Court of the Archon

So, I’ve finally finished up the Court of the Archon for my Dark Eldar/Drukhari army, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they all look together on the tabletop now!

 
We have the full Court here: from left to right, we have the Lhamaean, the Sslyth, the Archon himself, the Ur-ghul, and the Medusae. I’ll go into each of these in a little while.
 
While I had included a Lhamaean in my army pretty much from its inception, I hadn’t really thought about including the rest of the Court, principally because they look just so damn weird! But, as time has gone on, I’ve seen the value in having so many ablative wounds for the Archon, and the weirdness can also be really fun, so I was happy to pop the whole lot in there. 
 
Some (recent) history
The Court of the Archon is something that, from what I can tell, has been around forever. A mercenary band of bodyguards for the big cheese, I do enjoy the idea that they are assembled by the Archon who is too paranoid to trust his regular Kabalite Warriors to guard him during a battle. Slaves and pets, these retainers are so broken by the Archon’s will that they would rather die a hundred times over than see their master fall – it’s so very, very Dark Eldar, don’t you think?
 

Back in 7th edition, each Court model could be taken in the HQ slot, though for each Archon in the detachment, up to one Court would not take up a slot in the Force Org Chart. While that in itself is pretty good, as they were fairly cheap HQs to take if you felt the need for some within your list, a Court of the Archon was actually made up of between 1 and 12 of the models in any combination! For 300 points, you could take 12 Sslyth, if you felt the need! What’s more, they could take a Raider as a dedicated transport, which allowed for the unholy combination of 2 Archons and 8 Sslyth transported inside the Raider, or the Sslyth Party Bus as it became known… 
 
Looking further back to 5th/6th edition, this is a significant improvement, where you had to take at least one of each model in the retinue (though if you included Sslyths there, hits against the unit were resolved using his Toughness rather than the other models. Looking at it based on this, the 7th edition Codex added so much more flexibility to the unit (though, the 7th edition Codex was generally quite flexible anyway – shame it was outclassed so quickly, because there was actually a great deal to enjoy in that book, and I will always have a soft spot for it!)
 
The Index changed their slot to Elite, and limited us so that we could only take a Court of four models for each Archon without using a slot. Now, in the new 8th edition Codex, we’re still limited to four models for matched play, and they can only be taken if you also include an Archon in your detachment. There is still some flexibility in that you can take, for example, four Medusae along with the Archon (although the rule of three would technically prevent that, but anyway). 
 
The 8th edition Codex is a bit weird in how prescriptive it is, though – but that’s the subject for another blog…
 
 
So what do these models do?
In the main, Court of the Archon models are melee units that are almost designed to defend your Archon in a defensive cordon, preventing enemy units from targeting him in the shooting phase, and from charging him in the fight phase. The Sslyth are perhaps the most valued for being Strength and Toughness 5, whereas the others are all Toughness 3 so tend to fold easily, especially against dedicated melee fighters. Sslyth are also notable for being able to take shardcarbines, a fairly decent yet overlooked poison weapon that can only otherwise be taken by Scourges. Sadly, the Sslyth lost a wound between the Index and the Codex.
 
Ur-ghul are truly hideous creatures of nightmare, whose brutal ferocity knows no bounds within the lore. Within the game, this translates to a flurry of attacks whenever the model charges – six attacks on the charge is fairly good for a 15 point model, but Strength 4 means he’s not going to be particularly standing-out. But I do feel the Ur-ghul embodies what the Court is all about – distraction units to draw the attention away from the Archon they’re guarding. 
 
Lhamaeans are the mistresses of poison, and lore-wise, an Archon will always seek to have such a creature close at hand to distill the finest venoms for his weaponry. The poisonous Shaimeshi blade carries a toxin so deadly it can cause the brain to swell until it bursts from the skull, or the skin of a victim to begin eating itself – “even a kiss blown upon the wind by a Lhamaean can kill in seconds”. And the model really embodies that air of deadly, sinister effectiveness, the way she’s holding the blade in a reverse-grip as she stalks slowly towards her prey… In game, we’ve got a fairly-decent melee unit that is more often than not killed before she can do anything. At least, in my experience! I’ve taken her a few times now, and when I remember to use her, she just seems to whiff. On paper, adding 2 to wound rolls and dealing out additional mortal wounds on 6+ should be really good, especially with all the myriad other buffs that can affect her such as Power from Pain and the Archon’s aura of re-rolling hits of 1 (or all failed hits if she’s even closer to the boss). For me, however, I’ve never managed to get that perfect storm running. Interestingly, the Lhamaean has lost her splinter pistol in the transition from Index to Codex.
 
Finally, we have the Medusae, a weird emotional parasite native to the webway that Archons find particularly useful, as their strange powers of storing up extreme emotions during a battle allow their masters to later re-live the torments and agonies suffered by their foes. Basically a jellyfish-like collection of brains and spinal cord, the Medusae is kind of hilarious when you think that it is this weird brain-like creature that has taken over the body of another. The second Court model that has a ranged weapon, the Medusae can open its host’s visor to unleash “a wave of raw anguish, plunging (the enemy) into a coma from which there is no recovery”. Formerly an Assault 1 flamer, it is now a much better Assault 4 attack with 1″ extra range compared with an actual flamer in 8th edition, though notably is not affected by the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose’s Obsession.
 
They are definitely fun models, and I think aside from the Sslyth, which is only taken for his bodyguard ability, none of these are taken in a competitive environment. But the Court as a whole is a unit dripping with theme, and I am really chuffed to have finally gotten all of them painted up and ready for action. In their first outing, they managed to keep my Archon alive, so what more do I want?!

Drukhari tactical thoughts

Hey everybody!
Last week, I finally got to have my first game with the new Drukhari Codex – well, it’s not all that new anymore, I guess! I had tried a very small scale game on the August bank holiday, but this was a 1500-point match with the new Ork Codex, as we were both somewhat getting used to the way these armies play now that they have their own books.

