Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Astronomican Dims

As we enter the Time of Ending the holy light of the Emperor's Astronomican begins to fade, hurling the fragile Imperium into disarray and panic.

Well, its not quite that bad. The Astronomican will be without computer access for the next two weeks, meaning that after a recent flurry of updates, this site shall fall silent.

I have, however posted up my two most recent 5th Ed. Dark Angels and Saim-Hann army lists, and I hope that while I'm away some of you with time on your hands might like to add any criticisms and comments you can come up with. Also check out my first Dark Angels Tac. Marine, shown below.

Anyway farewell for now, I look forward wading through all the great blog articles that are going to mount up in my absence!

Dark Angels: First Tac. Marine

Despite that fact the first Termi squad is nearing completion, I couldn't resist painting my first Dark Angels tactical marine after picking up some new paints at a GW.

In line with my drive to try out techniques I've attempted my first serious highlight and also used a wash for the first time. The results are really pretty pleasing:

My method largely followed that on the GW website. A Black undercoat was followed by a few layers of Dark Angels Green. This was highlighted with Snot Green and finally a Thraka Green wash was applied. I've got to be honest, I'm not sure if the wash made much difference, but it is a new technique under the belt. I used Astronomican Grey on the should pad and helmet insignia and used Bleached Bone over Calthan Brown for the chest eagle - the same method I use for my Deathwing.

I'm really pleased with how this marine came out, I think he definitely counts as table top quality. It also means I'm motivated to go back and properly highlight the Deathwing when they are done, which is no bad thing.

1500pts Saim-Hann Army List (The Serpent List)

This list attempts to modify my old Saim-Hann army list into something more 5th Ed. friendly. It drops the Shinning Spears, that I found less than effective on the whole, and adds more Dire Avengers, that I found were very effective. It also works on the basis that Wave Serpents, with their strength reducing Wave Fields, are now a lot more survivable than Falcons with their Holofields. Do people out there agree?

This list also gives me a minium amount to paint to get it up and going e.g. two Grav Tanks (which I enjoy painting) and about 5 or 6 infantry.

Anyway, I present the Serpent List:

Farseer 193pts
Jetbike, Singing Spear, Spirit Stones, Runes of Witnessing, Mind War, Doom & Fortune

Fire Dragons 108pts
5 Dragons & 1 Exarch – Dragon’s Breath Flamer

Fire Dragon Wave Serpent 145pts
Twin-Linked Star Cannons, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

Guardian Jetbike Squadron 1 129pts
3 Jetbikes; 1 Shuriken Cannons
1 Warlock on Jetbike (Embolden Singing Spear)

Guardian Jetbike Squadron 2 129pts
3 Jetbikes; 1 Shuriken Cannons
1 Warlock on Jetbike (Embolden Singing Spear)

Guardian Jetbike Squadron 3 76pts
3 Jetbikes; 1 Shuriken Cannons
*This squad will escort the Farseer

Dire Avenger Squad 1 177pts
9 Dire Avengers & 1 Exarch – Power Weapon & Shimmershield (Bladestorm & Defend)

Dire Avenger Wave Serpent 145pts
Twin-Linked Star Cannons, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

Dire Avenger Squad 2 92pts
5 Dire Avengers1 Exarch – Dual Shuriken Catapults (Bladestorm)

Dire Avenger Wave Serpent 155pts
Twin-Linked Bright Lances, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

Fast Attack
1 Vyper 75pts
1 Shuriken Cannon, 1 Eldar Missile Launcher

1 Vyper 75pts
1 Shuriken Cannon, 1 Eldar Missile Launcher

So there you have it, 5 fast scoring units, 3 Grav Tanks and some harassment units.

As with the Dark Angels list, I have a few tactical ideas knocking about for these guys, but I’m interested to hear any other thoughts first.

1500pts Dark Angels Army List

Below is the current incarnation of my WIP Dark Angles list.

