Friday, July 31, 2015

Rules of Yesteryear: 40k Modifiers to Hit based on Range

Back to Rogue Trader in today's post. In this earliest of editions of 40k, there were bonuses and penalties to hit your target based on your range. 

In the example below, the las pistol (which I also bet you didn't know had a nickname of "bloogers"?!) there is a bonus to hist of +2 if you're within 8 inches of the target, but a penalty to hit of -2 if you're between 8 and 16 inches away.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rules of Yesteryear: 40k Target Priority

The year is 2004, and the 4th edition of the Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook is released, alongside the Battle for Macragge (which had a whittled down version of the rulebook).

One of my fondest memories of this edition was the "target priority" rule.

It was an attempt to try to capture the sheer immediacy of battle. If a unit wanted to shoot at an enemy other than the closest one, it had to take a leadership check to be able to do so. I personally really enjoyed this rule, even if it did make the game slightly clunkier, as I felt it really captured what a tabletop war-game should be in essence.

The downside was that most units would have at least a leadership value of 9, meaning that these kinds of rolls were marginally pointless most of the time. Equally, in several tournaments, forcing my opponents to use this rule really saved my bacon a few times. So it is one of those rules that has really stayed with me. I genuinely liked it, and wouldn't mind seeing some kind of analogue to it reintroduced (if some way could be devised to do it so that it wasn't just another pointless dice roll!). 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rules of Yesteryear: 40k Vehicle Damage

Inspired by my post yesterday, I thought I'd pull out a few old rules that have long since been discarded. Today, we're going to take a quick, and very visual, tour of the old vehicle damage charts from 1992's "Vehicle Manual". The first picture is of the front cover of the manual.

These rules were released in White Dwarf prior to this publication, but feedback from the public and play testers modified it. Yes: seriously. People wrote letters using pen and paper and sent them to Games Workshop HQ. You don't have to believe me, the authors wrote exactly that in the introduction to this tome!

This next image explains what the system was ultimately all about. The overhead sheet! Basically, you put the crosshairs on where you are targeting on the vehicle (see the next image that shows a Rhino in the cross hairs). 

Here, I'm aiming for the fuel tank. We then proceed to hit (etc.) and you can read what happens next in the summary on the targeting grid.

If you got a palpable hit, then the charts on the reverse of the rhino's sheet would be consulted. The above is an example of what might happen if the fuel tank got hit. I like the 4-6 result of the tank essentially turning in to a heavy flamer! 

Equally, I can totally see why this entire system was got rid of. Its slow, unwieldy, too detailed, too labour intensive (imagine having a sheet for every tank, dreadnought, Tyranid big bug, and variant thereof) and frankly the current more abstract system just flows a whole lot better. 

I regard this as one of the prime examples of the rules changing over the years for the better. But I fear we have reached the stage where cutting back of 40k rules will happen once more as the rule book has become too bloated and the armies too complex. Just an opinion. Regardless, I hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane and found these images educational (they're reproduced here for just that purpose - please don't sue me GW!). And for those of you who've never seen this stuff before, I trust its been an eye-opener!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plastic Horus Heresy Marine Sprues

I freely admit to being an old-timer. I have Rogue Trader in my collection. I have very old RTB01 Space Marines in my collection. So when news (rumours!) of brand new plastic Horus Heresy marine sprues started to make itself heard, you can imagine my reaction.

To be perfectly honest, I've not been quite this excited about any given release in a long time! I will certainly be there demanding that they take my money to give my these plastic sprues for the Horus Heresy! (As usual, I won't link to these rumours, you are as capable as I am of using search engines to do that). I love what I'm seeing though. Mark IV armour with a wide range of accessories, and even the old missile launcher looking like its right out of the old RTB01 set. I'm amazed. And impressed. And want it to be launched now! (Well, maybe tomorrow will do). 

As for the other rumours. No more codexes in two years time? Probably plausible given what we're seeing in the Age of Sigmar. But for goodness sake, please let Forge World carry on with the Horus Heresy. They're doing a fabulous job at it. Split off 30k from 40k by all means, but give 30k directly to Forge World. Please! I regard it as the true spiritual successor to what 40k could be had the rules been written more betterer plus plus. As for 40k, the rules are becoming rather too complex and the expansions too many to cope with. Hence I do expect simplification and removal of a few things. Its part of the longer term cycle. Remember the overhead sheet that you used to use to determine where lascannon shots landed on vehicles? Yeah, thought you wouldn't. But that's kind of the level we're at at the moment - we need to get rid of a few things to make the game better so we don't mess up every turn because we can't quite remember some fiddly detail of a special rule and how it interacts (or not) with another special rule. 

