Friday, March 29, 2013

Tau Rumors...No more!

The truth has been set free.

First, a sigh of relief.  As a review the GW website in anticipation of the new models range, I notice good news. 

Broadsides:  TL Railguns STR 8 AP 1, Skyfire options, awesome new model.

They basically did this to make the Rail Cannon on the Hammerhead worthwhile.   Sigh. Still...  It now is.  The broadsides can now become missile platforms too instead of just herking Railgun dudes.  Easy conversion with older models.

The Cadre Fireblade and DarkStrider are new HQ's for Fire Warriors and Pathfinders respectively adding oomph to both units in addition to the Drone and weapon options they now have.  This will make a difference right away when you consider the lowered price of Fire Warriors.  And Overwatch from nearby units is going to make a nest of Fire Warriors a serious hedgehog.

What catches my attention though is that Aun'Shi is a model available for purchase still.  Now GW has told me on more than one occassion that they melt old models to make way once the Finecast stuff is released so the fact that he's metal still leaves it in doubt as to whether he will in fact be a prominently displayed character but it's worth mentioning that he's still there and overstock that old screams for new rules.  Aun'Va is now Finecast and still on the site and hopefully less points than a 5 man Terminator squad...oofta.

Back to Aun'shi though:  some may remember that Aun'Shi was a moderately combat capable character who was used to buff up the Tau melee presence a smidge by upping WS and initiative of his unit and allowing folks to re-rolll morale checks, successful or otherwise which let you fall back at opportune times.  But he was an old fart, last assignment seen going to the Farsight Enclaves, no doubt in an attempt to bring him back peacably into the fold...  And with the new Farsight model, could it be that Aun'Shi has returned reluctantly?  hmm...

They made the Riptide an elite and this is a good thing which is official now too.  he should very successfully compete for that slot and because he will, it begs the question of how they will make the other two suits better to make sure it's not so obvious a choice.  well BS2 Overwatch couldn't hurt and apparently there is (potentially built in?) wargear to allow just that.  I do note that the pics dont show Multitrackers on all the suits.  Makes one wonder if the command suit might coordinate firepower while he's alive?  Or if its just assumed?  Or perhaps just old pics that were thoughtlessly kept.

Kroot are definitely in and the supposition of them as allies into a separate allies codex seems to have been squashed, though i wouldn't rule out that they may be added to one later.  However... notice the slight change in fluff descriptions that mentions literal millions of them in Tau service.  From what I can see they seem firmly entrenched in the Tau fold.

Stingwings are finecast and they still appear under Fast Attack, so it seems that they also did not get separated out like some said, nor are they going to have a "bike option", although I suppose they could hang from Piranha's while they jet about.  Wouldn't count on that though.  =).

The Longstrike character for Hammerheads seems like a cool idea, but IG players often dont pay the points for Pask and Marine players often dont pay for Cronos.  It makes the singular tank too expensive most of the time.  Unless they gave him an EJECTOR option, it seems unlikely that a lot of players will use him right away.  As time goes by he may yet be used more but there's going to be a lot more points spent on HQ's in the near future in Tau lists, so i wonder if he won't get edged out at first.  Who knows though.  New shiny things do tend to see some testing.  Paying for the model hurts my feelings but I suppose I can easily convert something.

So from what I see, all of this is addition, not subtraction.  There's more toys, they are in the slots we figured they'd be in, and my only boo-hiss moment is that the planes had to be Fast Attacks.  Hey, what can ya' do.  If they can come in a squadron, that would be nice but i highly doubt that or GW wouldn't have missed the opportunity to sell a Squadron at a time.  And consider who the codex author is too...

Post your findings here!  Love to chat about this, my all time favorite army come back to prominence (or...  brutalized by unforseen matchup problems, but hey, where's the fun in thinking that way? Lol)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tau: Our ascension a matter of time.

Strategy in 6E

I thought I would write on the simple idea.  It should not be confused with tactics, which is the deployment and activity of the list to enact its overarching goals (the strategy).  Just some random thoughts on what they are now in 6E and how they are expressed at times.

Okay so before the game starts, there is a strategy.  A plan.  A mode of operation if you will.  That mode of operation is allowed by the units you select...which means...  the units you select must allow you to act in the mode that you want to. 

Seems simple enough right?

