Monday, February 26, 2007

Battling back through time

While flipping through an old notepad the other day I came across some notes describing my previous battles between my Chaos army and the dastardly Dark Elves. Since I plan on writing up full battle reports for all my forthcoming games, for the sake of completism, I will type up these notes here. So let me take you back in time...

Game 1 500pts

  • Aspiring Champion with Shield
  • 12 Warriors full command
  • 4 Knights, champion and standard
  • 6 Warhounds
Dark Elves
  • Noble
  • 10 Repeater crossbows
  • 16 Spearelves full command
  • 8 Dark Riders spears
I had my Warhounds on the left flank, the Knights on the right and the Warriors in the centre. The Dark Elves deployed squashed up on my right with the crossbows on the hill and the Spearelves at its foot.

I won first turn and moved the whole army forward. The Dark Riders charged my Knights, were beaten and overrun. The Knights then charged the Crossbows, hit them and destroyed them all. The Warhounds and Warriors got into a brawl with the Spearelves. The Elf noble was killed in single combat by the Aspiring Champion. The rest of the unit routed and were wiped out.

A convincing victory for Chaos!

Game 2 500pts

  • Aspiring Champion with Shield
  • 12 Warriors full command
  • 4 Knights, champion and standard
  • 6 Warhounds
Dark Elves
  • Noble
  • 10 Repeater crossbows
  • 16 Spearelves full command
  • 8 Dark Riders spears
We played another game immediately as the first was so quick!

This time the Elves began on my far right so I put the Knights over there along with the hounds. The Druchii won first turn. The Dark Riders galloped down the flank while my Warriors and Knights pushed up through the centre. The Dark Riders hit the flank of the Knights and killed one. The Knights held and the War hounds then hit the Riders in the flank. The DE cavalry broke and were pursued by the Knights who eventually caught and slaughtered them. The bloodthirsty Knights ran off the table.

Meanwhile my Warriors were being whittled down by the Crossbows. They made combat with the Spearelves. My depleted unit was beaten and run down. My hounds got shot to pieces by the Crossbows and my Knights didn't come back quickly enough to rejoin the fray.

A loss for the Hordes of Chaos.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A new leader

I really enjoyed my last game of Warhammer, which I wrote a battle report for in my last post, so I went down to my nearest GW store and dropped £20 on the Archaon model. I won't play him as Archaon, though, just as an Exalted Champion or maybe my Lord when we reach 2000 points. The good thing about him is that I'm coming off the back of painting 10 Warriors and just this single model will cost me the lions share of 250 points, so he's all I have to paint for two weeks or so. That means I can either go to town on him or have some extra time to paint an extra unit.

I also picked up a copy of the latest Horus Heresy novel Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow. Although I have enjoyed the series so far I am not a fan of the last two Swallow books I read (which are reviewed here Deus Sanguinius and Deus Encarmine). I'll review it for this blog once I finish it.

Following the purchase of Archaon, my new model fund stands at £2.68.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The fickle winds of magic

Following my frantic painting efforts I managed to get my Warriors onto the tabletop. I hadn't played for three weeks so I was really up for a game, especially now that we had enough models for a 1000 point battle on a 6' by 4' table.

I brought my Chaos Undivided mortals:
  • Aspiring Champion with Armour of Damnation and 6+ ward save
  • Lvl 1 Sorcerer with Dispel Scroll (Steed of Shadows spell)
  • 12 Warriors full command
  • 10 Warriors full command
  • 5 Knights full command
  • 6 War hounds
  • Chariot
Gary brought Dark Elves with:
  • 3 lvl 2 Sorceresses
  • War Hydra
  • 10 Repeater Crossbows
  • 16 Spearelves full command
  • 5 Dark Riders
The battlefield and deployment
On my half of the table I had a large wood on my left, a smaller wood on my centre right and a hill on my right. Gary had some rock columns and a hill to my far left and a lake in the centre. My plan was to use the large wood to protect my flanks so I put the Chariot and Knights on my far left and the two Warrior units in the centre on the other side of the wood. My Aspiring Champ and the Sorcerer started in the larger Warrior unit. I put the Hounds on my right. Gary deployed all his units bar the Dark Riders opposite my left flank.

Turn 1
Gary won first turn and pushed his riders right down my throat, near the Warriors but out of their line of sight. He shuffled the rest of his units about a bit and ran a sorceress into the rocks to threaten my Knights and Chariot. I used my Dispel Scroll.

