Friday, November 30, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Excess

Late in 5th edition, there were a number of players who espoused the view that feel no pain had become too wide-spread in many armies.  To me, feel no pain means just that.  The narrative reason behind this had been one of two things: either the human(oid) body in question really wasn't wired for pain, whether due to degenerate disease (Nurgle!) or something similar; or the creature had taken certain chemical concoctions / drugs / psychic weirdness to bypass their pain receptors (Dark Eldar!).  And then necrons were just robots, but they have other rules.  But we'll ignore that!

So, upon reading the new chaos codex, it was a surprise and a narrative fit that I saw the Icon of Excess.  For the Slaaneshi devotees, they now have the option to also feel no pain.  The narrative reason falls under the second concept from above: a bit too much inhalation of "cloying musk" that drives them to seek fresh sensations regardless of the current state of their being.

The price is reasonably high for most units though.  I therefore think that we wouldn't want to be paying more than about 5 pts per marine for this icon for it to be truly effective.  Hence a slightly larger squad than minimal seems ideal for taking this icon, at least 6 (for fluffy reasons) and certainly a full squad of 10.

Additionally, I think the icon should certainly be deployed for front line marines (melee).  But for rear line marines, I have mixed feelings.  I can see how it would be of benefit for sonic weapon squads, or havoc squads, to grant them a little added durability and protection from incoming ballistics.  But the price kind of puts me off.  So I'll be sticking with front line units to use this icon with.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wargames Gallery: LotR Scenery: Amon Sul Ruined Watchtower at Weathertop

Following the announcement today that Forge World will be re-releasing their resin ruined watchtower of Amon Sul, I thought I'd share this image of the same LoTR terrain that I snapped a little while ago whilst touring some other GWs.  This one was painted up for a small conflict style tournament and I really like the atmospheric look it has.  Whilst I'd love to own one, the price tag of UKP220 is a little much for my tastes.  But I can see the serious collector or wargames organizer wanting one!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Despair

The icon for Nurgle marked units is the Icon of Despair.  As well as adding 1 to the combat result, the Icon of Despair confers the fear rule to the unit.  Naturally, fearless units don't care.  And They Shall Know No Fear units also don't care.  Yet, the ability to cause fear (reducing opponent's to WS=1 on an unsuccessful Ld check) can be neat.  But, the meta-game features a strong amount of fearless and space marine armies.  The latter in particular make the fear rule one that is very easy to forget.  I've played against eldar, tau and others under 6th edition and not once yet remembered to force a fear check.  Why? Because the majority of my opponents are space marines.  I fear, fear, that I will not remember you. I also fear that fear is not terribly fearful.

Therefore the only reason to take the Icon of Despair is the benefit to combat outcome.  If equipped on tar-pitting units, this is pretty good (see my tactica about plaguebearers and instruments).  So, perhaps I could entertain an Icon of Despair on plague marine squads once in a while.  But, they have more attacks than plaguebearers.  So the case for an Icon of Despair even on plague marines is poor.  Given that the points cost is double the cost of a chaos daemons instrument, my answer becomes a firm no.  Forget the Icon of Despair.  Its a waste of points in my opinion and I won't be taking them.

(Aside: Pity they don't double up as homing icons, otherwise they'd be worthwhile! -- I feel the codex writers and playtesters really dropped the ball on this one -- homing icons have been with chaos for several editions and I'm still shocked at their absence).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CSM Options: Daemonic Steeds

Having gone through all of the units in the Review of CSM in 6th, I now want to turn to a few of the options available to them.  The first one: daemonic steeds.

My only negative comment is that there isn't an "undivided" option. I'm pretty disappointed about this - I really rather liked the concept of daemonic horsemen lords!  Indeed, the general lack of "obvious" undivided chaos in the new codex is an all-round downer.  I guess that the "undivided" mark is now the lack of a different mark, rather than something specific as it used to be.

Those chaos lords with the mark of a specific chaos god have access to the Juggernaut of Khorne, the Disc of Tzeentch, the Palanquin of Nurgle or Steed of Slaanesh.

The Juggernaut gives +1 T, W, A and grants the cavalry rule to the chaos lord.  For the points cost, the extra wound and point of toughness goes a long way.  And of course, the extra attack is positively Khorne-orientated.  I'm impressed by the cavalry rule as well, especially considering that the bloodcrushers of the daemons codex are infantry.  One potential chaos lord build to take advantage of the steed is the following:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Khorne, Juggernaut of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Sigil of Corruption, Veterans of the Long War (175 points).

The Disc of Tzeentch gives the sorcerer or lord a jetbike and an extra attack. I'm unconvinced that the points are quite worth it over a chaos bike, but I can certainly see how a unique build could be made out of it (see: Chaos Sorcerer for examples).  But a reasonably plain disc-riding Tzeentch Sorcerer seems about optimal for the points.  Consider this one:
Chaos Sorcerer, Level 3 Psyker, Mark of Tzeentch, Disc of Tzeentch, Sigil of Corruption (180 points).

The Palanquin of Nurgle grants a remarkable extra 2 wounds, 1 more attack, and the model becomes very bulky.  That's not a bad exchange rate, but it is pricey for low points cost games.  And what do we need 2 extra wounds for?  Sticking around, obviously.  If only I could outflank or deepstrike the lord on the palanquin, I'd be happy.  But hey.  Perhaps stick him in a large blob of cultists, behind an Aegis Defence Line, and hang tight on an objective!  Example:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, Ichor Blood (150 points).

The Steed of Slaanesh should be swift, but it only adds 3'' to run moves and only 1 extra attack.  Nonetheless, it is cavalry, and gets the acute senses and outflank rule (horrah!).  How do we take advantage of these?  Well, the build has to be something swift, targeted (pick the target and charge!), deadly and works well with outflank.  Something like this:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Slaanesh, Steed of Slaanesh, plasma pistol, the Murder Sword, Sigil of Corruption, Veterans of the Long War (180 points).   

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Predator

The final entry in the codex proper (I may review some further units from Forge World later) is the chaos predator.  Much like the Imperial version, it can be constructed with autocannon or twin-linked las-cannon as the primary turret weapon, with the usual sponson options.  In addition, it also gets access to the chaos vehicle equipment list for extra load-outs.

The predator needs a role realistically.  The triple-lascannon set-up (the annihilator) will be popular to take down opposing vehicles and monsters, whereas the autocannon (the destructor) and heavy bolter option is much better suited to anti-horde duty.  The cross-over variants are rarer. I regard only the lascannon sponson one as viable since the other variant tries to do two jobs at once and never gets much bang for its buck; whilst I've not seen the mono-turret version played anywhere in a long long while.  Still, the points cost is very comparable to havocs.  i.e. if you want 3 lascannons amongst those havocs, you're paying about the same points cost as for the predator.  So you've got to make the choice: is a vehicle better than infantry?  Maybe and maybe not, depending on circumstance, set-up and opponents.

