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6/29/2015

My problems with the Age of Sigmar and Games Workshop in general. Rant warning!

With the Age of Sigmar pics and rules details doing the rounds, I've finally realized just how much interest I've lost in this hobby.

Call me a pessimist, a killjoy, an unreformable fossil from a previous era. I don't care. To me the Age of Sigmar is simply a betrayal of highest magnitude. It's horrible. It's atrocious. From the cesspool that was the "End Times" came Age of Sigmar, a game that has almost nothing to do with Warhammer Fantasy, at all.
Look at the models. Look at the (supposed) fluff. We have some shiny new world with not-Dwarves and not-Elves (copyright is fun!) with hundreds of generic fantasy nations all around. Into this world the SIGMARINES come on their wings of fury and boy, do they look retarded.

Words cannot express my rage

Sanguinary Guard resemblance aside, they look nothing, nothing like anything from Warhammer Fantasy. There are no vibes, no references (hammers don't count), literally nothing WFB about those guys. Discount Space Marines. Poor man's Warmachine ripoffs. Gold-painted turds with wings. Round bases aside, they are riddiculous. With heads too small and pauldrons too big, they really do look like Space Marines. This thing alone should tell you how much this sucks, because if there is one thing I do assosciate with Fantasy, it's everyone's favorite power-armoured shovel heads. Sure. All we need right now are some Dreadnoughts and Land Raiders, and 40K kiddies will devour this shit cake and ask for more. Because that's what GW thought when they made these... these things. To attract the 40K player base. Sure, the 40K outsells the Fantasy by a huge margin, but this is the worst way to capitalize on the success of this franchise. It's lazy and uninspired. The thought process here probably looked like this.

- Jeff Numbnuts: Gee Bob, Warhammer Fantasy tanks. We should do something to save it.

- Bob Moron: Add more Space Marines. They sell really well.

- JN: I don't know Bob. They don't really fit into our good, ol' WFB...

- BM: Bullshit. They'd fit into a fucking Disney cartoon, let alone into another Warhammer game. I mean, come on! It's still Warhammer. Maybe add those Sanguinary Guard. I love that kit.

- JN: This will end well...

It did not end well. All across wargaming communities, both in various FLGS and online forums, people are enraged. Sure there are places like BoLS where editors write poems about how awesome the SIGMARINES are, but then again BoLS gave the "End Times" a 5 out of 5 so it's no surprise really. However the general consensus is that these new minis, round bases and upcoming fluff about a world into which the game will take place, are worse than bad. Being uninspiring and completely lacking any attachement to old fluff - these are the hallmarks of the Age of Sigmar. I know that this product has not yet come to light and that I probably should not judge it before its release, but the thing is that it dosen't really matter. Those minis are all there is to be said about the AoS. Space Marines resemblance aside, they are also snap fit, making it easy for kiddies to assemble and play. Oh and they are a converter's nightmare, because of that little fact. Their official paint scheme sucks. Even the fucking hammers that they are wielding, look nothing like Ghal-Maraz. Good to know how much GW values the consistency of their fluff.

The Khorne warriors are even worse. Why? Because while the SIGMARINES simply do not fit into a Fantasy setting, the new Chaos chumps are generic to the extreme. I love how extremly bipolar this new release turns out to be, like they didn't gave half a shit. Oh, I'm sorry, but they didn't. Originally, rumors placed Age of Sigmar in June, however GW wanted to shove another two Space Marine codexes down our throats. Because God knows that we can't have enough of these, right? Fuck this new game that is meant to replace a 30-year old classic. Nooooo, more Power Armour and Pauldrons. That's what we fucking need. It astounds me just how little GW advertises their new title that is meant to bring new, enthusiastic players to their flag. Secrecy all around, no information about the fluff, models, crunch, ANYTHING. They've dropped a simple artwork of a Hammer and called it a day. Hey GW, that's not how marketing works! You can't expect us, fans of old game, one of the oldest fantasy miniature game with a very distinct fluff in fact, to just wait like a flock of sheep when you make a half-assed attempt at advertising your new product.

I love how they try to score some points by making the AoS logo look like something from old editions. It dosen't work tough

Just because you were great once, does not meant that you're great still, and guess what? You're not. This is a clear disregard for your players, who just happen to not be on the 40K side of hobby. Because there are such people, GW. People who don't collect any army from the Warhammer 40000 range, or at least not only from that game. I'm one of those people. I have two 40K armies, including a Space Marine one, but I also have more than a hundred Empire troops in my house. They are waiting on my shelves, unpainted and unassembled, reminding me of better times with this hobby. The saddest part is that, for the love of me, I can't convince myself to paint them. There is simply no point. Oh sure, the snippets of info from the web suggest that the old minis will be compatible with AoS or 9th edition, or whatever, even tough they are all on square bases (round is the new black!). But the magic's gone. It's gone. I look at these Empire State Troops and each time discover some new, cool feature. A gaming card here, a lack of shoes there, an hourglass or a bird's skull, hanging from their uniforms. Meanwhile the SIGMARINES look bland as hell, same with those Khorne guys (why is it Khorne once again BTW?). Generic poses, generic World of Warcraft-semi high fantasy style, nothing unique. Some people claim that they have an "ancient Roman look". Those people should really read a book, or watch some History Channel, because these new AoS minis don't have any historical vibe to them. Pteruges on models are not enough and never will be.

You're not fooling anyone GW

I'm writing these words and feel more and more disillusioned. A year ago, when the EoT began, I really thought that it will revitalize the aging and neglected machine that was Warhammer Fantasy. Never, in any of my worst nightmares, did I envisioned something like this. A clear disregard to a setting that kickstarted its parent company and gave it a chance to become the undisputed king of the wargaming market. Also a clear disregard to its fans, who belived that instead of taking an axe to their setting, its creators would work hard to make it popular again, to save it. Alas it was not meant to pass. Financial risks would have to be taken and less resources would've been put into the making of new Space Marine products, and we couldn't have that, could we GW?

You've failed your customers once again. Someday you'll fail them one too many times. Just saying.

Not even Brian Blessed could hope to save the Age of Sigmar

Until next time

Xathrodox86

6/26/2015

Jungles burn and Mountains fall. Here comes the "End Times: Thanquol"!

With Age of Sigmar coming closer with every day, it's finally time to finish my impromtu review (or trial) of the "End Times". The only books left are "Thanquol" and "Archaon". Today I'll review the rules presented in the former installment of the "End Times" saga.

Just FYI I won't be doing any posts about Age of Sigmar (or 9th edition or whatever the hell it will be) until it eventually comes out. I don't belive the rumors in general and don't like to speculate based on some (usually very poor) snippets of information, gathered from various blogs and websites. When AoT gets released I'll do a post about it. Until then however let's stick to the "End Times" and see this review to its very end.

Otherwise the Rats will get me
However I do NOT have a good feeling about Age of Sigmar. Call me a pessimist but I just don't.

Just like "Khaine" before it, "Thanquol" is quite huge and so will be split into a three-part review for your reading pleasure and the sake of my sanity. In this post I'll take a closer look at the new rules and the changes that they bring to the game.

1. New terrain rules


Lots of battles in "Thanquol" take place in the jungles of Lustria. As such there are new rules detailing the steamy, oppresive enviroment of Lizardmen's domain. Just like in "Glottkin" these rules are generally really well written and, unlike the special characters, are not unbalanced or game-breaking. They have been divided into couple of sections and generally should be used when playing the respective "EoT" campaigns but probably can also be used in standard games of Warhammer Fantasy.

A. Ancient Temple Cities

The cribs of Lizardmen got a nice boost in "EoT". "Ancient Ruins" provide any piece of Mystical Monument, Building and Arcane Architecture with the rule of the same name. That's nice and it is always cool to see some additions to game's terrain.

Then we have "Hidden Treasures". This actually takes me back to excellent Lustria campaign from 2005. What a cool supplement it was. Anyway, the "Hidden Treasures" rule allows any unit that touches or is inside the Anciet Ruins, to search them and aqquire fat loot. They do this by rolling a D6. On 1 to 5 nothing happens. However 6 grants them treasure which, if they manage to claim it until the very end of the game, gives them a whooping 100 victory points. But wait! There's a catch. After discovering the Hidden Treasure, they have to roll AGAIN. On a roll of 1 or 2, the "lucky" unit's player needs to roll a D6 on a special table and consult the results. They can vary from blowing up and dealing D6 Strength 8 hits to anyone within 6'' of the terrain, to re-rolling all successful To Hit rolls, both in shooting and CC or making an immediate Panic test. As you can probably guess, this is not a good thing. Looters beware!

My displeasure for "EoT" aside, this artwork is fucking awesome
B. Lustrian Jungle

Being an analogy of our world's South America, Lustria is covered completely in a thick, steamy and dangerous jungle, full of nasty surprises for non-Germans and non-Vikings. "Thanquol" expands the dangers of such a place and makes it utterly lethal. First of all, all forests are considered Jungle terrain. There's no need to roll on a Mysterious Terrain table. Every Skirmisher treats Jungles as a dangerous terrain while any other unit treats it as an impassable terrain. Same applies to Jungle Rivers, which are probably full of Piranhas and Aligators or something.

Finally there Jungle Events and they are a blast. During each player's turn a roll of 3D6 must be made and a special table consulted. Oh and Lizardmen players can re-roll results of 7 or less which is nice, but lower dosen't mean better in this instance.

Anyway the results on the Jungle Events table are downright sadistic. From a Lashworm Attack that deals D6 S4 hits to a unit, selected by the opposing player, to Quicksand which will swallow any model that fails his Initiative roll. On a roll of 8 to 13 nothing happens, but every other result is downright nasty, especially to low Toughness and low Initiative armies but even strong units can suffer horribly in the jungles of Lustria.

2. Lords of Battle rules and The Doom of Belegar Campaign


"End Times: Thanquol" introduce the new Lords of Battle Campaign rules, together with a unique campaign called The Doom of Belegar, Lords of Battle introduces the concept of fighting a series of linked battles, with every engagement having a few twists and surprises for everyone involved. Utilising a battle chart, composed of several battle boxes, linked together by campaign arrows that lead players to a victory box, that tells which player won the campaign.

There are also strategic characteristics in the form of Guile, Persuasion and Planning. Each of these traits have a rating, ranging from 1 to 5, however they can be buffed up to 10 by various modifiers. Usually each player will get 10 points to distribute between the three characteristics, the more the better. Testing these traits is done by rolling a D6. If the result is equal to or less than the characteristic being tested, the test is passed. A roll of 1 is always a success whereas a roll of 6 is always a failure. Sometimes they are also used in opposed tests, when each player rolls a D6 and adds the value of the startegic characteristic that is being tested. However has the higher result, wins. There are no ties allowed. In case of a tie, players roll again.

Generally players will utilize these traits when attempting to use the stratagems. And what exactly are these stratagems? Well...

An interesting concept has been introduced in "Thanquol" in the form of stratagems, which sometimes can be picked from battle boxes. These can be incredibly useful to the player that has found them, allowing for the deployment of a Mystical Monument of their choice, granting their character additional magic item, improving the stats of your soldiers or even assassinating enemy leaders!

Of course the Dwarves would never stoop to such low tactics!
I love things like these, as they greatly enhance the experience of playing a battle. You can turn the tide of battle with a well chosen Stratagem, as can your opponent. Suddendly a mundane game of "my dudes versus your dudes" becomes much more intense. This is the perfect example of a rule done right. Shame that it's one of the few, good additions to the game.

Finally there's the Doom of Belegar Campaign, which pits Dwarfs against the vile Skaven. This one is pretty straightforward and acts as a tutorial for people who wish to make their own Lords of Battle campaigns in the future. What baffles me is why there are none, official LoB games taking place in Lustria. "Thanquol" gave us a few pages of jungle fighting rules and then a campaign that is fought between the Dawi and the Ratkin. That's kinda weird and, in my opinion, a missed opportunity. Oh well...

The campaign itself represents the Skaven assault on Karak Eight Peaks and the subsequent taking of the ancient dwarven hold. Since these are the End Times we can't have nice things. Kind of like in the Horus Heresy, where there's a constant ass kicking of loyalists by traitors.

Anyway this campaign clearly shows how LoB rules should be used. Its special rules include "Endless Hordes of Ratkin" which allow the Skaven player to spam free Slave units and "Death Before Dishonour", making all Dwarves Unbreakable. Stratagems include Secret Tunnels, Allies and Foresight for Skaven and Cunning, Local Scouts and Defensive Positions for Dorfs, nicely representing the realities of the campaign in question (Dwarfs defend, as usual).

The Doom of Belegar clearly shows the usefulness and easy management of the battle charts. Everything is clear, everything is obvious and even people who are fresh to WFB will have no problems with using these new rules. Like I said before, this is the best thing that "Thanquol" has given us and, once again, proves the point that the best rules in the "End Times" are those for terrain and its application in games. Of course there were a couple of screw ups (Magical Fulcrums) but overall this part of "EoT" is great, much better than any rules concerning magic and special characters and units.

Which reminds me. You've probably noticed that I haven't covered any of the special units from "EoT" like Nurgle Plague Knights or Skaven Stormfiends. That's because I'll make a special post, after the review of Archaon, in which I'll talk in length about ever, single one of those units. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the "common" guys.

So this is it for this post. I hope that you've enjoyed reading about my (rather generous) opinions on the new game rules in "Thanquol". Next week will be the time for heroes and villians of the 4th installment in the "End Times".

Mainly villains
Until next time

Xathrodox86

6/18/2015

Xathrodox86 reviews: "Kryptos" by Graham McNeill

This post was supposed to be about "End Times" Thanquol" but I'm not in the mood to write about the fourth installment in WFB's world-shattering event just yet. "Khaine" kinda seeped me of my strength with its incredible ammounts of shittiness. Instead here's a review of Graham McNeill's "Kryptos", one of my favorite Horus Heresy short stories.


In case some of you don't know it yet, Graham McNeill will soon be moving to California to work for Riot Games on their League of Legends franchise. One of Black Library's most popular writers won't be contributing to the Heresy series as much as he used to, but, according to the man himself, he'll still write from time to time. Mainly short stories, but still... That's something I guess. His "Crimson King" is supposedly half finished, which begs the question whether it'll be released in 2015 or at the beginning of 2016. Now I personally can't wait for that one to be published, since "A Thousand Sons" is one of my most beloved Horus Heresy novels of all time and after reading "Scars" the storyline of Magnus and his sons is truly one of the more interesting ones in the whole series.

But enough about wishes. Let's get to the review at hand.


"Bloodied but unbowed, the Raven Guard and the Iron Hands fight on. In the wake of the Dropsite Massacre, the shattered Legions are still prepared to bring the fight to Warmaster Horus and his traitorous allies. On the doomed forge world of Cavor Sarta, two veteran warriors of the Imperium strike deep into the heart of the Dark Mechanicum’s territory. With bolter and blade ready to cut down any who cross their path, they will seek out the enemy’s most valued asset: the mysterious ‘Kryptos’..."

The entire story takes place on Cavor Sarta, a Forge World in control of Dark Mechanicus. Unbeknown to traitors, two loyalist Space Marines have infiltrated their domain and seek to wreak havoc and destruction on the allies of the traitorous Warmaster. Sabik Wayland of the Iron Hands and Nykona Sharrowkyn of the Raven Guard are on a vital mission that can potentailly tip the war effort for those who oppose Horus. As it turns out the traitors are using some sort of encryption device which allows them to communicate without fear of loyalists eavesdropping on them, dubbed the "Kryptos". Already one attempt at capturing it has failed, so when a new intelligence concerning its location presents itself, the Imperium sends two veteran warriors to procure it at all costs.

Yup, Graham McNeill just introduced Enigma to the Horus Heresy series. How cool is that?

The story itself is incredibly well paced, with a sense of urgesness and time running out, as Wayland and Sharrowkyn make their way stealthily through desecrated Forge World in search of Kryptos. The planet itself is dying, reacting violently to sickness that gnaws at it from within. McNeill once again shows just why he is so great at writing about AdMech stuff, both normal and corrupted, and his descriptions of Cavor Sarta are visceral and thought provoking. Those of you who had the opportunity to read Graham's "Dead Sky, Black Sun" will immediately feel at home, since Medrengard feels very similar to this story's corrupted Forge World with all it's horrors and Chaos-influenced madness. Splendid stuff.

Aside from perfectly capturing the atmosphere of the doomed planet, the two protagonists of this story are simply its strongest point. While being very different from one another, both the Iron Hand and Raven Guard share a true form of camardrie and fellowship. Their interactions are both funny, in the "buddy cop" sense and style, and full of mutual respect, despite huge differences in their modus operandi.
Both survivors of Istvaan V massacre, Sabik and Nykona are filled with pure hatred towards the traitors, each one expressing it in different manner. While Wayland, who took a blow from the Phoenician himself during the apocalyptic battle, channels his fury into cold, focused blade, ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice, Nykona is much more reserved and calculating. Having being saved by Sabik, who dragged him to the Thunderhawk, Sharrowkyn fights the traitors, not knowing the fate of his legion and his gene-sire, Corax. This uncertainty, while obviously weighing heavily on his soul, does not hamper his efforts in killing the enemies of the Imperium however, as the reader will quickly find out while reading this short. Now it must be said, that anyone looking for some good, old fashioned bolter porn, will be immediately dissapointed. "Kryptos" is an espionage story at heart and it works incredibly well in this manner. The tension is ever present, the loaylist duo's methods of taking the fight to the traitors are thought provoking and unorthodox at the same time. I was really surprised when the Iron Hand did a thing that could only be described as tech-heresy to help with their mission. Of course I won't spoil it, but it was something not easily associated with conservative and dogmatic methods of the Iron Tenth. "Kryptos" really shows just how desperate the loyalists are in their struggle against the traitorous Warmaster and his cronies, and begs the question of just how far will the loyal servants of the Emperor be willing to go in their quest for victory.

There is really nothing wrong about this short story. Altough it can be finished in less than 20 minutes, it delivers fully the tension and action, that one can expect of a Heresy-era tale. If you didn't got the chance to read it, and consider yourselves fans of the Horus Heresy series, be sure to grab it and give it a go. "Kryptos" is part of the recently published "Legacies of Betrayal" anthology and can be also grabbed in an audio format. It's really worth every cent and is one of the best Warhammer 40,000 stories that I've ever stumbled upon in my 7-Year career as a 40K geek. If Graham McNeill will continue to write more pieces like this one, then I'll have no problems with him taking less active role in pushing the Heresy onwards.

Oh and if you're curious, both Sabik Wayland and Nykona Sharrowkyn return to the front lines in "Angel Exterminatus" and "The Seventh Serpent", both penned by Graham McNeill as well. I'll probably review them someday, but now it is sadly time for me to return to the "End Times" and finish what I've started.

Pros:

-Immersive and suspenseful storyline that keeps you on your toes to the very end.
-Greatly written characters that are both badass and believable at the same time. Considering that they are Space Marines, it is quite a feat.
-It's nice to read about loyalists kicking traitors asses for a change.

Cons:

-None. Seriously. This is a perfect example of a story done right.

Until next time and watch out for the shadows around you. You can never be sure what lurks within them...

Damn right

Xathrodox86

6/07/2015

It's Kill Team time! Tyranids vs Imperial Guard, 250 points

Before we dive into some ratty goodness of "End Times: Thanquol", let's take a small brake and explore the wonderful world of Kill Team, courtesy of always excellent Heralds of Ruin.

This is my third Kill Team game and the second one that I was playing against Tyranids. My friend Chris, who got his baptism by fire while fighting against Orks, was up for the challenge and so we prepared our lists and got to work.

The game was played at 250 points, standard for Kill Team. We've rolled for the sabotage scenarion, and Chris decided to attack my well entrenched Guardsemn, who were defending a couple of field-stricken Chimeras. Obviously Chris is new to this game, as not only he was attacking me, but also provided my forces with some homemeade (and totaly awesome!) Aegis Defence Line fortifications, which he made himself! How cool is that?

Bitchin! I really need to finally paint it tough...
As for our lists there were some changes from the last game. Last time I took Tempestus Scions, the elite Strom Troopers of the Imperial Guard. This time I've decided to go with standard troops, equipped with Vostroyan doctrine while my opponent just went for a good, old fashioned swarm.

Here are our forces:

Stand to Men!
My IG was lead by a Force Commander with Plasma gun, Bolt pistol, Anthax Pattern Carapace Armour and a Rosarius and some grenades. I had a Heavy Weapons Team with Mortar, two veteran squads, one with a flamer and another with a sniper rifle, both sporting stylish Carapace Armour jackets and some nades and finally a vanilla Guardsmen squad with Flamer and (surprise, surprise) a few grenades. Everyone, except HWT, had Vox Casters. This was a first time I was going to use Mortar, a weapon which to me always seemed all too situational...

Chris brought up some heavy duty hitters in his bug army. Lead by a Zoanthrope, it also consisted of two Warriors (one with Devourer and one with a nasty Spinefist), a Ravener and a couple of Gaunt broods, specifically two Termagant and two Hormagant. It was a perfect balance between assault and shooting that can make a Guardsmen's life a living hell.

