9th edition Maelstrom

Maelstrom of War is one of my favourite ways to play 40k, using tactical objectives that are achieved over the course of the battle. The sort of things you hear in battle reports like “monster slayer” and “defend objective three” and such, it’s sadly not something that a lot of people around me like to play. I think the idea of changing, random objectives throughout the battle doesn’t appeal to a lot of tactically-minded players, who want a straight run at victory.

The Maelstrom format was new for 7th edition, with a whole bunch of tactical objectives that were generated on a D66 roll. When new codexes came out, you could also get datacards that provided a deck themed to your army, with predominantly the same cards in each one, save for the first six that were unique for your guys. Notably in 9th, Maelstrom of War disappeared from the rulebook, and the packs of cards that you buy alongside the codex is principally the stratagem suite, with psychic powers and whatnot filling them out. White Dwarf 461, from all the way back in February 2021, gave us beta rules for Maelstrom in 9th edition, a series of twelve pages of rules that allow you to play in this manner.

There are six categories of Tactical Objectives, which are a bit more prescriptive than we’ve seen before, as they tie in much more strongly to the mission you’re playing. In short, when you pick one from the six missions included in this rules pack, it tells you to select three categories, then you roll a D3 to determine from which category that you generate your objectives. So if you chose your first category to be from the Holding the Line category, you would need to roll a 1 or 2 to ensure you can generate an objective from that category. There is one mission where all six objective categories are on offer, though.

The missions are otherwise really quite bland, with just one specific rule for each, such as keeping objectives secret until scored, or players preventing their opponent from scoring one of the objectives that round, etc. Not that they necessarily need a great deal of rules etc, but still.

It’s quite random, for sure, and you could pick three categories but end up generating all three from the same category. When you come to actually generate your objectives from the category, you roll a D6 and see what you’ve got (with rules for changing this if the objective is unachievable for any reason). There are four specific stratagems for use with this way of playing, and all interact with the tactical objectives in some manner. The first objective is worth more victory points than any other in each chart, and there is a stratagem to change the roll to a 1 to give you a chance at that objective during the round (but you can only use it once per round, of course).

The format appears to have morphed into Tempest of War, a pack of cards that recently came out that sounds very similar to the old Open War playstyle, but here you select the mission (from a set of 6) and deployment (from a further 6 cards), then a mission rule (from a set of 12 cards) and away you go. Each player gets a deck of 20 secondary objectives, and this is where the ebb and flow of the game comes in, basically replicating Maelstrom of War but without the massive deck of cards that could sometimes make the older format a bit too random.

Notably, Open War does still exist for 9th edition, with the pre-existing format adapted and changed up. With the way that 9th edition works, with secondary objectives and all the rest of it, Open War is a bit of an odd duck, though, as a lot of armies are being engineered in a different direction. They’re great for playing the odd game, but I think we’ve all come to expect something a lot more from 9th edition now, and Open War feels like a bit of a relic at this point.

I’m a big Maelstrom fan, but I realise that part of that is down to nostalgia for how I learnt to play 40k from battle reports. Tempest of War sounds like just the sort of thing that I’ve been looking for since 9th edition launched, striking a balance between the old Open War and my beloved Maelstrom of War. I’m still thinking that I might try to play with those beta rules at some point, but ultimately, I think this Tempest of War sounds like it could well be a whole lot of fun!

Games, Games, Games!

Last week, my wife said the words every guy wants to hear: shall we have a regular game night?


For our first game of the new season, as it were, we got Elder Sign to the table, and started against Yog Sothoth – which was just vicious! We started out as Amanda Sharpe and Gloria Goldberg, but the Museum cards were just so brutal that we were pretty much on an uphill slog from the get-go. It wasn’t impossible per se, but even with Amanda’s ability to complete multiple tasks per roll of the dice, I did find it very difficult. Indeed, Gloria was devoured within about two turns! We went through a succession of investigators, each one was pretty much on a conveyor belt as they turned up, stuck around for maybe a turn or two, then was devoured.

Perhaps inevitably, then, Yog Sothoth woke up and for maybe only the second time I was faced with having to defeat an Ancient One by removing doom. To start with, it was going okay – by this point, we’d made it through to Carolyn Fern and Jenny Barnes – and we removed quite a bit of doom. Then of course, we plateaued. Fortunately, we had amassed enough trophies between the two of us that we were able to keep discarding them through all of this, but with still three doom tokens on him, our final couple of trophies were discarded, and we were devoured forever.

It was a really good game, despite the lack of success! I think Elder Sign sometimes has the reputation for being a walk in the park, hence why later expansions deemed it necessary to make things much more difficult. However, it just goes to show that with the wrong combinations of investigators and location cards, we started on the back foot and things only got worse from there. I honestly don’t think any of the location cards we pulled was particularly easy, and many times we found ourselves failing tasks as a result.

But we’re going to be playing more, which is exciting stuff, so I’m looking forward to working through each of the Ancient Ones in the core game, and then Jemma has said we should also work through the expansions, which is really exciting! I’ve played with Unseen Forces a few times now, but I’m fairly sure that stuff like Gates of Arkham and Omens of Ice have only hit the table once each, and Omens of the Pharaoh and Omens of the Deep have never been played with – indeed, the tokens sheet was still shrinkwrapped in each of the boxes!

I’m really looking forward to seeing what each of these expansions has to offer, and there will doubtless be more reports here on the blog when I do! I’ve also recently bought Ticket to Ride and the Charms & Potions expansion for the Harry Potter deck building game, so that’s very exciting, as well!

Moving on!

Last night, I had my first game of Tau in 9th edition, my first game with Tau since June 2018 and 8th edition, and my first game of 40k in what feels like months! Fortunately, I don’t think I was particularly rusty with the rules. JP was playing Imperial Fists, which was a revelation, as he has only ever played Word Bearers in all the time I’ve known him, so we both didn’t really know what we were doing…

I was playing according to the plans and thoughts laid out in this blog, so was really happy that I had remembered to actually write all of this stuff out beforehand, as I could just reference it when needed! I think that was probably the first big difference, because while I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, I was still prepared, but JP wasn’t prepared with his Fists. I don’t mean that unkindly, just that there wasn’t really a plan that took into account stratagems and so on.

