Friday 31 January 2020

Welcome to Reuvengrad


I've not just been getting excited about the GT recently, but also something at the very opposite end of the 40k scale of narrative - an all new series of battle reports with SorcererDave! This campaign though is going to be a bit different from what we did previously in The Battle of Morgan's Reach, in that we are dialing the narrative up even further, making a few more tweaks to the rules, and borrowing plenty from tabletop roleplaying games.

We filmed the first game this week, and it was a load of fun, so I really hope it's enjoyable for the viewers when it gets up to YouTube, as I'd like to do more! We did try to cut out a chunk of the unnecessary waffling, so I thought I'd write some companion articles to replace it and expand a bit on what is happening. This first one is merely an introduction to the setting and the characters of the Imperial forces, controlled by me. There's also some nice pictures in here, some I took, some taken by the Sorcerer himself. He also has some more info on the wider setting for his battle reports here.

The planet of Reuvengrad, only habitable world in the system of the same name, is a relatively unremarkable hive world within the Acheron sector. It is situated near to many active or recent warzones but not close enough to be considered currently under threat. A number of regiments are being raised for the Astra Militarum to fulfill and exceed the world's tithe quota, and Reuvengrad is expected to contribute men and munitions to Imperial war efforts in the Gulf of Athena for many decades to come.

Reuvengrad has long had issues with heretical cults springing up within it's underhives. The local enforcers and the Adeptus Arbites have so far been successful in shutting down these cults before they could spread significantly, but their persistence is apparently cause for concern by some. Several members of the holy ordos of the Inquisition have recently arrived on world, each for their own reasons, but apparently all linked to the cults.

Inquisitor Mortimer Arctos of the Ordo Hereticus was drawn to Reuvengrad by, of all things,  irregularities in the recorded movements of transport ships and their cargo. Regarding himself as a witch hunter, his experience told him that something didn't add up, and that it was evidence of something more malevolent than mere smugglers or thieves. Along with his retinue and faithful canid Alleb, he smelled heresy. He brings a force of Adepta Sororitas of the Order of the Azurine Heart with him to the planet.

Inquisitor Ivan Herric of the Ordo Malleus had a more unconventional tip off. He has no qualms with skirting the edge of radicalism and it was an interrogation of a daemon that revealed to him a grave threat on Reuvengrad. He has vowed to stop that threat, whatever form it may take, by any means necessary. He is accompanied by allies within the Adeptus Mechanicus, of both forge world Ryza and Imperial Knight house Taranis.

Inquisitor Deatrix Kane of the Ordo Xenos is a relative newcomer to the role, but she has already built up a network of contacts including some among the Adeptus Astartes and, allegedly, the Aeldari - who according to rumour provided a psy-boosting artifact to grant her psychic abilities. Her sources told her rumours of some great and powerful artifact hidden on Reuvengrad, possibly of alien origin, and she has come to investigate.

Upon arrival the trio of Inquisitors quickly found themselves contacted by a superior - Lord Inquisitor Octavian Vensk, who has been working covertly on planet for some time. Though keeping tight-lipped about his own investigations, he has tasked the makeshift conclave with eradicating the cult of the Bloody Sabbath. Their first order of business is to locate the headquarters and personally eliminate the cult's leaders. This is where the story begins...

Monday 27 January 2020

40k Grand Tournament preview


As I have been saying to anyone who will listen, I'm off to the GT Heat 1 at Warhammer World next weekend! I'm quite excited about it, even though I fully expect to spend most of my time around the bottom tables, it should be a fun weekend out with plenty of 40k in it. So, having finished off the last models I need and packed the army into it's case, I thought I'd write this 'preview' post with my list and some ruminations.

My most recent tournament experience went pretty well with the Alpha Legion, but I suspect the GT will be a bit of a step up, so I've put together a list that I think is a bit meaner. It's built around the list I took to the Element Games Grand Slam back in 2018, but focusing more on the Knights rather than the AdMech, and with more command points (though less robots). This means, at the very least, I kind of know what I'm doing with it. They are also probably my prettiest army (potato photography aside) so might get me some soft score favours there.

