Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 1 (Overview, Firebase Support Cadre & Hunter Cadre)

Note: This post was originally started in November, and since then I've been waiting for the controversy about the Coordinated Firepower rule to settle down.  Well now it is time to finish this part of the post, and put my thoughts on the Coordinated Firepower rule in a seperate post where I can do it justice - not the rule itself, but the options on how it could be played and Tournament Organisers could rule it.

In a previous post I said I was amased that there was going to be practically no changes to the stats, weapons and options of the Tau units which did not have a new release.  This lead me to stupidily think there would be little change in how competitive the Tau army would be, and that there would be many new units being used in Tau units.

Well I still think that there will be little change to the units seen on the tabletop for Tau armies, it'll be the same as before with the addition of the Stormsurge (see below for my change of heart) and the Ghostkeel (again I'll explain further down why).  Breacher teams will be seem briefly until most people see that a 5" range (the only range it's better than a pulse rifle armed fire warrior) combined with a overpriced devilfish to get them into range is not that effective.

So what's changed ?  Well formations :)  Tau followed the trend of previous codexs and got a Detachment of Formations and Codex enties.  The Tay version is called the Hunter Contingent, and like the ones before it requires a core formation (in this case the Hunter Cadre) and 1-10 Auxillery choices.  Here's the rules for the Hunter Contingent::

[Click on the pics to read them better]

The thing that jumps out is the Coordinated Firepower rule:

Caveat Controversy:

I think the biggest thing this rules shows is that GW doesn't playtest any rules in any depth.  Any casual Tau play immediately looks at the Coordinated Firepower rule and thinks, a nice fluffy rule that really helps against deathstars and must be used carefully not cause overkill and waste firepower, but then in seconds will think "hang on a second, have that thought this through", when they consider all the rule interactions and wargear that was point costed when they could affect only one (in most cases a specific) unit and now could affect multiple units under the coordinted firepower rule.

Now the rule (to me anyway) quite clear, most most people (myself included) thought GW would no doubt GW will FAQ it, as they couldn't have considered all the implications.  However to our surprise GW has been silent on the matter, and the closest thing is an e-mail from GW saying that the rule would not be FAQed because they meant exactly what the rule said.

Link to Facebook showing reply from GW: here
and the same from Imgur: here

Rather than discuss the Coordinated Firepower rule here, I'm going to leave it to another post (not to soon, as I promised a tournament organiser I would spell out the issues and options for his tournament).  Instead I will highlight the top formtions, just my opinion, that the Tau can now take (in no particular order).

"Mark a target and we will wipe it out"

Although this was a quote from the Skyray in Dawn of War I think it's a good for what I believe was the only Tau formation we previously had and the one I believe will still be a popular with the new codex (although it will get a lot of competition now); The Firebase Support Cadre:
This formation consists of a (unit of) Riptide(s) and two units of Broadsides (any size now).  The formation, compared to before, and been both nerfed and buffed.  Before  the formation got Tank Hunter and Prefered Enemy (Space Marines) innately.  Now they do not get Prefered Enemy at all and the formaton all has to fire at the same target to get Tank Hunter.  On the plus side the broadside units do not have to have the maxiumum of 3 broadsides in the team, meaning this formation does not have to be as many points as it was before.  The formation is also careful to say that all "models" have to fire at the same target unit (rather the all units have to) to get the formation benefits so target locks can not get round this.  A second nice bonus is that when the units fire together at the same target they get monster hunter as well as tank hunter, meaning the targets that the formation is very good against has expanded, partiularly when Wraithknights and Guargantuan Bloodthirsters are around.

Overall the changes are definitely a nerf compared to the previous formation, however I think it will still be popular because it gives a second access to Tank Hunter, and now Monster Hunter (the first being the Puretide Engram Chip signature system available to Commanders, and Crisis Suit Shas'vres).

At decent range the Tau have alot of str 5 and str 7 shooting, but at that range they struggle with the weaponry to kill av13 and av14 or T8 Wraithknights.  Before I used the Firebase Support Cadre to allow me to deal with av13, with so many str7 shots from the broadsides they could take out av13 targets like Imperial Knights, and luckily av14 targets were rare.

Without massed Sniper Drone and Broadside firepower boosted by Monster Hunter (and in the case of Sniper Drones also boosted by the Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability)  I think there's only one way to effectively deal with Wraithkights and other high toughness Guargantuan creatures, and thats a Stormsurge with markerlights making the destroyer missiles str D (that's the game changer that was not in the Wgite Dwarf preview that has changed my mind on Stormsurges).  Some people will take the Stormsurge route, but for those that don't I highly recommend the Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter available from the Firebase Support Cadre (along with the Puretide Engram Chip).

Hunter Cadre

This is the Core formation of the Hunter Contingent.  It is a very flexible formation, that will mainly be taken to get access to the Coordinated Firepower rule of the Hunter Contingent.

It's best to think of the formation as a slightly more onerous CAD, with a fixed HQ option.  The requirments are:
1 Commander
0-1 Cadre Fireblade
1-3 Elites
3-6 Troops
1-3 Fast Attack (excluding the flyers)
1-3 Heavy Support ot Lords of War (excluding Skyrays)

