The Conqueror Worm

For whatever reason, back when my blog was 5 and I featured Hellboy during Birthday Week, I neglected to get to the fifth trade paperback in the series, The Conqueror Worm. Which is weird, because my goodreads profile tells me that I did read it back then! When I had first got into Hellboy, this was as far as the series went, and I had wanted to relive the early 2000s with my birthday feature, but never mind – let’s correct this oversight now, in fact let’s do so twice!

Firstly, let’s talk about the comic. Back at the start of 1939, the Nazis had attempted to commune with the elder beings floating around in space, sending up a dead body for one of these monstrosities to inhabit, but the plan failed before they could recall the rocket. Well, the rocket has been spotted in 2000 and the BPRD are dispatched to investigate! Hellboy and Roger are led to Hunte Castle in Austria by a local police officer, who later turns out to be Inger von Klempt, granddaughter of Hermann von Klempt, the Nazi scientist who led the experiment in 1939. Lobster Johnson, something of a Captain America figure from the WW2-era, and believed dead when the original Nazi plot was disrupted, reappears and teams up with Roger to destroy the castle’s power generators, while Hellboy is initially tortured by von Klempt and his cybernetic Kriegaffe (war ape).

The rocket lands and a gas comes out, transforming everybody present into frog creatures. Inger has been protected against it to some extent, but when the Conqueror Worm itself emerges from the capsule and begins to devour the transformed mutants, she asks her grandfather how he could possibly hope to control the beast. Hermann tells her, after the failure of so many projects to bring about Nazi domination, he just wants to watch the death of the world as the Conqueror Worm will awaken the Ogdru Jahad. Roger is able to kill Hermann, and Lobster Johnson then uses a lightning rod to attract a massive jolt of electricity to kill the Worm. After his experiences with the BPRD, Hellboy decides to quit, and travel to Africa.

In an epilogue, Rasputin’s ghost is taunted by Hecate, who herself is inhabiting the body of Ilsa Haupstein still contained within the iron maiden. Rasputin’s plans to release the Ogdru Jahad will forever come to nothing, as the only force capable of releasing them is Hellboy’s stone right hand. Rasputin screams in defiance, to the point where his spirit shatters; Baba Yaga collects a fragment to wear in an acorn around her neck.

The book is quite glorious, I have to say. Some of the panels have such a gothic imagery that it really speaks to the search through the lower depths of Hunte Castle, and the sense of foreboding and dread as if the gargoyles are watching Hellboy’s progress. There’s something of a 90s feel to some of the panels, as the Conqueror Worm goes about his business – a lot of the colours and shading brings to mind the Dark Empire series, for me. The story is just exactly what I think of when I think of Hellboy – crazy Nazi scientists with their doomsday plots, it’s all delightfully over the top. The epilogue though, is really quite eerie – there’s a sense of the evil puppet masters, behind the scenes going over their plots, and so on. I especially liked the addition of Baba Yaga at the end, as well.

All in all, very creepy, and exactly what I like in a Hellboy story!

Secondly, I played with the Conqueror Worm expansion for the first time not too long ago, and I was really quite impressed! For years, despite having the graphic novels, Hellboy to me was Big Red going up against the Nazis and their Project Ragna Rok, thanks to the movie portrayal. While the frog monsters make sense within the board game universe, it’s still really quite special when you get more into this side of the Hellboy universe. The expansion features five types of Nazis, plus the eponymous Worm himself, as well as new scenery and rooms, and the associated card decks, along with two new playable agents: Lobster Johnson and Roger.

I’ve played The Cold Shoulder scenario, and I found it to be really thematic for this particular storyline. I’ve talked about it before, but there are very few “big” stories within the Hellboy comics – for the most part, two parters are as long as things get. So it’s nice to see a big story like Conqueror Worm get the big expansion treatment here. The game starts out with the agents exploring the hallways of the castle until they come across a point of interest, which (spoiler alert) reveals the laboratory where the Nazis are containing the Worm itself. With this tile placed, the Confrontation begins, and in order to win you’ll need to place charges in specific rooms and blow the castle up. While the Worm only has a move characteristic of 1, that miniature is huge, and it’s really quite frightening to see it coming across the board at you! As it happens, I somehow managed to block it in a chokepoint with a piece of terrain, not sure if that was played correctly, but it did slow it down enough that I was then able to move through and place the remaining charges to rig the castle, and get out before it all went boom. Poor Lobster Johnson did actually almost give his life for the cause, though I was able to heal him enough before the final showdown so that we all made it through!

This was my first game with three agents, and I think it definitely helped, as I was able to do a lot on my turns, and the game overall felt like it went much faster for having those increased options. Of course, I’m not sure if I’d always want to do that because the game does scale up for more agents being on the board, but still, it was a lot of fun, and I thought this was perhaps the first time when I felt like the game was a real co-op experience.

The Hellboy board game is truly shaping up to be one of my favourites here, and in recent weeks I think I’ve now doubled the number of plays with it. I think it helps that we’re in that season when it’s good to hunker down with a game, and despite all of my rantings and ravings about Kickstarter games here on the blog, there is something quite exciting about opening up a massive box that is choc-full of trays and trays of miniatures. The Hellboy theme is just the icing on the cake, really!

I do have Hellboy volume 6, and I think I may have investigated one of the stories in there, but I’m soon going to be in uncharted territories with the comic book series. I’m hoping to increase the library there soon, branching out into the BPRD series as well, to see what that’s all about. As for the board game, I definitely want to see more of the BPRD Archives expansion, and start putting together my own case files, as well as trying out more from the core set. The only thing that kinda gives me pause on that is just the sheer amount of frogs… Having all of the Kickstarter goodness does make me feel like mixing things up with some of those other miniatures for some variety, you know? There are suggested rules for that, as well, so I’ll have to take a look into the wider game and see just how I can bring that about. I have clearly been spoiled…!

Lizardmen!

Lizards! Lizards everywhere!

