Saturday catch-up!

Hey everybody!
I’m feeling the need to have a bit of a catch up here on the last day of August, as we start to look down the barrel of Autumn and all of the attendant loveliness that can bring! I usually like to spend my time painting miniatures at this time of year, and often look into playing more board games now that the nights are drawing out, and whatnot!

Yesterday, I had a wonderful game of 40k round at my buddy JP’s house. We’ve played at the local GW a handful of times, and it’s been a blast, so it was nice to have a more relaxed game in the domestic setting, and all! We’ve been incrementally increasing the size of our games, as well, and had gotten to 1250 points by this latest bout, though obviously with the various upgrades he’d gone up to 1300ish, so I added in an additional scarab swarm to bring mine up a bit more.

Maelstrom of War is a format that not a lot of people seem to enjoy at my local store, but is something that I just intrinsically associate with 40k due to the amount of battle reports I’d listen to while painting miniatures back in the early days of my hobby – I think I had the idea that I’d listen to batreps and hope to absorb the rules that way! As such, phrases like “defend objective 3”, “big game hunter” and “priority orders received” are deep-rooted in my association with the hobby, so playing these games is almost like some kind of nostalgia trip for me!

I’ve been playing the core of this list now for what feels like forever, but with the ability to go bigger, it has seen some quite interesting additions made! To start with, Illuminor Szeras is a great support character, though one that really needs to be deployed well to get maximum benefit. We only played two rounds, but I didn’t have a target for Mechanical Augmentation at the start of round two, so couldn’t do anything with him again.

For the first time ever, I was playing Necron Warriors in my list, and while I wasn’t exactly impressed with their performance, I think I can see some real advantages to having big blobs of cheaper troops hanging about the place. At the start of turn one, I used Veil of Darkness to redeploy the CCB and the Warriors, which both helped me secure one of my tactical objective cards, and also bring the Warriors closer to the enemy lines and get some shooting in right there and then.

I had used Wraiths in my last game, but had fallen into the trap of camping an objective and therefore lost a lot of the point of the unit. This time around, with the help of the stratagem that allows them to advance and charge, I managed to get right up to the enemy backline by the end of my second turn, and the fact those guys are just so damn deadly in close combat meant that, despite losing one in Overwatch, I was still able to Slay the Warlord, and secure another of my tactical objectives!

I think I’ll be using Wraiths a lot more, and I think I’ll stop paying the points for those guns…

Definitely time I got some more paint on these guys! Between the Wraiths making that impressive cross-the-board sweep, and those Scarabs sweeping from Objective to Objective, they were incredibly useful.

Less useful were the Tomb Blades, I’m sad to say! They’re wonderful models, but they just didn’t seem to be of much use to me, if I’m honest. I’m not going to give up on them, for sure, as I’m positive that I can figure something out for them, but I had expected more from the unit…

JP’s army consisted of a Daemon Prince, Dark Apostle, three units of ten Chaos Marines, a Predator, a Rhino, five Terminators and ten Bloodletters. I think there was some hope to get some Havocs into play as well, but sadly not enough time to build them. It’s a list that felt quite familiar to me, as it is similar to mine in that we’re building up from a core battalion, but it really felt a little bit off this time in that I seemed to have so many more units on the table. I suppose that’s the simple beauty of the Necron army – you don’t get the opportunity, by and large, to upgrade your units with fancy weaponry, so instead just have quite basic squads, but the points are somewhat proportionate, and so I could afford to throw in an additional Outrider Detachment here, and get the additional CP as a result.

We played Disruptive Signals, one of the missions in Chapter Approved 2018 that removes six of your tactical objectives from the deck, then gives both players the chance for 1CP to prevent their opponent from achieving one of their objectives that turn. Neither of us used that, I think mainly due to forgetting about it, and while I suppose removing the six is meant to be some sort of hampering mechanism, it only really served me well in that I was able to remove those cards that I had no hope of achieving!


I’d had to make notes on the front of my list print-out, as I was determined to not forget any of my special rules and get the sequencing right. As it happened, I didn’t miss any Reanimation Protocols, which was handy! Although I lost very few models with the rule, which was also handy! I only got to use Wave of Command once, as I then jumped the CCB up the field with Veil of Darkness, only to then see the model (my Warlord, no less!) promptly annihilated in JP’s first turn! Oh, hubris…

However, the cards were with me, the dice were with me for the first time in what feels like a long time, and I was even getting an average of 3 rolls of 6 on my tesla shots, which was just unprecedented! I managed to score two of my tactical objectives in my first turn (secure objective 3, secure objective 6), and then three more in my second turn (secure objective 2, kingslayer, and behind enemy lines), plus getting Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker and First Strike.

We ended the game at the end of the second round, because it was 0:20 and we’d both been in work all day, but it was already 9-3 to me, so while Maelstrom of War games can be quite swing-y, we called it with a victory for me. Four hours of playing a game definitely feels long enough when it’s this tactically intense, anyway!

It was definitely a fun game, though, and I’m really enjoying getting to grips with the Necron army in a really serious way like this. I’ve got a couple of ideas for some tweaks I’d like to make to the list, including adding some Triarch Praetorians with particle casters and voidblades into the mix, so stay tuned for that!!

Necrons

You know, while I am loving the time I’ve been spending with my Necrons, and getting to grips with them as an army after all this time, I am finding myself beginning to think wider once again – maybe it’s the time of year, but I’m considering finally getting round to painting some Tyranids… For now, in case this is just the need for a change from painting the same scheme, I’m painting some terrain for use in future games, but you never know – there may be some big bugs coming to the blog as the winter months approach us!!

Nova Open reveals!

Oh my goodness, there were some interesting bits dropped at Nova last night/this morning!! I’m really quite excited about a lot of this stuff, so let’s get into it!

So the Psychic Awakening thing has got a fancy cinematic trailer now, but I’m still a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get a good look at what this is going to look like from a products perspective. We’ve got a new Inquisitor model coming along (presumably), along with new plastics for Howling Banshees and Shrike. So that’s interesting, I reckon! The official site has got this to say about it:

Psychic Awakening is a monumental event that will shape Warhammer 40,000 forever, on a scale unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Across this epic event, every codex will see expanded rules as we explore the front-line war zones of a cataclysmic new conflict that makes the 13th Black Crusade look like a border scuffle.

