Thunderscorn

I haven’t gone mad for Age of Sigmar models of late (and I still have to finish off my Kharadron Overlords), but these Dragon Ogors have been sitting in my ‘plastic pile’ for an absolute age (pretty much since Sigmar came out!), and I finally got cracking on them last week.

IMG_9701

I already had a small unit of three Dragon Ogors done, but they were really feeling lonely – they needed some friends and a leader.

IMG_9703

The Shaggoth is so old he is actually a (very heavy) metal model. He was also missing a horn, but I snipped a spine in half from a Chaos Spawn to replace it, and now I bet you cannot tell which one is the replacement!

IMG_9702

To do a ‘proper’ Thunderscorn force, I should probably do a third unit but, for now, I think these chaps will do just fine.

Now I need to get cracking on with the Death Guard and try to get that army ‘finished’.

Advertisements

Fate of Konor: Countdown to Destruction

The forces of the Imperium are strained trying to contain the invading armies, and the Walking Pox is running amok amidst the dwindling population of Drenthal. Imperial High Command has therefore taken the decision to overcharge the fusion core of Terebral Station Sigma – all loyalist forces must fight their way to the starport or perish in the destruction of the entire planet…

 

Armies

In the rush to get off planet, armies are hardly cohesive, so we are taking this opportunity to use smaller forces, at 60 points.

Death Guard (Battalion)
Daemon Prince of Nurgle (Tainted Regeneration, Suppurating Plate, Miasma of Pestilence)
Malignant Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Blades of Putrefaction)
Noxious Blightbringer
Poxwalkers x 20
Plague Marines x 7 (Power Fist, Plasma Gun)
Cultists x 20

Daemons of Nurgle (Patrol)
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma of Pestilence)
Plaguebearers x 30
Nurglings x 6

The forces of Nurgle are starting to find their pace now – still don’t have enough Plague Marines (I foresee a big block of 20 in the near future, tooled up for close combat…), but the Plaguebearers are now 30-strong, we have the Daemon Prince in there and… we now have access to the new Codex – hello, Tainted Regeneration, Suppurating Plate and Blades of Putrefaction!

Marines Errant
Captain (Chapter Master)
Librarian
Venerable Dreadnought (Assault Cannon)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher, Flamer)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Assault Squad (Lightning Claws)

The Marines Errant are bringing one of the big guns for this fight, as their Chapter Master desperately leads the retreat, advised by his Librarian.

 

Mission: Countdown to Destruction

At the end of this battle (random game length), the Marines Errant will count up the Power Level of all units leaving the battlefield by the Death Guard’s table edge (not counting Flyers). If this totals 20 or more, then gain a major victory – any other result is a major victory for the Death Guard.

To complicate things, the Marines Errant will find that the ground disappears up to 6″ from their own table edge every round, and anything standing there will fall into the planet’s core, ensuring they are being driven forward at a fair pace!

To make things even more exciting (and to avoid easy wins) we are also not going to allow Reinforcements to teleport/drop onto the table.

The mission itself has two new Stratagems for the Death Guard – Aerial Dominance allows them to recycle destroyed Flyers, while Delaying Tactics allows the Death Guard to try to stop the Marines Errant from falling back (the cowards!). For their part, the Marines Errant can use Forced March, which allows them to roll three dice when Advancing, picking the best result.

The Fate of Konor campaign also introduces yet another Stratagem (Fighter Ace) allowing a single Flyer to gain a +1 bonus to hit rolls for the whole battle.

 

Deployment

The forces of Nurgle skulked around the ruins as the world literally tore itself apart, with a huge horde of Plaguebearers holding the centre, supported on the flanks by Poxwalkers and Cultists. The Plague Marines, Plaguecaster and Daemon Prince took position just a little further back, ready to plug any gaps.

IMG_9561

For their part, the Marines Errant lined up in the centre, determined to punch their way through before the ground fell from their feet.

 

Round One

The Marines Errant wasted no time, and jogged forward, aware that behind them the apocalypse was happening. They were immediately confronted by waves of Nurglings who fell over one another as they giggled and reached out to the Marines.

IMG_9562

Working together, the Tactical Squads gunned down the Nurglings as their Librarian created a Null Zone that robbed the daemons of their vitality. Nurglings burst apart in a spray of pus and filth as Bolter rounds detonated around them.