Imperial Knights and Adeptus Mechanicus, 2000 points, 14 Command Points.

Taranis Super Heavy detachment
Lord of War:
-Knight Crusader (Rapid fire battlecannon and heavy stubber, meltagun, Stormspear rocket pod) Warlord: Knight of Mars, Relic: Armour of Sainted Ion
-Knight Valiant (2 twin Siegebreaker cannons, 2 Shieldbreaker missiles) Exalted Court: Ion Bulwark
-Armiger Warglaive (Meltagun)

Ryza Battalion, specialist detachment: Servitor Maniple
-Tech-Priest Dominus (Eradication ray, Macrostubber)
-Tech-Priest Dominus (Eradication ray, Macrostubber)

-6 Kataphron Destroyers (Plasma culverins, phosphor blasters)
-5 Skitarii Vanguard (Alpha: Powersword)
-5 Skitarii Vanguard (Alpha: Arc maul)

Ryza Battalion
-Tech-Priest Enginseer
-Tech-Priest Enginseer

-5 Skitarii Rangers (1 Arc rifle)
-5 Skitarii Rangers (1 Arc rifle)
-5 Skitarii Rangers (1 Arc rifle)

So there you have it. Is it fully optimised? No, not at all. But is it about the hardest list I can make with my collection? Probably. I stretched to getting an extra box of Skitarii to allow for the double battalion (baddalion), but I didn't fancy scouring ebay for Daedalosus or a Manipulus to buff the Kataphrons or getting a Helverin or even a Castellan. (We all know the Valiant is the right Dominus!) I'm fairly happy that with two big knights and the Destroyer blob I've got the punch to at least make a game of it against most opponents. I can't imagine I'll catch anyone off guard with them, but thanks to the ITC style ruin rules they use at the GT these days, the Destroyers should be able to hide to allow them to spring out and get one good volley off, boosted by the Ryza and the Servitor Maniple stratagems, they will be +1 to hit, wound and damage, which should hurt! I'm also hoping with my decent supply of CP I can get some good use out of the Knight stratagems, a knight getting back up from the dead can definitely change a game.

Anyway, whatever happens, it should be a bit of a laugh. I've already ticked off a good chunk of my essential tournament preparation list, ahead of schedule. Warhammer World usually put on a good event, with a good standard of armies and players, and I haven't been to one in ages, so again, I'm excited!

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Grim Dice 40k tournament


As I have previously mentioned, I had a 40k tournament to go to last week at the Grim Dice store in Grimsby. It was 1250 points, playing three games of a modified ITC style format on 4x4 boards. I took the Fractured Truth of the Alpha Legion, my list slightly changed from the warm up game against John, featuring some newly modified minis. I ran a Battalion and a Spearhead, and everything had the mark of Slaanesh for convenience.

Chaos Lord, warlord: I am Alpharius, relic: Blade of the Hydra
Chaos Sorcerer, Prescience, Delightful Agonies
Dark Apostle, Benediction of Darkness, bonus relic: the Hydra's Wail, +2 Dark Disciples

12 Cultists
12 Cultists
10 Chaos Marines, 2 plasma guns, combi-plasma for the champion

Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought, 2 kheres assault cannons

Heavy Support:
3 Obliterators
Predator, autocannon, lascannons
Predator, all lascannons

Not a super cheese list by any stretch, but it definitely had some shooting punch. Obviously the plan was the buff up the Oblits, Endless Cacophony them, and if required use the Concealment stratagem from Faith and Fury. I hoped that in the off chance that they were taken out early, the Predators and Contemptor would give me enough firepower to deal with whatever did it!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of opponents or 'meta', having only been in the store once, but there was a good turnout - 19 players filled the room with various armies, I think only one of which was 'proper cheese' (more on this later).

