Author Archives: Corelin

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!

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Last Son of Caliban: At Close Quarters

Bors barreled his way through the hallways of the Chaos-infested ship.  The mockery of his Imperium fed his rage and the massive thunder hammer in his hand provided his only outlet.  He smashed at the thralls and traitor marines with equal abandon, the cataclysmic smashing of his weapon echoing on the bare metal.  Behind him, the inceptors of Sergeant Uriah towered, their massive armor letting them see clean over their smaller brother, and their twin assault bolters hammered any knots of resistance, paving the way for the white-hot fury of the Lieutenant.

Bors lived two lives on the ship.  At once the winged angel of vengeance, hammer and combi-melta dealing out potent justice to the traitors and at the same time a detached, brilliant commander of half of a company of the Emperor’s finest.  Swiftly he pushed his force along, corralling the enemy into a trap to be sprung at the perfect moment.  Bors knew in his hearts that the 5th was his.  He had served in the Ravenwing and the Deathwing, rising to be a sergeant in the Deathwing Knights, he had been on the cusp of rising to be the Master of the 5th when Guilliman had turned his interest to the Unforgiven and asked very pointed questions that had changed everything.  He did not blame Master Cain or Supreme Grand Master Azrael.  He knew the pressures and demands both worked under, and he was not a weak mind to suffer jealousy.  He served his Master and his Legion to the limit of his abilities, and his limits were very high indeed.

He checked the position of his demi-company one last time before plunging down a side passage.  Scattering the thralls and crew of the ship they broke onto a gantry overlooking a wide gallery.  Behind him the Inceptors stomped around to cover the other entrances with their rapid fire, short ranged assault bolters.  The smaller Astartes tactical squads and Primaris inceptor squad in the demi company lined the railing, while the two Devastator squads lined up on either side of the Lieutenant.  One of the devastator squads carried the Plasma Cannons so beloved by the Dark Angels.  The other carried missile launchers and Multi-Meltas.  They stood at the inboard bulkhead, facing down at the back of the bulkhead of the room just inboard of the rest of the company.

“Fire” ordered Bors over the Vox.  The powerful melta guns roared, missiles screamed from the launchers, and the bulkhead shattered under the assault.  The Iron Warriors on the other side of the bulkhead were some of the toughest defenders, and most determined attackers, of all the astartes created, but they didn’t shift between plans easily.  Undisturbed they could have mown down Cain’s company as they broke out from their lodgement.  Now they faced heavy weapons in superior position thanks to Bors swift assault.  They began to move, but the rest of Bors strike force got in a massive first salvo.  The Plasma guns launched blue bursts of starfire while the Bolters and Bolt Rifles of the marines lining the sides engaged targets bereft of cover, many still facing the wrong way.

Another roar announced that Master Cain had launched his breakout.  Bolter and Plasma Incinerator fire smashed into the barricades, forcing the Iron Warriors to hug their fragile shields or risk a certain death.  A monstrously huge traitor legionnaire, with an armature similar to a techmarine bellowed and gestured, physically dragging some of his men into a makeshift line to offer some opposition to Bors’ fire.  The Iron Warriors shook off their stunned surprise and while some executed the old plan, pouring a withering fire into Cain’s troops, still hidden by the remains of the bulkhead the rest brought their weapons to bear on the more vulnerable devastators, whose lighter armor and less resilient bodies could take far less punishment than the newer Primaris.

“Uriah, follow me!  Jubal, Zebediah, cover the doorways.  For the Lion! For the Emperor!” he barked brandishing his hammer before igniting his jump pack to launch himself into the enemy leader.  He felt the massive impact of the inceptors as they rode their own columns of blue flame to the lower level, trying to unseat the enemy before they could truly settle in.  Bors swung his hammer down even as he landed, catching the traitor Warsmith on his knee, shattering it and his lower leg.  The veteran of the long war didn’t flinch, the long mechanical arm on his back grabbed the wing on Bors’ assault pack shoving him back while the chainaxe the warrior carried swung in a brutal arc.  A quick mental command from Bors unclipped the ornamental wings and he ducked the axe, losing half the back of his helmet to the close call.  Stunned a moment he still rolled with the blow and came up swinging, pulping a hand of the traitor before standing with a flourish, with a brutal, simple waist high uppercut swing, smashing under the armpit of his enemy.  The thunder hammer discharged, shattering armor and ribcage as the traitorous leader exploded in a shower of viscera and armor.

