Review of 6th Edition…So Far: Part 2

Now we start into part 2 of my review of 6th ed.  You can go back and read the first part here.

3D-Chaos-Codex15            Chaos was the first new codex of 6th edition, and it dropped around Christmas as I remember.  I haven’t played chaos since their 3rd edition book, and yeah, there were a lot of changes.  Helldrakes immediately were recognized for the fire breathing horrors they were.  They only got worse when GW FAQed that the flamer had a 360 degree fire arc.  Cultists were the new hotness, super cheap troops that you could min max with to your hearts content.  Don’t forget about the flying daemon prince with his black mace.  He is still a jerk, but as a friend and I learned in a tournament, not invincible.  People experimented with cult troops, but ultimately nurgle appeared to be the best.  At the time, there was no great moaning about the overall strength of the codex.

Dark-Angels-Codex             Dark Angels were the follow up in January/February (I could look it up, but that really isn’t relevant).  Deathwing was popular.  Especially those deathwing knights and there giant beat sticks.  For a time, the deathwing knights were a scary unit to see on the table, with the ability to crush just about anything in close combat and the increased toughness.  The flyers looked cool, but I only every saw one person playing them.  I can remember everyone talking about a ravenwing army being strong, but never saw one fielded.

m3061229a_60030115003_DaemonsCodexENG02_873x627              There was some fantasy nonsense next I think, then the drop of Daemons.  I specifically remember the very comical lamentation of one particular gamer’s love-hate relationship with the random tables, (our own Ralshenik Genial, Tender of the Sacred Gardens).  This army saw a huge change.  No longer forced to deploy the entire army in two waves via deepstrike really opened up how you could play this force.  The warp storm table threw in some great random shenanigans.  Taking four heralds in a single HQ slot was new, allowed you to throw around some really great buffs to your units and allowed for tons of physic potential (which we will soon learn sucks).  Shortly after the release I remember the rise of the flying daemon lists (aka flying circus).  I took the list on with my orks, killed all the flying monstrous creatures, but couldn’t reach the plague bearers on the backfield objectives.

This is about the time our first true deathstar makes its appearance.  The screamerstar.  Based around a unit of screamers and 3-4 heralds of tzeentch.  Through the cleaver application of a psychic power raising there invuln to 4+, then the grimoire raising it to a 2+, and tzeentch’s ability to re-roll saving throws of a 1 we now had a nearly invincible unit.  The unit is no slouch in close combat and is jetbikes, so can move incredibly fast.  The heralds provide the option to shoot with some psychic powers and prevent you from taking out the guy holding the grimoire.  The fact that you need to deal 36 wounds just to get one through is insane.  I faced this unit once, and it was no joke.  Tore apart my orks and took down my allies’ chaos without much hassle.

And thus brings us to the conclusion of part 2.  Up next Tau and Eldar.  Stay tuned.

Planetfall: Part 3

Holographic displays recreated the last moments of the battle between the Ultramarines and the Tau. Warlock Sereth watched distastefully as the Tau leader attempted to transmit the data that his infernal device had acquired. “These methods are barbaric! The device must be destroyed.” He said, unequivocally. Hidden in the webway; a realm between the warp and the materium, the elegant Ulthwé warship Asredil was invisible to the belligerents upon the nearby world of Tarandros. Within the vessel’s meditation chamber, a heated debate was underway.

“They are a young race, Sereth. They do not fully comprehend what it is that they meddle with.” Farseer Erethentil retorted. The warlock was not dissuaded “even so, it is our duty to protect the younger races from their own folly. These manipulations can only serve to draw the attention of the Hive Mind” Sereth insisted. “Can we risk open war with the Tau? Has it not been seen that they are our best hope for survival?” asked Warlock Lenea. Having remained silent thus far, Farseer Aramel answered “the Seer Council of Ulthwé has indeed determined that the Eldar must align themselves with the Tau Empire. Only together can we hope to stand against the dark powers. However, this does not mean that we can allow their youthful curiosity to drive them along a familiar, ruinous path.”

Erethentil nodded in agreement “fortunately, the Ultramarine Captain prevented the Tau leader from transmitting the emitter’s collected data” he said. “But it was not destroyed!” complained Warlock Sereth. “The mon-keigh fools did not even notice that it existed. They slew all without bothering to discover why the Tyranid creatures could fall under another’s control!” he continued. “Surely those that wrought this device will seek to recover it.” Aramel sighed before responding “sadly, that is the way of the Astartes. They live only for war, much like the Exarchs of our race. Little interests them beyond battle and defending their empire.” Sereth scoffed “what empire? their power has no serious opposition in this galaxy and yet they can barely hold their crumbling government together! What are these mon-keigh defending? They have no culture to speak of, except for their fanatical devotion to their corpse emperor!”

“You go too far Warlock!” Aramel said sternly. “The Crippled King does more for the war against Chaos than you can possibly imagine! You have walked the path of the Seer for only a brief while. If you cannot participate in our councils civilly, then perhaps you walk the wrong path.” He added. Cowed, the young warlock apologized “I am sorry, Farseer Aramel, I spoke without thinking. I allowed my passions to overcome my sense.” Aramel nodded. “Our emotions can serve us well, but there is a time and a place for each of them. It is well that you recognize this” he said. “We should influence events against the recovery of this device if possible. But open conflict with the Tau should be avoided” voiced Erethentil, eager to return the discussion to the topic at hand. “Agreed” the other Seers said, unanimously.

Suddenly, the mind of every Seer present was touched by another’s. It was Farseer Ithiniael, communicating telepathically from his diplomatic quarters aboard the Tau flagship in high orbit above Darkstar Sept. “It is I, Farseer Ithiniael. May I address this Council?” he asked. Though everyone knew his identity, decorum demanded that the ritual words be spoken. Every mind within the meditation chamber consented to Ithiniael’s intrusion. “I have spoken to Commander Darkstar’s Ethereal, Aun’ro” the Farseer mind-spoke. His message was conveyed not just in words, but also in emotion and images of his summit with the Tau leadership. “It would seem that the Tau’s sensors have detected the approach of the Alpha Legion, and recognize this threat. We have been granted permission to enter the Tau Empire’s sovereign soil of Tarandros, and are invited to joint-operations with Tau forces to expel the forces of Chaos. However, Aun’ro expressed great dismay at the uninvited arrival of Imperium forces to this system. Particularly given that the Imperium’s ‘reclamation fleet’ far exceeds their colonization armada. The Tau respectfully request our aid in expelling the Imperium interlopers. In spite of this, he made no mention of the open hostilities between the Tau and Adeptus Astartes.”

The gathered Eldar psykers were not surprised to learn this. The new Tau weapon, that allowed limited control over Tyranid forces, was obviously a closely held secret. The Tau would not risk revealing its existence, even to would-be allies. Quite familiar with intrigue, the Eldar had no intention of pressing the matter. “Is it wise to antagonize the mon-keigh by joining forces with the Tau against them?” Lenea asked with her mind. “We have already examined the skein thoroughly. All favorable futures require collaboration with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. “The Tau Commander Boldstrike is tasked with securing an abandoned industrial sector” added Aramel. “Unbeknownst to him, the Imperium forces count with the support of the Dark Angels. Without our aid, he is doomed to fail. Under cover of darkness, we can descend upon the humans and disrupt their communications. Their leaders will believe that only the Tau were responsible for their demise” the Farseer continued.

