Another imminent release another batch of leaked photos. Below we have the rumoured Wraith Knight as well as a glimpse at the Codex art. The eagle eyed amongst you will also notice the Iyanden Codex Supplement which pretty much tells you what you’ll have to do if you had a specific craftworld in mind. Prepare to dig deep in those pockets…
So regular readers will know that I rather took to the Tau Empire Codex. Followers on Twitter will know that I decided to collect a small 1,000 point force to use as allies with my Ultramarines. Quite what 9,000 points of Ultramarines, including the full first company needs from 1,000 points of Tau I don’t know but I wanted some and didn’t want to break my ‘no new Games Workshop’ army rule.
I started the project by quite impulsively buying the Commander Shas’o R’Alai model at Salute. At that point I hadn’t even written a list and wasn’t sure if I wanted crisis suits because I dislike the plastic models so much.
R’Alia however is just too cool not to use as a force Commander. I just love the look of the model. Aside from being a graduation to a more ‘grown up’ style, it just feels like it was intended for war. Granted, the submunitions rifle helps but still.
I also loved the fixed sensor ‘head’. Aside from looking far more menacing than the standard block heads I like the idea that the head is purely a design choice and not actually needed for the pilot to crump skulls and mang faces.
The other thing I love about the model is it kinda reminds me of the robots from Castle in the Sky. I dunno why. Maybe it’s the segmented gangliness. Maybe it’s the glowing read eye.
Although in Castle in the Sky the robot has a laser face. Which is something the Tau should maybe look into.
But anyway, the model is way cool. The design is a little like a Transformer in so much as it looks like it could change into a plane or something at a moment’s notice.
In terms of building the model, however, the coolness ends and is replaced, instead, by misery. The biggest problem with Forge World kits is usually Forge World themselves. They’ re such an excitable bunch of scallywags that they design kits without really thinking about the practicalities of cleaning or building them. Let me explain: to build the model you have to glue the feet, legs, hip joint and body all pretty much at the same time. This is very difficult. It is also made worse by the fact that the feet and the ankle joints don’t fit. At all.
So you’ll have to resort to the time-honoured method of slapping on slightly more glue than is needed and getting everything stuck together before the super glue sets. Needless to say it can result in the pose not being quite what you wanted so if you can, try blu-tacking it all together first, especially as the arms are no better. Although they’re very cleverly designed using a curve and pivot joint which allows quite a degree of poseability but still being straight forward to build.
The story is a similar one with the Shas’o R’myr’s suit which I bought as a unit leader. Although this bad boy is a conversion kit, using the back and feet of the standard crisis suit. The fit between the two torso halves is surprisingly good and does wonders to change the look of the crisis suit that I’m amazed at least a conversion kit wasn’t made available for the re-release of the Tau range.
I also love the head. Again, it’s just a more interesting look and the single aerial on the back makes the whole look sleeker and more menacing. Same for its load out really. Twin-linked plasma rifles and big boss of a shield is nothing to be sniffed at. But, again, the kits is let down by the over ambitiousness of the kit and the often non-existent QA at Forge World.
Aside from the legs coming in two parts hand having to stick to plastic feet, they also had to stick to a body made of two difference materials creating a socket that wasn’t completely flush. Needless to say it collapsed under its own weight more than once in the process of building it. But the icing on that particular turd flavoured cake was that one leg had been soon poorly cast that it was not just warped but transparent. I shit thee not you could see right through the entire joint piece. Granted this isn’t going to be an issue once the model is painted but the brittleness of the joint has got me treating the model with kid gloves. More so than I would normally with the shatter prone resin that Forge World uses.
It occurs to me that you’re almost better off building the models of they’re on flying stands so the pose is much easier to position. Although there’s every chance you’ll have every crisis suit looking like a not-gay Dean Cain taking to the skies on cable from the Adventures of Superman, complete with awkward bent leg.
The bottom line, however, is that the crisis suits from Forge World are immensely cool. So much cooler than the standard GW ones and if I’m honest they’re worth the higher prices and the frustrating amount of cleaning and build time required. They’re even worth the truly reckless amount of wastage Forge World produces. The models just look ace. They look like they’re designed by a species surprisingly bothered about looking good whilst they kick your face in. Which is absolutely the way it should be.
