Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Genuinely Excited about Age of Sigmar

The title says it all. I've been reading the leaks online (I won't link to them here, you're just as capable as I am to find them). I really like what I'm seeing.

This is a complete and utter reboot. It feels gloriously new and exciting. The doors are swinging wide open on this new play style, new rules set, and new armies.

I'm particularly intrigued by the war scrolls. I wonder how plaguebearers, bloodletters and the like are going to play?

Other tid bits that I liked (in no particular order):
* bases and base shapes don't matter (hexagonal anyone?!)
* battles take place in one of seven realms (have we been told about all of them yet? I can see fire, but nothing else?). So many modelling opportunities there!
* Mysterious terrain rules are core rules.
* Magic system seems much more simplified!

Overall, it feels just like when I originally got the old Warhammer rule book all those years ago. Something incredibly new, exciting, and probably worth pursuing!

Equally: the lower complexity level and lack of army books could lead to accusations to it being too simple a game compared to its predecessor.

Monday, June 29, 2015

POLL RESULT: Where your battles are taking place

Over the past two weeks, Warpstone Flux has been asking readers where their battles have been taking place recently. This has been the first poll on the blog in quite a while, and received a sum total of 59 votes which was nice to see (maybe we'll have to have another poll soon?).

The poll was inspired by a question that we last asked in 2010. In that poll, both urban and rural battlefields seemed to be equally common. Following this, ruins were very common as well, with over one third of all battles taking place in their midst. This was closely followed up with deserts of one type or another.

In our 2015 poll, we can see that almost one half of all battles seem to be taking place in ruins. And of them, the vast majority are in urban ruins.

Seriously: why are we always fighting over ruins? What is it about a ruined cityscape that attracts space marines to viciously fight Tau (etc.) over the corpse of a Hive? Perhaps there's some ancient artefact that needs recovered? Or they're just scouting and their enemy tracked them down? I just don't know! Narratively, it bothers me a little bit to be honest! But I'll live with it.

Grassy boards and desert boards are almost equally common and account for the next main bracket of themed boards. These can, of course, be combined with ruins and other categories in our poll to make for some more unique settings. And it is these combinations of themes that seems the run a common thread through the poll.

For instance, I was watching many of them roll in. We saw a simultaneous increase in both daemon/chaos worlds with magma/lava theme. Presumably, someone inscribed a big chaos star in a board (example here). 

I was also pleased to see ice worlds and craters feature at a good level in the poll. Presumably the ice worlds are somewhat inspired by the Space Wolves? Equally, seeing that some people put ice worlds simultaneous with trenches and ruins made it much more interesting. 

Forge worlds (an intact type of ruin perhaps?), Trenches, Zone Mortalis / Space Hulks, and Hills, Valleys and Mountains rounded off the major themes for boards.

At a much lower level, dedicated boards to necrons, Tau, Eldar (pictured) and the like seem to be visible at a very low level. Its great that individual factions are still getting a bit of love and attention out there. I haven't actually seen a Tyranid game board yet, but if anyone has a link, or would like to provide an image, we can certainly feature it on the blog as I would (personally speaking) love to see one!

Overall, there is still strong variety out there, but we are perhaps seeing an increase of ruined cityscapes compared to five years ago. Perhaps this just demonstrates the popularity of Games Workshops ruined administratum (etc). Equally, there's perhaps not as many cratered boards (one of my own imaged above) as I might have thoughts. (Then again, the old craters can no longer be found for sale on direct order).

Let's hope that the variety continues, and we don't all converge on ruined cities. Long may you have both line of sight blocking terrain as well as area terrain covering your favourite gaming table.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sniper Scout Death Mark Concept

Q: What do you get when you mix together a Death Mark sniper rifle with some 40k space marine parts?

A: A model the is playable as both a 30k and 40k space marine sniper scout model that looks pretty unique!

The model is constructed from necron parts (the sniper rifle), Dark Angels (the hooded head), space marines (accessories, back pack), chaos space marines (arms), Grey Knights (torso), and Anvil Industry (legs, cape).

