Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide – A Review

firestorm-select copyContinuing on from looking at the second edition rules, it seemed only right to take a look at one of the Fleet Guides released by Spartan in answer to the recurring grumble that there were no defined army lists or background.

Never let it be said that Spartan don’t listen. Whilst not the cheapest of books, it’s a nice touch that they opted to divide the books by allegiances rather than individual fleets. This does mean there’s a strong chance you’ll get a fair chunk of book you don’t need or may even not read, and it’s debatable how cost-effective that is to get the full picture. Or at least the full picture of half the story.

FARB05-2 copyIt’s a very pretty book. I really dig the minimal cover and it feels very premium throughout. Some of the models in the photography could have been better painted but that’s not the fault of the book.

So the book is divided up into the various powers that make up the Kurak Alliance. Simple enough. Each with its own brief history and fleet lists. There’s a little bit of repeated content from the rulebook but fortunately the writing is better. It’s still not as polished as it should be and Spartan still have a flair for sucking the gravity out of a dire situation. But hey-ho. It’s getting better and that’s something.

The fleet lists in the Guide are nicely laid out, a huge improvement on the fleet cards which always irritated me for having important information on the reverse and thus almost always got forgotten. The improvements around the ship upgrades – weapons, hardpoints etc – pretty much require a proper fleet roster but it’s a good thing, it makes the game feel more thought out. It recognises that the array of ships on both sides of the conflict should be more than a swap of a statistic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the case, but the options and the new fleet structure really makes a big difference.

And it’s actually kinda fun pouring over the options, rather than a chore or a functional step between you and rolling huge piles of dice. And we know how much fun that can be. It’s a bit of a shame that the different classes of ship types have all been lumped together but again it comes back to swapping round columns but some special rules could have done the job just as well. Bit of a shame but there we are.

One of my stand out favourite bits of the Fleet Guide are the example colour schemes and fluff about the various fleets. It goes a really long way to flesh out the conflict and gives gamers the option to apply some narrative to their fleets which is something that is always quite lacking in non-Games Workshop games. What can I say? They just get that stuff nailed down.

From a hobby point of view having some example paint jobs in the Fleet Guide is a huge boon. The Spartan gallery only has a couple of examples at most – that’s not a criticism just how it is – so it’s good to get a better flavour of how they see the fleets looking. And of course it makes it much easier for hobbyists to come up with their own having that solid jumping off point.

The big downer for me in the book was the lack of race specific special rules. Heck even fleet specific rules would have been cool. Other than the tactical bonus and command distance and the upgrade variations there’s nothing that really adds some narrative to the game. Something like Preferred Enemy or some for the Dindrenzi against Terrans for example, or a regeneration rule for the Aquans would have been way cool.

I do appreciate that there are differences on a ship level but that’s true of any unit in any game. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity considering all the effort that Spartan has gone to improve the writing, rules and flesh out the fleet lists in the Second Edition rules and Fleet Guides.

The Fleet Guides are a good idea. I like the fact that you get all the good guy fleets and all the bad guy fleets in one place because the game does encourage taking allies be they from the major races or the Alliance members. I’m not wild about how much background is left out of the rulebook so you’re almost compelled to buy both Fleet Guides if you want the whole story. It makes for quite an expensive outlay when you’ll read them through once and then one fleet list repeatedly.

But to take the Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide on its own it’s a nice book. It looks great, reads well and it’s so good to have the ships laid out sensibly with all the options and MARs in one place. The background is still a bit woolly and there’s a couple of typos that tarnish an otherwise professionally produced book but that aside it’s a worthy investment.

The Kurak Alliance Fleet Guide is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.00.

Storm Zone: Battle for Valhalla – A Review

firestorm-select copyPart 2 of my Firestorm Armada second edition review is finally here. Apologies for yet another long delay. There’s a lot going on in my world at the moment and it’s pulling me away from the site far more than I’d like.

But anyway…

Storm Zone: Battle for Valhalla is the starter set released by Spartan Games at the same time as their second edition Firestorm Armada rule set. I was really pleased to see Spartan go down this route for their games because starter sets are such excellent point of entry into a hobby. Games Workshop has produced some stonkers over the years – with the exception of one or two – and I’ve bought and loved just about all of them. And there’s no shame in copying something that works.

