Rogue Trader Skirmish Game Revealed

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Just when I’d convinced myself not to buy any more hobby stuff for a while, Games Workshop has gone and done it again.

The latest box of beautiful is the Rogue Trader skirmish game. Details are sketchy right now but with models this cool and a teaser trailer that couldn’t rock the Guardians of the Galaxy vibe any harder – who really cares?

It looks like a Space Crusade-esque board game which is indescribably cool. Based on the pictures below there’s some natty modular scenery which will work nicely with Necromunda too and a model range comprising of gribbly Nurgle beasties and some incredible looking Imperial models.

I’ll share more as it becomes available.

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Why The Last Jedi is actually brilliant

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I had planned on writing a review after I saw The Last Jedi at the cinema. I thought it would be the review of the blockbuster that would kickstart my blogging again after far too many months (years) of absence.

Then I saw the film and to my horror I didn’t love it. In fact, I wasn’t sure I even liked it. Undeterred I did what I do best – I reflected on it and in the end I couldn’t decide one way or the other which would make for a pretty terrible review.

Plus I was genuinely shocked by the abuse Star Wars fans who loved the film were directing at those who didn’t – so much so it stopped me writing. Which is pretty terrible really. I’ve never been scared into silence before and I didn’t like it.

To all those people guilty of abusing their fellow fans, regardless of which camp you’re in – I remind you that fandom is subjective and we are all entitled to our preferences.

But moving on…

I felt so conflicted that I eventually went to see it again. This time with no expectations and able to focus on the story rather than the orgy of special effects and battles. Which are as splendid as one might think.

However, this isn’t a review. Those that care will have already seen it and they certainly would have bought the Blu-ray.

This instead is more about why The Last Jedi is the movie that ties all the various Star Wars elements together. It – weirdly – makes the prequels better and The Force Awakens, unfortunately, slightly worse.

To be clear, the movie isn’t perfect. A lot of people were rightly annoyed by the casual way in which much-loved characters were killed off.  They may have a point.

Personally I think there could have been a more elegant way of doing it but I suspect Rian Johnson was trying to make the point that even heroes can die lousy deaths.

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Dan Abnett does the same thing in many of his books. It’s a valid plot device but it doesn’t work as well in movies – usually because things move too quickly for the audience to process it. Or appreciate it.

Similarly the entire casino sequence tries to make an important point but it’s too obvious and exaggerated and rang a little too true to the naffer moments of the prequels. The daft thing was that the point Johnson was scrabbling around for was made just after the absurdity was over. But more on that later.

Breathe. Just breathe…

Star Wars has always been very much ‘of its time’. The original movies were made during a time when people were rebelling against the idea of ‘the man’ and big government.

The prequels were made at a time when governments were being corrupted by big business to allow them to do more or less what they please and – more significantly – profit from warfare. Thank goodness that isn’t a problem any more…

The Last Jedi was made at a point when – certainly in the UK and the US – there is a widening political divide, especially between the generations and something needs to change.

The vast majority of the Baby Boomers and Generation X are clinging bitterly to the I’m alright Jack, fatally flawed infinite growth model with a healthy dose of zero sum gain economics thrown in. Xennials, Millennials and Generation Y (presumably because they say why the fuck a lot) are sick of the corruption, the dodgy dealings and the post truth bullshit of a the Trumpian era we now find ourselves in.

We’re also tired of a system that gave the generations before us free university educations and salaries sufficient to become home owners. The generations after spend half their salaries on rent and are lucky to own a home before the age of 35.

Where lies are the norm and we regularly question the motives of our leaders and the mainstream media to keep us objectively informed, the system is broken.

This is not a brilliant situation by any measure.

[NB: If you disagree with my politics just stop reading. Our lives are too short for you to spend ages writing an angry comment only for me to waste a few seconds deleting it unread.]

Regardless of political leaning, the movie speaks to this need for a new beginning. The New Republic falls so easily in The Force Awakens because the lessons of the past weren’t learned. Complacency or just good old-fashioned bureaucracy blinded the Senate to the threat posed by The First Order.

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That face says it all.

Similarly The First Order – or the Empire 2.0 – is as hopelessly paranoid, inflexible and as arrogant as the Empire was, if not more so.

Neither system works. And when they collide it only goes one way. A cycle that has repeated in the Star Wars universe for thousands of years in one form or another and one that we see repeated in the real world too.

The Last Jedi challenges the audience with the idea that there needs to be a new way. It’s an uncomfortable thought for those who have grown up with the originals because they feel so just and true. Their motives so pure. More so for those who read the old books – willing the Rebellion ever onwards to turn into the New Republic.

Most of us aren’t politicians or powerful business types so it’s easy to identify with the Rebellion. It’s easy for us to see the Empire as evil because it’s immediately relatable to our world. The prequels were less relatable because the vast majority of people – until recently – were totally unaware just how toxically intertwined big business, special interest groups and politics have become.

Restoration of the Republic was always the ideal – the symbol of hope that drove the characters and the fans through the fighting.

The Last Jedi forces us to come to terms with the idea that we may have been wrong this entire time. And this is when the wheels come off the cart…

This is not going to go the way you think…

The prequels were heavily criticised for being over sanitised and kid friendly. I suspect – and admittedly I could be reading into things to prove my point – that this was deliberate.

In episode 1 the Republic was a shining beacon of democracy. The planets within its borders were shining utopias. Spaceships were new and shiny because it was a very prosperous place to be.

Although you stray outside of the Republic and everything becomes a lot darker. However the Republic leaves the Outer Rim to criminals and despots like the Hutts because it’s convenient to do so. Not so sanitised when you think about it.

But as the films move on and the Republic is not only torn apart by war but by bankruptcy too. By episode 3 we’re starting to get the ‘worn future’ look of the originals. The tone also darkens considerably. The mass execution of the Jedi and the mutilation of Anakin. Being the most obvious ones.

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Then there’s the millions upon millions of clone troopers who fought and died for absolutely no reason at all. If Star Wars was set in the 40k universe Khorne would be positively erect at that level of callous blood-letting.

For now we have to side step the debate surrounding the appalling acting by some of the cast and the equally dire dialogue (especially in Episode 2). As Harrison Ford once said to Lucas after a table read: You can read this shit George, but you can’t say it.

On that we can all agree.

But the Republic was a galaxy spanning organisation who were at their most powerful – and their most prideful. The Jedi Order served as peacekeepers to the Republic yet they were also an autonomous agency with near limitless resources and the ability to pursue their own agenda should the need arise.

Within the bounds of the Jedi code and Republic law of course.

For all of its assumptions of superiority, the Republic’s inner workings were snarled with infighting, territorial disputes, power grabs and jealousy exacerbated by special interests groups pushing their own agendas. Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, the Jedi Order – so supremely confident in their powers and the extent of their reach – completely failed to uncover a plot by a single Sith to not only defeat them with their own army but seize complete control of the galaxy in the process. I think Luke sums it up rather well:

‘…at the height of their power, the Jedi allowed a Sith Lord to take over the Republic and turn it into an Empire.  That’s their legacy.  Hubris.’