I'll be using him as part of a recon squad for my growing 30k Alpha Legion forces. I think he really fits the bill rather well. In particular, one of my goals for this army was to convert absolutely everything. In line with this, I also wanted them to have a feel of using xenos weapons and reverse-engineering others. Here, I've taken the lead from Alpharius himself who is described as wielding a spear of alien construction. Like others, I've interpreted this as Necron in origin and therefore decided that some of his sons could be similarly equipped!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Age of Sigmar and Warhammer

A mini-editorial from me today. As someone who started out by purchasing a single gobbo back in the 1980's, my connection to the Warhammer World has been many decades long - although only just longer than 40k and Dungeons and Dragons.

Like others, I've been pouring over the images doing the rounds on the internet this weekend. I know some folks are sceptical and others hostile. I'm in the camp of liking what I'm seeing. This looks like a true overhaul and complete re-boot. I think this is exactly what the setting needs. The miniatures are good to see - I like the poses (even though they're snap-fit allegedly) and they seem to be very interchangeable for 40k conversions! Plus: there's war hammers everywhere! Nice!

And it does make me wonder if Warhammer 40k needs a new direction as well -- 40k seems like its getting crowded toward the end of the millennia. Whilst 30k is doing extremely well. Perhaps we could eventually explore 41k or beyond please?

I digress.

We've been seeing the withdrawal of the old Warhammer army books and miniatures (including the dryad pictured on this article). I will miss some of the army books and certainly some of the miniatures as the parts have been extremely useful for conversions. I'm sad about that. On the other hand, I'm very optimistic for the future of this line. It could be enough for me to get involved in fantasy again.

But I wonder if something else is happening here? Are we seeing the "freeing up" of the word "warhammer" in favour of "Age of Sigmar"? Does this correlate with the re-branding of the Games Workshop high street stores as being "Warhammer" stores? I'm starting to think so. Equally, I could be very off the mark here too.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Tech-Priest Auxillia

From the different orders, the Taghmata Omnissiah can field several different flavours of tech-priests. Although many are Enginseers (basically battlesmiths), there are also the Reductors (wreckers of siege and tanks) as well as the stranger Lacyraemarta (flesh craft).

The Auxillia can be configured in a number of ways to suit whichever Mechanicum preference your play style deserves.

The multitude of build is part of the strength of this unit. Perhaps it is better to consider the three different types of techno-arcana that they can choose between for evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.

Enginseers are clearly going to be useful for keeping vehicles moving. Since their servo-automata grant a bonus to this roll, their builds need to maximise on this.

Reductors are to be played as part of a more aggressive play style. Their role is one of the wrecker and tank hunter (in a very literal sense as per the rules of the same name). The ability to take a conversion beamer to help out with this is incredible!

Lacyraematra are ones to field with large units of adsecularis as they can confer a bonus to their feel no pain rolls. Indeed, I think if one is going to go down the route of adsecularis builds, these kinds of tech-priests are 100% necessary to help them out.

The tech priests themselves are relatively weak, with only a "standard" human stat line profile coupled with unremarkable upgrades beyond the power axe of the adept. They are cheap enough to compensate though.

On top of this, the servo-automata have to take pinning tests if the tech-adepts are slaughtered - they just don't know what to do with themselves otherwise! Therefore the adepts are going to be prime targets for any opposition able to pick out unique targets from an enemy unit making their stay on the battlefield precarious. It is therefore well worth upgrading one of the adepts to a Magos Auxillia just for the toughness bonus (and indeed, the Ld bonus point). Add in a second adept for backup purposes (perhaps a second unit of tech priests as well) and it should be good for a few turns at least.

I supply one build for each of the three techno-arcana below. One of the arcana must be chosen by the controlling player; they cannot remain "blanks". Although the adepts could be chosen to have different arcana, I cannot see much point in this.

Magos Auxillia (Enginseer), Adept (Enginseer), 8 servo-automata (125 points)
Purely to keep the tanks rolling. Nothing else. Don't think about combat at all. They're just here to make sure the critical Land Raider keeps rolling.  Upgrade the automata with weapons if you're thinking otherwise.

Magos Auxillia (Reductor) with conversion beamer, Adept (Reductor) with conversion beamer, 8 servo-automata (4 with flamers) (195 points)
Sit back and blast away. The servo-automata here are both flesh shields and assault deterrents with their flamers.