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In the Battle for Valhalla box you get two fairly modest fleets – Terran Alliance (yay me) and Dindrenzi (yay Lee) – and a space station to scrap over. I wasn’t wild about the models. There just aren’t enough of them and yes you basically get the station (that’s a bit poor), the flyer bases and the rules for free but it’s an £80 boxset and if I’m honest it doesn’t feel great value. Unless you’re going halves with someone but as you’ll inevitably end up buying a second rulebook there’s not really much in it. That said at least you get the full hardback rules in the box rather than a slimmed down version. Big tick for Spartan on that one.

The rulebook I’ve covered already so I’ll focus just on the models and other odds and sods.

So why is the space station a bit poor? Well my main issue is that it is the least exciting thing in the box. For a centrepiece it should be as pant tightening as something out of Star Trek. Plus the armatures for the dock are clear acrylic. No detail, no nuthin. And because Spartan wanted to keep them in one piece whilst in the box, none of the arms were fully lasered through the frame which means an agonising and slow cut through each join. 10 armatures, 2 cuts per arm. That’s a lot of time wasted especially when it could crack or shatter. And to add insult to injury, as far as I can tell, there’s no stand for it. So you have to sit it on the board each time you use it. Not awesome.

However, where Spartan redeem themselves is in the area that drew me to their games in the first place – the spaceships. The thing I like about Spartan Games is that they release new models but allow you to use the old ones – even writing rules for them to give a sense of time and technology progressing. It’s cool that my Terran fleet has two classes of Battleship and Cruiser in it. However I was a bit surprised that the starter set featured yet more new models when the mkII’s hadn’t been out all that long and are gorgeous. Plus it would mean painfully subtle rule differences in a game that already had a lot of painfully subtle rule differences. However they are all utterly awesome. Especially the Dindrenzi battleship. It’s a superb example of design and casting. It’s a glorious, beautiful thing that almost makes me want to start a Dindrenzi fleet. Lee is a very lucky chap to be getting his hands on that model.

Although the Terran models aren’t exactly ugly. Whilst I’m not 100% about all of the design tweaks moving it on from the Apollo Class battleship, there’s no denying that the Tyrant class battleship is a big, beautiful, ball buster of a ship. Albeit inappropriately named considering the Terran’s are supposed to be the nicer bunch of the two factions. My only real gripes about the models is the two halves of the Terran cruisers don’t sit flush, which is a shame as the gap is noticeable, the parts of the model that the flying stand goes into are separate on some models which makes me doubt long-term stability, and the thrusters on the Dindrenzi Praetorian Class battleship aren’t a brilliant fit.

But all that said, there’s no denying the quality of the detail and the superb casting quality. And in-game terms – as one would expect – they’re pretty evenly matched. Terran have less armour but shields. The Dindrenzi chuck out more shots but still have to put up with gun racks. The Terrans also get slightly more stuff which presumably is geared around the campaign book that’s also included in the box.

From a gaming point of view the Battle for Valhalla box is a bit of a deal as there are scenarios in the main book and then the campaign book on top. So from the point of view of smashing out a campaign – or just playing multiple games with some variety – it’s pretty good. The booklet itself is good. Some nice fluff at the start followed by some lovely scenarios (which make sense) and then the ship details at the back so you can get down to some face kicking without having to go online to download the data cards or buying the fleet book.

The other welcome addition is the counter sheets. This may seem a slightly inane thing to bring up but for me it’s very important for two reasons. 1. They’re pre-cut so none of that painstaking cutting out of counters that were printed on photo paper from Boots. The other is they’re all pleasingly designed. They’re all labelled which is a huge help but the design of each one is so simple that I just love looking at them. Especially as Spartan have been extremely clever with their use of colour palettes. They’re excellent and, for me, nicer to look at than the campaign book. But I’m a design nerd.

Overall the Battle for Valhalla is a good starter set. It’s not the cheapest starter set going but it’s not the most expensive either. The models are all gorgeous – the disappointment with the station not withstanding. The fact that you get the full rules and a campaign book is very good. I do have some reservations about the way some of the models go together but until they get regular use I can’t really say it’s a deal breaker. I would advise extra care though, especially as the battleships are heavy.

If you and a friend are looking to get into the Firestorm Armada hobby or you and friend want the new rules and some cool new ships for your existing fleets, this really is a path worth considering. Especially if you can survive on just one copy of the rules.

Firestorm Armada – Storm Zone: Battle for Valhalla is available from Firestorm Games priced £72.00.

