Review – Codex: Space Marines & Datacards

I’ve got the new Codex: Space Marines and you haven’t!

Ahem.

So, the 8th edition Codex: Space Marines has plopped onto my desk and, as we have done so many times before, we must ask ourselves the deep, moral question – is it any good?

IMG_9172

First things first – this book is jam-packed full of stuff. Jam-packed. Rules, datasheets, background… you name it, they probably squeezed it in.

Second, the artwork is continuing in GW’s current rise in quality and is fairly fantastic.

IMG_9173

So, this Codex: Space Marines covers all the ‘general’ chapters (Ultramarines and their successors), along with some of the more esoteric ones, including the White Scars, Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists, Black Templars, Salamanders, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands – and their successors. If you are a die-hard Dark Angels Blood Angels, or Space Woofs player, I am afraid you are going to have to wait your turn, but there is still plenty of new things to get your teeth into (which we will get to soon enough!

IMG_9174

This book assumes only base-level knowledge, so you have an introduction to the Space Marines themselves, how they are built (with differences for the new Primaris guys),  chapter organisation, and the Indomitus Crusade.

IMG_9175

Take a closer look at the Ultramarines 2nd company above – at first glance, it is the same organisation as we have seen before, but on closer inspection, you can see the Primaris Marines are riddling the company, and there are now 12 squads.

IMG_9176

The Ultramarines get a fair few pages to themselves (of course), but the other chapters get a whack at the Grot too, with squad markings, banners, major battles, and successors.

IMG_9177

There is even a section for ‘other’. It is good to see the Mentor Legion back and representing (yes, I am old enough to remember when they first appeared in White Dwarf), though there is no mention of their special gear (I have a feeling GW does not really know what to do with them yet – there were discussions about revisiting them during the Paul Sawyer-era of White Dwarf, but nothing came of it then either).

IMG_9178

As is usual for Codexes (and Battletomes, for that matter), each unit gets its own write up to place it within the context of the army, starting with heroes, and going through to squads and vehicles. You will notice that squads are now grouped together, such as with the Close Support squads above – Inceptors, Reivers, Assault, Centurion Assault, Bikers, Attack Bikes, Land Speeders, and Land Speeder Storms… all Close Support now. Other squads are divided into Battleline, Fire Support, and Veteran.

IMG_9179

All the special characters are also covered, from Mr Guillman himself to Chaplain Grimaldus, who proceeds the Black Templars specific Emperor’s Champion and Crusader Squads.

IMG_9180There are plenty of photographs of Space Marines in the ‘hobby’ section, as you would expect and while I have not yet gone over all of them with a magnifying glass to spot new models, there are some that leap to the eye, such as the Primaris Chaplain and Apothecary.

IMG_9181

You will also notice some new equipment fits as you flick… OMG, Inceptors with Plasma Exterminators, Inceptors with frigging plasma weapons!!!

Ahem. Do excuse me. But I think I have spotted a new favourite unit for some people…

IMG_9182

All those goodies aside, it is the rules you want to know about, eh? Just what does the army list have that is new and exciting?

Well, for a start, little has changed in the ‘core’ army rules. And They Shall Know No Fear is the same as the Index, and Black Templars don’t get psykers. Of course.

Once again, I have not gone through the Datasheets yet with a fine toothcomb but, oh my, some things have already leapt out at me.

Aggressors and Reivers get lots of new options. Of course they do, the three-pack of Reivers was only ever going to be representative of the unit. The Flamestorm option on the Aggressors could be a lot of fun, though I suspect the Auto Boltsorm Gauntlets and Fragstorm Grenade Launcher (sorry, they are not Krak Missiles!) combo will be the preferred option. Unless you play Salamanders.

IMG_9183

The Redemptor Dreadnought is looking sweet, with the Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon (Heavy 12) or the Macro Plasma Incinerator (Heavy D6 and can be supercharged) leading the way for me at the moment.

IMG_9184

Inceptors, as we saw earlier, can be equipped with dual (two of ’em!) Plasma Exterminators, each Assault D3 with normal plasma damage which can, naturally, be supercharged.

IMG_9185

And the Hellblasters are not forgotten either, and they very much retain the plasma theme – you have seen the Plasma Incinerator already, but has Sir considered the merits of the Assault Plasma Incinerator? Not enough oomph for Sir? Then might I suggest the Heavy Plasma Incinerator? For the entire squad?

Suits you.

IMG_9186

And there is what may soon become everyone’s favourite new tank, the Repulsor, which is… just bedecked with weapons. It is a fairly short-ranged attack and, once you move beyond the twin-Lascannon, the longest ranged weapon is only 36″ and that is a heavy stubber designed to take down flyers. You’ll be closer and more personal with this tank which, considering it deducts from enemy charge rolls against it, may not be a huge issue (it has the same Wounds as a Land Raider anyway).

