Crusade of Fire

Games Workshop have unveiled a 96 page full colour campaign book entitled Crusade of Fire. Available to pre-order it does rather seem that they’re sticking with their ‘we don’t tell no-one, nuthin’ strategy because heaven for fend we should have a spare £25 to buy a copy.

Anyway, here’s some fluff and snaps…

Crusade of Fire is a campaign system for Warhammer 40,000 that enables you to join the campaign to control the Corvus Sub-sector. Whether you choose to join the Crusade of Fire itself, the foul Servants of Ruin or the bloodthirsty Prophets of War, the fate of the sub-sector lies in your hands. 

This 96-page, full-colour hardcover book features exclusive artwork and a host of dynamic new rules. As well as the campaign system itself, the book contains rules that can be used in any Warhammer 40,000 game, from massive multi-player scenarios fought in low-gravity environments or in bunkers deep below the ground, to expanded rules for Flyers. It also features rules for playing games in the gladiatorial arenas of Commorragh as well as for fighting battles on the surface of a Daemon World. 

Crusade of Fire also features the story of nine hobbyists as they play through the campaign, including detailed battle reports, fantastic army showcases and turn-by-turn accounts of their conquest.

Raptors/Warp Talons – A Review

The path to damnation moves on a pace with a review of the all new Raptors/Warp Talons box. There’s been a lot of excitement surrounding this kit, and rightly so, as it’s the first ever plastic Raptor kit finally making the unit financially viable. It’s also the first Raptor unit that doesn’t look shit.

Once again, as with all the other new Chaos models, you get two sprues for your £20.50 retail but credit where credit’s due; the Games Workshop did a remarkable job of cramming a lot of components on to those two sprues.

Aside from their being components up the arse they’re sensibly placed so cutting them out is easy and avoids hacking lumps out of them by accident. This is a good thing. The other good thing is that, for a change, all the spare parts from the kit, regardless of which option you choose to build, are genuinely useful. Except the spare feet you get. They’re not useful at all. The chainswords are awesome looking and would work on an Aspiring Champion or even in a unit of Bezerkers and you even get a couple of special weapons including a plasmagun that rather appears to be eating itself. Which is nice.

By far my favourite part is the jump packs. Aside from being intelligently designed so join lines are minimal, they are reminiscent of the original jump packs from Rogue Trader days which have been co-opted into the Horus Heresy lore. On top of this the thrusters actually look the part and have integrated directional fins so overall they actually look like they could propel its wearer.

I opted to build the Warp Talons because they tie in with my Dark Knights and as I clipped out all the various bits and pieces I was really impressed by not only the level of detail but the quality of the casting. There were few, if any, mould lines so cleaning was very quick. Overall all the parts are awesome. The leg poses are dynamic which gives a fantastic sense of movement and the torsos strike the right balance between uniformity and individuality. Variations in the paint job will go far in helping to make the bodies, at least, look different at first glance if you take a unit of 10.

However, the lightning claws are a bit of a mixed bag. They come in paired sets. Three of them are cool. Two of them are not (although one is arguably borderline). And because you only get five that’s going to lead to disappointment as well as severely limit variation. It’s something Games Workshop have always struggled with. You just need to look at the Space Wolves Grey Hunter box to know what I’m talking about. They’ve never managed to capture the sense of movement for claws that are supposed to be ‘attacking’ without them looking clumsy and the two attacking/punching sets that come with the box are no exception and it boils down to careful positioning on the model and the right set of legs to get the best out of them.

Sadly the same is true of the Warp Talon helmets. The majority are look ace but one looks like it belongs in an episode of Samurai Jack and the other looks like a Palaeotherium’s head from Ice Age. If you don’t know what one of them is I have kindly provided you with an illustration…

It’s either that or a creepy jester type cowl. Regardless, it’s pap and no it’s not the paint job, it’s just a poor sculpt. Happily the box comes with 10 heads in all so you can actually mix things up a bit but the big problem is that because they’re so individual looking repetition is disappointing and that’s the issue with Chaos Marines over their loyalist brothers. Space Marines are supposed to look the same, with slight variations but unity is the key. In a unit like Warp Talons, or even Raptors, because of the superb detail the similarities actually count against them.