So it would seem that the Specialist Games part of the Games Workshop will be closing its doors. Although Games Workshop had left the greatest of all its children out in the cold for years now, it did still produce the models and make the rules available. Throwing their pariah child the barest scraps to keep going.
Despite this, Battlefleet Gothic, Mordheim and Epic Armageddon and others found a place in many a gamer’s heart. Including mine. Gothic is still my favourite game and Mordheim the most played amongst me and The Chaps. This love affair has endured despite no updates since Fanatic magazine and some truly terrible sculpts that would put most gamers off. It has endured through price hikes and restricted ranges. It. Has. Endured.
But no more. Games Workshop has announced that when the current stocks of metal models sell out, that’s it. No more. Ever. And, sadly Forge World are towing the company line and will be withdrawing from sale all Battlefleet Gothic and Epic lines from their site.
This doesn’t come as a surprise as the moment they announced Finecast I knew Specialist Games’ days were finally numbered. It’s a genuine tragedy that the most loved games the company have ever produced are the ones they loved the least and supported even less than that.
What this means of course, is that if you want to get your hands of anything for those games then you’ll have to be quick. It also means the second-hand market is going to go mental.
Although it’d be nice if the rules were still made available but with no models it’d be pointless so it really looks like this is it. It’s an inevitable course of things I suppose. All good things must come to an end but I’m struggling with the thought that when I speak about Battlefleet Gothic or Mordheim to a novice or returning gamer I will have to do so in the past tense. That soon gamers won’t have that same pang of excitement I got cracking open a box of Imperial Cruisers or a Battleship is just terrible.
Worse still, new gamers coming to the Games Workshop for the very first time won’t even know they existed.
I don’t particularly blame Games Workshop for making the decision. I’m amazed it took them this long. They tolerated the Specialist Games range far longer than their current business decisions suggested they would. But I suspect that the Specialist Games ranges were making a loss and that would only be tolerated for so long.
It’s an end of an era for Games Workshop – even with a limited boxset of Blood Bowl rumoured to be on the horizon – and it’s an end of an era for me and many others.
To the Specialist Games range and all those that have written rules and scenarios and sculpted models: I salute you. And will miss you dearly.
I’m a reviewing machine! Things have been a bit crazy at Shell Case towers these last few weeks but I’ve managed to find some time to clear down the review backlog. And you know what that means: more reviews to come! Huzzah!
As it says right on the box, this romp in the 40k Universe uses the Talisman game system. Nay sayers may comment that it’s a bit of a cheat just to reskin another game, but seeing as Talisman – or at least the version I played last in the mists of time – was bloody fantastic I’m really not bothered. And if it works, why wouldn’t you co-opt the mechanic. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and all that.
So what’s in the box? Well Fantasy Flight’s usual forest levelling amounts of card and carboard, a rulebook and some truly awesome playing pieces.
As one would expect from FFG, the production value is exceptionally good. The board is exquisite, as are the cards, counters and character trackers. And the playing pieces have GW casting quality. They all look lovely. Although the little stands are a stupidly tight fit.
However the the cards are really a touch too small. They’re small to save space but that’s only because there’s so many different kinds of cards. Because of this ergonomic design the easiest way of shuffling them is to make a pile and mess them all together. Aside from being annoying, it’ll quickly damage the cards.
And I don’t particularly understand why there’s three Threat decks. Aside from having a stupid – and oft-times misleading – name I question the logic of splitting out the three types of combat as it makes it very easy for players to game to their strengths, actively avoiding the style of combat they’re weakest in and using level ups to augment those attributes having done nothing to hone them.
For example: I used the Ogryn who is the strongest character in the game – yes stronger than the Space Marine – so I simply moved to red threat squares as much as possible to fight strength battles rapidly boosting my stats to the point that within a couple of hours I had maxed out my strength and health stats making me as hard as Ghazghkull Thraka.