It’s that time again, when I start thinking about another army. Does this happen to anyone else? Just me? Hm, interesting. I’ve almost started a Lizardmen army before, as they’re one of those races from the Old World that really inspires me, though I think back when I was seriously thinking about it, I had that many projects on the go that it got a bit lost in the mire.

That was back in 2014, when I was first getting into the hobby and was a little bit all over the place as regards projects! Following on from the first attempt at building this army, I made a few purchases again a couple of years later. But that never really got off the ground, either! 2016 was a busy time after all.

I’m honestly not that sure why I got rid of these things though, they do take me back to my very early days with the hobby. Back then, it was the artwork from March of the Damned that started it all for me… That huge, calculating Slann on the front of that box – even now, it’s something that I really enjoy.

I can’t really say what it is about the Lizardmen that intrigues me so much. I know very little of their lore – or that of the Seraphon, as they’re now known, but I just like the slightly meso-American vibe they have with their jungle stepped pyramids and whatnot. I do like my fantasy in settings outside of medieval Europe, though.

I didn’t really get very far with the army back in 2014 or 2016 though – just a few skinks and the finecast models at the first attempt, then a single Saurus Knight later on. It’s like it was never meant to be!

From what I’ve heard, the lore of the Seraphon is quite bonkers, something to do with beings from the stars, and you can either play them as being star-stuff or “coalesced”, which gives you access to different rules in-game? I don’t know. Bonkers stuff, but I suppose I just need to get the battletome in my hands. That said, with 3rd edition and whatnot, I’m not sure if it’s going to be worthwhile picking up the book if there could be another one out at some point. There has been a rules update in the current White Dwarf, which I had tried to read through but couldn’t make much sense from. At least it’s allowed me to make a start getting to grips with the new lore, though!

So, what about the army plans?

Well, in short, I’m not sure yet. I’m planning to pick up the Start Collecting set soon, as I think that’s a nice mix of infantry, cavalry, and a big centrepiece model. I would like to get a slann, but I’m not entirely sure about HQ units just yet. As far as colour schemes go, while my first thought is invariably ‘go with the box art’, I’m considering either reds and yellows, or bright greens. Maybe some purple thrown in there as well. That’s one of the big attractions of the army, to me, the bright colours would be a nice change after some of the grim dark 40k stuff. Should be a nice change, I think, anyway!!

At any rate, I’m thinking 2022 might be the year of the lizards – much like 2021 was (for the first few months) the year of the skeletons!

Genestealer Cults in the Black Library!

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a long few weeks as I’ve been reading some Genestealer Cults stories – or re-reading, that should be, as I have actually read both of these before, I’ve just never talked about them on the blog! As I’m still on the Cult kick at the minute (although painting has stopped due to lack of brushes!) I thought it was appropriate to get in the mood, and all that!

Cult of the Warmason is first on the list, and shows a Cult uprising on the shrineworld of Lubentina while the besieged Sisters of Battle attempt to put them down. There is a lot of story here, as we see the battle sisters defend the Warmason’s cathedral against the cultists. The Warmason of the title, Vadok Singh, was the man who helped design the defences around the Imperial Palace on Terra during the Heresy. The Ministorum clerical staff refuse to call for aid until it is too late, and when they think that the Adeptus Astartes have arrived to answer their call, instead it is revealed that the Iron Warriors have arrived to reclaim one of the relics in the cathedral. The cathedral becomes a nexus of the fighting, as the Astra Militarum, the Sisters, the Cult and then the Iron Warriors all converge upon it. The Cultists get the relic first, and so the Iron Warriors follow them into the catacombs below the surface, followed closely by the Sister Superior while all goes to hell up above. The Iron Warriors confront the Patriarch of the Cult, and eventually recover the relic, which turns out to be one of Perturabo’s flawed creations. In keeping with their primarch’s wishes, the launch the device into the sun, and leave the planet. While the world burns, the Sister Superior escapes Lubentina with the genestealer infection…

Like I said, there is a lot of story here, and it almost needs more space to be told at times, as the narrative feels a bit like it jumps around a bit too much. I love the inertia of the ruling Ecclesiarchy and Ministorum council, and there is something wonderfully gothic and very 40k about the flashpoint being centred around a monumental cathedral. However, the story did feel a little bit like it shouldn’t have been constrained by a page count, which is something a lot of Black Library books almost have in common. Perhaps if the Iron Warriors storyline hadn’t been included, things would have had the room to breathe a bit more? I believe that plot links in to the Space Marines Battles novel Siege of Castellax, also by CL Werner, which is on my list to investigate at some point, so maybe I’ll think differently when I’ve read the background there!

However, I also think the novel suffers a little from comparisons with the next book that I read…

Cult of the Spiral Dawn is the rebranded novel from Peter Fehervari originally published as part of the Legends of the Dark Millennium series, back (I think) when the original Genestealer Cults codex came out at the end of 7th Edition. There are a lot of similar ideas to the Warmason book; Sisters of Battle and Astra Militarum fighting the Genestealer Cults uprising on a remote world, but there the similarities end. Spiral Dawn is somehow a lot more complex, and yet also a more compelling read. It starts with the genestealers besieging the abbey stronghold of the Sisters of the Thorn Eternal on the planet Redemption 219, then fast-forwards a century to the arrival on world of a group of pilgrims seeking the light of the Emperor through the Cult of the Spiral Dawn, an officially-sanctioned sect of the Imperial creed. However, when the pilgrims land, a hundred are pressganged into the Vassago Black Flags regiment of the Astra Militarum, who are on some obscure guard duty, though nobody has explained to them what they’re guarding. The tension mounts from the Imperial side, while we get some glimpses into the activities of the Cult and their kindred followers, until it all boils over with the emergence of the Primus war-leader. The colonel of the Black Flags is almost seduced by the Magus, but in so-doing he learns of the existence and location of the Spiral Father, and launches an assault with his ogryn bodyguard while the on-world Inquisition presence also launches its assault. Despite the carnage of the assault, three of the purestrains manage to escape Redemption for deep space…

Also included in here is Cast a Hungry Shadow, a short story that takes place within the narrative of the novel, dealing with the early years of the genestealer infestation and filling in some blanks around the betrayal of the Sisters. There are some interesting threads in the story, which felt a little confused towards the end, but ultimately it is the tale of the cult securing their hold on Redemption, the discovery of an untrained psyker hiding beneath one of the spires who is taken in by the genestealers to birth their Magus. There are some interesting scenes in the story, particularly involving another cult, called the Scorched Creed, which may or may not be a Chaos Cult dedicated to Khorne.  

