Saturday, June 30, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: Plastic Baneblade sighted

The new plastic Baneblade has been sighted on the Games Workshop US website as a trailer for the Chicago Games Day.

The rumours are that this kit is not based exactly upon the Forgeworld kit, but is inspired by it. Opinion varies on the price tag with estimates ranging from £50 to £75. My own guess would be around the £60 mark. The UK Games Day posters have displayed the new Chaos Space Marines codex cover so we can expect lots of Chaos goodies at Games Day, but there is a possibility of the Baneblade and other Apocalypse related products appearing there too.

Brimstone on Warseer has created an Apocalypse rumour thread which contains pictures of other models to accompany the release including Marine veterans, an Ork Mek and a new Necron Lord.

Tabletop Gaming News is carrying an interview with Jervis Johnson at the moment. While it's not exactly a Jeremy Paxman interview it does reinforce GW's new direction with their games expansions (such as Mighty Empires).

The Nemesis Crown campaign website is now fully live and you can start to register. I have already done so and plan to play a small campaign against Gary's Dark Elves in the Barren Hills over the coming weeks.

Righto, I'm off to make a 2000 point army list.

Friday, June 29, 2007

CAMPAIGNS: Location campaign

I think that campaigns are the pinnacle of miniature gaming. They add context, drama and excitement to games. Knowing that a city, world or sub-sector rests on the outcome of your battle adds greatly to the game. Heroes can be made as they lead their troops to victory and units develop their own stories, good or bad. This is the stuff that makes playing games a much richer and deeper experience than playing a regular board game.

Campaigns can also inspire you. To build terrain, write background histories for your armies, invent worlds and test special rules. They also create a game around the game, encouraging more 'realistic' gameplay from players. In a one-off game you might sacrifice a unit to win the game, but would you do the same in a 10 game campaign? Heavy losses might be acceptable when your troops magically raise themselves back from the dead in time for the next battle; in a campaign the casualties cannot be so easily replaced and your losses could hurt you later on. You might win the battle but lose the war.

Like many players, I suspect, I like the idea of campaigns but rarely play them. This is largely due to time constraints and the amount of work the campaign creator has to put into the campaign, and the commitment required of the players. I hope to change that over the coming months and years.

My first attempt will be low-key and short. I think this is the best way to start and will give me the maximum chance of finishing the campaign. I want to run it alongside the Games Workshop Nemesis Crown worldwide campaign over the next four or five weeks. Here are the rules I have developed.

Location campaign rules
A location campaign is played between two players. It uses a very simple 'map' to regulate the games.

The basic rules use five locations. Each player has a base at the opposite ends of the line (location one and location five). The first game is played at location three. The winner of this game captures that location and can advance one location towards his opponents base and fight another battle. If the battle is a draw, play another game at the same location. Continue playing games and advancing locations until a player wins a game at his opponent's base location - the winner has destroyed his opponent's base and won the entire campaign.

Example Colin has Dark Elves and has the base at location one. Owen has a Hordes of Chaos army and owns location five as his base. They play the first game of the campaign at location three. Owen wins the game and his Chaos army captures location three. His army marches on to location two and Owen and Colin fight another battle. Again the Hordes of Chaos are victorious and his army captures location two. The next battle will take place at location one. Again the armies deploy, but this time the Dark Elves managed to hold the Chaos attack. The game is a draw, so no location is captured. Instead a further battle must be played for location one. The Chaos army outmanoeuvres the Dark Elves and win the game. Owen captures location one, and because it is the Dark Elf base he wins the entire game.

Those are the entire rules. See, I told you it was simple!

Optional rules
You can use some of the optional rules below to change the campaign rules to suit your gaming group.
  • Change the number of locations. I would recommend five locations as a good number which will give the right number of games during the campaign. The minimum number of games would be three and the average will probably be around six games. However, you may want a shorter campaign in which case you could reduce the locations to just three (you should always have an odd number so that the first game is in the middle and doesn't favour one player over another). Alternatively, you may want a longer campaign and you could increase the number of locations to seven or even nine. Be aware that with two players of roughly equal skill, these campaigns could take a long time to complete.
  • Set a time limit. If you know you only have a certain amount of time to play the campaign, or you can only play a set number of games, you might want to set a deadline. This could either be a date (e.g. six weeks time) or after, say, six games. It is possible that no player will have captured their opponent's base by the end of the campaign, so you will need to change the victory conditions. If a base is captured that player has won a major victory. Otherwise, check the locations captured by each player. If one player has captured more locations he has won a minor victory. If the players are in the central location and have captured equal locations the campaign is a draw.
  • Use scenarios. You could assign a scenario to each location. For example, you could decide that any battle fought in a base location (one or five in the example above) will use the last stand scenario from the Warhammer rulebook (pg 249) with the player who owns the base as the defender.
  • Name and describe the locations. This will add to the character and flavour of the campaign immensely without much effort. In the above example we might imagine that the campaign is being fought in Norsca as a Dark Elf raiding force lands on the coast seeking slaves. Norscan and Kurgan tribesmen band together to repel the Dark Elves. Location one will be the Ridge beach where the Dark Elf Black Ark is drawn up. Location two will be a little inland, in a marshy river valley known as the Blackmoor Fens. Location three is a the Gorwell bridge, a vital crossing over the river Teld. Location four is the haunted woodland of the Ironwood. Location five, the Chaos base, is the township of Volsung where the women and children are kept safe. So the Dark Elves are trying to push inland to pillage the township while the Chaos army is trying to drive them back to the Black Ark. The names could influence your choice of board and terrain for each game and will give you lots of scope to expand the narrative of your games.
I plan to play this campaign over the next few weeks as part of the Nemesis Crown campaign with me using my Horde of Chaos army against Gary's Dark Elves. I'll post the battle reports and campaign progress as I go.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

OPINION: Elements of a successful competitive army

A while back I wondered if there were common elements to successful competitive armies whatever type and race they were and regardless of how they worked.

For instance, would you consider having a push-back unit to be essential - something cheap and/or durable to force back enemy deployment? Similarly, would you never leave home without an infiltrating unit, just to deny enemy infiltrators? Do you always have some sort of response to indirect weapon fire, or do you always ensure that you have indirect firing of your own? Would you always recommend commanders to purchase a psychic hood if they had access to it?

With the help of the members of the Dakka Dakka forum I came up with this list.
  • Optimise for escalation. Build your army either all-infantry (the whole army starting on table) or all mechanised (whole army starting off the table). This stops your force being destroyed piecemeal by heavy infiltrators or deep strikers. On table is preferable as you cannot be hampered by poor reserve rolls, though off table does give you a chance to observe the enemy and blow them away as you arrive.
  • Emphasise firepower rather than assault. Shooting units can begin to inflict damage early in the game and can potentially hurt more units, without exposing themselves to too much risk. Mobile firepower is preferable as it can outwit static shooters and keep away from assaulters. Some counter assault is necessary, though. If you rely on assault, then you must have a reliable method of getting there.
  • Include several mobile objective grabbers. Objectives are important in most missions now. Be careful, though, as you usually sacrifice firepower for mobility.
  • Be durable. Tougher armies can take more damage and are more forgiving than fragile ones. It should be hard for your opponent to significantly reduce your killing power in a single turn. Tough armies could be MEQ’s (T4 3+ save) or have a lot of bodies (Guard), or even be able to hide well (Tau). Eldar Falcons are particularly durable if they select the right wargear. Another way to be resilient is to specialise. If you go all mechanised all of your enemy’s basic guns are useless. Similarly, if you go all infantry all of their anti-tank guns are much less effective.
  • Build an anti-MEQ force. 60% or more of your tournament games will be against MEQ’s. (MEQ - Marines or EQuivalent)
  • Include a push-back unit to limit enemy deployment. Otherwise you will have to concede ground during deployment or place a valuable unit in harms way.
  • Include at least one infiltrating unit to hamper enemy infiltrating. Just one cheap unit can cripple armies that rely heavily on infiltrating.
  • Maximize your number of scoring units. Missions are very important due to the victory points they give and only scoring units can achieve the missions.
  • Try to fill out the force organisation chart. This allows you to outmanoeuvre the enemy in the deployment phase.

