Dark Angels Codex Wishlist

So one of the next 2 codexes will be the Dark Angels.  I’m excited to get a codex, as they make armies far more competitive and grant a lot more depth.  However I’m also disappointed because I feel it means we are unlikely to get much in the way of new models.

I’m going to break this list down into three things.  Things I expect to see, things I’ll be interested to see, and things I want to see but don’t really expect.

Things I Expect to See

Plasma trait / Stratagem – Similar to how Salamanders get re rolls with their flamers and meltas, I think the Dark Angels should get some kind of bonus to show their expertise with Plasma weaponry.  Whether this takes the form of a stratagem allowing them to fire supercharged without worrying about dying, or simply allowing re-rolls on wounds or something similar will be interesting, but I firmly expect this to be in the codex.

Older marks of Terminator Armor – I really don’t understand how this wasn’t part of the index anyway.  The only chapter with more terminator armor is the Grey Knights, and they are ridiculous mary sues anyway.  Lacking the fun and interesting older marks just feels wrong and I know a lot of Dark Angels players would love to include them in their armies for more than a cosmetic change.

Interromancy powers will debuff everything – The only faction with more debuffs will be Eldar.  I expect minus to hit, minus to charge, and minus to leadership at least.  Facing Dark Angels librarians should be a pain in the ass more than anything else.  Debuffs can make the game not fun for your opponent, but it’s super fluffy for Dark Angels to debilitate their foe before crushing them.

Things I’ll be Interested to See

Azrael changes – Azrael is a hair behind Guilliman right now.  His ability to grant re-rolls to hit to any UNIT within 6″ is crazy.  Added to 4++ save granted to any MODEL within 6″ he becomes a bubble master and an auto include in any competitive army.  He’s also pretty damn deadly in both shooting and melee.  Keep him safely off the front line until it’s time to uncork him and he’s a threat to anything with his D3 wounds and mortal wounds added in melee, not to mention some very good shooting going in.  Oh and bonus CP just for taking him when most other chapters LOSE CP to take a chapter master!  But should he really be that close in power to a friggin Primarch?  No.  I don’t know if he’ll actually be nerfed though.  I’ve been of the opinion that you could make him much more reasonable by changing his bubbles to read “Infantry Unit” and “Infantry Model” as the Dark Angels aren’t particularly known for their armored units prowess.  It also matters whether or not the Lion shows up.  If the Lion makes it in changes to Azrael become much less important as in most tournament army sizes I’d expect the Lion to be the default choice unless he’s awful.

New units – A plasma-based tank would be a lot of fun.  So far we have a land speeder and…. a land speeder.  The bikes can take plasma guns.  The flyer… can’t.  A predator with a plasma cannon could be fun.  Plasma Land Raider to carry around the deathwing would be AMAZING.  I already mentioned older suits of terminator armor.

Primaris Integration – Now the big one.  The most untrusting of chapters being forced to integrate hundreds of new “brothers” whose training and indoctrination they didn’t control.  I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Azrael and the inner circle let the first crop of Primaris advance beyond Sergeant or Lieutenant.  I do think they will be put in untenable positions over and over until nearly all are killed, then the Dark Angels will demand full control over creating and training the next generation to fix the “flaws” in the process that resulted in high casualty rate.  However the current game takes place 120+ years after the return of Guilliman so that would be in the past in either case.  By now there would be veterans advancing in knowledge and skill to where they should be moved into the Ravenwing or Deathwing.  Aggressor marines could be used as Deathwing fairly straight up, although the lack of melee ability that Aggressor’s suffer from would make them a flawed choice.  For the Ravenwing… there’s no bikes, and while I, personally, love Inceptor units, especially decked out with Plasma cannons, I’m not sure they fit in the hunt.  Will we start seeing Primaris bikes (RIP all other bikes) or Primaris Land Speeders?  Will we see something else?  I hope we see a lot of effort put into this thorny issue rather than a hand-wave.

Things I Want, but Don’t Expect

The Lion – There’s not enough time to build much hype, and I’ve heard from folks I trust that the odds of a Primarch coming out this year are really low.  I also really don’t expect the codex to come out with the Primarch limping out a month or two later, so if we get the Lion, it will likely be after a considerable wait, and most likely after the story has advanced a good bit.  I think the game needs more Imperial Primarchs, I think the story needs them, and frankly, I think GW’s business needs them.  Even with the release of Guilliman, I suspect Ultramarines are behind the Dark Angels and Space Wolves, and only inching ahead of Blood Angels as they have been in a bad spot and getting worse in 8th.  I also suspect that if I picked up some Ultramarine models and scraped off a bit of paint there’s a different color underneath.

Contemptor Dreadnoughts – I want them.  We won’t get them.  Just not something the chapter has ever been known for.

Bring back the old wings – There used to be 6 “wings” in the Dark Angels Legion.  I think chapters will get larger and larger, and the simplest solution to the problem of where to put more experienced Primaris would be to put them in their own wings.  An Ironwing and a Stormwing for the Primaris would be an interesting way to increase the diversity of the Chapter, without necessarily bringing them fully in, and continuing the theme of distrust.

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Last Son of Caliban: Tempering the Blade

Cain looked at his gathered Sergeants.  Sergeant Uriah, leader of the Inceptor squad had half his armor off, his face grey as his massively enhanced body fought to recover from the wounds that peppered his shoulder and upper torso.  The other Primaris sergeants stood tense, unsure even after the battle, while the older sergeants of the astartes stood relaxed, glancing around at the wreckage they had created, or watched the guardsmen collecting prisoners, or executing those too wounded to be worth interrogating.

