Warhammer 40,000 Conquest

Hey everybody!
Last year, amid no little controversy, GW and Hachette Partworks launched the second Warhammer 40k part-work series, Conquest – a weekly magazine that comes with pretty much all of the stuff you’ll need to build and paint two armies, Space Marines and Death Guard. It was a pretty neat idea, and a wonderful starting point for perhaps the more younger crowd of folks who might be wanting to get into the game. For just £7.99 per week, you’d get a magazine with some background, building and painting guides, and tutorial games that build up slowly the rules for 40k.

Warhammer 40k Conquest

The controversy wasn’t just the price, of course, but also the fact that it was such a limited distribution, initially just in the UK. Over the summer of 2018 there were no end of social media posts being made, decrying the fact that the magazine wasn’t available overseas, although Hachette has since been rolling it out into a number of other countries, so I’m guessing it’ll be available like this for a while yet.

At the time, I was torn. Having been quite the enthusiastic part-work collector as a child, I had never managed to actually stick with anything to get a complete collection. Well, I’m an adult now, so thought I might actually try and do it this time, and with something that I am interested in. Well, it was a nice thought, but therein lies a problem: I’m only vaguely interested in marines, and Death Guard are on my absolute periphery. I also picked up Dark Imperium when it came out in 2017, so I have a lot of the models that were being included with the magazine already. Did I really want to get into this collection?

When the publicity shot was released, I decided I’d collect it until the Redemptor Dreadnought came out – reasoning, I wouldn’t begrudge spending £16 to get the model. (I know I’d be spending however much to get to that point, of course, but this made sense to me at the time!) The other day, I took delivery of the Dreadnought, and brought my collection up to issue 26, and so I’ve decided it’s time to stop. I’ve got one ring binder that is quite nicely full of the magazine, and while I’ve actually been selling off pretty much all of the miniatures as they’ve been coming to me, I have kept a few back, thinking I might like to keep small armies of Primaris Marines and Death Guard for the future. Well, with Shadowspear on the horizon, that idea has proven to be quite a good one, I think!

But now that I’ve reached this point, I thought it might be good to come along here and talk a bit about what I think about the magazine, as we’re well over a quarter of the way through the collection at this point.

Let’s get the miniatures out of the way first. They’re an eclectic mix of models, predominantly Dark Imperium Primaris Marines and Death Guard, along with the easy-to-build kits from both factions that have been released so far. There are lots of Poxwalkers, as well as some of the character models, which I was quite impressed to see. We’ve also had one exclusive model so far, Lieutenant Calsius (a Primaris Lieutenant, who knew?) that seems to have been included almost as a stunt to keep people hooked into their subscription past the first three issues.

When Conquest was launched in Spain, the entire collection was leaked online, and you can see the contents of each issue right up to 80 over on bolter and chainsword, here. The only issue that I’m actually considering getting beyond the 26 that I currently have is 54, which comes with Typhus, but I don’t think I’d lose any sleep over missing it, and ultimately, I could always pick him up for cheaper than the cost of continuing the subscription.

Alongside the army miniatures, we’re also getting a lot of terrain. So far, I’ve had the Munitorum Armoured Containers (all three, to add to the set I bought originally, and those that have come in with some of the Kill Team faction boxes – so I could pretty much set up my own shipping company with the amount of crates I have now!) but there are also such gems as the Haemotrope Reactors, the Servohaulers, and plenty more of the Sector Mechanicum stuff. The series also includes fold-out battle maps to play games on, which is quite nice.

From a miniatures standpoint, it does have a great deal to commend it.

As a part-work magazine, it’s a bit of a curious beast. You have four sections: collect, build, paint and play. That’s all fine of course, until you realise that, once you’ve built and painted your models, you have two sections of the magazine that are pointless to keep hold of.

The Play section is really good for people starting out in the hobby, as it guides you through how the rules work without overloading you with the complex terminology from the outset – I think by around issue 20, the little rules pamphlet was included, so up to that point it was all geared towards starting slowly, with battles centred on just the models that you’ve collected up to that point. Pretty good, but that does assume a very specific target audience: children. I don’t mean to be rude here, of course, as I’m sure there are plenty of kids who would be fine to sit down with the hardback core rule book and then give you a decent game thereafter. But there is a very definite feel of this being aimed at the younger audience, with some photos of kids enjoying a game and the like.

This feel spills over into the Collect section, too, which is a history of the 40k universe, and then specific background on the Space Marines and the Death Guard. It’s not written so much as a Codex as more like the sort of hardback annuals you used to get as a kid. Pages are mainly given over to the glossy artwork, with the text pretty much skimming the surface for a lot of the time. Of course, the 40k universe is hardly kid-friendly when you actually look at it, so it’s pretty commendable that they’re able to produce this at a level that will be acceptable and allow folks to enjoy the hobby. I’d certainly be happy allowing my future kids to read through this without worrying too much about the gothic imagery and graphic violence.