I moved both the Chariot and Knights forward, ignoring the sorceress. Both Warrior units marched forward (they were just over 8" from the Dark Riders). My hounds got in the faces of the Riders.

Turn 2
Gary charged and killed the hounds with his Dark Riders. I was hoping for a long overrun but they only went 7". The Hydra moved back a bit. His sorceress in the rocks miscast, took a wound and ended the magic phase. Result!

I could only move my 10 man Warrior unit 4" due to the Dark Riders but my larger unit marched a full 8". I charged the Chariot and Knights at the Hydra but was just out with both.

Turn 3
The Hydra charged the Chariot, caused two wounds and broke it. The Dark Riders came up behind my Warriors to march block both units. The Dark Elves magic and shooting were better this turn and killed three of the 12 Warrior unit.

My knights slammed into the Hydra but caused no wounds. Drat! The combat continued. Fortunately the Chariot rallied. In the centre my units tramped another 4" to the opposite board edge.

Turn 4
Gary shuffled his Spearelves back 2.5" and brought his sorceress out of the rocks to see the Warriors who were now coming just beyond the large wood. Combined magic and shooting killed six more Warriors out of my now not so large unit. The Hydra took a wound from my Knights and a handler was killed.

I charged the Chariot into the Hydra but only inflicted a single wound. Shit. The Knights killed another handler and put a wound on the beast. Rolling on the reaction chart, the Hydra became unbreakable. Fan-bloody-tastic. Now I'd have to take every single wound off the animal one by one. At this rate it would take until turn 21! I turned to face the Dark Riders with my Warriors.

Turn 5
The Dark Riders moved out of line of sight but still managed to march block both units. The rest of his units moved back toward his own board edge. A sorceress cast a spell on the Warriors to prevent them from moving for a turn. It was now looking very unlikely that any of my Warriors would reach them. On my left it wasn't much better as my two hardest hitting units were trying to bring the Hydra to heel. Everything changed within a few dice rolls. A sorceress miscast allowing my own sorcerer to auto cast Steed of Shadows on my Aspiring Champion. Gary used five power dice to dispel the spell but he got a double 1 and the spell went off. My Champ zoomed into the nearest sorceress and chopped her to pieces. My Knights and Chariot took the last three wounds off the Hydra in sudden burst of energy.

My Aspiring Champion charged the Crossbow Elves who fled. The Champ caught them and hacked them to itty bitty pieces. The Chariot and Knights manoeuvred to face the hill around which the Dark Elves were trying to mount a defense.

Turn 6
After a sudden reversal of fortune the Dark Elves had to chase the game. A sorceress prevented my Champ from moving, effectively putting him out of the game. The Dark Riders stopped dancing around and charged into the rear of my three surviving Warriors. All the attacks bounced off and I killed two in return. The Elves held. The Spearelves moved away behind the hill out of sight of the Knights.

My Warriors killed two more Riders but the last Elf passed his break test. My Knights failed to contact the Spearelves. My Chariot charged a sorceress who also fled, this time straight off the board.

I ended up with an unlikely solid victory (638.5 victory points to 256).

This game revolved around a single miscast and a fumbled dispel. Without that big slice of luck I would have undoubtedly lost. Serves those dishonourable spellcasting bitches right!

Those Dark Riders were as annoying as feck! How the devil do I deal with them? A unit of Marauder cavalry? An Aspiring Champion hanging around the rear? More hounds?

The other development I have noticed in my last few games is the 'Dark Elf shuffle.' I either need more speed to threaten the Elves back line or some shooting to force them to come to me. Perhaps the Beast book would help or maybe a Hellcannon could shift the balance?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wear your colours with pride

Stage 8
This was a biggie, as I had to finally settle for a cloth colour for the cloaks. I've varied this throughout the army as it represents Sigurt's patchwork alliance of different tribes. While rifling through my paint collection I came across an unopened pot of Space Wolf Grey and decided to give it a try.

I was surprised at just how well it went over the black undercoat, being such a light colour. Of course it was patchy in places but I planned a heavy ink wash so I wasn't too concerned.

As you can see in the pics the bluey-grey-white provides a good, crisp contrast to the black armour. It will also make for a good canvas on which to paint their tartan clan colours.

Painting time: 30 mins.
Cumulative total: 4 hours 30 mins.