Even as his opponent fell he grabbed his combi weapon from the mag lock on his thigh and vaporized the head of a Iron Warrior lining up on Master Cain, leading a rush of intercessors and Assault Marines to try to unify the company.  Within moments a flurry of blades and bolter fire the company stood together.

“Master Cain” Bors intoned with a bow of his head.

“Brother.  You and your men take the honors today I think.”

Lieutenant Nabbuk walked up, still punching information into his arm computer.  “Master, Lieutenant, we have accounted for nearly two hundred and fifty traitor astartes, and at least a thousand thralls.  Assuming this ship lost some men on the planet I do not think they have more than 50 astartes on board, and we can sweep the thralls away with small arms.  Might I suggest we cripple the ship before withdrawing?”

Cain looked at him, then at Bors.  “Lieutenant, your team will hold here.  I will be with you, but I’m giving Sergeant Uriah to Lieutenant Nabbuk.  He will take the other strike force to the engine room to rig demolition charges.  When they are on the way back your force will extract by Thunderhawk, there should be enough time for a round trip that will let the entire force extract smoothly.”

Bors looked at the Master for a moment, then at Nabbuk before nodding and going to order his troops into position to cover the bridgehead.  Bors knew he had led his men that day and many others, and that Nabbuk must prove his mettle, commanding without close supervision if his men were to trust him, and even a mission against the light opposition expected would give the much less experienced officer some seasoning.

As the reinforced strike team marched aft Bors knelt behind cover, popping off his savaged helmet.  Not seeing Master Cain approaching.

“Are you wounded brother?”  asked the Master, not used to seeing any of his men unhelmed in a combat situation.

“No, master, not a hair on my head is disturbed.”

“… You shave your head brother.”

“Then I do not lie.  That traitor nearly tried to get at the ones still below the skin though.  Another centimeter or two and he might have found a way to make me a liar.”

Master Cain shook his head.  The sons of the Lion did not offer much humor, and it seemed jarring when it happened.  Indeed Bors reminded him much of the sons of Russ he had served with amongst the unnumbered sons.  Looking over the hastily established, nearly impregnable defenses Bors had established he could hardly argue he was any less than a full Son of the Lion, as he continued to prove with every plan, with every battle, with every duel.  The heavy weapons had commanding fields of fire, yet were well protected by barricades.  Their blind spots, the few that existed, were overlooked by full squads, ready to catch anyone trying to sneak up on the big guns in a hail of bolter shells.  In the back of the defense, sheltered in a large barricade were a squad of veteran astartes, carrying a meltagun, and Sergeant Elias, who for this battle had brought a grav gun and power axe of his own.  Cain already knew that if any attack threatened to break the line Bors would lead this force into combat, the small group carrying far more firepower than their numbers would indicate, and the acumen of the two leaders would see it employed to the fullest.

 

Last Son of Caliban: Iron Within, Lions Without

Champion Joab stood, unmoving, at the very forefront of the boarding torpedo.  Already he pressed against the harness locking him in place, the front of his helmet nearly kissing the blast panel that separated him from the potent melta-charge ready to bore a hole through the hull of their target.  His right hand held a massive blade from ancient Caliban.  His left a shield, blessed and carefully worked, incorporating a heavy bolt pistol enabling him to vent his fury even outside the press and cut of melee.

Joab epitomised the Astartes of the Fifth in a way even Bors couldn’t.  Bors outpaced them, faster, tougher, smarter, he eclipsed them clearly, almost as much as their new Primaris brothers.  Their soul rested with Ancient Uriah, his banner as much a part of him as his heart or his black carapace.  Joab was their avatar.  The incarnation of their combative spirit.

Outside the Deathwing, the Dark Angels bore a reputation as a stolid, conservative fighting force, a moving wall of firepower, reducing their enemies to ash as they implacably advanced, or a perfect bastion of defence, sweeping away any who dared take the offensive against them.  While there was truth to this, it was not the whole truth.  The Dark Angels could eagerly take the offensive, unleashing devastating firepower and crushing close quarters attacks with more than the Deathwing.  They lack the primal lust for carnage of the Blood Angels or the Space Wolves, or the preternatural stealth of the Raven Guard, but their tactical precision and tightly controlled fury, properly channeled, gave them their own unique flair for close combat.

Joab didn’t move.  Didn’t fidget as many warriors, even Astartes might do before battle.  His blade pointed straight down by his leg.  His shield held at an angle, covering his body, ready to snap into aim should a target present himself.  The only sign of incipient combat came from the aura around him.  The air around him seemed hot and close, even in the chill atmosphere the Dark Angels preferred for their ships.  The first warriors behind him seemed almost to undulate, first leaning into their idol, then away from his towering contempt and rage.