Thon Available to Buy

1399569203You may remember a long while back The Shell Case looking at a truly gorgeous looking game called Thon. It briefly appeared on kickstarter but was cancelled due to some important changes in the game that meant it wouldn’t be ready for market.

I must admit that I forgot all about this very special looking game so when I discovered that the creators had managed to bring a 2 faction set to market I was pleased, proud and excited.

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I hope I’ll be able to take a closer look at this game as, almost a year ago, this was something I was desperately looking forward to.

If, like me, you can’t wait, then head over to the Thon website and check out the shiny new toys.

Firestorm Armada 2nd Edition – A Review

First an apology for being so quiet for so long. I was on holiday for a week which should have warranted an explosion of writing on my part. But there was no wifi. Heck there was very little phone signal. And chasing a toddler around acres of woodland, it turns out, was rather knackering so even writing offline proved too much as I was too wiped out after the little cherub went to bed. The review itself has taken a while to pen because I wanted to make sure I did the game justice. There was a couple of false starts where I began to write with no real direction which warranted the Ctrl-A, Delete bomb. So this review signals my return and I hope it was worth the wait.

firestorm-select copyIt’s been a wee while since I’ve reviewed anything from the Firestorm Armada universe so what better way than to look at the second edition rules and the new starter set? I’ll cover the rules in this article then look at the starter set and its bevy of toys later.

I’m a real fan of Firestorm Armada and the awesome models that accompany it. It was Firestorm Armada and its sister game, Dystopian Wars that I popped my non-GW-gaming cherry with. And it was a pretty easy decision to make as both games had gorgeous, reasonably priced, models and generally positive feedback from wargamers on Twitter.

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For me, other than the sexy models, what makes Firestorm Armada, for me, such a brilliant fun game is the utterly embarrassing amount of dice you get to roll. When Firestorm Invasion (sort of) came out a while back it used a revised mechanic and I half expected Spartan to go that way with the second editions of Firestorm and Dystopian Wars. And I’m delighted to report that it isn’t the case. Because honest to God, starting an attack with 12 dice and ending it with 36 is immensely satisfying thanks to the exploding dice mechanic.

For the uninitiated the exploding dice mechanic works thus – any natural roll of a 6 counts as 2 hits and then you roll another dice. If that extra dice is a 6 it counts as 2 hits and you roll another dice. Repeat. It is, of course, a two-edged sword. What you can inflict on your enemy than can inflict on you but the trick is to get in first. And thanks to the retention of the alternating activation that’s still possible. It does mean that turns still take a while and big games will take half a day rather than an evening but that’s not the first game to be guilty of that.

So what’s new? Well quite a bit actually.

The main thing is upgrades for ships. There are options to swankify your weapon systems as well as hardpoints for system upgrades that give you largers ships extra armour, extra movement etc. It’s a big and important change for Spartan who did everything they could to keep the ships ‘factory standard’ to keep the game simple. But when you consider the variations across classification by fleet and by model was tiny and even non-existent something had to give beyond piling on more MARs special rules. Which I’ve always been irritated by and rarely used in any of the gamers I’ve played.

It’s great to see these options being opened up because it allows for real fleet building as well as applying some tactics to the process. Up to now every fleet list I’ve ever built has been entirely geared around the volume of dice I got to use. Because nothing else mattered. Whilst the upgrades won’t change the outcome of a game they’ll certainly make things more interesting. It’s also good that not all upgrades are available to everyone and allows you to tailor units into a specific combat role ala Battlefleet Gothic.

Another new addition is the battle log which is a poorly named means of tracking the game’s progress. If I’m honest it just doesn’t work. It’s based on morale which is a very iffy premise and fails to take into account how massively varied morale can be not just species to species but navy to navy, fleet to fleet and ship to ship. It’s a staggering over simplification that’s immediately made more complicated by the scoring system which forces you to take large squadrons of everything or face losing very quickly as it’s based around units being wiped out. Personally I think it’s just easier to total up the points the ships are worth. Fucking about with tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 ships and how many were wiped out which determines how many points is…well…fucking about.

