In Which My Attention Wanes

It's been two weeks since I have posted anything besides Sergeant Series articles. I've been busy with life in general and not overly motivated to work on 40K stuff. I'm in the middle of a months-long project of refinishing a toy box my wife had as a child, in order to give it to my son for Christmas. I started stripping the paint back in JULY, and just last night reprimed it in preparation for new paint. Yes, every project I tackle seems to take forever, it's not just 40K!

However, I did sit down and prime my first Drop Pod last weekend, and picked away at Genestealers and the early painting stages of the pod this weekend.

The pod feels like it's going to be a major pain to paint, even though I built it in subassemblies using the From the Warp tutorial. It's a pretty simple model, but the sheer surface area of the interior and exterior is staggering. I need to make sure I have backup bottles of my preferred metallics on hand.

The Genestealers have been much more interesting to work on. I've moved beyond the greens and browns, and am chugging along on the talons and blades now. These models go faster, as they don't have that whole armored carapace brown process to go through. Just some little plates on their heads. After the talons are done, it's purple under-flesh and bases. I'm not sure which Nid model I'll work on next. Maybe a Lictor or Warrior. I'd like to do more Genestealers, but I think I'll jump around a bit. I have no immediate plans to run anything out of the upcoming Nid codex, but I'd prefer not to hop in wholesale on a completely new unit. Maybe the Lictor would be the best bet, as those rarely get a wealth of options.

My attention on 40K projects has been flitting around quite a bit the last week or so. I keep having this urge to pick up an Ork project. I'd like to do a looted trukk conversion or something like that. Maybe even a Deff Dread or a unit of Kans. The new kits for those look great, plus seeing the Kans in the Space Marine video game multiplayer co-op levels makes them look crazy fun (though they aren't as fun on the table).
This is a problem, as I have so many thing already started. Drop pod, Genestealers, a Company Champion in bits in a bog on my desk, a Biker Chaplain in bitz in a bag, etc. This wouldn't be starting an entire Ork army. Just a looted vehicle or something ramshackle.
The other obstacles are that I don't really know much about rough conversions like this. If I were to do this project, I'd likely take the existing tank, drill a couple pilot holes, and use wire cutters to snip away sections. I think that would make things suitably rough for my vision, but am not sure it would paint up well. Painting Ork vehicles also looks like a big undertaking. I'd have to learn paint chipping and weathering techniques. It's a good project to learn on, so I'm not sure. Maybe after Xmas when life settles down some.


Sergeant Series: The Biker Sergeant

I run a Space Marine bike army very often. In fact, it's sort of my specialty. Writing about the Biker Sergeant is less theory and more practice for me (yes, some of the previous Sergeant Series articles were based somewhat in theory).

The basic Biker Sergeant doesn't fill much of a unique role any more, not that he ever really did. You see, Bike Squads are defined not by their leader, but by their special weapon troopers. For the most part, the Sergeant is just along for the ride. In Fifth Edition, he came stock with Ld9, so keeping him around helped on Morale tests.

The first upgrade to look at for the Sixth Edition Biker Sergeant is Veteran status. Its most obvious benefit to a Bike Squad is Ld9 over Ld8. Just like an Assault Squad, a failed Morale test is incredibly dangerous for a Bike Squad in the early going. 3d6 fall back moves when in your own deployment zone can quite often see an entire squad off the board in the first turn.
Less useful is the +1 attack provided by Veteran status. Biker Sergeants don't really need more attacks.

Why don't Biker Sergeants need attacks? Because Bike Squads, no matter how you slice it, are NOT melee units. Ever.
Your Biker Sergeant has access to all of the same melee options as the rest of the sergeants in the book: power weapon, lightning claw, power fist, and thunder hammer. You know what they all do by now, and none of them are worth taking on a Biker Sergeant due to points costs. You can argue that a power sword is good insurance, or that a powerfist serves well against walkers. Bikes are nimble and fast enough to avoid these units and situations. This is doubly true when you use the White Scars Chapter Tactic in order to gain Hit and Run. You should not be stuck in a hopeless combat with a walker for a whole game any more.
One situation of note is the challenge. Biker Sergeants can save their entire squad from a big monster or face-crushing character by issuing or accepting a challenge. On the charge, you will ALWAYS get your Hammer of Wrath attack, because once the challenge is accepted, you move the two combatants into base contact, triggering the Hammer of Wrath attack! You get one free hit at S4 and I10. Against small fry like Guard sergeants and Tau Shas-whatevers, it can end the challenge before it really begins, and mitigates the need to take that insurance power sword or maul.

Bike Squads are designed for delivery of shooting systems like meltaguns, plasma, and grav guns. Biker Sergeants have access to pistols, combi bolters, and storm bolters.
I'll tell you early to skip the storm bolter. It serves no purpose on a Biker Sergeant whose bike already provides a twin-linked bolter. The one additional bolt shot at >12" range will rarely be of use.
Pistols are of greater utility on a speedy unit like Bikes than they are on Marine infantry units. A plasma or grav pistol can be maneuvered into firing range by a Biker Sergeant quite well. The trick is finding the points for that pistol when compared to other options. It's important to remember that a Biker Sergeant will never get bonus attacks for having a pistol, as he lacks the capacity to have both a pistol and a close combat weapon.
Biker Sergeants can select from any of the four combi bolter types: plasma, flamer, melta, and grav. They're all useful, and my recommendation is to select the one that matches the special weapon in the squad. taking two plasma guns? Arm the sergeant with a combi-plasma. Grav guns? Combi-grav. It's a pretty simple formula.

Biker Sergeants can also access meltabombs. If you have the points, take them. You won't regret it.

I personally run all of my Biker Sergeants with a combi of some sort (though my plasma squad's sergeant carries a plasma pistol, because I like the look on folks' faces when I say I paid for a plasma pistol). I leave the melee upgrades to the Command Squad. You cannot buy both a shooting and a melee upgrade for Biker Sergeants due to his base wargear only including a bolt pistol. You can't do the "best of both worlds" stuff with this guy, like you can with a Tactical Squad Sergeant. Stick to shooting and grenades/HoW hits for bikes.


Sergeant Series: The Scout Sergeant

Space marine Scouts are some of my favorite models and units in the Space Marine Codex. I'm not sure what it is about these baby Marines, but they reek of cool factor. Go read Sons of Dorn or Courage and Honour and you'll see what I mean.

On the table, Scouts aren't as awesome as their literary counterparts, but they're still a fun unit to use. Every squad you field needs a sergeant, so let's dig into what makes a Scout Sergeant.

Scout Sergeants have the same stat line as every other Marine Sergeant, but have 4+ armor save instead of 3+ due to wearing carapace armor instead of power armor. Scout Sergeants can be armed with a shotgun, sniper rifle, bolter, or combat blade alongside their bolt pistol. Aside from the sniper rifle, the Scout Sergeant is the first unit leader who can take more than two "free" loadouts.

The shotgun versus combat blade/pistol debate is an ever-present conversation. It boils down to whether you prefer to have one extra die to roll in the Shooting phase before the charge, or one extra die in the Assault phase after the charge. Personally, I like the looks of the shotgun, so cool factor points win there. You can factor in Overwatch fire in the enemy turn as well, but depending on what you're going up against, you might be better served with the extra attack in melee over the extra shot in Overwatch.

Bolter-armed Scout Sergeants are also ok, and serve nicely as an objective camper or outflanking option. Sniper rifles now cost you a little extra, but it's not a crazy amount. The Scout Sergeant gains no true benefit by firing a sniper rifle, as all shots with Sniper are Precision Shots anyways. The extra 12" of range over the bolter is nice for backfield campers.

Scout Sergeants can get away with not taking any upgrades beyond a free swap and still be effective. The driving force behind Scout Squads are their special rules, not their armaments. Scout, Infiltrate, and Move Through Cover make them awesome disruption units and objective holders.

The Scout Sergeant can buy a teleport homer. It's an interesting option and a neat way to provide backup for your Scouts while also getting Terminators across the field without taking a Land Raider.

Meltabombs are also available to the Scout Sergeant, where they have a greater chance to be an offensive weapon than when placed in the hands of something like a Tactical Sergeant. The ability to infiltrate a Scout Squad and threaten enemy armor with the meltabombs is valuable. Put the squad in camo cloaks and infiltrate them into area terrain or ruins to help them stay alive, and then maneuver your way towards the target. Your opponent will have to expend some assets in removing the Scout Squad or risk losing their heavy armor.

Scout Sergeants can spend points to access any of the options in the Ranged Weapons and Melee Weapons lists.
Due to the flexible deployment options available to Scouts, all of the ranged weapons have some utility. The plasma and grav pistols are easier to get on target when you can Infiltrate and Scout, although they are still only a single shot per turn. However, if you're lucky enough to outflank on the proper side of the table, you might be able to get the proper angle for shots on a unit leader, or put a grav wound on a heavy firebase unit or something.
The combi bolter options are also useful in the hands of a Scout Sergeant. Instead of one plasma or grav shot, or slogging across the table with a combimelta or combiflamer, you can pop in closer by outflanking or infiltrating.
The combi option is the most solid selection for a Scout Sergeant if you plan to take some sort of upgrade over the basic bolter, shotgun, blade, or sniper rifle.

While Scout Sergeants do have access to all of the same melee options as other Marine sergeants, the days of melee glory are over for scouts. In times past, it was a viable option to take a powerfist and a combiflamer on a Scout Sergeant and outflank the unit to punch armor or drop the flame template on light infantry. In Sixth Edition, you can no longer assault on the turn you arrive from reserves or after making a Scout move. Melee options lose much of their utility under that restriction. The only melee upgrade I can really recommend is a simple power sword for "just in case" situations. The likelihood of a Scout Sergeant surviving to swing a powerfist or power axe isn't high enough to justify the cost.

The Veteran upgrade is almost always valuable for Scout Sergeants. The squads they lead are almost always operating deep behind enemy lines, or sitting behind your own lines providing token covering fire and solid objective retention. These situations requiring them to pass Morale tests to stick around or risk failing their mission entirely. The extra point of Leadership is important here.

The only Chapter Tactic that directly affects Scout Sergeants is the Black Templars. Rerolls to hit and rending in challenges can make a naked Scout Sergeant a little more useful, but not overwhelmingly so.