Would you add anything else to the list?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BATTLE REPORT: Chaos Space Marines vs Necrons

We had played a couple of games with Gary's Necrons and he was really enjoying the change. He had won one game and drawn another and we both wondered how they would fare against a more competitive Chaos list - I had been experimenting with alternative lists (dropping staple units such as the speed Prince, Obliterators and heavy bolter havocs). This time I picked a list to specifically take out the 'bots.

Points value:
Army 1: Chaos Space Marines
Army 2: Necrons
: Recon
Level: Gamma
First turn: Necrons

Chaos Space Marines
  • Lieutenant on Bike, Lightning Claw, Daemonic armour
  • Lord, Daemonic stature, Daemonic speed, Daemonic resilience, Daemonic armour
  • 8 Havocs, 2 autocannon, missile launcher
  • 8 Marines, plasma gun, lascannon
  • 8 Marines, infiltrate, flamer, plasma pistol, Aspiring champion with powerfist
  • 6 Furies
  • 6 Daemonettes
  • 10 Warriors
  • 10 Warriors
  • 4 Destroyers
  • Heavy Destroyer
  • Heavy Destroyer
  • Necron Lord with Resurrection Orb and Nightmare veil
  • 6 Scarab bases
Terrain and Deployment
This was a heavily terrained board. There were two area three line of sight blockers in the middle of the table - one ruined building on my left and a wood on my right. I also had some level two ruins in my central deployment zone. I refused the right flank, only putting the biker lieutenant out there. I had the las/plas squad and speed prince behind the large ruin and the havoc squad in the smaller ruins. I infiltrated the close combat squad behind the wood.

The destroyers all cowered behind the wood. One warrior squad began on each flank.

The game
The Necrons took first turn. The Lord teleported the warrior squad on my left, way over the board to my extreme right. Their shooting stripped a wound off my biker lieutenant. He charged in and clawed four of them. One stood back up then the Lord teleported them a few inches back. Again they shot the lieutenant and they removed his last wound.

Meanwhile, the destroyers killed three havocs. I pushed the infiltrators through the wood and their meltaguns dropped a heavy destroyer. My Havocs tried to kill the other but failed their target priority test and hit the scarabs instead. That meant the heavy destroyer came back online.

All the time I was pushing the speed prince and las/plas squad through the large ruin. All the destroyers turbo boosted into the far right corner, obviously worried about my advance and the prospect of the daemons. The scarabs formed up in front of the flyers as a screen.

I got my daemonettes. They summoned from the infiltrators and they had just enough movement to hit the scarabs. I continued to push up on the now deserted left flank.

The daemonettes took the scarabs down to a single base. The Necron lord tried to teleport in next to the second warrior squad to rescue them from the advancing daemons but he scattered off the board. The destroyers were now hemmed into the corner.

The daemonettes finished off the scarabs and just contacted the warriors. The Furies were summoned and also hit the warriors. Unsurprisingly the warriors were slaughtered and the two survivors ran. It meant both units of daemons were sitting targets for the destroyers, though.

I passed four out of six saves on the daemonettes and only one fury went down. That sealed the fate of the destroyers. On the last turn the daemonettes assaulted the destroyers, the furies assaulted the heavy destroyers and the speed prince caught the last warriors. The Necrons phased out.

Exigators - Daemonettes
Necrons - Lord and teleporting warriors

Turning point
The lord scattering off the table.

Learning points
  • This was a much tougher Chaos list, specifically designed to beat the 'bots. Although there were fewer units they could actually project more force onto the Necrons through their speed, weapon range, special deployment and summoning. I also boosted the squads up to eight models so that they could withstand a round of shooting without losing key models.
  • The teleporting warrior squad is a powerful but risky unit. It paid off when they killed the lieutenant but backfired when the lord scattered off the table.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

PAINTING AND MODELLING: The Blood Angels muster

A while back I listed all of my Blood Angel models. I can now revisit the list and add the points values to find out how much I have and how much I still need to do. I haven't added any wargear, vehicle or squad upgrades, so the actual totals will be higher.

Here are the painted models.
  • Dante 200 points
  • Mephiston 225 points
  • Corbulo 100 points
  • Chaplain with jump pack 120 points
  • Chaplain 100 points
  • Techmarine 75 points
  • 10 Deathcompany with jump packs, 2 power fists variable
  • 5 Veterans with jump packs, powerfist, plasma pistol 190 points
  • 10 Assault marines with jump packs, 2 plasma pistols 280 points
  • Razorback with twin lascannon 80 points
  • Furioso Death Company Dreadnought 125 points
  • Dreadnought with multimelta 125 points
  • Predator Destructor 95 points
Total 1715 points. Of course there are far too many heroes and not enough troops but that's a good start.

These models are built and undercoated.
  • 5 Honour Guard with jump packs, standard, plasma gun, Techmarine, Apothecary with twin lightning claws (!) 225 points
  • Landspeeder with multimelta 65 points
  • Landraider 250 points
  • Whirlwind 85 points
So that is another 625 points for minimal effort. However, I am still very low on Troop choices.

And then I have some models awaiting construction.
  • Landraider Crusader 250 points
  • Techmarine in Servo Harness and 4 servitors 220 points
  • 6 Sniper scouts 110 points
  • 5 Close Combat scouts 80 points
  • 3 Shotgun scouts 39 points
  • 1 Heavy Bolter scout 29 points
  • 10 Tactical marines 190 points
I have 918 points tied up in my remaining models. Crucially, they include some more troops, in the shape of Tactical marines, which I bought from e-bay a few weeks ago. Getting these models on the tabletop would also allow me to field the Razorback. This unit must be my priority.

Altogether, then, I have a total Blood Angels army worth 3258 points! An impressive figure but the collection is horribly unbalanced with few troops and far too many heroes. They are also in various states of repair and vary wildly in the standard of their paintjob. Perhaps this is going to be a bigger project than I had first thought...

Monday, June 25, 2007

REVIEW: Blind by Matthew Farrer

Here is my review of Blind by Matthew Farrer. First up is the synopsis, so if you don't want to know the full plot skip forward to the review.


The Bastion Psykana on the fringe of the Hydraphur system. The Bastion is the centre for astropathic communication around Hydraphur. Bastion Master Otranto's body is found. He has been murdered.

Shira Calpurnia is incarcerated far out on the edge of the Hydraphur system. She is about to face trial for the events upon Selena Secundus. Calpurnia is temporarily restored to the rank of Arbitrator Senioris by Chastener Dast so she can investigate the killing.

Calpurnia and the Arbites put down a mutiny upon arriving at the Bastion. Calpurnia makes contact with Master Detective-Espionist Rede, an undercover arbitor, who can use her secret informers to investigate the murder.

Calpurnia discovers that Otranto had left Teeker Renz, his Concordiast, and was on his way to meet Torma Ylante, who had arrived on a Black Ship the day before. Otranto's body was found in his sealed quarters; there was no sign of the killer or the murder weapon.

Calpurnia quizzes Ylante. Ship's Captain Gessante Lohjen secretly requests that two astropaths watch Calpurnia. Dast threatens Ylante, trying to get a quick resolution to the case.

Renz meets with Dechene to talk about Calpurnia and Ylante. Calpurnia discovers that Ylante had been a Concordiast at the Bastion many years ago. She knew Otranto and many of the senior astropaths on the Bastion. Chastener Dast is attacked.

Calpurnia questions Watchmaster Chevenne with Ylante. Dechene and Kyto plot against the arbites.

Dast is in a coma in the apothecarion. It seems like he was attacked by arbitor Phiessen, who later died with no trace of why. Calpurnia takes sole charge of the investigation. She confines Ylante to her quarters and orders her watched. Ylante receives a secret message from Calpurnia asking to meet her in the docking hangar.

Dechene follows Ylante to the hangar, as do the arbites under Calpurnia. Ylante meets four mysterious figures who are working for Lohjen and drag her away. Crewmen, who have been commanded to enter the hangar by a secret arbites messenger, are shot at by the figures and one dies. The lights go out. One of the Lohjen's men is killed. They leave the hangar with Ylante. Dechene follows again.