Their arrogance was their undoing. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that leads to the dark side?

The Jedi Order, at it’s most powerful were at their weakest and the reason is really quite obvious.

Why on Earth would Luke – or any other Jedi – want to recreate that order, using the same teachings, with the same totally binary view of the force – the light vs the dark.

And I’m pretty sure that only a Sith deals in absolutes. I mean, I’m just throwing it out there.

The greatest teacher, failure is…

When you stop and think – and not even that hard – The Last Jedi is about balance.

The extremes of the Republic and First Order leave an incredibly large grey area for profiteering weapons dealer types to make oh so very much hay out of both sides.

Engineering increasingly more destructive weapons of war (heavy AT AT walkers or the comically named battering ram cannon anyone?) causing escalation and more fighting.

Which is exactly what happened in the Clone Wars. The pattern is repeating only each time the level of destruction increases and balance disappears.

In the absence of balance does Chaos reign.

This has never been more true when the same thinking is applied to the Force. When Rey stretches is out with her feelings everything in nature is balanced.

Luke says as much himself – On Ahch-to, in line with the source of light there is a source of great darkness. Balance.

Significantly Rey is drawn to both.

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And here is in lies the big reveal – the galaxy doesn’t need Luke Skywalker. As painful that is to accept, it is true – whether you agree with the ending of the movie or not.

At first I resisted the idea that Luke was redundant. I wanted him to fight but this Obi-wan quote from Star Wars Rebels sums it up rather elegantly:

‘If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess…then you have nothing.’

…then you have nothing.

The galaxy has as little need for Luke and the old ways of the Jedi as it does broken governments.

A single Jedi cannot halt the advance of a galactic power and to believe different is that hubris we spoke of earlier. The call back to later line later in the film is brilliant and emphasises how absurd we all are for naturally assuming Luke could single-handedly save the galaxy.

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The Jedi cannot be rebuilt as they were because an absolute good only gives rise to an absolute evil and they are compelled to destroy each other.

Even as peacekeepers Jedi were often punitive in their rulings because their definition of fairness didn’t come from a place of balance, it came from a place of righteousness that no other being could hope to meet.

In many ways fighting the Clone Wars revealed the Jedi for what they had become – a self-righteous instrument of judgement. They weren’t soldiers, nor did they have any experience in large-scale warfare and yet they led the armies because they believed they were the superior choice…than the soldiers genetically engineered for that exact role.

But on a deeper level they were the light clashing against the dark. Jedi history is littered with bloody conflicts be it against the Sith, the Mandalorians or anyone else. Their righteousness in the light side drives them to conflict just as the dark side does the Sith.

Instead the Jedi need to occupy a place of balance. That middle ground – neither light nor dark – but fair…balanced. Truly just and therefore truly just if they take action.

Equally the people they serve need to find a new path away from the Republic and the First Order. Neither system works because there is no balance.

Ironically both systems benefit a tiny minority just through different methods. Something to do with power and corruption. But when systems exist to consolidate power and eliminate balance the effect is always the same.

Again, this is being echoed in chambers of government around the world right now.

In the absence of balance, the people in charge become only concerned with staying in charge because their way is the right way.

And there’s those absolutes again.

We are what they grow beyond…

The Last Jedi is brilliant becomes it turns everything we have accepted about the Star Wars universe on its head and it’s incredibly uncomfortable. So much so that some consider it to be the worst Star Wars film of the bunch.

Until I gave it some thought I would have agreed. I actually think it’s one the best. And not because of all the torch passing bollocks that most critics have spouted on about – of course new characters are picking up where the old ones left off.

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There was a transition between Episode 3 and Episode 4 so why did we expect this trilogy to be any different? We’re only grumpy because we wanted more of the same. The reality is had Star Wars been made today, with today’s budgets and special effects, it would have been a TV show and it would have blown people’s minds.

The Last Jedi is brilliant because it really is a Star Wars movie for Star Wars fans. Not fans of specific bits of Star Wars. The Force Awakens by comparison is a busted, plot holed homage to the originals in an effort to apologise for the prequels. An apology that no one needed. Apart from Jar Jar.

I originally thought that Johnson was the fan boy making the movie he always wanted. Now I think it may have been the other way round.

The Last Jedi owns the sins of the Force Awakens – like why did Han and Luke both bugger off when Kylo goes bad. Until the Last Jedi that goes painfully unexplained.

It also brings everything together. It gives the three acts of the story cohesion made all the richer if you’ve watched The Clone Wars and Rebels programmes as well.

It also directly challenges the notion that every problem can be solved by ‘jumping in a cockpit and blowing something up’. Again it’s an uncomfortable thought because the word Wars is in the title and X-wings are awesome.

But the point is that although there will be battles, the war won’t end at the end of a gun.

Mordheim – Building a Warband in a Round Base World

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The chaps – including a few new members – and I have started yet another Mordheim campaign.

In our particular world this is nothing new. We love Mordheim. Like love love.

We also have two or three warbands each so it’s merely just a case of dusting off whichever one tickles our fancy and off we go.

However we have 3 new members to the group, none of whom have played before let alone got warbands.

So what are they to do in a time when the kind of models they need are either in short supply, are no longer available or come on the wrong kind of bases. And by wrong I mean round.

And by round I mean wrong.

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I’ve heard a lot of arguments in favour of round bases in Warhammer. The argument largely holds up only because of how  Warhammer now works. To play Fantasy sized games in the Age of Sigmar, on round bases, would be a fucking nightmare.

So, if Age of Sigmar works fine with round bases, does it matter if you use them for Mordheim as well.

I would argue yes and here’s why.

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Mordheim is an incredibly well balanced game. The starting warbands, for all their differences are more or less evenly matched – this is very hard to achieve.

It’s also what makes the game so fun when the stat increases and the skills start rolling in. A single point of weapon skill or strength over your opponent early on in the campaign really upsets the plague cart.

This balance extends – whether it’s been intended or not – to the bases too.

Thanks to the majesty of right angles it’s possible for for 8 models to surround a single model. Depending on the models involved and how far along in the campaign you are, this ability is fairly decisive.

Round bases and square bases just don’t mix. They either hamper your warband’s ability to get into combat or prevent as many models from attacking them.

Sure, if you’re the one with round bases then why should you care. Fewer models attacking you is a good thing, right?

Strictly speaking, yes but there’s also a question of fairness. Mixed base shapes will, inevitably cause problems.

Gameplay

In the closed in streets of a Mordheim space is ever at a premium. Whereas some could see the wider round bases (and the varying sizes round base models now come on) as an advantage to clog up the streets, that’s hardly in the spirit of the game.

Plus that particular annoyance flows both ways.

