Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising

Hey everybody,
It’s been out for a while now, but I’ve been wanting to talk about the new Psychic Awakening series of books for Warhammer 40k since the event kicked off a couple of weeks ago, so what better time to start than now?! The series is meant to have massive ramifications for the 40k universe as a whole, and back when it was initially announced, we were promised something new for every faction. I’m sure we’ve had such promises before, but so far, we’re three books in at the time I’m writing this, with a fourth on the way, and it looks like they are actually looking to deliver on this!

Psychic Awakening Phoenix Rising

Book One, Phoenix Rising, deals with all things Aeldari, and the book is actually really quite interesting to delve into. The first thing that you notice about it is that it isn’t anywhere near as weighty a tome as the Vigilus campaign books from last Christmas. That is probably because the book functions more like a mini Codex, than a true campaign book, and there is correspondingly less in the way of lore.

It’s still there, for sure – I read somewhere that this series is meant to bring the Imperium as a whole up to the same point in time as the Vigilus stuff, which sort of functions as the “current” timeframe. That would seem to be correct, as the fluff here goes right back to the Gathering Storm in places, chronicling the rise of the Ynnari and putting that into the wider context of the Aeldari races as a whole. That does sort of make sense, as that earlier series was a 7th edition thing, so it’s good for new fans to have the same sort of context as the rest of us.

The fluff is followed then by a series of narrative missions to play, three Echoes of War missions that recreate some of the storyline in the fluff section, such as the Drukhari attack on the Ynnari, using manipulated forces of the Astra Militarum. Each of these missions has its own suite of stratagems that can be used, and there are also a couple of additional rules for Theatres of War, giving ongoing effects for the whole battle. Theatres of War is something that I don’t see used a great deal, but could be fun to play with if you wanted a really intense game of 40k!

This first book in the series was released alongside a box set, Blood of the Phoenix, which repacked several Craftworld and Dark Eldar kits, as well as providing plastic miniatures for Jain Zar, Howling Banshees, Drazhar and the Incubi. I’m not a Craftworld expert, but the Drazhar model went all the way back to 1992, I believe, and so was really quite desperately in need of an update. I’d been hoping for plastic Incubi for almost as long as I’ve been a Dark Eldar player, so this box was highly anticipated! I mean, look at a comparison with their older models:

Jain Zar and Drazhar old models

Unfortunately, the box set was really quite overpriced – I think it was something like £150 retail, which is fine when you think the characters will probably be £25 each when released separately, and the new units will be around £30 or maybe £35, if the Chaos Marines release is anything to go by; it means you’re getting a whole bunch of the older stuff for about £30, which is a big saving. A lot of people weren’t too impressed, though, as the older stuff it was packed alongside has been out for years now, and people tend not to want that stuff. It was the sort of box that might be great for new folks getting into the hobby or wanting to start these armies, but for those of us who have been waiting for these plastics, it was a hard pass. As it stands, I picked up Drazhar on a bits site, and would be fine to wait for the plastic Incubi kit to hit retail, having already bought and painted up the finecast models if I wanted to use them in a battle before then.

New Drazhar is an incredible model though, I really liked him a lot!

Anyway, following the missions, the book sort of splits into three, as we get the new rules sections. First up are the Craftworld lot, which have the rules for Jain Zar and the Howling Banshees, as well as three pages of additional rules for other aspect warriors such as Dire Avengers and Striking Scorpions. It’s really quite an interesting little rules update in this respect, although I’m no Craftworld expert to know whether they’d be of any use!

The Drukhari section is a little smaller, having new rules just for Drazhar and the Incubi – I say new rules, they’re more like tweaks, really. Drazhar gets a bit beefier and now has the Lethal Precision rule the Incubi had, and the Klaivex can take demi klaives like Drazhar.

Both flavours of Eldar get new ways to create their own brand of chapter tactics with new Obsessions and Attributes. From a list of different abilities and effects, you get to choose two (unless otherwise stated) which give you your own custom rules for your chosen army type. I suppose it compensates for not having your own Stratagems and Warlord Traits by getting to pick two. There are four pages of Craftworld Attributes, while the Drukhari get a page of Obsessions for each of Kabal, Cult and Coven. Some of them are quite decent, as it happens, and I’ll talk about them a bit more shortly.

