Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Forces present at the Starport Assault

As I hadn't bought any of the newly released Tau kits, the army I took to try and capture the first location of our campaign was quite a straightforward, unflashy affair, but with some Forge World treats included...

Commander o'Ralai - My Warlord and lone ranger since he's no longer an Independent Character.

2 XV9 Hazard Suits - My recent purchases from Forge World open day. One was equipped with standard twin-linked burst cannons. The other with two fusion cascades. They shall hopefully be being updated in the soon to be released Taros Campaign 2nd edition.

2 squads of Fire Warriors, both in Devilfish - These were going to be my objective grabbers. Fast and with good saves thanks to Jink and Disruption Pods.

Kroot Squad - This was a test run to see if they could hold their own, or if I should just stick to the Tau proper.

3 XV8 Crisis Suits - I armed these for middle range shooting, plenty of missile pods, with a plasma rifle, flamer and fusion blaster thrown in for any situation.

Hammerhead - I've never fielded one before, and with the threat of what my friend would be bringing I thought the strength 10 shots would help massively.

Ethereal - Morale boosting rather than everyone taking bonding knife rituals.

Piranha - Armed with a fusion blaster this skimmer was to be a suicide unit, getting to a threat quickly and hopefully taking it out.

2 XV8 Crisis Suits - These were armed in a much more specific way than the previous team. Twin-linked fusion blasters, a couple of plasma rifles and a pair of shield drones. These were going to be the deep-striking monster killers, fingers crossed.

On the Chaos Marines side, I don't have a complete list of what was taken, but the general impression is still there.

Daemon Prince with wings.



Small squad of cultists.

Marines, with a Heavy Bolter and Plasma gun.

A dreadnought/Hellbrute.

Small squad of Chosen.

A Squad of possessed.

And finally a lone Obliterator.

And there you have it. With that, the scene is fully set for the first battle of the campaign to see who will reign supreme over the planet of Thrask. Next up is the actual battle report, and more narrative based off it. Cheers.

Prelude to the Starport Assault

The planet of Thrask was under the rule of the Imperium. Not that you'd be able to tell by casually looking. Due to its fairly small and innocuous size it was often overlooked. It had no vast deposits of materia to fulfil any imperial tithes. It's strength lay in its inhabitants. Although introduced to concepts of the wider Imperium, the lack of governance meant they remained much as they had been for centuries. This detachment made them ideal in o'Ralai's eyes for annexing into the ever expanding Tau Empire. With a little coercion they would make excellent Gue'vesa.

On board his Custodian class carrier and in conjunction with his ethereal council a plan was formed to make planet fall and introduce the local populace to the concept of the greater good. A concept he was sure they would embrace after being essentially ignored for so long by the oppressive humans.

Due to the lack of any real governance from the departmentus administorum, certain traits in the general populace of Thrask had gone unnoticed for generations. It was also a trait overlooked by the naive and some would say, ignorant, Tau. Psychic ability was rife, and also unchecked. On any other imperial world this would have been identified at an early stage, black ships would ferry back and forth, shipping the dangerous individuals to Terra where they would either be developed to serve the Imperium in life, or to be fed to the Astronomican to keep the Emperors guiding beacon shining.

It was this unchecked pool of psychic ability that had slowly been drawing the attention of the warp. Strange beings in the immaterial realm had taken notice and were hungry. Even if they all were devoured by the onslaught of the armies of Chaos, or twisted and enticed to forgo their souls to the chaos gods, it mattered not.

O'Ralai ordered the air caste in charge of his fleet to ready the Mantas, prepare the Orcas, and outfit the suits ready to make planet fall. As the sun set they launched their stealth invasion, the cover of darkness providing much needed cover. Although he was certain the Gue'la wouldn't have any anti-air capability he wasn't willing to take any risks. The landing site was a stretch of flatland surrounded by a crown of rocky outcrops and few miles to the west of the planets star port. Under advisement from his friend Aun'Li the subtle approach was chosen rather than just dropping the entire might of the Tau directly on top of the facility. The distance wouldn't pose any kind of inconvenience, the fast moving troops he was taking with him would cover the ground in no time at all.

As they disembarked from the huge transports and formed up into cadre groups the evening sky took on a sinister tinge. Out of nowhere clouds rolled in over the hills, and lightning erupted, closely followed by a thunder that raged harder and longer than the venerable commander had ever heard. At first he thought they had grossly underestimated the local population, and many of his cohort went to ground, taking up firing positions as the Piranhas and Tetras gunned they're engines and shot off into the distance to assess to situation. After a number of rai'kor that felt like an age, and no sign of any military retaliation, the order was given to resume advancing. The adverse weather conditions proved to be an unexpected ally, masking the noise of their propulsion systems as the advance party crested the hills surrounding their target. Little did they know that the Tau weren't the only beings interested in this vital piece of infrastructure.

