Monday, November 29, 2010

Codex: Death Guard

The latest Chaos Space Marines codex left a bad taste in the mouths of many Chaos players, because it took way the ability to play cult armies in a consistent fashion. For example, an army of Plague Marines cannot be lead by a Chaos Lord with Feel No Pain; power armoured troops taken as Elite or Heavy Support are inferior to the basic troop selection, missing Feel No Pain and blight grenades. It's frustrating to have to deal with all these differences during a game. It makes it harder to immerse yourself in the game because you have to play an army that doesn't properly reflect the fluff.

Last year a group of us on WargamerAU started talking about how a Death Guard Codex could be created. What follows is the codex that I suggested, with a couple of tweaks. So thanks to the other people contributing to those threads, some of their ideas are included within.

I'll write a follow up post later this week to explain my design decisions...

Codex: Death Guard
by Plague Marine
  • Requires Codex: Chaos Space Marines
  • Rules for Plague Zombies taken from the Apocalypse Plague of Zombies data sheet.
  • Rules for Plague Bearers and Great Unclean One taken from Codex: Chaos Daemons.

The Death Guard are the diseased sons of Nurgle. They are the masters of infantry tactics and resilience, building their constitution with a diet of poisons. There is no force more stoic in the face of danger than these once-proud marines, now infected with the blessings of the Chaos god Nurgle. Their decaying armour and equipment is held together by pestilent growth and daemons of the warp.

From what we know of the Death Guard they are split into two major known forces. The majority serve their Daemon Prince - and Primarch - Mortarian. They occasionally venture forth from the Eye of Terror to cause death and destruction at a planetary scale. There is also the breakaway group that follow Typhus, the Host of the Destroyer Hive. They protect him as he spreads the Zombie Plague that has been claiming whole imperial worlds.


All units use the rules and options for a corresponding entry in Codex: Chaos Space Marines, with the listed exceptions.

Due to the infantry based nature of the Death guard, a fast attack slot is filled for every dedicated transport purchases for the army. See the fast attack section for more information.

For Lesser and Greater Daemons, follow the rules for summoning Daemons as per p61 of Codex: Chaos Space Marines.

Cloud of Flies: The models count as being equipped with offensive and defensive grenades

Plague Sword: a poisoned weapon that always wounds on a 2+.


Death Guard Daemon Prince - 150 pts
Use the rules and options for a Daemon Prince with the following modifications:
  • Mark of Nurgle (+1 Toughness) - included in base cost
  • -1 Initiative
  • Feel No Pain
  • May not take wings
  • May take Cloud of Flies for 10 pts

Death Guard Lord - 125 pts
Use the rules and options for a Chaos Lord with the following modifications:
  • Mark of Nurgle (+1 Toughness) - included in base cost
  • -1 Initiative
  • Feel No Pain
  • Blight grenades (if in power armour)
  • May not take a bike, a jump pack or wings
  • If in power armour, may replace close combat weapon with a plague sword for 10 points
  • If you upgrade to Terminator armour, it only costs 25 pts
  • If in Terminator armour, may replace power sword with plague sword for 5 pts less
  • May take Cloud of Flies for 10 pts

    Death Guard Sorcerer - 135 pts
    Use the rules and options for a Chaos Sorcerer with the following modifications:
    • Mark of Nurgle (+1 Toughness) - included in base cost
    • -1 Initiative
    • Feel No Pain
    • Blight grenades (if in power armour)
    • If you upgrade to Terminator armour, it only costs 10 points
    • May take Cloud of Flies for 10 pts
    • May not take a bike, a jump pack or wings

      0-1 Great Unclean One - 130 pts
      WS6 BS4 S6 T6 W5 I2 A4 Ld10 Sv-
      Unit Type: Monstrous Creature
      Greater Daemon, Fearless, Feel No Pain, Slow and Purposeful, Poison 2+, Cloud of Flies, 4+ invulnerable save

Typhus - 235 pts
      Use the following modifications:
      • Has the Cloud of Flies rule


      Death Guard Chosen - 26 pts each
      Use the rules and options for Plague Marines with the following modifications:
      • The models have Infiltrate
      • +1 Leadership
      • Replace all weapon options with those from the Chaos Space Marine Chosen codex entry
      • Any model with the optiont o take a power sword can instead take a plague sword for 10 points

      Death Guard Terminators - 40 pts each
      Use the rules and options for Chaos Terminators with the following modifications:
      • Mark of Nurgle (+1 T)
      • Feel No Pain
      • -1 Initiative
      • One model may be given a Personal Icon for 5 pts. No other Icons can be purchased
      • Armed with a plague sword rather than a power sword. Any model may replace their plague sword with a power sword for 5 points
      • You may take Cloud of Flies for the unit, at a cost of 5 points per model

      Death Guard Dreadnought - 110 pts each
      Use the rules and options for a Chaos Dreadnought, with the following modifications:
      • Daemonic Possession
      • Crazed roll is replaced by the following:
              1 - Shower of Pus: Does nothing all turn, all models within 6"  take an S3 poison hit.
              2-5 - The player controls the model normally.
              6 - Projectile Vomit: Must move and run towards nearest enemy, then an S3 poison template attack at nearest unit in front arc.


      Plague Marines - 23 pts each
      No rules modified.

      Plaguebearers - 15 pts each
      WS3 BS0 S3 T4(5) W1 I2 A1 Ld10 Sv-
      Unit Type: Infantry
      Unit Size: 5-20
      Weapons: Plague sword (this Daemonic version is only Poison 4+)
      Special Rules: Lesser Daemon, Fearless, Feel No Pain, Slow and Purposeful, Cloud of Flies, 5+ invulnerable save

      Plague Zombies - 5 pts each
      WS2 BS1 S3 T2 W1 I1 A1 Ld10 Sv-
      Unit Type: Infantry
      Unit Size: 10-30
      Weapons: Count as having 2 close combat weapons, that are Poison 4+
      Special Rules: Fearless, Feel No Pain, 5+ invulnerable save

      Lord of the Zombies: When deploying Plague Zombies they must always be placed within the zone 12" from a Death Guard Lord or 18" from Typhus. If entering play from reserves they are deployed in the above zone using the deep strike rules but without scatter - and if no Zombie Lord is on the table they are destroyed. If at the start of the movement phase no model in the Plague Zombie unit is within the deployment radius of a Lord or Typhus, they become Slow and Purposeful.
      Join Us!: At the end of every Assault phase during which the Plague Zombies have fought in close combat, before ‘pile in’ moves, roll a D6 for every casualty caused in the combat (friendly and enemy). On a roll of a 6, they are resurrected as a Plague Zombie – add a model to the Plague Zombie unit. If the Plague Zombies unit was wiped out that turn this rule has no effect. If multiple Plague Zombie units are involved in the same combat, evenly divide the new models between the units (Chaos player’s choice for any odd models).

