The Daughter of Lahmia

As I mentioned in my return post, I’m working on an Undead warband for Mordheim. I’ve always toyed with Undead armies. I’ve found the background fascinating and the models – for the most part – pretty awesome. The two things that always stayed my hand were the fairly (and by fairly I mean very) dull core choices and I fucking hate painting skeletons. Actually no, I don’t. I fucking hate painting lots of skeletons. And a I have a general, roll my eyes, dislike of zombies.

So a Mordheim warband is a good fit as I get t avoid the things that bug me about the Undead army whilst indulging in the stuff I like. Namely vampires. Plus, with all the End Times stuff going on, I wouldn’t know where to start with a Warhammer army at the moment. My brother has kindly leant me the first 4 books and so far I’ve read…none of them. In my defence Batman comic books are an easier read right now.

On to the Vampires themselves. For a long time the Undead army was just the von Carstein dynasty – or more accurately a rip off of the hammer horror vampires of old right down to the silly outfits and the . The introduction of the Necrarchs, Blood Dragons, Lahmians and (latterly) Strigoi was a seminal moment in the evolution of the Vampire Counts and suddenly presented us with noble families that conjured images of a supernatural war of the roses-esque Undead fight for power. Which is actually pretty cool.

For gaming the Blood Dragons were the lure. For uniqueness of army selection and awesomeness of vampire model the Strigoi won out. But for background and pure fascination the Lahmians has always been my go to house of choice. The Lahmian Court is where it all began. Lahmians are the purest of all the Vampires. They are bewitching, beguiling, enthralling and yet utterly savage and evil. The juxtaposition amuses me.

Needless to say when I toyed with the idea of an Undead warband it was always with a Lahmian at its head. Then I impulsively bought one on eBay. Then I bought a few more things and I had to conclude: well, shit, looks like I’m doing a Lahmian warband…

The story I wanted to tell with my Lahmian was one akin to a wandering succubus. Forever displaced from her homeland and unable to stay in one place for too long, I wanted the Necromancer and her thralls to reflect a journey that would have taken her from one corner of the Warhammer world to the other. If the numbers of models available to me weren’t so limited I could have told a far richer story.

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The Necromancer is actually the Wight King model. I liked the idea of a Sorcerer King, ruling a land tucked out of sight from the prying eyes of Gods and men, so utterly convinced of his magical might and right to subjugate, having his will and all he built stripped away in the face of the Lahmian’s ancient power and beguiling beauty. Even in death the sorcerer cannot slip the bewitching bonds of his mistress, being driven mad as in his undeath he has all the urges and desires of a living man. He hungers but cannot eat. He tires but cannot sleep. He lusts but can never feel. He’s forced to watch an endless parade of simpering fools fawn over his beloved, all cursed to fall from favour, all blessed to die at her hand or someone else’s.

Thralls

The Beloved and Thralls I wanted to feel like great warriors fallen from grace. Their souls, minds and very bodies a secondary consideration in favour of their mistress. In the same way I chose a sorcerer king type for my necromancer, the thralls all had to feel far flung. They don’t get much further flung than a Dark Elf Blackark Fleetmaster. Both Neil and Lee raised eyebrows at this choice more so than the Empire Duellist and a Bretonnian Grail Knight, but the important thing to remember is the powerlessness that mortal minds have against something as ancient as a vampire, even the iron hard will of an Elf. There was something aptly perverse about having a Grail Knight as a thrall. The idea of a Grail Knight abandoning his sacred oaths is all but unheard of. And for the Grail Knight his soul would be forever tormented by that fact. Utterly committed to the Lahmian yet disgusted at the dishonourable wretch staring back from his reflection. The Empire Duellist is an entirely more straight forward affair. Enthralled and yet emasculated by the presence of a Fleetmaster and a Grail Knight he pledges the service of his household guard to her cause, foolishly believing it has trucked favour. A man so hopelessly lost spends as much time challenging his tenuous allies as he does fighting the enemies of his beloved.

I did seriously consider getting an Ogre Bodyguard as the Warband progresses to convey just how far the alluring immortal had travelled. Essentially the dimwitted Ogre would follow the Lahmian around in a state of childlike infatuation. In the end, however I decided to opt for a Vargheist instead. It tells a very different story but, I think a far more compelling one. The creature is all that remains of the Lahmians once true love. Driven to ever greater acts of wickedness through insane jealousy he embraced too deeply the creature that lurked within him. Devolved into a near mindless beast, the Vargheist is the Lahmian’s shadow, protecting her from any and all. Too savage to be instinct, too bestial to be anything other than a lost creature.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – this is why I love Mordheim. A few simple decisions surrounding model selection and the story changes from a wandering vampire with a drooling lustful Ogre in tow, to a once great Lahmian princess with a gaggle of enthralled hangers-on and the twisted shadow of her true love, devotedly at her side.

As I get the models together I’ll write some more solid background and maybe a short story or two. And maybe you might even see some photos of painted models. But let’s not get a nose bleed about it.

Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 2

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In Part 1 of this Tactica, we covered which units to take against the pure combat focus of a Khorne army and with an idea of what your list includes, let’s now look at deploying and using them effectively.

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I’m a firm believer in having a strong core at the heart of your army with everything else flowing around it – the expendable stuff, and that word synergy is at its most prominent at this point as you will want as many of your units as possible to benefit from your ability ‘bubbles’ and not have to spend time shuffling about after the game starts to get into range.