Long live 30k! Long live 40k!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Relics of the Dark Age of Technology (3)

Continuing our examination and general tour of the relics of the Dark Age of Technology (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here), we now turn to the Legions themselves.

Pyrix Extasis (Dark Angels)
This is a psycho-distruptor that generates fear! Its a once per game effect to force a fear check for every unit engaged in a close combat (which may or may not be the entire enemy force depending on how you argue about the wording). I don't think its worth the points to be honest, unless you're somehow imposing a negative modifier to Ld. This is an artefact that would be much better suited to the Night Lords in my opinion.

Lucid Blade (Emperor's Children)
An S+1 power sword that has the special ability to parry - which is a mechanic to use some (unused) attacks to buff the wielder's invulnerable save. Its potentially good on a character you want to act as a tarpit. But that's not what the Emperor's Children should be aiming to do, I think.

The Blind Helm of the Black Judges (Iron Warriors)
Want 2d6 S=5 AP3 shots at full BS in overwatch? Then this is the relic for you! Best played defensively and probably inside a fortification -- this is one that could be useful (unlike the above two).

The Parthinian Serpent (White Scars)
This is actually a really good weapon, despite its description being like the bow from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon of yesterdecade. With sky fire, interceptor, precision shots and always used at full BS, its basically a hugely versatile heavy weapon. Expensive, but probably just about worth it for the right character.

Burning Claws (Space Wolves)
Look, its a Wolf Claw that has armour bane. I want to like it, but it is AP3 rather than AP2. Its okay for the points, but not amazing.

Indomitan Mantle (Imperial Fists)
Eternals warrior and a 3++ save against melta style weapons is nothing to sneeze at. Even if it is a cloak of chain mail from ancient Inwit times that makes a loyalist Imperial Fist look a bit more chaos-like.

Nostraman Mancatcher (Night Lords)
In effect this is a S+1 power weapon. It forces an opponent to lose attacks if a S test is failed. Its kind of cute, and fluffy for the Night Lords. But I'd still want an AP2 weapon to be honest. Equally, the ability to tarpit an enemy (a low S enemy) could be vital at the right turn of the game. Useful, if not outstanding.

Photonic Blade (Blood Angels)
This is a weapon that I would actually want to take with celerity. Not only does it have the vital AP2, but its assortment of secondary effects make it worth the points. Take it. With a jump pack!

Grav Gauntlet (Iron Hands)
A wrist-mounted template graviton gun. Love it!

The Earth Breaker Trident (World Eaters)
To be honest, a power fist is superior in close combat. But that's not the reason to judge it. It makes up for this by being able to be thrown by the wielder. The thrown is deadly: S10, instant death and AP1. Blimey! Better still, if it does kill, then a radius around it is treated as dangerous terrain for the remainder of the game! Double blimey! Take it, throw it, and see what happens. Because why not? Okay, the way not bit is the points cost. And that's something to weigh up here.

Gladius Invictus (Ultramarines)
A power sword that rends, gives an I bonus, and ignores shields sounds better than it is. This is simply because it will struggle against other characters and their 2+ armour save and good invulnerable save that may or may not come from a shield. I'm unconvinced about this relic to be honest.

The Barbaran Thurible (Death Guard)
This is a somewhat amazing and very powerful censor. It reduces the toughness of any none-Death Guard units within a close radius. Additionally, morale tests have to be taken when anyone dies - not just beyond 25%. Watch your enemies cry. Unless you're playing the Isstvan III campaign and/or facing a mirror match.

Luminiferous Resonator (Thousand Sons)
A ranged weapon that oddly compares Ld values rather than S to T values. I think this one is very situational and depends on the enemy faced. Cheap enough though.

The Cataphractii Primus (Sons of Horus)
Gaining eternal warrior is very nice. Having a bonus T against shooting is even nicer. The price is about right as well.

Conversion Dissonator (Word Bearers)
This one affects all invulnerable saves within 12" by imposing a -2 penalty, once per game. Give it to a Praetor who is kitted out for close combat duties and can readily take out 2+ armour and you're good to go. The only issue is that it affects everyone. Friend, Fiend and Foe! Beware.

