Games, Games, Games!

Last week, my wife said the words every guy wants to hear: shall we have a regular game night?

Awesome!

For our first game of the new season, as it were, we got Elder Sign to the table, and started against Yog Sothoth – which was just vicious! We started out as Amanda Sharpe and Gloria Goldberg, but the Museum cards were just so brutal that we were pretty much on an uphill slog from the get-go. It wasn’t impossible per se, but even with Amanda’s ability to complete multiple tasks per roll of the dice, I did find it very difficult. Indeed, Gloria was devoured within about two turns! We went through a succession of investigators, each one was pretty much on a conveyor belt as they turned up, stuck around for maybe a turn or two, then was devoured.

Perhaps inevitably, then, Yog Sothoth woke up and for maybe only the second time I was faced with having to defeat an Ancient One by removing doom. To start with, it was going okay – by this point, we’d made it through to Carolyn Fern and Jenny Barnes – and we removed quite a bit of doom. Then of course, we plateaued. Fortunately, we had amassed enough trophies between the two of us that we were able to keep discarding them through all of this, but with still three doom tokens on him, our final couple of trophies were discarded, and we were devoured forever.

It was a really good game, despite the lack of success! I think Elder Sign sometimes has the reputation for being a walk in the park, hence why later expansions deemed it necessary to make things much more difficult. However, it just goes to show that with the wrong combinations of investigators and location cards, we started on the back foot and things only got worse from there. I honestly don’t think any of the location cards we pulled was particularly easy, and many times we found ourselves failing tasks as a result.


But we’re going to be playing more, which is exciting stuff, so I’m looking forward to working through each of the Ancient Ones in the core game, and then Jemma has said we should also work through the expansions, which is really exciting! I’ve played with Unseen Forces a few times now, but I’m fairly sure that stuff like Gates of Arkham and Omens of Ice have only hit the table once each, and Omens of the Pharaoh and Omens of the Deep have never been played with – indeed, the tokens sheet was still shrinkwrapped in each of the boxes!

I’m really looking forward to seeing what each of these expansions has to offer, and there will doubtless be more reports here on the blog when I do! I’ve also recently bought Ticket to Ride and the Charms & Potions expansion for the Harry Potter deck building game, so that’s very exciting, as well!

Moving on!

Last night, I had my first game of Tau in 9th edition, my first game with Tau since June 2018 and 8th edition, and my first game of 40k in what feels like months! Fortunately, I don’t think I was particularly rusty with the rules. JP was playing Imperial Fists, which was a revelation, as he has only ever played Word Bearers in all the time I’ve known him, so we both didn’t really know what we were doing…

I was playing according to the plans and thoughts laid out in this blog, so was really happy that I had remembered to actually write all of this stuff out beforehand, as I could just reference it when needed! I think that was probably the first big difference, because while I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, I was still prepared, but JP wasn’t prepared with his Fists. I don’t mean that unkindly, just that there wasn’t really a plan that took into account stratagems and so on.

We were playing the Crossfire mission, albeit on a square table rather than the usual rectangle. I was able to get first turn, which proved to be incredibly powerful as I was able to move my Pathfinders into position securely knowing that I would not be overly exposing them by doing so. As such, they snagged me two additional objectives, and were able to light up a lot of the board with markerlight tokens. Between the first Pathfinder squad and the Breacher squad, I was able to eliminate a squad of Primaris marines (and I forgot about the markerlight buff while doing so – learning point number one!) Then moving on to the Redemptor Dreadnought, my Crisis team was able to get rid of that in combination with the Strike squad. I used the Relentless Fusillade stratagem to double the shots and improve AP by 1, then the Coordinated Engagement stratagem to further improve the AP by 1, on top of having chosen Mont’ka to improve the AP by 1 for all shooting within 18”. I forgot about the Coordinated Engagement on the Crisis team, but my Fire Warriors were making 20 shots at AP-4, which is worth it just for the hilarity factor. As such, the Dreadnought was eliminated in short order.

The second group of Pathfinders then shot the Primaris Eliminators off the board, with some assistance from the Commander, whose final volleys helped to soften up the Impulsor tank. Two hours of my shooting phase later, and I had wiped out three entire units, and controlled three of the four objective markers, meaning I was already up 7 victory points. There wasn’t a great deal that could then be done, though JP was actually able to wipe out that second Pathfinder squad in a single round of close combat, thanks to the Assault Intercessors making a ridiculous number of attacks on the charge.

In the end, I lost the Pathfinder team, two Crisis suits, and a single Fire Warrior. Due to the fact that it was already getting late, and we were only having a learning game anyway, we called it after the first turn, but I think this will definitely bear further exploration as time goes on, as I really enjoyed the army, regardless of the victory.

There were definitely some learning points on my side of the table as well, though. For starters, drones are people too (kinda) – I had been treating them as basically unit upgrades and not thinking of them as actual models. As such, that second Pathfinder squad shouldn’t have been wiped out, as there were still 5 wounds remaining from the drones. Secondly, there is a very tasty stratagem called Pulse Onslaught for Fire Warriors, which makes 6s auto-wound. I think it was the Strike Squad that rolled about seven 6s to hit, which would have been quite wonderful, but no matter. My third learning point is around the Commander, who allows for nearby Core units to re-roll hits of 1, and also for nearby Core units to advance a straight 8”. As it happens, I rolled a 6 for my Breacher squad and was therefore able to advance them enough to claim the objective they were sat on for the game, backing up the Pathfinders there. But it would be handy to remember!

I do quite like the Breacher team, as they were able to play a key part in removing the unit of Primaris marines, thanks to the Breach and Clear stratagem that allows for re-rolls of wound rolls, and also denies cover. However, while this brings me on to where to go next with the army, I think I’m actually going to favour the Strike team instead as my third unit of troops, giving the unit pulse carbines rather than pulse rifles for a more mobile team. I think this could work quite well, having the unit with pulse rifles remaining fairly stationary for the battle, as they still have the stratagem to double the shots so they don’t need to move into rapid fire range to do damage. I can then have the pulse carbines moving into position to set up that Coordinated Engagement, and potentially have both units doling out 20 shots each, AP-3 for the carbines and AP-4 for the rifles. With judicious use of the Commander to allow for them to re-roll hits of 1, that could be very nice indeed.

I’m definitely thinking about swapping out the Ethereal for the Cadre Fireblade, as this guy gives pulse weapons within 6” exploding 6s to hit, and also has the ability to allow for re-roll of 1s to hit, giving the Commander more flexibility to cover the field. He also has a markerlight, which I’m thinking will be key to the battle here, as it basically allows for the troops to hit on 3s as well, which stacks up something dreadful. I mean, what other basic troop choice has the firepower for 20 shots to hit on 3s, re-rolling 1s, and 6s get additional shots and auto-wound; wounding (potentially) on 3s, at AP-4?

I’m still intent on not letting this army get away from me, though, so I don’t want to plan for all manner of horribleness and end up with too much to paint. I already have the Crisis team and Ethereal primed but not painted, and I built the Breacher squad ready for this game, but now have 23 models that need painting because of this! It makes me uneasy, so I’m not about to go building the Ghostkeel or something, just to have more toys to play with at the expense of drastically increasing the painting load!

There’s doubtless more to be said about the Tau, and I definitely think I’m back wanting to get them painted again! So that was very good!

