Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hobby Goals

I am notoriously bad about setting myself hobby related goals. This is largely due to real life pressures of my job combined with my (young) family. There's only so much painting one can get done before a nappy needs changed, and so on…

But I thought it would be worth jotting down a few thoughts about the general directions that I'm going with my hobbies and what might be appearing here in the next few months.

I: Alpha Legion.

I've clearly made huge progress in my Alpha Legion army this year, going from something that was slowly chugging along with a background plan, to something that has become very active, mostly all painted and have won (and lost) games with the local group. My broad aims are to expand the Alpha Legion force that I have with more marines and a couple of extra items. But most importantly, get around to actually painting my contemptors as I feel they're going to be of a huge utility in the next campaign that we play locally.

II: Mechanicum.
My most obvious development in the mechanicum is my titan that is approaching completion. Well, it would probably be complete if I could just get around to the final painting. But I'm waiting for some cooler weather and the children to get to sleep for a decent amount of hours to do this one. In addition, I bought the Imperial Knights boxed game, so I have two Knights to build and paint. One of them is advanced, the other is not even started. And I have a very small unit of mechanicum infantry that I want to get assembled and painting. All in good time though. I'm enjoying the journey with them, rather than wanting to rush along. 

I'm still publishing a number of articles on role playing games, as well as releasing our own material through my hobby company, Sequestered Industries. This will no doubt continue in to the future. I have a bunch of articles on Dark Sun (ADnD) that I'd like to get done at some point to round off my much earlier series, but that can take a back seat to:

IV: Horus Heresy Reviews.
By far the largest number of hits to this blog in recent years has been due to the Horus Heresy Reviews series that I've run. This will continue with Retribution that I'm making good progress with, and with the new book that I'm anticipating the release of later this year. I really enjoy making these articles, and its clear from the messages / emails / comments I get that many of you do as well! Thanks again for the encouragement!

V: Keeping half an eye on 40k developments.
I'm very interested to see where GW takes the timeline. The new chaos supplement, Traitor's Hate, looks particularly interesting. 

VI: Terrain. 
I still have an active interest in terrain and will be building a few more choice items in the months to come -- starting with the contents of the Imperial Knight Renegade boxed set that I want to try to have as a triple layer building if possible. 

And that's about it for now. No promises. No timelines (since: young children). But hopefully lots more hobby goodness yet to come!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Lord Inquisitor Prologue -- Mini-Review

If you have not watched The Lord Inquisitor Prologue, and you intend to do so at a later point, then please read no further. This article contains spoilers.

Okay, enough spoiler warning. Here's my thoughts.

The Prologue is in excellent shape and its a real credit to the animators and digital artists who are bringing this film to life. I've not seen much like it before (well, not in a long time at any rate). It reminds me of when Toy Story first came out: real bleeding edge animation in three dimensions. But more than that, this is for adults with lots of Grim and Dark thrown in. 

The previous Warhammer 40,000 film featuring the Ultramarines was very much walk, talk, shoot, walk, talk, shoot in essence. This film -- or the prologue at least -- hints at a much superior plot and animation to say the least. 

I'll divide the prologue up in to a few shorter themes. This first theme I want to touch on is the grand overview shots. These consist of fleets of ships in orbit, and several wide-angle views of Holy Terra itself during a parade. To say these were magnificent would do it injustice. I've not seen the like either in movies or computer games like this before. I'm blown away.

The second theme was the exchange where Inquisitor Marcus casts judgement on someone. Without going in to too much detail, there are certainly bits of Grimness here as might be expected. What I wasn't ready for was the deliberate torture that the Inquisitor undertakes. Its unclear on the motivation for this, and it was a bit of a shocker to some extent. This is part of the reason why this movie is a breed apart from the previous W40k movie. This is no "PG" rating folks. 

And as for hints of Darkness, there were certainly plenty of them with the slaves carrying part of the procession along on Holy Terra. Interestingly enough, I was very interested to see how much "daylight" there were in the scenes displayed. One always has these images in the head of how everything is shrouded and in darkness. Its easy to forget that in 40k, grimness and darkness don't have to be literal and the world still turns. That, I thought, was a great thing to undertake and is very often overlooked. 

Finally, did we mention Imperial Fists? I think we should. If you're a Fists fan, you're going to like their appearance here. I did! And I'm not even a Fists fanboy.

5 out of 5 stars. Seriously: the looks amazing for the final product. But again: this is not a PG movie. Be warned. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Blackshield Reaver Lord

Possibly the best way to think of the Reaver Lord is the Blackshield analogue of the Legion Praetor. He is an individual, of somewhere near Captain level, that has left his legion and obscured his heraldry to pursue a brand new path in the wars of the Horus Heresy.

