Sunday, 30 April 2017

So long 7th edition 40k

It seems to have been a few months since my last post. Life has been busy with changing jobs again and working more weekends etc. However this is definitely an interesting time in the hobby with 8th edition just announced.

So what have I been up to since last time?

Besides watching a few battle reports on YouTube, I have made and played some Age of Sigmar with a Death army using some unbuilt Vampire Counts models I had picked up along the way. I have found it quite good fun, although I am still not used to the fantasy models (in my mind anyway) in the faux sci-fi mortal realms.

As well as playing occasional games with my Howling Griffons and Angels of the Covenant 40k armies, I also picked up the Calth boxed set, which I have made into an Alpha Legion army. I went for them partly because of their ambiguous loyalty (a bit like my DA I suppose..) and I also like their new rules in Traitor Legions. Finally Chaos have become competitive again and got some fluffy rules to match the lore.

In one particular game, which I ended up drawing against an Ultramarine army, one of my infiltrating cultist units managed to tie up a captain in combat before a second unit made a 10" charge with 2 sixes and then beat him with numbers. He then failed Ld and jumped off the board.

Speaking of Ultramarines, I have also been working on Roboute Guilleman as a LoW for my Griffons.  I am hoping to get a game with him soon, before 8th drops.

Work in progress

There were the predictable negative reactions when the new edition was first announced, but I like the way GW is now  drip-feeding information to counter some of the wilder speculation.  It does seem like they have learnt from some of the mistakes with Age of Sigmar. In particular, my Orks are looking forward to more outings when the game has been re-balanced.  I have enjoyed 7th edition on the whole, but it is not a level playing field, including the insane Ynnari soulburst thing. It will be good to see the meta shifting again.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Kill team - best GW starter box ever?

The Kill Team box is exceptionally good value and continues a recent trend, with GW releasing a boxed game containing rules and models for well below the price of buying just the models separately.  Some of the other boxes GW has released have only been around for a short time (e.g. Renegade), but they don't always announce if these are limited editions or not.  I hope this one stays around for a while.

What makes this set so good is that for once you can get squads for two solid armies, with a good range of upgrade options for both.  As well as the figures, you also get a copy of the updated Kill Team rules, which is perfect for new players just starting out their collections.  These restrict some of the more insane choices available in larger games, as it only allows a limited range of units and vehicles and the forces are capped at 200pts.  The best part for me is that it also includes a mini rulebook for the main 40K game.  I would probably recommend this to a new player over the Dark Vengeance box, as some of the DV Chaos units are not the best currently.  The DA choices are much stronger, which does not make for a balanced set.

Kill team games are also quick so are very good for younger players.  Those with longer attention spans can easily play 2 or 3 games in an evening, which is great for club leagues.

If you bought the old Kill Team rules from Black Library, you can download the update for free, which is also a welcome gesture.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Getting started - the financial cost of Space Marines (Part 3)

My planned pair of articles (Part 2 here) on this topic has morphed into a trilogy.  This final post will look at some of the detachments in the Angels of Death supplement.

As well as datasheets for the plastic Horus Heresy SM units first released in Betrayal at Calth, which can now be included in SM formations, there are a host of formation datasheets too.  Most of these first appeared in the Kauyon expansion, but it also includes the feared Skyhammer Annihilation Force. Although most of these formations show either White Scars or Raven Guard, which featured heavily in Kauyon, they are open to all SM chapters too.

In order of minimum cost, these formations come in at:

Speartip Strike -£50
Stormbringer Squadron -£53
Shadowstrike Kill Team - £56
Raptor Wing - £75
Blade wing Assault Brotherhood - £93
Hunting Force -£95
Pinion Battle Demi-Company -£105
Raven hawk Assault Group - £108
Shadow Force - £109 - unless you can find the Solaq box still
Skyhammer Orbital Force -£136
Skyhammer Annihilation Force - £151
Stormlance Battle Demi-Company -£200

Each of these formations performs differently on the battlefield and depend on you knowing how to use particular units and combinations of rules and tactics.  Their performance may not be optimal at the minimum levels.  For example, the Pinion Demi-Company works best with more than just one Scout squad to give another unit the Outflank rule.

I have tried the Skyhammer Annihilation Force a few times. Read my review of my first game here.