My first thoughts are still that the Drukhari army is difficult to make work now that we’re forced to keep detachments focused in either Kabal, Cult or Coven in order to benefit from the Obsessions. I mean, sure, there is the Raiding Party rule that allows you to take Patrol detachments of each, so you can technically field whatever you want that way, but the HQ and troop requirement there becomes a tax if all you want to do is take some Reavers or some Hellions along with the rest of the force. Don’t get me wrong, it’s thematic as all hell, but I wish there were some kind of way they could implement it where, say, up to three non-Kabal units could be included in a Kabal detachment and not break it for Obsessions (those non-Kabal units just wouldn’t benefit from those Obsessions). I’ve come a long way from my very first thoughts on the book!

I took a Kabal battalion and a Coven battalion, and really fancied taking maybe a squad of Hellions or a squad of Reavers, but didn’t want to do so in an auxiliary slot and lose a command point for it. Like I say, I love the theme they’ve brought out here, but I really dislike how restrictive it can be.

It can also be confusing as all hell, as you try to juggle the Coven-specific or Kabal-specific stratagems among the army. While in one respect it’s really no different from a Space Marines army that has a detachment of Ultramarines and a detachment of White Scars, it goes broader than the Chapter Tactics style of things, as you have to remember what buffs affect what units. At least, I found it quite confusing!

At any rate, this isn’t meant to be a rant about the state of things with the new book! Rather, I wanted to take a look through my current thoughts about the army, and see where I want to take things in 2019… So join me as I take a look through the Codex, and effectively build in real-time a list that may or may not make me re-think my ideas about how the Dark Eldar have been straightjacketed into a specific playstyle for 8th edition! This is going to be a long post; I don’t think I’ve written this much on the Dark Kin since saying goodbye to the Index back in April…

Dark Eldar

I’ve mentioned before how I feel that 8th edition seems to be a lot about the horde style of army, and this is partly due to the way that troops have been brought back to the fore. No longer a tax, troops are actually quite good, and I feel this is nothing but a good thing for myself, as I love the miniatures aspect of this miniatures game. I don’t go in for a lot of hulking behemoths or whatever! But 8th edition is also a lot about the overlapping auras, and I’ve been thinking about both of these aspects as I’ve gone about re-writing my lists for my Dark Eldar army.

Lastly, I think it’s important to look at the Stratagems available to the Dark Eldar when building a list. To some extent this is obvious when writing an army list, but there are a wide variety of Dark Eldar Stratagems that can be very important to the overall game plan, whereas other armies might only want to use a couple of them multiple times.

Building a List
First of all, then, I’ve picked a unit that I think it would be cool to build the list around. This has previously been my starting point when building my Necron army list, as it provides a good basis to get the rest of the army going.

For this list, that unit is the Ravager. Equipped with three disintegrator cannons, bladevanes and a shockprow, the idea behind this is that the Ravager will fire all three cannons in the shooting phase, before charging into melee with its three attacks before falling back and shooting in the next phase. In a 2000 point list, 126 points isn’t that considerable a sink, considering a lot of Dark Eldar units are actually quite cheap, so it isn’t going to break my heart if this unit doesn’t survive very long.

Dark Eldar Incubi

The idea of a Ravager charging into melee got me thinking about that perhaps being able to take Overwatch in order to allow a melee orientated unit also get into the fight. I recently picked up some Incubi, so have been considering these, as a squad of five chaps will make 16 attacks in close combat. Previously, I’d been intending to use some kitbashed Wood Elves for my Incubi, but I’ve decided that I want to use the actual models now, even if they are finecast!

Their weapons look slightly unimpressive on paper, as strength 4 on a close combat specialist feels just average, but the four attacks made by the Klaivex have the potential to deal 3 damage each, if the roll made for them is 6+. They only have the DRUKHARI keyword, so can’t benefit from any of the auras dished out by the Archon, but they do have their own stratagem, Onslaught, which makes each unmodified 6 to hit score two attacks rather than one. So there is potential there, I feel. They do also benefit nicely from Drazhar being nearby, getting +1 to hit within 6″ of him, but for now I am leaving him out of the list. A squad of 5 is 80 points, so again, they will slot into my 2000-point list nicely.

Okay, so I’ve got a Ravager going around the field, being followed by Incubi, but they will obviously need transport to keep up with the assault boat. I’m going to stick them in a Venom – there will no doubt be a lot of these skimmers in the list – but I’m keeping it cheap with only one splinter cannon, and then the stock twin splinter rifle and bladevanes. I think this vehicle will be primarily a transport taxi, and just deliver its payload before zooming off around the battlefield doing whatever is required.

So we’re looking at something around 270 points so far, which is fine. Now for some of the more general stuff. Kabalite Warriors.

I’ve probably said this before, but if I was forced to only ever paint one unit forever, it would be endless Kabalite Warriors. This kit is quite beautiful, and while this is going to sound incredibly arrogant, I’m really pleased with the paint job that I have achieved on my guys so far!

While there are plenty of options available to them with the new Codex, I still like to keep them fairly basic and cheap, as they will die so easily. I wouldn’t say I use them as a screen per se, but I do field Warriors much as a suicide unit if the enemy is getting a bit too close to me. I had a phase where I was putting dark lances in the squad, but when a weapon costs more than three times the points of the person wielding it, you have to think twice!

For my first squad, I’m giving the Sybarite a blast pistol and agoniser, and a phantasm grenade launcher. It’s a fairly standard load-out for me, I think, but I particularly like the grenade launcher for allowing me to use the Torment Grenades Stratagem. I like to kit out my Warriors for weight of fire, and so have included both a splinter cannon and a shredder, with the rest wielding the generic splinter rifles, for a grand total of 95 points. It’s a fairly decent squad size and cost, I think  – any troops choice that ends up below 100 points is alright in my book! Though naturally, you can’t take Warriors without popping them in a Raider, as that is just the absolute requirement of a Dark Eldar force! All of my Raiders are so far equipped with dark lances, bladevanes and splinter racks, and so the transport costs as much as the Warriors within. But that’s alright.