The Reaver Lord gets access to all the nice things that a Praetor of a Legion might. Plus, they get access to the unique Blackshields equipment like the Xenos Deathlock, Pariah armour, as well as novel items like the cyber familiar that would only be available to certain legions otherwise.

As such, the Reaver Lord is an incredibly customisation individual fit for almost any battlefield role. Much like the Praetor, it has to be said.

There are two principle weaknesses that army list builders need to think clearly about. The first is the points value of this character. He is unambiguously more expensive than a Legion Praetor (both at a base level, and in terms of some of the upgrades available) and has disadvantages such as no re-rolling of warlord traits. Secondly, the base equipment is worse. The lack of artificer armour is the most obvious of these. Compounding this is the lack of items like the paragon blade -- instead, there's a halo blade which on paper seems a lot worse for the points.

The best way to think about builds is to consider (a) what battlefield role the Reaver will be playing and (b) what "Wrought by War" special rule the army might possess, and build accordingly.

Here are some sample builds to consider.

Reaver Lord, Xenos Deathlock, Jump Pack, Iron Halo, Power Axe (198 points).
This one could go with an Outlanders theme. The Xenos Deathlock will never trigger the lethal rule thanks to only two shots being fired and the jump pack enables the Reaver to get in to position easily. Switch out the jump pack for a bike if desired. Similarly, the power axe could be replaced with a power fist or thunder hammer to taste.

Reaver Lord, Iron Halo, Cyber Familiar, Thunder Hammer, Rad Grenades, Space Marine Bike (225 points).
Take with Chymeriae Attributes Option 1 for a very rude awakening for your opponents. Toughness of 6 coupled with an excellent save, rapid movement and rad grenades to reduce the toughness of your opponent is insane. It hardly matters that they're swinging late due to lower initiative, don't sweeping advance and have a lack of charge distance -- its all made up for. Very worth it! Take melta bombs to taste. Add in artificer armour if points cost allow.

Reaver Lord, Terminator Armour, Chain Fist, Digital Lasers (195 points).
A deep-striker for the Outlanders perhaps. Take a Xenos Deathlock to taste.

Reaver Lord, 1 Lightning Claw, Plasma Pistol, Iron Halo, Jump Pack, Digital Lasers, Artificer Armour (235 points).
A possible Orphans of War option to take advantage of the Preferred Enemy (Characters) rule. I don't know really, the Orphans of War option seems expensive to me really.

Reaver Lord, Artificer Armour, Rad Grenades, Melta Bombs, Power Fist (175 points).
Something of a character to hide in a large blob of other troops. Could suit a Death Seekers lord in some respects. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One Hundred Planets

As my long term readers will be aware, we run a small home company that deals with roleplaying games and accessories. Yesterday, we released our new 105-page long title "One Hundred Planets". The pitch is below. I'm running an advent here as the profits from this enterprise directly fund the purchase of my copies of the Horus Heresy and provide you guys with the reviews and many of the other things associated with Warpstone Flux … which means my wife is a whole lot happier with me spending money on hobby goodness!

Descriptions of planets in a some resources can be limited. Perhaps a planet is randomly rolled on some chart or other and found to be an ice world. Sure, but that's usually not nearly enough to base a roleplaying session around without some serious work on behalf of the person running the game.

So, maybe its an iceworld, but its melting? Again, very nice, but why is it melting? What's causing it to melt? How about: its a melting ice world that a villainous commercial enterprise is trying to exploit for mineral wealth contained under the ice. This is now getting much better. Heck, there are almost plot hooks here.

One Hundred Planets takes the idea of having a much more detailed description of planets and combines them with plots hooks, physical data, and much more.

For each of our 100 planets, we give succinct details about the parent star of the system (based on real astronomical data), and physical data of the planet in question (its mass, orbital parameters, how long one day is on the planet, its surface gravitation, indigenous life, the number of humans on the planet).

This is followed by a thorough physical description of the planet. Most of the planets are rocky terrestrials in nature, but there is a huge variety contained therein. Whether they experience quakes, the ecosystems and the atmospheres of these worlds are all discussed within.

Under `Planetary History', a detailed sketch is made of the human side of the planet. Was it settled by colonists from the Empire?; does a Guild own it?; are there robots there? These and more are discussed and many include elements of science fiction, although where possible most have been strongly bedded in real world physics.

The political status of each world is briefly touched on: who rules it and what is currently happening are frequently noted.

Finally, for each and every planet, plot hooks are given. The median number of plot hooks for each world is two, but many planets have three distinct plot hooks to take advantage of. These, combined with the real world (nay: real Universe) data, are what makes this volume very distinct. They are ready made hooks for player characters to jump in on and have a purpose to directly associate with the planet in question. With little work, the person running the game in question should be readily able to adapt these to their own play styles and group dynamics to make for entertaining and interesting gaming sessions.