Especially as the game is all about getting stuck in with as many models as possible. It’s not a game of Mordheim without a really big, really messy scrap going on somewhere.

Square bases are neater. I’m the first to admit that the poses of some models make base to base contact…problematic but this is a minor issue compared to a base shape that limits base contact when movement and model placement is one of the most nuanced and therefore important rules in the game.

Models mounted on larger square bases shift the balance by limiting the number of models that can charge them and, equally give them a wider frontage to charge multiple models should they so choose.

The problem with round bases is that models that would normally be mounted on a 20mm square base end up on a 25 mm round base, affording them this game altering advantage.

Were this on one or two models – such as a captain and a champion – it perhaps wouldn’t matter. But when it’s across an entire warband it can actually be a game changer.

Things get really sticky when those bases jump to 30mm and above as is often the case with modern character models in Age of Smegmar*.

*yes, it was deliberate

Collecting a Warband

So if round bases aren’t an option what’s a Mordheim novice to do when collecting a warband when increasingly square bases are becoming a thing of the past?

You can, of course, try to pick up an original Mordheim warband on eBay. Personally I wouldn’t for 3 reasons.

  1. They are absurdly expensive. Some warbands – especially Carnival of Chaos – go for insane money. Resist the urge to have a piece of Games Workshop history. They don’t give a shit so neither should you.
  2. The models have broadly speaking dated very poorly. There are much nicer models out there for a lot less money.
  3. They aren’t scaleable. If you’re playing a campaign your warband won’t stay its starting size for long. After two games my Lahmian warband has grown by 5 models.
    Relying on out of production models doesn’t work.

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Fortunately there a couple of options.

Option 1 – Source your warband from the Age of Sigmar Range

Thanks to a confused and – quite frankly – bungled initial release there are still a fair few models out that can be used for Mordheim with little or no conversion. However as the game becomes more established and the writers flesh out the Age of Sigmar world, these will start to disappear.

Some Age of Sigmar regiments and single miniatures come with a square base still. Especially those that were sculpted with a plastic scenic base as part of the model. They are ideal but will eventually be superseded.

If the Kharadron Overlords and the Idoneth Deepkin are anything to go by, what replaces them will be fairly unrecognisable. That’s not a complaint but a mere statement of fact.

The good news on that front is it gives you the opportunity to plump for some really refreshing hired sword models for you campaigns. Again, considering the inflated prices on eBay you may as well go for something totally new.

Assuming you’re able to gather together the models you want then it’s just a case of finding some square bases. Fortunately there’s still a few companies out there who stock some amazing scenic bases. Better still you can get enough to deck out your entire warband for only a few pounds.

I can personally recommend Tiny Worlds. I’ve reviewed their products in the past and can speak to their quality and their customer service. But others like Daemonscape also produce some nice bases.

Option 2 – Mix and match

This is my preferred method and one I’ve used for the last 3 warbands I’ve created.

Companies like Freebooter Miniatures produce some awesome metal models, all mounted on scenic square bases as standard and because Freebooter’s Fate uses named characters they are all individual sculpts. This is awesome for sourcing your character models.

In fact at Salute I bought a chunk of the Brotherhood range to replace the hodge podge of old GW models I had used for my Lahmians. They weren’t telling the story I wanted to convey well enough. It was great on paper but on the board they looked messy.

The rebooted Lahmians have a darker story and a unifying look centred around an ostentatious and beautiful Lahmian vampire that will look deliberately out of place.

I even replaced the Henchmen models with Brotherhood models. Scaleability is a slight concern but there are enough models across the entire Freebooter Miniatures range that I can make it work easily enough.

Just two of the new models I purchased from Freebooter to serve as the Beloved and a Thrall respectively.

The only downside is it’s a fairly expensive way of collecting a warband but – in my opinion worth it (a) for a really unique looking warband and (b) a model range that is supported and not going anywhere.

Plus when you consider buying up entire regiments of GW models to only use one or two, it becomes entirely reasonable.

Fortunately we operate in a saturated market place so there are plenty of fantasy games that can easily proxy for Mordheim miniatures – such as Frostrgrave and Avatars of War.

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The Frostgrave models aren’t GW standard but neither are you paying GW money. As henchmen they’re perfectly serviceable and (you guessed it) scalable.

Again sometimes this will mean paying slightly over the odds for a single miniature but I do believe it’s worth it to get a warband that’s unique to look at and fun to play with. After all the reason why armies Warhammer and 40k look amazing is because of the sense of uniformity, punctuated by cool characters.

Mordheim warbands work because of the subtle uniformity underpinning a group of individual models.

Where you may struggle is with GW specific creations such as Skaven. For the time being Skaven are staying as is so, beyond a base swap, you should be fairly safe buying those.

Taking to the Streets

Any hobby project is a deeply personal thing. If you’re investing time and money into something you need to love it.

It’s for this reason that so many of us start armies, lose interest and sell them on. In some cases it’s because we can’t be fecked but in the majority of cases it’s because we don’t love the army enough to continue.

I painted a battle company in 3 weeks and a Imperial Knight household in 6. I did this because I loved the armies I’m collecting. My Death Guard will be fully done by November for the next trip to Warhammer World for the same reason.

It’s really important to choose the right models for your warband that allows you to get the most of the game both mechanically and aesthetically.

Most arguments I hear against this are usually born from inconvenience. We’re wargamers! Everything we do is an inconvenience.

We build fiddly models with noxious glues, then spending hour upon back breaking hour to painting them to then spend hour upon hour stood around a table, ending the night with sore knees to go with our sore backs. It sounds pretty damned inconvenient.

But we do it because we love it.

Mordheim isn one of the best games I’ve played in my almost 30 years of wargaming and still one of the best rule sets out of the dozens I’ve reviewed over the years.

Give it some love.

 

Warhammer 40,000 – Coping with Change

So most of us have had 8th edition for a little while now and have likely invested in an Index or two.

Aside from ditching the 3rd edition mechanic almost entirely which has served as a rebirth for a number of weapons and tactics,  there has been a conscious effort to redress the balance for certain armies. Armies that, no matter how hard the design studio tried, were consistently mugged off by every codex that came out for them.

The main victims were the Imperial Guard, Tyranids and Orks who for years never quite lived up to the potential, despite a consistent top up of new and groovy models. Arguably Eldar and Dark Eldar occupied the other slots in the ‘Top 5 Most Mugged Off Armies’ chart but they are less of a focus.

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Speed

One of the biggest changes from 7th to 8th edition was reintroducing different move rates. Back in 1998 I actually really liked the change because it made things simpler and made the game feel faster.

Back then it probably did play faster too but as the years and the editions wore on more and more special rules had to be introduced to cope with the dizzying array of faster units, including flyers the game introduced.

It became clumsy, awkward and completely deballed the argument for having flat movement values in the first place. So they’ve gone.

This is extremely good news for Eldar armies but it’s utterly terrifying for another fighting Tyranids. Because by the Emperor’s shrivelled nut sack are they quick.

