July retrospective

Hey everybody,

Well it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was here with my June retrospective, and already July has been and gone! With everything going on in real life right now, I have (unsurprisingly!) been a bit busy to be doing any fun stuff, as holding a baby to get her to sleep (and all the other associated activities!) don’t really allow for anything else. But I have been reading, which is probably going to be the main focus of this post!

I’ve been reading a lot of Necromunda books, both the current range of hardcovers and also the old Gang War supplements that were released three years ago now. Perhaps because of the fact that I’m now outnumbered by women at home, I’ve been taking a long look at House Escher for the game, and did actually manage to find a spare moment to paint some miniatures earlier in the month! So hurrah for that! I haven’t managed to get very far though, and haven’t managed to do so again, either. But never mind. I think, having a second child, it’s easier because you know there will come a time when the stars align and you get your free time back in the evenings – it isn’t suddenly a black hole of having no available time for the foreseeable future!

I’ve been reading a lot about campaign play as well, and seeing how that all works out for the game. It’s really exciting, and I think it’s going to be at the top of my list when I’m able to have something like regular gaming once more!

The roadmap for Necromunda was recently updated, to show the plastic weapon upgrades for Orlock, Van Saar and Cawdor are coming in the next quarter, and a new gang in Q4! This is very exciting, I must say. A lot of speculation is being made around classics such as Ratskins or Skavvies, but I do recall hearing at one of the Open Days that they also had plans for totally new gangs, which of course we have seen already with the Corpse Grinders, so I’m very excited to see what’s coming. Very exciting times in the Underhive right now – and it’d be even better if we had the Delaque weapons!

The new edition of Kill Team has been announced, with GW making a very big deal of it coming out next month. I’ve been back and forth so much on this one, but I think I’m still at the point where I’m really excited for the new system. Whether I am able to get my hands on the new box or not is, of course, the big question, but I think it looks like it should make a really interesting board game style of game, even if I nevermake up another team. But, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to be making more teams!

The thing is, though, I’m really feeling the narrative focus this time around, and I know people have been losing their literal minds on the internet by the fact that it now uses movement templates rather than inches, but I do find myself quite liking the fact that the rules have changed to a more bespoke system. However, it’s the narrative, for me, that I’m keen to dive into, and I’m really looking forward to assembling a team of spec-ops to use. Furthermore, I think I’ll most likely be assembling a team or two that are purely meant for Kill Team, and not simply taking a bunch of models from my 40k collection to use in this game, which I have done in the past. The Krieg models are a perfect case in point, and I think I might be keeping a few Tempestus Scions for the game as well. We shall see!

As I said, though, I’ve mainly been reading this month, and have managed to make my way through two of the anthologies for the Horus Heresy, Shadows of Treachery and The Primarchs – so I think I’m reasonably now up to date on everything that I’ve missed! As ever, anthologies are a bit of an uneven experience for me, so rather than going through them both story-by-story, I thought I’d pick out my absolute favourites to talk about from each.

Prince of Crows

Published in Shadows of Treachery, this follows on from Savage Weapons, where Konrad Curze was wounded by Lion el’Jonson during their duel. With Curze lying comatose, First Captain Sevatar re-forms the Kyroptera advisory council of the Night Lords, and plans how to save the Legion as the Thramas Crusade draws to its conclusion, with the Dark Angels poised to annihilate the VIII Legion. The Legion commanders each take a portion of the fleet to raid Imperial space, while Sevatar himself uses his nascent psychic ability to bring back the Night Haunter from his coma, and lead a retaliatory strike against the Lion’s cruiser. While this attack ultimately fails, it does allow for Curze to hide himself in the bowels of the Invincible Reason.

I really enjoyed this novella – it’s probably one of the best Horus Heresy stories that I’ve read for some time, actually! The Night Lords haven’t really had a novel properly dedicated to them, they’re always just on the sidelines – I’m not sure if that changes, as I’ve only just broken into the 30s in the series, but I feel like they’re something of a forgotten Legion, really! There are a couple of short stories though, which somewhat culminate with this novella, joining the dots as to what’s happening out on the fringes before Curze then makes an appearance in The Unremembered Empire. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s nice to see the Legion structures and compare / contrast how each works. The Night Lords, for all that they’re said to be a band of ruthless murderers, still have that similar command structure, the Kyroptera being roughly analogous to the Mournival of the Sons of Horus.

We also get an extended flashback/memory sequence from Curze, detailing his early life on Nostramo, which was nice to get that full story in print, as it’s a fairly major part of the lore, etc. It’s a fairly lengthy novella, and gives a lot of action as well as some of the quieter moments to allow for a bit of Legion lore to get in, as well. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it!

Shadows of Treachery is otherwise a bit bland, with a couple of shorter stories that just felt dull and unnecessary when talking about the Heresy as a whole, but we also have The Crimson Fist, which was a bit of a drawn-out explanation for why the Imperial Fists didn’t make it to Isstvan V. I wasn’t a huge fan, truth be told.

