Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40K Chaos Tournament Lists Aeronatica style

I've been scouring the internet the last three days in anticipation of several larger scale events happening in March that are just around the corner.  I've been taking a look at the different tourney builds people are positing.  One common thread amongst Chaos players is the AirChaos lists.

Essentially the Chaos Space marines can get a ton of flyers in their list (before the new Daemon codex drops of course, but probably after as well).  Here's an example:

255  BloodThirster (Unholy Might)
270  Daemon Prince (Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, Level 2 Sorcerer, Power Armor)

270  Daemon Prince (Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, Level 2 Sorcerer, Power Armor)

170 Heldrake
170 Heldrake

170 Heldrake

70 5 Daemonettes
69 3 Flamers of Tzeentch
160  10 Chaos Space marines (Mark of Slaanesh, 2 meltas)
35 Rhino
160  10 Chaos Space marines (Mark of Slaanesh, 2 meltas)
35 Rhino 160  10 Chaos Space marines (Mark of Slaanesh, 2 meltas)

This friends is the face of how people are attacking 6th edition at some tournaments.  Other versions of this are out there but this is a veritable AIRFORCE, against which no singular Icarus Cannon is going to be able to stand.  I saw several of these circulating in different places.  It can BOTH put another players airforce into the ground AND burninate the village.  Armoured corps type armies seem practically doomed against this army and very obviously the troops of the enemy can be handled.  Imagine half this army on your flank in round 2 and being crushed in melee round 3 from the opposite side.

I am frightened by this list.  It's a spendy, spendy list for sure, money wise, but its not even that small in its KP's at 13!  So while it will never be confused with an MSU army, it's not suffering much in it's ability to be able to give up a unit if it HAS to, to keep burninating you..

I have actually faced the 9 Vindetta list which reminds me of this.  These types of lists are twice as scary now, because 9 Vindettas can fire 81 shots on their own per round and you cna barely touch them.  When you get close, they drop the boom with their DemoVets.  All in all a pretty crazy amount of firepower.

Paying this much to compete is HAPPENING.  GW must be smiling awfuly broadly as this first quarter comes to a close.  We've definitely entered the Aeronatica era.

What do you think of lists like these?

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 23rd Team Tournament Results

I held a team tournament this Saturday and as usual, turnout was great.  This is easily one of our biggest draws as far as participation goes and we play in the cavernous gaming mecca of Olympia Cards and Comics which can almost handle a GT if we really wanted to stretch the imagination a bit.

Anyways, it was fun and I thought I'd give a little props here to the winners.

Kacheni and Dan combined to storm the castle with their Daemons and Necron combination. Together they fought and beat some of the Best Generals on the West Coast to etch their name into the books. Notable is the fact that this is Kacheni's first ever tournament victory! I also think this is the first time the oldest and youngest players in the store have ever combined to win it.

Second Place was Mike and George whose ridiculous firepower from a Vulkan led Space marine and a powerful Chaos force combination allowed them to put a severe hurting on their opponents and though they did not win, they made it to the Top Table. This is the second time in as many tournaments that Mike has been to the Top Table. Georges firepower was just awesome though, sporting Triple Thunderfire Cannons!

Ed and Greg Brought their Beautiful work to the tables also and garnered Best Paint for their Cahos Daemon and Space Wolf combination army.

Our Best Sportsman award goes to two Gents Jeremy and Stephen. they brought two others with them to the party so than kyou to both of you for being great opponents both in victory and defeat. We need more players like that around.

Anyways, great day of gaming, seems like everyone had a good time.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

40K Chaos Space Marines: Cult of Tzeentch

Oh the labyrinthine ways of the Great deceiver have come to you at last.  Everything you see moving forward could change and shift with the twists and turns of the plot.  The tale may be told four times without ever being the same, yet it be the same story.

These are the Ways of Tzeentch.

Why wouldn't you follow?  Provocateurs and harlots, charlatans and men of letters alike all have one thing in common:  they want to know what Tzeentch knows, and certainly more than the other guy knows.  They want to be part of the plot, to be bigger than they are, more important than they are, and to be an ever increasingly important part of the story.  Who can tell a tale or spin a yarn better than Tzeentch?  What enemy can outsmart or outwit you when you serve he who is subterfuge incarnate?  Your enemies will serve you unknowingly, your friends will owe you so much without ever realizing.  Before you know it, you become more and more the center of your universe, plucking the strings of all who encounter you, manipulating things such that lies can become reality and reality can become lies.  What manifestation of power could be more corrupting and seductive to the intelligentsia and the cunning?

The Scourged of Chapter Master Gallus Herodicus and others have come to understand that truth, in all its forms, can be a weapon.  Through madness or even through undeath, one can touch mysteries that would be beyond the kin of the mortal flesh.  Were not the very first Chaos Marine Sorcerers of Tzeentch?  Was Magnus the Red not of them?

To whom can you swear fealty and gain truth so seering that it may drive you mad to know it?  Those who serve him have rejected the role of deceived and now prey upon them.  Better to be a predator than the victim.

And so we delve into that well of true knowledge from which no sanity can be hoped for:  the Cult of Tzeentch.

Tzeentch Essentials

Tzeentch has the unholy number of 9.  Tzeentch is really a shooting army like Slaanesh is.  Unlike Slaanesh, the Thousans sons don't abhor close combat as much, as they are unafraid of many weapons that would make a lesser cult shrivel up in terror, inside of combat OR out of it.  They come equipped with a good melee weapon for their squad leader.  They don't benefit as much from vehicles and their potential is drastically reduced if they are in them in the shooting phase, so starting INSIDE of Rhinos might be okay but they really need to get out in turn 1 and be blazing away.  Unlike Slaanesh, Tzeentch warriors push the field far more with their core troops, in a manner reminiscent of Zombies chasing brains more than Khornes mad dash.  Go too fast and the enemy won't be soft enough for the final surge and may resist you.  Go too slow and you may not reach the objectives.  It's a balancing act.

Their LD is 10 with or without their Sorcerer and while you might say "so what, they're Fearless" this matters when getting hit by a number of weapons that use LD instead of Toughness, it matters for the LD check required even of Fearless units against being forced to Snap shot after a penetrating hit on a vehicle.  It also means they oppose Psychic Scream tests well, and they can overcome LD nerfs much easier.  So the 10 does have some real benefits.

Larger units make sense for Tzeentch, and thus will be more costly.  They are not as flexible an army to build if you want a truly devastating version of the cult.  They can be built to give up Kill Points in a very stingy manner.  They score, they kill Marines like crazy and they are tougher than steel.  There isn't much not to like when you look at it, other than a relatively low model count.

The Mark of Tzeentch is where it all begins.  Those who serve him are, like truth, immortal and as such benefit from an invulnerable save bonus of +1.  This means that the warriors of Tzeentch have fortitude that no other Cult can boast against the most nightmarish weapons the Eye of Terror can produce.  The Aura of Dark Glory that Tzeentch surrounds them with creates a net 4+ invul save.  Such protection is nigh impossible to match.  Even Terminators don't have that.

Thousand Son weapons are tremendously dangerous as well.  Inferno Bolts are AP 3 and that makes each and every Tzeentch Warrior quite literally the most durable equal of any normal shooting infantry unit in the game!

They are slow and purposeful, and thus cannot Overwatch nor Sweeping Advance.  In fact it is somewhat helpful in the case of Tzeentch, as it really only comes up when the enemy is losing combat, ensuring that the enemy must run even if they re the wretched Space Marines who must get away and out into the open or off the board!  The units for Tzeentch can now blast away again at the enemy instead of staying locked in melee where the Thousand Sons can do the least amount of good.  So when a charge bounces off them, it will never end well for a Space Marine army!  Just because the Sorcerer has a force weapon does not mean you should go rushing into combat!  It DOES mean that because your champion has the Champion of Chaos rule, he's not going to be a welcome sight for any character to face and Terminator Squads will hate getting tied up by a small unit of these.  Make sure to try and watch the order of fire so you can beef up your Socrcerers with boons.

