Thoughts on our latest narrative event

Yesterday was the third round of our gaming groups narrative event “Battle for Tarandros”.  We started this event back in February after a few of us, myself included, grew tired of the competitive way we had been playing.  I had some hobby burnout, and at the suggestions of a few people on the independent character’s forums, decided to try a series of narrative events.

Our local gaming store, Critical Hit Games, agreed to let us use the gaming tables one Saturday a month in place of their normally planned 40k events, usually small tournaments.  Augustus, our chief librarian, enjoys writing so he agreed to writing the narrative that framed these events.  You can find those in our previous blog posts.  Now with a little planning with the Lord Primarch, Shorereaper, Augustus, and myself, we were on our way.

Now, our first few events we tried to keep it simple.  The missions were nothing fancy. The first event was crusade and the second was kill points.  We kept it simple to encourage new players to join us.  We averaged about 8-10 players per event, mostly guys from our gaming group.

This time I wanted to try running a mission that was a little less standard to try to reflect the story we are playing.  At this point in the narrative, the imperial forces, led by the ultramarines, are advancing on a location the marines believe holds a store of gene seed left from the great crusade.  Various forces of evil/disorder/orks are in their way.

To represent this, Shorereaper and I worked up the following mission.  Deployment type, deployment, and night fighting were all regular rule book style.  The forces of the imperium were the attackers, forces of evil were the defenders.  There were three objective markers, one in the exact middle of the board, the other two the defender places in their deployment zone.  Starting in attackers turn two, if the attacker has a scoring unit within 3 inches of an objective marker that is not engaged in close combat, they remove the objective marker from the table.  At the end of the game (random game length), each objective removed in this way gives the attacker 1 point.  Each objective left on the table gives the defender 1 point.  Most points win.

Now, I had thought this was a pretty fair mission, the central objective should be easy for the attackers to take I thought, then it would be a slug fest to try to take one more.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  No attackers scored a single objective in the event.  Defenders won 3-0 on all tables.  We had 10 players on 3 tables, most of us fairly seasoned players.  The closest anyone came was the Lord Primarch almost scored one on Ralshenik before Ralshenik crushed him with a deamon prince.

So, what did I learn? Play testing is important.  We could have sorted out some of these balance issues before hand.  I am toying around with how to use this mission in the future.  Ideas are to always give the attacker first turn, have 2 objectives in the neutral ground and 1 in the defenders deployment zone, and to allow any non vehicle unit to score an objective.

I want some feed back from any of you that attended the event.  I also wouldn’t mind feedback from any readers that see how we could improve in the future.

New Imperial Guard Model Review

Well, new imperial guard codex (astra militara) is out and with it a new wave of models.  I do not play guard myself, but I have always like the aesthetics of the army.  Hordes of puny humans and loads of tanks with all kinds of crazy guns.

hydrawyvrenThe new models maintain that asthetic, mostly.  The hydra flakk tank and the wyvren both run off the chimera chasis. They blend in with the army quite nicely.  The hydra is a pretty close copy of the forge world model, which is a good thing.  The wyvren on the other hand does look a bit off to me.  The stubby barrels on the same frame as the hydra just seem out of place.

tauroxThe taurox and taurox prime is an interesting beast.  The first time I saw it, I had the same reaction most ork players did.  It looks like a battlewagon before the orks got their hands on it.  I got to admit, I want to grab one and ork it up to add a third battlewagon to my force.  In terms of the guard, it doesn’t blend with the army as well as the other tanks do.  Time will tell with this one.  I want to see it on the field (as a guard tank) before I give my final ruling.

commisarA new commissar model was put out, in the new odd assembly that is the norm with new plastic singles.  Overall I like this model (like most of the plastic character models that came out recently).  He has a nice haggard face, and a sweet plasma gun.  My only concern is that these models tend to be hard to easily kit bash, so we may be seeing this guy a lot.

ogrynThe new ogryn and Nork Deddog look fine to me, nothing spectacular.  Side note, I haven’t seen their rules yet, but I would love to see them make the table more often.  The bullgryn though, I must have these.  These are beautiful.  I have never had the urge to buy, build, and paint models for an army I don’t play…until now.

bullgrynI love the slab shields.  They actually look dynamic to me.  I can imagine the spikes at the bottom deploying as enemy fire bounces off them.  The grenade arms look scary, which I love.  The gas mask heads look great, especially the bane one.  The tank tread armor looks awesome, although it seems odd that the imperium can’t afford to make these guys a complete set of armor.

The suppression shields and power maul combo looks weird to me.  It could be that I love the slab shields and grenade arms so much.  I wonder how much I would like the suppression shields and mauls if I hadn’t seen the other setup.

Overall, another successful army release by GW.  I am hearing good things about rules for the new guard.  I hope this inspires more players to dust off the guard.  Maybe even get a few into the army.  Variety, it’s the spice of life.