Finally, it is worth noting and highlighting that all of the descriptions contained within have been written without any particular game system in mind. This ``system agnostic'' presentation drive means that the contents of this volume can readily be exported to any given game system that the players desire.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mathammering Xenos Deathlocks

Today's post applies a bit of mathematics to the usage of Xenos Deathlocks that we discussed in the Horus Heresy Review on the Blackshields Rules. In brief, Xenos Deathlocks (which we will abbreviate to XD's from herein) are a type of weapon that some of the renegade space marines wielded in 30k when they went outside their command structures because of the Heresy. I really like this idea and concept. Hence, regardless of the outcome of the mathammer below, I really want to see people play these on the desktop just because they're cool. No other reason! In fact, you can see that I already convert some of my miniatures along these lines any way (with a slightly different narrative within the Alpha Legion of using reversed engineered technology).

The Xenos Deathlocks are S=5, AP5 with assault 2 weapons. They have a half decent range for assault weapons at 18 inches as well, which is very nice -- nay attractive even, especially compared to a bolter at a similar range. But there's a price to pay for this -- not only in the points cost. They have the Lethal Exposure rule. Firing this weapon causes the unit using them to roll 2d6. If the roll is less than the number of shots fired by the unit, then one wound is taken with no armour save possible. (Overwatch is exempted from this).

So why take them at all given how downright deadly they look on paper? The answer is in the Deathlock rule. In the spirit of Volkite weapons, a unit that got hit and wounded by a XD weapon must take a leadership test modified (negatively) by the number of wounds suffers (fearless and stubborn units don't apply modifiers). Failure causes an extra 1d6 wounds that can have normal saving throws. 

So is this potentially amazing weapon worthwhile?

A trivial case.
Let's suppose a squad sergeant has a XD. He is targeting some space marines (of course!). On average, he scores 1.33 hits (from 2 shots), and of these, causes 0.89 wounds. A "typical" 3+ save in the 30k environment will reduce this down to 0.30 unsaved wounds (rounded). 

Its trivial here to see that the lethal exposure test is passed: one can never roll under 2 on 2d6, so the sergeant is always going to be safe.

How many extra wounds will the target unit take though? We will treat the enemy squad as having Ld=9 for this purpose. Hence the Ld test is taken at 8.70 for the 0.30 unsaved wounds caused already. Rounding, a roll of 8 or less therefore happens 72.2 per cent of the time. Or putting it another way: fails 27.8 per cent of the time. 

We will use this number to multiply by the 1d6 extra wounds to come up with an outcome. The average 1d6 roll is 3.5. Thus, 27.8 per cent of 3.5 extra wounds is 0.97. 

The target squad is allowed a saving throw which reduces this down to 0.32 extra wounds. That makes a total of 0.30 + 0.32 = 0.62 wounds from the two shots every turn. This is therefore rather powerful!

Complex cases.
Things get much more complex here when we have more than one shooter. Plus, there's the potential to take wounds of your own from the firing squad. In the table below, I summarise the outcomes, using the basic logic presented above in the trivial case. The final two columns are the number of lethal wounds suffered by the shooters, and the difference between the last two columns (or: how many wounds ahead the shooters are!). 

N(XDs shooting in a squad); N(Unsaved Wounds); Lethal?; Difference.
1; 0.62; No; 0.62
2; 0.92; 0.08; 0.84
3: 1.21; 0.28; 0.93
4; 1.68; 0.58; 1.10
5; 1.97; 0.83; 1.14
6; 2.27; 0.97; 1.30
7; 2.75; 1.00; 1.75
8; 3.05; 1.00; 2.05
9; 3.35; 1.00; 2.35
10; 3.64; 1.00; 2.64

As can be seen, there are a few critical turning points.

The first one is illustrated in the trivial case. There, there's no lethal wounds suffered as there's not enough shots fired for them to be lethal.

The next jump is around 6 shooters where the difference shoots up. The spread between 2 to 5 shooters is only 0.3 wounds, but the range from 2 to 6 is 0.46 wounds -- an increase of a factor of 1.53.
The jump from 6 to 7 shooters is also a big one thanks to the twin effects of increasing the number of unsaved wounds coupled with keeping the lethality relatively static. From therein, the difference increases steadily more or less; (although there is another minor jump at 11 shooters for the interested reader). 

The best number of shooters for XDs is arguably 1. There's no risk to the shooter of dying from the shot. Plus they're still effective.

Beyond that, plump for 6 or 7 depending on the points available due to the rational transaction between wounds caused versus wounds taken from shooting. From therein, up to 10 shooters, the increase is linear. 

I hope this has been helpful. And I hope its accurate (I am human, and I do make mistakes, so please be kind in your comments if I have and you point them out! Thanks!). 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Blackshields Rules

This is one review that I have been putting off a little bit from doing. The reason for this is largely due to the myriad of ways in which they can be configured and how best to consider all of these options. We will start with the basics and then move on to the units as we might with a set of legion special rules. We will look at war gear later in a separate article.

