September 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
The weather is definitely getting colder, and Autumn is definitely here at last. We’re here at the end of September, and I am quite shocked really at just how quickly this month has gone! I know I say this every month, but it really doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was writing my August retrospective blog! And after a very productive August, things seem to have just dwindled for me now, and I’m languishing a bit in a bit of a hobby … not slump, per se, but I’m certainly a bit all over the place when it comes to what projects I’m working on!

To start with, then, I have finished repainting the original group of 10 wyches from my Drukhari army. Back in 2017, I had painted ten to some level, but it wasn’t great. I also wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted them to look, so it wasn’t exactly what I’d call a good unit, and was probably why I have never really been that keen on the Wych Cult side of the army. Well, after getting ten of them done in August, I’ve got these other ten finished, plus the Succubus. I haven’t yet finished the third group (heck, they’re still bare plastic!) but I am kinda excited by the fact that I have been painting Drukhari miniatures again!

Especially because I’ve also been working on painting this Raider! It isn’t finished yet, of course, though somehow it seems to have been pretty quick to paint up to this level, which is nice! Painting it really took me right back to those early days with my Dark Eldar, and I have really enjoyed recapturing that feel. It makes me hopeful that I will, in fact, be able to make some decent progress with getting the army up to a better standard, as for the most part they were all just done to a tabletop standard.

I really want to try to pace myself on this front, though, because I don’t want to miss out on getting any other miniatures painted because I’m spending my time going over old ground – I mean, I still have a massive backlong, regardless of the amount of stuff I’ve got through over the summer!

Now, this came a little bit out of left field, as I think I’d made an offhand comment about having two carnifexes that needed painting, and then promptly dug them out and finished them off! Even though one of them had been mostly done, and it was just a matter of finishing touches and stuff, I feel really pleased at having got these big chunky boys done. The carnifex model is horrible to put together, and the back carapace in particular looks gross when you look at how mis-aligned the pieces are, but I can’t deny the overall effect of them is brilliant, even if I say so myself! It’s very rare that I look at something I’ve painted and think, “this is awesome!” but with my Tyranids (and, oddly, with my Dark Eldar) I really get that feeling.

Tyranids have been on the back burner for what feels like centuries now, of course, and I’m sure at some point I will burst forth with a bug infestation, but not quite yet… I still don’t even have the codex for the army, but it’s so far from finished that I suppose the codex is the least of my worries! I love the look of the army so much though, and even stuff as daft as the feel of some of those big bugs in the hand, it’s just a tremendous force!

I had a week away this month, and so had a week off from hobby stuff (which itself could be contributing to my hobby slump) but did take some Necromunda books with me. The end result is that I’ve spent the last week basically obsessed once again with the best skirmish game out there! I’ve really been fired up with a lot of inspiration for the game, but with the result that I feel a little bit like I have that sort of scattergun approach to the hobby, and I don’t know where I want to turn my attention first. I have some Delaque gangers that I want to paint, I want to paint more Van Saar, and I want to paint my Orlocks. I also want to paint more terrain, and I want to start an Outcasts gang. I have also – finally! – begun to look into the Goliath gang, mainly because I was looking at the new Goliath bikes and think they’re utterly hilarious! I’ve built up two gangers for the time being, and they are quite nice models – although the one who has a cigar in his mouth is just ridiculous. I mean, the cigar is a separate bit!!

So I’m trying to take it a bit slower, and I’m trying to just plan things a little bit, and work out what exactly I want to do here. I still want to get more Necrons and Sisters painted by the end of the year, but the Necromunda resurgence cannot be denied, so I think I need to focus on just the Delaque, as I try to get my sneaky boys finished off. James has started to work on some Enforcers that he is pretty excited for, so with a bit of luck we’ll get more games in there soon enough!

My big Necromunda news, though, is that I have finally decided to go for the Ash Wastes, after all! I am hoping to pick it up sometime soon, and have sold off my Nighthaunt army to finance the whole thing, as there is a lot of stuff that I haven’t yet got hold of. That was a bit of a shame, really, as I do love the models, and even though I hadn’t done anything with them in years, getting them all out again in order to work out what I have etc did make me wonder if I should keep them! But I’m trying not to go too crazy, I haven’t played with Nighthaunt in years, I haven’t thought about them or anything in so long, so it makes sense to just off-load them and turn it into something I will use.

The Nighthaunt may be beautiful, but my goodness me, they’re also fiddly as hell! I was almost having palpitations trying to get them untangled from each other! It’s the last complete army that I have wanted to dispose of, really, after selling off the Blood Angels, the Dark Angels, and others, and it is a bit sad to see them go as they are such good models! But it’s just not meant to be, I think. I have the Bonereapers for AoS, of course, although the main thrust of my hobby life is Necromunda and 40k, without a doubt, so it just makes sense to clear out the clutter. I haven’t really bought any models for a long while now, so I don’t feel quite so bad for adding the Ash Wastes box to the pile of shame. Plus, I’ve off-loaded 21 units of Nighthaunt (93 models, including the Black Coach which is much bigger than I remember!) so I suppose I’m making room!

On the whole, though, it feels very much like Warhammer has taken a back seat in September, and I have been focused on my Star Wars prequel re-read. I got through three novels and a half-dozen graphic novels, as well as the final movie in the prequel trilogy, so it was all very much about the galaxy far, far away! It’s nice to have finally made it through all of that, especially as it was meant to be a summer of Star Wars that just started to drag on a bit!!

Interestingly, it has left me feeling a little bit Star Wars-ed out now, though, and I have yet to start watching the new Andor show, despite having been stoked for that to come out! I also picked up a couple of the latest canon hardbacks, but haven’t got the inclination to make a start with those, either!

