Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Tactical Squad

At the core, the tactical squad is as good as it ever is for any space marine army.  But there are important differences.  The squad veteran sergeant is not an automatic include: it can be purchased as an optional extra.  The troops have grim resolve in addition to And They Shall Know No Fear.  Part of this counters the ability to choose to fail a morale test, the other half grant stubborn.  These are interesting additions to the regular marine squad.

The wide array of options available means that the Dark Angels tactical squad can assume a number of battlefield roles, ranging from cheap firepower, to drop pod antics, objective sitters, to mini heavy weapon squads.

Let's have a look at a few example builds:

5 tactical marines (incl 1 sergeant), 1 missile launcher with flak (95 points)
This is a mini heavy weapons squad.  Place on top of an objective on the back line and stay there.  Take pot shots at anything that takes your fancy.  I think the 15 pt option for the plasma cannon would also be a nice cheap option (85 points) that could be entertaining especially if it weren't the only one.

10 tactical marines, 1 melta gun, 1 multi melta, rhino (195 points)
What, are we still thinking like a 5th edition player?  Yep. But, I think the meta will shift back to tanks soon, simply to counter the all infantry meta we're seeing.  Hello rhino rush (lol).

10 tactical marines, 1 flamer, 1 plasma cannon, 1 veteran sergeant with thunder hammer, drop pod with locator beacon (245 points)
Combat squad them if required and create a plasma cannon objective holding squad and take the more assault orientated option in the drop pod along with an appropriate HQ choice.  The locator beacon is to bring down terminators and the like as required.

10 tactical marines (140 points)
Use next to a command squad with a standard of devastation. They're still marines with a 3+ save and they're scoring.  There's little not to like about a humble squad.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Ravenwing Command Squad

Sammael and any other bike-mounted HQ will give the Dark Angels player access to the Ravenwing command squad option. Like the Death Wing Command squad, this one also does not occupy a force organization chart slot.

Like a regular ravenwing squad, there's plenty to like here and plenty to choose between.  The twin-linked 18" plasma gun (aka plasma talon) gives the squad valuable ranged low AP firepower.  The corvus hammer grants S+1 and rending to give a valuable close combat option.  And of course, there's the speed of the squad -- as with all ravenwing options this is part of the key.  Further, they get the skilled rider rule to add to their potency over regular squads -- they're actually ravenwing black knights at their heart.

So what optional advantages are there?  Well, they get access to the Dark Angels sacred standards.  Of these, the standard of fortitude stands out for me (re-rolling of pinning and morale, coupled with feel no pain).  But it is hugely expensive in real terms.  To get feel no pain, I think an apothecary biker would be a much better idea for a unit.  Meanwhile, the Ravenwing Company Banner presents an interesting and cheaper option: automatically passing hit and run checks is amazing, as well as rolling an extra die for hit and run distance.  This is really what will make a ravenwing army component shine brightly if used correctly.  The ability to get out of a bad combat, or shoot and redeploy as required (with extra distance) is simply something that no other army has in abundance.

Here's a trio of sample builds:

Ravenwing command squad, ravenwing company standard, 1 ravenwing grenade launcher, 1 ravenwing apothecary (165 points)
A great combination of abilities.  The grenade launcher is a neat addition, particularly for the stasis anomaly grenade that can make a huge difference against fighting other space marine armies in the meta game since it means -1 WS and -1 I for the squad that is hit by it.

Ravenwing command squad, Standard of Fortitude, 1 Ravenwing champion (210 points)
Team up with your HQ and use the standard of fortitude to grant feel no pain to a wide range of nearby squads.  The ravenwing champion is for extra close combat mileage.

Ravenwing command squad, 1 ravenwing grenade launcher, Revered Standard (145 points)
The crusader rule is okay, as is this entire squad.  Go for the first option above instead.  This one is included here only for completeness and only if there are 2 FOCs available.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Death Wing Command Squad

If we have a terminator HQ, then we can select a Death Wing command squad.  In the same way as a regular command squad, they don't count towards the force organization chart at all.

The unique aspects of the command squad come down to several key factors. Firstly, there is access to the banners.  The Death Wing Company banner is pricey, but adding an extra attack to all nearby units is going to be good if the banner survives.  The sacred standards feel a bit wasted on this command squad though: they don't have the boltguns to convert to salvo 2/4 with the devastation standard and since they're fearless, they're not really wanting to re-roll morale checks all the time either.  Feel no pain might be nice, but we could buy an apothecary instead, which seems like a much better deal to me.

Other than the banner consideration, the command squad gets a lot of flexibility about weapon choice, akin to the regular Death Wing terminator squad.  Its worth remembering that these guys get twin linked on the turn they deep strike in and split fire.  Team up with Belial to ensure that they don't scatter when they land as well.  There's plenty to like!

Here's a few example builds:

Death Wing Command Squad, Death Wing Company Banner, 3 thunder hammers and storm shields, 1 death wing champion with halberd of Caliban, 1 apothecary with a heavy flamer (325 points)
Deep strike this one with Belial.  Its there to benefit from the company banner, so get up close and personal and make sure you have further close combat death wing squads in support.  The apothecary will help keep them alive against low AP weapons, and the heavy flamer is simply a one shot wonder to use on the turn you deep strike.  After that, its melee glory or death frankly!

Death Wing Command Squad, Death Wing Company Banner, 1 assault cannon, 2 chain fists, 1 death wing champion with halberd of Caliban (300 points)
A complex beast: at its heart, it is a multi-purpose support unit.  Deep strike next to the primary assault squad so that they benefit from the company banner.  Do a turn or two of shooting and then go after what ever target you wish: light tank, other heavy infantry, etc.