The Serpent Beneath

This is another fantastic novella-length story, published in The Primarchs and this time dealing with the Alpha Legion. My favourite of the Legions, the story is actually quite fascinating as it deals with the Legion infiltrating Tenebrae Station, which is controlled by their own brother legionaries. The station is being used to create the warp storms that are keeping the White Scars at Chondax, but several security leaks have been traced to the installation and Omegon decides to form a team to neutralise this threat.

The narrative is really quite cleverly constructed, as it keeps slipping back to the planning meeting that Omegon held with the team, and then into the action of their infiltration. It poses the very intriguing question, what happens when you need to infiltrate your own Legion, and so know your own tricks? 

There are so many twists and turns along the way that it is virtually impossible to summarise them all, but the story takes a hugely interesting turn at the very end, where Omegon and Alpharius discuss the situation. It seems Omegon had fabricated the security leak as a means to destroy the station, a gift from the Cabal, and it is possible that he is trying to subvert his twin’s plans – is Omegon a secret loyalist? Who the hell knows, this is the Alpha Legion, after all! It was a great story, with a look at the wider universe outside of the space marines – when Omegon is recruiting his team, we get something almost akin to a film noir sequence of the hooded marines stalking a Mechanicum operative. This is just one of many cases in point, though, as the story was exceedingly cinematic, and it read really well as a result.

The Primarchs is essentially four novellas that tell stories about Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion el’Jonson, and Omegon. The Fulgrim story actually turned out to be fairly important, bridging the gap between Fulgrim and Angel Exterminatus, and clearing up some minor points that had be a little confused at the time. The Iron Hands story is notable for being a tale with Ferrus Manus front and centre (considering he is killed in book three of the series), and I thought it posed some interesting questions about the Legion, notably how easy it would be to overcome the warriors if you can disrupt their bionics.

In addition to reading, I’ve also been watching more TV, starting to make my way through The Expanse on Amazon Prime. It’s been years since I first read Leviathan Wakes, and I’m still a little put out that I’ve not yet made it to the next book in the series! I really need to pull my finger out on that front. I’ve watched the first series, and I was really impressed by the look of it, and the feel for how they’ve translated the book to the screen. I do find myself increasingly impressed at how good TV shows have become in recent years – watching WandaVision earlier in the year, I was continually blown away by how the production values made it feel very much like a part of the MCU. The Expanse is in a similar vein, with a big-budget feel to it. I did feel lost for the most part, because the storyline has been mixed up, I believe, with some of the more political storylines from Cibola Burn. So I did find it a little hard to follow at times, but that was only because I was thinking of it in terms of the book! I think that adding this political dimension in right away has been the best decision, though, because it greatly enhances the world-building – in my initial review of the book, I did mention the fact that we don’t get a lot of that as a downside to the story.

It’s a great series, anyway, and I think in general this is some of the most believable sci-fi that we have out there. Definitely looking forward to diving into more of this!

2021 Hobby Goals check-in

Hey everybody,

We’re a little way over halfway through the year now, so I thought it would be good to check in on where I’m up to, as regards fulfilling those goals that were set out back in January!

To start with, I’ve been trying to do more with my Sisters, working on the original Battle Sister squad from the launch box, which I had previously tried to paint in a couple of different schemes, but haven’t yet managed to get very far! I have been doing a great deal of research into the faction, which had been inspiring me to get them painted, but the project stalled when Necromunda came heavily back onto my radar!

So far, then, not much has been done.

Next up we’re the Drukhari, and I had planned to paint up 5 Wracks, 3 Grotesques, 5 Incubi and Drahzar. So far, I’ve painted 5 Incubi, which is delightful, and I’ve also made some progress with the Coven models as well. I’m hopeful that I might actually achieve this one by the end of the year, anyway!

I need to think about what I want to do with those armies for which I have so many unpainted or partially painted things. AdMech, Deathwatch, Tempestus Scions and Blood Angels, specifically. I’m pretty much set on keeping my Genestealer Cults and my Tyranids, though at this point I don’t really have them on my radar. The same is true of my Grey Knights – I think the winter time is when I tend to go down that road, anyway – though with the new Castellan Crowe model on the horizon, that could well change. I still have Heretic Astartes on the radar as well, though not far enough up the list where I want to start working on them. Similar story with my Necrons really, I had wanted to try to rescue some more of the older models that I have hanging about, but so far all I’ve done is finish a couple of the newer models.

I’m always in a bit of a quandary over the Imperium armies, because on the one hand I think it’s really cool to have the sort of classic 40k army, with tanks and such – I just find it so inspirational! But on the other hand, I feel as though I’m forever taking on too much, and I do feel that need to trim back my projects!!

Lastly, I wanted to paint more terrain. Well, I’ve not managed to do anything with that one yet, either!! I really want to try and get some Sector Mechanicus stuff finished, in particular the Alchomite Stack that has been partially painted for a couple of years now. I have quite a lot of stuff though, but having finally figured out a colour scheme when painting up the Ferratonic Incinerator at the end of last year, I’m hopeful that I could get another terrain piece finished by the end of the year!

So, if I’m doing this badly at keeping to my goals, what the hell have I been doing?!