Notable exceptions are the remaining HQ choices, eg. no Ethereals or Darkstrider, unless you have a seperate CAD, no forgeworld, and no (non formation) fotifications.  Darkstider will not been seen unless you play that if he joins a unit that his part of the Hunter Contingent his structural analyser works on all the units that are part of a Coordinated Firepower.  Ethereals can be included in your army in one of three ways;
  • as part of a Command choice of the Hunter Contingent, which also requires a Commander and a Crisis bodyguard team.  The crisis bodyguard team is inefficient compared to normal crisis suits, and while a Commander is ok, is a second needed when you already have one in the Hunter Cadre.
  • by including a CAD detachment, for the min expenditure of 90 points for 2 units of fire warriors and an Ethereal, you open up lots of slots, that can also be used to include forgeworld, and fortifications - this is my preferred option as it also allows me to use my Tetras (although MSU Pathfinders and Marker drones give them more of a run for their money).
  • one last option is the Ethereal Council formation from the Mont'ka suppliment, however you have to have 3-7 ethereals that have to join together as a single unit and still a give up an additional victory point for each one killed
The Hunter Cadre is so flexible that it is easy to convert any old codex list into the Huntre Cadre as it plays like a slighter larger CAD.  However there is a sizable minimum points cost to the formation, which may become an issue if you want to fit in a number of other formations.  For example if you want to use the Firebase Support Cadre you may not want another Elite or more Heavy Support choices.  This is particularly an issue if you want to play the Retailiation Cadre (which includes 3 crisis suit units, a broadside unit, a riptide unit and a commander).

Some of the Tau formations are so good, that an argument could be made for just taking the formations and not bothering with the Hunter Cadre, or just taking a very small CAD (which also has the benefit of having Objective Secured) for a much smaller points cost, allowing more points to be spent on the good formations.  If you took the Retailiation Cadre, Firebase Support Cadre and the Optimsed Stealth Cadre that could be a fluffy suit based army in itself that also has very additional formation good rules, that can be built to deal with any enemy force.

The main benefits of the Hunter Cadre is ok (units can give supporting fire within 12", and can run and fire if close to the commander or cadre fireblade), but in many cases these benefits are not as good as some of the benefits in the other formations.

Ultimately if doesn't come down to whether you like the special rules of this formation, but whether you want the special rules of the Hunter Contingent, mainly Coordinated Firepower.

The Coordiated Firepower rules makes markerlights much more effective, as they can affect multiple units, however if your army is less depenent on marker lights, and/or has large powerful units (which will ovekill units if they combined firepower) then you could be best not using the Hunter Contingent.  Another benefit of the Coordinated Firepower rules is the +1 BS if 3 or more units combine fire but if your formation already gives you extra BS (eg. the Optimsed Stealth Cadre) or gives twin-linked, you may not need the Coordinated Firepower rule as much.

My current army has lots of units, and most of them are in the 80-150 points region, so I know combining 3-5 of them will not kill a unit of marines, so I could do with the +1 BS and more efficient use of marker lights, so I will take the Hunter Cadre because I want to use the Hunter Contngent rules, not for the formation in itself.

In time as I buy more models and experiment with Stormsurges, units of multiple Ghostkeels, and some of the bigger formations I may not need the Coordinated Firepower rule as much, and therefore I would forgo the Hunter Cadre to spend more points of the formations I do want.

That's all for now, next post I wlll look into the best (imho) of the new formations.

What's your opinion on the Hunter Cadre and the Firebase Support Cadre ?  Do you use them, and what do think of the competition they face from the other formations ?


PS.  I little gem I found while researching this article is a formation compendium located on the Blood of Kittens website (link here).  It has a record of all legal formations and is a great resouce

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Tomb Reawakens III - Wraiths Progress & 1st Tournament Games

Finishing at 5 in the morning before the tournament I got the Wraiths up to gaming standard so I could take them to the tournament (I also quickly added some blue to my WIP Sypder as well).  At 2 in the morning I released I wasn't going to finish them at the rate I was going, so you'll notice that I didn't paint the red in between the tail sections on the back 3 Wraiths.  They are very very far from finished, but I still got compliments about them at the tournament which is nice.

Practice Game

For this game and the tournament games my (1500 point) list was:

Combined Arms Detachment:
Lord (just stock with a Staff of Light)
2 x 10 Warriors
3 Spyders

Canoptek Harvest Formation
1 Spyder
5 Scarabs
6 Wraiths

Destroyer Cult Formation
Destroyer Lord (Voidreaper, ie. a Warscythe with Master-crafted and Fleshbane)
3 x 3 Destroyers
3 Heavy Destroyers

The Thursday before the tournament I got to play my mate's Grey Knights army.  It was a very elite army, but had a lot of 2+ saves to deal with, 2 dreadknights & 2 units of terminators (one with a lvl3 librarian) accompanied by 2 units of purifiers in rhinos and another grey knight unit with the shunt jump packs.

We played maelstrom hammer and anvil, and in hindsight the deployment played into my hand, as it stopped the Grey Knights using their mobility to pick on isolated units because out 24" wide deployment zones were so packed.

Bad target priority meant I took a wound off a dreadknight while leaving a rhino on 1 hull point (should have focused on the rhino), however some destroyers on the other flank killed the other rhino to get me 1st blood.

Next turn I tied to whittle away wounds on the dreadknights while continuing to build up the scarabs.  I was taking a few casualties, but not much as the Grey Knights did not have too much firepower (particular with a terminator unit in reserve).  I charged one of the dreadknights with wraiths and attacked destroyer lord, but the destroyer lord did not make it into combat and the dreadknight lost by 1, ran away, and I did not catch it.

3rd turn the dreadknight flamed some destroyers, but it left the last model from the unit out of range, while the dreadknight the other side charged and killed a unit of destroyers.  My response was to kill a dreadknight with the wraiths, bring the other dreadknight down to 1 wound with the mainly with the heavy destroyers over a couple of turns, with the destroyers doing a number on the advancing purifiers.  The scarabs who were quite big charged the Libby who was with the remaining purifiers and drowned them in attacks, but it still took a few combat phases for the Libby to die.

Although a unit of terminators had deep struck into my back field, the other had had to move backwards to get an objective, so with me having a large lead in the maelstrom points the game was effectively over

Overall my army had nice mobility without reducing it's firepower, and in this game I got lucky in that the maelstrom cards went my way, and my opponents saves were a bit poor at the start of the game.  A good opening game for the Necrons at 1500 points.

