Sunday, 23 March 2014

Review: Tamiya Masking Tape

Before I disappear into the ether on my quest to fix my beloved PC (or secure a new one, whichever comes first) I thought I'd leave you all with a product review.

On my last visitation to my local Hobbycraft store, I picked up some Tamiya masking tape to aid me in painting my first Ultramarines Drop Pod, mostly for neatness but partially for laziness. One thing to bare in mind if you want to pick one of these dispensers up is that the tape comes in 3 widths: 6mm, 10mm and 18mm. It's a good idea to pre-measure your miniatures to know in advance which width you need. As a rule of thumb I would suggest 6mm for infantry, 10mm for tanks and vehicles and 18mm for your apocalypse sized gribblies. For this review I am using the 10mm tape.

The first thing I will say about the dispenser itself is that, regardless of being a suitable holder for your masking tape it is very difficult to use. Unlike most tape dispensers the Tamiya ones have only the tiniest indent between the tape and the plastic of the dispenser which caused me much frustration when it came to actually rolling the tape itself out (I ended up using my scultping tool to lift the tape off). Also, the teeth that cuts the tape are only made of plastic and does a crude job of tearing it, but it does works. I found ripping the tape and placing it on the miniature by hand works better than directly from the dispenser. I found the whole thing very crude and disappointingly basic.

That being said the masking tape does a great job of doing what it is meant to do; shielding areas from paint. The first test I did with the tape was to cordon off my drop pod walkways (Image A) so I could literally attack the model with paint, starting with an Abaddon Black base (Image B), followed by Leadbelcher layer (Image C), Nuln Oil wash and 3 drybrush layers of Leadbelcher, Ironbreaker and finally Runefang Steel.

Image A
Image B
Image C
The second test I did was for the icononic hazard stripes on the sides of the doors. I started by wrapping strips of masking tape side by side all along the edge of the doors following a basecoat of Abaddon Black. I then stripped off every other piece of masking tape, painted the showing areas with Averland Sunset before removing all the masking tape, shading the centre parting with Agrax Earthshade and highlighting the black and yellow with Dawnstone Grey and Flash Gitz Yellow respectively (Image D/E).

Image D
Image E
The results really speak for themselves. Although I found the dispenser an utter headache, the masking tape really did it's job well and I really recommend it for jobs like these. I will say however that you will need to do a little bit of a tidy up job at the end. The masking tape doesn't let much past it but little bits of paint are likely to bypass it from time to time but it's minor at best. Although not perfect I highly recommend this product.

Age of Strife

Hi all,

I post today baring some pretty bad news for the blog. In the last week my laptop died on me and as such I haven't been able to post. I have been able to procure a computer for today and I will post as often as I can, but until I can find a permanent solution to this problem this blog may be a little quiet beyond my control.

Unfortunately this has also meant I may have lost a short story I was writing for a side project I'm working for. Hopefully this will be resolved soon but I cannot make any promises.

Anyways, I thought I'd post this quick update so you guys won't be so disappointed in my lack of updates. I am still working on my hobby during this time and, as a reward for your patience I will have a pure day of posting once I'm back in the game.

Until then my friends!

Sincerely,

Darren Driver

Monday, 17 March 2014

Painting Contest Entry: Chief Librarian Tigurius

Well it's been a good while since my last painting contest post (over a year in fact!), but I hope this one is worth it. Last month's painting contest category in my hobby group was "Lords of War", the rules were only allowed to enter a special (named) character into the contest. Well you all know me, if I can fit a miniature I can use in my current army into these things I will, so I decided to go with Varro Tigurius, or as I like to call him, "Tigger". Currently the model stands 3rd out of 13 entries, but there's a whole week for that to change...

For my army I decided to go with retro Tigurius for a few reasons. The first was that I owned the second edition version of the miniature from way, way back and all it needed was paint stripping, and the second reason is because the current miniature is fugly. Seriously, the new Tigurius looks more akin to the Hunchback of Notre Dame than to one of the noble warriors of Ultramar.

Painting the miniature was fairly run of the mill for the most part. I began with the armour and painted it as I do with all my Ultramarines. This gave me the foundation with which to work with so I could really get stuck into doing a top notch job on the rest of the details. Other parts of the model I painted in typical Art of Warhammer fashion such as the golds and a fairly simplistic way of painting the metal (Leadbelcher base, Nuln Oil wash and Runefang Steel highlights). I'm already very happy with my standards of painting these particular details so I took the advice of that old saying "If it's not broke, don't fix it". I already get complimented for my blues and golds so I wasn't prepared to change it, besides they've become my signature style, like my own watermark on a miniature. The leather and cloth is something else I had down to a tee as well. The leather was done with Mournfang Brown base, Agrax Earthshade wash, 50/50 mix of Mournfang Brown/Skrag Brown for layer and 2 highlights of 50/50 Skrag Brown/Zamesi Desert and then pure Zamesi Desert. The Cloth was simply Steel Legion Drab base, Baneblade Brown layer and Rakarth Flesh highlight (the same was applied to the purity seal parchment).

The most loved part of Tigurius according to everyone who has seen the miniatue is the face, and I'm most proud of it myself. The flesh was done with a base of Bugman's Glow, a wash of Reikland Fleshade, then starting with a 50/50 mix of Bugman's Glow/Tallarn Flesh I added more Ushabti Bone to the mix to build the highlights. The OSL on the eyes was painted with watered down Caledor Sky, using some old Guilliman Blue Wash in the recesses and then adding some Scar White to the blue for the highlights. The red was done in a similar fashion but using Khorne Red, Evil Sunz Scarlet and Troll slayer Orange instead with no wash involved.

