Salute in Review: Mat Bought Toys!

Salute 2014

And relax… So that was Salute. Well I have to say for my first show since Games Day many moons ago it was great and I loved every minute… But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me take you back to the Friday before…

It’s Friday night and I’m getting ready for the early morning start to pick up Lee, Neil & Phil and make our way to ExCel London. My bag is packed with all the standard supplies, chocolate, Jelly Babies for that mid show sugar pick me up, Business Cards, Wallet with money (but no credit card) and of course my all important ticket. Now I have had a pretty hard week and not a great deal of sleep up to this point so I was really looking forward to getting an early night and some well deserved Salute action. But one more thing had to be done, the car needed to be sorted ready for the drive up, which meant fuel was required, or so i thought.

So I take myself down to the local petrol station. On route I realise I have three quarters of a tank of Diesel so I’m probably okay for fuel but as I’m out I think: sod it I’ll top it up. It’s at this point everything goes horribly wrong and nearly ends in my not attending Salute. So I’m at the petrol station idly watching the litres tick over on the unleaded petrol and…fuck my life!

I end up spending my Friday evening sat in the petrol station for 2 hours waiting for the AA to turn up only to tell me they will have to tow me home as they can’t drain the tank until the following day. Needless to say the wife was less than impressed and I didn’t get my early night. This did mean I had to take my little run around with 4 blokes up to ExCel. All things considered it did okay. It got us there and back in one piece and that’s the main thing.

But what about the other car Mat? well my wife waited in the next morning and a very nice man we will call Trevor turned up at 9.30am and drained the tank and topped it back up with enough Diesel for my wife to get to a petrol station and put the correct jungle juice in (which cost us £152 people check your using the right nozzle it can be an expensive mistake to make), enabling her to meet Phil’s wife for there prearranged play date (with our 1 year old daughters).

Jump back to 10:30am Saturday the 12th of April… SALUTE! MAT BUY TOYS!

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The Shell Case has landed.

 

There was so much to see my poor brain couldn’t take it all in at first, there were hobbyists everywhere and toys galore, I don’t think I’m remiss if I say it was an awesome humbling sight, and it made my wallet cry.

But before I got to buying toys we had to round everyone up say hello as some of us had never actually met in the flesh namely Rob and Reece, it was great to finally meet thee guys, it also meant I could reduce the weight of my bag as I had Robs business cards with me. And once handed over I wold have more room for toys.

I had to remember that I wasn’t just here to buy toys, I was here on business, and it was with this in mind we headed over to a few of the indie stands to chat to a few people about some truly interesting games, that not only looked awesome but sound utterly brilliant.
Among these was a game that has been mentioned a couple of times on The Shell Case now and that’s World Of Twilight: Travels through Anyaral
first mentioned by Gav Thorpe in his guest post, but I will leave Phil to tell you more about this. What I will say is the models are gorgeous and it looks fantastic, I for one am really looking forward to this one.

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A Game of Twilight in action.

 

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Next up was a very cool looking game that got Phil and I very excited, its in development by a company called White Dragon Miniatures its called Shattered Void and it looks and sounds truly brilliant, the models look great and the artwork so far is stunning, its also going to incorporate a bit of RPG so your pilots will evolve as you play more games, and the movement template is frankly inspired, it also looks the utter tits when being played, I was slightly disappointed they only had the one demo on the go as I would of really liked to of had a game of this and really get to grips with it. As I say it is still in development although some of the models were on sale on the day and it took a great amount of will power for me not to succumb. But rest assured when the Kickstarter is due to go live we will let you know all about it. This is definitely one to watch.