Okay, so then before you ever SEE the battlefield and its terrain or how that can affect you; and before you touch pen to paper for a list, you are required to figure out how you want to BEST the opponent.
After looking through the rules there are a few ways to do it, in the strategic sense,  and those strategies inform the list building.  Most armies are some varying degree of reflection on all these thoughts, but probably fall towards one style more than the others:

1.  Morale.  A melee oriented force will attempt to win through crushing the enemies morale in a lightning Blitzkrieg sort of way.  They do not necessarily intend to actually slay every last person they see through the volume of dice, but instead the QUALITTY of the dice they are throwing.  Their intention is to grapple them into submission and/or use dirty tricks to break their actual will.  You see this attempted by things like Deathwing armies, who might have smaller squads whose goal is to simply survive long enough to win a close combat by 2 or 3 and sweep the enemy away.  You can see it in some Dark Eldar armies who attempt a blitzkrieg.  They are not actually doing, numerically, all that many ACTUAL wounds when you  look at at in totality.  Armies like this employ tank shocks and Psyker powers to force morale checks and even wargear in some places.  Anything to basically minimize the amount of deaths necessary in order to gain the result.  Paladin lists kind of represent this strategem at work where they may only kill a couple units when its all said and done, and some HQ's butthey are qualitative kills.

2.  Casualties:  Morale is a component certainly, but some armies appear to be more about creating overwhelming numbers of wounds such that the enemy simply can't save enough.  They dont tend to be the tougher (higher armor or toughness) armies that try this, as they often will invest heavily into either high attack killers like Yrmgrals and Khornate berzerkers.  They may come in the form of 5 AssaultCannon wielding Speeder units with 5 heavy bolters.  Some Purifier builds attempt this, causing copious wounds in order to simply dissolve the threats into separate puddles so weak they are simply combat inneffective.  Armies that try to win through pure casualties are most penalized by a lack of targets and you will often see people simpy use reserves to counter this to some extent, but such armies can perhaps take advantage of speed (such as in the case of the speeders), allowing them to weather the inevitable hail from their enemies as they close in to contest or just from their own lack of numbers.  Those usiung the strategy will be the most likely to be called one trick ponies as they will feature in many cases, repetitions of what the owner perceives to be the "A List" models in the codex.  You'll hear people talk about "redundancy" a lot if they build a list to this strategem.

3.  Position:  Physics is clear on the matter:  you simply can't have two things in the same place at the same time.  Blocking the enemy and shaping the battlefield using the terrain at hand, the immovable objects at hand [b]and[/b] well placed units like Scouts forward, infiltrators on flanks etc...  It can be kind of an intrguing way to win.  From so many angles, the enemy is unable to focus its force on any one element and from so many angles, you are unfocused but in position to thrust where the vulnerability lies.  Such armies are kind of rare, but they are effective in that they can put pressure on so many different units and like a good basketball teams, seek out the mismatches and try to exploit them.  Fearless blobs and other such units can all make this kind of warfare work by entrenching enemies in a certain spot and blocking others.  Necron Scarab farms are a good example of how this can be effective, and Tyranid Tervigons and Gaunt pods can be another way that you try to do this.  You need not even win the close combats.  Just stand your ground long enough in the right places and disallow the enemy to get anywhere ELSE.  Also this kind of strategy gives you a lot more ROOM for falling back, so failing your morale checks doesn't derail the strategy as much as with other ones, where failed morale checks can be a much more serious matter.  Chaos Daemons kind of used this strategy in their old incarnation.

4.  Timing.  I have made pretty extensive use of the strategy that [i]one cannot be killed if one is not there to receive the sword blow[/i].  As a Tau player I have loved this kind of sneaky warfare where you kind of ABLATE the enemies strengths by disallowing them from actually causing any damage or "doing their thing" very well.  As the rounds go by, they start to recognize how little they have killed out of your (typically high) model count.  Through the expedient of deep strikes, outflanks and late arriving transports, you can push the enemy back and take your prize.  Timing your arrivals to minimize enemy efficacy is the key to playing this way.  Battles like this end with a lot of fast and furious action.  Feints are used early to draw attention just enough to force action without offering real gains in return.  This is a little harder to do because frankly, your innate wish to roll a lot of dice and watch your enemy pick up models gets in the way of you WANTING to do this.  But it is effective for some armies, Tau in particular, and can be the epitome of cat and mouse.  An important point in any game where you try this is to recall that games aren't infinite.  This is why the strategy works.  The enemy can't get more rolls than the game allows.  Going second is advisable here though its not required.

5.  Playing the secondary objectives.  Some people simply ignore everything that isn't an HQ, Line Breaker and First Blood in their thoughts.  Their only goal in life is to tie you on every objective (which usually means a fast and perhaps more reedy army) but win the Secondary battle.  In fact in some missions, it's quite easy to see why you would do that.  This frees the general up to essentially focus solely on survivability and alpha strike ability.  Hunter Killer Missiles might abound in a stratagem like this and mobility will be prized, ironically as much as it is in Positioning.  the difference is, with positioning, you will usually find harder to kill units than with this stratagem which prizes simple denial over actual utility so you may see some "off" units here being used who seem inferior and in fact are.  They aren't there to impress.  Just to BE.

Besting the opponent through these different methods is kind of the first decision to make.  We could get a fancier longer list, but other stratagems are probably just variations on these same themes.  The rules literally only provide for very few ways to win.  The points only come from certain things after all:  Failed Saves, Failed Morale, your Position, His position, and how much time you have to affect them.