Little Things and Talky-Talky

I took a much-needed break from worrying about the hobby for the past week. It's necessary after a long build up to a big event. I've gotten over my general malaise about the Standoff, which is good.

Instead of drafting up lists or planning the next, big unit addition, I'm building and painting some stuff that I think I'll enjoy because they're fun models or projects.

I've made some very minor forward progress on my Genestealers. These guys are nice and simple to paint. I'm using the same general green recipe from the Tyrant, but applying it much quicker and with less minute attention to detail. They lack any brown chitin, so they paint up faster. in fact, the only brown you'll see on them is their little head plates. I think they'll turnout quite nicely for basic troops models once the ivory on the claws and talons and the purple of the ribbed flesh is done.

I also built and magnetized my first drop pod using the From the Warp tutorial. It took several days to get everything glued properly and assembled. Unfortunately, I somehow leaked glue into the pivot disc for the interior gun mount, so while it is magnetized, it no longer rotates. Bah. I've been using Testor's Liquid Cement instead of the usual plastic glue, and it has a capillary flow that is sometimes maddening. Lesson learned. The magnets I used for the doors help them stay shut, except for one. I'm not sure what happened, but one door just flops over without the magnets working. I triple-checked the polarity, so that can't be it.
Overall, it's a really neat kit that is a bitch and a half to put together. I have two doors that keep making contact with those little binding struts near the top of fins, though that does help them stay shut. My concern is that it'll chip off paint with repeated use. I also wish they'd included five of each chapter symbol for the doors, instead of four, but I understand that the sprues were crowded already. I'm pretty sure I already have a couple spares from past bitz trades anyways, and they're plentiful enough on eBay and Bartertown that it's not a huge issue. I was actually a little surprised at how hefty a model the drop pod is. I'd seen them on the table a hundred times, but never actually lifted and held one.

Forgeworld sent out an email about the revised Imperial Armour 2, and while it would have been a good idea for an XMas present from the wife, I went ahead an bought it for myself. There's just so much great stuff in there. I'm hoping the updated rules for the Deathstorm Drop Pod have been fixed to allow them to fire on landing.

Of course, all of this rambling is pretty pointless without some pictures. I need to sit down and take some properly-lit shots of the Tyrant and the Genestealers (maybe just one). It's been a while since I took any shots of anything! I'd tried to do a step-by-step on the process I used to make the Tyrant's base, but got so caught up in trial-and-error that I stopped taking shots a third of the way through.


Post-Standoff Post

The third annual Standish Standoff has come and gone, and I have some mixed feelings about it. This is going to be a long post, so be prepared.

The first thing I did when I arrived was get my army set up on my old display board. I was up the night before working on my Devastator Sergeant, and never did finish the new display box/board. If you remember, I brought a half-company of Ultramarines. Three Tac Squads in Rhinos, one Assault Squad, a Devastator Squad, Cato Sicarius and his Command Squad in a Land Raider Crusader, and an Aegis Defense Line with an Icarus Lascannon. After that, I dropped off my two entries into the painting competition: my 5-man Sternguard squad in the Squad category and my Hive Tyrant in the 60mm category.

My first game was against Daemons, an almost entirely scratch built force run by a guy I've played a couple times before. We were tied 1-1 in lifetime games. We played a kill point mission with objectives as secondary and destruction of all HQs as tertiary. It was a solid, fun game that I took primary on, we split secondary and tertiary. Technically a win for me, so now I'm up 2 games to 1. I discovered that I liked the 96" range of the Icarus, but it wasn't overly useful against the one flying monster in the Daemon list.

Second game was against a Nid list with monsters and Gaunts. Flyrant with double twinned devourers, HQ Tervigon, Troop Tervigon, 20 Devilgaunts, 20 Hormagaunts, Raveners (repurposed Warriors counts-as Raveners), Ymgarl Genestealers, the Doom in a Pod, and a Trygon Prime. Primary objective was objectives (3 on the board, each counting as a Relic from the BRB missions), secondary was kill points, and tertiary was...something I forget. There were simply too many monsters to kill off. The highlight of the game for me was using Sicarius to challenge the incoming Trygon, and lopping off its head with a Coup De Gras attack. I lost the primary, took the secondary, and I can't remember who got tertiary. The ADL was a hindrance for me in this game, blocking in my units and generally being a pain in the ass. I should have jammed it up in a far corner and forgotten about it. There's no rule that the Icarus has to be behind the line, or anywhere NEAR the line, so I could have dumped the ADL and just used the Icarus in my zone.

My final game was against the new Eldar Serpent list. Farseer on a bike accompanied by a bunch of Warlocks on bikes with all the buff powers (+Armor, +Cover, Guide, Fortune, blah blah), three minimum sized Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents with scatter lasers, minimum Fire Dragons in a Serpent with scatter lasers, a Fire prism, and the obligatory Wraithknight with sun cannon and scatter lasers. It was the first time I had played against the new Eldar. Before this game, I'd told the folks who complained loudest about Serpent Spam that it wasn't that bad.
It is that bad.
My opponent was a nice guy, but the army is absolutely zero fun to play against. Every weapon on every unit that isn't buttoned up inside a transport is twin linked or made twin linked with Guide. If it doesn't put out 12 shots of some type a turn, it's an AP3 or better blast weapon. All at long range. After the first turn and Night Fight expired, I felt like I might as well just ask which units should be removed from the board each turn. It would have saved time. My fluffy army that took a comp hit to perfectly represent a Codex formation put up no resistance whatsoever to an army that managed a perfect comp score while still building the most soul-sucking list possible.

I find that this happens to me in every large event/tourney I go to. I have two good games, and then the day is given a black eye when I face a list like this in the final round. I've had it happen with Grey Knights, Necrons, and now Eldar.

At the end of the day was the awards ceremony (duh, lol). I somehow managed second place with my Sternguard, and was very surprised. There were squads I felt were better than mine.
My Hive Tyrant also took second, and again I was surprised.

I made the drive home feeling...dissatisfied? I can't tell if it's because that last game sent me home feeling abused and taken advantage of, or if it was an inadvertent deflation of ego from the Hive Tyrant not taking top spot in its category. One minor thing I noticed is that some of the efforts I put in for others' sakes go unnoticed. Last month at Shocktober, I wrote a way-too-long story into for my army and attached it to my army list. I think it contributed to my Dorka's Choice award, but my actual opponents, bar one, showed no interest in it. Yes, it was long, and I can understand not wanting to sit down with it before a game. So for the Standoff, I took a different approach. I grabbed some quotes from the Codex Astartes that described each unit in the army and its role, and a Marneus Calgar quote that made the transition to the army itself. I stapled that sheet to the FRONT of each copy my army list that I gave to my opponents. Only one had any interest in it. One flipped it without a passing glance, and one tore it off entirely. Only the first player kept the copy of the list I gave out. The others left it on the table when they left.
Is that the wrong place for an army into? The wrong time? I'm not sure. When I get things like that, I either read them during deployment/setup, or if they're long I read them after the game. If my opponents give me a list to keep, I keep it.

I think my malaise comes from the general question of "Why do I bother with this?" I have always been a proponent of the "social contract" of wargaming. The game involves two people, each of whom is playing a game. For fun. when I build armies for events, I want them to be fun and interesting to play against. A half-company might be boring to some, so I attempt to use fiction or quotes to help explain WHY the army even exists on the table. I'm putting forth great effort in painting, building a list, and including fiction or fluff for both myself and my opponent. When I play the game and get what I interpret as "that's cute, shut up and roll dice," it hurts my tender feelings. The whole lead-in to the event feels like wasted effort if I face a list designed purely to kick teeth, or the effort I expend is dismissed due to indifference. You cannot pick your opponents in a 40-man randomly paired event, but I guess I was hoping for a larger percentage of the field to contain like-minded individuals.

Where do I go from here? Do I continue to expend heart and energy on efforts that may or may not be noticed or appreciated by my opponents, or do I just stop and roll the damned dice? Do I shed the willingness to play within the universe of the game, and just play the hardest list I can? Do I break my brushes and pen in frustration and throw them in the ocean?

40K is a creative outlet for me. I like the quiet times of painting and writing and imagining, but you can only throw so much out into the void before futility sets in. I do all of this stuff because it calms me down and fills a creative need, but I also do it because I want other people to share my vision and stories. I don't want to be lauded for my efforts, but I would like them at least noticed by my opponents, their intended audience.


Three Days and a Wake Up

Taking a little break from the Sergeant Series today to update on my progress towards the third annual Standish Standoff.
I've been plugging along on bolter Marines in order to fill out my Devastator Squad. I'm happy to say that I finished the third and final Marine last night after my hockey game. I then primed the squad's sergeant, and barring disaster, he'll be done for Saturday as well.
if I have time, I'd also like to go back and pretty up my Cato Sicarius stand-in (built from the Marine Commander box aaaaages ago). His power sword no longer matches my current technique, and his gold parts are dull and flat.

I'd spent many hours this past weekend building a new, fancy army display tray. It's a 24x18 flip-top box made of pine and MDF (Eucaboard). I learned to use my table saw and cut grooves for the MDF in the lid section and used pocket screws to join it all. It looks sweet, and I'm very proud of it, but I don't think there's any possible way I can have it ready for Saturday. It needs to have some dents and gaps filled with putty, resanded, stained, and then the display section built. I want it to look like an ancient Macraggian temple, with a large (6-7" diameter) Ultramarine mosaic floor in the center, sand and fallen doric columns all around. I might skip the fallen columns, as that sort of stuff tends to block placement of the actual models cleanly on the board. I also have plans to put strong rare-earth magnets underneath in certain areas so I can paint up small pieces of terrain like ruined temple corners and place them in ways that highlight the army. I left room in the bottom of the box to put a foam tray to hold all those pieces as I create them.
Looks like I'll be bringing the old display board one last time.

I am very VERY happy to report that my entries for the Bronze Spawn painting competition are complete. I'm throwing my Sternguard unit in the Unit category for giggles, but my piece de resistance is my Hive Tyrant, and he goes in the 60mm category. I spent a lot of time on his base, and I feel it really turned out nicely. It's no longer just some painted sand and static grass. It looks like a real landscape that is slowly being sucked of life by the Tyranid invasion. I'm not sharing pics until after the event, though. No one sees the completed model until it's entered (except my wife).