I’m very much not the target audience for this collection, and I know a lot of hobbyists who have been buying into this are also not the target audience, but we’ve all been doing so pretty much with the idea of getting heavily-discounted miniatures on a weekly basis. I find this quite interesting, because I’ve really been suckered into this one, without really realising that I’ve been suckered in for two armies that are not armies I collect! Sure, I have an off-again, on-again thing for Space Marines, and have very tangentially considered a Death Guard army following my purchase of Dark Imperium, but on the whole I’m a xenos player, with an interest in the more esoteric Imperium factions. Really, this magazine should have no interest for me! It’s definitely that allure of the new and the shiny, and in this case, the cheap, and so I’m really glad that I’ve managed to curtail myself before spending any more on it.

Of course, if you’re a Space Marines or Death Guard collector, then it’ll be a different story. And if you’re looking to get into the whole hobby thing from scratch, then you couldn’t have picked a finer collection to get going with. The total cost of the 80-issue collection is around £625, with the estimated cost of miniatures you’ll end up with in the realms of £870+. Not bad – especially considering the subscription will be providing you with the paints and the brushes you need!

It has been cool to build up the collection to this point, of course, and I am quite glad to have gotten to this point with it. Weirdly, I feel really very pleased at the fact I was in it for the battlefield scatter terrain, a set of tank traps and ammo crates that I would probably never have otherwise bought!

I’ll leave you with this link to the Tale of Painters blog, and fellow hobbyist Garfy’s journey through the magazine and its models. In the link, he shows off the painted units so far, as well as talking about the magazine in general. Well worth a follow if you’re interested in seeing how this thing progresses!

Hobby Progress, week four!

Hey everybody!
It’s been another quiet week this week, which is perhaps to be expected with Christmas and all. I’ve been trying to make some time for painting during the latter half of the week, with the intention being that I’d have something to show you all for this blog here on Sunday – which I suppose is the point of me doing these blogs in the first place, so well done me!

I’m still very busy with army lists, and having pretty much finalised my first plans for the Grey Knights, I’ve started work on the Purifier squad with gusto! I’m really enjoying these chaps for the moment, so I hope that continues. Unlike a lot of projects (Tau instantly spring to mind here), I’ve got quite a clear idea of what I want to achieve with the paint scheme, so I’m hoping that means it’ll go quicker for me! I’ve done the silver quite quickly – just a Leadbelcher base, with a bit of a focused shade of Nuln oil, then a soft drybrush of Ironbreaker. I’ve not yet gone in with the blue glaze, as I’m building myself up to that one! Having base coated the helmets with Celestra Grey, I’ve today gone in with a diluted shade of Coelia Greenshade – 1 part shade to about 4 parts Lahmian Medium. It’s left them with enough detail, but there’s a definite greenish hue to them that I quite like. The tabard on the Justicar has been painted Zandri Dust and shaded with Seraphim Sepia, and the gold details are just base coated Retributor Armour. Finally, the Force weapons have been base coated with Caledor Sky.

I’m hoping to be much further progressed as this week moves on, so hopefully I’ll have more progress for you all then!

I had the Grey Knights Paladin Squad for Christmas, and so have built myself a Grand Master using the parts from that kit to really flesh him out as a fancy chap. I’ve also been building models for both the Deathwatch, and the Ravenwing projects that I have going on at the moment – I’ll get to the latter in due course here on the blog, but for now, let’s talk about the xenos hunters!

I’ve been slowly building up a Deathwatch army since Death Masque arrived back in 2016, but have left it quite a while between the last phase of my painting and this current spurt. The reason being that I’ve been talking to a fellow gaming buddy about entering a doubles tournament in 2019, in the assumption that Warhammer World will be holding the event again!

Now, I’ve played in card game tournaments in the past, but I’ve never even attempted to go along for a miniatures tournament, as I get the impression that it’s just far too competitive for my liking. Well, Kev has not given me any reason to think I was wrong in this assumption, so far! He’s going Grey Knights (it was against his kill team that I first encountered that game, and he’s been building up the army since) so I’m going with another branch of the Inquisition, and hopefully we’ll either face Chaos or Xenos to make our army choices worthwhile!!

All weekend, then, I’ve been working my way through list ideas, and I think I’ve finally managed to come up with something that I would be reasonably happy playing – bearing in mind that I prefer fun things to play, as opposed to lists that are just too tailored and end up being boring:

Initially, it’s quite a cheap battalion list, with a fourth group of veterans that includes a Terminator taking up a significant number of the points. I’m fully intending to use this as a distraction unit though, hoping that it will draw enough fire that the other units will survive reasonably unmolested. The Venerable Dreadnought needs a new arm, which I thankfully have thanks to the bits box, and I’ve got a Razorback for the more melee-orientated unit of Veterans to get them closer to where they need to be. I did initially want a Chaplain in there with them, but I’ve instead gone for the JumpMaster as he has a slightly better stat line. Though I am wondering if the Terminator will be worth it, so might make some adjustments over time!

The first thing that strikes me about Deathwatch is just how many crazy options there are in the Codex, and how many interesting squad permutations you can get. I’m a bit confused by the whole mission tactics / special issue ammunition thing, and with the stratagems on top, I feel like this army is something that can be quite unwieldy quite quickly, so I definitely want to get some games in with it as soon as possible, as I need to get used to that side of things before I get into any kind of tournament setting, I think!!