Cain finished reviewing the battle on his display and looked at two of his sergeants.  “Micah, Shamgar, your troops were excessively slow deploying from their transport, and re-embarking to displace.  They selected adequate targets but took far too long shifting between targets once they had acquired one.  Their accuracy was good, but speed is everything brothers.”  Micah and Shamgar clenched fist to breastplate in acknowledgement of the rebukes.  He turned to the next sergeants on his list “Obed, your men deployed too far from their Rhino to re-embark swiftly, they also kept firing too long after the order to re-embark was given.”  Obed nodded sharply.

“Jonah, your men are equipped to take on vehicles, yet more than 40% of their fire was spent on soft targets while there were still tanks and bunkers to be destroyed.  Rectify this.  We can’t have Sgt Maacah punching out tanks all the time for us.”  Jonah grimaced at the rebuke, clenching his fist to his chest.  “Uriah, your men performed well, have them work on their reloading drill to better maintain their fire.  In fact every Primaris squad spent too much time reloading, and frequently had two, three, or even four of their brothers reloading at once.  Fire must be maintained brothers.  We cannot be outnumbered and not firing.”  He paused, eyes leveled at the assembled leaders.  “Lieutenant Bors, set up a series of exercises for the vehicle crews.  They need to be able to pick a route efficiently and there was far, far too much hesitation in their movements.  Especially the Repulsors.  They are hover tanks for the Emperor’s sake, how are Rhinos outmaneuvering them?”

He turned on the Guard officer who had tried to slink up behind him “And you Colonel.  The plan was for you to wait until ordered in.  My force cannot leave this planet unless there are adequate loyalists here to ensure security behind us.  You endangered that with your early charge.”  Colonel Peak looked at him a moment, face paling.

“Master Cain, you left my men none of the glory.  Your plan would have had them sitting and watching while he only good fight in the campaign was fought.  You would have us sit out the greatest battle and then spend a decade policing the hinterlands?”

“Yes Colonel, that is exactly what I would have you do, for if not your guardsmen, then my company would have to wait for another force to arrive, and that could takes years.  You would have a company of the Dark Angels sit idle for years, just for your men to claim some imagined glory executing traitors?”

Zadok pinged Cain, no verbal message, just a chime for his attention.  Cain looked closer at Peak, remembered he was dealing with mortals.

“But your men fought bravely and well.  We would be honored to fight with them again.  Your vehicle crews especially fought with determination, and your Ogryns were a hammer in the Emperor’s hand.”  He said, struggling to find the words to mollify the Colonel.

“Thank you Master Cain” she said simply, straightening to attention and offering a flowery salute.  Cain returned it with a simple gauntlet to his chest, turning to dismiss his sergeants.

Lieutenant Bors and Colonel Peak remained behind.  Bors looked back and forth between the two officers and gestured for Colonel Peak to step aside a moment.  She glared at him, before stepping a few feet away and passing on some orders over her vox bead.

“Master Cain.  The new folks need… They need some balance.  We all know they aren’t performing as well as the rest of the company.  You’ve got squads whose youngest trooper has 50 years fighting the Emperor’s wars.  Your oldest Primaris Sergeant has less than 20.  Half of them are on their first campaign with a battle company.”  The tough old veteran just topped over the Company Master’s shoulders, but his presence, and the weight of centuries of experience pressed down on Cain.

“Lieutenant, I’m not going to lie to these men about their performance.”

Bors held up a hand “I’m not saying to do that Master, but you should couch your criticism a bit more carefully.  Your words could be a mace or a scalpel.  You don’t need to crush them down, you need to cut out the weakness.”  He paused a moment.  “A leader can guide, or he can push.  The Unforgiven need guidance, not shoving.”

Cain paused a moment.  The spoke carefully “Guilliman brought back the rank of Lieutenant to fill in the gaps in leadership.  He wanted line officers to lead strike forces, and he wanted leaders to watch the back of Captains who couldn’t see everything at once.  The Unforgiven have not wholeheartedly embraced the rank, but I think, today, that you have proven his wisdom Bors.  Thank you.”  He finished haltingly.  He looked down.  “Tonight we’ll have a feast.  You are right about one thing, this was the first battle for many of our Primaris in the Fifth. We will feast the start of the campaign.  Celebrate their success; and afterwards I’ll have a word with the Sergeants.”

Lieutenant Bors snapped to attention; crashed his fist hard to his breastplate and spun away, already dictating orders to their accompanying serfs to ready the feast.  Cain looked over his shoulder, catching Peak turning away “And you and your company commanders can join us Colonel.  I am not skilled at the diplomacy and the art of dealing with our mortal allies.  We are leaving you to a hard, long, difficult task, with no glory, you are correct.  You deserve your moment of honor, and I regret my harsh words.”

Colonel Peak looked at him a moment “Thank you Master Cain.  We look forward to your hospitality.  With your permission, some of my men distinguished themselves today.  I beg the honor to present them to you at this feast.”  She paused, planning her words with care.  “It would remind them of their glory during the long years ahead, remembering being presented to a Master of the Dark Angels chapter.”

Cain nodded.  He didn’t fully understand the need but Bors had convinced him that he should listen to those under him.

First Contact

3 Weeks Later.  Godswinson Foothills.  Skagerrak III

Cain watched his company race from the treeline, bikes racing forward to screen a line of Rhinos, Razorbacks and Repulsors.  Scouting Land Speeders had reported the ridgeline ahead of them to be clear, and Cain intended on taking advantage of that mistake.  He watched as the Razorbacks and Rhinos pulled ahead before easing off as they reached the foot of the steep slopes.

