Friday, February 16, 2018

Khorne Campaigns: World Eaters vs More Eldar!

After the last encounter with the eldar one of my main conclusions was that I needed more firepower. I considered havocs and predators and all the usual sources but I wanted to try something different - so I basically upgraded the rhinos to land raiders.

++ Battalion Detachment +3CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [47 PL, 848pts] ++

+ Flyer [10 PL, 185pts] +

Heldrake [10 PL, 185pts]: Baleflamer [30pts], Heldrake claws [17pts], Mark of Khorne

+ No Force Org Slot +

Legion: World Eaters

+ HQ [10 PL, 165pts] +

Dark Apostle [5 PL, 83pts]: Mark of Khorne, Plasma pistol [7pts], Power maul [4pts], The Black Mace

Exalted Champion [5 PL, 82pts]: Brass Collar of Borghaster, Mark of Khorne, Plasma pistol [7pts], Power axe [5pts]

+ Troops [27 PL, 498pts] +

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 166pts]
. Berzerker Champion [35pts]: Plasma pistol [7pts], Power fist [12pts]
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe [85pts]: 5x Chainaxe [5pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 166pts]
. Berzerker Champion [35pts]: Plasma pistol [7pts], Power fist [12pts]
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe [85pts]: 5x Chainaxe [5pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 166pts]
. Berzerker Champion [35pts]: Plasma pistol [7pts], Power fist [12pts]
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe [85pts]: 5x Chainaxe [5pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]
. Chainsword and plasma pistol [23pts]: Chainsword, Plasma pistol [7pts]

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [62 PL, 1152pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Legion: World Eaters

+ Heavy Support [57 PL, 1074pts] +

Chaos Land Raider [19 PL, 358pts]: Combi-bolter [2pts], Mark of Khorne, Twin heavy bolter [17pts], 2x Twin lascannon [100pts]

Chaos Land Raider [19 PL, 358pts]: Combi-bolter [2pts], Mark of Khorne, Twin heavy bolter [17pts], 2x Twin lascannon [100pts]

Chaos Land Raider [19 PL, 358pts]: Combi-bolter [2pts], Mark of Khorne, Twin heavy bolter [17pts], 2x Twin lascannon [100pts]

+ HQ [5 PL, 78pts] +

Warpsmith [5 PL, 78pts]: Combi-bolter [2pts], Flamer [9pts], Mark of Khorne, Meltagun [17pts], Power axe [5pts]

++ Total: [109 PL, 2000pts] ++

So - no juggerlord, no daemon prince, no helbrutes but I do have firepower! I kept the Heldrake around for a second chance too.

Blaster took his usual force which you can see here and we played the same mission as well - "Dominate and Destroy" - involving objective-holding and kill points.

I started with 4 things on the table - 3 land raiders and a heldrake ... if only we were still using that fewest-drops-equals-first-turn rule. I still won first turn. My big tanks rolled up the table and started blasting away, while the heldrake did his usual thing too ...

... and you can see how it goes. He flies up, flame-breaths a guardian unit, then charges it, and the few survivors end up fleeing due to morale - awesome! Except that now he's in range of every gun in the eldar army and he's going to pay.

On the Eldar turn they kill the Heldrake, put some hurt on the big tanks, and drop these guys in behind me. The other thing I was concerned about from my last battle was the lack of objective holders. I knew I was doubling-down on offense with this army list, but it really hurt me here.

This shot above is actually from Turn 2 where I have managed to tear up the wraithguard and some of his other troops but it's not going to be enough.

By turn 3 two of the land raiders are gone, the berzerkers are exposed and my chances of winning are just about gone. Over on that left side I did manage to kill his wraithlord but he had killed enough zerks that it was going to be tough to get through his guardians and his jetbikes and the farseer and the spiritseer that were all sitting on that objective.

Then on turn 4 his Fire Prism and brightlance-armed Wave Serpent and his Dark Reapers managed to kill the third Land Raider and I conceded. The first 2 squads were mostly gone and there was nothing in charge range of the intact but now on foot 3rd squad. I was going to spend Turn 5 eating scatter laser and bright lace fire and there was no need to go through that exercise again.

So why are we failing here?

  • The board configuration is the toughest one for an assault army fighting a shooting army as the traditional setup has a 12" backfield while this one has 24". That means it takes me an extra turn to get to him (at least). That's a killer. With the Land Raider moving 10" instead of the Rhino's 12" I'm trading some speed for firepower and this setup only makes it worse. Advancing means I'm giving up 12 lascannon shots and 18 heavy bolter shots so that doesn't seem like a good idea. 
  • Only 4 maneuver units for probably half the game means I have limited board control. I can't hold objectives until the marines jump out and even that assumes the tanks are still in some kind of fighting shape. Even if things are dying a squad of cultists could have been racking up points in the backfield in those first couple of turns. 
  • The Heldrake is 185 points of one-turn-glory and then it dies, and I don't think it's soaking up enough firepower to really help my tanks (or my Rhinos) survive. The board wasn't helping here either as even with a 30" flying move, an 18" breath weapon, and a 2d6 charge range, there was really only one unit he could get to on Turn 1. If he could hit a Dark Reaper squad he would make a much bigger difference, but on this type of board I think a helbrute would have contributed more.
  • Tactics - I spread out across the whole board and I probably should have concentrated on one side to cut down on the number of units that could shoot at me. Eldar heavy weapons all have a 36" range or more but it might have cut out some of the shuriken weapons and their annoying bladestorm effect at least. 
  • Lack of speed is a problem, aside from everything else. What if I had dropped in a terminator squad somewhere near the Heldrake? Maybe some Obliterators? I need to create some threats on his end of the board, more than just a single unit.