To that end, I’m thinking I might need to make an alternative list, just to get to grips with the army in general, and then see how it goes adding in the relevant units. I do already have a sizable Deathwatch army, so I’m hoping to get to the shop in the new year and see how it goes! Stay tuned for those exciting updates, anyway!

It’s been a lot of fun resurrecting the old hobby progress blogs for December, and I almost feel a bit sad to finish the series! I do think they’re a great way to check in and keep me on track with my goals, so I think I’ll definitely be doing a monthly iteration throughout 2019. I have a lot of goals for next year, so we shall see how those pan out!

Come back on Tuesday, 1 January, to find out more about those goals!!

War Zone Vigilus: Vigilus Defiant

Hey everybody!
Having already taken a look at the opening stages of the Vigilus campaign in last week’s blog, I thought I’d come back to you all today with some of my garbled thoughts on the first campaign book in what promises to be an exceptional series: Vigilus Defiant.

Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant

This is book one in a two-part series, Vigilus Defiant feels a whole lot like the classic sort of RPG sourcebook to use in a campaign, rather than some of the campaign books of yore. First of all, let’s have a look at how the book breaks down: 115 pages of background and fluff for the Vigilus campaign, bringing things up to date from the two battle-box releases to the point where the Space Marine coalition is poised to go up against the Black Legion, Genestealer Cults and Ork Speedwaaagh; 50 pages of narrative play rules, featuring twelve new missions to play and the rules for linking them to form a campaign (six Crucible of War and six Echoes of War missions) and rules for battlegrounds, including specific battlezones that replicate locations on the planet; and finally, 35 pages of new rules, including the rules for the new models released alongside the new book, as well as 22 “specialist detachments”, which is where I want to go first.

These specialist detachments have been likened to the various detachments we had during 7th edition, such as the infamous Necron Decurion detachment. In case you’re unfamiliar, 7th edition Codexes featured a number of detachments alongside the datasheets, which kinda functioned as suggested armies. There were usually a couple of smaller scale detachments, then there would also be one army-scale one that was quite often made up of the entire range (or as much of it as was sensible, in the case of armies like Space Marines). You gained wonderful bonuses to your army if you included every single unit specified – but that detachment literally was your army. For example, a fully kitted-out Dark Eldar list that followed the Kabalite Raiding Party detachment cost 2055 points, giving you no room to manoeuvre if you wanted to include anything else. Furthermore, it would force you to take units you might not want to take, but the worst part of such detachments was that you invariably saw the same army being played by all. Especially, the Necron Decurion!

Specialist Detachments are nothing like this. You start off with your army as you’ve been building it for a game regardless. You then look at how that army has been structured, in terms of the variety of detachments you may have included in it (battalions, outriders, etc). You can then pick one of those detachments to become the Specialist Detachment, paying 1 command point for the privilege. This action actually does nothing by itself, it just adds a further keyword to each datasheet for the models in that detachment.

I’ve been working on a Space Marines list for the past few days, so I think it might be easiest if I use that to show you what I mean!

I’ve built a 1000-point list, basically to showcase the new Marneus Calgar model among an all-Primaris force from among the models I have currently. It isn’t incredibly points-efficient, mainly because I’m forcing in some models simply because I have them, and I haven’t got enough troops (at least, I don’t think so) to create a battalion yet. Anyway! The list is as follows:

Primaris Space Marines list

This is one Patrol detachment, and one Vanguard detachment. So I get 4 command points, which isn’t particularly fabulous, but I’m working within the limits of what I have. I can use one of those command points to give all of the units within one detachment the Indomitus Crusaders keyword, which is fine, but doesn’t do anything else. However, I’ve unlocked a new warlord trait for the army, Grey Shield, which can give a unit from the same detachment as my warlord an additional Chapter Tactic until the start of my next turn. That feels a bit wrong to me, so I don’t want to go along with that one. But I also gain access to two new Relics: Reliquary of Gathalamor (which affects enemy Psykers within range of the bearer) and Standard of the Ultima Founding, which I can use on the Primaris Ancient to give a once-per-battle effect of allowing infantry within 6″ to re-roll hit and wound rolls of 1. That’s a useful one, as my plan for the army is a sort of gunline thing that makes use of as many aura abilities as I can generate. The Ancient’s new ability is in effect until the bearer next makes a move, so I assume it will stay in effect so long as I don’t move him.

There are, additionally, five unique stratagems that I can use on these chaps now that they have the Indomitus Crusaders keyword. Three of them are dependent on a fourth having been used – for 1 command point, I can upgrade one Intercessor squad from the detachment to be Veteran Intercessors. If I don’t use this one at all in the battle, then I actually only get one unique stratagem.

Hopefully, then, you’re seeing the point that these Specialist Detachments are not likely to be particularly game-breaking for the time being. They are really quite command point heavy, and most armies that are built to maximise command points are, I imagine, built with a number of stratagems already in mind. If you’re now faced with yet more choice for your points, are you likely to forego spending on those pre-determined stratagems to sink a few of them into one of these detachments? You’re pretty much committing to at least 2-3 command points for this – you have to pay 1 to unlock the keyword, which you would only do if you wanted to use at least one other stratagem that the detachment would give you access to.