Force Axe's make sense for Tzeentch since they are much more likely to see the challenge given their saves.  I think they are a good choice for them.  I find it intreresting that each cult really kind of has a weapon that works well for it.  Lances for Slaanesh, Swords for Khorne and of course, the Axe's here.

Key Tools of Tzeentch

Tzeentch features some interesting tools its followers can use other than the Mark of Tzeentch and the Inferno Bolts they fire from their Bolters:
Gift of Mutation is an ability in keeping with the Tzeentch ways.  Since the units pack such incredible firepower, it's actually quite easy for them to take advantge of the Boons table more often perhaps than others do and faster than they do also since they do their damage at range, and can finish very softened units up in challenges and attacks.  I think Tzeentch Sorcerers can really use the boost since their troops do not get as hellacious a number of attacks as say Khorne or Undivided Troops can in close combat and anything that allows you to be better can't be baaaaad, riiiiight?

Icons of Flame imbue the members of the unit with Soulblaze.  As if it weren't enough that they were killing MEQ units with the greatest of ease, they add insult to injury by insuring that they will continue to burn rounds after they've been hit.  This makes them POWERFUL against hordes as well as MEQ's and allows the unit to provide utility in both areas.

The Disk of Tzeentch basically makes a Sorcerer into a Jetbike and adds an attack.  That can really be nice when you consider the bevy of Psychic Powers the Tzeentch Chaos Lords can use!  let's look at those shall we?

The arcane is the province of The Great Deceiver.  Biomancy, Telepathy Pyromancy are all open to Tzeentch as is some combination of them.  KEEP IN MIND the restriction that only half your powers can come from the Discipline of Tzeentch, as with all Cults (rounded up).  So if you want more than one of the powers you gotta' pay for the level 3 upgrade.  You might have done so anyways, but its worth mentioning.  The price of power can be steep.

One of the powers you may get if your normal Thousand Son sorcerers choose from the table is Boon of Mutation.  This is one of the reasons the actual ability Gift of Mutation is good to have, allowing a character to roll on the chart then and there and with Gift you can re-roll the really unfortunate results.  The other Powers are shooting attacks of ranges varying from Template to 24".  All of them are nasty for the most part and it is easy to imagine them being quite good when cast from a secure Disc of Tzeentch, always at maximum distance necessary to maximize the effect. More firepower as if you needed it.  Particularly fun is the STR 8 AP 1 shot that can make an explosion go 2D6 inches!  Breath of Chaos is the Terminator killer though and would likely be the power to shoot for in the Case of the Chaos Lord (its Warp Charge 2, so the normal Thousand Sons Sorcerers can't use it). 

Personally amongst the powers available outside the Tzeentch list, Telepathy looks to be the scariest.  The units really dont need any more shooting abilities, but what Telepathy does to defend the unit or to turn the enemies strength against itself is very Tzeentchy and very welcome for a Tzeentch force that wants to KEEP ON shooting, closing the distance and eventually eliminating threats.  Its pretty cool to take control of the enemy mind.  It's like adding points to your army!

The Scrolls of Magnus are a Tzeentch only item.  It can unlock more powers for you and this, while dangerous, can also be rewarding.  You will have to take an invulnerable save if you use this item.  and as such, Biomancy may look good as an option given you can later try and learn Telepathy powers.  Biomancy has a power that can increase your invulnerable saves, and then when using the Scrolls of Magnus, you have abetter chance of surviving the experience.  On the other hand, a roll or two on the Boons table may make you tough enough to chance it.  In any event, this item gives you instant access to all 6 Psychic disciplines if you dare roll for it.  It's an amazingly cool item with a very uncool downside.  but when the chips are down isn't that when we all turn to the darkest purpose?

Perhaps MORE interesting is that reading from the Scroll can empower the user to become a Psyker when they were not one.  This means that a Dark Apostle, who has purchased this can actually become a Psyker himself! Chaos Lords can use it to become a Psyker with access to melee appropriate disciplines...  Do you hear Tzeentch calling you?

The Burning Brand of Skalathrax is basically a STR 4 version of the Heldrakes Flame weapon.  Again on a disk of Tzeentch, one can easily imagine the possibilities and being able to throw the flame 12" from you means a fairly safe distance for using it.

Warpflame Gargoyles for vehicles, while not explicitly Tzeentch, they really kind of fit..  The Soul blaze ability is kind of their thing.  More's super cheap.

Spell Familiars allow you to hedge your bet by re-rolling your Psycher tests (better now that 7E came along), and while I dont find that to be an exceptional buy, given you have a 10 LD (because before, you rolled LD to get Psyker powers off), I guess it depends on how much you're planning on turning to your powers for victory.  It seems like an expensive option, but I would be remiss if i didn't at least mention it.

So then what does a Tzeentch army look like?  Well it's going to be a LOT of blazing fire in it, that seems certain.

Let's Make a Tzeentch Army

Okay, Troops are always the first order of business.  Since Thousand Sons troops are so hard hitting and hearty, we will start with a larger unit of them.  Why?  Well my guiding principle is, you have some of the most devasatating firepower known to 40K and you should probably use it.  The units are SO expensive that adding the extras multiple times presses in on what is already an exorbitantly expensive unit.

449pts  18 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb, Force Axe)
 45 Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)

272pts  9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb,Force Axe)
45 Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)

 272pts  9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb,Force Axe)
 45 Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)

This core represents a fire base that would really be the envy of any army.  It's also the minimum number of troop choices I'd ever leave home with.

We will Purchase our HQ.  To make the Thousand Sons into actual Troops chocies, the HQ has to be a Sorcerer.  We know we want level 3 Sorcerers.

230pts Sorcerer (Level 3, Disc of Tzeentch, Mark of Tzeentch, Sigil of Corruption, Scrolls of Magnus, meltabomb)

Expensive like everything in the force! Certainly making him more expensive by adding melee ability would be hurting our list as a whole, so his evasive ability and speed will have to be his best defense.

On an unrelated note there is something I noticed that you might take advantage of:  If you so desired for some reason, you could include a second HQ.  If you decided you wanted to do that, the Daemon prince can be both a level 3 Psyker AND ride a Disk of Tzeenth.  None of the downside of Wings.  all of the upside of the jetbike speed!  Sure, no Vector Strikes for being a Flying Monstrous Creature, but you're gaining another attack on a beastly model if it comes to it and you don't have the many restrictions and what not of flying, crashing and all that rot.  This would be a very expensive investment and probably not worth it, but it is fun to think about.  It would have to be your second HQ by virtue of of the fact that to make Thousand Sons into troops, it requires a normal Sorcerer model.

Moving forward, we've spent 1313 Points, and we still have no anti-tank/2+ nor anti-aircraft.

Fortunately Tzeentch has an answer to both, in the same unit.  Heldrakes can tear open transports as they glide over them, and hit them with flame if not actual people (more likely).  Sometimes both.  The Heldrakes are ideal for a Tzeentch army.  Hard to kill, multipurpose, fast, can attack aircraft and ultimately they take pressure off a little bit.  Anything that is near enough to charge can be taken down in size enough to allow the Thousand Sons to finish it. Taking two of the beasts ensures that interceptor fire won't completely ruin your day and defends against bad reserve rolls.  The Dragons can vector strike other aircraft, obviating the need for a dedicated anti-aircraft unit, which frankly, we can scarcely afford in a Thousand Sons army.  It can keep up with and rake the Speeder formations that Dark Angels now like to have also.  This multi-purpose answer gives flexibility in how you can attack the enemy and NO ONE would argue that the Heldrake is anything but fearsome to face.

170pts  Heldrake (Bale Flamer)

170pts  Heldrake (Bale Flamer)

That leaves us with needing an answer to land Raiders, Monoliths and the like and we still need to be able to kill 2+ armor.  We can control Hordes with the icon of Flame and sheer firepower.  We can kill MEQ units.  We can handle flyers as well as a plethora of fast things, but Land Raiders will confound us and allow Terminators to tie us up and end our forward progress.

