Friday, December 2, 2016

Wargames Gallery: Alpha Drake Stand-off

A picture from today's game (part of an on-going Planetary Empires Campaign on the frozen wastes of Fahrenheit's Landing) features an interesting tactical situation for my Alpha Legion to find themselves in: a heavy support squad stare down the maw of a Heldrake, whilst the Storm Eagle soars by.

Ultimately, the heavy support squad survived, but the Storm Eagle did not in this particular game!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Arlatax Class Battle-Automata Maniple

Background.
Stockpiled by Xana, and with select Loyalist Forge Worlds having limited supplies, dark rumours swirl around these automata. Of course, where there's a bit of smoke there's sometimes a fire, and with these automata the chances of Malifica seem rather high.

Physically, these are Domitars. But they're domitars with jump packs in a nut shell.

Strengths.
As a jump pack monstrous creature, the Arlatax are a huge piece of kit. The toughness alone rules out the chances of instant death from vindicator shells and the stat line features an impressive 4 wounds. Moreover, the initiative is significant as being at I=4 bringing it on par with the average space marine. Of course, Anacharis Scoria can boost this further (as can choices of mechanicum sub-faction!) which can help increase it further.

The equipment is very good. The combination of plasma blasters with inbuilt cannons on the power claws is really nice and can be very powerful on the charge in to close combat. Indeed, I find plasma blasters to be highly valuable for taking out power armour.

The only real option is to swap out the power claws for arc scourges. This provides the rampage rule, armour bane and concussion and is really worth it in concert with the jump pack. One should be getting the charge in here and therefore the scourges can be very powerful against both troops and vehicles when required.

Weaknesses.
The Arlatax are categorically not Domitars. They lack the sheer resilience of the Domitars and are therefore a bit more vulnerable. In particular their armour saves are nothing particular special at 3+.

Fundamentally, the major concern I have with this unit is how to keep in range of a character with a cortex controller. There are very few that I can think of that would fit this bill.

Builds.
There isn't too much to talk about in terms of options. However, here are two build.

Arlatax with Arc Scourge and Paragon of Metal (220 points).
With the paragon of metal special rule we are less worried about the cortex controller and it can function omits own very nicely.

Three Arlatax with Arc Scourge (555 points).
Only for very large games here. This maniple is very powerful and will clear out space marine squads with regularity if used and positioned well. Yet, they would still be vulnerable to focussed fire from even small arms like bolters and fury of the legion.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Anacharis Scoria

Background.
Entrapped within Xana, Scoria was `liberated' by the Imperium during the Xana Incursion, only to turn the Forge World in to the first of the hell forges. As such, it will be of no surprise that Scoria cannot be taken by Loyalist forces. That wording alone is interesting: he could be a traitor ally for the Taghmata or Legio Cybernetica, and also could be unaligned (if such a definition exists).

Strengths.
On his own, Scoria is a force to be reckoned with, even by Astartes standards, thanks to his impressive statistics line and a slew of special rules that would make a Primarch blush (eternal warrior, feel no pain, stubborn and the usual mechanicum rules that you might expect). Seriously, he could probably go toe to toe with the likes of Lorgar (minus psyker powers) and Alpharius very readily. That said, it is his special rules than make him truly shine on the battlefield.

Partis Cybernetica will allow Scroia to join a unit of monstrous creatures with the cybernetic cortex special rule. Clearly this is geared toward units like Domitars and Castellax -- which would be my preferred option here myself.

The Voidian Sceptre is an amazing close combat addition that yields d3 wounds on a hit with no IWND or FNP rolls permitted. This alone makes Scoria able to go toe to toe with Primarchs. He might even be able to stand a few rounds with the likes of Vulkan or Horus to be fair. Really, he's that good.

The Rite of the Beast meanwhile is a Cybertheurgy power. Activated at a small penalty, it provides an initiative bonus as well as critically re-rolling failed to hits (plus some bonuses to charge distance). This urges his use with units like Domitars.

The Homonculex allows Scoria to take some Arlatax automata of his own that he has, erm, experimented upon.

His warlord trait is Forbidden Protocols and means that his machines can sweeping advance and run (so long as they're in range). This, again, is a great force multiplier.

Finally, for a points cost, he can upgrade to have the Xanathite Abeyant. This makes Scoria ridiculous with a bonus to W, A, and a variety of special rules added to his already formidable array like IWND. If you're taking Scoria, you should take this as well. He already has really good base equipment like archeotech pistols, machinator array and the protectiva. Add on a cyber familiar and its truly ridiculous. Try going toe to toe with Horus. I dare you.