I feel like these things are primarily going to be used by players who like a more fluffy or wide-ranging kind of game. The more competitive players will most likely stick to their codex, with perhaps one or two who are keen to exploit the warlord traits or relics that also come with the detachment. Importantly, you also have the option (for another command point) to give a non-warlord the warlord trait from the detachment, once you’ve made the initial investment. Interesting.

At any rate, the much more exciting part of this new book, for me, is the wealth of narrative content it contains. I’ve already rhapsodised quite a lot about similar content we have just seen in Chapter Approved, and to get more of it so soon is quite magnificent, I have to say! It’s enough to keep games really fresh for a long time to come, I’m sure.

I’m deeply impressed with the lore contained within these pages – not only do we get the whole story of Vigilus and the factions thereon, but we get a really in-depth look, which is what gives it the feel of an RPG sourcebook. There are pages of details on each of the hive-sprawls across the world, as well as rules for you to create games that take place in each one. It’s an incredibly detailed book, the like of which I don’t think we’ve seen before for 40k (or at least, not for a long time). While I’m hesitant to say I want more of this, as I don’t want any future campaign books to feel like they’re carbon copies of this, I do like what they’ve done here, so I would like to see a similar approach in the future!!

What’s Next?
We’re due to get a second book at some point, as stated in the introduction to this volume, and my guess would be that it will come around March to tie-in with the whole 80-day countdown we’re on for Vigilus to fall to Chaos. The new Black Legion character Haarken Worldclaimer has already planted his spear in the world, and decreed that Vigilus will be in the hands of the Warmaster within 80 days and nights. If that isn’t a huge telegraphing of the fact Abaddon is going to feature very soon, then I don’t know what is! Of course, it’s unclear as to whether we’ll be getting a new model for the Warmaster: he definitely needs it, for sure, and I think it would be a nice parallel with Calgar here for us to have Abaddon come out alongside book two, perhaps with a new Space Marines model, either a new hero or a re-imagined hero of yore.

Haarken Worldclaimer is a very nice model, for sure, but I don’t think we can have a situation where we’ve got the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines leading the forces of “good”, but just the Herald of the Apocalypse on the opposing side of the field. I believe March will be seeing the release of those Chaos models from Blackstone Fortress as a separate range, but I’d also hate it if the new Chaos bad guy were to be Obsidius Mallex. We need Abaddon, for the Emperor’s Sake!

I think the only thing that’s putting me off thinking we’re guaranteed the new model next is that he really should have showed up during the Fall of Cadia storyline, but we didn’t get anything. If we’re having a new Black Legion release in March, then I think the time would be even more perfect to bring out a re-imagined Abaddon. It’s got to happen!

The future
But that’s all just for Vigilus #2. What about the future of the 40k line once we’ve got the final codex out there? I keep reading that Genestealer Cults will be coming at the end of January, at which point we’ll have seen all of the existing 7th edition Codexes be updated for 8th edition. There are still model lines such as the Inquisition that don’t have a book, though they are in a peculiar place and I don’t think they’ll have anything specifically for them without a new model release. I feel reasonably sure that we’ll get an Inquisitor expansion for Kill Team, after which we can presumably see the models released for regular 40k with a new book. But that could be months if not years away.

The way forward, though, is going to be through Campaign books like this, rather than Codexes. Sure, if there’s an army out there who needs rules, then they’ll get a book. If the Primaris Marines ever get an expansion to the range – and I don’t see why they wouldn’t – then I can see there being a specific Codex for them, separating out the old marines line for ease of reference. As an aside, the idea of old-style marines being phased out of use is actually addressed in-universe in Vigilus Defiant, where the procedure to transform Marneus Calgar into a Primaris Marine is described. I’m still in two minds about whether they will actually completely do-away with the older line of models, but part of me can definitely see it happening in a few years more…

GW have already stated that there are only rules for armies in this book if it makes sense for the army to be there. So we have no Necrons, no Tau, and no Tyranids, and also no Chaos Daemons or Dark Eldar (even though the latter are mentioned as being on-world, conducting raids). While there are Space Marines present, there are no Blood Angels, Grey Knights or Deathwatch rules. However, future campaigns that do feature these armies will feature rules specific for them, so I think that’s a very sensible way to go about things. It also confirms future campaigns are in the works, of course!

I really enjoyed reading through the campaign books of 7th edition such as Shield of Baal and the Tau stuff. Important to note, of course, the War on Fenris campaign gave us the rules for Magnus and the new Thousand Sons range in the last months of 7th edition, so it isn’t entirely unprecedented for a new army to get their rules in this manner – maybe that’s how we’ll get the smaller stuff like Inquisition rules.

At any rate, I think the future of the game being in Campaign books could well be magnificent, and I am really looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store for Warhammer 40k!

The Grey Knights

Hey everybody!
Well, having spent most of the month of December looking through the Codex, and thinking of a couple of list ideas, I think I’m more or less settled on how I want to build up my Grey Knights for the first 1500 points. I must say, the new Chapter Approved has helped incredibly with this list, as I had originally written it up with the points from the Codex, and realised I’d have to get rid of something in order to fit in enough HQs to make the detachments I wanted. Now, however, I can not only build a battalion and a vanguard detachment, but I’m halfway to a spearhead detachment, as well!