Belial - Lightning Claws 130pts

Terminator Squad 1 250pts
1 Sergeant w/ Power Sword
1 w/ Company Banner and Chainfist
1 w/ Heavy Flamer
1 w/ Lightning Claws
1 w/ Thunderhammer & Stormshield

Terminator Squad 2 270pts
1 Sergeant w/ Power Sword
1 Apothecary w/ Power Fist & Storm Bolter
1 w/ Cyclone Missile Launcher & Lightning Claws
1 w/ Storm Bolter & Chainfist
1 w/ Storm Bolter & Powerfist

Tactical Squad 200pts
10 Marines - Lascannon & Plasma Gun

Rhino w/ Storm Bolter 40pts

Fast Attack
Ravenwing Attack Squadron 295pts
6 Bikes w/ 2 Meltaguns & Sergeant with Meltabombs
1 Attackbike w/ Multi-Melta
Ravenwing Support Squadron 65pts
1 Landspeeder w/ Multi-Melta

Heavy Support
Land Raider Crusader 250pts

Total: 1500pts

My ideas for this army have gone through several incarnations, starting out as an all Deathwing list that then moved on to incorporate some Ravenwing support and finally this more 'combined arms' approach. I have a good few tactical ideas for this force that I think we be pretty resilient and flexible. But before I divulge them, lets see if anybody has any comments or criticisms for me to chew on?

*Belial would accompany Terminator Squad 1 in the Crusader

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Battle Report: 22000pts 'FloorWar'

A mighty Tyranid Harridan soars over the battlefield, striking fear into the hearts of men and xenos alike.

Yesterday I played an informal 22000pts Apocalypse game at a friend's house, the largest game we had ever collectively attempted. The two man teams saw the Forces of Order (FoO) Vs. the Forces of Disorder (FoD), and featured some of the formations in the new Apocalypse Reload book.

In an interesting twist those playing the FoD were able to call upon 4 Legendary Units (namely a Baneblade, TWO Barbed Hierodules and a Harridan) while those fighting the good fight had none. Therefore it was agreed that the FoO would be allowed to take formations while the FoD would not, in order to see if it would give either side the upper hand. The FoD were also using not only a large number of Legendary Units, but also high cost tanks and monstrous creatures as opposed to the far far more numerous, but largely lower quality troops of the FoO - creating an interesting contrast on the battle field.

So without further ado, I present a plethora of photos (apologies for the quality) and a short summary of the battle.

Summary of Forces
Forces of Order
Imperial Guard - Space Marines - The Inquisition - The Eldar

1 Imperial Shield Infantry Company - 110 Guardsmen, 7 Commissars, 1 Psyker, 1 Chimera
1 Armoured Fist Mechanized Platoon - 30 Guardsmen, 3 Chimeras
1 Emperor's Wrath Artillery Battery - 3 Basilisks
1 Emperor's Fist Tank Squadron - 3 Leman Russ
1 Catachan 'Death Trap' Patrol - 30 Veterans
1 Windrider Host - 12 Jetbikes, 2 Warlocks, 2 Farseers, 1 Autarch, 2 Vypers
1 Cloudstrike Squadron - 3 Flacons
1 Spirithost - 10 Wraithguard, 1 Wraithlord, 3 Warlocks
HQ - Yarrick, Grey Knight Grand Master & Retinue, Space Marine Hero & Retinue, Avatar
Elites - 15 Terminators, Scouts, Veteran Marines, 2 Enginseers & Servitors, Ratalings, Stormtroopers, 1 Vindicare, Fire Dragons
Troops - 30 Tactical Marines, 10 Grey Knights, 10 Sisters of Battle, 20 Guardians, 16 Dire Avengers (with Wave Serpent), 6 Pathfinders
Fast Attack - 2 Landspeeders, 5 Assault Marines, 1 Hellhound, 3 Sentinels
Heavy Support - 1 Hyrda Flak Platform, 1 Flacon, 1 Predator

Assets: Scheduled Bombardment, On My Coordinates, Defence Lines, Tunnels & Eldritch Tempest

Forces of Disorder
Tyranids - Chaos - Necrons
*Not complete lists

2 Barbed Hierodules, 1 Harridan
2 Hive Tyrants + Guards, 10 Warriors
60+ Gaunts, Ripper Swarms & Genestealers
4 Raveners, 1 Lictor, 2 Zoanthropes, 3 Biovores, 1 Carnifex

