Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Resolutions: The Results!

It's the last day of 2013 and time to see how my resolutions panned out. Not good on glance to be honest, I've had an awful year both personally and hobbywise. I've been ill a lot, in hospital a few times, financially broke and working awkward hours, so it's been a struggle. Never-the-less, it's time to see those all important results. Stay tuned tomorrow for my 2014 resolutions!

1. Have a fully painted 3,000 point Necron Army

FAILED - I actually think that my Triarch Stalker (as seen left) was the last, possibly only thing I painted this year and that was back in... when? February? The problem was that I got too caught up in other things, like painting miniatures for presents, painting contests and then real life. Oh, and the release of the Space Marine codex didn't help the dynastic cause either. Still there's always if/when I get bored of painting Ultramarines and if rumours are true, it'll be 2015 when the new Necron codex is released.

2. Have a fully painted (Legal) 1,500 point Bretonnian Army

FAILED - This is pretty evident from my complete, fully painted army to the left here. Yeah, not great. I suppose hearing about the new Bretonnian Army Book is only just round the corner made me want to hold back, or maybe it's because I looked at all those horses and went "I really don't want to paint that many horses right now". Tedious, tedious, tedious. They're something I need to be in the right frame of mind to paint and this year I just haven't been. I'm sure I'll eventually do these but right now I'm more interested in guns and skeletal robots.


3. Enter all my hobby group's painting contests

FAILED - I entered 4/12 of these, unfortunately I didn't write about two of them because I lost my momentum about March/April time and took a while to find my feet again. I entered the Non-Astartes Imperial model (Culexus), Chaos (see left), Bike/Cavalry (see Bretonnians) and HQ or equivalent (My Hobbit Goblin King), the latter of the two I didn't write about. Once I missed one, I found it hard to motivate myself to seek out the models I needed just to complete this task. I might slightly amend this for target for 2014.



4. Play 2 battles every month against different armies

FAILED - As soon as Games Workshop Wood Green closed, a spanner was thrown in the works as I was always in there and can just pick up a game as long as a table was free. Now my new local GW is the Enfield store and, don't get me wrong it's a great store and Jamie who works there is an awesome guy, but they have 1 table and you need to book it in advance. I had 1 game against Khorne Daemons and lost, and I had a game or two against my friend's Tyranids but otherwise games have been very dry on the ground. Hopefully this'll change.



5. Write a battle report every month

FAILED - Pretty hard to write a battle report every month when I can't even game every month! I've tried filling the void with articles that I hope you have all enjoyed reading, but it's not good enough really is it? I need to figure out how to get more games in or just be really hot on phoning Enfield for bookings. Or set up my own gaming den. We'll see how it all goes, I already have my Tyranid buddy itching for a game after his codex is released, a Blood Angels player wanting to battle me as well as a few others. We shall see next year...



6. Start "Project: Smurfs"

SUCCESS - Yay! One success, finally! To be honest I fully expected myself to still be painting Necrons into December when I wrote these resolutions, but then A Tale Of X Gamers came and didn't continue and I painted Sicarius to start the project. The project slowly died and then the Space Marine codex was released and my vigor was returned and now I have a small force of Ultramarines building, and there's no stopping the Marine train now! Here's to more in 2014.


7. Get some terrain done and play a game on my own board

PARTIAL - Now, ah, here's where I have a problem being decisive about whether I completed this or not. See, no terrain has been worked on this year other than a few buildings being stuck together. However, I have played a game on my board, I just never wrote about it on this blog because I forgot my camera, d'oh! Basically the verdict was that I lost and it was against my Tyranid buddy. The game board was actually a little larger than what we were used to and looked amazing. There's really very little point in working too much on terrain because there's very little room to play games in my new place. Maybe next year I should add to resolve this problem to my list? Maybe I will. Stay tuned...






8. HOBBIT!

YOU DECIDE! - I don't know how to mark this so you decide. I said my box set can't go to waste, but what does that mean exactly? Start the army I wanted to start as in Dwarves? Open the box up? Paint something from it? I've painted the Goblin King from the box set and the box itself has indeed been opened, so have I technically succeeded or just trying to make out that I succeeded? In any case I've only painted what you see on the left for the Hobbit. Sad but true. Didn't expect to even get this far to be honest.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas...

So I have been pretty slow hobbywise lately, what with Christmas and work and stress and being tired. Oh and being ill on a nearly constant basis. I was pretty shocked to see myself think of an army list last week. I have managed to to do a few bits and pieces though, namely finished painting the main bodies of my damned legionnaires:

A glorious visage of death
Very happy with the results so far, but taking too long to be perfectly honest, mostly due to me hating to clean up metal miniatures. It's not my most favourite of past times it has to be said.

So how are my Ultramarines coming on so far? Well I took a few pictures of my entire work on them this year (not very good progress) including some models I've been working on that I haven't yet posted about, see if you can spot them.




You may have spotted a couple of miniatures using the new Tactical Squad bits. I must say I love the new kit, easily better than the retired old kits that have been around since the dawn of time. I'm using the bits to add to my existing combat squads and I must say I'm very happy with the 6th Marine of my Octavian Tactical Squad:


So, what now? Well I'm going to work for two more days, then I'm off to spend the yule time period with my family elsewhere in the UK, so no more hobbying until possibly the New Year. I will at least post around New Years Eve for the results of my New Years Resolution from the start of 2013 (not well...). Bet you all forgot about that! Also, my sister has told me I have a surprise Space Marine miniature set for Christmas, and the promise is that it will be the first (new) project of 2014, so my hobbying for now lies in the hands of my sibling.

So from myself until my next post...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ultramarines: A Revised Army List

An interesting question was posed in the comments section of my last 1,500 point Ultramarines list, basically asking what I would chop and change now the fifth edition codex has arrived and how would I use the changes to my advantage.

