General’s Handbook 2017 & Open War Cards

When the last General’s Handbook hit the shelves it marked a true shift in Age of Sigmar and how the game was played – will the dual release of the General’s Handbook 2017 and the Open War card deck have the same effect again?

It is time for us to see…

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I’ll say one thing before kicking off… this book is packed with cool things to do in the Age of Sigmar and if it is any indication of how GW will shake things up on a yearly basis for the game (and for 40k, with their similar Chapter Approved book), then the future is looking very bright for Warhammer players of any ilk.

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As expected, the book is divided into the three styles of play; Open, Narrative, and Matched Play. It starts off with Open Play, which most players are just going to skip over – but wait! As well as the general mash-up most players seem to think Open Play is (it really does not need to be that way!), the new GHB introduces some variants that are, in the very least, interesting.

For example, using the Open War cards (scroll down for the review on them), you can construct an Open War campaign with the winner of each battle able to influence the direction the campaign goes in. That might be worth a real look.

There is also ideas for Open War Tournaments – I am less enamoured with that as I am not sure Open Play and tournaments really mix. Still, it is there if you want a swing at it.

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Open Play also embraces Triumph & Treachery which, having played at the T&T event at GW HQ, I can thoroughly recommend. More than just a multiplayer game, T&T actively encourages you to make alliances, bribe opponents, and then treacherously turn against them throughout a battle. Get four or five people all doing that round the same table, and you have a real battle on your hands!

This is done through the use of Treachery Points that are accrued through the game and then spent to nobble your opponents through acts like bribing enemy wizards not to cast spells, placing a turncoat in an enemy unit, or placing a booby trap in front of a unit about to charge…

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GW then go one step further… Triumph & Treachery campaigns. This plays just like the map campaign of the first GHB but with more treachery. That kind of campaign is going to be chaotic in the extreme, but it has to be a lot of fun, and will suit less serious (more fun!) players nicely.

That concludes the Open War section and then we launch into Narrative Play – and I am all about the Narrative Play, as regular readers will know. There are a few pages on forging a narrative and building themed armies… which is okay, but the first real meat comes in the form of new Time of War sheets that now cover each of the Mortal Realms.

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This is useful (I could certainly have used it during the Realmgate Wars), though there is a lot that will be familiar when playing in Aqshy or Ghyran – if you have used Time of War sheets, you have seen many of the rules presented here before. That said, we have our first real look at rules for Shyish, Hysh and Ulgu, which I will certainly be pulling out in forthcoming games.

We then get six Battleplans intended for Narrative Play… and they are all pulled from the Realmgate Wars books. That was disappointing, and I am trying hard not to use the word ‘filler’.  However, we then get a definite plus in the form of siege battles.

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Now, don’t expect anything too complicated here – this is Age of Sigmar, and counting up ‘tunnelling points’ as you try to undermine an enemy wall would not have been the way to go. Instead, GW have adopted a system based upon the siege in the Realmgate Wars – however, rather than just lifting the simple matrix system, they have built upon it. You still focus on starving, battering or tunnelling (if you are the attacker), but the effects of each are now more varied, so even if you concentrate you starving your enemy out, you may till have some success on battering down their walls.

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Two Battleplans are provided so you can start your siege immediately.

By this time, we are less than half way through the book, and now it turns to Matched Play, the bulk of the General’s Handbook.

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There do not seem to be too many changes to the actual core of Matched Play, though there are two new Rules of One (you cannot re-roll or modify the dice roll to determine who starts each battle round – bad news for Seraphon – and no Artefact can be taken twice in an army).

You also have the rules for Allies in your force, which basically allow you to bypass Battlefield roles to take a small detachment within your army – so, if you have always wanted to add a couple of Gargants to your otherwise ‘pure’ Ironjawz, it is now a simple matter. A great move to inject some variety and get new models on the table without having to build a full force around them.

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There are also six new Battleplans intended for Matched Play. This I like, having a new set of Battleplans for tournaments every year (that is how they are going to get used, after all), meaning even competitive play will not be static. There are already well over 100 Battleplans for Age of Sigmar and in a few years time, that number will increase to a truly ungodly amount!

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The Pitched Battle profiles (the points for units) have all been updated – it looks like just the current range is included (I hear rumours that the old ‘compendium’ forces will still be ‘legal, just removed to a download – which is great, as that leaves more room for everything else in this book), but older ‘direct only’ models are still there, such as the Orruk Warboss on Wyvern.

One brilliant little touch on these pages are those stars next to certain (many!) units. This denotes something has changed since the last GHB and that, frankly, is a mark of genius on the part of the designers (really simple things can be genius because the rest of us miss them…). If you want to know if anything has changed for your favourite unit, there is no need to sit down with both books and cross-reference everything, it has all been done for you.

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There is also just one Warscroll update, for the Grundstok Thunderers. This is nice as it goes, but I cannot help thinking that the GHB is not the place for this – think a few years ahead, and these Warscrolls could really start crowding out other material, when they would be far better placed as downloads… like every other Warscroll.

Finally, we get into the new Allegiance stuff. Every Grand Alliance is represented, as before, though there have been some small tweaks (don’t worry, Destruction players, Battle Brew is still there). What is new is that the small alliances are now represented – not all of them (perhaps more will appear in GHB 2018?), but enough to get you going and you do, of course, still have the Grand Alliance to build upon.

For example, Clans Pestilens and Skryre now have their own Allegiance abilities, but Verminus does not.

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There is always going to be someone who gets missed out with this approach, but I don’t think there will be too many glum faces, especially as a force like the Free Peoples get attention…

One of my favourites, the Seraphon, have this treatment, and all you lizard guys will not be disappointed – you can now teleport any unit across the table and unbind spells regardless of range… This is on top of Commmand traits, which are specific to Slann, Saurus and Skink, and new Artefacts (the Coronal Shield, which blinds enemy units, has potential, but I think a lot of people will lock firmly on the Prism of Amyntok and take advantage of the D3 mortals it kicks out during movement phases…).

