Mighty Empires

So, this Saturday five of us got together and went through a Mighty Empires campaign for Warhammer Fantasy. Three of the players were new to the game, so we figured most of the games would be floating around the 500 point range. This meant none of the big and exciting models would appear but, as it turned out, that did not stop things getting downright vicious…

We had already sorted out the hex map, and so went ahead to choose our cities. Ed and his Chaos Warriors chose to place themselves as far away from anyone else as possible, while I choose to go right in the middle (I knew that was asking for trouble, but there were plenty of mountains to mine there and I was counting on the reputation of the High Elves to keep challenges to a minimum). Alan’s Undead, James’ Wood Elves and Amy’s Skaven scattered themselves in the foothills and farmland below the mountains.

 

Round One

The first round of challenges went out and, because we had an odd number of players, someone was going to be double-teamed – in Might Empires this you either fight two separate battles or the points get divided between two armies.

As it turned out, both James and I were on the same team (all elves together!) against Alan’s Undead and, just to spite us, Alan declared he would stay at a single 500 point battle, meaning James and I would have a measly 250 points each. Alan’s thinking was that with cheap Zombies and Skeletons, he could have a reasonable army while the elves and all their expensive units would have a hard time fielding anything worth taking.

Oh, it so didn’t turn out that way!

James and I worked well together, with him providing two solid blocks of Wood Elf Archers, while I supplied Reavers, Sisters of Avelorn and, importantly, a Noble on Warhorse and Level 2 Mage.

Alan had taken (on my advice, damn me!) a unit of Black Knights who were immediately labelled ‘Priority Target One.’ My Mage, drawing upon the Lore of Light, smashed three of them in the first turn, and another fell to the Sisters, ably commanded by James. The last Black Knight turned and ran, desperate to get back to his Necromancer for a ‘top up’ but he was run down with a lance in the back from my Noble, who had trotted over to guard the Sisters against a charge.

Things kinda went downhill for the Undead from there, with James and I competing in a new sport we had devised, ‘Who Can Get the Necromancer First.’ As it turned out, the answer was Wood Elf Archers, though my Noble was just preparing for his charge. With the general gone, the Undead fell apart in a fairly predictable manner.

Game to the Elves!

 

Round Two

Ed and Amy had fought one another in the last round (victory to Ed and his Chaos Warriors) and this time round I was facing Ed – and was joined by James again! Ed agreed to a 1,000 point game (meaning the Elves could have the ‘full’ 500 points each this time), and I watched in some dismay as his Champion promptly turned into a Daemon Prince.

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I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive in this battle as I have never faced Chaos Warriors before but know they are nasty in close combat. The Elf plan was clear – under no circumstances was any enemy unit to be allowed to reach us.

As it turned out, things went quite well for Elvenkind. My Reavers did their usual Vanguard move/get in the face of enemy unit/but avoid combat, and delayed one block of Chaos Warriors and the Daemon Prince. Meanwhile, the Archers wiped out the Chaos Hounds and Chariot, while my Mage (now sporting the Lore of Metal) turned Chaos Warriors into gold and otherwise made them regret their heavy armour. The game ended when the Wood Elf Hero shot the Daemon Prince with his 3D6 arrow and downed it.

On the other table, Alan got a victory over Amy’s Skaven.

 

Round Three

It has to be said, the Elves were feeling pretty confident by this time and we saw no reason to break our alliance. James was capturing more territory than my High Elves, but I felt we had better quality territory. So, no need for inter-racial fighting (just yet).

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This time round, James and I took on Amy’s Skaven but she opted for a 500 point game again which meant we were back down to 250 points each. However, by this time we had all started earning gold from our territories which meant we could boost our points a little which made things easier for the Elves.

The battle was by the numbers, as far as the Elves were concerned – fast-moving stuff causing havoc among Skaven lines while the Archers and Mage whittled their lines down from range. So far, so standard.

The problems began when my Mage, mishandling a powerful casting of Fiery Convocation, detonated with the magical energies he was (mis)using. Plenty of Skaven were immolated and my Mage took the Strength 10 hit like a man (and ducked the shadowy hand that reached for him out of the warp), but four Wood Elves were blasted out of existence by the explosion. This caused the remaining Elves in that unit to flee off the battlefield.

