Genestealer Cult update!

Hey everybody,
We’re getting closer and closer to the time when we’re finally going to see the Genestealer Cult codex drop, so it’s about time I started to think about my own uprising in the name of the four-armed emperor, as I feel like I’ve got these gribblies coming out of my ears right now!

I’ve been a fan of these Cultists for a long time now, and their release in the autumn of 2016 was just a fantastic time to be in the hobby, as we got to see so many classic 40k ideas come into plastic form with these guys. I wouldn’t say that the Cultists necessarily brought about that kind of grimdark renaissance, but it feels a bit like their return has paved the way for more of the mundane side of 40k life to come to the fore, with things like the Necromunda minis and Rogue Trader for Kill Team. It’s a side of the universe that isn’t all about massive Knights or plasma cannons and stuff; instead, it’s the little people with their crappy guns gathering up en masse.

With the new Codex, which I believe current speculation is placing at the end of January for a release, we’re expecting to see a slew of new models, mainly of the Cultists on bikes, but also a couple more HQs such as the gunslinger Primus, and the chap planning his invasion of Warhammer World. I really can’t wait to get my hands on these guys!

My own force has been causing me agonies for a while now, as I had initially planned to have a two-part army consisting of the mining cult and the guardsmen cult, the latter allowing for all manner of tanks.

I’ve since moved away from this idea, instead thinking about fielding them with a detachment of Tyranids, so that they will be fighting alongside the big bugs they worship. I’ve decided to paint the Tyranids that I’m keeping in the same colour as the classic genestealer colourscheme of blue and purple, so I think they’ll fit in alongside them quite nicely.

This summer, I was really quite focused on getting at least some units for the Cult fully painted up, and managed to get a grand total of two units finished. This was partly due to Kill Team, of course, where I initially wanted to play the Cultists, though that didn’t really end well for me! So I managed to get eleven Neophytes finished (one squad of ten, plus an icon bearer), as well as a squad of five Acolytes, and one Purestrain! Hurrah!

The Acolytes in particular were quite pleasing to get done, as they are some very beautiful models with a classic Cultist look to them. However, special mention must go to the Neophytes, perhaps the best-looking troops choice in the entire game right now!

These guys have been haunting me since Deathwatch: Overkill came out, and I started my work on painting up a cult of them back in 2016. They are incredibly detailed for troops, with loads of pouches and straps all over the place, and I found it really heavy-going trying to make a decent stab of it with them – so much so, in fact, that earlier this year I was thinking about trying an alternative scheme to make life easier for myself! But I’m sticking with my now-established Cult of the Bladed Cog, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to crack on and get more of these glorious miniatures painted – I mean, it’s not like I don’t have enough waiting for me in the wings…

This is quite a ridiculous number of Genestealer Cultists, I feel, though by the same token, I suppose it’s pretty average for what basically amounts to a horde army. With the amount of crappy weaponry available to them, Neophytes are possibly best spammed to the max, so it was on this basis that I started to play around with an army list for them at the back end of 2017.

So what have I actually got here? Going off the Index points values, of course, I’ve surprised myself by having well over 1700 points of these guys, so that’s quite impressive! Though most of that comes from the 60 Neophytes that I’m not sure I’ll ever need. But still, it’s nice to have them for that horde feel!

Genestealer Cults list

The list will hopefully come down a bit when we finally get our Codex, anyway, so it was one of my driving reasons for getting this blog published sooner rather than later, as I wanted to put this out here beforehand to see how it compares when the book hits. There are a couple of changes that I’d like to make, for sure, and I think I’d like to get some more Metamorphs but not use quite so many Acolytes, so there is a certain element of flux here. I think I’ll probably be giving this some more thought over the festive period, anyway, as I’ve very much built a list out of everything I have here, rather than thinking about what I actually want out of the army and then building the models to match the list.

And things will no doubt change again when the Codex comes out, and we get those awesome new models to go alongside!

Hobby Progress, week one!

Hey everybody!
It’s the first Sunday of my hobby update progress blog series thing, where I get to show you all what I’ve been up to this week, and how it will help me to get to my December Goals! It’s been a bit of a quiet week in some respects, but even so, grab a cuppa and come see what I’ve been doing!

So we’re going to start with last weekend, and I’ve still been building up a lot of stuff, including an Akhellian Allopex, mainly because it’s such a hilarious kit:

I mean, it’s two guys riding a shark!!

I’ve been wanting to build up a small raiding party of Idoneth Deepkin for a while now, and last month finally decided to go for it. I’ve got the battleforce box for my birthday, so there will be some significant support on its way soon, but I also have some more Thralls and stuff hanging about as well, so I think I’ll only be getting a couple more bits and pieces to add to this army before I think of it as complete!

I’ve been busy trying to cover up the Annihilation Barge, which had been primed with Caliban Green, to match my current Thokt Dynasty colour scheme of greys and blues. It’s not been going too badly, the twin tesla destructor is looking a lot nicer already, and the main barge chassis has been finished, so it’s just going to be a case of finishing the underslung tesla cannon, then sorting out the crew, and this model should be done! I say that with such optimism…

The Chaos Cultists have taken up most of my time so far this week, however, as I try to get some base colours down on them, and sort out the skin tones. I don’t want to go for models that look too pale, as I would prefer my cultists to look quite normal, albeit a little scarred and stuff. I mean, they are quite clearly hitting the gym more than is necessary, so they’re presumably quite hale on the whole!