This problem exists for most lists of any type and the obliterators seem always to be the answer since their Plasma Cannons can handle Terminators also.  The Sorcerers have the chance to get some cool anti-terminator and anti-vehicle powers, and if they do all the better, but that is up to fates fickle hand.

The choice is between 2 man Obliterator Squads and Triple LasPredators in this codex if you want this capability, price wise.  Cult armies are powerful and expensive to build.  Raptors with 2 meltas can also serve in this role, but again tend to be exchange units which I never like.   Cheaper yes, but ultimately you're getting two total shots a game from them if they DO go up against a land Raider.  Chosen cost much more to get four meltas up there.  Helbrutes just aren't swift enough and they are as likely to succumb to the Terminators inside as anything and become exchange units there again.  So I find myself much more compelled by the original two options.

140pts  Triple LasCannon Predator

140pts 2 Obliterators (Mark of Tzeentch)

We have covered all the essential jobs that a list needs to handle, using all the tools that are available to us and in keeping with our Cultish mandate and mantra of flame, flame and more flame.

It's got mobility and when it doesn't need it, it has LOS blockers, plus it is very stout.  Objectives that are way over yonder can be deep struck to by obliterators if necessary. which is all the more reason to have a second option on the board pounding away at armor until they show up if that ever became an absolute necessity.  it isn't a fast army at all, and that is a concern that can only ever be solved by killing enough enemies and so you will need to be very aggressive when you getr the chances to end a unit.  Don't leave remnants here or there that can tie you up at any point.

Tzeentch armies look and feel like a steam roller moving inexorably forward, remorseless and cruel.  Every hammering blow of their Inferno bolters feels like losing for the victim.  Each time you tell your opponent how many Vaporized models to remove from your sight, they will be cursing silently and cringing visibly, praying that the pain will stop.  But it won't.  Ever.  Of the wondrous things your master will teach their maddened souls in death, one of them won't be hope...

To summarize my thoughts on a Tzeentch force:

Triple LasCannon Predator
2 Obliterators (Mark of Tzeentch)
 18 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb,Force Axe)
Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)
 9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb,Force Axe)
Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)
 9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame, Gift of Mutation, Melta Bomb,Force Axe)
Chaos Rhino (Warpflame Gargoyles, Extra Combi Bolter)
 Sorcerer (Level 3, Disc of Tzeentch, Mark of Tzeentch, Sigil of Corruption, Scrolls of Magnus, meltabomb, Force Axe)
Heldrake (Bale Flamer)
Heldrake (Bale Flamer)

As always I will point out that there are a dozen ways to skin the cat so this list isn't the only way to build one. I can also imagine lists where you are sending normal Marked Chaos marines into the fray as well as Chaos Cultists gone wild.  I think this may help you consider what Tzeentch might have to teach you though...

1994 Points
Models: 45
Kill Points: 11
Armour Pieces: 6

For other articles on Chaos Space marines:

Monday, February 18, 2013

40K Chaos Space marine Cults: Slaanesh

We went over Khorne.  Now we move on to Slaanesh, Brought to you by the number 6 and the letter S!

Slaanesh is the flavor of the month it seems.  Most people have caught on to the incredible firepower that is possible in this army and they have certainly inundated Games-Workshop with requests for bits and conversion pieces.

This is a shooting army with a lot of Pinning weapon ability, known for speed and whimsy.  Lets dive in.

The characteristic Mark of Slaanesh is the most obvious advantage of the Cult.  A high initiative means a couple things.  First is, Power Swords actually make a little more sense for Champions.  Many people have come to recognize the economy of Power Axe's for challenges over the Power fist.  The power fist also falls somewhat out of favor because of the combination of Power Sword + Meltabombs that Cults can utilize.  The initiative boost makes a Power weapon very practical for the Aspiring Champions.  Power LANCES may even be the bigger winner from all this.  They become especially attractive.

The Champion of Chaos ability is ESPECIALLY nice for Slaaneshi commanders.  the ability to CHOOSE who accepts their challenge makes their power weapon choice all the more useful.  In some units, there are two or even THREE enemies who can accept the challenge and being able to choose is great with INIT 5 or higher with the Chaos Lords!  Choose the slowest character and whack him or just whack the scariest one by going before him.  A shame that Master Crafting isn't in the Chaos Codex but there's always hatred.

For the units in the Slaanesh force that are going to be assault units, Veterans of the Long War is a worthwhile upgrade.  Points are going to be at a premium in a Slaanesh army.  Any dedicated assault unit should definitely make use of this upgrade because the synergy with the initiative boost is powerful.  It isn't that Hatred is bad for the other Cults obviously, BUT going first with Hatred  is excellent.

The first thing you know you need to look at is the Sonic Blasters and the Blast masters.  Sonic Weaponry ignores cover and the Blast master is pinning.  Just wow.  Already we can see where a large amount of points might be going!  Other Upgrades are also great for Slaanesh:

Slaanesh is all about speed and pushing the limits.  If you plan to use Helbrutes or Defilers in your list, you cannot call yourself a Slaaneshi without the Power Scourge upgrade.  No Slaaneshi would be caught dead going on initiative 1!  Excellent upgrade for them to take.

Dirge Casters, while an all around good choice for most forces, is very Slaaneshi in flavor, disallowing the enemy from Overwatching your incoming unit.  More to the point, the assault portion of the Slaanesh forces will tend to be SMALLER than its Ranged components in general and indeed smaller than MOST Chaos Space marine armies, so any advantage they can gain is important.  They won't have the same strength of arms others do.  When they strike in melee at all it must be with as much speed and manpower as they can muster.

Warpflame Gargoyles are a hilarious way to turn a Rhino Combi-Bolter into an enormously effective weapon!  As Slaanesh is a primarily shooting army, this is an absolute MUST upgrade.  Bolters inflicting Soul Blaze is just awesome.

The Noise Marines use this Icon of Excess to provide their critical units with the ability to power through the most serious of wounds.  It is a very expensive Fee No Pain item, but for less than the cost of two Noise Marines you can and probably will save more than that over time.  This item really is a no brainer on units that are going to be on the defensive or targeted a lot in the early going.

The Steed of Slaanesh is one of the best things in the codex for chaos.  The ability to outflank or scout forward is EXCELLENT, getting +1 Attack is great and being able to run forth +3" is really outstanding for the round he comes in.  He immediately threatens a GREAT radius from the board edges, and whatever unit he brings with him will be happy for the added combat oomph of the Chaos Lord astride it.  While a Combat Familiar isn't strictly speaking a "Slaaneshi" upgrade, it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Slaanesh armies have access to some very powerful Psychic emanations as well.  Symphony of Pain is the force Multiplier to watch out for.  it effectively increases all Sonic weapon strength by one and nerfs the unit you're about to charge all at the same time!  HUGE.  Even if you don't roll that power, the other two 1 Warp Charge powers are EFFECTIVELY setting your assault troops up for success.  One is Concussive and Pinning Witch Fire, while the other ups your stats in combat.  In short the Psykers of Slaanesh can REALLY help a Slaanesh force out, especially one that is troops heavy.  The Warp Charge 2 Power really doesn't seem worth it.  It's not at all clearly written either and could lead to some arguments on how to implement it.  I won't get into why here.

So now that we know what Slaanesh has up its sleeve, let's build a list (I know some of you really like that part!)

While list building, there's a few important rules. First is, minimal units are NOT a problem for Slaanesh like they were for Khorne, as it is primarily a shooting army.  That isn't to say that it can't be otherwise and indeed we will explore melee options for them, but it's clearly not the focus.  We are assuming you want a true Cult army here, so we won't be talking Allies.

All armies pretty much call for three troops choices as their minimum.  Given the ridiculum that is the Sonic Weaponry, this informs our first choices.  Remember that the Unholy number of 6 is the one Slaanesh blesses best! Based on what we discussed so far, this is what your core three Troops choices will look like:

307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
307pts  12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
45pts Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)

As you can see, points are at a premium in a Noise Marine list.  However, those are very sturdy units, pumping out a LOT of firepower and a firebase like that is going to do some damage.