Base Rules.
Rather than the usual Legion rules, the Blackshields replace these with a set of distinct rules - some better than others, and all nicely balances with positives and negatives.

Firstly is the option to select (or not) one of the Wrought by War. We will look at these below in turn. Some are really characterful and good, whilst others are … interesting and could be more attractive.

Strike from a Position of Strength gives a primary detachment a bonus to going first in any given game. This is a strong bonus and in line with some other factions (the Alpha Legion springs to mind for their Coils rite of war).

The Outcasts rule determines how they take allies. This is always "By the Emperor's / Warmaster's Command" for other Legions and Fellow Warriors for the Imperial Army or Mechanicum. The latter is intended to be illustrative of other outcasts. The real question of utility here is what the Blackshields are bringing to the table (in a literal way) that other legions are not? We will explore that a little more below.

Finally the Limited Resources rule means that they're outside the usual Legions and their re-arming possibilities. Hence they're not going to have access to certain one-shot items like drop pods. Further, they're not allowed to have more units with a vehicle type than infantry type. This is a nice balance to the above rules overall. But we will now turn to the different factions (or perhaps its best to think of these as different "Legions" of the "Blackshields" space marines).

Death Seekers.
Overall, this is something that approaches what the World Eaters already have. The Inured to Pain rule gives the most basic feel no pain special rule. This is, of course, very nice, but there's no way to boost it inside the Blackshields rules. No pinning and no morale checks is also very nice. The Lure of Battle rule means they always must advance to an enemy (or at least stay at a steady distance) on the table. This gives a very rageful special rule that can be very attractive.

All taken together, the Death Seekers are a very attractive proposition that would lead to a powerful force when combined with the other rules. Its a pity that there are no Drop Pods to take advantage of their bonuses, but a rhino will help to close the gap, as would a flier like a Storm Eagle or Caestus. I can therefore see these special rules as a really good and strong choice. It offers things that the Emperor's Children and World Eaters do not, and played well, can really do some damage. But why take them instead of the World Eaters? They're slightly more controllable (arguably), they're not "triggered" like some of their rules. Indeed, the involuntary movement could be taken advantage of: think of moving 0.5 inches backward and then 1d6 inches forward when failing a Ld check and one can see how this system might be "gamed" slightly.

Hence, I think this is a force worth consideration when built for close combat (hammer units) and backed up with longer range heavy support selections.

Orphans of War.
These marines gain bonuses to Ld when within 6 inches of fellow Blackshields, so long as they're above a certain strength. This is very nice as it represents marines helping marines out. But what is even better is the re-rolling of 1's to hit in assault and shooting with these marines as well. Amazing really! The penalty side of this is steep though. Failing a morale check removes 1d3 more marines than would otherwise be removed in an assault phase. For characters, its even simpler -- they have preferred enemy (characters) special rule which is very nice for fighting in challenges clearly.

No gods, No Masters counter-balances some of these strengths by ensuring the Blackshields cannot buy chaplains, agents and simply cannot ally with other Legions that do so (or, obviously, has a primarch within it).

Overall, the synergy here is very nice. One would want to take large squad sizes where possible and keep them reasonably close to one another on the board. Two blobs (a forward blob with a hammer unit and support units, or assault elements; and a rear blob with heavy weapons and specialist teams or tactical squad) might make a good pincer team.

With their rules, they're really up there with the Ultramarines, and Imperial Fists. Sure, they lack some of the other special rules like Tank Hunters that the Imperial Fists might otherwise gain, but they can certainly hold their own in this theatre. The Ld bonus is what sets them apart from the Fists though. Hence this is another force that is very viable if one wants a shooty and assaulty force to combine with other elements.

This is where things start to get interesting for the Blackshields in my opinion. And I'm torn on them.

Void Reavers gives deep strike to half of the none transported units if desired. This is great, but an additional 1d3 models will die to mishaps (and they will no doubt happen over the course of a tournament).

Unsanctioned Weaponry gives the force access to Xenos Deathlocks if they could take combi-bolters. This is something that I desperately want to love, as the option to model things like Necron Gauss Cannons on space marines is so cool that I totally dig what is going on here. However, the Deathlock rules themselves are not that crash hot … I'd almost prefer volkites over them to be honest. And when I sat down to do the math hammer on them, I would probably only want one or two of them per squad at most due to the "lethal exposure" rule that those weapons have -- I'll try to post about them at another point. Hence they're not all they're cracked up to be, although I can certainly see that having them en-masse could be a unit wipe out every turn for the Outlanders at the expense of one of their own. Hence they're a little bit like killing oneself with a plasma gun. Worth it in some situations. More to come on this I think.