I can totally understand why they did it but it has the potential to be abused by any character that has an above average stat in one of the three fields. And because of the point differences in stats the three best characters are the Orgryn, Ratling and Sister of Battle. And some characters turn out to be a bit rubbish. Weirdly the Callidus Assassin being one of them. Granted she has a special rule that gives you extra dice but that’s only really any use against harder targets. In reality she’s gonna get beaten up by the middle of the road enemies a lot.
To be fair, maybe that’s a conscious decision by the writers as part of the fun of Talisman was beating the game with the really shitty characters. But with certain characters not only getting the lion’s share of the cool rules but also having the ability to develop any attributes they want you’d be forgiven for feeling hard done by if you end up with one of the other characters.
Those grumbles aside though, the game works incredibly well. Everything is designed for quick decisions, quick play and quick progression. Which is just as well as the suggested playing time is utter tosh. Lee and I played for three hours and I was just reaching the point where I could attempt the third tier of the board. And that was thanks to so truly jammy missions and level ups on my part to make my Ogryn hench. But to be fair, providing you focus your efforts, you can get your character levelled relatively quickly which does give you quite a sense of achievement until you draw the Keeper of Secrets and it rips your face off.
You progress in Relic by completing missions which range from buying wargear at a specific location to deliberately picking fights with critters harder than you so you. This encourages you to explore the board, acquire equipment and, with it, develop your character and have a blood good chuckle in the process. In exchange for every 3 missions completed you earn Relics – geddit?! – which give your character a significant boost in some way. And only by having Relics are you able to complete the mission card placed in the centre of the board. Although you get to slog your way through a third tier which is just misery. You have to be tooled to the tits to stand any chance of surviving. Although the doom you can bring upon yourself is hilarious in its brutality and reminiscent of the various trials you have to roll for when you get to the middle of the Talisman board.
If I’m honest, the premise is a little flimsy and the volume of cards, counters and special rules you have to contend with meant that during the game we played, we weren’t entirely sure what the point of anything was but we just had to get one with it. Talisman’s objective was the far simpler – albeit less re-playable - goal of killing the dragon. Relic has a range of missions which creates a narrative but the rule book doesn’t really give any indication to that. And considering how excessively wordy it is you’d think they would have found space.
For all that the cards, although small and voluminous, they do serve a strategic purpose, particularly when you consider it’s possible to purchase, as well as find, wargear so augmenting your character is a very possible, and arguable vital, part of the gaming process. Although it does require the trading of influence which isn’t as easy to come by as one would like but it keeps the game balanced.
And encouraging players to level-up and improve their characters with relics and wargear keeps the pace and allows friendly rivalries to evolve between other players. And of course, as you stumble across the big beasties and fail to kill them because you’re too weak and shit, they stay there on the square so the board can quickly fill up with horrors that kick you in the hojos as you pass through. Which, again, can be hilarious for everyone else.
And as some of the cards are required to be placed on specific squares, your opponents can get some nasty surprises. Which is nice. But more than anything, despite Fantasy Flight making the rulebook horribly wooly, it’s a bloody good game. It’s got a nice and simple mechanic which means it’s quick to pick up. 20 minutes after kicking the game off we found our stride and had a huge amount of fun. It isn’t a quick game mind. We had played for 3 hours and still had at least an hour before I would have been in a position to comfortably enter the third tier.
For all my moaning, Relic really is a pretty good game. It’s simple to grasp – despite the iffy rulebook – and therefore simple to play and quick to enjoy. The character progression is nicely done and the character cards and progress trackers are brilliant albeit some of the characters seem a bit broken. It’s also such a pretty game that you’ll take time just to scrutinise the artwork as you land on each square. I’m still not convinced about the three separate Threat decks but it’s not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the game, but it does make the game easier to manipulate.
Relic coin for coin is one of the best board games I’ve played and one of the best value considering it’s a licensed product. It isn’t quick – you’ll need a solid evening or possibly a full day if there’s four of you and a tough mission drawn. But it’s a fun game, it looks great, the playing pieces are awesome and you’ll be with your mates so really I don’t see a problem. And I’m itching to play it again.
Warhammer 40,000 Relic is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.
The new High Elves stuff is available to pre-order and looking at the proper photography it looks pretty nice. I love the Shadow Warriors and, I hate to admit, I actually like the silly eagle flying chariot of flyingness. Let’s just leave physics out of it when discussing a game that features Elves in the first place and enjoy the spectacle.
