Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Snow Patrol: Chapter 3

Snow Patrol Chapter 3
Part 1: Something missing

The grating trudge ended with the first of three Kochi outposts.  The small raised mound was only identifiable by its global position and snuggled into the tundra.  Surrounding the outpost was a clearing of some hundred and a half yards. 

Corporal Geffin motioned a halt for beta two zero and had his second in command spread the men out through the woodland edges.  He jogged over to where the ancillary Irregular units were crouched. Settling down next to these Kochi sapper veteran unit, Geffin felt at home.  He'd been promoted to the Saps eighteen months earlier.  Recognition for a particularly bloody but effective assault on a tau skimmer tank.  

He'd felt at home with these veterans, his own combat capabilities blossoming in such competitive and hard nosed surroundings.  After completing his tour of duty with this unit, he had chosen to return to the regulars.  It was an unusual choice, after all, within eight tours he may have warranted promotion to the Kochi Grenadiers, but Geffin wanted command, and the only way to command was through the regulars and the officer training corp.  So he'd swapped.

Two of the six Kochi sappers he knew. Corporal Mendark was a swarthy black man of middling years.  A good deal of his strength and muscle had run to fat, but he more than compensated for it with a canny eye for the enemy and a wealth of battle hardened experience.  Mendark nodded solemnly to Geffin and retuned his smile.  The veteran corporal was absently hefting his hellpistol, irratically tightening his grip on the grip. Never a good sign, Munk's nerves was obviously spreading.   Geffin was pleased to see that the vets had swapped their jungle attire for some heatmake wrappings and lightweight over gear.

The other veteran was less of a friendly sight, while the other irregulars mimicked Mendark's nod of welcome.  Private Pat Ratrick gave no such quarter.  His stare was hard and as cold as the frosted bark.  A slight sneer affected the privates lip. The remnant squad's grenade launcher handler was a prickly and overbearing personality.  Geffin thought back to Toftsk own behaviour and wondered whether something in his own nature attracted these sort of golden thronestools.  Patrick held an unpleasently high opinion of his own superiority, backed up by a violent and sadistic nature.  Geffin had experienced run-ins with Ratrick before, and the dislike was mutual.  Only now, Geffin was senior.

Two of the other vets hefted flamers.  The three irregular grenadiers Munk had given him had followed him over like a small bodyguard.  Now Hunt spoke, he had the solid clipped voice born to the military.  His hellgun pulsed softly in the dark.

'Corporal, we're getting no radio response from the bunker.  If there's anyone in there they're either not replying, or are incapable. Sir.' Geffin glanced across at the solid bulk of Hendark and the Corporal grinned in the darkness.  'I know what you're thinking Geffin, but lets take one step at a time.  Royale here,' he indicated a sapper to his right with a broken nose. 'He's sniffed out the perimeter, landmine's active and the motion detectors are on.  That tells us that that camp operational even if the commanders sleeping.  Which I doubt.' Mendark raised one eyebrow.

'You know the Officer out there?' inquired 
Geffin flicking some stray powdered snow off his weathered knee guards.  

"I know of him.  Met him once, but he ain't no officer.  Corporal.  Dour, miserable sort, but competent.  Unlikely to be caught napping.'  The veteran NCO thumbed a hand towards the bunker. 'You want to go over and take a look.  Us sappers been itching for some nervous work all night.  Place is too quiet.  Fancy some company?"

It was Geffin's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Just like old times eh? Fine."  The prospect of action had his blood up.  Already the cold was abating.  Geffin pointed at one of the grenadiers, "Jones, right?" the man nodded behind his facemask.  "Can you relay back to my second, vice-corporal Burrows that their to spread out and camp down.  I want sentries posted and a patrol sent out three hundred yards east and west of our position." 

"Understood sir." The grenadier's voice growled through the vox, Geffin was surprised to hear a guttural lower foundry accent, it reminded him of home.  The armoured veteran turned and jogged off towards the regular's lines, stopping briefly with Burrows before moving on.

Mendark slapped his fellow NCO in the shoulder as he raised his considerable bulk off his knees.  Geffin grinned until he noticed Ratrick's scowl behind the veteran commanders back.  Looks like he was in for a long night.


Geffin ducked his head low and scuttled across the intervening snow.  The logical part of his brain rallying continuously against his more instinctual fear.  Crossing a land mine was his least favourite occupation, but the sapper specialist seemed confident, and more comforting Corporal Mendark seemed satisfied.

Geffin glanced over at the sprinting Mendark.  He remembered the first time he'd seen the great man run, and his astonishment over how such bulk could glide at a competent speed.  He was even more perturbed at how the larger man made so little noise as he ran.  Mendark was leading his veterans to the nearer main entrance while Geffin led his two bodyguard to the rear.  They weren't expecting trouble, but had prepared for it.  Geffin had unholstered his standard issue chainsword and las pistol while Mendark had proudly drawn his plasma pistol from its holster.

He could feel his breath in his lungs and he pounded up to the bunker side, halting suddenly as the two grenadiers landed up beside him.  He motioned them to either side of the bulkhead door, and with shivering fingers he triggered the door access.

The grenadiers moved seemlessly through the hole, hellrifles raised.  Geffin followed them in.  They search frantically from empty lit room to room, but the only thing alive in the bunker was MenDark's team coming the other way.  

"There's no blood, no disruption.  It's like they abandoned their post, but that not like Hammound at all." he glared around, as if blaming the furniture.  Geffin was about to reply when something caught his eye, the only thing out of place was the controls for the bunker defenses, they were slashed and broken - as if someone had performed it from the inside.  Looking up, Geffin's surprised eyes met Mendarks.

"Emperor bless us..." Geffin muttered.  Outside the crack of fire announced the opening gambit.  It was a trap.

Snow Patrol Chapter 3
Part 2: Trap!