So while I like the Land Raiders taking 3 of them leaves me no real flexibility. One or two of them might work and would free up enough points to add in some deep strikers and some other fire support. 

Logically it would make more sense to take the fire support elements from my Iron Warriors. they're better at shooting, already painted, and this would also open up the option of some psyker support too. There are quite a few places where Warptime would make this army better.

My other inclination is to go Maximum Khorne and get a Lord of Skulls. He's big, he has big guns, and he leaves room for some other things - like juggerlords - as well. 

We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The New Game for 2018

More than a year back I ran through all of the miniature games I was looking into and trying to find time to play. Well, a lot of those candidates fizzled out given our limited time and my reluctance to dive too deeply in unless at least one of the Apprentices was excited about it. As far as that 2016 list goes:

  • Bolt Action - they went to a second edition and my interest cooled because it seemed like everything else was going to new editions too and there's only so much money to spend. I really should have a decent set of WW2 miniatures by now given my interests but it just hasn't happened. Maybe next year.
  • Dropzone Commander - it seemed like a great replacement for Epic but the Apprentices were not super excited and then the creators seemed to get really caught up in their Dropship Commander Kickstarter and development and now they've sold their company off to another company ... call me when you get around to releasing second edition.
  • Frostgrave - we've played a few games of this and we like it so it will likely get played a few times this year too. It's an easy game to have "on the list" without buying a bunch of expensive books and huge armies. 
  • Flames of War - looked at the new edition, decided to skip it since their own fans seem to hate it. 
  • Kings of War - we liked it, played it quite a bit for a while, then once 40K 8th edition came out it's been gathering dust. I think we may be giving it another try soon though.
  • X-Wing - I bought the kids (and myself) a bunch of ships for Xmas 2016 and ... no one wanted to play it. As teenagers I know my friends and I would have killed for a game like this but for whatever reason it's just not anything they really care about. I haven't bought a ship for it since, nor have we played it in more than a year now. 
The latecomer: Armada. I talked about it here and while we haven't played it a ton it's the one Star Wars game that Blaster at least is interested in playing again. I picked up some more ships for it not too long ago and we're trying to find a place to give it the first run of this year.

Lately thought I was feeling a lack of fantasy gaming and I kept hearing good things about Shadespire. 

It's a skirmish sized game where you have a band of 3-5 characters from a particular force that fight it out on a tactical map. The characters are pre-set per band, but you have cards that let you customize everything from gear to objectives. It can be anywhere from 1 on 1 to a 4-way free for all and sounded fairly interesting as it plays really fast too - less than an hour is what I keep hearing. 

The base game comes with Sigmarites (the gold armored posterboys of Age of Sigmar) vs Khorne Blood-somethings - basically barbarians or chaos marauders. There are expansion sets now for orcs and undead. Sounds cool, and you can pick up the whole thing for about $100. 

Then I started looking around. I had picked up the General's Handbook for AoS a while back and was really impressed with what it did for that game. Maybe fantasy is the right answer, but not in the limited-and-somewhat-close-to-an-RPG form that is Shadespire.

I can get the starter set for Age of Sigmar, the big original one, for about the same amount. It has a good chunk of two fantasy armies in it. I'm a lot more friendly to the rules now after playing 40K 8th. Finally, I am busily building up my daemon armies for 40K and they are completely usable in AoS with no changes at all! With our leftover High Elf, Greenskin, and Chaos Warrior armies from Warhammer and Kings of War, plus my daemon forces, plus Apprentice Red's Wood Elves, plus what comes in the box, we could have 6-7-8 armies right now using a similar set of rules to 40K and using terrain we already have! 

So, Shadespire is sitting down for now and somewhat to my surprise we are moving into Age of Sigmar in a big way. I don't expect it to replace 40K but I expect it to jump to the #2 spot pretty quickly.

I know we only have a limited amount of time to play these thigns. I also would rather spend a big chunk of the budget diving deeply into one good game than spending a little on half a dozen games we play once or never play at all, so I try to pick one main game to dive into for the year - especially when it comes to miniatures. This year it's AoS. 

More to come, for sure.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

40K Catchup for February

Somewhere along the way 2018 has turned into the year of the new army.

I spent 2016 focused on my Eldar and getting them shaped into a decent, usable force and I was happy with the result.

It seemed like a good approach so I spent 2017 building up my Chaos armies, mainly my Iron Warriors, and I was pretty happy with the results there too even if I was a little less focused than before.

For 2018 I was thinking I would focus on my two "angel marine" armies, the Blood Angels and Dark Angels, especially since they both received a codex in December. Somehow, that has not happened.

For one, I just can't seem to shake the interest in the Chaos armies. I got distracted with World Eaters over the holidays. I played a series of battles with them and got sucked into trying to refine my force into something really nasty. I'm a little better now but I am still spending time on them each week refiguring the force. More on them Friday!

Chaos-wise I also checked back into my Death Guard army which had kind of been shelved for a while now. I took a fresh look at them, realized how much I had for them, put together some new army lists for them and started figuring out how I want to make them different than my other chaos marine forces. I haven't gone on a big acquisitions or painting binge for them just yet but it's close.

I still have Iron Warriors work to do but that's just production stuff at this point - I know what I want them to do, I just need to get them painted.

The first big new army thing that popped up was Chaos Daemons. I had been putting together demon forces all last year when I saw opportunities, but I had not really tried to play them with the index. I had a collection of stuff for each of the four powers but I had decided not to dig in too far until the codex was released. Well it was released in January and I really like what I see. I'm starting with my Khorne nasties and a side order of Nurgle and I'm sure the others will inevitably follow since I am clearly not good at limiting myself in this area. They will probably get their first run against one of the other new armies we've developed. Imperial Guard!

