I caved

That’s right, I caved. This past weekend I bought A devastator squad so that I can build some new marines with Grav-Cannons. But that is not what I really mean when I say I caved. I also bought a Command Squad and a box of bikers. I was doing so well on not spending money, but no, I had to cave. Why do I think I caved when I mention these?

Well, for the past couple of weeks I wanted to play test a command squad for Isurus and the second Company of Carcharodons. However, I was never actually able to get that game in. Every time I would come close, something would come up. Either I would play the Tyranids, or need to play a more competitive game, or just not even get a game in. So I caved, bought the two boxes, and began my conversions. Am I 100% happy with the conversions? No. But I am happy over all.

First, we have the Chapter Champion. I like his pose and that I was able to add the shield. The final goal, after some sanding, is to add the Carcharodon emblem to the shield.

Champion 2Champion 1

Second we have an Apothecary on a bike. Thanks to someone pointing it out to be, this unit will be 3+ Armour save, 4+ cover save, and now have a 5+ Feel No Pain, all with a toughness 5. I don’t like where the left arm ended up, but it could have been worse.

Apoth 1

Speaking of worse, now we come to the banner bearer. I really wanted my command squad to have one. But none of the banners looked correct. They all looked static. So I just tried to make it look like this one guy was carrying it off to the side. The final goal may be to get a banner from a Raven Wing bike squad and convert that into a Carcharodon Banner. But for now, this banner will have to do.

Banner 1

Banner 2

All that is left is for me to build a few more bikers, armed with power swords. Then, I will be happy with my command squad… well, maybe after they are painted.

Hierodule: The Return

Just over 6 months ago, I ordered a scythed Hierodule (as you can see here). Now that I have had it built and painted, and even got a few games in with it, I wanted to give a short review of the unit.

The lone firewarrior tries to delay the hierodules inevitable charge

The lone firewarrior tries to delay the hierodules inevitable charge

First, the Hierodule is fast. The 12-inch move plus the ability to run twice means it can cover a lot of ground, up to 24 inches with some good rolls. This means, unless something bad happens, you will be in a position to charge in turn two. The Hierodule is also usually hard to kill. I’ve seen my Hierodule take a lot of firepower, including nearly an entire Tau army shooting at it for multiple turns. Its toughness 8 means that most standard guns (bolters) cannot even scratch it. However, a unit of Grav-Centurions can easily take it down. Wounding the Hierodule on 3’s, and ignoring its armour, means all the Hierodule has left is it’s Feel No Pain special rule, so it can be killed. Which is why a Tyranid player has to keep is cover as much as possible, which can reduce it’s range.

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Now, the Scythed Hierodule does not bring much firepower to the table. Honestly, I think I used the template weapon once, maybe twice, during a game. Yes, it can easily kill a couple of tactical squads or anything else with one wound and an armour save of 3 or better. But there are a lot of units that are multi wound or have a higher Armour value.

24 Epic Battle

However, the biggest drawback I have found is not the Scythed Hierodule’s limited firepower, it is the limited use I get from it. Since this is such a unique unit and such a tough unit, I only play it when my opponent knows what he will be facing. This is not something I want to surprise my opponent with. And this allows my opponent to prepare for it. I don’t think my Hierodule survived one of the games I used him in. Heck, thanks to those grav-cents, I’ve seen the hierodule die in turn one (it didn’t help that I rolled two very low numbers in a run phase, meaning I missed the terrain I was aiming for.

So, what is my final opinion? Excluding that it broke last night, I am very happy with my purchase. It looks good and it fun to play. Will I get the Barbed Hierodule? Probably. But I am very happy I started with the Scythed Hierorule.

Expanding into Formations

This Saturday I decided to run my first Tyranid formation. I ran a soft list, very swarmy, and added the Skytyrant Swam formation. This formation is a Hive Tyrant, which has to take the wings biomorph, and two units of Gargoyles. This means you can run it with 20 to 60 Gargoyles.

There are a few good things that come with this formation. First, the Hive Tyrant adds 6 inches to its synapse range. Not that I would ever do this, but if you give it the Norm Crown, and manage to get dominion off, this would give you a Hive Tyrant with a 30 inch synapse range. Second, the Hive Tyrant can also take Look Out, Sir rolls, and pass them on a 2+. This means that you now have 20 or more extra wounds on the Tyrant. Third, the only way this formation gives up kill points is if the entire formation is completely destroyed. Finally, the formation just looks cool. A swarm of Gargoyles surrounding a massive Hive Tyrant with wings just looks amazing.

