Master Cain had mustered the company. The Chapter recruiting base on Molov close by the Cicatrix Maledictum had become a major marshaling point. The 5th stood in ranks in the hard rain, under a dark sky shot through with the otherworldly purple and green light of the tear in space. Chaplain Zadok brought his fiery harangue to a thunderous crescendo, extolling the virtues of the company and demanding more of them in the upcoming battles.
Nearly a quarter of the men in ranks were new to the company. More than a dozen dead, another bunch rotated to serve as vehicle crew or replacements to other companies, or to serve in the Ravenwing. In the ranks the new members stand at the end of their squads, their armor freshly repainted with the markings of the 5th. The rain washing down them, sleeting from the heavens made them appear as weeping statues. The puddles shook. a tremor washed over the company.
Master Cain spun, his senses pointing him directly to the source. Through the weirdly lit gloom a hulking shape approached, the full-throated, brassy notes of warhorns. A Crusader-Class knight, in black and bone. And what appeared to be deep green.
“Oh no” breathed Bors over the company vox.
Cain focused and a burst of lightning highlighted the name “Broin” on the knight as it came close, still half a kilometer away it towered over the vehicle park as it tromped forward between the lines of vehicles as if they stood honor guard for him.
The company stood, still and silent, facing away with perfect discipline. Cain admired them for that. Still he could feel every pair of eyes in every helmet straining to see the sight. Most knights walked with a noble gait, this one tromped with intent, but no grace. “Bors, what do you know”
“If this is the Broin I know this will be a trial, master.”
Cain looked at his Lieutenant, his hammer twitching in his hand.
“Is he that bad Bors?”
“He is a fine warrior, but if he was a tenth the warrior he thinks himself to be we could take up farming, or embroidery.”
As Cain stared at Bors, trying to detect any trace of falsehood in his odd comment, the Knight swung ponderously around behind the Chaplain, taking the place of honor as if to address the company. The horns sounded, deep and thunderous.
“Warriors of the First Legion” bellowed the speakers on the knight. “Congratulations on your fortune this day! Today you join forces with the glorious Broin the Mighty!”
Cain looked on in amazement. He could hear vox-clicks from his sergeants and Chaplain Zadok’s vitals were spiking.
As Broin’s speakers cut in to continue his speech, Master Cain stepped forward “Broin, we of the First Legion greet you. Tonight my Lieutenants, Bors and Nabbuk have prepared a feast, in your honor. We look forward to hearing your tales and to working with you. For now we must prepare for tomorrow’s embarkation!”
Bors looked at him, hate seething off him in waves. Even the unflappable Nabbuk seemed bemused. Cain clicked over to the command vox. “Seat him between Joab and Uriah. Adjust the tables so our head table meets at an angle to theirs at the front of the hall. We must not insult our new ally.”
“-and I look forward to our feasting and fighting as glorious brothers!” Broin was finishing even as Cain re-enabled outside audio.
The knight stomped away, to the head of the vehicle column, where a support crew in black livery waited to aid him down. Bors voiced a thought that clearly troubled him “Why is his livery on his shield so close to ours? Before it was simply halved, now it’s quartered with our green, though not quite the company pattern.”
Zadok sighed “I suspect it is one of Sapphon’s little games. He likely sent him the information on our company and suggested he incorporate pieces of it. He seems to enjoy… pushing decorum at times. See how we react. Testing us.”
“This will test us. Master, with your permission I’d like to head over with Nabbuk and prepare room at the feast.”
“Of course, Bors. I will see you tonight. See if they have banners or such to hang for the feast as well.”
“Of course.” Bors and Nabbuk saluted and stalked away, bristling with rage.
The Hall of Grand Masters waited deep within the Rock. Hidden down among the lowest levels few knew of its existence. At the precise same instant, guided by the Watchers in the Dark more than a dozen Chapter Masters of the Dark Angels stepped from shadowy alcoves in the wall into the dim light of the Hall. Robed and hooded in the colors of their chapters, the leaders of the Successors of the Dark Angels walked to their seats as the Watchers took up positions behind them their dark green robes blending into the stone of the walls as they froze into immobility. Many battle-brothers lived their lives without seeing a single one of the mysterious beings, this night more than thirty of them took station in the Hall.
“Master of Souls Nakir,” intoned Azrael, carefully biting off his words in the thick air of the chamber. “Why have you called this meeting?”
Nakir sat up a bit, his deep black robe shifting. “It wasn’t my summons Supreme Grand Master. The summons I received came from Master Makallan!”
Cries erupted around the table as every master claimed another had summoned him. Soon half the members were standing and the sussurus of whispers of the Watchers pressed hard on their minds.
“Enough.” said a voice. The tone was that of a whisper, but the volume crashed across the room like a tidal wave. Every head snapped with transhuman speed and precision to the throne that had stood empty when they entered. On one side of it stood a robed Watcher. Only this Watcher’s robes were not the dark green of every other Watcher ever seen, but a bone-white scribbled over with runes of ancient Caliban. Towering over him on the other side of the throne stood an Astartes in black power armor of ancient design. Hooding his features in a deep white robe did nothing to disguise the ancient Fallen Dark Angel, Cypher.
Yet the greatest surprise sat between them. Even seated the magnificent warrior on the throne towered over Cypher as Cypher did the Watcher. Blonde hair so pale as to be nearly white hung over a face narrow and drawn. The aquiline nose, projected forward over pale lips, barely seen on the face seen in so many windows and frescoes by the assembled warlords of the Dark Angels successors. His black armor shared a color with Cypher’s but where Cypher’s armor blended with the shadows, hiding him even when one looked squarely at him, the Lion’s glossy war-plate stood like a burning beacon, a black flame lit to burn out the enemies of his legion.
“I did not summon you here to listen to my sons bicker and squabble. I came here to determine exactly what has been done to my legion, and why my brother has been allowed to infiltrate it and fragment it.”
The Chapter Masters paused, unsure how to handle the barbed questions inherent in the statement of the Primarch. Cypher stepped into the stiff, empty air and cast back his hood.
“Perhaps our best use of the time is to determine how to put your Legion back in its desired state, and with the leaders it needs, given the issues the Imperium faces at present, my Lord.” He said calmly, addressing his words to the Primarch seated behind him, but with a cool, measuring gaze spread across the Chapter Masters before him.
