Monday, September 18, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Acastus Knight Porphyrion


Background.
Rounding off our examination of units from Inferno, we have the Knight Porphyrion. This is a brand new chassis in the Horus Heresy and one that is very rare. Indeed, even the largest of Houses only have a couple as it is the ultimate sign of the Machine god's favour.

The background story behind them seem a bit odd as well: only those who have fought a brother over a matter of honour seem to obtain them.

Other than that, they are the supreme enforcers of a House's will over their scions.

Strength.
It is a Knight. It is great.

More specifically though. It has a pair of magna las cannons that are twin linked. These dish out a large blast with Ordnance 2 and AP2 at S=10. Magnificent really!

Combined with this, it comes with auto cannons as standard along with iron storm missiles. Overall, this is a lethal level of firepower that will attract attention from across the board from all enemies. And rightly too. For if this Knight is not dealt with, it will represent a significant threat to most units across the board.

On top of this, it has BS=5 and good armour compared to other knights and a healthy hull point count.

Weaknesses. 
This is not a close combat knight. Forget it. It is a shooty knight.

Builds.
Although I like the naked knight, I do like this one as well:

Porphyrion with autocannons replaced with Irad-Cleanser (495 points).
Ouch. Just ouch. This is deadly to everything. Swap to las cannons if you have the points. It matters little. It is still a beast!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Vultarax Stratos-Automata Maniple


Background.
Hunter-killer. Rapid response. A scout. A lethal exploratory. An early mobile gun platform for the Great Crusade to help humanity expand its empire through the stars themselves. And a silent tribute to the Forge World of Anetarbraxus that was shattered to molten shards in the Mandragoran Incursion.

Strengths.
It is fundamentally a highly mobile weapons platform that in the future of 40k would become notorious for being blighted by Nurgle.

The weapons are standard fare to rather nice. They include two havoc missile launcher bays, a vultarax arc blaster that comes in handy with the Haywire rule at S=6, and a set of optional power blades that have rending at AP2.

Weaknesses.
The Vultarax has very few weaknesses realistically, although it will struggle against certain terminators in melee unless it takes the power blades.

Builds.
3 Vultarax with power blades (570 points).
Expensive to be clear, but a very valuable asset on the table top that will certainly give any opponent a moment's pause to consider their options.

1 Vultarax, power blades, blessed simulacra (200 points).
A distraction, albeit a very powerful one. This can lurk behind some cover on deployment only to come out in to the open to rain death and then scoot to engage in close combat. Its a bit of a deal with it, or it will deal with you kind of arrangement. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Karacnos Assault Tank


Background.
A Triaros tank that has had its interior fitted with the mechanisms for the support of a weapon that should have been banned by the Geneva Convention and never made it through to the 30th millennium. The shells are (and I quote) "small plasma implosion devices wrapped around  highly toxic radium-cobalt isotope cores". If this description along didn't want to make a world press for a good deal and join the Imperium, I'm not sure anything would.

Strengths.
The main weapon of this tank is horrendous (as suggested above). It is heavy 3 with a range of special add on rules including the deadly rad-phage as well as ignoring cover saves. Although the AP is only 4, it makes up for it in the wealth of bonus rules it gets and can really be a great weapon for taking our infantry by the bucket load. Even terminators from the Death Guard would look at this weapon twice.

Beyond that, the side sponsons have their own little servitor brains that mean they can target different units and snap shot at BS=2. The armour on the front is a great AV=14 as well, and it comes with the shock ram that the Triaros takes as standard.

Weaknesses.
The tank has hazardous munitions that mean it can explode with a large radii. So one might want to keep one's own infantry a little bit away from the tank. Just in case.

Other than that, the points value might plausibly put some players off wanting this unit, but not many.

Builds.
Just one to toy about with given that there are very few upgrades available here.

Karacnos, with blessed auto simulacra and smoke launchers (235 points).
You could add other things like extra armour or hunter killer missiles. But they're not strictly needed. I personally like the blessed autosimulacra rule myself, so that is why it is present. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Secutarii Hoplite Phalanx


Background.
The Hoplite Phalanx is the mainstay of the Secutarii forces. They are equipped to cope with challenging battlefields and to seek out and destroy enemy infantry who might otherwise be seeking to put an end to the towering monstrosities of the machine god itself. Beyond that, they are rather good at some small scale fights far from the feet of the titans and should not be underestimated.

Strengths.
The main strengths of this unit comes from a combination of the war gear that they are carrying. The 5+ invulnerable save from the mag-inverter shields is excellent and on par with terminators. The Kyropatris field generator argues for large sized squads to make the most of the bonuses that it gives to saves and penalties to incoming firepower. Meanwhile, the arc lance itself is a really nice weapon in both melee and short range which double up as a vehicle killer thanks to its haywire properties.