“Farseer Aramel and I will lead the strike force. Warlocks Lenea, Sereth and Naril will join us. Farseer Ithiniael will remain with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. Psychically, the gathered Council expressed its unanimous agreement. The Eldar seers aboard the Asredil felt Ithiniael’s mind depart. “What of Farseer Maceil?” asked Lenea. The two Farseers looked uncertain. A force of Eldar from Craftworld Windu had made contact with them as soon as they had reached the Sorathian webway network. It was they that had warned the Ulthwé Seers of the approach of Chaos to Tarandros. Maceil had led his own strike force to the planet surface, but none aboard the Asredil had heard from him again. The skein was strangely clouded to all inquiries into the Farseer’s fate. “For now, knowledge of our kin’s whereabouts is beyond us. We must hope that he is well, and focus on the task at hand. Fate will no doubt reveal the truth, in time” said Aramel. With that, the Coucil session was adjourned, and the Seers destined to do battle went to don their arms and armor.

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The Imperial Guard 678th Cadian Armored division had been ordered to reclaim Tarandros’ industrial sector in the name of the Emperor. Their landing transports had reached the planet surface soon after the Ultramarine spearhead pierced the ork horde. They spent the remainder of the day mopping up the rag-tag bands of savages that had taken up residence in the ruins of an ancient Manufactorum. As the sun set, enormous abandoned cranes cast long shadows on the Guardsmen below.

A portion of the division was ordered to patrol the perimeter. This force consisted of two Hellhounds, two Chimera transports filled with veteran Guardsmen, a squadron of two Flakk tanks and a squadron of two Lehman Russ battle tanks. They were joined by Adeptus Astartes of the Dark Angel chapter. None of the Guardsmen had been notified of their arrival, they had simply appeared, seemingly intent on joining the patrol. This made Guardsman Yorik nervous. He had heard tales of the mysterious Dark Angels. It was said that they always follow their own agenda and are utterly ruthless in the service of the Emperor. But they would not travel all this way just to kill orks. Something more must be afoot and the possibilities gave Yorik chills.

The Guardsman’s musings were interrupted by a loud explosion. He peered out of one of his Chimera’s firing grate and saw that something had turned the nearest Hellhound into a smoldering ruin. The vehicle burned brightly in the night, but there was no sign of the attacker. On instinct, the Cadian forces fired their considerable armament in the direction they believed that the enemy shot had come from. Yorik’s world shook as his transport’s gunner opened fire with his multi-laser armament. At least some of the shots struck home, for the Chimera’s search lights zeroed in on the target. The illuminating beams revealed the hull of a black-painted skimmer, of unmistakably Eldar design. The Lehman Russ behemoths lumbered onwards, unleashing their battle cannons upon the revealed enemy vehicle. But the skimmer was moving too fast for the Imperial gunners, and the shots went wide. Eldar walkers revealed themselves with a torrent of laser fire. They pelted the advancing Dark Angel bikers with their scattered beams of light, before racing back into the gloom, out of reach of Imperial guns. To his horror, Yorik saw that five mighty Astartes bikers fell to this barrage.

The Chimera’s vox exploded with a stream of curses. “Hammerhead sighted…bring it down boys!” someone shouted authoritatively, probably the battle psyker that Commissar Nemo had left in charge. “Call for air support!” someone transmitted. “Outbound communications are down. Can’t reach Command” another replied. From his vantage point, Yorik could not make out the Tau forces, but he did hear the unmistakeable rumble of a heavy rail gun. Tau weaponry featured heavily in guardsman training-vids. Its first shot smashed into the front armor of a Lehman Russ, but its adamantium plates held strong. The other Chimera was not so fortunate and was wrecked by the Tau battle tank’s next volley. Yorik could see a triad of the infamous Crisis suits rise from the rubble using their jet packs. From the air, they sent streams of missiles and plasma fire into the Astartes bikers, only to disappear into the ruins to reload.

From the frantic vox communications, Yorik learned that the second Hellhound had moved up the right flank and begun to roast the Xenos hiding in the ruins. The painful screech of metal brought the guardsman’s attention back to the battle nearby. One Lehman Russ had finally succumbed to the Tau and Eldar combined firepower. Unexpectedly, bright bursts of light lanced into the Dark Angels’ land speeder from above. This was followed by a barely perceptible stream of projectiles. This proved too much for the vehicle and it was torn asunder, violently forcing the Astartes pilots out of their seats and throwing them several yards away from their destroyed land speeder. Clearly these shots had come from a flyer, but if it had made any noise during its arrival, Yorik had not heard it. The Flakk tank squadron immediately opened fire. Looking up through the Chimera’s top hatch, the Yorik finally saw the enemy flyer. Its hull was black, just as the skimmer that he had seen earlier. It made impossible maneuvers as it tried to jink out of the torrent of Flakk fire. But the Cadian anti-air tanks were unrelenting and eventually struck home. Bright sparks erupted from the flyer’s fuselage and one of its wings began to trail smoke. Although the flyer was not destroyed, it turned and flew out of the combat zone.

The guardsman had no time to celebrate this small victory. Another Eldar skimmer began to move towards his Chimera at impossible speed. His gunner fired at it with all available weapons, to no avail. The next thing Yorik knew, the Eldar vehicle was right next to him. Enemy artillery hidden in a ruined building fired directly at him. The weapons emitted arcane waves of supersonic sound. When these hit the Chimera’s hull, the entire vehicle began to vibrate uncontrollably. Within moments, the chassis was ripped apart, and the passengers were forced to disembark. Yorik and his fellow guardsmen climbed out of the wreckage, only to be greeted by a volley of laser fire. The guardsmen were cut down where they stood, until only four members of their squad remained. Seeing that the left flank was crumbling, their Sergeant ordered them to fall back. As Yorik scrambled to follow the remnants of his squad, he was struck in the back by a laser blast. Immediately he felt his body paralyze, and then his world went black.

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Aramel’s wave serpent glided to a halt just past the destroyed human vehicle. The attack was proceeding just as he had foreseen. Several Tau had fallen but, so far, no Eldar lives had been lost. Throughout the battle, Farseer Erethentil had guided the war-walker squadron, allowing them to perform their vital role of neutralizing the Dark Angels. He also used his powers of prescience to direct the guardians controlling the unit of Vibrocannon artillery that he had joined. Thanks to his guidance, the support battery was able to destroy several of the human vehicles. By now, only a handful of space marines and their lesser brethren remained. The two remaining vehicles would soon fall to the Tau onslaught. The carnage was unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Once the designated position was reached, the wave serpent’s door opened and the disembarkation ramp descended with a gentle hiss. Aramel’s unit of Storm Guardians drew their weapons and started to move out of the transport. The Farseer walked with them and was joined by warlock Sereth. Before they were able to exit the wave serpent, however, Aramel sensed a disturbance in the warp. A presence had entered realspace earlier this day and only now, that it had been momentarily cast back into the warp, was it forced to reveal itself. By his expression, Sereth had sensed it too. But he knew not the perils that lurk in the warp. Even as Farseer Aramel shouted at him with both mind and voice to stop, the bold warlock gazed through the raw warp at the servant of Tzeench. What he saw, consumed him. The titanic truth of the greater daemon’s presence within the warp was too much for Sereth to bear. His physical body could not withstand the vast psychic pressures that his mind had forced upon it, and he fell, lifeless.

