February 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
February has been and gone, and in all honesty I don’t think it was half as productive as January turned out to be! This is probably because I ended up struck down with a cold for the last week, although there has been plenty of real-life stuff going on to make matters worse.

To start with, I have finished painting the Tau Fire Warriors that were this month’s project. I was hoping that I could have been as productive as last month, and get at least two units painted up, but in the event I only just managed to get the one done! They have been painted in the same manner as the Pathfinders, for the most part, which has meant the scheme was already established, etc. That was fortunate, though part of me does feel like they haven’t turned out looking as good as the Pathfinders did. Hm. At any rate, that’s one squad down, so I’m pleased on that score! The army, if it can be called that, it off to a good start then, I think, as I have a lot of infantry units fully painted, as well as their associated drones, so I’m pleased about that!

Something that I always try to avoid when starting army projects like this is falling into the trap of painting up the fancy HQ model / models first, getting really excited, then realising that I need to get a whole bunch of troops done next. Doing the troops done first allows you to get the scheme figured out, and doing it that often allows you to really practice things, so that the HQ models should look a bit better! That’s the theory, at least!

So, why has it taken me so long to get these Fire Warriors done? I mean, one month to paint one unit was the target that I gave myself, but I managed double the numbers in January, so what gives?

February was a bit of a stock-taking month for me, and I spent quite a bit of time looking through all of my other projects, a blog about which you can read here. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the month that I had gotten the armour basecoat done on the troops! I did get distracted quite a bit, first with Sisters, and then with Drukhari, as I started to think about other stuff that I’d like to achieve this year. I would really like to get more of the Dark Eldar finished off, and I would really like an Imperium army, which is de-railing me quite a bit! After giving some thought to the Sisters, I’ve now begun to think a lot about my AdMech, as I hadn’t realised I had so much left. So it has taken something of a concerted effort to actually finish the unit off.

Also, Necromunda happened. I played another game (it should have been two, but I was unwell…) and have been building up more scenery and some of the Forge World minis. I did start to paint up another Delaque ganger for my roster, he’s not quite finished yet but hopefully it won’t take too long to get the finishing touches done. There have been a few distractions, though, and while I do usually like to have different projects on the go to keep my general hobby interest up, it doesn’t always work to my advantage!

At any rate, in March I’m going to be scaling things back somewhat, and I have the Commander to build and paint, and I’m hoping that I can also get the Ethereal and maybe Cadre Fireblade done at the same time. I have talked about my Tau plans, though since then I have picked up the Combat Patrol box, so have a bunch more models to paint for the army! I got promoted in work, and the new job started mid-month, so I used the leaving gift of amazon vouchers to pick that up! Ten more Fire Warriors, the Fireblade, a Ghostkeel and Stealth Suits, and another Ethereal. Busy times ahead! Breaking all of this down, I’m going to focus on getting the HQs ready now, then if time allows I’ll be moving straight on to the Crisis Suits, and then the next batch of Fire Warriors. So that will probably take me right up to the end of April, at the very least – at which point I’ll have a fairly decent-sized force, and can start thinking about the big suits!

Drukhari are still on my mind, however, and I do want to try to get the squad of 10 Wyches painted up in advance of a game that I’m planning sometime soon. I’m hopefully going to keep these things ticking over for the time being, a few models here and there, and we’ll see how much more for the army I’ve got finished by the time December rolls around again! It would be nice to be able to field my Drukhari more, though, and with increased options such as the Wyches and more Reavers, etc, so that’s something for the side project list.

It’s also been a bit of a Star Wars month, as I’ve been reading the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy – again, it’s just been a really slow month, but I did manage to finish the third part in the trilogy, Lesser Evil, and will be publishing a blog with my thoughts on it in the coming days! Since then, I’ve moved on to reading The Last Wish, a book of short stories that introduce The Witcher, after reading this blog from Dave at Wordaholicsanonymous. The Witcher is something I’ve been meaning to dip into for years, albeit having never played the video game. My buddy Tony is a huge fan, and we have played the board game, but that has been it up to this point. I think I’ve read the first three short stories so far, and I’m definitely into it!

The Book of Boba Fett closed up this month, as well, what a curious show that was, in the end. Much more haphazard than The Mandalorian before it, I have to say. I’m still not 100% sure what I think about it, two weeks later – I mean, it was Star Wars, so it was fun. It was a bit of a miss, I think, but I don’t think I actively disliked it as much as, perhaps, a lot of other people seem to. I think a lot of the failings come down to the fact that it was a show about a character nobody has really known what to do with since his debut in 1980; The Mandalorian has shown us how good a show about a bounty hunter could be, so I’m a bit confused as to why this needed to be a Thing. But a Thing it is, and so here we are.

When I’m done with the Witcher, I think I’m going to read some more Star Wars, as I do seem to be in that kind of zone right now. I’ve got the Alphabet Squadron trilogy to read, for starters, although I’m also thinking/hoping that I can re-read some Legends classics soon! There are a lot of wonderful books in the Legends continuity that I would like to showcase on the blog here, so I’m thinking it’d be good to get back to my roots, as it were!

Taking Stock: Drukhari edition!

Hey everybody,
So following on from my Taking Stock blog that I wrote up at the weekend, I decided that I would actually take a look at the Dark Eldar that I have ongoing, as I really don’t know how many of these guys I have built and waiting for paint. (I also don’t know how many I have that are built and painted, but that’s another story I guess!) I’ve been through my box of shame, and it really is quite surprising just how much stuff is in there!