      Plague Zombies do not count as scoring. Your army must includes Typhus or a Death Guard Lord in order to allow Plague Zombies to be selected. Like Lesser Daemons they do not count towards your Troops allowance, so you may include any number of units in your force if they are allowed.

      Fast Attack

Chaos Rhino - 55 pts
      Use the following modifications:
      • Each Rhino taken as a dedicated transport also fills a fast attack slot.
      • Daemonic Possession (included in base cost)
      • Cannot take Dirge Caster

      Chaos Spawn - 30 pts each

      Heavy Support

      Death Guard Pandemics - 23 pts each

      Use the rules and options for Plague Marines with the following modifications:
      • The models that can take a flamer, melta gun or plasma gun may instead take a lascannon for 35 pts, a missile launcher for 20 pts, an autocannon for 20 pts or a heavy bolter for 15 pts

      Chaos Predator - 90 pts
      Use the following modifications:
      • Must take Daemonic Possession (included in base cost)
      • Cannot take Dirge Caster 

Regurgitator - 165 pts
        Use the rules for the Chaos Vindicator with the following modifications:
        • Must take Daemonic Possession (included in base cost)
        • Replace the Demolisher Cannon with a Bile Cannon (S6 AP3 Ordinance 1 Large Blast). Units wounded by the Bile Cannon cannot take a cover save.

Chaos Land Raider - 240 pts
        Use the following modifications:
        • Must take Daemonic Possession (included in base cost)
        • Cannot take Dirge Caster

        Saturday, November 27, 2010

        Thoughts on Fan Codices

        There seems to be a lot of hate for fan made codices on the net. Apparently they are all overpowered, cheesy and no fun to play against. Well there is some truth to this, but there are plenty of well balanced gems amidst the rough. Fan codices are a great addition to the hobby and help to bring to life whole armies in the 40k fluff that GW has given the short straw. Here in Australia it is common for some of the more well known to be allowed at tournaments - for example the Kroot and Genestealer Cult codices.

        As a bit of an amateur game developer I have a habit of writing my own codex when GW fail to provide. I am looking forward to sharing them with you here. Sadly with the amount of free time I have it is difficult to perform extensive playtesting, so if you do decide to take a codex of mine for a spin please post your experiences as a comment on the post. It will help me and others to learn and improve their unsanctioned 40k gaming experience! I really hope that some of you will. If I get enough feedback then it will be worth my while to format these up into a PDF.

        I had a very clear set of goals in my mind when I go about these projects. Let me document the goals that I will always be striving for whenever I publish alternative 40k rules:
        1. Fluff - produce a list that mirrors the latest published fluff for that army.
        2. Reuse - reuse existing units and conventions where possible, except where these are stupid or inconsistent
        3. Simplicity - don't over design, produce the minimum list of units and options that fulfill the other requirements
        4. Moderate Power - aim to produce army lists that would not produce top tier armies.
        5. Modern - follow the design approach of the latest codices, such adding options to a unit entry rather than a wargear section, and using characters to provide army-wide abilities.

        So there are plenty of fan codices already out there. What am I contributing by adding another unofficial work to those already on the internet? Well what I can guarantee is that I will adhere to the tenets I enumerated above. Especially important to me is keeping things as simple as possible, and erring on the side of a higher points cost. I just want to be able to play with the army in question, not beat Space Wolves! So if this sounds ideal to you then you might find a use for my produce.

        Coming up... Codex Death Guard

        Thursday, November 25, 2010

        Duplicating Units

        Duplication (or spamming) is when a player selects the exact same units multiple times, usually with identical options and model counts for each unit. This is a practice that polarises the 40k community. On the one side are those that hate it with a passion - every unit in their army is unique, with it's own strengths, weaknesses and role on tue battlefield. On the other side are players who cannot seem to build a list that has two different units in an FOC category. I am going to look into why spamming is so popular, and suggest some mitigation strategies that spammers could employ to help shrink the gulf.

        Why duplicate? There are three reasons I can think of. The first is that some units are just plain better than others. Competitive players will want to maximise the value they get from each point spent, so they gravitate towards the optimal units in each FOC category. The second reason is redundancy. When  something is vital to your battle plan, and you only have one, you can bet that your opponent is going to wipe it off the table first thing. You gotta have a backup! The third is fluff. Throughout history most armies are made up of similarly equipped units. Tank platoons usually consist of 3 identical tanks. If I want to play a fluffy Orc Horde army, I should be taking 6 squads of 30 boys.

        There are people that complain that duplication is unfluffy. Don't worry about them, they are probably on the kind of drugs that I can never convince my doctor to prescribe. They are confusing fluff with fun... unless you are spamming something that is rare in the fluff of course.

        What about the opposing argument that by taking a variety of units, each tailored to be strong against a certain type of enemy unit, you can maneuver so that your units engage with an optimal opponent? The biggest problem with this approach in 40k is that your opponent can direct all their long range fire against just about any unit they like. It's called target priority - select the unit that is the biggest threat and take it out, then move on. In a game with little shooting this tactic becomes more viable, because you can protect the units that are optimal for the current opponent. If you play 40k with large amounts of line-of-sight blocking terrain then you may also find it easier to protect the better units.

