Sin of Damnation

Hey everybody!
I recently finished reading the novella Sin of Damnation, also known as Space Hulk: the novel, so thought I’d turn this week into some kind of Warhammer 40k nostalgia week and talk about it here for a bit!

The novella runs to just under 100 pages, and reads a lot like a disaster movie. It’s basically a novelisation of the events of the classic board game, and takes us though the Blood Angels first company boarding the space hulk Sin of Damnation. I thought it was quite funny how it felt a little like a RPG storyline, with the terminators fulfilling objectives aboard the space hulk at the direction of the off-screen Captain Raphael, who seemed to be some kind of weird GM.

Of course, there is a lot of space marine vs genestealer action in the book, with some really nicely written parts from the point-of-view of the Broodlord. While the story lacks the scope of something like Shield of Baal: Deathstorm, there is nevertheless the sense that this is the antecedent of the Shield of Baal storyline.

As the story went on, I thought it was interesting to note that there were multiple Broodlords within the hulk, something I guess I hadn’t thought about previously. Just assumed that there’d be one overall leader that directed the hive mind. But there we go!

The book also includes a second short story that was published in the 2014 edition, Sanguis Irae, which follows the librarian Calistarius on another hulk, as he delves into the mind of a long-comatose Blood Angel who has managed to preserve his life despite being in the grip of the Black Rage, enough to allow his battle brothers to defeat a Navigator-Broodlord aboard the vessel. That was weird, I have to say, and I found myself trying to work out how such a creature would come to be – presumably a member of the Navis Nobilite was infected by a genestealer, so the child was both purestrain and a navigator? Who knows. The story was quite intriguing in the way it blended the recollections of the Black Rage guy, along with the fact that the Black Rage basically makes a Blood Angel believe he is Sanguinius in his final moments aboard the Vengeful Spirit. The three timelines of the story worked quite well, at any rate, and it wasn’t as confusing as perhaps it could have been!

Anyway, all this talk of genestealers has me wanting to share with you all some progress with my own brood!

As you know, I’ve been struggling for years now to get my Genestealer Cult models painted – I love the army, and love the models, but find it extremely difficult to actually make any headway with the force, due to the models being so insanely detailed. I recently managed to finish 11 Neophyte Hybrids, which I think has helped a great deal to see how I can get the colour scheme painted in bulk, and have therefore been ploughing ahead with some Acolyte Hybrids this time around – as well as the first of my Purestrains!

The minis are definitely coming along nicely, I think! I’m a little concerned that they look a bit too blue in comparison with the Neophytes, but they are more hunched, so it is slightly more difficult to make out the points of similarity between the two troops choices. But they’re painted with the same fatigues, armour and such – it’s just that the Acolytes have more carapace on show!

I’m quite pleased that I’ve managed to get these painted in a little less than a month, however – especially considering there has been a lot of Necron activity going on in the month, also!

I’m pretty much committed to playing the Cult in Kill Team for now, anyway, so I’ve got a few more models I want to paint up for that, then I’ll have my main force finished. My local GW has a campaign starting on the 15th, though I’m currently away on honeymoon so won’t be able to join in with that quite yet! Once I have my Cult sorted though, I’ll be able to focus once more on getting the Necrons reanimated in the Thokt Dynasty colour scheme, and that will likely take me up to the end of the year! Splendid!

Space Hulk!

Hey everybody!
It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for another game day blog here at! To celebrate the return of the classic boardgame Space Hulk to stores this weekend, I thought I’d get all topical-like, and look at the game that I picked up back in September 2014 – let’s go purge some xenos!

Space Hulk

The original game dates from 1989, and was instrumental in launching terminators and genestealers into the Warhammer 40,000 universe as the icons that they remain today. Over the years, there have been a number of re-iterations of the game, as detailed in a recent article on the Warhammer Community pages, with third edition coming in 2009, and the current, fourth edition, coming five years later. Common to all iterations, of course, is the cast of twelve Blood Angels terminators, and the horde of genestealers:

Space Hulk

Space Hulk is played in Missions, and there are sixteen missions included in the Mission Book. Each mission will tell you how many models you start with – how many marines, and what they’re equipped with, and how many ‘blips’ the Genestealer player starts with. There are a number of entry pointed marked on the set-up map, from where the blips can enter the board on the Genestealer player’s turn. I’ll talk more about this in the Reinforcement Phase, below.

Command Phase
At the start of the turn, the Space Marines player randomly selects a command points counter, each numbered from 1-6, to indicate how many command points he has for that turn. Space Marines can take a number of set actions, however these points indicate the number of additional actions the marines can take. If the marines use more command actions than is printed on the token, they automatically lose!

Once the command points counter has been placed, the Genestealer player starts the timer, which gives the marines a defined window of 2’43 to take actions for the entire team.

