Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Overthinking the Overload!

Well, the Overload event was fun!

It was very interesting not only to have the Spearhead itself as the new ‘n’ shiny, but also random pairings per game.  In fact, the random pairings aspect was so much fun that we are thinking of incorporating it into more regular events.  Having to come up with synergies and tactics on the fly with your (temporary) team mate can be very challenging at times, but is a lot of fun and very rewarding when it actually works.

It also cuts down on the amount of cheese, as you can’t tailor your lists excessively for one particular task.  Your opponent might not be able to capitalise on your list and that could cost you again, because if you don’t support your ally you’ll be outnumbered and outgunned.  That said there is still a ripe harvest of cheese to be gathered.  Can cheese be harvested?  Ah, sod it.  Onwards!

I ran with an odd Necron list for the event, with no Troop choices at all, as Spearhead lets you do stuff like that.  There are no compulsory choices for your force, although you are still limited by the Force Org chart.  So I went a little nuts and mad a force comprised entirely of all of my available HQ, Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots and a stack of AV13.  Two Annihilation Barges, two Spyders, 2 minimum squads of Scarabs, a squad of 5 Wraith and 2 Overlords with Warscythes in Command Barges.  For some odd fluff I made a bit of back-story around those two; the basic idea being that during the biotransference process, an error occurred and this Overlord was accidentally transferred into two bodies sharing one consciousness.  Thus Drathykyr the Twain was born.

This was my first major attempt at running Sweep Attacks (a special move permitted by the Command Barge), and I have to say that they’re lethal.  Basically, sweep attacks allow you to make three attacks at unit you pass over during the movement phase.  These attacks hit on a 4+ (or a 3+ if you’re only moving at combat speed).  Vehicles hit on rear armour, no cover save.  Combo that up with an S7 power weapon and 2D6 armour pen and there is no target it’s not good for.  To make matters even nastier, it you roll a 6 to hit when attack infantry, you get to pick who gets the hit!  Drive-by character sniping.  Be a bastard, it works.

So, my list was based around the Twain, and they were priced to match, costing 360 of my allotted 1,000 points.  In addition, I put them in a Mechanised Assault Spearhead, which basically allows them to outflank on turn 1, guaranteed.  Nothing is safe!  Unless they turn up on the wrong side of the board.

The first game was against a pair of Eldar generals and my ally was another Necron player.  My ally had not really played a great deal with his ‘crons though, which left me feeling like a bit of a dictator as I just kept barking orders at all and sundry whenever he asked for advice.  I wasn’t relishing the Eldar game, as the irritation they’ve inflicted on my Dark Eldar still runs deep.  As you can imagine, there was a fair amount of mech going around, although one of my opponents (occasional compatriot Skew), ran three Wraithlords in something of berserker Spearhead, giving them rage, counter attack, furious charge and all manner of nastiness.  Very nasty to behold.  The setup began with the Necrons basically fielding every damn thing in a tight wedge for a unified sluggish march up the table and the Eldar field as little possible, as is their pointy-eared way, the little cowards.  They deployed two tanks of stuff, safely tucked away behind a building.

It wasn’t enough to save them from the Twain though.  I rolled nicely for the side and the Twain inflicted a nice bit of damage on the pair of them, destroying weapons and immobilising the tanks where they stood.  Well, at least stunning them.  That’s nearly as good, right?  The Eldar countered with a Mechanised Assault of their own, but moved in to reinforce their stricken tanks rather than attack the body of the Necron forces.  This, I feel, was a mistake.  They would have been better laying a heavy strike down on the Necron rearguard and leaving their two starting tanks to be rescued by their regular reserves, including the berserker Wraithlords.  My Overlords hit what they could, as hard as they could and retreated back being sure to stay out of possible Wraithlord reach.  To be fair, those things were a major concern of mine.  The Necrons can do a lot, but I wasn’t confident in their ability to handle three T8 monstrous creatures on the rampage.  The game continued in this vein for a bit, with the footslogging Necron forces making a steady advance, the Eldar forces trying to consolidate in the back field and lacking the concentrated firepower to really dent the Necron forces.