It will be nice to breathe a big exhalation of relief once the event is over, win, lose, or draw. I'm starting to feel some painting burnout from the frantic race to get Marine infantry done in time. After the Standoff, I'm going to switch gears and work on three projects: a drop pod (fully magnetized using Ron's tutorial at From the Warp), the five Genestealers I have literally hanging from my paint rack (I hung them all by their claws over the top of the rack, making hissing and roaring noises while I did so), and a Company Champion model with some mid-level reposing work done to him. Maybe a standard bearer after that. I'm trying to avoid doing any "painting for a list" type of stuff for a while. I'm even considering painting something that isn't 40K at all as a break. A Savage Orc Big Boss perhaps? Or a Vampire Counts Wight King?

I'll have an event recap up as soon as I can after the Standoff is over. Til then, radio silence (or another article in the Sergeant Series).


Sergeant Series: The Tactical Sergeant

Next up in the Sergeant Series is the humble sergeant of the Tactical Squad. I'm going to go out on a limb and describe the Tactical sergeant as the most common model in a Marine army. While he might be common and ordinary, I feel the Tactical Sergeant is the hardest one to kit in the whole codex.

The root of the problem is the Tactical Squad itself. The squad is designed to be flexible and durable, but able to be honed slightly towards a specialized role. Marine players have debated the role and merits of the tactical squad for years now, with no clear winner. Typically, a sergeant will complement the role the squad has been given or make up for its failings.

There are so many ways to design a Tactical squad that the best way to look at a sergeant is by analyzing all of his options and deciding which situation each is appropriate for. There is truly no bad option for a tactical sergeant, though there are bad combinations of individual upgrades or upgrade/squad combos.

I'll start with mentioning the teleport homer. Tactical sergeants have had access to this for a while, and all it does is allow a unit in Terminator armor to deepstrike within 6" of the sergeant without scattering. It only works for Terminators! Not drop pods, not units moving by Gate of Infinity, or any of that garbage. I'm so happy they cleared up the language on this one, so we don't have people claiming that Gate is a "teleport because there's no definition of teleport in the rulebooks! NYAH!"
It's a limited utility item that you won't see a lot. First, because the sergeant has to be alive to use it. Second, because the most popular Terminators are still Assault Terminators, who can't do anything but run after the arrive from deepstrike. With the amount of AP2 firepower in the game today, it's an even worse idea to deepstrike Assault Terminators than it used to be. It'll work better with Tactical Terminators who can shoot, but the standard range of stormbolters makes that a dicey choice.
It can be done if you have a specific plan, like dropping the TDA unit behind a Rhino in which the Tactical Squad is riding, or behind terrain features.

Tactical sergeants, like just about every other sergeant, can take meltabombs. They serve the same purpose as mentioned in previous articles. They're cheap insurance upgrades that can put a major dent in armored units. It's cheap enough to tack on to any other upgrade, and not identically redundant to any of the upgrades available to the Tactical sergeant.

The ranged weapons available to a Tactical sergeant are plasma pistols, grav pistols, storm bolters, and each flavor of combibolter (grav, plasma, melta, flamer).
The ideal range for a Tactical squad is 12" in order to put as many bolters on target as possible. That's also a great range for pistols. Ok, it's the ONLY range for pistols. If you can stomach the steep points cost of a plasma pistol or grav pistol, they're pretty solid options. I'd take them alongside special weapons of the matching type. Grav gun+grav pistol, or plasma gun+plasma pistol. An interesting side note: Tactical sergeants are able to take two pistols by trading their bolter for a chainsword, and then their bolt pistol and the chainsword for plasma or grav pistols. So the tactical sergeant is now the gunslinger, while the Assault sergeant, who could reliably get range for those weapons, is not. Of course, double pistols would be usable when leading a drop pod squad...
Alternatively, you can go with the combibolter for fewer points, but a single usage. This more closely matches the special weapon in the squad, but just the one time. Some players argue that a Tactical squad will only ever get one chance to fire is special weaponry, and combis fit exactly with that "one is all you get" mindset. However, the conflicting view point contends that the idea of "one is all you get" is incorrect. The big decision for people who think this way is [I]when[/I] to use the combi part of the weapon. Do you burn the flamer at the first opportunity, or wait from an ideal moment? It's a decision that becomes easier with practice.
A storm bolter is an ok choice for a Tactical sergeant. It ensures you always get two bolt shots from him, regardless of whether you moved or not, and all the way from 24" to 1". I haven't built a sergeant with a storm bolter yet, but I have plans to do so. I think it's a nice touch for a unit that won't be driving upfield much. One of my favorite plans is to run Cato Sicarius, and give one Tactical squad Counter Attack. This squad is a pure objective holder. They pour out bolter fire into oncoming infantry, and then when the wave hits they roll a Ld test and double their attacks when charged. The plan requires the squad to be armed with a heavy bolter and a flamer, and a sergeant with a storm bolter would slot in nicely there. Of course, a regular bolter or combiflamer will still fit in this squad and do just fine. but the storm bolter puts out two shots all game long, both of which are subject to Precision Shots. If you believe in long odds, the storm bolter gives you greater chances to put bolt shots where you want them.

Melee upgrades should be planned alongside your shooting upgrade, if you're taking a shooting upgrade. Tactical sergeants have access to the standard field of melee options: power weapon, lightning claw, power fist, and thunder hammer. You can also take two of any of the options by trading bolter for chainsword, and then boltpistol and the chainsword for the two melee weapons.
You can either go with the complimentary selection if you're into specializing an entire squad for one task, or you can elect to try the gap-filling selection if you like your squads to be able to do a little of everything.
An example of complimentary armament would be taking a power sword or lightning claw in a squad geared towards killing infantry, with a missile launcher or heavy bolter and flamer. An example of a gap-filling selection would be taking a power fist in a squad armed for heavy infantry work with a plasma cannon and plasma gun. The idea behind the first is to add more power of the selected type to a single target type. The idea behind the second is to make up for the shortcomings of the unit so it cannot be taken advantage of by specific enemy units.
I've been known to use both methods, depending on my feelings for the day and the composition of the rest of my army. For example, if I have multiple units with power fists, I probably won't take one on the Tactical squad.

I've never been a fan of loading up a single sergeant with tons of war gear, and that goes double in the age of Precision Shots and challenges. A sergeant tricked out with a thunder hammer, combibolter, meltabombs and Veteran status is sniped out of a squad just as easily as a sergeant with a bolt pistol and chainsword. I like to keep purchases at or under the 20-point mark for Tactical sergeants.

Next up is Veteran status. On a Tactical sergeant, veteran status depends on the overall role you've envisioned for the unit. If it's a unit designed to advance forward, a Veteran Sergeant improves the odds of the squad passing morale tests to KEEP moving forward, as well as adding an extra attack should they get stuck in combat. If the unit is supposed to hold a rear objective at all costs, the bonus Leadership is helpful to keep you from failing morale tests, and thereby running off the board. A general all-rounder squad might not need Veteran status to accomplish its mission.

There are a few Chapter Tactics that directly affect Tactical sergeants. Ultramarines is pretty obvious, giving you rerolls to shooting for a turn when using the Tactical Doctrine. This can help you get combibolters on target when they're most needed.
Imperial Fists gives a sergeant with a storm bolter or bolter better odds of landing hits.
A Black Templars sergeant (yes, they CAN take regular Tactical Squads) will make better use of melee upgrades doe to rerolls to hit and the addition of Rending when in a challenge.

So, to sum up, Tactical sergeants are as flexible as the squad they lead. You can use them to help the squad shore up a deficiency, or to further hone the fine point of a specialized squad. these guys can really do almost anything, within reason.


Sergeant Series: The Assault Sergeant

I enjoyed writing the article about Devastator Sergeants so much, that I went back and renamed the post, and plan to write an article on sergeants for every codex unit that has options.

This second article focuses on the sergeant leading the much-maligned Assault Squad. Yes, "much-maligned." The world at large seems to hate Assault Marine squads due to their points cost and limited armament options. Everyone wants Space Marine Assault Squads to have the same armament options as Blood Angel Assault Squads. If we had that, what would make the Blood Angels special? That's a tired debate I don't care to rehash here, so on to the discussion of Assault Marine sergeants!

The very first thing we have to look at when talking about an Assault Marine sergeant is the unit's role on the battlefield. The default setup for Assault Marine squads provides the default Marine statline, power armor, a bolt pistol, a chainsword, frags and kraks, and a jump pack. You can trade in all of the jump packs in the unit for a free Rhino or Drop Pod if you want.
This wargear load makes Assault Marines into a bully unit that relies on weight of dice to bring things down. Without purchasing any sort of upgrades, a 10-man Assault Squad throws out 30 S4, WS4 attacks on the charge, and 20 when receiving one. This is the kind of unit you want smashing into units with low Toughness or poor saves, like Guardsmen or Orks. The unit also excels when charging Marine equivalent units that aren't specialized for melee (Tactical Squads, Bikes, etc).

The unit is mobile, being Jump Infantry. They can hop across the table 12" at a time or arrive by deepstrike.

So, how does a sergeant augment those abilities?
The first upgrade he has access to is a pistol swap. he can trade in the trusty bolt pistol for a plasma or grav pistol. Both cost the same number of points and they have similar primary targets. However, up to two squad members can also take plasma pistols, but none can take grav pistols. I feel the plasma pistol is slightly more useful due to the matching squad pistols. It's important to note that the sergeant only get ONE pistol upgrade. The 5th Edition codex allowed the sergeant to trade both his pistol and chainsword for a plasma pistol. That option no longer exists. Sadly, that means the model I made with two plasma pistols is no longer legal.
The plasma pistol upgrade carries the Gets Hot risk, on a single-wound model who may or may not be crucial to the unit he leads. The double-plasma sergeant I used to use was designed to make full use of deepstrike and combat squad rules. I would split the unit on arrival to contain one half with all the plasma, and the other half with all basic models. I'd then sink all those plasma shots into a Terminator unit, Monster, or other vulnerable target. This can still be done, but you'll lose 25% of the plasma shots, as well as the ability to decide to combat squad on arrival (you have to declare combat squadding before the game begins now). It's a very niche role, and not really worth the effort any more unless you're really hard up for sources of plasma, or are going for a themed list.

