Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Tactical Insight - Taming the Maelstrom

Greetings all - welcome tot he second article in my 'playing the mission' series, and today I have a bit of a treat for you all! In a first on The Burning Eye, today's post is a guest article from someone who I consider to be the 'godfather' of playing the mission - Mike Corr from St Andrews Wargaming! So without further ado - over to Mike.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

8th edition 40k rumours – a burning eye view.

Greetings all! See this thing I'm jumping on? that's a bandwagon right there! So here we go, we've seen some confirmations from GW this past day about what they're looking at for 8th edition, and we know it's going to be within the next year. Here are my thoughts on what's been said, and what I'd like to see happen!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Spotlight on blogging part 10 - Code 40k

Greetings all, time to shine a light on another little corner of the internet today - and this time my light falls on the Code 40k blog.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Tactical Insight - Play the mission

Greetings all, it's been a little while since I last did a tactical insight article, and in replying to a comment elsewhere I was inspired to write a post about playing the mission and sticking to your objectives rather than getting distracted.

I should say at this point that this whole article illustrates one of my favourite things about blogging - a simple comment made in relation to one of my posts has inspired an entire new one - so thank you Mr Williams!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

40k Road to Competence - games 6 and 7

Greetings all - welcome to the next installment of my Road to Competence series, where I look back and critically assess my games with the intention of becoming a better player. I'm getting my teeth into a decent number of games in this series now, and I think I'm starting to see the benefits!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Spotlight on blogging part 9 - Cascadian Grimdark

Greetings all - so after a week off the spotlight returns!

We have a blog that I discovered a while ago this week, and one where the hook that caused me to follow it was actually a sad story!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Hobby update 13/3/17 - Fateweaver!

Morning all, another week passes and more new projects get started on my desk - I really need to try finishing something sometime, haha!

welcome again to my workstation where I let you in on all the little projects I have going on. This week is more detail on my commission work, including a finished Librarian, and work beginning of Fateweaver - the most significant model of my commission service so far.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Golovin 3 - Heartstrike

Chaplain Ezequiel watched as Sergeant Reyes secured himself into the drop pod, the datascreen next to him flaring into cold green life as the pod's systems detected the presence of the squad leader.

"Remember Sergeant" he said, his voice a deep, earthy growl emitting from his skull helm with the authority of a natural born leader "this drop is into the heart of the enemy base of operations. Expect them to be present in force. Establish a beach head with squad Alfredo - they are already on the ground infiltrating the area. Once you and Sergeant Platon are on the ground, Squad Rico and I will follow with Sergeant Edmundo and his men to secure the area. Do not become isolated."
"Aye Sir" Reyes replied, his eyes steel-hard and determined.
 Bowing his head, Reyes lifted his blood-red helm, his symbol of office as much as the banner he carried on his back and the power gauntlet encasing his left hand.  Reverently he placed it on his head, the locking seals snapping shut as the suit established its hermetic seal against the atmosphere outside.

Warning lights flashed, and with a hiss of pneumatics, the doors to the drop pod began to rise. Across the launch bay, the doors to another two pods were lifting in the same way, Sergeants Platon and Camilo preparing their squads for launch too. 

It was time.

Sweeping his cloak around him, Ezequiel left the launch bay and strode into the next chamber, catching instantly the scent of incense and the sacred oils used in the maintenance of the ancient equipment  that dominated the chamber. Six warriors stood ready at its centre, encased in massive suits of armour plate, even more dense than his own. Huge as they were however they were dwarfed by the machinery in the room.

Ezequiel took his place at their centre, tech priests and their acolytes bustling around them, ensuring that everything was prepared for the teleport. Many things could go wrong when hurling your body across the massive gulf of space to materialise again on the surface of a planet, not least of which the re-materialisation in the wrong place could result in brothers becoming one with the planet's surface itself. Ezequiel hated teleportation, but he accepted it was one of the most effective, and certainly disarming, methods of heading into battle. Fast as they were, drop pods could be heard on their approach, and seen should the weather conditions all. The only warning anyone had of an impending teleport assault was the corposant lightning that fizzed in the air fractions of a second before the travelers arrived.

"Launch drop pods" he growled into the vox pickup in his throat.
All he could do now was wait, Sergeant Alfredo would wait until Reyes' force had made planetfall before igniting the beacon he carried allowing the tech adepts to lock on specifically to a single point on the surface. Teleporting was far safer if you already had someone down there signalling where to make planetfall.
"Pods away" came the inhuman response, the tech crew monitoring the launch bay were hard-wired into their systems and had their voices replaced by ship augmetics.
All he could do now was wait, it would take seven minutes for the pods to reach the surface of Golovin,  during which time he would be helpless to affect the conflict about to begin on the planet's surface. Turning to Squad Rico, he began to lead them in prayer to the Emperor to grant them strength in their mission of righteous vengeance.

So, that's your intro to the game, now the question is what did we do and how did we play it?

Well, the mission is one from the Altar of War collections (I still have them on my iPad).

At it's heart, it's a kill points mission, but each HQ choice is worth 3pts, each Elite, Fast Attack or Heavy Support 2pts, and each Troops or Dedicated Transport 1pt.

The Chaos force would set up first, anywhere on the board more than 12" from the edge of the table, and units could be no closer than 6" to each other. My army would arrive on turn 1, either walking on via any of the table edges or deep striking in  - two special rules were in effect, my turn 1 deep strikes would not scatter, and the Chaos forces had move through cover.

This pretty neatly reflects the idea that my force was dropping into the Chaos base - I had the advantage of turn 1 and  the Chaos forces couldn't provide a united front due to the separation requirement, but the downside as ever would be that my army would arrive piecemeal.