Death Wing Command Squad, 1 apothecary, 1 plasma cannon (265 points)
A support squad for a librarian in terminator armour perhaps: keep to the shooting and keep the librarian alive.  Add a land raider to taste (indeed, I probably should add that to all of the above example builds).

Guild Wars 2 (off topic!)

RE: Guild Wars 2.
wow -- just looked at our Alpharius guild that I happened to mention in my previous post and saw that 25 people had scoped it out whilst I was offline!

To re-cap:
We play on the "Fissure of Woe" server (yes: I know its a very underpopulated server, but that's the point: bonus XP for hunting creatures that have been around for a while!)

Our (fledgling) guild is "Alpharius".  If you're interested in joining and want an invite, message me in game via /w or by sending an in-game mail (my user name is jabberjabber.6804 and I'm often playing a character called Aldronia).

Alternatively (or preferably!), send me an email at: and tell me your gw2 details and I'll send an invite when I'm next online.  Feel free to say g'day!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thousand Sons: GW2 or GW IP emblem?

I'm currently playing a bit of Guild Wars 2 in the evenings.  I noticed this guild emblem whilst I was poking around.  Now take a look at the pre-heresy Thousand Sons emblem / legion icon in the image.  What differences are there and what similarities?

Clearly the sub-burst motif is highly similar.  Neither company (probably) can claim rights to it.  But notice that guild wars 2 places a scarab in the centre of the burst.  Seriously: a scarab.  What does this say to any chaos player out there other than Thousand Sons?  Or can GW2 argue that the superposition of the two is original intellectual property.  Anyway, there's two reasons I mention this.  Firstly is out of pure interest concerning an ongoing legal case that most players will know about with chapterhouse studios.  

The second is that if you're playing guild wars 2, come and say "hi" to jabberjabber.6804
We play on the "Fissure of Woe" server (yes: I know its a very underpopulated server, but that's the point: bonus XP for hunting creatures that have been around for a while!) and have formed the "Alpharius" guild (because we are all Alpharius!) which you're welcome to pm me or /w me for an invite to.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Command Squad

The command squad does not occupy a force organization slot, which can be good in larger games; much like techmarines in a DA force.  The question is really how to select their equipment. But to do that, we need to think about what their role will be.

The principle difference between a command squad member and a regular trooper is the extra attack.  Hence, this is begging to be set-up for close combat, preferably escorted by a HQ choice for fearless, etc.  In concert with something like a drop-pod, they can also get there pretty fast.

Alternatively, we could go down a more shooty route, albeit it close range though plasma pistols (etc.).

Or perhaps form an advanced placement through a drop pod and locator beacon.

I actually like the Death Wing and Raven Wing command squads a little better.  But nonetheless, let's have a look at a few possibilities:

Command Squad, Standard of Devastation, Apothecary, Razorback with twin linked assault cannon, extra armour (265 points)
The point of this unit is to take the standard of devastation and place it inside a transport, thereby ensuring it (hopefully) lives longer.  Swap out for a land raider to be sure!

Command Squad, Dark Angels Chapter Banner, 1 Company Champion, 4 Thunder Hammers (280 points)
Lots of attacks! Add in some storm shields to give terminators a run for their money?  Perhaps not though: I think terminators do this build better given their 2+ armour save!

Command Squad, each member replaces chainsword with melta gun and bolt pistol with flamer.  Drop pod with locator beacon and deathwind missile launcher (235 points)
Is this build even legal?  I've read and re-read the wording of the entry and I think it is.  This drop pod is there to shoot down everything and provide a smooth landing for other deep strikers later in the game.  But oh my ... all those meltas and flamers.  Feel free to go pure melta or pure flamer for extra concentrated anti mech or anti horde.  They're assault weapons either way.

Command Squad, Standard of Fortitude, 5 plasma pistols, 5 storm shields, drop pod (370 points)
I think I'm getting carried away at this point.  This build would need serious support to make the most of the standard of fortitude.  So perhaps this is one for Apocalypse points levels only.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CSM: Maulerfiend vs Helbrute/Dreadnought

This is one that has had me a trifle puzzled of late.  Which is better: a Maulerfiend or a Helbrute (i.e. Dreadnought) for Chaos Space Marines?

To do a fair comparison, let me firstly note that a helbrute with a pair of powerfists costs 20 points less than a maulerfiend with its pair of powerfists.  They both have the same number of attacks, but the dreadnought has strictly the superior stat line, with +1 WS BS and I compared to the maulerfiend.

The extra points for the maulerfiend go toward several aspects: it will not die, siegecrawler, daemonic possession, daemonforge, move through cover, daemon, fleet.  By comparison, the helbrute has its crazed rule.  That said, the helbrute can be a superior firepower base: the maulerfiend simply doesn't use ranged weapons!  The ability to have a built in heavy flamer in the powerfists of the dreadnought is very nice indeed: the maulerfiend suffers by comparison.

But I think that's where the story ends.  The speed of the maulerfiend is terrific and a much welcome addition to the (usually) slow Chaos Space Marine army.  That, coupled with the survivability of the maulerfiend give it the edge for me.  And if that weren't enough, one in 6 basic missions in the rulebook will result in the maulerfiend being a scoring unit (i.e. Big Guns Never Tire), which the helbrute will never have access to.  So I think I'm convinced: the maulerfiend has the edge and is well worth the extra points even if it does compete with land raiders and the like for heavy support slots of the force organization chart. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are the Watchers in the Dark daemons?