1st Tournament Game vs Khorne Daemonkin

A cracking game against another mate.  I went into the game a bit to confident, thinking of all the internet hype that khorne deamonkin made chaos better but still not in any way good.  Never underestimate an army you have never played before.  The Khorne army was a very fast assault army, that imho had been built very well to use the advantage the army had.  It had 2 units of blood letters in rhinos, another in reserve, a unit of khorne hounds, a Maulerfiend (think dreadnought with 2 special close combat weapons that can move 12" a turn), 2 Soul Grinders, 2 small units of bikes and to round everything off a bloodthirster.

Because my opponent had a maelstrom card to kill a character he moved the centre of his line (mainly the bloodthirster) towards one flank that had the necron lord with some warriors, so i mainly went the other flank - I wasn't scared of the bloodthirster.  We both cleared up our respective flank, my wraiths clearing up any infantry they encountered, and the destroyer shooting doing well.  I cleared up the 2 units of bikes, 3 units of bloodletters and 2 rhinos, while Khorne had killed my necron lord, 1 warrior unit, the unit of spyders and the formation spyder.  So I only had my destroyer lord with wraiths as a heavy hitter, while Khorne had most of their big hitters.  Luckily for me the game had to end turn 4, and I had won by 1 point, only because I killed a maulerfiend with the last shot of the match for 2 maelstrom points.  If the game had gone on I think the Khorne would have pulled it back and even had a chance of tabling the necrons if the game had gone on to turn 7.

Big lesson was not to underestimate fast assault armies.  The mobility of my army was very useful to move away to one flank and concentrate my shooting and assault, a more static army would have been rolled over a lot easier.

Tournament Game 2 vs Tau

I wasn't expecting the New Tau, but the codex had come out just in time.  However the player doing the tournament comp, to put in mildly, doesn't like Tau, so made a few rulings that were definitely anti Tau.  This had nothing to do with the new codex's coordinated firepower rule, just plain arbitrary rule changes; snap shots could not be modified (the only army that can modify snap shots is Tau), plus GMCs could only fire 2 weapons (which although is sometimes debated, no tournament I've heard of has ruled it that way).  Out of all the formations in the game the Firebase Support Cadre was one of 2 banned, and this was the same comp that did not modify anything to do with Necrons or Eldar at all.

We were playing the diagonal deployment and the mission was Purge the Alien.  Running across the battlefield into Tau guns was not going to do my infantry any good, so the necron lord and 20 warriors stayed in 2 ruins near my corner of the board and were ready to go to ground if anything looked at them.

The board was dominated by a big building section.  It was a big L shape that blocked line of sight for infantry, but the opponents Riptide and Stormsurge could see over it.  the building had doors so units could go in it.  Looking from my table side, I was deployed in the bottom right, and the buiding started in the about 12" on the bottom left, came accross to nearly the middle of the board, and went up towards the other side of the board stopping about 20" from the other table edge.  One door was at the top of the building, and the other was at the side close to the edge of my deployment zone.

[The layout I faced was more of a large L shape with a door and one end of the L,
and another at the corner of the L shape]

It was really nice terrain, but I think it was better suited to a role playing or small skirmish game, but we have to deal with the terrain that's set-up at the table, and being able to pick table corners I got a massive advantage.  For those interested in the terrain you can follow the link here.

To take advantage of coordinated firepower my opponent had taken lots of small infantry units, a unit of 4 drones (his auxiliary for his formation), 2 units of 5 pathfinders, 3 units of 6 fire warriors.  This was complimented by some big hitters; a Riptide, a Stormsurge (with the shorter ranged main gun), a Hammerhead, plus a Commander with some Crisis suits.  The infantry and drones looked like 6 easy kill points, so I aimed to ensure they died as soon as possible.

After set-up almost everything went to plan.  The Wraiths went through the building for a turn 3 charge, while the scarabs were built up by 4 a turn to also rush round the building for a turn 3 charge.  The destroyers used their mobility (6" move, D6" run, plus 2D6" assault move) to rush up the board with even the spyders running every turn.

Return fire from the Tau was minimal, particularly with the Heavy Destroyers instant killing the broadside, the Spyders regenerating the Scarabs faster than they were being killed (mainly from scattering blasts), and the Destroyers losing a couple of members due to their good toughness & armour saves.

My opponent got very unlucky with the turn three assaults in that the pathfinders charged by the scarabs rolled double 1 for their morale test and got locked in combat.  One of the 3 units of infantry the wraiths were in combat also did the same thing locking them in combat.

Rather than counter charging with the Stormsurge, it just shot at the destroyers and spyders.  So when the wraiths and scarabs were free he following turn (having killed their opponents in the Tau turn) they set up a massive single combined combat.  After the destroyers killed the crisis suits, the scarabs charged the commander, some rallied pathfinders, and the hammerhead, while the wraiths charged some rallied firewarriors, the commnder and the riptide.  The fire warriors and pathfinders were slaughtered, the hammerhead was wreaked, the commander and riptide didn't do much and then didn't roll double 1 for their break test and both ran off the board, leaving the Tau with just the Stormsurge, and a double digit deficit in victory points.

[It's nice to have a Stomp option]

We got to see the Stormsurge in action, and he did roll a 6 on one of his stomps killing 3 wraiths, luckily they had fearless to give the rest of the army time to run away :)

This game mobility and speed was again key, any extra infantry I took in my army to make it a decurian would'nt have added anything, and would have reduced what could run at the enemy with any change of getting there.

Coming Next

Two big wins, and the next game was against Eldar, which will follow in the next post, along with I thought of the army and how I will tweak it going forwards.