First game was against Phil and his Imperial Knights. He ran them as Hawkshroud, with a Castellan, Gallant and a Warglaive.

I got a bit of luck to go first, and the Obliterators did their thing, removing the Armiger for first strike. The rest of my army was hiding from the big scary Castellan, so they piled firepower into the Gallant, reducing it significantly down to around 8 wounds.

Just in case, I also moved some disposable cultists in front of the Oblits and Concealed them. As it turned out, the Castellan pointed at my Preds instead.

The Gallant did Gallant things, charging up the middle and kicking a bunch of Chaos marines, while the volcano lance from the Dominus class knight melted the quad-las Predator. A decent punch back, but the Gallant was now injured and facing most of my army at close range...

Somewhat predictably, the Knight was destroyed (though it eventually fell to the Lord's relic chainsword to do it!). Phil was annoyed that my Hydra's Wail relic had cost him the command points he wanted to use to make it explode on a 4+, but then he went and rolled a 6 anyway! The last of the marines were killed, the Pred and the Dread took damage, and the Lord died! The Sorcerer then revealed himself to be the real warlord, and promptly took 4 mortal wounds from the explosion. I rolled for his warlord trait, and got one that granted him an extra wound, keeping him alive!

With the Castellan still standing there was still a game on, but thanks to the Alpha Legion trait and assorted prayers and psychic powers, the Obliterators survived it's fury, and over then next couple of turns finished it off. A solid win for the Alpha Legion.

Giant explosions are always fun, so this was a great start to the day, both in terms of the fun game and the result. Next up though was a familiar foe...

The Fractured Truth formed up in an abandoned industrial sector against the Emperor's Children, led by John! Yes, a rematch from our practice match, which did not go very well for me! John was running the same list as before (Lord, Sorcerer, Apostle, 2x10 Cultists, 18 Noise Marines, 2 Sonic Dreadnoughts, Lascannon Contemptor, Dreadclaw), but this time I was prepared. I'd learned my lesson, and deployed the Obliterators on the board, using Forward Operatives to potentially get them into a good position to blast away on turn one. Then John went and seized the initiative! The Noise Marines repositioned with a stratagem, threading the needle between terrain pieces and opened up on the Oblits. When the dust settled, all three were still standing...

The return fire was brutal. Between the fleshmetal guns and moral, 18 were reduced down to about 5. The las Predator also helped out by destroying a Sonic dreadnought on the flank. However, he brother in the Dreadclaw drop pod was about to come for revenge...

The new Sonic Dreadnought made a long bomb charge out of deep strike around some ruins into the Obliterators, while the pod itself charged my Contemptor and a Predator to shut them down. (Though the Contemptor managed to walk off and still shoot thanks to a new F&F stratagem.) The Oblits were punched to death, and due to the placement and the secondary objectives at play I had to get rid of the pod ASAP!

Up step a trio of potential Alphariuses, lobbing deadly accurate krak grenades, then finishing it off in melee. Elsewhere shooting was exchanged, and the cultists were getting into a big scrap on the central objective.

With all the Dreadclaw related issues, I didn't manage to deal with the dread hiding around the corner, who proceeded to run around the Contemptor and punch out my Sorcerer (though he did take a krak grenade to the sarcophagus for his troubles.) It was eventually dealt with, but was a hell of a distraction!

At the business end of the battle, the Noise Marines had removed the last of my cultists to claim the central objective, while my Contemptor finished off John's cultists. I'd racked up quite a lead, but that lascannon Contemptor was starting to pull it's weight, acounting for both my Predators.

The characters all met for a big punch up in the middle, which, sadly, my Lord lost (I think he ate a smite) before the Dark Apostle got hammered by the Emperor's Children jump Lord. At this point, I only had a squad of marines on my objective, but time was called at the start of my turn 5. The Alpha Legion hung on for another win!

