Fear to Tread

Time to return to the Heresy!! #HorusHeresy #BloodAngels #Warhammer40k #nowReading

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This is a Horus Heresy novel that I’ve had on my shelf for a very long time now, back from when I had just gotten into the series and was excited to find out more about it. I honestly don’t know why, but the Blood Angels kinda fascinate me as a space marine chapter – I don’t own an army of them, and have no intention of doing so, but I’m still weirdly drawn to them. Space Marine Legions all seem to have their counterparts between loyalist and traitor, but the Blood Angels, while they’re more commonly compared with the World Eaters for their assault-focus and brutal efficiency in close combat, are also similar in so many ways to the Emperor’s Children in their artistry. I suppose they don’t pursue things to absolute perfection, but there is a strong link between the two… and I do rather enjoy the Emperor’s Children in a lot of ways!

At any rate, Fear to Tread is the 21st novel in the Horus Heresy series, and is the first to truly follow the Blood Angels to the exclusion of all other Legions. While Sanguinius did pop up all the way back in Horus Rising, he’s here very much at the centre of things. We follow the Blood Angels as they battle the weird alien menace known as the Nephilim, before Horus then sends the legion to the Signus system with the report that there have been Nephilim sighted there. Horus has also learnt of Sanguinius’ dark secret, that of the Red Thirst, and hints there may be the answer to that problem held on the planet Signus Prime.

The Blood Angels travel there, but instead find that the system has been truly taken over by the forces of Chaos: there are droves of daemonettes along with bloodletters under the leadership of the bloodthirster, Ka’Bandha. The Blood Angels are joined on this expedition by a small coterie of Word Bearers sent by Horus, and another small band of Space Wolves sent directly from Malcador the Sigillite. As it turns out, Malcador has sent the Wolves out to all Legions, as he suspects that more may have turned from the Emperor in the manner of Horus and Magnus.

The war does not go well, as Sanguinius is seemingly defeated in single combat by the bloodthirster, prompting a shared madness of the Red Thirst to break out among his sons. The fighting is particularly brutal, especially among Amit and the Fifth Company (later the Flesh Tearers), who actually kill the Space Wolves while in the grip of this madness. Sanguinius is revived when a band of former librarians goes against the Edict of Nikea to bring him back psychically, and he manages to defeat the daemons with the help of the apothecary Meros, who sacrifices himself to a Chaos ragefire that had been intended to consume Sanguinius himself.

Fear to Tread

While there is nothing inherently bad about this book, I found it incredibly hard-going, and took over a month to wade my way through. I’ve noticed this with the last Blood Angels novel to pass under my nose, Devastation of Baal, which makes me wonder if it’s something about this particular chapter that I just can’t seem to gel with! I find it odd, though, considering – as I mentioned earlier – I do actually like the idea of and the lore behind the Blood Angels…

There are quite a few nods to other Horus Heresy novels, particularly the opening trilogy (the lone survivor from the planet Murder, brother Targa, was originally part of the ragefire that created the Red Angel, a daemon later presented to Horus by Erebus). Obviously, the use of the Space Wolves as the Emperor’s executioners also harkens back to A Thousand Sons, and the novel ends with Sanguinius arriving at Ultramar, which leads into the plans of Guilliman to set Sanguinius up as the head of the Imperium Secundus. It’s handy reading the novels in publication order, I feel, as things like this are a nice way of tying up the narrative.

Ultimately, I feel that not a lot happened in this book, and that it was essentially filler for what is already becoming a massive series. The whole point of the book is to test the Blood Angels, and attempt to bring the legion over to Chaos. Horus decides to eliminate Sanguinius lest his brother replace him as Warmaster, but none of that works. Yet the novel plods its way across more than 500 pages to do so. A lot of it just felt like padding, somehow, and I think it could have done with a trim.

I also haven’t really been convinced by Horus’ turn from the light of the Emperor in a lot of the novels where he directly appears, but here especially, his readiness to kill his brother seems to come out of nowhere. I think this is made especially glaring in that Horus and Sanguinius appear fighting side-by-side in the prologue; they have a very close relationship anyway, but not enough has been made of the break on Horus’ side, it just seems to be too much of a jolt. I know Horus is meant to be the bad guy, but sometimes (like here) he just comes across as evil for the sake of it.

