Friday, 15 December 2017

Hobby update

I had 5 minutes to sit down at the hobby table the other day and realised that I have got only 2 more Death Company Marines to paint before the whole of the Eagle Knights Space Marine chapter is complete, all 2000+ points of it. This lead me to look at all the posts sitting in my draft folder and see that most of them are hobby updates as I have completed the various units of Knights but haven't posted as I have been busy on the Astra Militarum Codex review. At this point I went back and had a look at the review posts and I was shocked to find that I have basically been doing nothing but the review post since the end of September! The 25th to be precise. That's basically two and a half months of bombarding you with all my nonsense on the new codex! Well, its time to catch up with the rest of the hobby I think. As such I will be posting up a couple of battle reports, one from way back in September, which was a practice match for the Northern Invasion tournament that I did not end up attending (next year!) and something that I haven't even do a review post on. I will also post all the updates to the Knights, running through all the various squads and models that I have painted up for the army, which with the new BA codex, may well have to change again. I don't have the new codex yet, I maybe lucky to get it for Christmas or I may have to buy it in the new year, I'll have to see but I am really excited to get the knights on to the table top now that there all painted.

Now that the Knights are all painted the plan is to go back and redo any thing I need to do to the Hjaltland LI to bring it in line with the new codex, which I am hoping will include painting up a new model, namely an Ogryn Bodyguard for my Warlord. I may well have to paint up a few new models to cover the removal of priest and possibly commissars, although I still need to go through the list properly. I also intend on updating the Valkyrie paint scheme to add in some more camouflage to the green on the top, as suggested by a number of readers, probably by using a darker green or two to add some stripes or splodges, mostly to break up the solid colour that it currently is. After this I will start on the next project. This is where i'm a little torn, as I have two or three projects that I'm pretty keen on getting stuck in to.

The first option is to finish painting up the Dagr Ormr Militarum Tempestus force including the Hildasay PDF units. I have got a number of the Dagr Ormr painted up and the colour scheme is well established. The Hildasay PDF have, after a couple of test models, also received there colours, in there case it will be dark grey trousers and top, with a lighter grey vest and weapon, with black boots, pouches and other highlights, combines with a very pale looking skin tone, probably Pallid Wych Flesh as the final tone. This will tie into the fact that these are supposed to be a local PDF force from an overcrowed, totalitarian hive world, where there main operating environment is the inner and under hive, which are both urban (for the grey) and enclosed (pale flesh). The troops may now be attached to the Dagr Ormr and operation out of there normal environment, but they have retained there kit and look for the moment.

The second option is the Hrossey Yeomanry, with all of its armoured units. With the changes to 8th edition, LRBT's are now a very viable unit on the table top and I have been using them in quite a few games so far. So i'm thinking that it would be nice to get them all painted up properly and get them on to the table top in there entirety. I have a colour scheme in mind for the tanks and also for the various troop units as well, although there will have to be a fair bit of rejigging for the list before I can fully paint everything, as with the disappearance of the platoon structure, there will need to be a few changes to the list. This maybe by the inclusion of addition chimera, of which I still need to purchase one more anyway, or maybe by the addition of a new units or two. I am, as yet, undecided and will probably remain so until I decide to make these my main priority.

The final project that is on the list is a different sort of project as it will probably not see the battlefield much but is quite important to the fluff. The final idea is to get some of my Inquisition painted up, as its these guys that are driving the whole narrative forward and are the reason for my forces existing as they do. This is going to be the smallest of all the projects, as it consists of just a handful of models for each of the three inquisitors and I plan on just painting up one Inquisitor and there retinue for the moment. The biggest issue that I have though, is that in the new edition, Inquisitors, as far as I am aware, have lost the ability to take any form of armour apart from Flak armour, which is annoying, as both of my modelled Inquisitors are wearing power armour. The war band will also have to have some modifications, as they unit sizes and compositions have changed as well, but that should be fairly easy to deal with.

At the moment I am leaning towards doing the Inquisitor and his war band, mostly for the fluff and narrative perspective, as this is lacking somewhat on the table top, plus it will be something different from what I have been painting as there will be little uniformity to the units, with each model being a slightly different pattern and scheme to the others, although they will all follow a basic colour scheme in order to tie them all together. Each Inquisitor will have a primary colour that is shared by all their war band, so that the different war bands are not confused, but the secondary colours will be varied on all the models. One thing I'm confused about at the moment though, is how do you take an inquisitorial detachment as there are no troops?