Reading the Horus Heresy series of books, the diminuitive Watchers in the Dark make selective appearances in the books concerning the Dark Angels. 
Background-wise, they appear at critical junctures: e.g. just prior to the Emporor arriving, and so are believed to be heralds of great things.  They appear to be impervious to physical assault and warp related events, they are probably powerful psykers; and more-over may even have lectured the Lion about chaos.  So my question for crowd-sourcing today is this: are they some kind of strange daemon? I've heard it said that they might even be Cabal agents. Or maybe they are something else altogether that is native to Caliban?  Thoughts anyone?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Techmarine and Servitors

One of the most crucial things to realize about techmarines in the Dark Angels codex is that they are not trusted.  At least not like the techmarines of Guilliman's descent.  This is reflected in the fact that techmarines and their servitors do not use up a force organization slot.  Instead, a techmarine can be purchased for every "normal" HQ choice that is taken.  Hence up to 2 techmarines can be bought if the player takes (for instance) Belial and Sammael

There are several roles that we could think about assigning a techmarine.  Firstly, they could be part of a vehicle strategy to keep vital hardware alive (landraiders, whirlwinds, vindicators, dreadnoughts and the like).  Given that each servitor with a servo arm grants a +1 to the repair roll, we can guarentee that repairs are successful -- even when embarked. 

We can also consider a more shooty variant, with servitors and techmarines kitted out like a pseudo-devastator squad.  This has interesting options, particularly when coupled with an Aegis defence line, or bastion even that the techmarine can bolster the defences of.

Let's have a look at a few potential builds.

Techmarine, servo-harness, 3 servitors (105 points)
This is a base level "fix everything" build.  With 3 servo-arms and a harness, the repair roll gets modified by +4.  Hence even a roll of a 1 will result in a successful repair.  Although they could hide behind a whirlwind and keep it shooting all the time, I'd be tempted to place them inside a land raider and create an uber vehicle of never tiring death myself.

Techmarine, 5 servitors, 3 plasma cannons, 2 multi-meltas, Imperial Bastion with quad gun (305 points)
Maybe this is slightly more expensive than one is willing to pay, but here is a tough nut to crack. An AV14 building (I thought I could have a bolstered defence from the techmarine, but we can't - it has to be another none-purchased building).  The servitors act as a devastator squad, the plasma cannons are there for their AP, the multi-melta's for the snap shot ability and as a vehicle deterrant.  The techmarine himself mans the quad-gun.  Place an objective on the roof of the bastion and sit there the whole game taking pot shots.  Better yet, have a second unit *inside* the bastion firing the heavy bolters and ready for a counter-assault.  A truly nasty combination built for a defensive play.

Techmarine, servo-harness, space marine bike, displacer field, digital weapons (130 points)
This is a cheap, lone wolf style, ravenwing concept.  The idea is to zoom along on the bike and engage the enemy at close range with the servo-harness weapons before charging in to melee (remembering that the servo arms both have AP1).  The displacer field is for an invulnerable save.  The only fault with this guy is he has 1 wound.  Hence he's pretty expensive for such a vulnerable character.  He might want to forego the lone wolf concept and join a ravenwing squad for an escort if played along with Sammael.  Along the way, he can (of course) also attempt repairs to vital ravenwing machines. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Librarian

One of the cheapest options in the HQ section of the new Dark Angels codex is the librarian. I'm rather impressed with him, in the same was that I was with the Chaos Lord and Chaos Sorcerer.  And, unlike the chaplain, they all have the inner circle rule.  The only real drawback that I can see is that he can never be a level 3 psyker: that is reserved for Ezekiel only.

There are many options for the librarian: ranging from terminator armoured deep strike tactics with the death wing, through to drop podding down with a tactical squad, and wearing a jump pack to get with the assault squads.    I'm not too bothered about adding in extra guns or relics as the psyker should be using his psychic powers actively in their stead, but equally, I'm not completely adverse to it either, it just depends how expensive we want to get!  Let's have a look at a few set-ups for the librarian:

Librarian, level 2 psyker, jump pack, displacer field (140 points).
For an assault squad, this guy backs himself with his psychic powers and force weapon and uses the displacer field for protection.

Librarian, terminator armour, level 2 psyker, Foe Smiter (150 points).
Accompany the Death Guard in to battle, or alternatively, go solo and hunt down your targets more selectively or provide a back-line headache to the enemy.

Librarian, conversion field, Lion's Roar, infravisor (105 points).
Drop pod down with a tactical squad and fire the Lion's Roar for victory!  The infravisor is there for the turn 1 dropping in the event of night fighting.  Getting that early Roar shot off might be vital.  This build is kept deliberately at low points values for utility and savings on points that should be spent elsewhere.  This librarian will probably be playing second fiddle to Belial and is there really to make a scoring unit fearless so that it can claim a backfield objective.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Chaplain

With one wound, one attack and one point of ballistic skill less than the Interrogator-Chaplain, the regular chaplain suddenly feels pretty bland, especially lacking the inner circle special rule.  He only gets access to melee, ranged or special issue wargear, and so his prime purpose in a Dark Angels list would be to accompany another squad and provide a combat focus.  As such, he's ideal in a Dark Angel's force that is highly infantry based and/or needs to save points on HQ choices when not running a Death Wing or Raven Wing variant.  And if such a list exists, then there needs to be a case for selecting Dark Angels ahead of Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Black Templars and regular Space Marines.  Initial reasons might be flakk missiles on regular tactical squads, but that's not going to last, clearly!  With company veterans (and indeed a command squad) the chance to take more than 1 special weapon is tempting.  Or perhaps you just like the Nephilim Jetfighter and want a cheap HQ?  Its actually hard to see good uses for him above other HQ selections to be honest, so I don't see people selecting him unless it IS to save on points.