As the star port and the surrounding landscape was revealed the fire caste halted for the second time within the hour. What they saw made no sense to their warp-neutral minds. The freak weather conditions were not coming from the sky, they were emanating from the fields almost directly on the opposite side of the port to them. Although thick fog and smoke billowed everywhere, and would've hindered the visuals of a less advanced race, the black sun filters of the tau easily pierced the smog and what they saw chilled them to the core.

Out of the swirling, tempestuous mists emerged myriad shapes. Some vaguely recognisable to o'Ralais hunter cadre as Astartes, others so alien and twisted they were beyond classification. Foul nightmare creatures apparated out of thin air, their hisses and cries carrying clearly over the stretch of space separating the two forces. Huge war constructs started their ponderous journey towards the outbuildings of the starport, and the Tau commander knew it wouldn't be human resistance to cause them trouble. Over internal comms he gave the final order, and the battle commenced...

(This is my first real attempt at creating a story, so please excuse my amateur ramblings!)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Starport Scramble - The Mission

This is the first mission of the mini campaign. It should be easy for anyone to replicate, and the fact that it's a starport can easily be changed to a different type of facility such as a military compound, weapons silos etc.

Choose armies as per normal, with the exception that no Fortifications are allowed.

The deployment map is fixed as Hammer and Anvil.

An odd number of Imperial Bastions and Skyshield Landing platforms need to be set-up in the middle of the board. These should not encroach on either player's deployment zones.

Set-up remaining terrain either by consensus or using the random method.

Before deploying their forces, players should first roll for their Warlord Traits, and then deploy.

The player who deployed their army first goes first, unless their opponent can Seize the Initiative.

This mission uses variable game length.

At the end of the game, the player who has scored the most Victory Points wins the game.

Primary Objective
At the end of the game, each Bastion or Landing Pad held by any Infantry model or unit is worth 2 Victory Points to the controller player.

Secondary Objectives
Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker.

Night Fighting, Reserves.

The Taking of Thrask - Campaign details.

In my previous post I said I'd return with a closer look at the campaign I'll be running, and here I am! It's set on a planet called Thrask, a small world on the outskirts of the Caerphillax sector towards the Eastern Fringe.

What I'm hoping is that I can, over time, develop this region of space in much the same way as FFG have done with their own private sector of the Imperium. That's for the future though, for now I'm starting small, with just a single planet.

In the previous post I mentioned about how to create your warzone, and that's exactly what I've done. There's five areas of conflict, and if there's no funny business we should be finished in 5 games. Knowing us that'll take a few months to accomplish but at least that'll give me the time to invent the missions and write up the background lore each time.

I'm going to be playing my Tau this time. I haven't picked up any of the new shiny stuff, so my lists will be fairly straight forward (except the XV9's!) and my friend should be using Chaos Marines. I know that he's working on a Heldrake at the moment, and has mentioned a Defiler a couple of times so to be honest I'm shitting myself about being out of my depth. It should prove to be an interesting series of battles, mostly because it'll be the first time we'll have played both using 6th edition codexs.

The first section on the map to be fought over will be the starport as it would be a key strategic asset. The game is scheduled for this Sunday and there will be a couple of posts leading up to it, and a couple of posts afterwards. In the run up there will be the mission briefing, followed certainly by my armylist, possibly one from the Chaos side too. Afterwards there'll be two lore based pieces. One being a short story about the events leading up to the battle, the second being about the battle itself. After that I might do a really quick regular battle rep and show you guys how the campaign is moving along.

Starting a 2 player campaign - Rules overview

 I've wanted to be part of a campaign for almost as long as I've been playing Warhammer. I don't mind if I'm organising it or simply taking part. The idea of a narrative, and one battle leading to the next is hugely appealing. Unfortunately my gaming group is rather small, there's only two of us at the moment!

For the past few weeks I've been scouring the net for ways that others have introduced this idea into their games. I've found a huge wealth of information and ideas, from single player missions (which I'll be posting about very soon) through to grand multi-player events spanning years.

What I've ended up coming up with is a fairly modest campaign, highly story driven, that will be wrapped up in a handful of games. It utilises the Planetary Empires set, however a pen and paper would be equally suitable for tracking, I just prefer the visual representation the tiles give.