Now, that sounds exciting as all hell, but I wonder how much of it is going to actually translate true, you know? Vigilus was cool and all, but it somehow didn’t quite live up to what we had been perhaps hoping for in the run up to it last year.

The new Shrike has been pretty divisive, though I do quite like it myself! Of course, I’m not about to start collecting Raven Guard, but even so, it’s really nice to see more models than merely Ultramarines! I hope we’ll see some really interesting, weird stuff – starting with that bald inquisitor, of course! If Howling Banshees are getting the updated treatment, as well, then I hope they’ll use this as an excuse to update a few more kits from finecast to plastic! Speaking of which…

The Sisters of Battle have got an army box coming out in November, which I guess means that we really are going to see plastic Sisters coming out this year! Of course, the army set might be out in time for Christmas, but we might not yet be seeing the range introduced. I mean, they may well use this box to bump up the sales, and keep back the individual kits until later. Personally, I’m not planning to pick them up in one big hit like this, even if it does prove to be a saving. Recent army projects have shown that I do much better if I buy things steadily, rather than splurge on a huge pile of plastic to just then have them sitting around depressing me…

But the range does look fantastic, and that new Penitent Engine looks wonderfully grim-dark that I just can’t wait to get one for my collection, if nothing else! Very exciting times ahead, anyway!

Necromunda is getting something that looks pretty interesting – Helot Gangs seems to be the main thought here, from what I’ve seen online, though I’d always thought that to mean the Chaos Cultist rules they released in White Dwarf and on the official site? Who knows. Looks cool, and as per usual I’d definitely be all over this like a rash!

Heading to the Mortal Realms, Warcry is getting an expansion for Monsters and Mercenaries, which looks like it will indeed be following the release pattern of Kill Team – though I don’t know of course if they’re planning to re-pack the monsters and mercenary units in the same way as, say, Kill Team: Commanders. Interesting to see how this one pans out. I had been hoping we’d see the remaining two warbands that were discussed in the main Warcry rulebook, but no such luck! Maybe they’re being held back for the Christmas sales, too?

The biggest thing, for me, to come out of these reveals has got to be the next army for Age of Sigmar, however:

Now, I was excited by Cities of Sigmar, as it represented something of a re-theme of classic Old World models that I do want to get my hands on. I’m a huge Tomb Kings fan, of course, but I’m also a huge fan of Nagash and the whole undead thing in Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar, so I am incredibly excited for this range to come out, apparently as early as October!

An army of bone constructs, led by the new mortarch, Orpheon Katakros, this army looks incredibly exciting and really cool, and should go well with the current Nagash, Mortarch and Morghast range!

There have been some fairly vocal detractors online since the reveals dropped, but I don’t really care what people have to say about it: I think the range looks awesome, and I think it’s going to be difficult not to pick up the whole damn lot when it arrives!

It’s true, accusations of Tyranid Warriors rip-offs here are difficult to argue against. But I just don’t see the similarities with Necrons, which a lot of other folks are calling out. True, they’re armies of undead skeletal warriors, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Necrons are far more sleek and futuristic, for all that they’re an ancient species, whereas these guys have got too many design cues in common with Nagash and his ilk to be said to be the same!

I do still feel like the Tomb Kings had something special in Fantasy, but these guys just fit the whole AoS aesthetic much better.

It’s really a wonderful re-imagining of the idea of Tomb Kings, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full range of plastic goodness!

The Ossiarch Bonereapers are going to land probably square in the middle of the birth of my first child, so I don’t anticipate having much in the way of updates here on the blog during October, but I will be chronicling my hobby progress with certain Undead models here whenever I can, starting much sooner than anticipated with the delightful model that is Arkhan the Black!!

Hobby Reflections – 5 years on

Hey everybody,
August is my hobby anniversary month, and I have been quite reflective over the last couple of weeks, thinking on how far I’ve come with the hobby, and celebrating the fact that I’m really enjoying myself at the moment. I’ve probably said this on several occasions now, which almost makes it null and void, but I don’t think I’ve ever been enjoying myself in the hobby as much as I am right now, playing more regularly than I have ever managed previously, and dabbling in many different projects within the ranges Games Workshop has to offer.

It’s that dabbling that I want to ramble about today, though. I read Tyler Mengel’s ‘Hobby Discipline’ post at the end of last week, where he talks about the variety of projects he has planned out, and bemoaning the fact there are so many minis, but such little time. It really got me thinking about my own myriad plans, and how I have over the years tried to thin out the hobby backlog, only to then find myself in exactly the same position after a few scant months.

Over the years, I’ve bought and sold too many forces, both large and small, and I’ve tried with varying degrees of success to limit myself to stick to projects. I think the Tau Empire army that I found myself building up, only to then sell off wholesale, was a fairly significant turning point for me, however, as it brought it home how much time, effort and money that I had sunk into a project, just to wave goodbye to the whole thing within the space of 15 months or so.

I’m fairly certain that I am one of these people who are most easily classified as a “hobby butterfly”, moving from project to project with a whole host of half-finished pieces scattered in my wake. I almost think I’m pathologically incapable of seeing an army project through to completion! My current focus has been with my Necrons once more, which is something of a nostalgia trip for me at this time of year anyway, but is greatly helped by the fact that I’m playing more games at the minute than I have for a long time, and can almost see the holes in my army lists and how I can plug them. It’s almost like the game is designed that way, right?! More than that, however, I’m also enjoying the fact that I’m spending a lot of time with the Codex of my army, poring over the available units and the armoury sections, to see what I could possibly bring to the table, how I could field a different-looking army, etc. It’s really addictive to play a game, see where I went wrong, then want to play again and make changes.

The Necrons project kinda burst onto the scene shortly after I moved house, but up until that point I was working almost feverishly on my Adeptus Mechanicus project, mostly in the attempt to get an Imperium army that I could play on the tabletop. I don’t think I’ve ever fielded an Imperium force, and the idea sort of got hold of me. Having had a whole bunch of Skitarii that were half-built and waiting for paint, I found it really satisfying to finally get round to painting them, and seeing the project that had begun sometime in 2017 coming to fruition. The only other time I have ever been able to paint with such single-mindedness was probably when painting up my Drukhari, earlier in 2017.