It’s interesting, to me, that I seemed to get a lot of my Dark Eldar painted up really quite quickly before just moving back into other bits and pieces. It’s a shame, because I would say it’s certainly one of my favourite armies to play, at least in the Index days of 8th edition. Once the codex came out, I seemed to go off the boil a little, as it seemed to me such a prescriptive way to play the army, forcing you to choose separate detachments for your Cult, Coven and Kabal. However, with 9th edition and the new and improved Raiding Force detachment (plus the general shift in focus from detachments anyway), I’m once again thinking about my favourite evil space elves. With the promise of a big-points game with my buddy JP on the horizon, I’ve started to evaluate what I have still waiting in the wings!

By my count, I have 23 distinct units that need some form of attention, whether it’s just painting, just finishing touches, or the whole thing. I also have eight kits that are still on the sprue, including two finecast character models.

By far and away, the biggest chunk of my unfinished stuff is Wych Cult units. I have three groups of 10 Wyches, one of which was kinda finished though I’ve never really been happy with them. I have two Venoms and a Raider specifically for Wyches. I have three units of Reavers, and two units of Hellions (although I’ve started to think of them as a single, 10-man unit). I have the Beastmaster and some of his mates, and I believe the Voidraven can be considered a Cult unit.

However, I also have some Wracks, Grotesques and a second Talos ready for the Coven, and I have two groups of 10 Kabalite Warriors and two Raiders for the Kabal. In total, I think it comes to something in the region of 2100 points, which is quite astounding if I’m honest – I mean, I’m fairly sure that my total painted Dark Eldar amounts to somewhere in the region of 2500! I have almost as much unpainted as I have painted! So I think this definitely needs to change.

That said, I have also had a look through the rest of the army as it stands right now, to see what I have available and so on. Turns out, I have some units that are now illegal, such as the Haemonculus I was building last edition with the different weapon options. A lot of the units in this book can now only be equipped with those weapons that come with them, such as the HQ choices (although weirdly a Succubus can still use all manner of Wych weapons). I was also struck by the paint job that I’ve done on most of my models – it’s very… workman-like, shall we say? They’re painted models, so that’s good, but I was surprised at how bad some of them look. Highlighting on the armour is one case in point, where some Kabalite Warriors look like they’ve had a basecoat and that’s that. I definitely need to try and go back on a few of them, and bring them up to scratch. However, I think the main focus will need to stay as getting more units painted, first. In an effort to not be overwhelmed, I’m thinking that I will paint the 10 Wyches first, and then plan where to go next. As opposed to planning out the next few units that I’d like to do, which all too often leads to me getting distracted and so on!

While Necrons are my first love, and Tau are my current obsession, I think the Drukhari being in the state that they are is a very poor show, because it’s definitely an army that I have a lot of love and affection for.


I mentioned earlier a game in the pipeline. I’ve got a list of 1750 points drawn up along the lines of the Realspace Raid force, something that is pretty different to the one that I drew up back last autumn when I was first making my way through the new codex. Let’s take a look:

I talked about this before, but the Realspace Raid detachment must contain HQs and Troops choices from each of the three arms of the Drukhari army. In addition, the Archon must be the Warlord. I see no problem with that, as it’s all very thematic after all! I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade my Archon to be a Master Archon, which gives me increased relics and warlord traits options, both of which I have chosen for him, and you can upgrade one of the troops choices to be a favoured retinue, which I have not chosen at this time. I think, if I had a spare 20 points, though, it might be nice to get some Kabalite Trueborn in there, as their accuracy is improved to BS 2+. Maybe something to think about in the future.

For my Kabal, I have stuck with the Obsidian Rose. This still grants 6” to the range of assault/rapid fire/heavy weapons, and you can also re-roll a wound roll for each unit when they shoot or fight. They also have a nice stratagem whereby fleeing models get to either shoot or fight before they flee the battlefield, and if they actually destroy any enemy models, they don’t leave. It’s an interesting option for that one unit that you don’t want to see leave! The Obsidian Rose warlord trait gives +1 strength, but I think the upgrade trait he has from the Master Archon ability (+1 damage on all weapons) is going to be more useful; the splinter pistol is a poisoned weapon anyway, so strength doesn’t matter, so it would only buff the power sword. Going forward, I’m giving some thought to chopping off his power sword, in favour of the huskblade, which is D2 (though S user).

I do like the idea of having two big blobs of Kabalite Warriors. They are some very beautiful miniatures, even if some people do think of them as “old” models now. I think I have, in total, something like 50-odd Warriors in various stages of completion, plus 10 more on the sprue. I say 50-odd as I have taken to re-organising my collection so that I have each squad capable of taking either of the special weapons, and in some cases, either of the heavy weapons. In theory, a squad of ten can have two specials plus a heavy, but they do become points-heavy in that instance, and I think for the time being I would prefer to have greater flexibility in the army overall – saving enough points on special weapons here can equate to a squad of something else further down the road, you know?

