A picture surfaced today from the Russian (???) Games Day: The Plastic Wraithlord has finally been revealed in all his splendor.

Let's ignore the stunning new Scorpion Exarch on his right and the two thingies to his left. Let's talk about the Wraithlord.

Here's what I like:
- He's plastic. I love that.
- His joints are ball-socket. The main complaint I have about the current Wraithlord is that he's very, very difficult to pose in anything except the most boring manner. This new guy? He'll look amazing.
- A variety of weapons and armaments.
- Nice looking base.
- He's lost that "Ant Man" look
- He kept the blank faceplate. That was a big thing for me, as I think the blank face goes far to give him the "dead" look that the model needs (it is a Ghost Warrior, after all)

Here's what I don't like:
- The fists look a little clunky

I am in love with this guy. Expect to see many of them posted here when the time comes.

The Careful Battle Against Aarhus

A big piece of area terrain in the middle of the table can really make all the decisions about a game.

This was a 1500 point pickup game between Lawrence, aka Aarhus and I that took place after Bill and I wrapped up (batrep coming soon). Incidentally, the diference between my 1500 point list and my 1700 is some Shuriken Cannons, some Wargear and some Witchblades. :) Nothing you can see, for the most part.

Some observations:
- All ten Dark Reapers went into a building with Fortifications and Medkit strategems. That, combined with Fortune, made them almost unkillable.
- The giant piece of area terrain in the middle, however, meant that they didn't kill anything else.
- It's worth it to huck the D Cannons up the table for 4 turns so that you can get a great shot on the 5th or 6th.
- Fury of the Ancients is frustrating as hell. Utterly unstoppable and no restrictions whatsoever in terms of range or line of sight. He kept running it through two or three squads at a time and it was driving me crazy.
- Wraithlords are great. It's not that they are monsters, as they don't move very fast and they have somewhat limited firing power... but they're solid. They always give me a nice, dependable shooter that doesn't have to cower in terror because a bolter might pop out of nowhere. Two Wraithlords took a few casualties. No world records set... but, as usual, they were a good anchor.
- The Psychic Hood is a broken piece of Wargear.

In the end, it was very close. Neither of us took many casualties (I lost two crewmen from my D Cannons, and that was it. He lost half a Devastator Squad and a Dreadnought). Due to the fact that his Librarian took one wound, I got extra points and eked out a win. Lawrence went a little green (as it was his fault; that wound was lost to Perils of the Warp), but was a good sport about it.

Yay, Lawrence for not being a big baby!

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Beta 1 falls

The name of the game is to grab the objectives and hold on for dear life.

Secure and Control Gamma at 1500 points, 2 on 2. Ryan and James (Black Legion and Def Skullz) against myself and Brent (Biel Tan and Dark Angels). The region was Beta 1 in the Forge Primus campaign (of which I've spoken several times) and, for the record, this may have been one of the weightiest games of the entire campaign. You see, "Control Points" (the currency by which participants move forward) are awarded based on several factors. The winner, naturally, gets some points. You also get more points if the players are both campaign participants, if they're in the same region, if it's a megabattle, if it's a grudge match (i.e. part of an ongoing series of games between the same opponents), if there's fluff, and if there's a battle report. We had all of that. You can imagine, therefore, that while the game was friendly, no-one wanted to lose.

In the end, Brent and I held all three objectives (worth 1000 points each) and had significantly whittled down the ranks of the enemy in almost every section of the table. As the game was careening into turns 5 and 6, large numbers of Trukk Boyz, a Warboss, a Painboss and a rhino full of Chaos tac marines were beaten into submission on one flank by assault marines and striking scorpions. On the other flank, more marines and boyz were beaten back by a Wraithlord, an Attack Bike and lots of gunire, and the central objective was grabbed by a Wraithlord who helped to push out two killa kans an a looted leman russ.