Cain stood behind the honor guard selected by Sergeant Shamgar.  The Primaris didn’t know what to make of Joab.  The torpedo rocked to the rhythm of the incoming fire.  The rest of Shamagar’s men stood behind Cain.  Sergeant Shamgar had been ordered to the “slack” position at the rear, charged with ensuring no opening was left unguarded, no opportunity missed in the first flurry of combat.

The odd, warbling, hollow peal of the warning bell sounded, cutting through the noise of the torpedo.  Cain and Shamgar both intoned “10 seconds to launch.”

Joab didn’t move.  The rest of the boarding squad braced, even Cain, veteran as old as the metal of Caliban in Joab’s hand unconsciously braced himself against the unimaginable force.

Some fraction of eternity later a hammer of force smashed the torpedo free of its launch tube.  Joab didn’t move.  Sensors and relays embedded in the hull of the torpedo gave them information.  Peleg had pressed close, every torpedo carried an unbelievably precious cargo and Peleg had sacrificed greatly among her ship and crew to ensure they struck home.  Scarce 10 seconds from launch, within seconds of the torpedo’s engine guttering out the bell pealed again.

“FIVE SECONDS” called Cain, even his normally controlled voice pitched louder as combat neared.  The party leaned into their harnesses, preparing for the immense crash as the torpedo struck.

Joab didn’t move.

The light cut out and suddenly Joab’s sword was point up, so fast a soft crack cut through the cacophony of battle.  A moment later the small torpedo struck the Iron Warriors cruiser, burrowing deep before the melta charge burned through As the panel disintegrated, cut to shrapnel by precise charges, Joab, unleashed, raced into the confusion.

The two Iron Warriors in the room never stood a chance, even the stolid sons of Perturabo took a moment to recover from the catastrophic blast of a boarding torpedo.  Ignoring the few surviving mortals Joab ran his blade under the arm of one, the point emerging from the other as he finally triggered the generator of the relic power sword, the initial energy discharge detonating the chest cavity and armor of the millenia old warrior he had just reduced to gore and scrap.  The bolt pistol in his shield barked twice, reducing the unhelmed head of the other Iron Warrior to a gory wreck before the first Primaris lifted a foot to join him.

Within moments the squad flooded the chamber, combat blades and boots silencing forever the mortals still struggling to comprehend the calamity that had befallen their fortress in the void.  Beacons bloomed as the rest of the boarding parties reported and Joab turned to follow the icon Cain had selected as the rally point for the party.  A large gallery that each team should be able to reach quickly.  Shield raised to just under his eyes, blade up and back, ready strike Joab ran the corridors as if he’d lived a lifetime in this ship.

Joab flowed down the corridors his legs a blur, his upper body rolling in the graceful rhythm of a swordsmen, always in perfect balance over his hips.  They erupted into the first blocking position the Iron Warriors tried to put in their way, almost a score of veterans of the long war, hastily but precisely building their defense.  They were not set when Joab erupted into their midst.  His blade flickered and danced, he moved with precisely controlled violence, denying the Iron Warriors a chance to fire at the Primaris emerging behind him while opening precise lanes for the Primaris to lay down the withering fire of their Bolt Rifles.  Any Iron Warrior hefting his bolter found himself using it to fend off a blade, anyone reading a blade found himself exposed to the fire erupting down the passage.

Suddenly an eruption of violence throws the Primaris back.  A champion of the Iron Warriors and his escort bursts in from a corridor, throwing back the two Primaris covering that corridor.  One crumpled, a giant power axe cleaving deep into his chest and erupting from his back.  A shower of gore exploded through the room as the top of his torso flopped loosely, held by a shard of armor and a flap of flesh and gristle.  The other warrior went down grappling with his assailant, combat blade and chainsword cutting at adamantium armor.  The other Iron Warrior came at Cain, his Plasma pistol scorching deep into Cain’s shoulder pad, he felt the burn on his flesh underneath, smelled the charred flesh.  He caught the Power Axe as it swung down on him, enfolding its haft with his power fist and snapping it.  Cain jammed his own pistol under the chin of the Cultist Astartes and pulled the trigger.

Joab turned from his last victim and brought his blade up in swift salute to the traitor champion.  Snapping the blade down he hefted his shield, angling it precisely.  The Iron Warrior brandished his own blade.  “IRON WITHIN, IRON WITHOUT!” he bellowed and swung his blade down.