Back in the hangar, the prisoners are released from the arbites dromon. Calpurnia responds but finds it is a trick. Meanwhile, one of the crewmen, Goll, goes berzerk and kills Lohjen and the rest of his men before expiring himself. Lohjen is found to be an inquisitorial agent.

Calpurnia discovers that Kyto is amongst Lohjen's dead. She links Kyto to Renz and Renz to Otrantro. Calpurnia forces astropaths Chevenne and Anschuk into a scrying to pick up Otranto's psychic trail. Anschuk dies with the effort. Chevenne is severely wounded. Calpurnia talks to Ylante in the apothecarion, who survived the attack on Lohjen and his men. Calpurnia discovers that psykers can manifest physical wounds which mirror the visions they see.

Renz is arrested. Dechene intervenes. He has developed hidden psychic powers which can force people to do as he wishes. He used these powers to kill Otranto, attack Dast and control Goll. Calpurnia resists and kills him.

This is the third Shira Calpurnia book, and is very much like it's predecessors. The focus is on background and character, rather than action, which is something of a rarity in Warhammer 40,000 fiction. The pace feels very slow. This is only in part due to the absence of fight scenes, but is largely because of Matthew Farrer's writing style. He is quite slow and laborious, and goes round the houses to get to the heart of each scene. You get the feeling that if he had to point to his right ear he would use his left hand and go over the top of his head to get there.

The upside of this is that his settings are very well realised. He obviously does a lot of research and thinks deeply about how the elements of his setting interact. There seems to be a high degree of internal consistency here. The Bastion is a very evocative and believable place. If you read 40k novels to inform your knowledge of the background universe, then Farrer's books are for you. They work less well as involving narratives.

There is an opacity to the writing and the characters. Many times I found myself flicking back a few pages to re-read a passage and make sense of the plot. I sometimes confused characters as we got a glimpse of their internal thoughts which all sounded very similar. I don't think that Farrer has managed to create distinct 'voices' for each of his characters.

This was a short book which felt quite long. Nevertheless, it does try to achieve something a little more considered and mature in comparison to many other 40k novels, and for this it should be commended.

I'd score this book 6 out of 10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

Sunday, June 24, 2007

OPINION: On Luck - Maximising your opportunities by being open to new experiences

Last time around I explored the idea of building a network of luck, how by being more outgoing you could increase your insight into your own game and that of the other players around you. In this follow-up article I want to take a look at how you can be 'luckier,' and expand your network of luck, by being open to new experiences.

As in my previous examples, we need to imagine two different types of player. I'll call the first conventional Colin and the second open Owen. They are playing in the Warhammer 40,000 (40k) Grand Tournament for the first time.

Colin likes to do things now as he has done things in the past. He doesn't like big surprises. He thinks that he is unlucky. Owen craves variety and novelty. He likes to explore new experiences and try new things. He believes that he his lucky. So how does this relate to playing 40k?

Conventional Colin
Colin's conventional approach informs his whole approach to the game. He likes to play with the same army, week in, week out. He doesn't like to change his army list from game to game. Colin will even use the same tactics in each game. He will feel more comfortable playing against players he has played before. He likes to play against armies he has had experience against, armies that are predictable, have solid, obvious tactics and he understands the rules for.

Colin likes to play 1500 point Gamma Level cleanse missions. He feels that this is fair, that it gives each army a chance to use their special rules and everyone knows what to expect. He doesn't want his game ruined by 'too simple' Alpha missions or 'stupid' Omega missions. Colin probably does fairly well in his gaming group. He has a tight little list which he knows the rules for without having to read the Codex. Colin knows what he likes and he likes what he knows.

Open Owen
Owen is the polar opposite. He might have half a dozen different armies and will swap between them on a whim. Even if he plays the same army two weeks in a row he will vary the list and his tactics. One week he will play mechanised Space Marines and the next he will play an infantry heavy gunline. His opponents never know what they will come up against from week to week. Owen likes to play against opponents he has never faced before. He is always on the lookout for new tactics and strategies. He especially likes to play against unusual armies that are rarely seen, like Daemonhunters, Kroot Mercenaries and Armoured Companies. Sometimes he won't even bother to learn the rules for them before the game. Surprise me, he'll say to his opponent.

This attitude also encompasses wider factors such as the mission or the game size. Owen might play 500 point games, 1000 point games, 1500 point games and 2000 point games. He'll volunteer for unbalanced games, taking half as many points as his attacker while he gains a defensible position. It doesn't matter to him that he is likely to lose. It'll be fun and he might learn something new. He'll play campaigns with home-made scenarios, he'll play in smaller tournaments with one-off missions and he'll use the full range of missions and levels in the 40k rulebook. Owen's results are up and down. His relentless experimenting means that he sometimes loses 10 games in a row. When he wins 10 games in a row he continues to change his lists. Owen is always on the hunt for something new and different.

So why is Owen 'lucky' and Colin is 'unlucky?' Why will Owen place better at the Grand Tournament than Colin? It's obviously down to their behaviour.

Owen has a big bag of tricks he can delve into during a game. If he is in a tight spot, he might remember a manoeuvre that an Imperial Guard player made in a previous game and replicate the same move despite the fact he is using Marines. It will be enough to gain him a draw instead of a loss. Similarly, all the games he played as Crisis suit heavy Tau will stand him in good stead when he plays against such an army with his Dark Eldar. He will remember the armies, units and tactics that challenged him and he will be able to use those ideas to beat the Tau army he is now facing . He will win that game comfortably. He'll use a unit in a counter-intuitive way during a game because he did that in a special scenario months ago and it worked - this will surprise his opponent and could upset his plans. Colin's broad experience of playing with and against a wide range of players, armies and tactics means he always has a chance against anybody, no matter what surprise they drop on him.

Colin won't be so 'lucky.' His narrow range of 40k experience will leave him woefully unequipped for an unusual game. He might be anxious when he faces off against a Tyranid 'Godzilla' list. Nevertheless he will simply grind forward using his standard game. The Tyranid player will recognise the obvious tactics and destroy him. Colin will put it down to bad luck and playing against a 'cheesy' army, and move on to the next game. He might be forced to play an Omega level game when he usually plays only Gamma level games. He finds his tanks start off the board and his jump-pack commander cannot deploy with his assault marines because they get different reserve rolls. His army is hopelessly disjointed and easily beaten. If only he had gotten luckier reserve rolls! In fact the problem is that he is under prepared, he just hasn't planned his army to take reserve rolls into account and he hasn't practiced enough to cope with inconvenient rolls.

There is no guarantee that Owen will win the tournament and that Colin will finish bottom, but I'd bet that Owen would finish above Colin.

Colin's inflexible approach to the game means he is easily knocked out of his comfort zone and can't cope in a different environment. I have seen a lot of Colins in the past and invariably they put this down to bad luck rather than addressing the real problem.

Owen is more easy going, his openness to new experiences means he is rarely surprised and even if he is, he can usually use some previous game to help him to relate to this particular game. His outlook to 40k informs his entire attitude and his perception of whether he is lucky or not.

So what are you - a Colin or an Owen?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Pictures of some of the new Chaos Space Marine models have surfaced on Warseer. The ensuing discussion has lasted a full eleven pages so far. Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2007

BATTLE REPORT: Chaos Space MArines vs Necrons

Again I turned up with a 1500 point army and again I played a much smaller game against Necrons. Gary had enjoyed his run out with the over-excited toasters so much he went out and bought some Heavy Destroyers to add to his army. I simply added a Predator to my previous list.

Points value: 950
Army 1: Chaos Space Marines
Army 2: Necrons
: Seek and Destroy
Level: Alpha
First turn: Chaos

Chaos Space Marines
  • Lieutenant on Bike, Lightning Claw
  • 5 Marines, meltagun, heavy bolter
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, heavy bolter
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, lascannon
  • 5 Marines, flamer, plasma pistol, Aspiring champion with powerfist
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, missile launcher
  • 6 Daemonettes
  • Dreadnought, twin lascannon
  • Predator, twin Lascannon and Heavy Bolter sponsons
  • 10 Warriors
  • 10 Warriors
  • 4 Destroyers
  • Heavy Destroyer
  • Heavy Destroyer
  • Necron Lord with Resurrection Orb and Nightmare veil
  • 6 Scarab bases
Deployment and Terrain
The photograph below shows the terrain and deployment after the end of the first turn.