I do think that Cult of the Spiral Dawn is one of my favourite 40k novels. I hadn’t really realised that I’d read it before – I mean, I knew that I’d read the Legends hardcover, but I didn’t remember which one that book was. It’s a really good story – some of it could perhaps do with a bit more meat for the bones, and help to further the atmosphere, but it’s still a really good story. It’s also my first exposure to Peter Fehervari’s Dark Coil … series? I’m not sure if you could call it that, but all of the 40k stories that he has written are linked in subtle ways, either with shared characters or worlds, etc. It’s an incredibly interesting way to write in a shared universe and carve out a niche without limiting yourself to staying in a random corner. The links in this book to the Fire and Ice novella, for example, give the sense of history without feeling forced, if that makes sense. It’s really good, anyway – I like it a lot! And will no doubt be investigating more of these stories in the not-too-distant future!

September Retrospective

Hey everybody,
Well, we are three-quarters of the way through 2021 now, and it seems pretty crazy to think that I wrote my January retrospective blog as potentially a one-off to cover all the random rubbish I’d been doing at the start of it all. It’s actually been a really great motivator, for me, to have these retrospective blogs now form a part of my monthly pattern, because it makes me want to do stuff to then report on at the end of the month. At any rate, September has been fairly busy for me, as I’ve had a couple of weeks off work that have enabled quite a bit of recreation – if you can call looking after two children under 2 “recreation”!

To start with, September is the month that I traditionally think of as my hobby month, as I have a lot of fond memories of really getting into the 40k thing way back when during this month. As such, I’ve tried to really recapture that essence, as far as the paternal duties would allow, and ended up with a fair few random projects on the go!

Let’s talk about my Zone Mortalis terrain progress first! I’m very pleased with this, and I think it’s all coming together really quite beautifully! I talked about the colour scheme that I’m using last month, so won’t go over that again here, but I’ve now expanded my repertoire into other bits like ladders and water tanks! The ladder was just painted Averland Sunset, shaded Agrax Earthshade, then drybrushed like everything else to give it that worn, lived-in look. The tank I’d wanted to paint orange, as I think it makes sense to have it follow the same pattern as the Water Guild big boy, but in the end it turned out more red. No matter, other tanks I’m thinking about painting different colours, anyway, so it’s not like it’s important to remember their colours. I’m very excited to get more terrain painted up – whether I end up getting more done by the end of the year, who can say, but to have any of it painted so far is, frankly, a miracle!

I’ve been doing odd bits with genestealers and have recently finished the Necron Triarch Praetorians, but my main focus has shifted to the Genestealer Cults, as I have decided that I really want to get some of these things painted up, finally! I’ve been working on ten Neophyte Hybrids this month, and slowly but steadily I have almost got the squad finished – a huge achievement, considering the amount of detail on them! They’re tiny, and the scheme that I’m following doesn’t allow for speed painting when it comes to these chaps – the armour, the fatigues, the cloth, the padding, the weapons, the skin (actual skin, and carapace), the dangly-doodads, it’s all just so time consuming!

But I think I’m really getting somewhere now, having finished the first of my ten-man squad, and I’m ready to move on to my next project in the list! Since writing the linked blog, however, I’ve reorganised all of my Cultist miniatures, and have a different ten-man squad make-up, so there are ten more shotguns coming my way soon! Once all the Neophytes are done, though, I should have a fairly straightforward task of finishing off the Metamorphs and the Truck, so I think I can definitely get this first part of the list painted up and ready by Christmas. Ready for what, precisely, I’m not yet sure, but still – it’ll be ready!

I’ve been generally immersing myself in 40k across the month, anyway, and have been enjoying myself immensely. I finally picked up the Drukhari Codex as well, and have been investigating that to build my first proper list for that army in 9th edition. I think Necrons are still edging out the Dark Eldar in my affections for 9th edition, though I am definitely looking forward to playing both armies when the time comes. I’m at that point in the year where I’m now thinking about what I can accomplish prior to the year-end, and in addition to the GSC, I’ve got 5 Wracks and 3 Grotesques on my radar. Though everything is a time-sink, so we’ll have to see how things pan out!

GenCon surprised me this month by, well, taking place! I always thought it was August, but I guess the pandemic has been causing chaos. There hasn’t been a great deal of anything that is exciting me, if truth be told, but I think that could be symptomatic of my relationship with the whole board game scene right now. I wrote a very long ramble about that yesterday, but basically I feel like Kickstarter games have been taking over somewhat, and I’m increasingly disappointed in how FFG have diminished over the years. GW have put in a decent showing at GenCon, announcing a few exciting projects that has my wallet in palpitations.

I do feel like I have been quite gloomy on the board game front, but it’s not really the case! I’m hoping to get in a game day with my buddy Tony some time in October, and I also have plans to once again check out the Hellboy board game, after thinking on that one quite a bit of late, also. So there should be some interesting bits and pieces coming to the blog in the coming weeks! I’ve also finally been able to pick up In Too Deep for the Arkham Horror LCG, so I am thinking about an Innsmouth campaign for the autumn – assuming that I have the time, of course!

All in all, it hasn’t been that bad a month – fingers crossed that I can keep up the pace into the final quarter!

Gen Con 2021

This one surprised me a little, I must be honest, but GenCon is being held in September this year? I always thought it was an August thing, but what do I know? The best four days in gaming must be a bit strange this year, although the main thing is that it’s back!