        Lets try an example to illustrate the point. Let's say that I have two land speeders in my army - one Typhoon with 2 missile launchers, the other with multi-melta and heavy flamer. Now let's say my opponent is fielding a dual Land Raider list. He will greatly fear that mobile multi-melta, so it will be the target of all sorts of long-ranged firepower until it is just a smoking heap of terrain. Now all I can do is ping at the raider with my ineffectual krak missiles. Now imagine that I had taken 2 Typhoons. Again you might take out one, and the other would ping. I'm no worse off. Finally, what if I had taken two multi-melta speeders? Then I would still have one left, which could very well turn your land raider into slag. By taking duplicate units you have a better chance of the right unit surviving to do the job. Sure, double Typhoons wouldn't help me here - but what about against Razorback spam?

        The most commonly hated duplication is when you take identical units with identical options. This is also known as a "cookie cutter" list, because you design the unit once and then "cut out" a bunch of identical copies. Usually the options are optimal for the unit and current meta-game - like 10 veteran IG with 3 melta guns and an auto-cannon in a chimera. This is often a real turn off to the casual opponent, because it make the game more boring! It's the same unit they have faced versus virtually every IG opponent. "Come on", they cry in despair, "play something interesting!". This is important - the best opponents will give you a game that is both challenging and fun!

        But the very fact that this identical unit has been encountered in numerous games can also be it's undoing. It means that it is likely that your opponent is experienced at fighting the spam unit, and knows it's capabilities and weaknesses well. You lose any element of surprise or misdirection. Changing things up can cause your opponent to make instinctive decisions that are no longer optimal, given the unorthodox armament of your unit.

        So what can you do to tone down the spam and make your army friendlier to play against? Well one option is to change the options of each unit enough to make them recognisably different, but without changing their role. Switch a missile launcher for a lascannon in one of your tactical squads. Take a twin-linked lascannon on one of your rifleman dreads. There are plenty of options out there that aren't bad, try one on each of your spammed units and see. This has the interesting side-effect of making it harder for your opponent to remember the capabilities of each unit. At least with duplicate units you make life easier for the opponent in this department. Oh well you can't have it both ways can you!

        The more drastic step is to change the units you are taking. Change a Predator Destructor to a Thunderfire Cannon. Take a squad of twin-linked flamer Crisis Suits, rather than another plasma/missile pod spam unit. You are now making your list recognisably weaker, as I have already explained. There are ways to minimise this however. You look for different units that have similar characteristics. For example a Predator Annihilator (no sponsons) and a Vindicator have similar anti-tank capability (within 30") and armour. Of course, the Vindicator is the superior choice, but you have to move away from an optimal list to reduce duplication.

        The second way you can mitigate the risk of taking unduplicated units is to rely on them getting one turn to act before your opponent can wipe them off the table. Against most opponents you have a 50% chance of going first, and this chance might be enough to justify the inclusion of something like a Thunderfire Cannon. With one round of shooting it can cause some serious damage to an Ork horde, basically justifying its inclusion. Alternatively, by placing a unit in reserve you are guaranteeing one turn of fire - or hopefully an assault for outflanking units (or Vanguard Veterans).

        Well that's all I have to say on the subject for now. Personally I am quite happy to play with or against duplicated units - probably because i get most of my enjoyment from the strategy of 40k. Hope this has been thought provoking to some degree.

        Monday, November 22, 2010

        New 40k Rulebook FAQ Summary

        If you didn't know, a new FAQ has been released for the 40k core rulebook. Oh no, have Games Workshop screwed it up? Has one army suddenly become overpowered? Did they answer any questions that were frequently asked? Well for all the lazy people out there I will now give you a summary of the changes that seem important.

        Q: Who gets a cover save when two units are intermingled? (p21)
        A: The unit with the model closest to the enemy that is firing does not have a cover save.

        This is a great ruling, the "my units get cover from each other" defense is no longer usable. Not that I have ever seen this locally, but apparently it is a common occurrence in Europe? Of course, this just points out how stupid it is that units give each other cover in the first place.

        Q: If a unit of multiple wound models has already suffered a wound, must the next wound taken be allocated to a model armed the same or can it be allocated to a differently armed model? (p26)
        A: It can be allocated to a differently armed model. Note that this can potentially leave multiple differently armed models wounded at the same time.

        Damn it I wish that this had been ruled the other way! I got all excited when I read the question. But the answer is of course as it is already played. Wound allocation flaws are one of the major fails of 5th edition.

        Q: When a model that can move outside of the Movement phase, for example jet pack infantry, is falling back, can it use this move? (page 45)
        A: Yes, though it must follow the Fall Back! rules to determine the direction it will move in.

        So Warp Spiders can't teleport forwards any more when running off the board! Sensible.

        Q: An Independent Character attached to a unit that is reacting to being assaulted, or making a pile-in move, must move before other friendly models to attempt to get in base contact with an enemy. What happens if the Independent Character is blocked from getting to enemy models by friendly models around him? (p49)
        A: If it is possible to move friendly models out of the way to make space for the Independent Character then they must move first. Followed by the Independent Character and finally the rest of the unit can move. If the Independent Character is still unable to make it into base contact he must move as close to the enemy as possible.

        Wow, that came out of nowhere! This is good, you don't have to worry so much about the placement of ICs before assaulting. They will usually get to grips with the enemy now.

        Q: In a multiple combat involving opposing vehicles (except walkers) and non-vehicle units how would a pile  in move work? (p63)
        A: Pile in moves must be used to try and make it into base contact with the non-vehicle units.

        This is an interesting one to bear in mind.

        Q: If a transport vehicle is completely surrounded can a unit inside disembark by moving through the enemy models? (p67)
        A: No. Models that disembark are still subject to the normal movement rules regarding moving through other models as per page 11.

        Right. I assume this does not apply to emergency disembarkation. It was near impossible to deploy a model less than 2" from the vehicle when it was surrounded anyway. I guess now all you need to do is block the exit door, not the area around it.

        Q: Can models moving out of the way of a tank shock after passing their Morale test be forced to move off of  the board if that is the shortest distance to get out from underneath the vehicle? (p68)
        A: No, they must move the shortest distance that also keeps them on the board.

        Oh well. I don't think I ever managed to pull off this maneuver anyway.

        Q: During the first turn of the game does a scout move count as the preceding Movement phase when working out any saves from shooting, for example the 3+ cover save from turbo-boosting, and the to hit rolls in combat against vehicles? (p76)
        A: Yes.

        Damn those Vendettas!