Indications are the High Elves will continue to have the lions spare of the stabbiest, strike firstiest special rules and we can fully expect some nasty magic to go with it.
The High Elves release is set for the 4th May – Star Wars day as it goes…
Well we’re finally back after a bit of a pause so I could go off an become a daddy. With my progeny safely tucked up in bed I could get down with Jase, Nate, Adam (eventually) and Ashley and wax lyrical on the new Tau, mock the High Elves and all those who like High Elves and contemplate a world with the Games Workshop owned by Hasbro in Of Dice and Men episode 5…
As usual expect adult language and humour from the start.
It’s that time again boys and girls. So the Tau have had a badly needed shake up and got themselves a couple of new models and a shiny new book for their trouble.
First of all, the cover is absolutely spectacular. It’s quite possibly the coolest we’ve ever seen a crisis suit.
Secondly it’s also the best looking Codex of the new wave. The inlay is made of thicker stock but it’s still a little on the cheap side and the fold out was straight this time, but they’re still a pain in the arse and impossible to keep nice because GW aren’t printing that page on undersized A3. And there’s still bloody typos! It started promisingly enough but the further I got into the book they started cropping up. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; it’s really very poor form for Games Workshop to charge what they do and not thoroughly check their work.
But anyway, the book is undeniably beautiful and for the first time ever, interesting. I worked for the Games Workshop when the first Tau Codex came out and I blew my lousy keytimer wage on as much Tau stuff that I possibly could. I was swept up in new army fever and before I knew it I had a 3,500 point army – some of it painted – before I realised that the Tau were just a little bit bland. Fantastic army, but I just couldn’t get excited about them and it wasn’t long before they were at the bottom of my considerable stack of figure cases.
So lack lustre was my interest in Tau that I never got around getting the second iteration of the Codex – and the first to be called Tau Empire. Indications are that I haven’t missed much. This new Codex however feels very well-rounded and cohesive. For the first time I feel like that I understand the Tau, their place in the galaxy and their ambitions. And, more importantly, for the first time ever I give a shit.
It’s hard to explain but it’s just interesting. It’s perhaps down to the writing – shoddy proof reading aside – but it’s a surprisingly engaging background. Normally, being a life long Space Marine player, I get mildly indignant when I read in a non-Imperial Codex of the Imperium getting its arse handed to it. With the Tau it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Maybe it’s because the Tau are all so dead huggy about everything. Or maybe it was written without the usual unconscious bias towards the Imperium that Codices usually have.
That said the whole alien auxiliary thing is still massively wooly and I suspect down played because Games Workshop, despite rumours to the contrary, were not updating or releasing any new alien auxiliary units. Which makes me ask the question: why have them at all? The Kroot are fine albeit an acquired taste but the Vespid are shit, being massively overshadowed by the other units available under Fast Attack. And they’re still the only two units in the army and both lack Supporting Fire which is so incredibly handy you’d be mad not to field Tau units. Although is it me or would human auxiliaries make sense? They could have done a conversion kit to Tau-ify Cadian kits. Again, I suppose not worth the investment especially when customers can just buy a box of guard and a box (or two) of Fire Warriors.
The army list itself has had quite a few tweaks with no real additions other than the Riptide. It’s a beast of a model and can pack quite a wallop but be warned, it’s not as tough a nut to crack as it first appears as there’s about fourteen different ways for it to blow itself up. Mainly through the use of Ion weapons which GW have tried hard to make them worth taking with the overcharge function. Unfortunately it’s just not worth it when the standard firing modes are plenty good enough – basically a turbocharged autocannon – and only against horde armies would the overcharge ever be worth it – assuming you don’t blow your own arm off in the process as they Get Hot. And even then poses just too great a risk for the points investment. But despite all that it’s still immensely cool and I’ll probably have to get one just so I can paint it up as Optimus Prime. Because everyone knows Tau are Autobots and Necrons are Decepticons…
But moving on…
There’s now an abundance of Drones, the Tau Empire taking their lead from iPhone ads that must have only just reached their communication network – co-opting as they have Apple’s ethos so they have a Drone for that. This is by no means a grumble on my part as I love Drones. I had to big units in my army of old as between their twin linked carbine and toughness and initiative of 4 they were not only decent at shooting but not bad in a fight either. The variety is sensible and in line with the Tau’s ever-expanding understanding of technology, with certain drones only being available to certain units to augment what would otherwise be a staggering weakness in the theatre of war.