Beachhead

At long last, here is the latest installment of our “Battle for Tarandros” narrative campaign series. If you missed earlier parts of the tale, find out what happened here: Introduction, Plantefall- Part 1, Planetfall- Part 2, Planetfall- Part 3

Having defeated every foe to cross his path, Captain Titus led his Ultramarines towards the heart of the dilapidated ruins of what was once a mighty hive city of the Imperium. The time had come for him to complete his true mission. From fragmented records that had survived since the days of the Great Crusade, the Ultramarine Librarius had learned that a store of Astartes gene-seed had been kept deep within the city’s secret vaults. The Imperium Reclamation fleet’s vanguard was ordered to invade Tarandros in order to clear the surrounding area and buy time for Titus to achieve his goal. If the planet could also be returned to the light of the Emperor, all the better.

Commissar Decanus was one of the few that knew the real reason that so many resources had been mobilized to this barren rock. Besides the Ultramarines, three Astartes Chapters had made an appearance in this theatre: The Blood Angels, Carcharodons and Astral Claws. From his command Chimera he monitored vox traffic and read scouting reports. Commissar Nemo’s men guarded the northern part of the city, while Decanus was tasked to fortify the desert highlands to the south. Despite the slaughter that the Astartes had wrought upon them, everything indicated that the orks were massing an immense counter attack. So far though, there had been no sign of it. The Guardsmen had expected an attack the day before, but night had fallen uneventfully and all was quiet.

That changed very quickly. Decanus first heard of the enemy’s arrival through panicked shouts emanating from outside his vehicle. Immediately, the aged Commissar reached for his command panel and took control of one of his remote servo-skull observers. The macabre machine hovered above a rock outcrop several yards above the Command Chimera. As far as it’s mechanized eyes could see into the early morning gloom, the horizon was drenched in the sweaty hides of savage greenskins. Most of the orks were on foot, but Decanus heard as much as saw, great lumbering vehicles racing alongside the horde, their mismatched armored plates rattling loudly in the wind. Without a moment’s hesitation, the seasoned Commissar ordered his Basilisk battery to open fire. Although the darkness severely hampered the artillery’s range, the enemy was everywhere.

Soon, the Imperial Guard’s lines roared into life. The potency of their firepower was so great, that it illuminated the night as a false dawn. The advancing orks were smashed mercilessly by the barrage. Many of the shots went wide, but the greenskins still died in droves. Yet their mobs fearlessly kept on coming. As they approached, Decanus’ servo-skulls revealed a squadron of three killa-kans lumbering forwards on his right, pointlessly firing their crude weapons despite being far beyond their effective range. Ork boyz trudged along with them, trying to keep their distance from the the walkers’ clumsy strides. So tight was the press of bodies, that several orks had nowhere to run when the kans mis-stepped, and were crushed by the walkers’ huge mechanized feet.

On the far right of the imperium’s gun line, a Battle Wagon raced forwards, its awkwardly attached deff rolla flattening everything in its path. The ork vehicle was heading directly towards a squadron of Lehman Russ battle tanks. Their mighty ordnance fired upon the advancing orks, but the Battle Wagon’s armored plates somehow held firm. The Guardsmen gunners were powerless as the ork vehicle rammed into them with full force. The force of impact reduced a Lehman Russ to a smoldering ruin.

Elsewhere on the field, the Imperium fared no better. The left flank was held by ten of the mighty Adeptus Astartes from the Blood Angels chapter. With great courage and tenacity did they charge head-long into the green tide that threatened to drown the Imperial Guard. Long did they endure, filling the air with the sweet song of their bolt-pistols and the fearsome roar of their chain-swords. But it was not to last. Though they sold their lives dearly, the orks were too many, and eventually the Space Marines were slain to a man. Dismayed, but unbroken, the Guardsmen fought on, pouring their ever-shrinking firepower into the ork masses.

———————————————————————————————————————–

From the deck if his Battle Wagon, Kap’n Klaw roared with joy at the destruction that his mighty Waaagh had wrought. All around him the sands of Tarandros were awash with the blood of combatants and its dry air filled the pervasive music of battle. From deep within his primal instincts, came the knowledge that the time was right. The ork warlord stomped one of his mighty legs on the front edge of his transport and let loose a titanic bellow:

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

From their leader’s lungs came the ultimate call to war. Though the cry itself had no intrinsic meaning, it carried the very essence of what it was to be an ork. Klaw’s various warbosses responded immediately with cries of their own. Every greenskin on the field was filled with murderous inspiration and the inescapable urge to kill. Without hesitation, each of them echoed their Boss’ war cry. Even the thunder of the mighty Basilisk artillery was drowned out by the ensuing cacophony. As one, the ork tide surge forward, and crashed mercilessly into the battered lines of the Imperium.