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Not enough for you lizard players? Well, have a couple of new Warscroll Battalions as well. Not every allegiance gets these, but there are enough scattered about to keep things interesting. The personalities in the Battalions will be familiar to anyone following the Realmgate Wars storylines and though they take the form of the ‘mega-battalions’ that have appeared in past Battletomes, the required models are not too onerous at all. The Fangs of Sotek is a nice addition to boost a Carnosaur, especially when added to the abilities of the other Starhosts within the Battalion, but the Dracothion’s Tail might be worth a look – if someone can ‘figure’ this Battalion out for tournaments, summoning might be a real thing.

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As I said earlier, if GW can keep reinvigorating their games by these yearly books, I think they are onto a winner. Even if they release a ‘bum’ year book, you will only have a few months for things to change again rather than waiting years for a whole new edition. What is even better is that, points aside, this GHB does not really replace the old one, so they can build into a full library of ‘cool things to do in Warhammer’ over the years (that does not apply to Matched Play so much but if you chose to be a competitive only player, well, that is your look out – you are missing out on a lot!).

When GW talk about ‘game changing, again’, they actually mean it. This book is more of an evolution than the last GHB, but it is building on solid foundations and is all the better for it. At £20 for 160 pages, the GHB 2017 gets a big thumbs up.

 

Open War

The Open War card deck comes in GW’s new style ‘cigarette packet, like those of the recent 40k card decks.

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The rules to use them come, predictably, on the first card, but the rules take up four sides – now, it would have been very easy (and, indeed, lazy) for GW to simply print them on two cards but, instead, they made a little ‘gatefold’ card instead. A tiny touch, but a nice one.

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When using the cards, you divide them up into five decks; Deployment, Objectives, Twist, Ruses and Sudden Death. Draw a card from the first three decks, and you have a Battleplan all set and ready to go!

You then count up Wounds in your armies. If one player has more, his opponent draws a Ruses card. If he has more than twice the Wounds, his opponent also draws a Sudden Death card.

There is a great deal of variety here – the Objectives cards create the victory conditions, and they can be as obvious as placing objective markers, to King Slayer, which gets players to count out the Wounds they dish out, doubling their score if they nobble the enemy general.

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Twists create adverse conditions players must either get around or find someway to use to their benefit. Dead of Night, for example, limits the range of all spells and attacks, while Battle Frenzy boosts all melee attacks.

Ruses are used to boost weaker armies, and basically represent inspired tactics like Outflanking an army or bringing in Reinforcements (recycling a dead unit). If an army is really outclassed, it can used Sudden Death cards to focus all their efforts on a single objective to immediately win the battle – Assassinate allows you to destroy the highest Wound Hero or Monster in order to win, while Endure simply means you need just one model on the table at the end of the fifth round.

Assuming you can avoid the real twits in your group (five Bloodthirster man) who just want to win at all costs, I think this is a great little system for pick up games. There is plenty of variety in this card deck, and there is no reason why any two games should repeat themselves, a hallmark of Age of Sigmar.

GW have avoided printing the text too small (unlike their recent Warscroll cards – grrrr!) and, at just a tenner, I don’t think you can go wrong…

The Thousand Sons Swell

I managed to complete one unit for the Thousand Sons this weekend, plus add another…

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The Tactical Squad is a bit of a cheat, as I had already done the first ten – I was going to add another Tactical Squad to the army (making for a total of three) but I had just given the Space Woofs a Caestus so thought it only fair that the Thousand Sons respond by being able to overwhelm enemy squads.

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I am getting quite quick at painting these guys and, with two Tactical Squads, the Thousand Sons are now ready to fight, albeit in small battles.

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Then there is the Contemptor – the Space Woofs already have one of their own and I could not resist getting hold of one of the Thousand Sons-pattern Contemptors. I was a bit nervous about whether my lacquering method would work on larger flat surfaces without ‘pooling’ but, as it turned out, things went well. The next challenge will be to try it on a ‘proper’ vehicles such as a Predator or Land Raider (though I have a feeling the Thousand Sons will be getting a Xiphon or two to counter the Space Wolfs’ Caestus…).

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Next up for the Heresy will be a couple more units for the Space Woofs, which I will hopefully polish off this week – then it is back to the Primaris and Death Guard for a bit…

Fate of Konor: Seek and Destroy

We are carrying on with the Fate of Konor campaign, and upping the ante a bit with larger forces. The Death Guard have spread throughout the worlds of the Imperium and have made a convincing grab for the main world of the system, the Capital World of Konor itself.  After bombarding the cities, the Death Guard have moved in but now the Marines Errant are going to try to throw them off the planet.

 

Armies

We are using 80 point forces for this battle, so some of the larger units are starting to appear.

Death Guard (Battalion)
Lord of Contagion (Tenacious)
Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Gift of Contagion)
Poxwalkers x 20
Plague Marines x 7 (Power Fist, Plasma Gun)
Chaos Cultists x 10 (Heavy Stubber)
Foetid Bloat-Drone
Helbrute (Multi-Melta)
Helbrute (Twin Lascannon, Thunder Hammer)

Daemons of Nurgle (Patrol)
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma of Pestilence)
Plaguebearers x 20 (Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos)
Soul Grinder (Mark of Nurgle)

Well, the forces of Nurgle have not been mucking about on Konor – they have clearly been using the manufactorums to build a Soul Grinder and get a couple of rickety old Helbrutes fully functional. They will be going into battle with a primarily defensive mindset, though they are expecting to contend with teleporting Terminators and Assault Marines dropping from the sky, and the Helbrutes and Soul Grinder will be tasked with going after the inevitable Devastator Squads.

Marines Errant
Chaplain with Jump Pack
Chaplain
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher, Flamer)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Venerable Dreadnought (Twin Lascannon, Power Fist)
Terminator Assault Squad (Lightning Claws)
Assault Squad (Sergeant with Lightning Claws)
Devastator Squad (Missile Launchers)

The Marines Errant are going infantry heavy, with just the Venerable Dreadnought for heavy armour. However, they also have an awful lot of missile launchers, and so carry a big punch!