We were playing the Crossfire mission, albeit on a square table rather than the usual rectangle. I was able to get first turn, which proved to be incredibly powerful as I was able to move my Pathfinders into position securely knowing that I would not be overly exposing them by doing so. As such, they snagged me two additional objectives, and were able to light up a lot of the board with markerlight tokens. Between the first Pathfinder squad and the Breacher squad, I was able to eliminate a squad of Primaris marines (and I forgot about the markerlight buff while doing so – learning point number one!) Then moving on to the Redemptor Dreadnought, my Crisis team was able to get rid of that in combination with the Strike squad. I used the Relentless Fusillade stratagem to double the shots and improve AP by 1, then the Coordinated Engagement stratagem to further improve the AP by 1, on top of having chosen Mont’ka to improve the AP by 1 for all shooting within 18”. I forgot about the Coordinated Engagement on the Crisis team, but my Fire Warriors were making 20 shots at AP-4, which is worth it just for the hilarity factor. As such, the Dreadnought was eliminated in short order.

The second group of Pathfinders then shot the Primaris Eliminators off the board, with some assistance from the Commander, whose final volleys helped to soften up the Impulsor tank. Two hours of my shooting phase later, and I had wiped out three entire units, and controlled three of the four objective markers, meaning I was already up 7 victory points. There wasn’t a great deal that could then be done, though JP was actually able to wipe out that second Pathfinder squad in a single round of close combat, thanks to the Assault Intercessors making a ridiculous number of attacks on the charge.

In the end, I lost the Pathfinder team, two Crisis suits, and a single Fire Warrior. Due to the fact that it was already getting late, and we were only having a learning game anyway, we called it after the first turn, but I think this will definitely bear further exploration as time goes on, as I really enjoyed the army, regardless of the victory.

There were definitely some learning points on my side of the table as well, though. For starters, drones are people too (kinda) – I had been treating them as basically unit upgrades and not thinking of them as actual models. As such, that second Pathfinder squad shouldn’t have been wiped out, as there were still 5 wounds remaining from the drones. Secondly, there is a very tasty stratagem called Pulse Onslaught for Fire Warriors, which makes 6s auto-wound. I think it was the Strike Squad that rolled about seven 6s to hit, which would have been quite wonderful, but no matter. My third learning point is around the Commander, who allows for nearby Core units to re-roll hits of 1, and also for nearby Core units to advance a straight 8”. As it happens, I rolled a 6 for my Breacher squad and was therefore able to advance them enough to claim the objective they were sat on for the game, backing up the Pathfinders there. But it would be handy to remember!

I do quite like the Breacher team, as they were able to play a key part in removing the unit of Primaris marines, thanks to the Breach and Clear stratagem that allows for re-rolls of wound rolls, and also denies cover. However, while this brings me on to where to go next with the army, I think I’m actually going to favour the Strike team instead as my third unit of troops, giving the unit pulse carbines rather than pulse rifles for a more mobile team. I think this could work quite well, having the unit with pulse rifles remaining fairly stationary for the battle, as they still have the stratagem to double the shots so they don’t need to move into rapid fire range to do damage. I can then have the pulse carbines moving into position to set up that Coordinated Engagement, and potentially have both units doling out 20 shots each, AP-3 for the carbines and AP-4 for the rifles. With judicious use of the Commander to allow for them to re-roll hits of 1, that could be very nice indeed.

I’m definitely thinking about swapping out the Ethereal for the Cadre Fireblade, as this guy gives pulse weapons within 6” exploding 6s to hit, and also has the ability to allow for re-roll of 1s to hit, giving the Commander more flexibility to cover the field. He also has a markerlight, which I’m thinking will be key to the battle here, as it basically allows for the troops to hit on 3s as well, which stacks up something dreadful. I mean, what other basic troop choice has the firepower for 20 shots to hit on 3s, re-rolling 1s, and 6s get additional shots and auto-wound; wounding (potentially) on 3s, at AP-4?

I’m still intent on not letting this army get away from me, though, so I don’t want to plan for all manner of horribleness and end up with too much to paint. I already have the Crisis team and Ethereal primed but not painted, and I built the Breacher squad ready for this game, but now have 23 models that need painting because of this! It makes me uneasy, so I’m not about to go building the Ghostkeel or something, just to have more toys to play with at the expense of drastically increasing the painting load!

There’s doubtless more to be said about the Tau, and I definitely think I’m back wanting to get them painted again! So that was very good!

More Tau Thoughts

Hey everybody,
It’s been a week or so since I mentioned the Tau, and I’m clearly getting withdrawal! I’ve been giving a lot of thought to them, though, and think it’s time to try to get things straight in my head. I’ve also been doing some historical research through the previous Tau books, which has been quite interesting! But let’s not digress too far just yet!

Here is the list that I am currently working on getting painted.

It’s going really quite well, even if I do say so myself. I’ve been working on getting the Commander painted since I finished up the Fire Warriors at the end of February, and it hasn’t yet been a full week and I think I’ve made some really great progress with this guy! The armour is pretty much done now, so I need to work on the functional bits and pieces, getting the gyros painted and all the lenses, then the weapons and basing! Makes it sound so easy, but it will hopefully only take another week or so. I then want to get the Ethereal painted up, a project I’m hoping may not take me too long, after which I guess it’ll be on to the Crisis Suits! So that’s not bad at all, really! At that point, then, I’ll have the full list painted, the only issue then being that the list isn’t necessarily a good one.

I think it’s been interesting, the way that I’ve approached this one, having started with two groups of Pathfinders because of the fact that’s what I had “in stock”, so to speak. If they were a troops choice, then that’d be fine, but being fast attack, it does leave me with a bit of a hill to climb in so far as getting an army to go around them. I do have some of the more utility troops now though, so where does that leave me, army-wise?

So, as I think I said before, I’m playing these chaps as Sa’cea Sept when I get to my first game with them, as that is the colour scheme that I am using. Sa’cea gives my infantry Dense Cover when they are targeted from more than 12” away (Dense Cover is -1 to hit, so that’s nice). Vehicles get the same when they’re targeted from more than 18” away, though I don’t yet have any vehicles in the list. Finally, Vehicles and Battlesuits can fire heavy weapons in close combat with no penalty, which is also irrelevant just now as all of my Battlesuit units are equipped with Assault weapons. But anyway!