Until then, Happy Gaming :)


Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Tomb Reawakens II - Converted Wraiths [Necrons]

The Tomb continues to stir !!  I wrote a few weeks ago (here) that the Necrons were dithering between being sold off on ebay or becoming one of my fewer remaining main armies, and in another post a left the teaser picture below:
[I think the scarab gave the wraith away]
.Although the Necron army is undoubtedly strong, I wanted the playstyle of the army I play to be mobile, as that's the playstyle I enjoy the most.  If I was going to keep the army I wanted to update my Wraiths, not only were the old models wraiths a bit small compared to the new ones, but it was an excuse to convert a nice unit to big a nice center piece.

[a comparison of the old and current wraith models]
However the another reason for wanting to replace them is that they look very bland and not too impressive (in my opinion). As my armies get large I like to add in something different, I also find it fun to come up with a new design or conversion.

So off to the internet I went for inspiration. Oddly enough there weren't many recent alternative wraith conversions, probably because people use the GW official model, as it is after all a good sculpt.  However there were a few that were done when the wraiths originally made an entrance in the necron codex. At that point there were no wraith models, only pictures in the codex to go on.

One really nice conversion I found was from dakka dakka forum [link here], however I thought it was way beyond my modelling skills:

I really liked how the conversion melded the wraith and flayed one ideas. Follow this link to the forum post if you want see other work in progress pictures of the conversion.

Another conversion I found was from Warhammer with Zail blog (link here)

The only thing I wanted to change was to increase the height slightly, and make the model a bit bulkier in the torso area, to make the model more in line with the dimensions of the current wraith model.

After looking at the GW range of models to see if there was a tail I could use and deciding there wasn't really anything suitable (unless I wanted to use the tail of the existing wraith model), so I made the tail out of a bent paper clip and circular tubes of plasticard that I cut into small sections.

The plasticard was from Gale Force Nine's Assessory pack:

I used the 2 smallest circular tubes, and here's my first work in progress pics:

I bulked out the torso by adding 2 of the big shields from the lychguard to the upper back of the torso, and 2 of the small void blades from the same bit to the lower back torso. Here's pictures of the first model fully converted:

Since then I've undercoated and put a black wash on 3, and started the painting on one, while converted and undercoating 3 more to give me a unit of 6:

The plan now is to get the one I've started painted up to gaming standard, and then to get the rest of them up to the same stage tomorrow evening, as after a ptractive game tonight they'll be having their proper run out in a tournament this weekend.

There's still loads to do with them.  I wanted the gaps in between the tube tail to look like it's glowing, so I need to put a lighter red line in the middle of the gap, and highlight the edges of the tail sections.  Putting more detail on the rest of the model (including glow effects on the chest and eyes) and more highlighting will also be needed.  However all that will have to wait till after the tournament.

Let me know what you think of the conversions, and let me know what conversions you're working on.  How do you try to make your army stand out from the crowd ?


Friday, 6 November 2015

Burning Dawn Campaign & Infiltration Cadre [Tau] - Updated Dec '15

[Our New Character Ethereal Aun'Do]

I'm a bit late to the party with this campaign.  I always thought the Ethereal looked really neat, and was hoping to pick it up cheaply from ebay a few weeks after the release.  However I don't think this is likely to happen, as unlike the previous campaign boxsets there isn't the huge savings on the price, meaning it's unlikely people will be buying multiples of the boxset to either bulk out their army or start an army from scratch.  Therefore the Ethereal is currently, and is likely to stay, being sold for a very inflated price compared to an Ethereal (around £25+).

However while listening to a YouTube battle report it was mentioned that the new campaign Ethereal had fearless, and knowing the new character Ethereal was only 25pts more than a standard Ethereal, I was intrigued with the rules for the Burning Dawn models.

So firstly what do you get if you take Aun'Do, well he got a hover drone (not that impressed, as only means he ignores dangerous terrain checks when he's with a unit), an honour blade (ok, but I've never taken one because an Ethereal shouldn't be getting in combat voluntarily), recon armour (nice but nothing special), once a game can use 2 invocations (nice) and has another rule to do with ignoring cover (which I will try to get more info on).

A normal Ethereal with recon armour, honour blade & hover drone would be 70 pts, so the extra abilities, particularly fearless is only 5 points.  In my eyes that's a bargain, and I would have paid 75 points for him even if he didn't have the hover drone, armour or honour blade.

So what is in the boxset, and would I get it

In the box you get:
1 Pathfinder Squad (10 Pathfinders, including special weapons & 3 Drones)
1 Piranha
1 Stealth Suit Team (3 Stealth Suits & 1 Drone)
Ethereal Aun’Do
Burning Dawn Campaign Book (32 pages, including background story & rules)

If you assume the Ethereal cost a bit more than the current Ethereal and is in line with the other plastic characters, then you're only saving a couple of pounds.  So unless you really wanted to pick up the Ethereal or the rules for the formation (which you could probably pick up elsewhere, eg. ebay) you'd really need to what to use all the models.

Both Pathfinders and Stealth Suits have not been in my army for a while, Stealth suits for a few editions and pathfinders since I started using forgeworld Tetras.  Now while both units are not dead weights like Vespids, they are not the most common units seen (although pathfinders are almost a auto include if you don't have Tetras).

Outside of their formation I wouldn't want to use all of these models, so lets take a quick look at the formation.

The formation gives scout (or infiltrate if you already have scout), and Shrouded.  Scouded is very interesting because it makes the pathfinder much more survivable; 3+ cover save in forests, and 2+ in ruins, plus as Aun'Do is an indepentant character he sould give Shrouded to any unit he joins.  In my army my Ethereal normally joins my Sniper Team, which with their own Stealth would have a 2+ cover save when behind the Fire Warriors and Kroot in front of them.

