Thoughts on what happened in Toronto

I want to take a break from my usual 40k content to write about something serious. In case any have you been following the news, a few days ago someone deliberately used a van to run over pedestrians in downtown Toronto, killing ten people and hospitalizing fifteen. It made international news, provoked outcry from the public, the media and international leaders alike, and in general terrified and shocked in equal measure.
It happened not too far from where I live.
For some context, the intersection of Yonge and Finch, where the attack began, is where I board the subway every day to get to work. Beyond that, the section of Yonge from Finch down to Sheppard is an area I’m quite familiar with: I’ve passed by there countless times, whether by bus, by car or even on foot. Seeing the news happening two days ago, of this van attack and of people dying in an area so close to home, was shocking to say the least. To be, things like these had always happened to other cities, to other people. As I write this, even now, it’s hard to process that, yes, ten people were murdered just outside of my everyday bus stop.

 

I’ve caught glimpses of it on my daily commute. At first it was empty, save for the flash of patrolling police cruisers. I don’t know if traffic on that stretch of road has resumed now: I admit I’ve stopped looking.

I’ll be honest, when I first saw the news at my office, a part of me was really scared that it was a terror attack. After all, van attacks like this one had already happened in places like London, Nice and New York, so why should Canada be immune? As the day stretched on, and the reports came in of how the perpetrator had been captured, I was less and less inclined to believe it was the work of some would-be jihadist, but the fear that it was the handiwork of IS still lurked in the back of my mind. I dreaded this for two reasons: firstly, it would mean that we would no longer have the illusion of safety and security that we had been living with all these years, and second, it would irreparably damage the framework of Toronto society in the long term. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, but despite this (or perhaps because of this), it has been grappling with the issue of Islamophobia for quite a while (especially in the last two or so years). An actual terrorist attack by IS would have made that problem a a lot worse, and would have pushed a lot of otherwise well-meaning people towards more extreme and more angry viewpoints.
It was for this reason that I was partially relieved when it turned out the attacker was not a jihadist. Instead, he was something arguably just as bad– an angry young man who, acting on feelings of rejection and loneliness, was enacting a violent vendetta against women. I also know that it was clearly an attempt on his part to commit suicide by cop, given that he shouted for the arresting officer to kill him– an attempt that failed spectacularly thanks to the restraint and discipline of that officer.

By this point it is fairly common knowledge that Alek Minassian was an incel, that he idolized Ellliot Rodger (the scumbag who killed nine people in California four years ago), and that he was primarily targeting women in his vehicular rampage. It’s easy to get angry about this, to view his massacre as a rampage borne out of a wounded sense of entitlement, out of a misogynistic hatred of women for seemingly conspiring to turn him down. If his Facebook post is anything to go by, he was essentially declaring war on women (and on sexually active men) everywhere, and running people down as a sick emulation of Elliot Rodger.

 

Anger is easy, understanding is hard. The thing is, a part of me understands this guy’s pain. It wasn’t until my very late twenties that I finally entered into a relationship; before then, I was convinced that I was going to die alone. I know what it’s like to live through that soul-crushing loneliness, to see yourself as inherently inferior and undesirable, and to be painfully aware of the fact (especially in high school) that everyone is getting laid but you. It breeds nothing but frustration, self-loathing, and no small amount of resentment. For a while, I saw myself as doomed. I remain forever thankful that I did meet someone, and that through her I did realize that I am none of those things.

 

The difference is, even at my worst, I never once fantasized about revenge against everyone who was enjoying a happy relationship but me. I never blamed the entire female sex for my own unhappiness, and I never once decided to hurt other people to mitigate my own pain. And that is why I cannot, try as I might, wrap my head around why Alek Minassian did this. I can understand that he must have been at a low point in his life, and that he was driven to want to end it all, but I cannot understand how it got to the point where he wanted to take a lot of innocent bystanders with him.

 

Maybe this is something I’ll never get because I’m not part of that culture, just as I cannot understand why many incels, whether out of trollish glee or genuine, twisted delight, are actually cheering at this. My take away is that incels may have started out as a group for lonely, rejected people to share their woes, but like any insular group, quickly devolved into an “us versus them” mentality. I want to believe that misogyny and hatred do not exist in a vacuum, but the extent to which we can blame a society in general for fostering this vicious mentality that “you’re no one if you can’t get laid/women are evil if they reject you” is a question I am not qualified to answer.

 

Ultimately, as much as I ask “Why,” I know I’m not going to get an answer. There is little solace I can take from this horror show, save that Minassian is alive, and will have to answer for what he has done. Even then, it doesn’t change the fact that something has just been altered forever about my hometown, about my little sphere of existence. I don’t think I will be able to go through that stretch of road again without seeing it as a little more empty.

Review- Codex: Drukhari

(Image courtesy of Games Workshop)

 

So, I’ve been meaning to write this review ever since the book came out. Sadly, work and other real life stuff has been incessantly getting in the way, and so this review is a bit late– by now, most of you have already read better, and more concise reviews on the new codex. Regardless, I’m here to give my two cents on the new book, what I like and dislike about it, what I thought the most significant changes are, and what I think it means for the army going forward.

Without further adiue, here’s my take on the new Codex: Drukhari.

The Background

In general, the background section in the codex is quite solid. A lot of the things that have been in the previous two codexes are in there as well- background on individual units, a lengthy and detailed history of the Drukhari, from the Fall to the present day, and a description regions and society of the Dark City. This background, while detailed and well-written, is also largely unchanged from the past two codexes. What’s new, however, is a large section that goes into detail on various Kabals, Wych Cults and Covens within the Dark City– something that the previous books never did. I personally found this to be a significant improvement, as one thing I felt the previous books were lacking were details on individual Kabals, their organizations, cultures and societies: it is nuggets of information like these that are great for helping players develop fluff for their own armies. I found myself particularly liking the descriptions of the Kabal of the Last Hatred (re: Drukharii dabbling in necromancy), and the Cult of the Blade Denied (Wyches who practice unarmed combat). The book even goes into detail on how Kabals, Cults and Covens are organized– I now know for the first time that Kabals are organized into company-like subgroups called “shards,” which in turn are divided into “splinters” (Cults and Covens have Circles and Cells, respectively)

One of my biggest questions prior to the release of the new codex was: what was going to change? The new edition of 40k has pushed the story forward in some massive, sweeping ways, particularly with half of the galaxy now being covered by the Cicatrix Maledictum. Given that the past Dark Eldar codex (and the Gathering Storm books) left the story of the Dark City on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Khaine’s Gate on the verge of opening and unleashing an apocalypse upon Commoragh. It was a dire note to leave the story of the Dark City on, and I was very curious to see how they would resolve it.
Well resolve it they did, in ways I wasn’t expecting. The relevant new plot points include:

-Khaine’s Gate opened, unleashing a massive Daemon invasion on the Dark City. Eventually, the invasion was beaten back to its origin point, but not defeated– instead, the sub-realm containing Khaine’s Gate was isolated, and is now called the Chasm of Woe. Even then, however, daemons are still pouring forth from the Gate, and Vect has now been forced to sacrifice more and more sub-dimensions just to keep them in check. I found this to be an interesting plot point, albeit a somewhat grim one: like the rest of the galaxy, Comorragh hasn’t been unscathed by the opening of the Maledictum and the rise of Chaos. While it hasn’t fallen, it is now slowly but surely being eaten alive from the inside, dying a slow death. It lends a new dimension to the story, as it raises a lot of interesting questions: how will the Drukhari stave off their eventual extinction? Will they band together, or stay their usual, selfish course?
-Speaking of Asdrubael Vect, he pulled a grand ploy by staging his own death, being visibly torn apart by Mandrakes and seemingly having all of his soul-containers annihilated. A wake was held for him, and naturally, all of his enemies came to gloat…and naturally, all of his enemies wound up very dead when Vect revealed he was alive and executed his grand trap. Vect has now consolidated his power even more and has declared himself “the Living Muse” (ie essentially a paragon of Drukhari ideals). Interestingly, Lady Malys had the foresight not to attend, and took her Kabal into the webway outside of Commoragh, where they wait still. Perhaps more of Vect vs Malys looms on the horizon?
-There’s also more mentioned on the Ynnari– namely that Lelith Hesperax and the Cult of Strife have joined the Ynnari’s crusade, despite the fact that Lelith was the one who killed Yvraine in the first place. Lelith’s reasons are that she wants to take on Lucius the Eternal– a prospect that intrigues and terrifies me. On the one hand, if anyone could potentially beat Lucius, it’s Lelith. On the other hand, a proud creature like the Queen of Knives can’t possibly resist Lucius’ curse– ie, feel pride at killing him, and thus get possessed by him. Meanwhile, Vect is plotting to deal with Yvraine, seeing this new prophet as a threat to his power base.
-The Haemonculi have taken an interest in capturing Primaris Marines and Custodes. There’s also a fluff bit the Inquisition briefly discovering a Coven making a blood and guts-covered version of the Golden Throne. Given that there was an earlier bit in the Mechanicus book about the Mechanicus trading with the Haemonculi in order to fix the Golden Throne, perhaps this is a result of that devil’s pact.

 

THE ART

Believe it or not, the artwork is always a big deal for me in a new codex. Whether it be a new release or just an updated one, the artwork has always been key in giving the codex a sense of theme, atmosphere and character– an illustration of a Space Marine resolutely firing his bolter, for instance, or even better, fighting a swarm of Orks or Tyranids while surrounded, gives you a visual idea of what the army is like in battle that the unit descriptions, fluff and painted minis do not. To me, the artwork fills in the gaps and supports the fluff, and a lot of previous books have had some truly fantastic art pieces. The last two Dark Eldar codexes, in particular, have had some very good pieces of artwork, not just of the Dark Eldar in battle, but of the Dark City and life within it.

Sadly, this new Codex falls short in the art department. While there is one good new colour art piece in the book showing the Drukhari murderizing some White Scars, for the most part almost all of the artwork is recycled from previous codexes. There a lot of portrait-style illustrations showing members of the various Kabals, Cults, Covens, etc, and in some cases these are very well done, especially where they do full-body portraits to display that subfaction’s colours and visual themes. For the most part, though, these portraits are pretty hideous– I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but whoever did them just cannot draw faces. All in all, I’m just not impressed.

 

THE ARMY OF THREE

For the most part, there remain a lot of rules similarities between Index and Codex– for instance, the core rules, Power from Pain and Combat Drugs, remain unchanged. The most significant however, come not from the core rules, but from army organization. In the new Drukhari book, Kabals, Wych Cults and Haemonculi Covens are all treated as distinct factions– in many ways, the book is one that covers three armies, rather than one, with each having not just their own separate keywords but also distinct subfactions. This makes mixing and matching units impossible outside of fielding separate detachments– although certain units like Incubi, Scourges and Mandrakes have no factional keywords and are freely usable by all three groups. To compensate for this lack of integration, the book features the “Raiding Force” rule, which means that if the army comprises of at least three Patrol detachments, then the army gains +4 command points instead of the usual +3.

I have to admit that I am personally torn on this rule change. On the one hand, I like the fact that the book is reflecting the fact that the Drukhari are NOT a unified race– that each raiding force is not a single army, but a loose collection of vaguely combined interests that will happily turn on each other once the fighting is finished. It also emphasizes that Kabals, Cults and Covens are all their own unique factions, and need to be treated as such Indeed, the Alliance of Agony stratagem (more on that later) makes it all the more rewarding to field the Drukhari as a tripartite force. At the same time, however, there is a “taxation” element to this that reminds me uncomfortably of the hated formations and detachments of 7th edition, and which makes it difficult to field armies themed around a single faction. In order to field a pair Ravagers in support of a Wych Cult, for example, I would first have to throw in an Archon, and then, depending on which detachment I’m using for said Ravagers, also throw in a squad of Kabalites or one more Ravager than I needed or wanted. In making the Drukhari a tripartite army, they made it a lot more difficult for armies from just a single faction to function competitively, which could be a problem for players who have a specific theme in mind for their army. That being said, how well “mono faction” armies can fare in this edition I think is a topic that needs to be explored further.

It is worth noting, by the way, that while I personally find the Raiding Force option to be a fun one, if you really want lots of CP in your army, you are better off going with Battalions (especially since they yield 5 CP as of the FAQ), and/or going for a CP farming combo of Black Heart/Prophets of Flesh. Ultimately there is only one CP of difference between a Raiding Force and a Battalion, and certainly, Drukhari can make up the difference in various ways, but the Raiding Force is certainly not the only option for the Drukhari when it comes to detachments.

 

OBSESSIONS

It’s also worth going into the subfaction rules for a bit. Like most other Codex armies released up until now, the Drukhari have a list of subfactions (or “obsessions”) in their book, only in this case their obsessions are divided, as is everything else in the book, betweek Kabals, Wych Cults and Haemonculous Covens. Almost all of the obsessions have a general theme in mind: Kabal obsessions tend to be very shooty, Wych obsessions all have assault bonuses, whereas the three Haemonculi Covens revolve around resilience, leadership debuffs and armour-piercing attacks, respectively. What I like about the subfactions in Codex: Drukhari, however, is that there are few “obvious” or “mandatory” choices like you get in the other codexes, where some subfactions (ie Alaitoc, Salamanders, Alpha Legion) have become go-to competitive choices. I can honestly and happily say that I remain torn on which Kabal obsession to use for my army, as they are all equally good: the Flayed Skull and Poisoned Tongue both boost the massed splinter fire of Kabalites, the Obsidian Rose is just generally good with their range bonuses, and the Black Heart lets vehicles ignores wounds on a 6+, and has an amazing relic, warlord trait and signature stratagem to boot. The same goes for the Wych Cults– all three of their obsessions are worth taking, and all three are ones that I want to experiment with in the future. I  would say that the only real “no brainer” subfaction in the army is the Prophets of Flesh Haemonculus Coven, partly because Wracks, Grotesques and Taloi with a 4+ invulnerable save are amazing, and partly because their Diabolic Soothsayer warlord trait is a must-have for any Alliance of Agony list. Overall, though, the obsessions of the Drukhari open up a lot of tactical and list-building options, and I am excited to explore those options in the games to come.