Let’s take a look…

The idea of the list is to have some massed firepower to help get most of the units into melee range. Pretty much everybody has some form of ranged weaponry, of course, but it feels like the Grey Knights want to be in close combat (albeit their attacks and weapons skill might not make you think that at first glance!) Everybody is a psyker, too – even the dreadnought – which is a whole new world for me as regards 40k. Playing Dark Eldar, Necrons and most recently, Tau, has not prepared me well for just what is involved in the psychic phase!

There are a couple of lynchpins for the army, though, and I think I’ll go over these first. The Grand Master has the Rites of Battle ability, granting re-rolls of hit rolls of 1 for units within 6″ of him. The Paladin Ancient’s banner will not only add 1 to the Leadership of units within 6″, but he will also give each model from those units an extra attack when they fight in the combat phase. So he’s quite useful to have, though he does need to be shielded from being targeted himself, so I see him being behind the Paladins and at least one of the Strike Squads in the combat phase.

In terms of Psychic ability, every unit is a Psyker as mentioned, with a total output of thirteen psychic powers per turn (and thirteen deny tests). Grey Knights take their power from the Sanctic discipline, which are a good mix of directly offensive, combat buffs and protection for the army. Everybody also knows Smite, although it works a little differently for Grey Knights, thanks to the Rites of Banishment ability. It has a shorter range, and only deals out one mortal wound if successful, except when targeting a Daemon unit, in which case it deals a flat 3 mortal wounds. At first glance, it feels a bit like Grey Knights are hard done by with this, but then you have to remember that it is a question of balance. Whereas most armies will have maybe a couple of Psykers, every single one of my models in this army is a Psyker, so you can’t have them all dishing out normal Smite and think the game could still be balanced!

As it stands, I’m pretty happy with the army list that I’ve come up with. It’s also going to be fairly straightforward to put together. I’ve already got two Strike Squad boxes, a Paladins box and the Brother-Captain model, so I’m almost halfway there already! I’ve ordered some bits online with which to make the Brotherhood Champion, and the Paladins box will make both the Squad themselves and the Ancient and Grand Master – there’s a fantastically-posed Paladin Paragon in the Codex that looks so wonderfully ornate and fancy that I think he’ll make a great figurehead for the army!

That only leaves a third Strike Squad box and a Venerable Dreadnought to get, so it should be an easy enough task! The models are so beautiful though, I can see me taking about six months or longer to actually get anywhere with them! Especially that banner on the Ancient – it looks awesome, I really hope I can get somewhere close to that!

However, I’m already thinking about how I can build this up to 2000 points, at which point I think I might be finished with the force. While I am a bit hesitant about the infamous baby-carrier, I think it might be nice to get the Nemesis Dreadknight in there, simply because it’s still such an iconic model for the army despite the fact it looks kinda silly. I’d also like either more Paladins or else regular Terminators, as I think they also look fancy as all hell, and it would be great to get some more in there. Transports are an issue for me, as I think the amount of close combat stuff I have going on in here means I do kinda need them, but I don’t really know how! I was initially thinking Land Raiders, but they’re so expensive I’m veering more towards Razorbacks for now. But that’s a problem for another day. I definitely want to have another Strike Squad, mainly because of the fact I’d like to have one of every unit, so think I’d like to get some Interceptors, and then maybe just five more regular Strike Squad guys, who can be used if I ever want to swap-out the heavy weapons for a cheaper squad.

I’m really excited to get moving with my Grey Knights, as I think it’s a unified army that looks pretty awesome when you see them en masse. The heraldry, and the whole lore of the daemon-hunters with their words of power and warding implements really appeals to me somehow. I’d imagine that playing these guys on the tabletop would be nicely thematic, although I have heard that going up against daemons isn’t exactly a picnic for them. Even so, I’m quite excited all the same!

Part of me has been thinking about doing a Kill Team for these guys while I’m building up the full force, though I’d also like to just get moving with the things that I actually want to paint, which may not have a place in KT. For the time being, though, I’ve still got the five Purifiers on the go, and I’m joining in with Azazel’s January Painting Challenge with the Grand Master himself! So stay tuned for updates there!!

Ultramarines are great!

Hey everybody!
I recently delved into the first two parts of the War-Zone Vigilus storyline (in a blog you can read here), where the Ultramarines have a prominent part in defending the world against an Eldar retaliatory stroke, and it got me thinking about the amount of hate levelled at the chapter by, what feels like, the entire 40k fanbase. So I thought I’d see if I could disentangle the grief surrounding them, and see if they have anything going for them!

The boys in blue can be found on the front of every box of generic Space Marines kits sold by Games Workshop, and have been there since the dawn of time, really. I suppose this is the first point, then, on our graph of hatred – being the poster boys of the Space Marines product line. Making a few assumptions here, Space Marines are perhaps the “most generic” of the 40k armies, and a lot of people come to them to start. If people are starting out in the hobby with Space Marines, they may well be painting them up to match the box art, creating a vast amount of Space Marines who are blue and Ultramarines.