Despite all of my goals being centred around 40k, I’ve actually spent the year painting up a near-complete army for Age of Sigmar! I’ve painted up loads of Ossiarch Bonereapers, which makes me happy! I’ve even done some terrain for the fantasy game! Definitely unexpected, that one!

At the minute, I’m not really able to paint anything, as I’m in full-on baby-care mode. But hopefully as the year moves on, I’ll be able to get somewhere as life returns to something like normal. Fingers crossed!! It’ll be interesting to see how far I get with all this!!

New Kill Team!

We have another new edition of Kill Team coming soon, and it does look kinda tasty, I have to say!

It looks quite wonderful, for sure – Death Corps of Krieg vs Orks, and we have a box load of Ork shanty-town style terrain, too!

Now, I’m not an Ork fan, not really. They’re possibly the only faction in 40k that I’ve never really shown any interest in collecting, but these models have got so much character that I have been finding myself wondering if the time has come! I mean, look at them!

What has really piqued my interest though, is the plastic Death Corps models that are coming!

These really are some of the most beautiful, characterful models that I’ve seen for 40k in some time. Multipart plastic models that have the options to make regular guardsmen, but which come with a Veterans sprue that allow for all of the specialist models for Kill Team – I mean, this all sounds so perfect!

The thing is, my buddy James already has a Krieg army, and I have no interest in stepping on anyone’s toes. I also have no genuine interest in Orks, so this set – while initially full of excitement for me, has actually fallen off the wayside now, and I think I’ll most likely pass. Even when the separate boxes come out, I don’t really know if I’d buy the guard, as it would only really be for a painting project.

However, I’m really torn because this, perhaps more than any other box that GW has produced, is giving me strong board-game vibes, and I think it looks like an excellent game to keep for its own merits. The previous iteration of Kill Team had that to some extent, though I think that box was always seen as a launch set for the Sector Imperialis terrain, and recycled some Skitarii and Neophytes. This box feels much more like the miniatures are designed for the box, and not designed for 40k. But that’s probably just me!

I find it interesting that these models have almost been specifically designed for KT, though are perfectly usable in 40k – rather than the other way round. It’s led to some discussion on the Facebook group over whether we’re seeing something akin to Warcry. Intriguing, if we are – I’ve previously thought the future of Kill Team could have been in putting out “legendary teams” much like the Rogue Trader box, rather than continually drafting in different units from regular 40k.

It’s definitely exciting me to see the evolution of the game from my first encounter with the system back in 7th edition. Rather than being 40k lite, or some kind of weird tacked-on small scale game of 40k, we appear to be getting a genuine skirmish game that seems to have a real narrative focus. In the stream, it felt like they were placing a lot of emphasis on the narrative of what a kill team actually is, so I think it could be fascinating to see how they’ll handle this sort of thing, going forward. The last iteration of the game was very much centred on recycling existing content, with the very notable exception of the Rogue Trader box, and so we never really got anything that was actually new and exciting for the game – we just got a rules system to overlay onto 40k models, albeit very nicely marketed. The Death Corps, and (surprisingly, to me) the Ork Kommandos both feel very much like an actual Kill Team, something that I suppose has previously only really been seen in the Deathwatch lore.

Aside from seeing some vaguely whacky measuring rules, I don’t know anything about what we can expect so far, but I think having some genuine kill teams in this core box is setting the stage for what could be something special. If we do get expansion boxes along the Warcry mould, rather than the previous Kill Team method of repackaged 40k stuff, I think we could really be getting something good here.

I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this, anyway!

I think this could well be an interesting time for skirmish games in the 41st millennium!!

House of Blades (part two)

Hey everybody,
Over the past few days, I’ve been managing to juggle looking after my now two-week-old daughter while also deep-diving into the House of Blades for Necromunda, I honestly don’t know how this has been achieved, but I’m just going with it and somehow managing to help keep a tiny person alive (full disclosure: my wife does the lion’s share!) and also throw around ideas for a starting gang. Having now picked up the Escher reinforcements, as well as the Escher plastic weapons set, I feel like I’m now poised on the brink of greatness here!

So this is very much my first effort at creating an Escher gang. Back when I first picked up the boxed game, I built up the Escher side of the box pretty much as the instructions told me, without knowing anything about anything. So I already have ten gangers built, but I don’t really want to play that type of gang, as I feel as though it’s a bit boring. As an aside, I can’t believe how non-descript the Escher sprue is – the weapons are all pretty basic things, there are no special weapons beside the chem thrower and combi needler! I’m so glad that GW has finally brought out an affordable upgrade sprue, because these gangs really need it! I just hope they actually produce such things for the other gangs (wouldn’t it be awesome if the reason why the Enforcers and Corpse Grinder Cult hasn’t had any Forge World upgrades is because they’re going to make them in plastic instead?)

Now that I have Hive War, I’ve got ten more Sisters to build, and I definitely want to make sure that I’m building them the way that I want!

In the above list, there are only three more gangers to build: the needle rifle, the autogun, and the Little Sister with autopistol and stub gun. Only the autogun comes in the base gang set, so let’s give another cheer for the plastic upgrade set!