Aramel’s heart was heavy as he gently placed the young warlock’s glowing soul stone in a special container within the transport. Perhaps this fate could have been avoided, but any future becomes uncertain when the changer of ways plays his hand. The Farseer chanted a quiet prayer to Isha, then donned his ghosthelm and joined the Storm Guardians on the planet surface. Wary, he reached into a pouch within his robes and began to cast his wraithbone carved runes and divined the possible futures to come. Using the specially designed ammunition intended for this mission, the warriors of Ulthwé fired their pistols at the last remaining Astartes.

Xxx...Expunged Security-vid Record...xxX

Xxx…Expunged Security-vid Record…xxX

Just as the last one fell, Aramel saw a future where the three fleeing humans nearby opened fire upon his Guardians. He saw over half of his ten-strong squad being consumed by flames. As the moment approached, the Farseer forewarned his squad members. Many jumped out of the flamer’s path before the bearer had even fired. Yet still three Storm Guardians fell, either dead or badly injured by the searing gouts of flame. Whilst the casualties were rushed back onto the wave serpent, the two guardians bearing fusion guns fired at their attackers, vaporizing the three humans in their tracks. All imminent threats having been neutralized, Aramel walked towards the group of Astartes that had fallen in the ruins ahead, located at the furthest edge of the Imperium’s collapsed left flank. The Farseer walked to a specific point in the rubble, and used his telepathic powers to raise the heavy slabs of fallen metal. With an effort of will, he found his buried objective, and wrested it from deep within the ground.

Aramel had unearthed an old human sensor array. It still functioned, as he knew it would, despite the centuries of disuse. He examined the device, but did not tamper with it. He placed it in the middle of a clearing within the ruins. After some time, he was joined by Warlock Lenea and her team of Black Guardians. They were followed by small automated hover-platforms, which carried the Dark Angel bikers, that had all fallen during the battle. With her hand, the Warlock led yet another hover-platform, this one carrying a device very similar to that excavated by Aramel. When she reached the Farseer, Lenea bowed her head and made a gesture of mourning for Sereth’s passing. The Farseer nodded and reciprocated the hand motion. “When will they awaken?” Lenea asked, referring to the ceramite-clad giants. “Fairly soon” replied Aramel, “our war walker’s scatter-lasers were modified to overload their nervous systems. I imagine that they will regain consciousness before day-break” he continued. “As for the toxin used by our Storm Guardians in place of their pistols’ shuriken fuel…It may be as effective. I obtained it from Archon Oberon. He owed me a favor.” Lenea nodded, but she was far from convinced. Their dark cousins made it very difficult for Craftwold Eldar to trust them.

Soon after, Aramel received a telepathic message from Farseer Erethentil. The Tau had been persuaded to relinquish control of the third sensor array. However, they knew nothing of the Space Marines’ survival and assumed that all had perished. Together, the three arrays will provide incontrovertible proof of the Alpha Legion’s presence within the Sorathian System and offer a clear indication of its movements on Tarandros itself. Once the arrays were in place, and the unconscious Astartes carefully deposited on the earth nearby, the protectors of Ulthwé prepared to leave. Before they parted, Lenea asked Aramel “could we not have simply told the shadowy mon-keigh that their quarry was here?” He smiled sadly. Though she could not see this through the Farseer’s helm, his mood was captured in the tone of his reply “alas, this is the only way in which Captain Tomas of the Dark Angels would believe our message. We explored countless futures before deciding on this course, but humans are very distrustful of alien species. This one in particular, would never accept that our warnings rung true. Thus, only the technology of his own people would suffice to guide him.”

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Guardsman Yorik was completely disoriented as he regained consciousness. He rose from the dirt and felt about his uniform for a wound, but did not find any. Though he distinctly remembered being struck in the back, he had somehow survived the same lethal weapon that had annihilated the mighty Adeptus Astartes bike squad. Yorik looked about, searching for friend and foe. Of the enemy, there was no sign. In the distance he heard the moaning of wounded Guardsmen. Occasionally Yorik would hear orders being barked, though he could not make out the words. It was probably that psyker again. All else was eerie quiet. As he searched his surroundings, he was very surprised to see a sizable contingent of Dark Angels congregating within the closest ruined building. These reinforcements must have routed the Xenos scum, the Guardsman reasoned. Carefully making his way through the rubble, Yorik moved in their direction.

When he was only a short distance away, Yorik could see three ancient machines placed in a semi-circle within the ruins. Standing before it, a Space Marine with finely decorated armor held a tiny disc-like object in his armored left hand. Yorik imagined that this must be the Dark Angel Captain. Before the Guardsman’s eyes, a holographic image projected itself from the strange device. It appeared to be a recording of some sort. It displayed a thin,robed, figure that began to speak. “Greetings Captain Tomas. I am Farseer Aramel of Craftworld Ulthwé.” The Eldar spoke Imperium basic with a strange accent. The words were clear and precise, but the inflection sounded forced and bizarre.

“Apologies for the subterfuge” the Eldar continued “it was the only way that we could retrieve these devices. Without them, you would not heed our warnings. Those you hunt are here. Know that they are our enemy also, and that we mean you no harm.” When the message ended, Captain Tomas crushed the projecting device in his fist. “Surely we cannot trust the Xenos scum?!” Blurted out Guardsman Yorik. The nearest Space Marine walked towards him, until he towered above Yorik. “Identify yourself Guardsman” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik exclaimed as he saluted. He then proceeded to stammer his name, rank and serial number. The super-human colossus nodded in acknowledgement “very well, Guardsman, you have served the Emperor well. Return to your unit” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik replied and went to rejoin the other Imperial Guard survivors. He had only taken a few steps when he heard shots fired nearby. He turned to see what was happening, only to come face to face with the Dark Angel’s bolt-pistol. Before he could say anything, the Astartes pulled the trigger.

Elsewhere, Chaos Lord Croxius lurked in the shadows, mounted upon his colossal warbike. The rest of his squad waited patiently behind him. In the distance, two Rhinos painted in Ultramarine colors rumbled toward an Imperial Guard checkpoint. The fools stood between Croxius and his goal. His misguided Astartes brothers had come seeking ancient gene-seed, to create more drones to serve the false emperor. “But they would not have it!” Croxius thought. The hated loyalist marines had hoarded his birthright for far too long. He would liberate the gene-seed and at long last the Legion would be allowed to grow, and engulf all of the Gods’ enemies. For this, he would be richly rewarded.

As soon as the Rhino transports came within sight of the Guardsmen, they were illuminated by several search lights. A vox-projector came to life with a loud burst of static “My lords!” exclaimed a nervous sounding Guardsman, “your Captain Titus has instructed us to ensure that none pass this point. We knew not to expect any Astartes from outside the perimeter” he continued. “Kindly speak the words of passage, and we shall hinder you no further” the Guardsman explained. Both transports activated their dirge casters. “For the Emperor!” twenty baritone voices shouted at the top of their genetically enhanced lungs. “Ah…indeed” replied the Guardsman, “but those are not quite the established words…if you…” At that point, the Rhinos accelerated to full speed and started to race towards the Imperial Guard lines. At the same time, their dirge casters began emitting a continuous stream of inhuman wailing and other disturbing, incomprehensible sounds.