I’ve certainly come across this myself with some things, where people always try to dissuade me from following the GW-standard scheme for something. “Paint them a different colour!” is a comment I’ve had for a few things now, but what’s wrong with following along with the box art? Many people, myself included, are attracted to a model or a model range because of something we have seen, and want to re-create. Whether it’s Bloodletters or Ultramarines, if you want to re-create a model that has inspired you, you should just go for it! There’s nothing wrong with painting a miniature to match those on the box front.

As it happens, I haven’t really seen a great deal of Ultramarines armies on the whole, though there is a guy at my local GW with a really awesome collection painted really well. I’m very much a fan of seeing the army, and I can’t honestly say that anybody in the local community has said anything negative about them being “Ultrasmurfs” or the like. There’s an appreciation for a nicely-painted force, and that’s that!

The Primarch of the Ultramarines is, of course, Roboute Guilliman, a renowned tactical genius among the Primarchs of the original Space Marine Legions. There is a fascinating scene in Dan Abnett’s Know No Fear that shows Guilliman absorbing dozens of battle reports at the same time, then making up a plan to deal with it all within moments, while all those around him look on dumbfounded. All of the Primarchs had different strengths, and that was his. While it is true that there feels like an element of the deus ex machina about his appearance in the current 8th edition storyline, I don’t think people are really understanding the existing lore behind it. Bobby G is showing up at the exact right time most often because he has been able to plan for that eventuality.

Guilliman is the Man with a Plan, and a Backup Plan, and a Backup Plan for the Backup Plan. And probably a couple more Backups, just in case. And he came up with all of them at the same time.

A lot of criticism of the Ultramarines is that they’re boring, and I think some of that might stem from the fact that they have a very straightforward, efficient way of waging war. They don’t have the unnecessary bloodthirst of the Space Wolves, or the flair and bravado of the White Scars, but they just get in there and get the job done. And then re-establish the community behind them. I find this in particular to be a fascinating aspect of the lore of the Ultramarines, and I really appreciate how it has led, in more recent years, to GW giving us Ultramarines upgrades to give them more of a Roman feel – Rome, the ultimate empire builders.

The crested helms and leather pteruges are always a nice touch on models, and really help to form a certain aesthetic that, of course, can be used for any other Chapter of marines, but is quite iconic on several models when used specifically for the Ultramarines.

Still talking lore, it seems a lot of people don’t like their insistence on the whole codex-adherence thing. Guilliman wrote the Codex Astartes, of course, and insisted on splitting up the Legions following the Horus Heresy. Furthermore, Guilliman ruled as Regent of Terra in the centuries following, until his run-in with Fulgrim saw him interred in the Temple of Correction for centuries more. It’s not difficult to lay the accusation of arrogance at the door of the Ultramarines because of this, of course, though of course it can just as easily be explained by the fact they are consummate empire-builders, and these actions are in keeping with the statesmen aspect of the lore.

I think it’s an interesting aspect of the Ultramarines history, that they go from being fairly well thought of and interesting fighters during the Heresy era, to being much more set-in-their-ways and boring during the 40k timeline. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the wider Imperium, which has also ground to a halt at this time, and is a far cry from the Imperium of the Great Crusade. We can see the uncompromising nature of the Ultramarines chapter in Graham McNeill’s novels, particularly Dead Sky, Black Sun, whereby the valiant captain of the fourth company, Uriel Ventris, is dismissed from the chapter because he disobeyed the teachings of the Codex. Anyone who has read Graham McNeill’s books can’t think that the Ultramarines are dull and boring, surely?!

So people think they’re boring and they’re everywhere, and their Primarch is the most dull out of them all. They’re the poster-boys for the Space Marines, and as a result they’re just generic and boring.

Is that it?

Of course, we can’t talk about the Ultramarines without talking about the impact of Matt Ward and 5th edition. Codex: Ultramarines showed the army as being held up as an example to all others, with other chapters secretly wishing they could be Ultramarines. People like to hate Matt Ward generally, but for his work with the Ultramarines, there seems to be a very specific kind of hate directed towards him – and that has lasted all the way down the years (5th edition was 2008).

Alongside this, I feel like there’s something of a badge of honour for players who like to complain about the army. As if, by some kind of borrowed hate from this period, they can show they’re real fans or something. I wasn’t around for 5th edition, as I came to the tabletop game itself not long after 7th edition had landed. A lot of this kinda passed me by, and my first contact with the Ultramarines was quite a positive one, looking through the pages of the Sons of Ultramar painting guide and being impressed by the massed ranks of Space Marines painted so well.

To me, there’s nothing to hate about them – they’re prevalent, for sure, but they’re such a classic element of the 40k universe that it seems disappointing that people want to just hate on them because that’s what everybody else did ten years ago.

I think the fact that they’re seen as poster-boys for GW is a very weak argument to hate on them. GW needs a strong brand, and so they have chosen the Space Marines to be the seminal focus for that brand in what is – especially now – a very crowded marketplace. If they used a different chapter for each unit they sold, Space Marines as a brand would be somewhat diluted. If you bought Tactical Marines that were Ultramarines, but Bikers that were White Scars, Vanguard Veterans that were Raven Guard and Devastators that were Imperial Fists, it might feel like you had four different armies there. All of the Dark Eldar kits have Kabal of the Black Heart on their box fronts, Tau kits are now all Vior’la Sept, etc.