Up to this point, those were the only losses either Elf army had sustained all day.

To say it caused some bad feeling was an understatement. We nobly defeated the Skaven, but James had banned me from sharing his forests…

On the other table, Ed and Alan were fighting, and I believe it was a victory for Alan’s Undead (can’t be sure, I had a Wood Elf to placate at the time…).

 

Round Four

This was to be the last round of the day, as time was getting on, and I faced Amy’s Skaven alone while James took on a combined Chaos and Undead force against Alan and Ed.

My battle was fairly easy to describe – nothing went right for the Skaven and they ended up running, mostly while on fire.

However, on the other table James got absolutely hammered by the Chaos and Undead. Just goes to show, Wood Elves need direction (they are after all barely sentient, still worshipping trees…) if they are going to hold their heads up high. Under this onslaught however, they were wiped out to an elf.

In defence of the High Elves, I would say that throughout the day, not a single High Elf lost their life. Not one.

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In the end of game admin, Alan pulled a blinder and built a bunch of cities with dead people inside, giving him enough territory to win the campaign!

 

Summary

We all agreed the Mighty Empires campaign was fun, and certainly added more to the games themselves than we would have had if we had just fought four battles each that day. It is also worth pointing out that we completed the campaign in a single day – true, we had small games, but even if we went to 1,500 or 2,000 points on average (as we are planning to next time round), it could still get done in a weekend.

In all, I would heartedly recommend the Mighty Empires system – it has just enough structure while not getting in the way of any additions or twists you want to put in yourself. In fact, I liked it so much I went out and promptly ordered the Planetary Empires set so we can do the same thing in 40k!

I would, however, make some observations/changes next time round, which I will be bringing up with the other players. The Mighty Empires system is supposed to be just a framework, so putting your own spin on things is very much in the spirit of it.

1. The victory conditions are great for a day’s or weekend’s play, but I think a campaign should go on for longer – perhaps for as long as you play the game seriously, I guess, as it gives form and function to the battles you play. In fact, you can even choose to start a new army halfway through!

I like the idea of getting together, playing a bunch of games, advancing your territories, and then going away for a week or two to work on fiendish new models which then get fielded in the next round of games. Just adds a certain something.

However, to do this, we need to look at the victory conditions. By default, you win by claiming 10 territories (each city hex counts as two) or by knocking out another player by taking their last territory (and you can only take territories if you beat that player in a game). The first thing I would want to do is stop the ‘surge’ whereby you save Empire Points and then suddenly splurge out on new hexes and/or cities. The obvious adjustment there is to control the rate at which players can build (there is no real control on it). Or, possibly, eliminate that victory condition, so someone has to get knocked out to give a winner – this has the advantage of sorting out the issue on the battlefield and gives other players a chance to counter the attempt (by throwing events at the aggressor or actually taking to the field in an alliance).

Possible downside: the campaign never ends!

2. I want to work siege battles into this system – after all, you can build castles in the game, and I just happen to have a very nice 28mm scale castle sitting here. I don’t know of any such rules in the current edition of Warhammer, so I may have to go back in time and use one of the older sets and adapt it. However, it does mean players will need ladders at the very least and very likely rams and siege towers. So, bit of prep needed and, frankly, it was hard enough to get some players to bring half-painted models to the table.

3. The victory conditions need a review for another reason. By RAW, most things start in the campaign side of things with the player with the smallest empire – this works well, as it gives them an advantage and stops the larger empires dominating. However, it also works for campaign victory, which is achieved immediately upon certain conditions (outlined above) being attained.

This means, in theory, a player with a smaller empire (and, thus, one not doing so well) could attain the victory conditions in the same turn as a larger empire, but claim victory first.

Could be bit of a kick in the teeth.

So, I am thinking some sort of tie-breaker is needed if two or more players hit the victory conditions (whatever they end up being) in the same turn.