Up to now, I have only spoken about Space Marines of any chapter in the generic or 'vanilla' codex. Every codex chapter  - so not Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Grey Knights or the new Deathwatch - can use the same formations and Gladius Strike Force detachment in  the main codex.  Black Templars have the restriction that their Crusader squads can't be used in the Gladius, but they still have Tactical Squads for this.

Angels of Death has one detachment usable by all SM players, which is the Anvil Strike Force.  This is one for the petrol heads!  Both Core choices in the detachment are based on tanks and are the Land Raider Spearhead and the Armoured Task Force formations from the codex.  The latter is the slightly cheaper option if you take the tanks in minimum-sized units of one.  I have used this formation once with the help of a few proxies, when it beat a Tau force, although my opponent did not have any of the really scary stuff, as he only took one Riptide.  There was a lot of wrecked armour at the end of the game!  As with the other formations, the tank units get better rules with units of three, so be prepared to buy more tanks later on.

The detachments in Angels of Death all use different core and auxiliary choices chosen from either the codex or the supplement, however the rest of the detachments are restricted to one set of chapter tactics.  This means that you either need to use one of the main, 'first-founding' chapters and have painted models to match, or you declare models with your own colour scheme to be a successor chapter for whichever rules you choose.  Many players in a friendly environment are fine with you changing your chapter tactics between games, but if your models look like one named chapter, you will have to use their tactics in more formal games or tournaments.

There are Decurion-style chapter-specific detachments in Angels of Death for White Scars, Imperial Fists, Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard.  All of these use core choices starting at around the £100 mark, to which you need to add at least one auxiliary choice from about £50 upwards.  Each detachment reflects the chapter's character and fighting style, so Imperial Fists get amazingly accurate bolters, Salamanders get stronger flamers etc.

Again, which one you choose can only really be determined based on your preferred chapter and models, so make sure you try out a few different types of unit before planning any greater expense.  My ultimate plan is still to make my own chapter to ally with my Howling Griffons and Dark Angels, so I can try out some of these detachments.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Getting started with 40K - the financial cost of Space Marines (Part 2)

Following on from my first post on this topic, I would now like to discuss some of the newer formations available to Marine players, which are generally seen as being both more characterful and more competitive, as they encourage different play-styles and types of army, but also unlock particular special rules and rules combos.

Some of these formations are available in the Space Marine codex, whilst others can be found in the Angels of Death supplement, which collates and updates formations from various other earlier supplements and even a previously limited edition datasheet - the infamous Skyhammer Annihilation Force.

Remember that formations may be taken as stand-alone forces in their own right, which could be your whole army or serve as a bolt-on to another formation or army.  There are a couple of formations in the codex that start at around the £50 mark to start with (Reclusiam Command Squad, 10th Company and even the Librarius Conclave).  However, whilst these are potentially battleforged armies in their own right, they are best taken as part of a Gladius Strike Force (P112 in the codex).

This special type of detachment is commonly-known as a Decurion-style detachment, as it was first introduced in the Necron codex under that name.  Unusually, these are detachments made up of other formations of units, rather than individual units.  Typically, there is a minimum requirement of a core formation alongside one or more auxiliary formations. Command formations are also available.

For Space Marines the Battle Demi-Company is the basic core formation around which the Gladius is built.  The minimum requirement for this is a Captain or Chaplain, 3 Tactical Squads, an Assault element (Assault Squad, a choice of bikes, Landspeeders or Assault Centurions) and a Devastator element (a traditional Devastator Squad or the newer Devastator Centurions), as well as options for Dreadnought and a Command Squad.  Whilst this gives a decent selection of options already, the minimum price of this is around the £100 mark.  3x£25 Tactical Squad boxes will give you just about enough marines to field minimum-sized squads for all of these slots, if you get creative and make a Captain and your assault and devastator marines using the respectable range of weapon options available.  Purists would argue that Marines should always be fielded in squads of 10, but units of 5 are perfectly legal.  Your next purchase should then be the versatile Devastator (£28) kit, followed by either a unit of Bikes, a Landspeeder or an Assault Squad (£15-£20).  The Devastator squad is particularly useful, as it contains lots of heavy weapon choices to spread around your tactical squads. (You might want to keep an eye out for the discontinued Demi-Company box, with all the options for £135)

Your next decision is which auxiliary formation to go for as the minimum for a Gladius.  In order of  basic cost, these are roughly:
10th Company (£45)
1st Company (£75)
Suppression Force (£90)
Armoured Task Force (£105 if you convert a Techmarine from a Rhino gunner)
Stormwing (£116)
Anti-Air Defence Force (£120 or cheaper if you convert a Rhino with a spare weapon)
Centurion Siegebreaker Cohort (£133)
Land raider Spearhead (£135)
Strike Force Ultra (£253)

Each of this choices will change the flavour of your army and should give you some fun games with a good variety of units.