It was one of the few questions posed to me hobbywise that really made me think. Although not much has really changed in the book since 5th edition, the changes that have been made have quite a significant impact on my old list and may even leave me with a little bit of wiggle room to either try or add new things. There is stuff in the new edition codex that I really want to sink my teeth in, new tactics to be explored and chapter tactics to take advantage of, not to mention a few new units (notably flyers, anti-air tanks and Centurions) and some point jiggery pokery going on - Cato Sicarius is notably cheaper for example.

So in this post I will attempt to revise my old army list and give concise reasons to my choices. I doubt much has changed since this and my last list, an emphasis on tank superiority and divide/conquer tactics are still the lynchpin of Space Marine armies (whether people see this or not).

HQ

Captain Cato Sicarius (185pts)
  • Sicarius is still a top choice for tactics, allowing me to grant special rules to a single Tactical Squad per game and he is harder than your average captain at a 15 point reduction - that's another full Space Marine I can take!
Techmarine with Power Axe (65pts)
  • When am I ever going to say no to a +1 cover save bonus and the chance to repair my many vehicles? 65 points and doesn't take up a FOC slot? I'm in.

 

TROOPS

Tactical Squad - 10 man squad/Lascannon/Plasma Gun/Teleport Homer/Rhino (220pts)
  • No Veteran Sergeant as unit will be a fire/tactical support unit. Lascannon/Plasma Gun can be used as a fast striking anti-armour combo that, when combined with the teleport homer can allow the unit to clear space and leave room for terminator drops. A Rhino is dedicated transport as mobile cover and to quickly move the unit to maximise their efficiency. A full 20 points reduction from last edition.
Tactical Squad - 10 man squad/Heavy Bolter/Melta Gun/Rhino (195pts)
  • The "swiss army knife" tactical squad. At full power they have a heavy bolter and melta gun to be able to snipe any foe, be they numerous or heavily armoured, or combat squad into two different units with particular roles. A Rhino is added mostly as mobile cover (covering objectives and the like). A full 20 points cheaper than my last equivalent squad with a flamer!
Tactical Squad - 10 man squad/Missile Launcher with Flakk/Grav Gun/Drop Pod with Locator Beacon/Veteran Sergeant with Plasma Pistol and Chainsword (220pts)
  • The obliterator choice of troops - the first assault unit that are expensive but not as expensive as the first Tactical Squad would've been in 5th edition. This squad is the initial blow things to pieces unit with a veteran sergeant making full use of an extra attack and plasma pistol. The missile launcher can deal with anti-armour, numbers and flyers, whilst the grav gun can fire a healthy amount of shots and take care of pesky high armour saves. The locator beacon on the drop pod will cause a problem for the opponent, do they take out the teleport homer coming at them or the locator beacon behind their lines?

 

ELITES

Terminator Squad - 5 man squad/Assault Cannon/2 Chainfists (230pts)
  • Terminators are a far more safe bet to begin with than Terminator Assault Squads. They can make better use of teleport homers/locator beacons, still being able to fire off that vital assault cannon, whereas Terminator Assault Squads are better off in a Land Raider or Storm Raven. Amazingly this squad is exactly the same points as before.

 

FAST ATTACK

Landspeeder Squadron - 2 Landspeeders with Heavy Bolters/Multi-Meltas (140pts)
  • For fast hitting, fast acting support against both troops and armour. These guys can act according to how the battle unfolds.
Assault Squad - 5 man squad/Flamer/Melta Bombs/Veteran Sergeant (105pts)
  • A small, cheap assault squad with a flamer for when I need hand-to-hand combat. The flamer acts as a numbers killer and a mobile flame weapon wherever needed.

 

HEAVY SUPPORT

Whirlwind (65pts)
  • Reliable ordnance support and cheap too.
Stalker (75pts)
  • For those pesky flyers invading my airspace as they always do. Stick them in reserve to surprise your opponent! 

Total: 1,500 points

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The trouble with flyers...

An interesting question was posed by my hobby group the other day as part of an initiative to get everyone in the group to get more involved with the hobby, and that question was "if you could change any rule about your chosen system, would you and what would it be?"

Well yes actually. Don't misunderstand me, I love sixth edition Warhammer 40k and it stands tall as my absolute favourite edition to my favourite hobby. Having said that, nothing's perfect and I feel there are a couple of little tweaks that can be made that would make sixth edition, for all intents and purposes a perfect ruleset. These are very small niggles but I found my main problem with the system concerns flyers.

Now don't get me wrong, I love flyers and I am giddy with anticipation to one day field a Storm Talon in my Ultramarines army (I've thought of some very useful tactics indeed regarding them). It isn't the existence of flyers that nag at me, nor the absolute frustration in trying to hit them, but rather a couple of illogical rules.

Firstly, regarding flyer transports and the impact they have when wrecked/exploded. I do not get Games Workshop's logic in this, regardless of which result happens the transported always take more damage than any ground troops that are caught in the way. This makes perfect sense if an explodes! result is rolled, it's a bit hard to justify not taking a huge hit when you're stuck inside what essentially is a bomb at this point. However, I do not agree with the same logic on a wrecked result.

Consider this. These advanced flying machines 38,000 years into our future have hi-tech weaponry, super efficient engines and top of the line armour... but no emergency crash landing procedures. You couple this with the fact that being hit full on by a fully intact aircraft on the ground is apparently less likely to kill you than essentially wearing a space seat belt. Hmmmm...


Secondly, regarding not being able to shoot blast template weapons at flyers. Why not?? Are Games Workshop telling us Plasma Cannons are one of the most destructive pieces of artillery known to mankind but they can't look up? I get Games Workshop have done this to streamline the rules and simplify them but it makes little sense.

Snap Shots as a whole I get and love the idea. You don't want to Snap Shot blast weapons incase you blow something you didn't mean to blow up, yeah I get that. But these are aerial based vehicles, not something that will easily back fire on you back on ground level. Flamers I get, they have limited range, but it would be nice to shoot plasma into the skies!

