Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 2

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In Part 1 of this Tactica, we covered which units to take against the pure combat focus of a Khorne army and with an idea of what your list includes, let’s now look at deploying and using them effectively.

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I’m a firm believer in having a strong core at the heart of your army with everything else flowing around it – the expendable stuff, and that word synergy is at its most prominent at this point as you will want as many of your units as possible to benefit from your ability ‘bubbles’ and not have to spend time shuffling about after the game starts to get into range.

By keeping your core intact you can still win even if the rest of your army gets smeared into a fine red paste, which is still a very real possibility no matter how well you’ve prepared.  This core will of course tend to be your slower foot troops who don’t tend to move much, backed up by their support elements which make them better, and the simple diagram below shows that by deploying them in a compact line with the Celestial Hurricanum behind them, all three infantry blocks will be benefitting from the +1 to hit in combat.  The white squares in the Greatsword unit represent characters which can also then spread their influence to these units – namely the re-rolling of Leadership tests provided by your Battle Standard Bearer and the increased Leadership of 9 provided by your General in the shape of an Arch Lector. This entire group is now re-rolling its Leadership tests on an unmodified Ld of 9 (through Steadfast and Stubborn) whilst hitting back on 3’s with a ton of Strength 4 and 5 attacks. The Lector is also granting Hatred to the Greatswords and can also cast a prayer on them either increasing their chances to wound or improving their survivability. It would take a brave enemy General to charge headlong into that and he will bleed for the damage he inflicts – and seeing as you have around 110-120 wounds in that formation he’ll be hard pressed to outlast you.

Empire Tactica fig 1

Once you throw in your Archer Detachments that can range in front of your line, you should be able to divert enemies units looking to charge you and set up favourable flank charges for when you do want to step out of formation.  This core also has the benefit of accounting for a significant proportion of your points making it harder for your opponent to achieve a victory and easier for you to avoid defeat.

Some of your more combat capable units can also act as powerful deterrents to those who think themselves strong enough to break your core.  For example, a Steam Tank makes a brilliant protector of this formations flank, it’s hard as nails and unbreakable letting you focus on what’s in front of you.  A counterattacking unit of Demigryphs or Knights can also fulfil this role.

If circumstances are permitting, always endeavour to get a unit of Demigryphs in a position to flank the enemy. This doesn’t have to be out on a flank necessarily, simply using a piece of terrain to hide behind waiting for the enemy to come past is just as, if not more useful.  At worst it delays your enemy as he doesn’t want to get flanked, at best you get to pull off a devastating charge that can roll right up a battle line.

You should always try to place your cannons out on the flanks and this is for two reasons. Many opponents forget to look sideways across a battlefield when moving their army forwards and often assume you will shoot the unit directly in front of the Cannon in an effort to keep them alive. Whilst this is an option, shooting across the battle field into the flanks of units of Skull Crushers and Chaos Knights is far more damaging to your opponent.  Your Cannons’ days are numbered as your opponent will do much to remove them as a threat as quickly as possible, so their only job is to inflict as much damage as possible before they go. The other reason to put them on the flanks plays into this.  They’re a great distraction and buy the rest of your army time while they’re being dealt with – and if they’re way out on a flank it’s even longer before their disposers get back into the fight.  I usually deploy the small halberdier units with my cannons to buy them another turn or two of firing to really soften up the enemy before they go and make sure my opponent has to commit a significant unit or two to deal with them – playing even further into reason two.

In the compressed battle line below, you can see the core formation in the centre – although it can be positioned anywhere – supported by the Steam Tank and unit of Knights protecting its flanks. These, and any other units, moving to assist the centre also have the advantage of coming under your ability bubbles too, further adding to their potential.  The Cannons are way out wide supported by the small halberdier units and the Demigryphs are well placed on either side to support either the centre by arcing around or the flank if necessary, or even to advance forwards and punch a hole through vulnerable points through the enemy line.  You can also see how a simple copse of trees can be hidden behind to set up a trap for any unit advancing on the core formations, with the screen of skirmishing archers being used to pull enemy units into favourable positions for flank or dual charges.

Empire Tactica fig 2

By angling the archers correctly, you should be able to ensure a flank charge at least somewhere along the line and your opponent will likely be hoping to pass his Ld tests to stop his frenzied units charging into your traps.  Don’t be afraid to advance your skirmish screen aggressively to take the initiative away from your opponent who is used to having it when playing with such an offensive army. By getting those archer units high up the board you can clog up his approach with unexpected combats or slowed units trying to avoid getting into combat with them, and then overrunning into your lines unsupported.

The elements not visible in the diagram such as the Helblaster, Outriders etc. can be placed where they are needed as your enemy deploys.   If you can see he’s going to try to rush your core in force, put your Helblaster down in the centre to really make him suffer – or even abandon his plan. If he’s emphasizing (refusing) a flank, you should have an opportunity for your Outriders to find a prime firing position. A lot will depend on how your opponent deploys so try to keep your best stuff until the end. Things like Halberdiers and Knights aren’t going to hold many surprises with where they go, but the likes of Demigryphs and Steam Tanks are crucial units so try to get favourable match ups across the board to maximise their damage potential – and your opponent will be doing the same as he will be fully aware of the danger these units possess. Steam Tanks need to avoid anything with multiple high strength attacks like Slaughterbrutes, Dragon Ogres and tooled up characters. Demigryphs should simply avoid wasting their offensive power on grinding down units in multiple rounds of combat.  They are the point of the blade and if applied correctly should be able to take on almost any unit if they avoid a frontal charge.