Finally the Shadow of Oblivion balances all these bonuses and means that once half casualties have been reached in terms of sheer number of units, then the rest of the team starts teleporting back away. This makes the entire force a big glass cannon and a risky proposition.

I really want to like these guys and model up a large unit of Xenos Tech armed marines. Heck, I've already done this anyway with my Alpha Legion (see particularly my Scouts with necron weapons). It makes them a real glass cannon in a lot of ways. I need to think about how to take a large blob of deep striking S=5 Xenos weapon teams in to play here though. I regard them as very attractive and very playable overall!

By selecting one of three special rules, the Chymeriae can be as adaptable as the Alpha Legion in many ways and tailored to an enemy. In terms of background, they're supposed to represent marines that shouldn't otherwise exist: mutants (think: warp affected / Word Bearer cast offs), accelerated implantation programmes (think: Raven Guard), or engineered (think: Fabius Bile creations but done by a different apothecary). These Chimeriae Attributes all have bonuses to stats and negatives, as well as special rules.

Option 1 (bonuses to S and T coupled with penalty to I and other running rules) is a solid choice for survivability and close combat teams.
Option 2 (bonuses to WS and BS, negatives to Ld) is attractive for shooting armies, but I'd be really concerned that they're going to flee off the board very fast, so we'd need a way to counteract this on the board through other means. And I'm not really seeing the other means at this stage. I don't think I'd use this.
Option 3 (bonus special rules at the expense of -1BS) makes for a solid close combat orientated team.

I like option 1 the best of all to be honest, just for the +1 in toughness. This is amazing, and strictly better than what even the Iron Hands have.

Of course, this comes at the expense of Shunned and Distrusted which means no allies if they're the primary detachment. Period.

Overall, I think this is a very characterful option (and a strong option too!) for legions like the Word Bearers, Raven Guard, Emperor's Children and so on (even the World Eaters to a lesser extent) for allies. Well worth it if they can be utilised!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Prototype Despoiler

This miniature is probably going to be the last of my Hobby Update on the Alpha Legion. It is a prototype for a despoiler squad. For those not up to date with the lingo, a despoiler squad is a tactical squad who have given up their bolt guns for a close combat weapon. Explicitly, these guys have only a bolt pistol and a close combat weapon.

Many would question why one would want to do this. But remember: with a high capacity transport (plus assault ramp), there is a heap of attacks coming from such a squad. Even if they're not power weapons. On top of this, despoiler squads do not lose Fury of the Legion -- this can still be performed with bolt pistols. There's little not to like in my opinion when they have an appropriate transport.

This miniature is a conversion using pieces from PuppetsWar. The circular saw represents the close combat weapon. The intent here is that the Alpha Legion have invented (or stolen?) a new piece of technology that they are field-testing in some volunteer's armour. Since I've only got this one assembled thus far, he is being used as a counts-as squad sergeant with a power fist for the moment, until the rest of his squad is done and dusted.  

I'm very pleased with the painting so far. I've been working hard on the head region in the final detailing recently, but more attention is needed there, and on the bare metal scratches showing through the gleaming blue-green armour. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Master of Signal

One of the key ingredients of my Alpha Legion forces is the Master of Signal. This guys is amazing on the table top. Sure, we're paying some 100 points for a once-only large template weapon, but it is high strength and AP3. This makes all the difference for alpha striking (pun not intended) - especially when deployed against 40k armies. I have had great luck with this against the Eldar, as well as all flavours of space marine armies.

In latter turns, I use him to give BS=5 to heavy support or a tactical squad (fury of the legion at BS=5 is terrific to say the least, but krak missiles are also hugely valuable when they hit their armoured targets).

The miniature itself is a conversion that I've detailed previously, but wanted to originally run as a saboteur.  The painting at the moment is tabletop ready, but I've got more work to do with the highlighting and details. Some of the computer array on his wrist is approaching completion, and it reminded me a little of a mini-mac keyboard, so I wanted to try "backlit" keys. But now, I'm a bit "meh" on that idea and just went for yellow illumination with some red keys. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Autilon Skorr (counts as)

Leading some of my Alpha Legion 30k armies is this chap, Autilon Skorr. I take him because of his special ability to select his warlord trait from the strategic traits. Which inevitably means that I select Master of Ambush!

The miniature here is a conversion of necessity. I could not attend the special Forge World events to purchase the correct miniature, and I am unwilling to pay over the odds from eBay or similar. So this miniature is my take on Skorr.

I am most of the way there to completing Skorr now. Some highlights need to be completed and as with a number of my Alpha Legion miniatures, the weapons still merit attention (or at least more than they have received thus far).

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Tactical and Veteran Marines

Some basic Alpha Legion troopers here today -- or possibly veteran marines, depending on which variety of army list I am playing.

They are at a reasonable level of painting, but a lot remains to be done. Some highlighting is yet to be undertaken, and the attention to the fine detail has not started on many of them yet. In particular, the Oaths of the Moment need starting yet!