For the time being, I am considering this force to be working around the Crisis Team. I’ve talked many times in the past about building an army around a unit or group of units, and for the time being, my Crisis Team is that unit. These guys can move 10” and, thanks to the suite of weapons that I have equipped them with, I’m hopeful that they will be quite a deadly mobile threat. Two guys have got plasma rifles and burst cannons, missile pods and multi-trackers, and the shas’vre has a cyclic ion blaster, fusion blaster, early warning override and missile pod. From the missile pods, that is 6 shots with a 30” range, S7, AP-2 and 2 damage each. So that’s quite nice for some high-toughness models if I need to clear them out. There are 12 burst cannon shots, which are only S5 and AP0 D1, but that’ll be good for going against some marine equivalent types, and is the reason for bringing the multi-tracker on those guys, as that piece of kit gives exploding 6s to hit when targeting a unit with 6 or more models. So those two pieces of kit go hand in hand quite nicely, I think. The sergeant equivalent here, the shas’vre, has got a cyclic ion blaster which is three shots at S7 AP-2 and D1, but it can be overcharged for S8 AP-2 D2, much like a plasma gun for the Imperium. It’s only 18” range, but with each model having 4 wounds, it might not be too much to worry about overcharging it at least once in the game for some additional damage. I think that I see myself targeting characters or monster-like creatures with that the most, as it has a potential for some high damage output and stuff. And it’s a similar story for the remaining weapons, really. Plasma rifles have a huge threat range of 30” and, while only one shot each, they are firing that shot at S8 AP-4 and D3. So it has the potential to put some serious holes in things. On top of that, the squad leader has a fusion blaster, which is the Tau equivalent of a meltagun, 18” range with one shot at S8 AP-4 Dd6, though that increases to d6+2 at half range. So there is some degree of lethality among the more suppressive-fire style of weaponry. In total, 24 shots will be coming out of the team, with exploding 6s from the two guys.

Now, the elephant in the room of course is that Crisis Suits are hitting on 4s. However, I’m bringing two Marker Drones for them to use, which will potentially grant +1 to hit against the unit hit by the markerlight, so I have two possibilities with having the two drones, but remember I’m backing the army up with 2 groups of 10 Pathfinders, who together are firing 15 markerlights. So I’m thinking that Pathfinders will be the key element in lighting up the field at the start of the turn, especially as they have the vanguard move, and can fire markerlights at the end of the movement phase, to keep that mobility.

That’s pretty much going to be the beauty of having so many Pathfinders on the board. While I do have some of the fancy tech in those teams as well, I am predominantly using them for the markerlights, with any shots that they can put out being bonus. They have three rail rifles between the two groups, which are nice one shot S8 AP-4 D3 weapons that dish out mortal wounds on a successful wound roll, and two ion rifles which are similar to the cyclic ion blaster, though unfortunately Heavy rather than Assault. 30 pulse carbine shots will be good for harassment though, and I think that’s going to be my secondary use for these guys. Each squad also has a Recon Drone, which comes with a burst cannon, so depending on how I’m able to string everything out in the battlefield, the Pathfinders have the potential to be quite a disruptive unit, while simultaneously providing the support for the big guns from stuff like the Crisis Team.

Adding to that level of disruption is the new tech on the Pathfinders, one piece of which is the Neuroweb System Jammer. This simply makes the unit available to use the stratagem of the same name, which gives one unit within 18” of it -1 to hit until the start of my next shooting phase. It’s all about being annoying, but I think this is a good place to start talking stratagems. There are some fairly decent ones in here that should be very useful throughout the game. Dynamic Offensive stands out for me as a perfect fit for my Crisis Team, as for 1CP I can advance them a straight 6” and they don’t suffer the penalty for advancing and firing Assault weapons. So straightaway I’m getting a 16” move with them, and some of those guns had a 30” range to them, meaning that unit is one that you have to take notice of. The Coldstar Commander does allow them to advance a straight 8”, though without negating the penalty. The Repulsor Impact Field can be useful in a pinch, shortening charge moves against Battlesuit units by 2”, so if a unit had only just made a charge, I can turn that off for some defensive capability. Jet Pack units also have a fire and move stratagem for 1CP, so I could move the Crisis Team the 16”, shoot, then make a normal move of 6” afterwards. Wow!

There’s an interesting stratagem that effectively allows you to catch a unit in a crossfire: pick an enemy unit, and two friendly units that are within 18” of that enemy and visible to it. They can only attack that unit, but they improve the AP by 1 for that attack. It might not be something that I lavish on the Crisis Suits, or even the Pathfinders, as they have specialist weapons and whatnot. But when I have a second group of Fire Warriors, I’ll be absolutely aiming to set this sort of thing up, for pulse rifles or pulse blasters shooting at AP-2! On top of that, there is the Relentless Fusillade stratagem that allows a Strike Team to make double the shots regardless of rapid fire range, and improve the AP. And that doesn’t take account of the Mont’ka Philosophy of War that improves AP! 20 shots from what you thought was a basic gun, coming at you with AP-4? What’s not to like there! Finally, there’s another interesting one, Shocking Firestorm, where each model destroyed by a shooting attack counts as two models for the purposes of Morale. I think that could be useful where I’m only targeting the unit with a couple of guns, so I’m not expecting too many great things. Interesting options, though!

I mentioned the Fire Warriors just now, I don’t think I’m going to be doing a great deal of anything too fancy with them, as they’re basic troops (albeit with S5 AP-1 D1 guns). That leaves the two HQs. The Ethereal on Hover Drone has got his Chaplain-like Invocations ability, where he can intone one of the two Invocations he knows. Storm of Fire allows a nearby Core unit to shoot without any actions failing, and Zephyr’s Grace gives -1 to hit against a nearby Core unit. He’s a handy utility guy, with some melee capability, though I don’t think I’m going to be throwing him into close combat!

The Coldstar Commander is one of my favourite models in the Tau range, and is coming with a lot of firepower. For starters, I’ve given him the airbursting fragmentation projector, almost because it’s such a ridiculous sounding weapon that I can’t help but like the sound of it! A blast weapon, it’ll be firing at least 3 shots (or “bomblets” as the 6th Edition codex puts it) against a unit of 10 men at S4 AP-1 D1, and you can target units not visible to the bearer. The high-output burst cannon is Assault 10, which I did have to double check when I first came across it, but there it is, and those ten shots are at S5 AP-1 D1. He also has a missile pod for a further 2 shots as already described. You might be thinking, that’s not particularly scary, and in all honesty you’re right; I’ve given him a shield generator for a 4++ and a Gun Drone to get a bit of extra damage out, but he’s not about drawing attention to himself like that. His Signature System has some built-in defence, whereby melee attacks are -1 to hit against him, and anybody in combat with him will fight last. He does have the Prototype System whereby he can drop grenades on top of a unit he has moved over on a 2+, dishing out D3 mortal wounds, so there is a bit more damage output there, and his Warlord Trait allows for a bit more accuracy as he can re-roll hits and re-roll wounds. But while he’s hopefully not going to be a washout, he isn’t screaming “come target me!”