It’s a slightly different situation, of course, because 8th edition is the first time we’ve seen sub-faction rules for each army, but I can’t imagine people hate Kabal of the Black Heart because they’re the poster boys for the Dark Eldar. (It’s more likely to be due to Agents of Vect, after all).

The biggest issue, then, seems to be with the lore, and the fact that Ultramarines have been built up over the years to be The Best. People do like their fluff – hell, I love the fluff! – and being told ten years ago that the official lore standpoint was that Ultramarines are the best Space Marines doubtless did rankle. But GW have taken steps to improve their image in more recent years, and I can’t see why anybody would nowadays hate the Ultramarines for their rules.

Personally, I like the colour scheme, and I like the little call backs to Ancient Rome that the army has. I love the idea of them being professional soldiers, with the skills and drive to create something out of the warzones they fight in. People like to complain about the fact they’re the “good guys” of the setting, but really I think they’re just trying to do the right thing as they see it, establishing a strong foundation for the future of humanity. I feel like there is something noble about the Ultramarines, though the system they work within is of course deeply flawed. I don’t really see any reason why people should still hate on the army after all this time.

I don’t really have a Space Marines army right now, but I’ve been trying to build something for a long time now along the lines of the Novamarines, one of the initial successor chapters to the Ultramarines, but since the advent of 8th edition I’ve been thinking more about a mix of different Ultramarines successors. Now that Marneus Calgar has been reimagined in glorious Primaris form, I’m planning to incorporate the primogenitors themselves in a small detachment. But that’s probably a ways off yet…

Deathwatch Army thoughts

Hey everybody!
I seem to be in a bit of a reflective mood of late, looking through a lot of the armies that I’ve had built but not necessarily ones that I’ve been doing a great deal with for some time now – today sees me turn this attention on the Deathwatch, a force that I was really excited for back when they first arrived on the scene with the Overkill boxed game. Having painted up a number of units rather quickly, they’ve since been left to gather dust, so I thought I’d take a look at what I have, and see where I can potentially take them!

Imperium armies for me have, for some time now, been confined to the smaller-scale things like Tempestus Scions or Skitarii. Certainly, I don’t think I’ve painted a single marine since I moved house 18 months ago…

My Deathwatch force is pretty much as you see it above, anyway, and on paper looks something like this:

My Deathwatch army is a bit of a mix of a couple of squad ideas that I’ve built up initially, then picked a couple from each to paint. So there’s the original Kill Team Cassius from Deathwatch: Overkill; there are the veterans from Death Masque that came alongside Watch Captain Artemis, along with the Vanguard Veterans and Venerable Dreadnought from that box; there are also a group of Veterans that I built to represent Kill Team Excis (the original Kill Team from the Overkill storyline, who had stats in White Dwarf back in September 2016), as well as some odd bits like the Deathwing Terminator and the Black Templar that I built out of bits from their upgrade kit that I found online. So it’s quite a mixed bag!

I do have a number of unpainted miniatures, though, which I have been thinking about returning to at some point, as I would like to make these guys into something more like a playable army. Having played against Deathwatch a couple of times, I would like to wield that kind of power rather than be coming up against it, for sure!! The kind of army I think I’d like to have would be something along the lines of this:

It feels, to me, like a well-rounded force, capable of doing enough interesting things to, well, keep me interested!

So it’s a little over 1000 points, but hopefully that won’t be too overbalanced if I want to try it out in some games once I’ve gotten going with it. Pretty much all of these models have been built and primed, as well, with just the Watch Master that needs building. I think, of the 20 models in the army, I’ve got 9 of them painted, so 45% completion isn’t too bad! It’s certainly a good start, I feel, although I may well find myself swapping out things as time moves on.

I’ve also got another Veterans sprue that I can build, so I’m thinking that I might wait for a bit, get some games under my belt with this army, and see how well it works and what I might need to add in to the force before I go and build those. I do like the idea of building up the sergeant to have a xenophase blade, though, as it has become quite an iconic piece of wargear since it has now featured on the cover of both Codexes!

I do enjoy these guys, as the models are so wonderfully detailed, and the results of the gold and other bits against the black armour is really quite striking. There are definitely a lot of options for painting these guys to look really good – I think the black base really lends itself well, in that respect, and it makes not only the gold pop out, but also the chapter iconography that adds some colour to the force.

I’ve not yet played an Imperium army in 40k, despite having several on the go, so I think it could be fun to try out something different for a change!

The Vigilus Weekender!

Oh my goodness, this thing is just phenomenal. I’m trying to look at this with a lot more objectivity than my usual fanboy garglings, but let’s be honest, the reveals that we’ve seen so far coming from Nottingham are really blowing the world wide open as regards what’s next for 40k!

So first of all, Marneus Calgar is getting a new model, Primaris-style, and he looks quite sensational. I’ve been really quite up-and-down with the Primaris marines taking over the regular chaps, given that I’ve invested so much already into that line, and while my initial thought was that this does indeed signal the end for the classic space marines, as Calgar is “the first to be reborn as a Primaris Space Marine”. Hm.