I mention all of these projects almost as an attempt to console myself, as I am capable of sustained interest in an army project without the need to have sidelines going on. Many people mention painting up five or ten models for a unit, then moving to something else as a ‘palette’ cleanser. Personally, I’ve taken that idea a step further many times, and have painted up several really disparate models side by side, knowing that they share colours, in an effort to keep myself interested and motivated. Deathwatch, Genestealer Cult and Electro Priests all shared space on my desk at the same time, and it proved to be a fairly decent way to make sure I kept going.

However, whether because I’m playing more, or my painting time has become somewhat limited, I’m finding myself wanting to concentrate on getting a much narrower selection of models painted up these days. My Necrons are a case in point here, as I’ve found myself wanting to get the Lychguard models finished in time for a game, so didn’t want to get distracted by painting up the Van Saar gangers or the Iron Golem warband that I could have also had on the table, because I know they all share some colours in common. Even within the same project, I was in danger of getting sidelined by painting Tomb Blades, Canoptek Scarabs, and the Triarch Stalker, and so put everything away except the models that I wanted to focus on right there and then.

It’s not a bad thing to have a number of projects on the go at the same time, and it can often be quite economical to paint up several different models at the same time if they all share a common colour/colours, like some kind of weird batch-paint session. But I suppose when there are too many projects on the go, and you run the risk of never finishing anything, therein lies the problem. It’s giving me a lot of joy right now to see my Necrons army coming along so well, as they will always be my first love and passion, though my earlier attempt at an army of them was nowhere near the sort of standard that I would like to hold myself to these days!

There is, of course, another side to the coin of playing so many games with a fairly small-scale force, and that is the number of models you end up with, through being able to change your list fairly flexibly. If I had stuck to the 2000-point list that I had outlined almost 12 months ago (even adjusting for Chapter Approved), I probably wouldn’t be staring down the barrel of so many units as I am currently, because I keep changing up the way I build my 1000-point armies. By making small adjustments, swapping one unit for another, then another for yet another, a small-scale list can see me go through at least seven or eight revolving unit types, on top of the basic battalion force that has remained something of a bedrock for the list these past few months. When playing at 1000 points, I might overlook the Doomsday Ark, or the Triarch Stalker, because it is quite a large investment for one model, whereas for almost the same price I could put 5 Triarch Praetorians in my list and see what they have to offer. But I could also swap them out for Lychguard. Or I could make a couple of swaps together, removing the Lychguard and the Cryptek HQ for Illuminor Szeras and some Tomb Blades. All of these units probably wouldn’t find themselves in the same list at 2000 points, but I might want them all ready to go for my various 1000-point lists.

It’s an interesting position to be in, and I can see myself ending up with a much, much larger Necron force than I would perhaps originally have planned because of it!

But this is where the collector in me resurfaces, and I think there was an element of this back when I was first getting into 40k in 2014. I actually had all of the named HQ choices, even though I probably had no plans for fielding them – the only one I actually liked to play was Orikan the Diviner. It’s something that has really informed my Drukhari purchases in the last 12 months, as well – wanting at least one of every model in the range. So what if a particular model looks like ass? I’m in that sort of mindset where I identify quite strongly with the army (armies) that I play, and so want to own at least one of everything.

Where my Necrons are concerned, this is something that I never used to bother with, as very early on in my hobby career I’d made the judgment that I didn’t like the sculpts for Warriors, Destroyers and Flayed Ones, and so would just ignore them in the Codex and build lists that didn’t take account of them as options for the army. I’d then proceed to bemoan the expense of Lychguard as a melee option for the army, without really taking account of the fact that I can get Flayed Ones for about 55 points cheaper. Of course, I could always look into conversions, but that is a subject for another day – suffice it to say, I would always prefer to have an official GW model over one that I had had to make as a stand-in.

I feel that my attitude towards making the most out of a Codex has really helped me to see the potential for the Necrons, but to some degree it has helped with all of the armies that I collect. My Adeptus Mechanicus army had always been centred around the idea of waves and waves of Skitarii, peppered with Onager Dunecrawlers and the like. But having looked at everything they have, I have come to some much more interesting ideas as a result, and the same is true of my other projects.

The somewhat forgotten few – projects that I’ve barely touched in years…

But this does then come back to the idea from the start of the blog, about having too many projects going on at once, and where to draw the line over what we can and cannot accomplish as hobbyists. I shudder to think at just how many projects I actually have going on right now – indeed, it actually gives me a headache trying to grapple with them all. It’s not just army projects, of course, as I also have a good amount of terrain that wants some attention, both in the box and fully built (even primed and ready for paint, in some cases). It was one of my hobby goals for the year to get at least one decent-sized piece of terrain painted, and as we say farewell to the second third of the year, I am still nowhere near realising that aspiration! But then, I’m quite far away from a number of other goals from my list, so I suppose it’s all relative.

It does feel like this might be a good place to talk about those hobby goals, though, and to perhaps re-visit the list and see if I can get rid of a few of these that definitely won’t be realised before the end of the year. I’m pretty confident that I won’t be painting any Deathwatch or Grey Knights in the remaining months of the year, and while I might buy him, Inquisitor Karamazov is probably not going to see my hobby desk, either. An Imperial tank? I was thinking along the lines of a Predator, but I suppose it’s possible that I’ll be picking up one of the new Skitarii vehicles sometime soon, so that might still happen. I do want to put some of my focus back onto the Adeptus Mechanicus, though, as I’d like to get another unit painted up before year-end there. I’m actually thinking I might try to tackle the Onager, which would be very cool! I’d like to have painted up the contents of a Start Collecting box, so that’s something hovering around my brain.

Necrons are at the forefront of my mind right now, though, and while I would really like to get the Doomsday Ark painted, there are several other units vying for my attention there in terms of playing games, so I think I will probably give them some sort of priority: Tomb Blades and the Triarch Stalker being top of the list, but also more Immortals, Canoptek Wraiths, and (a weird one), the C’tan Shard of the Deceiver. I have some vague ideas for using him in my next game, as it happens, so I would like to try and get moving with him. I suppose Necrons generally should be on this list, as I try to flesh out my army there to be something approaching the breadth of my Drukhari. I keep saying that Necrons are my first love, but the amount of models that I can field really does seem to belie that fact! Time to press on.

