Your Army, Your Story: Naming Your Astra Militarum Regiment

(All artwork property of Games Workshop, used without permission on a non-profit basis)
This is one part of a series I hope to make on creating background for one’s army in 40k. I might not restrict myself to 40k, by the way, though I confess I have yet to explore Age of Sigmar that closely, nor do other games, like Infinity or the various Star Wars games, seem to lend themselves to creating individual army backgrounds. Regardless, I hope this is the first article of many.

 

In this article, I’m going to be looking specifically at the Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum/whatever you prefer to call them. When coming up with a backstory for your IG regiment (assuming you are making your own homegrown regiment instead of using one of GW’s existing units, like the Cadians), obviously you will need to come up with fluff for things like the planet they come from and its society, the regiment’s structure and doctrine, the major characters, etc etc. One essential aspect that binds all of these factors together, however, and can help inform you when writing them, is the name of the regiment. The name is, in many ways, the label on the tin: the first thing that gives clues to  whoever is reading your fluff what the army is about, what they do, what the character of the army is, etc, and in that regard will say a lot about your army.

One thing that I always found interesting about the Guard is their naming structure: while some armies have flashy, dramatic names for their subfactions (ie the various Space Marine chapters and Chaos legions, with names like “Salamanders” or “Night Lords” designed to inspire awe and/or fear), or names that just revolve around the name of a particular planet or family (ie T’au Septs, Eldar Craftworlds, Necron Dynasties), the Imperial Guard have a much more formalized, approach. A regiment’s name is usually the number of the regiment, followed by the name of the world they are from, and the particular name of their fighting force. Hence, you get names like the “12th Cadian Shock Troopers,” the “572nd Krieg Siege Regiment,” etc etc. When coming up with a name for your home-grown Imperial Guard army, it’s not enough to simply come up with a name for their homeworld and call it a day (although naming their planet is always a very important step): you may in fact need to come up with a formal name for the regiment itself. Hopefully, this article will help with that. And as you will hopefully see, the name of your regiment will do a lot to help you fill in the gaps of their background– what kind of world they come from, what their combat doctrine/culture is, etc.

Note: throughout this article I will be referencing actual regiments found on Lexicanum, and providing links where applicable. However, every once in a while I will throw up an example made up by me as well, which I will denote with an asterisk. (*)

Elysian_Drop_Troops_grav-chute
ROLE
One of the simplest ways to name an Imperial Guard regiment is, quite literally, to describe what they do. Quite simply, what type of regiment are they? Are they an airborne regiment, or an armoured division? Get an idea of what your army’s overall theme is– even taking a cue from your army list or collection if need be– and then apply that to your regiment’s name.
Some examples of what they could be:
-Light Infantry
-Rangers (ie light/mobile infantry)
-Paratroopers/Airborne troops
-Artillery
-Armoured Division
-Heavy Infantry/Shock Troopers
-Conscripts/Volunteers/A hastily assembled militia

Notable examples:

Cadian Shock Troopers
Elysian Drop Troopers
-Minervan Tank Legions
-Kroshin Grenadiers
-Kellersburg Irregulars
-Asgardian Rangers
-Orn’s World Militia
Semtexian Bombardiers
-Sarpoy Mechanized Cavalry

 5a8c58237d75fc7f9ead1fec4fed6e99.jpg
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ENVIRONMENT
One unique facet of the Imperial Guard is that it includes regiments dedicated to fighting in specific environments. This is because the Imperium features a lot of single-biome planets (whether this is due to it being a big galaxy with limitless environmental possibilities, or lazy writing, is a matter of debate). As such, it is not unheard of or uncommon to have entire regiments that specialise in fighting in specific terrain types

Notable examples:
Tallarn Desert Raiders
Catachan Jungle Fighters|
Valhallan Ice Warriors
Drookian Fen Guard
Dieprian Mountain Men

STEAL BORROW FROM HISTORY

The 41st millennium is a universe drenched in anachronistic antiquity, with futuristic technology juxtaposed at every turn with gothic aesthetics and culture. The Imperium is a setting that features spaceships that look like cathedrals, and knights jousting in giant robots, and fashion, architecure and decoration that ranges from the early twentieth century to medieval times. As such, it makes sense to indulge in that antiquity by using a suitably old, or even ancient name for your regiment. As long as there has been human history, there has been a history of warfare, and that history has produced a long list of military formations and roles across dozens of cultures (as any history buff or Total War aficionado will tell you). By the same token, the Imperium is a huge place with a huge variety of cultures, many of which, conveniently enough, are similar to those of ancient Earth (hence why you end up getting things like Space Vikings and Space Mongols). The Imperium is a huge place with seemingly limitless possibilities in terms of cultural or social divergences, or historical allusions, so your imagination really is the limit.