Sergeants can now only trade their chainsword (and/or pistol) for a melee upgrade: power weapon, lightning claw, thunder hammer or power fist. This is where the sergeant in an Assault Squad earns his paycheck and he's got a lot of options to choose from.
Because the Assault Squad is a bully unit that picks on weak or low save units, Assault Sergeants can actually get away with using a power maul. It bypasses the armor of the squad's ideal targets, and provides a bunch of S6 attacks against vehicles. However, it falls flat against 3+ armor or better.
A power lance is also useful on this sergeant because Assault Squads tend to be the aggressors in a melee because of their speed.
The power sword is the "Average Joe" of the power weapon options. It gets more attacks than its closest equivalent (lightning claw), but fewer wounds. it's the jack-of-all trades of the power weapon world.
I've never been a big fan of I1 weapons on single-wound characters due to the challenge rules. The points investment involved in equipping a sergeant with a power axe or fist is quickly flushed down the toilet when challenged by some chump Guard sergeant with a power sword, or assured mutual destruction when pitted against an Ork Nob with a power klaw. I don't like losing 40+ point models before they can swing. That being said, both weapons give added AP2 punch to the unit and in the case of the fist, the ability to peel open vehicles or cause instant death to a wide range of opponents.
The thunder hammer is similar to the powerfist in its role, but is also Concussive. It's neat, but falls into the same traps the fist and axe fall into.
A lightning claw is a nice alternative to a sword. it allows attacks at initiative (though one fewer) and wounds more often. If you really want an extra attack, you can also take a pair of claws by trading in both the pistol and the chainsword. In fact, you can get two of any of the melee weapons this way.
Fans of flexibility could take a power sword and a power axe, power maul and axe, lance and axe, and so on. Double power fists are available, as are double hammers. Those last two options are astronomical in price, so I'd skip them entirely as they both only add +1A for the crazy investment in points. Two power weapons would get you the +1A, and some flexibility for only a small number of points over the Veteran upgrade. You'd lose out on a single bolt pistol shot, which shouldn't be a consideration at all.

Deciding which melee upgrade to take depends on whether or not you upgrade the sergeant to Veteran status. As we talked about in the Devastator article, Veteran status gives +1A and +1 Ld. Assault squads will benefit from the increased Leadership early in the game because they fall back 3d6" on a failed Morale test. When you're still in your deployment zone, there's a good chance the unit will run right off the board early.
The bonus attack greatly impacts how different power weapon options perform against different targets. For example, in the hands of a non-Veteran sergeant on the charge, both a power sword and a lightning claw will cause .75 unsaved wounds to an MEQ statline. But in the hands of a Veteran sergeant in the same situation, the sword causes 1 wound, while the claw causes 1.13. 13% better.
A power maul in the same situation, which allows armor saves by the MEQ model, would result in 1.09 unsaved wounds by a Veteran, while only .82 by a non-Veteran.
Whether you take Veteran status is your choice to make, but in the majority of situations it will be a useful addition.

Assault Squad sergeants also have access to a combat shield for a marginal points cost. It gives a 6+ invulnerable save. I feel that a 6+ invulnerable isn't worth any number of points on a Space Marine model. The situations in which a sergeant would need a 6+ invulnerable are few, and the Look Out Sir! rules outshine the appeal of that long-shot save. The only time I can see it being remotely useful is in a challenge against a weaker opponent with a power sword, like that chump Guard sergeant. It fights long odds with long odds. If that's your play style and mindset, buy the shield.

Assault sergeants also have access to meltabombs, which are always a good buy. I'd rather spend points here than on a 6+ invulnerable save! Meltabombs on a front-line unit are wonderful walker repellent, as well as being threatening to just about every assaultable vehicle in the game (minus the Land Raider Achilles, but who runs that?).

So there you have it, the gamut of options available to the sergeant in an Assault Squad. Which is best? Well, if you're going hunting for weakling units, I'd stick with a pistol and lightning claw, Veteran status, and meltabombs if you feel like it. If you think you can pull off the TDA-hunter build I used to use, take the plasma pistol, skip Veteran status, and no meltabombs. The last option is to take a power fist and Veteran status to make a transport-killing unit that clamps krak grenades and punches in the back armor of those Rhinos and Chimeras.

A quick note should be added here for Chapter Tactics. Only two directly affect Assault Squad sergeants: Raven Guard and Black Templars. Raven Guard gives the sergeant an always-on Hammer of Wrath attack. HoW is nice, but it comes into its own in challenges. You still get the HoW hit when challenged, and it MUST be directed at your challenge opponent. That S4 hit can put an extra wound on an Ork Nob, allowing your power sword to finish it off at I4, or knock down the Guard sergeant before he can swing at all. Never forget to use those hits! They can save an expensive power fist sergeant.
Black Templars will give you an edge in a challenge with Rending and rerolls to hit. This gives the so-so power sword sergeant some teeth, or makes the lightning claw into a blender that can score AP2 hits. People have complained that Templars were neutered with their inclusion in the Marine codex. I think they're a little short sighted.


Sergeant Series: The Devastator Sergeant

My Standish Standoff list contains a full unit of Devastators. Every Devastator unit has to include the obligatory sergeant, and I kept mine bare bones. Bolter, bolt pistol, and signum.
While cleaning parts and deciding on a pose for my Devastator sergeant, last night, I got to thinking about all the possible armaments and load-outs this one guy can have.

On the surface, a Dev sergeant is identical to a sergeant in a Tactical squad. You start with the typical Marine stat line, a bolter, bolt pistol, frags/kraks, and power armor. However, the Devastator sergeant gets a signum, which allows one model in his unit to fire at BS5, so long as the sergeant is alive and does not fire in the Shooting phase himself. It's a very handy tool.

The Dev sergeant is able to purchase any upgrade you can typically purchase for a Tac sergeant. Ranged weapons like pistols and combi-bolters, as well as melee weapons like power weapons and fists. You can also take the Veteran upgrade, as well as meltabombs.

In my opinion, the first thing you have to decide on is Veteran status. Taking the upgrade gives you one extra Attack and one point of Leadership. So, two attacks base instead of one, and Ld9 instead of Ld8. I don't feel an additional attack in melee is useful for a model in a shooting-dedicated unit. The additional point of leadership, however, is useful.
Devastators are typically a backfield unit. They have a nice, long range band with all of their weapons, which means they're often sitting near your back table edge. This position means that failed Morale tests are dangerous. Lose two or three Marines in a turn and you're risking falling back off the board. Even if you don't fall off the board, the involuntary movement means you lose a turn of shooting as you regroup and regain your fire lanes (unless you are running Ultramarines Chapter Tactics and burn your Devastator Doctrine for the turn).

Meltabombs have always been an upgrade you take as a safety net or last-ditch option. They're cheap enough to throw in without thinking too hard. For Devs, they don't make quite as much sense. You can' throw meltabombs, so they're only applicable in melee against a monstrous creature or a vehicle. Most MCs that charge into a unit whose sergeant has meltabombs tends to challenge out that sergeant to remove the bombs entirely (either by killing the sergeant with AP2 wounds or forcing the denial of the challenge). Walkers are seriously threatened by meltabombs, but if anything but a drop podded Dreadnought ends up in close with your Devastators, I think you may have done something fundamentally wrong that meltabombs won't fix.

That brings us neatly into the melee weapon options. Every one of these falls under the same logic as meltabombs and the Veteran upgrade: Devs aren't a melee unit. If they find themselves in a fistfight, something has gone terribly wrong. Do you really want to spend the heavy points investment in something like a power fist that you may not/probably won't use?

By my thinking, the only viable options besides Veteran status are the ranged weapons, as they match the role of the unit. But which one to take?

I'd write the pistol options (grav and plasma) off immediately, due to their 12" range. Both pistol types are too expensive to take as insurance, single-shot weaponry. I'd skip the combi-flamer and combi-melta for the exact same reason, though they are less expensive as insurance.
A combi-grav is a neat little gem, but its max range is only half that of the weapons it most closely shares a target priority with (plasma cannons, fired at medium and heavy infantry). It does put out a solid three shots when stationary, and the signum is nearly useless for plasma cannon Devastators. I'd say a combi-grav is an "ok, not great" choice.
All that's left is the storm bolter. It's an Assault 2, 24" range weapon, and is as cheap an upgrade as you can get. That range band is at least useful for some of the heavy weapons it'll be alongside. When the unit packs multimeltas, you'll want to use the signum. Plasma cannons make the storm bolter shots into an afterthought, but more dice rolled for shooting is never a bad thing. Lascannons are like multimeltas, where you want the signum instead. Missile launchers split the difference, where they want the signum if you're firing krak/flakk, but the storm bolter shots if you're firing frag. Your closest relative for the storm bolter will be heavy bolters. If you calculate it all out, upping a single heavy bolter to BS5 over BS4 will net you about the same number of wounds on Toughness 4 models as using the storm bolter instead. The difference is only about .30 wounds in favor of the storm bolter.

After all of that rambling, my theory is that there are only two real choices to make when kitting a Devastator Sergeant: veteran or not, and storm bolter, combi-bolter, or regular bolter.
Vet status depends on what other Leadership mechanics are in your army and where. For my Standoff list, I'm running Cato Sicarius, who gives a blanket Ld10 to your army, so long as he's alive. That makes Vet status moot for the Dev sergeant. I feel that if Sicarius is dead early enough for the Devs' Leadership value to matter, I'm on the downslope anyways.
The other option is a banner in a Command Squad or Honor Guard. Honor Guard can't be made into fire support units, so their banner probably won't be anywhere near the Devs. Command Squads can take a whole lot of plasma guns and become some sort of mid-range firebase unit, parked near the Devs, but it's unlikely.
The bolter-or-not-bolter question really depends on how you arm the heavy weapons Marines, and if you're a fan of small points spent on small probability wargear (the statistical chance a storm bolter by itself will kill a MEQ model is small, but when stacked up alongside other factors, it can add up).

Well, there's some mental vomit of "40k tactics" talk for you. I'm sure I've missed something in this pages-long post, so feel free to discuss the math, the options, and the situations for which you'd arm a Devastator Sergeant.


Situation Report, beginning of November

It's the beginning of a new month, and sometimes I like to use the beginning of a month to sit down and map out my hobby progress and plans. it helps a tiny little bit in clarifying what I'm doing hobby-wise, and why I'm doing it.