Now, having said all of that, I am not sold on this formation. Sure, I ran it with 30 Gargoyles, giving the Tyrant 30 extra wounds, but these wounds are T3 with armour saves of 6. So bolters, while would wound the Tyrant on 6’s, causes wounds on this unit on 3s. And those wounds do not get armour saves. Also, due to the way the special rules read, the Hive Tyrant cannot fly. This obviously makes sense when Hive Tyrant is with the Gargoyles, but it also true when all of the Gargoyles are destroyed. The rule reads “The Hive Tyrant cannot leave the unit during the battle and can only use the Gliding Flight mode.”

Will I run this formation again? Of course, it is fun, and like I said, it looks really cool when they are all painted up. I may even get another 10 gargoyles for another 10 wounds. But this formation is not a game changer.

Unit Review – Raveners

This past weekend, I got a game in with my Tyranids against the Iron Hands with a Skitarii ally. It was a close game; the Tyranids pulling out a one point win. But the all-star unit in the game (on my side at least) was a full brood of Raveners. This unit of nine took out a unit of 10 Vanguard Skitarii, two 10-man squads of tactical marines, and took out the majority of a third before the game ended. I actually run the Raveners because they are fun, not because they are competitive, plus I like the way they look. I have been told that they are the second best unit in my army (after the Flyrant), and while I do not agree with that, I do not think they are terrible by any means.

Raveners

Each Ravener costs 30 points and has the following STAT line:
WS5 BS3 S4 T4 W3 I5 A3 Ld6 Sv5+

How I run my Raveners is very basic; the full brood of nine with rending claws and no other upgrades. While I obviously have the option of making them shooty, their low ballistic skill does not seem to make them a viable shooty option. And since they come with fleet and basically ignore terrain, I prefer to get them into my opponent’s face as quickly as possible, not having ranged weapons means that I either run them or hold off and charge them. Their weapon skill and initiative, while not at the level of Genestealers, is still above a lot of other units.

So, what does a unit of nine bring? 45 attacks on the charge, 27 wounds, 5-up armour saves (ok, not great there), and a unit that cannot be ignored. They have deep strike and fleet, but are one of the few units that cannot get upgrades like adrenal glands or toxin sacs (which I may not take anyway).

Raveners 2

As much as I love them, I admit that they are not unbeatable. In the first game where in that I played the fully painted brood, they were turned into mist in the top of the first turn (Giving up first blood). My opponent, playing Tau, hit them with marker lights, removed their cover saves and then upped the BS of a R’Varna. The R’Varna then hit the raveners 36 times and caused 29 unsavable wounds. That full unit just disappeared from the board. It should also be noted that S8 attacks can wipe an entire model off the board with one hit. The 5-up armour save means most weapons (in my experience) will just cut right through them. So, yes, there are some down sides to this unit.

How do I counter all of this? Well, with their 12-inch move and fleet, I try to terrain hop until I can get them into close combat. I also use their 12-inch move to cycle unwounded models to the front of the line so that when I finally can get them into close combat, I still have close to the full brood. It also helps if you can get them feel no pain. Any extra chance to save a wound is a plus, and in yesterday’s game, I made an obscene amount to feel no pain rolls (as well as rending rolls, I may have to have my dice weighed).

Is there a better option? Yes. A Shrike Brood can bring the same movement, a synapse range, fearless, for the same points cost. That’s just one option that is viable. For the amount of points I drop into this unit, there are plenty of more competitive units I can add into my lists.

Four Units of Sharks

As I have repeatedly stated, one of my many armies is the Carcharodon chapter of the space marines. This army, while not played much, has a special place in my heart. I was introduced to this chapter thanks my good friend, the Lord Primarch, and while it doesn’t see the tabletop time it used to, I still enjoy playing it. I usually field a very elite list when I play the sharks for fluff reasons. While I may change my list up almost every time I play them, there are four units that are almost always in my lists. In this blog I will briefly cover each and introduce you to a character of my own creation.

Carcharodons_Banner

First, of course, is Tyberos, the Red Wake, Chapter Master of the Carcharodons. Tyberos is not really all that special. Sure, he brings some interesting tweaks to a Space Marine chapter, but he is not all that different from a regular Chapter Master from the space marine codex. He comes in at 190 points and is basically armed with a powerfist, a lightning claw, and terminator armour. I did a much more in-depth coverage in an earlier blog, so I will not get into all of his abilities here. And while I say that he is not all that special, I use him all the time, and usually he dies in my game. But he is a fun character, and he brings the second unit that I almost always bring.