The Game
Gary won the choice of first turn but gave it to me. I moved up around the right of the pivotal wood. Long range lascannon fire dropped two Warriors.

The Necrons swept around the left of the wood. My Daemonettes summoned into the wood but failed to contact the Destroyers. The Scarabs charged in and killed them all. This in turn left them vulnerable to a charge from my close assault squad and the aspiring champion began to swat them with his powerfist.

Meanwhile, the Lord teleported and scattered to my left. I killed four Necrons and the survivors broke. They didn't run far, though, and decent We'll be Back rolls meant the squad rallied. I lost an entire squad to Destroyer fire.

The Destroyer took out the Dreadnought, too, with two sixes on the glancing chart. My Lieutenant whizzed out around the back of the woods to threaten the trailing, and so far untouched, Warrior squad. He wasn't required, though, as my close assault squad finished off the scarabs and slaughtered the Warriors in a single shattering charge.

The Necron Lord teleported right into my lines and killed several marines. They took light casualties before zipping off and reappearing behind the Predator. The vehicle exploded in another glancing 6. A las/plas squad stepped up to deliver the hurt, but they failed to do any real damage and the Lord punished them for their failure.

I now went after the Heavy Destroyers, trying to reduce the Necron scoring units. One fell to a lascannon shot then my melta gun squad flubbed its rolls to kill the other. The Lieutenant dropped him instead with some lucky combi-bolter shots.

The Lord and his Warriors shot up another of my units, while the Destroyers killed my Lieutenant. We both had a single scoring unit left at the end of the game.

Necrons - teleporting Lord
Chaos - close assault marines

Turning point
The Necron WBB and rally rolls to save the Lord's teleporting unit.

Learning points
  • Gary played this game very sportingly which allowed me to draw the game. We both enjoyed the wild swings of fortune during the battle.
  • The Necrons have the edge in mobility and firepower. The CSM have an assault advantage but no real way to engage in the combat. Even the Lieutenant, who had an 18" assault move, didn't get into a single scrap.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: All-out Chaos attack!

The big news for me is the release of more Forgeworld models for the Chaos Renegade Militia. First up are the Enforcer conversion kits. These guys perform a similar role to Commissars in an Imperial Guard army. I don't like the rules for Commissars and I wasn't sure about the first sneak preview I saw previously. Having read the Renegade list in the Siege of Vraks Imperial Armour book I think the Enforcers will see significantly more use in CRM lists than Commissars do in IG lists. This is due to the rather random nature of the CRM leadership values. So I might HAVE to include some of these models. With that in mind I took a careful look at the figures (there are 5 in total).

I'm still not sold on the heads. Everyone parodies Games Workshop for overusing the skull imagery and it's just too easy to slap a skull on something and call it Chaos. Each Enforcer carries a different type of weapon. The 'power prod' looks the best to me as it is very finely sculpted with lots of detail. The chain and power sword look okay, as does the mace, but the whip just looks weird. Maybe it's the angle of the photo but it seems very awkward. Plasma pistols, bolt pistols, las pistols, auto pistols and shotguns round out the their armoury. These models still get a meh from me. Perhaps I need to see them in the flesh.

The Rogue Psyker models look far more promising. These are sculpts by Mark Bedford, one of my favourites at Games Workshop. There are two distinct poses. The first has arms outspread and is obviously revelling in his powers. My first thought on seeing him was to use him as a Daemonhost for my radical daemonhunters army. A very nice model.

The other psyker seems to be a bit more concerned about his powers. He's holding his head like the Edvard Much painting 'Scream.' Again, this is an excellent sculpt.

The only problem is that the rules for them are not great. They are very similar to the Imperial Guard Sanctioned Psykers who add lots of character but not much practical power to an army. There are some neat rules for becoming possessed, but they are hardly an essential choice.

So, a bit of a mixed bag. We have one unit which is vital but has iffy models and another unit which has good models but dodgy rules. Ho hum.

It's not just 40k that has new Chaos models. Forgeworld have finished the Harbinger heavy bomber for Aeronautica Imperialis. Take a look at the scale comparison with the other Chaos craft. This thing is huge!

I want to get into this game one day. The only good thing about not getting it straight away is that Forgeworld will have a load more models for sale for it by the time I take the plunge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

NEW MODEL FUND: Limited edition skullz

I have posted some more gaming paraphenalia up for sale on e-bay. Some of it I rediscovered from previous auctions that didn't sell. I really don't have room to keep it so I dropped the prices and re-listed them. Anything I get to put toward future models buying is a bonus next to the lack of clutter in my games room. Some already have bidders so the sale prices obviously worked.

Here is the link to the auctions.

As well as older stuff, I have put some new limited edition models up for sale. These were models I acquired during the Skullz promotion around the turn of the millennium (Y2K seems like a really long time ago). One is the Ultramarine standard bearer and the other is the 'Iwo Jima' Armageddon space marine diorama. Both are very hard to get a hold of nowadays so I hope to really add to my kitty over the next week or so.

One consequences of all my recent selling activity is a massive rise in my e-bay fees. The invoice arrived yesterday and totalled £13.44. Erk. That is more than the total of all my other invoices so far. Here is how the numbers look now.
  • Total income from sales (and my penny jar) £290.86
  • Less selling fees £26.07
  • Less models bought £95.16
  • New model fund £168.77
I'm reading the Siege of Vraks Imperial Armour book at the moment and I'm getting far too excited about those Chaos Renegade Militia models. The way things are going, I'll have a decent wedge of cash to splash on them when I'm ready. Bring it on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

BACKGROUND: Exigators 10th company, part two

Inquisitor de Fire had killed all but thirteen members of the 10th company but his primary target, captain Finn Keys, was still alive. The inquisitor had tracked him down to Devil's Den, a rocky, heavily forested area to the south east of Orbis hill. It covered an area of over 200 square kilometres and comprised the most challenging terrain on the entire second continent. Keys knew the place intimately and had a dozen of his best scouts with him. He also had advance warning of the inquisitor's plans. M'Kellan's message had got through.

Inquisitor de Fire left his base at Stolidus wood for Devil's Den with almost two hundred Stormtroopers and came back two weeks later with sixty six wounded and ninety one full body bags. Only one of those held the remains of an Exigator. The inquisitor came up with a new plan. He told the 16 captured scouts that they were free of the taint that afflicted many of the Exigators and that if they helped to hunt down Keys they would be able to continue their training and serve as a Marine in another chapter.

The scouts began a deadly game of cat and mouse with their former battle brothers. For four weeks the scouts stalked each other through the hostile terrain. Occasionally, Devil's Den was filled with the sound of gunfire, the triggering of traps and ambushes and the shouts and cries of desperate close combat. All this activity was separated by long periods of silence which sent the impatient de Fire into fits of apoplexy.

Keys lost seven of his loyal scouts before he killed the last of his former pupils. He strung the body up on a rock face as a defiant message for his inquisitorial nemesis. But the inquisitor had one last option. He called in an Eversor assassin.

Finn Keys was a skilled, cunning hunter who could survive for months at a time in enemy territory without support, but even he could not withstand the naked fury of an Eversor assassin. Two of his men were caught and brutally butchered. In a desperate gambit he lured the assassin into an ambush with himself as the lure. The gambit failed.

The Eversor discovered one of the scouts and shot him with his needle pistol before he could bring his heavy bolter to bear. Keys retaliated under covering fire from his last pupil. The assassin and the captain raced toward each other. The sniper's shot was true and hit the Eversor in the chest, cracking a rib and collapsing a lung. The assassin didn't break stride. He didn't even flinch.

He tore past Keys and raked his neuro-gauntlet across the marine's torso. The Eversor ignored the mortally wounded captain and bounded off after the sniper scout. He broke off after the scout disappeared in heavy brush and returned to Keys. Utterly dispassionately, he lopped off the captain's head. This was presented to de Fire as a trophy.