But, you know what? I’m pretty fine with this now. The Primaris range feels quite bland, given the fact that we can’t customize a squad as we could with the classic Tactical Marine Squad, but they really do look good, so I’m fine with peppering my army with some more of these guys. I’ve been wanting to paint up my marines as various successor chapters to the Ultramarines, and now I think I have the perfect character model around which to do so!

Bring on the Primaris!

So not only do we have Ultramarines, but we’re also getting Black Legion, in the form of “the sinister herald”, Haarken Worldclaimer. Weird name, but whatever. I like the fact that we’re getting a character model for these guys as well, and the fact that Vigilus has been declared to fall to the Warmaster in 80 days could possibly mean that we will indeed be getting a new Abaddon model, when he turns up to claim the world!

I think Calgar coming in Primaris form does mean we’ll be getting more characters, rather than merely generic Lieutenant #48, so I’m hopeful that GW will see their game and their world does benefit from having more named characters that we as gamers and general lore enthusiasts can get behind. So it’ll be exciting to see what comes next!

The main feature, for me, is the new campaign book, Vigilus Defiant, which is going to include the rules for these new minis (and more, apparently…) This is what I’ve been waiting for now that the Codexes are almost done, and this is what has got me most excited for the world of 40k to come!

Towards the end of 7th edition, we saw a number of these things come out, starting with Shield of Baal, and taking in the Tau expansions and the War of the Fang. These books featured campaigns with lore, missions and new rules, so I would totally love to see them return to this model to further expand the game.

And look! Marneus Calgar comes with his Honour Guard once more! This is all just excellent stuff!

But it’s cool, because it means we won’t be getting second editions of Codexes in order to update them with a new unit or two. And we won’t have to wait for Chapter Approved once a year to get new stuff. Campaign books really do open up so many design opportunities that I cannot wait to see where this model takes us in 2019!!

Looks like we’re also getting a boxed campaign next year around city fighting, which I’m not all that fussed about, but the teaser video looks like there may be some new terrain involved, which might be nice to have… Urgh, I am a sucker for the shiny new toys!

Finally, let’s talk some Genestealer Cults. I don’t think anybody could have seen Cultist bikers coming out, which is just spectacular if you ask me! Not only are we getting these chaps, but some of the photos making their way online from people at these events show a quad-bike will be coming, too! Part of me wonders if they’ll be usable in Speed Freeks, though not having that game, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if they weren’t. It is, however, an excellent way to capitalise on an existing game etc, while also expanding the galaxy in general.

I love this new GW!

These models are just tremendous, and I think the dirt-bike look really fits in with the mining aesthetic so it looks like a natural extension. So good!

But the bikes aren’t all that’s coming, as we’re also getting another new character model, the Nexos!

I love the idea of having a sort of spymaster, co-ordinator-type chap as an army HQ (assuming he is, of course!) It really nicely plays to the dual-aspect of the Genestealer Cults, having him wearing the regular mining gear, yet looking so much like the army commander (planning to infiltrate Warhammer World, no less!) – it’s definitely a model that I’m looking forward to adding to my collection, whatever his rules! We also know that the gunslinger Primus was on show at the event, so I’m hopeful we’ll get all of these new things in the Codex. Whenever that shows up!

Ah yes, Noise Marines might be back! The Christmas exclusive model is no less a re-imagining of a classic, and while I don’t know if this is supposed to herald a new Emperor’s Children release (Sly Marbo was never the start of anything last year…) it’s exciting to think we might just be getting the third Legion coming out soon in plastic!

We’ve also got some wonderful new Slaanesh models (and Khorne, as well) from the Wrath & Rapture box, including a new Herald playing the harp. Because who doesn’t want some lilting melodies in the middle of battle?

I’m really trying hard not to get suckered into starting a Slaanesh army again, but these models definitely hold an allure for me, I might just have to get that Harpist on ebay to paint. So wonderfully sinister!

So, along with yet another Knight, that was the Vigilus Open Day! What do you think? I’m impressed overall, if the campaign book structure becomes the new delivery method for models to make it into the game – especially for re-worked models like Marneus Calgar and Abaddon (when he eventually arrives), then I think this is the start of something tremendous, and should really help to free up some creative spirit for the designers over there in Nottingham. The Genestealer stuff was just wonderful, and really excited me, as it took me back to those heady days when they had their initial release for 7th edition, and I was excited to start a Cultist army of my own! So I’m really looking forward to those models coming out – given the fact that the campaign book and the models for Marneus and Haarkon are set to come out in December, I’m guessing that we’ll have to wait until January at least for the Genestealer Cults Codex, but I have so much to get built and painted, it’s hardly like I have an army waiting to be played! Might add some more Cultists to the painting roster then, methinks!


They promised us that “something big” was coming. Do you think any of this could count as that? The campaign thing is big, for sure, and while I’m excited for the models, I would have thought, if they were treating the Genestealer Cults announcements as the “something big”, it would have been the full Codex release, and not just some new model teases. The new Knight is, of course, enormous, and mocks the concept of a miniatures game, but I don’t know…

It’s got to be the re-imagining of Marneus Calgar, but I feel like they have somehow missed the mark, and it could have been more. Or bigger. Or both. Or maybe I’m just expecting too much these days! I love the Genestealer Cultist models, and I love the campaign system – I just thought we’d have something different, I guess.

What do you guys think?