Magos Auxillia (Lacyraematra) with graviton gun and melta bombs, Adept (Lacyraematra) with graviton gun and melta bombs, 8 servo-automata with 4 flamers and 4 multi-meltas (245 points)
In principle, this setup could work just as well for Reductors as it can for Lacyraematra. The idea here is that this mob will be near other adsecularis mobs and be using them for cover as well as granting them better feel no pain rolls. The weapons are aggressive and should be played in that manner as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Archmagos Inar Satarael

This is one of only a few named Mechanicum independent characters. His background is certainly odd -- not only was he power hungry and very skilled in the ways of war and war machines, but in a brutal combat with some really strange xenos, most of his organic self was liquified. What remained trapped in the logic circuits rebuilt his body (using stolen parts no less) and as a result his peers contend he is well on the way to being completely mad. Naturally, his home Forge World sided with Horus as he was their patron.

This guy brings the kitchen sink to the battle field. Not only has he a somewhat standard power axe, but he has a whole heap of interesting upgrades including (but no limited to) graviton imploder, repulsion shield and haemonculite cyber-corpus! What are they I hear you ask?

Well, the repulsion shield provides what is basically a 4+ invulnerable save to S=6 or better incoming fire. But this comes in to play when he is hit - not wounded. It gets better though. On a roll of a 6, the shot is fired directly back at the shooter!

The cyber-corpus is basically his life support vessel. He is a hulking monster of metal and robotica on the battlefield and everything in his stats and equipment is related to this. In addition, he gains a 5+ feel no pain roll.

His emergency teleport protocol can transport his organic remains away from his cyber-corpus when he loses his last wound on a 3+. The corpus then explodes like a vehicle and the enemy gains no victory points for slaying this warlord. Crafty indeed!

This guy has a huge points cost. I think we'd only want to use him in games above 1850 points if there wasn't a good reason to not use him at a lower points. The only other real weakness is his 3+ regular armour save. Why oh why is it not listed as 2+? Even with 4 wounds and T=6, the 3+ save is not quite what it should be. At least he would be instantly killed though.  But he is vulnerable to fury of the legion style attacks that will have a heap of small arms fire coming at him.

I see Satarael as a swiss army knife commander -- and a monstrous one (literally) at that. He's pretty good at everything but not obviously excelling at a single thing. He has the power to troll enemies with his emergency teleportation tactics and he has the implacable advance warlord trait.

I personally see him as a multi-pronged threat. Place him in an army featuring robot automata and other strong threats and you have the basis for a sound force.

For me though, I think I'd sooner construct a Magos Prime in his stead so that I can specialise my forces a bit more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Magos Prime

The Magos Prime is exactly what the name suggests he should be. The primary mechanicum person to go to. They are a high adept of the Cult Mechanicus and have more than likely travelled significantly down the road of replacing most parts of their flesh with cybernetic and robotic replacements. In the extreme cases, their organic remains are contained in cages that are very reminiscent of Dreadnought chassis.

The strength of the Magos Prime is dependant upon how one goes about building them - and indeed the army around them - to a great extent. Will you be going for a close combat Magos that is armed to the teeth and has a jump pack? Or a more ranged Magos who is likely to stay in place and shoot off a conversion beamer? Or more of a support role? It all really depends.

Their stat line is not great - particularly in comparison to Space Marine Legion commanders and the like. They really need to think clearly about their battle field role and play to their strengths. They also need to think about how to NOT give away "slay the warlord" and similar victory points to their opponents. A 3+ armour save is an issue though (unless upgraded to an archmagos -- which you should be doing for all options listed below… I've not done this on everything just to be illustrative though).

I want to give one suggested build per Orders of High Techno-Arcana. Each Magos must choose one of these orders, so I figured an example of each would be productive.

Archmagos Prime, Archimandrite Order, djinn skein, 4 cyber occularis, servo arm, Graviton Imploder, Chain Fist (295 points)
This build is over the top, and is an all-comer build. It is meant for tank heavy armies wherein the commander will be riding with his troops. His weapons are designed to be able to take on most things in the game short of primarchs so as to stand a threat to almost anything. Team up with lots of tanks and a quality squad to do some real damage.

Magos Prime, Malagara Order, rad grenades, power fist, jet pack (160 points)
The monster hunter!

Magos Prime, Myrmidax Order, 1 conversion beamer, 2 phased plasma fusils (185 points)
With hatred of everything coupled with precision shots, this guy really can really ruin someone else's day unless he is taken care of.

