Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cartoon Bad Guys (and Good Guys)

In this short article, I wanted to briefly talk about a few views that have been developing in the back of my mind with the recent releases that we have seen from Games Workshop -- and specifically the Death Guard chaos space marine faction for 40k.

My long term readers will know that I have owned a Death Guard army of one flavour or another since my youth. In modelling the Death Guard post-Heresy, I have long opted for the green colours of decay mixed in with browns and reds of flowing blood and the occasional purple of diseased flesh. Combined together, they make for a gritty and rather grim interpretation of the downfall of a once great legion and represents the monsters that they have become. Unconcerned with the feelings of the flesh and the dents in their armour, with the odd mutation here and there, they are a particular type of repugnant that only the grim dark can fathom.

In the new releases of the Death Guard, I have become a little concerned that the representation of these notorious bad guys has become a little bit more cartoonish. By this, I mean that the mutations have become almost laughable -- not so much the subtle change here and there, an odd horn growing out of the head or an addition to the armour, but a big gut of teeth and a mouth in the place of a stomach. Not some revealed corrupted flesh where the armour has dropped off, but exposed spines leaking gaseous effluent.

Now before I go further, I will readily concede the point that the ancient Great Unclean One miniature had a belly full of teeth option. So these kinds of changes are not without precedent by any means. The opening of the guts to intestines and the baring of naked spines have long since been with the Death Guard and the daemons of Nurgle in general.

However, the thing that is new for me is the sheer degree and the in-your-face style of these mutations. Many of the newer space marines in the Death Guard seem almost like an exaggerated cartoon of themselves in a number of regards. The over the top tentacles instead of arms. The exposed flesh is on almost every miniature. Combined with the proportions, it all adds up for me as being an army that now looks too cartoonish rather than inherently dark and foreboding. To much Skeletor's assistants, and too little fallen from grace.

Okay. Those are probably controversial views. I suspect that the comments below will soon have people chipping in saying they like the new sculpts. I can see merit in the sculpts, to be clear. But I do wish that not every single Death Guard marine was so over the top with the mutations and naked flesh. Just a little bit more subtle fallen angels please, and less of the cartoon bad guy would make it much better for me.

Let me end by saying something positive. I like the new Mortarion. In fact, I like this interpretation of the primarch even better than the Forge World sculpt. It shows him in his full corruption. Still wearing the battle plate from millennia ago. Still wielding his preferred scythe. Still holding Lantern. Still everything that he was. Yet darker. More grim. A true spectre on the battlefield. With appropriate levels of Nurgle built in along with the wings. His visage is that of a man who has been through a lot and has grudges unfulfilled. I really dig it.

Okay, I'm going to hide from the flak now...

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.

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