And that tie-breaker needs to be sorted out on the battlefield 🙂

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Sicarian Battle Tank

I don’t usually get a great deal done mid-week but, as I said in my last post, I had forgotten how quick vehicles can be to paint. And so, I present to you the Sicarian Battle Tank, the latest addition to my Dark Angels!

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Quite happy with this bad boy and looking forward to giving it a whirl on the battlefield. It is going to be the bane of light vehicles, but the added Lascannon mean it can still go toe-to-toe with Guard tanks and those from the filthy Ultramarines, while the Legacy of Glory upgrades give it a range of cool options, from increased BS (missing on 2’s!) to Tank Hunter and anti-aircraft capabilities!

I’ll let you know how it goes (getting destroyed on the first turn, most like…).

Mighty Empires Campaign

I had forgotten how quickly vehicles can be painted up, regardless of their size. Last night I had a lazy evening but, even so, I was able to get the majority of my new Sicarian Battle Tank done – would have been completed if not for drying time, so expect so news on Dark Angels reinforcements later this week!

Anyway, onto the meat of this post.

First up, I managed to get quite a bit done last weekend and as well as my Grey Knights (last post), I managed to polish off some more High Elves.

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I have had the ten Swordmasters from the Island of Blood box set for quite some time and while they are nice (two Attacks each, Great Weapons with Always Strike First – what is not to like?), a mere ten is never really enough, especially in a 2,000 point game. The trouble is, everyone likes Swordmasters so picking more up cheaply on eBay can be an issue. In fact, it took me nearly a year, but I finally picked up a bundle for less than a fiver, enough to pad the unit out to 20 elves. That is a bit more realistic for a durable unit that can kick out the attacks.

They were metal but, as you can see in the photo, they are difficult to pick out from the plastics (especially if you put the newer models up front).

Quite pleased with how this unit has turned out, almost makes me look as if I am not completely useless at painting! Now I just need to get another 20 Swordmasters together for the cheesefest horde unit!

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I also did this chap, the Lothern Sea Helm that came with the Sky Cutter (which is currently sitting on the painting table, waiting its own turn). It is nice that you get these characters in with kits like that, and this chap is nicely posed (as are a lot of the new plastic High Elf characters) but I really do not need yet another Hero or Lord in my High Elf army. Even with the new Heroes and Lord allowances that come from the End Times revisions, I cannot even begin to field all my characters in an army. Need more archers!

Still, the ability to get my Sea Guard to turn around to face flank attacks might be interesting, and lower level Heroes like this chap may just get a look in because…

 

The Mighty Empires Campaign

Some of the chaps here have decided to do a Warhammer Fantasy campaign, and I thought it would be a whizz-o-whizz idea to use the Mighty Empires set as the basis for this. So, I duly picked one up and last weekend, alongside these elves and the Grey Knights, I painted up an entire Mighty Empires board!

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Not the most interesting painting project but it should be worthwhile once we start playing. I’ll keep track of this campaign (we start this Saturday) and I have added a Battle Reports section to this site so you can see what happened in the most exciting games. Hopefully I will use it for other games too!

Anyway, on Saturday this map will have our initial cities and flags placed upon it, and hopefully we can get through a couple of rounds of the campaign. We are starting with 500 point forces, as some of the players are only just starting Warhammer, which is a real problem for High Elves. However, despite doubts from the others at my ability to do so, I have managed to figure a way to squeeze a Noble on a Griffon in a 500 point force and still have three full units on the table. Not easy for High Elves!

More news on my force later (at least one of the other players reads this, and there must be some secrets!), but this is the current line up of armies;

Me – High Elves
Alan – Vampire Counts
Amy – Skaven
Ed – Chaos Warriors
James – Wood Elves

Now, Elven intelligence on these armies is sketchy at the moment, but I know Alan has abandoned his ideas of having two Necromancers in his army, or of making one a level 4 (a few test games where his general miscast and immolated himself, thus destroying the whole army put paid to that). He has also been talking about modest blocks of Skeletons and Zombies, flanked by Graveguard and Ghouls – need to be careful of the Graveguard but then, that is what the Sisters of Avelorn were created to defeat.

