Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Review: Most Hit Article

The top 5 articles from Warpstone Flux this year were a bit of a mixture, but several revolved around rumours and the new CSM codex (as might be expected!):

5. Ghost Knight Terminator Justicar.  Demonstrating once more that a simple head-swap can make a huge difference!

4. Of Helbrutes and Dreadnoughts.  Can we please retain the name "dreadnought"?

3. CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Lord.  The Warpstone Flux review of the Chaos Lord seems to be highly popular with visitors, with many many searches landing on this page.

2. Typhus and Plague Zombie armies.  Can lots of zombies be bought for this unit, or does that count as an "upgrade".  At the time of the post, there were lots of opinions either way!  We now know we can buy extra members of the squad thanks to the FAQ.

1. Dark Apotheosis.  Concerning rumour of leaked pages from the new CSM codex.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Review: Painting

Gaming seems to have come strongly ahead of painting for me this year: very few new miniatures got their paintwork completed compared to previous years.  Here's the top 5 from 2012:

5. Possessed Raptor Lord.  Although I've not played him as much as I would have liked to, this guy really stands out for me on the tabletop and within my collection.

4. Bye bye Goblin Green... I got a bit nostalgic and the old paint pots no longer being produced.  Although I do like the newer paints now, I still miss the names of the old ones and did get frustrated that my formulae can no longer be applied.

3. Ghost Knight shoulder pad painting experiment.  How can I get the ghost knights of Mordrak looking like they have a good, un-natural effect?

2. What colour is ceramite?  Not so much an article about painting, but a discussion about what colour unpainted ceramite should be!

1. Power Claw Daemon Prince.  This beastie has seen action on multiple fronts for the best part of the year and I've enjoyed taking numerous images of him during battles.  He typically doesn't survive despite the good paintwork though!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Review: The New Chaos Space Marine Codex

In 2012, the new chaos space marine codex was reviewed.  Warpstone Flux took an indepth look at all the options contained within the new codex, gathered together under the CSMin6thReviews label.  These posts were, naturally, very popular with readers and were the most read articles on Warpstone Flux this entire year.  But which of them topped the reading charts?

In reverse order, the top 5 were:

5. Chaos Terminators.  The changes to the rules see chaos terminators as popular as ever: they're still cheaper than the loyalists, but there are shortcomings by comparison, yet they're highly customizable.  What battlefield role would you like them to execute?

4. Heldrake. Its new.  Its being talked about extensively.  And I hope many other chaos players got one from Santa.  He's going to be awesome I think.  Except I still think the name should have two "l"s in it.

3. Daemon Prince. Despite a power drop in comparison to the previous codex, the daemon prince clearly remains popular.  I'm saddened at how the daemon prince has gone down myself, but its still got a place in my heart.

2. Chaos Space Marines troops themselves score second place.  The bread and butter of the chaos force (even despite the cultist option) remains exceptionally popular.

1. Chaos Lord.  Naturally, one of the cheapest and most customizable HQ selections out there, the chaos lord topped readers interest in 2012.  There's so many ways to think about the humble(?) chaos lord, that its no surprise that this review was so popular.

There were a few other CSM posts that were also highly popular, particularly the rumours and early image leak discussions (e.g., challenges in the new codex and dark apotheosis). Indeed, dark apotheosis would have topped this chart if I'd have put the CSMin6thReviews label on it!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Review: Wargames Gallery

In this period between Christmas and New Year, I thought I would create a few posts about which of my 2012 articles gained the most "hits", or those that I simply thought were interesting.  First off the rank, are my Wargames Galleries: a collection of action shots of miniatures from our local league.

In reverse order of number of hits:
5. Group Hug.
++These crimson sands are ours++    The last stand of a pair of assault terminators, surrounded by daemons of Khorne and Tzeentch with a looming Soul Grinder.

4. Tau Overrun.
The Tau attempted a turn 1 victory against daemons by using a huge amount of firepower to cleanse the board of the daemons' preferred first wave. Despite a near perfect set-up, the firepower of the Tau was unable to overcome the string of (frankly) amazing invulnerable saves made by the daemons.  The remaining bloodcrushers raced to overrun the Tau positions as the second wave comes down to support the ground assault.

3. Heretic Blood Ravens.
Suspected of heresy in the Wasp campaign, the Blood Ravens captain prepares to face the onslaught from the Black Templars finest.

2. Daemonette Captures the Flag.
The daemonette secures the objective flag, supported by a soul grinder in the background.

1. Blood Crusher / Blood Raven.
Charging in to a squad of Blood Ravens, a Bloodcrusher lets out an unearthly battlecry as his steed's part-mechanical, part-deamonic feet cause the ground to tremble at every footfall.

So, it seems like I've been gaming a lot with my daemons this year!  And the bloodcrushers seem to be a strong theme - perhaps they're just very photogenic and a camera attractor?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Special Battle Report

Tire the children ( that they sleep tonight!).

Local Neighbourhood.

HQ and troops only.  HQ carries a letter (but no stamps), drinks, pram/pushchair/stroller (delete as culturally appropriate), change of clothes, nappies/diapers (delete as culturally appropriate), a small amount of money, mobile phone/cellphone, and other items essential to the troops well-being. The HQ is on foot only - no tanks other than the pushchair (which is too small for him to fit in).

Primary Objective:
Tire the children!

Secondary Objectives:
(i) Visit the playground.
(ii) Visit the post office and postbox.
(iii) Stay out for 2 hrs minimum (to give wife/fieldmarshal a break).

Special Rules:
(a) if the primary objective is met before secondary (iii), the entire mission is considered a failure.
(b) if it rains, the troops must not get wet (jumping in muddy puddles also counts), or if they do AND the fieldmarshal finds out, then the entire mission is considered a failure.

HQ and troops leave the field marshall and progress in to some terrain.  Going is difficult, but the troops locate some discarded mighty Khornate chainaxes (also known as sticks).  This might not end well already.

HQ takes a wound to the left shoulder from impulsive (inevitable?) chainaxe attack.

Heading uphill, the post office is on the horizon.  HQ joins the troops unit (i.e. hold hands!).

Secondary objective (ii) achieved.  Letter stamped and posted.  Troops request to ride on HQ shoulders.  Challenge accepted.

Head to the playground.  Troops fail dangerous terrain roll and stumble over losing a wound through grazing a knee.

The game continues in the playground.  Secondary objective (i) achieved.  Primary objective achieved a little while later.  Drinks used up.

The game continues.  Troops tired and request ride in pram all the way home.  Side effect: Primary Mission achieved for HQ as well as troops.  Arrive home: secondary objective (iii) achieved.

Phew!  What luck!  It didn't rain and there were no muddy puddles.  I got really lucky considering the skies were darkening with rain cloud!

Merry Christmas from Warpstone Flux!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Justaerin Terminators from FW

Forge World has recently put up some new Justaerin Terminators for advanced order.  These terminators are the Sons of Horus' elite: lead by none other than Abaddon in his Legion heyday.

The sculpts combine the aesthetic of the cataphractii terminators with some great touches of iconography: the Eye of Horus can be seen prominantly across the armour, the shoulder pads are studded as is one of the legs in this particular example.  Moreover, the bodies can be fitted with any of the cataphractii weapon options: power axes and twin-linked bolters as illustrated, or power fists and the like, very readily.  I think these guys look excellent and would certainly fit in well with any 40k chaos space marine force.  Moreover, I think they could also be the core of a "Fallen" Death Wing army for a Dark Angels army.  But that's a thought for future development...