Lord Croxius smiled wickedly as realization dawned upon the hapless humans. Thanks to the daemonic gifts that enhanced his already considerable Astartes physiology, he could hear the Guardsmen’s cries of terror. “Traitor marines!” Many of them shouted in shrill voices. The dirge casters’ symphonies were doing their work. The Imperial Guard scrambled to fire their guns at the advancing Rhinos, but it was too late. The chaos lord and his bikers revved their engines into a deafening roar and crashed onto the open cityscape, bellowing war cries and brandishing their cruel, daemon-morphed weapons. A pair of obliterators manifested out of the raw warp and unleashed powerful bolts of las-cannon fire upon the nearest enemy vehicle. The destructive beams burned deep holes into the Guardsman tank, turning it into a useless wreck.

As the chaos bikers rampaged across the battlefield, the Imperial Guard focused their firepower upon them. Two of their number were eventually shot off of their saddle, but Chroxius cared not. He hungered for carnage. Finally he reached the enemy’s lines and charged into the ranks of Guardsman infantry. They posed no real threat to the mighty chaos lord and he reveled in their slaughter. A demonic howl form above signaled a Helldrake’s arrival. It descended upon the puny mortals and bathed them in the glorious flames of Chaos. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion warriors had jumped out of their camouflaged Rhinos. Together with the obliterators’ heavy weapons, they lay waste to the Guardsman infantry and armor.

Croxius gloried in his impending victory. The surprise of his attack had been complete, and the servants of the false emperor were being swept away like wheat before the scythe. The chaos lord was so consumed with thoughts of his inevitable ascension, that he failed to notice that the weight of Guardsman firepower was taking its toll on his squad. By the time he finished butchering a squad of guardsmen with his chain-sword, he found himself alone. It mattered not. He had been chosen by the Gods. Croxius knew with absolute certainty that no mortal weapon could harm him. He revved his bike’s engines once more and charged headlong into the last remaining squad of Guardsmen.

Hundreds of lasgun beams rained upon him. Croxius laughed at these pathetic attempts to slay him and accelerated. When he was almost face to face with this fresh enemy, the chaos lord sought to raise his chain-sword above his head. Inexplicably, his mighty muscles refused to comply. With all of his will, Croxius commanded his limb to move, but it would not budge. “What trickery is this?!” He wanted to bellow, but found that he had no voice. Unable to control his bike, Croxius was powerless to prevent his deviation into a pile of rubble. He crashed into it and was violently thrown off of his saddle. As he lied on his back, unable to move, the chaos lord realized that he was dying. Enslaved by his own bloodlust and thirst for power, Croxius had led his squad, alone, into the heart of the enemy forces. Heedless to his grievous wounds, he had fought on. Now, Croxius’ broken body was damaged far beyond its ability to heal. In his mind, the chaos lord howled in rage. But soon, his life-force was utterly spent. Somewhere within the warp, a Greater Daemon of Tzeench roared with laughter.

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Captain Tomas witnessed the complete annihilation of the Imperial Guard’s forces at the hands of the Alpha Legion. With his bike squad, Tomas had used the data retrieved from the sensor arrays to locate the Fallen. Having seen them with his own eyes, the Dark Angel was forced to accept that the Xenos had spoken truthfully, at least in part. He turned to one of his squad members and said “Librarian Darwyn must know of this. Inform him that our quarry has been found.” The marine nodded “it shall be done my captain. Also, Commissar Nemo wishes to know what befell the forces stationed at the abandoned manufactorum.” The Captain replied immediately “tell him that there were no survivors. The Tau slew all before we could intervene.”

Current Project: Clan Sorrgul Iron Hands

resized squad 2Tonight I would like to share with you my current project, Clan Sorrgul Iron Hands.  They are the 5th battle company of the Iron hands.  I always fancied the iron hands fluff and thought they looked really good.  After the drop of the 6th ed space marine codex and they finally got some rules love (and awesome ones to boot), I decided I would take the plunge.

This is my first serious attempt at painting a good quality space marine army, and in my mind that starts from the ground up with good quality models.  In terms of marines, I am using the new tactical box with the fine cast upgrade kits.  The models look suitably Iron Hands with a dash of bionics throughout the squad.

This army has no goals of seeing the table anytime soon.  I want it to be a project where I get the models I want and paint them to a level I am happy with before I send them to the table top.  For me, that means taking it slow.  I literally painted this tactical squad one marine at a time.

Resized 3 manUltimately I am happy with the results so far.  My line highlighting needs work, but I think that will come with practice.  I am not entirely pleased with how some of the transfers look.  I am using the forgeworld transfer sheets on them.  My flesh tones really need work (I am literally too embraced to put close up pictures of them up yet).

This group is pretty much done.  I am still missing the storm bolter top for the rhino.  I confess I did acquire my rhinos and drop pod second hand.  The rhino in the picture was the worst conditioned of the lot.  Instead of moving on to tactical squad two and its rhino, I think I will take a break from them for a week or so.  Maybe work on my nob bikers.

Let me know what you guys think so far.  Excuse my ghetto rigged photo studio.  I guess if I get serious about taking these photos I should get one of those little photo booths.

Chaos Space Marines: Opening Thoughts

 

       Hello folks, Rob here to reviewilate the very first codex of 6th edition for your reading pleasure!  Codex: Chaos Space Marines!  That’s right people; the much less resplendent, much spikier marines of the 41st millennium were also the first ones to get the 6th edition treatment.  This will be the first part of a comprehensive series where we’ll go over the book itself, the unit selections in the codex, and some general thoughts on list building with the army.

      Given that this book was following up the highly controversial 4th edition ‘dex,  in addition to being the first book of 6th, it would be an understatement from the warp to say people were waiting on the edge of their seat for this bad boy.   Phil Kelly being penciled in as the author only served to raise the anticipation level for the book (before the creation of the fabled GW design team).  When it finally dropped in November of 2012, Chaos players across the globe crammed into their FLGS for a copy.

       As stated above we will be going over each section and units contained in those sections during future parts of this review, for now let’s take a look at some of the rules the codex added to the army.

  • Veteran of the Long War– An upgrade option for mostly everything in the book,           varying in cost and intended to represent the fact this model was a veteran of  the storied Horus Heresy, this rule gives every model in the unit the “Hatred:Space Marines” special rule.  By Space Marines, they quite literally mean every single space marine that is not one of your spiky brethren; everything from Grey Knights to Dark Angels will feel your wrath!   I feel like this is a very cool  USR that can add a lot of personality to your army, got a squad of Chosen you thought of a unique background story for?  What better way to expand their background then by making them a survivor of the greatest war in 40k history? On top of which you get hatred against over half the armies in the game, not too shabby a deal in this writer’s opinion.
  • Champion of Chaos– Nothing drives the warriors of the Chaos legions more in battle than the idea of gaining favor in the eye of one of the gods and receiving their demonic gifts in return.   To gain this favor a champion of chaos will always issue a challenge in combat whenever possible, even at times where the task seems insurmountable.  This has proven to be one of the release’s more polarizing rules, with some going so far as to call it the worst USR in the game. Nay I say!  This is a very sensible rule within the context of the army lore, admittedly, it is frustrating when you a forced to issue a challenge against a Hive Tyrant or Greater Daemon.  Though remember we are at a point in 40k where we lovingly refer to our Sgts and such as “challenge meat”, if that’s what they’re already there for what harm is it in simply forcing the decision?  Especially when we’re talking about an army full of power hungry super soldiers!  Besides, it’s not like they don’t offer some kind of benefit for having to do this……
  • The Boon Table– Hey man, you gotta issue a challenge anyway right?  If you win it you get to take a roll on the wheel of hell!  This sucker is a MASSIVE random table that is rolled on every time a model with the Champion of Chaos rule (see above) wins a challenge!  With over 25 different options that offer everything from the Adamantium Will USR, to a straight transformation into a Daemon Prince!  As with the Champion of Chaos rule, this has become one of the more polarizing features among the community, with opinions ranging from amazingly fun to god awful mess.  Being the optimist that I am, I’m more inclined to go with the first opinion. I mean, how do you beat a chance at getting an (almost) free Daemon Prince!?  With that said, I can see some areas of frustration, my friend had is Kharn turned into a Spawn the very first time he ever rolled on the table, trust me it was as horrible as it sounds!  They probably should have given a safeguard for named characters to avoid that kind of thing (well they SORT OF did, but more on that when we get to the HQ’s!).  For a regular Chaos Marine Aspiring Champion, however, even becoming a Spawn is a pretty good upgrade!  Not to mention most of the table really isn’t THAT helpful or hurtful (seriously becoming a spawn is like the WORST case scenario), just some very cool, but very mild powers.
  • Mark of Tzeentch– +1 to the model’s invulnerable save (max 3+), pretty nifty and can get pretty powerful when combined with the right items.
  • Mark of Nurgle– +1 to the models toughness, more durability, is that ever not good?
  • Mark of Khorne– Model gains Rage and Counter Attack special rules.  Yeesh, someone needs a hug.  I love this mark to be honest, not a popular choice but if used on the right models it can get mean.
  • Mark of Slaneesh– +1 to the models initiative; not bad, you hit faster so they no get to hit you too!