Aun'Do abilities and the Shrouded seem very good.  Now we need to look at the bloat.  Do the units have extra wargear or costs that make the formation as whole so inefficient to outweigh the formation benefits.

[Update: The formation give Stealth NOT Shrouded, no is not quite as good, plus it ruins my idea of joining the Ethereal to my Sniper Drones, as Stealth does not stack with itself]

The Stealth squad comes as 3 with a marker drone and costs 125 pts.  So it has the shas'ui upgrade, fusion gun upgrade and a drone.  A bit of bloat but not too bad to stop me taking the formation.

The Piranha character has BS4 and a fusion gun, so is fine for 55 pts, effectively you get +1 BS and the formation bonuses for 5 points :)

[What a way to kill something promising]
Now the pathfinders, the death dealers.  They are a full squad (not the worse thing in the world), however they are fully bloated with upgrades, they have multiple special weapons and ALL of the drones, and come stock at 240 points.  They don't contribute many markerlight tokens (for their cost) which is what you should take a large squad for. They have a pulse accelerator drone, but then exchange some pulse carbines for special weapons, plus lots of situational wargear (eg. grav inhibitor drone).  Overall they become a very expensive jack of all trade unit that is not overly good at any task for their cost, while still being as tough as guardsmen if anything with ignore fire shots them.

I know this isn't a full proper review of the Burning Dawn units, but at 240 points for one unit of pathfinders it's a deal breaker for me.  I'll take Aun'Do as part of a Combined Arms detachment, but the pathfinders ruin the formation for me (even with the good benefits of Scout and Shrouded).

What's you take on the Burning Dawn Infiltration Cadre ?  I'm going to get the campaign booklet off ebay (for the fluff and Aun'Do rules), and try to pick up Aun'Do, but after that I'll leave it at that, and save my money towards a Stormsurge or Ghostkeel.


[Update: While attending a convention, Warfare, I saw the boxset £10 less than GW price, so I picked it up, as I was shocked at the prices of the Ethereal and the Campaign booklet prices on ebay, which were regularly going for £25+ each, I'll be magetizing the Ethereal so he can be Aun'Do or a regular Ethereal on foot, pics to follow]

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

No changes to ANY existing Tau units - WTF !

So the big elephant in the room is that the new Tau codex is really just a codex update rather than a new codex, and actually ALL of the existing units are not changing at all.

The extent of the new codex is the new units we have seen in White Dwarf, Tau tactical cards, plus (this part is still rumours but reliable rumours) 9 new formations, a new Tau detachment (no information yet on whether this is just a detchment like the Dark Eldar Real Space Raiders (ie. changing the number of slots in the standard Combined Arms Detachment) or a Decurion style detachment.

With the great buffs that Necrons, Marines, Dark Angels and Eldar got in their codes there was hope that Tau would get the same, however we have yet to see the Formations and the new detachment would could add a lot to the Tau.

This is a new move for GW, even saying in White Dwarf that you don't need the new codex if you have the old codex and buy the campaign book (which has all the new units,formations and detachment).

The last time there was such a small change in a codex, was when the Dark Eldar got their 2nd Edition codex (codex version, not game version), which basically only added a vehicle wargear:

The main kicker for the Tau codex I think is that the devilfish is not going down in points, really calling into question the use of the new Breacher team (which is only better than a Pulse Rifle armed Fire Warriors within 5", and a 5++ invulnerable save is nice but kroot in front of fire warriors give a 5+ cover save).  Also Vespid will still never be seen :(  Personally without new sculpts I'm not too upset about the Vespid :)

However it's not all bad, I am quite happy for the following reasons:

  • Pulse Rifles will not change (something I was worried that might happen to make the Pulse Blaster a more favourable choice)
  • The Riptide still has a 2+ save, which I worried would change, given that both the Ghostkeel and the Stormsurge had a 3+ save
  • It looks like the Firebase Support Cadre will still be valid, which gives us a good source of tank hunting, and allows the high yield missile pod configuration of the broadside to take on vehicles up to av13 quite easily.
  • The Ethereal's Invocations and leadership buff remaining means s/he can still be the centre of a good infantry line (whether static or aggressively advancing)
Lastly one thing that I really like the is the addition of the Support Drone to the Fire Warriors (Strike team).  For 10 points you get a drone you can deploy that fires 4 times the shots of a 9 point Fire Warrior.  For Strike Teams (ie. pulse rifle armed fire warriors) I think it's as close to a no-brainer as you get.  Getting hold of them will be the issue !! Looks like I'll need to convert some.

Filling Gaps

So the real question is whether the new units will plug any gaps in the Tau arsenal, and help with units the Tau army finds hard to deal with.

With mass Str7 shooting AV14 can sometimes be a pain, however I think that deepstriking suicide crisis suits will still be the way forward.  The main gun on the Stormsurge will obviously help, but I don't think it's essential to bring the Stormsurge just for AV14.

The Eldar Wraithknight is also a pain, particularly in multiples.  I don't think any of the three new units, will help particularly against he Wraithknight for it's cost.  The Stormsurge may help, but the majority of it's weapons are anti infantry, however being a Guargantan creature it won't be wasting firepower, as it can fire the str5 firepower at other infantry while using the main gun against the Wraithknight.  I think our best choice against the Wraithknight is a unit buffed by monster hunter (from the Puretide Engram Chip), Dual plasma/fusion armed crisis suits, Broadsides with Missile Drones and Sniper Drones.

I think at the moment I'd not going to change my list at all, unless the formation benefits and new detachment benefits are good (they'll likely to be).

The Last Stretch

Only 10 days to do and we'll have the actual codex (or campaign book for those not getting the codex) in our hands.

What do you make of this news ?  What do you think it means going forwards, particularly for the armies which need a proper update, eg. Chaos, Dark Eldar, Orks etc.