My Hobby Goals list was written with half a mind to reducing some of the backlog that I’d accumulated over the years, but I think the way that I’ve been approaching that backlog has changed somewhat, as I’ve been tackling things that I am actually going to be getting some use out of. I don’t think it’s going to really be that possible to ever not have a backlog, and as such I don’t think it’s something I should really try to aim for. But I’d like to try to have a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, where I don’t find myself significantly adding to the mountain of plastic that has been accumulating around me – especially seeing as how that mountain is now stored in the loft… those rafters can’t take infinite strain, after all!!

Betrayer

Hey everybody,
It may have taken me almost a month to finish it, but I have finally made it through Betrayer, the 24th novel in the Horus Heresy series. The length of time it took me is no reflection on the quality of the book, I’d just like to put that out there now – I think I’ve just been tied up with the joys of moving home, and so reading has been put somewhat onto the back burner for the time being!

There are spoilers in this review, so you have been warned!

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Betrayer is almost a direct sequel to Dembski-Bowden’s first novel in the series, The First Heretic, as we continue to follow Lorgar and his plans to bring about the downfall of his father, the Emperor of Mankind. This isn’t purely a Word Bearers story, however, as the spotlight is shared with the XII Legion, the World Eaters, as the title might suggest. The main protagonists are Argel Tal of the XVII, and of course, Khârn of the XII. While the story is called Betrayer, Khârn didn’t earn the title until the Battle of Skalathrax, years after the Heresy – I thought it curious at first, as I was expecting some kind of payoff for this that never came. However, looking back, most of the characters could be called traitors as the novel progresses!

So it turns out that the Word Bearers and World Eaters share quite a bond, and Khârn and Argel Tal are particularly close. Most of the novel shows them fighting side by side as the combined Legion forces seek to overrun the military training world of Armatura. The planet is one of strategic importance to the Ultramarines who, as we know from previous novels in this series, Lorgar is attempting to utterly break following his humiliation at their hands (albeit, on the Emperor’s orders). The first half of the book explores the relationship between the two Legions, as well as that between the Legions and their respective Primarchs, while the prosecute the war on Armatura.

I think this book marks Angron’s first appearance in the series, as well, which is something of an event in itself! Angron is a tortured and broken man, whose Legion has a peculiarly sad relationship with him. Angron was raised as a slave in the gladiatorial arena on Nuceria, with the Butcher’s Nails hammered into his skull to make him fight all the more brutally. Upon reuniting with his Legion, Angron then insisted that his sons also take the implants, and they willingly agreed in the hope that it would bring them closer to him. However, the implants seem to be killing them slowly, and even the Primarch is being worn down. As for the Legion’s librarians, they cannot take the Nails as the implants outright kill them. Shunned by their battle brothers, the librarians are a sad coterie of outcasts among the wider Legion. The World Eaters are, quite frankly, a very troubled and tense legion!

Lorgar seeks to use this to his advantage, and the results are quite shocking!

Following the devastation of Armatura, we have more of the intrigue that we’ve come to expect from any book involving Lorgar’s Legion. Erebus makes his insidious return from Calth, and the plans are put into motion to move the fighting to Nuceria, Angron’s homeworld. The former slave moves from city to city, destroying all reminders of his former life on the planet, and as they reach the final settlement, a rag-tag armada of Ultramarines vessels arrives in-system, beginning the absolute best depiction of a void battle that I have ever read in a Warhammer 40k novel! Most battle depictions are ground based; I suppose because the source material is a miniature war game where the overwhelming number of models are infantry. But seriously, even with all of the sci-fi I have come across in my time, this battle was just so awesome.

It turns out that Lorgar is attempting to bring about the Ruinstorm here on Nuceria, the Warp Storm that will cut off the 500 worlds of Ultramar from the rest of the galaxy. However, his plans look to have been foiled when Roboute Guilliman turns up, and the two brothers have an epic duel – while Lorgar does manage to hold his own at first, Guilliman gains the upper hand until Angron rushes to his defence. It is kind of suggested that no Primarch can actually hope to defeat Angron in melee combat, due to his unfettered fury and rage, and that really comes across until the full extent of Lorgar’s plan becomes apparent: in order to prevent the Nails from killing his brother, Lorgar has offered Angron up to the Chaos gods to be transformed. The librarians, despite being shunned by their brothers and Primarch, come to Angron’s aid and fight a psychic battle with Lorgar, almost defeating him. But it was not meant to be, and all of the remaining psykers were killed in their efforts to save their Primarch.

At the culmination of everything, Angron is transformed into a Greater Daemon of Khorne…

This was a really cracking book, I really enjoyed it! If I hadn’t been so tied-up with the mechanics of moving house, I think I’d probably have read it through in a matter of days. The action sequences are fantastic, with some truly cinematic scenes – the one that keeps sticking in my mind is the attempt to destroy Lorgar by the Legio Oberon and their plasma cannons; he simply deflects one blast with a kine-shield, the second one almost immolates him completely, though just as the Titan attempts to crush him underfoot, Angron swoops in and basically stops the Titan’s foot with his own brute strength.

That void battle over Nuceria, though. I mean, wow! I’m half tempted to go back and re-read that part just for the kicks!

Of course, no book is perfect, and I think anything that deals with the Word Bearers is almost flawed from the outset by the heavy reliance on Erebus as a character. As we know, the First Chaplain was the one to plant the worm in Horus’ ear about rebellion against the Emperor. However, it has been suggested in several books now that the Word Bearers sent envoys to their brother Legions in a similar attempt to turn them, too. So why is it always Erebus? Where is the Chaplain who attempted to turn the Night Lords, or the Salamanders?

He is an interesting character of course, don’t get me wrong, but he seems to be popping up all over the place and the effect now is almost comic. Like he’s a stock Word Bearer for the authors. Where’s the diversity?! I think it was doubly annoying because it is mentioned here a couple of times that Erebus is intent on turning Sanguinius (the novel, it seems, takes place around the same time as Fear to Tread), but he was also instrumental alongside Kor Phaeron at Calth. While Warp travel is a thing, of course, Erebus gets around super quickly for my liking, and I think I would prefer to start seeing more Chaplains of the Word popping up to take on the role of schemer extraordinaire.

While their duel was fantastic, Guilliman seems to just pop up a bit awkwardly on Nuceria, as well. It was cool to see some element of retribution for Calth, following up from Know No Fear, it did feel a little bit contrived to have him join in the fray when he did.

But there are minor complaints about what is otherwise an amazing book!

