Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Melta and Armoured Ceramite Conundrum in 30k

Overview.
I think there is a conundrum in 30k around Armoured Ceramite and Melta weaponry. It also connects to game theory very nicely. Let me explain.


Background.
In 30k, Armoured Ceramite is a reasonably common and very available upgrade to vehicles in legion (and other armies, such as the Solar Auxilia) armoury. In brief, it negates the special melta weapon rules that provide an extra die for amour penetration.

The Conundrum.
Let's see if I can explain this using a logical chain.
(i) Because Armoured Ceramite is available, players are going to take it to negate against melta weapons.
(ii) Because players are taking Armoured Ceramite, it logically follows that players will respond by not bothering with melta weaponry. They'll take something like lascannons to deal with heavy AV armour instead.
(iii) Because players are no longer bothering with melta weapons, it logically follows that players do not need to invest the points sink in Armoured Ceramite.
(iv) Because players are not purchasing Armoured Ceramite, one should take melta weaponry to exploit them.

And therein is the conundrum, the contradiction, and (if nothing else) a downright paradox!

In some games that I've played, its clear that the meta is somewhere in the region of step (i) or step (ii). Armoured Ceramite is very popular (and probably rightly so). And this is leading to a decrease of melta weaponry in accord. I've not heard anyone reach the logical step of (iii) just yet, but it does follow quite naturally. I just don't think folks are thinking that far along the logic chain to be honest. And that's completely understandable if everyone is still salivating over Armoured Ceramite's ability.

But, being slightly twisted, and playing the Alpha Legion in 30k, I'm totally taking melta weaponry in the form of a melta support squad. Because my Alpha Legion force is rightly already at step (iv)!

Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. The reality is far removed from this, naturally, as most folks are still at step (i). But I will keep on taking the melta just to exploit folks who are not taking the Armoured Ceramite. That, and I think that melta guns are very powerful weapons if you're able to get in range of an enemy, and can cause significant damage to even terminator squads with the right positioning (which I plan on achieving with Armillus Dynat's warlord trait).


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Stormsword Super-Heavy Tank


Background
The storm sword is essentially a modification of any number of super heavy tanks. Rather than try to fully repair a broken superheavy like a Shadowsword, some forces opt to repair it by simply fitting a siege cannon on to the patched up shell. Thus the stormsword is born.

Strengths
The strength of this beast is in its primary weapon. Although it is not a D class weapon, it certainly packs a punch and is (in my opinion) well worth the points cost associated with the vehicle. Firstly, its a short range weapon. But with S=10 and very low AP, its going to be dangerous to anything in the game. What makes it truly shine though, is the absolutely humongous template associated with it - a full apocalyptic blast no less. Better yet, it ignores cover!

Weaknesses
The tank is a close range tank, and therefore must be carefully treated to ensure it gets in to the optimum firing position before being hit by enemy class D weapons, or knights in close combat and the like. Additionally, the rear armour is going to be a prime target on this tank, like its cousins, but perhaps even more vulnerable due to the need to manoeuvre in to position more acutely.

Builds
Two builds for this super heavy -- a baseline build and something a little bit more upgraded.

Stormsword, armoured ceramite (510 points)
Armoured ceramite is almost a given in the 30k environment. I deliberately take melta guns to face down enemies who don't pay the points for this upgrade, because that's how I roll.

Stormsword, armoured ceramite, two pairs of lascannon sponsons, pintle mounted multi-laser (625 points)
Very pricey here, but also very versatile and effective, so long as the range is kept to 48" and under (preferably 36" and under!). Upgrade to a command tank to taste.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Shadowsword Super-Heavy Tank


Background
Of all the Baneblade style chassis, my personal favourite to fields is the Shadowsword. Largely, this is because of its reputation and ability as a tank killer.

Although at the turn of the Heresy, this tank was rarely used, it became a staple of the Auxilia and the like as they were pressed in to service to counter enemy titans.

