40k Catch-Up time

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I’ve properly caught up with all of the goings-on in 40k here on the blog, and it definitely feels like there has been a lot to catch up on, to say the least! At the start of the month, we had GenCon, and some early looks at stuff like Aeronautica Imperialis, which I don’t think is for me, but certainly seems to have a lot of people excited, nevertheless. Of course, while we were enjoying the boxed game goodness such as these previews, as well as the eventual landing of Warcry, things quickly became all about the Space Marines, as GW began to reveal the next wave of power armoured good stuff on the way.

I think it’s been pretty much expected since Heretic Astartes had their second edition of the Codex earlier in the year, but the second edition of the Space Marines Codex seems to have both surprised and angered several folks here on the internet, who keep clamouring for more Xenos and so on. Sure, Space Marines are everywhere these days, and it might feel a little bit like Astartes Overload, but the simple fact remains that these guys are the brand icon for GW, and they’re clearly going to put their main efforts into producing stuff for them.

Despite all of the negativity, however, it’s been really interesting to see how GW are going about the release this time around, with these Codex Supplements that focus on a single Chapter. It does feel a little bit like a money grab, how you need to pick up the main Codex to get the rules for all the generic stuff, then your Ultramarines-specific supplement to get the rules for Ultramarines characters and whatnot. They’re a business, of course, but this is perhaps the first serious time I’ve felt like people may well be priced out of the hobby. It’s cool to get an Ultramarines codex, don’t get me wrong, but not if you need to still buy the main book. Wasn’t 8th edition meant to be doing away with the bloat of 7th? Why are we once again faced with the prospect of carting around most of a library to play this game?

However, there are some very pretty models coming out this time – and by pretty, I mean badass, such as Chief Librarian Tigurius in his post-Rubicon Primaris iteration! White Scars are the first non-blue Chapter to get the Codex Supplement treatment as well, without any kind of biker emphasis which seems decidedly strange, but never mind… Maybe Primaris bikers will be a thing sometime? Who knows…

We are set to get all of the Shadowspear stuff though, which is exciting, along with some more units to more fully flesh-out the Phobos-armour section of the force. Not only that, but Space Marines are now building battle suits! I do quite like this chap, and I’m thinking I might treat myself to one at some point in the future – when I eventually decide what I want to do with the various Space Marines that I’ve picked up over the years!

Kill Team is well over 12 months old now, and is getting a new starter set in celebration. Well, I’m not sure if that was the actual motivation, but anyway! T’au Fire Warriors vs Space Wolf Primaris Marines, battling it out among the ruins of the Sector Mechanicus. Cool beans, though I’m not sure if that is going to prove to be as popular a box as the initial one, simply because of the terrain on offer. But it’s good that they’re recognising the game is popular enough to need the starter box as a range item.

I can’t do a 40k update blog without mentioning the latest reveals from the Battle Sister Bulletin, starting with the incredible new Canoness model. What a sculpture! I suppose the centrepiece model of the army will still be Saint Celestine, but to have a really ornate character model like this to stand out is a real treat, for me. Several people have pointed out the fact that it’s nice for GW to be portraying a more mature lady for the role as well, which I suppose is a good thing, though I wish it was something that didn’t have to be made an issue of. I’m sure she’ll be the subject for many painting competition entries for years to come, anyway!

I was a bit sceptical when I did my Bulletin round-up blog last month that we’d see the Sisters Repentia, but in the very next bulletin, we got the first look at these girls, and they are pretty good, I have to say! The half-naked look has been replaced with one that is vaguely unsettling, but which echoes the purpose of these miniatures really well.

If the canoness miniature is going to form the subject of so many competition entries for years to come, I think the latest reveal is going to be adorning display cabinets across the globe for decades!

The Hospitaller model is stunning. There’s no other word for her, really. She’s got a similar sort of scenic base to the Primaris Apothecary, I suppose, but what an incredible model to include in the army! The rules for the Hospitaller in the beta-Codex are actually quite bland, albeit fairly powerful when used at the right time. I guess the miniature itself seems to suggest a much more grand position than just returning D3 lost wounds / a single miniature to a squad per turn. She costs less points than a swarm of Canoptek Scarabs, but the model is just insane!

Sisters of Battle should be a very cool army once they start to be released, and I’m sure there will be forces cropping up all over the place! My inner-hipster wants to wait out the initial flurry, and see how the land lies and the Codex fares before I go all-out, though. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of stuff going on, after all!

I’ve talked about my Necrons project, the Great Reanimation, plenty of times now – most recently, after the flurry of games that I’ve managed to get in with the army. It’s definitely a work-in-progress, as I try to get to grips with the force and experiment with new army builds and the like. I’ve recently passed about 5 years of being in the hobby, and in sort of a celebration of this, I’ve been trying to rescue my Tomb Stalker, the first Forge World model that I’d picked up in the Autumn of 2014. I wrote up a blog about this gentleman that you can read here, but it’s time to try to bring him up to date with the rest of the force (and, sadly, to repair all of the various breaks he’s experienced over the years!) So far, so good, though there’s probably a lot more to be done before he’s ready for the tabletop once again!