Something wasn't agreeing with private Penrose.  He felt rotten throughout the march, some alien bug had him dry then sweating, hot then cold.  He really just wanted a quiet place to lie down.  Currently, some blasted alien influensa had him bent over double spitting out the last of his dinner as he dry-retched into the base of a large tree.  Hacking riles of urging lurches surge up his diaphram as he strained again and again.  With such base urges at work, it was a while before the spasms abated.  He reached gingerly for his rifle and stepped back haltingly from the tree.  Half suspecting a relapse, slow welling relief moved through him.  Maybe he had this bug kicked after all.

Then he heard a clack above him.  It wasn't a sound of the forest.  He froze.

Penrose clutched his rifle tighter to his beating chest as he looked up. Above him he could sense the shape of braced bodies in the swirling snow canopy. His first thought to run, but his legs shook too much and wouldn't move. “In the trees...” he mumbled through cracked lips, his panic consuming him. He span towards the others, and his voiced seemed to croak like a gasping corpse. 

VC Burrows grimaced at the retching sounds Penrose was making. His own bile already well risen and the tidemark was floating in the back of his throat. Grimacing up at Penrose, he opened his mouth to tell the corporal to pull himself together. He stopped at the look of helplessness in Penrose's abandoned features. 

Penrose spoke, “They’re all around us in the tr...” On the edge of finishing his words a hooked blade split Penrose's helmet and slid with a wet crack into his skull. With a horrific slowness blood welled up around the hilt of the blade as Penroses features strove to express the unique sensation made as the serrated edge skewered his brain cavity. The squad stared in astonishment as Penrose's shaking body soiled itself. His eyes seemed to bulged slightly and a rivulet of blood seeped from his nose to his lips. His tounge lapped out at the blood greedily, smeering his top lip. 

A lean black shadow dropped down behind its convulsing vistim. With a lightning flick it jerked the sticky blade out of Penroses head. There was a wet pop as the blade came free, and a spray of compressed blood. Penroses body piroetted slowly and slumped head first at the feet of his killer, his dead face craking loudly against the trunk of the tree. 

A shower of powder and lumps of snow impacted around the guard unit as dark shapes dropped from the trees around their clustered group. The terrified humans' feet slipping on the rigid blood of their dead collegues, the pooled ichor frozen solid in the howling winds. A score of horrific Kroot carnivores rose from the swirling shadows around them, dire fetishes and unmentionable bodily trophies adorning their leather and fur hide clothing. As one, the Kroots snarled at the human prey, their bloody maws displaying rough rows of serated teeth.

“Open fire!” screamed Burrows.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Something Special

Guard Heavy and Special Weapon teams face down the might of the Alaitoc BattleForce.

Imperial Guard Special Weapon Tactica
by Suneokun

The Guard have many shortfalls.  Low toughness, poor basic weaponry, a poor selection of armour piercing weaponry, poor and over priced close combat options, over complicated and restrictive doctrines, the list goes on and on.  In several key areas however, guard can bring more weaponry, armour and firepower pain to bear than any other force.

Armour, Numbers and Special Weapons

In previous diatribes I've already exalted the power and potential of the body and backbone of the Guard force. The Tanks and the Troops.  With a maximum selection of 384 troops and the possibility of fielding up to 13 tanks under the normal codex (1 HQ Chug, 6 Platoon HQ Chugs, 3 Elite Option Chugs, 3 Hellhounds and 3 Heavy Support tanks - tada!) this amounts to an astonishing 54 weapons (3 ordinance, 3 template, 13 defensive (heavy stubber), 3 lascannons and 32 heavy bolter and multilasers.  That's a lot of shots.  But this posting isn't about men or machinery, its about the tactics involved in using special weapons effectively.

Special Thoughts

One of the joys of commanding guard is playing with the composition of special weapons throughout the units.  Guard players constantly tweak they're special weapon outlays.  The problem with guard special weapons is that they are each so good, the balance of benefit to price so correct it's difficult to choose.  First lets look at the weapons themselves, then explore the tactical options available.

Flamer: the lowly flamer, at only 6pts, has been elevated to new heights by the rules changes of 5th Edition.  What the Imperial Guard lack in close combat edge, they more than make up for with sheer numbers and a roaring gush of promethium!  It's no accident that the flamer is perfectly suited to 'giving it to' horde armies such as Tyranids or Orks.  Where armour saves are undone and toughness is tackled by this tenacious weapon.  The beauty of this weapon is that there is no 'roll to hit' making it a ranged waste for veterans and storm troopers but the weapon of choice for the inaccurate conscript.  

Grenade Launcher: The most versatile of the weapons available.  The grenade launcher has the advantage of reasonable anti-MEQ power and excellent assault range combined with the potential to rain a hail of devastating hail of frag grenade amongst the Orks, Tyranids and Eldar.  The other advantage of the grenade launcher is that in being slightly less effective (although cheap and devastating in numbers) it gets ignored when compared to the next two weapons...

Melta: Nothing makes enemy tanks more nervous than this little beauty.  Unlike the Eldar, we don't have to buy a whole squad of overpriced fire dragons.  The simple addition of a meltagun in a basic squad is enough to discourage a vehicle from getting too need.  Particularly useful against Dreadnoughts and wraithlords.

Plasma: 'When you absolutely, positively have to kill every last MEQ in the room, accept no substitute!'  Gamblers choice - What could be better for a self immolating gun than to give it to the cheapest soldier available.  He probably won't last the battle, but hey, he's a guardsman carrying a kick ass weapon - so he probably wouldn't last the battle anyway.  Some guard commanders go mental with this baby (but don't forget that it is a points sink).  

Sniper Rifle: Ok, so you can only take them in Special Weapon teams and under certain doctrines (light infantry), but they are good.  The only downside is that they are best in numbers, and the best snipers available are ratling snipers. The new rules aren't great for the sniper rifle - nerfing it a little - I'd recommend the other special weapons over these rifles.

