Monday, December 05, 2016

Against the Stumbling Hordes.

In a rare occurrence I was able to make it to the game night at Hobbytown where my Dark Eldar Kill Team faced off against the menace of Hivefleet Screech. I haven't played with Screech in what seems like ages, so I was very much looking forward to it. However, it was a strange game, as you'll see, so I will try not to get too in depth with this report and stick to the highlights.

Waiting....to die. 
The mission we selected was Head Hunt. Primary VPs are earned for slaying your opponent's Leader and Specialists.
We rolled for Leader Traits. I rolled and got Unsakeable Dedication to Duty which gives my Leader the Zealot special rule. Screech's Termagaunt Leader got Cunning Ruse.

Warzone: Hobbytown Hallway.
This mission's set-up quarters the table with a restriction that we couldn't place models within  9" of the center point.  Below was my deployment. As you can see I kept everything in the high ground.

Dark Eldar deployment.
Tyranids deployment concentrated on getting as many critters on the forward line as possible, with a few that were placed in Reserves for outflanking later in the game.

Tyranids deploy. i guess they're eager to die?
So with 20 Termagaunts and 15 Hormagaunts, I was out numbered 35 to 15.
>ulp! <
The Dark Eldar leaders, braced for the worst...
Turn one begins and....Screech immediately starts rolling for Instinctive Behavior due to his Hive Mind not having any presence. The Dark Eldar watched in stupified awe as most of the Termagaunts broke and ran for the table edge, or dove into cover. Only the Hormagaunts showed any interest in trying to eliminate my Kill Team. They leapt, fleeted and ran towards my line...

"Here they come..."
...and the Dark Eldar opened up, eliminating about 5 of the Hormagaunts. I finally got to utilize Reaping Volley on that Splinter Cannon and I must say I was impressed with it. If not for the cover, a lot more of the bugs would have been shredded...

Thinning their numbers.
Turn 2 and Screech was trying to get his troops back into line. A few Termigaunts ran off the table while others got their desire to kill back. The outflanking Specialists areived and hid themselves in the lower level of the ruins that my Leader was on top of. in the shooting phase the two Termagaunts with this group shot and killed 2 warriors in the ruins opposite of this position.

Outflanked and on the hunt.
A few Hormagaunts declared charges, and some died to the Overwatch shots but only one made it into combat but it ended up being a stand-off.

Charge!
Dark Eldar Turn 2, more stuff gets shot to hell, but the tally of stuff that has ran off the table has surpassed the Dark Eldar kill tally.
My Specialist, Sybarite 2, went to the lower level with her blast pistol and and atomized a Hormagaunt Specialist while the warrior shot the other one, leaving just the termagaunt snipers.

"DIE ALIEN SCUM! ...oh, wait..."
The next pic showes the dead pile by the end of turn 2, although the DE can only take credit for maybe a 1/3 of the nid losses at this point.

And let I still felt  out-numbered.
Turn 3, more nids fled the field, but some were still sticking to their mission. One particularly determined Termagaunt scaled the tower and shot my Team Leader to death!

"Crikey! Not in the gut again!"
The Hormagaunts swarmed, ok, more like... ganged up on, The Dark Eldar in the other ruins, however my Power Through Pain was now granting me Feel No Pain (5+) which was keeping the Warriors from being wiped out, but the 'gaunts on the other hand were not so lucky.

Add caption
Things fell apart quickly, and before I knew it Tyranids were simply disappearing. Their force was now broken and failing break tests. Those that remained were botching Instinctive Behavior rolls and either hiding or running.

This is the  cluster that ran off the table on Turn 5.
Soon, the bugs were tabled. We didn't bother to try to calculate VPs, but I commend the bugs for doing what they could to get them!

The final dead piles.
Screech's experiment to sacrifice synapse creatures for weight of numbers went horribly wrong. In doing so he proved to us the value of synapse creatures. I suspect his next Tyranid Kill Team will be a completely different composition.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Kill Team: Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors (part 5)

And finally, I finished these Warriors!