March 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
March has felt like a long month, do you think? It seems to have been a long time since I last wrote one of these retrospective blogs, at least, and I was a bit concerned that I might have missed it! It’s also been a fairly slow month, in many respects, although I think that’s possibly due to me taking a week off work to sort the garden out, which meant my hobby time was otherwise fairly limited!

However, I did get the Tau Commander painted up quite quickly, which I was very pleased with! It didn’t seem to take all that long, either, so I was pleased with the progress there, though said progress then seemed to just atrophy, as I began casting about for other projects. I did have a pretty hefty focus on Warcry, and have managed to get all of the Red Harvest terrain built, as well as the Tarantulos Brood. I still have some of the Darkoath left to put together, but it’s getting there!

Warcry is such a beautiful game though, and I love how GW are still putting out content for us to devour. The Tome of Champions 2021 is a good example of this, keeping the game fresh with stuff all the time. Of course, I don’t play it anywhere near as much as I would like, so it’s hardly at risk of going stale for me, but even so! I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get some more games in soon though.

Kill Team Nachmund has been released, as well, and so I’ve also been spending time building up that, starting with the Corsairs and then terrain, as well as the Heretic Astartes upgraded models. This last in particular has now got me in full flow with my Chaos once more, as I’ve been working on some Black Legion guys as a bit of a palette cleanse following two-and-a-bit months of painting Sa’cea Sept. I do keep thinking that I need to return to the Tau, of course, but I do feel the need to get something different painted.

The Black Legion are proving to be a little troublesome for me, because of the amount of detailing etc, and I’m not all that sure about the scheme right now. I think Chaos Marines are probably just one of those model sets where they are difficult to get painted well, due to all of the baroque finery. In comparison the Tau were a piece of cake! For now, I’ve decided that I’m going to get five Marines and the Sorcerer finished, all models that I had started working on a long time ago, so it’s definitely something that I need to get finished!

Star Wars
March has been quite the month for Star Wars as well, though, as I have been reading The Fallen Star and watching the Prequel movies. My wife Jemma isn’t entirely fussed on watching them, but we started watching the Prequels mid month and have decided to just keep going through them all, so that’ll be good! It’s got me thinking about re-reading some more of the Legends books and comics, as I did talk about in last month’s blog, and so I’m planning to do something throughout the summer, so watch this space for that! Should be quite a hefty series of blog reviews and so on, but hopefully it’ll be interesting for you all!

We also had the first trailer for Kenobi, which is excitingly coming out in May, so not too long left now! Mandalorian season three is still on the cards for the end of the year, as well as the Rogue One prequel series Andor coming out at some point. This photo was doing the rounds in October 2021, purportedly showing what we could expect in 2022, but with Mando being pushed back, who knows when Ahsoka will be coming back to the screen?


Watching the movies has put me in such a Star Wars mood, though – that probably accounts for some of the hobby dip that happened. Though I have got those Legion miniatures out of the attic, so who knows whether that will be a feature going forward?! Legion is something that I have thought about a lot over the years, though my first serious thoughts came when we were a couple of weeks into the first Lockdown, and nobody really knew what was going to happen. It was a nice distraction at the time, but I ended up not doing anything with this as we all settled into the new normal, and I went back to 40k. Well, maybe something will happen this time?

I’m always a bit wary of making these sorts of announcements, because I invariably get distracted, but hopefully it’ll be a big summer of Star Wars here on the blog!

Arkham Horror LCG
I have surprised myself this month by playing a couple of games with this, getting three-quarters of the way through the campaign before (spoiler alert) my investigators were killed! In my game day blog on Tuesday this week, I had said I wasn’t sure whether I would shuffle up and try again, or accept their fate and close the book on Innsmouth for the time being. Well, I have decided to close the book, and have dismantled the decks for Stella and Zoey – they weren’t a bad pair, if I’m honest; I just don’t think I was as into everything this time around for some reason. Possibly because I was snatching games where I could, and not really making the time to enjoy the game.

I’ve since made up two new decks, using Ursula Downs and Lily Chen, and I’m pondering my next move as regards which campaign I’m going to set off for. I’m currently favouring The Forgotten Age, though the allure of the new Edge of the Earth is also calling to me! I did feel bad for skipping TFA when I embarked upon The Circle Undone, more than twelve months ago now, but obviously campaigns don’t need to be played in the order they were released, so that doesn’t really matter.


My Ursula deck is pretty standard fare, leaning heavily into her already-high investigation attribute to really bolster this, and then use it (so far as Seekers allow) to fulfil other tests, too. The theme of using one attribute for another is more prevalent in the Mystics, of course, but Lily is a curious one in that she has a very high combat attribute already, so I don’t necessarily want to include a lot of spells that allow her to use her willpower for everything. I have included those spells like Rite of Seeking that allow her to investigate with willpower though, and there are a couple of ways for her to improve her willpower too, as I tend to split my party in games, to cover more ground, and so I like to have my investigators able to be as flexible as possible.

Lily is also curious in that she is a Mystic who can only use Level 0 Mystic cards, but can lean into Guardian cards up to Level 5. Whether that’s simply to allow for her to use the butterfly swords, I have no idea, but I find it interesting that this is going to likely become a deck that bears no resemblance to its beginnings, although of course we shall see how that transpires! I’ve only played a Mystic a couple of times, but I seem to recall there are a lot of good, higher-level cards that I like. Hm.

At any rate, Mystic and Seeker are my two favourite classes, and so I am looking forward to taking these two out, whichever campaign I decide to embark upon!

More Tau Thoughts

Hey everybody,
It’s been a week or so since I mentioned the Tau, and I’m clearly getting withdrawal! I’ve been giving a lot of thought to them, though, and think it’s time to try to get things straight in my head. I’ve also been doing some historical research through the previous Tau books, which has been quite interesting! But let’s not digress too far just yet!

Here is the list that I am currently working on getting painted.


It’s going really quite well, even if I do say so myself. I’ve been working on getting the Commander painted since I finished up the Fire Warriors at the end of February, and it hasn’t yet been a full week and I think I’ve made some really great progress with this guy! The armour is pretty much done now, so I need to work on the functional bits and pieces, getting the gyros painted and all the lenses, then the weapons and basing! Makes it sound so easy, but it will hopefully only take another week or so. I then want to get the Ethereal painted up, a project I’m hoping may not take me too long, after which I guess it’ll be on to the Crisis Suits! So that’s not bad at all, really! At that point, then, I’ll have the full list painted, the only issue then being that the list isn’t necessarily a good one.


I think it’s been interesting, the way that I’ve approached this one, having started with two groups of Pathfinders because of the fact that’s what I had “in stock”, so to speak. If they were a troops choice, then that’d be fine, but being fast attack, it does leave me with a bit of a hill to climb in so far as getting an army to go around them. I do have some of the more utility troops now though, so where does that leave me, army-wise?

So, as I think I said before, I’m playing these chaps as Sa’cea Sept when I get to my first game with them, as that is the colour scheme that I am using. Sa’cea gives my infantry Dense Cover when they are targeted from more than 12” away (Dense Cover is -1 to hit, so that’s nice). Vehicles get the same when they’re targeted from more than 18” away, though I don’t yet have any vehicles in the list. Finally, Vehicles and Battlesuits can fire heavy weapons in close combat with no penalty, which is also irrelevant just now as all of my Battlesuit units are equipped with Assault weapons. But anyway!