First up is my army list for Standish Standoff 3. Way back at the beginning of summer, I'd planned on bringing a retooled "all fast" bike list. The composition requirements we use at the Standoff require that you fill all your FOC slots (1-1-3-1-1) before taking a second slot of any type, if you want to avoid penalties. I had a solid 1750 list a couple months ago after the new Marine Codex dropped, but it would be obliterated purely on composition points at the Standoff. I could apply for a theme waiver, but I don't think it would warrant enough of a waiver to be worth it. It runs with 2 HQs, two non-slot HQs, three or four Troops, three Fast Attack, no Elites, and no Heavy Support. My plan was to expand the list to match the slot-filling composition scoring. I wanted to add Vanguard Vets as Elites (hooray for moving them where they belong!), and a Stormraven in Heavy Support. None of those models happened, so that plan is out the window.

Instead, I'm planning to run a list I've ALWAYS wanted to run: Classic Half-Company. The list takes the standard Ultramarine Battle Company layout of 6 Tactical, 2 Assault, and 2 Devastator squads and halves it to fit into a non-Apocalypse points level. So, the list contains 3 Tactical, 1 Assault, and 1 Devastator squad. Add in Cato Sicarius and a Command Squad, and give them a Land Raider Crusader to ride in and you've got a Codex-perfect army list. It does take a 5 point hit for having a second Heavy slot without having any Elites, but that's a surmountable number. I'd tried some other iterations of the list that had perfect comp scores, like swapping the Command for some Sternguard, but it just didn't "feel" right. Cato doesn't run with Sternguard in any of the fiction I've ever read. He runs with a Command Squad.

So, I'm painting toward that list. Funnily enough, the only thing keeping me from running this in the past (besides old points costs) was not having enough bolter-armed Marines. I was three short, so I'm currently working on those three grunts. The first one is done all of his base painting, and awaiting a coat of sealer tonight before he gets freehand symbols on his shoulders.

I'm also planning on painting up a new sergeant for the Devastator squad. Allof the sergeants I have now are armed for tactical Squad duty with bolt pistol and some form of melee weapon. Devestator sergeants don't need any of those, so this one will have just his pistol and a bolter, as well as his signum backpack and a head with some bionic targeters.

I've made progress on the base for my Hive Tyrant, which also needs to be done by the 23rd for the Standoff. I'm collecting images for a step-by-step post on the base, so I won't share them early. It looks great though.

The brood of five Genestealers I've been staring at for months is still sitting at the wash stage. They're just not urgent enough of a project to work on right now. I'm also considering selling off all the Nid sprues I have collected, but I might wait until the new book drops next year in order to maximize on sales price (due to popularity).

As for Marines going forward, I'm juggling some plans. I'd like to get my two drop pods built and painted, but have also been hankering to get a Bike Chaplain done (I've already bought most of the parts I needed), as well as a Company Champion and a Company Standard Bearer to round out the options available to my Command Squads.


Magic Markers

I've been rereading the new Marine codex over the last couple nights while watching hockey, and noticed that there are a lot of "once per game" effects in the Chapter Tactics and Warlord Traits tables. I'm terrible at remembering to use once per game effects. I'll run a Chapter Master and completely forget he has his orbital bombardment if I don't use it on the first turn.

To fix this, I've decided to brainstorm some ideas for markers for each effect.

Here's the list so far:

Warlord Traits
Angel of Death - one of the large DA angel icons, attached to a 25mm base. This one isn't a once-per-game, but it's easy to forget. If your HQ has a 25mm token following him around, you're less likely to forget to force those Fear checks.

Sword of the Imperium - One or two of the scabbarded Templar power swords attached to a 25mm base. Same deal as the Angel, but you can remove the marker once you've burned the single-use Furious Charge rule.

Storm of Fire - Two, three, or four spare bolters on a 25mm base. These easily represent a "storm of fire".

Rites of War - A back banner on a 25mm base, to represent what is essentially a built-in banner effect. A full on company banner would be too large and too distracting.

Iron Resolve - This one won't use bits. Just a "+1" cut from plasticard, with a few rivets added on to make it look like "iron". Simple.

Champion of Humanity - Not sure on this one, but my gut is to go with some heads on a pike, though that is a little Chaos-y. Maybe a single Epic Space Marine on a tiny plinth to represent a trophy?

Ultramarines Chapter Tactics
These are crazy simple, being just plasticard unit symbols for each type on 25mm or 40mm bases. I also thought about making some sort of flip-up/flip-down thing to represent used/unused doctrines. Maybe even three 25mm bases with each symbol in white, glued back-to-back with another base with the same symbol in red or black. Put them on a 60mm scenic base, with white side up for "available" and red or black for "used."

For the orbital bombardment, I'll probably just attach one of the large missiles from the Whirlwind kit to a 25mm base.

I don't think I'll go to any great lengths on painting these. Primer and some gold paint for the markers, black/white for the symbols.


New Forgeworld Space Marine rule sheets

Just got this bit of news over the wire. Forgeworld has just released their updated rules for 6th Edition Marines. You've got a comprehensive Chapter tactics sheet for all of the chapters FW has focused on in their books, and a retooling of just about every Marine character they've had.
Links here:


I've only skimmed them so far, but my initial gut response is "Wow."

The characters are neat, but Bray'arth Ashmantle stands out as really good. You better bring some lascannons to down that bad boy. Of course, he's a Salamander, which means his weapons are short ranged and he's slow as molasses. He'll be slogging across the table. You're probably thinking "drop pod!" but to play spoiler: he can't take one.

The best part are the Chapter Tactics though. There are some really interesting ones, like the Fire Hawks who get +1S on flame weapons when they arrive from Deepstrike, and +1S to HoW hits. Raptors, who get the option to change their bolters and bolt pistols to Heavy 1, Rending if they don't move. All of the Tactics have a reason, and fit the chapter's background.

Of course, every one of the new Characters and Tactics can be run using the standard Marine codex, which enters into that "is it Ok to run X as Y?" conundrum. Knight-Captain Elam Courbray is a jump pack Captain of the Fire Hawks, and provides some seriously cool rules (and the Fire Hawks' Chapter tactics). But should you run him under those rules while the model is painted as an Ultramarine? It's the same problem I ran into regarding White Scars, but adds the extra element of Forgeworld rules. Is it different to run counts-as using Forgeworld rules than to run counts-as within your core codex?

It's something to think about, and also an opportunity to paint something other than blue...


Event Summary

A group of gaming buddies from my FLGS and I all drove down to Watertown, MA this weekend for a tournament hosted by the boys of the Dorkamorka gaming club. Shell Shocktober 2.

They're a group that values the "spirit" of 40K very highly. Painting, conversions, awesome terrain, and non-WAAC army lists that have a story to them. It's like my dream environment, where people know how to play the game well, but also how to play for fun and look good doing so.

I loaded up my case with the army list I posted last time, and printed off three copies of my stupidly long intro story. I didn't sleep much on Friday night, between staying up too late working on army stuff and playing State of Decay and my son waking up a couple times during the night. By the time I reached our rendezvous point at the commuter lot, I was wiped out. I slept the whole 2 hour drive down.

On arrival, we got settled, chatted a bit, and then got into the games. My first game was against a very cool-looking Sons of Medusa army, heavy on Tactical Marines. Vindicator, Rifledread, Master of the Forge with a lone servitor, Hammernators, TDA Librarian, and a small Scout squad.
We had Night Fight the first turn, meaning the whole first turn was spent doing a whole lot of nothing. Marine-on-Marine is already a slapfight, but when you add Night Fight it becomes a pillow fight complete with footy pajamas.
We basically traded bolter wounds and armor saves for the whole game, and the end result was a draw on primary objectives and a slight advantage on secondary objectives to my opponent. This was actually the first game I'd ever played in 6th using actual 6th Edition secondary objectives. We don't use them at the FLGS.
It was also the first game I'd played using the Ultramarine Chapter Tactics. I knew I had them available, but kept forgetting that they had to be declared at the very beginning of my turn. I'd find a spot in which I wanted or planned to use them, but had forgotten to declare them! ARGH! My opponent also kept forgetting that his Marines get a 6+ Feel No Pain roll, but I started reminding him once he realized it from about turn four onward.

My second game was against a jaw-dropping Valhalan army. You can see the player's army construction progress in this thread. He ran it in a Valhalan theme as well, with a couple huge blob squads, a PCS, commissars, heavy weapon teams, a couple of Russ tanks, and a couple of squadroned Basilisks, all firing from behind a defense line with quad gun. We played on a snow board, which was a perfect backdrop for the fight.
I ended up winning big points this one, but only because my opponent's scatter dice began to betray him and my Terminators were triple-blessed by the Emperor or something. The board was studded with little stands of trees that were area terrain, so I was marching from stand to stand with my Marines in order to get some sort of protection from the Basilisks and Russes. If the big guns hadn't started deviating like mad, I'd have been splattered early. In the end, I held up and managed to march enough small groups of marines to the center to win it. As mentioned, my Terminators le the advance, and made a half-billion successful armor saves. Only one Terminator died the whole game.
One lowlight of the game was in my final turn. I needed to kill both the leading edge of a blob squad to remove them from the objective, and then the last surviving Russ for a bonus secondary point for killing all of your opponent's tanks. I cleared the infantry using shots from my tacticals and LRC, freeing up my Terminators to turn and fire into the last Russ. I was in side arc, so the Assault Cannon had a chance. I hit twice, and needed a 6 to rend. I have a big bag of custom Ultramarines dice from Chessex that I'd bought secondhand ages ago. One of those dice was part of the two hits. It managed a 6 on the Rend, and then again on the bonus dice for a penetrating hit. The roll for effect? Another 6. All with the same die. Normally that would be a reason to cheer, but because I was rolling the same die over and over, and it came up 6 every time, I felt like a cheater. I grabbed the other Ultramarine dice I'd brought, and began rolling them as well. They kept coming up 5s and 6s pretty consistently. I know that those dice are hit-or-miss from past usage at the FLGS, but when your trio of special-icon dice roll 5-6 about 75% of rolls in front of an opponent you just beat, you feel like an ass.

My third and final game was against a classic CronAir list, complete with three flyers. I believe this list got the lowest composition score of the entire field. The game was...difficult. I was 100% exhausted by the turn two, and was slogging through this game, knowing there was no way I was going to approach a win. I did my best with what I had, but when you're facing a Destroyer Lord with Scarabs and Scythe, a full unit of Wraiths, two 5-man Warrior squads behind an ADL, two-10man Immortals squads in Night Scythes, two Annihilation barges, and a Doom Scythe, you sort of throw your hands up. I'm not one to talk badly about other players online, especially when I don't know them, so I'll refrain from my list of interaction-based complaints. I'll just say that the final move of the game was by a Doom Scythe returning from Ongoing reserves. It made a full move onto the board of "24 inches," right next to the center objective which was marked by a 40mm base marker. When the game was done, the base of the Doom Scythe was 2-3 inches beyond the edge of said marker. You do the math, and that's how the whole game went. I got 0 points, and was dead tired.