Let’s start with Fantasy Flight, whose In-Flight Report used to be the highlight of the weekend for me. Remember the days when they’d announce something spectacular, like Android Netrunner, and then they’d have limited stock to purchase during the convention? Here in 2021, it feels distinctly lacklustre, somehow, like there isn’t a great deal to be excited about. For sure, we have the long-awaited expansion for Outer Rim, which I know fans of that game will be excited by (I can’t believe I haven’t yet looked into that one, but then I guess my priorities have shifted lately!) There are a few games, like Keyforge and Marvel Champions, which I don’t play, so the only thing for me to come out of this announcement was the revised/consolidated Lord of the Rings LCG core set that is due, which will support 4 players out of the gate, and the promise of re-packaging complete cycles in a similar fashion to Arkham Horror LCG. And speaking of that game, they’ve also announced that they’ll be re-packaging earlier cycles to support collectors who have only now got into the game, starting with The Dunwich Legacy.

I thought it was interesting, though, reading some of the comments on FFG’s own facebook post about this, and seeing my own thoughts echoed. I used to be such a fanboy for FFG, but it seems that since they sold to Asmodee (well, for me I think the death-knell was the loss of the Warhammer licence) they’ve lost a lot of the creativity that I used to love. I mean, I used to go through their catalogue and just buy stuff to try it, on the basis that the company was top-notch. Now, I’m pretty much only buying Arkham games, and even then I’m not buying them all… But anyway, enough introspection!

Games Workshop are also at GenCon, and have announced a lot of interesting Kill Team stuff! The new warzone box, Chalnath, is due for release at some point, and does indeed feature T’au vs Sisters of Battle. The T’au Pathfinders kit will have an upgrade sprue, while the Sisters are a new unit, designed specifically for Kill Team. This is pretty much what has been speculated, and the fact that a new Sisters kit is coming out that looks so varied and stuff I think is proof that they want the Kill Team range to be its own thing. Of course, I imagine there will be 40k rules to follow, but it’s exciting. Pathfinders are a pretty full kit anyway, so adding in an upgrade sprue is a move that I can entirely understand – there are maybe only a handful of kits they can do this with, but it does make sense, rather than producing new kits all the time. The scenery is that from the first Kill Team box in 2018, so I’m thinking I might forego this one, in the hope that I can get the campaign book as well as the new miniatures separately. Otherwise, I could see myself with a second set of Sector Imperialis terrain!!

The new Sisters models do look very interesting though, and I like the idea of having a very customisable, essentially Sisters Scouts squad.

An actual Kill Team starter set is also due for release, as well as the Kommandos and Death Korps models coming out separately. This box won’t have the big buildings, just the barricades etc, but I think that’s a great idea because launching a new system with a limited edition box really does irritate me. At least now it looks like something that people can be excited for, rather than disappointed by.

We’ve also got our first look at Season Five of Warhammer Underworlds: Harrowdeep. This one sounds pretty good, and comes with the expected Stormcast vs Kruleboyz, so I’m excited for this one. I’m also wondering at what kinds of warbands we’ll see as the season gets underway – though I still haven’t picked up a couple of the s4 warbands that I’ve had my eye on… I need to get on that…

Well, the Necromunda news didn’t disappoint! This was unexpected, Outcasts are the new gang, coming with their own book that promises to be something of a treasure trove of Underhive junk that I for one cannot wait to see. The minis look like a great bunch of generic gangers, a nice addition of general 40k humans that, up to now, we’ve only had Cultists to represent. And the terrain is just astonishing! Who knew we needed a market stall like this?! I’m looking forward to getting to grips with these bits and pieces, should be great to fill out a more open area on the table without it feeling too crowded. Interesting stuff, at any rate – and I’m particularly pleased that all of this is coming out separately, it seems, and not tied into a big-box release. I’m already saving for the new Kill Team, after all!

I’m not all that impressed with the big Warcry announcement though, mainly because it wasn’t really an announcement but just a tease. Hm. I’m guessing some kind of drider-like creatures, new stuff for the setting as a whole rather than simply Spiderfang Grots, because otherwise why make such a fuss? Hm.

Codex: Drukhari

Hey everybody,
I have finally got my hands on the Drukhari Codex for 9th edition! It feels like it’s been an age, though I suppose not playing games has meant there has been very little need for it. But with potential games on the horizon, I think it is time to start looking at my largest model collection to see how I can work things in the new edition. (I keep saying “new”, even though it’s been out well over twelve months now, simply because I haven’t had a chance to play properly yet!)

Oh my goodness, this book is complex!

I mean, when you sit down to properly read through, it’s fine, but when you first pick it up and take a look at the battle-forged rules, my goodness it’s wordy! I think this is really symptomatic of the new edition, because they have tried to make a rule set that is clear for organised play, it becomes very litigious, rather than reading like the rules to a game. True, that game is complex, but I thought 8th edition was a great big sigh of relief after the overly-fussy 7th edition, and while we haven’t gone back that far, it does need you to sit down and get your head around it to properly take it all in!

The Drukhari Codex is still split into three separate factions – Kabal, Coven and Cult – but when I first came to read up on how the army works now, it felt like some drastic changes had occurred! Not so, just a tidying-up of the rules, I suppose. Upon reflection, the way these rules are presented is actually quite neat, as well. The relics, stratagems and warlord traits unique to specific Obsessions are now grouped together on a single page each, rather than having a page of traits, a page of stratagems, etc. It does help to make things feel somehow more cohesive, once you realise that’s what they’ve done in the book.

To start with, you can still do the three Patrol detachment thing, and the cost for doing so is 0CP. There is a new Realspace Raid detachment rule, which gives a new keyword to the units that allows for a greater cohesion across the army, even though you’ve mixed in all three factions. The only stipulation is that the Archon must be the Warlord, but that’s a flavour win so I can’t see why you wouldn’t.

