’s cool).  The big deal from a rule standpoint is the inability for him or his unit to run down enemies in assault.  With rallying being far easier and shepherding units of the board simply not happening any more, this could be a very bad thing, but a risk I reckon he’ll be willing to take.  After all, you don’t get a roll on the boon table if you just run down an enemy character.  You need to murder them properly.  Also, the other roadblock for me is that I'm using the maul-wielding Chosen from Dark Vengeance, and I love the model.  He just looks like a leader and he is very much who I picture when I think of Lord Reach.  Awesome as the Chaos terminator Lord kit is, If I had an option for artificier armour for this guy, then the Terminator armour wouldn't even get a second thought!

So anyway, that’s the state of play at the moment.  There could be a lot of 3,000 point games in my future if I want to run everything!

So long, for now…

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In which I try to say something, but fail...

I’ve been playing a few games with my Chaos now and I’m starting to get a bit more of a feel as to how they play.  The results have been interesting and not entirely what I expected.  One of the things that surprised me was just how assault oriented my army has become.  That wasn’t really part of the plan.  They were meant to be fairly evenly divided between shooting and close combat, with the Heldrake, Forgefiend, Noise Marines and throngs of gun-toting cultists laying down a torrent of fire, with my CSM going for a jack-of-all-trades feel with bolters and additional assault weapons.  But repeated plays have whittled this down a little.  The Marines have dropped their bolters, the cultists do nothing bar desperate point-defence point-capture.  I’m seriously considering switching my Forgefiend for another Maulerfiend.

I played a 3,000 point game versus Deathwing/Codex Bike Marines a while back and was surprised to find out that about two thirds of the list didn’t have a range longer than 12” and half of them didn’t have a ranged weapon at all.  As I flooded the field with Possessed, Maulerfiends, Warp Talons and Spawn, I couldn’t help but think that maybe this was a subconscious backlash against playing the Necrons for so long.

This development appears to go against a lot of what the new edition seems to trumpet with the increased effectiveness of shooting vs assault and the advent of Flyers.  However, the Chaos codex does seem to be very much weighted in this direction from certain viewpoints.  The obsession with Challenges and the preponderance of short range shooting (Chaos weapon ranges do tend towards the shorter side of the spectrum when compared to their Imperial counterparts) do give that impression after all.

That’s not to say they can’t put lead downfield, as Havocs and Forgefiends can testify.  But even then, that’s only 48” at best and all in the heavy support slot.  You can have the occasional ranged specialist in the other slots, like Noise Marines, Chosen and Terminators, and you can get a smattering of heavy weapons for your troops, but it hardly dispels the image of Chaos being very much in the “Hack! Slash! Sever! Rend!” camp.  And I’ve decided to embrace that aspect of them a bit more in my lists.  Hence the third Maulerfiend.

And that’s the crux of the post really.  In every game I’ve played, the Forgefiend is a priority target for my opponent, which is understandable. 8 S8 shots a turn can be very scary.  The problem I’m encountering is a similar one that plagues the Venom.  The number of shots doesn’t necessarily add up to a lot of damage.  A mass of S8 Autocannon shots is all big and scary on a Dreadnought, because said Dreadnought is packing BS4 and twin-linked guns.  Per Dread, they will average the same number of hits as the fiend plus they’re cheaper and you can bring more along.  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not complaining about the Forgefiend, I’m just trying to say that the perceived threat of the thing is definitely greater than what it can actually dish out. 

The Maulerfiends seem to be more on the other side of the spectrum.  At least, that is, until people see them move.  Stat wise, I suppose they’re not particularly impressive, as they come across as a standard dreadnought, albeit one with no ranged weaponry at all.  The look bigger, obviously, because they are, but they still only have 3 Hull Points and so can be fairly easy to write off on paper unlike the 4HP Defiler.  Then they move, and that’s when you can identify the people who haven’t looked at the Codex much by the expression of confusion and apprehension they exhibit when you explain that, yes they move 12” and no, they don’t care about difficult terrain and, yes they’re fleet as well.

Oh, and they have an Invulnerable Save.

Anyway, that’s my brief paean to close combat with my Chaos at the moment.  Not the most coherent of monologues, but things have been a bit weird at work, and as that’s where I write all this, any workplace strangeness is going to have a knock-on effect.

My next post ought to be less disjointed as I may actually have a point!

So long.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Living for the Weekend(er)

Well, over the weekend I’ll be in Nottingham for the Black Library Weekender and I’m quite looking forward to it.  The main focus of my time will of course be on the various seminars and signings, but I thought that I may as well mention a few things I’m amped about going into this thing.

The first is the pre-release stuff.  It’s an outside chance, but I’m really hoping that Path of the Incubus will be up for sale.  Four months ahead of release isn’t that long is it?  Definitely looking forward to that.  It’s probably not pre-release, but I’m itching to get my hands on Pariah.  The Inquisitor series by Dan Abnett are still in my mind as the best series (or series of series) in 40K literature and I dearly want to read more about it, even if we know what happens to Zael now…

I’m also enthused about hearing more from Chris Wraight, who has done a really good job with my favourite chapter, the Iron Hands.  He has so precisely nailed my vision of the Iron Hands in Flesh and Wrath of Iron, and although the latter of those titles is a real downer (and Flesh is only a little bit less of one), I feel that they are some of the most ‘pure’ 40K I’ve read.  This universe is cruel, nasty and it hates you.  You are insignificant and your death will mean nothing.  Even the good guys are bastards.  It’s something that most other 40k books shy away from, but something that is key to the universe and that Wrath of Iron bravely embraces.  Anyway, enough of that sales pitch.