Ed, it seems, has a unit of Nurgle Chaos Warriors (5 or 10 men, I am guessing), a Chariot (maybe carrying his General?) and Warhounds. The Chaos Warriors need respect, not sure about the life expectancy of the Chariot against either Elf army.

Not sure what rats Amy is taking. I know she has Stormfiends and a Verminlord in her collection but the latter can’t appear and the former only in very small numbers. Also, her test games have not gone well with regards to war machines. Or break tests, for that matter.

James has had a test game against Alan that I watched – typical Wood Elf bumpkin tactics, bringing their trees with them. Let them eat Griffon, I say. However, he does have a singular ability to make 5+ armour saves. Just have to make sure he does not get an armour save, I suppose…

As I say, our first games are on Saturday, I’ll bring an update of the first round of battles!

Reinforcements from Titan

For once I had a successful painting weekend. I got some DVD box sites together (X-Files, Cosmos, Spooks and The Fall – the latter quite good actually, and has Gillian Anderson in it), and actually managed to get through everything I intended, most unusual.

The first job was to re-goop the Deathwing Knights I posted last week. I managed to scrape together the original wood varnish used for the Magic Goop (Ronseal instead of B&Q’s own brand – the latter is fine, but lighter in shade) and went over them again. They are still a bit light but given how old these Terminator suits are, a bit of variation throughout the company does not go amiss. In fact, the lighter shade would probably be good for all of them, had I mixed it up years ago. Still, that’s the way things go…

The main thrust for 40k though was some additions to my Grey Knights. Can’t say they really need more models (though a Land Raider would not go amiss), but a couple had been acquired and were waiting for a chance to get onto the painting table, and that chance came via a recent battle with Alan’s Dark Eldar.

In this game, the Paladins, ably led by a Librarian, had knocked a Raider out of the sky and then proceeded to wade through the Incubi and Archon that fell out of it. While successful, this left them out in the open which meant almost the entire Dark Eldar army fired into them in the next turn. Two squads of Kabalite Warriors close enough to Rapid Fire, a twin Splinter Cannon Venom, two Dark Lance-armed Ravagers, plus two more Dark Lances from the Warrior squads.

When the smoke cleared, two Paladins had fallen and the Librarian had sustained a wound.

Impressive enough, but I could not help feeling it would have been a bit more, umm, heroic if an Apothecary had been present and, in the new Codex, Apothecaries are actually a decent cost.

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Note the Apothecary on the far right 🙂

I also added an Incinerator-armed Paladin, to give me some choice and variation in the squad and a leader (he with the tabard), just in case I am ever mad enough to field two squads of Paladins (presumably in a 2,000 or 3,000 point game…).

The sharp-eyed among you may spot there are only four Paladins in this picture and there are five in a box. Well, I have got a Knight carrying a Brotherhood Banner all painted up (figured the +1 A to all Knights in his squad would be fun) but I am going to have to muster up the motivation to do the banner itself – a nice, complicated design, and a topic for a post in the future…

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I am not massively into special characters (the Dark Angels may be something of an exception there), but I managed to grab Castellan Crowe cheaply on eBay, so he got thrown into this batch of Grey Knights. He has not come out too bad, I think, but I am really not sure where he will get used. He is all kinds of awesome in a challenge, but how to get him there? He cannot Deep Strike with the Terminators, which means if he is going to have a chance of getting into close combat he needs a vehicle, and an assault one at that – which means a Land Raider, probably a Redeemer. Which I do not have for my Grey Knights. He will also need a squad to back him up, which probably means Purifiers, and now things are getting a little expensive to get just one model into close combat.

Needs thought.

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And then there is this chap, a Doomglaive Dreadnought, using Forge World parts to modify a normal Marine Dread. As with most Forge World items it seems a little pricey at 190 points, but I had cause to sit down and compare it with the standard Dreadnought in the Codex.