For the time being, I have started to read Deathfire, book 32 in the Horus Heresy series. I have been neglecting this of late, reading barely any novels in the series the last few years. There’s a definite feeling of lethargy about it now – 32 novels in, and I’m over halfway, but it still feels like I’m a long way from the end! Looking at my recent reading of these books, I finished Scars in June 2020, then Vengeful Spirit in April 2021, and The Damnation of Pythos in June 2021. I made an effort to finish a couple of the anthologies in June as well, which wasn’t too bad as I could cope with short stories while on new baby duty, but that was that! I find the anthologies are a struggle though at times, because there are so many throwaway stories, or tangential stories, and I begin to question just why on earth I’m reading this stuff. I still have 22 books to go before I get to the end of the Heresy series, around 15 of which are novels I believe, so that should help there. With a bit of luck, the storyline will resume somewhat and we’ll have more of a focus as the narrative begins to hone in to the march on Terra.

Deathfire is quite a good book though. I have zero interest in the Salamanders legion, it has to be said – I think it’s along similar lines to the Space Wolves, everything is fire this and pyro that, like the Wolves have wolf this and wolf the other. It’s all a bit blandly boring, really. I know the Salamanders have the reputation for being the good guys, as well, and their whole “caring about the little folk” thing, but that has never been something that appeals to me. I like the Ultramarines, as is well chronicled on this blog, and I always find it interesting how people like the Salamanders for the reasons they dislike the Ultramarines, and it’s almost like it comes down to preferring green over blue, or something! However, in the same way that I ended up liking Vulkan Lives despite kinda dreading having to read that, I am also enjoying Deathfire, so it’s all good for now!

It’s also weirdly nice to get back to the Heresy, as I think I do miss it, despite just how long and drawn-out it has become! It’s been almost seven years since I started reading the series, and while some of the earlier books have stuck with me as being really enjoyable, I really am at the point now where the fatigue has set in. It’s an epic story, and I get that, but some of the stuff that we have in this series does feel incredibly like filler, it’s hard to keep the level of enthusiasm for it! Maybe I should consider a “personal canon” for the Heresy, and start a re-read of just those books that I actually enjoyed…!

In other news, I managed to play a couple of games with the new edition of Arkham Horror, which really is a lot of fun! It’s a surprise to me, because I did enjoy the second edition of the game, but this new one really is great! I think having a story mechanic is a real plus, and adds to the overall feel of the game. I have now bought the Dead of Night expansion, which gives us more of the same stuff, but haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. I want to try and get more big games played in October, so hopefully I can play at least once a week with games like Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, and A Touch of Evil. Whether my long-suffering wife will join me, who knows! Though she does like Eldritch Horror, and I think I can persuade her to try A Touch of Evil. We’ll see. I have so many favourites though, and I haven’t played these things in years, so it would be nice to try and get more games in with them!

More board games, more painting, potentially more Necromunda… I don’t know when I’m planning to sleep during the next month…

Small Men + Big Guns

It all started as an April fools bluff…

The Leagues of Votann are basically space dwarves re-imagined for the modern age. After being a shorthand for any army at risk of being removed from the setting, Squats are back on the menu, as GW have ushered in another new faction for Warhammer 40k.

Having seen a lot of these little guys around the internet in recent months, it has got me thinking as to whether I’d want to collect any of them, as well. I have models for ten full armies already, with a correspondingly massive backlog of stuff to paint, so I don’t really want to start yet another new army as I do have a lot to be getting on with. But I do really like the look of them, I have to say!

I’ve been reading up on the WarCom articles that I’d missed over the last five months, and I’m quite intrigued by the lore behind them – specifically, how the whole Dwarf thing has been brought into the far future. The whole cult of the ancestors thing is there in glorious technicolour, as we learn that they jealously guard their “Votann”, a type of super-computer that holds all the wisdom of the centuries. It’s fascinating, in its way, because it’s definitely on-theme for the sort of future that Warhammer 40k represents. A people that has developed a way to collate all of their wealth of knowledge and protects it in true isolationist fashion.

The startling thing, I think, is that all of the kin are cloned – not identical clones, but it seems to be a bit like they had reached a perfect level of society, so stopped at that point and just started to clone themselves rather than reproduce normally. Reminds me a little of Dorsk in the Jedi Academy trilogy and later, Darksaber.

The space dwarves have some very interesting tech, for sure. Hover trikes?! Blimey, I never thought I’d see the day. It seems to stem from the fact that the Votann contain, among other things, a set of fully-functional STCs, which means they are able to fabricate much better weaponry than their Imperial cousins. They also do not find themselves constrained by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the taboo on trying to improve on their designs. As such, they have all sorts of crazy stuff going on, and as this has been translated to the tabletop, it has already been called out for being slightly ridiculous.

There are a few stratagems that have been officially shown that seem to be ridiculous, from the bikers ability to shut down re-rolls to the strat that rolls what would be two or three effects for other armies into one. All for a single command point. I am a bit salty about that, even while considering collecting them! I don’t think that designing rules to sell these models was necessary, given the reception they’ve had so far, but I suppose we already have stupid possibilities in space marines, which turn off the fun in any game where you’re going up against them. If only the rules writers thought as highly of literally any xenos race!

Something that I’ve found particularly confusing is the new type of weapon, HunTR, which I suppose can be thought of as a basic gun – you can’t run and shoot with it, you can’t double-fire at half range, it’s just a gun that you can shoot things with, but which is still affected by other rules for shooting. That said, it’s a stupid name for the weapon…

At least it doesn’t ignore invuln saves and the damage doesn’t overspill through a unit. That’s just oppressive and unnecessary (except to sell new models).

The rules feel stupid and a blatant case of power-creep, possibly the worst we’ve yet seen. I’ve complained before about how oppressive it can be to play against space marines, but these little chaps are doing things which might well exist within the lore they’ve established for the race, but because it’s brand new to the setting, it’s like some other game has been imported into 40k. Sure, they aren’t constrained by AdMech prohibitions on tech development, but neither are the Tau, who also have an established thing for developing new weapons, and having experimental weaponry etc. But they don’t have the stupid overpowering rules these guys have. It’s probably great to sell the models, but the models look good regardless, so they don’t need the ability to put out 20+ mortal wounds per turn, in addition to all the shooting and stuff they’ll be doing. It feels like a bit of a mess, and I’m now seeing rumours online that the faction has been banned in some tournaments because of their as-yet-unreleased codex. It’s just stupid.