The first benefit of a Demi-Company is that each unit in it gains Objective Secured, which is very useful in objective-based games.  The doctrines are also handy in the right situation, but you do need to remember to call them at the correct time.  Where the Gladius becomes really powerful and a headache for your opponent is with two Demi-Companies, when you can then take basic Dedicated Transports at no extra points-cost, all of which also have Objective Secured.  The cost in hard currency of this is potentially even scarier.  First off, you clearly need to spend double your initial outlay to get two Demi-Companies.  The transports then cost £22.50 (Rhino or Drop Pod) or £25 (Razorback) each and you could potentially get up to 14 of these.

I had intended to go into some of the formations in Angels of Death here, but I think that is best left for another post.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Getting started with 40k - the financial cost of Space Marines (Part 1)

In Part 1 of 2 I will run through a couple of options to consider if either you or your child are curious about Warhammer 40k and you don't know where to start.  The prices are GBP, but I'm sure you can convert if needed.

I have always had an interest in getting new players into the hobby.  Having run a school club for a number of years, parents have often asked me how much it costs to get started with a basic army.  Some have even asked how much a good army costs.  I have always been open with them that this is not the cheapest hobby ever.  It is also well-known that GW is a model company, which exists primarily to sell models.  I also always add that the hobby compares well in terms of cost against the more prevalent games consoles, whilst also promoting more creativity, problem-solving and social skills.

First off, a few bits of advice.  To start with, don't get carried away too soon.  I have seen parents enthusiastically buy boxes and boxes of models, only for the little one to get bored before they finish their first squad and it all ends up gathering dust.  The hobby is not for everyone and requires patience to build, paint and then play every model.  Secondly, book an intro session at your local gaming store, where they can hopefully make their first model and start learning how to play.  If they like it then, you will need to take them back a few times to learn more and more rules.  (This never ends.)  Ideally, take one of their friends along, so they learn together and have someone to play against.

How much you spend on glue and paint is up to you.  GW will try to sell you their own hobby supplies, but there are cheaper options available for brushes, plastic glue and so on, especially if you plan on doing this all at home.  A decent set of clippers is a good idea, with the right supervision of course.  Halfords and Wilko do decent spray primers for a fraction of GW prices, but 4 pots of GW paints for just over £10 is a good start.  Leadbelcher metallic paint for the guns, a skin colour for any bare heads, another colour for the armour depending on your chosen chapter and then a colour for the base - I like Zandri Dust.

The Dark Vengeance box is an excellent entry point for the game itself.  £65 for a handy rulebook, 2 armies to split with the friend and some other gaming tools (including dice) is very good value.  The main limitation is that you may not be interested in Dark Angels or Chaos as forces.  Whilst DA are at least mid-tier in terms of competitiveness, Chaos is currently desperately in need of an update - hopefully soon.  One possible option is to combine the two forces into a Fallen army, representing former DA who have succumbed to the lure of Chaos.

Alternatively many players are quite happy to paint the DA models as whatever Marine chapter they like.  However, this does depend on the player's level of OCD, as some can't cope with anything but the 'official' colour schemes.  This will help determine which codex to get next.  This will take the overall spend to £100.

The codex gives a more detailed description of the full range of units available to the army and is essential for writing army lists and understanding how the army plays.  As stated above, I would avoid Chaos for now and go for either DA or so-called 'vanilla' Space Marines.  


If you avoid DV and grab a mini 7th Edition rulebook on eBay for around £20 (don't get the hefty £50 hardbacks), you could instead spend £40 on a Tactical Squad and a Commander for a legal, playable army of 2x5-man squads and a leader.  This is the traditional 1 HQ and 2 Troops choices for a Combined Arms Detachment (CAD).  However, I would suggest the Start Collecting! Space Marines box for £50, which also gives you a Venerable Dreadnought (normally £28) for an extra tenner.  The box also contains a formation data sheet, which means it is also a legal army in its own right.  Or you could include the Dread in your CAD too.

GW has introduced the 'Unbound' option to players, which basically means you can use whichever units you have in your army.  This seems specifically designed to help new players with a more limited selection of random figures to be able to play.  However, many of the formations and detachments available tend to have much better rules for a similar price.

