Thursday, 23 December 2010

Dark Eldar Soul Prison

Well, it's been a while. Festive period and all that. So, as my last entry for the year, I'm updating a unit I made almost a year ago (and Atrotos' favourite unit from the Dark Eldar Codex I did), the Soul Prison. I should also note that I don't know how to do tables in this yet. Bear with me until I get somewhere.
The myriad of unfortunate fates awaiting Dark Eldar prisoners are many. Some are thrown into the arena and made to fight. Some must attend to the pleasures of their new masters. But an unfortunate few face the dreaded Extraction, a rare technique whereby their soul is removed and placed in a casket along with other souls. This casket can then be used as a power source for the Soul Prisons, strange constructs made as a mocking facsimile of the Wraithlords of the Craftworlds. In battle, they actively seek new souls to join them in the vain hope that once enough are gathered they will be set free.
A Soul Prison is a Heavy Support choice in a Dark Eldar army.
Cost: 140 points
Unit: 1 Soul Prison
Unit Type: Monstrous Creature
Wargear: Armoured Carapace, Close Combat Weapon, two Splinter Rifles
Options: Replace the two Splinter Rifles with:
  • Pair of Shardcarbines...+10 points
  • Pair of Liquifier Guns...+20 points

  • Take a Djinn Blade...+30 points

Special Rules: Night Vision, Fearless, Move Through Cover, Soul Casket, Maelstrom of Torture

Soul Casket: Soul Prisons are powered by tortured souls contained within it, and their energy can be expended in powerful attacks. Soul Prisons accumulate Pain Tokens in the same way as a unit with Power From Pain, but gains no bonuses from them. During the Assault Phase, you may subtract D3 Pain Tokens from the Soul Prison to re-roll all To Wound rolls it makes that turn. If the Soul Prison would lose more tokens than it actually possesses, subtract all remaining tokens.

Maelstrom of Torture: The casket within the Soul Prison cannot fully contain the souls within, and occasionally they may escape for a moment before being dragged back in. During the Movement Phase, roll a D6. On a roll of 1 or 2 the souls rebel. The Soul Prison may not act that turn, and immediately fires a weapon with the following profile:

Range: 36"/Strength: 4+X/AP:4/Type: Assault 1, Large Blast, Pinning, Ignores Cover

The attack suffers a -1 penalty on the Vehicle Damage Chart, and X is equal to the amount of Pain Tokens the Soul Prison has.

I'm going to make a guess that this will be the last Rules Manufactorum post of 2010. So it's goodnight from me, and goodnight from him, and we'll see you all in the New Year.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Codex: Stellan Hoplites

Today is a big day! As my early Christmas present to the blogosphere I am finally making an early version of Codex: Stellan Hoplites available to the public. I've worked very, very hard on this and I hope all of our followers will take the time to peruse it and leave their thoughts. 

I'm looking for feedback on anything you care to comment on. From rules issues to whether I've used my apostrophes correctly. The Codex is as yet incomplete but the rules have passed the first stage of playtesting and are ready to enter the beta stage. There's more artwork and background to be included as well as pictures of the models themselves.

Have at it folks.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Game Design Chores: Playtesting

Hey blogosphere, I'm back. After a long haul of playtesting and an excellent birthday week I have returned to regale you with tales of my trials and adventures. Today I want to talk about playtesting - the often arduous task that allows rules such as those designed on this site to transcend from wish-listing to pragmatic material.

Lately much of my hobby time (see: all of my hobby time) has been spent fine tuning the upcoming Codex: Stellan Hoplites. As a deranged, ego-maniacal game designer I have scarce allowed anyone to view my work thus far fearing how my fragile sanity might respond to any callous criticism. One thing I have not shirked from, however, is playtesting. This is not by choice, of course but rather because I know I cannot ever consider the project completed until this near-to-final step has been taken. Thus I've laid bare the rules I've toiled so long over to the heavy criticism of no less than three different gaming groups here in Athens.