Finally, the book closes out with a reprinting of the Ynnari “Codex” that was featured back in a White Dwarf earlier this year. There is all of the lore, the rules, stratagems, psychic powers and warlord traits, so it’s nice to have that reproduced again here for convenience, and to ensure that Ynnari players can have those rules without resorting to trying to find the White Dwarf on ebay, or something.

All in all, it’s a pretty nice book, with a lot of different parts that you can pick and choose from. Obviously, Eldar players are the demographic for this, as Space Marines players will find nothing of interest here. But I do like these sort of books, which have a bit of story/background to them, some new rules, and then some missions and stuff to choose from, as well.


Yesterday, I played my final game of 40k for the year, a three-player game against Chaos and Necrons, for which I brought my own Drukhari – the first time they have had an outing since about May, I think!

It was a pretty casual game, with armies floating around the 1000 points mark. My buddy JP had had the Start Collecting Chaos Marines for Christmas, as well as more Havocs, so was keen to get those out. Matt was playing Necrons, in what was I think his second game of 40k (certainly his second game of 8th edition). We were using the multiplayer rules from the core rule book, so nothing too fancy, but I think it definitely helped that we were all very much into it not being a case of ganging-up on one player, but we were all trying to achieve our own objectives while attacking everybody else.

It was also really nice to finally get all of my terrain out and on the table!

I’ve been thinking a lot about doing away with Obsessions entirely, and playing lists more like I used to in the Index days, but instead decided to try out the new build-your-own with a Raiding Party force. Pretty much everything about the Drukhari army caused raised eyebrows from my opponents, and with good reason – they’re the sort of army where so many things just shouldn’t be the case, and yet they are. I’m particularly fond of the Hexrifle on my Wracks here, because nobody expects a fairly-dedicated close combat unit to include a sniper rifle, after all!

Wracks were possibly the star players here, taking out the Daemon Prince warlord for 1VP, followed closely by the Ravager which, over the course of my turn, finished off the Havocs unit before it could do anything.

However, I was very often forgetting a lot of rules – standard operating procedure, for sure, but I think the sheer number of moving parts to this army when you have all three subfactions present is just bonkers.

So for my Kabal, I took Disdain for Lesser Beings, which allows me to only ever lose one model to Morale (forgot about that, and lost two of my Warriors this way), and Toxin Crafters, which adds one to the damage characteristic of a poisoned weapon on a natural 6 to wound. I don’t honestly know if this would have made a difference (I forgot about the open topped rule for my Raiders for at least one turn), but there you have it. I normally use Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, giving me +6 to the maximum range of weapons, and I think I would usually prefer this to anything else, as I want to keep my Kabal gunline as far away from anybody as possible.

The Kabal rules in Phoenix Rising aren’t particularly game-changing, they are just some interesting alternatives if you don’t want to use those from the Codex.

Wych Cults are still a subfaction that I don’t know enough about, having only used them once previously. I mean, I use Reavers a lot, but the rest of them… I’d gone with Precise Killers, which improves the AP of a weapon on a natural 6 to wound, as well as Slashing Impact, which allows me to inflict 1 mortal wound on a 5+ when I finish a charge move. These are nice bonuses, and there are some interesting things in the book that I think could do with further investigation. I probably need to play more Wych Cults to get the gist of things, though.

I will say, as well, that I had an incredibly lucky roll on my Hekatrix’s blast pistol, and one-shot killed the Master of Executions! Given that the last time JP and I played, his Master of Executions took out my entire Grey Knights Purifier Squad in a single swing, I feel that has given me justice!

Combat Drugs are still a mystery to me, however…

Finally, for my Haemonculus Coven, I went with Experimental Creations, which increases the Strength of everyone in the unit, as well as giving a +1 to wound rolls when attacking units with lower toughness. That didn’t really come into it as much as I thought, but the +1 Strength was very handy! With Wracks being S3 but T4, you want them in combat, but their effective power is quite limited with just basic weapons. Anyway! My second Obsession for them was Masters of Mutagens, which means a natural 6 to hit against anything other than vehicles or titanic units is an auto-wound. That did come up quite a bit, which helped me to get rid of the Chaos Sorcerer, at which point there were no more Psychic shenanigans to endure.