Stage 9

I had to paint the Space Wolf Grey onto the cloaks quite heavily for decent coverage and it took an age to dry. While I was waiting I decided to undercoat the shields with Chaos Black spray. I left them on the sprues for ease of painting. The other thing I had to do was construct a movement tray (why did GW have to switch from 4 to 5 in a rank?). I sawed the end off one and glued the end from another. I really need to add some sturdy plastic or card underneath to hold it together before basing it in the same way as the Warriors.

Painting/construction time: 30 mins.
Cumulative total: 5 hours.

Stage 10

When the cloaks had thoroughly dried I mixed up some Blue Ink with some Brown Ink and some water, as a wash for the cloth. I liberally applied it all over with a thick brush.

As you can see it makes quite a difference to the overall colour as well as shading the recesses. Of course it is blotchy in places but I'll just go over the raised areas with a highlight layer later on. Also, remember a layer of tartan will hide much of the roughness.

Painting time: 10 mins.
Cumulative total: 5 hours 10 mins.

Stage 11

Time was getting tight as it is the night before my game and I need to get them tabletop ready at the least. I raced through the models getting at least a basic colour on everything, finishing the shields in the process. I then cut the shields off the sprues and glued them onto the models. That'll do for a first game.

The additional painting involved getting Codex Grey on the skulls and Scorched Brown on the belts. My recipe for the gold on the shields is Brazen Brass and then a Brazen Brass/Burnished Gold highlight on the far edges. I then coat it with a Brown Ink wash. At a later date I may come back to it and add another Burnished Gold/Mithril Silver highlight and a Chestnut Ink wash for warmth.

Painting time: 45 mins.
Cumulative total: 5 hours 55 mins.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Big, hairy Northmen

Stage 4
Switching from one brown to another I painted my Warriors furry cloaks. I used Scorched Brown to get a nice deep base colour. I used the same colours on the warhounds as the army background involves each Warrior killing a hound to earn his place and wearing it's pelt as a trophy.

I slapped the paint on with a fairly large brush for quickness. With not many details finished on the model it didn't really matter about precision.

Painting time: 20 mins.
Cumulative total: 2 hours 50 mins.

Stage 5
My next task was to drybrush the Scorched Brown fur with a mix of Scorched Brown and Vomit Brown (where the hell do GW get these ridiculous names from?). I did this more carefully with a smaller brush.

Around this stage I started to get the feeling that the models were coming together. A bit of colour and texture dos wonders.

Painting time: 20 mins.
Cumulative total: 3 hours 10 mins.

Stage 6
The fur is very heavily textured so it came withstand a lot of drybrushing. I decided to go for another layer to define the fur even more. I mixed more Vomit Brown and a little Bleached Bone, and lightly dusted the fur again.

Painting time: 20 mins.
Cumulative total: 3 hours 30 mins.

Stage 7
By now the fur was starting to look a little 'dusty' which often happens when you drybrush successive layers. I needed an ink wash to warm the pelt back up and tie the layers together. I used plain Brown Ink diluted with water. I also washed the boots with the same ink.

I couldn't paint anything else on the model until the ink was dry so I mixed up some Black Ink and water and liberally sloshed it over the metallics. I wasn't worried about it getting on the black armour as would just add some depth to the plates. Here is the unit as it stands now.

Painting time: 30 mins
Cumulative time: 4 hours.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rally to the flag

Stage 2
My Internet connection went down yesterday so I couldn't post, but it did mean I had more time to paint. Stage 2 of my Warriors was more metal; this time the weapons, chainmail and spikes. I used Boltgun metal as it is a bit darker than Chainmail and therefore looks a little more realistic.

I have been batch painting the whole unit of ten Warriors in order to get them onto the tabletop for a game on Tuesday night. Here they are:

Painting time: 1 hour.
Cumulative total: 2 hours.

Stage 3
Taking a break from all the metal I decided to paint the boots. I bought a new pot of Snakebite Leather for the purpose as I have found it goes straight onto black beautifully. Not this time. The Snakebite Leather seemed oily and covered poorly, as you can see in the pics below. It was reminiscent of the GW yellows, where you need to paint it on a white undercoat or build up a number of layers.

Despite my problems I slathered it onto the rest of the Warriors. It just means I'll need to add another stage later to tidy it up.