Taking advantage of their momentum, one Tactical Squad swept round the ruined Shrine of the Aquila to confront the Poxwalkers lurching towards them. Supporting fire from the Venerable Dreadnought ripped into the Poxwalkers before the Tactical Marines drew their Combat Knives and set about driving the zombies back with devastating efficiency.

IMG_9563 The Marines Errant had worse luck in the centre as a Tactical Squad crashed into the Plaguebearers alongside an Assault Squad. Clouds of flies obscured their vision and clogged their breather masks, but they managed to banish four daemons and watched as another three faded from view, their hold on the material world broken.

IMG_9564

Another Tactical Squad burst through the door of the Shrine of the Aquila, but halted as they saw a squad of Plague Marines waiting for them.

IMG_9565

By now, all the Marines Errant were engaged, with just the Chapter Master and Librarian holding back, waiting for their moment as the Venerable Dreadnought continued to unleash supporting fire with its Assault Cannon.

IMG_9566

Seeing the Assault Marines held in place by the Plaguebearers, the Cult Leader ordered his devotees to pull back, ready to guard against a breakout by the Marines Errant.

IMG_9567

The Daemon Prince, however, had more forthright ideas. Striding forward, he ignored the Tactical Squad fighting the Poxwalkers and turned the corner of the Shrine of the Aquila to find not only a Venerable Dreadnought, but the Librarian and Chapter Master too.

IMG_9568

Ignoring the Dreadnought, the Daemon Prince hurled a bolt of pestilent energy at the Chapter Master, but found his psychic energy drained by the Librarian’s Null Zone. As the Malignant Plaguecaster threw a Miasma of Pestilence over him, the Daemon Prince lumbered forward to knock the Librarian flying with one sweep of his Hellforged Sword.

Inside the Shrine, the Plague Marines advanced on the Tactical Squad who had intruded upon them, gunning down two Marines, then cutting down another three with their Plague Knives, This was too much for one Marine who, under the influence of the Blightbringer’s Tocsin of Misery, turned and ran for cover.

Not far away, the Plague Swords of the Plaguebearers started to drip with rotting filth as the Plaguecaster gifted them with Blades of Putrefaction. The daemons were quick to capitalise on this as they hacked down four more Assault Marines.

IMG_9569

Round Two

Behind the Marines Errant, the world was in turmoil as a massive section of the earth fell into the core of the planet. The Chapter Master gave a wary look behind him and knew time was running out. Barking orders, he commanded his Marines to make a general retreat, breaking out towards the starport where they could and holding the enemy if that was impossible.

The three surviving Assault Marines needed no encouragement as they gunned their jump packs and leapt high over the heads of the Plaguebearers. However, the Cultists had been waiting for just such a move and were already on their way to cut the Assault Squad off.

IMG_9570

At the front of the Shrine of the Aquila, the Chapter Master summoned the two closest Tactical Squads and he directed their fire against the Daemon Prince who seemed all but invulnerable.

IMG_9571

When the smoke had cleared from their Bolters, Flamers, grenades, and Krak Missiles, the Daemon Prince was still standing, leering at the Librarian and Chapter Master. Then, the Venerable Dreadnought charged him from behind.

IMG_9572

The Daemon Prince was nearly knocked off his feet by the Dreadnought’s mighty Power Fist, and he stumbled against the steps of the Shrine before he could recover.

Undaunted, the Daemon Prince regained his feet and grinned at his foes as the wounds he had sustained began to knit and heal before their eyes. Waving a great hand, he then cast a Miasma of Pestilence about himself, but was too arrogant in this display of power and was savaged by a Predator of the Warp before he managed to banish the errant daemon.

IMG_9573

However, the balance of the fight had now been reversed and as the Venerable Dreadnought flailed helplessly against the Daemon Prince’s layered defences, the Hellforged Sword started hacking huge slices of armour plating. The Tactical Squads supporting the Chapter Master and Dreadnought quickly found themselves sandwiched between the Daemon Prince and the Plaguebearers who marched forward to engage them.