Splinter racks are a new upgrade in the Codex that allow you to score 2 hits instead of 1 when you roll a 6+ to hit with a splinter rifle or pistol from within the Raider. Something that I generally forget about (even though I remember to roll for the splinter cannon separately, I forget why I’m doing it!) it’s a really handy upgrade that will, hopefully, allow some shots to explode – especially when we’re throwing fists full of dice in Rapid Fire range.

I like to use the Fire and Fade stratagem with my Raiders, for a proper Drukhari Drive-By, getting up close for the Rapid Fire, then moving 7″ away afterwards. While Enhanced Aethersails is a useful one for also getting the vehicle into close range, it needs to Advance, and I don’t think I want to put myself at -1 to hit as a result of that, so tend to leave this one alone.

When looking for stuff that will buff the army, it is very difficult due to the subdivisions within the force. Normally, you might expect to find an elite unit that would also grant some sort of aid to the troops units, but there are no <Kabal> elite choices, meaning the only thing outside of Stratagems and Power from Pain that affects Kabalite units is the Archon, who allows re-rolls to hit rolls of 1. Which would be fine, and is a lot better than the Index Archon, who merely allowed nearby units to use his Leadership, but most of the time, units are embarked within transports, so I feel there is something lacking for the army here. However, being a Dark Eldar player means playing around handicaps like this, and so we move on!

I want a couple more mobile squads of Kabalite Warriors, so I’m going to include two more, both of them in Raiders. I think, at some point, I’ll start putting disintegrator cannons on my boats, but for the time being, I’m keeping it all darklight, all the time.

My second Kabalite squad will be built along similar lines to the first, with a splinter cannon for horde control, another shredder, but this time I’m also including a blaster – something else the Codex allows now is for up to two special weapons as well as a heavy weapon – while the Sybarite is going to have just a splinter pistol and agoniser. Mixing it up like this is only four more points than the first squad, so it’s not too bad.

For the third unit, I’m again using a splinter cannon and a shredder, but I’m keeping it cheap and not going fancy with my Sybarite. Doing this brings the cost of the squad down to just 78 points, which is quite useful, and gives a better target for the Raider’s splinter racks.

We need to talk about HQs for a moment, and I’m going quite fancy here, using not only an Archon but also taking his entire Court! The Archon is going to be quite standard, having a splinter pistol and huskblade, but will be kitted out for melee through the use of Warlord Traits, etc. He’s taking a full Court, which is a fascinating collection of units that I feel deserve their own blog, so keep an eye out for that one, coming soon! They’re basically going to be ablative wounds for the Archon, at any rate, and all of them will be riding around in their own command Venom. (I wish that were an actual upgrade you could give to the Venom, but sadly it isn’t…)

So far, the army totals 1059 points, and can be taken entirely within a Kabal detachment. Fantastic!

Now then, this is where I think things may get interesting, as I’m quite torn between sticking with my usual Coven build, or else going down the route of Wych Cults. I don’t have many of the latter models painted up, and I’m not honestly sure of what I’m doing with them. Covens, on the other hand, have long been favourites, and I have a significant number built and ready.

At the start of the year, I wanted to go into the Cult route, and had planned almost a biker army of Reavers – I think I built up a dozen jetbikes, but have so far only started to work on three of them. I’ve also given thought to including masses of Wyches with Hellion/Reaver support.

Wych Cults are definitely an avenue that I want to explore with the army. However, I think I need more experience with the Cults before I can think about them too critically. For the time being, then, I’m going to stick with my Coven delights.

The two Coven Monsters, Talos and Cronos, are both delightful models that I have enjoyed since the Codex supplement gave us the delightful Dark Artisan formation. The Talos has recently gotten quite the reputation at tournament level, and I’m expecting to see something happen to it in this year’s Chapter Approved, but for now at least, I’m happy to keep going with my current build.

I’ve got two Talos now, along with a Cronos, all three of them kitted out to try and be just monstrous. The second Talos I built late last year has a stinger pod and twin liquifier gun, in an attempt to be a bit more anti-horde (each weapon is Assault 2D6), while the haywire blasters on the first Talos still do some pretty decent work, even considering the way haywire changed from 7th to 8th edition. The Cronos is definitely more a support engine, as it allows all DRUKHARI to re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase. I might well go running my Cronos up with the Incubi, although his ability affecting all models in the army makes a good case for using a few more of these bad boys!

I’m taking my Haemonculus in order to make a Spearhead detachment with the three monsters, and also to make use of the Fleshcraft stratagem that gives a monster within 3″ of a Haemonculus D3 lost wounds at the end of the Movement phase. Always handy to heal your monsters, after all. To keep him a little bit safe, I’ve given the Haemonculus his own Venom, to deliver him right where I need him to ensure his Master of Pain ability will buff the Toughness of as many models as possible.

Taking advantage of the fact that I can still include troops in a Spearhead detachment, I’ll also be bringing some Wracks to the party, inside their very own Raider. This time, however, the Raider is equipped with chain-snares rather than splinter racks – bringing the cost down to 87. Well, it’s better than nothing! For the Wracks, I’m giving the Acothyst some fancy stuff: an electrocorrosive whip and a stinger pistol. We’ve also got an ossefactor in there, but I’ve foregone the second special weapon in order to keep the points down.

However, the Coven portion of the list so far only totals 625 points, so I could definitely fit some more Wracks in there! I think I’ll take my favourite sniper-Acothyst this time, with the Hexrifle and Scissorhand, though this time I may well add in a liquifier gun and keep everybody else just basic with tools. Another ten-man squad will therefore add 114 points to the detachment, but these are at least on foot.

