Sunday, 25 September 2016

Homebrew: Slaanesh Daemonkin

Having finally managed to get some play-testing in, my Slaanesh Daemonkin homebrew Codex is ready for prime-time! You can find it at the link there, or in the side-bar.

Rather than clutter up the rules with it, I'll take a moment to talk about the design philosophy and basically how it works here. Obviously, what we're going for here is 'Khorne Daemonkin, but Slaanesh' and the available unit roster reflects that. (The TL/DR version is 'everything in Khorne Daemonkin, but the Slaanesh version') That leads to some omissions, like Chosen, Havoks and most of the tanks, but I was very wary of trying to 'fix' Daemonkin by adding lots of stuff they don't usually get. In particular, Daemons don't get access to Rewards, which hurts quite a bit but was necessary for consistency. As with KDK you get the upside of being able to affect mortal units with Loci.

The core mechanic, as in KDK, is a tithe counter, which in this case is referred to as Excess. Since Slaanesh Daemons can use psykers and therefore have access to Summoning, it was important to make it a little harder for them to gain points, especially since the cap is at six, as opposed to eight. Slaanesh Daemonkin gain points through excitement and emotion, rather than from pure slaughter- in general, if you can pass Leadership tests or make your opponent fail, you gain points. This leads to some interesting decisions- wiping out a unit with shooting gets you nothing, but breaking it does, and losing combat can sometimes gain you a point where winning wouldn't.

So what can we do with Excess points? As with KDK, the first half of the table is buffs, and the latter half is summons. Due to the lack of space, there's a bit more flexibility in some of the summons than in KDK- the 6 result gets you either a Keeper or a Daemon Prince, with upgrades, for example. Since at present there's no way to get more than one result, there can be some tough decisions to make there.

I've also added a few Artefacts. One of them, the Song of Fears Remembered, helps get around Fearless enemies which otherwise would cause a bit of an issue, whilst the other two are just quite interesting and potentially useful.

Anyway, have a look, give it a try, let me know what you think!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Figure review- new Mantis Warriors

Having finally got a camera that actually works again, and the time to do it, let's take a look at the latest iteration of Raging Heroes' 'Mantis Warriors', or as Slaanesh players call them 'Daemonettes that aren't quite as good as the old Juan Diaz ones but knock the current GW ones into a cocked hat'.

You could possibly consider that the review in a nutshell, but the main point of this is to highlight how this new version of the model compares to the older ones which make up most of my own Slaanesh Daemon army. Let's start with the sprue and material.

Here's one of the models still on the sprue. You might be thinking 'wow, he actually thought to take a picture before getting started for once' - well, there's a reason for that. I've talked before about how Trollcast is aptly named from a painter's point of view, since whilst it's light and strong and reacts well to glue, it's an utter git to prepare for painting. Raging Heroes have updated their preparation guidelines, and step #1 is basically 'do nothing for a week'. Apparently there are gases actually inside the model from the mould release process, so they recommend that the models be unpacked and then left to stand for 5-7 days.

I had a lot of time to take that picture, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, once that time is elapsed, the model should be cleaned with de-greasing soap and warm water, rinsed, dried with a paper towel, and then 'for best results' you should do it again. They also recommend that spray primer be applied in several very thin coats to make sure it sticks. This was all very annoying for someone like me who generally has less patience than Dr Satan De'ath, but credit where it's due, it worked.

The sprue itself requires some care. As you can see, several of the parts have a lot of points of connection both to the sprue, and to each other, so care must be taken when cutting not to over stress any of the parts- they will bend, but they can and will snap. I managed to break one claw in the ten models I built, but fortunately as I've said before Trollcast glues very well, and the repair has held despite a small point of contact.

Comparison to the old model
Here's a handy little comparison pic:

In case you need to be told, the newer model is on the left as you look at the picture. It's not immediately obvious. Just to clarify, the metal model on the right has had a weapon swap (with a Witch Elf, I think) to reflect the Etherblade upgrade, since these are both leader models- the leader head has bigger horns and no hair.

As you can see, the resin model is a little bulkier, though not much taller. The detail in general is sharper, and the big claws also have interesting little sub-claws at the back that make it look like the Daemon still has some ability to grasp things. The claws in general are larger, longer and more detailed, and both arms are poseable, as opposed to the original where only one is. The other very noticeable change is that the newer model is wearing panties of some sort- whilst I'm sure someone on the internet will be able to have a frothing fit about censorship here, I think the real reason is to give more flexibility to the ball-and-socket join at the waist, which isn't present on the original since it's one piece.