Strengths
The Volcano Cannon is a D-class weapon with an absolutely huge range, low AP, and large blast radius. For a superheavy, and for a Lords of War slot, this beast really does the job very well.

But to be sure, I would certainly advocate taking more lascannons on the sponsons to get some shield generators down and inflict additional hull point damage on enemy targets.

Weaknesses
Arguably the low BS of the tank is an issue. But this could be mitigated a little by sacrificing some lascannons for targeters to boost the BS. For additional lascannons this could be important. Equally, if one is taking additional lascannons, then its likely that some will hit regardless. The rear armour is just as much a concern here as it is for other tanks of its ilk.

Builds
Just two builds from me for this one. A baseline style build and a more upgraded one.

Shadowsword, armoured ceramite (480 points)
This is probably the baseline. That said, I'd be sorely tempted to add on extra lascannons from my experience of fielding these tanks in Apocalypse games.

Shadowsword, armoured ceramite, two pairs of lascannon / heavy bolter sponsons, multi-melta on the pintle (600 points)
A very upgraded version of the tank that I would favour. I'm a fan of taking more las cannons over improving the BS (because dice gods favour the bold!), but clearly that's still an option. The multi melta is just to add extra low AP weapons to the arsenal; and hoping people didn't have the points for armoured ceramite. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Potential Plot Flaw in Fulgrim?

I was re-reading Black Library' Fulgrim by McNeill recently. I found a little inconsistency, well major plot flaw to be honest, therein on my re-reading.

In the encounter between Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim, the primarch of the Emperor's Children tells Ferrus that "Lorgar and Angron are ready to strike, and Mortarion will soon be with us."

Later on, on the sands of Istvaan V no less, Ferrus Manus is well-pleased to see his brothers, Lorgar included make landfall to apparently help the loyalist cause.

So, what could be the cause of this?

Clearly it could just be an overlooked facet.

Or, alternatively, perhaps Ferrus just thought Fulgrim was flat-out lying. Indeed, later on, Dorn's orders simply state that the traitors are Horus, Fulgrim, Mortarion and Angron. Nothing about Lorgar. Hence he has no reason to yet doubt that Lorgar has turned traitor.

Anyway, I just caught this today, so thought I'd jot it down here!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Stormlord Super-Heavy Assault Tank


Background
Continuing on from the Baneblade, the Stormlord superheavy is one rolling fortress designed for transporting a surprisingly large number of troops.

Strengths
Forty personal can be carried, and fully half of them can shoot from its troop platform. This is incredible and should not be underestimated. A heap of plasma fire from this is enough of a tactic to be treated seriously.

As if that were not enough, there's also a Vulan Megabolter to contend with. That's a heavy 15 bolter at S6 and AP3. And if the tank stays still, it can fire it twice. Twice! That's a lot of dead space marines.

Weaknesses
Like the Baneblade, the Stormlord does not carry a D-class weapon. Given that Lords of War are in play, one has to be concerned if your opponent is wielding one.

Builds
Two builds here, one a baseline one, and the other a more upgraded and costly one.

Stormlord, armoured ceramite (515 points)
This is a baseline build with the armoured ceramite that is ubiquitous in 30k.

Stormlord, armoured ceramite, two sponson pairs, pintle heavy flamer (630 points)
A heavy flamer pintle weapon here as a charging deterrent, and two sponsons for their lascannon punching power. Add the command tank upgrade to taste.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Baneblade Super-Heavy Battle Tank


Background
And now we turn to the super heavies for the Lords of War entries in the Solar Auxilia Army List. These entries are based around the bane blade and shadow sword chassis and are exactly what you might have come to expect from Apocalypse for the main part.

Strengths
A baneblade, fundamentally, is a rolling tank fitted out with a whole heap of nasty guns. The bane blade cannon is an excellent S=9 apocalyptic blast that few other things in the game can match. Added on to this are the demolisher cannon, heavy bolters and possibly additional armaments. This tank is a real contender on the battlefield!

