Thursday, April 28, 2016

Battle Report! 2k. Salamanders vs. Daemons

After a dry spell of more than a month, I was finally able to get in a game. It wasn't "true" Horus Heresy, as my opponent was playing Chaos Daemons, but I had a fun time.

• • •

Lír Korad surveyed the broken city. It was hard to believe that only twelve hours ago, this was a bustling metropolis, home to more than a million mortals. The buildings were broken and decayed and appeared to have been rearranged. The colonnade and pillared dais decorated with skull-shaped braziers and eight-pointed stars was most certainly not Compliant architecture.

The vox bud in Lír’s ear buzzed. It was his fellow praetor, the Nocturnian called Jor Kul’dor, requesting an update. It had taken all of Lír and Jor’s discipline and dedication to wed their forces together in the tense days after Isstvan; in the end, their shared identity as Salamanders - and shared oath of vengeance against the traitors - saw them through. Lír had taken command of this mission, accompanied by his First Fang breachers, while Jor waited aboard the strike cruiser Dracos Astera, orbiting far overhead.

“The city is dead,” Lír replied. “Casualties appear to be total. Their wounds indicate both conventional and biochemical weapons.”


“Lesions. Necrosis. Rapid-growth tumors. Primus Medicae Her’kan is en-route with samples as we speak.”

Jor’s response was cut off by shouts of alarm from the marines standing around him. Lír looked up, dialing up his modified vision to maxium magnification. It wasn’t as acute or as powerful as a set of binoculars, but it was enough to tell him that a host of creatures were coming over the hill and into the city. They were an impossibly varied crowd: red-furred lupine things that ran on four legs, pink tentacled things that scampered along on two or three, rotten greenish shapes that shambled upright like men, and behind them, giant flies that hovered low to the ground like jetbikes, and two winged shapes circling overhead. At the center was an enormous hulking figure that appeared to be the army’s leader, a monstrous, bloated thing, carrying a rusted slab of iron formed roughly into the shape of the sword.

“Lír? Report!” Jor insisted.

Lír decided to ignore the breach of protocol. “We have enemy contacts.”

“Proceed with caution, brother,” Jor warned. Lír smiled fiercely, burning rage simmering in his heart. He switched off the vox and gave the order to re-embark on the spartan assault tank, already cycling up its engines and weapon matrices.

’Caution’ was not his intention.

• • •


  • Points: 2k
  • Deployment: Search and Destroy
  • Mission: Challenge


Salamanders with:
  • Artificer armor praetor with iron halo, storm shield, and thunder hammer, using the Covenant of Fire
  • 10 breachers with two flamers, sergeant has artificer armor, meltabombs, and a master-crafted combi-flamer, accompanied by an apothecary with artificer armor and a volkite charger
  • 10 tactical marines, sergeant has artificer armor and master-crafted combi-melta, riding in a rhino
  • 1 contemptor-mortis dreadnought with dual assault cannons
  • 10 veteran tactical marines with two missile launchers (equipped with flakk), the sergeant has artificer armor, meltabombs, and a master-crafted combi-melta, riding in a rhino.
  • 10 veteran tactical marines with two heavy flamers, the sergeant has artificer armor, meltabombs, and a master-crafted combi-flamer, riding in a rhino with a heavy flamer
  • 1 spartan assault tank with a heavy flamer, flare shield, and armored ceramite

The defenders of Humanity in all their glory

Daemons of Chaos with:
  • 1 great unclean one
  • 1 winged daemon prince
  • 1 Fateweaver
  • 2 squads of flesh hounds of Khorne
  • 1 squad of plaguebearers
  • 1 squad of plague drones
  • 1 soul grinder

A horde of foul xenos bioforms


My opponent’s Warlord (the great unclean one, of course) rolled a trait which gave him an extra wound; I rolled Void Walker, which I kept even though I wouldn't be able to exploit Deep Strike, because Adamantium Will seemed like an important advantage against Daemons. My opponent also went and deployed first. I did not successfully seize the initiative. My opponent had to roll many psychic powers and Daemonic gifts, and I didn’t bother to record them all.



Turn One

The daemons largely pushed forwards into the ruins, dividing somewhat as they came. While the plaguebearers and great unclean one took the center, the daemon prince, pink horrors, and one of the squads of flesh hounds swung north, while the other squad of flesh hounds and the blight drones swung south. Three units split off from the main body: the soul grinder stepped upstairs in a ruin in my opponents deployment zone for a better angle on my approaching forces and both flying monstrous daemons began swooping. My opponents’ psychic phase was largely ineffective, though he did manage to summon some flamers. His shooting phase was only a little better, with snap-shots from the soul grinder’s cannon glancing one of my rhinos.

I could see what my opponent was trying to do - a fairly standard envelopment maneuver, something he could do because of how thoroughly he outnumbered me. I decided to go for the big win - his warlord - and ran right into his trap. I advanced, rhinos peeling north and south to engage the two arms of his force and keep them from reinforcing his center while my spartan charged directly ahead. Shooting from embarked squads and mounted flamers killed one flesh hound and all of the flamers my opponent had summoned.

VPs: Salamanders 1/Daemons 0

Turn Two

The daemons continued to advance, with the daemon prince landing near the northern group of flesh hounds. Notably, the pink horrors decided to linger behind the large central building where they could provide psychic support and stay out of trouble. My opponents’ psychic phase was, again, pretty ineffective, with Fateweaver failing to use his D-strength witchfire against my dreadnought, a summoning attempt failing as well, and only Cursed Earth getting off to enhance several squads’ invulnerable saves. My opponents’ daemonic shooting was a lot more interesting, with a soul-grinder ordnance shot immobilizing my southern rhino and killing a blight drone thanks to a bad scatter and a snapped fire cannon shot stunning my other rhino. This was also the first of many busy assault phases, as my opponent charged all three of my rhinos with the nearest enemy squads. To the south, my opponent’s flesh hounds failed to charge my immobilized veteran tatical (flame) rhino and lost one of their number for their trouble. The blight drones also charged, successfully, lost another unit to flame Overwatch from the embarked marines, and then failed to finish the rhino off. To the north, plaguebearers charged and glanced to death my other veteran tactical (missile) rhino and flesh hounds charged and destroyed my tactical squad’s rhino. Both squads disembarked.

On my turn, my flamers disembarked and prepared to engage the flesh hounds and plague drones (this, I think, was my first mistake - I should have continued to use the rhino as a bunker for as long as possible - but more on that later). The rest of my infantry held their ground. My spartan, on the other hand, tank shocked its way through a plaguebearer squad in order to get into position to charge the great unclean one next turn. My shooting phase was pretty sad: I killed a couple of flesh hounds and one of the blight drones in the south. To the north, I let the flesh hounds have it with Fury of the Legion from my tactical squad and killed… nobody. My missile squad fired blasts at the plagueberears, who were saved by 2+ cover.

VPs: Salamanders 1/Daemons 0

Turn Three

The daemons closed on in on the exposed marines. Warpfire rages as Fateweaver smites my dreadnought with incredible (ie. D-strength) blasts of energy, almost - but not quite - destroying it, and a blast of phlegm from the daemon prince kills several tactical marines. During the assault phase, there were charges all around. The flesh hounds and daemon prince charge my tactical squad, who hold their ground. The plague bearers assault my veteran tactical squad with missiles and kill the sergeant in a challenge. To the south, flesh hounds and blight drones charge my other veteran tactical squad, the one with flamers. Only my breachers - safe in their spartan - remain unengaged.

This will not end well
This will end a little better, but only a little
In return, the spartan advances slightly, positioning itself to unleash the breachers on the great unclean one. Snap shots from its lascannons wound Fateweaver, who stays in the air. When the assault phase finally comes, my breachers - and warlord - get stuck in with the great unclean one. My tactical squad is swept off the board, my missile veteran squad holds against the plaguebearers, and my flamer veteran squad does well, winning the round and inflicting more losses thanks to Daemonic Instability.

Fully painted is for... somebody else - for now!
VPs: Salamanders 1/Daemons 4

Turn Four

The daemon prince and soul grinder arrange to charge into the central scrum, but will go on to fail their charge rolls. In the psychic phase, Fateweaver finishes off my dreadnought with another D-strength witchfire. The assault phase is now where it’s at: the plaguebearers finally wipe out my missile squad, though the flamer squad holds their own. The central assault goes well for me, with the great unclean one taking three wounds… then recovering them all thanks to snake eyes on the Daemonic Instability roll.

On my turn, my spartan withdraws to get a bead on several targets. With lascannons and flamers, it wounds and removes models from the unengaged daemon prince, plaguebearers, and flesh hounds. The assault phase continues to go my way, with the flame squad hanging on in the south and the great unclean one dropping to two wounds!

VPs: Salamanders 1/Daemons 5

Turn Five

Fateweaver - who stubbornly refuses to become dead - kills my spartan with another D-strength witchfire. The daemon prince and plaguebearers are able to charge into the central combat, in which nothing much happens, in part thanks to a near-miraculous Deny the Witch which prevented the great unclean one from manifesting Warp Speed. To the south, my remaining veterans take out the last plague drone, then turn their attentions to the flesh hounds.