40k Catch-Up time

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I’ve properly caught up with all of the goings-on in 40k here on the blog, and it definitely feels like there has been a lot to catch up on, to say the least! At the start of the month, we had GenCon, and some early looks at stuff like Aeronautica Imperialis, which I don’t think is for me, but certainly seems to have a lot of people excited, nevertheless. Of course, while we were enjoying the boxed game goodness such as these previews, as well as the eventual landing of Warcry, things quickly became all about the Space Marines, as GW began to reveal the next wave of power armoured good stuff on the way.

I think it’s been pretty much expected since Heretic Astartes had their second edition of the Codex earlier in the year, but the second edition of the Space Marines Codex seems to have both surprised and angered several folks here on the internet, who keep clamouring for more Xenos and so on. Sure, Space Marines are everywhere these days, and it might feel a little bit like Astartes Overload, but the simple fact remains that these guys are the brand icon for GW, and they’re clearly going to put their main efforts into producing stuff for them.

Despite all of the negativity, however, it’s been really interesting to see how GW are going about the release this time around, with these Codex Supplements that focus on a single Chapter. It does feel a little bit like a money grab, how you need to pick up the main Codex to get the rules for all the generic stuff, then your Ultramarines-specific supplement to get the rules for Ultramarines characters and whatnot. They’re a business, of course, but this is perhaps the first serious time I’ve felt like people may well be priced out of the hobby. It’s cool to get an Ultramarines codex, don’t get me wrong, but not if you need to still buy the main book. Wasn’t 8th edition meant to be doing away with the bloat of 7th? Why are we once again faced with the prospect of carting around most of a library to play this game?

However, there are some very pretty models coming out this time – and by pretty, I mean badass, such as Chief Librarian Tigurius in his post-Rubicon Primaris iteration! White Scars are the first non-blue Chapter to get the Codex Supplement treatment as well, without any kind of biker emphasis which seems decidedly strange, but never mind… Maybe Primaris bikers will be a thing sometime? Who knows…

We are set to get all of the Shadowspear stuff though, which is exciting, along with some more units to more fully flesh-out the Phobos-armour section of the force. Not only that, but Space Marines are now building battle suits! I do quite like this chap, and I’m thinking I might treat myself to one at some point in the future – when I eventually decide what I want to do with the various Space Marines that I’ve picked up over the years!

Kill Team is well over 12 months old now, and is getting a new starter set in celebration. Well, I’m not sure if that was the actual motivation, but anyway! T’au Fire Warriors vs Space Wolf Primaris Marines, battling it out among the ruins of the Sector Mechanicus. Cool beans, though I’m not sure if that is going to prove to be as popular a box as the initial one, simply because of the terrain on offer. But it’s good that they’re recognising the game is popular enough to need the starter box as a range item.

I can’t do a 40k update blog without mentioning the latest reveals from the Battle Sister Bulletin, starting with the incredible new Canoness model. What a sculpture! I suppose the centrepiece model of the army will still be Saint Celestine, but to have a really ornate character model like this to stand out is a real treat, for me. Several people have pointed out the fact that it’s nice for GW to be portraying a more mature lady for the role as well, which I suppose is a good thing, though I wish it was something that didn’t have to be made an issue of. I’m sure she’ll be the subject for many painting competition entries for years to come, anyway!

I was a bit sceptical when I did my Bulletin round-up blog last month that we’d see the Sisters Repentia, but in the very next bulletin, we got the first look at these girls, and they are pretty good, I have to say! The half-naked look has been replaced with one that is vaguely unsettling, but which echoes the purpose of these miniatures really well.

If the canoness miniature is going to form the subject of so many competition entries for years to come, I think the latest reveal is going to be adorning display cabinets across the globe for decades!

The Hospitaller model is stunning. There’s no other word for her, really. She’s got a similar sort of scenic base to the Primaris Apothecary, I suppose, but what an incredible model to include in the army! The rules for the Hospitaller in the beta-Codex are actually quite bland, albeit fairly powerful when used at the right time. I guess the miniature itself seems to suggest a much more grand position than just returning D3 lost wounds / a single miniature to a squad per turn. She costs less points than a swarm of Canoptek Scarabs, but the model is just insane!

Sisters of Battle should be a very cool army once they start to be released, and I’m sure there will be forces cropping up all over the place! My inner-hipster wants to wait out the initial flurry, and see how the land lies and the Codex fares before I go all-out, though. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of stuff going on, after all!

I’ve talked about my Necrons project, the Great Reanimation, plenty of times now – most recently, after the flurry of games that I’ve managed to get in with the army. It’s definitely a work-in-progress, as I try to get to grips with the force and experiment with new army builds and the like. I’ve recently passed about 5 years of being in the hobby, and in sort of a celebration of this, I’ve been trying to rescue my Tomb Stalker, the first Forge World model that I’d picked up in the Autumn of 2014. I wrote up a blog about this gentleman that you can read here, but it’s time to try to bring him up to date with the rest of the force (and, sadly, to repair all of the various breaks he’s experienced over the years!) So far, so good, though there’s probably a lot more to be done before he’s ready for the tabletop once again!

I’m really enjoying the Necrons, I have to say – they’ve been enjoying a lot of air time with me recently, and I think I’m getting more and more ideas as to what I can do with them, and so on. They were, of course, my first army, and the attention that they’re finally getting from me is, I think, befitting that status! I’ve got a few more games lined up, where I’m planning to change up my army build to include some (for me) really exotic units, so stay tuned for my further adventures!

Finally, let’s talk about this Psychic Awakening trailer that dropped at the start of the month!

40k Endless Spells seem to be the forerunner for what it means, and while at first I thought the same, I’m no longer so sure. Endless Spells feel a little bit like GW’s attempt to make AoS different to 40k. The fact that they’ve been quite successful, by all accounts, doesn’t make me think they’re suddenly going to port over the idea into 40k just to make more money. I feel like we’re going to be in for another campaign idea along the lines of Vigilus from last winter.

The sigil that forms the main visual interest in the trailer is that for the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the organisation responsible for finding psykers out in the galaxy and, where appropriate, training them. Such psykers often become sanctioned for use by the Astra Militarum, become astropaths, or sometimes join the ranks of the Inquisition. So far, in the game we’ve got the old Primaris Psykers and Wyrdvane Psykers models for the Imperial Guard, and the Sisters of Silence.