Weaknesses.
Not many here. I will mention that the Homonculex means that is Scoria is removed then any Arlatax that he has with him is also removed from play.

The biggest negative is that he is not fearless. He can totally be swept. Sure, its low likelihood, but the possibility exists.

Overall.
He is the mechanicum equivalent to a Primarch realistically. And he can take on (and win against!) the weaker Primarchs very readily. With ones like Horus, he will do well and stand a sporting chance of winning as well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Storm Eagle Update

A few photographs today to update my Storm Eagle progress. This one is, of course, in the nominal colours of the Alpha Legion. Added to this are extensive scratched and wear and tear. Plus, its now totally rocking a series of decals that I'm very proud to have attached with the aid of Micro Sol!




Monday, November 28, 2016

Inferno delayed to 2017

This is older news now, but it appears that Inferno, the next book in the Horus Heresy series, has been delayed until 2017 judging by the comments made on one of the official forums from Forge World.

Of course, for those following along, the original release date was always going to be something like February 2017. It was simply that the December 2016 White Dwarf rumours and image scans were appearing to suggest it would be in time for the festive season in 2016. And indeed: those White Dwarf sources looked both credible and the dates very real for a release in 2016.

The announcement merely re-sets the release schedule back to what it was originally.

All this said, I really like the "double-whammy" that Games Workshop has pulled for the Thousand Sons appearing in a very short time frame in both 30k and 40k. Plus, we also got the Burning of Prospero on top of that for a triple-whammy. There's little not to like at the moment about Games Workshop and Forge World's release schedule. And I for one can live with a small delay in Inferno!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Space Hulk Deathwing Gameplay Video Review

"Inside the Sanctum Imperator these impious creatures will find much to conceal their whereabouts and movements. Be on your guard, brothers" 

The above is the opening line to the recently released 17ish minutes of gameplay footage taken from the Space Hulk: Deathwing PC game that will soon be released. The video of this gameplay can be found here and the image below is a screen capture of part of said video.


From the outset, the game comes across as a vast labyrinthine maze riddled with genestealers, genestealer hybrids and monstrous tyranid creatures. Almost from the outset the growls of the creatures can be heard in the background and that sets the ambience and purpose of the game straight from the word go.

The player appears to control a Deathwing Librarian. Initially, he is armed with a force sword and a storm bolter. But in later play, it becomes evident that he can trade these in for other armaments. Imagine, for instance, a Librarian armed with an assault cannon and a power fist. No problem for this computer game at all -- you get to have your cheese (and cake) and eat it here! Nice!

The video shows that as battle carries on, various portions of the terminator armour become more damages (see the centre right of the screenshot) and it is entirely possible for other members of the team (which in this video appear to be computer controlled, but can be given basic commands by the player characters) to get injured and even die during the missions. Luckily there is an apothecary with the main player character it seems!

Navigating the space hulk and twiddling doors open, closed and locked is all part of the tactics that can be employed here. But the thing is: given that you can execute pincer movement on the genestealers also means that they're going to try to do the same on you. I think this is evident at a number of critical junctures in the gameplay where the enemies come from multiple directions all at once.

The variety of bad guys is decent. Ranging from the hack and slash of the rapidly moving purestrain genestealers, through to the very ranged hybrids that tote missile launchers, and the large big bad guy tyranid monsters at the end of one of the levels (plus enemy psykers) makes for a potent mix. The space hulk itself is vast and almost more like a city than a spacecraft. I guess that's the point though!

The gameplay looks good with a nice combination of first person shooter style coupled with hack and slash of swords and power fists in addition to beautiful and potent psyker abilities employed by the main player character. The orders given to squad mates appear to be executed very nicely with the computer artificial intelligence appearing to do a rather good job of things. 

In terms of negatives, I thought that the repetitive nature of squad members declaring that there is a missile launcher up ahead was annoying. Very annoying. At least, I think it would get on my nerves a lot if I played this game for a while. If only they could have more and different dialogue recorded for the game it would not grate on me as much I think. 

There are some features that I don't quite fully understand either yet -- in terms of resource management and upgrading various bits and pieces. I guess that will become more apparent when the game gets fully released on Dec 9th 2016.

Overall, looks good, wish the dialogue was more, and more varied, and seems like it'll be decently challenging. 
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