Otherwise the bone was painted with a base of Balor Brown, Agrax Earthshade wash and then building up the highlights by adding some Ushabti Bone to the Balor Brown each time. The whites were done with a base of Dawnstone Grey, layered with a 50/50 mix of Dawnstone Grey/Ulthuan Grey, first highlight of Ulthuan Grey and a final highlight of Scar White. Finally I decided to use one of the Sternguard backpacks in place of the model's original backpack for a few reasons, firstly the old backpack looks out of place in my army now, secondly a paper banner looks out of place in my army now and thirdly, I can't be bothered to paint Tigurius's banner from scratch right now.

Well that's all for this post, but before I go the eagle eyed readers may have noticed the Ultramarine symbol on the left shoulder pad. This was green stuffed as I really hate special character models having transfers on them and, for some bizarre reason the old Tigurius model doesn't have one already sculpted. If you'd like to learn how to green stuff your own Ultramarine symbols then check out this brilliant tutorial over at a Tale of Painters.

Check out the Resolution Monitor!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

It's March, Time for an Appraisal!

I haven't been posting so much as of late. I know some of you might be thinking that I've gone and done what I did last March and go silent but this really isn't the case. The truth is that I've been on a mad building spree, so much so that to write a post about every single one of these projects would just slow me down and I'm preparing for the Defense of Agrox Prime that should be played out in a few months time. I have a lot of work to do.

Assemble my minions!

So far I have almost 3 Tactical Squads assembled (only 4 marines off), 5 Terminators, 5 Damned Legionnaires, 5 Sternguard, the majority of a Command Squad, 2 Rhinos and I'm currently assembling 2 Drop Pods.

I did promise a Painting Competition post on the 9th/10th of March, however as some participants had not finished their entries the deadline was extended for another week, which is a little infuriating because I finished my entry 2 weeks ago, so you'll all have to wait until next week for that.

Anyways, whilst I have your attention, please help me improve my blog by letting me know in the comments how I can improve this blog. I know it is by no means perfect but I want to know what more you guys would like to see on here. Also I have been testing out some new things some of you may have noticed on the blog and I'd like to hear what you guys think of these changes too. I will list as follows:

  • Prologue stories for Battle Reports.
  • "Named" Battle Reports (Flesh & Steel instead of Necrons vs Tyranids for example).
  • Month at a Glance posts.
  • Introduction of new house rules, for example The Defense of Agrox Prime.
  • Non-Battle Report battle posts.

Any and all help is appreciated and I will take any and all suggestions into account so long as they are constructive (I won't listen to "YOU SUX!" for example).

Thanks all!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

More Enfield Antics

Sorry for the week long silence, I've been very busy with work (lots of overtime) and putting together Tactical Squads for my planned 3 man game in a few months. Still I found time for another battle yesterday over at Games Workshop Enfield, this time against some Chaos Space Marines with Chaos Daemon allies.

Like my last Enfield battle post, this isn't  a battle report, but a quick summary of what I've learned, how I did and proof that I can tick off another 2 armies for my goal this year.

The game set up was Big Guns Never Tire with 5 objectives, I set up and went second. My opponent took some Seekers of Slaanesh, Daemonettes, 2 squads of Noise Marines, a Keeper of Secrets, a Chosen Squad with a Rhino and Lucius the Eternal. I took my typical Overlord, 2 squads of Warriors, 2 small squads of Immortals, a small squad of Deathmarks, 3 Wraiths, a Triarch Stalker, an Annihilation Barge and a Harbinger of the Storms.

The result is that I won 4 Victory Points to 2, with me holding a single objective and scoring First Blood (enough firepower will kill Daemonettes fairly easily). My opponent scored Linebreaker and destroyed my Annihilation Barge, which given the mission gave him a Victory Point.

Keeper of Secrets using Puppet Master on the Annihilation Barge
Wraiths attempt to Flank the Seekers
Seekers attempt and succeed in running down some Immortals

Although I did win, the Keeper of Secrets posed a massive problem for me to deal with. I had a plan to deep strike my Deathmarks into the enemy lines but close enough to rapid fire at the Greater Daemon and pick her as their chosen target. It would have worked beautifully had my opponent not got jammy with his rolls and made every single 5+ save he was called to make. The result of my failure was a squad smashed to pieces by Lucius the Eternal and a Greater Daemon destroying my Triarch Stalker, an entire unit of Warriors (sweeping advance really did them over) and my Annihilation Barge...

Target acquired...
...Followed by jammy rolls...
...Followed by Lucius death...
...Followed by booby death.

Thems the risks though I'm afraid, sometimes plans just don't go through as you expect them to. Still, my Overlord and his Warriors did amazingly, killing the majority of the Noise Marines on the board as well as all the remaining Seekers in close combat without losing a single man so they really made up for my Deathmarks not doing particularly well. On top of all this they did hold my only objective and ripped an objective from my opponent in the process. Easily my unit of the match.