 

 

UNITS- WHAT HAS CHANGED

It will take too long to go through the major changes unit by unit, so just as a quick summary of the standouts for me:

-Just as I had hoped, the Archon has gone from zero to hero (or villain, rather). Firstly, he has received a rules buff, with the Overlord rule now giving them a “reroll 1s to hit” aura instead of simply giving nearby minions his leadership. More importantly, Archons now have access to better melee weapons, with the huskblade having been boosted to a beautiful +1 strength and d3 wounds, and, as will be mentioned later, they also have access to a wide array of relics, warlord traits and stratagems that can make them extra killy. The Archon is a scary model once again, and I couldn’t be happier.
It should be worth adding, by the way, that this has not happened at the expense of the other 2 HQ choices. Both the Wyches and the Haemonculous now have a plethora of great options of their own, and both are still quite good at their respective roles and factions…and now, thanks to the Alliance of Agony stratagem, you’re pretty much encouraged to take all three.

-Although they are single models, the Court of the Archon do not count as characters, and so, thanks to the rules around targeting characters, are now much more useful than they were before as bodyguards. Already, I’ve seen Sslyth show up in a lot more lists because of this.

-Warriors now can take 2 blasters in a unit of 10, making large units of them an even more attractive option. Perhaps fittingly, Raiders now come once again with the option for splinter racks, allowing the passengers on board get exploding 6s with their splinter weapons. This makes them arguably a better (albeit pricier) option than 5-man units in Venoms, but I guess it depends on your points and play style. Two units of 5 riding on a single Raider is definitely an attractive option, however.

-Blasters are much better now, doing d6 damage as opposed to the d3 from the Index. This makes Kabalites, Scourges, Reavers, and any other unit capable of wielding blasters that much more effective.

-I was terrified that Mandrakes would be nerfed in some way, or worse, exiled into the limbo of uncertainty that is the Index. Thankfully, this was not the case: they are still in the book, and are still boasting a decent shooting attack, boatloads of melee attacks and their -1 to hit ability. I can’t wait to use these creepers more in the future.

-Wyches, as I had hoped, got a significant boost as well, now coming with +1 attack base, a choice of either +1 strength, +1 attack on the charge or rerolling charge distances (depending on their obsession), and a slight buff to their dodge save– out of combat, they now get a 6+ invulnerable save, which stacks with Power from Pain. It’s still not great– Wyches are still going to die like ants to shooting– but it’s still much better than what they had before. Besides which, thanks to things like the Webway Portal stratagem, being able to reroll charge distances on turn 2, Cult of the Red Grief, etc, they can get into combat a lot sooner. It’s also worth noting that shardnets and impalers have improved dramatically, bolsterng Wyches’ chances of keeping enemies from falling back.

-Grotesques, incidentally, have been improved somewhat now that their monstrous cleavers are -2 armour instead of -1. Taloi, similarly, have had some of their melee weapons buffed slightly. Combine this with Haemonculous Coven obsessions and suddenly they become amazing.

-A quick note on special characters: Lelith Hesperax has not changed too much, as she can still unleash half a million attacks on her own. Now, however, she can also choose a stat to boost at the start of each turn, in a similar manner to combat drugs (only better, in that she can change it each turn, and that this does not use up a combat drug “slot”). Drazhar, meanwhile, has become downright amazing: not only has he gained the Hatred Eternal warlord trait to reroll failed to wound rolls, but he can now attack twice in the Fight phase after charging. In other words, Drazhar is now officially the Drukhari version of Kharn.

Oh yes, and Urien Rakarth now boots the strength as well as toughness of nearby Coven units, making any nearby Grotesques or Taloi extra tasty.

-Trueborn and Bloodbrides are gone, as are blasters for Archons. They are still available in the Index, though, which means they are still technically usable.

 

RELICS

As expected, the new codex has also brought with it new relics, warlord traits and stratagems for the Drukharii to bring them in line with the current range of codexes. In keeping with the overall theme of the codex, while several of these relics are universal, many others are specific to either Kabals, Cults of Covens (while a select few are even sub-faction specific). Without going into too many details, I will simply say that for the most part, the relics are quite good: there are no relics that immediately stand out as “bad” or underpowered (except maybe the Spirit’s Sting, and I’d say that’s more situational than anything else), and a select few of the relics are downright amazing. Standouts for me include the Helm of Spite (which lets you deny psychic powers and force Perils of the Warp in the process), the new and improved Djin Blade (which still grants +2 attacks and can still mortally wound its bearer on a roll of 1, but grants +1 strength and d3 wounds in the bargain). There are some neat obsession-specific items as well, such as the Kabal of the Black Heart’s Writ of the Living Muse, which grants your Archon an aura of reroll 1s to wound in addition to his/her rerolling 1s to hit aura, and the Cult of Red Grief’s Blood Glaive (an Archite Glaive without the -1 to hit penalty that does d3 damage). A full list of the relics, and the character combos that they open up, may very well be the subject of a future blog post (although HERO, being the hero that he is, has already written a very good article on the subject).

WARLORD TRAITS

Again, the Warlord traits are divided between Kabals, Cults and Covens, and some of them are subfaction-specific. Once again, though, the selection is actually quite good, ranging from competitive to enjoyable, and there are very few traits that aren’t worth taking. The traits range from letting your Archon reroll wounds regain wounds by killing models, to Succubi getting extra combat drug rolls, inflicting mortal wounds or boosting their invulnerable saves to 3+, to Haemonculi regenerating d3 wounds a turn, boosting the invulnerable saves of nearby Coven units and reducing the amount of damage they suffer. Two standouts are the Prophets of Flesh trait Diabolical Soothsayer (which grants d3 command points at the start of the game, which is almost a must-have for an Alliance of Agony) and the Black Heart trait Labyrinthine Cunning, which lets you roll a d6 every time you or your opponent spend a CP and regain one on a 6. While these two traits, for Haemonculi and Archons respectively, are extremely good almost to the point of being must-haves, the other traits are still quite good as well, and the Alliance of Agony will give a player to chance to try multiple multi-faction traits in one list. One combination I am personally keen to try is a Flayed Skull Archon with the Djin Blade and the Famed Savagery trait, as this will give him 8 strength 5 attacks rerolling 1s and doing d3 wounds (with the potential for the attacks and strength going up further if he kills a character and uses the Soul Trap stratagem– more on that in a bit).

 

STRATAGEMS

Probably the second biggest new change advantage to the Drukhari after their Obsessions and Raiding Force rule are their stratagems. Speaking as someone who, up until now, has been fielding Index-only armies and thus has not used stratagems that extensively, they will be a new and interesting experience for me, and, like everything else, one that will bear much experimentation. The sheer number of stratagems that the Drukhari have (33 to be exact) is going to take some getting used to as well, as it will be difficult to remember most of them– I suspect that the stratagem cards that came with my copy of the codex are going to be very handy for this reason.

Numbers aside, what I will say is that the Drukhari stratagems generally seem quite fun and, more importantly, characterful– a lot of them reflect things I had always imagined the Dark Eldar doing in the background, like having lightning-fast reflexes or being masters of terror terror tactics. A lot of old wargear items and unit rules have been recycled as stratagems as well. Some of my favourites include:
-Soul Trap- if your character kills an enemy character, they gain +1 strength and +1 attack for the rest of the game. As far as I can tell, this is cumulative.
-Lightning-Fast Reactions (2 CP)- any unit that isn’t a Coven unit can force -1 to hit in either shooting or melee.
-Fleshcraft (1 CP)- a Coven unit can regain D3 wounds
-Eviscerating Fly-By (1 CP)- a Wych Cult unit with the Fly keyword can fly over an enemy unit and inflict mortal wounds (the old, and long-missed, 6th ed Reaver rule)
-Cruel Deception (2 CP)- a unit can fall back and then charge

Some of the stratagems, though, are potent enough to revolve entire lists or strategies around– I am thinking in particular of the Webway Assault stratagem and, even more importantly, the Alliance of Agony. Speaking of which, I need to devote a paragraph to the wonderful weirdness that is the 1 CP Alliance of Agony. Simply put, if you have an Archon warlord, along with a Succubus and Haemonculous in your army, then you may give the other two characters warlord traits as well. It is practically designed to be used in a Raiding Force, and like the Raiding Force, highlights that the Drukhari are essentially three armies in one. It is, admittedly, a neat stratagem, especially since it makes it clear that you only lose Slay the Warlord if the Archon dies, and it enables you to tool your characters out even further and set some some interesting combos. It also allows you to play the “CP farming” game almost as well as the Imperial Guard if you combine the Black Heart trait Labyrinthine Cunning (recycle/steal CPs on a roll of 6), and the Prophets of Flesh trait Diabolic Soothsayer (+D3 CPs at the start of the game).

While the Alliance of Agony seems fun, it is, in my opinion, by no means a must-have, and it is worth noting that it doesn’t specifically have to be used with a Raiding Force– any combination of detachments will work with it, as long as you have those three characters in your force and an Archon warlord.

I should add in closing on this that the Drukhari do not seem to have any “broken” stratagems by any stretch of the imagination, save one– the much-hyped Agents of Vect stratagem for the Kabal of the Black Heart. For 2 CP, it allows you to effectively negate an opponent’s stratagem, potentially foiling their plans and/or denying the rabbit that they were about to pull out of their hat. It is a really good foil for opponents who may be relying on one or two major stratagems (I’m thinking in particular of Blood Angel Smash Captains), and it certainly is a good reason to field the Black Heart, but I don’t see it as game-breaking as the internet is making it out to be, nor do I see it as something to be relied on or to revolve strategies around. It is good, and annoying for the opponent, but unless my opponent has some truly heinous stratagems, I would prefer to keep my CP for stratagems that let my units do more damage/stay alive.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

Overall, I like the new Drukhari book. It does a lot to add flavour, flexibility and (very) competitive options to the army, and if I’m honest, it has made me enthusiastic about playing the Dark Eldar ever since the dismal 7th ed Codex killed that enthusiasm. I am probably going to do further posts on army lists, individual unit/stratagem reviews, and further tactical thoughts on the army, but overall, I am quite pleased.

Over the next little while, I’m going to be revamping my existing Dark Eldar army to raid the tabletops, and hope to explore this codex further, game by game. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more posts on my little Alliance of Agony as I add new units, restore old ones, decide whether or not I want to revamp my army’s existing paint scheme at all.

Anyway, there’s my review. Happy hunting, fellow raiders!

Updates- new Drukhari book, a Raging Heroine, Arco-Flagellants and more

(Image by Games Workshop)

So, I realize that I haven’t posted in a while. Work, various social events and the occasional bout of I-don’t-wanna-write-right-now-ness have kind of been interfering with my ability or willingness to post any updates. That being said…here’s an update!

The most important thing I want to post about is that yesterday, I received my pre-order of the new Drukhari codex (complete with complementary datacards). I can’t say enough about how excited I am right now about this book– I am currently leafing through its colourful pages as we speak, devouring all of its secrets and absorbing the lore of the Dark City. I will, at a later date, be posting a several-part review of the new Codex, particularly of its new lore, new unit updates, faction rules and stratagems, and how I intend to put it all to use. For the time being, all I can say is I am already trying to figure out which Kabal/Cult/Coven rules I want to use for my Alliance of Agony, and I think it’s saying a lot that I can’t decide– all of the sub-faction rules are just too good!

On to other progress: so last January (yes, I know), I posted about two new models I had gotten from Raging Heroes. After putting things off for way too long, I finally got working on one of them, and finally have some results to show for my efforts.

My primary focus has been on Sister Ardanna: I still need to decide how I’m going to paint Silkeeriss/Drukhari lady. When I first started on Ardanna, I painted her main body before applying her sword, figuring that, given how her arms block her face and her sword blocks much of her torso, I really didn’t want to have to paint around either. For the initial steps, I painted her face Cadian Fleshtone, her dress Kantor blue and her armour and the insides of her robe Celestra Grey working up to Ulthuan Grey. I quickly discovered that paint had a tendency to congeal far too easily in the recesses of her dress: after applying some paint thinner by q-tip, I was forced to be much more cautious with how I was thinning my paints.

From there, I applied:
-Balthasar Gold on the metal bits I added, along with a wash of Reikland Fleshshade (I still need a lighter gold to highlight this with). Note that one of the spines on her icon/backpack thing is bent: unfortunately, I am afraid to try to apply pressure on it without breaking it, and am currently looking for solutions on how to right it (a compress and warm water might work, though I have no idea if that will warp the resin or not– yes, I am inexperienced with resin).
-For the blue, I made successive highlights with Kantor Blue, Altdorf Blue, and Drakenhof Nightshade before a final highlight of Calgar and then Hoeth Blue.
-The face was washed with Reikland before being highlighted with Kislev flesh.
-Mournfang Brown was applied to the hair, again with Fleshshade wash
-Some Vallejo Red (I forget which, I’m not as well versed with Vallejo) was applied to the red bits
-A bare Mechanicum Grey was applied to the gargoyle and base, along with an Altdorf Oil wash
-Bare Ulthuan grey has been applied to the designs at the bottom of her robe

The sword took the most effort after the dress, as I moved from the Vallejo red up to Trollslayer and then Fiery Orange, and then a faint bit of Evil Sunz yellow. I was trying to maintain a hot, orange look to the blade without making it look too fiery.