On the battlefield, I've had mixed success with them. I like using them as veterans and as such, they perform as well as can be expected. I usually select Fearless as their veteran rule and team them up with someone like Skorr to give them a good punching power in close combat. This usually works out well, so long as I don't get them inside a tarpit of Eldar (as memory serves!).

Friday, August 12, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Heavy Support Squad

Arguably my most valuable battlefield asset, this heavy support squad features eldar missile launchers that continue the theme of stolen technology and illegal technology that the Alpha Legion has reverse engineered and put to their own uses. Just because.

As with my earlier squads, they've reached a mature level of finish, but have not quite finished painting up as the reverse shot of the gun-kata marine demonstrates. There's some metal scrapes yet to paint on, and the small details need attention. The missile launchers are mostly complete, replete with heating stains at their tips that originally I was not sure of, but the colours have grown on me over time. And yes -- there's devastator decals on their right shoulder pads for the curious, and the sergeant has terminator legs.

On the battlefield, I would not be without them to be honest. They have performed brilliantly ever game I've played. And when coupled with a Master of Signals for BS=5, they're particularly awesome at either the frag or the krak missiles that they've fired. Very effective and very deadly. Their only problem is when they get charged down by some deep striking unit that comes in nearby. I remember a particularly painful encounter with a squad of Khorne Bloodletters that wiped them out in a single turn. But that's to be expected; they are not kitted out for close combat -- they're in the army for the ranged touch they provide. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Tactical Support Squad

This tactical support squad is armed with melta guns and the sergeant has in his possession a power fist coupled with a melta bomb. Several of their members are sporting gun kata poses, and all of them have had their height increased through thigh lengthening (i.e. true scale marines). Although true scaling marines really hammers the hobby mojo overall, the final result is worth while. This squad was actually the first to undergo the true scale process, and as such its not the best job I've done. However, the paint scheme with its dents and shiny armour showing through in places hides the worst atrocities of this process, and I've learnt a lot through this squad about the methodology.

As with my Alpha Legion terminators, these marines are very close to completion. Just some attention needed on their weapons and small scale pouches (etc.) and I'll be happy. Its simply a matter of time now!

On the battlefield, I've either played them as the squad that deep strikes through Armillus Dynat's warlord trait, or I have just used a few of them as a special weapons marine inside of a veteran tactical squad. They usually die in my games, but not before they've done some appropriate damage with their melta weapons. And that's fine -- they're worth their points in the damage they can wreck even if they don't survive particularly well. 

In case you're wondering, the grey knights back packs are there to signal that they're developed some kind of unique teleporting technologies and that is what Dynat's special rule is suggesting in a narrative sense. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Alpha Legion Hobby Update: Tartaros Terminators

A number of people have been asking me how my Alpha Legion army is going, how it is playing, and how my hobby (and the mojo thereof) is doing. Hence I thought I would post a brief series of posts about each of the completed units I've done for my 30k force. First up, my Tartaros Terminators.

Their current status is largely finished. There are a few painting jobs yet to take care of yet -- mostly fine details. I need to complete the battle damage and scratches, as well as look more closely at their equipment pouches, the plasma detail, and the detail on the weapons. Otherwise, they're already doing very well. The pictures are a front view and a side on view that gives a good idea of where they're at and their decals (etc.). 

On the battlefield, they're performing as well as I was hoping. I field them either with infiltrate (mutable tactics), or inside a land raider or storm eagle. They're armed with a thunder hammer on the squad sergeant and a plasma blaster on one of the brothers. Hence they're always getting the charge in, and frequently doing very well. Although in one game they did double up as objective sitters. I'm very pleased overall with this squad and will be finishing the fine detail as time permits.

A pair of single miniature shots to round off the post. I hope you like how these marines have turned out (and are turning out!) -- I am certainly fond of them!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Xiaphas Jurr

Tribute from the tribes of Proximal, Jurr was taken in by the Salamanders and trained as a Chaplain on Nocturne.

He was never at Isstvan, but instead was tasked by Rhy'tan to determine what had happened in that system -- a job at which he revelled in and was able to draw in many Salamanders around him by his own zeal.

His Burning Halo is a strong addition for a Chaplain model -- it effectively burns all around him if he makes a save against a high strength incoming him. On top of that, it proves a 4+ invulnerable save that is very valuable (and becomes a 3+ save with the dragon scale storm shield -- just like the Salamanders legion was intended to play!).

He comes with all the usual stuff that a Chaplain comes with, but has a bonus pip in Ld.

More than this though. He is a minor psyker (level 1). He therefore is not only a Chaplain, but gives the army some much needed action in the psychic phase of the game.

Beware using psychic powers here though. If he suffers a perils of the warp, he uses a Ld = 7 value and he could be in real trouble.