In total, then, we’re looking at an army that totals 1798 points up to this stage, giving me just 202 points left to play with. It’s time, then, to start looking at organising the Kabal section into an actual detachment, so I’m naturally looking at a battalion here. I need another HQ, and Drazhar is just too expensive for my purposes, so I’m going to go for a second Archon.

I have actually built up the now-classic conversion, which you can see here, and he costs a grand total of 80 points (the power lance isn’t an option for him to take, in the new Codex, so he’s armed simply with a blast pistol). I’ve been considering putting another Venom into the list for him, and then just spending the left over points on Kabalite Warriors – I could include a five-man squad with another blaster, as well as a Venom with two splinter cannons to bring the total of the army up to 2000 exactly. So I might as well do that, I reckon!


So I’ve got two distinct detachments, and have ended up with an army that is remarkably similar to my 1500 force that I used last week! I still need to paint up some units for it, of course, but in the main, it’s pretty basic stuff! I think there are just six units that I need to actually paint (and, in the case of the Incubi, build), and potentially some of the special weapons within the Kabalite Warriors squads, so with a bit of luck, it shouldn’t be too much work in the new year to get this going.

For the Kabal, I am of course going Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, which increases the range on all of my Assault, Heavy and Rapid Fire weapons by 6″. This has proven to be incredibly useful so far, especially for the Rapid Fire stuff, though there were several instances where getting the extra range was really good for my shredders as well. My Warlord is the Archon with the Huskblade, and rather than giving him the Deathly Perfectionist trait, I’ve chosen to give him Soul Thirst, to get +1 Attack on the charge, and allowing him to regain 1 lost wound when he slays an enemy model in combat. I did say he was going to be built for combat! He’s also getting the relic, replacing his splinter pistol with the Parasite’s Kiss, which gives it an extra shot, -2AP and an extra point of damage, as well as adding 2 to the wound rolls for it. If that wasn’t enough, he can also regain 1 lost wound when he kills an enemy model with the weapon. Nice!

For the Covens, I’m going Coven of Twelve, which improves the AP of all melee weapons by 1. There are 27 melee weapons spread among my Coven, with the electrocorrosive whip and macro scalpels being the worst at -2AP, so they’re now -3AP, but all of my Wracks now have -1AP on their haemonculus tools, and my Wracks will be making 42 attacks in total! That’s before we factor in the monsters and the Haemonculus, not forgetting the Venom and Raider are both classed as Coven of Twelve units! Delicious!

Dark Eldar

For all this, however, the army at its heart is, I feel, still a very Dark Eldar army. In the new year, I want to work on writing a Wych Cult list that will be able to slot in, directly replacing the Coven portion of this list, but I feel there will be a lot of theory-crafting needed before I can comfortably work on that. Aside from the Reavers, I’ve only used Cult units once, and I seem to remember the Hellions as being the most interesting part of that. I’ve got 739 points to play with, give or take, so it will be interesting to see what I can do on that side of the fence!

Anyway, this blog has run a little too long, I feel – hopefully it’s been at least mildly entertaining and/or informative! I still think it’s pretty hilarious to think that I spent so much time complaining about how restrictive list-building is with the new Codex, then proceeded to build a list that was really quite straightforward to produce, as well as remarkably similar to the sorts of lists I’ve been building all year since the book landed. Obviously I’ve become inured to the suffering of having to force my army into these constraints!

Bank Holiday Painting Extravaganza!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a Bank Holiday painting extravaganza for me this weekend! Having two days pretty much to myself, as the other half was in work, I’ve managed to make some amazing progress with clearing the backlog!

Necron Immortals

First up, I’ve added five more Immortals to my new Thokt Dynasty that I was talking about the other day, giving me now two troops choices, an HQ and an Elites slot, along with a dedicated transport. Hooray! I’ve bitten the bullet and listed a lot of my older Necrons on ebay this weekend, in the hope that it prompts me to really make the effort and paint my current batch of unpainted models. If nothing else, I really want to get the Catacomb Command Barge and a third squad of Immortals painted (tesla this time), and then I’ll have the first Battalion ready! That’s also going to be well on the way to my first list finished, so we’ll see how far I can get with that… It only took me five months to get round to painting these, after all!

Dark Eldar Ravager

Much like last weekend, I’ve been painting a mixture of Necrons and Dark Eldar, my true 40k loves! This weekend, I’ve managed to get the second Ravager finished – something that, annoyingly, I’d been very close to for a long time anyway, as I’d done the main hull back in April. The crew are finished, though, along with the crew for the next Raider that I’ll be working on, so that’s a very positive step!

Dark Eldar Kabalites

I’ve also finished off four infantry chaps, in the main because I had a game today and wanted to try out some different things! I’d built up all of these guys back in January, when I was building a lot of Dark Eldar as I was waiting for the Codex to drop, but have finally gotten round to painting them up. I’d picked the two blaster-wielding chaps to finish as I was painting the Ravager crew anyway, but now I need to get moving with another batch of Kabalite Warriors. I have a lot of these guys, as it happens, as I’d originally build up enough to get myself two full Battalions of pure Kabal. Then the Rule of Three came out, and without Drazhar, there aren’t enough HQs to now do this and keep the Kabal Obsession. So I lost interest in the idea, but have now started instead to think of either a Brigade with just three Archons (not even sure if that’s possible?), or else sticking with one Kabal Battalion but having a massive unit of Warriors on foot. I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet, so we’ll see. I definitely want to get more of the special weapons peppered into my squads, so I’ll probably be working on some of those soon.

It may be nearly five months since I first picked this book up, but I have today had my first game with Codex Drukhari, and it was an absolute blast!

A chap at my local store was looking to try out an army list he’d come up with, but only at 550 points. So I set about building up a basic Patrol detachment, an HQ and two troops (ah, the old FOC!) all in vehicles: two squads of 10 Kabalite Warriors in Raiders, including a splinter cannon in one, and a blaster/agoniser in the other; in a Venom, the Archon (splinter pistol/huskblade) along with a Court of Lhamaean, Ur-ghul and Medusae. Obviously, I was playing Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, so had some pretty decent range on all my weapons.