The army is also surprisingly offensive when needed, with three mounted offensive units plus a Steam Tank battering ram, you can really take the initiative when the time comes and launch a crippling counter attack to carry the day.  Look for gaps or vulnerable points in the enemy line, as charges are made these holes will appear and capitalising on those moments to get a unit in behind his line will create a real headache as to how to deal with them – all the while you’re pounding him with black powder and magic.

Don’t be afraid to feed your expendable units into his to buy you the time you need to whittle him down with your shooting and get into position with your best units.  Expendable covers everything that isn’t in your core formation – even things like the Demigryphs.  As long as they are buying you an advantage with their sacrifice, you know that by protecting your core (which accounts for around half your victory points) you can still win.

The trick is to get him to underestimate your army.  Let him think he can roll over any unit you’ve got without consideration with his hulking combat monsters, ignoring the risks of charging across the board as fast as he can [With a Khorne army one doesn't have much choice in the matter. - Ed].  Capitalising on his overconfidence and haste in avoiding warmachine fire will let you dictate where the combats happen and with who. Constantly deflect his best units, either into flank traps or off the board to waste their time, and only taking them on when the circumstances are in your favour.  Do this and you will win the battle.

Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 1

 

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAs we near the end of our ‘Tale of Two Armies’ series, I thought it would be helpful for those interested to put the lessons I have learnt into a Tactica article of sorts – but one that focuses on tackling a specific opponent. This is the first part of that article which will cover general army selection against a foe which favours combat over all else, with the second part moving on to deployment and tactics.

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I’ve enjoyed a large amount of success in the series of games Phil and I have played out, only losing once in the first game – to a total bloodbath where but a single Chaos Warrior was left standing at the end, a Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one.  This was in stark contrast to how I thought the series was going to go after the decision was taken to do it and getting my hands on the army books.  I still stand by what I said in my Empire Army Book review, the subtleties of the changes in the Empire book still leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth knowing what the author’s motivations were, and the fact that the list suffers from significant imbalances corroborates my opinions when paired with the Chaos book.

I feel a large portion of my success was actually down to Phil’s choice of which Chaos God to theme his army on as much as it is to my playing ability. Playing as Khorne is certainly a limitation – at least when it comes to playing the Empire.  I’m sure it would have been harder for me to succeed if I was playing against say, an Undivided list, with all its magical gizmos and tailoring potential – it has a hideously powerful potential in the hands of someone willing to throw any kind of theme or fluff out the window. The lack of any shooting or magic are both huge advantages to an Empire player as you don’t have to invest any of those precious points into protecting yourself from those elements and can focus more on directly dealing with the biggest threats you know you’ll face. But anyway, on to what I’ve learnt which will hopefully benefit those budding Empire General’s out there for the times when they’ve run into an army of Khorne frothing at the mouth.

Army List Selection

Games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle can be won and lost before a dice is even rolled, the choices you make in building your list will have a significant say in how easy or hard your games will be to win.

Frenzied Khorne units are like lawnmowers when it comes to the green grass of the Empire.  Most of your soldiers will die horribly by the wagon load in a stand up fight – you will typically be striking last, with inferior weapon skill, lower strength, and with far less attacks. You will need numbers, and it will be crucial to get your units working together – synergy is a term used a lot with Empire armies and harnessing it is the key to victory.

For your Core, you will need at least one, maybe two, big blocks of State Troops to act as both an anchor for your battle line and an anvil to break the enemy on.  They will need to hold their ground in the face of the whirlwind of death that will inevitably hack its way to them, at least 40-50 bodies if you’re going down the single block route.  I personally prefer to go with two units of 35-40 but that’s what works for me against my opponent and it can be hard to maintain character support across the two of them which we will come onto a bit later.  Which type of State Troops to use for this depends on your style of play, but there are some definite good and bad choices when it comes to deciding which to field.

Swordsmen are the most durable being able to make full use of shields that also provide them with a parry save, plus having an extra point of WS meaning Marauders and Hounds only hit you on 4+ instead of 3+ adds to their durability. They are great for absorbing attacks but will kill very little in return, particularly against anything wearing Chaos Armour.  They are an ideal choice for a true anvil with which to hold the enemy against, but are also the most expensive in points per man.

Halberdiers can actually kill something occasionally, but will die doing so. The extra strength helps with causing wounds and also getting through the thick armour you’ll face. However, the inability to use a shield at the same time as a Halberd means they die very quickly. For a mere 6 points they are generally considered to be the best all round choice in any Empire Army – shields are only worth taking against armies with lots of shooting so leave them behind against Chaos and take more bodies instead.  They are probably the best choice against Chaos.

Spearmen give you many attacks – albeit with very little chance of success against the high toughness and armour saves.  The Spears also make them very static and completely defensive as they only work if they don’t charge. They are the worst choice against Chaos, limited in their usefulness to only the weaker units, which are few in a Chaos army.

To back up your block/s you can add in detachments if you so choose – although there is a lot of debate as to whether they are worth it anymore after the changes made to them. My opinion is generally no, with one exception. There is a definite use for smaller 10/15/20 man units in the army, for sure, but now without the benefit of the auto flank counter charge rule, attaching them to parent units means they often just provide additional squishy bodies for your opponents superior troops to kill and gain yet more combat resolution with – that goes double for Chaos units, and triple for Khorne.  Add in all the Psychology involved with having them in amongst your line means I rather have the flexibility of taking small units on their own.  Independent 10 man Halberdier units (cheap) are fantastically useful and can be used as warmarchine protectors, charge redirectors, speed bumps, flank protectors etc.  Easily worth the measly 60 points they cost per unit.  The exception is for the lowly Archer – they’re brilliant.  They can range in front of the army and become a very irritating distraction for your opponent who must overcome their charge redirecting and blocking. Panic isn’t a problem when they die as they are out in front and the fact they can shoot is just a bonus which lets them soften up the hounds which are usually tasked with removing them.  Costing as little as 35 points in units of 5 makes them invaluable at buying you time – they are one of the most important units available to the Empire.