Receptions have been mixed to say the least. Some despise my work as an unbalanced piece of garbage that strays heedlessly from GW's maternal bosom. Many have claimed that if it were by GW it would be the best page-for-page document they had ever produced. It's been tough sifting through bias and weighing opinions according to the experience level of those that offer them. It's been a headache through and through to be honest but it has also taught me much and so I'd like to share some of those lessons with others that might begin the long journey to completing a fandex.

Lesson 1: "You can bring a [insert favorite animal here] to water but you cannot make it drink."

Some people, though they may claim an open mind, will never, ever accept anything that does not carry the GW logo clearly visible across the cover. Now I'm not referring to the people that have no love for fandex's in the first place - we all know custom rules are not for everyone. Rather I'm describing those players that claim to enjoy fan-made work but are, in fact, opposed to any idea that is not GW sanctioned.

For instance, there are many players who are constantly in your ear about how much better my fan-made unit is compared to one of GW's whenever they remotely similar stats or wargear. There is no consideration  for that fact that units cannot be compared in a vacuum and even less consideration that you cannot compare any units that have not come out since 5th edition and even those are often well below par.

Some people do not want or enjoy fandex's and will argue to the death heedless of reason or logic.

Lesson 2: "Maximum Iteration."

You played a game against Space Wolves with your custom 'dex, and then another and then another. You've played a dozen games and every time the units you field appear to sneakily shift one way or the other across the points-efficiency spectrum. In the course of two games key units become useless and fringe units become linchpin line-holders. Are these units too cheap or too expensive?

Many who begin the journey of playtesting are not informed of how long it is. You need what video game engine designers call "iterative power." You rolled a little off-average on that assault - stand the casualties back up and start it over. Roll the dice again and again just to see what would have happened. Maybe the below-average shooting in the previous phase was to blame for that unexpected outcome... start the turn over. Then roll it back to the deployment phase.

Playtesting needs patience. Every game becomes 20 or so games wrapped into one and both players must understand that although some fun might be had, playtesting is work.

Lesson 3: "Balance is an Illusion"

I am a good player - one of the best in my area. When I play pick up games sometimes I take a look at the opponents list and simply field whatever I think is comparable. In my latest game I played against a hybrid Blood Angels army with that "little bit of everything" symptom that newbie players tend to suffer from. I play Airborne Imperial guard and as my opponent explained his list to me I unpacked a few models and began to deploy.

After a thrillingly close game which I won by hair a "hard number" count revealed my army to be just 1355 points compared to his 1750. But the game was fair. Not just in terms of my experience compared to my opponents but in terms of what tools each of us had at his disposal to win the game.

What this means is that the game's balance is left largely in the hands of the players - not the rules. There is no way to guarantee an even match with the point system that is currently in place because there are too many variables by far. Essentially, what I'm getting at is that points don't matter. That's right. For whatever reason, the system as it stands has ceased to function as well as it should and points are not the foundation of army balance because there is so much that can't be quantified. The haphazzard system of points allocation in codeces is largely held together by the fact that many rules documents feature overlapping rules.

It's not the value of the point systems we're discussing however, but how it affects playtesting. For me personally it has led to heavy consideration of such things as "physical restrictions" and "codex homogenatization" - in other words the pursuit of roundabout methods for unit efficiency balance and cross-comparison.

I'm not always good with words so here's an example of the issue I'm getting at: Rhinos are dirt cheap. Why? Surely they are worth more than the paltry 35 points! And yet they aren't. In fact it would hardly make a difference at all (or not as much as you would think) if Rhinos came free with every ten man Tac squad. Here the "physical restrictions" are that a) Rhinos take up physical space and often become a burden to the owning player just as much as the opposing when used en masse and b) the Tac squad requirement further exacerbates this issue since more is not always better when it comes to limited capability units.

"Codex homogenatization" is an issue I've discussed before and may be the only route to accurate point-costing and playtesting. By focusing forces to narrower cross-sections of their broader factions (i.e. Deathwing instead of Dark Angels) balancing forces against one another actually becomes feasible.

These are just a few thoughts on the playtesting arena as I've experienced it. Once I've poured over my notes I'll be able to give better advice and in more detail.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Rules Review: Eldar Hornet

Alright, the Dark Eldar are here now, my period of absence is over. Later I'll put something up regarding mechanics and possible hints at the future, but right now, the Hornet. The rules can be found here.