The bigger they are...
VPs: Salamanders 2/Daemons 6

Turn Six

This is the final turn, in which everything happens.

Things start to go pear-shaped during my opponents’ psychic phase, when his great unclean one - now down to a single wound - up and Perils itself to death, denying me a chance at instant victory. The assault phase, on the other hand, is where I start to turn things around. Although I lose my final veteran squad, my breachers finish off the soul-grinder, plaguebearers (including a challenge against the plaguebearer leader thing for a bonus victory point), and the daemon prince.

Fateweaver... I could really get to hate that guy

Then, in my turn, in a final Hail Imperator, they charge the nearby flesh hounds squad - who were never able to get into the central combat due to being blocked by other units, terrain, and vehicles - and wipe them out thanks to Daemonic Instability.

VPs: Salamanders 8/Daemons 7



First of all, if anyone wants to check my math, I suspect that I made a mistake somewhere along the line. At the end of the game, we counted the points up as a seven-seven tie, but as you can see, while writing up this report, it looks like an eight-seven win for the Salamanders.

Either way, it was definitely a fun, close game. I would definitely play with this guy again, as well as with his gorgeously gribbly minis.

Like I said, I think I made three main mistakes:
  1. I should not have disembarked from the immobilized rhino with my veteran tactical heavy flamer squad. They should have continued to use the rhino as a bunker for as long as possible. With another extra turn or two of survival, they might have lived to see the end of the game, which would have earned me another victory point.
  2. I should have kept to the mission in assault phase when my opponent's plaguebearer leader charged my tacs. There was no need to accept that challenge, and refusing to would have saved me another victory point.
  3. I probably shouldn't have withdrawn the spartan to get a better bead on the daemon prince. It didn't really matter in the end, but it would probably have been better to use the spartan to delay my opponent's other units from supporting his great unclean one in the central assault.
Also, I believe that I definitely suffered from not having the right tools for the job. With their army-wide invulnerable saves, things like the meltagun support squad I've built don't really suffice to take on Daemons. I should probably invest in some more volkite

And finally, I'm considering reconsidering my stance on Salamanders and long-range firepower - which is to say, I've generally considered it not worth it. However, I don't think that even with their +1 Strength flamers, Salamanders can actually deplete the enemy enough to avoid being swept when they finally (inevitably) end up in close combat. I think that it's time to invest in some long-range firepower, something that can soften the enemy up, even though most of the best examples of that are static. Maybe a heavy support squad with volkite calivers? I'll have to think about it.

• • •

Lír surveyed the battlefield. With the rotten hulk of flesh that led them dead, the xenos things were in retreat. It was unsatisfying, not to have laid the thing low with his own hammer, but at least it was done. As usual, the XVIIIth had given as good as the received, and the enemy was at least as depleted as they were - if not more so.

Lír gave terse orders: gather the wounded, retrieve gene-seed from the dead, and prepare the wrecked vehicles for salvage. Lír knew that he had many hours of reports and meetings ahead of him. The xenos he had faced today had strongly resembled some of the things he had seen in pic-captures of the battle at Calth...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Forge World Friday is Hungry Like the Wolf

Long Awaited...

After many, many years (and many griping wolf fans) Forge World has finally produced Space Wolf upgrade kits for Horus Heresy. They've got wolfy torsos and wolfy shoulders in mkII, mkIII, and mkIV varieties. If you've been waiting until now to start building your Space Wolf legion, now you can begin... at least from a model perspective! We're still not sure how the Space Wolf rules will actually work, so be careful! Rumor has it that they (like the Thousand Sons) will be very different from the legions we're used to.

I do think it's odd that we don't have any Space Wolf-specific heads... perhaps those are in the works?

In any case, I'm not a Space Wolf player (though back in '99 I almost was...), so my interest is minimal. But if you are a Space Wolf player, I'm happy for you... now go build a legion!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Psychic Innovation!

As everyone knows, the Space Marines are getting new psychic powers. As possibly fewer of you know, Forgeworld's Facebook group has okayed using those powers in Horus Heresy games (for whatever that is worth). Anyway, as I now hold the psychic power cards in my hot little hands, I thought it might be fun to have a look at them.

After all, it's not like Forgeworld can make us use the new powers, so let's have a look at them and decide if we want to.

Discipline the First: Librarius

  • The Emperor's Wrath - 18" 5/3 Assault 1 witchfire with a 3'' blast .
  1. Veil of Time - WC2 blessing that allows the psyker and his entire unit re-roll all failed saving throws.
  2. Fury of the Ancients - WC1 witchfire, a 20" 6/4 beam with Pinning.
  3. Psychic Fortress - WC1 blessing that gives the psyker Fearless and Adamantium Will, as well as creating a 12'' bubble of 4++ invulnerable save against witchfire powers only.
  4. Might of Heroes - WC1 blessing that gives the psyker +2 strength, toughness, initiative, and attacks.
  5. Psychic Scourge - WC1 malediction. Roll 2d6 + psyker level against enemy psyker's 1D6 + psyker level. On a draw or better, enemy loses one wound (no save), if you win by 3 than him he loses a power.
  6. Null Zone - WC2 malediction that targets an enemy unit and reduces its invulnerable save by two (to a minimum of 6++).

This one is a bit disappointing, honestly. I can see how it might be useful in a 40k environment, where enemy psykers are relatively common, but in a Horus Heresy game, a few of it's best powers are likely to be wasted. Psychic Fortress's resistance to witchfire powers (though Fearless is always nice) and Psychic Scourge's anti-psyker abilities aren't very likely to come into play.

Then again, Null Zone is pretty good. Feel No Pain and monstrous creatures are pretty rare (unless you're fighting Mechanicum or something), so most deathstars rely on good invulnerable saves. TK1 also has potential, especially given the number of 2+ save units Salamanders can field (pyroclasts, in addition to terminators and command squads). And if comes to an assault, anything that stops us taking wounds is all to the good.

I'd also grant that Veil of Time is great on pretty much everything, but especially firedrakes. That said, it's only one of six powers, and the rest of them are kind of underwhelming.

That said... I would say that the power is a definite fail, not a win.

However, it is worth keeping in mind in Heresy games... mostly because of how badly TK6 will screw up the deathstars of 3++ firedrake terminators that the Salamanders do rely on to patch up our close combat prowess.

Discipline the Second: Technomancy

Woah, boy... this is one that I already know I'm going to enjoy!

  • Subvert Machine - WC 1 maledicion, 18" range. Randomly select a weapon on an enemy vehicle. You and your opponent roll off; if your opponent wins nothing happens, if you draw the target can only fire snap shots, if you win you take control of said vehicle's weapon for a turn.
  1. Blessing of the Machine - WC1 blessing for one vehicle witihn 24". It now ignores Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned, and gains Power of the Machine Spirit or +1 BS (if the target vehicle that already has PotMS).
  2. Machine Curse - WC1 1/- Assault 3 focused witchfire with Haywire.
  3. Reforge - WC1 blessing for a vehicle only that grants It Will Not Die and either restores one hull point, or repairs either an immobilized or destroyed weapon result.
  4. Warpmetal Armour - WC1 blessing that has different effects depending on the target. For vehicles, it grants +1 armor value to all sides for a turn. For non-vehicle targets, it gives the unit +1 toughness.
  5. Fury of Mars - WC1 for a 18'' 1/- Assault 1 beam with Haywire..
  6. Machine Flense - WC2 focused witchfire, 18" range. Target loses d3 hull points; For each hull point lost, it d6 4/6 Rending hits to a nearby enemy unit.
The primaris is a lot like Cassian Dracos's special power, so if you're inclined towards running the Ebon Drake, you've got a bit of a theme going on. Of course, the fact that it targets a random weapon significantly limits its utility... but not enough to make it worthless, I think. Blessing of the Machine, Reforge, and Warpmetal Armor all help us to keep our vehicles on the table and contributing, which is great given how strongly the Salamanders tend to prefer mechanized lists. The offensive powers, on the other hand, aren't all that bad... against a list with some vehicles in it.

Given that the offensive powers are pretty much wasted if your opponent brings nothing but infantry, and that's a valid playstyle for some legions in Horus Heresy (not to mention the Mechanicum), this discipline loses a lot of value. However, all three of the "defensive" powers are pretty good, and you have the option of building your list around them. Overall, I think that this puts the power firmly in the mid-tier of disciplines

The biggest advantage this discipline has is that its blessings all include a special note that an embarked psyker can use these abilities on the vehicle he's riding in. This is huge, because it re-opens the possibility of a support psyker in mechanized list, an option that's been largely closed since the dawn of 7th edition.

But I do know that I am going to use it a ton. I mean... I've already built a Knight Errant with a jump pack and a servo-arm, intended to run alongside my Imperial Knights... add in a couple of psyker levels with this discipline, and I'm in really good shape.