I’m really enjoying the Necrons, I have to say – they’ve been enjoying a lot of air time with me recently, and I think I’m getting more and more ideas as to what I can do with them, and so on. They were, of course, my first army, and the attention that they’re finally getting from me is, I think, befitting that status! I’ve got a few more games lined up, where I’m planning to change up my army build to include some (for me) really exotic units, so stay tuned for my further adventures!

Finally, let’s talk about this Psychic Awakening trailer that dropped at the start of the month!

40k Endless Spells seem to be the forerunner for what it means, and while at first I thought the same, I’m no longer so sure. Endless Spells feel a little bit like GW’s attempt to make AoS different to 40k. The fact that they’ve been quite successful, by all accounts, doesn’t make me think they’re suddenly going to port over the idea into 40k just to make more money. I feel like we’re going to be in for another campaign idea along the lines of Vigilus from last winter.

The sigil that forms the main visual interest in the trailer is that for the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the organisation responsible for finding psykers out in the galaxy and, where appropriate, training them. Such psykers often become sanctioned for use by the Astra Militarum, become astropaths, or sometimes join the ranks of the Inquisition. So far, in the game we’ve got the old Primaris Psykers and Wyrdvane Psykers models for the Imperial Guard, and the Sisters of Silence.

This is where we are, but the announcement that went alongside the trailer promised “a new, galaxy-spanning event that’s going to have a significant impact on every Warhammer 40,000 faction“. The fact that it’s called an event is probably what is causing the Endless Spells speculation, as Malign Portents that introduced them for AoS came with the same tagline. But I’d much rather see something much like the Gathering Storm that came at the very end of 7th edition, which brought out Triumvirate boxes of major characters for a few factions.

I don’t see how every faction can have something linked to a Psyker event, as so many of them are anti-psychic, such as Necrons, Dark Eldar, Adeptus Mechanicus and T’au Empire. So I wonder what we’re going to be getting? Plastic C’tan Shards would be cool, and maybe plastic Grostesques for the Haemonculus Covens that act as Psyker-hunters? I suppose we don’t have too long to wait, if it’s coming this Autumn! At least the Ultramarines got to have a Primaris Tigurius to help them!!

To finish, I thought it worth mentioning the next expansion for Blackstone Fortress that is coming up for pre-order this weekend. Escalation is a sort of traditional big-box expansion for the game, and one that I hadn’t honestly expected to see until much nearer Christmas, if I’m honest!

It’s exciting to see more esoteric corners of the 40k universe being explored in miniatures with stuff like the Primaris Psyker and a third Rogue Trader model. I do wonder if we aren’t in for a full Rogue Trader army soon, given the amount of stuff we’ve seen for this faction since Kill Team Rogue Trader came out last year. There are a lot of possibilities for them, after all!

The next few months are going to be pretty exciting for 40k players, I feel!

Apparently, it’s summer now…

Hey everybody,
It’s been raining something terrible here in the UK for the last week or so, which has left me with a lot of indoor pursuits to take my mind off the fact we’ve had more than a month’s rainfall within hours. I’ve already talked about getting back into Magic, which has been very exciting as I’ve been rediscovering that classic. I’ve got quite a bit more to discuss on that, of course, so those blogs will be peppering my site over the coming weeks and months. I’ve already got some lined up, to keep things going while I move house (though when, exactly, that will be, remains to be seen!) so I thought I’d check in with everything else that has been going on!

First of all, I’ve really gotten back into painting, and have been really getting somewhere with my Skitarii army ideas from days gone by. I’ve been toying around with quite a number of list ideas, though for now I’m trying to focus on painting up what I’ve got built, and ensuring I can bring down the pile of shame into something more akin to a proper army.

I’ve managed to get two lots of five troops, along with one HQ and one elite slot finished. Once I’ve finished up the Tech Priest Enginseer and the next ten Vanguard painted up, I want to move back to making the two lots of five troops into two lots of ten, which I’ll probably do alongside another character model. I’ve also built up five Sicarian Infiltrators, which I really like – especially that Princeps model! I love the insane technical details on these models, and I’ve really enjoyed painting the abundance of clips and plugs and screens on the Enginseer, so I’m expecting to enjoy him as well!

It’s my plan to get 500 points of AdMech painted up soon, so that I can start to play games with them. I don’t have an Imperium army that I can play with, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they work. Once I’ve got those 500 points finished, I can keep painting and adding to the collection, but at least it will be an army that is seeing some action, at last!