Talking of the fluff, i really need to update my fluff for the 8th edition setting. Although my little war is set out in the segmentum Pacificus, an area that is on the fringes of the galaxy and also one that seems to be so what removed from the crisis, seeing as the great rift doesn't seem to extend far in to it, there will obviously be repercussions for the men and women of the Hamnavoe System.

The big issue at the moment is how to write in the Eagle Knights to the Baal conflict, as they are a BA successor and all but the Lamenters answered the call from Baal. I guess that the current company that is in my narrative will have been to far away to answer, but the rest of the chapter did. This will lead to a number of reinforcements arriving, as the remains of the chapter join the company, the last major fighting force of the Eagle Knights. How this occurs in game i don't know, as a lot will depend on the new codex. One thing is for sure though, for the moment, they will not be accepting the Primaris marines into there ranks, as they have a similar mentality to Gabriel Seth on the matter of the new marines.

I intended to write up a narrative for each battle i fought and forge it in to a grand narrative for the whole campaign and fluff but as yet i haven't done anything. I really need to find some time to update and catch up with everything, maybe I'll get some time in the New Year when the young lady starts nursery!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

chapter approved

So Chapter Approved 2017 is out and while i haven't purchased it, i have been gathering what info i can on it online. My initial assessment of CA17 is that it's pretty much a waste of money. Ok, so there are 6 new Eternal war missions and 6 new Maelstrom of war mission, which could be fun, i still haven't played half of the ones in the rule book yet. There are also some rules changes, 6 by the looks of it, which equates to about a page in the book and not worth buying the whole book for.

We have already seen a preview of two of the new rules. One, that all troops in battle forged detachments now get objective secured, which brings them inline with the various codices available. The second rule is that to determine first turn you both roll, but the person who finished setting up first gets a +1 to there roll. Both are fairly basic and not game changing. The other two rules are that you cannot use your command re-roll to affect "mission dice". Basically, you can't use a command point before the beginning of the very first turn, so no using it for stealing the initiative or for seeing if the game ends on turn 5. Finally, there is the fact that the restrictions for targeting a character have been tightened up. This is probably the biggest change and is designed to stop some of the line of sight nonsense that people have been using. Now, you cannot target a character unless they are the closest, regardless of whether you can see other units or not. The last "new" is that understrength units can now only be taken in an Auxiliary Support Detachment. I don't know anyone who takes  understrength units and don't know why you would want to, but the option is still there, just more  restricted now. In addition to these rules, there is also the "boots on the ground" rule, but this isn't really a new rule, its just put into a proper book now.

The meat of the new book is taken up with updates for the various armies that don't have a codex yet, giving each a warlord trait, stratagem and relic. In addition there are also points updates for pretty much all the armies, including the Guard. So, the majority of the book is new missions or updates to armies i don't have. All I would be buying the book for is a page of rules and half a page of points updates. Even for the price it is, it still doesn't make sense to me, especially as i have found the points changes other places.

Having decided not to buy the book and getting the points cost changes elsewhere, what are the changes?

astropath - 15 to 30
A big price hike for a unit that I don't think is very good to begin with. At 15 points it could be worth taking one or two, at this price i don't think it is.

conscripts - 3 to 4
I get the feeling that GW do not like conscripts. With the previous changes and now this points change, conscripts are basically dead. When you can now combine two infantry squads to do the same thing better for the same price, it makes conscripts pretty useless.

manticore - 125 - 135
Not a massive change and won't cause to much of an issue for most people and is also the kind of points adjustment i would have expected. It gained power points with the codex, so not surprised to see it gain points as well.

Primaris Psyker - 28 to 38
The power of smite is being felt somewhat here. These payments were cheap for what they could do and a points increase is not surprising. Still a useful unit, even with the price hike.

Ratlings - 5 to 7
Now this is more of a problem. This price rise now means that a basic unit is 10 point more expensive, that's two ratlings. That's a big difference in terms of men and output. I guess that this shows the damage that sniper's can do and how effective this unit can be.

