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

Codex Chaos Space Marines – A Review

Following on from my fluff post about my WIP Dark Knights I get to review the brand new Codex Chaos Space Marines, courtesy of my awesome sponsor, Firestorm Games. I’ve attempted to collect a Chaos Space Marine army a few times over the years and always ran out of steam because, ultimately, I didn’t care about the army I was collecting, either from a fluff or modelling point of view.

So when I heard that Chaos Space Marines were going to be the first big release on the heels of the 6th edition rules I was intrigued to see which direction they’d take things as the previous codex was utter balls. The new models were encouraging although the Heldrake and the Fiends are a little love/hate.

The Codex is, visually, utterly and completely gorgeous. In full colour it’s crammed full of fresh artwork and the cover embossed which is a nice touch albeit done slightly on the cheap as they’d not bothered to line the inner cover properly.

One of the Codex’s biggest advantages is that it has a tremendous amount of fiction to draw on in the form of the Horus Heresy series. This has two profound effects. The first is that it is the richest and most coherent history in any Chaos Space Marine Codex ever written. The second is that it finally conveys the tragedy of the Heresy. You may think I’ve taken leave of my senses but when you get beneath the skin of the betrayal it’s about a son starved of his father’s love as it is one made vainglorious by his praise. Of rivalries, manipulations and abuses long past but never forgotten. And, ultimately it’s about brothers killing brothers but, worst of all, a father forced to kill his most beloved son.

That said, the Codex makes it quite clear that although the Heresy is a tragedy, what follows is a horror. A never-ending ever worsening horror. With each passing millennia the depravities unleashed on the material universe worsens and it’s splendidly illuminated in the Codex. As I say, for the first time I feel like I really understand the Chaos Space Marines. It’s such an important clarification because it opens up Chaos Space Marines and allows gamers usually put off by the ‘mindless slaughter’ personae of the traitor legions to find or create a niche for themselves and still collect a diverse and interesting force.

The army list, being the first proper 6th edition list may cause some grumbles. It may also cause grumbles from Chaos players who liked how unbalanced you could make their armies with the previous edition and Space Marine players will grumble because Chaos Space Marines still got lots of the same stuff as they do plus all the mad stuff for being baddies.

As a well established Space Marine player I’d always somewhat sided with the last point but, as the saying goes, there’s no zealot like a convert. The army list is ace. It’s not ace because they’ve made it more mental but actually made it less so in a very important way. If you were to flick open your Codex Space Marine book to the army lists you’ll see that the Chaos Lord, Dark Apostle, Sorcerer and Warpsmith have the exact same profiles as their loyalist brothers. Equally Chaos Space Marines, Terminators and Chosen are all the statistical counterparts as well. Even the Helbrute which has replaced the Dreadnought (a new multipart model on the way at last – huzzah!) is essentially exactly the same.

Which is absolutely how it should be. Now, before you send the cultists round and have me offered up as a human sacrifice there’s a very good reason for this. Space Marines are Space Marines. There is only so far their physical or martial prowess can develop without…wait for it…outside intervention. Enter the Chaos Gods. Aside from special characters up the arse you can also give characters and units rewards, marks, icons etc that all augment their performance in some way.

A lord is only 65 points. No it’s not a typo. But they come with bugger all and they don’t get an invulnerable save for free and the one they can pay points for isn’t as good as the Iron Halo. However, they can also take a raft of other nasty upgrades, like Ichor Blood, and Marks of Chaos which augment them in a specific way either making them more choppy, harder to wound or faster on their feet. It also makes the associated elite traitor unit (Khorne Berzerkers, Thousands Sons, Plague Marines or Noise Marines) a troop choice rather than elite. Chaos Lords can be heavily augmented but the points will tot up and will bring them in line with their loyalist opposite number. Which is exactly as it should be.

If memory serves making the above units troop choices is no different from the previous edition but it’s important because it allows you to either take a legion specific or god specific force or a mismatched warband with an undivided lord at its head. If I’m honest the undivided player gets a bit of a rough deal as they don’t really get anything in the way of cool upgrades beyond the stuff that every one else gets. The upside is you have more points to spend on blokes and numbers is everything in 6th edition.

