Monday, 27 April 2009

TACTICA: Tyranid Lictor - "The Lictor Buff"

Fear my Harikari Seppuku Lictor of DOOOM!

By Suneokun.

As you may be aware, I have a bit of a 'thing' for building redundant model types that don't really jump out at you. I'm a big fan of Rough Riders, Sentinels and Ogyrns. I like Tau Sniper Teams as a heavy support choice and would choose a Skyray over a Railhead as my tank of purchase... I enjoy converting Gargoyles or FlyWar's (which are currently WIP!) because no-one will field them because they cost too much money!

I like scratch-building or converting models that would otherwise cost me a small hernia in lead alloy to build a unit of...

The purchase of a lictor involved none of the above choices... and still I appear to have bought a dud!

Work Experience

I bought the Lictor as it's a stunning model. Nothing this side of Chaos looks quite so alien, spiky and nasty as a lictor. Secondly, I liked the statline - strength 6 is awesome, rending claws - nice, feeder tendrils - doubly nice, +2 cover save, awesome ...

And so I painted him up and took him for a game!

In both scenarios, I deployed the Lictor against a priority target and succeeded in ambush! The targets happened to be Tau Shas'El. In both cases the Lictor jumped the Shas'El, wounding with 3-4 S6 hits. This is where it all goes wrong. The rending never occurs, meaning that the Shas'El is left either uninjured or uninjured enough to pound my Lictor. Suddenly, I discover while I had a tiger in attack, I had a panda in defense (and not Jack Black I assure you). A Lictor is only T4 and has only a 5+ save. This means that unless it slaughters everything that moves in it's turn - it's gonna die.

To add insult to injury, on the second ocassion, not only did the Lictor fail to wound the Shas'El, but the Shas'El secured a single wound on the Lictor. Thanks to the new "Fearless vulnerability' rule, the lictor was force to make another save for his other 40pt wound and promptly died a henious death - doh!

So what's the future for my harikari Lictor? Well, I was stumped. At his inflated points cost I can buy 10 Hormagaunts or 16 Spinegaunts. I can even get a few kitted out Leaping Warriors or even 2 Flying Warriors for much the same price. Was he just a waste of points and even more importantly, an elites slot?


The lictor does fulfill one key role, and that's as an anti-tank weapon. Nothing else in the Tyranid Army can deliver 4 S6 attacks on the charge AND catch that leman russ napping in its own deployment zone. This means that the lictor can play a really great role in anti-tank. However, at 80pts it seems a shame to throw him away on this function alone, but the deterrence factor and the ability to threaten the deployment zone of the opposition shouldn't be underestimated.

After careful consideration I have come up with the following:

Force Multiplier

Playing nid's is all about forcing choices on the enemy. The anti-tank option is a great example of this above. The lictors strength however, is not in his offensive abilities, but rather in the combination of his deep strike ability and his feeder tendrils.

The Lictor where he belongs (cowering behind a bullet shield)

Example: The Rush

In this example, the enemy are given a tough choice. Does he target the hormagaunts streaming towards his line on the right flank, the genestealers which are tougher, most likely in cover and coming up the centre, or a swarm of termagants?

Now, from experience I can tell you, it won't be the termagants! However, while he's making short work of your hormagaunts (most probable) and perhaps forcing them to go to ground ... oh well. You move up your termagants within 18". The Lictor then plays his part. By dropping the lictor into a piece of area terrain behind the termagants (a piece of area terrain you are streaming past), the lictor can 'attach' himself to the rear of the termagant line. Now, your opponent may be bemused by your tactic... After all he's familiar with Lictors going after tanks or ambushing, so what's with this 'tag along' attack.

He may however perceive a large problem. You've just converted your 'bullet shield' into a fairly effective anti-GEQ and anti-MEQ force. The rules of feeder tendrils are that it confers the 'preferred enemy' rule to itself and any unit with a model within 2" of the lictor. Your termagaunts just gone from a 50-66% to hit rate to 75%-99% to hit. Combine this with a toxin sac upgrade (S4 to wound, S5 fleshborers) and termagaunts are lethal:

- 10 termagants go from 3.33 GeQ kills to 6.66 kills per turn. (plus 4.16 fleshborer kills)
- 20 termagaunts go from 1.11 MeQ kills to 5 kills per turn. (plus 2.22 fleshborer kills)

The lictor ideally stays at the back of the horde, out of combat and outside dangers of fearless 'harikari' actions. But here's the brilliant part - he gains a 2+ cover save! I would definitely consider upgrading the Gaunts with toxin sacs and flesh hooks, and an initiative bonus of facing Space Marines.

Ripping Yarns

Another nice buff is to use this on Ripper Swarms. Swarms cannot offer cover saves to monsterous creatures or vehicles, but Lictors are fine. As such the swarm is the cheapest per wound, per points models and allows you approach the enemy in confidence. Thanks to the 3 wounds and the +1 cover save, few opponents will fire on rippers. Thanks to their 'low profile' few oppoenents can actually SEE rippers as they can usually hide behind a small wall and the like.

Equipped with both toxin sacs (S4) and leaping, these Rippers are only slightly more than basic spinegaunts (5.66 pts per wound) and can offer a really nasty surprise - moving 18" and attacking with 4 S4 attacks - reroll to hit anyone? That's 9.33 GeQ kills per turn from 119 pts (that's better stats then hormagaunts, and for a unit with less 'heat'). The only downside is that the Rippers will be hitting last except against Tau - however with three wounds each, you won't lose a single base to 10 guardsmen (2.08 kills per turn).

"Emperor be damned, I never saw that coming!" said Fritz.


The Lictor-Buff (sounds remarkably dodgy doesn't it!) tactic is invaluable. Putting another layer into your army and giving the Tyranids a Tau pathfinder, Eldar Spells or Sternguard type unit. Capable of disrupting the expected and turning the tides. The benefits are compound as if you do manage to land a lictor, you then have the choice of which unit, or UNITS to accompany, since lictors are force mulipliers par excellance. Your leaping, scything warriors become an excessively lethal force, and as for the already capable genestealers or hormagaunts plus Lictor will kill everything - game over.

The ability to make any unit in your army combat efficient is what a lictor brings ... so next time you see a lictor in your opponents army list - beware, its not just a one-shot wonder or an easy killpoint!

In addition, the lictors also allow a reroll for reserves every turn (except them of course) which can be very helpful. I would recommend always rolling for the 'littleuns' first, like gargoyles or flanking termagaunts - thereby you can save your reroll for the Flying Warriors or Broodlord supporting them.

If you do have a particularly intrasigent foe, or are facing a dreadnought with Termagants remember the lictor can jump in to assist, but he will need to be in base to base contact and is therefore vulnerable to counter attack - beware Lictor Harikari!

Let me know what you think!

Friday, 24 April 2009

CONVERT: Next Recipe ... Chilli-con-Carnifex

By Suneokun.

In celebration of my second child being born, a boy called Ptolemy (check out the history on Wikipedia), I celebrated my newfound lack of freedom (and 3 months not drinking at all in sympathy with Bim) by giving in to my little 'demon of plastics' and buying two battleforces from GiftsforGeeks. That, and I'd heard a rumour all the battleforces are going up in price.

Dustin at the store is planning a mighty great Apoc Battle Sunday with players joining us for a renegade guard PDF versus new guard codex fight-off - Awesome! Needless to say this will be a big feature on pathfinder!

However, I digress. After about six months of self-promises and not buying many models (don't count the Lictor pleassseeee! Or the Shaper? Or the Commissar?) and painting 185pts (according to Lone Pilgrims tally system) since just before Christmas (100 mini's, 13 monsters, 5 cavalry and a tank) I splashed out on what I rate as the two best Battleforces available: a Tau and Tyranid Battleforce.