Weaknesses
I'm always torn on whether to go for this one, or one of its sister tanks - such as a shadowsword. Fundamentally, this probably depends on one's play style. The one thing I will mention here though is that lack of D-class weapons. If you're allowed Lords of War, then presumably one has to think your opponent has opted for a D-class weapon somewhere.

Builds
I'll do just two builds here - a baseline one first, and then a bit of an upgraded one.

Baneblade, armoured ceramite (560 points)
The baseline with additional armoured ceramite to negate all those melta toting squads.

Baneblade, armoured ceramite, 2 additional sponsons, pintle multi-melta (680 points)
Take a command tank upgrade to taste. And / or hunter killer missiles. Team up with a tank commander just for additional fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We Are the 20 Per Cent

A large number of readers will no doubt be aware of the recent Games Workshop AGM. Richard Beddard recently penned an article on it which can be found here.

Although the title of the article is that Games Workshop is a relentless profit machine (what company is not?) there are a number of gems and nuggets hidden away within the report.

Chief amongst these gems is the claim that only 20 per cent of customers are gamers. Below I reproduce the statement in that article:

"The company’s mission statement is “we make the best fantasy miniatures in the world and sell them globally at a profit and we intend to do this forever.”
It does not mention games. In conversation, I’m told that the word “Game” in Games Workshop encourages the misconception that games are its business, but that only about 20% of Games Workshop’s customers are gamers. The rest are modellers and collectors. Maybe half of them think about playing now and then. The other half have no intention. People actually walk into the stores because they’re curious about modelling fantastic armies."

Again, these are not my words.

What is ludicrous about such statements is the complete lack of research (apparent or obscured) that has gone in to this figure. Its clearly shooting from the hip with a faulty bolter. It might be as much as 80per cent. It might be as low as 10per cent. Nobody knows. And the reason that nobody knows is that nobody has done the research to figure it out.

Perhaps this is a project for a PhD student to try to tackle, as its rather large in scope. (Thank you, but my academic proclivities are in the physical sciences, rather than figuring this out). It would be awesome to actually do some research as, by their own admission, Games Workshop does nothing in this regard.

What do I think about the 20per cent claim itself, apart from it being wrong? Well, its certain that there are folks who drop in and buy a few miniatures purely for modelling, or maybe the starting game to get their sons and daughters in to the hobby but then they never come back. I'm certainly guilty of buying some miniatures purely for their aesthetic value rather than for any intent to game with them. But for the main part, I will freely admit to being both a gamer and a hobbyist.

I am the 20 per cent.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Cyclops Remote Demolitions Unit


Background
These are remote controlled bombs No more, no less. They go up to their targets and explode. That's it. That's all they do! But they do it very well!

Strengths
I really like this unit to be honest! That said, I feel they are slightly over costed. But some play experience with them might change my mind on that.

There are three main types of explosive: a demolition charge that can take out space marines; an incineration charge that can ignore cover but is not as devastating as the former; and an atomantic imploder for a D strength hit.

Weaknesses
Apart from what I might feel about the uncompetitive costings, the main weakness is that they cannot move unless there's a character within 36 inches of them. I guess remote controls don't have a spectacular range in 30k sadly.

The 4+ armour save is nothing brilliant either. At least they have more than one wound each though.

Builds
2 Cyclops with demolition charges (140 points)
This is one to drive up to space marine squads and explode at them. Two of them here to ensure at least a rout test will take place.

2 Cyclops with incineration charges (160 points)
This is to take out Orks, Tyranids, and enemy Auxilia hiding in cover. It won't particularly help with power armour since the AP is worse than for the demolition charges.

