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.

A Tale of Two Armies – Chapter 3

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAnd so we get to chapter 3 of the expanding tale of Ludwig von Bomburg and his nemesis; von Strauss the Red. This narrative relates to the 1,000 point game Lee & I played a month ago – yes I’ve been very slack.

von Strauss eyed the Empire army with grudging respect as they barreled towards the sacked town. Armour glistened, elaborate banners snapped in the breeze and blades were sharpened to a perfect and keen edge.

The beastmen were as craven as von Strauss had hoped. They were swept aside against the tide of the Empire’s charge as they thundered into the small, ruined, townstead. Blades rose and fell in the morning sun, glimmering like broken shards of light chased by a rainbow of deep claret. A few gors turned to face their attackers, running to improvised defences and lunging and stabbing with crude spears and rusted swords. It made no difference, the herd was in full-blown route. The morning air was filled with the thud of flesh cutting meat, brays of pain, wordless cries of rage and the drumbeat of hundreds of hooves and feet at full run. Carrion birds, gorged on the carcasses of the townsfolk, took flight on broad oily black wings, crying out their disgust, hooked beaks snapping at one another before settling into a lazy circling flight above the town awaiting fresh feed.

von Strauss jumped down from the rocky outcropping he was using as a vantage point and surveyed his own force. The might of the Blood God was arrayed before him. Knights in spiked armour, atop cruel and violent steeds jostled for position at the front of the charge. Along side them Juggernauts snorted and stamped, their own riders itching to cut flesh and break bone. Further down the line, amongst the trees, he could see the form of Baduk. Charged with commanding the second wave, he was hungry to prove his worth. Perhaps too hungry: he was pacing the line with his weapon drawn, every now and then turning to charge ahead before stopping himself. The path of Khorne was a difficult one. The weakest lost themselves to mindless blood lust and were little more than mindless warriors to feed into the gears of the war machine, but those that could control and channel the blood lust were true horrors of war. Baduk was teetering on the edge, his mortal form still adjusting to the blessed power bestowed upon him by their God. 

‘Hold!’ von Strauss roared. They need only wait mere moments more. Just long enough for the Empire force to chase the herd into the woods. Already he could see von Bomburg halting a portion of his force, as expected, to garrison the town, search for survivors and douse the fires. Just a few moments more and they’d be alone and powerless to stop what was to follow. The bray of the Dragon Ogres that had pledged themselves to his cause emphasised the point. The hulking beasts fought amongst themselves to prove their might, thudding clawed fists into pug jaws, snapping teeth amidst barks of mild amusement.

von Strauss turned as the last of the pursuing Imperial units disappeared into the treeline and raised his hand ready to signal the advance.

‘After them!’ Baduk’s voice cut through the background hum of an army ready for war. His words were immediately met with a roar of approval and the hundreds of bodies around von Strauss surged forwards even as he roared the order to hold. Baduk was already tearing through the trees, axes raised high above his head, those contingents closest to him in hot pursuit.

‘Hold!’ von Strauss bellowed just as Baduk’s own order to charge echoed through the trees. The blood lust had been left to build too long, the need to kill left unsaited and it was too much for the weak souls at his command crumbled beneath the weight of their unholy addiction and surged into the woods. von Strauss roared his frustration to the heavens, lashing out with his blade at anyone within reach damn fool enough to disobey his orders.

As the stampede died away and the dust settled he was left with barely a battalion of men. To his utter surprise some of his knights and skullcrushers had stayed by his side. Clearly the prospect of bloodletting not as powerful as the knowledge of what von Strauss would do to them if they dare disobey him.

He knew he had no choice. His army would have given themselves away. von Bomburg would know a large force was in the forest and either be fortifying his position or falling back to the mountain city of Middenheim. Taking one last look at the fraction of the army he now commanded he silently dropped his sword in a chopping action and his army advanced.

***

‘Sir.’ Viktor called as he lowering the telescope, ‘I think you better come and see this.’ The grizzled veteran and head of the von Bomburg household guard rested a hand on the shattered wall defences and sighed with the weariness of a career soldier at war. His lord was quick to respond, yanking the looking-glass from Viktor’s hand before cursing extensively.

von Bomburg drew his sword as he recognized a familiar figure at a quickening horde of warriors of the North. Breaking ahead of the force Knights on massive cruel steeds and hulking steel monstrosities were closing the distance at an alarming rate. He felt the cold steel of fear grip him and he felt the weight of the hip flask at his hip. He turned to Viktor, his guard commander disturbingly calm.