A Caveat

It was pointed out by Nick Thrower in the comments that the White Dwarf article only says that all the changed profiles will be in the campaign book, so technically there could be other units that have changed that we don't know about (which will be in the campaign book).

My guess (and at this time that's all it can be) is that the only units in the campaign book will be the ones previewed in White Dwarf, ie:

  • Stormsurge
  • Ghostkeel
  • Fire Warrior Breacher & Strike teams
  • Commander (which now includes the Coldstar option)
By this time next week I'm sure some people will have the new codex and the internet will start to confirm exactly which units have changed.

My big disappointment is the rules for the devilfish, which is in the Burning Dawn book using the new name prefix TY7 was not changed at all.  At the existing points costs it's hard to see a full mech (& mecha) force competiting with the Infantry & Mecha (and Hammerhead/Skyray), even with the new Breacher teams.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Beasts & Bodyguards Part Four - What I think of Lhamaeans [Dark Eldar]

Interesting for the fourth part in this series we touch on one of the most used in a lot if competitive lists  out of the model being reviewed.  The reason being that she is the cheapest HQ model available to the Dark Eldar, however I believe she deserves a further look.

So Why Do People Take Her

[a familiar start to competitive Dark Eldar lists]

To put it bluntly none of our character HQs are that great, they are fine for friendly games and semi-competitive tournaments, but if you are trying to squeeze every last drop out of a Dark Eldar list in order to compete with the top lists (eg. Eldar, Necrons & Space Marines) then you'd rather have a 10 points HQ (that also gives access to another Venom) and spend the saved points on other units.

An alternative view I have to point out, is that if you are going for a competitive dark eldar list is to leave out combat entirely (or maybe have one counter assault) to concentrate on shooting is a common held view, and not one that I'm going to argue against too strongly.  However if you like a bit of combat in your list, lets take a look at the Lhamaean.

A Closer Look

A Lhamaean costs the same as a Wych and is basically a Kabalite Warrior with better leadership (ld9) and the splinter rifle exchanged for a sword and a splinter pistol (and this is how I converted mine rather than usual mulitples of the, although excellent, finecast model).  However it's the sword (or Shaimeshi blade) that is the real game changer. The Shaimeshi blade is a Poisoned (2+) weapon that causes Instant Death on a 6 to wound roll.  Although the opponent will still get their armour save the 2+ poison will ensure that a fair number of wounds are caused, and the occasional Instant Death wound that could get through will scare Monstrous Creatures (I've killed both a Wraithlord and a Wraithknight, under the last Eldar codex, with that).

The Lhamaean is obviously very fragile, like most Dark Eldar units, with only T3, a 5+ armour save, and later in the game Feel No Pain from the Power from Pain table, so the damage output has to be good to make up for that, so lets take a look.  Can the Lhamaean take on the giants already reviewed and the go-to assault unit; the Grotesque:

[ON = Outnumbered, +1S = The +1 Str Combat Drug result]
Warp Beast = Krymerae, the old school in me slipped out :)

The above table looks at the damage done on the charge against marines (MEQ) and Imperial Guardsmen (GEQ), and compares the ratio between the points killed and the points cost of the unit doing it.

Now an obvious caveat.  This analysis should not be taken in a vaccum, to decide whether you use a unit you also need to consider:

  • It's speed; both will it strike first in combat and is it fast enough to get to combat
  • How tough the unit is, will it die before it gets to combat, how will it deal with return attacks
  • Is it reliable at charging, does it ignore the cover penalty distance, does it have fleet
  • How brave is it, will it run at the first sign of damage (leadership) and can this be mitigated cheaply
  • Are the numbers reliable, they may be averages but how likely is an average result likely, does it rely on a good number of wounds being caused, does it ignore armour saves (reducing unreliability), does it rely on rolling 6s (eg, rending, which can be very unreliable against opponents with good armour saves - I'm looking at you Necron Wraiths !!)
So now gets back to the numbers.  Right of the bat the Grotesque when it's outnumbered will kill 41% of it's cost on the turn it charges, a very good total, and dwarfing the pitful 23% of a wych if it rolls an inconsequential combat drug result.  However look at the Lhamaean, it kills an impressive 58% of it's points cost in marines on the charge.  It may only kill on average 0.4 marines per Lhamaean but because it only cost 10 points this leads to a very good ratio percentage.

Maybe it's just because the Lhamaean is cheap, but comparing against the Warp beast & Wych with a +1 Str combat drug the Lhamaean still comes up on top.  Looking against GEQ and the Lhamaean and Warp Beast are clear winners.

Can we take this further ?

Although the Lhamaean wins on pure damage dealt it is still very fragile compared to the big hitters of the Grotesque, Sslyth and Clawed Fiend, however lets join two units that cover each other weaknesses.  The Court can be made up of Lhamaeans and Sslyths.  Between them they will have majority toughness 5, the Lhamaeans give the unit good leadership 9 (so they don't require a character to babysit them), and they use up 2 slots in a transport (same as a Grotesque), plus between them they have the same number of wounds as Grotesques and Clawed Fiends.  Overall a nice combined package.  And for those numerically minded, here's there combined stats:

The combined stats are comparable to Grotesques on the charge, has the same majority toughness, most of the wounds start with Feel No Pain, and the rest gain it by mid game.  Advantages compared to Grotesques include better leadership and no need for a babysitter, fleet to make charges more reliable, some shooting to give them some flexibility, and lastly opponents have rarely seen a Court of the Archon with more than a single Lhamaean or a few Medusae, let alone played against one.  Don't underestimate how an opponent's unfamiliarity with a unit can mess with their target priority, force them into making hard decisions and they are more likely to make mistakes.