I definitely want to go for an eclectic look to the clothing for these guys though – a lot of people seem to want to paint them all the same colour, which is fine when you’re thinking about an army, but these guys aren’t really in uniform, but instead look like they’ve just been throwing on a cloak to go out and purge in the name of Chaos. They’re fairly ordinary chaps, so I want to try and get that feel of them being normal folk who have just turned to Chaos out of desperation or whatever. I think they should look fairly decent when they’re done, anyway!

I’ve built up the next batch of Necron Immortals, so I can start painting them soon as well, but another big focus for me has been the Grey Knights project that I mentioned the other day. I’m building them as Purifiers, because I quite like the lore of them being a secretive sect within the Grey Knights, and being so incorruptible and all the rest of it. I’m currently planning to build five, so the other five of the Strike Squad box will be exactly that, a Strike Squad. I have no idea where to take this army just yet, but my eventual plans for it involve something like adding in Deathwatch, Ministorum and maybe Inquisition, to go for a proper Imperial Agents thing. We shall see, though, as I’m still hoping for some awesome Inquisition models to come for Kill Team in 2019! Possibly a pipe-dream, though I’ve talked before how I think GW would be crazy not to tap into that!

So, not a great deal of painting has happened so far this week, but I blame that on the fact that we (a) put the Christmas decorations up, which took quite a bit of time, and (b) we’re looking after the brother-in-law’s cat while they move house, so hobby time needs to be planned around a small furry entity wandering through. She’s mainly transfixed by the leaves out in the back garden though, so it’s not too bad so far.

I’m getting very easily distracted so far, though, and since looking at the Grey Knights last week, I’ve been thinking as well about getting some Chaos Daemons to play against them – quite where I’m going with that, I have no idea, but I’ve drawn up a list of Bloodletters with some additional support units that should be fun to paint, if nothing else! I’ve got some floating about somewhere, I’m sure, anyway…

In the past, I’ve tried to keep my army focus on just a couple of projects, to stop being so distracted with loads of ancillary stuff. However, I do find that having additional stuff that is either not related at all, or else bears a small resemblance to what I’m doing, helps to keep me refreshed in the hobby. It’s no good thinking I need to sit down and paint 40 Immortals before I can do anything else, as I’d just get bored and pack everything away. At least if I can have that palette cleanse of something different, it should help to keep me going overall.

To this end, I’ve been thinking a lot about my various projects in broad terms of their colour. So Grey Knights and Necrons (and to some extent, the Skitarii) are quite similar with silvers and blues, but then something like the  red of the Bloodletters should help to mix up the focus quite a bit. I’ve also got the Chaos Cultists who should be enough of a disparate bunch that it will help to break things up. I think this is why I was thinking so much about doing stuff with the Deathwing project, as the cream and green is again something completely different to help distract me and keep things fresh.

hobby supplies

While we’re on the subject of the Deathwing, I have bought a couple more things lately to keep me suitably distracted, but still related along the same lines there – Ravenwing! I do enjoy picking up the odd kit like this, and Ravenwing are an element that I hadn’t really considered before, but I think they do look exceptionally cool, so I’m excited to have these join the ranks. While everything Space Marine related seems to be quite expensive at the minute, I’m hoping that next weekend’s Chapter Approved will deliver on the promises of sweeping points reductions, and Deathwing/Ravenwing will be a decent combination to have in the army!

I’ve been through a bit of a walk down memory lane since I started looking at the Deathwing stuff once more, and I’ve really re-evaluated my appreciation for the Dark Vengeance box from 7th edition. Not only does it have those wonderful Cultists, but there are so many good-looking, unique models in there that you just can’t get anymore, I’m really glad to have these in my collection now, at any rate. Looking forward to adding more to the Dark Angels army in due course, but that will definitely be a project for 2019…

In other exciting news, I went to Warhammer World again this weekend, for the now-traditional pre-Christmas pilgrimage! I couldn’t really spend a great deal though, so confined myself to picking up the new Delaque models, as well as Inquisitor Coteaz, a model that I’ve been wanting to pick up for a long time simply to paint. Now that I’ve been looking into the Inquisition more, and have some vague plans for the Imperial Agents army, I’ve finally got a reason to pick him up!

The Delaque models are quite wonderful, anyway. I’ve got three built up so far, but they are a wonderful addition and I’m looking forward to getting those sorted for games in the new year! I think I’m going to do a sort of Necromunda retrospective soon, looking at all of the models released across the last twelve months, and hopefully showcase some of my own painted creations! That’ll give me the excuse to actually get painting them, anyway!

In other news, I started reading Crossfire, the first book in the Shira Calpurnia omnibus, Enforcer, and so far it’s really good! I think I’m four chapters in right now, and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s always fun to read about the more mundane, human side of the 40k universe, and I think a lot of my attention has currently been thrown that way lately as far as hobby projects go. The novel’s central protagonist is one of the Adeptus Arbites, the law enforcers of the 40k universe, and the story seems to be following her search for a would-be assassin on the planet of Hydraphur, set against the background of preparations for a religious festival. So not only do we get the Arbites, we also get the priests and officials of the Adeptus Ministorum, and even some Mechanicus in there, too! Like I say, I’m not far into it, around about a third or so, but it’s been really good – and a nice change of pace from all the Iron Warriors who have been cropping up in the books I’ve been reading of late!

I’m reading this as part of a buddy read with fellow blogger wordaholicsanonymous – check out some of his fine work here, and just wait for the reviews!