Whilst the majority may shrug because they should be, it blows all army compositions and battle plans that rely on gun lines clear out of the water. Some units under 8th edition can more or less assault on turn 1. That’s 2nd edition levels of crazy and I love it.

This is the 41st Millennium after all where either insanely advanced tech, unholy powers of the Immaterium or super fast, super agile alien life forms exist. Of course shit should move that fast.

Those who relied on whittling down enemy units with shooting and then weathering the inevitable assault with superior stats need to think again because you no longer have that kind of time.

For Guard players the change in movement coupled with the move towards treating vehicles like infantry has turned the Leman Russ variants into hilarious and incredibly hard to kill, fast-moving flanking units as opposed to the armoured pill boxes of yesteryear.

Survival

As if blinding speed wasn’t bad enough, the flimsy base units aren’t so flimsy any more. With the change of AP from a value weapons can ignore to a modifier – ala 2nd Edition – Imperial Guard, Hormagaunts and Ork Boys all get a save against most basic weapons.

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This is a major change because up to now mobs of Orks could be culled with almost impunity by Space Marines unless the Ork players coughed up for the ‘Ard Boy upgrade. Which, again, completely undermined a big advantage for fielding Orks: numbers.

The same was true for Imperial Guard. Take Grenadiers or storm troopers or be prepared for a very static game.

Whilst standing still and shooting (or attempting to) everything that moves is a tried and tested tactic of the Imperial Guard, it doesn’t take long for that way of playing to get old.

With how modifiers work: Tyranids, Orks and Imperial Guard become a lot more dynamic. Of course leapfrogging form one building to another will still keep your blokes alive for longer because of the +1 to armour save, but they now stand a fighting chance when they’re forced to run across open ground too.

It’s hard to say who benefits the more from this as all of the flimsier armies benefits. The only armies who don’t are the Space Marine derived. But on the upside they get a more gripping game.

Power

In 8th edition a lot of things got a lot more power from units to weapons.

The move to flat rolls over tables means that Orks, who have suffered for years with a statline that never really reflected the sheer brutality of the army, are now horrendous.

Broadly speaking 8th edition favours horde armies over any other but Tyranids and Orks definitely come out on top.

The durability when combined with higher to hit and wound rolls have turned the lowly Ork boy in to a combat monster. Whilst I’m of the opinion this is a positive and needed to happen, a lot of gamers are about to get smacked around by opponents that historically posed no real threat.

Orks are now fucking mental.

Anyone who read my review of the core rules will start to see that the apple cart his so much been upset as been shelled from space.

But it goes further than that. Guard’s traditional utter mediocrity is no completely offset by the fact that everything can wound everything.

Whilst you’re unlikely to lose a Land Raider to concentrated lasgun fire, it is now possible.

But for the Imperial Guard it isn’t just the fact that infantry units are now incredibly worthwhile, it’s the sheer variety of special and heavy weapons you can cram into the army.

For example Plasma weapons have always been handy but now they are more or less the go to ‘everything killer’. Although there are more powerful weapons out there, point for point – especially as the plasma gun is as destructive as a plasma cannon – they can tackle most things.

A plasma gun and a plasma pistol in every squad and suddenly you have units that can overwhelm small elite units and chip away at medium and light tanks with ease.

Brace, Brace, Brace!

Whilst Space Marines make out okay in 8th edition, not least because of the addition of Primaris marines, it’s the horde armies that are the ones to watch. Especially with the introduction of power levels.

Asymmetric gaming overwhelmingly benefits horde armies simply because they get the most pop for their points. If you’re using the Open War deck (which everyone should because it’s awesome) then you can be in for some really fun and very messy games.

Of course the real prize-fight will be seeing one horde army face off against another. Especially Orks vs Tyranids. Speed and aggression vs savagery and unrelenting toughness.

 

Warhammer 40k 8th Edition – A Review

The time is upon us. The moment when I wade in on arguably the biggest game release of the year.

I’ll be honest, I’m not known for being a shrinking violet when it comes to my opinions but on this occasion I wanted to take my time to form an opinion on what is essentially a totally new game.

For those new to the Warhammer 40,000 Universe – either you started playing 7th edition in its twilight months or 8th edition is your first foray in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium – you may not see what all the fuss is about, but fuss there is. And lots of it.

The fuss comes in the form of both new rules and new background. It’s a fuss because Games Workshop aren’t really known for moving things forward. Although since Age of Sigmar all bets were firmly off.

But why should they? They’ve spent 30+ years cultivating an incredibly rich background with 10,000 years of history they can draw on whenever they feel like it. Change is unnecessary, messy, often complicated and can upset the proverbial apple cart.

But change it they have and they apples, they be everywhere.

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The Background

If you’ve read the Gathering Storm supplements for 7th edition much of what’s discussed in the book won’t come as a big surprise. For those that haven’t, I strongly recommend making the purchase. It’s quite a big investment especially as half the books are effectively useless, but it really helps to bring the 8th edition 40k Universe to life.

For reasons I can’t go into, I knew about a lot of the background changes that were coming as far back as the release of 6th edition. They’ve been on the drawing board that long.

It’s changed a bit since then because frankly what they proposed then would have upset way too many gamers (especially Blood Angel players) but the core of it is still the same.

So in the new 40k universe everything is basically stuffed. The galaxy has been ripped in two and the Imperium to the galactic North of the rent is blind to the guiding light of the Astronomican. This not only makes for some very interesting games but some incredible plot developments along the way too.

Not to mention the Black Library novels that are no doubt being penned furiously by Messrs Thorpe, Abnett, Wraight, Kyme et al.

Roboute Guilliman is running the Imperium in his father’s stead and has introduced a shattered Imperium to the Primaris Space Marines – the secret experiment to end all secret experiments.

The superist of super soldiers.

The badassest of badasses.

The tits, basically.

I’m not going to review the Primaris models here because the review would simply be too vast but suffice to say, they’re mental.

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A lot of gamers, this one included, are slightly concerned that this is a subtle precursor to Games Workshop phasing out the current Space Marine range in favour of something a little truer to scale. However, there are little tidbits in the background that hint at the existence of the Primaris so perhaps it’s not all doom and gloom on that front.

Although we have bugger all say what Games Workshop do so there’s no point in worrying about it.

The other cool thing about the new background is the opportunities it presents for gamers to create some fantastic gaming boards. Historically fighting on demon worlds was limited to Chaos and Grey Knights or underpinned by the flimsiest of justification.

Thanks to the massive tear in the fabric of reality, the baleful influence of the warp is slowly infecting worlds nearby. That means games can be played on worlds that are twisted shadows of their former selves. From a hobby standpoint this is very exciting.

As one would expect from Games Workshop these days, the book is beautifully turned out and the background is realised with a host of artworks both old and new. Some of the classic artwork is a nice touch to make us old buggers feel loved.