As soon as they’d started their climb they had gunned their engines and raced forward.  The Repulsors were more hesitant.  Carefully selecting slopes that were more manageable they struggled to catch up to the Rhinos as they neared the crest.  The doors and ramps of the Rhinos and Razorbacks were opening before they even stopped below the crest, and the marines within charged out, throwing themselves into position peeking over the crest without skylining themselves before the doors of the Rhinos were even fully open.  The Repulsors pulled in at the far left and the doors opened.  The Primaris marines spilled out and took positions, far more hesitantly and continued shifting up and down the line, the last of them not settling for nearly 20 seconds after their conventional brothers had frozen in place.

Looking to his right he saw the devastators Razorbacks and his command squad.  The devastators set up on a little knob just off the ridge’s shoulder, targeting scanners already reaching to select targets.  He left them to Lieutenant Bors and ordered his vehicle to the right of the Razorbacks at the crest.  The bikes gathered on the left of his line, ready to strike as he ordered a skull-drone to pop up to give him a view of the enemy.

The traitorous guard regiment spread in entrenchments for nearly a mile starting just off the foot of the ridge, a company had started to climb the slope to fortify this last weakness in the line, they were looking up in confusion at the sound of the engines and the clatter of battle plate coming down the slope from his so far unseen company.  Everything was positioned as he had planned, his plan would work perfectly.

“Swords and Bolters brothers!  For the Lion and the Emperor!  ATTACK!” He called into the vox, ordering the Repulsors over the ridge.

“Repent, for Tomorrow you Die!” Intoned his company as they crested the ridge and opened fire.  Trusting Lieutenant Nabbuk to direct the Repulsors guns he watched his company fight through the vehicles auspex array.  The veteran marines fought flawlessly.  Covering each others reloads, blasting down any targets that moved to threaten them, pressing back the shrinking company with a hose of fire.  The larger guns of the Primaris blasted holes in the ranks of their enemies but their fire was uneven.  Reloads weren’t timed, targets were selected, but fire was not maintained well.  The bikes gunned from around the far end of his line and the screaming engines of his assault squad and Inceptors striking deep in the entrenchments beyond, preventing them from reinforcing the devastated company caught out on the slopes.

“Forward, Mount up and move to your beacons!” called Cain, rapidly selecting positions at the edge of the trench line.  His own vehicle had nearly reached what remained of the traitors lead company and he ordered a door open, throwing himself out, plasma pistol already firing as his auspex sought targets worthy of its fury.  Two shots blasted melta-gun carrying troopers from a throng around a heavily ornamented officer.  With a guttural growl he lunged forward, drawing back his power fist and caved in the whole side of the enemy commander’s body.  Around him Chaplain Zadok and Lieutenant Nabbuk swung into the fight, precise blasts of fire shattering the bodies of those too far to be reaped by their energised blades.

He glanced down at the battle array cast on the backside of his gorget, showing the state of his troops and the enemy.  Pale red icons flew away down the slopes, shattering and dimming while his assault troops drew in the bright red of the next enemy company in a ring facing away from his men.  Again the Rhinos and Razorbacks were already slamming into position with abandon, the troops spilling out blasting fire while the Repulsors again lagged behind.

His own command vehicle belched fire, trying to carve a gap through to the beleaguered assault elements, wide to the left the bikes cut another furrow in the enemy lines, while to his right Bors made his firepower felt, Hellblasters, Missile Launchers, Plasma Cannons, and Lascannons from the heavy guns simply tore open one side of the ring, as well as shattering several field guns that had been slewing around to fire on the marines.

The Guard reeled in shock at the massed firepower and the veteran squads didn’t give them even a moment to recover, throwing themselves in with abandon, the Primaris behind them throwing themselves in with no hesitation.  Cain caught brief glimpses of his exposed assault element, seeing his Inceptors blasting back any threat to his assault troops, while the screaming chainswords wreaked havoc on the bodies of those near the more conventional assault troops.  The bikes circled clear beyond the ring, racing to an unseen command post and the whine-Bang of teleportation announced the Deathwing arriving at the Ravenwing’s beacons.

The vox came to life again a rich contralto calling “At them Skaggerak!  Into the traitors!” and further to his left, two companies of loyal guard raced forward in Chimeras, supported by Leman Russ tanks.  He could see Colonel Peaks, her short hair waving in the wind as she sat high in the cupola of her command vehicle.

“Bors, bring your element forward, we need to trap them from retreating!  Micah, Shamgar, get your Repulsors forward, get them behind the enemy flank to catch them as they flee.  Move!”

He continued to direct his troops through the desultory fighting that remained.  The traitors fell to the last man, his own losses were a couple dozen lightly wounded, 2 serious injuries and 2 fatalities.  He left Nabbuk to speak to Peaks, and set up security with the Ravenwing and Deathwing, meanwhile he called his squad leaders together to discuss the battle.

The Last Son of Caliban

Newly-Minted Master Cain strode down the hall of the Strike Cruiser Tempus Occidere in his simple robes.  Supreme Master Azrael, his features lined with the weight of centuries in command had just given him command of the 5th Battle Company of the Dark Angels chapter.  He was the first, and he was the last.

He was the first.  No other Primaris brother had ascended to command a company.  Some few had made it into the Ravenwing or the Deathwing, and Cain knew the reason.  He felt the distrust weighing heavily on him and on his brothers.  He knew the secrets the Dark Angels hid, and he and Azrael were working to break the self-destructive cycle of enforced secrecy and obfuscation.