One good source of inspiration is to simply open a history book (or appropriate Wikipedia article) and find a good name from there. The best part is, given the wide and diverse nature of the Astra Militarum, any era of history is open for you to explore, be it the Napoleonic Wars, the battles of ancient Greece and Rome, the various wars of feudal Japan– the history of the world is your oyster. Going down this route really is, not just a great opportunity to come up with a unique name for your regiment, but to get an idea of what kind of wonderfully weird, historically anachronistic planet they come from.

Some examples of historical units whose names you can steal…er, borrow…include:

Fusiliers
-Dragoons
Carabiniers
-Hoplites
-Cataphracts
Arquebusiers
Immortals
-Janissaries
-Huscarls
-Shield-Maidens (if you want to go for an all-girl, Norse-themed regiment)
-Lancers
Voltigeurs
Jagers
-Minutemen
Mamelukes
-Hussars (bonus points if they are Winged Hussars)

Notable examples in lore:

Pyran Dragoons
Scintillan Fusiliers
-Samothrace Hoplites
Volscani Cataphracts
-Finrecht Highlanders
-Maccabean Janissaries/Byzant Janizars
-Khulan Huscarls
-Annwyn Errants*
-Midgardia Shieldbearers*
-Theron Companions*

Some military units have culture-specific names, which you can either use in their entirety, or alter somewhat to reflect how that culture has morphed in 40,000 across the stars:

Knovian Gharkas (which appears to be based on the actual Gurkhas)
-Rudinav Kazaks (made up by me, but based on Russian Cossacks)

 

VentrillianNobles

SOCIAL STATUS/ROLE
Sometimes, Imperial Guard regiments are raised from a particular strata of a world’s society. For instance, in some cases, only the elite and the upper-class of society are inducted into the Guard, and may see such an induction as a privilege of their status. Other times, though, the Guard regiments will be inducted from the lowest of the low, with the poor being drafted up en mass and sent off to foreign battlefields either to pay off their debts, to earn freedom (if their particular world practices slavery), to earn pardons (if they are prisoners, or come from a prison world) or simply because they are deemed expendable by their rulers. In either case, the social status of the regiment would be reflected on their models, with an “aristocratic” regiment getting fancy wargear, uniforms and colours, while a “lower class” regiment would be much more drab in appearance. Either way, in those instances the name of the regiment will indicate their social status.

Notable examples in lore include:

Jantine Patricians
Royal Volpone Bluebloods
-Ventrillian Nobles
Jopall Indentured Squadrons
Zenonian Free Company
-Bar-el Penal Legions

In other cases, social role need not necessarily be dictated by social class. Sometimes, if a particular industry is dominant on a planet (such as mining, or hunting, or logging, etc), then most if not all of a regiment’s Guardsmen may be recruited from said industry– so, for instance, you could have an entire regiment of miners, or huntsmen, or loggers, or fishermen, etc etc, which might be reflected in the name.

Examples:

-Roane Deepers
-Huntsmen of Araloth*

 

KymmeMiasmanRedcowls

UNIFORM OR WEAPON
In some cases, you have Guard regiments literally named after their equipment, gear or weapons. This has a historical context, as “the So-And-So Rifles” was a common regiment name used throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and, given again the antiquarianism of the Imperium, would be an all too suitable name for a quickly-raised, easily deployed regiment of infantry. On the other hand, a regiment could have a distinctive uniform or weapons from which they borrow their name, be it the “RandomPlanet Silver Helms” or the “Nowhereland Axes”, etc. This could also be a great way to tie your regiment name to your army’s appearance, particularly if you have a distinctive paint scheme or modelling theme going on.