There’s a marked improvement in the quality of the writing compared to some of the recent codices too. There’s flailing at gravitas and a lot more focus on getting the material to resonate. It’s not perfect though and all the new stuff is pretty clunky and a bit confused.

Much like Age of Sigmar and other games before it, it doesn’t really know what it is yet. Whilst I can understand the concrete being a little soft on this particular foundation I don’t excuse it.

The Gathering Storm did an awful lot of heavy lifting and if the writers couldn’t get the Primaris to set right in the background they should have:

a) tried harder
b) not bothered
c) put Robin Cruddace back in his box and let someone else take a swing.

Personal vendettas aside, overall the background still feels like the Grim Dark we all know and love but realistically we’re not going to really know where these changes are heading until 9th edition.

The Rules

One of the reasons this review took me a while to publish is because I needed to get a few games under my belt to form an accurate opinion.

This isn’t like the previous editions where it’s essentially the same game with a few tweaks, juicing the psychic phase or throwing in flyers.

This was a whole new beast and it wasn’t until I played the first game a couple of days after getting the boxset that I cottoned on to that fact.

Unlearn What You Have Learned

I’ve been playing 40k a long time. Since the twilight moments of Rogue Trader to be exact, some 27 years ago. I mention this because I’ve been playing what is essentially the third edition mechanic (with the aforementioned tweaks) since 1998.

Almost twenty years of everything moves 6 inches and even longer of using tables (although I had them all memorised) to determine what I needed to hit and what I needed to wound.

All that has gone. Along with most of the other rules.

Warhammer 40,000 has undergone the wargaming equivalent of liposuction and bitch be looking skinny.

The rules are, essentially a pamphlet.

Everything has been streamlined to such an extent that, as a veteran gamer, I found the first few games genuinely uncomfortable. My first game against Lee lasted hours because we kept checking the book because we couldn’t get used to the absence of rules.

Deep Striking for example is now just a thing you can do as opposed to gut wrenching, anxiety inducing test or nerve and dice rolling prowess it once was. Whilst simple and much quicker, I kind of miss the peril.

And that really is the issue with 8th edition.

At its core the mechanic is brilliant. Games play is slick and fast. The new tables make dice rolling simpler and making vehicles effectively behave like infantry cuts out a lot of wanky nonsensical rules that both crippled rate of play and frustrate gamers.

But despite all that, it’s lost a little bit of its charm.

I’m sure it’ll come back as the Codices are released and special rules are inevitably reintroduced, but in Games Workshop’s efforts to make a game that pleases both narrative and tournament gamers, the rules that made it 40k have fallen by the way side.

That said, broadly the changes are positive.

The most positive being variable movements are back! No longer are fast armies limited by magical powers, strong winds or name calling by their opponents.

Units are once again as fast as they always should have been. It’s also made the game far more strategic and far harder for armies that use to just sit back and shoot.

Tau players especially are in for a very rocky ride against the likes or Orks and Tyranids

Speed Rolling

The tables to determine hit and wounds rolls are gone and I couldn’t be happier. The design studio had been tinkering with them for years to try and make them work with the burgeoning array of units and weapons in an effort to make them all unique whilst keeping the game balanced.

Depending on who you talk to, they never really got it right and I was constantly irritated by having weapons becoming more or less reliable with each iteration.

Now stats are a dice roll: 2+, 3+ 4+ etc. Simple as that. It’s such an agonisingly obvious approach I’m kind of amazed that it took them (and us) 30 years to figure it out.

It redefines the playing field as 2+ in combat is back making certain units and characters absolutely terrifying.

New-40k-Infantry-TableSimilarly wounding is now determined by a simple comparison (see right). And that’s it.

You may notice that it is also possible to wound everything. And I mean everything. A Lagun toting Guardsman can now wound a Titan. The truest of true facts.

This is made possible by the other major change – vehicles are treated exactly the same as units in so far as they have a toughness and wounds.

But it gets an armour save. As do most things against basic weapons now because save modifiers have returned. Although it slows play slightly because it effectively increases the number of dice rolls in the game, it’s a good thing because it increase the number of dice rolls in a the game.

Plus it has the added benefit of being much fairer. It gives units that thematically can shrug of major damage a chance to do so, rather than being turned to so much fine mist.

All these changes aren’t to everyone’s taste, it makes total sense and shrewdly pleases both narrative and tournament gamers.

How it does this is simple:

Tournament gamers like fast games with the minimum of cocking about flicking through rules. 7th edition was not that game. 8th edition, with this new mechanic means that rule flick is kept to an absolute minimum. Tournament gamers around the world must be positively dancing around their parent’s basement with glee.

Narrative gamers on the other hand get to re-enact all the heroic shenanigans from their favourite Black Library novels. The heroic Guardsman spotting a weak point in the Titan’s armour and squeezing off one last shot before his certain demise, only for the Titan to explode before his stunned eyes.

It reflects the simple fact that if you through enough firepower at something it will eventually die. A lucky shot through a vision slit, damage to minor systems that cause a cascade reaction…

Whatever it may be, it makes for some pretty interesting games.

Whilst not everyone is a fan of the change, personally I like it. It’s made vehicles more vulnerable but harder to kill. Gone are the days of having your much-loved Dreadnoughts glanced to death.

The other

Lean and Mean

Amongst the wallowing, bloated frame of 7th Edition was rules that I could never get to grips with. I suspect because the studio struggled to make them balanced amidst the 20 or so armies vying for an edge in a 30-year-old mechanic.

Principal amongst these were the assault phase and the morale.

Now whilst this may make sound like a simpleton, bear with me and hear me out.

The assault phase had become, over the years, more complicated especially when it come to resolving the combat because it bucked the system completely.

Initiative meant that no matter how well executed your strategy was, if you were low initiative you were going to struggle in combat. Even if you were a close combat focused army. Which was mental.

Then when it came to figuring out who won, it didn’t follow the standard ‘test to bugger off’ method of old.

Similarly with morale checks, if something failed a morale test you had to role to see if it ran off, but depending on the unit type it rolled different dice. Unless it had a special rule, then it didn’t. Or it did but you could re-roll. Or it didn’t give a toss and stood there smirking at you because…reasons. Or science. Or magic. Or magical science. Take your pick.

Now the assault phase works as one would expect. You run up to someone, punch them really really hard in the face, they fall down. Whoever is left tries to do the same to you. Simple as that. Initiative has fucked right off and with it the prayers of Ork players have been answered. Who have become one of the most lethal armies in the game.

Morale checks as we knew them are gone and it’s a genuine game changer. Units no longer run away. Really thing about that. How many times have we hinged a strategy or an entire win on an enemy unit failing a morale test and legging it?

Now a simple test whenever you suffer capitulates (no more 25% business) determines if you lose any more models, either because they’re succumbed to their wounds or simply lost their nerve and abandoned the rest of the unit.