Joab leaned to one side, catching the hook of the axe with the top of his shield and hooking the champion forward.  His own blade cut down sharply, cutting deep into the thigh of the warrior under the armor.  Strangely orange blood showered the deck.

“Blood within, scorn without!” called Joab, spinning around, hauling the axe down with his shield and decapitating the champion with a single, swift blow.

“Master Cain, Strike Force Bors requesting a landing beacon.  Our escort is heavily engaged and we cannot remain in the defense envelope of the cruiser much longer.”

Cain focused on the overlay a moment.  His force stood less than 30 meters from the rally point, the other boarding squads already occupied it.  “Bors, they will counterattack momentarily.  Breach the hull here,” he caused a beacon to blossom on a higher deck.  “And bring your firepower to bear on them in the galleries inward and below your entry point.”

“Affirmative, master”

Joab stood still as a statue by the corridor forward, Shamgar and two of his squad stood at the rear.  “Onward brothers, it will not be long before the Iron Warriors attack our lodgement.  We will form the shield for them to strike, Bors will be the hammer to shatter their forces.”  Without cheer or exaltation, Joab swung into motion, leading them into their fortress.

 

Last Son of Caliban: The Arrival

Master Cain sat in the command throne, his battleplate interfaced with the ships systems, projecting a constant stream of data across his faceplate.  The only data his eyes sought was the countdown to emergence.  Somehow the transit, one that should have taken barely a week, had stretched over two long months.

“Emergence”

“Sensors, full scan, Vox, raise the planet and any ships in the vicinity.  I must know what has happened in our absence.”  He carefully retained his seat.  His eagerness could already be sensed in his voice, he did not care to add his physical presence to the nervous serfs of the crew.

Shipmaster Peleg, evicted from her command chair had selected a position by the sensorium.  The powerful screens, scopes and sensors quickly gathered information and the servitors evaluated it.  Peleg jerked upright.  “Master Cain!  Mordia has… changed.”  She chewed the word, sounding repulsed by what she saw.  Cain selected the scope observing the planet and felt his gorge rise.  The planet seemed to undulate.  Shimmering waves of color passed across the terminator, patterns that whispered in his head, promising knowledge, wisdom beyond measure, secrets unknown ripe for the plucking.  He turned off the screen.

“Scan the other planets.  Focus on Luminaria.”

Peleg forced herself jerkily to close off the view of Mordia.  As soon as that scope slewed away she snapped upright, shoulders back, another stab of her fingers brought up the view of Luminaria.

“Shrine World of Luminaria looks… Luminaria stands!”  Another few switches and everyone could see the shrine world glowing, surrounded by fire as fleets battled.

“Vox, raise Luminaria, now.  Any identification on those ships?”

“Working now Master” came the call from the young officer at the Vox station.

“Helm, bring us in, Polar orbit for now.”  He keyed his vox to the network for the troops onboard “Warriors of the Fifth!  Mordian has fallen, but Luminaria stands!  We will deploy immediately to support her defender against the foe, and determine what has happened during out overlong transit.  All hands to drop stations.  Bors your blade will stand by to deploy by drop pod to clear a landing zone should we need one, Nabbuk we will go in by Thunderhawk once Bors has cleared the way.”  Two clicks on the vox were his only answer, the subnets spiked with activity as his Lieutenants quickly changed his orders into action.

“Master Cain, Blade of Vengeance is hailing us.”

“Open channel.  This is Master Cain of the Dark Angels leading the 5th Battle Company.  We are inbound to support your forces,”

“Well met Cain, I am Captain Tybahlt.  I am not sure what you know, but Mordian has fallen, corrupted by Chaos, the foul sorcerers of Magnus have turned it into their plaything.  The Iron Warriors have destroyed most of Luminaria.  The Iron Guard defends the last few shrines.  We are trying to pull them out but the Iron Warriors have the planet under tight control.  We have destroyed several ships, but both our fleets have suffered heavy damage.  You and your escorts might cut a way through.  How many boarding torpedoes do you have?”

Peleg threw a switch, tagging the information for his attention.  “6, 2 Thunderhawks, and fighters for escort.  One of our escort brings several Ravenwing pilots with it, they can cover us.”

“Excellent.  I will alert Lord Astorath.  We should have targets by the time you enter strike range.  For now plan on that Grand Cruiser being your boarding target.  For the Emperor!”