Tactics comes next:  how to deploy, how to use terrain and how to make the stratagem happen via the list.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

6th Edition Tau Rumors

The new Codex appears to have a few rumors that wont make certain consumer advocates very happy.

First rumor that seems to be rampant at the moment is the ideas that they have removed the aliens from the Tau codex and plan an "Allies" supplement which means anyone who wants to play with their Tau models now is going to get forced into buying two damn publications to play their dang army.  Obviously they are floating around that it will have a "third race" that can serve as mercs along with Stingwings and Kroot. 

The Broadsides have been drastically redesigned and the rumor is that you can fire it in two modes:  STR 8/AP1 skyfire OR STR 6 AP3 blast. 

Crisis suits are rumored to come standard with Multitrackers functionality and though the suits themselves dont look to be changing drastically in the short term, they are boxing them in 3's by all accounts for sale.  Thus far this has meant no savings to customers though.

Pathfinders appear to have shed their Devilfish requirement in the new codex and the Devilfish may have to purchase the beacon upgrade.  Good nws/bad news sort of thing, since that might mean Fire Warriors can have it on their Fish's too.

Stealthsuits may be able to Overwatch at BS2 which is kinda nifty.  Seems like that should extend to the Crisis suits too, but we shall see.  If that extends to snapfire in general, that would make Tau a seriuous threat to flying armies.

Sounds as ifthe Ethereals will be once again a rather disposable HQ choice.  One hopes they kept AunVa, as I felt though overcosted, he greanted the army a valuable possible dimension.

Overall the rtumor mill is working overtime but of course until the actual codex is outon the net somewhere I can find it, it's all speculation.

There are two plane variants coming though and they look like old school planes that met the new school Tau look.  The Riptide Battle suit sounds a LOT like it will serve the exact same purtpose my singular Broadside team leaders always did, only a lot tougher.  If true thisa would enhance that role since the suit can actually fight a little, so on the off chance the enemy gets to that big old Riptide battlesuit, it can dish out a little home cooking and actually free itself to fire some more on a good day.

That's all for now!  Post other things here as you find them out please.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Warhammer Chaos Space Marine Cults: CHAOS UNDIVIDED

And so...

Having delved into the many cults, their possibilities, their features and their benefits, some small bit of tactica and list building, we finally reach this:  The Black Crusade. 

The Black Crusade brings all the pure Cults together and is the ultimate expression of the Chaos gawds displeasure with someone if they are unleashed.  Thirteen such crusades have gashed the Imperium irreparably before being turned back, each time etching away the defenses of Mankind.

First among the Traitor brethren were the Black Legion, hidden away in the gigantic dust nebulae at the edge of the Eye of Terror.  They orchestrate the downfall of Mankind under the command of Abaddon himself, the embodiment of the Chaos Gawds favor.

How are we to look at Chaos Undivided lists?  Through the lens of Abaddon's eyes of course.  He is a must have choice for the Black Legions of Chaos.  He is harder than nails, incredibly fast and dangerous to his enemies and he's well stocked with weapons you can't fathom.  Impossible to kill and resoundingly productive in combat.  He posesses the Black Crusader Warlord Trait, making his army twice as dangerous.

265pts Abaddon the Despoiiler

With Abaddon come his Chosen as troops choices.  Loyal to him and his cause, plus bereft of the curses that have befallen the Cults, they lead with him as exemplars.  Their dread numbers are a serious threat to enemies and can score!   This fell combination spearheads his forces.

265pts 10 Chosen (5 Plasma, Champion w/ Combi-Flamer and Melta bombs)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)
265pts 10 Chosen (5 Plasma, Champion w/ Combi-Flamer and Melta bombs)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)

The units can literally kill entire Terminator Squads, wash away hordes and are hale enough to withstand return fire.  They are swift enough to reach their intended target and if someone wants to stand toe to toe with them, you could do worse.  I don't think it's a bad idea to throw a Power sword into the mix, but obviously it is not a great idea to force them into close combat unless there is no choice.  With 3 attacks apiece, 4 on the charge, it will be the mightiest of melee opponents that will want to mess with them even so.

With troop and an HQ taken care of, we can get down to business as far as making sure the troops are getting where they need to be and that the cults are adequately represented in all their horrifying majesty.

The Black Crusade is a Crusade of combined force of arms, Cultist arms.  As such, it must be filled with all its representative members and there are four cults, One of them must be led by a second HQ since there are only three Elite slots, plus you DO NEED at least three troops choices in most armies anyways.  One of the cult units may be made into a troop choice via a Chaos Lord or Sorcerer. I chose the Sorcerer but you could go either way on that for about the same points.  I think having the might of a Psyker in your force is never a bad thing since you already have butchers in your list who can take care of business in melee.