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A Game of Shattered Void in progress

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Some of the models already being produced and sold for Shattered Void

Another in development game we got to have a quick look at and chat to the producers of was a game called Twisted by Demented Games, this was in very early stage of development but is set to be  board game or maybe an RPG, I have to say I don’t think its 100% sure what type of game its going to be but one thing is for sure the models were beautiful, the ones we got to see were supposedly the main protagonists based on characters from Charles Dickens Oliver Twist (I’m guessing this is where the name comes from). From what I understood the initial board game idea sees different fictional characters brought to life by some sort of Engine. The Dickens characters are jumping about literature causing mayhem and mischief. As I say this is very early in its development and I think the concept is a little confused at the moment, but its still one to watch if not just for the stunning miniatures we saw. It will be coming to Kickstarter in the not too distant future, so keep your eyes peeled and hopefully by then it will have a better idea of what it wants to be.

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The Twisted Game Board.

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Some of the stunning models for Twisted.

Now… MAT BUY TOYS! I had a rather extensive list of things I wanted to get at Salute or at least look at but one of my main objectives was Pathfinders for my Tau force and some X-Wing shizzle to aid me in my ever growing struggle to actually win a game. So we all headed over to the rather large Wayland Games stand, I got my Pathfinders hoozaah, but alas there was no X-Wing Shiz for me or Phil although we did get some extra Dice for said game, I say these won’t help me in the struggle to bitch slap Phil, but you never know these could be the dice I was looking for.

Its Business Time… Whilst Lee and Phil queued to make their purchases Neil and I wandered over to Mantic, whose stand was swamped and with good reason, Mantic had brought with them a limited number of there pretty awesome Battle Grounds sets. During our rather long chat with the guys at Mantic we got a bit of an over view of the future of Dreadball, which honestly had us totally gripped and is something we can all really look forward to, I can’t say too much here but needless to say Dreadball is set to become something even bigger and better than it is right now. And getting the low down on the Battle Grounds set was awesome, it was really good to speak to the guys and find out what was there intentions for the scenery set, and we all agreed it would make a god damn brilliant Necromunda board, so watch this space as our Necromunda itch grows fuelled by Mantic goodness. After talking all things Mantic it was time for… MAT BUY TOYS!

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The impressive Tower made up using the new Battlezones sets.

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Deadzone, being played out on the Tower.

And to Forge World we wound our merry way, we had 20 minutes before the #warmongers meet, so this had to be a strategic hit and run style purchasing spree with the queue neigh huddle still being rather sizeable. Phil, Lee and I worked together to cordon off an area to enable us to make our way to the front on the queue (eventually) and pick up our wares, I had preordered myself a tasty Tau Battlesuit for my growing Tau force, yeay another tick for me… and a slight addition something that had been tickling my hobby spot for the last week… DEATH SHROUD. Yep I crumbled it didn’t take much to be honest, and purchased myself a set of Death Guard, Death Shroud Terminators. I’m not totally sure what I’m doing with them yet I’m thinking a small skirmish force but that’s always how these things start.

FOOD TIME, so it was that time of day where we all broke out from the buying of all the things as Ashley would say and went in search of sustenance to enable us to continue our day of awesomeness. It was also time to catch up with the other #Warmongers and compare purchases and stories of our days so far.

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Once more unto the breach my friends, after the #Warmongers meet it was time to head over to Heresy Miniatures, one to check out the new Netherlord and two for me to get my hands on a set of Andy’s amazing gangers, just to help me with that Necromunda itch. I’m doing Delaque this time around but don’t really like the original models Andy’s are a fantastic alternative the “not” Delaques are stunning and the full set ay of set me back £70 but for that I got 25 blokes and a big bag of weapons with some god damn inspiring choices. Sadly we missed the last Netherlord by a matter of seconds it was such a big hit that some desperate French man forced Andy to sell him the one out of the display case. but hey MAT BOUGHT TOYS! and another tick.