In the skies above, twin Dakka jets flew erratically towards the humies’ armored column. They unleashed their guns in a relentless storm of bullets, crazed by their leader’s war cry. Even at their great height, the voice of Kap’n Klaw could be heard clearly. Caught in the cross-fire, a Chimera transport burst into flames, forcing its passengers to perform an emergency disembarkation. From his vantage point, Klaw could barely make out the shapes of the survivors, but amongst them was humie wearing an enormous red hat and wielding a puny Klaw. Sensing that this must be the enemy leader, Kap’n Klaw leapt from his transport.

But before he could move towards this foe, Warboss Zug and his boyz had already fallen upon the hapless umie, and whatever was left of his squad. None survived. Disappointed, Kap’n Klaw searched the field for a worthy opponent. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. To his left, Klaw could hear the unmistakeable gurgling noise of a shock-attack gun being loaded. Frustrated by the lack of opposition, Kap’n Klaw turned to watch what would happen next. He had found that the effects of this weapon are always amusing, and he was not disappointed. Somehow, the Big Mek managed to get himself caught by the weapon’s own feeder and was sucked into that “tranzdamentunal” chamber that he was always so proud of. With a surprised yelp, the Mek was fired, through the warp, by his own weapon and re-appeared directly in front of a stunned group of umies.

Kap’n Klaw roared with laughter at the sight of this, as did his entire bodyguard of nobz. The surprised Mek flailed desperately as he tried to fight off the enemy. But he was quickly cut down. With his amusement over, the ork Warlord realized that the fight was mostly over. There had been no sight of the great Space Mahreens that he had heard so much about. Hopefully he would find them inside the ruined city.

————————————————————————————————————————–

News of the ork attack had reached the Blood Angel strike cruiser with time to spare, but the skies above the great carcass of the ancient hive city were obstructed by warp storms. Once again, the eldrich lightning had come without warning. Brother Aquilus, who had borne Chaplain Malkor’s doomed relief force, sought to pilot his Storm Raven into the theatre of battle. Chapter doctrine taught the sons of Sanguinius not to mourn the passing of those succumbed to the black rage, but the loss of such a mighty and pious Chaplain as Malkor was a grievous wound to the Chapter. Try as he might, the experienced pilot could find no breach in the wretched weather. He had no doubt now, that the corrupting hands of demonic entities had shaped this barrier. Unable to mask his frustration any longer, Brother Aquilus turned to Chaplain Sebastian for guidance.

Though the storm hampered communications, they were close enough to receive fragmented vox signals. By sporadic screams and terrified calls for aid, Sebastian knew that the plight of the Imperial Guardsmen. The fact that he had heard naught but silence from his brothers below, bespoke of their grim fate. Two Bhaal Predators awaited the Storm Raven’s arrival, so that they may perform a decisive coordinated attack. Unwilling to delay any longer, the Chaplain gave the order for the vehicles to complete their outflanking maneuvers and to consume the Xenos filth with purifying gouts of flame.

Accelerating to full speed, the two Bhaal predators burst through cover, one at each of the enemy’s flanks. Their heavy flamers roasted dozens of orks with their mighty promethium. But the damage they dealt was too little, and it had come too late. It was not long before their noble hulls were overwhelmed by the battle-crazed savages, and rent asunder. By the time Brother Aquilus was able to navigate the treacherous warp storms, nothing remained of the Imperium’s forces. The ork horde had slain all. Smoldering with rage, Chaplain Sebastian had no choice but to order the pilot to make the return journey. The Storm Raven’s deadly cargo would be disgorged at another time, when the death company’s sacrifice would achieve more than futile vengeance. Their day would come. Honor would be satisfied.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Elsewhere, upon the Eastern fringes of the city’s dilapidated ruins, the Alpha Legion continued to blaze a bloody path through the Imperium’s defenders. This time, they were opposed by more than mere men: Adeptus Astartes of both the Carcharodons and Astral Claws Chapters had been entrusted to halt the advance of any foe. But the traitor marines were not alone. From tears in the fabric of reality itself daemonic hosts poured onto the battlefield. The combined forces of Chaos proved too much for the Imperium’s forces. Despite their valiant efforts, all of the defenders were cut down, and the agents of the Dark Gods stormed through the breach and into the city proper. Sensing that their prize was near, the Alpha Legionnaires surged forth triumphantly. Who could stop them now?

Clan Sorrgol: First Action

Figured it was time for an update on how my new Iron Hands force, Clan Sorrgol, is going.  In terms of models acquired, I have completed the list after the flea market a few weeks ago, a recent Forgeworld order, and grabbing a few things from Critical Hit.  Here is how the list stands currently.  For reference I am using the Clan Raukaan supplement rules.