Discipline the Third: Geokinesis

This one may be my personal winner - the best combination of stuff that tickles my fancy in particular and the strongest powers.

  • Chasm - WC2 malediction, forces a unit in range to take a dangerous terrain test, no armor .
  1. Earth Blood - WC1. Targets a model in 18" of the Psyker. That guy immediately regains d3 wounds, and the target plus his entire unit gain It Will Not Die.
  2. Scorched Earth - WC1 malediction, 24" range. Choose a point in range - it deals a single S5AP4 Ignores Cover hit to each unit within 6". 6'' from the point is now dangerous terrain.
  3. Land Quake - WC1 malediction that affects all enemy units within 18" of caster. They are considered to be in difficult terrain, and cannot run, turbo-boost or flat out.
  4. Phase Form - WC1 blessing, 24". Give the target unit move through cover, and Ignore cover to all weapons. Unit is also able to shoot without line of site; only range matters.
  5. Warp Quake - WC1 24" range, targeting a building or ruin. Buildings get a glancing (1 to 3 on a d6) or penetrating (4 to 6 on a d6) hit, presumably with an AP of -; ruins aren't effected directly, but units inside take d6 6/- hits.
  6. Shifting Worldscape - WC3 24". Move a piece of terrain by 24", including units sitting wholly inside. If a unit is partly inside, it's forcibly "disembarked" and has to take a dangerous terrain test.
To get it out of the way, however, the primaris is crap. Fortunately, you're going to get one or two other powers, and the other powers are golden.

For the Salamanders, you're going to want to try to get Earth Blood, Scorched Earth, Land Quake, and Shifting Worldscape. Earth Blood because it plays to the vaunted Salamanders durability, and is one of very few ways to restore lost Wounds. It's also great for a librarian hanging out with a bunch of two-wound terminator badasses, like... for example... firedrakes! Scorched Earth and Land Quake create phantom dangerous terrain, which will help slow our enemies down and make sure they fail charges - always good when you want to avoid combat. Shifting Worldscape just has so much damn potential, between moving an enemy melee unit further away so you can keep messing with it to moving your own units to safety to moving objectives closer so that your opponent has to come into flamer range to try to grab them.

Phase Form and Warp Quake are... underwhelming. Our best weapons don't have the range to take advantage of Phase Form with any reliability, and with all the melta we can bring, we don't really need World Quake's's help to take down buildings.

And as for myself, I have always really enjoyed being able to mess with the game table.

Disicpline the Last: Fulmination

Summary: another mid-tier discipline with a couple of stand-out powers for Salamanders. The primaris is, obviously, just a really good witchfire, but the discipline does get more interesting from there.

  • Electrosurge - WC1 5/4 Assault 6 witchfire.
  1. Electroshield - WC1, the psyker gains a 3++ invulnerable save.
  2. Electropulse - WC2 9'' nova witchfire 1/- with Haywire
  3. Lightning Arc - WC2 5/4 Assault d6 witchfire that jumps to nearby units on a 4+.
  4. Fists of Lightning - WC1 blessing. The psyker gains +1 strength and +1 attack. For every hit the psyker lands in close combat, enemy units suffer 2 additional 5/- hits.
  5. Magnetokinesis - WC2 blessing. Move target unit within 18'' by 18".
  6. Electrodisplacement - WC2 blessing, 24" range. Swap target friendly unit with the psyker's unit. This power can be used on and by units in combat.

Of these powers, the ones a Salamanders player needs to look out for are Lightning Arc, Fists of Lightning, Magnetokinesis, and Electrodisplacement.

Lightning Arc is the one we need to be afraid of. With our limited mobility on foot, most Salamanders armies seem to like to advance as a body, driving slowly but surely into the heart of the enemy formation and burning them out. Lightning Arc has the ability to punish us for that, with hits that can arc from unit to unit and potentially really fuck us up.

Fists of Lightning, Magnetokinesis, and Electrodisplacement, on the other hand, are great for a Salamanders librarian. Fists of Lightning's extra attack compensates for what you lose by bringing a shield, Magnetokinesis can give some last minute mobility to infantry units, keeping them out of charge range but in flame/melta range. Electrodisplacement can do the same. You thought you were going to get to charge a squishy tactical squad? TOO BAD! CHARGE MY FIREDRAKES INSTEAD, ASSHOLE!

Electroshield and Electropulse are just lackluster for Salamanders. It's already really easy to get a librarian with a 4++ (refractor field + dragonscale shield), so improving that to a 3++ at the risk of a perils... isn't really all that great. And like I wrote above, haywire is too dependent upon your enemy bringing vehicles, which he might not. Keep in mind, however, that we are likely to see Electroshield on a lot of enemy psykers, who can't necessarily get to 4++ as easily as we can.

A Word on Fluff

I want to make sure to talk about this as well. A lot of people seem to like to shove the Salamanders into a corner when it comes to fluff. A fiery corner. While I'm sure the stalwarts of the XVIIIth love it there, there really is a lot more to the Salamanders than fire.

Librarius is probably the hardest to justify... because it's the hardest for anyone to justify in Horus Heresy. A lot of the powers focus on manifesting the will of the Emperor, creating psychic apparitions of mythical shit from your chapter's homeworld, and other such non-Imperial-Truth-compliant nonsense.

On the other hand, all the other powers make perfect sense for Salamanders. Technomancy? Salamanders are excellent smiths, with more master-crafted crap than any other legion. Geokinesis? Nocturne is a volcanic mess; if anyone is good at psychically opening magma-filled rifts, it's Salamanders. Fulmination? Volcanic activity is often accompanied by intense lightning storms.

And So In Summary...

In summary, I'm going to be buying the bits to make a jetbike librarian (and an escort for him) so I can run around wrecking shit with all these awesome powers. I like how support-focused these powers are. Many of these disciplines - even the lightning-shooting one! - seem like they're more focused on having your librarian make interesting things happen rather than just turning your librarian (or his buddy, or his unit) into an unkillable combat beatstick. I like that. While I can still see myself bringing a divination librarian on foot to improve the accuracy of a melta team or a biomancy librarian in terminator armor to hang out with my praetor and keep him super badass, I actually think I'll use these powers much more often than the rulebook powers. They seem a lot more fun.

Especially geomancy and technomancy. And fulmination is... growing on me.

And to be honest, I think it's perfectly fluffy. Nocturne is a volcanic world (geomancy) and Salamanders are craftsmen as well as warrior-mystics (technomancy). As for fulmination, well... lightning storms frequently accompany volcanic eruptions - see above.

Most importantly, I don't think these powers are all that broken. Do they have the potential to shift the game? Yes. Are any of them Invisibility-tier stupid? No. Even the most powerful of these powers is circumstantial at best. If you want GEOTK6 to change the course of the game, you're going to have to set yourself up for it. That's fine - if you work for it, you should get it. As opposed to invisibility, where all the "work" you have to do is roll a 6 and then put your librarian in your terminator squad. Done.

What do you think? Will you be using these powers in Horus Heresy games?


I wanted to take a look at the new powers and compare them to the old powers to answer the question of whether or not the new powers really are more supporty.

Of the old powers (going to skip daemonology for now because Salamanders can't take malfic and who the hell wants to put up with the santic?)...
  • Biomancy is 3/7 blessings, 1/7 curse, and 3/7 fists.
  • Divination is 6/7 blessings and 1/7 curse.
  • Pyromancy is 2/7 blessings and 5/7 fists.
  • Telekinesis is 2/7 blessings, 1/7 curses, and 4/7 fists.
  • Telepathy is 2/7 blessings, 3/7 curses, 1/7 fist, and 1/7 broken-ass bullshit.

Of the new ones...
  • Fulmination is 4/7 blessings and 3/7 fists.
  • Librarius is 2/7 blessings, 1/7 curse, and 4/7 fists.
  • Geokinesis is 2/7 blessings, 2/7 curses, 2/7 fists, and 1/7 not sure what the hell that is.
  • Technomancy is 3/7 blessings, 1/7 curse, and 3/7 fists.
To my surprise, the proportions are almost identical. The rulebook powers are have, on average 4 blessings, 1 curse, and 3 fists (with rounding). The new powers average to 3 blessings, 1 curse, and 3 fists.

I think the difference may be in how interesting the new support powers are. Of the blessings in the rulebook powers, most of them are librarian-only combat buffs (Iron Arm, Warp Speed, Fiery Form), with the exception of Divination, which is full of unit buffs. The new powers seem to be a lot more unit buffs and interesting utility powers.

Or maybe I'm just a dork for powers that let me move units around the field in unusual ways.

If the Flesh is Weak, Why Do You Use Skulls in EVERYTHING?

::+..[] TARGET ACQUIRED ;:++-[
Do you like John Blanche? How about H.R. Giger?

Do you like skulls, skeletons, and corpses?

What are your feelings about robots?

If you are interested in any of those things, you should really check out this thread by H30k's Redjack. Serious fucking nightmare fuel, exquisitely converted and painted, with a vibrant martian sand basing scheme that really makes the dark models pop.