It was at this point Rob decided to join us the workaholic had missed the #Warmongers meet due to his blue foam addiction, and the need to push this on other people. Which I’m all for frankly. But it was good to have a catch up and compare purchases which were pretty meagre on Robs side of things, he did however point out Mierce miniatures were in attendance with some of their wares, so with this in mind we made our way over to the stand Via Forge World to enable Phil to part with some more money of some old armour variants for his Ultrmarines. Now I’m not going to talk to much about Mierce here mainly because I was so distracted by all the shiney I don’t recall much of what was said, luckily Phil was in attendance and did most of the talking whilst I and several other others of the crew frankly perved at the utterly beautiful miniatures on display. I managed to hold off buying anything here but mainly because at this point I was influx as to whether I was going to do Beastmen of Lizardmen for my Mordheim warband.

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JIMP!

To West Wind Productions, now if you haven’t heard of them why not and where the hell have you been? They are the creators of the great Empire of the Dead Victorian/Steam punk skirmish game which has some great looking starter sets available with factions ranging from Vampire Slayers to Bedlam Inmates and Jack the Ripper, more on this game to come shortly as me and Phil face off with 2 opposing factions and a run down of the rules. We got chatting to Wendy whilst on the stand discussing our aspirations and explaining how much we liked what they had and what they were doing. It was at this point that Wendy filled us in on their upcoming update of Secrets of the Third Reich, One that got Neil and I pretty excited, I mean its a game that has Nazi Zombies for crying out loud what’s not to get excited about. And with its update imminent it is only set to get better. Wendy also gave us a quick update on their latest Kickstarter, War & Empire a 15mm Ancient Era Wargame, that got us all a little bit excited and I can foresee a few arguments about who gets to play which army. But more on this to come.

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The Secrets of the Third Reich.

 

As the day was drawing to a close we headed to wards KR Multicase and its mountain of blue foam and card board… Via Forge World (again!) for me to acquire Calas Typhon to go with my Deathshroud. Phil also needed to make a stop at Studio McVey to have a quick catch up with Mike, and we dropped in on Sphere wars.

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Sphere Wars in action.

After a quick chat with the fine people at KR including Rob… Again! and a sit down on their fine chairs made of the finest blue foam available, Phil and I walked away with an X-Wing carry case each, reviews to follow, I will say now its bloody brilliant and has got me looking at KR cases for my other armies now as well.

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Big Blue KR.

It was at this point I took the opportunity to grab a few snaps of some of the stunning games boards on show at Salute, I am only sorry I didn’t stop long enough to ask a bit more about them, but I think you’ll all agree it doesn’t make them any less brilliant.

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FREMEN!

 

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Sardaukar storming a Fremen Sietch.

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Charlie don’t surf!

 

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Oh and I bumped into someone who was clearly less than impressed with my last performance against Phil in X-Wing.

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I’m no good to you dead!

 

So with swag in hand we made our way to the Bar for a much needed rest and a post Salute catch up over a beer, or Pepsi in my case (other fizzy drinks brans are available) all before our mammoth 4 hour drive home, not helped by football traffic or Phil’s inadequate bladder.

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And… Relax.

 

So in review I thoroughly enjoyed my first Salute I didn’t pick up everything I wanted I had hoped to walk away with some Malifaux items but just couldn’t make up my mind on the day. I had also hoped to pick up some bits for Mordheim but again my own indecisiveness was the downfall there.

I did how ever tick a few of my boxes, I got my Pathfinders, Some X-Wing Shizz all be it just extra dice but that still counts, a gang for Necromunda and DEATHSHROUD. I didn’t foresee Calas but frankly I should of known the Pretty black boxes were just too much for me to resist.
Oh and the awesome KR case. Out of everything I have to say the Heresy Minis have become my purchase of the show and I really cant wait to build and paint them let alone play with them.

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The Swag!

 

And its with some great contacts made and empty pockets I wish you farewell Salute for another year.

 

 

 

 

The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. -Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! - Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. - Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! - Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15′s, 6 XV25′s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

A Diet of Supplements

So far this year, we have seen the release of three of the new Codex Supplements for Warhammer 40,000. Of the three, two (Iyanden and Farsight Enclaves) have been generally well received. On the other hand the Black Legion supplement seems to have had a more mixed reception.