It was good to have the Blood Angels and Sanguinius centre stage, but I do feel that a lot of the middle novels of the series tend to draw things out a bit too much.

Enter the clowns!

Harlequins

I mentioned last year that I’d built some Harlequins, and have finally decided to do something with them, thanks in part to the announcement that they’ll soon be getting a Codex! I’ve had some kits hanging about for an age, as I’d initially thought about adding in some of these chaps to my Dark Eldar force when I was originally building it, but haven’t really done much of anything. Well, until now! So let’s catch up with what I’m up to at the minute…

The idea I’m having is to slip them into the 2000-point list that I set out back in this post, shuffling about some of the Wych Cult portion of the list to accommodate a small Patrol detachment. So I’m getting fewer command points for this build, but I think it might be worth it to start experimenting with the Murder Clowns, and see how they play etc…

I’ve not given a tremendous amount of thought to the actual viability of having these guys join the fray, it’s more about seeing what they can do. The Troupe build is basically from the original six clowns that I built for Shadow War, so hasn’t really been thought of in terms of 8th Edition. I’ve added in a Starweaver for transport, and the good thing about building it that way is you get an additional miniature in the shape of the Voidweaver gunner, so I’ve built him as a separate Troupe Master to avoid having to use one of the regular Players. Finally, I’ve added in a Shadowseer, because I have pretty much never played in the Psychic Phase, and wanted to see what all the fun was about. Adding in a second HQ allowed me to bring the list to 2000 points, exactly, rather than using the leftover points to add more Wyches or else buy a Skyweaver kit. So I need to get myself a Shadowseer, then I can look at actually painting these minis up!

Something that I do like about the Harlequins is the fact they seem to encourage a loud colour scheme, so while I’d started to do muted purples/blues/greens, I’m thinking about making them a lot more, well, loud and vibrant. I’m going to try to resist the pink and orange that popped in my head earlier this weekend, for now anyway…

I’m probably going to revert back to my initial 2000 point Drukhari build once the Harlequin codex comes out, and I can think about a bigger build (or leaving them off, altogether), so it doesn’t replace my thoughts there…

Building a Tau army: Support Systems

So, one of the things I wanted to achieve with this post was to share the fruits of my labours in researching what all of the various bits and bobs are that you find in the various Tau kits. Having spent many a long and drawn-out hour trying to discover what part represents a certain support system, for example, I thought I’d try to pull all of that together here, both for my own future reference, and also in the hope that it might help any budding Commander out there!

Speaking of which, let’s start with the Commander kit, which has all manner of bits that you can use to kit out not only the warlord for your army, but also any Crisis Suits that you want to field, and even some of the bigger stuff like Ghostkeels and Broadsides. It’s definitely worth getting hold of at least one Commander, not least because he’s actually a really awesome model, but because of this cross-pollenation that you can have.

Tau support systems 1

As far as the support systems go, however, we get three of them in this kit, along with an older piece that is still around, just no longer classed as a support system. From left to right, then, we’ve got the Shield Generator, the Target Lock, the Velocity Tracker, and Positional Relay. That last is now a 2CP stratagem. These bits are numbered 66, 48, 50 & 51, and 49.

The Crisis Suit set is another of these amazing bits box kits that has almost everything you could want to kit out all manner of battlesuits with cool stuff. The price is, of course, a bit silly, but fortunately Tau have one of the most useful Start Collecting boxes in so far as, for an extra fiver, you get a 10-man troop choice, and an HQ choice. Why Crisis Suits are on sale for £45 when they’re also in the Start Collecting box for £50 is beyond me, but there we go! As there are three of them in the box, you get almost everything in triplicate, though the support systems are more of a general mix. You do get three Shield Generators, and two Target Locks (part 74 on the sprue), along with this small array of other interesting stuff:

Tau support systems 2

From left to right again, we have a Counterfire Defence System, an Early Warning Override, and a Multi Tracker. The Multi Tracker is a single part (73), whereas the other two are made up of the stalk-piece, and the face-piece. There are two stalks (part 75), and the pieces to make one Early Warning Override (part 76), one Counterfire Defence System (part 77), or one Velocity Tracker (part 78, not pictured).