They may, however, have over egged the pudding slightly with Pathfinders, however, because they’re just sick. Awesomely so if you’re a Tau player but so much so that anyone I meet that doesn’t have at least one unit of Pathfinders in their Tau army I will openly mock. And why? Well, for a start they can take Pulse Accelerator Drones increase the range of any pulse weapons by 6″, boosting the carbine range to 24″ which for a strength 5, AP4, assault 2 weapon with Pinning is utterly horrendous. And all for 15 points for the unit. And that’s not including the drones that the Sha’ui can take. Or drones like the Gravity Wave Drone which can slow down an assaulting unit. And if you’re feeling really flush, chuck Darkstrider in there and all you non-vehicle opponents are at -1 toughness. So Space Marines are suddenly being wounded on 2′s from 24″ away with 20 shots from a full squad, a turn. Anything Toughness 3 gets instant killed. Dreadknights and Wraithlords suddenly aren’t so tough any more. Oh yes, Pathfinders are awesome. And that’s without looking at the other handy-dandy stuff like markerlights, rail rifles – which are awesome – and ion rifles – which are kinda awesome but I prefer rail rifles.
But we can’t have it all ways. The rumour that you could take Crisis suits as troop choices was untrue so gamers will be forced to buy either Fire Warriors which are starting to look a little dated with the shonky detailing on most of the legs, and the fairly inflexible poses, or Kroot which force you into a very specific way of playing. All I can see happening, is gamers buying a single Fire Warrior squad and splitting it into two 6 model units and blowing the rest of their points on the cool shit.
Granted, the Tau army list does encourage a mutually supportive structure but when the main troop choice not only lacks modelling options but load out options as well it’s not all that inspiring and your mind turns to ways of making them all but irrelevant – and with Pathfinders being pimp and all the other units in the game being slightly more awesome than they were in the past it’s not hard. But I suppose it comes down to something I’ve noticed with the all the latest army books and codices; Games Workshop want you to buy as much as possible rather than give you the flexibility within units to do some interesting stuff with a simple conversion. So actually however you choose to collect the army you’re either spending loads on Fire Warriors because there’s not much choice, or buying all the other stuff because you’d rather chew off your own arm than field dozens of the dome headed bastards in your force.
It’s a shame as the Fire Warriors as a unit are awesome, especially with the right use of Drones, Fire Cadre and Devilfish and there’s no denying their combat effectiveness, I just wish the sculpting on the legs was better and the arms not annoying. It’s equally disappointing that the Crisis suit kits weren’t redone but I’m just going to head over to Forge World. Yes it means paying a tenner more per suit but they’re just vastly superior kits.
Codex: Tau Empire is in my opinion the strongest codex to date. Aside from the background being brilliant, the army list reflects it faithfully. The greater emphasis on Drones alongside a more robust feel to the Broadside and the improvements with Pathfinders highlighting the new dangers the Tau face beyond their borders. It’s far too special rule heavy though, literally every unit in the book having something that would make their mothers proud of and it doesn’t always feel necessary. It’s just one more thing that’ll start arguments and slow down play until you learn them all. Some, I admit, are completely justified, others not so much.
To be honest I’m totally sold on the Tau. The variety in the army list allows for some fairly unique armies, beyond the stale core force, and, aside from the awesome design, the flyers in the Tau army feel like the serve a purpose as opposed to the Dark Angels one that felt like a bolt on. Presumably so they wouldn’t feel left out in the cold when Codex: Space Marines comes out in a few weeks time.
It’s not a perfect book, or a perfect army – the characters seem too cheap, the Vespid too dear and the hammerhead way too cheap for its destructive potential and again, the sheer volume of special rules makes my mind leak from my ears but, despite, all that, they’re finally an exciting army with real challenge to forming a force as well as a real challenge to use and face on the board.