Zeroth Conductor Shield (Salamanders)
Although it is not a storm shield, it does provide a huge deterrent to charging foes - d6 S8 AP2 hits is an immense amount of fire power to take at I=10. Well worth it for objective camping and any unit fearing being charged.

Fractal Harrow-Blade (Raven Guard)
Take alongside an AP2 weapon and you can then impose a slew of extra wounds when it comes to combat victories. Neat, and at a modest price. Equally, I'm not sure I'd bother unless you're not sure victory will be easy (you're playing Raven Guard and you want to do alpha-strikes - you should already have the equipment to do this arguably).

The Drakaina (Alpha Legion)
Where did they get this xenos technology from? Who knows? The reason to take this weapon is the flesh-phage rule that generates d6 T tests on any unit that suffered wounds from it in the previous turn. Give to a Moritat and get in the required range for the bad stuff to start happening. You have to weigh this up against a Nanyte Blaster though.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Relics of the Dark Age of Technology (2)

Continuing our examination of the relics of the Dark Age of Technology (Part 1 is here), we now turn to those artefacts that can be wielded by the Mechanicum and the Solar Auxilia.

Contagium Mechanica (Mechanicum Only)
One part heretical work, and one part wonder, depending which mechanicum sect you speak to. This is an anti-tank virus in much the same way as the Nanyte Blaster functions. Instead of having a typical weapon profile, it is simply a haywire profile with a short range. Cause a hull point of damage and not destroy a vehicle and it can jump to another vehicle within 12" of the original.

This makes it perfect for taking out large concentrations of enemy tanks fielded by (e.g.) enemy Mechanicum sects, or even the Iron Hands legion.

In terms of who to give it to, I suspect some kind of close combat Magos would be perfect, e.g. a Magos Reductor.

Cortica Primus (Mechanicum Only)
In essence, this device allows the user to cast their cybertheurgy powers on more than one model in a friendly unit, as well as acting as a cortex controller. This is great, but the draw back is significant: a misfire gets bonuses proportional to the number of extra models in the unit that was being targeted. Hence some caution needs to be employed in using this.

I'm a bit on the fence as to whether this one is worth it or not. Arguably the risk is rather high and a simple cortex controller may be better. But I can't quite resist the ability to boost an entire unit!

Metaphasic Reader (Solar Auxilia Only)
Although pricey, this relic grants interceptor to the unit that has it, PLUS any other unit within 12 inches of the first. Simply put, this is amazing. But it is also highly contextual. Against legions that are going to be coming in via drop pods (etc.), this can be absolutely devastating. It can therefore be the heart of a tactic by a Solar Auxilia player to ensure that their army is proof against such tactics, at the risk of being redundant against other types of armies. Might as well take this one really!

Apex Digital Weapon (Solar Auxilia Only)
This is one to avoid, in my opinion. The apex digital weapon is like other digital weapons but once per game can be fired as a heavy weapon like a lascannon. Considering the points that you invest for this once per game ability to fire a moderate BS heavy weapon shot at something, it just doesn't seem worth the points. Don't bother: take the Metaphasic Reader (above) or a Nanyte Blaster (or similar) instead.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Relics of the Dark Age of Technology (1)

The relics of the Dark Age of Technology are powerful artefacts that can be used within games by 30k army lists. The critical limitation with them is that they can only be used by a none-unique independent character. Hence, that means characters like Praetors and Consuls can use them, but Abaddon can not.

In this, the first part of a small series that will review these relics, we look at the generic relics available to all armies and legions, regardless of faction, or whether they are traitors or loyalists, or something else. 

Nanyte Blaster
Much has already been written about this blaster. In essence, it is a "grey goo" generator. The really amazing thing here is the uncontrolled replication rule. If this weapon causes a wound, then a large blast marker goes down and a further attack is made against everything under it on a roll of a 4+. This can be continued so long as something dies -- each casualty fuelling another large blast S5 AP2 template. 

This is profound. It can readily take out entire 20 man units of Tactical Squads. Due to the AP2 and high S, there is a very good probability that if it hits, it will wound. And should it wound, then there's a 50-50 chance that the uncontrolled replication rule will be activated. The only drawback is that it is an assault 1 weapon. Hence it wants to be in the hands of a shooting character. Said character also needs to get close due to the 12" range of the blaster. This puts the character in potential jeopardy too - the range of the large blasts needs to be thought about and positioning of the shooter is going to be critical if they are not going to fall to the blaster as well. Arguably the best character to give it to is a Mortitat. Alternatively, give it to someone in a drop pod, or a character that is going to deep strike early in the game. 