So for me, we have a...
My top pick for a combat unit is a Court made up of Lhamaeans and Sslyths, however all of the units in the stats table above (apart from Wyches) are good, and all have niches where they are the best unit for the job at hand.  Therefore rather than having multiple Courts I have a unit of each; Grotesques, Krymerae & Clawed Fiends.

Were you expecting this conclusion ?  Have you used Lhamaeans, how did you find them ?  Has this series been useful so far ?


Next up I'll be discussing adding a touch of light.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Supremacy Armour Battlesuit Fusion Eradicator is available [Tau]

Just a quick post to say that the latest Forgeworld newsletter (here) gives the wonderful news that the Fusion Eradicator, the alternative arm weapon for the KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Armour Battlesuit (reviewed here) is available to buy (link here).

Although it has much shorter range (24") compared to the suits other main weapons, it packs a nasty punch of the equivilant of 5 Multi-melta shots.  Also 24" isn't that short when you consider the suit can move 12" a turn.  Yes killing heavy tanks will force the suit to get very close (12") to get the melta effect on the weapon, however the volume of low ap shots makes it's worth considering putting the Fusion Eradicator on at least one arm of the battlesuit.

The Fusion Eradicator biggest pull is that it helps answer one of the biggest issues for Tau armies, ie. very heavy armour, such as Imperial Knights, and AV14 vehicles.

With the arms costing £30 for those of you with deep wallets you could just order 2 extra arms so you have all the options.  For those of you, like me, who don't I'm not sure whether it would be best to specialise the battlesuit and just have the Fusion Eradicator on both arms, or (owing to GW changing rules over time) to have one of each arms to keep the battlesuit flexible, and limit the amount GW could nerf the battlesuit in any future rule (or meta) changes.  What would you do ?

In the end, for me this gorgeous model, is just the target of window shopping, as with such a high price tag, I can't allow myself to buy it over the other hobby things I could buy and the models I need to paint.

Existng models I'd like to paint up are:
XV84 Command Crisis Suit
some Fusion XV9s
one more Pihranha to join my squadron of 2

and I undoubtedly will be getting in the new release:

Plus I'll probably be having to do weapon swaps; eg. I'm guessing I may have to paint up 6 heavy rail rifles sitting in their original boxes.

So for me getting a KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy is a long way off.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit Rules & First Impressions [Tau]

This is the one I was waiting for !  The rules for the XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit has been leaked from pages of next weeks White Dwarf magazine.

The pictures come courtesy of Lady Atia on the War of Sigmar blog.  Here the pages of White Dwarf:

[Click on the pictures and zoom in to read all the detail]

Toughness & Survivability

As rumoured the Ghostkeel is only T5, with 4 wounds with a 3+ armour save, however the Ghostkeel costs barely over a third of the cost of the Stormsurge, and comes complete with 2 Stealth drones, and it's with these drones that the magic starts.  The Ghostkeel comes with Stealth, and if the Ghostkeel is attacked from over 12" away the cover save benefit from Stealth and/or Shrounded is doubled (up to a 2+ cover save).  The drones then give the all models in the unit (including themselves) Stealth, and if a model has Stealth (ie. the Ghostkeel) they instead give the model Shrouded.

However lets look at the exact wording:

"All models ... receive the Stealth special rule.  Any models that already have Stealth receive the Shrouded special rule instead"

now I believe the sentence means that the Ghostkeel receives the Shrouded special rule instead of receiving the Stealth special rule, because the sentence is taking about what rule is being received.  However I can see some people arguing that the sentence means that the Ghostkeel receives the Shrouded special rule and loses the Stealth special rule.

My interpretation means that with the drones the Ghostkeel receives a 2+ cover save in the open (Stealth + Shrouded, both doubled), however let me know your thoughts in the comments.  Even if Stealth is lost the Ghostkeel will have a 3+ cover save in the open, or a 2+ cover save if behind or in any cover or if there are any intervening units.

It's important to note that while the Ghostkeel will have a 2+ cover save in the open (my interpretation) the drones themselves will only have a 6+ cover save, as they only have Stealth, and only the Ghostkeel has the wargear to grant the double cover save bonus.  Therefore careful positioning will be required to ensure the drones are sniped out from an odd angel you weren't expecting.

Update: I obviously forgot that only one model in a unit has to have the Stealth and/or Shrouded rule for the whole unit to benefit, so regardless of the interpretation the whole unit will get Stealth and Shrouded.  It also means that the drones will receive a 4+ cover save in the open, and any type of cover will bump that up to a 2+ cover save, making them much more survivable.

With the cover save bonus the Ghostkeel is quite survivable, once the enemy does not have ignore cover and the Ghostkeel stays more than 12" away from the enemy to get the double cover save bonus.  In that scenario the Ghostkeel is very good for it's 130 points.


The Ghostkeel comes as standard with a Fusion Collider, which is a blast fusion gun.  Nice but short ranged, and the Ghostkeel has to get very close (9") to get the melta effect.  The Fusion Collider can be swapped for a Cyclic Ion Raker which has a slightly longer range of 24" (and gets the full effect at maximum range unlike the Fusion Collider) and fires 6 Str7 AP4 shots, or can be overcharged (which makes it Gets Hot) to have a Str8 AP4 Large Blast.

Nothing spectacular, but I think the Ghostkeel is more of a harassing unit like Stealth suits.

The main gun is complimented by a twin-linked flamer, but personally I would immediately upgrade that to a twin-linked fusion blaster if keeping the Fusion Collider as the main gun, or upgrading to a twin-linked burst cannon if using the Cyclic Ion Raker.

So the firepower is short ranged, but it's nice you can make both the main gun and the secondary gun compliment each other, for a total of 10 anti infantry shots or a twin-linked and blast anti tank (or heavy infantry) shots.