This gang is the first time that I’m including juves – for the Escher, we’re now calling them Little Sisters – and I have to say, I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier. While the leader is always going to be a touch on the expensive side, having juves does allow you to then include either a couple more special types, or just more bodies in general. As an aside, I’ve gone for the needle rifle on my specialist Sister (ganger), which is only a slight extravagance – I think my very first thought of including a plasma gun in the list meant that one ganger cost 160 credits! Far too extravagant! I have given her flak armour, to at least try to ensure she stays with me, but after talking it over in the Escher facebook group, flak armour (most of the time) is a bit of a waste of credits across the whole gang, because it will work so rarely, but can be the cost of a whole other ganger if you cut it entirely!

I’ve also picked up the reinforcements kit (are we calling them that?) with Death Maidens and Wyld Runners, and the cats. I love the variety that these things give, especially how the earlier kits like that for Escher are basically just more of the same, albeit with much more exotic options. I do feel that stuff like Van Saar and (particularly) Delaque have had some very weird reinforcements, but anyway. I wanted to include one of the Death Maidens because I find them utterly fascinating, and I think it’ll be an interesting sort of game to have an undead Sister running about. The lore on these things is very creepy, and I think it definitely adds depth to the House.

While I’ve mostly been plotting my list and reading up on the lore while giving my wife a break from dealing with Freya, at the weekend I was actually able to grab about an hour’s hobby time during the day, so built up the Death Maiden as well as threw a bit of paint on some gangers! I’m still not 100% sure on the sort of colour scheme that I want to go for – I had been considering a violet and maybe green theme, then I thought maybe about doing something with orange, but now I’m leaning more towards having a grungy sort of look, and only picking out things like the feathers in brighter colours. I mean, this is the Underhive still, and I’m not entirely convinced that the gang would be able to keep their boob armour that pristine yellow on the box art…

I’m also not convinced by that almost-purple skin tone they use for the models, although given the lore of chem-cults and so forth, I suppose it might fit with the notion of some gangers being almost drug-addicts. I’m going to stick with my more “normal” skintones, anyway, and see how far I get.

So there we have it – my starting gang, nine models strong, with some fairly interesting things going on (hopefully!) I still need to think about skills for the champions and leader, but I’m currently dying from a cold (it’s not COVID, honest!) so I don’t really have the wherewithal to make those sorts of decisions yet! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have some more hobby time before I go back to work in two weeks, and maybe I’ll have some completed gangers to show for it!

But let’s try to keep things real here…

So much Necromunda!

Hey everybody,
I recently got to play my very first game of Necromunda, for real, and it was awesome! It was my Delaque vs James’ Orlocks, and it was an absolute blast! We did have to take our time going through the rules, and trying to make sure we were playing properly etc. But the game was really good, I have to say.

I’ve previously played twice against myself, of course, so had a vague understanding of how the game plays etc, but it’s no substitute for coming up against a real opponent. Both games were against Van Saar, as well, so getting to play against Orlocks was good for the variety, too. The game was a basic brawl, with no other objective than to wipe each other out. While I did manage to draw first blood with a simple vaporising one gang member with my champion’s grav gun, I was ultimately defeated when my last guy was seen off.

Interestingly, both our gangs didn’t really draw in to close combat. Delaque weaponry is almost at its best in the mid-to-short range, it seems, and so I was getting perhaps closer than I would normally like, but I was still holding back from properly getting stuck into melee. The Orlock gang was built with the full suite of new rules from House of Iron, whereas my Delaque are still awaiting their update from House of Shadows later in the year, but even so, I didn’t feel like I was particularly outclassed as a result.

Things are a bit on-hold for the time being, as I plunge once more into child-rearing with the secondborn, but once we can be reliably sure that both kids are sleeping through the night, I’m hoping that James and I can make a start on a campaign! We’ve not really made much headway into deciding any particulars of course, but I have so much stuff for this game that I doubt we’ll actually be at a loss.

I’ve decided that I need to pick up some more gangers, so have bought the FW heads to try and get some variety in there. I already have one of the weapon packs, but I’m actually thinking that I could do with more basic-weapon guys in my group! I think the Delaque in particular were a bit of a victim of my over-zealous building with the fancy stuff back in the day, so that when I came to create the gang properly, I found that I couldn’t actually use all 10 in a starting force. So I’m thinking more shotguns and more pistols. Basic stuff, so more bodies from the off.

In terms of the actual ganger bodies themselves, though, I’m going to get the new Hive War box, mainly because it’s only marginally more expensive than buying a gang box and the scenery separate, and for the extra £10 I’d get ten more Escher and the extra gubbins that I could potentially sell off regardless. So that’ll be something to take a look at some time soon. I’ve already got another box of the platforms and stairs, but have held off from putting any of it together because I don’t really know what I want to do with it. I think having the extra columns and walls from the new box will give me even more scope with the terrain that came in Dark Uprising, and so I think I should be able to get some interesting terrain set ups in the future! I’d been playing around with a few configurations prior to the game, and have taken the plunge with gluing some more platforms together, creating a nice bit of modular centrepiece stuff – now, of course, I just need to paint it all! I definitely need something simple, because I’m already looking at a hell of a lot of plastic that needs covering, and have seen a few different schemes now that look interesting enough, so it’s only a matter of time!