By keeping your core intact you can still win even if the rest of your army gets smeared into a fine red paste, which is still a very real possibility no matter how well you’ve prepared.  This core will of course tend to be your slower foot troops who don’t tend to move much, backed up by their support elements which make them better, and the simple diagram below shows that by deploying them in a compact line with the Celestial Hurricanum behind them, all three infantry blocks will be benefitting from the +1 to hit in combat.  The white squares in the Greatsword unit represent characters which can also then spread their influence to these units – namely the re-rolling of Leadership tests provided by your Battle Standard Bearer and the increased Leadership of 9 provided by your General in the shape of an Arch Lector. This entire group is now re-rolling its Leadership tests on an unmodified Ld of 9 (through Steadfast and Stubborn) whilst hitting back on 3’s with a ton of Strength 4 and 5 attacks. The Lector is also granting Hatred to the Greatswords and can also cast a prayer on them either increasing their chances to wound or improving their survivability. It would take a brave enemy General to charge headlong into that and he will bleed for the damage he inflicts – and seeing as you have around 110-120 wounds in that formation he’ll be hard pressed to outlast you.

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Once you throw in your Archer Detachments that can range in front of your line, you should be able to divert enemies units looking to charge you and set up favourable flank charges for when you do want to step out of formation.  This core also has the benefit of accounting for a significant proportion of your points making it harder for your opponent to achieve a victory and easier for you to avoid defeat.

Some of your more combat capable units can also act as powerful deterrents to those who think themselves strong enough to break your core.  For example, a Steam Tank makes a brilliant protector of this formations flank, it’s hard as nails and unbreakable letting you focus on what’s in front of you.  A counterattacking unit of Demigryphs or Knights can also fulfil this role.

If circumstances are permitting, always endeavour to get a unit of Demigryphs in a position to flank the enemy. This doesn’t have to be out on a flank necessarily, simply using a piece of terrain to hide behind waiting for the enemy to come past is just as, if not more useful.  At worst it delays your enemy as he doesn’t want to get flanked, at best you get to pull off a devastating charge that can roll right up a battle line.

You should always try to place your cannons out on the flanks and this is for two reasons. Many opponents forget to look sideways across a battlefield when moving their army forwards and often assume you will shoot the unit directly in front of the Cannon in an effort to keep them alive. Whilst this is an option, shooting across the battle field into the flanks of units of Skull Crushers and Chaos Knights is far more damaging to your opponent.  Your Cannons’ days are numbered as your opponent will do much to remove them as a threat as quickly as possible, so their only job is to inflict as much damage as possible before they go. The other reason to put them on the flanks plays into this.  They’re a great distraction and buy the rest of your army time while they’re being dealt with – and if they’re way out on a flank it’s even longer before their disposers get back into the fight.  I usually deploy the small halberdier units with my cannons to buy them another turn or two of firing to really soften up the enemy before they go and make sure my opponent has to commit a significant unit or two to deal with them – playing even further into reason two.

In the compressed battle line below, you can see the core formation in the centre – although it can be positioned anywhere – supported by the Steam Tank and unit of Knights protecting its flanks. These, and any other units, moving to assist the centre also have the advantage of coming under your ability bubbles too, further adding to their potential.  The Cannons are way out wide supported by the small halberdier units and the Demigryphs are well placed on either side to support either the centre by arcing around or the flank if necessary, or even to advance forwards and punch a hole through vulnerable points through the enemy line.  You can also see how a simple copse of trees can be hidden behind to set up a trap for any unit advancing on the core formations, with the screen of skirmishing archers being used to pull enemy units into favourable positions for flank or dual charges.

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By angling the archers correctly, you should be able to ensure a flank charge at least somewhere along the line and your opponent will likely be hoping to pass his Ld tests to stop his frenzied units charging into your traps.  Don’t be afraid to advance your skirmish screen aggressively to take the initiative away from your opponent who is used to having it when playing with such an offensive army. By getting those archer units high up the board you can clog up his approach with unexpected combats or slowed units trying to avoid getting into combat with them, and then overrunning into your lines unsupported.

The elements not visible in the diagram such as the Helblaster, Outriders etc. can be placed where they are needed as your enemy deploys.   If you can see he’s going to try to rush your core in force, put your Helblaster down in the centre to really make him suffer – or even abandon his plan. If he’s emphasizing (refusing) a flank, you should have an opportunity for your Outriders to find a prime firing position. A lot will depend on how your opponent deploys so try to keep your best stuff until the end. Things like Halberdiers and Knights aren’t going to hold many surprises with where they go, but the likes of Demigryphs and Steam Tanks are crucial units so try to get favourable match ups across the board to maximise their damage potential – and your opponent will be doing the same as he will be fully aware of the danger these units possess. Steam Tanks need to avoid anything with multiple high strength attacks like Slaughterbrutes, Dragon Ogres and tooled up characters. Demigryphs should simply avoid wasting their offensive power on grinding down units in multiple rounds of combat.  They are the point of the blade and if applied correctly should be able to take on almost any unit if they avoid a frontal charge.

The army is also surprisingly offensive when needed, with three mounted offensive units plus a Steam Tank battering ram, you can really take the initiative when the time comes and launch a crippling counter attack to carry the day.  Look for gaps or vulnerable points in the enemy line, as charges are made these holes will appear and capitalising on those moments to get a unit in behind his line will create a real headache as to how to deal with them – all the while you’re pounding him with black powder and magic.

Don’t be afraid to feed your expendable units into his to buy you the time you need to whittle him down with your shooting and get into position with your best units.  Expendable covers everything that isn’t in your core formation – even things like the Demigryphs.  As long as they are buying you an advantage with their sacrifice, you know that by protecting your core (which accounts for around half your victory points) you can still win.

The trick is to get him to underestimate your army.  Let him think he can roll over any unit you’ve got without consideration with his hulking combat monsters, ignoring the risks of charging across the board as fast as he can [With a Khorne army one doesn’t have much choice in the matter. – Ed].  Capitalising on his overconfidence and haste in avoiding warmachine fire will let you dictate where the combats happen and with who. Constantly deflect his best units, either into flank traps or off the board to waste their time, and only taking them on when the circumstances are in your favour.  Do this and you will win the battle.

Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 1

 

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAs we near the end of our ‘Tale of Two Armies’ series, I thought it would be helpful for those interested to put the lessons I have learnt into a Tactica article of sorts – but one that focuses on tackling a specific opponent. This is the first part of that article which will cover general army selection against a foe which favours combat over all else, with the second part moving on to deployment and tactics.

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I’ve enjoyed a large amount of success in the series of games Phil and I have played out, only losing once in the first game – to a total bloodbath where but a single Chaos Warrior was left standing at the end, a Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one.  This was in stark contrast to how I thought the series was going to go after the decision was taken to do it and getting my hands on the army books.  I still stand by what I said in my Empire Army Book review, the subtleties of the changes in the Empire book still leave a slightly sour taste in my mouth knowing what the author’s motivations were, and the fact that the list suffers from significant imbalances corroborates my opinions when paired with the Chaos book.

I feel a large portion of my success was actually down to Phil’s choice of which Chaos God to theme his army on as much as it is to my playing ability. Playing as Khorne is certainly a limitation – at least when it comes to playing the Empire.  I’m sure it would have been harder for me to succeed if I was playing against say, an Undivided list, with all its magical gizmos and tailoring potential – it has a hideously powerful potential in the hands of someone willing to throw any kind of theme or fluff out the window. The lack of any shooting or magic are both huge advantages to an Empire player as you don’t have to invest any of those precious points into protecting yourself from those elements and can focus more on directly dealing with the biggest threats you know you’ll face. But anyway, on to what I’ve learnt which will hopefully benefit those budding Empire General’s out there for the times when they’ve run into an army of Khorne frothing at the mouth.

Army List Selection

Games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle can be won and lost before a dice is even rolled, the choices you make in building your list will have a significant say in how easy or hard your games will be to win.

Frenzied Khorne units are like lawnmowers when it comes to the green grass of the Empire.  Most of your soldiers will die horribly by the wagon load in a stand up fight – you will typically be striking last, with inferior weapon skill, lower strength, and with far less attacks. You will need numbers, and it will be crucial to get your units working together – synergy is a term used a lot with Empire armies and harnessing it is the key to victory.

For your Core, you will need at least one, maybe two, big blocks of State Troops to act as both an anchor for your battle line and an anvil to break the enemy on.  They will need to hold their ground in the face of the whirlwind of death that will inevitably hack its way to them, at least 40-50 bodies if you’re going down the single block route.  I personally prefer to go with two units of 35-40 but that’s what works for me against my opponent and it can be hard to maintain character support across the two of them which we will come onto a bit later.  Which type of State Troops to use for this depends on your style of play, but there are some definite good and bad choices when it comes to deciding which to field.

Swordsmen are the most durable being able to make full use of shields that also provide them with a parry save, plus having an extra point of WS meaning Marauders and Hounds only hit you on 4+ instead of 3+ adds to their durability. They are great for absorbing attacks but will kill very little in return, particularly against anything wearing Chaos Armour.  They are an ideal choice for a true anvil with which to hold the enemy against, but are also the most expensive in points per man.

Halberdiers can actually kill something occasionally, but will die doing so. The extra strength helps with causing wounds and also getting through the thick armour you’ll face. However, the inability to use a shield at the same time as a Halberd means they die very quickly. For a mere 6 points they are generally considered to be the best all round choice in any Empire Army – shields are only worth taking against armies with lots of shooting so leave them behind against Chaos and take more bodies instead.  They are probably the best choice against Chaos.

Spearmen give you many attacks – albeit with very little chance of success against the high toughness and armour saves.  The Spears also make them very static and completely defensive as they only work if they don’t charge. They are the worst choice against Chaos, limited in their usefulness to only the weaker units, which are few in a Chaos army.

To back up your block/s you can add in detachments if you so choose – although there is a lot of debate as to whether they are worth it anymore after the changes made to them. My opinion is generally no, with one exception. There is a definite use for smaller 10/15/20 man units in the army, for sure, but now without the benefit of the auto flank counter charge rule, attaching them to parent units means they often just provide additional squishy bodies for your opponents superior troops to kill and gain yet more combat resolution with – that goes double for Chaos units, and triple for Khorne.  Add in all the Psychology involved with having them in amongst your line means I rather have the flexibility of taking small units on their own.  Independent 10 man Halberdier units (cheap) are fantastically useful and can be used as warmarchine protectors, charge redirectors, speed bumps, flank protectors etc.  Easily worth the measly 60 points they cost per unit.  The exception is for the lowly Archer – they’re brilliant.  They can range in front of the army and become a very irritating distraction for your opponent who must overcome their charge redirecting and blocking. Panic isn’t a problem when they die as they are out in front and the fact they can shoot is just a bonus which lets them soften up the hounds which are usually tasked with removing them.  Costing as little as 35 points in units of 5 makes them invaluable at buying you time – they are one of the most important units available to the Empire.

