If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember I started a Dark Angels army at the end of 2017. I never quite finished the initial plan at the time… until this month! I was challenged to finish off a project, and this was the one I chose; painting all of the banners, the last HQ, and last squad needed to round things out to a battalion. It feels good to finish off a project – but now I’m inspired to expand it even more ? thankfully I already have a load of Oldstartes kits in the cupboard that can be used!
···

I’m not getting the finish and smoothness I want with this Magus, so I think I’m going to use it as a colour scheme sketch and start over. It doesn’t help that my eyes are really struggling to focus on details today ?
···

Can’t remember the last time I painted an Ultramarine. Possibly 20 years ago! Experimenting with some of the techniques I’ve been learning on the @alfonso_giraldes_banshee and @thechromaticcircle painting academy Patreon. I definitely need more practice, and this needs refinement, but it was nice to have a brush in my hand after weeks of nothing but work!
···

If – like me – you were eying up the Volkite Weapon Kits from Forge World as a means of expanding the Betrayal At Calth box set, but we’re dismayed to find them sold out and “no longer available” (as opposed to “Temporarily out of stock”), then fear not!

Forge World have your back, according to a reply I got when I asked about the missing kits:

image

Not only will the weapons coming back in an improved form, but other kits will be getting a refresh, along with new accessory packs.

I have none, because we haven’t seen enough full information – in context – to make any informed opinions.

And neither have you. I get it, change is scary. But stop whining on the internet about AoS before you have all the information. Please? It’ll make the transition much more pleasant for you, me, and everyone else.

I’m flabbergasted by how quickly it all went from “ok, this looks like it could be fun and interesting,” to “ZOMG! The sky is falling! F-you GW! This is the most ridiculous and crappy game EEEEHHHVVAR!

And it hasn’t even been officially revealed yet. Careful; your knee is jerking so hard you might do yourself an injury.

I do have one final, parting thought to leave you with:

If you want a balanced, tournament-friendly (and 1st-party supported!) Fantasy massed-battle game that plays like a “Warhammer 9th” – basically what everyone complaining the loudest seems to be lamenting Age of Sigmar is not – then I humbly suggest you go check out Kings of War. 2nd Edition is right around the corner, with the beta rules available for free download. A number of Warhammer Fantasy armies port over to KoW with little-to-no modification or need to buy new models. It’s fast, deceptively simple, fun, well written, and actively supported. If you’re up in arms about AoS, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

Last year I backed the Games and Gears Battle Board Kickstarter. At the time, the estimated turnaround to get backers their boards was expected to be around May (so I figured it would be summer, at the latest). I was looking forward to getting a detailed gaming surface which I could use for playing Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000 on, much cheaper than the comparatively bland Realm of Battle board by Games Workshop.

I built a table to support the board, made some scenery to play with, and then… waited. By this time I’d found an interest in Dropzone Commander, so I ordered an extra, small version of their speciality board for playing that on.

In Mid-May, Mother Nature happened – a big flood hit the factory where the boards were being produced, and understandably delaying the project. No bother, G&G were still saying we’d have our boards in July, which fit right in with my “summer” estimate. Only, it didn’t happen.

Update after update followed, and the shipping date slippedThen it slipped againAnd again. Sometimes with no acknowledgement until after the fact. In the end, G&G stopped trying to give us estimated shipping dates. The main reason given seemed to be “we haven’t been able to take any good pictures of the boards yet.” What the heck did that have to do with getting the product into the hands of backers?

Then we had a revelation: the entire product had been redone. Redesigned, remade, and repainted. This was why things had taken so much longer than had been said at the time of the delay. If this had been communicated early, when the dates started slipping, with an explanation as to why it was being done, then I guess I would have welcomed the upgrade to what I had ordered. Instead, I was annoyed.

And so we come to today. The first batch of boards are being loaded onto a ship in China. From there it will be roughly 30 days at sea, then a week or so to sort them out and deliver when they get to the UK. Great. Only they’re shipping them in batches by theme – and the theme I ordered is last. The current hope for that one is end of February. So I might see it by April, along with my extra board?

I know this is all part of the risk of Kickstarter projects, and to be fair, the Games & Gears team have had some to deal with a situation you can’t really plan for, and have no doubt learned a lot and would do many things differently if they could. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. I’ll get my board one day, but the excitement in the anticipation of it has gone. I don’t want to bash them too much for what’s happened, due to the nature of the disaster, but I’ll be very reluctant to consider backing any of their future Kickstarter projects.

