Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Little Winter Break

Dear Readers,

Its the mid-year Winter break for me. The downside of this is that I probably won't be responding to comments or posting new materials for about a month to 1.5 months. Rest assured that normal service will resume in late July/2009. In the meantime, the Warpstone Flux archive can be accessed through the links on the right - particularly the "vault" sections and the recently added search capability.

Before I go away, I wanted to thank my readers (especially those of you who keep on coming back!) for all your input. The FtW community is awesome!

To be clear: I'm not leaving blogging; its simply that real life demands mean that I have to take a break, much like my previous 1 month long Summer break.

Cheers, Kev (jabberjabber).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Painting of a Melta Gun Plague Marine

A little while ago, I assembled a Death Guard plague marine using forge world parts with a converted left-handed melta gun. Today, the final painted result!

I'm pleased with the outcome here - it certainly communicates the rusted and decaying feeling of the Death Guard forces that I'm wanting to characterize (i.e. over the grossness and icky factor). Following a black undercoat, the figure was basecoated in a light brown colour and inked with chestnut tones. I then drybrushed with a (dirty) combination of greens, creams, browns and a hint of yellow (all at random, without washing my old brush inbetween different colours and non-sequentially!).

The drybrushing done, I went on to highlight the armour rims with bleached bone and painted the weaponry in red (with orange highlights). I'm pleased with the outcome of the melta gun - noticeably more black looking near the "nozzle" indicating recent usage. Further highlights included attention to the pipework, odd metallic bits and the pitted parts of the chest armour.

Don't gasp - but this miniature is also based! The small metal bits are off-clippings of plastic sprues and the cap of a glue tube painted up. The base is covered in fine black lode stone and some static grass has been added. I might drybrush the stones a bit more yet.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Points Evaluation of Kharn the Betrayer

Is Kharn worth while taking? Can a chaos marine lord of Khorne do any better? How do they compare?

Kharn is one of those characters that doesn't seem to see too much tabletop play these days. Without the 4th edition "assault consolidation in to other units", and a lack of full-blooded Khorne bloodletters, the World Eaters and Kharn are not the army that they once were. But let's have a look at how Kharn stacks up against other chaos lord builds anyway, in a similar way that I did a while ago with Typhus.

Points Comparison to a Chaos Lord.
The basic Chaos Lord comes in at a low 90 points cost. Kharn has a few things in the statistics department beyond a normal Chaos Lord: +1WS, +1S, +2A.

Firstly, let's give the Lord the Mark of Khorne (+1A) for 10 points. And because this is just an exercise in comparisons, let's give it to him again - 2 marks of Khorne for 20 points, for +2A (yes - it's illegitimate, but that's not the point). From the old codex, +1S cost 10 points as well. The increase in WS is a little harder to articulate a points value for, but let's just say its also 10 points.
Hence, our imaginary chaos lord costs 130 points to get the same statistics as Kharn.

We also need to make the Lord have the Khorne berzerker special rules (furious charge and so forth). I'm going to assume that this might be rolled in to the double mark of Khorne (indeed, it cost less in the old codex where the mark of Khorne came with the bezerker rules). Otherwise, it might cost say ...5 extra points? Kharn also needs an invulnerable save. This is a little bit like getting a mark of Tzeentch, so we'll add on 15 points. That brings the total to 145 points.

Now let's have a look at some wargear. Our chaos lord will need a plasma pistol (15 points), gorechild (probably in the region of 20+ points) and the blessings of Khorne (about 5 points). That takes us up to about 185+ points.

The only remaining question is how does "the betrayer" special rule alter this? I suspect that it is considered a disadvantage that could lower the points cost. If we say it lowers it by about 15 or 20 points, then we get back to Kharn's actual cost.

Hence, Kharn is probably about points-value / worth neutral versus a (illegitimately constructed) chaos lord equivalent. Compare that to Typhus who is a clear bargain!

However, Kharn still has a great place in a number of close combat orientated builds and World Eater armies. He can really dish out some hurt, but the player must be careful to separate him from his attached squad prior to combat to avoid the worst side of his betraying nature.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where does Chaos Marine Equipment Come From?

A little while ago, Alvin asked on Glued My Fingers where readers thought that Chaos Space Marine equipment might come from.

I thought I'd briefly follow that question up with a number of possible alternatives. Here's my (highly) non-exhaustive list.