The rest of the ranged State Troops unfortunately are poor.  They are now very expensive for what they do and against a Khorne army with no real shooting or magic to worry about the more fragile Outriders are a much better choice.  10 Handgunners costs you 90 points for 10 shots, 5 Outriders cost you 105 points for 15 shots – all at the same equivalent BS.  Plus the Outriders get a free move at the start of the game to get into a better position, and also have horses for if they ever do need to move again – which you should avoid.

Knightly Orders are decent. The 1+ armour save is still very hard for even Chaos Warriors to get through, just stay away from Chaos Knights, or worse Skull Crushers,  who will still make a mess of them. You can also choose to equip them with Greatswords as you’ll be striking last anyway, but losing the 1+ save is a big decision as it’s their biggest strength. They won’t win in a head on charge against most units but get them in a flank and they will be hard to shift – particularly the Stubborn Reiksguard who can pin a unit in place almost indefinitely.  Their problem is they struggle to deal out enough damage and need character support if you want them to charge through units of any significance – mounted Warrior Priest’s help them massively with their Hatred.

One of, if not the best units available to you will be the Demigryph Knights – they are the one truly combat capable unit available to the Empire and can eat their way through almost anything if you play them right – just don’t forget you’re playing Chaos who are also very combat capable.  If you’re careless with them they will die just as quickly as anything else in the Empire army. Their armour-piercing beaks are tailor-made to beat Chaos units, get them in a Flank and watch them go – its carnage. Take two units if possible.

Warmachines are fairly straight forward.  The Steam Tank is a beast and you should always take it when possible.  Its hull mounted cannon is a bonus but it’s the D6 plus D3 impact hits per steam point used in moving when it charges is where the real use is. Plough it into units like Chaos Knights and Warriors and watch it mangle them – but stay away from Dragon Ogres unless you’re confident of crippling them in the impact.  Their S7 Great Weapons can do a lot of damage and at 4 wounds each are still durable despite the lack of decent armour or high toughness. The steam turret is still useful against Chaos despite their smaller units and generally high toughness.  One bad roll for armour saves can still be crippling if you ramp it up to S4 so keep an eye out for opportunities to use it.

Take at least one Cannon, preferable two – there’s multitude of fast-moving units with either high armour or multiple wounds running around for you to shoot at: Skull crushers, Dragon Ogres, Chariots, Chaos Knights, Slaughterbrutes etc. Back these up with a Volley Gun and Engineer (he’s a must).  Chaos players are terrified of the Helblaster and rightly so – it can and will remove entire units when it fires using the Engineers BS and re-roll, and will also act as an area denial weapon.

A few other things I’ve found useful are Greatswords and the Celestial Hurricanum.  Greatswords are a 50/50 for a lot of Empire players as they’re expensive, but against Chaos Warriors their weapons can wreak havoc against their tough units. Put a Battle Standard bearer in the unit and they will (almost) never ever run away. Cold blooded, unmodified leadership 8 with a re-roll is nearly impossible to break and it’s easier to just slay the entire unit, and although expensive they are very hard to get points out of because of this.  The Hurricanum enjoys the benefit being something of a wild card as well providing some reliable effects. The +1 to hit 6” bubble is valuable beyond measure for your troop blocks and means that when you do finally get to hit back, those numbers you’ve sunk your points into will do some serious damage.  It also provides an extra power dice to help get those all-important spells off, and that means the random weather spell is a bit of a bonus afterthought really – you’d take it for the first two reasons alone.

And last but no means least, we have the characters – Empire armies rely very heavily on them and thankfully they’re cheap.  First up is a Captain upgraded to a Battle Standard Bearer and he really is non-negotiable as it will be the rock of your entire army. Back him up with as with a few Warrior priests where you think you’ll need them and you should have a pretty formidable formation all benefitting from each others abilities. After you include the previously mentioned Engineer for the Helblaster, you just need some Magical firepower in the form of some wizard levels – Level 2 or more, it’s up to you really. As you don’t have to worry about any spells coming back your way you can put as much or as little into magic levels as you want. Lore of Metal really hurts Khorne with their sky-high armour saves so I take at least one Wizard with that lore in my army. The biggest choice you will face in your character selection is who to make your general.  A Wizard Lord gives you access to the very desirable Ld 9 and can hang back from the battle line relatively safe.  Another good choice is to make one of the Warrior Priests an Arch Lector, who can sit in your battle line and benefit the whole formation with his leadership and prayers – just remember to protect him adequately.

Things like Grand Masters and Generals are good but typically being mounted they tend to move away from your force so the army doesn’t usually benefit from the leadership bonus.  Sitting still in units are a waste of points for what a cheaper character can do – and if you do want them to go charging off to plough through enemy units you really have to invest the points in his unit and his magic items – which all significantly weakens the rest of your army.  Besides, who’s stupid enough to actually go chasing a Khorne army?

So based on what I’ve gone over, in a 3000 point list you should have a unit roster looking something like this:

Captain – BSB

Wizard/s

Engineer

Arch Lector/Warrior Priests/s

Halberdier Block  x2

Small Halberdier Unit  x2

Inner Circle Knights Block

Archer detachment  x2

Demigryphs  x2

Greatsword Block

Outriders

Great Cannon  x2

Steam Tank

Helblaster Volley Gun

Celestial Hurricanum

Don’t be under any illusions, its hard work getting it all to fit – there just never seems to be enough points when making Empire lists – but it can be done. Some sacrifices will need to be made depending on how many magic levels you want or how many points you wish to invest in magic items.  A few things can easily be trimmed to free up points like the Outriders or one of the small halberdier units, but by including at least most of the units above you should have a flexible and tough army that your opponent will struggle to do any meaningful damage to.

In the next part we’ll look at deploying the army to get the maximum benefit out of each unit and how to use them once battle is joined.

-Lee

Forge World Empire Landship – A Review

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When the idea for ‘A Tale of Two Armies’ was first mooted, the understandable wrangling over which armies we would collect ensued with both Phil and I swinging between various options.  The decision to collect an Empire army, and then base it on my Marienburger warband I collected for Mordheim, was swung in the end by a very large and very impressive model – The Empire’s Marienburg Class Landship from Forgeworld.

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When I first laid eyes on it I just knew it would be the centre piece for my Empire army, serving as Ludvig von Bomberg’s (ahem) Flagship.  The character of the army was to include the weird and wonderful – and most expensive pieces a general could ever wish for, and this was a perfect fit.  And I reasoned any Marienburger with the means to own such a mighty machine of war would insist on riding in it personally over a mere horse, or Sigmar forbid, on foot.  Unfortunately the rules don’t allow for it to be used as either a mount or a Chariot (they really should look into that) so he would only ever be present as a decoration. The kit even comes with a suitable character model in the form of the ship’s Captain – along with 5 other crewmen.  All are fantastic sculpts in their own right and represent great value for money if you were to weigh up how much a set of 6 would cost to purchase separately.

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The fine sculpting doesn’t stop with the crew either, the whole model is covered in nice details – like the individually designed shields covering the fo’castle, or the figurehead that’s seen better days.  All these details on a model of this size make it quite daunting to tackle painting wise, the photographs on the Forgeworld website show it in comparison to things like a Giant and a Steam Tank, and it’s no less impressive in the flesh – it’s massive, and will tower over most things.  Thankfully, the hull and boiler are cast together in just two very hefty pieces which helps cut down on the number of parts (of which there are still many), but it does mean a lot of time and effort needs to go into making sure these fit together as perfectly as possible and a lot of dry fitting and test assembly is recommended.  Unfortunately due its size and complexity, the Landship falls firmly into the category of subassemblies, which will need painting separately and then putting together afterwards – which is something I’m always keen to avoid but is understandable on something this size.  For example, the location of the cannon makes the area impossible to paint if the fo’castle is glued in place – and still difficult if not.  And the mast is definitely a piece to leave gluing in until last as it obstructs the whole interior. Ditto the Skaven Doomwheel-esque rear wheels.

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Rules wise, the Landship is not quite the beast I would have expected – especially given its points cost.  Offensively it falls significantly short of the only model you could really compare it to – the Steam Tank.  Its cannon is the lighter Strength 7 version instead of the standard 10, and it doesn’t have the same destructive potential in combat, doing only D6 impact hits compared with the D6 plus D3 per Steam Point expended in moving for the Steam Tank.  It does have the advantage of having Thunderstomp and close combat attacks to win a combat with – but it’s only D6 attacks at a lowly Weapon Skill and Strength of 3.  In comparison to the Steam Tank’s ‘Grind’, which again does D3 automatic hits per Steam Point at its usual Strength of 6, you’d have to say again the Steam Tank is the better.  The Land Ship’s secondary ranged attack of a Fusillade comprising D6 Hand Gun shots is not really something you can compare with the Steam Gun on the Tank as they are very different weapons, but with the premium placed on template weapons in 8th Edition Warhammer, yet again the Steam Tank is looking the winner.  Weapon for weapon, it’s quite easy to see which unit will be doing the most damage on the battlefield.

Defensively it’s a bit more even.  They have the same toughness of 6, and although the Steam Tank has the better Armour save of 1+ to the Landship’s 3+, the Landship has 2 more wounds (for a whopping 12!) and a 6+ Ward Save.  It also doesn’t have to rely on Steam Point generation to carry out its actions and potentially damage itself in the process.

They are of course very similar machines with merely a slightly different focus. The Steam Tank has the sheer brute force and damage potential, whereas the Landship is the more reliable (somehow!) of the two and more likely to see the end of the battle, even if it does have a scarily unforgiving misfire table for when it goes wrong – just pray you don’t roll a double 1 or 6 when charging.

Generally I can see myself using the Landship to proxy a second Steam Tank most of the time and then using it as intended for larger battles or special scenarios.  It’s an effective war machine that will terrify your opponent through its sheer size if not its damage output, but at 300 points it’s a tough decision as to whether it will be worth the points.  It’s certainly a hard task for your opponent to get points out of it and the non-reliance on Steam generation is a definitive advantage – but is it enough to overlook the raw destructive power of the 50 point cheaper Steam Tank (who I’ve just remembered also has an Engineer with another gun)?  If it was based on looks alone it’s an all hands down yes, but as always the choice is yours.

Lee

The Empire Marienburg Class Landship is available from Forgeworld priced £118.50

Mordheim: City of the Damned – factions and more details

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Since our last post about the Mordheim: City of the Damned PC game, Rogue Factor have been busy working away on the game, but luckily not so busy that their lead developer couldn’t spend some time to talk to the strategy informer website about the progress they’ve been making.

The interview covers a nice amount of ground, but without masses of detail, but the key highlights are:

Core factions

The main playable factions announced so far are:

    • The Empire
    • Skaven
    • Sisters of Sigmar
    • Cult of the Possessed

It sounds as though the campaign will involve plenty of the other ‘usual suspects’ (how you keep the constituent races of the Warhammer world a secret is a little beyond me, but hey ho) possibly as fully playable factions, possibly as cameo or mission-driven elements. It’s also not yet decided whether the single player campaign will allow you to play heroes and villains, so far it’s just The Empire, apparently.

Proper warbands

It looks like the full range of on-going conditions are likely to be present in the game, with the ability to hire in new members for your warband, permanent injuries (like losing an arm) and even death.

We’ll be able to customise equipment, gain experience for warband members and even hand-pick which team to use for each particular mission or match up. It sounds as though some factions may have built-in restrictions in terms of equipment use (Sisters of Sigmar can’t used ranged weapons) so each warband should have its own particular flavour that matches the Warhammer fluff.

Wyrdstone weirdness and magical chaos

One interesting addition is the role of wyrdstone as both the major ‘currency’ but also as an element with an in-game effect. Picking up wyrdstone may trigger something suitably chaotic and it sounds as though you might even be able to try to actively ‘use’ it to swing things your way. We also get spell casters in the game, but the designers decided to use the chaotic origins of magic to perhaps make it less game-changing than it otherwise might have been, again through the use of random consequences from its use.

Campaign and dynamic maps

Players in multiplayer games will be able to switch between procedurally generated (i.e. pseudo-random) maps and the campaign maps, so things should be kept interesting.

Games Workshop enthusiasts

One of the key things with Rogue Factor is that they appear to be tabletop gamers through and through. As you’ll see if you go and read the interview for yourself they have a real desire to get things right for the Warhammer fans, not simply in terms of making the 3D renders match up with expectations but also in terms of creating a game that reflects that original sense that Mordheim the tabletop game gives you of a grimy city crawling with critters, with everyone struggling for survival and influence. If they get the ongoing warband elements right and get you to really care about one-armed Jim in the same way that I’m sure we all mourned when our best bowman lost an eye, then it should be a cracking game – it’d certainly get me to dust off my PC again!

 

The Shell Case does Salute – Lee

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s Lee’s thoughts:

Lee

This year’s Salute is going to be a little different for me.  With my new role as Deputy Editor and increased responsibilities within The Shell Case, this time round will be significantly more business focused than previously.  Whereas last year I visited each stand and cooed approvingly at their products whilst Phil chatted to his contacts (or attempted to make new ones), this time I must attempt to join in the conversations – whilst cooing approvingly at their products. Hopefully I can pick up a few things and acquaint myself with those who support us. We also have some new companies we are interested in working with, and Salute brings many exciting possibilities.

The most important stop I must make on the day is…the Forgeworld stand (I’m only human, and a wargamer).  I should be taking delivery of a Sicaran Battle Tank and a set of Phoenix Guard Terminators – so I’m very excited (and maybe even a Mannan’s Blades bundle depending on how the day, and the wallet goes). I have a Helblaster shaped hole to fill in my Empire army (Phil will be pleased) and I’m also going to be keeping an eye out for some good quality modelling hardware – a Paint Station, some Micro Magnets and the like.  Aside from that, I’ll just see where my wandering takes me.

I’m also looking forward to meeting up with my fellow writers at The Shell Case (those that can make it) now being more familiar with their work – along with anyone else that wants to say hi.  In all honesty, the 12th can’t come soon enough.

Empire Steam Tank – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAs Phil made the fairly straight forward to decision to get another battalion box to give him his next 500 points (and beyond) I had to do something thinking about what would best to deal with even more blood crazed, heavily armoured hard nuts. The obvious option was more cannons but I decided that nothing with a little bit more manoeuvrability…

Warhammer-logo

To the whistle of escaping steam and the clank and grind of pistons and gears, the Empire Steam Tank has rolled into my possession.  Excited?  Me? Yup.

When I initially ran the rule over the new incarnation of the Steam Tank I was unconvinced.  A lot had been done to reduce the models effectiveness in-game and even with a significant points reduction it seemed to be a choice of vanity over necessity and potentially a point sink.  However, reading how others used them in their games I realised it was still an immensely useful unit but in a different way – a way very much in keeping with the current Empire list (for better or worse depending on your opinion).

SteamTank

The biggest grumble had been the reduction of its Toughness from 10 to 6 making it far more vulnerable to damage from higher strength enemies – followed by the Steam Gun no longer ignoring armour saves blunting its teeth considerably.  My main concern was the new steam generation method meant you could misfire even at full wounds. When combined with the lower toughness and thus increased damage being sustained it could be seen as a bit of a liability as there would be a 1 in 3 chance of misfiring after taking just a single wound. Which is a bit shit.

The misfire table could be mitigated somewhat by limiting the amount of steam you produced – but that meant losing yet more effectiveness from the unit. The cannon was better (now just a standard Great Cannon with variable range) and the point cost had gone down by 50 to 250 points, but like I said, I was still unconvinced.