Here's a few potential builds that are worth consideration.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons (95 points)
Cheap and great at pumping out plenty of shots every turn.  The classic "dakka pred" is still a cheap cost option to threaten squads of infantry and hordes, whilst having a reasonable reach and also able to threaten light transport style tanks.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons, Havoc Launcher, Warpflame Gargoyles (112 points)
Something that the Imperials still can't do: add a havoc launcher.  A twin-linked S5 small blast with a 48" range is awesome.  Especially when equipped on every tank you run!  Coupled with the new warpflame gargoyles option, this enhanced dakka pred is one of my favourite builds to take down large gaunt units when you need to, and also put enough hits on marines and terminators to take a few down.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Lascannon sponsons (115 points)
This is the one to take down monstrous creatures and provides anti-tank capability to boot.  It also has a reasonable price tag.

Chaos Predator, Twin-Linked Lascannon, Lascannon sponsons (140 points)
The tank-buster.  And can put hurt on greater daemons, big tyranids and other monsters to boot.  It can even take on flyers with a reasonable probability.  But I personally don't play this variant.  I prefer alternate ways of taking down tanks, so please take this entry as a suggestion for apocalypse only.

Chaos Predator, Twin-Linked Lascannon, Combi-Melta, Dozer Blade, Extra Armour, Destroyer Blades (140 points)
Strange.  Yes.  Here's the idea.  Its a tank hunter that once its done its job goes for a tank shock with the destroyer blades.  Okay - don't take this one too seriously: its too expensive to be perfectly honest.  Perhaps take a rhino with a combi-melta and destroyer blades if you're semi-interested instead.  I simply include it as a concept.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Not The Doom Of Mymeara

Despite some scatter upon arrival, the Soul Grinder had 2 good turns against the craft world Eldar, before the fire dragons sent the daemon machine construct back to the dark forges from whence it came!

Friday, November 23, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Vindicator

The vindicator just got slightly better in my opinion. Firstly, the basic chassis costs less than the previous codex and secondly, it gets access to a true siege shield for the first time - as an option! Combine that with access to the regular chaos vehicle equipment list and you have a very nice customizable tank for a reasonable points cost. I think this one is competitive for the heavy support slot ... depending on the type of army we're wanting to field of course. I can't see too many Iron Warriors players passing up the opportunity to field one of these! (but then again, Iron Warriors have soooo many vehicles to select from these days that the newer miniatures must be appealing!).

The reason I'm quite excited by the vindicator and its access to the armoury is that we now have an upgradable vehicle that won't be saying bye-bye to its demolisher cannon on every weapon destroyed roll.  Grab an extra weapon to lower the chances.  Take daemonic possession.  Extra armour.  Its all good.  Roll forward with your S10 cannon and shoot away!  This is the only S10 ranged weapon available to chaos players, so enjoy it!  Let's look at a few builds that may appeal.

Chaos Vindicator, daemonic possession, siege shield (145 points)
This costs the same as the old codex, but replaces the dozer blade with a true siege shield.  BS3 is a small price to pay for a 2+ ignore shaken and stunned.  Add on a cheap second weapon to taste and you've got a winner.  This should/would be the basic set-up for most "standard" chaos vindicators.

Chaos Vindicator, siege shield, destroyer blades, warpflame gargoyles, combi-bolter (155 points)
Move forward.  Shoot.  If still alive repeat until the vehicle gets even closer.  Then ram a unit off an objective, remembering the destroyer blades as you go.  The warpflame gargoyles are there for any amazing unit that manages to survive a S10 AP2 blast (terminators!).

Chaos Vindicator, siege shield, daemonic possession, destroyer blades, warpflame gargoyles, combi-melta, combi-bolter, extra armour (190 points)
This one has the lot!  And you're paying dearly for it.  So this is just a points sink and not to be used outside apocalypse!  Or ever!  Still, I'm entertained by the possibilities here!  (and yes: you *can* take both the combi-bolter and combi-melta on a single vehicle).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Land Raider

Its AV=14 all round.  It transports everything (even chaos spawn) and they can assault the turn they disembark.  It has a twin linked heavy bolter and two twin linked las cannons.  It can be heavy support or a dedicated transport for chaos terminators.  Its a land raider! 

The points cost got 10 points more expensive than the last edition, but its still cheaper than the Imperial standard land raider.  And with justification too: it lacks the power of the machine spirit.  Even a corrupted machine spirit, sadly. But hey, the two twin-linked lascannons are sufficient to overwatch regularly: they even pose a threat to flyers if we do the maths.

That said, the land raider also gains access to the chaos vehicle upgrades.  So lets take a look at a few potential builds.

Land Raider, dirge caster, dozer blade, combimelta (250 points)
I think this will be a variant that will see a lot of play.  The dirge caster is there to help when the contents of the land raider get out of the assault ramp and charge.  The dozer blade is there to help with terrain.  The combimelta has two functions: threat, and to also lessen the chance of one of the twin-linked lascannons getting blown off.

Land Raider, Extra Armour, Daemonic Possession, Destroyer Blades, Combi Plasma (280 points)
The survivor.  Roll forward with impunity.  Tank shock enemies off objectives and destroy them with the aptly named destroyer blades.  Use the combi-plasma once, and then hope it gets destroyed instead of a twin-linked lascannon.  You could even risk having troops transported inside this one (assuming the possessing daemon isn't hungry for a mid-morning snack?).  These troops will then disembark to claim the objective off the unit that the destroyer blades hit.

Land Raider (230 points).
Make your imperial cousins jealous with the low points cost.  But don't tell them anything else about how it compares to their codex!!! (they'll laugh).  But seriously, this beast is still a land raider with AV=14.  Its a threat whatever way you look at it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Maulerfiend

The maulerfiend is the second new entry in the Heavy Support category of the new chaos codex and retail-wise comes bundled with the forgefiend as a possible alternate build.

When I first read the rules to this one, I was confused.  The main reason for my confusion is that I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this guy.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I figure I'm meant to throw it at fortifications - that's what the +1 armour penetration against buildings (siegecrawler) does for us.  But what fortifications?  Am I seriously going to buy this option to counter an imperial bastion?  Nope.  That's what I've got melta guns, power fists, and a slew of other devices and chaos daemon allies besides for.  So, I'm guessing that there is going to be some new fortifications released during 6th edition that these guys are going to be the answer to.  Perhaps I should be buying three of these?  Nah. 

But let's take a closer look.  The maulerfiend is a walker with two power fists and 2 attacks.  That will result in 4 attacks on the charge.  That's not really all that powerful since a pair of terminators can manage that. Heck, even the dreadnought ... ahem ... helbrute can copy that manoeuvre.  The twist is the magma cutters.  If the maulerfiend scores a hit, then the magma cutters make an additional S8, AP1, armourbane attack as well.  Bye bye defences in all likelihood.  And certainly capable of taking tanks out in a single charge short of a land raider. 

Siegecrawler means that the maulerfiend is always moving 12" in the movement phase and fleet plus move through cover make the threat range even greater.  As with the forgefiend, it gets daemonic possession, daemon and "IT WILL NOT DIE" special rules to make it stick around longer.  Additionally, this guy gets the daemonforge special rule which means it can re-roll penetrate / to wound rolls once per game.  Use at the first opportunity I say!  (unless you really hate the imperial bastion over there as much as Angron might).