There’s also some proper background in this book. It is, sadly, still quite poor. It lacks subtlety and presence. It just feels very safe whilst failing to really deliver any kind of impact. Yes it’s a big improvement. Yes I have a better idea of what’s going on. But does it shove its hand down my pants and have a good rummage? No it doesn’t. And that’s very frustrating for me because I’m a fluff gamer and I’ve always liked the idea of Firestorm. And with so many games out there with detailed background, there’s really no excuse for 15(ish) pages of background that felt like they were as much of a chore to write as they are to read. However it is an improvement, it is more detailed and it is more interesting than before. And the section on the planets is a nice touch too.

Overall though it is a huge improvement on the previous versions. The book is better presented for one thing – although there’s a few too many glossy photos – with examples that actually relate to the text around them. They’ve also finally done away with the profoundly irritating arbitrary use of bold that plagued all the other Spartan Games rule books up to now.

It all feels very tight. Rule explanations are clearer to the point that I didn’t have to read and re-read them to understand just what the hell the developers were on about. I still have that concern that there are too many steps to each stage so game play still won’t be as slick as it should be. But thanks to the standard of rule writing increasing at least there’ll be significantly less time wasted arguing over rule interpretation or spending an age flicking through an appallingly laid out book. Second edition is pretty bang on in that respect. It’s a much more natural, logical read. Thank the Lord.

One of my big buy bears about Firestorm (and Dystopian Wars) was the woefully vague rules for tiny flyers. Par of the problem was that explanations were dotted throughout the rule book and with no index it was all but impossible to find what you were looking for. All the rules are in one place now (huzzah) but they’ve also been hugely improved on to the point that one full understands how to use them. They’re still far too complicated for what should be a minor aspect of the game but it’s a big improvement. Improvement enough for me to buy more carriers? No, but at least I’ll make use of the one I have.

There’s also some scenarios. At last. It was badly needed in the core rules and far better than adding them into supplement books like Spartan did with Dystopian Wars. It was a frustrating move motivated by money rather than putting right a mistake. But the important thing one can feel like a campaign is no possible. Eventually anyway. The fleet lists have been taken from the book and put into two separate books costing £20 each. Comparatively cheaper than a Codex but that £20 covers all the good, or all the bad, species. So pence per page the value isn’t awesome if you only collect one fleet from the entire. book. But more on that another time.

The second edition rules for Firestorm Armada is a huge improvement on versions 1.0 and 1.5. The writing is stronger, the rules are clearer and have been – for the most part – logically improved upon. Not all the ideas work and it’s now a slightly more expensive game to get into but don’t let that put you off because it’s well worth it.

Firestorm Armada, second edition, and the Battle for Valhalla starter box are both available from Firestorm Games priced £18 and £72 respectively.

10 Years of Dawn of War

warhammerdowI was surprised to learn today that it’s been 10 years since the release of the original Dawn of War game. This auspicious occasion couldn’t be marked without a few words about a game that I not only invested hours of my life in but helped redefine the RTS genre.

When I first heard about the game I don’t mind saying that I was not optimistic. Up to then all the Games Workshop video games had been pretty shit. With the possible exception of the Space Hulk game on the Amiga and Commodore 64. Yes, I’m that old. Sod off. However as details began to emerge about gameplay – such as making use of hard and soft cover, as well as some semblance of a force organisation chart – I started to grow more positive.

Then I saw the graphics. Whilst it looks a little dated now, at the time they looked pretty sweet. The environment felt like the 41st Millennium. The Space Marines were a loyal representation. The animation was believable. And the finishing moves for each of the commanders was awesome. And best of all you could zoom right down into the action. Granted you needed a pretty meaty machine (10 years ago) to do that and it not crash but that was and is the joy of PC gaming.

When my copy arrived and I went through the lengthy install process then hit play. And I’m so very glad I did. The opening cut scene even now looks awesome. It bugs the living hell out of me because those few Orks could never take down a squad of Space Marines. And no sane Space Marine squad sergeant would allow his unit to meet a mob of Orks in open combat, but as I say, it looks awesome.

Actually it was awe inspiring. Those kinds of animations were rarely seen let alone in a Games Workshop computer game. Moreover it declared to the world that an animated Space Marine movie was possible. We’ve had one stab at it already and the fan made Lord Inquisitor on its way. One day… But the point is that it set imaginations on fire.

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The campaign was a little ropey in terms of plot and voice acting. It was caught in that classic trap of a publisher wanting it to be accessible to non-fans and a team of writers who knew the lore but couldn’t write very well. But well enough that the campaign trundled along quite happily albeit laboriously at times. I do confess to being quite glad it was over when I finished the final mission.