I’m hoping to finish the book I’m currently reading (Path of the Outcast, for those that are interested) in time to make a decent start on any of the swag I hope to accrue on this trip.  I’m also hoping to finish it so that I don’t embarrass myself if I try to talk to Gav about it.  His Path of the Eldar trilogy is a really interesting read for anyone who wants to understand the Eldar mindset and explore the Path system.  If you just want a fighty book with cool aliens and shit, however, I wouldn’t recommend it.  I read a review of Path of the Seer claiming that the end battle was good, but it wasn’t worth wading through the gumf and padding in the first half of the book.  It was a bit of the a headshaking moment for me, as the ‘gumf and padding’ is the point of the book.  It’s not an ‘Eldar Battles’ book, it’s an exercise in world-building and the exploration of an alien race.  Anyway, I digress.

It would also be fun to catch up with Sarah Cawkwell and see what she thinks of the new Valkia model (and what took GW so bloody long?).

The thing I’m most looking forward to is just the whole experience of it; hanging out with a bunch of nerds and a few friends and hopefully reinitialising contact with old podcast guests and having a chat with them over some booze.  If any listeners are headed to the weekender and want to say hi, then let me know.  Twitter, email, hollering, the usual methods.

So long!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Who Left This Gun Lying Around?

Today is just going to be a brief post (as opposed to the 1,000 word+ lunacy of yesterday) about a topic that’s given rise to a fair bit of confusion since the dawn of 6th ed, so many moons ago.

That being Emplaced Guns.  There is, understandably a lot of befuddlement about these strange and arcane devices.  Basically, an emplaced gun is a weapon embedded (or even, emplaced) in a fortification.  Anyone occupying the building can elect to fire the emplaced gun or the can have the gun autofire using its BS of 2.  If you elect to fire it, you have to fire it at the same target that the rest of the unit are firing at, but if it autofires, then it can shoot at anything, although with worse BS (for the most part).  That’s all well and good when you’re dealing with the emplaced heavy bolters on a Bastion, for example, but what happens to the Quad Gun you buy for it?  Or for an Aegis Defence line for example?  It states that the unit occupying the building can elect to fire it, but how do you occupy and Aegis defence Line?

The simple answer is: you can’t.  The more in-depth and illuminating answer is, that the Quad Gun is not an Emplaced Gun.  It’s a Gun Emplacement.  This isn’t just semantics; they are two entirely different things.  You can find the rules for Gun Emplacements in the Battlefield Terrain section of the rulebook.  These weapons are entirely neutral and they do not autofire.  Any model in base contact with the emplacement can elect to fire it instead of their standard weapon (this includes Independent Characters).  However, the gun itself it treated as being a different unit for the enemy, in that the emplacement can be singled out for shooting and close combat when desired.  Another area of confusion is that Quad Gun you bought and put on top of the Bastion.  Your guys can fire that like the rest of the emplaced guns, right?  Well, no.  People need to be on the roof of the Bastion to get that gun to work.  Surprising, but true.  If you in the building, then you’re not in base contact with the gun emplacement and it is just a silent piece of the architecture.

Further confusion arises when people read the Artillery rules, and seem to paste sections from those rules into the Emplacement rules when, in fact, they don’t apply.  Independent Characters, for example, cannot fire artillery, but they can fire a gun emplacement.  To my reading, gun emplacements can be used to fire overwatch, whereas artillery and emplaced guns can’t.  It’s all a bit of a headscratcher at points.

In fact, Artillery rules themselves are host to a barrel of misinterpretations.  When shooting, if even one Artillery piece is still functional, then you roll to wound the unit using the gun’s toughness of 7, but wounds are allocated to the closest model.  I’ve seen several occasions when people using the artillery will use the toughness, then the armour save of the gun and then remove a crew member when the save is failed, and that is just wrong.  Only take the armour save of the gun when it is the closest model.  If you have a Grot crew or two in front of it first, then they get killed, no save.

Anyway, before bogging this post down with unnecessary text, the takeaway from this one is: Artillery, Gun Emplacements and Emplaced Guns are three entirely different things.  Don’t get them confused.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Question Throwdown and 6th Ed Mech-Marines

On Thursday, I posted about my Psychic Power rundown on my blog using the Overlords Facebook group in a blatantly self-serving attempt to get more readers.  However, I also asked for blog post suggestions, to see if anyone had any questions they wanted to put to me of there was anything in particular that they would like to read my opinion on.  Not that I’m important or special or anything, but mainly as a way of giving me a focal point to write about.  You see, on problem I have quite often is the problem of too much choice.  When faced with just the blank page, and the nagging sensation that I should write about something, I quite often cannot decide what to write about.  This, combined with my almost preternatural capacity for procrastination and laziness, is the main contributing factor to the relatively low and infrequent quantity of posts that I’m able to fling out at you.

So there you have it, for those of you who are not part of the much vaunted Facebook group.  Do you have any blog post ideas, any questions for me or anything you’d like me to churn out flowery prose concerning?  Send ‘em to and let’s see what happens.