But the models!! The models!! The more I think about these little guys, the more I kinda feel like getting my hands on some. They do look like they would be fun to paint, with some interesting contrasts between the armour plate, the leather, and the undersuit. The little details like the shades and the wrist comm things do just make it even more interesting.

I think the hover-trikes look a bit funny, but they have some good looking vehicles in the garage, such as the Sagitaur (above) and the Hekaton land fortress (below).

These things somehow manage to give off that rugged miner/prospector vibe while also being credible vehicles of war, rather than the way the Genestealer Cults look like they’ve gone into battle with what they’ve got. I suppose part of that is due to the lore of being isolationist, and prepared for hostile encounters as they move on to start plundering new areas.

One of the models that most impresses me is the psyker, the Grimnir. I think anybody who strides into battle in a leather robe with his floating gun-buddies gets my vote! A lot of these models are taking a lot of design cues from the Primaris range, when you look at the rounded greaves or the multi-layered plackart, which specifically calls to mind the Gravis Captain. This guy is fairly similar, at first glance, to the Phobos librarian, too. It also strikes me that it’s becoming a thing to have units that consist of a character with retinue, and here we get the psyker but also the techmarine-analogue coming with his mates, as well.

Some of the models are a little silly though. There are some very weird and wonderful things coming up for the new force, I can’t imagine if I were to start a new army of these guys, I would be getting everything from the range…

Yet other models look like they might be worth picking up regardless, as it’s always good to have multiple options for ranged and melee combat. I would put the bikes in this category as well, because they look a bit daft, but by the same token they look like they should be useful on the battlefield. They also have some amazing details in there, too, which makes me think they would be a lot of fun to paint up.

It all started with the Squat Prospectors for Necromunda, of course, and the more I’m thinking about it all, the more I’m thinking it might be a better idea to get the gang box and be done with! I mean, I really like the basic troops for the Kin, but I like the Ironhead blokes better

Due to the rules controversy, and given how many projects that I currently have on the go, I should probably think long and hard about it before I go ahead and buy anything else, though…

Did someone say bugs?

Hey everybody,
It only seems like five minutes since I was happily writing up my plans at the end of August for what I would like to get finished, painting-wise, and patting myself on the back for how well I was doing for burning through the backlog. September is always a great hobby month for me, and I think I was looking forward to getting loads more done again, and then I just seemed to stall! At the very start of the month, I finished painting (and re-painting) the Dark Eldar Wyches that had found their way to the front of the queue, so I now have 20 Wyches and a Succubus finished for that aspect of the army, which is definitely exciting! It’s been far too long that I’ve had these miniatures floundering.

But then, I started to paint Tyranid Carnifexes! Why? I don’t know – I mean, they’re a project that has been going on almost as long as I’ve been in the hobby, it seems, but I had started to paint one of them around the time my eldest was born (she’s 3 next month), so I suppose it’s nice to have finished painting the two of them now.

I do love the Tyranids army, there’s something about seeing all my big bugs that just fills me with a weird kind of joy! The carnifex model, while I hate the fact that it goes together so poorly (it is quite old, after all), is one of the best 40k models out there, too. I just love the fact it’s this huge beastie that somehow manages to sit nicely in the palm of my hand while being full of deadly claws and teeth! I have been doing a bit of investigation into the carnifex unit, as well, and I am quite impressed, I have to say!

The first guy I have has got a pair of scything talons and a pair of crushing claws, in addition to which he has a bone mace, chitin thorns, acid maw and toxin sacs. He’s pretty tooled-up, then! As a base, carnifexes are S6, T7, W9 and A4. They move 8” and have WS3+. So they’re not the brightest buttons, bless them, but that does link in to the lore of them being mindless beasts that get flung into combat. Anyway. The way I’m thinking about splitting the four attacks is as follows:
– 1 attack for the bone mace (which grants 1 additional attack) – S7 AP-2 D2. Respectable.
– 2 attacks for the claws – S10 AP-3 Dd3+3
– 1 attack for the talons (which grants 1 additional attack) – S6 AP-3 D3.

So already, we’ve got a potential maximum 11 damage just from the basic attacks he’s making. Let’s make things really interesting, though:
– toxin sacs allow for unmodified 6s to hit auto-wounding (and Gorgon have a strat for 1CP to make that a 5+).
– the chitin thorns means I get to improve the AP of my attacks by 1.
– acid maw allows me to roll 3D6 before the fight begins, and for each 3+ I get to dish out 1 mortal wound.
– for 1CP, Voracious Appetite allows me to re-roll the wound roll.

This means that I could potentially add a maximum of 3 additional mortal wounds, so the maximum damage output is now 14 for these bad boys, if all goes well. But let’s not stop there, hey?

I’m playing as Hive Fleet Gorgon, which means that 4+ to wound is always successful (except against vehicles or titanic models). In addition, I’ve chosen exoskeletal reinforcement as my secondary hive fleet ability, which means AP-1 attacks are treated as AP0 attacks by my models. So that’s a nice bit of defensive capability there. The Gorgon-specific psychic power means that units affected by it deal one mortal wound on an unmodified 6 to wound, in addition to the usual damage – so it kinda goes against the toxin sacs ability a little bit, as I won’t be rolling those wound rolls for any 6s to hit, but the way I roll dice, it could still come into play. Finally, the warlord trait that I have chosen is Direct Guidance, which grants units +1 to hit (which works nicely, as any 2s will become 3s, so it will help to make them more accurate from the off).

Of course, I have another carnifex in the party as well. This one is a little more basic, just with four scything talons, but he also has tusks and adrenal glands. He’s modelled with a bone mace, but I’m not paying for that option (in retrospect, I wish I’d put a thresher scythe on his tail, but never mind!)