So now I have another 6 months in which to ONLY buy 1 guard codex and nothing else... I can't wait to start converting the boxes as follows:

Tau Boxset:

12 Kroot (as normal) to join the remarkably lonely Shaper I've had for six months.
9 Fire Warriors to form a pulse rifle team to complement the two other squads.
3 Fire Warriors to be converted into Sniper Drone Spotters.
2 Gun Drones to join the Devilfish (can never have enough).
4 Gundrones to build Sniper Drones (aiming for 9 in total for ultimate stealthed up Anti-MEQ action!)
3 Stealth Suits to complement current builds.
1 Crisis Suit for a TL Flamer/burst cannon combo.

Tyranid Boxset:

8 Hormagaunts as normal.
8 Genestealers with feeder tendrils.
8 Gaunts for Gorgoyle Conversion (I have 8 already pegged and should be able to convert a total of 10 Gargoyles) with a total of 8 termagaunts to add to my 19 stong horde!
3 Tyranid Warriors for Conversion to FlyWar's with Scything Talons and Devourers/Barbed Stranglers.
A Carnifex...

So as you can see, I'm gonna be ridiculously busy for the next 6 months, fitting this in and around work and the new baby!

My problem is this, what sort of Carnifex would you recommend as a first choice. I want something distracting and dangerous, probably on the heavy side - but do I go 'shooty' or 'stompy' ... too many choices.

Have a look at my list above and the more detailed listing here ... What would you do? As it goes ... help me ObiWan Kenobi, you're my only hope!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

DOWNLOAD Tyranids Handbook Updated

Sorry only teasing - it's currently under review!

By Suneokun.

Further to the excellent suggestions on the blog, a new version of the Handbook for Tyranids has been edited.

Download the PDF from here: The Commander's Field Handbook - Tyranids


Keep your eyes peeled for the next installments now completed in draft:
  • The Commander's Field Handbook - Tau
  • The Commander's Field Handbook - Eldar
Ron and I are discussing sharing the proof reading out (he's outrageously busy and I can't proof read my own stuff) so give us a shout if you're interested. Prior rules pedantry will score high if you do want into the process (I'm thinking of you Eriochrome!)...

Any proof readers will of course get kudos on the blog and the help would be much appreciated.

Let me know.

Friday, 17 April 2009

TACTICA: Rough Riders in the New Codex

By Suneokun.

Just to update, I've been busy and the first drafts of "The Commander's Field Handbook" for both Tau and Eldar are completed. These are currently standing ready for editing and a solid proof-read as we speak ... so patience, my pretties...

My concern over RoughRiders is growing, despite being maligned in the existing codex through being overpriced (at GW, £7 each!) and having weird options on the field ... they are looking at becoming scarcer. Check here to see my post on rough rider reinvigorated.

Since then, I am pleased to hear that GW are proposing plastic rough riders - clearly they too must be reading my blog! Yeah right ... but I'm imagining sales of metal rough riders were - well - low.

I'm growing increasingly depressed for my rough-riders. With such a glutony of fast attack choices (hellhound squadrons, Sentinel Squadrons, Valkyries) I'm struggling to find a place for my rough riders - except...

Rough Riders as Anti Deep Strike Deterrent and Tank support

Rough Riders are the ultimate anti deep-strike deterrent. Blocking LOS and then killing the assaulters in a devastating charge.

The changes in the rules to 5th edition have seen a significant shift in the metagame from long ranged high S low AP weaponry like bright lances and lascannons towards the use of plentiful meltaguns to achieve the kill. With the increase in AV14 and AV13 vehicles (battlewagon, leman russes upgrade etc), vehicles are tougher than ever at range and the combination of 2D6 penetration and +1 on the damage chart makes melta weapons the fire and forget weapon for taking tanks out.

Unfortunately, this means that if an army has a drop troop melta option it's usually at the top of the 'to take' list. Plasma used to be the steadfast of every 40k army (now relegated down past the lasguns thanks to the significant buff in cover saves), and melta has stolen it's mantle.

So what does this mean for tanks. Well out of all the variety you can get in the new codeci, you can pretty much guarantee that a deep striking unit (Broadside, stealthsuit, Terminators, Stormtroopers, chaos) are going to attempt to a "do or die" attack on your valuable tanks.

So how do you counter this: RoughRiders.

You wanna piece of me ... better talk to my horsey friends.

In W40k (as in every conflict since WW1), cavalry charges are best left to the fantasy boys. As I've learnt from experience, glorious charges at embedded Tau infantry results in very dead horsies. Horsies need cover (preferably of the big, bulletproof you can't see me type) and usually this would prove a problem, do to their large size. Thankfully, even Tyranid warriors can benefit from a small amount of vegitation covering their toes - and gives the Horse a very useful role.

Step - Stair Cover Save Defence.

In Tyranid circles, there is a concept of defence with is all about hiding behind scale. A winged tyrant is enormous, and so getting him 50% behind anything is tricky. He certainly couldn't hide behind a group of gargoyles. However, Winged warriors are infantry (and therefore can hide behind a 4+ fig leaf if required), so by placing the winged warriors behind the Gargoyles, and the Tyrant behind the Warriors (with their own wings unfurled) everybody gets a 4+ invulnerable cover save (unless there are crafty Tau pathfinders around).

The same tactic can and should be applied to RoughRiders. The model on a horse measures at least 2 1/4 inches long and high. This means that 10 roughriders, nose to tail cover 22 and a 1/2 inches. Unlike other infantry, the bulk of one rough rider covers approximately 50% of the rearview of a Leman Russ or Chimera. 4+ cover save for your vehicle.

Additionally I gave some considerable thought to the deployment of the Roughriders, given their larger bases they are very easy to spread out. This in turn allows you to block considerable lines of sight and stop anything deepstriking closer than 6". This further increases the 'deterrance' factor.

With the roughriders in this format, they effectively stop all 6" deepstrikes adjacent to the tank. Guardsmen could do this (and should at the front of the tank), but won't block LOS.

In return the roughriders get a nice mobile pillbox to hide behind and benefit from a 4+ cover save in return.

Case Examples (Or horsey, horsey don't you stop...)

So what happens? Well all of the below assume a successful Deepstrike (without deviating into the roughrider etc), but are forced outside the 6" ideal killzone. Each attacking unit will be priced at approximately 140-150 pts (ie the same value as the tank)... the tank is defended by 6 rough riders (as per the photo's) at with 6 lances and 2 meltaguns @ approximately 86pts.

Encounter One: 2 Tau Crisis Suits [152pts] Team Leader with Fusion Blaster and twin linked missile pod (with a multitracker), one with a Fusion Blaster and twin-linked plasma rifles and 2 gundrones.

The Killteam target the tank, but without the 6" melta bonus they're success rates have dropped, even against rear armour. Rather than a 50% kill rate on 2 shots with a good chance of detroying a weapon or immobilising (not so good.), they only have an approximately 25% chance (on two shots). Good odds.

Rough Riders retaliate and strike first, resulting in over 6.38 wounds (6 shots plus charge) with no saves. Neither the Crisis Suits or the gundrones survive to retaliate.

Encounter Two: 4 Tau Stealth Suits [152pts] Team leader with fusion blaster and target lock and 3 Stealthsuits with burst cannon. 2 Gun drones. Will your opponent risk it and go for the rear armour or will he split his fire and attack both the rear armour and the rough rider threat?

Option 1: All against rear armour = 12.5% chance of a kill on the fusion blaster plus just over a 25% chance on the burstcannons/pulse carbines = 37.5%
Option 2: 11.6 kills on the roughriders (assuming no saving throws), which wipes them out and increases the fusion blaster shots effectiveness to just over 25%.

They either face return fire from the tank or an assault from the roughriders (although probably both). The rough riders are now armed with frag grenades as standard, so the stealth suits would get no advantage. Their assault would kill 7.83 stealth team, ie: the lot.

Encounter Three: 4 Chaos Terminators [140pts] A real challenge. Relatively cheap and able to field combi-melta's - they represent a real anti-tank threat. 4 Chao's Terminators with combi meltas.