In my opinion, it's much harder to design new vehicles (except Walkers) than units, mainly because you have less options available to you. There are less possible configurations, stats and options. For example, the Raider and the Trukk are really rather similar except one floats and one misses with most of its shots.

The Hornet falls into the 'mobile heavy weapon vehicle' category in the Eldar Codex, a space it shares with the Vyper and the War Walker, and it almost immediately eclipses the Vyper. For 65 points I can get a Vyper with star engines and a shuriken cannon. For the same cost I can have a Hornet, which has two shuriken cannons, star engines for free and two better armour. On top of this, the Hornet isn't open-topped, and can Scout.

The War Walker also Scouts and is cheaper, but its also slower. Plus, it's a Heavy choice, which means its competing with the Falcon and the Wraithlord, and to a lesser extent Prisms and Reapers. The Hornet on the other hand competes with... not much at a competitive level. It seems like a no-brainer to take it over its competitors then.

The shiny new bit of the Hornet is that it can take Pulse Lasers, usually the sole domain of the Falcon. However this is expensive and hence I'd go for a pair of Bright Lances, Scatter Lasers or the EML.

Overall then, the Hornet seems a brilliant Fast Attack choice, at the expense of making two other units completely redundant. This may be a fault of the actual Codex rather than anything else (many units seem too expensive for what they do compared to other armies), in which case consider this an excellent fix.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Character Defined Armies- The Remake

Alright, I'm back to re-jig Shrike and Vulkan a bit. First off, some things to note.

I'm keeping their current statlines, points costs and wargear. On to the first patient:

Kayvaan Shrike:

The Problem: Everything? Fleet? Even stuff that really shouldn't be able to?

The Solution: All special rules are the same with the exception of Chapter Tactics, which is amended to the following:

"If you include Shrike in your army then all units in your army lose the Combat Tactics special rule and all units with Jump Packs and Scouts in the army gain the Fleet universal special rule."

This is much more fitting with the Raven Guard fluff, and gives more of a theme to the army. The vision here is a Raven Guard recon force bolstered by jump pack reinforcements.

Shrikes Wing: If Shrike takes a Command Squad they may purchae Jump Packs for +50 points for the entire squad.

I'm including this because I don't see why it wasn't included in the first place.

Vulkan He'Stan:

The Problem: Twin linked melta guns for all or a sometimes useful rule? Hmm...

The Solution: Again, all rules are identical bar Chapter Tactics, which is now:

"If you include Vulkan in your army then all units lose the Combat Tactics special rule. Instead, the army gains the Master Artificers rule as detailed below."

Master Artificers: The Salamanders pride themselves on their personally maintained and modified weapons. The player gains a stock of five Artificer Points (AP) at the start of the game. Once per turn you may remove one point and select a unit. For that turn, either all of their ranged weapons count as twin-linked or their close combat weapons count as master-crafted.

This one I justify as follows: in a particularly decisive combat or a crucial shot, the Salamanders' better weaponry gives them the edge they need. Instead of a blanket weapons buff, this encourages you to use your CO Power (continuing my metaphor from last week) when you need it rather than taking it for granted.

I then had a bit of a think, and also made a change to:

Darnath Lysander:

The Problem: Lysander is nice as he is, but he's more than a really good Sergeant.

The Solution: Cost increased to 220. Bolter Drill is lost and the following rules are added:

Teleport Assault: As Captain of the First Company Lysander leads his Terminators to battle in a surigical strike. When rolling for Reserves in an army containing Lysander roll one D6 for Lysander and all units in Terminator armour. When they enter play, place Lysander and any unit accompanying him first and roll for scatter as normal. Subsequent units can arrive within 6" of Lysander without scattering in the same turn, or may Deep Strike in the normal way.

First Company: In an army containing Lysander one unit of either Terminators or Assault Terminators may be taken as a Troops choice.