Paying that much for those firebases means we have to both protect them, as well as get them to their objectives.  The Rhinos can be on standby or on patrol ready to support assaults by the Firebase defenders and when inevitable attrition occurs, they can hop in for a ride.  In addition, they can block off lines of sight, allowing the firebases to fire at one target at a time without much return fire.  Think of the Rhinos as a reticle!

Anti-aircraft ability is a must in every list.  As the Icon of Excess largely makes an Aegis Defense Line redundant, I am more inclined to include the havocs once more.  The Icon of Excess is too good not to take on this important unit as well.

217pts 6 havocs (Missile Launchers x 4, Flakk Ammo, Icon of Excess, Mark of Slaanesh)

To make this work, we need to be able to pop people out of their Vehicles.  Obviously we don't want to HAVE to do it with Blast masters as their strong suit is killing people.  Going through the codex, not so oddly and for the same reasons as with Khorne, Predators and Obliterators would seem the obvious choices.  Cheaper than the ForgeFiend for essentially the same tank killing power.  Better armor as well.  UNLIKE with Khorne, we actually DO have the luxury of doing the job with Sonic weaponry if we had to so the need for anti-tank shooting itself is actually lessened a little in second and subsequent rounds.  That opens this up to more possibilities than with Khorne.  The Land Raider killing power is the most important target to be able to handle more so than the other types as far as our "dedicated" anti-tank units go.

So instead of Predators, I'd say Obliterators are the clear choice between the two.  BUT...  Maulerfiends may well be an excellent choice also.  Consider that they give us the tank tearing power we want, the ability to keep the enemy away from us and are not so easy to kill at all.  they are able to move 12", ignoring terrain, so anything that approaches better make sure they are dead first!  This helps Slaanesh control the Battlefield pretty well.

I think a combination of these two would be a decent proposition.  The trouble with two Maulerfiends is that in the first turn you may not be able to open any tanks without using your troops.  If you're concentrating firepower on troop type targets, you need kill fewer armored targets initially if a nasty blocker like the Maulerfiend is around.  It adds to your melee threat profile as well.  The Psykers in the Slaanesh army are quite good at evening the odds for the Maulerfiend before he goes in for the kill.  Lasher Tendrils will serious help it deal with certain units who can hammer it by badly redusing the enemy attacks!  So:

140  2 Obliterators
135 MaulerFiend (Lasher Tendrils)

Obviously we need leaders and we need a melee Hammer to complement and protect the list.  The MaulerFiend can only cover so much ground on its own and obliterators will likely be spending a lot of time on vehicles and fortifications with their Havoc friends. 

Lets look at HQ's next.

A Psyker can really help, though it isn't absolutely 100% necessary.  It will help the Maulerfiend with its Primaris power since Maulerfiends are, after all, Power Fists.  A Psyker is a definite force multiplier for the rest of the army, as I mentioned, for sonic weaponry.  I am always for a synergistic character and the Sorcerer, for Slaanesh, is definitely that.  We need him to be very survivable and not snipe bait for the Colossi, Dark Reapers and other Barrages of the world.  Terminator armor is a REALLY good bargain for the character.

162pts Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armor upgrade, Combi-Flamer, Veteran of the Long War,  Level 3 Sorcerer)

A Chaos Lord on Steed will offer the army a much needed boost in mobility if the mission, terrain or enemy dictates the need.  The army also really needs a melee threat as mentioned to go alongside that of the Maulerfiend.  Again Synergy is nice here and the Chaos Lord can use the Dimensional Key to slow the enemy down!  A shooting army needs to take every step it can take to reduce enemy movement towards the gun line and the Chaos Lord, once he activates the key, becomes a walking Swamp for enemies inside that rather large radius (12" in all directions from a large based model!) and can even slow progress towards objectives just by being close enough.  That radius moves fast with his steed to where it is needed.  The steed and key make for a very tempting combination.

155  Chaos Lord (Mark of Slaanesh, Veteran of the Long War, Steed of Slaanesh, Power Weapon+Pistol, Meltabomb, Sigil of Corruption, Dimensional Key)

That leaves us with enough points for an escort for the Slaanesh on Steed.  We'd prefer a tough one that can provide wounds for the Slaanesh lord before he launches into someone and of course fast enough to keep up with him!  Raptors, Spawn and Bikes are the only real qualifiers.  Amongst them, Bikes and Spawn present the toughest wounds.  With an Icon of Excess, Bikes becomes very tough and provide that benefit to their master, plus the speed of the bikes is a huge asset if you need to steal an objective later.  Spawn offer the same toughness, Cause fear, AND have more wounds, but nowhere near the speed potential nor do they protect their master with Feel No Pain.  Certainly a more potent melee threat though and is easy to argue either way.  I don't think either one would be a bad idea but Bikes will be what I choose for this example.

133pts 4 Chaos Bikes (MeltaGun, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess)

I hope this discussion helps you build your army.  Of course people like what they like and own what they own so not everyone can build THIS list and what fun would it be if we all did.  But this should help illustrate what Slaanesh is about, what's available and a way to think about them.

To summarize my ideas on the Slaanesh list:
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
12 Noise Marines (1 x Blast Master, Icon Of Excess, Aspiring Champion w/ Power Weapon+Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Warp flame Gargoyles, Dirge Caster)
 6 havocs (Missile Launchers x 4, Flakk Ammo, Icon of Excess, Mark of Slaanesh)
2 Obliterators
MaulerFiend (Lasher Tendrils)
Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armor upgrade, Combi-Flamer, Veteran of the Long War,  Level 3) 
Chaos Lord (Mark of Slaanesh, Veteran of the Long War, Steed of Slaanesh, Power Weapon+Pistol, Meltabomb, Sigil of Corruption, Dimensional Key)
4 Chaos Bikes (MeltaGun, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess)

Points: 1998
Kill Points:  12
Armour:  4 Pieces
Other Chaos Space Marine articles:


Friday, February 15, 2013

Sisters of Battle on the Tourney scene.

More and more we are seeing that Sisters of Battle can compete in major tournaments and larger scale local ones.  They still aren't common but they are there.

The Guardian Cup Champion is currently a Sisters of Battle player, one took second place at NOVA, and a large number of local tournies are reported on various forums as having been won by these Sisters of Battle.  My own victories at tourney are mounting up rather rapidly also, which feels good.

What makes them so good?

First off, so few people play them that it is more difficult for opponents to gain experience against them.  Rarity, on its own, grants the strategic value of surprise.  Forum goers and bloggers alike have labelled the codex as lower mid-tier for so long that they bought into it and everyone reading their stuff probably just takes it for granted that it's true.  Yet when faced with the reality of the army and a decent General, the truth is made manifest:  These girls are good.

Another factor contributing to their excellent tournament records is that they are not dependent on any one unit to get the job done.  Armies often rotate around an important central element.  It might be the IG Manticores that are important to the overall strategy or perhaps it is the Chaos Heldrakes in your force; or maybe the LandRaider with tricked out squad inside or maybe its the beastly Trygon Primes.  Whatever that central spearhead may be, it's important to the success or failure of the list.  Sisters of Battle do not HAVE a heavy reliance on any one element to pull them through.  I quite literally used a list with one of everything from the Sisters of Battle Codex to win many games before I decided to start honing in on a "true" tourney list, but this "not true" list was beating people up or even tabling them in a few cases!

Chief amongst the units that I have found to be awesome are the Dominion.  They stand out big time.  Most of the hoopla surrounding the Codex originally revolved around the Rending Heavy Bolter Spam the army could put out there, with some pundits even suggesting that Exorcists had been made irrelevant thanks to the advent of this terrifying prospect.  Common sense has sense set in.  But the Dominion are everything they appear to be on paper, the very definition of an armies spearhead, with flexibility to Scout move or just outflank, they can serve as antitank OR as anti-personell.  They can serve as body shields or even as blockades if you take Kyrinov.  Truly, the unit is worthy of the acollades it gets and any Sisters of Battle that goes without them is missing out.  I don't beleive there are many auto-includes in 40K.  However, these very nearly fit the bill as one.