Blaster Pistol Sybarite and the helmetless Dark Kin.
After their trial by combat in a Kill Team game against The Bob, I was determined to finish them. I was pleased with how they performed and pleased with how they appeared on our local game store's terrain.

Vivjhian Throatpunch, finished at last.
Here is my Team Leader. I ultimately settled on making her over the top pommel/tassel-thing the same color as the head crests on some of the warriors. This was more of a result of indecision on my part than it was for the sake of thematic continuity.

In the next pic, you can see her sword more clearly. To get the shining glare effect I simply free-handed it on with Skull White using a detail brush.

The shiny blade is the sharpest blade.

Here's the first batch assembled and ready:


I used grass clumps, the sort of dead grass look that one might see growing up through the cracks in a vacant lot or what not. I think the bases turned out nice ans simple and don't distract from the models themselves. Here's the second group


Finally, I took them outside and sprayed on Testors Matte Lacquer to finish them off.



Once the finish was dried it was time to place them in the massive moss patch that grows next to my house for some action shots. Enjoy!

Hunting Exodites.

"I thought the webway portal was over here..."

So that's if for this Kill Team. The urge to paint up some Reavers, a Venom or a Raider or even some Scourges is tough to resist, I must confess. However I have other projects I have yet to finish, as regular readers may know ("Ever gonna finish those Chaos bikes? Whatever happened to your Space Wolves?" etc.), that I would like to get knocked out of the infinite painting queue sooner than later.

But a Raider might look pretty cool in these Obsidian Rose colors though... ;)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Darkness, darkness.

The Dark Eldar of the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose made their battlefield debute in a Kill Team mission against the Dark Angels of The Bob.
A vicious encounter.
We decided to set the battlefield in mostly ruins with very few military assets. Not sure why, it's just the look we agreed to go with.

The ruins of the bloody vale.
As stated in the intro, this would be the first battlefield debute of this Kill Team as led by Vivjhian Throatpunch. These models are Still being worked on but I was eager to get them into some action.

The Obsidian Rose Kill Team.

Vivjhian, the Sybarite and Kill Team leader, rolled A Cunning Ruse as her Leader Trait.  This allows a random amount of her Team to Outflank. An extremely handy trait to have considering the mission we chose was Alone In The Dark which is a scenario that allows additional models to be randomly bestowed with Outflank. It's also a coincidence that 'dark' is in the title considering our armies...

Dark Eldar Specialists and KT Leader.

Next I chose my Specialists: the 2nd Sybarite was given Killer Instinct which allows her to wound on a 2+. The blaster model was given Fearless, and the Splinter Cannon lass was given Reaping Volley which allows her to spread her shots out to different targets.

Dark Angels assembled.
The Dark Angels were assembled to rid the darkness of my xenos filth. The Leader rolled his Leader Trait and got Chasing Promotion which grants an additional Kill Point if he snuffs out my leader in Close Combat. Bob chose 2 of his bikers to be specialists. The one with the chainsword got Feel No Pain. The one with the Bolt Pistol got Furious Charge. The plasma gunner, the same guy that made a mess out of some of my Chaos guys in our previous kill team battle, once again was bequeathed with the ability to Ignore Cover.
Kabalite-warriors take the high ground in their deployment zone.
I placed the majority of my warriors in the high ground in the center in the hopes that their 24" range splinter rifles would provide them some sniper opportunities. I put 3 warriors behinds some ruins on my left flank, and 2 over on my right flank. The rest of my force was in Reserves.

The Dark Angel had a far smaller force, but what they lacked in numbers they made up in superior equipment and Toughness. He placed one lone model on the far right flank and 2 of the Ravenwing on the left flank.

Dark Angels prepare to advance...
This mission has Night Fighting in effect for the whole game, which is awesomely "fluffy" for the Dark Eldar. But more importantly if will provide me cover saves from all shooting which is vital considering the AP of the marine Bolt weapons make a mockery of Dark Eldar armor. And although not as critical, the  Dark Eldar have night vision and ignore it!