The two forces were as follows

Dusk Knights

Chaplain Ezequiel Auspex and melta bombs
Squad Primus Grav gun, grav cannon, imperial space marine, drop pod with locator beacon
Squad Alfredo 5 Scouts with Sergeant, camo cloaks, sniper rifles and teleport homer
Squad Platon 5 Sternguard with 2 grav guns and 3 combi grav, drop pod
Squad Camilo Command squad with apothecary, 4 plasma guns, drop pod
Squad Rico 6 cataphractii terminators with heavy flamer, chain fist, grenade harness
Squad Edmundo 5 vanguard veterans with jump packs, 2 power swords, 2 power axes, relic blade and melta bombs

Alpha Legion

Alpharius Bike, Gift of Mutation, Sigil of Corruption, Drakescale plate, Power Fist, Lightning Claw
The Shadows 10 chosen
The Dust 10 chosen, 4 plasma guns, rhino with combi bolter and dozer blade
The Honoured Few 4 terminators, 3 power fists, 2 chain fists and 5 combi meltas
Brethren of Hades 10 Havocs with 4 autocannons
The punished 2 Spawn
The ruination of Golovin Chaos Bastion
With a bang the drop pod crashed to the ground, the explosive bolts blowing the doors open, the hull booming as they crashed to the ground, smoke wreathing the doorway. Reyes hit the auto release on his harness and the pressure released, the two parts swinging away like gull wings allowing him movement once more. He was first out of the pod, taking several strides from the still steaming structure, the heat of re-entry meaning the pod hissed in the humid atmosphere.

Dropping to one knee, bolter braced against his shoulder, he took stock of his surroundings. They had come to ground on some kind of landing pad, and their targets were right in front of them. Still recovering from the shock of the pod crashing to the ground so close to their position was a squad of alpha legionaries. 

Reyes didn't need to give the order, he just opened fire and the rest of his squad did the same. A streaming fusillade of mass reactive bolts crashed past him into the alpha legion warriors, hurling them from their feet, and sending some crashing from the platform to the ground below.

Off to his right, he heard another pod come to rest, there was so much smoke, even his auto-senses were struggling to make out shapes in the distance. He couldn't mistake the distinctive whine of plasma weapons powering up though - it must have been squad Camilo, and the foom of the discharged plasma guns was followed by a deep crump as their target ceased to exist.

"Chaplain", he voxed into his helmet pickup. "We've made planetfall, and engaged the enemy. Multiple unit strength indicated at present, visibility challenging."
"Sergeant Alfredo, what do you have?" he requested of the sniper scout team who had inserted onto the battlefield some time before and had been observing the Alpha Legion  camp ever since.
"Nothing on my side of the field sir, but this smoke has only just settled, they started generating it just after your drop pods became visible. There are few dedicated structures withing the camp - there's a bastion to the north of your position with a squad of Havocs occupying it, I'd say bearing autocannons, their warlord was over at the east side with a squad of terminators when we lost sight of them. 
 More plasma fire sounded to the south west. That wasn't good, plasma weapons took time to vent and recharge after firing and these discharges had come too soon to be Sergeant Camilo's warriors firing again.

There was no time to consider that however, a bestial howl sounded to the east, followed by the thunderous roar of a space marine assault bike, and then they were set upon, a pair of warp spawned beasts launching themselves over the ramparts, too many legs and arms propelling the drooling, yowling figures across the ground, herded towards his squad by a maddened, bellowing warrior atop the bike. as he approached, talons unsheathed themselves from his forearm, a lightning field crackling around them and he leaned over, balancing his weight against that of the bike. Reyes saw what was coming, but his shouted warning to his squad came too late, the claw ripped into his warriors sending several spinning to the ground as the beast spawn crashed into the remainder. Drawing his combat knife, Reyes bared his teeth in a growl and charged, but as he did so another roar interceded, blue and yellow shapes blurring across his field of vision as Sergeant Edmundo and his veterans hurled themselves into the combat.

Nothing could stop the Alpha Legion master though, his bike skidded to a halt and his remaining gloved hand also ignited with power, lashing left and right with claw and fist, he was an unstoppable whirlwind of destruction, crumpling and slicing armour with contemptuous ease. 

Suddenly before him, one of the spawn beasts appeared, howling madness from the darkest depths of the warp into his face. Reyes slammed the knife in his hand into its face, stabbing it into every feature that seemed like it could be important, bursting eyes, impaling appendages and cutting off spines with every strike. Finally it seemed the spawn could take no more and it simply deflated, as it did so, the air around him discoloured, and suddenly the filters of his helmet rebreather clogged. It took very strong poisons to affect space marines in any way, but Reyes felt the blood raining from his skull, and he crashed to the ground paralysed. He was conscious, and could see and hear what what going on around him, but movement and control of his limbs eluded him. 

He watched, helpless as the warlord and his remaining beast left the platform, heading in the direction of Sergeant Alfredo's scouts. The platform was littered with bodies, most were still alive, crawling or dragging themselves to their feet, but they would need time in the apothecarion before they were battle ready once more.

A grim, deep voice crackled in his ear.

"Report sergeant" ordered Chaplain Ezequiel.
"Chaplain" replied Reyes "we have neutralised  their central forces and Sergeant Camilo is securing the southern sector. I can see him fighting on. They have a senior officer heading towards Sergeant Alfredo's squad, and Havocs are providing covering fire from the bastion to the north. I can see Sergeant Platon's men in the east, the terminators there have been accounted held up and are no longer a threat. I'm afraid Chaplain that I cannot move, and my squad have been rendered combat ineffective sir."
"Acknolwedged Reyes, we will discuss penance for your failing upon our return to the Saint's Retribution."
Appearing in his vision, he saw the lumbering, relentless forms of Squad Rico advancing on the bastion to the north of the landing pad, laying down suppressive fire on the havocs on its battlements. They reached the structure and in an astonishing show of power, set about the building with their power fists and chainfist. Soon, the building began to shake, before the terminators had weakened it to such an extent that it collapsed in on itself, the chaos marines on top of the building crashing down into the rubble and the expanding dust cloud.

Reyes turned his head, the only part of his body that remained under his control, though he could feel a tingling sensation returning to his limbs as his superhuman physiology fought off the effects of the poison he had breathed. He saw Chaplain Ezequiel smite the last remaining warrior opposing them before the enemy warlord once again appeared as if from nowhere. He struck hard at Ezequiel sending the Chaplain crashing to the ground, before he disappeared once more.

"Dusk Knights, regroup." the Chaplain ordered.
"We have struck at the heart of the enemy, and sent them running, we shall return to the Saint's Retribution and plan our next move."
- - - - -
So the alpha legion took an alpha strike! I said to Nick turn 3, I can tell this mission is supposed to favour the marines, but I feel like I have no chance of winning. I was low on bodies and low on kill points. But then a Chaos miracle happened, my Lord on bike went on a rampage and with a handful of tasty boons managed to claw me back the victory, so my mvp is definitely my Chaos Lord.
- - - - -
Well there you go - another cracking game and one where you'd struggle to find a victor from the tabletop scene at the end!