The Chaos/Ork side was not without its victories, however; a lot of Dark Reapers bit the dust, a lot of weapons were blown off of Wave Serpents, and my D-Cannons were driven off the table before they fired a single shot. One of the biggest speed bumps for them, however, was early in the game when an errant squad of killa kans wandered right into the perfect position to block several volleys of fire from a Havoc squad. I think that if those guys had gotten more shots off in that first turn (especially with the Kans later getting immobilized and stuck in that position which blocked the firing lane), things might have been brighter for the enemy team.

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Black Storm in the City of Death

The title has a good ring to it, doesn't it?

Grudge match versus Bill's Black Storm Chaos army (Bill... you can write the fluff part, ok?). This was my first full-on game of Cities of Death. Let me tell you: If you haven't tried it yet, I encourage you to do so. I thought it was going to be a really difficult thing with lots of special rules to memorize, but it was nothing of the sort. Pick a mission, pick some strategems, go kill something. It's really very quick to start (which, to me, seems like an indicator of how well-designed it is). Bill took "Power Generator" for his Defiler (which I killed on turn 2 anyhow) and "Deep Strike" for his Obliterators. I took "Fortification" for a building with Dark Reapers in it, and "Preliminary Bombardment", which did a wound on his Demon Prince.

It was something of a game of ring-around the rosey. 1500 points of the "Domination" mission, and a big piece of area terrain in the middle of the table. Bill always likes putting a big area terrain "no go" zone there because he doesn't like getting his head blown off by Dark Reapers.

This was also the first time in my life (at least that I can remember) trying out a Court of the Young King. It's flufffy, it looks great, the statline of that unit is absolutely staggering and... once it hits the table it's almost totally useless. See, here's the thing: The enemy will (not "might"... will) blast it to bits before you get it to do anything significant. First of all, it's slow moving and can't deep strike or get in a vehicle... so you're going to walk it everywhere, 6" per turn. Second, its shooting powers will be modest at best. Third, if it gets into hand to hand with *anything*, that thing will probably die instantly. Most enemies know this. Worst of all, they also know that it's a crapload of victory points on feet. Not only will they blow it to kingdom come before it touches anything, they'd be stupid not to. People tell me different things, like "Oh, it works well in big games" or "If you surrounded it by Guardians, it'll work", or "Best to escort it with some Wraithlords", but you know what? I love the Court on paper and as a modeling unit and blah blah blah but I will never, ever field it again. Bill Autocannoned the unit (Avatar and 3 Fire Dragon Exarchs, which was all I had painted) into confetti and I watched about 270 points turn into fertilizer... without it killing a single thing. Nosir. That's not for me.

In the end, it was a draw. Very tight game. He held 3 buildings. I did the same. He needed to kill just one more Dark Reaper to bring it down to a non-scoring unit and... nearly, but not quite. His last shot of the game... hit, wounded and I made my 4+ save with a roll of 4+.


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While we're on the subject of "Goals"...

Check out this post I made about my goals for Warhammer 40k. How am I doing? Let's look at the "to do" items and see what's still left.

- Top the challenge board at Deep Space
Update: I'm close. One tier down from the top. It'll be a fair amount of playing to get that top position and stay there (at absolute minimum I have to win 4 games in a row to do it, and I don't know if that'll happen).

- Play at this year's Conflict event
Update: I skipped it. It was on the same weekend I was with my kids.

- Finish my Iyanden army
Update: Not quite there yet. I can field a comfortable 1250, a lean 1500-1700... but nothing more, really. I'd like to get a few more key things into the army (like that Phoenix flyer) and finish all the painting. I'm not goin gto aim for something nutty like 4000 points, but a nice comfortable 2000 would be nice.

- Finish an Ulthwe Strike Force army under the new codex rules
Update: Haven't even started yet. That won't come into being until at least October/November.

- Do well in this year's Deep Space Campaign: The War for Forge Primus
Update: It's done in just over a week or two... and I'm doing well, I think. I'll be pushing to finish on a high note.

