Monday, November 30, 2015

Painting Alpha Legion Snipers 2. Metallic Blue

When "Extermination" came out, a lot of people were impressed with the rich azure blue and metallic blues that were seen for the Alpha Legion marines contained therein. The colours of the Alpha Legion have traditionally been many and varied - ranging from purples to blues, to silver, and even green and red in some very old publications! I personally liked the painting of Forge World's contemptor dreadnought for the Alpha Legion and initially wanted to emulate what they had done - but perhaps a bit more moodier or darker.

To achieve this, I tried out a VAST number of recipes, including even using nail polish / nail varnish to try to achieve the tone and level of sparkle that I desired. Let me say for the record that working with nail polish was very tough indeed -- it dries far too fast to be useful and the brushes that they come with are simply no good for detail. So don't do what I did and ruin a paint brush trying it out.

In the end, what I turned to was Vallejo paints. And one in particular: Gunmetal Blue (pictured). 

Using my airbrush, I went over the rune fang silver base layer with a thinned down gunmetal blue layer. Note the words: thinned down. In order for the silver layer to (literally) shine through, it needs to be relatively thin. One way to consider this is that its always better to be too thin as then one can apply extra layers on top to thicken it up. But if a thick layer is placed on top, it is impossible to thin it down without starting over again. Hence the advice here is to go thin and do multiple coats if needed. 

For the snipers, I applied a thin coat and then doubled up on the lower regions to give a richer colour (darker and a bit less silvered) on the legs compared to the zenith direction. The photo does not quite do it justice, but there is a certain twinkle there that can be seen in the paint.

Whilst I was at it, I also did an Alpha Legion Tartaros terminator (below) to get a better feel for zenith-applied gunmetal blue. The shine on this with the lights is terrific. I really like how they all look, but will now wait until they are all fully dried before proceeding to the next level of detail application.

Painting Alpha Legion Snipers 1. Airbrushed Basecoat

The next few posts from me will be featuring a (semi-) live blog series of how I'm going to go about painting my Alpha Legion Snipers. For a very long time, I have been experimenting off-and-on about how to get the paint scheme that I want for my growing Alpha Legion forces and I'll be sharing it in this series of posts, step by step.

The models I'm going to be using for this are my Reconnaissance Squad -- a squad of five Alpha Legion snipers armed with prohibited necron weapons that I've kit-based and converted from a variety of sources. What makes these models stand out even before any paint has been applied to them is their load out: a series of necron death mark gauss-based weapons coupled with Dark Angels hooded heads. Perfect for what I'm envisioning here.

Links to several of these models can be found here: [ One | Two | Three ]

Although I thought about painting these guys in dark / blend-in or camouflage colours, in the end I decided to opt for core Alpha Legion colours and let the capes do the job for "blending in" or "camouflage". I have a particular plan for the camo that will be coming later on in the series.

Here, the first two steps are done using an air brush. They're relatively simple in essence:
(1) undercoat using black;
(2) base coat using silver.

I use an airbrush as it provides a nicely thin layer that preserves the details of the miniature's sculpt very nicely and allows me to control the paint being dispersed much more accurately. If you've never used an airbrush for painting miniatures before (and I hadn't until 2014), then I thoroughly recommend it.

For the under coat, there are multiple options available of course. I've seen many people use grey spray cans and the like, but I still prefer black these days since as long as it gets in to all the recesses the job is done. Moreover, it also means that the next coat need not be 100% perfect or 100% coverage - the black in the recesses will serve a shading purpose if nothing else.

For the base coat, there are lots of different options in sliver these days. Here, I've used a combination of rune fang and lead belcher from citadel paints. The first base coat was simply a combination of these two paints all over the model. The second part of the base coat featured using pure rune fang steel (a very bright and vibrant silver) over the upper parts of the models. This effectively provides an azimuthally bright region for the next coat to go on top on and is something that I feel is essential to pulling off a metallic looking Alpha Legion layer in the next step. The image below shows the models at this stage. More later!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Alpha Legion Assault Squad Sergeant

This is a wide-scale kit-bash, featuring parts from all over the place and is intended to be an Assault Squad Sergeant for a Pre-Heresy Alpha Legion force. The components are as follows:

Head: Chaos Space Marines troops;
Torso: Resin Mk.II power armour from Forge World;
Legs: Chaos Space Marines raptors (I removed the spikier bits to de-chaotify it a little bit);
Arms: Space Marine troops;
Thunder Hammer: Dark Angels (Raven Wing);
Plasma Pistol: Space Wolves Grey Hunters;
Shoulder Pads: Space Marines;
Jet Pack: MaxMini Iron Pattern.