(1) It's original. Some marines in the traitor legions still wear the same old power armour that they were issued with during (or prior to) the Horus Heresy.

(1b) It has been warped -- related to the above - some marine armour has been warped in the Eye of Terror (or similar locales), resulting in a bizarre appearance. Or, maybe the chaos powers have "materialized" some armour for a chaos sorcerer.

(2) Forged. The power armour has been forged somewhere - perhaps a forge world that a traitor legion has captured; perhaps by Iron Warrior legion artificers using raw materials (etc.).

(3) Stolen. Whether through raids or otherwise, the armour (or raw materials) has fallen in to traitor hands.

(4) Reclaimed / Recycled / Piecemeal. When Borther Gavatus fell, Brother Bubonicus couldn't let the only intact shoulder pad go to waste.

(5) Summoned / Magic! Slightly related to warped (above), some parts of the marines armour might be the result of the dark gods ... I'm thinking here specifically of Lucius' shrieking armour. (Also: remember those tables in the Realms of Chaos books for gifts of the gods?).

Anything else, anyone?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Random Musings

A few weeks ago, I entered a small (one day) tournament at a local gaming store. I took my Death Guard force with a couple of modifications - a second daemon prince of Nurgle with doombolt in place of the dreadnought; making all 3 plague marine squads identical (1 melta, 1 flamer, champ with power fist, rhino plus havoc launcher); and ditching the havoc launcher on the predator.

My opponents were necrons, marines and eldar. The missions were non-standard however. In addition to primary objectives (typically the same as the standard missions - i.e. killpoints and capturing objectives) there were also secondary objective (e.g. kill the opposing HQ worth the most points; get your HQ next to an objective, etc.). Whilst I got every primary, I lost out on many of the secondary objectives since I wasn't really ready for those surprises!! (That and my opponents were really good!) I might have to have a think about how to alter my list if I take part in such non-standard missions again. At least the upshot of the tournament is that I know my Death Guard build and tactics are effective for standard tournament level games!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Plague Marine Challenge Result

Thanks for all your entries and thoughts about the plague marine challenge from the start of the month - some very inventive entries there! I was particularly impressed by the imperial guard entries (Straken and plasma vets) - I've not read the new codex in that amount of depth yet, so was really interested to see that combination in action.

However, I think that the winner has to be erfunk with his triple flamer of Tzeentch entry! At 105 points, erfunk uses breath of chaos to fry the plague marines away in two rounds (almost one round in fact!). It has some poetic justice to it as well - who better than Tzeentch to see off Nurgle?

Its also made me think further about the devastating power of Breath of Chaos. Perhaps that is something that I should be taking on my daemon prince(s) when I know I'll be facing a mirror match. At any rate, I'm all excited about flamers of Tzeentch in daemon armies once again!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mighty Empires Painting: Mountains

With Planetary Empires on the horizon, I thought I'd post a little article on Mighty Empires - the fantasy equivalent. Mighty Empires comes with 48 distinct tiles, many of which are reversible (i.e. they have something different on both sides). The only tile that doesn't have a flip side are the mountains - simply because they understandably stick out over the top of the connector boarders more than any other piece.Mighty Empires has been sat around for quite some time in my collection (edit: I even remember the first edition of this accessory!) - it doubles up as a unique board for games of "Risk"! Here, I've pictured the set of mountains that it was supplied with.

I've undercoated these tiles in black and then proceeded to drybrush the mountains steadily whiter in colour tones. Some of the peaks of the mountains are almost in pure skull white. Meanwhile for the valleys, I've experimented with a number of different shades of green and inking plus drybrushing techniques. If you look closely, you'll see that the greens connect up with the mountains very well with some tiles, but on others, there's more of a pronounced gap in the foliage covering. I'll post some other tiles that I've painted up at later dates. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they can connect up with the more urban feeling that I'm sure Planetary Empires will have.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Death Guard Biker

A recently assembled Death Guard Biker ... perhaps a HQ choice, perhaps a fast attack one, I'm not sure. I simply wanted to assemble a biker using some of my Forge World parts.His weapon is converted from the chaos space marine terminator lord's force weapon, with a chaos marine power sword tip. The centre of the "pike" was created from a paper clip with necklace / florist's wire wound around to create a "grip".