 

Mission: Seek and Destroy

In Seek and Destroy, the Death Guard are the defenders and will see the Marines Errant advance upon their positions within a shattered city. Victory Points are earned for destroying enemy units (double points if the attacking unit has an unmodified save of 2+ or 3+) and the enemy Warlord. In addition, the Death Guard get a bonus point if they have any models in their deployment zone at the end of the battle.

The mission itself has two new Stratagems for the Marines Errant – Tighten the Noose allows them to move reserve units on from any table edge, while Unstoppable Assault grants a unit a +1 bonus to both charge rolls and saves. The Death Guard can Hunker Down, which gives a unit the benefit of cover even if they are out in the open.

The Fate of Konor campaign also introduces yet another Stratagem (Ablative Painting) that allows an infantry unit to ignore unsaved wounds on a 5+. Which, for Death Guard who already have Disgustingly Resilient, is funny…

 

Deployment

The Death Guard took up firing positions within the ruins they had captured, the Cultists holding far back in a dilapidated Sanctum while Plaguebearers stumbled forward in full view, unworried due to the clouds of flies shielding them from view. Everyone one deployed within the ruined Manufactorum with the exception of the Helbrutes and Soul Grinder who were further back, taking advantage of their long-ranged weaponry.

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The Marines Errant had scant cover but the Devastator Squad took full advantage of a nearby building while the three Tactical Squads, under the watchful eyes of a Chaplain, began their advance towards the Death Guard. Just behind them, in a ruined shrine, the Venerable Dreadnought began picking out targets. It seemed a small force to retake the Manufactorum, and the Lord of Contagion warned his Plague Marines to keep on the look out for Thunderhawks dropping Assault Squads directly into battle, as well as teleporting Terminators.

 

Round One

Seeing movement in the ruins of the Manufactorum, the Marines Errant came to a complete halt and, as one, raised their weapons. At the command of the Chaplain, a hail of fire blow chunks of masonry off the ruins as Bolters and Missile Launchers created a tempest of destruction.

When the smoke cleared, only a single Plague Marine had fallen to the ground, while the Venerable Dreadnought had scored a glancing hit on the Bloat-Drone with its Lascannon. The Marines Errant Chaplain felt a moment of dismay as he realised the poor effect of the co-ordinated fire – then the forces of Nurgle began flooding out of the ruins towards the marines.

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Shuffling their way forward, the hordes were spearheaded by the Plaguebearers, while a large unit of Poxwalkers began the slow march to flank the Marines Errant. A Miasma of filth began to swirl around the Plaguebearers and Soul Grinder as the Plaguecaster and Herald of Nurgle clothed them in the diseased power of the Warp, though the Plaguecaster found himself beating off the attentions of a Daemonette that followed his manipulation of the aether.

The return fire of the Death Guard was no more impressive than that of the Marines Errant, as Devastator Squad hunkered down under the bombardment of the Soul Grinder while the shrine proved more than adequate cover to disrupt the Lascannon of the Helbrute as it tried to target Venerable Dreadnought

 

Round Two

The Tactical Squads jogged forward, bringing the Plaguebearers into short range while, with a scream of engines, a Thunderhawk flew overhead. In its wake, an Assault Squad dropped to the battlefield, right in the path of the Poxwalkers. Bolt Pistols blazing, the Assault Marines dropped four of the plague zombies to the ground but were too far away to follow up with a determined charge.

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The Tactical Squads massed their firepower and poured bolter shells into the Plaguebearers but the combination of clouds of flies and the Miasma meant few rounds found their targets, and even with 30 Marines working together, only three Plaguebearers were sent back to the Warp.

The Miasma surrounding the Soul Grinder was having a similar effect on the Devastator Squad, and only a single missile impacted the daemonic machine, barely scratching it.

Sensing an opportunity, the forces of Nurgle raced for the Tactical Squads, the Bloat-Drone floating over the roof of the Manufactorum to support the Plaguebearers, even as the Poxwalkers stumbled towards the Assault Squad.

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Long ranged fire from the Plague Marines still taking cover within the Manufactorum accounted for a couple of Tactical Marines, while the Plaguecaster and Herald maintained the coverage of Miasma upon the Plaguebearers and Soul Grinder.

The Marines Errant intensified their fire as the Plaguebearers loomed nearer, but even as the first Plague Sword was swung, no more daemons were destroyed. Putting on a sudden burst of speed, one of the Helbrutes crashed into the side of a Tactical Squad, and the Chaplain knew his Marines were in trouble.

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Four Tactical Marines were crushed in an instant by the maddened Helbrute, and another was gutted by a Plaguebearer. The Tactical Marines fought hard, dispatching four daemons with combat knives and fists, but the Helbrute threatened to overwhelm them and their whole line began to break.

Further away, the Poxwalkers reached the Assault Squad and, though completely outclassed, they managed to drag two Marines to the ground. Infected by a hist of Nurgle’s diseases, those Marines began to climb back onto their feet, reaching out to swipe at their former brothers, but the Assault Squad ruthlessly cut them down, and more Poxwalkers besides.

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Surveying the battlefield, the Chaplain knew his Marines had killed not nearly enough of the Death Guard to guarantee victory, and he was all too aware that the Lord of Contagion lurked in the ruins…

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Round Three

The Chaplain barked an order and, in a well-practised drill, the Tactical Squads broke contact with the Plaguebearers, Bloat-Drone and Helbrute, and retreated a few paces before raising their weapons.

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Another four Plaguebearers fell to their Bolters, but hurriedly aimed missiles simply bounced off the Helbrute’s thick armour, and it was not until the Devastator Squad trained their warheads on it that it began to take noticeable damage. Though grateful for the support, the Tactical Marines cursed as reality shifted just a fraction, and three Plaguebearers popped back into existence.

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While the Assault Squad was halting the advance of the Poxwalkers, there was nothing holding the opposite flank, dominated as it was by the Soul Grinder and a second Helbrute. A teleporting Terminator Squad flashed into existence to remedy this, led by another Chaplain.