(IMAGE taken from Forge World: its not my own).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Death Wing Assault

One of the main rumours that stood out to me about the new Dark Angels codex is the Death Wing assault rule.  BoLS suggests that the new version of Death Wing assault allows all the miniatures (i.e. Death Wing Terminators!) to arrive in turns 1 and 2.  With no rolling.  And the player gets to choose which come on.  This is strong.  Stronger than daemons in fact.  Consider that daemons have to randomize which wave comes on first turn (half their army) and then has to roll for reserves for the rest of the army coming on as per normal.  Death Wing assault - if true - surpasses this and makes the first company of the Dark Angels supreme in the early rounds of the game and is strictly better than the current Death Wing Assault rules.

*even more tempted by a Fallen list now...* 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dark Angels Codex -- Fallen Codex more like...!

So, the leaked pictures of the Dark Angels codex / next White Dwarf is now all over the internet.  I'm not going to post the images, you can look other blogs for them.

What I do want to comment on is the Death Wing miniatures.  I took one look at them and my immediate thought was their conversion potential for Fallen and other generic CSM terminators. The robes, combined with the positively archaic look (maces and shield) screams out an appeal to chaos in my mind.  I can certainly see some mixing and matching CSM terminators with those bits to achieve a unique and gothic look for some Fallen Dark Angels.  Hence I think I'm going to get the codex when it comes out and look for some conversion potential for a Chaos Fallen force.  Plague Wing; Blood Wing, etc. are all appealing to me here...!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Horus Heresy Review: Crysos Morturg and Durak Rask

There are two HQ selections for the Death Guard player, apart from Mortarion, in Betrayal.

The first is Crysos Morturg (loyalist).  He has the dubious distinction of being an Isstvan III atrocity survivor because he simply would not go down.  A very typical Death Guard trait methinks! Hence as a loyalist Death Guard player, he would make an ideal HQ choice for Betrayal.  To be fair, Morturg is a fairly "typical" space marine commander in terms of stats.  What does set him apart is his combination of special rules.  Alongside the usual Death Guard Astartes rules, he gets infiltrate, stubborn and Endurance (from biomancy) as a level 1 psyker. These are an interesting set of abilities, but not outstanding.  Hence, I think Morturg is a good (only!) selection for a named loyalist character, but I'd think a well built praetor is actually superior.  Therefore, we'll be playing Morturg for fluff reasons only.

The second HQ characters is Durak Rask (traitor).  Unlike Morturg, he didn't survive Isstvan III.  The character is a vehicle wrecker going by his wargear (thunder hammer) and special rules (wrecker and tank hunters).  He also grants the warlord trait of target priority which is a real boon (multiplier even) when played alongside friendly units.  Although he's probably not as good as a well thought-out praetor, he is worth taking in my opinion.  Team him up with some legion tactical support squads or legion heavy support squads and see what happens when you shoot opponents off objectives.  Move in to close combat (detaching from the squad in doing so) to mop up any final resistance.  Job done.  Worth taking.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is First Blood correlated with First Turn?

A question for those of you who organize tournaments or play a whole lot more games than I do.  Do you believe that the "First Blood" secondary objective in 6th edition is correlated with First Turn at all?

We're currently having a little debate within our own league about this one.  Although we have gone through a combined total almost 50 games in the past few months, we're none the wiser as we didn't record any solid statistics on the matter and only have our memories to rely on.  We can all recall games that went either way though.  But the question remains: does having first turn mean that you are (statistically) more likely to get first blood?

Opinions welcome.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Warpsmith; League Winnings

Very happy to receive a prize in the local league: a Warpsmith!  (very apt as well!).  Sincere thanks to palad84 for organizing the league and everyone else who I shared some great games and moments with!

Now, how should I best use a warpsmith?  Mark of Nurgle and within a scary Death Guard list?  Appealing ... and I'm yet to seriously game with my Death Guard in 6th, so I'm certainly leaning in that direction at the moment.  Suggestions welcome!

Wargames Gallery: Space Wolves, Imperial Guard and other Space Marines traffic jam

An epic melee: the Space Wolves drop pod in to the lines of another space marine chapter that have teamed up with Imperial Guard allies who are hunkered down behind an Aegis Defence line.  The shot was taken a week ago from one of our league matches - I really like the composition of this one!  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Forge World is Cheap (in AUD)

Consider this.  Forge World Mk.V Heresy Armour Marines (resin) x5 = 23 UKP.

Assuming an exchange rate of 1AUD to 0.65 UKP, this works out as 35.38 AUD for 5 marines.

1 box of Space Marines direct from Games Workshop is currently priced at 62 AUD.  That's 5 marines for 31 AUD.

Compare also a box of "combat squad" space marines, cost = 41 AUD for 5 marines.

So, we're now in an interesting era where Forge World resin marines cost significantly less than combat squad marines.  They're only a few AU dollars shy of a full boxed set of marines (when doubling the squad size to 10).  Is it a good time to be purchasing Forge World armies for the Horus Heresy?  Yes, I think so!  But note, that these Forge World marines don't come with armaments, so its probably not such a good comparison.  Moving on...

Let me illustrate something else that folks may find entertaining / depressing / interesting.  Consider an assault squad.  They cost 55 AUD at retail from Games Workshop Australia.  Compare this to a Forge World assault squad of Mk.II or IV or V power armour for 33 UKP.  Converting, 33 UKP = 50.77 AUD.  That's 5 dollars (ish!) cheaper than Games Workshop's plastic assault squad!  That's really quite remarkable!

Finally, I'll add that 5 cataphractii terminators are also valued at 33 UKP.  Add in the armaments (12 UKP) and that comes to 45 UKP.  A squad of terminators in Australia now retails for 74 AUD.  Doing the conversion, 45 UKP = 69.23 AUD.  That's once more cheaper by approx 5 dollars!  Again, I'm amazed!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forge World Jigsaw: Parts 1 and 2 Joined

Here's my attempt at joining together the first two parts of Forge World's teaser jigsaw.

This guy is really taking shape now.  The second part (on the left hand side as viewed) is clearly holding some kind of staff weapon.  Given the previous discussion about the type of armour that is being depicted here (likely Tartaros Plate) we're looking at a terminator.  But for me, the curve of the staff part is a strong - very strong - hint that we're looking a a DeathShroud marine: the weapon will be revealed to be a scythe in my opinion!  I'm quietly holding out on an outside chance that this is the big guy himself though... Greetings to my fellow Legion XIV brethren.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Warlord Traits

The CSM codex allows the chaos general to roll on a new table for warlord traits, or have the option of rolling on the standard table contained within the 6th ed. rulebook. Which is worthwhile? Let's have a look at the possible outcomes.

1. Black Crusader. Preferred enemy to space marines is a potent cocktail when mixed with Veterans of the Long War. The is doubly so if the (local) meta-game is space marine heavy. Afterall, this is what chaos space marines are there for.  Hence I think this is a useful roll if you're likely to be playing against space marines (or their variants).

2. Flames of Spite.  The Soul Blaze rule for the warlord and his unit seems kind of cool on the surface.  But scratch down a little bit, and soul blaze isn't too "hot".  Take a look at my earlier evaluation of the Icon of Flame for some insight.  An extra bolter shot is neat, but its not a game changer.

3. Master of Deception.  Having infiltrate on up to three units is certainly a good outcome.  The havoc that can potentially be caused from this makes Master of Deception an excellent outcome.  Infact, its so good, that chaos commanders I know are seriously looking at building lists around Huron and Ahriman to guarentee that this is the warlord trait they're going to get! 

4. Hatred Incarnate.  Granting hatred to the warlord and his unit is useful in many situations.  But this is a waste if they're facing space marines thanks to Veterans of the Long War. 