At the end of the day, I took home the "Dorkas' Choice" award, which is basically the award for bringing an army that most matches the values of the club. I received a very cool print of the old Second Edition Starter Box cover art:

I was very happy. I don't go to these events looking to kick ass, I go with a list that has a story to it. I tend to aim for that specific award every time. Mission accomplished!

The next event I'll make it to will be Standish Standoff 3, our FLGS' annual big tournament. I'm not sure what I'll bring for an army list, but I have been toying with bringing a refined version of the list I just ran. Maybe add some Devastators and a couple upgrades to fill the gap. I'm not sure. The other option is to just run bikes. I'll decide in the next couple weeks. I'm mostly going in order to enter my Hive Tyrant in the painting competition and throw the dice around.


Picture Time!

It's time for some photos!

I'd mentioned that I'd bought a couple of Secret Weapon kits. One of the problems I ha when deciding if I should buy them was determining how big everything was. SW isn't legally allowed to show GW models in their product photos, so I'm going to do so for them! First up is the Tree Stumps kit:

They're good sized, but should probably be reserved for 40mm and up sized bases. Most simply won't fit on a 25mm alongside a model.

Then you've got the Broken Doric Column kit:.

Again, too large for a 25mm base, so stick with 40mm and up or terrain.

Both kits are of very high quality, with almost no visible mold lines. Some flash, sure, but it peels away without leaving much behind on the tree stumps. No flash whatsoever on the column pieces.

Now, here's the next Tactical Marine I've been working on:

Basic stuff. I'm trying to make an effort to use more grenades and wargear on my Marines' belts. Basic Marines get one item, Sternguard are getting two. I'm swimming in these little bits, so I should probably use them. They also break up the monotony of blue paint.

Speaking of Sternguard:

These guys were the last two members of the 5-man squad I'd planned out and tried airbrushed helmets for. I departed from the all-Mk8 armor theme, as I was simply having too many problems with fitting heads into necks/collars. The guy on the left is underwhelming because I used that plain skull-adorned torso. It works ok for a basic Marine who'll be all blue and gold, but it doesn't provide the gold areas needed to make a white/blue Marine stand out. Lesson learned.

Now I need to learn how to use these guys, having never run Sternguard before.


The List, The Paint Desk

I figured it would probably be a good idea to share the army list that inspired my last entry. It's 1500 points, and designed for a composition-friendly event I'm attending down in MA this coming Saturday. It's hosted by the DorkaMorka gaming club. I've attended two or three of their past events, but had not been down there for more recent tournaments, wither due to family stuff or the bitter taste of being worked over by comp-bender lists the last time out.

Anyhow, here's the list:

Chaplain Cassius
6 Sternguard, Sergeant w/combimelta
5 Terminators, 2 chainfists, 1 assault cannon
10-man Tactical Squad in Rhino (non-veteran sergeant with chainsword, pistol, and meltabombs, missile/flamer)
10-man Tactical Squad in Rhino (non-veteran sergeant with chainsword, pistol, and meltabombs, plasmagun/multimelta)
7 Scouts, 6 snipers, camo cloaks, missile launcher
10 Assault Marines, veteran sergeant with pistol and powerfist, 2 flamers
Land Raider Crusader with extra stormbolter

Pretty tame list. It's got lots and lots and lots of bolter shots (seriously, I added a stormbolter to an LRC). It should be a challenge to play against Tau, Eldar, TauDar, etc. I'd originally wanted to use a full 10-man Dev squad in place of the Terminators, but won't have the required bolter Marines painted in time.

Speaking of which, that is what is currently on my painting desk. I just finished my sixth Sternguard member (fifth if you don't count the one with combimelta I painted ages ago). I'm planning to take some shots using the proper lighting tonight. I am now working on bolter Marines to get to the point where I can run a true half-company of 3 Tacticals, 1 Assault, and 1 Devastator squad. I'd always been three bolters short of that goal.
I'm also still working on the base for my Hive Tyrant. I bought a bunch of Secret Weapon kits to spruce up the base (tree stumps, broken Doric columns, grass, turf, etc). I'm waiting for some small mushrooms I made out of Green Stuff to cure, and then it's on to applying sand. I filled an empty GW static grass tub with some of the wash down material from my driveway. Sand, pebbles, and rocks. I think I need to sift it a little though, as the larger rocks are a little large for my tastes. I'm still struggling with exactly how I'm going to glue the Tyrant to the base, as he's got that stupid little sculpted rock section under his tail. I can't glue him down and then sand, as I won't be able to prime the base with him on there. I think I'm going to have to trace around the connection point, apply sand/gravel, then fix up the edges of the hole before spray priming. Any major gaps can be lightly covered with grass or turf. It's the best option I can think of. With Marines, I just put a little section of plasticard where their feet go and sand around those. But doing so with the Tyrant would mean the little rock he's attached to would "hover" over the sand. I should have removed it when I started. Lesson learned.

I also primed and put a first coat of base color on five Genestealers. I'm pretty excited about getting on with these guys. They've been sitting on top of my paint rack for a couple months now.


A little bit of literature

I'm headed to a tournament in MA in a couple weeks. Every time I go to an event run by this particular club, I like to attach a short intro story to my army list to explain the "why" of the army. This time, I'm running a pretty basic Ultramarines list led by Chaplain Cassius. I set out to write a quick one-page blurb, but caught the writing bug (I've got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, after all) and it spiraled into a four-page beast. I figured I'd share it wit those of you who aren't from my FLGS (I already posted it over there).

Standard disclaimer applies. All the stuff owned by GW is copyrighted and whatnot by GW. Posted without permission, for no financial gain, yadda yadda.

With that said, enjoy (and don't steal my shit!):

Sergeant Illius of the Ultramarines charged across the muddy ground, splashes of slimy earth exploding from his footfalls. The air around him buzzed as hails of insectile shot whickered by. He grimaced as dozens of the living ammunition creatures splattered and popped against the ceramite of his armor. Alongside him ran the remnants of his squad of Marines. They unleashed return volleys of bolter fire into the oncoming tide of xenos beasts. Each round found purchase in the wave of creatures, sending gouts of greenish ichor into the air and painting the nearby monsters' carapaces.

Illius leapt the last several meters into the trench line as the hail of alien fire increased. He splashed down into a quagmire of ankle-deep slime and fluids, his Marines landing alongside him. The partially dissolved corpses of an Imperial Guard platoon bobbed in the bottom of the trench.

"Firing positions!" ordered Illius. His squad members advanced to the trench's firing step and began to lay down tight salvos of bolter fire. A pale warning rune flashed on Illius's retinal display, warning him that the acid levels in the trench had begun to score the paint from his armor and weaken the gaskets of his armor joints. He joined the line on the firing step and picked off individual Tyranid creatures with shots from his bolt pistol. The living wave continued to advance, leaving piles of shattered bodies in their wake. Suddenly, Brother Raius let out a curse. Wrapped about his greaves were several slithering Tyranid creatures. Rippers. Raius punched and stomped the serpentine xenos, and a score more leapt from the murky fluid to attack the legs and knees of the entire squad.

Sergeant Illius hacked several of the creatures with his chainsword, but more poured from the bottom of the trench, or burrowed through its walls. The bolter fire keeping the oncoming Gaunt-genome bests began to slacken as the Marines were swarmed by the Rippers.

"Marius, purge the line!" ordered Sergeant Illius.

"Acknowledged, Brother Sergeant," replied Marius. There was a crack of heated air as Marius turned his flamer down the length of the trench, bathing both Marine and Tyranid in a roaring sheet of promethium flame. Warning runes glowed an angry red on Illius's display as the temperature around him climbed. The Ripper beasts squealed, their carapaces popping as cooked xenos flesh boiled out. The Marines emerged from the conflagration unscathed and resumed their suppressing fire. The damage had been done, however. The oncoming Gaunts threw themselves forward, over the lip of sandbags at the top of the trench. Without a word, the squad of Marines drew pistols and blades and engaged the Tyranids. Illius's chainsword growled and spit as he took the Gaunts apart, one after another. One beast crashed into his side, talons slashing and scrabbling at his armor. He backhanded it with the butt of his bolt pistol and cleaved it in half as it rebounded off the trench wall.

Then Brother Marius fell. A Gaunt's talons raked across the Marine's throat, spilling a jet of bright red blood. He stumbled, and a half dozen more beasts piled on top of him. Marius gave an incoherent choke over the vox, and then fired a single bolt pistol shot into the fuel canister of his flamer. A ball of flame engulfed the Marine and the Gaunts that hacked and bit at him, leaving a charred mess of smoking chitin and ceramite. Marius's life sign indicator faded to black on Illius's retinal display.

The squad of Marines continued to slash, slice, stomp, and stab the Gaunts. Only a few of the creatures remained when a shrieking roar erupted from beyond the trench. A mass of charging Warrior-genome beasts thundered toward the line. Brother Aurelius shook off the last of the Gaunts around him, stepped up to the firing line, and loosed a missile from his tube launcher. The projectile hissed out, trailing a thin line of propellant smoke. The servo arm on his backpack whipped down to select and load another missile into the tube as the first impacted the leading Warrior. It punched into the creature's chest armor and then detonated with a hollow boom. The Warrior and several of its broodmates exploded into torn shreds. Aurelius took aim again as the loading arm clicked the tube shut. The second missile escaped the mouth of the tube just as a foot-long spike of bone took Aurelius in the right eye. The boom of the missile exploding at the feet of the incoming Warriors mirrored Aurelius' body thudding into the bottom of the trench. Another life sign blackened in Illius's display. He intoned a brief prayer for the souls of the two fallen Marines, and braced himself as the first of the Warriors splashed down into the muck of the trench. A massive beast leveled a weapon at him that writhed with scarab-like beetles and dripped with venomous acid. Illius vaulted forward and brought his chainsword down across what he could only describe as the Warrior's wrists. The monster reeled as the weapon was shorn from its arms. The Marine sergeant pressed his attack, spearing the Tyranid under the jaw with his chainsword. The weapon juddered and kicked as it burrowed up into the Warriors' head, killing it. He spared a glance up and down the trench, observing his squad engaged in a crushing melee with the newly arrived Tyranids. Then more Warriors were upon him, and his squad was lost to his sight as the press of chitin and claws engulfed him.