We've been toying with a guard army since 6th edition - Blaster and I - and it looks like this is finally the year we get it together, painted, and on the table. It's possible to do an all-tank army with guard (including HQs!) and that's our goal. We will mix in a few infantry squads here and there just because it's smart to get those Command Points, and psyker power is always nice to have too, but the focus is on tanks tanks tanks. We have around 10-12 right now and I'd like to run that up to around 15-16 plus a super heavy. Because we can. This is a "shared" army that I figure we will take turns playing as the mood strikes us.

Blaster has also been struck by the need for a new army of his own. He's very happy with his Eldar force (and he should be, grumble grumble) but with his Space Wolves still lacking a codex he's feeling a lack of power armor, especially with all the shiny new stuff out there. So he's building a Primaris army. An Ultramarines Primaris army.

He has a pretty good force of them already - beware your kids getting jobs, all of a sudden they don't need you as a gatekeeper on their toy soldiers - and he's ready to use them before he paints them. So, it looks like I'll be fighting Guilleman pretty soon. I'll let y'all know how that goes.

The final new army for me for now is a somewhat unexpected one - Grey Knights. I've known about them since the Rogue Trader metal mini's, but never picked any of those up. When their 5th edition book came out and they got all new plastic miniatures I thought they looked really really good but for whatever reason I did not feel like I needed to own or play them. With the coming of 8th edition I decided to pick up all of the codexes as they were released to keep up with the entire game and not just the armies I do play. So one day I sat down to read the Grey Knights book and the fluff totally grabbed me. It's really good! I mean really really good! And I say that as someone who has read a lot of 40K stuff over the years and isn't always impressed with it.

So I figured "well it's an elite army - I could pick up a few boxes and paint them all myself."

That's not happening.

For whatever reason, the GK's are pretty easily found in a decently painted form all over the place. They also have a pretty standard paint scheme of shiny silver with accents of white and red. So ... when a decently painted unit is available for the same or less (or quite a bit less) than an unbuilt and unpainted box of the same unit ... well it's an easy choice. One factor may be that since they are not perceived as a top competitive tournament army people are letting them go a little easier but I'm not planning to take them to a tournament so it works for me regardless. In fact this may be the first army I field that is entirely unpainted by me,other than some touch-ups here and there. I'll probably end up fighting orks or eldar or primaris marines since I'm the main chaos player here but I am looking forward to it regardless.

I'm also going to use these shiny Paladins of the 40K universe to try and drag in Paladin Steve and his kiddo to join in some of our games. Now if I can just get him to read the fluff ...

The immediate future with the newest codexes:

  • Custodes are out but I'm not jumping onto them - at least not until I finish my Grey Knight buildup!
  • Thousand Sons are cool but I don't think I need another Chaos Marine chapter right now. 
  • Necrons are coming - Red will be pleased!
  • Tau are coming - an army none of us have but one of Blaster's friends plays them. We'll see how that goes.
  • Dark Eldar are coming too. I have a force, I've played it a few times. Who knows, I might be ready to dive into them by the time the book arrives. Or I may still be painting Daemons.

That's about it for now. World Eater talk on Friday!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Four Years of Kingmaker

This month marks the 4-year anniversary of my friend Paladin Steve's Pathfinder game using the Kingmaker AP. The plan was to play once a month and yesterday was Session 39 so we haven't missed too many sessions over that time. I don't post much about it here - since I'm not running it I feel like it's not my story to tell, but since it is the only campaign where I am a player I will share some thoughts.

First, it's the only Pathfinder thing I am doing right now and has been for about a year. With a month between sessions and the occasional missed session the rules do get rusty. In an attempt to help with this I bought the "Pathfinder Rules Reference Flash Cards" and keep them in the bag I take to the game.

These are pretty solid and each one covers a specific topic. I'm playing a cavalier so it's handy to have the "Mounted Combat" rules in front of me, occasionally the Bull Rush or Grappling rules come up too, the Dying condition, etc. One of the issues is "Edition Bleed" - we've migrated from 3.0 to 3.5 to 4E to 5E all over the last decade so sometimes a situation comes up and the default tends to be what was last encountered in play rather than what did we read about it in this particular rulebook. It happens in 40K too, so it's not unique to D&D type RPGs. As an example just yesterday we had one player insisting that constructs were immune to critical hits. I was pretty sure that was not the case in Pathfinder and that he was remembering 3E D&D so we had to make some knowledge checks and eventually look it up. I assume stuff like this would be much less frequent if we played the game more often but then again, the player who brought this up plays in another PF game and even cited that in the discussion and yet he was still confused - so who knows?

Character-wise I'm playing a Human (Taldoran) Cavalier and we're up to 8th level. Progress is slower when you only go once a month but we don't really mind because there's some re-learning of the character when we sit down to play after a month gap anyway! I have a warhorse that is similar to a druid's animal companion in some ways so he gets better as we get better too. If nothing else this means I don't have to go find a new horse every time we get fireballed which is nice. He has his own character sheet and all that so I can pull off some fun horse tricks when needed.

If I'm being honest here the cavalier is a fairly limited class mechanically. You don't get a bunch of unique things to do - the companion horse thing is about it - you mainly get some numerical bonuses when on horseback. So I hit harder on horseback and can move around more when I charge something, but it's mostly a Bigger Numbers thing, not a Cool Things You Can Do kind of class. Then of course when I'm not on the horse the numbers go down a little and I'm pretty much a fighter with fewer feats.  I'm usually OK with this as when I am on the horse and I get a chance to charge and I have a lance and I do hit my target I am the nuclear missile of the campaign doing ridiculous amounts of damage and annihilating all but the toughest targets. Honestly a lot of Pathfinder classes are like this so it's just part of the deal.