Open War

Hey everybody,
Following on from last week’s game of 40k, I thought I’d start a bit of an occasional mini-series, looking at the different ways that we can all enjoy the tabletop war game of massed battles in the 41st millennium. I’m only going to write these sorts of blogs when I have actually tried those sorts of games, so there’s no guarantee of when I’ll be pumping them out, though I am fairly experienced with a few by now, so I’m going to start it today and see where I get to! So today’s blog will be looking at the Open War cards, as I’ve used these quite a bit since they came out, and see what they’re all about!

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

So the Open War cards were made available not long after the main Dark Imperium boxed set arrived at the start of 8th edition, with the intent that they will allow players to get games in where there is an element of playing a mission, but without having to go along with one of the more monumental missions that are included in the main rulebook. Nice!

These cards were really popular with pretty much everyone at my local store when they first came out, and I think everybody I know who plays 40k has their own, slightly battered deck of cards – the only reason mine are fairly pristine is that I seem to end up facing somebody who has already brought their own set!

While the name might suggest that these are only for Open Play, they are entirely suitable for Matched Play also, as they only really generate more dynamic missions to play rather than the Eternal War or Maelstrom of War missions that are included within the Matched Play section of the rulebook. Although I pretty much exclusively play within a casual environment, I do always play Matched Play, using lists that are built on points. Which is where using these cards can get quite interesting – more on that in a bit.

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

So, there are five separate decks of cards within the box, and perhaps the most important two are the Objectives and the Deployment cards. The Deployment cards are twelve different battle-maps that show how each player can set up their army, and vary considerably.

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

The twelve Objectives give you a reason for your fight – while it’s entirely legitimate sometimes to just play to kill your opponent, games can be much more interesting if you’re trying to do something else. Many of these Objectives make use of objective markers (I love objective markers, but that’s a subject for another blog), but also include weird ones like Kill the Courier and such. They are a good way to give the battle a point without spending hours beforehand working out a scenario for the game.

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

Twist cards – again, there’s twelve of them – represent weird stuff going on around the armies as they fight. There are effects that can randomly kill off units, there are Night Fighting-style effects, one that interacts with Psykers, etc. If the Objectives give a narrative feel to the battle you’re fighting, the Twists give it even more depth by providing further tactical elements to take advantage of. I know some people don’t like using them, because playing four or five games with Acid Rain in effect can be a bit dull, and so the variant grew up whereby players draw three cards from each of the Objective, Deployment and Twist decks, then each player getting to decide which one they really don’t want to use. I’m not a huge fan of this, as I’d rather just go ahead and stick with what I’ve drawn.

There is one Twist card in particular that I want to mention, Meeting Battle, which divides your army into contingents that come on separately. I had my first game with my Tau army using this Twist, and it was incredibly useful as it allowed me to get used to small numbers of units on a round-by-round basis. Very handy to use when trying something new out.

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

Finally, there are the Ruse and Sudden Death cards, totalling six cards in each deck. These cards are used specifically when you’re building an army using Power Level rather than Points, although there’s no reason at all why you can’t use them if you’re using Points to work out your army level, as you should be able to fairly quickly work out the Power Level anyway. (I tend to always do that for my armies, just in case it’s needed – you can usually see this when I write blogs like this one, that talk about my army lists).

Warhammer 40k Open War cards

Ruse cards are drawn if your army’s total Power Level is less than your opponent’s, as a means of giving you a bit of an edge if you need it. Sudden Death cards are drawn if your army’s total Power Level is half or less than your opponent’s, as an additional help towards victory in the face of such odds. So you might get the Ruse card ‘Inspiring Speech’, which allows your army to automatically pass Morale checks, which will be handy because you can’t afford for your smaller army to be running off due to Morale. But you may also get the Sudden Death card ‘Kill Order’, which you can play if you kill an enemy Character, Vehicle or Monster with the highest Wounds characteristic of any enemy model on the battlefield – when you do, you automatically win the game!

I can’t think that you would ever actually want to take an army knowingly so under-powered, but it does lend itself to some incredibly thematic and narrative games!

And I think that’s where these cards belong really. It would be remiss to assume that these cards are only to be used in Open Play, because they do have a lot of value if you’re playing Matched Play games as well – you can totally spend days fine-tooling a list that is worked out to the granular level that the Points system allows, but then do something funky with these cards anyway. The way they allow you to create a mission on the fly, even if you’re using just the Deployment and Objective cards, is really very useful, especially if you’re having just pick-up games at the local shop.

Of course, they are somewhat dependent on having an army with its Power Level worked out, as even Objectives like ‘Glory Seeker’ need the players to know how many Points of models they’ve killed (I remember winning a game with Necrons due to this, even though I had actually been wiped out). I think this factor has led to a lot of people potentially discounting the cards, and it was heavily pushed at the beginning of 8th edition as a new way to build armies, but I can definitely recommend any fan of 40k picking up these cards if they haven’t done so already!

The Grey Knights, and more!

Hey everybody!
It’s been an interesting couple of days for me, as I’ve been trying to implement my plans to get stuff painted – so far, so good, but I have been noticing the fact that I’m actually feeling in the mood to try different things all the time, and I’m finding it difficult to stay focused. It’s always the trouble, I guess, when trying to do something like this, as you risk not being productive because you’re instead in the mood for something else.

For me, right now that something else is Grey Knights!