Something I really like is that you can upgrade each of the faction HQs to a Master – Master Archon, Master Succubus, Master Haemonculus – for a few extra points. This unlocks relics and warlord traits for them, as well as giving a new ability, and excitingly, it also unlocks “favoured retinues”, which allows you to upgrade Kabalite Warriors to Trueborn (for the Archon), Wyches to Hekatrix Bloodbrides (for the Succubus), and Wracks to Haemoxytes (for the Haemonculus). These retinue units have better stat lines and a special ability, but they don’t get access to more special weapons as was the case in 7th edition, so no Blasterborn or any similar shenanigans! I’m kinda fascinated by the Haemoxytes though, as they’re a new idea to me!

So the exciting thing now is that you can make a mixed force and call it a Realspace Raid, provided that you have the three separate HQs and a unit each of the basic troops, and the Archon is your Warlord. They even give you a two-page spread example of how a Battalion detachment might look in this instance, to further hammer the point home. A minimum-sized points investment for doing this would be 335 points, after which you’re free to fill up the army however you want. Doing this means that all the Kabal units still gain Kabal Obsessions, and so on, so it’s really quite a useful way of building an army, so long as you’re playing a points limit that can accommodate that initial outlay.

As far as army-wide rules go, Power from Pain and Combat Drugs are still a thing, Insensible to Pain is there, and Poisoned Weapons haven’t changed since the last edition, either. A new rule, Blade Artists, seems to be pretty much across the whole force, and improves AP by 1 for melee weapons on an unmodified 6, which is quite nice! Especially as there are a lot of weapons with AP in the melee list, from the start!

So let’s get down to business, and see what kind of list I have put together…

I’m currently just aiming for 1500 points, and the main theme behind this list is getting to grips with 9th Edition! I know that I should be thinking a bit more critically about some things, and protecting stuff like the Incubi and the Wyches more with transports, but I think that will come with 2000 points. I still like to have a core Kabal in there, which is why I’ve gone for two lots of Kabalite Warriors with Raiders. A hugely exciting development is that the transport capacity for Raiders and Venoms has been upped to 11 and 6, respectively, meaning that HQs can travel with their troops now! So the Archon and Haemonculus will each be in a Raider and Venom, respectively, with a bodyguard type of unit, leaving the poor Incubi, Wyches and Succubus to foot-slog up the board. But I’m thinking that the melee units could potentially be kept back for objective-sitting, with the flying stuff causing chaos elsewhere.

Splinter racks have changed now, so they no longer give exploding 6s but instead allow rapid fire weapons to treat the target as being within half-range, so I’m not 100% sure on keeping them as an auto-include now, but I think – as with a lot of this list – I want to play with these things, to see how it works out. I’ve also put grisly trophies on all my vehicles, as they give -2 leadership to enemy models within 3″, and I’m thinking about using the No Mercy, No Respite secondary objective, which gives VPs for each model that flees the battle each round. I’ve not previously leaned into the fear aspect of the Drukhari, but it’s something I think might be nice to look into, now that there is such a tasty objective on offer there!

Of all the Cult units, I think Reavers are the ones I’ve used most often, and have enjoyed most consistently. I think I can see them being quite deadly in the game, as well, with 10 attacks from the unit, the grav-talon to dish out mortal wounds on the charge, but also the firepower they can boast before close combat. They all have pistols to shoot while in combat as well, and I’ve given them the +1 Toughness drug, so any retaliation will come at T5, which can be quite difficult!

Scourges are a unit that I only really started to appreciate towards the end of 8th edition, mainly because of the possibility of having 4 splinter cannons dropping down from the sky on top of people. Splinter cannons have changed now, from Rapid Fire 3 to Heavy 3, so they aren’t necessarily as good as they once were. That said, again I would like to play with them first, and get a feel for how things work in the new edition before dropping them. I do feel like I might be going for fewer specialised weapons in my lists, going forward!

So there we have it, anyway, my first Drukhari list of 9th edition. I’m hoping that I can actually get to play in another couple of weeks, albeit I’m not sure if a 1500 point game would be on the cards quite yet! But you never know. Hopefully soon, I’ll be talking about how this list performed on the tabletop, anyway!

Back to the Cult

Hey everybody,
After my rambling talk about the Tyranids last month, I have naturally veered off into the Genestealer Cults once again! Typical, huh? However, I’m hoping that this is going to be something a little bit different. I know, I’ve been here before, talking about projects and never getting anywhere with any of them! But hear me out, it’s not about to be another blog where I over-commit to stuff and end up with virtual egg on my face.

I love the Genestealer Cults – the lore is fantastic, and some of my favourite in the whole 40k universe. The models are amazing, and I’ve talked many times about how the Neophyte Hybrids are the best-looking troops in the entire line.

I want to take it slow, though. All too often, I’ve had thoughts about building an army, starting with just a small force, then adding on from there, but then before I even put brush to plastic, I’m planning the next stage, and the next one, and it becomes a nonsense! I’ve done this with Chaos and, to a lesser extent, Sisters. I know that life is different for me now, but I do sometimes think back to the glory days of 7th edition, when I just bought a Dark Eldar army and, pretty much in 6-7 months had the majority of it fully painted! I’ve churned out many a list for the Cult, but still haven’t really gotten anywhere with the army – so it’s time for that to change!

I’ve got so many models for this army, and have been faffing about with them for what feels like centuries now, after all. So after some rumination for a while, I’ve decided that I need to get my finger out and actually finish off some of these miniatures. I have given it all some thought, anyway, and have come up with a 500-point list (of 9th edition points) using the miniatures that I already have built and ready – and in some cases, almost finished. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to start things off with 500 points, but I’m a lot more hopeful this time! In theory, at least, it should be a fully-functioning list for Combat Patrol, the 500-point format, while also providing a useful core from which to build out further. Because of course I’m going to be going huge with these guys!

The thing with this army, of course, is how cheap some of the stuff is, which turns things into a bit of a horde feel, hence why I’ve amassed so many of them! But with such detailed models, it does end up scaring me a little. I mean, 60 Neophytes must be a delight to see finished on the tabletop, but getting there – jeez!