Despite that one missing scout de Fire declared his mission a success and left Insolitus, never to return. The Exigators now have no formal 10th company but they do occasionally return to Insolitus to take the best men from it's warrior lodges and induct them into the chapter.

Monday, June 18, 2007

BACKGROUND: Exigators 10th company

This is a long piece, so I have split it over two posts. Part two will follow tomorrow.

Finn Keys was the captain of the 10th company and was responsible for the recruitment and training of future Exigators. Although the Exigators were a fleet-based chapter, with their companies split up and assigned to different roaming missions, their principal recruiting centre was on Insolitus in the Halasus Marches. There they encouraged warrior lodges amongst the population and chose the best as recruits for the chapter.

When the Imperium learned of the chapter's gene debasement they developed a two pronged solution. The main thrust would be against the Exigator's fleet at Knardlone, with a smaller but no less vital attack against the scout company, and Finn Keys, at the fortress of Orbis hill on Insolitus.

Inquisitor de Fire was tasked with the mission. The initial bombardment began as planned; lance strikes and melta torpedoes reduced the chapter fortress to rubble. His ground assault, consisting of almost two hundred Stormtroopers flying in on Valkyrie airborne assault carriers supported by Vulture gunships, was delayed for a crucial ninety minutes by unseasonal electrical storms which grounded the flyers north of Stolidus wood.

Astropath M'Kellan survived the devastation of the fortress and received a warning about the destruction of the fleet from the astropath aboard the Swift Justice. He relayed this to the rest of the survivors, some forty scouts and seventy surfs and servitors. They had just enough time to crowd aboard three Thunderhawk gunships, safely housed in bomb-proof bunkers deep below ground. As they roared away from their ruined fortress the Vultures came screaming in. After a short but intense dogfight two Thunderhawks were destroyed in spectacular explosions and the third was forced to splash down in the Rhodahnus river. It sunk to the river bed and 27 bedraggled survivors, including astropath M'kellan and 16 scouts were eventually captured by de Fire.

Following the dogfight, Valkyries deposited the Stormtroopers directly onto the remains of the fortress. They scoured the rubble for the body of Keys but their prime target could not be found. Inquisitor de Fire began aggressive questionning of his captives. Astropath M'Kellan broke under interrogation and revealed that the 10th company captain was out on manoeuvres in the Devil's Den with twelve of his most promising aspirants. M'Kellan tried to send a psychic warning to Keys but he died with the strain, before he could be sure that the message had reached it's target.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This is just a small update to report that, after almost two weeks of inactivity, I have finally constructed my 16 man Marauder unit with light armour and shields.

I would guess that they have taken about five hours to build and base. Grrr. I knew there was a reason I wanted a small and elite army.

It's not even as though I think they will be good on the tabletop. I reckon I need at least 25 models to make the unit viable as a combat resolution anchor. Ideally, I'd like to buy another 16 man boxed set, make a ten man support unit with flails and then add the rest to the big unit. That would make twenty-two men. I'm sure I could pad it up to 25 with a root around the rest of my model collection.

The big problem is time. I don't know when I'll get time to finish this lot, never mind another batch. Ho hum.

You might notice a few changes in this blog over the next couple of weeks - in fact I think my links have disappeared already. Please bear with me. It's for the best. Honest.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

OPINION: On Luck - Maximising your opportunities by building a network of luck

According to Blogger this is my 100th post. Whoo-hoo! It's a small milestone, but a milestone none the less. Here's to another 100 posts and more!

Anyway, back to the blog. This post topic is the first real article on luck in wargaming and how it doesn't really exist. I have had to split this first article into two posts as it was so long, so this is part one of article one. Keeping up? If so, read on...

On Luck - Maximise your opportunities

Building a network of luck
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? If you're an extrovert, the chances are that you will be more lucky than an introvert. Why is that?

Imagine an extrovert who is playing 40k at his local store, games club or at a tournament. During games he will chat with his opponent, examine his opponent's army and talk about previous games or players they have in common. Between games he will walk around and chat with other players, he'll shoot the breeze about anything and everything from rules queries to tactics to other players. He'll watch other people's battles, checking out playstyles and army lists, getting a feel how others approach the game. He might chat with the store owner, the club manager or the tournament organiser and ask their opinions about about 40k, what he thinks are strong and weak armies, how he approaches rules disputes and why he favours certain types of terrain over others.

Now imagine an introvert at the same store, club or tournament. He'll show up for his games and set up in silence, giving one word replies to his opponent's questions about his models and the terrain. He'll play the game quietly and efficiently, then pack up his army to be ready for the next battle. Between games he'll sit to one side for some peace and quiet and will get really annoyed if anyone deigns to talk to him. He'll leave for the night and no-one will even remember he was there.

The extrovert will be more lucky, perhaps not in each individual game, but in the long term, because he is building a network of luck. He will have a broader vision of the game than the introvert who only has whatever thoughts pop into his head. The extrovert will get a better feeling for how the game is played in that particular environment, which armies and lists succeed and which fail, which players are competitive and which are laid back. He might encounter a new tactic for a unit which he never thought of, a rule he was never aware of or see a rare army being played. He will also have a better knowledge of the quirks of his local 'scene' - which ways rules questions are likely to be enforced, what terrain will be used and the armies and tactics of the best players.

All of this information will inform the extrovert's game and what decisions he makes in terms of which army to play, how to build an army list and what tactics will make it work. He'll know when to push a rule and when to pull back. Things will just seem to work his way in lots of his games and he may not even be conscious of the reasons why. He just does what 'feels' right.

The introvert will have no such insight. He might play an army that, even though it is perfectly potent in general, is inferior to others in his area. He might assume rules work in a certain way when in fact his common opponents play them differently. He might turn up for a tournament with his static Imperial Guard army only to find tables crammed with area 3. He'll fall for the bait against an average player who always uses the same tactic. He'll probably put it down to bad luck.

But he would be wrong. It's just that outgoing, social people have built up a network of luck and that reserved, solitary people haven't.

Part two will follow soon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

NEW MODEL FUND: Heavy Tau casualties but Blood Angel reinforcements

There has been lots of activity on the New Model Front over the past week. The auctions ended for several Tau units I had listed the previous and I had planned to put lots more Tau models up on e-bay but one of my regular buyers made me an offer for the rest. This saved me the bother of listing each auction and waiting for them to end, and it gave me a good boost to my kitty. It also completely exhausted my Tau models. I'll have a good warchest for the Chaos Renegade Militia later in the year.

Buoyed by this swelling of my bank balance I splashed the cash on some Space Marines for my planned Blood Angels army. I got 10 Tactical marines for £11.16, which represented a decent saving on the £18 GW price. They are new on the sprue, too.

Here is how the Fund is looking now.
  • Total income from sales (and my penny jar) £290.86
  • Less selling fees £12.63
  • Less models bought £95.16
  • New model fund £183.07
I have taken pics of some models I got as part of the Skullz promotion several years back and they will be my next sales I reckon - I'll list them over the coming weekend. I also have a few random Imperial Guard models to list; some Vostroyans, some Tanith troopers and more.

Watch this space.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

BATTLE REPORT: Chaos Space Marines vs Necrons

After a couple of 'of the cuff' games against Gary's Dark Eldar I decided to sit down and write a decent army list to take on the pointy-ears. Unfortunately, on the day I didn't have enough time to play a 1500 point game so Gary suggested we play a smaller game using his Necrons. He used everything he had and the army totalled 820 points. I used loads of my units plucked out of my original lists as I didn't want to be too 'cheesy' and pick units especially good against the 'bots.

Points value: 820
Army 1: Chaos Space Marines
Army 2: Necrons
: Recon
Level: Gamma
First turn: Chaos

Chaos Space Marines
  • Lieutenant on Bike, Lightning Claw
  • 5 Marines, meltagun, heavy bolter
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, heavy bolter
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, lascannon
  • 6 Marines, flamer, plasma pistol, Aspiring champion with powerfist
  • 5 Marines, plasma gun, missile launcher
  • 6 Daemonettes
  • Dreadnought, twin lascannon
  • 10 Warriors
  • 10 Warriors
  • 2 Destroyers
  • 2 Destroyers
  • Necron Lord with Resurrection Orb and Nightmare veil
  • 6 Scarab bases
Terrain and Deployment
We played on a 6x4 foot table. Gary had laid out the terrain in advance. We had two low hills in the centre, rocky columns and a ruined shrine on the right, and some rubble and a wood on the left. Both Warrior units began in and behind the wood with the Lord amongst them. The Scarabs started in the middle and both Destroyer units were on my wide right.