The Wych Cult is here represented by the Wyches, the Succubus, and the Reavers, and each unit gets to take a Combat Drug, which is something I am stupidly glad to see is still a thing in this day and age. I’ve given the Succubus Painbringer, which adds 1 to the toughness of the model, so that she’s now T4. I’ve given the Wyches Grave Lotus for +1 strength, as I think 10 models with improved strength is going to be more effective than giving it to the HQ. 7 Wyches making 4 attacks each with their hekatarii blades as S4 AP-1 D1 isn’t anything to be sniffed at, but I’ve also got Hydra Gauntlets in there which are now four attacks at S6 AP-2 D1, which will be good! There is also the Hyperstimm Backlash stratagem that would double the effect, for +2 strength, though I might be getting a little over-confident with that one! They do get to re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 6” of the Succubus though, which I think might be nice. Finally, the Reavers have Splintermind, which improves the BS and Ld values by 1. I thought that might be useful as these bikes will be buzzing around the battlefield, shooting stuff up, but also have the pistols for shooting into close combat when they get there.

Also on the subject of Reavers, I’ve got my only Heat Lance in the army (and one of only two in the extended army). These weapons are basically the Drukhari version of a meltagun, single shot but S8 AP-4 and always a minimum of 3 damage. I like it, I have to say! Not entirely sure why I haven’t done anything with it in the past, truth be told!

The Wych Cult that I have previously gone for is Cult of the Red Grief, partly because it was the closest that I could find to the colour scheme I had started to paint my models in, back in the day. The codex seems to show a different colour scheme for them now, though, but never mind! The obsession grants re-rolls to charge rolls, and +2 to advance rolls, which I don’t find particularly inspiring, so instead I have chosen to go for the Cult of the Cursed Blade for all of my Wych Cult units, which grants +1 strength to models, and dishes out a mortal wound to the attacking unit when my models make a saving throw of 6. I think that’s really nice, and buffs up those hekatarii blades to S5, which just seems bonkers!

As far as Covens go, I’m sticking with the Coven of Twelve. I think that will give me the most utility, if I’m honest, as it gives an improved AP to melee weapons and also allows for a unit to shoot while performing actions. While I will most likely want my Wracks in close combat, I think having them with the flexibility to achieve objectives and still shoot their weird guns might be handy. The unique stratagem allows for the Haemonculus to dish out mortal wounds in the consolidate phase, which could be very useful if he survives combat, of course! Of all the subfactions, though, I think the Coven is where I’ve most considered going for one of those design-your-own things, where you take two different effects and mash them up into something more suitable. Maybe next time… So there we have it, 1750 points of Drukhari/Dark Eldar ready to go! It’s going to be interesting to see how the army plays when I get them onto the table, as a lot has changed since I last played the army. There was a time in 8th edition where I was playing these guys almost exclusively, and I felt like I really had a handle on things, so I’m eager to see how it will all work out again. Stay tuned for a post-battle run-through, hopefully very soon!

Taking Stock

Hey everybody,
While I continue to paint my Tau force, I’ve been thinking about my other projects on the go, and mulling over my hobby resolutions for 2022. Now, I do have a lot of stuff in my to-do pile, so I thought I’d try to take stock a little, and see if I could try to get it clear in my head exactly what I am dealing with. I’m not saying that I’ll be tackling any of this during the year – I just want to work through the pile of shame! I think it will be helpful to work out just how many projects I’m looking at, though, so let’s take a look!

To start with, I have got a lot of Space Marines of various flavours. After several abortive attempts to actually do something with them, I’ve started testing the waters with selling the Blood Angels off. I mean, when am I really going to do anything with them? There’s only so much time in the day and so on, and something I am acutely aware of as time goes on is just how many armies that I have where I constantly feel like I’m learning how to play them. As it happens, my buddy JP knows someone who is starting Blood Angels, so we shall see…

I’m very much thinking the same thing for my Deathwatch and Tempestus Scions forces, too. That said, I am quite attached to those models, as they are some beautiful creations. For the time being, I think I’m going to keep them, but I will more than likely be trimming down the numbers that I have.

The other week, I was investigating my Adeptus Mechanicus force, and was quite surprised to discover that I actually have over 1000 points of these guys already! The battalion force consists of three Tech Priests and some Skitarii troops, along with two lots of Electro-Priests, some Sicarians, a Dunecrawler and a Sydonian Dragoon. I have a box of Kataphron Battle Servitors still in the shrinkwrap which tips it over the 1000 points mark, and I’m considering getting a Skitarii Marshal just to finish it off. Now, I would say about half of this army, maybe more, isn’t painted yet, but having a small army like this does appeal to me – it’s basically a finished army, it just needs painting, you know? I have no plans to add any more of the newer models that have come out, but I suppose time will tell on that score. AdMech is a faction that has some real appeal for me, though, and seeing all of my miniatures grouped together has really reinforced why I want to keep them.

Rounding out my Imperium armies are the Sisters and the Grey Knights. Both of these are much heftier armies, as I went quite deep into both of them back in the day, so still have a lot to paint for the Knights, and I do feel like I’ve barely started with the Sisters! GK are an army that I was enjoying playing over the Christmas period, and I have come to think of them as my Christmas army, which I know makes little sense. But I won’t be getting rid of them or anything, they’re just going to be on hiatus for the time being.

The Sisters of Battle are in a very weird place, as I have built up the whole of the starter box back when that came out, and had started to paint them pale blue before I have basically used that colour scheme for my Tau. So I’ve started to give some thought as to a different scheme, which in turn has made me think about basically starting again, so I have started to build up another Battle Sisters squad. I’m not sure I really have it in me to strip the paint from those Sisters I had begun to paint last Spring, but you never know. I do know that I want to keep them, though, as just looking at the model range again has got me inspired to make them work. They are incredible looking miniatures, with some of the best detail that I’ve ever seen. I think an army of these is going to be stunning on the table, and I look forward to the day when that might be the case for me!