Ryan pulled the win out of the bag quite comfortably actually on points, his warlord and spawn keeping five of his available points alive at the end of the game, whilst I had lost all but my terminators.

Regardless of the result though, it's safe to say that the Alpha Legion base was no more, and so both forces would need to regroup before returning to the fray again.

This game was a classic example of not having the right tools in the box to deal with everything. I though I'd got combat covered with the Vanguard Veterans, but then I realised that when the Chaos Lord challenged me, if I accepted with my sergeant I'd be facing 5 attacks with hatred striking at a higher initiative than me and re-rolling to wound. So I denied the challenge and then watched as the Chaos Lord killed everything that had a chance of hurting him anyway (I'd placed my power axes next to him, foolishly!). This game has definitely changed my attitude towards combat - with an army like marines you can't afford to pay it lip service, if you're getting into combat, you need to kit out properly!

For what it's worth, my MVP has to be the chaplain, even though he didn't do a huge amount and lost combat against the chaos warlord, my command squad had been wrestling with a couple of chosen for several turns when Chappie walks up and just squashed them into the ground with his crozius.

What would you guys like to see next - we're planning some kill team games, or we could escalate things again? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

List building - Dusk Knights again!

So we're back to this again - another look at the Dusk Knights space marines and my efforts at creating a 'standard' list for use in my games.

Given how I'm also trying to go back to 'basics' with the marines and how I use them, I also decided to go back to first principles and use a CAD as the basis for the list. If it's effective I can then look at how to go about tweaking it to fit into either a gladius or a sternhammer later (I've looked at the other options and don't like them).

So, as ever we need answers for the following questions.

  • How do I deal with hordes?
  • Do I have enough anti-armour?
  • What if my opponent brings flyers?

I'm not addressing the matter of psychic powers there, because in my experience, unless you're a psychic heavy army yourself, the psychic phase is either not overly devastating if your opponent isn't focusing on it either, or you won't compete at all if they are.

On top of that, having been devastated recently by a rampaging Chaos Warlord, I also need to think about the following.

  • Can I hold my own against a combat monster?
  • Am I mobile enough to threaten the whole board?
So, working with the basic requirements of a CAD, I need to take an HQ and 2 Troops units. Let's start with the HQ first. 


What do I want from an HQ? Looking at the selections available in the marine book, short of taking a techmarine with a conversion beamer, there's not many options in there for an aggressive shooty unit. I could take a librarian but with no real option for an invulnerable save outside the shield eternal or terminator armour and with only two wounds, I generally view them as a second HQ choice rather than a primary one. I feel the same way about the Chaplain, and despite having the new terminator version and using him a couple of times, he's not that effective except as a bully and a force multiplier for other units.

That leaves us with the Captain/Chapter Master then, and realistically in a combat role, unless I want to just keep him really cheap and hide him.

If I look carefully then, I have a need for a combat role, and I have to take a character whose best suited to fill that role, so how do I go about making it work without spending a fortune?

First up, he needs a 2+ save, anything less will just result in a lot of pain and a dead HQ in my experience. There are 2 ways to achieve this - Artificer Armour, Terminator Armour and the Armour Indomitus. Terminator Armour limits his mobility, and the Armour Indomitus prevents me from taking another relic, so I'm initially looking at the Artificer Armour, which combines nicely with his 4++ to make him as durable as a cataphract without the movement and overwatch penalties. I'm going to rule Terminator Armour out then, and let's look elsewhere before we make a decision on the Armour Indomitus. Offensive damage - he doesn't struggle for choice certainly, but let's be reasonable, if I need to look at damage output then he needs to be AP2. That means the choice is limited to Thunder Hammer, Power Fist and the Burning Blade. 2 of these make him S8, which will double out other infantry types much of the time, but both are unwieldy. The Burning Blade strikes at initiative but is only S7 and can potentially hurt me, but can also limit my opponent's ability to strike me back in the following turn. I'm inclined to go down this route - a true combat monster is likely to either be an eternal warrior or T5+, so I don't think S8 is a must-have, and the ability to strike at I5 and AP2 is huge. That means the Armour Indomitus is out, so we're looking at Artificer Armour. All that's left is mobility (I'll look at bodyguard later)  so we have the options of transport, jump pack or bike. Transports are extremely limiting, both options (land raider and storm raven) are 200+pts, and would represent a massive points sink, particularly in the case of the storm raven since it may not arrive until T4, meaning I might only have 1 turn to do damage in combat. The land raider doesn't suffer from this, and can carry lots of other guys to act as meat shields, but we're still looking at over half my army then being invested in a single unit, which is death star cost for at the moment, limited output. I think the jump pack option for 15pts is perfect, it allows him to deploy on the table and still be mobile, and a threat from T1, or if my opponent brings a nasty alpha strike, he can be kept in reserve to arrive later, either as part of a squad or on his own.

Adding that all up, we get to 180pts for a captain with 2+/4++, 3W, 5 attacks on the charge, at WS6, S7 and AP2.


Mainly there are two choices here - the tactical squad, and the scout squad. Now in my evaluations, these guys come out exactly the same score but for different reasons, and therefore for now I'm going to have a look at taking one of each. 

Referring back to the questions I posed myself at the start of this article, I think these guys are likely to need to be my first answer to the question of dealing with hordes.

Let's look at a tactical squad for that purpose then. They'll be objective secured due to the benefits of the CAD, and so can claim objectives quite nicely. My first question then is how I want them to deploy - I don't like taking tactical squads without any deployment or transport options, so I'm looking at razorbacks, rhinos and drop pods. 