The Overlord and his unit spot an objective
Then somehow destroy Seekers in combat
How the board looked on the penultimate turn

All in all had a lot of fun in this game and it was very close. I've played this guy (who is a very good friend of mine) 3 times now, I lost one, won one and drew one so I've challenged him to a decider at some point. It was also really nice to play against a Chaos army that wasn't Khorne Bezerkers or Plague Marines and I had a lot of love playing against Slaanesh, they're a visually very interesting force and they were loads of fun to play against (and I imagine to play as too).

Post-Mortem

I like winning but I also hate it slightly too. That may confuse you all but it's kind of hard to do a post-mortem when you can't find much to improve on. I don't mean to sound egotistical in saying that, my opponent played well and had a great, balanced force but then I was told so did I, plus I don't think either of us made many tactical errors. However I've never played against Emperors Children before so I can comment on them now:

  • Keepers of Secrets are very, very annoying. With Initiative 10 they will always kill me in a Sweeping Advance, they're very tough, have really annoying psychic abilities and easily smash anything they charge. I think my Deathmarks would have really saved the day if it wasn't for massively good fortune on my opponent's behalf. I will need to make sure this thing dies next time.
  • Noise Marines pose a big problem for Warriors as most of their weapons will ignore both their armour and cover saves. They don't take as much firepower to put down though, so that's a bonus.
  • Seekers and Daemonettes are something of a 1 hit wonder too. It really doesn't take much to put these things down and by the end of turn 1/2 I had chewed my way through 13 Daemonettes without breaking a sweat, plus it scored me First Blood.
  • First Blood is a secondary objective well worth having. Had my opponent got it, we would have drawn so sometimes it's worth dedicating that firepower to kill those random stragglers.
  • My Wraiths need more survivability, or at least something to let them do damage at range. As of late these guys always die first. 2 wounds and invulnerable saves are amazing but with enough firepower these things will drop fairly quickly.
  • Warriors are even more amazing than I originally thought too. I actually got to the point where I could rapid fire 14 Warriors at once and 28 dice is ALOT. It felt like I was rolling treacle.

All in all brilliant game, a new experience, 2 armies to tick off my resolution and I got to catch up with a great friend of mine. Very worthwhile day. Until next time peeps!

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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Scenario: The Defense of Agrox Prime

As I play more and more battles and write more and more prologues for my battle reports I am becoming drawn to writing up brand new scenarios to fit with the battles and stories I am forging with my hobby. As such, from time to time I will be posting scenarios that have been written myself (and, in this case co-written by my friend James) that introduce new ways of playing battles in the 41st millenium.

The Defense of Agrox Prime is a sizeable battle we are planning in a few months time (be sure to look out for a battle report) that tells the tale of the Imperial Fists building defenses and calling upon their brother Ultramarines to defend the compliant planet of Agrox Prime against Hive Fleet Jenova. Although experts in Siege Warfare, the Imperial Fists have fought against the Hive Fleet before and have grown to realise that this particular Hive Fleet have become an expert force that rapidly adapts to siege warfare. With this in mind, they have contacted the Ultramarines to aid them as their invaluable knowledge in dealing with the xenos threat have been evident, particularly on Macragge and Tarsis Ultra, but the Hive Fleet is legion. Can the Imperial Alliance hold off the incoming forces long enough to secure victory?

This scenario is written for 3 players, 2 fighting for the Imperium and 1 for the Tyranids. Special rules and objectives have been written with this in mind to keep things fair and balanced. It has also been written to symbolise 2 armies having to communicate whilst their enemy fights as one consciousness.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The Defense of Agrox Prime
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


THE ARMIES
The Imperial side consists of 2 players using Codex: Space Marines, one using Chapter Tactics (Imperial Fists) and the other using Chapter Tactics (Ultramarines). The Tyranid side consists of 1 player using Codex: Tyranids. Both Imperial players have a single Force Organisation Chart each whereas the Tyranid player has 2 Force Organisation Charts that act as a single detachment. Otherwise armies are chosen exactly the same way as described on page 118 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

THE BATTLEFIELD
The mission always uses the Dawn of War Deployment Map (see page 119 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulesbook). Set up terrain as normal. This mission requires no objective markers.

DEPLOYMENT
Before deploying their forces, players should first roll for their Warlord Traits (see page 111 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook), and then deploy as on page 121 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. As the Imperial Forces are dug in and awaiting the Tyranid threat, they will always deploy first.

FIRST TURN
The Imperial players roll a D6 each and the Tyranid player rolls 2D6. Whichever side rolls the highest can decide who gets the first turn, although if they choose themselves to go first their opponent can still Seize the Initiative as normal (see page 122 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook).

GAME LENGTH
This mission uses Variable Game Length (see page 122 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook).

VICTORY CONDITIONS
At the end of the game, the side that has scored the most Victory Points wins the game. If players have the same number of Victory Points, the game is a draw.

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE
At the end of the game, each side receives 1 Victory Point for each enemy unit that has been completely destroyed. Units that are falling back at the end of the game, and units that are not on the board at the end of the game, count as destroyed for the purposes of this mission. Remember that Independent Characters and Dedicated Transports are individual units and award Victory Points if they are destroyed.

SECONDARY OBJECTIVES
Slay the Warlord, First Blood, Hold the line! (see below)

MISSION SPECIAL RULES
Night Fighting, Reserves.

Army of Two: The Imperial Forces are two different armies acting together and therefore both forces have a Warlord each that follow all the same rules as described on page 111 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. For objective purposes both Warlords award an extra Victory Point for Slay the Warlord. Both armies also interact together as if allies (so for two Codex: Space Marine armies, they would interact as if Battle Brothers).