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So far, I like the progress I’ve made on her, though I still have a million and a half highlights to apply, particularly to her dress and to the stonework. I am also debating whether or not the sword is too bright, or not bright enough– I’m debating switching from the fiery orange look to a more black-to-yellow “lava” look. Game wise, I will most likely use her as a Canoness with the Blade of Admonition, although one blog I discovered suggested using her with the Emperor’s Champion rules. Regardless, I’m happy with how she’s looking so far…though, as a guy who is too used to heavy models, I am surprised by how light she is.

Meanwhile, another thing I went back to working on was my Arco-Flagellants. Where possible, I have the Flagellant models power claws, drills and saws from the Kromlech range, and when I ran out of those bits, I modelled them wielding their flails as normal (although in two instances I actually attached the flails to their arms at the wrist). I went with masked heads wherever possible, but where that was impossible, I used green stuff to make heavy hoods for them. I also put green stuff on their back so that I could then apply crisscrossing bent pieces of paper clip, to represent various wires and tubes jutting out of the Flagellants’ backs. Here they were when I primed them. I am happy with how these conversions turned out, actually: they have a mad, aggressive dynamism to them that makes me easily visualize them charging headlong into the enemy in a storm of whips, flails and buzzsaws.

So how did they turn out? Sadly, not great.

As you can see, my limited sculpting skills become quite visible here: my attempts at making hoods, despite my best efforts, have instead yielded these globular, overgrown…things around their heads. It is no better on their backs, where I have used green stuff as a base on which to apply the wires: in those cases the green stuff is literally all over the place, and in many cases it has absorbed dust or stray cat hair. The result is unpleasant looking to say the least. My putty skills are, sadly, quite lacking.

Paint scheme wise, I went with a Steel Legion Drab base for the colour scheme. I couldn’t decide on red or blue as a secondary character, so I alternated between models. The result isn’t…terrible, but I have yet to apply highlights. It is clear to me that the Arco-Flagellants will still require a lot of work, and that if I’m to save them, I’ll need to do some headswaps on the hooded ones to save them from my horrible sculpting attempts. Sadly, suitably helmeted or robotic heads will be difficult to find, so it seems that the headache that is this unit may persist for a while yet.

In the interim, though, I have a few other projects lined up on the horizon, including (a lot of) Drukhari and a new Inquisitorial guest for my Sororitas…

Batrep #4: Apocalypse

(art by Games Workshop)

When chronicles of the Indomitus Crusade look back to what is now known as the Battle of Desolation Row, there is much dispute as to the cause of this battle– who fired the first shot, why it escalated to the point that it did, and what ultimately could have possessed loyal servants of the Emperor to take up arms and wage war against one another.

What is certainly known is that the battle erupted in the final stages of the cleansing of Hive Steele on Tarantulus IV. By this point, the Chaos-worshipping rebellion on the planet had been mostly defeated, its armies annihilated in open battle and its demogues slain. The last vestiges of resistance occupied an industrial district of the Hive, nicknamed “Desolation Row” by Imperial forces due to the fact that it had been largely abandoned when the shelling of the Hive had first began. The honour of cleansing this district went to the Astartes of the Storm Angels chapter, the Sororitas of the Order of the Blessed Damsel, and numerous Astra Militarum and Questor Imperialis support. Minimal resistance was encountered, and two hours into the operation, the district was declared free of Archenemy forces.

No one knows who then fired the first shot, or why. Perhaps the Storm Angels, afflicted as they were by the genetic curse of the Blood Angels, succumbed to madness and mistook their allies for yet more foes. Perhaps the Sororitas knew of the curse, and saw their erstwhile allies as little better than unclean mutants. Perhaps, indeed, one of the Inquisitors overseeing the operation was responsible, acting perhaps out of some suspicion of heresy on the Storm Angels’ part or, indeed, out of the rumour that the Astartes had time-displaced Luna Wolves serving in their ranks. There remain unconfirmed reports from after the battle that there was an unsanctioned communique sent to the battlezone that may be responsible, but who it was sent from, to who, and what it contained all remain mysteries to this day.

What is known is that, within minutes of Desolation Row having been declared purged, the Astartes and the Sororitas suddenly began to open fire on one another. Confusion reigned, and the supporting Imperial units, unsure of what was happening, quickly took sides. What began as a firefight quickly escalated into a much larger conflict, and soon one of the most tragic battles of the Indomitus Crusade began…

A while back, my LGS held a weekend Apocalypse game. I had only heard about it the night before, and so the following morning I hurriedly packed everything in my Imperial collection and rushed off. (Well, not everything. I had forgotten my Grey Knights and most of my Assassins, but I digress). I had barely managed to compile a list on Battlescribe the night before, and so had a semi-decent 3500-ish points to work with. I was feeling somewhat prepared when I arrived at the store…

…and found only one other player there. After the store managers asked us to wait for a bit, they ultimately decided to go ahead with it and have us battle it out with our full, Apocalyptic collections in a one on one game.

I had brought the following:

ORDER OF THE BLESSED DAMSEL (with allies from House Wynngarde, the Inquisition and the Officio Assassinorum):

ADEPTUS MINISTORUM BATTALION DETACHMENT
Saint Celestine- 2 Geminae Superiae, Legendary Fighter
Inquisitor Greyfax- Mental Fortitude
15 Battle Sisters- flamer, heavy flamer, Sister Superior w. combi flamer
5 Battle Sisters- storm bolter, heavy flamer
-Immolator- Immolation flamer
5 Battle Sisters- flamer, heavy flamer
-Immolator- Immolation flamer
Imagifier
Imagifier
Sister Dialogous
Callidus Assassin
6 Retributors- 4 heavy bolters
Exorcist
Exorcist

ADEPTUS MINISTORUM VANGUARD DETACHMENT
Uriah Jacobus
Ministorum Priest- laspistol, eviscerator
Ministorum Priest- bolt pistol, power maul
9 Arco-Flagellants
-Rhino

ADEPTUS MINISTORUM OUTRIDER DETACHMENT
Canoness- bolt pistol, Blade of Admonition
9 Seraphim- 2 hand flamers
5 Dominions- 4 meltaguns
-Rhino
5 Dominions- 4 meltaguns
-Immolator- twin multi-melta

SUPER-HEAVY AUXILIARY DETACHMENT
Knight Warden “Galemourn”- meltagun, Stormspear missile launcher

As is the case with a lot of my games, there were a lot of things that I was experimenting with in this list. In particular, the Greyfax, the Seraphim, and the Canoness (or more importantly, the Blade of Admonition) were all getting their 8th edition test runs…as was, more importantly, the Knight, which had been sitting unused on my shelf since late 7th ed, begging me for a chance to use him. I could think of no better a field test than an Apocalypse game. Another experiment was the big walking blob of Battle Sisters: I wanted to see how well they performed, and was particularly interested to see if I could get off massed double-tapping volleys of bolter fire with them through faith points.

My opponent, meanwhile, brought:

THE STORM ANGELS (with allied Astra Militarum from an unknown regiment)

BLOOD ANGELS BRIGADE:

The Sanguinor- Heroic Bearing
Captain- Angel’s Wing, thunder hammer, storm shield
Lemartes
Sanguinary Priest- jump pack, thunder hammer
Primaris Lieutenant- bolt pistol, power sword
Primaris Lieutenant- Stalker bolt rifle
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
-Razorback- twin assault cannon
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
-Razorback- twin assault cannon
5 Tactical Marines- meltagun, Sergeant w. inferno pistol (painted as Luna Wolves)
-Rhino
5 Tactical Marines- meltagun, Sergeant w. inferno pistol
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
5 Tactical Marines- heavy flamer
Company Ancient
Contemptor Dreadnought- Kheres assault cannon
10 Death Company- jump packs, 4 power swords, 4 thunder hammers
10 Sanguinary Guard- death masks, 2 inferno pistols, 1 plasma pistol, 3 power fists
Sanguinary Ancient- power fist, death mask
3 Aggressors- Boltstorm cannons
10 Assault Marines- 2 meltaguns, Sergeant w. inferno pistol & power sword
10 Devastators- lascannon, missile launcher, 2 heavy bolters
10 Devastators- lascannon, missile launcher, 2 heavy bolters

ASTRA MILITARUM BATTALION:

Company Commander- Kurov’s Aquila
Tempestor Prime- Tempestus command rod
10 Guardsmen- flamer
10 Guardsmen- flamer
10 Guardsmen- flamer
Militarum Tempestus Command Squad- 2 plasma guns, 2 hotshot volley guns
Heavy Weapons Squad- 3 lascannons

Full disclaimer: this is actually half of what my opponent brought for the Apocalypse game. When it came down to determining the points value/power level, my opponent was forced to hastily set aside half of his army, which included most of his tanks, and a large portion of his Militarum Tempestus and transports. This still left him, though, with a lot of characters and a lot of scary units– I was particularly daunted by his giant unit of Sanguinary Guard. My opponent was quick to point out that the real one I would have to watch out for, though, was his Captain– who, thanks to a horrendous combination of relics, warlord trait and stratagems, had apparently smashed down even the likes of Mortarion in the past, and had earned the internet sobriquet of “Slamguinius.”

 

MISSION:

The game was a standard Apocalypse mission, with victory points per unit destroyed or for every 3 wounds on a Super-Heavy (something I forgot about until much later). Also, as this was only a one on one game instead of the sprawling multiplayer affair we had both been expecting, we both agreed to use only Warlords instead of Warmasters.

DEPLOYMENT:

I set up the giant 15-girl blob of Sisters in the centre, supported by most of the characters, with the Arco-Flagellants, the Knight and Celestine all hovering nearby. The plan at the time was to use the Battle Sisters as an anvil to set up multiple counter-attacks by my hammers.

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A wider look at the battlefield. My transports are spread across the field so that my other Battle Sisters can lend fire support as needed. I also had a squad of Dominions and an Exorcist on each of the flanks, and the Seraphim, Retributors and one of the Imagifiers on the right. The Callidus, naturally, was in reserve.

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In response my opponent deployed a big line of red, gold and jade. The Sanguinary Guard, supporting characters and Dreadnought occupied the right flank, along with his Devastators, some Guardsmen, his Company Commander, Heavy Weapons and a Tactical Squad.

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His transports occupied the centre along with his Assault Marines, Death Company, Aggressors, more Tactical Marines, more Guardsmen and his Scions.

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Before the game began, my opponent used the Death Visions of Sanguinius stratagem to give him +1 attack on the charge and ignoring wounds on a 6.

I won the roll off to go first, and gladly took it. Let the purging of space vampires commence!

TURN 1

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My turn began with a crisis of faith, as I failed to get any faith points off (even with a command point reroll). The best I was able to do was use Celestine’s free faith point to propel the Seraphim up the right flank. My plan, at the time, was to use the Seraphim to harass and slow down enemy forces on that flank, particularly that scary unit of Sanguinary Guard. Elsewhere, my Dominions…actually advanced more cautiously, edging up but not going zooming up full speed ahead. Looking back, I can’t decide if I made the right call, or if I should have sent them on full speed ahead to go blow something up.

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In the movement phase, the Sisters blob moved up in the centre to get into bolter range. On the right flank, the Seraphim flew straight onwards, while the Knight, Dominions and Celestine all advanced a little cautiously. Finally, on the left, my Dominions’ Immolator took cover against the side of a building, both to take shelter from the Devastators and to be ready to drop meltaguns on the Blood Angel transports the moment they got close enough. Finally, my other Immolators hugged cover, ready to support my blob squad and/or advance into burninating range as needed. The general idea was to wait for the Blood Angels to come to me.

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In the psychic phase, Greyfax cast Mental Fortitude on the Sisters blob, no doubt reassuring them that this was in no way witchcraft. In the shooting phase, though, the Seraphim let rip on the Guardsmen right in front of them with bolt and flame, burning down 8 of them and clearing a path to the Tactical Squad and Contemptor beyond. My right flank Exorcist followed up by doing 3 wounds to the Contemptor, while the Retributors blasted down 2 of the Tactical Marines next to it. In the centre, the large squad of Battle Sisters fired their bolters at long range and killed 7 of the leftmost Guardsmen, while the left Exorcist plinked 3 wounds off of the leftmost Razorback.

Then, finally, the Knight opened up. Its Avenger gatling cannon whirred to life, firing at the Aggressors…and proceeded to shred all three of them in one volley! To make things even better, its Stormspear missile launcher fired at the distant Heavy Weapons Teams, accurately hitting and killing all three lascannon teams! At that moment, I was quite amazed at just how brutal the Knight was.

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In close combat, my Seraphim multi-charged both the Contemptor and the Tactical Marines, aiming to tie them up and then fall back out of combat to shoot more stuff at his rear lines. This turned out to be a horrendous idea: the Seraphim suffered four losses in overwatch. After making it into combat, they proceeded to flail uselessly at their opponents…and then get wiped out with contemptuous ease. Well, that was a bad plan. In the morale phase, at least, I was consoled when both squads of Guardsmen I had shot at evaporated from morale.

In the Blood Angels turn, a wall of tanks came zooming towards my massed Sisters, with Death Company and Assault Marines jetting up in their wake. I was rapidly getting the impression that things were about to get extremely bloody in the centre.

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On the right flank, Guardsmen moved up, and a Lieutenant moved up alongside the Company Commander to bolster the Devastators and the Sanguinary Guard.

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Speaking of whom, the Sanguinary Guard and their attendant characters moved up as well, screened by the remaining Tactical Marines and the friendly neighbourhood Contemptor.

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In the shooting phase, my opponent had a lot of firepower to dole out. On the right flank, the Knight took fire from lascannons, missiles, Kheres assault cannons and even bolters, and under this withering hail of fire took 9 wounds, leaving it just barely clinging to its first level of damage. The Company Commander ordered the last Guard squad to First Rank Fire on the behemoth, but thankfully, I was spared the ignominy of it being damaged by lasguns. On the left flank, the Tempestor Prime ordered his squad to use Elimination Protocols on the Dominions’ Immolator. After all was said and done, both my  left Immolator and rightmost Rhino took a few wounds.