And this concludes my ramblings on Special Characters. If you disagree, do not hesitate to tell me why.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Character Defined Armies: An Epiphany

Earlier this year this blog covered this subject and came to the conclusion that "All Imperial Fists are Stubborn Ultramarines led by a dude with a hammer." Yep, sounds about right. Since then however, GW has made a fair bit of progress with this concept that characters aren't just normal commanders with master crafted weapons.
The main problem with Special Characters isn't the characters themselves, or the 'counts-as is OK' approach GW takes. It's a question of their role in an army and what I think it should be. But first, this:
You may notice the terrible screenshot posted above my words. If you're really clever, you may notice it is a screenshot of Advance Wars: Dark Conflict. Although there are better looking images of character select screens on the 'Net, I wanted this one for a reason. In this game, you may attach your Commanding Officer (CO) to a unit in your army (hmm...) and he/she will give their unit, or units around their unit, a specific bonus. For example, your tanks may get slightly better, or all units around the CO get a slight defence boost. Therefore it might be a good idea to add more tanks to your army, or plan your attack to maximise the defence bonus to get the most benefit out of your army. Like so:

In this example, only ground units benefit. There are blankets, yes, but they're weaker.

In the new Dark Eldar, we get a similar feel. Lady Malys makes her unit immune to psychic powers. Duke Sliscus improves one unit's poison and gives you two choices of Combat Drugs. Baron Sathonyx makes Hellions Troops. Point is, not every unit in your army has the potential to benefit, so you'll want to tailor your list more.

Looking back at Space Marines, instead of this specific boost to certain units, some characters improve everything instead. Shrike makes you Fleet. Vulkan makes your anti infantry better (flamers) and your anti-tank (melta weapons, thunder hammers). Instead of being specific, these guys give you a blanket bonus.

Yes, you can tailor your list around Vulkan, but you don't have to in order to gain a decent advantage. Most Space Marine armies will have a couple of flamers or melta guns. There are few units that wouldn't be better with Fleet. On the other hand, taking Sathonyx with no Hellions, or Sliscus but no Warriors, is pointless, as you're not getting everything he offers you, therefore some of his cost is a waste of points. Malys is slightly different in that she's more tactics based than list-based. You'll want to put her somewhere she'll be really appreciated, rather than just with that random squad over there.

Thankfully, the Space Marines do have this sort of character too. Sicarius is like a Sliscus for Tactical Squads, offering one unit a benefit. Pedro Kantor benefits Sternguard. Even our old mate Lysander gives a specific bonus to his unit with Bolter Drill. I like these characters, because you have to put more thought into their use. I also like the old-style combat monsters, as they too gave a specific bonus, as whatever unit they are with is immediately more threatening, or the character is just a fire magnet on their own. But Shrike? More like "My army all Fleets, ha!" Instead of making you think about their use, anyone can slot them in and immediately everything's all better.

Hopefully you now see what I want Special Characters to become. Not an instant buff for an army, not something easily abuseable, but a completely new fighting style for an army to adopt. So with that in mind, look at the Codex in front of you, and choose your CO.

Hopefully I'll soon put up Part 2, where I shall attempt to rewrite Vulkan and Shrike to make them fit in better with my concept of the Special Character.

You'll also notice this bit's in a shade of green rather than red. This is because I, Master Bryss, can now post my own stuff rather than going through Atrotos first. He's currently working away at the Stellans so has less time to post. See you all next time.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Shas’O Ka’La in Marlin Warmech

This beautiful creature was entered into the Open category at Golden Demon UK 2010. Whoever made it is a G’Od

Rules by Master Bryss

When Shas’O Ka’La’s Crisis Battlesuit was destroyed during the Battle of Este V, his ejection system left him stranded in what was left of the battlefield. His army was massacred and the only survivors he found were a few Earth Caste members who had hid in the safety of their bunker until the battle was over. They surveyed what was left of the battle and realised that a lot of the debris could be easily restored to working order. After many days of work, they created a truly unique war machine, dubbed it the Marlin and allowed Ka’La to operate it. The machine subsequently destroyed the nearby Imperial forces and was extracted by the Air Caste. Ka’La was later given command of an army again and has henceforth led his forces from the seat of this mighty behemoth.

The Marlin can be used in a Tau force as a HQ choice. It counts as the 1+ Commander the army must take.