Even with 4 shots, the terminators would only gain a 66% chance of destroying the tank. In return the Roughriders would kill 4.02 terminators, the meltaguns make a huge difference here, improving the killrate from 2.83 up to 4.02.

Encounter Four: 2 Chaos Obliterators [150pts] Oh choices, choices. The obliterators can choose from a multimelta shot, a twin-linked melta shot or a lascannon shot. With the following effects: Lascannon [30%], Multimelta [33%], twin linked meltagun [44%].

In return the roughrider again score 4.04 wounds (0.83 of which are instantkill shots).

Conclusion (or Just let you're hooves go clipity-clop!)

These roughriders are easily capable of taking out twice their points value with the combination of melta payback and lanced charges. Clearly they are a one shot weapon, but the combination of two meltaguns means that you should at least hit the target once - and that goes for fast attack vehicles too.

Rough Riders are a useful deterrent against fast antitank options like Piranha with Fusion blaster, Autarchs on jetbikes or singing spears - the combination of meltagun, frag grenades laspistols and explosive lances will probably do for all these adversaries.

That said, will GW allow a roughrider to juggle so many weapons on the charge ... I doubt it!

So while the new fast attack options look tempting, don't forget your lowly rough rider, he's still got his uses.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

DOWNLOAD: Commander's Field Handbook - Tyranids

Hormagaunts Swarm a desparate Sentinel

By Suneokun.

After reading through a few posts last week, my overcreative brain fizzed out another idea - how about a codex crib sheet? Well, who else should I raise the idea with, but Ron from FtW, creator of the "Infantry Guide to Armour" and "Battle Matrix". I knew I was onto something when he agreed with me and I got to work immediately.

So what we have is the following: The Commander's Field Handbook - Tyranids

These "crib sheets" are being designed with a few people in mind.
  1. The new player taking their army out on the town for first time and looking to make sure they don't miss anything.
  2. The player looking for a little information on the army setting up across the table from him.
  3. The veteran player looking for something to jog his memory and remind him of key points.
Needless to say, this will be the first of many "crib sheets." We will attempt to publish these as time allows and we get them completed.

Hormagaunt's: The Original Sketch

If you're a diehard player who knows your army rules inside and out and you spot any problems/mistakes/ambiguous statements, please post your comments here so we can take care of it. We aren't experts on every army so we're relying on you guys who are the experts to help us out a little bit.

The tentative production schedule is as follows:
  • Tau
  • Eldar
  • Space Marines
  • Orks
The big target for me (as an avid treadhead) is to make sure we have a guide for the New Guard Codex - which will put together as soon as I can get my hands on the new Codex and it will be squeezed into the schedule right away. Ron will just have to work around what I give him.

Hopefully, these "Commander's Field Guides" will become an indispensible part of your 40k gaming supplies.

CONVERT: Gargoyle Completed

By Suneokun.

I'll let the photos do the hard work. I am extremely pleased with how this gargoyle has turned out. The combination of spinefist conversion, gun handles and spade handles has worked very well. The wing fitting is fiddly, but actually very easy to do if you do the following:
  1. Roll the wing into a curve across both the x and y axis - creating a pocket in the middle.
  2. Snip, snip and snip again to fit the space. Always fit inside the space fitting the membrane to the 'back' the wing looks ok when unpainted, but ruins the lines when painted.
  3. Paint with washes of colour and be prepared to wipe off excess.
The only thing I'm worried about is getting hold of enough Empire Pistolliers gun handles - don't bother looking on BitzBox, I bought all 20 in stock on Friday!

Let me know what you think of the model...

Victim Eye View - note the veining on the wings...

Rear Wing and Armour detail: Note how the spinefist arms work and the detail on the gun handles looks 'organic'.

Flesh Borer and Bio-Plasma weaponry detail. The Bio Plasma was a particularly fiddly piece of greenstuff work.

"Fly my beauties, fly!" The final conversion is very reminiscent of the Oz based monkeys, but also reminds me of the Gargoyle Gremlin from Gremlins 2. Many Tyranid builders like to think of the nid's as insects, but for me, I think they're half insectoid (exo-skeletons, pincers and spikes) and half Dinosaur - and who wouldn't want Pterodactyls in their army?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

CONVERT: Gargoyle test prototype.

The completed gargoyle with the 'folder' in the background.

By Suneokun.

If some of you missed it, I'm on a bit of a mission to resurrect some unsung army choices. My work on the Rough Riders and Ogryns so far is all about two things:
  1. Fielding Units other players just don't (many due to a poor cost/model ability ratio)
  2. Cut corners and Drastically cut costs.
So far I've saved over £50 on 10 RoughRiders @ £2 each (and got 20 cadians in the deal) and saved £54 on 6 Ogryns @ £3 each. I guess these 'savings' are subconsciously going into the 'must buy more battleforces' trust fund - or actually supporting my burgeoning family!

The next project I have set myself is to cut corners in an achieveable way by custom building an easy to reproduce Gargoyle model that aren't £4 each.

Why Gargoyle's: well let face it Tyranids really struggle against the new template scatter rules and those neccessary hordes are being pummelled. Gargoyles are key 'fluff' creatures for Tryanids, hunting and harassing the enemies into the open. On the battlefield, I see Gargoyles giving you another edge, an angle from which to strike and therefore forcing your opponent to consider this dangerous flanking unit... Gargoyles are very well priced for deepstriking troops, and the wings overcome the shortfall of the standard gaunt weaponry as it allows you to get into range.

Additionally, at only two points more the Gargoyles offers more 'attacks' on the charge than the hormagaunt (1 S4 fleshborer, 1 S4 bioplasma and 2 S3 attacks). So a handy 'distraction' unit to have around, and the only small horde unit outside the troops selection (which makes it more dispensible in my book 2/3rds of the time!

Build Plans: After considering some 'wings' options (thanks to Ymmot and others for scaring me off harpy wings!) from GW and elsewhere, I've stuggled to find a cost effective wings substitute (despite ALL the wings in WFB?)... I therefore decided that the best way to go about it was to create my own.

Importantly I wanted a repeatable and easy to build design which could be replicated easily. The good news for you guys is that in doing so I also wanted a good looking design which concentrated on using GW bits (which are available online or in your bits box.

I actually think I've settled on a pretty cool looking solution, but I'll leave the feedback to you guys...

A Termagaunt becomes a Gargoyle, thanks to spinefists, a holstered pistol and a shovel.

Part 1: The bits. To build a Gargoyle you will need the following:
  • A Termagaunt (fleshborer armed Gaunt) with the 'tongue out' face (see prototype).
  • Right and left SpineFist Arms
  • 6 WFB Empire pistolliers holstered pistols (easy to get if you build roughriders).
  • 2 Cadian Shovels
  • Thin Clear Plastic with a 'leathered' effect (go to your local office supply and look in the document binder section, these style are very popular)
  • Plastic Glue.
  • Greenstuff.
  • Knife.
  • Greenstuff tool.
  • Soldering Iron.
  • 'Dremel' tool.

The Construct: Take the 'constructed' termagaunt and identify the 'middle arms' of the model. Take the dremel tool and 'carve' the top of the middle limb joints on both sides. This should then allow you to weaken and remove the middle arms. Use the dremel tool to carve out an appropriate hole on each side for the glueing of the 'spinefist' arms. Glue to spinefist arms in an appropriate angle from the body - I've gone for a 'landing' pose with mine. Have a look at the Tyranid wings on Forgeworld website for some great examples.

The Rear Legs: Shave off the armour on the front of the thighs. Spin off the two 'hooves' at the joint. Then cut off the 'hooks' off the bottom of the two middle legs you've just removed. Simply glue to the hooks onto the end of the rear legs. You may wish to reposition the 'foremost' leg (I did), as the position may appear too 'standing up'.