Warp Shunt Field
Somewhere between a void shield and a displacer field, the Warp Shunt gives an excellent 3+ invulnerable save to a character. But on top of this, it harms enemy units that shoot at it if the save is a 6+. Although this might be rare, it is made up for by having d6 shots go back to the enemy shooting unit. 

To me, this is an expensive relic, but is one that is without much risk either. Give it to a praetor or some kind of lone HQ selection who you think will be the target of incoming fire power. I'd personally prefer some other options to be honest.

This artefact gives the user the ability to walk through walls in the movement phase. Literally. The draw back is that they have to take a dangerous terrain test for each solid object they walk between. Equally, if there is a clear line of sight to the destination, they can simply redeploy there without any such rolls. 

Models with the "move through cover" special rule are the obvious use users for this artefact. In terms of characters, we probably want one that has a strong shooting attack, or flamer attack. So that probably means someone like a Mortitat or even a Death Guard character with a shredding flamer. Equally, it could be used on a scary character with a good save and / or toughness value who could survive a round of incoming fire and then charge in to the enemy.

Combat Augment Array
Once per game, this array grants the user an automatic roll of a 6. There are a number of options here, but for the price paid, it has to be something big and useful! Doubly so given that the drawback is to potentially suffer a number of wounds (on a toughness test) from using it.

A Praetor with a paragon blade is an obvious user of this technology. But to my mind, the best (worst?) use of this would be the combination to automatically explode tanks. This requires an Alpha Legion saboteur as well as Armillus Dynat to execute and is incredibly powerful (or broken). 

Cloaking Array
In some ways, this is a tough relic to deploy and put to use. For an entire game turn, the user becomes invulnerable -- although he cannot do anything, shoot anything, or perform any other action, he will be alive. 

I'm not entirely convinced by it to be honest. Perhaps use it on a character that is near to an objective on the latter turns of a game to ensure a contested objective. Perhaps on a deep striking character to survive until needed. Or a Mortitat once they've unleashed their chain firing. 

Void Shield Harness
This one is much more useful. It provides an AV 12 shield over a large blast template for anything from outside shooting inside. This means that any character (plus squad that they're attached to, like command squads) are going to be very very safe from incoming firepower. Unless its a melta, D-strength or otherwise high strength shot that might collapse the shield. It can be restored though, note. 

Put on a character you want to survive (or one that is already tough to kill). Put that character inside of something like a land raider. This may ensure that your opponent fails to gain slay the warlord at least. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wargames Gallery: Night Lords Land Raider

Snapped at a tournament earlier in the year (and not my model, let me emphasise). I very much like how the lightning bolts have been applied across the surface of the land raider -- a highly authentic Night Lords painting scheme that has been very well executed to say the least.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What happened to Slaanesh?

In some of the leaked background material for the Age of Sigmar, we are discovering that the chaos god Slaanesh is no more. His throne is empty. Why is this? 

Well, its looking like he was captured after becoming bloated with a feast of souls at the end of the world that was.

Here are some alternative memes as to what happened to Slaanesh that I've heard people utter when they knew his throne was empty, but wasn't sure he had been captured.  I'll keep it clean.

* He went to his bedroom.
* He was just in the toilet.
* He possessed Fulgrim, just for laughs.
* He was trying to get Isha back off Nurgle.
* He was just having a laugh and seeing how everyone would react to his empty throne.
* Its a trap. His empty throne is just a way to hurt someone. Like Tzeentch. Or the Masque.
* He's bored and has left the building.
* He is on a quest of some kind (cross-ref: Isha, above).
* He decided the ultimate experience could not be had by sitting on his throne.
* He is just joking around and playing mind games with people. Like Tzeentch.
* He's gone to Commorragh to sort out those Dark Eldar.
* He really is dead. Ynnead caused it. (Well done Eldar: your plan worked!).
* He was tricked in to leaving it by Cegorach.
* Khaine killed him. Secretly. With the help of Cegorach. Or the C'tan. Or Tzeentch (delete as appropriate).