“For the Emperor”  Again he swapped channels.  “Brothers!  Our cousins the Blood Angels have been fighting a long battle, and the Mordians a longer one.  They cannot hold even with our help.  Astorath and the Blood Angels wish us to help them, evacuate the survivors of this system.  We will cut open a path, and the Blood Angels will escort them free.  Nabbuk, bring your troops to the boarding torpedoes.  Bors, prepare the Thunderhawks for breaching actions.  You have 10 minutes.”

Bors responded almost instantly.  “Master Cain, We can handle the initial boarding!”

“I know Bors, but you have most of our firepower and I need to know where to bring it in before committing it.  The Iron Warriors will have turned that ship into a fortress, and we will have limited time to cripple it.  I will lead the initial boarding with Nabbuk, and plant beacons for your Thunderhawks to strike.  Keep the fighters with you for cover, and husband your forces carefully.  The Iron Warriors are tenacious fighters and will whittle you down at every chance.”

“I… Yes Master Cain.  You are correct.”  Bors clicked off the channel and began issuing his own orders.

“Shipmaster Peleg!”  Cain said over his speakers.

“Master Cain.”  Peleg braced to formal attention, the tall woman coming almost to Cain’s armpit.

“The ship is yours, deliver us to boarding range of the Grand Cruiser, my men will board and cripple her.  Smash aside her escorts, and alert us if other ships seek to intervene.  We must open a way for the transports that will be fleeing the planet soon.  Serve the First Legion well today Shipmaster.”

“As always, Master Cain.”  Peleg said evenly.  Making the sign of the Aquila across her chest she turned to the crew.  “General quarters.  All hands rig for close combat and boarding.  Bosun, send all available crew to the batteries, and ensure ammunition feeds are ready.  Engines, prepare for full burn as soon as Master Cain signals readiness.  Helm, I want a course ready to take us close enough to the Grand Cruiser to damn well walk to her.  Her gun batteries might reach a long way but they traverse like they are encased in lead…” Her voice cut off as Cain left the bridge.  Cain hustled now, Nabbuk should be nearly ready and the range to the cruiser was already closing.  As Cain approached the torpedo room he slowed, striding through with the careful pace of a swordsman.

“Master Cain, the target is the Ferrous Malice.  A Repulsive class, or close enough, lots of long range firepower.  We approach her head on, 3 minutes to contact.”

“Board the torpedoes brothers.  It won’t be long before Peleg delivers us into battle.”

Little Green Men: The Repulsor

I like most of the new Primaris line.  The models are well made, they look great on the table exuding a solid efficiency which goes especially well with the determined Dark Angels.  While not as flexible as the classic Astartes they work well, especially in larger battles.

What I don’t like is the Repulsor.  The concept of a heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicle isn’t a bad one, especially for the 40k universe.  The problem comes in the execution of… pretty much everything.  The kit itself is something of a mixed bag.  It’s highly detailed, solid, massive looking, but at the same time it’s busy, complicated, underscaled and fairly poorly designed.

When you assemble the kit it’s incredibly frustrating because gapping is inevitable. To have an $80 model that cannot be built without gapping even with a generous application of sanding, rubber bands and masses of glue is incredibly frustrating.  And I still need 3 more to complete my battle company because it’s the only transport that can carry Primaris.  In addition having a transport capacity of only 10 (as opposed to 12) means that any HQ characters need their own battle taxi.  In addition even when fully assembled it looks busy.  Every inch of the upper hull and turret seems covered with bric-a-brac.  Painting these is going to be a nightmare.

The rules for it are a mess as well.  Instead of making it a super Razorback, with beefier weapons and maybe an additional secondary weapon, they made it a super Land Raider with multiple primary weapons and a plethora of secondary weapons that requires a cheat card during the shooting phase to make sure you remember all your weapons.  Add to this the previously mentioned problem with finding a space for characters with your 10 man squads and these vehicles just have problems in the rulebook.

Finally, this Land-Raider sized vehicle is way too small.  I’m not kidding.  The doors are too small, the turret simply doesn’t have room for even a gunner and all the ammunition feeds for the half dozen weapons in it.  The hull doesn’t have room for a drive system, driver, ammunition/power supplies for the weapons and more than a couple passengers.  I really wish they’d brought in a level headed veteran to help them with the design.  I think the vehicle would be vastly improved by removing several turret weapons, some of the hull weapons, adding a couple passenger seats, and just being about 25% larger.  This would make it make more sense, be less of a time sink to use in a battle, and much more efficient (even with a slight price increase for the added size) as you don’t need an extra one just to be a 300 point commander’s taxi.