Let's have a look at a few set-ups that might be good, given the above considerations.

Chaplain, jump pack, auspex, melta bombs (115 points).
An HQ to accompany an assault squad in to battle.  Add digital weapons to taste and maybe consider a porta-rack if appropriate.

Chaplain, naked.  (90 points).
Seriously, if we're looking to save points on HQ choices, this on the surface seems to be great.  Until you read the price of a naked librarian.  I'd be wanting to take the librarian instead I think.

Chaplain, plasma pistol, digital weapons (115 points).
To be used with a tactical squad or equivalent, giving a little bit of extra low AP firepower, and with the digital weapons a little more likely to cause wounds.  

Thoughts on the New Chaos Warrior Miniatures

There are plenty of images of the forthcoming White Dwarf doing the rounds today.  Within, are pictured plenty of juicy pictures of the new Chaos Warrior range, including updated dragon ogres and so on.  Several particularly caught my eye, but for rather different reasons:

* Foresaken: I've got to say that I think these guys look awesome.  They have long, bulbous arms and generally look rather mutated.  I think they'd make superb conversion pieces, or even direct use, for chaos cultists.  They certainly have the look of 40k mutants about them.  I'd certainly like to get a closer look to see how the parts mesh together and how easy (or not) it would be to transfer the bits to 40k usage.

* Slaughterbeast.  Its huge.  I'm not sure what else to say really.  Looks good, but very big!

* Chariot.  This one looks like its been expanded to heroic scale compared to the old metal analogues I have in my collection somewhere. Could this be a prequel to seeing chariots in daemon armies (like the rumoured Khorne chariot?)

* Hententicle.  Is that its real name?  Seriously, a hententicle?  (anyone reminded of a Futurama episode?).  Or is it a vortex beast?  Hopefully yes.  But seriously, what's going on with this miniature?  What the heck is it and why does it have so many tentacles?  Has Tzeentch been taking the drugs that Slaanesh gave him a while back?  It seriously looks freaky.  Even for a long time chaos player like me! How am I going to use that in 40k?  Tzeentch daemons prince, or chaos spawn perhaps.  Or an Apocalypse thing mayhaps?  Looking forward to hearing more about this one!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Of plague zombies and typos: a limited 40k FAQ Digest

The news of the new FAQs from Games Workshop is now getting toward a day old or more!  I wanted to use this post to have a quick skim over what I found the most interesting (which may or may not correlate to "most significant" for others).

Firstly, the main rulebook.  The (re?)introduction of killzones is interesting.  This means that if you only have bolters and your target squad ranges from 22 to 26" away from you, then only kill those within 24".  Should you have taken a missile launcher, or lascannon, then you can kill the whole lot of them.  Interesting!

For my daemon playing colleagues and friends, plague zombies don't count toward Epidemius' tally.  I wasn't going to play that way any how, since I figure the rules cover models with the mark of Nurgle, or followers of Nurgle.  Plague Zombies are neither, since they haven't *voluntarily* decided to follow Nurgle.  (okay, don't get me started on Nurgle's Rot and Plaguebearers ... that's different ... ish ... well maybe ... okay: I wasn't playing plague zombies as counting toward Epidemius and now this is confirmed!  Anyone want to admit they were, or had contemplated it?)

For chaos space marines, noise marines get a boost, and the heldrake is classed as having a turret!  Blimey, that's a biggie!  Am I glad that I got one of those as a gift over the holidays?  Yes.

And for my favourite loyalists (Dark Angels, not Alpha Legion), the typos have been fixed up.  So at least the required units can now access the sacred relics and standards as it was obvious that they should have been able to!

There are more rule changes beyond these that I like (shooting overwatch from vehicles, Black Templars getting superior dreadnoughts and so on), but for me, the above changes seem most immediate given my gaming preferences!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Interrogator-Chaplain

In many ways, the Interrogator-Chaplain can be thought of as an analogue to the Company Master.  He buffs a unit (particularly for close combat), but does not radically change the force (like Belial makes terminators in to troops).  He gets all the same options as the Company Master, but costs more.  This is because he has a built in 4+ save (thanks to the rosarius), the corzius arcanum, and the zealot special rule.  Hence many of the upgrades available to him and the Company Master (which are the same!!) are a bit of a waste of points given these auto-include upgrades.

Much like Asmodai, he is there to take the fight to the front lines.  So we want him tooled up much the same (and like the Company Master in fact!).  But we've got to be conscious we don't spend too much points on him that invalidate his already high base points cost.

Here's a few builds that may be worth considering.  Beyond these general ideas of teaming up with other terminators and assault orientated squads, I'm a bit "meh" on the interrogator-chaplain to be honest because other HQs do this equally as well, and sometimes more efficiently.

Interrogator-Chaplain, jump pack, Foe Smiter (145 points)
I think this is one of the best builds I can come up with that doesn't ruin the extra built-in cost relative to the Company Master.  The use of the jump pack is something he doesn't ordinarily have and means he gets to team up with an assault squad.  The Foe Smiter relic replaces his basic bolt pistol and provides a much needed shooting option.  If facing hordes, then this might be better replaced with a combi-flamer or the Lion's Roar.  Add a digital weapon to taste.

Interrogator-Chaplain, terminator armour, combi-flamer, digital weapons, auspex (165 points)
A build that tries to also keep the points cost low.  Place inside a strong terminator squad.  Use the auspex to lower the cover save, get close and flame, then engage in melee where the digital weapon will help finish off opposition quickly.