Any others?, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Mechanicum Ceratus Knight-Lancer

As with the mechanicum Questoris Knight, we know that the mechanicum can be closely associated with many Knight worlds and familia. The Knight-Lancer is the second type of Knight that they are able to field.

Rather than present the relative strengths and weaknesses followed by builds (since there are none), I will again take the approach of detailing their main features and an overview of their battle field role.

The Knight-Lancer comes in at around the same points cost as a primarch. As such, one needs to evaluate whether these knights should be used in preference to something like a superheavy tank (especially in the case of playing a pure mechanicum force).

Visually, the Knight-Lancer is known for both its lance (of course!) as well as its shield. The latter - more accurately called the Ion Gauntlet Shield - gives a good invulnerable save in melee, as well as a general ion shield but cannot do anything for the rear of the model. Given the height of the model, this can be a drawback.

Unlike its knightly cousins, it lacks the firepower (with "only" 6 S7 AP2 shots), but makes up for it in being swift. Indeed, the goal of this knight should be to get stuck in to enemy monstrous creatures, or heavy targets (like terminators) and rip them apart with its D-strength lance (plus bonus initiative on the charge).

Overall, a bit more of a tactical knight than the others, and one that merits some thought as to its positioning in both set-up and during the game. 

Horus Heresy Review: Mechanicum Questoris Knights

The mechanicum is closely associated with many Knight worlds and familia. Therefore it is little surprise that they have access to Knights of their own to use on the battlefield.

Rather than present the relative strengths and weaknesses followed by builds (since there are none), I thought it would be better to point out their main features and an overview of their battle field role.

The first thing to note is that these machines are Lords of War. They're not going to be used in low points value battles. More significantly, the points cost is not exactly sky high like other Lords of War -- they come in at around primarch price levels.

The Questoris Knights have some nice Knightly equipment such as an ion shield and the (destructor-strength) reaper chainsword. But on top of this, the have an over-abundance of weapons. The battle cannon is well able to take out blobs of space marines with AP3 and large pie plates; the thermal cannon is excellent at just about anything; and the heavy stubber … is just a heavy stubber.

I consider the Questoris worth taking, particularly since a pure mechanicum army would not have a primarch. That said, I do wonder if a different superheavy might be a better option (better AV, more HP, sometimes more dakka).

Monday, July 13, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Krios Battle Tank Squadron

These battle tanks are well outside of regular STC constructions. If there is an analogue to the space marine legions, then the Krios might compare favourably to the predator tanks. That said, their turrets are simply not turrets, and they can move much better than predators.

If we start thinking that these tanks are analogues to predators, we can immediately start to see their use. They come in two main varieties: the regular Krios that is armed with a lightning cannon, and the Krios Venator that is armed with the Pulsar-Fusil.

The lightning cannon has a long range, and a 5 inch pie plate with both rending and shredding. Although the strength is "only" 7, this is more than sufficient to cause serious headaches to many enemy units. Clearly though, I think it is going to be a troop killer.

The Pulsar-Fusil variant is interesting in that it is an Ordnance 4 weapon that comes in at S9 and AP2. This is a real tank killer and arguably slightly better than a lascannon equipped predator due to more shots going off. But its range is less, at 36 inches.

Combined with a flare shield and the Blessed Autosimulacra rule, the Krios is arguably slightly better than a space marine legion predator (in my opinion).

There's not too many weaknesses here. It just depends on what set up you want for your tanks and how many in a squadron.

3 Krios Venator tanks (450 points)
A potent tank killing squadron. If you run out of tank targets, take on monstrous creatures or terminators (etc.). There's little not to like here other than the price tag if you're playing a 1500 points limit.

2 Krios tanks, anabaric claws, 2 volkite sentinels each (370 points)
A mixed purpose squadron. Roll up, using the lightning cannon, and pick off extra targets with the volkite sentinels. If enemy melta squads get too close, use the Anabaric claws. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Thanatar Class Siege-Automata Maniple

Of unknown pedigree apart from their Hellex plasma mortar which is known to come from the Forge World of Ryza, the Thanatar are the heavy siege robots from the Mechanicum.

Their stat line is powerful to say the least. With both S and T pegged at 8 and W=4, these robots are not going to be removed off the board in a hurry. Its certainly worth getting the Paragon of Metal rule if the controlling player is only playing one of these beasts - coupled with the atomantic shielding, it will ensure it is that bit harder to take off the board for the enemy.