The Primus is my current warlord, the trait giving the enemy -1 to hit on shooting attacks against him, and the relic allowing him to do mortal wounds at the end of the charge (plus a 4+ invuln!) I say ‘current’ because I really want to have a Patriarch at the heart of this army and, under the current rules at least, the Patriarch must be the warlord when he’s included.

I’ve talked before about my dreams of having a Hybrid Metamorph bomb go off, and I’ve got the beginnings of this here, with the five guys plus the Primus. I’m giving them the Goliath Truck, rather than including the Magus for psychic stuff, to help deliver them into combat. My one and only game with the army, back between lockdowns in July 2020, saw me mess up the sequencing with them and it really didn’t come to pass, because they were shot off the board before anything could really happen. Not this time, though! Of course, I’m still largely working with models that I built before I really knew what I wanted from them, back when 7th edition was still a thing, so I might yet revisit them and change things up. But that could well be a task for when the Codex drops.

My main preoccupation here is going to be the Neophytes, I think. They’re just such good looking models, I really want to try and nail these troops so that I have a nice workable backbone for the army. I’m actually considering massive units of 20 models when the time comes for some big games, but I suppose we’ll see. They’re one of my favourite units though, visually, and so I definitely want to use them in the force.

The list, then, consists of 32 models (32 models in a 500-point match sounds like a lot, but they’re really quite poor in terms of survivability, remember, everything has a 5+ save and toughness 3, so it’s not like I’m going with an elite force here! My plan is simply to make sure I get this list finished before the New Year. I’m not saying I need to focus solely on these guys, particularly as I have a few other bits and pieces that I’m currently working on, but I’m kinda throwing everything else out the window now, so long as I finish these models I’m gonna be happy. I can still paint some Necrons, some terrain etc, but I want to get these guys done. Then I might look at painting up the next chunk by Easter, and on it goes!

At several points, I’ve mentioned expanding the force. Now, I think my problem in the past has always been to write out a full 1500 point list, or whatever, and because everything is so cheap, I end up looking down the barrel of about 100 models to paint, and it just turns me off. If ever there was an army designed for the slow-grow, this was surely it! But I hope that by taking it in slow chunks, I can actually stand a chance of getting it finished! But I’m not going to focus on them to the exclusion of all else, either, in the hope of keeping the project fresh for me – because even taking it in chunks, there’s a lot of models to paint!!

I’m not abandoning my Tyranids either, and fully intend to carry on painting those chaps along the way! I think, at the minute, I’m happy to just bumble along and paint up what I can, I’m not trying to rush and get my bugs finished as well. The Cultists have been languishing for so long though, they really do need some love.

And the lore is just so damn good, too, you know? I might have to do another blog about that soon…

August Retrospective

Hey everybody,

August has been and gone, and it’s time to look forward to an autumn with the hobby, usually! Hopefully there won’t be anymore lockdowns happening of course, though with a 10-week old baby to look after, I’m not exactly sure how much I’ll get to do! She’s been quite poorly of late, as well, which hasn’t been much fun for anyone. Fingers crossed for a much more exciting September, anyway!

I’ve found myself in a curious place, lately, where I’ve not really been in the mood to read. Part of this is, I’m sure, because I find it awkward to hold the smaller person and also a book, so have spent a lot of the summer just not reading anything. However, this month I picked up The Rising Storm, the second book in the High Republic series. Well, it’s the second book in the ‘adult’ series; there are YA and junior books in the mix, as well as comics and now audio dramas, but I don’t have the energy to keep up with it all, if I’m honest. The Rising Storm has, so far, been pretty good – there’s definitely the feeling that I’m in the middle of a series (I believe this is only a trilogy, though I could be mistaken), but even so, I’m about 150pp in, and I’m enjoying it!

I’m in a Facebook group for Star Wars novels, and I kinda feel like I should just come out of it, as the opinions in there seem to be wild and I don’t know that I really get all that much out of it. I mean, a lot of the time, if I’ve spoken of my distaste for anything (the Darth Bane trilogy, in particular, sticks out here), it’s almost like a red flag to be lynched, or something. I dunno, anyway, but the latest High Republic book seems to be getting panned in the group, and I’m just a bit down on them all!

I haven’t mentioned the Arkham Horror LCG for a while, as I haven’t been able to play it since I ran through the Return to Night of the Zealot a few months ago, but after trundling on down to my local game store last week, I’ve been able to order a copy of In Too Deep, and have also discovered that the first part of the Edge of the Earth expansion is due imminently, giving us the investigator cards. So that’s all exciting stuff, especially as I’ll finally have the Innsmouth campaign in its entirety!

I think I’m going to save the box for later in the year, anyway. I’m in no rush to play with the new cards, as I have a ton of cards I’ve still never used, after all, so it would make a nice birthday/Christmas present!

This month seems to have been about Warcry in a big way, though. I wrote up a long and rambling post earlier in the month, talking about what I like about it, and where it could be going etc, as well as another post commenting on the downloadable content GW have put out, with a dash of speculation on the future of the game, after the hints of there being exciting news on the horizon. In the middle of these, I also took a look at the Tome of Champions 2020, which had an awesome narrative campaign included. The more that I’ve dived in to Warcry, the more impressed I am with the breadth of content available. I mean, all that free stuff on the Warhammer Community site looks fantastic, and the work that must go into those Tomes is phenomenal. If Necromunda wasn’t a thing, this could be the best!

I’m very pleased to say that I’m almost finished painting the Unmade now – I was hoping to have finished the whole warband, but there are maybe 2 models still to paint the metals. I think I’ve managed to do quite well with the tasteful blood spatter and so on, and I’m very pleased with how the bases are a good match for the main board in Warcry – the old Lustrian Undergrowth texture paint, which I bought a load of back in the day, drybrushed with Administratum Grey. Very effective, in my opinion!