With these in mind, I have a couple of house rules I may suggest in future games. Feel free to incorporate these into your games if you like the sound of them:

When a flyer transport vehicle is wrecked - As per rulebook, but when the vehicle suffers a wrecked result rather than an explodes! result, reverse the strength of the hit for both ground troops and passangers.

Firing blast weapons at flyers - In these cases, the weapon may snap shot, disregard the "blast" rule for this weapon when firing at flyers. If a heavy weapon would snap shot at a normal target e.g. a devastator without relentless has moved then they may not fire at flyers at all for that turn. If testing to see if a flying monstrous creature is grounded by such a shot, their roll is 1 step more difficult as the explosion makes it harder to stay airborne.

As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

I'll Be Damned!

It's been a little quiet on here for the last week or so. Sorry about that. The primary reason is because I have to earn a living and have been long, loooong shifts at my real life workplace this week and have had no time to paint or update. I have been hobbying however, these are the latest things I've worked on.

Now I've kept a little hush hush on these because I was planning on entering these into my group's latest painting contest entitled "The best of the best" in which we had to plaint an elite choice or equivalent for Warhammer/Hobbit. I've had a hankering to paint these guys up for a while now, Force Organisation Chart be, pardoned the pun, damned. I really wanted to do a painting project I was going to enjoy, I can continue with my Tactical Squads later on, it's really not a problem.

So far I have done the armour, the flames and the basecoat of the skeletons. Maybe I will finish these guys within the deadline, but with only 2 hours to do anything after work, many things to sort out on the weekend and some geniuses that lent me Breaking Bad and released Pokemon during the same time (yeah, I know, I'm sad, what can I say? I like collecting things!), I really don't hold out much hope.

So as a bit of a visual treat, I decided to post up some old Legion of the Damned models that my own father painted. To give you all a little history, my dad painted miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons games, even having some of his models displayed in store. I painted my own models, but my dad fell in love with the Legionnaires (as did I, admittedly). Back in second edition, Games Workshop released a White Dwarf to field an army of them, and he loved painting them. Here was the result and the miniatures that inspired me to be the best painter I could be:

LotD army in all it's glory
Techmarine and Rhino
LotD Marines
More LotD Marine
Dreadnought
Landspeeder Tornado

Maybe these guys will see a battle in the future? Come on Games Workshop, you know you want to do a Legion of the Damned supplement!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Space Marine Special Characters: Part 2, Other Chapters

So now I have gone through the all the Ultramarine special characters and their special traits, it's time to focus on their other chapter counterparts. As a general rule, as most other chapters have only the one special character to their name, most of these guys are, for the most part buffers.

Someone made a very good point in my Chapter Tactics article that a few of my observations did not cater for special characters, and that's very true. However I will now look at how these characters affect their army lists and factor them into the pros and cons of each chapter.

Kor'sarro Khan

The captain of the White Scars 3rd company was, in my opinion only a slightly better captain than you could make up normally back in 5th, save for the ability to give your army the Outflank and Hit & Run special rules. Now that White Scars gain the latter of these rules naturally, it means Kor'sarro has gained a few minor but noticeable changes.

Question. What is more frightening than an army of fast moving, hard hitting Mongol bikers? An army of fast moving, hard hitting Mongol bikers that start the game 6" closer to you. That can make a massive difference to a White Scars army and it's possible to do that only with Kor'sarro. His own biker skills are mad in their own rights too - coupled with his White Scar Chapter Tactics and if he takes Moondrakkan, S5 on the charge with 5 attacks (3 attacks naturally, +1 for charging, +1 for a bolt pistol and Moonfang), plus another D3 S5 Hammer of Wrath hits (+1 strength due to Chapter Tactics), 3+/4++ save with at least 4+ cover save when moving as well as Hit & Run and a power sword with the possibility to Instant Kill makes the Khan a biking god.

His Warlord Trait is Champion of Humanity, and with the number of attacks at a high strength and high lethality means he's no slouch in challenges and is likely to win those precious D3 victory points when fighting the enemy warlord.

In my honest opinion, Kor'sarro is an absolute must for White Scar armies but he only really shines when on Moondrakkan, and with the upgrade he is still 35 points cheaper than Cato Sicarius and possibly twice as deadly. My only real gripe with Kor'sarro is that Games Workshop haven't seen fit to make a model with him on Moondrakkan. Come on GW, pull your finger out!

Vulkan He'Stan

Typical of any real Salamanders character, Vulkan (not to be confused with the Primarch) really shines mostly because of his wargear. Vulkan is armed to the teeth with ancient relics, all of which are really nice but essentially make Vulkan a normal character with improved equipment. He does have a 2+/3++ save which makes a mockery of most characters defenses, a Heavy Flamer that re-rolls a single failed to-wound and, what is essentially a Master-Crafted Relic Blade (which you can take anyway due to the Salamanders Chapter Tactics).

Vulkan's ace up the sleeve, however is his ability to make all melta weapons master-crafted, making them a more tempting choice than just pure flamer action. It's a nice little touch that makes Salamander armies more varied in what kind of damage they can do (flamers for anti-infantry, meltas for anti-armour).

It's hard to call Vulkan when the nearest equivalent Captain choice is roughly 65 points cheaper, but his ability to make meltas master-crafted is very handy if you're armed to the teeth with them, and his wargear is very nice (it's rare to see a character with a Heavy Flamer, let alone one with digital weapons - plus 3++ saves are very useful). He's no slouch in combat and gaining +1 combat resolution if he is warlord is great for close encounters.

In summary, Vulkan is a really useful character, but I would personally advise weighing up if his points cost is really worth what he gives you overall. He can be the best bargain you can get or a point sink. You be the judge.

Kayvan Shrike

I've always had a soft spot for Shrike, though some of his rules confused me in previous editions. Lightning Claws with Rending meaning they ignore armour saves when they already ignore armour saves? Sure maybe they could be useful on tanks, but the emphasis is on the word "maybe".