Moving on to Chaos now, I’ve got a lot of Heretic Astartes, between the Shadowspear box and associated extras. I think I have around 1300 points all told, but there are quite a few of these models that need attention! I’ve got a lot of HQ options, to be fair, but I do have a squad of marines built, with a second squad in the box; I have two squads of 10 cultists (one with guns, one with melee weapons), though these can be buffed further (I have 8 more melee, and 10 more guns). Then there are the Shadowspear daemon bits, plus the Helbrute from Dark Vengeance. I think I have a Forgefiend and Rhino in their respective boxes, too. This faction really excites me, and like the Sisters, I would like to keep hold of these models. It might be the case that I don’t intend to expand out massively, but just keep a small playable force of these guys for small games. But with the expanded Chaos releases apparently on the horizon, to say nothing of the actual Chosen kit that we’ve already seen, I’m in two minds about the whole thing. On the one hand, it would be an exciting time to be getting more models for the force. With the rumours of Cultist support, having so many already it might be worth getting some more bits. But on the other, it would be expanding out for an army that has already been languishing unpainted for so long. I don’t want to get rid of them, that much I’m sure of, but as I’ve not done anything with it in so long, it seems silly to actually buy more models for the pile of shame…

I’ve also got a non-zero amount of Chaos Daemons, all Slaanesh, which I could probably do without but I just love them so much, I can’t seem to bring myself to just get rid of them all. Especially as I’ve already done this twice before! I think I’m gonna keep hold of them for now, at least.

Completing the three pillars, let’s move on to xenos now!

I’m not going to talk about the Tau, because they’re a new and ongoing project. My Necrons and Dark Eldar seem somehow to be huge ongoing projects as well, so I think it might be easiest to just leave those as they are for the time being, although the Dark Eldar in particular does seem to be quite a massive one.

Tyranids are a big love of mine, and I had a fairly abortive start again with them last summer, before moving swiftly into my Genestealer Cults. If my calculations are correct, then I have well on the way to 1700 points of Tyranids, with probably two more squads of Genestealers waiting to be built, and a Tyrranocyte still in the box. With the new codex coming out at some point, this is quite an exciting prospect, and I am looking forward to seeing how this will all turn out when the new book is in hand. I love the Tyranids, and even though I haven’t really been incredibly proactive with them so far, I will be keeping hold of these models. I’m doubtful as to whether I would really look to add anything to them, but I suppose you never know!

Genestealer Cults have been quite the success story for me recently, but I have put them somewhat on the back burner since I have embarked on the Tau project. In addition to having the painted force that I have so far, I still have a Sanctus and Abominant, some Aberrants, lots of Acolyte Hybrids, and still quite a few Neophyte Hybrids to paint up. So while I have done well with this army in the last few months of 2021, I do still have quite some way to go.

So, in quite a big nutshell, that’s what I’m looking at right now!

The big take-away from all of this is that I have begun to think of all the various boxes of miniatures in terms of being army projects now. This in turn has helped me to think of them as being almost closed projects, when it comes to stuff like the Chaos and the Tyranids, and while there might be a lot of models that I have to fight through, there is a finite number of things to finish painting. This is good, because it does make the scale of the task that much more manageable, I think. When I was painting the Genestealer Cults last year, I was taking two or three units at a time, and thinking of it as “this is my project”, not taking the entire army as it stands as being “the project” and being scared off. I think it’s an approach that I have mentioned quite a bit so far in 2022, where I want to think of my painting goals in terms of units, and not as the army as a whole, or being too vague and “paint more!” as a general point.

Moving forward, then, I think I’m looking at having nine armies in total: Necrons, Dark Eldar, Grey Knights, Heretic Astartes, Genestealer Cults, Tyranids, Adeptus Mechanicus, Sisters of Battle and Tau. Saying “I have nine armies” sounds ridiculous, but when some of these armies are small-scale, it doesn’t necessarily seem quite so bad. I do like the variety that comes with having multiple armies, and a lot of that is also down to my enjoyment of a range of miniatures.

Of course, I’m wary of saying anything in terms of “I want to get x done” or whatever, although I am now thinking that I would like to paint up some specifics over the course of the year. I’m thinking the Sicarians for my AdMech, and I would really like to have at least one full unit of Battle Sisters done, too. I know my 2022 hobby resolutions suggested that I would be getting something like a playable army ready, but being realistic here, I think with everything else going on, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew… I’d probably feel happier about keeping all of those Sisters as well, if I’d managed to finish a unit!

For now, then, 2022 is going to be about the Tau army, with some side projects in the shape of some Imperium forces getting some paint. I do also have some Genestealer Cults units to consider, such as the bikers, but I’m going to stop there because there are so many other projects that I’d like to get into, like more Necromunda and more terrain!

Tau Codex thoughts

Hey everybody,
The Tau Codex has been out for a short while already, though it’s taken me some time to get to grips with it – as with pretty much all these 9th edition codexes that I’ve had my hands on so far, it feels very much like there’s a lot to wrap my head around, given the way that they’re presented. A lot of it is an improvement, of course, grouping the Sept-specific stuff together on one page to allow for easier evaluation of the different sub-factions, but the rules are so often presented in that kind of legal-speak that it can sometimes make things dense to read through.