However, the consensus seems to be that regardless of its perceived reduced output, its use as a roadblock to tie up dangerous units was still unrivalled and worth the price of entry alone.  The improved cannon also meant that if all else fails it could still be used as a piece of artillery without the need for a unit to babysit it.  The misfire table, although inconvenient, is more forgiving than its previous version, so although you will misfire more often it will be less severe and you should still be able to do at least something most of the time. The all-conquering all-powerful Steam Tank of old had gone, and in its place was a leaner machine which had to be used more tactically to get the most benefit out of it for the good of your army. Able to hold up, divert and mitigate enemy strong points but not necessarily kill them, it at would at least buy you the time needed for your plan to work.

It all points to the ‘combined arms’ approach that The Cruddace seemed to have been aiming for with rather iffy success. And of course, it’s all still theoretical for me having yet to use it in a game (coming soon), but it has at least convinced me it still has its uses in an army where every point is precious, and I can’t wait it try it out.

The kit itself it wonderfully simple to assemble whilst still being crammed with detail and possessing a refreshing degree of sturdiness. It’s a far, and welcome, cry from the old metal kit which was utter misery to build and required near pro-sculpting skills to plug and smooth all the gaps between components.

There are a few nice choices to make too, like which cannon barrel to choose (I went with the hexagonal one) and what to hang off the tail hook.  You don’t even have to attach the heraldry with it all being separate enabling you to field a stripped down, more aggressive looking vehicle. Which is actually way cool and side steps the recurring grumble that everyone’s models look pretty much the same, despite being a plastic multi-part kit.

The Engineer you get with it is ace and comes with a multitude of options for his head, arms/weapons choice, and if you’re smart you don’t have to permanently glue him in and can use him on foot. There are a few gripes however, firstly the size of the finished kit – I’m sure the old metal version used to be bigger.  Don’t get me wrong, it more than fills it’s base and will stand as tall as any cavalry unit (minus the lances) but it is a tank and I would have thought it’s transition to plastic would mean it could have grown in size rather than shrink.

Secondly, speaking of the old metal kit, does anyone remember the mail order only variants? You had the fighting platform variant, the mortar variant, the battering ram etc. They were great fun and worked well with the Empire’s tendency to tinker and innovate.  Again with the transition to plastic along with GW’s love of giving you model options rather than the actual models themselves, it seems to me to be another missed opportunity to do something a bit special.  Up the price slightly, throw in an extra frame, and you’ve got a kit that can fulfil multiple roles –again in keeping with army character of having a tool for every job.

Overall it is a very good kit – the model really is one of the better ones.  My gripes aside, I’m just a bit too fond of the good ‘ol days, you’ll not be disappointed in its appearance or its performance.  It’s a piece you can really go to town on painting wise and it will take pride of place at the forefront of your army once you’ve finished driving it around the tabletop whilst making funny noises (you know the ones).  Who knows, if all goes well you may even want to take two – much to your opponents dismay.  Good luck and happy grinding.

Sadly the Empire Steam Tank is no longer available from Firestorm Games due to a change in GW’s trade range but there’s plenty to choose from, prices starting at £8.10.

Empire Demigryph Knights – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

The second unit of reinforcements for my 1,000 point list comes in the form of the new and very promising Demigryph Knights.  I mentioned in the Wizard review that I needed to give my force some more teeth, well it turned out to be some beak instead.  And claws, lots of claws.

Warhammer-logo

I don’t know about you but I really like the models for the Demigryph Knights. They have the right balance of fantasy and functionality that, for me, is required in an Empire army. The oversized heavy plate barding gives them a real sense of war worthiness: something to keep all but the pointiest of sticks at bay, all the while the Demigryphs get down to the business of ripping off faces.

Their riders are regal and imposing with just a tinge of arrogance to them, which is exactly as they should be seeing as they’re knights. Riding on Demigryphs. With big sticks. Of the three poses for the Demigryphs themselves, one is awesome, one is good, and the last one is a bit meh – it’s cocking its head to the side which although accurate fluff wise, is a little too much like an oversized chocobo for me. Younger readers will have to Google what one of those is. You young whipper snappers. They really are another unit goes under the ‘reward’ title for painting as they look great and as there’s only three of them you’ll stay the course in terms of effort.

Demigryphs

When Games Workshop started to release Monstrous Cavalry for the various armies I wasn’t sure if the Empire would even get any at all, or if they did, what would the mounts be as the Pegasus had sort of been bagsied by the Bretonnians – despite it still being a mount choice in the Empire book. The use of a ‘half’ griffon made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of it before, which is a good sign as the decision is a little obvious in hindsight and makes total sense. Rare praise for Games Workshop these days.  And in doing so has given the Empire a unit capable of actually doing some real damage in combat (honestly).

The Knights themselves are fantastic, and just make me weep over the missed opportunity that is the old Knightly Order kit even more.  The heads are great, gifting you the pleasure of choosing which ones to leave out rather than which ones to include – likewise for the shields, plenty of good choice with a nice range. The stylization of certain armour elements into pointed beak shapes works very well and really tells the story that these guys are an elite unit rather than Knights given Demigryphs to ride for the day. All the weapons arms/options included look good enough to make you pause for a difficult aesthetic choice. If and when the old Knights do get a new kit, if they look anything like this there will be much rejoicing in the street, songs will be sung, mead will be drunk and babies will be named in honour of the sculptor. I’m predicting a significant rise in the number of Empire cavalry armies you’ll see galloping around what with them being a pretty good investment for the points.