TURN ONE

I went first, moving up a few select models toward the objective. My guy on my far right flank advanced close enough to get within range of the lone Dark Angel tactical marine and fired a shot but the needle deflected harmlessly from the powered ceramite.

Dark Angels go, and the Ravenwing move up to engage the ruins on my left flank. in spite of the cover of darkness, the shots hit home and blasted the exposed warrior appart. First Blood goes to the Unforgiven.

First Blood.
That 1st turn made me worry. Although the Dark Eldar could hit the Dark Angels as well as they could hit them, they wounded the Dark Eldar on 3+ and if not for the cover of darkness I would have no saves of any kind. I saw the Ravenwing as the bigger threat and decided that they had to be dealt with as soon as possible.

TURN TWO

All of my Reserves came in on Turn Two. The Blaster and Splinter  Cannon both came in on my right flank. I moved the Splinter Cannon towards the tall building and had him claim the objective there. The blaster atomized the Dark Angel that was over there. On the left flank I had the two Sybarites move into the woods behind the Ravenwing so to better take advantage of the cover saves they would offer me. I lined them up for the kill only to discover that I was wrong about the range of the Blast Pistol:

"6"?! They made a Lance weapon that only shoots 6"?!"
Bob: "Yup."
"They can throw grenades farther than that!"
"Yup!" stated Bob, with a hint of glee.

...so that was a waste. All my other shots were futile.

Also, in the middle of the field, the objective  that I was holding was revealed to be a bomb! Which exploded at the end of the turn and killed the warrior that was holding it.
Bummer!
Thank the Exodites for this bountiful area cover!
Turn 2 for the Dark Angels, Things got a little hairly but thanks to the Dark Eldar's Power Through Pain rule my army was now able to get Feel No Pain saves on a 6+. And my Sybarite with the Blast Pistol only survived this round because of it! one of my other warriors was not so lucky however.

Stand off in the woods.
And neither was my Team Leader, who was charged by the Dark Angel Team Leader. Although she  struck fast and true, her hits bounced harmlessly off of his robes. He then slew her with ease.

Slay the Leader and Chasing Promotion VPs earned.


TURN 3
I moved the  Splinter Cannon lass away from her objective up two levels of the ruin she was in to try to take advantage of her weapon's range.

 This turn saw the death of the Ravenwing bikers, who were sniped off by splinter rifle shots, and the beginning of DAs being forced to take LD tests each turn. My Sybarite with the blast pistol charged the DA Team Leader and her Killer Instinct overcame his defenses, slaying him.

A faceful of vengeance. 
The remaining Warrior continued to trade shots with the Dark Angel Tac Marine, as they had been doing for a few rounds now...

Paddy-cake with splinters and bolts.
While the main fighting seemed to be around this small woods, I had been strategically maneuvering my other warriors in a bid to claim objectives. One such fellow was moving up to claim an objective when the third and final Ravenwing Biker shot onto the board, waited a round and ran him down when he was able to charge!

Death  by Hammer of Wrath!
Back in the woods, the blaster pistol Sybarite had become entangled in an assault for 3 phases with a Dark Angel Tactical Marine before eventually defeating him. The Dark Eldar Warrior in the woods had also slain his foe during this time.

We now found ourselves at the bottom of TURN 5, with the only Dark Angel alive still in reserves. Technically that would be a loss, however we decided to roll to see if the game ended and allow the lone Dark Angel a chance to show up.

The woods have been pacified.
The die decided that the game would continue. The last Dark Angel showed up and went straight for the objective on the right flank. He took a shot at one of my warriors in the ruins and turned him into a burning column of plasma!

Plasma Gunner arrives.
Unable to see his target below, the Shedder Cannon warrior descended a level and fired 4 sbots into the Dark Angel Plasma Gunner. The spray of splinters were too great for his venerable armor to deflect and the nefarious Plasma Gunner fell.

Lined up for the j
Kill shot.