The point of this series is to show how the missing Imperial Primarchs could return. I will be doing all 9, even the dead ones. The goal is not to show what effect they will have, simply how they could choose to reveal themselves.
So I’ve been talked into an apocalypse game in January. 150 PL each for 6 people, possibly 8. I’ve got a bit of incentive seeing as I’m getting to use
A certain model I’ve been waiting to put on as the Lion. Rules wise he’s just Guilliman with Dark Angels keywords smeared all over but it should be fun. I’m going with a pretty heavy mech infantry list that should let me push up table and take up space while spitting out an OK amount of damage, and deliver a nasty little death ball of terminators, and DA characters into the enemies’ faces.
But enough of that. There will be pictures and hopefully a battle report to go with it when the time comes, I want to talk a little bit about how the year went, and what I hope to see from GW in the next year. 2017 was a fantastic year. The release of 8th edition, the addition of Primarchs to the game, everything seemed to be coming together for GW. They followed up with FAQ and errata updates to fix issues with the game on a continuing basis and looked to be taking their stewardship of the game seriously.
2018 was more of a mixed bag. New armies were released, and codexes came out to bring every army up to the current edition standard for the first time, well ever, really (technically this will only be complete when sisters officially comes out but that’s imminent, and there’s already a temporary codex in the Chapter Approved). However there wasn’t a really Big Release. Genestealer Cults and Custodes are interesting armies, but rather starved for choice on their own.
In addition the non-Ultramarine Space Marine players have noticed a rather disturbing trend. While there are codexes for the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Deathwatch, Grey Knights and Space Wolves, there hasn’t been a unique model (other than the ubiquitous Primaris Lieutenant each) for any of them, and units are disappearing from Warhammer stores. There isn’t a single Dark Angels special unit, or Space Wolf, being stocked at my local Warhammer Store, and only Grey Knights and Deathwatch seem fated to have lines available in the stores.
This creates a concern for me as, without the draw of being able to see the unique and amazing models for themselves, new players are less likely to select these armies, and this will create a downward spiral where these armies lose development time and resources because they aren’t popular, and the lack of new units means less money is spent by the players, which leads to even less resources dedicated by GW.
In fact the largest addition to my armies this year was Txarli Miniatures Leon Johnson model. While I did add some other models, Leon is easily the largest and most striking addition to the army. I added some terminators while they were still available locally, and I’m getting some Reivers because I just like the models, as well as Sammael but, again the biggest addition was Leon.
So… What do I want to see? Diversity among the Space Marines. 2018 gave us lots of Ork releases, lots of Custodes, and 2019 promises Sisters of Battle, but I want a major release that isn’t for Ultramarines. I would LOVE to see the Wolf and the Lion return, with bodyguard units like the (re, re, re) release of Marneus Calgar. That nobody asked for. Heck I would be tickled to see Dorn return with a new codex. For the Black Templar. I think they could take the story they’ve energized to life in 8th edition, and added to with the newly released Vigilus campaign book and drive it different places WITHOUT the Ultramarines.
I just want to talk for a minute about my local group. We have one Ultramarine player. There are 2 Dark Angels, 3 Blood Angels, 2 or 3 Space Wolf players, a couple of homebrews, and even a die-hard Black Templar player. Adding more Ultramarine models isn’t adding to the number of players, and it’s not adding to the variety we see in our area. Other areas may be awash in a sea of ultramarine blue ceramite but… I doubt it.
Zooming back from Space Marines to a more general view, but keeping SM in the picture let’s look at EVERYTHING and I’ll take a stab at what armies need an update.
- All Chaos Marines other than DG and 1k Sons. World Eaters, Emperor’s Children, Black Legion, Iron Warriors (like THAT will ever happen) Night Warriors, Word Bearers, and Alpha Legion are absolutely STARVED at the moment. Just, don’t get your hopes up for a new Abaddon model. If GW can’t copyright the name, they won’t make the model I suspect.
- Aeldari. Craftworld especially, but really all three could use some new models, and just some life in general. Not to mention the mess that is Ynnari at the moment.
- Grey Knights. Look, I don’t like Grey Knights, I don’t like their lore, I don’t like their playstyle, there’s just a lot here I think makes them kinda unfixable and that may be why they don’t get a lot of love, but I also know there’s a lot of GK players out there and they haven’t seen anything worthwhile in a LONG time.
- Inquisition / Imperial Agents. I can DREAM that SoB will pick this up but I doubt it. Arbites, Priests, all the odds and ends that have accumulated over the years need a home, and it would be a more fun and diverse army that Custodes was.
- WHICHEVER Loyalist SM chapter gets a Primarch. I DON’T FRIGGIN CARE WHICH ONE GRAAAAHHHH. I could make a case for every single one, and I just might do that for fun, but there’s 8 choices, 5 VERY easy (Lion, Russ, Corvus Corax, Khan) 1 pretty doable (Dorn, the lore is ALL over whether there’s a hand, a body, or any real proof at all) and 2 that would be hard but fun (Ferrus Manus and Sanguinius). Just pick one and give us another primarch! Or two! or eight!
- T’au. They may even need to be higher. Already one of the out of place armies, they don’t fit the lore very well (but in an interesting way at least) and both their storyline and their models could use some love. I don’t even think they need a LOT but they could use a little.
- Astra Militarum. With Cadia broken, a new Imperial Commander, and wars erupting everywhere, there has never been a time we needed a HUGE overhaul of the Imperial Guard lines. Heck they could even make it centered around the Ultramar Auxilia as likely they are the largest remaining provider of guard regiments, wouldn’t require a huge change from the Cadian themes and would still allow for very distinct updates to the line. Better heads and helmets mostly… Personally I’d like to see something different like Praetorian, Krieg, or Mordian regiments coming to the fore, heck a Highlander outfit could be a lot of fun to see. Just something new, different and exciting compared to the Catachan or Cadian armies that are the only even semi-affordable option.
- Demons and Nids. Demons need new rules for their models, and Nids need new models for the updated rules.
- Necrons. Not a top priority, but even ancient terrors can be long in the tooth. And they are.