The Hellex weaponry is also notable for its AP2, S8 large blasts. And that's before we mention the re-rolling of cover saves. Sure, its not got the raw strength of a vindicator round, but it will cause problems for almost anything other than a flyer in the game.

Poor WS. Poor I. Not exactly the fastest robot in the factory. Don't get them in to combat as although they'll do okay, they're not fabulous. They need to rely on their shooting. But what did we expect for a siege robot? These are weaknesses, but they're totally in line with expectations. Perhaps the price tag (of the order of a land raider) is something of a put off, but these robots could turn the tide of a battle.


Thanatar, Paragon of Metal, Search Light, Enhanced Targeting Array (291 points)
The maxed out version of this robot with paragon of metal. Its fairly easy to leave this one alone and let it ply its trade on the battle field. Take out a terminator squad every turn!

5 Thanatars (1200 points)
Sure, they're the basic version. But there's five of them. FIVE. Hope you're pumping out at least four vindicator shots on target every turn. Because other than D weapons, instant death weapons, and primarchs, they're going to survive most other things. The only real disadvantage is that they're a unit. I'd suggest splitting them up if you have free force organisation chart slots. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Vorax Class Battle-Automata Maniple

I got really excited when I first saw the model for these robots - they are a direct back-link and throw-back to the old Rogue Trader era robots!

In simple terms, these robots are the hunt-and-kill variety. Sleepless, tireless, but more insectoid in appearance, rather than humanoid. Cull human populations in times of famine, seek out degenerate machines on Forge Worlds, or put to war against xenos. They're equally effective.

The Vorax are both lighter and faster than their cousins. This is reflected in the fact they have scout and fleet. Set up in the right manner, this combination can lead to a deadly second turn assault.

More than this, their high toughness (T=6) coupled with 3 wounds each means that they have the staying power to overcome any shortfalls in their 4+ armour save. But that shortfall is a serious one.

As mentioned, the 4+ armour save is a real drawback here. But with careful positioning and a game plan, this can be mitigated. Their relatively low profile on the battlefield means that they should also be able to find cover regularly.

So what to do? My opinion is that they are just about viable, but I think one needs to examine their role carefully. I would be tempted to outflank a unit - either as a distraction or to take care of a back-line devastator squad. Rite of Celerity will also help with the I=4 issue as well. It just depends on how the rest of the army is set up.

All that said, I think a single model in one maniple is a good way to go here.

1 Vorax, frag grenades, irad-cleanser, paragon of metal (120 points)
Click and point, Sit back and enjoy the (programmed) result.

1 Vorax, frag grenades, enhanced targeting array (95 points)
Cheap, relatively speaking, and a bit of a distraction to enemy units.

5 Vorax, frag grenades (400 points)
Probably not worth while in terms of points expenditure. I include it here only as an illustration of what a large squad of these might look like. Don't play it. Use a single one instead (in my opinion). 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Ursarax Cohort

These beings are not servitors, they are thralls. Bonded to the machine with a reward of neural anaesthesia for the successful fulfilment of mission objectives, I personally pity the poor souls who were converted. But on the battle field, these guys are swift, deadly and make me want to invest in at least three vindicators. Just in case.

With T=5 and W=3, coupled with jump infantry rules, these guys are absolutely deadly. I'm a little torn on whether the standard lightning claws are better or worse than twin power fists. On the one hand, lightning claws are (probably) going to be better against space marine legion armies due to the increased wounds they will put out. On the other hand, the increased strength that power fists bring mean that they Ursarax can be more of a threat to other units. Either way: they're deadly.

Their ranged weapon is only a 10" range. But given that these thralls are jump infantry, the controlling player should at least be able to get off one shot before a combat. Within combat, they are a different thing entirely. They can get a blast attack at S6 and AP2 that gives instant death. Realistically, this is nothing that a pair of power fists could not (in most situations) also bring to bear. But its certainly a back up for the lightning claws armed thralls should they need an instant death option against a tough opponent.

They have great durability with T=5 and W=3 each. But they really need to look out for vindicator blasts, as well as D-class weapons that will surely hunt them down with priority.

3 Ursarax, each with two powerfists (185 points)
Something of a baseline build but able to take on both infantry and vehicles thanks to the power fists.