Sisters Repentia are another surprise performer.  They are positively brutal at their job.  Even a mid-sized unit of them is terrifying to behold when they strike.   As they are Fleet, they don't miss their target very often.  As Ragers, they are pumping out 4 STR 6 Chainfist attacks on the charge.  Kill them first?  no problem.  Their Act of Faith lets them strike one last time before they die, so no matter what you do to them, they are going to get their licks in if they are the ones charging.  As they have Shield of Faith and Feel No Pain, they are a little more doubty than people gave them credit for and it is very frustrating to an enemy to see how many weapon teams they have to expend if they want the Sisters Repentia dead.  Even though you may kill them, you've spent your load on a unit that isn't NECESSARY to win!  The catch-22 nature of that isn't lost on the enemy General but if he doesn't end them he loses tank after tank.

One last thing that occurs to me every time I play them at tourney:  the simplicity of the Codex which was origianlly maligned by so called experts should be recognized for its virtue:  new players can pick this codex up and play it with relative ease!  As a starter army it really ISNT a bad choice if you have the money.  The lists go together easily, the basic tactica for them is something you can pick up readily enough and though you do need to have a stomach for casualties, as they will take many, your indigestion will be somewhat passified by the number of wins you will rack up.  A lot of angst on my part was releived once I started playing the new version of Sisters.  The Allies mechanic fixed what was ailing the codex originally in my mind, but as i have played more games I have come to see that you don't even need the allies really in order to win. 

The Chaos Heldrake as I have mentioned changed the game and Sisters of Battle players are going to need to look to potential allies or just new strategies to cope with that threat.  Already we know that IG are looking extremely good for that.  This is fluffy as it fits the old Inquisition idela.  I think it will be okay with most Sisters of Battler players if they get to use some of their IG toys again.

Normally with starter armies you want to proxy and go cheap on it until you find an army you like.  But if you already know that Nuns with Guns is the army for you, you could do a lot worse.

My next blog will be covering another of the Chaos Marine Cults.  So stay tuned for that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

6th Edition Chaos Space Marine Cults: Khorne

I am going to review the Cults of Chaos for those who have long been waiting for information on them or just wanted my take. I am hoping to fill this with practical advice on what the army would need to answer all the questions that an army should answer.
I'll start by saying that it is surprising how few are gravitating towards the Cult of Khorne in the new Codex. Across the internet you will find some disparate pockets of Khorne resistance but on the whole the Eye of Terror would seem to have swallowed the entire Cult. So I will begin with them.

I am assuming for this conversation that we want an ACTUAL Khornate army.  No allies will be discussed here.

Interestingly, the Mark of Khorne may never be worn by a Psyker (Page 91). This does limit true Khorne armies in its ability to defend itself psychically. The Forces of Khorne simply would have nothing to do with such foolish modes of cowardice.

The hallmarks of a Khorne army are the Icon of Wrath, the Mark of Khorne, the Juggernaut of Khorne, Kharne the Betrayer and the Axe of Blind Fury.

LESS intrinsic but very much in keeping with the spirit of Khorne are the Vehicle Destroyer Blades, Combat Familiars, and the Chain Axe; so being familiar with those things will help you capture the essence of the Khornate army’s armory.

With those things in mind and history as a guide, let's see what we can do and why we should do it.

One virtue the Khorne army has is that it is simple to run. Newer players will find the simplicity of blindly seeking assault range to be a great relief from the micromanaged tactica of some armies like Dark Eldar or Tau. Your goal is to get as close as fast as you can, take up space a little bit and deny the enemy anywhere to run while not leaving yourself open to diversionary tactics or one trick pony armies.

While list building, there's a few important rules. First is, minimal units are a terrible idea for Khornate Berserkers. They need to be built for shooting attrition (as their range will be inferior and their shooting a relatively inconsequential issue).  Maybe more importantly, you want the impact of Kharnes Warlord ability to get a chance to express itself as often as possible as Khorne acts like a Chaplain (Hatred for the entire unit? Oofta!). To this end at least one unit should be larger and preferably the one that Kharne the Betrayer accompanies.  Their Grenades will terrify vehicles while their sheer volume of attacks will suffice to strike fear everywhere else. Also, the Khorne army multi-charges well when needed and it should not be afraid to do so.  They are fearless but fearsome even without all the extra attacks for charging. So the core of the army would look like this before you get too far into it:

160pts Kharne the Betrayer
160Chaos Lord (Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Juggernaut of Khorne, Combat Familiar)
354pts 16 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power weapon + Meltabomb)
202pts 8 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon + Meltabomb)
50pts Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
50pts Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)

Rage, Counter attack and Hatred all on that large Fearless unit is great.  The icon allowing Re-rolling of the charge distance is huge though.  The leaders can rush forth from the unit on the turn they are prepared to charge and easily overpower a majority of units they would take on, leaving their escorts to find their own way if it makes sense to do it. The Chaos Lord and Kharne are both 7 attacks on the charge with AP 2 weapons and the Chaos Lord adds the benefits of 2 more mundane attacks through the Combat Familiar!!! No unit can hope to stand against such ferocity. The enemy’s one chance is to kill them all with shooting by end of round 2 right?

The question of course is, how can Khornate armies cope with being outshot in a world most players think is shooting dominated. Flyers need an answer too. In addition they will need someone to hold rear objectives. So we should add the Cultists necessary to do that. Looking at the codex we see that the best answer is Havocs for both exposing the enemy to open air as well as killing aircraft. So it's time to invest there.

133pts 16 Khorne Cultists (Pistol+CCW, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, 2 x Flamers)
214pts 8 Havocs (Flakk Missile Launchers)

A Havoc squad still only kills one target at a time and sadly they won't scare a Land Raider.  So where can we get some low cost, high reliability anti-Land Raider firepower? Well Predators can pump out more of it for the price than any other unit in the codex. The Triple LasCannon Predators can do the really heavy lifting on Land Raiders, as well as other vehicles, Terminators and the like. For essentially the same price, the Obliterators can do the same thing. To me, this is a tossup. It really is. BECAUSE it is, I say why choose? By getting both, we solve two problems at once. We give ourselves the Raider killing power we need, we get more shots than we would if we went with just Obliterators and perhaps lost in the shuffle is the fact that we don't want the enemy bogging us down with throw away Fearless units which Obliterators can be used to intercept.  The Rhinos will help (briefly) with that problem but ultimately, we need more blockers anyways.

140pts Predator (Triple LasCannons)
148Pts 2 Obliterators (Mark of Khorne)

That puts us up to 1611 points. The screws are starting to tighten on us as far as what we can do from here but most of the major areas of concern are covered at least to an adequate level. I think it becomes far more debatable what to do next.
For my part I recognize that Imperial Guard can be very plasma heavy which could be a serious problem for a Khornate army. Grey Knights are well known for their copious Power Weapons and short range brutal fire power. What the army lacks is an anvil to keep the enemy honest. In addition we have done nothing to affect enemy deployment at all, and I am never a fan of letting the other guy play his own game. I want him to play mine. So how can we both affect his deployment and also give ourselves some answer to the mech'd up VetSpam of IG or the Disintegrator/Splinter Cannon spamming? Certainly more boots on the ground would be a great answer, but which boots? More berserkers won’t keep the enemy honest in how they deploy. So then what? Unfortunately there is no good answer. Chosen no longer are able to outflank and the Mark of Khorne won't let you take a Steed of Slaanesh nor do you have Huron BlackHeart you can use for a Khorne army.
The only answer would seem to be Deep Strikers, flyers or both. You have points enough for TWO Heldrakes (who also serve admirable as anti-aircraft if you desire). Experience has already shown that such a threat is legitimate and brutally effective. If you aren't disposed to adding so much cost to your army (yet) you could consider the Raptors/Warp Talons. As a Khornate army, death from the sky is as good as death from the ground so long as it festoons the Blood Gods throne with the appropriate adornments. En masse. 2+ armor is king in 6E however, and a Terminator unit may well serve best of all as a Deep Striker, as it is hearty and no less scary when given the Mark of Khorne.