        Q: When a vehicle is destroyed by a Destroyed – Explodes! result on the Vehicle Damage table you replace the vehicle with a similar sized area of difficult ground. What, if any, cover save does this area of difficult ground confer? (p61)
        A: It will confer a 4+ cover save to any eligible unit.

        Really? This doesn't explain anything GW. What I want to know is does the area of difficult ground count as area terrain? If it doesn't, then what does a model have to do to be "elligible"?

        Q: If only some of the models in a unit have the Stealth special rule, does the whole unit benefit from the +1 cover save? (p76)
        A: Yes. In effect the ones with the Stealth special ruleensure their colleagues also find good places to hide.

        Well that is stupid. At first I couldn't think of anyone this applies to, but apparently Space Wolf characters can take a saga that gives them stealth. So now we have Fenrisian Wolves with a 3+ cover save? Wow the puppies really needed that boost GW.

        Well that's all folks, not really very much to digest. It looks like there are roughly 50 Qs and As in the document - which you can check out here. Most of them however aren't questions that I have ever seen a serious dispute over.

        Wednesday, November 17, 2010

        Tau Fire Warriors and Devilfish

        The Fire Warrior squad lies at the heart of every Tau army. Not because they are an amazing unit however - its just that you are forced to take at least one squad in every force! There are only a few units in 40K that are completely compulsory for an army - Tau Commanders, The Emperor's Champion and Necron Warriors is all else that springs to mind. This compulsory choice means that no Tau general can become competent without mastering the way of Fire.


        A squad of Fire Warriors consists of 6 to 12 Shas'la - the ubiquitous troops of the Tau Empire. If you ante up the points you can upgrade one Fire Warrior to a Shas'ui, and he gets a bonus +1 Leadership... oh yeah and an extra Attack (at Initiative and Weapon Skill 2!). The additional Leadership of the 'el is most valuable in a larger unit.

        Let's compare the stats of the Tau with the humble imperial guardsman. Firstly the Tau have a measly Weapon Skill 2, and Initiative 2, which leads to them getting consistently slaughtered in close combat, even by a humble guard squad. Their only defence is their 4+ armor save. In contrast to a troops like the veteran guardsman in carapace armour, who has a better Ballistic Skill, the Fire Warrior has among the weakest stats of any basic troop in the game.

        Thats it. Fire Warriors don't get any special abilities or fluffy rules. Presumably because they don't need them?

        Weapon Options

        So what do Fire Warriors have that guardsmen don't? A very nasty Rapid Fire gun called a Plasma Rifle. This weapon is Strength and AP 5, and has an amazing 30" range. Make sure you understand how the Rapid Fire rules work - the distance to the target required to activate the move and shoot twice ability is always 12", even when the weapons total range is more. Pulse rifles can cause a lot of casualties with a bit of luck; but they are hampered in effectiveness by the squads low Ballistic Skill, and the preponderance of cover in 5th edition.

        A couple of markerlight hits utilised to cause 24 S5 shots to hit on 2s can be a devastating combo - but never forget that those same 'lights could also be used to drop your opponents cover save or Leadership. With 2 markerlight hits against an enemy in cover, you are statistically better off to use one 'light to get +1 BS and the other for -1 cover save.

        Sometimes it might be easy for you to do enough wounds to force a Leadership test on an enemy unit that you urgently need to remove from the battle (and is not Fearless). In thise case, it could possibly be a better use of those markerlight hits to modify the ensuing Leadership test.

        The Pulse Carbine is the humble cousin of the Pule Rifle. It shares the same Strength 5 but trades in 30" Rapid Fire for 18" Assault 1 Pinning.  Once less shot when within 12" of the target, but you can still assault - like that matters!

        Pinning has so much promise - the chance of basically stunning an infantry unit for a round, like it was a vehicle.  This could easily cause a failed charge, or leave any unit that dared stray out of cover as a sitting duck to any counterattack. Unfortunately pinning in my experience is one of those abilities that you can take or leave. First you have to find a unit that is not Fearless - and Leadership tests are rarely failed anyway. It does combine extremely well with Marklight hits used to reduce Leadership.

        The true strength of the Pulse Carbine is that it allows the Fire Warrior to move out of assault range of its target unit and still shoot effectively. The ability to pin the assaulting unit synergises brilliantly with the overwhelming fire power of the rest of the Tau army. Any unit pinned in the Tau firing lanes is in big trouble.

        Tragically Fire Warriors are given no options for heavy or special weapons - it appears that they are forced to shoot down approaching Rhinos with their pulse rifles - they do glance on 6s after all! This is a big issue as it makes the unit ineffective against a large chunk of some armies.

        Other Equipment

        Being a pushover in close combat is not necessarily a bad thing in 40k. If they are attacked by a close combat unit, their big fear will be wiping the Fire Warriors out in one round of combat, leaving them stranded in the open ready to get blasted off the table by the Tau players firebase. This is why you should never take photon grenades, they help your opponent by minimizing their attacks, giving them a better chance of staying in combat that extra turn. Any points spent improving the Fire Warrior's melée ability are points wasted.

        EMP grenades however are a more interesting option. They are actually not a bad weapon, glancing on a 4 or 5 and pinning on a 6 - once they hit of course.  Awesome against Land Raiders that haven't moved - but how are you going to get close enough to a Land Raider to use them? So they are situational only and don't synergise well with the unit's other activities.

        The Shas'ui is the only squad member to access to the following upgrades. The bonding knife lets you rally when under half strength. useful when a fleeing unit rallies to return to an objective or not give away a kill point - but only with larger squads. The Shas'ui can take a markerlight for a good price - and then the hard-wired target lock becomes an option, allowing the valuable markerlight to be fired at the optimal target. Don't forget though that the markerlight is a heavy weapon - so you cant move the unit and fire effectively. At least he still has his pulse weapon for these situations.

        Finally you have the option to buy drones, but I do not think they are worth it in a cheap unit like Fire Warriors. Drones are fragile because they are killed instantly if their controller dies. I'll go into more detail about drone options when I post my review of the Crisis Suits.