The scything talons mean he’s making a straight up 8 attacks at S6 AP-3 D3 each. He also has tusks, which means that I have access to a 1CP strat to roll a D6 at the end of the charge phase, on a 2-4 the target suffers 3 mortal wounds, but on a 5+ they suffer D3+3 mortal wounds. Very nice! His adrenal glands mean those talons are actually S7, and he’s moving 9” instead of 8”, and there is a stratagem that can boost the attacks by D3 on the charge for 1CP. So that is potentially 11 attacks at S7 AP-3 D3 each, with potentially 6 mortal wounds being dished out before we even start to trade punches!

Now, they are clocking in at around 130 points each, and there is a fair investment of command points for each of them, but I could see these guys being let loose in a squad of marines and just tearing them to literal pieces. It’s very exciting, I have to say!

I have yet to fully digest the Tyranids codex, mainly because it hasn’t really been a priority for me with having other army projects going on and whatnot – and the Tyranids army isn’t really close to completion as far as painting goes (though I do think I have all of the models that I would ever need for it, all the same…) I think I will need to overcome my natural reticence to get into melee, something that I have started to see with my Necrons in the last couple of games, with Lychguard and Wraiths doing so well, but even so – I think we’ll soon be looking at more bugs on the menu!

August 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
Here we are at the end of August, and I’m surprised at how productive a month it has been for me in the hobby! I have spent a lot of time this month looking through my backlog of course, having started the month with a massive audit of all of my outstanding projects! I suppose that has been a major contributing factor for me being focused on getting some projects finished, as I was able to see just what, exactly, I have hanging about. I’ve also been playing a lot more than usual, too, with weekly games of 40k prompting me to really get painting these things up!

During the month, then, I was able to fully paint five full units of models, I was able to finish off an additional four units that were at a point, but not quite there. I have painted up a terrain piece, and finished off two further pieces of terrain. All in all, then, it was quite a successful month!

For the most part, I’ve been painting Sisters of Battle, getting five Celestians, five Retributors, plus the cherubs and Repentia Superior finished. That army has gone from zero to wonderful in the space of, what, two months? I think I have a total of seven full units painted up, which is kind of bonkers when you think up until the beginning of July, there was barely anything done for this army. I still have a couple more units that need finishing off, but hopefully I can get to them soon enough!

Having played a couple of games with the Sisters, and being utterly smashed in the face, I had shelved them while I continued to paint, but I think I would like to get back to learning that army. It’s true, I have devoted many words on the blog to how disappointed I was with their performance, but I do feel it’s something that I need to keep up and try to improve, so hopefully I’ll be able to get them back to the table soon.

Necrons have had some more love lavished upon them, also, and I’ve had two games with this army – successes, both! I still have a lot of work to do with actually getting the models how I’d like them, as a lot of them seem to have been painted up to a point, but they definitely need some more work to make the blue really shine. So far, I’ve gone back over 20 Immortals and 9 scarab bases to make them more vivid, and in a complete shock I was actually able to get 10 further Immortals painted up in just a weekend! So that was quite something!

My Necrons are, of course, my first love in 40k, and even if I hadn’t won both games, I think I would have still been excited to be playing them once more. I’ve got a fair bit of work ahead of me, of course, but I’m feeling positive that I can bring the rest of the army up to scratch in short order!

In the last few days, as well, I’ve been working on some Wyches for my Drukhari. If Necrons are my first love, then the dark kin are definitely second on the list. I have got so much for this army, it’s kinda scary, really. However, while I have plenty of Kabalite and Coven stuff, the Wych Cults have always been somehow lacking. I suppose I never really knew what I wanted to do with them, so far as paint schemes go, but after giving some thought to it all, I’ve been able to paint the first batch of 10 Wyches and get them finished off. Of course, I had painted up a squad back when I was starting the army in 2017, but I wasn’t hugely enamoured of the colour scheme – and indeed, a lot of the models in that unit have got the bare minimum of paint on them. So I’m going back over those, trying to make them look the part. I’ve also been working on the Succubus, because after checking her over the other day, she wasn’t finished, either! The Wych Cult models have definitely been the poor relations in this force so far.

As we move towards September, we get to one of my favourite times of the year. I’ve talked about this many times now, of course, but it was in the autumn that I first really got myself involved in this hobby, and I have an immense fondness for hobbying at this time of year. The nostalgia is strong, especially as I have been doing a lot with my Necrons again, and the Dark Eldar making a reappearance on the painting table!

There are a few Necrons units that need finishing off, really, and a lot of my Dark Eldar could do with a bit more work on them, as well. The bases in particular for the latter force are really very boring, predominantly just heaped with technical paint and nothing else. In painting the Wyches, I’ve been paying a bit more attention, and trying to make them look a bit more presentable, so I want to try and, slowly but surely, get the rest of my army done to that standard. I’ll probably just pick one unit at a time though, as I don’t want to get the whole lot out and be confronted with all of that!!

All of this threatens to overwhelm me a little bit, so I’m definitely trying to take things slowly and not get too much going on. It’s been great to play with my Necrons once more, of course, and it’s kinda nice right now that I seem to be getting some decent success with them. It’s never purely about winning, of course, but when a game goes well, even if I lose, I enjoy it so much more. Being able to see things play out and happen as close to as they should, it’s just a delight.

I said earlier in the month that I didn’t want to formally plan out what I intend to paint going forward, but looking at where we are now, and stuff, I think it won’t hurt to put a couple of things in place as sort of mini-goals for the rest of the year.

So let’s get some loose plans in place, and see where we get to, shall we?

Sisters:
10 Sisters Novitiates
4 Sisters Repentia
Penitent Engine

Necrons:
10 Lychguard (warscythes)
5 Lychguard (swords)
5 Tomb Blades
5 Immortals (gauss blasters)

Dark Eldar:
10 Wyches

That’s not too bad in terms of what I would like to see finished by the end of December. Of course, it assumes that I don’t get too distracted by anything, but I’m hopefully going to do well on this front, as I feel like I have been able to stay really focused so far, and able to finish a lot of stuff!

It really does help that I’ve not been buying many models – indeed, I don’t think I’ve picked anything up for a few months now. It’s actually been really great to work on the backlog of models, and see these things come to life, after having had them for a while. I’m not likely to have as much success as Dave over on Scent of a Gamer with getting everything finished anytime soon, of course! But it’s good to see things finally come together, all the same!