It was a good game, and didn’t feel too much like a 1v1 with a bystander, though the Necrons just kept reanimating while Chaos and Dark Eldar were dying all around, meaning the final round was a bit one-sided. But we got to 5 rounds, so all was well!


I feel like Phoenix Rising is definitely going to be worth getting for Craftworlds players, and Ynnari too, but if you’re a Dark Eldar player looking for new ways to play the army, I think there is limited good stuff here. Possibly not worth it to the more competitive players, as nothing in there seems particularly game-destroying – and I’m guessing the more competitive dark kin won’t want to give up Agents of Vect so easily, anyway!

Eldar Corsairs!

Hey everybody!
For the past few days, I’ve been fiddling about with a redesign for my Dark Eldar army, taking the list to 2000 points based on the models I already have fully painted. It’s been quite the task, as I’ve only played with the army using the codex once, but I’m excited to actually bring the list to the table soon!

I’ll be talking about this in more detail this coming week, but in doing this research, I’ve been looking at Eldar Corsairs as one of a couple of possible allied detachments, and I’m actually really intrigued by how this might work out!

In case you don’t know, the Corsairs are a sort of outcast band of the Aeldari in Warhammer 40k, basically more classical pirates than anything else. Following the Fall of the Eldar after the birth of Slaanesh, while the Craftworld Eldar began to lead lives of asceticism lest they attract the gaze of She Who Thirsts, and the Drukhari subsumed their psychic potential and retreated into the Webway, the Corsairs stayed more true to their original life, heedless of any acts of passion.

For a long time, ForgeWorld produced the army much like they do for other factions, but back in 2018 (I think) they discontinued the whole range, meaning that anybody wishing to play them would have to start a serious conversion project. Corsairs have always been conversion-heavy, so I believe, but now the problem is increased!

However, I do like the rules, as I think there could be an interesting slant to the army from using these guys. Let’s take a look!

They have two specific rules that can be thought of as army-wide: Reckless Abandon and Dancing on the Blade’s Edge. Reckless Abandon is probably my favourite, as it allows the unit with this ability to move 3″ in any direction if they inflict one or more casualties on an enemy unit by firing Overwatch. I like the thought of spoiling a charge move in this way, though obviously it would only really work on a squad-type unit making the charge, and there are plenty of ways to get around that. Dancing on the Blade’s Edge allows you to roll 2 dice for a Morale test, and discard the highest (per the FAQ). However, if the test is still failed, +1 model flees.

While the weapon options for these guys are pretty diverse, they all seem to come stock with a brace of pistols, which is an 8″ Pistol D6 weapon that is similar to the splinter weaponry of the Dark Eldar in that it always wounds on a 4+ (except vehicles, which it wounds on a 6+), and any rolls of 6 are resolved at AP-1. They’re 2 points a pop, and 4″ shorter than standard splinter pistols, but that additional point of AP is definitely worth it, I feel.

The Imperial Armour Index only includes three Corsair units: the Reaver band (basic troops), the Skyreaver band (jet-pack troops) and the Cloud Dancer band (jetbike riders). The FAQ does state that the army can still use Corsair Princes or Corsair Barons as an HQ choice, using one of the three datasheets printed in the Index as best describes the model. Additionally, Corsairs can use Venoms and Falcons from the Drukhari and Craftworld codexes. Of course, this does limit the options available to the army, having such a limited pool of units to choose from – back in 7th edition, the army was much more fleshed-out, through the use of Craftworld units alongside Corsair-specific squads. Whether there is any truth to the rumours that the loss of the Forge World upgrades means we’ll be seeing new plastics, I don’t know, but it could be interesting to see if anything will come of this now that the main armies have all had their codexes for 8th edition.

I’ve been faffing a bit with the above allied detachment for my Drukhari, something that can slot into the army with relative ease – though you’ll have to wait for my Drukhari blog before I go further into that!

The dissonance weapons sound like they should be a lot of fun, S5 AP-2 and D3 damage, increasing to S6 AP-3 on the roll of a 6+. Quite how I’m going to get the pieces for these distinctive weapons, given the lack of the proper kit these days, but I’m thinking it might be just as easy to use a counts-as system for these chaps.

