Plague Brothers

Recently, I wrote an army list for a planned doubles tournament. The rules require two 900 point armies with no more than two copies of a single data sheet (excluding troops) in each list and no more than three copies of each data sheet across the two forces.

I knew immediately that I wanted to play Deathguard. I had a plan for a solid base of plague marine squads for objective holding while leaving the killing blow to my partner. My team mate was less certain what they wanted to play. We swung from a spawn/smite heavy Tzeentch list to a Scary Night Lords warband, via a couple of World Eaters forces (and some Iron Warriors, we really did try everything!).

Given the low points value, I decided that the Lord of Contagions was probably too expensive and didn’t really support the planned holding role. So I decided to go for a Chaos Lord in Terminator armour instead. The reroll ones to hit is likely to be more useful than the LoC aura of mortal wounds. Of course, given I just said I was trying to save points, I probably should have gone for the regular Chaos Lord as I have previously but for some reason I forgot they were a thing while writing the list.

In my initial list I went for a combi bolter and Balesword. Partly this was because I wanted to use the only Nurgle themed weapon on the list. It also gives me access to the Plaguebringer, if I decide to use it. The model I used for this is a blightlord terminator stood on the scenic base from a Chaos Terminator Lord.

(Sorry that the base wasn’t finished in this picture!)

The blightlord model was really fun to paint, although I began to suspect that the sculptor had deliberately put maggots in hard to spot places. Every time I looked I spotted another one I had missed!

When I looked at my army list I realised I was a little light on anti-tank (in particular because we were considering an allied World Eaters detachment at this point). To balance this out a little, I altered the wargear on the Lord to a powerfist/combi-melta set up. This, of course, required another model and so the second sibling was born.

This model was based on another blightlord terminator, with arms donated from a third along with and arm from a cataphractii terminator and a melta bit from the new Chaos Terminators. The base is from the 40k hero bases set.

This second sibling ended up even taller than the first.

I’m particularly pleased with the grey cloth, which I also used on my most recent plague marine squad. It’s a heavy application of Basilicanum Grey over Wraithbone.

With the current situation, the doubles tournament is delayed. Once we get back to playing, I’m not sure which sibling I will field. My head says the melta/fist is a better for for the list but I like both models so it may come down to what looks “right” on the table.

The Battle For Gaelos

As an attempt to get my partner hooked on Warhammer 40,000 we’re playing a narrative mini-campaign over the next few weeks/months.

The games will all use (roughly) the same 500 point lists, which are shown below. As my partner is new to the game we’ll be introducing the more advanced rules a few at a time.

The action will take place on and around the titular planet of Gaelos. Gaelos is a barren rocky planet dotted with hive cities. At the start of the campaign a chaos cult uprising has begun and the hives are under siege. Supporting the uprising are the forces of the Iron Warriors led by Captain Sever Shon-tu. Meanwhile, the closest imperial force is the task force of Dark Angels Interrogator Chaplain Tigrane.

The Iron Warriors force is focused around an autocannon equipped Havoc squad and a Helbrute.

++ Patrol Detachment (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [32 PL, 498pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Legion: Iron Warriors

  • HQ [5 PL, 79pts] +

Exalted Champion [5 PL, 79pts]: No Chaos Mark, Plasma pistol [5pts], Power sword [4pts]

Chaos Cultists [6 PL, 58pts]: No Chaos Mark
. 11x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon [44pts]
. Chaos Cultist w/ special weapon [10pts]: Flamer [6pts]
. Cultist Champion [4pts]: Brutal assault weapon and Autopistol

  • Troops [14 PL, 207pts] +

Chaos Space Marines [8 PL, 149pts]: No Chaos Mark
. Aspiring Champion [16pts]: Bolt pistol, Power axe [5pts]
. 7x Marine w/ Boltgun [77pts]
. Marine w/ Heavy or Special Weapon [31pts]: Missile launcher [20pts]
. Marine w/ Heavy or Special Weapon [25pts]: Meltagun [14pts]

  • Elites [6 PL, 102pts] +

Helbrute [6 PL, 102pts]: Helbrute fist [20pts], Multi-melta [22pts], No Chaos Mark

  • Heavy Support [7 PL, 110pts] +

Havocs [7 PL, 110pts]: No Chaos Mark
. Aspiring Champion [14pts]: Boltgun, Chainsword
. 4x Havoc w/ autocannon [96pts]: 4x Autocannon [40pts]

++ Total: [32 PL, 498pts] ++

Meanwhile the Dark Angels force is built around a backbone of tactical marines supported by a Ravenwing Landspeeder Typhoon.