5. Lord of Terror.  Because there are so many fearless and "They Shall Know No Fear" units out there, this one is not so great.  Poor Typhus gets this one automatically.

6. Exalted Champion. And finally, the most interesting ability is to re-roll rolls on the Chaos Boon table without having to resort to a Dark Apostle.  A nifty ability for the chaos lord kitted out for melee, not so cool for long-range warlords (e.g., Ahriman). 

For me, I count one great one (#3), one really bad one (#5), one potentially good one (#6), one mediocre but still okay one (#2), and two iffy ones that depend on the situation/s and army builds (#1, #4).  Will you be rolling on this chart, or deferring to the main rulebook charts?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CSM Options: Familiars

The new chaos codex offers two different flavours of familiar for the best dressed chaos lord: a spell familiar and a combat familiar.  Speaking as an old-timer (read: Realms of Chaos era), I fully welcome the addition of these two familiars to the codex family!  Its great to see them both have a place!  We'll have a look at each in turn.

Firstly the combat familiar.  This guys is a cheap-ish way to purchase two extra attacks per round.  The only drawback is that they are S4 AP- attacks.  Hence, the combat familiar isn't too great.  If the attacks were made at the same Strength as the chaos lord, then this would be fine and a reasonable upgrade.  But given the price tag, a power weapon would prove a better investment surely.

Secondly: the spell familiar. I like the idea presented in the codex relating to the Thousand Sons.  Particularly that these familiars are tutelaries as we read about in the Horus Heresy books! The spell familiar allows the user to re-roll failed psychic tests.  This is quite valuable in the long game.  Having said that, all the dark sorcerers have Ld10.  Even the aspiring sorcerers of the Thousand Sons beat out the other cult units in having Ld10!  (e.g. plague champions "only" have Ld9).  So, such psychic tests are going to fail 3 times in 36, which is once every 12 times.  But if we're considering a Sorcerer Lord with a level three mastery level, they could be throwing out 3 spells per turn: a total of 15 spells per (5 turn) game.  Hence in a game of 5 turns, we could expect (on average) at least one failure.  Is it important to have 15 passed tests instead of 14?  Probably not.  But knowing my die rolls, its probably going to be the one time that its really, really needed!  Even so, I cannot contend that the spell familiar is a good investment of points. 

For interest, in the previous codex, a spell familiar cost 5 points and granted the player an extra psychic power.  This was a totally superior familiar, but I can see why it was done away with!  As an additional note, the version 3.5 codex also had the same familiar: 5 points for an extra "major power".  But I think a full discussion of what a "major power" was (as opposed to a randomly rolled "minor power") is best left alone for the time being!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forge World Jigsaw Teaser

In their latest newsletter, Forge World has released their traditional teaser for a future miniature. This year, they're doing it as a jigsaw, rather than one big "reveal".  This is part 1.  The other parts will be released progressively.
So, the question is, what could this be?!

From the base and size of the lower leg, I'm going to go out on a limb (bad pun there!) and suggest its a terminator.

Now, if its a terminator or similar, what would Forge World consider to be worth teasing us with?  I'm going to extrapolate and suggest this this guy is going to be one of the miniatures for the Horus Heresy series, especially given the tabard and general Heresy era feel of the picture.  They've already released Angron, so could this be another primarch?  I don't think its Horus or Mortarion (they've got capes, and look different in their images in my opinion).  There's an outside chance it could be Fulgrim, but I'm not keen on that hypothesis.

So I'm going to put it out there and suggest that it COULD be Abaddon.  What do you reckon?

(image copyright Forge World).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blight Drone, Magnetized

One of the newer additions to my collection is a Blight Drone of Nurgle.  This guys comes in quite a number of parts, including two counter rotating fans for each armature, a head and tail section, several guns, and a small heap of wires to add on the under-carriage.

Assembling the beastie was not troublesome at all.  Plus, a little bit of uncaring assembly always does Nurgle miniatures the world of good as well.  The one change that I did make was to add on a pair of magnets on the armatures.  This required a little bit of filing away at the holes in which to insert the arms to make them a little bit deeper and rounder so that they could take a magnet. The ends of the arms then had the counterpart magnet glued on to them.  Although there is a wire to connect the fans to the main body, I haven't included them as I thought they were excessively fiddly and got in the way of having a good magnetized drone.  The magnetization really helps with transportation of this miniature. Without it, I think there's a really good chance of it breaking in transit. 

Finally, the base is one that I bought, and I mounted the drone using a thick copper rod to the base to give it a little elevation.  Can't wait to get around to painting this one!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

CSM Options: Evaluation of Ichor Blood

One of the more interesting options in the new codex is the Ichor Blood upgrade. Harking back to the old Realms of Chaos rewards, the Ichor Blood strikes back against any unit that is good enough to mistreat a Chaos Lord.

Ichor Blood is very situational.  Basically, it strikes back against a unit with a S3 AP4 hit.  Let's imagine that this is directed against a standard space marine and compare it to (for the sake of argument) a combi-bolter (i.e. a twin-linked bolter) which costs only fractionally less on a marine lord (slightly more on a terminator lord).

S3 hits automatically and wounds on 5+.  The unit gets a 3+ save (hypothetically), so each wound from ichor blood stands a 0.111 chance of causing a wound.  Compare that to a combi-bolter.  It hits on a 3+ (re-rolling missed hits).  Wounds on a 4+ and the unfortunate hypothetical marine survives on a 3+.  That makes a 0.148 chance of an unsaved wound.  Hence, I think that the offensive option (combi-bolter) outweighs the defensive option (ichor blood).  But then again, if the chaos lord is a close combat orientated chap, then how much use will the lord get out of the combi-bolter in comparison to the ichor blood is questionable.  But equally, ichor blood also relies on a wound being caused on the lord himself.  Shouldn't the lord be winning against opponents if constructed well? :)

So to conclude, I'm torn on Ichor Blood.  I want to take it if I think I'm going to get the lord in to melee and take an odd unsaved wound from another character that we've challenged.  Mayhaps I'll save the points for something offensive to be fair: better to cause problems than react to them?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Iconic Clash

An iconic scene of Tzeentch vs Nurgle: the Thousand Sons take on a squad of plaguemarines to contest an objective nearby. Backed up by chaos terminators, the traitors attempt to overwhelm the daemon forces.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Advice to give First Time Apocalypse Players?

I have played numerous Apocalypse games since the supplement came out.  Most were completely chaotic (double entendre intended) and complete mayhem.  Some featured vehicles only.  Some were full on, using every single rule imaginable and then some (did you ever receive a phone call from the store down the road for an incoming template blast on that table you're playing on, in a different store?!).  I actually really like the complete madness that comes with the territory.  But I know its not to everyone's tastes. 

In the coming weeks, I'll be introducing the gaming group to Apocalypse in a 5 vs 5 match.  I'm the only person (I think) who's had any experience with Apocalypse though. So, what advice do you think I should dispense to my friends about playing Apocalypse for the first time?  Any words of wisdom would be gratefully received!  (I'm also preparing a minor scenario, and certainly not going to be allowing flank march, but most other things are possible!). 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Wrath

The Icon of Wrath is for the Khorne Boys amongst us.  In short, the equipped unit can re-roll charge distances and gain furious charge.  Both are totally worthwhile on a close combat squad!

The average price for the icon is 20 points, but a little less for some squads, e.g.: Khorne Berzerkers. This is understandable since they already have furious charge.