My thought has been to proxy Dire Avengers as the main Reaver band, and then use Windriders for the Cloud Dancers, with the Warlock Skyrunner as the Corsair Prince.

It should be pretty basic, for sure, but I think it will work well enough, and I’m sure I can keep all of the counts-as stuff consistent!

In all honesty, I have no idea when I’ll be able to actually get round to this project, as I have so much on my plate right now with the Great Reanimation of my Necrons, and the Skitarii project that I’m still persisting with. But hopefully I can get some space pirates onto the table with my Drukhari soon!

War Zone Vigilus: Setting the Stage

Vigilus 0

I’ve been reading up on the current campaign in Warhammer 40k-land, which has been quite an interesting way to spend the run-up to the festive season, so thought it a great time to share some of my thoughts with you all as we see the 40k storyline gearing up for something quite spectacular!

Some background
Vigilus has been looming large in the lore since the dawn of the Great Rift that split the galaxy in two at the onset of 8th edition. For the uninitiated, as 7th edition drew to a close, we saw the three Gathering Storm books at the start of 2017, each focusing on some fairly cataclysmic events in the lore such as the Fall of Cadia, and the rebirth of Roboute Guilliman. At the fall of Cadia, a massive warp rift opened across the entire galaxy – the Cicatrix Maledictum – engulfing many systems entirely, and splitting the Imperium in two. To the galactic north lies the Imperium Nihilus, where the Blood Angels are almost cut off from the rest of the galaxy, left to hold back the darkness while beset by Hive Fleet Leviathan.

Crossing the great rift are a small number of small corridors, the most stable of which is the Nachmund Gauntlet. At the key point along this corridor is the world of Vigilus, a world that has been beset by internecine squabbling between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Ministorum, the governing bodies of the planet who cannot agree who is more important. When the great rift opened, both sought aid from the Imperium, and the Ministorum’s insistence on any military aid being deployed to the cathedrum districts has further deepened this division.

From out of the warp rift has emerged the ramshackle fleet of an Ork Speedwaaagh, which crash landed on the planet and has since claimed the desert spaces between the hive cities of the Imperium presence on the world. Water is scarce on the planet, and with nothing else for them to fight out in the desert wastes, the Orks have taken to high-speed racing out there – you know, as you would.

Control of the scant water reservoirs on the planet has been taken by the Genestealer Cultists of the Pauper Princes, who have emerged earlier than planned in response to the Ork presence on-world. When the Space Wolves arrived thanks to being thrown off-course by the warp storms, they sought to eradicate the xenos taint from the world and began attacking the Cultists with vigour.

Tooth and Claw is the first official product to be released for the Vigilus storyline, pitting Space Wolves against Genestealer Cultists and seeing the release of a Space Wolves-specific Lieutenant, alongside the long-awaited Aberrant multi-part plastic kit, and the new Abominant HQ to lead them. The box was a really excellent release, saving a great deal for collectors of either army – it even had the full Redemptor Dreadnought kit!

The booklet included in the box was also top-notch, including a lot of the background on Vigilus that read, for the most part, like the sourcebook for a Role-Playing Game. While we can usually expect to see some element of background for the armies in these sorts of releases, we also get a really in-depth look at the logistical structure of Vigilus – primarily because the militarised reservoirs are a major plot-point for the Genestealer Cultists in the box.

The booklet also included all of the datasheets (including points values) for the models, and some missions that allow you to play along with the narrative included in there, and in true 8th edition style, there are unique stratagems included that help along the way. It all adds up to a really great bundle, and a worthy first step on the road to war-zone Vigilus!

The next box to be released came pretty much out of nowhere – I certainly wasn’t expecting to see something like it released so soon after the first, at any rate! Pitting Ultramarines against Eldar, I have to say that this one felt a little more like a cash-grab, following the same formula but including only a new Eldar Spiritseer and yet another Primaris Lieutenant, alongside a bundle of existing miniatures that didn’t really feel like anything special. Wake the Dead did not, therefore, bode well.

That Spiritseer is a lovely model, though!

The lore for Wake the Dead, however, was another matter!