        Fire Warriors on the table seem to have a target painted on their armour. Against shooting they have Toughness 3 and a 4+ save that everyone gets from cover anyway, and a low Leadership of 7 or 8. In CC they just die. Putting them in a Devilfish is the answer. It immediately provides them the protection of armour 12, and 11 on the side. Cough up for the 5 point disruption pod upgrade and suddenly you have a troop carrier that takes its cover save where ever it goes - at least until the opponent gets in to melta range. This is awesome, and makes the price of the Devilfish actually worthwhile.

        There are two levels of upgrade for the basic Devilfish descriped above. The first is to buy a multi-tracker, so that you can shoot one weapon when moving at cruising speed. As the gun drones can fire if any of your weapons can, this means you can fire 5 S5 shots (with 2 pinning) whilst moving 12" - actually quite good! The second level of upgrade is, in addition to the multi-tracker, trade the gun drones in for a smart missile system and targetting array. The main advantage of this configuration is that you no longer give up an additional point for the gun drones - but at a considerable points cost. I am not convinced I must admit. With 7 S5 shots the targetting array definately becomes worth the points, but now you are paying alot

        Example Units

        Score from Reserve (145)
        6 Fire Warriors with pulse carbines
        Devilfish with disruption pod
        A cheap unit in a Devilfish, this is the most efficient way to run a Fire Warrior squad. Avoiding upgrades keeps the unit cheap.  The purpose of this squad varies depending on the mission type. In objective missions, they start in reserve and come on from your table edge, then move forward to hold objectives as required. In Annihilation, they start in reserve, then come on the board as far away as possible from anything dangerous - and stay there! Six plasma rifles won't do much, but the the slight chance to pin from the carbine could be enough to save the game. I have avoided the multi-tracker because they should be in reserves or away from the action most of the time.

        Rapid Response (240)
        12 Fire Warriors
        Devilfish with disruption pod, multi-tracker
        The idea is to take a bunch of rapid firing S5 and drop them off where ever there are infantry models. Combines with a couple of marker light hits, they can cripple a unit of light infantry and even kill a few Space Marines. The Devilfish can add noticeably to to this weight of fire, even after moving 12" to drop them off.

        Solid Gunline (150)
        12 Fire Warriors with Shas'ui with bonding knife, markerlight, target lock
        This is what you get when you invest some points into a Fire Warrior unit. This unit is designed to sit in the safety of your back field and lob pulse rifle shots at enemy foot troops or low armour vehicles. The Shas'ui is a good purchase here as his Leadership 8 makes a big difference to the squad's morale. The bonding knife might stop this expensive unit from running off the board late game, allowing them to attempt to hold an objective or save a kill point. Now that we have spent so much, adding another 15 points to give the Shas'ui a markerlight that he can shoot at whichever unit needs it most is not a bad deal - its just a pity that markerlights are heavy weapons.

        Kroot Alternative (100)
        10 Fire Warriors
        A bit more pricey than Kroot, but perfect for a Fire Warrior themed army. At least they have little chance of surviving their opponents charge, leaving the victorious unit desperately consolidating towards the nearest cover. The purpose of this unit is to provide a screen in front of the firebase of your army - and shoot at anything that makes itself a target. I have gone for 10 models so they can form a considerable road block to any advance, and its a good number for moral checks (need 3 casualties to force a check, need 6 dead to flee off the board).

        Saturday, November 13, 2010

        40k Podcast Review

        I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts as I commute to work by bike or train every day, selected from a mix of gaming, science and parenting subjects. It's a special treat to find a 40k podcast run by a likeable group of people, but that stays on topic and is full of good advice and interesting stories. The following list gives a brief review of podcasts that I have subscribed to (at least for some time).

        Before I start, I'd like to list briefly what I look for in a podcast:
        • clever and insightful advice that helps me with my game
        • advanced hobby tips
        • inspirational battle reports and hobby project discussions
        • a good variety of opinions and playstyles
        • respect for other people
        • all 40k all the time!
        Podcasts I Like

        The Battlezone (link)

        Hosted by Blitz and The Professor, these guys really love their 40k! They talk about the games they play and small tournaments that they organise. Both hosts come across as very friendly with a great sense of humour. They will also include reviews of other games from time to time, but don't worry - this is definately a 40k focussed podcast. They also talk a lot about the hobby side, providing guides on different conversion and scratch hold techniques.

        The Independent Characters (link)

        This is a pure 40k podcast hosted by Karl and Geoff. They have a great easygoing manner - I kind of get these guys confused with The Battlezone! These guys focus on the fun side of the hobby, playing armies that are thematic. They have a contagious enthusiasm and seem to throw themselves into their hobby. They do a lot to get involved in their local community, but also seem to play a lot of games at home - I think one of them has four tables in his house! They also have their own forum which I have not frequented but is probably worth checking out.

        These guys have recently become the official podcasters of Adepticon! They will be broadcasting interviews and updates from what is the biggest 40k event in the US. They will also be video streaming some of the bigger games from the top tables! I'm looking forward to this.

        Deepstrike Radio (link)

        A new predominately Australian podcast, with an American host thrown in to mix it up. They have only done a couple of podcasts so far, and are still figuring out their style. They go into a lot of the fluff and are focussed on building fluffy lists. I have enjoyed part of the show, and been annoyed by a few things too - all the Aussie jokes for one are just boring. They have had a few technical difficulties that I am sure they will figure out.

        With a new podcast, if you can see any potential at all, it is important that you give them a go for at least four or five episodes. Podcasting is difficult and they will have a lot to learn!

        40k Basement (link)

        Unfortunately the podcast has ended due to a disagreement between the hosts. Apparently some of them are moving on to producing a video podcast. However it is definately worth downloading the "back issues" whilst they are still available.

        This is definitely not PG, but the hosts are very funny and it was one I always looked forward to seen downloading in iTunes. They love the hobby and have a lot of experience between them. They are GW fan boys but remain levelheaded and inciteful.

        This podcast includes my favorite episode ever - the "Army in a Weekend". Over the course of 54 hours the boys each build a 40k army to a tabletop standard, starting with all models new-in-box! They check in every six hours and update us with what's going on, and get very little (if any) sleep over the whole weekend. Absolutely hilarious.