Demolition Charge: This is one of the funniest weapons to use.  Like the flamer it lacks range and is a bullet magnet, but when it lands on a crop of smurfs - who's laughing now.  Effectively a 6" range battle cannon that might kill you - great!


Infiltration: This is available to vets, ratlings and stormtroopers as standard, but also to all units via the light infantry doctrine.  Useful for three things, positioning heavy weapon teams from turn one, positioning ratlings for sniper roles and placing Stormies and Vets in 'speed bump' position.  With 5th edition, the introduction of 'healthier' drop troop rules and kinder 'no roll up' close combat rules makes speed bumps a waste of your best units.  The best weapon for infiltration has got to be a combination of the grenade launcher and the meltagun - offering cost effective 'harassment' and an anti-tank punch.  Oh and the sniper rifle of course.

Flanking: Now this is more like it.  Taking Light Infantry doctrine means your whole army can flank.  The only special weapons without flanking potential are the grenade launcher and the sniper rifle.  Melta and Plasma excel at this in anti tank and 'catch 'em with their pants down' mode.  Flamers are essential for storming the objectives placed adjacent to the right board edge and the Demolition Charge can kill a whole squad of Devastators in one throw. 

Assaulting: Flamers are essential in this role.  Providing the close range, in cover punch absent from the guards close combat role.  Plasma and Melta may be required for MEQ killing, but if the objectives in cover, the flamer is king.  Plus, you know that the first guard squad going in 'over the top' will be mulched - so don't waste those 10 points.  Hand out the frag grenades and get torching...

Covering Fire: coming in behind the assaulting squad, a crack team of 4 grenade launchers and a storm bolter lieutenant will give you maximum move and fire 24" volleys.  Add in a targeter on the officer stormbolter and you'll have range every time.

Deterrence: For those too young to remember, in the Cold war 'deterrence' was the watch-word.  The promised of Mutually Assured Destruction (yes it was called MAD) meant the Soviets and Americans stood off at arms length.  The addition of plasma and especially melta gives serious anti-personnel and anti-tank scare factor to your basic units.  Nothing is as pleasant as watching a big hard tank back up away from your little man with a deadly gun.

Weapons of Choice:
  • Flamer: Tyranids, Daemons and Orks, anything else in range.
  • Grenade Launcher: Eldar, Dark Eldar and Tau.
  • Melta: Tanks, Walkers, Monstrous Creatures, Heroes.
  • Plasma: SMURFs, CSM, Necrons.
  • Sniper: Low Armoured Adversaries and Monstrous Creatures.
  • Demolition Charge: Large Squad of heavily armoured MEQs.
Unit combinations

Command Squads: The combination of 3 plasma guns and a medic are particularly tempting as they offer significant fire power, plus a save from one 'get's hot' roll per player turn. Alternatively, 4 grenade launchers and a storm bolter offer fantastic, cheap fire power.  A command squad of flamers are fantastic for flanking, but are a one-trick pony and once they've captured the objective are very vulnerable. Melta guns are a waste in command squads as they make the squad too 'hot' without the benefit of the plasma/medic combination.

Special Weapons Teams: Just like command squads, I find melta and plasma makes special weapon teams too 'hot' for enemies to pick off.  I tend to go for covering fire grenade launchers with the added punch of a demolition charge ('cause I love 'em). 

Troops: I focus on melta and plasma in the troops selection.  After all these weapons give real punch to the troops and are far harder to 'whittle out' in these larger units.  I usually back up the troops with grenade launcher toting command squads to give covering fire. Flamers are a cheap option, but I usually reserve the flamers for remnant squad (thanks Drax for that suggestion) and the conscripts where they can slip through the come to the front for the much needed charge.

Elites: Some people take flamers in veteran squads, which I see as a complete waste.  Plasma and melta are definitely the way to go with these guys when they are in a flanking role.  If your veterans are supporting your main body of troops, then grenade launchers will give you a definite edge in range, although they'll lack the punch of plasma.  For storm troopers, it's hard not to go with a plasma/melta combination.  Although that said, in both cases, you can sometimes surprise a weaker enemy with a dual flamer and power sword assault.


Special Weapons form the grit in the mill of your offensive troop movements.  I keep static heavy weapons and mobile special weapons separate and take the fight to the enemy.  Remember that special weapons turn what are very hum-drum troops into a force to be reckoned with and give them the extra bite that can turn a battle in your favour.  Use them wisely.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Snow Patrol: Chapter 2

Snow Patrol: Chapter 2 - Part 1: Memories

It was at some point during this long endless night that Geffin realised that he was truly happy.  He had been half listening to Granthem's explanation of Munk's shootout with the Tau scouts at 'The Hill' (as he called it), when this curious realisation surfaced.  Geffin's head was nodding subtly to encourage Granthem as he plowed inartistically through his account.  The heavy, foot-by-foot trudge of his units slow march capturing an unconscious rhythm to his own head movements, so that it bobbed infrequently.

As the thought emerged into the warm recesses of his meandering mind, Geffin embraced the realisation like a child's toy or long forgotten memento.  At first he couldn't fathom where such a feeling had burst from.  This cosy pride, a satisfying self fulfilling hug that came from this spark of thinking and spread about him like the warmth of a rosy fire.  

A slow heartfelt smile spread across the Corporal's face.  Granthem, glancing over, returned it, pleased that his story was having such an effect.  To Geffin, Granthem could have been reading the assault report summaries for all the content of his monologue affected him.  His heart sang, and a small hard adult part f him couldn't place why.  Yet the greater, better measure of his soul lounged in the rays of this rarest of sensations and lapped at this childlike feeling.

Geffin could feel a tingling around his body. Not the harsh frozen numbness so commonly felt on Monia II, or even the hot flushed drive of lust or fear filled adrenaline.  This feeling was both closer and older than either of these tainted adult sensations.  Fearful of losing this long lost sensation, Geffin's mind moved slowly.  Softly he quested for the source and root of the feeling.  Finally his mind answered.