For the time being, I am considering this force to be working around the Crisis Team. I’ve talked many times in the past about building an army around a unit or group of units, and for the time being, my Crisis Team is that unit. These guys can move 10” and, thanks to the suite of weapons that I have equipped them with, I’m hopeful that they will be quite a deadly mobile threat. Two guys have got plasma rifles and burst cannons, missile pods and multi-trackers, and the shas’vre has a cyclic ion blaster, fusion blaster, early warning override and missile pod. From the missile pods, that is 6 shots with a 30” range, S7, AP-2 and 2 damage each. So that’s quite nice for some high-toughness models if I need to clear them out. There are 12 burst cannon shots, which are only S5 and AP0 D1, but that’ll be good for going against some marine equivalent types, and is the reason for bringing the multi-tracker on those guys, as that piece of kit gives exploding 6s to hit when targeting a unit with 6 or more models. So those two pieces of kit go hand in hand quite nicely, I think. The sergeant equivalent here, the shas’vre, has got a cyclic ion blaster which is three shots at S7 AP-2 and D1, but it can be overcharged for S8 AP-2 D2, much like a plasma gun for the Imperium. It’s only 18” range, but with each model having 4 wounds, it might not be too much to worry about overcharging it at least once in the game for some additional damage. I think that I see myself targeting characters or monster-like creatures with that the most, as it has a potential for some high damage output and stuff. And it’s a similar story for the remaining weapons, really. Plasma rifles have a huge threat range of 30” and, while only one shot each, they are firing that shot at S8 AP-4 and D3. So it has the potential to put some serious holes in things. On top of that, the squad leader has a fusion blaster, which is the Tau equivalent of a meltagun, 18” range with one shot at S8 AP-4 Dd6, though that increases to d6+2 at half range. So there is some degree of lethality among the more suppressive-fire style of weaponry. In total, 24 shots will be coming out of the team, with exploding 6s from the two guys.

Now, the elephant in the room of course is that Crisis Suits are hitting on 4s. However, I’m bringing two Marker Drones for them to use, which will potentially grant +1 to hit against the unit hit by the markerlight, so I have two possibilities with having the two drones, but remember I’m backing the army up with 2 groups of 10 Pathfinders, who together are firing 15 markerlights. So I’m thinking that Pathfinders will be the key element in lighting up the field at the start of the turn, especially as they have the vanguard move, and can fire markerlights at the end of the movement phase, to keep that mobility.

That’s pretty much going to be the beauty of having so many Pathfinders on the board. While I do have some of the fancy tech in those teams as well, I am predominantly using them for the markerlights, with any shots that they can put out being bonus. They have three rail rifles between the two groups, which are nice one shot S8 AP-4 D3 weapons that dish out mortal wounds on a successful wound roll, and two ion rifles which are similar to the cyclic ion blaster, though unfortunately Heavy rather than Assault. 30 pulse carbine shots will be good for harassment though, and I think that’s going to be my secondary use for these guys. Each squad also has a Recon Drone, which comes with a burst cannon, so depending on how I’m able to string everything out in the battlefield, the Pathfinders have the potential to be quite a disruptive unit, while simultaneously providing the support for the big guns from stuff like the Crisis Team.

Adding to that level of disruption is the new tech on the Pathfinders, one piece of which is the Neuroweb System Jammer. This simply makes the unit available to use the stratagem of the same name, which gives one unit within 18” of it -1 to hit until the start of my next shooting phase. It’s all about being annoying, but I think this is a good place to start talking stratagems. There are some fairly decent ones in here that should be very useful throughout the game. Dynamic Offensive stands out for me as a perfect fit for my Crisis Team, as for 1CP I can advance them a straight 6” and they don’t suffer the penalty for advancing and firing Assault weapons. So straightaway I’m getting a 16” move with them, and some of those guns had a 30” range to them, meaning that unit is one that you have to take notice of. The Coldstar Commander does allow them to advance a straight 8”, though without negating the penalty. The Repulsor Impact Field can be useful in a pinch, shortening charge moves against Battlesuit units by 2”, so if a unit had only just made a charge, I can turn that off for some defensive capability. Jet Pack units also have a fire and move stratagem for 1CP, so I could move the Crisis Team the 16”, shoot, then make a normal move of 6” afterwards. Wow!

There’s an interesting stratagem that effectively allows you to catch a unit in a crossfire: pick an enemy unit, and two friendly units that are within 18” of that enemy and visible to it. They can only attack that unit, but they improve the AP by 1 for that attack. It might not be something that I lavish on the Crisis Suits, or even the Pathfinders, as they have specialist weapons and whatnot. But when I have a second group of Fire Warriors, I’ll be absolutely aiming to set this sort of thing up, for pulse rifles or pulse blasters shooting at AP-2! On top of that, there is the Relentless Fusillade stratagem that allows a Strike Team to make double the shots regardless of rapid fire range, and improve the AP. And that doesn’t take account of the Mont’ka Philosophy of War that improves AP! 20 shots from what you thought was a basic gun, coming at you with AP-4? What’s not to like there! Finally, there’s another interesting one, Shocking Firestorm, where each model destroyed by a shooting attack counts as two models for the purposes of Morale. I think that could be useful where I’m only targeting the unit with a couple of guns, so I’m not expecting too many great things. Interesting options, though!

I mentioned the Fire Warriors just now, I don’t think I’m going to be doing a great deal of anything too fancy with them, as they’re basic troops (albeit with S5 AP-1 D1 guns). That leaves the two HQs. The Ethereal on Hover Drone has got his Chaplain-like Invocations ability, where he can intone one of the two Invocations he knows. Storm of Fire allows a nearby Core unit to shoot without any actions failing, and Zephyr’s Grace gives -1 to hit against a nearby Core unit. He’s a handy utility guy, with some melee capability, though I don’t think I’m going to be throwing him into close combat!

The Coldstar Commander is one of my favourite models in the Tau range, and is coming with a lot of firepower. For starters, I’ve given him the airbursting fragmentation projector, almost because it’s such a ridiculous sounding weapon that I can’t help but like the sound of it! A blast weapon, it’ll be firing at least 3 shots (or “bomblets” as the 6th Edition codex puts it) against a unit of 10 men at S4 AP-1 D1, and you can target units not visible to the bearer. The high-output burst cannon is Assault 10, which I did have to double check when I first came across it, but there it is, and those ten shots are at S5 AP-1 D1. He also has a missile pod for a further 2 shots as already described. You might be thinking, that’s not particularly scary, and in all honesty you’re right; I’ve given him a shield generator for a 4++ and a Gun Drone to get a bit of extra damage out, but he’s not about drawing attention to himself like that. His Signature System has some built-in defence, whereby melee attacks are -1 to hit against him, and anybody in combat with him will fight last. He does have the Prototype System whereby he can drop grenades on top of a unit he has moved over on a 2+, dishing out D3 mortal wounds, so there is a bit more damage output there, and his Warlord Trait allows for a bit more accuracy as he can re-roll hits and re-roll wounds. But while he’s hopefully not going to be a washout, he isn’t screaming “come target me!”