The razorback forces me to do one of two things - either take a smaller squad, losing out on the heavy weapon I could then take with them, but allowing me a more limited choice of vehicle mounted heavy weapons, or splitting the unit into combat squads. so one can hang back and the other advance inside. on the face of it, there's not much difference, the razorback stock comes in one point cheaper than four marines, and replaces the option for a special or heavy weapon with a twin linked heavy bolter. Not bad when you look at it like that. The Rhino sacrifices nothing from the squad, but is fairly lightweight in terms of armour, and basically brings nothing to the fight in terms of firepower. It does however stay mobile through the game until it's destroyed, allowing me to stay mobile for a while (that's the theoretical anyway, the practical is that unless you've got lots, they're going to be destroyed early on). The final option then is the drop pod. The most heavily armoured of the options, and allows the alpha strike anywhere on the table on turn 1. It's the best choice in maelstrom terms, allowing you to go and claim any objective you like (pretty much) because of its deployment versatility. Let's give the tactical squad a pod then. Now, because of how pods work (you deploy half on turn 1 and then roll for reserves as normal) they operate most effectively in odd numbers. we'll need to bear that in mind therefore for the future, but they also have a couple of neat tricks up their sleeve. The first is the deathwind launcher. You don't see it much, and it's quite expensive, but any option to put large blasts down on the table against hordes is worth considering. I won't take it for now, because of the cost, and because of the other trick - the locator beacon. These allow the pods to act as a beachhead on the tabletop, with any deep striking reserves arriving in later turns being able to home in on the pod and not scatter when they arrive near enough to it. I'm going to stick on on for now, to account for the points and if I need to remove it later I can.

So, what goes inside the pod then?

I want a full tactical squad, and as one of my required units it needs to be able to deal with a variety of enemies. So we take 10 guys, Let's put the Imperial Space Marine in there as well to cover every eventuality, he can always choose to fire his combi gun as a bolter if necessary and prudent - the disintegration part of course can kill him. We'll give the sergeant a power fist - I'd love to make him a veteran but let's save the points for now. That will ensure I can take on most targets if I get charged, though he's still at risk of being challenged out of a fight - I can always drop this option later to shave points if I need to. For main weapons, the best and most versatile I can think of are the grav guns. So one guy gets a grav gun, another the grav cannon and amp. Now I know these can suffer against typical horde armies because of the way they wound, but bearing in mind the number of shots of the cannon and its re-roll to wound it's not a bad option, whilst the grav gun bearer can simply be the designated grenade thrower if this is a problem (poor armour saves are usually accompanied by low toughness in horde armies anyway). Add all that up and we have a 260pt Tactical Squad.

I need another troops choice, but I'd rather not look at spending quite so many points on my second unit, and I want it to be mobile on the table after it has arrived as well since the tactical squad is anything but.

Let's take a scout squad, and we'll give them a land speeder storm to keep them moving. I'll keep this unit pretty basic, their only job is to get around the table claiming objectives, so no special guns, no upgrades on the storm. My only concession to additional cost is going to be camo cloaks, as these will make the unit much more difficult to shift.

Non-mandatory units

So that's the basics taken care of, I can now look to add units to the army from anywhere in the codex to fill out roles as necessary, so let's have a look back at my initial list of questions.

Anti Air. Anti Armour. I've already got a reasonable start on anti-horde so we can focus on these other two roles now.

Anti Air

There are two ways of dealing with flyers. Take your own (they now need to be fighters to do this effectively) or look at sky firing ground based weapons. For ground units, the marine codex has three realistic options. Devastator marines with flakk missiles, the stalker, and the hunter. In airborne options it has the stormhawk - the stormtalon and stormraven now both have to snap fire against flyers themselves so I'm discounting them from consideration.

Devastator marines with missile launchers are a great flexible unit, they can tackle just about any target, but the one major drawback with flakk missiles is the additional cost - they are not a cheap upgrade for devastators, and then they struggle from either having too many targets when you consider their versatility (whilst the missiles are by no means guaranteed to down a flyer) or being wasted points if your opponent brings no flyers.

Stalkers and hunters are great anti air options, but have a huge drawback - their weapons come stock with the skyfire rule, so if you face an army without any viable targets they are a complete waste of points. Let's have a look at the Storm Hawk then. Against flyers it is a very capable performer, if you use the dogfight phase it gets benefits, whilst on the table it brings a massive stock of weapons that are very capable of doing a lot of damage - 2 S9 shots, 2 S8 missiles and 4 twin linked S6 shots with rending (that's the weapon load out I use anyway). All of these are capable of bringing down other flyers and when combined, there's not much out there that should be able to resist you. What about versatility though? Well you're covered here too, because despite being less effective against ground targets as it drops a point of BS, it's still 3 times more likely to hit ground targets than a ground based weapon with skyfire is. And it brings a lot more guns too. I'm sold, the Storm Hawk is in for 145pts with the las talon and typhoon missile launcher. It also has the benefit of potentially affecting your reserve rolls and those of your opponent.

Anti Armour

Well, the codex is not short of anti armour choices, from drop pods filled with melta guns to conversion beamers at range and lots of options in between.

In my experience though, there's only one unit that tickles my fancy in this regard, and it's one I've reviewed on the blog previously - Devastator Centurions. Whilst the usual weapon load for centurions is grav cannons with deployment via drop pod, I prefer the slightly more subtle approach. Giving my centurions lascannons and missile launchers makes them an extremely potent anti armour threat, particularly if you give them Imperial Fists tactics to give them tank hunter on those S8/9 shots. The additional range on the guns over the grav cannons allows them to be deployed in a more defensive position, and remain fairly static throughout the game, there aren't many places on the table a lascannon can't reach if you think carefully about your deployment. I've used these guys before and they are exceedingly handy, and more to the point, they rarely got removed from the board in my games - I can only think of three occasions, the first when I advanced them up the table into the enemy guns for tactical reasons, the second when a Tau commander and crisis squad with plasma rifles deep struck into their faces (I then counter charged and picked up slay the warlord, whilst stopping my opponent getting linebreaker) and the third was when my opponent changed his list up to bring a plasma command squad - 8 plasma shots put paid to that particular adventure since there was no real cover on the board to use to protect them.

That pretty much covers the reasons for including them I think, but it also raises the one drawback with regard to the centurions - being charged or dropped on! This point leads me onto my next choice, and conveniently also addresses one of the other questions I posed earlier - can I hold my own against a combat monster? Given that my centurions are a juicy target, and one that isn't particularly capable in combat, I will need to protect them, and that means having a unit around that will counter charge anything that drops in my face to target them. I can't do anything about units that drop in and shoot them to death (cough, grav centurions, cough) but I can look to protect them from more aggressive options.


Whilst 40k is very much a game of shooting for the most part these days, combat is still an extremely useful tool in terms of the rapidity with which it can remove your opponent's units, as well as the capability of tying up the more devastating shooting options in an enemy force.

