The Big Project – Codex: Galactic Empire

So there I was, pulling out my old Space Hulk box set to (finally) paint up the miniatures, suitably inspired as I was by the release of the latest box set. I got thinking that Space Hulk was one of the best games of its type ever produced and that it was great that I had sufficiently organised myself (a big deal, I have so much on the go right now, I had to make a big list of what I was going to do and when) that I could get back to painting something like this rather than the next ‘must-have’ for whichever army I wanted to build up next.

Then I thought more…

If I have time to paint up Space Hulk miniatures, then why am I not doing the game I have really wanted to do for years now?

For a long, long time, I have wanted a 28mm Star Wars battle game, but none of the manufacturers who have had the licence have produced one. So, needs must – I would have to make one myself.

I had always intended to use the Battlefield Evolution rules (Starship Troopers to some of you) for this, but BF Evo is not currently in a state I am happy with on the ‘battle’ level (skirmish level, it is just fine, as evidenced by Judge Dredd and the forthcoming Warriors of Antiquity). I have a set of the rules covering battles in Stalingrad and another covering the Zulu Wars, but both of those are currently on the backburner and needing a lot of attention.

Then I thought, ‘hello, there is a set of sci-fi battle-level rules out there that everyone knows and should fit Star Wars very well – the structure is all there, it just needs a bit of work getting everything in.’

The game system is, of course, Warhammer 40,000.

So, the first thing I did was organise all my 28mm Star Wars miniatures.

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This is the merest smattering of what I have (when WotC released their Star Wars range I went, umm, a bit mad…). Anyway, I pulled everything together, organised it into squads and had a look at how they might fit into the rules.

I then had a further thought. I own a publishing company. What a whiz-o-whiz idea it would be if we could produce actual, printed, hardback Codexes for Star Wars – basically, get them looking as though Games Workshop themselves had printed these books.

Now, there are all sorts of copyright issues here, obviously, but these books will never go on sale.  We may print fewer than 10 of each. And no, you cannot have one. These are for me and my mates, so I can finally play the game I have always wanted to play.

The first thing I did was grab the latest few Codexes (Grey Knights and Orks), so I could replicate the format and wording of standard text – things like the Wargear lists, Warlord Traits table and Introduction, all the areas where the text does not change too much between books.

There is a lot of background text in your average Codex, particularly in the first few chapters, and I did not fancy writing that from scratch. That would be a major commitment, and it is not as if I don’t have enough books to write at the moment. Then a brain wave hit me – as this book is not being sold and is for my own personally use only, I can grab text from the Wookieepedia to fill in the background areas, and even things like unit and weapon descriptions. This frees me up to work on the actual rules and units in the game.

Last weekend, even though I spent time painting up that Ork Bommer, I managed to get about 70-odd pages done of Codex: Galactic Empire – I was somewhat fired up about this project and pulled some very long hours!

 

Codex: Galactic Empire

After drafting a few notes and setting up unit templates up in Word, I got cracking with Codex: Galactic Empire. It took about an hour to do the first unit, your basic Troops-choice Stormtrooper squad, as I wanted them more or less balanced with other Warhammer 40,000 armies (that might be a pipe dream, as Star Wars armies play very differently, but I am proceeding from that desire), and starting with the first unit required me to also detail weapons and equipment. The second and subsequent units (Elite Stormtroopers and Scout Troopers) were much quicker to run through, as a lot of the baseline work had already been done.

For the Stormtroopers, I ended up with this;

Troops slot, 40 points

Stormtroopers are the unwavering face of the Empire, seen keeping peace and order on thousands of worlds across the galaxy and serving as ever present reminders of the absolute power of Emperor Palpatine. They are an extension of the Emperor’s will, and thus often use efficient yet usually brutal tactics to keep star systems throughout the galaxy in line. The primary purpose of stormtroopers is to attack with speed, accuracy and overwhelming numbers whenever faced with insurrection against the Empire. Loyalty, obedience and the readiness to die for the Emperor are the traits indoctrinated into all stormtroopers.