The rest of the ranged State Troops unfortunately are poor.  They are now very expensive for what they do and against a Khorne army with no real shooting or magic to worry about the more fragile Outriders are a much better choice.  10 Handgunners costs you 90 points for 10 shots, 5 Outriders cost you 105 points for 15 shots – all at the same equivalent BS.  Plus the Outriders get a free move at the start of the game to get into a better position, and also have horses for if they ever do need to move again – which you should avoid.

Knightly Orders are decent. The 1+ armour save is still very hard for even Chaos Warriors to get through, just stay away from Chaos Knights, or worse Skull Crushers,  who will still make a mess of them. You can also choose to equip them with Greatswords as you’ll be striking last anyway, but losing the 1+ save is a big decision as it’s their biggest strength. They won’t win in a head on charge against most units but get them in a flank and they will be hard to shift – particularly the Stubborn Reiksguard who can pin a unit in place almost indefinitely.  Their problem is they struggle to deal out enough damage and need character support if you want them to charge through units of any significance – mounted Warrior Priest’s help them massively with their Hatred.

One of, if not the best units available to you will be the Demigryph Knights – they are the one truly combat capable unit available to the Empire and can eat their way through almost anything if you play them right – just don’t forget you’re playing Chaos who are also very combat capable.  If you’re careless with them they will die just as quickly as anything else in the Empire army. Their armour-piercing beaks are tailor-made to beat Chaos units, get them in a Flank and watch them go – its carnage. Take two units if possible.

Warmachines are fairly straight forward.  The Steam Tank is a beast and you should always take it when possible.  Its hull mounted cannon is a bonus but it’s the D6 plus D3 impact hits per steam point used in moving when it charges is where the real use is. Plough it into units like Chaos Knights and Warriors and watch it mangle them – but stay away from Dragon Ogres unless you’re confident of crippling them in the impact.  Their S7 Great Weapons can do a lot of damage and at 4 wounds each are still durable despite the lack of decent armour or high toughness. The steam turret is still useful against Chaos despite their smaller units and generally high toughness.  One bad roll for armour saves can still be crippling if you ramp it up to S4 so keep an eye out for opportunities to use it.

Take at least one Cannon, preferable two – there’s multitude of fast-moving units with either high armour or multiple wounds running around for you to shoot at: Skull crushers, Dragon Ogres, Chariots, Chaos Knights, Slaughterbrutes etc. Back these up with a Volley Gun and Engineer (he’s a must).  Chaos players are terrified of the Helblaster and rightly so – it can and will remove entire units when it fires using the Engineers BS and re-roll, and will also act as an area denial weapon.

A few other things I’ve found useful are Greatswords and the Celestial Hurricanum.  Greatswords are a 50/50 for a lot of Empire players as they’re expensive, but against Chaos Warriors their weapons can wreak havoc against their tough units. Put a Battle Standard bearer in the unit and they will (almost) never ever run away. Cold blooded, unmodified leadership 8 with a re-roll is nearly impossible to break and it’s easier to just slay the entire unit, and although expensive they are very hard to get points out of because of this.  The Hurricanum enjoys the benefit being something of a wild card as well providing some reliable effects. The +1 to hit 6” bubble is valuable beyond measure for your troop blocks and means that when you do finally get to hit back, those numbers you’ve sunk your points into will do some serious damage.  It also provides an extra power dice to help get those all-important spells off, and that means the random weather spell is a bit of a bonus afterthought really – you’d take it for the first two reasons alone.

And last but no means least, we have the characters – Empire armies rely very heavily on them and thankfully they’re cheap.  First up is a Captain upgraded to a Battle Standard Bearer and he really is non-negotiable as it will be the rock of your entire army. Back him up with as with a few Warrior priests where you think you’ll need them and you should have a pretty formidable formation all benefitting from each others abilities. After you include the previously mentioned Engineer for the Helblaster, you just need some Magical firepower in the form of some wizard levels – Level 2 or more, it’s up to you really. As you don’t have to worry about any spells coming back your way you can put as much or as little into magic levels as you want. Lore of Metal really hurts Khorne with their sky-high armour saves so I take at least one Wizard with that lore in my army. The biggest choice you will face in your character selection is who to make your general.  A Wizard Lord gives you access to the very desirable Ld 9 and can hang back from the battle line relatively safe.  Another good choice is to make one of the Warrior Priests an Arch Lector, who can sit in your battle line and benefit the whole formation with his leadership and prayers – just remember to protect him adequately.

Things like Grand Masters and Generals are good but typically being mounted they tend to move away from your force so the army doesn’t usually benefit from the leadership bonus.  Sitting still in units are a waste of points for what a cheaper character can do – and if you do want them to go charging off to plough through enemy units you really have to invest the points in his unit and his magic items – which all significantly weakens the rest of your army.  Besides, who’s stupid enough to actually go chasing a Khorne army?

So based on what I’ve gone over, in a 3000 point list you should have a unit roster looking something like this:

Captain – BSB

Wizard/s

Engineer

Arch Lector/Warrior Priests/s

Halberdier Block  x2

Small Halberdier Unit  x2

Inner Circle Knights Block

Archer detachment  x2

Demigryphs  x2

Greatsword Block

Outriders

Great Cannon  x2

Steam Tank

Helblaster Volley Gun

Celestial Hurricanum

Don’t be under any illusions, its hard work getting it all to fit – there just never seems to be enough points when making Empire lists – but it can be done. Some sacrifices will need to be made depending on how many magic levels you want or how many points you wish to invest in magic items.  A few things can easily be trimmed to free up points like the Outriders or one of the small halberdier units, but by including at least most of the units above you should have a flexible and tough army that your opponent will struggle to do any meaningful damage to.

