Category Archives: Warhammer 40k
Warhammer 40k: Indomitus
Ok, I know I’m a bit late to the party but now that the Dark Angels book has come out I want to talk a little bit about a couple things. First, the game is different. The rules changes from 7th to 8th edition were huge, but somehow I feel the game has changed more, and more for the better from 8th to 9th, even though the actual changes weren’t that big. I still don’t like some things (proliferation of invuln saves and mortal wounds being 1 and 1a) but the game focuses a LOT more on objective play and scenarios. You have to build an army that can do a LOT more than just kill things (while, you know, still killing things). Marines going to 2W is, well, about 7 editions overdue in my not so humble/biased opinion. Terminators hit 3W which is very spicy, even with significant 2D weapons out there, firstborn marines are back with a vengeance.
Xenos haven’t had much to get excited about. Necrons got a pile of new stuff and they climbed the tier list, kept their flavor, and, I think, brought some new life to the lifeless robotic hordes. Aeldari are hoping for a similar pass, but they got a bit of a pass with Ynnari (which then got nerfed out of existence) and a handful of new models for Howling Banshees and Drazzhar. While Aeldari and Orks both BADLY need new models, I’m not holding my breath.
Ok, now to talk about the DA releases a couple weeks ago.
Dark Angels are R-E-L-E-V-A-N-T now. Like, hellooooooo meta. No more excuses for getting my head handed to me anymore. Automatic free Transhuman Physiology (never wounded on a roll of 1-3 no matter the weapon’s S)
Basically the Deathwing and Ravenwing are both troops if you put them all together in a detachment, and you can take a Vanguard/Outrider detachment as a Battalion (i.e. no CP cost) if it has your warlord in it, which is just… YES! The only problem is doing 1 of each to give you a classic Black & White army leaves you with only 8 elite slots and YOU WANT TO FILL EVERY ONE OMG. I’ve been making lists for a game next week and just… EVERYTHANG is good. Plain old Deathwing? Knights? Bladeguard? Champion? Ancient? Ravenwing Apothecary that works in both detachments and is the BEST APOTHECARY IN THE GAME? Relic Terminators? Deathwing Command Squad? Probably the only stinker is the Deathwing Apothecary because he’s so completely outclassed by the Ravenwing version. The Ravenwing rejoices in speed with so much elan it’s probably going to make any White Scars die-hards just give up. ObSec, great weapon options, and really useful stratagem kit that lets them deliver a ton of firepower as well as their jink invuln save (5++ 4++ if they advanced) is just brutal Oh yeah and a top notch Psychic discipline that gives you buffs, debuffs, tactical fuckery and just seems SO good thematically.
The big downside is that you are going to be a small elite army. There’s some real potential to be outnumbered by everything except Knights. Fortunately you can just pile in obsec units. Deathwing Terminators, Terminator squads, Close Combat Terminator squads, and Relic terminators can all be obsec, as can Bikes and Outrider bikes. Greenwing exists, but why? I mean I literally have an almost completely mechanized battle company and I just can’t see it hitting the table without some serious nerfs to Deathwing and Ravenwing. But, there was a clear swing and a miss in the releases. The Patrol Box.
That…. That isn’t a Dark Angels box. That’s a bunch of random crap painted Dark Angels colors and thrown in a box. They didn’t even bother to use the Plasma Inceptors, just the Assault Bolter version, with a combat squad of intercessors, a Dread, and a Chaplain. No thanks. You know what box WAS a Dark Angels box despite GW not marketing it as such?
In 8th edition I complained (correctly) that Dark Angels were little more than slightly different Ultramarines painted Green. Clearly GW has someone specifically reading my blog who saw that and acted on my criticism to differentiate them better. Good job. Because now we have a whole box of Dark Angels painted Blue.
I’m not even kidding. The Captain, the Lieutenant, the Blade Guard, the Blade Guard Ancient, and the Chaplain all can be Deathwing. The Outriders are Ravenwing, the Judicar can SADLY be in neither, and will be relegated to Greenwing detachments despite being an awesome model with amazing rules. The eradicators are a rare bright spot in the Greenwing, being excellent with the DA special rules, and the assault intercessors are good for learning how to paint, I guess, because assault marines are just awful and assault marines without a jet pack are even worse so why even bother putting them together.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.