He was the last.  Belisarius Cawl had intercepted him, one of the last recruits of the old Order, stolen for Cawl’s secret scheme, one of the precious few recruits that had escaped the secret rites of the Dark Angels even back then.  He had met Sar Luther, and even seen the Lion, alone amongst the Legion.  Alone amongst the Chapter.  He had been a mortal then, an initiate, not even an Astartes, and then as he slept he was stolen away, awakening ten millennia later to a galaxy shattered, promises broken, and a legion that mistrusted him.

To the Primaris he had been a symbol.  A guidon leading them through the cold distaste of their introduction, a living banner of what the Primaris could be.  Eventually he proved himself in battle and became a squad leader, then a Lieutenant.  He was one of the first to join the Ravenwing, a small, ad-hoc group of Inceptors joining the hunt.  Eventually he had ascended to the Deathwing.  His bone-white Aggressor armor spitting unbridled fury at the discovery that so many that had joined with him had turned traitor.  Indeed when he had gained permission to access what records they had he found that none of the recruits he had known had left Caliban.  All of them had been held there by Luther.  All had died as Caliban fell, or worse, joined the Fallen.

His stake in the Hunt was personal.  He had nearly petitioned to join the Chaplains.  Grand Master Sapphon had interviewed him and had informed him that he would make a great Interrogator-Chaplain, but his greatest gift was in command, and in command he should go.  Shortly thereafter Azrael had summoned him.  He had long known of Guilliman’s frustration that none of the Primaris had been given command in the Dark Angels.  He had received inquiries personally and was copied on others sent to Azrael.  Azrael had called him in alone, and met with him in his chambers, deep within the Rock.

Over wine and in the dim light of candles they had discussed long and deeply the frustration that he and the other Primaris had dealt with.  Azrael had been direct.  His questions blunt, even cutting, but never harsh or cruel.  Finally he had opened up.  He had admitted his frustration at the attitudes within the Chapter, within the Unforgiven as a whole.  He knew that their secret must be held, not for the secret itself for every legion had had traitors, but for the acts they had committed in covering them up.  Eventually they must come forward, admit what they had done, but they needed one last Crusade.  One mighty victory to show that their sins had been worth it.

Cain and the Fifth would lead that Crusade.  Tempus Occidere had been loaded with every sort of weapon and vehicle.  The entire Fifth Company was mechanised with transports and tanks.  Squads, bikes, and even aircraft from the Deathwing and Ravenwing had been attached giving Cain more strength than any two line companies normally held.  Even more proof of Azrael’s trust, he had been reinforced further with vehicle crews being assigned from the Marines of the 7th and 9th companies, rather than providing his own vehicle crews, this left all his squads at full strength even with the vehicles attached.

Tonight the Tempus would launch, on a course known only to Cain and the navigator.  Tomorrow he would brief his officers, and then… To the hunt!

Note – This is, of course, not canon.  I’ve given a lot of thought to how the Primaris would be integrated into the Dark Angels.  It’s a sticky problem, but a fun one, and the characterization of Azrael and his feelings about the curse of the Unforgiven is nearly entirely my own creation, although not an unreasonable one.  

Armies on Parade

So I decided literally last night to do Armies on Parade.  Tomorrow.  I already had plenty of painted models given the folks in the area.  I just had to find some insulation board and paint it grey.

aop

So it’s not a great board, but for 36 hours it’s fine.

aop4

aop4aop3aop5aop6aop7

So now I’m looking forward to next year.  I’m one box of devastators and one box of hellblasters from a massive reinforced battle company of Dark Angels.

I’m 1 rhino, 2 razorbacks, and a repulsor from mechanising them.  I could add in some other things but here’s a tentative list of what I could bring next year.

Company Master, Ancient, Apothecary, Champion, Razorback
3 x 6 man tac squads in Razorbacks
2 x 10 man (MK III) squads in Rhinos
1x 10 man Intercessor Squad in Repulsor
1 x 10 man Assault Squad (with wings stolen from sanguinary guard)
1 x 6 man Inceptor squad
2 x 6 man Devastator squad in Razorback
1 x 10 man Hellblaster squad in Repulsor
7 x Terminators, Ezekiel, Azrael, Mascot, Land Raider Crusader
2 x 3 bike 1 attack bike sqauds
2 x land speeder,
1 x Dark Shroud
1 x Dark Talon
1 x Knight Crusader

on a 2′ x 2′ board.

I’m thinking a parking garage motif?

8th Edition, Early Issues

So 8th Edition 40k has been out for a while now.  Things are shaking out and we are seeing a lot of early winners and losers in the meta.  Two of the things that I noted when I was reviewing 7th that I hoped would be fixed were invuln saves and re-rolls.  IMNSHO re-rolls and invuln saves draw the game out, either by making dice rolling take longer mechanically, or making units last longer.  Neither of these things went away and, in fact, have been reinforced with leaders regularly giving re-rolls to their units, while invuln saves have become rather more common in the game, especially with armies like Tyranids getting them for units that have never had them before.

The new issue that has raced to the forefront is mortal wounds.  Armies built around applying mortal wounds can just assign large amounts of damage to the enemy using smite, stratagems, or select weapons.  Several armies can just spam mortal wounds which makes small, elite armies much less viable, as they cannot defend against mortal wounds.  This has given something of a rise to “eternal warrior” type saves as a last ditch invuln save that actually does block mortal wounds, as well as giving a final line of defense against ordinary wounds.  The other side of this coin is that the armies that can survive mortal wounds have enormous numbers of models.  This has given rise to conscript spam, termagant spam, what have you.