Kingmaker is a great place to play a cavalier - lots of cross-country travel and outdoor encounters mean I am on horseback quite a bit. There are some dungeons though and the dismounted cavalier is a competent if slightly less explodey combatant.

As far as the campaign goes I'd say it's a unique experience - even at low levels there's a strategic part of the game where the party is building a kingdom and while it can get a little tedious to work through that sub-system at times it is a thing you do not see in low-level games at all, really, even in the old days. We've had some mass combat too, a system I was already familiar with from my Wrath of the Righteous game. I still like it as it's not all that complex but still feels different than normal combat and at least puts some kind of playable system around it instead of just hand-waving the larger conflict around the PC's. I won't say it's perfect but they're completely playable and both of these sub-systems make you think about the campaign in a different way than just bashing monsters for the greater good.

The traditional part of the campaign is excellent too so far. It's not just "hey there's a ruined keep over there" but it's all built around hexcrawling and exploration. The players choose where they're going and then deal with what they find as they find it. We've found traditional enemies, allies, wandering NPC's, recurring opponents, native populations ranging from kobolds to various faeries, and interesting terrain features too. We've made deals, signed treaties, avenged wrongs, and hung bandits. The fact that you're not working for the local government, you ARE the local government, puts a very different feel on these things.

Overall I'd say it's a great campaign. It is literally a sandbox campaign so you can do what you want with it as both DM and players. There are different things you can emphasize in different amounts as a DM to make it better fit your party. Players will inevitably show more interest in some elements than in others.  Steve works hard to make sure the NPC's are memorable and have their own agendas to a degree and he does a great job. He's also worked in some other Paizo adventures that fit the campaign. I am not seeing the seams so I'd say he's doing a good job there too. I think we're somewhere in the 3rd book out of the six, maybe the 4th, and I don't care because we're not on some heavily plotted timeline - we're building a kingdom, making allies, planning for the future, and dealing with various threats as they arise. Sounds exactly like what I was hoping for when we started this campaign.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Out of Office

LB here - I will be out of office for the next week. Lady Blacksteel and I are headed south to adventure ...

Friday, January 19, 2018

40K Friday: Building the World Eaters

Last year I had been building up and playing with my Iron Warriors and I realized that while I had some khorne berzerkers I really didn't want to make them a focus of my IW army. It was the "tank" army and also my "one of everything" army for chaos marines and so while I might add a squad or two I really wanted to make a separate force to focus on them. Besides, it's not like I can;t ally the two together.  That's how I came to build my second (after the Iron Warriors), er, third (after my Death Guard) chaos marine army.

I knew I wanted the core of the whole thing to be 3 squads of berzerkers, in rhinos, led by a Dark Apostle (for re-rolls to hit) and an Exalted Champion (for re-rolls to wound). I already knew I was going to go whole-hog and make them World Eaters and with zerks becoming troop choices for the WE's in the Codex it made for a nice little Battalion and came out to 900- 1000 points depending on how I load them out. So, about half of a normal army.

For the berzerker squads I made them identical: 8 guys (Khorne's sacred number), 5 with chainsword and chain axe, two with chainsword and plasma pistol, and the champion with powerfist and plasma pistol. I know some people prefer full melee and skipping the 21 points of plasma I have here but I just find it to be useful enough that I want that capability in my squads. It's not like they're going to be up close! Three plasma shots can often inflict a wound or two on the way in and that can really help against tougher targets. Does it matter against a dire avenger squad? No. But against the wave serpent that brought them to the fight, it's a nice boost.

The HQ's are mainly there to buff the squads and yes I do try to keep at least two squads within the buff radius when they debark, all three if possible. It ramps up the carnage to an unbelievable level when it all comes together like that. They also can contribute nicely themselves when I give them plasma pistols too, and/or as relic caddies - the Apostle gets the Black Mace pretty much every time and the Exalted Champ gets the Axe of Blind Fury sometimes, the Brass Collar other times.

So what about the other half of the army? I want to add either extreme speed, as in "causing hurt on turn 1" or I need some good long range firepower. Like lascannons.

Well, I like Helbrutes so I've been working those in, usually accompanied by a Khorne Lord on a Juggernaut. They all move 8 so they make a nice block of hurt moving up faster than normal infantry though slower than the rhinos. It hasn't worked out as well as I have hoped though I think some of that is on how I have used them more than the units themselves. It can be tricky to fit 3 rhinos into a small space so sometimes the third rhino is away from the other two. I think working this up as a group with the brutes and the juggerlord has a lot of potential so I need to try it out. Beyond that I will always try to find a way to fit in a helbrute or two in any chaos marine force.

On the Juggerlord - Juggernauts are just cool. I have always liked them but have never had a 40K era army that could use them outside of Epic - until now! I like the old metal ones. I like the newer plastic conversions people do. I really hope GW comes out wit ha new one at some point so they don't get squatted in the next edition - but that's a worry for another day!

I took two of them in my fight against the necrons and they did really well but it was almost overkill as they are redundant with the Apostle once the fighting starts (re-roll everything vs. re-roll ones) so from one point of view one is probably enough. They add neither speed nor firepower so they're really an extra helping of Turn 2-3 melee like the zerks themselves.

From another point of view though, 3 of them would fit nicely in a supreme command detachment and would give each rhino and squad a solid "buddy" to accompany them. I haven't done this yet but don't think I won't be considering it in the next fight or two. The biggest problem here is that there is only one Axe of Blind Fury! So the other two have to settle for power axes and get all sullen about it.