I’ve talked about my Deathwatch plans here not too long ago, of course, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that army and maybe making some addition to it, trying to incorporate the more weird and wonderful elements of the Imperium. Something that always attracts me to 40k is the gothic grimdark look of it all, and the smaller factions of the Imperium such as the Adeptus Ministorum and the Inquisition really pull me in for their weird and wonderful aesthetic. We’re probably another year away from getting anything associated with the Adepta Sororitas, which I would imagine to include all manner of Priests and other wonderful bits, but the 40k-adjacent stuff like Blackstone Fortress has provided us already with some of the more obscure stuff, with the promise of more to come, and I love it! But today, after about a week of turning it over in my mind, I went and bought the Codex and a Strike Squad.

I’d originally bought a Purifier Squad in 2016, but only got as far as this bad boy before selling it off as another abandoned project (though I did use the swords for some Alpha Legion Chosen back when I was building an army of those sneaky chaps). I had some serious painting issues in 2016, as I kept going wider and wider with my projects, and ended up selling off a whole load of things I’d partially finished or finished entirely. It wasn’t really until I wrote that blog about the Inquisition the other week that I began to think about doing anything remotely linked to Chapter 666.

I’ve played against Grey Knights in Kill Team, and it was shocking (though I was playing as Genestealer Cults, so there is that…) I’m definitely looking forward to making up a small detachment of daemon-hunters to add to my xenos-hunting Deathwatch, anyway!

Mention of Genestealer Cults brings me on to today’s preview of the new Vigilus Defiant campaign book over on the Community site. The book is bringing out some specialist detachments for armies in all three branches of play, and it sounds amazing. Rather than having the crazy special rules of 7th edition, or merely having points attached to them like Age of Sigmar, detachments in 8th edition are bought using Command Points, and merely unlock further Stratagems, Relics and Warlord Traits that you can give to your units within that specialist detachment. It’s a bit early to say, for sure, but it sounds like it should be a really nice addition to the game and, so long as they don’t use this as an excuse to drive sales of miniatures that aren’t doing so well at retail, or try to balance the meta by bringing out more and more insane detachments, I think it should be good.

Giving a select few units access to some cool new stuff sounds like a fun idea, anyway, and from the look of the preview article, it sounds like they’re definitely aiming for theme more than anything else. Of course, that can always go one of two ways, so I suppose it will just be a case of waiting to see how all of this pans out…

That’s not all on the Community site today though – we also got a pdf with Kill Team rules for the miniatures within Blackstone Fortress, which is really nice! While there have been no firm promises to provide Blackstone Fortress rules for the Kill Team Rogue Trader stuff, it’s still good to see the level of crossover within these games, and I like the fact they’re available for free.

While the explorers all have specific armies they slot into (mainly Imperium ones, though obviously Tau and Eldar feature), the adversaries all slot into their own Servants of the Abyss faction, and I’m definitely going to be looking at building a list with these guys soon enough!! I’m thinking a Rogue Psyker, some Negavolt Cultists, maybe a Black Legionnaire, and a few Traitor Guard to round it out to 100 points. Should be interesting – I’ve played against psykers in Kill Team of course, but the psychic phase in general is one that I tend to avoid!

Finally, I started to read the Enforcer omnibus the other day – so far, it’s been excellent, so I hope that the quality continues! I’m probably only going to read the first book in the trilogy for now, as I’m also itching to get back to the Horus Heresy, but had been reading far too much about the Iron Warriors lately, so felt the need for a palette cleanse before I get back to it with Angel Exterminatus!

Look out for my review soon, anyway, along with progress with the Grey Knights!

The Horus Heresy

Hey everybody!
It’s Game Day here at, as I try to re-establish the old favourite series of blogs for the month of December. Today, I’m sticking within the now-established theme of being obsessed with Warhammer 40k, and taking a look at possibly the most expensive two-player game I’ve ever bought – it’s The Horus Heresy, from Fantasy Flight Games!

This massive box was originally suggested to me by my erstwhile gaming buddy Tony, who was I think intrigued by the lore of the thing, and suggested we give it a go. Well, give it a go, we did, back in 2013, and what an incredible gaming experience it was! I mean that insofar as it was quite the juggernaut of the board game, coming in that huge coffin-box full of cards and miniatures, and of course the 3D game board!

I honestly don’t remember a lot of the intricacies of the rules from more than five years ago, and I think the fact we only ever played it once is probably quite telling there. Notably, of course, this game stems from the time before I actually started to build and paint (and play) the GW miniatures, so my exposure to this sort of thing came exclusively in card- and board-game formats like this. The video above does a fairly decent job of explaining the rules, which include card-based combat in the same manner as Mansions of Madness, something I do quite enjoy from a game.

I think the main problem with getting this to the table more is the sheer size of the game, though. It took me almost an hour to set up before the game (not an uncommon occurrence, as you can see from fellow blogger Roemer’s Workshop, when he took a look at the game!) and pretty much an entire weekend to get the rules straight in my mind. I must say, though, once we got going, I seem to recall it was pretty straightforward to play the actual game. While being no strangers to card-based combat games like this, I think there is still a strange element to playing this sort of game, as we probably just prefer to use dice!

FFG Horus Heresy

Fantasy Flight always make wonderful games, of course, and while the miniature quality is of course nowhere near that of Citadel miniatures, they are nevertheless decent enough for gaming pieces. The Primarchs themselves are cardboard stand-ups, however, which is slightly disappointing, though they do use some classic art, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing! Returning to Roemer’s Workshop, you can get a better idea of the game and its components in his follow-up blog, here.