The Last Laugh

The last piece of trickery (Holophoton Countermeasures) is that once a game, after a unit has chosen to target the Ghostkeel or it's unit, the Ghostkeel can choose to make that enemy unit fire only snapshots that turn.  That could be very nasty for Wraithguard with D-Scythes because suddenly they wouldn't be able to fire the D-Scythes, but against normal weapons it will still severely limit the damage the Ghostkeel takes.

Typically with GW it mixes up unit and model in the rules for this ability, so it will have to be seen whether when you have multiple Ghostkeels in a unit you can do this ability once for each Ghostkeel.  However either way this is a very nice ability that will probably allow the Ghostkeel to survive another turn at a critical point in the game.


The points cost is very reasonable (135 for the Cyclic Ion Raker & Burst Cannon variant, 140 for the Fusion Collider with Fusion gun variant).  The harasssment value with the cover saves ability is nice, but the firepower is nothing to write home about, but if it's hard to kill it should be around longer.

It's a stunning model, and while I think the unit isn't outstanding, it definitely isn't bad, it's just not an auto-take, well unless other units get nerfs, eg, Riptides & Crisis Suits, in the new codex.  It's Holophoton Countermeasures make this a good suit to try and get Fusion weaponry in close to the enemy and survive for a second round.  However we'll have to wait for the codex to see if there's longer ranged options to taking out heavy tanks from range.  We already have the Stormsurge, but that is expensive, hopefully Hammerheads or Broadsides will have better tank killing than before.

Interesting at 135 points (for the Fusion variant) the Ghostkeel is the same points as Shadowsun is now, and I think Shadowsun giving a large crisis suit unit with drones Stealth and Shrouded is a valid alternative.  Or maybe as they're both great models, you could use both and have 2-3 Ghostkeels (with accompanying 2 Stealth drones each) as one Stealthed up unit, and Shadowsun with a unit of Crisis suits as another.  You could even round out the elites with a unit of Stealth Suits.

So what's your opinion on the new rules for the Ghostkeel ?  I think the model will sell well, as it's a great model and it's much easier to put 130-140 points into an army without major rewrites.  Will you be buying one ?


PS. Only roughly a week to go before I guess codex page pictures will start leaking, can't wait :)

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Tomb Reawakens [Necron]

Yes it's all happening for my 40k armies at the same time, and my Necrons have resurfaced.

With increasing family requests on my time, and realising that I have way too many 40k armies and mini projects that I am never going to get round to, the Necrons were on the edge between becoming one of my main armies or being destined for ebay.

With their new codex they were undeniably a strong force in 40k now, but to stay as one of my main armies they had to be able to be played in a playstyle that I like.  My favourite is my Dark Eldar, I also like my Wolves who rush accross the board to get in close combat, while even my Tau is based around moving the infantry forwards to get them in range for the Ethereal to do his Storm of Fire ability.  So basically gun lines are not for me, and I like mobile armies.

Looking at the units which are fast in the Necron army, Destroyers stood out as having a pretty good buff; they went from 1 wound models back to 2 wound models, which I think is one of the biggest buffs in the codex, and that's before you put them in the Destroyer Cult to give them (effectively) Monster Hunter and Tank Hunter in the shooting phase.

Luckily my army had quite a few destroyers, a unit of heavy destroyers, and a second unit if heavy destroyers that needed to be repainted to my paint scheme.  So first game repairs:

 Not surprisingly with years in storage, even in good cases, there were a few repairs.  unfortunately the last destroyer (at the front) had lost the arm connecting the torso to the weapon, but luckily this last model wasn't needed for my first provision army list).

So to start the core of my mobile Necron force below is the Destroyer Cult:
[extra flying bases have since been obtained]
After my first couple of games I decided to lose the Heavy Destroyers in the small Destroyer units for normal Destroyers to keep the unit focused on one range, maybe it was just the Tau commander in me wanting standard weapons across the unit.

Early Test Games

I've had a few games down my local GW with my Necron force.  At 1200 points I've just used the Destroyer Cult along with an Canoptek Harvest, which makes a very small 30 model force.  Currently at this points level I am running:

Canoptek Harvest (430 pts)
1 Canoptek Spyder
7 Canoptek Scarabs
6 Canoptek Wraiths

Destroyer Cult (770 pts)
Destroyer Lord (Voidreaper) - Warlord
6 Destroyers
3 Destroyers
3 Destroyers
3 Heavy Destroyers

The list has nice mobility, and against the right targets (in one game I played a Raven Guard assault marine force) it can be devastating to MEQs (once they come out of cover).  However I need to see it against horde and mech forces.

Expanding the force I just add a Combined Arms Detachment, and even without the 4+ reanimation protocol of the Decurion Deatchment it has performed well, and more importantly the speed of the force has been nice to play with.

[GW's Reclaimation Legion Boxset]

A Quick Note on the Decurion

I've been avoiding the Decurian Detachment, as the main elements are slow foot troopers (you need at least 25 infantry models), and I can't have anymore of a model I really like (but more on that later).

The decurian core detachment gives a slow very resilient force, which I'm not sure I would enjoy playing, maybe sometimes, but definitely not all the time.  At 479 pts for a minimum Decurion Core detachment when I only normally 1500 or 1750 points, it's a bit much in models I don't really like (or to form the core of my army).  I don't mind a cheap Lord and 2 Warrior Squads (at the much cheaper 310 points) which allows me to spend more points on the models I like.

So expect a few more posts in the future on how I'm finding the Necrons.  The biggest advantage they have over my other armies is that the full 1750 point army fits easily into one standard KR case because I'm not using any vehicles (so are easier to carry nto work).  My case even contains 20 Immortals & 9 Lychguard I haven't used yet, and 10 Flayed Ones that have only had one game,

So how are you finding the Necrons, and have you seen many non-Decurion armies ?  Have you seen any unusual army builds ?



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