Tyberos

Tyberos makes a terminator assault squad with lightning claws available as a troop choice. In the fluff, this is his bodyguard, and I cannot leave home without them. I usually take a unit of seven with a land raider as a dedicated transport. The downside to all of this is that one unit is taking up 545 points, or just over a quarter of my total points in my 2K point army. Not that I want to sell terminators short, they are a solid unit, but they are an expensive unit. This unit, being a troop choice, also gives me access to an objective secured landraider, which has not come into play all that often, but it is nice to know I have. A vehicle with armour values of 14 all around is still a tough nut to crack.

The third unit I tend to field is Isurus, Captain of the Second Company, and here we have the character of my own creation. While I do not have a back-story to him yet, I am working on it. He is standard captain on a bike, so I do not need to go through his stat line, but I have equipped him with the “Might of the Lamniforms” which is a melee weapon that hits at +2 Strength, is AP 3, and has rampage and strikedown. This is a version of the Teeth of Terra, meaning it is just as restricted as that weapon. This captain has actually been the hero of many games. Even when the unit he has joined has been eliminated, he has managed to pull out a win for me. Maybe it’s the artificer armour.

Isurus

Isurus, being a Captain on a bike, frees up the final unit that is almost always in my lists. I love taking a full unit of bikes (if not two) in my Marine list as a troop choice. The speed and variety of weapon options that a full unit brings to the table is usually worth it to me. And again, having objective secured, while not always necessary, is nice to have in your back pocket.

So, there you go, the standard four units in my 2K-point army lists. And those 4 units take up just over half of my points. Like I said earlier, I run a fairly elite army, but it is a fun army for me, even if I do not win with them as often as I win with my Tyranids.

Shorereaper, signing off….

tzitzimitl - air demon

Weekend in Review – Shorereaper

It was another great weekend for gaming, and I got to try out a lot of Tyranid units I don’t normally use. I figure this post would be good to give my honest opinion on a few of those units now that I have another game under my belt with them.

The first game I played was a scenario out of the Leviathan book against the Adepta Sororitas. There were three large blast sized objectives. These objectives would move towards the Sisters table edge if the closet model to them was a Sisters unit, and if the closest unit were a Tyranid, it would move directly away from the Tyranid unit. Sister player scores the objective if they can get the objectives off of their table edge, and I would score them if I could harvest them (mmm… tasty). By the end of the game, I harvested all three markers (or would have had my opponent not conceded). My deployment zone limited my options, so a lot of my units were held in reserve. This was the game where I tried out the units I don’t normally use.

The second game was a quick 1500-point game against the Blood Angels, and again, the Tyranids were successful. The only surprise unit I took was Old One Eye, and this now makes him have a 2–0 record! Like I said, the game was quick. I had some incredible rolls, and even the rolls that didn’t go well probably ended up helping me in the long run (not running out of terrain). My opponent couldn’t make any of his invulnerable saves when he had them, and didn’t do all that well when it came to his armour saves. Old One Eye had three squads (2 Five-man assault and 1 Five-man Tactical) against him at one time, and they still only caused him one wound. He really held up better than I thought he would.

Now, on to some of those unit reviews I promised.

Old One Eye – This buffed up Carnifex is a lot of fun to use. And once he takes his first wound, he gains feel no pain at the start of his next movement phase (if he is your warlord). I do believe that Old One Eye could be a great unit in fluffy games, but I wouldn’t use him in games that I wanted to be highly competitive. There are better HQ choices. I do see me fielding him on occasion though.

Maleceptor – DO NOT TAKE THIS UNIT! Yes, he looks cool, and in this weekend’s game, he was actually a little more productive than in the previous fame, but only in close combat. The one time I got his psychic power off, he missed his shot. He did kill a unit of sisters and a tank, but in close combat. This is not what he is intended for. He also provided a synapse range, which in this list was uncommon, but there are so many better options. So my Maleceptor will be sitting on the shelf looking pretty.

Haruspex – DO NOT TAKE THIS UNIT! This may actually be worse than the Maleceptor, at least the Maleceptor has an invulnerable save. I can think of only two redeeming values of the Haruspex. 1. It looks really cool. 2. Most opponents, not knowing what it can (or cannot) do, will concentrate on killing it, freeing up the rest of your army. In three games I have used it in so far, its kill tally is one Ork Boy. That’s it. To get it anywhere, you need to give it adrenal glands so you can get fleet; raising it’s cost even more. It has one “shooting” attack that will hit 50% of the time. I’d rather have a Carnifex.