What I'm ultimately gunning for here is a unique looking miniature which could double up as (e.g.) a Chaplain or alternative Legion Consul. Hope you like it!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wargames Gallery: Age of Sigmar Portals

This is a picture that I took whilst at Games Workshop Manchester, but omitted to put in the said post. It features the Age of Sigmar starting set with eight portals all in a circle on a realms of battle board. I was very impressed with all the colourful portals and the set up it had. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Games Workshop Manchester (Central)

In the heart of Manchester (UK) lies the Arndale Centre. Boasting some 41million visitors per annum, the Arndale Centre is the third largest shopping mall in all of Europe, located in the extensive retail district of the city. 

As you can imagine, such a mall sees a large amount of footfall. The Games Workshop store is located inside the mall, but near one of the outer edges on the first floor, next to Boots (a British chemist chainstore) and a bridal store. The first picture below shows the store front. 

The store itself is very spacious inside (depth wise) and has a lot of room for gaming tables and more besides. The next image below shows one of the displays in the window (on the right from the above image):

Yes. Its a TITAN. A large dakka-ing titan. In the window of GW Manchester. Hats off ladies and gentlemen, you stunned me with that before I even went in to the store.

And then I went in to the store and was greeted by not only very enthusiastic staff, but also some seriously good displays:

Seriously -- check out that second one -- totally worthy of a display in Nottingham itself I'd think!

More than that, check out the Apocalypse sized gaming table toward the back of the store as well:

Blown Away. 

So totally impressed with you Games Workshop Manchester! Congratulations not only on your staff who were polite, friendly, talkative (but not pressuring like other localities), but your displays were amazing. 

I hope to get to Nottingham one day, but you guys rocked the Games Workshop high street retail store experience for me. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Roboute Guilliman

Thanks to the Black Library books, we now know that the Primarch of the Ultramarines should have his name pronounced as Roe-BOO-Tay Gill-Uh-Man. Beyond that, Tempest gives the 30k overview of the primarch that much has already been written about. Surprisingly to me, he got a little bit more grim-dark than how he has been portrayed in 40k. Specifically, he is noted to have run a kind of secret police to ensure the 500 worlds were loyal. Sure, he was intelligent, and conquered many worlds (second only to the Sons of Horus) and left them easy targets for the iterators to install the Imperial Truth in.

On the tabletop, Guilliman is both a force multiplier, and a character that can handle himself in one-on-one combat situations.

For the former, he increases all of his sons Ld values by one notch whilst providing any unit he joins with some valuable bonuses. This alone argues that Guilliman should have a command squad (or equivalent) around him.

He is able to mess around with the opposition in a comparable (but not as complete) way as Alpharius is capable of. This includes the forcing of seize the initiative rolls to be re-rolled. He can grant a a single unit entry in his detachment one of implacable advance, interceptor or tank hunters. Clearly this can be a great boon for his army and I would strongly council having options for each of these choices that does not already possess it (e.g., lascannon equipped heavy support squads for either tank hunting or interceptor (similarly for all predator units); dreadnoughts other than mortis ones for interceptor, and so forth). I think this is a great boon that needs careful planning about what units will come on to the board with this primarch.

Should he need it, he actively learns during combat and increases his WS by one every round after the first up to WS=10 after the fourth round. This will re-set though if someone else challenges him. On top of this, he never suffers negative Ld modifiers due to deny the witch. Hence he's capable of standing up to even Lorgar. But perhaps not Lorgar plus blessings.

For his one-on-one combat he has 2+/4+ armour to rival both Vulkan and Perturabo. This allows him to re-roll the first failed invulnerable save in each phase (not turn: phase!). For weapons, he has two specialist ones: a paragon blade that shreds up enemies and has murderous strike, coupled with a concussive "hand of dominion" for S10 AP1.

Unlike some of his brother, he also has a ranged weapon in the form of "The arbiter". Although only 18 inch range, it does have a valuable AP3. Pity it is not AP2 to be fair though. Hence I can see him loaning his BS to an attached unit thanks to his Cognis Signum.

Although he can handle himself in a fight, he is vulnerable to swarms due to his low number of attacks. Hence the only way to play him is as part of a bigger unit. He needs his sons around him and this is arguably going to be something like an Invictarus squad (which along with terminators, he makes count as troops).

His is certainly worth his points cost. In many ways he is an analogue of Alpharius (which may explain why they didn't get along). Alpharius does the army buffing much better, but Guilliman does the individual combat much better.