+HQ+

     * Iron Father Telavek – Chapter Master
The Gorgon’s Chain, Terminator Armour, Combi Plasma, Power Fist

    * Master Ferrarius – Master of the Forge
The Ironstone

+ Elites +

    * Venerable Brother Ira – Dreadnought
Multi-Melta, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers, Venerable Dreadnought, Drop Pod, Power Fist with Heavy Flamer

    * Morlock Terminators – Terminator Assault Squad
Terminator Sgt w/ Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield, 4x Terminator w/ Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield

+ Troops +

    * Tactical Squad
* Rhino, 7x Space Marine, Space Marine w/ Meltagun, Space Marine w/ Missile Launcher, Veteran Sergeant , Thunder Hammer

    * Tactical Squad
* Rhino, 7x Space Marine, Space Marine w/ Meltagun, Space Marine w/ Missile Launcher, Veteran Sergeant , Thunder Hammer

    * Tactical Squad
* Rhino, 7x Space Marine, Space Marine w/ Meltagun, Space Marine w/ Missile Launcher, Veteran Sergeant , Thunder Hammer

+ Fast Attack +

    * Ferrum Nimbus – Stormtalon Gunship
Armoured Ceramite, Skyhammer Missile Launcher , Twin-linked Assault Cannon

+ Heavy Support +

    * Ferrum Rex – Land Raider Crusader
Extra Armour (10pts), Frag Assault Launchers, 2x Hurricane Bolter, Multi-melta, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers, Twin-linked Assault Cannon

    * Ferrum Vindiciae – Vindicator
Hull-mounted Demolisher Cannon, Searchlight, Siege Shield, Smoke Launchers, Storm Bolter

Painting wise, I am done with 2 tactical squads and 2 rhinos.  I am about half way done with the third squad.  Slow and steady with this project.  Although, after I finish up this last squad I may do a little ork painting for variety.

Now that I actually have all the models in the army, I could not resist putting them on the table.  There first game was against our lord primarch and his new army, the necrons.  As a side note, it is still weird to see him play with xenos armies after all the loyalist marines he has (ultramarines, blood angels, and space wolves).

I was playing against 10 scarab bases, 20 warriors, 30 immortals, 10 deathmarks with the crazy cryptech with a flamer thingy, a triarch stalker, 2 deathscythe,1 doomscythe, and 2 annihilation barges.  BTW, in case it isn’t evident, I know nothing about the necrons and do not have a codex in front of me.

We rolled up the relic, and off we went.  I will try to keep this brief.  The early game went with my landraider and rhinos rushing up the middle, vindcator around my right flank, and the dread dropped behind enemy lines. (I will spare using all their fluffy names for the sake of easy of reading).  We had the necrons pushed back and pretty well pinned in and I was able to get two tactical squads on the relic and almost got one back into the landraider to run for safety.

Late game, on the other hand, was a different story.   The short version of late game was he won the war of attrition and wore me down.  I had too few bodies and every loss I took really hurt, something I am not used to after playing orks. He on the other hand kept standing back up.  And that damn doomscythe kept killing guys in combat including the relic bearer and immobilizing the dread.  That’s just mean.  Also, twin-linking a target with the walker he had and then getting the death marks to wound on 2’s is what did in the terminators.  Twin-linking and giving the warriors tank hunter with whatever lord he had also put down the landraider.  That walker is a huge problem.

Overall, the army did what I wanted it to do.  I know that it is a very low model count army, and that is its weakness.  I know I can do some trimming and cram in more models.  The thunder hammers on the vet sergeants can probably go, but the models look too good right now.  I am not dumb though, I did magnetize the hammer arms so I can swap them out for chainswords when I become sick of this list losing.

In terms of expansion, I just so happened to have acquired 10 marines in mk 3 armor, 5 of which are the special iron hands set.  I am thinking of running them as sternguard.  The foam I bought for the army also has room for another dread and another land raider, so those could be an option.

A Call for Action from the Competitive Play Community

I wanted to talk about the state of competitive play in 40k.  This topic has been something I have spoken about with many friends, and I felt it was time to sit down and put everything out there.  The final straw to break the horse’s back in this case was Jervis Johnson’s article two weeks ago.  The basic point of the article I took away was 40k as a rule set gives you many ways to play, so you can pick and choose how you play to better enjoy the hobby.

Now, from a narrative/fluff end of the spectrum, the current rules sets add a lot of flavor to the game.  Forging the narrative has been GW’s priority with this edition, and it is safe to say, they have succeeded.  I can think of several good examples of games that had a great story come out of them.  They may not have been fair match-ups, but they did forge a narrative (even if the narrative was the tau shot everything).

