Friday, 15 July 2016

The Horus Heresy - A Tale of Gamers

It's coming! That's right, my gaming group has decided to take the plunge into gaming the the Horus Heresy era, and as a result we've decided to record that for posterity via the medium of my blog.

Now, this isn't your typical Tale of Gamers series if you're familiar with them. The setting lends itself more towards team play, so rather than every player playing everyone else at increasing points levels we'll be looking at doing fun scenarios and multiplayer games, and focusing on the building and painting side of things just as much as the gaming.

With that in mind, I thought I'd intro the players, their legions and then look in a bit more detail at my first thoughts on a list. And yes, this does mean you get the big reveal as to which legion I'll be taking (I'm sure you've all been on the edge of your seat waiting to find out).

Without further ado then, here is the current list of participants, in legion order.

III - Emperor's Children. Meeeeee!
VI - Space Wolves. Ed
VIII - Night Lords. George, master of lightning.
XII - World Eaters. Toby
XIV - Death Guard. Martin
XVIII - Salamanders. Mj
XIX - Raven Guard. Jon
XX - Alpha Legion. Ryan

Mechanicum. Tom

Undecided (Howard) - either Word Bearers or Ultramarines

So in total that gives us ten players - enough for some really fun games and we should certainly be able to keep things going quite nicely even through holidays and real life.

To kick things off, we're going to be looking at 1000pt lists, so fairly small in terms of heresy games. This will let us all build our collections slowly however and will mean that we don't have to spend too much too soon (definitely a bonus with two kids).

The Emperor's Children

My choice was pretty straightforward to be honest, my favourite legion by a mile is the Blood Angels, but with no rules or special units yet that was never going to be an option for me (I like the shiny shiny!). So I had to go with my second choice. Ironically I've never really been that enamoured with them from a 40k perspective, but their 30k counterparts are a very different matter, seeking perfection in all things and that descending into a kind of madness is totally different from the 40k equivalent.

Plus, they wear purple armour, and marines in purple armour just look amazing.

My first task then was to have a look at the different units available and the special rules pertaining to the Emperor's Children themselves to figure out what kind of force I wanted. For this, I relied very heavily on Rob Hill's reviews over on 30kplus40k (ok, what I mean is I kind of fancied doing EC and sort of pestered him into reviewing them first).

Once I got to have a look at the books myself the following things stood out to me about them.

  • They're faster than other marines. Both in terms of movement, and in initiative terms, particularly when they get to charge or are in a challenge.
  • Challenges are their thing, and they will always seek them if possible.
  • Sonic shriekers allow them to reduce their enemies WS.
  • Phoenix power spears allow them to make a devastating alpha strike.
Looking at these benefits, they are all geared towards one thing, getting into combat and not only hitting hard but more importantly hitting first, thus reducing the enemy opportunity to respond.

They then have access to 2 legion specific rites of war. The first is the Maru Skara, which increases run and charge distances on turn 1, and putting 1-3 units into reserve, choosing which turn they arrive on. This also prevents the use of Immobile, Heavy, or Slow and Purposeful units, requires a legion champion and a couple of other limitations that aren't too much of an issue, unless you don't kill the enemy warlord.

The second of these is the third company elite, which makes the Kakophoni a troops choice, and also gives them relentless with their heavy weapons. The drawbacks to this make allies more awkward, but I think the benefits of being able to bring these as your core weapons outweighs the down sides, especially since I don't plan on bringing allies anyway.

On that basis, I decided to go with this as my rite of war, using the standard force organisation chart.

I've mentioned previously that Rob being the totally brilliant guy he is has bought me my first model - and I can reveal now that it's Eidolon! Honestly I was gobsmacked by his generosity when he told me, even telling people at work who have no interest in the hobby about it, and getting the usual glazed look as they started thinking about something else instead.

That pretty much confirmed that I wouldn't be using the Maru Skara yet since there was no way in 1000pts I'd fit both him and a legion champion into a balanced army.

I also wouldn't be able to fit in any of the nice tanks that I'll want to use in later games, so I game him the jump pack option to make sure he'd be mobile enough to see combat. He needed a bodyguard unit though, and I figured another unit built for combat would be what's needed. Step up the Palatine Blades. Also combat-capable I kitted this unit out heavily so that they could take any really nasty challenges Eidolon wants to avoid. Jump packs? Check. Sonic shriekers? Check. Phoenix power spears? Check. I also added melta bombs to the sergeant to deal with vehicles that might be too tough for Eidolon's Hammer. 

As a backup to this, whilst the legion benefits of the EC clearly lean towards combat troops, I decided against diving in with an assault squad, for a couple of reasons. First, they're massively expensive, 250pts for ten guys with no particular special rules, and to get even 5 guys with decent weapons you need to pack in a squad of 20, which knocks the cost up to 400+. 

No, I needed a cheaper and more importantly better value troops unit. Step forward the Kakophoni! With the 3rd Company Elite rite of war, they have an effective range of 42", cause pinning and can generate additional wounds. The only downside is their average AP value but even if a couple of wounds get through then my opponents should be taking extra damage. Two of these units putting out 10 shots each would set me back less than 300pts base, so they were in. I then gave their sergeants a power weapon, artificer armour and meltabombs to ensure I'd got some 2+ saves at the front of the unit and could deal with vehicles if I needed to.

Those two units give me a solid base of fire support, and the Palatine Blades are my reach out and touch unit, so lastly I needed something to fill the void. After looking at various options, I plumped for a Tactical support squad. These guys can't fill your mandatory slots but thanks to the rite of war I'd chosen they didn't need to, so I took a squad of 6 in a rhino, which not only makes them more mobile, but could act as moving cover for the palatine blades. Unfortunately the sergeant in this unit doesn't have access to any real combat specific gear, so instead I gave him a bolter and augury scanner to help deal with units in cover, and the obligatory melta bombs and artificer armour. The rest of the unit then picked up sonic shriekers to make sure I'd have the advantage in any combat I ended up in given my guns short range, and I gave them volkite chargers to ensure that they'd have some serious firepower to lay down, again with the benefit of picking up additional damage over and above their normal shooting.

With a few points spare I added an auxiliary drive to the Rhino to give me a chance of fixing any immobilised result it picks up and keeping up with the palatine blades.

So, those of you with heresy experience, what do you make of the list? Am I going to get pasted in my games, or is this a fairly balanced list with good fire support and a scalpel-sharp point?

Let me know what you think, I'll probably be proxying it in a couple of games before I take it to battle (or commit my spare kidney to buying it all...)

Till next time,