Tyrannofex – Honestly, I cannot say anything about this model. Due to the limitations of my deployment zone (3 inches on each long table edge), I had to put this unit into reserves. And due to some poor rolling on my part, he didn’t make his way to the table edge till turn 4. Once he came out, he got one shot off, killed one sister, and that was game. I still do not know how to use it, or if I even should. Maybe I will give a better report later.

Mawloc – I hate Moloc. I have used the Mawloc in three games thus far, and I have had no success with him. I always try for his special attack, and in all three games I have managed to mishap and roll a 1. I cannot blame the unit for my bad luck, but after three times, I am pretty sure that I am never meant to play this unit. I think it does have potential, and I will give it another shot, but right now I am just a bit disheartened.

Harpy – Ah, the other flyer. I cannot say, “Do not take this unit” as I think it does have it’s uses. I just would rather take the Hive Crone. The crone, with its template attack, it’s missiles, and its S8 vector strike is just more useful. The Harpy, with its blast weapon and its bombing capability is just more limited. And once your opponent makes you jink, it’s pretty much out of the picture. Again, it has its uses, but there are better options for about the same price.

So, that’s it for my report this week.

Unit Review: Tau XV109 Y’varha – AKA Lightining

tau-suit2

Howdy everyone.  It’s Severus and I am back with part two of my riptide variant review.  Check out part 1 here.  Today I will be covering the newer addition to the tau arrsenal, the XV109 Y’varha, or as I call him, Lightining.  I just picked this baby up and am getting an impression of how it works on the table top.  These are my early thoughts on it’s tactics, rules, fluff, and model.

Fluff wise, this one is a little light on it.  Essentially, the famed creator of the R’varna, Fio’O Kel’shan Sho’Aun, had at least one other suit design in his arsenal  After the success of the R’varna, he was given the green light to work on his other prototype, the Y’varha.  This suit is a shift away from his traditional philosophy of siege warfare.  It is designed for more hit and run style warfare.

Model wise this one is my favorite.  He looks absolutely fantastic.  His super charged jet pack really gives you the feeling that he can make some large leaps through the air.  Assembly was pretty easy.  I think the only complaints I could lodge is that a few gaps were left around where the resin plates cover the torso.  There was a fair amount of filing to make some of those pieces fit.  Otherwise, another great kit from forgeworld with lots of posing options.

Once again, at the time of this writing a set of experimental rules are available for download from forgeworld.  As always, since these are experimental, I recommend getting your opponents permission before playing with these rules.

Rules wise this guy is a huge mess of rules.  First off, the stat line.   Pretty similar to the riptide again, but now with 4 wounds and ballistic skill 4.  The Y’varha comes with hit and run as well as supporting fire.  It can take shielded missile drones or standard shield drones, which I still think I would pass on due to the chance for failed moral checks.  Support system wise, it has access to everything.  Stand outs for me are the stimulant injector (feel no pain) and possibly the counter fire defense system (overwatch at BS 2).  It is a fast attack slot and only available to the tau empire.  Guess old Farsight is left out again.

Now on to the pile of wargear this guy drags into battle.  It’s Ravelin Shield generator provides the Y’varha with a 5+ invuln, improving to 4+ invuln when the attack is made within 12 inches or close combat.  Up next is the Vectored Thrust Array.  This allows the Y’Varha to move like a swooping monstrous creature (12-24 inches).  It cannot vector strike or preform a movement like this in 2 subsequent turns.  Note it moves like a swooping MC, it is not swooping though, so it can be shot normally.  Finally, it’s Flechette Dispersal Pods.  When the Y’varha moves as describes above or comes in via deep strike, it can make a special shooting attack at the end of the movement phase.  The weapon has 6″ range, strength 4, ap5, assault D6 with the shred special rule.  Note, this does not count as firing a weapon (so he can still shoot his other guns at a different target).

Now onto the weaponry.  First off the Y’varha is packing a phased-plasma flamer.  Oh yeah, it’s that bad.  It is essentially a 6″ torrent flamer with two fire modes.  Single canister makes the shot strength 6, ap3, heavy 1.  Full rotation (as in all three canisters) is strength 6, ap2, heavy 2, gets hot.  This gun is MEAN.  It can essential wipe out any infantry squad it likes.  Templates ignore cover and depending on mode, it can be ap2 or ap3.  Add onto that the double shot for full rotation and you begin to see how much damage this can put out.  Remember, this gun can only kill what it can reach, so the 6″ torrent is your friend.  Don’t let a crafty tau try to cheat you.  After that try to keep your units spread out (pretty standard advice when dealing with template weapons).