Painting time: 30 mins.
Cumulative total: 2 hours 30 mins.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You'll never take our freedom

I've just got back from a few days in Scotland. My girlfriend thinks it was a romantic Valentine's day trip but I was really doing tartan research for my Warhammer Chaos army. Bwa ha ha!


So I have started on my next Warrior unit and I thought I would cover the painting of it in stages for this blog. My plan is to have an update every day over the next five days. Stage 1 is the metal 'highlights' and here is what it looks like on the whole unit, from a distance.

This is a very rough and ready start to the painting process. I slap some GW Chainmail on the raised edges of the armour to represent wear and tear. I try not to do this too deliberately as it doesn't look natural and a good side effect of this is that it is very quick. I also painted some of the belt buckles and other small metal plates while the colour was on my palette.

Total painting time: 1 hour.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Northmen muster

I've revisited my Chaos mortals army in the past few days and I snatched a couple of pics so I thought I'd share them.

I started with my five Knights, which I had painted to table top standard, but always meant to return to. Unfortunately Games Workshop haven't invented tartan paint yet, so I had to paint all the lines in individually. I suddenly remembered why I hadn't painted them the first time around! I also finished off the trophies, skulls and other paraphernalia on these highly detailed figures.

The tartan was still required on my chariot, both on the horses barding and the drivers cloaks. I did this in orange to match my current general's clan colours. Speaking of characters, I painted up a second sorcerer from scratch. He was a doddle to do and handily fills in quite a few points in my army list.

Once I had the paint jobs sorted I turned my attention to the bases. I added snow flock and static grass. The static grass looked too green on these wintry bases so I dipped them back into the snow flock. Even though no glue was involved it seemed to do the job and the grass was toned down somewhat.

I took the opportunity to base up my new 10 man Warrior squad at the same time, so my next task is to slap some paint on them and get them on the battlefield.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Imperial Guard versus Tau mega battle

My local GW store organised an Imperial Guard versus Tau mega battle and I dusted off my Cadian 271st to participate. I built up a modest 1400 point army with minimal wargear because I always forget to use it in big battles. My IG allies were Vostroyan mechanised on the far left, Cadians led by our overall commander Ursarkar Creed on my immediate left and a Cadian 27th Armoured Company on my right. I reckon we had about 10,000 points. Unfortunately the main Tau force, commanded by the organiser of the game, didn't show up. That left just two Tau armies to oppose us with approximately 6,000 points.

The initial plan was to play a cleanse variant, with the winner of each board section being decided by whoever had the most scoring units present. There was to be no deep strike, infiltrate, scout moves or any other complicated time consuming stuff. You can see the general deployment in the picture below (taken after both sides 1st turn).

An early theme was the targeting of the Tau Ethereal with our ordnance weapons. I think he survived a Basilisk, Demolisher and Leman Russ shot on the first turn alone! It quickly became apparent that no-one was taking the battle too seriously so we all ran our armies directly toward each other. Our shooting was absolutely abysmal. My entire 1400 point army, which included 3 missile launchers, 3 multilasers, 1 heavy bolter, 1 autocannon and two ordnance templates didn't kill a single enemy model (on one frag shot I rolled six partial hits and got none). The rest of our combined firepower dropped a Devilfish and routed a unit of Kroot and a Fire Warrior squad. Shocking.

The only saving grace was that the Tau shooting was just as bad, and most of our tanks survived the first turn. With the Armoured company on my right engaging the Mech Tau I swung most of my units into the centre to support Creed and our allied Inquisitors in their push forward. I used my Russ and Demolisher to advance the Stormtroopers and Ogryn and zoomed my Armoured Fist out to flame the central building. Of course, they fluffed their hits and were wiped out in return. My Conscripts lost three quarters of their members and two of my Sentinels got popped.

We got two more ordnance shots on the Ethereal but still he survived! As we severely outnumbered the Tau, we allowed them to use reserves, and they dropped several gun drone units behind our advancing lines. They also dropped a Vespid unit down next to my Command Squad, killing four Guardsmen. Kennell survived.

On the third turn we finally nailed the Ethereal and several Tau units ran. We continued our central push, and my two ordnance shots failed to kill a Tau Crisis suit but the Conscripts took him out with rapid firing lasguns! My Cadian allies wanted to charge into the Vespid with my assistance but I refused, reasoning that supporting fire would do more damage. Predictably I only killed two and my Guard allies were not happy. Still - they managed to hang on and win in the following assault phase. I lost my last Sentinel and the Demolisher to return fire, while my Ogryns were decimated.