A squadron of Tank-hunting Warwalkers outflanked to one side near the Necron forces, but concentrated their fire on scarab swarms.  I was lucky with my cover saves though, and was left with plenty of bugs on the field.  My Wraiths made good ground, very quickly and threw themselves into the Wraithlords to hold them up or kill them.  Wraiths were pretty much the only thing I had going that could be effective against that threat.  They’ve got a good invulnerable save and plenty of rending attacks, plus Fearless as well.  Unfortunately, they were slacking that game and didn’t quite kill the Wraithlord they charged and two of the Wraiths got doubled out with the return swings.  Then next turn the other two Wraithlords joined in…

The Necron advance was finally reaching its destination, with the Annihilation Barges laying down constant streams of lightning and the Scarabs chowing down on whatever tank they could reach.  Those little buggers can move when they want to!  My ally was laying down the support fire as well, his Doomsday Ark and his two Annihilation Barges hurling firepower downfield wherever they could.  It was a good day to be an unfeeling metal bastard.

The game was called on turn four, as we were timed out.  I blame the relative unfamiliarity with the Spearhead rules for that.  The subsequent games went a lot quicker.  Anyway, the end result was a Necron victory; two objectives to one.  The Eldar had flung a tank next to their home objective and the my team mate had our objective thoroughly swamped with Necron infantry.  The midfield objective was a hard sell though, what with the all the corpses and tank wreckage.  In fact, for some reason, I was convinced the game was a draw and that no-one held the middle, until it was pointed out that my Overlord, fresh from wiping the floor with some Dire Avengers was scoring (part of a Spearhead formation) and actually within 3” of the objective, but only just.

I exhaled.  Phew.  Long game, and were it not for the bad luck on the Eldar side (their reserves were decidedly less than punctual and the outflanking units kept appearing on the wrong board edges), it could easily have been a draw.

Never mind, eh?  On to game two!

Later, though.  Definitely later.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Fiction

Hey guys!

If you’ll scan your eyes briefly to the right of this very sentence, then they will encounter the Underlings blog list.  Yes, these guy are all other Overlords forumites of various degrees of personhood who have taken it upon themselves to spew their own brand of gibberish onto the increasing corrupted noospheric tubes of teh Interwebz.  Enjoy or not at your peril.

Speaking of your own peril, below is an excerpt from my short story that I’m writing for the Black Library submissions window (closing in but a few short days!).  I’ll be culling the best 1,000 words from it to send in, but until then, why not enjoy these raw, unculled 1,000 words straight from the story itself.

In other words; this is a fanfic.  It is mine.  I hope you enjoy it.  I plan on posting it up in a number of sections every Friday.  Hopefully it’ll keep me writing, as I am very much the type of person who needs a deadline to do anything!

Any comments or criticism, please let rip.  I’m all ears.

Not literally.

Here we go!


Space isn’t cold.

Temperature is a property of matter.  Space, by definition, is its absence.

Cast adrift in the harsh void, Xandrei burned.  He burned with rage, consumed by hate and indignation.

The attack had occurred an indeterminate amount of time ago.  Xandrei hadn’t been able to get an accurate reading.  His chronometric systems had been knocked out by the explosion.  He had been maglocked to the hull of the Eisensperre overseeing void shield repair when the splinter fleet rent its way into the materium with a fractal burst of non-colour and a pulse of screams.  The ships were jagged, twisted things.  Foul grotesqueries that offended the eye with their mocking imitation of Imperial design.  Tendrils of warp-stuff trailed after them, slowly dissipating into the vacuum of space.  The raiders opened fire immediately, their tainted weapons sparking against the reserve shielding before overloading them in a blinding flash.

Forge-brother Xandrei Kimmel canted furious orders to his servitor work team to bring the main shields back up, but was interrupted. A red-black beam tore a mighty gash in the hull mere metres from Xandrei’s position and the resultant explosion of a hull-imbedded fuel line widened the gap quicker than he could react.  The sudden conflagration overwhelmed the maglock system in his armour and he was thrown voidward, shards of the Eisensperre’s black hull cascading after him.  In a desperate attempt to slow his flight he triggered his harness’s void-guidance thrusters and vented precious internal atmosphere and pneumatic gasses from his suit to add to the arresting force and turn him round.