Anyway, one of the first questions I was asked from the Facebook group was what my opinion was on heavily meched Marine armies.  This is actually a tough question for me, for a couple of reasons.  The first being that I’ve never run one.  Until buying a very pretty Fleshtearers army from my mate Liam a couple of months ago, I’d never even owned a Rhino chassis.  So take this as a disclaimer: If it sounds like I don’t know what I’m talking about, then I probably don’t.  This is going to be an op-ed piece with little practical experience from the point of view of a mech-Marine player.  I’ve got decent experience playing against them however, so let’s hope I can extrapolate something worthwhile from that.

The second reason is the shift in edition.  In fifth, my opinion was nice and easy.  I didn’t like them.  This is very strongly linked to my previous rants on the subject of the vehicle damage table, that you’ll find else where on the blog or on the podcast.  It was an effective army, to be sure, particularly when you factored in the discounts that the Blood Angels could bring into play.  The forty points or so for a dedicated transport would provide far more protection than such a cost should have done.  Combined with the ability to capture objectives from the inside of the vehicle, the onus was purely on the opponent to dislodge you, rather than on you to do anything.

However, enough of that vitriolic bellyaching.  On to 6th.  They are far less of a viable proposition in this edition, what with the ‘boots on the ground’ approach to point-capture and the overall reduction in vehicle durability.  They are not bunkers any more.  If you want that, then get a bloody bunker.  You’ll find them in the Fortifications section (under the code-name ‘Bastion’).  But I digress.

Vehicles are less durable in this edition, but they are much harder to shut down through shaken and stunned results.  This means that your damage dealing tank can deal their damage and you transports can actually transport something.  This, of course, brings up the question of whether they have anything in them that’s worth transporting.  You need a plan for your vehicles now.  Annoyingly, my view on heavy mech armies at the moment is very much down to how you plan to use them.  If you don’t have a plan, then they’re just a bunch of metal boxes and you’ll lose them.  The role of the rhino is to get a Tactical squad to an objective to hold it or to launch a ranged attack.  They make poor transports for assault squads due to the hefty charging penalties.  You can count Razorbacks in this category as well, I think, although if the plan is to use them as gun platforms, then fair enough. Another role for them would be as mobile cover, although, oddly enough, they actually function better in this position when they’re dead (exchanging the ‘mobile’ bit for more of the ‘cover’ bit).  I realise this may be a bit of a bone of contention, but as I read it, vehicles provide a 5+ cover save (firing through other units) when alive, but a 4+ when dead as then count as battlefield debris, although both will block line of sight equally well. 

Predators and Vindicators do pretty much the same thing as they always did.  Their effectiveness is pretty much the same as in fifth edition, although you’re more likely to get the shots off to make them worthwhile.  This doesn’t work quite as well for the fast Blood Angel mech lists, as the enemy can tear these takes apart in assault far easier this time round, regardless of how fast you moved.  This is a bit of a downgrade for them.

Land Raiders are trickier thing to call.  The land raider has the same chances of being totalled by a meltagun as it always had, but I think there’s been/going to be (to early to tell) a slight shift away from melta prevalence and more of a focus onto high-strength multishot weaponry to glance vehicles to death, so autocannons would outstrip meltas in usefulness and frequency.  This is naturally a better situation for the land raider, although what I said about vehicles needing a role to fulfil still holds true for these beasts.

Drop Pods are still nasty.  The new edition hasn’t really changed them in the slightest as once they’ve landed, who cares what happens to them?  Only two things have altered, should you scatter off the table edge, then there’s better odds of survival and you can’t contest objectives with them any more.

Anyway, that’s the snapshot of my opinion thus far.  It may well change as I play more games in the new ed, particularly as I play more marines, which is oddly enough not something that happens too much down my way.  Seriously.  We’re quite a xenos-happy club.  It’s weird.

If you have your own views (and you really should!), then let me know in the comments section.

Any questions/blog post ideas welcomed!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

I Feel Your Pain: Slaaneshi Powers

And last, but certainly not least, we have Slaanesh.

Sensory Overload is the Primaris power for you perusal here.  24” range assault 4 with S4 and AP4 and inflicts a few status ailments on the target unit including concussion (reduced to I1 if wounded, but this unlikely to kick in on single wound models) and blind, which involves and initiative test or the reduction of WS and BS of the unit to 1.  This only kicks in if you score a wound, but it’s still a nice thing to consider.  Overall, I’d say this is my favourite of the Chaos Primaris power as it is a handy, if unspectacular, ranged power that brings a number of very nice disruptive side-effects at a decent range.  This is an extremely viable option for use against shooty armies, such as Necrons, Guard and Tau, as they are more likely to die to the shots and far more likely to get blinded.  An excellent double whammy.

Hysterical Frenzy is next on our list Slaanesh nastiness.  This is a blessing power that gives a friendly non-vehicle unit a random stat upgrade of +1 Initiative, Attack or Strength.  Admittedly, you don’t know which until you cast it, but they are pretty much all useful.  The weak link in the chain is probably going to be the Initiative bump as that’s more situational than the others.  If your initiative is already higher, then it’ll do nothing for you, but if it isn’t, then it could be massively important.  On the other hand, the Strength and Attack upgrades are always going to be useful.  Quality power.