I was initially quite sceptical about the Codex Supplements. This is probably due to my negative memories of the ‘mini-codices’ of 3rd Edition 40k which were deeply uninspiring little pamphlets (though in all fairness the main codices were pretty meagre in those days too). Also, it seemed vaguely unfair that some gamers were having to pay extra in order to get the core codex and the additional mini-’dex.

In most respects, allowing ‘off-shoot’ armies like Space Wolves or Blood Angels to have their own full codices seems like the ideal solution. That said however the onus then falls upon the folks at the Design Studio to make that army genuinely different enough to justify the separate codex. The fate of Black Templars being reabsorbed into the main Space Marine Codex demonstrates the importance of introducing some genuine distinction that works on the table top and in terms of fluff.

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So I was hostile to the Codex Supplements at first – especially when it became clear that they would be the same price as a real codex. But my feelings mellowed when it became clear that no one needs to buy the supplement in order to do, say, an Iyanden style wraith construct army, the supplement merely allows you the option to further emphasise and deepen the theme and character of your chosen force.  This is really important, as in the past variant lists like Iyanden or White Scars were made possible by artificially limiting the main list – so it was only until 5th edition that Space Marine Chapters other than the White Scars got to deploy their bike companies (which they almost all have) to the table top. So you can still do an Eldar wraith army or a Tau army led by Farsight without the Codex and you only have to buy the supplement if you want to take the theme up to eleven.

Of course, the supplements also bring you scenarios, and extra stuff to enhance your games of Apocalypse and/or Cities of Death. Obviously the appeal of those sections will depend on your own views of those particular game variants. I never had much time for either (though I can imagine a few people being swayed out of the desire to try out something in the supplement).

The question hanging over this issue is whether any current Space Marine armies might be relegated to a mere supplement. Obviously Dark Angels already have a 6th edition codex, and the Space Wolves are probably too distinct for this to work, but one does wonder about the Blood Angels. In some respects this might be a helpful as it would prevent some of the inter-Astartes rules clashes that developed over previous editions (eg what save does a Storm Shield grant?) and reduce the need for FAQs about whether existing books get the latest shiny toys in the core book (eg, can Dark Angels take Hunters?).

So surprisingly, GW seen to have hit the right level here rather than make the supplements a blatant cash grab, allowing the journeyman gamer to stick to the main codex and the more dedicated fluff gamer to choose to upgrade their gaming experience with the supplement. Choose wisely which path to take, as it’s a £30 decision.

Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders

Tau Pathfinder conversion by Douglas Furen

These past few tacticas I’ve talked quite a bit about the synergies of units and how the Tau army works better as a series of units aiding another rather than in isolation. So its time to start covering just how Tau armies can do that. The best place to start? Well, it’s not called Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders for nothing!

One thing. The unit can do a lot of things and to truly get the best out of them you will have to pick one, because choosing several impedes the units ability to do the others well. When you consider the cost of the unit, compared to others in the list, and just how fragile it is, you will only get a few turns worth of use out of them before they are blown away in a hail of fire from your opponent.

That’s because, if they aren’t already considered a deadly unit, they soon will be. They are that good.

Use one is to load up on either Ion or Rail rifles (Ion for light infantry and tank killing, Rail for heavy infantry), hunker down in cover and then shoot the hell out of whatever target is needed. If you go for Ion Rifles, its worth perhaps shelling out a pulse accelerator, so as your opponents units get closer, you get an extra turn or two of shooting with a higher weight of firepower from the pulse rifles which are now range 24″. It’s not much, but at the same time, don’t turn your nose up at another 2-14 shots at strength 5 (dependent on unit size).

The other, far superior use of the unit (to me at least), is to use those markerlights. Wonderful little things, they can increase your units BS, strip cover from enemy units or help guide seeker missiles. A unit or two of pathfinders will easily be racking up 4 or more markers a turn, which will equally delight you as much as it

annoys your opponent! Though they can’t be relied upon, taking a unit of 6-8 will produce a decent number of hits a turn, keep them alive long enough to be useful and greatly increase what your units are capable of doing each turn.

