Scraping the Bottom

So the new Space Marine Codex for 8th is out. With it came updates to the non-Codex chapters. Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and of course, my beloved Dark Angels. To call this update a sop gives it far too much credence. I’m going to talk about 4 main portions of the update, and examine the effects that DA players have to work under while we wait for a new codex that hopefully will rectify the situation.

But first a bit of context so you can see the power level DA were in before the update. Here’s this morning’s ITC rankings.

One guy over 550, everyone else under 400, even dropping down into the high-mid 200s by #10
Vs. One score under 500. The #10 Vanilla Marine army would be the #2 Dark Angels Army

Ouch. So before the Codex, DA were virtually non-competitive vs regular Space Marines. That’s the environment we existed in Friday. From there we see four main changes to the new Marine Armies.

First off is Doctrines. This is a huge one, handing out -1 AP to either Heavy and Grenade weapons, Rapid Fire and Assault, or Pistol and Melee, depending on which you are on. This basically puts regular marines back where they were in 7th as long as their doctrine is going, and boosts intercessors a LOT, with grenades and grenade launchers getting some real “reach out and touch someone” on turn 1. Dark Angels did not get this in the update, leaving all our troops with inferior AP, and no way to “tip the scale” depending on what phase of the battle is going on.

Second is Litanies of Battle. This is GW’s attempt to make Chaplains much more valuable and I am here for it. Basically each chaplain gets to pick a Litany he can recite every turn. Some of these are very powerful, even if virtually all are situational. Of course DA didn’t get this in the update either.

Third was stat changes. This affects DA in a different way. Lots of Primaris units received +1 wound. Gravis units in particular. This DID get given to DA; however it’s still a nerf. Gravis units are now tougher than Terminators, relegating two of the few special DA units rather less effective. Those being Deathwing terminators and Deathwing knights. While DA has access to the units with more wounds, these units don’t have the same access to power boosts that vanilla space marine units have.

Finally there’s point changes. Many units received new, lower costs, which DA do not have. There were some increases (especially Thunder Hammers) which haven’t hit DA yet, but in general Dark Angels armies built to mirror vanilla marines will have fewer, less potent models on the table, compared to their basic bitch brethren.

I do want to point out that some changes did hit equally, Angels of Death being a big one, but even these hit equally. Every change has had either zero net effect or a negative net effect, leaving an already weaker army further behind the power curve.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. GW has said there will be something for DA next month, but I am less than sanguine about it. We’re pretty late in the day for us to get what I think would help the most (The Lion) and I strongly doubt we will get more than a near-equalizer. Rules that bring things roughly in-line with Vanilla marines but don’t address the larger power imbalance.

I would LIKE to see a new chapter tactic. Grim Resolve doesn’t mean much of anything in a world of buff auras and MSU. I think something like a +3″ to aura abilities would be suitably strong, and also show the control the inner circle exerts over the Unforgiven. I know that’s very strong but… DA need something very strong at this point. Space Marines got boosted because they honestly needed it to be a top tier army. DA weren’t a top tier army, or even an average tier, now they are getting shoved even lower, and Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, and Death Watch with us.

Last Son of Caliban: I, Bors

Being an account of Lieutenant Bors of the Fifth Company, First Chapter, Legio Astartes, “Dark Angels”

“I have served the First for nearly one hundred years, sidereal. I have battled rebels, xenos, traitors, heretics, daemons, simple fools to the greatest terrors of the galaxy. I fought as a scout, a devastator, an assault squad member, a brother of a tactical squad, a sergeant, a member of the Raven Wing, a Dark Talon pilot, and in the Bone-White battleplate of the Deathwing.

When Master Balthasar fell I was all but assured his position as Master of the Fifth, until the Primarch intervened. He informed Supreme Grand Master Azrael that he had noted, with interest, the lack of advancement of our new Primaris “brothers” and was confused about their poor performance with our great chapter. He noted the performance of Master Cain when he commanded a Company during the Indomitus Crusade. As such he requested and required that then-Lieutenant Cain be appointed command over the first Company available, and thus my path was altered.

His performance has never been wanting, his leadership adequate, and his knowledge of both our weapons and our enemies, serviceable. He uses his subordinates to their strengths, and his employment of the full panoply of war demands even my grudging respect. Beyond that the Chapter demands my eyes on him. The Fifth is frequently supported by Grand Master Ezekiel and much of this is to ensure that the secrets a Master of the Dark Angels must know are kept secure.

In truth I cannot say whether he or I would be a better Master of the Fifth. I would not venture to second guess the Primarch, even though he is not ours, but I must admit I resent not having the chance to test my own mettle.”

I laid down the autoquill. Sealing the tome under gene-lock I stored it beneath the surface of my small desk. Every officer and Sergeant of the Fifth kept his records to be stored and recorded in the annals of the First. Taking a moment to ensure my wargear, my weapons, battleplate and jump-pack had been properly stored I prepared for rest. It was late in the day, truly it was early in the next, but the workload on officers of the First allowed for little sleep.

A vox-chime from my wrist reminded me that I bore not this burden alone. I recognized the comm-code of Grand Master Ezekiel and at once lifted the bracelet.

“Grand Master, how may I serve?”