If you upgrade the Codex Dreadnought as much as you can, like-for-like, you end up with a Venerable Dreadnought with an Assault Cannon and Heavy Flamer at 180 points. So, in those terms, for just 10 points more, you get an Incinerator instead of the Heavy Flamer (+1 S), a Psycannon instead of an Assault Cannon (+1 S again) and the Doomglaive – acts as a normal dreadnought close combat (nasty enough) but if you choose to strike at Initiative 1, you get an extra D6 attacks.

Certainly worth thinking about and, on the face of it, seems like a good deal.

However, 190 points also buys you a seriously tricked out Dreadknight. 190 points for this Dreadnought is a little tough to justify, especially as the Grey Knights do not have Drop Pods and so it cannot Deep Strike.

If I had a free choice of Dreadnought (and, to be fair, I did, I just wanted to paint up a ‘specialised’ Grey Knights Dreadnought), then I would be thinking in terms of twin-linked Lascannon so it can get stuck in with long-ranged targets from Turn One – and do so quite cheaply.

This Dreadnought will have to be used very carefully.

 

Now, all of the above alone would have made for a successful weekend – but I also managed to get a fair amount done for Warhammer Fantasy too. I’ll be covering that in the next post…

Wave Serpent No. 3

I am really trying to avoid the Wave Serpent ‘spam’ that often causes people to deride Eldar armies (and after hearing about a friend going to a US tournament with six of them in an 1,850 point force, I think I am far away from that).

However, a recent battle against an unbound Space Marine army that loaded up on Whirlwinds and, more to the point, Predators, caused me to put together a third Wave Serpent. My existing two went with the fairly light Scatter Laser turrets, but they just do not cut it against armour. I needed a Bright Lance-equipped Wave Serpent.

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What I am really hunting for now (by which I mean trying to find on eBay for less than £5/squad) is a unit of Fire Dragons with an Exarch. Paired up with this or another Wave Serpent, they will properly round out the anti-tank side of my Eldar and allow me to concentrate on more fun but less necessary things.

Still could use both a Falcon and a Fire Prism though…

Sisters of Avelorn

I mentioned the Fish Pile in my last post – these are the final models that were taking up room on my painting table, ten Sisters of Avelorn for my High Elf army.

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As it turned out, there was really no reason for them to be in the Fish Pile – once I got properly started, they turned out to be relatively easy to do. The biggest challenge was figuring out where the pinkness should go and, in the end, the bows seemed the logical place.

I need to do at least another 8 of these girls (to make up a unit three ranks of six), but that is no longer the bear I was dreading. Already go the models, will piece them together ASAP and get them done at a fairly rapid pace.

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The main driving force for getting this unit completed is that the chaps (Alan, Amy, Ed and James) are starting a WHFB campaign in a few days time, using the Mighty Empires hex campaign. I was more than happy to dive into this, as I figured it would get me looking at different aspects of my High Elves, especially as we are starting with 500 point games (some of the players are just starting their forces).

The points values will have to go up a bit before the Sisters get a look in, but they certainly seem to be an interesting unit. BS 5 (which is a much bigger deal in Fantasy than it is in 40k) means they can do some real damage at long range (shame they are not using Long Bows – I mean, what kind of Elves are they?), and the Strength 4, flaming arrows with the -1 save modifier will give me the feeling that the army is firing more than just feathers at the enemy. And at short range they will, frankly, rule.

 

Coming Next

As well as these girls, I managed to put together a fair few other models that I will at least get started this weekend – those hex tiles for Mighty Empires (something of a priority as we start the campaign a week Saturday), Grey Knight Dreadnought, Castellan Crowe (an interesting character, though I am not sure how to best use him yet – at least, not without an attending squad in a Land Raider), a Firestorm Redoubt (fear me, flyers!) and, the prize of the bunch, a new Sicarian Battle Tank for my Dark Angels (the Dark Eldar will fear it… oh yes, they will…).

The Fish Pile

I have been getting a fair bit of gaming in recently (Bolt Action and, this weekend, my Grey Knights – ably assisted by Gerantius – scored a noble victory against the Dark Eldar), but I have neglected to take any photos during the games. Must sort that out and get you some battle reports!