Parcher Dean stood crabbed and ancient in the dusty sunlight filling the temple.  His hands and face so creased and wrought that he seemed more part of the ornamental decorations that a vibrant man.  The Parcher was making short mass, pressing his dry lips to the calfskin cover of the Lectio Divinitatus, relishing the feel of the soft material against the nerves of his aged mouth.  With reluctance his brought the divine testament away and rested it on the Aquila altar with numb bony fingers.  Sighing softly, the Parcher turned to survey the briefly quiescent but squirming mass of little humanity arrayed about his be-robed form.

The Parcher had pride in his office.  He had been drawn to the Ecclesiastical service whilst barely older than the children before him.  His drawing had been more in the desire for fresh recruits for the upper echelons perception of growing corruption in the under hives of his birth world, Hadenheld.  On inception however, a young Dean had been fortunate to find himself under the instruction of a elder parcher both fair, kind and without wrongful desire.  Other incepts were not so lucky, and from this humble start, the young Dean's confidence and trust in the blessing of the Emperor, beloved by all, grew.  A trust that later grew to faith.

'How doth our Lord look upon us children?' Parcher Dean spoke, pleased with his performance this bright morning.  The children were responding well.  A fellow parcher years before had commented on parcher Dean's skills in elocution and delivery.

'Parcher, I cannot help but feel move by your words, but fear your performance of piety, so played out for me does not become mimicry of the fastidious man." Dean had taken the man words to heart, and so his career had never excelled or aimed at an ambition beyond the fold of his young cares before him.  Parcher Dean knew that in his own simple way, his 'performance of piety' was his own blessing and abasement to the Golden Throne.  Cynical clergy and lay welders and bondsmen may doubt his sincerity and smile benignly at his ways, but with his most precious audience.  his skills were appreciated and accepted and their trust and love was complete.  Parcher Dean would save them, each and every one.

Slowly the parcher turned, and raised a wiry grey-white eyebrow.  'Children, the Golden Throne both blesses us and watches us.  His mighty eye seers through the maelstrom of the Universe and sees each one of our souls clearly.  He doth look throughout our souls at every moment, always watchful for corruption, decadence and decay.'  The Parcher paused, and stepping within his flock placed his withered hands upon the light feathered hair of his young charges.

'And as the holy Emperor looks within us, our faith is the light that shines out.  Never turn from him and let your faith lead you.  What is the mantra of watching, children?'  While speaking, Parcher Dean had slowly touched the crown of every child's head.  He looked down at the wide open brown eyes. 'Geffin, can you tell us?'

Trudging through the moonlit snows of an alien world, hands and feet like ice, back and knees creaking from the cold and the weight of his pack, an older Geffin smiled. Slowly he mouthed the mantra of seeing his Parcher had taught him.  Granthem was no Parcher Dean, his droning monologue a fraction of the majesty and poise the elder clergyman had possessed.  Nonetheless, something of the night had awaken a light in Geffin he'd thought long lost.  Slipping his hand inside his jacket he pushed his ice-cold fingers past the las-carbine charger packs nestled there and his numb fingers bit sharply about the aquila pendant and chain about his neck.

'Fear the xenos,' he muttered under his breath. 'For it life is our death.  Fear the mutant, its rot doth spread.  Fear the cult, and spare none to live.  Fear the psyker, the madness they give. Bless the Throne, and keep your heart true.  Kill his enemies, they are yours too.'

A feeling of childhood and the buzz of warmth carried Geffin's heavy feet into the freezing night.

Snow Patrol: Chapter 2 - Part 2: The End

Corporal Darl Hammound had faced a few impossible odds through the years. His service with the Kochi 20th Light Infantry had taken him to many worlds. He would speak of red planets with blasted ochre sunsets, where a man life was measured in the litres of water in his flesh. Giant moonscapes where the terrifying prospect of fighting in low gravity and no oxygen made men shake and cry, feeling vulnerable like babes. He had fought aboard Tau cruisers and Eldar ships, boarding through giant armoured cables and scrambling into panicked combat with the desparation of rats. 

Darl had fought the strange Eldar with their scything weapons and faced the terror of the Tyranid horde. Shooting desparately while the sky turns black and the land seeths. He'd fought Tau. He'd seen friends die, killed uselessly or heroically. He'd seen a brave lieutenant shot dead by a panicking commissar for choosing not to kill his men needlessly, then plowed through the mayhem and death that, that reckless fool had dragged them. He staggered out alive, sickened by the death of too many friends, too many faces. 

He'd been shot, stabbed, had his leg sliced half off by an shuriken shot. He'd rescued friends, who later died needlessly, from wounds left to fester, from administratum errors. He'd lost his wife to another man, he'd lost his children to a new father. There was no home for him, his only placed a kindly shrine on a forgetful family wall. He was an ancestor, already buried by his family and venerated. He would never go home. His life was the guard.

It was all so fecking pointless. Such a waste.

Darl Hammound shifted his gaze awkwardly. His chin strap dug into his neck as he pushed against it. He could feel acutely the cold beneath his back, sucking the sensation out of his spine. Making his legs dead and cold. He could physically feel the uncomfortable ebb and pulse of his lifeblood pushing exorbitantly against the pressed strap, like a small heart beating in his jugular. 

Darl Hammound couldn't actually feel the kroot blade buried in his guts. At least until it was twisted by the Kroot carnivore holding it. The corporal writhed beneath the pain as his hands pushed limply at the stock of the hunting rifles. Squinting up at the figure above him, a part of his reeling brain couldn't help but respond to the sheer xenotic quality of the alien above him.

It's gnarled hands, skin puckered with overlarge sweat glands, gripped the gun with a strength he marveled at. Cable like sinues pulled beneath this thick skin over whipcord muscles and bony ridges. The Kroots chest was small compared to its arms, but it's head peered forward like the prow of an imperial battle ship. Cold alien eyes, watched him closely, eyelids closing the pupils to slits as the knife twisted again.