WS BS S T W I A Ld Sv Unit Type Unit Composition
Stormtrooper 3 3 3 3 1 3 1 8 4+ Infantry 4 Stormtroopers
Sergeant 3 3 3 3 1 3 1 8 4+ Infantry (Character) 1 Sergeant
Veteran Sergeant 3 4 3 3 1 3 1 9 4+ Infantry (Character)

WARGEAR:

  • Stormtrooper armour
  • Blaster rifle
  • Thermal detonator
  • Concussion grenades

SPECIAL RULES:

  • Stubborn

OPTIONS:

  • May include up to three additional Stormtroopers                                            8 pts/model
  • May upgrade the Sergeant to a Veteran Sergeant                                                    10 pts
  • One Stormtrooper may take an item from the Special Weapons list.

 

The Stubborn neatly underlines their fanaticism, but they are not complete zealots and can be driven back. I made them pretty normal humans (BS 3, as they are not noted for their accuracy!), and their armour I effectively classed as carapace.  The Blaster Rifle, incidentally, is pretty much an AP 5 lasgun, Concussion Grenades are assault grenades, and the Thermal Detonator a meltabomb. In fact, I found as I worked through different units that a lot of existing 40k rules and units were easily re-purposed for Star Wars – I was fine with that, it made my life easier! For example, the Heavy laser Cannon on the AT-AT (yes, I have included one of those – it is a Lord of War) has the same stats as a lascannon.

Working diligently through this, I made my way through just about all the Imperial models in my collection – last night, I polished off the Dark Jedi who, again, fitted right in through the use of various universal special rules already present in 40k, and a new Force Powers (Dark Side) psychic discipline list. As it stands, aside from a mere handful of unit-specific mechanics, I have yet to find a need to create any new rules to fit Star Wars into 40k.

I am going to work on Codex: Rebel Alliance this coming weekend and maybe next week I can get some playtesting in…

 

Thinking Ahead

At the moment, I am aiming to get just Codex: Galactic Empire and Codex: Rebel Alliance done (and, yes, printed for my library). However, I would be lying if I said I could not see all sorts of ways this project could expand. I already have enough miniatures for decent Droid and Republic Clone armies, so they are an obvious way to go.

It has also occurred to me that a Codex Supplement/eBook-only Codex would be a decent idea. Just think, you are using Codex: Galactic Empire, and you decide to use a detachment from Codex: Bounty Hunters… There is also scope for doing mini-Codexes on various aliens in the Rebel Alliance (I have enough models to do convincing detachments for Wookies, Ewoks and, yes, Gungans), various Sith-related forces, and then there are all the models I have for various factions in ‘the Fringe’.

I could do a whole campaign system. Or perhaps I could dust off those rules we did several years ago, converting A Call to Arms to Star Wars (I was always quite happy with those rules). Then perhaps I could track down some 6mm scale Star Wars models (or get them sculpted – why not? There has to be some reasonable benefit to owning a games company!), and do an ‘Epic’ conversion.

So, you get the idea – Star Wars is huge and there is a great deal of gaming potential in there (hmm, perhaps I could link a miniatures game into an RPG..?). However, for now, I am firmly fixed upon Codex: Galactic Empire and Codex: Rebel Alliance. I’ll see how I feel about the rest of the project when those two are done!

 

Oh, and once again, no, you cannot have any of these books when they get printed. But if you drop me a line at msprange@mongoosepublishing.com, I would be more than happy to send you the current Word documents, in whatever state they are in. All I ask is that you actually try them out, push some models round the table, and let me know how you get on!

Deff From the Skies

Not a huge amount of painting done this weekend – instead, I got wrapped up in a major new project which I will tell you all about a little later this week (it is seriously cool!).

However, I did polish off this little chap…

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My first Burna-Bommer!

I did it in Bad Moonz colours, as I figured they would be rich enough to field flyers first. That said, I do have a problem with this craft…

The whole point of me doing a Burna-Bommer was to take care of Dark Eldar Reaver Jetbikes, which Alan uses with some regularity, and he had been making noises about picking up more. He just has three at the moment and with their 36″ move, blat a unit, move ability, they are something of an annoyance. Against Orks, they can have little real effect against the big units of Boyz but they can do noticeable damage against small elite units such as Lootas and any loss with Grey Knights can be an issue. With their movement, they are difficult to catch and you don’t really want to dedicate a unit to hunting them down.