The only option is to replace the magma cutters with lasher tendrils (125 points vs 135 points, respectively).  These tendrils will reduce the attacks of those in base to base contact with the maulerfiend by 1 for each set.  To a minimum of 1.  This can be potent against high volume attack infantry (orks on bikes, terminators and the like), but ultimately isn't going to be stopping a thunder hammer from striking it.  Might as well keep the magma cutters for the potential extra attacks in my opinion and not bother with the lasher tendrils.  Instead, rely on the maulerfiends inbuilt toughness to see off any incoming attacks.  So, for me, I'd be taking the 125 points set up with the magma cutters and charge forwards. 

But then again, I'd be thinking about alternatives to the maulerfiend in the first place unless some new codexes and campaign expansions include terrifying fortifications.

Monday, November 19, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Forgefiend

And finally we get to the Forgefiend - a new entry in the codex and a new appealing model on the tabletop to assemble and paint.

To me, the forgefiend is a long range support option. It can take either a pair of Hades Autocannons, or a pair of ectoplasma cannons.  Each of these configurations can be backed up by a separate ectoplasma cannon.  Although the name "ectoplasma cannon" doesn't do much for me (other than to cause a little giggle), these weapons are powerful and can be stunning (literally) with a bit of luck and the right lines of sight.  With heavy 4, the Hades Autocannons will be averaging 4 hits per turn at S=8.  Even without skyfire, that's a threat to most things on the board.  The ectoplasma cannons on the other hand are more close range (24"), but equally strong (S=8), but in a blast form with AP2.  This spells doom for terminators and the like, whilst simultaneously being a threat to many transports (etc.). 

The forgefiend is a daemon, which gives it a 5+ invulnerable save, daemonic possession (ignore shaken / stunned on 2+) and coupled with "It Will Not Die" USR, this beastie will be hanging around a while with a bit of luck.  It also gets fleet (but you're going to be shooting with it, not running), and daemonforge special rule which allows re-rolls to wound and armour penetration for one turn.  Might as well activate this on your first turn, I contend. 

Two attacks in close combat at S=6 isn't brilliant, but it'll do in a pinch.  The forgefiend is a walker afterall and might be able to tarpit a unit late on in the game.

There are 4 possible configurations (at least, the way I read the options).

(i) Two Hades Autocannons (175 points).
8 shots, averaging 4 hits per turn.  This is pretty neat!

(ii) Two Ectoplasma Cannons (175 points).
Two small blast templates that are going to tear down terminators (with a bit of luck) and be a threat to minor vehicles.

(iii) Three Ectoplasna Cannons (200 points).
Like (ii), but blastier for when you need to get the job done.

(iv) Two Hades Autocannons and one Ectoplasma Cannon (200 points).
A mixed bag.  The range of the two weapons don't match, which is an issue.  But I think you'd be using all three from turn 2+.  I suspect options (i), (ii) or (iii) are superior though.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crusade of Fire

Two surprises today: firstly the release for pre-order of the new warhammer 40k sourcebook: Crusade of Fire.  The second: no prelude rumours!  

There's plenty of people who are super excited by this source book.  But there's a little twist.  The descriptor says that the sourcebook contains additional, expanded rules for flyers in 40k.  This poses a potential issue: will these rules be "core" rules from now on in tournaments (etc.)?  Given the limited stocks of the product, I can see it selling out fast.  So, what for folks who don't manage to get their paws on to this release?  Perhaps a soft-back book later on?  

Turning to the actual content that was released.  Aside from the images of the miniatures and artwork, the background story features a clash of chaos, imperials and dark eldar.  On the one page that is dedicated to new rules, we see a new system for fighting on daemon infested worlds.  These involve tokens.  Before the game begins, each unit takes a Ld test on 3d6.  They get tokens for each point of failure.  These tokens are a double-edged sword: they grant a unit a bonus on the grounds that they've been (partially) possessed; but there's a downside: when removed, bad stuff happens.  

In the case of Khorne, for instance, the unit gains the rage special rule. But at the end of any assault phase, the opponent may remove any number of counters.  The unit then takes d3 automatic hits as if the unit attacked itself (using its most common weapon).  Analogues are presented for the other 3 major powers.

The other set of rules are what I would think of as "environmental" rules -- in the sense that they present daemon world hazards and their effects on models within the battlefield.  They're random and a bit like the "volcano explodes!" innovations of homebrew rules at worst, but very interesting, flavourful and pro-narrative campaigning at their best.

Looking forward to reading this one in more detail when it comes out. Hope that there's going to be some copies left!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Defiler

Since Abaddon commanded its construction from the dark forges, the defiler has been a mainstay of the chaos space marine force.  But for 6th edition, I can see fewer and fewer defilers being fielded.  One of the biggest changes in the new codex is the increase in points.  Upgrades being extra takes the total for a single defiler to over 200 points.  Considering the price of other heavy support options, this is a lot of points. But let's look closer before being too judgemental.

Clearly the defiler has a metric ton of weaponry.  Battle cannon, reaper autocannon, heavy flamer (twin linked), power fists all add up to a heck of an arsenal, especially combined with the daemonforge rule.  Here's the first issue though: if you want to fire the battle cannon -- and to be fair, I would want to -- then you're taking snap shots with the rest of the gear.  Darn!  So, we have to decide whether we want this beast to be a long-range pseudo-obliterator, or a close combat specialist.  I'm already thinking there's better options for *both* roles for the points cost.

Digging further, the defensive capabilities of the defiler is strong.  Its a daemons, meaning a 5+ save, it has AV12 on the front (not quite soul grinder standard), but it does have 4 hull points.  Coupled with "It Will Not Die" special rule means that it should hang around a fair while to do both battlefield roles (shooty and choppy).  On the flip-side BS and WS=3 isn't great.  Especially with only 3 close combat attacks.  Fleet, Smoke Launchers and Searchlights round out the generic equipment for the defiler, but don't add too much for the cost.

The defiler can also access the chaos armoury for vehicles.  Obvious upgrades that one could consider are the warpflame gargoyles (for soul blaze), extra armour, and a dirge caster (prevent overwatch when charging).

Here's a couple of potential configurations to toy about with.

Defiler, warpflame gargoyles, havoc launcher (replacing twin linked heavy flamer) (205 points)
Stand back and shoot.  Repeat.  If approached, charge.  Simple.

Defiler, power scourge (replacing twin linked heavy flamer), twin linked heavy bolter (replacing the reaper autocannon), dirge caster, extra armour (235 points)
A close combat variant.  Shoot on the way to melee, and engage.  Exchange the reaper for another power fist perhaps, to taste.  But really for the points, why aren't you going for a daemon prince instead?  Or land raider?  Its hard to justify this expenditure.

Defiler.  No upgrades.
Simple, but still pricey.