Next article we will dive into each section and discuss the units available in them, as well as more specific special rules for these units.  Until next time friends, Ralshenik out!

Writing a Take All Comers List

100810_giant_swiss_army_knife_1Good morning everyone.  I thought I would talk about one of my favorite parts of the hobby, list writing.  I can spend tons of time writing and rewriting lists.  Some of my lists serve a theme, such as a rapid reaction mechanized force of orks.  Some of my lists are narrative based, such as a 4 ork warboss list to determine who is da best.  I literally kept tract of each war bosses kills to see who was da best.  Most of my other lists are built around the idea of taking all comers.  Thus bringing us to our topic, what all is in a take all comers, or TAC, list

I remember listening to a random podcast (I think it was Imperial Voxcast).  They had Reecius on from Frontline Gaming, and in part of his discussion, he talked about what elements he consider necessary for a TAC list.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I wished I could find that segment again.  I honestly can’t remember all the elements he put into it, but in trying to remember, it made me think about what I commonly face.

1) Elite infantry – Mostly space marines or chaos marines, but it’s the 2+ armor save variety that is really troubling.  Two options are generally available to me in the armies I play (tau and orks).  Weight of fire/fists or ap2 weaponry.  Seems straight forward, but it is the balance that you have to worry about in the end.  Generally, more ap2 weaponry means less attacks/shots.

2) Hordes of Infantry – Not that common, but still something to keep an eye on.  Generally the best way to deal with them is lots of shots or blast/template weapons.  Generally I prefer blast/template because it will force an opponent to spread those big mobs out.  Then shooting off the front few guys really hurts them, generally it slows there movement down if the front 4 or 5 inches of the unit die to shooting each turn.

3) Heavy Armor – I consider things AV 13 and up heavy armor.  Generally most lists have a way through AV 12 with the standard shooting or combat options they bring.  It’s the AV 13’s and 14’s that really start to present a challenge.  For my orks, they pretty much have to get close and hit is with a death roller or a power klaw.  Tau can try to glance out AV 13 with missiles, but you will need to bring out the fusion guns or heavy rail guns to deal with the AV 14.

4) Monstrous Creatures – Both the unit type and anything with lots of wounds and high toughness present the same problem.  They shrug off most small arms fire and generally are a huge pain in close combat.  Some armies have weapons designed for them (i.e. Gravguns), and if you have one of them, bring it along.  For me, the tau can handle most of these big guys with lots of missile pods.  Massed strength 7 shots will usually whittle these guys down. Orks on the other hand go back to the tried and true methods, power klaws and death rollers.  Much riskier since those monstrous creatures will eat plenty of orks before the klaw swings, but its pretty much there only chance except for lootas (massed strength 7 shots).

4b) Flying Monstrous creatures.  Take them out just like normal Monstrous Creatures; you just have to knock them from the sky first.  Lots of little guns can force grounding checks, and eventually they will fall.  Once they are down, kill them like you would any monstrous creature.  Alternatively, skyfire and other ant flyer options work as well.

Review of 6th Edition…So Far: Part 1

I wanted to talk today about the current state of 6th edition and where it taken us so far.  It is about a year and a half old now and has been filled with constant change as codex’s have been coming out rapid fire since its release. And if you believe the rumor mill, a new edition is due out soon, so this all could be changed yet again.

warhammer rulebook

6th edition dropped in early June of 2012.  Now, as previously stated, I had never played 5th edition, but I do remember the moaning of some people.  The big ones were random charge distance, challenges, wound allocation being streamlined (no more wound shenanigans), flyers, psychic powers from the main rule book, snap shots, and the dreaded overwatch.

Coming from 4th edition, these changes were pretty big for me, but I embraced them.  I personally liked the random charge distance and overwatch, it made close combat a big risk with a possible big reward.  Wound allocation made sense to me, as in the closest guy gets killed first.  In hindsight, that change did seem to hurt assault a little more than I think was originally intended.  Challenges were fun and cinematic, and looking back I can’t honestly see why they weren’t always an option.  Snap shots were great, I always hated when a unit had no chance of shooting, so to see them have at least some chance was great (stupid missile launcher that never could shoot now at least has a chance).  In terms of the new physic powers, everyone pretty much said that divination was awesome and the rest were crap.  I experimented with pyromancy to little effect.

Finally, flyers.  At the time I had no armies with a flyer, until I acquired my orks.  I like the challenge of them.  When writing a list now, it has to be something you consider fighting against.  Yes, that may mean you have to start fielding a unit you never used or even buy a new unit to fill that role.  Ultimately though it forced us as players to change how we play.  At the end of the day, that is what I think was important, who wants to play the same army the same way for years?  Things have to evolve to stay fun and challenging.

I can remember the rise of the necron air force lists.  Since they can take a flyer as a dedicated transport, they could in theory have 9 in a single army.  And the fear began.  No one wanted to see that army across from them.  But we never saw that army materialize in our gaming group.  A few guys talked about taking them, but the most I saw was 4-5 on a table.  Granted, that still is a lot to deal with, but not the dreaded 9.

That’s it for today; I am breaking this article up into a few parts.  Next time we will dive into chaos, dark angels, and daemons.

Chapter 1: Rising Tide

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

A great noise startled Zug. The ork had never heard such a sound and looked around in confusion. The scarred earth around him showed no signs of disturbance. The noise came a second time, exploding in the feral ork’s ears. This time Zug distinctly sensed that the unfamiliar commotion came from above, which was odd, because nothing came from above. Except for tasty birds, now and then. The ork looked up and was amazed by what he saw.

A great, shiny, yellow rock was plunging towards him, with a great black plume of smoke trailing behind it. Too mesmerized to do anything, Zug just stood there as the object plummeted to the ground at incredible speed. Impossibly, it slowed only a few tree lengths from the ground and smashed against the ground with a heavy thud only a short distance from where the ork stood. Sensing that this rock might somehow be important, Zug raced towards it. Mebbe diz rock make gud chopaz! The ork thought to himself. Boss wud be soo pleazed!