Across the battlefield, a Tactical Squad had fought its way past the Poxwalkers and was now sprinting for the starport – however, they had not done so unnoticed…

IMG_9574

Despite the range, the Plague Marines laid down terribly accurate fire with their Bolters and Plasma Gun, and two Marines fell to the ground. Another two were immolated within their armour as the Plaguecaster summoned the energy of the Warp to stop them.

The Assault Squad, too, was within sight of the starport, but the Cultists were hot on their heels, gunning down two Marines with their auto-weapons, leaving just the Sergeant standing. Screaming prayers to Grandfather Nurgle, they rushed in, but Lightning Claws were their only reward as three were cut down in seconds.

 

Round Three

As the grounds continued to plummet into the core of the planet, the Venerable Dreadnought staggered away from the Daemon Prince. The Librarian tried to summon destructive energies from the Warp to finish off the Daemon Prince but found his talent suppressed by a gleeful Plaguecaster. At the entrance to the Shrine, a Tactical Squad unleashed every weapon they had, doing little damage, but distracting the Daemon Prince long enough for the Venerable Dreadnought to turn around and blast the creature apart with a burst of its Assault Cannon.

IMG_9575

However, the Plaguebearers were now in position to use their full weight against the Marines Errant and a bitter fight erupted as both daemon and Marine fell.

Seeing no chance to help his brothers, the Assault Sergeant fired up his jump pack once more, and raced to the starport.

IMG_9576

The Death Guard had stalled the main advance of the Marines Errant, but small units were beginning to slip through the gaps – and so the chase to the starport began.

Furious at having let the Assault Sergeant slip through their fingers, the Cultists ran for the Shrine of the Aquila, eager to prove themselves by facing the Venerable Dreadnought as it marched forward. The Plague Marines, joined by the Plaguecaster and Blightbringer, were far more pragmatic, and they jogged forward after the Tactical Squad that was also nearing the starport.

IMG_9577

Long-ranged Bolter and Plasma fire claimed two of the Tactical Marines, but the Plaguecaster was the only one close enough to reach them. Charging in, he blocked their path, but they dodged the swings of his Corrupted Staff.

IMG_9578

Round Four

A massive quake shook the entire battlefield as the ground fell away, taking three Plaguebearers tumbling with it.

IMG_9579

The Chapter Master and Librarian now had their backs to a fiery death while the hordes of Nurgle lay between them and safety – nodding to one another, they turned and ran for the starport, hoping to find some way through.

Further ahead, the three surviving Tactical Marines worked together bowling over the Plaguecaster as they raced for the starport, catching the last gunship before it took off.

As the gunship fired its engines and rocketed into orbit, the world below them collapsed in upon itself.

 

Conclusion

Short but intense! The Marines Errant claimed victory by getting to the starport but, with just four Marines making it to the waiting gunship, they could not have been proud.

The big question, of course… how did the new Death Guard Codex work?

Overall, well! The Daemon Prince bit way more off than he could chew, but he successfully tied up the Venerable Dreadnought and two characters while he fought, and the rest of the Marines Errant were blocked solidly by the Death Guard and Nurgle daemons. Only the Assault Sergeant, who used his speed (and was really very lucky not to be mobbed by those Cultists) and the Tactical Squad, who threw caution to the wind and just legged it, managed to reach safety.

Everyone else probably died on that battlefield!

One lesson is clear – you need a lot of Command Points for the Death Guard, as there is always a Stratagem you will want to employ (to the extent that using them for re-rolls seems a waste). For mid-sized games, a Battalion and an Outrider/Vanguard/Spearhead detachment might be the way to go and, if you can squeeze everything in, two Battalions.

However, the final analysis has to be that the Death Guard were tough to kill before, and they are even tougher now!

 

 

Codex: Death Guard

When I picked up my first Death Guard models in the Dark Imperium set, I really did not intend to do them as a full army. After all, it was not as if I did not have plenty to be getting on with. However, there was just something about their sculpts and colour scheme that hooked me, and after I started playing them, oh boy, I knew they were for me!

So, it was with great interest that I started paging through the new Codex when it plopped onto my desk.