Codex: Tau Empire is available from Firestorm Games priced £27 and the Tau range is available from £10.80
Another guest post from Chris (@Darth_Crumble) who was inspired by a post from a fellow warmonger on their blog. This time Chris muses on his GW hobby or lack thereof and the path it will take…
This post was inspired by this post by Erin, aka @sixeleven, on the difficulty of fully breaking away from Games Workshop:
My experience of trying to make a clean break is similar to Erin’s in that I am also haunted my the lure of the GW despite my better judgement. Like him, I feel the lure of the familiar rules, setting and toys. I started really looking at other game systems just under a year ago and I must admit that precious little has appealed to me the way GW – and 40k in particular – have.
I was briefly fascinated by Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars by Spartan Games, but after while I lost interest. I think although Spartan Games have a lot going for them they don’t score well enough on the three branches of background, rules and models to hold my interest. Of the two, I think Dysto has the bigger residual appeal and so far I am opting to keep my Britanian fleet with its HMS Warrior-inspired colour scheme.
Likewise, Warmachine and Hordes don’t quite grab me. Partly because there is no one model range that I like enough to collect an army, as and unfortunately I find a lot of the Warjacks and Warbeasts that are the focus of the games to be the least interesting models to me personally.
The only other game that has really grabbed me recently is Warzone Resurrection by Prodos. This is the first game that has grabbed me the way 40k used to. At least partly this is probably due to their similarities, both being 28mm sci-fi battle games set in a dark future. Though WZR is a very different game, not least because it is a D20 based skirmisdh game. Sadly WZR isn’t released until June though.
A lot of my nostalgia for the grim darkness of the 41st millennium is probably due to my continuing to read Black Library novels. I continue to read the Horus Heresy series, as well as Gaunt’s Ghosts, Ciaphas Cain, Space Marine Battles and one day I might get round to reading the Salamander trilogy. To be honest though, I was already steeped in 40k lore and it would no more cease to be part of my mental landscape than Star Wars, Batman, Transformers, Babylon 5 or any of the other fictional universes which I have enjoyed and have influenced me over the years.
It has been nearly six years since I last played 40k. Since then I have made some abortive attempts to collect and paint up news armies though I have never got as far as rolling any dice in anger. This has had a lot to do with the various distractions and other demands on my time the last six, extremely eventful, years.
The other issue has always been resentment of the cost. The thing about GW being not just the price of individual models, but the number you have to buy. I try not to be too irrational about this. I don’t want to be one of those people who object to a business as acting as such. But the question hanging over any transaction involving GW is whether I will get enough enjoyment to justify the cost. Of course a lot of the answer to that question is actually my responsibility to determine, and relates to how I go about my hobby and make the most of it.
I must acknowledge that GW’s behaviour has been pretty questionable, but there are lots of companies whose behaviour I find questionable but which I haven’t found myself feeling the need to boycott them, so that could just be a convenient excuse. Perhaps it’s just that GW’s brand of evil is a particularly cartoonish one, acting more like a parody of an evil organisation than the real thing.
So I have to ask myself whether I am not going back to GW because I genuinely don’t want to or if I am just being stubborn. Any hypothetical return to GW would involve me identifying an army that I genuinely wanted to collect and paint and play with. It would also need to to commit to collecting sensibly. Not buying so much stuff as to overwhelm myself but not dragging my feet either. It would also require me to not procrastinate and manage my time a bit better. Being a husband and father does make genuine demands on my time, but it can also serve as a convenient excuse to not do things sometimes.
I am of course tempted by the Space Marines, perhaps doing the Salamander or Crimson Fist army I’ve always thought of doing – possibly as #forgeworldonly project. I like the Imperial Guard, but that is genuinely an expensive force to collect and I’m not sure the ‘cheap’ all-veteran armies are actually all that viable. I like some of the shiny new Tau stuff, but I’m disappointed the Crisis Suit has not been updated and I have found Fire Warriors very painter-unfriendly in the past. Any army I do pick would need to have a codex up to date for sixth edition, I’m OCD like that.
Thanks to Erin for inspiring me to get this all of my chest. Maybe some of you other #warmongers have had similar thoughts?