Oh, and I’ve also been building up the Catacombs stuff! I’ve built up the dungeon terrain, and the Scions of the Flame warband, and have had an abortive game with it. I wasn’t entirely excited by it all, if I’m honest, but I want to have a full game with it before I form a proper opinion of it all. Stay tuned for that, of course!

In addition to Warcry though, it’s also been all about the new Kill Team!

This is especially true of the bank holiday weekend, when I finally picked the box up and had the opportunity to get some of it built. Who knows when I’ll be able to actually do anything more with it, of course! I’m going to try and take the opportunity to keep building it up though, and see how far I can get with actually painting it all up, as well. So far, 10 Death Korps of Krieg models have been built, and they look beautiful!

For a long time during the month, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it – the price, more than anything, had me wondering if I wouldn’t be better-off using my money on stuff I already play and enjoy etc, rather than buying into yet another game from GW. In the event, my initial thoughts of it being pretty much a board game have won out and I took the plunge, as I have no plans to start an Imperial Guard or Ork army! I am going to keep this as a boxed game, I think, though of course I’ll probably end up buying some add-ons as and when!

The subject of add-ons is an interesting one, of course, because I do find myself idly wondering where they’re going to go from here, specifically. We know we’re getting new Kill Zones per quarter, but does each quarter simply have a new big box and then some articles in White Dwarf? Or can we expect an expansion-type deal in a month or so, where we get Elites or Commanders? Death Korps Commissar, be still my heart! I firmly believe that we’ll see an expansion with more regular 40k models from here on out, and while initially I’d thought we could be seeing new units for existing armies, as the initial rumours seemed to suggest we’d be getting a new Sisters unit for the rumoured Sisters vs Tau box, I’m now thinking that we will most likely be getting re-packs with, perhaps, an upgrade frame. This is basically how the Krieg models work – the two main A sprues are the 10 infantrymen, with the B upgrade sprue having specific fancy parts. There are still fancy parts on A, but stuff like the medic on B is a lot more involved than the medic on A, if you see what I mean. So I could see a box of 10 Sisters being packed along with an upgrade frame to give access to more weapons (though the Sisters, being dual-purpose with Dominions and Celestians, already have a good breadth of bits available to them). There are quite a few kits that exist in the 40k range that would very easily port over, and if they were to just throw in some Sector Imperialis sprues as well, you’d quite easily have the bulk of a new box, right there.

It’s not all been about skirmish games though! I’ve started to think about my Tyranids again, and have been planning up my next steps to getting that army up to scratch. I’ve mainly been trying to recapture my paint scheme, because I didn’t make a note of it anywhere (like a fool!) I think I’ve been able to deduce that I used Death World Forest for the green, and I think Straken Green might be involved as a highlight; the carapace is definitely Rakarth Flesh, shaded with Agrax Earthshade, and highlighted with Ushabti Bone (and possibly Screaming Skull). I’m working on some genestealers while I recover the scheme, anyway, though I’ve seen online a potentially easier way of doing this with Contrasts, which might work for the gaunts, so I want to try that at some point.

I’ve been painting some of the walls from the Dark Uprising set for Necromunda, as well, and I’m really pleased with the results! This is a fairly quick scheme that I’ve seen on a facebook group a couple of months ago. Spray the model with Mechanicus Standard Grey, then paint the inner arch bits with Tallarn Sand. Shade the whole thing with Agrax Earthshade, then drybrush Dawnstone and Deepkin Flesh, and that’s basically it! The details will obviously vary, but for the metalwork I’ve been painting the silver Leadbelcher, and the copper Castellax Bronze, all shaded with both Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade. It’s intentionally patchy and crappy, because I’m trying to make it look gross! I’ve then gone in and dabbed some Dryad Bark along the bottom as kicked-up dirt, and in places (though it isn’t always apparent) I’ve put some Athonian Camoshade to simulate moss/mould. It does work better on a lighter stone, but never mind. As a base, I’m quite pleased, but there’s always room for improvement and adding in some details, but for now it’s definitely good to see the walls coming together! I’m looking forward to getting more of the zone mortalis structures painted, the stairs and things, and seeing the whole hive come together!

As I said up at the top, September is very much a hobby-focused month for me, as I harken back to the good old days when I was first discovering 40k in a big way, so I’m excited to see what I could possibly accomplish on that front – here’s hoping next month’s retrospective blog will be choc full of good stuff!

Kill Team 2021

Hey everybody,

After a weekend devoted to attempting to understand the rules for the new version of Warhammer 40k: Kill Team that just came out, I thought I’d ramble for a bit on the blog here, with some thoughts and first impressions. I haven’t played any games yet – hell, I’ve barely had time to start building models – so all of this is just my rambling conjecture, really!

I think it’s important to note, first of all, that this game is a completely different and new iteration of Kill Team, and one that does not form a low bar of entry into regular 40k. It is its own game system, and I think it’s much better for it. Sure, I got confused as much as anyone when I first picked this up, but I’m getting my head wrapped around it now, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

I think one of the biggest changes comes from how you build your team. Points have all gone, and instead your faction choice dictates pretty much your roster. It’s not as straightforward as all that, but it is still very prescriptive. I don’t have the Compendium that has been released, to allow for all the “regular” unit choices from 40k to be played here, but I understand that, broadly speaking, each faction has a set number of “fire teams”, which are built from specific models, and you can’t simply throw together a team based on a whim. For example, it seems to be the case that Necron Warriors and Immortals aren’t on the same fire team anymore, so potentially won’t be in the same game.

That said, the campaign book that was released in the box has the rules for Death Korps and Kommandos – and these rules are both interesting and involved! For Death Korps, you get to build a single team of 10 guys, but can pick from a long list of role types. You get a plethora of additional rules to make use of. Which is a bit overwhelming at first, especially as you’ll need to get to grips with it all before you start. It just serves to illustrate how the Compendium is the Index of this game, and I suppose the promise of lots more boxes as the game develops makes sense, now!