Take him as part of a large squad and deploy him accordingly. Use the Cognis Signum to help with shooting. Aim to take out any and everything short of Horus embedded in a unit of Justaerin Terminators.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Damocles Command Rhino

Demonstrating that the Ultramarines are capable of innovation, the Damocles is effectively a special communications tank capable of many nifty features, but is ultimately still a rhino chassis.

Not scattering within a large radius when deep striking in to play; allowing the controlling player to tweak their own reserves rolls by +/-1; causing more serious deep strike mishaps to enemies; and a bombardment to top it all off!

The last of these is critical: a S8 AP3 large blast is terrific, even if its only once per game. A few of these kind of blasts from other sources can be a game changer for obvious reasons.

In an army that is dependant on deep striking (and perhaps messing around with enemy reserves -- see Remus Ventanus, or Alpha Legion Rite of War) it can be a great asset.

Note: Ultramarines can carry two of these in an army list as a unique bonus, the second coming from a dedicated transport choice for a Master of Signal.

This tank is still a rhino. It still has AV=11 and suffers accordingly.

Damocles (no upgrades).
This tank is worth the costs so long as you manage to get off the focused bombardment in early turns.

Damocles, extra armour, hunter-killer missile (120 points).
A bit more upgraded, with a fun missile and a bit more durability. Add in a dozer blade to taste depending on your own preferences and play style. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Captain Remus Ventanus

Remus Ventanus of the Ultramarines made a name for himself on Calth. Gathering the remnants of the 4th to him, he allowed the surviving tech-priest to finish regaining control of the orbital defence grid and then went straight on the rally the Ultramarines in an impressive fight back against the Word Bearers. In the later underground war, he became known as the Saviour of Calth and his name rings through the background history of 30k because of it.

Ventanus puts enemy players at a disadvantage by toying with their reserve rolls by one pip negatively, at the expense of the enemy player being able to re-roll.

His warlord trait allows Ultramarines to gain the stubborn rule when they're basically on top of an objective. This is a great boon for the team and can be a late-game game winner for the Ultramarines.

Along with a legion standard, nuncio vox, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Fundamentally, he still has only a 3+ armour save. In effect, he is a legion centurion with the bog-standard power sword and bolt pistol combination. Its nothing to write home about to be honest. Controlling players should therefore regard him as a cheap-ish HQ - or a legion centurion with master of the legion rule.

Ventarus allows two things to happen. The first is that he can cause the Ultramarines to have two legion standards on the board at once (when combined with a command squad or Invictarus squad). Secondly, he can mess around with the enemies reserves. This is superbly effective in concert with a land raider proteus upgraded with exploratory augury web. Add in a Damocles command rhino and it starts to look bad for enemies that are relying on deep strikes!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Fulmentarus Terminator Strike Squad

One day, Guilliman looked around and deigned to notice his brother, Perturabo and his Iron Warriors. He saw his Tyrant Siege Terminator Squads and decided that it looked good. And in a very none-40k move decided to adopt it. And make it better. Because that's the kind of thing that went down in 30k. Innovation. Sharing of ideas. And so forth.

At a base level, these marines are cataphractii terminators with power mauls, combi-bolters and something that is called a "Peritarch targeter". To be clear, the Peritarch is not the missile launcher system that the Tyrant Siege Terminators have -- its just the targeter. To get the cyclone missile launcher, you have to pay extra. Or perhaps you'd like reaper autocannons instead.?

The Peritarch has advanced solutions the depend on the entire squad making scanning sweeps of the battlefield. It therefore functions at higher levels of operation the more models there are in a squad. At or above 8, cover saves are diminished by one pip. At or above 5, tank hunters. At or above 2, night vision. It therefore means that having a full strength squad is a must here to be maximally effective. Other than that, the Peritarch is basically a cyclone missile launcher.

And I almost forgot to state that these marines have increase BS which means they're going to be hitting more than they're brothers on average. Compared to the Iron Warriors they're based on, these Ultramarines are going to be much better at taking out tanks. But not better against buildings.

I don't rate the power mauls well. I would therefore encourage players to think about upgrading to power axes - which are free - when they build their squads for the valuable AP2 they provide. A power sword could be entertained as well, but an axe is probably what they want to be wielding.

These guys are also heavy support squads and not elites. They're not going to be holding positions.

Other than that, they don't have a great range of upgrades. No combi-plasmas -- only meltas. No chainfists - only power fists. And they get expensive very quickly. The price issue is what is they big draw back here. I feel other squads can do similar things better and more efficiently.