This is where we are, but the announcement that went alongside the trailer promised “a new, galaxy-spanning event that’s going to have a significant impact on every Warhammer 40,000 faction“. The fact that it’s called an event is probably what is causing the Endless Spells speculation, as Malign Portents that introduced them for AoS came with the same tagline. But I’d much rather see something much like the Gathering Storm that came at the very end of 7th edition, which brought out Triumvirate boxes of major characters for a few factions.

I don’t see how every faction can have something linked to a Psyker event, as so many of them are anti-psychic, such as Necrons, Dark Eldar, Adeptus Mechanicus and T’au Empire. So I wonder what we’re going to be getting? Plastic C’tan Shards would be cool, and maybe plastic Grostesques for the Haemonculus Covens that act as Psyker-hunters? I suppose we don’t have too long to wait, if it’s coming this Autumn! At least the Ultramarines got to have a Primaris Tigurius to help them!!

To finish, I thought it worth mentioning the next expansion for Blackstone Fortress that is coming up for pre-order this weekend. Escalation is a sort of traditional big-box expansion for the game, and one that I hadn’t honestly expected to see until much nearer Christmas, if I’m honest!

It’s exciting to see more esoteric corners of the 40k universe being explored in miniatures with stuff like the Primaris Psyker and a third Rogue Trader model. I do wonder if we aren’t in for a full Rogue Trader army soon, given the amount of stuff we’ve seen for this faction since Kill Team Rogue Trader came out last year. There are a lot of possibilities for them, after all!

The next few months are going to be pretty exciting for 40k players, I feel!

Necrons progress

Hey everybody!
So I’ve been playing quite a bit of 40k over the last four weeks – at least, a lot of 40k for me! – as I attempt to get better at the game, though more importantly, getting better with my Necrons!

I’ve talked about this at length on the blog already, of course, but Necrons are my first army, and I always have such affection for them as a result. It’s always around late August/early September when I really feel that nostalgia flooding back, and so I’ve launched myself on something of an offensive to try to play with my beloved first army more, and try to get the proper feel for them in 8th edition. I’d played them three times during the Index days, and then just twice in very small-point games earlier this year, benefiting from the Codex.

All of these games used a basic build of Catacomb Command Barge, Cryptek, two units of gauss Immortals and one unit of tesla Immortals (in varying numbers) as the basis of my battalion. I also chose the Mephrit dynastic code that has been my standard way of thinking about Necron builds since earlier this year, but mainly forgot about its effectiveness – as well as forgetting about my warlord traits and relics. Because that’s what I do!

Game One
So back at the end of July, having moved to the Wirral, I went to check out the local store here with a longtime gaming buddy Kev from my local Games Workshop, and we ended up with a 2 vs 2 game, 500 points each. It was me and my Necrons alongside my buddy’s Harlequins, against the unlikely pairing of Ultramarines and Death Guard.

Outcome: Draw (victory points)
Notable moment: Tesla Immortals taking out a Daemon Prince of Nurgle
Learning points: Keeping Immortals close to the Cryptek to aid with Reanimation Protocols! Also – Wave of Command is too useful to forget!

A four-player game is inevitably a bit of a mess, as everybody has got all of their bits going on. Given the slow speed of the Necrons, compared with the Harlequins, I didn’t have a great deal to do for a lot of the game. My attempt to move my Triarch Praetorians up the field saw them draw all the firepower the enemy could muster at them, which was interesting to me, as I kept hearing the news that they are actually amazing, and need to be taken out as soon as possible. As a result, they didn’t do anything, but it’s useful to hear these sorts of things!

Game Two
At the start of August, I played a game against a relative newbie JP, who was running Word Bearers. 750 points this time, so in addition to my tried-and-tested battalion of Catacomb Command Barge and Cryptek, and three units of Immortals (two gauss, one tesla), I had the Praetorians and an Annihilation Barge, so that was fun!

Outcome: Draw (though it came close to a Necron victory)
Notable moment: Triarch Praetorians wiping out ten marines in one round.
Learning points: Wave of Command is too good to forget about – shame I forgot about it for the entire game! Also, ending the battle with 6 CP is a waste!

This game was a lot of fun! It helped that my opponent and I really got on from the off, so that made for a really good game. I have a (very) nascent Word Bearers army of my own planned, so it was interesting to see what was going on with them! As a relative newbie, though, I quite the fact that the game wasn’t particularly fast-paced, as we had the time to think through the rules and whatnot. Of course, I still forgot Wave of Command, much to my chagrin, but you can’t have everything, I guess!

It was interesting, to me, to think about how I hadn’t appreciated aspects of the rules such as tesla weapons being assault weapons, so I can freely advance my Immortals up the board for the additional range with merely a -1 to hit penalty, (which would have been negated, of course, by Wave of Command!) Time to think about some better tactics…

Game Three
Last week, we upped the points value to 1000, which allowed for a few more interesting units to be included in the list. Well – I basically swapped out the Praetorians for two squads of Lychguard (one of each configuration) and some Deathmarks, which were a bit of a meta-choice as I knew JP included terminators in his list. I was hoping to make use of some of the special rules for these “new” units, to see how they work and so on!

Outcome: loss
Notable moment: Lychguard grouping up to destroy some Chaos Marines – it didn’t quite go to plan, though it was a hell of a moment!
Learning points: Still only used Wave of Command once! Can’t believe it. I still need to remember my CPs and stratagems!

We were playing a Maelstrom of War game this time around, which is something I really enjoy as it hearkens back to my formative days of learning how to play 40k via battle reports. I’ve only been able to convince people to play MoW games twice previously, so it’s always fun to get them in! My cards were just dreadful though, and I think that’s probably why people tend to not play them very often at my store.

The Lychguard sadly got taken out a little in overwatch, so they didn’t get to hit with their full force, but it was as gratifying as it ever has been to see the warscythes make mincemeat of the enemy. I think the sword-and-board Lychguard need to be used more defensively, though, as I wasn’t as impressed with their prowess as I have been with the warscythes. I’m thinking it might be more interesting to have a squad of ten with scythes going out into the wild, while keeping the five with shields back with a high-value HQ or something.