I tried a defiler and had mixed feelings about the whole thing. he makes for a nice big centerpiece model but is hurt by the split firepower/melee capabilities. What's fun on a 120-150 point Helbrute - a big fit and a big gun - becomes annoying to demoralizing on a 180-200 point crab scorpion monster. I'm trying to look at it as he adds some decent ranged firepower while still being a true melee monster like the rest of the army - I'm just not sure it's decent enough for the 177 points he cost me in the last battle.  Of course, here again the answer might be "take two or three instead of just one" but that's going to get expensive fast. I have to say though that the idea of sending one downfield alongside each rhino does have an impact. I'll have to see if I can work out the points.

Ah the Heldrake, hated scourge of early 6th Edition, almost forgotten chaos flyer of 8th. I wanted something that could get across the field fast and hurt some things - something that would present enough of a threat that it would divert some firepower away from my rhino's on turn 1 and maybe turn 2.

So I took one.

He did a few wounds and then died in my opponent's first shooting phase.

I took one in the next battle. he did manage to eliminate an entire squad this time, then he died in the opponent's first shooting phase. Again.

They are really cool - the model is amazing, and no other army has anything like them. I want to use mine but the obvious strategy is to zoom upfield, roast something, then execute a turn one charge and hurt something up close. he soaks up firepower for sure, but since he's right up on the enemy force a lot of it is short-ranged firepower that wouldn't be coming at my rhinos anyway. He's soaking a bright lance or two but he's also soaking a whole bunch of wraithweaver and shuriken fire.   I'm just not sure a single drake is an effective use of points. Once again I am thinking that either zero or two of them may be more effective than one.  Another thing to try out next fight.

 Things on the list that I haven't tried yet but am thinking about:

  • Obliterators: deep strike, fairly tough, lots of shooting - really need to try them out but at 195 points, well, ouch!
  • Terminators: I bought a box of chaos terminators for the army with what I thought was a good plan but ... they are still in the box as it doesn't seem so good now. Deep strike is a powerful thing but if it's mainly to shoot stuff I think the obliterators may do it better and without a psyker to cast Warptime on them (Khorne!) a 9" charge is pretty iffy, even with the Icon of Wrath added in for a re-roll. Still haven't given up but they will probably come in after the obliterator test. 
  • Cultists - no. I can take berzerkers as troops! This is a non-cultist army!
  • Bikers - maybe someday but not right now. Faster, yes, some firepoer yes but not really threatening enough to draw fire from the rhinos and not long ranged enough to really hurt something
  • Raptors - probably not. Not enough melee ability and not really enough firepower either though the deep strike option is nice. 
  • Warp Talons - yes, these will be getting a test. Melee only but can deep strike and can remove overwatch and are not too expensive - lots of potential here for a squad. 
  • Havocs - I actually did take missile havocs in one fight and I have to say it does feel nice to have a solid long ranged blasting unit in the backfield. It's not super-thematic but it's about as much as a Helbrute and can hurt things from Turn 1 while holding an objective. They may make a return at some point. 
So there's some thinking behind the army. Blaster and I are actually in the middle of another fight so I'll have an update on that next week!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

40K 8th: The Aweosmeness of Chaos Space Marine Helbrutes

I've liked dreadnoughts since they first showed up in Rogue Trader. Those early marine, ork, eldar, and chaos dreads were remarkably inspirational and I have ended up with quite a few of them over the years. Their effectiveness waxes and wanes over the editions and with different codexes, but they always manage to at least look cool.

Today I want to  discuss helbrutes, the current designation for chaos marine dreadnoughts. First up: they still look cool!

OK the original single-pose model from the 6th Edition boxed set can get a little old when you see it over and over but the full kit that was released later has a lot of flexibility.

I see posts online stating that you should either take the all-melee brute (usually fist + scourge) or the all-shooting brute (usually lascannons or plasma cannon + missile launcher) because those are the most optimized for their points. Sure. They're also missing the point: It's cool to have a tank that can punch things - hard.

Let's look at a helbrute compared to an all-LC predator, for example:


  • 140 points with the twin lascannon turret, + 50 more for the two side lascannons = 180
  • it's Toughness 7, has 11 wounds, and a 3+ armor save
  • In melee it has 3 attacks (to start) at Strength 6, no AP, Damage 1, hitting on 6's
  • Move is 12


  • 122 points with a twin lascannon arm, +40 for the fist = 162
  • It's Toughness 7, 8 wounds, and has a 3+ armor save
  • In melee it has 4 attacks at Strength 12, AP -3, Damage 3, hitting on 3's
  • Move is 8
So for 18 points less you lose speed , 3 wounds, and two lascannons - that's not inconsiderable. However you gain no degradation, chapter tactics, and a very effective melee capability.  You could put a heavy flamer on the fist which makes the points almost equivalent and adds a fairly decent short-ranged attack but is totally not the same as two lascannons.

In a vacuum, say a one on one gunfight starting at least 24" apart, the Predator should win - it has twice as many guns and doesn't have to move to be effective and so is not taking a -1 to hit every turn for moving with a heavy weapon that the Helbrute will be taking.

But we don't fight in a vacuum. All it takes is one model charging that Predator and it doesn't get to shoot for a turn. It has to back out of the fight in hopes of getting to shoot next turn. if the opponent keeps charging it with something, it will keep not getting to shoot. There are enough deep striking re-roll or roll an extra die shenanigans in the game now that this is a reasonable possibility in almost every game. This is even more true if you take the somewhat popular 3-predator option to use the killshot stratagem as you're an even bigger target to a savvy enemy. 