340pts 8 Chaos Terminators (Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Champion with Pair of Lightning Claws, 2x Power Fist+Combi-Bolter, 1x PowerSword+Combi-Flamer, 1x Power Sword+Reaper Auto Cannon, 3x Power Sword+Combi-Bolter)
340pts 2 x HelDrakes

Either solution will affect the enemy deployment and movement, and be a legitimate and impressive threat to almost any unit type.  I chose the load out on the unit because you want the unit to be able to bust a rhino and charge the innards.  You also want the unit to be able to crush vehicles in melee as well as kill people.  And you want to whittle the unit down as much as possible, possibly killing the leader with your Lightning claws in a challenge.

So having explained the why part, here is the summary of my thoughts on what the Khorne army might look like in its full glory:

Predator (Triple LasCannons)
2 Obliterators (Mark of Khorne)
8 Havocs (Flakk Missile Launchers)
16 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon, Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
8 Berserkers (Icon of Wrath, Champion w/Power Weapon, Meltabomb)
Chaos Rhino (Destroyer Blades)
16 Khorne Cultists (Pistol+CCW, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, 2 x Flamers)
8 Chaos Terminators (Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Champion with Pair of Lightning Claws, 2x Power Fist+Combi-Bolter, 1x PowerSword+Combi-Flamer, 1x Power Sword+Reaper Auto Cannon, 3x Power Sword+Combi-Bolter)...  OR...  2 Heldrakes
Kharne the Betrayer
Chaos Lord (Mark of Khorne, Axe of Blind Fury, Juggernaut of Khorne, Combat Familiar)

Other Space Marine Articles:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Old School Tau Battle Report