In 6th edition, The Raven's Talons make far more sense. At a natural AP3, becoming AP2 on to-wound rolls of 6 on top of being master-crafted, these Lightning Claws are quite possibly one of the most deadly melee weapons in the codex. Plus there's the fact he has a jump pack and the Stealth and Infiltrate special rules. In conjunction with the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, when used right they can be a deadly mix that are perfect for assassination strikes.

Picture this: Shrike infiltrates behind a lovely building, he starts the game with a 3+ cover save. Using his jump pack and the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, he then moves 12" towards his target and still uses that same jump pack to charge, causing a bonus attack, a Hammer of Wrath hit (when accompanied by Vanguard veterans, this becomes particularly nasty) and some nasty, nasty attacks. Even better, if you take his as warlord he causes Fear, possibly dropping the enemy's WS.

At the same points value as Sicarius, Shrike becomes the perfect assassin weapon, fantastic in combat and is the only special character in the codex who can join jump pack Vanguard Veterans. Shrike gets the thumbs up if you want to sow chaos and discord in the enemy ranks really early in the game.

Darnath Lysander

At first, I thought had kind of lost his edge in 6th edition after reading that Imperial Fists gain Bolter Drill naturally, and in some cases that's true.

The truth is Lysander is now an almost pure weapon, something to hurl at your opponent and smash into itty bitty pieces. With the exception of Marneus Calgar, Lysander is the only special character in the codex that has the Eternal Warrior special rule, which still leaves you room for a second character to hold the Shield Eternal. Only fitting then that Lysander's Warlord Trait is Champion of Humanity as he can typically survive the assault of most other warlords and reap the rewards of D3 victory points with relative ease. The Fist of Dorn is an absolute monstrous Thunder Hammer. S10 AP1 will mince meat most tanks and infantry alike, and his 2+/4++ armour coupled with the fact he can't be instant killed means he will survive long enough to hit with it in most cases.

The Icon of Obstinacy is a double edged blade however. As a lot of people discovered in 5th edition, some times it's in Space Marines favour to fall back. Let's be honest, if Space Marines lose combat, they're likely to want to run and then blast away with bolter fire in the next turn, but this special rule can deny that. Still, it is useful where pinning tests are concerned.

All in all, Lysander is typical of the Fists tactics... smashing the opponent with brute force, and for that he's the perfect warlord. He does, however come at over 200 points, a steep points cost for any Space Marine player and, unlike Calgar he doesn't do much to buff the army as a whole. Still, he does have an extra wound above other Captains I suppose...

Pedro Kantor

Let's be honest here. Why did everyone take Pedro Kantor in 5th edition? Because he made your Sternguard scoring units. Makes sense, Sternguard are by far and away one of the best units in the Space Marine codex and the ability to just drop pod them onto objectives and meat grind anything that came near really works well. For that alone Pedro Kantor is worth taking, but otherwise he wasn't much better than a typical Chapter Master. Dorn's Arrow, regardless of having 4 shots usually came second to more favourable weapons such as combi-plasmas/meltas or plasma pistols. Hell, a Relic Blade would do. It's not technically a bolter weapon so it doesn't even benefit from the Bolter Drill rule.

Pedro storms into 6th edition with a very fluffy and very useful new rule called Oath of Rynn, which takes effect if he is your warlord. It's particularly useful against Orks (all Crimson Fists gain Preferred Enemy (Orks)) but in essence means Pedro is effectively carrying a Chapter Banner. Useless you might think with Honour Guard, but then you don't need to attach him to any Honour Guard. Seperate the two, have them on opposite vanguards of your army and let your Sternguard do their thing, you really can't go wrong with Pedro Kantor.

It's worth noting Pedro costs just as much as Sicarius and Shrike, but has very useful buffs and +1 wound and attack to them. Iron Resolve is Pedro's Warlord Trait which can make a Crimson Fists army a terrifying combat army, and when coupled with the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics, you really can't go wrong.

Helbrecht

Helbrecht is a typical example of a destructive Space Marine combat monster, and a relatively cheap one at that (he's 5 points cheaper than Sicarius, Shrike and Pedro). It's his low points cost that makes the High Marshall a no brainer choice for Black Templar armies.

Legacy of Dorn is essentially a reliable Power Sword, but grants D3 attacks on the charge instead of one (if you roll at least a two, you make up for the fact he hasn't got two melee weapons). Plus he has a combi-melta which can be shot, almost guaranteeing a kill once before charging, plus an extra D3 to charge distances as he is a Black Templar (don't forget he gains Rending if in a challenge). But then he also has has the Crusade of Wrath special rule, granting himself and all Black Templars the Hatred and Fleet special rules for a whole turn. The latter is less important, but for those who have played as/against Black Templars, you will know almost the entire army will have that one turn where they will assault as one, it will be evident when Helbrecht will unleash the fury of the chapter. Did I mention Helbrecht's Warlord Trait means he can gain Furious Charge once a game?

This does, however, make Black Templar armies slightly predictable and any good general will account for this, but as the cheapest Chapter Master special character in the book, and accounting for Black Templar tactics, Helbrecht is almost always worth taking, if only as a threat to force your opponent's hand.

Merek Grimaldus

Grimaldus joins Cassius in the belief that Chaplains should be tough SOBs. His toughness may not be as high as his Ultramarines counterpart, nor does he have Feel No Pain, but he does have It Will Not Die, so any lost wounds have a chance of regenerating every turn. He's not even an Iron Hand!

The sheer beauty of Grimaldus is his ability to buff the Black Templars around him. He needs not to join a squad to convey the Zealot special rule, he merely needs to be within 6" of a unit to grant it, which is just as well as he can be accompanied by Cenobyte Servitors which are dirt cheap and convey a further bonus of 6++ save to units around them. As I've stated before, Black Templars tend to advance as one so the intelligent thing to do with Grimaldus is to have him at the vanguard of your army and buff every Crusader Squad around him.