Examples:

-Framlingham Rifles
-Miasman Redcowls
Brontian Longknives
-Greygarden Greatcoats*

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BECAUSE IT SOUNDS COOL
In many cases, your regiment’s name doesn’t have to owe anything to its battlefield role, or to military history, or to the society that it came from. Sometimes the simplest way to name your regiment is to answer the question, “What sounds cool?” And that is perfectly acceptable– if it is an awesome sounding name, then don’t worry if no real military unit, past or present, would use it– this is, after all, a big universe, with things that will stretch belief a lot more than an outlandish army name.

Notable examples:

Mordian Iron Guard
Armageddon Steel Legion
Vostroyan Firstborn
Death Korps of Krieg
Harakoni Warhawks
-Molech Firescions
Savlar Chem-Dogs
Tekarn Iron Fists
-Lattari Gundogs

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REGIMENTAL NICKNAME

In some cases, a regiment will have a unique nickname. This nickname can be just about anything, and could come from a wide variety of sources: for instance, the regiment could have an animal that serves as their mascot/totem/etc (ie, “the 23rd Tallarn Desert Tigers”). In other instances, they may be named after a particularly illustrious commander (ie “Mercer’s Marauders”), or after a reputation they have, for better or for worse (ie, “the Ork-Slayers” if they have a high success rate against the Orks, or the “Leadfoots” if they use a lot of tanks…or are just very slow-moving). When in doubt, you could look to real-world examples as well, such as “the Screaming Eagles,” “the Princess Pats,” etc. For further reference, here are some links with examples of famous nicknames in the British,US and Canadian armed forces.

Examples in lore include:

2nd Catachan “Green Vipers”
-101st Mordant “Lucky 13s”
9th Necromundan “Spiders”
Tanith First and Only, “Gaunt’s Ghosts”
-22nd Ketzok “Serpents”
-5th Maccabean “Drusus’ Own”

 

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:

In case you’re still struggling to come up with a good name, there is an easy, catch-all solution that can work for any Guard army, no matter what their background, or their composition or role, or homeworld, or any of the other factors we have covered. Ready?

The Guard.

That’s it. When in doubt, simply call you army “the [Homeworld] Guard.” It is short, simple, and to the point, but still looks good on paper. At the end of the day, it identifies the regiment as part of the Imperial Guard, as yet one part of the vast armies of the Imperium, and that alone still says quite a bit about your regiment.

Necromundan Guard
Praetorian Guard

 

 

Ultimately, though, at the end of the day, it’s your army, and you will have the final say in what to call your little plastic dudes/dudettes. Hopefully, though, this article will have given you some ideas on how to pick a good name for your force.

 

EXTRA SOURCES

Some extra sources that may help you come up with a decent historically-based name for your Guard army:

Infinity– Infinity (you know, that other miniature wargame) has actually pulled out all the stops in coming up with interesting unit names for its various factions, including (or rather especially) unit names lifted not just from Western/European history, but also from Asian, African and Middle Eastern lore. Their store or wiki may be worth a browse just to pick up interesting names.

Lexicanum- Regiments of the Imperial Guard

Wikipedia- Military Forces by Type

 

 

Opinion: 8th Edition’s Increasing Lack of Imagination

So recently, GW has been wheeling out previews for the upcoming Deathwatch book. I have to say, I’m interested, especially since I’ve always liked the background of the Deathwatch (ie, why choose which Chapter to play when you can play ALL the Chapters?), and have toyed with the idea of including a Deathwatch detachment to support my other Imperial forces. However, in the aforementioned previews, I couldn’t help but notice one of the Warlord traits the Deathwatch had access to:
40kdeathwatch-may3-hiddenknowledge1r
Now where have I seen this warlord trait before? I must say, it bears an uncanny similarity to:
-Adept of the Codex (Ultramarines)
-Fate Reader (Ulthwe Eldar)
-Monitor Malevolus (Adeptus Mechanicus)
-Grand Strategist/Kurov’s Aquila (Astra Militarum)
-Labyrinthine Cunning (Kabal of the Black Heart)
-Helm of the Third Eye (Thousand Sons)
And the list goes on and on. Though there may be slight differences here and there (such as some of the aforementioned only working on a 6+, and/or having the ability to steal the enemy’s spent command points), but the fact remains that we are now seeing the same basic mechanic being copied and pasted across several codexes, usually as a warlord trait or relic.  And it’s not just this one ability, either: I’ve noticed quite a bit of repetition in a lot of the subfaction abilities of many armies. For those of you who like lists (I know I do), here’s a lengthy one of subfactions that just so happen to have the same ability:
Advance and shoot:
Black Legion, Tallarn Desert Raiders, Metallica, Vior’la Sept, Sautekh Dynasty
 