This Battle Report was done in 2005, and was a fun blast from the past.  I had been playing for about a year by this time and this is an example of how I saw the game when I was so new.  Fun to look back at how cinematic the game seemed to me in my minds eye.  I hope you enjoy this.  =)
Round 1
Shas’Vre Unated tapped an armored hoof idly from within the hidden confines of the radar-proof foxhole. The unholy Thousand Sons expeditionary force, fresh from The Eye of Terror, had landed quite some time ago, and was taking quite an interest in the place.
The Aun having expertly laid a series of fighting retreats to lure them deeper into Tau controlled territory, they were now close enough for the Tau XV-8 Stealth Suit battalions behind Unated’s force to crush the Thousand Sons army. The mission now was to keep the enemy in the No Mans Land just long enough for the battalions to move up using their stealth technology. The gamble was great. So close to the main bases of the Tau, these Chaos Warriors would take a monstrous toll on the residents if Unated’s line did not hold. The line was essentially all that stood before the forces of Chaos and a glorious slaughter of innocents, and from what little Unated had heard of this new menace, they were possessed of none of the honor of the Emperors Space Marines.
Unated wouldn’t let that happen. The forces of Chaos had detected the Tau and knew they were around somewhere. The foxhole holo-fields hid their dispositions from view however. Unated couldn’t help but marvel at the works of the Air caste and their inventions.
The trap was set. All across the field were strewn Tank Traps to stop the Mutated Predator Tank that the Thousand Sons had with them and hopefully it would slow down the horrid Dreadnaught that was reportedly with them. Both were decked out in LasCannons, which had prompted Shas’Vre Unated to keep the Hammerhead Gunships and the Devilfish mounted Fire Warrior units in reserve. No sense exposing them until the enemy drew a little closer.
Behind the tank traps were staggered razor wire. All was in preparation. Altogether, three full Bonded Fire Warrior units, their Shas’ui’s and their Gun Drones took up the left and center-left flank, with clear firing lanes downrange.
Devilfish-One moved smoothly into place on the right flank, disgorging the eight Path Finders and their Drones. They took careful aim with their Assault Pulse Carbines and Heavy Rail Rifles, all sporting Marker Lights. Blue laser beams streaked forward eagerly looking for a target they could“paint” for the rest of the Tau forces. Tau Marker Light technology was justly feared, for on board Devilfish-One were four deadly Smart Missiles which could be fired by the Pathfinders, with devastating accuracy using the painted targets. Many Tau called the missiles “marine killers”, because they would punch through even Power Armor with the greatest of ease. The REAL use for the Path Finders however had yet to reveal itself…
With just those four units, they awaited the arrival of the enemy. The wait wasn’t long.
Their appearance was preceded by a bombardment! Bombs began dropping from the sky and at least two foxholes got blasted, their Fire Warrior inhabitants blown apart. One of the Tank Traps got hit as well, creating a breach. Luckily, it was not a breach in a critical location along the battlefront, but it would bear watching. That enemy Dreadnaught might find the spot quite tempting.
When the smoke cleared and the filtration units in Unated’s Tau helm began to work their magic, the force they were here to fight became visible.
As expected, there were two Chaos Space marine units strung wide in the middle. Two more took up opposing flank positions for a total of four corrupt units of the hideous monsters. A Dreadnaught joined the Chaos to the Tau left, and the Mutated Predator Tank joined the flankers to the Tau right.
Something was missing; some force element from the reports wasn’t there….
Shas’Vre Unated brought up the OHD in his helm and read the report with quick eyes and gasped. Terminator Sorcerers! Apparently a group of nine had been reported with this force, but was nowhere to be seen. Unated’s eyes narrowed, but there was no time to think about it. It was time to pop the hatches on the environmentally sealed Fox holes and send these abominations back to Hell where they belonged.
POP! Went the latch and out surged the Fire Warriors, catching the evil things by surprise. The Tau had set them up midfield to give them a chance to hold the enemy in no mans land if they got too close and to be able to bring their firepower to bear quicker, hoping to pin the enemy down. Reports warned that these creatures knew not what fear was, but Shas’Vre had yet to meet anything that didn’t care for its own life, and had discarded the thought as so much hyperbole.
Devilfish-One moved forward to fire on the right flanking enemy unit and the Path Finders took aim and shot Blue light at their enemy. The Chaos Warriors smirked as the harmless blue lights danced along their armor, but the smile quickly fled as a hatch opened up on Devilfish-One and out launched two very purposeful missiles, obliterating two Chaos Marines. Its own Gun Drones and Burst Cannons went to work as well. The three Rail Rifles in the Path Finder unit carved up another of the beastly Chaos Space Marines. Unated began to hear the chatter, and became somewhat disconcerted to learn that the things seemed to shrug off all but the most grievous wounds the burst Cannons could give. They literally were taking twice the damage any normal Space Marine should handle even after the armor was punched!
Hearing this, Unated began to rethink his position on bringing in the Hammerheads and Devilfish’s. He’d have to think about that one.
The three Fire Warrior Units laced into the oncoming Chaos force, but inflicted little damage, as the ranges were still a little too far.
The purposeful Chaos Warriors moved forward, and their Predator belched laser death towards Devilfish-One, rocking it in place, as did the Dreadnaught. Despite moving, the Chaos Warriors fired their Bolters at maximum range as if the recoil simply didn’t stop them! Shas’Vre Unated didn’t like that at all. He had anticipated being able to take no fire immediately, but apparently these things were possessed of something…different….focused… On his amplifier he could hear them crying out to something called Tzeentch. Probably one of their unholy Aun, or so the good Shas’Vre assumed. The curtain of fire from them didn’t have a lot of effect against the tough Tau armor thankfully as a couple of Drones went the way of the Dino-Gnarlac’s of old.
Unated was in a quandary. The volume of fire would be too great not to counter it with the Hammerhead Gunships and the other Devilfish’s, all carrying the missiles which seemed to be far more effective than normal weapons in wounding them. He had to call them in or these things weren’t going to stay in No Mans Land for long…and that would be a bad thing. The Aun’s plan was quite specific on that point…
Round 2
Shas’Vre Unated firmed up his decision. “Send in the Stealth party, forward Left. Path Finders, paint those crazy things and let the stealth do the rest. Command; send in the Hammerheads and two of the Devilfish. I suspect we have company coming. My guess is they are positioning those Terminators right over our heads. We’ll need the back up”.
All units hear the call and the Hammerheads rushed to the rear of the lines, gliding smoothly forward. Their gleaming White exteriors shimmered with the powerful shadow-fields. Variants of the stealth suits themselves, it made even the massive Hammerhead harder to see from a distance, forcing the enemy to get closer in order to kill it…which usually meant the Hammerhead was pounding you long before you pounded it! The Hammerheads moved along the right flank
Devilfish-Two and Devilfish-Three moved up behind the Pathfinders to the right as well, floating above each other in a symphony of gravitic piloting. Their missile racks opened up in preparation and their Burst Cannons began to spin.
One of the two Stealth units responded, melding from the shadows where they hid almost right in front of the Predator tank and the right side unit that watched its flank, the one the Tau had already hit. Shas'Vre Unated was somewhat deflated by the complete lack of response to their sudden appearance. It was as if the Chaos Warriors were not phased in the least by the sudden appearance of the Burst Cannon wielding Stealth Suits. To their crazed minds, the Shas’Vre imagined that his Stealth unit was seen as just mere objects to be slaughtered as they moved to their objective. The humanity of the Space Marines was I no way reflected in the hate forged eye slits of the Thousand Sons armor. It was good that these things should perish.
The Hammerheads immediately proceeded to belch death into the right hand unit from their marine killing Ion Cannons. Pathfinder lights painted the evil things and BOOM went the Burst Cannons of the Devilfish-One, as well as the six Stealth suits whose computerized targeting systems were able to utilize the painted markings just like the Devilfish, slamming shell after shell into the things with pinpoint accuracy. Despite the onslaught of firepower and even a pair of missiles from another Devilfish, the enemy unit still had men left! The Shas’Vre could scarce believe his orbs.
Devilfish-Two and Three spat out their payloads of Fire Warriors behind some cover, just in case the Chaos forces snuck those Terminators in behind enemy lines. It was a tactic the Shas’Vre has seen many times from Space marine forces. Assuming these…things…were as intelligent and cunning as they, then it would create a five unit killing field in the rear. Nothing could be allowed to escape past them. Once past, no forces remained at the base, so intent were they on pulling the drawstrings of the net around these things. The gamble was so large… but it was for the Greater Good and that comforted the Shas’Vre very much.
The three Fire Warrior units already deployed now much closer thanks to the advance of the enemy, laid into the advancing unit to the middle. Like the ones on the right, they took the beating amazingly well, even though many powerful Tau rifles minced their armor. Between Power armor and their own toughness, these things did not die easy.
The roaring began even as the Hammerheads and other units were taking their toll… looking up, the Shas’Vre saw what he had feared. Landing almost directly in the middle of the Tau forces, a group of Terminators Jump Packed in from seemingly nowhere! The hail of shells and strange psychic powers was terrible to behold as gouts of weird energy streaked from their misshapen heads and cracked claws to rake at the Tau. Every Tau it touched died, and no armor in the universe could stop it. Horrified, Shas’Vre Unated watched as they mercilessly pounded one of his units, killing two thirds of them! Worse, the Stealth Warriors he had summoned to the front were blasted and assaulted into nothingness by the savage monsters. The Path Finders who were supporting them gasped as the last two Stealth Warriors bravely fought a losing battle and had their extremities pulled from them in a completely unnecessary and macabre way. Some of the Chaos Warriors even took the time to replace their helmets with the Tau helmets, with the skulls still in them, the brains removed quickly with cracked yellow claws.
Meanwhile the crazy march of the things continued, bringing the rest of the Chaos forces nearly to the Tank traps...and that’s where Demons seemed to form from a staff carried by the farthest left Chaos unit. Manta ray looking things that emitted screeches so vile that no chalk board in the galaxy could compete formed and sprang forward, right into a mine field which exploded taking two of them with it, but it was clear they weren’t going anywhere, even after that. They were so fast that they would be on the Tau in short order if something weren’t done. With the Terminators sitting on the doorstep, it suddenly looked very bad…
The Predator stormed forward towards the one gap in the tank trap front. The Dreadnaught did likewise, and they managed to smash the front armor of a Hammerhead and one of the Devilfish, sending them both reeling for a moment and ripping the Burst cannon clean off of Devilfish-one. Luckily, the second hammerhead’s Stealth field protected against the ill advised blind shot aimed at it! Nonetheless, it would take a little time for those crews to get at it again, leaving only one Hammerhead active for the moment.
Unfortunately this also distracted the other two Devilfish pilots who stopped in place to look around and take their bearings. The Shas’Vre fumed at the lack of focus. Didn’t they know what could happen to a stationary Devilfish? If there weren’t nine very large twisted Terminators in front of him he would have taken the time to berate them but he couldn’t waste the attention right now.
Turn 3
“Send in the last Fire Warriors… Looks like we are going to have to lay down a major fusillade if we want to keep all our toes and hooves for another day” commanded Shas’Vre Unated. Dutifully, from their stealth field foxholes, the last unit of Fire Warriors came forward. The last unit of stealth Warriors did likewise.
Every single fire Warrior unit that could took aim and fired on the Terminators! All of the Devilfish’s released their drones to let them join the party as did the Hammerheads (though the Hammerhead itself that could still shoot had other targets to kill).
Together, for the Greater good, the forward fire Warriors turned their backs on the Manta-Demons and joined in as the area where the Terminators were became one hugs killing field of rapid fire weaponry. The stealth Warriors added their own Burst Cannons to the mix. Three of the Terminators died. The Shas’Vre had to blink to make sure he saw it right. With almost every gun in his force trained on them, they had lost barely a third of their company. He shook his head in disbelief and imagined the horror of those Psychic powers being unleashed again…It was almost too much to think about. Tau were going to die, and all the while, these things were taking the Tau’s attention away from those demons and those advancing troops with their dangerous Dreadnaught and tank…
Seeing the majority of the force going at it and with no line of sight, the Path Finders painted the tank and sent missile after missile at the Predator tank, but causing no damage! Apparently the mutated hull had grown quite strong and was not giving an inch, although the missiles took their toll on the hull, softening it up to perhaps try again… it would probably have been easier to kill the Dreadnaught, but the range was iffy and they took their chances with the tank to no avail.
The Hammerhead that could still shoot landed some hammering blows on the advancing troops, but not enough to concern them and the Devilfish pilots, still distracted by the hits to the other Gunship, foolishly stood still.
The Terminator counterattack was nasty. The things nearly decimated a unit of the best Tau on the field all by itself in record time, the psychic machinations ignoring all resistance in its seeming hunger for pain. Untouched Tau dropped where they stood. The Terminators didn’t stop, storming the unit and massacring nearly all of them. Even despite the beating, the brave Tau held.
Bolter fire reached the Tau as well, as the advancing forces were quite close now. The Shas’Vre smiled however; as he saw that the Chaos Warriors were almost wrapped in the blanket that would doom them. Just a little more time…
The Manta-Demons crashed into the forward Tau units backs like cowards, ripping and tearing at armor plating and killing their stoic Drones almost before the Tau knew what hit them. Photon grenades went flying, slowing the things only slightly, but it helped. The Tau counterattack was fierce however, and the creature’s careless method of attack opened them up more than might otherwise have been the case. The Fire Warriors held the line and the lot of them collapsed into one big melee.
Blat Blat Blat went the twin linked LasCannons on the Dreadnaught and Predator Tank, killing Path Finders and kicking Devilfish-One in the nose again.
Shas’Vre Unated smiled as he saw the armor hold and he could see that his Fire Warriors success was giving the enemy pause. The death of such mighty terminators and the furious counterattacks by the smallish Tau had finally registered in their hate filled minds enough to begin thoughts of potential defeat. The Shas’Vre imagined that they must by now have detected the massive energy fluctuations nearby and would no doubt be questioning what they were. The Shas’Vre knew what they were: a massive Stealth regiment, the largest of any the Tau could field, all converging quietly. The plan was working but time was running out…
Turn 4
The Shas’Vre decided to take a chance. Though there were few of the Terminators left, they seemed like the lynchpin to this assault. He gazed for just a moment at the Demons attacking his Tau, agonizing over whether he should send a unit to help, but he knew that he’d need all the firepower he could muster to crack these Psychic Terminators. The path Finders were hurt. One Hammerhead was missing its gun and that was valuable machinery. Finally coming to a decision, he issued his orders. “Path Finders kill that Predator. Devilfish-One, swing behind it and see if you can take it out. Stealth team Beta, move forward and blast those Terminators. All Fire Warrior units, fire on the terminators. Hammerhead-Two, kill that advancing line. Devilfish-Two and three, you had better move or I am going to seriously lose my temper. Break these Terminators and we break the back of this offensive. For the Greater Good, My Bonding Brothers!”
A great cheer went up as the orders relayed to the high tech miniaturized mass transceivers in the Tau helms. Dying Tau closed their eyes in gratitude for the reminder that no sacrifice, no matter how small, was ever forgotten or given for no reason. The Tau Destiny was bigger than any of them and they could rest knowing their part was played.
Such sentimentality was lost on the inhuman suits of Armored Terminator doom however. They ambled towards the Stealth Suits, but never got there.
Hell was unleashed. Every unit of Fire Warriors, all four and one half that could fire, did by closing in on all sides. The Tau targeting computers were so good that even in such a massive crossfire, friendly casualties would be nearly non existent. The Drones from the various devilfish and hammerhead Gunships also converged, buzzing in to add their help. Terminators dropped until there were just two left. Dazed and confused by the slow creeping thought of failure, they ran. They ran not from the Tau. For the Tau struck no fear at all in the hearts of such mighty armored creatures. No. They ran from their own Chaos Gods, confident in the fact that their failure would net them a fate far worse than death itself. They ran from their own troops in the vain hope they might somehow escape the standing order of all Chaos: the weak must die so that the strong may destroy and ruin.
The demons attacking the Tau were overmatched, unable to crack the armor and the Tau struck back ferociously. The Demons were sent back to the Warp where they belonged.
The Path Finders, despite their numbers having beet whittled, and a near certain charge from the Chaos Warriors that were closing in, they bravely stood their ground and painted the Mutated Predator Tank. An immediate barrage followed, this time cutting the Predators cannon from its body, leaving only its sponsons. This was the last straw. Before the Stealth field warriors could even arrive, the Chaos Warriors knew their back had been ruptured and their failure ensured. All that was left to them was to escape to throw themselves on the mercy of their masters, an empty hope but hope nonetheless.
The Shas’Vre seeing no advantage to stopping them from their retreat ordered his troops to send harrying fire after them but not to pursue. It was over and there were wounded who would need immediate attention, Drone parts to salvage and a base to re-deploy.
“Now, let’s see what we can’t do about sending their Starship into the ocean. Command, this is Shas’Vre Unated. We are victorious. As soon as the Cruisers crest the horizon, engage and annihilate those Chaos monsters above us. For the Greater Good, allow one to escape. The Chaos forces must be convinced to Believe in Our Destiny. We’ll need a survivor to carry the news.”