IMG_9547

There have probably been more previews and leaks about this Codex than any other, so I am not going to give you a page-by-page, blow-by-blow account – instead, I’ll cover the highlights and what in particular tickled me…

In terms of the background behind the Death Guard, they have been rooted firmly in the Heresy-era, rather than just being marauding warbands of diseased marines. This may be because Mortarion has arrived on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium but it does give the legion a solid base. And if you really fancy a challenge, the organisation of the entire legion is provided, should you feel the urge ti paint it all…

IMG_9548

By my very rough calculations, that would be about 2,500 Plague Marines, plus all the other bits and pieces (you have to figure the Poxwalkers and Cultists will push that number right up…).

The colour schemes of various companies and warbands may provide a little less inspiration than normal as, aside from one pale Plague Marines, they are all varying shades of green. Not that you are likely to expect anything else.

IMG_9549

Unlike the Chaos Space Marine and Grey Knight Codexes, the Death Guard are getting a ‘proper’ release, which means new units to get to grips with!

IMG_9550

Starting off with the characters, we get:

Mortarion: The Primarch, very hard. Don’t mess with him.
Foul Blightspawn: Champions who specialise in alchemy, bringing a variety of diseases to battle.
Biologus Putrifiers:  These guys now watch the spread of disease and work out how to make them more effective. Tend to have their blight grenades explode when you shoot them.
Plague Surgeons: Once Apothecaries, they no longer fix their brother marines (the Death Guard are somewhat resilient anyway) and instead culture diseases among their fellows. They also nick gene-seed from loyalist marines.
Tallymen: Sort of like priests, the Tallymen like counting things – shots fired, fleeing enemies, plague-ridden flies. The other Death Guard enjoy this a lot. The Tallymen also act as guardians to the most horrific viral weapons in the legion’s arsenal.

So, the new characters tend to either be developments of the original legion, or are ‘normal’ Death Guard who have gone up the ranks, become champions, and then ‘specialised’.

IMG_9551

We get new units and vehicles too:

Blightlord Terminators: Elite Cataphractii-equipped infantry, eclipsed only by…
Deathshroud Terminators: Those who know their Heresy-era will recognise these guys, the elite bodyguards of Mortarion, pre-daemon. Now, they are just nasty, but more of that later…
Myphitic Blight-Haulers: Kind of a Bloat-Drone with tracks, these little tanks pack a good anti-armour punch while chucking out gasses that cloak nearby Death Guard.
Plagueburst Crawlers: Mobile artillery, but part daemon.
Foetid Bloat-Drones: Not actually new, as we got one in the Dark Imperium set, but these chaps now have access to heavy blight launchers and flesh-mowers, so they are worth a mention.

One thing to mention here – the artwork of the Beasts of Nurgle is very different to the current Finecast model and, try as I might, I cannot find a single Beast in any of the army shots of this book. New plastic Beast of Nurgle confirmed?

Anyway, what are these guys like to play? Well, if you have been messing around with Death Guard in the new edition, you will already know the combination of T5 and Disgustingly Resilient is pretty cool, Miasma is powerful, Poxwalkers are fun, and Bloat-Drones can really ruin someone’s day. Oh, and that the Lord of Contagion is actually quite hard once he gets into combat.

Have things improved, we wonder?

IMG_9552

The ‘common’ rules for the Death Guard include Death to the False Emperor (which is nice, so long as you remember to actually use it) and Plague Weapons (which used to more or less mean knives and swords but there are many, many new plague weapons in this book), which we have seen before, along with Disgustingly Resilient. All well and good.

However, if you keep to the Death Guard keyword in your detachments, you now also get Inexorable Advance (infantry and Helbrutes ignore penalties for shooting and moving with Heavy and Assault weapons, plus Rapid Fire up to 18″), and Plague Host (Troops grab objectives, even if the enemy has already got there).

Plague Host brings the Death Guard up to spec with loyalist marines, but Inexorable Advance is really quite funky. Bolters and Plasma Guns get a bit more terrifying but, more to the point, your Helbrutes can now peg it straight towards the enemy without losing accuracy. This would be the first clue that the new Death Guard have respectable long-ranged firepower…

IMG_9553

It is worth paying attention to Datasheets you think you have already seen before. For example, you will note that Daemon Princes have become cheaper for the Death Guard, and come equipped with Disgustingly Resilient. Combined with some other bits and pieces we will come to in a minute, we might just be seeing the new ‘default’ warlord for Death Guard armies, though it should be noted that the Lord of Contagion has also had a drop in cost.