We did a bit of talking through, and it's entirely possible that John might have tabled me in turn 6, which would have given him enough points for at least a draw. However if I'd hung on with one marine on the objective I'd have enough for an unassailable lead. Who knows what would have happened, but obviously the Fractured Truth had got what they came for, and fell back just in the nick of time!

So with all that, turns out I was on the top table for the last game, which was nice. However, this is where things get a bit nasty, as my opponent, Kerryn, brought some pretty heavy cheese! Crimson Fists featuring Pedro and a smattering of characters, 15 tactical marines and 12 Centurions, split into 6 Assault and 6 Devastators with heavy bolters. All 12 carrying the hurricane 'nipple' bolters. This list was like walking into a wall of bolt shells, with enough buffs going around that they could fell Knights!

I braced for impact, and deployed with the hope of going first...

I did not. The Centurions marched up, deleted both units of Cultists, the Contemptor and a Predator. Owwie!

Return fire from the Obliterators was, in spite of some relatively poor roles, actually quite effective. I think they killed 6 Centurions (though one got back up thanks to an Apothecary). Respectable, though not nearly enough, and they were cut down by the return fire.

I did eventually make it to turn three, though it was a bit pathetic, after the last Predator failed to kill any Centurions I was down to just the Dark Apostle, who promptly yelled 'yolo!' and charged into a wall of fire from the assault Centurions. An emphatic loss for the Alpha Legion.

To set the record straight, Kerryn was a perfectly courteous and fun opponent, and I'm not salty about it. He brought a hard list to a tournament and justifiably won. We had a bit of a chat after (we had plenty of time!) about what I could have done (other than wait for Centurions to get hit by the nerf bat). He suggested staying back out of their range, as their 4 inch movement is their only real weakness. I'm not sure that would have achieved much on a 4x4 board with 4 objectives to capture, other than delaying the inevitable, but it definitely makes sense as a general principle. In hindsight it might have been the right move here - just to try and claw as many points from the game. I think, with my deployment, had I got first turn I could have made a game of it, but I suspect it still would have ended in the Fist's favour. They say you learn more from a loss than a win, and I definitely learned a lot from this game.

So in the end, I came away with 2 wins and a loss (to the overall winner), so I can't really complain about that! John managed to win his last game, and annoyingly pipped me, finishing in 4th to my 5th place. More importantly of course, I had fun! It's always good to walk away from an event thinking 'I love 40k' rather than 'how much can I get for my minis on ebay?' I'd definitely go back for more.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Video Battle Report with SorcererDave - Sisters of Battle vs Chaos Space Marines


Another SorcererDave report, but this time it’s with some new rules (well, they were new when we filmed it). He managed to get his hands on the limited edition Sister boxed set, so I brought the wife’s Order of the Azurine Heart and ran them with the new rules. They went up against the Word Bearers once again, who also had some new rules from Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury. After the last game, the Adepta Sororitas were out for revenge!

We had fun (of course!) and I think we played most of the new rule correctly. It was a very informative battle. We do have a bit of a chat about the new rules on display at the end of the game, but as a bit of a summary/mini codex review - the Sisters are good. They’ve got some tricks up their sleeve, they can put out some serious firepower and they can stick it out surprisingly well. The new miracle dice mechanic is huge. You will probably be generating them quite frequently, and there are plenty of chances to use them. High numbers make melta guns really scary for either a guaranteed big damage or the threat of an auto hit in overwatch. Lower numbers can be trickier to use, but passing morale is obviously a good use of 1s. You can also use 2s and 3s to just ensure a key weapon hits or armour save is passed.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the report, and hope you Sisters players enjoy the new book.

Friday 10 January 2020

Alpha Legion hobby update - Dreadnoughts and Disciples


As mentioned recently, I'm soon to be attending a tournament with my Alpha Legion, and so I've been doing a bit of tweaking to existing models to get them ready for the event. First up, the Dark Disciples that will follow the Dark Apostle around. Currently I use some of the Chosen minis from the old Dark Vengeance box for many of my characters, including the cloak/mace guy as the Dark Apostle. I'm happy enough with this, he looks the part, but he didn't have any little chaos choir boys with him, so when I used them I picked a couple of Cultist champions that I wasn't using. I think standing next to the Apostle has spread the touch of chaos to them a bit...