1 Baneblade, 1 Hellblade(?) flyer, 3 Predators, 1 Leman Russ, 1 Defiler, 2 Basilisks, 1 Vindicator, 2 Dreadnaughts

3/4 Rhinos with Possessed, Berserkers etc.
9 Obliterators
1 Land Raider with Abaddon, Kharn & other nastyness, 1 Daemon Prince

2 Monoliths
3 Heavy Destroyers

Assets: Major Possession & Hold At All Costs


Deploying second, but winning the roll for board edge the FoO, who were largely Imperial at this point, choose to hunker down around the firebase (top end of first photo), adding their fortifications. Grey Knights and Wraithguard were deployed within the bunkers, ready to attempt to slow down the Tyranid monstrosities bearing down on them (including all the Monstrous Creatures & both Hierodules).

The first turn for the FoD was largely disappointing; the cover afforded by the fortifications frustrating their efforts immensely. They did however manage to destroy one of the two linked bunkers that made up the firebase, leaving the Grey Knights exposed for a first turn charge by winged warriors. Or at least they would have been, if some plucky Ratlings had not survived everything that was thrown at them (including a Hierodules strength 8 Hellstorm weapon - look at the 6 ones on the to wound roll below!). With the Ratlings taking the warrior charge the Grey Knights were left free to go Tyrant hunting next turn. Truly heroic stuff from the space Halflings!

Imperial Return fire was also less than impressive, largely due to a lack of heavy hitting weapons.

The FoD brought on their reserves, including the Harridan, Land Raider, Rhinos and plenty of Gaunts - due to their low model count most of thier units were already on the table from deployment. Using their speed, Chaos tanks in the central village locked down 2 objectives while the Hierodules occupied two more near the firebase and Tyranid Warriors controled a 5th in a swamp on the far opposite side of the board. This left the FoO with one objective at their side of the firebase with only thin line of Guard, Grey Knights and Battle Sisters holding the 'nids back. Things looked bleak for the FoO, even at this early stage of the game.

Can the Tyranid onslaught be stopped?

Time for some reinforcements...

A combined force of over 15 Imperial and Eldar tanks surged onto the battle field, ready to repel the enemy, while 10 of the Emperors finest Terminators destroyed the Heretic Baneblade in combat.

Imperial fire was immense, knocking out or destroying nearly all the Chaos armour pieces in the centre, and heavily damaging the 'nids around the swamp objective (largely due a suicidal Dire Avenger Bladestorm that knocked out most of the synapse in the area). Only the large Tyranids advancing on the firebase now seem unopposed.

The imposing silhouette of a Harridan looms over the few remaining defenders of the firebase, while the Hierodule and the mighty Avatar engage in combat.

As the battle raged on, a large force of Chaos Obliterators deepstriked around the center of the board, bolstering the Chaos forces holding on to the village, while further waves of gaunts moved towards the swamp. A surprise attack by Raveners and Chaos Dreadnaughts knocked out the 3 Imperial Leman Russes, leaving that side of the board largely free of the FoO. In response the FoO began a massed tank charge, supported by well placed scheduled bombardments & suicide chimeras (see my notes on 'On My Coordinates!'). This effort felled a Hierodule and gained them a foothold in the Village; but still the tally was 5 objectives to one. It seemed like a dramatic effort was required to swing the game away from the heralds of evil.

The battle hangs in the balance as the end draws near.

Committing the last of their reserves the FoO brought on a flank marching Windrider Host in order to hit the village from both sides. The Windriders did their best to destroy the Chaos defenders around an objective, and although a Chaos daemon prince survived long enough to rip apart a Farseer, the Jetbikers managed to push the Chaos bikers off the objective - claiming it tentatively for the FoO.