What makes these issues worrying is that GW seems to be building entire armies around them.  Death Guard are only remotely viable by spamming the hell out of mortal wound causing units.  The tournament I was in a few weeks ago, I got cleaned off the table by an eldar army that was applying more than a dozen mortal wounds a turn.  This army would be completely neutered by any real nerf to mortal wounds themselves.

So what’s the issue here?  Why is this a problem?

Well, for casual games it’s not a huge problem.  These kinds of units are really niche, and you can just avoid playing “friendlies” against people who are building to spam the hell out of mortal wounds.  Competitive metas on the other hand, or new players getting started in a meta that is dominated by the tourney scene will see some units being completely worthless.  For example I brought several tanks, that I expected to do pretty well with given re-rolls, and a 4+ invuln from Azrael.  In one of the matches they managed to set up and murder things because re-rolls and invuln saves are pretty good.  However when I ran into an army spamming mortal wounds, things went downhill very, very fast.  Imagine being a newish player, getting a bunch of tanks, and watching 1 or 2 a turn just get melted by attacks you can’t do much to defend against at all.  Heck imagine being a veteran player and facing the same thing.  It wasn’t fun.

And yet, as a gamer I actually like mortal wounds myself.  Having the ability to simply assign wounds and skip the “roll to hit, roll to wound, beat the armor save” bit, and replace it with “roll a psychic power” or “roll over X” is pretty darn nice.  Look at Biovores for example.  4+ to hit, then roll, 1 you get nothing, 2-5 get 1 mortal wound, 6 get D3 mortal wounds.  That’s a very potent attack, especially coming from a unit of 3 (because, who are we kidding, they will never be taken alone) giving you several very consistent wounds throughout the game.  Bringing psykers with lots of smite will also give you some real hard hitting mortal wounds, albeit only against the nearest enemy unit.

I know that major changes to 8th are a long way off.  Chapter Approved will bring some minor rules changes at the end of this year, but I don’t expect anything to address these issues (assuming GW wants to) until late next year, with next year’s Chapter Approved.  Assuming Chapter Approved is an annual thing.

I’m more or less ok with smite being where it is.  The power only lets you attack the nearest unit.  I do think that some psykers are undercosted however.  Malefic Lords, I’m looking at you here…

Attacks dealing mortal wounds will need a bigger adjustment.  This needs to be handled on a case by case basis.  If you want a really god-tier weapon, sword of the emperor, Drach’nyen or the Avatar’s pigsticker, fine.  Allocate an extra wound on a 6 to wound or whatever.  Psychic attacks?  Give them a weapon profile with an ignore (normal) armor saves ability.  Biovores?  Seriously, how do these do mortal wounds anyway?  Not that I’m complaining given the new box sitting in my basement but… WHY?  I’d rather do d6 attacks (with a bonus for attacking large units) with decent strength and -2 AP.  Heck give it D2 if you want it to be extra hard hitting.

Finally let’s look at re-rolls and invulns.  Re Rolls should be once per turn, or even once per battle for characters.  Make the controlling player choose which unit will get to re-roll misses each turn, before the attack.  Or let them only use their bubble once per game.  Heck give them once per turn boostable to the current bubble for a command point.  Either way you cut WAY down on re-rolls and give players more interesting choices to make during a game.

Invuln saves.  No invuln save should be better than 4++ and practically nothing should have a 5++.  You’d better have a name and 4 or 5 paragraphs of fluff minimum to justify your 4++, and FFS Azrael’s 4++ bubble is an abomination in the eyes of the lord (as well as a nicely painted model I’ve got coming along).  You want to make something tougher?  Give it a couple more wounds.  Adjust the character rule to prevent targeting of models with fewer than 12 wounds and just throw a couple extra wounds on characters.  Yes they are more vulnerable to heavy weapons.  Don’t block a lascannon with your face.

Still for casual games it’s a damn fun game.  D and I should have more time to play shortly, and we should see some more pictures and battle reports soon!

Restructuring the First

“Brothers” Supreme Grand Master Azrael intoned “We have received word from the Primarch of the Ultramarines regarding the reorganization we have begun to undertake.  Today we will discuss how we will reorganize the Dark Angels, and our brothers and successors have all sent observers to better match our decisions…”

With this Azrael turned and the cloth fell from a large display on the wall.

The Chapter is dead.  LONG LIVE THE CHAPTER!  For a long time GW has insisted that there are 1,000 Chapters of 1,000 marines.  This makes very little sense if you understand how military organizations are formed and fight, but it looks good on paper.  So Bobby G has started his project to re-write the codex, and with the massive reinforcements all the chapters are receiving, keeping them under 1,000 simply won’t happen.  Frankly, the legions are back.  Not the quarter of a million Ultramarines, or hundred thousands of the other legions, but 4000 or so will likely become the new norm.  I think the companies will be doubled in size, and then each company duplicated to create 20 double sized companies.  It may even progress more to where each company expands to the size of a Battalion, with Lieutenants taking the roles of current Captains and Captains moving up to command the Battalions.

But first let’s rebuild the Battle Company.  6 squads of Tactical Marines, with 2 squads of Assault Marines, with 2 squads of Devastators make up a current Battle Company.  First I think they’ll add 2 squads of 10 Intercessors.  Over time this will swell to where the intercessors will match the numbers of Tactical squads.  Inceptors will come in the form of 2 squads of 6, comprising a dozen to reinforce the 20 assault marines currently.  Finally a single squad of Hellblasters will be added, eventually increasing to two.  Finally I foresee heavy reinforcements among the specialists.  A full command group, with communications, medical, and other support specialists.  Specifically I would expect to see 2 or 3 Communications specialists, 4-5 Apothecaries, 2-3 Chaplains, most likely 1 or 2 techmarines all more or less permanently attached to the new “Company”.  In addition to this there will be a horde of serfs, servitors, and other support personnel who aren’t Astartes.  The enlargement extends to the vehicle assets as well.  Currently there’s at least 10 rhinos, and probably a couple razorbacks, assigned to each Company.  Each primaris squad will likely include a Repulsor, which represents a huge boost to the firepower of the Company.