In the next part we’ll look at deploying the army to get the maximum benefit out of each unit and how to use them once battle is joined.

-Lee

Forge World Preivews Word Bearers Gal Vorbak

The latest Forge World bulletin didn’t have much in the way of news I care about…until I got to this shot. The Gal Vorbak have always interested me intensely when reading the Horus Heresy novels featuring the Bearers of the Word. And, by extension, I’d always hoped they’d do models and hoped further still that they’d do them justice as I’ve never been a fan of the possessed models available for Chaos Space Marines.

GalVorbakJudging by these two gems I think they’re in safe hands. I love how the MKIV armour has been incorporated into the mutations. The reversed jointed lugs are inspired. It all likes like the changes would have been agonising, which they were. I’m finding my eye wandering towards Codex Chaos Space Marines…

 

Salute in Review: Dreadball Fest!

Salute 2014

Salute, salute, salute salute salute. (sung to the tune of Black Adder) I’m sure no one minded me singing Rob’s Salute theme tune on the way home one little bit. In fact it probably made the trip back from London go even quicker [Especially as it took four hours thanks to Mat's atrocious SatNav - Ed.]. So I am sorry to say that it is over for another year and with 365(ish) days to go until the next Salute, I am going to have to go back to buying models in shops or online like the rest of the world. Oh the horror! The whole event was great and there was some awesome stuff to see: so much variety (which is a great sign for the hobby in general), so many great people to meet and I know even though I spent the whole day trying to see everything I probably only got to see half of what Salute had to offer.

The day went pretty much to plan, with no help from Forge World. They had everything a Warhammer 40k player could want…as long as you wanted something from the Horus Heresy. However as an Ork player I was disappointed to find out that they had brought none of their awesome Ork range so I had to order the heavy weapons I needed for my Battle wagon conversion. I hope they turn up soon. Needless to say I have learnt my lesson and next year I will be ordering in advance, still at least I didn’t have to pay the postage and packaging.

Zzappa

But then I wondered over to the Mantic stand…Not only did I got a great look at their Battlezones range (watch this space), but I also got some really exciting information about Dreadball Xtreme and Deadzone and how new rules will work and I am now more excited about both games than ever. I’ll be covering that in more detail soon. Then I bought a lot of stuff for Dreadball including the new supplement Azure Forest. Review to follow. [Damn Neil, you're gonna be busy. -Ed.] We’ve also made it on to Mantic’s reviewer list so we should be able to cover their products much more thoroughly in the future.

I also confirmed that I have definitely fallen in love with Malifaux and saw some amazing figures from Twisted, Black Scorpion, Taban and Mierce miniatures. I checked out some of the great scenery from Amera Plastic Mouldings, where I picked up a great amphitheatre piece and still regret not picking up another Dreadball Stadium, especially as by the end of the show they had them for £25! I was also really interested by a range I had not come across before – Z Clipz by Studio Miniatures.

Amphitheatre

So onto the spoils, and like I said I did buy a lot of Dreadball. I picked up booster squads for both my human and robot teams, as well as two hard-hitting MVPs Buzzcut and DRB7 Firewall and the Azure Forest supplement. Away from Dreadball I got some red dice (because red ones roll higher – it’s science), and a the aforementioned Ork Big Zzappa.

Firewall Buzzcut

Human booster

dice

It wasn’t the biggest haul I know but it was what I wanted and regrettably all I had time to get the rest of my day was meeting some of the #warmongers at the meet up, watching the mild-mannered Mat turn into a model buying machine and the rest of the day was business, meeting some great companies and talking about their new projects and The Shell Case. It should make for some great articles over the next few months.

Short Daemon Tactica: Bloodcrushers of Khorne

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Bloodcrushers of Khorne are pretty deadly, even though they have been somewhat downgraded since last edition, and are still a prime assault unit of any Daemon force.  There are even a few ways to overcome the units’ new problem with 2+ armour saves. Plus, it also gives me an excuse to break out a  MegaDeth song.

Ok, lets start from the beginning, because it colours a lot of people’s perceptions about the usability of Bloodcrushers. It will also explain why, depending on where you play, Daemon players are likely to throttle you if you try to bring up the unit in a conversation.

Bloodcrushers useful

A typical reaction to “I still think Bloodcrushers are useful”

Now, last edition the unit were god level good. They had a one point higher toughness, a 3+ save and power weapons still ignored all saves completely instead of just being AP3 Hellblades like they are now – so naturally every Daemon force had a unit or two.  But instead of screaming ‘Worst.Unit. Ever!’ like some parts of the internet, I’ll be explaining how to use them best, despite their diminished status. Call it an act of spite for having to wade through a year of forum after forum saying Phil Kelly is the worst human alive [I thought it was The Cruddace? - Ed]

For a start, Bloodcrushers are now Cavalry, making them able to cross the board by Turn 2 instead of being late game challengers as they were in the past. This increased speed somewhat makes up for a diminished survivability and means that the unit is now able to do flanking attacks or surprise a unit or two (not to mention they can pick and choose their targets more readily to avoid those pesky 2+ saves). Combine this with the ability to strip a unit of cover from the Bloodcannon and they can still kick a lot of arse.

Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop

Bloodcrusher model by Games Workshop

Now, whilst their use is mostly limited to killing 3+ save units (of which there are many), the addition of a unit champion or Heralds gives you access to AP2 weaponry. The Axe of Khorne is one of the few god specific weapons I would consider trading the humble Etherblade for, as it has the same stats and swaps Master-Crafted for Instant Death on a 6 to
wound. What your play style is will determine which upgrade you choose I think.

One big change to Bloodcrushers is that I would now consider Deep Striking them, or at the very least hugging cover. That increased vulnerability, paired with their reputation from the last codex, means they will attract a lot of firepower – especially in Space Marine or Necron armies where AP3 close combat weapons are a scary prospect.

All in all, Bloodcrushers aren’t the strongest of units you can have in a mono Khorne force. But use them well as they will still eat a few units before their demise and draw a lot of firepower. For that, and the awesome models, they are worth trying.

So what are you waiting for? Its time to crush ‘em!

Bloodcrushers are available from Firestorm Games, priced £30.15.

Dataslate: Chaos Helbrute – A Review

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Hot off the presses and hot on heels of the new Helbrute kit we have the Helbrute Dataslate.

Being a long-term Chaos Space Marine player, with a penchant for the slightly crazed, and considering that the Helbrute kit is really rather good (see my previous review for more on that front), I am pleased to report that the dataslate adds another, rather funky, aspect to including these lumbering, homicidal, dameon engines in a Chaos Space Marine army.

eBook_40K_Dataslate_FC_Hellbrute

First up, the dataslate reiterates and expands the background surrounding the Helbrute. The additional fluff builds upon the elements of the character of the Helbrute that I like the most. Just as the unpredictability in their rules demonstrates, the various denizen commanders of the traitor legions struggle, as much as they revel, in the tactical complexities inherent in deploying Helbrutes as part of a fighting force. Reading the descriptive text and accompanying prose really gives you a sense of how the presence of one or more Helbrutes in an army generates a tension within your forces. Some legions might venerate and worship the incarnate abominations crashing across the battlefield, others might treat them as purely expendable and use their abhorrent appearance to force their enemies to focus all fire to bring them down, before they can rampage through their battlelines. Games Workshop have followed on their recent theme of generating rules to support the narrative in the fluff for in-game use and provided three different formations that nicely encapsulate the bizarre character of the Helbrute and the role it can play in destroying your opponent’s forces.

There are three flavours to the formations offered by the dataslate:

Mayhem Pack

What’s better than one Helbrute rampaging from your back lines across the wastes of war? Why three of course! And why not deep strike them in to maximise their threat? The Mayhem Pack allows you to take a formation of three Helbrutes and deep strike them onto the battlefield from reserve. There’s no additional cost for fielding this formation, but all Helbrutes that are fielded as part of a Mayhem Pack have to make a crazed roll (one roll affecting all pack members) at the beginning of each movement phase. It would appear that being held back from battle for ‘tactical’ reasons is not something that sits well with a psychotic, daemonic engine of destruction. Who knew?

Helcult

What would you think, y’know budding cultist that you are, if the entombed remains of a deranged god-warrior now bound inside a monstrosity of metal and madness appeared next to you on the battlefield.? Well, apparently you’d want to stick to it like PVC to a Daemonette’s ass, and rush headlong into battle alongside it. The Helcult formation lets you field a Helbrute with 2 units of cultists and gives both the Helbrute and the cultists some suitable “let’s get crazy” advantages, including a 3+ cover save for the Helbrute (for the willing sacrifice of a cultist). The main drawback is that when in melee, the Helbrute’s rolls of 1 to hit means he’s mashed up a cultist instead, but if you lose the Helbrute, the cultists get kind of ticked off…

Helfist Murderpack

I bet when you woke up this morning your first thought was “I seriously need to field 5 Helbrutes in a unit. But only if one of them is a super nut-job that all the other Helbrutes in the unit look up to like some kind of Alphabrute of murderocity!” It’s a word. Well, you’re in luck.

I have to say, I am seriously tempted by this option. I mean just the idea of having 5 of these things as a rampaging mobile moshpit of death, smashing its way across the battlefield is enough to make me go out and buy three more kits. And I’m guessing that Games Workshop are hoping many people feel the same way. To be honest the rules aren’t that stellar. They count as a vehicle squadron, which is never a good thing and the alpha-brute/champion itself is a character who has to participate in challenges. The champion does gets an invulnerable save and means you can pick the crazed result for the whole pack. As with the Helcult, the rest of the Helbrutes get pretty aggro if you beat up their bossman, but really you aren’t going to find anyone complaining that the game is suddenly broken because of this (or any of the other) formations. It will just look frickin cool!

Fluffy awesomeness

This isn’t a dataslate containing formations that suddenly make Chaos Space Marines the new meta or the centre of the next round of net lists, not even close. Although I do think that the Mayhem Pack has some serious potential and in the right situation the Helcult could be very handy. If, however, you’re interested in adding a chunk of Helbrute goodness with more than an average dollop of fluffy goodness to your list, then this dataslate might be right up your alley. It’ll certainly make a change from the usual multiples of Heldrakes.

Right then… Imperial Knight converted to Helbrute champion anyone? Or was that just me?

Short Daemon Tactica: Building Slannesh Lists

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It’s time to break out the bondage gear, zip up the gimp masks, and think on the kinds of  Slaaneshi lists one could construct.

Overall when you go for mono Slaaneshi lists, it’s not a case of if you can build a fast army, it’s just asking yourself how fast you want it to be. Because make no mistake, Slaaneshi units are some of the fastest units a daemon player can field and an entire army of them will be across the board in three turns at most. But with that comes vulnerability, namely a low Toughness stat across the board for all of its aligned units.