Overall, I think the defiler has priced itself out of the heavy support slot now - its an all rounder that's got expensive.  The cynical amongst you may see this as a way to get players buying forgefiends and maulerfiends... but they're a review topic for a different day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Daemons' Run

The remains of the daemons of Dark Maw Rift run forward to clash with the Space Marines of the Angels of Bitterness chapter in brutal melee.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Obliterator

Obliterators have long been held by chaos player to be excellent choices for a heavy support option. This is not without reason and those reasons persist in the new codex, but there's also a few caveats to think about as well now.

Their strengths are obvious: the ability to manifest whatever energy based weapon (twin-linked variety at short range as well) is awesome.  In the new codex, they get the assault cannon added to their list of weapons.  This is yet another excellent outcome for chaos!  (on the flip side, in days of yore, they used to also have access to heavy bolters and frag missiles ... but the access to the plama cannon makes up for this I think!).  On the downside, they now must "rotate" which weapon they choose: we cannot select the same weapon twice in two consecutive shooting phases.  But there are always going to be plentiful targets, so this rule is not a bother!  Additionally, all the obliterators in a unit must fire the same weapon - not such a biggie, but worth mentioning.

They have the daemon rule (so thier 5+ invulnerable save stays intact), they're bulky (which means that they could be transported in a land raider should you want to) and they can deepstrike potentially (useful on occasion). The powerfist means that their close combat effectiveness is also reasonable, but with the caveat that they'll be striking at I=1.  Slow and purposeful is there as well, but that's not a biggie either since in terms of playstyle, I think many chaos players will situate them in some ruins / buildings with a good line of sight in their deployment zone for most of the game.  Deepstriking is okay and valuable as a decoy: but these boys are pricey and can die from instant death.  But given that they're essentially terminators with 2 wounds each, its often worth the risk to cause a little mayhem against the right army.

The upgrades available are minimal: extra obliterators, marks, and veterans of the long war.  So let's have a think about each in turn.

The extra obliterators can take your unit up to three strong.  Unless you're 100% relying on obliterators (and these days, you might not since they don't possess skyfire), going for three in each squad seems a little high.  I prefer to run mine in squads of 2, or go solo.  I use the latter when I don't have other slots in heavy support that I'm filling with other stuff (havocs, vindicators, etc.) as that means I can then have 2 obliterators in 2 different squads.  This has advantages: choose different targets and different weapons every turn for each obliterator and see what one of them does before activating the next one.  Two obliterators in a squad means that you can statistically rely on lascannons should you wish to fire them.  I actually prefer plasma cannons for the opening salvo in most cases as the scatter isn't usually too large, and we get a high S combined with significant AP.  That said, the assault cannons must now be looking more favourite for an opening salvo from a pair of well positioned obliterators. 

The mark of Slaanesh on obliterators is pointless in my opinion -- they don't have the close combat weapons available to take advantage of the increased initiative short of switching off the powerfists!  And why would you do that?  Fluffy reasons only.  (and yes: that is sufficient reason for many players! especially given how cheap this mark is!)

The mark of Khorne supposes that you'll get a charge in .... less likely with slow and purposeful that you've positioned them to do that in the first place.  Counter-assault is good, but... then again, I just think the final two marks make superior choices. 

The mark of Tzeentch is good here: a 4+ invulnerable save will prove excellent.  Combine with deep-striking obliterators to create a strong threat in the opponent's deployment zone that stands a chance of hanging around.

The mark of Nurgle is similarly good: T=5 obliterators also increase survivability.  And the synergy with Epidemius is obvious to the daemon players amongst you.

Veterans of the Long War on the other hand is not too special on the surface.  But poke a bit deeper and the +1Ld bonus is good: note that obliterators have lost their fearless rule, so anything will help here.  Hatred of space marines doesn't really matter to shooty obliterators though, but can add flexibility to a deep strike threat.  Feel free to add a very shooty character to mitigate the fearless loss (e.g. Tzeentch sorcerer).  Add in a bastion with quad-gun as well - that could work out very well, but I've not tested it out yet.

So, I think my favoured set up will be this one:
2 Obliterators, Mark of Nurgle, Veterans of the Long War (158 points)
Solid, defensive, shooty and going to stick around for a while!  Swap out mark of Nurgle for mark of Tzeentch for a few more points (feel free to recover them by ditching Veterans as well) and try some risky deepstrikes and use this unit as a distractor instead.  There's very little not to like about these two set-ups.  But my personal favourite will be the Nurgle build.  They're just going to be tough to remove, full stop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Havocs

In all the codexes out there, chaos havocs are the only ones to so far be given access to Flakk missiles. Of course, this will change over time, but for the moment it is potentially one advantage that havocs have. But they're not cheap. Coming in at 25 points each, they are an expensive upgrade. Chaos havocs can have any four of their members take special or heavy weapons (including flakk shooting missile launchers; lascannons; plasmaguns; meltaguns; autocannons; heavy bolters; and flamers). With some of the special weapons, the havocs are clearly competing with chaos chosen for a slot and duplicating what they can achieve on the battlefield. That said, they are a few points cheaper than chosen and do occupy a different FOC slot. But as with the Elites slot, there may be superior options elsewhere in the heavy support slot that one would like to investigate prior to selecting havocs.

As with chosen and other basic marines entries in the codex, they get access to the full gamut of marks, icons, aspiring champion regular upgrades and can also take a chaos rhino if they wish.  In concert with a quad-gun they should also make mince out of many units in the game if set up correctly.  So, with that, let's take a look at a few builds.

5 Havocs; 4 with missile launchers plus Flakk; 1 Bastion with Quad-gun (300 points)
Pricey, but it can beat down flyers with regularity.  4 flakk missile plus the aspiring champion operating the quad gun makes for an expensive way to down aircraft and monstrous flying creatures.  But this could be an option for those playing flavourful lists.  Swap out the missile launchers for autocannons to taste.

5 Havocs, 4 plasmaguns, Mark of Nurgle, rhino with havoc launcher (197 points)
Team up with Huron and infiltrate these guys to the back line for some plasma-tastic fun.  Rapid firing 4 plasmaguns if you've never done it before is quite an experience.  The havoc launcher is there to ensure at least some heat is taken by the transport itself and the mark of nurgle means that they're going to be slightly hardier than some alternatives.

9 Havocs, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War, 8 close combat weapons, 2 flamers, 2 meltaguns, champion with melta bombs and power weapon, Rhino Transport with Havoc Launcher (287 points)
Strictly cheaper than the chosen alternative but with less attacks, this squad can still pack a mean punch when run with someone like Kharn to lead them.  The mix of special weapons allows them to be deadly to both vehicles and hordes.  Angron would approve of the hate. 
Alternatively, seek Fulgrim's praise by swapping to a Mark of Slaanesh plus Icon of Excess.  Equally brilliant in the right circumstances!

5 Havocs, Mark of Tzeench, Icon of Flame, 4 Heavy Bolters, Bastion with Quad-Gun (265 points)
Got a horde to deal with?  Then this is the setup that could be useful!  The heavy bolters lay down a withering, soul blazing fire combined with the quadgun that the champion is operating.  Meanwhile the bastion ensures that the squad has every type of save possible for these guys.  Team up with a chaos sorcerer for a good vantage point and fire at will.