Finally, in the centre, my poor Battle Sisters were hit with assault cannons, heavy bolters, storm bolters and miscellaneous other weapons. 7 Sisters went down, almost half the squad, but thanks to Greyfax’s mind control…er, I mean, inspiring leadership…they suffered no further losses to morale.

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By the end of the turn, I hadn’t lost anything to enemy firepower (thankfully), but some of my units were beginning to take some serious damage. Next turn, I would have to deal with the Blood Angels’ firepower somehow…and at the same time deal with that scary golden death star that was coming my way.

SCORE: 5-1
Sisters of Battle: 5
Blood Angels: 1

TURN 2

At the start of my turn, faith points actually started to go off for a change. Celestine faith-jumped forwards, while the Retributors opened fire on the Tactical Marines who had all too recently killed the Seraphim, mowing down one. The Battle Sisters on foot, in turn, fired at the damaged Razorback, but failed to do any damage to it.

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In the movement phase, Celestine flew around to the flank of the big Sanguinary Guard unit, while the Knight stomped up onto the hill in front of the Tactical Marines and Contemptor. The plan was to get rid of both of these units with shooting so that the Knight and Celestine could tag-team his Sanguinary Guard– a risky proposition, but I had to deal with that death star somehow. To support them, my rightmost Dominions disembarked and moved up to deal with the Contemptor. Elsewhere, my rightmost Immolator wheeled up onto a hill to target another squad of Guardsmen, while in the centre, the depleted Battle Sisters moved back, while the leftmost Dominions moved up to target line of oncoming Razorbacks. Between the Dominions and Battle Sisters, I made sure that there were few areas that his Death Company could jump down on to to go after my Battle Sisters/characters. My Rhino carrying the Arco-Flagellants also edged up, the cargo inside ready to bail out and counter-attack once the inevitable Blood Angel onslaught came.

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Last but by no means least, my Callidus Assassin came out of hiding near one of his Devastator squads, as I figured I needed to neutralize if not tie up his shooting. In response, though, my opponent used the Auspex Scan stratagem to have his Devastators fire immediately at the Callidus; I was forced to watch in helpless surprise as my poor Assassin took a lascannon beam and several dozen bolter rounds to the face, killing her in mid-dramatic entrance. Okay, that was just rude.

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In the psychic phase, Greyfax against cast Mental Fortitude on the Sisters on foot. In the shooting phase, the multi-melta Immolator did 3 wounds to the leftmost Razorback, before the Dominions fired and finished it off. As the Tactical Marines bailed out, my centre Immolator then burned down one of them.

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The rest of my shooting in the centre was dismal, however, with my Battle Sisters, Exorcist and characters all managing to do only three wounds to the other Razorback.

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On the right flank, the other Immolator burninated 8 of the last squad of Guardsmen, while the Retributors mowed down the last 2 Tactical Marines. The Dominions then fired on the Contemptor…and only did a dismal 3 wounds to it. The Exorcist was forced to pick up the slack, firing a salvo of missile and blasting off its last wounds. The Exorcist must have hit something vital, though, as the Contemptor proceeded to explode, killing a Geminae and two Dominions, wounding a Sanguinary Guard, the Ancient and the Priest, and most of all, doing 3 wounds to the Knight, bringing it into its second tier of damage! In death, the Contemptor had done far more damage than in life.

Unfortunately for me, in its damaged state the Knight was now hitting on 4s. It unleashed all of its guns on the nearby Sanguinary Guard…and when the dust had cleared, had only killed 3 of them, despite the sheer volume of armour-piercing, multi-damage fire I had thrown their way. For whatever it was worth, Celestine then fired at the Sanguinary Guard and flamed a wound off of one of them.

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In the charge phase, the Knight thundered into the Sanguinary Guard, shrugging off their overwatch, while Celestine charged in as well, before the Sanguinor, Sanguinary Priest and Ancient all heroically intervened. In close combat, the Knight unleashed 12 attacks with his big stompy feet…and whiffed horribly, killing only one of them. Celestine, at least, showed him how it was done, killing three Sanguinary Guard while her Geminae wounded a fourth. In exchange, I was reminded then and there of the Blood Angels’ special rule, which, thanks in part to the Sanguinary Priest, saw them wounding the Knight on 4s (and on 2s with power fists). The Blood Angels tore 8 wounds off of my Knight, leaving it teetering on 4, while the Sanguinor hacked down the last Geminae and did 3 wounds to Celestine.

By the end of combat, my glorious charge had fizzled, and although I had severely reduced the Sanguinary Guard, now I was in very real danger of losing two of my most hard-hitting units. The last two Guardsmen, at least, went poof in the morale phase.

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(Incidentally, one thing I realize that I could have, and probably should have done this phase was to charge the left Dominions into the surviving Razorback or the Rhino. This would not only have given the squad inside less room to disembark, but, in the case of the Razorback, would have kept it from shooting for a turn. That’s hindsight for you).

In the Blood Angel turn, everything withdrew from combat against the Knight except for the Sanguinary Guard, who kept the behemoth locked. The Captain, however, powered up his thunder hammer and flew in to say hi.

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Meanwhile, the Assault Marines flew up to deal with my rightmost Immolator, and in the centre, all of the Blood Angel transports disgorged their contents, flooding the centre of my deployment zone with angry Tactical Marines (including his Luna Wolves squad).

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If that wasn’t enough, the Death Company and Lemartes flew up onto the building overlooking my centre, looking for a potential multi-charge on my strung out Battle Sisters and vehicles. Oh joy.

In the shooting phase, the Tempestor Prime once again ordered Elimination Protocols on the Scions, and combined with the nearby Tactical Squad to plink a few more wounds off of the melta Immolator. The Assault Marines combined their fire with a squad of Devastators to wreck my rightmost Immolator, sending the Battle Sisters inside bailing out. The other squad of Devastators murdered my hapless squad of Dominions on the right flank, while in the centre, massed assault cannons and bolters shredded my other Dominion squad. Plasma and melta fire further damaged my centre-most Immolator, though by some miracle, my central Battle Sister squad only took one casualty. Given the losses my army had just taken, though, that was a small comfort.

In the charge phase, the Captain charged the Knight, while the Sanguinor, thanks to his special rules, charged back into combat with Celestine. In the centre, the Death Company multi-charged my Battle Sisters and melta Immolator, losing one to a heavy flamer and another to multi-meltas along the way, while two Tactical Squads multi-charged the Battle Sisters and my Dialogous. In response, Greyfax heroically intervened against the Death Company, as did the Canoness, though the latter was only able to get into base contact with Lemartes.

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In close combat, the Captain swung out with his thunder hammer and inflicted 12 wounds, horrendously overkilling my poor Knight. Despite my hopes, the big guy did not explode, and thanks to the scenario rules, my opponent immediately gained 8 points for killing my Lord of War. Goodbye, big guy, I only knew you for two turns. (*Sniff*) The Sanguinor, meanwhile, wasted no time chopping poor Celestine down…though thankfully, the Living Saint then magically resurrected all the way on the other side of the battlefield, far out of cheesy Auspex range of the Devastators. (In retrospect, perhaps I should have brought her a bit closer to the big scrum in the centre).

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Finally, in the centre, carnage happened: the Death Company effortlessly smashed apart my Immolator and shredded the remnants of my Battle Sister squad, while the Luna Wolves did 3 wounds to the Sister Dialogous.

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I used a pair of command points to interrupt with the Canoness, eager to test out the Blade of Admonition. The Canoness did 3 wounds to Lemartes…and then my opponent proceeded to make all three of his invulnerable saves, before clubbing four wounds off of my Canoness in turn! Argh! The only highlight of this round was Greyfax, who fearlessly stood her ground and cut down two of the Death Company.

To make a bad turn even worse, at the end of the round, the Death Company consolidated into my other Immolator, leaving it unfortunately unable to shoot next turn. In retrospect, that had been my fault for leaving it so close, but still…argh.

SCORE:
Sisters of Battle- 9
Blood Angels- 15

TURN 3

At the start of my turn, things were looking grim. My Knight was down, I had suffered horrible losses, and while my Battle Sister trap had worked (sort of), I was still falling behind on points. Thankfully, I had plenty of faith points this turn. I had Celestine jump closer towards the centre, ready to join the big mass melee in the centre if need be, while one of her Geminae spontaneously resurrected. I debated healing up the Canoness, but, figuring that she wasn’t going to last long in that big melee anyway, instead had her swing out at the Death Company, hacking down three of the crazed lunatics. Finally, my Retributors fired at the Assault Marines, but only managed to fell one of the Blood Angels.

In the movement phase, I got to do what I was waiting for all game: [dramatic voice]release the Arco-Flagellants![/dramatic voice] The murder-cyborgs and their attendant Priest piled out of their Rhino and moved into charge range of the nicely compressed mass of Blood Angels. Elsewhere, the rightmost Battle Sisters, after losing their Immolator, edged back (hopefully) out of line of sight of the Blood Angels’ guns; the Dominions’ Rhino moved in in turn to shield them. Further near enemy lines, I did some pre-measuring and realized that unfortunately, Celestine wouldn’t make it into the central scrum without a really long charge, one that could potentially leave her exposed to fire from the Devastators. Instead, I flew her and her Geminae up to deal with the rightmost unit of Tactical Marines and their Scion buddies.

Finally, the Dialogous and Immolator withdrew from combat, content to let other people do the punching and the stabbing and whatnot.

In the psychic phase, Greyfax cast Smite and freemed down another three Death Company, leaving just one hammer-wielding psycho left. In the shooting phase, the Retributors again unloaded on the Assault Marines, and mowed down three of them. The two Rhinos then combined fire with their storm bolters, and to my pleasant surprise, blasted down three more! The rightmost Exorcist fired a salvo of missiles at the Sanguinary Guard, blasting apart two of them and leaving just one remaining. Last but not least, the leftmost Exorcist, lacking much else in the way of targets, blew away three Scions, while Celestine pointed with her sword and burninated the fourth.

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Then came the part I had been waiting for: the Arco-Flagellants charged into the Blood Angel Tactical Marines, while elsewhere, Celestine and her Geminae multi-charged both the leftmost Tactical Squad and the Tempestor Prime. In close combat, the Arco-Flagellants went to town, unleashing something like 52 rerollable strength 5 attacks, wiping out one Tactical Squad and reducing the Luna Wolves to just one very shocked Marine. The Canoness, meanwhile, swung again at Lemartes and this time managed to get a hit past his save, dealing 3 wounds to him and leaving him hanging on 1. Lemartes, however, took umbrage to this and proceeded to smash the Canoness down, ending that particular duel. Greyfax did no better, failing to repeat her earlier success and taking 3 wounds from a thunder hammer.

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On the other side of the field, Celestine elegantly hacked down 4 Tactical Marines, before her Geminae stabbed down the fifth. In return, the Tempestor Prime swung wildly with his command rod, but failed to do little more than mildly annoy the Living Saint.

At the end of the turn, the remaining Assault Marines evaporated from morale despite the And They Shall Know No Fear reroll. After consolidation, the last Blood Angels were nicely surrounded– save, that was, for Lemartes, who, now no longer engaged with anyone, was free to consolidate out of combat. I had, for the time being, taken the lead again in points, though retaining that lead would be tricky.

At the start of the Blood Angel turn, I had figured that Celestine was safely out of reach those nasty Blood Angel characters. My opponent proceeded to show me just how wrong I was, though, using the Upon Wings of Fire strategem to teleport his Captain across the board behind Celestine (prompting an “Okay, seriously, what?” from me). Lemartes, meanwhile, flew over the combat to confront Uriah Jacobus, and the last two Tactical Squads moved up towards the central combat. The last Razorback, meanwhile shuffled to get line of site to my disembarked Battle Sisters, and the remaining Blood Angel characters and the last Sanguinary Guard. no doubt wanting to conserve points, flew and hid behind the closest unit of Devastators.

In the shooting phase, the Devastators combined their fire to destroy my Dominions’ Rhino, exposing the Battle Sisters hiding behind it. Said Battle Sisters were then shot at by the Razorback, which did 5 wounds…and I proceeded to fail all 5 saves, wiping out the squad! ARGH! As a painful encore, Lemartes threw a grenade at Uriah and blasted 3 wounds off of him. Oh, well that was just rude.

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In the assault phase, Lemartes charged Uriah, prompting a heroic intervention by the power maul-armed Priest. The Tactical Marines charged the Arco-Flagellants, and the Captain charged Celestine (I think he might have used the Descent of Angels strategem to do so).

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In close combat, Lemartes and Uriah had a nice theological debate, one that ended with Lemartes bludgeoning Uriah into the ground. Vengeance was swift, however, as the angry lesser Priest bludgeoned down Lemartes in turn, putting an end to the crazy Chaplain’s rampage. In the big central combat, meanwhile, the two Tactical Squads combined to smash down one Arco-Flagellant and wound another. In exchange, the Arco-Flagellants went berserk, wiping out one of the new Tactical Squads and killing four from another, leaving one lonely Marine to face them. As an encore, the Priest accompanying the Arcos hacked down the last Luna Wolf with her eviscerator. It was all too late to save Greyfax, though, as she was pasted by the thunder hammer of the last Death Company Marine.

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Finally, in the big title fight, the Captain used the Red Rampage stratagem to gain 8 attacks(!!!!). I braced myself as the Captain inflicted a bucketload of hits and wounds on Celestine. The last Geminae was quickly obliterated, and the tension was palpable as I rolled my saves. Somehow, by some miracle, Celestine weathered the storm of thunder hammer blows, still clinging to one wound. In return, I was faced with a conundrum: whether to have Celestine kill the Tempestor Prime and go for an easy point, or whether to do the cinematic thing and swing back at the Captain. In the end, I decided that an epic clash between heroes like this couldn’t be ignored, and had Celestine direct all of her attacks back at the Captain…only for them to bounce off his storm shield. The Tempestor Prime, meanwhile, whiffed his attacks again.