Go. Read. Comment. Tell 'em that LegionXVIII sent you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Phoenix Rises

The seal of the 993rd Regiment of the Imperialis Auxilia - the Firebirds

I've been waffling back and forth about starting a Solar Auxilia army, and I have finally decided to jump on in. This is going to be strictly a side project - and, more often than not, allies for my Salamanders or Salamanders + Iron Hands Shattered Legion themed force - but you can expect to see some work in progress posts sooner than you might think. I've got a trio of leman russ tanks to start converting up, and I'll probably paint them as test models for my color scheme.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to post some of my regiment's background material... check it out!

• • •

The 993rd Regiment of the Solar Auxilia - Cognomen: Firebirds - were founded under unusual circumstances. The core of the regiment came from the Garuda Compact, a caravan of void-nomads brought into compliance seventy years before Istvaan. In exchange for technological assistance, trade contracts, and a planet to settle, the Compact agreed to contribute both manpower and void ships to the founding of an auxilia regiment. Although technically not hailing from a world of the Segmentum Solar, the technological aptitude and discipline of the Garuda Compact meant that the scant equipment and training usually afforded to a regiment of the Auxilia Imperialis would be inappropriate. Instead, the Firebirds, as the regiment became known, was granted access to the same equipment as the elite solar regiments, making them an honorary part of the Solar Auxilia (for other examples of regiments granted similar honors, see the Astera Strix, the Green Dragons, and the REDACTED).

The Firebirds served with distinction in the decades before the Great Crusade came crashing to an end. They fought alongside many other regiments, including the 9th Saturnyne Rams, the 905th Ash Scorpions, and the 147th Head-Hunters. They also had the honor of serving alongside the Legiones Astartes on several occasions, including the Ultramarines, the Sons of Horus, the Word Bearers, the Raven Guard, and the Salamanders.

When the Heresy began and the ruinstorm descended upon the Empire, the 993rd Firebirds were divided. A significant portion of the regiment had been seconded to the support a detachment of Salamanders, and were stranded alongside them in the Nomos Rift. Other portions of the regiment were spit out of the Empyrean in the region of Baal. Small detachments were scattered throughout the galaxy.

Before the war ended, most of the Firebirds were able to unite and drive a dagger into the side of the Arch-Traitor's approaching fleet... but at great cost.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Casters of the Pod

As promised, it's time for me to introduce you to a few of my favorite Horus Heresy podcasts. Without any further ado, I enthusiastically recommend...

And in case you don't want to just take my word for it, let's take them one at a time and I'll tell you what's cool about them.

The Adeptus Terra

These two guys are great to listen to, and play off each other in really entertaining ways. Although like some of the others, this is technically a Warhammer 40k podcast, they have been spending more and more of their time lately on Horus Heresy content, which isn't really surprising, the way this branch of the hobby seems to take over peoples' lives. In any case, like the other Warhammer 40k podcasts I link to, these guys have got the right attitude about the game and are dedicated to enjoying it for what it's good at rather than griping about the ways it's bad. Their production values are also top notch, making this a very easy podcast to be immersed in.

The Age of Darkness Podcast

Full disclosure - as of the writing of this post, I haven't finished their back catalogue, so it's possible that at some point in my future and their past, they begin to suck. Assuming that isn't the case, the Age of Darkness Podcast is definitely a fun listen for anyone who's into Horus Heresy. These dudes are so Canadian it hurts. Them being mean about Roboute Guilliman sounds like the New Yorkers I grew up with being nice about anyone. They're also a pair of clever and dedicated gamers with a positive attitude.

The only thing to watch out for is that almost every episode ends with a "book club" segment. If you're far behind in the series - like I am - you'll have to skip that part to avoid spoilers. However, I recommend sticking around for the brief audio fiction! Every book club segment begins with the hosts reading a part of the text out loud, and they're really quite good at it!

The Eye of Horus

Fully painted is for who? CLOSERS!

These guys have rapidly become one of my favorite podcasts, period, and I listen to a lot of podcasts. Their cheerful, positive, and profane commentary on Horus Heresy is endlessly entertaining.

The Imperial Truth

Possibly the most serious podcast of the bunch, the main host has been rising through the ranks of the hobby to the point that he's actually throwing his own events. Nevertheless, the podcast has a good balance of taking the game seriously and understanding it for what it is.

The Independent Characters

The podcast that started it all. Well, for me. I didn't listen to any of these losers until after Carl quit and I was suddenly down to zero 40k podcasts. I'm almost glad for the interregnum, because it gave me a chance to broaden my horizons. Carl is unfailingly enthusiastic, positive, and fun to listen to, and I'm overjoyed that he chose to return to us.

Masters of the Forge

Another 40k podcast that's got some Heresy content, this one definitely epitomizes the virtue of making the game your own. These guys, frankly, love to make shit up, and they're really good at it. I hope they fall deeper into the orbit of the Heresy and continue to invent characters, missions, and campaign for 30k.

The Overlords

Although this one was originally a 40k podcast, it's been overtaken by Heresy content to the point that it seems nearly 50/50, at least. These guys are also a lot of fun to listen to, complete with addled banter and ridiculous jingles. Their positivity and insight are unmatched.

Seize the Initiative

These guys are often a little more game focused and a little less narrative focused than I would like, personally... but hey, who doesn't like to win games? And it's not like they're WAAC assholes - it's just that they spend more time talking about how to win games and a little less on the story or hobby aspects. That said, I still enjoy them. They're a bit irregular at present, but they're also a young podcast, so we'll have to see what happens.

• • •

That's all I got for now. I hope you check out some of the podcasts I've recommended, and if there are any good ones I've missed drop me a line in the comments and let me know!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sacraments of Strife

To much "Rite," not enough "War"

The Good

Rites of War are one of the coolest things about Warhammer 30k. I found a lot about the game charming - the models, the setting, the community, the greater degree of game balance - but more than anything else about the rules, it was Rites of War that sold me.

For anyone who managed to wander into this post without knowing much about Horus Heresy... what's a Rite of War?

In Warhammer 40k, most relatively "healthy" codices can be played in a number of ways. Astra Militarum, for example, can do waves of infantry on foot, elite commandos in transports, a flying circus with tons of flyers, or as a static gunline protecting artillery.

Until very recently, however, nothing in the codex served as a guide or support for any particular style of play. It was a matter of picking which options did the things you wanted your army to do. Formations and specific detachment styles can do a lot to bridge this gap now, but they are finicky and often poorly balanced. Rites of War, on the other hand, represent the pinnacle of this game design technology - a set of overlays that can radically alter the way your army works.

Every Rite of War gives you the following:

  1. extra list-building options, usually by moving units between Force Org categories or granting new upgrade options.
  2. at least one in-game advantage, varying from the minor and flavorful to the significant and valuable.
  3. a list of limitations
To take a Rite of War, you need to have a model with the Master of the Legion special rule. All praetors have this rule, as do all primarchs and many special characters. Two consuls - the delegatus and the herald - are also Masters of the Legion, and are the only Masters of the Legion you can take in a list under 1k.

Let's look at one example Rite of War in detail so we can talk about the rest of them a little more in the abstract.

The original Salamanders legion-specific Rite of War: the Covenant of Fire.
  • List Options: Pyroclasts become non-compulsory Troops options.
  • In-Game Advantages: Vehicles gain a 5++ invulnerable save vs. melta, flamer, plasma, and volkite weapons, multi-meltas, meltaguns, and inferno pistols (including those on vehicles) gain Master Crafted, and all units gain Move Through Cover.
  • Limitations: No model may deploy via Deep Strike, # of Troops ≥ # of Fast Attack + # of Heavy Support, no Fortifications, and only one consul (not including legion champions).
Reading this list, it's pretty easy to see what Covenant of Fire brings. Your Salamanders - already a brave, durable force with extra-strength flamers - now get even more reliable melta weapons and even more durable vehicles. In other words, your Salamanders get even more Salamander-y.

Without any further ado, here are a few of my personal favorite Rites of War:

Orbital Assault

I used to pooh-pooh this one because so many of the models you need to run it are incompatible with the Covenant of Fire. I have quickly learned that this is absurd and dumb. Orbital assault is a lot of fun. It's especially effective for Salamanders, because you already own so many models with meltaguns, and while meltaguns don't get any particular boost in Orbital Assault, not a lot beats a meltagun in a drop pod. While +1 Strength flamers in drop pods might not be quite as impressive as Master Crafted melta, it's still not at all bad against an enemy footslogging list. Against an enemy with vehicles, it still makes it almost a sure thing that you will get to objectives first, forcing your opponent to come to you... which means he's exactly where you want him!

More importantly, the idea of Salamanders diving into hell, taking up positions and daring the enemy to come and get it. More than any other legion, the Salamanders are nigh-fearless stalwarts who HOLD THE LINE! Orbital assault exemplifies this aggression and is a hell of a lot of fun.