But a model that is pumping out potentially 15-18 shots per round with a fairly decent accuracy must still be taken notice of, which leads me to the over-arching plan for the army: target saturation. If the Pathfinders are being annoying as hell, but they’re on opposite sides of the field; if the Crisis Team is being mobile and deadly, and you can’t keep up with them; if there are 20 pulse rifle shots coming from the Fire Warriors, with the support turret shooting out 4 grenades at units you thought were in cover – where do you concentrate your fire? There is a lot that is going to be coming at you, and with some careful positioning, I think it should be quite horrendous to face Tau in their shooting phase before you can begin to think about tying them up in melee.

Without trying to get ahead of myself, my immediate plans for the army after I’m finished painting the Crisis Team and the HQs is to add in a Breacher Team. While I do like Relentless Fusillade for the improved AP shenanigans, I think variety is nice, and they do have the stratagem to re-roll wounds and negate cover. Their pulse blaster is a shorter range, though can potentially be quite deadly in the unit is firing within 8”. That will also bring the list up to around about the 960 points mark, so I can start to think about planning in some 1000 point games!

As I said at the top, I have been doing a bit of historical research about the army and seeing how it has transferred from 6th/7th edition, through 8th and into 9th edition. As it happens, the cost of this army has come down quite a lot, from 1022 in 6th to 888 in 8th, and now 848 points. Of course, some stuff like the Crisis Suits and the Coldstar have illegal load-outs when you compare them with how they could be built back in the day. What has surprised me the most, I think, is how the Crisis Team has changed in costing, coming in at more than 100 points more expensive last edition. I’m hopeful that they will really be the stars of the show, though, and while I’m fully prepared to see them wiped off the table before they can do anything, I am keen to see how they do in the real world as opposed to all this paper lark!

I suggested at the top that the list isn’t going to be great, and then rambled for ages about how good I think everything is going to work together. Well, that’s still true, I think it will work really well, but it definitely needs something more than I have right now. More troops will definitely be handy, and the Breachers will take care of that. I am thinking that I might get myself a couple of transports for some greater flexibility, plus the Devilfish also has the option for that vanguard move at the start of the game, to give greater deployment capabilities. The true centrepiece of the army that I am working towards, however, is going to be the Riptide. That beast is definitely going to be a distraction for the rest of the army, no matter how he’s equipped. I do like the heavy burst cannon for its 12 shots at S6 AP-2 D2 each, though do I arm him with two plasma rifles or two fusion blasters? Both are very interesting options, but I think it’s going to be some time before I have to make that decision. At any rate, having a Knight equivalent striding around is going to take the heat from the Crisis Team, I think, who will likely still be causing carnage among everything else, so I’m hoping that this will prove to be a really nice army to play, when I get it to the table!

Buying a unit and then painting it has definitely been the way to go for me this time around, though. Even though I have the Combat Patrol box in hand while I’m still working on the other stuff, I don’t feel overwhelmed this time around, and it’s all really quite manageable. Other projects, the Sisters being a case in point, are kinda dragging me down by the amount of stuff that I have for them, and I really don’t have that same level of excitement and positivity about those projects as I do about the Tau. Who knew plastic could have such a profound effect on a guy?!

Tau Codex thoughts

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tau Empire Drones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Genestealer Cults Codex is here!

Hey everybody,
Ascension Day has come, and my Genestealer Cults army has a brand new codex to ponder over! Or, as is usually the case for me, to be intimidated and confused by! I don’t know why, but I was forever confused by the options available to GSC during 8th edition, to the point where I only played with the army once, and I think I made a bit of a hash of things then, too. With a new book comes a lot of simplification, although there are plenty of other new rules to mull over – so let’s dive in!

I’ve been painting up my guys now for a few months – back in the last edition, I had something like 1200 points of the guys painted up. Well, out of this, I’ve assembled a 1000 point list that I had intended to use for a game this week, but feeling under the weather (not covid!) has put those plans back for the time being!

The core of the battalion is, of course, 30 Neophyte Hybrids and the Broodcoven, along with some of the chosen few in the shape of the Hybrid Metamorphs, then a quartet of the new support characters. In theory, I was thinking this would be a fairly straightforward list with which to try out the new rules, but I guess my first game with it will show! An Incursion Battalion gains me 6CP to start out, and I’m using one of them already on the Leaders of the Cult stratagem, which allows me to choose warlord traits for the three HQs.

My Cult is that of the Bladed Cog – to be honest, I’m sticking with this one for the time being, but I haven’t really checked out any of the others in the new book yet. Bladed Cog is my colour scheme, and has been with me since I started on my Genestealer Cult journey back in 7th edition, so to start out with, I’m staying with it. This gives me an army-wide 6+ invuln save, increases the range of ranged weapons by 3”, and allows each unit to reroll one wound roll when either shooting or fighting. There are so many rerolls in this army now, though, that it’s going to be difficult to keep track…

The Primus has the Mark of the Clawed Omnissiah relic, which allows him to do mortal wounds to nearby units at the start of the fight phase, as well as giving a 4+ invuln. The Magus and the Patriarch each know two psychic powers, and can attempt to cast two powers each turn, which is pretty big. The Magus has Psionic Blast and Psychic Stimulus, while the Patriarch has Might from Beyond and Mental Onslaught. I envisage the Magus with a bodyguard of Neophytes, while the Patriarch will be getting stuck in to the fight, alongside the Primus and Metamorphs.

The new rule for these guys is Crossfire, which most of the army has. A unit with Crossfire, if it either hits with 5 or more attacks, or hits with an attack that deals more than 1 damage, can give its target unit a Crossfire marker. Why? Well, when you target a unit with a Crossfire marker, you get +1 to hit; if the unit is also classed as Exposed, you get +1 to wound, and if the target unit has a marker, is Exposed, and you’re within 12” of it, that unit gets no cover save. What does Exposed mean? If you can draw a line between two of your units that have Crossfire, with said line going over one model from the target unit, it is said to be Exposed. I like it, it feels somewhat thematic, but it doesn’t feel huge or broken, but should come into play during the game. I feel like it might be more beneficial with multiple small units of, say, Neophytes, though equally you need those 5 attacks to hit, so a big unit won’t go amiss. There’s an interesting balance, I think.

However, the Nexos can just give an enemy unit a marker during the Command Phase, which could be quite powerful. If you really want some bonuses there, it could be great to just dump that on there straightaway. Indeed, given the way Command Points have changed since 8th, the Nexos has changed significantly. He also has the ability to extend auras in an interesting way – if you position, say, a Primus within 6” of the Nexos, he can pick any CORE unit on the battlefield to be treated as within range of the Primus’ aura abilities. Nice, huh?