9 Ursarax, 3 with two powerfists and the rest with two lightning claws (455 points)
A full unit with hidden powerfists. This can take on many things in the game (and will make a paste out of legion warriors in all likelihood), but really needs to look out for vindicators early on.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Recent Forge World Releases - Thoughts

Today, an assorted collection of thoughts on the recent (and forthcoming) Forge World releases.

(1) Perturabo. 
Not actually for sale yet. But Wow. How crazily big, bulky and tall is Perturabo? He's a monster of proportions! And the sheer level of detail is matched by the previous releases of the likes of Ferrus Manus and the like. I'm very impresses, even if I'm not an Iron Warriors player. Iron without! Iron within!

(2) Kytan Daemon Engine of Khorne.
A smashingly good idea to provide a pair of legs here to the torso and head/arms of the Lord of Skulls. And it actually really works for me both from an aesthetic point of view, and an in-game the-Dark-Mechanicum-made-this point of view. Very impressive.  I wonder if a pair of legs will ever be released for the Plague Hulk upper portion? Just a random thought.

(3) Mars Pattern Warlord Titan.
Awesome, if you have GBP1240 lying around just going to waste and nothing better to spend cash on. I wonder how many of these beasts Forge World has managed to sell? I'm seriously impressed, but also very curious about their sales. It must be worth it to make the moulds (i.e. there must be the demand out there!). Lots of people earning serious cash in London I suspect.

(4) Alpha Legion Torsos and Heads.
As an Alpha Legion player, these are a bit of a binary hit-and-miss affair for me. I don't like the "alpha" helmet that looks like the marine has an over-sized maw. The corvus-like helmets are grand. The others are in the range of okay to good for me. The torsos are similar. I like the "delta" and "omega" ones. The triple omega one is kind of odd looking to me, as is the double "x" one.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Incompleteness in Age of Sigmar?

By now, many people have had a few games of the new Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. I think its fair to say that it feels very much like an incomplete game (or at the very least: AoS is just a precursor boxed set -- that's a much safer statement at least). The principle thing missing is a way to build armies that are balanced. At the moment, it read like "just agree with your opponent what to use". Of course, I do not think that this can last. Warscrolls need to come with a points value. Or at least something to say to people that there is an upper size to a unit. Imagine deploying a unit of 888 bloodletters? You can totally do that in Age of Sigmar and its only one war scroll. It seems a bit on the too-hard-to-believe side.

The second thing that is apparent is the much lower level of complexity involved in playing the game compared to its predecessor. No longer a vast rules book, but simplfied rules contained on each war scroll instead. This makes for a strong move away from the traditional game, to something entirely new for Games Workshop: the provision of rules alongside the models as they're released. And indeed: the entire back-catalogue of miniatures now have war scrolls available to download from Games Workshop, as well as even scenery for the game. This could be awesome, or it could seriously put off veteran gamers. I just don't know which way its going to go at the moment. 

My personal hope is that the warhammer line survives and prospers. But to do that, they're going to need a much smarter rulebook, a balance brought to the core game, and one that caters to the older gamers in the community, not just the younger ones who may not have played anything outside of "bring everything and we'll see what happens". 

At the moment, its just Apocalypse for fantasy and a back-catalogue of war scrolls to enable older players to keep playing the models that they have in their collection (cf. the image!). At least they have caught my interest though. And if they have my interest, then they also have many other players too.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Triaros Armoured Conveyor

This is the dedicated transport for the Taghmata Omnissiah Mechanicum. As might be expected for a Mechanicum transport, it is not a simple thing. Based on ancient technologies never shared with the other half of the Imperium, this transport has a killer front end that is literally capable of smashing things to oblivion, as well as having a large capacity.

The carrying capacity of this one is high, at 20 models. Coupled with a AV=14 on the front means that your models are very likely to get to where you want them to be. Unlike Rhinos! On top of this, the flare shield comes as standard to improve the transport's durability and frustrate high S incoming fire power.

The shock ram is an interesting addition. By raising the front armour to AV=15 for ramming, this transport can be used in a very aggressive manner by the controlling player. More than that though, the addition of a free haywire roll when ramming means that this tank creates a whole new play style for the mechanicum that is rarely seen elsewhere. Several of these transports criss-crossing the battle field at top speed will put a halt to other armies ground tanks by the middle turns of a game (with a bit of luck thrown in, of course). Even a regular tank shock against infantry can be deadly with d6 S6 hits happening.

