Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Militarum Tempestus

My most recent painting project is the Militarum Tempestus. list I have been developing.  As this is a little seen army that we even had trouble finding a General for, for the upcoming ElvenSword Ambassadorial Tournament, I felt it was a perfect army to start tackling and chronicling here on this blog.  Lets face it, you really cant find an online source of useful information on this force and facing it is probably as mysterious as finding someone who plays it.

I'll start by telling those who don't know what they are.  The Militarum Tempestus are essentially Storm Troopers from the Imperial Guard codex (Codex: Astra Militarum), renamed Scions for some reason but fundamentally unchanged.  They feature an elite Deep Striking unit that can carry a STR 3/AP 3 18" range rapid fire rifle, plus the unit carries two special weapons (such as flamers or meltaguns) even with only five soldiers in the unit.  These units are always led by a Scion Command Squad who can give orders to them and the Command Squad themselves can carry FOUR special weapons in their five man squad!  The Scions (again, previously known as Storm Troopers or Kasrkin) have a unique weapon called a Hot shot Volley Gun that is particular to them and it fires a STR 4 version of the same deadly weapon characteristics but is Salvo 2/4 and a 24" range instead of 18".

The Taurox and Taurox Prime transports are available to some units in the Codex: Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard, same diff) but they were really specifically designed to complement the Scions.  In fact, the Codex: Militarum Tempestus actually dropped before the Codex: Astra Militarum, a first in GW's long history.

So that brings you up to speed pretty well on how they are normally seen in the IG codex.

Now Codex: Militarum Tempestus is very unusual.  Like all supplements, the rules are like all of 5 pages or something, primarily relying on you to own the Codex: Astra Militarum to use the Scion list (GW's marketing machine at work).  Unlike most Supplements, they limit you very strictly to Commissars/Lord Commissars, Militarum Tempestus Command Squads and Scions, plus some Transports!  As transports they only allow you Valkyrie Squadrons (non dedicated Fast Attacks) and Taurox Primes (Dedicated Transports unless taken in the Ground Assault Formation which I will talk about).  Not even the normal Taurox is available to them.  So again highly unusual in its strictures.

So if you ever had collected a ton of Storm Trooper, Inquisitorial Storm Troopers, or Kasrkin models, but were constantly disappointed in how they performed or compared to their peers in the codex, this Codex was your chance to release the Kraken!

So why bother?  I mean you can already take Scion Command Squads and up to 30 Storm Troopers to go with them, all as just one Elite choice in the Codex: Astra Militarum and by doing so afford yourself far greater numbers of choices in other areas.  35 Scions (total) is already quite a few and they occupy a slot that is, to say the least, underused by Imperial Guard players.  It almost doesn't make sense why you'd make a much more limited codex for them right?

Well it does now that 7th Edition is out and fully understood.  Codex: Militarum Tempestus was written  with 7th Edition in mind.  They already knew you would be allowed in battle Forged Armies to take as many Combined Arms Detachments (or allied Detachments and/or Formations for that matter) as needed and so the strictures were far less meaningful than they appeared to the incredulous people who paid for the book and then stared at its stark emptiness.  Clearly it was written with 7E in mind.

But there's more to this force than you would think.  It does more than just allow you to play more Scions than you could otherwise.  In fact, after play testing it a bit, I have come to realize that this is actually a fun army to play and the trick to it is in the orders they have.  They are very different from those in the Codex: Astra Militarum, and very specifically to give the force a much more powerful punch than a STR 3 gun would suggest on first reading.

The orders are fantastic.   Let's start there.  The Scions are BS 4 already and can issue an order to twin link their weapons.  This requires the usual LD check like all orders, and can't be countered unlike Prescience!  This order makes the units HIGHLY reliable.

On the other hand perhaps you are looking at that BS 4 and thinking "hey...  that's already pretty good...  Maybe I want a little help wounding with those STR 3 AP 3 flashlights".  Great.  You can instead take Preferred Enemy.  It lets you re-roll half your misses but gives you a shot to re-roll 1's to wound.  Not a bad trade off.

Scions are typically seen as a shooting force and that's pretty much correct.  The time will come though when the enemy simply gives you no choice but to duke it out and sometimes you'll charge just to get free movement.  Regardless of your motivation, the Militarum Tempestus Command Squads can give a unit the order to receive the Crusader rule, which can make a charge with init 3 soldiers a much nicer prospect.  When those nasty Xenos get broken you put them down hard with the Crusader rule, overcoming the otherwise pedestrian INIT value of 3 you have to work with.