        World's End Radio (link)

        An Australian Podcast coming out of Perth, Western Australia (where I grew up!). The two hosts, Luke and JJ, are funny guys with their own idiosyncrasies (love the puns!). This monthly podcast covers a lot of different games systems - mainly 40k, Fantasy and Blood Bowl, but also Epic, Malifaux and Lord of the Rings.

        These guys buy a lot of models, and have in-depth knowledge of every part of the Games Workshop hobby. They have a competitive approach to the games - they play to win! Expect lots of good advice about what models are the business and how to improve your hobby skills.

        The 11th Company (link)

        This is my favorite 40k podcast, delivered each Monday in time for my morning jog! Neil is the driving force behind this and he does a superb job, doling out knowledge and perfectly analyzing units and game situations without getting caught up in the hype. Neil plays Orks to win without being at all aggressive or tense. He would be an awesome opponent to play against - you know that you would get a very challenging and fun game.

        Neil is assisted admirably by Pat, who is apparently a very lucky Daemon player. Pat interviews 40k internet celebrities and provides a more casual viewpoint. There is actually a crew of about six people involved in the podcast. They are apparently the only 40k players in their area so they must be very used to each others play styles!

        Since it began the 11th Company has been packed full of content, and done in a very professional manner with great sound quality. Check it out!

        The Overlords (link)

        The official podcast of the Overlords 40k club in Daginham East London. At first I was put off by the bad sound quality and lack of substantial content. I unsubscribed but came back for the Dan Abnett interview only to discover that they had improved dramatically. This is fast becoming one of my favourites - the hosts are all relaxed and funny with their own quirks. They often have guests on too.

        These guys are the real fluff gamer deal, totally uninterested on building a list from a competitive viewpoint. This is the polar opposite of the 11th company. Bizarrely, Pat from the 11th Company is a regular guest on the show - and he fits in well.

        They focus on their gaming experiences, news, running the club and fluff. They have a hilarious segment where someone nominates something they think should be dropped from 40k and the rest vote yes or no. There is lots to enjoy here that is not covered by other podcasts - if you are happy to listen at their relaxed pace.

        Not For Me

        Life After the Cover Save (link)

        A newish pure 40k podcast, that lacks in interesting content. They talk about tournaments they have played in and get angry about various opponents at times. These guys aren't very professional, although funny at times they can also take it too far. They think its pretty funny to burp and fart to their hears content! I did find them funny at times but it got old quickly.

        40k Radio (link)

        40k Radio is known as the first 40k podcast (although Dice Like Thunder dispute this!) but shut down this year under controversial circumstances. It has been bought by Romeo of Battlefoam and resurrected under the same name, but with a new group of hosts - who all work at Battlefoam I believe. Romeo is also or of the hosts.

        Basically this is a completely different podcast, though not an ad for Battlefoam per se. They cover all aspects of the 40k hobby but I find them brash, and not really very good at giving advice. They have this exclusive forum that you have to pay a yearly fee to access - which there is no way I am going to do - then talk about stuff on the forum which you can't access. And they seem to have little idea that there is an audience out there that is not in America.

        The Gamers Lounge (link)

        These guys are like the most relaxed gamers you will ever encounter. They are very into the hobby side of gaming, converting all their models and spending a lot of time on the models they paint. They don't really have a good idea of how to play 40k competitively. They both started blogging before the podcast, and have a segment dedicated to blogging tips that has had some good content. I stopped listening once they started getting obsessed by Malifaux, but in truth they were starting to bore me before that anyway.

        Dice like Thunder (link) / The Eternal Warriors (link)

        This podcast recently celebrated its 100th episode, then promptly shut down! However they are starting a new podcast "The Eternal Warriors". I used to love this back in the day when the originator Mack was the lead host. Once he left the rest of the guys didn't manage to keep my interest up. They give good advice at times but often say things that suggest they don't understand the 40k rules as well as I would like. Some of the hosts can be a bit aggressive at times. Still there is a lot of good content here and it is especially worth going through the back episodes whilst they are still available. I like Richard and his laconic style.

        The Eternal Warriors is also going to cover War Machine. I will give it a listen and see if it is more of my style. I do like what Richard talks about most of the time.

        Imperial Vox Cast (link)

        I think this started out well, but the quailty of content gradually deteriorated. Its hosted by a group of four or so guys, although most weeks not all of them are avaialble. I remember enjoying the earlier episodes as they went through each codex and gave their analysis. At some point I realised that I just wasn't getting much use out of their commentary, and found some of their aggressive posturing very offputting. Its a pity as it showed promise early on.

        Monday, November 8, 2010

        Librarian Terminator Mech - List Evolution (Part 2)

        See here for Part 1. The list I came up with is reprinted here;

        Libby Termi Mech (1500
        Librarian - null zone, gate of infinity 100
        10 Terminators - 2 cyclone, 1 chainfist 465
        Dreadnought - multi-melta, heavy flamer 115
        Dreadnought - assault cannon, missile launcher 125
        2 x 10 Tactical Marines - melta, combi-melta, missile launcher, rhino 220
        3 x Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters 255

        I played three games with the Libby Termi Mech list. Once against mech guard, once against Necrons, and once against Tau. The list seems to be pretty robust, because in none of the games I played did it end up getting smashed. I won, lost and drew one game each.

        Rather that go into the individual games, I'll just tell you my first impression of the units within the list.

        The Librarian was pretty much a waste of points. Null Zone is very situational (I used it once against a Tau shield drone) and apparently Gate of Infinity is too. Every time I saw an opportunity to use it I ended up chickening out because it was just too dangerous. Try deep striking 10 Terminators in front of a Leman Russ Exterminator! That's five plasma cannons of scary AP2. It did let me slaughter a unit of Tau Broadsides but my opponent was unlucky with his positioning - and shooting! He just didn't add anything to the Terminator squad. And he's not very good in close combat.

        The 10 Terminators were good. They were robust; good shooting and able to threaten in close combat when required. The cyclone missile launchers were great against Necron Destroyers and Valkyries. Terminators do take their fare share of fire and were often down to only a couple left by the end of the game. I need to move them foward and play them more aggressively.

        The Dreadnaughts were good but not fantastic. Having to move them forward on turn 1 really reduces my firepower in that vital first salvo. I rarely got to use the power fists, and in close combat I usually miss with everything anyway. It was nice to be able to threaten a monolith with Strength 10 though.