In contrast, the Tyranid side can only elect a single Warlord, however this model can roll for 2 Warlord Traits and keep both. In addition, killing this Warlord awards two extra Victory Points as opposed to one.

Static Spores: In preparation for the attack on Agrox Prime, the Tyranids have scattered microscopic static spores that interfere with vox communication. For the entire game the two Imperial players may not speak to each other about the battle, however at the start of every Imperial Player Turn before the Movement Phase they may write down a message to relay to their ally. If they choose to do this they must roll a D6 and -1 to the result. Whatever the total of the dice roll is, they may speak that many words to their ally. These can be any words that are part of this message but they must be read in the order that they are written. If however both Imperial Warlords are in the same unit or within 6" of each other, they may ignore this rule and speak freely for that turn.

Endless Swarm: For every non-named, non-monstrous creature unit that has been completely destroyed on the Tyranid side, roll a D6. On a 6 they go back into ongoing reserves and re-enter play on the next turn as per the rules on page 125 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. If the unit was a Termagant Brood, a Hormagaunt Brood, a Gargoyle Brood or a Ripper Swarm then this is instead achieved on a 4+. Note that any new units created in this way do not actually "exist" until they have entered play and therefore do not award Victory Points for being destroyed due to being in reserve when the game ends unless they have somehow gone back into ongoing reserves for any other reason. Any unit destroyed, regardless of whether they respawn or not still award victory points as per normal.

Preemptive Defense: The Imperial side may elect to bolster 1 piece of terrain in their deployment as per the Bolster Defences special rule as explain on page 92 of Codex: Space Marines. Any Techmarines added to the armies may also Bolster Defences as per normal but cannot elect the same piece of terrain for these purposes.

Hold the Line!: The Tyranid player still gains a Victory Point for achieving the Linebreaker objective (see page 122 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook), however if they do not have at least one model from one or more scoring or denial units in the Imperial deployment zone at the end of the game, the Imperial side instead gains a Victory Point for holding the line. Note that the Imperial side cannot gain a Victory Point for Linebreaker.



Designer's Note: Although this scenario has been written with Imperial Fists, Ultramarines and Tyranids in mind, there is no reason why you can't use other armies. Perhaps the Tau and the Imperial Guard are fighting against a Daemon invasion and the warp interference is messing up communication? Or perhaps the Word Bearers and their Daemon allies are holding off against a massive Ork WAAAGH! and the veil is too thin for communication with the immaterium to work properly? The possibilities are endless, feel free to chop and change the scenario to suit your needs!

Review: Legion of the Damned

As Games Workshop have been reiterating from time to time for the last few weeks, yesterday the Legion of the Damned digital codex hit and, I'm not going to lie, I went mad with excitement for this product. As I stated back in October, me and my dad fell in love with the damned legionnaires and my dad painted a small army of them back when they had rules in White Dwarf during second edition. The thought of being able to legitimately collect a small army of these guys just made me so excited at the conversion possibilities.

As it happens they don't work exactly as I thought. The codex is a lot more bare bones than I had hoped for and, although it makes the codex less useable it doesn't make it pointless. In fact for such a barebones digital codex it's actually a pretty cool purchase for any Imperial player. What it lacks for in vehicles, squad variations and HQ choices it makes up in interesting new ways to use Legion of the Damned, including Warlord Traits (that's right, they can now be taking as a full force in your primary detachment), a really nasty but must have artifact, an Apocalypse formation and 3 cool scenarios that allows you to reenact some of the most famous battles the Legion have appeared in. I will break all these down in parts so I can better explain what this means.

Background

The first thing you'll notice about the codex is that there's many, many pages of background that describe everything you could possibly imagine about the Legion - how they appear and fight, theories as to their true identity (some of which are mind blowing) and famous battles they have lent their aid to.

After reading some of the theories of their background, it's totally blown open what the Legion could actually be, genuine beliefs that I would never have thought of before have come to surface. My favourite idea is that the Legion are the Fire Hawks who found the Emperor in the immaterium, who himself had ascended to a warp god and that they were "twisted" into Imperial Daemons. I never even considered this possibility until yesterday but it makes so much sense now. Unlike some codexes, the history Black Library have crafted for this digital book is absolutely worth reading. Top marks from me on this matter, this alone makes the book worth downloading.

Detachments

Legion of the Damned work similarly to the Inquisition digital codex in how they work, namely that they can either be a primary detachment or an allied detachment that doesn't prevent you from taking another ally. Also like the Inquisition codex they have their own Force Organisation Chart that they use when part of either type of detachment, namely 1 compulsory elite choice and 3 optional elite choices. In addition, all Legion of the Damned units in your primary detachment are scoring units. Tempting.

As a potential ally the army also comes with it's own ally matrix. They are battle brothers with all Imperial armies (Space Marines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Imperial Guard, Adeptus Sororitas, Grey Knights, Inquisition and even themselves), allies of convenience for Eldar, desperate allies for Tau and Dark Eldar and unable to ally with any other army.

It's all very nicely laid out, it allows more armies to make use of the Legion which makes sense, but it makes using them as they are in the Space Marine codex completely pointless as they have more options in the codex, cost exactly the same amount of points and don't chew up an Elite slot as they're a completely separate allied detachment.