Magos Prime, Ordinator Order, jet pack, melta gun, melta bombs, chain fist (150 points)
This is the guy that goes to hunt tanks. Use the orbital bombardment early for goodness sake though.

Magos Prime, Lachrimallus Order (120 points)
A cheap HQ selection that would befit a totally cheap army that is based around adsecularis units. Many many bodies on the board here, and we're saving on points with the HQ to ensure even more bodies.

Magos Prime, Macrotek Order, corposant stave, machinator array (145 points)
This is a support choice that also opens up the possibility of having more than one fortifications available. Add in some nastier weapons and melee selections to taste.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Deathstorm Assembly

The Deathstorm drop pod is one of those unusual choices for a 30k - or, indeed, a 40k - army list. The principle opposition to it is that it takes up a valuable heavy support slot that could be used for something else entirely. 

To me though, I see a few more aspects to it. Not only does it block lines of sight, but it can also hem in and block enemy heavy vehicles from advancing -- or more appreciably: escaping. Its a cheap threat, but one that can not only lock down critical passage ways on a battlefield, but one that can in the right circumstances inflict some significant casualties early on in a game. If ignored, it can certainly take its toll all by itself. As can probably be told by the tone of my writing, I intend to have one in my Alpha Legion army. Although I'll post a full intended army list another time, I actually like this unit and like the model for it. I realise that I might be in a minority here though.

The image above shows the Deathstorm in the process of being assembled.

The missiles come from Forge World and are a sheer block of resin that weighs significantly more than a standard drop pod contents. Indeed, one can tell by simply picking up the Deathstorm it is not a regular drop pod just because of its weight. 

Initially, I wanted to try to set up the drop pod so that it could be converted between a regular one and a Deathstorm on the fly, as required. After a number of investigative processes (including looking at Ron's old guides on FtW), I eventually decided that it was simply not prudent to magnetise the entire thing and make it de-constructable. It represented just too severe a conversion for me. Perhaps one day I'll revisit this problem, but for this - my first Deathstorm drop pod ever assembles - I just went along with the normal way of assembling it.

The assembly is actually really easy and straight forward: mainly consisting of five flat planes of missile launchers to glue on to the central hexagonal column. There are a few other servo-style skulls to go in the slots around the edges of the base, and a machine spirit to replace the storm bolter, but that's about it. None of the fiddling trying to identify the squad sergeant's harness or anything like that. Very easy and simple - despite the lack of instructions on how to construct the main body of the drop pod which is my only real complaint about the kit.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Necron Lord

A little bit of a diversion today. This is a Necron Lord that comes as part of the command barge play set. I assembled it as part of the barge, but thought it merited its own small corner of the blogosphere.

As mentioned in the original post, the orb was a bit of a pain to get together. The elbow joint is really odd and seems a little bit weak to my mind.

The pose of the miniature is one that I am not 100% sold on. I think I've make the stave a little bit low pointing -- it looks fine on the command barge, but I think for the battlefield, it is pointing a bit too downward. Perhaps something that was a bit more on the horizontal level would have been superior in this regard.

I am going to use this miniature for a test painting scheme for my Alpha Legion. Don't laugh. I'm serious. Well, at least in the regard of testing out some painting using compressed air spraying. Then again, I might just paint him up in Verdus Prime colours and be done with it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

More Gal Vorbak Assembled

Finally, the full Gal Vorbak squad has been assembled. Their full glory will be realised once painted, but I thought it worth showing the detail in the sculpts prior to undercoating them. I'm really liking what I'm seeing in terms of the level of detail encapsulated in the miniatures, coupled with the attention lavished on the iconography.

In terms of painting, I think I will approach with a traditional painting scheme in mind. This includes a red hued armour which the Gal Vorbak are known for - and indeed will ultimately become the shade that the Word Bearers themselves adopt. The daemon flesh, I think, will be blue though. Not least because of the contrast to the red armour!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gal Vorbak

For my recent birthday, my most wonderful wife surprised me with the gift of miniatures! (Yep - I have a most wonderful wife, and although I suspect that she may not read these words, you never know, she might one day, hence why I'm writing them.). 