But a model that is pumping out potentially 15-18 shots per round with a fairly decent accuracy must still be taken notice of, which leads me to the over-arching plan for the army: target saturation. If the Pathfinders are being annoying as hell, but they’re on opposite sides of the field; if the Crisis Team is being mobile and deadly, and you can’t keep up with them; if there are 20 pulse rifle shots coming from the Fire Warriors, with the support turret shooting out 4 grenades at units you thought were in cover – where do you concentrate your fire? There is a lot that is going to be coming at you, and with some careful positioning, I think it should be quite horrendous to face Tau in their shooting phase before you can begin to think about tying them up in melee.

Without trying to get ahead of myself, my immediate plans for the army after I’m finished painting the Crisis Team and the HQs is to add in a Breacher Team. While I do like Relentless Fusillade for the improved AP shenanigans, I think variety is nice, and they do have the stratagem to re-roll wounds and negate cover. Their pulse blaster is a shorter range, though can potentially be quite deadly in the unit is firing within 8”. That will also bring the list up to around about the 960 points mark, so I can start to think about planning in some 1000 point games!

As I said at the top, I have been doing a bit of historical research about the army and seeing how it has transferred from 6th/7th edition, through 8th and into 9th edition. As it happens, the cost of this army has come down quite a lot, from 1022 in 6th to 888 in 8th, and now 848 points. Of course, some stuff like the Crisis Suits and the Coldstar have illegal load-outs when you compare them with how they could be built back in the day. What has surprised me the most, I think, is how the Crisis Team has changed in costing, coming in at more than 100 points more expensive last edition. I’m hopeful that they will really be the stars of the show, though, and while I’m fully prepared to see them wiped off the table before they can do anything, I am keen to see how they do in the real world as opposed to all this paper lark!

I suggested at the top that the list isn’t going to be great, and then rambled for ages about how good I think everything is going to work together. Well, that’s still true, I think it will work really well, but it definitely needs something more than I have right now. More troops will definitely be handy, and the Breachers will take care of that. I am thinking that I might get myself a couple of transports for some greater flexibility, plus the Devilfish also has the option for that vanguard move at the start of the game, to give greater deployment capabilities. The true centrepiece of the army that I am working towards, however, is going to be the Riptide. That beast is definitely going to be a distraction for the rest of the army, no matter how he’s equipped. I do like the heavy burst cannon for its 12 shots at S6 AP-2 D2 each, though do I arm him with two plasma rifles or two fusion blasters? Both are very interesting options, but I think it’s going to be some time before I have to make that decision. At any rate, having a Knight equivalent striding around is going to take the heat from the Crisis Team, I think, who will likely still be causing carnage among everything else, so I’m hoping that this will prove to be a really nice army to play, when I get it to the table!

Buying a unit and then painting it has definitely been the way to go for me this time around, though. Even though I have the Combat Patrol box in hand while I’m still working on the other stuff, I don’t feel overwhelmed this time around, and it’s all really quite manageable. Other projects, the Sisters being a case in point, are kinda dragging me down by the amount of stuff that I have for them, and I really don’t have that same level of excitement and positivity about those projects as I do about the Tau. Who knew plastic could have such a profound effect on a guy?!

February 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
February has been and gone, and in all honesty I don’t think it was half as productive as January turned out to be! This is probably because I ended up struck down with a cold for the last week, although there has been plenty of real-life stuff going on to make matters worse.

To start with, I have finished painting the Tau Fire Warriors that were this month’s project. I was hoping that I could have been as productive as last month, and get at least two units painted up, but in the event I only just managed to get the one done! They have been painted in the same manner as the Pathfinders, for the most part, which has meant the scheme was already established, etc. That was fortunate, though part of me does feel like they haven’t turned out looking as good as the Pathfinders did. Hm. At any rate, that’s one squad down, so I’m pleased on that score! The army, if it can be called that, it off to a good start then, I think, as I have a lot of infantry units fully painted, as well as their associated drones, so I’m pleased about that!


Something that I always try to avoid when starting army projects like this is falling into the trap of painting up the fancy HQ model / models first, getting really excited, then realising that I need to get a whole bunch of troops done next. Doing the troops done first allows you to get the scheme figured out, and doing it that often allows you to really practice things, so that the HQ models should look a bit better! That’s the theory, at least!

So, why has it taken me so long to get these Fire Warriors done? I mean, one month to paint one unit was the target that I gave myself, but I managed double the numbers in January, so what gives?

February was a bit of a stock-taking month for me, and I spent quite a bit of time looking through all of my other projects, a blog about which you can read here. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the month that I had gotten the armour basecoat done on the troops! I did get distracted quite a bit, first with Sisters, and then with Drukhari, as I started to think about other stuff that I’d like to achieve this year. I would really like to get more of the Dark Eldar finished off, and I would really like an Imperium army, which is de-railing me quite a bit! After giving some thought to the Sisters, I’ve now begun to think a lot about my AdMech, as I hadn’t realised I had so much left. So it has taken something of a concerted effort to actually finish the unit off.

Also, Necromunda happened. I played another game (it should have been two, but I was unwell…) and have been building up more scenery and some of the Forge World minis. I did start to paint up another Delaque ganger for my roster, he’s not quite finished yet but hopefully it won’t take too long to get the finishing touches done. There have been a few distractions, though, and while I do usually like to have different projects on the go to keep my general hobby interest up, it doesn’t always work to my advantage!


At any rate, in March I’m going to be scaling things back somewhat, and I have the Commander to build and paint, and I’m hoping that I can also get the Ethereal and maybe Cadre Fireblade done at the same time. I have talked about my Tau plans, though since then I have picked up the Combat Patrol box, so have a bunch more models to paint for the army! I got promoted in work, and the new job started mid-month, so I used the leaving gift of amazon vouchers to pick that up! Ten more Fire Warriors, the Fireblade, a Ghostkeel and Stealth Suits, and another Ethereal. Busy times ahead! Breaking all of this down, I’m going to focus on getting the HQs ready now, then if time allows I’ll be moving straight on to the Crisis Suits, and then the next batch of Fire Warriors. So that will probably take me right up to the end of April, at the very least – at which point I’ll have a fairly decent-sized force, and can start thinking about the big suits!

Drukhari are still on my mind, however, and I do want to try to get the squad of 10 Wyches painted up in advance of a game that I’m planning sometime soon. I’m hopefully going to keep these things ticking over for the time being, a few models here and there, and we’ll see how much more for the army I’ve got finished by the time December rolls around again! It would be nice to be able to field my Drukhari more, though, and with increased options such as the Wyches and more Reavers, etc, so that’s something for the side project list.

It’s also been a bit of a Star Wars month, as I’ve been reading the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy – again, it’s just been a really slow month, but I did manage to finish the third part in the trilogy, Lesser Evil, and will be publishing a blog with my thoughts on it in the coming days! Since then, I’ve moved on to reading The Last Wish, a book of short stories that introduce The Witcher, after reading this blog from Dave at Wordaholicsanonymous. The Witcher is something I’ve been meaning to dip into for years, albeit having never played the video game. My buddy Tony is a huge fan, and we have played the board game, but that has been it up to this point. I think I’ve read the first three short stories so far, and I’m definitely into it!