Warlord Traits

A single Legionnaire Sargent in your primary detachment can also be designated as your Warlord with this codex. Although the idea of having a single wound non-independent character as your leader may sound like just giving your opponent "Slay the Warlord", the Warlord Traits unique to the Legion more than make up for this as they are, in my opinion the best traits list I've seen so far. All Warlord Traits affect the Sargent and his squad and are listed as follows:
  • Inferno of Vengeance: Squad has the Soul Blaze special rule.
  • Aura of Fear: When taking fear tests against the squad, enemy units in base to base contact with the Warlord's squad suffer -1 leadership for every friendly Legion of the Damned unit on the battlefield past the first.
  • Ethereal Bolts: All bolt weapons in the squad have the Armourbane special rule (hot damn!)
  • Spectral Bulwark: Squad has the Feel No Pain (5+) special rule.
  • Never Too Late, Never Too Early: Squad may choose when they arrive from deep strike, but must appear in turn 4 if they have not already.
  • Retribution Made Manifest: Squad has the Preferred Enemy special rule.

Animus Malorum

The Animus Malorum is one of the nastiest artifacts in the game and it really ties in nicely with the background of Attica Centurius (see picture on the right), which means you can legitimately bust out the old limited edition figure and use him as he should be used, or you can convert a model up just for the occasion. It even says no-one really knows for sure what it's true form is and just that it is or at least incorporates some kind of skull, so converters get ready. As such although I do have the limited edition miniature myself, I do have a plan to make a damned apothecary to represent the relic.

The rules for the Animus Malorum is that the Sargent that bears it and his entire squad gain Feel No Pain (5+). In addition, if any enemy unit within 12" of the bearer fails a Fear, Morale or Pinning Check they automatically lose a random, single model with no saves of any kind allowed. For every enemy slain this way, their Feel No Pain gains a +1 modifier up to a minimum required roll of 2+ for the rest of the turn. Wow.

Apocalypse Formation

The Legion Ascendant is a brand new formation in Apocalypse for the Legion of the Damned described in the codex and it's not overpowered but very nasty for big troop based armies. For the formation you need 2+ full sized squads of Legion of the Damned. They then gain Deep Strike (which I'm sure they have already) as well as the Fires of Judgement and Spectral Horrors special rules.

Fires of Judgement causes all units within 6" of any of the squads to suffer 2D6 S4 AP5 hits on arrival and grants the Ignore Cover (a bit pointless methinks) and Fleshbane (that's more like it!) special rules to the squad for that turn. Spectral Horrors causes all units within 12" of any model in the formation to be at -3 leadership which, when combined with the fact they cause Fear and may have the Animus Malorum makes the squads pretty terrifying.

Although the rules wouldn't make too much of a difference in Apocalypse when you look at it closely (too many Lords of War), it's a brilliant touch that just gives the formation that cinematic entrance of appearing wreathed in flames. I really like it, it's one of the most characterful formations I have yet seen.

Echoes of War

As well as all the cool rules I've mentioned so far, there are 3 scenarios to play that reenact some of the most famous battles the Legion have partaken in. I won't bore you all with too much detail, but they're very interestingly written scenarios that you may want to try out. Unfortunately as they are all reenactments you have to field specific armies - the first requires Ultramarines + Legion of the Damned vs Orks, the second requires Black Templars + Legion of the Damned vs Dark Eldar and the third requires Imperial Fists (can use Sentinels of Terra) + Legion of the Damned vs Chaos Space Marines with possible Daemon allies. They're a cool additions and the scenarios sound really fun to play, but due to the restrictions on armies I can't see many people playing them.

Overall

Although the Legion haven't changed much from their Codex: Space Marines incarnation, the subtle changes give the force some added punch and character and, all things considered they really are a nasty force to reckon with. Would I have liked to bust out my Legion of the Damned Dreadnought? Yeah of course, but I'm happy to settle with what we got, especially as this mini-dex is a good sign that the Legion may be built upon in the future.

The mini-dex is only £10, so if you're looking for something new to try or just love the skull and flame marines I definitely recommend you buy this. If you fall in neither category then you can safely pass on this without losing out on too much. But overall I think Black Library did a good job with this.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Battle Report: Flesh & Steel

Seeing as it was a hit last time, I decided to carry on the trend of writing a short story preempting today's battle report. I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly had some fun writing it.

Now to the actual battle! My good friend James (whom I featured in Another Army last month) has been itching to try his new Tyranid Codex out, and what would be better than starting his 6th edition codex experience than with a decent 2,000 point battle to be immortalised on this blog? Well, that's if people still read what I post in a few years time...