What it did do very well was encourage different styles of play and tactical decisions rather than the classic ‘build a base, build loads of blokes’ approach. Which whilst fun is never gonna win you the big scores in the press.

The game also introduced us to the Blood Ravens. A most intriguing bunch who I guessed from the get-go their true origins. A chapter that likes psykers and wears red and bone armour. Remind you of anyone? That aside, they’ve become a part of the 40k lore and I’ve seen many an army take to the table. Which I think is a benchmark of the game’s success. That it’s influencing hobby as well as the hobby influencing it.

That said, it was never the plot that made Dawn of War the game we know and love today. It was how faithfully the models had been lifted from the table and put into a PC game. No one had tried to be clever with the styling or reinvent the wheel. They looked like rendered models kicking the living shit out of each other and that was and is awesome. It was incredibly satisfying watching a tactical squad take apart a unit of Ork Boyz. And the first time a Land Raider rolled off the production line and opened up with its lascannons was a very special moment.

However, where the game got really fun was the skirmish mode. 4 players, either online or AI or both, racing to build a base and kick the living daylights out of each other. My online experiences were tarnished by people running a force commander into my base, calling down a lance strike to cripple my capacity to do, well, anything and then suffer the indignity of sitting and watching a single tactical squad slowly shoot the few buildings that survived to pieces. However, if you went up against an opponent that wasn’t a total bell end it was the best fun. And you could spend hours with the delicate dance of war.

One of my favourite memories was a game against a vastly superior player to me. He was out foxing me at every turn and it was only through sheer tenacity I was able to hold him back long enough to force a withdrawal. Up to this point I’d been putting my efforts into building a strike force so instead I put everything I had into building an overlapping defence network with a few Dreadnoughts in amongst there as well. By the time the inevitable attack came there were so many heavy bolter turrets opening up that entire secitons of the map weren’t visible. And by this point I had a few squads in reserve so once committed what was a holding action became a route and I was able to roll up his force and destroy his base. It truly was a superb game.

And that’s really the point. Dawn of War is a superb game. The supplements kept the game fresh and kept fans of the armies happy. Although I never completed the Winter Assault campaign. I just found using the Imperial Guard tedious. Which is exactly how I feel about using them on the board so they clearly got the feel for the army dead on.

It’s times like this that you realise how much you enjoyed something and the only reason you stopped playing was because you forgot you had it. It’s easy to blame time but the reality is that we all filled our days with new games like Dawn of War II – which I just couldn’t get on with – and left it on a shelf to collect dust and ultimately get sold on.

But for those that did sell on your copies – you fools! – you’re in luck. The lovely people over at Relic are doing a competition to celebrate Dawn of War’s anniversary by giving away a big pile of cool shit including the games. Head over to their site to find out how you could win.

And remember, only in death does duty end… Ugh.

-Phil

Ork Stormboyz – A Review

warhammer-40000-logoIt’s no secret that I’ve riding the green tide. It’s equally common knowledge that I’ve managed to cobble together 1,000 points already. None of it’s painted yet but that’s fine as the deal between myself, Mat & Lee is that we can’t progress past 1,000 points until it’s all painted. There’s an advantage to that though as it gives me time to get use to the army before it gets too big.

And one of my favourite parts of my budding Waaagh is the Stormboyz. What’s kinda fun for me, being part of the Old Guard, is I’ve had the luxury of watching these models change over the years and each time I thought ‘those are really cool’. They’ve just got better and better. And less fascist as well which is a good thing.

99120103020_StormboyzNEW01The thing that impresses me the most is the versatility of the kit. There are options enough that you can build 10 Stormboyz that all look different. Individuality in a horde army is rare so the luxury of coming up with different combinations is a bit of a treat. From the 10 I built my favourite is the Stormboy clutching stikbombz in both hands and one between his teeth. He looks completely mental.

I think what’s cool about the models is while the background points towards Stormboyz being disciplined and well-drilled, it’s still by Ork standards so they still have that shit kicker look that makes the Orks, as an army, look so cool. Instead of like the aforementioned fascists in grey jump suits ala the 2nd edition version. And they’re still Orks so they’re still giddy at the thought of unbridled death and destruction from above. And all that comes through on the models very well. Equally the rokkit packs are crude but have an elegant simplicity that – like the Dakkajet – points towards a barely understood higher knowledge of aerodynamics and the principles of sustained flight. The 3rd edition models had nothing more than an Acme rocket strapped to their back which would have achieved nothing more than firing its wearer high into the air only to plunge to their doom shortly after. Which, whilst funny, isn’t very believable even by 40k’s over stretched concept of the possible.