The Six Million Dollar Question
So, are the new models better? In part you can draw your own conclusions- if you really, really hate resin then... actually I can't remember if there was an option to get the new models in metal, so forget that. There's no question in my mind that the sculpt is better, and whilst the resin models are more work to build and prepare they're far, far less prone to falling over and so far, unlike my metal ones not one of them has fallen apart. But overall, in terms of detail, flexibility and quality the new ones are much better.

There are two little caveats to that- one, the larger sized claws and more open poses mean that packing and transporting the newer model is a little more difficult, and two, it doesn't look like Raging Heroes have got around to releasing the new version yet, so unless you were in the Kickstarter this is a tiny bit academic. Be aware that as of time of writing, the Mantis Warriors on their webstore are the old version, even the resin ones.

Finally, here's an old(ish) video bat-rep I did with Craig from Bitzbox in which my older Mantis Warriors see some action, because I like linking it every now and then...

Monday, 5 September 2016

Deathwatch: Talking points

I've had the Deathwatch book a few days now and it seems to me that there's a few things worth talking through, especially in light of the new White Dwarf. I'm not going to do a full blow-by-blow review of the book, just highlight a few points of interest.

Kill Teams
Right off the bat, lets tackle le grande fromage of the Deathwatch book, the Kill Team special rule. When the rules for the team from Overkill were released many players were left scratching their heads at the rule which required the whole team, including a biker and a couple of Jump Packs, to operate as one unit. Well, the Codex proper doubles down on it and its... odd.

The first point is that you can just about avoid using it. You can simply run Deathwatch using a CAD and it'll work fine, barring that your Bikers, Terminators etc won't have any Sergeants, since you only get those in the base Veteran squad. But in order to use the new Black Spear detach-formation (a word I just made up and will never use again) you're going to have to tangle with it. In this month's White Dwarf, the designers state that adding other models to your Veterans grants benefits to make up for the loss of mobility, so lets take a look at that claim.

Firstly, adding Terminators to your Veterans is pretty decent. Since all (up to) five of these bad boys can pack a Terminator heavy weapon and/or the melta-fist you can certainly add a lot of firepower to a Veteran squad with them. Your ten man team could contain four of those new Frag Cannons  (assuming the Blood Angels don't nick them to fit on their Furiosos, who are probably a bit cross about all this) as well as five Assault Cannons, Heavy Flamers or Cyclones and still have six melta-guns in it as well. It's going to cost a lot of points, but anything it gets close to is going to go away. Alternatively, you can just add a couple of Thunderhammer/ Storm Shield guys to tank for the rest of the team, or all sorts of other combinations. You lose the ability to Sweeping Advance and don't fit in a Rhino, but other than that, it's all good.

Adding a Vanguard is also pretty good. Even taking one allows the Kill Team to re-roll charge distances (one or both dice) and ignore Disordered Charges, so if your team is geared up to give the Alien a taste of the Emperor's Holy Boot Leather, it's pretty much a no-brainer. Each Vanguard can also take a melta-bomb, which is potentially very useful. Again, you can't ride in a rhino, big whoop. The only decision then is whether you want more than one Vanguard as insurance to keep those handy abilities.

Bikers are where things go a bit squiffy. The Deathwatch Biker is a solid choice- he has Skilled Rider, access to a teleport homer and melta-bombs, and still gets to use special ammo with his bike Bolters. He can also take a power weapon to replace his close combat weapon, though like most Loyalist bikers he still needs to hold on to his bike with one hand so there's no pistol on offer for that extra attack. The special sauce he brings to a Kill Team is the Split Fire rule, which is... well, there. It certainly could be handy, allowing that one melta-gun to pop a tank whilst the rest of the team does something else, but I'm not convinced it's worth losing the bike's mobility for. It 'feels' odd, too- we can just about understand why the Vanguard makes his squad better at charging, but why does a guy on a bike improve fire discipline?

Working With It
So, the Kill Team rule is something you're going to be dealing with if you want to use the new Codex to full effect. There are some things, straight away, that you can't really do. Appealing as it would be, you can't bulk out Bikes with Vanguards, getting some T5 Wounds and more Attacks on the cheap, because at minimum you're going to have five foot-slogging Veterans complaining about their bunions. Getting over 100 points of Marines killed just to let your assault troops move properly isn't really a good option. If you want that mobility, you're going to need to take those units outside of the Black Spear in a CAD, which means no Kill Team combined squads for you. Fortunately, this can actually work. A basic Black Spear will simply need a Commander, some kind of Kill Team (which could be a single Veteran Squad) and an Auxilary (Dreadnought, Land Raider or wing of Blackstars) and that gives you all your lovely extra Mission Tactics which apply to everyone with the rule, which will work fine for the guys in the CAD. So that frees you up to take a couple of Veteran teams and a leader for boots on the ground, and them some Bikers or Vanguard in your Fast Attack slots. Since the Bikes can have the Teleport Homers, which work with the Sudden Onslaught deep strike that the Black Spear confers, things start to fall into place a bit.