Grimaldus's Warlord Trait is Rites of War, admittedly most useful for Black Templars than any other chapter as you want these guys in combat, and using Grimaldus's leadership when within 12" is a small, but not unuseful ability. He's only 5 points more expensive than Helbrecht and they're both nice characters, so if you take both I'll leave the pain of who you want as warlord down to you... but I'd most likely have Helbrecht as warlord. Just saying.

The Emperor's Champion

When it comes down to pure combat monstery, you can't go wrong with the Emperor's Champion. He's cheap and his wargear is just made for killing characters.

His armour grants a 2+/4++ save, typical of any Captain or Chapter Master with Artificer Armour and the Black Sword, a master-crafter AP2 power weapon that can either gain +2 strength, but also the Unwieldy and Two-Handed special rules, or my personal favourite Instant Death on a to-wound roll of 6. He has to accept or issue challenges wherever possible, but since he will slice through any normal armour anyway, this isn't such a bad thing. The only thing to bare in mind with the Emperor's Champion, however is he is seemingly the only Independent Special Character with 2 attacks and 2 wounds, so it might be worth considering him for minor character slaying rather than warlord slaying and leaving that down to a character such as Helbrecht.

It's also worth baring in mind he's the only special character in the codex with no set Warlord Trait, but I would always elect Grimaldus or Helbrecht as warlord above the Emperor's Champion any day.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Space Marine Special Characters: Part 1, Ultramarines

Well now that I've done my in depth analysis of the new Chapter Tactics, I figured it was time to dive into the realm of the Space Marine named characters and discuss how they have changed since 5th edition.

As there are a decent amount of special characters described in the book, I have decided to split my article into two parts: the first looking at the numerous Ultramarine characters and the second looking at the other characters.

Marneus Augustus Calgar

To give him his full title. Marneus had been a choice that many hobbyists avoided in the last edition of Warhammer 40k due to his huge points cost, which has gotten even bigger in the latest incarnation of the game (a whopping 275 points without the Armour of Antilochus!). So the real question on everyone's lips has been "is he worth taking now?"

It's a hard one to judge. With the removal of the Combat Tactics special rule and the introduction of Warlord Traits and Chapter Tactics, Marneus no longer acts as an almost pure combat monster made to make mince meat of the opponent. Interestingly, his Titanic Might special rule no longer allows re-rolls to failed wounds making him slightly worse in combat (but still frightening) but his army wide buffs more than make up for this minor hick up in the translation between editions. As with the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, Marneus allows for a massive amount of flexibility to the army.

The first thing that struck me was the updated God of War special rule which not only still allows all marines in the detachment to choose whether or not to pass or fail morale checks, effectively being the only way you can get the old Combat Tactics rule, but also allows the army to use any one doctrine twice without having to declare which before hand. This rule alone allows the Ultramarines already high mastery of controlling their own tactics to go into overdrive.

The second thing that struck me was Marneus's ability to roll three times on the Warlord Traits and choose amongst them which one he has, vastly reducing the chances of getting a duff trait and enhancing whatever suits your game the best. There really is no point in having Fear if against Tyranids afterall!

The other changes are minor - +1 Attack and Wound (as with all Chapter Masters), Titanic Might now gives bonuses against vehicles and his Armour of Antilochus now allows Marneus to sweeping advance (!), meaning the chances of players taking him alongside Honour Guard (of which he allows 3) more likely as they cut down all fleeing enemies in close combat with maniacal laughter.

So even though he has a 275 point minimum price tag on his head, is he worth it now? My response is yes if only for all the buffs he grants his army.

Cato Sicarius

Sicarius has always been the Mini-Calgar of most Ultramarine armies. Where Marneus may have been too expensive to afford, all generals could rely on the Second Company Captain as a reliable (and relatively cheap) back up. As special characters go, Sicarius made the transition into 6th edition relatively unchanged apart from granting +1 to reserve rolls, losing his re-roll seize the initiative rolls and dropping 15 points.

The main pull with Sicarius, however has been his ability to grant Counter-Attack, Infiltrate, Scout or Tank Hunters to a single Tactical Squad, effectively giving them a second Chapter Tactic. Alongside the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, this can really widen the possibilities of what you can do on the battlefield. Give a squad Tank Hunter and then, once that main vehicle threat comes rolling over the hill, you can switch on the tactical doctrine and blast it into oblivion with las/melta/plasma/missile fire, or give them Infiltrator to claim an easy objective and switch on the devastator doctrine for a pure defense against aggressors.

However, one overlooked quality of Sicarius is his effective synergy with other Ultramarine special characters. Along with Marneus (in bigger games), the pair of them will give you almost full control over your battle tactics, whilst coupled with Tigurius, his Surprise Attack rule can work amazingly with Tigurius's Gift of Prescience (see below).

In any case, Cato Sicarius is a solid choice for any army, not only for the reasons above but because he's pretty hard (2+/4++ save with Feel No Pain), fairly nasty in combat and has a pretty useful Warlord Trait in The Imperium's Sword.

Varro Tigurius

I'm a passionate man and I will be honest, Tigurius's incarnations in 3rd, 4th and 5th edition made me nerd rage until I was blue in the face. Not only was he barely better than a bog standard Librarian (I would lose the extra psychic power for terminator armour any day) but he just costed an obscene amount of points, meaning I never even considered ever using him.

Thankfully 6th edition came and made it all better, all for 65 points less. Tigurius is easily the most improved special character in the entire codex. He is the only Librarian in the whole codex who can pick from every psychic discipline in the codex, moreover he can re-roll all his rolls on the table and all his failed psychic tests, meaning he will almost never have any unwanted powers and will almost never fail to cast them which, with the randomness of the new psychic power rules in 6th edition, is invaluable to any commander, much less an Ultramarine player who will have a huge emphasis on precise tactics and carefully thought out plots.

On top of this, his Gift of Prescience special rule allows you to re-roll any reserve rolls you wish, allowing almost full control of when your units arrive.