150pts Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Tzeentch, Level 3, Terminator Armor+Force Weapon)

202pts  6 Noise Marines (5 Sonic Blasters, BlastMaster, Doom Siren, Icon of Excess)

208pts  7 Plague Marines (2 x Plasmaguns, Icon of Despair)

231pts 8 Khorne Berzerkers (8 Chainaxes, 2 Plasma Pistols, Icon of Wrath)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)

257pts 9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame)
35pts Chaos Rhino

That pretty much dries up your points!  It goes shockingly fast in such an elite army with so specific a build as the old and new fluff would require now.  I'd lean towards taking the Icarus, but leave that to your play style.  Perhaps you acknowledge that against certain air forces, the one cannon will be points you might have spent better on other things if its killed in round 1.  These are the decisions a General must make!  I would probably recommend an Aegis+Icarus Cannon, at the expense of 5 Chosen, just to cover that base but...

As for bases, how are we doing as far as covering them if we DO choose to play the Black Legion in this new Codex?

Well from an Anti-tank standpoint, it's pretty strong.  A Land Raider or two are your main concerns, but other armor types really are not going to bother you that much.  Naturally, if one wanted to, one could easily add a Melta into the mix of the Chosen.  I like this option, because they can be fired from inside the Rhino on the approach round 2, and kinda scare its occupants into getting out and handling the threat...which is exactly where this list is hoping Land Raider contents will be:  out in the open!  The Meltabomb is really meant as an emergency measure, not to actually kill the Land Raider, since LR's are an Assault vehicle and blowing the unit out of it might not stop them from charging.  However...  A meltagun in each of those Chosen squads would not be a bad idea at all to cover this weakness.

Against Hordes, we have a LOT of close combat attacks, abaddon and of course bolters of great power to bring to bear.  I have little doubt that hordes will do no more than wilt against this force, as they can bring a ferocious combination of attacks and firepower to the horde's doorsteps.  Tervigons and Termigaunts alike will be in no excited hurry to face off.

Against MEQ, it is amply prepared.  Nearly every unit in the army can shred power armor, yet it does not abandon its volume of shots to do it.  It still can torrent the marines as well.  56 models isn't an enormous force, but given its composition, it's an impressive one when facing Bikes, or MEQ.

The Airforces of the universe will not be stopped by just one Icarus cannon, but that would be true of most any kind of Chaos Force or any non-Chaos force for that matter.  Airforce type armies just are not easy to kill for anyone.  Monstrous Creature versions of them wont be a problem.  All the firepower needed to ground and kill them is present in the list.  Heldrake lists, or Vindetta lists won't like the plasma storm this army brings but can weather it better.  The fact that they must reserve and can at least be anticipated can help and should let the Rhinos gt into position bfore the Airforce shows up and as long as you focus on enemy troop killing first, the Airforce may not have much to say about the outcome of the battle.  Hee I recommend remembering that the enemy troop choices, once dead, make a whole lot of other things irrelevant.  Going first would be key so you can attempt first blood and gt in good position before the Air Raid sirens blare.  Hopefully the Icarus can at least even the odds if yuo took one and it survived.

Objectives should be no problem.  The troops are mobile, hearty and dangerous.  You don't have a ton of kill points to give up, so you should be reasonably well off against MSU armies in KP related missions.  You're giving up neither Heavy nor Fast Attack slots to enemies in Big Guns Never Tire and the Scouring, so you have the advantage in those missions.  Your Warlord is a beast to kill and if you play your cards right, he alone can give you First Blood and much more.

Playing the Black Legion in 6E means committing to style of play that is a little conservative in the early going.  The Slaanesh troops, the Icarus (if you have one) and potentially the Sorcerer will be the only things causing any real damage in round 1, while everything moves up + Runs behind a wall of Rhinos and into killing position with Abaddon.  protecting the exposed troops is Abaddons job.  He would likely be inside the Plague marine unit.  The enemy will be spread out no doubt, to stay shootting as long as possible.  In round 2, it will be mostly moving to spread out also and to start killing transports and troops, so obviously, not as much damage being done to the enemy globally, albeit the exchange will be favorably balanced just bcause of the sheer number of high powered shots.  There is no much plasma in these units that to approach them with ANY troop choice would be suicide for the unit doing it, so the enemy is likely to try and gun down the inferior number of troops and kill their transports.  It is in the third and subsequent phase that so much carnage will occur the likes of which the Imperium has never witnessed.  At this range, the army is an unstoppable wave of triumph.  but terrain and a steady advance are likly tomark how it fights.

The thing to remember is to kill all the troops, wholesale.  target them and relentlessly keep at them.  Other targets matter a lot less here.  Your ability to wreak havoc is good, but you must remember that attrition happens and it happens fast sometimes when the enemy is free to ignore tanks to some extent.  You must while you still CAN, kill their ability to score and then protect yours second.  The Thousand Sons may often be your winning card, as the others will be embroiled in bloody fighting and contesting, with the Chosen a close second for the honor.  Your expendable Elites are there to keep your scoring units clear of troubling close combats, and to get into them as well!