Weaknesses.
The main problem with this unit is the toughness of three characteristic. Yes, they have the invulnerable saving throw and a feel no pain save as well. Yes, the interlocking protocols of the Kyropatris fields is going to keep them alive longer. Fundamentally, however, the sheer weight of incoming fire will force them to take too many saves in the long term. In some ways, this is reflected in their price value. Coupled with this, the arc lance is certainly not a long range weapon. So if they want to go hunting, they need a method to get close. The Triaros transport is therefore recommended if they are not lurking at the feet of a titan.

Builds.
There are not too many upgrades available here: most of them are about the Alpha of the squad. So, I will keep the build suggestions short, accordingly.

Hoplites with 10 members, Alpha with radium pistol and Omnispex (145 points).
Something of a baseline unit here. Grab a transport and go hunting, or keep near the feet of a titan. Or just hunker down in a bunker.

Hoplites with 20 members, Alpha with radium pistol and Omnispex (265 points).
A squad for the feet of a titan. Take augury scanner and shatter spheres to taste.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Secutarii Peltast Phalanx


Background.
These guys are the hammer on which lesser beings are smashed for the machine god, short of the titans themselves. Their role in the Secutarii army is to concentrate fire power against anything that would be an ambusher, or hide away in cover and take out a super heavy. As such, they are a very offensively designed unit and one that has the potential to excel in a number of areas of the game -- for a price.

Strengths.
The customisability of this unit is very nice. I think there are several roles here. The first one is to arm them all with arc rifles and then go hunting for tanks to take out with haywire grenades. The second is to use the S4 AP3 shots of hammer shot rounds to take out space marine enemies. The third is to go down the radium route and max out the number of wounds inflicted. The fourth is to provide shrouded through their special Blind Barrage rule. With two units of these using it, it can even provide shrouded to a super heavy!

Weaknesses.
Toughness of 3. Save of 4+. They are not the best troops in the game, but with a little thought (or a dedicated transport) they will survive long enough to hang around to get a job done.

Plus, they can get expensive. As the build below will illustrate.

Builds.
10 Peltasts, all with arc rifles (220 points).
This is a dedicated tank hunter build. Place them in a transport to get close enough then unleash the volley of haywire. Halve the number of arc rifles if you are feeling lucky and to save on points -- I think I prefer to keep the numbers high and the chances of extreme unlucky failure low though.

10 Peltasts, hammershot rounds, Alpha with Omnispex (160 points).
A bit more of a baseline build, and one that can take out space marine squads.

10 Peltasts, all with radium carbines, Alpha with Omnispex and augury scanner (135 points).
Again, they will need a transport, but they can cause all sorts of problems for an ill prepared enemy.

20 Peltasts, Alpha with radium pistol, refractor field, Omnispex and augury scanner (260 points).
Weight of numbers. That is all. Take multiple squads for shrouding your favourite nearby titan.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Old Earth

Announced today via the Warhammer Community website, the latest Horus Heresy book from the Black Library that will be hitting the shelves in December this year is entitled "Old Earth" with the subtitle of "The the Gates of Terra". 

Ostensively a Salamanders Legion book, it promises to tell the tale of what happens next in Primarch Vulkan's on-going saga. On-going, since he simply will not die. Having been bodily transported to Mount Deathfire, he re-awakens once more at the end of the previous book. The outline for Old Earth suggests that he will have to choose between vengeance and duty. I think the title of the book kind of gives away what he might be choosing ultimately. However, we know in the background tales it is the White Scars (already depicted in the Horus Heresy series) and Blood Angels who reach Terra to join up with the Imperial Fists to defend against the oncoming storm of traitors and chaos powers. So what is with Vulkan choosing to go to Earth? Presumably he doesn't make it? Or is somehow way-laid. Or better yet, unlike the promotional material, perhaps he does opt for vengeance after all and that is why he never made it back. Heck, Vulkan has been put through literal hell between what happened to him at the hands of his brother, Night Haunter, and several other things besides (burning up in an atmosphere being near the top of the list as well). 

More than this, there is a throw-away line in the description for Old Earth that really got me interested. There are rumours of the mysterious return of Ferrus Manus as well. I mean, what the? How did this come about? Surely at best he was a fragment of a conscience inside Fulgrim's rattling brain. 

On the upside, only a few more months to wait to determine the answer to these riddles and questions. Will any ret-conning be happening? Or will Vulkan and the Salamanders never make it back to the Throne World after all. I'm going to wager on the latter. They won't deviate from the established background that significantly. Let's just not talk about Emperor Sanguinius, okay?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Secutarii Axiarch


Background.
Axiarchs are the leaders of the Secutarii cult within the Mechanicus. Rather than being selected on merit, they are chosen for having defended a downed titan, or having recovered one from the field -- one of the most "sacred" of tasks that the sect are called on to perform. Subject to further testing and evaluation, they are then rebuilt in armour forged from a dead titan and upgraded with protocols to replace parts of their brain. The outcome is something beyond a space marine.