I think we can all agree though that the rule set has a number of flaws in it.  I won’t get into the specifics of it here (that is a debate for another day, and probably with wiser men than myself).  I am sure we do not all agree on which rules are broken, which combos are busted, how a rule works, etc.

I think it is time that we as a community stop calling for GW to fix these issues.  Yes, it would be nice if they did, but at this point we are banging our heads against a wall.  So let’s stop asking them for a fix and start asking someone else to fix it.  I purpose that the big tournament organizers of our hobby sit down and write a faq or errata for our current rule sets and codices.

I want to clarify; I am not asking all tournaments to play the same format.  I am asking them to faq or errata everything the same way.  They can keep their individual themes such as one tournament saying armies can be made from 2 sources while another says 3.  Something like a 2+ re-rollable invuln save being nerfed to a 2+ then a 4+ could be something that they could all agree on though.  I’ll give credit where credit is due, that came from Frontline Gaming, which happens to have a complete FAQ for the main rulebook and all codices.

If the competitive community could do something like this, then competitive players can actually get that balanced rule set they want.  You can show up to a tournament and not wonder how a judge will decide upon a confusing rule.  Overly powerful combos may be toned down.

And this doesn’t hurt anyone.  Jervis even applauded the ETC for doing something similar in his article.  So, GW doesn’t seem to have a problem with it (after all, they are a model company first).  The narrative/fluffy/non-competitive players don’t lose the rule sets that add flavor to the game.  And the competitive players would finally get the answers they have been seeking.

Lore in the 40k Universe

First off, apologies for the delay in posting the narrative for Part 2 of our “Battle for Tarandros” series. Work has been insane these past three weeks and all of my limited free time has been consumed by other pursuits. But I will definitely get to it before our next narrative event.

In the meantime, I thought I would share my thoughts about the Lore of Warhammer 40,000, or “fluff” as it is more commonly referred to (a term that still makes me cringe, though I too have begun using it).

One of the first things that drew me into the hobby (both Fantasy and 40k), was the concept that each army has a personality. Much like any role playing game, you pick the army that resonates with you. Either because they match your character, have an interesting backstory, or the internet told you it would make you win (by far the least inspired choice).

All of the factions in the game are fictional, to be sure, but they all come from the human imagination, which means that they are each infused with qualities that we can relate to, an “essence” if you will.

For example, I love Eldar. If I was forced to choose 10 armies to play (and given the proverbial infinite monies), I would have one from each Craftworld, a corsair force and Dark Eldar army, before even considering an alien race to play. In actuality, I play only Ulthwé, because it embodies everything that I would expect a great civilization to possess; elegance, intelligence, wisdom, tenacity, and the courage to fight even against impossible odds. Every other race in the 40k universe seems crude by comparison.

That is not to say that I have strong negative feelings against every other race. Being Italian, anything inspired on the Roman Empire makes me happy, but the rampant ignorance and dogmatic superstition of the Imperium prevent it from being my faction of choice. Also, as you may have noticed from my narratives, I am quite capable of “getting in character,” no matter what models I am moving about. Eldar is simply my preference…by leaps and bounds…

However, 40k is extremely Imperium centric. Unlike Fantasy, where the lore is fairly balanced, easily 80% of the media (outside of codexi) produced by Games Workshop is by the Imperium, for the Imperium. To be fair, this is probably as much a function of the fact that it is the dominant force in the galaxy, as that of being the origin of most armies in the game.

So the disparity makes sense, but it definitely does make the rest of us feel a little left out. I was ecstatic when the Path of the Eldar trilogy came out, in addition to the lore contained within the Iyanden supplement. But that is pretty much it, aside from some cameo appearances in other stories (I am purposefully ignoring the existence of the Carnac Campaign short stories).

To be sure, the Horus Heresy is a massive undertaking, that is consuming much, if not most, of the Black Library’s resources. Hopefully when it ends, there will be an opportunity for some attention to the other non-human (or human adjacent) races of the galaxy. For my part, having an amazing codex definitely makes up for the lack of lore…though I still pray to Isha for an Ulthwé Supplement…

Ultimately though, the stories are what allow me to immerse myself into the “essence” of my favorite armies, and where most of my enjoyment of the game comes from. I know that many players could care less about the “fluff, ” which is fine. I suggest only that it might be worth exploring this dimension of the game, as it might enhance your experience of it.