The Clamavus has also gotten quite fancy in the new edition, with effects that buff friendly CORE units within 12” of him (allowing them to shoot and still perform actions, or auto-pass combat attrition tests), and to adversely affect enemy units in the morale phase. He’s also kept his deny bubble of 12”, which I think is quite nice.

Don’t get me wrong, this army – well, this list, at least! – isn’t massively broken. Indeed, I was quite dismayed when I first read through the book at just how much has been taken out from last edition. My cherished ideas for the Metamorph bomb have all been struck out, as there are now very few ways to increase the number of attacks a unit can do. Metamorphs have been simplified so that they simply have “mutations”, there’s no claw/talon/whip distinction. Rather than the glorious 30-odd attacks, or whatever it was I thought I could generate, we’re maxed at 21 when blessed by Might from Beyond. Though I suppose there are so many ways to reroll these attacks, it’s not worth worrying over!

Of course, there will be plenty of ways to build out from this, and I think I’ve got at least another group of Neophytes painted already! I think it would be good to have two big blobs of Neophytes for Crossfire, and I’ve been thinking about 20-man units for a while, so watch this space on how that develops! As regards the bikers, though, I think I need to play with the army before I go any further there!

Genestealer Cults

Overall, though, I think the Codex does look quite good. A lot has been removed from the last book, which made me feel a bit adrift when I first started to look through it. I wouldn’t say I was an expert with the army of course – far from it – but I was beginning to understand some key combos and stuff, and so much of that has just been torn out now. But there seems to have been a lot more added in, a lot of tweaks overall, and I think it’s going to take some time to get used to, but I am excited to see what 9th edition has to offer the Cult. There seems to be a lot of really fluffy, cool things that we can do now, which on paper looks like it should allow for some really nice games!

Interestingly, Brood Brothers units have all been taken out of the Codex. So, no Cult Chimeras, no Cult Leman Russ, the Fragdrill has gone (I think the model has also been discontinued?) and we now have something more like a pure Cults book. Which is good, I think. A lot of Cult armies that I’ve seen have got so much Guard in them, between the Cult stuff from previous Codexes, and then allied detachments, that they have pretty much killed the feel of the Cult. Now, a Genestealer Cult detachment is going to be entirely Genestealer Cult models.

Oh, and Genestealers themselves now get Cult Creeds, so that’s a big one!

This is undoubtedly going to be simply the first blog of many where I get to play with my totally ordinary, totally normal mining guys, so do stay tuned for more!  

What’s Going On?

Hey everybody,
It feels like it’s been a while since I had a catch-up blog here, though it’s not exactly like things have been hectic or anything, so I’m not sure what’s up with that. At any rate, November is quickly slipping away and it won’t be too long before I’m here with my penultimate Retrospective post of the year! That said, I thought it might be nice to just take five minutes and ramble about what’s been going on, almost to move me along with some things so that the Retrospective post will actually be a decent read!

I’ve been very heavily immersed in weird tales the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reading a wide variety of weird fiction by many contemporaries of HP Lovecraft, and have also made an early start on reading more by the man himself, stay tuned for a blog coming next week on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward! It’s always nice to read some of these stories at this time of year, as it seems really cosy and whatnot, now that the days are shorter and colder. Just the ticket for reading about weird and fantastical goings-on!

Perhaps inevitably, then, I have returned my attentions to the LCG, and have built up a couple of decks for tackling The Innsmouth Conspiracy! I finally picked up the first mythos pack for the cycle a good few weeks ago now, after feeling a bit disappointed during its release that I couldn’t play it because of missing that pack. I’ve had the Stella Clark pre-built deck sleeved up for about 12 months now, but after a half-hearted attempt with her and Winifred Habbamock at the Excelsior Hotel, which felt like it was going nowhere fast, I have changed the deck a little bit, including some cards which I think (hope!) will play better with my overall plans for her. I’ve paired her with Zoey Samaras from The Dunwich Legacy, too, as I had read on reddit that she was a decent companion. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter a great deal, as my pair of Daisy and Ashcan Pete for the Carcosa cycle really shouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as it turned out!

I’ve retired my idea of playing Trish and Agnes with the standalone scenarios, as well, favouring instead the idea of playing a proper cycle (I have enough of the unplayed, after all!) and slotting in some of the standalone stuff when I feel like it. We’ll see how that goes, anyway! For now, though, I’m very excited to be getting into another campaign for the winter season!

While I might be poised to start playing the Arkham Horror LCG once more, I have for now turned my attentions back to Warhammer 40k, and to the Grey Knights, no less! It’s another of my winter traditions, it seems, to be thinking about the incorruptible Chapter 666, and for the last couple of years I’ve been reading the novels in the Grey Knights omnibus. Hammer of Daemons is the third in the trilogy, and while I’ve only just started to read it, I am quite excited already to be seeing where this one goes!

I didn’t really get very far at all with my Grey Knights last year, in terms of painting them, so it’ll be interesting to see what progress is made this year, if any! I don’t think I’m going to be getting rid of these chaps anytime soon, though. I haven’t yet picked up the codex, unfortunately, but I’ve been hearing some very interesting things about how they play now in 9th edition, so I am curious to see what I can do with them on the table.

After basically taking October off in terms of painting, I have once more been painting miniatures, both Necrons and Genestealer Cults – my dreams of a 500 point force fully painted by the end of the year are still alive, people! I’m hard at work on another 10-man Neophyte squad, although I have somehow along the way also picked up the Acolyte Iconward, and the Clamavus, both of which I’m also painting as I go. It’s been quite the slog, if I’m honest, but I’m trying to make myself do a little bit each day, and so far, as you can see, they’re not looking totally terrible. I think a few more sessions can see the squad finished, if not the two characters, as well. Fingers crossed!

My biggest, and most exciting news, though, is finally getting in a game of 40k this year! Necrons vs Chaos Space Marines, me and my buddy JP back gaming, even if neither of us was really clear on the rules and spent the first 4 hours of our game day just talking about nonsense and general catching-up. We played one full round, after which I think I was ahead on points, though it was getting pretty late for a school night and we had to call it a day around midnight. A lot of fun was had, a lot of hobby love was rekindled, and we’re intending to play again soon, hopefully with the same armies and terrain set-up! Much to my chagrin, I hadn’t really looked at the models I brought with me, so ended up with a mixed squad of Immortals representing all-tesla chaps. So I’ve been building up five more Immortals, all-tesla, all the time. That will give me a massive blob of 40 Immortals, 20 each of gauss and tesla.