In Part 2 I will look at how much it costs to start fielding some of the more competitive formations now available to Marine players.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Skyhammer Annihilation Force - first play vs Necrons

Now that the Angels of Death supplement has been released, the previously-limited edition Skyhammer Annihilation Force formation will be fielded a lot more. (That is once GW prints more copies...)

I played a 1500 pts campaign game vs Tim's Necron Decurion with extra Wraiths and Destroyers this week.  Having not touched my Howling Griffons for a while, I thought this would be a good chance to use my grav devastators.  As it happened, I only have 6, so took 2 multi-meltas as well.  My primary detachment was supposed to be DA, so I took a couple of Attack Squadrons, with one of the Ravening sergeants as warlord.

The game was maelstrom, starting with 6 cards then decreasing.  Deployment was short edges.

I set up first and Tim failed to seize.  I knew that this was where the formation needed to do its stuff, so also called Ultramarine devastator doctrines, which would allow me to re-roll hits, as well as having grav-amps to re-roll wounds.  I decided to combat squad all the dev and assault squads to mitigate any bad scatter and force Tim to prioritise targets more.  My own priority was his Canoptek Spyders, as I knew they were key to keeping his wraiths alive.  I dropped the jump marines in first (losing one to terrain) as I knew the drop pods are better at squeezing between units.  My units came down in pretty good positions, but with the narrow table width, I would be in range of lots of his guns next turn.  As it was, I did manage to kill both Spyders with graviton, but we only later realised a genuine mistake with reanimation. The Spyders can only activate this in their movement phase, so don't get it if their opponent goes first.  Tim still took his RP rolls, but rather than re-winding a whole turn, which had already taken a long time, we just continued the game.  This meant however, that I was not able to limit the overwatch against my assault marines as much as I had wanted, so for example only one made it into combat vs the Overlord's unit of Warriors.  My plan had been to tie up more warriors in combat and so stop them shooting.  I did rack up an early lead in VPs, including first blood, but then of course the retribution was brutal and my army quickly started to suffer.

Fast-forwarding to the result, we had to call the game due to time at the end of Turn 3.  We were then both tied on 6 VPs each, so settled on a draw.  However, I only had 4 units left, with just one or two models in each.  Tim's army was still about two-thirds intact.

The Skyhammer Annihilation Force certainly makes an impact, but in a 1500 pt game, it was about 70% of my whole army.  Even with the RP issue, I did not make enough of a dent to take the pressure of the rest of my list.  However, it was a very eventful game with plenty of tactical options, with many units 'up close and personal'.

I definitely intend to give it another go in a future game.  Any tips on strategy would be appreciated.

EDIT: Tim's deployment was also excellent (my word not his), as his units did a very good job of bubble-wrapping each other, leaving me no space to drop in between. My choices were either at the back of the board or right in front of his gun line. I went for the latter.
Thanks for the reminder Tim.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Dark Angels and Imperial Knight vs Nids 1400pts

My Guardians of the Covenant played a 1400 point game vs Luke's Nids this week.

As well as my Knight Warden, I wanted to field my new Dark Talon, so I went for a mixed Ravenwing and Deathwing list, instead of the usual Demi-Company etc.

We drew the maelstrom mission where both players can score any numbered objectives drawn.

Luke has the obligatory flying tyrant with a hive crone. His only other synapse was a unit of zoanthropes, but he did have a toxicrene and a tyrannofex, as well as hormagants and gargoyles.

In the end I wasted the Dark Talon trying to ground the tyrant with the hurricane bolters, but it kept passing any tests it had to make before regenerating any wounds. Of course my talon then get shot down before I got to try the stasis bomb or rift cannon. Next time then..

My other main hope for killing stuff was the Knight. It did manage to remove the toxicrene, but the Luke quickly whittled down its hull points before the Hive Crone performed a spectacular kamikaze dive to remove the last hull point. The explosion, which finished off the Crone and a whole unit of my terminators, was survived by a surprised-looking gargoyle.

I still managed to keep racking up points, including most of Luke's cards. In the end I won 14-9, but was closed to being tabled, with my warlord terminator librarian on one wound and a Techmarine both cowering in a ruin when the game ended to my relief Turn 6. Luke's tyrant, zoanthropes, hormagants and tyrannofex were still virtually unscathed.

I love close, eventful games like that. Thanks Luke!