The Eldar have long had their eye on Vigilus, as their Seers have discerned the skeins of fate converging around the planet, beset as it is by Chaos warp-storms and raiding parties of Dark Eldar. When they see the Chaos Cult demagogue Vannadan the Firebrand inciting the populace to turn to the Dark Gods, the Craftworld of Saim-Hann sent a delegation to eradicate this threat. While they are successful in their objective, the 47th Antrell Lions squad of Tempestus Scions proceeded to slaughter almost the entire Eldar force, mistaking them for their Dark kin.

Meanwhile, Chief Librarian Tigurius has seen the world of Vigilus at the start of a swathe of bloodshed that will reach Terra itself, and so an Ultramarines task force is dispatched to the beleaguered world, headed up by none other than Marneus Calgar himself. Calgar dissolves the ruling council of Vigilus, and installs his own Senate to rule the world during this time of crisis, with himself at its head.

One of the survivors of the Scions’ purge was Spiritseer Qelnaris, who promptly returned with a strike force to avenge his fallen warriors on the blinkered Imperium. Qelnaris’ attack is answered by Calgar and the Ultramarines, who at first attempt a diplomatic resolution to the conflict following the Space Wolves identification of the Saim-Hann warhost as fomer allies. The overtures are rebuffed by the Spiritseer, however, who has sworn a blood vendetta against the fools of the Imperium.

The box set may have been underwhelming in comparison to its predecessor, but the lore is incredible and really helps to paint the picture of a fiercely-contested battleground that is rightly at the forefront of the current campaign storyline. The storyline is rich without being convoluted, helped in part by the decision to only include those factions that feel most relevant. Tau and Necrons are notably absent, and I think this is fine (despite these being two armies I collect). Previous campaigns from 7th edition have really benefited from being on something of a smaller scale – Shield of Baal only involving Blood Angels and the various Imperium factions, Tyranids and Necrons felt fine because it wasn’t too cluttered, for example. Of course, the Imperium side of things can lead to all manner of bits and pieces going on, and on Vigilus we already have several Chapters of Space Marines making a name for themselves alongside the Ministorum and Mechanicus, with a very definite presence from the Scions. The Imperium side of any conflict is always going to feel a bit full, due to the nature of the beast.

With Marneus Calgar on the world, we’re now poised on the brink of the new campaign book, Vigilus Defiant, which is the first in a two-part series that will chart the war-zone as the Imperium clashes with the Orks, the Genestealer Cults and the Craftworlds. While there are Dark Eldar raiding parties mentioned multiple times in the lore so far, we’ve not got anything further on that yet, and I’m really pleased that Vigilus hasn’t turned into a Tomb World for Anrakyr or someone to come along and re-claim, or the Tau to attempt to expand into this particular area of space.

There’s plenty of time for the other armies to be catered to, after all!

Make sure to check back later in the week, when I’ll be looking through the new campaign book, and seeing what it has to offer us!

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…

The Fracture of Biel-Tan

Well – my goodness me!

The second leg of The Gathering Storm is being teased already, and it looks glorious to behold! Lots of big new space elves to enjoy here:

The Gathering Storm II

Of course, I’m very new to the joy of the Dark Eldar, and have never really been that up on the lore of these folks, so I feel it’s going to be a very steep learning curve here!

Looks like we’re getting the longed-for last hope of the Eldar race, Ynnead, the god of the dead. Apparently, all of the spirit-stones in the Eldar Craftworlds will unite to create Ynnead in order to battle Slaanesh and finally save them from destruction. Eldrad Ulthuan has already attempted to awaken Ynnead during the battle of Port Demesnus that was featured in the Death Masque box from last summer, though he was foiled by the Deathwatch. Now, however, it looks like things have escalated…

Much like the Triumvirate of the Imperium brought us the living saint herself, this second triumvirate is bringing us The Yncarne, the Avatar of Ynnead, as well as Yvraine, the Emissary of Ynnead, and The Visarch, the Sword of Ynnead.

These three look amazing, though I have no idea what they’re all up to and the like. Fall of Cadia I was previewed three weeks before the models hit, though that could perhaps have been more due to the outcry over Saint Celestine and so forth. The “coming soon” gives me hope that these will at least give me some time to save up for them! Though I do feel like it might be wise to get the first book so as to get the background in full…