With a few exceptions, I'm a firm believer that it's very difficult to build a truly balanced army without having something in there that is capable in combat. Yes, some armies build their entire damage output around it, while others ignore it completely, but if you don't bring anything capable in combat, you'd better have some serious shooting to counteract it. This was illustrated to me recently when a Chaos Warlord on a bike bounced around from fight to fight being more than capable of shredding the units he was facing, but always evading return firepower though a combination of speed, toughness and putting spawn units in the way. Whilst I had brought a combat unit to that game, it wasn't capable of dealing with a foe who struck before them and ignored their armour - consequently when the fight was joined my own combat option was neutered.

Now as we have seen above, I've already built a combat warlord for this army, so he would need a bodyguard unit to run with him and provide support without being useless. Options for combat units in the marine codex are much less prevalent than choices in other parts of the codex, and I'm going to limit them even further by saying that I only want units that can keep up with the captain.

As I see it that leaves me with three choices - the Assault Squad, the Vanguard Veterans and the Command Squad on bikes.

The Assault squad is the cheapest of these, but I've said before and will say it again to anyone who doesn't run away with their hands over their ears, that the space marine assault squad is worthless as an assault unit - almost zero access to weapons with any sensible AP value limits them to the role of bullies against non combat units - and in this list I need this combat unit to be able to pull its weight.

The Command Squad is a very effective unit I've used before with the Iron Fists, the extra point of toughness granted to the marines helps to keep them alive prior to getting into a fight, and against some opponents even makes hurting them in that fight more difficult. I'm not a huge fan of storm shields though, the limitation on damage output in my opinion really hurts a combat unit, and so I look to try and maximise damage output instead. My Captain will be capable of dealing with most things with his higher initiative and AP2, so really I'm looking to supplement his powers with a larger volume of quality attacks to give my opponents pause. In this instance, I'm inclined to go with the vanguard squad - the bike command squad is strictly speaking a better option, with higher toughness and the potential for feel no pain outweighing the additional damage output, but at 35pts more than the vanguard, they are more limiting for this list in terms of the points they eat up out of my total.

5 Vanguard Veterans with jump packs should fit the bill nicely I think, with a relic blade for the sergeant to deal with tougher units, a pair of swords for dealing with 3+ armour at initiative values and a couple of axes to bite through terminator plate.

In tactical terms however, this unit when combined with the captain is a costly one! It therefore needs to be wielded carefully, minimising its exposure to enemy fire.

That pretty much covers the basics then, and I still have points to spend, so where do we go from here?

Well, I'm using a CAD, and given the prevalence of maelstrom missions these days, some additional objective secured units won't go amiss, so I'll throw in another tactical squad to give me up to three more obsec units, taking the army total up to 8.

These guys I want to keep fairly generic I think, and since I only really have one dedicated anti horde unit in the army so far, let's bulk out that section of the army. A full tactical squad with a heavy flamer and heavy bolter should do, and as with the first tactical squad I'll stick a power fist on the sergeant, you never know when they'll come in handy! These guys can go in a pod as well, which means ideally I want a third pod unit to make the most of the drop pod assault special rules.

What's the best swiss army knife unit in the marine book? You guessed it, Sternguard. I'll stick a locator beacon on their pod too, so I've got two pods with them on, which should bring the third in nicely on target to give me a secondary battle line if I need one. Five guys with combi weapons should be sufficient in this regard, and I'm inclined to go with either melta or plasma on them. Melta to boost the anti tank potential of the army or plasma to give me more powerful anti infantry. Grav is an option, but without a grav amp it's not massively threatening to vehicles and I want these to be a threat to anything on the board. Plasma does that through high strength and decent rate of fire, whilst even a single melta is well capable of busting armour. I may even end up splitting the weaponry to bring a couple of plasmas and some melta.


Bringing that all together then, we come up with the following:

Warlord and bodyguard - main role - counter-assault. If the enemy has no drop capacity to threaten my deployment zone, then this unit is free to be more aggressive, using its mobility to either claim objectives, or threaten/tie up dangerous enemy units.

Troops - one fast mobile obsec unit, two units deployable around the table providing massed firepower with an element of anti elite infantry if necessary.

Anti tank - a single limited mobility unit with high damage resistance and long range firepower, supplemented by a fast moving flyer with anti tank capability and a mobile deployable anti tank threat.

Anti air - air superiority fighter incorporated into the list, supplemented if necessary by twin linked anti armour fire from the ground, and high volume shooting against more fragile air units from tactical squads.

Further revisions

I always think it's worth thinking about what else you could add to your list if necessary to make it more capable, particularly with reference to the 'typical' maelstrom cards that you may be asked to complete.

Now it's fairly commonplace these days (and certainly within my club) to re-draw any maelstrom cards that can't be achieved within the possibility of the game, such as harnessing the warp if you have no psykers, or shooting down a flyer if your opponent has none etc.

However, it's also fairly simple to add some flexibility into your army by seeing what you can do to achieve these cards, and harnessing the warp seemed to me to be the obvious standout from the possibilities. I've also found it's prudent to run your army through achieving each of the tactical objectives you might be faced with in your games, so here we go!

Secure objective X
Hmm, I mentioned 8 obsec units didn't I? With a fast moving/infiltrating option as well, I've pretty much got the ability to claim objectives, if not at will, then certainly with a good degree of flexibility.

Shouldn't be a problem with the number of pods and mobility within the army.

Behind enemy lines
Marines struggle less than any army here, and just a single pod with combat squads deploying from it will score me D3 points - I need to remember that when deciding whether to use combat squads or not, also that the unit doesn't have to be wholly within 12", unlike linebreaker.

Hold the line
My centurions are likely to give me this, provided I keep the warlord and vanguard with them as two separate units will easily give me the point, I then just need to keep my lines clear of enemy units.

Lots of obsec should make this straightforward.

Again the mobile obsec units should make this relatively straightforward, even if they only result in me contesting those other objectives, I can make sure the enemy doesn't hold them.

Up to 8 obsec units gives me the best possible chance when they can drop in and are so mobile. The main issue here will be drawing it late if my combat squads have been whittled down.

Overwhelming firepower
I really shouldn't struggle to achieve at least the base level with this list.

Blood and guts
This list isn't really designed to achieve the higher level of this card, but is certainly capable in terms of destroying units in combat.