“We brief tomorrow for the drop on Barnabus. You will attend me before Morning Prayer, that we may discuss certain aspects of the mission. The brief will take place instead of morning drills. Barnabus seems to be a simple rebellion but we have noted concerning patterns. We will discuss more before the brief.”

“Of course Grand Master. Is there aught else?”

The cutting of the carrier wave stood as Ezekiel’s only answer. I slapped the light switch on the wall and lay on my pallet.

Catalyst and Kickstarter

So, we had some very unexpected news on the Book of Faces yesterday.

This is… very complex news. First the good. HOLY SHIT LEVIATHANS IS COMING BACK! For those unfamiliar with it, Leviathans was an amazing game with miniature flying warships taking place just pre-WWI that combined some very fun and innovative systems to make gameplay very deep and strategic even with very few units on the board. The miniatures were gorgeous, the rules quick, fun, and deep, the aesthetic was perfect and everything just seemed to work. However, the game had a very short lifespan due to some things we’ll go into below, and there has been very little news of it for the last 7 years.

The reasons the game failed had practically nothing to do with Leviathans, and practically everything to do with Catalyst Game Labs. The initial release was drawn out and delayed for long periods of time as CGL struggled to get their product. Something they still struggle with today I might add. The buzz and hype about the game could not be maintained over such a long delay, however the initial run did sell out eventually and then… well getting new stock took over a year. While new ships were developed, new miniatures never were and the only real updates were a couple of fleet boxes that were just the same miniatures with variant rules.

Then the flow stopped completely. Catalyst contracted a producer in China that completely screwed them over to the point I don’t believe they even have the CGI renders of the ships. They had irregular and often useless communication with their suppliers, and they eventually just stopped responding to anything, even from the fans.

So now we get to the part that is worrisome. The kickstarter. Now I’ve backed some kickstarters, and I’ve followed plenty more. Some have been very good. The History of EvE, Weird War I and Leon Johnson were all fantastic successes. Some have not. Star Citizen being on ongoing mess that still hasn’t left beta more than 5 years after the delivery date. Robotech tactics got so badly handled that there was a suicide attempt inside the dev team.

Now we come to Catalyst kickstarters. Shadowrun: Sprawl Ops was estimated to go out Oct 2018 and there are people today, August 2019 who have still not received some or all of what they were promised on Kickstarter. The product that has been received is error-filled and in some places simply missing information or pieces. Now they are running a huge Kickstarter for Battletech: Clan Invasion. It LOOKS great, it LOOKS flashy, it LOOKS amazing. But I question the wisdom of investing money on a company that has repeatedly demonstrated it has no ability to control its supply chain, and refuses to make changes that would enable them to do so. They appear as committed as ever to continue to use Chinese suppliers, they lack the resources necessary to keep them in line, and they use 1 supplier for everything leaving them frequently held hostage by 1 company.

And of course the “exciting” news is that Leviathans is coming by kickstarter next year. We are expected to fund the final steps of development, all of production, and then wait and hope that history does not repeat itself. For a company that controls Battletech, Shadowrun, and has produced games for other IPs including D&D and Masters of Orion. I think I’m within reason to say “What the HELL are they doing with their money that this is the answer?” I think a company that cannot fund itself, provide a stream of product that enables them to deal with manufacturers and handle distribution does not deserve the quality of IPs that they have, nor the cheerful support of customers who have repeatedly been burned.

I hope the game designers bring more new features to the game, that we get all-new ships and designs that the already excellent rules are iterated and expanded on. Mostly I hope the game gets ongoing support. That there’s plans to ship new product and keep it in stock. That they have taken the piles of money thrown at them and their IPs for years now and used them to build some relationships or capabilities to ensure that those of us providing the money get our value for it.

The Glorious Tale of Broin the Mighty

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.

Broin, just about tabletop ready

Return of the Primarchs I: The Lion

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.

Will 2019 be another 2017 or another 2018?

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

SOMEONE

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Demons and Nids. Demons need new rules for their models, and Nids need new models for the updated rules.
  9. Necrons. Not a top priority, but even ancient terrors can be long in the tooth. And they are.
  10. MOAR PRIMARCHS. Loyalist, Chaos, MOAR!

Why I’m not Doing Much 40k

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?

 

 

Little Men in Fancy Hats – ON HORSES

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.

Cav 1

Fiddling with how much glue for flocking.  Infantry in the rear.

Cav 2

Detail on the front regiment, 2e Regiment de Dragons (who actually fought in Austria)

Cav 3

A bit of coverage of both regiments

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.

Little Men in Fancy Hats

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.

20180923_184103

Hey!  Look!  Frogs in Funny Hats!

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.

20180925_203259

And what a pile it is!

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.

  1. Two 12 lb cannons.  French Heavy Artillery
  2. 12 French Dragoons.  French Heavy Cavalry
  3. 24 Voltigeurs.  French Light Infantry,
  4. 12 Horses.  4 legs, eat a lot, die if you look at them funny it seems.
  5. 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!

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All Painted!

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Glued to their Bases, Primaris Intercessor for scale

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Based… With the wrong flocking

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21e Regiment de Dragons.  Haven’t painted horses in 15 years

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.

 

One year of 8th Edition, Looking Back, Looking Forward

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.

Pardon the awful formatting

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!