‘Muster the men.’

***

The soldiers of the Empire had advanced under the bellows of their sergeants to put distance between them and the town in the hope sparing any survivors that may be cowering in the ruins. The grass was long under foot and low hillocks offered no protection and only obscured line of sight to the detachment of handgunners and the cannon at von Bomburg’s disposal. The sparing of the peasants meant there was nowhere for von Bomrburg’s men to hide when the hulking cavalry at von Strauss’ disposal broke apart the Imperial line. Against the broken ribs of Immelscheld the foul knights of von Strauss’ army smashed aside their Imperial counterparts as quickly and as efficiently as a farmer bringing in the harvest. von Bomburg watched in horror as they were butchered to a man just as the knights on the daemonic creatures rode past the unit of Demigryphs gifted to him by Middenheim and smashed through his lines, slaying their way through his ranged units and the precious cannon at his disposal.

He watched in stunned disbelief as the two units slowly dismantled his forces. All around him his men died to the axe blows and swings of cruel edged swords. Just eight soldiers and their mounts, that’s all they were. And the two infantry units, with von Strauss at their head, had yet to engage. Perhaps Sigmar had decided it was his time after all…

Then he spotted them, the Demigryph knights that had failed to stop the cavalry charge were left perfectly positioned to attack the rag-tag group of Northmen running towards his own beleaguered unit. And attack they did. The foul tempered Demigryphs stormed into the marauders and butchered them. The knights atop them barely had time to draw their blades before little more than bloody chunks of the tribesman remained.

von Strauss and his unit turned to face the threat but his men knew it was hopeless and some of their numbered dragged him away from the fight, risking mortal wounds at the hands of their lord as he vented his rage, but better death at the hands of their lord than a lifetime of torture at the hands of Khorne for failing him.

von Bomburg stood at the centre of a raging storm of pain and death. His men gave their lives for him, dozens dying to just pull down a single Knight. They would prevail through sheer weight of numbers but the cost would be great. The Demigryphs collided with the warriors atop the daemon creatures and they tore bloody chunks from one another. The brass and metal beasts snorted and snapped as the Demigryphs screeched and flailed, claws of bone and steel crashing in sprays of blood and liquid fire. But already battered and bloodied from prolonged fighting the skullcrushers were driven off as the last of the knights were overwhelmed.

He stood on shaking legs, utterly unharmed with barely a dozen men left alive around him. The rest of his army he already knew were dead, torn asunder by the rest of von Strauss’ force and no doubt the fell beasts that he now knew had lured them from the safety of the mountain city. All around him lay the price of his folly. The broken bodies of his men and the foul corpses of his enemy lay entwined.

As he trudged back up the steep slope towards Middenheim with the survivors in tow he knew that he’d see von Strauss again and that the man would ultimately kill him. He would have no choice but to return to Marienburg shrouded in shame and begin the muster all over again.

***

At the edge of the woods an elegant rider watched the crushed warrior with keen, slate coloured eyes. His hair was long, pale and tinted purple and perfumed with a mixture of oils. Delicate ink work swirled up bare, tightly muscled, arms leading up to a suit of exquisitely crafted silver armour beneath which white robes patterned with pink flames.

‘Come on Ludwig, old boy, chin up.’

A Tale of Two Armies – Chapter 2

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAhead of the narrative to go with the 1,000 point game Lee and I played a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to write a middle part to set the scene, if you will.

von Strauss grunted with satisfaction as Baduk’s axe impacted against the chest of his beastman opponent with a wet snap of a split sternum. The beast grunted its own sound of simple approval, a cloud of steam billowing from a scarred snout, as the life bled from its eyes as quickly as it poured from his ruptured heart.  The beastman dropped to the wooded ground in an expanding pool of blood that blackened the grass and soaked the soil beneath. von Strauss eyed the herd master carefully. These twisted children of Chaos were unpredictable at best, stupid at worst, and as likely to turn on their allies as their enemies if the hunger took them too soon in battle.