Anyway, over the past week I have made substantial progress on my Fish Pile – miniatures that are half done but just sit on the painting table while other models zip past them and get completed. The longer they sit there, the more they stink, hence Fish Pile (a term that comes from publishing, regarding unsolicited manuscripts).

For me, the big ones were Belial (Master of the Deathwing) and his Deathwing Knights. I already had a custom model of Belial (with Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield) but I never really liked it as he stood at least two heads taller than all other Terminators – I’ll see if I can get a photo of that model before I sell it on. When I got hold of the official model, I was excited to replace him, but the enthusiasm waned as I moved onto other projects.

Finally, this weekend, I polished off both him and my first squad of Deathwing Knights.

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As for the Knights themselves…

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Not desperately excited to do more of these, mostly because of the length of time it took me to do this lot – though I could probably use at least five more. I am also less than happy with the way their shields turned out, which is why they are difficult to see in the photo! However, the shields are kinda a focal point so I should take another look at them.

 

Changing of the Guard

Never used Deathwing Knights before and so I made a momentous decision this weekend – the armies I play at any given time are normally dictated by what I have in the office at any given moment (as the armies are stored in the cabinets here). However, there is limited shelf space, so I tend to keep some armies at home. For quite some time, my Dark Angels have been on ‘garrison’ duty in my home cabinets, but I am going to quietly retire my (somewhat large) Ork army for a while and bring my Dark Angels in – a process that may take a few days of box carrying as my Dark Angels force is much, much larger than any other force I have (about 4-5 companies worth!).

I was also somewhat inspired  by this thread on Dakkadakka, where people were having a discussion to try to form a consensus on which was the most powerful Codex (and which were at the bottom). Their rankings go something like this;

1. Craftworld Eldar (no surprises there)
2. Tau, Space Marines, Space Wolves, Necrons, Inquisition
3. Astra Militarum, Dark Eldar, Grey Knights, Blood Angels
4. Dark Angels, Orks, Tyranids, Sisters of Battle, Chaos Space Marines

Now, I do have some issues with ranking Codexes this way – at least when you are not in a top tier competitive environment (by which I mean US tournaments – UK tournaments always used to be a lot lighter in approach, though that may have changed in the 15-odd years since I was on ‘the circuit’). Player ability counts for a great deal in this game, no matter what people may say on forums, and I always despair a little when someone puts up a post about how they are getting beaten consistently by X, Y and Z, and ask for suggestions about what new army to try. Honestly, if you are having consistent issues with any army, it may just be that the fault is not with the Codex!

Note: Certain army builds create exceptions to this, sure, but in friendly games it really should not be much of an issue – the error of margin within each Codex is wide enough to be able to handle most opponents.

Now, this is all opinion to some degree, but I have tried to get the consensus of the thread in this list. And I am sure my regular Dark Eldar opponent, Alan, will be hooting with laughter about the Orks on the bottom tier when he reads this. Also, the Necrons are based on the older Codex not the one just released, though I hear tell that it remains quite sexy when it comes to combos and options.

For my part, I don’t believe the Inquisition ranks that highly as a stand alone force, though there is some sickness present. However, my main issue is with the Dark Angels at the bottom of the pile.

Sure, they lack some options from the main Space Marine Codex (items like the Centurions and Stalkers that they should, perhaps, have access to, given the volume of old tech deep within the tunnels of the Rock). And the main argument with the Ravenwing is that the White Scars are better – but that hardly makes them poor.

My view is that the Dark Angels are basically a Codex Space Marines chapter – with a few bits left to the side and a few other bits added. Nothing earth-shattering on either side of that equation (well, except maybe the Nephilliam, quite possibly the worst flyer in the entire game), but also nothing to bring them right down.

And, granted, I am not playing in top tier tournaments!

Anyway, the plan is to gradually build up my Eldar (and a Catachan force, though that is a longer term project) while playing the hell out of the Dark Angels. It will also give me a chance to take some photos of this force and show some aspects off, like the radio-controlled Land Raider (really!).

I’ll leave you with the first of the Dark Angels to arrive in the office – suitably enough, Belial and his Deathwing Knights on Alpha Strike!

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