Having painted up all 10 of the Delaque to a reasonable standard, though, I’m now turning my attention once more to Van Saar. I do have House of Artifice, of course, and have been quite keenly reading through it of late, to see what these books actually have to offer. It’s a bit like a compulsion for me, to buy the new Necromunda stuff when it’s released, but then not get round to reading it – though I suppose it’s only recently that I’ve been assured of actually using this stuff in games.

I’m actually really impressed with the amount of stuff that is in these books, between the lore and the new rules. I’ve barely scratched the surface for the moment, of course, but I’ll have plenty of time, between feeds, with which to get to grips with it all. Something that I’ve been really excited about is the Alliances stuff, where each House has a set of three other groups with which they have a Strong Alliance. Basically free fighters for the gang, these things are very interesting, and I’m excited at the prospect that we might be getting miniatures for them all when Forge World gets back up and running. I’m half sure that I remember something from one of the Open Days where they showed off artwork for possible upcoming models, or something? We’ll see, I guess, when the world returns to normal.

So far, each gang book has given options for an alliance with a Guild, a Recidivist (criminal) group, and a Noble House. Van Saar has a strong alliance with the Promethium Guild, Imperial Imposters, and House Catullus, and can choose to form an alliance with one of these groups during a campaign. The benefits are free fighters and perhaps other benefits like bonus credits after a scenario, or access to exotic weaponry and upgrades. However, you might get bonus credits, but sometimes the alliance you’re in might result in there being a negative effect, like the noble house taking a huge cut of your profits. It’s really intriguing me, and I’m finding myself hopeful for seeing some new models for these things in due course! The Slave Guild has already come out for Goliath in House of Chains, and I believe the Water Guild is due at some point for House of Blades, so I’m cautiously optimistic. These groups seem to only be two-to-four models, though the Slave Guild is about £40 to pick up. The recent weapons for Goliath and Escher in plastic, though, make me wonder whether the future of Necromunda might well lie in more plastic…

At any rate, Necromunda is a game that has me incredibly excited right now! We’re a few more months away from House of Shadows, at which point we’ll be once more staring over the precipice of what can be coming next. A lot of people on the internets seem to be expect Spyrers at some point, which is one of these storied names about which I know nothing! I’d like to think we could potentially have models for these Noble Houses / Guilds / Recidivists. The depth of this game, though, means that we could be seeing quite literally anything coming out, and it will no doubt be utterly glorious!

Age of Sigmar: Dominion

The new box set has been previewed! This thing is choc-full of interesting goodies, featuring Stormcast vs a new breed of Orruks, the Kruleboyz. We’re firmly in the realm of beasts, and we have some swanky new Stormcast models, the first (I think) since Soul Wars updated the range a few years ago.

The new Stormcast look like they’re a tougher breed than the wizards we had last time, but this addition has got to be making their battletome really quite bloated. Interesting.

The new Stormcast do look nice, of course, and I really like this character, as I think I have mentioned before:

She looks utterly amazing, don’t you think?

However, these are what has got me most interested in the box. The Kruleboyz have got a cunning look about them, and seem much more intelligent than the regular greenskins. I’m intrigued because it’s always nice to see a new race involved in these games, and there is an element of world-building that will be interesting to explore.

The big hero miniature is quite something, for sure, and I love the dynamism of the pose, with his big battle cat leaping down off the ruin. The draping filth off these things is really evocative of the swamp, and these guys are just brimming with character!

The sorcerer chap looks particularly funky, with his sous-chef assistant there.

There is a very interesting mix of guys, although of course they all follow the established pattern of having some leaders, a heavy group of warriors and a larger mob of more runty chaps.

This doesn’t seem to be all that’s coming though, as we’ve seen previews for a few more units for each force, including a Stormcast chariot (like the olden days! Chariots for all!) and this for the Kruleboyz:

It’s a wonderful piece of artillery, though they’re also getting a very angry troll:

The Mirebrute Troggoth looks wonderful, and I can’t imagine being able to resist this dude when he is released into the wild!

However, I’m finding it very hard to get excited for this box, because of the paragraphs towards the end of the article. It’s up for pre-order in June, but it’s another of these “while stocks last” thing. I don’t understand it. I was able to pick up Soul Wars about six months after the launch, but this is the same language as Indomitus, and that box disappeared at a rate of knots. Given the way things have been with the big boxsets of late, as well, I really have no faith in the Dominion box being any different – it’ll be available for pre-order for maybe 20 minutes, and then it’ll disappear. Which will no doubt make for good reading for the shareholders, but is disappointing because the odds are it won’t be available for the people at whom it’s intended.

But lets not end this on a downer. The new Orruks look wonderful, and it’ll be interesting to see how third edition changes the game – and whether we’re in for any more new races!

The Adepta Sororitas

Hey everybody,
Welcome back to the second part of my Codex deep-dive into the Sisters of Battle, this time looking across the wider suite of rules n the book and seeing what I can make with the models that I have.