Plaguebearers had a drop in cost in the Chaos Space Marines Codex, and that has been repeated here. However, the Plague Drones have not only become cheaper, but they have received an extra Wound each – still not sure they are all that, though they are fully capable of holding up enemy units for a while…

Plague Marines have the same options as those in Codex: Chaos Space Marines, but they are certainly worth a careful look. I am thinking units of 20, geared to close combat, might be a way forward – hellishly expensive, but nigh on unstoppable once you add a few bits and pieces that we are about to come to.

IMG_9554

The new characters sit squarely in the Elites choices, alongside the existing Noxious Blightbringer, so you don’t really have any cheap choices for HQs if you want something light to go alongside your Lord or Daemon Prince. However, the new guys are focussed squarely on improving other units rather than being cold killers in their own right (again, like the Blightbringer who speeds up other units).

The Foul Blightspawn is primarily around to stall enemy charges, removing their ability to fight first in a round. However, you will also be eyeing up his Plague Sprayer – this weapon is Assault D6 (9″ range) and automatically hits its target. The AP-3 and D3 are just mean, but the icing on the cake (the pus on the pustule?) is S 2D6 – an average of 7.

That thing is a Terminator-killer, whichever way you look at it, and characters are not going to be too happy getting hit either.

The Biologus Purifier pumps up Blight Grenades thrown by other units, turning them from Frag-a-likes to S4 and D2, with a potential for an additional mortal. That might be worth a shrug on your part, but keep it in mind as we begin to cover the Stratagems…

The Plague Surgeon is another model to keep close to your massed Plague Marine units, as he re-rolls any 1’s they make for being Disgustingly Resilient. His Gene-Seed Thief ability also means he is pretty handy in close combat against similarly-ranked loyalist Marine heroes.

The Tallyman will be another popular choice as he not only grants re-rolls to hits for nearby Death Guard, he also has a chance of refunding your Command Points – and, believe me, you will use a lot of Stratagems in a Death Guard army…

IMG_9555

Well, those are the characters. There is still plenty more to get excited about…

Deathshroud Terminators: At 11 points for 3, these guys are hellishly expensive, but with 3 S8 attacks at AP-3 and D3 damage, they will tear apart, well, just about anything. On top of that, any Death Guard characters nearby will gain an extra attack and, if they happen to be hit, one of the Deathshroud will step in to take the blow. Your Lord of Contagion should never teleport onto the battlefield without three of these guys.
Blightlord Terminators: These guys are 14 points for 5, which may seem a little more reasonable. You cannot really argue with T5 Terminators though, it has to be said, the weapon selections of the Loyalists are probably stronger. However, you will get a lot of mileage out of the Flail of Corruption, which will fairly reap anyone in power amour, and the Balesword they all carry is solid, if not exciting (though their Aura of Rust can increase it to AP-4). More durable than killy, the Blightlords will still cause the enemy issues when they teleport in.
Foetid Bloat-Drone: The drone now can have a heavy blight launcher, which gives it respectable (if not awesome) fire power at long range. However, the star here is the Fleshmower which, if I am reading this right, gives it 9 attacks (3 base, plus 6 for the weapon’s special rule, right?) in close combat at S8, AP-2 and D2. Tactical Squads, Chaplains… you’ll mow them all down with a couple of these.
Myphitic Blight-Hauler: The drone on tracks – comes with a missile launcher and multi-melta, which cannot be changed, but have three in a squadron and you are hitting on 3+ on the move. Decent enough for a mid-sized anti-tank unit. The really funny things are that it also gives Death Guard infantry cover, has a daemonic invun, and is Disgustingly Resilient – all on a platform that is T7 and W8, and costs less than a Blight-Drone. Count me in.
Plagueburst Crawler: Short version? Get three of these. T8, W12, Daemonic and Disgustingly Resilient. Add Entropy Cannon, that are basically lascannon that are a smidgen weaker and shorter ranged, but have AP-4, and a Plagueburst Mortar that requires no line of sight, and still kicks out D6 attacks at S8, AP-2 and D3 damage. Either have this on the front line, or tuck it behind a building and when the inevitable deep strike comes, kick out twin Plaguespitters which operate at S8 on this beast.