Finally, the Rod of Tigurius has had a pretty major overhaul now granting +2 strength and gaining the Soul Blaze special rule, meaning the Chief Librarian no slouch in combat. His Warlord Trait is Storm of Fire which can vastly improve an Ultramarine army's round of shooting for a single turn. All this makes Tigurius a very tempting choice for almost any game.

Ortan Cassius

Much like Sicarius, Cassius hasn't really changed all that much in 6th edition. He still has Feel No Pain, T6, Hatred and Fearless rules of 5th edition. Infernus does pretty much the same as before, except it is now S1 meaning you can no longer glance the rear of a Rhino with it, but that's not a big problem as no-one I know used it his bolter for that purpose anyway.

The main change with Cassius is that he has regained his Preferred Enemy (Tyranids) special rule, something I was confused by the lack of in 5th edition. Unsurprisingly this can make Cassius a force to be reckoned with against Tyranids, and when coupled with Sternguard (effectively making up Tyrannic War Veterans) they can be next to unstoppable against that particular army. A full squad of Sternguard wounding on 2+, always re-rolling rolls of 1 on to-hit and to-wound means they will almost never fail to make it to the armour save phase of shooting. Even more frightening is if used against Tyranids that rely on cover saves, switch to Dragonfire rounds for almost gauranteed kills. Death Leaper, beware.

Surprisingly however, Cassius is possibly the poorest choice for warlord against Tyranids. He may be tough to kill, but the fact he gains Fear really doesn't bother Tyranids that much...

Torias Telion

Unlike the rest of the Ultramarine special characters, Telion is basically exactly as he was back in 5th edition, but by no means a bad thing. He is easily the best choice for Sargent in Scout Squads using sniper rifles. His marksman abilities can really way down enemy characters through pure weight of fire, and forfeiting his shooting to give a single scout BS6 can be more useful than it sounds (Heavy Bolter hitting on 2+, then 6+ if a 1 is rolled and then wounding on a 2+? I'll take that!).

It's also worth noting that Camo Cloaks don't grant Stealth, but instead grant +1 cover save without affixing itself to the special rule, effectively giving Telion +2 cover save, making his normal scout armour redundant as long as he's behind cover. Stick him in a ruined building, you can ramp his cover save up to a very impressive 2+, making him just as, if not more effective than an Eldar Pathfinder. Wow!

Antaro Chronus

Probably the most overlooked Ultramarines special character and not without reason. It's hard to justify Chronus's existence in any army, and for his points cost you can almost buy a five man Scout Squad.

It's not just that, but which tank do you put him in? Even with his ability to confer It Will Not Die to his tank, the introduction of hull points in 6th edition really doesn't make the whole idea seem particularly appealing as, if your opponent wants that tank dead, that tank will die, contrary to the special rule's name. His BS5 is pretty useless in a Vindicator, only minusing the scatter distance by a single inch and plenty of tanks nowadays are twin-linked. My only real conclusion is to place him in either a Stalker or a Hunter to maximise the tank's effectiveness against flying nuisances. The only fairly decent reason to have Chronus in any other tank is to prevent shaken/stunned results, and even then that's minor as those results are fairly rare nowadays.

However, if that tank dies he can pop out and become... a lone marine with no special rules in a storm of gunfire, effectively making him completely useless except for a very desperate last stand with the intensity of a wasp sting against a tiger.

All this considered, Chronus is the sort of character to take if you have a tank and 50 points you don't know what to do with. Otherwise, in most cases (apart from the whole AA thing I mentioned earlier) he is just a point sink.

Monday, 7 October 2013

First Combat Squad VI Octavian Completed

"Between them the members of Squad Octavian have earnt an impressive total of fifteen Marksman Honour badges for their uncanny precision."

After I saw the old veteran model aiming, I decided immediately that it was going to be Squad Octavian's sergeant. Coupled with the silencer component and the head crest from Anvil Industry, it works really well with the whole roman/sniper feel of the squad. The look of him raising his bolt gun, staring down the scope of his stalker pattern (most commonly utilised by the Ultramarines) reinforces the marksman theme I was going for.

I attempted to reflect the marksman theme subtly with the rest of the squad, all weapons (other than the special/heavy weaponist) have scopes attached to their boltguns, and all but the womble marine have silencer components... I would have added it to the womble marine too, but the position of his gun would have made the gun too long for him to stand on his base properly, so I just didn't bother.

I also added a bionic eye head to the heavy bolter guy as I felt a targeter on a heavy bolter would just look ridiculous. Instead I imagined the marine having an inbuilt targeter eye that allowed him to zoom into his target.

It felt a little plain last time to do no freehand work, so, as you can see from the above pic there is a free handed Ultramarine symbol on the melta marine's head. The sergeant's head was painted using a similar method to the blue, using a Khorne Red base, Agrax Earthshade wash and a highlight of Evil Suns Scarlet, Troll Slayer Orange and a 50/50 mix of Troll Slayer Orange and Flash Gitz Yellow.

Very happy with these squad, even more so than the last squad. Next on my to-do list will be my entry for my group's latest painting contest which is also a Codex Space Marines entry, so stay tuned for that...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Closer Look at Chapter Tactics

It's been about a month and I still haven't said anything about the new Space Marine codex, so this article has been a long time coming.

I think it's fair to say that the Chapter Tactics are the hottest thing in the new codex. Who remembers the old Chapter Traits in 4th edition? I do. They're like them without the opportunity to abuse the rules. I mean, let's face it, who didn't go with a custom chapter and use whatever tactics worked best every time? And then there were us suckers who used established chapters. Us Ultramarine fans especially had our faith tested with no traits at all.

Fortunately, in my honest opinion, Games Workshop got it right this time. You're guaranteed unique special rules that shape your army in a way that others can't. For me the best thing is, aside from the Black Templars, no chapter is limited in what they can take, but their rules will naturally make collectors evolve their armies in different  ways. I thought I'd take some time to go through each chapter tactic and what they do for their respective chapters.