So there’s quite a few negatives and there’s little point in me pretending they aren’t there. There are disappointments the main one being the lack of variety the individuality of each component, or pair of component, causes. However, what the Games Workshop get right, they really get right. The shoulder pads are inspired. The mutations showing the synthetic muscle fibres beneath the ceramite. The subtle mutations in the armour allow for convincing units whichever way you build them. Making the feet multipart is another brilliant idea as it clearly separates the two units and emphasises the differences between them clarifying how far down the path of heresy they have taken.

The fins on the side of the jump packs intended for the Warp Talons I really wasn’t sure about. In the photos they look kinda daft and spoil the feel of dynamism but having built them for myself I can see them properly and at the angle they actually sit. It’s a simple touch but further highlights the cyber-organic nature of specialist/veteran Chaos units and how the mutations overtake them.

Warp Talons in the game is something I’ve talked about elsewhere so I’ll not bore you with it again but suffice to say that deep striking Daemonic nutters with lightning claws is horrid.

Overall I am actually very impressed with the Raptors/Warp Talons box although you may not know it. There are things about the box I don’t like but that’s probably true of everything I review. The fact is that the kit is well thought out albeit more so for the Raptors than the Warp Talons. The detail is excellent on every single piece, even down to the belt feeds on the bolt pistols and the crab claw tip on one of the chainswords. The helmets, for the most part, are cool, sleek and deep-fried in menace (Mr Floppy-nose aside). To get the best out of a unit of 10 Warp Talons or, heaven for fend, two units of 10, there’s going to be some serious conversion work involved but fortunately they’re plastic and one marine part fits another so chopping and changing shouldn’t be too bad.

I do wish there had been slightly more choice with the head and weapon options for the Warp Talons as, considering the emphasis put on them by Games Workshop, they are rather starved of options and variation, which is a crying shame. But, all in all an awesome kit.

The Raptors/Warp Talons box is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.45

Chaos Fiends – A Review

Part 4 of my Chaos Space Marine run down is the ‘Fiends box. I’ll be honest, when I first saw the pictures I wasn’t convinced. Yes the Forgefiend had fooking huge guns and yes the Maulerfiend looked like it could…maul something but neither one particularly spoke to me.

The funny thing about this kit, more than any thing else I’ve seen of the new Chaos stuff, Dark Vengeance included, is that you need to understand the rules to understand the model. I think this is partly because the model, on its own, is a tad disappointing. At least from the  product shots. Considering it’s supposed to be a daemon caged within a machine it’s surprisingly okay about it. It lacks the dynamism of the Heldrake and of their Juggernaught cousins.

That said, when you crack the seal open and get a look at the box what you’re presented with is a superbly designed kit. I mean genius. I’ve always had misgivings about the mutli-kits that GW started punting out because basically you’re paying a premium for a load of plastic you can’t do anything with other than stick in your bits box and desperately think of something to do with it all. And, honestly, that’s exactly what you’ll end up with the ‘Fiend box. Especially if you opt for the Maulerfiend over the Forgefiend.

However, the intelligence of the design is quite striking. It uses the body well so simple limb swamps have a striking result. Granted all the pictures of the Maulerfiend are with the Lasher Tendrils, which is an upgrade, rather than with the standard Magma Cutters it comes with but the parts well designed, actually fit together and go a long way to making the Maulerfiend look the beast it’s supposed to be.

The Forgefiend doesn’t fare so well, being incredibly static which is a shame because it’s component parts are actually awesome. Both the Ectoplasma cannons and the Hades autocannons look impressive with some really nice details, especially the Ectoplasma head which completely changes the feel of the model from that of a beast to a monster. But all it does is, essentially stand there.