We’ve now seen six of the eight support systems, so where are the other two?

The Ghostkeel is up next, which has a couple more bits and bobs that are useful for keeping hold of! (Of course, you should never actually get rid of any bits once you’ve built a kit, but that’s a whole other story…)

In addition to having parts for an Early Warning Override (parts 72 & 73 on the sprue), the Ghostkeel is the only miniature in the plastic Tau range that has the Drone Controller bit, which is the little bulb-and-antenna you can see on its left arm in the picture above.

Which leaves us with the final piece of support system tech, the Advanced Targeting System. Well, that doesn’t actually have a bit for it in the range, and while I’ve seen some people use leftover XV8 heads with an antenna glued on, others will argue that it’s more software than hardware anyway, so would be hardwired into the suit itself. For those of us who like to go for a little more modelling fun, though, I suppose you could use anything with antennae stuck onto it to make it look the part!

So there you have it, the list of Tau Support Systems that are on offer from the plastic range. It’s worth pointing out that you can also get these bits in the Broadside and Riptide kits, and while I don’t have one personally, I think the Stormsurge also has a couple of things in there.

My first game with Tau

Hey everybody!
It’s time once more for a games day blog! Well, it has been some time. I wanted to talk about my experiences with playing Tau for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and my thoughts on both building the models and building my army. So I’m going to ramble for a bit about Tau – sit back, and enjoy!

My 1000-point list was, I think you’ll agree, slightly odd-looking. Well, that’s because I don’t know what I’m doing with Tau, and the list was built very much along the lines of, let’s throw some stuff together and see what happens. I was playing with Bork’an Sept rules, adding 6 extra inches to rapid fire and heavy weapons, with the Seeker of Perfection warlord trait, which adds 1 to the wound roll for each hit of 6+. Finally, I was using the Puretide Engram Neurochip relic to gain a command point on a d6 roll of 6 when an opponent uses a stratagem. Nice!

I have to be honest, though – I’m not sure how I did in that game! I think I managed to get the hang of certain things, and I could definitely see how the army wants to play after a couple of rounds, but I don’t really know if I won or lost. I was playing my usual opponent Robin, though this time he was playing Inquisition rather than Orks, which was a turn up for the books!

We played Burn & Pillage from the Open War cards, and the Twist we drew was Double or Nothing, drawing two extra cards: Acid Rain (yay) and Meeting Battle, which divides the armies into three (each), and one of these chunks is brought on each round. That was useful as it allowed me to bring on my army in small doses and get used to it that way.

The game went fairly okay, I think. I’d set up in the middle, and brought on the Pathfinders and Pirhana first. The Pirhana was quite useful as a melee tool, something I didn’t think I’d do with Tau. The Pathfinders probably could have been used better, but I suppose I was just getting used to them! I then brought on the Breachers, the Ethereal and the Devilfish (which had the Strike Team inside – not the Breachers! Whoops!) For the third deployment, I brought on my Commander and the Crisis Suits.

I think my main take-away from the game was that Marker Drones are very useful, but the Pathfinders are a much cheaper source of Markerlights, so I should use them to light up the field each turn, rather than worrying about saving their pulse carbine shots instead. I couldn’t quite get my head round to the idea that the bodies should be doing something useful, while the drones should be left to paint targets on everything. That clearly isn’t the way to go!

I like the idea of a gun-line, but I was a bit all over the place during this game due to the nature of the Open War cards. I think for my next game with them, I’d like to deploy as an actual gunline, and use some Fireblade support to get an extra shot off. Indeed, I want to look heavily into supporting the idea of a Tau gunline force, and have been tinkering a great deal with my list over the last few weeks.

The Coldstar Commander is something of an all-star, really, though I feel like I used him badly. The ability to advance 40″ across the field is actually really good, but I wasn’t making nearly as much of it as I should have been. He’s modelled with a Target Lock, as well, so there’s no excuse not to be dashing about and firing that high-output burst cannon all over the place. Definitely one to use again in the future, that!

The Crisis Suits are an iconic part of the army, for me, and I really want them there at the centre of all things. However, I once again did barely anything with them – I think the accompanying drones did more damage than these guys when it came to the battle! I think the fact they were the single most-expensive unit in the army made me a little over-cautious, and I ended up doing very little with them. So I think I need to re-evaluate my options for the future, there!