It wasn't until we tallied the results that we realized how close this game really was. If not for the fact the Dark Eldar tabled the Dark Angels. the Dark Angels would have won 4vps (First Blood, Slay the Leader, Chasing Promotion and Break the Enemy) to 3vps (Slay the Leader, Break the Enemy and Line Breaker) on just secondary objectives alone. The Dark Eldar never managed to retake any of the main objectives by the end of the game.

All-in-all, it was a fun game. Very different. The Dark Eldar are very much the glass hammer they are renowned to be and it takes maximizing cover, as well as any opportunities, to make them work. This was a fun trial run with them. This scenario benefited them greatly as did their Power Through Pain rules. if not for the Feel No Pain ability that they get as the game progresses this game would have been woefully different.

Thanks again Bob, I am sure those cunning Dark Angels are plotting their revenge...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Kill Team: Dark Eldar Kabalites (part 4)

I have made a lot of progress since the last post in this series. I tightened up and finished all the main red/black areas on these Dark Eldar Warriors uniforms. Also the blue areas of their uniforms are finished as well and so are their weapons.


Also, Vivjhian Throatpunch is what I named the leader of my Dark Eldar Kill Team.

Vivjhian Throatpunch, about 80% done.

I intend to work up names for the other KT Specialists soon. Here they are mostly done. I brightened the hair using a dark gray color.

Grey highlight  for the hair.

Next, I used a wash of Black Ink to darken the hair again. That's Black Ink not Nuln Oil. That stuff is too thin to do what good 'ol Black Ink can do.

Black Ink wash on the hair.

Next I moved onto the weird mane/plume/crest things that are on a few of their helmets. I went with that green look that's often associated with Dark Eldar.

Apple Barrel  Forest Green base coat with black ink wash.

Woodland Green highligh.
Nothing to it really. Next I finished the eyes of the helmets. I used Jade green as the base, followed by Scorpian Green with a Rotting Flesh highlight. (I swear I use Rotting Flesh for darn near everything but rotting flesh!)


Just a few more touch-ups on some of these models, and they are done. Vivjhian Throatpunch needs her sword painted still and that's mostly it. Hopefully I will have them finished in the next post of this series.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Anachronistic 40k: Assault Cannon

This is the first of a new post category for this blog where I recollect, possibly rant, on certain past elements of the hobby and game (specifically Warhammer 40,000) that I miss or just recall fondly.

The idea for doing this came to mind after reading a half-assed  nostalgia article on another site. It showed flashy pics, which were nice, but those articles never seem to be written from the POV of someone who actually played the game during that time. The article  never amounted to anything more substantial than "Golly gee, I found a 25 year old White Dwarf and I gotta show you this -it's neat!" Here I shall attempt to try to do it right.

First up: the Assault Cannon. This was one of the heavy hitting weapons that was nerfed heavily for the 3rd edition of the game and hasn't ever been brought up to the power level it once enjoyed. When it first appeared in the early days of 40k, it's availability was exclusive to the wargear inventory of the Terminator armored Space Marines. It's background stated that it's RoF (Rate of Fire) was so great that the barrels of the gun would often have to be discarded after battle due to heat damage. The Assault Cannon could fire "hundreds of shells per second", causing the barrels to reach 300 degrees Fahrenheit, warping them to the point that they had to be discarded and replaced.

The original Following Fire rules from Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
It's important to discuss the original rules for Following Fire in the Warhammer 40,000 game. It had the potential to be utterly devastating. Especially in the hands of high Ballistic Skill wielders. Even when used by moderate or average BS users the potential for some serious hurt was high. All you had to do was hit and wound. It did not matter if the target made his saving throw or not, you could roll again! This was open-ended until you ran out of targets. You were restricted only by how many targets you had within the 4" bubble of the previous shot. As you could see with how the phrasing is used in this rule it was perceived at the time that the word "original" was only applied to the 2nd shot, and that the 4" bubble expanded with each subsequent shot. You were not restricted by units either, therefore, an army packed too close together could be reduced to hamburger so long as the attacking player didn't roll a 1.