Now for my favorite, the Ionic Discharge Cannon.  This thing is anti-armor to the max.  It has a 12″ range, strength 8, ap 3, heavy 3, blind and a special rule called haywire burst.  This rule states that for each hit this weapon causes against a vehicle, it causes a separate haywire hit.  Now that alone makes this gun mean.  If it gets in range, it can drop a land raider in one shot (with a bit of luck).  Once again, the down fall here is range.  It needs to get close to use this weapon, so a clever foe can try to stay out of it’s range.

Now onto the final bit, the special nova reactor that comes with the Y’varha.  It can increase the invulnerable save to 3+ in close combat.  It can increase the number of shots from the Ionic Discharge Cannon to Heavy 3 + D3.  It can be used to remove the model and place it into ongoing reserves (essential flying off like a flyer).  It can do this while in combat.  Finally, it can use the reactor to gain jink.  If it is moving as if swooping that turn, i gains a 4+ cover save.  Generally speaking all very useful powers (if a bit situational).  I like the extra shots from the Ionic Discharge Cannon.  That makes this guy able to drop a knight in a single volley (if you roll super well).

In terms for tactical use of this suit, it is pretty simple.  Get this guy in close to a juicy target, do as much damage as possible, then get back out.  Rinse and repeat.  The problem becomes target priority.  That is really a function of your list and your opponents.  Don’t have anything to deal with those sanguinary guard coming up your flank.  Fly the Y’varha over and use the full rotation flamer to burn them down.  Don’t have anything to slow down that land raider of terminators coming towards you lines.  Hit it with the Ionic Discharge cannon.  The key is to not get bogged down.  Use the hit and run or the nova power to jump into reserves.  Kill what you need to, then get out to take on a new target.  Staying mobile is key. (Side Note: these are mostly theoretical tactics, my experience with the Y’varha is limited).

Now, the final question.  How do you kill one?  This maybe a little harder than initially you may think.  It is one wound less than a riptide, so it should die quicker.  Same tactics apply there (large amounts of poisoned shots, high strength low ap shooting, grav weapons).  The best tactic for killing a riptide in my opinion is leadership checks and close combat.  Leadership checks are still a valid way to push this guy around or potentially run him down.

Close combat is a bit hairy.  You want to be able to kill the Y’varha in a single charge.  If you fail to kill him he has 2 chances to escape (hit and run in your turn or the nova power in its turn).  Then your assault you is stuck sitting out in the open and the Y’varha is free to run around wreaking havoc again.

That about wraps it up for Lighting.  I am really looking forward to getting these two on the table together.  I think they can have some great synergy and look amazing.  I just need to get them painted up.  What do you guys think about these forgeworld suits?  Are they fitting the tau army aesthetic and fluff like you would expect?  Any insights on taking them out or neutralizing them? How about the experimental rules?  I honestly expect that they will tone down the Y’vahra whenever it gets official rules.  Regardless, this is a piece I am happy to add to my collection.  Until next time, this is Severus saying have a good one and take it easy.

Unit Review: Tau XV107 R’varna- AKA Thunder

ravanap1

Howdy everyone, Severus here.  Today I wanted to start a 2 part review on the riptide variants released by forgeworld.  I happen to have both and have used them in my lists to good effect.  So, I figured I would share my thoughts on them.

Up first, the XV 107 R’varna, or as I call him, Thunder.  Fluff wise this guy is awesome.  Essentially, there is a sept of tau that is CONSTANTLY under assault from tyranids.  A member of the earth caste, Fio’O Ke’lshan Sho’Aun, basically lied to the ethereals.  He kept asking for more funds and equipment to build a new stealth unit.  Instead he came out with this bad boy, who happens to crush the invading tyranids and save the day.  Interesting that some of the best tau stories come from times when a member of the society tells the ethereals screw you and does what they think is best.

After that battle, the ethereals sort of okay the production of the suit.  At the time of this writing, it is limited to the planet of Ke’lshan, production wise.  Obviously it can be used by other septs, but only in limited numbers since there is only one world producing this variant.

The model speaks for itself.  It is a bulkier riptide in terms of it’s armors.  It has two awesome gun arms in place of the gun and shield.  The guns are pulse submunission cannons.  They are as mean as that name sounds.  It was relatively easy to assembly (although the little ammo canisters and fins sticking of the gun were a bit fiddly and always worry me when being transported).  Recently I had my guy in foam that was to tight and one of the guns actually was warped by it.  Cup of hot water straightened it out.  Besides that I have no big complaints.