The Wings: Next, get the spinefist and carefully split the spinefist down the centre. Next remove the 'horn' on top of the severed part fo the spinefist (this will go back on), shave off end of the fist above the 'pinky finger' (This is where you'll attach the first 'finger' of the wing). Next clip off the 'ammo belt' along the bottom of the arm.

Take the Imperial Pistollier holstered pistols and cut off the gun 'handles', these form your six fingers of the wing. Position the three fingers or spines along the 'wrist' of the spinefist. The first finger on the cut off area above the 'pinky finger', the second on the 'cut-off' spot of the ammo belt, the third on the lower spot (just above the 'elbow').

Finally, take a imperial guard shovel and cut off the shovel at the end of the handle. This leaves you with a bone-shaped piece. Attach this to the end of the upmost finger forming an exended finger.

Next, get the plastic folder and cut out the 'wing sections' one by one. First bend the plastic wings both ways, trying to create a 'pocket' of air in each wing section. Cut them to shape and glue them onto the fingers and wrist. Repeat six times and that's it.

Tail: I used a soldering iron to warm the plastic (hold it close or brush the plastic along the iron), and then carefully bend it. The tail needs to be bent all the way around into an aggressive position.

Stand: drill the Termagaunt between the legs with the dremel (gruesome and brutal, but it's the best way) and then attached a flyer stand (I have loads left over from GunDrones). I simply attached this stand straight into a 25mm base.

The completed (WIP) prototype gargoyle.

Greenstuff: Remember to greenstuff the head (make it pointy), cut off the tongue and model a bio-plasma (a hollow tongue with ridges down the side). Next model back some of the ribs (that you cut off when you removed the middle arms.) And finally model the blade on the end of the tail.

And that's it. Please let me know what you think of the model and feel free to borrow the design. This is all part of my plan to bring down the cost of GW models and field more interesting units.

Join the Campaign for GW conversions.

Friday, 10 April 2009

101st Post (Thanks and Rumours)

By Suneokun.

I'm pleased to announce this is our 101st post! Since we started in August we've covered significant ground and developed some serious Armies. Also I've noticed that my painting has improved wholesale in the last 12 months, going from marginal to pretty ok really?!

Looking back though - have a look at post 100, a three way battle between Tau, Tyranids and Guardsmen. It proved very exciting and a worthy 100th post! Thanks to a posting glitch it turned up 13 hours too old - so may have jumped everyone radar.

Still enough with the reminiscences, I'm veyr proud of how pathfinder has grown and especially proud of our next BIG project. Looking forward to Blog 102 (or maybe 103, we're waiting on Ron here...), we've foined forces with a legend in the blogosphere to produce something I hope you'll find invaluable...

Keep watching for a big news splash!

A big thanks go out to all the commentors and collaborators out there who keep coming back for more rambling dross from me. Including Admiral Drax, Ymmot (cheers to loyalty), Jabber Jabber, Ron Saikowski, Master DarkSol, Darkwing,The InnerGeek (keep internal buddy) and many many more...

... And thanks to Devilin for getting me involved with this other addicitve hobby (blogging that is, I got HIM back into W40k!) ... Here's to 100 more.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

BATREP: CarnageFest 3 Way Battle

By Suneokun.

Further to the ToSsA tournament (which is still ongoing) I was asked by a group of new players to organise a game. This meant I had to organise a battle for a total of six players. Now, I'm very keen on encouraging New Players into W40k and get a real kick out of it when they enjoy it. After a lot of experience I have adopted the following strategy:
  1. Play to win, but don't exploit your 'knowledge'.
  2. Explain the options and tactics available to every player - objectively (quite hard sometimes).
  3. Be honest
  4. Most important - be fair.
It only when we play with New Players we realise just how excrutiatingly complex W40k is. I've been playing for 20 years, so the whole 'roll to hit, roll to wound' concept is simple. For 'normal' people, who've only ever played something as complex as Risk - all the 4+, 3+, 5+ or 2+ rolls are bewildering. However after the first few turns the players start to get the hang of it and are 'tactically' aware.

This means you have a lot of responsibility to get it right, and be very honest (because you can effectively make it up, if you were a cheaty little wotsit!) Luckily for my opponents, I'm not.

The battle lasted 3 turns (which in a three way, explaining all the rules and explaining all the tactical choices - is FOREVER!) but was brilliant fun! Highlights included the Harikari Lictor, the objective in a tree and the 'ducking Shas'El'. All the teams were 500pts and the rules for a three way battle "Called Broken Alliance" can be found on pg.272-273 of the 'big' W40k rulebook.

Setup: Each team placed an HQ unit within 6" of the 'ammo dump' in the centre of the board. The rest of the armies were deployed within 12" of their 'base-camps', built around objective markers. The base camps were base in both corners of the one long board edge and the centre of the opposite board edge.

Objective: Capture/Contest objectives

Special rules: First up there's turn sequence. Unlike normal 40k it isn't linear! This makes for an incredibly lethal and tactically varied game. The idea is that whoever goes first one turn, automatically goes last next turn! The two remaining players dice-off to see who goes first. This means that armies frequently get two goes - which is lethal! Secondly, the rules for shooting into close combat go out the window. You can happily pepper a close combat fraccas, as long as your boys aren't in there. Any shots into combat are rolled on a D6 with 1-3 hitting your unintended (but equally satisfying) opponent.

Before we get started I have to say that this was one of the funniest battles ever - playing three way is a lot of fun (luckily the wife was involved!)

Just to add pressure, I was up against the entire in-laws. This included my partner (Bim), the mother in law (MiL), Father-in-Law ('Klaus'), Brother-in-Law (Cosser) and his partner (Danish).


Army Lists: Guard and Tau are discussing terms of surrender (they both think the other is surrendering) in no mans land when Hive splinter Urobus attacks. Every senient for themselves!

Tyranids (Suneokun and MiL): On random dice rolls this is the second time the MiL and I have fought together against a common foe. The first time was with a significantly reduced force, on the Tyranids first outing (see here) and we died quite spectucularly!

HQ: Broodlord (Feeder Tendrils) and 5 genestealers.
Elite: 3 Tyranid Warriors, one with rending claws and death spitter, one with rending claws and spinefists, one with scything talons and devourer.
Elite: Lictor
Troops: 10 Termagaunts with Scuttlers
Troops: 8 Hormagaunts
3 Ripper Swarms with adrenal glands

Tau (Cosser and Danish): Complete Noobs to playing, they were given a versatile and tricky force to get right and did a stellar job.

HQ: Shas'El with Flamer, Air Fragmentation projector, Missile Pod, Hard wired target lock, hard wired multi tracker and 2 gundrones.
Elites: Crisis monat team leader, Twin-linked Missile Pods, Fusion Blaster and Hard wired Multi-tracker.
Elites: Stealth Team [3], 2 burst cannons, team leader with fusion blaster and hard wired target lock, 2 gun drones.
Troops: Fire Warriors [9] with Shas'Ui.
Troops: Fire Warriors [9] with Shas'Ui.

Imperial Guard (Bim and Klaus): Bim's had some experience playing Guard and Tau - so she was going to do something clever. Klaus would bow to her better knowledge.

HQ: Junior Officer Command Squad [5] with 2 grenade launchers
Elites: Ratling snipers [4]
Troops: Platoon HQ [5] with 2 Grenade Launchers
Troops: Squad #1: Plasma Gun
Troops: Squad #2: Plasma Gun
Troops: Remnant Squad [5] with flamer
Troops: Armoured Fist with Heavy Bolter and a Chimera with Multilaser, Heavy Flamer and Heavy Stubber.

Deployment: We decided to agree turn sequence after deployment (otherwise it would have taken forever. Everything deployed bar the deepstrikers and flankers (the lictor, monat and stealth team).

The three HQ elements looked very uncomfortably exposed in the centre of the board, with the Broodlord and his 5 genestealer retinue looking particularly mean! The Tau Shas'El and Guard HQ looked exposed.