So, some players may hesitate to purchase an Icon of Wrath for Berzerkers.  But you'll only do that once.  That'll be the time that you roll 3 or less for your charge range, but needed a 6 or so to get in to combat.  With Kharn in your unit as well.  After that, I assure you that you will want to take this icon!  (although it'd be even better if it still acted as a teleport homer, but thats another post!).

Monday, December 3, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Flame

The Tzeentch marked boys have the option of getting the Icon of Flame: an interesting tactical icon that grants the soul blaze special rule to anyone armed with bolt-spitting weapons. 

Now, soul blaze in itself is an interesting idea.  If a unit takes an unsaved wound, there's a 50% chance it'll take a further d3 S4 hits at the end of each turn.  That's basically a mean of 2 extra bolter rounds.  Sure, they still have to wound.  So that means 1 wound (if against a space marine).  And said space marine stands a 1 in 3 chance of perishing from this.  This isn't great, but can be enough to finish off a pesky unit that has been whittled down to the last man (or two) on occasion.  Its probably better against beasts (e.g. chaos spawn), the odd low toughness character (or even monstrous creature), and hordes of tyranid gaunts (in which case, take an icon on every squad so that you can soul blaze every opposing unit!).  It could be worthwhile with havocs armed with bolters, but here's the but:

Given the average price of this icon is about 15 points, we must weigh it up against something like purchasing a heavy bolter (5 points cheaper!) or a plasma gun (same price).  Due to the high S and low AP, the plasma gun is going to win every single time. 

Hence, I might consider the odd Icon of Flame on a (fluffy) Tzeentch-themed army, particularly on havocs or terminators, but that's about it.  Otherwise, in a generalist list, I can't particularly see the worth in them.  Invest in a plasma gun instead.  Or a heavy bolter plus flamer.  Or meltagun plus flamer.  Or a missile launcher.  Any of these are probably going to earn their points back quicker than an icon of flame, sadly.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Vengeance

The ability to confer the fearless rule on any unit that takes this option can be a fantastic investment (as well as the +1 combat resolution that all icons get).  In the old chaos marine codex, the equivalent icon (icon of chaos glory) simply allowed the re-rolling of failed leadership rolls.  Hence the new codex is strictly different.  Depending on the unit in question, the icon of vengeance's price varies from 5 points, through to 35 points, with the median cost being 25 points. 

Instead of reviewing why fearless is so good, let me point out a few negatives about being fearless and having this icon (in general).  Firstly, if you lose the icon, the unit loses fearless.  Clearly snipers can cause this, and also poor positioning within a squad.  Secondly, fearless means that the unit can never go to ground voluntarily.  You've got to keep the unit going onward and upward all the time!  Thirdly, they cannot elect to fail morale checks simple due to having useless weapons against a target.  They will nibble the enemy to death!  Personally, I don't like this latter one, as it confuses "fearless" with the old-fashioned "stupidity" rules (must go to nearest enemy, and try to kill them!).  Clearly this latter one is a problem if the unit is not kitted out correctly.  Being tarpitted against a soul grinder is not fun for a fearless unit that cannot hurt it, ever.

So, I regard this icon as being totally worthwhile on the correct unit.  And that unit is probably going to be a front-line close-combat unit that does not have a character associated with it.  That said, there is a mild case to be made for devastator squads (etc.) since we don't want them running off when the first couple of casualties come in either.  But the price of these icons do add up pretty quickly.  I think adding a fearless-conferring character to a squad, where possible, is preferable to the icon.  A few choice look-out-sirs and it should be all fine if the die are rolling well.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dear Alpharius (vol. III)

Dear Alpharius,

  Just As Planned.

Your faithful servant,

+++ Thought for the day.
+++ Let the Galaxy Burn, For the Emperor!

Friday, November 30, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Excess

Late in 5th edition, there were a number of players who espoused the view that feel no pain had become too wide-spread in many armies.  To me, feel no pain means just that.  The narrative reason behind this had been one of two things: either the human(oid) body in question really wasn't wired for pain, whether due to degenerate disease (Nurgle!) or something similar; or the creature had taken certain chemical concoctions / drugs / psychic weirdness to bypass their pain receptors (Dark Eldar!).  And then necrons were just robots, but they have other rules.  But we'll ignore that!

So, upon reading the new chaos codex, it was a surprise and a narrative fit that I saw the Icon of Excess.  For the Slaaneshi devotees, they now have the option to also feel no pain.  The narrative reason falls under the second concept from above: a bit too much inhalation of "cloying musk" that drives them to seek fresh sensations regardless of the current state of their being.

The price is reasonably high for most units though.  I therefore think that we wouldn't want to be paying more than about 5 pts per marine for this icon for it to be truly effective.  Hence a slightly larger squad than minimal seems ideal for taking this icon, at least 6 (for fluffy reasons) and certainly a full squad of 10.

Additionally, I think the icon should certainly be deployed for front line marines (melee).  But for rear line marines, I have mixed feelings.  I can see how it would be of benefit for sonic weapon squads, or havoc squads, to grant them a little added durability and protection from incoming ballistics.  But the price kind of puts me off.  So I'll be sticking with front line units to use this icon with.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wargames Gallery: LotR Scenery: Amon Sul Ruined Watchtower at Weathertop

Following the announcement today that Forge World will be re-releasing their resin ruined watchtower of Amon Sul, I thought I'd share this image of the same LoTR terrain that I snapped a little while ago whilst touring some other GWs.  This one was painted up for a small conflict style tournament and I really like the atmospheric look it has.  Whilst I'd love to own one, the price tag of UKP220 is a little much for my tastes.  But I can see the serious collector or wargames organizer wanting one!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CSM Options: Icon of Despair

The icon for Nurgle marked units is the Icon of Despair.  As well as adding 1 to the combat result, the Icon of Despair confers the fear rule to the unit.  Naturally, fearless units don't care.  And They Shall Know No Fear units also don't care.  Yet, the ability to cause fear (reducing opponent's to WS=1 on an unsuccessful Ld check) can be neat.  But, the meta-game features a strong amount of fearless and space marine armies.  The latter in particular make the fear rule one that is very easy to forget.  I've played against eldar, tau and others under 6th edition and not once yet remembered to force a fear check.  Why? Because the majority of my opponents are space marines.  I fear, fear, that I will not remember you. I also fear that fear is not terribly fearful.

Therefore the only reason to take the Icon of Despair is the benefit to combat outcome.  If equipped on tar-pitting units, this is pretty good (see my tactica about plaguebearers and instruments).  So, perhaps I could entertain an Icon of Despair on plague marine squads once in a while.  But, they have more attacks than plaguebearers.  So the case for an Icon of Despair even on plague marines is poor.  Given that the points cost is double the cost of a chaos daemons instrument, my answer becomes a firm no.  Forget the Icon of Despair.  Its a waste of points in my opinion and I won't be taking them.

(Aside: Pity they don't double up as homing icons, otherwise they'd be worthwhile! -- I feel the codex writers and playtesters really dropped the ball on this one -- homing icons have been with chaos for several editions and I'm still shocked at their absence).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CSM Options: Daemonic Steeds

Having gone through all of the units in the Review of CSM in 6th, I now want to turn to a few of the options available to them.  The first one: daemonic steeds.

My only negative comment is that there isn't an "undivided" option. I'm pretty disappointed about this - I really rather liked the concept of daemonic horsemen lords!  Indeed, the general lack of "obvious" undivided chaos in the new codex is an all-round downer.  I guess that the "undivided" mark is now the lack of a different mark, rather than something specific as it used to be.

Those chaos lords with the mark of a specific chaos god have access to the Juggernaut of Khorne, the Disc of Tzeentch, the Palanquin of Nurgle or Steed of Slaanesh.