Overall, though, while people have been saying the codex isn’t as good as that of Necrons or Drukhari, I’m not that familiar yet with the army to feel that it is particularly bad. But I can say that my list was a bit too all over the place for comfort, and I’ve been weighing up a few options for alternative (and bigger) builds for the future. At the minute, then, this is what I’m looking down the barrel of:

I’m currently thinking a lot about playing larger-scale games, as I haven’t really explored anywhere above the 1000-point level in 8th Edition yet. So I’m going to be building towards 2000-points, but wanted to get there slowly. I’ve got most of this list actually built up anyway, and have recently picked up some more Crisis Suits in a second Start Collecting box so that I can really round things out. While I haven’t organised it as such in the above list, I have three detachments within this list, granting me a total 8 command points to use throughout the game – a very small Battalion, a fairly small Outrider, and the real meat of the force contained within the Vanguard, which itself covers more than half the total points.

I like this list because it feels like it puts the battlesuits at the centre of things, rather than the troops. The Pathfinders are there for Markerlights, mainly, though as there is the potential for redundancy here, especially since there are also six Marker Drones in the list, having the pulse carbines will be useful as well. The thought is that the Warriors will form a gunline, with the Fireblades peppered among them alongside the Pulse Accelerator Drones, which will fly off at the start of the battle to aid the pulse rifles of the Fire Warriors.

While I’m on the topic, I really like building Tau armies that use Fireblades as a cheap utility HQ, freeing up another HQ slot for a fancy Commander that can go off and do his own thing.

I freely admit that I may have been seduced into including the Broadside simply because he looks amazing. The heavy rail rifle reminds me of a longer-ranged dark lance, and I so often whiff on the damage rolls and end up getting just one point of damage that I’m invariably wary of such things now. However, the Bork’an Sept Stratagem does allow for a re-roll on random damage like this, so I suppose that will be useful!

The Ghostkeel, so far as I’m concerned, is a bit of a distraction carnifex, and I’m not particularly fussed as to what happens to it. 200 points is an expensive distraction, for sure, but it is a very pretty model, so I’m sure it’ll draw a lot of attention. Keeping the drones around will give any shooting attacks -2 to hit, so it could very possibly just walk (fly?) up the table and threaten virtually anything, firing six shots from the Cyclic Ion Raker from 30 inches away, and the Target Lock will allow for it to keep moving and firing that heavy weapon with no penalty. Add in another two shots from the fusion blasters, and it should take a lot of the heat off the other stuff I’m bringing!

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a pendulum swing for 8th Edition so far, from building armies without a tremendous amount of thought for the CPs, to agonising over how I can get that third Battalion in there for the additional points. I think the Drukhari codex has seen the apex of the CP struggle, and I’m now getting a lot more conservative again – or, I should say, I’m back to building the kind of armies that I want to build, and not adding in an entire Spearhead detachment just because I want to add in a single Broadside. Anyway!

8 command points should be a fine number, especially if I’m sticking with the Puretide Engram Neurochip. There aren’t a tremendous amount of stratagems that I find myself wanting to use, after all. While in my first game, I didn’t use a lot of them because I was concentrating on getting the units to do what they’re supposed to do, I think on the whole there are some fairly underwhelming stratagems contained within the book, which I guess might be where a lot of folks are coming from with thinking it underpowered. There are a small handful of stratagems that I can see myself using, such as Repulsor Impact Field or Uplinked Markerlight, but on the whole I find them really quite situational, and also very specific as to the units they affect.

Maybe having underpowered stratagems is a way of balancing some of the tremendous firepower that the Tau can bring to bear in a battle.

At any rate, those are my rambling thoughts after my first game with the Tau!

Drukhari thoughts…

Hey everybody!
I’m still massively enjoying the new Drukhari codex at the minute, and have been excitedly planning out the list that I want to really concentrate on for the next while. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to go in something of a different direction to my usual builds, thinking it might be good to break out of the established pattern and go for something new. So I thought I’d write up some of my thoughts for you all, along with presenting the list itself! Grab a cuppa, and let’s take a look!