Last time, I was looking at the army-wide rules and how they all fit in with what the army is trying to accomplish. Now, I’ve started to re-work my list ideas into something that I will have to aim for, without trying to get too far ahead of myself, of course! There’s always the danger of running away with myself when doing this sort of thing – building a load of models up, and then feeling overwhelmed by it all! I’ve moved away from the initial list that I had made,

I’m aiming for 1500 points, though I don’t want to worry just yet about how I will fill all of this. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting more troops, of course, and with the new releases on their way I want to keep my options open for what new stuff I’ll be sprinkling in.

I’m playing Order of the Sacred Rose, as I’ve said before. The rules for this Order Conviction are:
– no more than one model can flee when a Morale test is failed;
– regain one Miracle die on a 5+ after performing an Act of Faith;
– Overwatch attacks hit on a 5 or 6.

In addition to the usual relics and warlord traits on offer, there is a stratagem for the Order that allows for hit rolls of 6 during Overwatch to score 1 additional hit. Wonderful stuff!

Let’s start at the top, anyway, with the Canoness. The warlord trait that I have chosen is Light of the Emperor, the Sacred Rose specific trait that allows for the warlord to gain one Miracle die after performing an Act of Faith, with no roll needed. The relic she has merely improves the damage output of the blessed blade from D3 to a flat 3. I’m not really sure how to use the model yet though, as I’m always a bit wary of throwing my warlord into the thick of things, but there are a number of stratagems that can protect characters – and even bring them back from the dead, if need be!

I’m intending to run the Canoness around with her bodyguard unit of Celestians, anyway. The squad has a slightly better stat line than the basic Sisters squad, though both units can equip one heavy weapon and one special weapon, or two special weapons. They have a better WS, and more attacks, which could be seen as making the case for equipping the Celestian Superior with a fancier weapon, but the chainsword is always a solid option for granting one additional attack! I’m going for a general theme of having my Sisters preferring melta weaponry, so the squad has a meltagun and an inferno pistol in there. However, there is also the heavy flamer, and three bolt guns, meaning that it is a viable target for the Holy Trinity stratagem, which gives +1 to wound if flamer, melta and bolt weaponry all fire at the same target. In addition, Celestians can re-roll hit rolls while within 6″ of a character model, so I think it’ll be good to keep them close to the Canoness!

Let’s talk about close combat now. I said before that I’m planning to have the core of the army reflective of the launch box for the new army, so I’ve worked in the squad of Sisters Repentia with the Repentia Superior to chivvy them along. The elite slot is really heavy in a Sisters army, though the Repentia Superior doesn’t count in it while she comes alongside a group of penitents. However, when I start wanting to expand into the Dialogus et al, I think I’m going to need a new detachment!

The Repentia can re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 6″ of the Superior. They also have the Zealot rule, which allows them to re-roll hit rolls if they charged or were charged that phase. So there are definitely options to improve their accuracy. 8 attacks in the squad, at S6 AP-3 and 2 damage each, togged up with these re-rolls, should be quite nice! The Repentia also have their own stratagem, Final Redemption – when the unit is being attacked, each time a model is destroyed, you get to inflict a mortal wound on the attacking unit on a 4+. There is also the option, for 3CP, to get the unit to fight again at the end of the fight phase, which may also be useful!

The arco-flagellants are one of the ecclesiarchy battle conclave units that are allowed in the army. They also have the Zealot rule, and have a unique stratagem, Extremis Trigger Word. This one is interesting, because the regular group of three – two flagellants and an endurant – has a base 7 attacks. However, for each attack, you make D3 hit rolls, and the stratagem makes that a flat 3. So 7 attacks, making three hit rolls each – 21 dice, at S5 AP-1 and 1 damage each… oh yes! The only downside to this is that you must then roll a D6 for each model, and on a 6, they die.

The group of Retributors that I’ve recently put together is made up of a pair each of multi-meltas and heavy bolters, with the Retributor Superior has a combi-plasma and power maul. I’m still not a big fan of the Superior’s pose, it looks incredibly awkward somehow, but anyway. Retributor Squads also have a unique stratagem, which costs 2CP and allows you to choose an effect depending on the weapon load out – +1 to hit for a heavy bolter OR re-roll the wound roll for a heavy flamer OR +12″ to the range of all multi-meltas and +1 damage for a multi-melta. Having a pair of multi-meltas, I think I’ll probably be using it for them, as the range increase will mean the melta effect will kick in within 18″, but will still give them the same range of the heavy bolters.

I’ve got the Penitent Engine in here for some added threat – it’s not a particularly big model, if I’m honest, though it’s bigger than anything else in this line-up, armed with a pair of heavy flamers and capable of 5 S8 attacks at AP-3. Very nice, but I do worry about it getting stuck in with only being T5 at 5 wounds. There’s very little to bolster it, being an Adeptus Ministorum unit, though the same 3CP stratagem as the Repentia have does apply to the Engines as well, allowing them to fight twice.