As a board game telling the story of the Siege of Terra, I think the game does a really good job of keeping on-theme while still allowing for the game to actually play itself – you’ll never be doomed to eternal defeat if you play Horus, but you’ll certainly get the sense of what the story is all about. In my game with Tony, I was playing the Loyalist side, and actually lost due to a Spaceport victory (though Horus was on the brink of death when that happened, I’d like to mention!) so it is definitely possible.

FFG have, of course, stopped producing Games Workshop games, so this is no longer available. GW have themselves started making their own board games set during the Horus Heresy, although have not yet made an attempt to capture the iconic events such as the Siege. Maybe when the novel series reaches this point, they might? I recently sold my copy on ebay, as it had been so long since I played it, I just couldn’t ever see this game coming back to the table. That isn’t to say it’s a bad game, at all, it’s just a very particular type of game, and I think it somehow belongs to the older Fantasy Flight style of game, when they made things that were pretty heavy-going and gamer-centric, rather than being the more accessible sort of thing they produce these days. But that’s probably the subject for another blog!

Court of the Archon

So, I’ve finally finished up the Court of the Archon for my Dark Eldar/Drukhari army, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they all look together on the tabletop now!

We have the full Court here: from left to right, we have the Lhamaean, the Sslyth, the Archon himself, the Ur-ghul, and the Medusae. I’ll go into each of these in a little while.
While I had included a Lhamaean in my army pretty much from its inception, I hadn’t really thought about including the rest of the Court, principally because they look just so damn weird! But, as time has gone on, I’ve seen the value in having so many ablative wounds for the Archon, and the weirdness can also be really fun, so I was happy to pop the whole lot in there. 
Some (recent) history
The Court of the Archon is something that, from what I can tell, has been around forever. A mercenary band of bodyguards for the big cheese, I do enjoy the idea that they are assembled by the Archon who is too paranoid to trust his regular Kabalite Warriors to guard him during a battle. Slaves and pets, these retainers are so broken by the Archon’s will that they would rather die a hundred times over than see their master fall – it’s so very, very Dark Eldar, don’t you think?

Back in 7th edition, each Court model could be taken in the HQ slot, though for each Archon in the detachment, up to one Court would not take up a slot in the Force Org Chart. While that in itself is pretty good, as they were fairly cheap HQs to take if you felt the need for some within your list, a Court of the Archon was actually made up of between 1 and 12 of the models in any combination! For 300 points, you could take 12 Sslyth, if you felt the need! What’s more, they could take a Raider as a dedicated transport, which allowed for the unholy combination of 2 Archons and 8 Sslyth transported inside the Raider, or the Sslyth Party Bus as it became known… 
Looking further back to 5th/6th edition, this is a significant improvement, where you had to take at least one of each model in the retinue (though if you included Sslyths there, hits against the unit were resolved using his Toughness rather than the other models. Looking at it based on this, the 7th edition Codex added so much more flexibility to the unit (though, the 7th edition Codex was generally quite flexible anyway – shame it was outclassed so quickly, because there was actually a great deal to enjoy in that book, and I will always have a soft spot for it!)
The Index changed their slot to Elite, and limited us so that we could only take a Court of four models for each Archon without using a slot. Now, in the new 8th edition Codex, we’re still limited to four models for matched play, and they can only be taken if you also include an Archon in your detachment. There is still some flexibility in that you can take, for example, four Medusae along with the Archon (although the rule of three would technically prevent that, but anyway). 
The 8th edition Codex is a bit weird in how prescriptive it is, though – but that’s the subject for another blog…
So what do these models do?
In the main, Court of the Archon models are melee units that are almost designed to defend your Archon in a defensive cordon, preventing enemy units from targeting him in the shooting phase, and from charging him in the fight phase. The Sslyth are perhaps the most valued for being Strength and Toughness 5, whereas the others are all Toughness 3 so tend to fold easily, especially against dedicated melee fighters. Sslyth are also notable for being able to take shardcarbines, a fairly decent yet overlooked poison weapon that can only otherwise be taken by Scourges. Sadly, the Sslyth lost a wound between the Index and the Codex.
Ur-ghul are truly hideous creatures of nightmare, whose brutal ferocity knows no bounds within the lore. Within the game, this translates to a flurry of attacks whenever the model charges – six attacks on the charge is fairly good for a 15 point model, but Strength 4 means he’s not going to be particularly standing-out. But I do feel the Ur-ghul embodies what the Court is all about – distraction units to draw the attention away from the Archon they’re guarding. 
Lhamaeans are the mistresses of poison, and lore-wise, an Archon will always seek to have such a creature close at hand to distill the finest venoms for his weaponry. The poisonous Shaimeshi blade carries a toxin so deadly it can cause the brain to swell until it bursts from the skull, or the skin of a victim to begin eating itself – “even a kiss blown upon the wind by a Lhamaean can kill in seconds”. And the model really embodies that air of deadly, sinister effectiveness, the way she’s holding the blade in a reverse-grip as she stalks slowly towards her prey… In game, we’ve got a fairly-decent melee unit that is more often than not killed before she can do anything. At least, in my experience! I’ve taken her a few times now, and when I remember to use her, she just seems to whiff. On paper, adding 2 to wound rolls and dealing out additional mortal wounds on 6+ should be really good, especially with all the myriad other buffs that can affect her such as Power from Pain and the Archon’s aura of re-rolling hits of 1 (or all failed hits if she’s even closer to the boss). For me, however, I’ve never managed to get that perfect storm running. Interestingly, the Lhamaean has lost her splinter pistol in the transition from Index to Codex.
Finally, we have the Medusae, a weird emotional parasite native to the webway that Archons find particularly useful, as their strange powers of storing up extreme emotions during a battle allow their masters to later re-live the torments and agonies suffered by their foes. Basically a jellyfish-like collection of brains and spinal cord, the Medusae is kind of hilarious when you think that it is this weird brain-like creature that has taken over the body of another. The second Court model that has a ranged weapon, the Medusae can open its host’s visor to unleash “a wave of raw anguish, plunging (the enemy) into a coma from which there is no recovery”. Formerly an Assault 1 flamer, it is now a much better Assault 4 attack with 1″ extra range compared with an actual flamer in 8th edition, though notably is not affected by the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose’s Obsession.
They are definitely fun models, and I think aside from the Sslyth, which is only taken for his bodyguard ability, none of these are taken in a competitive environment. But the Court as a whole is a unit dripping with theme, and I am really chuffed to have finally gotten all of them painted up and ready for action. In their first outing, they managed to keep my Archon alive, so what more do I want?!