Taurox - 40 to 50
They are obviously struggling to find the right points balance for the taurox. It started as 55, dropped to 40 and now is back up to 50. Hopefully this will be the final points change. I'm not sure if this is a good points value for them or not as i don't have any or run any.

Taurox Prime - 65 to 80
Again, this has had a few points changes, unfortunately they have all been upwards. This is units a points jump though and when you put on the various weapon loads, the point keep going up. I feel that this may see more points changes in the future, although probably not anytime soon.

Wyvern - 85 to 95
I can't say I'm surprised by a point hike here, the wyvern is still a great unit. It still excels at taking out low toughness units and is still useful for other infantry units, although i think it still needs an ap modifier. This 10 point hike does nothing to the usefulness or effectiveness of the unit. Still a good price for what it does.

Tempest Command Rod - 0 to 5
This surprises me, as although you get an extra order from this, you have to give up shooting. 5 points isn't much but i do still deal that its a little bit too much of a price hike, especially as the other options are mostly cheaper.

Force stave - 12 to 8
This is one of the few drops in points and means that the primaris psyker's price hike isn't quite as bad as it was. It means that in reality it's only a 6 point hike overall, which is easier to handle.  I'm not sure why they have done this as there are no other options for the primaris psyker's and none of the other psychic units use it either. Why they didn't just raise the primaris by 6 point and call it done, i don't know.

Power Fist - 10 to 8
Personally i don't think this goes far enough. Even with the extra strength granted by a fist, it's still not a good choice for a guard character. I think that if it was dropped inline with the other power weapons then it might become a good option but until then i don't think it is.

Autocannon - 15 to 12
Another of the points reductions and one i do like, mostly as i use a lot of autocannons. These are my go to heavy weapon and so i will benefit from this reduction as it will offset some of the other points rises. I don't know why they have decided to reduce this weapon but it does have some benefits. It will benefit the taurox's, as if you take this option it will lessen the points rises there, especially considering the next item on this list.

Hot-shot Volley gun - 6 to 7
a slight points rise for these weapons. Given the rise in points to both plasma guns and meltas, I'm a little surprised that they raised this too. I didn't think that scions were underpriced enough to have to have all their special weapons marked up in price, but it seems to be going that way. I still think that the volley gun is a good choice for the points, but it is a shame that it's still a heavy type weapon.

Melta gun - bs4+ 12 / other 17
So it happened to plasma guns, now it's happened to meltas to. Why? Not to sure, you are after all paying more for the greater BS in the first place, so i don't get why you need to pay so.much more for the weapon. Anyway, this is going to hurt vets and scions but this still remains one of the best anti vehicle\monster guns in the guards armoury.

Taurox Gatling cannon - 18 to 20
Not only did the taurox prime get a price hike but so to did it's cheapest weapon option. These things are getting expensive now. Granted they are still a very effective vehicle with good amounts of firepower but your definitely having to pay for it. I expect more points changes for the prime in the future, how much or when is anybody's guess, but probably CA18

Vanquisher Battle Cannon - 25 to 20
This adjustment makes sense to me. It's a one shot a turn weapon, not including grinding advance, and is at the bottom of the pile of LRBT weapons options. It's a good weapon but it's pricey for its low output. I would like to see another 5 points drop but I'm happy that it's got a drop. A good weapon, now at a more reasonable price.

There are a few changes here, not as many as some got, but still quite a few. Most of them are reasonable changes, addressing some of the basic teething problems that come with a new edition, so however seem a little over the top. Conscripts for example, with all the other changes was a points increase really necessary? The points for both taurox versions seem to be a problem. Hopefully this will be the last major change there for a while, although i think the prime is now over priced but i don't have any, so i don't really know. The other big looser i think is the lowly ratlings. Although it's only a couple of points, it's a big price hike for them. I didn't hear much about them before and i think will her even less now but I'll still try them out and see how they play. Overall, i don't think the changes are anything we need to worry about and will not change the game or the way guard are played, with the exception of conscripts maybe but i have a feeling that won't upset many people!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Codex: Astra militarum - my armies