Omnomnomnom!
Turns 1 and 2:

We've deployed our forces on the battlefield. Chris started behind a small hill, while I've camped like a noob behind the Aegis Defense Line and hoped that my awe inspiring firepower will be enough to stop the mad xenos horrors from harvesting my biomass.

Meanwhile the Cog-boys were working hard on bringing up those damn transports to life
I couldn't do jack so it was Chris's turn to advance against my entrenched red shirts. He did so with a tactical accumen of the Swarmlord, utilising cover and splitting his forces so as not give my guns easy targets. It didn't really matter, since even my Sniper and Mortar were out of reach for the first, two turns of play. This was going to be fun...

The horde advances...
Turn 3:

After some deep striking shenanigans (including a mishap and a return to reserves) his Ravener burrowed right next to my Force Commander and a Vet Squad, happily camping in a bunker and taking pot shots at advancing Gants. Together with HWT, my Veteran Sniper managed to kill a couple of advancing critters. Meanwhile my FC fired his Plasma Gun and managed to wound the monster once, however one of his shots resulted in an overheat, which cooked one of the troopers inside the bunker. Damn!

Surprise!
Meanwhile my rightmost unit of Veterans peppered the onrushing horde of Gants with some las fire and managed to bring down a couple of them. Good shooting, but the looming threat of a Tyranid Warrior and some more Gants, was getting ever closer...

Pew! Pew! Pew!
Here's another pic, this time from the Nids perspective.

Damn, this looks epic. The dead Gant squad on the left was carrying one of the acid bombs, which could really hurt my grounded tanks a lot. However there were still two left...
On Chris's turn the Tyranids finally attacked, with some help from Zoanthrope's mind magic, swarming my positions and killing my Commander. His men were suspiciously slow in reacting to their leader's cries for help. Probably because of that unfortunate plasma incident. In my next turn I had to bring up the Guardsmen squad from the left flank, as support, or else the middle faced the danger of being breached, especially since the shooty 

The guard dies, but never surrenders!
Turn 4:

Retaliation time! My Vets regrouped, fell back and shot the Ravener and Gants to shit, while also throwing a grenade that blew a couple monsters to bits, but unfortunately didn't manage to even scrape the carapace of the big Nid. However my vanilla Guardsmen finished the job, rushing from the left flank and burning both the Ravener and a single Hormagant to death with their Flamer. Good job lads!

The beasts lie dead, but there are still more to come
In Chris's turn he once again managed to fire up the Zoanthrope's power of rushing other Tyranids organisms towards their prey (forgot it's name, sorry) but suffered Perils of the Warp in return! He rolled the dice and consulted the table... and managed to get his Zoanthrope +3 attacks, Armourbane and Fleshbane until the end of next turn. Since Zoanthropes can't attack in CC at all, we've both had a good laugh at this.

However the power worked, and that meant his warrior bumrushed my Veteran Guardsmen on the right flank, firing his Devourer and and then assaulting me, despite being peppered with Lasgun fire and burning Promethium fuel. Unfortunately he survived and killed a single Guardsmen, while taking a wound from his colleague's bayonets and combat knives.

Unfortunately the middle Vet squad didn't managed as well, as their right flank allies. A salvo from the Warrior's Spinefist claimed another two of them and forced the rest to flee. Fortunately for me they've stopped just before the edge of the table. Said Warrior was blown to hell by the inexperienced Guardsmen, who came to their "elite" fellows aid. Desperate, his depleted Hormagants assaulted my middle Guardsmen squad, but were killed by the Emperor's soldiers in grim close combat. So far the most successful unit in my army was the least experienced one!

Needless to say, they've recieved their promotion that day
During turns 4 and 5, Mortar continued to fire, blowing up a big chunkg of his second Termagant squad, which resulted in a single xenos horror assaulting the HWT and... doing nothing to it, and in return also recieving zero wounds.

Finally we came to turn 6 and the game ended. The swarm failed in their task of destroying IG's tanks and the surviving Guardsmen were able to board their Chimeras and race to their base, before more Tyranids arrived. I've lost my Force Commander, and 4 Veterans, while he only had his Zoanthrope, a wounded Warrior and a single Termagant by the end of the game.

It was a great game, and while Chris ultimately lost it, it should be noted that he had a very disadvantegous position, not to mention that it was his army that was storming a well entrenched, Astra Militarum gunline. Nex time I won't be so lucky, since we've already agreed that our next game won't be about attacking/defending, since that is pretty boring. I envision a great slaughter of hapless Guardsmen by the foul Tyranids, but as always, the Emperor protects, so who knows? Maybe I'll be able to defeat the vile Xenos.

Once again I'm posting a link to the Heralds of Ruin website, where you'll find all the rules nescessary to play the game: http://heralds-of-ruin.blogspot.com/ If you want to immerse yourselves in the fantastic world of Kill Team, then you should definetly visit their website. It's really worth it.

Next week is Thanquol week. Bring some cheese or the Skaven will get you. Squeek, squeek.

Until next time

Xathrodox86

6/02/2015

Heroes of the elven hosts. The final part of "End Times: Khaine" review is here!

We've finally came to it. Here's the end of my review of "End Times: Khaine", arguably the weakest part of the series that ended the current Warhammer world. Without further ado let's dive right into it.

Thus far the rules in "Khaine" have been bad, to say the least. In my opinion both magic and new army lists are incredibly broken and badly written, but maybe there's still hope. Maybe the special characters will be able to redeem this book, at least partially.

Nah, they also suck. It was worth a shot tough. At least no one will accuse me of giving this review an half-assed attempt.

Now the funny thing with "End Times: Khaine" is the ammount of special characters that it has to offer. On the first look it seems that are not that many unique heroes for Elves to choose from. Malekith, Tyrion, Alarielle and Imirk: only four right? Nope, there are more. Well, more of the same that is. Few characters in "Khaine" come in two versions, the subsequent one more powerful than the latter. Now let's take a closer look at them, shall we?

Oh and of course I won't be talking about special characters from elven armybooks, only those about the unique "End Times".

1. Malekith, the Phoenix King and Malekith, the Eternity King


Sometimes the bad guy takes it all

Here he is, the Good Guy Malekith, the saviour of elven race. It's a good thing that the Asur have the shortest memory in the hisotry of everything. Otherwise they wouldn't probably chosent the blood thirsty tyrant, responsible for millenia of attrocities against their race, as their king, right? I mean what sane person would do that? Well, no matter. Let's look at this bad boy. For 825 points you get a true powerhouse of a badass, both incredibly good with a blade and magic. Having 10 Attacks at Weapon Skill 8, 9 Wounds and S/T of 6 this dude hits very hard and can soak up punishment like there's no tommorow. He gets a combined profile with his dragon, Seraphon which means that he has a Movement of 6 and a 3+ save. Not bad, not bad. However it's his skills that make him truly deadly. Not only is he a Level 4 caster with access to Lore of Fire and Lore of Dark Magic (making him Loremaster in both of these lores), but he can also Fly (obviously) is Immune to Psychology, generates Terror and has ASF, Martial Prowess and Eternal Hatred. Yikes! Oh and he's a Large Target, but who cares about that, right?

With "Absolute Power" comes... a 24'' range of Inspiring Presence. That's quite a lot and really works wel with already high LD of Elves. With such range it's almost guaranteed that most of your army will be under his presence.
Seraphon can emit a cloud of noxious smoke that hits at Strength 4 and drops the afflicted enemy's WS and BS by -1 until the end of their following turn. Very good and can nicely synergize with spells/abilities that further drop the opposing force's statistics.
Malekith's "Phoenix King" ability grants any friendly models with Martial Prowess one extra rank when making suport attacks. Spearmen cry out with joy at that one. Oh and it's cumulative with any other unique abilities granting more rank attacks so...

Malekith's uniqe wargear is practically unchanged from his entries in the Dark Elves Army Book. Asuryath has Multiple Wounds (D3) and Flaming Attacks special rules. Good for those pesky Tomb Kings and regenerating enemies. Armour of Midnight grants the new Phoenix King a 2+ ward save against all, non-magical attacks. Very good, but there's more! With this suit of armour every Heroic Killing Blow and Multipl;e Wounds attack that goes through, will only take away a single wound from Malekith. Yeah, you can't insta gib Malekith, no matter how hard you try.
Finally we have the good, old Circlet of Iron which grants Malekith a single dice both for his casting and dispel attempts. It does work towards Irresistibl force if you're wondering. Like this dude needed to be any more powerful in a magic phase...

Now let's look at Malekith the Eternity King. Talk about nicknames, right? This version of the King of all Elves (TM) costs a whooping 1000 points and, as stats go, only has one more wound than his Phoenix King persona. Now he's a Level 5 caster with access to Lore of Shadow only, which means that he just became more focused on hexes and supporting his troops, rather than dishing out arcane damage. He retains all special rules of his former self and gets Murderous Prowess as well so that's nice. His "Eternity King" rule grants the afformentioned extra rank bonus to all models with Martial Prowess within 12'' AND gives every model within that range, possessing Murderous Prowess (including Malekith) a re-roll to Wound. Now that's just nasty. Remember that every, single model in the Host of Eternity King has Murderous Prowess, so... ouch. Fighting Elves now just became even worse than before.
"Shadow Sorcerer" basically makes him immune to miscats. Yeah, you have to accept the second result of casting a spell, but let's be honest - how often will you actually manage to roll two miscasts in a row?
Finally here's the best skill that Malekith has at his disposal, the "Incarnate of Shadow". At the start of his controling player's remaining Moves sub-phase, said player can nominate one of his units that's within 12'' of the Eternity King. This unit gets both Ethereal special rule and can move up to 20'', instead of moving normally. Eh... I don't honestly know what to say about that... Who the fuck wrote that? Seriously. A unit of Ethereal Dragon Princes moving 20'' in any direction sounds like fun, right? It wouldn't be so bad if that was a spell, but this is just bullshit. There's no way of stopping this and suddendly one of the only, effective tactic against Elves (shooting at them with war machines) has been effectively done with. What's that? You want to shoot my guys on that hill? Tough shit, because here are some ethereal Spearmen, or better Phoenix Guard if you have your cannons enchanted, blocking your LOS to target. Have fun. Yeah, no. I won't and fuck you. That single skill is the reason why IMO 100o points is way too cheap a price for Malekith as the Eternity King. He should cost 1500 points at least, for what he can bring to table.
Finally there are magical items, but the only change to them is that his sword now deals D3+1 Multiple Wounds and is now longer on fire, so no Flaming Attacks for you Malekith. Like that matters at all, right?

2. Tyrion, Avatar of Khaine


Tall, dark, brooding and handsome. Oh and he kicks ass too

The biggest, most awesome fighter of all Elves and the undisputed king of angst. Tyrion has already been a pretty burly dude, but "Khaine" buffed him to unimaginable heights of awesome (quite literally since he got possessed by the God of Murder). Tyrion costs 700 points, which is a joke when you consider his power level and abilities. Interestingly he dosen't have a combined prfile with Malhandir, his mount. The wonder horse himself is incredibly capable, having Movement 10, Initiative 5 and a decent WS of 4 and LD of 7. Of course he pails when compared to his master. Tyrion's stats are truly incredible. With a WS of 10 and delivering 5 Attacks at Strength 5 he's a close combat monster. His only weakness is his Toughness of 4. Still better than that of the usual Elf, but high strength weapons and war machines are the bane of Dragon of Cothique. Of course he'll Always Strike First, but if your opponent manages to cast sucessfully that Briona's Time Warp, there is still Tyrion's Inititative of 10 to deal with. He's also Immune to Psychology which is always welcome. "Shadow of Khaine" grants both him and all friendly models with Murderous Prowess, that are within 12'' of him a re-roll To Wound rolls in CC. Apparently Tyrion can cast magic now. He has a single bound spell at his disposal called "Summon the Glorious Dead". At power level of 10 it allows the caster to summon 2D6 + 3 worth of Skeletons, anywhere within 18'' of him. There are two buffed up levels of this spell, one which summons 3D6 + 3 at PL 15 and the last, which let's you do the exact same thing, but it summons 4D6 + 3 Skellies instead at PL 20. This indeed can be very handy and provide some cheap bodies for the rest of the elven host to hide behind, or just to tie up the enemy for a round or two of combat. Power level's quite steep, but it's the End Times, so magic is generally easier to use than it used to be.

Tyrion's magic items are generally the same as they used to be. His Dragon Armour of Aenarion grants him a 1+ armour save, which cannot be improved in any way, and a 4+ ward save, plus the Fireborn special rule, making him incredbily handy against anything with flaming attacks. Then we have the Heart of Avelorn, a unique talisman which confers the Magic resistance of 2 to its user and ressurects Tyrion on a roll of 2+ with a single wound, but only once. Again, very nice, especially for those lengthy duels. Finally there's the Widowmaker, Tyrion's new sword which essentially is just a buffed up Ghal-Maraz. Wounding automatically and dealing Multiple D6 Wounds with no armour save, this thing is just awesome. Oh and it cannot be destroyed. Like at all. Makes sense really, as it is a weapon of a God, but then how come the ESSENCE of Ghal-Maraz can get wrecked? A physical sword is indestructible, but a pure energy of a God's hammer is not? I smell shoddy writing...

3. Imrik, Crown Prince of Caledor


"I'm on a Dragon!"

For all you dragon lovers, here is something real special. Imrik, the last of Caledor's line, has returned and he's better than ever. Costing a reasonable 810 points and sporting a combined profile with his mount, Minaithnir, Imrik is no slouch in combat, altough unlike Malekith, he dosen't do any magic. That's ok tough, since his stats are geared up towards killing, maiming and burning the enemies of Ulthuan. For starters he has 10 Attacks, WS of 8 and both his Strength and Toughness of 7, are really good in CC. He also has 10 Wounds and a Inititative of 8, guaranteeing that he WILL strike first, even if opponent somehow mitigates his ASF rule. Add to that the Fireborn rule, making him immune to flaming attacks, Valour of Ages, Martial Prowess and Terror and you have one, nastu dude who WILL kill almost anything thrown at him. Thanks to his loyal steed, he also has a Strength 4 Flaming attack and can Fly. His "Lord of Dragons" rule makes every enemy monster, including Drakes, strike at him with a -1 To Hit penalty.

Imrik's gear is basically unchanged from his older self. He is armed with a hand weapon (lame) and a Star Lance, which grants him a +3 bonus to Strength when charging and negates armour save of enemy characters struck by it, but after that he's stuck with his hand weapon so... nothing really special here. Cunning opponents will either charge him first, or make sure that he will not make the charge against them at all. Or, you know, send some chaff towards his way. Armour of the Dragontamer gives Imrik a 5+ ward save which is nice, but again, nothing spectacular. Finally there's the Dragonhorn, which can be used once per game only. When it is sounded, both Imrik and any friendly monsters within 12'' of him get the Stubborn special rule. This item clearly shows that when taking the Crown Prince of Caledor, it is worth to have at least two more monsters in your army.

Imrik is in fact my favorite character in this book, simply because he is not insanely overpowered. While very strong and very dangerous, he is obviously only as good as his stats, since the magic items and stats that he has are medicore, to say the least. His point cost is also high, and rightfully so. Why couldn't the rest of elven characters be built like him? Strong but not overpowered and having a few, exploitable weaknesses?

4. Alarielle, Avatar of Isha and Alarielle, Incarnate of Life


Killing things dosen't mean that you can't look sexy!

The final entry in the characters section of 'End Times: Khaine" is the suped up Everqueen of the Elves. Like her new hubby, Malekith (sigh...), she has two profiles. In her first she's a reasonably priced (375 points) level 4 caster with access to Lores of Life, Light and High Magic. While her stats are a joke (only her LD of 10 and WS of 6 are decent) it's not them that make her truly scary on the battlefield. Nor are her "standard" special abilities like ASF, Lileath's Blessing (this one's useful tough, as long as you cast spells from the Lore of High Magic), Martial Prowess and Valour of Ages. Instead she works as a support, best kept slightly behind your lines, but always within as much of your friendly units as possible, for them to benefit from her buffs. Her "Anathema to Chaos" means that any Daemon foolish enough to come within 12'' of her, will suffer D6 S4 hits every turn. Ouch! "Blessings of Isha" confers a 5+ ward save and immunity to Fear and Terror, both to her and any friendly unit within a bubble of 12''. Now this is awesome. Not like Elves needed any more anti-terror buffs, but  5+ ward is always handy. Finally there's the "Touch of purity", which makes all her CC attacks magical and seh wounds ANY models from Forces of Destruction on a 2+ with Multiple Wounds (D6). This is nuts. I can see Daemon and Undead players crying in pain, when facing her in a sturdy block of White Lions or Black Guard, surrounded by some tough supporting units. Scary.

Alarielle's magic items are perfect for supporting others in her army. The Star of Avelorn brings back a single wound to any friendly character within 12'' of Alarielle at the beginning of Movement phase. She can heal herself, but only if there are no friendly special characters in range. Finally there's the Stave of Avelorn, which unlike the previous one is one use only. When doing magic hijinks, Alarielle can attempt to cast ANY spell in her Magic phase, even one that was already cast or suffered a miscast. Yes, this means that she can effectively cast ANY spell twice. With her high level as a Mage, this is guaranteed to work almost every time and with High Magic at her disposal means some very, very bad news to everyone who is the target of her ire.

Now her Incarnate of Life version is even more scary. Costing "only" 540 points, which is a steal really, she comes with some buffs to her Strength, Toughness, Wounds and Attacks, but that's not all! First of all she's now a level 5 Life Wizard. She also retains all her previous skills (excluding Lileath's Blessing), while gaining Loremaster (Life) and Murderous Prowess. Want more? No problem. She re-rolls the results on the Miscast table, thanks to her "Locus of Renewal", altough she has to accept the second roll. Finally her "Incarnate of Life" rule grants both her and any friendly units within 12"" of her a 6+ ward save and the Regeneration special rule. The juiciest part however is her ability to bring back a single Wound both to her and every friendly model within 12'', at the start of EACH friendly magic phase. That's right. If you're teaming up your Elves with any allies, then it is possible to regain a minimum of two Wounds each turn. Put her near Malekith or Teclis and just kick back and relax. Nothing bad will happen to any of your special/multi wound guys. which also includes any friendly models. Her magic items remain unchaneged, so there's nothing really new for me to say here.

For only 540 points, Alarielle is incredibly powerful character, and her potentail uses are many. While she's terrible in combat against anything that's not coming from the Dark Side, it is her buffs that make her truly dangerous and deadly to opponents. Combined with another strong spellcaster like Teclis or Malekith, Alarielle basically guarantess complete domination in Magic phase and... a victory. I mean, it's almost impossible to kill her and the unit that she's in, and any sane player will stick as many special characters within 12'' of her as possible, making them very, very hard to kill. In my opinion 540 points are well below the price that she actually should be worth. Maybe 800 or even 1000 points, but 540? Please.

So here it is. The final part of my review of "End Times: Khaine". While I already read the entirety of the "End Times" material, it is "Khaine" that really pissed me off to no end. It is simply badly written, both in terms of fluff and rules. I don't really like to use accusations of favoring certain factions in any game, as usually the game designers try to retain some semblance of balance, but in case of "Khaine", whose armies and special characters are a league above other armies, except maybe Chaos, it is painfully obvious that the design team behind this book really loves them some pointy ears. Elves effectively received 6 new special characters, each of whom is worth it's weight in gold, and each of whom is incredibly, incredibly strong and dangerous in game. Now I know that no tabletop game evert made is fair and balanced (maybe except Chess), but for me "End Times: Khaine" present the most plain and shameless way of favoring one faction (right now I'm treating all three elven races as one) over other, less liked and supported. The Empire got two special characters and only one of them can be considered really strong, getting barely close to the level of some of the weakes Elf heroes of the End Times. The Undead got Nagash, but even he pales, compared to Malekith. Glottkin? Good luck taking on Tyrion or Alarielle with strong magic support. Do remember that the Elves have all of their special characters from their Army Books, including already way, way too strong Teclis and Hellebron, who can effectively shut down enemy's dispell phase. Now think about the End Times High Magic spell "Deadlock" and how easy it is for Elves to cast it. Yeah... Let's not even mention the new and broken magic phase and how certain armies benefit it way more than others, while also making the already too magical focused 8th edition, even more magic heavy!
I'm not some conspiracy nut, who spies elven lobby behind every corner, but after reading "End Times: Khaine" I  can't shake this feeling, that the end of WFB was supposed to be glorious and beneficial for some races and factions only. Elves are one of them. Too bad that most of the rest are on the receiving end, bending over and asking Malekith and company to be gentle.


It's one big mess, just like pic related
 
For shame GW, for shame.

Now the "End Times: Thanquol" review is coming, but first I need to cool off after "Khaine". I think some nice Kill Team game will help me with that...

Until next time

Xathrodox86