Must find some time to get this one painted up... I seem to have spent a lot of time recently simply assembling models and not having chance to paint them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drybrushed and Highlighted Plaguebearer

This is a plaguebearer that I feel I've spent a whole lot of time on over the past couple of weeks, on and off.

Once more, I decided to stray from the usual sickly green colour scheme and go for something altogether darker and broodier. This is the result, and I'm broadly very pleased with it.

The painting was done in a few main stages. After the undercoat (in black) and undercoat (brown with black ink), I progressively drybrushed this plaguebearer lighter and lighter. But when I say lighter and lighter, the first few coats were only a little above black in terms of their hue. Along the way, I "contaminated" my paint brush (with intent!) with some yellows, browns and greens ad lib. This is a technique that I think I'll adopt for some plague marines as well - it seems to have worked out very well.

Once content with the drybrushing, I turned to the open sores and wounds. I basecoated these in pink and subsequently washed (inked) them red. Using a combination of reds, pinks and oranges, I steadily lightened the colour back up again to give a glistening, yet necrotic, feel to the wounds.

In other details, I highlighted around the wounds with a light grey colour to help them stand out and make the surrounding skin appear more like it is flaking away (yuck!) and highlighted the arm that turns in to a tentacle. The plaguesword follows my strange blue colour scheme (indeed, the unnatural blue plagueswords are a unifying aspect of my plaguebearers). The wrist bangle was painted in gold, inked darker and highlighted to give a worn look. The horn was highlighted in off-white and the eyeball dotted with a steady hand.

All in all, a solid addition to the growing plaguebearer band!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Daemon Prince Distraction

To some greater or lesser extent, every codex has a monstrous creature or unit combo that screams "Deal with me or suffer!", ranging from Ork Nob Bikers, and Assault Terminators, through to C'Tan (etc.). In Chaos Space Marine Armies, Daemon Princes do that screaming role very well. Having played a number of games where the daemon prince in my Death Guard army has been used for this distracting purpose alone, I wanted to share a few thoughts on it.

Daemon Prince Build.
One of my regular Death Guard army lists can be found here. In that list, I've built my Daemon Prince of Nurgle with wings and Nurgle's Rot for a grand total of 165 points. This is my default build when I don't know what opponent or army I'll be facing off against. Sometimes, I favour switching Nurgle's Rot for either Doombolt (making the total = 160 points) or Warp Time (for a total of 175 points). Occasionally, wind of chaos.

I tend to use Doombolt against armies that have a good number of high armour save troops that are out in the open (e.g. Space Marines on foot) and Warp Time when he needs to go toe-to-toe with other "Deal with me or suffer" units (e.g. Lysander!).

The Plan.
Almost regardless of the build, I now like to try to play the daemon prince slightly dangerously: I like to deep-strike him in to the heart of my enemy (or, at the very least, near the outskirts of a large number of them that have "castled up" in a corner). This is not always an option - sometimes I just need the daemon prince as a support unit to come and help out some bogged down plague marines. But when I have the initiative and he's in reserve, then taking a risk is not so bad. Even if a dangerous terrain test is needed, it generally doesn't bother me too much. Only the "mishap table" can be problematic for the plan!

If the daemon prince has a suitable shooting attack, then I start to pick off a likely looking target -- not necessarily the toughest looking target though. All I want to do is frighten, scare and draw attention to the daemon prince, thereby building a feeling of "this thing can slaughter lots of stuff easily!". I tend to look toward space marines in the open (in the case of doombolt), or just activating Nurgle's Rot near a whole bunch of tyranid gaunts. Sadly, warptime (along with Gift of Chaos) doesn't help with this part of the plan. Conceivably, Wind of Chaos would work very well (as well as Tzeentch's Bolt of Change).

What's the upshot of this? Well, the daemon prince gets noticed. It gets prioritized as a target. Everything (especially with more inexperienced players) nearby decides to target the daemon prince. That's the point. It's going to be a sacrificial and expendable unit. It takes firepower away from other real threats in my army such as the vindicators, thereby allowing everything in my army an extra turn to move forward or otherwise maneuver in to a superior position. (The younger opponents I sometimes play also get a real kick out of killing my HQ!)