At any rate, I’ve been having a leaf through, and I think there could be some fun times ahead!

To start with, I don’t have any plans to get myself a Hammerhead Gunship right now! The massive fuss over the rail gun being a Knight-killer seems to have died down at last, which I’m glad about as it was getting a bit annoying. 145 points is good, but it’s a one-shot weapon that hits on 4+. I actually prefer it for the Submunitions stratagem that allows it to dish out up to 8 mortal wounds by rolling a 4+ for each model in a unit. It’s a wonderfully dangerous unit, but I don’t think it’s worth the hype.


It’s been a while since I played Tau, of course, so I don’t think there will be too many comparisons with “back in the day” and so forth! Back when I had a Tau army, though, I was playing them as Bork’an Sept, which granted +6” to rapid fire and heavy weapons. Now, all ranged weapons get +4”, and target units get -1S if the weapon’s S is 7 or more. So, plasma rifles, fusion blasters, rail rifles and ion rifles are the key targets here – Pathfinders and any Suits will be the greatest beneficiaries. That said, I’ve moved away from the idea of Bork’an Sept, and have been painting my models in the Sa’cea Sept colour scheme.

But I think Battlesuits in general are really buffed out in this book, making them the deadly pieces from the army that they should be. When you read how utterly devastating a Crisis Suit is in the fiction and the lore, it’s nice to see that reflected on the tabletop. Battlesuits can fire into close combat now, so mobbing them won’t neutralise them. It’s nice, because these units are iconic to the faction, and something that I plan to use in my army list when I get there! It’s nice to have the infantry of course, but I do like the Crisis Suits, and I’m picturing a Riptide as the centrepiece of the army. So it’ll be nice to have durability there.

For the Greater Good has gone, so there are no more Overwatch shenanigans coming into play with the army. From what I can tell, it isn’t even hiding as a Sept tenet or a stratagem, it’s just gone. I do quite like that, because it’s something that used to make fighting Tau quite oppressive, and could lead to a very slow game as the Overwatch step just carries on forever. The Master of War ability, where a Commander could declare Kauyon or Mont’ka has been completely re-worked into something that doesn’t even resemble its earlier form. Now called Philosophies of War, it’s a bit like the Grey Knights Tides of the Warp where you select an effect to last for a battle round. Mont’ka can be used during the first three rounds, and allows you to move and shoot without the movement impacting, and improves the AP of those shots within a set range, depending on the battle round number. Kauyon overlaps on round 3 and lasts for the rest of the battle, and allows you to both fall back and shoot (with -1 to hit), and gives exploding hits that improve as the battle wears on. Some pretty powerful things there, for sure!

Let’s look at some changes though, since the last time I played. Markerlights are a big one, as they seem to be very much streamlined since the days of 8th edition. Back then, there was a Markerlights table, a cumulative list of effects that range from re-rolls to denying cover, but this has all changed. Fire Markerlights is now an action that begins at the start of the movement phase, and is completed at the end – except for Pathfinders, who start and complete the action at the end of that phase. Vehicles and Drones can also move without the action failing. You pick an enemy unit within 36” and roll a D6 for each Markerlight in your unit; on a 3+ you hit, and the enemy unit gains a Markerlight token. Unlike the GSC codex, though, we don’t get a fancy set of tokens with this book. With the tokens on the board, friendly Tau Empire units get +1 to hit against a unit with a token, and then the token is removed after each shooting attack. Interestingly, you don’t remove the tokens until the firing unit has finished making all attacks – so a Crisis Suit with four different weapons can get +1 to hit with each one, before that token is removed. I initially thought it meant you remove it after each weapon is fired, but anyway. I guess that Hammerhead will be hitting on 3s after all!

Tau Empire Drones

So Markerlights are different. Drones are different, too. Time was, you could pass off any wound to a drone within 3” on a 2+, the so-called “saviour protocols”. Well, that doesn’t exist any longer. Instead, Drones in 9th edition are almost like unit upgrades, some of which bring extra guns to the table. They don’t count as part of the unit they’re attached to for almost any rule that cares about starting strength, overall toughness, etc; their loss is ignored for Morale tests, and any drones docked on another model then the Drone doesn’t count as independent of that model, so you cannot allocate wounds to it that way either. However, because Drones are now attached to the unit properly, that does mean that Shield Drones with 2W and 4++ are going to be handy to have around. They are slightly more expensive than the other two types of Tactical Drone, though, so I don’t know if those extra points might get in the way of their inclusion. It’ll be interesting, though, to make lists from here on out!

And talking of lists, I have started to think in general about how I would like to build out my force. As I’ve already mentioned, I have two full units of Pathfinders now, and I’m working on my first batch of Fire Warriors. My next purchase is definitely going to be a Commander – I know I have talked about buying stuff then painting it, and I’ve got the whole Start Collecting box still to work through, but now that I have the Codex, I want to try and get games in, and so I think I will need a big lad to lead the team. Coldstar Commanders have been somewhat nerfed – gone is the 40” advance across the board, instead we’ve got a model that moves 14”. Ah well – I still like the model, and so I’m still thinking I’ll use him! What I find interesting is that everything seems to have become more deadly – I think we all know about plasma rifles going from S6 AP-3 D1 to S8 AP-4 D3, but stuff like the airbusting fragmentation projector has an increased range and AP, the high-output burst cannon has got more shots, the fusion blaster has got more damage output, etc etc. It’s all just that much more deadly now, and I like it!