In my most recent game, I NEEDED to roll well on my charge; not just to get the charge off, but I needed to be able to wrap around the vehicle as completely as possible to be within reach of the objective.  The command Squad can issue an order to make you Fleet!  This is a big deal for a few reasons.  One, running improves and when you're deep striking, you really need to be able to make sure you can spread out at times because you're not always right next to enemies and you don't want large blasts ending your 4+ armored hides.  This order helps you do that.  In addition it makes charging them a higher percentage play

Of course it has probably occurred to most people who've thought about it, that the STR 3 guns are puny and useless against larger monstrosities, and what on earth can the army do with STR 3 against a Tough 7 Talos?  What about a WraithKnight?  Absolutely zilch.  Could be a problem.  The answer?  The Scion Command can give a unit the order to switch ammo on their Hot shot Lasguns (only) and they now become a one-shot AP3 sniper with the pining rule!  This is absolutely fantastic because now when the Night Bringer or WraithKnight shows up and wants to tango, you can unload on him and actually wound him.  Big boys bearing down?  Change ammo is the order boys.  When the Webway portal opens up revealing the fearsome visage of the Talos, Imagine how surprised that Talos will be when he gets pummeled by our AP 3 pew pew guns.

Riptides (and DreadKnights for example), because they are a 2+ save, still remain a problem right?  And two meltas aren't going to be enough when you drop in even if he doesn't have the Intercept ability to bomb you out of existence.  Gonna' need help.  Well the Militarum Tempestus are up to any job and they can here again give an order which then allows them to change ammo; and now their weapons rend against vehicles or Monstrous Creatures.  So even the Riptides can face a torrent with Rending shots along with those Meltas.  Suddenly the unit of 8 Scions plus 2 Melta Scions can pump out 1.78 Rending hits plus 1.11 Melta wounds and imagine what Rending Plasma can do!  Thats probably 3 wounds on the drop from just the one squad.  So two squads can do a Riptide in quite unexpectedly with a little luck on the saves.  DreadKnights create a similar issue obviously.  Scions can execute some of these maneuvers and feats just as easily by jumping from their fast moving vehicles if they aren't deep striking.

So as you can see the Militarum Tempestus comes equipped to face any challenge using their excellent armory and their preparedness for any foe.

Most of their Warlord Traits are highly useful as well.  One makes the Warlord and his grenades/bombs Twin Linked, with Monster/Tank Hunter.  This would have been very useful in my last game where we got embroiled in a melee with a Furioso for three Combat phases.

Another Trait makes everyone stubborn within 12" of the Warlord which is great when the enemy comes screaming down upon you and there's no escaping them.  This makes the Commissar (if she's your Warlord) an effective 12" bubble instead of just his own unit.  Alternatively it takes away the sting of not having a Commissar if you chose not to have one.

The BEST Warlord trait is one that allows you to Re-roll reserves and to deep strike only D6" off target.  Hilariously, this did not seem to help when I mishap'd 4 different units.  Three ended up in the far corners of the board and the fourth went into ongoing reserves...  Nonetheless, this is an incredibly useful Warlord Trait and it's the one I always roll to get if I can.

 Another cool trait is the one that gives those within 12" an added +D6" range on their lasguns.  I have to say, that's a big deal for the short ranged strike force.

Not as cool is the +1 LD Warlord Trait upgrade.  Now keep in mind: the Clarion Voxnet all Scions are able to benefit from lets them use the Warlords LD for their various checks within 18".  So a 10 is huge, especially if the unit just lost a combat (and one can easily imagine this happening).  I have to say though, Scions get beaten relatively definitively in combat or they win.  There is rarely a lot of Scions in the in between.   This Warlord trait will help if you do not use the kind of list I do a lot more.  So I don't want to poo poo it too much.  It definitely is useful if you take a pure Militarum Tempestus force, with no outside help.  Otherwise, its probably one you'll want to re-roll for.

So you can see that the force is actually far more potent than their simple "We're an army of Storm Troopers" title would suggest.  it is a multifaceted strike force that relies on its commanders a great deal and with that thought I strongly recommend that you make sure you have at least three Militarum Tempestus Command Groups, which means probably using a separate detachment of them.  You can also use the Ground Assault Formation instead of another Combined Arms Detachment (CAD) if your tournament organizers are only allowing one CAD.