Can’t stop painting!

I seem to be on a bit of an unstoppable painting spree at the minute, it’s great! I’m finally making huge progress with my backlog, which is cause for celebration all-around, I’m sure you’ll agree!

To start with, I’ve finished the Retributors for my Sisters. As has been the case with pretty much every painted unit for my Sisters army so far, I’ve been able to get these all finished inside a week. I really don’t know where I’ve found this relentless drive from, but it’s enough that I have it!

Since the end of Wimbledon then, I’ve painted up quite a few models for my Sisters army!

Almost 30, in fact! The above photo doesn’t really do them justice, as they’re pretty cramped on the windowsill there, but it’s great to have got such a chunk of the army finished in the space of almost two months. I’m really hoping that I can keep up this pace, at any rate!!

It’s not just units for my many armies that I’ve finished, however! I started to paint these plasma conduits just over two years ago, and did a few of them before I just, well, stopped. So this perhaps isn’t a huge thing, but getting to finish off the box was really nice, and I’m hoping they’ll look awesome alongside the rest of my fully-painted terrain, once I finish painting the rest of it, of course!!

Can’t remember if I’ve already shared this here or not, but I’m so pleased with it that I thought I’d share it again! The first of my two Haemotrope Reactors!

And speaking of my completed terrain, I finished up the Galvanic Magnavent earlier in this month, too!

It’s just awesome to see all of this stuff come together!!

Lastly, I’ve returned to my beloved Dark Eldar, and I’m finally trying to make an effort with the Wyches – given that I’m making such good progress, I thought it just makes sense to try and leverage that, really!! Once I have this squad painted up, I’ll have the firm foundation of a fully-painted Realspace Raid, anyway!! I’m hoping to get some more of the Drukhari backlog painted as time goes on, too – I still need to juggle all the other projects that I have going on, of course, but hopefully I’ll still be able to get more Sisters painted as we start to move into autumn…

I love 40k (honestly!)

Hey everybody,
As you’re all probably aware if you’ve read my blog over the last month or so, I am on a real 40k hobby streak right now, getting loads of models from my backlog painted, and playing far more games than I have otherwise played all year! While I am loving the 40k life right now, I’m also starting to think a lot more about it and feeling a bit flummoxed at times by how dense 9th edition has become. I think in pretty much all of my recent games, we’ve been playing very much with the rules as they’re presented in the Codex and Rulebook, but there is a real wealth of other stuff out there to make games truly immersive.

Now, that’s the positive way of looking at things. The other side of the coin, of course, is that there’s just too much going on, and the rules are scattered over so many different books etc, that it’s nigh-on impossible to keep track of everything. The Warhammer Community website issued a “content validity” document in April which showed whether the content of supplemental books such as Psychic Awakening or the War Zone supplements were still to be considered valid for games of 40k, yet one of the more bonkers things about all of this is, while War Zone Charadon is deemed to be current and valid, you can no longer buy these books from Games Workshop. Which is a shame, as the Charadon book has got some truly amazing rules for the Drukhari Wych Cult.

Part of this is possibly due to the way that 40k is being organised into Seasons now. Every six months, we’re getting a change to the rules and a change to the official tournament mission pack. We’ve already had the Nachmund Season come and go, and we’re now in Nephilim, which has seen a fairly major change to the way command points work as well as providing a raft of new secondary objectives. These kinds of things are good, for sure, as changing secondary objectives across the board is a good way to balance the game and prevent some armies from running away with victory while others are struggling to scrabble round for maybe a couple of points per turn. Changing up the core objectives as well keeps things fresh, because a lot of games can feel quite same-y when you’re trying to score linebreaker, or slay the warlord each time. I’m terrible at deciding which to choose regardless, so tend always to fall back on the regulars – so maybe it’s just me!

The War Zone supplements have presented us with a real delight in terms of mission objectives though. There’s a mission in Charadon Book 2 that have impacts on aura abilities, visibility for shooting attacks, and you can force an enemy unit that fails morale to shoot itself. Octarius gave us Shadow Missions, allowing units deployed into reserves to actually do stuff while they are off the table, which is kinda fascinating really. It’s always great to get more options for what you can do in-game, but it does mean there’s another book on the table with yet more rules to keep track of during a game that is already fairly complex thanks to the number of Codex rules you have to keep a track of!

Whenever I read about the rumours of a 10th edition coming up, and they seem to be getting more steady lately, a lot of the comments tend towards the fact there are too many stratagems out there, and a not-insignificant number of them only actually apply to one unit, which almost begs the question of why they aren’t a unit ability on the datasheet. For example, the Canoptek Scarab Swarm self-destruction stratagem is only usable by Canoptek Scarab Swarms, so why is it a stratagem and not a unit ability? The argument, of course, is usually to do with balance, and by forcing you to pay for it, it helps to keep the model on a level.

The number of stratagems available to armies has grown significantly with the supplement books, as well, making things yet more complicated. The arguments for making unit-specific stratagems more like the Command Abilities in Age of Sigmar is quite strong, and keeping the actual number of stratagems down to maybe a half-dozen core stratagems, and a half-dozen army-specific ones. I do like the fact that there are things like Co-ordinated Engagement for Tau, which just specifies two friendly units and one enemy unit; having things that you can use across a number of different units in your army, depending on how the battle is going, is incredibly useful, and I think reflects the actual purpose behind stratagems in general, being moments of tactical planning that are based on the ebb and flow of the battle.

Having four (or more) pages of stratagems in your Codex, as well as the page of core stratagems in the Rulebook, as well as a page of stratagems for certain armies via the supplement expansions, just makes things go a bit crazy really. There are already a lot of things to keep track of, and I’ve lost count of the amount of “aw, I meant to do x” moments I’ve had. I’m not a professional 40k-player, it’s meant to be a fun game, but it does almost demand more dedication than you think, trying to keep so much straight in your head. Having the deck of cards does help, as I have found in recent games by laying the stratagem next to the unit I intend to use it on. However, I do find that there are some of these that I just never use, which is an interesting thought in itself. Are these stratagems, which pair up specific units (like Monoliths and Core infantry, for example) trying to dictate to us how to build an army? Or are they better off left as a special rule on the Monolith datasheet?