One of the miniature sets that I received were the Gal Vorbak from Forge World. These guys are simply awesome! Firstly: the level of detail. These miniatures are certainly on par with the Horus Heresy Character Series miniatures such as Armillus Dynat, as well as older miniatures that were very high quality like the Plague Ogryn play sets. I have a strong feeling that these miniatures will paint themselves with the level of detail present on them.

The miniatures come in several parts. The main torso comes as a single large piece with the legs attached and the arms down to the elbows. The terminus of the arms, including the hands, are distinct and separate pieces. Additionally, the head, and part of the power pack on his back are further parts that come with the kit. There is a small degree of freedom in which direction to point the head, but otherwise the post is pretty much pre-sculpted. Given these constraints, I did not really want to do any conversion work on them and thought I'd build them "as is" for once.

In terms of cleaning up, the miniatures came with a minimal amount of flash to clean away. The various parts came cleanly away from the sprues and the resin was easy to work with overall. I might pair them up with Scibor resin bases that have been knocking around in my bits box for quite a while. But I'm a little way off doing that yet.

One thing that probably doesn't come across in my image above, is the sheer scale of these guys. They're easily as tall as terminators, and frankly, a bit more bulky. They tower over regular space marines and certainly look the part of possessed beings who strayed in the Eye of Terror for a little too long. 

The iconography and other details on the miniature are great. Notice, for instance, the Colchisian script work around the upper part of the greaves, the flames, the Serrated Suns chapter symbology, the daemonic hand that is reaching out from the right kidney area and keeping the script papyrus in place.

Assembling the miniature was simple: the parts slotted together very nicely with a snug dry fit. That said, I did pin the bolt gun arm to the miniature to provide a bit of extra security as that arm was more of a ball and socket joint that seems to require a bit more than just glue to keep it in place. 

In games terms, I'm sorely tempted to have these Gal Vorbak models as the Rewards for Treason in my Alpha Legion army. The background fluff is perhaps a little dodgy for this, but I can't see any reason that the Alphas would not decide to use all tools available to them!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

POLL: Where Do Your Battles Take Place (2015 Edition)

Remarkably, it has been about five years since Warpstone Flux last asked its readers about where their battles were taking place. Even more remarkably, it has been a very, very long time since we had a poll on this site (and several iterations of the site design as well!). Indeed, we used to hold monthly contests for army building that readers would then vote on for which was the best. Yet these have long since been discontinued. Therefore its high time we had a poll again and tested the proverbial waters to see what the readers out there think.

Today, we're having our fist poll in a very long time (BOXES in the RIGHT COLUMN). It is a repeat question: where are your battles taking place? This was last asked in 2010, almost five years ago. In that poll, both urban and rural battlefields seemed to be equally common. Following this, ruins were very common as well, with over one third of all battles taking place in their midst. This was closely followed up with deserts of one type or another.

We've jiggled about the answers for this poll a little. We have a distinct category for deserts now - one for sandy types and one for an ice planet or ice themed battlefield.

The "rural" answer has been done away with as it was largely redundant and duplicated many others. Instead, there are now options such as "fantasy / grass and woods" as well as "jungles" and so forth.

In addition, there are a vast array of thematic selections available, like Orky themed worlds, Tau and Necron as well.

I'd therefore like to invite readers to select which worlds their battles are taking place on. You're welcome to vote more than once (I suspect you'll have to use different computers though) and you're very welcome to select multiple categories to cover your battlefield. For instance, a jungle with ruins would certainly have at least two of the boxes ticked, possibly more if it were an Eldar maiden world.

I'm particularly interested in the intersection of the choices. If you have any comments, or you think we're missing a category or two or three, then please leave a comment and I'll include your thoughts in the final results.

Speaking of which, the poll will last for two weeks. After that, I'll add in the extra comments and try to draw some generalities. Hopefully if nothing else, it might inspire readers as to what to create for their next gaming boards.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Lascannon Tarantula

Unboxing the tarantula might have shown how the pieces from both the razor back and the weapons slot together nicely, but the real proof was in the proverbial pudding. 

The image below shows my final constructed Lascannon Tarantula.

The construction of this beast was fairly straight forward overall. Although there was a certain amount of cleaning up to do on the pieces such as removing the excess flash from the resin, the pieces came out very well.