        Half the time the tactical marine models didn't hit the table top, as they stayed snug and warm in their protective Rhino. I didn't get to use their meltas much because I was holding them back, safe out of trouble, to shoot missiles at the enemy. Getting out of the transport didn't really help at any point. Thats why my 40k motto is "stay in the rhino".

        The Predator Destructors were good, but by no means overpowered. They were hard kill but not overly so. They did a good enough job suppressing vehicles and killing a few models consistently. God if only heavy bolters were still defensive weapons. Here's hoping for that in 6th edition ;)

        So I wanted to make some changes, and thats when I had the thought - put Lysander in with the terminator unit. Lysander has some great rules. Eternal Warrior plus storm shield means that he can always be used to absorb a low-AP shot that comes towards the unit - this is the bane of shooty Terminators. Lysander's Bolter Drill rule goes nicely with the Terminator's storm bolter, although this is only a minor consideration. Of course, finding the extra 100 points for the tough guy is going to require me to make some major changes to the list.

        Lysander Termi Mech (1500)
        Lysander 200
        5 Terminators - 1 cyclone, 1 chainfist 235
        2 x Dreadnought - 2 twin-linked autocannons 250
        2 x 10 Tactical Marines - flamer, multi-melta, rhino, dozer blade 420
        2 x Land Speeder - multi-melta, heavy flamer 140
        3 x Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters 255

        The only space I could see to squeeze out the extra 100 points I needed was the large Terminator squad.  Lysander will help the smaller squad stay survivable, and the points freed allowed me to purchase some much needed mobile melta in the form of 2 Land Speeders. I just got two in the mail, both unassembled, for a great price. They were easier to build than I had been led to believe by the internet, although I did need to get the rubber bands out to hold it in the correct shape whilst drying. Anyway I am looking forward to using them, they might be awesome!

        I bit the bullet and changed the dreads to the Rifleman pattern that is so popular these days - two twin-linked autocannons. This complements the Predators nicely. I am unsure if I would be better off leaving a close combat weapon on one of the Dreads, so that it can provide close combat support in the the back field. At the moment I am going to see how they go with just the plain Strength 6 attacks.

        So I need to decide how I am going to convert the dreads. Probably using Imperial Guard heavy weapon autocannons is the easiest solution. I already have 1 - just need another seven!

        The final change I made was to the Tactical Marines, switching them to flamer/multi-melta. Not only does this save points whilst keeping the melta threat, it allows the Tactical squad to do something useful on the field. Their role will be to move forward on turn 1 and pop smoke. They will then be hindering my opponents progress through the middle of the battlefield, with a 12" thread range for the multi-melta's double dice. This helps keep the heat away from my gunline backfield.

        Sunday, November 7, 2010

        Painting my 2nd ed Tanks

        I am methodically working through painting an addition six Rhino chassis that I have picked up through various second hand purchases on wargamerau. I probably only spend a couple of hours a week on them if I am lucky, so it is taking me a while - but they are progressing at a regular pace.

        At this stage I have done all the base colours, which to me is the hardest part of any project. Washes and highlights take up far less time because you are dealing with a lot less paint at these stages. I have started applying Badab Black to provide shading across the models. This will be followed by 2 layers of lighter blue (they are base coated in Necron Abyss) and hand painting the fists logo - something I had done on every one of my models in this army.

        Some of you may never have seen the old models for Space Marine vehicles. Well I present the Vindicator, Whirlwind and Predator. The models certainly look different to their modern equivalents!

        I am especially fond of the Vindicator and would love to have two more for my collection. It is my firm believe that Vindicators should always travel in threes on the battlefield. Notice how I have replaced the twin-linked bolters that came with these old models with terminator storm bolters.

        The Whirlwind model is OK but has too many metal studs for me to paint! This one looks like it has suffered some battle damage from a previous owner.

        Now I have 3 Dakka Predators - each armed with an autocannon and two heavy bolters. That's some serious firepower!

        Saturday, November 6, 2010

        Librarian Terminator Mech - List Evolution (Part 1)

        After playing Tau pretty much non-stop for near a year now, I have finally put them away for a rest. Instead I have been fielding a Space Marine army drawn from my Apocalyse sized Crimson Fists force. Its over 4500 points now, mostly painted. When I last played marines last I found it difficult to win with them, but I am a much better player now than I was then. I've been paying attention and reading up on some of the great blogs that are out there.

        I managed to get my hands on three cheap second-hand predators, the old second ed models. I use the old Rhino chasis for my entire Crimson Fists army. It's a way of making your spending money stretch so that you can create a large force. I am in the middle of painting up another six tanks at the moment - the army already has 4 completely painted.

        So the new improved marine army I am playing started as a desire to have a go with the Librarian. In fact I had manage to assemble a Terminator Librarian from some old bits I had found in my collection, and wanted to try him out in a game. I actually modelled him with a storm bolter and force weapon before really looking at his rules. I realised that a storm shield was the obvious purchase to make, so I ended up with the task of detatching his storm bolter arm and adding a shield in place (pretty sure I have one somewhere).

        I wanted to combine a Librarian with 3 Predators. Taking 3 Predators meant that I would want to take as much armour as possible, so 2 x 10 man tactical marine squads in Rhinos were the obvious choice of troops to complement this. Looking at the Gate of Infinity power, I thought about the possibility of teleporting 10 terminators to a vital point on the battlefield up to 24" away. It seemed tempting, so I started with a list like this:

        Librarian - terminator armour, storm shield, null zone, gate of infinity 130
        10 Terminators - 2 cyclone, 2 chainfists 470Dreadnought - multi-melta, heavy flamer 115
        Dreadnought - assault cannon, missile launcher 125
        2 x 10 Tactical Marines - melta, combi-melta, missile launcher, rhino 2203  x Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters 255

        The army is a tad light on melta, with only three melta units. I love the firepower of the cyclone missile launchers, and with a squad of 10 you can combat squad them as a tactical option depending on the mission. I usually put the cyclones together in the same combat squad. Basically in the list I tried to maximise the amount of armour and terminator saves. The weapons on the dreadnoughts are chosen because I don't have autocannon arms currently. This is something I need to rectify!