Action Phase
Each Space Marine has 4 action points he can use to take a number of actions, from a menu of 11 total actions. Each of these actions takes up a number of action points, such as opening a door for one point, or firing a heavy flamer for two points. You need to completely finish the activation of each marine before moving on to the next – the only exception being if you then come back to that marine to spend a command point. While firing their storm bolters at the genestealers itself costs a point, marines can also fire at the end of some movements for no additional cost.

When moving, models move in the direction they are facing, and to turn 90° costs the marines an action point. These marines are clad in tactical dreadnought armour (terminators, to you and me!) and so are fairly bulky; the narrow confines of the space hulk therefore impede their movement, whereas the Genestealers are much more lithe and nimble.

Genestealers have a total of 6 action points in their turn, and can spin about to change their facing at no extra cost once they have spent each of those points.

Space Hulk

Shooting stuff
Space Marine Terminators are equipped with a panoply of wargear that will help them to purge the xenos aboard the space hulk, most commonly the storm bolter, but also larger stuff like the heavy flamer or assault cannon, and combat stuff like power fists and lightning claws. Each of these weapons has various rules associated with it, as detailed in the rulebook. Storm bolters and assault cannons have no maximum range, you just need to see the model you’re trying to hit. The flamer is an area-effect weapon that can only hit up to twelve squares away. When rolling to hit, you roll two dice for storm bolters, three for assault cannons, and as many as there are models in the area for flamers, and if you roll a 6+, a 5+ or a 2+ for each respective weapon, you hit the model and it is destroyed.

Normally, you can only do stuff on your own turn, but the marines can take an Overwatch action which effectively readies them to fire at genestealers on their turn, instead. Only assault cannons and storm bolters can do this. Overwatch shooting takes place at the end of each genestealer’s action within 12 squares and line of sight of the marine on Overwatch. It can be a useful tactic to put a marine on Overwatch, to force the Genestealer player to re-think their strategy if they don’t want to lose that model.

Unfortunately, Overwatch does come with a price for the marines and, if he rolls doubles on the shooting roll, the weapon jams and he will need to spend an action point on his own turn to clear that jam. So he might be valiantly placed to cause the genestealers to pause in their advance but, on the first roll his weapon jams, and they’ll be all over him like a rash!

Space Hulk

Close Assault
As well as shooting storm bolters and stuff, marines come equipped with power swords and chainfists to use in melee fights with the genestealers. However, close assault is really where the xenos menace excels, so you probably don’t want to end up there!

Space Hulk

In close assault, genestealers get to roll three dice, while marines only roll one; whoever rolls the highest result on a single die wins the assault, and the other models is removed as a casualty. Space Marine Sergeants get to add +1 to their roll, which gives them a bit of an edge, while a marine with lightning claws rolls two dice in close assault. Additionally, marines can spend two action points to go on Guard, meaning they’re ready for the assault and can re-roll their die in combat. So they’re not entirely squishy!

Reinforcement Phase
After the Action Phase comes the Genestealer’s turn, starting with placing a number of ‘starting blips’ at the entry points on the space hulk as mentioned earlier. These blips are numbered from 1-3, and show how many models they will turn into – however, in keeping with the suspense of the game, the marines won’t know how many genestealers are out there until they’re converted into actual models.

Space Hulk

Before conversion, blips can move around the map like regular models, spending up to six action points per blip as described. If the blip hasn’t activated, the player can choose to convert it into a number of models shown on the token, placing one on the square the blip had been occupying and the remainder adjacent to it. If the space marines can ever draw a line of sight to the blip, then it is “involuntarily converted”, and the Space Marines player gets to place the genestealer models.

It’s worth noting that the number of genestealer models is limited to the number of them included in the game, though there are 22 models plus the Broodlord, so you probably won’t be needing a lot more than that!

Mission Status Phase
At the end of all of this, each player checks for his victory condition, before then removing all Overwatch/Guard counters from the game (and revealing that Command Points token to show the marines didn’t overspend!) and a new round begins.

The mission I’ve been using to demonstrate throughout this game day blog is Beachhead, which runs to 12 turns and allows the marines to win if they still have at least seven men standing, and have eradicated the genestealer threat. The Genestealer player wins if there are less than five space marines alive, however, so the game could potentially last fewer turns if the genestealers have been super aggressive!