Hjaltland LI.
The Hjaltland LI have been  my go to army for the last two editions, since I got back in to the game. In this time they have evolved but overall they have remained along a similar structure, that of an infantry based army. The latest incarnation on the force and the one that has been used for the longest period consists of numerous infantry models, two flyers and 2 wyverns. This is a pretty short list of units but it still means that choosing what doctrine to use is not as easy as it first appears. When we look through the list, there is only one that can be discounted straight away, that of the Militarum Tempestus, as it only applies to the Scions and would give nothing to a force of Guard. So that leaves us with 7 choices. The Catachan doctrine is probably the next to get dismissed, as although this does give the benefit of +1 leadership and also the option to re-roll the number of attacks for the vehicles, the rest of the doctrine and the stratagem and order are not going to be very useful to the force, neither is the relic. So that leaves 6. The Armageddon doctrine is on the face of it a good one, as it give a greater range for the rapid fire lasguns, of which there are quite a lot, however, with no transports in the force, both the order and stratagem are useless. The relic and warlord trait are not as bad, but I don't see much of a place for either in the force. The Tallarn doctrine is also not really suited to the force, with the order being a tank order and having no tanks, and the doctrine itself being more geared towards vehicles and the wyvens wont be moving, so wont gain any advantages from it.. The Stratagem could be useful but it doesn't really fit in with the play style of the force.

This leaves 4 options; Cadian, Vostroyans, Mordian and Valhallans. While all of these would work for the force, some are better than others. The Cadian doctrine would work well, as the force has a large number of static elements, which would benefit from the bonus to "Take Aim", but as i'm not bringing tanks, the order will be redundant. However, the stratagem and the relic would work well with the army. The added bonus to using Cadian is that I could use Creed as my warlord, something that I have done a lot in the past, to great success. So Cadian in an option. The Vostroyan doctrine is also a good choice, as the added range to most weapon systems is useful, giving the ability to out renage most other armies on the board. The stratagem, relic and order are also good and would be very useful for the army, especially the relic to keep the warlord alive longer. After initially discounting the Vostroyan doctrine, I am now quite a fan of it. The Mordian doctrine is another option, although I think it is one of the weaker options on the final list, as it really only affects overwatch, although the leadership bonus is good. Athough the stratagem and relic are good, I think there are better ones out there and the order is quite situational and cant be used on the best weapons, such as the heavy weapons. So although the Mordian doctrine is good, i think that i will not be using if for the Hjaltland LI. The last doctrine to look at is the Valhallan doctrine. With the Valhallans doctrine, it affects moral and damage to vehicles, both of which are useful traits. The stratagem however is completely useless, but at least the relic and order are pretty good. So what do I do? Caidan for more reliable shooting, Vostroyan for longer range or Valhallan for better moral? Not sure really, I think I may have to have a few games with each to really get an idea of what I want to use but at the moment I am leaning towards the Cadian doctrine, the Vostroyan Doctrine a close second.

Hrossey Yeomanry
The Hrossey Yeomanry is split in to two distinct parts, the infantry based part and the armoured based part. I'll start with the infantry based part of the list, mostly due to the fact that which doctrine to take is pretty clear. The doctrine in question is the Armageddon doctrine. The reasons why are clear, the infantry units are all based in chimera's, and while the doctrine itself does not do anything specific for mechanised infantry, although both the extra rapid fire range and reduced damage to vehicles do help, the order "Mount Up" and stratagem 'Armoured Fist" both help a lot. With all of these elements taken into account, the Armageddon doctrine is the best one for a mechanised infantry unit and therefore the best for the Hrossey Yeomanry.

But what about the armoured part of the list? Well, this is a little bit harder to pin down. There really are only 3 doctrines that help out an armoured list, these being Tallarn, Valhallan and Cadian. I'll start with the Cadian doctrine, as there are only two main reason for including this in the list. Firstly, Pask. Now Pask is a big force multiplier and a 2+ to hit is always going to be a good thing on a LRBT. The Cadian order is also a very good tank order. In addition the relic and stratagem are also useful, as is the doctrine itself. However, the doctrine does not do anything specifically for the tanks themselves and this is where I think that the other two doctrines come in to there own. The Tallarn Doctrine and order give a significant boost to the LRBT's, giving extra movement and greater fire power/efficiency and the stratagem allows for a good option for deployment. This means that that over all the tanks are faster and hit harder, something that you want from you tanks. With the extra movement on the order being key as it enables you to use the full grinding advance rule and still get your full movement. On the other side of the coin you have the Valhallan doctrine. Now this does not do anything for movement and does not give an additional tank order, but what it does do is keep your tanks firing at full efficiency for the majority of the time they will be on the table. For a LRBT, this means dropping 9 wounds off the vehicle before it starts to degrade its BS and movement, not an easy task with a T8 12 wound model with a good 3+ save. So the real issue is whether to take the Vahallan doctrine for extra resilience or Tallarn doctrine for extra movement. Personally as the tanks are going to be supporting the infantry and not out on there own, I am leaning towards the extra resilience to keep them firing better for longer.