Cost: 220 points

Vehicle Type: Walker

Wargear: Hammerhead Railgun, Blacksun Filter, Multi-Tracker, Long Barrelled Burst Cannon, Energy Absorption Field

Long Barrelled Burst Cannon: Has the following profile:

Range: 36”      Strength: 5      AP: 5    Type: Heavy 6

Energy Absorption Field: The Marlin Warsuit has a 5+ Invulnerable Save. 

Special Rules: Jet Propulsion, Behemoth

Jet Propulsion: The Marlin’s jetpack allows it more mobility but not as much as a conventional Battlesuit jetpack. The Marlin may move D6” in the Assault Phase.

Behemoth: The Marlin’s bulk allows it to attack as a Monstrous Creature in close combat.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Rules Review: Can Dark Eldar change the game?

In short:


At length:

Warseer’s the Dude has got a fairly comprehensive post enumerating everything that is thus far confirmed to be in the codex of the Dark Kin. Much was gleaned from the presentation at Gamesday UK just a few days ago leaving the more competitive players among us with a lot to consider.
First off, the question on everyone’s mind: Will the Dark Eldar be the end of Mech? The answer from my point of view is “to an extent.” With Ravagers firing all of their weapons at cruising speed and possible options for melta weapons on jetbike squads vehicles will not escape the hail of anti-tank firepower that the Dark Eldar can deliver to any part of the table top. Not to be underestimated also is the possibility of melta toting units (like Harlequins) firing their microwave weaponry from inside their transports. This is nothing new, of course since many transports have firing points but the speed (and presumably cheap cost) of the Dark Eldar rides can force even the most reckless close-combat list into a defensive line.
I also foresee a game changer in the cheap invulnerable saves to be found with Wyches. These units haven’t changed much but a new set of rules (and amazing new models) does mean that their popularity is likely to skyrocket. No longer will hammer units be able to wiz through an army. Power Klaws and Thundehammers are going to have a hard time against 40+ 4+ Invulnerable saves. To make matters worse Wyches and other units in the codex are likely to feature an absurd amount of high Initiative attacks. Combined with a healthy sprinkling of Furious Charge and Poison attacks we may see 5 man TH/SS squads going down before they can even swing.
In general the Dark Eldar will, just as they always have, hunt those small, elite forces. Land Raiders will be laughed at, uber characters with Initiative <7 will be laughed at, Grey Knights will… continue to be laughed at. At least until their codex drops in January.
I expect the Dark Eldar are going to change many things about the way we design our lists. Players already favor autocannon and missile launchers over lascannons but we may see Heavy Bolters make a comeback with each tournament list adjusted to include at least a few of these weapons. Strength 5 and 6 – normally left at home for their inability to deal with AV11 and 12 will be more than adequate deal with the AV10 Raider spam and the 4/5+ saves they contain.
The game needed a jolt - something to get players to think about more variety in their lists and new kinds of opposition that down keel over to AP2 and 1. If you are bored with the so-called metagame it might be worth sticking around till November. Something tells me we’re in for more than few surprises and come December we may be playing a whole new game altogether. 


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Rules Review: Necron Tomb Stalker

By Master Bryss

I’ve always had a soft spot for the little metal men of 40k, they were my first army after all. And now Forge World in their infinite generosity have given them a centipede. I love the look of this thing, I want one for my army, but do I want the rules? Let’s have a look...

On first impressions the TS appears to be moulded in a similar manner to the Trygon. It has the ability to deep strike, it’s monstrous, it’s got loads of wounds, it Fleets and it’s pretty damn hardy too, with the second best toughness in the game. It also borrows a Carnifex rule to have 6 attacks on the charge, and it’s here the Tyranid similarities end.

That’s not saying much though, the only things that mark it out as Necron in any way is the Gauss Flayers it holds and the War Construct rule (there’s also Night Vision/Acute Senses, but considering how situational it is and how short range its guns are I’ll disregard this). War Construct is an incredibly good rule to have as it eliminates the most common Monstrous Creature weakness (poison) in the same way as the Monolith eliminates melta guns. It also makes a lot of sense for a Necron, so I like it. The other main weakness of MCs is getting stuck in combat with tarpit units, but guess what? This thing has Hit and Run! Problem solved.