I deployed my Chaos army predominantly in the centre and left, refusing the right flank.

The Game
I won first turn. My Dreadnought rolled fire frenzy. I had a nervous moment until I realised I could just see two Warriors deep in the wood, otherwise I would have been targeting my own troops! My shooting came to nothing anyway but I managed to move four squads forward.

Both Destroyers units stayed tight on my right flank and shot at the Dread but failed to hurt it. One Warrior squad walked up through the wood but the other used the Veil to deep strike on the right flank. They deviated close to my lines. They slaughtered a las/plas squad with rapid firing.

My Daemonettes were summoned from the other las/plas squad in prime assault range of the Lord and Warriors. They charged, as did the Dreadnought. I killed eight models and the two survivors were run down by the daemons. A twenty minute discussion then ensued regarding the Resurrection Orb and whether it allowed units to re-animate outside of 6" of a similar model. In the end we said the squad was dead. The Dreadnought moved into the Lord.

I pushed the models forward on the left again and scattered fire took out a couple of Warriors in the wood. I zoomed the biker lieutenant from the left to right to help out against the Scarabs and Destroyers.

The Scarabs charged the Daemonettes, killing three for the loss of a base. The las/plas squad charged in. The biker lord tried to crash the party but fell short. The Lord teleported out of combat with the Dread over to the left flank. The Destroyers felled the Dreadnought. Awesome Necron shooting and some appalling armour saves meant I lost my assault squad with the aspiring champion, too.

Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime I passed six armour saves on my lord. That allowed him to contact the Scarabs who were overwhelmed and destroyed, though they did take the Daemonettes out with them.

On the left the Lord and Warriors won a war of attrition with my last squad and I was short of phasing the 'bots out by two models. I couldn't catch the Destroyers or shoot them due to dusk falling, so I threw a las/plas squad into the Necron deployment zone. Both Destroyer units made it into the Chaos deployment zone.

Result: Loss

  • Chaos - Daemonettes
  • Necrons - Destroyers
Turning point
Failing the armour saves on the squad with the powerfist. If I had achieved combat the Necrons would almost certainly have phased out.

Learning points
  • This Necron army is quick. On a large board with a small armies I just couldn't get anywhere near the Destroyers. It's another example of why I think 40k is now a game of mobile firepower.
  • Have the FAQ for your codex to hand at all times. We wasted 20 minutes while we argued about the Veil during the game. Afterwards we checked the FAQ on the website and it clarified the rules (we had played it right). If we'd had the rules at the time then we could have moved on more quickly.
  • Gary made some noises about playing a campaign. It's something I'm really interested in doing to get a bit more depth from out games. The only problem is the extra time and effort it takes to run one. Still, I'll start mulling things over...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

REVIEW: The Battle for Armageddon campaign book

The Battle for Armageddon was the Black Library's first background book. It was written and compiled by Talima Fox. That is an important word because it informs the rest of this review.

The book covers three wars in five sections.

Section one explores Armageddon today. The second continent is broken down by territory - these were originally allocated to different parts of our real world in the worldwide campaign and posted up on the campaign website. These short but punchy descriptions provide good colour, give inspiration and background for player's games and campaigns. Although each territory is well realised this section doesn't allow you to gain any sort of overview of Armageddon. The maps are not well detailed and there are limited photographs.

Section two describes the Heroes of the Imperium on Armageddon. These personalities include Commissar Yarrick (the word Commissar is misspelt in the title on this page), Commander Dante and Admiral Parol. This section is one of the weakest with recycled or sub-par artwork, and thin and detail-free biographies.

We go back in time to look at the first Ork invasion in section three. Things pick up a bit here as a narrative thread is adhered to. The invasion is described in chronological order with lots of good colour pieces. The Path of the Sanctified Pilgrim is an extended article which conveys a lot of the feel of the 40k universe and Citizens of Armageddon Know Your Foe! is very funny. Safe to Eat? is similarly successful (Scabies Rat - it has a flavour that is hard to describe, but is generally considered to be better than standard issue rations). This is by far the longest section of the book.

Looping forward in time the fourth section is dedicated to the second Ork invasion. It switches focus from the land war to the conflict in space. Imperial and Ork vessels are described and we return to Armageddon with the Ork Roks. The Spotters Guide to Ork Vehicles feels a bit lightweight but the Hive Defence Pamphlet is fun in a nasty way. Ouch.

The final section, section five, goes back in time 500 years (still keeping up?) to the first war for Armageddon. This didn't involve Orks at all but was fought against Chaos. Most of the content here was inspired by the Chaos Attack expansion for the Battle for Armageddon boardgame. It has some decent first person narratives.

Remember that compiled word? Well the book feels like it is compiled. It is disjointed and patchy because it has been cobbled together from White Dwarf articles, board games, the Armageddon worldwide campaign website and a myriad other sources. It is still a worthwhile book, though. There are nuggets of background gold hidden away amongst these pages. I get the feeling that Games Workshop were unsure of what they wanted to achieve with this book other than draw together a lot of disparate articles and publish them all in one place. Allowances have to be made because it was the first, but the later books such as Xenology and The Sabbat Worlds Campaign are tighter and more polished.

Overall score 6/10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: Chaos Marine models and Forgeworld goodies

I know this is supposed to be a post about my painting and modelling exploits but I haven't managed to pick up a paintbrush or a pot of glue all week. That's right, I've done precisely nothing. I hope to remedy this over the coming weekend, but for now I have nothing to report.

So instead I thought I'd draw your attention to the lovely new Chaos Marine models shown on Warseer. The pics were originally posted by selfconstrukt. This thread shows the new Terminator Lord sprue, the Khornate champion, the Raptor champion, Huron Blackheart, the Possessed sprue, the Terminator sprue and the recut Chaos Space Marine sprues. Phew!

The Terminator sprue looks like it includes 3 combi-bolters, 1 combi-flamer, 1 combi-melta, 1 reaper autocannon, 1 heavy flamer and 3 power weapons, 2 powerfists and a chainfist. Quite a combination but limited if you want multiples of the same weapon.

The model below is believed to be constructed from the Terminator Lord sprue.


The Marine sprue seems to have enough weapons to give bolters or bolt pistols and ccw weapons to the entire squad, but doesn't really introduce much else new (other than a flamer). Five legs per sprue probably means they'll be repackaged to ten models per box.

The Possessed sprue is probably the most impressive and most exciting. There don't seem to be enough of each mutation to equip entire squads so my guess is you give the squad a mix of mutations and then roll before the game to see what they actually use.

Not only that, but, like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky, there are some pics of new Commissars and an Ogryn for the Imperial Guard. I had no idea any Guard models were in the works, so these are a bit of a treat.

It's such a pity I'm going to stop playing with my Exigators this summer. Damn.

Monday, June 11, 2007

BATTLE REPORT: Chaos Space Marines vs Dark Eldar

Following my drubbing in the last game I decided to put together a completely different army; one that might actually work! Out went the small number of tough models and in came a raft of smaller, cheaper models. I flooded the board with 54 Marines and some supporting Daemons, as well as the Predator. I was getting fairly close to maxing out the force organisation chart which is usually tricky with Marines! In order to do that I had to drop each unit down to six models, even the Thousand Sons. It was a shame I didn't have any Slaaneshi units in the army. My opponent stuck with the same Dark Eldar list as it had done very well for him first time around.

We initially rolled up another Seek and Destroy mission but decided to re-roll rather than play the same mission twice. The second roll came up Take and Hold at Alpha level. Some players seem to think that Alpha missions are for beginners or somehow boring, but I strongly disagree. Including Alpha missions along with Gamma and Omega missions ensures that one-trick pony armies that rely entirely on special rules don't get their own way all the time. Anything that encourages players to include a wide range of units and tactics has to be a good thing. I wish that Alpha missions would be included in the Grand Tournaments. I feel sure that we would start to see a wider variety of army lists.