The free-flying fragments of the Eisensperre’s hull bombarded him, the sound of the impacts reverberating inside his armour at a deafening volume.  He curled into a ball to reduce the debris collision, but too late.  A sheet of ceramite hull plate several metres across smashed into him head on.  He felt his chest crack and splinter, he felt his servos dislocate and he felt the air tear its way out of his lungs.  Pain lanced into his brain from every area of his stricken form. Unconsciousness claimed him.

He woke to a world of rage and pain. The sudden attack, the clear evidence of warp-taint in the ambushers, his failing to anticipate the assault, his inability to provide more than a token resistance.  All these fed into a maelstrom of anger and loathing, directed both at the enemy and at himself.  Such feelings were natural, inevitable and understandable; even for a Space Marine.  But Xandrei Kimmel was an Iron Hand, and such base, instinctive, emotional responses to stimuli were not to be tolerated.  Not in this state.

Within a moment, through a combination of hormonal regulators, Astartes conditioning and sheer force of will, the swirling morass of emotion was contained, harnessed and focussed; changed from a blazing fire to fine blue flame of purpose.  He took stock of the situation.  He could feel the abrasive grind of shards of his fused ribcage rubbing against each other as he breathed.  His right arm refused to rotate properly, sending a jagged spike of pain through his brain whenever he attempted it. Internal diagnostics reported fourteen minor breaches in inner atmosphere containment.  He could feel warm liquid pooling in the left boot of his power armour, although whether it was blood or lubricant, he could not say.  He did not register any internal haemorrhaging, but the damage to his form was significant.

The collision with the hull fragment had spun him, but thankfully had not propelled him much further from his starting point and his velocity had mostly arrested, the automated gyroscopic systems of his suit having managed to stabilise him even during unconsciousness.  He turned his gaze to the Eisensperre.  It was adrift.  The thermal imaging systems in his right eye registered patches of radiated thermal activity, indicative of multiple on-board fires.  The vessels of the Archenemy were clustered round the majestic barge like scavengers, boarding tubes penetrating to the various rents and gashes in the Eisensperre’s hull.  Individually they seemed tiny and insignificant, but Xandrei knew that that many simultaneous boarding contacts were often a death knell for any voidfaring ship, the defenders having to respond to too many invaders to maintain control.

The command ship of the enemy splinter fleet loomed large over the stricken Eisensperre, closing in as if for a killing strike, but without charging its weapons.  This was not a mission of annihilation for them, he surmised, but for resources.  They were planning to use the ship, his ship, in whole or in part to serve their unholy ends.  Whether they planned to strip out all the useful systems and supplies or retask the vessel wholesale, Xandrei did not know.  Nor did he care.  It would not happen.  He would not allow it.  He triggered his suit’s void thrusters and set his course.  The Eisensperre could not be taken.


He didn’t know how it had started, really.  What had driven him to this point?  Fear?  Possibly.  Conversion instead of death was a common choice.  Anger?  The lies of his old life, futile untruths used to justify the cold unwarranted cruelty of an innately unjust system, were surely a cause for retribution.  Curiosity?  After the truth of the False Emperor was revealed to him, what other revelations lay ahead for him to explore? The temptation of forbidden knowledge was undeniably powerful.  No.  It wasn’t any of those.  Not primarily.

It was gratitude.  The lies had been stripped clean, the Emperor’s shackles had been torn asunder and the experience was exhilarating.  He was free.  It was bliss.  He would do anything to feel that way again, but knew that it couldn’t happen.  Nevertheless, he treasured those moments and not a day went past when he did not thank the man who gave them to him, although he could not be considered a man any longer.