10 Havocs, Mark of Tzeentch, 4 Missile Launchers (2 with Flakk), Skyshield Landing Pad (315 points)
With a potential 3+ invulnerable save and the ability to deep strike allies on the pad without scattering, this one screams "threat" for any army that relies on deep striking shooters.  Hello soul grinder allies?
5 Havocs, 2 meltaguns, chaos rhino with combi-melta (142 points)
A pure distraction unit meant as a sacrifice that if run with others of its ilk can likely pull off some serious meltagunning of enemy fortifications and tanks.  Risky, but cheap-ish.

5 Havocs, 4 autocannons, Aegis Defence Line with comms relay (185 points) Ensure your reserves arrive by taking the aegis defence line with a comms relay whilst suppressing enemies with your long range autocannon shots.  Sure, these guys will die quickly to infiltrating, outflanking, flying, and otherwise sneaky foes, but once turn 2 has hit, they've done their job, right?!

Monday, November 12, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Heldrake

One of the most talked about new miniatures in the chaos space marine codex has to be the Heldrake.  Much has been spoken about its physical appearance and aesthetics.  But I'm actually a fan - I like the way it looks and I'm honestly contemplating getting one for my chaos space marine forces.

But let's take a proper look and review of the Heldrake.

Firstly: weapons.  The Heldrake only has one option: the baleflamer, or the hades autocannon.  The baleflamer is probably the most natural choice for the Heldrake.  It is a torrenting AP3 S6 flamer.  Now, with torrent, we can place the flamer template narrow end anywhere within 12" of the nozzle.  This is terrific: taking out T4 save=3+ space marines is made easy with this (so long as you're not already running Tzeentch Flamers, that is).  Use the Heldrake to mop up any infantry short of terminators with ease: this is essentially what the Heldrake is designed to do with the baleflamer option.  It can also cause minor headaches for some lesser vehicles (such as transports).  But remember that we're only getting 1 shot with this per turn.  The alternative is to go with the hades autocannon.  Given a BS of 3, this means that only 2 out of 4 the shots per turn are going to be hitting.  The hades autocannon's strength also means that its primarily going to be hunting down transport units and gunning for the rear armour of tanks like vindicators.  That said, it has a (mean) chance of 41% (rounded) of taking down a space marine stormtalon (recall the Heldrake has skyfire!).  That's nothing to be sneezed at.  But, I think the ability to take down marines with ease outweighs this possibility.  And on top of that, once per game the Heldrake gets the daemonforge rule to re-roll missed to-penetrate or missed to-wound rolls.  Both of these gel nicely with the available main weaponry.

The final weapon at the disposal of the Heldrake is the meteroic descent rule.  This is a S7 vector strike that one would expect the likes of daemon princes to be pulling off -- not flyers!  Against side armour, this has a good chance of getting rid of enemy transports and light tanks.  What this means is that the Heldrake, properly positioned and properly controlled should be making 2 attacks per turn: one with a vector strike and one with either the baleflamer or hades autocannon (but probably the former).  Consider striking a rhino with the vector strike, and then using the baleflamer on another target: its a great combination.

It gets better though.  Despite the somewhat "normal" 12 12 10 HP3 statline, the Heldrake is very well armoured in comparison to other flyers.  The Daemon, Deamonic Possession, and It Will Not Die rule combine to make the Heldrake a terrifying prospect to take down.  That's a 5+ invulnerable roll, ignoring shaken and stunned on 2+, and regains a hullpoint on a 5+ at the end of your turn.  Frankly, this is an amazing suite of defensive abilities that will require the most dedicated amount of firepower available to your opponent to down. Even a quad gun operated by flakk firing devastators / havocs will need to be lucky to down it.  Let's explore that a bit further: suppose there is a squad of 5 havocs with 4 flakk missiles and a quad gun available.  (Note from the outset that this costs more than the Heldrake itself).  Each flakk missile hits on 3+, and needs a 3+ to glance the rear armour (5+ for the side or front).   Fold in the 5+ save, that means each flakk missile has a chance of glancing of 0.30.  Four of them will only cause one glance (potentially penetrating hit) per turn.  The quad gun ups this to possibly 2 glancing hits in one turn.  That's a lot of shots.  Even a havoc squad snap-firing something a bit punchier like las cannons fares little better.  Lots of dedicated firepower will be needed to get rid of the Heldrake.  That means that opponents need to ignore it, or flee from it.  Suits me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Dimensional Key and lack of Homing Beacons in the New Chaos Marine Codex

One of the biggest losses in the new chaos space marine codex is that of homing beacons and their analogues.  No longer do we have access to icons of chaos that double up as a homing beacon as we've come to expect from that last few iterations of the codex.  No personal icons. No way to bring down daemons, terminators, and obliterators on to the battlefield in a guided way.  Except for one.  The Dimensional Key.

This sole (new) icon will undoubtably be carried by an HQ choice. And since it requires enemy blood to "activate", we'll want it attached to a forefront unit.  But therein is the issue.  We could take it on a biker lord, or perhaps a Tzeentchian terminator.  But by the time they're causing wounds on the opponent, its probably already turn 2 (more likely turn 3 though) and three-quarters of the army are already on the board, making it a less attractive upgrade option.

One interesting idea though, would be to have a primary daemons detachment, alongside an allied chaos space marine detachment with a dimensional key carrying HQ choice.  Flamers, screamers and other daemons coming in late will therefore not scatter and can be placed at will where they're needed. This is particularly important to late turn flamer units.  Has anyone tried an experiment like this?  I'm thinking of trying something similar for an upcoming league round ... but am hesitant as I don't really see the Dimensional Key as being worthwhile for anything but Apocalypse style games.

Wargames Gallery: Tau Overrun

The Tau attempted a turn 1 victory against daemons by using a huge amount of firepower to cleanse the board of the daemons' preferred first wave. Despite a near perfect set-up, the firepower of the Tau was unable to overcome the string of (frankly) amazing invulnerable saves made by the daemons.  The remaining bloodcrushers raced to overrun the Tau positions as the second wave comes down to support the ground assault.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Warp Talons

Having read through the rules, I can't help but feel something is missing for the Warp Talons.  Overall, the idea of having a deepstriking, lightning clawed jump infantry that blinds all around it when it comes in to play is awesome!  But I think the rules let it down a bit from there on in.  For example, the warp talons do not have any grenades to use whatsoever.  They could really do with assault grenades for instance.  They do get the daemon rule, which is nice.  But their deepstrike move is very risky.  They want to be landing within 6" of their target for the warpflame (i.e. blind) effect to have a chance.  But that's not going to happen too often (at least without the risk of a mishap occurring). So I can't help shake the feeling that they need an extra rule such as half distance scatter on deepstrike (or no scatter even?), or a larger blinding radius (say 8" instead of 6").  Perhaps even the ability to charge on the turn that they enter play would make them really good.  They're just not quite cutting the mustard for me personally.

Warp Talons also don't get too many options in the new codex: a mark, Veterans of the Long War and up to two gifts of mutation for the warp talon champion.  This means customizability is low.  Let's take a look at a few possibilities.