This rule is awesome because it gives low leadership armies a fighting chance, it’s far more thematic (and realistic) and allows things like And They Shall Know No Fear and Commissars to serve a real and decisive purpose.

It also means that perseverance, chipping away at heavy infantry and the like, will be rewarded.

And now for the But

It’s not a terribly big but – liposuction will do that to you: it’s not quite the lean mean Grim Darkness machine Games Workshop would have us think.

Although there is a lot to be pleased about – not least of which being split fire making a triumphant return – but there are, much like an op gone a bit wrong, complications.

For one thing, the rules aren’t terribly well written and hopelessly laid out in places so even though there’s less to learn you’ll spend ages trying to find specific rules.

You’ll find it an age later written in greyish text in a grey box on a grey background, tucked off to the side in a grey border. Only to find the explanation is vague to the point of retarded.

It’s deeply irritating and alarmingly reminiscent of the crap Spartan Games used to pull.

Now admittedly, this comes back to unlearning what I have learned. I’m used to things being far more complicated (and well written) than they now are. But I’m also used to properly structured sentences and games designers who have a fucking clue what they’re on about.

For all the posturing and bottom wiggling by 8th edition about how lithe and sinuous it now is, the reality is it has just palmed all the cakes (and extracted fat) on to its once slimmer siblings: the Codices.

You army book is now the conveyor of all your army’s special rules.

On the upside the debate of the need for Codices is well and truly over. With the rules so utterly stripped back, each Codex is now the sole repository for what all the special rules and the various ‘keywords’ do.

Except it doesn’t really explain them all that well. The new and very cluttered layout of the unit profiles means that I forget to use my special rules/keywords more now than I ever did with 7th edition.

The keywords – aside from a stupid name – are supposed to act as categorisations.

So anything with the Fly keyword is subject to the flying rules. However, whereas in the past the rule book provided you with an explanation, each unit has its own explanation including how fast it can move and how many turns it can make.

Again, it’s just a very different way of doing things but its inelegant and makes having keywords arbitrary becomes no two definitions are the same.

Admittedly this is likely a transition thing for someone too stuck in their ways but there is no getting away from the fact that feels fairly unnecessary and is as annoying to remember as all those wanky special rules on the reverse of the Dystopian Wars data cards.

However…

For all the things that bug me about 8th edition, I know they are largely because I’m still getting to gripes with it. It takes a lot to forget 20 years of rules and replace them with something that is, at its core, a totally different game.

Whilst in isolation the rules seem a bit sterile the game is still very good and the thought of Apocalypse games no longer fill me with a sense of dread.

The biggest change is anchoring the rules in both the core book and the Codices. Doing away with the compendium of special rules is huge so gamers can expect to rely on their codex more and more once they’ve got the core rules nailed.

Anyone on the fence about 8th edition shouldn’t be. Whilst Games Workshop seems a bit scatter brained at the moment they’re getting use to things the same as we are. Which is a very weird place for us all to find ourselves.

Why I’m Keeping My Old Codices

Tomorrow poor Mister Postie will be lugging an awful lot of very heavy boxes to the front doors of a lot very over excited geeks.

I am, of course, referring to the release of the much-anticipated and much debated 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000.

In addition to crippling postal workers across the globe (Dark Imperium weighs a stonking 2.5kg), the new edition of 40k is about to change the game and the background in some very dramatic ways.

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Anyone who follows the Warhammer Community page on the Facebooks will no doubt have seen the rule changes, the new – erection inducing – Primaris Space Marines and the galaxy map showing how royally fucked the Imperium is.

In the same way that Age of Sigmar rewrote (read erased) the Warhammer Fantasy universe, 8th edition Warhammer 40,000 is about to do something similar to the canon we know and love.

For new gamers this is no big deal. Total novices will enter Warhammer 40,000 with the galaxy already looking like someone spilt ink on a picture from Hubble. Or they’re new enough that the universe doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to more experienced gamers.

For us venerable old war dogs who have invested countless hours learning about the background – and 7 previous rule sets – we’re about to feel more like old dogs given new tricks.

That’s not to the say that the changes aren’t exciting (I actually knew about a lot of this for some time but more on that another day). I’m really pleased that the story is finally moving on and the freedom that can bring for narrative game play as well as future novels.

However, the background that I’ve spent the last 28 years learning is amazing and really rather precious to me so it seems a shame to cast out my old codices and supplements just because the rules aren’t relevant any more.

For me the background serves as a prologue for everything that comes next. Games Workshop have already stated that the previous books are still relevant from a background perspective.

The Gathering Storm books are especially worth hanging on to as they detail a lot of what’s referenced in the new book. Reading those before diving into the new edition will no doubt answer a lot of questions for the veterans gamers taking the leap from 7th to 8th.

I’m a little late to that party if I’m honest so let’s just acknowledge the fact that I turned up at all.

But there’s a few really simple reasons why the old codices and other books are worth keeping:

The Background is (in most cases) Really Good

The background has always been what made 40k and so walking away from that just seems crazy to me.

Change is good (you may as well embrace it because you’ve got no choice) but so is the journey so keeping a record is well worth it.

They give 8th Edition Context

The old source materials – particularly books like The Wrath of Magnus of the Gathering Storm trilogy – help to ground the new fluff so being able to refer back to that will be helpful.

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Plus according to a few sources there’s some easter eggs in the background that allude to all the mental shit that goes down. Finding them is proper nerdy fun.

The Books were Expensive

Let’s not kid ourselves, the rules, codices and supplements represent a significant investment.

I don’t begrudge that investment because a codex, per use, works out as one of the best value books you can own but that doesn’t mean you should just bin them every 5 years.

7th Edition isn’t Dead

As far as I can tell, the Horus Heresy will still be using the 7th Edition mechanic so there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t throw in some Orks or Eldar into your HH games.

We know the Imperium tussles with the other races of the galaxy before everything goes tits. To be honest, I’d love to see some games along those lines but I appreciate it would rather dilute the concept.

 

I cannot wait for my copy of 8th edition, or for the new Indexes or the new models. I’m excited to see where this is all headed and how many Primarchs will be returning to the fold.

But I’m also going to be looking back and marvelling at how far it’s all come and just how much fun it was getting there.

Why You Should Set Deadlines

Anyone who follows me on Twitter would have seen pictures going up of my House Terryn Imperial Knights army as it slowly progressed to completion.

Some of The Chaps and I were heading up to Warhammer World at the start of May and I wanted to take a fully painted army with me.

Something of an encore to getting the 5th Company of my Ultramarines done the year before.

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However, having learned my lesson from last year, I gave myself a little longer than 6 weeks to paint a 3,000 point army. This is old 7th edition points you understand. Fuck knows what the armies will cost out now.

This time round, having already decided back in January to make a return pilgrimage to Warhammer World, I gave myself 12 weeks.

12 weeks to build and paint 7 (because one was already painted) Imperial Knights ready for May.

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If I’m honest, I barely finished in time.

But the point is this: setting deadlines focuses your mind.