Now for the rules.  At the time of this writing, the rules are still listed as experimental and available for download from forgeworld.  It is the second set of rules for the R’varna.  This does present a bit of a gray area.  In theory, they will either put out a book or download with the official rules.  For the time being, since they are experimental, I recommend talking to an opponent before using this guy.  Use your best judgement guys.  Also note, you can only have one of these period.  And only in a tau empire army as a heavy support.  Sorry Farsight, guess Aun’Shi couldn’t steal one for you.

Back to the unit.  He is essential a beefed up riptide stat line wise.  Biggest change is he has 6 wounds at toughness 7.  He is not a jetpack monstrous creature, just a monstrous creature, so he loses some mobility.  He has no options for weapons, you get the 2 pulse submunission cannons and that is it.  Wargear wise he has two options: positional relay and stimulant injector.  I opt for the stimulant injector, feel no pain on a T7 6W model with a 2+/5++ is just a good investment in my mind.  He can also bring 2 shielded missile drones.  I tend to pass on these, the firepower isn’t worth it and they lower the unit toughness to 6.  Plus, if you lose a drone from shooting you are subject to a moral check.  No one likes to see a 300+ point unit run off the table.

Now onto his pile of special rules.  First up, how those big beautiful guns work.  Each pulse submunission cannon fires a single large blast template with a 60″ range (remember, he has two of these guns).  On infantry models they cause a strength 6 ap 4 hit.  Very bulky models, bikes, jetbikes, beasts, and cavalry each suffer 2 hits at strength 7 ap4 for each model under the template.  Extremely bulky models, monstrous creatures, flying monstrous creatures, vehicles, and artillery each suffer 3 hits at strength 8 ap4 for each model under the template.  What this amounts two is these weapons can put a ton of hits on just about anything.  The moderate ap value means most targets will get a save, so weight of fire is key here.

The big guns are not the only new toy the R’varna has.  It also has it’s own nova reactor.  It can increase the invuln save to 3++ like a riptide.  It can choose to run 2d6 and gain fleet for a turn (which is handy when you need to re position or get away from a threat).  It can do an emp pulse, hitting all models within 6″ of the R’varna with a strength 2 ap5 haywire hit.  Last, but not least is volley fire.  It allows the R’varna to fire each pulse submunission cannon twice (so for 4 large blasts in total).  It can not fire in the following turn.

So, now that that you have the rules under your belt, lets talk about how to use the R’varna.  This unit is great for locking down a lane of fire on a table.  It can put out an incredible amount of fire power.  Even if it can’t ignore 3+ or 2+ armor, weight of fire can bring those units down.  Throw a few marker lights on it and he can ignore cover.  He can use this weight of fire to drop just about anything.  He struggles most with AV 14 (since he can only glance on a 6) and terminator equivalents (causing a single strength 6 hit on each).  He flat out can’t handle a flyer (being that his only weaponry is blast).  Otherwise it is fair game.  I have seen him drop a full health daemon prince in a single volley.

My favorite tactic with him involves his nova reactor.  Line up a good target turn 1 or 2.  Get the reactor to go off and volley fire the target.  4 large blasts with it’s multiple hits rule can hurt a lot of things.  Now you can’t shoot the next turn.  Get the reactor off again and choose the 2d6 run and fleet.  Now re position you R’varna into another lane of fire and repeat on turn 3 or 4.  There is a great fear factor involved here.  My opponents have seen this trick and will do everything to avoid presenting a target to the R’varna.  You can use him to push enemy targets into line of sight/range of other units in your army.

Now the big question, how do you kill/neutralize this guy?  He is actually not as hard to kill as you may think.  The standard strategies that kill riptides kill him (large amounts of high strength low ap shooting, grav guns, large amounts of poisoned weapons to force a lot of saves, lock him in close combat).  Now, here is the problem with the first three.  If you can shoot him, he can shoot you.  So you basically need to kill him in one round of shooting or present him with to many targets so that something is alive to kill the R’varna in subsequent shooting rounds.  The only exception to that would be if you fire support is on a flyer, since all the R’varna can use against it is harsh language.

Now follow me here.  In games I have played so far, close combat has been the most effective way to neutralize a R’varna.  If you are crafty and can avoid being shot and get within assault range, you can shut him down.  He can’t overwatch with his blast weapons.  He has 3 attacks at weapon skill 2, initiative 2.  Granted, he will be ap2 as a monstrous creature.  Odds are though he will only kill a marine equivalent a turn.  So, say you are lucky enough to get a tactical squad in to combat with him.  They can use krak grenades to wound him on 5’s and lose a single guy per round.  You may not kill the R’varna, but he won’t be shooting for a long time.