Dagr Ormr MT with Hildasey PDF
Well this is going to be two detachments straight from the off, as there are units of both Militarum Tempestus and also Imperial Guard. The choices for which doctrines to run for each is very different. For the Dagr Ormr is obvious and easy, they will be run using the Militarum Tempestus doctrine. I'll not go to deeply into​ the reasons, as they should be fairly obvious, they are after all a Militarum Tempestus force.

The Hildasey PDF on the other hand do not present such an obvious choice. There role will be to sit back and give supporting fire, mostly from heavy weapons teams, So that in itself limits the number of doctrines they are going to  a be useful and  I when we look through all the options, were are really only left with Cadian, Valhallan, vostroyan and Mordian. While the Valhallan doctrine could be useful, there is one drawback to it. Most of the units will be heavy weapons teams, consisting of 3 models and Ld6. Now this means that loosing a model forces a moral test but it will only fail on a 6. Most of the time you'll not need any moral boosts, as you'll either be fine or you'll be destroyed. Therefore the Valhallan doctrine is not a good option for the force. The Mordian doctrine is also one that on closer inspection is not a great option, as although it does offer some good bonuses, it does have one big drawback​for heavy weapons squads and that is placing them in base to base. With infantry units, you can string them out but still be in base to base, with 3 60mm bases this is not quite so easy, especially when your in ruins. This means that you could be severely restricting you deployment options for a bonus that you may not use. So that leaves use with Cadian and Vostroyan doctrines. Both of these are going to be good options, with the extra range of the Vostroyans being very useful to the likes of mortars and heavy bolters but the re-rolls from the Cadians will be useful to all units. When you consider all the other bits and pieces, the Cadians seem to edge ahead, with a better stratagem and more useful relic, but i think that the Vostroyan doctrine will actually be the better doctrine. I will however try running both of them over time and see which is best.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Codex: Astra militarum - closing thought

So, we come to the end of a (very) long review of the new Astra Militarum codex. While I have given my thoughts on the various bits and pieces as I have been through them, but I have not given my overall thoughts on the whole thing. Now I have been through it all, I have a very different impression of the codex.

When i first started writing this post, i thought that it would be simple, just a case of sticking down a few opinions and then moving on, but in reality there is so much to this book, that it's actually quite hard to sum it all up. The book has some really powerful combinations, as evident by tournament results and also the big need bat that GW keep swinging. Then there is Chapter Approved to add in to the mix as well. I real do like this book, it has finally added in the extra flavour that i remember from 2nd and 3rd editions of the codex, although i do wish they had brought back some of the special characters. However, there are a few things that aren't so great as well but I'll get to them in due course.

First up though are the good things and there really is only one place to start, Regimental Doctrines. I have been wishing for these since i got back in to 40k at the very end of 5th. To return and find that there was but one choice of guard was a little disappointing. Granted since my time playing 2nd and a bit of 3rd, i had watched models disappear, save Catachans and Cadians but realising that there was no difference in play style was a let down. With the introduction of chapter tactics, hope grew and now we have the reality and it's everything i hoped for, apart from the models. They really have put some effort in to getting the fluff to match up with the tabletop as well, with the benefits of the doctrines roughly matching up with the stories. There are a couple that are a little odd but on the whole i think its a job well done.