Ultramarines

Of course the Ultramarines had the Chapter Tactic that I was most intrigued to read about. The boys in blue never got much notice, always the bog standard, basic vanilla army that got no notice by anyone other than hardcore fans (such as myself) and new players who see them on the box.

What Games Workshop has done with them is genius.

In all backgrounds, Ultramarines have been the paragons of tactical flexibility and interchangeable doctrines and their Chapter Tactic reflects this beautifully. Being able to flip between different doctrines is something the Ultramarines would do in more or less any battle, yet it's gone unnoticed for so long. It also means Ultra armies are more likely to be more varied in their units to take advantage of each different method of attack. However, my absolute favourite thing about the Ultramarines now is that they have become this easy to learn, hard to master chapters which gives them a wider appeal amongst hobbyists now. As a collector of these guys myself, I'm excited to test out the doctrines in different ways and spend the time mastering their benefits.

Benefits: Tactical flexibility, Units are equally viable.
Flaws: Difficult to master, Each doctrine can only be used 1 turn per game, No single speciality.

Imperial Fists

The Fists equally intrigued me when it came to Chapter Tactics. In my mind, they were more or less just as vanilla as their blue brothers, other than the whole siege specialty spiel.

This translated into Devastators and the newly added Centurions all having the tank hunter special rule and +1 to their building damage charts. Great against tank heavy armies such as Imperial Guard or (as explained in a bit) Iron Hands, not so great against, say, Tyranids.

This is probably why Games Workshop made Lysander's bolter drill special rule army wide, making Imperial Fists experts with the Astartes staple, the boltgun. This makes the most basic Fist Marine particularly deadly. This means lots of devastators and lots of heavy bolters in Fist armies but not much else. The Imperial Fists niche is pure and simple - the more basic the Marine, the bigger stars they are.

Benefits: Excellent anti-armour units, Basic guns are more potent.
Flaws: Prehaps an over reliance on ranged attacks, More powerful weapons lose out on re-rolls.

White Scars

I think it was pretty obvious to everyone that White Scars would get some pretty biker abilities, it's what they do, it's their thing. At first I thought White Scars would become the only chapter to be able to take bikers as troops choices.

I was so wrong.

White Scars gained some amazing bike boosting abilities such as strength bonuses to Hammer of Wrath attacks, cover save bonuses to junk saves, automatically passing dangerous terrain tests... basically if your Marines are mounted on bikes, they're super charged with virtually no drawbacks. To add to this, White Scars get the Hit & Run special rule allowing them to opt in and opt out of assault which, when combined with their super bikes, can lead to some serious hammering attacks. I think it's safe to say that White Scar armies will contain 90% bikes, with Tactical Squads being thin on the ground.

Benefits: Best Space Marine bikers in the game, Tough to hurt.
Flaws: Non-Bike troops remain very vanilla.

Raven Guard

Raven Guard seemed to miss out on the spotlight in comparison to the other First Founding Chapters. To this day I think I know one Raven Guard player and, to be honest, other than their tendency towards stealth and jump packs, I've never really known much about them.

The Raven Guard Chapter Tactic is far more interesting and unique than I ever thought it would be, and it really suits the Raven Guard style of play incredibly well.

Giving the entire army the scout special rule and the stealth special rule for the first turn allows the Ravens to set up their ambush sites, stay in cover and launch a devastating attack with their Assault Marines, which coincidentally can use their Jump Packs in both the movement and assault phase, allowing them to close the gap with terrifying speed. Raven Guard armies are sure to contain a lot of Assault Squads and Scouts (to take advantage of +2 cover saves in turn 1).

Benefits: Assault Marines hit hard and fast, Able to set themselves up with ease from the get go.
Flaws: Possibly an over reliance on melee, Stealth tactics diminish after turn 1.

Iron Hands

These guys always got the bum end of the deal in my opinion. Bionics faded away after 3rd edition, no special characters, Master of the Forge didn't give any chapter bonuses and to top it all off, they're quite dull to look at as an army. So it was interesting to see what Games Workshop did with our favourite cyborgs.

Well the result was intriguing.

Iron Hands gain an armywide feel no pain save of 6+ which is a nice throwback to the 3rd edition bionics which allowed your models to resurrect on a 6+. On top of this, all Independent Characters and Vehicles gain the it will not die special rule, making their big guns very tough to kill indeed. As will the Raven Guard, Iron Hand armies seem to be thin on the ground, but with bonuses to the Blessing of Omnissiah bonus their Techmarines/Masters of the Forge gain, I foresee Iron Hand forces being very tank heavy with a reliance on Servo-Arms and armoured up Captains.

Benefits: Tough to kill, Massive benefits for vehicles.
Flaws: No special characters.

Salamanders

Everybody's favourite underdogs! I have always had a soft spot for the the Salamanders, and it was pretty obvious that they were going to gain some sort of flamer specialty, but I didn't even consider their affinity for master crafted weapons.

And that's where the Salamanders shine.

Salamanders are pretty hard to kill with flame weapons but they will murder you with theirs. Re-rolls on failed armour saves against flame weapons, but re-rolls to failed wounds with their own makes these guys a very flamer heavy army - Salamander Sternguard with heavy flamers spring to mind. But that's not all, every Independent Character gets a master-crafted weapon free of charge! Salamander armies are an army that are heavy on the templates, but will probably suffer for any lack of other special/heavy weapons available to them.

Benefits: Mastery over flame weapons, Free master-crafted weapons.
Flaws: Flamer mastery probably means lack of other special weapons.

Black Templars

Probably the most interesting Chapter Tactic in the codex is the Black Templars, if only for the fact they deviate by allowing Crusader Squads and disallowing Librarians. In fact, the Black Templars didn't do so bad in the codex merger.