The other way to handle him, morale checks.  He is leadership 9, so it is a little difficult.  The more tests you make him take, the more likely it is he will fail.  Odd’s are, he will be close to board edge to avoid anyone getting to close.  One bad leadership roll and off he goes.  You can also try to pin him, making him snap shoot (which he can’t do with his blasts).  Finally, if you ever beat him in combat, run him down.

The last trick up a crafty opponent’s sleeve, blind tests.  At initiative 2, he is going to fail the majority of the time.  Now, snap shots prevent him from firing his large blasts.  Don’t let a sneaky tau lie to you, marker lights are no help.  Yes, they can improve the ballistic skill of a snap shot, but they are still snap shots.  So, no shooting for the R’varna.

That about wraps it up for Thunder.  Hope that gave you a little insight on what this big thing is, where it came from, and how to use or kill it.  Up next is the Y’varha, or as I call him, Lightining.  Until then, this is Severus saying have a good one and take it easy.

Hierodule

Last weekend I place a Forge World order for my first Lord of War for the Tyranids. The Hierodule I ordered is currently on its way, and I thought now would be a decent time to do a quick unit review, and then I will explain why I chose the one I did. I may do a second review after a few games with it in order to give a more experienced review.

The Hierodule comes in two options, Scythed and Barbed. The difference, besides their names, is how they are armed and their points cost. Both have the stat line of WS4, BS3, S10, T8, W6, I3, Ld10, and Sv 3+. The Scythed Hierodule has 7 attacks while the barbed has 5. Both are Gargantuan Creatures (and have all of special rules that go with that unit type) and both have the Agile special rule. Agile allows the unit to Run twice, shoot one weapon and run once, or shoot two weapons.

The difference between the two units is what they are armed with and their point’s value. The Scythed Hierodule comes with two sets of talons and a Bio-acid spray and comes in at a points cost of 535. The Bio-acid spray is a hellstorm template weapon that is S6 AP3, meaning a unit of tactical marines may just disappear. The Barbed Hierodule is armed with two bio-cannons and one set of talons. Each bio-cannon has a range of 48 inches, Strength 10, Ap 3, and is a assault 6 weapon. This means that the Barbed unit brings 12 shots to the table at a cost of 565 points. Ok, it may only hit with 6 of them on average, but that is still a lot of S10 hits.

Looking at their abilities and costs, I have to believe that the Barbed Hierodule is the better choice of the two. Yes, they are both T8 creatures, meaning a melta-gun will have a hard time wounding them (on 4s), and in close combat a Tac squad will not be able to do much against them. But if an Imperial Knight were to get into close combat with Hierodule, the knight would go first, and has a decent chance of killing it before it even attacks. Yes, poisoned weapons will only would it on 6’s (thank you 40K rules), but a small unit of Centurions could rip right through them as well. So, using the Barbed Hierodule and keeping it at a distance would be the way to go in my opinion.

So, having realized that of the two, the Barbed Hierodule is the better option, I ordered the Scythed Hierodule. I feel that while it is the worse of the two, it fits into my army slightly better. I realize that it will not be played all that often, and I wanted a unit that I liked. I think it looks better, is still killable, and it is still something that would not be able to be ignored on the board.

I cannot wait for this model to come in, I really want to build it, paint it, and field it. And while rules say I can just add it to the Army, I will not be doing so. I will ask my opponent if he minds facing it, and if they accept, then I will put it on the table. And maybe one day I will buy the Barbed Hierodule. I am, after all, a Tyranid player, and I have to have all of the units possible, even if they almost never see the battlefield (I am looking at you Maleceptor).

Warhammer Fantasy Hidden Gems: Part 2

The following is a by a legionnaire known as Julius the Austere; Guardian of the Battle.  This is part of a series he is doing on hidden gems within Warhammer Fantasy.  Severus out.

First off, sorry for the hiatus! Welcome to the second installment of the hardly anticipated hidden gem series for Warhammer Fantasy! So the gem of an option we are going to talk about today is the Tomb Banshee, available in an Undead Legion or just regular VC list. Oh, yeah. I said Banshee! 

So why do people not take Banshees that often? Well, they are a tad below 100 points so they are not exactly cheap and they generally get compared to the Terrorgheist who has a much more powerful version of the same special attack. I’m okay with this comparison as although they are quite different they serve a similar role of dealing with high armor saves. However, I look at Banshees in a different light and they have become a valuable tool in my lists. Now, unlike my take on the sisters of slaughter, the theoretical principles and role for my Banshees for has transitioned from theory to actual performance in games and I couldn’t be more impressed. I have been including 2 to 3 banshees in all of my recent lists (3 if not taking a terrorgheist). 