Anyway, enough of the rant and on to the game.

Army 1: Chaos Space Marines
Army 2: Dark Eldar
: Take and Hold
Level: Alpha
First turn: Dark Eldar

Chaos Space Marines
  • Lieutenant on Bike, Lightning Claw
  • 6 Thousand Sons
  • 6 Raptors, two flamers
  • 6 Furies
  • 6 Marines, meltagun, heavy bolter
  • 6 Marines, plasma gun, heavy bolter
  • 6 Marines, plasma gun, heavy bolter
  • 6 Marines, plasma gun, autocannon
  • 6 Marines, flamer, autocannon
  • 6 Marines, meltagun, missile launcher
  • 5 Possessed with daemonic talons
  • Predator, twin lascannon, 2 Heavy Bolters
Dark Eldar
  • 10 Warriors, 2 Dark Lances
  • 10 Warriors, 2 Dark Lances
  • 8 Wyches, Raider
  • 8 Wyches, Raider
  • 8 Wyches, Raider
  • Ravager, Night Shield
  • Ravager, Night Shield
  • Talos
  • Warp Beasts
  • Archon
  • Drachite
Terrain and Deployment
Gary hadn't changed the set-up from our last battle. The table had two distinct types of terrain. On my right flank I had some bunkers and ruined buildings surrounded by low walls and barricades. We classified this as area three terrain to give Gary a sporting chance. In the middle and on my left there were two large woods which we called area level three, and lots and lots of scattered rock columns which were impassable.

Due to the mission I began with the majority of my units in a central position, behind the wood which had to be taken. I had the Raptors out wide left and the Thousand Sons anchoring my right. The Dark Eldar favoured my left flank, taking as much cover as they could from the woods and rocky columns. We both knew that if Chaos won first turn it would be an extremely difficult game for the Dark Eldar as I would be able to shoot down the Raiders while they were stationary.

The Game
Gary won first turn, much to his relief. He brought most of his force up behind the central wood with a Wych squad zooming up each flank. His shooting was poor - my Predator shrugged off several Dark Lance shots only becoming immobilised, while just 3 marines died.

I pushed the possessed toward the middle wood and the Raptors behind the wood on my left. The Thousand Sons came up to bring the wyches near the objective into sight. My shooting was also sub-par - I destroyed a Ravager and killed a few wyches.

The Dark Eldar launched their assault. The wyches on my right hit the Thousand Sons but the automatons held. The depleted wyches in the middle got to the possessed and wiped out the entire squad. The warp beasts bounded past them to attack a marine unit. In an appalling show of dice the squad caused no wounds and took three in return. The survivors broke and fled. The third wych squad got tangled up in the woods and failed to contact the Raptors.

The Raptors flamed the wyches out of existence. Combined small arms fire obliterated the wyches in the centre and the last wych squad was overwhelmed in combat when I pitched two more units of marines into the fight. I had beaten off the first wave.

Now the second wave arrived. The combat on the right had left my units slightly exposed which meant the Archon could reach them. The Drachite sprinted through the woods and tied up a squad in the centre.

I summoned my Furies but they deviated 10" away from the action. That meant I had to throw the biker lord into the Drachite, but she slaughtered him. The Archon finished off the first squad of marines then charged the second. The Drachite fluffed her attacks meaning she was stuck in combat when the Furies arrived. They ripped her to pieces. The two marine survivors moved out to intercept the Archon and slow her down. Together with the Furies they prevented her from getting anywhere near the objective.

My predator finally succumbed to a dark lance shot. The Thousand Sons had pushed on up the right flank and were trading fire with a warrior squad. The warriors were taken down below half strength but so were the Thousand Sons.

On the left, my Raptors had jumped over the wood and incinerated the other warrior squad. Three Raptors died to ravager fire and the survivors jumped back behind the wood.

We took stock.

Gary had that ravager and the talos near the objective. I had one marine squad and the Raptors to contest the objective but both were down to half strength. Any casualties and they wouldn't be scoring.

I had to zoom the Raptors out into the open to get near the objective. The ravager killed one and took them to non-scoring status. I had manged to work a squad up the left into the woods and their fire shot the ravager out of the sky. One scoring unit left on each side.

I shot everything I could at the talos, but despite getting loads of lucky sixes, Gary saved all but one of them. My last shots of the game were with my final scoring squad. If the plasma gunner took a wound off the talos and survived I would win the game. If I failed to wound the talos and the plasma gun killed its firer I would lose the game. Otherwise it would be a draw.

I hit the talos and the other shot overheated. My shot wounded the talos...and the overheat killed the marine!

Just for fun I threw the last two Raptors into combat with the talos and destroyed it.

Fantastic game.

Result: Draw

  • Chaos - Predator (soaking up four turns of dark lance fire)
  • Dark Eldar - Archon (killed 14 marines)
Turning point
That last plasma gun shot. Games don't come any closer.

Learning points
  • Alpha level games are surprisingly tactical. Armies lose all their special deployment rules and the mission becomes even more vital.
  • Multiple small units work better against the Dark Eldar than single expensive models or units.
  • The biker lieutenant is pants against Dark Eldar heroes. He just gets blatted before he has a chance to swing. If I'm going to persevere with him I need to spend a lot more points to toughen him up. Otherwise it would be better to just take a cheap leader and use him against other parts of the Dark Eldar army.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

BACKGROUND: Exigators. Treachery at Knardlone

Chapter records deposited at Jalein in 377.M34 show the disposition of the Exigators as follows.
  • HQ Chapter Master: Silas Bettanez
  • HQ Chief Librarian: Jayat Queroz
  • HQ Master Techmarine: Snarvat Rime
  • HQ Master Apothecary: Ramone Amos
  • HQ Chaplain: Vann Morr
  • 1st Company Captain: Tchoi Guerez
  • 2nd Company Captain: Badalementi Astrid
  • 3rd Company Captain: Jaxxe Sebastian
  • 4th Company Captain: Orton Jorke
  • 5th Company Captain: Rea Gomez
  • 6th Company Captain: Coxon Guillemot
  • 7th Company Captain: Cullum West
  • 8th Company Captain: Keene Silek
  • 9th Company Captain: Rev Mylo
  • 10th Company Captain: Finn Keys
According to the records, the chapter boasted 1015 marines in total. This chapter organisation was shattered irrevocably in what has become described by the survivors as the Treachery at Knardlone.

When the Exigators succumbed to spontaneous genetic mutation their apothecaries produced a serum which stabilised the marines long enough for them to reunite and seek more advanced medical assistance. Unbeknownst to the Exigators, they were not the only chapter to suffer from unstable geneseed. The entire founding was affected and later became known as the cursed founding. The council of Terra convened and decided upon a drastic course of action.

The Exigators were instructed to make for Knardlone, an isolated system in the Arlehk system. There, they would rendezvous with senior apothecaries from a dozen other chapters and their geneseed would be healed.

The Exigator's battle barge Mighty Hammer broke warp in the Knardlone system, together with the strike cruisers Swift Justice, Emperor's Promise and Silent Hunter. The fleet travelled in-system for two hours before the strike cruiser Indomitable arrived having experienced difficulties with its Geller Field. It hurried to rejoin the fleet.

Without warning, an Imperial fleet emerged from the dark side of the fifth planet and engaged the Exigators. The Emperor's Promise was destroyed instantly in a hail of torpedoes, while the Mighty Hammer exploded with a nova cannon shot to its plasma reactor. Chapter Master Silas Bettanez and Chief Librarian Jayat Queroz perished in the inferno.

Captain Rev Mylo of the 9th company was aboard the Swift Justice which was protected from the initial assault by the bulk of the Mighty Hammer. Together with Silent Hunter they turned 180 degrees and made for the warp exit.

The Indomitable came steaming in from the opposite direction and scattered the Navy fleet. It was an heroic sacrifice as the Indomitable was annihilated by multiple broadside salvoes. 6th company captain Coxon Guillemot is still reckoned a hero by the surviving Exigators to this day.