Advance and charge:
Renegade Marines, Cult of the Red Grief
 
+1 attack on the charge
World Eaters, Cult of Strife
 
+1 strength
Catachan Jungle Fighters, Cult of the Cursed Blade
 
Ignore wounds on a roll of 6:
Iron Hands, Graia, Ulthwe Craftworld, Hive Fleet Leviathan
 
Range increase of guns by 6″
Vostroyan Firstborn, Bork’an Sept, Kabal of the Obsidian Rose
 
Reroll 1’s to shoot if stands still:
Cadian Shock Troopers, Nihilakh Dynasty, Hive Fleet Kronos
 
May charge after falling back:
White Scars, Hive Fleet Kraken
 
Enemy has -1 LD for every unit in 6″
Night Lords, Dark Creed
 
Reroll 1’s to wound in Fight Phase
Ryza, Hive Fleet Gorgon, Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue
 
+1 to cover save if does not move (or does not advance or charge):
Dal’yth Sept, Hive Fleet Jormungandr
 
Enemy has -1 to hit at long range:
Raven Guard, Alpha Legion, Alaitoc Craftworld, Stygies VIII
 
Hit on 5+ in overwatch:
Mordian Iron Guard, Agripinaa, T’au Sept
 
Half damage from morale:
Valhallan Ice Warriors, Iyanden Craftworld
 
Reroll failed charges:
Black Templars, Saim-Hann Craftworld, Hive Fleet Behemoth, Cult of Red Grief
This trend seems, to me at least, to be somewhat counter-intuitive. When 8th ed first came out, one of the things it billed was the end of universal special rules: instead of having to remember about two-dozen universal rules throughout the game, instead every single unit would have its own unique special rules that could easily be found on the datasheet. This was meant to mitigate the endless searching (in theory), and also foster a greater sense of uniqueness between armies and units.
But now it feels like universal special rules are creeping back into the game, now that the same freaking rules mechanics are popping into every single codex. The thing is, in the case of a lot of these repeated rules, I can’t help but wonder if GW could have taken the time and effort of coming up with something new instead of copy-and-pasting a previous rule mechanic (even if that mechanic is particularly useful). In the case of the Lord of Hidden Knowledge trait, for instance, the vast alien-slaying knowledge of the Deathwatch warlord could be represented by “marking” a single enemy unit for rerolling wounds, or conferring a reroll wounds on 1’s bubble in shooting (to represent his knowledge of enemy weakpoints), or even allowing him a free extra CP on top of what is already being generated.
I am not saying, necessarily, that the “recycling CP” trait that Lord of Hidden Knowledge trait, as is, is a bad thing, nor am I necessarily saying that the re-use of this particular mechanic is bad either. And I am fully willing to admit that I am looking for copy-and-paste similarity at the expense of any rules mechanics that genuinely are unique and novel. But I am wondering if this is a pitfall that GW ran into from a games design perspective: whether they set out to eliminate universal special rules…and then, when pressed for time in coming up with good rules mechanics, found themselves slowly but surely gravitating towards them again.
Personally, I hope that GW finds a way out of this pitfall: from my own personal perspective, I always like it when it when Codexes and army rules feel distinct from one another. This recycling CP’s ability, however, is so prolific that you can almost anticipate it being in every upcoming codex in some form or another, especially since it is almost always a go-to option in competitive lists. Beyond just this particular ability, I don’t see the replication of rules as a problem yet, but I do hope that it doesn’t become more and more excessive in future– otherwise, we may as well say that generic universal special rules never left.
That’s my two cents, anyway.