His in-built warlord trait is sound (re-rolling the first failed pinning or morale check every game turn), but some may prefer to roll on the charts instead. Only useful if he's not in reserve though, and still on the board. If Cassian Dracos is around, then this makes no difference ultimately.

I think Jurr is an excellent character that is well worth his points value. He could be a real threat in a low points value game and I could certainly see him leading a large tactical squad on board a Storm Eagle or land raider in to battle.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Kheron Ophion of the Kyroptera

Something of an aberration amongst the Night Lords, Ophion was not much given to practicality and the gruesome subtleness of his parent legion. Frankly, he sounds more like an Ultramarine, or a hero of the Emperor's Children or Dark Angels.

It was his unexpected bravery that meant that the Night Lords were not entire annihilated at the culmination of the Thramas Crusade as he entered it with his cruiser, the Shroud of Eventide.

Ophion has several things going for him. His Bloody Aegis grants him a truly amazing 3+ invulnerable save in close combat. Plus it reduces (potentially) his opponent's WS by a factor of 2 if they roll a natural 1 to hit. He is therefore going to be very strong in challenges and in combat in general. This calls for him to be taking the fight to the enemy as soon as possible.

The arguably not ironically titled rule The Coward means that he gains Feel no Pain as he loses wounds. (And it gets better when he's down to his last rule). I particularly like this rule!

Finally his warlord trait is nicely titled Aberrant Bravery. When possessing less VPs than the enemy, he creates a bubble of stubbornness around him that is really cool. Recall that in 30k, stubborn is at a premium and therefore this is an amazing boon overall. More than this, he can re-roll and game ending die rolls (or his opponent) if he wants the game to go on (or cease!).

As a Master of the Legion, he is not highly decked out in state of the art arms. Take his armour for instance, it is merely a 3+ save. The power axe is nice though, but the volkite serpenta could be better.

A very reasonably priced HQ selection for the Night Lords that is also very fluffy. I think armies could very well be designed around him: take in a bubble of terminators and wrap in a land raider and take something like pride of the legion and it has the makings of a devastating force potentially.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Cassian Dracos Reborn

Left for dead on the plains of Isstvan by the traitors, Cassian Dracos did not succumb to his fate, but lived on in spite of everything going on around him!

He took some damage in the process, but came out of the ordeal with something extra.

I will refer the reader to my previous article on Dracos for more information on the baseline dreadnought. His wrought by Vulkan rule is still very strong!

Compared to his previous incarnation, Cassian Dracos can now use the Mechanicum's "magical" powers (i.e. cybertheurgy). Additionallly, he has the Rite of Rededication that means he can potentially take control of an enemy robot and make an immediate shooting attack with it. This could be amazing in the right situation!

Given that he took an orbital lance strike, his side and rear armour have dropped by one pip each. This means that his rear facing is especially vulnerable compared to what it was and this merits attention.

His warlord trait becomes fixed, and in addition he can be warlord if no other valid HQ's are there apart from Narik Dreygur or Xiaphas Jurr.

This is a nice update to Dracos that is befitting for the shattered legions and their forces. A fluffy choice, and one that will still pack a punch and gives tactical play to try to avoid getting the rear armour shot at. His points value is still very high (more than a land raider) and I would personally prefer his previous incarnation. So, play fluffily and enjoy.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Shadrak Meduson

Whole books can (and have!) been written about Meduson (and even a book that was about him, but turned out to be not him, but Alpha Legion infiltrators -- see the Seventh Serpent from the Black Library). 

Post betrayal, Meduson took command of the shattered legions and led them to righteous retribution over the traitor legions, all the while hunted by Tybalt Marr and his Emperor's Children allies. He is so good at command that he even made an attempt on the lives of Horus, Mortarion and Fulgrim. 

Meduson is a Praetor of the Iron Hands and their leader, after Ferrus Manus died at the hands of Fulgrim. As a Praetor, he is a reasonable quality one with several nice pieces of kit, including a rending S+1 AP3 blade and an archeotech pistol. 

However, what really sets him apart is his Master of the Shattered Legions rules. With this, he not only is an Iron Hands marine, but he also counts as a Salamander and a Raven Guard. He can use any rite of war from all three legions which makes for some solid combinations. This has come about from alloying together the disparate members of these three legions to make a force to be reckoned with, and it is a really beautiful and well fitting rule that is unique in all of the Horus Heresy. 

Additionally, once per game, he can Raise the Storm as his warlord trait and give all his army with any of the three shattered legions special rules all of furious charge, hatred and crusader. This can be powerful and if timed well can be the execution stroke. 

Meduson lacks an AP2 weapon and must be played accordingly. Although his rending rule make up for this somewhat, one must remember that rending is not AP2. 

Having furious charge might not do much for Raven Guard members of his shattered legions force as they may already have it. 