von Strauss was loathed to deal with  the herd beasts at all but he needed their brutish simplicity to draw out his quarry from behind Middenheims grat gates. He knew the arrogant fool would be keen to prove his worth following the injuries he suffered at the hands of Baduk. von Strauss could sympathise, he too had suffered wounds and with it the displeasure of his patron. Baduk’s protection of his liege despite near fatal wounds of his own had earned exultation. Baduk’s ascension had been painful for both of them. von Strauss’ failure to slay von Bomburg had drawn Khorne’s attention. As Baduk had endured the fire trials the flames had leapt from the fire pit and enveloped von Strauss. The heat had burned him to his core. His skin had become liquid, mingled with his vital fluids, and flowed from the seams of his armour, swirling around his glowing red form. He hadn’t made a sound. To utter a word of protest would be to invite his doom.

As the embers of the fires grew dim and Baduk’s body crumpled to the floor, his armour creaking and pinging as it cooled in the night air. All around them the rest of von Strauss’ force stood in silent reverence. von Strauss himself stood reborn. He stood far taller than he had been and his armour was a resplendent crimson horror. The armour he’d worn into the Northern Wastes and had protected his body ever since was no more. Every edge was razor-sharp and made of brass and gold. The plates were swirling crimson coalescing into leering daemonic faces before dissipating into maddening patterns. He knew without having to try that he’d never be able to remove his armour again and his face would forever be the hollow eye sockets and vertical slit of his helm. Such is the price of failure.

Following the duel the von Strauss and the herdmaster had entered negotiations for their assistance. Trying to understand the beast’s gutteral tones was all but impossible but they had somehow made it work. At its conclusion the herdmaster had insisted on a feast to celebrate the alliance and the promise of man flesh that would keep the herd fed for weeks. Herds of twisted creatures cavorted and brayed as they feasted on raw, rotting, carcasses the origins of which von Strauss couldn’t determine. The clearing was ruined by black, jagged, herdstones adorned with crude runes of power that von Strauss could only just identify. They were all a far cry from the symbols of power that were inscribed on the armour of his men. The earth around the herdstones bubbled and seethed with the unholy powers infused in the rock. One moment the soil melted and bubbled like liquid, the next it was leering sucking mouths.

The beastmen bounded through fires, off rocks and on to one another’s backs rutting and biting and fighting the prospect of raiding an Imperial town too much for their simple minds. Minotaurs clubbed smaller creatures to the ground and ripped them apart, gulping down wet bloody chunks of flesh, the bones audibly cracking as the powerful jaws of the minotaurs made short work of their diminutive cousins. von Strauss and his men stood like crimson statues watching the orgiastic display impassively. If von Strauss could sneer he would have, Khorne didn’t need cavorting or debasement to prove obedience but skulls and murder. His hollow eyes rested on the herdmaster who, in turn, was looking on at his beasts like a proud father. von Strauss would take great pleasure in offering up his skull to Khorne once he’d served his purpose.

***

Immelscheld was a town much like any other in the Empire. A dense collection of rundown homes, a chapel, a watch house and a low, crumbling, curtain wall. Unlike many, but not all, of the towns of the Empire this town had been chosen by the fickle Gods of fate to be the object of ruin. As the sun dipped into the luminous hours of early evening the beastmen broke cover and charged. Far too far from the town, the attack was poorly positioned, by von Strauss’ design, so the small garrison could be roused to arms. von Strauss watched them run hurriedly to the walls, yanking on chainmail and struggling to tie beltswords around their waists.

The small garrison had fought bravely, not a man fleeing in the face of the maddened, drooling, horde of beastmen as they hacked their way into the down. von Strauss was reluctantly impressed by the garrison commander’s tactics: issuing every man under his authority to man the walls with a crossbow, felling dozens of beastmen and faltering their first charge. It gave the defenders just enough time to draw their swords. It mattered very little to von Strauss, all that mattered was the town burned and Middenheim responded. von Strauss watched at the head of his vst host, concealed in the woods South East of the town. The beastmen brayed and bleated as they sacked the town, citizens attempting to flee burning homes being cut down or set upon, snouts coming up bloody. von Strauss looked skywards as if sensing his patron’s attentions. Already the carrion birds circled, the heat from the burning town making them bob and wheel in the updraft as roofs collapsed in a shower of swirling sparks. The doomed town took a long time to die. Long enough for the beastmen to gorge themselves on the town’s inhabitants and pass out amidst the smouldering ruins. 