Combat Roster, at a glance

Today, Games Workshop released its new free online army list-generator, Combat Roster. This handy app…

…oh sorry, did I say app? Scratch that, contrary to expectations, Combat Roster is NOT an app: it is, in fact, an application usable only on the Games Workshop website, which already makes it a little less versatile than some of the…well…other army list generators out there. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Combat Roster had been teased for several weeks now, and was heralded as pretty much the 40k version of Age of Sigmar’s Warscroll Builder.

Ostensibly, Combat Roster is there to make army list building easier. So, after I tried to make an army list on Combat Roster, here’s what I’ve determined this generator can do:

-Provide quick power level costs for a variety of units across a variety of armies
-Interchange effortlessly between factions if you’re going for a “soup” style list.
-Export completed lists into a printable PDF format
-Save your list for further tinkering later
-Add or decrease models from units

Aaaaand here’s what Combat Roster doesn’t include:
-Detachments
-Psychic powers
-Relics
-Actual points values as opposed to power levels
-Anything that is actually from a codex- it is all Index and Forge World stuff only
-Unit stats or special rules
-Options for adding wargear or unit upgrades of any kind
-An inbuilt system warning you that your list is illegal
-A phone app feature so that you don’t actually have to be on the net to make a list on the fly

Now, it could be that Combat Roster is still a work in progress, and that some of these features may come later. But until that happens, Combat Roster feels like nothing more than a pale, helplessly flailing imitation of Battlescribe, which does all of the above things that Combat Scribe is missing, is available on phone, is updated regularly and is available for a wide range of games beyond just 40k.

This is to say nothing of Army Builder, which, like Battlescribe, covers things like points costs, abilities, wargear options, detachments, etc– the main difference, however, being that you are limited in your roster size unless you buy the full version. Even then…you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck than you would with Combat Roster as it is now.

Oh, GW, you tried…

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!

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.

Next Projects

With the new year looming ahead, I’ve found myself practically bursting with various hobby ideas and things I either want to get start or get into…and finding said ideas running up against things I’ve already started, or a limited budget. Here are some of the projects I’m considering getting into over the next year or so.

Thousand Sons

One of GW’s newer releases, the standalone Thousand Sons codex has caught my eye as of late. At first I was leery of it because of the emphasis it seems to place on Tzaangors over the actual Thousand Sons themselves, especially since all of its “new” units have actually been ported over from Age of Sigmar. But the more I look at the book, the more I find myself seriously considering collecting them as an army– while I see a lot of the new units as odd choices, at the same time they haven’t put me off. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’m currently reading the Horus Heresy book A Thousand Sons, or the fact that I always found a legion of sorcerous scholars, philosophers and librarians to be extremely cool. Furthermore, they serve the coolest Chaos god (don’t let those Khorne or Nurgle-worshipping fools tell you otherwise), have fantastic models, and in all honesty, given how they were wronged by the Imperium, I don’t see them as ‘bad guys’ to the same extent as the other Chaos legions.

The problem is, if I were to get into Thousand Sons now, it would be a case of bad timing. The Drukhari codex is coming, and with it will come plenty of playtime for my favourite spiky space pirates, which means I’ll have to seriously choose between taking them or the KSons out for games. Furthermore, if I do go for Thousand Sons, I would have to decide between their 30k and 40k versions– given the metas for both games, it will be difficult to collect a force that can do both, and this isn’t helped by the fact that 30k has gained serious momentum in my area. This is all, of course, to say nothing of how Thousand Sons might in turn lead to Daemons and/or Disciples of Tzeentch for AOS if I’m not careful.

I may end up putting Thousand Sons off in favour of updating my languishing Drukhari, but at the end of the day, I still feel the almost gravity-like pull of the Ninth Legion calling to me. I am making no commitments as of yet, but I can only resist the lure of heresy for so long…

Imperial allies?

(Illustration by DiegoGisbertLlorens at Deviantart)

A safer, and less costly option for me is the inclusion of new allies for my Adepta Sororitas army…and given how wide-ranging the armies of the Imperium are, the possibilities are endless. One of the most obvious candidates are Space Marines: I have an old, and somewhat neglected Crimson Fists force from when I first started Warhammer aeons ago, and it would be no big task to pull them out of their box, touch a few of them up, and field some of them to bolster my Sororitas (or vice versa, to field my Sisters in support of my boys in blue). Of course, if I do that, then I run a very real risk of temptation…namely of caving in to those nice new Primaris characters, or Hellblasters, or Aggressors, or aaaarghitsbeginningalreadystooopp….