The Imhotep Dynasty



HQ
  • Necron Overlord with Gauntlet of Fire, Resurrection Orb, Mindshackle Scarabs & Phase Shifter (185pts)
  • Necron Overlord with Staff of Light, Tachyon Arrow & Resurrection Orb (150pts)
  • Royal Court: Harbinger of the Storm with Lightning Field, Harbinger of Despair & Harbinger of Destruction with Gaze of Flame (110pts)
Troops
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Warriors: 14 man unit (182pts)
  • Necron Immortals: 5 man unit with Gauss Blasters (85pts)
  • Necron Immortals: 5 man unit with Gauss Blasters (85pts)
Elites
  • Deathmarks: 5 man unit (95pts)
  • Triarch Stalker with Heat Ray (150pts)
Fast Attack
  • Canoptek Wraiths: Unit of 5, 3 x Whip Coils & 2 x Particle Casters (215pts)
Heavy Support
  • Annihilation Barge (90pts)
  • Monolith (200pts)
  • Canoptek Spyder with Gloom Prism & Fabricator Claws (75pts)
Total: 1,986 points

Hive Fleet Jenova



HQ
  • Winged Hive Tyrant with 2 x Twin-Linked Devourers with Brain Leech Worms & Hive Commander (250pts)
  • Deathleaper (130pts)
Troops
  • Termagaunts: 30-strong brood with 10 x Spine Fists & 20 x Devourers (200pts)
  • Tervigon with Cluster Spines & Miasma Cannon (225pts)
  • Hormagaunts: 20-strong brood (100pts)
  • Tyranid Warriors: 3-strong brood with Lashwhips & Boneswords, Scything Talons, Toxin Sacs & Adrenal Glands (174pts)
Elites
  • Zoanthrope  (50pts)
  • Zoanthrope  (50pts)
  • Hive Guard: 3-strong brood with Impaler Cannons (165pts)
  • Venomthrope (45pts) 
Fast Attack
  • Hive Crone (155pts)
  • Gargoyles: 10-strong brood (60pts)
  • 5 Spore Mines (25pts)
  • 5 Spore Mines (25pts)
Heavy Support
  • Exocrine (170pts)
  • Exocrine (170pts)
Total: 1,999 points

Deployment

This battle is different from most battles any of you may have read about as the short table edges were rounded as opposed to straight, but this was something we easily worked around. We began by rolling for our table set up and mission, which turned out to be the Dawn of War deployment set up and Emperor's Will mission. Afterwards we randomly set up terrain, rolling for terrain density in each quarter and taking it in turns to place terrain. Once all that was done, we rolled for Warlord Traits with my Overlord scoring Conqueror of Cities, allowing my army to gain +1 cover saves in ruins and the Move Through Cover special rule when moving through ruins. Interestingly my opponent forwent his own Warlord Trait chart and got Divide to Conquer instead, reducing my reserve rolls by -1 and making me seriously rethink deploying anything in reserve. With everything set, the Tyranids won the roll to set up first and with it got to elect where he deployed.

The Tyranids set up their objective right next to a lake that was agreed beforehand to be mysterious terrain, with both Zoanthropes, Hive Crone and Hive Guard occupying the city building and the rest of his force set up to his right flank, taking advantage of the various terrain scattered in the vicinity. The Termagaunts, Spore Mines and Deathleaper were kept in reserve.

Taking the same idea as my opponent, I set my objective in the temple ruins (hoping to take advantage of my Warlord Trait) and surrounded it with my Warlord and Harbinger of Despair joined to a unit of Warriors and my Monolith hiding a Spyder and an Annihilation Barge behind it.  Flanking to their left was a unit of Warriors with joined Harbinger of the Storms and Immortals, and to their right more Immortals, Deathmarks with joined Harbinger of Destruction and Triarch Stalker. I set my second Overlord with Warrior unit and my Wraiths to the far right, hoping to outflank the Tyranid's synaptic support and remove them systematically.

With deployment done, I chose to forgo my Seize The Initiative! roll and allowed my opponent the first turn...

Turn 1: Target Identified

Hive Fleet Jenova started the battle aggressively, immediately surging it's flying gribblies directly at my front line, with the Hive Tyrant leading the charge, pumped on psychic powers whilst the foot slogging broods lurched forward behind them. Both Exocrines set up artillery positions around the Tyranid objective and the Hive Guard set up sniper spots in the Imperial Building. The Zoanthropes and Tervigon buffed the Exocrines with 'Catalyst' and 'Onslaught' respectively while the Venomthrope's spore cloud enhanced their protection with a thick cloud of alien spores and Tyranid Warriors secured the objective. The shooting came thick and fast after that, the Flying Hive Tyrant blew the Deathmarks away in a single round of shooting, leaving the Harbinger of Destruction on his own. The Crone and Hive Guard combined and were able to destroy 10 of the 14 Warriors attached to the secondary Overlord with it's fearsome array of bio weaponry with only a single member reanimating much to my annoyance, but at leasr their nerve held and they did not fall back. The Exocrines attempted to destroy my Warlord's unit, blasting them with white-hot bio-plasma, but only succeeded in killing a couple of Warriors thanks to Night Fighting and my Warlord Trait (gotta love 3+ cover saves!).

Hive Guard take position
Hormagaunts swarm
The Crone wreaks havoc against the NERCO's

In a calculated maneuver, the Monolith lurched forward, unveiling the Annihilation Barge and granting it full view of the battle unfolding. The Triarch Stalker fired at the Flying Hive Tyrant, scoring a hit, a wound and grounding the creature all in a single devastating flurry of attacks. With the enemy Warlord grounded, the majority of the Necron forces (now all counting as having twin-linked weapons) unleashed fury against the winged beast, robbing it of all but a single wound. Acquiring the taste of a different target, the Monolith fired it's Particle Whip at the nearest Exocrine, taking a wound off it but nothing else. Meanwhile, on the other end of the battlefield, the Warriors and their Overlord opened fire at the Crone but only managed to tickle the monstrous creature with their weapons. The Wraiths, lacking the range to fire their Particle Casters raced towards the opposing Zoanthrope, but fell outside of charging range. So far, the battle seemed pretty even.