For a moment, I thought that Celestine was going to survive another round…until my opponent announced he was using the Honour the Chapter stratagem to strike again. This time, there was no miracle of the dice to save me: the Captain swung again, pulverizing the Living Saint with a storm of thunder hammer blows, netting my opponent Slay the Warlord and leaving me cursing his stratagems yet again.

SCORE:
Sisters of Battle- 16
Blood Angels: 21
TURN 4

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At this point, it was getting late, and both my opponent and I agreed that this would be the last turn– which was just as well, since neither of us had much else left on the field. With an abundance of faith points, and no other targets in range, the Retributors fired at the Razorback and plinked one wound off of it. In the movement phase, the last Immolator moved up to threaten the Tempestor and Captain, though I had completely forgotten to disembark the Battle Sisters still inside. Everything else at this point was staying put, was locked in combat, or was dead.

In the shooting phase, the Retributors and rightmost Exorcist combined their fire and did 4 more wounds to the Razorback, but it was still left hanging on 3. The Immolator tried to burninate the Tempestor Prime so that the leftmost Exorcist could have a shot at the Captain…only to discover that I was well out of range. Once again, in typical me fashion, I had forgotten to advance and shoot with the Immolator. Out of sheer spite, the leftmost Exorcist fired at the Tempestor, obliterating him and his impressive moustache in a volley of missiles.

Close combat was a short and sweet affair, with the Arco-Flagellants massacring both the last Tactical Marine and the last Death Company dude before consolidating upwards, the two Priests taking shelter behind the wall of chem-induced murder cyborgs.

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In the Blood Angels turn, the Razorback angled back a little to get full line of sight on my Arco-Flagellants, while the Captain flew up to confront my squad of psychos in what promised to be the title fight of the game. Everything else in the Blood Angel army stayed put.

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In the shooting phase, the Razorback, Rhino and Devastators all opened fire on my Arco-Flagellants. Despite being two wounds each, the Arcos’ meagre toughness of 3 and 5+ save showed just how vulnerable they were to shooting, as little by little they were whittled down. By the end of the shooting phase, the Arco-Flagellants were wiped out entirely, earning the Blood Angels another kill point and removing the only unit left that could have feasibly stopped that Captain.

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In close combat, the Captain charged the eviscerator-armed Priest (again, he might have used Descent of Angels to do so), prompting the maul-armed Priest to heroically intervene. In the last, epic close combat of the game, the first Priest revved up her eviscerator…and was mercilessly swatted aside by the Captain. In response, her fellow Priestess lunged, dealing three wounds with her power maul…and, anticlimactically, the Captain saved all three. Darn.

And with that, the game was over…

END GAME:
Sisters of Battle: 19
Blood Angels: 24
RESULT: BLOOD ANGEL VICTORY!

Thoughts: HAH! Unbeknownst to my opponent, my true objective this whole time was to kill his squad of Luna Wolves! With that done, the true heretics have been destroyed, the timeline has been corrected and victory is mine! Right? No? Okay…

Holy crap, though, what a game! It had been ages since my last large-scale game, and I had quite forgotten how destructive they could be. The amount of firepower we were trading back and forth and the sparse amount of terrain meant that a lots of units on both sides were dying fairly regularly. Despite my loss, it was a thrilling game, and I am rather amazed to see that, despite my blundering, I had managed to make the score so close at the end.

So, quick thoughts and lessons on that game:

-I wasted my Seraphim early on. I had some vague idea of using them to tie up the enemy flank and harass the enemy backfield; in retrospect, maybe I was remembering how I used them in prior editions, when they could either turn their saves invulnerable or have Celestine tank damage for them, and were a bit more durable.

-In general, I went into this game without any sort of plan, and it didn’t help that I had more or less forgotten about the Blood Angels’ rules and stratagems going into this battle (or blissfully forgot them after my opponent gave me a quick explanation before the game). As such, I was completely at a loss on how to deal with things like, say, the Blood Angels wounding my Knight on 4s, or Slamguinius pulling off his teleporting trick, or Devastators countering my Callidus so easily.

-The big 15-girl unit of Battle Sisters isn’t really that effective an anvil unit, as despite its large size, it will take casualties far too quickly. Even with their 3+ saves, they are still only toughness 3, and will still suffer heavy losses to dedicated firepower. Unsurprisingly, there was little left of the unit by the time the Death Company came steamrolling in. Even so, my tactic of using them as an anvil/bait worked (sort of), as it ended up drawing a lot of his units into Marine-munching range of my Arco-Flagellants.

-My Callidus Assassin was wasted going after the Devastators; had I remembered the Auspex Scan stratagem, I would have instead had her show up in a remote part of the battlefield and instead use her Reign of Confusion ability to force my opponent to spend more command points; given how many CPs his Captain was going through in the later stages of the game, I think this would have been a much wiser and much more effective use for her.

-The Knight was fantastic…until it wasn’t. I think after that first turn where the Knight’s firepower obliterated two units at once, I got overconfident with him and charged him headlong into the Sanguinary Guard death star. To be fair, the exploding Contemptor knocking the Knight into a damaged state probably was the main reason why he failed as much as he did, and if he had still been in his top damage tier, I feel he would have done a lot more damage thanks to hitting on 3s. My opponent suggested that in this game, I probably would have been better hanging back with the Knight and using his firepower to the fullest, and using a Knight Crusader build (gatling and battle cannon) instead. I don’t disagree, the extra firepower would have been nice, so maybe I should start getting some of the Knight’s other weapon arms assembled and painted. Regardless, the Knight was another classic example of me playing far too recklessly in this game– against Blood Angels, a more cautious play style is needed, I think.

-The Arco-Flagellants, as always, were amazing, and their timely counter-attack nearly swung the game around for me. My opponent admitted that he had charged his Tactical Squads into them to protect his Razorback, but in my opinion, all he did was exchange one kill point for two, especially since my Arcos gain rerolls to hit again when they are charged. Easily, they were my MVPs in this battle.

-My opponent’s army build has inspired me to consider an allied Astra Militarum detachment for my own army. Although his Guardsmen died in droves, their very presence gave my opponent yet more Command Points that he used to excellent effect (especially in the later stages of the game, when his Captain started going Super Saiyan).

-At present, I really have few counters to enemy stratagems, save to hope that they fail or to hope that my units can survive them. Hopefully, when Chapter Approved 2018 comes out, the Adepta Sororitas will have some updated stratagems of their own to help them compete.

Also, some rules mistakes I made in the game:

-For some reason, I had thought that the Knight’s ion shield applied in close combat as well as shooting. Thankfully, it didn’t matter too much at the end, as it got pulverized in close combat anyway.

Despite the loss, it was an incredibly fun game, and my opponent was equally fun to play against. I look forward to the rematch…or hopefully fighting alongside the Blood Angels, rather than being shredded by them, in a proper multi-player Apocalypse game…

Roboute Guilliman could only shake his head in disbelief.

It had only been half an hour since he had personally intervened with a combined force of Ultramarines and Custodes, descending from near orbit to put a stop to this madness after his repeated voxes to both sides fell on deaf ears. His very presence had been enough to put an end to the fighting, however, the warring Imperial factions settng down their weapons at the sight of the Emperor’s Son descending in full glory from the ramp of his Thunderhawk. In that instant, all involved seemed to have realized the terrible folly they had committed. By that time, though, the damage had already been done: the battlefield was strewn with smoking wrecks and the bodies of Astartes, Sororitas and Guardsmen alike. In the distance he could see a stricken Knight, slumped over as though slumbering, its head and cockpit section smashed open like an egg. 

So much senseless death and destruction, wrought between loyal Imperial servants…and for what? This could not have simply been caused by the gene-induced madness of the Storm Angels or the unrestrained zeal of the Order of the Blessed Damsel. No, there was something else at work here.

As he stared at the devastation, he heard the approach of Felix, his trusted equerry. “The survivors have been separated, my lord,” the Primaris Captain said with a curt bow. “They are each petitioning for your clemency, asking for chances at forgiveness and redemption. As for the signal we detected on the ship…we have traced it back to the original sender.”

Slowly, Guilliman turned away from the quiet scene of destruction to face Felix, nodding for his equerry to continue.

“It was as you suspected, my lord,” Felix went on. “The transmission was a genuine Inquisitorial order, transmitted to both sides with full data-encryptions, each ordering one group to attack or support the other. It was sent from orbit, and luckily we apprehended the sender before he could escape. As per your instructions, we have brought him here for you to question personally.”

At this, Felix stood aside, and two more Primaris Ultramarines strode up in his wake. Between them they held a thin, squirming figure, clad in a fine greatcoat and wearing an amulet fashioned in a stylized letter I around his neck.

Guilliman’s face darkened as he took a step towards the captive, recognizing the man from among the hundreds of Throne agents attached to the Crusade. He let his shadow fall across the squirming man as he allowed the sheer enormity of his size to become apparent to this mortal captive. “Inquisitor Krane,” the Primarch intoned. “As I recall, you were assigned to provide orbital surveillance and intelligence for the cleansing of Desolation Row.” He gestured outwards to the scene of devastation behind him. “I can see you provided much more than that. Would you care to explain all of this?”

Krane quivered. He was an Inquisitor, which by definition meant that he had a discipline and a willpower greater than that of most regular men,  but all of this melted in the face of the angry war-god that stood before him. “M-my lord, my actions were just!” Krane stammered. “The Storm Angels are heretics and madmen! They needed to be destroyed before they could endanger the crusade! I have proof!”

“If you had proof, then you would have brought it to me directly,” Guilliman growled, the very words shutting Krane up. “But instead, you ordered both the Storm Angels and the Sisters to attack one another. This is a slaughter of your own making, Krane, and it was done deliberately.” His right hand curled into a fist, lightning hissing around the Hand of Dominion. “One way or another, Krane, you will tell me the truth. Who are you working for? Who are your real masters…Inquisitor?”

For a few seconds, Krane seemed dumbfounded, his mouth gaping uselessly as he tried to answer the Lord Commander of the Imperium. Then, abruptly, his expression changed, his panic sliding into an icy calm and his wavering mouth stiffening into a satisfied half-smile. Whatever persona he had been adopting before had dropped like a mask sliding off.

“Your brother says hello, Roboute,” Krane said. “He has missed you. He wants to continue what the two of you began at Espandor.”

Guilliman stiffened in recognition of the name of that world. If his expression had been one of dark fury before, now it cooled into guarded, expressionless ice.  “My brother is dead,” he said slowly. “I killed him myself.”

At this, Krane’s smile seemed to widen a little. “Hydra Dominatus,” he said.

And with that, he suddenly shook violently and then slumped over in the grip of his Primaris guards. Guilliman’s enhanced ears heard Krane’s heart stifle and stop as whatever meme-induced kill command he had triggered took effect, snuffing his life out instantly.

Exhaling slowly, Roboute motioned for the Primaris to take the body away. Slowly, he turned back to the battlefield, only now seeing it for what it truly was. This had not been an accident, or a miscommunication, or even a battle in any sense of the word. No, this had been a message.

This was just the beginning…

It is finally happening…

So, in advance of Adepticon, Games Workshop dropped this shameless little tease…

Fortune Favours the Faithful

(A minute of hyperventilation later) Okay, so some quick takeaways from this:

  1. Apparently, every single Sister of Battle player (or person who just wants to see them in plastic) relentlessly trolling GW on their Facebook page and on their customer survey worked.
  2. They will be released sometime next year.
  3. Up until that point, they will be posting updates and teaser images. To quote the GW site directly:

We know many of you have been waiting patiently (and impatiently…) for a long time for the Adepta Sororitas, and that for many of you this is more than ‘just’ a new army. So, we’re going to do something we’ve never done before – right up until the release, we’ll be bringing you updates on the Sisters of Battle, sharing images and snippets of info and a whole ton of behind the scenes goodness.

Emperor willing, the Battle Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas will be ready to take the fight to the renegade, the heretic and the unbeliever in 2019.

Also, confirmed by Bell of Lost Souls:

8:46 – Chapter Approved 2018 will contain beta rules for plastic Sisters of Battle.

This means updates to the rules well in advance of new models. So, overall, between a new Drukhari Codex around the corner and Sisters rules updates, both my main armies are going to get hefty updates.

It’s going to be a long year.

Your Army, Your Story: Representing Other T’au Septs

(Artist unknown)

 

The release of the new T’au Empire codex has heralded one significant change that T’au players are no doubt talking a lot about by now: sub-faction rules. Just as there are unique rules for Space Marine chapters, Tyranid Hive Fleets and even Adeptus Mechanicus Forge Worlds, there are now rules for T’au Septs– specifically for T’au Prime, Vior’la, Sa’cea, Dal’yth, Bork’an and (even though they’re not a sept) the Farsight Enclaves. For a lot of T’au players, this is great news…if you happen to play any of those septs that is.

Though the septs that GW used in its new book are most of the “original” sept worlds from the First Sphere Expansion, there are still dozens of others– by my count, there are some 37 T’au sept worlds, colonies, and other named planets listed on Lexicanum. True, it is impossible for rules to be made for all of those planets (especially since a large chunk of them don’t even have explanations attached), but it does raise a valid question: what is a T’au player to do if he/she’s army, fluffwise, is from one of those worlds not covered by GW’s list?