The major negative point was attempting to get the struts of the base to lay flat. Seriously: achieving a flat base for the tarantula was a complete pain. The sheer level of fiddling about is ridiculous, even with well washed (i.e. releasing agent removed) bits and in the end, my base was still not completely level.

Apart from this facet, I'm very pleased with this particular model. The Lascannons are articulated and can be pointed (swivelled) up and down. Plus their base can rotate around 360 degrees in the base of the tarantula as required during play.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tarantula Unboxing

The imperial tarantula is one of those pieces that I suspect not a lot of players make use of. I personally think I want to make use of it in my 30k Alpha Legion army. This may seem like an unusual choice, and to some minds a waste of a valuable fast attack slot. I don't quite see it that way. 

I see that tarantula as a fluffy choice for the Alpha Legion. Yes, it is immobile (unless one purchases it a scout move, which I will be doing). But for a legion that prides itself on stealth and misdirection, coupled with tearing apart enemies piecemeal, I think it makes a lot of sense. Their forward squads would have placed these, narratively speaking, ahead of the battle in to key positions. And therein, they will have good lines of sight to hold key corridors through which troops will advance and give them cover, plus make tanks think twice about advancing. They're both a distraction and potentially deadly. Plus they have anti-air options given the twin-linked aspect of their shooting.

The tarantula comes in two distinct clam packs. The first one is the weapon itself, the second one is the stand that it rotates on. 

The reason for this becomes obvious when you see the first clam pack. It is basically the weapons for a razorback conversion. But it is also designed to slot in the base of the tarantula. The pictures below show the pieces immediately out of the clam packs.

The top one is a pair of twin linked las-cannons. The bottom one is the base of the tarantula. As can be seen, there is a bit of cleaning up work to be done with some flashes that need to be removed and some other bits and pieces.

Overall, it looks like a very straight forward job and I'll have this one whipped up in next to no time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tartaros Terminator Squad

This is a Legion Terminator Squad, built as follows:
1 Tartaros Terminator Sergeant, Thunder Hammer, Combi-bolter;
1 Tartaros Terminator with Plasma Blaster, Power Sword;
3 Tartaros Terminators with Power Axes, Combi-Bolter.

Total Points Cost = 200 points.

Why This Build?
The first principle that I wanted to follow was to keep it as simple as possible and as low on points as possible. I therefore did not want to go for full power fists (although they are attractive) nor for chain fists (which are equally attractive). I can certainly see the merit in these options, and at higher points levels, I'd certainly want to expand this squad or run a second squad that did have those build options.

I like the plasma blaster a lot for the extra strength weaponry that it brings to the squad and the bonus threat level. Being Alpha Legion, I'm actually tempted to give this squad bane strike ammunition as well to make it more effective against legion enemies. But that would also be reserved for larger sized squads to make the best of the points value.

The thunder hammer on the sergeant is almost a given. It really provides the true threat of the squad and is able to handle a lot of things in the game.

The goal of the squad is to simply be a threat. It is to draw firepower from other portions of my army whilst playing a threat to light tanks, and any infantry it cares to go hunting after. It is not meant to go tank hunting, nor is is supposed to take out fliers. I have other things in my army to perform those roles. In a pinch, the thunder hammer could tank hunt against things like rhinos, of course.

The power sword on the plasma blaster guy might not seem sensible at first glance. There is a bit of logic here though. Once engaged in close combat it is likely that the plasma blaster will never fire again for the entire game. Therefore this guys is going to be striking at initiative to provide a threat to 3+ save enemies. Plus, he is also going to be the first brother removed when a fatal wound lands. I simple won't need the plasma blaster any longer once he is inside combat. He's therefore expendable. Plus, bearing plasma weaponry means that I don't want him to be armed with a more valuable power axe (or similar) and therefore if he is removed from play, I'm "only" losing a power sword.

All elements of my army are to be converted (apart from set-pieces such as Armillus Dynat). This squad features a multitude of conversions.

Every member has a true scale element built in to them. In this case, I've raised the torso significantly above the hips. My article on true scale terminators deals with this in more detail, and a size comparison is helpful for seeing the effect.

The power axes and the combi-bolters for the three main squad members are all from chaos space marines. They've been transplanted on to the terminator arms and pinned in to place.

The plasma blaster is actually a plasma cannon from the Dark Angels range of terminators. The power sword that accompanies him is a Grey Knights one.