So, lets start with some of the principle benefits of including banshees: 

1) To clear chaff. Vampires Counts do not have a lot at their disposal to deal with enemy units that will chaff up the blocks that you want to get in to combat (this can be mitigated by UL). Cue the banshees. Bye-bye skinks! Bye fast cav who thought they were safe dancing around out of line of sight for charges! 2 or 3 banshee screams will get the job done on with good reliability on these types of units that stray from their generals leadership but are a general nuisance to an army that has to move forward to win.  

2) To put an ethereal, terror causing model in units.  Being able to deploy in any infantry unit and move in and out of units as needed is a huge plus for Banshees. On the edge of a bus they will take away a file of enemy attacks. As a terror causing model they will force leadership checks when you charge and cause fear causing units that are not ITP to take fear checks. There are more of these kinds of units in the game than you would think and they usually have low leadership! Also, if you are in the unfortunate position of having less than 5 rank and file in a unit with characters it is very helpful to allocate hits from BS based shooting to an ethereal model first. Similarly, if hit by a template, taking a hit on the banshee will save a rank and file model. 

3) They keep their points. Unlike the Terrorgheist, which often will fall victim to artillery or poison shooting, Banshees rarely ever give up their points. Like, almost never! Of course, if the enemy does not have magic missiles or magical shooting then your banshees are pretty much free to roam anywhere doing as they please. But even if your opponent has some of these tools, it is exceedingly hard to kill an ethereal character that is protected in a unit. Even if by chance someone does get in to your unit with a magic weapon, you probably have your enemy where you want them – in combat with your killy vampire or stuck on a unit of zombies or skeletons they won’t be able to chew through any time soon while your other screamers circle and make their attack into combat. 

4) Vampire lists (and UL) only really have a few options to deal with high armor. The Banshee is certainly the one that suits my playstyle the most. By having 2 or 3 of these screams per turn you will eventually do major damage due to the variability of the dice. Some turns you will do nothing and some turns you will do something amazing. Other turns you will just chip away at your enemy units. But over the course of the game, you will do something that will likely at least earn their points back (high armored units and monsters are not that cheap) while you preserve your own. 

Below are my Banshee Results from games in a team tournament this past weekend where I pitted UL (or vamps with a Casket of souls) alongside a friends Eternity King force. For reference, I took 2 banshees in my 1500 point force. 

Game 1 – vs. Pure Dark Elf and warriors of chaos lists. Banshee deployed in skeleton block killed a warlock or 2 before the unit got a 17 inch charge on a slaneesh marked chariot, screaming it into oblivion and subsequently panicking a chimera off the table. That had to be at least 300 points! My other banshee was out harassing a Deamon prince of Nurgle that my casket and Terrorgheist ended up dealing with before it could sling purple sun down our flanks and annihilate everything not elf.  

Game 2 – vs. pure woodelves and pure darkelvesBanshees did not do too much here. Might have killed a Wildwood Ranger or so.  

Game 3 – vs. empire and brets 1+ armor save army. They netted a steam tank! As I engaged the steam tank with spirit hosts (who also had 1 heck of a run over the 3 games) I had rounds of screaming with both banshees. First round both banshees did nothing as I rolled low on my dice. 2nd round I rolled an 11 followed by boxcars. The variability of the dice! Bye-bye steam tank. 

Notes and conclusion:  

My friend and I had a very strong showing (1st place, 3 large victories) at the 5 team tournament thanks to our balanced attack that combined the shooting of elves with the chaff and bodies that I could bring. The banshees were a big part of our success and I never even lost the points for one of them in all 3 games. The Terrorgheist and spirit hosts were also big performers on the day with the Terrorgheist only dying in 1 of 3 games. Still, I was most impressed with what my banshees did by getting significantly more than their points in 2 of 3 games and keeping their points in all 3. I think their versatility makes them a good choice in a Vampire/UL army and a lot more solid than the bad rap they tend to get. I think they are useable in casual and competitive play. Of course there is the counter argument that I was lucky on the day, but don’t forget that I did nothing to that steam tank initially. If I would have rolled perfectly average every time I would have still killed the stank in the 2 turns it was engaged with spirit hosts, sitting on 8 wounds. So yeah, don’t sleep on banshees! They can be effective. 

Now, if you got to the end of this article, go get the nearest person to pat you on the back. You have done well my friend. 

The Austere one, over and out!