3 Cyclops with atomantic imploders (360 points)
Three lots of D strength hits can be devastating to any vehicle or infantry in the game. That said, taking one might be preferable just for distraction's sake.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Valdor Tank Hunter


Background
The Valdor is a tank hunter, just as its name suggests! But the nominative determinism may not quite place it in the same league as the shadowsword perhaps, but the neutron destroyer is still going to do significant damage.

Strengths
As with the other super heavies from the Auxilia, this one is still in the now very over-burdened heavy support category and hence is a real strength and asset to the Auxilia.

The primary weapon is the neutron destroyer. But it is not a destroyer class weapon -- it falls short by being a S=10 weapon. That said, the shock pulse special rule from the neutron destroyer means that this tank can very effectively "lock down" other very heavy tanks on the next turn. This is absolutely invaluable and should be exploited readily.

Weaknesses
Not too many weaknesses here other than chewing up the points available. In exchange we get a true superheavy with a significant primary weapon that can hurt and lock down enemy firepower like no other tank.

Builds
Auxilia Valdor Tank Hunter, lascannon, armoured ceramite (330 points)
The is probably the basic build that I'd be thinking about using.

Auxilia Valdor Tank, Auxilliary drive, lascannon, armoured ceramite, pintle mounted heavy flamer (350 points)
The fully upgraded version. The heavy flamer is purely to counter close range opponents, and the auxiliary drive keeps it going, just in case (but is probably not strictly needed).  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Malcador Infernus Special Weapons Tank


Background
The Infernus Malcador is little more than a humongous flamer on treads, with heaps of fuel on board to do some righteous burning with. Accordingly, there is a +1 roll made on any catastrophic damage.

Strengths
As with the Auxilia Malcador, this super heavy appears naturally in the Heavy Support slot rather than the Lords of War. With 6HP and front armour of 13, this is awesome, although the price tag shows this too.

The main aim of this tank seems to be flaming enemy units (particularly armour save 3+ enemy units) in to nothingness. Therefore, when building this tank, its important to think about how best to complement it. Arguably more heavy flamers would be good as then there's no reason to worry about the BS=3 issue here. That said, some lascannon sponsons are good too.

Weaknesses
Not to many to be fair. Its a big, flaming, tormenting tank. No more. Therefore, so long as its not treated as if its something else, it is fine. Use the torrent 18" and go forth and singe things. No more, no less!

Builds
Malcador Infernus, Heavy Flamer Sponsons, Armoured Ceramite (285 points)
This is probably the baseline entry, providing the 18" torrent with some additional flamers to back it up.

Malcador Infernus, Heavy Flamer Sponsons, Armoured Ceramite, Pintle-Mounted Heavy Flamer, Auxilary Drive (305 points)
The fully upgraded version of the above. Purchase the chem-munitions to taste.

Malcador Infernus, Lascannon Sponsons, Armoured Ceramite, Pintle-Mounted Multi-Laser, Chemical Munitions (340 points)
This is more of a multi-purpose tank with the ability to take out enemy tanks, as well as frighten infantry with the chemical munitions and inflict armour bane hits through the same munitions. The ranges between the flaming torrent and the lascannons are a slight issue here, but nothing that a bit of driving around won't fix. Take an auxiliary drive to taste.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Malcador Heavy Tank


Background
A flexibly built tank that seems to have been a second class vehicle in the Horus Heresy compared to the more populous Leman Russ tanks. The Malcador here is certainly worth of attention.

Strengths
From the outset, it is important to note that this tank is in the heavy support section and not the Lords of War like the Space Marine version. For most of the other points, I will simply refer the reader back to that article.

Weaknesses
One of the obvious weaknesses here is the BS=3 and the inability to take a space marine crew to improve upon that in comparison to the Legion variant.

Builds
The following are suggestions, based on the Legion variant. I'd encourage readers to refer back to that article for more details.

Malcador with battle cannon, hull mounted auto cannon, auto cannon sponsons, armoured ceramite, two hunter-killer missiles (275 points)
Plenty of dakka here as well as the ubiquitous armoured ceramite and the hunter killer missiles. Take a flare shield to taste.