However you use them, to keep the unit hanging around longer, it’s probably worth spending a few points to buy a Shas’ui (+1Ld and the ability to buy a black sun filter- yes please!) and, if you have the points left over, springing for the bonding knife ritual so they can regroup regardless of size.

Now the big conundrum to me is if you should bother taking a Devilfish. Whilst they have their uses, being able to scout means you will probably be able to set the squad up in a good position before the game anyway and each turn they spend in a transport is one less turn they are capable of being useful. The option of taking a Recon Drone seems ok, but for the cost (and the rules being a bit unclear as to if it can stay a part of the Devilfish after the Pathfinders have disembarked), I’m not too sure if it’s a good use for the unit, unless you have a strategy that relies upon a part of your army being able to deep strike or appear on the flanks reliably.

All in all, Pathfinders make a great addition to a Tau force. Though forced to be static in nature, in an army that can be otherwise be flexible and on the move at all times, they make up for it by providing such a valuable commodity synchronicity. Also, no need to take markerlights in other units now either, so those units can focus on killing enemy units or securing objectives.

An example of the different approach the Tau Empire take to warfare, Pathfinders will probably make their way into your list at some point. Once used, I’m not sure if they will ever be removed from it.

Just a quick question to the community, how are people finding the Farsight supplement? I’ve yet to read it as I like my hardcover books, but has it affected how people play their armies? Or is it another nice addition that doesn’t add too much unless you like a certain type of list, ala the Iyanden supplement? I’m interested to hear peoples opinions on this, so post in the comments section your experiences.

Anyway, see you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.

Tau pathfinders painted by Kevin Auld

Short Tau Tactica: Broadsides

Broadside Support Team O’ran by Wolfs16

So in my short series of Tacticas on Tau units, I’ve covered not only the bread and butter troops, but the rising stars of the new codex. Now let’s go to the other end of the spectrum: those who lost out. The head of this group? Broadside teams. Once a name to strike fear into mechanised armies and monstrous creatures everywhere, they took a bit of a hit this book, with the dreaded railgun being downgraded from S10 to “only” S8.

This, as with all things on the internet, has resulted in many a person calling them crap and useless. For these people I cry, because it’s not so much they are now useless, it’s just the unit have undergone refinement and now have a different use.  I’m here to show you how to get the best out of them. 

The Broadsides we know are dead and gone. Long live Broadsides!

So, first off. The heavy rail rifle. Admittedly not so much of a threat now to armour 14 vehicles. It’s still fine and dandy with just about everything else though and the gun has remained twin-linked and AP1 to help balance an otherwise average Ballistic Skill of 3. With a range of 60″ ignoring Nightfight, I think its fair to say the unit will still be popping vehicles and monstrous creatures with ease.

The other basic armament, a smart missile system, seems a little mismatched with the rail rifle, so I think its worth swapping it for the plasma rifles to be able to knock off those extra wounds/hull points once an opponents units start to close (and they will, you don’t leave a Tau army to shoot you unless you are pretty sure you can out range or out shoot them). So that’s your basic layout. There are a few more loadouts I can see that will make it worth it.

For one, when choosing your support systems for Heavy Rail Rifle Broadsides, it’s a toss-up between Target Lock and a Velocity Tracker. What with Tau Heavy Support being a contested slot, you probably won’t want more than 1 unit, which means you need them to be flexible so they don’t run out of things to shoot midgame.

Probably best for now in such a target rich environment is to take Velocity Trackers for guaranteed flyer kills. After they go down, the unit can spend the rest of the game ganging up on vehicles that are still around.

There is different option to test out and that is the High yield Missile Pod/SMS combo. 9 shots a turn per broadside is nothing to sniff at and if kept close to the rest of the Tau Line with a Counterfire Defense System, should be able to cause a lot of damage from supporting fire.