Drukhari tactical thoughts

Hey everybody!
Last week, I finally got to have my first game with the new Drukhari Codex – well, it’s not all that new anymore, I guess! I had tried a very small scale game on the August bank holiday, but this was a 1500-point match with the new Ork Codex, as we were both somewhat getting used to the way these armies play now that they have their own books.

My first thoughts are still that the Drukhari army is difficult to make work now that we’re forced to keep detachments focused in either Kabal, Cult or Coven in order to benefit from the Obsessions. I mean, sure, there is the Raiding Party rule that allows you to take Patrol detachments of each, so you can technically field whatever you want that way, but the HQ and troop requirement there becomes a tax if all you want to do is take some Reavers or some Hellions along with the rest of the force. Don’t get me wrong, it’s thematic as all hell, but I wish there were some kind of way they could implement it where, say, up to three non-Kabal units could be included in a Kabal detachment and not break it for Obsessions (those non-Kabal units just wouldn’t benefit from those Obsessions). I’ve come a long way from my very first thoughts on the book!

I took a Kabal battalion and a Coven battalion, and really fancied taking maybe a squad of Hellions or a squad of Reavers, but didn’t want to do so in an auxiliary slot and lose a command point for it. Like I say, I love the theme they’ve brought out here, but I really dislike how restrictive it can be.

It can also be confusing as all hell, as you try to juggle the Coven-specific or Kabal-specific stratagems among the army. While in one respect it’s really no different from a Space Marines army that has a detachment of Ultramarines and a detachment of White Scars, it goes broader than the Chapter Tactics style of things, as you have to remember what buffs affect what units. At least, I found it quite confusing!

At any rate, this isn’t meant to be a rant about the state of things with the new book! Rather, I wanted to take a look through my current thoughts about the army, and see where I want to take things in 2019… So join me as I take a look through the Codex, and effectively build in real-time a list that may or may not make me re-think my ideas about how the Dark Eldar have been straightjacketed into a specific playstyle for 8th edition! This is going to be a long post; I don’t think I’ve written this much on the Dark Kin since saying goodbye to the Index back in April…

Dark Eldar

I’ve mentioned before how I feel that 8th edition seems to be a lot about the horde style of army, and this is partly due to the way that troops have been brought back to the fore. No longer a tax, troops are actually quite good, and I feel this is nothing but a good thing for myself, as I love the miniatures aspect of this miniatures game. I don’t go in for a lot of hulking behemoths or whatever! But 8th edition is also a lot about the overlapping auras, and I’ve been thinking about both of these aspects as I’ve gone about re-writing my lists for my Dark Eldar army.

Lastly, I think it’s important to look at the Stratagems available to the Dark Eldar when building a list. To some extent this is obvious when writing an army list, but there are a wide variety of Dark Eldar Stratagems that can be very important to the overall game plan, whereas other armies might only want to use a couple of them multiple times.

Building a List
First of all, then, I’ve picked a unit that I think it would be cool to build the list around. This has previously been my starting point when building my Necron army list, as it provides a good basis to get the rest of the army going.

For this list, that unit is the Ravager. Equipped with three disintegrator cannons, bladevanes and a shockprow, the idea behind this is that the Ravager will fire all three cannons in the shooting phase, before charging into melee with its three attacks before falling back and shooting in the next phase. In a 2000 point list, 126 points isn’t that considerable a sink, considering a lot of Dark Eldar units are actually quite cheap, so it isn’t going to break my heart if this unit doesn’t survive very long.

Dark Eldar Incubi

The idea of a Ravager charging into melee got me thinking about that perhaps being able to take Overwatch in order to allow a melee orientated unit also get into the fight. I recently picked up some Incubi, so have been considering these, as a squad of five chaps will make 16 attacks in close combat. Previously, I’d been intending to use some kitbashed Wood Elves for my Incubi, but I’ve decided that I want to use the actual models now, even if they are finecast!

Their weapons look slightly unimpressive on paper, as strength 4 on a close combat specialist feels just average, but the four attacks made by the Klaivex have the potential to deal 3 damage each, if the roll made for them is 6+. They only have the DRUKHARI keyword, so can’t benefit from any of the auras dished out by the Archon, but they do have their own stratagem, Onslaught, which makes each unmodified 6 to hit score two attacks rather than one. So there is potential there, I feel. They do also benefit nicely from Drazhar being nearby, getting +1 to hit within 6″ of him, but for now I am leaving him out of the list. A squad of 5 is 80 points, so again, they will slot into my 2000-point list nicely.