On the Deathwatch side, there was a squad of Veterans, a squad of Terminators, and a Captain in Gravis Armour. As it happened, my opponent was as great at throwing dice as I was, so it all went quite well! Having nothing much to do against my army, as they were all in vehicles, it felt a bit one-sided, as I was able to shoot up the table from within my Raiders. I charged everybody out of the Venom just for something to do, though was quite impressed with some of the Court characters. I think I’ll look at using them more often!

While I don’t think there’s been much change between the Index and the Codex, the addition of Obsessions is definitely something that I enjoyed. I’ve been playing about with some list ideas off and on for a while, and having been initially very keen to start a Wych Cult this year, I’m leaning more towards the Kabal/Coven lists I used to play during the Index days. So I’m busily planning to paint more stuff to make it what I hope will be a decent enough list to play, so stay tuned there!

Summer Painting Update
So, since my last update on the three armies that I’d wanted to get a move along with, I’ve done very little of any of them! Earlier this month, I had started work in earnest on the Tempestus Scions, though that was primarily for Kill Team rather than the 500-point list I’d outlined here.

The Scions haven’t advanced much at all since I took that photo, but I’m currently keeping them close on the painting table as I’m not going to write them off just yet. The Skitarii haven’t seen much of anything since I started vaguely working on the blue of the Dunecrawler back in June, either:

I blame the arrival of Kill Team and wanting to finish painting the Genestealer Cultists that I’d had one the table since way back when. Having finished a Neophyte Squad, I shouldn’t really complain, of course, but I’d really like to be further forward with a lot of these projects!

While summer may be almost over, I’m not going to be entirely writing off these goals just yet. I feel like I’ve stalled with the Tau, but I always get quite nostalgic for Necrons at this time of year, so I want to use that to get moving finally with my Great Reanimation. I also feel nostalgia for the Skitarii, so we’ll see how far I can get with those, as well! And I definitely want to paint up some more units for the Dark Eldar list I’m working on…

Painting Weekend!

Hey everybody!
Well it’s been a very exciting weekend for me, as I’ve been painting a whole load of miniatures with something close to abandon! I’ve not painted so much for a long time, and it feels great!

First of all, at the back end of last week I had hoped to get a game of 40k in at the local store, with a guy who I know has about 2k points of Deathwatch. So I’d been looking at my Dark Eldar army, which I know is well over 2k, and trying to organise myself into the usual double-battalion of Kabal and Coven. In turn, that got me looking at the box of Dark Eldar that I’ve had primed/partially painted, and pulled out a few bits to start working on. One of which, as it happens, is the glorious Razorwing Jetfighter!

I think this has been built for well over a year now, and has just been gathering dust while primed with Rhinox Hide and ready. Over the course of the weekend, I’ve managed to get the brown armour highlighted, and just need to paint the metallics on the wings to give it that razor-edged look. I’m really pleased to have it in the army, anyway, and I’m already looking forward to when I can get in a game and see how well it does!

I’ve also been working on some Court of the Archon minis – the Ur-ghul and the Medusae, both finecast minis that I’d put together a while back but hadn’t really done a great deal with. I already have a Lhamaean, and have used her a couple of times (though never managed to do anything with her, I think I’m a bit scared about getting my HQs too close into combat, though my Archon has once used a Huskblade to destroy an Ork Boss. Anyway!) I like the idea of having a Court in a Venom and just throwing it at the enemy, and seeing how well they do… Last up, then, I’ll need to get that Sslyth sorted!

I’ve not painted any Drukhari for what feels like an age – I last finished some models for the army in February – though I have got a second Ravager almost finished. I think it was probably the fact I only have one crew member left for the Ravager that prompted me to get some of these models out and start painting them again, actually.

I’ve only ever painted three Reaver jetbikes for the army, but have an absolute ton of them built from last winter, when I wanted to get moving with a Wych Cult force. I’ve used the bikes once or twice in games, and I seem to remember they did really well, so it makes sense to try some more! However, in keeping with the lore, I like the idea of having mine as small tripartite gangs of bikers joining the raiding party for a lark, and so wanted the chassis to be different colours to denote this. Having tried to get red last time, this time I thought I’d go for yellow, as it’s a colour I tend not to bother with (aside from the warheads on my smart missile systems!) So far, I think they’ve turned out really well, anyway!

The last Reavers, I managed to paint in a single session. This time around, however, I evidently have more going on, and so they’re still waiting for a few details to be finished…

Finally, this!

It’s a bit of an odd one, given I’ve been painting so much Dark Eldar, but I suppose the return of my Dark Eldar has got me thinking about even older armies, and the Necrons are a force that takes me right back to the very start of my 40k life.

I built this Night Scythe in 2015, and managed to get some of it painted in that time, but I think it was possibly the biggest model I’d painted up to that point (it was certainly the one with the most flat areas), and I was a little nervy about getting it to look good. I was also hopeless at working out a scheme for my Necron vehicles that wasn’t just basically Caliban Green, so it was consigned to oblivion all these years.

Well, last night I had trouble sleeping so, in between painting more on the Reavers, I went through my bag of unfinished Necron models to see what I had. (Yes, they were in a bag – the shame!) In addition to finding the Doomsday Ark I had built, I’ve also got an Annihilation Barge and at least one Tomb Blade that I think I can salvage for the Great Reanimation, but everything else I think will likely need to be stripped before I can go about getting it painted in my new Thokt dynasty colours. If indeed I can be bothered to do that – I’ve often been thinking it might be easier to just sell them off and then start afresh, but I’ve so far only sold off the character models that I’d painted (badly!)