Don’t Stagnate

I’ve been doing the hobby a very long time and in that time I have collected, for Warhammer 40,000 alone (in no particular order):

  • Dark Angels
  • Eldar (thrice)
  • Space Wolves
  • Tyranids (twice)
  • Chaos Space Marines (twice)
  • Necrons
  • Imperial Guard Armoured Company
  • Imperial Guard Deathworld Veterans
  • Tau (twice)
  • Grey Knights (sort of)
  • Orks
  • Ultramarines (1st & 5th)
  • Imperial Knights
  • Deathwatch
  • Dark Eldar (new project)

Of that list none but the Ultramarines, Knights, Deathwatch and Dark Eldar survived. The latter three are all new in fairness so hardly count.

The other armies, however, were all sold or given away as the projects ground to a halt either because I didn’t like the way they played or I just lost momentum with collecting the army.

That is a lot of abandoned projects. Although one or two were sold because I was flat broke and it was that or starve.

But I did what a lot of gamers do: buy too much, too quickly and then not paint any of it. Eventually the prospect of painting that much grey would become overwhelming and then my head would be turned by the latest army and that would be that.

So what changed?

In short…nothing.

I still get new army syndrome like I did what I was a kid.

I still buy too much, too quickly. You just need to ask The Chaps to verify that one.

But now I’m setting myself targets. Last year I gave myself 6 weeks to paint an army.

This year I gave myself 12 weeks to paint an army.

Starting mid June, having taken a couple of months off to defrazzle my brain, I’m planning to paint my Dark Eldar by November for the next Black Library event. So that’s around 24 weeks.

Why so long?

The reasons are very simple:

  1. Setting reasonable deadlines keeps you focused but avoids burnout
  2. It allows you to plan your project and allow time for doing cool stuff like bases
  3. It accommodates having a life outside of the hobby
  4. It allows for time off to do something else of any evening
  5. You don’t rush

Whilst, all are important, the last two points are really important. Painting a battle company in 6 weeks is hard. The churn was roughly a 10 man (Marine) squad every 3.5 days from undercoat to done. Obviously there were some tanks in there as well but that was the average.

It meant no time off and no doing anything else. I was writing a novel that I had to put on hold because I simple couldn’t do both.

Each Knight averaged 12 days which included building, painting (including hand painting the heraldry from the Codex) and building scenic bases. The reality was slightly less but the real life regularly encroached.

And that’s why you need to give yourself 5-6 months to paint an army. Because it’s allows for you to power up the Xbox one evening or actually leave the house.

It allows you to go to bed at a reasonable hour or not feel guilty because you turned the desk lamp off at 11 rather than when your eyes start to sting.

Most importantly it stops the hobby from feeling like a chore.

Setting deadlines absolutely works. Probably because we’re all used to working to them in our day jobs. Regardless, it gives you the motivation you need to progress your armies at a steady pace, seeing regular improvements – which of itself spurs you on – and at the end you get to play with a fully painted army.

Who doesn’t want that?

Deathwatch: The Space Marine army we’ve all been waiting for

Followers on Twitter will know that I’ve started collecting Deathwatch.

It wasn’t entirely planned. When I picked up a copy of Deathwatch: Overkill it was to have a natty boxed game that could be whipped out of a games night and  to collect Genestealer Cultists.

The plan was to collect a small Deathwatch army afterwards to compliment my unnecessarily big Ultramarines army. Made more unnecessary by my Forge World purchases last year… #sorrynotsorry

Then I read the codex.

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For the novice or the oblivious, the Deathwatch are a dedicated chapter of alien hunters made up from all the other Space Marine chapters. Yes, all.

They deviate from standard Space Marines in a number of ways – how they’re recruited being the most notable. But more than that, they have specialist equipment that flies in the face of Adeptus Mechanicus doctrine which would be enough to brand them heretics in the eyes of many.

The amazing Corvus Blackstar and the highly effective Frag Cannon being just two examples of this particular brand of non-conformity.

They don’t follow the Codex Astartes in any meaningful way in so much as they don’t use Battle company formations and they’re squads not only have diverse armaments but they also attach members from other unit types to their standard Killteams to bolster their strength.

This lends them extra punch either at range or up close (or both) allowing you to make some very focussed, very powerful units. The other very that should go with that is expensive.

deathwatch-hor

It does, however, make them interesting.

Anyone who has read the multitude of Black Library novels about Space Marines (which is a lot of them) will no doubt have experienced a degree of disappointment over the comparative blandness of the models and rules to how they are portrayed in the books.

Depending on the chapter the novel is about, there’s all sorts of subtle armour variations, minor modifications and other distinguishing features that make the armies feel markedly different from their brothers that can’t always be reflected in the army.

Especially when the practicalities of model making dictate that the more generic a model the broader the commercial appeal. Obviously there are always exceptions to this – Blood Angels and Space Wolves most notably – but those ranges are justified through a significant divergence in game play and a large enough customer base to justify it.

But more than that, in the books the Space Marines are absolutely devastating.

Whilst Space Marine armies are hardly limp wristed in the fisticuffs department, they are also hugely watered down to allow for (a) Marine players to take more than a squad and (b) to give other players a chance.

A few years ago White Dwarf published, for bants presumably, the movie marine rules. Essentially a fairly tongue in cheek set of rules to demonstrate how tough a Space Marine should be in a game of 40k.

They started at 100 points a model, had multiple wounds, a 3+ invulnerable save with a re-roll and their profile had lots of 5s and 6s in it.

A bit of fun for some, an eye-rolling annoyance for those who feel Space Marines get too much of the attention already, it’s a reminder that Space Marines are absurdly tough. They were, after all, originally intended as a single squad ally for Imperial Guard armies. But Space Marines are cool and only an idiot wouldn’t want capitalise on that opportunity.

The Deathwatch provides the faithful marine nerd with the variety and customisation options we’ve all craved. The fact that the entire army is made up of Veterans gives the army that super elite, against all odds, feel. A base level model is an eye watering 22 points, plus upgrades.

codex_deathwatch_art_tau_battlesuits

Moreover the mixed squads of Killteams, terminators, vanguard veterans and characters fits really nicely with some of the more dramatic moments in the books. Especially where the fighting is at its most desperate and the heroes of the Imperium are moving through the lines to support where they’re needed most.

I had the opportunity to play a 1500 point game with a standard Codex Space Marines army. Whereas I took a fully kitted out army which, excluding the Corvus Blackstar and the Dreadnought, was made up of 25 models.

My opponent, on the other hand took a captain, 30 Tactical Marines, 10 scouts, 10 assault marines, 5 devastators, 5 terminators, a predator, a rhino and two dreadnoughts.

Whilst there were very few (almost no) upgrades in the army, that was still 61 infantry models and 4 models with armour values. Considering the average cost of my models were weighing in at 37 points a model, being out numbered over 2:1 was about right.