It seemed like the two strike cruisers would escape the ambush. But the Navy had two Grand Cruisers waiting to close the net. Swift Justice was badly damaged and left drifting, so Silent Hunter became the hunted. It survived for a further 42 minutes, leading the Grand Cruisers a merry dance before being cornered by the rest of the Navy fleet. The Silent Hunter was boarded and it's crew slaughtered.

The distraction gave Swift Justice enough time to repair it's warp drives and escape the system.

The ambush cost the Exigators 596 marine lives, their battle barge and three strike cruisers. It left the survivors bewildered and angry. Why had the Imperium abandoned them? How would they stop the mutations?

I'll explain what happened to the survivors in my next installment.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

NEW MODEL FUND: Tau, Tau and more Tau

Many apologies for not posting yesterday - my work finally caught up with me. It shouldn't happen again.

I've had a shed-load of Tau up for sale on e-bay for the last couple of weeks, mainly Fire Warriors, but I sold the tanks and crisis suits last week and that boosted my income very nicely. Here is my swag so far.
  • Total income from sales (and my penny jar) £188.05
  • Less selling fees £12.63
  • Less models bought £84.00
  • New model fund £91.42
I'm expecting the gun drones and kroot on sale at the moment to fetch a lot less. The auctions are here if you fancy a bargain.

Upcoming auctions will feature more tanks and battle suits. The difference with these blighters are that they are painted. That's good news if you have an urban cammo paint scheme and need some quick reinforcements. I've also come across another dozen Fire Warriors which will complement the 48 I have already shifted.

I mentioned a while ago that I was considering selling my Praetorian army. Well, I'm putting that off for a while because I watched Zulu again the other day. It made me realise why I bought the army in the first place and I just can't bear to get rid of the plucky soldiers. Instead I have a hazy plan to utilise them as a matching army for the Chaos Renegade Militia (taking the place of the Death Korps of Krieg). I reckon I could paint them in a drab colour scheme (rather than the stereotypical red) and mix in some of the new Forgeworld goodies to simulate a WW1 era footslogger force.

Of course this will be some way off in the future. Now I need to dig through my collection and see what other models I can sell. My Skullz promotional mini's are an obvious start.

Watch this space...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: GT dates, Forgeworld and FAQ's

The biggest news of the last week for me is the release of the 40k Grand Tournament dates. Heat 1 takes place on 13th and 14th October, Heat 2 on 10th and 11th of November and Heat 3 is the weekend of the 24th and 25th November. The tickets go on sale on the 21st July. I went to Heat 2 last year and had a blast, so I'll definitely be returning. I just need to get the football fixtures to make sure there is no conflict with the Newcastle matches and I'm good to go.

I'll need to get saving too, as I'll take the opportunity to stock up on Forgeworld goodies and dodge the postage costs on the Chaos Renegade Militia (RCM) for my next army. First things first, though, I need to finish the Blood Angels I plan to use and the codex hasn't even been released yet!

Forgeworld have trailed a few new models recently. Most relevant to me is the Enforcer. This is the first of the RCM models I've not been immediately impressed by - the skull imagery being so prominent. Maybe it's because of his rules - I believe they are the equivalent of Commissars in the Imperial Guard. In fact, rumours suggest that the Renegade list is virtually the same as the regular Imperial Guard codex. Meh.

Other models are the Malcador, kind of a stretch Leman Russ and Imperial trenches. They also posted some new pages from the Siege of Vraks - all the more annoying because my copy hasn't arrived yet. Grrr.

There was some good news over on the Warhammer Forum as Gav Thorpe let everyone in on Games Workshop's plan for FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions). Here is his initial post:


In a recent thread I promised to speak to Alessio and Jerv regarding FAQs. I have now done so and have a clearer idea where we now are.

Traditionally the FAQ was the responsibility of a book's author. However, with some books' developers departing GW before the books were released this system obviously wasn't going to work. Alessio shouldered the responsibility, but simple time pressures (such as writing and developing the new Warhammer, amongst other things) seriously cut into the time available. Everybody involved is aware that the current situation is less than ideal, so we've recently changed the way the FAQs are collated, and as far as I know the schedule to catch up is currently being worked out. With luck* we'll able to put on a bit of a 'blitz' to get everything up to date. Speaking to Jervis and Alessio, who are the main engines behind the FAQs in the Studio, once this is achieved we should be able to provide a much more timely FAQ service in the near future.



*Or failing that, some planning Cool

Three pages of comments follow in the thread.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

OPINION - On Luck. Introduction

Lucky players seem to pick the best army list for any given game, get the perfect dice rolls just as they need them and have the right models in the right place at the right time. Their success is not down to them working particularly hard, being amazingly talented or exceptionally intelligent. Instead, they are watched over by lady luck. They always get the good luck while you always get the bad.

You always seem to come up against the army that can best defeat yours. You get the worst dice rolls and even remember specific games where you rolled that triple one. Your models are always an inch short or just out of range. Now matter how hard you plan and practice, defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory time and again and it's all down to one thing; bad luck.


Over the next few articles I aim to show you that you hold the key to creating your own 'luck.' By changing your gaming habits you can understand, control and increase good fortune and using these tips you can revolutionise your games.

I will post five more articles in total.
  1. How to maximise your opportunities by maintaining a strong network of luck and being open to new experiences.
  2. Why you should listen to your intuition and hunches (math-hammer can't help you in every situation).
  3. Why you should expect good fortune with the key being to persevere.
  4. How you can take constructive steps to turn bad luck into good luck.
  5. A summary and round-up of the main ideas in these articles.
If you have any anecdotes relating to good or bad luck please get in touch - I may be able to use them in the articles themselves.

Monday, June 4, 2007

REVIEW: Tales from the Dark Millennium

Tales from the Dark Millennium. Edited by Marc Gascoigne and Christian Dunn. Approximately 250 pages.

This is a collection of 8 Warhammer 40,000 short stories set in the Pyrus sector, based upon the setting of Sabertooth Games' Dark Millennium collectable card game. I'll run through the stories one by one and then give my overall score at the end.
  1. The Falls of Marakross by Steve Parker. The Dark Angels hunt one of the Fallen but are hampered by an Inquisitor who is trying to uncover the Dark Angels secret. Packed with incident and manages to convincingly convey the Dark Angels dilemma of following the Emperor and hiding their secret.
  2. Vindicare by CS Goto. A vindicare assassin patiently waits for the resolution of an Eldar attack so she can fire one decisive bullet. This unsatisfying short short feels like an extended colour text from a codex.
  3. The Prisoner by Graham McNeill. Erebus of the Word Bearers allows himself to be captured in order to lure an Inquisitor to him. Excellent setting, good characters and a solid read as usual from Graham.
  4. The Invitation by Dan Abnett. Sisters of Battle hunt a corrupted sister. An odd tone and unexpected ending make this feel like an experimental piece from Mr Abnett.
  5. A Balance of Faith by Darren-Jon Ashmore. A sister-hospitaller has a crisis of faith during a gruelling siege. An interesting take on the psychology and motivations of Imperial servants facing impossible odds.
  6. Gate of Souls by Mike Lee. Erebus uncovers a Chaos monolith in the face of stiff opposition from the Inquisition. Reads like a write-up of a battle report.
  7. Fates Masters, Destiny's Servants by Matt Keefe. Ultramarines accidentally travel back through time and continually choose to fulfil their duty despite becoming trapped forever. Builds up some suspense but I'm not sure this type of time-travel caper belongs in the 40k universe.
  8. Tears of Blood by CS Goto. An Eldar child seer becomes embroiled in craftworld politics. This opaque story feels like a segment from an ongoing narrative and is therefore confusing and disappointing.
This is a worthwhile collection of stories but hardly essential reading. I suppose there may be added value to the book if you are familiar with the background to the CCG, but I'm not. I've therefore reviewed the stories as they present themselves, which is surely how most readers will encounter them.

The strongest contribution is by Graham McNeill, mainly due to the vivid setting, while the weakest are by CS Goto and Matt Keefe.

If you are looking for a batch of 40k short stories then I would recommend Let the Galaxy Burn which is much better value for money than this (it contains 38 short stories), but if you have already exhausted that anthology then you could do worse than dip into this collection.

Overall, I'd give this book 5 out of 10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling