Grey Knights Codex – A Review

 

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One in a million. That’s how many recruits survive Grey Knight boot camp.  And if you consider that those recruits are the top percentage of those already chosen from their home worlds as being the top specimens on their respective planets, the numbers start to get a little crazy. The entire population of Earth would probably yield barely a single Grey Knight – rounding up. That’s a whole lot of sacrifice for a single marine in silver armour, but then who else is going to remember the ever-changing names of every Daemon in the Warp and throw it in their faces?

Grey Knight Codex

The new Grey Knights Codex describes such details to give you a better understanding than ever before of lengths the Imperium has had to go to in the endless war for its soul.  On reading through the background of the frankly beautiful book, I was surprised at the number of excellent additions to their background – a stellar map showing the locations of the known daemonic  incursions and Warp storms throughout the galaxy, a detailed breakdown of the Chapter’s fighting strength, descriptions of all the Brotherhoods,  plus the names and duties of each Grandmaster and their second in command Brother Captains, a double page spread on understanding their Heraldry with examples and ideas on creating your own. It goes on and on and all works to impress upon you just how few and individual they are, and the magnitude of the task they face.

Their Chapter breakdown reads with some very specific numbers, such as 44 Purifiers and 98 Paladins – in the entire galaxy. Even when reading the same lists for marines you’re still somewhat safe in the knowledge that there are at least another thousand or so other Chapters out there to lend a hand if someone screws up. It’s all wonderfully compelling  knowing just how close humanity teeters on the edge of its doom, and the individuality the book enables you to impart on your small army of ‘man’s greatest, and fewest, heroes’ creates a firm link to the consequences should you fail.

The fantastic new artwork does a much better job of portraying their supreme fighting ability (the first double page piece is particularly impressive) and lends itself well to the idea that they are extremely proficient at killing daemons – but constantly under threat of being overwhelmed by the never-ending hordes they struggle to hold back. Usually only barely a handful of Grey Knights will be sent to deal with a potential incursion which their prognosticators can foresee (kind of like ‘Minority Report’) which enables them to show up at the right time with the minimum of force to get the job – so precious is each and every Knight – and only the greatest and most threatening of incursions warrants the mustering of a full brotherhood.

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If I’m honest, I was disappointed with the photography.  Someone got a little carried away with the lighting effects and there was no showcase of individual models which is always one of my favourite sections of an army book – I’m unsure if this is consistent across the new format Codicies but it’s not a change I’m happy with as I get a lot of inspiration from the individual efforts of the ‘Eavy Metal team.  There‘s also what look to be not one, but two non ‘Eavy Metal, and I guess ‘reader/staff submitted’, armies used in the photography and the quality just isn’t there.  They are great armies that anyone would be proud to own (although I’m not sure about the one with all the trophy racks, seems very Chaos) but in a premium book I expect premium quality throughout.

Onto the army list and there’s quite a bit of change, and you can expect a mixed reaction from existing Grey Knight players. They had a reputation as one of the stronger armies in 40k and everyone was expecting them to be toned down – and this has indeed happened.  All the Inquisitor stuff has gone completely – even down to the fluff, with only a slight link to the Inquisition being maintained. Most of the equipment and upgrades has been wiped away, no more Psycannon Bolts, or Rad grenades, or Brain Mines, it’s all gone along with all the Grey Knight specific Vehicle upgrades. It’s a bit of a shame as not only is there  still a mention of the more exotic pieces they use in the background, but it seems a lot of the army identity has now gone into the Psychic phase removing most of the choice you had in how you played with them.

Non Grey Knight players will be happy to hear the (now) Lord of War choice, Kaldor Draigo has had his wings clipped. He’s still a beast but no longer strength or toughness 5 – again, as much as this was perhaps needed, it’s still a shame to see perhaps the greatest Marine in the Galaxy reduced to a majority stat line of 4’s [I think most Space Marine players would argue that point by go on… – Ed].

You’ll be kept busy re-learning the points costs of the basic elements of the army as there’s ups and downs all over the place.  Some changes of note are Grand Masters have gone up slightly and trade-off their Grand Strategy for psychic level 2, whereas Librarians have gone down by a whopping 40 points – and a further 25 less for a level 3!  Strike squads have gone up but their equipment options have gone down so you’re still better off, and Terminators have gone down significantly but lose out on the changes to the Nemesis weapons – which is swords now have no benefit beyond being a Nemesis Force weapon and Halberds are +1 Strength instead of +2 Initiative – so the Terminators are now either less durable in combat or a lot slower. Purifiers went up slightly and the Apothecary for the Paladins is now a massive 55 points less – which equates to a free Paladin! Other highlights include special weapons now being consistently priced, which actually makes equipping one on your HQ a feasible option, and the Dreadknight has been given the sales boost treatment as you can now take a tooled up teleporting monstrosity for, on average, 70 points less!  The Vehicles are largely unchanged.

Generally the list seems to be pushing you to take more from the troops choices which is a good thing as there were some big errors in the last codex which made taking Purifiers over Strike Squads a no brainer. And with Terminators getting worse but cheaper, it’s now a harder decision to choose between the two troops choices.  However, the adjusted force organisation means you only need one as a compulsory choice and gives you an extra Elite slot at a cost of one less Heavy and Fast Attack – go figure.  I said before, it’s a shame to lose all the toys and although the Relics are some consolation, it’s taken away some of the individuality from the HQ’s that the background did such a job of adding to them.

With less being spent on your HQ and generally cheaper units overall you’re army should be larger but will rely even more on the Psychic phase to assert itself with a number of units now having access to multiple powers – and a Librarian should still be the first name on the team sheet.  Beyond him and perhaps the Dreadknight, the army balance is a lot better with more of the choices being just that, rather than easy hits and misses, and I’m looking forward to getting some more models on the table – but man am I going to miss those Rad Grenades.

-Lee

Salute in Review: What Happened To All The Spending?

Salute 2014Must…buy…toys…must…buy…toys….  No it’s not Mat, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead it was me wandering around aimlessly trying to find shizzle to buy at the end of Salute on Saturday. I went in with a good idea of what I wanted but after picking up my hefty (and heavy) Forge World order, purchases were unfortunately few and far between.

The day went largely as expected in accordance with the pre-Salute post – far more business over pleasure and the vast majority of my time was spent engaged in conversations with gaming companies old and new. It was a very productive day on that front with some downright fantastic agreements made with several major companies and numerous encouraging discussions with others, who were also showing signs of following suit.  Despite the dedicated focus we still ran out of time at the end and missed out on several stands we wanted to visit, there just weren’t enough hours in the day in truth.

The walks between the companies we wanted to talk to was where I attempted to find the things I wanted to buy.  Some bits for my Warhammer Empire army were high on the list but there was an absolute dearth of their products available, being limited to just boxes of State Troops and the occasional Greatswords.  I know Games Workshop removed many of the items I needed from the list available to independent stockists but I thought given the scale of the event some would still be available from the three I wanted: Demigryphs, Helblaster, Pistoliers/Outriders. But no.  I did grab an absolute bargain in the form of a brand new metal Marius Leitdorf for just £4 – yes you read that right. Just £4.  A pricing error? Who knows, but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I also bagged a pack of Purple and Gold dice to go with my Emperors Children, very fitting I thought, and a ruined building from Amera Plastic Mouldings (review to follow soon). But that was it. I had still spent a hefty sum on my Forge World order, but I went home with £160 still burning through my pocket and now charring the flesh of my thigh.  So here’s what I got (because most of my stuff came as bags of parts, which aren’t very exciting, I’ve used images from web):

LEGION SICARAN BATTLE TANKEMPEROR'S CHILDREN PHOENIX TERMINATORS

Marius Leitdorf36 PEARL DICE - 6 SIDED & 12mm SIDES - PURPLE !!Z214 - City Block Ruins

 

I think you’ll agree that if any Imperial Tank could ever be considered sexy, the Sicaran would be it – with it’s sleek profile and…er…armour plates. Backing it up with a pimp set of Phoenix Guard means I should have one good looking army once they hit the table top alongside one of last years Salute purchases, the Emperors Children Contemptor Dreadnought (with twin Kheres and a back up Power Claw, of course).

At the time of writing I have just ordered a variety of the magnets I wanted and now have to further resort to trawling the web to satisfy my hobby cravings and try to find things that can convince me to part with my cash – but it’s not the same.  When your there and it’s in your hands something almost takes over you, and you just start throwing money in peoples faces and running off before someone’s mind changes. Still, at least I’ll get a free Space Marine Captain if I order from Games Workshop direct.

Until next year, the sound of Neil singing the Salute theme tune will remain a memory.

 

*The Salute theme tune goes as thus: Saying the word Salute repeatedly to the tune of Black Adder (writing credit: Rob Mossop).*

Space Hulk the Video Game

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Yes, that’s right; yet another shit looking Space Hulk video game. I seem to remember the first one coming out back when I had a Commodore 64. It was gritty, intense and scary. Everything since has been an unmitigated dirge of toss that focussed far too much on copying the board game into a first person format rather than making a game based on Space Hulk. There is nothing fun about playing a game in which your storm bolter jams every third shot. This time round it’s Full Control’s turn. A Danish company that seems to have produced a raft of crap looking games. Which makes me ask this question: is the licensing team at Games Workshop fucking high?

Here’s the announcement trailer…

Why I Love Terminators

So I finally got the last of my first company Terminators built for my Ultramarines making it 57 including Captain Agemann, his command squad and Chaplain. And if I do say so myself they look awesome. And it got me thinking about their role in the game and how the changes to close combat weapons impact on these mighty warriors of the Imperium.

Originally designed for breaching enemy vessels and space hulks, terminator armour is the most resilient form of personal protection in the galaxy. It was designed to withstand meteor strikes. Meteor. Strikes. Which is why the idea that a poxy power weapon wielded by an even poxier Eldar bird with bad hair could fell one rankled me no end. Yes, arguably they could have found a weak spot but considering a Space Marine can (and I’m talking fluff now) take a multimelta to the face and all it’ll do is piss him off, lopping off an arm isn’t going to stop them.

It just made no sense. No sense to the point that before I embarked on collecting the full 1st & 5th and just had a generic army, I’d use Scout Squads against Banshees because their stats were the same, they got as many attacks and a fraction of the cost and their saving throw was just as irrelevant as a Terminators.

During the days of Second Edition a Terminator got a 3+ armour save on 2D6. That gave him a survival rate of something like 97% in the average game. Third Edition changed that to 2+ on a single D6 and a (eventually) 5+ Crux Terminatus save. That’s a drop to 83%. Couple that with power weapons ignoring all armour saves and Terminators were rarely worth the points and when they were it was usually against something very squishy.

Terminators are the ultimate defenders of humanity. Standing inviolate against the Emperor’s enemies in their tactical dreadnought armour. Wherever the fighting is thickest they can be found. When all hope is lost they will deliver the day. They are the blessed of Emperor’s sons and they his most deadly instruments of vengeance.

On the battlefield and gaming board a like they should inspire fear in your enemies and be the anchor of any assault or wreaking untold havoc behind enemy lines as they’re teleported from their orbiting vessel. Terminator squads should be the bane of every enemy generals plans and the stuff of nightmares for his men. Terminators are death incarnate and thanks to the introduction of AP for close combat weapons they are once again elevated to this supreme status.

More importantly you’ll actually be able to use them as all rounders once more. Being locked in combat with units armed with anything other butter knives will no longer fill you with dread. What it will mean is that your opponents will direct unreasonable amounts of resources to taking them down but that’s as it should be. Five Deathwing Terminators liberated a world infested by a Genestealer Cult. Five.

It’s absolutely right that it should take dozens of traitor marines or seething hordes of Orks to bring Terminators low because they are extraordinary. Even by the standards of Space Marines. They are warriors without peer, noble beyond reproach and deadly beyond reason. A Veteran in Terminator armour will never waste their lives bust understand that to wear such valuable and vaunted armour is a dire portent and they will willingly give their lives in the pursuit of their cause and the defence of their brothers and humanity.

Terminators are a the manifestation of the Emperor’s wrath, the will his Sons and the very noblest of ideals that the Space Marines cling to as they fight to hold back the encroaching night. Deploying Terminators on your gaming board is as much a psychological blow to your enemy as it is a boon to you. Where they tread your enemies will perish and die. I’ve always believed that faith in your models is what gives you good dice rolls and fear of your opponents is what gives you bad. And woe betide those poor saps who should find themselves facing down a terminator, let alone 57 of them.

And that is why I love Terminators.

A Company of Heroes

The other day I talked about the benefits of fielding Battle Companies over the more traditional hodge podge Space Marine armies that are little more than delivery mechanisms for Terminators. Today I thought I’d discuss Veteran only armies.

The 1st Company of most Chapters represent are not only the most experienced and capable warriors but also the most inspirational. To earn a place in the 1st Company is to have accomplished deeds so great that they attract your chapter master’s notice – a great honour in itself.

But being in a company of heroes means facing the very worst that the galaxy can throw at the Imperium of Man. As I said in my last post although I accept that elements of the 1st may be made available to Battle Companies, within the background it has long been established that a Battle Company is more than capable of conquering a star system. As such the 1st, when called upon does so to face the vilest of the Emperor’s foes. Evil that only the most resolute and pure of spirit can hope to face with their sanity intact. To be in the 1st Company is an honour with a hefty price and as we saw with the Ultramarines 1st Company on Macragge, it some times requires the ultimate price.

But how do you field a 1st Company on the table top? Well, strictly speaking…you can’t. At least not if you use Codex Space Marines. So, what you’ll have to do is borrow the rules for Belial, Master of the Deathwing from Codex Dark Angels. His special rules allows you to take Terminator squads as troop choices. His stats, equipment and special rules are also about right for fielding any 1st Company Captain. In my case, specifically, Agemman. He also allows you to field a Terminator command squad. It’s mental, FYI that you cannot take a command squad in Terminator armour in the standard codex.

The composition of your 1st Company will vary massively depending on the Chapter you collect and how loyal you are to the fluff. Some Chapters have very few suits of Terminator armour and so the army should reflect that. The Ultramarines, as far as I can tell have half their company in Terminator armour, the rest make up Vanguard and Sternguard squads.

It’s rare that you’ll get to use an entire 1st company. At around 500 points a squad, a fully pimped company stretches in the Apocalypse size games which presents its own issues and faffs, but, for argument’s sake, assume you’re playing a standard game. However, if you do the important thing to remember, as mentioned in my previous post, Veterans die just as easily as a normal 16 point Space Marine, except that each casualty is even more acutely felt because of the skills/effectiveness they represent. A dead Vanguard armed with a power weapon and a plasma pistol represents are far greater investment in points no to mention the potential damage it can inflict compared to a normal assault marine.

My 1st Company contains Captain (Angry-man) Agemman, his Terminator command squad mounted in a Redeemer, 3 sqauds of standard Terminators (if such a term can be applied to Terminators), 2 squads of Assault Terminators, 2 squads of Sternguard, 3 squads of Vanguard (one sans jump packs), a drop pod, 2 Dreadnoughts (although I can only field 1 if I play a standard game), 2 Crusaders and a standard Land Raider.

My approach is simple, endure. I hold my Terminators and 2 Vanguard squads in reserve and so my total deployment on turn 1 is 4 Land Raiders and a Dreadnought (or two). And that’s it. The plan is simple. Close with the enemy whilst laying down what fire I can – targeting close combat monsters and vehicles capable of taking a part Space Marines with ease. And then…strike. Everything deep strikes onto the board. Vanguard Veterans can assault on the turn they deep strike which is crazy awesome. A lucky roll can mean your bods are in combat, straight away with 41 attacks a squad with a bevy of power weapon and a few power fist attacks in the mix.

Terminator squads are able to fire which means, with 30 of them, combined with 20 Sternguard and the Land Raiders you can bracket the enemy on both sides and severely diminish the combat effectiveness of return fire or counter attacks. And, don’t forget, if you’ve timed it right, your third Vanguard squad and Captain Angry-man and his command squad will be in assault range too. So, potentially 35 tooled up close combat nasties slamming into combat on a single turn, delivering somewhere in the region of 130-140 attacks.

Assuming there’s anything left alive after all that the Terminators will get their turn to put the boot in during the next turn whilst the Land Raiders, Dreadnought/s and Sternguard form a cordon around the combat, taking care of tanks and any other units that haven’t been engaged.

I’m the first to admit it’s a gamble but it should be. The 1st Company is only ever called upon to tackle the most hated of foes and so their vengeance should be swift and absolute. Plus, Veterans are too expensive to risk walking them over open ground or putting them in anything other than Land Raiders and as only the Daughters Sons of Sanguinius get to take Land Raiders as dedicated transports, you’re restricted in the number you can take to 1 for Captain Angry-man as his dedicated transport and 3 heavy support choices. This rather forces you to adopt the tactics I’ve described. Or at least a variation.

However, there are things you can do to improve your chances. Sternguard and Vanguard without jump packs can take Drop Pods as dedicated transports. But you don’t have to put them in there. Seeding three of four empty drop pods amongst your enemy’s lines will not only prevent your units from scattering when you deep strike them onto the board, but it, if your opponent is clever enough to realise that’s your plan, he’ll divert weaponry that could be pointed at your Land Raiders and Dreadnought/s into destroying them. Either way it’ll benefit you just in slightly different ways.