More significantly, the shock ram that provides all these extra rules is not an actual weapon. It can therefore never be removed from the tank by incoming firepower.

Not too many weaknesses here really. Even the volkite weaponry is very reasonable, as is the mauler bolt cannon. Arguably even the price is not bad either! Equally, the Mechanicum player is not going to be using as many of these as a Space Marine player uses rhinos.

Triaros Armoured Transport, Blessed Autosimulacra (140 points)
I think this is the baseline unit. The blessed auto simulacra is there to give it a chance of getting back some of the (four!) hull points if it loses any, and its a cheap upgrade so should be taken. Any other upgrades are to taste really. Place Secutors or Destructors inside and go about your business!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Castellax Class Battle-Automata Maniple

These robots have long featured at the forefront of the Mechanicum's armies. So much so, that some in the Imperium saw them as a sleeping threat should Mars ever decide to break away from the deal struck with the Emperor. The Heresy quashed that in short order though.

There are some amazing stats associated with this unit, not least the T=7 characteristic. That's going to take some beating. And recall: these robots are troops as well, hence they can be taken lots of times in an army (but they don't score as they're classed as support units). Its going to take something special from the likes of space marine legions to be able to reliably combat them, and if not: specialist units that should probably be firing at other targets. They are therefore a great threat on the battlefield in my opinion. Add in to this that fact that they have 4 wounds each, and you can see what a headache these monstrous creatures actually are.

On top of this, they can be configured in a number of ways. Melee can be achieved with power blades, and a ranged tank killer can be made with some dark fire cannons.

The significant weakness here are that these guys are support squads. Arguably the low WS may be an issue, but in reality, I think they're going to do just fine in close combat due to their W, S and T characteristics. Of course, the cortex cybernetics is a draw back, so you'll need a cortex controller somewhere on the field of play as well.

Just a couple of builds here to whet one's appetite. Others are certainly possible.

5 Castellax, three with two battle-automata power blades, frag grenades (480 points)
I've kept a couple of the castellax here with their shock chargers, just for the concussive special rule that they have. There's very little not to like here - apart from getting them in to combat to do the damage. Equip with flamers to taste, and possibly siege wreckers too depending on the mission / likely enemy.

3 Castellax, all with Dark Fire Cannons, Enhanced Targeting Arrays (360 points)
This is the shooting maniple of death! With a penalty to cover saves, a higher BS, and high strength weapon that pumps out 6 shots at S7 every turn, this is a unit to fear.

1 Castellax, Multi-Melta, Frag Grenades, 2 Flamers, Paragon of Metal (135 points)
A very reasonable price to pay for a dreadnought-like robot togo stomping around the battlefield looking for targets to take out. A threat. Or a distraction, as required. Note that programmed behaviour is not such an issue for this build, he may not need a cortex controller nearby. I'd like to hear from anyone who's done without a controller to hear how it turns out :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Adsecularis Covenant

The Adsecularis are tech-thralls created by the Mechanicum. Cyborgs moreso than servitors, these beings are in essence just slave labour. For the Mechanicum in the time of war, they are meat shields - both expendable and armed. Albeit, they're not human much any longer.

They're cheap. As in dirt cheap, like chaos cultists or something like that. They also have S=4, matching space marines due to all their augmentation presumably. They do get a 6+ feel no pain roll in addition to this though. This can clearly be synergized with units like Lacyraematra tech-priest Auxillia.

They're cheap for a reason. Low Ld, coupled with most other statistics being around the 2 mark (apart from T=3). And a bit of a poor saving throw. Their threat range is not too big either - the las locks at best have a range of 18 inches.

Its probably best to go large here. But an basic squad is also viable as a meat shield for the points!

10 Tech-Thralls (35 points)
The basic unit to be used as a meat shield.

20 Tech-Thralls, frag grenades, heavy chain blades, Rite of Pure Thought,  Revenant Alchemistry (130 points)
No longer dirt cheap, but they are fearless, have a better feel no pain roll and are built for close combat. The only issue is getting them there now. Take carapace armour if you think it'll make much difference for them.

20 Tech-Thralls, Induction Chargers (80 points)
Assault 2 weapons with lots of bodies on the ground. Not too bad.

20 Tech Thralls, Mitralocks, Rite of Pure Thought, Revenant Alchemistry (105 points)
For shredding!

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