Now the Taurox prime is really worth mentioning.  I personally use the version that has a Taurox Battle Cannon and Twin-linked Autocannon on it.  After play testing this version ,it seems very reliable at whittling the enemy tanks down.  I generally hit three times per Taurox Prime, and at STR 7, AP 4, that's not a small thing.  Over the course of the first two turns that takes a real toll on peoples forces, especially if you are fielding a fair number of the little beasties.  Their three firing points on the sides allow quite a fusillade from within.  They aren't well armored and you are well advised to keep cover between you and the enemy whenever it's posible to do so while affording the enemy none, but having said that, they really do mount up the damage.  The Taurox Primes biggest feature is that they are Fast.  That means so much more in Maelstrom Missions.  They are all over the place in a heart beat. In normal missions this is no less important and what you find in playing them is that the Taurox Primes really do allow the rest of the army to kind of advance or Deep Strike around them for maximum support because the Command Groups are giving out the orders that the rest of the force needs so badly.

Militarum Tempestus actually reminds you somewhat of how much the Tau Empire can come to rely on its Markerlights to operate the way they are meant to.  A similar thing happens with these guys.  So long as the orders flow, the army has a good answer for everything.  But making sure you're in range to receive the orders is an issue, as it is for Tyranid Synapse.  The similarities kind of hit you as you learn to play the Militarum Tempestus force.  Don't ever underestimate the importance of your Command Groups and always protect them to the extent it is possible to do so.  This concern led me to completely change my armies original form after a couple games.  Whereas I had put an emphasis on protecting the Troops until they could spring their traps on the enemy, I quickly found out that without the Command Squads presence we had serious problems.

The trouble with Deep Striking the Command Squads in, which was the first idea I had, with lots of Meltas, was that they were not Objective Secured, and they WERE going to be put directly in harms way.  I was NOT going to be able to use their orders later when it mattered, or else not often enough.  Also, having them operate so far forward meant being far enough away at times from the troops they needed to give commands to, that it just wasn't always possible without moving the Taurox Primes into untenable situations.  So I ultimately abandoned this practice of putting the Command Squads far forward via Deep Strike..

My next thought was, how then do we make the command Squads available pretty much for SURE so that the troops would be supported.  The answer was to kick the troops out of their transports, put the command squads in and keep firing until the cavalry arrives.  This worked well but the Meltas being on the command squads were now rarely doing their definitive job.  Meanwhile the troops that were carrying the Volley Guns were now forced to Deep Strike in and this made the Volleyguns far less useful (since they volley).  So I switched the meltaguns to the normal Scions and the Volleyguns to the command Squads.  Same points, superior effect because now once a Taurox comes to rest, it isn't just an anti-tank platform but it worked kind of like the way Chimera Veterans did when they had all those Firing points.  This turned out to be a very good solution.

Now two Command Groups just was not enough orders flying around.  In order to make tournament organizers less unhappy, I decided to go with the Ground Assault Formation.  It consists of 4 Taurox, 1 Commissar, and four Militarum Tempestus units, all of which can roll for reserves as one.

This is not optimal since the Taurox are not Objective secured This way and this is not how i would prefer doing it.  But in the name of making sure I take only one CAD, one Allied Detachment and one other Detachment/Formation, I did it this way.  However, don't do it this way if you don't have to.  By far you are better off making your many troops Objective Secured.  Two Combined Arms Detachments and an Allied Detachment of Astra Militarum is the best solution because it eliminates the "fat" of the added Commissar which is a bit of a tax that rarely does anything for you but absorb wounds and at T3, it's not even really great at that job.  The point of the exercise is to end up with more than two Command Groups that can give Militarum Tempestus orders.

Below is the list as it has developed thus far using just the one Combined Arms Detachment and it is rather complicated to use.  The number of special rules, Psychic powers, War Hymms and orders is a bit bewildering at first, as is keeping track of which units are actually Objective Secured and which are not etc..  It would be very easy to get a bit befuddled trying to keep it all straight and I'd highly recommend having an easy way to account for all of it to remind you as you go whose got what on them.  This army was one of the reasons I started pulling my hair out and asking the question:  does just one CAD even make sense anymore?  This codex, and also grey Knights, both really force you to ask that question because they were really written with the 7th Edition Detachment structure in mind but TO's at the time of writing this, had not loosened the reins on the number of CAD's you can take.