The Juggernaut gives +1 T, W, A and grants the cavalry rule to the chaos lord.  For the points cost, the extra wound and point of toughness goes a long way.  And of course, the extra attack is positively Khorne-orientated.  I'm impressed by the cavalry rule as well, especially considering that the bloodcrushers of the daemons codex are infantry.  One potential chaos lord build to take advantage of the steed is the following:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Khorne, Juggernaut of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Sigil of Corruption, Veterans of the Long War (175 points).

The Disc of Tzeentch gives the sorcerer or lord a jetbike and an extra attack. I'm unconvinced that the points are quite worth it over a chaos bike, but I can certainly see how a unique build could be made out of it (see: Chaos Sorcerer for examples).  But a reasonably plain disc-riding Tzeentch Sorcerer seems about optimal for the points.  Consider this one:
Chaos Sorcerer, Level 3 Psyker, Mark of Tzeentch, Disc of Tzeentch, Sigil of Corruption (180 points).

The Palanquin of Nurgle grants a remarkable extra 2 wounds, 1 more attack, and the model becomes very bulky.  That's not a bad exchange rate, but it is pricey for low points cost games.  And what do we need 2 extra wounds for?  Sticking around, obviously.  If only I could outflank or deepstrike the lord on the palanquin, I'd be happy.  But hey.  Perhaps stick him in a large blob of cultists, behind an Aegis Defence Line, and hang tight on an objective!  Example:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, Ichor Blood (150 points).

The Steed of Slaanesh should be swift, but it only adds 3'' to run moves and only 1 extra attack.  Nonetheless, it is cavalry, and gets the acute senses and outflank rule (horrah!).  How do we take advantage of these?  Well, the build has to be something swift, targeted (pick the target and charge!), deadly and works well with outflank.  Something like this:
Chaos Lord, Mark of Slaanesh, Steed of Slaanesh, plasma pistol, the Murder Sword, Sigil of Corruption, Veterans of the Long War (180 points).   

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Predator

The final entry in the codex proper (I may review some further units from Forge World later) is the chaos predator.  Much like the Imperial version, it can be constructed with autocannon or twin-linked las-cannon as the primary turret weapon, with the usual sponson options.  In addition, it also gets access to the chaos vehicle equipment list for extra load-outs.

The predator needs a role realistically.  The triple-lascannon set-up (the annihilator) will be popular to take down opposing vehicles and monsters, whereas the autocannon (the destructor) and heavy bolter option is much better suited to anti-horde duty.  The cross-over variants are rarer. I regard only the lascannon sponson one as viable since the other variant tries to do two jobs at once and never gets much bang for its buck; whilst I've not seen the mono-turret version played anywhere in a long long while.  Still, the points cost is very comparable to havocs.  i.e. if you want 3 lascannons amongst those havocs, you're paying about the same points cost as for the predator.  So you've got to make the choice: is a vehicle better than infantry?  Maybe and maybe not, depending on circumstance, set-up and opponents.

Here's a few potential builds that are worth consideration.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons (95 points)
Cheap and great at pumping out plenty of shots every turn.  The classic "dakka pred" is still a cheap cost option to threaten squads of infantry and hordes, whilst having a reasonable reach and also able to threaten light transport style tanks.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons, Havoc Launcher, Warpflame Gargoyles (112 points)
Something that the Imperials still can't do: add a havoc launcher.  A twin-linked S5 small blast with a 48" range is awesome.  Especially when equipped on every tank you run!  Coupled with the new warpflame gargoyles option, this enhanced dakka pred is one of my favourite builds to take down large gaunt units when you need to, and also put enough hits on marines and terminators to take a few down.

Chaos Predator, Autocannon, Lascannon sponsons (115 points)
This is the one to take down monstrous creatures and provides anti-tank capability to boot.  It also has a reasonable price tag.

Chaos Predator, Twin-Linked Lascannon, Lascannon sponsons (140 points)
The tank-buster.  And can put hurt on greater daemons, big tyranids and other monsters to boot.  It can even take on flyers with a reasonable probability.  But I personally don't play this variant.  I prefer alternate ways of taking down tanks, so please take this entry as a suggestion for apocalypse only.

Chaos Predator, Twin-Linked Lascannon, Combi-Melta, Dozer Blade, Extra Armour, Destroyer Blades (140 points)
Strange.  Yes.  Here's the idea.  Its a tank hunter that once its done its job goes for a tank shock with the destroyer blades.  Okay - don't take this one too seriously: its too expensive to be perfectly honest.  Perhaps take a rhino with a combi-melta and destroyer blades if you're semi-interested instead.  I simply include it as a concept.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Not The Doom Of Mymeara

Despite some scatter upon arrival, the Soul Grinder had 2 good turns against the craft world Eldar, before the fire dragons sent the daemon machine construct back to the dark forges from whence it came!

Friday, November 23, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Chaos Vindicator

The vindicator just got slightly better in my opinion. Firstly, the basic chassis costs less than the previous codex and secondly, it gets access to a true siege shield for the first time - as an option! Combine that with access to the regular chaos vehicle equipment list and you have a very nice customizable tank for a reasonable points cost. I think this one is competitive for the heavy support slot ... depending on the type of army we're wanting to field of course. I can't see too many Iron Warriors players passing up the opportunity to field one of these! (but then again, Iron Warriors have soooo many vehicles to select from these days that the newer miniatures must be appealing!).

The reason I'm quite excited by the vindicator and its access to the armoury is that we now have an upgradable vehicle that won't be saying bye-bye to its demolisher cannon on every weapon destroyed roll.  Grab an extra weapon to lower the chances.  Take daemonic possession.  Extra armour.  Its all good.  Roll forward with your S10 cannon and shoot away!  This is the only S10 ranged weapon available to chaos players, so enjoy it!  Let's look at a few builds that may appeal.

Chaos Vindicator, daemonic possession, siege shield (145 points)
This costs the same as the old codex, but replaces the dozer blade with a true siege shield.  BS3 is a small price to pay for a 2+ ignore shaken and stunned.  Add on a cheap second weapon to taste and you've got a winner.  This should/would be the basic set-up for most "standard" chaos vindicators.

Chaos Vindicator, siege shield, destroyer blades, warpflame gargoyles, combi-bolter (155 points)
Move forward.  Shoot.  If still alive repeat until the vehicle gets even closer.  Then ram a unit off an objective, remembering the destroyer blades as you go.  The warpflame gargoyles are there for any amazing unit that manages to survive a S10 AP2 blast (terminators!).

Chaos Vindicator, siege shield, daemonic possession, destroyer blades, warpflame gargoyles, combi-melta, combi-bolter, extra armour (190 points)
This one has the lot!  And you're paying dearly for it.  So this is just a points sink and not to be used outside apocalypse!  Or ever!  Still, I'm entertained by the possibilities here!  (and yes: you *can* take both the combi-bolter and combi-melta on a single vehicle).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Land Raider

Its AV=14 all round.  It transports everything (even chaos spawn) and they can assault the turn they disembark.  It has a twin linked heavy bolter and two twin linked las cannons.  It can be heavy support or a dedicated transport for chaos terminators.  Its a land raider! 

The points cost got 10 points more expensive than the last edition, but its still cheaper than the Imperial standard land raider.  And with justification too: it lacks the power of the machine spirit.  Even a corrupted machine spirit, sadly. But hey, the two twin-linked lascannons are sufficient to overwatch regularly: they even pose a threat to flyers if we do the maths.

That said, the land raider also gains access to the chaos vehicle upgrades.  So lets take a look at a few potential builds.