Let's just take a moment to notice that a single Kill Team can have five (or even six) Librarians in it. It's not a Conclave, but still..

In The Air Tonight
The Deathwatch have a bit of an issue with things that fly, especially if you happen to be one of the three people using Death From The Skies. The Blackstar is their only Flyer, and it's an Attack Flyer, meaning it doesn't get Skyfire. The Blackstar Rocket Launcher it can carry does have it, but at S6 AP4 with D6 shots it's not exactly terrifying to the heavier flyers in the game, though it is Twin Linked. As with a lot of alleged anti-aircraft weapons it lacks the AP value to make Hive Tyrants Jink and will need to score a lot of hits to down anything bigger than a Stormtalon. Other than that, you can try snap-shooting Lascannons to make them nervous or go with the Flakk missiles that your Veterans won't be loading into the missile launchers they probably won't be bringing. Of course, the age of Formations means you can always bring in a bunch of other Imperial or even Eldar flyers for top-cover, depending on the size and trim of your beard.

The Gun That Would Not Be
There's always the suspicion with Artefacts that some of them are there solely because the designers like to have about the same number in each book, and a few of them are usually total lemons (though less useful in preventing scurvy). The prize-winner in the Deathwatch goes firmly to the Banebolts of  Eryxia, which are maddening. These are basically AP4 Special Ammo that gains Instant Death if the Wound roll is a 6. Unfortunately, they don't do anything else, so unless your target happens to be dumb enough to be wearing 4+ armour not much is likely to happen. The kicker- the real clue that someone stuck these things in and forgot they existed- is that they have a profile to be used in a Stalker bolter, which since it's a Sniper weapon seems a good choice. Hey, 6, to hit, 6 to Wound, dead enemy Warlord- not bad for the points. (Let's pretend Look Out Sir isn't a thing). The point is, though, that not one single model in the book can take a Stalker and also has access to Artefacts, meaning that profile will never, ever, ever be used. At least, not until the Errata, perhaps.

Just bring a Vindicare for that job, guys.

Rules Lawyer Incoming
Finally, let's look at the piece of kit that's going to be causing an argument at a gaming club or forum near you soon, if it hasn't already, the Beacon Angelis. Now, the headline news with this one is meant to be that once per game, you can teleport a friendly unit of Deathwatch to within 6" of the bearer, even out of combat, and since the Beacon is a super teleport homer, they won't scatter. However, the wording of its homing ability just says 'friendly units do not scatter when they Deep Strike, as long as the first model is placed within 6" of the model with the Beacon'. There's no mention of the guy with the Beacon having to be on the board at the start of the turn, as there is for most such items, so this seems to allow the bearer to come in first and act as a homer for all the other Deep Strikes that turn. Now the obvious argument is whether this was intended or not and that one will go around until the FAQ, which will hopefully be quick in this brave new world of GW, but lets spare a thought for the guy who has to deal with the joker that points out that most abilities that affect everyone around the bearer affect the bearer himself, and since he's always within 6" of himself, he never scatters when he Deep Strikes...

You're welcome for that one. My advice is to point out a rules infraction on another table and then take him out with a single blow from a GURPS sourcebook.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Apotheosis: Babylon

Squad Babylon
I've recently finished Squad Babylon, my Warp Talons for my Emperor's Children 63rd Company, which can be seen above (linked to Deviantart).

To go with them, I've written another short story that follows on from the Company's backstory. This story, which is called Apotheosis: Babylon, can be found either in the side-bar or right here. If you've not read the previous piece then things will make a little more sense if you do. A couple of quick disclaimers- though neither piece is exactly explicit they do touch on a few 'adult' themes and I'm not trying to make any sort of Statement on transgender issues with any of this.

In related news, I've written a draft of a homebrew Codex for Slaanesh Daemonkin. You won't find it on here yet, since I want to playtest it at least a little before I throw it to the wolves, and to avoid legal issues you'll need access to Codex: Chaos Space Marines and Codex: Chaos Daemons to use it when I do. (Also possibly Curse of the Wulfen, depending on how up-to-date your Daemons book is)

Since I finally have a working camera again, things should be a bit more 40k/ AoS flavoured on here than they have been recently, though there will still be other stuff. Work on the second novel of the Thelenic Curriculum continues and I've got a few other little bits and bobs in mind....