And no, I haven’t told the wife about the extra models I will need to finish the new, larger company.

The Deathwing will be enlarged, but until we see the full extent of Aggressors and Gravis armored Primaris, I’m going to hold off on how exactly they’ll be extended, although eventually I feel it will be equally 1:1 over time.  Next  we get to the Ravenwing.  This is even more obscure than the Deathwing.  Inceptors are the only possibility, and I’d like to paint some up as Ravenwing because I think they’d be very fun to do, but they don’t fit in terribly well.  The Reserve companies will be pretty straightforward.  Double the current number of squads, with Primaris making up the new squads.  Maybe a few extra squads of Inceptors.  The scout company presents a unique challenge.  Frankly a 100 man scout company makes no sense even today.  500 would make more sense, and 1,000 wouldn’t be that unreasonable given how few would make it to be full marines, and how many they would need.

The Reivers and Inceptors could be formed into a similar close support squad for veterans, a Dreadwing Company to bring back one of the old elements of the Dark Angels Legion.  They could support the Deathwing and Ravenwing combining some of the speed of the Ravenwing with some of the staying power of the Deathwing.  This would enable them to enter the inner circle of the Dark Angels (which some would have started to do over the century since their appearance).  If the Dark Angels wish to resurrect the Hexagrammaton the Reivers could be the Dreadwing, the Inceptors the Stormwing, the Aggressors the Firewing, and of course renaming the tanks to the Ironwing hardly requires a lot of work.

This would resurrect many elements of the ancient Dark Angels, and would allow them to grow the resurrected legion quite quickly in the new, resurgent Imperium.  Narratively I think the Hunt will come to an end very soon, I doubt the Lion will be less secretive on his resurrection, however I do see him working with Cypher to bring back the Fallen who didn’t go over to Chaos, while openly crusading against those that did.

So my 5th Company will be adding some more Primaris.  I already have some Inceptors, as I just LOVE the models, I’ll probably add a box each of Intercessors and Hellblasters and another Repulsor.  Soon I’ll add a post on the future of the Marines, both in fluff and in the meta.  Here’s a hint, it goes badly for the regular marines.

To wrap this all up, the Legion will end up with 5 specialist Companies, each double the size of the current companies.  Deathwing, Ravenwing, Firewing, Stormwing, and Dreadwing.  This would create veteran elements open to pretty much any speciality.  The vehicles would get consolidated into the Ironwing, most likely greatly aided by the techmarines and the renaissance that Guilliman is trying to build with regards to science and reason.

The three battle companies will also expand, and be doubled up so that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th will be joined by the 14th, 15th, and 16th companies; with the 11th, 12th, and 13th being the Firewing, Stormwing, and Dreadwing (in some order).  The 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th would be the remaining reserve companies, with the 10th merely being massively expanded.  Each company will mix troops, that is, traditional marines and primaris will be mixed in each company, and I expect specialists and company command positions will see a significant number of Primaris as time goes forward.

So that’s where I see things going.  More troops per company, more companies per “Chapter” and no hard caps on either.

Jam the Radar!

This is my first post on some more game theory-ish topics.  I play games for fun, but sometimes I’ll dig into the numbers behind the game and try to figure out better ways to play.  This is an example of a games-theory concept that I encountered a lot in Warmahordes that I think has become extremely relevant in 8th edition 40k, with the rise of melee, hordes, and the ability of units in melee to affect vehicles during their own turn.

Jamming is a big part of some games, in others it barely makes the lexicon.  Traditionally Warhammer 40k has been one of those games where it is a rarely used tactic as it is incredibly hard to do with any sort of efficiency.  Well 8th edition has changed that in a big way.

jam

Land Raider About to be JAMMED

So first let’s talk about what jamming is in a wargame.  Jamming is when you use a relatively unimportant unit to deny an enemy the ability to move, shoot, or pick his own charge target by charging into him.  The benefit of jamming is it can give you a lot of board control, while saving you from a substantial amount of fire.  The downside is, unless the unit doing the jamming is a really good tarpit, they are probably dead as doornails.

The biggest target for jamming in 40k right now is vehicles.  Vehicles often have a very high damage output, and are extremely hard to destroy quickly.  They have too many factors making them very hard targets to be destroyed without a massive concentration of firepower.  However all it takes is 1 model starting its turn within 1″ to block the vehicle from shooting.  A predator has the weapons loadout of a devastator squad, with more mobility and far more toughness.  It can’t take cover as well, vehicle cover rules basically meaning vehicles don’t get to take cover, but it can inflict a lot of damage in a very short period of time, and removing those guns takes a lot of effort.

However one stormboy with a choppa disables all those guns for at least one turn.  And he does it for pretty cheap.  Jamming into a tank does three things.  It reduces my firepower, it forces me to fall back and disrupts my gunline, and it forces me to find another unit to engage the jammer, either with enough firepower to destroy them or to charge into melee itself, and if my opponent picked the right unit to do so, it’s a unit he can afford to lose while I have multiple units dealing with them.  If he has multiple, small units available to jam, or if I mess up and he can charge multiple units with the same unit, he can turn my shooting phase from the height of my turn into a really frustrating exercise in trying to do more with less.