Land Raider, dirge caster, dozer blade, combimelta (250 points)
I think this will be a variant that will see a lot of play.  The dirge caster is there to help when the contents of the land raider get out of the assault ramp and charge.  The dozer blade is there to help with terrain.  The combimelta has two functions: threat, and to also lessen the chance of one of the twin-linked lascannons getting blown off.

Land Raider, Extra Armour, Daemonic Possession, Destroyer Blades, Combi Plasma (280 points)
The survivor.  Roll forward with impunity.  Tank shock enemies off objectives and destroy them with the aptly named destroyer blades.  Use the combi-plasma once, and then hope it gets destroyed instead of a twin-linked lascannon.  You could even risk having troops transported inside this one (assuming the possessing daemon isn't hungry for a mid-morning snack?).  These troops will then disembark to claim the objective off the unit that the destroyer blades hit.

Land Raider (230 points).
Make your imperial cousins jealous with the low points cost.  But don't tell them anything else about how it compares to their codex!!! (they'll laugh).  But seriously, this beast is still a land raider with AV=14.  Its a threat whatever way you look at it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Maulerfiend

The maulerfiend is the second new entry in the Heavy Support category of the new chaos codex and retail-wise comes bundled with the forgefiend as a possible alternate build.

When I first read the rules to this one, I was confused.  The main reason for my confusion is that I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this guy.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I figure I'm meant to throw it at fortifications - that's what the +1 armour penetration against buildings (siegecrawler) does for us.  But what fortifications?  Am I seriously going to buy this option to counter an imperial bastion?  Nope.  That's what I've got melta guns, power fists, and a slew of other devices and chaos daemon allies besides for.  So, I'm guessing that there is going to be some new fortifications released during 6th edition that these guys are going to be the answer to.  Perhaps I should be buying three of these?  Nah. 

But let's take a closer look.  The maulerfiend is a walker with two power fists and 2 attacks.  That will result in 4 attacks on the charge.  That's not really all that powerful since a pair of terminators can manage that. Heck, even the dreadnought ... ahem ... helbrute can copy that manoeuvre.  The twist is the magma cutters.  If the maulerfiend scores a hit, then the magma cutters make an additional S8, AP1, armourbane attack as well.  Bye bye defences in all likelihood.  And certainly capable of taking tanks out in a single charge short of a land raider. 

Siegecrawler means that the maulerfiend is always moving 12" in the movement phase and fleet plus move through cover make the threat range even greater.  As with the forgefiend, it gets daemonic possession, daemon and "IT WILL NOT DIE" special rules to make it stick around longer.  Additionally, this guy gets the daemonforge special rule which means it can re-roll penetrate / to wound rolls once per game.  Use at the first opportunity I say!  (unless you really hate the imperial bastion over there as much as Angron might).

The only option is to replace the magma cutters with lasher tendrils (125 points vs 135 points, respectively).  These tendrils will reduce the attacks of those in base to base contact with the maulerfiend by 1 for each set.  To a minimum of 1.  This can be potent against high volume attack infantry (orks on bikes, terminators and the like), but ultimately isn't going to be stopping a thunder hammer from striking it.  Might as well keep the magma cutters for the potential extra attacks in my opinion and not bother with the lasher tendrils.  Instead, rely on the maulerfiends inbuilt toughness to see off any incoming attacks.  So, for me, I'd be taking the 125 points set up with the magma cutters and charge forwards. 

But then again, I'd be thinking about alternatives to the maulerfiend in the first place unless some new codexes and campaign expansions include terrifying fortifications.

Monday, November 19, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Forgefiend

And finally we get to the Forgefiend - a new entry in the codex and a new appealing model on the tabletop to assemble and paint.

To me, the forgefiend is a long range support option. It can take either a pair of Hades Autocannons, or a pair of ectoplasma cannons.  Each of these configurations can be backed up by a separate ectoplasma cannon.  Although the name "ectoplasma cannon" doesn't do much for me (other than to cause a little giggle), these weapons are powerful and can be stunning (literally) with a bit of luck and the right lines of sight.  With heavy 4, the Hades Autocannons will be averaging 4 hits per turn at S=8.  Even without skyfire, that's a threat to most things on the board.  The ectoplasma cannons on the other hand are more close range (24"), but equally strong (S=8), but in a blast form with AP2.  This spells doom for terminators and the like, whilst simultaneously being a threat to many transports (etc.). 

The forgefiend is a daemon, which gives it a 5+ invulnerable save, daemonic possession (ignore shaken / stunned on 2+) and coupled with "It Will Not Die" USR, this beastie will be hanging around a while with a bit of luck.  It also gets fleet (but you're going to be shooting with it, not running), and daemonforge special rule which allows re-rolls to wound and armour penetration for one turn.  Might as well activate this on your first turn, I contend. 

Two attacks in close combat at S=6 isn't brilliant, but it'll do in a pinch.  The forgefiend is a walker afterall and might be able to tarpit a unit late on in the game.

There are 4 possible configurations (at least, the way I read the options).

(i) Two Hades Autocannons (175 points).
8 shots, averaging 4 hits per turn.  This is pretty neat!

(ii) Two Ectoplasma Cannons (175 points).
Two small blast templates that are going to tear down terminators (with a bit of luck) and be a threat to minor vehicles.

(iii) Three Ectoplasna Cannons (200 points).
Like (ii), but blastier for when you need to get the job done.

(iv) Two Hades Autocannons and one Ectoplasma Cannon (200 points).
A mixed bag.  The range of the two weapons don't match, which is an issue.  But I think you'd be using all three from turn 2+.  I suspect options (i), (ii) or (iii) are superior though.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crusade of Fire

Two surprises today: firstly the release for pre-order of the new warhammer 40k sourcebook: Crusade of Fire.  The second: no prelude rumours!  

There's plenty of people who are super excited by this source book.  But there's a little twist.  The descriptor says that the sourcebook contains additional, expanded rules for flyers in 40k.  This poses a potential issue: will these rules be "core" rules from now on in tournaments (etc.)?  Given the limited stocks of the product, I can see it selling out fast.  So, what for folks who don't manage to get their paws on to this release?  Perhaps a soft-back book later on?  

Turning to the actual content that was released.  Aside from the images of the miniatures and artwork, the background story features a clash of chaos, imperials and dark eldar.  On the one page that is dedicated to new rules, we see a new system for fighting on daemon infested worlds.  These involve tokens.  Before the game begins, each unit takes a Ld test on 3d6.  They get tokens for each point of failure.  These tokens are a double-edged sword: they grant a unit a bonus on the grounds that they've been (partially) possessed; but there's a downside: when removed, bad stuff happens.  

In the case of Khorne, for instance, the unit gains the rage special rule. But at the end of any assault phase, the opponent may remove any number of counters.  The unit then takes d3 automatic hits as if the unit attacked itself (using its most common weapon).  Analogues are presented for the other 3 major powers.

The other set of rules are what I would think of as "environmental" rules -- in the sense that they present daemon world hazards and their effects on models within the battlefield.  They're random and a bit like the "volcano explodes!" innovations of homebrew rules at worst, but very interesting, flavourful and pro-narrative campaigning at their best.

Looking forward to reading this one in more detail when it comes out. Hope that there's going to be some copies left!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Defiler

Since Abaddon commanded its construction from the dark forges, the defiler has been a mainstay of the chaos space marine force.  But for 6th edition, I can see fewer and fewer defilers being fielded.  One of the biggest changes in the new codex is the increase in points.  Upgrades being extra takes the total for a single defiler to over 200 points.  Considering the price of other heavy support options, this is a lot of points. But let's look closer before being too judgemental.