Pride of the Legion

This one sometimes gets talked about as though it were the be-all, end-all of Rites of War, and I think that's a mistake that many new players make. It's understandable, though - 40k's familiar tactical squads are basically 30k's veteran tactical squads, and who doesn't want terminators as Troops choices? Additionally, Pride of the Legion is one of the only Rite of War that the Betrayal at Calth set sets you up to play with immediately. All that said, there's a lot to love in this Rite of War: lots of special weapons, lots of terminators, opportunities for more dreadnoughts.

Armored Breakthrough

I can't play this one, yet. Most of us can't. I mean, it's a Rite that makes squads of predators with autocannons into compulsory Troops and Sicarans into Elites - how many of us own too many of those? Still, if I should ever own enough of the required models, you bet your butt that I'm going to give this one a whirl! I don't care if it doesn't offer much to a Salamanders player, most of our advantages (other than +1 Strength flamers).

Fury of the Ancients

Contemptor dreadnought Troops. Awwwww yiss! Seriously, this Rite of War is probably terrible. However, I think it will be a ton of fun. I can't wait to throw down a ton of dreadnoughts and a big beefy squad of firedrakes with a terminator techmarine and primus medicae and watch my opponent freak out.

Zone Mortalis Strike Force

Learn this Rite, love it, and use it. For Zone Mortalis games, it's an incredibly good choice. Breachers with 5++ and 4++ saves? Deep striking terminators? Downsides that are almost completely irrelevant in Zone Mortalis games? This one is great. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that outside of Pride of the Legion and some legion-specific Rites, you shouldn't really bother with other Rites when you're playing Zone Mortalis. Unless you really hate breachers or something.

Legion-Specific Rites of War

In addition to the generic Rites of War - which include my favorites, described above, and many others - every legion has two unique Rites of War. I'm not going to go over all of them, because first of all, this is a Salamanders blog, and second of all, that would be boring and dumb. I am going to recommend that if you're not a Salamanders player, you should check out some generic 30k-focused blog, forum (B&C and H30k are both excellent communities, in my humble opinion), or podcast (expect to see links to a few of my favorite podcasts some time soon).

In any case, the legion-specific Rites of War are awesome, flavorful, and do a lot to leave you feeling like you are playing your legion, not just a bunch of Space Marines painted green (or blue, black, red, etc.).

The Bad

Of course, every silver lining has its cloud. Rites of War introduce two main challenges into the life of any Heresy gamer.

First, the trouble is that some Rites of War are just... bad. Now, I don't know a lot of people who play this game because they want to win all the time. If you want to play hardcore competitive games, I recommend sticking to a game that's designed to support that kind of play, like Infinity or - for all its flaws - Warmachine and Hordes. Or you could join the sad, frustrated folks who keep on trying to comp 40k within an inch of its life. Anyway, nobody likes to lose all the time, and nothing is more frustrating than buying a bunch of minis so you can play around with a new Rite of War only to discover that it's sub-optimal in every possible way. More importantly, some Rites - like the Fury of the Ancients rite I mentioned above - are awesome enough that nobody cares if they aren't very good.

For example, let's have a look at the second, newer Salamanders Rite of War - the Awakening Fire.

  • List Options: None
  • In-Game Advantages: Salamanders units gain Fear, if a dice roll determines that the game ends the Salamanders player may always opt to play one more turn, Salamanders librarians can trade the pyromancy primaris power for a new power "Fury of the Salamanders"
  • Limitations: The army must contain a Chaplain, no more than one unit each of jet-bikes, jump infantry, skimmers, and flyers, no Vulkan, no allies or fortifications.
This Rite of War is just... well, it's completely lame. Fear isn't a great advantage because even though nobody in Horus Heresy has And They Shall Know No Fear and Fearless is rare, Astartes still have high leadership scores. Mechanicum armies have decent leadership scores, too, as do the Solar Auxilia. The only army that's actually all that likely to fail a Morale test is the Imperial Militia, and let's face it, most Militia armies are going to be organized around their poor leadership, either by using one of the many tools they have to boost their leadership or by focusing on tanks and artillery.

It's not that Fear is necessarily a bad rule. It sounds like a lot of fun. Salamanders are scary! Neat! The trouble is, you're only going to ever have any fun with that rule when it comes into play, and the dice and stats are strongly against that.

The psychic power is neat. It's a Strength 5 AP 1 beam that forces Morale tests with a penalty based on the number of casualties. Definitely cool, but extremely difficult to set up. You've got to have the right angle to get as many of your opponents' guys under the beam as possible, and then you've got to kill enough guys to bring your opponent's Leadership down to the point that they're going to fail the test. Assuming Leadership 9 (which is what most Astartes squads have), you've got to do at least three or four wounds. If your opponent spaces his dudes out with any intelligence, you're screwed. It's not going to happen.

Again, the trouble isn't that the idea behind it is bad. It's that the application is poor.

There are a lot of ways to fix this Rite of War, so maybe it'll get FAQed into usefulness. If the Fear was a special snowflake Fear that came with a Leadership penalty, for example, if the psychic power was a flame template or Assault 1d3+3 or something rather than a beam (or keep it a beam, but give it the Deflagrate special rule or some other way to generate more hits after the initial hits, or be super generous and give us both). But it has the problem that the things that make it awesome aren't likely to ever work, whereas the limitations are enough to make list building challenging.

See how I managed to sneak in a review of the two Salamanders Rites of War? Damn, I'm good!

The second problem can be summed up with an imaginary quote that I was quipped was the official motto of Horus Heresy:

"You can use all these awesome models, but you can't use them all at once"

Just looking at the Rites of War I've mentioned by name, we've got one that bans Deep Strike entirely, another that requires you to own enough drop pods to put everything in them, and another that requires you to own a ton of tanks and transports. And that's just the beginning! There are entire Rites of War dedicated to jump packs and jetbikes, recon squads, and land raiders. It gets even worse if your legion of choice is known for a particularly unusual way of making war, like the White Scars or Dark Angels and their thing about bikes or the Blood Angels and their whole jump pack thing. In that case, your legion-specific Rites of War are probably also pretty specific.

In other words, you're probably going to end up making some buying decisions based entirely on which Rites of War you plan to play... and while it's cool that Rites of War open up new vistas of tactical opportunity and tabletop awesomeness, if you want to use more than one or two Rites, there's a good chance that's going to get really expensive.

Then again, nobody ever said Horus Heresy was for the faint of heart. Just, you know... hang in there, and remember that you don't need to buy your army all at once!

The Awesome

That does it for our coverage of Rites of War. Stay tuned for an (eventual) post about my favorite Heresy podcasts. Also! I bought some data cards, so expect some new and improved pictures of my growing army!

Forgeworld Friday: New Tease

This is probably old news to a lot of you, but this week the Forgeworld bulletin included this awesome tease:

The Iron Circle, Perturabo's elite cyborg bodyguard, is on its way to an Iron Warriors player near you!

I'm not an Iron Warriors player, myself, so I couldn't really care less... but hey. Cool models! Happy fellow gamers! Awesome robots to smash the shit out of with my awesome hammers and blast with my awesome artillery! Life is good.

Forgeworld Friday the First

It's just another Forgeworld Friday... (oh oh oh)
Yeah, this is my day (oh oh)
To spend more mon-ey (oh oh oh)

All of us who are involved in this absurd hobby have some experience with Forgeworld. I thought it might be fun to start a series of posts about my personal experiences with Forgeworld. Unlike Workbench Wednesdays, I don't think I've got enough material to make Forgeworld Friday a weekly thing... though you never know. Between my stories, posts where I shamefully admit to having made yet another order and tell my faithful reader(s) what I'm getting, pics of arriving packages, and the occasional product review or post about a new release or tease or leak, maybe I'll have enough material to do a Forgeworld Friday every week, or most weeks?

We'll all find out together.

For now, I want to write about the very first box I ever got from Forgeworld...

It was back in 2014. I had just survived a terrible year at an awful school, and I'd run so far away that I'd actually ended up getting ready to work in a different district. I decided that it was time to treat myself, so I dipped a little bit into some investments my grandfather had left me and made my first Forgeworld order.

Well, actually, it was my second. But my first - a couple of tetras, back when I still played Tau - was so long ago that I can barely remember the circumstances, and I was so spooked by the shipping that I actually had them shipped to a friend of mine who was living in the UK and then waited until the holidays so she could deliver them to me by hand... ah, I am both entertained and ashamed by my own innocence.

Anyway, my first Forgeworld order that I can actually remember, for an army I actually still play, of models that I actually still own, consisted of a contemptor dreadnought and two close combat arms, a legion glaive, and some Inquisitorial brass etch. The contemptor dreadnought is still one of the models I'm most proud of. The glaive got as far as having the turret painted and the main body... mostly painted before I decided that I actually wanted to play 30k, stripped it all down, and started it up again in green instead of red. The brass etch... well, it's been useful, but I think that only a single model with any of that brass etch attached to it has ever been finished.

Ah... that's life in the hobby for you!