With an extra point of toughness (T=6), the Nurgle Daemon Prince stands a good chance of surviving against small arms fire. Rapid firing plasma guns, meltas and twin-linked las cannons are not so much fun for him though. But that's all good. Other-aligned daemon princes are not as survivable for obvious reasons.

If he survives, I then use him in my next turn to activate the shooting psychic ability again before charging at a tank or some unluky unit that is still out in the open. If he's already dead, then he's done his job.

In the turn that the daemon prince has bought me, my threats are already looming very large and I've (hopefully) managed to put a severe dint in the opposition. In short then, I often feel that this tactic can purchase me 1 game turn. That might be all that is required (late game) to contest or take objectives, or keep multiple other kill-points alive.

Daemons Armies.
Of course, this action can also be pulled in a codex: daemons army list. But here, you don't even need the wings (given that everything will deep-strike in regardless)! In my builds where I use three daemon princes, I regularly use one or more of them as "distractions" whilst the other two get in to position for an alpha strike.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June: Plague Marine Challenge

This month's army list challenge is a little different. It is geared toward fulfilling a goal: namely facing off against Plague Marines! Can you build a low points value list to defeat them? Can other Death Guard players (including myself) learn something about what plague marines should fear?

Here's the concept:
Your commanding officer / big boss / greater daemon / farseer (delete as appropriate or insert your own) has tasked you with a suicidal mission. You are to engage and destroy a unit of 7 plague marines that have captured a technological relic on a long-abandoned forge world.

Things you might need to know:
Plague Marines are exactly the same as normal chaos marines (frag & krak grenades, bolters, bolt pistols and chainswords) except that they have the feel no pain special rule, toughness of 4(5) (meaning their toughness is 5, but can suffer instant death as if their toughness is 4), initiative=3, and you get no extra attack from charging them due to their general stinkiness (or blight grenades as they're known).

Mission Briefing:
There are 7 plague marines to kill. One of them is a plague champion (i.e. has an extra attack) wielding a power fist. Two of them have melta guns instead of bolters. They are inside ruins (cover save = 4+). Their in game points value is 221 points.

On the other hand, you have as many or as few points to spend as you like, as follows:
(1) You may choose any codex.
(2) This is not a standard mission. You are only permitted to choose up to 2 different units, but must abide by the minimum number of models regulations. (e.g. chaos space marines must have at least 5 models in a unit; you cannot field two unique models ... e.g. having 2 Abaddons; etc.).

The scenario lasts for 3 turns. The turn sequence of events works like this:
(1) Your team enters play within 12 inches of the plague marines and may shoot at the plague marines as if they have already moved (no charging in to close combat however). If you're shooting ranged blasts or templates, then you may only cover half of them (i.e. 4 at maximum) if your shot is on target.
(2) The remainder of the plague marines rapid fire your team (no cover saves!) with their bolters (they're not within charging range) and their melta guns (if still alive). If you're fielding two units, then they choose to shoot at the unit that would inflict the most harm on them (they might belong to Nurgle, but their minds are still intelligent and sharp).
(3) On your team's second turn (and the third and last turn of this scenario), you may proceed as normal: you may shoot a second time and/or charge in to close combat.

How many plague marines can you statistically kill by the end of these 3 turns? (feel free to round up or down to make the maths easier).

The winner will be the entry that kills the most plague marines (by statistical average) for the least amount of points spent. As such, it is a bit mathematical and is meant to make you think about math-hammer considerations. Cheesy and beardy lists welcome! But extra kudos to those of you who steer away from such routes.
Entries welcome for up to one week! (i.e. 7/June/2009). Winner will be announced on 8/June/2009.

Here's an example. I take a squad of 20 chaos space marines (cost =300). They enter play within 12 inches of the plague marines and shoot (i.e. rapid fire their bolteres) 40 times. They score 26 hits (on average and rounded down to the nearest whole number). They wound 8 plague marines (again, rounded down to the nearest whole number). One plague marine will die (rounded down).

The plague marines shoot back with rapid fire bolters (i.e. 10 rounds) and 2 meltas. On average, the 10 bolt rounds will take down 1 marine and the meltas take down a second (rounded up).

On turn 3, my marines rapid fire the plague marines for 18x2 bolter rounds. That yields 24 hits. Of which, 8 wound. And the plague marines suffer a second casualty on average.

Hence, its cost me 300 points to kill two plague marines. I'm not going to win my own contest, am I?
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