Clearly the defiler has a metric ton of weaponry.  Battle cannon, reaper autocannon, heavy flamer (twin linked), power fists all add up to a heck of an arsenal, especially combined with the daemonforge rule.  Here's the first issue though: if you want to fire the battle cannon -- and to be fair, I would want to -- then you're taking snap shots with the rest of the gear.  Darn!  So, we have to decide whether we want this beast to be a long-range pseudo-obliterator, or a close combat specialist.  I'm already thinking there's better options for *both* roles for the points cost.

Digging further, the defensive capabilities of the defiler is strong.  Its a daemons, meaning a 5+ save, it has AV12 on the front (not quite soul grinder standard), but it does have 4 hull points.  Coupled with "It Will Not Die" special rule means that it should hang around a fair while to do both battlefield roles (shooty and choppy).  On the flip-side BS and WS=3 isn't great.  Especially with only 3 close combat attacks.  Fleet, Smoke Launchers and Searchlights round out the generic equipment for the defiler, but don't add too much for the cost.

The defiler can also access the chaos armoury for vehicles.  Obvious upgrades that one could consider are the warpflame gargoyles (for soul blaze), extra armour, and a dirge caster (prevent overwatch when charging).

Here's a couple of potential configurations to toy about with.

Defiler, warpflame gargoyles, havoc launcher (replacing twin linked heavy flamer) (205 points)
Stand back and shoot.  Repeat.  If approached, charge.  Simple.

Defiler, power scourge (replacing twin linked heavy flamer), twin linked heavy bolter (replacing the reaper autocannon), dirge caster, extra armour (235 points)
A close combat variant.  Shoot on the way to melee, and engage.  Exchange the reaper for another power fist perhaps, to taste.  But really for the points, why aren't you going for a daemon prince instead?  Or land raider?  Its hard to justify this expenditure.

Defiler.  No upgrades.
Simple, but still pricey.

Overall, I think the defiler has priced itself out of the heavy support slot now - its an all rounder that's got expensive.  The cynical amongst you may see this as a way to get players buying forgefiends and maulerfiends... but they're a review topic for a different day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wargames Gallery: Daemons' Run

The remains of the daemons of Dark Maw Rift run forward to clash with the Space Marines of the Angels of Bitterness chapter in brutal melee.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Obliterator

Obliterators have long been held by chaos player to be excellent choices for a heavy support option. This is not without reason and those reasons persist in the new codex, but there's also a few caveats to think about as well now.

Their strengths are obvious: the ability to manifest whatever energy based weapon (twin-linked variety at short range as well) is awesome.  In the new codex, they get the assault cannon added to their list of weapons.  This is yet another excellent outcome for chaos!  (on the flip side, in days of yore, they used to also have access to heavy bolters and frag missiles ... but the access to the plama cannon makes up for this I think!).  On the downside, they now must "rotate" which weapon they choose: we cannot select the same weapon twice in two consecutive shooting phases.  But there are always going to be plentiful targets, so this rule is not a bother!  Additionally, all the obliterators in a unit must fire the same weapon - not such a biggie, but worth mentioning.

They have the daemon rule (so thier 5+ invulnerable save stays intact), they're bulky (which means that they could be transported in a land raider should you want to) and they can deepstrike potentially (useful on occasion). The powerfist means that their close combat effectiveness is also reasonable, but with the caveat that they'll be striking at I=1.  Slow and purposeful is there as well, but that's not a biggie either since in terms of playstyle, I think many chaos players will situate them in some ruins / buildings with a good line of sight in their deployment zone for most of the game.  Deepstriking is okay and valuable as a decoy: but these boys are pricey and can die from instant death.  But given that they're essentially terminators with 2 wounds each, its often worth the risk to cause a little mayhem against the right army.

The upgrades available are minimal: extra obliterators, marks, and veterans of the long war.  So let's have a think about each in turn.

The extra obliterators can take your unit up to three strong.  Unless you're 100% relying on obliterators (and these days, you might not since they don't possess skyfire), going for three in each squad seems a little high.  I prefer to run mine in squads of 2, or go solo.  I use the latter when I don't have other slots in heavy support that I'm filling with other stuff (havocs, vindicators, etc.) as that means I can then have 2 obliterators in 2 different squads.  This has advantages: choose different targets and different weapons every turn for each obliterator and see what one of them does before activating the next one.  Two obliterators in a squad means that you can statistically rely on lascannons should you wish to fire them.  I actually prefer plasma cannons for the opening salvo in most cases as the scatter isn't usually too large, and we get a high S combined with significant AP.  That said, the assault cannons must now be looking more favourite for an opening salvo from a pair of well positioned obliterators. 

The mark of Slaanesh on obliterators is pointless in my opinion -- they don't have the close combat weapons available to take advantage of the increased initiative short of switching off the powerfists!  And why would you do that?  Fluffy reasons only.  (and yes: that is sufficient reason for many players! especially given how cheap this mark is!)

The mark of Khorne supposes that you'll get a charge in .... less likely with slow and purposeful that you've positioned them to do that in the first place.  Counter-assault is good, but... then again, I just think the final two marks make superior choices. 

The mark of Tzeentch is good here: a 4+ invulnerable save will prove excellent.  Combine with deep-striking obliterators to create a strong threat in the opponent's deployment zone that stands a chance of hanging around.

The mark of Nurgle is similarly good: T=5 obliterators also increase survivability.  And the synergy with Epidemius is obvious to the daemon players amongst you.

Veterans of the Long War on the other hand is not too special on the surface.  But poke a bit deeper and the +1Ld bonus is good: note that obliterators have lost their fearless rule, so anything will help here.  Hatred of space marines doesn't really matter to shooty obliterators though, but can add flexibility to a deep strike threat.  Feel free to add a very shooty character to mitigate the fearless loss (e.g. Tzeentch sorcerer).  Add in a bastion with quad-gun as well - that could work out very well, but I've not tested it out yet.

So, I think my favoured set up will be this one:
2 Obliterators, Mark of Nurgle, Veterans of the Long War (158 points)
Solid, defensive, shooty and going to stick around for a while!  Swap out mark of Nurgle for mark of Tzeentch for a few more points (feel free to recover them by ditching Veterans as well) and try some risky deepstrikes and use this unit as a distractor instead.  There's very little not to like about these two set-ups.  But my personal favourite will be the Nurgle build.  They're just going to be tough to remove, full stop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Havocs

In all the codexes out there, chaos havocs are the only ones to so far be given access to Flakk missiles. Of course, this will change over time, but for the moment it is potentially one advantage that havocs have. But they're not cheap. Coming in at 25 points each, they are an expensive upgrade. Chaos havocs can have any four of their members take special or heavy weapons (including flakk shooting missile launchers; lascannons; plasmaguns; meltaguns; autocannons; heavy bolters; and flamers). With some of the special weapons, the havocs are clearly competing with chaos chosen for a slot and duplicating what they can achieve on the battlefield. That said, they are a few points cheaper than chosen and do occupy a different FOC slot. But as with the Elites slot, there may be superior options elsewhere in the heavy support slot that one would like to investigate prior to selecting havocs.

As with chosen and other basic marines entries in the codex, they get access to the full gamut of marks, icons, aspiring champion regular upgrades and can also take a chaos rhino if they wish.  In concert with a quad-gun they should also make mince out of many units in the game if set up correctly.  So, with that, let's take a look at a few builds.

5 Havocs; 4 with missile launchers plus Flakk; 1 Bastion with Quad-gun (300 points)
Pricey, but it can beat down flyers with regularity.  4 flakk missile plus the aspiring champion operating the quad gun makes for an expensive way to down aircraft and monstrous flying creatures.  But this could be an option for those playing flavourful lists.  Swap out the missile launchers for autocannons to taste.