For the squad sergeant, the combi-bolter is also a Dark Angels piece, but the shoulder pads are bits that I sourced from Puppetswar. The thunder hammer is also a minor conversion, using parts from the Chaos Space Marines tank sprue if you look closely.

To finish off, I've added a few details (tabard, pouches, terminator crux and so forth) here and there to make each of them individual, but also part of the squad. The emphasis here is on self reliance and inter-relaibility with other squad members, as befits the Alpha Legion.

Overall, I'm very happy with these conversions and this squad. I will be thinking about adding in some extra members with power fists and chain fists in the near future. I'm holding off on painting them until I'm settled on a painting scheme for my Alpha Legion army, so don't get too hopeful of seeing a fully painted squad just yet.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Maxmini Iron Jump Pack

For my growing 30k Alpha Legion army list, I am pursuing two simultaneous goals of:
(a) not leaving any model unconverted if at all possible
(b) having them wield alien, xenos, or retro-fitted weaponry.

For (a), I'm going to make an exception for obvious character models in my list such as Armillus Dynat. But for the rest of the models, I'm going to try to stick to these goals. 

Assault Marines
I wanted to construct a unit of assault marines for my 30k army list. These guys are going to be a ten man strong unit, with a mixture of weapons (probably a thunder hammer and artificer armour on the squad leader, and maybe some plasma pistols to give them a bit of extra high strength hitting). The good part of the assault squads are that they are scoring units that are troops in 30k (rather than Fast Attack selections like they are in 40k). Most of the other aspects remain the same such as having a basic load-out of bolt pistols, chain swords and grenades. 

I feel one of the more obvious things about assault marines that makes them stand out on the table top are their jump packs. They are highly synonymous with the assault marine visual impact. 

Forge World makes a series of jump packs - some for Mark IV that look a little odd (a single thruster with a couple of stabilisers) and others for earlier marks that looks a bit more traditional (a pair of thrusters). Although I actually don't mind either, I thought it might be entertaining to track down some alternatives. 

Maxmini Bits
In tracking down the alternatives, I came across a recommendation to try out some Maxmini bits. There are several on offer, ranging from the regular looking "jump pack", through to bronze wing ones that seem like a mixture of the old chaos raptor and 30k, through to silver wing ones which seem good for Blood Angels or Dark Angels armies. The ones that I ended up ordering were the Iron Pattern Jump Packs

I selected these ones as they are the ones that most obviously scream "heresy" to my mind. The rounded bolts that surround one side of the model speak of the Mark V armour very clearly, whilst the patch on the other side of them suggests something of a battle field bodge up, or a retro fitting theme that I'm looking for. 

The picture shows what five of the Iron Pattern Jump Packs look like straight out of the plastic bag. 

The bits are not the cleanest casting I've ever seen to be honest, but I do like the overall look and style of them. There were a number of cleaning up things to do - getting rid of some flashes and the like, but nothing too severe. But one negative for me was the apparent age of the casting. Some of the details on the reverse of the bits were not as crisp as the other bits. The fins that attach to the bottom of the vents were also not flush in a couple of instances and will require some very minor amount of green stuff to make them look good. 

Beyond that, I'm really pleased and thrilled with these parts. They will certainly make the miniatures pop on the table top and give them that 30k feeling without investing in the forge world models.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Corvus Corax

Lord Corax is the Primarch of the Raven Guard, and the liberator of Kiavahr. In his background, he is portrayed as a stealthy person; he discovered in his "childhood" that he can be "invisible" even when in plain sight of others. This is repeated in several Black Library novels. In other ways, his childhood is somewhat disturbingly parallel to Konrad Curze of the Night Lords, in so much as he grew up in an oppressed world full of villainy. The key difference seems to be that instead of being a loner who brought peace to a planet, he was brought up by a large variety of people he moved between (or was shuffled between) and learnt from them. He kept in touch with his humanity and was able to forgive murderers such as Kaedes Nex eventually and use them in the rebellion and later in part of the Raven Guard.

In other ways, his leadership is perhaps analogous of Alpharius of the Alpha Legion. At least in so far as he councils his sons to think for themselves and be adept with hit and run tactics, infiltration, and decapitation strikes. His legion is not as flexible as the Alphas, but this is only because they concentrate on honing their quick strikes from the shadows, rather than combined arts warfare.