Because of their uniqueness, it's a little hard to compare these guys to the other chapters. They did gain a few nice additions from their old codex and, with the exception of the Ultramarines, have more special characters than any of the other chapters. Due to their special challenge and crusaders rules, it's fair to say that Black Templar armies will be kitted out with close combat weapons, more melee focused than their first founding brothers. These armies will be kitted out for melee, for rushing in, close quarters combat and their characters will likely be equipped with the best weapons points can buy. Gaining rending in a challenge is something to fear with these guys. One thing is for sure... don't underestimate these guys, they have hidden potential most people can't see at first glance.

Benefits: Challenge monsters, Good anti-psyker abilities
Flaws: Can't take Librarians

Thursday, 26 September 2013

And They Shall Know No Fear...

Work has resumed on my Ultramarines following my venture into the realm of the Hobbit. This is the beginnings of Squad VI Octavian, known for their marksman feats. I know that neither of these squads I've done are legal as of yet, I don't particularly care, I'm just enjoying the painting challenge. The Sargent I'm particularly enjoying painting, the plume I've painted white to simulate the white stripe of a veteran and the red I painted in a similar way to the blue except, obviously, substituting for reds. I want to give the squad a marksman/supression feel, hence the heavy bolter dude at the back. I've chosen to go with a melta gun specialist because, of all the special weapons, it felt it needed the most pinpoint accuracy (anyone who has played the Space Marine video game may get what I mean).

Keeping things on a smurfy level, the thing that has really hyped me up for my Ultras more than anything recently is the Horus Heresy book, Know No Fear. I finally got around to reading it (well, I'm most of the way through it) and good lord it is a work of absolute art. If you like Ultramarines, it really is a must read!

Roboute Guilliman owning Word Bearers like a boss!

Now I've read quite a few books in my time, A Song of Ice and Fire being amongst my top reads (hence my Bretonnian project) but this book is absolutely fantastic. The pacing is superb, it details a lot about, not just Ultramarines but Space Marines in general without going off topic and it's had quite a few moments that made me sad, laugh and even giving a mini fist pump in triumph when the XIII legion kick some major booty! I don't want to ruin anything, but let's just say it explains why Ultra Sargents have red helmets and also gives great insight into Roboute Guilliman himself, who I previously thought was a pretty boring Primarch beforehand. Now I think he's amazing.

So yeah, short review, the book is amazing, the cover art is my favourite of any Horus Heresy books, Dan Abnett is a fantastic writer and the story is an absolute roller coaster that, if you're new to the Horus Heresy, will really make you realise why the series and history is just superb. Very impressed. It upgraded the Ultramarines from a Chapter I love to my favourite Chapter of all time!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Outside Interference and Goblin Royalty

Behind the scenes
Sorry, more silence lately. Been out and about, feeding my social life but I've never let my hobby out of mind, no sir. Lately however I've had more people literally looking over my shoulder as I work, namely a very close friend of mine and her son, neither of which have really spotted me mid-hobby before now. I was even caught by an iPhone whilst I was painting purity seals on my last batch of Ultramarines. Look at that stern concentration and dedication!

So it's rather unsurprising that they would get a bit more involved in the hobby themselves, particularly the son, whom I took for his first ever trip to Games Workshop and his first intro game in which his Chaos Space Marines floored my Dark Angels. Ah well, he had fun and I cried a bit. But I've spent a few hours teaching him the hobby and particular techniques I use myself. Hence the short silence. I haven't gone anywhere, promise.

However, this did lead to an absolutely unforeseen, random painting project that I started at 12pm and finished by 9pm - the Hobbit Goblin King from the box set I bought back in late 2012. When my friend's son found out I had it on our trip to Oxford Street, he promised he would get me to open the box for the first time. I'm kinda glad, he really motivated me to do something with the Hobbit. Here are the results:

Goblin King Finished
Obviously the picture's not great. I hope to get a better picture tomorrow and to go through the process of painting it as well. I'm very pleased with the boils that I painted, I honestly umm'd and ahh'd as to whether I should do them but I'm glad I did. It was a simple process of blotting some red wash and some yellow glaze over each bump to get the effect and it looks awesome in my honest opinion.

So where to from here? Well my hobby group has recently voted on a Group Chapter in which we will all contribute which sounds fun (and I can have an ally for my Ultramarines!), I'm currently working on my next Ultramarine combat squad and I have a hankering to paint some Legion of the Damned. So there's all that to look forward to. Maybe even some more behind the scenes pictures!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ultramarines Chaplain Kitbash

Rain. The arch nemesis of any hobbyist. My second batch of Ultramarines have been waiting patiently for their undercoat but the rain has only let up today so I quickly dashed outside and sprayed up my next combat squad, ready for their next coat of paint. Last night, however, I had no chance.

So I decided to do some modelling. Once I was done with the finishing touches to my next tactical squad I got bored, so I dug up my neglected bits box (or bits drawer as it should be called) and decided to work on a Chaplain conversion, and this is the results.

I ordered the body off of Ebay a while back as I saw it from Sevrin Loth's Honour Guard set on Forgeworld and knew I would some day want it for a Chaplain conversion for my Ultramarines army. The leather straps really embody the roman theme I'm going for, plus the skulls in the gothic windows on the chest just screamed "Chaplain" to me. The rest was scavenged from various bits and bobs I had, mostly from the Command Squad box set - the crozius arcanum and arm was made using a mixture of the power sword arm from the plastic captain set, a banner pole from an old Space Wolves sprue and the banner top from the Command Squad set. The legs and jump pack were taken from some Assault Squad bits I had, the plasma pistol from the plastic captain box and the head is a Tactical Squad sergeant's head from the last box set. I then adorned the miniature with purity seals, chapter iconography and scriptures to make him look more like an independent character. I also added a metal Ultramarine shoulder pad on the other side as the smaller rims should theoretically look fine once I find a suitable right should pad.

It's not quite finished. Need to pin the base, add some more decorations, find a second shoulder pad, fancy up the crozius and green stuff the gaps, but I feel it's a good start. Thoughts are welcome!