The imperial guard troops embedded in the cover with the command squads and remnant out front. The ratlings took their right flank while a plasma squad embedded in the building on their left flank.

The Tau bunched up around their objective, their two fire warrior squads looking very outnumbered when compared to the Tyranids or the Guard, but with strong fire lines on both adversaries.

The Tyranids deployed as far forward as possible.
Turn 1
The Tyranids Surge

We rolled for the first turn and the result couldn't have been better for the two gun lines. In a tangle of confused limbs, the Broodlord sucked his thumb. Guard would go first, then Tau, then Tyranids!

Imperial Guard (Turn 1-1st): Bim and Klaus wasted no time in targetting what they saw as the most lethal units in the Tyranid armada. The Broodlord came under withering fire from the remnant sqaud and ratlings and despite a cover save from most, 3 of the 5 genestealers bought it. The Heavy bolter and Tank targetted the Hormagaunts as Bim had long since learnt of their lethal charge. Meanwhile the flamer team was moved forwards and the Command squad retreated. One command squad targeted the Broodlord, whilst the other failed to kill the gundrone. Unluckily for Cosser and Danish, the Plasma team were within 24" and managed to secure the gundrones demise with a plasma gun shot. Some heavy bolter fire targetted the Tyranid Warriors, but whether it was the hive mind interference, not a wound was made.

Tau (Turn 1 -2nd): the Tau lacked the sheer firepower of the guard with so many units in reserve. The Shas'El targetted the tank side armour with his missile pod and AFP, despite getting a penetrating and glancing hit, he but only succeeded in a shaken result, the Chimera was shooting noone. The FireWarriors instead targetted the hormagaunts, reducing them to just two models. Satisfied that this enemy of the greater good was subjugated, they targetted the other squad at a Imperial Guard command squad and managed a single wound.

Tyranids (Turn 1 - 3rd): I hadn't moved a model, but had already seen my best assault units decimated... but not destroyed. However I knew something good. Coming last meant that I had a guaranteed 2 turns against the Guard and a 50/50 chance of having two turns on the Tau. Trusting the the tyranids speed (two turns worth) I sent the Hormagaunts (all 2) left with the Broodlord. The Termagaunts broke right, fleeting towards the Fire Warriors protecting their objective. They were followed by the Tyranid Warriors. Despite the combined fire of a devourer and deathspitter, not a single fire warrior died in the sqaud in the open. Meanwhile the Termagaunts charged the Tau Firewarriors in cover. To my surprise they were equal in attacks and the Tau held firm. The Remnant squad weren't so lucky and the 2 hormagaunts managed to secure 4 wounds to the guardsmen 1. I was down to a single hormagaunt - but not out - I had another turn! The Broodlord and retinue killed the command squad dead without comeback and consolidated towards the heavy weapon/armoured fist unit at the back. The rippers ran out into the open in front of the snipers - confident of their additional turn.

Turn 2
Tyranid Consolidation

With the Guard guaranteed coming last this turn, Cosser and Danish rolled off against the MiL and myself. The Tryanids won. Good news for this turn - but actually less helpful, as we would have to go last next turn!

Tyranids (Turn2 -1st): The Ratlings peeked up from their sniper sights just in time to get marauded by swarming rippers intent on their blood! The Ratling fought tooth and nail and despite everything being on the rippers side (tougher, stronger, x3 the attacks) the Ratling pulled out a draw at one wound each?! The Armoured Fist squad were equally lucky, while losing 7 men to the devastating broodlord and retinue, they managed to kill the remaining two genestealers. Despite this they routed and were pulled apart by a lonesome broodlord. Meanwhile the lone Hormagaunt happily leapt into combat against the command squad. Despite best efforts, neither side managed to wound! So with the close combat elements struggling, it was up to the basic troops to show the way. The termagaunts managed five wounds on the fire warriors and only lost one in the exchange. This was too much for the Tau and they broke and were pulled down by the ravaging lizards. The remaining 7 gaunts consolidated into the undergrowth capturing the enemies base! Meanwhile the three warriors moved into cover behind the hill and tried to wound the Tau firewarriors in the open. Despite some solid shooting the armour prove enough and only one fire warrior fell.

Tau (Turn 2 -2nd): The arrival of the Stealth team made up for the loss of their fire warriors. They flank attacked and arrived adjacent to the Chimera and the Broodlord. The elites attempted to use their 'target lock' ability to mix fire between the tank (with the fusion blaster) and some guardsmen (Cosser and Danish were well aware that the Tyranids weren't going anywhere). The stealth teams leader failed to hit with the fusion blaster, so Cosser committed the whole force to shooting the tank in the rear. One glancing and one penetrating hit later resulted in a destroyed heavy flamer and a shaken crew. The stealth team and their drones consolidated in their assault phase moved and leapt on top of the building housed by guardsmen - safety tucked away from Tyranids! The Tau Shas'El and the remaining 8 fire warriors concentrated fire on the Termagaunts holding their objective - forcing them to go to ground. The Monat failed to arrive from deep strike.

Guard (Turn 2 - 3rd): With a whole half of her army destroy in a single turn, Bim needed to take drastic action. Spurring her shaken tank into action, the Chimera shot forward 12". It might not be able to shoot, and may have lost it's most potent weapon - but the 10 troopers inside would be enough. They piled out and thanks to some clever placement, everyone but the sergeant was able to shoot. Their target - the Broodlord (or BroomLord, as Klaus insisted on calling him!). Denuded of his protective genestealer bodyguard, the 16 lasgun shots and 2 plasma shots added up fast and the Broodlord found himself with a single wound left. Meanwhile the other platoon squad had taken umbridge to their heavy flamer being destroy (Bim really likes flamers, especially heavy ones), and took it out on the Tau on their roof. Unfortunately for the plasmagunner, his weapon decided to vent all over him and he failed to hit. The other las shots were more successful and both the Tau Stealth-suits gundrones were killed - the stealth Shas'Ui held they're nerve though. In the final part, the Command team killed their recalcitrant Hormagaunt and consolidated 6" to the edge of the hill.

Turn 3 "Revenge of the Humans"

After taking advantage of my 'double move' I now faced a total of four turns between my last turn and the next... this was going to hurt! Bim faced off against her brother Cosser and the Guard won, the Tau would again take turn 2 - talk about consistent.

Guard (Turn 3 - 1st): Now the tables were turned on both the Tau and the Tyranids as the Imperial Guard demonstrated their awesome firepower. The command platoon, fresh from their 'Hormagaunt chopping' experience targetted the broodlord and easily dispatched his final wound with a couple of krak grenades and lasgun fire. Seeing this, the sergeant with the Chimera ordered his men back in the tank. Now unshaken and very much working the tank trundled forwards 6". The squad inside manned the starboard lasguns and the plasma gunner popped up through the whole. Added to this was both the multilaser and the heavy stubber. Cruising slowly behind the Tyranid Warriors and let rip. From the three surviving Tyranid Warriors, only a single warrior on a single wound survived. Meanwhile, back at their building, the platoon squad decided they REALLY didn't like the stealth suits on their roof. 17 las shots later, three pincushioned armoured forms crashed against the roof buttresses.

Tau (3rd Turn - 2nd): In a bizarre mirroring of the stealthsuits arrival, the Crisis monat arrived and deepstruck in front of the Chimera. He scattered back 5 inches, but still within 12". Both Missile Pod shots hit and the Fusion Gun. 2 penetrating shots! The tank STILL survived with another broken weapon and a shaken result... it could still drive! The Shas'El ordered his fire warriors to make for the Imperial Guard lines and engaged the Imperial command squad on the hill. The Fire Warriors complied and smoked the command squad with 8 hits, 4 penetrating their hill despite the team going to ground. Meanwhile the Shas'El moved into flamer range. Killing 3 termagaunts with the flamer, he also killed a further 1 with a scattering AFP shot. After consulting the tyranid codex, I established that the Termagaunts had 'lurked' and therefore were immune to leadership tests (although they also couldn't contest or hold the objective they stood on - maybe next turn...