Rules wise, you couldn’t ask for much more as an Empire player: the Demigryph Knights are a unit to be feared by almost anything. [Except Skullcrushers! -Ed.]  The Demigryph itself kicks out 3 Strength 5 attacks basic plus another for its Stomp for a total of 4 at Strength 5, and then the already Inner Circle Knight on its back adds another at either Strength 5 or 6 depending on how you arm them.  But this is where one of the very few annoyances rears its head: if you choose to equip them with halberds instead of lances (which is a choice most people would usually go for) there’s no rules exception for using a halberd while mounted so you lose your shield.  The 1+ armour save is a big deal for mounted units and sacrificing it for an extra point of Strength is not a decision to be taken lightly – and most seem to have stuck with the Lances as a result.  I fail to see why the Halberd could not have been an upgrade rather than a free weapon swap and let you still use the shield – as represented on the models themselves.

But still, with a box of three being able to chuck out up to 16 attacks at Strength 5 or 6, they can tear apart small to medium-sized units and elites really have a lot to fear as the Demigryphs have the armour-piercing rule to boot giving them -3 to armour saves.  With the errata on Monstrous Cavalry stating you use the higher value for both Wounds and Toughness now, you’ve also got a unit that is now quite resilient too at Toughness 4, 1+ armour save and 3 wounds each.  Deliver them into an enemy flank and they’ll eat anything. Someone even mathed out that they can beat Skull Crushers in straight up combat as the Initiative 4 on the Demigryph means it goes before the Juggernaut, and that’s at 12 points less per model too. [It’s worth noting though that the article go the Skullcrushers armour save wrong so it’s probably about even. -Ed.] It’s just a pity you can’t take them as character mounts so they can lead a unit, but maybe that is just taking the cracker.

Demigryph Knights are available from Firestorm Games priced £30.15.

A Tale of Two Armies – 1,000 point lists

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

As we hurtle towards the end of October we’re also fast approaching the next game Lee and I slog out for A Tale of Two Gamers. This month it’s a one thousand point game of fisticuffs. Surprisingly it was me that took the longest to write my army list as although the units I was adding was simple enough – Skullcrushers & Knights – it was the tweaking and jiggling about to get the most out of my army as possible, which primarily revolved around keeping my hero alive. And adding a little juice to make life unpleasant for his Imperial foes.

So, for your reading pleasure Lee & I humbly submit to you our 1,000 point army lists.

Khorne

Exalted Champion – 110 points – von Strauss the Red

Mark of Khorne +10

Enchanted Shield +5

Sword of Battle +20

Hideous Visage +5

Soul Feeder +10

Total 160 points

 

10 Chaos Warriors – 140 points

Mark of Khorne +20

Shields +10

Total 170 points

 

15 Marauders – 90 points

Mark of Khorne + 30

Light Armour +15

Shields +15

Chieftain +10

Standard +10

Total 170 points

 

6 Warhounds – 36 points

Total 36 points

 

5 Knights of Chaos – 200 points

Mark of Khorne +10

Ensorcelled Weapons +15

Total 225 points

 

3 Skullcrushers of Khorne – 225 points

Ensorcelled Weapons +9

Total 234 points

 

Overall Total 995 points

 Empire

Captain – 60 points – Baron Ludwig von Bomburg

Full Plate Armour +6

Sword of Might +20

Enchanted Shield +5

Handgun +5

Total 96 points

 

Battle Wizard – 65 points – Jurgen the Wyrd

Level 2 +35

Total 100 points

 

34 Spearmen – 170 points

Sergeant, Standard Bearer & Musician +30

Total 200

 

10 Halberdiers – 60 points

Total 60 points

 

10 Hand Gunners 90 points

Total 90 points

 

5 Archers – 35 points

Total 35 points

 

5 Knights – 110 points

Inner Circle +15 points

Total 125

 

3 Demigryph Knights – 174 points

Total 174 points

 

Great Cannon – 120 points

Total 120 points

 

Overall Total 1,000 points

A Tale of Two Armies – The First 500

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

Lee and I have been debating, deliberating and…something else beginning with ‘d’ to come up with our first 500 point army lists. We decided that the most effective way of kicking things off would be to base them on the contents of the Warhammer Battalion boxes. This would also give us a healthy jump on the next 500 points we’d have to get built and painted next month.

So we give you the first 500…points.

Khorne

Exalted Champion – von Strauss the Red – 110 points
Mark of Khorne +10
Additional Hand Weapon +3
TOTAL 123 points

10 Chaos Warriors – 140 points
Mark of Khorne +20
Shields +10
TOTAL 170 points

15 Chaos Marauders – 90 points
Mark of Khorne +30
Light Armour +15
Shields +15
Chieftan +10
Standard +10
TOTAL 170 points

6 Chaos Warhounds – 36 points
TOTAL 36 points

chaos

OVERALL TOTAL 499 points

Empire

Captain – Ludwig von Bomburg – 60 points
Full Plate Armour +6
Sword of Might +20
Enchanted Shield +5
TOTAL 91 points

19 Halberdiers – 114 points
Sergeant +10
Standard +10
Musician +10
TOTAL 144 points

5 Archers (detachment) – 35 points
TOTAL 35 points

5 Imperial Knights – 110 points
Greatweapons – FREE
TOTAL 110 points

Great Cannon – 120 points
TOTAL 120 points

Empire2

OVERALL TOTAL 500 points