When he reached the shimmering object, Zug stopped at arm’s length from its strange surface. As he looked, Zug was alarmed by the sight of another ork staring back at him from the rock. “Oi!” he bellowed, “wot ya doin in dat rock?” Zug demanded. The strange ork made no sound, but opened his mouth and waved his arms menacingly, so Zug swung his club and smashed it right into the other ork’s face. The weapon shattered on impact. The other ork seemed unharmed, but looked extremely puzzled. Suddenly a hissing sound emanated from the shiny rock in front of Zug. Before he had time to react, a large sliver of the object came crashing down on top of the feral ork.

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Cap’n Klaw raised a single orky eyebrow. The gangplank had just said Oww. It didn’t usually do that. Must be the mek messing with him. Klaw would bash his funny head in later. With a happy roar, the ork pirate jumped onto the surface of Tarandros. His boyz followed eagerly, stomping noisily down the gangplank. But the steel slab used by the ork pirates as an entrance ramp kept making strange whimpering noises.

“Right, I’ve bout had enuf o dis!” shouted Cap’n Klaw, and trudged over to the gangplank. The giant ork shoved a pair of boyz that were standing on the plank out-of-the-way and lifted the metal with a grunt of effort. Beneath, he found the bruised shape of a mostly naked ork. With his Dakka hand, Klaw grasped the poor sod by the neck and lifted him up to the Cap’n enormous head. “Oi!” Klaw roared, shaking the ork “are you alive?” he demanded. His chest no longer crushed by hundreds of pounds of ork and metal, Zug was able to breathe again, somewhat. He coughed and sputtered, slowly regaining consciousness.

When Zug finally opened his eyes, he was face to face with the biggest, meanest looking ork that he had ever seen. In vain he tried to struggle and free himself. Red beady eyes peered at him intensely, completely unnerving the feral ork. Cap’n Klaw inspected the wretch from head to toe, and recognized the brute for what he was. He dumped Zug on the ground, but threatened him with his massive power klaw, to make sure he would not run off. “Me name’s Cap’n Klaw! Me an me space boyz iz startin a grand propa Waaaaagggghhh! I came ere to gather up any real orks wot wants a gud fight! Where iz your boss?” the pirate shouted. “Ugghh…Err…youze da boss…Boss.” Zug replied nervously.

The orky pirate captain roared with laughter and slapped his newest boy on the back, propelling him head first into the dirt. “Aye! Good answer, you lot, find dis boy a choppa an a dakka gun! Wez got lots of work ta do.”

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To the human mind, the warp is only a place of madness and unreality. A realm of chaos, to be avoided at all costs. The Eldar, however, are bound to the warp in manner unlike any other known race, and remember a time before the dark pantheon dominated the immaterium. For the Eldar, the warp is still the realm of infinite possibilities and source to most of their technology. Contrary to the belief of many, the warp and the materium are not realms apart. They flow in symbiotic concert with each-other. The places where the two meet, are known to the Eldar as the skeins of fate.

Aboard his sleek scout ship Asredil, Farseer Aramel opened his mind to the skein. Using wraithbone runes to guide him, the Eldar seer sifted through the myriad possibilities that the immediate future offered. The balance of probability confirmed that the events transpiring on the world of Tarandros within the coming cycles would have a decisive impact on the future. Aramel saw images of an Ork Warboss, with millions of his savage brethren flocking to his banner. He saw also the blazing symbol of the Mon Keigh Ultramrines, plunging into the heart of this growing green tide.

But these things were easily discernible using his vessel’s instruments. The Farseer delved deeper and saw the point of flux; a decision made that could lead to radically different futures. Where the armies of many races fought, the choices of one would determine the fate of all. Aramel had seen this many times, during his voyage through the webway from Craftworld Ulthwé, yet he could still not be certain of what act would forge the most favorable future.

As time advanced towards the point of flux, the skein would become clearer, and Aramel trusted that it would reveal the path that he must take. The Farseer allowed his mind to return to his body, and opened his eyes to Asredil’s crystal meditation chamber. He was not alone. Farseer Erethentil and several warlocks had added the strength of their minds to empower his visions. “The time for action approaches” said Erethentil. Aramel nodded, and rose to prepare his Black Guardians of Ulthwé for battle.

Chapter 1: Echoes

Battle Barge Andronicus

Brother Flavius confirmed the acolyte’s readings. The signal was faint, but a Great Crusade era Ultramarines distress beacon signature was clearly distinguishable from the background radiation picked up by the Andronicus’ sensors. “Brother Captain Titus must be informed immediately” stated Flavius and purposely made his way to the bridge.

Upon entering the Sorathian system, Captain Titus had wasted no time in setting a course for the desolated world of Omega-Epsilon. This had been the site of the major engagement, during the Horus Heresy, that his Chapter master had spoken of. Such was the fury of the onslaught, as brother fought brother, that thirty thousand years later the planet surface was still awash with toxic radiation: remnants of the apocalyptic munitions detonated in millennia past.

So dense were the echoes of that ancient Fallout, that the ships’ instruments had been unable to obtain any telling readings. Any answers would have to be gathered by ground forces. As the space marine captain contemplated his options, Brother Flavius emerged from an access corridor to address him. “Captain, I have overseen the sensor sweep of the planet’s moon as ordered.” Titus nodded for the marine to continue “the surface appears not to bear the same scars of combat borne by Omega-Epsilon. Though the radiation from the planet is strong, we were able to conduct a successful survey of the moon’s topography. Also, Captain, we have detected an ancient Ultramarine signal from quadrant 4.”

The marine then presented Titus with his findings. “This is well done Brother” the Ultramarine Captain said. “I see by the surrounding terrain and the weakness of the signal, that it must be beneath the surface. Perhaps, within, lies an installation founded by our forebears. If the Emperor wills it, we may yet find precious gene seed that has survived after all of these long years. Rouse Brother Marcus with all haste, bid him muster strike force Alpha, whom I shall lead personally!” Flavius inclined his head and replied “it shall be done at once Brother Captain,” and went forth to fulfill his duty.

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The opening to the complex was pitch black. It mattered not. What little remained hidden from the Astartes’ enhanced vision was revealed by their helms’ advanced lenses. The Ultramarines proceeded cautiously into the derelict structure. Brother Captain Titus held the center, while Brothers Marcus, Cassius and Flavius took point. Fully ten of the Emperor’s finest advanced boldly, with their Captain, into the earth. They were preceded by an armored behemoth: A Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought. Entombed within its mighty adamantium plates was revered Brother Augustus.

With the experience of centuries, the Contemptor smashed its impressive bulk into the the darkness. The entrance was broad and thus Augustus had no difficulty as he proceeded towards his objective. Titus and his marines followed only paces away. It was immediately clear that this had once been a barracks of the Ultramarines, a temporary staging point in preparation for deployment to the war-zones upon the planet below. The first chamber they were greeted with was small and empty, with only a narrow stairwell leading downwards. There were no other passageways in sight.

Without needing to receive any command, Brother Augustus brought his Assault cannons to bear and opened fire at the surface beneath his feet. What ensued was a brutal cacophony of screeching metal and the pervasive whine of the Contemptor’s weaponry. When Augustus’ cannon’s became silent once more, he stood in the middle of a perfect circle, carved into the steel flooring. With a mighty stomp, the Dreadnought overburdened what few threads of metal survived his onslaught, and plummeted onto the level below.