Total Roster Cost: 1999

Combined Arms Detachment

         4 Tempestus Scions, + 4 Hot Shot Volley Guns
         1 Tempestor Prime

         4 Tempestus Scions, + Flamers x4
         1 Tempestor Prime

         7 Tempestus Scions (2 Melta Guns)
         1 Tempestor

         4 Tempestus Scions (Grenade Launcher)
         1 Tempestor

Allied Detachment

   Commissar Lord (Power Maul)

   1 Primaris Psyker (Mastery Level 2)
   1 Primaris Psyker (Mastery Level 2)
   1 Primaris Psyker

   1 Ministorum Priest
   1 Ministorum Priest
   1 Ministorum Priest

2 Hydras

      7 Veterans
      1 Veteran Sergeant
      1 Veteran Heavy Weapons Team(Missile Launcher + Flakk Missiles)
      1 Chimera

Militarum Tempestus Ground Assault Formation

       4 x Taurox Prime 

         1 Commissar

       4 Tempestus Scions, + Hot Shot Volley Guns x4
         1 Tempestor Prime

         7 Tempestus Scions (2 Meltaguns)
         1 Tempestor (Power Fist)

         7 Tempestus Scions (2 Meltaguns)
         1 Tempestor (Power Fist)

         7 Tempestus Scions (2 Meltaguns)
         1 Tempestor (Power Fist)

So what are we doing with this mess?

Well if it hasn't already occurred, the Priest+Psyker added to a Militarum Tempestus Squad makes the unit a fearsome melee combatant.  The Psykers are Divination Psykers, hoping for Forwarning but benefiting the units a great deal with all manner of the Divination powers.  Regardless of which Psyker powers you get, here's what you are looking at:  a unit that re-rolls to hits on the first round of combat (Priest), is effectively fearless (Zealot), re-rolls all its saves (War Hymn) and can use Forewarning to make them stand up to even a Furioso with their re-rollable 4+ (Forewarning power) Invul saves.  Without the priest, they can use Prescience for future rounds of combat.  The units with Priests and Psykers carry Power Fists, a Force Weapon (Psyker) and the Priest can Smash (STR 6 AP 2) if he's willing to skip the re-rolling of the units saves, while still going on normal INIT 3.  One can also equip the Psyker with the Force Mace or Force Axe if you wished; and of course, the Psyker can cast Force.  This is simply a very scary proposition for any enemy unit to be embroiled with because even if you can get through all that 4+ re-rollable save nonsense and do wounds, its dishing it out too.  If the enemy is truly impressive, have multiple Priests and/or Psykers join the unit and charge in as a supercharged force of nature.  Recently this happened and I defeated a unit containing Asdrubael Vect, an Archon AND their Incubi.  His mini Deathstar was very resilient as you might imagine, but the lowly Scions were able to take him out eventually.  Their victory will be sung about in the Scion Halls of Victory for many Aeons.

When not in close combat, the fact that the Zealous units won't run is strong.  Again given prescience, they can skip the Twin linking orders to take other orders and the Ground Attack Formation Twin links your weapons when you disembark!  Foreboding makes them incredibly potent on Overwatch, which I got to witness in one game.  Just the threat of that was more than enough to get the enemy to rethink even trying to engage me in melee in the first place.  Talk about a rock and a hard place.  That power saved two of my whittled Militarum Tempestus Squads from sure defeat in close combat because the enemy simply wasn't willing to risk hitting a unit with Foreboding on it that can fire that much and with that kind of AP.

The army has a few issues.  One is that by starting in the trucks, and having to wait for the Deep Strikers, then jumping out and joining to them, the Priest and Psykers must until then bide their time and run the risk of being too far away to join their appointed units if the battle situation calls for an immediate drop far from the Taurox Primes.  After all, you can only disembark if the vehicle moved 6".  Given that restriction its easy for you to see how the Militarum Tempestus units could get far afield despite our best efforts and not be able to be joined.  This is the primary tactical problem i have faced in my games.  Ultimately the same problem exists as existed before I switched out the Command Squads in the Taurox's.  Only now, its the Psykers and priests being left behind!  Ironic.  so some level of bravado is required to play this list no matter what you do. Risking the transports seems almost a given.  Shying from it early may keep the Taurox's alive and in some fights this is totally advised.  But when the chips hit the table and its time to count 'em up, its the troops that do the work and you gotta support them or they will fail their mission.  I have seen the price you pay if you do not and it was a lesson well learned.