Interrogator-Chaplain, jump pack, porta rack, auspex (140 points)
Get to the enemies range fast.  Use the auspex before charging.  Charge and take control of your enemies teleport homers. Great for a mirror match involving terminators.  Note the points cost relative to Asmodai and the similar stat line here!  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Company Master

The Company Master is the first highly customizable HQ character that we come across in the codex.  Although he doesn't have as many permutations as the CSM Chaos Lord, the Company Master is still a formidable choice for the generic Dark Angels force.  By that, I mean if you're playing Death Wing, Raven Wing, Dual wing (i.e. combo-Death and Raven Wing), then you should be looking to Belial, Sammael or Azrael for the HQ choices: the company master will only be a second HQ choice for you ... and even then, I'd be tempted by a librarian ahead of a company master for the second choice.  Hence, my first observation is that Company Masters are for the blended Dark Angels player, or a utility secondary HQ choice to fit in with a certain number of points in Death Wing (etc.).

Given that observation, his secondary role may be to accompany a squad of terminators in an army lacking Belial to pack a bit of a better punch (but note that the rules prevent a company master from purchasing a bike as an upgrade! boo!).  For armies lacking Death Wing and Raven Wing (why?), he provides a means to have fearless on a unit.  And as such, he's probably cutting the unit out for close combat duties and should be constructed accordingly as he's going to be wasted behind an Aegis defence line manning a quad gun.  He's got to be up close and personal to be effective and in a support role.  Hence he's probably going to be teamed up with a solid command squad, or with a veterans squad.  

Let's have a look at a few potential builds for a Company Master (and don't forget the company master comes with an iron halo for free when looking through these):

Company Master, Terminator Armour, Porta Rack, Mace of Redemption (170 points)
I rather like the idea of subverting your enemies teleport homers to your own cause.  This company master seeks to make it in to close combat and activate this ability with the porta-rack and (rack up) suitably quick kills with the mace of redemption.

Company Master, artificer armour, displacer field, thunder hammer (165 points)
The displacer field makes a welcome return here.  Make a 3+ invulnerable save and move (in potentially a useful direction!).  Saddle up with a thunder hammer and artificer armour and you have (effectively) a thunder hammer and storm shield terminator with a teleport move every turn.  Plus if he's locked in combat, he stays there and gets a free pile in move.  Team up with some veterans or command squad for some interesting times!  Add an auspex if you're not bothered by shooting with this guy.

Company Master, artificer armour, jump pack, conversion field, lightning claw, Foe Smiter (175 points)
He's there to go with a jump pack unit (assault squad for example): shoot with Foe Smiter (an excellent Master Crafter weapon -- assault 3 at 24" for goodness sake!).  Get within 1" with the jump pack before declaring a charge.  Use the conversion field to blind the squad that is going to be charged.  Take advantage with the lightning claw.  Points-wise, he's expensive.  But I like the feel of this one regardless of the price.

Company Master, infra-visor (95 points)
Cheap and cheerful.  This company master is to accompany a devastator squad behind an Aegis defence line -- he should be manning the quad gun since he has BS=5.  Otherwise, swap out the infra-visor for an auspex to reduce the cover save of a target for the other squad members.  

Company Master, Shroud of Heroes, Terminator Armour, Lion's Roar, Displacer Field (225 points)
This guy is a lone wolf, not to be teamed up with anyone in order to make the best of the Shroud of Heroes.  He's got the Lion's Roar to shoot off and kill something like an opposing terminator squad, before making melee contact and finishing them off (or at least tarpitting them a little while).  To be fair, I wouldn't play this one outside of Apocalypse.  But I thought I'd post it for completeness' sake.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Sammael

As Belial is to Death Wing, Sammael is to Ravenwing.  He makes ravenwing attack squadrons in to troops choice for the pure ravenwing army which is critical for such a speedy army list.

He can choose from two set-ups: he can have Corvex: a jetbike that means he retains his independent character status and his usual stat line (which includes a useful teleport homer, hit and run, inner circle and various nice rules such as scouts and skilled rider), or swap it for Sableclaw: a land speeder that features AV 14 on the front and sides.  He sacrifices most benefits doing this though and gains a twin linked assault cannon and twin linked heavy bolter.  For me, the teleport homer on Corvex wins out to be honest.  The deep striking component of the rest of the army could be highly critical (particularly if Sammael is being taken as part of a dual Death / Raven Wing army style).  To be honest, I'd only take Sableclaw if I really (really) needed an extra land speeder.  I think the jetbike model is just too valuable to be left at home.

His armaments are excellent.  A 5th edition power weapon (the Raven Sword), eternal warrior, 3+/4+ and a plasma cannon on Corvex combine to make Sammael's default set-up an exceptionally potent one.  Sure, he's not there to take down aircraft, but there's little else that he's not going to attempt to do - and be able to carry out.  Particularly with the back up of the rest of the Raven Wing.

Hence, I see Sammael as an all-rounder.  But his really benefit is within a Raven or Death Wing army list (either singular, or dual / blended lists).  His rapid deployment and teleport homer combine to make an excellent mix: able to lay down strong fire power and hold his own in melee.  Take him with a fully kitted out ravenwing attack squadron and go forth.  Swoop down on an objective in the late game and make it count.  His price is more than Belial, and to be fair, I think Belial has an edge over Sammael in terms of no deep strike scattering.  But he's still useful and potent.  I just prefer Belial.

The final point about Sammael is that he has a fixed warlord trait.  Instead of The Hunt (which many other HQs seem to have), Sammael have Rapid Manoeuvre.  This gives extra run (2d6, choose highest), or can give an extra d6" for turbo boosting.  The latter is a strong one: the ability to get that extra bit of range late in the game is great for the time-tested tactic of swooping on objectives.  