The set up is simple. An odd number of hex-tiles (or areas on a map) are put together. the layout isn't overly important. They could be arranged in a rough circle, or placed one leading to the next, like a pathway. The odd number serves to ensure there is a clear winner at the end.

Unlike most other campaigns, neither player starts with any territories, so no flags are placed on the map. Only when one player defeats the other will they plant their flag to mark the conquest of that location. Games are fought until every tile has a flag, and the winner, naturally, is the player who has the most.

More often than not, the best course of action is to keep nominating an unclaimed area of the map to fight over so that you can edge one step closer to victory. There is however the option to nominate a location already won by the enemy. This opens up the tactical options, and will hopefully stop any total flattening of poor generals like myself! It also stops the feeling that it's just a best-of-three series of games. The only downside is that the controlling army gets to pick their Warlord trait, implying that they're better prepared for receiving the enemy.

There are no campaign turns as such, when you're deciding where to fight simply roll off on a D6, and the winner picks the battle.

These are the rules by which I'll be trying to run a small campaign for my friend and I. I've kept the rules simple as I plan on going heavy on the background, the stories, homebrew missions, and to be honest just to try things out. If this is a success then I'll be upping the ante and throwing in more ideas for the next one.

The next post in this series is going to outline our specific campaign. Where we're fighting, who is fighting, and so on. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

High Elf leaks / Necrons from Forge World

Just a quickie, since I'm heavily blogging at the moment while I'm on holiday.

Forge World put out their newsletter, and formally released two of the kits that were previewed at the open day. The Tesseract Ark looks immense, it's a really clever model, and although I haven't finished reading the rules properly it's a beast on the battlefield.

The sentry pylon is available in the Fall of Orpheus with three gun options. It looks from this that each will be sold separately, and at a higher price than I was expecting.

Finally we come to the High Elves. Those of you that read my blog know that I dabble in Fantasy and have a very small Dwarf army (no pun intended, well only a little bit!) and with High Elves so easily accessible in the Island of Blood box I can see these being really popular.
Really like this, and extended flying rods too!
Eagle chariot thing

Maiden Guard

Army Shot
Phoenix and some other bird

Friday, 19 April 2013

Tau Empire Codex Review

 It feels like its been due for ages, rumours of the fish folks reworking had been bombarding the forums for what seemed like years. All kinds of wild guesses were thrown in with a few nuggets of truth. In the end what we've got is a beautiful hard back codex that's shaping up to be massive fun to play with.

At first glance a lot of the 4th edition idiosyncrasies from the previous codex have been ironed out, such as the compulsory Fire Warrior troops, and the restrictions on the special characters. No new races have been coerced into serving the greater good, but what we did get was a fleshed out, well rounded set of new units, and a sensible jiggling of existing entries.

From the front cover all the way through to the end it's a glorious book to look at. The artwork looks great in full colour and the layout is so much easier on the eye with some cool borders and superfluous details. The ease of finding the information has improved, just like all of the 6th ed codexs, with the reference tables being in the correct place, and the myriad weapon and support systems easily findoutable. Which is good because people are going to want to know what your Puretide Engram Chip actually does!

What Bez did after Happy Mondays
The HQ slots have been greatly expanded with loads of viable choices. Playing with double force org should be fun as you'll get a wide choice of heroes. Unfortunately at lower points levels I think certain choices like the Cadre Fireblade and the special pathfinder are going to be neglected in favour of the crisis commander and ethereals. What could've fixed this was putting the fireblade as a unit upgrade for fire warriors, and allowing dark strider to unlock pathfinders as troops.

Nothing's changed much in the troops slots except the previously mentioned removal of restrictions, and a couple of point and stat changes.

So stealthy they've disappeared
Elites are going to be the slots that consistently get maxed out. The XV8 and XV25 are still there, now joined by the epic Riptide. At the moment I'm just running the original suits but I'm sure I'll cave and get the big boy soon enough. I wasn't expecting any options for the old XV15s but it seems like they've almost totally ignored them in this dex.

Fast attack gets the second standard 6th edition spangly new unit/s, flyers. As with almost every release you get a bomber and an aerial fighter. I'm really liking the look of these, despite them being a complete departure from the Barracuda in terms of looks. Pathfinders get some awesome new drones, I love the idea of slapping the big daddy drone in the top of a Devilfish, reminds me of power rangers combining to create something bigger and better.