The Book of Boba Fett closed up this month, as well, what a curious show that was, in the end. Much more haphazard than The Mandalorian before it, I have to say. I’m still not 100% sure what I think about it, two weeks later – I mean, it was Star Wars, so it was fun. It was a bit of a miss, I think, but I don’t think I actively disliked it as much as, perhaps, a lot of other people seem to. I think a lot of the failings come down to the fact that it was a show about a character nobody has really known what to do with since his debut in 1980; The Mandalorian has shown us how good a show about a bounty hunter could be, so I’m a bit confused as to why this needed to be a Thing. But a Thing it is, and so here we are.

When I’m done with the Witcher, I think I’m going to read some more Star Wars, as I do seem to be in that kind of zone right now. I’ve got the Alphabet Squadron trilogy to read, for starters, although I’m also thinking/hoping that I can re-read some Legends classics soon! There are a lot of wonderful books in the Legends continuity that I would like to showcase on the blog here, so I’m thinking it’d be good to get back to my roots, as it were!

Tau Codex thoughts

Hey everybody,
The Tau Codex has been out for a short while already, though it’s taken me some time to get to grips with it – as with pretty much all these 9th edition codexes that I’ve had my hands on so far, it feels very much like there’s a lot to wrap my head around, given the way that they’re presented. A lot of it is an improvement, of course, grouping the Sept-specific stuff together on one page to allow for easier evaluation of the different sub-factions, but the rules are so often presented in that kind of legal-speak that it can sometimes make things dense to read through.

At any rate, I’ve been having a leaf through, and I think there could be some fun times ahead!


To start with, I don’t have any plans to get myself a Hammerhead Gunship right now! The massive fuss over the rail gun being a Knight-killer seems to have died down at last, which I’m glad about as it was getting a bit annoying. 145 points is good, but it’s a one-shot weapon that hits on 4+. I actually prefer it for the Submunitions stratagem that allows it to dish out up to 8 mortal wounds by rolling a 4+ for each model in a unit. It’s a wonderfully dangerous unit, but I don’t think it’s worth the hype.

Anyway!

It’s been a while since I played Tau, of course, so I don’t think there will be too many comparisons with “back in the day” and so forth! Back when I had a Tau army, though, I was playing them as Bork’an Sept, which granted +6” to rapid fire and heavy weapons. Now, all ranged weapons get +4”, and target units get -1S if the weapon’s S is 7 or more. So, plasma rifles, fusion blasters, rail rifles and ion rifles are the key targets here – Pathfinders and any Suits will be the greatest beneficiaries. That said, I’ve moved away from the idea of Bork’an Sept, and have been painting my models in the Sa’cea Sept colour scheme.

But I think Battlesuits in general are really buffed out in this book, making them the deadly pieces from the army that they should be. When you read how utterly devastating a Crisis Suit is in the fiction and the lore, it’s nice to see that reflected on the tabletop. Battlesuits can fire into close combat now, so mobbing them won’t neutralise them. It’s nice, because these units are iconic to the faction, and something that I plan to use in my army list when I get there! It’s nice to have the infantry of course, but I do like the Crisis Suits, and I’m picturing a Riptide as the centrepiece of the army. So it’ll be nice to have durability there.

For the Greater Good has gone, so there are no more Overwatch shenanigans coming into play with the army. From what I can tell, it isn’t even hiding as a Sept tenet or a stratagem, it’s just gone. I do quite like that, because it’s something that used to make fighting Tau quite oppressive, and could lead to a very slow game as the Overwatch step just carries on forever. The Master of War ability, where a Commander could declare Kauyon or Mont’ka has been completely re-worked into something that doesn’t even resemble its earlier form. Now called Philosophies of War, it’s a bit like the Grey Knights Tides of the Warp where you select an effect to last for a battle round. Mont’ka can be used during the first three rounds, and allows you to move and shoot without the movement impacting, and improves the AP of those shots within a set range, depending on the battle round number. Kauyon overlaps on round 3 and lasts for the rest of the battle, and allows you to both fall back and shoot (with -1 to hit), and gives exploding hits that improve as the battle wears on. Some pretty powerful things there, for sure!

Let’s look at some changes though, since the last time I played. Markerlights are a big one, as they seem to be very much streamlined since the days of 8th edition. Back then, there was a Markerlights table, a cumulative list of effects that range from re-rolls to denying cover, but this has all changed. Fire Markerlights is now an action that begins at the start of the movement phase, and is completed at the end – except for Pathfinders, who start and complete the action at the end of that phase. Vehicles and Drones can also move without the action failing. You pick an enemy unit within 36” and roll a D6 for each Markerlight in your unit; on a 3+ you hit, and the enemy unit gains a Markerlight token. Unlike the GSC codex, though, we don’t get a fancy set of tokens with this book. With the tokens on the board, friendly Tau Empire units get +1 to hit against a unit with a token, and then the token is removed after each shooting attack. Interestingly, you don’t remove the tokens until the firing unit has finished making all attacks – so a Crisis Suit with four different weapons can get +1 to hit with each one, before that token is removed. I initially thought it meant you remove it after each weapon is fired, but anyway. I guess that Hammerhead will be hitting on 3s after all!

Tau Empire Drones


So Markerlights are different. Drones are different, too. Time was, you could pass off any wound to a drone within 3” on a 2+, the so-called “saviour protocols”. Well, that doesn’t exist any longer. Instead, Drones in 9th edition are almost like unit upgrades, some of which bring extra guns to the table. They don’t count as part of the unit they’re attached to for almost any rule that cares about starting strength, overall toughness, etc; their loss is ignored for Morale tests, and any drones docked on another model then the Drone doesn’t count as independent of that model, so you cannot allocate wounds to it that way either. However, because Drones are now attached to the unit properly, that does mean that Shield Drones with 2W and 4++ are going to be handy to have around. They are slightly more expensive than the other two types of Tactical Drone, though, so I don’t know if those extra points might get in the way of their inclusion. It’ll be interesting, though, to make lists from here on out!

And talking of lists, I have started to think in general about how I would like to build out my force. As I’ve already mentioned, I have two full units of Pathfinders now, and I’m working on my first batch of Fire Warriors. My next purchase is definitely going to be a Commander – I know I have talked about buying stuff then painting it, and I’ve got the whole Start Collecting box still to work through, but now that I have the Codex, I want to try and get games in, and so I think I will need a big lad to lead the team. Coldstar Commanders have been somewhat nerfed – gone is the 40” advance across the board, instead we’ve got a model that moves 14”. Ah well – I still like the model, and so I’m still thinking I’ll use him! What I find interesting is that everything seems to have become more deadly – I think we all know about plasma rifles going from S6 AP-3 D1 to S8 AP-4 D3, but stuff like the airbusting fragmentation projector has an increased range and AP, the high-output burst cannon has got more shots, the fusion blaster has got more damage output, etc etc. It’s all just that much more deadly now, and I like it!

I am looking forward to adding the Crisis Suits into the mix, because I think the unit is just so iconic. All-plasma is a very tempting prospect, though I also like the cyclic ion blaster for the number of shots. However, I’ve gone for a bit of a mix in my plans, using the Shas’vre as a hopefully more lethal threat, backed up with a pair of Shas’ui who are a little more utility-focused. The cyclic ion blaster is a bit like an Imperium plasma gun, with the standard/overcharge profiles, and the fusion blaster is the Tau equivalent of a meltagun. The other two guys each have burst cannons and plasma rifles, giving them a spread of shots as well as a focused attack, and I’ve given each of them a multi-tracker to help with damage output – my thinking here is that the burst cannon being Assault 6 will be better suited to bigger units, so the support system having exploding 6s to hit when a target unit has 6 or more models should be handy. The plasma rifle is probably overkill against the same kind of unit, but could still have a place when dealing with sergeants or something. All three models also have missile pods, which are a handy little piece of kit to hopefully throw out some additional damage. To finish, I’m using two of each type of tactical drone, simply for the flexibility.