++ Patrol Detachment (Imperium – Dark Angels) [29 PL, 493pts] ++

  • Configuration +

Chapter Selection: Dark Angels

  • HQ [5 PL, 91pts] +

Interrogator-Chaplain [5 PL, 91pts]: Catechism of Fire, Combi-plasma [11pts]

  • Troops [14 PL, 240pts] +

Tactical Squad [9 PL, 152pts]: 7x Space Marine [84pts]
. Heavy Weapon Marine [28pts]: Plasma cannon [16pts]
. Space Marine Sergeant [17pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [5pts]
. Special Weapon Marine [23pts]: Plasma gun [11pts]

Tactical Squad [5 PL, 88pts]: 4x Space Marine [48pts]
. Space Marine Sergeant [17pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [5pts]
. Special Weapon Marine [23pts]: Plasma gun [11pts]

  • Fast Attack [6 PL, 87pts] +

Ravenwing Land Speeders [6 PL, 87pts]
. Ravenwing Land Speeder [6 PL, 87pts]: Heavy bolter [10pts], Typhoon missile launcher [32pts]

  • Dedicated Transport [4 PL, 75pts] +

Rhino [4 PL, 75pts]: Hunter-killer missile [6pts], Storm bolter [2pts], Storm bolter [2pts]

++ Total: [29 PL, 493pts] ++

I’ll follow this up with the first battle report shortly.

Both lists created with BattleScribe (https://battlescribe.net)

More Plague Marines!

I’ve recently started altering the Plague Marine units in my lists to include a couple of models armed with the flail of corruption. These weapons trade the standard bolt gun for a double handed melee weapon. The flail grants d3 attack rolls per attack (so 2d3 on the charge thanks to the latest rules updates for marines of all flavours). These attacks at at high strength with decent AP and cause 2D each. Importantly any “leftover” damage isn’t wasted – like mortal wounds it carries over to the next model.

Putting two of these in my standard 7 man squads loses me two bolter shots but gives the unit something that will both clear chaff and threaten heavy infantry.

Unfortunately, the Plague Marines box only comes with one of these weapons. In addition, I seem to have a thing for converting EtB and starter set models to see what I can get out of them.

This time I converted four of the seven Plague Marines from Dark Imperium to wield flails savaged from Chaos Marauders and Empire Flagellants. One of the remaining models is most of the way to being an icon bearer and another is no a plague champion. The only model not used so far is the original champion who’s powerfist is quite difficult to remove.

The parts in green were from left over EtB Plague Marines while the icon bearers arm is from a beastmen Gor box. A little bit of greenstuff to cover joins and extend a cloak was all that was left to do.

I should also give credit to Buttscribe whose site produces the datasheet shown above from battlescribe files.

Now I have quite a large stack of painting to do (again!).

+++The blood of convertors is the blood of the Imperium+++

Death Guard Chaos Lord Conversion

A while ago I posted a 40k Death Guard/Daemons of Nurgle list I was working towards. As part of that list I had a Death Guard Chaos Lord rather than the more expensive/less flexible Lord of Contagions.

Chaos Lord [5 PL, 82pts]: 3. Tainted Regeneration, Balesword, Combi-bolter, Warlord

I mentioned at the time that I intended to convert a model to reflect these wargear choices (4 shots with bolter drill!). I have now completed the conversion and painted him up to tabletop standard (minus a few touch ups where I went over the edges).

The model began life as an easy build Plague Marine. The arms and head were removed along with the backpack. The new arms, shoulder pads and backpack came from the MKIII space marine set. Meanwhile, the head came from a Plaguebearer in the Plague Drones of Nurgle set. The combibolter was two MKIII bolters spliced together and the Balesword was a repurposed sword from the original EtB Plague Marine.

Painting wise my Death Guard are a slightly darker green than the ones normally shown in GW publications. I use Waaagh Flesh as the base colour for the armour. Otherwise I largely follow the excellent guide from Tale of Painters on blogspot.

The mutations and flesh follow the guide for pale flesh in the Warhammer paint app. The ragged flesh around the belly wound is the inflamed flesh from the same app.

I have just about finished modelling the Daemon prince (which was the reason I had the Plague Drones lying around) so I’ll post that when I’m happy with it. Then I need to focus on painting all of the troops choices.

+++Thought for the day: The Emperor created the space marines so he didn’t have to spend so much time painting imperial guardsmen+++

A Tale of Two Kings (and a Prince) – Kingmaker

This week I was fortunate enough to have time to be part of a three player game of the classic tabletop game Kingmaker. Kingmaker was released in the mid 1970s and allows a (potentially quite large) group of players to fight out the medieval Wars of the Roses.