If you squint he looks like Greg Wallace with no pudding
Finally, the heavy slot doesn't really see anything new, although plenty has changed. Sky Rays are now a solid contender due to their skyfiring, Broadsides get a tank commander upgrade ala sergeant Cronus. The biggest change though are the broadsides. A brand new kit, new base size, new weapon stats. Again, seemingly highly controversial. To be honest I couldn't give a shit. Just get over it, stop crying and rejoice in the fact it's a sweet looking model with plenty of flexibility now.

So that's my very brief tour of the tau book, and I'm very happy. Let me know what you think.

Know No Fear

I was mega excited about this novel, finally the Ultramarines would get some Horus Heresy loving properly. I didn't know a huge amount of detail on the battle of Calth other than who was involved and that the boys in blue got their shit well and truly fucked.

The style the book is presented in was a great mechanic, breaking it down into 'marks', basically time-stamped journal entries that made following the planet wide conflict simple, with multiple story threads held together in a common timeline. It also meant stopping and starting was a lot easier.

Old characters made a return on the Word Bearers side, and although the demonic contingent was absent at first they soon got their mutant claws stuck in!

There were plenty of stand out moments, from the return of John Grammaticus, to the descriptions of vast spaceships tumbling out of the sky. The Mechanicum aspects were fascinating as usual, but the stand out moment of the whole book for me was when Ventarius wrenched an assault cannon clean off a land speeder and open fired on a Word Bearer, proper heroic shit.

The novel contains way too many awesome moments to note here, you'll just have to read it to find out. That's why I've kept this review so short. Dan Abnett has done another top job and I can't recommend this enough, whether you're a fan of the smurfs or not. An absolute 10/10!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Brotherhood of the Storm

I really don't know why it took me so long to finish this book. It was a great read, fast paced, not too heavy on plot, I just never got around to it I suppose.

It was another of Black Library's limited time hardback novellas, written by Chris Wraight and the first time the White Scars have shown up in the Horus Heresy. I think this will be the last of these styles of book I'll buy about a chapter or faction I don't have a massive like for. It came with no added extras such as posters etc but cost the same as Catechism of Hate, the chaplain Cassius novella, which was a shame. But I knew that when I clicked to buy, so mustn't grumble.

The story covers a couple of meetings. The first being two very different 'captains' and that thread of the story follows how their brotherhoods get along, learn from each other and wage war against the Orks.

The other meeting takes longer to set up, and is between an official from the Emperors admin department, and the Primarch of the White Scars himself. There's a big build up about him being uber evasive and hard to track down. Then it turns out he's just hiding in his bedroom! There is a great surprise mystery guest that pops in for a chat, but I won't spoil that for you.

All in all it was a nice read, possibly not worth the price tag, and definitely not worth the ebay prices. But on the stories merit alone it deserves a solid 7/10.

Shadowsun - The last of Kiru's line

A direct only novella from a (I think) new to the universe writer Braden Campbell. I leapt on this as a semi-long time tau player and with the new codex release so close. Maybe I was hoping for a few spoilers like Ravenwing did for the Dark Angels. No such luck this time but what I did get was a very compelling read that I couldn't put down.

It started out slightly off kilter with a scene that reminded me of Caliban from the Horus Heresy series. It soon kicked in though with the emergence of Shadowsun and her drones.

The story covers her being effectively stranded on a planet with a handful of earth caste and their attempts to get back to T'au. They're hampered along the way by the local Imperial guard, so there's plenty of firefights. This is where the story really comes into its own. Without any mentions of new technology, Braden fills the pages with swathes of details on existing tau systems, like how an escape pod protects the people inside, to how the tau heal themselves.

I've read comments from other readers that Shadowsun didn't come across as a great main character, mostly down to her rudeness. I think the arrogance of the species was nailed, and the social interactions between the different ranks of fire warriors were spot on, anything different would've felt like a cop out.

The only slight criticism I had was the lack of chapters. It was almost one continuous story, and while the action never really chopped and changed locations, there could've been places where a natural break could've been put in.

I'm glad I got it and would definitely recommend it to other tau players. I'm not sure how enjoyable it would be to folks with no interest in the faction, it possibly doesn't have the same universal appeal as say the HH series. A solid 8/10 from my tau-lovin perspective!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

WW#15 - Tau, Tau, Battle Systems

Some time ages ago - Now

Well, I've got no excuse like moving house this time. I've just been plain fucking lazy on the blogging front. And now I think about it, in the hobby overall. The good news is that I've got a few posts lined up and my hobby batteries have been recharged.