- MOAR PRIMARCHS. Loyalist, Chaos, MOAR!
So I’m painting Napoleonics (slowly) studying IT certs, and reading a lot. I’m still following Games Workshop but I’ve been feeling increasingly unsatisfied with how they are doing things. Today they made an announcement that neatly encapsulates all my dislike and distrust of the current direction of their releases and the lore.
Marneus Calgar, reborn as a Primaris.
There’s three big problems with this release from where I sit, as a fan of classic marines, and Dark Angels / non-Ultramarines. First, it’s Marneus fucking Calgar. This is a character who, in both Lore and Crunch has been completely surpassed by the times. With Guilliman out, unless you’re playing a tiny battle, Calgar just isn’t necessary. He knows it too. Second, he’s an Ultramarine. I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent on this but the obsession GW has with ultramarines has gotten completely out of hand and NEEDS to be reined in. Rogue Trader and 1st Edition featured more of the Blood Angels than any other chapter (from GW) but the rulebook for Rogue Trader book featured Crimson Fists! 3rd edition featured Black Templar, but also had plenty for other chapters, in fact I believe most of the special characters we know and love were first released during 3rd. 4th was kind of the same as 3rd, 5th had Assault on Black Reach which was the first real deep dive into Ultramarines as the poster boys, 6th was back to Black Templar, 7th was my beautiful Dark Angels, and 8th… 8th has been ALL Ultramarines. Everyone else has gotten a codex and a Lieutenant. So yeah, Ultras get a chapter master, a Primarch, and a great chapter doctrine with amazing stratagems. Third, it’s a Primaris model directly replacing a classic marine model. So. Now we literally have Primaris marines replacing a classic marine option. This betrays a lot of long-term marine players.
Let me expand on that a bit. The reality of the business model puts a cap on how many kits any line can have. Space Marines have always probably been slightly over the limit to what they can profitably have. Space Marines have long been the poster boys of 40k. Every single edition has featured marines on the cover, there has never been a xenos cover, or even a Chaos Space Marine rulebook cover. It’s all Space Marines, all the time. Now Space Marines have 128 kits on the GW website, the largest non Imperial Marine faction is the Astra Militarum (Guard) at 67. After that it’s Orks at 60. That’s right, the largest non-Imperial faction has less than half what Space Marines have as far as kits. That’s a lot of variety, and a lot of redundancy. The niches that a lot of classic marine units fill can generally be filled by Primaris units. Outside of tanks, there’s still a lot of need for more Primaris vehicles. But that’s not enough reason to keep Marines as they are. There’s still some units that are unique, Terminators, Assault squads, and scouts stand out, and Terminators are an absolutely iconic unit for 40k. Then again, so was Calgar.
I look at the change in Calgar and I wonder if the sunset of my classic models is near. I have marines that have been in my collection nearly 30 years. When I look at increasing my investment in this hobby I wonder if it’s going to move in the same direction as other games where old models are pushed out of the meta, and eventually, possibly out of the game entirely. Will my Rogue Trader era marines eventually end up like the Brettonian Knights of Warhammer Fantasy?
So I finished my Dragoon Brigade. I made a bit of a mistake as I don’t think a single Yellow trimmed regiment of dragoons fought in Austria in 1809. Oops. Dragoons are actually probably going to end up being my least used type of cavalry in Fields of Glory. In General d’Armee it should see a lot more use.
I also got my officers, aides and hussars, which should see a LOT of use in both games. Tomorrow I have only a couple hours of work so I’ll get my artillery knocked out.
So this will leave me with the artillery, which should be done by tomorrow night, the Legere brigade, the Hussars, and staff. All told that’s 2 brigades and the equivalent of another (with all this being in FoG:N units). After that I will be looking at a light artillery unit (3 6-8 pound guns) some artillery attachments (horse artillery!) some light infantry attachments, (skirmishers/voltigeurs) a BIG Cuirassier brigade (6 bases, with attached officer, and probably the horse artillery) 24 more bases of Ligne (6 small or 4 large units).
This will net me a pretty respectable sized corps in Fields of Glory, and a good large division in General d’Armee. I’m also looking at a couple or potentially good changes outside gaming that will let me work on the community here and have more time to run a couple towns over where there’s an established group that meets every couple of months. Currently I have the General d’Armee book, but the FoG:N 2.0 book hasn’t quite come out yet, though I’m expecting it this month. Unless it’s unreasonably delayed I should have it in hand before I can head to the established group, but either way it does look like GdA will be a better one to use even if it’s more “narrative”.
Finally I’m going to talk a little bit about some things I really like about Napoleonics and both of these rulesets. One of the most important things to me is pageantry. I loved the way the battlelines of Warhammer Fantasy looked before Geedubs nuked it. I like the way ranks of toy soldiers look on the fields, and I really love the way the uniforms of historical figures look. The rules also tend to be very mature. The outcomes they are looking to generate are very understandable and predictable, the range of acceptable results is well defined, and the mechanics relatively straightforward. This isn’t something like 40k or AoS where mechanics will be radically different, the games are meant to work in a simple, understandable way without the flash and glamor of a more sci fi/fantasy game, and I’m ok with that. I want to recreate Austerlitz and Wagram and Talavera and Vimiero and Borodino, not the Siege of Terra. I mean, I DO want to re-create the Siege of the Golden Gate at some point, it would be a lot of fun, but I want something a bit more mature and deterministic rather than demons and primarchs.
So GW has kinda pissed me off of late. Their limp, unexciting releases, stirring around with problems with the rules while not actually addressing the root causes, just trying to patch over the problems. Despite the fact that they are WAY better than they’ve ever been in a lot of ways, I just don’t feel like giving them money. Especially when I have NO idea just what the heck will happen to Dark Angels (or any non-ultramarine chapters).
So I need to find something new.
So I’ve started Napoleonics. I’ve got the wonderful AB line of 18mm miniatures, and am planning an 1809 Army Corps from the big war with Austria. I’m looking at two rule sets, Fields of Glory: Napoleonic, a more competitively oriented ruleset currently being re-written down in Oz and VERY near publication, and General d’Armee, a ruleset that’s more detail oriented and narrative in scope from what I’ve seen. My area does have a historical group, they play a lot of games in the same basement where I first rolled dice in fact. But I won’t be playing games anytime soon, building a new army takes time, and basing these and going back to paint later just isn’t practical, so I’m going to do something I rarely do, take my time, work through my pile of shame.