Game Four
My fourth game took place yesterday, and I was playing against Kev’s Harlequins this time. I’ve played Kev often to know that he is a very good player, with armies that run really synergistically. I’d hesitate to call him a power gamer, but nevertheless, his lists tend to be tuned and optimised, so I was a bit hesitant! But he’s also into Necrons, so I found it quite formative to play against him as he knows the army well.

Outcome: total loss (tabled turn 4)
Notable moments: Canoptek Wraiths are amazing!
Learning points: Canoptek Wraiths are too amazing to leave camping objectives. Also, I’m still forgetting Wave of Command. And – OH MY GOD! – I forgot Reanimation Protocols!

My list has changed again, this time bringing scarab swarms and Wraiths in place of the Lychguard and Deathmarks.

Canoptek Wraiths are a unit that I haven’t used since 7th edition, and I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was going to do with them at first. But they were fairly impressive, I have to say! Even if the Wraith Form ability has been nerfed to prevent them from charging through buildings, it is still a hell of an ability, and well worth the inclusion of these gribblies in my list! They are quite a hefty chunk of points, as I had kitted them out with the guns because I was originally planning to go Sautekh with my dynasty. I see a lot of advice with regard to ditching the guns, of course, but it’s always handy to have a particle caster in melee, as it’s just an extra attack if needed, and I think there should be a case made for just one transdimensional beamer, simply because it’s important (I feel) to have the ability to dish out mortal wounds.

I am so annoyed with myself for forgetting about Reanimation Protocols in this game – I mean, it’s like the defining trait of the army! I think I need to think of myself as a total newbie when it comes to playing Necrons, and try to forget about my history with them. Kev suggested making notes on my army list with the sequencing, starting with Reanimation Procols, Wave of Command (or My Will Be Done), and then into the movement phase, etc.

I had two big units of Immortals, both of which were tied up in combat in fairly short order as it happens, nullifying their effectiveness. So annoying! There were a lot of learning points in this game, but I think when playing a melee-orientated army, I need to think about my own melee capability, and not assume that I’ll be able to weather the storm simply through staying true to my nature (massed firepower).


The Future
So where do I go from here? First of all, the crib-sheet idea of getting my sequencing down through note-taking is gold, and I will definitely be employing that in future games. Both of my opponents in these games have armies that have some significant melee presence, but I can’t rely on the fact that I might be able to dodge out of combat and stick to shooting people. Praetorians and Wraiths are a decent start – I think Lychguard might be too specialist at lower points levels – but I’m thinking about points efficiencies here, and I might be making some radical changes to my general list soon enough!

Also on Friday, I bought a box of Necron Warriors. Shocking, I know! Well, for my entire 40k career, I’ve written these guys off as being horrible-looking models, and have stuck to Immortals as my troops of choice. However, if I’m going to be playing in the big leagues, or at least if I’m gonna be building out from my core list, I really need to think about these. 110 points for 10, as opposed to 75 points for 5 Immortals, is pretty decent, and there are some intriguing possibilities that I’ve been mulling over for my next couple of games, that might see some decent stabs at a win!

I’ve had the C’tan Shard of the Deceiver built for over four years now, it seems, and in that time I think I’ve managed to prime him and nothing more! I’ve never seriously looked at the C’tan Shards, mainly because the cost is almost prohibitive, but now really is the time to be looking at pretty much the entire book, and see what I can do with all of my little plastic people. The Deceiver has a special ability called The Grand Illusion, which allows me to re-jig my deployment with him and/or D3 other units, so long as they end up more than 12″ away from the enemy. How interesting, given that Necron Warriors are armed with rapid fire weapons: a blob of 10 can be dishing out 20 shots, hitting on 3s and wounding – most likely – on 4s, with -1 AP. Not bad for the basic troop choice! D3 other units guarantees at least one unit of Warriors can be re-positioned for optimum rapid-fire goodness, but the option to also bring some gauss Immortals is also really interesting. The trade-off, of course, is do you move them out of the range of Wave of Command, which could have had them hitting on 2s?

Certainly something to think about!

Rerolls are hard to come by for the Necrons, it seems, but the Triarch Stalker is a model that I’ve talked about before on my blog as being useful for this, as a unit only has to be targeted by the Stalker for other units to then get rerolls of 1 in that shooting phase when they target the same unit. I have two, one of them is having the paint stripped so I can start again, but I think I need to get a move on there!

I’m still really keen to get on with painting my Doomsday Ark as well, a model that I keep hearing so much good stuff about online. Given that this is almost three years in pieces for me now, I think it’s probably the time to get moving at long last and finish this thing off!

I think the only casualty of moving house was the Tomb Stalker, my first Forge World experience and still one of my all-time favourite models. I do have a second one waiting to be built, but I think it would be remiss of me to not attempt to revive this guy and see if I can perhaps bring him up to date with the rest of my army. I’m hoping that I could maybe use lots of thin layers of paint just on the top of the carapace, to bring him into the dark grey and blue scheme I have now, rather than the gold and green of my last attempt at a Necron army!

I’ve only used the model once, and he did precisely nothing but draw fire, so I’m thinking it might be time to try again with this guy on the tabletop.

Necrons

I have a lot of plans for the future for my army, including all of the above but also moving into Destroyers, and even Flayed Ones! I’m actually thinking, much the same as my Drukhari, I’d like to have at least one of every model in the range. So I’ll doubtless be picking up all of the named characters once again! So that’s exciting.

In fact, my entire future with the army is exciting me – I don’t think I’ve felt this way about Necrons since those heady days of 2014! Stay tuned for some serious thoughts on my list building once again, as I delve into the pages of the codex! You know you love my rambling thoughts blogs!

Getting started with Necromunda

Hey everybody!
It’s my 900th post, and I wanted to do something kinda special to mark the occasion. As it turns out, Blood Bowl isn’t the only game I’m finally getting into! I’ve talked about Necromunda a few times on this blog already, so I think it’s about time to take a look at the game in more detail. Think of this as something of a sequel to last year’s brief overview blog!

The Basics
Necromunda Underhive is a skirmish game where players control the members of a gang, vying for supremacy in the Underhive. At its most basic, the game is quite straightforward, consisting of three phases in each round. To begin, players roll off to see who gets Priority for that round, then all the fighters are readied.