Now let’s say he gets a small unit of stormboyz into melee with my predator.  Maybe he knocks off a wound, maybe he doesn’t.  Now I have a predator pulling back, I have a squad of tacticals coming over to shoot, and probably charge them to finish them off, and I have nothing shooting at the deff dread rolling down on my battleline trying to keep it from getting its claws on my precious marines.

On the flip side of the tactical coin is horde armies.  Boyz mobs, genestealers, hormagaunts, all are incredibly powerful if they crash into your army and get off the first attack, but they have to be unengaged to charge, so you have to lock them up.  This can be tricker, and you have to break out the Mathhammer to figure out how best to do it.  Let’s take a unit of genestealers that I have to delay for a turn.  20 stealers of course, attacking MEQs, first we’ll see what happens if the ‘stealers can charge.

80 attacks, 54 hits (I’m going to round up because I’m a pessimist.  Similarly armor saves will be rounded down) 9 wounds at AP-4 from rending claws, 18 wounds at AP-1.  On generic marines that’s 9 wounds just going straight through, and 9 more after armor saves.  That’s almost 2 squads of tactical marines, or nearly 1 full squad of intercessors.

That example is worst case.  Let’s look at if I charge them (without shooting) with my trusty 10 man tactical squad.  My typical squad is 10 marines, combi-plasma, plasma, and Heavy Bolter.  So they charge in, 11 attacks, 2 from the sergeant, 9 from normal marines.  7 hits, 3 wounds, 2 dead genestealers.  Not exactly great, but it does clip a couple of wounds off the return attack.  Not enough to save a normal tactical squad from being summarily destroyed, but it does help a bit.

Let’s say they pour some fire into the stealers.  I’m going to assume they moved during their turn, because in order to get a charge in on genestealers you practically have to, so here we go.  7 rapid fire bolters:  just over 3 wounds on average.  1 combi weapon bolter adds about 1/3 of a wound, combi plasma adds enough that with the bolter fire we’re calling it 4 wounds already.  Heavy bolter – just under another wound.  We’re being pessimistic so, 4 dead stealers, charge in, kill 2 more.  Now we’ve removed 24 attacks from that incoming salvo.  Still not enough that the basic tactical squad will survive.

That’s how nasty hordes are this edition.  14 Genestealers coming back with 4 attacks is 56.  37 hits, 6 automatic wounds, another 6 or 7 normal wounds.  Still a dead tactical squad and the surviving stealers can move up and charge in their own turn.  Remember, moving 9-11 inches for normal troops is trivial this edition, and genestealers can start 18″ away from you and reliably get a charge in so you HAVE to burn them down, or keep them at arms range.

Now let’s look at something I’m looking at very hard, the intercessor squad.  One thing I didn’t mention is that my tactical squad only costs about 2/3 of a genestealer mob, Intercessors cost just around 5/6 of a genestealer mob.

So, the bolt rifles, 10 of them with no special or heavy weapon, 4 wounds.  Charging in these tough bastards have 2 attacks, the sergeant has 3 (and a power sword).  That’s another 5 wounds (combining average extra wounds from shooting and melee) leaving the Genestealers with 11.  44 attacks.  29 hits, 6 wounds that go right through armor, 11 other wounds.  That leaves the sergeant and 1 other marine holding on.  That’s not enough to be comfortable that the genestealers would be stopped during their turn, but I could divert some fire from another unit to increase that margin a fair bit.  While it’s not the topic of this post, I have to say Intercessors are looking better and better in comparison to basic marines when it comes to objective play.  The only thing they lose out on is heavy firepower.

Growing the Army

So I have a truly ludicrous amount of points, and nearly as ludicrous amount of models.  Thanks to my airbrush and some nose to the tiny lump of plastic painting I’ve actually been painting more than I’ve bought this year, although I do have some projects still to do.  Right now I have a couple priorities for what I plan on buying, and the order I plan on painting.

Inceptors – I’ve been waiting on these bad boys since I saw them in the big box set.  I’m excited to see the multi-part kit coming out next week, and cannot wait to get my hands on them.  I have some ideas for how to do them and I think they’ll be a lot of fun to field.

Different Azrael – I’m planning a conversion as I really don’t like the sculpt of the old model much, and it’s metal.  I do not like metal.  I do not like backpacks.  I do not like models without helmets.  The question is how to do it without spending 50-70 bucks on one model.

Dark Talon – I need a flier.  Period.

Transports – To get enough wheels for my battle company, even pre-primaris I need to get 6(!) Razorback kits and build/paint them where I can swap them for Rhinos.  I have one Repulsor so my first Primaris unit that isn’t interceptors is fine, but every unit after that I would really want a Repulsor for.  I also would like to find some alternative turrets, I have had no luck reaching Chapterhouse studios, but would like to get some turrets that feature twin assault cannons without spending crazy money.

Those are the only real “Must Haves” and while it’s a lot of plastic, it’s not very diverse.

Wants

Hellblasters – Come on.  Who doesn’t love plasma wielding maniacs.  At least in a Dark Angels army.  Still have to fit them in Heavy Support somehow.

Bikes – Super useful in this edition, and I have the command to support them, but with the Darkshroud locking down one fast attack slot….

Deathing Terminators / Command -Much more a want than a need.  I have more than 20 terminator models, but only a few are the modern plastic kits.  Lots of metal squatters and even a few wolf guard.