There are a number of ways to build this squad, depending on what you want to do with it. Here are some ideas.

5 Fulmentarus, all with combi-meltas, power fists (275 points).
Take with a land raider proteus, or in an army capable of deep striking them in to play. The melta is there to take care of tanks on the turn they enter play (i.e. they still have tank hunters and have not lost any members). The fists back this up and help mop up any contents. They're also rather good against enemy terminators. Do not forget interlocking tactics here -- its great! This squad is worth it, but arguably a base terminator squad is more points effective.

10 Fulmentarus, all with cyclone missile launchers, power axes (700 points).
The maximum squad. But look at the cost. Realize that they can take out the equivalent of a land raider every and each turn. But then look at the cost again. Is it worth it? I'm not sure. Add in combi-meltas for each of them to take the cost up to 750 points and realise they can and will take out land raiders every turn. Ouch. Both on the effect and the price. The Iron Warriors do it better at this point to be honest. Consider taking half their number if you can do without affecting cover saves and just want one round of shooting to take out a valuable enemy tank (via tank hunters).

10 Fulmentarus, all with reaper auto cannons, power axes (600 points).
The issues above remain here, but the reaper auto cannons are slightly different in strength overall. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Locutarus Storm Squad

These are the Ultramarines' vanguard: the best of the assault squads selected to form their own squads of elite jump-pack equipped fighters who excel in the timing and application of pistols and swords. I feel they could have made very good Emperor's Children personally (apologies to Ultramarines players).

When these marines arrive on the board of play from deep strike, they get to use all their pistols twice in an opening salvo. This is powerful, potentially, but can be somewhat over-rated depending on how they land. Hence this is balanced by having a precision intervention that allows them to re-roll their deep strike roll should they wish to.

The other main distinguishing feature here is the presence of power swords and a 2+ armour save due to every one of them having artificer armour. This is a great boon for an assault squad and turns them from something that is simply okay and a potential to take, into something that is totally worth considering spending the points on to my mind.

Not many weaknesses really, other than the random nature of deep striking in to play.

A few builds to consider.

10 Locutarus, strike leader with power axe (285 points)
This actually only costs a little bit more than standard assault marines and is therefore the baseline squad. The power axe provides a valuable AP2 for the leader.

10 Locutarus, 2 hand flamers, strike leader with hand flamer and power axe (315 points)
Very much a dedicated flamer squad. Aim for taking enemies out of cover with this one when you get 6 flamer shots when you come on to the board.

10 Locutarus, 2 plasma pistols, strike leader with plasma pistol and power fist (335 points)
Getting pricier now, but the plasma pistols give 6 plasma shots on deep strike and the power fist gives S8 attacks. A lightning claw can be substituted here to taste. Add in a combat shield if required on the leader. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Betrayal at Calth: Miniature Bits

In the image below are the miniatures bits for a squad of ten space marines in Mark IV armour taken from the Betrayal at Calth board game. I hope this (cut sprue) image will be of use to people looking for bits of their own.

Some of the things that stand out to me are (in no particular order):
The multi-part missile launcher and heavy bolter;
Two bare-heads (one clean shaven which will look good for Alpha Legion players; the other with an ocular implant; others with studs);
Front torso for a commander;
Different legs many of which with "Heresy" era studs;
Four shoulder pads with Heresy era studs on;
A combi-weapon;
and all important specialist guns! (pity I need several more of these for a support squad really!).


Monday, November 16, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Honoured Telemechrus

A decade in to service, and this marine found himself interred inside a contemptor. Although he slumbered when the Betrayal at Calth happened, the sheer level of violence woke him up and he then had to figure out how to master fighting as a dreadnought.

The bonus that Telemachrus gains to assault resolution can be game changing in many situations - particularly tar-pitting situations for nearby Ultramarines Legion units.

His hatred of traitor forces is a nice touch and very fluffy.

The equipment he comes with is fairly standard, as with other named contemptors such as Rylanor and nothing particularly to write home about. At least the Kheres and fist combination is tactically flexible. And the d3 hammer of wraths on the charge is very nice indeed.

Being resilient is the icing on the cake by forcing re-rolls of damage results.

Note that Telemachrus does not have the Ultramarines Legion special rules. Hence he does not grant the combat resolution to himself. Therefore he is vulnerable to tar pitting himself.