Of all the doctrines, whilst there is choice, there also isn't any. Bare with me on this and I'll explain. Look at it this way, if you want to run a MechVet style list, then the only real option is the Armageddon doctrine, if you want to run a gun line, then it's Cadian or Mordian. tank heavy Valhallan, scions? Well Militarum Tempestus. Combat? Catachan. You get the picture. Each doctrine is geared towards a specific type of warfare and there is no one size fits all doctrine. Yes, each doctrine does have something for both vehicles and infantry, but some are clearly better than others, is this a bad thing? No, not at all. It just means that your going to have to run multiple detachments to get the most out of things. I think this is how things should be, the guard after all are not a true combined arms force, everything is split up and segregated.

Of all the doctrines my favourite has to be so far is, rather surprisingly, the Vostroyan doctrine. At first, i didn't really think that this would be any good at all, but having thought about it and played around with the numbers in my head, i have come to this rather surprising conclusion. The while regiment works, from the extra range you get, through to the order, Repel the Enemy, and the stratagem, First Born Pride. Ok, so the warlord trait, Honoured Duelist, isn't great but the relic is awesome. The Armour of Graf Tuschenko is an excellent relic and will make quite a difference to your warlords survivability. I really didn't think that the Vostroyans would be something i would look towards but it really is.

The other regiment that i think works well is the Mordians. Again, a surprise, as it's not one of the first regiments i would have thought off but with the doctrines bonus and the abilities of the orders and stratagems, plus the relic's abilities means that they are a very good option for most armies. Having said that, the other regiments are still good and i do like the Armageddon and Cadian regiments as well, both of which have good options for orders, stratagems and relics. Although the Armageddon warlord trait is not one of my favourites.

However, i have to say that despite the book getting a great big thumbs up from me, there are some glaringly obvious issues. There are two really big ones that stick out, the first being the nerf to commissars. It seems like a massive knee jerk reaction and a poorly thought out one at that but it's not the end of the world. There are other options that can do the same thing, so we'll just have to try them for the moment. The real big one though is "Send in the Next Wave". Wow, what a cock up that is. I don't think anyone at GW really thought this through properly. I can understand having to pay for this ability, but paying twice, if not three times for it is just stupid. You have to spend command points for the ability and reinforcement points for the respawned unit, which means your at a disadvantage to start with. I mean, what if you enemy never actually finished off a unit? No, it was a stupid way to run it. It should have been a 3cp stratagem or a one use army rule, not a combination. I don't think it will stop people playing Valhallan's, simply because the rest of the doctrine is so good, but it definitely leaves a taste in the mouth.

Now, one thing i have to mention is that of all the regiments, there is one regiment that i think really got the short straw in almost every respect and it's not the Militarum Tempestus, no it's the Catachans. Now, i can complain to much as they really are true to the fluff but on the table top I think that they have taken a bit of a hit. Now, Catachans are my favourite guard models and pretty much all my models are Catachans, mostly as pretty much everyone seems to have Cadians. Unfortunately the Catachans have drawn the short straw in terms of doctrines, orders, stratagems and relics. The doctrine grants an extra point of strength, not a bad bonus for combat. The order gives a bonus to flamers, with there 8 inch range. The stratagem inflicts mortal wounds if your charged in terrain, and the relic is a power sword, but useful if your charged or in combat. Sensing a theme here? To make the most of the catachan regiment you need to be in charge range or in combat. They do get re-rolls for randon / Xd6 shot weapons and a +1 leadership bonus as well, but these are secondary to the other traits really. I get that there needs to be a close combat orientated army and it makes a lot of sense that the Catachans are that army, but, as they are my army of choice, I feel that it will push them further to the margins of the guard and we will see even less of them on the table than we did before. I well probably not be using the Catachan regiment at all, as I don't run a combat orientated army and I don't know anyone who really does and I haven't seen any on any of the YouTube batreps that I occasionally watch. Its a shame that they have gone this way, but I do understand why they have, but I still don't like it.

Overall, I have to say that I think they this codex is great, it has all the options we need to really put together both strong and fluffy forces. We have seen that the Guard are not a top table army, something they haven't been for years, not since the Leaf Blower lists of early 5th edition. There has been a lot of take about Conscripts and Commissars, but there are a whole lot of other really good units in the book and pretty much everything is playable these days. I am really looking forward to getting some games under my belt and really getting to grips with all the new doctrines and stratagems. Next up, I will be looking at they various guard armies that I currently own and seeing how the new book is going to change the way they are formed and fight.