As you can see they have  both received some significant mutations, and are carrying some extra unholy texts, candles and whatnot. I think this does the trick, they definitely look like they have sacrificed much in following the chaos powers.

Next, I had a look at my two Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnoughts. They are the plastic ones, so a bit basic, but they had already been converted up to be swiveling at the hip for a bit more movement, and to have a scaled breastplate to be a bit chaos-y. Their old loadout of multi-melta and power fist wasn't really cutting it though, so I decided to attack them with magnets.

Luckily for me, I still had the Kheres assault cannons in my bits box, so I was able to paint them up as well. I also had to adjust one of the powerfists to be right handed so I could make a dual wielding fist dread. For the magnets, I had some wide, flat magnets sitting around that I'd bought on a bit of a whim, and they fit fairly well as the Contemptor's upper arm joint after cutting away the arms just above the elbow.

As you can see, it's a slightly basic solution, but it does the trick. With this build any of the arms can fit on any slot, with a large degree of flexibility in the pose as well. Here are some examples:

So there you go. Turns out my first hobby project of 2020 was actually updating the Alpha Legion. They just snuck in their unannounced and got it done. Very appropriate.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Battle Report - Chaos Space Marines vs Chaos Space Marines


First post of the new year, and it looks a bit like 2018 again, because it's me against formerly regular opponent John and his Emperor's Children. The last time we played 40k it was on the same side back in March in another Chaos clash. Both games were played at Grim Dice's Friday Night Gaming, but since March they have moved into their new store in Grimsby. This was my first visit into the store, and I was impressed with it. Bright and spacious with plenty of tables and, of course, stuff to buy.

John and I, as well as several of the old gang who have appeared periodically in this blog, are playing in a tournament at Grim Dice on the 18th of January, so we thought we'd have a game to try out the armies we were considering. Partially due to new toys in Faith and Fury, we are both bringing Chaos Marines. The tournament is at 1250 points on 4x4 boards, using ITC rules but without the normal ITC secondaries.

I took the Fractured Truth, my Alpha Legion warband. My list consisted of a battalion and a spearhead, and was built mainly around buffing up the Slaanesh Obliterators. In fact, for convenience, everything in the list is rocking the mark of Slaanesh.

HQ: Terminator Lord (Chainfist, Combi Melta, Warlord - I Am Alpharius), Sorcerer (Prescience, Delightful Agonies, relic: Hydra's wail), Dark Apostle (Benediction of Darkness, with Disciples)
Troops: 10 Marines (2 Plasma, Combi-plasma). 10 Marines (2 Autocannons, Combi-plasma), 10 Cultists
Heavy Support: Predator (Autocannon, lascannons), Predator (all lascannons), 3 Obliterators

John of course had the Emperor's Children, with a battalion and a vanguard...

HQ: Jump pack Lord (F&F Warlord trait and relic - he had bonuses on the charge and could not be overwatched), Sorcerer (Same powers as mine), Dark Apostle (Same as mine)
Troops: 18 Noise Marines (All sonic weapons), 2x10 Cultists
Elites: 2x Sonic Dreadnoughts, Contemptor (all lascannons)
Transports: Dreadclaw

We were playing a mission with three objectives, where there is a bonus point on offer if you hold the central one and the one in your opponent's deployment zone.

We set up like this - thanks to ITC ruins (ground floor walls block line of sight) we both hid a large potion of our armies behind the terrain. John spent a bunch of CP on combat drugs and fun stuff. His Noise Marines ended up toughness 5 and on the first turn everyone within 6 inches of the Dark Apostle could reroll failed wound rolls. He also kept the Dreadclaw off the board with a Sonic Dreadnought in it. I left the Obliterators and the Terminator lord off the board, intending them to strike at a weak spot later in the game. John took first turn and I opted not to seize, intending to use second turn to ensure I could hold objectives at the end of the round.