Turn 2: "It's After Me!" 

Regardless of the brutal round of fire my Necrons put out, the Tyranid advance was relentless. My opponent rolled 3 successful reserve rolls: 1 for Deathleaper, 1 for the Termagants and 1 for a Spore Mine unit. Using Hive Commander, the Termagants deployed from my right flank, allowing them to fire the full force of 20 devourers and 10 spine fists at my Wraiths, killing 3 of them in the process. Deathleaper showed itself in the forests my Harbinger of Destruction occupied and killed the Cryptek with it's flesh hooks, safely securing Hive Fleet Jenova First Blood. The Spore Mines deep striked in front of my advancing warriors to my left. The Crone (who had overstepped it's movement outside of Synapse range) failed it's Instinctive Behaviour test and chose to fly off the board to avoid giving me the upper hand by charging the remaining Warriors, meanwhile the Exocrines stripped 2 Hull points off the Annihilation Barge. The Flying Hive Tyrant also bit the dust when he attempted to cast Paroxysm on one of my units and killed by perils of the warp, securing me a victory point with Slay the Warlord.

The swarm cometh...
Deathleaper shows itself
The Flying Monsters before exiting the battlefield



The Imhotep Dynasty stood fast in the face of the oncoming threat. With the death of the Flying Hive Tyrant so early in the battle, I had renewed vigour in my efforts and concentrated on securing my battle lines before setting my sights on the prize in the enemy deployment. The enemy gargoyles charged my Overlord and his unit, but thanks to 2 flamer template weapons and 24 Gauss Flayer shots, all re-rolling 1s thanks to my objective turning out to be a Targeting Relay, only one made it into combat and was wiped out in the ensuing melee. I quickly identified the newly deployed Spore Mines as a threat and, with the help of the Monolith's Exile Portal was able to quickly put an end to their threat, all the while using it's Particle Whip to clear oncoming Hormagaunts. Nothing else in the enemy forces remotely took damage this turn, and with the Zoanthrope my Wraiths originally targetted now retreating out of charge range, they were forced to switch their target to the second Zoanthrope, but just fell short of that as well. The Canoptek Spyder managed to repair the damaged Annihilation Barge restoring a hull point.


The Tervigon overlooks the battle

The Wraiths head for their new target

Mid-Point Overview


Turn 3: The Turning Point

With the Imhotep Dynasty using their Monolith to clear smaller creatures, it overlooked the oncoming Tervigon trampling over the hill, resulting in the towering vehicle exploding when charged in the assault phase, ending the biggest threat to Hive Fleet Jenova and spawning 12 additional Termagants in the process. Likewise one of the Exocrines focused their shots at the Annihilation Barge, wrecking the vehicle and leaving the Canoptek Spyder without a job to fulfill, whilst the Hive Guard shattered the Triarch Stalker. More Spore Mines descended from the heavens, landing perfectly just outside the ruins where the Overlord resided thanks to Deathleaper's pheromone trail, but some well aimed Gauss Blaster fire dealt with the threat quickly. Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield the giant Termagant brood only managed to put a single wound on the Wraiths, however, the other Exocrine made short work of them before they could threaten their beloved Zoanthropes, leaving the Overlord and his Warriors alone to face the threat. Many casualties were suffered in the Necron forces, and they would prove difficult to recover from...

The Crone returns whilst the Tervigon enjoys it's latest kill

With such havoc wreaked amongst the Necrons, desperate but carefully planned gambits had to be employed. Knowing that my secondary Overlord and his unit would not survive past turn 4, I used the Tachyon Arrow I had saved to try and eliminate the Zoanthrope nearest the Termagants, hoping to shatter their Synaptic web and prehaps buy me some time. Unfortunately, although I rolled well the psychic fields it generated proved too strong for even this potent weapon. The only redeeming point by the remainder of my army ripping 2 wounds from the Crone that had reappeared. It seemed the Tyranids had finally gained the upperhand...

Turn 4: Kharimekh Falls!

With his plan of utilising the Tachyon Arrow failing, the secondary Overlord Kharimekh had been resigned to his fate as the remaining Termagants, although too far to do anything else for the rest of the game managed to wipe him and his unit out in a flurry of devourer worms. Confident building from the sight of rapidly diminishing Necron units, Hive Fleet Jenova finally realised their plans to totally surround the remaining forces, the Tervigon began to spawn in an effort to overrun their enemies, whilst it's Miasma Cannon and Cluster Spines reduced the nearby Warrior unit to 3 Necrons after reanimation. A squad of Immortals also fell to the combined firepower of the Exocrines and Crone and the Necrons found themselves surviving by the necrodermis of their teeth. A few Warriors in the ruins also fell to the Hive Guard's shooting, but most recovered thanks to their Warlord's Resurrection Orb. All the Imhotep Dynasty had now was their objective holding unit, a Canoptek Spyder and 5 more Immortals.

The final few...

In a heroic last ditch effort however, the last survivors of the Imhotep Dynasty were able to almost kill the Crone thanks to some lucky shooting, reducing it down to a single wound. The Canoptek Spyder, now finding itself without any set role went on a suicide mission to assault the Hormagaunts that now reached the small valley that stood between them and their prey. Some how the Spyder killed a couple of the Gaunts and, being outside Synapse range now they fell back, automatically regrouping when they finally got close enough to their leaders.