Tyranids (3rd Turn - 3rd): Right, about time! I've got no-one left - how depressing... still. The tyranid warrior surged forward and despite only having one wound plunged into combat. His devourer managed to kill a single Tau on the way in, he then charged and killed four more. The remaining 3 Tau were unable to wound the Warrior in return and subsequently routed, being cut down by the desparate Xenos. The tyranid warrior consolidated within 12" of the gaunts in the wood. Meanwhile the fearless (and pretty pointless) ripper swarms rushed forward to attempt to reach ANYONE before the game ended. Finally, after several 1's on the previous turns, the Lictor arrived - a beautiful model and I'm really pleased how he turned out. He deep struck brilliantly next to the Crisis Suit Commander and leapt into close combat. Striking 4 times (reroll to hit - good...), he score 3 wounds (nice), none rending (boo), that were promptly saved (bah). In return, the Shas'El secured a single wound. Unfortunately, because of the new fearless rules he suffered another wound (and failed his save). Unfortunately, because of the new fearless rules he suffered another wound (and failed his save). My 80 pt Lictor had just commited Seppuku!

At this point we all agreed that midnight was a good point to stop - everybody thoroughly enjoyed the battle (although Klaus resented not being able to surrender in the first turn!) and we all got home to bed.

The tactic agreement on the night was that the guard were winning, but the Tau could maybe pull it back. My bruised and battered Tyranid force just didn't have anything left...


A cracking game I can definitely recommend, playing three ways both exaggerates the effectiveness of your forces while significantly extending their vulnerabilities. The setup for the GW Gamebook works really well - forcing all the armies to engage immediately. The turn sequencing is devastating and added a tactical dimension that I'm more familiar with from chess - thinking ahead is 5 or 6 turns (4 of which aren't yours!) is hard work. It was a great introduction to the game, but would be a brilliant challenge between experience gamers (and go a lot faster, the first turn took 2 hours!)

It actually reminded me of the tactical approach of games such as Advanced Space Crusade or SpaceHulk - where things are predicated around ambush and recovery - a sort of quick-quick-slow that gives a more latino beat to the normal GW 40k 4-4 heavy metal gameturn beat!

Guardsmen: Never has the strength of the new close combat rules been demonstrated so well as when nids fail to kill all the guardsmen! Despite having the worst guns and the worst armour, the guardsmen tallied through. Merit has to go to the two standard squads who accomplished the killing of a broodlord, the death of an entire stealthsuit team and performing a gangster driveby 'Chug-Style' with their Chimera! Special mention must go to the ratlings, who faced down a ripper swarm despite being the only thing on the board smaller than them - talk about against the odds.

Tau: the Tau performed strongly. Using their firepower well. Luckily for me, the Termagaunts were slightly better (in luck if nothing else) and the Termagaunt 'problem' took the Tau almost the entire game to resolve. Looking back - I should have charged the Tyranid warriors in as fast as possible - one warrior killed an eight man FW team - what could three have done. I was worried about the Shas'El however. Despite this, at the end of turn 3 - only the Tau had the anti-tank and the speed to challenge the Guard.

Tyranids: I love the broodlord! He's sweet (in an awesomely ugly sort of way). The performance of the Rippers was great, dropping well below the radar (literally) they snuck up on the ratlings. I'm seriously considering giving them leaping in future (at least against Tau) as templates worry me. The termagaunts worked hard and died hard - killing and securing the objective, they tied up the Tau all game. The hormagaunts were brilliant - managing to kill a squad with only two men. The biggest dissapointment of the battle - the Lictor. 80pts of nothing. That's 5 genestealers, or 8 Hormagaunts, or 16 spinegaunts! He sucks ... sooo badly. Why did I buy him, why did I take him? Can someone please explain to me what the Lictor is good for - cause he's dying a lot lately. Did I mention lately - he was sooo late.

Waste of a elite slot - period.

Anyhow - nobody secured an objective. Killpoints are a challenge as many times a unit was killed after being mauled by the third protagonist ... but here goes. Winner is worked out on kill point difference:

: Broodlord, genestealers, hormagaunts, 3 Stealthsuit and 2 gundrones - 4 killpoints.
Losses: HQ Command Squad, Platoon Command Squad, Ratling Snipers, Armoured Fist, Remnant Squad: 7 killpoints.

Lictor, HQ Command Squad: 3 killpoints.
Losses: Stealth Team, Fire Warrior Squad #1, Fire Warrior Squad #2 - 3 killpoints.


Kills: Platoon Command Squad, Remnant Squad, Ratling Squad, Armoured Fist, Fire Warrior Squad #1, Fire Warrior Squad #2 - 7 killpoints.
Losses: Broodlord and Genestealers, Hormagaunts, Lictor - 4 killpoints.

Which means the mother in law and I grab a moral victory over all the newbies!

So yeah, err carnage. Try it, its lots of fun!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

ARMYLIST: "Won't you bunch of flankers take a flying leap!"

New Plans for the Tyranids

By Suneokun

As some of you may be aware I have the odd habit of converting the unloved. What I mean by that is that there are some miniatures in many armies which are maligned and underused.

Take 'Bobby' (not his real name) case. Bobby is a beautiful concept fallen on the hard times of an unfriendly codex. He is ... an .... (sob) ... Ogyrn! This presents Bobby with multiple problems for getting on the board.

He's overpriced in points, Although he has 3 wounds ... he's only toughness 4 and this makes him nervous around ordinance templates, missiles and powerfists. His armour is inadequate and he can't shoot straight for toffee. While he has S6 attack with his ripper gun, this paints a big target on his head saying "shoot me I'm hot!". Due to all these things, Bobby is frequently left at home on the shelf and never taken for games. However, many Ogyrns never even leave a Games Workshop store. Sadly Ogyrns cost £12 EACH and require a forklift to carry home.

Many models like RoughRiders, Ogyrns, Raveners, Krootox and the entire Dark Eldar army list never make it out of the store and are doomed to a life of bleak silvered shininess, glinting despairingly at the young men and middle-aged life crisis people who cast cursory glances their way before noting their F or G tag...

Some models deserve it (like Dark Eldar), this is Gerald (voiced by an actor). Gerald is a 2 year old Ethereal.

"Yeah well alright whatever, he's painted me up nice - well I'm a good looking xenos, you know what I mean - but now he wants me to actually fight? Add value on his battlefield? Get stuffed, I say! I got better things to do than be useful.

He can take his reroll leadership and his honour guard and stick it where the greater good don't shine! I got my principles and it don't involve being eaten by no 'nid. I'm off, and woohoo for me - so is all these other cow-faced schmucks!"

Some models are irredeemable - but for others, their day on the battlefield is both deserving and long ordained. So join me in supporting the unwanted, overpriced and undervalued and help me field...

"The Army of the Damned!" (Sorry Sun - that's taken: Ed) ... oh errr... "The Untouchables!" (ditto: Ed). Bother. How about this ... (yep that's ok: Ed).

The UnMentionables - The Maligned Unit Conversion Club

Ok, so mirth aside - I'm on a mission to convert my way to fielding armies that people just don't see. They don't see them not becuase they're entirely useless, but mostly becuase fielding 30 GW legit Roughriders would cost you £210!

First up there's the RoughRiders. Cutting the Price from £7 per model to £2 each, I've fielding 10 cadian roughriders for £20.

Second up is the big money saver - Ogyrns! By converting my Ogyrns using bits, greenstuff and (relatively little) ingenuity, I've reduced the cost of 6 Oggers from a mind numbing £72 to a munchable £18 for the lot!

Fly, Fly, FLY my pretties!!