John came out of the gate guns blazing. Looking like he was going to splurge his CP, I activated the Hydra's wail to hopefully cost him more. I think it ended up costing him an extra command point, but it had an amusing psychological effect. I also prayed at the Predator in the open, making it -1 to hit. The Contemptor still managed to rip 7 wounds off it, and the Noise Marines finished it off, though the didn't quite remove the Marines who were in pointlessly sitting in cover. (We played the small ruin sections as barricades rather than full ruins.) I spent 2 CP to keep the remaining two around in order to grab the central objective.

The Las Predator moved out and shot the Contemptor, but failed to kill it. No Obliterators yet so I had limited shooting and failed to secure a kill. My two remaining marines jumped on the centre, while the other squad used a stratagem to mysteriously disapear, in order to turn up next turn alongside the Lord/Oblits.

I scored some points, but I hadn't reduced the firepower coming at me...

The Predator fell swiftly, along with the two marines (who did at least stick around long enough to stop John shooting my characters with lascannons). The Dreadclaw remained off the board and the culstists held back to screen out my deep strike, while the Noise Marines made a long charge (thanks to a sneaky stratagem to automatically get a 6 on one of the dice) into both my buffing characters and the cultists on the objective. 

When the dust settled, it was just the two Dark Disciples left alive. Things had not gone well!

Time for the Obliterators to do some work. They popped in through the warp, backed up by the Lord and those Marines, and targeted the Noise Marines that were strung out over two objectives. As you can see, they killed enough of them to ensure they would all run in morale, but in the process the dying Emperor's Children killed the two Dark Disciples on my objective and a few of the Chaos Marines. They also failed the charge onto the few remaining on the central objective, leaving John holding more and me holding none. At this stage, not only was I up against it in terms of what I had left, but John was way ahead on points.

To make matters worse, the pod arrived, sat on my objective and disgorged a Sonic Dreadnought to blast away at the Obliterators.

Not many targets left for John, so everyone lined up shots on the remaining Alpha Legionnaires while the Lord flew up to charge in with his thunder hammer. He made it in, but after all that I still somehow had two Obliterators (and a Chaos Marine champion). 

Without having enough command points to break out of combat and still shoot, it turned into operation: Punch the Chaos Lord. Mine came charging in, holding an objective along the way, but failed to get enough damage past the invulnerable save and Delightful Agonies. I lost another Oblit in response. Elsewhere the last marine died a dignified death to overwatch while charging cultists.

At this stage it was just a case of closing the net on my last models. They held on gamely against the dreads, leaving the Lord to finished them both off with split attacks. I had one CP left to reroll a single invulnerable save on my Lord, but failing a second time meant he got splatted with the thunder hammer.

Ouch. That was a pretty brutal game. I won't pretend these lists were hyper competitive, but there were some definite teeth on display! As always the quad-las Contemptor is a beast, and the Slaanesh 'Smash Captain' was a bit of a monster as well. I was well aware of how nasty a big blob of Noise Marines could be, but with the F&F buffs they can be even meaner. At one point they were -1 to hit, toughness 5 with a 5+ 'feel no pain' save, causing me to dub them as followers of Nurgle. It helped that John rolled uncharacteristically well during this game. We joked that he had foolishly used all his luck up before the tournament! Perhaps that was the Alpha Legion's plan all along!

That said, my Obliterators proved very powerful, and I'm sure my biggest mistake was leaving them off the board. If I had them on turn 1 they could have popped out and removed the Noise Marines in retaliation for the Predator, and I'd have been able to buff them up with spells and prayers. Not to say I would have won, but it would have possibly been a trade off in my favour on turn one, and made a game of it. Ah well, lesson learned.

I've already had some thoughts on how the list might progress for the tournament itself (I might squeeze a Contemptor of my own in there), and have no fear, I'll definitely be posting a report of the event.