Skitarii list 500 points

My thought process here is to keep adding units that interest me, or that I feel that I need, once I’ve been able to try the army out and see what it’s all about. I’m guessing that heavier artillery will be a requirement, and I’ve already started to put some paint on the first Dunecrawler twelve months ago, so hopefully that will be making an appearance before too long!

On the subject of painting models, I’ve also been fidding with some Necromunda miniatures, the Delaque gangers that I’d built back in December. I want to get into this game so badly, but finding people to play with has been proving a bit more difficult than I’d thought – hopefully soon, though, I’ll be able to get either the Delaque or Van Saar models to the table and try it out! I just hope I actually enjoy it!

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I’ve also been reading Warhammer 40k novels quite voraciously, as I try to work my way through quite the backlog that I have! The Space Marines Legends series was a short-lived set of hardbacks that focused on a single Space Marine hero from one of the popular first-founding chapters. I’d read the first book in the series, Cassius, back in 2017, and was quite impressed overall. Lemartes takes us to the Blood Angels, and discusses the cursed sons of Sanguinius with the dual flaws of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage. We follow a Chaos incursion on the planet Phlegethon, which the Blood Angels are sent to put down. The Death Company are unleashed on the cultists, along with those brothers from the Fourth Company who are particularly susceptible to the Red Thirst. When the cultists bring down the wrath of Khorne on the planet, these brothers almost lose themselves, but fortunately the unbridled fury of the Death Company is able to bring down the greater daemon Skarbrand.

It’s an enjoyable enough novel, though it felt a little bit like a non-event in the grand scheme of things. I also read Azrael recently, by the king of the Dark Angels, Gav Thorpe, but I was particularly unimpressed with this one. It just felt interminable, and the plot was particularly uninspiring overall. Also dealing with a Chaos uprising, and showing Azrael’s ascent to Supreme Grand Master of the Chapter, I was hoping we’d get to see a lot more of the inner circle, but instead it all just fell a bit too flat for me. Ah well!

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A bit more recently, we have Cadia Stands, which is something of a tie-in to the Gathering Storm series that brought 7th Edition to a close. The novel deals with, well, the Fall of Cadia, as the forces of Chaos emerge from the Eye of Terror for Abaddon’s Thirteenth Black Crusade. Yes, he’s had a Thirteenth Black Crusade before, but this is a different Thirteenth Black Crusade. I really found myself enjoying this book, as we followed groups of Cadians around the planet. I thought it was really quite interesting to see how the soldiers reacted to the increasingly Chaotic events on-world, as some struggled to evacuate from the warzone.

The book has been followed up by Cadian Honour, which seems to follow up on one of the soldiers featured in Cadia Stands, Minka Lesk. I’m not normally one for Cadian stories, as I’m not a fan of the army in-game, but I enjoyed this one enough that I’m thinking I’ll probably give it a try soon!

Arkham Horror LCG

From 40k to Lovecraft, and it’s been quite an adventure this afternoon, as I’ve finally started playing the Dunwich Legacy!

I’ve been playing this game for what feels like a long time now, but have never made it past the Core Set. Back last October, I finished the core set campaign, Night of the Zealot, and so built up some decks with the new cards and thought about starting up the Dunwich Legacy, but other things seemed to get in the way. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally made it to Dunwich!

I’ve played the first scenario, Extracurricular Activity, using my Jenny Barnes and Ursula Marsh decks. I know Ursula is a more recent investigator, but the deck was built, so there we are! I really enjoyed it, seeing how the game has evolved from the core set already was quite interesting. There is a strong discard theme in the first scenario, at least, which I wasn’t expecting – I didn’t quite see my decks completely discarded, but even so, it was something I wasn’t really prepared for, and the hate leveled at investigators by the Agenda for having a large discard pile was really something!

Arkham Horror LCG Dunwich Legacy

Overall, I’m really enjoying this game. I’ve been buying everything for it as it has been coming out up until the current cycle which, due to real life intrusions, I hadn’t been aware had been released! When I popped by the games shop recently, it turns out pretty much the entire cycle has been released now, though I’m fairly sure I’ve only picked up the deluxe cycle.

FFG have recently announced a fifth deluxe expansion, The Dream-Eaters, which has also taken me unawares! The way the campaign works for this expansion is quite unique, as it features scenarios set in the real world and in the Dreamlands, and you choose one of the two for your investigators to follow. There is still talk of a cohesive eight-part campaign, though, so it sounds as though it will still be a traditional cycle. I may even have caught up with it all by then, and be able to play this one as it happens!

While I am loving this return to the Arkham Horror LCG, and finally getting round to seeing what I’ve been missing all this time, I’m also excitedly awaiting A Shadow in the East, the next deluxe expansion for Lord of the Rings. I haven’t played that game for a long time now, I know, but it is still up there for me, and I look forward to getting my grubby little hands on it!

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…