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The Chaplain was disorientated by the sudden teleport, but the Assault Terminators took it in their stride, sighted the nearest Helbrute, and charged.

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Their Lightning Claws proved superior to the Helbrute’s armour, and they ripped several armour plates from the mechanised beast, exposing critical systems to further attack. Taken by surprise, the Helbrute reeled under the assault, flailing with its massive hammer to catch one Terminator with a glancing blow.

Meanwhile, the Assault Squad had recovered from the initial attacks of the Poxwalkers and set about ruthlessly dispatching them with Chainswords and Bolt Pistols. Diseased flesh flew in all directions, until there was just a single Poxwalker left.

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The Plague Marines kept up their fire, their Plasma Gun boiling another Tactical Marine within his power armour. Enacting another practised drill, the Tactical Squads took a defensive stance as the Helbrute was joined by the Lord of Contagion. Constantly giving ground, they nevertheless managed to save all but two Tactical Marines from the terrible assault.

Further down the street, the Soul Grinder bellowed as it saw an easy target in the puny Terminators swiping chunks out of the second Helbrute.

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The Terminators reacted to the massive machine quickly, with only one being two slow to avoid the gargantuan Warp Sword, but they were driven into the waiting hammer of the Helbrute who crushed two more flat.

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Round Four

The Marines Errant had sustained serious casualties but all of their squads, so far, remained intact. If they could just deliver a series of telling blows, they might stand a chance of breaking the Death Guard attack. once more, the Tactical Squads fell back, trading ground for the chance to keep shooting.

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A missile from one of the Tactical Squads found a weak point in the Helbrute’s armour and the crazed machine detonated, a dark mushroom cloud rising into the sky to mark its last position. The Marines then turned their attention to the Lord of Contagion, and black smoke billowed around the Chaos champion as missiles, Bolters and grenades were all hurled at him. The Devastator Squad joined in the attack, Bolters supporting the four Missile Launchers that had switched to Krak warheads.

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When the firing ceased, the Marines Errant were dismayed to see the Lord of Contagion still striding purposefully towards them, completely unhurt. Crying out a prayer to the Emperor, the Chaplain raised his Corzius and led one of the Tactical Squads in a charge, intent on decapitating the leadership of the Death Guard.

Try as they might, the Tactical Marines could not breach the Cataphractii Terminator Armour of the Lord of Contagion, and even the Chaplian’s Crozius bounced harmlessly off it. Grinning behind his helmet, the Lord of Contagion hefted his mighty axe and split the Chaplain in two.

The second Chaplain, seeing the Soul Grinder and Helbrute were more than capable of defeating the Terminators and taking their flank, ignited his jump pack to reach the Lord of Contagion, but he was far too late to save his brother Marine.

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Having slain the first Chaplain, the Lord of Contagion started to hum a merry tune as he turned his attention to the Tactical Squad, quickly reaping two of them in the name of Grandfather Nurgle.

Having finished off the Terminators, the Helbrute and Soul Grinder resumed their advance down the main street in front of the Manufactorum, their weapons booming as they strode.

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Its six mechanical legs skittering, leaving deep scars in the rockcrete of the road, the Soul Grinder moved with unholy speed, easily catching up to the last Chaplain as he tried to escape to the Marines Errant main line. Once more, the Warpsword was swung, and there was a blinding flash of light as the energy field of the Chaplain’s Rosarius burned off the energy of the attack. However, it could do nothing for the inertia of the Soul Grinder, and the Chaplain was knocked flying.

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Closer to the Manufactorum, the Assault Squad had taken cover, hoping to surprise the Plague Marines inside – however, they had already been spotted.

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The Plague Marines piled out of the ruins, gunning two Assault Marines down as the Plaguecaster used the power of Smite to destroy another. Following up this attack with a charge, the leader of the Plague Marines crushed another with his Power Fist, for the loss of only one of his men.

The Marines Errant had fought well and dealt a great deal of damage to the Death Guard, but the army of Nurgle still had its most powerful units fully functional, and the Marines were beginning to run out of chances.

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Round Five

Across the Marines Errant line, squads were running. The Assault Squad gunned their jump packs and leapt towards the Tactical Squads, seeking support, while the Chaplain led the controlled rout from the Soul Grinder and Lord of Contagion.

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The Tactical Squads once again massed their fire against the Lord of Contagion and, once again, he grinned happily as Bolter shells ricocheted harmlessly off his armour and flames washed over him. Then a krak missile found its mark, detonating between plates in the Lord’s armour and badly wounded him. He was not grinning any longer and, hefting his axe, he prepared to make the Tactical Squads pay for their temerity.

Seeing the Soul Grinder getting far too close for comfort, the Devastator Squad trained their missiles at it, but cursed as it brushed past every exploding warhead.

Seeing their talents needed nearer the crumbling line of the Marines Errant, the Plaguecaster and Herald of Nurgle both left the cover of the Manufactorum to support the attack. Combining their power, they hurled bolts of enervating energy at the surviving members of the Assault Squad, killing them instantly.

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The Soul Grinder rumbled forward towards the ruined building the Devastator Squad had taken shelter in and, reaching up with its massive claw, plucked two Marines out of cover before crushing them. Behind it, the Helbrute rushed into a Tactical Squad, killing another two Marines, while the Lord of Contagion saw the Chaplain directing the Marines Errant – and charged.

The Chaplain fought bravely, and once again his Rosarius flashed as it diverted the axe, but Lord of Contagion quickly reversed his swing and dealt the Chaplain a terrible wound. Fighting the pain as his blood drenched the street, the Chaplain swung his Crosius with all the strength he could muster and the Marines Errant cheered as the Lord of Contagion crashed to the ground.

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Round Six

Once again, the Marines Errant were forced to pull back, the Devastator Squad retreating further into their ruins in an effort to escape the attention of the Soul Grinder. One Tactical Squad let loose a missile that destroyed the last Helbrute, but the fire of the others simply bounced off the Soul Grinder.

Combining their power once again, the Herald and Plaguecaster drained the life out of four Tactical Marines, before the Plague Marines shot another two. Turning its attention away from the skulking Devastators, the Soul Grinder vented its rage upon the Chaplain and two surviving Marines from one of the Tactical Squads, but the Marines were quick and ducked under its blows. Only when it strode forward to pin one of them to the road with a leg did a Marine fall.

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Round Seven

Though they had shattered the Death Guard force, the Marines Errant were far from safe and, once again, they were forced to pull back. The walls of the ruined Shrine were shattered as the Venerable Dreadnought strode out into the street trailing dust and crumbling masonry as marched towards the Plague Marines.

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The remaining Tactical Marines concentrated their fire on the Plague Marines, but their armour and natural resilience kept them safe from Bolters, grenades, missiles, and even the heavy weapons of the Dreadnought.

The Chaplain had taken cover in the same ruins as the Devastator Squad, directing them to destroy the Soul Grinder. A series of krak missiles buried themselves into the machine’s torso before detonating, blasting the Soul Grinder apart. Secondary explosions from its daemonic power source ignited, and a might detonation tore across the street and blasted the ruins. The Tactical Sergeant facing the Soul Grinder stood no chance, and the Chaplain was buried under tons of rubble as the Devastator Squad scrambled for firm footing.

The Plaguecaster and Herald turned their attentions to the last Tactical Squads, but their energy was waning and only a couple of Tactical Marines were robbed of life.

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The leader of the Plague Marines continued to battle against Tactical Marines and the Venerable Dreadnought, but the fight was done and he had no support. The few survivors of the Death Guard retreated from the battlefield, but the Marines Errant had barely enough Marines left to hold the ground they had taken. Forced to wait for reinforcements before moving into the Manufactorum, they could only watch as the Death Guard escaped.

 

Conclusion

The Death Guard just run out of puff at the end! The final score of 19-11 makes for a convincing victory for the Marines Errant, but it could so easily have gone the other way Going into the last couple of rounds, there was just a four point gap between them and if the Smite barrage had done more damage, and if the Soul Grinder had managed to flatten a couple of units before returning to the Devastators… if, if if….

Though I should point out that, with the Cultists who had stayed within the Sanctum for the entire battle, the Death Guard did actually outnumber the Marines Errant at the end!

The Death Guard might have done better if they had holed up in their deployment zone and brought the Marines Errant forward, but they had to do something about those Missile Launchers (they were bound to hit something at some point…), and the Plaguebearers were always going to form a nice ‘bridge’ to tie up the Tactical Squads, allowing the Lord of Contagion and Helbrutes to follow up with few distractions.

Still, the Death Guard should have some decent supporting units before the fight for the Konor system is over, so stay tuned…

Caestus Assault Ram

Like most miniatures gamers, I have a fair metal (and plastic, and resin) mountain tucked away, but this weekend I managed to put a little dent in it by finishing a model that I have had lying around for well over a year – the Caestus Assault Ram.

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What is not to like about a flyer that can whiz onto the table, smash itself into fortifications, and then disgorge two units of Terminators into the ruins, eh?

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This model was originally intended for either the Mantis Warriors or (forthcoming) Tyrant’s Legion, but I am on a bit of a Heresy kick at the moment, and the Space Wolves are just desperate to have something that will aid their attack on the Thousand Son’s City of Tizca.

Overall, the model was dead simple to put together, though it should be noted that it is very tail heavy, and so it has to be mounted fairly well forward on its base. Painting-wise, it is a doddle, being no more difficult than a Land Raider, say, though there is a fair bit of surface area. The finishing touches came from the Forge World transfer sheet.

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This is the first vehicle I have painted up for the Heresy forces that is larger than a Dreadnought, though I have a feeling it will not be the last.

Now, how do we think the Thousand Sons will answer this challenge?

Thousand Sons Mk III Marines

Just a quickie, but I managed to get another Horus Heresy unit done this weekend – a Thousand Sons Tactical Squad, composed of Mk III Space Marines…

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I was fairly dreading getting on to these, as they have a lot more gold lining than their Mk IV counterparts but, when it came to it, they not only were easy to get through, I think I prefer them!

I was going to do two units of these guys for the Thousand Sons but, to shake things up, I think I will simply add another ten Marines to this squad to give the Thousand Sons some real backbone and durability.

That will be the next Heresy-era project, but a Space Woofs Mk III squad will soon follow, along with a Caestus Assault Ram (been putting that together, it is a big beast!), and last week I received a Forge World Recon Squad (intended for the Space Woofs again), with two Assault Squads destined to become Grey Slayers.

Like the Primaris Flesh Tearers, I have only been adding the odd unit here and there, but both the Heresy-era armies are beginning to build up nicely!

Fate of Konor: Invasion!

We are a bit behind the curve on our Fate of Konor games, but we figured we would weigh in as the Death Guard invade Ultramar. Astaramis is being defended by the Marines Errant as Plague Marines, Poxwalkers, and Cultists all crash down upon their lines, ably assisted by a few Daemons of Nurgle.

 

Armies

We  just used small 60-point forces (Power Ratings, heresy!) for a short afternoon’s worth of play, and I decided to forgo the most powerful units to take a small horde-ish ‘comedy’ force.

Army of Nurgle (Battalion)
Lord of Contagion (Tenacious)
Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Gift of Contagion)
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma of Pestilence)
Plague Marines x 7 (Power Fist, Plasma Gun)
Poxwalkers x 20
Chaos Cultists x 20
Plaguebearers x 20 (Daemonic Icon, Instrument of Chaos)
Nurglings
Foetid Bloat-Drone

We are going with a fair horde here, with 70 models racing across the battlefield to invade Astaramis. The Plaguecaster and Herald will be using Miasma of Pestilence during the advance to keep the Plaguebearers who will be at a -2 to be hit!) and something else relatively safe, which the Bloat-Drone will be buzzing about because I know how much the Marines Errant player likes to see it in an army (!).

Marines Errant
Chaplain
Tactical Squad
Tactical Squad
Terminator Assault Squad (Lightning Claws)
Assault Squad (Sergeant with Lightning Claws)
Devastator Squad (Missile Launchers)

With the ability to use cover all round, this looks like the perfect defensive force for the Marines Errant.

 

Mission: Invasion!

We are using the Invasion! mission from the Fate of Konor campaign which sees the Death Guard pounding towards the Marines Errant who have deployed in defensive positions. Victory is based on victory points – the Marines Errant get a point for every unit they destroy, while the Death Guard gain one for every unit in the defender’s deployment zone at the end of the battle. Both sides get a point for the enemy Warlord.

The mission itself has two new Stratagems – the Death Guard can charge with a unit that advanced (that will certainly get used!), while the Marines Errant can use Suppressing Fire for more accurate Overwatch that also slows attackers down.

The Fate of Konor campaign also introduces yet another Stratagem (Inspired Tactics) that increases a Warlord’s aura abilities by 3″.

 

Deployment

The bulk of the Death Guard advanced towards the ruins occupied by the Marines Errant through forests already starting to wilt from the pestilence of the invaders. Ever wary of Astartes trickery, the leaders of the Death Guard stayed close to their minions, a careful eye on the sky to watch for sudden attacks by Assault Marines.

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For their part, the Marines Errant hunkered down in any ruin or behind any barricade they could find, the Devastator and two Tactical Squads looking pitifully small compared to the advancing horde.

 

Round One

The Marines Errant were expecting the Death Guard attack and reacted immediately as soon as they detected movement in front of them. The Tactical Squads repositioned themselves slightly to tighten their defence and unleashed a hail of bolter fire into the stumbling Poxwalkers, knocking down six of them as the Devastator Squad, positioned high within a ruined building, ravaged the swamp in front of them, annihilating the Nurglings there with frag missiles.

This did not deter the Death Guard in the slightest. The Herald of Nurgle manifested a Miasma of Corruption around the Plaguebearers, creating a thick swirl of flies and filth around the daemons that made them almost impossible to see. The Plaguecaster followed suit to shield the Bloat-Drone, then unleashed a powerful bolt of energy that blasted through the power armour of three Tactical Marines huddled behind the closest barricade.

Encouraged by the jocular demands of the Lord of Corruption, every unit except the Plague Marines ran forward, eager to get to grips with the Marines Errant.

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The Plague Marines provided covering fire from the safety of a wood, keeping the heads of the Tactical Squad down long enough for the Poxwalkers to surge forward under the command of their Lord. A single Poxwalker fell to the hurried overwatch fire of the Marines Errant but as the Poxwalkers railed against the barricade, one marine was dragged into the horde and pulled apart, only to rise again as another plague zombie.

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The Chaplain started to chant a battle hymn that galvanised the Tactical Squad and they lashed out with knife, boot and fist, smashing another four Poxwalkers into the ground.

Despite their losses, the Tactical Squad continue to hold the line against the Poxwalker assault.

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Round Two

Not wanting to get bogged down by the Poxwalkers, the Tactical Squad retreated under the direction of the Chaplain. Practicing well-rehearsed bolter drills, the Tactical Squad continued to fire into the Poxwalkers with their bolters, supported by the second Tactical Squad in the building above them. The sheer weight of fire began to have an effect, and another eight Poxwalkers dropped to the ground.

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Descending from the sky on pillars of fire, the Assault Squad entered the battle, dropping right behind the Plaguebearers and Plague Marines, threatening the Lord of Contagion.

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Meanwhile, across the battlefield, the Assault Terminators teleported into the fight, deploying on their left flank to halt the Death Guard advance that had, up to now, been completely unopposed.

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The Terminators sighted the Bloat-Drone, but it was moving too quick for them to intercept, and many of the krak missiles launched at it by the Devastator Squad went wild, their guidance systems fouled by the Miasma that surrounded the daemonic machine. However, one missile flew true, and the Bloat-Drone shuddered as its armour was cracked open.

The Assault Squad quickly got their bearings and unleashed a flurry of fire into the Plaguebearers but, once again, the Miasma and cloud of flies kept Nurgle’s children safe. Seeing that they could not reach the Lord of Contagion, the Assault Marines gunned their jump packs and launched themselves into the Plague Marines lurking within the woods.

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With war cries amplified by their helmet’s voxcasters, the Marines Errant smashed into the Plague Marines, only to find their chainswords and lightning claws skidding off thick power armour and getting lodged uselessly in the diseased and bloated bodies of their enemies. Unimpressed, the Plague Marines cut two Assault Marines down with their Plague Knives, while their leader crushed another with his Power Fist.

The Cultists of Nurgle and Bloat-Drone had no wish to tarry with the Terminators, and so they continued their advance towards the centre of the Marines Errant line, anchored by the two Tactical Squads.

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They were soon joined by the Plaguebearers and, urged on by the Herald, began to climb over the barricades the Marines Errant had been hoping would hold them back. Flies filled the air with their bloated, buzzing bodies, all but completely obscuring the Plaguebearers as the Herald maintained his Miasma upon them.

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The Lord of Contagion found himself torn. On the one hand, he knew he had to advance and his Cataphractii Terminator Armour was not built for running. On the other, their were some Assault Marines very close to him who were just desperate to have their heads sneaked off with his axe. Humming cheerfully to himself, the Lord turned round and closed in on the Assault Squad.

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Though the Assault Squad could see the Lord of Contagion coming, there was little they could do but attempt a solid defence. It was to no avail; the Lord’s axe cleaved through three marines in short order, while the Plague Marines claimed another, effectively shattering the Assault Squad.

The Tactical Squads and Chaplain found themselves coming under serious pressure as well, two of them succumbing to the fountains of filth spewed by the Bloat-Drone.

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This was but a precursor to the assault, as the Plaguebearers clambered over the barricades and stumbled into the Tactical Squad, energised by the close proximity of their Herald.

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Three marines were cut down by their Plague Swords, though the Sergeant managed to dispatch one daemon in return – however, it was too late, as the Sergeant was now the only surviving member of his squad. Seeing the Sergeant waver, the Chaplain dove into the melee, bashing the heads of two Plaguebearers with his Crozius, and intimidating another into fleeing.