So around this thought comes my first potential list. As per my Nurgle list article, all of them will be 1500 points.

The Fast and the Furious

Superbly painted models, posted by gonzosbignose on Warseer

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

10 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos. Alluress, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

 6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

Seeker Cavalcade. 3 Seeker Chariots

Total: 1486 points

Fragile but deadly and almost entirely mounted, the idea of this army is for it to smash into your opponents army before they have a chance to take advantage of this lists fragility.

The Daemonette units with Instruments of Chaos are to help with not only Deep Striking, but to reduce the effects of a bad roll on the Warp Storm table, which will affect this type of army more than most.

The inclusion of chariots is a bit of a hypothetical at the moment as I’ve not gotten the chance to using them in a game – I hope to remedy that soon!

Death by 1000 Cuts

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement, Steel of Slaanesh

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

18 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

15 Daemonettes. Alluress, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

Total: 1500 points

This army is very much the hoard, relying on cheap Deamonettes to do most of the work. Throw in the odd Herald or tougher unit like Seekers to deal with or delay any tough units the army encounters and the jobs a good’un.

Killer Queen(s)

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

12 Daemonettes. Instrument of Chaos

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward, Warp-forged armour

Total: 1499 points

If you will forgive the slightly ludicrous title, this is a Monstrous Creature heavy list. A small few units of Deamonettes are around to act as objective holders whilst the heavies do their job and scare the bejezus out of your opponent!

Bringing it all together…

A balanced Slaanesh force painted by ArbitorIan from Dakka Dakka

Keeper of Secrets. Greater reward, level 3 psyker- 250 poin

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement

Herald of Slaanesh. Greater reward, Exalted Locus of Beguilement, Steel of Slaanesh

12 Daemonettes.Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

12 Daemonettes. Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

12 Daemonettes. Icon of Chaos. Alluress, minor reward

6 Seekers of Slaanesh. Heartseeker, lesser reward

3 Fiends of Slaanesh

Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings, Psyker level 2, exalted reward

Total: 1496 points

Soul Grinder. Mark of Slaanesh. Warp Gaze

Having a more balanced force has its advantages. By combining the many different elements, you can get the hard-hitting and staying power of Monstrous Creatures and the speed of Seekers of Slaanesh. The only problem is fitting it all in  a 1500 point limit!

And with that, I’m done with Slaanesh for now. Come back next week when I will start (finally!) talking about Khorne. He’s already angry he’s been waiting his turn this long, so it will have to be a good one – or else!

The Slaanesh range from Games Workshop, along with many alternative models,  is available from Firestorm Games for a minimum of 10% off!

A Tale of Two Armies – Chapter 4

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAfter a longer pause than intended, we submit to you, dear reader, the fourth chapter in the continuing saga of von Bomburg and von Strauss…

All along the clearing the forces of Order and Chaos clashed. Skullcrushers rampaged through units of infantry, Chaos Knights, atop mighty, yet twisted, steeds charged through regiments five times their size and laid them low. Yet amidst the seemingly senseless, explosive, violence there was an out-of-place oasis of calm. The eye of the storm. An implacable block of Warriors of Khorne, their armour daubed a muddy red, their shields locked and their feet beating the ground in perfect time moved towards the familiar form of the von Bomburg household guard. At it’s centre: the emaciated form of Ludwig von Bomburg.

Otto clucked his tongue. It saddened him to see how far his brother had fallen, but it was understandable what with that brute von Strauss dogging him for years. Were it not for a touch of luck and his own guiding hand, the Red would have had Ludwig’s head on a spike years ago. Poor bastard. But his own patron had plans for his brother, as she did him. And she would not be denied.

The battle flowed back and forth, losses mounting on both sides. Carrion birds circled overhead, squawking to the men below to hurry up and finish the bloody business before them. Mangy dogs that followed the scent of death were already pulling at corpses. Growling and snapping amongst themselves to be the first to feed. To Otto’s gifted sight he could see daemon things licking at the fabric of the world, hungry to taste the blood of the fallen. To caper amongst the entrails and severed heads. And to take the skulls back to their master.

von Strauss was yet to commit himself to the fight, content, it seemed, to allow his Skullcrushers and their deranged mounts the chance to gorge themselves on sweet meats of Marienburg fighting men. Although losses were mounting for the subjects of the Blood God, they would ultimately prevail. Nothing could stop their ferocity. Or deter their mortal master.

Otto closed his eyes for a moment and reached out with his nethersight, touching the minds of the Demigryphs. Nudging their curiosity and firing their hunger, he coaxed them to turn their heads from the main force they were galloping towards and focus on the clanking wall of doom that made up von Strauss’ escorting regiment of Warriors. The minds of disciplined soldiers were hard to manipulate at this range but creatures were far easier. Base instincts were something he understood all too well, and with the tiniest poke and prod he had done little more than stoke the fires of the Demigryphs’ natural aggression.

Otto smiled to himself, his pale features folding around lips painted thick with rouge, as he saw the alarm on the faces of the Demigryphs’ riders. He suspected it was as much to do with their hulking, clanking, target as it was the unprovoked change of direction. The Demigryphs picked up speed, shrieks ringing out from their cruel, hooked, beaks. Otto’s smile broadened as a ragtag mob of primitives turned to face the creatures, their bearded thug of a leader raising a crude axe and bellowing orders in their guttural language. They didn’t stand a chance. Had they not been in the grip of their blood frenzy they might have seen it.