We had ran out of time so I had one final survey of the battlefield. The Vostroyans had taken heavy casualties but had held the left flank. The two mech forces on the right had fought each other to a standstill. Vicious short range firefights had broken out in the centre but we had Creed and Kell and our Inquisitor and retinue all in combat.

It was a good game - a bit ragged around the edges but tremendous fun. I'd love to do it again sometime.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

New Model Fund

Just a quickie to say that the first sales have gone through on e-bay for my 'new model fund.' I made £9.68 in sales and I now have a grand total of £22.68 to spend.

The Black Crusade of Jihar the Lacerator

I finished The Black Crusade of Jihar the Lacerator, the fourth and final campaign in Black Library's Tactica Imperialis. This has the air of 'old' 40k about it - a lot of Rogue Trader flavour. For starters it is 'written' by Corwen Quilp, Field Notary (a cookie to anyone who can tell me where he first appeared), but it is mainly in the resolution of the campaign that it reveals it's 1st edition take on Chaos. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The action takes place in The Gloom Worlds, just outside the Eye of Terror. It's systems are home to many mutants, who are used as slaves; a source of cheap labour. Jihar, an Emperor's Children Marine, attacks several worlds and causes the mutants to rise up against their oppressors. Imperial Guard Regiments are sent out to quell the rebellion and to lure Jihar out so that the Inquisition can finally nail him. Things don't quite go according to plan.

Again, I believe this section was written by Andy Hoare. The narrative isn't as compelling as some of the other campaigns and lacks a little focus. It ends very abruptly without trying up all the story threads. It is very in keeping with the game background, though.

The art in this section is of variable quality. The Chaos characters are presented in colourful, cartoony art which look comical rather than threatening (and Jihar looks worryingly similar to Lucius). The Mordant 13th are more grittily depicted in black and white illustrations. The maps of the Gloom Worlds are better, but still under detailed, as are the battle maps.

Altogether I think Tactica Imperialis is a worthwhile effort. It could have been better - more detailed maps, less recycled art, more focused writing - but it could have been a lot worse. The final section of the book hints that this is simply the first volume in a series. I hope so.

I will be using this source book as inspiration for my own Skolarii Sector and to help me write up the historical campaigns of the sector.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Order of Battle, Tactica Imperialis

I've devoured another campaign in Tactica Imperialis, the third in the book. It explores the uprising on Rophanon, an Administratum Charter world. This is a Garden world which is ruled directly by the Priesthood and is a comfortable retirement spot for high ranking members of the Adeptus Terra, as well as a resting place for unneeded data from across the sector. The indigenous population rail against the enforced rule of their Administratum masters and begin an armed rebellion.

This campaign section is good when it is looking at the organisation of the Imperial response to the sedition. It has an excellent two page spread on the Orders of Battle of the Guard, explaining the concept behind the Regiment, and also has some nuggets of info on troop landings (massive anti grav generators mean that troops without drop equipment can be deployed from ships in low orbit!). It's a bit more woolly when it comes to the actual campaign and the maps are once again not detailed enough.

There is a rather novel end to the action which, although it stretches the imagination somewhat, is very 40k.

Just one more campaign to read.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Tactica Imperialis

I picked up a copy of Tactica Imperialis on Saturday and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's sub-title is a History of the Later Imperial Crusades, and it purports to be a document for military historians and officers in training. There are four military campaigns outlined; so far I have read two.

The first is set on a mining colony which has been attacked by Dark Eldar. The miners are aided by Space Marines of the Iron Snakes Chapter in a most unorthodox fashion. The series of battles are recorded with the help of a map of the colony and some new and recycled artwork. I think this section is written by Dan Abnett, as I have heard some rumours about him writing a Space Marine novel about the Iron Snakes. It is well done and could easily be played out as a mini campaign - the forces involved are relatively small and characterful. Fluff junkies will enjoy the political struggles between the Colony Governor, the Governor Subsector and the Space Marines, as well as little nuggets of detail outlining colony charters and the enigmatic Dark Eldar.