***

The first rays of light brought with it the trumpeting of horns and the snap of banners caught on the wind. At the head of a grand host of men in black plate armour Baron von Bomburg marched with renewed purpose. His own armour was polished with lapping paste to a brilliant sheen so it shone in the light of the early morning like a second sun. And he felt as luminous as he appeared. The healing process had been long but nothing compared to the time it took to recover his physique. Endless swordrill with Viktor had slowly sharpened his skills, rifle drill with his handgunners had brought back his aim and time with his fellow nobles had honed his mind once more to the art of strategy.

When a messenger from Immelscheld had reached the gates of Middenheim, exhausted close unto death, von Bomburg had relished the opportunity to put his abilities to the test, and to run out his army that had marched for so long to reach the mountain city only to find the Chaos raiders they’d been summoned to fight had vanished. von Bomburg spared a look at Viktor, ever at his side, and the rest of his household guard resplendent in the livery of his house and he felt his breast swell with pride. No finer unit of infantry existed outside the greatsword regiments charged with the protection of the Elector Counts.

Horns trumpeted again drawing von Bomburg’s attention to the town ahead. It was a smouldering ruin, blackened timbers from homes jutting into the sky like broken ribs. The chapel had fared only slightly better but that had only meant the beastmen had defiled it with feces and symbols and runes that made his eyes hurt. Bodies lay strewn in the streets and the town square, burst open from crude axes or torn to ragged pieces by inhumanly strong arms.

He glanced at Viktor and saw his look of disgust reflected in his oldest friend’s face. Viktor nodded towards his liege and brought his arm down in a chopping action. The horns sounded once more, causing dark and twisted shapes to caper from buildings and beneath broken down wagons and hurried towards the tumbled down walls. von Bomburg drew his sword, holding it aloft for all his men to see, a gleaming blade etched with symbols of power he didn’t understand.

‘Charge!’

A Tale of Two Armies – 1,000 point lists

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

As we hurtle towards the end of October we’re also fast approaching the next game Lee and I slog out for A Tale of Two Gamers. This month it’s a one thousand point game of fisticuffs. Surprisingly it was me that took the longest to write my army list as although the units I was adding was simple enough – Skullcrushers & Knights – it was the tweaking and jiggling about to get the most out of my army as possible, which primarily revolved around keeping my hero alive. And adding a little juice to make life unpleasant for his Imperial foes.

So, for your reading pleasure Lee & I humbly submit to you our 1,000 point army lists.

Khorne

Exalted Champion – 110 points – von Strauss the Red

Mark of Khorne +10

Enchanted Shield +5

Sword of Battle +20

Hideous Visage +5

Soul Feeder +10

Total 160 points

 

10 Chaos Warriors – 140 points

Mark of Khorne +20

Shields +10

Total 170 points

 

15 Marauders – 90 points

Mark of Khorne + 30

Light Armour +15

Shields +15

Chieftain +10

Standard +10

Total 170 points

 

6 Warhounds – 36 points

Total 36 points

 

5 Knights of Chaos – 200 points

Mark of Khorne +10

Ensorcelled Weapons +15

Total 225 points

 

3 Skullcrushers of Khorne – 225 points

Ensorcelled Weapons +9

Total 234 points

 

Overall Total 995 points

 Empire

Captain – 60 points – Baron Ludwig von Bomburg

Full Plate Armour +6

Sword of Might +20

Enchanted Shield +5

Handgun +5

Total 96 points

 

Battle Wizard – 65 points – Jurgen the Wyrd

Level 2 +35

Total 100 points

 

34 Spearmen – 170 points

Sergeant, Standard Bearer & Musician +30

Total 200

 

10 Halberdiers – 60 points

Total 60 points

 

10 Hand Gunners 90 points

Total 90 points

 

5 Archers – 35 points

Total 35 points

 

5 Knights – 110 points

Inner Circle +15 points

Total 125

 

3 Demigryph Knights – 174 points

Total 174 points

 

Great Cannon – 120 points

Total 120 points

 

Overall Total 1,000 points