Chaos units are cheaper in most respects and you can take more of them in units Chaos Space Marines which will be lethal in 6th edition as they are both simultaneously elite but capable of mobbing, to a certain degree. Some may question the logic of making Chaos Space Marines 13 points each but having thought on it for a couple of days the 3 points difference between loyalist and traitor marines is fair because they don’t get Know No Fear. Which is a massively underrated special rule as it pretty much requires your opponent to wipe out a squad entirely because otherwise they’ll just keep coming back for more. They can also never be wiped out if they lose an assault because they automatically rally. It’s a very very useful special rule. And Chaos Space Marines don’t get it. Which is why the larger unit sizes will be so useful.

Cultists are awesome. There’s not much to say here. They’re cheap Guardsmen, basically, for a point less save which is rarely used anyway. And they can come in units of 35. Which is mental. Finally Alpha Legion players will be able to take the army they were always meant to. They may not like it because they’ll be spending points on what are little more than meat shields but that’s not my fault.

The usual suspects are back; possessed, chosen and Obliterators but all have been made more balanced but they can still spontaneously grow assault cannons so they’re going to be absolute monsters and yes I’ll but getting some. Many of them. Because they’re tough and vehicles are shit. Speaking of shit who sculpted the Mutilators needs to taken out the back of GW head office and shot. They are the most sinfully poor models I’ve ever seen come out of the Games Workshop since the Daemonhost models.

I could almost forgive the utterly poo sculpting if the unit made sense. What possible use is a slow and purposeful close combat unit?

There’s also new Raptors out which can also become Warp Talons. Quite possibly my favourite new unit. Granted, a little pricy on points but they’re daemonic, have lightning claws everywhere and can blind units when they deep strike which will massive prolong their life expectancy. And they look AWESOME. Essentially they’re the equivalent of the Vanguard Veterans and although they don’t have heroic intervention the fact that they get lots of things for free actually puts them on par.

The other new units are daemon engines. Specifically the Maulerfiend, Forgefiend and the Heldrake. The models will be reviewed in the next few days (I do spoil you) but for now let’s focus on the rules. Basically, they’re nasty. The They Will Not Die special rule allows them to recoup Hull Points. This is horrid. Daemonforge allows you to re-roll failed wound and armour penetration rolls. This is also horrid. The Forgefiend has Fleet and the Maulerfiend gets to Move Through Cover. Which is just mental. Granted they’re only BS & WS 3 but their points are comparative to the Helbrute. Which does make you wonder why you’d take one. That said the Helbrute is cheap and cheap to upgrade. Plus it’s initiative 4 to the Fiend’s 3 which does give it a clear advantage.

However, the game breaker of this edition is the Heldrake. Yes its armour is 12, 12, 10 and it’s only BS & WS 3 but it has Meteroic Descent which allows it to make a strength 7 vector strike. Which is nasty. But where it gets silly Is, for no extra points, you can swap the Hades Autocannon (which is nasty) with a Baleflamer which is a strength 6, AP 3 template weapon. Which hits automatically. Because it’s a template weapon. So on average you’ll mang 6 Space Marines a turn whilst moving up to 32 inches whilst benefitting from a 1 in 72 chance of being taken out in a 6 turn game in return. And all for a completely reasonable 170 points.

Between the lush background and a sensible army list – at last – it’s a fantastic book and I’m genuinely excited about collecting my Dark Knights. The codex is of the new hard back range so it’s noticeably more expensive, but it’s also full colour and a better paper stock so actually, and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s worth it.

Codex Chaos Space Marines is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

Chaos Space Marine Leaked White Dwarf Pages

Faeit 212 has managed to get their hands on some snaps of October’s White Dwarf not only the new look, which is no surprise at all considering the type face has been on the website for a while, but some snaps of the new (and utterly mental) Chaos Space Marine units. Being a sneaky sod I’ve robbed them and put them up here too. And by the looks of things GW are embracing the techno-organic look across the entire range. Could this be (finally) be the end to Space Marine tanks with spikes glued to them?

Apparently this big bastard is called a Helldrake. Which is nice.