I am looking forward to adding the Crisis Suits into the mix, because I think the unit is just so iconic. All-plasma is a very tempting prospect, though I also like the cyclic ion blaster for the number of shots. However, I’ve gone for a bit of a mix in my plans, using the Shas’vre as a hopefully more lethal threat, backed up with a pair of Shas’ui who are a little more utility-focused. The cyclic ion blaster is a bit like an Imperium plasma gun, with the standard/overcharge profiles, and the fusion blaster is the Tau equivalent of a meltagun. The other two guys each have burst cannons and plasma rifles, giving them a spread of shots as well as a focused attack, and I’ve given each of them a multi-tracker to help with damage output – my thinking here is that the burst cannon being Assault 6 will be better suited to bigger units, so the support system having exploding 6s to hit when a target unit has 6 or more models should be handy. The plasma rifle is probably overkill against the same kind of unit, but could still have a place when dealing with sergeants or something. All three models also have missile pods, which are a handy little piece of kit to hopefully throw out some additional damage. To finish, I’m using two of each type of tactical drone, simply for the flexibility.

Support Systems are worth a mention here, also, as some of them have had a small change here and there, and others seem to be wildly different to what I remember them doing! The positional relay is back as a thing, and allows you to bring in reserves in round one; target lock now removes cover from target unit; early-warning override is nice in that it now allows for Overwatch on 5+ and you don’t need to pay the CP for it; the advanced targeting system auto-wounds on 6s. There are some big changes here, which I suppose reflect the changes to the rules in this edition. Drone controllers and shield generators are basically the same though. I think it’s really cool that they have not only kept these things, but improved upon them in certain circumstances.

Much like the relics and whatnot, it’s stuff like this that makes list-building in 9th edition a very tricky business, and as I said when talking about my Genestealer Cults army, I think it’s something that I need to just play games with, to see how it works out for me!

As it stands currently, then, I have 848 points of Tau planned out. The force will be led by the Coldstar Commander, who is toting a high-output burst cannon and airbusting fragmentation projector, along with missile pod and shield generator. He’s the warlord, and his warlord trait allows for re-rolls of both hits and wounds. I’ve upgraded him with internal grenade packs, which allows him to bomb enemies as he flies over them, so I’m quite excited for that!

I also have an Ethereal on hover drone. Ethereals are a bit like Chaplains and Priests now, in that they have Invocations they can choose to attempt each round. Mine knows Storm of Fire (allowing nearby units to shoot while performing actions) and Zephyr’s Grace (-1 to hit if the unit targeting nearby units moved that turn).

For the time being, I’m sticking with Sa’cea Sept, the colour scheme that I have chosen, which allows for some defence as when my infantry are targeted from more than 12” away, they are treated as being in Dense Cover, something that I like. I’m also using the Sa’cea signature system for my Commander, which gives enemies targeting him -1 to hit in the fight phase.

I think there’s going to be a delicate balance to be struck here with defence and offence, but hopefully I’ll be able to have a few good games with these guys once I have them ready to go. I’m going to concentrate now on getting my Fire Warriors finished, then it’ll be time to work on the Ethereal and the Commander, probably during March now.

I am extremely tempted to pick up something else to try and push the points up to 1000 so that I can get some games played, but with 150 points of stuff needed to get there, I think I need to rein myself in a bit first! It’s very tempting to just build it up so that I can play, especially now that I have the book in hand, but in all honesty I do need to control myself. I really don’t want to be drowning in plastic, especially since this is what happened last time I built a Tau army, and I ended up getting rid of it all!

Having some degree of self-control is actually good, though, as it’s making me properly evaluate my purchase choices and ensuring that I only buy what I want in the army. Last time, I had a multitude of stuff, and I don’t think I could have fielded it all outside of an Apocalypse game. Buying just what I want for the force, and painting it steadily as I have been, is definitely a good way to go about this sort of army-building!

The Book of Boba Fett (episodes 6 & 7)

Hey everybody,
So that’s it, The Book of Boba Fett is over. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting for this series, and even after making my way through all seven episodes, I’m not entirely sure what it is that I’ve seen! Let’s talk about the last two episodes to begin, though, and then I’ll see about summing up.

Episode six was mainly another departure from Boba’s story, as we follow the Mandalorian visiting Grogu at Luke’s nascent Jedi Academy. In a small tie-in to the Sequel trilogy, we see the round house being built by labour droids. Mando seems to be given a test of waiting to meet Luke, while the de-aged Mark Hamill works with Grogu to rediscover the training he had received prior to Order 66. Ahsoka shows up and tells Mando it might be more of a hindrance to Grogu to meet with him, so he leaves the beskar gift with her and returns to Tatooine. While Luke is attempting to open Grogu further to the Force, progress is still slow and so he offers the youngling a choice: Yoda’s lightsaber (continue the ways of the Jedi) or Mando’s gift (return to his foster-father-figure).

Meanwhile on Tatooine, Mando goes to Cobb Vanth to discuss Fett’s need for footsoldiers in the escalating war against the Pyke Syndicate. The hired gun Cad Bane later arrives and orders Vanth to allow the Pykes to keep running spice through the area, shooting both Vanth and his deputy before leaving. The episode ends with two Pykes bombing the Sanctuary cantina on Fett’s territory.