Okay, so I’ve got a Ravager going around the field, being followed by Incubi, but they will obviously need transport to keep up with the assault boat. I’m going to stick them in a Venom – there will no doubt be a lot of these skimmers in the list – but I’m keeping it cheap with only one splinter cannon, and then the stock twin splinter rifle and bladevanes. I think this vehicle will be primarily a transport taxi, and just deliver its payload before zooming off around the battlefield doing whatever is required.

So we’re looking at something around 270 points so far, which is fine. Now for some of the more general stuff. Kabalite Warriors.

I’ve probably said this before, but if I was forced to only ever paint one unit forever, it would be endless Kabalite Warriors. This kit is quite beautiful, and while this is going to sound incredibly arrogant, I’m really pleased with the paint job that I have achieved on my guys so far!

While there are plenty of options available to them with the new Codex, I still like to keep them fairly basic and cheap, as they will die so easily. I wouldn’t say I use them as a screen per se, but I do field Warriors much as a suicide unit if the enemy is getting a bit too close to me. I had a phase where I was putting dark lances in the squad, but when a weapon costs more than three times the points of the person wielding it, you have to think twice!

For my first squad, I’m giving the Sybarite a blast pistol and agoniser, and a phantasm grenade launcher. It’s a fairly standard load-out for me, I think, but I particularly like the grenade launcher for allowing me to use the Torment Grenades Stratagem. I like to kit out my Warriors for weight of fire, and so have included both a splinter cannon and a shredder, with the rest wielding the generic splinter rifles, for a grand total of 95 points. It’s a fairly decent squad size and cost, I think  – any troops choice that ends up below 100 points is alright in my book! Though naturally, you can’t take Warriors without popping them in a Raider, as that is just the absolute requirement of a Dark Eldar force! All of my Raiders are so far equipped with dark lances, bladevanes and splinter racks, and so the transport costs as much as the Warriors within. But that’s alright.

Splinter racks are a new upgrade in the Codex that allow you to score 2 hits instead of 1 when you roll a 6+ to hit with a splinter rifle or pistol from within the Raider. Something that I generally forget about (even though I remember to roll for the splinter cannon separately, I forget why I’m doing it!) it’s a really handy upgrade that will, hopefully, allow some shots to explode – especially when we’re throwing fists full of dice in Rapid Fire range.

I like to use the Fire and Fade stratagem with my Raiders, for a proper Drukhari Drive-By, getting up close for the Rapid Fire, then moving 7″ away afterwards. While Enhanced Aethersails is a useful one for also getting the vehicle into close range, it needs to Advance, and I don’t think I want to put myself at -1 to hit as a result of that, so tend to leave this one alone.

When looking for stuff that will buff the army, it is very difficult due to the subdivisions within the force. Normally, you might expect to find an elite unit that would also grant some sort of aid to the troops units, but there are no <Kabal> elite choices, meaning the only thing outside of Stratagems and Power from Pain that affects Kabalite units is the Archon, who allows re-rolls to hit rolls of 1. Which would be fine, and is a lot better than the Index Archon, who merely allowed nearby units to use his Leadership, but most of the time, units are embarked within transports, so I feel there is something lacking for the army here. However, being a Dark Eldar player means playing around handicaps like this, and so we move on!

I want a couple more mobile squads of Kabalite Warriors, so I’m going to include two more, both of them in Raiders. I think, at some point, I’ll start putting disintegrator cannons on my boats, but for the time being, I’m keeping it all darklight, all the time.

My second Kabalite squad will be built along similar lines to the first, with a splinter cannon for horde control, another shredder, but this time I’m also including a blaster – something else the Codex allows now is for up to two special weapons as well as a heavy weapon – while the Sybarite is going to have just a splinter pistol and agoniser. Mixing it up like this is only four more points than the first squad, so it’s not too bad.

For the third unit, I’m again using a splinter cannon and a shredder, but I’m keeping it cheap and not going fancy with my Sybarite. Doing this brings the cost of the squad down to just 78 points, which is quite useful, and gives a better target for the Raider’s splinter racks.

We need to talk about HQs for a moment, and I’m going quite fancy here, using not only an Archon but also taking his entire Court! The Archon is going to be quite standard, having a splinter pistol and huskblade, but will be kitted out for melee through the use of Warlord Traits, etc. He’s taking a full Court, which is a fascinating collection of units that I feel deserve their own blog, so keep an eye out for that one, coming soon! They’re basically going to be ablative wounds for the Archon, at any rate, and all of them will be riding around in their own command Venom. (I wish that were an actual upgrade you could give to the Venom, but sadly it isn’t…)

So far, the army totals 1059 points, and can be taken entirely within a Kabal detachment. Fantastic!

Now then, this is where I think things may get interesting, as I’m quite torn between sticking with my usual Coven build, or else going down the route of Wych Cults. I don’t have many of the latter models painted up, and I’m not honestly sure of what I’m doing with them. Covens, on the other hand, have long been favourites, and I have a significant number built and ready.

At the start of the year, I wanted to go into the Cult route, and had planned almost a biker army of Reavers – I think I built up a dozen jetbikes, but have so far only started to work on three of them. I’ve also given thought to including masses of Wyches with Hellion/Reaver support.

Wych Cults are definitely an avenue that I want to explore with the army. However, I think I need more experience with the Cults before I can think about them too critically. For the time being, then, I’m going to stick with my Coven delights.