Malcador with twin linked lascannon, demolisher cannon, lascannon sponsons, armoured ceramite (305 points)
An anti-tank variant here. Take a flare shield to taste.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Alpha Legion Contemptor #2

Following hot on the heels of another converted Alpha Legion contemptor, comes this second addition to the talon. This particular beast has a true claw with integrated heavy flamer, plus an eldar wraith sword in the right hand that he's decided to make use of (because if xenos weapons are good enough for Alpharius, then he wouldn't mind him using such a sword either, right?). 

The base is from Scibor and offsets the resin contemptor very nicely. The overall pose is one of a running dreadnought, where only one the the feet (the right one, nearest the camera in the image) is attached to the base. The left arm is outstretched as if flaming the area in front of him, whilst the sword arm is being brought up, in readiness to strike out at the enemies of the Emperor. Or enemies of the Warmaster. Or both. Or neither. Hey, its the Alpha Legion, we're all confused.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Contemptor fist with Sword

A small conversion project that will ultimately go alongside the true claw conversion for the other contemptor fist. This time, its a contemptor arm coupled with a wraithsword.


The main issue with making this conversion was the desire to have the blade almost in line with the arm. This resulted in a steep angle between the fist and the chassis of the arm. To accommodate this and fix it in to position, one of the skull embossed "knuckles" of the fist was removed and the fist pinned at the wrist such that the pin angles upward in to the chassis of the arm. The overall effect is not a bad one as the blade is well proportioned to the contemptor model. I'll post a full contemptor picture in due course.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Artillery Tank Battery


Background
For when the Solar Auxilia need a bit more in the way of long range and sustained fire power with high yield shells, they rely on a battery of Artillery to rain down on their enemies. This tank battery encompasses three different tanks that are well-able to perform this role: the Basilisk, the Medusa, and the Bombard. The first two will be familiar to 40k players at the very minimum.

Strengths
These tanks rely on their firepower to get the job done. So we need to think about what jobs each might be good at.

For the Basilisk, the Earthshaker cannon is going to be employed for huge range, high strength barrage purposes. It'll be sat at the back raining down death on anything in power armour, or most tanks in the game.

The medusa is much shorter range (36"), but provides a critical S=10 option at AP2. It'll be needing to get in to a good position reliably.

Meanwhile the Bombard has much weaker strength (S=6) but critically ignores cover. Its prime job is therefore to target marines like support or sniper squads that are deep inside ruins and the like. The only question is whether to upgrade the shells fired of the Bombard with Seismic Shock shells which add the sunder and concussive rules. I think most players would toy with this concept at least!

Weaknesses
This is a squad that cannot be mixed and matched. You can only get up to 3 tanks of the same type. So choose wisely.

Builds
One build per tank, as follows:

Auxilia Basilisk, armoured ceramite (180 points)
A good price for an effective long range artillery tank.

Auxilia Medusa, armoured ceramite, hunter-killer missile, dozer blade (190 points)
The dozer blade is to help with movement, whilst the missile will help finish off any tanks left alive by its primary weapon. That said, it could be worth investing in some (or all!) of the other options here such as the auxiliary drive and extra armour. A pintle mounted heavy flamer may not be out of the question either.

Auxilia Bombard, armoured ceramite, seismic shock shells (225 points)
Able to take on most power armour in the game and give some other things pause for thought as well. Tempting to take a pintle mounted heavy flamer too in case of closer range threats. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Leman Russ Assault Squadron


Background
The first heavy support slot in the Solar Auxilia is the Leman Russ Assault Squadron. Much like the Leman Russ Strike Squadron, multiple instances of these tanks can be taken and deployed on the board to provide an intimidating array of fire power on behalf of the Solar Auxilia.