So I’m going to talk a bit about what’s going on here. These figures don’t go one to a base, they go on in small units. Painting them lose is… well… not happening, so I attach them to dense cardboard so that I can paint them without going crazy. Er. Crazier.
Next I’m let’s talk about what’s in the picture, bottom to top.
- Two 12 lb cannons. French Heavy Artillery
- 12 French Dragoons. French Heavy Cavalry
- 24 Voltigeurs. French Light Infantry,
- 12 Horses. 4 legs, eat a lot, die if you look at them funny it seems.
- 24 Line Infantry, 8 artillery crew.
So this is 82 figures, and costs around 70 bucks. Compare that to a 40k army and you see some of the appeal. In Fields of Glory this is between 25% and 33% of an army.
There’s some odds and ends missing but again, in Fields of Glory this is a brigade each of Line Infantry, Light Infantry, Heavy Cavalry, and Heavy Artillery, without any attachments or officers. This would be a pretty substantial mixed division, although not one that would be legal for an 1809 French Army. So let’s see what all I’ve gotten done!
This week I’m finishing the Dragoons, probably with the 11e Regiment. Green collars and Red turnbacks.
Time permitting I’ll work on the artillery and knock them out as the uniforms aren’t terribly complicated and there’s only 8 of them and 2 guns. After that it’s the light infantry and then, round one is done. Next will be some light cavalry, officers, and aides de camp.
One of the things I like a lot about historicals is I can do a unit in a week with enough dedication without too much trouble. Even at a slower rate of one every other week it’s not awful. A typical army will have between 8 and 16 units in FOG:N. The one I’ve penciled in has 11 brigades, 5 attachments (single stands that go with other units) 3 division commanders, a corps commander, and 5 aides de camp. That’s roughly equivalent to 13 units, of which I’ve nearly got 2 done. I could have it done (money and time permitting) by New Years, and certainly by my birthday.
Which leaves the “then what” and, well, there’s a couple options, first is playing with the established group, which is infrequent and a good drive away, there’s playing with local players who haven’t started yet, some locals do have armies from before coming to my area, so starting a club shouldn’t be too hard. Of course there’s also the major cons, which would be VERY nice to attend should I get the option.
Next week look forward to the rest of the dragoons and maybe some redlegs! Who won’t have red legs because the general in favor of that uniform lost. Probably why they lost the war.
8th Edition Warhammer 40k has been out for a year, and I really think this has been the best year of 40k ever. In fact I don’t think it’s particularly close. GW had a perfect storm of plans, events, and actions that created an amazing year for them. It wasn’t all roses and love but things did play out very well for them. At the same time there has been a lull recently in 40k content and I, for one, am very ready for that drought to end and have been bending a lot of thought to what they probably will do, what they could do, and what they should do.
First the bad. Mechanically 8th edition needed to cut down on re-rolls, and invuln saves. It increased them and added mortal wounds. Which it has spent a year fixing and still has some fine tuning. I think doubling down on these mechanics and adding another one to try to balance things hasn’t worked, and is unlikely to work. We will see how this plays out but I think this is still a case of “less is more” from a balance standpoint, and a speed standpoint. Spam and army variation has been a problem, it’s hardly new but it actually makes me long for the days of formations. This is as much a factor of information access. Everyone can find the good builds very quickly and there’s nothing GW can do about it.
Storywise, nothing has happened since release. The Konor campaign spun the wheels and since then there’s been a deafening silence. To give you an idea how little things have moved, the Crimson Fists destruction was retconned forward to happen right before Guilliman brought out the Primaris. So LITERALLY the first major lore event in 40k is also now one of the most recent. That is actually pretty representative of things since 8th has come out. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Line wise things were very good for certain people. If you liked the Imperium you probably got something you really liked. Primaris marines are generally good models. Death Guard have some fantastic models. None of the Aeldari races got new models, just new names. Tau, Nids, Grey Knights, Non-Death Guard CSM, Necrons, got no new models. There have been some “Wow” models but a lot of missed opportunities as well.
Finally communication has been really uneven. GW likes to try to keep the hype train running. This has resulted in some forced hype moments. Like the Blood/Dark Angels “BIG” announcement that was… a couple non special character Lieutenants. This after the previous chapters to get a codex had Primarchs. Similar hype surrounded the Eldar, with dismal results. I think GW would be better served to stick to the facts rather than creating bubbles of disappointment. If we aren’t getting anything, at least don’t lie to us about it.
Now on to the good.
Mechanically 40k is MUCH easier to play and understand than before. Both because of streamlining of the rules and a steady stream of FAQs and Errata clarifying and balancing things on the fly. This system has worked great for companies like Privateer Press and GW’s adaptation has generated great results for the company. There’s not a lot to really add to this, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot of improvement. This is a great time to play the game, it’s simpler than ever, straightforward, and fun.
The story moved. It may have stopped again, but for the first time ever, the story moved in a meaningful manner. I think a lot of people would like to see it move more, and I’m one of them, but we have to remember it has moved.
We’ve gotten a LOT of new models. More than a dozen types of Primaris Marines, including troops, characters and vehicles. The amazing Death Guard Line. Some of the most intricate and interesting models. Some new Thousand Sons models. The entire Custodes line. The new knights. There’s some really amazing models that have come out, and that doesn’t even cover all the terrain that we’ve seen.
Now GW has done a complete 180 on communication. They used to communicate only in the vaguest of terms and generally in a very high handed manner. Now they’ve completely gone the other way, they communicate through people who love the game and want to push information out to us. The rumor sites have more or less been relegated to trying to extrapolate from the pretty simple straightforward announcements GW puts out themselves, and their predictions have gotten even less accurate as time has gone by. This has also included participation by a lot of staff in social media. Gav Thorpe and ADB can be found on Facebook and Reddit, and they are engaging with fans in a way I find to be very positive, especially on the topics of decency and inclusivity. Of particular note is their response to the angry clutching of pearls concerning the Warhammer Adventures kids books. I’ll share a tweet from Gav regarding the snide comments about Slaanesh:
For those wondering how Warhammer Adventures ‘will deal with Slaanesh’ remember that Slaanesh is god of all types of excess. For any ‘kid-friendly’ version just go trick-or-treating with a hyped 4-year old.