There are not options here, so I won't bother with build combinations. Overall, Telemechrus is a solid choice, if not an outstanding one. If you're going to be purchasing a contemptor dreadnought for an Ultramarines Legion force, then Telemechrus is actually a good option thanks to his buffing of nearby units for combat resolution and sweeping advances. I regard him as worthwhile and characterful, but he must be at the forefront of the combat along with other Ultramarines. He therefore will need some kind of drop pod to get him where he needs to be in all likelihood.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Invictarus Suzerain Squad

The Invictarus Suzerains serve Guilliman in a direct manner, rather than going through the usual chain of command that the Ultramarines Legion is known for. In effect, they are Guilliman's chosen: selected for special roles and armed appropriately. They are selected for greatness, and in effect this warrior cadre is for those marines who are in command training to a greater or lesser extent.

These space marines not only have an extra pip in WS, but all are armed with Legatine Axes -- that means an AP2 weapon going at initiative with a chance to automatically wound on a natural roll of a 6. This is very powerful considering that most other AP2 weapons go at I=1 in melee (e.g., terminators with power axes). Continuing the terminator analogy further, these guys are simply better due to not being bulky, having grenades, boarding shields, and being able to sweep enemies. In addition, their armour is 2+ which makes them the equivalent of terminators in terms of raw armour save.

Their special rules shine as well. The bonus to Ld for units within 12" due to Lords of Ultramar is fantastic. As well, they are chosen warriors and able to be taken as command squads as well (in which case they swap out their shield for a legion standard).

They share a lot of the same features as terminators. Hence they need to look out for AP1 weapons from things like vindicators (as well as certain Mechanicum units in general).

Possibly a weakness is the only dedicated transport available is a land raider. In a small points value game, one would probably want something different. Equally, not being terminators, they are not bulky and therefore take up less room in transports.

There are a couple of upgrades here: plasma options, thunder hammers, as well as extra bodies. Here's a few ideas.

10 Invictarus Suzerains (450 points)
One curious thing here is that extra Suzerains cost more than the baseline squad. Hence for this build, it is CHEAPER to purchase two lots of 5 marines, rather than a squad of 10. This bucks the general trend in 30k of having cheaper stuff for larger members.

5 Invictarus Suzerains, all armed with Thunder Hammers (275 points)
Fairly straight forward swap of Legatine Axes for thunder hammers to be deadly to a wider range or targets in the game. I actually like this build a lot and could see my Alpha Legion stealing it for Coils of the Hydra!

5 Invictarus Suzerains, all armed with plasma pistols (275 points)
Take a dreadclaw drop pod (or equivalent) and team up with an HQ selection to burn righteous plasma death upon landing to foes all around.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Betrayal at Calth Display

A big picture today featuring a display of the new board game, Betrayal at Calth, as snapped in a Games Workshop store.

Although I haven't purchased the game, I'm going to get at least some of the tactical marines from the boxed set to mix in with my other Alpha Legion forces that are growing larger...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Ultramarines Legion Rules

Background Material Evaluation.
The background for the Ultramarines is what can be expected for this most glorious of legions. Not satisfied with simply conquering and destroying, the Ultramarines were a legion very keen on rebuilding an empire once intransigent leaders and popuplaces were subdued. In addition to this, it is noted in numerous locations within Tempest and other Horus Heresy sources that the Ultramarines legion is the largest of all the legions, larger than even the Word Bearers.

There are many little Easter Eggs and gems contained within Tempest about this legion. This includes for instance the existence of a lot of "Chapters" that would later be formed in to 40,000 chapters from the gene-seed of Roboute Guilliman such as the "Aurorans".

More than this, their domains cover an entire sector, popularly referred to as the 500 world. For this reason, and their relative strength, Horus calculated correctly that a hammer blow had to be landed against them to take them out of the coming civil war. The Word Bearers would be the ones to do this at Calth, and the World Eaters would later join them in the Shadow Crusade.

Legion Rules Review.
The Ultramarines special rules reflect that they will eventually become the prime example of codex space marines in 10,000 years time. They result in the Ultramarines being a curious hybrid of 30k and 40k space marines, but neither wholly. They lack the specialisations of other legions, but make up for it by being able to be good at most things.

Their first rule is Interlocking Tactics. This means that to wound rolls & armour penetration rolls of "1" can be re-rolled if a target has already been hit, and other units charging in must re-roll their charge distances if they don't make it in to close combat. This begs the Ultramarine player to take small units that are going to usually hit their target (even if they don't necessarily harm or can harm it). For example, a legion reconnaissance squad would be perfect to set this up with. Take a minimum number, and have them hit the target. Then go all out with a fully armed and upgraded unit (maximum tactical squad with Fury of the Legion perhaps, or how about lots of volkite shots from a support squad, or even lascannons from a heavy support squad against a tank that was merely hit by a sniper rifle?!). 