Strengths
Fundamentally, these are Leman Russ tanks and therefore nothing to sneeze at. The price tags are reasonable and there are THREE variants to select between, and a similar number for the maximum number of tanks.

As well as having the explorator adaption, these tanks are also able to use the coordinated fire protocols to gain a bonus to BS when the tanks in the squadron are firing at the same squadron.

Weaknesses
There are no real weaknesses here. Hence its mostly about how you want to play these tank (shooting, back line or mid-field) and about how many you want to take (or whether to take none at all and use a heavy support slot in a different manner).

Builds
Rather than list multiples of each tanks, I will supply one build for each type. Clearly multiple tanks of the same type should be beneficial, but perhaps not always required.

Leman Russ Demolisher, armoured ceramite (215 points)
Unsubtle, and effective.

Leman Russ Incinerator, armoured ceramite (205 points)
Equally unsubtle. Effective too.

Leman Russ Executioner, armoured ceramite, heavy flamer (220 points)
With the volkite weaponry, this is probably the only variant of the tank that could usefully employ the heavy bolter replacement. Although the volkite is much longer range, the heavy flamer can be useful for a close, personal touch. Or defence. I could toy with a lascannon too here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Horus Heresy Review: Auxilia Thunderbolt Heavy Fighter


Background
The Thunderbolt is supposed to be a heavy fighter that wind over its opponents in dog fights due to superior weapons and firepower. And it can do this to a certain extent. But whether one classifies it as a heavy fighter is another matter entirely. That said, it certain is a "workhorse" as described in the background and I can see it being played by Solar Auxilia players quite readily.

Strengths
The fighter can be kitted out as anti-infantry as well as anti-aircraft, and anti-tank. In this regard it is highly flexible and can take on most things in the game short of Lords of War and certain monstrous creatures.

It has an interesting rule called "Combat Interdiction" which requires it to re-roll failed reserve rolls if there's an enemy flyer on the board already. This is very cute and will mean that the fighter will come on when required most of the time.

Add on top of this a flare shield, chaff launcher and the supersonic rule, and we have the makings of an excellent aircraft here.

Weaknesses
Sadly, despite the name, the Thunderbolt is rather flimsy with AV values comparable to a rhino. The chaff launchers and flare shield upgrade can help with this clearly, as can the armoured cockpit. Even more than this, it can ignore glances on a 6+ which will help once in a while, possibly. But it remains the case that this is a vulnerable fighter than needs some expert positioning and deadly quick flight runs to operate correctly.

Builds
A few builds here to cater to the roles it could be put to.

Thunderbolt, Ground-Tracking Auguries, Flare Shield, Sunfury Missiles (250 points)
This is an anti-infantry (mainly anti-space marine) build.

Thunderbolt, Ground-Tracking Auguries, Flare Shield (230 points)
This is an anti-tank build. Swap the weapons to taste depending on the opponent.

Thunderbolt, Flare Shield (220 points)
This is the anti-aircraft build - and the cheapest of the lot. Drop the flare shield to save points if needed. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scibor 60mm Base

I recently bought a 60mm resin base from Scibor Miniatures -- a European company that makes many, and fine resin miniatures (as well as bases) that are suitable for many types of war game settings.

I've bought from them before in the form of some bodies to be used as Grey Knight characters and was very pleased with them (they're available through their website, but also in a number of specialist stores that I've visited in the past - both in Australia and the UK). So I thought that I would purchase some more parts, but this time with a view to making a base - or rather saving me some time in base making - for a new dreadnought that I have in mind.


This particular base is the 60mm version of their ruins range. It features a number of interesting details that include the patterned gothic church interior style, a cracked tombstone (bottom right), a circular cracked base that might otherwise be used for a 25mm base (upper left), as well as other details such as a skeleton with a complete head of hair (left), leaves (lower left) and dirt (right) covering the rest of the ground.

I'm very pleased with this base since there's zero cleanup work to do and its pretty much good to go right out of the box!

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