Thirdly, my next cunning plan is to build some Gargoyles... I am not the first to do this, but at £4 each for what amounts to a winged Termagaunt - I'm blown if I can't save some money. A cunning search through the google-web found me the following, and I find myself inspired:

Hive Fleet Valken

So with plasticard and greenstuff in hand I will bravely go where someone else has gone before and save me some money. I estimate that I can produce up to 16 Gargoyles from just one set of plasticcard and greenstuff (chuck in some wire etc for free). This bring the cost of Gargoyles down to a meagre 68p each.

This is gonna take some converting - but I think 16 gargoyles deepstriking would be magnificent!

So why the quasi-rude title?

An army based around mid-range beasties - gotta fail hasn't it?

Well I have a cunning plan (that isn't really that cunning). Part of winning battles is all about forcing choices on the opponent. You should alway attempt to challenge your adversary with difficult choices ... with Tyranids 'deniance' in range combat isn't really an option as they are sorely out gunned by everyone.

This gives the savvy general pause ... how do I make my opponent's life difficult. The answer is in maximising his difficult choices. One difficult choice I can force is by offering up multiple dangerour opponents in a broad arch. He must choose between targetting the terrifying Hormagaunts, or the numberless Termagaunts or does he risk all on targetting the Tyranid Warriors (strategically a good choice, but in cover and able to go to ground).

The other way is by confounding him with a variety of models. My plan is to force the opponents hand multiple ways. The first group, called "conventional assault" will attack directly at his lines from the deployment zone. They will be made up of Hormagaunts, Carnifi, Zoanthrope and Tyranid Warriors. The Tyranid Warriors will be comprised of two types ... a leaping close assault tyranid warrior with extended carapace (think uber Hormagaunt) and a 'shooting' warrior comprising Devourers and Deathspitters. Thus there are two 'waves' to my Tyranid horde:

Green - Owned
Amber - Near Future Purchase
Red - A long way away

Wave One
  • Hormagaunts (Troop 1)
  • Ripper Swarms (Troop 4)
  • Uber-hormagaunt warriors (Elite 1)
  • Crushing Claws+Tail+Tusked+Spineback Carnifex (Heavy 1)
Ripper Swarm 1: Check out the dying Guardsmens last effort

Wave Two
  • Tyranid Warriors (Death Spitter/Devourer/Barbed Strangler) (Elite 2)
  • Zoanthrope (x3) (Heavy 2)
  • GunFex - Barbed Strangler and Venom Cannon (Heavy 3)
Ripper Swarm 2: As less violent one, the rippers swarm over the Guard barricades

Flanking Wave
  • Broodlord and Genestealers (HQ 1)
  • Termagaunts (Troops 2)
  • Genestealers (Troops 3)
Flying Wave
  • Flyrant (Twin linked Devourers, Warp Blast, Scything Talons) (HQ 2)
  • Flying Warriors (Devourers, Scything Talons) (Elite 3)
  • 16 Gargoyles (Fast Attack 1)
This unfortunately leaves me no room for my recently painted Lictor (see below) - but he'll play a stellar role until I worked out how many years it'll take me to construct this lot.

My Lictor - fun but fragile: any suggestions?

So here's the plan, The zoanthrope, Gun/Claw fexes and Hormagaunts charge. By turn two they are close, the Hormagaunts have taken a pounding (as have the warriors and the Carnifi), then the termagaunts and genestealers hit the flanks - assaulting. Meanwhile the Flying Element deepstrike towards something valuable and either contests or massacres - depending.

Gargoyles are a useful unit with a fleshborer and 4 attacks on the charge - 2 at S3, 2 at S4. Tyrnaid player out there - let me know what you think?

Monday, 6 April 2009

PAINTING: Update - The Tyranids

By Suneokun

Since the last post in February I have finished off all but a few Tau and the next target on my list is the tyranids. Thanks to a cunning choice I went for lots and lots of hording Nid's with plenty of flanking and close combat options... so far completed are:

1 Broodlord
3 Tyranid Warriors
1 Lictor
8 Old Style Genestealers
6 Mid Style Genestealers
19 Termagaunts
8 Hormagaunts
2 Ripper Swarms

And left to do...

9 Termagaunts (oh I'm sooo tired of termagaunts...)
8 Hormagaunts
6 Tyranid Warriors (damnable turkey heads)
1 Ripper Swarm

Once I have this finished, and funding acceptable I intend to celebrate by extending my Tau and Tyranid forces by purchasing them a battleforce each, although perhaps not by buying them at the same time.

TACTICA: Storm in a teacup - the Armoured Fist

By Suneokun.

At the cusp of a new codex release for Imperial Guard, I've finally realised the merits of one of the least liked and most despised unit choices - the Imperial Guard Armoured Fist. Bit late now ... you might think, as so far the armoured fist hasn't featured in the leaks eminating from the upcoming Codex: Imperial Guard release, but Chimera tactics are worth looking into.

Complaints about the Chimera: is it a lion or an eagle?

The complaints on the armoured fist can be encapsulated in one neat statement made by an experienced legend in Guard fixtures (who's unfortunately fallen out of the tree at IGMB), TurtleBoy. In his words:

"Armoured Fists are like this - My house is on fire, and I have a teacup of water."

This dramatic designation stuck with me for years. It was in the depths of 4th edition, where any type of unit could capture any objective, Guard got routinely punished for being flabby and bad at shooting (disapearing battle cannon blasts anyone?) and the idea of spending points on an armoured fist was inconceivable.

The Chimera (with upgrades) cost nearly as much as a Hellhound or Basalisk. It has poor side armour (10), was slow and lack of any options (beyond the over priced hunterkiller missile) for anti tank. The biggest problem was actually inside the chimera. What could it deliver that could threaten or kill anything anyhow? The armoured is only a normal squad, with access to the same heavy/special weapons as any squad. However, as every commander knows, guards units only really work in numbers - 7 lasguns, a laspistol and a heavy/special weapon combo have the survivability of zero in isolation.

What changed: fifth edition

Fifth Edition didn't just open things up for the guard, they opened them up for the Armoured fist too. Whereas previously the armoured fist was totally eclipsed by the options and benefits of elite or HQ options, now this lowly 'troop' option was more appealing.

Change 1: give me flashlights - front and centre.

In 4th edition, the focus of firepower was squarely on low AP, with a high rate of fire coming in second. This meant that for guard players, command squads and veterans were extremely useful for fielding lots of special weapons which could toast the Marine Equivilents (MEQ's).

Cover saves were sparce, so the idea was to get the drop on the cluster of Space Marines and pelt them with plasma.

Common setups included leftenant and 4 grenade launchers/storm bolter/targetter for 24" move and fire attacks or the ignominous 3 plasma gun/medic and leftenant option. Otherwise against hordes you could field 4 flamers in a heavy flamer clad chimera to move, jump out a flame to death the horde of screeching tyranids. You could even field 4 meltaguns in your command squad for the shortest ranged/shortest lived entity in the game.

With the advent of 5th Edition, the guardsmen and Smurfs (space marines) alike get better cover saves, this means that your guardsmen might actually survive a round of shooting (shock horror!) and the 'woohahaha, eat plasma death Space Marine!" has becomes "Woohahaha, I've wasted 10 points reducing your saving throw from 3+ to 4+ and this gun might kill me, Arggghhh!"

Subsequently, I'm fielding many less 'plasma' weapons in my army. Don't get me wrong, they are still there. But the plasma and meltagun in the squad are there more for deterrance purposes than real function. They force the deep striking deamon or Tau Crisis suit to consider his options carefully - afterall, the inexpensive command squad with the mortar and the company standard that it would be nice to kill also has a weapon that can instantkill my Shas'El ... so maybe I'll target the flamer armed squad instead.