The Rumour Mill has been frothing for months about a “revised” version of 40K 6th Edition. In the last couple of days there have been leaks from White Dwarf Weekly confirming it was happening – and it appears to be a whole new edition.

Obviously, this is the Internet, and specifically, this is the online 40K community. Where previously we had people saying we needed a revision/new edition to “fix the imbalance,” “add clarity [about what is/isn’t official],” “make the game fun again,” etc, etc, etc… we now have much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The sky is falling! This is the “death” of 40K! It’s a “money grab.” Insert your favourite Games Workshop hate here!

Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up. Ask for a new edition; get a new edition; complain there’s a new edition.

Some cheese with your whine?
Some cheese with your whine?

So what do we know about what’s coming? Two main things:

  1. There’s a “new” psychic phase, just like the magic phase in Warhammer Fantasy.
  2. You now have the option of building your army in one of two ways: “Bound” (which uses the Force Organisation Chart), or “Unbound” which is a free-for-all, take whatever you want affair.

That’s pretty much all of the interesting details we know. If you want my opinion (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t) these are awesome changes to 40K. Why?

Psychic Phase

I hate the current implementation of psychic powers in the game. Having to remember to use different powers at different times in different phases is a massive pain in the hoop. Not using psychics right can lose you a game, yet at the moment they’re so fiddly that it’s all too easy to forget them until it’s too late.

I put “new” in quotes above because a dedicated psychic phase is not unheard of in 40K. We had one in 2nd Edition, and while it added an extra phase to the game, it was beautifully straightforward and it worked. I realise that at least half the player base isn’t old enough to have played with a dedicated phase, and so it’s a big, scary change… but trust me on this: the game will have one less potential point of frustration.

The FOC (or lack of it)

For years and years and years, players have been complaining they can’t field certain “fluffy” armies on the table because the force-org restrictions wouldn’t let them (think Space Marine “Reserve Companies” and the like). Guess what? You just got your wish. Got the points for it? By the sounds of things now you can take it in an “Unbound” list. What was the first complaint about this change? That it would be the death of fluffy armies. Seriously.

If you’ve been paying attention to Jervis Johnson’s column in White Dwarf, he’s been telegraphing such a change for months.

The one fair criticism which could be levelled at this change is that it opens the door for all sorts of spam-list abuses. Is that a game issue, or a player issue? Has everyone lost sight of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”?

Not to mention, we haven’t got any details of the “bonuses” given to Bound (FOC-using) lists. These could still turn out to be an equaliser.

If you’re playing amongst your good friends then sure, take that ridiculous list as a one-off, for the lolz. But taking it to your FLGS for a pick-up game? That makes you That Guy. What do we always say? Don’t be That Guy.

As for tournaments, I imagine they’ll be Bound-List-only, perhaps without the bonuses, depending how the chips fall on those. That way no one has to get their knickers in a twist any more than they do nowadays. It’ll be the same 40K the Internet Community have been anticipating the death of for more than a decade.

In a nutshell, I like this change because it brings so much freedom to the game. I can have a load of fun playing more-or-less what I want, without having to tick boxes on an FOC that’s grown to sprawl over an A3 page when printed… if I want to. Or I can have fun playing with a “cohesive” army and reap some in-game benefits for doing so. The choice will be mine to play the game how I want. GW have actually written into the rules what they’ve been trying to tell us for years: have fun, playing the game your way. We won’t know for sure until the rulebook hits the shelves, but as I said on twitter yesterday, 7th Edition sounds like it’s going to be a hoot to play.

Bloodspire Cover Art

Addendum: My Wishlist for 7th Edition

If I can wishlist for a moment, here’s some more changes I’m hoping to see in 7th Edition:

  • Less “Ignores Cover” – at the moment, there are far too many ways to apply IC, which essentially makes cover useless as a game mechanic. No cover makes it harder for assault armies to do their thing. Would need to be an Errata item for existing codexes though.
  • Less low AP – massed AP3/AP2 is too common, and exacerbates the prevalence of Ignores Cover, making anything without an Invuln save far too squishy.
  • No more random charge distance – seriously, I hate this bit of 6th. I need no other justification other than it just feels stupid to play.
  • Special Rules do not affect Allies, unless specifically noted – 80% of shenanigans gone in one fell swoop.
  • Assault from Deep Strike – would make for some epic moments, and would be a significant boost for assault armies. Definitely of benefit if Ignores Cover remains as-is.

I doubt any of these will happen, but a guy can dream, right?