As it’s a Heavy choice, this means it’s competing with the Monolith for a place in your army, and even then you’ll need permission to use it and can’t use it in many tourneys. But when you can use it, the main question is whether or not you’d take one over a ‘Lith. I think I would. As it stands this is probably the best anti-tank option the Necrons have, mainly because it’s so fast. Problem is, all the useless meltaguns in the enemy army may well target this instead, but not killing it in a turn allows it to hide in combat, something vehicles can’t do. In comparison, the Monolith is a great LOS blocker that adds mobility to the rest of your army but is slow moving and doesn’t tend to earn its points back quickly. So both have strengths and weaknesses.

As it stands to me, the Tomb Stalker is a very welcome addition to a Necron army, a solid ruleset by Forge World (I’m not sure if I’d increase the cost a bit though) and an excellent Heavy purchase all round. Shame it will no doubt cost me a hundred quid to add it to my army.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Codex Design: Building Army Character

Hey guys,

been awhile since my last post. I've been immersed in Halo: Reach this past week - more on that here.

What I wanted to talk about today is a topic that has been troubling me since I began writing Codex: Stellan Hoplites. What I've found is that creating lore about a civilization or even just their armed forces is a taxing job and often seems pointless. Why add character to a book that is all about rules?

Well the obvious answer to that is that Warhammer 40,000 is not all about rules. If it were it would simply be a lackluster variation of chess. 40k is about cinematic realization as much as it is about inches and dice. There's a story being told in every decision the player makes that allows the cooperative creation of a battle scene centered around our favorite characters. 

So what makes these little guys so special? Well Games Workshop has invested a lot of money and manhours building a universe from scratch so that our toy soldiers can have context. The context gives them a time and place and, as the story evolves, it gives them a motive - a reason to fight. This reason can be almost anything as GW has often shown us but without this detail the rules on the page are lifeless and dull. 

With the Stellans, one major objective I had was to really focus on their "humanity" to kind of place them outside the somewhat tired supersoldier paradigm. GW is great at producing history for their factions but very few armies posses culture. The short stories and timelines tend to focus on the fighting and never seem to really identify the belligerents beyond the lucky few special characters. 

Some time ago I had posted a short story about one of the Hoplite characters, Sergeant Drade. Short stories are rarely short enough in my opinion and so they don't get much attention. What I was trying to impart, however, in the story is that every one of the Hoplites is considered a hero to the common Stellan. It doesn't take superhuman strength or psychic powers to be a hero. Rather it's facing the myriad perils of the 40k universe without those tools that makes the run-of-the-mill human being so great.

There are many attempts all over the inter-webs to create new codices. Though few of these involve an original "race" as mine does those few that do never seem to include any kind of soul in there fluff. Always the story revolves around the great battles and overcoming the odds but it is never human beings that fight those battles - only numbers on a page. 

In parting, I'll leave you guys with this - a little piece of Stellan culture. Why not tell me what you think?


Graceful spirit astride the sky 
For whom does the Death’s rattle sigh? 

A phantom memory run amok
 The warrior of time, of legend 
gone afore us but not yet dead
 doth now reach you 

His hands are full of blood.

 The shield, the sword 
the lance of light 
trinkets in a box sealed in man’s 
own heart

 Now to punish, now to parry
 the mud-caked boots 
will never change 
He reaches for the sky, longing 

His hands are full of blood. 

His fingers mine, 
His memory unyielding 
Raging in a quiet sea of time 
He reaches you, accept him 

He is not dead
 For he is me, 
I accept him 
and his hands full 
his fingers clothed in crimson 

Are my hands full of blood. 

Graceful spirit astride the sky 
For whom does the Death’s rattle sigh?
 Not for the Stars, no not I
 I may fall 
But I will never die 

- Extract from the Inquisitorial Battle Hymnal vol. MXII, written after the Hoplites’ costly victory on Posthia

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Codex Design: FOC amputation

So the designs for the Stellans have progressed quite a bit and inevitably I’ve reached a stage where much more time is given to removing superfluous entries than adding new ones.  From the very beginning the main objective of the codex was to create completely flexible entries thus minimizing any entries that did not contribute directly to what has become a very focused theme for the army.