The marauders didn’t so much collide with the Demigryphs as explode against them. They were hopelessly, hilariously, outclassed. Otto’s fingers twitched as his mind poked and prodded the minds of the Demigryphs, like a conductor directing a grand orchestra. Every tear of muscle, spray of blood and scream blended together into a symphony. The creatures lunged and rendered with unerring accuracy. Within minutes the entire mob was bloodied chunks of meat in pools of spreading gore. The Demigrphys hooted and chirruped their satisfaction and began to move on, towards the Warriors and hulking form of von Strauss. He had stopped to watch the slaughter. Otto had assumed the simple-minded brute was merely transfixed by the carnage but he corrected himself. For the followers of the Blood God it wasn’t, as most assumed, a sexual high or even a euphoric one. The frenzy didn’t stop them in their tracks, it drove them onwards as if Khorne himself was at the press of his follower’s backs.

No, he was thinking. Otto felt unease settle in his stomach as he scanned the tree line and then the hills. Eventually the featureless gaze of his horned helm rested on Otto. Even though he was miles away, Otto knew that von Strauss could see him. The blessings of Khorne had seen to it that the Red was far more than a mere man. Otto watched with a growing sense of fear – that made his body tremble so new was the sensation – as von Strauss lift his hunting spear in challenge before quitting the battle field with his warriors in tow, leaving five of his finest warriors to slow the Demigryphs down if only for a moment.

von Strauss didn’t even give his forces a cursory glance as he rushed back towards his own lines and into the trees, his retinue close at his heels. On the battlefield the tide had turned. The various arcane contraptions with which Ludwig waged war were taking their toll. Although the Marieburger force would be lucky to have a soul left alive but the forces of ruination would be wiped out. Not that it seemed to bother all that much.

‘Well,’ He said to himself as much as his patron, he was always listening, ‘I suppose it would be rude to pack up and leave.’ He drew a gnarled root from the flowing folds of his purple rob and began chewing on it. He closed his eyes as he felt the narcotics working their magic. He chuckled to himself as he got comfy, perching atop an old tree bole, root clenched in between his teeth as he patiently awaited the Red.

***

The armoured fist around his throat snapped Otto from his trance state. He had cast his mental net wide and was reaching out trying to soak up the raging storm of emotions that seethed in the forest and nearby townsteads. His body was opening up to the nature of existence as seen through the eyes of Slannesh only to be yanked free so close to enlightenment…

von Strauss would pay.

Before he could utter a word of protest or lay a curse upon von Strauss, the armoured giant lifted him into the air and began to squeeze. What little colour was left in his sallow complexion drained away and he gasped and flailed against the iron grip.

‘Why?’ The sound was like an avalanche. A deep bass rumble that threatened unimaginable violence. Otto, in his own way, was just as powerful as von Strauss. He had been blessed many times over by his mistress but with his brain being rapidly starved of oxygen he could do little more than try to stay conscious. And it was a battle he was losing. Forcing his manicured hands between the purpling skin of his throat and the gore red gauntlet he used all his diminishing strength to bend a digit back enough that he could draw a wheezing gasp.

‘Because She wills it.’ He managed.

von Strauss’ obvious disgust was punctuated by throwing the sorcerer bodily to the floor. Otto hit the ground hard and he felt something break and his arm exploded in pain. He rolled on the floor in a state of ecstasy, momentarily lost to the pain pleasure that was surging around his body, lost to the gravity of the situation. But the sensation passed all too quickly and his mind returned to the moment and the armoured monster looming over him.

‘So weak.’ von Strauss growled, disgust dripping from every word. He reached for the spear lashed to his back, the blade a seething mess of madness and dark light, preparing to finish off the whelp of Slannesh. Otto lashed out a hand, speaking a string of oily words that had no place in the material realm. A seething wave of energy struck von Strauss and for a moment the Khorne lord disappeared. Otto’s elation was replaced with cold dread as von Strauss appeared seemingly unharmed. Something approximating a laugh emanated from his helmet. It made Otto feel immediately sick and his head began to swim. von Strauss drew his spear and deftly spun it in his grip raising it high above his head, ready to plunge it into the stricken form of Otto von Bomburg. In the distance the sounds of battle had died away. He knew his forces were scattered but he cared not. More flocked to his banner with each passing day. For every skull he took and town he burned in his efforts to wreak misery on the son of Marienburg his power grew.

Silence fell upon the hill. Even the cawing flocks of carrion birds had given up their incessant complaining. Even the low rumble of von Strauss’ heavy breathing had faded to nothing. Otto blanched in the face of his own mortality, the fear gripping him tasting bitter depriving him of the thrill he’d felt so often in his life. He screwed his eyes shut, earning a snort of disgust from von Strauss, as he offered up prayers to his mistress, promising her his soul, the soul of his brother and all who follow him and the life of von Strauss, the favoured of Khorne. The spear lunged downwards, the blade an ever-changing horror of leering faces and daemonic fire. The edge rippled with black light as it sliced through the air.

The blade impacted with the thin, accentuated, metal of Otto’s chest plate and shattered. von Strauss was thrown from his feet as the dark energies bound within the ancient weapon were suddenly unleashed. Otto howled as the dark energies scoured his form, cooking his flesh and fusing his ornate armour to his body. But he did not die.

By the time Otto stood on quivering legs von Strauss had already recovered, his armour scorched and smoking but otherwise unharmed. The chuckle again. ‘It seems, little man, your God favours you. No matter.’ He said tossing the splintered spear haft into the bushes, the smoking end immediately setting the brittle branches alight. ‘ I will have your brother’s head, and yours. And you will perish in such agony not even you will find pleasure there. Besides,’ He growled, ‘This will make it much greater sport.’