5 Havocs, 4 plasmaguns, Mark of Nurgle, rhino with havoc launcher (197 points)
Team up with Huron and infiltrate these guys to the back line for some plasma-tastic fun.  Rapid firing 4 plasmaguns if you've never done it before is quite an experience.  The havoc launcher is there to ensure at least some heat is taken by the transport itself and the mark of nurgle means that they're going to be slightly hardier than some alternatives.

9 Havocs, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War, 8 close combat weapons, 2 flamers, 2 meltaguns, champion with melta bombs and power weapon, Rhino Transport with Havoc Launcher (287 points)
Strictly cheaper than the chosen alternative but with less attacks, this squad can still pack a mean punch when run with someone like Kharn to lead them.  The mix of special weapons allows them to be deadly to both vehicles and hordes.  Angron would approve of the hate. 
Alternatively, seek Fulgrim's praise by swapping to a Mark of Slaanesh plus Icon of Excess.  Equally brilliant in the right circumstances!

5 Havocs, Mark of Tzeench, Icon of Flame, 4 Heavy Bolters, Bastion with Quad-Gun (265 points)
Got a horde to deal with?  Then this is the setup that could be useful!  The heavy bolters lay down a withering, soul blazing fire combined with the quadgun that the champion is operating.  Meanwhile the bastion ensures that the squad has every type of save possible for these guys.  Team up with a chaos sorcerer for a good vantage point and fire at will.

10 Havocs, Mark of Tzeentch, 4 Missile Launchers (2 with Flakk), Skyshield Landing Pad (315 points)
With a potential 3+ invulnerable save and the ability to deep strike allies on the pad without scattering, this one screams "threat" for any army that relies on deep striking shooters.  Hello soul grinder allies?
5 Havocs, 2 meltaguns, chaos rhino with combi-melta (142 points)
A pure distraction unit meant as a sacrifice that if run with others of its ilk can likely pull off some serious meltagunning of enemy fortifications and tanks.  Risky, but cheap-ish.

5 Havocs, 4 autocannons, Aegis Defence Line with comms relay (185 points) Ensure your reserves arrive by taking the aegis defence line with a comms relay whilst suppressing enemies with your long range autocannon shots.  Sure, these guys will die quickly to infiltrating, outflanking, flying, and otherwise sneaky foes, but once turn 2 has hit, they've done their job, right?!

Monday, November 12, 2012

CSM in 6th Review: Heldrake

One of the most talked about new miniatures in the chaos space marine codex has to be the Heldrake.  Much has been spoken about its physical appearance and aesthetics.  But I'm actually a fan - I like the way it looks and I'm honestly contemplating getting one for my chaos space marine forces.

But let's take a proper look and review of the Heldrake.

Firstly: weapons.  The Heldrake only has one option: the baleflamer, or the hades autocannon.  The baleflamer is probably the most natural choice for the Heldrake.  It is a torrenting AP3 S6 flamer.  Now, with torrent, we can place the flamer template narrow end anywhere within 12" of the nozzle.  This is terrific: taking out T4 save=3+ space marines is made easy with this (so long as you're not already running Tzeentch Flamers, that is).  Use the Heldrake to mop up any infantry short of terminators with ease: this is essentially what the Heldrake is designed to do with the baleflamer option.  It can also cause minor headaches for some lesser vehicles (such as transports).  But remember that we're only getting 1 shot with this per turn.  The alternative is to go with the hades autocannon.  Given a BS of 3, this means that only 2 out of 4 the shots per turn are going to be hitting.  The hades autocannon's strength also means that its primarily going to be hunting down transport units and gunning for the rear armour of tanks like vindicators.  That said, it has a (mean) chance of 41% (rounded) of taking down a space marine stormtalon (recall the Heldrake has skyfire!).  That's nothing to be sneezed at.  But, I think the ability to take down marines with ease outweighs this possibility.  And on top of that, once per game the Heldrake gets the daemonforge rule to re-roll missed to-penetrate or missed to-wound rolls.  Both of these gel nicely with the available main weaponry.

The final weapon at the disposal of the Heldrake is the meteroic descent rule.  This is a S7 vector strike that one would expect the likes of daemon princes to be pulling off -- not flyers!  Against side armour, this has a good chance of getting rid of enemy transports and light tanks.  What this means is that the Heldrake, properly positioned and properly controlled should be making 2 attacks per turn: one with a vector strike and one with either the baleflamer or hades autocannon (but probably the former).  Consider striking a rhino with the vector strike, and then using the baleflamer on another target: its a great combination.

It gets better though.  Despite the somewhat "normal" 12 12 10 HP3 statline, the Heldrake is very well armoured in comparison to other flyers.  The Daemon, Deamonic Possession, and It Will Not Die rule combine to make the Heldrake a terrifying prospect to take down.  That's a 5+ invulnerable roll, ignoring shaken and stunned on 2+, and regains a hullpoint on a 5+ at the end of your turn.  Frankly, this is an amazing suite of defensive abilities that will require the most dedicated amount of firepower available to your opponent to down. Even a quad gun operated by flakk firing devastators / havocs will need to be lucky to down it.  Let's explore that a bit further: suppose there is a squad of 5 havocs with 4 flakk missiles and a quad gun available.  (Note from the outset that this costs more than the Heldrake itself).  Each flakk missile hits on 3+, and needs a 3+ to glance the rear armour (5+ for the side or front).   Fold in the 5+ save, that means each flakk missile has a chance of glancing of 0.30.  Four of them will only cause one glance (potentially penetrating hit) per turn.  The quad gun ups this to possibly 2 glancing hits in one turn.  That's a lot of shots.  Even a havoc squad snap-firing something a bit punchier like las cannons fares little better.  Lots of dedicated firepower will be needed to get rid of the Heldrake.  That means that opponents need to ignore it, or flee from it.  Suits me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Dimensional Key and lack of Homing Beacons in the New Chaos Marine Codex

One of the biggest losses in the new chaos space marine codex is that of homing beacons and their analogues.  No longer do we have access to icons of chaos that double up as a homing beacon as we've come to expect from that last few iterations of the codex.  No personal icons. No way to bring down daemons, terminators, and obliterators on to the battlefield in a guided way.  Except for one.  The Dimensional Key.

This sole (new) icon will undoubtably be carried by an HQ choice. And since it requires enemy blood to "activate", we'll want it attached to a forefront unit.  But therein is the issue.  We could take it on a biker lord, or perhaps a Tzeentchian terminator.  But by the time they're causing wounds on the opponent, its probably already turn 2 (more likely turn 3 though) and three-quarters of the army are already on the board, making it a less attractive upgrade option.

One interesting idea though, would be to have a primary daemons detachment, alongside an allied chaos space marine detachment with a dimensional key carrying HQ choice.  Flamers, screamers and other daemons coming in late will therefore not scatter and can be placed at will where they're needed. This is particularly important to late turn flamer units.  Has anyone tried an experiment like this?  I'm thinking of trying something similar for an upcoming league round ... but am hesitant as I don't really see the Dimensional Key as being worthwhile for anything but Apocalypse style games.

Wargames Gallery: Tau Overrun

The Tau attempted a turn 1 victory against daemons by using a huge amount of firepower to cleanse the board of the daemons' preferred first wave. Despite a near perfect set-up, the firepower of the Tau was unable to overcome the string of (frankly) amazing invulnerable saves made by the daemons.  The remaining bloodcrushers raced to overrun the Tau positions as the second wave comes down to support the ground assault.

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