Over time this design strategy has emptied the codex of any ‘padding’ where ‘padding’ refers to units that are added because they are deemed necessary to complete the codex’s profile even though they make for unlikely choices in any list. As an example let’s examine the Skyclaws from the Space Wolves’ Codex; an entry that has difficulty excusing its existence in a document that discourages their inclusion by providing more lucrative units around which the codex is based. That is to say Space Wolves players seeking to make the most of their codex would naturally drift toward choices such as the Wolf Guard or Lone Wolves – units that maximize the codex’s strong unit customization qualities. If you had a thing for Assault squads you’re expected to fulfill those urges by using the Blood Angels codex.

So the ‘padding’ is gone leaving much of the time-tested FOC system untouched. Under normal circumstances this would pressure me as the writer and designer to generate units to fill the gaps but more and more this feels forced and disingenuous. There’s no need for a Fast Attack in an army that has no ‘slow’ attack. What’s the point in labeling units as Elite when the whole army is like the Grey Knights of the Imperial Guard? After years of sideline development I’ve come to find that the FOC and the Stellans simply don’t match, at least, not as they are.

Before we begin this high-risk operation we must decide on what exactly needs to be amputated. The game obviously requires certain parameters from the codex, namely the ‘Troops’ and ‘HQ’  sections as these are referred to directly by the basic scenario rules. So we need both of these FOC types or at least an analogue. Then we must define what exactly falls outside of these two categories. The Stellans do have some obvious ‘heavy’ units but it’s less obvious who the Elites are.  Let’s call our single Elite choice a “Special” as this is an accurate description and let’s assign it a 0-1 limitation with perhaps a character-related unlock that will allow more than one to be taken or, perhaps, scoring status.

 That leaves us with our support units. While simply calling them ‘Heavy Support’ appears to fix the problem superficially the 0-3 limitation may not be applicable given that the slot is meant to contain the Elites and Fast Attack sections as well. Therefore new limitations have to be instituted with each unit within the support section getting its own limitation as well as a regular FOC designation for those special scenarios and tournament missions that take Fast Attack and Elite units into account.

Overall I’m happy to be so close to completing this huge project but it is disheartening to find myself unprepared for design decisions such as this one. I hope I’m making the right choice and that the trimming of the FOC tree won’t make prospective players uncomfortable. Given how important it is to me that this codex be as user friendly as possible I find solutions such as these difficult to swallow. Hopefully I can continue to give the Stellans that distinct character they deserve without alienating the document from other mainstream codecies.


Monday, 6 September 2010

Wraithlord Soareth

Rules by Ahrimaneus

Cost: 270


Unit Type: Monstrous Creature

Special Rules:

Master Strategist: Adds +1 to reserve rolls and allows the player to choose
the side for outflankers on a 3+ (1 is L, 2 is R)

Fleet of Foot, Assault Grenades (should be a special rule), Stubborn

Lord of Spirits: When the Sprit Lord takes the field, his rousing agitates
the warrior spirits inhabiting the infinity circuit and spurs them to again
walk in the shadow of Kaela Mensha Khaine. Wraithguard of any squad size
count as troops.

A Thousand Lifetimes of War: The Autarch has defended his craftworld for
countless millenia, both in life and afterwards. He has walked every path
of the warrior and is skilled in every aspect of warfare. The autarch may
choose one exarch power from the following list at the beginning of each
turn: Defend, Crack Shot, Fast Shot


Holofield Generator: Even with his massive bulk the specially fitted and
modified personal Holofield Generator masks the Autarch's true position and
blurs his movements, Making it very difficult to effectively wound him both
in close combat and at range. The Autarch has a 4+ Invulnerable save.

The Autarch is equipped with:

A pair of wraithblades that provide +1 attack (included in profile), and 24"
range D-cannon

Debating on giving him WS/BS 7 but I figure he's not quite a phoenix lord
and WS6 with rerolls on a wraithlord is ridiculous already. In the modern
day herohammer era though it might be worth thinking about along with all
kinds of other nonsense rules if we really wanna get creative.

Picture from MajesticChicken's Deviant Art Profile