If one enemy model decides to charge the Helbrute, in contrast, he's going to get a Str 12 punch ... well first he's going to get auto-flamed if you took that option and then he's going to get 4 hard punches.  there is also the chance the Helbrute gets to charge in first, something you would never do with the Predator. 

You could go with a more comparable missile arm Helbrute which evens up the gunfight a bit (2 lascannon shots and a krak missile shot and no longer needing to move every turn vs. the 4 lascannon shots and not moving either of the predator) and reduces the brute's point cost down to 147 and is still way more effective in melee than the tank will ever be. 

Let's also not overlook the inclusion of Helbrutes in the Legion benefits as well: Iron Warrior brutes get to ignore cover! Predators do not! World Eater brutes get an extra attack on the charge! Renegade Legions can advance and charge in the same turn! Alpha Legion brutes are -1 to be hit at more than 12" away.

 While it's true that Predator trios get the killshot stratagem Helbrutes get "Fire Frenzy" which for 1 CP lets a brute fire twice - admittedly at the nearest target but still a nice option to have. 

There is of course the option for the double-melee Helbrute. With two combi-bolters this option only runs 126 points and can just run right up the table. He gets an extra attack from the second fist, or three extra from a scourge, so he's even nastier up close. Make him a World Eaters brute and you're looking at 9 swings on the charge - ouch! For about the price of two lascannon Predators you could take 3 of these guys - I won't say they're more effective in general but if the rest of your army can handle the ranged anti-tank, this could be a really fun option. 

If you want a more practical use for these guys than an across the board charge I would say "backfield defense". They are a lot tougher than a 5-man marine squad or a 10-man cultist squad, they can carry a decent gun, and they are notably charge-resistant to most things that can deep strike. If some Eldar yahoo wants to turbo-boost his wave serpent over into your deployment zone you can blast him and then go bash his hood in to finish him off! With an 8" move followed by a 2d6 charge you can actively defend a fairly large area. 

For me, well, I like to group up 2 or 3 of them with a Juggerlord or a Daemon Prince and go after something.   

Anyway they're fun! They're flexible! Check them out!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Khorne Campaigns: World Eaters vs. Saim-Hann Eldar

After one game with the angry red marines I was feeling pretty good about the army but the second battalion with minimal CSM squads and cultists just felt kind of boring. So I reorganized for more fun stuff and took on Blaster's Eldar Flying Circus:

++ Battalion Detachment +3CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [59 PL, 1086pts] ++

+ Flyer +

Heldrake [10 PL, 185pts]: Baleflamer, Heldrake claws, Mark of Khorne

Legion: World Eaters

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 74pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-bolter, Mark of Khorne

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 74pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-bolter, Mark of Khorne

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 74pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-bolter, Mark of Khorne

+ HQ +

Dark Apostle [5 PL, 76pts]: Bolt pistol, Mark of Khorne, Power maul, The Black Mace

Exalted Champion [5 PL, 75pts]: Bolt pistol, Mark of Khorne, Power axe

+ Troops +

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [48 PL, 914pts] ++

Legion: World Eaters

+ Heavy Support +

Defiler [11 PL, 189pts]: Mark of Khorne, Reaper autocannon, Twin heavy flamer

+ HQ +

Chaos Lord on Juggernaut of Khorne [7 PL, 147pts]: Axe of Blind Fury, Bladed horn on Juggernaut of Khorne, Plasma pistol, Power axe

Daemon Prince with Wings [9 PL, 180pts]: Daemonic axe, Khorne

+ Elites +

Helbrute [7 PL, 142pts]: Helbrute fist, Helbrute plasma cannon, Mark of Khorne

Helbrute [7 PL, 126pts]: Mark of Khorne
. Helbrute fist: Combi-bolter
. Helbrute fist: Combi-bolter

Helbrute [7 PL, 130pts]: Mark of Khorne, Power scourge, Reaper autocannon

++ Total: [107 PL, 2000pts] ++

The core is the same but I wanted something to get in the enemy's face Turn 1 to distract them from the Rhinos - so I brought in a Heldrake. The Helbrutes and Defiler all have the same movement rate as the Juggerlord so I thought that would make a fun battlegroup to send up the board as a compliment to the zerks.

Blaster's List was:

  • The usual two squads of scatterbikes + jetbike farseer + jetbike warlock 
  • 3 squads of guardians + a bright lance platform for each
  • A wave serpent full of wraithguard
  • A squad of dark reapers
  • A wraithlord
  • A squad of warp spiders
  • A squad of swooping hawks
  • A fire prism

We tried out the new Chapter Approved mission "Dominate and Destroy" - I really like it on paper. 
  • Place six objectives. At the end of each players turn control of each objective is worth 1 VP
  • Kill points: 1 VP for each enemy unit destroyed 
  • Also: Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker, First Blood
Right there you cover all the basic elements of various 40K missions without weirdly specific rules or fiddling with cards. That said, my army was not really built with a mission like this in mind.

 He got to pick deployment type and deployment zone but I managed to win first turn. Objectives were one in each woods, one in that square of ruins near the top of the picture, and one by the fallen stompa. 

My army is on the left, his is on the right.

World Eaters Turn 1

Now my army's basic operating principle is "Rush forward". Specifically the rhinos move + advance + pop smoke and prepare to unload and charge on Turn Two, The Heldrake is there to make a turn 1 charge, and I always envisioned the helbrutes and defiler charging up with the Juggerlord and the daemon prince helping out as needed. I quickly realized this was going to be bad as that meant I had nothing to hold objectives. With one in my backfield and three in the midfield I had no great unit to sit on them. 