Dark Angels Review: Belial

The Grand Master of the Death Wing is still extremely potent and an awesome HQ choice from the Dark Angels codex. Vitally, he makes deathwing terminator squads in to troops (NB: not death wing knights!) and is therefore an auto-include for any pure Death Wing army list.

His armaments can vary.  His basic load-out is the Sword of Silence (think: fleshbane power sword) with a normal storm bolter and built in iron halo and teleport homer.  The latter is incredible when teamed up with Belial's ability to deep-strike without scatter (including any squad he's teamed up with).  He gets in position from turn 1 (or 2 -- remember you can choose) and then brings down his friends (if any are left in reserve that did not death wing assault) in turn 2 onward.  This is much better than what codex: daemons can do even, and is therefore to be respected and feared.  Death Wing terminators appearing exactly where they're needed are going to be incredible. His ranged attacks are precision shots on 5+.  Not that he vastly needs this, but its a strong, cute benefit.  And he also gets the usual inner circle benefits.

Alternatively, he can be kitted out with a pair of lightning claws or a thunder hammer plus storm shield.  Both of these options are clearly close combat orientated and therefore waste a few of his rules (precision shot, vengeful strike), but can clearly help in certain situations.  To be honest, given the meta-game that contains a reasonable amount of dark eldar, I think I'd be erring on the side of thunder hammer and storm shield over the lightning claws.  Leave the claws at home: if you're tempted to take some in case you're facing fast opponents, just take some inside a regular squad instead.  But equally, weigh this thought against Chaos Space Marine's problem of always issuing challenges.  I hope that 2+/4+ (or 2+/3+) armour will get you through any high initiative issues.  Hence I'd be taking Belial either with the standard equipment, or with the thunder hammer.

In terms of play style, I would advocate making maximum benefit of his deep-strike without scatter ability and team him up with a good squad of terminators (whether they be regular death wing, a command squad, or death wing knight squad).  I'm still on the fence about whether to field a 10 strong terminator squad which is possible with normal death wing terminators: it certainly maximizes Belial's ability to get them on the board where they're needed, but a 10 strong squad of terminators has manoeuvrability issues all of its own -- especially if they're valuable scoring terminators.  Hence I'd be tempted by knights instead, or a command squad, if lots of terminators are desired.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Asmodai

New in this codex iteration is Asmodai -- the Master Interrogator-Chaplain.

He's a fairly typical chaplain champion to be honest.  He is set apart by not only having the standard equipment (think rosarius, crozius arcanum), but also wields the Blades of Reason: an instant death melee weapon, but otherwise nothing special to mention about this relic to be honest.

He comes with The Hunt as his warlord trait (as Ezekiel does) which offers bonus victory points for HQ slayage.  To be fair, I think Ezekiel does it better and he's only 5 points more.  And really, that's the crux of my argument about Asmodai.  To be blunt: I don't think he cuts the mustard as well as Ezekiel does.  Asmodai is characterful and causes fear and has the standard inner circle and chaplain rules, but that's it.  Nothing but an instant death weapon to set him apart.  Lots of other characters do things he does not, *and* do the kind of things that he does to boot.  For me, I don't think he's worth the points, sorry.

So, if we want to run him, I'd be putting him in a land raider / drop pod with a tooled up squad for close combat.  Charge him in with the large squad and cause some havoc.  A fairly standard tactic.  Alternatively, keep him in an Imperial Bastion with a devastator squad and use his BS to shoot an Icarus or Quad Gun.  I'm sure his colleagues will bring him victims to interrogate at the Bastion.  

Dark Angels Review: Ezekiel

As a level 3 psyker, Ezekiel must be one of only a few who retain a specific power: mind worm.  Its a bit of a signature move for him: reducing any wounded enemy model's BS, WS, I and Ld by a whopping 3 for the remainder of the game.  It's there to take down opposing HQ selections and hurt armies that MUST use the Ld of their HQ (like Azrael!).  With one lucky shot of mind worm, an entire army can be devastated realistically.  But is it very short range and needs a little luck from the die as well.  But AP2 and ignore cover certainly help with that.  He gets access to Divination, Pyromancy, Telepathy and Telekinesis as well.  I suggest rolling on Divination.

His other equipment is reasonably standard (artificer armour, grenades, AP3 master crafted force weapon etc.), along with the book of salvation which increases WS by 1 for all DA units within 6".  His warlord trait is dictated: The Hunt.  This gives the possibility of an additional victory point for warlord slayage.  This clearly ties in with Ezekiel's battlefield role.

In an army, we really want Ezekiel to get within 12" of an enemy warlord to use mind worm.  Really: I see this as his primary purpose.  He's the mirror match breaker.  The whole strategy of an army built with Ezekiel must be to target opponent's HQs.  He therefore needs to have manoeuvrability to get where he needs to be, and preferably embedded in a command squad (or similar) that is built to take on opposing command squads.  Load up in a land raider or rhino and go seek and destroy with celerity.

Overall, I rate Ezekiel well: his price tag is cheap enough to make him tempting to players and to build a strategy (or sub-strategy if another HQ is there like Belial) around him.  He's not going to pull it off all the time, but his is a level 3 psyker afterall, and therefore can have many secondary roles beyond hunting the enemy HQ.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dark Angels Review: Azrael

Continuing the review of the new Dark Angels codex, we move from Death Wing Terminators to Azrael.  He's the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels.  He knows their secrets (all except the ones that are kept from him ... like the biggie about the Lion).  He's had unfriendly chats with Luther.  He doesn't mind being followed around by daemons Watchers in the Dark.  You just know he's going to be awesome.