        But damn it that's 1535 points and I'm trying to build a managable 1500 point list here. This is probably the most common sized list I face at the Bunker. What to drop? Well the terminator armour and storm shield on the Librarian was the first to go. That weakened the unit, but everyone has to make compromises at this level. All I had to do then was drop a chainfist and the list was ready for its first outing.

        There were plenty of things I would have liked to add (a drop pod for the multi-melta dread, lascannons on the tactical squads, the Librarian's Terminator armour) but I am happy with the number of vehicle chassis I have squeezed into the list. 7 vehicles plus 10 Terminators doesn't give any easy target priority decisions.

        Libby Termi Mech (1500
        Librarian - null zone, gate of infinity 100
        10 Terminators - 2 cyclone, 1 chainfist 465
        Dreadnought - multi-melta, heavy flamer 115
        Dreadnought - assault cannon, missile launcher 125
        2 x 10 Tactical Marines - melta, combi-melta, missile launcher, rhino 2203  x Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters 255

        So ironically I have dropped the model that was my major motivation for building the force in the first place! Coming up I'll let you know how it performed in its first two outings, and the major changes I am making now that I hope will take it to the next level.

        Thursday, November 4, 2010

        Mech Crimson Fists vs Mech Guard - Mega Battle

        After trying to organise a larger game on the weekend for a while now, the stars finally aligned when Matt and I both got permission last Sunday from our respective partners. After a flurry of text messages we settles on a 3000 point game with 4 slots for each of elites, fast attack and heavy support. Of course as a guard player Matt didn't really need the additional FOC slots - Imperial Guard can squadron just about everything. But my Space Marines would be unable to field a legal 3000 point army the way I am playing them at the moment.

        I pulled out the terminator heavy 1500 list I have been experimenting with the last couple of weeks and started adding things in till all the slots were full, then added a couple of upgrades and Pedro Kantor. It was nice to get Lascannons in my tactical squads, I just can't seem to find the points for that in my 1500 list. I threw in a Whirlwind which I justified with the fact that surely I would be able to pop enough transports to give it something to shoot at. I ended up with the following:

        Librarian - Machine Curse, Gate of Infinity (100)
        Pedro Kantor (175)
        10 Terminators - 2 cyclones, 2 chainfists (470)
        5 Assault Terminators - 3 LC, 2 TH/SS (200)
        Land Raider - multi-melta, extra armour (275)
        Dreadnought - twin-linked lascannon, missile launcher (145) 
        Dreadnought - multi-melta, heavy flamer, drop pod, locator beacon (165)
        10 Tactical Marines - lascannon, melta, combi-melta, rhino (230)
        10 Tactical Marines - lascannon, melta, combi-melta, rhino (230)
        10 Tactical Marines - missile launcher, flamer, rhino (205)
        5 Scouts - missile launcher, bolters, teleport homer, melta-bombs (105)
        4 Bikes, 1 Attack Bike - 2 meltaguns, multi-melta (165)
        Land Speeder multi-melta, typhoon (100)
        Land Speeder multi-melta, typhoon (100)
        Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters (85)
        Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters (85)
        Predator - autocannon, heavy bolters (85)
        Whirlwind (85)

        So we met up at the Battle Bunker (my local games store in Northcote). We decided to play on a 9' x 4' space, a table and a half. We chose to start with Pitch Battle and rolled the table quarters mission - basically I use this on a 3 or 4 instead of the stupid Capture and Control mission in the book. You just treat the quarters as objectives that have to be held as troops that are in the quarter, and can be contested by other units in the quarter. I'll go into alternative missions more in a later post... Anyway with the big table we elected to play with six "quarters".

        Matt rocks the traditional Imperial Guard Chimera/Vendetta spam so I was very lucky to get first turn - despite rolling a 2. We set up as you can see in the pics. I didn't take pictures of the progress of the game because we were too busy trying to get it finished before home time. We ruled that you had to set up at least half of your army in each two thirds of the board - to prevent one flank being too overloaded. On a board of this width the player going second could really focus their firepower on a small part of the enemies forces. However when playing quarters objectives this didn't seem to be as much of a problem, and anyway Imperial Guard armies take up so much room he basically had to deploy across the full width anyway!

        The Righteous View of the Crimson Fists

        I set up with one scoring Rhino in each "quarter". The shooty Terminators were holding the left flank, the center of the board had my Land Raider, 1 Predator, Whirlwind and shooty Dread. The right flank had two preds and the bike unit. Setting up first was nerve-wracking. I had to spread out but make sure that all my units could support each other as required.

        The Traitorous Guard Preparing to Die

        The seize the initiative roll was a tense time for me but I made it through and got to take that precious first turn. 3000 points of guns got ready to fire.

        Well it was lots of fun to play such a large game. I've never played over 2000 points before and must admit I suffered from a little bit of analysis paralysis in the first turn. So many targets to pick from! Luckily it didn't really matter because I didn't seem to do much damage considering - I managed to pop one Chimera and immobilise a single Valkyrie. Luckily Matt couldn't do much better - we could have set up a little closer and pretty much skipped the first round altogether.

        Here are some highlights from the ensuing game:
        • My bloody Whirlwind was unable to reach any of the troops on the board until the 4th turn ... if only they had a 49" range! They finally took out a command squad (minus boss) under some controversy...  
        • Matt not managing to pop a single one of my Rhinos :P
        • My lascannon Dread absorbing half a table's worth of fire and ending up stunned.
        • The multi-melta attack bike being the sole survivor from a torrent of fire directed at the bike squad, only to miss a Leman Russ from 1" in front of the damn thing! 
        • The Assault Terminators with Pedro absorbing a stupendous amount of fire. 
        • Once Pedro was finally killed, the Land Raider charging through terrain in furious anger and turned a Leman Russ to slag.

        Matt conceded at the end of turn four. This gave as a chance to get home at a reasonable hour and keep our significant others happy :) Basically I pulled some very flukey saves which I seem to have a habit of doing. I also completely forgot to deep strike my 2 land speeders. We calculated that the full game, with a little less time spend dithering on my part, should take about four hours for this size of game - with two mechanised armies anyway.

        I hope you have the same good luck with all your cover saves in your next game!