Certainty and Resolve means that the Ultramarines are taking fear and regrouping rolls on the maximum Ld of 10. This can be really useful should they be up against Night Lords for instance. 

Given how amazing these two rules can be, they have a counter balance in the form of a Rigid Chain of Command. Should all HQ units be slain, the enemy gains +1 victory points. This is kind of an analogue of what can happen to the Alpha Legion in some ways. But it is actually worse. If the warlord is slain, then all units without an independent character must take a pinning test. This can be crippling (recall that the Ld of space marines isn't always 10! -- several units will fail here and this can completely alter the course of a battle). Naturally, one way around this is to take multiple HQs. Ensuring some Centurion is knocking around is therefore a good idea for the Ultramarines in addition to their primary HQ selection.

Selecting between all the forms of power weapons, Guilliman came up with the Legatine Axe. This is a terrific AP2 axe that goes at initiative and a hit of a "6" automagically wounds! This is well worthwhile for an independent character and worth the points cost. Do it.

The Mantle of Ultramar is for praetors only and gives an artificer save as well as feel no pain. This is in addition to blindness immunity (should you be facing some Iron Hands' Gorgon Terminators).  Its cost is moderate and probably worth it just for the feel no pain bonus (just). 

Rite of War.
The Logos Lectora is an interesting rite of war that merits thought as to whether a player should take it or not. On the one hand, it can certainly provide of quantum of versatility and a special rule when it might matter most. But the downsides are steep including no deep striking and infiltrating. Yet the ability to reroll some runs, make snap shots on a higher BS and gain counter-attack could be huge. It just depends if the player is willing to take the hit in terms of army building capacity which can be significant (and might mean a legion player using the Alpha Legion or Raven Guard could readily gain a great edge over them).

Summing Up.
The special rules associated with the Ultramarines calls for at least some of the army to be composed of small units. And several of them. This "multiple small unit" approach will be familiar to many Warhammer 40,000 list builders and players across numerous editions. But here in 30k, its something of an anomaly where going big is usually the way forward since it provides more things for cheaper points. Therefore some balance has to be built in. A few small recon squads for activating interlocking tactic's bonus to hit with ranged weapons seems sensible. Add to this some maximum squads to take out tanks highlighted by the recon squads, or volkite spamming units to take care of infantry and you get the idea. A tar-pitting unit like terminators may also sound good for taking on large enemy squads to gain a bonus for others to pile in, but I don't think this is the way to go here -- focus on the shooting and take out enemy units sequentially. 

The main weakness here is some inflexibility. Against hordes, the Ultramarines are not going to do so well in all likelihood. And spare points to spend on nice upgrades might be limited since there is going to be multiple small units that chew up points (as opposed to expanding already existent units). This needs a careful approach to balancing an army.

All this said, the Ultramarines are a force to be reckoned with. Just because they're the "vanilla" chapter in Warhammer 40,000, they can still really shine in 30k. Focus on taking out enemy units with shooting one unit at a time by highlighting said unit with something like a recon squad and rinse and repeat. Combine this with some (rather good!) melee units that are specific to the legion and its a good basis for a force. Add in some tanks (or ally with Solar Auxilia, or Iron Hands) and you're good to go. Just beware of other legions being able to be more specialised than you, and then play to your strengths against them. 

And finally, laugh at the Night Lords legion and their fear tactics (should you get the opportunity) when you tell them about Certainty and Resolve!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Ceratus Knight-Acheron

The Acheron is a Knight built for massacre. Being on the battlefield can mean only one thing: the enemy is to be scoured from existence in purifying flame. And therein is the purpose of the Knight - lots of fire.

Clearly the hell storm ranged flame cannon is the chief weapon here. This means that the Knight needs lots of smaller opponents at reasonably close range. The Acheron is therefore a Knight that wants to get reasonably close and personal with an enemy for battle.

The Reaper chain fist encourages this style of play, designed as it is to rake on enemy tanks with a class D weapon that also ensures a "1" is rerolled on the destroyer damage table.

This is not a Knight that can be held back on the rear of the deployment zone. It needs to be upfront and taking point in the battles - particularly against anything in power armour or weaker given the AP3 on the flame cannon. Seriously: the flame cannon is all sorts of amazing against legion opponents -- remember that since it is a template it will ignore cover as well. It couldn't be much better.