Drone wise, I’m convinced it worth taking at least a missile drone or two and perhaps a trusty shield drone for protection from retaliatory fire. Just don’t expect the unit to be cheap after adding them.

So there you have it. Though not the must haves they used to be, Broadsides Teams are able to serve as vehicle/flyer killers as well as be the bane of infantry. An example of just how good the Tau codex is now, the unit can do pretty much anything you want them to, you just have to be careful not to spend too many points on them!

 

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica

Short Tau Tactica: Kroot

As I focused on the Fire Warriors last time, it only makes sense that I cover the Tau Empires only other troop choice, Kroot. Some fans may have been disappointed that the option to have a Kroot Mercenary army doesn’t exist*, but I think that the unit still have their place in the army and even have a few new roles with the codex.

First off, lets see what you get for your points. The biggest change to Kroot is that they have lost strength 4, but they get a better combat weapon, the Kroot rifle giving them AP 5 in combat. Stealth and Move Through Cover keep with the theme that these guys are hunters. And they get proper Infiltrate this time, which is awesome! Less amazingly, they get a 6+ save for free now. Just what I’ve always needed.

This should be a signifier to most people that their role has changed from assault powerhouse of the Tau army to something a little different. Still, it’s possible to bulk up on the squad and add additional Kroot Hounds and Krootox and throw them into combat as a sort of buffer between the enemy and your more important units (read: everything else in the army).

A squad over 30 in number is still pretty rare in 40k, so there will be a significant psychological impact on you opponent seeing that many models get plonked down in one go. Just don’t expect them to remain that size by the time they reach combat.

Now, on to their more interesting uses. For 1 point a model, Kroot can take sniper rounds, which gives the Kroot the option to fire their rifles with the sniper rule if they remain still (or hitting on 6s if they move thanks to snapfire). Sniper rifles have always been a pretty underrated aspect of the game due to not many armies having units with access to them, but think about it. Kroot can now wound everything on a 4+ (if it’s less, they can switch back to the normal profile of the Kroot Rifle and rapid fire things to death) and have rending.

Kroot squads just gained the ability to topple even the mightiest of creatures in the 40K universe. Which will certainly surprise someone the next time they take their all Monstrous Creature ‘Nid army!


My best advice would be to stick a small squad of 10 in cover (to maximise the benefits of cover and make your opponent doubt if it’s worth targeting them) with a few Kroot hounds for combat purposes. They give the unit Acute Senses, which is very useful if you plan to have a bit more control over just where Kroot will pop up if you plan to outflank them close to an objective.

Kroot are going to fulfill a very similar role to the one they did for me last edition.  Sitting in cover near objectives and moving to claim them late in the game, or else just hugging terrain and acting as an irritant all game, or the ‘Eldar Pathfinder’ effect as I call it. They still can have a role as a counter assault unit, but the changing of the units focus is a clear indication of how the designers see them being used this edition. I’m not sure they are vital to a Tau army, but for one that wishes to be aggressive and keep an opponent of the back foot, Kroot squads will help you achieve that for a minimal cost and provide you with a unit that can reliably advance on an objective and hold it.

As such, despite what some parts of the internet may believe, I view the Kroot squads as very much alive and kicking in the new book. If an opponent isn’t careful, they may take their legs off.

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.


*Players with a predisposition towards “count- as” may note that due to the slight change of wording in what effects what in the Tau book, it’s entirely possible to proxy a Kroot Mercenaries army.

Tau Broadside – A Review

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As a nice contrast, having reviewed the Tau Pathfinders, I thought I’d take a look at a heavy hitter and a staple of every Tau army from its original release – the Broadside.Broadside

The first thing you’ll notice about the Broadside is that they’re not a top-heavy, lumbering, plastic and metal turds of misery that crumble beneath their own weight. The other thing you’ll notice is that look nails! More to the point, they actually look like the heavy chassis battle suit that they were always meant to be as lets not forget that the full size rail cannon has to be mounted on a tank.