The second campaign concerns Lyubov, a Hive world involved in the Sabbat Worlds crusade. Considering the subject matter I would again assume Dan Abnett wrote this section of the book. He is particularly good on the internal struggles within the Imperial forces - General Carnhide is given a mish mash of regiments and is expected to retake several hive spires. Each branch of the military forces (Guard, Navy, Mechanicus) fight to have their pet attack plan approved and Carnhide plays them off against each other to try and mount a cohesive assault. Things start to fall apart when the Blood Pact are encountered and Carhide realises the scale of his task. Some of the maps and art in this section are a bit ropey - there are three full page pictures of Titans for example, which I'm sure I've seen numerous times before. Still, it's yet more background for the Sabbat Worlds Crusade and the Gaunts Ghosts are nowhere to be seen.

At the time of writing I have two more campaigns to read, and as soon as I do I'll complete my review and post the full thing up on my website proper. In fact, it has inspired me to go back to my other background books and review them, so that I'll have the full range of campaign histories.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Skolarii sector map

I've been working on the Skolarii sector map again this afternoon and it is finally starting to come together. It's quite ambitious, as it is going to show everything it possibly can in one place; systems, warp routes, invasion directions and everything else I can cram in there. The only way I can make it work is to use layers. Lots of layers. I only have the titles, sub sector boundaries and planets on there so far and I'm already well over 80 separate layers. Phew. The advantage of this, though, is that I will be able to change and tweak things as necessary, depending on what I want the map to show.

Anyway, enough preamble. Here is my work in progress.

The Cult of the Unmet Eye

My latest post is another venture into the Skolarii sector, with a look at The Hooded, a Chaos cult. They are, of course, inspired by the new Forgeworld Chaos Militia. The article is presented as an Inquisitorial report and is in an Index Malleus format.

Index Malleus

To: Supreme Protector Von Aschausen, Jalein
From: lone pilgrim, Clearance Omicron
Subject: The Hooded, the Faceless, the Cult of the Unmet Eye, the Unseen Chaos Cult
Priority: High
Received: 951.M41
Message Format: Telepathic
Astropathic Duct: Skolarii
Thought for the Day: In the service of the Emperor, sacrifices must be made

Physical characteristics
The Hooded derive their name from their dominant physical characteristic; they hide their faces from their victims. This has led them to be called the Faceless, the Cult of the Unmet Eye, the Unseen and countless other names across many worlds. The cult uses shapeless hoods and masks almost exclusively. These are usually fitted with goggles, or sight augmenters which are sealed into the hood. This sealed, contained, breathing apparatus is not just filled with oxygen - the Hooded often alter them to feed in Kalma, ‘slaught and other combat drugs. As the Hooded use forbidden chemical and biological weapons in their attacks, these rebreathers are integral to their combat doctrine.

Imperial scholars have conjectured that a secondary, but no less important, function of the masks is to make the cult more terrifying. The hoods give them a distant, unknowable, inhuman air which can demoralise and frighten their opponents.

Although the Hooded follow Chaos, they sport very few visible mutations compared to other cults. Perhaps this is because their originate from a disciplined Imperial Guard regiment. They still resemble a Guard regiment, though shabby and debased. Their original battle dress has been adapted and modified extensively since their first campaigns. Birastaxian body armour has been added to their brown camouflage fatigues, while much field kit has been looted from the corpses of the Cadian 271st. Leather or fabric tabards are also popular and their shock troops often utilise overlapping metal plating. As much of their uniform is battlefield salvage or improvised the Hooded have an irregular air and no two troopers are identical.

The cult often take grisly trophies from their enemies. Eyes are particularly sought after, but ears fingers and other organs are often worn around the body. Severed heads are often planted around a battle site, a warning to all those who oppose the Hooded.

The Hooded stalk the battlefield in eerie silence. This is partly due to their thorough battlefield training and drill ground precision but is also due to their capture of Imperial micro beads and other vox network technology on Birastax. Communication is uniformly excellent throughout the cult and this allows them to co-ordinate and execute engagement strategies and tactics with extraordinary adroitness.

The true origins of the Hooded’s homeworld is likely lost in myth and legend, however I have a transcript of the confessions of Margrave Soren (taken upon his capture and interrogation by Inquisitor Lord Danett). His account does seem to tally with the scant factual evidence we have.