6 Warp Talons, Mark of Slaanesh, Veterans of the Long War, Warp Talon Champion with 2 gifts of mutation (246 points)
Take down some loyalist tactical or devastator squads in a single turn.  Hope you deepstrike in to position well and don't get blasted before you assault.

5 Warp Talons, Mark of Tzeentch, Warp Talon Champion with 2 gifts of mutation (210 points)
Improved invulnerable save to stack with the daemon rule means these guys can potentially jump infront of devastator squads and stand a chance of surviving.

10 Warp Talons, Mark of Nurgle (350 points)
Large, blobby, and high toughness.  Team up with Epidemius to cause a little extra mayhem.

8 Warp Talons, Mark of Khorne, Veterans of the Long War (306 points)
Blood for the blood god!

5 Warp Talons (160 points)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Raptors

The analogue of loyalist assault marines; I have always had a bit of a thing for chaos raptors - particularly from a conversion point of view. The new models however, are gorgeous and may curb my conversion desire somewhat for raptors now.

To be fair, I see raptors as now being a second rate choice for the chaos space marine fast attack slot to chaos bikers.  They do serve two slightly different purposes, but at 3 extra points per model, I'm favouring bikers these days.  But I still love you raptors...

One of the changes that raptors see in the new edition is the automatic inclusion of the fear rule.  Now, fear is a bit useless (during this extended review of the new chaos marine codex, you'll see how many times I've suggested taking an Icon of Despair for instance: which is to say zero) given the meta-game's preponderance of space marines and other fearless units.  It'll occasionally be useful against certain horde armies, but not truly fearsome at all.  They keep their frag and krak grenades (unlike their poorer Warp Talon brethren).

Otherwise, the raptors get a series of common options: two special weapons, champion with access to melee and ranged weapons, gift of mutation and melta bombs; plus the whole range of marks, icons and the veterans rule. So let's have a look at a few permutations of unit possibilities.

5 Raptors, 2 Meltaguns, Raptor Champion with combi-melta, power weapon, Veterans of the Long War (150 points)
A near-vanilla set-up with triple-melta for some tank busting and a limited amount of close combat potential to take on the contents of a transport, or a set of marines behind an Aegis defence line.

6 Raptors, Mark of Slaanesh, 2 Flamers, Veterans of the Long War, Icon of Excess, Raptor Champion with Lightning Claw and melta bombs (196 points)
A fluffy Slaaneshi squad to go after hordes and foot infantry and take on their lower initiative marine cousins in close combat.  The lightning claw takes advantage of this higher initiative, but feel free to add a second one to taste.  The Icon of Excess provides the squad with a better survivability quotient. Go forth and engage.

7 Raptors, Mark of Nurgle, 1 Flamer, 1 Meltagun, Champion with Powerfist (190 points)
A generalist squad built for speed and durability.  It has the flexibility to go after both small hordes and tanks, backed up with a champion with a powerfist for increased threat across the board.

8 Raptors, Mark of Khorne, Champion with power weapon and melta bombs, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War (213 points)
Chaaaarrrrgggge!  Add some plasma guns to taste?

5 Raptors, 2 Plasmaguns, Raptor champion with combi-plasma and power fist (160 points)
A re-positionable plasma soak unit.  Once the combi-plasma has been expended, head directly for the rear-face of a transport, try to plasma it, if not, use the powerfist.  Not terrific, but a potentially interesting choice of loadout.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Spawn

Don't be too quick to dismiss these entities.  They may be warped beyond recognition by the fickle nature of the warp powers, but that doesn't mean they're cute puppy kitty dog cats either.  Against space marines, they'll be hitting on 4+ and wounding on 3+.

The mutated beyond reason rule is entertaining, in an analogous way to possessed powers, but a little bit weaker perhaps.  They essentially get a one in three chance of a reasonable armour save (they have none otherwise), rolling 2d6 and picking the highest for their attacks (this is actually remarkably powerful) and gaining poisoned attacks (okay, so they're not going to attempt to take on T=8 targets, but re-rolling the "to wound" roll against marines, eldar, gaunts, orks, etc., is a real plus).

They get rage and fearless in-built for the points cost (and fear, meh!) but are very bulky (only 3 per land raider! gah!).  Given the rage rule, the mark of Khorne for these guys is cheap, but not highly warranted.

The mark of Tzeentch will at least give the spawn a regular invulnerable saving throw, even if it is 6+.  So that represents a better investment.

The mark of Slaanesh brings the spawn's initiative up to the same level as a space marine, so at least they're striking at the same time.  But that's not too brilliant.

I think the mark of Nurgle has it here.  Having T=6 means that the chaos spawn will not suffer instant death at the hands of a well placed battle cannon shell and takes the "to wound" roll of ordinary bolter shells to 6+.

Here's some quick ideas.

5 Chaos Spawn, Mark of Nurgle (180 points)
Take with a quick chaos lord (i.e. on a bike!) and charge forward.  Use the spawn to screen any incoming shots against the lord.

3 Chaos Spawn, Mark of Tzeentch, Chaos Landraider (332 points)
What could be more improbable than a small squad of chaos spawn jumping out of a land raider? (Just write down on a piece of paper that they're loaded inside - so that you can show your opponent - whilst you deep-strike the terminators elsewhere -- a nasty distraction!).  Swap out the mark of Tzeentch for the mark of Slaanesh for a slightly cheaper variant.  Hope that you get a full 18 attacks after disembarking.  Don't forget rage!

1 Chaos Spawn (30 points)
Urm, you got 30 points left over, right?  And you're not expecting to get any champion turned in to a chaos spawn.  Soooooo .... use those points and play the chaos you've always wanted to.  Run as fast as your tendrils / legs / hooves / arms can carry you to contest an objective somewhere.  Try not to die too quickly to bolter / gauss / shuriken fire -- stick to cover.  Alternatively, use as a fire magnet to lure a more inexperienced player in to shooting at it instead of something else.

That's about all I've got.  Given the Chaos Boon Table, I think we're going to be investing in the odd chaos spawn or two anyhow, so any additional ideas on what to do with them are welcome!

Monday, November 5, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Bikers

They're fast, they have the blessings of the dark gods, and they can take a pair of special weapons. Chaos bikers are appealing on a number of levels for the Chaos General as they provide a (cheaper than previously) way to bring some fast pain to requisite targets.

As with other chaos units, one of the bikers is a chaos champion and will have to issue challenges in melee, so its best to equip them for that role as they're rather likely to get stuck in to a unit sooner rather than later.  The champion has access to the regular ranged and melee weapons, the gift of mutation, and melta bombs.  That provides a nice degree of customizability that is comparable to ground based troops.

The squad as a whole can take the usual four marks, icons and Veterans of the Long War.  The mark of Khorne and Slaanesh will help with a combat orientated biker squad; whilst the marks of Nurgle and Tzeentch helps with survivability.  Indeed, it is worth noting that for Nurgle, a chaos bikers' toughness goes up to 6 which is very significant.