Ahem. Alternatively, I could run Astra Militarum; a few cheap Infantry squads with some character backup would not only give my Sororitas a lot of cheap scoring units, but would also be an easy way to bulk up on command points (heck, I could easily run a brigade of pure IG infantry for less than 500 points). I also admit, I’ve been toying with this option because the current and forthcoming Necromunda models have given me the idea of a Penal Legion guard army, which would be incredibly fun to paint, convert and play.

Finally, there are certain Inquisitorial specialists I could add. At present, I have about 10 Grey Knight Terminators sitting unused in my cabinet, crying out to be painted. In addition to them, though, I’ve been toying with the idea of a squad of Deathwatch: just a simple kill team of 5-10 Veterans, all from a eclectic variety of chapters, led by a Terminator Captain or Librarian who can deep strike and then make use of their teleporting relic for extra cheesiness. I will admit, I’ve been kind of chomping at the bit to use Deathwatch ever since their codex came out in the tail end of 7th, since I’ve always felt they were one of the coolest “specialist” forces out there.

Of course, the big danger of any sort of ally force is that, if I’m not careful, it could turn into a new army in its own right– and thus the endless money pit that is miniature wargaming grows ever wider…

Age of Sigmar?

I still have abput 2500-3000 points of Lizardmen (based on old WHFB point values) from back when Warhammer Fantasy was a thing. I was one of the many who watched in perplexity a few years ago when Fantasy was brought to an apocalyptic end, and then morphed into Age of Sigmar. I did not jump on the Age of Sigmar bandwagon back then, and for the most part still have not now, but a few things have been steadily changing my mind:

  1. An active community– AOS has grown in my area (downtown Toronto and GTA) over the past few years, to the point where there is a very active player community.
  2. The rules have had time to evolve– according to the AOS players I’ve met, the rules have come a long way since their first inception, and are much better now thanks to the various iterations of the General’s Handbook.
  3. The AOS rules and 8th edition 40k rules are both rather similar, so I’ve already gotten an introduction of sorts through my main game.

I am sorely tempted to one day break my beloved lizards (or Seraphon, as they are called now for some reason) out of their long hibernation and resume upholding the ineffable will of the Old Ones, though if I do that, I will first need to familiarize myself with the AOS rules, and more importantly, with the Seraphon rulebook. Doing so will mean committing the time to doing so, though, and given how I’m lucky if I can get a game once a week due to my busy schedule, I’m not sure if that’s doable.

Infinity

I actually got into Infinity a few years ago because my girlfriend currently plays it. I have to admit, I rather liked the minis, and found the cyberpunk setting and the small scale a refreshing change from 40k (especially since the lower model count meant for a cheaper hobby). However, I have never been able to dive into it half as much as I was expecting: while I have started up on an Ariadna force (a faction of scrappy underdog colonists with modern-day technology in a future-tech setting) a few years ago, I have repeatedly had difficulty assembling many of the models– quite a lot of them have joins that are difficult to glue together, and some require a degree of pinning that seems beyond my modelling ability. At the moment, my Ariadnans have been on indefinite hiatus because (1) Toronto’s foremost Infinity group meets on a day that is rather difficult for me, and (2) whenever I turn back to Infinity, something 40k always grabs my attention instead. It has honestly gotten to the point where I wonder whether I should even persist with Infinity.

I hope to get a few more games of it in this year: then I may be able to make a more informed decision of whether to abstain while I’m ahead, or whether to dive headlong into a force of mechsuit-riding werewolf GI Joes.