So, as an HQ choice, and a reasonably powerful one, my first thought is that it is refreshing to know he still costs less than a land raider.  The in-built perks include being allowed to choose a Dark Angels warlord trait to suit the occasion (this is potentially useful, but I think the warlord traits in this codex aren't quite are good as chaos space marines traits; but that's a discussion for another day); making both ravenwing attack squadrons and death wing terminators troops; and having all models in the army use his Ld for usual the checks.

Beyond that, he is a 2+/4+ marine, thanks to his Lion Helm (and a Watcher carrying it), conferring 4++ to his unit (guard blob of doom!!) with a 6+ feel no pain (not terribly reliable, but better than nothing).  The sword of secrets is a strength enhancing power sword and the Lion's wrath combi-weapon.  Its a combi-weapon (where plasma, obviously, is the combi part that also blinds).

In terms of battlefield roles, he's a candidate to sit on a gun behind a defence line or Imperial Bastion due to his BS=5.  But his best role would be to team up with a command squad (plus appropriate sacred standard!) in a forward position and press the advantage quickly.  His slew of special rules is what makes him tempting to take.  But if one is going to go down separate (pure) ravenwing and death wing components, then Belial and Sammael are superior.  For dual-wing, Azrael is going to be a winner.

To be clear though, he's not going to be getting stuck in in the same way as Belial (since he's not a terminator!) and Sammael, but that's the price to pay.  You'd better be sure dual-wing is the way to go.  If not, ask yourself if (e.g.) your death wing really needs to be troops, etc.

Dark Angels Review: Death Wing Terminators

I have the codex already (because its already Saturday in Australia!).  So today, we start the first of my reviews of the codex-- follow them through the DAin6thReviews tag.  And I'm going to start with the one that interests me the most: the basic(!) Death Wing terminator squad.

Let's start with the basics.  They're slightly more expensive terminators that the vanilla space marine ones.  But for that, we get so much extra.  Firstly, there's Death Wing Assault.  Nominate turn 1 or 2 and jot it down secretly.  All the terminators automatically come on in said turn.  Don't bother rolling for reserves at all.  They're on.  As members of the inner circle, they're fearless and have preferred enemy: CSM.  They have split fire and vengeful strike.  The latter is quite incredible: twin-linked weapons on the turn they arrive via deep strike.  This is a big game changer in my opinion.  Totally worth the extra points compared to vanilla space marines.

But their options are what makes them shine even more.  They can be kitted out for close combat, ranged assault and anything in-between (think: thunder hammer and storm shield with a cyclone missile launcher).  Just as the Lion commanded.  In short, these guys are awesome and with the right build (i.e. pure Death Wing, or dual Raven/Death Wing ... or even as a supporting role), the Dark Angels player is not going to regret the extra points for the bonus rules.

Here are some sample builds.

5 Death Wing Terminators, 1 Plasma Cannon (235 points)
Deep strike on the turn of your choice, roll to hit with twin-linked, including the plasma cannon and move forward in latter turns.  All kinds of awesome.

10 Death Wing Terminators, 2 Assault Cannons (480 points)
Deal death to all who stand before you.  And some who are standing to the side of you.  Did I mention with twin linked on the deep strike turn of your choice?  Brilliant.

8 Death Wing Terminators, 2 with pair of lightning claws, 3 with thunder hammer and storm shield, 1 with cyclone missile launcher, 2 with chain fists, Land Raider Crusader Transport with Death Wing vehicle rule (i.e. preferred enemy: CSM and the option of forcing an opponent to re-roll the result of penetrating hits on the vehicle damage table) (682 points)
A mad, expensive and all round squad, mainly for close combat, but doubling up to take on any vehicle, and with some ranged ability as well.  Not much not to like here.

5 Death Wing Terminators, 2 with pair of lightning claws, 2 with chain fists, 1 heavy flamer (240 points)
A mixed squad, probably not too advisable as there are better builds than this, but could be flavourful and a neat distraction.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dark Angels: suitable Sons of Malice Counts-As?

Like many other folks, I've been readily with a strong appetite the rumours and rules discussions that are now coming out thick and fast about the new Dark Angels codex.  My long term readers will certainly know that I have a thing for Dark Angels - of all the loyalist chapters (including the Alpha Legion?!!? hehe!) the Dark Angels are the one that I like the most. 

Thing is, they've always appealed to me as a potential count-as chaos army. Particularly with their connection to the Fallen which is written in to their background story.

But I'm reading a few new rules that might be hard to explain for a counts-as army.  In particular, that there will be hatred (or possibly preferred enemy) for anything from codex: chaos space marines.  Granted, certain elements of Khorne would have a self-loathing, certain elements of Tzeentch plot against each other, certain parts of Nurgle want each other to decay more rapidly, and certain parts of Slaanesh ... well, best not to speak too much about that beyond reminding myself of Ron's awesome LustWing army he converted and painted a long time ago. 

So which chaos faction would best be represented by hatred or preferred enemy toward codex: chaos space marines.  A simple answer here folks.  The Sons of Malice.  They embody chaos' self destructive motivations supremely well.  Perhaps even the Fallen fell to Malal (ahem) Malice at some point.  Yep.  That's my narrative if I'm going to think about a possible Death Wing or Dark Angels counts-as for the forthcoming new codex! 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blight Drone Painting Progress

Or the alternative title: how impressive the new GW washes can be over inks.  With an undercoat of black on my magnetized blight drone, I set about thinking about what colours I wanted this monstrosity to be.