So it’s a 2000-point list that is staying away from the Raiding Force idea of multiple patrol detachments, primarily because, after having given it some thought, I’ve decided against falling into that trap of The New and The Shiny. Sure, it’s nice that we get a really unique and flavourful rule like this, but I think it has an allure that is distracting from the main focus of what this army needs. I don’t believe we need to go for a whole mass of Command Points, as the army is going to work quite well with the basic stuff you get from a couple of Battalions. The list above will still net me ten CPs, only one off the list I presented at the weekend that was trying to go for all of that Raiding Force stuff. I do believe that we need to stick to a much more focused build when assembling a Drukhari army.

But that’s not to say that we can’t mix it up a bit and have some fun…

The Kabalite part of this that makes up the first Battalion is almost unchanged from the weekend’s list, merely juggling the Warriors about a little in order to make better use of having the Raiders now equipped with Splinter Racks. I don’t throw an awful lot of 6s, but I think the sheer weight of fire that the Raiders will be throwing out should allow for at least a couple of exploding dice here… I’m otherwise keeping things as they were, with the Court and Archons in a Venom, all three squads of Kabalites in Raiders, and a Ravager in the back to punch out some (hopefully!) decent firepower.

Dark Eldar Wyches

Where things get different, however, is that I’ve foregone the Coven builds of my usual lists in favour of Wych Cult stuff! I’ve said it before, I’ve not played a lot of Cult stuff to know what I’m doing or, well, anything, really, so this is going to be quite the learning curve. Let’s get down to some particulars.

I’m still taking Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, allowing me to gain those 6 extra inches on my weapons, which will hopefully allow me to keep things at bay while I move my Cult models into position, maybe allowing for some extra time to properly threat-assess the situation. For my Cult, I’m going with Cult of the Cursed Blade, which gives me +1 strength and ensures I only lose one model to failed morale tests. Cursed Blade also have the nice Concealed Booby Traps stratagem that dishes out mortal wounds to charging enemies. It’s a little situational, as it requires the Cursed Blade unit to be in terrain, but it’s so thematic that I just love it! They also have the relic that allows your Succubus to blow up, which is another wonderfully thematic idea!

Now, I’m actually thinking of not using the Alliance of Agony stratagem to dish out an additional Warlord Trait to a Succubus, as much as I do enjoy the Treacherous Deceiver trait. There are a lot of flying Wych Cult units in this list, and so I can see myself wanting to use Eviscerating Fly-by as often as possible; it only costs one CP, but I also think Hyperstimm Backlash is going to be another popular one for me, and so having these Wych Cult units in my force is opening up more doors!

I’m excited to use Hellions in a big way, as I’ve only used them once previously, and I don’t think I really did well with them. In particular, I think the hit and run ability should be something that is pretty much abused for all its worth, falling back to allow the unit tangled up with them to be shot at, then charging back into any survivors. I’ve had some success with Reavers in the past, although again, I think I’m not using them particularly well. For the moment, I’m not bothering with either cluster caltrops or a grav talon, although I have lots of the jetbikes modeled with both. I think I might be tweaking this list for some time once I get playing it, so there’s always more opportunity to add in specific bits. Each of those only costs 3 points, as well, so it’s not going to be exceptionally difficult to fiddle.

I’m most excited to be including Incubi, however! Now, it’s true, these aren’t the official Incubi models, but rather Wildwood Rangers that I’ve barely done any work to make them into Incubi. I’ve still got five more to build, though, so I’m thinking I might do a bit more to incorporate them into the Drukhari feel. At 160 points for ten, they are quite expensive, but then they’re a big blob of elite warriors, so it’s probably to be expected. I’m incorporating them into the Wych Cult side of the army simply because they too are melee-orientated, but as Blades for Hire, it doesn’t really matter where they go, I suppose.

As an aside, I’m also weighing up the option of swapping out the Incubi for Mandrakes – I’ve been giving it some vague thought, and I’m currently planning to convert up some Namarti Thralls once they’re released in a little under two weeks’ time, having not been entirely satisfied with my use of Sylvaneth Tree-Revenants. I think these blind chaps might prove to be very atmospheric, and I’m sure I can paint them to blend in to the rest of my force quite nicely! And both Mandrakes and Incubi weigh in at the same points cost for ten, so it’s easy to swap them around as required!