All well and good, but if they suddenly grow to a unit of 10, or if multiple units start appearing, they will need dealing with. I needed something that could get to any area of the board and deliver weapons that ignored cover (because of the Reavers’ 3+ Jink).

Enter the Burna-Bommer! It comes screaming on, unleashes four Skorcha missiles (killing Reavers on a 3+ while ignoring their Jink) of which only a couple need to get close to do the job, as they are Burst weapons. That down, the Burna-Bommer still has two missiles left plus two massive fire bombs to take care of any Warriors or Wyches lurking in cover (where else are they likely to be?).

However, the latest rumours from the new Dark Eldar Codex (due a little later this week) say the Reavers have lost their huge hit and run attacks and instead get enhanced Hammer of Wrath. Now, the rest of my Orks find that really funny (against a mob of 30 Boyz it will be like flying into a brick wall), but it means the whole reason for bringing the Burna-Bommer is somewhat redundant. Going to have to dedicate it to hunting skulking Archons now…

Anyway, just wanted to let all you Dark Eldar players know that the pain of your new Codex is not just being felt by you!

 

Growing Armies

I managed to complete everything I needed to do (work-wise) by Friday last week, so I allowed myself the luxury of a weekend’s worth of painting! As well as putting together a bunch of models for (hopefully) next weekend’s painting, I also managed to finish off a few models.

I started off with the remaining Killa Kanz from the Stormclaw box set.

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I really like the poses I got out of these two chaps, as they not only look as if they are actually making their clanking way across the battlefield, but also that there is an eager Grot inside who cannot wait to beat up something! The only problem is…

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The others look a bit static in comparison (can’t really be helped with the older metal ones). Anyway, I now have a full unit of six and, having already seen what four Kanz can do together, I am looking forward to getting these onto the table. Three of them have Rokkits which, with the Grot’s Ballistic Skill of 3 (they are positively snipers, compared to Orks!) should give cause for worry, certainly against Dark Eldar and even against the lighter Marine tanks. Two more have Skorcha’s, to keep Haywire-carrying Wyches away, and the last has a Big Shoota because, well, I didn’t want to completely cheese out!

I stopped short at giving them Grot Riggers because they are somewhat redundant on vehicles with just 2 Hull Points and this is meant to be a cheap unit.

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These are more models from the Stormclaw set, but I really did not need more Nobz in either of my existing clans. So, I did them in Goff colours to suit the Warlord I painted up last week. I am not planning on actually doing a Goff army but if I ever come into possession of a whole bunch of spare Slugga Boyz (Shoota Boyz would be destined for my Bad Moonz), then the leadership is already there.

I just have the Grots left to do from the Stormclaw box set (I am obviously not going to touch the filthy Space Wolves!), and they are actually half done – will probably polish them off next week, in Bad Moonz colours (already got a full unit of 30 for my existing clan).

Finally…

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Purifiers for my Grey Knights!

You can pretty much ignore my initial review of the new Codex: Grey Knights as after several games with them now, I am officially designating them Not Bad At All. They are more fragile and risky to play than, say, Orks or Dark Angels but, as the man says, they have got it where it counts.

So, Purifiers. I was going to do a Purgation Squad, but unless you are planning a static defence (which does not work in most scenarios for Grey Knights), their weapon load outs are problematic. Yes, you can have four special weapons in the unit, but what will you choose? The Psycannon is nice enough, but it is only throwing out two dice as they advance, making the unit fairly static to get best effect (and with only 24″ range, they may not be firing at a great deal). The Psilencer? Six dice are nice, but the lack of AP, the static nature, and 24″ range again make them problematic. Could be terrifying against monstrous creatures though with the Force rule but for me that means the Talos, and the Grey Knights already have several interesting ways of dealing with them.

Four Incinerators in such a unit, riding around in a Rhino or Razorback does sound good. The trouble is, four Incinerators are just overkill on, well, pretty much anything.