The two Coven Monsters, Talos and Cronos, are both delightful models that I have enjoyed since the Codex supplement gave us the delightful Dark Artisan formation. The Talos has recently gotten quite the reputation at tournament level, and I’m expecting to see something happen to it in this year’s Chapter Approved, but for now at least, I’m happy to keep going with my current build.

I’ve got two Talos now, along with a Cronos, all three of them kitted out to try and be just monstrous. The second Talos I built late last year has a stinger pod and twin liquifier gun, in an attempt to be a bit more anti-horde (each weapon is Assault 2D6), while the haywire blasters on the first Talos still do some pretty decent work, even considering the way haywire changed from 7th to 8th edition. The Cronos is definitely more a support engine, as it allows all DRUKHARI to re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase. I might well go running my Cronos up with the Incubi, although his ability affecting all models in the army makes a good case for using a few more of these bad boys!

I’m taking my Haemonculus in order to make a Spearhead detachment with the three monsters, and also to make use of the Fleshcraft stratagem that gives a monster within 3″ of a Haemonculus D3 lost wounds at the end of the Movement phase. Always handy to heal your monsters, after all. To keep him a little bit safe, I’ve given the Haemonculus his own Venom, to deliver him right where I need him to ensure his Master of Pain ability will buff the Toughness of as many models as possible.

Taking advantage of the fact that I can still include troops in a Spearhead detachment, I’ll also be bringing some Wracks to the party, inside their very own Raider. This time, however, the Raider is equipped with chain-snares rather than splinter racks – bringing the cost down to 87. Well, it’s better than nothing! For the Wracks, I’m giving the Acothyst some fancy stuff: an electrocorrosive whip and a stinger pistol. We’ve also got an ossefactor in there, but I’ve foregone the second special weapon in order to keep the points down.

However, the Coven portion of the list so far only totals 625 points, so I could definitely fit some more Wracks in there! I think I’ll take my favourite sniper-Acothyst this time, with the Hexrifle and Scissorhand, though this time I may well add in a liquifier gun and keep everybody else just basic with tools. Another ten-man squad will therefore add 114 points to the detachment, but these are at least on foot.

In total, then, we’re looking at an army that totals 1798 points up to this stage, giving me just 202 points left to play with. It’s time, then, to start looking at organising the Kabal section into an actual detachment, so I’m naturally looking at a battalion here. I need another HQ, and Drazhar is just too expensive for my purposes, so I’m going to go for a second Archon.

I have actually built up the now-classic conversion, which you can see here, and he costs a grand total of 80 points (the power lance isn’t an option for him to take, in the new Codex, so he’s armed simply with a blast pistol). I’ve been considering putting another Venom into the list for him, and then just spending the left over points on Kabalite Warriors – I could include a five-man squad with another blaster, as well as a Venom with two splinter cannons to bring the total of the army up to 2000 exactly. So I might as well do that, I reckon!

So I’ve got two distinct detachments, and have ended up with an army that is remarkably similar to my 1500 force that I used last week! I still need to paint up some units for it, of course, but in the main, it’s pretty basic stuff! I think there are just six units that I need to actually paint (and, in the case of the Incubi, build), and potentially some of the special weapons within the Kabalite Warriors squads, so with a bit of luck, it shouldn’t be too much work in the new year to get this going.

For the Kabal, I am of course going Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, which increases the range on all of my Assault, Heavy and Rapid Fire weapons by 6″. This has proven to be incredibly useful so far, especially for the Rapid Fire stuff, though there were several instances where getting the extra range was really good for my shredders as well. My Warlord is the Archon with the Huskblade, and rather than giving him the Deathly Perfectionist trait, I’ve chosen to give him Soul Thirst, to get +1 Attack on the charge, and allowing him to regain 1 lost wound when he slays an enemy model in combat. I did say he was going to be built for combat! He’s also getting the relic, replacing his splinter pistol with the Parasite’s Kiss, which gives it an extra shot, -2AP and an extra point of damage, as well as adding 2 to the wound rolls for it. If that wasn’t enough, he can also regain 1 lost wound when he kills an enemy model with the weapon. Nice!

For the Covens, I’m going Coven of Twelve, which improves the AP of all melee weapons by 1. There are 27 melee weapons spread among my Coven, with the electrocorrosive whip and macro scalpels being the worst at -2AP, so they’re now -3AP, but all of my Wracks now have -1AP on their haemonculus tools, and my Wracks will be making 42 attacks in total! That’s before we factor in the monsters and the Haemonculus, not forgetting the Venom and Raider are both classed as Coven of Twelve units! Delicious!

Dark Eldar

For all this, however, the army at its heart is, I feel, still a very Dark Eldar army. In the new year, I want to work on writing a Wych Cult list that will be able to slot in, directly replacing the Coven portion of this list, but I feel there will be a lot of theory-crafting needed before I can comfortably work on that. Aside from the Reavers, I’ve only used Cult units once, and I seem to remember the Hellions as being the most interesting part of that. I’ve got 739 points to play with, give or take, so it will be interesting to see what I can do on that side of the fence!

Anyway, this blog has run a little too long, I feel – hopefully it’s been at least mildly entertaining and/or informative! I still think it’s pretty hilarious to think that I spent so much time complaining about how restrictive list-building is with the new Codex, then proceeded to build a list that was really quite straightforward to produce, as well as remarkably similar to the sorts of lists I’ve been building all year since the book landed. Obviously I’ve become inured to the suffering of having to force my army into these constraints!