Kaptain Klaw and his Freebootas

coverI figured it was time to do a formal introduction of my orks, Kaptain Klaw’s Freebootas.  The collection is getting out of hand, vastly out pacing the rate I can paint at.  So, it’s only going to get worse from here.

pantsThe theme behind the army is freebootas, aka ork space pirates.  Who doesn’t love that?  I wanted to do freebootas just so I could have a really varied collection.  It also opened up a few conversion possibilities.  The biggest problem I had was trying to tie the army together while still representing them as pirates.  I came up with the red stripped pants.

eyesOverall the paint scheme is very bright and I like it.  The only complaints I have are the eyes and the number of colors I put into each ork.  I can’t paint eyes well at all.  I can paint lenses, but I can’t paint eyes.  If anyone has a tip on painting eyes that looks good and doesn’t require me to break out a single hair brush, I am all ears.  I also went with a too varied color scheme.  It ends up taking me 20+ colors to finish a single boy.  Which is fine for a space marine army that may have only 30 tactical marines.  But I have over 200 boys…

nobzIn terms of conversions, I did a few simple ones and one or two complex ones.  My nobs were pretty simple, just some head swaps to pirate heads.  The heads are a little small proportionately, but they work otherwise.  As a side note, I am a magnetizing fiend.  All the arms on my nobs are magnetized, so I can switch out weapon options.  I also have some larger guns for them so they can double as flash gitz.

kaptain juniorUp next was the original Kaptain Klaw.  He is a kit bashed mess, but was such a blast.  He is based off a black reach warboss (because what ork collector doesn’t have half a dozen of those).  An arm swap to the nob biker big choppa and a bunch of hacking and chopping until I can throw a killa kan klaw on pretty much finished him out.  After I painted him up, I managed to get my hands on a hawk from the brettonian set, so the Kaptain got his parrot.

kaptain gunThe next conversion was the kaptain with a big freakin gun.  A campaign game put on by one of our own basically called for each army to have a sniper character.  Take another black reach warboss, chop up his gun and add a fusion blaster, a big shoota, and a missile launcher scope, then cover up the mutilated arm with a green stuff bandana.

kaptainThe last conversion I have painted up is the big kaptain klaw in power armor.  I got my hands on a metal ghazzghul.  I prefer metal to finecast.  I repositioned his arm, left off the big metal jaw and tusks.  Then I made a green stuff great coat.  Pretty simple stuff overall, but it works.

I have another battlewagon and dakka jet painted up that aren’t pictured.  My orks are probably my closest army to the mythical 2000 point painted army (a level I can’t seem to break in 40k).  I have close to 8000 points of orks, and their numbers keep growing.  I keep finding deals, or taking some off a friends hands, or finding that model I wanted, etc.

The army will keep growing.  I hear rumors that there will be a new book around June.  I am sure with a new book will come new models, so there I will go, buying more orks.  I still have a few gaps in my collection, mainly storm boys.  And I could always use more trukks.  And maybe some meganobz.  And I really like that forgeworld mega dread.

The Different Enviroments of FLGS

I wanted to talk today about the differing environments of a few FLGS (friendly local gaming stores) I have experienced over the last year.  Before coming to this area, I hadn’t been in a FLGS since the early 2000’s.  Here in Baltimore, I found an abundance of options.

The first store I frequented was Games Workshop in White Marsh.  Now contrary to what you hear all the time about GW shops, this place was fantastic.  It was a multiman store, a dying breed in GW’s current store model.  This meant that no one was getting burned out that much and the store had good hours 7 days a week.

Being a GW store, the selection was awesome.  We could easily order things out of stock and get them in quickly.  New releases always were available (except tau if I remember correctly, there were supply issues with everyone).  The black shirts weren’t pushy, in fact they were a vital part of our gaming/friend group.  And the tables were great with a wealth of terrain.

The only complaint I had was that it was by far the smallest store I had seen.  They were able to cram three full-sized tables, a demo table, and a painting station into the space.  But it would quickly become crowded.  Don’t even dream of having a personal bubble in there somedays.

When white marsh closed down, we went out in search of a new store to meet up on Saturday’s.  We ended up mostly settling at Titan Games and Hobbies.  This store presented us with a different set of pros and cons.

The pros first.  There was an abundance of space there.  About 10 full-sized gaming tables and about twenty tables for card games, board games, and hobbying.  That hobbying area was a bit hit or miss.  Somedays there was plenty of space, other days there wasn’t.  The had plenty of decent terrain to go with the tables.  The staff was friendly.

The selection was quite a bit less than shopping in a gw store.  Understandable for a FLGS.  They aren’t going to carry two boxes of everything because they can’t sell two boxes of everything.  On the flip side, since it was an independent retailer, they had third-party products.  This is where I fell in love with the army painter primers.

The cons finally.  It was quite the drive for a few of us, nearly 40 minutes.  Now granted, other members of our group had a long drive to white marsh, so it was just our turn to drive so to speak.  Probably the biggest con though was the gamers already established there.

Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t harass us or anything.  There were no open hostilities.  The gaming group for 40k that was established there was a very competitive group as we came to learn.  Our group has a bit of a competitive streak now and then, but ultimately we play to have fun and relax.  Our two gaming groups never really intermingled like the primarch and I had hoped.