Saturday, February 2, 2013

6th Edition 40K Unholy Alliances

There are bitter enemies in the grim Darkness of the 40K universe, and some are so diametrically opposed that they would sooner kill you than look at you.

There are those commanders willing to trade CERTAIN obliteration at the cost of POSSIBLE obliteration.  Faced with an enemy so immense that they themselves, nor those they might ally with, can possibly survive against, they will create unholy alliances.  The outcome can only be betrayal in the end.  Nonetheless, the slim chance of at least some of their forces surviving is enough for both forces to dance with the enemy.  Better than no chance at all.

I am going to go over four of the most Unholy alliances.  These are not commonly seen but hold devastating possibilities.

Blood Angels with Necrons: 
Blood Angel forces are strong on the Assault but lack long range firepower if they are to maintain their potency in that arena.  Two things make an assault army particularly deadly.  The first is surprise.  If an assault army can safely navigate to its target via terrain or other means, it can be like a tsunami when it arrives.  No amount of Over watch will save you if you haven't whittled the forces of the Blood Angels.  Enter the Solar Pulse.  Coupled with the speed of the Blood Angels attack, and feel no pain, this is a powerful combination.  Spared the usual attrition they would face against anti-MEQ weaponry because of the saves they get from Stealth and Shrouding rules and Feel No Pain, the army can gather its strength and punish the enemy.  The Storm Lord, while expensive, ensures two rounds of this, but just a Solar Pulse is still quite adequate.  The ideal part of this equation is that the Storm Lord really need not be anywhere near the other troops to be effective and thus will not likely trigger the need for the "One Eye Open" rule.  The Necrons can also provide anti-aircraft a little cheaper than the Blood Angels can if you want to handle that duty with Flyers.

Chaos Daemons with Orcs: 
Daemons really want to soften their landing zones.  This is a problem because if they put shooters down, their range is poor and they are squishy.  Flamers are really the one units they can count on but they have to make RISKY deep strikes in order to be at maximum effectiveness.  The combination of Daemons and Orcs gives the crazed Warp beings what they really don't have:  a fusillade of shooting with excellent range.  When in cover, it has enough survivability, plus they somewhat obviate your need for an Aegis Defense line or other anti-aircraft answer.  The Daemons work far forward of their own board edge as a rule, so the presence of the Orcs won't be likely to activate the One Eye Open Rule.  A unit of lootas can do serious damage to soften the landing zones of the important Daemons to come.  Gretchen protect the War boss and can be used as extra wounds, and speed bumps The entire investment here is about 350 points or so and the Lootas can easily replace any shooting unit you would otherwise have used except the Flamers of course.

Sisters of Battle with Tau:  
The Sisters of Battle really only have one weakness:  range.  It is a  pronounced weakness and they take terrible losses in the commission of their holy duties.  Range comes from just two units:  Retributors and Exorcists.  Exorcists are unreliable, though potentially very good at what they do.  The Retributors have just a 36 inch range with no real mobility to it.  Enter the Tau.  The Tau feature both the Command and Crisis units, both of which can carry a good amount of STR 7 long range shooting, and the Broadsides are known the multi-verse over for their obvious firepower contributions.  A command unit of Crisis suits with Missiles can go a very long way towards solving the First Blood and Rhino busting woes of Battle Sisters during the first and second round.  That allows the massive firepower of the Sisters of battle at short range to matter more.  Sisters often sacrifice units to get their enemies into good firing position and those losses are somewhat avoidable if their range were better.  Things like Manticores that terrorize the Sisters of Battle would be quickly dispatched.  Target Locks allow even one unit of Broadsides to be a considerable addition to a Sisters of Battle army and quite reliable at their jobs.  Killing broadsides is nowhere near as easy as killing the tanks either.  With Shield Drones they are very hard to disable in enough time to matter when a wall of Sisters are blocking the way and pressing forward.

Dark Eldar with Sisters of Battle: 
St. Celestine is an asset to any army and she floats happily alone anyways.  her troops are better in general than the alternatives in the Dark Eldar Codex if you have assault covered elsewhere.  So it might seem odd to do, but having a weapon like the Living Saint and some of her troops along is far from your worst alternative.  Her 2+ save can come back again and again to protect her charges if she is not willing to leave them behind, making them rock hard to get off of objectives.   Limited Acts of Faith will have almost no consequence in a sisters of Battle allied contingent and the Seraphim as Jump troops over the Dark Eldar alternative is very far from the worst you can do!  All of this adds up to a versatile addition.  The One Eye Open rule is more likely to come up with this type of Ally and that will have to be a risk you're willing to take but Dark Eldar gain a lot by adding Sisters of Battle to their long list of enslaved servants.  To have broken the will of the Living Saint would be proof to all that your Archon is ready to take on Asdrubiel Vect himself...