No prisoners
The army is based around quality fire supported by volume, and whilst it might not have quite the ability to score the top level, it's got a good chance of reaching level 2.

Hungry for glory
The Warlord is a decent combat choice and should(!) beat most units he goes up against.

Psychological Warfare
There's not much I can do to affect this, but having a good combat option helps, because morale is the only place where an enemy's leadership can be reliably affected. Granted, taking the 1st company strikeforce would help here, but that would mean taking a third veteran unit and that's not really viable at these points levels.

Harness the warp
Sticking a librarian in there will help me get the base level, though if I want the higher level I'd need to drop some units to get another psyker into the list.

This list is capable of killing most enemy HQ's, the only real question is how well the enemy protects them.

Witch Hunter
Again, this list shouldn't struggle to be able to kill a witch if I draw this card.

Scour the Skies
The Storm Hawk is made for this card.

Again, the list shouldn't struggle to facilitate character removal, the only problem will be if the enemy doesn't bring many, but it should still be possible.

Imperial Fists chapter tactics make the centurions extremely handy at achieving this one, on the rare occasions that my opponents actually bring a building!

Big Game Hunter
Shouldn't be a problem.

Space marine specific objectives

Death from above
With 3 drop pods and a jump unit, it should be possible, the only problem is if I lose the vanguard and my drop pods have already arrived by then. This further reinforces keeping the vanguard safe early on.

Honour the chapter
Realistically, the warlord is the only guy I'd really want to put forward for this one, though against minor characters I can see the vanguard sergeant being able. It should be achievable.

No mercy, no respite
The way morale works, I'm probably more likely to achieve it through kills, but the firepower in the list should certainly help in that regard.

For the Emperor.
If I do draw this one, then it's certainly a practical option to split off my warlord and pick up a pair of charges with him and the vanguard. I then only need 1 other unit to be in range for a token charge to pick up D3 points - doable.

Lightning Strike
The drop pods and the centurions certainly look likely candidates to fill this role, and the Storm Hawk should also be pretty good at it.

The Emperor's Retribution
Drop pods are ideal units for this type of work, though any obsec unit is able, and with some fast obsec stuff in my list there's no reason it shouldn't be possible to do.

Ok, so I'm pretty happy that all those objectives are as much within the reach of the army as possible, the only thing to consider is if I want to drop all the extra bits to try and fit in a librarian, and where he would go if I did - the sternguard are certainly an option in their pod, as would be the centurions to try and get them invisibility, or the vanguard to add yet more punch to that unit.

I'll let you know what I decide, though don't be surprised to see a libby with a jump pack in my hobby updates soon!


I've been thinking quite a bit about this list over the last few days since I drafted this post, and I've looked to tighten it up in a few areas.

Captain remains the same
Level 2 librarian included, with jump pack and the Bones of Osrak. I decided that actually having a librarian in there was too important to leave out, the potential for psychic shriek, or invisibility on the devastator centurions for example, plus having a force weapon is never a bad thing. Given a single librarian can be fairly limited in effectiveness and is prone to suffering from a crappy roll or two, I decided the Bones of Osrak would give me some reliability. An extra power die and re-rolling failed psychic tests would make a single librarian a much more significant proposition for my opponents to face. I gave him a jump pack so that he would be capable of accompanying my warlord, or moving to other units quickly as necessary.

To pay for this however, I needed to make a few changes.

The sternguard lose the locator beacon from their pod - two would be nice but against most opponents one would be perfectly satisfactory. I've also jiggled their armament a bit, leaving three of them with combi grav weapons, but giving the remaining two meltaguns. Now they're a proper swiss army knife, meltas deal with tanks, grav with elite infantry and special ammo with anything else.

The vanguard change a bit too, with the sergeant dropping his relic blade back to a power sword instead. The effectiveness of this should be accounted for by the normal inclusion of the librarian in the unit.

This section probably sees the most change, with the scout squad losing their camo cloaks (not an ideal situation, but not drastic either.
The first tactical squad stay broadly the same, but the sergeant picks up a combi grav to support the grav, grav cannon and disintegration gun. This squad is now a prime candidate for using the combat squads rule, with 4 members of the unit carrying significant anti-elite weaponry. At full effectiveness, they'll be putting out 11 grav shots and 2 S5 AP2 instant death shots from the disintegration gun.
The second tactical squad gets the most change, as it gets cut to just five members. The sergeant picks up a combi flamer to support the flamer in the unit and the heavy bolter is dropped. This unit is now pretty much dedicated anti horde, with a pair of flamers being very nasty to blob squads. Ideally I'd have supplemented that with the large blast launcher for the pod, but I just didn't have the points.

Fast Attack
The storm hawk remains unchanged - the only points I could really save are for the typhoon missile launcher but I just find Skyhammer missiles a bit lacklustre.

Heavy Support
Only a tiny change here - the Centurion sergeant gets an omniscope. It's an incredibly useful piece of kit, and one I didn't really like leaving off in the first place - this is where the points from the camo cloaks went and I'm pretty confident the additional damage output and flexibility from the cents is worth the loss of cover for the scouts. I'll just have to keep them in their speeder longer is all!

Right, sorry for the monster post - congratulations if you got this far, hopefully it's been helpful to those of you who are new to building an army list, and equally interesting to those with experience to see how someone else goes about making the choices over what to include.

I'll leave you with last night's achievement - Epistolary Aquilino

I went 'overboard' a bit on the details with this model, but having kept the 3rd company captain very plain (you'll see him on Monday) I wanted a contrast with the more mystical librarian. I'll need to think of something suitably impressive to paint on his banner, but there's loads of detail here - I even went so far as to add a little reliquary to his belt for the Bones of Osrak.

And yes, I do love the irony of using Black Templars parts for the construction of my librarians.

Till next time, TBE

Monday, 6 March 2017

Hobby update - commission work begins in earnest!

Hi all, welcome once more to the little window into my hobby world, where I cast a light on my painting station and what wonders lie on it at the moment, haha!