Wishing I had decided to go with the 11 point 48" range havoc launcher instead of the 34 point 8" range twin heavy flamer I decided to keep the defiler back on my home objective. The battle canon and reaper cannon had the range to hurt things and he as nasty enough up close any deep-striking eldar would be in for a lot of pain.  The daemon prince stayed back too just in case I needed to deal with two threats - Blaster had a warp spider squad and a swooping hawk squad in reserve so this was a possibility. I burned 3 CP's on the defiler's shooting and did about 3 wounds to the fire prism. Underwhelmed.

The heldrake shot forward, flamed the jetbike squad, then charged into the guardians and the wave serpent - which was his real target. This is where his limitations became apparent. He's plenty tough, especially for a flying type thing, and while 4 attacks is pretty good, he's only WS 4+. That means only 2 of those are going to hit and considering he's unlikely to have character re-roll support that's not really super-impressive. He does get a +1 to hit flyers and considering how many of those the Eldar have it is a nice benefit but is it enough? The jury is still out.

The biggest issues I found as I wrapped up turn 1 was that a) while I was on 4 objectives I wasn't sure how I was going to hold them and b) I hadn't killed anything. Losing the long range tac squads and the missile havoc squad meant I had very little long range shooting.

Eldar Turn 1
  • Everything close to it opened up on the heldrake and obliterated it. This is going to make further evaluation of his offensive capabilities very difficult.
  • The fire prism and one guardian bright lance detonated the plasma helbrute - literally, as he exploded and did mortal wounds to the autocannon helbrute and 3 more to the juggerlord.
  • He managed to kill one rhino too but I only lost one marine on the bailout.
  • Lesosn 1 - Dark Reapers and their always-hit-on-3's do not care about your smoke launchers
  • Lesson 2 - Unchecked Eldar psychic phases are unpleasant for the opponent
He charged in his wraithlord and it killed a couple of zerks - then they struck back and killed it, though it did take both of their attacks to do it. The champ with the powerfist did most of the work here but it was a team effort. 

At the end of turn 1 his 2 objectives + kill points had him ahead of me.

World Eaters Turn 2

  • Most of the army advanced because I was just not close enough to charge.
  • I kept the autocannon brute back somewhat so he stayed in front of the juggerlord as I tried to squeeze out some more objective VPs.
  • The puncher-brute was not close enough for a charge so he advanced
  • The defiler didn't do much
  • I reached for a Turn 2 charge with one berzerker squad and it failed. 
  • The second squad got out and prepped for a counter-charge next turn
  • The third squad stayed in their rhinos as I decided to sit on another objective as nothing was even close to in-range. 
So turn 2 I accomplished very little even though I did get 4 more VP's from objectives. My rhinos were being used to hold objectives instead of charging in and absorbing overwatch. I just was not killing anything and I knew that was going to be a problem on his turn as I was in range of pretty much his entire army now. Blaster made the unusual for him play of not moving up with any of his units other than the wave serpent and it left me hanging out in no-man's land waiting to get blasted by the full firepower of the Eldar. 

Eldar Turn 2
It was a massacre.
  • He blew up the puncher-brute
  • He gunned down the damaged zerker squad and the dark apostle
  • He blew up another rhino and then killed the squad inside - scytheguard are nasty
So I conceded once that second squad died. I had a damaged helbrute and a half-dead juggerlord at one end, One full zerker squad and one almost-dead rhino at the other, and one daemon prince and one defiler in my backfield. Nothing was working and the only thing the zerks were in a position to charge on the next turn was the d-scythe wraithguard which was a suicide run. 

So what went wrong? Part of it was the army design, part of it was the mission. 

  •  I still like the core but even berzerkers need fire support. A BS 4+ defiler is not sufficient fire support. I have a unit of rogue trader missile havocs that was originally headed for my Death Guard army. Since the DG no longer get havocs they will probably convert to Khorne. 
  • I like the defiler even though it has a split personality being sort of OK at shooting and OK at fighting. I think it's going to have more impact up close so he and the Juggerlord may become better battle brothers.
  • I like Helbrutes but I think 3 is probably too many. More on them in another post. 
  • The Heldrake sort of performed like I had hoped though I had hoped he might survive to Turn 2. I am wondering if using two might make a big difference, especially in keeping fire off of my rhinos and helping one or both of them live to see a second turn. The problem with running them up on a gunline is that the long ranged guns can still shoot my rhinos because he had a thousand 12" range shuriken catapult shots to pour into them. Have to think about this one. 
  • Juggerlord vs. Daemon Prince - I like both and I think both have a role even if I did not use them very effectively this battle. Just for enemy target priority obfuscation it might make more sense to take two of one instead of one of each. Again, need to think on it more/
  • We mostly play Maelstrom missions here. Objectives are a thing with those missions, but there are a bunch of other things in there too and it's fairly rare that you will be asked to spend multiple turns sitting on an objective. This army is fairly mobile, but it's not really meant to sit in one place for long. 
  • Kill points are a little rough here. Sending an assault army into the teeth of a gunline is pretty much guaranteed to put you behind on kill points fast. Ideally you make it up late in the game but if you never get there...
  • I was thinking Maelstrom when I built this list and I should have stuck with that instead of changing it up right before we played. Realizing I needed to sit on objectives really threw off my game plan to the point I had melee units like the daemon prince hiding in the back. 
The Future

I already have another list figured out for a rematch with Blaster but I am wondering if 3 squads/rhinos is enough? Maybe I should go to 4? I could just double up that first battalion and go with 6 squads and 4 leaders. That would leave about 200 points, enough to keep the defiler or the heldrake in the force. I think a line of 3 rhinos, a defiler, and 3 more rhinos would look pretty good. Sure, there's no fire support there but it's an awful lot of stuff to have to kill before it crashes into your lines. 