Now, these new units are all very exciting but, funnily enough, I think what really makes the Death Guard sing as an army can be found in the last few pages of the book.

IMG_9556

Let’s start with the Warlord traits.

The very first trait might be an automatic choice for you (until you get to the others, at least), as it effectively gives your warlord 4+ Disgustingly Resilient, for anything other than mortal wounds. That alone will keep your man in the game for a little longer.

Living Plague dishes out mortal wounds within 3″ of your warlord, which is easy enough to dismiss, but there are lots of different ways of kicking out mortals in this army, and they all start to add up…

However, you might well have your head turned by Tainted Regeneration – your warlord heals a wound at the start of each player’s turn. That is two wounds per round. Given how tough Death Guard warlords are in the first place, this might well put them beyond the reach of many enemies.

That Tainted Regeneration is going to be tough to beat but, depending on who you normally fight, Hulking Physique on your Lord of Contagion, taking him up to T6 could be worth a serious look, as S3 attacks (lasguns, puny mortals, etc) will just bounce off him all day.

In a similar vein to the last two, Rotten Constitution reduces all Damage by 1 (to a minimum of 1) which can really cut some of the weapons wielded by loyalist Space Marine heroes down to size.

IMG_9557

The Warlord Traits are good – the Stratagems are even better, and really start to make the synergies within the Death Guard shine. Here are some highlights:

Cloud of Flies: Gives one infantry unit cover when they are in the open, for one measly Command Point. Think about that 20-man Plague Marine unit I suggested earlier, who are now pint-sized Terminators. Or, think about Terminators, who now bounce Krak Missiles on a 3+.
Grandfather’s Blessings: Heals an infantry model (or brings one back). This could have saved my Lord of Contagion more than once in the past…
Gifts of Decay: Gets your more relics – normally, I might skip this one, but the Death Guard relics are actually quite funky.
The Dead Walk Again: Every model (friend or foe) that dies within 7″ of Poxwalkers, becomes a Poxwalker. Not likely to win you the game, but very very funny.
Blight Bombardment: Your unit of 20 Plague Marines gets charged? How about every one of them lobbing a Blight Grenade in Overwatch? Did you keep your Biologus Purifier close by? I knew you would.
Veterans of the Long War: Add +1 to the wound rolls of one infantry unit. The damage that could do in the hands of Terminators (of either flavour) will give any Lord of Nurgle happy thoughts.

IMG_9558

I mentioned relics earlier, and yes, they are pretty top drawer as far as Nurgle is concerned.

Suppurating Plate: I predict that you will see this on a Daemon Prince in more than half of the Death Guard armies you fight. It gives him a 2+ save, and bounces close combat hits that the armour catches – add that to some of the sexier warlord traits (Tainted Regeneration, perhaps), and the Daemon Prince will just keep on going… and going…
Pandemic Staff: Adds +1 to psychic tests made for Smite. Sounds a bit poor, but the amount of times I have failed that roll (plus gives you a better chance of turbo-blasting the power).
Fugaris’ Helm: Increases auras by 3″. Doesn’t sound so much but in some cases you will be doubling their range…

For psykers, the Contagion discipline gets new powers and… you know what… I am a little less excited by these – but I also know why.

Miasma of Pestilence is just so good. Not too good, but so good. It sort of over shadows all the others.

That said, you get Blades of Putrefaction which adds +1 to wound rolls of any Death Guard unit, with the possibility of kicking out mortals too. With a charge value of 5, this will get attention.

Putrescent Vitality has potential too, as it boosts the Strength and Toughness of an infantry unit by 1 – however, this could be quite situational, given that the Death Guard tend to be tough and strong to begin with. There will not be too many times, for example, where it is beneficial for Plague Marines to be T6. However, if they are S5, they are suddenly whacking normal Marines on a 3+. You’ll need to match up power and unit against a specific enemy.

Curse of the Leper rolls 7 dice and every one that beats the Toughness of the nearest enemy unit causes a mortal. Not desperately exciting, but a good roll could cause a typical character all sorts of problems.