The answer, obviously, is aside from making house rules (which is generally difficult to get other people to agree to unless you know them personally), you will need to pick one of the rules for the “official” septs to count as your own. Hence the purpose of this (hopefully) helpful little guide, wherein I will be going over the T’au septs and colony worlds not covered by the new codex, and making suggestions on which septs to use to represent them, along with thematic units that you can use and, if you want to go down that route, possible house rules you can use to further represent your unique sept.

Please note: I am not a T’au player, and my knowledge of the lore can hardly be perfect. This article is just a list of suggestions, not recommendations, to help you decide on how to best represent your own T’au sept. At the end of the day, it’s your army, and ultimately it is your decision to choose whichever sept rules you want, for whichever reasons.

 

Other T’au Septs:

Au’taal– a beautiful, verdant resort planet where T’au elder heroes live in retirement under heavily armed guard. That’s right, it’s an army that hails from a what is essentially a planet-wide veteran’s hall or retirement home.

Recommended Sept: T’au- Given that the Fire Warriors on Au’taal serve a primary protective role, it makes sense that their fighting style would match that of T’au Prime, with a heavy emphasis on overwatch.

Recommended Units: Not a unit per se, but any character with the Puretide Engram Neurochip would make hilarious sense in an Au’taal army. I can just imagine Puretide’s AI persona commiserating with the retirees about the “good old days” and about how the current generation is getting everything all wrong, while the Au’taal Fire Warriors maintain the same cheerful persona you see in retirement home workers everywhere.

 

D’yanoia sept world that was isolated for the longest time, D’yanoi’s people have a long history of surviving on their own, whether it be in fending off their planet’s dangerous wildlife, or in defeating repeated Ork invasions. Despite this hardiness, the D’yanoi are nonetheless seen as backwards and rustic by their fellow T’au. Interestingly, their closest neighbouring system is the home of the Vespid.

Recommended Sept: Dal’yth, Sa’cea or T’au– Dal’yth could be an interesting stand-in for D’yanoi, as their boosts to cover can be used to represent the D’yanoi’s survival instincts and ability to use natural terrain and cover to their advantage. The fact that the Dal’yth warlord trait gives the For the Greater Good ability to Vespid and Kroot can also be used to represent the D’yanoi’s close proximity to Vespid.

Alternatively, the D’yanoi are described as having fended off the native beasts of their homeworld with a cadre of “disciplined” Fire Warriors. In that respect, Sa’cea or T’au could work well to represent a tough, disciplined army that is used to fighting and surviving on their own with minimal support.

Recommended Units: Given the description of D’yanoi as a formerly isolated world, I imagine that they would have an experienced corps of Pathfinders on hand. And, again, their close proximity to Vespid means that it would make sense for them to have some of these bug friends around as well.

 

Elys’eir a sept known for its “poetry, artistry and creativeness,” which regularly produces battlesuits for the Fire Caste and house the main production facilities for the Riptide.

Recommended Sept: Bork’an– Bork’an is for all intents and purposes an Earth Caste development world which, like Elys’eir, is innovative in their creation of new technology, and mass produces weapons and arms for the Empire . Thematically, Bork’an’s rules seem like a natural fit for this sept world.

Alternative House Rule: The Elys’eir appear to specialize in battlesuit production, so one rule you could adopt is one similar to that of the Iyandan Eldar and Valhallan Guard, where large suits like Riptides or Ghostkeels count their remaining wounds as double for the purpose of determining if their characteristics are reduced– although this essentially becomes a permanent, army-wide version of the Stimulant Injector stratagem. Alternatively, you could adopt a rule giving all Elys’eir Battlesuits the ability to ignore wounds on a 6+ to represent their superior construction.

Recommended Units: As the sept world that primarily produces them, Elys’eir army obviously should have at least one Riptide. Really, though, any Battlesuits of any kind would be right at home in an Elys’eir list.

 

Fal’shiaA world closely aligned with the Earth Caste, the T’au of Fal’shia are known for their artisans and problem-solvers, and their Fire Warriors quite often are given prototype weapons and armour to field-test (despite occasional malfunctions).

Recommended Sept: Bork’an or Sa’cea- Bork’an is, like Elys’eir, a natural fit to represent Fal’shia. Like Fal’shia, Bork’an is known for its close alignment with the Earth Caste and its fine quality weapons, so the Bork’an rules would do well to represent an army arrayed with sophisticated or even experimental weapons. Alternatively, though, if you want to emphasize the fact that the Fal’shians are craftsmen as opposed to engineers, you could give them the Sa’cea rules, as the reroll each unit gets can be used to represent “masterworked weapons” in the same way that the Salamanders’ (very similar) Chapter trait does.

Alternative House Rule: Instead of using Sa’cea, you could shamelessly steal borrow the Salamanders’ chapter tactic in it’s entirety, allowing one failed to hit roll and to wound roll each turn for each squad.

Recommended Units: While not a unit per se, a Fal’shia army should, ideally, have as many esoteric weapons as possible, whether it be unique weapons for its characters or fancy upgrades for its vehicles and basic squads.

 

Fi’rios -The site of many early victories during the Third Phase of Expansion, and a legitimate T’au success story, having grown over time from a small colony to a major fortress world. The T’au of Fi’rios are known for their tenacity and their stubborn refusal to admit defeat, and a willingness to sacrifice their lives for the Greater Good.

Recommended Sept: Sa’cea- Sa’cea seems to be a perfect fit for Fi’rios, as the army-wide +1 LD and the buff against morale losses given by their Warlord trait seem to adequately represent the Fi’riosans’ refusal to give ground.

 

 

K’si’m’yen  –A former human world with a sizeable population of Gue’vesa, K’si’m’yen is a world that was conquered by stealth and by guile, and its T’au are often associated with ” luck, subtlety, and oppourtunistic subterfuge.” This author can also personally attest that its name is an aggravating one to type.

Recommended Sept: Dal’yth or Sa’cea- Dal’yth is by far the “sneakiest” of the T’au sept rules, given its army-wide cover bonuses, so it seems like a natural fit for Ksi…K’sim….Ksisi….aargh. Alternatively, Sa’cea and its rerolls can be used to represent the Sept world’s emphasis on luck.

Recommended Units: Stealth suits, Ghostkeels and Pathfinders are all units that emphasize K’si’m’yen’s reputation for subtlety and sneakiness. Due to the planet’s large human population, you could also try to represent Gue’vesa in some fashion. One way could just be to use them as regular Fire Warriors, and do a bits swap between Fire Warriors and Guardsmen to model them.

Alternative House Rules: The Gue’vesa, and how to model and use them, have been a subject of long discussion within the T’au player community. Though they at one point had rules in Chapter Approved back in the 2000s and, much later, in Imperial Armour Volume Three, both rule sets are horribly outdated and no longer legal. If you go searching for house rules on them, you may find several versions and attempts, ranging from single squads or even entire army lists for them. A simple yet effective house rule may be to allow you to take Astra Militarum Infantry squads as Troops, and/or Veteran squads as Elites, provided you do not have more of them than you have Fire Warriors. Alternatively, just take an Astra Militarum detachment in your list.

Some existing Gue’vesa house rules, either for you to try, or to get ideas from:

Codex: Tau Auxiliaries (4chan)

Gue’vesa Auxiliaries (DakkaDakka)

 

Kel’shan– it sucks to live on Kel’shan. This sept world has had the misfortune of being subject to numerous alien raids and attacks throughout it’s history, including a major Tyranid invasion that was immediately followed by an Imperial one. Because of this, the Kel’shan are openly suspicious of (if not outright hostile to) all aliens.

Recommended Sept: Sa’cea, Vior’la, T’au, Farsight Enclaves– little is known culturally or militarily about the Kel’shan, aside from their hostility to all non-T’au. Based on this, I figure that any of the more “militant” septs (Ie T’au, Vior’la, Sac’ea, the Farsight Enclaves) could be used to represent them, especially since it stands to reason that, after suffering so many attacks, they would have a fairly large and battle-ready Fire Caste force.

 

N’dras – a fairly isolated Sept, the world was, for unknown reasons, voluntarily abandoned by its inhabitants. This may be partly due to something wrong with the world itself, as the local Earth Caste report strange readings emanating from the planet. A small outpost of the Earth Caste remain on the planet, alongside a garrison of Fire Warriors, and this small population of N’dras are regarded as being “untrustworthy and are generally of quick temper and of brooding countenance.” Interestingly, the local Earth Caste’s role may have something to do with battlesuit development and/or stealth technology, as it was on an outpost near N’dras that the Ghostkeel was first tested. Indeed, the first Ghostkeel suits were named “the Ghosts of N’dras.”

Recommended Sept: Vior’la, Farsight Enclaves, Dal’yth- There is, unfortunately, not much to go on about N’dras save for its mysterious nature, the Earth Caste work there and the quick-tempered nature of its people. Based on this quick temper alone, though, one of the more aggressive septs like Vior’la or the Farsight Enclaves might work for an N’dras army. Alternatively, given the history of N’dras Ghostkeels doing covert operations, and given that the sept paint scheme appears to be black armour and blue camouflage, Dal’yth could be used for this secretive sept as well.

Alternative House Rules: You could give army-wide stealth fields to all infantry (but not battlesuits) at something like +5 or +10 points per model, or alternatively a rule similar to Alaitoc where enemies firing at long range suffer -1 to hit them.

Recommended Units: Given the above information about the “Ghosts of N’dras,” Ghostkeels and Stealth suits seem liked a natural fit for an N’dras force.

 

Tash’var– Tash’var is a frontier world that, like Kel’shan, has been subjected to numerous alien raids and attacks, and has repelled each one. Because of this, the people of Tash’var have gained a reputation for “courage, practicality and hardiness.”

Recommended Sept: Sa’cea– Just as with Fi’rious, the Sa’cea rules (and the +1 LD buff they provide) can be used to represent the people of Tash’var’s famed courage and tenacity.

Recommended Units: The article on Tash’var mentions that they have some of the finest Breacher teams and Razorshark pilots in the whole of the T’au Empire. As such, including either such unit would be nice and thematic for a Tash’var army.

 

T’olku– Not much is known about this Sept, save that it is “home to many large Ethereal temples.”

Recommended Sept: T’au or Sa’cea– If, indeed, the above description means that T’olku is an Ethereal-heavy world, then the Fire Warriors of a world like T’olku would most likely be there to guard the resident Ethereals, and would take such a duty with solemn seriousness. As such, they can be represented by the T’au rules (to represent their defensive nature), or the Sa’cea rules represent their high morale, their disicipline and their unwillingness to retreat while the Ethereals are in danger.

Recommended Units: Obviously, at least one Ethereal would be needed in an army from T’olku.

 

Vash’ya  –This world is closely aligned with the Air Caste, with a large number of pilots and starship crews coming from Vash’ya. It also seems to serve as a major dockyard for the Kor’vattra.

Recommended Sept: Vior’la or Farsight Enclaves- Given how their world is closely aligned with the Air Caste, I would imagine that the T’au of Vash’ya rely a lot on airborne deployment and rapid movement. As such, I think that the advance-and-shoot abilities of the Vior’la would be thematic for them, as would the close-ranged abilities of the Farsight Enclaves– in particular, I see the Enclaves warlord trait as being particularly thematic for air-deployed battlesuits.

Recommended Units: Aircraft, obviously– Razorsharks, Sunsharks, and/or possibly even Forge World units. Things like Manta deployed Battlesuits and Devilfish-mounted Fire Warriors would also be thematic. Essentially, as I see it, a Vash’ya army would have as few models actually walking as possible. There is mention in the current codex also of Vash’ya repelling a Hrud invasion with Drones and remote-controlled Battlesuits as well. Finally, given that the planet seems to be a base for the Kor’vattra, I can see Breacher teams being a thematic choice, given that the Fire Caste of Vash’ya would no doubt be trained in boarding actions and ship to ship combat.

 

 

Nem’yar Atoll- The newest addition to the T’au Empire, the Nem’yar Atoll is a fortified region of space settled by the Fourth Sphere Expansion, which sits on a strategic position around the wormhole known as the Startide Nexus. Although the Nem’yar Atoll consists of three Sept worlds, given that their military or culture are barely described, I will be treating the Nem’yar Atoll as a single Sept for the purpose of this entry. Aside from its location near a wormhole, the Nem’yar Atoll is noteworthy for mining dark matter (because apparently you can mine black holes?), having a planet that is worryingly disc-shaped, and currently being under major attack by the Death Guard.

Recommended Sept: Vior’la, Sa’cea, T’au, Farsight Enclaves- What is known about the military of the Nem’yar Atoll is that they are almost under constant assault by aliens, raiders, etc. More worrisome is the back story behind the Fourth Sphere Expanion– of how they were effectively lost in the warp, and of how they escaped with the aid of a “nightmarish entity,”  which could be anything from a Daemon Prince to even one of the Chaos Gods. What’s worse is that the T’au of the Fourth Sphere Expansion have a dark reputation for committing atrocities, massacring their own auxiliaries, and having a xenophobic streak a mile wide. I personally think that, like with Kel’shan, any of the more “militant” septs can represent the Fourth Sphere’s brutal nature, but realistically any of the sept rules would do, I think.

Recommended Units: Any T’au units would work well for a  Nem’yar Atoll army, but it is worth noting that the world of Kor’tal’s dark matter mining operations are essential for the creation of Nova reactors, so a Riptide would be right at home in such an army. Also, because of the Fourth Sphere Expansion’s unpleasant history with non-T’au, there would have to be a thematic exlusion of Kroot or Vespid.

Alternate House Rules: The Nem’yar Atoll and its inhabitants are a recent addition to the background, and I am sure it will be a subject of much storyline treatment and discussion to come. In particular, there is already some discussion as to whether the survivors of the Fourth Sphere Expansion are, in fact, Chaos T’au. How you choose to interpret this is up to you, but this certainly does potentially open the doors to house-ruling T’au with psychic powers or daemonic allies.