Symphony of Pain is our Malediction for the round.  24” range and the target unit receives -1WS and   -1BS.  Useful, but unremarkable.  It can give you a strong edge in assault against other MEQs or it can significantly reduce the effectiveness of enemy shooting.  However, it wouldn’t be a Chaos power without some weird little addendum.  The addendum in this case is that any sonic weaponry fired at a unit under this malediction gain +1S.  This does make it a rather nice combo power and certainly aids in point defence from a squad of Noise Marines, who, if stationary, are already packing a cruel number of shots.  It’s also worth noting that this malediction can be cast on vehicles to boost the strength of Noise Marines to take down armour.  As a final note, this power can be cast multiple times on the same unit, and its effects are cumulative, making it a very nice combo if you’re running multiple Slaaneshi Sorcerers (unlikely as that may be).  Overall, I really like this power and it’s undeniably useful even if you’re not packing noise marines in that game.  However, if that is the case, you might be better off trading it for Sensory overload instead.  It depends on what you opponents forces are and how geared for an assault you want your list to be.

And the last power we have here is Ecstatic Seizures.  This, in common with the other two, is a double charge power and is fairly situational in its effectiveness.  It has no Strength and no AP and is an Assault 1 with 24” range.  If the enemy unit is hit and doesn’t manage to Deny the Witch, the every non-vehicle in that unit will take a hit at their unmodified strength.  By the way, what units have a mix of vehicles and non vehicles?  Only time will tell…  Anyway, as you can imagine, if you’re flinging this at a tactical squad, it’s unlikely to achieve much.  10 guys, 5 wounds caused, either 1 or 2 Marines dead.  However, it start coming more and more into its own as the target squad increases in size.  If you’re throwing this into a 30-strong Boys mob, then you’ll take eight or nine of them.  You’ll kill about a third of any given Guard squad and about half for termagants.  This is a very effective form of crowd control against the more numerous enemy types and the randomness of the damage inflicted could scupper the effectiveness of their special weapons even if their positioned to deny this opportunity to regular shooting.  I can see the debate over whether or not the unit gains a cover save cropping up, and at the moment, my view is that they do not, as the shot itself is not causing wounds or having a direct effect.  You get a similar situation with Tau Markerlights.  You don’t get cover against them because they are not hurting you.  Like I say, I can see this question arising and I’m prepared to admit that I may be wrong upon deeper FAQs being released, but at the moment, that’s my reading.  I like this power, but it is very much down to what your opponent is running as to whether or not it’ll be of any great use to you.

So that’s it!  I’m really not sure who the best God is in psyker terms, as they all have very distinct flavours and useful powers.  At the moment, I’m in favour of Slaanesh, but that could well change down the line.  Right now, I’m just having fun playing Chaos!

So long!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Turn Your Head and Cough: Nurgle Powers

And so we come to Grandfather Nurgle.  Again, we have a varied set of powers to cut our teeth on.

The Primaris Power is the classic Nurgle’s Rot.  This is a 6” Nova power (all enemy units within 6” of the Sorcerer get hit) and any unit that gets hit immediately takes D6+1 Poisoned 4+ AP5 hits.  It’s not going to tear armies asunder and you need to be murderously close to deploy it, but it is a very handy backup power to cull the weak from the herd before an assault.  I quite like this power, but as I don’t really play Nurgle, I’m unlikely to give it a good playtest.  It strikes me as a solid Primaris power.

Next up we have Weapon Curse, which is a lot of fun.  It’s a Malediction power with 24” range.  If successful, the targeted enemy unit receives Gets Hot on all its ranged weapons until the end of their next turn.  In that sense it work similarly to the Warpsmith’s Machine Curse, except it’s got longer range, can affect infantry and automatically hits.  So, you know, better in nearly every respect.  This has a great deal of tactical application, although it is unlikely to result in a wave of enemy deaths, it is significantly more likely to prod your opponent towards inaction in the shooting phase.  It’s this psychological effect on the other player that is the power’s greatest asset, I think.  If your opponent is running MSU or good armour saves, then it may well not have much of an effect, but I think it will find a very valid target in most games.

The third power is Gift of Contagion which is the power I’m least struck on from Papa Nurgle’s armoury. It’s another Malediction (who’d have thought? The disease god would specialise in Maledictions!) and hits the target unit with a random debilitation.  The enemy would potentially lose an Attack and receive Shrouding, lose a point of Strength and be unable to run, or lose both a point of Strength and of Toughness.  Obviously the randomness of this power could be its making or breaking in the eyes of the player.  You’d probably not want the first effect to crop up, but if you’re assaulting that unit, what do you care if they’re Shrouded while you do so?  Anyway, the major plus point for this power, as opposed to Enfeeble (it gives the unit -1S and -1T) is the range.  The range of this ability is a mighty 48”.  Suddenly the power becomes a lot more viable, especially for the backfield psyker.  Not to mention, that the effects of multiple gifts are cumulative.  This could have serious defensive implications if you’re up against a hammer unit.  Even Paladins would have a hard time with a couple of contagions giving them the shits.

The final power, just like in the Tzeentch list is a 2 Warp charge one, but is (again) thoroughly worth it.  Plague Wind does essentially the same thing as Breath, but is a large blast with a 12” range instead.  And it can’t hurt vehicles, but that’s only a minor thing when you look at how horrific this power will be against any given hammer unit.  There is significant risk of nuking yourself with it, so be careful plaguemongers!  A comparison between Plague Wind and Breath of Chaos is kind of inevitable, so I’ll sum it up quickly.  Plague Wind is the high risk, high reward version of Breath.  It can’t take vehicle (but Breath isn’t great at that with one shot anyway) and the enemy get their cover saves, but apart from that there isn’t much bad to say about Plague Wind.  Just hold your breath when you cast it, alright?

