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

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Colonel Kerch of the Armageddon Steel Legion

Rules by Master Bryss

When Ghazghkull Thraka descended upon Armageddon for the third time, the young Kerch immediately signed up to joined the fight against him. Assigned to an Armoured Fist squad at first, the young Kerch rose through the ranks and made Colonel at the age of 35. His firm belief in leading from the front has resulted in him leading hundreds of mechanised assaults, refining his tactics each time as well as perfecting his famed Armoured Barrage Drill.

One Company Commander in the army can be replaced with Kerch for +70 points. His squad MUST take a Chimera (see Transport for cost).


Unit type: Infantry (unique)


  •  Carapace Armour
  •  Bolt Pistol
  •  Power Weapon
  •  Frag grenades
  •  Refractor field
Special Rules:

  • Senior Officer
  • Mechanised Regiment

Senior Officer: Kerch may issue up to two orders each turn with a command radius of 12”. He may give orders to units mounted in a Chimera. He can use the following orders: Bring It Down!, Fire on my Target!, First Rank, FIRE! Second Rank, FIRE!, Incoming! and Move! Move! Move! In addition he may use the following unique order:
Unleash hell!: At Kerch’s order, his troopers launch a torrent of fire from     their Chimera transports. If the order is successfully used, the ordered unit makes a Shooting attack with all eligible squad members, ignoring the number of Fire Points on their Chimera.

Mechanised Regiment: The Armageddon Steel Legion often utilises Armoured Fist squads instead of the platoon structure.
In armies containing Kerch, Infantry squads may be bought on their own, as a single Troops choice. However, units bought in this way MUST be mounted in a Chimera.

Notes on Orders: When issuing Orders to units in Transports, the usual restrictions apply. You may not issue an order to a unit whose transport moved at Cruising Speed in that Movement Phase. I would also advise you not to tell mounted units to Move! Move! Move! or to make them go to ground with Incoming!, as these orders are useless inside of a transport.