The results of all this are pretty straightforward. More people playing 40k than ever. My FLGS has basically got 2 dedicated 40k nights (Sunday and Monday) the Warhammer store has gone from being a nearly forgotten basement dwelling mall store to a destination that nearly always has people in it, even during the week. GW has reported its highest profits ever, and has chosen to spend a good portion of that rewarding their employees, which is nice to see these days.
So here we are, GW has pumped the brakes a bit, pushed AoS for a while, and now we hope they turn their focus back to 40k. We know the next two books are going to be Space Wolves and Orks. This will leave only the Sisters Codex for next year in the “known but unreleased” category, and that is safely down the road. Which means we are mostly off the map when it comes to future releases.
I’m going to guess Orks will get some new models. We’ve seen some hints with pictures of blurry models so far, similar to the kinds we saw presaging Mortarion’s release. I doubt they’ll get anything that big, but a Prime-Ork version of Ghazghkull Thraka would be amazing. I hope we see another couple of other units as it leads into something I hope GW does in general going forward. We’ve seen less in the way of clues for the Space Wolves. I don’t think we’ll see Russ. There’s been no buildup, no hints, no hype. This close to release they would have completely changed the playbook to have a Primarch show up with so little lead time. I imagine we’ll see a Primaris Lieutenant but it seems unlikely they’ll get much more than the Dark Angels and Blood Angels got. I do think we’ll see points updates and stratagems that should put them on par or even slightly better than the other non-vanilla marines given the increased importance of melee in 40k and the generally fantastic mobility and melee ability Space Wolves have organically.
Beyond that the map is pretty blank. I think we’ll see another campaign. It has been about a year since the Konor campaign. I would love to see another and better support for it. Models similar to the ones for the recent AoS campaign would be nice, maybe a bit more tightly focused given how factions work. A nice example might be a free for all with Orks and Nids overrunning a Tomb World with Eldar attempting to meddle and Tau caught in the crossfire. Each faction gets a unit, maybe the Doom of Mal’antai for Nids, a new lord for the Crons, maybe a crazy Big Mek for the Orks, Harlequins can get a special character, and maybe a kroot character for Tau. Something that mixes things up without being a necessary centerpiece for the army, similar to AoS.
Around Christmas I’d like to see an ACTUAL big release. A Primarch would fit the bill perfectly and I really would be scratching my head if GW doesn’t have one for us this holiday season. This time the script has been flipped between the Lion and Russ. They won’t do a Russ model after the codex, they’d do it WITH the codex. Even though 5 months could separate the codex from Christmas, that’s still an awkward gap with very little filling it for 40k. I think another campaign, this one between the Imperium and Chaos would be very nice during or after the holidays. And GW really needs to have some nice big models to put under the trees/bushes. I’d love to see the Lion, Abaddon and Lorgar. Preferably as part of 3 new triumvirate boxes. The Lion, with Lion El’Johnson, Ibrahim Gaunt, and a new Cannoness for the Sisters. The Bearer of the Word with Lorgar, Erebus, and Argel Tal. Yes I realize he’s dead. Do you think the Ruinous Powers care given how many times various other heroes have been brought up? Could you imagine the fun that would come from having Tal return as a rival to Erebus? Narratively I think it’s a very fun idea. The final box has Abaddon, Kharn, and Honsou.
This is a lot more space marines in a game flooded with them, but it gives a very wide spread of characters. The Lion gives the DA a beat stick with some buffing (think super-Azrael) while Gaunt could play some fun buff/debuff games and, hell a new Cannoness to boost those acts of faith sisters get could be amazing. Lorgar would be the Chaos version of Guilliman, lots of buffs, meh in combat for his power level. Erebus makes Asmodai seem tame and sane, while Tal hands out small buffs but also has the ability to throw out serious damage when possession strikes. Kharn is Kharn, and Honsou gives the Iron Warriors some badly needed love. Abby needs an update, not just a new model, a new raison d’etre. Whether they make him a super buffstick, a super beatstick, or an endless CP battery, he needs to have something unique and distinctive, as well as some fluff explaining how all the Chaos Primarchs haven’t just gotten tired of his miserable failures yet.
Finally, GW has gotten a lot better at communication. There’s still issues. No one outside the family has any idea what the hell is going on with Forgeworld paring down its lines. Mid to Long-term plans aren’t being put out there, and all the communication is one-way. There’s no back and forth, either we communicate with them and we don’t see action (although things may change) or they communicate with us and any response we generate seems to hit a wall. However this is worlds better than the old regime, which seemed to consist of the company treating their customers and fans like an annoyance rather than a stakeholder. We are getting great videos on a regular basis helping with the hobby and gaming side. We are getting announcements (a week out) regarding upcoming releases and both a website and social media presence that seems to be much more in line with the customer service reps in GW’s mail-order service.
So here’s to a good year done, and here’s to another one. Let’s hope they continue to improve!
Bors barreled his way through the hallways of the Chaos-infested ship. The mockery of his Imperium fed his rage and the massive thunder hammer in his hand provided his only outlet. He smashed at the thralls and traitor marines with equal abandon, the cataclysmic smashing of his weapon echoing on the bare metal. Behind him, the inceptors of Sergeant Uriah towered, their massive armor letting them see clean over their smaller brother, and their twin assault bolters hammered any knots of resistance, paving the way for the white-hot fury of the Lieutenant.
Bors lived two lives on the ship. At once the winged angel of vengeance, hammer and combi-melta dealing out potent justice to the traitors and at the same time a detached, brilliant commander of half of a company of the Emperor’s finest. Swiftly he pushed his force along, corralling the enemy into a trap to be sprung at the perfect moment. Bors knew in his hearts that the 5th was his. He had served in the Ravenwing and the Deathwing, rising to be a sergeant in the Deathwing Knights, he had been on the cusp of rising to be the Master of the 5th when Guilliman had turned his interest to the Unforgiven and asked very pointed questions that had changed everything. He did not blame Master Cain or Supreme Grand Master Azrael. He knew the pressures and demands both worked under, and he was not a weak mind to suffer jealousy. He served his Master and his Legion to the limit of his abilities, and his limits were very high indeed.