Anyway, the last of the literate pantheon, Slaanesh will get the once over next time. 

See you then!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

All Change Please! Tzeentch Powers

Right then.  Let’s start with the Tzeentch powers.

The first up is the Primaris power: Firestorm of Tzeentch.  This is an odd one, but I kind of like it.  I don’t think it’s going to be terrifically useful against MEQ’s but may well throw a wrench in the works of chaff units and the armies that depend on them.  Basically, it goes like this: 24” range, assault 1 blast with no AP and Strength of D6+1.  That gives you a low side average of S4 which will do the business against Guard, Nids and Eldar.  High side of average will work very nicely on most things for simple wound rolls.  The lack of AP is a bit of a pisser, but there you go.  The kicker for this power is that it inflicts bonus hits for each casualty it causes.  D3 S3 auto hits for each casualty.  This power could get very nasty very quickly, or it could fizzle into an embarrassed silence.  Roughly what you expect for Tzeentch really.  I’m not sure what to make of this one, myself.  Could be fun, but it’s more likely to be useless against any army with decent armour saves.

The next power is Boon of Mutation, which is a close range blessing for a character with 2” of the Sorcerer.  The ‘blessed’ character takes a S4 AP- hit and (provided he survives) gets a roll on the Mutation chart.  It’s a nice, fun ability and certainly has its place in casual play, but the chance of killing the recipient (1 in 6 for the standard Chaos Marine squad sergeant) and the randomness of the mutation table render this a terrible power for competitive play.  It’ll be fun the spam this power amongst your army (especially as Thousand Sons Aspiring Sorcerers can get it too!) and if you have three guys using it, you should get at least one Daemon Prince out of the deal!

The third power is Doombolt, which has changed a fair bit from the weaksauce Heavy Bolter it used to be.  I see it compared a lot of Bolt of Tzeentch, but it’s really a different animal even from that.  The statline looks similar (18” range, S8, AP1), but there are a couple of nice differences.  The first is the Detonate ability, which means that when you cause a vehicle to explode with it, that vehicle explodes 2D6 inches rather than just a single D6.  This has tremendous capacity for funniness mid-game, although the overall effect is likely to be fairly middling on non-horde armies.  That’s nice an all, but how is this power majorly different from the old Bolt?  Because it is a Beam.  You trace a line from the Sorcerer and any unit under that line takes a hit (or as many hits as models in that unit that it passes over).  The Strength reduces by one for each model beyond the first, but that still changes this power from pure vehicle takedown to scything through high priority targets.  By which I mean Terminators.  The rules don’t allow the ridiculous model sniping that Jaws and Warp Rift are capable of but is still a very nice power.

Finally, we a Breath of Chaos, which is the same as it always was, except it is two warp charge instead of one.  I don’t need to go into this one, really.  Flamer template, everyone under it gets wounded on 4+ regardless of toughness and there’s no armour save allowed.  Excellent power and I don’t have a problem with it costing a lot of charge.  It good enough to warrant it.

And there you are, Tzeentch, in all its ever-shifting glory.  It’s the most random of the powers, but you’d expect that, really.

Next on the list: Nurgle

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Taking the Mark

Well, the recording of the podcast last night went way over schedule (on top of a technical-difficulty-inspired late start), so I am knackered this morning and slightly annoyed that we couldn’t give the codex and its rules and units the thorough dissections that such specimens deserve.

Suffice to say, you should still listen to it though.  Pure gold.  In that is has no practical purpose in the real world and is criminally overvalued.  Anyway, there were a couple of points that I wanted to address, but that we just didn’t have the time, or I didn’t have the wherewithal to do so.  So what better platform to air the than here?

Well, okay.  Maybe there are better options, but hey, it’s a slow day at work and I’ve got to keep myself occupied somehow.

The Marks have stayed broadly the same, but two of them have received downgrades.  Slaanesh and Nurgle are identical to how they were.  That’s all well and good.  Tzeentch has been hit a little now, with the mark being unappealing for bog standard troops, only providing a 6+ Inv rather than the far more useful 5+ of the past.  It also provides no additional benefit for Psykers, which is a surprise and a disappointment, as it used to at least grant you an extra power (even though it didn’t allow you to cast more of them in the same turn).  No longer, unfortunately.  Overall Tzeentch is my favourite power from a story perspective, but when you translate it to game terms, it just isn’t worthwhile unless the guy who’s taking it already has an Invulnerable save.  The other Mark downgrade is Khorne, although it may not appear that way initially.  Gaining access to Rage and Counter-attack is awesome and scary: true.  However, it doesn’t give you any advantage over the old Mark, which gave you +1 Attack on you profile.  What the new Mark does is limit its effect to only the first round of a combat and introduce the chance of failure (certainly for Counter-attack).  Make no mistake, it’s still a good mark and can massively increase the combat effectiveness of any given unit.  It’s just got a little worse since its last incarnation.

Anyway, a lot of people already know this (and it was addressed on the podcast), but here’s a point that wasn’t.  You can’t mix marks in the same unit.  Slaanesh won’t play with Khorne, or Nurgle or Tzeentch.  It’s something that I’d not released until well after my first game because that rule is buried halfway through the intro paragraph above the Mark section.  It’s nothing crippling, but it’s certainly something to bear in mind, particularly if you’re playing against someone who’s using it.