So there you have it, my current plans for my Dark Eldar / Drukhari army post-Codex. While I have the Kabalite side painted up and ready as it stands, I think I’m still quite a way off having the Wych Cult side ready. I know for sure I still have some “Incubi” to build, and likely some Wyches, too. At least I have a bit of a focus now, however, so I’m hoping that will help me to get moving with painting up some units ready to have some games!

Next week, I’ll be moving back to the Tau, and updating you all with my progress there – stay tuned!

The Drukhari Codex

Hey everybody!
It’s time I shared some ramblings with you all about my first impressions of the new Drukhari Codex that came out this weekend, after taking delivery of it a couple of days early…

*breathing intensifies* #Warhammer40k #Drukhari #DarkEldar #newcodex

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The excitement is still real, I must say!

I’ve talked about some of the initial thoughts I’ve had about the new rules back when the previews were coming out from the community site, but I must say, when confronted with a book full of the blighters, it does make army building somewhat convoluted to try and make the most of it all. There are, of course, three distinct traits within the book, for Kabal, Cult and Coven. There are ten distinct “chapter tactics” on offer, each with their attendant warlord traits and stratagems, and trying to get everything to work the way that you want can be something of a nightmare, to say the least.

One of the goofiest things that the new Codex gives us is the opportunity to gain a ridiculous amount of command points for fielding a ridiculous number of Patrol detachments – 1 HQ, 1 troop choice mandatory. The idea, of course, is to represent a number of different raiding parties joining together to invade realspace and get some slaves, and while part of me likes the idea of having a table full of troops to just spam, I’m not entirely sure it’s the way I want to build my army.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from going with a trio of Patrols in my debut list from the Codex! This build gives me 11 command points, and I’ve been toying with the thought of scrapping it to get a Brigade going on for 12. But the way that the Obsessions work, it’s going to be really difficult to get an interesting and diverse list running. Which is one of the interesting things with this book – it gives us so much choice, but what kind of choice is it, really? If you want to get the benefit of command points to use on the plethora of stratagems (and there are some really interesting ones across four pages of the book), you’re almost forced into using the Raiding Force rule and getting multiple patrols. Which I suppose is fine, if you don’t mind only having a maximum of two elites, fast attack, etc.

I’ve not given it a tremendous amount of thought yet, but I’m currently thinking it might do just as well to run two battalions, one for the kabal and one for the coven, either leaving the cult out of it totally, or perhaps using the outrider detachment for some reavers… Well, anyway!

Obviously, I’m going for Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, as it’s the colour scheme I’ve been using since I started this army last year. The archon I built as Aestra Khromys is now technically illegal, as Archons can no longer take phantasm grenade launchers, but never mind! It’s her I plan to have riding around in a Venom with her Court as part of the Battalion. Obsidian Rose gets to add 6″ range to all Assault, Heavy and Rapid Fire weapons, which is so very handy for Drukhari, who want to keep everybody at range after all!

For the Coven, I’m using Coven of Twelve, who gain +1 AP to all melee weapons. I’ve decided to go with the Alliance of Agony stratagem for a start, and give the Haemonculus from the spearhead detachment the Scarlet Epicurean warlord trait. I kind of want all of my haemonculi in melee, so giving him something that reduces damage dealt to him should be useful. The warlord of the actual army, Aestra up there, gets Deathly Perfectionist, which increases the damage dealt by her weapons. For the relic, well it’s nothing less than the Armour of Misery!

While I said earlier that there are a lot of stratagems in this book, but part of that is due to the amount of distinct flavours of Drukhari you can have. The actual number of stratagems that I feel I will definitely be using is surprisingly low, just 4, all of them costing just 1CP each. Which is another reason for wondering whether I need to straightjacket my build into the Raiding Force in order to gain all the additional points!

I’ve only scratched the surface of this book, it’s really blown me away with how immersive in Dark Eldar lore it goes. I’m not lamenting the loss of Trueborn or Archons with blasters, and will certainly not be delving back into the Index for those datasheets, as I think we have plenty of exciting material to be going along with right here. I’m eagerly awaiting my first game with the new Codex, after which I’m sure I’ll be coming back here with more practical thoughts on how it plays.

For now, though, suffice it to say that I’m super excited at the fact my main army finally has its book!!