At the same moment the last of the Imperial Terminators, accompanied by Stormtroopers, deepstriked into the village in an attempt to gun down the obliterators buried deep in cover, and succeed in whittling down their numbers. Evidently coordinating itself with its Saim-Hann brothers, the Dire Avenger's Wave Serpent flew at full speed toward the village; heroically ramming a Chaos defiler in a stunning display of speed and power. This naturally ended with a battle cannon round tearing through the skimmer, which promptly crashed and killed just under half its Avenger cargo. Not quite what that driver had in mind. Despite this the survivors managed to bladestrom an Obliterator to death, and more importantly claimed the second village objective.

Things do not go quite as planned for the Wave Serpent and her crew...

At this point the battle drew to a close, and as the dust settled it was clear the Forces of Order had snatched a shaky draw from the jaws of defeat, largely due the lighting speed of the Wild Riders of the Saim-Hann, and the soild defences of the Praetorian Guard.

Unfortunately due to a late start and time constraints we couldn’t play past this point but a fun day was had by all. It was worth it just to see the sheer amount of models a 20000pts+ game entails - next time we will set aside a weekend. Hopefully we will also have some actual tables, as it was hard work on the back!

As for the Formations Vs. Legendary Units question, it seemed to me that a slight advantage was gained by the side using the Formations. Whilst they all had a huge impact on the game and where very scary to play against, the Super Heavies could not hamper the enemy quite so well as the Ambush asset or Fortifications did, nor allow the tactic flexibility that the Windriders and Cloudstrike provided. That said, we had 8 Formations Vs. 4 Legendary Units, perhaps if the numbers had been more equal then it would have been a different story.

Either way Apocalypse proved a lot of fun, as always. The lack of Super Heavy in my arsenal is bugging me now more than ever, I may be paying Forge World a visit very soon. I have always wanted a Marauder Destroyer after all….

Abaddon the Despoiler suffers the indignation of not only has his victory stolen from him, but also having to walk from his immobilized Land Raider. Khan was not best pleased...

Praetorian Guard: Apocalypse Tactics for the Imperial Guard

An Emperor's Fist Tank Squadron rumbles onto the battlefield.

After my recent apocalypse game, I had a few thoughts that I'd like to share with all those Imperial Generals out there.

The first and most crucial one has to be, buy Apocalypse Reload!

Compared to the Guard formations available in the main Apoc. rulebook, Reload contains far more goodness for most of us - I was able to jump from using 3 formations to 8 using only this new book.

I'm going to have a brief look at some of the new formations that I used, and what effect they had in our last game.

'Imperial Shield' Infantry Company
This formation requires that an Imperial General use 1 Guard Command Platoon & 3 Guard Platoons and, if you can muster up the models, is well worth it. The formation grants you 3 strategic assets: On My Coordinates!, Scheduled Bombardment & Defence Lines. While the benefit of the free Bombardment is obvious, I had thought I would get less out the other two assets - I was proved wrong.

On My Coordinates! effectively allows you to place an Apoc. orbital bombardment directly on any Guard model with a Vox Caster or Master Vox, once per turn. As well as being really in keeping with the background of the IG (and thus awesome), I found it is combined well with the 'Armoured First' Mechanised Platoon, which I will describe later. The cost of a Vox Caster for most of your units is well worth the fear it creates with the enemy, who suddenly become unwilling to close with your lines. It also creates those cinematic situations were the plucky Vox Caster himself survives!

Defence Lines is however the real jewel of this formation. I, like I imagine most IG players, do not have nearly enough Chimeras for all my squads, meaning the majority of my Guard are forced to footslog. This, given the large table sizes in Apoc. means that these Guard are better suited for defending your home objectives while any MEQ's etc. you have strike out at the enemy. Defence lines provides you with a large amount of free fortifications that you can place anywhere in your deployment zone. These fortifications grant a 3+ cover save. Watching the enemy's super heavies and tanks blunt their firepower on IG who suddenly have become MEQ's is fantastic, especially when weathering that first turn salvo. If possible try to use fortifications that will obscure your tanks, we had a predator survive 3 turns of point blank fire from a Baneblade, Leaman Russ & Defiler due to the 3+ save afforded by the defence lines. The frustration this causes the enemy is admittedly pretty enjoyable!