The biggest issue with these powers is that the first you will pick is Miasma, cutting down on the other choices. Put another way, it is a brave Death Guard lord who goes into battle without tooling up on Miasma…

 

Summary

All in all, this Codex is, I think, a Win for Nurgle and the Death Guard. It is very characterful and while it may not have any obvious ‘Death Stars’, the sheer resilience of the army makes it very forgiving, and there are endless ways to confound your enemy as you gradually wear him down.

On the flip side there are a lot of rules to remember for each unit (what kicks out a mortal wound, and under what circumstances, for example), and you will forget a bunch of them when you first start playing. However, as I said, the Death Guard are a forgiving force, so you won’t be losing battles just because you forgot rules X, Y, and Z.

Overall, I would grade this Codex as making the Death Guard born again hard, and I can’t wait to get them onto the battlefield again!

 

Greater Blight Drones of Nurgle

I actually polished these three models off yesterday, but I held off making this post until now, as I had a battle against James earlier today and intended to use them… and he keeps an eye on my Facebook page. He just loves it when I use the smaller Foetid Bloat-Drone (something to do with it almost wiping out his Tactical Squad with one shot the first time it appeared) and, obviously, him seeing these bigger versions before the actual battle would have ruined his voyage of discovery…

IMG_9431

Naturally, just adding one to the Death Guard would not have been sufficient, and would have lacked a certain… impact. So, I did three.

These guys are just a point more than the Bloat-Drone and while their main weapon is probably not quite as good, they are a little tougher and regenerate every round. Which will please James, I have absolutely no doubt.

IMG_9432

Painting-wise… despite being a Forge World model, they were a piece of cake, if anything even easier than the smaller plastic Bloat-Drone. Standard Death Guard green and metal all round, a diseased flesh underbody, then a bit of brass. Simples!

Now, while these three guys hitting the battlefield will look all kinds of impressive, I have seen this week that a new Bloat-Drone kit will be coming out. Assuming I pick up a couple of those (and why not, eh?), that is going to be a total of six drones of various stripes roaming the battlefield.

James’ delight will be absolute.

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…

IMG_9413

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.

IMG_9414

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.

IMG_9416

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…

IMG_9417

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.

IMG_9418

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.

IMG_9421

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.

IMG_9422

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.

IMG_9423

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.

IMG_9424

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!

IMG_9425

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.

IMG_9426

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.

IMG_9427

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…).

IMG_9429

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.

IMG_9430

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.

IMG_9410

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.

IMG_9411

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.

IMG_9412

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…

Coming Soon to Prospero

I was going to do a quick review of all the new goodies in the latest White Dwarf – but stuff that, you’ll see them for yourself on Saturday, and I don’t think it is really anything that you haven’t really seen before.

No, what we will do instead is have a look at the new Forge World miniatures that have just been previewed on Warhammer TV that are going to be destined for my Prospero forces!

ttg1

First up… Custodes Terminators – as Mr Cottrell himself said on Warhammer TV, they are bigger and golder than normal Termies!

ttg2

Forge World being what it is, they are going to force the more wallet-conscious to make a choice – Custodes Terminators can also have Firepikes (did I get that right?).

But the model I am really after…

ttg3

A Thousand Sons Praetor!

I was going to try to swing the Warhammer World exclusive Praetor for my Thousand Sons but sod that, the Space Woofs can have him – this one is going to be my new general!

Speaking of Space Woofs, they also had a quick leak for their Terminators..

What was that? You still want to know what is in White Dwarf? Well, the new Hellblasters, Intercessors, and Inceptors are arriving this month (I want the latter especially, tooled up with plasma!), and the Grey Knights and Chaos Space Marines have the odd Codex coming (typically, I have recently sold my Grey Knights, and I went Death Guard for Chaos, so the generalised Codex is less interesting right now – though I have had a hankering to do Kharn and his warband in the past…).

The Hobbit gets a blind troll and a large budgie, and the new Forge World Thunderhawk looks a bit tasty.

Oh, and apparently the XBox Blood Bowl 2 is going to be getting an update soon that adds a bunch more teams, including Amazons – now that I am interested.

But I think that is a decent enough round up of White Dwarf. I am now going back to gazing at that Thousand Sons Praetor…

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?