Monday, September 29, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Rylanor the Unyielding

The Ancient Rylanor features in the Horus Heresy book series from Black Library and makes a neat appearance in Betrayal.  He is an ancient dreadnought of the Emperor's Legion legion and was one of the first entombed so, having served at the Emperors side since the early days.  Naturally, this makes him a loyalist only choice for any Emperor's Children force following the onset of Isstvan III: but he is not an HQ selection; rather he is an Elites selection. 

His points value is more than a land raider.  So is he worth it?  

Well, he is a contemptor class dreadnought for a start, which gives him an invulnerable save on top of his already impressive front armour AV=13 rating.  Couple this with the Venerable status that forces results on the damage chart to be re-rolled if Rylanor's player so chooses and that makes him a tough nut to crack.  But he's not impossible to crack by any means.  A well placed melta shot will certainly take care of him with a good roll and lucky re-roll on the damage chart.  But if I were playing against him, I'd want to torrent him to death by getting rid of his 3 HPs as soon as possible.

That said, he has a high WS BS and S stat line.and will be a terror in close combat.  His ranged Kheres Assault Cannon will also give many opponents pause for thought ... and make Rylanor a greater target to take down quickly.

His final rule (Mantle of Glory) allows a morale check re-roll and benefits loyal Emperor's Children in combat.

But returning to the original question: is he worth the points?  To be honest, I think the points would be better spent on an upgraded terminator cataphractii squad.  And even then, there'd be points left over.  So kudos for including Rylanor, but even with his buffs, he is a little bit too pricey for my tastes (too many points sunk in one gamble) to include in a loyalist Emperor's Children force.  If his rules were more a force multiplier or if he were an independant character, then maybe.  But as it is, probably not.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Fulgrim the Illuminator

Fulgrim. Called the Phoenician. Sire of the Emperor's Children. Possessed of Chaos and subsequently freely devoted to Slaanesh and elevated to a daemon prince. But in the early days of the Great Crusade, still a sane and devoted general for humanity who was simply prideful and sought to be the best he could at all things, including warfare. That much and more can readily be said about this primarch. But do his rules back up his … style?

The first thing to note is that Fulgrim is one of the cheapest primarchs available and he is therefore readily in the category of "probably should take him if I can have a Lords of War" for the Emperor's Children.

His seeking for perfecting in all theatres of war is reflected in his Strategic Planning special rule which is a solid way in which his army can tailor itself to new opponents without having to re-write the army list. Also, it is reflected in his Sublime Swordsmanship skill -- the ability to have a 3++ save only in combat means the player should (must!) seek out close combat as soon as possible for him. 

But unlike his brother, Angron, Fulgrim is more than a simple melee expert. He grants an amazing +2 combat resolution to himself and his sons. Why is this amazing? Well, 30k space marines do not have "And they shall know no fear", and hence can very much be swept away. This rule alone will almost dictate the play style for the Emperor's Children: get in combat early, strike hard at high initiative (higher than the enemy at any rate!), win the combat and sweep the opponent away in one combat round (preferably). Clearly in some cases, this requires many bodies, but in others, an elite cadre with high initiative and plentiful power weapons (or similar) can get the job done. 

And there's more! He has an Alpha Legion like ability to bring on his reserves: all reserve rolls can be re-rolled as desired. Hence an all deep striking army will be hard to counter and has the real possibility of alpha striking an opponent off the board before the game terminates. But its all about getting those bodies on to the board and in to the correct positions to pull off the kind of game that the Emperor's Children want to. 

Fulgrim's weapons are nothing too special: an AP2 sword, 2+/5++ and a volkite. Get him in to combat where he needs to be, frankly.

Overall, a cheap primarch and one that is tailor made to a particular play style. Play to his strengths!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Palatine Blade Squad

One of the unique units to the Emperor's Children at the start of the Isstvan campaign are the Palatine Blades: a cadre of super swordsmen.

Effectively, these guys are close combat assault squads, without the jump packs on their backs (which they can take).  To be honest, they're a little bit like Khorne Berzerkers or Khorne Bloodletters in some respects: improved WS, counter attack, etc.  But, here's a few catches: they're all characters in the squad and must all accept and issue challenges (as if they're 40k chaos space marine characters). 

They are all issued with Charnabal sabres: a rending weapon that also gives +1I in challenges: these are a great addition to the squad and can come in very handy. 

Here are some sample builds:

5 Palatine Blades; 2 power lances, sonic shriekers, melta bombs (160 points)
A squad that is meant to advance up the field, shooting their pistols along the way and charging whatever comes in range.  Place in a drop pod, rhino or land raider to taste.

5 Palatine Blades, jump packs, melta bombs, sonic shriekers, power sword on prefector (205 points)
A dedicated, elite assault squad.  Enough said.  Except that its a bit pricey.

5 Palatine Blades, jump packs, melta bombs, everyone with power swords or power lances, sonic shriekers (225 points)
The maxed-out squad.  They're bloodletters on wings.  With power armour.  Deal with them or there's going to be a lot of dead loyalists (or even traitors?!).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Emperor's Children Legion Rules

The Emperor's Children were known for their quest for perfection in the background literature. Hailing from a high Terran class, and then from Fulgrim's homeworld, they pushed themselves to ever higher feats of martial prowess.

But at first glance, the casual player would be forgiven for thinking that the Emperor's Children have some of the worst Legion special rules out of all of the Legions. Although I'm somewhat sympathetic to the accusation that the rules don't fully describe the background associated with the Emperor's Children, I think the knee jerk reaction is not quite right on closer inspection.

Firstly, they gain the Crusader rule. This is good for making runs, but is absolutely amazing in combat resolution. Having their enemies flee before them and cutting them down as they run is great in 30k and can really ensure they gain the upper hand through melee. Particularly if they have a high initiative (or other means of improving the outcome of a close combat, e.g., Phoenix Guard!). Considering that they also have access to sonic shriekers (bonus initiative), this is a huge thing! Doubly so since the 30k space marines lack "And They Shall Know No Fear".

Martial Pride is okay and characterful. Just make sure they don't fail challenges and I think you'll be fine. Except against units that have heaps of attacks (be wary of World Eaters and Sons of Horus for instance).

Finally, they can also have access to Sonic Shriekers. These are the early modifications that the Children enacted before their full fall. The bonus initiative resonates tremendously with the Crusader rule and should be purchased for Emperor's Children characters that are going to be going in to melee with other enemy units.

This makes the Emperor's Children a great close combat army to consider. But they're nowhere near as obsessed with melee as the World Eaters are. Mixed arms and armour will do amazing things for this legion.

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