Support Systems are worth a mention here, also, as some of them have had a small change here and there, and others seem to be wildly different to what I remember them doing! The positional relay is back as a thing, and allows you to bring in reserves in round one; target lock now removes cover from target unit; early-warning override is nice in that it now allows for Overwatch on 5+ and you don’t need to pay the CP for it; the advanced targeting system auto-wounds on 6s. There are some big changes here, which I suppose reflect the changes to the rules in this edition. Drone controllers and shield generators are basically the same though. I think it’s really cool that they have not only kept these things, but improved upon them in certain circumstances.

Much like the relics and whatnot, it’s stuff like this that makes list-building in 9th edition a very tricky business, and as I said when talking about my Genestealer Cults army, I think it’s something that I need to just play games with, to see how it works out for me!


As it stands currently, then, I have 848 points of Tau planned out. The force will be led by the Coldstar Commander, who is toting a high-output burst cannon and airbusting fragmentation projector, along with missile pod and shield generator. He’s the warlord, and his warlord trait allows for re-rolls of both hits and wounds. I’ve upgraded him with internal grenade packs, which allows him to bomb enemies as he flies over them, so I’m quite excited for that!

I also have an Ethereal on hover drone. Ethereals are a bit like Chaplains and Priests now, in that they have Invocations they can choose to attempt each round. Mine knows Storm of Fire (allowing nearby units to shoot while performing actions) and Zephyr’s Grace (-1 to hit if the unit targeting nearby units moved that turn).

For the time being, I’m sticking with Sa’cea Sept, the colour scheme that I have chosen, which allows for some defence as when my infantry are targeted from more than 12” away, they are treated as being in Dense Cover, something that I like. I’m also using the Sa’cea signature system for my Commander, which gives enemies targeting him -1 to hit in the fight phase.


I think there’s going to be a delicate balance to be struck here with defence and offence, but hopefully I’ll be able to have a few good games with these guys once I have them ready to go. I’m going to concentrate now on getting my Fire Warriors finished, then it’ll be time to work on the Ethereal and the Commander, probably during March now.

I am extremely tempted to pick up something else to try and push the points up to 1000 so that I can get some games played, but with 150 points of stuff needed to get there, I think I need to rein myself in a bit first! It’s very tempting to just build it up so that I can play, especially now that I have the book in hand, but in all honesty I do need to control myself. I really don’t want to be drowning in plastic, especially since this is what happened last time I built a Tau army, and I ended up getting rid of it all!

Having some degree of self-control is actually good, though, as it’s making me properly evaluate my purchase choices and ensuring that I only buy what I want in the army. Last time, I had a multitude of stuff, and I don’t think I could have fielded it all outside of an Apocalypse game. Buying just what I want for the force, and painting it steadily as I have been, is definitely a good way to go about this sort of army-building!

January 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
January has been pretty damn productive, I have to say! I’m very impressed with myself, even if the month did feel like it lasted for about a decade. For starters, I’ve made a really good start with my new year, new army, getting two full squads of Tau Pathfinders painted, along with their associated drones. That’s been a really big boost, as far as I’m concerned, because I think I’ve shown that I can get a lot of models finished in a fairly quick turnaround. As with all these sorts of things, it’s often slower while sorting out the colour scheme, so now that I’ve got that sorted out, I think I should be able to keep the pace and have a half-decent army painted by the time Easter rolls around!

For February, I’m planning to paint up some Fire Warriors, again with their associated drones, so we shall see where I get to there.

I had my first game with the new Genestealer Cults book as well, and it was quite the uphill struggle, I have to say! The last time I had a game with these guys, it was 8th edition and I had no idea what I was up to, but the army was predominantly unpainted – this time, everything was painted, and it made such a difference to the visual style, I have to say. I had no idea about the stratagems, and I think potentially only used one or two the whole game – I was otherwise using Command Re-Roll all the time! I think I made a mistake with going all-Neophytes in my troops, though, and using the Hybrid Metamorphs for close combat seemed a bit of a waste as they really weren’t as good as I had been expecting. I think I’ve been clinging to the Metamorph bomb idea from last edition, but as I said last time, it’s something that I wanted to try, just to see what would happen.

I should clarify that the Metamorphs aren’t necessarily bad per se, they just didn’t seem to work well at the lower points limit. I think at a higher points game, they could still be useful as a bodyguard-type unit. We shall see!

For the next time, though, I’m making some swaps – so removing the Metamorphs and the truck, and taking the bikes and a group of Acolyte Hybrids. It seems there are some interesting things that you can do with the Atalan Jackals, so I’m excited to see what will happen there. I’ve made some notes, though, so have a better idea of what I can get up to with the army. Hopefully this is something that I will be doing more of as time goes on, and I try to improve as a player – I’m not talking tournament-dedicated or anything, but I definitely want to be a better player, and hopefully provide a better sort of game for my opponent. I’ll probably be talking more about this in the coming weeks, anyway.

I’ve begun the long and arduous process of going through my various piles of shame as well, in an attempt to properly thin the ranks once more. I’m sure there’ll be more to say on this in the fullness of time, of course, but I’ve discovered that I have almost 900 points of AdMech and 1300 points of Black Legion, which is quite a surprise! I have big chunks of Sisters and Tyranids, among others, which will all need to be looked at quite carefully in the coming months, as I really feel like I’m drowning in plastic at the minute. I have some projects that I haven’t touched either at all, or else for years, which is making me wonder if I’ll ever get round to them.

I think I need to be much more careful with my hobby spends and my hobby time, as the family grows and whatnot. I am somewhere in the area of having my hobby feeling a bit less enjoyable right now, like something I have to do, so it would definitely be an idea to give this some serious thought. There’s also so much coming out that I’m looking forward to…

I’ve also been chipping away at the scenery piece that I’ve got on the table, and it’s coming along quite nicely, I think! I have been through all of my Sector Mechanicus terrain pieces to see what’s going on. There is a lot still to do, but in all honesty I’m not focusing on this stuff right now, it’s all been about the Tau Pathfinders!!

It’s not been all about 40k though. I’ve been reading the Thrawn Ascendancy series, and have made it through the first two books of the trilogy so far. I’ve already written up some thoughts on the first book, which you can read here, and after finishing the second book last night, I’ll get my next instalment out sometime this week. I had the third book for Christmas, so will move on to that one next, I think.

A bit disappointingly, I’ve not been playing any Arkham Horror LCG for weeks, now! I played In Too Deep at the end of November, but for two months now it’s just been untouched! Meanwhile, the Edge of the Earth campaign that has been sleeved and is ready to go. I definitely need to get my act together, although I am clinging to the idea that I wasn’t really playing The Circle Undone until March, so there’s hope!

I am enjoying The Innsmouth Conspiracy, and I am looking forward to getting my teeth into The Edge of the Earth when the time comes! But everything has been so much about 40k so far, so I guess I need to just ride that wave!