I’ve surprised myself by getting a complete Krieg team built this weekend! I’m going purely for the rule of cool on these chaps, fully in the knowledge that I want to pick up another box when they’re released separately. I’ll probably build a couple more special ones, but I really like the look of these as basic troops, and it kinda fits the narrative in my head of having less of a ‘special’ squad with fancy weapons, rather just having a regular team that has been thrown into this situation of clearing out an Ork infestation.

The rules, as stated earlier, are very different to previous iterations, and from regular 40k, too. There are three parts to each turn (which itself is called a Turning Point), of which there are four per game. The initiative phase is where initiative is decided, oddly enough, then the strategy phase acts much like 40k’s command phase, where you get your command points and can play strategic ploys – one of two types of ploy, the other being tactical ones. These are basically stratagems from 40k, and each team has a suite of them that they can use. During the strategy phase, you also get to reveal TacOps – secondary objectives – which score you additional victory points outside of the scope of the mission being played.

Lastly, there is the firefight phase, where the actual model stuff happens! There are 9 different actions available to models, which have limits on how many actions they can take. The Krieg guys all have 2 action points to spend, and stuff like move, shoot, pick up and fight all costs one action point. Very nice.

Movement is still measured in inches, but there is a symbol-based system that has been the subject of much debate online, so I’m not going to go heavily into it here. I do kinda like the way having this symbol-based thing can be used, as you move in straight-line increments of whatever your move value is – 3⚪️ is 6”, but you move in blocks of 2”. There’s a nuance there that comes from playing, I imagine.

Combat is very interesting, especially hand-to-hand combat. Basically, both fighters roll together, and the defender can try to parry the successful hits from the attacker, simulating real-time combat in a way that I’ve not seen in games before. Very interesting, indeed!!

As normal for GW games, there are the three ways to play, with narrative play seeming to get the best deal here. Referred to as Spec Ops, there are rules for specialists that we had in the last version of the game, although the talent tree style has been replaced with a battle honours system that basically nets the operative more rules from a list of six available within that specialism. It’s perfectly serviceable, though does lack that sense of progression the old system had. The exciting thing here, though, is that you have rules to create your own HQ! The meat and potatoes of the narrative style is the Spec Ops themselves, though – ten missions, for want of a better term, that give you a structure to what your kill team is trying to achieve. Each one has two objectives, which must be completed in order – but that’s not to say you only have to play a pair of games! The first one objective of each requires you to play five games and score victory points from accomplishing certain things. It’s similar to Warcry, in that you’re trying to tell your own story through your narrative, and you aren’t tied in to a group or anything.

The Octarius book builds on this by providing a whole bunch of faction-specific rules, including unique Spec Ops for those teams to complete. It seems very much that this edition of Kill Team is aimed at the narrative end, although you can of course play matched play games if you want – I’m just not sure how much fun they’d be.

Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this version of Kill Team. It isn’t tied to the main 40k system anymore, which seems like it might outlast 9th edition. I know a lot of people are a little salty that it no longer provides a gateway into 40k, but that’s kinda the point now. Kill Team is its own thing, and will usher in fans via the models and the overall grim dark world and theme, but Combat Patrol is now clearly the way forward for small-scale 40k. Kill Team is its own game, one that looks like it will have its own model range that can almost coincidentally be used in main-line 40k.

Should be really interesting to watch this one as time goes on.

New Kill Team unpacked

It’s here! It’s pretty fantastic too, I must say! Daddy duties have kept me from immediately tearing into the box, and building up these new models, but from looking through the sprues, this box is just awesome. Both kill teams look utterly stunning, the level of detail on each team really is off the charts. The plastic Death Korps look every bit as detailed as the Forge World resin originals, and out of everything in here, these are the guys that I’m looking forward to the most. But even the Orks look pretty damn good, and that’s coming from me as someone who has never wanted to build or paint an Ork model in my life! The terrain does look a bit chunky, and a bit flat, but it’s still highly detailed and full of character. Very impressive!

I’ve been flicking through the books, and it feels like there’s a lot to take in, probably because it’s such a departure from what I’m used to with 40k, etc. I am a big fan, anyway, and I’m really excited to see how this game is supported, going forward. That sounds like I’m forever looking to the next big thing, and you might wonder just why I don’t take the time to appreciate and explore the current release! Well, I fully intend to, don’t you worry! I suppose it’s more idle curiosity, given that we know GW intend to put out new sets once a quarter. Is there anything else coming for Octarius? Or is it literally just four big boxes like this per year? I am intrigued! 🤔

Quarterly releases feel a bit like the schedule might get rushed. I mean, it could take me three months just to build everything in this box! I think I’d rather a slower pace, but if this box is it, and there’s no expansion for, say, Death Korps Commissars to come out next month, then at least we know what we’re dealing with.

The box has a campaign book, in which we find the rules for the fighters included here. I believe that the sprues included in the box have all of the parts to allow you to assemble a single kill team of each faction, although I could totally see myself buying a second box – indeed, Death Korps teams can consist of a leader and either 9 regular troopers or 9 fancy specialists, or a mix thereof. With a roster having a maximum of 20 operatives from which to draw your team, it kinda makes sense to me to build up two boxes’ worth and get every configuration. Smart move, GW!

The model rules coming in the campaign book is very interesting to me, because I feel like future sets might be smaller, for instance sold without the terrain. I suppose big boxes are a big part of their sales model right now, though, so I am likely to be priced out of this game soon enough! I thought the original Kill Team model of expansion was a brilliant way to sell the game, but this time they definitely seem to be veering more down the notion of bespoke teams, with those ‘compendium kill teams’ appearing almost bland by comparison. Rumours are already swirling about the next box being a new Sisters unit vs Tau Pathfinders, with an upgrade sprue for the latter to, presumably, allow for multiple weapon options. Interesting notion, for sure, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m beginning to sound a bit down on the whole thing, though, and that’s really not my intention. I am very much looking forward to getting my teeth stuck in to the new Kill Team, so stay tuned as I hopefully learn the ropes and – who knows? – get to try out the new edition!!