The game is very rare now and has been out of print for decades. We were able to find a complete copy at the bring and buy sale at the Airecon convention in 2017.

The game is very detailed, to the point of simulationist and has some fairly unintelligible rules at times but once you get going it really captures the drama of the historical conflict. Players regularly shift allegiance, plagues strike down mighty armies and storms ruin your carefully laid plan to sail to safety.

The politics of the game are extremely tense. There are no sides and no shared victory so every alliance is temporary. With larger numbers of players things can become a Byzantine mess of favours and feuds. Parliament in particular can lead to very bitter rivalries developing.

If you are thinking that this sounds like Game of Thrones then I’d agree with you. It’s widely acknowledged that the Wars of the Roses were a major influence on George R R Martin’s series. I would also say that the GoT board game is the closest comparison to Kingmaker that I can think of.

Our game (due to a combination of time constraints and the well know stubbornness of the players) resulted in a draw. Player 1 had grabbed Richard of York, killed of most of his family to prevent them becoming rivals to the throne, crowned him in Chester and then fled to the Isle of Man. I meanwhile had initially attempted to recapture Richard near York but eventually was driven south where I stormed London and seized King Henry and set about claiming the Midlands. Player three meanwhile had suffered several major setbacks (he lost his most powerful nobles in almost every battle he fought) made his way to France and collected the final remaining Yorkist royal.

The sense of drama was present throughout the game and I feel it created a story I will remember for a long time. The emergent narrative in games is one of the strongest reasons for me to play (regardless of format).

I’d highly recommend taking any chance you get to play or own Kingmaker. I would also like to add my voice to the (bedraggled, bearded and mostly aging) choir asking “Where is the rerelease?”.

Nurgle Allied Army List

I’ve been working on a Nurgle list for Warhammer 40000 recently. My initial plan formed around Epidemius’ Tally of Pestilence ability in a mixed Nurgle Daemons/Death Guard list.

I’ve never played a great deal of Chaos Daemons so I didn’t want to go 100% warp creatures. As an aside I’m not sure how I would hold backfield objectives in a Nurgle Daemon list. I have a fair sized force of Death Guard so adding them in seemed like a good idea.

A key factor here is that many units in the Death Guard list, in particular the deamon vehicles, have the Daemon key word and so can interact with abilities that target this keyword. Tally of Pestilence is one such power. Essentially, for each unit destroyed by a Nurgle Daemon units all friendly Nurgle Daemon units gain power.

The Daemon detachment is a cheap CP farm and a vehicle to bring Epidemius into the army. The nurglings can either form a shield for more useful units by deploying in the main force or can use their forward deployment to prevent enemy deepstrike/alphastrike or tie up enemy guns.

From the Death Guard list the (cheap) Chaos lord and Plague Marines will form the central push along with the hellbrute for anti-tank duties.

Meanwhile the Daemon Prince and Bloat Drones will form a rapid strike force to hand out damage where needed. Being flyers they can even escape melee to continue shooting.

The pox walkers will mostly form a body guard for Epidimus or be used to hold a back field objective.

I’m not sure this list will be competitive (although I have hopes for it in my local meta) but I think it will be fun to play. Each part has a purpose and I look forward to seeing how far I can push Nurgle’s favour.

Modelling wise the Chaos lord and the Daemon Prince will be heavily converted and I’ll hopefully post something about them at a later date.

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos – Daemons) [17 PL, 322pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Chaos Allegiance: Nurgle

+ HQ +

Epidemius [5 PL, 100pts]

Sloppity Bilepiper [3 PL, 60pts]

+ Troops +

Nurglings [3 PL, 54pts]: 3x Nurgling Swarms

Nurglings [3 PL, 54pts]: 3x Nurgling Swarms

Nurglings [3 PL, 54pts]: 3x Nurgling Swarms

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [68 PL, 1170pts] ++

+ HQ +

Chaos Lord [5 PL, 82pts]: 3. Tainted Regeneration, Balesword, Combi-bolter, Warlord

Daemon Prince of Nurgle [9 PL, 180pts]: 1. Miasma of Pestilence, Malefic talon, Wings

+ Troops +

Plague Marines [10 PL, 131pts]
. Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plague knife, Power fist
. 5x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Plague Marines [10 PL, 131pts]
. Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plague knife, Power fist
. 5x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Poxwalkers [3 PL, 60pts]: 10x Poxwalker

+ Elites +

Helbrute [7 PL, 112pts]: Helbrute hammer, Multi-melta

+ Fast Attack +

Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 158pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe

Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 158pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe

Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 158pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe

++ Total: [85 PL, 1492pts] ++

Tachyon Squadron – First Impressions

I’ve finally found time to read through the Tachyon Squadron rules from Clark Valentine/Evil Hat. The blurb promises a rules set for space fighter combat and a military sci-fi setting. While the second of those is fairly common, it was the space combat rules that had me excited when I first read about this book.