Again, Hammounds hands flapped uselessly at the Kroot knife, their energy spent and wasted.

Hammound watched in increasing abstraction as the xenos moved closer, leaning deeper over the embedded blade. It's eyes were mere inches from his own. It's gaping beak maw hung open as if tasting or sniffing him. Darl fluid thoughts were surprised his body still lurched as the Kroot clacked its beak together mere inches from his nose.

His adrenaline pulsed waveringly as the Kroot looked down and lowered its serated beak to the bloody maw left by the bayonet blade. With a jerk the sinuey warrior plucked the gore encrusted sickle from Hammounds guts. With a nauseous sensation, he felt staunced blood flood the cavity again.

Pushing his head down he saw the alien dip its bladed beak to and out of sight inside Hammound's own body. His revulsion soared as he was gently jerked back and forth. The Kroot was eating him, he couldn't feel it directly, but his mind placed sounds and motion together and revolted wholesale at the notion.

Unknown strength coursed about his body. His heart hammering in self preservation he'd long thought useless. He might be near death, but no Kroot would hasten him. Jerking his eyes left and right he noticed the broken blade of his power sword lying beside him. Masked by the hungry jerks and tearing noises of his own demise he clasped a palsied hand about the blade.

It wasn't live, the blade severed from the hilt and its power source. A mystified part of Hammounds mind wondered at the lasting symmetry of this. The broken and bloodied man, dying by moment, clutching a broken blade, devoid of power. 

Moving the blade cautiously to his chest he fastened his other hand about it and held it in line with his body pointing towards the Kroot. His torso was still pulled about lightly as the alien ate its fill and his blood made the blade slick where its sharpened edge cut his numb hands. Hammound could feel his strength waining, but one thought kept tracking though his brain. 

Not yet, corporal. Still can't see him clear. Stop hiding down there xenos and look at me. Look at your food, Kroot. And your food will play with you. he smiled.

Sensing a stillness about its kill, the Kroot warrior paused. Obviously its feast had died, a pity but edible none the less. Moving to get a better angle about the ribs to the liver the Kroot glanced up at its prey. It only had a moment to notice the bunched fist and concentrated eyes before a broken shard of power sword drove through its bisected avian eyes, slicing into its brain.

Brilliant. Thought Hammound, a lithe ropey figure twiching spastically on top of him. Emperors Hood, Now he's trying to mate me? Well at least he took me for dinner first...

Friday, 12 September 2008

Making Cadian's go further...

The HSO on the left's pretty - but the HO on the right makes a cheaper option and still looks the part.

No, before you ask, this isn't an article about the new run rules and how they affect the operation of troops ... although that does give me an idea?

This is an article specifically aimed at any people delving into the realms on buying cadians and thinking about how to get maximum bang for their buck!

Planning an Imperial Guard Army

The first rule of buying any army is to grab the codex and have a big long read.  The Imperial Guard codex is somewhat old in the tooth, harking back to the good old days of 3rd Edition.  This leads to a few discrepancies (like guardsmen costing the same as Ork Boys, despite not having 2A, T4, S4 weapons and a tendency to be fearless in big groups... grumble grumble.)  There are high hopes that these imbalances will be sorted out in the new codex, and the new codex looks very exciting indeed.

However, working with what you've got, where do you start...


5th Editions all about troops, and here's the good news. Guard can field more troops than anyone else. Let's do the math, you can field up to 6 infantry platoon, each comprising up to 5 squads [10 each], a platoon command [5] and a remnant squad [9] ... so that's 384 models - try shifting that from an objective.  The shocking bit is that that is just 2364 points, so add a cheap command HQ and you've still got enough left over for a Leman Russ.  Not even Orks or 'Nids can compete with the troop saturation available.

Armoured Fists are largely a waste of time, although the new maximum move plus drop off rule makes Chimeras more helpful, the new vehicle 'taxi-ing' rules (ie: they can pick up anyone) makes AF rather redundant.  As my friend Turtleboy once said:

'AF are like this.  My house is on fire, I have a teacup full of water.'

However they are useful as a cheap-ish option if you're filling up the numbers.

Conscript squads - what's not to like.  They're cheap, expendable and almost as rubbish as gretchin.  Plus you can hide an independent Commissar with a power fist in their rank and use them as the ultimate tar pit.  Thanks to the HtH rules, conscript still hit most things on a 4+, so get them in close and let them enemy work out how many turns it'll take them to kill all of them ... then hit him with the powerfist.  I used to recommend taking Gaunt or Yarrick as an alternative to wasting a doctrine on independent commissars - but with the new rules being fearless and rubbish is a liability as it just leads to more deaths.  At least with a normal commissar you're guaranteed a maximum unnecessary death of just 1 per turn.

Grenadiers - never forget that you can take these.  Ideal if you want a double hard (but expensive) core and all your elite slots free for veterans and abhumans...

Other mini options: You basic models can be also used as veterans (I use catachans) or to fill out heavy weapons teams... so here's the crux - how to build the cheapest IG army ever (excluding e-bay handmedowns!):

All prices are taken from 'Gifts for Geeks' and 'BitsBox' - their discounts are just too nice!

G4G purchase
  • Cadian Battleforce @ £36.50  x 2 = £73
  • Cadian Shocktroops @ £13.50 = 13.50
  • Chimera @ £15 = £15
Sub total: £101.50 excluding postage.

BzBx Purchase
  • Marine Tactical PlasmaGun @ £1 x 3 = £3
  • Marine Tactical Meltagun @ £1 x 3 = £3
  • Marine Assault Plasma Pistol @ 40p x 2 = 80p
  • Marine Devastator Power Fist @ 90p = 90p
  • Marine Assault Power Fist @ 90p = 90p
  • Marine Commander Power Sword @ 80p
Sub total: £9.40 excluding postage.

Grand Total = £110.90 excluding postage.