Gideon Lock gave thanks when the airlock opened and the cool oil-scented atmosphere of the enemy ship flooded into the boarding tube.  He gave thanks as his men stormed through the spartan plasteel corridors, weapons ready.   He gave thanks as he pounced on the terrified black-clad deckhand, the warped scorpion’s claw that was once his right hand sinking deep into the man’s neck, severing both jugular veins and spraying him in the crimson backwash.  He gave thanks as he savoured the sticky warmth across his face and knew that he had freed one more soul for his lord.  He could hear the clatter of boots on the metal floor as enemy reinforcements approached.  With spittle dribbling from his distended jaws, Gideon gave thanks once more and broke into a run.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Drükkskar Rises...

Well, Clan Drükkskar is currently arrayed in a variety of boxes in the corner of the room.  I can’t lie; I haven’t really done much with them since their acquisition in this current raw state.  I flung a few justifications around:  I haven’t had time; I want to have the whole clan together before I assemble.  Nothing that really held water though.  I just can’t be bothered at the moment.  That will change though, most certainly.  Last time I talked about my clan I estimated the total list at about 5,000 points.  Unfortunately that has changed; it’s inexorably on the increase.  Especially with the release of the Stormtalon.  Now, a lot of people have problems with how it looks.  People always have problems with how marine vehicles look.  They are ugly.  Always have been.  It’s the aesthetic.  We heard bitching about the Stormraven, saw it in the plastic and some people hated it.  Others thought it looked better now that they could see it out of the promo shots.  I never thought it was that bad.  I still don’t.  That probably why the Drükkskar are going to have a couple.  Aside from everything else, these guys need transports and I still oddly averse to the Rhino chassis.  And if I have to struggle with another bloody drop-pod I’ll fire jagged pins of hate into the wall.

So I was thinking that I may as well give my few inexplicably (occasionally) interested readers a quick and quite possibly slightly inaccurate rundown of my plans for my clan.  Now, the Iron Hands don’t run strict Codex.  They share more of a similar setup to the Space Wolves in that the various chapter subdivisions are based on clan and family.  This means that although they have ten clans, just like other chapters have ten companies, each clan is effectively a chapter in microcosm.  Each clan will have its own Librarians, Terminators, Dreadnoughts, Scouts, etc.  I’m happy with this arrangement as it provides me with a greater license to get the clan how I want it.

Nevertheless, the core of the clan is the Tactical Squad and that’s no different for the Drükkskar.  I’m packing 4 full tactical squads, each lead by a sergeant in Terminator armour, each with a different weapon load out.  Apart from the sarge though, each squad is kitted out the same way.  Ten-man squads, one Meltagun, one Heavy Bolter.  Proper all-rounders in the mould of the Xth.  Next up are a couple of Devastator squads: one kitted out to the gills with heavy bolters, the other with the more conventional tank-busting weaponry.  Then I’ve got a bit of an odd choice.  I’m packing a jump-packless Assault squad with no dedicated transport.  I might (might) get a Drop Pod for them, but that’s sketchy.  This is more a flavour and cheapness thing than anything else.  I’ve got a load of chainsword/bolter arms and a load of standard tactical marines.  I may as well have a footslogging assault list.  Gives my Iron Father some guys to tool around with.  I might promote them to Vanguards though.  It’s still a bit up in the air.

Backing up the 70-strong core of the clan, I’m going for a large, but bare bones Sternguard squad, the special ammo not really needing a replacement and playing really well with the Relentless bolters rule I’m giving the chapter.  And next up: the Dreadnoughts.  I’m packing a lot of Dreads.  Two regular, one Contemptor, two Ironclad, maybe one more Contemptor with a Heavy Conversion Beamer for kicks.  That covers ground forces.  In terms of air support, I’ve already assembled my Storm Eagle (really nice model, but precisely the wrong shape and size for any container I own!) and I plan to run a couple of additional Ravens for transport duties.  Accompanying them will be a full wing (probably three, although if I sell my vestigial third kidney, I might get six) of Stormtalons because they’re ugly as all hell and I love ‘em for it.