In the box, as with the Pathfinders, you have two sprues. And unlike the Pathfinders it’s not crammed with bits. It’s crammed with big bits. Notable, lovely big armour plates that reflect the design aesthetic that we should have with the crisis suits but have to go to Forge World to get.
BroadsideSprues

It was absolutely the right decision for Games Workshop to turn these kits plastic. I had 3 of the originals back in the day and I had to repair them before every game and at least once during. And in the end there was so much dried super glue on the weapon mounts it stopped working all together. By the time I sold the army I had given up repairing them and fielded them in broken heaps. A drinks coaster would have been as much use on the board.

I’m also so pleased that the design has been refined. Although shoulder mounted railguns were cool it never struck me as terribly practical as any projectile leaving a weapons surely creates recoil through the displacement of air and the heat that generates. And seeing as the rail weapons companies like General Atomics are developing can hit mach 5, and the railguns on broadsides were strength 10 back in the day I could see the Broadsides flat on their backs, flailing about like a retarded tortoise. The new kit is also massive. Well, compared to the old one so you get quite a pit of bloke for your buck.

There’s other touches too – like the plasma rifles and missile pods have slight design improvements which is good but will overshadow weapons on crisis suits. But, I’ll take it. Especially as the version of the kit holding the heavy railrifle is awesome. It’s s rather Gundam but it’s not a bad jumping off point. The missiles also kinda remind me of Starscream from the Transformers movies. Again, not a bad thing but interesting to see where they’re getting their ideas from.

The kit is rather involved compared to some. Compared to most actually. It’s just as well the Broadside comes with an instruction manual because staring at the sprues without it just made me not want to bother. But I suppose it’s a sign that the designers are pushing the technology hard to get the best kits. So hats off there.

In game terms the Broadside has the potential to dish out some pain but with the reduced strength of 8 compared to the good old days. It can glance armour 14 but it’ll be a token inconvenience compared to other weapons in the game. The single shot means that the heavy railrifle is at its best taking out APCs to force the enemy to walk through the fire poser you send their way or making life unpleasant for Dreadnoughts. And for 65 points, it’s a cheap way of making life unpleasant. Just bear in mind that the Heavy 1 on a BS of 3 means you’ll be relying heavily on the fact it’s twin-linked. But I suppose for 65 points with that kind of stopping power (plus the missile pods/plasma rifles) it’s be a bit much to make it BS4.

The plasma rifles are a welcome addition to the unit upgrade list as it adds just that little bit of umph to its anti-tank capabilities. Again you’re only looking at thwarting smaller vehicles but the edge it gives against medium infantry is invaluable. Especially if you take a unit of them. Although as Broadsides are now relegated to very hard to kill snipers with (extremely) high velocity rifles I’m not sure if a unit is the way to go. I’m tempted to take a couple as separate heavy support choices, stick em in a lovely, thick-walled, building and use them to harass everything with armour value 13 or less whilst a hammerhead blows up the big shit. And for a relatively small outlay of points I think it’d work rather well.

It could explain why the Broadside is strength 5 and it has no shortage of attacks. It rather suggests one should be expecting to have fisticuffs whilst it operates alone. Although with armies in 40k getting faster it’s reasonable to assume that someone will, at some point, try it on. However, with only toughness 4 so it’ll take wounds. It should save most of them but to be honest, if you’ve let your Broadside get into combat then you deserve everything you get. Between plasma rifles and the sexy new missile drones it should be safe from all but the most concerted efforts.

It’s a brilliant kit, if a little fussy to build. It’s a huge improvement on the previous version and it’s kind funny to see the graduation from over-the shoulder to hand-held weapons in the same way as Space Marine devastators. It’s as it should be, it’s a logical evolution. And it looks awesome. More to the point, it looks like a bloody great mech lugging a bloody great gun capable of blowing bloody great holes in things. Used correctly it’ll be an utterly devastating unit in any Tau army.