This is part 2 in a look at the changes to our hobby I have witnessed since my return at the start of the year. You can find part one, which looks at the changes in game-play here: On Returning to Warhammer 40000 – The Game. This part is a bit more ranty.

By far the biggest change I’ve noticed is in the general attitude and culture surrounding the game. In many senses it feels less like a hobby, and more like a competition. There seems to be a “win at all costs” mentality in a large section of the gaming community. I don’t want to sound like someone espousing about the “good old days”, but I find, particularly amongst the younger players things are a lot less friendly than they used to be.

Everywhere I look I see people asking for advice on building lists to beat their local “meta” (WTF?) – what happened to playing the game for the enjoyment of playing the game? I get that winning is fun, but it’s not everything in Warhammer 40000. Our game is as much about telling stories as it is about playing to win. It’s why I’m so glad to see the focus on “Telling a Narrative” in the new rulebook.

By all means, play to win, but if your opponent hasn’t still enjoyed him/herself while losing, then you’ve both failed in my opinion.

TrollFace
Trolls. Don’t feed them.

Another cultural change I’m not so keen on is the rumour-mill on the Internet, and the general sense of… entitlement that the more vocal side of the community displays. So you don’t like a miniature? That doesn’t necessitate a profanity-riddled screed about how the model sucks, GW sucks, you’re never going to spend another penny on their products again, an you could have done so much better while blindfolded and with both arms cut off… and so on, and so on. Put your toys back in the pram. Don’t buy the miniature – or, if for some reason you are “forced” to – convert it; change it to suit your tastes. Just stop complaining about it. Likewise, when a rumour turns out to be off the mark, don’t get all tetchy. It was just a rumour, after all!

Relatedly, your army (or an opposing army) is not “broken”. It may need a rules update as we’re in a new rule set, but that doesn’t mean it’s unbeatable, or can’t be won with. Every codex has its faults, for sure, but nothing that can stop you enjoying the game if you don’t let it. View any such “brokeness” as challenges to be met, and a test of your skill as a player. If you can overcome a “broken” army then you can take comfort in knowing you are better than any of the faceless complainers out there.

I dislike “mathhammer” as a way of proving something is awesome or that something sucks. If you’re spending your hobby time working out a stream of maths over the chance or likelihood something will win you your next game, then it’s not a hobby any more. Take what you’re drawn to (my armies mainly consist of what I want to paint), and just play it. Leave the maths for professional poker players!

Right, now I’ve got that out of my system, it’s not all bad, I must say. The hobby is bigger than ever. I can get tips and feedback from like minded people all across the world. I have access to a whole raft of information which just wasn’t available before.

The things I’ve noted a dislike for above are merely the dark side of the passion 40K inspires in its fans. It’s the same passion which drives us to spend hard-earned money and countless hours slaving over our miniatures and army lists. Properly channelled, that passion is what leads to amazingly painted armies and miniatures, brilliantly fun games and camaigns, and what ultimately brings players like myself back to the game after so much time away… and that is no bad thing.

I have been out of the hobby for a long time. This was made clear to me when I realised the majority of the regular players at the local Games Workshop store weren’t even born (or were still in nappies) when I last rolled the dice in anger.

2nd Edition Books

When I last played properly, Warhammer 40,000: 2nd edition was still the dominant ruleset (3rd had just come out when I put down my heavy flamer template). Dark Eldar were brand new. Necrons only had about 3 models in the entire line. Space Marines consisted of: Ultramarines, Blood/Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and miscellaneous. Sisters of Battle had their own codex, and it was good. Templates were bigger. Wargear came as cards. We needed dice with more than 6 sides. The world – and the game – was a very different place.

Change is inevitable, particularly if anything is to survive as long as Warhammer 40000 has. 25 years is a long stretch for what is realistically a niche game/hobby. Off the top of my head, here are just a few things which are entirely new to Warhammer 40,000, from my perspective:

  • Tau
  • Grey Knights having a codex entry (with points costs), never mind an entire codex
  • The Force Organisation Chart
  • Deep Strike/Reserves
  • Missions, objectives, warlord traits, etc.
  • Flyers

Other notable changes include most special rules (sniper, feel no pain, eternal warrior, and so on), completely revamped movement rules, cover working completely differently, close combat (sorry, “assault”) changes… I could go on all day, to be honest!