Space Hulk

There are, of course, multiple other rules for things like objects that are specific to the mission, and there are two ‘special’ characters in the game, the Librarian and the Broodlord, who have abilities that can impact on the game in different ways. The Librarian is a psyker, and has three Psychic Powers he can use. Each costs a Psi point, and he starts out with 20 such points. There is a whole section of the Mission Status Display board devoted to tracking his use of these points. His psychic powers can be used to move the command point tracker back one, gaining additional command actions on a turn, as well as blocking access to squares with a powerful Force Barrier. Finally, his Psychic Storm power can empty a board section of genestealers or blips on a 4+ (or destroy individual targets on a 2+). However, the Broodlord is a powerful genestealer, and has the ability to increase his close assault rolls and requires two hits to kill in shooting attacks – and is immune to Psychic Storm!

Space Hulk

Back in the first edition of Space Hulk, there were a couple of expansions that increased the options of play: Genestealer, which brought in new rules for psychic combat as well as five Grey Knights terminators and genestealer hybrids, and Deathwing, which introduced both the elite Dark Angels terminators and options for solo play. Subsequent editions haven’t seen as much love, with the last two being limited, one-time releases only. However, there are some electronic rules for adding in Space Wolves, Ultramarines and Deathwing terminators to the current ruleset, and given the current mood at GW for producing board games like these once again, maybe we’ll see full-fledged expansions for the game once more – outside of the odd White Dwarf mission, and the like…

Space Hulk

Space Hulk is, of course, a classic of board games, and beloved by many since its initial release back in 1989. It’s currently in its 4th edition, which Games Workshop is trotting out for the second time now (though I picked it up the first time around in 2014). While I am struggling a little to make it out, I do believe this is an actual “return”, and not another limited-release thing where they have it on the shelves for a couple of weeks, then you’re having to sell organs to get a copy on ebay as the only viable alternative. So this – if it is indeed true – is yet another positive move on GW’s part in really becoming a workshop of games, and bringing back an absolute classic from the genre!

Genestealer Cult!

Genestealer Cult

Well, I’m more excited for this than I first thought I would be, I have to admit! When I first got my hands on the Deathwatch: Overkill game, my attention was mainly drawn to the space marines, and while I did build up a couple of the genestealer cult models, I haven’t done anything with them yet. The Deathwatch were formally launched into 40k in August, and I kinda threw myself behind that release, and while a lot of the internet has been excited for these cult minis, I can’t really say I feel the same way. I think a lot of that excitement is based in the nostalgia for the genestealer cult from back in 2nd edition (early 1990s), replete with cult limousine…

Obviously, I can’t speak for this nostalgia myself, having only become interested in Warhammer 40k in the last couple of years, but I have to say, I really like the mining aesthetic that the models have from the Overkill game, even though I don’t tend to go for that kind of grungy look for my miniatures. I’ve started to assemble a lot of the minis from Overkill, at any rate, partly after being inspired by a post from a Facebook group earlier in the week.

Genestealers are linked to some of my own nostalgia for 40k of course, as one of my first experiences with the setting was the 4th edition Space Hulk boardgame released in the autumn of 2014. Blood Angels vs Genestealers in the narrow confines of a derelict space hulk, the game features a horde of the tyranid vanguard, and if I hadn’t already become so enamoured with my Necrons, I would very likely have bought into the new tyranid bugs that were released around the same time…

So I’m not going to go all-in on genestealer cults, but I am thinking about getting some more models to build up and paint. All of this interest, however, has got me thinking about these cultists, and what the story is all about. So sit back, while I educate myself about all this stuff!

Genestealer Cult

The genestealers are the vanguard for the invading tyranid forces, sent forth in advance of the massive hive ships to subvert a planet to make it ready for conquest. The genestealer infects hosts with its DNA, causing hybrids to be born when that host reproduces. For a generation or two, the offspring will appear vaguely like its parent, though further generations will reveal more of the genestealer look – more arms, tails, bulbous heads and blue/purple skin.

I find this kinda fascinating, possibly due to having enjoyed the Shield of Baal series so much. Genestealers are fairly intelligent for a tyranid lifeform, able to operate away from the hive mind or synapse creatures for extended periods thanks to its own form of brood mind, directed mainly by the Broodlord. With enough genestealers operating under this brood mind, the tyranid hive fleet can sense the planet ready for conquest through the warp. Which brings us to Genestealer Cults!

These cults are formed from the first offspring of infected hosts, and band together into a vague sort of family that has a vague sort of worship of some kind of figurehead – sometimes referred to as the four-armed emperor, I’ve heard? Anyway, by banding together like this, the psychic resonance they create attracts the hive fleet, and the cult attempts to sow dissent against the Imperium to ease the way for the tyranids to then invade and digest the planet.

While a Broodlord is the military leader of a genestealer force, a distinct entity referred to as the Patriarch is the head of a genestealer cult, and provides the psychic link for the rest of the cult members. The Patriarch itself is a powerful psyker that can last for hundreds of years, readying the way for the approaching hive fleet. It sounds like a wonderfully creepy way of leading the little bugs, with more, well, cultish overtones than the Broodlord itself.