All of this stuff seems to date from 2015, which is quite shocking really. I know one of the things that always keeps me going with Necrons is the idea of the implacable tide of infantry, I thought I’d done more of the war machines than this! It’s definitely time to change that, though I’m still really finding it difficult to come up with a Codex list that I actually like the look of, so I’m not yet sure how I want to play my Newcrons in 8th edition.

I came up with the above back in March when the Codex was fresh, but that is a hell of a lot of infantry, with just the Command Barge as a big thing. It’s definitely time to do more with the Necrons than just Immortals and Lychguard, but the cost of these units is kinda prohibitive, and seems to lend itself much better to large-point games. Having the flyer will, I think, be a huge thing for my force, as it acts as a transport as well, though obviously I wouldn’t want to go filling it to capacity as the way the rules work for the Night Scythe mean that any models that haven’t entered play when the Scythe is destroyed are also destroyed. But I think it could be a very useful delivery system for Lychguard while the Immortals hang back as a bit of a gun-line.

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit here!

So I need to get my act together and write up a Necrons list that I actually like the look of; I’ve got a Drukhari list that I do like the look of, so just need to finish off the couple of models that aren’t yet fully painted so that I can actually field it, and then I should be good to go!

Honestly, I’ve never been as excited for the hobby as I am right now!!

Warhammer Reflections – 4 years on

Hey everybody,
It’s approaching the time of year where I generally get quite nostalgic for my “career” within the Warhammer hobby, so I thought I’d ramble a bit here about some of the good times I’ve had with little plastic men over the last four years. In a manner of speaking…

Can you believe it’s been four years since I started this little adventure? Well, if you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you’re not only extremely classy, but you probably can… It all started because of Shadows of Brimstone, that kickstarter from Flying Frog Productions that I backed massively, only to find out in the months following the end of the campaign that the miniatures would require assembly. To practice, I therefore bought a Beast of Nurgle from Games Workshop, having been aware of their products for a number of years thanks to the card game Warhammer: Invasion, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As a side note, I should really look at doing a blog devoted to that game. I know it’s long-dead, but it was one of my all-time favourites, so definitely deserves some love here on the blog!

While I was initially really heavily into the Old World, due in part to the fact that I was so familiar with the card game, I think the negative reactions I was exposed to following the End Times series really started me moving away from the fantasy setting, and instead looking into the 40k stuff. While I felt like I had a decent grounding, between the card game and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, I was really flying blind when it came to the grim dark of the far future, but threw myself into the lore of the Necrons, having discovered the Lychguard kit (as has been mentioned on this blog before, of course!) I suppose, to some extent, it was only natural that I would gravitate towards those chaps, seeing as how I was a huge Tomb Kings fan. It was a real heartache when I recently decided to sell my stock of TKs, having been so assiduous in gathering up as many of the kits as I could when they went Last Chance to Buy. But that’s beside the point.

I really enjoyed the look of metallic skeletons, and as has been well chronicled on the blog now, I really fell for those Lychguard like there was no tomorrow. While they weren’t the only contenders for my first 40k army – it was a toss-up between Necrons, Tyranids and Dark Eldar as to who I was going to pursue as a first army choice – the undead space robots won out! Tyranids were an extremely close second, due in part to the awesome Shield of Baal series that started very soon after I’d made the decision, but I think I’ll always love those undead space robots…

Of course, since then I’ve managed to build up an extremely large Dark Eldar army, as well as having started to build a number of big bugs, too! Recently, I’ve embarked on repainting my Necron force, as it was my first army (and you can tell), though I’ve not yet managed to get very far. Always something to distract me!

It’s really been 40k that has been a driving force behind my passion and enthusiasm for this hobby, despite dipping my toe into fantasy every once in a while. I have very fond memories of the launch of Age of Sigmar, and while I’ve bought and sold more fantasy armies than I care to remember, I think I’m definitely keeping hold of my Stormcast Eternals for the fact that I enjoyed assembling that force so much.

Age of Sigmar

40k has been huge for me since then, and I honestly can’t ever see myself moving away from it. Whether it’s through the tabletop game itself, or any of the specialist games like Deathwatch Overkill or Necromunda – or even keeping some of the FFG games alive such as Conquest or, the classic, Space Hulk Death Angel – I can see myself forever staying with the grim dark of the far future, and look forward to sharing that with as many people as possible.

It’s definitely been an exciting four years, and there has been so much that I’ve enjoyed. While this blog started life as a sort of general nerdy thing with a lot of variety (at least, I think it did!), I’ve been very conscious of the fact that it has now become very focused on Warhammer, with Magic and Star Wars being a bit of a sideline.

And this is because I basically love the Warhammer 40k universe now!

I had a bit of a realisation a week or so ago, as I was laboriously reading through the latest new canon Star Wars novel Last Shot, that I don’t actually enjoy the new Star Wars as much as I enjoyed the franchise back before 2015. I don’t mean to turn this into some kind of Warhammer 40k vs Star Wars debate, but let’s leave it at I’m enjoying the former an awful lot more than the latter, right now!

And I suppose that’s partly due to the interactive nature of Warhammer 40k for me. There hasn’t really been a stand-out Star Wars game since WotC produced Star Wars miniatures, whereas there’s a whole hobby-gaming side to 40k that makes it a great deal more immersive.

I’d like to think that I’ve improved a great deal as a painter in the last four years – certainly, I’m more willing to show off my Drukhari, my Genestealer Cult, or my Thokt Necrons before bringing out that Beast of Nurgle – though there is always room for improvement. I’m still quite a lazy painter, something I’ve noticed when painting some Van Saar gangers recently. I rely a lot on drybrushing, while not always taking the time to drybrush properly. More models than I care to remember are quite streaky as a result! But I do feel a lot happier with my miniatures that I’m painting now, than I have done with the older lot. One of the reasons why I’m intending to re-do my entire Necron army, actually!