From those early experiences, I learned that Forgeworld's shipping was actually quite reasonable and not nearly as slow as I'd feared. I also got bit by the resin bug - my Knights of Blood contemptor is still the pride and joy of that army. Most importantly, having lost my Forgeworld virginity, I realized that placing an order with the big FW wasn't really anything to be afraid of.

And then, a little more than a year later... I started playing Horus Heresy. It's been down (up?) hill from there!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dusk Raider's Word Bearers

DuskRaiderXIV is a gentleman on the Heresy 30k forums who I have gradually become quite fond of. He's smart, well-spoken, level-headed, and dedicated to everything I enjoy about the Horus Heresy: balls-out gameplay, love of the source material, and beautifully painted models.

This thread is where DuskRaiderXIV is gathering his foray into the Word Bearers (or, as I like to call them, Bird Wearers or Tattooed Space Jerks). I'm not generally fond of the Word Bearers. In part this is because I already have a red army (one of my 40k armies is Knights of Blood, a mostly red Blood Angels successor). In part, it's because I'm not really comfortable with Warhammer's thing about religion, where almost all faith is represented as fascistic, hypocritical, and overzealous. I mean, it's not a dealbreaker for me, but it's not really my thing either.

But DuskRaiderXIV makes it look good to be bad. His Word Bearers are gribbly, bloody, and plain old mean. His guys are completely nuts, with mutations and corpses tied to the tops of their dreadnoughts and all sorts of amazing, totally fucking metal add-ons.

If you like to follow WIP threads, go follow this one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brother From Another Workbench

The world of blogging in sometimes very, very weird. This particular bit of weirdness came about because I am a total flake, and I actually forgot my own blog's URL. I was on another machine and I hadn't added my new Salamanders-focused account to Chrome, and blah blah blah blah blah. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I wandered across this excellent blog.

Check it out! It's my blog, but older and prettier and written by a dude living in the Southwest UK rather than the Southwest US...

I should really meet this guy someday.

Anyway, if you follow me, you should follow this guy as well. His stuff is pretty awesome.

Introducing... Workbench Wednesday

This is something I did for a while back on Tumblr. I'm going to post a picture of my painting table, as messy as it is, and say a little bit about the visible works in progress. If you'd like to play along, start doing the same thing on Wednesdays and drop me a link in the comments. On Thursday I'll make a post of all the Workbench Wednesday posts I'm made aware of, and we can all oogle each others' progress.

Without further ado: my first Workbench Wednesday!

My actual workbench
Let's see... what's visible here. Center right are my almost-finished melta support squad and center left are my built-but-not-primed breachers. To the left, you can also just barely make out the beginnings of my Iron Hands survivors. There's the kitbashed quad mortar, its crew, and some terminators, including a forgelord with conversion beamer. Just in front of the breachers, you can probably also make out my other forgelord, this one Salamanders, with  grav gun.

And of course, in the background, underneath the little lid of watch parts (for the Iron Hands) is my eternal, uncompleted glaive... I've got to get that thing finished one of these days. Once I'm no longer focusing on getting infantry done for my upcoming zone mortalis campaign, I'll start getting some tanks done.

And, as a bonus, here's my to-strip bin:

Wooo! Take it ALL OFF!
I'm not quite ready to add the toxic chemicals, because I'm waiting for two more russes (and potentially two manticores to convert into basilisks/medusas) for my burgeoning Solar Auxilia army (you'll hear more about them in a post to come). But as you can see, my motor pool is growing! I can't wait to get this sicaran on the table - it's going to look great in green!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Selling Shit

You know what I regret?


Don't get me wrong, at the very beginning, the game looked awesome. I mean, what's not to love? It's got a great steampunk/dungeonpunk aesthetic, huge stompy robots, and the game is dripping with awesome wizard characters. Warmachine (and its sister game, Hordes) has the distinction of being pretty much the only game where the better I got at it, the less I liked it.

Why? Honestly, it was that far too much of the game was seated in list-building. It's not a matter of how you play - it's a matter of whether or not you get off the combo in your list. Assuming that nobody makes an error, the "best" (or rock-to-scissors) combo will win.

And that's about it.

So, I've been getting out of Warmachine, gradually, and (this is why this is apropos of this hobby) hopefully turning it into more Horus Heresy resin. When I want to get rid of an army, where do I go?

Bartertown is a great resource for trading and selling, with an integrated reputation system to make sure that a potential trading partner is on the up-and-up. I have bought, sold, and traded quite a lot on Bartertown, and I love it. The only problem with Bartertown is that the system that prevents spam is wildly out of step with the rate at which shit actually happens there. If your thread doesn't get any attention within 24 to 48 hours, it's not going to happen. However, the website makes you wait a full week before you can post again with, say, a reduced price. This can sometimes really, really suck when you are (like I am) impatient.

My second favorite place to go to get rid of shit is The Barter Bucket. It's a Facebook group, so you'll have to join, but the real name and face (ish) nature of Facebook makes it a pretty comfortable place to buy and sell. I don't know anyone who's gotten screwed on the Barter Bucket. For some reason, I've encountered more flakes on the Barter Bucket than anywhere else, but that's just a little bit frustrating rather than being a dealbreaker. Nobody has ever flaked on paying me, so it's all good in the end.

Finally, the elephant in the room is eBay. Goddamnit, but I fucking hate eBay. I have only once sold anything on eBay, and not for a satisfactory price. More often, the shit I'm trying to sell just fucking sits there, mocking me. If you've had more luck with eBay, I'm extremely eager to hear your thoughts.

All of this is particularly relevant for me because I'm trying to sell my fucking Khador army so I can get more resin. So if Warmachine is - for some reason - your jam, drop me a line and let's see if we can make a deal.

Monday, April 11, 2016


I'd like to apologize for the text issues in the previous post. I've been noodling with it for almost twenty minutes, and I cannot for the fucking life of me figure out how to unfuck it, so I'm going to leave it the way it is. At least the fucking thing is readable now.

If any of my elder brothers of blogging have any advice on preventing this bullshit, I'd appreciate it. I know I'm not a professional, but I'd like my posts not to look like utter shit.

Fucking fuck...

Heavyweight Champions

What's better than big?

Super big.

One of the things that's most awesome about Warhammer 30k is the proliferation of Lords of War. While it's now true that Warhammer 40k armies can also take Lords of War, thanks to Escalation being folded into the basic rules set, the way rules and points work in Horus Heresy makes it even easier. Games tend to run larger, and larger games can be played in less time.

On the other hand, this has led to a number of players struggling to figure out which superheavy to invest in, as this thread over on H30k can attest to. I figured while I'm not exactly an old hand, I've certainly read the rules enough that I can opine freely.

Of course, which giant badass creature you've got access to depends on which army you're playing. Lets take them on in an entirely arbitrary order.

Note: I'm not going to go into the mechanicus knights right now, because they're weird and complicated and I don't feel like it. If you want to write them up as a guest post, drop me a line, and I'd be happy to have you join me.

Auxilia and Militia Superheavies

The Solar Auxilia has access to all the Imperial Guard superheavies that we know and love: the baneblade, stormlord, shadowsword, stormsword, stormblade, and stormhammer. Militia lists can only take baneblades and stormhammers. Interestingly, the legions can also take stormblades, so Astartes players shouldn't neglect this section entirely.

What do these vehicles - sometimes referred to as the "baneblade chassis" family - have in common?
  • BS 3 (even the legion one, though it can be upgraded to a Space Marine crew, which gives it BS 4) 
  • 14/13/12 armor. 
  • 9 or 10 hull points 
  • Most of them have the options to add one or two sponsons with a lascannon and a heavy bolter (or heavy flamer) apiece. 
  • Options to mount a hunter-killer missile. 
  • Options to get armored ceramite (immunity to melta). 
  • Options to become a command tank. 
  • Various pintle-mounted weapons. 

The real meat of the variation between these badasses is in their weaponry.

The baneblade is a bit of a jack-of-all trades. It's got a baneblade cannon, which is your standard huge blast high strength low AP deathgun, a demolisher cannon, an autocannon, and a couple of heavy bolters. At the same time, with the autocannon and between two and four lascannons, it can also reliably pop vehicles of all kinds, in all directions. If you just want to throw giant pie plates of destruction at extreme range (or slightly smaller, slightly stronger pie plates at close range, if anyone manages to get close to you), this is the guy you want.

The stormhammer is very similar to its cousin - so similar, in fact, that if 40k wasn't quite as bloated a game as it is, I doubt it would even exist. The stormhammer is a bit more focused than the baneblade. It's main gun is a little better (slightly smaller blast, slightly shorter range, but adds both Shred and Pinning), has a two-shot battle cannon instead of a demolisher cannon, has a single lascannon instead of a single heavy bolter, and has a butt-ton of multi-lasers coming out of its sponsons and turrets. However, unlike the baneblade, it can't take any lascannon/heavy bolter sponsons. In other words, at the end of the day, the stormhammer trades a large number of high quality guns for a larger number of okay guns, with a similar but slightly superior main gun. The baneblade is good at wading into the middle of an enemy formation and blasting out in all directions; the stormhammer is better at focusing on one chunk of the enemy at a time, preferably at range.