Strengths.
First of all, the stat line of an Axiarch is splendid. Strictly better than a space marine baseline with three wounds and attacks, this is a character to be reckoned with. Moreover, it is also a cheap character for the baseline price.

The Axiarch comes with a small artillery of special rules and equipment. Firstly the Titanshard armour is basically power armour with added bonuses. The It Will Not Die rule chief amongst them means that this HQ will not go down without a prolonged fight. This is magnificent in the 30k environment for a HQ to have outside of a Primarch, and at such cheap points levels too.

One of the main reasons for having the Axiarch though is the ability to select fro the Binaric Stratagems. There are four of these and each of them applies to Secutarii in the detachment that have the Hazard Protocols. The first gives a bonus to feel no pain, the second move through cover, the third a bonus on the vehicle damage table roll, and the fourth preferred enemy against infantry. This can be a tough choice as I like many of these. Move through cover is somewhat situational, so I would probably opt for one of the others. Given that the titan should be working against enemy vehicles, the extra pip in vehicle damage is not too important. Hence I'd prefer either the preferred enemy for better aggression, or the feel no pain bonus for better defensiveness. I would err on the side of the feel no pain probably.

Weaknesses.
The chief weakness is the 3+ armour save. It is probably wise to invest in some invulnerable saves for this character via a mag-inverter shield as part of the build perhaps, but a cheap Axiarch can still be had at the baseline entry to take advantage of the precision shots. Just make sure to join him up with a unit to gain some additional benefit from the Kyropatris Field.

Builds.
A pair of builds to consider below.

Axiarch with power fist (65 points).
Cheap. Cheerful. Yet still powerful and a character to contend with.

Axiarch with arc lance and mag-inverter shield, omnispex and augury scanner (90 points).
Take shatter spheres to taste if wanted. This build combines offence with defence and can be very good in various situations that require him to take on enemy infantry.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Horus Heresy Review: Secutarii Titan Guard Rules


Background material evaluation.
Developed in parallel to the Skitarii legions, the Secutarii share many of the ancient and near unknowable ways of old Mars. Their purpose is, simply put, to defend the titan legions. This might seem absurd at some level. But there are many threats to titans. The Secutarii are there to take care of would be ambushers and human sized targets that would simply not regularly be targeted by the building-shaking and tank-busting weaponry of the titans. Further, they are there to mop up the human sized remnants of anything the titans blow up. Like the people who are being transported in tanks or the ones taking cover in a bunker that the titan targets. They are also regularly deployed to defend a titan landing zone or just generally help with the titan legions, as required.

 In all of this, the background of the Secutarii comes across as very in line with the Martian way of doing things. They are highly dedicated to the machine god and go about cybernetically enhancing themselves and replacing critical organs with ones that do not possess the weaknesses of the flesh.

Rules Review.
Firstly, it is important to note that the Secutarii deploy as Taghmata. However, unless one possesses a titan in the army list, they cannot be used as compulsory selections. This makes a lot of sense really.

As Titan Guard, they are literally inspired to insane levels of bravery and therefore re-roll morale and feel no pain rolls within a wide bubble of any titan. This rule encourages the Secutarii to stay close to a nearby titan. This is fluffy and ultimately a good thing for the flavour of this army.

With Secutarii Hazard Protocols, they can act as one and boost their BS and snap shot BS for one turn. This comes at the expense of being able to make run moves (you probably were not going to do that anyway I'd think) and a penalty to WS and I.

The Kyroptis Field is a small field generator contained in each Secutarii that gets stronger (overlaps or constructively reinforces each other) with larger numbers close together. With 5 models, you get a re-roll of "1" for saving throws. With 10 or more, they get an Iron Hands inspired reduction in incoming fire by one. This is amazing and encourages large blobs of Secutarii to be deployed. Of course, this being Horus Heresy, you were probably erring on the side of large blobs of troops anyway I would suspect.

The Omnispex is a cute addition to some units causing a penalty in cover saving throw. Obviously this is situational, but can be very powerful.

Beyond these rules, some of their weapons provide for interesting options including rules like Haywire. Other special rules include Rad Poisoning that deals 2 wounds instead of 1 wound when the to-wound roll is a natural 6. Parabolic shot meanwhile means that one need not have a direct line of sight to the target which can be useful in some situations (e.g., hiding behind Titan's legs!).

Overall.
The Secutarii are an army list that wants to go big and try to stay close to Titans. In some ways it reminds me of a human cyborg version of 40k Tyranids, but with different options and the big beasts costing heaps more!


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