I don’t really have any sort of hobby goals in mind right now, except maybe to paint more than I buy, and get smarter with just what I’m buying in the first place, though who doesn’t have those sorts of goals in this hobby, right?! I’ve got a number of projects on the go that feel like they’re overwhelming me, particularly since Kill Team came along and I’m finding myself with plans for several small bands of infantry! Since delving back into my Genestealer Cults for that, however, I’ve been feeling in the mood to try some Tyranids, having bought quite a lot of kits for that army back at the start of the year. I find myself forever floating around from one project to another, without really getting anywhere with one (a notable exception being the Drukhari last year, that was amazing how I managed to apply myself and get over 2000 points painted up in a few months!)

I definitely want to plan my purchases more, and really try to work out just what I need before wandering into the store and picking up all manner of pretty looking kits just because they look nice. I also want to try to paint more, as has been shown by the variety of ‘painting goals’ style blogs that I’ve written so far this year. Having added Tau to my army rosters back in March, I really do feel a bit overwhelmed with everything, so definitely want to start scaling things back on that front. Going forward, I want to try (as much as I can) to pick a unit of, say, five guys, and just do what I need to do to get them finished. I think that’s how I eventually got going with the Drukhari, just five or ten at a time, and as whole units were added to the force, things really just snowballed…

I also want to play more games! Who doesn’t, I guess? But with Kill Team a thing now, the ability to have a lot of small games should make things easier. I’m keen to try my hand at Necromunda, having kitted out the Van Saars to be a proper gang and ready for the skirmish there, though I’m not sure if it’s that popular at my store… Skirmish games are fine, of course, but I also want to try and be a bit more serious with my efforts in mainstream 40k. I’ve got three big armies now as far as my Drukhari, Necrons (if I include the old ones that need re-doing), and T’au, along with a lot of smaller forces (with a lot of unbuilt kits that will one day make them bigger forces), so it would be a shame to not make the most of that and actually do something with them!

All this talk of Necromunda and Genestealer Cults brings me to something that I find a bit odd, but let’s talk about it anyway. I’ve not been in the hobby that long, and I’ve especially not been within the 40k universe that long, but there’s a weird kind of borrowed-nostalgia that I get from these re-imagining of classic aspects of the 40k universe. I suppose I get swept up in the moment, and find it all quite wonderful, though it could just be down to the fact that the miniatures are obviously designed with such care and attention to detail that I find myself really enamoured with them, despite not having a basis for any kind of nostalgia-response. It also helps that Necromunda, in particular, just looks like such a cool, immersive game that I can’t help but be swept up within the tidal wave of awesome that it is!

Rogue Trader is obviously coming out at Christmastime, and also promises to be every fanboy’s dream – including mine! I’m going to have to do some serious negotiation to get that under the tree for Christmas, but it looks like it will be so damn worth it!

The Rogue Trader release in 3-4 months’ time makes me wonder just when we can be expecting the last three Codexes for Warhammer 40k, though. There has been a hell of a lot of talk about a big campaign box for Space Wolves vs Orks, but as we’re now getting closer to the end of the year, I just don’t see this coming out anytime soon. It’s been two months since the announcement, on 1 June, about these books – looking at the last such announcement, when those for Imperial Knights, Harlequins and Deathwatch were talked about, it’s roughly two-to-three months between the announcement and the books being released. So I’m guessing that September will see the start of these things. It’s kinda unheard of for a big box game to have not been spoiled if it is, in fact, only a month or so away…

But that said, the Warhammer 40k facebook page did just unveil this…

Space Wolves vs Genestealer Cult? Who saw that one coming?!

Just another little tangent there! I did say this would be rambling!

Where was I? Ah yes, how much I need to be more careful with my purchases, rather than simply throwing my money at all the new shiny releases. Erm…

At any rate, after almost a year where I moved house and have since struggled to find a place to paint properly, I’m finding myself sliding closer to that point where I’m happily applying acrylic to plastic, so I’m hoping that I can at least make good on one of the many, many painting promises I’ve talked about on this blog before the end of the year…

While I like the thought of Tyranids and having a big bugs army, I’m also moving back towards my Drukhari, having lost interest a little when I felt the Codex had tried to force me to play a mixed list. However, I think I’m most excited right now for the Militarum Tempestus army that I’ve been wanting to build for a number of years now.

To date, I’ve still only painted two models for them. However, this is where the joy of Kill Team comes in, as I’ve excitedly been writing up a list that I think will make it relatively easy to get done, at which point I might as well just carry on and paint up a platoon! Oh, I make it sound so easy. But I think, if I can get some of these done, and some more Skitarii painted by the end of the year, I’ll be a very happy bunny, indeed.

So, thanks for reading all the way through this extremely rambling blog post about my jumbled thoughts on 40k right now, as well as something of a potted history of my life with the game, and stay tuned to the blog as I begin to delve more seriously into Kill Team campaigns – and, of course, Necromunda!

Enter the clowns!

Harlequins

I mentioned last year that I’d built some Harlequins, and have finally decided to do something with them, thanks in part to the announcement that they’ll soon be getting a Codex! I’ve had some kits hanging about for an age, as I’d initially thought about adding in some of these chaps to my Dark Eldar force when I was originally building it, but haven’t really done much of anything. Well, until now! So let’s catch up with what I’m up to at the minute…

The idea I’m having is to slip them into the 2000-point list that I set out back in this post, shuffling about some of the Wych Cult portion of the list to accommodate a small Patrol detachment. So I’m getting fewer command points for this build, but I think it might be worth it to start experimenting with the Murder Clowns, and see how they play etc…

I’ve not given a tremendous amount of thought to the actual viability of having these guys join the fray, it’s more about seeing what they can do. The Troupe build is basically from the original six clowns that I built for Shadow War, so hasn’t really been thought of in terms of 8th Edition. I’ve added in a Starweaver for transport, and the good thing about building it that way is you get an additional miniature in the shape of the Voidweaver gunner, so I’ve built him as a separate Troupe Master to avoid having to use one of the regular Players. Finally, I’ve added in a Shadowseer, because I have pretty much never played in the Psychic Phase, and wanted to see what all the fun was about. Adding in a second HQ allowed me to bring the list to 2000 points, exactly, rather than using the leftover points to add more Wyches or else buy a Skyweaver kit. So I need to get myself a Shadowseer, then I can look at actually painting these minis up!