Tau Broadsides are available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

Tau Pathfinders – A Review

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Those that read my review of Codex Tau Empire back in April will know that I was rather taken with the grey skinned bastards. So much so that I’m doing a little 1,000 point allies force to go with my two companies of Ultramarines. And those that read my review will also remember that I was rather taken with the Pathfinders. So it’s really little wonder then that I’ve got hold of a box and giving them the once over. For the greater good you understand…

TauPathfinders01_873x627Even before I read the Codex I was pleased when I heard that Pathfinders were going to be plastic as even when the Tau were first released the Pathfinders were a useful unit to have on the board, but the fact that they were metal and came in blisters of 3 and units of 6 meant that those that didn’t buy the big army box rather missed out. It was doubly true over the years metal models became increasingly expensive and the use of Pathfinders, especially with the introduction of railrifles, became more important.

The third iteration of the Codex has made at least one unit of Pathfinders a compulsory choice in all but name because they’re so damn good. Their options, especially the pulse accelerator drone (which increase pulse weapon range by 6″) means that although vulnerable in the open, they are a heavy hitting unit that can take on medium infantry as standard and then bring the pain on Terminators and the like with the handy addition of the aforementioned railrifles. To be fair the plastic models aren’t any cheaper than the metal ones were but you do get variety and lots of drones including the fooking massive recon drone. But more on that later.

So what’s in the box? Well two – which seems to be the norm these days – sprues that are crammed full of components.

TauPathfinderSprues

I do have to hand it to the Games Workshop, although they’ve been pissing gamers off left, right and centre these last few months, they have really upped their game with getting the most out of the plastic. This arguably should make the models cheaper, but as I said – they piss people off. But I digress. The sprues are crammed with bits including some dudey pulse pistols, some pretty decent bare heads – at long bastard last – some spare pulse clips, bonding knives that don’t look lame and some other gubbins. Most importantly, you have enough bits to make a ten Tau squad armed with pulse carbines with bits enough to swap out three with railrifles or ionrifles or a combination of the two. So plenty of ptew ptew for your buck.

Although the fatigues on the legs are a little thin on detail and feel a bit more baggy than a recon unit would probably wear – and the poses are a bit shifty – the rest of the components are ace. The helmets have been refined and have improved comm aerials – just be careful trimming them free. All the weapons are crisp and the separate markerlights allows for the a degree of choice in how you build them. My small force doesn’t have them so the option of not sticking them on is good news for me. Although I suppose if you can be bothered and find magnets small enough you can make them removable.

Truth be told, the quality of the casting of the Pathfinders or the fidelity of the helmet antenna - especially compared to the Fire Warriors – or the quality of the weapons or the cool accessories, or the staggering lack of mould lines don’t steal the show. It’s the drones. They’re awesome. I mean. Awe. Some. The tits. The business. The dog hairy gonads. The recon drone is huge and may as well be Thunderbird 2 for all its whistles and bells including the pokeball grenade dispensers, a burst cannon and some nice detail. Plus the fact that you can mount it on a Devilfish is way cool.

TauPathfinders07_873x627

But, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an after thought like accessories and ‘bonus’ often do. The only bummer is that, aside from the recon drone there’s only enough drone domes to make two drones. But if you’re not bothered about giving your fire warriors drones then you can make the set which does give your Pathfinders a pleasant amount of versatility.

The Pathfinder kit is one of the strongest unit boxes Games Workshop have done in a while. The arm poses coupled with enough accessories means that you’re knocking on the door of variety that the Space Marine tactical squad offers. Not quite mind you, but pretty close. But the sheer volume of cool shit makes up for it. And having the railrifles cast in lovely crisp plastic rather than metal just makes them as cool looking as the boltgun.

Throw in the fact that Pathfinders are frigging nails in the game and it’s pretty much an essential purchase if you’re collecting Tau. Unless you take a butt load of flyers, but that’s a story for another day.

Tau Pathfinders are available from Firestorm Games priced £18.

Forge World Crisis Suits – A Review

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.
xv9com4

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.

4-laputa-robot

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.
rymrI 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.