IMG_9187

Beyond the Datasheets, we have the reference section, which includes all weapon stats, and Stratagems unique to Space Marines and a few for specific chapters. White Scars, for example, can spend 1 CP for Born in the Saddle, which lets a Biker unit shoot and charge in the turn. Minor things, but very characterful, and way better than formation rules hat kick in all the time.

IMG_9188

Relics are back, again with some chapter-specific choices, to be given to any Space Marine Warlord.

IMG_9189

A nice surprise was an expanded Librarius Discipline, now bumped up to six powers. You get the three from the Index, plus Psychic Scourge (roll off against an enemy unit to deal mortal wounds), Fury of the Ancients (mortals wounds to every enemy unit in a straight line), and Psychic Fortress (auto pass Morale tests, and save against mortal wounds from psychic sources).

 

Conclusion

At the start of this review, I asked whether the book was any good. In a sense, that is irrelevant, because if you play 40k and have Space Marines, you are going to buy this book anyway (I presume you are only here to get a peek at it before it appears on shop shelves proper). This is one of the easiest sells GW has on their hands.

However, ignoring any rules issues that will need some games on the table to unearth, my opinion is a good one. The art and layout is top notch, the background comprehensive, and there were enough surprise ‘goodies’ to get the attention of even a hoary old veteran like myself.

If I absolutely had to level a criticism or two… well, all the points values are separated from the unit entries as they are in the Index. However, a) this is not an issue for me as I am one of those freaks using Power Levels (!) and b) I would be amazed if GW did not change this format in Codexes down the road – they have been very responsive to this kind of thing with the Age of Sigmar Battletomes, which now look very different from their first appearance, though I think the four already-announced Codexes will all follow the current pattern.

Second, there is no real hobby section, which is a shame. They have gradually been adding hobbiest bits and pieces to the Battletomes, and the latest (Kharadron Overlords) had full painting guides and even a little conversion section. It would have been nice to see that here but, on the other hand, they did have a lot of ground to cover with this book.

 

Datacards

So, I picked up the new Datacards as well.

IMG_9190

First impressions – this is a very ‘deep’ box, meaning it has a lot of cards inside. Second, while the box itself is not as durable as the (frankly bullet-proof) sets we had in the last edition, the ‘cigarette packet’ format somehow feels a bit more upmarket. Your mileage may vary on that one.

IMG_9191

Inside, there are three types of cards – the Tactical Objectives (which I never use – never really got round to that style of play), Stratagems (useful, because they are just the thing that can be forgotten during a game), and all six of the new psychic powers, plus Smite.

IMG_9192

Overall assessment – there is nothing wrong with these cards which, for a game accessory like this, is going to be all you can ask for. They are not going to shake your games to their foundations, just make playing a little bit easier.

Job accomplished on that one.

Now… where is my Codex: Death Guard, eh?

 

Review – Path to Glory

Path to Glory has just plopped onto my desk, a revision of the quickfire-and-easy-to-organise campaign system for Age of Sigmar.

So, is it any good?

IMG_9151

If you have read through or played the Path to Glory campaign in the General’s Handbook, you pretty know what to expect. Things have been kept much the same, with the odd tweak here and there, but what has been added is scope and context.

IMG_9152

The first section of the book begins with the Rise of Gulgaz, a Bonesplitterz Bigboss who leads his warband on a rampage, getting stronger as they encounter various enemies – the inference here being that his warband was built using the Path to Glory system, and then various battles were played.

There are no great revelations of Age of Sigmar lore in this story, but it is fun enough to read, and you begin to see how a Path to Glory campaign can fit together on a narrative level. In a nutshell, because no points are involved in building forces, you might as well construct background behind your force – and a bunch of Orruks rampaging through the realms works as well as anything else!

IMG_9153

There are six pages of photographs covering various warbands, with the caption text tying them into the story of Gulgaz in some way. Not too much to say here; the photography is excellent and you may get some good ideas for putting your own warband together.

Then we get to the meat of the book – the Path to Glory campaign rules.

If you are not familiar with them, the idea is dead simple. First, pick a Grand Alliance allegiance, then a champion (leader) for your warband based on that allegiance.

The champion you pick will determine how many units of followers your warband begins the campaign with. So, for example, if you had chosen Grand Alliance Chaos and wanted a Khorne theme to your warband, you might pick something humble, such as an Exalted Deathbringer to lead your warband, who will let you have four units of followers – or you could go right to the other end of the scale and pick a Bloodthirster, who will only let you start with two followers.

This is the first ‘balancing’ mechanism used to put warbands within spitting distance of each other (don’t expect hard and fast points with these rules – they are not used, and not necessary for Path to Glory).

Once you have worked out how many follower units you have, you simply pick a Follower table for your Grand Alliance (no need to stick with the theme your opted for your champion) and roll. So, your Exalted Deathbringer could roll on the Khorne Retinue Followers table, select the Bloodbound Followers column (as opposed to daemons), and then roll up 20 Bloodreavers, 5 Blood Warriors, 3 Mighty Skullcrushers, or a Khorgorath.

Alternatively, you could roll on the Khorne Elite Followers table, which takes up 2 of your followers rolls and, selecting Bloodbound again, and get either 10 Blood Warriors, 5 Wrathmongers, or 5 Skullreapers.

However, you can also ‘branch out’ and roll on the followers tables for other Chaos factions, such as Beasts of Chaos, Skaven, Pestilens, or Slaves to Darkness – the elite follower table for the latter would give you the chance of, for example, 10 Chaos Warriors, a Warshrine, 5 Chaos Chosen, or 5 Chaos Knights, all of which you can (of course) give the Khorne keyword to bind them tightly into your existing force.

Basically, whatever Grand Alliance you choose, you are going to get plenty of options to create a wide and varied force that by no means needs to look like the force of someone else in the same Grand Alliance.

You can also use one roll to give your champion (or a unit of followers) a reward before the campaign starts – for our Exalted Deathbringer, this could be Daemonic Armour (re-roll failed saves), Molten Blood (dish out mortal wounds when hit), an Enscorcelled weapon (better Rend), or any one of nearly a dozen options in total.

IMG_9154

Playing the campaign is even simpler – pick an opponent (‘oi, you, stitch this!’), play a game with an agreed Battleplan, and see who wins. The winner gets D3 Glory points, the loser 1. The first warband to total 10 Glory points (or gains 5 additional units of followers) fights one more battle and, if they triumph, wins the campaign!

After each battle, your warband gets rewards, which can be upgrades to your champion or followers, or could be more followers. If you get the latter, you have the choice to burn a Glory point to roll on the aforementioned elite followers table, so you have to make the choice between a better warband or a quicker win.

There are seven Battleplans provided in Path to Glory though, frankly, you can use any of the hundred or so Battleplans already published for Age of Sigmar. Some of those in this book you may have seen before, while others are brand new, and they tend to tie into the Path to Glory campaign – perhaps granting bonus Glory points for achieving certain goals,, or adding a ‘free’ monster to a warband. There is even provision made for battles involving more than two warbands at once.

IMG_9155

The photograph above shows the basic layout of warbands, this one showcasing Tzeentch. As you can see, you have a wide variety of champions to kick off your force, from the ever so humble Magisters and Heralds, right up to Ogroid Thamaturges and Lords of Change (!). The followers tables are broken down into retinues (units), heroes, and elites, with each of those tables split between mortals and daemons. The reward tables for champions and followers come after.

IMG_9156

The champion rewards table for chaos warbands allows for Dark Patronage, gifts directly given by the warband’s god, which can be anything from the odd re-roll to increased damage or extra spells.

IMG_9157

While there are warband tables for every ‘current’ faction in Age of Sigmar, happily there are also ‘general’ Grand Alliance tables which allow the use of older miniatures and further increase the scope of what is possible when building a warband. The Destruction tables, for example, allow you to use an Orruk Warboss or Shaman as a champion, or an Ogor Tyrant, Moonclan/Gitmob/Spiderfang Warbosses, or (very funny) an Arachnarok Spider.

So, just because your Ogors (for example) do not have their very own warband table, you can still field an all Ogor force in Path to Glory, and the same applies to Aelfs, Duardin, Freeguilds, and undead.

IMG_9158

The very last chapter introduces Start Collecting Warbands – instead of going through the warband creation system, simply grab a Start Collecting box and use the forces from that! This is, of course, ideal for someone just beginning Age of Sigmar or just starting a new army, particularly if there is a group ‘Tale of Four Gamers’ thing going on, where players add a new unit every couple of weeks or so.

Not all Start Collecting sets are created equally, of course, so some must achieve tougher goals in the campaign, while others get a free reward.

Very nicely done, and in just four pages too.

 

Conclusion

The Path to Glory campaign was always something I had meant to get running, but never quite got round to. The additions and tweaks made to it with this book has just bumped the campaign up in priority (expect to see a report soon!).

For just £20, you get a ‘new’ way to play Age of Sigmar (get yourself out of the matched play rut!) and a campaign system that you can probably play through and determine a winner in a single day – certainly through a weekend.

This is a nice little addition to the Age of Sigmar line, and I think I will be recommending it!

How to Play the New 40k

The new 40k is dead simple. Like, really simple.

You can figure out the rules within maybe 5 minutes – within 10 minutes (at the most!) of playing, you will have them memorised. That is not to say it is without depth – quite the opposite. Like Age of Sigmar, the new 40k has very simple core rules, but layers complicaton and depth on top. Best of all worlds, really – newcomers get into the game quickly and without fuss, while veterans can endlessly tweak to get the results they want, be they narrative or competitive.

So, I am going to show you how to play the new 40k!

IMG_8803

The mission you are playing will tell you who goes first and, unlike Age of Sigmar, you simply alternate turns. Go through each of the six phases in the turn, and then hand off to your opponent. Continue until the game ends.

 

Movement Phase

Pick a unit, move it. Units now have their own movement values and if you can Fly, then you can move straight over models and terrain. Keep your models within 2″ of each other and more than 1″ away from the enemy. Run (called Advance now) an extra dice worth of inches.

You can Fall Back, moving out of contact with an enemy, but you won’t be able to advance, charge or shoot.

And that is Movement done.

 

Psychic Phase

Pick a psyker, pick a psychic power, roll two dice and try to meet or beat the power’s Warp Charge value. Try not to get a double 1 or 6, as Perils of the Warp means your psyker takes D3 mortal wounds and, if he dies, all units within 6″ also take D3 mortal wounds.

Mortal wounds, you ask? Automatic wounds that do not need hit or wound rolls, and ignore all saves (including invulnerable!).

Deny the Witch is the same as unbinding in Age of Sigmar, except you can do it at 24″ range – roll two dice and beat the psyker’s own roll to stop the power.

 

Shooting Phase

No shooting chart, you just need to roll whatever your Ballistic Skill is – so, BS 3+ means you need 3 or more to hit something. Units can now split fire with abandon, and characters can only be picked out if they are the closest models (which is fair enough, as they can no longer join units). You cannot shoot at anything if an enemy is within 1″ of you.

There is a new wound roll table, but it is dead simple to memorise.

If Strength is greater than Toughness, you need 3+, if it is lower, you need 5+, and they are the same… 4+

That will cover you for 90% of all attacks. However, particularly strong or weak attacks extend the dice range, so if Strength is twice (or more) than Toughness, you only need a 2+. If it is the other way around, 6+. Everything can hurt everything else, it just gets really hard at the bottom end.

Once you wound something they get a saving through, but this can now be modified, either by a weapon’s AP score or terrain which gives a +1 bonus (there are obviously unit specific rules that add further modifiers, but these are the core rules being covered here).

IMG_8804

Weapon types are still in, so Assault weapons can still shoot if you advanced (albeit at -1 to hit), Heavy weapons are at -1 to hit if you so much as wiggle a toe, Pistols can shoot at enemies within 1″, and so forth.

 

Charge Phase

If you have a unit 12″ away from the enemy, you can try to charge. They get Overwatch on you (6+ to hit, as before), then you roll two dice for the charge move – you must get within 1″ of an enemy model.

 

Fight Phase

Models that charged this turn fight first. After that, players alternate units, Age of Sigmar style. Models pile in 3″, again like Age of Sigmar, and they get to fight if they are within 1″ of an enemy or a friendly model that is within 1″ of an enemy.

Characters get a special pile in, a 3″ move to reach an enemy even if they did not start within 1″.

You get as many attacks as you have, well, Attacks, and these can be split between different enemies and close combat weapons if you wish. You hit with your WS (so, WS 4+ needs 4 or more to hit an enemy), and wounding is the same as for shooting.

After you have done your attacks with a unit, it can consolidate up to 3″, but this move must be towards the nearest enemy model and is not compulsory.

 

Morale Phase

A unit took losses? Roll a dice and add how many models it lost. If this total exceeds the unit’s Leadership, it loses additional models equal to the difference. Same as Age of Sigmar.

And that is not just morale done, that is the turn!

IMG_8805

That is basically the game. There are a couple of extra bits and pieces covering Transports (dead easy, transports now have model capacity not unit, embark/disembark within 3″ – but not both in the same turn, and they can act normally after leaving), invulnerable saves (they act the same way as before, either or with armour saves), terrain (already covered, inflicts penalty to shooting), aura abilities (they affect the model generating them), and… that is about it, really.

So, you now know how to play the new 40k! Grab some Datasheets and get blasting!

 

New 40k: Dark Imperium – First Thoughts

Okay, I wasn’t going to do this. I wasn’t going to do an ‘unboxing’ review of the new 40k, but instead give you a nice, considered read in a couple of days. However, there is just so much stuff to cover that I think it will be better if I break it down a little.

IMG_8798

What really inspired this was the opening of the box set – GW have done really, really well here.

At first, I thought they had cut corners, as if you pick up the box a certain way, it feels like they used really thin card. However, upon taking the cellophane wrapping off, you realise this is just a sleeve rather than the normal top-and-bottom box design. If you have picked up one of their ‘premium’ models recently (Archaon, Lord of Change, Triumvirates, etc), you will know what to expect.

What I didn’t expect was the packaging of components inside, which kinda reminded me of unboxing an iPhone rather than the usual GW way of cramming-stuff-inside. The above photo shows the presentation once you take the sleeve off. You get a kind of mini-box that contains all the plastics that come with the set, the Death Guard and Primaris Marines.

IMG_8800

Taking that off, you get this, the hardback rulebook neatly nestled between two storage areas. I hadn’t been keeping up with any unboxing posts or videos, so this was a nice surprise – in the past, GW have packaging cut down softback books in their starter sets, with a hardback available separately. Here, you get the full hardback in the box.

IMG_8799

Bound up with the book are separate booklets covering the Primaris Marines and Death Guard, along with a construction guide, transfers (covering four chapters) and a Z-type folding card with all the core rules.

IMG_8801

Burrowing further into the box, the storage areas lift to reveal a bendy plastic measuring tool, dice (which are really nice dice, considering this is ‘just’ a starter set, and the bases (which include the new plastic flying bases for the Primaris Marines, first seen on the Kharadron Overlords).

IMG_8802

The overall impression – this is a quality product. GW have done a very good job on the presentation, and I would give them an A+. This is how things should be done.

I also started going through the actual rules. Now, some caveats here: first off, be very wary of any reviews over the next few days that try to tell you what the game is like if the reviewer has not actually played it – there is a lot to process, and no one is going to be able to give you a decent opinion worth, well, anything, until they actually have a few games under their belts. That includes me.

Second, what is apparent is that while the core rules are simple, there is a great deal of interaction between units and a lot of new territory in the way units work. No one is going to be able to call themselves an ‘expert’ player with this rules set for a few months, regardless of their previous playing experience.

All that said…

I really like these rules!

They may take you 15-20 minutes to read (add another 5 minutes for army construction), but after that you will be able to explain the rules to a current 40k player in 5 minutes, with no exaggeration, and they will have them memorised within 10 minutes of playing. They really are that easy.

Which is a good thing – like Age of Sigmar, you won’t be ‘playing the rules’ or debating about what does which and how. You will just be able to focus on what is happening on the tabletop and what cool thing your models are going to do next.

The layers (and complications) come with the Datasheets for every unit, again, Age of Sigmar style.

This will open the game to everyone – casual players will find it easy to get to grips with, narrative players will be able to concentrate on action rather than rules, and competitive players will have all the tools they need to fine tune their armies and create synergies on the table.

Best of all worlds, then? Well, the truth is in the pudding, and I have the local club coming round this Saturday to get some actual games in but, at first glance, I am nicely optimistic.

Oh, and I managed to put all the Death Guard models together last night, with the (likely impossible) aim of having them all painted for Saturday’s games. My problem now is that they look very nice, are going to look better with the same colour scheme as I used on my Blightkings and, with a large Daemons of Nurgle force for Age of Sigmar already in my cabinets, it now looks like I am now doing a Death Guard army for 40k, which was completely unintentional (I swear!).

I’ll have some more updates on this edition of 40k very soon, so stay tuned!

The New 40k – Dark Imperium

Yup, my copy has just arrived, along with oodles of army books!

IMG_8797

I have some games set up with the local club, so expect a review – likely this coming Saturday!

Review – Age of Sigmar: Skirmish

The latest book(let) for Age of Sigmar has just arrived, covering skirmish/warband level battles in the Mortal Realms (specifically, the Realm of Death). I have a feeling this book and whole style of play is going to get overshadowed by the new 40k which starts popping up next week, but I will forge ahead with a review regardless!

IMG_8678

First things first. This is not Mordheim, nor even an Age of Sigmar version of Necromunda. So, get that out of your head.

What this book is, is a £6 way of playing with Age of Sigmar models in a different manner.

So, is it any good?

IMG_8679

Well, things kick off with a four page overview of the Mortal Realms and what has been happening in them up to date – nothing you have not already seen if you have bought an Age of Sigmar book, and it may seem a little odd, given the Age of Sigmar rules (which are fully used in Skirmish) are not included. Then again, they are still available for free download, so someone could conceivably to this book ‘raw’.

IMG_8680

We then crack on with the setting for Skirmish (no reason you cannot skirmish in any region of the Mortal Realms, but this is the default provided with the book). This is Shadespire, a ruined city deep in the Realm of Death. Once great, the rulers (the Katophranes) managed to honk Nagash off by crafting items from Shadeglass, which gave them ability to live beyond their mortal bodies.

And Nagash is never going to be down with that.

The end result is that the city has been purged of its original inhabitants and the ruins are gradually getting swamped by the surrounding (and frankly lethal) desert. However, there are great treasures lying around (albeit guarded with some vicious traps), so it is worth the while of every power, from the lowliest tribe of Grots to the Stormcast Eternals, to brave the desert, accept the casualties it deals out, and get to the city where they will have to fight off other warbands looking for goodies themselves.

The hook (as far as the wider realms are concerned) is that the treasures found in Shadespire could have a major effect on the wars elsewhere.

So, what about the rules?

IMG_8681

You play Skirmish pretty much the same way as you do Age of Sigmar. In fact, the rules changes (tweaks would be a better word) can be more or less summarised as:

  • Every model is its own unit and does not have to stay within 1″ of its friends.
  • Yiou need a General, and he must be a Hero.
  • Inspiring Presence is not allowed, but all other command abilities are.
  • When a warband as a whole takes casualties, a single Battleshock test is taken for everyone, using the general’s Bravery.
  • No summoning, adding of models, or anything that even remotely smells like either. So no, Flesh-Eater Courts will not be constantly revitalising units.
  • The Three Rules of One are in effect.

And that really is about it.

Grand Allegiance abilities can be used, not faction specific ones, though there are new command abilities and artefacts of power unique to Skirmish as well. There is also a new Mysterious Terrain table to reflect the terrain of Shadespire.

IMG_8682

There are campaign rules and, in fact, a complete 6-part campaign of linked Battleplans that tells the story of a couple of warbands entering Shadespire in an effort to locate a great artefact. However, you can use just about any Battleplan yet published for Age of Sigmar with little or no extra effort.

Warbands are built with Renown points (25 is the recommended start), and more Renown points are acquired throughout the campaign (you earn 6 for losing, for example, and 10 for a major victory. After each battle, you also get to roll on the Rewards of Battle table (victors effectively get to roll twice), which grants you more Renown, magic items, or relics that allow Wizards to learn new spells (such as Soul Siphon, which dishes out a mortal wound while healing the caster).

Tournament rules (Matched Play) are also included – warbands are bumped up to 50 Renown (a suggestion is made to escalate the number of Renown used throughout a day of play), Battleplans are a little more regulated, and there is a scoring system.

Other than that, Matched Play is the same as the campaign, and any Age of Sigmar player will get to grips with both very quickly.

IMG_8683

There are six Battleplans dedicated to Skirmish; Clash at Dawn, Treasure Hunt, Fragile Cargo, Vortex of Power, Assassinate, and Seize the Relic. These are the Battleplans assembled into the ‘default’ campaign (come back here soon for a full campaign report!) though, as mentioned earlier, you can use any Battleplans to create your own unique campaign.

IMG_8684

Finally, we get to the warband lists…

It was kinda hinted in the run up to this book’s release that you would be able to use almost any Age of Sigmar model as they do, of course, use the same Warscrolls. The great behemoths and war engines would be taken out, of course, and we could all accept that. However, looking through the lists, there are some odd omissions.

IMG_8685

For example, if you are a dedicated Wood Elf or Dwarf player, you will find yourself well covered here with decent lists for the Dispossessed and Wanderers. However, if you are a Beastclaw Raiders player, you may be glad to see the Mournfang Riders… but no Icebrow Hunter (who might have fitted in quite well) or Frost Sabres. For the Seraphon, you might well be be able to get past the fact that there is no Slann Starmaster – but there is no Skink Priest either (you get the Starpriest or Oldblood as a choice of general).

A further complication (and this will not be a factor for Matched Play) is that 25 Renown points are suggested to begin a campaign. However, a Megaboss costs 28 points. An Oldblood is 24 points.

You are going to be starting your campaign with minor leaders – which is fair enough, but someone is going to be trying to save points for a Big Bad on their side. So, what, the Megaboss got lost in the desert, and has now turned up to find the Warchanter has been leading the warband and is now the general?

Not a massive mis-step, more of an oddity.

Overall, I am looking to get my teeth into this. Games are going to be fast and furious, and getting through the entire campaign in a single day will be no great effort. The chances are you already have a complete warband in your collection and, for £6… well, I cannot see any reason for anyone not to give this a whirl.

 

 

Review – Battletome: Kharadron Overlords

Okay, we have a big one today… The new Battletome covering the Kharadron Overlords has arrived, on the back of a new miniatures line that has got a great many people taking another look at Age of Sigmar. This book has all the makings of being the best Battletome so far. So, does it live up to the hype?

IMG_8366

If you have been spending your time under a rock of late, you will not know that the Kharadron Overlords are a new race of Dwarfs (Duardin) that have been added to Age of Sigmar. They spend their time floating in clouds and sky cities, have some seriously advanced technology for a fantasy setting… oh, and they have flying ships, three versions of which Games Workshop have done miniatures for.

They made quite an impact when they were first revealed.

This is the book that properly introduces them to the game and, to begin with, just deal with this artwork for a moment…

IMG_8367

And this…

IMG_8368

Those are just on the first few pages, and there is much, much, much more throughout the book. GW have really spared no expense on making this book pretty and introducing the Kharadron Overlords as a new power in the game.

IMG_8369

Though they are Duardin, and we all know what a Dwarf is, there is a lot of new ground to cover as they are very different to what has come before. Still Warhammer Dwarfs you understand, but with a huge dollop of X factor that will separate them from your Pappy’s Dwarfs, if you take my meaning.

IMG_8370

In a nutshell, the Kharadron Overlords break down like this:

The Duardin were getting smacked around during the Age of Chaos. Some, like the Fyreslayers, doubled down and fortified their holds, with mixed results. The Kharadron Overlords already had ‘sky ship’ technology, and they escaped upwards, living in Sky-ports that were effectively cloaked even from the gods. When Sigmar’s forces returned to give Chaos a right smacking, the Overlords watched and, at the end of the Realmgate Wars when it was clear that the Stormcasts were making progress, they decided it was time to return. After all, there was money to be made.

IMG_8371

There are six main Sky-ports (which effectively create six main armies for the Overlords, though there is plenty of room for you to make your own minor Sky-port), and all of them place the acquisition of wealth very high on their agenda. They are both militaristic and mercantile, sticking rigidly to the Code, which gives the the framework not only for their business dealings but their entire society. If it is not in the Code, it does not get done (though the Sky-port of Barak-Mhornar is none for seriously twisting the intent of the Code, and they are not best trusted).

IMG_8372

The Overlords are headed by the Geldraad, which is a kind of council that binds all the Sky-ports together under the Code, while each Sky-port itself is ruled by a Council of Admirals.

Beneath them, you get the Fleets (basically anything with the word Arkanaut in front of it), the Guilds (covering the Endrineers, Aether-khemists, and Aethric Navigators), and the Grundcorps – another guild, but a privately owned group of mercenaries who are hired out to various expeditions.

All of them work to locate, mine, horde and sell aether-gold, a type of gas that has many useful properties, not least enabling their ships to fly. It is called the Breath of Grugni but, unlike the Fyreslayers, there is no real religious aspect to this material – the Kharadron Overlords really are only interested in it for what it can do, and how much it is worth.

There, that is your two minute introduction to the Kharadron Overlords. There is a lot of background material for them in this book and while there are some very obvious hooks for future developments (advancing technology, other ships, etc), you are not going to be walking away from these sections feeling like you don’t know who these guys are or what they want.

IMG_8373

Fourteen pages have been given over to ‘atmospheric action shots’ of the miniatures range, with the Kharadron Overlords fighting a variety of enemies, and GW has really pushed the boat out on these to emphasise the flying units in this army.

IMG_8374

And, of course, there are plenty of pictures of stand alone pretty painted miniatures. Here is the biggest vessel the Overlords have as a miniature right now, the Ironclad. I want one.

IMG_8375

One brand new addition to this Battletome over the previous books is a proper modelling/painting section. It goes through each of the main Sky-ports and tells you exactly which colours to use. Granted, it uses the ‘do all basecoats, do all shading, do all layers’ method, which I do not really like (it goes against the Teachings of Duncan), but just listing all the colours will make a big difference for those of you who, like me, have definite Limits of Talent.

IMG_8376

There is even a guide showing you how to create scenic bases for a variety of battlefields.

IMG_8377

Here is something else that is new – a guide to making a (minor) conversion of one of the Heroes, the Arkanaut Admiral. Granted, it is just a (half) weapon swap, taking a standard from the Thunderers and giving the Admiral’s hammer a new head, but it is a nice enough way to make the Admiral look like he is carrying an artefact (Hammer of Aethermatic Might). A truly minor conversion, and one that will not stretch most hobbyists, but I’ll probably give it a swing in the near future.

IMG_8378

As always, I suspect many of you have skipped the previous parts of the review to get to this bit – the rules!

Each of the six Sky-ports has its own page of rules dedicated to it, which tells you what aspects of the Code they adhere most to, abilities certain units have, alterations they can make to the Battalion Warscrolls, and additional artefacts or command traits available to them.

For example, Barak-Zon (the guys who really like their fleets) have Heroes who re-roll hit and wound rolls of 1 against Monsters and other Heroes, have a ‘save’ against fleeing models and, once per game, can charge straight after disembarking from a Skyvessel. In addition, every unit can re-roll wound rolls of 1 after charging, and Heroes get access to the Aethersped Hammer, which lets them attack before anyone else. Finally, they can add Skywardens to their Frigate Squadrons.

IMG_8379

I think I will be going for Barak-Nar myself – as well as being the biggest and best of the Sky-ports, its Heroes have a sick amount of unbinding available to them (it almost seems they are built to take on Tzeentch!).

IMG_8380

On top of all that, you also get your normal Command Traits and Artefacts (The Kharadron Code is effectively the Battle Traits list for the Overlords). While there is a wide enough choice you won’t find any of the ‘special’ artefacts that have been popping up for the Stormcasts and Khorne, such as the banners or priestly prayers. Frankly, the Overlords will not need them.

IMG_8381

The next section introduces new Battleplans and here, I can report on two things.