Something that I do like about the Harlequins is the fact they seem to encourage a loud colour scheme, so while I’d started to do muted purples/blues/greens, I’m thinking about making them a lot more, well, loud and vibrant. I’m going to try to resist the pink and orange that popped in my head earlier this weekend, for now anyway…

I’m probably going to revert back to my initial 2000 point Drukhari build once the Harlequin codex comes out, and I can think about a bigger build (or leaving them off, altogether), so it doesn’t replace my thoughts there…

Drukhari thoughts…

Hey everybody!
I’m still massively enjoying the new Drukhari codex at the minute, and have been excitedly planning out the list that I want to really concentrate on for the next while. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to go in something of a different direction to my usual builds, thinking it might be good to break out of the established pattern and go for something new. So I thought I’d write up some of my thoughts for you all, along with presenting the list itself! Grab a cuppa, and let’s take a look!

So it’s a 2000-point list that is staying away from the Raiding Force idea of multiple patrol detachments, primarily because, after having given it some thought, I’ve decided against falling into that trap of The New and The Shiny. Sure, it’s nice that we get a really unique and flavourful rule like this, but I think it has an allure that is distracting from the main focus of what this army needs. I don’t believe we need to go for a whole mass of Command Points, as the army is going to work quite well with the basic stuff you get from a couple of Battalions. The list above will still net me ten CPs, only one off the list I presented at the weekend that was trying to go for all of that Raiding Force stuff. I do believe that we need to stick to a much more focused build when assembling a Drukhari army.

But that’s not to say that we can’t mix it up a bit and have some fun…

The Kabalite part of this that makes up the first Battalion is almost unchanged from the weekend’s list, merely juggling the Warriors about a little in order to make better use of having the Raiders now equipped with Splinter Racks. I don’t throw an awful lot of 6s, but I think the sheer weight of fire that the Raiders will be throwing out should allow for at least a couple of exploding dice here… I’m otherwise keeping things as they were, with the Court and Archons in a Venom, all three squads of Kabalites in Raiders, and a Ravager in the back to punch out some (hopefully!) decent firepower.

Dark Eldar Wyches

Where things get different, however, is that I’ve foregone the Coven builds of my usual lists in favour of Wych Cult stuff! I’ve said it before, I’ve not played a lot of Cult stuff to know what I’m doing or, well, anything, really, so this is going to be quite the learning curve. Let’s get down to some particulars.

I’m still taking Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, allowing me to gain those 6 extra inches on my weapons, which will hopefully allow me to keep things at bay while I move my Cult models into position, maybe allowing for some extra time to properly threat-assess the situation. For my Cult, I’m going with Cult of the Cursed Blade, which gives me +1 strength and ensures I only lose one model to failed morale tests. Cursed Blade also have the nice Concealed Booby Traps stratagem that dishes out mortal wounds to charging enemies. It’s a little situational, as it requires the Cursed Blade unit to be in terrain, but it’s so thematic that I just love it! They also have the relic that allows your Succubus to blow up, which is another wonderfully thematic idea!

Now, I’m actually thinking of not using the Alliance of Agony stratagem to dish out an additional Warlord Trait to a Succubus, as much as I do enjoy the Treacherous Deceiver trait. There are a lot of flying Wych Cult units in this list, and so I can see myself wanting to use Eviscerating Fly-by as often as possible; it only costs one CP, but I also think Hyperstimm Backlash is going to be another popular one for me, and so having these Wych Cult units in my force is opening up more doors!

I’m excited to use Hellions in a big way, as I’ve only used them once previously, and I don’t think I really did well with them. In particular, I think the hit and run ability should be something that is pretty much abused for all its worth, falling back to allow the unit tangled up with them to be shot at, then charging back into any survivors. I’ve had some success with Reavers in the past, although again, I think I’m not using them particularly well. For the moment, I’m not bothering with either cluster caltrops or a grav talon, although I have lots of the jetbikes modeled with both. I think I might be tweaking this list for some time once I get playing it, so there’s always more opportunity to add in specific bits. Each of those only costs 3 points, as well, so it’s not going to be exceptionally difficult to fiddle.

I’m most excited to be including Incubi, however! Now, it’s true, these aren’t the official Incubi models, but rather Wildwood Rangers that I’ve barely done any work to make them into Incubi. I’ve still got five more to build, though, so I’m thinking I might do a bit more to incorporate them into the Drukhari feel. At 160 points for ten, they are quite expensive, but then they’re a big blob of elite warriors, so it’s probably to be expected. I’m incorporating them into the Wych Cult side of the army simply because they too are melee-orientated, but as Blades for Hire, it doesn’t really matter where they go, I suppose.

As an aside, I’m also weighing up the option of swapping out the Incubi for Mandrakes – I’ve been giving it some vague thought, and I’m currently planning to convert up some Namarti Thralls once they’re released in a little under two weeks’ time, having not been entirely satisfied with my use of Sylvaneth Tree-Revenants. I think these blind chaps might prove to be very atmospheric, and I’m sure I can paint them to blend in to the rest of my force quite nicely! And both Mandrakes and Incubi weigh in at the same points cost for ten, so it’s easy to swap them around as required!

So there you have it, my current plans for my Dark Eldar / Drukhari army post-Codex. While I have the Kabalite side painted up and ready as it stands, I think I’m still quite a way off having the Wych Cult side ready. I know for sure I still have some “Incubi” to build, and likely some Wyches, too. At least I have a bit of a focus now, however, so I’m hoping that will help me to get moving with painting up some units ready to have some games!

Next week, I’ll be moving back to the Tau, and updating you all with my progress there – stay tuned!