Another thing to bear in mind mark-wise is the effects it has on psykers.  A psyker with a mark has to take at least one power from the required Chaos God.  I like these powers, all in all.  Some are definitely better than others, and you’d think that Tzeentch would have some kind of edge in that department, but sadly not.  Anyway, I’ll talk about the psychic powers some other time, because they certainly bear analysis.  The point IU was originally trying to make before sidetracking myself was this: You can’t take solely from your god’s powers.  You can take up to half (which would be two if you’re level 3 or Ahriman, 1 if you’re anyone else).  This means that no Psyker can completely flood the table to get the power he wants automatically.

Actually, having touched on Psychic powers, I think they warrant more attention, and as the IT problems at work appear to have been fixed, I don’t have the time to address them right now.  Check in next time for the brain ‘splosions that are the Chaos Psychic Powers!

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Whispered Word and the Malicant Locus

Well, I skipped out yesterday, but 4 out of 5 isn’t bad is it?

First, some brief housekeeping:  I got the Daemonforge rule wrong last post.  You can only do it once per game and have to declare at the beginning of the shooting or assault phase in order to pull it off, so, although the downside is still very minor, think a lot before blowing stuff up with it!

Next, I was going to do a unit-by-unit first impressions thing for the Codex, but my fellow Underling Ollie at Predictably Unconventional is doing that and in more detail that I would have done, so I urge you to give his series a read.  He’s up to Cult Troops and he’s more or less on the money as far as the analysis goes.  Good stuff.  I’ll just concentrate on what ever grabs my attention at the time, which in this case, is the prospective army I’m planning to build.  So sit down and pay attention, because its story time.

My planned CSM army is currently at about 2,000 points, but (as is the way with many of these things for me) could easily run to so, so much more.  This interesting thing for me is that the army is basically made of two different factions, each a force in its own right and both with their own backstories.  This makes it a fun deal for me and a nice exercise in army fluff, which I haven’t talked about much for ages, what with the competition-style Necrons I’ve been running.  My CSM aren’t going to be a hardcore tournament list, I don’t think (not that they’ll be any slouch in that department), but should be a fun force to play against.  I think of them as a more ‘Throne of Skulls’ level list.  Good for pickup games without me feeling like a prick.

Anyway, the first force is a bit of a holdover from back when I played Warriors of Chaos in Fantasy, and had an army called The Whispered Word, who were Tzeentch aligned but would visit Empire border-towns and incite rebellion, bring a fair bit of Khorne along with them because of this.  So I’ve updated the Whispered Word and brought them forward to the 41st millennium.  However, their god has now changed from Tzeentch to Slaanesh for, I will admit, game play reasons.  For your bog-standard troops in 40k, Tzeentch just isn’t an effective power.  For anyone with an Invulnerable save, Tzeentch is still awesome and its Icon is a lot of fun, but the Initiative bump from Slaanesh and the FnP from the Icon is just too good to pass up.  However, story wise, is still very easy to see Slaanesh as a Machiavellian corrupting presence in Imperial space, so it’s a change I’m fairly happy with.  This side of the army is the Power Armour side. Almost exclusively foot troops (with one Flyer for support) and almost exclusively Slaanesh aligned.  I’ve even got a couple of Warp Talons in there for shits and giggle, even if the lack of grenades and the high price tag could make them difficult to squeeze value out of.

The other side came to me when I was looking through the Codex.  I always knew I was going to get a Warpsmith.  It was a given.  My favourite HQ choice in the original Space Marines codex was the mast of the forge and the model looks awesome, and this is his Chaos counterpart.  It had to be done.  In fact, this guy beats the regular master of the forge for a simple reason.  He has access to an Invulnerable save.  It still boggles my mind that the master of all the technology in a Chapter cannot even get his hands on a bloody Refractor field.  Imperial Guard Officers get them for Emperor’s sake!

Anyway, another thing I liked when looking through book were the Daemon Engines.  I think they’re a good step forward to making Chaos more unique on the table and I really like the models too.  The image of the hideously beweaponed Warpsmith walking alongside these gun-wielding metal clad monsters the same way master would his hounds was a good image, and so the Malicant Locus was born.

Then there was the matter of the cultists.  I’ve made no pretence about my feeling about these guys.  I think they are an excellent addition to the ‘dex and long, long overdue.  There was never going to be a serious chance of my lists not having a sizable quantity of them.  Both of the forces can easily take them due to back story, but in the end I decided that since I want to run a massive mob of Khorne assault cultists, and as the models mainly look like crudely bionic-ed manufactorum workers, I decided that they should be part of the Malicant Locus. 

My Warpsmith (let’s call him Threx) would target Forge worlds and manufactora planets and infect the more vulnerable systems and altered personnel with scrapcode, causing widespread unrest and violent sedition.  My Chaos Lord (Hieronymus Reach) and his cohorts would make contact under the guise of the loyalist chapter ‘The Emperor’s Call’ and assist in quelling the uprisings whilst undermining planetary defence and communications.  Eventually the chaos caused by Threx would come to a head and the daemon Engines would be unleashed against the combine forces of the loyalist PDF, Imperial Guard and skitarii, supported by the space marines of the Emperor’s Call.  Who would then turn on the loyalists with whomever they had coaxed over to their side.

That’s the plan anyway.  But you know what they about plans and contact with the enemy.

That said, I think there could well be a Black Crusade RPG campaign in this army’s back-story.  Time will tell…

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

First blood for the Chaos!