It also goes together very well. The legs and torso are attached so they’re far stronger than the older models, witch just the chest to attach. There’s also plenty of heads to choose from so you can mix and match between typical Ork heads of the zanier options like the ones shown above. Where possible opt for the zany ones. They’re just better. The only considerations when building the Stormboyz are:

Position the model towards the back of the base. Because the model is leaning forwards to simulate takeoff they’re very front heavy. Whilst this isn’t such a big problem as the old metal/plastic kits of yore they’ll still fall over and it’ll still be annoying.

The other is check all the rokkit pack parts fit together before you glue them. Whilst the vast majority are interchangeable, one or two aren’t and if it’s the last model you build in the squad you’ll be kicking yourself. Plus one or two of the nose cones will get in the way of one or two of the heads so glue that on last where possible.

Now there’s a few naysayers surrounding the use of Stormboyz primarily around their woeful armour save with no option to upgrade it. But I say this is a good thing because it encourages you to use them the way they were intended which is either with maximum aggression so you close the gap between your line and the enemy’s as quickly as possible, or you hold them back to act as a rapid response unit. Coupled with the fact that they’re relatively cheap compared to other jump infantry and they’re actually a pretty useful squad to have in the army.

Their high toughness will keep the Stormboyz safe from squishy targets like Imperial Guard when they make it in to contact, so the Ork’s low initiative isn’t so much of a problem. Against Space Marines it’s an entirely different matter but the sheer weight of attacks – and the aforementioned low-cost – will mean win or lose the Orks will always come out on top. In the game I played against Guard they made absolute mincemeat of everything they came into contact with and the addition of a Nob is brutal.

Of course that’s an ideal scenario. They were able to close rapidly and managed to avoid shooting or made it into cover when they couldn’t. The bottom line is they are very very vulnerable so there will be some games where they’ll be cut to ribbons before they do anything. How you use them so incredibly important. It’s kinda sucky from an investment point of view as a unit of 10 is the best part of £30.

If you can find ways to mitigate that all but pointless armour save then you have a very hard-hitting unit for naff all points. Time you attacks so they make contact with other elements of the army and Stormboyz have the potential to run roughshod thanks to the speed they have over their ground pounding counterparts. More so if you take a couple of units of 10.

Personally, I love the Stormboyz. The models are awesome and the best fun to build, just like the rest of the Ork models I’ve come across thus far. The level of customisation is pretty good and they just look the best when they’re built and all grouped together. They’re chunky though so be prepared for them to occupy a lot of space on the board – a bit of an issue for a horde army – and a lot of space in your figure case. But the bottom line is they’re great fun to use on the board.

Ork Stormboyz are available from Firestorm Games priced £13.95.

Ork Bommer – A Review

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The Codex was largely responsible for me finally starting an Ork army but as I’ve always said time and again, you have to love the models you’re collecting or the project will simply never get finished. This is true or all armies in every game ever written. And it was true all those years ago when the Ork Bommer made its first appearance in Epic 40,000 16(ish) years ago. It was those models, along with the Thunderhawk gunship that sold me on that game. I loved the design, the haphazard nature of the construction and the ludicrously big bombs under the wings.

So when the Ork Bommer kit was released for Warhammer 40,000 I was delighted for Ork players the world over because they would know the same joy I did. Little did I realise that I would be in possession of one a year or two later.

When I decided to collect a Freebooter army I made the decision along with it that they needed to be the flashiest, wealthiest, gitiest Orks around and that meant more toys than anyone else and that means jets. It’s entirely possible I’m collecting a near useless army but it’ll look cool as it gets torn to pieces.

But on to the Bommer, or specifically the Dakkajet. I opted for the fighter over the bommer options because I like the idea of the Orks being flyboyz rather than psychopaths. They want to dominate the air and sow fear on the ground rather than fling themselves at it with far more ordnance than is sensible. It fits with my army theme that the pilots are Aces by Ork standards – aloof and skilled rather than kill junkies.OrkBommerNEW01

The kit is awesome. Providing you follow the instructions it goes together very easily. If you don’t then it’s a sodding pain as it goes together much like an Airfix kit so the fuselage is in two halves. This means if you don’t stick things in the right order you’ll be prising things apart. And much like an Airfix kit (other scale models are available) the fuselage will need to be to make sure all the joins take. Some parts a little thin so a prone to warping. It’s not a criticism as it’s a common enough problem with thin plastic, it’s just a word of warning when building the thing. Take the extra couple of minutes and make sure the joins have all taken.