Before looking at some example squad set-ups, I want to make one additional note.  One way we can think of bikers is that we get a bunch of marines with a free transport.  Let's suppose that we try to construct an analogue unit that is made up of a rhino plus some chaos marines.  A chaos marine armed with bolter, bolt pistol and close combat weapon is 15 points.  Three of them are therefore 45 points.  Adding a rhino takes the total up to 70 points.  Hence chaos bikers are completely comparable in cost to (an impossibly small sized) squad of ordinary marines in a transport.  But the bikers have advantages: their twin-linked bolters are strictly better than regular bolters.  They sacrifice the security(?!) of their rhino for enhanced toughness, so they are in some ways more vulnerable.  Never forget they can still die to bolter fire.  Use them wisely and use cover to protect them until the alpha-strike manoeuvre that you're planning is able to be executed!

3 Chaos Bikers, 2 Plasma Guns, Icon of Vengeance (125 points)
An harassment unit that should be used to ping high value (high armour save) targets as often as possible.  Swap out the plasma guns for meltas to taste.  Use their speed to keep shooting pressure on.  Use as a lure.  Use in the late game to contest objectives.  Use two or three of these squads in one army.  Job done.

6 Chaos Bikers, 2 Melta Guns, Mark of Slaanesh, Veterans of the Long War, Icon of Excess, Biker Champion with power weapon, melta bombs and combi-melta (233 points)
Take out a transport (even land raider) using the triple meltagun threat.  Use the high initiative to get the drop on the contents of the transport (especially enemy space marines) and the champion's power weapon to assault them with.  The Icon of Excess will help to keep them alive against the enemies attack and can help to tarpit opponents until backup arrives, if necessary.  Team up with a Slaaneshi sorcerer for added fun.

7 Chaos Bikers, 1 Flamer, 1 Melta Gun, Mark of Nurgle, Champion with Power Fist (232 points)
A generalist squad -- think of them as a pseudo-analogue to a plague marine squad but faster!  But with toughness of 6, these guys are even better since they're much harder to wound.  Opponents are going to be targeting their plasma weapons on them to get them down.  They're therefore a distractor unit, so we'd better have some secondary unit of dread waiting in the wings.

8 Chaos Bikers, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War, Champion with power weapon and melta bombs (234 points)
The anti-infantry squad.  Charge!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Rhino

The Chaos Rhino deserves a quick mention in the review of the new chaos space marine codex. To be fair, the rhino is a pretty standard piece of kit and is not vastly different to the loyalist analogue. It is the potential upgrades that can set it aside from its loyalist counterparts, so we'll look at a few example builds in turn.  (and you'll notice I've avoided making any statement about whether armies should be investing in such tanks any longer!).

Chaos Rhino with combi-bolter, search light, smoke launchers, repair, havoc launcher (47 points)
The havoc launcher is a splendid upgrade that just got cheaper in the new codex.  Don't underestimate the threat that the havoc launcher can have: regular S5 pie plates with re-rolls to hit are pretty awesome to "ping" enemy hold-outs with, even if they get an armour or cover save.  I'd recommend taking several of these rhinos if you're going to go down this route, just to keep the threat level high.

Chaos Rhino with combi-bolter, search light, smoke launchers, repair, extra armour, destroyer blades, combi-melta (70 points)
An expensive variant, to be sure. I see the purpose of this one is to deliver its (valuable?) contents to the heart of the battlefield, using the extra armour and smoke launchers to keep it intact.  The combi-melta (which could be dropped if points are an issue) is there to augment the potential of the riders to take out targets (recall, two passengers can shoot from the hatch on the top).  Finally, once the passengers have been delivered, the destroyer blades come in to play.  If the rhino has survived this long, its role is now to tank shock and destroy any units hunkered down on objectives.  Take a few destroyer blades in an army for a themed, shocking potential.

Chaos Rhino with combi-bolter, search light, smoke launchers, repair, extra armour, dirge caster (50 points)
Get the assault-orientated passengers to where they need to be (using smoke screens and the extra armour), disembark and charge (but sadly not in the same turn).  Keep the rhino close so that the dirge caster prevents overwatch.  This isn't a particularly good set-up, as the dirge caster would be superior in conjunction with a land raider (which does have an assault ramp), but can be effective if positioned just right on the turn that they disembark.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Noise Marines

Lots of plusses about Noise Marines in the new Chaos Space Marine codex.  They got cheaper, they can produce a prodigious amount of firepower and are dangerous in close combat due to their higher initiative. Their sonic weapons are also cheaper and the Icon of Excess looks on paper to be pretty awesome.

In comparison to the old codex, the Noise Marines now are strictly better. They have more options, and more builds.  Squad upgrades include the sonic weapon (excellent price), close combat weapons (in exchange for the bolter, or instead of taking sonic blasters), Veterans of the Long War (great in a space marine heavy meta-game), Icon of Excess (making them feel no pain -- very cheap as well if there we're taking a large blob of Noise Marines), and one in ten marines can get a blastmaster.

The Noise Champion can get the doom siren, in addition to melta bombs, an odd gift of mutation as well as access to melee and ranged weapons from the armoury.

Let's have a look at the the sonic weapons to start with.  The blasters have been changed to Salvo 2/3.  But, we've got to remember one thing about "salvo" weapons: we cannot charge any model who has fired a salvo weapon.  So if you're planning a charge, you need to switch to bolt pistols. That said, their ability to ignore cover and a range of 24" means they're always going to be pretty useful on the move, or stationary.  The blastmaster on the other hand, is tremendous.  Seriously!  With a choice of modes (both of which ignore cover and cause pinning), this weapon singularly can cause tremendous headaches and has great range to boot.  Alone, this weapon is the reason to go for 10 strong squads.  For the Noise Champion, the doom siren is an interesting selection for an assault-orientated squad.  The AP3 on the template weapon is clearly going to down space marines and discourage assaults.

Since there's so much here, let's turn now to consider a pair of comparably priced builds and a crazy 20 man shooty squad.

10 Noise Marines, 9 Sonic Blasters, 1 Blastmaster (237 points)

A ranged, blasting unit.  Set them up in a building or ruin to start with.  Only move them out to gain better range.  Use as a bait by spreading them out and then falling back (not routing!), firing as they go, luring the enemy close to other guns and units.  Take a bastion for fun?

6 Noise Marines, 2 sonic blasters, 4 close combat weapons, Veterans of the Long War, Icon of Excess, Noise Champion with doom siren, melta bombs and power sword, rhino with dirge caster and havoc launcher (245 points)
This is an assault orientated squad with a fluffy number of members.  Get on board the rhino and fire the salvo weapons from the roof-top hatch, along with the havoc launcher to lay down a strong ground fire.  Get out, rapid fire.  Assault the enemy (don't forget the doom siren) or let them charge you (don't forget the doom siren).  Use the champion to take out opposing champions and sergeants to secure rolls on the chaos rewards table (did he make daemon prince?).  Use the Icon of Excess to buff the saving throws of your (smallish) squad and keep them alive.  Once done, hop back on board the rhino and get away!