He checked the position of his demi-company one last time before plunging down a side passage. Scattering the thralls and crew of the ship they broke onto a gantry overlooking a wide gallery. Behind him the Inceptors stomped around to cover the other entrances with their rapid fire, short ranged assault bolters. The smaller Astartes tactical squads and Primaris inceptor squad in the demi company lined the railing, while the two Devastator squads lined up on either side of the Lieutenant. One of the devastator squads carried the Plasma Cannons so beloved by the Dark Angels. The other carried missile launchers and Multi-Meltas. They stood at the inboard bulkhead, facing down at the back of the bulkhead of the room just inboard of the rest of the company.
“Fire” ordered Bors over the Vox. The powerful melta guns roared, missiles screamed from the launchers, and the bulkhead shattered under the assault. The Iron Warriors on the other side of the bulkhead were some of the toughest defenders, and most determined attackers, of all the astartes created, but they didn’t shift between plans easily. Undisturbed they could have mown down Cain’s company as they broke out from their lodgement. Now they faced heavy weapons in superior position thanks to Bors swift assault. They began to move, but the rest of Bors strike force got in a massive first salvo. The Plasma guns launched blue bursts of starfire while the Bolters and Bolt Rifles of the marines lining the sides engaged targets bereft of cover, many still facing the wrong way.
Another roar announced that Master Cain had launched his breakout. Bolter and Plasma Incinerator fire smashed into the barricades, forcing the Iron Warriors to hug their fragile shields or risk a certain death. A monstrously huge traitor legionnaire, with an armature similar to a techmarine bellowed and gestured, physically dragging some of his men into a makeshift line to offer some opposition to Bors’ fire. The Iron Warriors shook off their stunned surprise and while some executed the old plan, pouring a withering fire into Cain’s troops, still hidden by the remains of the bulkhead the rest brought their weapons to bear on the more vulnerable devastators, whose lighter armor and less resilient bodies could take far less punishment than the newer Primaris.
“Uriah, follow me! Jubal, Zebediah, cover the doorways. For the Lion! For the Emperor!” he barked brandishing his hammer before igniting his jump pack to launch himself into the enemy leader. He felt the massive impact of the inceptors as they rode their own columns of blue flame to the lower level, trying to unseat the enemy before they could truly settle in. Bors swung his hammer down even as he landed, catching the traitor Warsmith on his knee, shattering it and his lower leg. The veteran of the long war didn’t flinch, the long mechanical arm on his back grabbed the wing on Bors’ assault pack shoving him back while the chainaxe the warrior carried swung in a brutal arc. A quick mental command from Bors unclipped the ornamental wings and he ducked the axe, losing half the back of his helmet to the close call. Stunned a moment he still rolled with the blow and came up swinging, pulping a hand of the traitor before standing with a flourish, with a brutal, simple waist high uppercut swing, smashing under the armpit of his enemy. The thunder hammer discharged, shattering armor and ribcage as the traitorous leader exploded in a shower of viscera and armor.
Even as his opponent fell he grabbed his combi weapon from the mag lock on his thigh and vaporized the head of a Iron Warrior lining up on Master Cain, leading a rush of intercessors and Assault Marines to try to unify the company. Within moments a flurry of blades and bolter fire the company stood together.
“Master Cain” Bors intoned with a bow of his head.
“Brother. You and your men take the honors today I think.”
Lieutenant Nabbuk walked up, still punching information into his arm computer. “Master, Lieutenant, we have accounted for nearly two hundred and fifty traitor astartes, and at least a thousand thralls. Assuming this ship lost some men on the planet I do not think they have more than 50 astartes on board, and we can sweep the thralls away with small arms. Might I suggest we cripple the ship before withdrawing?”
Cain looked at him, then at Bors. “Lieutenant, your team will hold here. I will be with you, but I’m giving Sergeant Uriah to Lieutenant Nabbuk. He will take the other strike force to the engine room to rig demolition charges. When they are on the way back your force will extract by Thunderhawk, there should be enough time for a round trip that will let the entire force extract smoothly.”
Bors looked at the Master for a moment, then at Nabbuk before nodding and going to order his troops into position to cover the bridgehead. Bors knew he had led his men that day and many others, and that Nabbuk must prove his mettle, commanding without close supervision if his men were to trust him, and even a mission against the light opposition expected would give the much less experienced officer some seasoning.
As the reinforced strike team marched aft Bors knelt behind cover, popping off his savaged helmet. Not seeing Master Cain approaching.
“Are you wounded brother?” asked the Master, not used to seeing any of his men unhelmed in a combat situation.
“No, master, not a hair on my head is disturbed.”
“… You shave your head brother.”
“Then I do not lie. That traitor nearly tried to get at the ones still below the skin though. Another centimeter or two and he might have found a way to make me a liar.”
Master Cain shook his head. The sons of the Lion did not offer much humor, and it seemed jarring when it happened. Indeed Bors reminded him much of the sons of Russ he had served with amongst the unnumbered sons. Looking over the hastily established, nearly impregnable defenses Bors had established he could hardly argue he was any less than a full Son of the Lion, as he continued to prove with every plan, with every battle, with every duel. The heavy weapons had commanding fields of fire, yet were well protected by barricades. Their blind spots, the few that existed, were overlooked by full squads, ready to catch anyone trying to sneak up on the big guns in a hail of bolter shells. In the back of the defense, sheltered in a large barricade were a squad of veteran astartes, carrying a meltagun, and Sergeant Elias, who for this battle had brought a grav gun and power axe of his own. Cain already knew that if any attack threatened to break the line Bors would lead this force into combat, the small group carrying far more firepower than their numbers would indicate, and the acumen of the two leaders would see it employed to the fullest.