If we’re wishlisting for 10th edition, then, I think I would like the number of stratagems to go down, and units to get special abilities back. Command Abilities are something that could help with this balance, if an ability would potentially be too powerful when left as a kind of “always on” thing. I would like to see the number of supplements either slow down, or remain in print long enough to get them and play with them. I think terrain rules are also in need of some sort of overhaul, because they are in danger of becoming a bit too much as well. I’m all for environment and terrain rules, but they need to be much easier to manage during the course of a game. Terrain features with upwards of six keywords can become unwieldy during the game, as they slow things down while you try to remember how they all work.

I suppose a lot of this does boil down somewhat to the fact 40k is currently a weird amalgam of a sandbox-style game, with the design team giving us rules to cover all sorts of things to make games fun, fresh and exciting, but also trying to keep stuff balanced for the tournament folks. I’ve seen a lot of comments around the 10th edition rumours from people who are saying that GW should stop getting tournament meta-chasers to playtest the game, which does make some sense, really. The game is ultimately what you make of it, though, and there is plenty to enjoy about 9th edition, regardless of what this post might make you think I believe! Hopefully when the inevitable 10th edition does roll around, we’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time with no pandemics getting in the way, anyway.

Deathwatch

Hey everybody,
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of “stock taking” of my various miniatures that are in all manner of shapes, and one of those armies that I keep coming back to is the Deathwatch. It was something I was incredibly excited for when the models first came out; I invested heavily in boxes of the new marines, then a battleforce at Christmas, but I ended up in the usual position of being swamped, and so they went into a box for a very long time. I think part of my disillusionment with the project was how I found myself being swayed by the meta, and building marines “because they’ll be powerful in the game” and not “because they’ll look awesome”.

Let’s delve back into the mists of time…

In 2016, we were in the heady days of 7th edition 40k. Out of the blue, Deathwatch: Overkill came out in February, and gave us two completely new armies for the game, the Deathwatch and the Genestealer Cults. It was very much a board game, almost in the similar vein to Space Hulk, and pitted a specific Deathwatch kill team against an unstoppable horde of Genestealer Cultists. Kill Team Cassius was a varied mix of marines, including a biker and a terminator among their number, as well as a librarian and the chaplain himself, Ortan Cassius. While they were monopose models, they were rather magnificent, and paved the way for more in the summer.

Death Masque was a battle box that launched the main line of Deathwatch miniatures, pitching them against the Harlequins. In this box, we had a Venerable Dreadnought, a squad of Vanguard Veterans, a squad of the new Deathwatch marines, and the Watch Captain Artemis model. Artemis was originally a model produced for the Inquisitor game, so was reimagined for 28mm scale in a pretty stunning mini. In addition, we had Deathwatch upgrades for a variety of Space Marine kits, like Terminators and Bikes, along with a couple of new kits, like the Watch Master and Corvus Blackstar flyer. In terms of actual Deathwatch kits, then, we have a grand total of just five – the two HQs, the flyer, the marines and the Kill Team Cassius set. But that didn’t stop there being a full-blown codex for them in both 7th and 8th editions! For 9th edition, however, they have gone down the route of a Codex Supplement, meaning that you also need to buy the Space Marines book to get the full set of rules for the army. It’s a move that I have not been impressed by, and I think it’s one of the reasons why I’ve not been that into them for a long time.

Another reason for this apathy, I suppose, is that I rarely play games against xenos armies. The whole Deathwatch schtick is that they are xenos killers, and their “chapter tactic” allows them to re-roll hit rolls of 1 in melee against xenos (and re-roll wound rolls of 1 against a specific battlefield role). A lot of the army rules have moved away somewhat from this kind of specificity, much like Grey Knights have lost a lot of their daemon-specific rules, in an effort to make them more rounded as an army that can fight anything.

Deathwatch Veterans can take a bewildering array of weaponry, reflecting the fact they are basically Sternguard Veterans drawn from across the many chapters of Space Marines in the Imperium. The basic troops, Veterans can swap out their wargear for close combat or heavy weapons across the entire five-man team, meaning you could have a squad of five basic troops, four of whom are carrying heavy bolters, or the Deathwatch Infernus heavy bolter (a heavy bolter strapped to a heavy flamer). The fact that the basic load-out of boltgun and power sword also comes with four different kinds of special issue ammunition that you can choose to load into it before shooting begins really adds an extra layer to the whole, as well!

In my ruminations on my army, I’ve discovered that I have just over 1500 points of Deathwatch built, although with four HQ options I can’t field them all in a single force. That said, they aren’t really equipped as I would like them to be, so I have had to start looking at ways to better-organise the force. While mixed kill teams is very thematic for the army, in terms of practical gameplay, it isn’t exactly the best for keeping track of everything that’s going on! So I have been trying to find ways of altering the load-outs, swapping marines around, so that they are a bit more coherent across the force.

I’m not looking for a big game to start with, because I would like to keep things as straightforward as possible. That said, there is often the problem of having a small-scale battle that is also interesting to fight, so I’ve gone for a list that is closer to the 800 points mark. My regular opponent JP has roughly 800 points of Necrons as well, so at some point we’ll look into getting a game with these armies!

In this sense, then, I have come up with the following build.

As you can see, it’s literally a basic battalion with two leaders and three troop squads. Each squad has got some special weapons, but primarily the focus is having some fancy guys with a baseline of basic guys. The two kill team squads have a base of the boltgun/power sword guys, on top of which I have layered some assault weapons in one, and the other kinda has the remnants of what I have built to date!