And speaking of heads I’m actually surprising myself by going out to bat for the standard head. Because generally speaking I thought it looks stupid. It’s actually completely awesome but let down by being glued on the studio model in a pose that makes it look dopey and painted in such a way that made the fangs look comic rather than menacing. Yes the tongue is a bit much but you can’t win them all.

Whichever model you opt for you’re getting a chunky toy for your efforts. The two sprues (yes only two for £40 full retail) have a lot of bit. Big bits. Big bits with lots of detail. Big bits with lots of detail that actually feel Chaotic rather than spiky. And it’s about damn time.

The model feels crude yet ornamental. Artifice was at the heart of the Fiends before crudity and barbarity intervened. It’s the principle behind servitors taken to a horrid, violent, extreme. There’s subtle details on the model that make you wonder if the Fiends are just driven insane with pain and merely lashing out mindlessly. But perhaps I’m over thinking it. The massive limbs and the tremendously big, savage, animalistic looking weapons certainly do the job of creating menace.

 

Which is rather the point of using the Fiends. They’re shit scary and can potentially do some real damage on the board. Having thought long and hard about the options and considering my Dark Knights are a Night Lords splinter I have opted for the Forgefiend because it represents mobile heavy fire power. He’s a little pricy though, 200 points if you take the Ectoplasma head but it’s three weapon systems that are, as far as I can tell, not twin linked. This is somewhat of a two-edged sword because lobbing out 8 strength 8, AP4, shots from the Hades autocannon followed by a strenght 8, AP2, plasma shot is just sick. However the BS of 3 can, potentially, limit its effectiveness. The obvious choice would be to take 3 Ectoplasma cannons but then you run the risk of blowing yourself up.

The Maulerfiend on the other hand gets two power fists, can move through cover, leap tall buildings in a single bound and then fuck them over for 125 points. But it’s still only WS3 and initiative 3 which means against a Space Marine Dreadnought or a Wraithlord it’s going to get hurt. Not might, will. It’s absolutely at its best manging soft and squishy units and vehicles, thanks the its Magma Cutters getting Armourbane. Considering GW has made such a big deal out of the Lasher Tendrils they have rather limited use, only really benefiting you against units with high attacks. My advice; as you can build both options, do so and use magnets or pins to swap them over depending on who you’re fighting against.

Both are daemonic, obviously, and both get Fleet which even made me say ‘fuck you’ and I’m collecting the army. Maybe it’s just GW admitting that the only way for walkers to survive a game is to get into combat…

On top of those rules, the Fiends get Daemonforge which allows you to, once per game, re-roll any failed to wound rolls in a single shooting or assault phase. Which is horrid and potentially decisive. Although as it’s a one hit wonder it’s one of those rules that you may never use because you’re ‘saving it for the right moment’. And were Fleet not enough to help get your Fiends kicking people in the face, they also get It Will Not Die which allows it to recover a Hull Point on a 5+. Which actually makes them quite tough. Granted there is a huge array of weapons that are now a threat to armour 12 vehicles but still, it’s a huge boon and still for relatively low points. Particularly in the case of the Maulerfiend.

The Fiend kit is actually pretty impressive. The Forgefiend is a little static but the overall look is still imposing and the guns are huge. The Maulerfiend is slightly more dynamic but not much but it’s obvious menace makes up for it. There’s some real conversion value in the kits as well and the rules are actually pretty awesome as walkers are superb in 6th Edition.

The Forgefiend/Mailerfiend kit is available from Firestorm Games priced £36.00

The Myriad

M’Comrade Rob aka @peppermint_cat, friend, staunch #warmonger and writer of themossop blog has, thanks in no small part to me, abandoned his stand point on fluff not being important and written some fluff on his WIP Nurgle Chaos Space Marine army.