The only really downside of this Formation is its set up time. This formation is best brought out in initial deployment, as a general is going to want to avoid walking the Guard across the table and should rather take full advantage of his fortifications. However attempting to deploy (a minimum) of 75 Guardsmen as well as the Fortifications adds a large chunk to your deployment time, meaning you will often forgo the first turn. However, given the amount of 3+ cover you are afforded this is less of a trade off than it might otherwise be.

'Armoured Fist' Mechanise Company/Platoon

Not content with simply ramming the enemy, this Chimera contains a further present...

The Armoured Fist allows you to pool together your Chimera squads for bonus movement distance when they are in range of thier command tank. This is a nice bonus that helps your otherwise slow IG strike out for objectives and is a great perk for those out there with full mechanized IG.

In the course of my games I have also discovered an interesting tactic which, though not always the best trade off, is certainly very enjoyable! As 5th. Ed. removed the concept of transported units being 'out of play' (e.g. Troops can hold objectives from within their transport, or Psykers can cast from within their vehicles etc.) it is, in theory, possible to target a Vox Caster within a Chimera with 'On My Coordinates!'. What you effectively have now is a suicide taxi, capable of moving that little bit faster than normal. Given the strength and AP of the barrage this is a tactic best used against large groups of MEQ's and can really punch a hole, if luck is on your side. In addition, the strength of the attack gives your chimera a chance of surviving to fight another day, which is simply icing on the cake. The look of confusion on the face of an opponent who sees you charging forward your chimeras toward his Khorne Bezerkers is well worth the cost of an Armoured Fist Squad!

Catachan 'Death Trap' Ambush Patrol
A (minimum) of 3 Hardened Veterans Squads grants you a good few useful abilities and assets making this formation well worth its points. Primarily the granting of the 'Ambush' strategic asset helps takes your mind off that player who almost inevitably Flank Marches, and dissuades them from doing it again. Being able to whittle down that uber expensive reserve unit with sniper fire is also great (killing 6 Plague Marine Bikers in one go is not to be sniffed at)

In addition the ability to declare a different 12''x12'' area as dangerous terrain each turn can really slow down any massed Rhino Rush - the amount of vehicles in Apoc. means at least a few are likely to roll 1's and immobilise themselves.

A Tyranid Swarm finds itself advancing under massed sniper fire, only to stumble upon some dangerous terrain.

So there's a brief look at some of the new stuff available to all you Guard players out there. I must stress that, given its price, the new Apocalypse Reload book is well worth it. Do enjoy dropping warheads on your own troops - its the Guard way...

Friday, 1 August 2008

Dark Angels: Faces

So the Deathwing continue to be a long hard slog. However, I am enjoying to process (mostly) and I am really learning and developing my painting skills. A prime example of this has been my recent attempt at painting the face of my (soon to be) Deathwing Standard Bearer.

Despite having a large Imperial Guard army I have never really attempting painting a detailed face, considering it to be far beyond my abilities. However, determined not to ruin my Deathwing paint job I 'manned up' and started to conduct a few tests on some old marines, using the flesh paints I had available.

My first attempt, as expected, was less than pleasing! Effectively making the process up as I went along, I started with a white undercoat and then applied Dark Flesh. I then tried to build up highlights using Dwarf Flesh and then Elf Flesh.

Lt. Dan, proudly displaying his 1st degree burns. One wonders where his hand went...

My second try was more pleasing. A white undercoat was followed by a further coat of Tallarn Flesh Foundation Paint (leaving the eyes and teeth white). Highlights of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh followed as in my previous attempt. Apologies for the poor picture quality.

I found this a quick and simple method that produced good results. So, quite nervously I have to admit, I took my paint brush to a model I actually cared about. I've got to say I've impressed myself with what I managed:

So there you have it, my first detailed face. Developing your skills is one of the great joys of this hobby and I feel I've really made some progress with this model. The only problem with getting better is that you feel a need to go back and re-paint all your old figures! I have about 150 poorly painted guardsmen looking at me with envious eyes. But that is a project for next year!

Any further tips or hints would be appreciated.


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