Silently, the Astrates moved single file down the stairwell to rejoin their Brother. Once they did so, Captain Titus found that Augustus had landed in a large open space, which must once have housed the base Armory. However, only one pathway was large enough for the Contemptor to pass. Titus divided his marines in two teams, leading one towards Augustus, as he ordered Brother Marcus to lead the second to explore the corridors to the south of their position. Before the teams separated, Titus gave them their orders. “My brothers, we are gathered here this day to give our fallen brethren the peace in death that they could not allow themselves in life. Seek out any that may have fallen and reclaim their gene seed that they may rejoin the Chapter!”

The squads separated and moved out to execute their designated sector sweeps, alert to any dangers that may lurk in the darkness. Sergeant Marcus led his four Ultramarine companions down a corridor to the south. As they turned a corner they came across a fallen Astartes warrior, wearing Mk II battle plate, adorned with the livery of the Legion of Ultramar. After taking a moment to pay their respects to their fallen comrade, Brother Marcus knelt and examined the corpse. Remarkably, the ancient power armor had repaired itself and preserved the body to this day. Not much remained, but Marcus was able to extract enough gene seed to fill the specially designed container he had brought.

Meanwhile Captain Titus had found the source of the signal that had been detected from orbit. In an alcove within the large chamber, an Ultramarine Legionary Tech-priest had fallen. Seemingly he had activated the beacon with his dying breath. The significance of this last act was unknown to Brother Titus, but at the very least it had allowed for the re-discovery of this place. Titus retrieved the Tech-marine’s gene-seed and deactivated the ancient beacon. As he did so, his enhanced instincts began to scream that something was amiss.

Brother Severus was first to make contact with the enemy. He had stood guard as Marcus completed his task, when he sensed movement in the corner of his eye. He readied his bolter and waited. Suddenly, lithe shapes peeled from the shadows and began moving towards the marines at great speed. With a shout, Severus called for a volley and his fellow marines were quick to answer.

Bolter fire filled the narrow corridor, felling several of the unknown attackers. Brother Maximus took up his flamer and released its fuel. In a blazing plume of cleansing fire, the Ultramarines’ attackers were revealed for what they were: Mandrakes. In these tight quarters the flames created a nigh-impenetrable wall of death. Yet the foe seemed unconcerned with its losses and charged into Marcus’ squad with wild abandon. So furious was the attack, that two space marines fell to the fiends’ cruel blades.

But the marines’ precise reactionary fire had been flawless and only three of the enemy’s number remained. These were quickly dispatched. Victorious, Brother Sergeant Marcus led his squad to the main chamber. Responding immediately to the enemy presence, Captain Titus ordered strike force Alpha to gather and fortify their position. Even as they complied, Marcus’ marines were beset again. This time by crazed Dark Eldar wyches, who darted at them. Two were claimed by righteous bolter shots and gouts of flame. But three reached the Ultramarines. In the swirling melee, another Astartes was slain. Marcus and his surviving brother were unable to harm the wretches, so fast were their movements.

As this happened, a squad of Kabalite warriors sprung into the main chamber from a side entrance. With preternatural speed they fired volley after volley of poisoned splinters at Titus and his marines. Hundreds of these projectiles peppered the Emperor’s warriors, but the foul shards found no purchase, for the Astartes armor was too resplendent. True to its name, the Dreadnought turned to face these puny attackers and unleashed its devastating hail of fire, bellowing “Purge the alien!” None survived. Confident that Augustus would guard them against enemy attack from the rear, Captain Titus led his squad towards Sergeant Marcus. No matter how fast they may be, the sheer bulk of the charging Ultramarines proved too much for the three surviving wyches. With nowhere to turn, they were strangled by a noose of ceramite.

As Titus looked up from the Dark Eldar corpses, he noted that the enemy leader had finally shown himself. An Archon of Commorragh strode into sight, accompanied by a retinue of four menacing looking armored Eldar. The Captain recognized these beings: Incubi, peerless and deadly warriors, even for an Astartes. Titus would not suffer them to live. “To me my brothers!” he called. Immediately all of the Ultramarines formed as one and took firing positions. Once again, the Dark Eldars’ speed and dexterity proved to be no match to the storm of bolter fire that they were confronted with. Despite their heavy armor, the Incubi were all felled by the righteous barrage.

The Archon, however, emerged unscathed. Hits had been scored against him, but each time a dark field had swallowed the detonating shell as though it were nothing more than a smoke pellet. The Eldar sneered contemptuously and raced directly towards Brother Captain Titus. Wasting no time, the space marine Captain rushed forward to meet the charge. A flurry of vicious blows rained down upon him. They fell with a level of dexterity and skill that Titus could not hope to match. Nor did he need to. He waited patiently as the Archon sought in vain to penetrate his artificer armor, raking at the space marine’s breastplate with his gauntleted agonizer, even as he stabbed at perceived weaknesses in the Captain’s armor with a venom blade in his other hand. There were none. In mere moments Titus saw his opening and smashed the Eldar warlord with his shimmering relic blade. The forceful strike caught the Archon fully in the chest, reducing it to pulp on impact. In a single blow was the foe slain. His Eldritch technology did not save him.

Amidst the tangled ruin of that once haughty Eldar, Titus was surprised to discover a slender tube. On closer inspection, he saw that it unmistakably contained Astartes gene seed. Having seen this also, Brother Flavius could not hide his contempt “perfidious Eldar! does their foul meddling know no end?” he asked. “These are not Eldar of the Craftworlds, Brother, but denizens of the dark city Commorragh. Though there is no place for either in the Emperor’s realm, the presence of these bodes ill for our quest. We must learn what machinations drove them to seek out Astartes gene-seed. Whatever plan fuels this mad scheme must be thwarted.”

It took Titus and his men another hour to scour the complex and become satisfied that no more gene-seed remained. Of the three casualties, two were stabilized and would eventually recover from their wounds. The third, however, had been sliced apart by the wyches’ blades and could not be saved. When the time came to depart, Brother Captain Titus said “Severus, detonate a fusion charge on that bulkhead, that our good Brother Augustus may leave this sorry place.”

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From within the comfort of his pleasure yacht, concealed in a nearby artery of the webway, Archon Oberon-Geren Mackareth ended the visual feed. His invisible probe had followed one of his minions, Archon Naruth, into the ruined Ultramarine complex. Oberon had not expected to find the mon-keigh hulks in this system and certainly did not expect Naruth to be so incompetent as to allow himself to be defeated by them.

As this petty Archon had stood alone, foolishly dueling the Ultramarine captain, Oberon had formulated a new plan. With a faint smile, he had remotely deactivated Naruth’s Shadowfield, using a code that he had keyed into the device when he first “gifted” it to his subordinate. He could not risk any damage to the Ultramarine leader. Now that he knew space marines were in the area, it seemed wasteful not to make use of their services. Oberon signaled one of his Incubi and shortly thereafter, Archon Ivanael was brought before him. The lesser Archon bowed his head towards the leader of the Undivided Blood Kabal.

The gesture was a facade of course. No Archon of Commorragh works for another except for the hope of one day plunging his dagger into the other’s back and usurping his old master’s seat of power. Oberon knew that, and Ivanael knew that. It was the Tyrant’s law, and it was the way of the Eldar. Those of their race that drifted amidst the stars in their wraithbone coffins sought to deny the truth of their own nature. They were fools. Commorragh was the Empire reborn, an unassailable fortress from which countless Dark Eldar raiding parties could strike throughout the galaxy with impunity. In their world, only the strong survived, while the weak were nothing more than chattel, to be used at their betters’ whim.