Other than that it’s a pretty straight forward build with enough bits and bobs on the sprues that allow you to make some pretty distinctive planes should you choose to have more than one. Which of course you would. There’s a little bit of flexibility in the weapon load outs so you can move things around a bit but truth be told, without some snipping and clipping one Dakkajet will look much like any other which is kind of a shame, but something has to give considering the variety within the kit as a whole. And there’s nothing stopping you mixing it up with the parts available for a bit of variety. It’s more that the guns will be pretty much in the same place whether you like it or not.

What’s really awesome about the Bommer kit is that it speaks volumes about the Orks. Or specifically the knowledge hard-coded into the minds of Meks and the pilots. Its design is a lot like the MiG 19 with the intake in the nose and the swept back wings. It’s aerodynamic and features all the various bits and bobs a plane needs to fly. Granted the sophistication stops there as the intakes have spiky bits on them and the landing gear consists of a ski and a hook to bury in the ground. But hey, if it works… But it’s more like the Meks get bored or make do rather than don’t care about what they’re doing.

Basically it just builds and looks awesome.

In game terms there’s always going to be a divide when it comes to flyers. There are many who feel the rules are either vague or overpowered. Others – mainly the people who own flyers – like them just fine. Whilst I do think flyers can potentially dominate a game I have given the rules enough consideration because I never thought I’d take flyers so until I give the Dakkajet a shakedown I’m reserving judgement.

But there’s no getting round the fact that the between the special rules, armament and upgrades the Dakkajet – all the variants in fact – is a bit of a monster. You don’t get loads for you basic 110 points but the 3 upgrades – bringing to a still fair reasonable 150 points – gives you a base Ballistic Skill 3, an extra set of twin-linked super-shootas (making it 6, strength 6, AP 4 shots, re-rolling misses) and an extra roll to movement. Add in the Strafing Run special rule and you have a fast-moving Space Marine firing an assault cannon, minus the rending. That’s not bad. And if a Waaagh gets called that 6 shots goes up to 8 just to add insult to injury.

But for all that they’re still only armour 10 all round and Strength 6 isn’t going to do much against the majority of vehicles. That all changes with the other flyer variants equipped, as they are, with very large bombs. The Blitz Bommer is arguable better value being armed with two boom bombs. Whilst Strength 7 isn’t going to be blowing holes in Land Raiders, the AP 2 (and the large blast) will help to blow holes in terminators.

Although the fact that the pilot could be enjoying the diving part of his attack run so much that he’ll forget to do everything else (including pull up) is slightly off-putting. 135 points basic is a lot for what potentially could be a one use weapon. It’s very Orky and everything but I like my army to krump things rather than krump themselves.

The Burna Bommer is, of course, the middle ground for points but as you only get two missiles you’ll be buying another 4 jacking the price up massively. And they’re essentially heavy flamers you have to scatter. And as both bommer variants lose the strafing run rule their shooting will be far less effective as well. And overall the Dakkajet comes in about 10 points cheaper. And you’re probably better off taking a unit of burna boyz in a trukk for the good it’ll do you.

The point is this – the Dakkajet is weirdly the safe bet because it fires the most shots, for the least points and risk, with the greatest accuracy. Whilst it lacks the pyrotechnics of the other two it also doesn’t have the unpredictability of crashing into the ground or the bombs missing the targets altogether which would be the real kicker. It’s a great interference unit and will draw focus. If it eventually gets shot down it represents a fairly low outlay and will in most cases make its points back. Although if you’re using them right, the other two planes will as well.

Which ever your preference, it Ork flyers are unsubtle, relatively cheap, terrors of the sky and earth. And they look bloody cool whilst they do it. The kit is excellent fun and not overly complicated so it can be built within a couple of hours. Even if you don’t field it, it’s a kit worth owning just to wave it around and make ‘neow’ and ‘dakka dakka dakka’ noises.

The Ork Bommer is available from Firestorm Games priced £24.75 (and worth every zogging toof!)