It actually prompted me to look into the possibility of an all-gunline Necron army, using the models that I either have ready or have on the to-build or to-paint pile. I can squeeze almost 2000 points of this stuff out of Immortals and Warriors, Tomb Blades, and the supporting artillery of a Doomsday Ark, an Annihilation Barge and a Triarch Stalker. Interesting… maybe one day I might try it!

I do like the Tomb Blades though, even if they are just horrendous models to build and to paint! I’ve got five tesla bikes, and three gauss bikes, all of which need painting, but I think I might make more of an effort with these at some point, because they have been a tremendous threat on the table – not because they’re particularly amazing, but their speed makes them look like a threat, so they formed a fairly decent distraction while the Praetorians I brought went up the other side of the table and ended up with Slay the Warlord between their pistol attacks and voidblades!

Despite seeing some really curious comments about Necrons being underpowered online, I thought that the new codex made them perform really well in the partial game we played a fortnight ago. However, I suppose that is against an army that is still using an 8th edition book.

Fingers crossed we can get in that rematch game soon, anyway! Stay tuned for more Genestealer Cults updates, and the exciting start of my Innsmouth Conspiracy campaign!!

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!

Could it be Tyranids?

Hey everybody,
With the world opening up now, and I’m potentially inching closer towards sanity once more on the parenthood front, I’ve been talking about 40k once again with my buddy JP, and the potential for games maybe this autumn. Possibly. September/October time is forever set in my heart as the time of year, all those moons ago, when I first got into the grim darkness of the far future, and while traditionally it might be more closely associated with the Necrons, I do also have a very strong attraction to the Tyranids, who were getting a fairly substantial plastic update at the time. Ah, memories!

With the current storyline set in the Octarius sector, with Tyranids and Orks going up against each other, it’s got me thinking about my own bug list from years gone by, and how I think the time has come to get some serious effort in with these chaps.

Massive dioramas like these don’t really help the cause, either!

It looks like the upcoming War Zone book, Rising Tide, is set to provide an update for the faction much like Blood of Baal did during the Psychic Awakening series, although I don’t remember hearing much in the way of good things there! The recent article up on the Warhammer Community site seems to be starting strong though, with a look at the synapse ability. In 8th Edition, synapse just allowed models within 12″ of a creature with synapse the ability to auto-pass morale tests, as well as making shooting more accurate for units within 24″ of them. Now, however, synapse creatures are getting their own unique abilities, which sounds quite nice! They’re a bit like these relic abilities that you can give to certain characters as upgrades – my only frame of reference is for Necron Crypteks, but I’m sure there’s a more commonly-used term! So Broodlords give nearby models the benefit of cover, and Neurothropes give nearby models fear-like effects, for the cost of a few points. What’s more interesting is that synapse creatures extend each others’ ranges, so if another synapse unit is within range of a buffed synapse creature, units within range of that unit will also get the benefit, even though they may be outside the range of the original buffed creature.


So what about my list?

I have quite a few Tyranid units built up these days, and some of them are even painted! I know! I think I’ve only played one game with them – possibly two, though it/they happened shortly before my eldest was born, and those pre-children times are quite hazy now!

Initially, I’d intended my Tyranid list to be predominantly big bugs, with just a few bits and pieces that would form something of the bulk. I’d mainly thought about carnifexes, tyrannofexes, hive tyrants and so on, without the need for painting swarms of termagants and so on. Well, once I’d played that first game, I think the need for more bodies quickly became clear! It’s all well and good having some big chaps along, but if they get picked off (my carnifex, I seem to recall, performed admirably in true “distraction” style, and died before doing anything) there’s much less you can do with your guys.

I also have a lot of genestealers, from a variety of sources, so that helps!

Adjusting for 9th edition, the army that I brought with me back in 2019 is somewhere in the region of 1300 points (it wasn’t quite to the level that I’d originally hoped!). It’s gone up quite a lot, mainly I suppose because of the amount of adrenal glands that everyone is using. However, the list was made very much with the multiple detachment style of 8th edition in mind, and of course we’re now free from those restraints, so I’ve been looking at mixing things up a bit!

I’m going for a 1500-point list, but I’m leaving myself a cushion at the moment with which to potentially pay for some of those tasty upgrades that I mentioned. So the core of this is basically the list I used last time. No Termagants, but another bunch of Genestealers (I said I have lots!) as well as the pair of Carnifexes and the Maleceptor as some pretty hefty creatures. I think I had a Trygon in here last time, but the cost is just too much for me at the minute, with all the other increases. I could probably drop some of the adrenal glands, but I do just love the mental picture of a carnifex running up the field and smashing into the enemy, followed up the field by a whole bunch of other warrior organisms. Wonderful stuff, for sure!

I’m playing Hive Fleet Gorgon, so that lets me re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the fight phase. As such, I want to get as many people into close combat as possible, particularly the genestealers and carnifexes. I’m paying for guns on the warriors and feel like they’ll be a waste in combat, but I guess we’ll have to see. As far as psychic abilities go, I’m still not entirely sure how to get the best out of the bugs, but I’m hoping that I have a decent-enough spread to help me out!

Interesting choice, perhaps, but I’m giving the warlord slot to the Broodlord. Of the three HQ options, he’s pretty much the middle of the road slot, and given the warlord trait wants him to be in the thick of the fray, you’d think I’d have instead gone for the Hive Tyrant with that trait, as he’s a much tankier unit. His relic will increase his toughness to 6 after the first fight phase in which he takes a wound, though, and with 6 wounds anyway, with a 5+ invuln, I’m hoping that I can pick my battles well enough that he is either going to do well, or survive enough that he can wreck face. The warlord trait only affects enemy units within 1″, though, so my initial idea of having him screened by genestealers (to which he gives +1 to hit rolls) won’t quite work.

It’s quite exciting, I think, having this little project to return to. I’ve not really painted up a lot of these guys so far, but from having started to paint those few models already, I seem to recall it’s a fairly quick and easy scheme to do. So I’m hoping that, as time allows, I’ll be able to get a fair few more miniatures painted up and ready for the gaming table!

As always, stay tuned for more excited rambling as Project Tyranids gets underway!!

The Adepta Sororitas!

Hey everybody,
It seems to have been a while! Real life has, sadly, been intruding once more, as we count down the weeks until the birth of my second-born, and with just 5 weeks to go, I suppose it’s inevitable that I won’t have the time to do as much on the blog here! For the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been looking at my Adepta Sororitas army, the Sisters of Battle that I was initially very excited about getting my hands on, only to then flounder a bit with my search for a colour scheme. I’ve gone from wanting something like the Deathwing colours, to a traditional Order of the Sacred Rose, to now coming up with something that is pretty much entirely my own. I’m not turning into one of these folks who comes up with the lore for them, though – they’re definitely being played as Order of the Sacred Rose (unless the 9th Edition Codex changes my ideas!) but I wanted a colour scheme that I could replicate across a lot of models without much fuss.