In the end, I opted for greens on the rusted metal parts, with a soft underbelly tone of creams and light flesh tones.  To do paint the undercoat, a complete layer of the base colour was applied all over the required areas.  Then, in a (deliberate) haphazard manner, completmentary tones of lighter greens and browns were dabbed on top of the basecoat.  Inbetween changing colours, I didn't bother washing the brush: just letting the new colour bleed in to the previous one in the next dab.  Similarly, for the underbelly, greys and stone colours were dabbed on raised surfaces. 

Around the edges of the metal plating, I applied a slight highlight, again mostly using a dabbing technique. And then, on to the washes.  Two sets of washes were applied to each of the main portions of the drone: brown and green to the metal parts, and brown and orange to the soft underbelly.  These colours create a strong complementarity: the dull, festering armoured plates play off against the much lighter and indeed, warmer tones of the maggot like daemon beneath.

The painting is yet to be finished: the metal parts of the guns need attention, and I may apply a few more washes and highlighting layers yet.  Plus that drone eye needs some thought: perhaps a sickly yellow glow over the white basecoat. Otherwise, its coming along very well so far!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Geneseed and Progenoid Glands

I'm a little confused about progenoid glands in the space marine background.

Their stated purpose is to create the material (geneseed) required to produce more space marine organs, once havested.  Each of the two (neck and chest) progenoids takes 5 and 10 years (resepectively) to mature.  After which time, they can be removed, but the chest one is typically not removed until the death of the marine.

The progenoid material is then used to grow more organs in vitro. Including more progenoid glands.

Here's my confusion.  Do each mature progenoid only produce one of each of the 19 implants (including 2 new progenoid glands?).  Or can the produce an indefinite number of them (over time)... in which case why bother harvesting when one could have a store of them all pumping out organs all the time. And: can a harvested progenoid gland/s be re-implanted in to a new recruit (i.e. recycled), or is a new one required?

The answer to the above questions affects how long it would take a chapter / legion to re-populate itself, but I'm still a bit confused!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chaos Daemon Codex Rumours Digest

There are plenty of sites recording the chaos daemons rumours now.  The following is a selection of tidbits sourced from Heresy Online.

New stuff: 
a chaos beast
a ground-based variant of furies
an elite daemon engine
large flamer for Tzeentch (potentially a pyrocaster)
Chaos terrain piece
Khorne flame machine belcher? / cannon?
Nurgle flies with plaguebearer riders

Re-done miniatures / never produced before miniatures: 
Greater daemons, all with a conversion pack to create a named greater daemon.
Chariot options for Khorne and Tzeentch (the former doubling with the cannon?)
Palanquin of Nurgle

Personally, I'm liking what I'm reading.  If only a fraction of the new stuff turns out to be true, then I think we'll have plenty of happy collectors out there.  That said, we've not heard anything much about the new codex beyond the miniatures themselves that will be new.  All we have is a selection of statements that talk about "balance" (not that exact word though) and levelling the playing field between daemons and everyone else.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with screamers of Tzeentch: back to the original concept perhaps, or plough forward with two wounds and a worse save?

(The image is of GRAINS OF SALT, taken from wikipedia and used under the GNU license.  The purpose of the image should be obvious!). 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

1850 pts of Dark Angels and Grey Knights

A concept that I'm looking forward to translating to the new Dark Angels codex in the near future (... as a chaos / fallen counts-as -- remember that those grey knights are evil sorcerers, no really, they are sorcerers...).  The idea is to blend Death Wing with some of my favourite Grey Knights entries (particularly Mordrak and his ghost knights) and exploit the best sides of both styles of terminator armies.  Without tanks, the idea is to either deep strike in (particularly the Dark Angels detachment) or actually start out on foot.  Choice selection of the powers of the librarian can help here (e.g. the summoning).  The main issue is flyers ... might have to swap out a squad for some storm ravens (etc.) as a counter.  Not ideal, but necessary now for 6th edition!

1850 points, 33 models, no tanks:

Grey Knights (Primary Detachment):

Mordrak (200 points)
4 Ghost Knights with halberds and hammers (160 points)

Librarian with 2 extra powers (160 points)

Grey Knight Terminator Squad, 6 models (240 points)

Grey Knight Terminator Squad, 5 models, psycannon (225 points)

Dark Angels (Allies):

Belial with thunder hammer and storm shield (130 points)

Death Wing Terminators, company banner, apothecary, 4 thunder hammer & storm shield, 1 heavy flamer plus chainfist (280 points)

Death Wing Terminators, cyclone missile launcher, 1 chainfist (240 points)

Death Wing Terminators, 3 thunder hammer and storm shields, 2 paired lightning claws (215 points)

(NB: Death Wing Terminators count as either Troops or Elites with Belial in the army list ... hence no violation of allies rules here before someone mentions it!).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Death Wing Knights and Conversion Possibilities

Looking at the new images of the Death Wing terminators all over the place today, I'm particularly struck by how straight forward they would be to convert (seduce?) to the dark side.  Take for instance the Death Wing Knights.  The hooded robes adorning their armour create a sinister visage without really trying.  The Unforgiven chapter is primed for a Fallen Chapter in my opinion.

Consider the image above of a Death Wing Knight.  Now do some imagining: the base colour black instead of bleached bone (i.e. back to the original Dark Angels colours that Luther and colleagues would still be wearing).  Swap out the storm shield for a shield from warhammer fantasy chaos knights.  Replace a should pad or two with chaos space marine analogues.  And add a trophy rack or two (or even a havoc launcher as a counts-as cyclone missile launcher).  The conversion would be very simple and wouldn't need to scrub too much imperial symbology out.  Very tempting!
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