Something that I’ve been backwards and forwards on multiple times, though, is the Dominion squad. The purpose of these girls has eluded me for a while, flicking casually through the Codex, but it’s clear that their intended purpose is to move up the board as quickly as possible to maximise on positioning, and then either objective-camp with their fancy weapons, or aggressively go after a choice target. They really are a special weapon showcase, being able to take four of them per squad. On the competitive scene, the go-to load-out seems to be four storm bolters, to use the Blessed Bolts stratagem. For 1CP, you can make storm bolters AP-2 and D2 each. That’s pretty good, although I find it a bit boring to equip the squad entirely the same, you know? So I’ve added in some meltagun girls because they’re going to be moving significantly, anyway – the melta effect comes into play at 6″, but even at their maximum range of 12″, that’ll put the storm bolters into rapid fire range for some serious threat.

I would just like to point out, as well, that the Battle Sisters box, which can also be used to build Dominions and Celestians, comes with four of each special weapon, so you don’t get shafted if you’re trying to build them as Dominions. Excellent stuff, there!

Of course, as with a lot of the ranged units in the force, there are a few targets for specific stratagems that I’ve mentioned; the Sacred Rose-specific The Emperor’s Judgement allowing for exploding hits on 6s in Overwatch will be useful for a variety of units, after all. Blessed Bolts can be used by the regular Battle Sisters, one of whom has a storm bolter, etc.


I think this is going to be a good start to the army, though of course with a new Codex on the way, who knows how any of this will hold over? Yesterday, I was reading the latest Battle Sister Bulletin that began to tease new rules for the army, giving us six battle hymns that we can have a priest sing at the start of the turn. It reminded me a lot of Canticles of the Omnissiah for the Adeptus Mechanicus, though I suppose the Prayers to the Dark Gods from the Heretic Astartes might be more appropriate. These priests can provide some very nice aura effects, such as causing auto-hits on 6s for bolt weapons fired by a unit within 6″, or to shut down any psykers attempting to manifest powers at a nearby unit. Very powerful, that one, and what I find more interesting is that the Dialogus is now seemingly classed as a priest, herself – as well as the new Dogmata model.

I know not everybody likes the new model, but I can certainly see a place for her with these hymns being on the horizon!

At any rate, I’ve got plenty to be getting along with here, so hopefully I can make a concerted effort to get painting these models next! We’ve got a long weekend coming up, and it’ll soon be time for my May retrospective, so keep an eye out for some progress on the Battle Sisters, soon!!

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!!

Warhammer Underworlds

Hey everybody,
Today is game day once more here at spalanz.com, and today I’m going to talk about my latest obsession: Warhammer Underworlds! It’s been out for years, and I’ve had the Nightvault core set hanging about for a couple of years now, but only recently started thinking about it seriously for the game, rather than the miniatures as part of the larger Age of Sigmar game.

I do love the miniatures though, it has to be said they’re some of the best fantasy sculpts out there!

Anyway, Warhammer Underworlds is heavily marketed as the competitive miniatures game, and you can really tell just from reading the rulebook. Everything is quite strict and laid-out, trying really hard to cut out any room for error or misinterpretation. Of course, some rules can come across a bit thickly, if that makes sense, though subsequent “seasons” have sought to refine the rules to the point where, I believe, they’re in the best shape yet.

Seasons, I hear you ask?
There have been four seasons, as the time I’m writing this. Shadespire, Nightvault, Beastgrave, and Direchasm. To remain competitive, while keeping the bar for entry somewhat low, a system of rotation was introduced to keep only the two most recent core boxes current – something akin to Standard for Magic the Gathering, I guess. Whether additional formats will come in time, along the lines of Modern say, I suppose time will tell. At any rate, the cardpool is kept small enough that it doesn’t become too arduous to build a deck for the game.

A deck, you say? But GW are a miniatures company!
Ah yes, Games Workshop is mainly all about the minis, for sure. But Warhammer Underworlds is a curious mix of miniatures and deckbuilding. When assembling your warband, you build two decks; an objective deck and a power deck. At the start of the game, you draw three objective cards, and five power cards; the objective cards are exactly that, objectives that you can aim to score throughout the game. These can be scored immediately or at the end of the game, and upon achievement they give you “glory” – at the end of the game, the player with the most glory wins.

Power cards are a more immediate benefit, which come in two flavours – upgrades and gambits. Upgrades can, well, upgrade fighters for the cost of the glory that you have earned (this doesn’t remove that glory from your final pool, though), whereas gambits can be more one-time effects. With Nightvault, the game had the addition of Magic, and several gambits come in the form of spells, which can be used only by wizards in your band.

There are of course many rules for deckbuilding, which is pretty much true of any such game of course. You can only have 12 objectives, only six of which can be “surge” objectives (the type you can score immediately once the conditions are met). The power deck must have at least 20 cards, no more than half of which can be gambit cards. Additionally, you cannot use multiple copies of the same card.

So how do you play?
The game lasts for three rounds, which are split into four activations for each player. Perhaps the best thing about this game is that it follows an I go/You go principle of alternating activations, so you don’t have to sit through one person working out their strategy for the whole turn. Warbands come in many sizes, from three to nine fighters, though you only have four activations to work through each round, causing a lot of decisions as to who you use and who you leave back.