In the place of plasma, I'm fielding many many more lasguns. 30 seems to be a magic number. Thats a basic platoon (one command squad, two squads and a remnant) at 190pts. They can put out 60 shots at S3 at 12". The beauty of firing so many shots and rolling so many dice is the nervousness that suddenly affects the most ardent space marine player. 190pts is a 10 man space marine tactical squad, at this point the guardsmen and the marines are even (assuming both are in cover) - on rapid fire they will both recieve on average 3 wounds.

The key difference is that the Guardsmen has lost 10% of his force, the space marine player has lost 30%. This is the core of attritional warfare.

The second benefit is psychological. There is something comforting about having a 2+ saving throw for your terminator/broadside/Zoanthrope on one dice - however if you score 10 wounds on that unit it all changes. Suddenly your opponent is trying NOT to roll a 1. This can a remarkably hard on 10 D6. The tension of your opponent is feeling isn't pleasant. Subconsciously, that may even be something he avoids.

Change 2: 'Yeah, troops are actually important!'

Well, they are now. This is also combined with the fact that a single man is a troops unit uniform can secure an objective. Suddenly I want as many cheap, redundant and plentiful bodies in that transport NOW! Armoured fists now have a job, they might not be the fastest boys on the block - but they can now secure objectives, giving them a specific role on the battlefield.

The command squad of death is redundant - long live the cheap and cheerful armoured fist.

My preferred setup: the Chimera Gunship

As demonstrated in this battle report against the Tau. The Chimera has a valuable dual role as both an objective securer and an anti infantry firepower attack force.

This role is very effective at both the small scale of 500pts or less, or the larger scale of over 1500pts where you can take many.

Chimera Gunship: This baby rolls on behind the leman russ front line. Either the Leman Russ or cover will give the model a 4+ cover save. Frontal armour will handle any non-antitank weaponry. The gunship will trundle forward towards objectives and fire the Multilaser, heavy stubber and the Armoured fist heavy bolter. The combination of fire power withers opponents. At 1500pts I recommend 2+ units working in conjunction with Leman Russ and Lascannon Sentinel support. The flamer choice on the troops is for hordes. Otherwise, close and use the heavy flamer to great effect with the armoured fist securing the location.

Armoured Fist: Veteran Sergeant, Frag grenades, Meltagun (or flamer) and Heavy Bolter.

Chimera: Multilaser, Heavy Flamer and heavy stubber, extra armour.

Vulnerabilities: The gunship is very velunerable to antitank, being both low(ish) armoured and open topped (thanks to the boys firing out of the gunport). Best outrange the enemy antitank until its nullified by your own lascannons.

Strengths: low heat value despite the withering firepower. Very effective against entrenched positions (can frequently force go to ground). Less impressive on its own. The veteran sergeant is useful against not routing from last minute objective charges and holding off shooting vehicles. Ld8 is useful.

Edition 5: upgrades.

With the introduction of the Valkyrie, the Chimera is supposed to follow the Rhino and the Ork Trukk into the bargain basement of the transport options at approximately 40pts. This would mean your base armoured fist would constitutes a lean 90pts total (with Guardsmen at 5 pts each). My only wish is that the Chimera, like the hellhound and devildog, becomes a fast option. This would allow it a 12" move followed by 9 S7-S4 shots.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Normal Service will resume in two days.

By Suneokun.

As you can probably see, someone at Photobucket can't manage a customer friendly photo hosting system... hence the annoying messages.

All I did was use more than my 'allocated' bandwidth of 25GB in a month to bring you great shots and entertainment. Ironically, while informing me I was 'close' to the limit, they failed to mention how much I had left, or on the exact date the monthly limit reset.

I ridiculously thought it would be on the 1st April (as that is the start of the month). Now they've plastered their silly logo everywhere, highlighting how singularly unhelpful and bad at customer service they are. Effectively photobucket are using my photo's as hostage, and 'encouraging' me to buy their 'pro' product.

I'm not sure how much a sense of their professionalism their automated response is supposed to engender in me... I'm still thinking. I'm still wondering... no nothing yet - maybe if I eat something???

Anyway, I'm trapped in limbo until the 3rd, so apologies guys - but I refuse to give into terrorism and exhortion (albeit on a poorly managed/bad customer service/not actually life threatening kinda way).

Could use some support here ... and also - anyone know of a decent photo-hosting site? Recommendations guys!

Alpha Legion - a RAW Army list

By Suneokun.

I've copied and posted my reply to Warpstone Flux's superb April Challenge. His idea is to draw up an army list that best reflects the elements of the Alpha Legion. He leaves it open to the applicant on whether this should be pre-heresy (like the book) or post, and which Codeci to use.

After some thought, I had a brainwave - and the following is the result.


For those of you who haven't read the novel yet, Alpha Legion is well worth picking up. I borrowed it from the library on a whim, thinking that Dan Abnett was pretty consistent and quality so why not. I was delighted to find a novel so far removed from the usual space marine glorification tripe that usually written that it was fantastic.

Without ruining the story, the Alpha Legion are the Astartes what the CIA special Ops is to Regular battallions. The Alpha are the youngest legion and while their loyalty to the emporer is strong, their methods of warfare and subversion are everything the Roubutte Gulliman hates about battle.

The Alpha use extensive networks of spies both in the enemies ranks and their own, they pull strings and build secret bases and they're there weeks before the Imperial Army know about it. Simply put, the Alpha are seriously cool! They frequently DON'T where power armour, and don disguises.

You can see why Alpharius and Gulliman fell out, can't you?

So if you haven't read it, read it - it has as many insights into the imperial army and that not even touching on the creative genius engendered in John Grammaticus - the cabal spy.


My thoughts would be for a Space Marine Army (pre-Chaotic) in line with the book. I think this actually best represents the combination of behind the scenes Alphari, with their up front 'inductees' like members of the Gene Infantry securing positions and running interference.

Combining the DeamonHunters Codex with Codex: Space Marines allows me a totally RAW result that I think closely relates to the sort of elements that you see in the books. I'm particularly proud of including the landspeeder Storm as this actually appears in the novel.

On the battlefield, the GK Terminator and Vanguard deepstriking units, combined with the assassin would sow confusion, discord and disaster among the enemy ranks while the stormtroopers and Scouts would secure the objectives with Rhino and Landspeeder Storm.

My feeling is that relic blades and nemisis force weapons correctly represent the description of the Falc 'Chaotic' weapon adopted from the Nurth.

HQ - Alpharius holds the troops together while Omegon deep strikes death.

Space Marine Captain (Alpharius), Artificer Armour, Relic Blade (Falc), Combi Melta (cos Plasma doesn't exist) - 155pts.

Grey Knight Brother Captain (Omegon) with 4 GK Termies (representing the other key characters) - 245pts.

Elites - keeping it light, who else would you have on your side?

Jon Grammaticus (Callidus Assassin) with Polymorphine (representing his 'language' psyker skill), a neural shredder (fits), poison blades (wounds on 4+) and 'a word in your ear' ability - just fits too well - 120pts.

Troops - This force is built around the cutting edge units carving through the enemy while these units secure/challenge the objectives. The 9 man Geno units have a symmetry and also mean that the Space Marine commander in Artificer Armour can tag a ride in a Rhino.

9 man Geno Stormtrooper squad, 8 hellguns and 2 melta guns - 110pts.

9 man Geno Stormtrooper squad, 8 hellguns and 2 melta guns - 110pts.

10 man Scout Squad with Sergeant and Missile Launcher - 150pts.

Rhino - 35pts

10 man scout squad with Sergeant and Missile Launcher - 150pts.

Rhino - 35pts

Fast Attack - The Vanguard are onboard to cause havoc and cover he approach of the rhino's (with their geno troops/captain) and the deepstriking terminator HQ. The storms are for strategic objective grabbing.

5 Vanguard Vet Squad, jump packs, 1 relic blade - 190pts

Land Speeder Storm - 100pts

Land Speeder Storm - 100pts.

Total: 1500pts.

Errrm, I'm not sure if it'd be effective on the field - but it reads well... anyhow read the novel, and let me know/crit the army list.