Firstly, it is important to note that Corax is an army wide booster. He not only gives his sons acute senses whilst he is on the board (I've no idea why this would be the case in terms of the background?), but he also gives them the ability to run the maximum distance all the time when he is on the board. This is a real boost for Raven Guard armies that are foot-slogging across the battle field and can certainly make up for the otherwise slow moving components of their troops.

As The Shadowed Lord, Corax can only have snap shots taken against him by anything short of daemons and psykers if he is not their closest target. I really genuinely like this rule. It means that he should be played as a single person who does not join a unit, but instead stalks the battlefield looking for he prey. It also harkens back to 4th edition where units had to take Ld tests for target priority (a rule I also was very fond of). But more than this, it means that he cannot be hit with flame or blast templates.  As if this was not enough, if he gets in to a tight spot or a bit of a pickle he cannot win, he can just vanish and be placed in to ongoing reserves (so long as he's got the higher initiative, which he should most of the time).

His melee weapon gives him some tactical flexibility as every turn he can select between having some extra attacks, and other bonuses depending on whether he wants to rage at an individual, or avoid the mass of arms that a horde could bring. His armour is 2+/5+ with a deep strike disrupting ability to boot.

Depending on which version of him is being played, he'll either have some archeotech pistols, or a heavy bolter (that he wields as assault 3). Plus, he may or may not have his jump pack that can provide better hammer of wrath moves and vector striking.

The player can select between two modes of Corax, 100 points apart from one another. The worse one is the one without the jump pack and with the heavy bolter. This is to represent him in action after Isstvan V's events. If you're given the option and you're not playing fluffily, take the more expensive version. The jump pack is amazing with Corax and he is a literal monster with it.

I see his primary negative being his large points cost coupled with only a 5+ invulnerable save. He is really not going to like thunder hammer terminators and the like -- that invulnerable save makes Corax poor at soaking up incoming damage, unlike some of his brothers. You'd think Mars could have created something better for him.

Overall though, he's totally worth his cost. But he must be played wisely. Select the targets carefully, go to them and annihilate them, before moving on to the next target. And the next. And the one after. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Moritat-Prime Kaedes Nex

If there was ever a space marine that should have been part of the Night Lords instead of the Raven Guard, it is Nex. He was a condemned criminal on Kiavahr but found his pardon with Corax who offered him a new life so long as he only targeted prey that Corax selected. And so it began. Nex is obsessed with the hunt and the kill. He is a murderer and a very skilled one at that. Despite being a Moritat, he is shunned actively by everyone in the Raven Guard as an ill omen. Good job he likes it like that.

Nex excels at taking out particular targets. His first special rule (Relentless stalker) enables him to set up as an infiltrator (the last infiltrator to deploy at that as well) near to his target (an HQ or Elites enemy selection). On top of this, he gains zealot when in close combat against this target and when it is taken out, it is worth an extra victory point for the Raven Guard player. This can be an incredible way to turn the tide of a victory points based battle around and should not be over looked.

At range and in close combat (yes: in close combat at the S and AP listed) he can use his pistols. As well as being rending which is useful for taking out his targets, the pair of pistols he wields also has concussive. This can be invaluable as well. Personally, I think it is preferable to use them at range due to the BS of Nex. On top of this, he has the usual equipment for space marines as well as shroud bombs, refractor field and Cameleoline.

As he is ill omened, he cannot join a unit of any type. Yes: he is an independent character that cannot join any unit of any type. As might be guessed at, he also cannot be the warlord for the Raven Guard, nor can he be a compulsory HQ choice. These negatives are nothing really. He is not meant to be a team player - he is a singleton doing his master's will. He therefore needs to be played that way.

With only melta bombs to tackle adversaries like dreadnoughts, the prospect of taking them on is risky. Even though he has two wounds, he can be instant killed by power fisted dreadnoughts. Perhaps there is an argument for selecting ranged dreadnoughts for his target though.

Other than this, the main tactic is roughly the same as any moritat. Set up somewhere useful that is somewhat shielded from lots of incoming firepower and unlikely to be charged (at least initially). Then, shoot away and close for the kill if necessary. Don't forget the stealthy aspects of this HQ as well - he need not budge until the right moment. 
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