So, I went for Purifiers. You can pop in two Incinerators with this unit which is a little bit of an overkill but will take care of anything that happens to survive the first blast of fire. I gave everyone else the Falchions to boost their Attacks which, combined with Soul Blaze, should give this unit a bit more of a punch than the average Strike Squad. What really swings the choice for Purifiers is they start out just 15 points more than a Strike Squad (before you add toys) but the whole unit counts as a Level 2 Psyker (more dice!) and they get the Cleansing Flame power as standard, which my regular Dark Eldar player hates.

Still, it seems he will be getting his new Codex, maybe towards the end of next week, so stand  by for a review!

Imperial Knights, an Elf, and an Ork

Been way busy lately. As well as having a veritable stack of books to write (most of them due before the end of the year), I decided to complicate my life and start the degree course I have always told myself I would do. So, certain life style changes have been taking place, which has not left a whole bunch of time for gaming or painting – but, dedicated gamer that I am, I have managed to squeeze some things in.

I got hold of the Nemesis expansion for the Relic board game (the 40k version of Talisman), and was going to do a review of it – I may come back to that later but, in a nutshell, we have had two games with it, and it works very well.

I also managed to squeeze out a single High Elf the weekend before last, a mounted Battle Standard Bearer.

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I have a couple of problems with this chap. First off, I messed up the actual standard – never been good at painting this sort of thing and it is not the type of painting the Magic Goop can simply cover. Quite happy with the elf himself though.

The other issue is whether he is actually going to get used or not. In a typical 2,000 point game, I am already seriously pushing up my Hero allowance with Mages and have difficulty squeezing in a decent Noble as it is. Add to that, the logical unit to put this guy in is my Dragon Knights. However, they are already sky high in points, are already devastating, and are already carrying the Banner of the World Dragon, which is difficult to top even with a Battle Standard Bearer.

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Next up is the Warboss from the Stormclaw set. Now, I already have two Warbosses, one for each of the clans I am currently working on, so I pakinted this one up as a Goff, as per Stormclaw. Maybe, some day, I will do a third clan, and this guy will be waiting for some friends. The Nobs from Stormclaw are already on my painting table and, given the other two clans have Nobs in abundance, I think they will be Goff as well. The Goffs will be waiting for a while for Boyz though, as both of the other clans have first dibs on any that come my way.

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However, now comes the real point of this post – I got another Imperial Knight done, finally bringing a Thermal Cannon to the arsenal. I have dubbed him Sir Humpalot, but have to think of a better name…

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I am not treating the Imperial Knights as a serious army, just adding to them now and again – and Humpalot brings me up to a grand total of two, both from House Cadmus (picked strictly because I knew the paint scheme would be easy!).

They were given a whirl earlier this week, in two 750 point games against Dark Eldar, using the Relic mission both times. In the first game, Alan was only semi-prepared for them, and the Dark Eldar were gunned down in 15-20 minutes. In the second, he prepped an army specifically built to take them down and, predictably, they both fell after four turns.

Lessons learned;

1. I have used the Battle Cannon knight several times as an ally to Grey Knights, and watched both knights work together against the Dark Eldar. And you know… I have a suspicion they are a little over-pointed. Sure, they have a nasty ranged weapon each, but only one. Sure, they have a Destroyer close combat weapon. They are also Super Heavy, have 6 Hull Points and the Ion Shield. But as allys, the knight never really seemed to earn his points back…

2. I like the Thermal Cannon. May only be 36″ range, but that is all you need against Ravagers, and you only need to roll a 4+ to pop them with a penetrating hit (AP 1 and Open-Topped). They will also cause havoc against any tank.

3. The knights have range  – so don’t move them in close! That said, I will probably ignore that advice when going up against Guard. Those Thermal Cannons and Reaper Chainswords will put paid to any tank, and knights can certainly go one-on-one with any non-Super Heavy  armoured vehicle the Guard have.

4. Going by the FAQ, once you have three knights, the Warlord becomes a Seneschal with a 3+ invulnerable save on his Ion Shield. That will be something worth seeing, especially if he gets the trait that awards him the It Will Not Die rule.

Anyway, it will probably be another 6 months or so before another knight gets added, but they are building up slowly.