Fielding a Veteran Company of any composition is gamble. High value units with little or no additional protection means that whatever you do, you cannot afford to be hesitate or allow yourself to be pinned down. If you haven’t broken the back of the enemy army by the end of turn 3 chances are you’re about to get overwhelmed.

In a game as large as the one you’d need to deploy the 1st Company in its entirety the numbers argument just doesn’t wash. 107 Veterans is a scary thing to face, I make no bones about that, but against any other force you’ll be facing two or three times that number. You can take almost two Battle Companies for the same points, to put it in perspective. Every decision has to be decisive and every tactic as bold and as heroic as the warriors represented on the board.

They’re a company of heroes after all.

Representative APRmour

Whilst out to lunch with Lee of The Chaps yesterday we got talking about a game I hosted between Jeremy and Neil, also of The Chaps, at the weekend.

Jeremy was pitting his Crimson Fists against Neil’s vile Orks. During the course of the game, Jeremy made a daring deep strike with his Terminators into the middle of the board to hold up a unit of Killa Kans and thwart Neil’s breakthrough. Although eventually wrecking both Kans, the cost to the Crimson Fist veterans was indeed steep, 4 of the 5 falling to the Kans crude close combat weaponry. Now although Killa Kans are pretty tough the thought occurred to us both that Terminators just aren’t hard enough.

Our reasoning was this; Terminator armour was designed to be used when breaching the hulls of space hulks/starships and can withstand meteor strikes in such conditions. With that in mind, ever since third edition the finest of the Emperor’s finest just weren’t as hard as they should be. In second edition a Terminator’s armour save was 3+ on 2D6. In those days weapons had negative modifiers ala Necromunda. A lascannon had a -6 save modifier. This meant that a Terminator would survive on a 9+ on 2D6. Probability wise it’s 2/6 to 10/36 when compared to their invulnerable save in the current edition. However, against basic weaponry a Terminator had a 35/36 chance of success meaning that a Terminator’s survival was almost assured until powerful anti-tank weapons were brought to bear. And even then, coming out the other side was still a possibility.

Now those days are long long gone but the point still stands – Terminators aren’t resilient enough. With a 1/6 chance of failing a save against small arms fire, thwarting Terminators isn’t hard, you just fire lots of guns at them and, eventually a save will be failed. The rationale is a lucky hit pierces an eye piece or finds a weakness in the armour, but this just doesn’t make sense. Really think about that argument. A lasbolt can punch through an eye piece but a meteor can’t. Really? I’ll concede that it is possible in so much as almost anything is possible. But 1/6 possible?

So what’s the alternative? With Codex Grey Knights released and written to sixth edition rules there isn’t a lot of scope for Terminators in the upcoming rules to be much different which is a crying shame as compared to the likes of mega armoured Nobz they are grossly under powered. The only thing I can think of happening is Terminators are granted two wounds to represent damage to their armour initially, rather than themselves and maybe making them immune to instant kill weapons.

Perhaps a tad pie in the sky but my 2 wounds idea is based around the following principle (and please don’t send abusive comments; it’s just an idea): Grey Knight terminators aren’t Grey Knight terminators, as such. They’re Grey Knights in terminator armour. Standard blokes (or as standard as you can be in the Grey Knights) in terminator armour, rather than veterans. Although incredibly skilled and deadly warriors, they aren’t necessarily soldiers of hundreds of campaigns like 1st company veterans of their brother chapters invariably are. The Grey Knights have an abundance of terminator armour because it is required for daemonic arse kickery, not because they’re veterans and have worked their way up the ranks. Again, I’m not detracting from their martial prowess. Paladins, on the other hand are double hard bastards who have slain the foulest creatures of the warp and, therefore are ninja scary and have 2 wounds. Which, I think, gives the idea of multiple wounds traction to my mind.

Ultimately it’s all down to the developers but right now, for the points, Terminators just aren’t tough enough to take on who they should and be comfortable enough for the win. I know it needs to be balanced but I would argue there’s plenty out there that would make it a fair fight.

Why not discuss the idea on The Shell Case forum.

Damn You Forgeworld!

Sonofabitch, but Forgeworld has done it again. On this occasion it’s the Tartaros pattern Terminators. I mean look at them! They’re epic! And £36 for 5 all resin models isn’t too shabby either considering 5 plastic ones are £28! They’re available to pre-order from the Forgeworld website and will be on general release from the 10th April. Plenty of time for someone to buy me a squad or two for my birthday…