I could write more on this but I'll let this much sink in and attack it again at another time.  Your thoughts are welcome on it, as I experiment and test.

Interested in Astra Militarum?  Astra Militarum stuff

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Night Lords Wrap up.

Readers know I love these fellas.  I DROPPED half my army and cried for a while, so I don't think I ever revealed its final form to you.  The form I am posting here was extremely successful, pretty much losing to just one force:  Flying Chaos Daemon Circus.  No shame in that!  Seems to be the bane of quite a few forces.

I covered most of the tactical thoughts in the recent blogs on it, but I will add that I found that fully deploying the Raptors was generally my best bet.  Deep Striking them only works with very wide open areas (though there is definitely a time and a place for it and the option to do so is nice).

I also have learned to respect the positive effects of Hammer of Wrath in breaking the enemy in charges. Though you will find Raptors to be average combatants (Hard to kill and competent at it) their big plus is the margin they can win by on the charge because they are so tough.   So you need all the hits you can get and Hammer of Wrath tends to push the unit over the top against some of the tougher melee combatants.

Obliterators played this way are money.  Mutilators played this way are money also.  They made ALL the difference in the world to my Chaos forces and I have been SO pleased with their performance.

The army is potent in Maelstrom missions, potent in normal ones.  Its one struggle is in KP missions, but the army does exchanges extremely well and so what looks on paper like a little bit of a vulnerable spot in that regard ends up not being as pronounced in games as i thought ti would be.  The enemy is usually either having to put several hundred points into getting one thing dead or they are spending several hundred points failing.  Both ways turn out well for me.

Melee is far from dead in 7E.  I'm enjoying the ride.

1996 Pts - Chaos Marines Roster - 2000 Night Lords

   1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

   1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

   1 Obliterator (Mark of Nurgle)

   4 Chaos Space Marines
      1 Aspiring Champion
      1 Chaos Rhino (Dirge Caster)

   4 Chaos Space Marines
      1 Aspiring Champion
      1 Chaos Rhino (Dirge Caster)

   4 Chaos Space Marines [BL] (Veterans of the Long War)
      1 Aspiring Champion (Veterans of the Long War)
      1 Chaos Rhino [BL], (Dirge Caster)

     1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

   1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

   1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

   1 Sorcerer (Mark of Nurgle + Melta Bombs + Increase Mastery Level x1 + Aura of Dark Glory)

   1 Chaos Lord [BL](Mark of Nurgle + Blight Grenades+ Melta Bombs+ Sigil of Corruption+ Combi-Meltagun + Gift of Mutation + Veterans of the Long War) + Chaos Bike
      1 The Eye of Night [BL]
      1 The Hand of Darkness [BL]

   13 Raptors (Mark of Nurgle+ Meltagun x2)
      1 Raptor Champion (Melta Bombs+ Mark of Nurgle+ Power Axe x1)

   13 Raptors (Mark of Nurgle+ Meltagun x2)
      1 Raptor Champion (Melta Bombs+ Mark of Nurgle+ Power Axe x1)

   1 Heldrake

Friday, September 12, 2014

A question to the readers.

I want to ask you a question.  As the Dataslatres like the Assassins and the Inquisition/Grey Knights split, you now have to have at least a CAD, Allied and an Assassins Detachment just to play your old list and for that matter to play some future competitive lists.

The LVO and BAO posted up what at the time was a "House Rule" type of thing for list construction However, their method is quite illegal by the books standard.  And moving forward now that the Grey Knights kind of shattered all their traditional allies away, should we expect that Dual CAD and the like will just simply have to be accepted?  Will two CAD's be enough?

As one who has more or less championed simplifying things and staying within the codex force org chart and maybe an allied Detachment, I now find that I simply cant do it that way.  the codex's and Dataslates plus supplements were clearly foreseen when 7E began allowing multiple detachments of various types.

Do you oppose multiple Detachments?  Do you have a limit?  or do we need to just move towards accepting that the rules is the rules?