General Soren, as he was in 437.M41, hailed from the otherwise insignificant agriworld of Blackwater in the Kjalter sector. It was a dour world full of foggy glens and vast, deep lakes and raised many Imperial Guard regiments. Soren led the Blackwater 77th Foot. He victoriously prosecuted a campaign against the Deathguard traitor marines on Plantaff and was subsequently awarded the world as a home to garrison and govern. It was a hilly, humid stink-hole, but Soren was relieved. After seven successful campaigns over his thirty year career, he could finally settle down with his family.

At first his governership was productive and enlightened. He began to reconstruct the shattered cities, plant crops, introduce sanitation and rebuild the economy. He also won the indigent population over with his surprisingly liberal views - allowing artistic and philosophical societies to flourish. Within ten years the populace were rising up against him. While the Grey Ague swept the world, killing two out of every three citizens, Soren was locked away in his private villa. Eventually the plague reached even his own family and his wife succumbed. At his lowest point, numb with despair and raging at an Emperor who could betray him after all his efforts, Soren listened to his delinquent son’s new philosophies.

When the Grey Ague receded, Governor Soren once again began his rebuilding and finally won over the survivors. He founded numerous charitable organisations and artistic and philosophical movements. He encouraged his workers to join agricultural and manufacturing unions and he introduced warrior cults with the help of members of his old regiment, the Planetary Defence Force and other contacts in the Departmento Munitorum and Imperial Navy.

All seemed well for many years until Ecclesiarchy Witchfinder De Santiis secretly arrived on Plantaff. He had traced the taint of chaos back to the governor’s son and after further investigations he charged him with heresy. This forced Soren’s hand. He rescued his son, killing De Santiis in the process, effectively declaring war against the Imperium. Many of his follower’s declared for him, and Soren moved quickly to destroy the loyalists on Plantaff. Galvanised by this early success, Soren looked further afield.

First contact
Soren was a master strategist, and had a massive following, and soon took many systems and worlds in the Kjalter sector under his control. By the time the Imperium rallied to meet the threat, Soren had conquered two sub sectors and had a firm foothold in a third. The rebels began to change as Soren plundered more weapons and changed and refined his tactics. They adopted hoods and masks with rebreathers as protection against the biological and chemical weapons Soren employed. Soren’s rebels seemed unstoppable and were scissoring in on Bistarax, a massive Hive world and an essential source of weapons, munitions and armour for the growing army.

Lord Governor Koine along with his Inquisitorial aide Danett, sacrificed two agriworlds in the hope that Soren would over extend his attack. The plan worked and Soren launched a lightning assault on the Hive World, spearheaded by his own Blackwater 77th shock troops and utilising ancient pathogens and toxins. Koine met them head on with his PDF and the Bistarax 12th Grenadiers and the Bistarax 91st Armoured. A ferocious engagement ensued on and around Jentilak spire, and against the odds Soren looked to have carried the day. Lord Governor Koine had one last ploy. He unleashed a company of Absolution Angel Space Marines upon the rebels. Isolated, outgunned and out numbered the invasion forces were shattered and Soren was captured by Inquisitor Lord Danett. Koine was confident that with its leader gone the cult would fall apart like so many before it.

Lord Governor Koine was wrong. A mysterious figure call the Adorator quickly gained control of the rebels, elevated it seems from the position of Margrave, one of the seven army group commanders below Soren. He kept the militaristic structure of the cult but added his own brand of savagery and terror tactics. He began and encouraged the practice of beheading the enemy and sporting the heads as trophies. He would sometimes let captured prisoners loose after gouging out their eyes. His face has never been seen or picted and his identity remains a complete mystery to the present day.

In a series of brilliant engagements he outmanoeuvred and destroyed several imperial battle groups and began to capitalise on Soren’s gains. He quickly remounted a successful attack upon Bistarax and its court was removed to the Skolarii sector. The Adorator went on to seal fourteen separate pacts with other Chaos cults in the sector and turned several Imperial Guard Regiments to his cause (including notably the Cairn 49th, Skolarii sector).

The rest of the Kjalter sector fell over the following century.

Combat capabilities
The Hooded are surprisingly well organised for a Chaos cult. Originally led by Imperial Guard General Soren, it is now ruled by an unknown individual called variously the Adorator, the Dominator, the Defier or the Superus. He commands a coven of seven Margraves who in turn lead seven Ascendants each. Ascendants command 10,000 troops, while Colonels lead 1000 men, Captains 100 and Corporals 10. Imperial Field Notaries therefore estimate that the Hooded can field up to half a million frontline troops, with up to two million supporting.