This episode was pretty intense, I have to say. The young Luke effects seemed a lot more believable this time around, and I think this is really quite exciting, going forward. His training of Grogu seemed to bring an element of spirituality back into the Force, which I liked. It was of course derivative of Luke’s own time on Dagobah, and I think that has always been a bit of a handicap of Star Wars as we don’t really ever see how Jedi training is meant to be outside of a jungle swamp setting, but still. It had a beautiful, serene aspect to it that I liked a lot.

As if seeing the Child again wasn’t enough, and seeing Ahsoka again where she talks about Anakin, we also have Cad Bane making his live-action debut! Never entered my head that he would be a part of this, but as he is one of the best aspects of the Clone Wars cartoon, I was extremely happy to see him show up.

The season finale is basically a culmination of the conflict between the Pykes and Fett. Over the course of an hour, we learn that the other crime families have double-crossed Fett and sided with the Pykes, and the two factions clash amid the ruins of the Sanctuary cantina, with some wild swings from one side to another – the Pykes bring in massive droideka-like shielded attack droids; Fett brings in his rancor. It’s all very swingy, and amid the carnage, Grogu appears having made his choice to abandon his Jedi heritage in favour of returning to Mando’s side. During the climax of the battle, Fett kills Cad Bane. Fennec Shand kills the leaders of the crime families and the Pyke Syndicate, and the show ends with Fett and Shand walking through the streets of Mos Espa as benevolent rulers. In a mid-credits scene, we see Cobb Vanth in the bacta tank, being tended to by the mod parlour guy.

The end of this show has been likened to a kid clashing his toys together in utter carnage, and to some extent that approach isn’t far wrong. I mean, there’s a rancor, there are two Mandalorians, there are Pykes, there are shielded droids, a massive Wookiee, the list goes on! But given that the show has been building to this battle, it is actually a decent pay-off having everybody basically throwing themselves at it.

Overall, I think The Book of Boba Fett has been a very odd duck. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was going to be about, as the title is a little vague, but while everything seemed to be pointing so much to the idea of Boba Fett taking over the criminal underworld on Tatooine, it seemed to fall quite flat in many respects. I often got the sense that it was a gangster story written by a really nice guy, who has no idea how bad people behave. Was it trying too hard to make Fett “Disney suitable” maybe? I do feel that they show didn’t really know what to do with Fett as a character, which is symptomatic of how he has been treated since his costume inspired a generation back in 1980. What amounted to a few minutes of screen time has spawned a legend that can never really be satisfactorily dealt with, which is a shame. If the show had leant a bit more into the criminal underworld, then maybe it would have been better. Jabba’s empire was built on spice, slavery and other unsavoury practices; if Fett wants to take it over, he needs to get his hands dirty. I find it interesting that Fett’s solution amounts more to a protection racket than anything else. But it’s all very flowery – he’s got an exotic title and demands “tribute” and therefore he can be the almost hero of the tale.


The Mandalorian season 2.5 side episodes were, for me, a real highlight. And this is where I feel like the point of this series may come into it. The Book of Boba Fett almost feels like it’s a testing bed to see what else they could do with live action Star Wars, a bit like season two of The Mandalorian. We have the young Luke stuff which could be testing the water to see if that is suitable for protracted use in something like Ahsoka’s upcoming series; we have Cad Bane who I’m sure will be returning in some form (Kenobi, maybe?), and the Pyke stuff which could run into a Solo follow-up with the Crimson Dawn. I keep banging that drum because it just makes so much sense, if not to follow up the film with Qi’ra and all the stuff with Maul, then to catch up with them 10 years or however long it is later. It really feels like a very loose thread that we have there, and I would absolutely love for those characters to be revisited.

Will there be a season two? Does there even need to be a season two? It feels like this was the Boba Fett standalone movie that we were hearing about, off and on, for years. Is there more story that can be told? Who knows. I guess he’s a popular enough character, whether he rides a rancor or not, so it would allow for fan service again. I don’t think it would kill me if we didn’t get another season, but I imagine that Fett and Shand will be popping up again as this MandoVerse idea kicks into full swing…

Back to the Underhive

Hey everybody,
Last week, I had a game of Necromunda for the first time in ages, my Delaque vs James and his Orlocks! The last time we played was well over six months ago, and not only have we both had another child each since then, but we’ve played a bit of 40k, so it was very much a case of getting back into the rules, etc.

I’m very pleased to say, though, that it went really well, and didn’t seem to take a great deal of time to get back into the swing of things. I think the biggest thing, for me, was remembering all the little bits and pieces like accuracy modifiers, ammo checks, and so on. But once we got into it, we managed to get pretty much through three unhurried rounds where I seemed to have amazing dice rolls, and systematically eliminated the Orlocks until only the leader remained.

It was pretty epic, in fairness, that final battle. James charged his leader into mine, whereupon his servo-claw missed, but my shock staff did some damage. My champion then came in with his web gauntlet and webbed him, then another ganger came along and took off another wound. With him webbed and seriously injured on the ground, we called it a night. But throughout the game, it surprised me how things went.

We were playing Hit and Run, from the Dark Uprising book, and I was the Defender, so set up in the centre of the battlefield. The Orlocks were then arrayed fairly close-in around me, as their guns were better in short range, but it did mean that I had a lot of gangers who could support each other and eliminate fighters where one would shoot to pin them, then the other could charge in and deliver a coup de grace. I think I took out three fighters in this way, and a fourth Orlock was lost to stray shots from friendly fire.