20 Noise Marines, 14 sonic blasters, 2 blastmasters, Icon of Excess, Noise Champion with Power Sword, Aegis Defence Line with Quad Gun (622 points)
Team up with a Slaaneshi sorcerer to (hopefully) get Symphony of Pain.  Shoot.  Then shoot some more.  Then don't bother shooting some of the blasters, but shoot the blastmasters instead and maybe the quad gun.  Then shoot a bit more.  If in trouble, charge the enemy: the icon and high initiative should be enough.  These guys are going to be a tough nut to crack. Probably strictly better to run as two 10 man squads (but then 2 Icons would be getting expensive), but what the heck: we can dream.

There's something for everyone here.  And more significantly, Noise Marines just made the top tier!

Friday, November 2, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Plague Marines

Plague marines actually got cheaper in the new codex, despite apparent price hikes to the contrary. They lost their stinky blight grenades that caused no bonus attack for charging them, but instead, they gain poisoned weapons.  This change takes them back a few editions and they're now (once again) a threat to all monstrous creatures in close combat. Plague marines retain their tactical flexibility: they're able to take two out of flamers, meltaguns, and plasmaguns. Alternatively, two marines in a squad may take plasma pistols. This leads to a multitude of battlefield roles.

The plague champion gets access to melee and ranged upgrades from the armoury, as well as a gift of mutation, melta bombs.  Of course, they can also purchase Veterans of the Long War and can take an Icon of Despair and a rhino transport.

Regarding the Icon of Despair, I really don't think its worth it.  The ability to cause fear in opponents is a bit sub-par in a space marine heavy meta-game.  Without the ability to summon daemons / act as a homing device, this is one icon that has lost its touch and purpose. That said, they also function as an analogue of instruments of chaos from chaos daemons.  Therefore, if the express purpose of a particular plague marine squad is to tar-pit, then the icon will be valuable -- take it.

I feel a bit conflicted about the Gift of Mutation for plague marine champions.  On the one hand, they could get a good roll that makes it well worth the points.  This is particularly true for a tar-pit unit.  But a ranged unit, it is not so much worth while taking the upgrade.  So, I think this upgrade is situational.

Finally, since plague marine champions have I=3, I think that they're probably the one and only type of champion that can afford to have a power fist.  Since they're going to be striking after the majority of miniatures in the game, they're already relying on their enhanced toughness and feel no pain to avoid being killed in direct challenges thanks to the Champion of Chaos rule.  It's an expensive gamble, though, to be sure.  But one that I'll be taking.

Let's have a look at a few potential squad set-ups.

5 Plague Marines, 2 plasma guns, plague champion with combi-plasma (160 points)
A small squad of plasma death.  Team up with an infiltrating warlord to cause a little panic.  Or keep them in an advanced position in your half of the table: ready to shoot down enemy bikers that get too close.  Hold an objective late in the game that is in your own half.  Or add a fortification (Aegis defence line or a bastion, plus quad gun) for a strong anchor that won't be taken down in a hurry.  Add two extra marines to make the squad size to 7 and be a little bit fluffy about things (and a little more survivable).

7 Plagues Marines, 1 Flamer, 1 Melta Gun, plague champion with power fist, rhino with havoc launcher (255 points)
This has to be one of my favourite set-ups.  Although it can be criticised for not being "focussed" in the sense of going for mixed ranged special weapons, it is an all-rounder that has proved effective time and again.  Use the rhino to get close (or as a line-of-sight blocker) and ping the enemy regularly with the havoc launcher.  Get out, rapid fire, flame and melt.  Then charge on the next turn (or get charged and have a nice flamer overwatch against the chargers).  Hope the champion survives an opposing sergeant and unleash the power fist on them in return.  The power fist also provides a way to down dreadnoughts and other targets.  There's little not to like in this set up for me!  Add in the Icon of Despair if you think they're going to be doing plenty of close combat, or Veterans of the Long War if you know the enemy in advance.  Either way, its still cheaper than the previous edition.

10 Plague Marines, Veterans of the Long War, 2 flamers, champion with powerfist, Icon of Despair, Rhino with havoc launcher (342 points)
A combat tar-pit squad.  Add in a gift of mutation on the champion if there's some spare points left over.  Get stuck in as soon as possible to the enemy.

20 Plague Marines (480 points).  Better to use as 4 x 5 Plague Marines for the same points in many circumstances.
A "naked" squad of 20 plague marines.  Their high toughness and feel no pain means that they're not going anywhere fast (so long as someone else in the force takes care of pesky vindicators coming their way).  Spread them out to hold lots of ground, use as a road bump.  Claim objectives and stay put.  Take on a monstrous creature you want dead. In short, they're hard to remove quickly.  This set-up is strictly better as 4 lots of 5 man squads due to the extra attack on the champion (assuming you've got a Nurgle lord and they're troops), but some players dislike such small squads, even when T=5.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Thousand Sons

Should they be called "Rubric Marines" since the other three cult units don't get called by their old legion name?  I don't know, but it's up there with the top questions I have about the new codex.  Then again, I suppose the commanding sorcerer is not strictly a "Rubricae".  But I digress.

Thousand Sons in the new Chaos Space Marine codex are still shooty, and their AP3 bolters are going to hurt enemy marines.  They've lost the "sorcerer commands" style rule in favour of simply everything being slow and purposeful.  This isn't so bad, but I was fond of the old style rules simply for fluff reasons.  And they all get Veterans of the Long War for free in their price.

But, they are the priciest of all the four cult marines.  Most of this cost is tied up with having a level 1 psyker in the unit, coupled with the AP3 bolters.  As they're a Tzeentch psyker, they have to select their power from the Tzeentch powers.  Given that we're setting this unit up as a shooty unit for the main part, that means that doombolt and Tzeentch's firestorm are the optimal result.  Unless we're taking a rhino transport: the odd well placed boon of mutation can be superlative.  (NB: breath is a Warp Charge  =2 power, so we can't have it!).

In terms of the upgrades, the aspiring sorcerer can take both a gift of mutation and melta bombs (but nothing from the ranged or melee table!).  I'm a bit "meh" about the boon of mutation: I don't see these guys getting in to combat frequently, but if they do, the force weapon could prove very good when teamed up with a gift of mutation.  Melta bombs again suggest engagement with enemies, so probably not worth taking since we're going to concentrate on shooting.

An Icon of Flame provides the unit with the soul blaze ability.  If it were slightly cheaper, or their bolters weren't AP3, it might be worthwhile.  But it's just on the edge of not quite being worth it in my opinion.

Here's a couple of suggested set-ups:

5 Thousand Sons, Imperial Bastion fortification with quad-gun (275 points)
A good armour save (3+), a good invulnerable save (4+) and a cover save.  Use the sorcerer to mount the quad gun and shoot away.  Fire those other boltguns at anything in range (or use the sorcerers power -- you selected firestorm, right?). Go inside the building as well if you like!  Replace the Bastion with an Aegis defence line to taste.

10 Thousand Sons, Chaos Rhino with Destroyer Blades (315 points)
Ride up to the target marine squad, get out and rapid fire them to oblivion.  Should the rhino survive a little while, use to tank shock enemy units on an objective.  Did you roll Bolt of Tzeentch as the psychic power?  If so, use on enemy vehicles from the back of the rhino along the way for extra impact.

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