The problem with the Repulsor isn’t that it’s bad.  Because it really isn’t.  The problem with the Repulsor is that it’s mediocre from top to bottom.  It can’t QUITE carry enough.  It’s size doesn’t QUITE make sense.  It’s got just a FEW too many weapons to use without being frustrating for you and your opponent.  And the assembly is, frankly, bad.  Yes when that huge wall of lead smashes whole squads and a tank it can be a lot of fun.  Yes it’s real nice to zoom 10 intercessors out to an objective and then have a wall of metal and guns sitting there daring someone to make them move, but their captain is running along behind trying to get in range to bubble them, 10 hours later you’re done with your shooting phase, and all you can see is the gaps in the model.

Maybe GW has a Primaris Rhino planned for release.  It would be nice.

40k A Belated New Years

Hello readers and welcome to 2018!  It’s only almost April…

40k is still progressing.  I’ve played all of 2 or 3 games even!  I have yet to complete any models but I have gotten a lot of airbrushing done.  I have a squad of Hellblasters, 5 devastators, a Lieutenant (Bors gets a model!) all green, I need to assemble and prime/green the rest of the devastators (I’m awash in tac marine sprues for some reason).  I also have a LOT of wings and jump packs from the Sanguinary Guard which should let me make Bors, as well as another 5 assault marines as the awesome looking squad I already have.

This means that really all I have left to collect is vehicles.  Painting wise I am focusing on 5th company elements, then I will push more terminators and the Ravenwing elements.  Look for some pictures of my Fire Support teams soon, as well as an updated TOE for the company.  I’ve been putting some thought into it.  I am going to do some writing on the fiction as and when it strikes me, and I’m working on a HUGE major project for next year that I think will interest most of you.  For now, plan on seeing some miniatures next week!

Little Green Men: Last of the Year

So this has been a very productive year for painting.  More than 40 miniatures painted, including several vehicles, and all to a standard I’m very happy with.  December has been a rocky month with work being absolutely crazy but next month is already looking much better.  I have 10 Hellblasters, 4 heavy weapons, a Sergeant, a Lieutenant, a techmarine, and a medic all ready to go Tomorrow or Saturday I should be able to assemble the other 6 heavy weapons and get myself ready to paint my heavy weapons infantry and remaining characters.

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Sorry about the potato picture quality.  I didn’t have much time to set it up.  Better stuff to come.

Currently I have 22 Tacticals in 3 squads (6,6,10) 10 Intercessors, 5 Assault Marines, a Captain, 3 Lieutenants, an Ancient, Zeke, a Predator, a Rhino, a Razorback, 8 Terminators all painted.  I want to get the 10 Devastators and 10 Hellblasters done ASAP.  They are so good in this edition.

2nd and 3rd I’m going to be doing some painting, at a minimum getting the Hellblasters done.  More than likely getting the devastators done as well.  This will get me to the point where I really just have the Inceptors, some of the Assault troopers, and vehicles to get the battle company done.  I know I’ve talked a lot about the bikes but I’ve re focused myself.  I want to get the entire 5th Company painted and on the table.  I need to get a couple other primaris characters, and paint a few others, but the command group is looking really good and the army itself is filling out nicely.  Purchase wise I believe I’m down to vehicles unless I add another Intercessor squad.  I have all the traditional astartes I need, including heavy weapons and specialists, while I do have a Veteran Squad I’d like to do they will be very expensive and require some additional skills I’ll need to work on to get them done.  I also would like to do another 5 Dark Angel Assault Troops with Sanguinary Guard wings, but again, 90 dollars for 5 marines is a lot.  Especially when I have 5 perfectly good assault marines sitting there waiting for paint.

I’m excited for next year.  I’m excited to see where the hobby goes and where my skills take me.  I’m already planning for Armies on Parade, for expanding beyond the 5th Company, and for what to do with all the Aeldari my wife has.

 

40k Year in Review

So I’m going to do a simple year in review for 40k.  Not much structure as this is just a horrifically busy week for me.  More an overview.

The Best of Times

8th Edition Release(s)

So after going through the fiasco that was the Age of Simar release, and watching as PP fucks up Warmahordes almost as bad with their 3rd Edition release, GW manages to orchestrate a very careful, organized launch, and carry that momentum clear through the end of the year, starting well before the actual release with the return of Magnus and Guilliman, and continuing through the release of 10 codexes this year, massive upgrades to Space Marine armies, and some pretty solid balancing of armies.