Now we move on to a decidedly oddball choice for me.  I’m going to convert up a Nemesis Dreadknight for the Clan.  This guy is going to be decidedly one-off.  Especially as I’m going to use him as a Dreadknight.  My reasoning is that being the Iron Hands and unfathomably deep in with the Mechanicum, they have managed to acquire and retrofit one of these chassis to suit their needs.  This is going to be a fairly big conversion project for me, as I’m going to try to give him a Mechanicum axe to use as a Greatsword and to replace the stupid counter-intuitive design of the pilot’s cradle with a cockpit.  You see, the Storm Eagle contains all the parts for the Stormraven’s turret mounted guns, but none of those parts are ever used.  I am going to use them for this piece.  I’m not a fantastic converter, but I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this one.

Speaking of being deep in with the Mechanicum, I’ve also got a Mechanicum detachment planned for the clan.  I’ve already got a Shadowsord Baneblade variant painted black (bought it second hand from an Overlord) and I felt that I needed some indenture Mechanicum type to accompany it.  I managed to find a load of Micro Arts Studio models that work really well as Techpriests and Skitarii and so I constructed some decent ‘counts-as’ rules for them using the Grey Knights Codex.  Steering clear of most of the filth.  In fact, with the addition of an Assassin to make up the points, they’re a perfectly functional 750pts list.  Nothing horrific (apart from the Assassin if you hate them.  I don’t because they’re too easy to kill).

Finally, we have Independent Characters which is where the fun is.  I’ve rambled on enough for now, so I’ll get into them and their retinues at a later date.

So long.

Monday, 18 June 2012

I'm back! But for how long...

Hello again.

Well, I’m back now.  Hopefully for a while, but you never know.  I’ve been on holiday in Ireland for the past few days.  It’s always nice to hang round there for a bit, even if there is nothing to do apart from look at the scenery, walk round the scenery and read about something that isn’t the bloody scenery.

In my case, my holiday reading has been some particularly thrilling Anti-Money Laundering coursework material.  Please don’t spoil the ending for me.  It’s really hotting up now, 57 pages in.

Anyway, aside from that I also took the holiday time to (finally) get started on my writing sample for the Black Library submissions window.  I possibly left it a little late, as the window closes in a fortnight.  I’m also not helping my case by doing my piece a little arse-backwards.  You see, the way the submissions procedure goes for BL, you submit 1,000 word sample of your writing, and then they read it, disregard it and you move on with your life.  A thousand words isn’t particularly hard.  It’ll take me about an hour, maybe two.  However, I took it on myself to write an entire short story (about 10,000 words) and then cull the best 1,000 words out of that and hand it in.  This seems unwise.

However, it hasn’t stopped me.  Not quite.  I was in Ireland for four days and managed to churn out just over 5,000 words of the story.  Hardly prolific, but I’m happy with the story so far.  Iron Hands based (so no surprise there).  I had a bit of a concern as to whether or not the main character was interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention, but I think I’ve managed it.  Anyway, that’s going to be the main project for the rest of the month.  I should get the whole story finished soon and then I can excise the best thousand words and send it off.  And then probably use it to keep the blog updated for a bit.  I’m thinking of posting the story in pieces every Friday.  Hopefully use that Friday deadline to get some fiction writing done.  If I can work it into my routine, then that can only improve the ‘thwarted writer’ status I’ve clearly been hungering after for so long.

Anyhoo, another thing that’s been getting in the way of updating this overgrown and ill-maintained piece of webspace is that during my lunchtimes, I have been reading the Malifaux background.  From all three of the rulebooks (one main and two expansions).  It’s been interesting to read about the world and, whilst the quality of the writing is variable, it really does help add atmosphere to the world.  I’ll do a bit more of an in-depth write-up of my impressions on the Malifaux stories later on the in the week, time and laziness permitting.  Speaking of Malifaux, I have fallen for the game in a big way recently.  Seriously enjoying it and trying to spread the sickness to other club members, as is my disgusting wont.  The key seems to be finding a model or concept that the target finds cool, be it undead cowboys, zombie Chihuahuas, hulking steampunk mechs or, in the case of my friend Alex, a Johnny Cash expy.

Sue is awesome.

That last sentence totally made sense in context.  I swear.