Hey guys.  Just a quick one today, as work is being little mental.  IT issues.  Don’t ask.

I played my first game with the new CSM codex last night.  Not really an ideal matchup for the Chaos (that would be Codex Marines, obviously!) as I was pitted against Eldar.  It was a bits and pieces Eldar list with nothing spectacular or new in it, just decent workhorse units.  Squad of Guardians, squad of Rangers, Farseer, Fire Dragons and Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents, War Walkers and a Wraithlord.

Also, some D-cannons.  Alright then, maybe this was a little interesting!  Anyway, I was packing 40 cultists, in two small squads of ranged guys, one big for assaults, led by my Chaos Lord and…  Hang on.  If I continue like this then this post isn’t going to be short at all.

The important thing was that I was playing with some new units.  I got a delivery from the fine folks at Triple Helix on Monday and so I spent  most of that evening assembling the new plastic hotness and came away with a Forgefiend, a Heldrake, 5 Warp Talons and a headache.  The Talons, Drake and Fiend all got a debut performance in that Eldar game.

The Heldrake was vicious, zooming onto the board and Vector striking a squadron of Warwalkers, (killing one) before blitzing a load of guardians with the Baleflamer.  It only got one more shot with the flamer before an Icarus lascannon took the gun away, but it still made its presence felt with the Vector strikes.  Overall, it performed well and I think I rank the Baleflamer higher than the Hades Autocannon and the precision you can get with it is insane and it denies practically all saves.  However, it has no capacity to take down fliers and is only of middling effectiveness concerning vehicle takedown.  So the field is very much open on that score, as vector strike is not an ideal method of flyer killing (although it’s far from useless).

The Forgefiend did well, despite a poor start.  It didn’t manage to damage a single vehicle, but it can annihilation non-MEQ squads with almost insulting ease and it can deal enough raw damage in a round to break through 3+ saves as well.  Daemonforge is only really worth triggering for vehicle shots in my opinion, although the risks are low enough for it to be a valid all-purpose play.  Really, the biggest impact it had on the game was the fact that my opponent was oddly, almost myopically focussed on taking it down, and I just kept it wandering out of range of his tank-killing guns, forcing his troops into crossfires.

The Warp Talons were disappointing, but that wasn’t the fault of the actual unit.  I deep struck them and they didn’t turn up until Turn 4 and couldn’t charge anything until Turn 5, so they didn’t have much of an impact, particularly because their Warpstrike blindy-power is next to useless versus Eldar.  I still think they’re probably overpriced at 30 points apiece and no grenades (seriously, that is a massive black mark against them, although they are manoeuvrable enough to mitigate this somewhat), but they’re very cool models and a bit of fun for the army.  I’ll probably take a couple of small squads, max out on mutations for the Champion.

Speaking of which, the Boon Table.  Quite frankly it didn’t have a great impact on the game.  My Possessed champion got Icy Aura (all enemies in base contact get a S4, AP5 hit at I1 in assault), but never got into a fight with anything that wasn’t a tank.  My Lord earned an Instant Death Melee upgrade, but only ended up against single wound models.  The best result I got on the table was that my Warp talon Champion got Shrouded, but that was squandered by me putting them in reserve.  I should have deployed them on the board in cover and used the cover to advance (they’re certainly fast enough to cover hop) and eat something worthwhile.

Final note: Chaos Artefacts.  I think the go to Chaos Artefact (certainly for me) is the Black Mace.  It is positively brutal.  So many attacks, decent chance of instant death and the 3” wave is horrific (although it won’t affect combat resolution).  It is possibly overpowered.  If you see an opponent equip one of his characters with this, then stay the hell away from that character.  Even models not involved in the same combat (or any combat at all) can get nuked by the range of the Cursed effect.

Anyway that’s all for today folks.  Fingers’ crossed for another blog post tomorrow!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A twisted sense of honour...

The first thing that needs to be addressed when talking about this army is the Champions of Chaos rule.  I feel that this is going to be the lynchpin of the army, and the difference between a good CSM player and non-good CSM player is going to be how they apply it and adapt to it.

I’m not even talking about the Boon Table aspect, although that will undeniably be a good chunk of the rule’s effect on a game.  That’s just a side effect of the rule.  The main crux of it is that in every assault, the Chaos player must issue or accept a challenge when legal to do so.  This is a very big deal and requires careful consideration.  Challenges are a big part of the 6th edition assault phase, and although they are one of the more polarising elements in the new edition are unlikely to go away any time soon.  They can be used to stall a combat, deflect specialist weaponry from its desired target or turn the tide of a combat in the favour of one individual against dozens.

But all that is when you have the choice to do so.  When you’re in a combat against a handful of Ork boyz, you probably don’t want your bog-standard squad sergeant calling out the power-klaw armed Nob gurning in the middle of the gang.  You want your three chainsword attacks to go on the boys and help improve the combat res and limit the punch back from the boys.  Or you want your sergeant still alive so your leadership bonus remains intact.  No so, with Chaos. It is compulsory to call out the Nob, do your best to kill him, statistically fail and get reduced to a fine paste on the backswing.

The insurance against something like this happening is to double stack characters in so you can at least have a choice between two guys as to who will be more appropriate for the opponent.  Unfortunately, there really isn’t too much option for this tactic as the only Independent Characters in the list dwell in the HQ slots.  Because of all this, I think the best setups for squad leaders will be either pretty much nothing or tooled for one of two things: for endurance or for character killing.  As a further quirk, Chaos aren’t particularly good at the endurance side. But they are really quite good at the killing side.  So this gives you two options; go cheap or go for the kill.