The bottle test was brutal though, as two fighters just immediately fled at the start of the third round, leaving just two active Orlocks left, whereas I had 8 remaining fighters through sheer dumb luck and good dice rolls, so I never had to test!

A learning point for us was close combat, however, where we just assumed a reaction attack would mean the fighter also activates. But it seems the internet tells me otherwise! Seems very powerful, if a Ready fighter is charged, so gets to fight back (if he survives, I guess!) and then can fight as well, though of course if the fighter who charged survives a second attack, he too can then make a reaction attack, and on it goes? Seems like a proper scrap, I kinda like it!

I was trying out one of the new Psy-Gheists, as well, equipped with a Psychoteric Wyrm exotic beast. The psychic element of Necromunda is quite interesting, I think, especially for Delaque, where their native psykers have a high Willpower stat to start with. Psychic Tests are done on Willpower, which is a 2D6 check, but the Psy-Gheists have a Wil of 8+. I don’t think I managed to get it off at all, and ended up using the Wyrm to bite the ankles of one of the Orlocks to pin him, then swooped in with another ganger for the coup de grace.

For the next outing, I’m definitely going to try and build a few more generic ganger-types. A lot of my current 10-strong painted gang have special weapons, as I did kinda go to town a little with the Forge World upgrades, so I’d like to get them a little more playable, and a little more normal! I am going to get the upgrade set so that I have more shotguns and stuff, but I think I need to try and be more circumspect in what I’m doing, as I’d like to have a good setup.

We’re going to play another game before launching into a campaign, which should be very interesting. I’m thinking it might be good to go for more of a straight-up Dominion Campaign as our first taste, but we’ll no doubt be talking about it in the coming weeks and making a better decision then. It’s very exciting though, I have to say!

Star Wars: Thrawn – Ascendancy: Greater Good (a review)

Hey everybody,
Earlier this week, I finished reading the second novel in the Thrawn Ascendancy series. You can check out my thoughts on the first book here. The second book in the Ascendancy trilogy is quite the sprawling epic, I have to say! It definitely takes a more leisurely pace than the first book, and I think it does seem to suffer a little bit under its own weight.

We start the novel with Admiral Ar’alani in charge of the task force clearing out remaining Nikardun bases, alongside Senior Captains Thrawn and Lakinda. Thrawn has been tasked with a separate mission though, involving refugees on Rapacc, which brings us back to some elements from the first novel, although it seems that this is all tangled up in Thurfian’s plot to take Thrawn down. The refugees are led by the Magys, who has demanded her people join her in some ritual mass-suicide as a result of the attack on their world, but Thrawn tries to convince her otherwise, taking her to her home planet to see if the world really is beyond saving. Lakinda is asked to find Thrawn and help, but both ships come under attack at the planet, although of course Thrawn is able to ensure both Chiss ships escape unharmed. Without a clear idea of what was going on, Admiral Ar’alani takes over mapping the planet to assess the devastation while Thrawn continues his mission, which involves the Vagaari pirates.

There is a whole other plot that involves the alien Haplif and his attempts to bring down the Chiss Ascendancy for Jixtus, which is a really slow burn and is built through both present-day and Memory chapters. Haplif and his crew convince the Xodlak family they have control of a nyix mine, the metal from which the Chiss make their warship hulls. The Xodlak see this as their chance to gain more political power, and so declare a family emergency, recalling all of their personnel – including Lakinda – for the task. Things come to a head with two other families that have also had the aliens playing their con game, but Thrawn has naturally discovered the ruse and is trying to diffuse the situation. He is able to destroy the mine without the families losing face.

As I said, it was a very sprawling book, and I think it could have used a bit more space, particularly towards the end. The story seems to be fairly well balanced between the various elements, even if there seems to have been a lot of time spent with Haplif and his scheme. However, there is a significant lack of Thrawn for the middle act, and when he does re-appear, things seemed a little bit rushed, to me, to get to the end. Though interestingly, it was around the 350-page mark (the book is 410 pages long) where suddenly the light is seen at the end of the tunnel, when it all seems to coalesce and I finally understood how all the elements fit together, so maybe the crashing realisation that I came to at that point led to me feeling that!

As I said, a lot of the story seemed to involve Haplif and the Agbui scheme, including the Memories, and it did strike me as being a bit odd how the pace really seemed to slacken when compared with the first book. This shadow war is in direct contrast to the plotline with General Yiv in the first book, though, and I suppose it will by necessity feel different. It was an interesting book, I have to say, but I think there is a very different feel to the first one, and if you go into this thinking it’s going to continue the story of the first, it will feel very different.

I mentioned last time how this didn’t feel like Star Wars, and the fact this time we don’t even have a minor appearance from Anakin Skywalker to anchor it into the GFFA does seem to cut this book adrift. It feels so divorced from Star Wars as we know it, and yet it’s still a very compelling story. I find this quite fascinating, because I’m reading this as a Star Wars novel, but it hardly feels like a Star Wars novel. Does that make sense?

There is also the continuation of the plotlines about trying to take Thrawn down. Thurfian’s plot against him still feels a bit daft, but Samakro, his first officer, has more of a legitimate grievance as he was removed from command of the Springhawk to place Thrawn there. Samakro also seems to have it in for Thalias, thinking her a spy for Thurfian and he is convinced she’s going to confuse the command structure in favour of family politics, despite so much evidence to the contrary. It definitely feels like it’s there simply to provide conflict, and doesn’t really have a believable basis. But it’s a minor complaint in an otherwise really good series.