The Proteus Kill Team includes the fancy terminator that I added into the army after seeing one of the Deathwing conversions in the codex. It looks beautiful, but it becomes a bit of a problem when trying to squeeze things around! Proteus kill teams can include terminators, vanguard veterans and bikers, so they are quite exciting, though they need to have a minimum of five Veterans in there anyway. It all just gets a bit of a faff, somehow, making sure I have the right ratio of models. They all have heavy weapons, although the sergeant has the combi-plasma in there as well.

The army is going to be led by Watch Captain Artemis. He has some good defensive rules, as well as providing a number of buffs to nearby units thanks to his warlord trait. I’m thinking that he will be moving around the field of battle, with one or two of the kill teams in his wake, shooting things up and generally doing what needs to be done.

Chaplain Cassius is not only a beautiful model, but he also looks like he might be quite useful, and comes in under 100 points which is always nice! He has a fairly decent statline, but I think I’m primarily going to be using him to support other squads nearby. His litany gives +1 to hit for shooting units within 6”, so I think I might use him near to the Proteus kill team, as they all have heavy weapons so it would be nice to get some of that meaty damage through; I always feel it’s better to have a to-hit bonus to give the maximum dice for potential wounds, rather than only getting a couple of hits through and being able to buff those after the fact, if that makes sense?

All in all, it seems like it might be a bit of a boring force to play, given that there’s not a lot of variety of units. However, there is a lot going on with their myriad rules that I think this is well more than it perhaps seems on paper. There seems to be a lot of buffs going around, and a couple of useful stratagems are available both from the Deathwatch side as well as the Space Marines book. It should be interesting, I think, anyway!

40k success at last!

Hey everybody,
I am pleased to report that I have had some 40k success, at last! I played my Necrons against JP and his Imperial Fists, using the list that I mentioned in this blog, and despite again not getting the first turn, I was able to survive long enough to deal out a lot of damage across the three rounds that the game lasted. Reanimation Protocols are quite hilarious, aren’t they?

For the first round, my Necrons proved to be remarkably resilient in the face of the Primaris firepower coming my way, and early on JP seemed to realise that he wasn’t going to be able to get away with simply wiping units from the board. I had one unit of Immortals that he must have effectively killed at least twice, but because he wasn’t able to clear the unit each time he shot at them, they just kept coming back. In the first round, I had only lost four models – even by the end of the battle, I think I had only lost one full unit.

In my first turn, I was shockingly able to just obliterate his warlord with my Tomb Blades, which was slightly upsetting because it meant I had jumped my warlord plus 5 Lychguard into his backline for no reason. However, being able to turn off some of the many, many buffs the army was receiving as a result of that was very useful. The Canoptek Wraiths were a good unit for close combat, but I was very impressed with the sword-and-board Lychguard in that they were able to clean up both the Aggressors and the ten-man Intercessors. The actual amount of damage coming from the big blobs of troops wasn’t as impressive as perhaps it could have been, but I think part of that may have been the fact I was losing track of some rules that would have allowed for additional AP and the like.

Having the card deck for Necrons was definitely a help for me, as it meant I was able to just go through and lay out each one that I thought I could use next to the units as my turn went on, making sure I didn’t forget my stratagems (which is often a sticking point). I think I actually ran through pretty much all of my command points during the game, which is definitely new! However, I forgot to prepare my turn like that on the second and third rounds, so there were definitely some things I could have done, but forgot. I think I might make a list next time, and try to organise the key stratagems I know I will use by phase or something.

All in all, I think we ended at round three with the score a firm 39-10 to me, so that was very good. I never like to be smug with friends, or anything, but I think my Reanimation Protocols were really offending JP and causing him to mis-play at times, but using the Veil of Darkness to jump my Catacomb Command Barge to the opposite side of the board to his Redemptor Dreadnought, perhaps the only model that has the massive gun that could deal it some crippling damage, really helped me. As it turned out, he was having to fire that ridiculous plasma thing at my Immortals, which is an incredible waste of such firepower, but on my part it becomes a very useful strategy to place units like that. Frustrate the enemy, and so on!

I wouldn’t say that my list interlocked perfectly the way the Imperial Fists does, but there are some very definite good effects taking place where I was able to feel quite pleased with how things were going!

For our next game, I’m planning to swap out the sword-and-board Lychguard in exchange for making one big ten-man warscythe unit. Those Lychguard didn’t do anything during the battle, unfortunately, and I just know they are able to do well (at least, on paper they are!) so I’m hoping to see what they can do! Having used the Veil this time, I think I might change things up a little, because he might be expecting that again. I could either keep it, but not use it on my first turn, or else go for something else. The Voltaic Staff has a nice tesla-like ability, and I have actually been considering using a Resurrection Orb for the first time ever – one-use things like that, especially for the points, have never really appealed to me, but given how Reanimation Protocols work now, it could prove to be really powerful where there is only one model left. Especially if I’m keeping the Lychguard close to the Command Barge – granted, they are 2-wound models, so not necessarily the best targets, but being able to try to bring back the entire squad rather than just the one or two who had been destroyed that round would potentially make the points back no problem.

I’m still kinda fighting the fact that there are new models from the updated range, which I’m just not that interested in using for the time being. I have plenty of stuff from my army that needs some attention, though, so don’t want to start going too crazy just yet and adding to my painting load.

However, speaking of adding to the painting load, I have started to paint some of the massive amounts of terrain that I’ve had hanging about in that box forever! Realising that I still have some primer sprays from GW, I’ve primed the munitorum armoured containers, and the Haemotrope Reactors, one of which I then painted up over the course of my children’s naptime yesterday afternoon! I’m actually really pleased with how it has come out, and I’m planning to get the other one painted up as soon as possible, as well. Of course, I am mindful that I should be painting models for my armies, but I suppose it makes sense to strike while the inspiration is there!

Hopefully the containers will be a quick case of drybrushing the whole thing, then picking out some skulls, and leave it at that. I don’t really want to go to town on them, as terrain should blend into the background of course. The Reactors are a bit different, as I’d like them to stand out on a game board and look pretty impressive!