Look, you could use Meduson as an Iron Hand Praetor and build accordingly -- he is worth his points and will serve your army well, particularly with his warlord trait. But really, I would want to toy about with possible builds for a shattered legions force with Meduson as the Praetor -- very fluffy and very powerful to be clear!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Tybalt Marr

Featuring in the early Horus Heresy novel series from the Black Library, Tybalt Marr's name (also known as "The Either") will be familiar to many readers. It is therefore very good to see him in Forge World's publications too, with rules!

Post Isstvan, he was charged with hunting down loyalist survivors. He thought he had Meduson dead. He was wrong and was subsequently charged with being a lone wolf to slaughter the Shattered Legions once and for all by Horus.

Marr is something of an enigma to play. His warlord trait seems to be one of denial. Any enemy deployed within 24 inches of him suffers a pinning test. To be fair, this could be very strong, but without any modification to leadership, most units will pass on approximately a "9" or less on 2d6 I would think. Therefore the temptation to deploy close to the enemy if one has infiltrate or scouts is still present and not hindered by Marr's presence. Of course, one could try to give Marr scouts himself somehow (don't ask me how) to improve the number of enemy units taking such tests, but that's about the extent of it that I can see.

His equipment is okay for a praetor. A decent close combat weapon with artificer armour and an iron halo make him a reasonable threat all round. Banestrike ammunition combined with preferred enemy: loyalists is very neat as well. He's therefore a sound replacement praetor for a fluffy choice to obtain Master of the Legion.

As discussed above, the pinning test is not all that strong and not much of a deterrent or threat to the enemy at large. I wouldn't be so bothered, for instance, if playing loyalist Alpha Legion to not infiltrate close to him. Take the gamble that I will pass the pinning test and get going with my tactics regardless.

Marr is probably worth the points value -- just! I simply don't think his unique warlord trait is all that good though -- it is very tough to make use of, and he's still going to get ambushed by Raven Guard, Alpha Legion and others who will gamble against passing a pinning test. His weapons don't have terrific AP, they're there for the bane strike and for the instant death rule overall. Perhaps team up with veteran squads or terminator squads (or Justaerin) for the preferred enemy rule from Marr?

In other words: play for the fluff, and act accordingly. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Gahlan Surlak

I have some genuine sympathy for the World Eaters. Well, more than I have for the Night Lords at any rate. And of the World Eaters, the fall from grace of Gahlan Surlak is one that might be entirely predictable. As one of the leading apothecaries of his legion, he used to be serious about his job of returning brothers to the battlefield as soon as possible. But this sank in to the background as the Heresy took hold. By amping up the Butcher's Nails, he ensured that they would either come back victorious, or dead. There was becoming little need for him.

One of the main rules to be aware of here is the Exhortation of Butchery special rule that applies to all World Eaters apothecaries and primus medicae from after the Shadow Crusade (008.M31). This gives a bonus to attacks, at the (1 in 6) risk of dying in the same assault phase. This is voluntary and can be chosen or activated every assault phase by the controlling player. This is a huge boon to the World Eaters and entire armies can be constructed around it.

For Surlak personally, he is the master of inductees. He can turn troops in to +1S, FnP, -1BS no scoring units if he desires. This is a very nice bonus that in conjunction with the Exhortation of Butchery rule can bring around swift victories in close combat.

Surlak is not a compulsory HQ, just like other Primus Medicae. Therefore you need a genuine HQ selection such as a praetor. That shouldn't be too much of a problem for the World Eaters one hopes!

A very characterful addition to the World Eaters traitors and important for the addition and introduction of the Exhortation of Butchery special rule. Worth the points value, and clearly an important component of any Bodt campaign.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Horus Heresy Review: Endryd Haar

A true survivor in many ways. Elevated prior to even the War Hounds having a name, Haar has seen it all. Initiated within the first intake for Legio XII, Haar was part of the War Hounds and then part of the World Eaters, and then betrayed whilst the bulk of his legion was elsewhere (i.e. Isstvan). He is the literal remains of a lost age along with about 3 of his other brothers. And he is a true loyalist.

His warlord trait (Fangs of the Emperor) can provide scouts to up to three units and prevent them being pinned at the expense of never going to ground. As such, he can have a loyalist army built around him. When coupled with fast moving components (bikes, etc.), such an army could be truly devastating through alpha striking.

He has a variant of the World Eaters special rules which helps in challenges potentially, and subsides the blood lust special rule.

On top of this, he's a master of the legion and can be combined with other loyalist elements (and blackshields) readily without conflict of their special rules.

He has a very nice set up that is flexible for a number of builds. That said, he can't be upgraded and tailored like a generic praetor can be.  This merits the same thoughts as using any other named character.

A very likeable and generic World Eater / War Hound / Blackshield that can be run in a good number of ways and armies (loyalists; blackshields). Probably just about worth his points cost as well.

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