Hamburger is what you became when the Assault Cannon was pointed at you! Terminators back then all had BS5, and within 12" he had a +1 to his die roll as well. Not many things could hold up against Str 8 either, and more often or not, he was wounding his foes on a 2+. Rare was the foe that could Save against this gun as it had a -3 Save modifier. Oh, and if you didn't save your model would take D10 wounds. Nasty.


The original stats for the Assault Cannon.
However you just couldn't have that kind of firepower without a drawback, even back in the untethered days of Rogue Trader 40k (unless you played Eldar, that caveat has always been in the game). Thus was born the rules for Jams. Sanity was eventually introduced in the Battle Manual, which was essentially a 1.5 edition of Warhammer 40K. It was excellently written with a clean and concise re-explanation of the rules as well as an introduction to many new rules. One thing that was changed were the rules for Following Fire, now called Sustained Fire, in that if you rolled a 1 to hit after the 1st shot with a Sustained Fire weapon, you jammed the weapon! You would have to spend your next round doing nothing but trying to clear the jam.

My favorite style-period  of Wayne England's art. 
The Assault Cannon was particularly leashed by the Battle Manual in that if you rolled a 1 to hit on your second or any subsequent to hit roll, you not only jammed but you ran the risk of blowing up and being killed instantly if you rolled a 6 on a D6!

Assault Cannon rules from the 40K 1st Ed Battle Manual

Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition arrived in fall of 1993. It was a true step up for the game as far as how clean it's presentation was. It was a true evolution of the game and you can see from the weapon profiles that the biggest change was the introduction of Sustained Fire Dice. The Assault Cannon got 3 of these with a potential of 9 shots but also a bigger potential for a crap ton of jams. Most players from this time will tell you that they spent more times clearing out those annoying jams than they did actually killing anything! You could still blow up by rolling 3 jams at the same time. This was easier to do than the risk roll required in the previous Battle Manual.

Assault Cannon rules from te 40K 2nd ed rule book -also called the Battle Manual.
Another note about the two books called The Battle Manual. Not only did they have the same cover image, but the layout was similar to each other and in some cases they even used the same art! This is why you are seeing the same Terminator knee in both of the pics above.

Fun Fact: Prior to the 2nd Ed Codex: Chaos, Chaos Terminators could have Assault Cannons!

Some people cheered when the 3rd edition tossed out the Sustained Fire Dice and simply added a number to the Weapon Type. The Assault Cannon became a Heavy 3 Str 6 weapon. This means it is now limited to three shots and if you rolled a triple 1 with these three shots the Assault Cannon would be destroyed. Furthermore it's awesome ability to shred armor was reduced to AP 4, meaning that basic Marines now stood up to these things as if they were las guns. It's 32" range was now 24" also reducing it's threat range. The Assault Cannon was now a shadow of it's former self...

Over the editions, and let's face it, editions 4-7 have all been a series of evolved tweaks of the 3rd edition, the Assault Cannon has continued to remain a semi-marginal weapon. Although the jam rules are gone, and the Weapon Type now changed to Heavy 4, Rending, I still have a hard time visualizing this cannon shooting "hundreds of shells per second". The Rending Special Rule is nice, as it does add a bit of killing potential back into this weapon, But only a bit.


Where Assault Cannons shine now is when you see them mounted on vehicles, especially in twin-linked pairs such as on a Baal Predator or a Land Raider Crusader. I started thinking about them more recently after reading through the Death Watch Codex and discovering that I could field whole Terminator squads with them, and thinking "wow, imagine this unit in a 2nd edition game!"

Many Space Marine armies have all had newer and more deadly weapons introduced over time that make me wonder why the GW Game Designers don't just simply revisit these older weapons that form some of the standards and icons that players over the decades associate with the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Obviously you can tell that I still lament the loss of the power this weapon once had. If it was me, I would double the current amount of shots to 8. I could be happy with 6 though. Regardless, this weapon needs to get it's fear back.


All of the images in the post are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for the purposes of review and not as a challenge to their individual copyrights.