Each fighter can move, attack, charge or go on-guard. In addition, there are player activations that you can take, such as discarding and drawing cards. Interestingly, fighters can be activated more than once per round, however once a fighter moves he receives a token which means he can’t perform the same action again. In addition, if the fighter charges, he receives a token which means he can’t be activated again. But in theory, you can move the fighter in the first activation, and then attack with the same fighter in each subsequent activation. Very useful if your warband is reduced to one fighter!

The game uses special dice, which can be a little confusing at first of course, as with any game that uses such dice. The white dice are used for attacks; black for defence, and blue for magic. Each fighter’s card uses a fairly elegant system to show how they move, attack and defend, as well as their wounds characteristic.

On the left we have the weapons, showing the range (in hexes), number of attack dice rolled, as well as what you need to roll for a success, and then how much damage the attack deals. Attack dice have two hammer symbols, one crossed swords symbol, and a critical success symbol. When attacking, a critical success symbol has the potential to cancel out any successful defence roll, and the other way round.

Rather than trying to cover the whole gameplay thing, it might be easier if I just link to the GW video where Becca Scott explains it all:

While you can attempt to destroy your opponent’s warband, the game is all about playing the objectives, of course, and at the end of the game, the player with the most glory is the winner – even if they have no fighters left standing.

I’ve recently picked up the Direchasm box, which I’ve been eyeing up for a while because of the Slaanesh warband, but decided it was high time I actually see what I’ve been missing out on all these years. The short answer, of course, is a lot of fun! Sadly, due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, I’ve been unable to play real games, so have been checking things out by playing against myself, but already I’m pretty hooked!

I’ve played one game with each core game so far – although I think I may have sold off the Stormcast that came in the Nightvault box, so instead I used the Godsworn Hunt warband, which I have hanging about because I love the aesthetic so much. As shown up at the top, the Thorns of the Briar Queen warband is the only one that I have fully painted up, though, so it was a pleasure to get those guys out at last!

It’s definitely the sort of game that I can see myself really immersing into. I’m not about to go ahead and plough a lot of money into all the various warbands, of course, but I would like to pick up a few (probably ones that I have already earmarked for their miniatures) so that I can get a wider cardpool to use, and of course having different warbands to try is always going to be a nice bonus!

The rotation thing that I mentioned before does give me pause, though. The Nightvault game that I had yesterday was played using cards and warbands from that season – kinda like Block Constructed for MtG, I suppose! The way that rotation works, all the Warbands currently out there are still legal, including any warband-specific cards they have. But each warband is sold in a pack that includes 60 cards, roughly half of which are “universal” – when a season rotates out, those universal cards go with it. If a card is then featured in a new, current season after being printed in the older one, you can use the old printing if you like. I’m not sure how many cards that affects – there are probably sites out there that crunch these sorts of numbers! – but it’s something I find interesting insofar as longevity of the product. I’m not trying to say that I’m against rotation per se, especially when you think I’m trying to get into the game during its fourth season, so would otherwise have quite the task ahead of me to do so! But while I like the look of the Beastmen warband from Beastgrave, I’m probably not going to buy that set because it’s going to be rotating out this year…

Obviously, rotation only affects tournament play and I don’t think I’m likely to be playing in any such events with a baby due in two months’ time, but I’d like to get as much play out of my stuff as possible. Luckily, Direchasm seems to have the greatest number yet of warbands that I’m actually interested in – along with the Slaanesh Hedonite warband from the core box, there are Slaves to Darkness and Ossiarch Bonereapers, Idoneth Deepkin and even Seraphon.

I’m two games in, and already I can feel myself getting sucked in to the whole thing. I’m finding myself pondering deckbuilds, and wanting to read up on all of the Glory Points articles in White Dwarf that I have, up to this point, been ignoring. The rule book covers all kinds of different scenarios and has rules to cover supporting other fighters during activations etc. There is a lot of depth to the otherwise basic gameplay that I tried to summarise earlier! I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m going to be talking about this game again, and most likely soon!

Oh, GeeDubs…

So the new Warhammer Quest board game is no longer available online. I mean, it’s not even out yet, this is being written during the pre-order week. But they’ve been hyping it for months, and now have sold out. I believe they’re making more, so it’s probably not going to be a problem – the quote is something like, they’re going to keep the base game in stock as they have done for Blackstone Fortress, which is still available as I write this.

But the way this sold out during the pre-order window, much like Piety and Pain, and Indomitus, and the plastic Sisters box, makes me baffled, for sure!

It feels very much like GW are increasingly all about the big splash releases, selling big boxes in small quantities rather than just letting people access their product in a more reasonable fashion. There is internet cynicism abound, of course, which blames shareholders and so on, but it definitely feels like GW has at the very least, shuffled a little away from being all about public engagement. On the one hand, they’re giving us incredible releases like Cursed City, but on the other they’re not really giving everybody the chance to experience that. An actual pre-order system, whereby you register your interest to buy the product and then they go ahead and fulfil that, would perhaps have been better, going up right at the start of the hype season.

I mean, they’re a fairly large company. They should be able to deal with that, right?

As it is, my interest was kinda waning anyway, but now I’m just thinking, I have enough plastic to keep me going. I’m fine with this. I don’t really have the energy for big splash releases anymore…

/grumpy old man rant 🤣