This ultimately led us down the path of looking once again for a new gaming location.  Local to several of us was Critical Hit Games.  It once again had its own set of pros and cons over titan.

This time, I will start with the con’s.  The space is smaller, only 3 full-sized gaming tables (although more can be setup to a total of 6 likely) and a card gaming area that also doubles as a hobby space.  Depending on the event that is happening, there can be plenty of space to spread out, or it can be quit cramped.  It’s selection is also smaller than titan (you can always have a model ordered for you though).

The pros though outweigh the cons in my mind.  The terrain is very nice.  They discount most GW items (usually around 10 percent off).  They offer a rewards program.  Believe it or not, that discount is huge to me.  See, I feel it is an unspoken obligation for us gamers to spend some of our hobby dollar at these stores we play at.  If the store doesn’t make money, then it wont stay open, so we lose our gaming space.  We all can find GW models on sale online.  If I don’t have to choose between saving a little online or supporting a brick and mortar store, great!

The store owner is friendly and willing to be flexible with our schedule.  He lets us run narrative events.  He is often looking for feedback in the type of events to run for us.  There is even talks of starting a little battle scroll system.  Sort of a way to track in game achievements for 40k.

Lastly, and this is probably the reason I keep going back.  The community.  The wargamming community is small.  Mainly the half dozen or so legion members that meet up on Saturdays.  We are slowly growing, happy to pick up a game with anyone that comes in.  Most importantly though, we are having fun again.  We don’t care so much about winning and loosing.  We are becoming more focused on the hobby or trying out new things.  We are getting our gaming souls back after that time we all spent in “40k is broken” land.

This may sound like an ad for crit, and honestly, it is a little.  I hope that if you are local to the bel air area and read this, maybe you come down one Saturday afternoon and play a game.  More appropriately though, I want you to think about where you game.  If you are happy with your FLGS, then stay there.  If you aren’t, branch out.  You just may find a community that more suits your taste.  If you want a hard more competitive crowd, there are places out there.  If you want a little more light hearten gaming scene, they are out there two.  The point is, be happy and enjoy your game, there are FLGS out there that can help you do that.

A Review of 6th Edition…So Far: Part 5

space marine codexSeptember was the much awaited release of the new Space Marine codex.  And holy crap, did it rock.  New tactical squad, centurions, stalker/hunter, and a plastic librarian.  Personally I liked them all except the assault centurions.  The codex was now no longer ultramarine focused, presenting rules to play ultramarines, iron hands, imperial fist, white scars, raven guard, salamanders, and black templar.  Fluff sections also supported this.

Overall I think this was a very balanced codex.  It presents many options in terms of list builds within each chapter.  There are dominant builds and some weaker chapter tactics, but overall no one list seems to be the predominant list.  It is definitely below the tau and eldar on the power curve, but it is by no means a weak codex.

The codex was received with much joy by shoereaper as his space sharks received their own chapter tactics through a forgeworld update.  The lord primarch also rejoiced at the rejuvenation of his beloved ultramarines.  Even I was inspired by the codex to finally start a space marine army (Iron Hands).  We have seen many space marine armies on the table in our local group.

More codex supplements followed the release of the space marines.  Black legion for the chaos space marines sentinels of terra and clan raukaan for space marines.  Once again, great fluff sections from these new supplements.  I have only read the clan raukaan supplement, and it was a fantastic read.  The rules for these supplements were good, not earth shattering or broken as far as we can tell.  There are even about half a dozen mission in the back that one day I want to run through.

Next up was a digital release, the Inquisitor supplement.  This supplement didn’t really introduce new rules to play with the inquisitors available in the grey knight codex.  What it did introduce was a new ally slot, the inquisitorial ally.  These units can be taken without using up the allied detachment slot.  So, in theory, three separate armies can be taken in the same list.  And thus the first change in the force organization chart since 6th edition began.  I haven’t seen this codex in action yet.

escalationstronghold assaultThen December rolled in.  The change it brought we are still sorting out.  First came the two books that should be one in my mind, Stronghold Assault and Escalation.  Stronghold assault brought in tons of fortifications including void shields.  The rules for it have some areas that need cleared up, but nothing to broken out of that book.

Escalation on the other hand is hotly debated as the most unbalanced rule set out there.    The introduction of super heavies and D weapons are extremely powerful.  The worst offender seems to be the eldar revenant titan.  More worrying to most gamers was the statement by GW that this rule set was not an optional expansion but a part of regular 40k.  Fear of lords of war running around the gaming tables prevailed.  But so far those fears have not materialized.  I would like to play a game or two of escalation before passing judgment on it.  Interesting side note, since then the great Jervis “Do It For Your Fucking Self” Johnson has said in a recent white dwarf that the 40k rule set is like a buffet, pick and choose which rules you want to follow.