 

Bonus: Multi-Sept Force– Some T’au players have, for a while now, been fielding their T’au armies as being drawn from a variety of septs instead of just one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and, indeed, the T’au fluff for the longest time has done nothing to discourage that. Now, however, the current T’au codex is more or less expecting T’au players to choose a single sept under whose banner, colours and rules their force will operate.

Recommended Sept: ANY– Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s your choice of which rules you want to use for your army, and for whichever reason. Maybe you will choose a particular sept rule because it fits with your army’s battlefield role in fluff (ie, Dal’yth for a reconnaissance force, T’au for a garrison, Farsight Enclaves for an orbital insertion force, etc). Maybe you will simply choose the sept rule that you find the most competetive. Maybe you will try multiple detachments from multiple septs to represent the multilateral nature of your force. At the end of the day, there really are no limits to what you can choose to do.

Batrep #3: Raid on the Black Mountain

(Original art by Games Workshop, colourist unknown)

 

Zhirae, Succubus of the Cult of Spite, exalted in the feeling of the wind whipping through her red braids as her Raider screamed across the flatlands, followed closely by flocks of Venoms, Reavers and Ravagers and other skycraft. Her raiding host was in motion, a fleet of flinty grey dagger-shapes speeding above the surface of this world like loosed arrows homing in on the soft flesh of a target. The world itself was a flat, ugly black rock, with a landscape of dry canyons, plains of barren earth and rising outcroppings of sandstone and basalt. There seemed to be nothing alive here– nothing that she could hunt, nothing that she could kill. It was oddly peaceful and tranquil– which made Zhirae hate it all the more.

Normally, she would never have even bothered leading a raid here, out into the middle of nowhere, but her patron, Lord Scyrex of the Revenant Shroud, had personally sent her on this mission. And in the distance, she could see their target approaching, closer and closer– a steep, slope-sided mountain, seemingly formed from black marble, its sides smooth and unblemished. At a cursory glance, the black mountain might have seemed to be a wondrous, if wholly natural, phenomenon. Zhirae knew better.

Soon, there would be battle. Her fingers closed against the handles of her blades in anticipation  of the slaughter to come. She could feel the palpable excitement of her Wych sisters alongside her in the Raider…but one other passenger was less than enthusiastic.

“Try not to cause too much collateral damage in your enthusiasm, Zhirae,” her sister by blood, Zhael, said with her usual icy aloofness as she absent-mindedly checked her nails. “Lord Scyrex will be disappointed if you accidentally break what he asked us to retrieve.”

Zhirae’s perfect lips twisted in an annoyed frown as she turned to her sister. “If you’re afraid of things getting rough, then why are you sharing a berth on my Raider, with my Cult?” she retorted. “Go on one of the other transports and sip wine with your Kabalite friends if you’d rather not get dirt all over that fancy dress of yours.” At this, her Wyches cackled in approval at their leader’s remark.

As usual, Zhael didn’t rise to the bait. She was, as ever, ice to Zhirae’s fire. “Lord Scyrex may have given you command of this raid,” she said, barely keeping her disapproval of this fact hidden, “but he appointed me to keep you in line, and to remind you of your objectives.” The ghost of a smirk could be seen on her alabaster face. “Of course, if it were down to me, I’d leave you to your own devices and watch  you explain your failure to him in person.”

For what felt like the millionth time, Zhirae suppressed the urge to stab her sister– not that the two hadn’t crossed blades hundreds of times before. Unlike Zhirae, Zhael had never joined the Wych Cult, choosing instead a path of subtlety and political machinations over  that of the blade. At this time, she was a high ranking Archon in the Kabal of the Revenant Shroud, and didn’t hide the fact that she was aiming for the position of Hierarch, the second-hand woman to Lord Scyrex himself– a title that Zhirae herself coveted.

A prominent Archon and the leader of an allied Wych Cult, both on the same Raider, both on the same realspace raid, both vying for power. Even an idiot could see that Lord Scyrex was testing them to see which of them would be worthy of being his right hand. Perhaps he even expected only one of them to return.

“You know I’m going to kill you one day, sister,” Zhirae muttered.

Zhael’s smirk widened. “You keep saying that, dear sister,” she said, “but you never succeed.”

Zhirae smirked back at her. “And neither do you.”

Whatever retort Zhael was going to issue was lost, as at that moment, the horizon was lit up with green radiance.

Shouts and cries of alarm went up as the raiding craft all took evasive maneuvers. Running to the prow of her Raider, Zhirae brought bone-carved telescope to her eye and stared down its length. She was greeted by a sight that sent involuntary chills down her spine. Skeletal, metallic figures were suddenly appearing before the mountain, winking into existence in flashes of sickly green light. As she watched, dozens of the figures were soon standing in rank after rank in front of the mountain, wielding rifles that crackled with viridian power. Around them buzzed dark, insectoid shapes, the occasional glint of nature betraying their artificial nature.

But that was nothing compared to the thing that appeared at the heart of this force. Hovering in the middle of the metallic warriors was a swirling mass of darkness, a writhing pulsar of shadow that seemed to suck in the sparse light of the grey world. As the raiding host drew closer, Zhirae could see other details in that mass of shadow– an umbral robe that writhed as though alive, a towering, emaciated body like that of a victim of famine, and a great scythe, the sight of which sent ripple of unspeakable terror through her soul.

Lord Scyrex had warned them that they would face resistance, but this…this was Death itself.

Zhael strode up next to her on the prow of the Raider. “Having second thoughts, sister?” she purred with a smile.

Zhirae flashed an angry look at her sister. “Hardly,” she snarled, before turning drawing her glaive. “All craft, attack! Let’s show these soulless things the true meaning of death!”

 

I while back, I broke my Dark Eldar (or Drukhari, or however you want to call them now) out of stasis and took them down to my LGS. I had arranged to meet another new-ish player for a game, and had agreed to a 1500 point battle between my Drukhari and his Necrons. We figured that this would be a decent matchup, given that we were both fielding Index armies and were both still learning the wonders and intricacies of 8th edition.

The scenario was No Mercy, Dawn of War deployment, and I had brought the following:

 

DRUKHARI BATTALION DETACHMENT:

Succubus- Parasite’s Kiss, Archite glaive, Blade Dancer

Archon- blast pistol, agonizer, phantasm grenade launcher

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

8 Wyches- hydra gauntlet, Hekatrix w. agonizer

-Raider- dark lance

10 Mandrakes

6 Reaver Jetbikes- 2 grav talons

Ravager- 3 dark lances

Razorwing Jetfighter- 2 disintegrators

 

This list is fairly similar to what I ran back in 6th and 7th edition, with two new additions in the form of the Mandrakes and the Reavers, both of which I wanted to test out. Please note that I am in the process of painting over a lot of new minis for this army, so I apologize in advance for some of the unpainted or partly-painted models you’ll see in this game.

 

My opponent, meanwhile, brought:

 

NECRON BATTALION DETACHMENT:

Overlord- Staff of Light, resurrection orb, Enduring Will

Lord- Staff of Light

Cryptek

20 Necron Warriors

20 Necron Warriors

10 Immortals- gauss blasters

Shard of the Nightbringer- Antimatter Meteor

6 Canoptek Scarabs Swarms

6 Canoptek Scarabs Swarms

3 Canoptek Wraiths

 

DEPLOYMENT:

I set up my army with my Wyches, Succubus and Archon deploying together in a Raider on the right flank, along with the Reavers. My aim at the time was to use the two units as a hard flanking punch. In the centre I put two Venoms and the Ravager so that I could get some shooting done as soon as possible.

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Meanwhile, on the left flank, I placed another Venom and the Razorwing. (Note, all of the infantry models you see there are either in reserve or mounted on vehicles) The Mandrakes, meanwhile, went into reserve, waiting quietly in their shadow-dimension.

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The Necrons, meanwhile, deployed with their Warriors and forming a semicircle around their Overlord and Cryptek. The Immortals and Lord went on the left flank, the Wraiths on the right, and the Scarabs occupied a flank each.

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Going into this battle, my plan was to isolate and destroy his units one by one with overwhelming firepower and assault. I figured that the only way to counteract his Resurrection Protocols was to wipe his units out before they had a chance to resurrect.

I won the roll off…and for some reason chose to go second. I think at the time I wanted him to get closer before I sprang my assault units on him.

 

TURN 1

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The Necrons began their turn with everything advancing. The Wraiths zoomed up ahead of the Necron phalanx, while the Scarab Swarms skirted up the flanks. The only unit that did not advance was the leftmost blob of Warriors, which levelled their gauss rifles and zapped a wound off of one of my Venoms at extreme range.

In response, I was left with a conundrum. My original plan had been to zoom aggressively down the right flank with my Wyches and Reavers, but now he had his Warriors on that flank nicely screened by Scarabs. At best, I would wipe the Scarabs out only for the Warriors to shoot me up in the following turn, at worst the Scarabs would survive and retreat, and my Wyches would be shot up anyway.

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Instead I moved my Wych Raider and Reavers up towards the centre, biding my time and keeping them there for when the Necrons inevitably crept closer. The rest of my forces angled around a little as I brought every gun I could to bear on the Wraiths– I needed to destroy those things quickly, or they would tear apart whatever they charged.

In the shooting phase, almost my entire army unloaded into the Wraiths– save for my Razorwing, that was, which split its fire between the Wraiths and the leftmost Scarabs. A storm of splinter and darklight fire lashed out at the insubstantial killers, but when it cleared, one Wraith was still standing (floating?) on two wounds. My Razorwing’s missiles had also managed to kill two Scarab bases and put a wound on another, but I had really been hoping to kill off those Wraiths early on– even a single, wounded Wraith could cause me problems if left alone.

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SCORE:

Drukhari- 0

Necrons- 0

 

TURN 2

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Once again, the Necrons marched onwards, with the Scarabs advancing up to hopefully threaten my skimmers next turn and the lone Wraith diving headlong towards my massed vehicles. The Necron infantry, in turn, edged up, many now getting into long range of my nimble skimmers. Ahead of them, the Shard of the Nightbringer floated, gazing ominously at the assembled Drukhari.

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A nearby Primaris Marine spectates, often quipping about the superiority of Mankind and how cheesy the Necrons are.

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In the shooting phase, the central block of Warriors, hitting on 2’s thanks to their nearby Overlord, unloaded on my wounded Venom and stripped it of all 5 remaining wounds, wrecking it for First Blood! One Kabalite was wounded in the destruction, but thankfully, he passed his 6+ save from Power from Pain. The rightmost Warriors, thankfully, were out of range, but the Nightbringer unleashed an Antimatter Meteor at another Venom, blasting a wound off of it. It also unleashed its Gaze of Death at it, but scored no damage. Finally, the Immortals fired their gauss blasters up at my Razorwing, blasting 2 wounds off of it despite the -1 to hit modifier.

In the charge phase, the last Wraith lunged at the recently disembarked Warriors, who stood and shot in overwatch. By some miracle, the blaster hit and wounded…and then the Wraith failed its invulnerable save, even with a command point reroll! I proceeded to roll a 2 on the blaster’s damage, and the Wraith was vaporized as it tried to charge in. Needless to say, both my opponent and I were quite stunned by this.

In my turn, I realized that I had to go on the offensive now, especially since the Necrons would be getting into rapid fire range soon. With this in mind, I summoned the Mandrakes over from Aelindrach, and, after much deliberation, brought them in near the Immortals.

No, that’s not an empty base. That particular Mandrake is just really well camouflaged.

The Razorwing also flew over towards the Immortals that had so rudely shot at it at turn before, while the Wyches and characters disembarked and headed towards the Nightbringer. I really wanted to charge the Warriors behind the C’tan, but with it blocking the way, I knew the best I could do would be a multi-charge. I was hoping that my agonizers, sheer number of attacks and invulnerable saves would be enough to deal with the Nightbringer.

To the right of the Wyches, the Reavers flew up to go after the Warriors as well, while the Raider flew up to charge in and absorb overwatch. Finally, my Kabalites, Venoms, and Ravager all circled to bring their firepower to bear on those pesky Scarabs.

In the shooting phase, the Mandrakes began the festivities by unleashing 20 baleblast shots into the Immortals…and proceeded to roll an inordinate amount of 6s to wound, killing 5 of the Immortals with mortal wounds!

Not one to be outdone, the Razorwing unloaded all of its weapons on the Immortals as well. After a blistering squall of firepower, the remaining Immortals were annihilated, leaving the Necron Lord standing on his own.

In the rest of the shooting phase, my Venoms, the Warriors on board, the Ravager and even the Reavers all fired into the Scarabs. Just as in my last shooting phase, my Venoms rolled poorly, while the Warriors on board were unerringly accurate. Still, after all was said and done, both units of Scarabs were wiped out. As an encore, the Wyches fired their pistols at the Nightbringer and managed to plink a wound off of it as well.

In the charge phase, the Raider went into the Necron Warriors to soak up overwatch…and proceeded to take 7 unsaved wounds from massed gauss fire! The Reavers went into the Warriors as well, while the Wyches and both of my characters multicharged both the Nightbringer and the Warriors. Finally, the Mandrakes made their long charge into the lone Necron Lord.

In the fight phase, the Mandrakes unleashed 30 attacks and managed to hack 3 wounds off of the Necron Lord, who whiffed his return attacks thanks to the Mandrakes’ -1 to hit rule.