To summarize my thoughts on an appropriate Black Legion build, here you have it, with the proviso that 5 Chosen could be converted to an Aegis Gunline and perhaps should be.  Should be interresting to see how it does.

265pts Abaddon the Despoiiler
265pts 10 Chosen (5 Plasma, Champion w/ Combi-Flamer and Melta bombs)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)
265pts 10 Chosen (5 Plasma, Champion w/ Combi-Flamer and Melta bombs)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)
150pts Chaos Sorcerer (Mark of Tzeentch, Level 3, Terminator Armor+Force Weapon)
202pts  6 Noise Marines (5 Sonic Blasters, BlastMaster, Doom Siren, Icon of Excess)
208pts  7 Plague Marines (2 x Plasmaguns, Icon of Despair)
231pts 8 Khorne Berzerkers (8 Chainaxes, 2 Plasma Pistols, Icon of Wrath)
40pts Chaos Rhino (Dozer)
257pts 9 Thousand Sons (Icon of Flame)
35pts Chaos Rhino

Points: 1998
Kill Points 12
Models: 56
Armour:  4

You can see the other articles on this series here:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tau Stealth Suits in 6E

As the Chaos Daemons codex came out and I noticed they included actual jetpack troops, it got me to thinking about Tau.

Most know I was a big proponent of building lists using stealthsuits.  I have not made use of Crisis Battle Suits in general because I don't need them to win, though I of course see their value in Tau lists.  When I have used the Stealthsuits they prove time and again what a force they can be.

First I'll start by pointing out that the cost to have a StealthHammer in your army is commensurate with what you'd get from a Grey Knight Squad or even Purgation Squads in full regalia.  300 points, while by no stretch of anyones imagination cheap, isn't really unusually high either.  People pay for 235 point Assault Marine units without a thought, for example, and a one model HQ can cost you 265 points...  and be worth it.

A Grey Knight Squad fires 14 STR 5 Bolter shots.  The Tau StealthHammer puts out 24 of them.
A Grey Knights squad fires 4 STR 7 aP 4 pinning shots on the move.  StealthHammers fire 2 Fusion Blasters on the move and END up further away than the Grey Knights can.  The Grey Knights don't pin their enemy, but the StealthHammer does.  The Stealthhammer regularly enjoys 2+ cover and Grey Knights do not.  So would you pay 300 points for that?  What if I told you that you could GUARANTEE the unit won't be swept in melee?  Would you then?

Already, you can see that the 300 points may be well spent.

Looking further, we see that both had 3+ armor, 4 for the drones.  The much larger pool of wounds on 2+ cover makes for favorable comparisons when at range.

In melee, the Grey Knights win.  But what does the win mean?  In the case of the Stealth units, it means that the StealthHammer can escape combat with a reasonable chance of getting away so they can shoot again!  This is huge deal and I'll talk about it more in a minute.  The Grey Knights by their own rules find it hard to get away or shoot again, especially ifthey dont win by much.

This Tau unit can infiltrate to the weaker flank and start buzzsawing its way through it. It does damage, and jumps away, making it increasinlgy unlikely that sending things to support that flank will be very fruitful for an enemy.  Pot shots sure, but ssutained threat of melee?  Maybe not so much unless it is a Vanguard unit.

These are roughly equal units in price but the grey Knights don't have the deployment options, they cant outshoot the Hammers and they aren't any more fun to look at on the field.  Only in melee do the Knights regain some glory.  But it's a shooting mans game now.

The Shas'O and Shas'El can each take some wargear to help eleviate the disadvantage the unit WOULD have been suffering in prolonged melee.  The Shas'O in all likelihood should carry the Vectored Retro Thrusters and irridium armor to ablate damage.  This gives the entire unit the ability to Hit and Run.  Now if the Tau unit blasts its target AND then charges, WITH Vectored Retro Thrusters, there is a high probability of success in that combat and then they can bounce and prepare for Overwatch if the unit they charged is even alive enough to come for them.

The Shas'El should carry the Failsafe Detonator.  This ensures that the unit should be able to effectively Hit and Run (at the cost of the Commander), never being Swept, and always shooting as they should be.  Here again such a device allows them to be more aggressive in melee after shooting.

The two commanders join the respective StealthHammers in Outflank, Deep Strike OR infiltrating (probably better to infiltrate most times), not only adding yet more shots to the mix, but now giving both units ways to get around their only real weakness.

Tau take casualties but try to avoid total unit loss as a way to get the enemy into unfavorable killing grounds.  These units are ideal for baiting such ill advised charges!  This also can be a great asset.