Now, I have to admit to having a special soft spot for the stormlord. In fact, I'm probably going to start a Solar Auxilia army just to field one of these assholes. The stormlord's main weapon is the balls-out absurd vulkan mega-bolter. While it doesn't have the strength or AP value of the baneblade or stormhammer cannons, it's got a ton of shots (Heavy 15!) with decent stats for killing, say, marines (Strength 6, AP 3) and it can fire that gun twice if it doesn't move. And that's not all! This motherfucker can also carry up to 40 infantry models, who can belong to any number of different squads. 20 of these guys can shoot out of the troop bay in the back, adding to the vehicle's firepower. As if that wasn't stupid enough, the infantry can also deploy as though the Stormlord were open-topped (this may or may not allow them to assault - here's a thread arguing about it - we're hoping that Forgeworld or GW will clarify this matter soon). If you're looking for a superheavy that will support your infantry (by literally carrying them around), acting as a force multiplier and doing more to help you score, this is the guy you want.

Another fan favorite is the shadowsword. This guy is pretty basic for a baneblade-chassis vehicle, except that instead of a turret bristling with guns, it's got a single volcano cannon, which is you standard ranged D weapon. If you want to reach out and give your opponent the D from far away, you want a shadowsword. What the shadowsword gains in a game-breaking monster gun it loses in flexibility. It's got no other impressive guns to speak of, and the volcano cannon is hull-mounted, so it can't swivel to engage multiple opponents the way the baneblade, stormhammer, or even stormlord can.

Similar, but slightly less impressive overall, is the stormsword. Instead of a volcano cannon, it's got a stormsword siege cannon, which is a huge, strong pie plate of death that Ignores Cover. Arguably more reliable, since its blast is larger, the stormsword's weapon is still conventional, not D.

If you really, really like plasma, you want to check out the stormblade. It's another specialized, focused, single-direction gun platform with a huge-ass plasma cannon that can fire either two slightly weaker blasts or one stronger big giant blast. I haven't got a lot to say about this one. It's a little more versatile than most of the single-focus, hull-mounted monsters of the family, because the gun has multiple firing modes, which is nice.

If you're in the market for a banebladey tank, it really depends on what you want. Do you want a multi-purpose deathdealer? You probably want a baneblade or a stormhammer. Do you love infantry and really just want a bigger transport that will end up carrying like half your army? Stormlord. Do you really just one a big giant amazeballs gun? Invest in a shadowsword, stormsword, or stormblade, depending on whether you'd rather bring the D, a gun that's just kind of really good, or something plasma-themed.

Legion Heavy Tanks

These guys are built on the same chassis as the spartan, but are super-heavies (instead of just being really-heavies, I guess) because of their big giant guns. Forgeworld keeps them balanced by giving them another hull point - bringing them to 6 - but that still leaves them more fragile than most super-heavies. Fortunately, these guys are priced and organized to match - they're among the cheapest and it's possible to cram more than one of them into a single slot.

Like the spartan they're based on, they're well armored (14/14/14 on the typhon, 14/14/13 on the cerberus), BS 4, and can mount various pintle weapons and take armored ceramite. Unlike the spartan, their sponson weapons are optional and they can chose between heavy bolters and lascannons. Like most superheavies, they're really distinguished by their guns, though they've also got some additional perks that help them to excel in their chosen roles.

The cerberus heavy tank destroyer is - as its name indicates - a dedicated tank destroyer. Its neutron laser battery has excellent range, fires between one and three Strength 10 AP 1 shots, and has the added benefit of causing anyone who takes a penetrating hit to fire snap shots for a turn - even superheavies! On the other hand, it's got weakened rear armor, explodes even worse than your typical superheavy when it dies, and sometimes takes damage if its weird-ass neutron laser fails to wound or penetrate. So, this is clearly a tank designed to hang out in your backfield and shoot shit dead.

The typhon, on the other hand, has the all-around armor of a spartan and, while it will explode when it dies, it doesn't do so with any unusual strength. It has the added benefit of getting +1 on the thunderblitz table when it rams or tank shocks, which gives you the impression that it's meant to charge directly into the middle of enemy formations and blow shit up. The dreadhammer siege cannon mounted on the front supports this implication, being a massive cover-ignoring high strength blast that suffers from shortened range as long as the tank is moving.

If you're looking for a "pocket superheavy" that you can field in smaller games (1500 to 2000 points - small for Heresy) and scale up simply by adding more tanks of the same category, these guys might be right for you. As far as which one you want, the choice is pretty clear. If the rest of your army is long range and shooty, you probably want a cerberus. If your army is close range and/or assaulty, you probably want a typhon.

Malcador Tanks

In 40k, malcador tanks are odd ducks. In 30k, however, they fit right in with all the other odd shit that's running around. Named after the only guy ballsy enough to call the Emperor on His shit, Malcador tanks are another class of pocket superheavies. Also, they're fast. Really fast. Not just Fast tanks - faster than that.

Like the Auxilia and Milita stormblade described above, the malcadors have crossover appeal. Space Marines can take malcador assault tanks, as can the Auxilia and Militia (though the cheeky mortal assholes call them "heavy tanks," can take them as Heavy Support options, and have a couple of different options).

For the Astartes, malcador tanks are in the same class as the typhon and cerberus described above, and can be taken as part of the same multiple-superheavy Lord of War choice. It's a Fast superheavy with BS 3, 13/13/12 armor, and 6 HP. It's got a battle cannon (can be traded for a twin-linked lascannon) and an autocannon (can be upgraded to a demolisher cannon) and a pair of heavy stubber sponsons (can be upgraded to a variety of non-shitty weapons, from heavy bolters up to lascannons) and has some pintle options. You can make up for the weak-ish armor with a flare shield. Like the legion version of the stormblade, you can replace the human crew with Space Marines to give it BS 4.

What makes the malcador special, other than its cheapness, is its incredible speed. In addition to being Fast, it can move Flat Out and also fire its lascannon or battle cannon at full BS (but not the other weapons) before or after the Flat Out move. This is, theoretically, incredible. You can do a number of things with this tank, including rocketing up the field to engage the enemy directly, flanking maneuvers, or even dashing forward, firing, and then dodging back behind cover.

In fact, this thing is so awesome that I'm kind of considering getting one... and until I started writing this section, I'd dismissed the malcador entirely. Now I'm thinking I can get one for my Salamanders, paint it in Auxilia colors (since even in a legion list, it's meant to be a tank seconded to the Astartes from the Auxilia), and use it with both my Salamanders and my Auxilia, when I start them...

Legion Fell-Tanks

The fell-tanks - or, more properly, the "fellblade chassis" family of tanks - are the Legion answer to the baneblade. Like the tanks we've discussed so far, these dudes are mostly differentiated by their guns. What they have in common is:
  • BS 3, upgradeable to 4 (except the glaive, which starts at 4). 
  • 14/13/12 armor. 
  • 12 hull points. 
  • Sponson-mounted quad lascannons (which can be traded for twin-linked laser destroyers). 
  • Options to mount a hunter-killer missile, take armored ceramite, and add various pintle weapons. 
The falchion is basically a space marine shadowsword. It's main gun - hull mounted for reduced versatility - is a twin-linked volcano cannon. Like the shadowsword, this is for giving your opponent the D at range.

The fellblade, on the other hand - the original of its class, which is why they're all named after it - is pretty much a space marine baneblade. It's got a turret-mounted cannon that can chose between huge blasts of anti-infantry shrapnel and smaller blasts from armor piercing shells. Like the baneblade, it's a versatile tank intended to fill a wide variety of roles, depending on what you need.

And finally, you've got my personal favorite (I own one) - the glaive. The glaive's turret-mounted gun is basically the biggest and baddest volkite weapon in the game: 48'' range, automatically hits everything in a line with a Strength 8 AP 2 hit that ignores cover, Deflagrates, and has Haywire. Also, if it penetrates a transport it hits the guys inside with d6 somewhat weakened hits. And if it hits a superheavy or building, the beam stops and turns into 1+d3 hits. The glaive is an army-killer, not a super-heavy dueler, though its beam's ability to score multiple hits means that it can harass true superheavy and seriously threaten "pocket" superheavies like the malcador, typhon, and cerberus.

Like the other varies-by-gun superheavies described above, if you're trying to decide which of these you want, the choice is pretty clear. For D to hunt titans, you want the falchion. For all-purpose death-dealing, you want the fellblade. For weird-ass rules and wiping out swathes of your opponents' army, you want the glaive.

    Legion Thunderhawk

    For a long time, thunderhawks were the only space marine superheavy, so the community at large is pretty familiar with them.