I mean, what kind of masochist wants to paint an all-white army?!

The scheme that I’ve chosen is a pale blue, with all-grey robes and then red gun casings. I’d initially attempted green casings, but I think the red is definitely a better spot-colour for these guys. They’re still very much a work in progress for the time being, but I am finally enjoying myself working on them – much more than I was in the past!

Sisters of Battle

For the time being, I’m still working towards the list that I’d outlined back when I set out my hobby goals for 2021, though I really think it could be time for a change, especially when the second wave of new releases comes out this summer! For those of you who didn’t click the link, though, this was my first attempt at building a Sisters army:

There is a lot here that I’m probably going to change. In particular, I think I may swap out the Immolator for the new Castigator, as I do love that model. While I have both Celestians and Dominions in this list, I’ve actually been at work building the Retributor box, after having built up a solitary heavy bolter girl before leaving the rest of the box. Eventually, of course, my plan is to have the core of the army made up from the contents of the launch box from back in the day, as I think the combination of Battle Sisters and Seraphim is just a glorious one!

The Rules
Lately, though, I’ve also been spending some time trying to figure out the army rules. I’d say the 8th edition ruleset from their Codex was fairly baffling to me, when I first picked it up, due to the fact that it feels very much like 7th edition and the need for a separate rules glossary to make sense of it all. This blog will form the first of a two-part look at the army rules, as I try to get to grips with everything that is available to the Sisters.

There are three rules that almost all Adepta Sororitas units from the army have access to, which are referenced elsewhere in the book: Acts of Faith, Shield of Faith, and Sacred Rites. Acts of Faith in particular is quite the lynchpin of a lot of the force, and it has a lot of influence on other stuff like warlord traits and stratagems.

Acts of Faith is a mechanic that uses Miracle Dice, of which you gain one at the start of each battle round. In addition, there are four other ways to gain Miracle Dice at the end of a phase – one of your units destroys an enemy unit; a CHARACTER unit from your army is destroyed; a psychic power is resisted by a unit from your army, and rolling an unmodified 1 for a Morale test. Splendid!

Miracle Dice form a pool that lasts until they are used – when you gain one, you roll a D6 and its result is the value of that dice. When you come to perform an Act of Faith, rather than rolling a dice you instead substitute it for one of your Miracle Dice, so it’s like you’re pre-selecting your dice results. You can do this for Advance rolls, Charge rolls, Deny the Witch tests, Hit rolls, Wound rolls, Saving throws, Damage rolls, or Morale tests. Importantly, if you perform an Act of Faith on a Deny the Witch test, for example, you wouldn’t then gain a Miracle Dice if the psychic power was successfully resisted. Also importantly, if you then re-roll the dice, you do not re-roll the Miracle Dice used for your Act of Faith; so it’s important to differentiate which dice are which.

You can only perform one Act of Faith in each phase – so you couldn’t substitute Miracle Dice in for the hit, wound and damage rolls in a single shooting phase, for instance. However, there are a bevy of rules that do interact with this stuff, such as the Simulacrum (standard-bearer) model in a unit allowing you to perform an Act of Faith even if you’ve already done so in that phase. Several units come with Incensor Cherubs, which allow you to gain one Miracle Dice but roll 2D6 and choose which one you want. My chosen Order, the Order of the Sacred Rose, as the ability to regain Miracle Dice on a 5+ once a unit has performed an Act of Faith. It’s quite the integral mechanic for the army, and it had been bothering me that I had been getting a bit confused by how it works until I recently sat down and properly drilled down into the Codex at last!

This is massively different from the last rendition of the rule, which was a bit like a suite of Psychic Powers, where there were different Acts with different effects, and you had to roll a dice to see if it goes off. You could attempt to perform these Acts by spending “Faith points”, the number of which was based on the number of units in the army.

Shield of Faith is a rule that grants a 6+ invuln save, but also turns each unit with the ability into an anti-psyker unit, allowing them to take Deny the Witch tests. They only roll a single D6, though, rather than 2D6, so if an enemy psyker rolled 6+ on their psychic power roll, it’s not going to do anything. However, the Battle Sisters have got undying faith in the Emperor, so they aren’t so easy to overcome! There is a stratagem that allows the unit to resist the psychic power on a 4+, regardless.

Sacred Rites is an additional army-wide rule that grants one of six effects for the whole battle. At the start of the battle, you can either choose one or roll 2D6 for two random ones, and they’re in effect until the end. There is a stratagem for 1CP to change the rite, as well, giving some control over it. Similar to the Space Marines combat doctrines (although it makes me think most of the Grey Knight Tides).

The effects of these Sacred Rites are not particularly overwhelming, but can be extremely useful based on the type of army that you’re running. One allows you to add 1 to advance and charge rolls; one grants an auto-hit for a melee weapon on an unmodified roll of 6, etc. Interestingly, though, it’s the “Aegis of the Emperor” effect that has my attention: add 3 to Deny the Witch test rolls. So Shield of Faith will now only be useless if the psychic test roll was 9+. And they still have the stratagem to fall back on.

As an interesting aside, the Sacred Rites are based largely on the older Acts of Faith from earlier editions.

I imagine a Sisters army to be quite the thing to behold, when it is working in perfect sync. They have access to a lot of firepower, and although the models are only S3, they have enough tricks up their voluminous sleeves that they shouldn’t be wiped off the table without a fight.

Of course, the Codex does feel a little bit like two books in one, because there are a number of Adeptus Ministorum units folded in that feel a little bit like they’re an afterthought. When the range was re-done in plastic, these hangars-on were, for the most part, left. So Death Cult Assassins, Crusaders, Missionaries and Preachers are all still in metal, sadly. Of course, Blackstone Fortress gave us a plastic Preacher and Crusader, and Rogue Trader gave us a plastic Death Cult Assassin, but it is a shame that they’ve been left out, to some extent.

The only non-Sisters plastic re-make was the Arco-Flagellants box, which has the Adeptus Ministorum keyword, but can still be included in a Sisters army thanks to having the Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave keyword, one of which units can be included without losing the Order Conviction for your overall army. It feels a bit like they should either have also re-done these oddball units, or maybe just forgotten about them entirely?

Anyway, I should probably stop rambling now, and go paint some more Sisters! Make sure to come back later in the week for part two though, when I continue to delve into the Codex and look at how I can start to build out my army. I’ll also try to bring further updates to my painting adventures as I get further along with the army, so stay tuned!!