December also brought us the advent calendar.  Daily digital releases from GW.  The biggest splash of which was data slates.  Essentially allowing yet another way to bring a separate codex’s troops without using the allied detachment slot.  This time though, the formation presented was very specific in the units you could take.  The possibilities presented now seemed nearly endless.

Along with data slates, new missions and a new versions of kill teams was released.  I hadn’t had a chance to play the new missions.  I have had a chance to play the kill team rules.  They seem pretty simple and balanced.  Units preform differently in kill teams than in regular 40k.  Definitely worth a try.

Finally, in January we get the release of the tyranid codex.  Initial impressions on the internet were very bad.  Complaints ran rampant over the loss of the spore pod, worse outcome of the instinctive behavior table, and the loss of access to biomancy.  There was much screaming and internet rage to be found.

As it plays out though, I feel like the codex does have some strengths though.  Large hordes of cheap bugs soak up fire really well.  Swarm lord is still tough as nails (he ate 3 warbosses in a single game and lived to tell the tail).  I have heard good reports about the exocrine and hive crone, but have not seen them in play.  The flying hive tyrant can deal out a tone of damage.  I think as time goes on, we will see this codex turn out to be stronger than initial thought.

And there you have it.  The end of our review.  We already have articles up on the knights by Ralshenik and myself.  I think Ralshenik is also working on a review of the Crimson Slaughters, a book I know he likes.  Now that we are finished looking back, it is time to look forward (to guard/Astra Militara and hopefully some orks and blood angels eventually)

The Legion Hits a Flea Market…Or Buying Used Models

I thought it would be good to sit down and discuss gaming flea markets.  I was surprised to learn that many hobbyist have not heard of these before.  Essentially, local gaming stores host a day where you can rent a table to sell warhammer, warhammer 40000, or other miniature games.  Depending on the store, there is a rental fee for a table.  Most stores allow cash transactions, and most offer the ability to put money on a gift card for the person selling the models.

Last October, the Lord Primarch and I heard a local store, Dropzone Games, would be hosting a flea market.  We went down to check it out and were instantly blown away.  There was tons of stuff.  Guys were stacking things 2-3 feet deep on there tables in some cases.  We got a lot of good deals.  The owner mentioned on the way out that they hold this market twice a year, the next one would be march.  We marked our calendars and spread the word to our fellow legionaries.

March rolled in and we all geared up.  We got there early, the space opened at 10am.  We had a narrative event to play/run later that day so we all wanted to get this done early.  What we learned is it is great to show up early.  Deals were everywhere, and most good ones were getting snapped up in front of our eyes.

The second thing I learned was make sure you have a list of things you want.  There can literally be so much cool stuff you have never seen before, that you quickly lose focus.  I was looking to finish out the armored core of my iron hands, a landraider, a vindicator, and a stormtalon.  After that, I had a set budget of $150 and planned to just go nuts.

For the most part, I didn’t even haggle like I would at a regular flea market.  I knew a few of the sellers and the ones I didn’t seemed like fair guys offering fair prices.  The nice thing about these kind of markets is that the guy you are dealing with is probably a lot like you.  You both play the same game, and you both no the value of the models. That being said, if you feel a price is to high, don’t be afraid to ask if they will take less for it.  The worst they will say is no.

In short, here is what I picked up.  A crusaider landraider new in box ($40), a vindicator that was assembled and unprimed ($30), a new in bag gamesday model from forgeworld called runtbot ($30), and 4 forgeworld tetras new in bag ($40 total).  All in all I spent $140 dollars and walked away with an estimated $400 dollars in product.  The stand out deal was the tau tetras, which are 35 pounds a piece.  I snapped those up so fast, shoereaper’s head spun (I did end up trading one to him for some ork dice since he is a fellow follower of the greater good).

The other members of our expedition can fill you in on there deals if they want, but generally speaking, we all found things we wanted at good prices.  They did not have everything we were looking for (there wasn’t a stormtalon in sight, and I would have likely had to battle the librarian for it).  In the end though, it was most definitely worth the effort (i.e. waking up at 7 am on the first Saturday I had off in 6 weeks).

I encourage you to seek out these markets.  My history with flea markets has taught me that they can be hit or miss.  Sometimes you meet people offering fair prices (or even crazy low prices…tetras) and sometimes you meet people asking high prices.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate.  Make a list and know what you are willing to pay for these items.  Show up early, all the good deals will disappear fast as the mobs pic over the tables.

Buying models second hand like this takes a little more effort than buying new.  Sometimes a model will need a little TLC before it is up to your standard.  I can go on and on about stripping models of paint, unassembling a model to then re-assemble it, ect.  I think it is worth it in the end.  The money I saved by getting a lot of my models second hand is going to allow me to splurge on some forgeworld units to round out my iron hands list.