You can call me the puppet master…

Never let it be said that I’m anything but contradictory by nature, I have a kind of internal devil’s advocate that encourages me to switch back and forth for no particular reason, other than because I can. You lucky people get to benefit from that 😛

So, you know that post I wrote about not being bothered by writing fluff for my armies… Weeeeeell I was musing over my current Nurgle army, wondering how I might modify it with the new codex now out and I had a bit of an idea and because it’s an idea that doesn’t sit neatly within the ‘standard’ Nurgle approach it requires some justification, aka some flippin’ fluff! I blame @TheShellCase; anyway, I wrote this…

Read more here.

Chaos Heldrake – A Review

Part three in my Chaos Space Marine review is none other than the all new, and most talked about model in the range, Heldrake.

It’s proved a bit of a Marmite model. You either love it or you hate it. I think it’s mixed reception is down to the product photography as on the box it looks rather flat. I also think an unimaginative pose and a fussy paint scheme didn’t help either. It’s also a very brave move by the Games Workshop to so dramatically move away from the more traditional vehicles and a huge jump away from the Hell Talon and Hell Blade from Forge World that I’ve secretly yearned after ever since they came out. If anyone has a spare £100 by the way…

But on to my not so humble opinion.

So, what’s in the box? Well two sprues, an instruction booklet, which is actually quite well done, and a shit load of Nottingham’s finest oxygen. Which for £45 retail is a bit of a sting considering a Land Raider is the same money and that’s a small oil field’s worth of plastic and has moving parts up the arse. However, when the sprues are examined you can see just how much they’re able to cram on to a frame. It all adds up to quite a hefty kit. Which is just as well, I suppose.

That said, with the advent of digital design there’s been a definite shift in design ethos and I wonder if the Land Raider would be as sophisticated a kit as it is if it were designed now. The Heldrake is as hollow as an Easter egg and despite the comparative lack of plastic it does give the remarkable impression of space. But as it’s a fucking great daemon bird it’s not hard.

As I started to build the kit I realised that it was far from the flat or fixed model I saw in the pictures, and expected it to be. As I built the body, neck and head I realised that because it uses ball and socket joints it’s surprisingly poseable. The spine spikes along the neck limit those poses and they won’t always look quite right but it’s still poseable all the same and it gives the wargamer that very important opportunity for individuality as no one wants a set piece like that to look the same as everyone else’s. If I’m honest a couple of refinements here and there and it would have been even more so, but you can’t have everything.

The casting quality, largely to do with the digital design, is excellent. Very crisp and pretty much mould line free. The sprues are laid out intelligently and means the bits you need are pretty much in order that you need them. Which is nice. However where it all comes unstuck, literally, is the fecking massive wings.

 

They are immensely cool and very cleverly designed balancing the crude industrial nature of its construction with its avian origins. However it’s a huge amount of weight on the ball joint that attaches to the main body. It took ages for the arms to set. And that’s assuming the wings don’t drop off the arms during the process because they too are attached via a relatively small ball joint.

Because of the near magical properties of plastic glue, once it’s set it’s set until the end of time but it’s getting to that point that is the issue. I was able to cook and eat a meal in the time it took for the ball joint attaching the wings to the body to set. If you’re building the Heldrake in a rush or you accidentally break it you may just want to kill yourself.

On the upside because the shoulder and claws are all ball joints it allows, again, a degree of posability. Not much mind you, but enough that with the body sat on the flying stand at the correct angle you can get some pretty good effects. But as it’s got such a short body and dumpy rear legs you want to try and pose it to emphasise the wings anyway.

I attempted to model the Heldrake like it was banking round to flame some poor defenceless unit. Hopefully the picture does it justice but just going on looks and feel it’s a very impressive model.

In game terms the Heldrake is just plain nasty. So nasty I almost feel bad that I’ll be fielding one (yes only one) in my Dark Knights. Although only it’s armour is only 12, 12, 10 because it can zoom a Space Marine with a lascannon only has a 1 in 72 chance taking it out in a 6 turn game. So a unit of Devastators with four lascannons get a 1 in 16 chance. And that’s a far bigger outlay in points than their target. Granted rapid firing weapons like autocannons and assault cannons will statistically fare better, but flyers generally are just a nightmare to deal with in 6th Edition.