The New Kits

Holy shit these are great.  The Primaris look very good, even if they are a bit of a pain to assemble, the Death Guard look amazing, and all of the Primarchs look simply incredible on the table.

Events galore

Fate of Konor was a ton of fun.  Armies on Parade was great fun.  There’s plenty of chances for events from purely collecting/modeling competitions to ultra-competitive high intensity tournaments.  Des Moines has had at least 1 major event every month, and that’s JUST for 40k.

On Message, On Target

Ok, look, we all know I’m a feminist, and that representation in 40k is a bit lacking.  Female dominated armies are a bit lacking, and boobplate shows up a lot more than it should.  In addition the features of nearly every sculpt are very “European” even for armies that supposedly aren’t.  GW has been vocal about increasing diversity and cutting down on some of the more sexist elements of their models.  While there has been limited opportunity for them to do it with their long pipeline from project inception to release, they’ve played a lot of the right notes, now let’s see if the players on stage match the music.

Living Rules

I mean, yeah buying Chapter Approved every year is going to be a bit of a drain, but MAN it’s nice to see them FAQing and Errata-ing and just maintaining things.  SO nice.

The Worst of Times

(Not) Fixing the Rules

So the biggest things they needed to fix were invuln saves and re-rolls.  They did not fix them.  They added mortal wounds.  Now there’s army comps that can spam them through psychic powers that made the problem with Alpha Strikes just incredibly worse.  I think they will need to figure out what to do about the huge number of 4++ or better invuln saves (I think even special characters shouldn’t have them very often) and re-roll auras… I like how they make any character interesting but holy hell does it slow down the game.  Just give a +1 to hit or wound and call it a day.

Alpha Strike

First turn is huge.  Way too big.  I’m hoping next year’s Chapter Approved brings us some alternating activation because the way things are it’s just ugly sometimes.  You can be crippled in a turn and that before you get a chance to go.

Marines are great, what else is there?

Not.  Much.  Eldar got a brief re-release of old models.  No real upgrades or new releases.  Nids got a little love, but not much.  Grey Knights got nothing.  CSM other than Death Guard got nothing.  Other Chaos got only stuff originally designed for AoS.  I get that Space Marines sell better than anything, but they HAVE more than anything.  Give Eldar or Orks that kind of love and see what happens!

Blue-Washing

Things aren’t all steak and sunshine even for the Marines.  More and more, chapters with distinct and carefully developed histories are being turned into Ultramarines.  This isn’t good, it isn’t interesting and it doesn’t help the narrative.  Hopefully GW starts looking at the issue and either puts someone in charge of fluff development that isn’t Matt Ward.

It’s been a great year.  Probably the best for 40k in a long damn time.  There’s clouds on the horizon but there’s a lot of sun and a lot of clear seas too.  Just a matter of navigating the waters wisely, and so far GW seems to have hit more clear water the storms.

Last Son of Caliban: The Gift of Hate

Habbakuk sat in his quarters, looking at the dagger before him.  The dull green glow of the stone in its pommel seemed improbable coming from such an ill-cut lump.  The stone looked like it had been shaped with crude stone tools, yet it still glowed, even in the dull candlelight of Habbakuk’s quarters.  Interrogator-Chaplains lived in quarters far less spartan than the humble cells most of the Dark Angels brotherhood lived in.  Their role as both spiritual leaders, and guardians came with many trappings, some easy to understand, some far subtler.  Habbakuk hated the banners and the books.  Habbakuk hated the litanies and the lies.  Habbakuk hated the traitors and the easily led astray.  Habbakuk hated everything except the pure, clean truth.  But Habbakuk understood the need for shields between the true horror of the Fallen and the unprepared minds of his brothers.  He hated their weakness, but he understood their potential.  Habbakuk led them in the litanies he despised, steeling them that they might ascend to a higher understanding.

He contemplated the dagger.  A weapon of old earth, brought to Caliban and saved from the wreckage of Caliban’s destruction by the watchers in the dark.  The Khazd had crafted the stone in ages long forgotten.  Habbakuk knew that if he picked up the blade the stone would glow even brighter, responding to the strength deep within him despite its humble-seeming carving.   The Khazd must have been master craftsmen, but according to the documents that went with the stone they had been weak.  While commissioned to place this stone and other great ones into a necklace they had tried to steal it from a great king of the Telar resulting in a great war.  The necklace had been lost but the stone recognized when discovered in the early days of the Emperor’s reign.  A thing seemingly crude, yet possessed of a subtle strength it carried a powerful message.  One which Habbakuk wished to use.