The melee continued for what seemed like an age. Illius's chainsword reaped a tally amongst the xenos creatures, but their claws too often found purchase in his flesh, breaking ceramite and plasteel. The sergeant could feel the blood slicking his body under the plates of his armor. Then came a low, keening whistle.

Fat, tendriled balls of Tyranid flesh began to thump down into the trench. Illius's eyes widened as the sacs began to inflate. "Cover!" he shouted. He rammed his shoulder into the chest of a Warrior, spinning it between himself and the closest spore mine just before it exploded in a cloud of razor sharp shards of bone and shell. The Warrior shrieked as its back was punctured by the flying debris. All down the trench, Illius's squad ducked, braced and weathered the storm of shrapnel. The barrage took a heavy toll on the Warriors, felling many as the spores landed amongst them. Brother Nestir stood and loosed a burst from his bolter when another spore mine rebounded off the trench wall with a wet smack, and rolled before his feet. It burst in a geyser of steaming acid, soaking Nestir from head to toe. He let out a roar of pain, the acid rapidly dissolving his armor plates. The Marine tore away his helmet, revealing eyes burned away by the acid through the shattered lenses of his helm. The skin of Nestir's face began to slough away, exposing muscle and bone. Illius watched as Nestir ripped a pair of krak grenades from clips on his belt, thumbed the priming studs, and charged blind and screaming into a knot of Warriors. The grenades detonated simultaneously, blasting Nestir and the Warriors limb from limb. Another blackened rune appeared before the sergeant's eyes.

Illius had no time to lament Nestir's passing, as he was bowled over from behind. He managed to roll onto his back before the massive Tyranid Warrior crushed him under its weight. The Marine sank into the muddy slime at the bottom of the trench, his helmet filters clamping shut and his reserve air supply kicking in. The xenos monster's massive talons scythed downward in a decapitating stroke, but Illius managed to parry one with the hilt of his stuttering chainsword and caught the other in the palm of his armored hand. Pain flared from Illius's hand as tendons were shorn and bone was cracked. The sergeant grunted as he matched his strength against that of the Warrior, its talons a hand span from his neck. Then a cold lance of pain seared through his chest as the monster's secondary talons punctured his abdominal armor and up into his chest cavity. Blood filled his mouth as the talons punctured one of his lungs. The Warrior's head snapped down, clamping onto Illius's helmet. The needle teeth spiked through the red paint and ceramite and onward into the skin of his scalp. Thin lines of blood wept from the punctures and flowed back into Illius's ears. He barely registered the fact that two more life signals winked out in his display.

The Tyranid's jaws flexed, and Illius watched cracks appear across his eye lenses. They held for a moment, and then the left lens shattered. Shards of armored glass spiked through his eye, following by a deluge of the viscous slime that filled the trench bottom. Illius's skin began to burn as the acid in the fluid began its work.

The Marine sergeant intoned the Prayer of Ascension as his world went dark and quiet. The pressure around his head mounted as the ceramite of his helm began to buckle.

There was a brief flare of pressure against his skull, and then a hollow crack. Illius guessed it was the bone of his cranium snapping, but then the pressure was lifted and Illius was free of the drowning slime. Through his one working eye, he saw a grim, black-armored figure looming over him. The figure's mouth was locked in an eternal scowl by long lines of scar tissue, and the dull gleam of a bionic eye peered out from a half-metallic skull. Chaplain Ortan Cassius.

Cassius reached down, grasped Illius by the front of his breastplate, and hauled him bodily to his feet.
"Rise, Brother Sergeant," said Cassius, his voice deep and gritty. "The Emperor does not yet call you to his side."

Illius swayed briefly as he regained his senses, noticing the shattered skull of the Tyranid Warrior that had sat astride him. White-helmed Ultramarines appeared at the lip of the trench. Cassius's Sternguard. As one, they raised their bolters and fired down into the Warriors. The mutagenic acid of their hellfire shells made quick work of the remaining xenos beasts.

The sergeant's vision snapped back into focus as Chaplain Cassius thumped a fist against his pauldron. "Gather your men, Illius. There is still work to be done." With that, he leapt to the top of the forward edge of the trench. The Sternguard vaulted across the gap to join him. Fully half of Illius's squad lay dead in the mire, buried under scores of Tyranid corpses. He ordered the remaining four up and out of the trench and joined them at Cassius's side. Another wave of Tyranids was bounding over the battlefield toward the gathered Marines.

Cassius stepped forward and raised his crozius arcanum high. It fizzed and crackled with energy as Tyranid ichor and flesh burned away from it. "Purge the xenos!" boomed Cassius. "Spare none your wrath! For Ultramar!"

A feeling of vigor filled Sergeant Illius. Despite the many wounds that covered his body and the severed fingers of his left hand, he raised his chainsword to the sky and roared alongside his fellow Ultramarines, "FOR THE EMPEROR!"

Sergeant Illius of the Ultramarines charged again into the oncoming Tyranid horde alongside his battle brothers.


Book Review: Wrath of Iron, by Chris Wraight

I finished this one up last night, so here's my review. WARNING: I cannot write a useful review without SPOILERS. Do not read any further unless you want plot details.

The story takes place on Shardenus, a pretty standard Imperial hive world. Shardenus has apparently turned from the light of the Emperor and the Iron Hands, a Titan detachment (2 Warlords, 2 Warhounds), and several Guard regiments show up to burn the place down. As a twist, it's revealed that the lower echelons of the world's population and military don't even realize they've turned traitor. There are Loyalist elements of Shardenus' Guard regiment who are killed by the invading Loyalists simply out of confusion and death-by-association.

The book largely focuses on a Mechanicum Magos, the Guard Supreme Commander of the Loyalist forces (Nethata), two loyalist Shardenus irregulars, a Death Cult Assassin, and an Iron Hands Sergeant, Librarian, Iron Father and Clan Captain.

When the plot begins, the Iron Hands are shown to be callous about the deaths of their "mortal assets," aka Imperial Guardsmen. Rauth, the commander of Clan Raukaan, orders thousands upon thousands of Guardsmen into futile efforts as a diversionary tactic. When the Guard's general complains or hesitates over the losses, he's threatened with execution. The recurring theme of the book is: "The Iron Hands are dicks." Seriously. The squad sergeant, Morvox, you get to learn about starts out with misgivings about such tactics, but he is berated by the Iron Father (the Iron Hands' equivalent to a chaplain) and threatened. See the theme here?

The book is superbly written, with great action scenes, vivid depictions of the scenery and setting, and interesting characters. Chris Wraight is a very talented writer, and I think I'll pick up some more of his work. What gets me is that the Iron Hands aren't really heroes in the story. With Ultramarines, Space Wolves, and even Dark Angels, you get a character you can rally behind and cheer. Uriel Ventris might be a Codex-breaking fool, but he does heroic things and you cheer his victories. Ragnar Blackmane isn't a humanitarian by any means, but he's so badass you can't help but love him. The Iron Hands as depicted in Wrath of Iron are downright despicable. You can't cheer for Rauth as he sends a million Guardsmen into the teeth of the enemy guns simply to draw a percentage of the traitor forces away from points in the wall. There's a scene about 2/3rds of the way through the book where Rauth lines up regiments upon regiments of Guard in an underground access tunnel to the hive. He commandeers both Warhound Titans into this fight as well. When the battle begins, the Iron hands push forward, leaving the Guard regiments in the dust to be butchered by mutants and daemons. You just can't cheer for that.

Much is made in the beginning of the book about how the Iron Hands slowly lose their humanity (or super-humanity, rather) as they replace their body with bionics. They lose all emotion eventually, operating purely on logic, numbers, and a sense of duty. There's a bit of a clash there, as how can you have faith in the Emperor and a commitment to duty when your emotions and sense of sympathy/compassion has been stripped away? It's a fun point to ponder.

Eventually, Nethata has had enough of the wasting of his men and materiels, and he colludes with the Princeps of the Titan group to stand up to Rauth and demand a change in tactics. Unfortunately, the stand falls through. Nethata dies. In fact, anyone in the entire book who shows one shred of humanity...dies.
The irregulars from Shardenus? One dies in a pointless charge against the enemy lines. The other is executed months after the siege is over as part of the Iron Hands' programme of eradication of all residents of Shardenus.
The Librarian who retained his mortal mind in order to be a Librarian? Throws himself into a warp rift to close it and is tortured for eternity by daemons as a result.
Nethata commits suicide after his plan falls through, because the Princeps he colluded with was executed by the Mechanicum for refusing orders (and colluding with Nethata).
The Death Cult Assassin blows himself up with an atomic bomb carried in his chest cavity in an attempt to destroy the daemon prince behind the whole invasion (he fails, by the way).

The moral of the story is that all mortal flesh is temporary, fleeting, and weak. The only thing that survives is iron, and that is all that matters. It's a fitting moral for an Iron Hands story, and the book as a whole is a neat insight into how the Iron Hands work. But you can't read it expecting any sort of final satisfaction. The characters you root for all die, and the characters that are complete dicks win the day. The book is well written, if a bit thin on character development and containing a couple plot holes, but it will leave you depressed and angry at the end.

I was actually dabbling with the idea of starting an Iron Hands allied detachment for my Ultramarines. But after reading this book, that's right out the window. Iron Hands? Those guys are dicks.


How to Sell an Army?

I think the subtitle of this post should be 'What the Hell is Wrong with Me?"

Of late, I've had this itch to sell all of the Space Marine bike models and parts from my collection. Hilariously, during the previous selloff I did of Marine models and kits, I intended to keep ONLY bike units. I'm not sure why, but I'm restless with this new codex.

I have long been "The Bike Guy" at my FLGS. Folks from other shops have actually recognised my army from this or that event without me being at the table. "Oh, it's that Bike Guy!" Got a question about how to use/kit/build/paint bikes? I was the guy to ask.

I enjoyed being that guy, and having that experience and expertise. But with the new book, I'm less in love with my bikes.