This week marks the first hobby update where I'm looking at my commission painting. I've got a few projects on the go at the moment so I've decided to focus mainly on them this month.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

February review

Blog aims.
  • Continue to post at or above 2016 levels, when I achieved 153 blog posts.
February was another bumper month, with 23 posts in 28 days, which takes me up to 43 over the first two months of the year. Keep that rate up and we're looking at over 250 posts this year, which will smash my previous best.
  • Reinstate/create some regular features, including Funny Friday, and possibly we'll see a return of 'The Adept' and his take on 40k's particular style.
I'm continuing on with the new series 'spotlight on blogging' and whilst views on these posts have dropped for the last couple (could be that they've not been top article on the home page for as long) the series appears to be going down quite well. I've also done another couple of Tactical Insight articles on the marine codex, so feature series are coming along nicely.
  • Achieve over 20,000 views in at least 1 month of the year, and aim to average over 18,000 views per month.
I comfortably exceeded my 18,000 target once again this month, for a second month in a row beating the 20,000 mark (23,239 to be exact). In fact, had my viewing figures continued at the same pace and February had the same number of days as January I'd have beaten that record.
  • Continue to promote adsense on the blog, and actually get paid by google!
Well I honestly thought I was going to achieve this this month, but agonisingly I fell just a few pence short of the threshold for getting paid (the pot now stands at £59.50). Still, it'll give me another month to increase the pot beyond that threshold so the payment will be nicer when it does arrive.
  • Feature a narrative campaign series of battle reports using the Dusk Knights.
This month saw the first of the narrative reports 'Return to Golovin - Recon Strike'. It seemed to go down fairly well with you all, though nothing like as well as the original game that inspired it. Interestingly, that report went up on a Friday night, which I've noticed before can tend to result in higher views, so from now on every time there's a narrative game report, it'll be published on a Friday night.
  • Promote a more 'feature/spotlight' style of photography post when I finish painting a unit.
I downloaded the camera+ app onto my phone this month, and I think the results of that are already beginning to bear fruit - when Greggles tells you your photos are better, then your photos are better!

I'm also going to start featuring a combination photo in these review posts of everything I manage to paint in a month.
Personal hobby aims.
  • Buy no new 40k miniatures in the first half of the year (excluding those I've already committed to, which comprise a chimera, guardsman squad, and 12-14 genestealers).
Tick, that's now two months with no 40k stuff bought! In fact my only hobby spending this month was on a new brush and some paints.
  • Expand on commission painting services, getting a more formal structure in place.
So far so good, I've got plenty of stuff in the pipeline in this regard, with two lots of tzeentch screamers (for two different commissioners) and fateweaver, a terminator librarian and more space wolves too. Soon I may be solvent again!
  • Buy the Dwarf Bloodbowl team, including a Deathroller.
Not yet - it will be a while due to funding issues I've already mentioned.
  • Continue to paint/build 300pts per month on average.
Smashed it, this month I broke 800, though I did get a nice head start with some almost finished models on day 1.
  • Complete my first formation for the Genestealer Cult - the First Curse.
I have enough models to get cracking on this now - and if commission work is completed quickly in March I may get the first few painted. I've already tried out a new test scheme that should work well on both the genestealer cult models and the guard stuff I want to accompany them.
  • Finish painting 1000pts of Emperor's Children
Still a way off - I may look to get more of this done in April, after my March commission month.
  • Begin the repainting of the Tau, at least 6 units to be complete by the end of the year.
I haven't started yet, in fact I'm contemplating possibly putting some of the Tau up for auction with a view to focusing the collection on the Farsight Enclaves.
  • Begin using an airbrush to increase the speed of my painting.
I've not attempted this yet, still haven't had the time or been brave enough to try it. However, I do have a whole day to myself in March when it might be a possibility.
  • Complete building my gaming table/storage space to enable battle reports on the GDB blog.
Not yet, though the first GDB board is taking shape nicely - let's hope the rest come together rather quicker!
Gaming aims
  • Beat Ryan more often than I lose to him.
Just the one game in February and it was another loss - I need to get the win back in March's narrative!
  • Achieve a 60+% win rate with the Dusk Knights.
Well I'm currently trotting along at exactly 60% so far this year.
  • Achieve a 50+% win rate with the Obsidian Enclave.
Haven't used the Tau yet this year
  • Get into the playoffs of MAD League 3 Bloodbowl.
Didn't play bloodbowl this month, I'm still waiting for others in the league to catch up as I'm several games ahead of most players.
  • Develop a consistently successful list for use with the Dusk Knights
I'm getting there, though it's currently quite heavily dependent on sternguard, and my focus has been on getting stuff done for the Golovin narratives
  • Place in the top half of two different tournaments.
Haven't been to a tournament yet this year.
Weight: 100.5kg
February seemed to go off the rails a bit for both myself and my wife despite a couple of kilos lost in the first two weeks (what can I say - Valentine's Day and my wife's birthday encouraged us both to indulge in rather more food than we should have!), but things are rescuable, and I'm back on it again now.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Emperor's children - a change to my forward planning!

Hi there, so, after I spent quite a while figuring out what I wanted to do with my Emperor's Children this year (see article here), I've now changed my mind!

Info coming out of somewhere (I'm assuming the Horus Heresy weekender) seems to suggest some love for the blood angels is now being planned. Probably still a long way off but then it would have to be, as me getting progress in with FW stuff is not easy due to the costs involved.

So, out with the old plan, in with the new!

I'm now thinking I'll broadly work towards a 2.5k list, with a few little bits hanging around the edges to allow some variety.

The list is to be based around the Maru Skara (not the 3rd company as I'd worked with before) and the reason for this is the truly devastating potential of its benefits.

The Maru Skara allows you to reserve between 1 and 3 elite or fast attack units, to arrive in a turn you specify before the game. The reason I've not used this before is simply that I think reserving a portion of a 1000pt force has the potential to be rather silly, even if you can specify the turn they arrive you're going to be limited in effectiveness and potentially open to getting your force crippled before your big hitters arrive.

So the plan therefore as I said above was to work towards a 2.5k list, and for that list to have 3 prongs to it.
1. Firebase - a solid and resilient backfield group that could lay down nasty firepower at range.
2. Bait - some units to advance 'up the middle' (read Fulgrim if you don't get that joke) and provide a threat to the enemy that had to be dealt with - something like phoenix guard in a spartan for example, or my scoring units to entice the enemy out to play.
3. Counterpunch - these units need to be absolutely devastating in terms of their damage dealing capabilities when they arrive, and more to the point, they also need to be quite mobile and reliable - there's no point your nasty reserves arriving but relying on your opponent failing lots of 3+ armour saves for example!