Some food for thought here:  Two enemy units can't occupy the same space at the same time.  See physics for details.  They wont clump up if your Tau force uses Templates and blasts.  So in the end, on one flank or the other, there will be room to DS at 18 inches or infiltrate there and fire all guns on the exposed group.  Killing the closest target of an already spread out unit means they will kill 6 of 10 MEQ immediately, leaving four in the unit facing them.  The survivors know that they can do some damage, but clearly not enough, as reaching the Tau suits is a long shot after they've Jetpack bounced plus the added casualty distance has made it worse.  Let's say the brave enemy does make the charge though.  Stealth Suits aren't terrible in melee (STR 4, hitting on 4's, commander wounding on 3's), BUT lets give the benefit of the doubt and say the Tau flubbed and lost by a couple.  Time to run.  The Vectored Retros lift the unit out of harms way, leaving the enemy remnants high and dry.  If both StealthHammers are caught, the second StealthHammer Commander drops the large blast and saves the unit automatically.  The weakened enemy is now exposed.

What do you think the 6E tau Empire codex will do to with these guys?  That's a very good question and I hear a lot of rumors now, some good, some not so good.  I sure hope the brains running the show on the codex recognize the potential of the old codex enough not to wash it away wholesale.  Tau are due a new codex, but the Tau feel is petty particular, and stealth suits really typify Tau tactics and collaborative war.

My conclusion here though is that Stealthsuits are a great asset to any Tau force.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

6th Edition Chaos Space Marine Cults: Nurgle

Nurgle is one of the more odd fantasies of the 40K universe.  The mere idea of a corpuscle encrusted Gawd engendering loyalty amongst anyone seems, to say the least, odd at first.

Mortarian and the Green Death that followed him and other tales of foulness are the hallmark of the dread Death Guard whose putrescent presence is beyond understanding.  Their unholy number 7 is the harbinger of dark times.  Papa Nurgles legions swell after every battle as the dying and the infected cry out for life everlasting in place of their impending doom.  What choice have they?

We won't speak about allies here as we are examining the cult itself.  We will cover the possibilities of allies in other blogs though.

The Tools of Nurgle:

The Primary tools that a force of Nurgle will characteristically carry are

The Mark of Nurgle.  It's pestilential presence grants the otherwise superhuman corrupted Space Marines into veritable titans of fortitiude, nigh impossible to kill.  Even the most basic trooper with this mark becomes a substantial load to take down and what was once highly effective bolter fire becomes worse than paltry lasgun fire to them.  If you want to kill that which is inevitable, your work is cut out for you.  Entropy stops for no one.

Plague knives adorn the belts of every true follower of Nurgle.  The poison rules are ruthless in 6E, allowing the Plague knife wielding maniacs to pump out a sheer volume of wounds that is impressive against anything, no matter how tough.  In fact the tougher they are the worse the disappointment they are prepared to mete out to the enemy.

Blight Grenades restrict the enemy badly, acting as a frag grenade and helping them ignore the initiative penalties of terrain.  As the Plague Marines are I3 to begin with, they need all the help they can get.   What sometimes gets overlooked with Blight Grenades, is that units shooting at them from 8 inches or less grant the Plague unit Stealth and also allows them to steal an enemies charge attacks from them.  So in overwatch and in normal situations, the unit enjoys an even better defense than just their stat line, frustrating the enemies attempts to affect them even further.

The Icon of Despair forces the enemies of Nurgle to gird their loins and make a Fear Test, or drop to I1 in close combat, which could seriously mess with some units that would traditionally like to swarm the lines.  Certain units have notoriously low LD and would be really screwed if this happened to them.

Palanquins of Nurgle make a Warlord next to unkillable.  +2 wounds is a huge upgrade and another attack added to what is likely a boat load already will turn any Nurgle character into a poisonous blender.

Ichor blood is very Nurgle as the very innards of the Plague marines are so vile that the blood coursing through them can harm you.

Black Mace:  One can argue who most benefits from the use of the Black Mace, but the way it works plays well and in character in an army the Destroyer Hive is involved in.  In some ways it's like havimg a second Destroyer Hive in the way it works and can help replace it, so to speak if you don't take Typhus.

Veterans of the Long War upgrade:  Coupled with Plague Knives Poison re-rolls to wound, that's a fearsome.combination!

Chaos Boons:  Of all the cults, the Boons table is oddly fitting but also incredibly powerful on models that already have such a large benefit of survivability.  Nearly all the Boons would turn super human monsters into the pinnacle of enemies in challenges and just in general.  Such boons are much more likely to be ENJOYED by those receiving them thanks to the toughness of the unit leaders.

Nurgles Finest

Amongst Nurgles fetid host are certain personalities you may encounter.
Typhus is a monster because he carries a Daemon weapon and his Destroyer Hive ability makes him equally scary to hordes as he is to normal men.  2+ armor on a Tough 5 leader that can hit that hard?  Yeah.  watch out!  On his own, launching from within a bodyguard into an enemy will be more than enough trouble for almost any unit he decides to bother.  He is a unit unto himself.