However, despite my early apprehension that I was going to get absolutely slaughtered, I actually went on to win the game by a very narrow margin. The butcher’s bill was high but considering how I thought it was going to go I was content that the tithes would replenish the losses in good order.

The formations, because who takes an army without formations these days, actively encourage you to take the Space Marine army of your boyhood dreams, complete with re-rolls to wound differing units types depending on the formation.

Throw in Killteam Cassius and an absurdly good Watch Master (who is mental for the points) and you have the hardened, individualistic, monsters of war I’ve certainly always imagined space marines to be.

Seeing that translated onto the board is really quite something. The Deathwatch look and feel like the super elite army many (if not all) of us have always imagined taking. The models are imposing and the load-outs diverse. The heavy thunder hammer is hilarious.

The rules make them a small but highly effective team when used correctly (and sparingly). But more than that, the additions of things like the Corvus and the Infernus Heavy Bolter also make them elite because no one gets to play with their toys. Much like Grey Knights.

The background is also rich, interesting and tells of a force relentlessly committed to the cause unto death. They are the hero’s hero. They are the bending, but unbreakable line that pushes back against the alien.

They are the Deathwatch.

Undercoating for Beginners

Whilst feverishly undercoating my Deathwatch army the other day two things struck me. The first was I was using a method taught to me by a bloke called Andy when I first began working for Games Workshop back in 2000.

The other was that occurred to me that not everyone necessarily knew how to properly undercoat their models.

As a couple of my friends are relatively new to the hobby and have only just begun painting their armies I thought it a good opportunity to pass on some long earned wisdom.

Whilst, arguably, there’s no right or wrong way to undercoat your models there is definitely prep and ‘best practise’ to help the unwary hobbyists along the way.

This guide is based around undercoating models black but the considerations are broadly the same whatever colour you’re using.

Step 1. Preparation

Be under no illusions, undercoating does not hide all sins. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Mould lines are far more prominent once the model has been undercoated than before so make sure you’ve been thorough when building your toys.

If mould lines don’t bother you chances are they will because they’re also a pain in the arse to paint over as well. Do yourself a favour, invest in some decent files and clean them off. It’s a couple of extra minutes per average size model and it’s well worth it.

Also be sure that any filings or other detritus is removed from the model. This can include dust if your models have been sat out for a while, or basing materials if they’ve been sat in a figure case or cabinet with a completed models.

If you’re spraying models that have been ‘dipped and stripped’ make sure that the stripping agent has been thoroughly washed off and the model is fully dry. Spray paint does not like oil and water. At all.

Step 2. Looking after your Spray

I use Games Workshop’s undercoat but I’ve also used Army Painter and I’ve found this to be true of all spray paint, regardless of colour: store your cans at room temperature.

Storing your spray paint in the garage or the shed will only spell doom and misery because the when the cans get cold the paint and propellant don’t mix properly which causes ‘chalking’ to occur on the models. It’s relatively easy to put right but (a) it’s a waste of paint (b) it’s a waste of time and (c) you’re a twat for doing it in the first place.

Step 3. Where to Spray

Personally, I couldn’t give two shits where you spray as long as you’re not vandalising someone else’s property or gassing yourself.

Spray paint is not good stuff to breathe in so make sure it’s a very well ventilated area.

As I rule I always spray outside, on top of a bin so I’m not having to crouch down. Granted this means that I can be at the mercy of the elements but better that than shaving days off my life by spraying in a poorly ventilated garage.

Step 4. How to Spray

This is where it gets a little subjective but personally I lay the models down and spray them in halves.

Make sure whatever you lay your models on is sturdy, easily movable and untreated. A cardboard mail order box is perfect. A product box lid isn’t ideal because the paint sits on the treated cardboard rather than being absorbed.

This can mean the paint can pool slightly underneath the model making them stick and can cause the box to tear when you lift the models clear. If you only have a box lid to use I recommend giving it a light spray to take the sheen off.

Lay as many models as you can on the box because any paint that isn’t going on a model is paint that’s being wasted. That said, make sure none of the models are touching otherwise the models will stick and you won’t get an even covering.

 

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As you can probably tell, this box is more paint than cardboard.

 

Before you start, shake the can well. Different brands mix at different rates. Army Painter spray has a bonkers amount of pigment in relation to propellant so whilst it doesn’t need as much shaking as GW’s, take the time anyway. The last thing you want is a bad mix.

By using short, controlled bursts in a sweeping action this allows for a smooth and even layer of paint on the model.

Rotate the box (hence using something a little substantial) so you can apply an even coat of paint to the front, top, bottom and sides of the model.

This is where placing your models on something reasonably high, is advantageous because you have more control over where the paint goes.

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When spraying make sure you keep the can a reasonable distance from the model. Most instructions will say eight inches, I’d say eight inches gives better coverage without compromising quality and detail.

Unfortunately, trial and error plays a part when learning to spray. You’ll quickly learn what’s too close and what constitutes a smooth sweeping action and what doesn’t…

4.1 Wobbly Models

The best and worst thing about modern models is they’re all dynamically posed marvels of sculpting genius.

It’s brilliant because the models are awesome, but it can make spraying models a tricky because they don’t have an even purchase when laid down.

Keep any model you think is likely to roll over once you start spraying towards the inside of the box. Give it some extra space so if it does roll over it won’t hit (and stick to) any other models.

Ultimately though, you’re better off positioning the model for stability as whilst you may not get brilliant coverage on the first coat, you will on the reverse side.

4.2 Leaving Your Models to Dry

Whether you’re letting them dry after the first spray or the second, where you leave you’re models is as important as where you choose to spray them.

If you’re spraying on a warm sunny day then leaving them outside is an obvious decision. However, summer days can bring with them dust, pollen and other airborne objects that can stick to the wet paint on your models.

If you do leave them outside to dry, make sure they’re shielded from the elements.

At the other end of the spectrum, leaving your models anywhere that’s cold and damp is likely to cause chalking as if the can was too cold. This again makes sheds and garages a less than ideal place.

A moderately insulated utility room works well and avoids pissing off wives, husbands, parents etc with the smell of the paint.

4.2 Finishing the Job

Once the paint is touch dry, flip the models and repeat the process.

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You won’t need to use as much paint on the reverse of the model so expect it to be finished in short order. Don’t worry about going over the sides of the model again. Providing you stick to short bursts all you’ll do is even up the coat and give you a smooth finish.

Give the models enough time to dry then you’re done.

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To Sand or Not to Sand

I’ve been asked by more than a few hobbyists over the years whether or not they should sand their models before they spray.

Both have their merits.

Spraying a model before sanding helps the glue take better and gives you greater versatility in how you paint it. Un-sprayed (if that’s a thing) sand can be inked/washed/shaded. Sprayed sand can’t.

The big advantage of spraying sand is that it seals it making it way more durable which is no bad thing. Just remember, you’ll have to paint the sand which can affect the finish. So whichever option you choose, stick to it.