    Thunderhawks come in two varieties: the gunship and the transporter. Like most subvariants, they have a lot in common, including...
    • BS 4.
    • 12/12/10 armor (can be upgraded to 12/12/12).
    • Armored ceramite.
    • Four twin-linked heavy bolters.
    • Options to add a variety of special flyer upgrades.
    • Hellstrike missiles: the gunship has six standard, whereas the transporter can buy up to six.
    The transporter is, frankly, stupid. It can carry fifteen models in its main hold as well as either a single land raider or two rhinos. As a result, despite being a "transporter" it can only carry a total of twenty-five models. Additionally, it can't do any of the neat tricks that the gunship can do with its transport capacity, like transporting jump infantry, bikes, and dreadnoughts. This means that it's actually less good at transporting than a a gunship. The only possible exception would be if your battle plan relies on carrying land raider or rhino style vehicles, not actual transports. That seems to me like a corner case of a corner case.

    The gunship, on the other hand, is awesome. In addition to its thirty model capacity, ability to carry bikes, jump infantry, and dreadnoughts, heavy bolters, missiles, and a pair of lascannons, the gunship can mount either a thunderhawk cannon - basically a huge blast battle cannon - or a D-strength turbolaser. And if you feel like it, you can trade your missiles for heavy bombs.

    The thunderhawk is a beast.



    Titans are another classic of Warhammer.The hugest and stompiest of a game full of huge stompy robots. They're available to space marine and Mechanicum armies, of course, because they technically represent a completely separate faction, the Legio Titatnicus, a largely independent subfaction of the Mechanicum (because, seriously, are you going to try to boss these motherfuckers around?).

    These badasses have a number of complicated rules in common, including going completely nuclear when they explode and a number of different limitations and advantages based on their size. They've also got a number of void shields, which are AV 12 force fields that have to be glanced or penetrated to drop them and may regenerate.

    Titans are extremely customizable, which is awesome. They come in three basic varieties, based on size, which can be further individualized by different weapon combinations.

    Your smallest titans are your warhounds, who are Strength 10, 14/13/12 9 HP robots with two void shields. They have a pair of hardpoints for arms and can mount a vulcan mega-bolter, a double-barreled turbo laser destructor, a titan plasma blastgun, or a warhound inferno gun. Your mid-sized titans are called reavers, who are 14/14/13 and have four void shields and 18 HPs. They have three hardpoints, one on each arm and one on the top of its carapace. The arms can take reaver gatling blasters, reaver laser blasters, reaver volcano cannons, reaver melta cannons, reaver power fists, or reaver chainfists, while the carapace can take an apocalypse missile launcher, turbo laser destructor, warhound inferno gun, vulcan mega-bolter, or a vortex support missile. And then, finally, you have the biggest, baddest, stompiest motherfucker currently available: the warlord. This asshole of a walker is Strength D, has 15/15/14 armor, 30 HPs and six void shields. It's got the same number of hardpoints as the reaver - two on the arms and one on the carapace - but its weapon options are even better. The arms can take bellicosa pattern volcano cannons, sunfury plasma annihilators, saturnyne lascutters, arioch titan power claws, or macro gatling blasters, while the carapace can take two apocalypse missile launchers, two double-barrled turbo-laser destructors, two twin-linked vulcan mega bolters, two reaver laser blasters, two reaver melta cannons, two vortex missile banks, or two incinerator missile banks. And as if that wasn't enough, it's got two ardex-defensor bolt cannons to the front and two ardex-defensor lascannons to the rear (these are guns that can fire Overwatch at BS 2, even though superheavy walkers normally can't fire Overwatch at all).

    Phew. I think I need a cold shower.

    Let's take these weapons on one at a time, shall we?
    • Vulcan Mega-Bolter - Same as the one on the stormlord, except that it doesn't get to shoot twice while stationary (that's a special ability of the stormlord, not the gun). That is to say it's Heavy 15 6/3. Any titan with one or two of these is going to be great at shredding infantry, with enough shots to seriously threaten vehicles up to AV 12, which it can easily glance to death.
    • Turbo-Laser Destructor -The turbo-laser destructor is your standard two-shot large blast D weapon. Give 'em the D.
    • Titan Plasma Blastgun - A versatile two-mode giant plasma gun that can shoot two massive blasts or one slightly stronger enormous blast.
    • Warhound Inferno Gun - A hellstorm template monster of a flamer with a marine-killing Strength 7 and AP 3. Not to be fucked with.
    • Reaver Gatling Blaster - Six shots, large blast, Pinning, marine-slaughtering Strength 8 and AP 3. Definitely a solid choice.
    • Reaver Laser Blaster - In order to compete with the "mere" double-barreled turbo-laser destructor mounted on a warhound, the reaver has got to have something better. This gun throws out three, not two, large blasts of D.
    • Reaver Volcano Cannon - If you'd rather have one big D than several smaller Ds, the reaver volcano cannon is for you. It's a 7'' D blast.
    • Reaver Melta Cannon - The biggest blast in the set - 10'' - but "only" Strength 10. Oh, and it has Melta. So if you want to use your reaver to fuck up, say, another titan, this may be the one for you.
    • Reaver Power Fist and Chainfist - It's a shame that these weapons aren't all that good, because they are all that awesome looking. The power fist gives your reaver Strength D in close combat; the chainfist gives it Strength D and Machine Destroyer.
    • Apocalypse Missile Launcher - A five-shot apocalyptic barrage weapon, definitely good if you want your titan to be versatile, contributing to the battle all over the board no matter where it goes.
    • Vortex Support Missile - Do you want to shoot a large blast D-strength missile that spawns a mobile black hole that randomly scatters around the battlefield gobbling up whatever it touches? OF COURSE YOU DO. The two vortex support missile banks of the warlord can each do this twice.
    • Bellicosa-Pattern Volcano Cannon - This is the warlord's answer to the reaver's measly volcano cannon, with a 10'' D blast that also has Machine Destroyer.
    • Sunfury Plasma Annihilator - A 4-shot apocalyptic barrage, Strength 9, that forces its targets to reroll successful cover saves. Better hope you're wearing something with an invulnerable save.
    • Saturnyne Lascutter - A versatile weapon that can mess you up in close combat or at range. The former is Strength D, Machine Destroyer, and the latter is a Strength 9 hellstorm template; both iterations have Instant Death.
    • Arioch Power Claw - If you're a warlord titan, you've already got Strength D. This giant claw gives you +1 attack and confers Machine Destroyer.
    • Macro-Gatling Blaster - Do you think that the reaver's gatling blaster doesn't go far enough? Then you'll like this one. It's the same, only Strength 10.
    • Incinerator Missile Banks - One of the weakest guns on paper (only Strength 6), this one is actually quite useful. It's a one use, 10-shot apocalyptic barrage that ignores cover. When you want to wipe out everything in one quarter of the board, this is the thing you want
    How do you actually want to gear up a titan? That depends on what you want it to do. If your titan is going to support you by threatening other titans, you want at least one weapon with a high rate of fire and enough strength to threaten AV 12, to drop your target's void shields and another strong weapon - preferably a D-weapon - to actually strip hull points. Titans are big, so your D-weapon should also prioritize number of shots over size of blast.

    For a warhound, that probably means a mega-bolter (with 15 shots, you're actually pretty likely to glance a lot of void shields away) and a turbo-laser destructor. For a reaver, that's probably a reaver gatling blaster, reaver laser blaster, and a turbo-laser destructor. And, for a warlord, you probably want two macro-gatling blasters on your shoulders and a bellicosa-pattern volcano cannon on each arm.

    On the other hand, you might just want to maximize the D. Maybe you trust the rest of your army to take down the void shields, maybe you want your titan to specialize in taking on large vehicular targets without void shields, or maybe you just like the phrase "maximize the D." Either way, if you want to get the largest number of D shots out of your army, this is what you want to do. Your warhound gets a pair of turbo-laser destructors, your reaver gets two laser blasters and a turbo-laser destructor, and a warlord gets a bellicosa-pattern volcano cannon on each arm and a reaver laser blasters on each shoulder.

    If you want your titan to wipe out swathes of infantry - I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea, since lots of things can already do that in Horus Heresy - you want a large number of shots, big blasts, and the ability to ignore the cover that your opponents space-mans will certainly cower in. An anti-infantry warhound is probably going to take a pair of warhound inferno guns. An anti-infantry reaver will also take a warhound inferno gun, on its back, and a pair of gatling blasters for arms. An anti-infantry warlord probably wants incinerator missile banks on its back, a sunfury plasma annihilator on one arm and a saturyne lascutter on the other.

    Alternately, you could equip your titan for melee... this is probably stupid, but definitely awesome. Warhounds need not apply, because that would be just too dumb to contemplate, but a melee reaver with a pair of chainfists, while the carapace may as well take a vortex missile. The warlord is going to take two arioch power claws and a reaver melta-cannon on each shoulder.


    Obviously, I haven't got a lot of experience with these models. What do you think I am, made of money? However, I hope that this post is at least slightly useful to anyone out there with a chunk of change burning a hole in his pocket, trying to decide which super-heavy would be the most fun.

    Me? I'm going to be buying myself a malcador some time soon...

    If you've got anything to add, don't hesitate to put it in the comments!