The Action phase sees each gang member activated, alternating between each player. Each fighter can take two actions. There are a number of different actions available to players, grouped into basic actions (which can only be taken once in each activation), simple actions (which can be taken more than once), and double actions (which take up both action slots for the fighter). So for instance, moving is a simple action and so can be taken twice, while shooting or fighting is a basic action that can only be taken once, and charging is a double action (though it does allow for a fighter to make a free fight action if he or she ends that charge in base-to-base contact with an enemy gang member).

Resolving both shooting and close combat attacks works exactly the same as regular 40k, whereby fighters make a ballistic skill / weapon skill check, and if it is successful, make a roll comparing the weapon strength to the target’s toughness and referring to the usual to-wound chart. The target gets the chance to save against the attack (unless the weapon’s AP value negates that), and damage is inflicted. If a fighter is reduced to 0 wounds, they are taken out of action. There is an end phase which, in the basic rules, is only there to mark the end of the round.

Advanced Rules
At its most basic, that’s it! There are a number of scenarios in the main rulebook that add a few special rules to the game, but overall victory is still attained by taking gangers out of action. However, there are a number of Advanced Rules that feature in the book as well, which really add a layer of depth to the game that can be somewhat confusing at first, though seem to be well worth adding in to give the game that all-important depth.

Within the Advanced Rules, there are rules for activating groups of fighters at a time – activating up to two additional fighters when you activate a Leader or Champion – as well as a host of additional tidbits that make combat so much more interesting (and deadly!) Rules for running out of ammo, firing two pistols at the same time (flying through the air is optional), stray shots, as well as assisting and interfering in close combat attacks all add to the tactical nuances that make the game so appealing. There are also detailed rules for suffering injury at the hands of rival gangs.

The End Phase comes into its own with the Advanced Rules. If any gang member is seriously injured, the gang will need to make a Bottle Test, which functions similarly to the Morale phase of regular 40k, with the exception that you’re looking to compare the dice roll + number of gang members injured or out of action with the number of gang members who started the game. You then get to make a Recovery Test to see if those fighters can recover or succumb to their wounds. When a fighter is initially wounded, others close by need to make a Nerve Test to see if their bottle goes. In the end phase, those fighters who Broke have the chance of Rallying.

Gang Composition
The main Necromunda Underhive base game comes with two gangs, Escher and Goliath, each of which came with pre-populated fighter cards that dictate how to build the models to make a named gang. When founding a gang of your own, each gang has options for how many of each type of gang member you can include as a start: Leader (usually one), Champion (usually two), Ganger (usually no more than the combined total of other gang members) and Juves (usually unlimited). Each type of fighter costs a number of credits to purchase, and of course their wargear and weapons also cost credits. The main rulebook gives 1500 credits as the limit for a starting gang, though 1000 credits seems to be more normal in the few brief conversations I’ve had about the game.

Fighters can sometimes have access to skills that give them additional options during the fight. Weapons have traits that can give even more options. It all begins to feel a little bit confusing (and not a little unlike 7th edition 40k!) In this respect, then, I think it’s a really great thing that GW have given us the basic rules to use as something of a primer, to get used to things before adding in all of the more complex stuff. Of course, Necromunda has had so much released for it up to this point that it begins to feel much like a sandbox game, but I’ll get to that in a bit!

There are also Tactics cards available for each gang. These cards are split between generic gang tactics, and gang-specific cards. You create a deck of them at the start of the battle, shuffling the generic ones with those of your chosen gang, then the scenario you’re playing will dictate how many you can use, as well as whether you get to choose your cards or have to choose them at random.

Of course, I say these cards are available for use – GW has not been able to keep them in stock, and most of them are no longer available for purchase. While sometimes the card packs and dice sets they put out with a new release are somewhat bonuses to the main event, these cards actually have new and additional rules to them that make it quite difficult to get into the game if you haven’t been there for each release. I suppose it’s always possible that there are just supply problems and GW are trying to put these right, but for now at least, it’s going to be difficult for newcomers.

Necromunda makes great use of terrain, and while the base game does involve some scatter terrain placed onto a tiled board, with all the rules needed for encountering it in a variety of ways, there are rules for multi-level gang skirmishes that take place among the gantries and chains of environments such as the Sector Mechanicus terrain.

With the release of the Palanite Enforcers last weekend, there are now seven gangs available to use in the Underhive. GW have also given us rules for Genestealer Cults and Chaos Cults in the game, two of the more convincing factions from regular 40k that make the most sense for use here! I’ve talked at length in previous blogs about just how much I love the more regular factions like these, which consist of just average folks (if Genestealer Cultists can be called “average”!) that have that indescribable grim-dark feel to them. I mean, it’s arguable that these factions are more 40k than Space Marines or Tyranids! All of which just adds up to yet more reasons to love this game!

While each gang was being released across 2018, they were accompanied with a Gang War book. The first Gang War featured advanced terrain rules to allow for the famous 3D-style games, while subsequent books included the rules for the new gang as well as a Trading Post featuring new and exotic weapons that your gang can come across during campaigns. These books formed something of a treasure trove of ideas and really bring out the RPG-style element of the game that so many people love it for.

These supplements were combined into the Gangs of the Underhive hardback book that came out last Christmas, and the updated hardback Rulebook, much to the annoyance of players who had been buying these products as they came out. Personally, I was of the opinion that these softcovers did at least allow for players to, you know, actually play with their miniatures for a year or so, which can only be a good thing.

So far this year, we’ve seen a pair of hardback campaign books released alongside the new plastic kits each quarter, The Book of Peril and, most recently, The Book of Judgement. While featuring rules for the new releases, there are also campaign rules and a whole smorgasbord of additional bits and pieces that can colour games of Necromunda in new and interesting ways. The Book of Peril is possibly most noticeable for introducing the idea of the Guilds of Necromunda as factions, something that has been teased for a while now…

Necromunda Underhive is a game that I’m hoping to play soon, having convinced a couple of people at the local club to give it a try. While the base game is decent enough, of course, there are so many additional moving parts and rules that add so much depth to the experience that it becomes something closer to a traditional RPG than a simple boardgame. The game is so customisable that it really boggles my mind, and I find myself just itching to play it whenever I think about it!

So I’m finally going to be playing some games with this very soon. I’m intending to feature the game quite a deal more on my blog hereafter, as it’s a game that has really captured my imagination right from the outset. Look out for more content as the months go on, and hopefully I’ll even get to try a campaign or two! It’s going to be an exciting few months as the year draws to a close, let me tell you!