For the moment, Oberon and Ivanael needed each-other. Their instincts resonated with the knowledge that one day they would come to blows, which created in each of them the desire to strike at the other immediately. Well acquainted with the urge to kill, they repressed the impulse easily. “Archon Oberon, how may I best place my Kabal at your service?” asked Ivanael. Oberon studied the new leader of the Eyes-Bled-Out Kabal with an expressionless face. He knew little about this up-and-coming dark eldar, except that he had been particularly bold in the assassination of his predecessor and largely successful at both cementing his hold over the Kabal and hiding the truth of his origins. Perhaps he was the correct tool with which to implement his new plan.

“I have brought my forces here, Ivanael, because I wish to hunt especially powerful prey.” Archon Oberon said. “I have known for some time that the mon-keigh that call themselves space marines would come to this place. They are the product of primitive genetic manipulation and are thus far more resilient than the verminous masses of ordinary mon-keigh. As such they are of great value as combatants in our city’ arenas.” The Archon continued. “They are few in number and will prove easily captured. However, their vessel is formidable and an assault upon it would prove unnecessarily costly. For this reason I need you to find suitable locations for us to lay in ambush while the fools are on a planet’s surface.”

Archon Ivanael nodded in apparent understanding. As did all successful Archons, Oberon spoke lies with the same tone and sincerity that he spoke truths. Such was his mastery, that the younger Archon could not hope to differentiate between the two. He therefore assumed that nothing he heard was the full truth. “I have learned that the mon-keigh are of the Ultramarines chapter and that they are here in search of meaningless trinkets from their bygone age of glory, to satisfy the cretinous infatuation they have with their corpse-emperor. Find the remnants of ancient Mon-keigh and report your findings to me.” Oberon finished. “Of course Archon Oberon, it shall be done.” Ivanael inclined his head once more and left the audience chamber.

Hive Fleet Selachii: Ravenous

Tyranid Icon

After the silence, there was a chorus of sensation. There were images, thoughts and feelings. Then there was knowledge. Understanding of self; of its purpose; and of the Hive Fleet. It was given rank: Hive Tyrant. It was given role: Commander. It was given a directive: Consume. The Tyrant was allowed to roam within the synapse of the Fleet. Allowed to learn all there was to learn about the organisms that made up the whole. But soon after, it was contained. The Tyrant understood that he was no longer just mind. It was now body as well. Encased in its shell of bone, sinew, and muscle, the mind could be safe, it could leave the Fleet. It could consume.

The Hive Tyrant knew that a part of The Fleet was its to command. A small part. So small that before it would have seemed meaningless. But now it had eyes. With these it saw that its minions were many, and it was pleased. Great bio-ships it was given with which to cross the empty. Knowledge of where bio-matter could be consumed was given. The Tyrant directed its minions. These knew only what it allowed them to know. They knew nothing of the Fleet. Knew nothing of the directive. They knew only the Hive Tyrant’s will and the instinct to obey.

Soon the Tyrant had its own fleet. It commanded that it move to where it knew bio-matter would be found. Slowly but surely, the fleet drifted through the empty. Not long after, the Tyrant’s bio-ships were far from the Hive Fleet. It could always hear the call of the Hive, always commune with its thoughts and its will. But it was fainter, soon the chorus became a murmur. Now the Tyrant’s chorus was strongest. Its images, thoughts and feelings flooded the minds of its minions. It was supreme, unchallenged, and ready to consume.

Guardians of Ulthwé: Forestalling Doom

Ulthwé Icon

Craftworld Ulthwé drifts defiantly along the outskirts of what was once the heart of the mighty Eldar Empire. Consumed by the birth of Sai’lanthresh, the eldar core worlds were dragged into the warp through a rift known to humans as the Eye of Terror. Ever since escaping the doom of their race, the eldar of Ulthwé have lived within sight of this great wound in realspace.

As he had done thousands of times before, Farseer Aramel gazed through the infinite void at the great lesion. Even for the most powerful eldar seers, looking directly into the raw warp can prove dangerous. At this great distance, however, the swirling mass of unreality had no power but to remind Aramel of how far his people had fallen. Perhaps this is why the Seer Council of Ulthwé had decided to remain so close to the epicenter of the Fall. Even one glance at the vast warp-rift, is enough to convince the eldar mind of the need to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Aramel considered how the people of his craftworld stood apart from other eldar. They were not clannish as their brethren of Saim-Hann, they were not obsessed with rebuilding the Old Empire, as were the xenophobic eldar of Biel-Tan. Neither were they fanatically devoted to Asurmen’s path as are the Alaitoci, nor consumed by death as their unfortunate brethren of Craftworld Iyanden. Many of these far-flung brethren look upon Ulthwé with distaste and suspicion. They cannot imagine how Aramel’s people can find success in battle, again and again, whilst wearing no war mask. Surely they must be consumed by Khaine’s rage and hunger, or be utterly damned.

But the truth is that the eldar of Ulthwé do not look solely to the bloody handed god when battle is joined. Rather, they choose to tread along a lighter path. Isha, goddess of life, subjected herself to eternal imprisonment, that her children may survive the Fall. From her example, the eldar that join the ranks of Ulthwé’s Black Guardians realize that, in defeating the great enemy, no sacrifice is too great. They understand the value of all living beings, and dispense death only when need demands it, to tip the scales in the war against the dark powers. Over the millennia since the Fall, the manipulations of Ulthwé’s seers, enforced by the Black Guardian host, have saved untold billions.

The dome of Crystal Seers where Aramel now stood was soothingly quiet, though he was far from alone. Farseers Erethentil and Ithiniael were nearby, wrapped in their own thoughts. The dome was filled with psychoreactive flora and fauna, that behaved in concert with the moods of passing eldar. None of the Farseers had been summoned by the Council, as such, but each of them had seen through the skein and found that they must be here, in this place, at this moment.

When the time came, the three seers slowly walked towards the inner-most dome. As they did, they passed hundreds of crystal statues. To the unknowing observer, these would appear as immaculate crystal statues of Ulthwé Farseers. In truth, they are the mortal remains of farseers that have long since joined the Craftworld’s crystal spirit matrix. Though not truly dead, they had joined the spirits of Ulthwé’s fallen, with all of their memories and sense of self intact. It is the fate of all farseers that do not perish in combat. One that only Eldrad Ulthran has managed to evade.

When the three seers reached the Council chambers, they were greeted by a gathering of the most revered Eldar to walk their path. The legendary Farseer’s form was also there, but Eldrad’s mind was deep within the warp, hunting for answers. “We have a task for you” said Farseer Dariel. “A strike force has been readied aboard the warship Asredil. You must lead it to the Sorathian System. A maiden world lies in peril and an ancient temple of the Phoenix may come to ruin” she continued. “There is also a darker threat, though we do not yet know its purpose.” The words were a formality. Each already knew the perils of which Farseer Dariel spoke. But ritual demanded that all expeditions be sanctioned by the Council in person. Meeting on the material plane served to ground Seers, lest they risk confusing reality with a loose thread, glimpsed within the skeins of fate. Aramel, Erethentil and Ithiniael inclined their heads in understanding, and went forth to perform their task.