The Patriarch is served by the Magus, another psyker though almost human in appearance. Its primary role is to serve as the public face of the cult, and relays the orders of the Patriarch to the members. By the time of the Magus’ birth, the cult will have grown significantly, allowing a more widespread control of the planet. This is achieved by the powers of hypnosis and mind-control possessed by the Magus. The Magus is a fourth-generation hybrid, but any children it has will first be purestrain genestealers once more. A pretty horrendous thought, giving birth to six limbs and chitinous exoskeleton…

Something that I’ve found interesting, in the run-up to the Genestealer Cults release from GW, is how/why they can ally with Imperial Guard, never really seeing the link between the two. Well, as it happens, there is a further element of the cult referred to as Brood Brothers – the original infected hosts that started the spawn cycle. When these folks have their hybrid babies, that hybrid psychically dominates its parents, enslaving it to the cult and the whims of the Patriarch. Being normal humans in any other respect, they are able to operate the machinery of the Guard or any Planetary Defense Force, and so open the door for all these types of ally shenanigans that I find really interesting.

Genestealer Cult

So there you have it, the results of my research into these subterranean cults and why I think they’re so cool! I’m definitely going to be picking up the Codex next week, along with a box of ten more neophyte hybrids!

Hobby Progress, week 16

Well folks, it was bound to happen at some point, I know, though part of me was hoping it wouldn’t come to pass – last week, I didn’t paint a single model. I’ve still done some hobby bits and pieces, which I’ll show off here, though I’ve only picked a paint brush up to move it off the dining table. I’m quite sad by this, as things had been moving pretty well up to that point! But anyway, let’s take a look at what I have done…

I had three days off last week, ostensibly to get caught up with the degree I’m still in the throes of doing. Well, catch up I did, but I’d also planned to get a few models finished off. Unfortunately, I seem to have been hit with a severe bout of lack of motivation, so to try to combat this I started building up some Devastator Space Marines. I’ve currently got three built and primed, including the sergeant above, but haven’t really been in the mood to do anything with them. That said, they are really nice-looking models, the heavy weapons being a nice change from the usual bolters of the tactical marines, and a chunky reminder of the almost gothic-punk origins of 40k.

Still lacking motivation, I spent Friday thinking about what I would like to paint, but came up dry so instead thought of building something that might inspire me, and started building Genestealer Cult characters from the Deathwatch: Overkill game. They are very nice models, and not all that daft to assemble like some of the character models from these games (Kurtha Sedd, I’m thinking of you here!) That said, I hate it when they sculpt cloaks in multiple parts, and the join isn’t easy to scrape over to smooth it. Anyway! I didn’t think I’d be doing anything with that game for a long time, so I suppose it’s good to have made a start on some of it!

I’ve also built up a Space Marine bike, one from the kit I bought back before Christmas in celebration of my promotion in work. Bikes look hilarious to me, and I’ve often thought about getting lots more, but for now have just the three. Anyway! I don’t know if I’m actually going to glue him to the base looking like that, though I thought it looked particularly hilarious, both for its own sake, and also because the Genestealer Magos looks like he’s using the Force on it or something in the photo! I want to try and get a greater degree of customisation out of the next bikers I build – in particular, I’d like to get one shooting a bolter or something, rather than merely holding onto the handle bars. Not sure how to accomplish that, really, but it’ll be an interesting experiment!

Finally, in search of motivation yesterday, I bought something fairly out of the blue for me, in an attempt to perhaps spark off interest in the hobby anew. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Vaults of Terra overview videos on youtube (they’re really great, incidentally, highly recommend giving him a follow, such informative videos!) specifically the aspects of 40k lore that I don’t know a lot about, and I was really intrigued by the Grey Knights lore – definitely watch the linked video if you want to know more, there!

As with the Deathwing and Mechanicum Electro-Priests, I’m not intending to make a whole new army here! I’ve been looking into getting to my local GW for some 40k, and much like with the Age of Sigmar scene, it seems Chaos players are very prevalent there (and Eldar…sigh…) So I thought it could be highly thematic to have a squad of Grey Knights tagged onto my Ultramarines (whenever I manage to get that army built!) and go against the powers of the Warp together! Of course, thematically, the Grey Knights would then just destroy the Ultramarines survivors as well, but we won’t linger on that for now!

So there we have it anyway – 15 weeks of painting progress, then a week of just nothing. Of course, this has happened in the past, so I’m not really concerned that I’m losing interest or anything, more just accepting it as a natural part of being a hobbyist I guess! I do have a lot of other stuff to keep me going, anyway, including a few boardgames that I’d like to try out or get back to, so expect some interesting game day blogs coming up in the next few weeks!

Hopefully week 17’s update blog won’t be quite so sad…