I would advise the following setup:

Cadian Battleforce 1
  • 1 Tank Commander + Powerfist + Plasma Pistol = SHO/HO, 4 ST minis + 4 Grenade Launchers = HQ command
  • 10 ST mini's (incl Sgt and Vox) + Melta = Squad 1
  • 3 Cadian HW minis + 3 ST mini's = 3xHWT (AC/HB/LC) on large bases
  • 3 HW minis + 3 ST mini's = 3xHWT Missile Launcher on small bases
  • 3 Mortars on bases
  • Leman Russ Battle Tank
Cadian BattleForce 2
  • 1 Tank Commander + Powerfist = JO
  • 4 ST minis + 4 Grenade Launchers = Platoon Command
  • 10 ST mini's (incl Sgt and Vox) + Melta = Squad 2
  • 3 Cadian HW minis + 3 ST mini's = 3xHWT (AC/HB/LC) on large bases
  • 3 HW minis + 3 ST mini's = 3xHWT Missile Launcher on small bases
  • 3 Mortars on bases
  • Leman Russ Battle Tank
Cadian Shock Troops Box Set
  • 10 ST mini's + 3 plasma + plasma pistol + power sword = veteran squad.
  • 10 ST mini's (including sgt and Vox) + Melta = Squad 3
And a Chimera...

So thats...

Army List

HQ Command: [5] HSO (Plasma Pistol and PF + 4 Grenade Launchers)
HQ Options: [24] 6 HB and 6 Missile Launchers.
Elites: Veterans [10] 3 Plasma Gun, Plasma Pistol and Power Sword
Platoon HQ: [5] JO w. PF and 4 Grenade Launchers
  • Squad 1: [10] Sgt and Meltagun
  • Squad 2: [10] Sgt and Meltagun
Armoured Fist Squad: [10] Sgt and Meltagun. Chimera.
Leman Russ Battle Tank x 2

Not a bad starter for approximately £120.  Plus you can swap out the HB or missile launcher into 3 squads and use the six spare men to man the 3 mortars.  You could even add these mortars to the command squads and use the spare models to create Special Weapons Teams.

Thats the core of the army done - time to consider the fun bits...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Snow Patrol: Story

I owe a debt to another writer, skizoman333, who inspired me to write this little episode. Those who wish to read the original, please see here. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea and the story, and have shamelessly stolen it for my own endeavours ... but after all it's only plagiarism if you pass it off as your own. The writing's my own, the inspiration, ideas and some character names are skizo's. Thanks man.

Snow Patrol Prologue: Munk's Few

"Corporal Geffin, get the men together, we're taking these doo-hicky's on a patrol," Geffin looked up to see Staff Sergeant Munk stomping towards the small camp fire, trooper Reynolds in tow. The two figures approached the guttering fire through an ever increasing flurry of fluffy snowflakes the size of eyeballs. The snows had started an hour previous and already the ground was cushioned with several inches. It was going to be a cold night.

Geffin sighed quietly as he placed his datapad back in his pack. He'd been scratching at the squad performance review for about half an hour and made little headway. The Monian night had come in fast after the battle the previous day. And while Tau and Kochi elite sappers continued to fight and snipe through night sights, the guardsmen had set to entrenching the heavy weapons and supporting the mechanicus servitors in field repairs. Geffin had given his orders, seen the work set to and then settled down in a comfortable spot to write up his report. Back to his pack and feet to the fire.

The men were exhausted, which was to be expected. They were pleased with their performance today and the lack of serious casualties. They'd made it through their first real engagement, no little part to the work of the gregarious Munk. However, there was also an unspoken reserve in the men. They had tightened up, the comradeship was there but also an invisible barrier had formed. Reynolds suspected he now sat in this bubble, and he suspected it was something to do with Munk.

He'd arrived to late to see whatever it was that the men shared hard but satisfied expressions about. When they'd arrived, all that had occupied him were the half dozen Tau aiming at Reynolds and himself. He'd reacted on instinct and attempted to pull the unarmed Reynolds out of the xenos firing line. Instead, Reynolds had charged the enemy armed with a pipe and tabac. For that moment Geffin knew with absolute certainty that he was dead.

As it happened the Tau didn't have time to fire as plasma and lasfire decimated the distracted Tau. Leaving a bewildered Reynolds victorious on the field, staggering about in confusion and relief. Geffin had wondered over his slate whether the men were reading into his action, were questioning his bravery in light of whatever the Sergeant has done, or Reynolds lunatic charge.

Geffin smiled to himself, in situations like this he was always reminded of the notes his father would leave him early in the morning before his shift. His father was dead now, but had cared for and brought him up in the Citadel of Kochi VI. He'd been a smelter at one of the many adeptus mechanicus forges which justified the citadels existence. Geffin had more than once felt the back of his large rough hands for a misdeed or a curse he'd mistakenly uttered. His father had been hard, but fair. He'd worked from daybreak to dust in continuous, laborious and complicated tasks and only spent real time with Geffin on the Emperor's Day and other holiday's. Geffin used to stay up to hear his father arrive home, and then drift off. He was always gone before Geffin rose.

He had however been a clever and thoughtful man. No wit or academic, but intelligent and careful in his own well thought through ways. He also had an uncanny knack for knowing Geffin’s ails and moods. He would write notes to Geffin. Sometimes they were longer, a page or so in his carefully drawn out neat writing. They would explain his working day, the complications of the work, or how his father had felt about Geffin's grades. Other times they would be simple notes or thoughts that would more often than not spear right to the centre of his current frustration or doubts. Sometimes it had been months or years until Geffin had been mature enough to really understand. The notes were now crammed into a leather cover, forming a make piece book in Geffin's pack. A book filled with all the love and wisdom one man could give his son. It meant everything to Geffin.

One such note rose in response to Geffin's concerns about the potential doubts of the men in his command and gave him solace.

Know your true heart and other doubts will have no dominion. The others could doubt, Geffin knew his own heart. They might question, but he had no fear to answer. His time would come.