X-Wing

X-Wing is another game that my girlfriend and I got the boxed set for, on the grounds that it is very easy to simply pick up and play: the models come pre-painted, there are terrain and markers readily available in the boxed set, and the game itself is quite small, with only anywhere between two and five ships per side, realistically. As of yet, we have yet to get a proper game in, but I can see keeping X-Wing as a nice casual side game for both of us to steadily expand. That being said, I doubt I would ever get into competitive play for X-Wing: aside from the fact that I already don’t participate in tournaments in 40k (more on that in a future post), what little I’ve seen of the X-Wing tournament meta speaks to a dizzying array of cards, gear and manoeuvres, and more than a few ships and combos that have roundly been decried as OP. At this stage, I feel somewhat unready to step into that…and beside which, I am reluctant to buy entire ships that I’m never going to use only because they come packaged with particularly competitive cards.

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

I feel it needs to be said at this point that I am a big Fallout fan. Fallout 3 ranks as one of my favourite games of all time, and I absolutely love the grim humour and retro-future aesthetic of its post apocalyptic setting. It is for this reason that, ever since Modiphius announced they were doing a Fallout miniatures game (complete with beautifully rendered models), I have been awaiting this game eagerly.

Well, semi-eagerly. Before I dive into this game upon its release, I want to see, firstly, how popular it becomes in my area, and secondly, what the rules are like– both of which will dictate whether I get games in or enjoy said games. Modiphius’ premise of narrative campaigns, and of a settlement-building system akin to that in Fallout 4, intrigue me, but I want to see some games in action before I commit to it. Furthermore, while the models look amazing (those Brotherhood of Steel minis in particular demand to be painted), at the moment all of the factions appear to be from Fallout 4. This is not a bad thing, but I am hoping, further down the line, that Modiphius releases models for other factions from other Fallout games (the Enclave and the NCR, in particular).

Anyway, the year is still early, and I still have some time to decide what’s next (and beside which, I have other major life goals, like finding a new job and/or getting a place of my own at long last. Hopefully, when I have more space to dedicate to myself (and my manifold hobbies), I’ll be able to make a more informed decision…but regardless, I do intend to start something new this year. It is only a question of what.

Acquisitions: the Pillar of Faith and the Huntress

So a while back, I was feeling adventurous and placed an order through Raging Heroes, a French third-party miniature company that almost exclusively does female models that are compatible with most 40k armies. While their model line is kind of renowned (if not infamous) for their overly sexualized female models– I’ve seen one person on Facebook deride them as “Raging Hormones”– I have been able to find a few models in their catalogue that in my opinion are more badass than sexy. I went ahead and ordered two such models– Sister Ardanna, the Pillar of Faith, and Silkeeriss the Huntress.

And lo and behold, tonight they arrived:

Both are resin minis, which I’ve had mixed results with in the past due to its troublesome interaction with most glues (please don’t ask me about my Avenger Strike Fighter). No matter how much I try to rinse resin in soap, on some models it absolutely refuses to stick. It is for this reason that I know that both models will be tricky to assemble. Which is just as well, since the last thing I want to do is damage either of these finely detailed models with hasty clipping or some sort of gluing disaster.

Speaking of details…

Ardanna looks like she will be fairly straightforward to assemble, with the only tricky bits being her sword and the arms holding it. I plan on using her as one of the Canonesses of my Sisters of Battle Order, specifically one wielding the Blade of Admonition (Because come on, look at that sword, it has to be Damage 3). I know I’m going to paint her in my order’s scheme of white armour, blue tabard (yes, I know, white is hellishly difficult to paint), and I am eagerly looking forward to the end result.

Silkeeriss, meanwhile, will be trickier. Her left leg is in two pieces, her head looks like it will be hard to clip free without damaging the horns on her helm, and her fun arm looks like it will have to balance against her helm and shoulder. She will definitely be a trickier assembly job, and one that will be attempted second.

I plan on using her as a blaster-armed Archon for my Drukhari (not the only one, mind you, but a prominent one). At first I was torn between her gun-toting sci fi version and her sword wielding fantasy version, which looks equally badass. In the end I figured that a blaster would serve me better than what looked like an overly elaborate huskblade…although this purchase was made well before the new Drukhari codex was announced, so knowing my luck, they will probably get an awesome melee relic that the sword-toting version could have represented.

I am still uncertain of how I’m going to paint her, especially since I’m currently re-evaluating my army’s colour scheme, though her mask practically screams to be done in ivory, silver or porcelain.

I’ll try to post progress pics of these lovely ladies as I work on them. Merci beaucoup to Raging Heroes, you guys are awesome!