The Hooded are well drilled, with new recruits put through a punishing training regime derived from Imperial Guard methods. This prepares them for battle well; they are not a raving, bloodthirsty rabble like most cults. Leaders rule with iron discipline and command is devolved effectively throughout the cult. Even Captains are allowed to operate freely based upon battlefield intelligence and as a result of this the forces of the Imperium have been outwitted by the Hooded on several occasions. Soldiers are taught to think for themselves, to be independent and be decisive.

The ranks of the Hooded have been swollen by traitorous Imperial Guardsmen, PDF troopers and Navy personnel in the Kjalter sector who are attracted by the relative freedoms offered by the cult.

Standard Hooded combat doctrine involves an initial chemical bombardment delivered from orbit, by atmospheric craft or occasionally long range artillery. Mobile forces are then employed to break through the enemy line, striking at logistic, supply and communication weak points. When the enemy are isolated, confused and terrified, the Hooded infantry can encircle and destroy them. Veterans of the Blackwater 77th are often deployed as shock troops in the initial assault phase.

Firearms used by the Hooded are largely solid shell, with autoguns and shotguns particularly common. Autopistols are used extensively as sidearms, while auto cannons, heavy bolters and missile launchers are employed at range. Plasma weapons are occasionally seen but meltaguns are more common. Flamers are heavily favoured.

Since the sacking of the hive world of Birastax, the Hooded have had an excellent supply of armour. They often deploy in fully mechanised columns, which suits their lightning warfare methods perfectly. Chimeras (mk IV), Hellhounds (mk III), Griffons (pattern III mortar) and Leman Russes are common sights in the Hooded’s armies. They even have a number of super heavy vehicles; famously deploying a trio of Baneblades in the attack on Jodra.

Shock assaults are standard tactics of the cult, led by veterans equipped with stick grenades, demolition charges and punching daggers for brutal close combat.

Threat Index and Imperial Policy
The forces of Chaos have already conquered the Kjalter sector and now have their sights set on the Skolarii sector. The Hooded are the controlling cult of the arch enemies forces and have proved themselves to be more than a match for equivalent Imperial Guard formations. If the Hooded lead a full scale invasion of the sector we will be hard pressed to repel them.

In my opinion we have fight them in four ways. The first is to increase discipline and morale in our forces. It is vital that we do not flinch in the face of the cult. For that reason I recommend maximum Commissar and Priesthood deployment to the frontline.

My second recommendation is to allow junior commanders more latitude than the norm. If we remain inflexible and static we run the risk of being isolated, encircled and destroyed piecemeal as per the Hooded combat doctrine.

Third, I believe air superiority is the main countermeasure to Hooded attacks. If we can prevent their main source of pathogen bombardment, and the first phase of their strikes, we can minimise the disruption in our own ranks. That means we will be able to meet the Hooded’s mechanised columns head on. We must utilise our air assets.

Finally, the cult has a history of over extending it’s supply chain. I think we should target Bistarax in the Kjalter sector, the source of much of the Hooded’s armour and weaponry. Even if it proves to be impossible to recapture or destroy, the cult will be forced to meet the new threat and will lose impetus.

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Emperor's name is...

I just came across a really in-depth article about the history of Games Workshop books and publishing. It's written by Stephen Baxter, a former GW writer, and is useful even if you just want some info about the early history of Games Workshop. It is long, though.

Oh, and the Emperor's name is...Cliff Richard!

Does exactly what it says on the tin

I've already mentioned a couple of Games Workshop forums (Warseer and Dakka Dakka) but it's high time I showed you another.

The Warhammer Forum is a British based, no nonsense forum covering all GW games but specializing in Warhammer Fantasy battle. It's tagline is does exactly what it says on the tin, which is a reference to the famous Ronseal TV adverts. It seems to have a high proportion of veteran and tournament gamers with a fairly strict bunch of moderators. This means that spelling, grammar and punctuation is better than average and that topics are debated thoroughly. Perhaps because of the British bias there is less preference for RAW and more tolerance of 'common sense' interpretations of rules and sportsmanship. Check out this thread on the WPS tournament rulespack for a perfect example.

Because it is hosted and populated by Brits it is excellent at keeping me informed on upcoming tournaments. I also use it's 40k boards to kick around ideas. The battle reports section is also particularly good, probably due to the aforementioned number of tournament players.

Good stuff.