A Heldrake if you take the Baleflamer, unbelievably for free, has a 2 in 3 chance of killing a Space Marine. Statistically it’ll take out 6 Space Marines every turn whilst your opponent struggles to hit it. That is nasty. For the points the Heldrake is absolutely lethal and a genuine tactical headache as it’ll swoop across the battle field toasting enemies with impunity. And providing it stays away from anything with the Skyfire special rule it will make it’ll more than make its points back. Plus, because it’s such a scary bugger, it will draw a lot of attention. Of course this could mean it’ll get shot down a lot sooner but if your opponent is shooting at that then they’re not shooting at other things.

The Heldrake model, is for all its faff and frustrations is an awesome model. It’s covered in detail and oozes malice. Even the body feels like a separate organism. That said, the body feels a little cheap as the mouth/thruster/thing shows just how hollow the body is which destroys the illusion somewhat. Apart from that the model screams unholy experiments between creature and machine, of speed and unleashed violence. It is a completely brilliant model and I cannot wait to unleash it on the board.

The Heldrake is available from Firestorm Games priced £40.50

 

Aspiring Champion – A Review

Following on from my review of Codex Chaos Space Marines I thought I’d take a look at the new plastic multipart Chaos Space Marine Aspiring Champion.

When the images were first leaked on the interwebs this was the model that first sowed the seed of damnation because, quite simply, he looks like an absolute beast. I mean this dude is massive. Between the pose, the horns and the base he actually stands taller than the Dark Vengeance Chaos Lord. Which is kinda awesome.

The other great thing about the model is that it fits in perfectly either a standard unit of Chaos Space Marines or in a unit of Chosen, which I’ll be doing for my Dark Knights. In truth he’s chunky and cool enough to be a Lord model which is just as well because compared to the new models coming out the existing HQ models are a little poor.

Aside from his rather hench stature, the Aspiring Champion is dripping with detail.

One of the really exciting changes with the new Chaos stuff is that the models aren’t just covered in spikes but now everything feels much more organic and the spikes that are there look like they’ve grown out of the armour. Which is the point and something I’ve been banging on about for a while. Those further down the path of damnation will have heavily mutated armour than those that have recently turned from the light of the Emperor.

The Aspiring Champion has faces leering from its armour, slathering tongues and all, which is way cool. The chest plate is really well done with just the hint of daemonic menace lurking within but a different paint job and it can be ambient lights or even gem stones for the Slanneshi players out there. The studio painted model with for pink faces on the leg and shoulder which I’m not massively keen on but obviously that’s purely a preference thing. Even the backpack is twisted with arms holding the exhaust vents and what looks suspiciously like the head of an Inquisitor embedded in there too. Which is awesome.

Aside from the absolutely brilliant helmet my favourite bit is the power axe. Aside from being massive it, like the armour, is as twisted and sinister as the rest of the model. It’s not just a weapon but an extension of the model which is a very important design graduation compared to something like the Chaos Terminators who just have, basically, spiky weapons.

In terms of the kit it’s an absolute dream to build. I’ve been quite a critic of the new plastic character packs because of the price, but that’s more Games Workshop’s laughable pricing structure, the quality of this model in terms of casting quality and detail is absolutely awesome. There wasn’t a mould line in sight and it just slotted together utterly effortlessly and has completely converted me. And it’s superior to Finecast characters because it’s properly laid out rather than metal models being made with resin.

As much as I hate to admit it I wouldn’t think twice handing over the asking price for the Aspiring Champion because he is, top to bottom, awesome. I can only hope the Games Workshop release a couple more to allow for some variety across the army.

The Chaos Space Marine Aspiring Champion is available from Firestorm Games priced £10.80