There are a few other restrictions placed on the list - the Maru Skara doesn't let you take anything with the immobile, heavy or slow and purposeful rules (I don't think that includes weapons, it's more thinks like tanks and cataphractii terminators).

Ironically that also meant no drop pods, but I guess not having to paint more of them is a good thing!

Outside the rite of war restrictions, I also wanted every unit to have its own method of transport - I've said it elsewhere and seen it implemented a lot, but mobility of firepower is key to winning games of 40k and 30k.

I began by writing out a list of all the units I'd like to include, which meant I'd overspent my points by about 50%. Oops!

At that point I cut things back, trimmed and re-edited a couple of times, including a unit of phoenix guard in a land raider, large unit of palatine blades, lots of outriders with plasma guns etc. The list suffered quite a bit though, with only two tactical squads and the solitary firebase unit being a Sicaran Venator.
Since that initial list idea, I've since been back to revise it even further, for two main reasons. First, whilst it's damage potential was very high, with only a paltry two units to claim any objectives, my tactical squads would be hard pressed to have any kind of impact on games where scoring objectives is harder than in 40k, and with increased damage output a single squad of ten marines won't necessarily last very long either.

Whilst I've not gone mad and stuck half a dozen tactical squads in to try and mitigate that, I have decided to include more troops units.

Here's the new list - it still works on the basic principles of the first, but is a bit more restrained and balanced I think.

Legion Champion - Artificer Armour, Jump Pack, Phoenix Spear, Refractor Field
Lord Commander Eidolon - Jump Pack

Apothecarion Detachment - 1 with Augury Scanner, Jump Pack, Power Sword, 1 with Legion Bike, Power Sword
Palatine Blades - 5 Palatines with Phoenix Spears and Jump Packs
Phoenix Guard Terminators - 5 Phoenix Guard with Grenade Harness and Sonic Shriekers

Tactical Squad - 10 Marines in a Rhino with an extra twin linked bolter. Sergeant has artificer armour and melta bombs
Tactical Squad - 10 Marines in a Rhino with an extra twin linked bolter. Sergeant has artificer armour and melta bombs
Tactical Support Squad - 10 Marines with Volkite Chargers in a Rhino with an extra twin linked bolter. Sergeant has artificer armour and melta bombs

Fast Attack
Legion Outrider Squad - 4 Outriders with twin linked plasma guns, including sergeant with a Phoenix spear
Storm Eagle Assault Gunship - twin linked multi melta, two twin linked lascannons

Heavy Support
Legion Whirlwind Scorpius
Sicaran Venator Tank Destroyer, with pintle Heavy Bolter, sponson Heavy Bolters, Auxiliary Drive and Armoured Ceramite.

This list then break down into the three elements I mentioned before as follows:

Firebase: The Whirlwind Scorpius and the Sicaran Venator. The Scorpius is practically a staple to my mind, the AP3 blasts vicious in the 30k setting and providing really good anti infantry firepower. The Venator provides a sickening anti-tank punch, forcing snap shots even onto super heavies if it gets a penetrating hit, which with S10, 2 shots and the ordnance rule is reasonably likely most turns. I've put the triple heavy bolters on it so that if an opponent brings little armour and it's all gone early, then my big investment isn't worthless, the 9 heavy bolter shots are still capable of giving it quite a nasty field presence even if the main gun isn't firing. The armoured ceramite is a necessity, and means that it's AV of 12 minimum is good value too. Finally I've given it the auxiliary drive because with it's comparatively short range and hull mounted gun, this isn't a tank that won't ever have to move in a game.

Bait: I say bait, these are the units I'm expecting to score me objectives in my games, a trio of tactical squads in Rhinos, one of them being a support squad toting volkite chargers. My intention is that these will stick close to each other as much as possible (objectives notwithstanding) to give each other mutual fire support. They won't race forward, but will advance on the enemy waiting for those transports to burst. If push comes to shove, they all have melta bombs available if they need to break transports themselves.

Counterpunch: Three main units again here - I've kept the outrider squad in principle, but given it an apothecary to keep them alive a bit longer, and cut their numbers right down to 4. A bit of mathammer to figure this out - but I reckon that 4 bikers should be sufficient to reliably kill a 5-man squad of marines, assuming no cover saves or feel no pain. It's certainly not as threatening or damaging as I'd like, but that's a trade off for the extra guns on the Venator and the inclusion of the Apothecary. The second counterpunch unit is the Phoenix Guard. Again, I've cut this squad down to the minimum of 5, and dropped the Spartan completely. Instead, I've put them in the Storm Eagle - this is a beautiful looking kit more appropriate to the 3rd legion I think than the more threatening bulk of the Spartan. I've gone with Multi Melta and Lascannons on it to provide me with additional anti tank firepower and it should dual nicely as anti air if necessary too. The long range of a flyer also means there is nowhere on the board these guys can't strike with their assault once they've arrived, and so they should guarantee me a turn 3 charge, and probable unit destruction at that point. Finally, the third counterpunch unit is the Palatine Blades. Once again, the unit size is reduced down to the minimum five, but they are then accompanied by an apothecary for feel no pain, Eidolon as the Warlord and the Legion Champion. All of the models in this unit can therefore accept and issue challenges as required, and the jump packs mean they are mobile enough to act as a threat in most places. Eidolon also brings a real threat with his thunder hammer to any vehicles hiding in the backfield trying to stay out of hitting range.

So there you have it - the evolution of my Emperor's Children.

Let me know what you think, are there any obvious flaws I've not thought of? I'm aware that the anti tank potential of the firebase and bait units is a bit limited, but with a guaranteed arrival on turn 2 (if I want it) of my counterpunch, including the Storm Eagle, plasma Outriders and Eidolon, I should be able to break into most things by the time I need to charge them.

Till next time,

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Old stuff day: Dice - how do you roll yours?

Hi all - it's old stuff day today and I thought it would be nice to do something a little different, so rather than just re-posting an old article, I took the idea behind the article and re-wrote it with an updated twist.

Here's the original

What do your dice say about you?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

40k Formations - your views!

Hi all - well as promised in my article extolling the virtues of formations, here's the follow up where you can find the thoughts of those of you who either commented on the original article, or emailed me afterwards!