Champion Joab stood, unmoving, at the very forefront of the boarding torpedo. Already he pressed against the harness locking him in place, the front of his helmet nearly kissing the blast panel that separated him from the potent melta-charge ready to bore a hole through the hull of their target. His right hand held a massive blade from ancient Caliban. His left a shield, blessed and carefully worked, incorporating a heavy bolt pistol enabling him to vent his fury even outside the press and cut of melee.
Joab epitomised the Astartes of the Fifth in a way even Bors couldn’t. Bors outpaced them, faster, tougher, smarter, he eclipsed them clearly, almost as much as their new Primaris brothers. Their soul rested with Ancient Uriah, his banner as much a part of him as his heart or his black carapace. Joab was their avatar. The incarnation of their combative spirit.
Outside the Deathwing, the Dark Angels bore a reputation as a stolid, conservative fighting force, a moving wall of firepower, reducing their enemies to ash as they implacably advanced, or a perfect bastion of defence, sweeping away any who dared take the offensive against them. While there was truth to this, it was not the whole truth. The Dark Angels could eagerly take the offensive, unleashing devastating firepower and crushing close quarters attacks with more than the Deathwing. They lack the primal lust for carnage of the Blood Angels or the Space Wolves, or the preternatural stealth of the Raven Guard, but their tactical precision and tightly controlled fury, properly channeled, gave them their own unique flair for close combat.
Joab didn’t move. Didn’t fidget as many warriors, even Astartes might do before battle. His blade pointed straight down by his leg. His shield held at an angle, covering his body, ready to snap into aim should a target present himself. The only sign of incipient combat came from the aura around him. The air around him seemed hot and close, even in the chill atmosphere the Dark Angels preferred for their ships. The first warriors behind him seemed almost to undulate, first leaning into their idol, then away from his towering contempt and rage.
Cain stood behind the honor guard selected by Sergeant Shamgar. The Primaris didn’t know what to make of Joab. The torpedo rocked to the rhythm of the incoming fire. The rest of Shamagar’s men stood behind Cain. Sergeant Shamgar had been ordered to the “slack” position at the rear, charged with ensuring no opening was left unguarded, no opportunity missed in the first flurry of combat.
The odd, warbling, hollow peal of the warning bell sounded, cutting through the noise of the torpedo. Cain and Shamgar both intoned “10 seconds to launch.”
Joab didn’t move. The rest of the boarding squad braced, even Cain, veteran as old as the metal of Caliban in Joab’s hand unconsciously braced himself against the unimaginable force.
Some fraction of eternity later a hammer of force smashed the torpedo free of its launch tube. Joab didn’t move. Sensors and relays embedded in the hull of the torpedo gave them information. Peleg had pressed close, every torpedo carried an unbelievably precious cargo and Peleg had sacrificed greatly among her ship and crew to ensure they struck home. Scarce 10 seconds from launch, within seconds of the torpedo’s engine guttering out the bell pealed again.
“FIVE SECONDS” called Cain, even his normally controlled voice pitched louder as combat neared. The party leaned into their harnesses, preparing for the immense crash as the torpedo struck.
Joab didn’t move.
The light cut out and suddenly Joab’s sword was point up, so fast a soft crack cut through the cacophony of battle. A moment later the small torpedo struck the Iron Warriors cruiser, burrowing deep before the melta charge burned through As the panel disintegrated, cut to shrapnel by precise charges, Joab, unleashed, raced into the confusion.
The two Iron Warriors in the room never stood a chance, even the stolid sons of Perturabo took a moment to recover from the catastrophic blast of a boarding torpedo. Ignoring the few surviving mortals Joab ran his blade under the arm of one, the point emerging from the other as he finally triggered the generator of the relic power sword, the initial energy discharge detonating the chest cavity and armor of the millenia old warrior he had just reduced to gore and scrap. The bolt pistol in his shield barked twice, reducing the unhelmed head of the other Iron Warrior to a gory wreck before the first Primaris lifted a foot to join him.
Within moments the squad flooded the chamber, combat blades and boots silencing forever the mortals still struggling to comprehend the calamity that had befallen their fortress in the void. Beacons bloomed as the rest of the boarding parties reported and Joab turned to follow the icon Cain had selected as the rally point for the party. A large gallery that each team should be able to reach quickly. Shield raised to just under his eyes, blade up and back, ready strike Joab ran the corridors as if he’d lived a lifetime in this ship.
Joab flowed down the corridors his legs a blur, his upper body rolling in the graceful rhythm of a swordsmen, always in perfect balance over his hips. They erupted into the first blocking position the Iron Warriors tried to put in their way, almost a score of veterans of the long war, hastily but precisely building their defense. They were not set when Joab erupted into their midst. His blade flickered and danced, he moved with precisely controlled violence, denying the Iron Warriors a chance to fire at the Primaris emerging behind him while opening precise lanes for the Primaris to lay down the withering fire of their Bolt Rifles. Any Iron Warrior hefting his bolter found himself using it to fend off a blade, anyone reading a blade found himself exposed to the fire erupting down the passage.
Suddenly an eruption of violence throws the Primaris back. A champion of the Iron Warriors and his escort bursts in from a corridor, throwing back the two Primaris covering that corridor. One crumpled, a giant power axe cleaving deep into his chest and erupting from his back. A shower of gore exploded through the room as the top of his torso flopped loosely, held by a shard of armor and a flap of flesh and gristle. The other warrior went down grappling with his assailant, combat blade and chainsword cutting at adamantium armor. The other Iron Warrior came at Cain, his Plasma pistol scorching deep into Cain’s shoulder pad, he felt the burn on his flesh underneath, smelled the charred flesh. He caught the Power Axe as it swung down on him, enfolding its haft with his power fist and snapping it. Cain jammed his own pistol under the chin of the Cultist Astartes and pulled the trigger.
Joab turned from his last victim and brought his blade up in swift salute to the traitor champion. Snapping the blade down he hefted his shield, angling it precisely. The Iron Warrior brandished his own blade. “IRON WITHIN, IRON WITHOUT!” he bellowed and swung his blade down.
Joab leaned to one side, catching the hook of the axe with the top of his shield and hooking the champion forward. His own blade cut down sharply, cutting deep into the thigh of the warrior under the armor. Strangely orange blood showered the deck.