In character, albeit more associated with Slaanesh according to the fluff, would be Fabius Bile.  He and his legions would find endless petri dishes within Nurgles ranks and it wouldn't be hard to imagine him helping to lead.  More importantly, he can empower a normal Chaos Space Marine who serves Nurgle into a beastly STR 5 Tough 5 monstrosity.  This is no small thing.  In addition, he gets a gaggle of attacks on the charge and his attacks cause Instant Death.  He has no AP, but he's also not going last most times; and seven attacks should give him a very good chance when charging to get a death dealing wound through to an enemy challenger.

Nurgle Psykers

Nurgle has easily one of the scariest Psyker powers I've seen, Plague Wind.  It is a large AP 2 blast, wounding on 4+.  Wow.  Nothing and no one wants to get hit with that kind of firepower.  Even were you not to gain that particular power, Nurgle Psykers have other tools...

Nurgle have access to Telepathy like all Chaos Sorcerers do.  Invisibility really helps the Plague ridden to overcome their initiative negatives among other benefits, and only one of the powers in the Discipline is useless, but that can be exchanged for the rather useful Primaris power of Psychic Shriek, so you really can't lose. 

Pyromancy has no bad spells but ultimately I feel like you can get equivalent value from other weapons platforms that aren't sorcerers.  They only serve to make a "shooty Psyker" that can fire "pretty okay" attacks.  Probably not as useful overall tothe force, but when you need the shooting in a list, they can augment it here.

Biomancy oddly seems to be a better shooting Discipline and has the added benefit of being synergistic with the powers of Nurgle and the Boons.

Overall I'd say go with Telepathy (shooting for invisibility and Hallucination, but the Primaris power being very good) and Nurgle (Plague Wind and Gift of Contagion being the best choices) as Disciplines if you do play a Nurgle Cult.

Let's Build It

So a true Cult of Nurgle starts, as it always does with any army making sure we have the essentials handled.  That means the Troops and leaders usually.
Unfortunately, the powerful army of Nurgle is priced accordingly.  A basic troop unit that can essentially take anyone, anytime, and take it like a champ is a scary proposition and this is NOT a cheap Cult.  Though other Cults aren't cheap, you can really expend a masssive amount of points in troops.  Nonetheless you must trust that it will be worth it.  It does limit the rest of the list so I feel that if you really want to play a true Nurgle cult, you have to really make sure the rest of the list helps you avoid getting the troop choices wrapped up with enemies until they can reach their objectives (unless it's an unfair fight which Nurgle units are perfectly capable of causing).  They can handle a lot of threats in melee, but getting slowed down too early by unimportant things can be a key strategy that enemies will attempt.  It almost requires you to go with larger units to break free faster or just grind longer til the cavalry arrives to free you.  Unlike a lot of armies, Nurgle doesn't have to fear being caught out in the open and fortunately, 6E favors large units, so go big or go home.

The troops of Nurgle can literally wound any kind of unit that isn't AV 13 on all sides.  They also won't see the same attrition other armies will suffer.  That means they might be able to get away with less core Nurgle troop choices and that opens up Pandoras box for us in potentially making use of a Marked Chaos Space marine unit instead of all three used as Plague Marines.  This may be one of the few cults that can get away with two core troop units of their trademark units.

Because their core troops can wound anything with a toughness characteristic, Melta Guns actually make the most sense as it lets them attack the only thing they can't with their knives or grenades.  Plasma has always been the most popular choice, and if all you take is 7 Plague Marines per squad, that is probably fine.  But I am not at all convinced that losing the charge due to plasma is a great idea when you take 14 of them.  You'll make up anything you might have lost with sheer volume of attacks and survivability.

410pts 14 Plague Marines (2 Melta Guns, Power Axe+Melta Bomb+Gift of Mutation, Icon of Despair, Veterans of the Long War)

410pts 14 Plague Marines (2 Melta Guns, Power Axe+Melta Bomb+Gift of Mutation, Icon of Despair, Veterans of the Long War)

This allows us to re-roll misses the first round of combat and re-roll wounds most of the time.  Nasty.  The leader, if he swings, is going to really be a strength for the units, with a Boon to start it all off.
HQ's are a tough call in this list.  I feel like with the cost of the Troops choices being so high we need a less expensive HQ in order to help fit a third troop in.  Fabius allows us to empower even the unit immensely.  He himself comes with SEVEN attacks on the charge and while none of them are power attacks, they do inflict Instant Death! You can absolutely find worse combatants in your army.  He makes the unit fearless too.

165 Fabius Bile

266pts 14 Chaos Space marines (Mark of Nurgle, Gift of Mutation, Power Sword+Melta Bomb, Icon of Despair, 6 Extra Close Combat Weapons)

These troops are as mean as Possessed, but for a fraction of the cost and of course, tougher.  I didn't upgrade ALL of them with extra close combat weapons because inevitably there will be attrition; so why pay extra on men who will never see the fight anyways?