Musings and Opinions on Terrain

Hey everybody,
Most of you fine folks who regularly read this blog will undoubtedly know how much I like the Warhammer 40k universe. While the current edition of the game does feel a little bit weird for reasons I hope to explore in an upcoming blog, I nevertheless enjoy playing games and seeing game boards set up with the “official” Games Workshop terrain.

Sector Mechanicus terrain in particular is just great, especially when you have a lot of it together. I’ve recently finished painting my second such terrain piece, the Galvanic Magnavent, and it looks great, even if I say so myself! The kits are all fantastic, and they can be used quite interchangeably to make some truly magnificent game boards to fight over.

But as of the time I’m writing this, barely any of these kits are available.

What’s going on?!

Let’s go back to the heady days of 2017, when Shadow War Armageddon was released as what many people thought was an attempt to update Necromunda, though the result was closer to Kill Team. The box came out with brand new, multi-level terrain, and it was gone within seconds of pre-order. The terrain included was roughly equivalent to a Ferratonic Incinerator and an Alchomite Stack, though with additional walkways. The box set was followed up in short order by five big kits, each of which brought something slightly different to the table, and could be combined in multiple ways to create some truly mind-boggling displays!

The Alchomite Stack was simply a set of chimney-like structures, ostensibly two, but you could create as many or as few as you like.

The Ferratonic Furnace was a big canister piece with a walkway on top.

The Ferratonic Incinerator was an enlarged Furnace, with some more walkways and the infamous skull-crane thing.

The Galvanic Magnavent was a large structure, with a lot of walkways and a central, slimmer canister piece that linked to a huge chimney piece.

The Promethium Forge was another large piece, with more presence than the Magnavent.

There were of course the special boxes that were released for Christmas or whatever, such as the Promethium Refinery that combined several kits (the Promethium Forge and Ferratonic Furnace, with more walkways from the Forge and elements from the Alchomite Stack). Then a secondary wave of kits was released, which were less structures and more battlefield decoration, almost.

The Haemotrope Reactors were immense terrain pieces that basically serve to block line of sight.

The Thermic Plasma Conduits replaced the Promethium Relay Pipes as the de-facto pipe network that provides an element of running cover for game boards.

Galvanic Servohaulers were a trio of vehicles that essentially serve as scatter terrain.

Thermic Plasma Regulators are a pair of smaller structures, a bit like the Reactors in that they are line of sight blockers, but they also have platforms allowing you to link them to the main range.

Finally, and separately, when the Knights Codex came out, they had a Sacristan Forgeshrine, which was like a mini Promethium Forge with some added bits and pieces. In a similar move, the Genestealer Cults had a Tectonic Fragdrill which was compatible with the Mechanicus range.

Seventh Edition was a crazy time, and most of these kits came out with rules for them. Some scenery pieces granted better cover, or allowed you to re-roll 1s for cover saves. Some made your plasma or flamer weaponry better if you were close by. Some were volatile, and could potentially damage models nearby. It was slightly bonkers, but I loved it. When Eighth Edition sought to initially streamline things, the rules for shooting at models within a certain distance of these terrain features were still there to some degree, but in Ninth Edition all terrain rules have been greatly simplified. Well, they’re still complex, but terrain is now in categories, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a Ferratonic Incinerator (volatile cover) or a Promethium Forge (aegis of the Omnissiah). It’s all just area terrain and that’s that.

However, the big thing today is that only the Galvanic Servohaulers, Sacristan Forgeshrine and Galvanic Magnavent are available to order. The rest of the range disappeared a couple of years back, but then we started to see the big terrain boxes come out, like War Zone Charadon, which featured numerous Sector Mechanicus terrain features. Kill Team Nachmund also included a lot of the Charadon stuff – a Ferratonic Furnace, Thermic Plasma Regulators, etc. But the big pieces have disappeared, and it’s kinda concerning me.

It’s not particularly old, although I know plenty of gamers who think a 5 year old model would require an update. However, even if we were to consider this stuff old, that doesn’t explain why a lot of their terrain pieces that came out for Ninth Edition, such as the new Manufactorum pieces, are also no longer available. The Manufactorum terrain set is, in particular, weird. There were two large pieces, the Sanctum Administratus (still available) and the Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane (no longer on the site), then there was the Command Edition terrain set (still available) which looks like it has some of the Sub-Cloister as well as a bunch of new relay pipes. Then came the big Vertigus terrain box (no longer on the site), which seemed to repackage the Sub-Cloister set alongside the Command Edition terrain, and also included some kind of shrine which was only available in that box.

Terrain seems to be an afterthought for GW these days, and while they are knocking it out of the park when it comes to the stuff they do stock, it’s just upsetting to see so many good pieces just ignored or left to fall out of stock.

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the issues around the new (for Eighth Edition) Sector Imperialis stuff, which was just glorious and beautiful. I’m very pleased with the fact I was able to get some of those pieces back in the day, thanks mainly to the Kill Team box of course. The latest Kill Team Charadon set did give us a second-wind for some of that stuff, as well, although that doesn’t appear to be aimed at the regular 40k crowd.

I’m still in mourning for the Derelict Factorum set that I came close to purchasing, but now can no longer be found…

I can’t help but wonder what’s going on, and why they have such few pieces in the catalogue. It’s most likely due to sales, and I guess you could quite easily say that people are far more likely to buy another squad of marines than they would be to buy a box of industrial terrain. I suppose the pandemic has put a lot of community gaming on hold, so clubs etc weren’t open to need terrain for their gaming spaces. People have gotten by with piles of books or cans of coke for terrain, if they were able to game at all, and so here we are.

For all my doom and gloom, though, it’s good to see games like Necromunda keeping the need for terrain alive, with some mad stuff we’ve had for that game in the last few years, starting with plastic zone mortalis stuff and moving through the Gang Stronghold to last year’s Underhive Market set, all of which is still thankfully available to buy! Of course, Necromunda does have rules for Sector Mechanicus terrain as well, which makes it annoying when you can’t buy more of it any longer.

Rumours are all over the place about Tenth Edition coming next year. Who knows if we’ll get some more terrain to coincide with that, such as we had with the Manufactorum stuff for the current edition?