Tachyon Squadron is a supplement for the FATE core system (available as pay what you want on drivthrurpg or at the Evil Hat website). It doesn’t cover the basic rules of FATE but it does alter the rules to better fit the setting.

Content:

The first chapter provides an overview of the setting and genre. In short the players are civilian volunteers defending a peaceful neighbouring space nation from an aggressive empire. The setting is well written but the game rules could equally see use for Battlestar Galactica, Rogue Squadron, White Wizards Games Star Realms or Top Gun.

The character creation chapter helps players build interesting characters. It makes sure that the characters aren’t merely meatbags piloting a ship – their skills and personality are hugely important.

The following two chapters add to or alter the skills and stunts available. The skills list is altered make all available skills useful to the pilots. The stunts chapter has a section on gear stunts that I enjoyed.

“Engagements” adds the new rules for space fighter dogfights. These rules are really a highlight for me and demonstrate how a “rules light” system can still create tension, drama and, importantly, meaningful decision making in combat. The basic premise is that combat is split into zones based on the initiative and momentum of the pilots. Certain maneuvers can move you up or down the list. Other rules include technology related to space fighters and there is also a section on fighter pilot slang terms.

This is followed by a more detailed description of the setting and a chapter describing the day to day life of pilots and what they get upto in their spare time. These events are actually key to the recovery of damaged pilots and ships among other options. I can imagine Galactica’s Starbuck “Raising Hell” as part of her recovery routine.

Next comes a chapter of GM advice and tools followed by a chapter of ships and NPCs. The stat blocks for ships are very clear and contain a wealth of information. The ship’s damage tracks cause the loss of systems etc as they progress until eventually the pilot must bail out.

The final three chapters contain a set of pre-generated player characters and two scenarios. The final chapter gives a list of influences, no prizes for guessing many of the names present.

Final thoughts:

I bought this book excited about the ship combat rules and I wasn’t disappointed. They are slick and evocative and look like great fun! As mentioned above the rules can be transposed to any number of settings and that was my original intention. However, the setting presented in the book has caught my imagination as well.

The rules are well thought out and beautifully presented. The product is of the same high quality I associate with the entire FATE line. Despite having emerged during a difficult time for Evil Hat, this may be one of my favourite FATE books yet, highly recommended!

Kill Team: Code breakers

Death Guard Vs Astra Militarum

We played the kill team arena mission codebreakers. Both sides have to “tag” objectives to control them – controlling half the objectives scores you one point a turn while controlling more than half scores you two points.

Astra Militarum (Cadians)

Sergeant with chainsword and las pistol (Leader)

Guardsman (Comms)

Gunner with grenade launcher (Heavy)

Gunner with flamer (demolitions)

Gunner with grenade launcher

14 guardsman

Death Guard

Plague Champion with powerfist, plague knife and bolt pistol (Leader)

Plague Marine Gunner with plasma gun (Demolitions)

Plague Marine Gunner with Blight Launcher (Heavy)

Poxwalker (Zealot)

4 Pox walkers

2 Plague Marines

The Cadian Astra Militarum deployed in two large groups with all of their special weapons (two grenade launchers and a flamer) plus their comms specialist and leader on the right hand side sending them down the long corridor towards the Death Guard’s rear objective.

The Death Guard likewise split into two groups, with a lone Plague Marine (made the chosen of grandfather Nurgle using a pregame stratagem) leading two poxwalkers towards the weaker group of Cadians while the Plague Champion took the remaining Marines and pox walkers to face the main Cadian attack.

On the left hand flank the Death Guard took the fight to the enemy advancing towards the Cadians near the objectives. The Chosen of Nurgle Plague Marine used his grenades to good effect and weathered a storm of enemy fire without injury.

On the right hand side the Imperials took the initiative and ran towards the chaos lines. Two pox walkers formed an effective barrier and contained the majority of the Cadians in the long corridor for much of the game.

For the first three turns the sides traded points from their side missions without threatening the main objectives aside from a lone Cadian who fell quickly in melee with a Plague Marine.