The list is bloated like Papa Nurgle, filled with deadly villainous putrescent damned souls, and a lot of them.  A lot more than many armies will ever be able to kill.  Secure in the knowledge that scoring is no problem, we now need to infect the enemy into bite sized pieces before we arrive to take advantage of our numbers and resiliency.  Then we can steam roll them with the inexorable cause of decay.

Anti Air-craft is important and 7 Nurgle havocs is tempting but the price for such a unit in this list really hurts worse than in some.  So for that Reason, the Icarus Cannon with an Aegis Defense line is probably more advisable.

85pts  Aegis Defense Line (Icarus Cannon)

Manning a one shot cannon requires you to invest in a gunner worth a darn, and under normal circumstances, you might not want to dedicate a ton of points to the task but when you think about it, the back end of the deployment zone needs a presence anyways in this force a little later in the fight so you aren't losing a lot by investing in competence there.  We will put a Chaos Lord in charge of that.  Intercept allows him to UNman the gun in the round he needs to act and man it again if the game calls for it after that.  He can assist in backfield defense in a huge way, as he is nigh indestructible when armed in the full regalia of Nurgles wonder.  We want to take advantage of the extra wounds he has to give while on a Palanquin so we take Ichor Blood.  The Black Mace is positively devastating and his Boons will likely grow greatly once the enemy penetrates the deployment lines.  He will embolden a unit of Nurgle Marked ruffians who will serve as his bodyguard while he carries out rhe execution of everyone he surveys.  the Chaos Cultists also can stop an enemy from interuptin their Lord if the need arises and too many flyers have gotten involved in the fight.

175pts Chaos Lord (Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Ichor Blood, Black Mace, Gift of Mutation)

70pts 10 Nurgle Cultists (Mark of Nurgle)

Blocking for this army is important for much the same reasons as the Thousand suns and they even feel similar in their overall strategy even though they definitely accomplish it differently.  Khorne can tear you apart with a blizzard of attacks, Thousand Suns can topple your empire with terrifying shooting, and Slaanesh can shake you to your foundations with the sound of their thundering artillery but the slow grind of Nurgle requires a different approach.  So long as the force is MOVING forward, it is winning because your hope of killing them if you get blocked too long (speaking as the enemy here) is next to none and you certainly wont have anything in your force tough enough to take all the poison they can dish out if that happens.  Getting past them with pods and other means is a legit tactic so we need back field deterence that can keep up with a forward push.  A stagnant unit won't do.

We also really haven't got the anti-terminator/Paladin threat we need either, which is one of the unit types that could give us trouble, as such enemies can conceivably make a mockery of the many gifts of Nurgle.

Mobile Chosen can kill anything that we actually fear.  Obliterators can also kill anything we need them to, while defending the backfield and if necessary, block or attack from the enemy's rearside via deep strike to slow THEM down or just reduce enemy firepower if that's whats called for.  Chosen lost their ability to outflank in this edition, but that doesn't really hurt their efficacy with plasma!  They can seriously take a hit and their overwatch is nasty.  They are getting three attacks each when being charged as well!  Overall a very doughty and worthwhile unit for its role.  I can easily see going several ways here with a pair of Maulerfiends being chief amongst those options.  I think there are good options here, but I am going with the Chosen in this case because it hardly matters WHAT they are hitting, it's going to hurt.

232pts 7 Chosen (Mark of Nurgle, 5 Plasmaguns, Combi-Flamer)
35pts Chaos Rhino

152pts 2 Obliterators (Mark of Nurgle)

As I'm fond of saying, this isn't the only way to built your cult, but it gives you ideas to work from and it is a complete list you can build and play with confidence.  It will do especially well against Elite armies if you are patient, and certainly will be no joy to hordes.  It is more numerous than many Space marine type armies and not in a superfluous way.  Tough, able to poison anything, able to kill anything in its way, able to score easily and to break the enemy lines through sheer force of will.  The powers of Nurgle and their mighty cults will be legend under your command.

To summarize my list ideas:
85pts  Aegis Defense Line (Icarus Cannon)
152pts 2 Obliterators (Mark of Nurgle)
70pts 10 Cultists (Mark of Nurgle)
266pts 14 Chaos Space marines (Mark of Nurgle, Gift of Mutation, Power Sword+Melta Bomb, Icon of Despair, 6 Extra Close Combat Weapons)
410pts 14 Plague Marines (2 Melta Guns, Power Axe+Melta Bomb, Gift of Mutation, Icon of Despair, Veterans of the Long War)
 410pts 14 Plague Marines (2 Melta Guns, Power Axe+Melta Bomb, Gift of Mutation, Icon of Despair, Veterans of the Long War)
232pts 7 Chosen (Mark of Nurgle, 5 Plasmaguns, Combi-Flamer)
35pts Chaos Rhino
175pts Chaos Lord (Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Ichor Blood, Black Mace, Gift of Mutation)
165 Fabius Bile
Total Models: 65
Total Points: 2000
Total Kill Points: 9
Total Pieces of Armour: 1