Obsessed with Tau!

Hey everybody,
I think I am definitely obsessed with the Tau Empire right now – I finished painting up the first unit of Pathfinders last week and have already bought and started work on the second box, thinking I should be able to get them done by the end of January given that it didn’t take all that long at all to get the first batch painted! I mean, I was trying to figure out my colour scheme for some of this time, so I’m hopeful that the second lot will be a bit quicker to get through!

It might seem a little odd to start with Pathfinders, a fast attack choice, as opposed to the basic troops choice, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as they’re quite similar in terms of the areas that need coverage. I really love the Pathfinders kit, I have to say. The addition of the upgrade sprue is really just gravy, but when I was building these guys, it really struck me how much stuff they come with. I mean, they have all three types of tactical drone, plus the three specialist drones (you can only build two plus the big lad). They have so many weapons options, it really is quite wonderful.

I think for February’s challenge I’ll move on to Fire Warriors, anyway, and see whether I am able to get them painted just as quickly! I have the Start Collecting box, so I think the first HQ I’ll do will be the Ethereal from there, though I do plan to get myself a Commander as soon as I can, as that should be a great project to paint up.

In rather exciting news, I’ve recently been promoted in work, so I would like to get myself something to celebrate, and have my eyes on the Riptide. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but this is for a couple of months down the line, when I’ve had my first wages post-promotion and all, so hopefully I won’t be adding too much to the pile of shame! The Riptide is a lovely model, though – I am still kicking myself over selling off my Tau, but in particular I miss the Riptide, as it was a really beautiful model. I think it also has the bonus of being a really nice centrepiece type of model but it isn’t as obnoxious as, say, a Stormsurge. Though I do want one of those as well!

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, here!

Painting Tau

Hey everybody,
A while ago, when talking about my Tau army plans, I mentioned researching the “proper” painting guides and whatnot for Tau miniatures, so today I thought I’d share the fruits of these labours! In some ways, this is a bit of a companion piece to a post I wrote last time I was collecting Tau, where I looked at all the different support systems that are represented by bits in the plastic kits. Of course, the correct way to paint your miniatures is “however you want them to look”, but being a huge lore nerd, I do often like to paint my stuff correctly in terms of the established lore. If you’re like me, then you might find this useful!

First of all, Tau are divided into Septs, in the same way Space Marines are divided into Chapters. Unlike Space Marines, however, Tau Sept colours are limited to the markings, not the overall armour colour. The armour, instead, is meant to be painted as camouflage, to help the warriors blend in to their battlefield surroundings. The classic Tau scheme of ochre is a generic desert camo, and the Tau Sept colour is white. Vior’la markings are red, but the armour is mostly shown as white in the promotional stuff from GW, I presume as a kind of snow camo. In theory, you could paint Vior’la in the ochre scheme, with red Sept markings, and that’s fine – the Vior’la are fighting in the desert! I’ve only really come across it with my Sa’cea Sept, but the lore suggests that different Septs are more proficient on certain battlefields – Sa’cea specialising in urban warfare, so their armour is largely shown as that blue-grey colour. Sa’cea Sept markings are orange, though, which always makes me smile because surely they’d be a dead giveaway in an actual war setting?

This brings me on to the next point, though. Whereas mostly we’re taught that basing should complement the miniature, and allow it to stand out to some degree, with Tau you almost want the miniatures to blend into the basing – something I’ve only seen rarely, but it does look fantastic when you see it done well. As if the miniature is somehow rising up from the base, or something.

Moving away from painting for a second, we need to talk about Castes. The Tau civilisation is a caste-based system, with the Tau people split into five. The Earth Caste is the engineers, the Air Caste is the air force, the Water Caste is the diplomats, and the Fire Caste is the infantry. The Ethereal Caste is a breed apart, and these mysterious beings form the ruling elite of Tau society.

For the tabletop game, Fire Caste is really the only one that matters, although Ethereal miniatures do exist (and of course, Air Caste is represented by fliers and in Aeronautica Imperialis). Let’s look at the ranking system:

Cadet: Shas’saal
Line trooper: Shas’la
Sergeant/veteran: Shas’ui
Elite bodyguard: Shas’vre
Field Commander: Shas’el
General: Shas’o

This structure is somewhat mirrored across the other castes, with different prefixes for each (Por’ for Water Caste, Kor’ for Air Caste, Fio’ for Earth Caste, and Aun’ for Ethereal Caste).


Why is all of this important? Well each rank has a slightly different paint scheme to consider! A single team of, say, Fire Warriors, will have Sept markings that denote they all belong to the same squad. The squad Shas’ui / Sergeant has the Sept colour on both shoulder pad and sensor vane, to mark him out among the rest. Speaking of shoulder pads, the symbol on the pads of Fire Warriors is that of their Caste, and not some kind of chapter badge-analogue.

Shas’ui are the lowest rank permitted to pilot a battlesuit. For a Shas’ui pilot, the Sept colour is used for the sensor vane only; for a Shas’vre pilot, the entire helmet is in the Sept colour. A Shas’el Commander has the helmet in the Sept colour with the sensor vane in the armour colour, and a Shas’O pilot has the Sept colour on the whole helmet, with Sept markings matching the armour colour. So for Vior’la, for example, a Shas’ui has a white helmet with a red vane; a Shas’vre has a red helmet; a Shas’el has a red helmet with white sensor vanes, and a Shas’o has a red helmet with white Sept markings.

For battlesuits, the breadth of markings seems to be quite random. There will be the usual markings that show the suit belongs to a specific Hunter Cadre (the term used for a Tau battle group), and then different suits can have honour markings, or heraldry, etc. It all seems to end up pretty haphazard as to which panels get the Sept colour, though, and some suits get additional colours to help break up the large panels – for instance, Vior’la have white and pale grey on the armour, presumably to help with the camouflage.

I’ve talked a lot about Sept markings so far, but what are these markings? Well, it’s basically a set of lines and pips, the arrangement of which is specific to the squad/cadre that a unit belongs to.  Hunter Cadres are the force organisation of Tau armies, organised into one grand Hunter Contingent under the Shas’o. The force will include Fire Teams, Broadside Support, Pathfinders and others. Stuff like this is always an interesting way to think about how to go about collecting a force, though obviously there’s more than one way to build your army! In the following illustration, you can see the Sept markings that are used for each of these squads, as well:


Ultimately, of course, you can build and paint your army however you like. Your choice of units and colour scheme is only really dictated by you. However, GW have gone to great pains to establish a lore behind these things, and this is something that does in particular interest me, so I do like to keep to that wherever possible. There’s definitely more to be said on this topic, but that’s something for another blog! Hopefully, if you too are a lore nerd, then this post will have been of some help in getting the Tau painted “properly”.

Painting Updates!

Hey everybody,
I feel like 2022 has started out in a really positive way for me and the hobby! I’ve been painting every evening, which always makes me feel better about things as I can see my progress with stuff.

To start with, I’ve been having a lot of fun painting up the unit of Tau Pathfinders. Initially, there were some hurdles to overcome as I was trying to devise my paint scheme for them, working from the old Citadel pdf guide, and even once that was sorted, I was somehow finding it easier to paint models one at a time. Urgh! However, since the weekend I’ve gone for more of a traditional batch paint style, and have gotten them to a decent point so far.