The only issue for me is the points cost which is rather high in comparison to other knights in the army list.

Keeping the Knight "naked" costs a steep 415 points. But the major question for me is what Household Rank to give it.

I believe that a Seneschal would be fine for this Knight to lead from the front with. An Aucteller might be a good choice given the re-roll on the D class weapon too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Ceratus Knight-Castigator

For those houses with lots of small critters to take out (Orks, Tyranids - ahem Genestealers, rebels, or the like), the Knight-Castigator is highly favoured.

As would befit a knight that is intended to take out lots of smaller opponents, the Knight-Castigator is armed with the castigator bolt cannon. At heavy 8 with AP3, this is deadly even to space marine squads.

Couple with with the war blade that is a class D melee weapons that can forsake its initiative to automatically hit everything in base contact with it makes this one knight to get up close and personal with the enemy to take them out.

It therefore also needs to be played accordingly. It is a support unit and front line melee unit. It won't be taking out tanks from range. Equally, there is the potential to whittle down a light armoured tank just from wiping away hull points from the bolt cannon.

On top of this, the D weapon will almost be guaranteed to finish off a squad that the Knight has hit with the bolt cannon (particularly if its space marines). But perhaps this is not what the player would desire. It might be better to get locked in combat during the enemies turn as well?

There are not many options, hence I personally favour the baseline entry for this Knight at 380 points.

In terms of household ranks, I like the arbelester as well as the preceptor for this Knight.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Formations in Horus Heresy?!

By now, I know that many readers will have already seen the Horus Heresy "formation" that has been published on to the Facebook group of Games Workshop Halle (Germany).

There is some excitement over this as, if it proves to be true, represents a number of interesting developments for the Horus Heresy. Firstly, and most obviously, it shows that 30k is going down the 40k route. I'm a little uneasy about this personally, as I think that the way that Forge World are pulling off 30k is fine as it is and does not require formations to spice it up. Indeed, being a very old timer, I remember that formations were originally introduced via Apocalypse. From there, they appear to have leaked directly in to mainstream 40k. I don't actually like a number of the formations in the current meta-game for 40k as I think they're a bit broken (too many freebies for too little effort -- particularly in certain space marine demi companies, for instance). I much prefer the formation-free approach (the "classic" approach) that 30k has taken with basic army lists and everything priced very fairly. This move seems to be GW encroaching on territory.

It also is suggestive that this might be part of a bigger 30k publication of formations that might be coming out soon. Or perhaps part of a campaign.

Alternatively, it could simply be just an in-store campaign.

The one thing that strikes me is some of the discrepant language used in the publication.
Not only are they using "Praetor" (a 30k term), but they are using 40k specifics as well.
Read down to the bottom of the image and they use the term "Chapter" (usually associated with 40k, but some evidence of that in 30k as well).
The artwork is very 40k, having been used numerous times in the past.
The headings and margin artwork is highly 40k.

So what is going on here?
I'm going to say "in house rules" for a GW campaign. Happy to be proven wrong as always though! I wouldn't mind a full publication based on 30k. But I want FW to publish it, not GW. But I'm biased :)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Legion Bundles with Betrayal at Calth

Following on from yesterday's post, the Forge World tease was about the new bundles that it is releasing. In brief, they contain the Betrayal at Calth board game, plus enough components in resin to convert the 30 space marines in Mark IV armour to one of the legions (i.e. shoulder pads, helmets and torsos). There's a few other bundles featuring armoured upgrades, but the main part of them are the legions (minus Thousand Sons, and Space Wolves, of course).

Each of the main bundles costs GBP225. Is it worth it?

The main board game is GBP95.
Each torso plus helmet plus shoulder pad set of 10 is GBP44. Three lots of these would therefore be GBP132.
Hence this represents a saving of 2 pounds over the normal price.

Alternatively, we could price is as GBP11.50 for a set of 5 torsos. Hence that's GBP69 for 30.
Three lots of helmets at GBP11.50 for 10 comes out at GBP34.50 for 30.
And then there's three lots of shoulder pads at GBP10 each, or GBP30 for 30.
That is GBP228.50 in total. A saving of 3.50 pounds for the bundle.

Hence there is a price saving, but its not very significant - some one per cent.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tomorrow, your allegiance will be tested

In an email from Forge World just moments ago, an excellent graphic of (what seems to be Isstvan V) legionaries fighting across a ruined city dropped.

Alongside the graphic came the words:

"Tomorrow, your allegiance will be tested" as the email's title, and then in the substance of the email:
"Traitor or Loyalist, your Legion awaits."
"Betrayal is just the beginning…"
"Saturday 7th November 2015  10:30AM".

Anyone know what's happening? What is this teaser about? I'm stumped!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Ceratus Knight-Lancer

Combining speed, agility and a certain amount of grace (well, at least as much as a Knight class chassis can manage), the Ceratus is a bit of a departure from the other Knights in terms of both its height, configuration and purpose on the battlefield.

The shooting attack from the lance of the Ceratus has a concussive component that is excellent against large targets like monstrous creatures. In close combat it also gains a bonus to initiative which is a slight edge over other D class weapons regularly toted by other Knights.

Again in close combat, the Ceratus gains an invulnerable save. This means that this Knight wants to get in to close combat as soon as possible and start to slay things. With a penalty of -1 to other superheavy walkers to hit it, this is a knight that can certainly go toe to toe with enemy knights and come off better.

It is necessary to remember that the lance does not have a pie plate associated with it, unlike certain other knights. It is heavy 6 though, which makes it nice in form of compensation. Yet still rather short range.

There's not too many options here, so I would go for the basic naked knight for 400 points. In terms of household ranks, I would certainly be thinking of the HQ Seneschal. Although other options might be nice, I would only use them if I had another HQ already selected (which presumably would be a second Ceratus Knight-Lancer in the army list!). In that case, I could be tempted to give a second Ceratus the Aucteller rank. An Arbalester could also be tempting in a pinch too.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Questoris Knight Styrix

For some Houses, the Styrix is a blood lusting machine whose only concern is the death of infantry. In some eyes, this makes them less "worthy" of the title of Knight. But not in all cases. I'm sure the Night Lords would eagerly serve alongside them. Enough said.

There is a clear synergy between the weapons here. The graviton gun is excellent at getting to grips with any type of infantry (whilst potentially doubling up for tank duties), trapping them whilst the volkite chieorovile (and potentially the rad cleanser) mop up the poor survivors.

The only real question here is whether to swap out the Hekaton siege claw for the rad cleanser. This is a big choice as it means giving up a class D melee weapon. Equally, the wrecker rule is not doing much here as this is clearly an anti-infantry Knight.

Being so very highly tuned to an anti-infantry rule, one cannot help but think that there are better units out there to deal with infantry. At worst, there are pie plates from other weapons and other classes of Knight that could double up for this duty. It is also one of the pricier knights overall.

There are only two choices here: whether to swap out the D class melee weapon for a rad cleanser, and whether to take the ocular augmetics or not. I'm on the fence for the former, it could be really a good idea to take the rad cleanser if one can get close. The lack of torrent is a pain though. The ocular augmetics are okay.

Hence my favoured build here is probably to keep the basic knight (405 points).

In terms of Household Ranks, I would contend that the Preceptor is probably just about the most appropriate for this Knight. I could also see it as being an Arbelaster as well as a Seneschal HQ choice. Then again, it would do as a simple troops choice as well to be fair.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hirst Arts: Cracked Floor Tiles

Digging through the collection, I upturned my old Hirst Arts moulds. Happy Accidents! So this weekend, my daughters and I got together and made some castings. I decided that I needed to do some castings to help with basing some of my current miniature projects that I've got on the go - especially the Alpha Legion 30k army that I've been working on and off with for most of this year. 

If you have not come across Hirst Arts before, then I'd thoroughly encourage you to check out their web site. In brief, the company retails latex moulds from which the hobbyist can cast their own pieces. Its a bit like making lego blocks to be honest. You can see some of my earlier efforts with these pieces in earlier posts where I create a fieldstone bridge as well as some buildings

This particular mould that I've got pictured here is the cracked floor tiles (mould number 203 in their catalogue). We used only simple modelling plaster for these. The main problem encountered here was the air bubbles that you can see pictured in the resultant tiles to the side of the mould in the picture. I've clearly forgotten some of my earlier techniques ("wet" water usage, as well as the continuous tapping to move the bubbles to the surface). Moreover, the mixture was not quite optimal as it probably had too much plaster powder contained in it -- its slightly over dense compared to what I've been able to cast in the distant past. I really must get around to trying out some dental grade plaster. Regardless, my daughters and I had a lot of fun creating these. And they will no doubt get a kick out of painting them and using in craft projects of their own! I will be using these in basing, probably sliced up a little bit too (which will render the air bubbles not such a great issue) and gluing them on bases as part of my growing 30k force.

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