In the final turn both sides made rushes on the opposing objectives. In the Death Guard case this was a by product of collecting all of the bounty hunter points from the slain enemy models (from the bounty hunt side mission) but the situation was recovered by a cleverly disengaged guardsman. The Cadians made a more deliberate effort with a combination between a single guardsman and the orders from the sergeant leading to a very long run from the guardsman only to be stopped at the last moment by rapid fired plasma. The rest of the Cadians attempted to bring down the plasma weilding specialist in order to score their high value targets mission but despite 3 lasguns, two grenade launchers a flamer and a krak grenade he emerged with a single flesh wound.

At this point the Death Guard’s nerve broke but too late for the Imperials as the game ended leaving the final score at 10-8 to the Death Guard.

This game highlighted again the dangers of getting trapped in the tight confines of the arena maps. It also impressed on us how much fire power a Plague Marine can withstand, even in the open. The game was a tense affair with prolonged fire fights and brutal close combat ending with some desperate dashes towards objectives. Throughout the game there was never more than two victory points separating the two sides. All in all it was a great game and we’re looking forward to playing again.

Victory to the Death Guard!

Dice Masters: Battle for Ultramar – First Impressions

I’ve never played a dice masters game before. Today we received my order of the Warhammer 40000 themed dice masters campaign box Battle for Ultramar. We’ve played the intro game twice – more on our experience below.

Previous sets of dice masters have involved random distribution of cards and dice in sealed packs. A major change for the Warhammer release was the move to campaign boxes and faction expansions with set content. This was a big motivation for me considering starting the game as I have really gone off random distribution card games (Fantasy Flight Games have spoiled me).

Dice masters is a bit like a hybrid of magic the gathering and roll for the galaxy. It combines pregame deck building and in game dice drafting while both players attempt to eliminate the other by reducing them to zero life.

While I’ve played magic the gathering and many other competitive card games before my partner hasn’t. She has always been put off, in part, by the complexity (or rather time requirements) of preparing a deck. It was nice to see a game where, at least initially, only a small number of choices of which card to include are required.

On with the game: the tutorial game is 50% the size of a regular game having less life and fewer cards in each side. The suggested set up has a fairly fast hitting Ultramarines combo facing a Death Guard pair of plague marines and a very expensive Typhus. So far we have played once each way with the more balanced Ultramarines scoring a major victory in both cases. I think in a full game this will be very different but it’s a shame the designers didn’t write a more balanced tutorial.

The game play is fairly easy to understand after a couple of turns, but even in this mini game there were some opportunities for very tactical decision making. There are several places online that do a very good job of explaining the rules so I won’t go into more detail here. The rules can also be downloaded for free from the WizKids website.

We both enjoyed the game, although I think I enjoyed it more both due to my past experience of this kind of game and my love of the Warhammer 40000 universe. The game play is fast and exciting with no stage feeling to bogged down.

I think the deck building aspect will keep me interested for quite a while despite the low number of cards per deck. I plan to stick to Warhammer sets but I don’t think there is any reason you can’t take Iron Man and Typhus in the same deck. One of the main reasons I got the game was because I’d heard that a Dark Angels set is coming with the next round of releases so I’ll certainly be adding that.

I have read that some people has encountered quality control problems, receiving sets missing one or more components or with crooked dice. The box we received was perfect. It was interesting to note that one of the cards shown in the tutorial game does not exist in the set but there is a card with a different name and identical rules text.

In summary, our experience so far has been very good. The quality of the set is (perhaps surprisingly) very high. The game play is fast and fun as well as evocative of the setting. The designers Mike Elliot and Eric Lang have good form for writing great games so this is what I expected. I’m looking forward to playing more games and will likely expand our collection with the next campaign pack (Eldar Vs Deamons) and of course the Dark Angels. I’ll update this once we’ve played a few more games but so far I thoroughly recommend it.

Ruin Masters Kickstarter

I recently (as in today) backed a Kickstarter for the RPG Ruin Masters from RiotMinds. I have backed their projects in the past and I haven’t been disappointed.

Ruin Masters is a classic style RPG about dungeon crawling and fighting in a fantasy world. The game has been popular in Sweden for many years apparently but this is the first time I’ve come across it.

The system sounds fairly light but with some depth to decision making in combat etc. The art, as usual from RiotMinds, looks fantastic.

If you want to back the Kickstarter it can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1256540796/ruin-masters

Previous games from RiotMinds have been picked up by various games stores so hopefully it will also be available post Kickstarter.