Good News: There are five of them, enough to link into your own mini-campaign (which is exactly what I am intending to do).

Bad News: They are still not putting the old-style stories alongside these Battleplans. Please, GW, go back to the way you used to present Battleplans, it added a great deal to the background and feel of an army!

IMG_8382

The Kharadron Overlords get their own Path to Glory tables, of course (and I really must set up a Path to Glory campaign sometime soon), and there does not appear to be anything too worrying here. Even if a player was to go heavy on the Skyvessel table, half of the time they will be receiving the smaller Gunhaulers, and I cannot think a Kharadron force will get out of hand too quickly.

IMG_8383

There is another section brand new to this Battletome – four pages dedicated to theming your Kharadron force and some suggested tactics. Now, there are no grand words of wisdom here, nothing that will win every battle for you – think of it more as a further insight into the army rather than actual tactics, and you won’t be disappointed.

IMG_8384

However, it does have a nice write up of specific ploys to try for four of the Sky-ports – again, nothing you might not have worked out for yourself after thumbing through the rules, but it might help point you in the direction of choosing which Sky-port you are going to tackle.

IMG_8385

I have to confess, this was one of the first Battletomes that had me going to the Warscroll Battalions almost immediately after opening the book – I wanted to know how many ships I would likely need for a decent force!

IMG_8386

It is worth pointing out that all of these Battalions are all eminently doable, even if you are not Lord Moneybags. If you were to collect:

1 Ironclad
3 Frigates (this is the only requirement that might get you thinking twice)
3 Gunhaulers
3 boxes of Arkanaut Companies
1 box of Arkanaut Thunderers
2 boxes of Skywardens/Endrinriggers
1 of each Hero

You would be able to do all the main Battalions, including the combined Grand Armada. And if you already have a decent force of Stormcasts, just adding another Gunhauler and a box of Skywardens will allow you to field the Aetherstrike Force (you probably already have the Stormcast component). Speaking of which…

IMG_8387

There is an interesting ‘combined’ Battalion, featuring a smattering of Kharadron (just one Gunhauler and three flying infantry units) who have joined up with three retinues of Prosecutors and a Knight-Venator. The Knight-Venator can guide the rest of the Battalion to fire upon an enemy (so, that will be useless – does everyone else have the same problem with Knight-Venators as I do?), while a unit that sticks close to others can shoot faster.

IMG_8388

I am not going to go into a complete break down of every Warscroll for these units – you can download them for free from GW’s website and make your own judgement. However, two things become very apparent when looking through them.

  1. The Kharadron Overlords are a very characterful army that you can have a lot of fun with.
  2. They absolutely suck in close combat!

A lot is made of the Overlords mobility on the battlefield, but I am not so sure. Ironclads have a Move of just 8″, with Gunhaulers topping out at 12″, and with Saves floating around the 4-5+ area, you are going to need the high Wounds scores (the smallest ship, the Gunhauler, has 10 wounds).

It seems clear that an effective Kharadron Overlord army will be one that takes advantage of all the synergies it has – which is just what you want in Age of Sigmar. It has been said that the Overlords are not ‘competitive’ and that they will not appear in tournaments. I am not so sure. There are some really funky things you can do with this force, you just have to be more… careful, I suppose.

There do not appear to be any game-busting units or combinations which, allegedly, is what will drive tournament players away from them. However, the really good players do not generally go looking for the game-breaking stuff and can perform well with most mid to high tier armies.

So, we shall see how they do in action with the next round of tournaments! I would just not write them off just yet…

 

Warscroll Cards

As with the last two Battletomes, GW has also released Warscroll Cards for the Kharadron Overlords.

IMG_8389

Also as before, these come with some thick cardstock counters (decently thick, you won’t be damaging these in a hurry) as game aids.

IMG_8390

Regular readers will will know of my issues with the last two sets of cards, that being extremely small font sizes used for the rules text. So, have GW fixed this problem?

IMG_8391

No!

You can see that the font size is necessary for rules-heavy units like the Ironclad, but for the basic troops?

Now, I could understand that the font size was a simple misjudgement on the Stormcast cards, and that the Khorne and Kharadron Overlords sets were already done, dusted and sent to print before the Stormcast cards went on release and we gamers saw them.

So, I am going to give GW a little bit of a pass on these. But get your act together, guys, if the next set of cards also have this issue, I am going to have to start deducting points.

 

Conclusion

I think I would go as far to say GW have knocked the ball out of the park on this one. In fact, if only they had included the story elements behind the Battleplans, as they did on many of the early Battletomes, I would have said that this is a near perfect gaming book.

As it stands, this is a Battletome you will go back to time and again, for the background, the rules, and the modelling aspects. The Kharadron Overlords themselves are a great and worthy addition to the high/mythic fantasy of Age of Sigmar, and are going to make an impact down your local store when you start popping ships into the table.

This book gets a definite A Rating from me.