And that almost sums the Codex up, doesn’t it?

Anyway, my typing time is up for this post.  I’ll be back with more thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Now for some Chaos!

The Chaos Codex is a very nice book.  £30 nice?  Almost definitely not.  But I’ve reconciled myself with the pricing policies inherent in my hobby and forked over the cash anyway.  I know PDFs of the codices are very easy to find (and free) and all that, but there is something to be said for the physicality of a book, even if the price tag rankles.  At least GW doesn’t seem to have spared any expense in its production.  See point 1 in this paragraph.  It is, after all, a very nice book.

It also comes with some interesting format ideas, one of which I think is a very good one.  There is a complete foldout reference page in the back, detailing, not just stat names and weapon profiles, but every unique special rule and every random table that the new book spews for the.  It really is a very nice touch and makes the thing far more practical to use mid-game.  And you will need to refer to it.  I say this to anyone who still needs to look up the mission or deployment types, then you should probably run screaming from this ‘dex.  Seriously.

There are three unit types that randomly shift special rules on a shockingly regular basis (all on D3 tables, thankfully) and another couple of units that you can change the weaponry of every turn (and actually have to.  You have to use a different set each turn).  And that’s before you get to the D66 table of Chaos boons (D66 in this case only having about 30 options).  And the fact that you can give nearly every character the opportunity to roll on the table before the game begins.

You’ll need an army list, or at least a piece of paper and a pen, because your squad leaders will be mutating all over the shop if you’re having a good game.  Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to do a bit of a dissection of the book and the units therein for your collective edification and to ease my own insecurities about the lack of content on my blog.  So, I declare this Chaos week.  I’ll go through the various units every weekday (hopefully!) with a few lines on my first impressions for each of the units.  It’s going to be mainly theory, however.  I want to play many games with this army, but I can’t quite yet. Certainly not enough to bring any sizable degree of practical experience to the table.

I’ll try to make it interesting.

Whether or not I succeed will be in the hands of the Four Powers though…

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Games Day 2012

I know this is going to get a few eye rolls from the more jaded amongst you, but I’m really looking forward to Games Day on Sunday.  This is only the second I’d have gone to, so I suppose it could be a case of the shine not quite being off the apple yet, but I’m genuinely interest to see what’ll be going on.

Because I hear interesting things.  Talk of the new Chaos Codex.  The Horus Heresy expansion.  The Fantasy Flight booth (hopefully).  Last year I went to mainly assist Inquisitor Steve and Dagmire with podcasting reportage and we got a lot of stuff out of it in terms of sound bites and interviews.  However, that stuff took nearly the whole day.  We worked in shifts, because we needed to guys to stake out the writer’s seminars for the end of the talks. One to ask the questions, one to hold the camera.  This did well for the podcast, but was a really tiring day in all and I having to squeeze all the looking around and stuff into the occasional half hour/forty-five minute window wasn’t really conducive to my general ‘confused dithering’ style.

So I thought I’d go back without any regimented podcast responsibilities and see the place at my own pace.  I may keep you updated on that score, although my punctuality track record for this blog is fractious to say the least.

I have heard rumblings that there will be a preview of the Chaos Codex and the event and I dearly hope that’s true, as the Dark Vengeance box introduced of a couple of units that don’t appear in the old ‘dex.  Yes, I am counting the Hellbrute as new.  It lacks a built-in ranged weapon on the close combat arm and doesn’t go crazy at the drop of a hat, so it may well be new.  It makes sense to have a new Chaos Codex very close to the main box release and Games Day is an excellent time for some hands-on.  I want to have a decent gander at the new book to see what I can do with my cultists, as they are the reason I’ve got into Chaos recently and something that has sorely been missing from the game for a long, long time.

Another hope I have with Chaos is that they redo Raptors to be more in line with Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s interpretation of them and it would really help to distinguish them from the Loyalists rather than just making regular assault marines look spikier.

The Horus Heresy Forge World book is interesting and it’d be nice to have a look at, but I don’t anticipate purchasing it.  I’ve always baulked at buying the exceptionally expensive Forge World books and I have no great desire to play 30K, although there are a few people down at the club who would be undoubtedly up for it.  I’m sure I’ll be able to borrow the book from them somewhere down the line if it does take my fancy.

One big thing I’m looking forward to (or hoping blindly for) is potential new releases from Fantasy Flight.  Last Games Day was the release of the Blood Bowl Team Manager card game (more or less) and it was definitely a great purchase.  I still play it regularly now.  Great game.  And it’s getting an expansion!  Dark Elves and two Undead teams are being added to the roster and I am hoping that the expansion is going to be on sale at the Day.  Keep me occupied for quite some time, I can tell you.

Also, on the outside chance (but no less anticipated), is the new standalone 40k board game FFG are releasing called ‘Relic’, based on the Talisman system.  I am deeply intrigued by this and having a fun little 40k themed board game that doesn’t make your brain melt (lookin’ at you, Siege of Terra!) would be a great thing and a handy evangelising tool for board gaming people who don’t know much about the Grimdark.

Anyway, Sunday can’t come round soon enough, and I’m looking forward to seeing what GW and affiliates are going to put on this year.

Fingers’ crossed!

Message ends.