Happy Solstice

Hey everybody,
Christmas is approaching, for those of you with the inclination, but the recent announcements over lockdowns in the UK has seemingly put a damper on things. This is as much as I’ll talk about with politics, of course, as I try to make this blog more of a haven from such things, but I think I’ll probably be posting a lot over the coming days as I try to take my mind off things – and, hopefully, yours, too!

It was my birthday on Friday, and I had a decent haul of Arkham Horror LCG stuff, which was great! I mean, a couple of those bits I’d kept back from recent purchases, such as the Dexter Drake novella and Guardians of the Abyss. I think the birthday haul is pretty indicative of what is on my radar right now, though – between the card game and Necromunda! I haven’t had a proper chance to do more than flick through House of Artifice, but I’m looking forward to digesting that over the coming days! I do want to get another game of Necromunda in at some point, even if it is by myself, because I’m really hooked right now!

I have started to play Lord of the Rings again, though, thinking that I’d start off with Passage Through Mirkwood, the introductory scenario. And it absolutely brutalised me! I had a very bad series of draws from the encounter deck, and playing two-handed was obviously increasing the cards seen over the course of the game, but jeez!

There are a couple of things that I want to mention here, of course. First of all, playing two-handed is actually a real joy. I had the odd moment of “where am I up to?” of course, but those tended to be in the late game where a lot was going on, already. I think perhaps playing two investigators in Arkham Horror has prepared me well for this one, and I think in part that, in comparison, Lord of the Rings is definitely a much simpler game. It surprised me because there is a much more linear plan for the game: you do the same thing round after round, and the variety of it all comes from the different cards being revealed from the encounter deck. Having played a lot of Arkham Horror lately, which has got that element of a board game from having investigators moving around different locations, and the RPG feel of leveling-up cards etc, it gives for a much more complex game. While there are those elements in common, such as effectively playing against the encounter deck and such, it really surprised me that I had that feeling!

Of course, the decks that I was playing were not really built for this way of playing – each one was effectively a solo deck, so they could have dealt with the majority of the game by themselves. As such, I think I could tweak the decks back to dual-sphere and have each one cover the other better.

Interestingly, I went back to basics on this one as well, and read through the instruction manual, as well as watching the tutorial stuff again, and tried to get it right. Back when I first started playing this game, in 2011, I had incorporated a couple of house rules I suppose, to make it more manageable for actual solo play, and I just kept playing it that way. The ‘Basic Game’ as explained in the rulebook does suggest not revealing shadow cards while you get into it, and I’ve played that way pretty much ever since! I was also playing the game whereby if I had optionally engaged an enemy, I would attack it first rather than allowing for all enemies to attack me first, regardless of who engaged who. In my mind, it made sense that I would be able to do this, because otherwise it’s the equivalent of going up to someone for a fight, and letting them hit you first? Of course, there are player cards that allow you to dodge attacks and the like, but it always struck me as really odd that I couldn’t natively attack first when it was my choice to engage with that enemy!

Anyhow, playing the game correct, I thought, would be a lot of work, but as it happened the first game was over in 5 rounds, as I was just unable to overcome the threats in the staging area, due to bad draws from both the encounter and player decks! Any allies that I had were dying to enemy attacks as I threw them under the bus to just try to deal damage to the enemies engaged with me, but as time went on, I had to throw my heroes at them as defenders, meaning I was in a holding pattern of doom until round 5, when four of my six heroes were killed off. It was shocking!

I did later that same day play again, after briefly considering trying out the official Easy Mode of removing some of the encounter cards, but in the end went for a straightforward shuffle-up-and-reset, and I managed to prevail. The game was a lot longer than I’d expected, though I think that was in part because of the two-handed thing, but also simply because I was trying to defeat Ungoliant’s Spawn, which was the fourth card from the bottom of the deck. Still playing without shadow cards, I wasn’t drawing as many encounter cards as perhaps I could have been!

It’s interesting though, to me, that playing without shadow cards can be such a dual-edged sword; on the one hand, you’re potentially buffing enemies when they can already be a bit unwieldy, but almost in return you get to cycle through the encounter deck quicker, and can potentially avoid having so many locations or so many enemies coming into play. I suppose this is something to think about when we’re talking about implementing house rules or whatever – the game has been tested to play in a certain way, and is as balanced as possible based on its own rules. Adding to these, or changing things, can tip that balance and sometimes lead to a less-than-optimum experience. Certainly something I need to bear in mind when I’m complaining about “how tough is this game?!”

Lord of the Rings LCG

I’m still going to be playing through one of these cycles over the Christmas period – at least one, maybe more! – so look forward to hearing more of my musings as I properly get back into what I have always been calling my favourite game!

I picked up the latest White Dwarf this morning and, as I have the day off (yay!) I had a fairly leisurely breakfast while flicking through its pages. There’s a lot of Age of Sigmar stuff in there, which I kinda glossed over because I’m not big into Spiderfang Grots, but I was reading Robin Cruddace’s column on the new 40k rules, and it was quite interesting to see why they changed some of the rules from 8th to 9th edition.

I’ve talked briefly about this recently, but in some ways I think 9th edition coming out in the middle of a global pandemic, when there are so many restrictions in place that the GW stores themselves can’t even run demos of the game or have people in there for any longer than absolutely necessary, does seem to be a bit of a swing and a miss. Any sort of excitement around the new edition has been, for me, tempered by the fact that I couldn’t immediately play it, and the few games that I have managed to play since it arrived were a weird sort of hodge-podge of rules, in part because I was playing an 8th edition codex in a new game. Granted, it wasn’t massively different, though for something like Necrons, trying to play with the army when Reanimation Protocols had changed, but we didn’t have the rest of the rules yet, was such a weird experience. Now, I know plenty of other folks will have been through the pain barrier between editions where they’re using a book from an edition or two ago, but it’s difficult to get my head around!

It’s curious, although perhaps not totally unexpected, to see how I’ve almost gone off 40k in recent weeks. I think the lack of any outlet to play has a lot to do with this, as I’ve got no real motivation to paint anything up while there’s no end in sight to these lockdowns! I’ve moved into solo-able games so much that 40k has almost been left behind, but I do think it’s about time I used some of the down-time to get some projects finished, so that I can play with fully painted models when this is all over! I’m sure there’ll be more on this to come in the next couple of weeks – if only from the now-inevitable Hobby Resolutions blog! Now is not the time for a retrospective on that one, of course, but it’s definitely been a mixed bag in 2020, with some successes as well as some that have fallen by the wayside. Stay tuned for that blog, coming up sometime next week, no doubt!