Predator – MAN these are so good in 8th.  Holy cow,  Just the perfect MBT.  Not ideal for everything but I could totally live with 2 of these in a 1500 point list

Scouts – Definitely not a core unit for me, but I could use some lighter infantry and something that has mobility without needing a transport.  Rievers would also be ok here I guess?

On the fence.

Intercessors.  The new tactical marines just don’t seem good at the things I need them to be good at.  I love the models and I could be convinced otherwise but… They just seem meh in an army packed with awesome.

Redemptor Dread – SO MANY POINTS.  SO HUGGY.  SO CONFLICTED.

Sammael – Cool model but… just not wowing me unless I go whole hog on bikes.

Aggressors – Are we going to have them be part of the Deathwing?  Are they going to get enough mobility to make them worthwhile?  Even with all the dakka, can they kill enough?

Things I’m eagerly awaiting –

Transfer Sheets – Holy hell do I wish the old Dark Angels transfer sheet would be reprinted.  I’d buy 2 right away.

The Lion – Come on GEEDUBS.  COME ON FORGEWORLD.

Picking in a Crowded Field

So this post was kind of on the back burner, then GW announced Chapter Approved.  I really like the whole idea of a “Living Ruleset” but I hope they keep rules “updates” free or inexpensive rather than charging us for quarterly rulebooks.  Anyway on to the point.

My Dark Angels have some hard choices to make.  I need to take a lot of troops to hold objectives.  Don’t mind that too much, it’s fluffy, the Lion knows I have a ton of tac marines and even some scouts, and eventually I’ll even get some intercessors, and I like getting Razorbacks for said tacs.  No problems there.

However they eat a lot of points.  The three tac squads I run eat up 370 points, and only fill a battalion detachment.  Oh and GW please learn what a Battalion and a Brigade are.  They should really be called Patrol, Platoon and *MAYBE* Company, detachments if anything, but I digress.  From a 1500 point army, this is close to 25% of my army, and characters will easily eat another quarter.  This leaves me with maybe half my points to spend on “Optional” units that do the real fighting.

What’s more, these units come with some real limitations on slots in the org chart.  0-2 elites, 0-2 heavy support, 0-2 fast attack, 0-2 flyers.  And you really want this detachment because 3 CP is really good the way stratagems are working out.  To get more than this I would either need to add another detachment or add 3 more troops and another HQ.  That’s pretty rough on a marine army, and it won’t leave me with enough points to fill those slots.

So lets look at what I’d actually want to take.  First let’s look at Elites.  Apothecary, Company Ancient, Company Champion, Company Veteran squad, Deathwing Ancient, Deathwing Apothecary, Deathwing Champion, Deathwing Knights squad, Deathwing Terminator squad, Dreadnought, Imperial Space Marine, Primaris Ancient, Primaris Apothecary, Ravenwing Ancient, Ravenwing Apothecary, Ravenwing Ancient, Ravenwing Apothecary, Ravenwing Champion, Reiver Squad, Servitors, Venerable Dreadnought.

The two Terminator squads are simply amazing.  I’m a big fan of both, slightly more on the basic terminators so far, but Knights will get their time.  Ancients are AMAZING this time around, really taking the bite out of casualties under some circumstances.  Apothecaries are getting some bad press so I will probably not need those too much, Champions are really good for some extra melee bite, although Dark Angels don’t really need that much.  Dreads are AMAZING in 8th, with the venerable especially getting a shout.  Servitors usually get rolled up into a Techmarine so I’m not worried about them, but you can see that there will be times even a limit of 6 could pinch a bit.

Fast Attack is equally crowded with *takes a deep breath* Assault Squad, Inceptor Squad, Ravenwing Attack Bike, Ravenwing Bike Squad, Ravenwing Black Knights, Ravenwing Darkshroud, Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance, Ravenwing Land Speeders.

Not as many choices as the Elites, but some really good ones.  Darkshrouds are nearly automatic right now IMNSHO.  -1 to Hit and the way re-rolls works that helps even more (remember you don’t apply the modifier until AFTER you count how many misses you can re-roll) making this such a good unit for boosting deathballs.  Assault squads are still pretty forgettable, I’m looking forward to trying Inceptors, which fit my flavor of fast attack more anyway, and of course any ravenwing bike unit is going to be good.  You do take Land Speeders in squadrons, which is very nice, but they compete with so much else for the one spot left after the Darkshroud that it’s hard to justify bringing them.

Heavy Support is just… a mess.  Aggressors, Devastators, Hellblasters, Land Raider, Land Raider Crusader, Land Raider Redeemer, Predator, Redemptor Dreadnought, Repulsor, Vindicator, Whirlwind.

fuck

I really can’t beat this for how I feel about picking JUST two.

I can only pick two?  I was an artilleryman damnit!  I love big guns!  They enhance my manliness and fill my life with purpose!  Seriously though, I can eliminate the Whirlwind and the Vindicator up front.  I think they are vehicles that work best en masse, and we only have two slots.  Everything else?  MAN.  Predators are AMAZING.  Land Raiders are AMAZING.  Repulsors look AMAZING.  Devastators are real good (lets you get another Razorback AND 4 heavy weapons!) Hellblasters and Aggressors deliver an amazing amount of firepower and are super tough to boot.  Once I get my Repulsor built, and some Hellblasters, maybe even some Aggressors… I’m going to have a real conundrum as to what to take and what to leave at home!  Oh and don’t forget that Hellblasters without a Repulsor are VERY slow right now so… that’s two right there if I take Hellblasters!

The hardest part of Marines right now is building an Army that balances the need to deal with Objective Secured with the requirements to have firepower and tools in the box to deal with fighting the actual combat.  I will say this though, it’s a fun time to build an army!