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Round Three

Forced to withdraw once again, the Tactical Sergeant ran for the second line of barricades alongside his Chaplain, hoping they could halt the Plaguebearers before they advanced even closer.

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The Chaplain hurled a frag grenade into the mob of Plaguebearers, but blasted apart only a single daemon, while the Tactical Squad on the roof  of a small Administratum building close by unloaded everything they could into the Plaguebearers before they started assaulting their position – unfortunately, even at point blank range, not a single bolter shell found its mark through the Miasma the Herald had conjured.

The Devastator Squad added their weight to stopping the Plaguebearers, but when the smoke from their frag missiles had cleared, only two more daemons had been slain. Things were beginning to look desperate for the Marines Errant.

Hoping to relieve the pressure on the remaining Tactical Marines, the Assault Terminators finally caught up to the Bloat-Drone and charged, but the daemonic machine whirled round and blasted them with both Plaguespitters, the insidious liquid finding its way even through Terminator Armour to melt the flesh of two marines.

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Despite reaching their prey, their Lightning Claws proved inadequate to breach the Bloat-Drones armour, and they were left flailing helplessly as it started to float out of their reach.

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Now it was the turn of the Cultists to clamber over the barricade, unloading a hail of mostly inaccurate fire at the approaching Terminators as they went. The Terminators shrugged off most of the small calibre shells, but one round did make it through their thick armour, and one marine started to limp as he continued to intercept the Nurgle horde.

Seeing this, the Plaguecaster summoned a bolt of energy that finished off the wounded Terminator but he tried to harness the power of the Warp a little too eagerly, and seriously injured himself as a Daemon of Tzeentch momentarily appeared to swipe at him.

As the last of the Assault marines succumbed to Nurgle’s Rot, the Plague Marines tried to support the advance of the Cultists by training their weapons on the Terminators. However, their bolter rounds simply ricocheted off the inches thick armour, and the overcharged Plasma Gun in the squad boiled its wielder.

As the Bloat-Drone smothered one Tactical Marine in the Administratum building with its Plaguespitters, the Plaguebearers shambled forward to attack the Tactical Sergeant and Chaplain.

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Though the two marines managed to hold the Plaguebearers back and dispatched another two, the Chaplain was wounded in the fight.

 

Round Four

Seeing the Plaguebearers beginning to surround them, with Cultists close behind, the Chaplain and Sergeant leapt over the barricade to confront the Herald of Nurgle, even as the last two Terminators moved to face the Cultists.

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Knowing the back of the Nurgle force had to be broken or they would fall, the Marines Errant maintained their constant fire. As the Cultists turned to face the Terminators, the Tactical Squad raked their ranks with bolter fire, killing three.

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The Chaplain hurled another frag grenade, killing the last of the Poxwalkers, while the Devastator Squad split its fire. Four krak missiles unerringly homed in on the Bloat-Drone, blasting it from the sky, while the other marines trained their bolters and frag grenades on the Plaguebearers who were now too close for comfort. The daemons moaned mournfully as they were pummelled by accurate fire, the last of them dissolving into nothing as the energy binding it to the material world faded.

The Assault Terminators feinted at the Cultists, then turned to rush the Plague Marines. Once again, the Plague Marines put up a solid defence, ignoring the flashing Lightning Claws as their leader crushed a Terminator with his Power Fist, leaving only the Sergeant still fighting.

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The Marines Errant now only had two intact squads, the Tactical Squad in the Administratum building and the Devastators in the taller ruins, and while they had managed to counter the Plaguebearers and Poxwalkers, there were still too many Death Guard forces roaming the battlefield to be safe.

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As the Plaguecaster through a Miasma around the Lord of Contagion the Cultists trotted to the Administratum building, intent on dislodging the Tactical Marines taking cover there.

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Their autoguns and autopistols bounced uselessly off the building and the marines’ power armour but, undaunted, they continued their advance , ignoring the two of their number who fell to overwatch fire from the Marines Errant. With a cry to Grandfather Nurgle, they clambered up the ruined building to face the marines.

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Surprised at the speed of the Cultists, two marines were quickly dragged down, but then the their training took over. Two Cultists were pummelled to death, causing another three to run in terror. However, the Tactical Squad had been seriously reduced in number and its position had been made untenable by the marauding Cultists.

With a grumbling moan, the Herald of Nurgle challenged the Chaplain to single combat, but neither was able to land a telling blow.

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Further away, amidst the woods, the last Marines Errant Terminator was smashed apart by the Power Fist-wielding Plague Marine.

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Round Five

Surrounded by Cultists, the three surviving Tactical Marines leapt off the roof of the Administratum building, their Sergeant throwing a frag grenade behind him to blast three of their attackers.

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Meanwhile, the Devastators continued their withering fire, this time using krak missiles against the Plague Marines. Though having weathered everything the Marines Errant had thrown at them up to now, even Plague Marines could not withstand sustained anti-tank fire, and three of their number exploded as they raced for cover.

In the centre of the battlefield, the Chaplain was aided by his Sergeant and, together, they managed to force the Herald of Nurgle on the back foot, wounding the daemon. However, the Herald recovered quickly and dealt the Chaplain a savage blow with its Plague Sword, sending the marine reeling.

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Seeing what the Devastators did to their beloved Plague Marines, the Cultists withdrew from the Administratum building, taking cover in its shadow. They were immediately confronted by the Tactical Marines they had been battling on its rooftop, but their pitiful autogun fire simply rattled off power armour.

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The Herald of Nurgle, already wounded, was hard-pressed fighting both a marine Sergeant and a Chaplain, steadily giving ground as they traded blows. The marines did not notice the heavy footsteps of the Lord of Contagion until it was too late.

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Rushing forward as fast as his Cataphractii Terminator armour would allow, the Lord of Contagion hefted his axe and bisected the Chaplain with a single, solid blow.

Round Six

Where once the sounds of bolter fire and missiles had raged over the battlefield, an eerie quiet now descended, broken only by the occasional snap shot – both armies had suffered greatly and the survivors began taking a great deal more care.