So, what have I been up to? Certainly not playing any games, although I have got one lined up for at the end of the week which should be cool. There'll be more details about what I've got planned later in the week. I've read a couple of Black Library books and reviews should be coming out at some point this week.

The trip to Nottingham which I wrote about last week was epic as always and I've been slowly building some of my purchases. The XV9 hazard suits are a treat to put together as always, but there's issues with the night shroud bomber where a couple of bits seem to have shrunk. I'm sure Forge World will be able to sort it out in their normal super friendly way.

The Tau codex has been my bed time reading for a while now and it's a fantastic codex. I didn't pick up any of the new models, expect the Cadre Fireblade, since I'd gone a bit mad the week before release and picked up loads of the existing kit.

At the moment I'm still painting my first Devilfish and also building all 24 Fire Warriors. Hopefully I'll get round to building the Piranha and Kroot squad this week too.

There should be another post coming soon with my thoughts on the codex, and also for the White Dwarf that came out the other week. So that is what's coming, fingers crossed I can stick to it.

The final thing I wanted to write about was Battle Systems. If you haven't seen them on the interwebz yet, or seen them mentioned in my blog before I urge you to check them out. Up until now they've been producing some great print-and-build sci-fi interior terrain. They're now gearing up for a kickstarter for a boxed, ready to build set which looks incredible. The box looks like it'll contain tons of pre-printed sections that slot easily together to create space ship interiors or military installations. They're currently still in development but the updates and WIP shots on their blog and facebook are very promising. The multi-level setups really grabbed my attention as they'd be perfect for Necromunda and kill team games.

That's about it folks. I'm not sure I'm going to be continuing with these "weekly" updates in future, I might just go back to posting stuff up as and when. Might mean smaller posts, but a lot more frequent. Cheers for reading!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Forge World Open Day 2013

For the third year running my friend Dean and I headed off to Nottingham at 5:30 this morning with much excitement about the resin treats they'd have in store for us. Sadly our usual accomplaice and guestbook defacer couldn't come this year, what with being off in Ireland.

We arrived at around nine and the queue had already formed. We were around 50th in line and the time flew. As we were let in almost everyone made their way to the sales stand. I'd ummed and ahhed for weeks about my shopping list but in the end made some snap decisions and got a bag full of goodies. Managed to pick up the Fall of Orpheus, a Night Shroud Bomber, three XV9 suits and the Death Korp event only model.

With that out of the way we went straight for the studio area. I'll let the photos do the talking!

Legion Praetor in power and Terminator armour
Praetors from the rear
Reaver Squad (Sons of Horus possibly)
More Reaver Squad
Heresy Era Whirlwind
Minotaurs Contemptor from Fall of Orpheus
And a better shot
Minotaurs special heavy bolter guy
Fellglaive Superheavy
Necron Baby pylon 1
Necron Baby pylon 2
Emperor's Children Palatine Squad
Necron Baby pylon 3
Heresy Landspeeder, from the next book.
Note the weapon options!

Squig lobber!
Dread Maw
So with those out of the way onto the scraps of information I managed to find out...

  • Imperial Armour 3 - the taros campaign is getting a second edition. It's already at the printers and will contain all tau units according to Talima.
  • Simon Egan has only got a couple of hours more work to put into Fulgrim then he's ready for release at the Horus Heresy Weekender.
  • The next Primarch to be done is Ferrus Manus. It's related to him and Fulgrim that he's up before Massacre comes out.
  • Will is working on an unspecified Mechanicum unit at the moment.
  • Massacre (horus heresy book 2) is hopefully going to be ready for this years games day.
  • When I was chatting to Trish about the Warhammer Fantasy stuff, she said that all work on the Battle for Black Fire Pass is halted until further notice.
  • Simon is solely working on Primarchs for the foreseeable future.
  • Once the heresy landspeeder is complete, that chap (sorry I've forgotten his name) is hoping to resume work on a new Tau suit, it's size will be between an XV8 and a XV25.
  • Will Hayes has been working on some Heresy Tartarus pattern terminators. They don't have the aquilla and will have full Betrayal weapon sets released.
Think that's about it really. Now for the random/cool stuff. Thanks for reading folks. Was an epic day and well worth the ticket price. Oh and on non-FW news, High Elves and Lizardmen were missing from the fantasy cabinets. Loads of different 40k armies and units were also absent. The only thing that I can think of that would warrant that would be another campaign, or a universal expansion such as apocalypse!

Standard tourist shot

The Fat Bloke!