The cloth is drybrushed with Mechanicus Standard Grey and then Dawnstone, only lightly. I’m toying with the idea of then shading with Nuln Oil, but for now have left it as it is. The armour is then painted with Russ Grey – the original mini I painted up then had an all-over layer of Fenrisian Grey, but I’m thinking I may go for an edge highlight of that instead. I’m also going to try and line shade them with Drakenhof Nightshade. The skin is a light drybrush of Mournfang Brown and Squig Orange – a departure from the normal Tau skin tone, which would otherwise have been too close to the armour colour.

For the weapons, I’ve gone for a layer of Dawnstone and then Administratum Grey, then a shade of Drakenhof Nightshade, aiming for a slightly patchy look to simulate camo. This is largely the scheme – there are some metallic areas that I will paint accordingly, and some of the special kit is painted with Sotek Green and highlighted with Temple Guard Blue, but in the main the basic scheme is quite straightforward. The scheme is also replicated across the drones, and I was initially a bit concerned that they might look a little flat, having no highlights, but really that’s kinda the point – I want a sort of plasticky look to them, if you know what I mean?

I’ve bought a Start Collecting set for the army as well, as I thought it would be good to get the Crisis Suits and Fire Warriors for such a good price, as well as a bonus Ethereal. They have recently announced the Combat Patrol box, which switches up Crisis Suits for a Ghostkeel and Stealth Suit team, and includes a Cadre Fireblade as well as Ethereal and Fire Warriors. So that’s very impressive, though the price will be adjusted as well, no doubt! However, I paid £54 for the SC box, and CP boxes are £65.50 at my local shop, so it’s not much of a hike – and I have been thinking about a Ghostkeel recently, more for the model than any kind of desire for a stealth aspect to the force! I really think the Stealth team looks goofy, so I don’t know if I’d want those guys as well. But anyway!

I’ve also been painting some more terrain, which is just wonderful! Back in 2020 I painted up a Ferratonic Incinerator but didn’t make any notes on the scheme, more fool me. Interestingly, though, it is fairly close to my Tau – the actual vats are drybrushed with Russ Grey and Fenrisian Grey, and then Administratum Grey, in a crosswise pattern to try to simulate paint. The walkways are Macragge Blue, which has been heavily drybrushed on, then further drybrushes of Fenrisian Grey and Screaming Skull have been added to lighten it up a little. The support struts are just drybrushed with Administratum Grey. I’m then picking out pipes and associated bits and pieces with metallics, trying not to go too overboard.

I’m painting up a Galvanic Magnavent this time around – it’s one of two that I have built, though neither of them is built according to the instructions! I think I’ve always been a bit like that – as a child with Lego, I would always enjoy more the alternative builds from the back of the box, you know? So I have the current build, and I have this one, which was the first one I had built.

I love this scenery, and I really want to do something fancy with it all. I mean, certainly do something fancy to link up some of the kits that I have! In addition to the big pieces, I’ve got the Haemotrope Reactors and Alchomite Stack stuff that would possibly look fantastic with something to link it all together. I’m not sure what, though, and I’m not sure how, but I think it would be marvellous! I guess we’ll just have to see.

Tau!

Back in 2018, I started a Tau army. It was glorious – but it was really short-lived, now I look back. I don’t know how much I spent on it, but it must have been a lot – I had a bunch of stuff for it, pretty much all built. I had two Riptides, after all! I had fliers, I had troops, I had loads and loads of stuff. But it outgrew me, and I definitely did not keep pace with the painting-to-building ratio, so was playing with a predominantly grey plastic force. I think I painted five units, tops. Looking back, though, I think it was perhaps the colour scheme that hampered me, as I never really sat down and thought it through, only thinking about the very broad strokes (green armour! blue markings!)

I think the Tau project was the first time I really had that sense of being overwhelmed with my hobby. I had thousands of points of 8th edition miniatures, and I found myself forever buying stuff to add to it. I did this with Dark Eldar, but it never felt overwhelming somehow. I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed with Genestealer Cults, but have done something about them. But I decided to sell the Tau army and cut my losses with just those five painted units.

The other factor that was at play last time, and one that I haven’t really thought about before, is that I just wasn’t into them last time. I bought the army because some of the previews on the Community page for their codex sounded exciting, and I was impatiently waiting for the books for Dark Eldar and Necrons (at least, I think I was still waiting for Necrons). The Tau book came out in the early spring, so I jumped with both feet, simply because they had a book and were an army with a vaguely similar playstyle to my other forces at the time: gunline.

So I bought an army, then sold it pretty much 6 months later, if not sooner, and hadn’t really given much thought to it until recently, when I started to read the Dark Coil stuff by Peter Fehevari. A few of those stories involve the Tau, and the way he really delves into the characters and provides much more nuanced looks at personalities, far more beyond the usual “space communist” meme that most people probably know.

It was reading The Greater Evil that really got me, though, and I’ve pretty much been hooked on the idea of the Tau since I finished that story. Not gonna lie, I think I might well re-read it soon, as I was so impressed with the way it unfolds, but that’s for another day. I have decided to start the army over, but I’m going to take it slow this time. I had the Kill Team Chalnath box for my birthday last month, which comes with Pathfinders with the new upgrade sprue, so have been busily working on them since New Year.

I’m painting these up as Sa’cea Sept, following the guide from the old How to Paint Tau Empire pdf from back in the day – the sort of icy blue-grey with orange sept markings. The whole sept markings/colour scheme for Tau is a fairly complicated business, I seem to recall, so I’m sure I’ll have a blog on that soon, with the fruits of my labours on researching that!

I also have asked the local games store if they can still get the Start Collecting box, as that has got a really nice core force (in my opinion!) It used to be one of the best value SC boxes around, as the Crisis Suits were priced so expensive the Fire Warriors and Ethereal were basically a fiver, or something. I’m sure there’ll be a Combat Patrol box coming out as well, but I thought I’d try and grab a Start Collecting if possible, as it would be a cheaper start for me! However, I’m determined that I won’t be going too crazy with this army. As I said in my Hobby Goals 2022 blog the other day, I’m planning to paint up just one unit per month, but taking this idea further, I’m only going to buy stuff as and when I need/want it. Start Collecting box aside, then, I’ve got the Pathfinders and that’s all for this army. If I can get the SC box, then it’ll keep me going until Easter or thereabouts, when I will then look at adding something else (possibly more Fire Warriors!) I think, if I can get to the middle of the month and have finished the current project, I might then start another – I sincerely hope that I could find myself in the sort of position where I can make some fast progress once the colour scheme is nailed down etc!

But for now, I’m keeping it slow and steady!

Of course, I do have something to aim for in mind – I definitely want a Commander, and a Riptide, and a good amount of Fire Warriors. I’m thinking I’ll get another Pathfinders box as well, and make more use of the upgrade sprue etc. Fireblades are always useful too, and some Crisis Suits would probably round things out nicely! Taking it bare-bones, it seems that would come in somewhere around the 1100 points mark, which is quite interesting as I’ve been playing a lot of 1000-point games lately. Definitely something to aim for there!

Basically, I’m not going to buy all of this and end up with it just looming over me before bailing out and selling the army again:

But I would like a Stormsurge at some point!

I think I’m going to keep the monthly retrospective blogs going for 2022 as well, so come back soon and see how I’ve gotten on with these guys!