In the big central fight, the Succubus focused all of her attacks on the Nightbringer, scoring 7 hits on it thanks to her Blade Dancer trait but only doing one wound. In retrospect, I should have sent her against the Warriors rather than attacking a tough target like the Nightbringer. In exchange, my opponent used two command points to interrupt with the Nightbringer, who focused its attacks on my Succubus, did something like 12 wounds to her and killed her outright. This hurt, because not only had I just lost my warlord, but also the Succubus’ reroll 1s aura for the Wyches and Reavers.
In the rest of the fight, the Archon and Hekatrix did a wound each to the Nightbringer with their agonizers, while the rest of the Wyches and the Reavers combined to kill an impressive 10 Necrons. The Warriors swung back though, and clubbed down two Wyches. The Necrons had sustained massive losses, but my opponent then spent two more command points to have them auto-pass morale, keeping them from evaporating in the morale phase. That hurt, as I had been hoping to wipe out that squad in one fell swoop, and now I would have to deal with their Resurrection Protocols next round.

SCORE:
Drukhari: 4
Necrons: 4

TURN 3

At the start of the Necron turn, the Necron Lord regained a wound, and five Necron Warriors rose again…before the Overlord used his resurrection orb, raising back another three. In an instant, almost all of the damage I had done to that squad was gone. At least he didn’t also have the Veil of Darkness to teleport them out of combat– THAT would have been annoying.
With only one unit unengaged aside from his characters, the Necron player edged his rightmost Warriors into rapid fire range of the Razorwing. They proceeded to then freem 5 wounds off the plane, leaving it teetering on 3 and its last level of damage. Then, in close combat, the Nightbringer scythed down two Wyches, while the Wyches did a wound to the Nightbringer and killed a Warrior. In reply, the Warriors, hitting on 2s thanks to the nearby Overlord, clobbered down all four remaining Wyches and did two wounds to the Raider, leaving it hanging on one. The Archon, in turn, whiffed, while the Reavers sliced down another three Warriors.

Elsewhere, the Necron Lord again swung and missed at the Mandrakes, before being torn limb from limb. Victorious, the Mandrakes consolidated towards the unengaged Warriors.

In my turn, the Razorwing used it’s full move to flee back to my deployment zone, while the Raider limped out of combat. The Mandrakes moved towards the unengaged Warriors, and everything else angled to get line of sight on said Warriors.

In the shooting phase, almost everything in my army shot at the unengaged Warriors, with the Mandrakes doing the lion’s share of the damage once again with their superbly effective baleblasts. When the dust cleared, a massive fifteen Warriors had been brought down, leaving five. Meanwhile, the Archon fired her blast pistol at the Nightbringer, but failed to hurt the C’tan.

In the charge phase, the Mandrakes charged the surviving Warriors, shrugging off overwatch and, now hitting on 2s thanks to Power from Pain, wiping the Necrons out in a hurricane of rusty blades, before consolidating into the nearby Overlord and Cryptek. In turn, the Overlord and Cryptek swung back at their shadowy foes, the Overlord managing to cut down one of them.

Meanwhile, the Nightbringer turned its attention to the Reavers, cutting down one of the nimble Jetbikes, though the Warriors did no damage. For their part the Reavers sliced apart another four Warriors, while the Archon tried and failed to hurt the Nightrbringer.

SCORE:
Drukhari- 5
Necrons- 5

TURN 4
At the start of the Necron turn, six Warriors once again stood up. The Nightbringer, meanwhile, unexpectedly flew out of combat to go after the retreating Razorwing, ditching my poor Archon on the dance floor. My opponent later told me he had done so because he didn’t want the Nightbringer stuck fighting the Archon all game.

In the shooting phase, the Nightbringer unleashed an Antimatter Meteor at said Razorwing, doing three wounds and instantly causing it to crash and burn, killing one of the disembarked Kabalites in the explosion! As an encore it tried to freem a nearby Venom with its Gaze of Death, but failed to wound.

In close combat, the Reavers scythed down another five Necron Warriors, though the Necrons scored a wound on the Reavers in return and took no further damage from morale. Meanwhile, the Mandrakes scored a wound each on the Overlord and Cryptek, though the Overlord swatted down another of the shadow-things in reply.

In my turn, I had a big, Grim Reaper-shaped problem in my deployment zone, and one that I needed to deal with immediately. To this end, I had all of my vehicles circle the Nightbringer in an effort to finally bring it down.

With everything else in combat, I went straight to the shooting phase and fired everything I had at the Nightbringer, unleashing lances and splinters into it from every angle. My opponent made an absurd number of invulnerable saves, but in the end, one last splinter shot from one of the Venom-mounted Kabalites took the C’tan’s last wound, sending the Nightbringer shrieking back into the abyss from whence it came.

In the charge phase, the Archon, who had been separated from the main fight by placement and consolidation weirdness, charged back into the fray against the Necron Warriors and proceeded to hack down two deathbots, while the Reavers sliced down another four. It was at this point that I looked back at the Index and discovered that, contrary to my initial belief, the shadow field COULD NOT be rerolled by a Command Point– a supposed fact that had kept my opponent from allocating any attacks to her all game. The last few Warriors directed their attacks at the Archon, did a handful of wounds…and sure enough, a 1 came up, causing the shadow field to short out. My Archon was now wounded and bereft of her fancy force field…and to make matters worse, the Necrons passed their morale test! Uh oh…

Elsewhere, the combat between the Mandrakes and the Necron characters dragged on, with the shadow-things hacking two wounds off of the Cryptek. In reply, though, the Overlord hacked down another two Mandrakes, and the fight dragged on…

SCORE:

Drukhari- 6

Necrons- 6

 

TURN 5

At the start of my turn…yes, you guessed it, Reanimation Protocols kicked in, and 9 Necron Warriors clambered back to unlife. Oh joy. And, as usual, both Necron characters healed a wound each.

With nothing able to shoot, we went straight to close combat. The Necrons managed to hack down the wounded Reaver, before wailing on my defenceless Archon. I fully expected to lose her then and there…but to my surprise, she managed to cling to life on one wound remaining! In exchange, though, the Archon only managed to kill one Warrior, while the Reavers only slice down two more. This time, though, in part thanks to the -1 LD inflicted on them by the Power from Pain table, the Necrons actually failed morale, and one Necron settled into the peaceful abyss of perma-death.

Meanwhile, the Mandrakes again only did one wound to the Cryptek and bounced off of the Overlord, who killed another of them in return. And so the endless combat dragged on…

In my turn, I finally realized that (1) I needed to get Linebreaker, and (2) my Mandrakes were fighting a losing battle. I had my Mandrakes fall back out of combat, while my vehicles all zoomed up, with one Venom advancing into the enemy deployment zone as they all circled the two Necron characters. I was tempted to have the Reavers fall back as well, but I figured that they were better off slicing Necron Warriors into chunks.

In the shooting phase, the Archon fired her blaster pistol and failed to wound with it. Meanwhile, everything else that could opened fire on the Overlord and Cryptek. The Cryptek was the first to die, shredded from one poisoned hit too many. The Overlord, on the other hand, kept making save after save, but eventually, one last blaster shot vaporized him, killing him off and earning me Slay the Warlord.

No sooner had the Overlord been vaporized, though, when we went to close combat. The Archon managed to kill one more Warrior before being unceremoniously hacked to ribbons by the Warriors. The Reavers, in turn, managed to kill another two or three Warriors, but again, the Necrons held their ground.

At this point, we had to roll for random game length. The dice roll came up as a 1, and the game ended.

 

FINAL SCORE:

Drukhari- 10

Necrons- 8

DRUKHARI VICTORY!

Thoughts: That was a fun, close battle, with the score being tied all the way until the end. Despite the score being so close, though, I actually felt like I was fairly in control all throughout the game. Thanks to my army’s superior mobility, I was able to strike when and where I wanted, dictating the flow of the battle and forcing my opponent to react to me. The fact that I was able to destroy his most mobile units early on helped a great deal as well, as it meant I was pretty much able to run rings around his army at leisure. My strategy of isolating and destroying his units worked well…sort of. While I was able to effectively wipe out several of his units with combined shooting and assault, his big block of Warriors proved almost unkillable thanks to the buffs of the nearby Overlord and Cryptek, absolutely refusing to die and killing off my Wyches and Archon in that big never-ending melee. While the Necrons weren’t able to outmatch me in the shooting department, the sheer resilience of their units made this a fairly close game.

After my first outing with the Drukhari (before their new codex release, that is), I’m happy to see that they are still as lightning fast as they were in previous editions, but there are a lot of changes that I will have to get used to. The change of splinter cannons to rapid-fire weapons meant that I was forced to become much more aggressive with Venoms, and the fact that the Razorwing could actually be hit more easily by enemy fire (albeit with negative modifiers) meant that I was forced to be more cautious with the fragile plane when it started to take damage. On the other hand, I love how reliable combat drugs have become, how much more resilient Reavers are (even if Wyches, sadly, still die with ease), and just how amazing Mandrakes have become– my one unit of Mandrakes almost single-handedly steamrolled the back half of the Necron army. And if nothing else, I’m happy to see that Drukhari are still as effective at mobile firepower as they have always been– my vehicles and vehicle mounted squads, as before, were able to inflict a lot of damage with their massed firepower.

Overall, this was a satisfying first game of 8th ed with my Drukhari. I have no idea how many games with them I’ll be able to get in with the new codex, however, so it may be the next game with them may be with a completely new set of rules.

Drukhari MVP: The Mandrakes were on fire in this game, annihilating the Necron Lord, half a unit of Immortals, and a unit of Warriors, and they also came quite close to killing off the Cryptek as well. Honourable nods also go to the Warriors and Venoms, for just generally providing me a reliable and effective firebase all game.

Necron MVP: The big unit of Warriors gets my vote, as they took pretty much everything I could throw at them and still came out of the battle above half strength, having killed off the Wyches and my Archon in the bargain. My opponent, however, felt that the Warriors were awesome only because of the Cryptek boosting him, and so personally gave his MVP to the Cryptek.

 

Zhael felt one eyelid stutter open as weak sensation filled her frame. She could taste blood in the back of her mouth, and her body was wracked with sharp, biting pain, raw with the memory of Necron blades splitting her flesh. It took a few seconds for her to realize that she had been momentarily dead, before the parasites injected into her by the Haemonculi did their grisly work, regenerating her wounds and bringing her back to life. The pain would linger until her body, now whole and unblemished once more, grew used to its latest resurrection, But then, she and pain were old friends, and it had few surprises remaining for her.

“Ah, you’re awake,” a sibilant voice spoke. “I was wondering when the regenerative cultures would do their work.”

Not suppressing her annoyance, Zhael slowly sat upright, opening her eyes fully to the sight of Vakkan, one of the Kabal’s allied Haemonculi, hovering over her, elevated by the prehensile spinal column jutting, serpent-like, from his back. No doubt, he had arrived on the scene from the webway after the fighting was done, as usual.

She also realized that he was holding something tightly in his three arms: a smooth orb, its glossy black surface shimmering with faint traceries of green light. It was the orb that had been carried by the Necrontyr Lord: the same orb, she realized, that they had been sent to retrieve in the first place.

She did nothing to hide her annoyance as she stood back up, seeing now that her dress was torn and stained with blood and soot from her most recent “death”. This just would not do, she thought bitterly as she took a look around her surroundings. Her raiding party was busy recovering the damage, dragging away the bodies of their comrades, and, where possible, looting what they could. But of the Necrontyr, there was no sign– no bodies, no wreckage. Nothing but the grave-like stillness of the air as the the day slowly turned to night.

“The raiding host suffered minor personnel and material losses,” Vakkan stated matter of factly, pre-empting her question as always, before holding up the orb. “But thanks to your efforts, we have Lord Scyrex’s prize. We should be able to make our transition through the Webway without further incident.”

“Then let us be on our way,” Zhael replied, adopting her aloof demeanour againdespite her battered state. “If you haven’t resurrected my sister yet, do so. This world no longer retains my interest.”

Vakkan said nothing. The pale skin around his shrivelled skull tightened involuntarily in what could pass for a frown.

“What?” Zhael asked.

The Haemonculous’ body dipped low, giving an obeisant bow. “About your sister…there were…complications.”

Zhael felt her blood run cold. “What do you mean complications?”

Bowing again, the Haemonculous turned and gestured across the field. Numbly, Zhael followed his gaze to the middle of the battle site, where the bodies of the Wyches were being dragged off for resurrection, in some cases after being shamelessly looted. All of the bodies, that was, save for one. There, Zhirae lay spread eagled on the ground, her usually pale skin now a bloodless shade of white and a massive gouge opened in her chest. The Succubus’ weapons lay scattered beside her, and her eyes were open, staring up sightlessly at the sky as though silently asking it for some answer.

Slowly, Zhael walked over to her sister’s body, her movement somewhat staggered as sensation returned to her limbs. “Why have you not brought her back?” she asked Vakkan.

Floating up next to her, Vakkan tented his syringe-clawed fingers together with a metallic clack. “I have tried, Mistress,” he replied. “But unfortunately…there is nothing for me to resurrect. Her soul is gone.”

Zhael felt her pulse drop. She turned to face Vakkan. “What do you mean gone?”

“I mean, the soul-prism she carried with her is empty,” Vakkan replied. “She was slain by a shard of…Kaelis Ra, yes? The Nightbringer. A creature that is the embodiment of death itself. When it killed her, I fear it took her soul in the process, and quite possibly, obliterated it.”

For a moment, Zhael was silent. Then, slowly, she took a step towards Vakkan, her movements stiff and deliberate. “Impossible. Bring her back,” she ordered. “Now.”

Vakkan shook his head. “There is nothing to bring back, Mistress, she is gone,” he replied. His mouth soon twisted into a horrible, rictus grin. “Which means that the credit of this victory will be yours, and yours alone. No doubt Lord Scyrex will recognize you well for this success. Congratulations, Hierar–“

There was a flash of silver, and Vakkan’s head flew from his shoulders. The Haemonculous’ body remained suspended upright for a few seconds, as though surprised by its sudden decapitation, before flopping lifelessly to the ground.

Dropping her blade, Zhael knelt over her sister’s body, and screamed up at the uncaring sky.