- Do well in this year's GW Campaign (The Fall of Medusa V)
Update: I'm gonna skip it. I'm not that interested in it and I don't want to constantly be feeling a pressure to play more... especially when I'm just a drop in the bucket.

- To finish a cityfight addition for my Eldar table.
Update: Got concept drawings. I'll be doing some more on that, probably when the Forge Primus campaign is over.


That's the thing about cheese...

For the record, I don't blame Marty.

I am participating in two online Warhammer 40k thingies which are both based on Deep Space (my favorite 40k web forum). One is an online campaign called Forgeworld Primus (it's a lot like Medusa V, but it's mostly made up of Ottawa-area players). The other is a challenge ladder that I'm scrambling to get to the top of. Both of these endeavors include my friend Marty (against whom I have fought before, and whose army you might recognize from pictures in earlier posts of this blog). Though he's not particularly active in Forgeworld Primus, he *is* at the top of the challenge ladder, and I have to knock him off. Those of you who follow my blog will also know that succeeding in the Forge Primus campaign and getting to the top of the challenge ladder are goals for me.

1250 points. Alpha-level Secure and Control is what it ended up being. I made my list about a week ago and did something I never thought I'd do: Take three Wraithlords. That's right: The world's favorite example of how to build a cheesy army had finally, for the first time, made it into one of my lists. I felt dirty doing it, that's for sure, and spent the week asking friends if I was going to go to hell for this. Oddly enough, a lot of people seemed to think it was fine, but that's probably beside the point. The important thing, however, is this: You can't decide what is and what isn't cheese from what other people say. This is a hard lesson for me, as I am adept at conforming to the status quo and then using those constraints to excel within a framework. In this case I was doing the thing you don't do. The list was basically like this:
- Two squads of Dark Reapers with Exarchs, each Fortuned by a Farseer
- Striking Scorpions and Exarch in a Wave Serpent
- Three Wrathlords

The thing is, the challenge board is meant for the hardest of hardcore armies. This is understood by all participants. No-one in our little online community is allowed to bitch about cheesy lists in the challenge board. Other places, sure... but not there. It's the safe haven for people who want to play the really hardcore, no holds-barred games. Secondly, Marty and I talk from time to time and he has been very clear that he sees nothing wrong with three Wraithlords. He isn't scared of them and doesn't see them as a bad thing. The combination of these two facts emboldened me to take the three Wraithlords this one time.

More to the point, however, I don't find them particularly hard to kill... and they don't dish out so much firepower that you have to constantly run for your life. They're pretty good in hand-to-hand, but they move so slowly that you'd be an idiot to let yourself get charged.

The day came and we hit the table. It was a very, very small table... not even 4X4. Maybe more like 3X3. I took Marty aside and told him that three WL's were coming his way, and he seemed a little anxious, but non-judgmental about it. The game started and we were off.

Marty got first turn and started killing things right away. Eldar players will tell you how it sucks not to get first turn (because you can't get your psychic powers off in time to help yourself), and this was certainly a good example. Then, the Librarian and his stupid psychic hood (a piece of wargear which I consider to be flat-out, no excuses about it broken). Fortuned continued to fail and Reapers just fell left right and center.

Then out came the four Assault Cannons. Let me just tell you: Never again will I feel guilty about fielding three Wraithlords... ever. Two of them went down so fast it almost gave me a nosebleed. The third tottered around trying to get a bead on something to kill, but it never happened.

When the Wave Serpent got killed and the Scorpions were entangled for one turn and then pinned the next (thanks to Fury of the Ancients), it was all over. I conceded in turn 5.

Lessons learned? 1250 points on a 3X3 table is just as cramped and claustrophobic as 2000 points on a 6X4... put more stuff in a good hiding place in first turn, even if it means you have to move your Reapers to get a good line of sight later... and just accept that the psychic hood is never, ever going away. Oh, and grab some cover when the Assault Cannons come out.

Anyhow, here are five neat pictures of Marty's army and one picture of my Wraithlord, hiding.

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Step Two

Working on this Wraithlord a little more.

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I've commented before on how static the standard Wraithlord pose is and how much of a pain it is converting them, but this guy is starting to look pretty nice and that does make it all worth it. The gun is mounted in the hand with a magnet so I can swap it out if I want to. The other hand will hold a banner pole, and there'll be pictures of that before too long.

In other news, I like blue.


The Iyanden Eyeball

The Wraithlord is sort of hit-and-miss. On the one hand, it's so plain and uninteresting that a talented, inspired painter/modeler can make it into a thing of amazing beauty. On the other hand, if you don't have that talent or inspiration, it wilts in your hands.

I normally prefer to keep the huge, blank "face" of the Wraithlord empty. I'm not a person who believes that you have to try to fill every empty space. This time, however, I'm going for something slightly different. I did this quickly, I did it in one take, and I'm going to clean it up in the morning.

What it does qualify as, however, is inspiration. I like the direction this is going in.


Bad Dreams

I had a dream last night that I was being stalked through my house by a Space Marine Terminator.

I seriously need to stop eating spicy food before bedtime.


Comparing Paintjobs

It's not about being proud or arrogant, but there are times when it feels good to take a moment and measure the distance between where you've been and where you are. This, for instance, was the peak of what I could muster about 18 months ago, while this is the kind of thing I'm doing now. I think in another 18 months I'll maybe try another comparison and see how it looks.

Inquisitor: Hephaestus IX

Once you have completed your tasks on Ganymede, the Traders whom you have been charged to protect will feel the cold chill of evil relentlessly tracking them. They will trust you at this point, however, for showing naught but intent to defend and protect them and their interests. They will offer you passage from Ganymede, and you are to travel with them, but not as one of them; When they consult, let them do so amongst themselves, for you must be consumed in meditation to prepare for that which will soon come to pass. Their plans and goals are incidental, for their fates have already been decided, did they but know it.

The Traders will feel an urgency to complete their business transactions in the sector as quickly as possible in order to retreat sooner to safer regions. In order to do this, they will elect to split up and carry out their various meetings and transactions separately. Then, once they have regrouped in six days, they expect that they will make haste to flee to a distant system. Again, their plans are inconsequential, as they will not unfold as planned.

The human traders will travel each to a different planet to conclude their business, and each will be in safety. They will not require your presence among them and are no cause for concern. The Tau Emissary named Kale'os Un'varas, however, will seek to complete an exchange on Hephaestus IX. You must accompany him on this voyage, for he will be in great danger once he arrives there, and death will attempt to lay its hand on his heart many times before one hour on the planet's surface has passed. It is imperative that it not claim him, and the duty to protect him will fall upon you. Though the loss of a single mortal life may seem serious among the young races of the galaxy, you must understand a greater purpose: If this Tau does not survive Hephaestus IX, many galaxies will fall under the heel of great evil and the light of a dozen Craftworlds will be extinguished. Though his purpose is hard to discern at this time, we have forseen that soon the fate of this one soul will determine the destiny of a thousand worlds.

For a thousand years, Hephaestus IX has been an unimportant world in itself, mostly populated with stupid Orks and almost-as-stupid traitor Imperials who seek to avoid the eye of their Emperor, but the face of that planet has changed considerably in the past several weeks. The Hive Fleet Daerkatta has been noticed by the humans as hastening a trajectory towards Terra Prime. Predictably, they have pursued a poorly-considered recourse to divert the Tyranids; a beacon has been planted on Hephaestus IX by Imperial scientists which has drawn the Hive Fleet from its course and lured them to deploy their savage Genestealers to its surface. For weeks, the cruel and vicious creatures have clashed with Orks and humans alike, and have become both more fearsome and intelligent. Now, even in this short time since planetfall, the Tyranids control Hephaestus IX, and the few remaining humans and Orks struggle for their existence.

Phase two of the Human plan to draw Daerkatta away from Terra Prime has begun; a sub-sonic agitator has been activated on the planet's surface which will cause the Genestealers to call to the rest of the Hive Fleet and beckon them to invade. Even to those who cannot scry the future, the short-sightedness of this plan is plainly evident, but the Farseers among us have seen that if Hephaestus IX falls to the Hive Fleet Daerkatta, so will numerous other worlds... including Terra Prime itself. It is for this reason that you are charged not only with the protection of the Tau Emissary, but also with the duty of neutralizing the Agitator, so that the Genstealers on Hephaestus IX do not call the forces of Daerkatta to the planet surface.

Weighty as your tasks may be, weightier still is this one last duty: Hephaestus IX is the home to a poor, angry fugitive by the name of Xavier, but you will know him as the Vessel. When you first arrive on the planet's surface, you will instinctively move alone an in the character of the assassin, but you must pause to notice the Vessel immediately, for he will be close. Not only must he live, but you must bring him with you from Hephaestus IX when you depart. If the Vessel is left behind then all else will be in vain. Again, the tasks which fall upon your shoulders while you tread upon Hephaestus IX are many, and fate has chosen a path for you which you would not have chosen for yourself. It is not for us to decide, however, and the exigencies of the time in which we live call us to great sacrifice for the sake of the future. As an Eldar warrior and prodigy, you above all should understand that the future is our charge, for our past has left us broken.

When your feet touch the ground of Hephaestus IX, the Vessel will pay you no heed; he will see you as another unimportant survivor of the Daerkatta Genestealer invasion and seek shelter from the fierce devourers. It will not be until the last moments on Hephaestus IX when you will find him again, but find him you will. At that time, you will know what to do.

Begin your short time in the ruined capital city by searching for the Agitator. At first it will seem impossible to find but, before long, your duty to preserve the life of Kale'os Un'varas will place it in your path. Beware, however; a fierce human warrior tarries near the device and will not suffer intruders. Do not engage him, but be certain that the device has been neutralized, even if not by your own hand.

The talons of Daerkatta scuttle around you and you will witness many deaths, even at a close distance. These should not concern you directly, but continue on your appointed tasks before you are overwhelmed.

When your missions have been carried out and you prepare to flee, you will be kept on Hephaestus IX by an urgent crisis that will arise in the short span of a single heartbeat; the Human Marine will seek to kill Kale'os Un'varas and will come very close to doing so. Only through powers which are Eldar in nature alone will you stave back the aggressor and bring both the Tau and the Vessel to safety.

Be vigilent and swift. Do not be distracted, but take advantage of the distractions of others. Move with a singularly determined speed and cunning and be the boldest among many. You have no time to reflect or pause; the talons of Daerkatta are outstretched not only for the throats of Humans and Orks, but for yours as well.

As Kale'os Un'varas, only having barely escaped death from a bolter shell (which, if not for his helmet, would have decapitated him) ran stunned and weakened to the loading ramp of the shuttle, Xavier the mutant priest followed shortly behind. Though dizzy and aching from a terrible gash in his chest from a furious Genestealer who got a little too close, he managed to reach the loading ramp and find shelter inside of the ship. It was the Eldar who came last, his face turned to the ruined city of Hephaestus IX, making triply sure that his charges had found complete safety before following them. In the passing of a few quickened heartbeats, his eyes met with the enraged visage of the Human Space Marine who sought to kill them for tampering with the Imperial Sub-sonic Agitator. The Marine rushed madly to them, Bolter blazing, seeking violent revenge for being slowed by the Eldar's Haywire Grenade, but he was stopped; the Eldar voice was inside of his mind and spoke to him in the weird voice which mingled with his own sub-consciousness.

"You do not see us, Human..."

"We are to your left... search there..."

"We are behind you... turn quickly..."

"Do you believe your eyes, Human? Check again? Check a second time..."

By the time the hissing, twisting voice of the Eldar psyche had cleared the Marine's head, the shuttle had lifted and was far, far from the ravaged husk that was once Hephaestus IX.

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