“Blood within, scorn without!” called Joab, spinning around, hauling the axe down with his shield and decapitating the champion with a single, swift blow.
“Master Cain, Strike Force Bors requesting a landing beacon. Our escort is heavily engaged and we cannot remain in the defense envelope of the cruiser much longer.”
Cain focused on the overlay a moment. His force stood less than 30 meters from the rally point, the other boarding squads already occupied it. “Bors, they will counterattack momentarily. Breach the hull here,” he caused a beacon to blossom on a higher deck. “And bring your firepower to bear on them in the galleries inward and below your entry point.”
Joab stood still as a statue by the corridor forward, Shamgar and two of his squad stood at the rear. “Onward brothers, it will not be long before the Iron Warriors attack our lodgement. We will form the shield for them to strike, Bors will be the hammer to shatter their forces.” Without cheer or exaltation, Joab swung into motion, leading them into their fortress.
Master Cain sat in the command throne, his battleplate interfaced with the ships systems, projecting a constant stream of data across his faceplate. The only data his eyes sought was the countdown to emergence. Somehow the transit, one that should have taken barely a week, had stretched over two long months.
“Sensors, full scan, Vox, raise the planet and any ships in the vicinity. I must know what has happened in our absence.” He carefully retained his seat. His eagerness could already be sensed in his voice, he did not care to add his physical presence to the nervous serfs of the crew.
Shipmaster Peleg, evicted from her command chair had selected a position by the sensorium. The powerful screens, scopes and sensors quickly gathered information and the servitors evaluated it. Peleg jerked upright. “Master Cain! Mordia has… changed.” She chewed the word, sounding repulsed by what she saw. Cain selected the scope observing the planet and felt his gorge rise. The planet seemed to undulate. Shimmering waves of color passed across the terminator, patterns that whispered in his head, promising knowledge, wisdom beyond measure, secrets unknown ripe for the plucking. He turned off the screen.
“Scan the other planets. Focus on Luminaria.”
Peleg forced herself jerkily to close off the view of Mordia. As soon as that scope slewed away she snapped upright, shoulders back, another stab of her fingers brought up the view of Luminaria.
“Shrine World of Luminaria looks… Luminaria stands!” Another few switches and everyone could see the shrine world glowing, surrounded by fire as fleets battled.
“Vox, raise Luminaria, now. Any identification on those ships?”
“Working now Master” came the call from the young officer at the Vox station.
“Helm, bring us in, Polar orbit for now.” He keyed his vox to the network for the troops onboard “Warriors of the Fifth! Mordian has fallen, but Luminaria stands! We will deploy immediately to support her defender against the foe, and determine what has happened during out overlong transit. All hands to drop stations. Bors your blade will stand by to deploy by drop pod to clear a landing zone should we need one, Nabbuk we will go in by Thunderhawk once Bors has cleared the way.” Two clicks on the vox were his only answer, the subnets spiked with activity as his Lieutenants quickly changed his orders into action.
“Master Cain, Blade of Vengeance is hailing us.”
“Open channel. This is Master Cain of the Dark Angels leading the 5th Battle Company. We are inbound to support your forces,”
“Well met Cain, I am Captain Tybahlt. I am not sure what you know, but Mordian has fallen, corrupted by Chaos, the foul sorcerers of Magnus have turned it into their plaything. The Iron Warriors have destroyed most of Luminaria. The Iron Guard defends the last few shrines. We are trying to pull them out but the Iron Warriors have the planet under tight control. We have destroyed several ships, but both our fleets have suffered heavy damage. You and your escorts might cut a way through. How many boarding torpedoes do you have?”
Peleg threw a switch, tagging the information for his attention. “6, 2 Thunderhawks, and fighters for escort. One of our escort brings several Ravenwing pilots with it, they can cover us.”
“Excellent. I will alert Lord Astorath. We should have targets by the time you enter strike range. For now plan on that Grand Cruiser being your boarding target. For the Emperor!”
“For the Emperor” Again he swapped channels. “Brothers! Our cousins the Blood Angels have been fighting a long battle, and the Mordians a longer one. They cannot hold even with our help. Astorath and the Blood Angels wish us to help them, evacuate the survivors of this system. We will cut open a path, and the Blood Angels will escort them free. Nabbuk, bring your troops to the boarding torpedoes. Bors, prepare the Thunderhawks for breaching actions. You have 10 minutes.”
Bors responded almost instantly. “Master Cain, We can handle the initial boarding!”
“I know Bors, but you have most of our firepower and I need to know where to bring it in before committing it. The Iron Warriors will have turned that ship into a fortress, and we will have limited time to cripple it. I will lead the initial boarding with Nabbuk, and plant beacons for your Thunderhawks to strike. Keep the fighters with you for cover, and husband your forces carefully. The Iron Warriors are tenacious fighters and will whittle you down at every chance.”
“I… Yes Master Cain. You are correct.” Bors clicked off the channel and began issuing his own orders.
“Shipmaster Peleg!” Cain said over his speakers.
“Master Cain.” Peleg braced to formal attention, the tall woman coming almost to Cain’s armpit.
“The ship is yours, deliver us to boarding range of the Grand Cruiser, my men will board and cripple her. Smash aside her escorts, and alert us if other ships seek to intervene. We must open a way for the transports that will be fleeing the planet soon. Serve the First Legion well today Shipmaster.”
“As always, Master Cain.” Peleg said evenly. Making the sign of the Aquila across her chest she turned to the crew. “General quarters. All hands rig for close combat and boarding. Bosun, send all available crew to the batteries, and ensure ammunition feeds are ready. Engines, prepare for full burn as soon as Master Cain signals readiness. Helm, I want a course ready to take us close enough to the Grand Cruiser to damn well walk to her. Her gun batteries might reach a long way but they traverse like they are encased in lead…” Her voice cut off as Cain left the bridge. Cain hustled now, Nabbuk should be nearly ready and the range to the cruiser was already closing. As Cain approached the torpedo room he slowed, striding through with the careful pace of a swordsman.
“Master Cain, the target is the Ferrous Malice. A Repulsive class, or close enough, lots of long range firepower. We approach her head on, 3 minutes to contact.”
“Board the torpedoes brothers. It won’t be long before Peleg delivers us into battle.”