Geffin stood stiffly in the swirling dark and quickly saluted the Staff Sergeant, who grunted in response. Geffin noticed that Munk's hands were already stretched out to the warming glow. Reynolds stood slightly back. As if afraid any warmth would melt the newly formed strength he'd found in the face of fire. Geffin looked carefully at Reynolds, who avoided his eye, focusing diligently on preparing Munk’s pipe. He wondered if Reynolds strength would be enough, or if Munk would break his newfound toy.

Settling his pack onto his aching shoulders, he adjusted a loose strap. He picked up his warmly wrapped lasrifle from by the fire and trotted into the snow, in search of his men. Munk’s few

Snow Patrol Chapter 1: Trudge Grudge

The small platoon of Kochi Regulars trudged through the maddening snow. A long double line huddling close and marching in muffled discord over treacherous ground. The snow cover falling so fast that one man's tread was full in moments and only the continual passage kept the path clear. The men huddled against the cold, their thick winter fatigues only barely keeping the howling wind at bay. Munk had set the men to a firm pace, well aware of the line between danger of exhaustion and freezing consequences of inactivity the harsh climate would prosecute.

Geffin had drawn up his squad to the left flank. Marching in single file beside the regulars of squad alpha two zero. Geffin walked at the rear of his line, keeping a steady eye on the troopers for signs of fatigue. Staff Sergeant Munk and his command team of camouflaged and carapace clad irregulars held the front of the column and six more lightly jacketed irregular troopers ranged on point and rearguard to the less experienced Kochi guardsmen.

Geffin had found the two squads of his platoon quickly. Nicknamed Munk's few, the platoon had been singled out by the master Sergeant. The other platoons had set up and without a word had subconsciously left a non standard spacing between their tents and those of the few. Whether this was in deference to their choosing, or recognition of their life expectancy, Geffin didn't know.

Being chosen was an honour, but one which meant the platoon would see twice the action of the other platoons of Kochi Regulars. Protecting Munk's damn pipe was a hefty burden. However it was also Munk's way to train the troops through adversity. Those that survived would be integrated into the standard Regulars platoon with duties more focused on trench warfare, firing lines and Heavy weapons. The easy way. A select few may be promoted to the Kochi Irregulars, the elite force of veteran troopers which made up half of Kochi's foreign light infantry. The final cut would don the camouflaged chameleon armour of the Kochi Irregulars Grenadiers and take up the hellgun and plasma gun in the name of the Emperor.

As they plodded on Geffin noticed that the weather was abating. The snows were lifting and the biting wind which cut at his face dropped dramatically. It was now far past midnight and the Kochi patrol was a good couple of hours into the patrol. They were approaching the outreaches of the sentry line. Within the forest, a series of foxholes laid out the perimeter. Guarded by ten men each, the foxholes were called Bastions. Armed with a heavy bolter and hand cranked mine zones they formed the first line of defense from potential incursion through the trees. Each Bastion was interlinked with the others and connected to central command. Their patrol, alongside others, was making the hourly rounds to each Bastion. So far it had been tiresome and dull work.

Not that Geffin had a care to mind that. It beat the frantic panic of combat, but somehow the promise of action made the time go faster. Usually in terrified technicolour, he thought wryly to himself, but quicker nonetheless. As the snows slowed, Geffin raised his voice to his command.

"Squad beta two zero! Spread out the line and get those rifles down." Each man set about unshouldering his rifle and set about checking the sights and the wrappings on the barrels. As one they also started unzipping their jackets and reaching in to pull out lasgun reload cartridges. The extreme cold challenged las technology like no other. A las cartridge could drain down in less than half a day if dormant. As such all Kochi kept them close to the skin until needed. It made reloading dangerous, but lasguns rarely needed reloading.

His squad spread out, mimicking the other Regulars patrol, either side of the path. Munk's command echelon had also spread slightly. As they walked, Geffin made an extra effort and moved amongst his squad, now able to overhear low banter that had reignited now the wind had dropped.

Trooper Toftsk was cursing his damp cigarette as they failed to take for the third time. Geffin could see how he gripped gingerly at the cigarette between fingers blue with cold. The damp snow and wind conspired against his guttering matches.

Geffin was now trudging beside him, “You're never going to get that one lit again Toftsk, just give it up” he said. Toftsk jumped in surprise. "Didn't see you there, Corporal." He replied as he tied to catch the light again. This time the paper and tabac took. Toftsk inhaled a fulsome breath of hot air and blew it out into the crystal night.

"So Corporal," he said. Looking aslant at Geffin over his glowing cigarette. "You want to know what happened before you and Reynolds played chicken with the Tau?" Reynolds did want to know, but the last person he wanted to hear it from was Toftsk.

"Let me guess, Toftsk. You ran about doing as you were told and you weren't quite killed again eh?" Geffin said, cutting off Toftsk's leering smile. He'd had quite enough of the guardsman's attitude since the incident with Reynolds. Some troopers just spent far too much time looking for weakness in others, and not enough on their own insecurities. Geffin noticed Toftsk mutter under his breath, clearly too fearful to voice whatever cutting remark he dearly wanted to reply with.

"Sorry Toftsk, what was that? I missed it due to the foot stuck in your mouth." Geffin moved to stand in front of Toftsk and the trooper stopped with a start. His surly expression melting into one of surprise. Slowly the Corporal reached up and took the smoldering cigarette from between Toftsk's chapped lips. Putting the cigarette in his mouth, Geffin's eyes bore into Toftsk until the Guardsman glanced furtively away.

"I'm understood then." Geffin muttered, loud enough for the others to hear. He turned back and struck out walking again, turning to the trooper on his right.

Granthem was the squad's heater handler, and as such was in a better mood than most. The meltagun was an awesome weapon, without the downside of self harm the plasmagun was infamous for. It also proved a particular popular weapon during this bitterly cold campaign. Unlike the flamer, the dormant fuels within the meltagun kept the weapon toasty warm.