Some of this change is good. Assault is generally a lot quicker and more streamlined when compared to 2nd edition. No more (as an example) Space Marine assault squads with 10 different weapon combinations, due to itemisation streamlining. Less rediculous weapon effects – prime example being armour penetration against vehicles (D20 + D4 + D6 + 10 for a chainfist… don’t even get me started on lightning claws!). Many parts of the game are more sensible than those of old. The FOC is a brilliant addition to the game in my view.

Other changes I am on the fence about… generally because it seems at times I’m rolling dice for the sake of rolling dice. Random charge/run lengths are the first thing which comes to mind. The various  terrain tests are another. Random missions, random deployment types, randon warlord traits, random psykic powers, random special rules and effects, objectives… on average I find it can take around 20 minutes of faffing about rolling on various tables and setting up stuff (other than my army) before I actually get to play the game. While on the one hand it leads to more varied games, on the other it takes an unnecessary length of time in my view.

One thing I have an impression of – and correct me if I’m wrong – is that overall, points costs are lower than before. This might be why games seem to be a lot bigger than I remember. Time was you’d have ~2 squads, a character, and a cheapish vehicle in an average game (1000-1500 points or so). Now I’m seeing games with scores of infantry, a couple of characters, multiple vehicles and creatures, all at around the same points level as before. The jury is still out on whether I see this as a positive change.

Nightfighting I hate with the heat of a thousand burning suns! But that’s just because I’ve never really wrapped my head around it in a way that doesn’t have me reaching for the rule book every 5 minutes.

Originally this post was a lot longer, and took a look at the cultural changes I’ve seen within the hobby since my return, but I decided it would be best to split this off into its own post, which you can read here: On Returning to Warhammer 40000: The Culture.

Last weekend I read the latest Horus Heresy novel from Graham McNeill and Black Library: Angel Exterminatus. What follows is a quick review. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, so don’t go into much depth about the plot.

Angel Exterminatus focusses on the the Iron Warriors legion and their Primarch, Perturabo. Although they are the main protagonists, the plot is setup and driven by another Primarch, Fulgrim, and the Emperor’s Children legion. Also making an appearance are 2 Eldar, and a few battered “loyalist” Space Marines.

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 – and the Horus Heresy in particular – will be lured into Angel Exterminatus by the promise of finding out more about Perturabo and the Iron Warriors. Up to now they have been typecast as rather mundane, if somewhat psychotic bullies. They’re the go-to guys when you have to besiege some fortress in a crawl-through-the-mud, ground-pounding war of attrition – as opposed to the other legions who grab all the glory for daring strikes into the heart of enemy territory. Beyond this stereotype their background hasn’t really been filled in much, leaving us thinking they’re pretty boring, bitter, and only concerned with blowing things up with the biggest gun possible.

What we learn from Angel Exterminatus is a very different picture. The Iron Warriors and Perturabo become interesting, multi-faceted characters. Perturabo is an master craftsman and artisan who can (and does) design and build devices and architecture of dazzling skill and intricacy. He has an unparalleled grasp of physics, mathematics, and strategy. He also has a volatile, murderous personality, but we come to understand where it comes from, and that he is very much more than he appears. The Iron Warriors largely reflect their Primarch. They are straight-forward warriors who excel at far more than they get credit for. They are logisticians, strategists… even geologists and engineers. They just happen to apply those skills to warfare and in a manner which is blunt and brutal, but extremely effective – applying the maximum force with the least amount of effort.

The overall plot can be summarised as: Fulgrim, with the aid of a mysterious Eldar “historian” convinces Perturabo to take his legion on an expedition to the heart of the Eye of Terror, to an ancient, dead Eldar world which is home to a mythical super-weapon which could end the war quickly in favour of Horus. Some Loyalist survivors of the opening battle of the Heresy discover the plan, and are led by another Eldar in a bid to thwart this possibility. Along the way we get to find out just how far the Emperor’s Children and Fulgrim have descended into excess and the worship of Slaanesh, and also how much it sucks to be a loyalist Space Marine right now. Mid-way through the book there’s even a Iron Warriors version of a game of Warhammer 40,000.

Overall, the plot flows nicely, and works well. There a very few, minor snooze moments, but nothing which totally detracts from the rest of the story. The payoff at the end gives us several things which old-timer fans might have been wondering when they would appear in the series, leaping some plot threads considerably.

In summary I’d say Angel Exterminatus is a great addition to the Horus Heresy series. If you’re a fan then you definitely want to pick it up. Newcomers might find it a bit difficult as it refers to a lot of threads in previous books, but it’s not so bad as I would say you should avoid it. It’s still a great read… One that once I started I didn’t put down until I’d devoured the whole book.