Anyway I will be posting another report after our next fight. Blood for the Blood God!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Khorne Campaigns: World Eaters vs. Necrons

I decided to work on a World Eaters army because I've had berzerkers for years and never had a ton of success with them. People have been talking them up in 8th though so I decided to get an army of them together and try it out. My first victim was Apprentice Red's Necron army.

The list:

++ Battalion Detachment +3CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [56 PL, 1071pts] ++

Legion: World Eaters

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 83pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-flamer, Mark of Khorne

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 83pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-flamer, Mark of Khorne

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 83pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-flamer, Mark of Khorne

+ HQ +

Chaos Lord on Juggernaut of Khorne [7 PL, 143pts]: Bladed horn on Juggernaut of Khorne, Chainaxe, Plasma pistol

Dark Apostle [5 PL, 76pts]: Bolt pistol, Mark of Khorne, Power maul, The Black Mace

Exalted Champion [5 PL, 75pts]: Axe of Blind Fury, Bolt pistol, Mark of Khorne, Power axe

+ Troops +

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Khorne Berzerkers [9 PL, 176pts]: Icon of Wrath
. Berzerker Champion: Plasma pistol, Power fist
. 5x Chainsword and Chainaxe: 5x Chainaxe
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol
. Chainsword and plasma pistol: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

++ Battalion Detachment +3CP (Chaos - Chaos Space Marines) [47 PL, 928pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Legion: World Eaters

+ Heavy Support +

Havocs [10 PL, 207pts]: Mark of Khorne
. Aspiring Champion: Chainaxe, Combi-bolter
. 3x Havoc w/ boltgun
. Havoc w/ heavy weapon: Missile launcher
. Havoc w/ heavy weapon: Missile launcher
. Havoc w/ heavy weapon: Missile launcher
. Havoc w/ heavy weapon: Missile launcher

+ HQ +

Chaos Lord on Juggernaut of Khorne [7 PL, 143pts]: Bladed horn on Juggernaut of Khorne, Chainaxe, Plasma pistol

Daemon Prince with Wings [9 PL, 183pts]: Daemonic axe, Khorne, Warp bolter

Kharn the Betrayer [8 PL, 160pts]

+ Troops +

Chaos Cultists [3 PL, 49pts]: Mark of Khorne
. 8x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon
. Chaos Cultist w/ special weapon: Flamer
. Cultist Champion: Brutal assault weapon and Autopistol

Chaos Space Marines [5 PL, 93pts]: Mark of Khorne
. Aspiring Champion: Chainaxe, Combi-bolter
. 3x Marine w/ Boltgun
. Marine w/ heavy weapon: Lascannon

Chaos Space Marines [5 PL, 93pts]: Mark of Khorne
. Aspiring Champion: Chainaxe, Combi-bolter
. 3x Marine w/ Boltgun
. Marine w/ heavy weapon: Lascannon

++ Total: [103 PL, 1999pts] ++

The theory here is that half the army is 3 rhinos full of berzerkers (including Kharn, two juggerlords, and some buff characters) rushing towards you while some guys with missile launchers sit in the back and take shots. It's not a complicated army, and I don;t have a complicated strategy for using them - that's pretty much it.

Red had a bunch of warriors, a monolith, two annihilation barges, a unit of lychguard, all led by the Stormlord. It was a lot of Necron bodies and some nasty guns.

Here's the start of the fight. We needed more sight-blocking terrain so I broke out the old Mighty Fortress and we decided we were fighting in an old ruined fortress. We declared the battlements and towers to be cover regardless of facing so my missile squads set up in ruins and woods and were pretty happy with the situation. The rhinos were as far up the board on the starting line as I could put them. I got first turn and it was off to the races. The rhinos moved, advanced, and popped smoke - now to endure the first wave of firing.

Over on the left side of the board Red dropped in his monolith and blew up my rhino. It's bound to happen which is why I take 3 of them but in this case his big pyramid tank thing wasn't all that far away from my berzerkers once they bailed out. So ... we charged! As did the Khorne Juggerlord and the daemon prince! With a few krak missile shots to start things off we managed to blow up the monolith in one turn! This had the snowball effect of stranding a 20-man warrior squad he had waiting in the webway or whatever the Necrons call their version of it. They can only emerge from the monolith or one of the flyers and he had only taken the one monolith!

On the other side I advanced up the board and finally got Kharn and the boys into charge range of some skelebots.

The rhinos took a beating as I used them to absorb overwatch and generally get in the way of the robot forces. The berzerks performed as advertised, mulching the opposition pretty handily with attacking twice, re-rolling misses, and re-rolling wounds thanks to the dark apostle and the exalted champion. Those lychguard are really tough but they fell one by one and I eventually brought down Imotekh the Stormlord himself. He conceded after that. I think we made it to turn 4 and it was a really fun game.

The game also convinced me I had a sound core for the army but I was less sure of the shooty half. They contributed for sure, but in the later turns they were somewhat out of range (as we were playing long ways on the table)  and most of the potential targets were engaged in melee and so could not be targeted.

I was also unsure of Kharn - yes he's a melee hurricane but he does nothing to buff the rest of the force and killed a couple of his own men during the fight too. At 160 points I'm thinking I could find a better option. The second juggerlord is 143, does a lot of damage too, and can also buff a squad if they stray out of range of the other two characters. A foot lord in the third rhino might be an alternative as well.

Overall though I was very happy with this battle - now to try them against a different opponent!