Every warrior of the Dark Angels possessed a reliquary of weapons.  From the humble Neophyte with his noble bolter and simple carapace to Supreme Grand Master Azrael with an arsenal fit to arm a full company in splendor, the warriors of the First venerated the instruments of war, and Habbakuk was no exception to the rule.  The Inquisitor-Chaplain had fought for decades before ascending to the chaplaincy, and decades more before taking up the keys and blades of an Interrogator.  He brought with him weapons, armor and artifacts dating back to the dawn of the Empire and before.  Not to bear to war, his wargear he kept simple, but to use as tools in his quest to save the Unforgiven.

The door chimed as Master Cain requested entry.  Habbakuk signaled assent and the door slid aside with a soft chuff.  Rising to his full height the Interrogator refused to look up at the towering figure before him.  “Master Cain, you have come into much knowledge that we guard most jealously.”  He paused a moment.  “We protect the spirit of our brothers most zealously” he spat out in a voice suitable to grind rocks.

Master Cain looked back impassively.  Looking at the glowing coals of Habbakuk’s eye slits.  Even here in his quarters the Interrogator Chaplain sat prepared for war.  As if sensing the Master’s thoughts Habbakuk went on, grinding out the sentences.  “You must guard this information well, yet use it.  You must guide your brothers and your warriors, prepare them for their own day of enlightenment.  Grand Master Ezekiel and I hunt the Fallen.  You carry out your mission and help us guard the secret.  That is all you must do.  That is all you shall do.”

Master Cain glared into the lenses, his presence potent.  Habbakuk ignored it as a boulder ignores a wave crashing over it.  In a flash Habbakuk snatched the dagger by the handle, flipped it and hurled it at the Primaris.  Keyed up by Habbakuk’s hostility the Master snatched the dagger by the blade even as its tip pricked his chest.  Only his arm had moved, his gaze still locked on the black avatar of hate before him, he lifted the dagger to look at it before unfreezing to examine the beautifully crafted weapon, and the brilliant gem in its pommel.

“This is Nargond’s dagger.  The stone comes from old Earth, the blade from Caliban.  It has two loyalties, two homes.  It serves one Master.  Contemplate it as you master your new duties.  That is all.”

Little Green Men: Slow Holiday Blues

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Ancient Uriah joins his Battle-Brothers.  The banner isn’t terribly exciting yet but I’ve got a couple ideas.  My freehand game is weak but I have a lot of transfers to work with so we will find some embellishments to add to it.  I got Lieutenant Smiley and built him with a helmet.  His smiling face might make it onto a librarian later, I decided to paint him by hand after priming him with an airbrush.  All the green you are looking at is Caliban green.  20171219_171618.jpg

Getting an even coat on the GW Base Caliban Green was not easy.  He’s going to take a lot of touching up.  I still have a total of 3 Lieutenants to do, an Apothecary and a Company Champion.  Oh and some Tarterus terminators.  That I’m doing cork bases for.  You may have noticed.

I also got a nice gift from a friend including a Dark Angels venerable Dreadnought.  The instructions are… The usual Forgeworld lack of instructions.  It’s not like it’s a difficult model but wow that is sparse.  I also have some Rhino doors to kit out the new Razorback.  I need to get some assault cannons for it, but that’s easy enough.  I also have a box of Hellblasters to assemble.  That’s going to be a bit of a chore as there’s a lot of part for not a lot of poseability.  They do look really good, and I can do a couple things to make them look even better, especially since the new Dark Angels Hellblasters box comes with not one but TWO accessory sprues and a really good Dark Angels transfer sheet that has both the Infantry and Vehicle decals all on one monster sheet.  It could be arranged better but it’s still an amazing added value to the box.

This leaves me with basically a box of Devastators, two Razorbacks, two Rhinos, two Repulsors, a Primaris Apothecary, Chaplain, and Librarian, a box of assault marines and Sanguinary guard to finish the assault squad, and that should get me the models for the whole battle company.  That’s an intimidating list, and I probably want another squad of Primaris Intercessors and their Repulsor as well just because they are so damn good!

Painting wise I’m going to whittle away at the command group a little bit more.  I want to get at least 2 of the LTs this week, ideally all three, and the apothecary to boot.  I’m still focusing on the “Greenwing” company, but I need to work on the bikes.  They are too good in the codex to ignore.  This project is going to last well into the summer just to get the company as it exists in the story on the table fully painted, but it will happen, and when it does, I’m going to have to find an Apocalypse game to play!