The Spyder's last stand

Turn 5: Overrun

There's really not much else to say at this point. At this point the Necrons were not going to win, so it was merely a case of playing for a draw. In order to hang on to as many victory points as possible, my remaining units were forced to focus their attention on the newly spawned Termagants (...of which there were yet another brood thanks to the Tervigon). I decided to ignore the Tervigon as it could not reach my objective holding units this turn thanks to the 3 surviving Warriors in front of it. My mission in preventing the Tyranids from overrunning my objective was more successful, although more Warriors fell to the constant shooting, particularly from the Hive Guard, who's Impaler Cannon barbs weaved through the ruins with frightening accuracy to bypassed my cover saves. The Spyder charged the Hormagaunts once more, only to be leapt upon by Deathleaper. Despite it's mechanical bulk, the alien Assassin tore it to pieces with ruthless efficiency. The 3 remaining Warriors that faced the Tervigon finally fell, but prevented it from reaching my most vital units, who themselves came under a barrage of fire from newly-spawned Termagants, Hive Guard and both the Exocrines. Most of the Warriors fell, but fortunately reanimated thanks to the presence of my Overlord.

The Warriors last stand

The Crone approaches

Enemies loom but it's too late!

With turn 5 over, the dice was rolled and the game ended. All there was to do was to tally up the totals. James held one uncontested objective plus Line Breaker and First Blood. I also held one uncontested objective plus Slay the Warlord. Even though the casualties were much heavier on my side, the victory points were a lot more even...


Final Victory Points Tally
Necrons: 4
Tyranids: 5

Minor Victory to the Tyranids!

Epilogue

     Hive Fleet Jenova's assault had been far less forgiving than the Phaeron had first expected. He surveyed the battle field with a strategist's eye and, despite being able to integrate the defensive capabilities he and Kharimekh had learned of from the "Imperial Fists" files within the Imperial Data Archives they had recovered he could see that it would not be long before the ruins he had guarded so jealously would eventually be overrun and he would have no choice but to retreat.
     Amidst the chaos Nemekh spied the crumpled form of Kharimekh slowly re-knitting itself to his right flank as a purple sea of verminous creatures threatened to wash over his corpse. Such brutality would be difficult for even the Grand Vizier of the Dynasty to recover from.
     Although against any other force this could be considered a crushing defeat, Nemekh saw this battle as a minor victory. The main monster that seemed to lead the swarm had been exterminated, and with it's death came a difficulty in maintaining military (or at least whatever counted as military to these things) order within their ranks, and that should buy the Dynasty enough time to fall back and recover their strength before yet another assault on the Hive Fleet.
      Shadows loomed over the unit, bio-plasmic rounds and parasitic creatures that did little to harm to their Necrodermis bodies came at them at screeching velocity as gauss fire bellowed out in reply. Nemekh turned to the Technomandrite leader that accompanied him and gave him a nod of his jawless skull to signify that the Veil of Darkness beacon should be activated.
     As the alien creatures descended upon their metallic foes they were bathed in a green light before the Necrons disappeared from sight. The ruins that had acted as a battlefield headquarters only minutes before had been reduced to leftovers in a matter of seconds...

Post-Mortem

Well that was exciting wasn't it? It was an interesting experience with this being my first 6th edition 2,000 point battle, and it was interesting to see how differently Tyranids play now. I don't think my tactics were poorly chosen, but with such a hard army to break and drive back it was hard to play for a win and I knew that playing for a draw was most likely my best option from the start.

Not that I am taking anything away from my opponent, James played incredibly well and his choice in units and how he used them was devastating, but losing his Hive Tyrant to something as random as a Peril of the Warp must have sucked on his end. But suddenly facing 30 Termagaunts that just appeared in an Outflanking maneuver was utterly terrifying for me I can tell you that now!

Regardless of the loss I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I actually came away from the game not regretting many of my decisions, even James admitted that, for the most part I made the best tactical decisions available to me given the respective circumstances, there was little I could do to stay the Tyranid swarm.

So this is where I highlight what I have learnt, so here goes:

  • Spore Mines are very, very annoying. They're very easy to kill, but when they drop right next to your troops you're faced with a decision: shoot them and ignore the more valuable troops behind them, leaving the vital stuff untouched or ignore the Spore Mines and, either be blown to pieces or be rendered combat ineffective. Spore Mines are a nasty terror weapon now.
  • Synapse just became 100 times more important to Tyranids as well. James had to make a lot more Instinctive Behaviour tests this time than with the previous codex. Useful to keep in mind for future reference.
  • Exocrines are really nasty, especially in pairs.
  • Aside from the above, although most other things in the Tyranid codex have got "weaker" I still had problems with facing the army. Monstrous Creatures are a little easier to kill but they still take a lot to put down. The Tervigon in particular did massive damage to my army and still churned out lots of critters that caused me problems. In my opinion the codex is a lot more balanced now, but Exocrines and Crones are absolute beasts and well worth taking.
  • As for my Necrons, bog standard Harbinger of Despair when used purely as a flame wall in overwatch works surprisingly well. Wraiths in larger units I can imagine would work really well too (they certainly took longer to kill this game!) but just remember they do get costly, it was my most expensive unit but unfortunately didn't get enough time to really shine.

Well that is all for this battle report. Congratulations to James on his victory and be sure to check out his Saturday Showcase that this report is part of over on Games and Theory. Until next time...

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