The Devastator Squad still commanded a view over the entire battlefield, their missile launchers promising death to any who stayed in their sights for too long.

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Seeing his Chaplain’s body fall to the ground, the Sergeant retreated from the Lord of Contagion, hurling a frag grenade as he went that blasted the Herald of Nurgle apart in a  shower of filth. On the other side of the Administratum building, the three survivors of the Tactical Squad charged the Plaguecaster, catching the psyker offguard. Weakened by the Perils of the Warp earlier, the Plaguecaster soon fell to their blows.

The Death Guard now had few units standing, but the Lord of Contagion was still intent on making the Marines Errant pay for stalling his advance. As the Plague Marines took shelter in a ruined tower, the Lord advanced upon the Administratum building, keen to wipe out any Marines Errant who lurked nearby.

Round Seven

Under the watchful eyes of the Devastator Squad close by, all the action of the battle was now to take place around the Administratum building where the remnants of the Marines Errant faced the Lord of Contagion.

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The Tactical Squad quickly gunned down the Cultists lurking behind them, finally putting an end to the chatter of autopistols and shotguns, while the Tactical Sergeant rushed the Lord of Contagion, swearing an oath to avenge his Chaplain. With one contemptuous swing of his axe, the Lord broke that promise.

Seeing that the Devastator Squad was too far away, the Lord of Contagion lumbered around the front of the Administratum building, catching the Tactical Squad unawares. With deft swipes of his axe, all three Tactical Marines hit the ground, dismembered and disemboweled.

Both armies had been shattered, but the Marines Errant had managed to hold the line against the Death Guard. Elsewhere on the world of Astaramis, Imperial forces had triumphed, stalling the Nurgle assault – now the fight would move to Konor itself…

 

Conclusion

That was a close battle – both forces had just one intact unit each at the end (the Devastators and Lord of Contagion), with the Plague Marines hiding out of sight in a tall tower!

And speaking of the Plague Marines, they have to be the Men of the Match – first they were jumped by an Assault Squad, who just bounced off them and were dispatched with only a little help from the Lord of Contagion. Then they faced off a Terminator Assault Squad, again with no losses. In fact, up to that point, the only casualty they had sustained had come from an exploding Plasma Gun. It took anti-tank missiles to start knocking them down!

The final score was 7-3 to the Marines Errant, which may seem a bit lop-sided – there has been some criticism on various forums of this mission (and the second in the Konor campaign) that the forces of the Imperium are somewhat… favoured. I am not sure that is intentional or not on the part of GW (conspiracy!) but going into this battle I had figured it would be easier to destroy more units than it would be to keep them alive, and the single point for the Warlord is never going to be enough to tip that balance.

However, this was a decent showcase for the Death Guard, and we had a lot of fun with the armies. The Plague Marines were simply awesome and, once he gets in among the pigeons (as it were), the Lord of Contagion is all but unstoppable.

The Miasma psychic power is also a very good tool in the Death Guard’s arsenal, but not always in the way you might think. People hate having negative modifiers on their to hit rolls, and will often avoid a unit with a negative modifier altogether (unless there is really nothing to shoot at). So, if you put Miasma on a unit, do not get despondent if the enemy does not shoot at it – it is not wasted (not getting shot at all is way better than the negative modifier!), and you can begin using that to influence the opposing player into shooting the things you want him to shoot at.

And stacking Miasma on a large Plaguebearer unit that already has a negative modifier to be hit is just plain rude. Not that they do much once they get to grips with the enemy…

I am looking forward to expanding the Death Guard with the new releases. More Plague Marines, certainly, plus some heavy support in the form of tanks and Terminators will be greatly appreciated.

 

Primaris Repulsor and Characters

The Primaris Flesh Tearers are being built up slowly but surely – by taking the contents of the Dark Imperium box set and adding just one of every new release, you end up with quite a sizeable (if not optimised) army.

This weekend, I added a full array of leadership along with the heaviest unit released thus far – the Repulsor tank.

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The Repulsor ended up being like pretty much any other vehicle – once you have the base colours done, it is super quick to finish off. The lack of transfers for Flesh Tearers continues to be a bear, but we soldier on regardless…

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The Repulsor has been called a bit of a porcupine, and it certainly has a lot of guns! I imagine most people will initially go for a Lascannon/Las-Talon set up, but I went a theme of ‘as many dice as possible!’ The two Onslaught Cannon, along with all those Frag Launchers means the tank is fairly short-ranged but can absolutely pour firepower out every turn.

Incidentally, it is worth noting that absolutely everything needed to build the turret is one a single sprue – so expect variations in the future. People have also been asking whether the side doors are compatible with Land Raider weapons – I think they are a bit small, but maybe Predator sponsons…

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If you have the Primaris Captain from the Dark Imperium set, you probably don’t need another, especially as this one lacks Gravis Armour. But he is simply enough to paint up, and it gave me a chance to have a light-coloured cloak (which I should have done on the first Captain).

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In terms of posing, the Apothecary is probably my favourite of the new characters, standing on a fellow Flesh Tearer because he has just taken the Gene-Seed (a dead Marine is pretty much worthless after that).

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For detailing, the Librarian is probably the most complicated of the characters, but go through all the bits and pieces one by one, and you’ll get there.

Incidentally, for the Flesh Tearers I usually go with helmetless characters whenever I can (the exact opposite of how I approach Dark Angels), as these guys have a tendency to rip off their helmets during battle so they can sink their teeth into the enemy!

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Finally, the Chaplain, a good, solid model. I was wondering how to go about his cloak, but the very dark brown (Rhino, Nuln, Gorthor) GW used on their display model seemed to just click with me, so I copied it for the Flesh Tearers.

Next up for the Primaris Marines will be a squad of Intercessors and Hellblasters, and I do believe Inceptors will be turning up this week. That may be it for Primaris releases for a while, as we move into the new General’s Handbook for Age of Sigmar and then, we hope, the new Death Guard. Which I might just have to take a look at…