Sunday 28 December 2014

Blood Angels on New "32mm" Bases

I was just putting the finishing touches to my Blood Angels re-basing project when the first rumours of a new Blood Angels codex for 2014 surfaced mid-year. Not wanting to go through the pain of pulling weapons off arms or trashing painted models entirely (I'm looking at you, Rechlusiarch!) I stuck with a three colour minimum and played many games while waiting for the right time to start painting the Sons of Sanguinius in detail. Well, not only am I now painting them with different weapons and characters as expected, but Games Workshop have thrown me under the bus with a new base size!

You may recall I had been using the Imperialis Basing Kit (now out of production) for some of my non-power armoured models, so I thought I would extend the theme across to the new base size. The Imperialis kit includes a set of five 50mm bases, so I was able to create some 32mm bases by cutting and rounding off these resin pieces. I also purchased a Manufactorum scenery kit and cut the walls to size, creating some nice bases to match the Imperialis kit. Below you can see the start of my Assault Squad, making use of new Tactical Squad parts to add more Blood Angel details.

I am yet to go over the joins and pin holes with green stuff, but already I love the "stance" of the new models. Sure you may have trouble fitting models in scenery but they certainly won't tip over as much as the 25mm wobbly bases. I also love the way a whole squad of power armour looks, with the amount of board space occupied much more fitting for heavily armoured models.

With my new (basic) airbrush I look forward to quickly painting these guys up ready for battle. Tactical Marines have been a Blood Angels staple for me since Second Edition, add in a Heavy Flamer and they're bound to be my go to unit for 2015, riding in their Razorback. With an extra 12" movement thanks to new psychic powers there's no need for jump packs!

Librarian on the left, Inquisitor on the right. The new base size definitely adds extra height and "look at me" factor for power armoured models. I will probably end up using my Inquisitor as my Warlord as I much prefer the Ordo Xenos Warlord Traits and standard Tactical Objectives than the Blood Angels offerings. Hopefully the smaller base size and weedy looking model will make him less of a target for opponents.

Finally, a comparison between the two base sizes. No overhanging feet, the power armour shoulder guards frame up well with the edges of the 32mm base, and the whole model feels a lot more stable when positioned in difficult terrain. I look forward to sharing some painting progress photos with you in the New Year.

Monday 15 December 2014

Blood Angels 7th Edition Codex Thoughts/Review

As the name of his blog suggests, I am a big fan of red armoured Space Marines, having danced around the board with the (nearly) invincible Mephiston, stuck my tongue out at Daemon Princes and hive Tyrants thanks to Corbulo's 2+ Feel No Pain, and driven my points reduced Objective Secured Land Raiders and Razorbacks over many a Tactical Objective in the latest iteration of the 40k rules. So what does the new codex bring to the table, given all of the examples above have been removed from the Codex? With the Codex in hand for the last two days and the internet seemingly devoid of any analysis other than rules listings I hope to share some of my opinions and ways this book will be changing my army lists.

Hardcover Quality or price gouge?

I must say I was very skeptical of the price increases when the hard cover books were launched. I picked up the cheaper digital Codex Adeptus Astartes when it was released as I was already sick of lugging too many books around (and allied most of the cost reduced portions as 'counts as' Blood Angels) but found the lack of tactile feedback really reduced the whole army building and gaming experience. Sure I could tap to gain special rules instantly, but when you've been playing since 2nd Ed you don't need to know the stats of a Plasma Pistol. This time around I reserved my copy of the physical book (noting that GW have split the digital editions into three confusing price levels) and have flicked pages to my hearts content all weekend. The price did sting a little and the level of hobby content in the Codex is way below any previous version, way too little for a supplementary rule book. The pictures are not flattering (I can see paint chips and mold lines), the painting guides have been removed, and everything aimed at the collector and gamer rather than the hobby enthusiast. The layout is much improved, however, with paper quality, full colour printing and excellent new artwork making up for the lack of conversions or special scenery display pieces.

So many Special Rules!

With the changes from 5th, to 6th, to 7th Editions of 40k "Special Rules" drastically changing the way the army played it has been difficult to keep up with the options available to you when building an army. Thankfully, GW have streamlined the new book. Furious Charge is now army wide and listed in the model stats, the bonus to Initiative when charging is now conferred by Corbulo or the use of the "Baal Strike Force" detachment (which removed Objective Secured by the way!), and the increased Weapon Skill of certain models is now a bonus from Sanguinary Priest's Holy Grails. This should not be confused with the general "Apothecary" Feel No Pain, as the Sanguinary Novitiate of the Command Squad now confers FNP without the bonus to WS provided by a grail (and actually matches the model to the fluff!). It's been much easier now to compare army lists and units in this way, and with the removal of units like Honour Guard and no more Force Organisation Chart manipulation with Special Characters I enjoy mixing and matching units based on their merits rather than being "auto include" to make X troops and so on. Everything now scores, even Death Company! (I still remember running those guys in 5th Edition and having them charge headlong through dangerous terrain and die with no saving throw. Progress!).

WYSIWYG and GW's new "Detachments" army building model.

Speaking of the merits of certain units, I still feel GW don't know their left arm from their right with regard points costs of certain characters. Tycho is an absolute joke, going from striking at initiative and ignoring armour to now having absolutely no hand to hand combat weapon! I understand the need to match the rules to the model ("what you see is what you get") but we might as well save the trees or just glue the pages together as I certainly won't be fielding him any more. I will save any discussion of Mephiston until I can game with him (and tear off the wings I modelled to his backpack...) but Dante is the word on the street and tops any "what's hot" list even without any of the upcoming Jump Infantry Detachments adding further bonuses. I really like the new way of building armies with Detachment bonuses. I can mix and match between Objective Secured troops and paying extra for Corbulo's special rules, or striking at Initiative +1 army wide with the new Baal Strike Force detachment included in the codex. Add in the option of taking an Inquisitor as my warlord for Preferred Enemy/Hatred Warlord Traits, and the game is really moving forward to match many of the contemporary rivals in terms of flexibility and variety of options when list building. I certainly see merit in collecting less armies but being able to access a variety of campaign supplements, digital dataslates and white dwarf rules to change each army list drastically. Putting an Inquisitor with Liber Heresius inside my Land Raider for a 12" scout move? Who needs Baal Predators anyway!

The new balance?

I was quite underwhelmed when Codex Orks was released, there seemed little to be excited about now the game has moved on from the "every codex is better than the last" release schedule which changed the game drastically every six months. I may have had my misgivings regarding the increased release pacing (and sold one of my four armies to pay for rules and new models for the others), but I am now excited to work with what feel like much more balanced rules set. 7th Edition tidied up a whole lot of loose ends, things like battle brothers embarking on transports combines nicely with the move of transports to fast attack, and the removal of Corbulo's 2+ FNP and Mephiston's 12" move-then-charge options don't seem such a loss when army/detachment wide buffs inspire the return to mass troops and elites of editions past. I always felt a bit awkward with the "hero hammer" side of things, and love the artwork where hundreds of models and tanks do battle with each other, rather than one model absolutely dominating. Eldar/Tau aside I really feel the new Codex releases are keeping the long term health of the game alive, as no longer will the most junior gamer at the store be hampered in buying a few boxes of troops to start painting and gaming with only to have one model steamroll through the whole lot. He/she can always get a Lord of War for Christmas as payback ;)

Forcing my hand.

The first and last things which really jumped out at me with the new Codex Blood Angels are the new Psychic Powers and Tactical Objective cards. First because they seem amazingly useful compared to recent releases, with Tactical Objectives rewarding fast assault based army selection at the Victory Point level of the game (there is even a Noble Sacrifice card which gives you a victory point if your Warlord dies in combat!), and the return of awesome Blood Angel Psychic Powers like Blood Lance (S8 AP1 Lance) and Unleash Rage which adds attacks and stacks with the Rage Special Rule! Lastly because I had a quick glance at the Librarian page today only to find these powers replace my beloved Telepathy options. No more Invisible Land Raider unfortunately, though Shield of Sanguinius is now an invulnerable save, rather than cover save, and can be cast before the Assault Phase once disembarked which is useful. It's also worth noting the new Blood Angel specific Tactical Objectives replace six Secure Objective cards, so if you like to zoom around the board with fast bikes and rhinos seizing objectives you may be better off trying for a non Blood Angel Warlord as these are now mandatory if you plan on using Dante or similar to lead your forces.

In Conclusion.

So I've laid all my fan-boy cards on the table as you can probably tell, though the new Codex price really hurt to the point of dropping one of my armies given the shorter release window and limited hobby time. I am enjoying building army lists using the adjusted prices and newer wargear (hello Graviton!) and will be relying less on heroic models and more on Troops and Elites to do the heavy lifting. With bonuses to Strength, Initiative, Weapon Skill, Attacks, and the usual Feel No Pain and Fleet options all available, I am looking forward to combining units on Jump Pack and in transports to keep the flexibility and mobility of previous Blood Angels armies. A squad of Scouts have been objective sitting for me since 7th Edition was launched, and if Tactical Marines in Razorbacks is the new way of running a Combined Arms Detachment then I don't have a problem dusting off my Jump Pack infantry now the points are more reasonable and I can model the chainsword models on foot as a Command Squad. Everything does a bit of a shuffle, and you can always run Unbound for a full Jump Pack army! Definitely once of the better 7th Edition releases, can't wait to have a game or two.