Granthem smiled warmly as the Corporal looked over at him. He was nicknamed "specialman" not just for his weapon, but also for his particular outlook on life. Granthem was the sort of man who weathered all climates and all situations with the same optimism and cheery disposition. He held no grudges that Geffin knew of and rarely got involved in the squad backchat. He was a large man, now padded up to overweight proportions by his bulky winter gear. Geffin liked Granthem, but couldn't help but think that the man was one track short of a tank. After all what man could be truly happy in a hellhole like the one they found themselves. Still, he guessed the heater helped.

Granthem looked over at Geffin and then at the cigarette between his lips. "I'd leave those alone if I were you boss. Never do nothing but make Toftsk miserable. Even when he's got one, he barely makes normal. What goods that, eh? Normal's where we all start, not a target in life." Granthem smiled again and hefted the meltagun for comfort.

"Yeah, you're right specialman." said the Corporal as he threw away the untouched cigarette. "I just felt Toftsk deserved to make a new one. One day he might actually learn that baiting me gets him nothing but work." he smiled at the small injustice he'd stung the cocky trooper with. To his surprise Granthem was laughing. A deep base chuckle that reverberated about the trees. Shortly he stopped.

"Yah well, Toftsk only desire is for your pins and he don't care how we gets it. He thinks chipping away at your feelings gonna make you crack. He also think we others want him for a corporal. I think he gonna be sorry how wrong he is, soon enough, soon enough." Again the deep chuckle jumped about Granthem throat. Geffin smiled at the trooper.

Suddenly Granthem stiffened and Geffin looked up to see Munk gesturing him. He waved in return and trotted double-time through the powdery snow.

As Geffin approached, he noticed the Corporal from Alpha Two Zero running up as well. Something was up. Munk waited until the two corporals were close to.

"Gentlemen, something's up. The damn foxholes are replying ok but neither Cavorski nor Mathers have reported in. My gut says something’s up. Corporal Geffin, you take Hunt, Qell and Jones and make your way to Bastion twenty one. I'll take Justin and young Reynolds here with Alpha Two Zero and locate twenty two." He indicated on the datapad. "Keep your eyes peeled and your men tight. Something's not right here. Emperor's Grace. Dismissed."

Geffin walked back to his squad with the three grenadier troopers in tow. He unslung his pack as the troopers crowded round, for information no doubt, and if Geffin guessed right, warmth. He pulled the cold datapad from his pack and switched it over to mapping function. Holding it in his hand, he remembered the doubts that played at him earlier. Looks like this time, his time had come.

Toftsk was the first to speak, "Where's Munk going?" he stammered through chill teeth. Clearly he'd been unable to light another cigarette and the results of withdraw, or his repeated attempts were starting to show. Geffin stood slowly and watched the Sergeant's unit retreat into the night. He'd had enough.

He swung his fist and caught Toftsk right in the bridge of the nose. Toftsk's hands were wrapped up under his armpits. Despite a bitter sounding crack, Toftsk didn't go down but grasped his gushing nose and swore mightily. Before he could respond on instinct the great arms of Granthem has smothered his responses. He glared out at Geffin, his hatred plain to see. Geffin stood calmly in front of him.

"Toftsk, you are a soldier of the Kochi. You are an imperial guard. You will remember your training and learn at some point to treat your superiors with respect. Do I make myself clear?" Geffin eyeballed Toftsk as best he could. Toftsk glared back. Geffin hit Toftsk again, this time in his gut. His fist went deep as he winded Toftsk. Toftsk gasped and sank to the snowy floor were Granthem dropped him.

Standing over a gasping Toftsk, Geffin faced the other men. Indifferent faces glanced down at the shuffling and grunting body in the centre of their group. "Toftsk, you are going to learn civility if I have to beat it into you. You will never address a superior as anything other than sir or corporal. Do I make myself clear?" He grabbed Toftsk hair and pulled his blooded face where everyone could see it. "And I understood?" He glowered.

Toftsk dribbled blood from his mouth and nose, his eyes held hatred but a bitter respect to. He nodded in assent. "Yeshir." He mumbled.

Geffin leant down beside the winded man and quickly relieved him of his tabac tin. Tossing the small tin onto the snow, he motioned Granthem to incinerate it. As the small tin combusted to nothing, he turned back to Toftsk.

"Am I now understood?" he asked, arms locked behind his back. Beneath his gloves his hands were sweating despite the cold.

"Yes ... sir." muttered a darkly resentful Toftsk. Geffin quickly stepped forward. As he approached at speed, Toftsk hands shot up. "Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I understand." he exclaimed.

"That's better." remarked the Corporal. "Men we march, private Toftsk, you and Wilhelm take point. We're going to see what see shall see."

Under his stern gaze squad beta two zero made off into the cold night. Geffin brought up the rear, wondering how much damage he'd done.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Scenery and IG Tanks

Further to Dev's previous posting, I was surprised by the 'odd' photographs.  I had seen some of the models already and knew them to be better.

Last night I saw them in the flesh and they are astounding!  The detail and layering that Dev's gone to on these scenery pieces and tanks is brilliant.  To top it all off, he tells me the chimera took only 90 minutes... Grrrr!

Anyhow, enough of my blather - here's some shots.  They were taken at night, so please excuse the strip lighting, but I think they do the quality painting on the scenery justice, Enjoy:

The model's under flash - note the odd colour distortions.

With a decent (and cheaper) camera and more subtle lighting (although not natural lighting), the exploded Workshop starts to demonstrate the subtlety of it's paint job.

Shot of the workshop interior, note the twisted girders, buckled plasteel wall and adeptus annotations.

One of our many homemade barricades, based on fine balsa.  This one sports a crushed Salamander under polypropylene concrete lumps, plus wire fences strung across balsa posts.

90 minutes later, this immaculate Chimera boasts a host of details...