As von Strauss left the shattered form of Otto von Bomburg, the Deviant of Altdorf, surrounded by flames and atop scorched earth where once thick grasses grew he cast one last glance back. ‘No more hiding for you, little man.’

Leaked 40k Chaos Helbrute Images

After a loooooooooooong wait Chaos Space Marine players can rejoice that a multi-part plastic Helbrute is finally on its way. By the looks of the leaked photos below there’s only one body option but several head pieces so kinda like the plastic Venerable Dreadnought for their loyalist counterparts. And, of course, a bunch of weapon options including plasma cannons, big smashy hammers and big smashy fists.

Interestingly it looks like they’ve opted for corrupted versions of the current Space Marine Dreadnought rather than a pre-Heresy/Contemptor version. I’m not disappointed perse it just would have been cool to see a wibbly Contemptor Dreadnought stomping about gaming boards.

helbrute1helbrute2helbrute3

 

Chaos Slaughterbrute – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyRegular readers will know that the ambition behind A Tale of Two Armies is to gradually build our forces up by 500 points a month, each month, until we hit 3,000 points. This month we’ll be busting out 2,000 points which will mean using the Dragon Ogres and other such nasties. The Slaughterbrute I was planning to hold in reserve until the larger games but I simply couldn’t resist getting one now and telling you all about it.

Warhammer-logoSo I’ll address the elephant in the room straight away. I have always disliked this model. Aside from being a random daemonic beastie in an army that wasn’t supposed to have daemonic beasties any more, I didn’t like the pose and I didn’t much like the head options.

As Lee and I embarked on this project and I began to read and re-read through the army list I quickly came to the realisation that to not take a Slaughterbrute in the army would be utterly utterly stupid. With Lee’s cannons, the steam tank I knew he’d eventually take and things like Demigryphs running about the place it I’d need something hideous to either act as a line breaker or as a cannon magnet. Either way it would serve a very useful purpose. So putting my prejudices of the model to one side I added it to my list.

The funny thing about our hobby, and the fairly addictive nature of it, is that even though I had mixed feelings about the model I was still excited when it turned up at my door. I was excited when I opened it up and was excited when I looked over the sprues. And as I scrutinised the frames and flicked through the instructions I realised something: the model is actually pretty cool. Hope replaced self loathing for having sacrificed my principles in favour of a brutish unit killer. And so I got down to the business of building the largest plastic Warhammer Fantasy kit I’ve ever constructed.

SlaughterbruteNow, just to be clear, I’m focussing on the Slaughterbrute as I’m collecting a Khorne army (if you hadn’t guessed by now) so if you want to know about the Mutalith I’ll touch on the components but that’s your lot.

The kit is actually a little bit remarkable. As I built the various sections – which kinda felt like a Lego kit in that respect – I was impressed by how each component was key cut to not only fit snugly with its counterpart but also give maximum strength to model as a whole. It does mean, mainly thanks to the really quite crap instructions, it’s not always obvious how the components fit and you also have to be precise with the glue otherwise you risk smearing it the kit slots together.

Once built all the crap that bothered me about the Slaughterbrute kit, I realised, was entirely down the to the crappy paint job and lousy photography. The raised arm isn’t at a perfect angle, and a bit odd-looking but it does tie in with a lopsided, barely held together, creature from beyond. The general feel of crustacean fused with hunched long limbs of a primate works really well and throw in the multi-eyed, multi-tongued, multi-horned head and it’s got bags of menace and looks like it can dish out the hurt its stat line says it can. The heads are a bit OTT but, again, doesn’t look as stupid in the plastic as it does in the Games Workshop photography.

As for the Mutalith components, again, they’re actually much nicer than the images suggest. And if you have built the Slaughterbrute so have the parts going spare it wouldn’t take much to a Chaos portal. And a very cool one at that. Or, alternatively the tentacles would be ace as some kind of wibbly piece of terrain.

In a game, the Slaughterbrute is a walking bad day. For a big slobbering start, the Rune of Binding gives it the Weapon Skill & Leadership of a chosen Hero or Lord which means that this walking tank will be hitting just about anything it charges on a 3+. Throw in Strength 7, Toughness 5, Wounds 5 and Attacks 4 and it all gets a little unpleasant. Granted with only 4 attacks the woe it unleashes will be fairly contained but its ability to draw attention and causing Terror will be a definite and real headache for any opponent. Work it in unison with a unit of Dragon Ogres and they’ll carve themselves a pretty tally from your enemy’s hide. And between them they could turn a Steam Tank to tin foil.

For 20 points more you can chuck in a couple of extra Strength 5 attacks. Which is tasty. So 6 attacks, total, with plenty of muscle behind them. With some very lucky rolling you can pull down one, maybe even two, Demigryph Knights. Which pleases me immensely. It does mean the Slaughterbrute weighs in at 225 points which is a bit hefty. Especially as there are other units that can dish out more hurt for the same level of investment. However the Slaughterbrute gives you a high hit rate, with the strength of a cannon ball, and the added bonus of causing Terror. The 4+ scaly skin save and the fact that it’s a large target does make it vulnerable to enemy fire and it’s an expensive unit to lose in that way but I suppose if your opponent is concentrating on the Slaughterbrute then they’re not punching holes in your Knights and Skullcrushers.

So, whilst you can throw your points at Dragon Ogres, Chaos Ogres or a big units of Knights for the same points, but somehow, when you’re fielding some – or all – of those units already, it’s just not as fun. And I suppose that’s really what the Slaughterbrute will give you when you field it. Granted it won’t necessarily be fun for your opponent but I think you’ll be able to live with it. It’s big, it’s daft and it’ll kick face.

The Slaughterbrute/Mutalith kit is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.00.