The reason for this eludes me. The White Scars chapter tactics are great. Khan is much improved. Bikes overall are far better and slightly cheaper on points. Folks are flocking to bike armies, and maybe that's why I'm less impressed by them lately. They're the new "power build," at least in the early going. I've never been the "power build" sort of player, and I think the situation feels a lot like what Necron and Eldar players, and to a lesser extent Grey Knights, players feel. You can have the original metal models for Necrons, but when you show up at the table and hand over a Necron list, you get that "broken codex" or "bandwagoneer" stigma. I have a minor fear of that stigma being applied to my bike army. It's an irrational fear, as my play group is tight knit and we all know each others' histories, but it's still there.

I also fancy myself as an opportunist and a bit of a 40K "flipper." I've bought and traded for things in the past, and then turned around and resold or retraded them at a profit. It's how I amassed some of my bike army, in fact. I'm seeing bikes being bought and sold online, and feel like I might be able to mkae a little money by selling what is a pretty complete bike army (though it lacks the min/max weapon loadouts). I've never sold a model I've painted before though, and I'm curious if I'll regret it in the long run, and a bit lost on how much to ask for.

If I were to sell the force, it would contain:
1 Captain (armed as a counts-as Khan)
1 Techmarine with power axe and servo arm
1 Apothecary
1 Company Champion with sword and shield
1 Banner Bearer, with magnetized banner arm
1 Storm Shield Bearer
10 basic bolter bikes
2 plasmagunners
2 meltagunners
2 flamers
1 Sergeant with power axe
1 Sergeant with power fist
2 Sergeants with holstered bolters (used as combiweapons)
1 Sergeant with plasma pistol
5 magnetized, metal attack bikes, each with heavy bolter and multimelta parts
3-4 new Scout bikes in box or on sprue
4-5 old scout bikes, unassembled and off sprue
3-4 additional metal attack bike sidecars with heavy bolter and multimelta options for each
A "remaining bike bitz" pile.

All of this is painted to a solid tabletop standard. Not "pro" level, but not "quick dip" level. No decals in the army, all freehand.

Retail, the completed models pan out just shy of $500, then add in the other kits and parts. But retail is a poor gauge of value for a complete, painted army. Of course, it only shakes out to about 1500 points, so it's not 100% "complete."

Anyone sold an army they've painted and built themselves over time? It's easy enough to flip models you never invested time into, but how hard is it to send away something you've put years into?
I wouldn't be divesting myself of all my Marines, obviously. I still have plenty of non-bike Marines to play with, build, and paint. I have several directions I could go in.

What do you folks think?


Three Games with the New Marine Codex

My FLGS had its monthly 40K event this past Saturday, and I was able to attend using the new Space Marine Codex.

I'd debated with myself about what type of list to bring, and under which Chapter Tactics. I was debating between a classic Ultramarines list with Tacs and such led by Sicarius or my Biker list. I opted to go with the bike list, led by Khan, running White Scars Chapter Tactics.
Here's a general breakdown of the list:

Khan on Moondrakkan
Command Squad (apothecary, champion, powerfist veteran, standard bearer, storm shield veteran)
Techmarine on Bike
Librarian (ML2, Jump Pack, Force Staff)
Bikes 1 (5 strong, 2 plasmaguns, plasma pistol vet sergeant, multimelta attack bike)
Bikes 2 (5 strong, 2 meltaguns, combimelta vet sergeant)
Bikes 3 (5 strong, 2 flamers, combiflamer vet sergeant, heavy bolter attack bike)
Bikes 4 (5 strong, power axe vet sergeant)
Multimelta Attack Bike Squadron (3 strong)
Landspeeder Squadron (2 strong, Typhoons, heavy bolters)
Assault Marines (10 strong, 2 flamers, powerfist vet sergeant)

It's a pretty straightforward "fast" list that I have played a lot in the past, and that is reasonably fluffy for a "White Scars" build.
Unfortunately, attendance for the event was only 5 paying players and a fill-in swing player.

My first game was against a Tzeentch/Slaanesh Daemons list. I won't bother with turn-by-turn batreps, as I can barely remember the games 10 minutes afterward, let alone two days. I like to just hit the highlights, results, and some lessons learned.
It was a pretty even game, and one of those that comes down to single models or inches deciding points. I gained 11 points in the loss. It took me a while to remember how toplaythe damned game, being so rusty and out of it. I actually forgot how to roll for charge ranges! No major highlights, other than blasting a MASSIVE unit of Seekers off the table with combined shooting from half my army.

Second game was against a blanced Necron army led by Zahdrekh and Obyron and a Destroyrer Lord. We played a mission that used the short board edges as deployment (Hammer and Anvil?). Primary was kill points, if I remember right. My dice rolled well, and the Necron dice did not. I tabled the Necron force except for Zandrekh, who was on his way to slowly whittling down Khan in a challenge, but the game ended before the deed could be completed. Highlight was the D-Lord getting up three separate times and menacing my surviving troops bikes before being repeatedly being put down by multimeltas. 30 points to me.

Final game was against Imperial Guard Gunline, painted as traitors. This one was a "hold the center" mission played on a board with several ruined buildings and some small forests. The Guard army contained a couple Russes in a squadron, a Vendetta, an ADL with quad gun, PBS, Chimera Vets, some Armored Sentinels, a Lord Commissar, and a unit of three Quad Gun Launchers (Thudd Guns?). I ended up taking a victory here, but not until the game had gone a full six turns and we were down to five models or less, each. There were some big swings in momentum in both directions. I took a hammering for three turns from the Thudd Guns before I manged to engage them in melee and run them off the board with my Librarian. Mobility was key on this one, as I was able to hold a bike troop unit (the meltagunner squad) in my own deployment area for a while and keep enough alive to take the objective. The Guard troops were bottled up behind that ADL in Chimeras with everything else blocking their access route to the center objective. It was largely uncontested for the entire game, and I played towards that end. The whole game was a highlight, being a massive killfest that was massively entertaining. I am not a fan of the Thudd Gun unit in terms of balance. Twelve small blasts in a single volley is too many. I was regularly seeing upwards of 20 hits per volley on my well-spread bike units. No other unit in the enemy army came anywhere close to the kill tally those guns had. Now, I could have reached them sooner if I'd deepstruck the Assault Marines with the flamers in some crazy maneuver, but by conventional means of reachign them, I was fighitng a major uphill battle. They dohave their weaknesses, like opposing artifllery units, Mawlocs, or what have you, butoverall they're a tad bit underpointed for what they do. I know it sounds silly to complain about a unit when you win a game, so I'll stop here, lol.

At the end of the day I took first place with 66 battle points! Hurrah! I banked the store cedit towards either a Stormraven or a Stormtalon, or maybe another drop pod.

Throughout the day, folks asked me how I liked the new Marines. My response is that they're good, but not crushingly so.

The White Scars Chapter Tactics are nice, but you have to read them carefully. Only bikes units get the +1 to Hammer of Wrath hit strength, auto-pass Dangerous Terrain tests, and +1 Jink saves. So my Speeders only had a 5+ Jink, and my Assault Marines didn't have stronger HoW or auto-pass DT tests.
All units get Hit and Run, though. Khan only grants Scout to Bikes and units with a dedicated transport (though the rules don't say they have to be IN said transport). So, my ASM and Speeders couldn't Scout. This was important in Game Two, as I ended up blocking several bike units from using a Scout move by placing the ASM in front of them. Oops!

The bonus strength to HoW was pretty significant when I managed to get a lot of bikes into base contact. The trick is getting a lot of bikes into base contact. I ran units of 5-6 models, so you're maxxing out at 5-6 HoW hits. Nothing overpowering, but the bump from S4 to S5 is definitely a difference maker. You end up being able to penetrate AV10 rear armor, or actually glance AV11.

The automatic passing of Dangerous Terrain tests was very nice. Since 6th dropped, I'd been ignoring terrain and making the rolls anyways, since I could take an armor save against it. But to completely ignore it removed any and all doubt about terrain. it also sped up my games by that tiny bit because I wasn't rolling for each individual bike as I moved them (which is how you're supposed to do it, you don't just roll them all together and allocate the wounds as you see fit, so cut that out!).

+1 to Jink saves is a beautiful thing for bikes. Boosting gives you the old-school 3+ cover save. It's great when you're trying to cross open ground, since it's even better than any terrain-based cover you'll get. However, it doesn't work if you go second, Scout move or not. Jink is only applied if you moved in your Movement phase, NOT if you moved at all. A Scout move is not done in your Movement phase!

Hit and Run is also nice. Bikes aren't a melee unit, unless you're taking a Command Squad. Hit and Run allows bike units to either risk the charge to get stuck in versus a shooty opponent, or get out of town when engaged (and not obliterated) with a melee opponent. You have a 66% chance that you'll get away, but I managed to fail two Hit and Run tests during my games. One was during an important turn.

Khan's Scout ability is tricky to use. If you go first and Scout, you can't charge in your first turn (unless the opponent Seizes the Initiative). If you go second, you won't get your Jink saves when the enemy shoots at you during that first turn. But, the Scout rule does allow you to outflank with almost any non-vehicle unit in your army. You're able to attack from all three directions if you set things up right. Just remember that you can't charge after arriving from reserves!
Ideally, I'd use the army-wide ability to Scout by going first in order to make a glorious attempt at getting stuck in to a very shooty army, like the Guard gunline from my final game. I'd have taken first turn, Scouted 12" forward, then moved another 12". I could either blast away from there, or boost for the 3+ cover save.

I also kitted my Librarian and my Techmarine with auspexes. They only cost a handful of points, and performed to that level. -1 to cover saves isn't exactly brutal, but it is helpful. Knock an ADL down to a 5+ save versus a 4+ save. A unit Gone to Ground in a forest is 4+ instead of 3+, etc. The trick is the 12" range. Slice the cover save from an intervening unit from 5+ to 6+. It worked nicely for my Assault Marines (via the Librarian) and bikes (via the Techmarine), but probably won't work so well with something like a Tactical Squad. It was nice that you can use the auspex on one unit and target an entirely different unit, though. Be careful using it with a shooting-centered unit, as you have to give up the model's shooting to do so. Hopefully, I did that in my games.

All in all, the book is nice but hardly overpowered. It's following in the "balanced, useful, Codex" trend GW has been on since the 6th Edition hardbacks started being published.
I'm likely going to skip the October event, as it's a team tourney, and I'm not a fan of those. Plus, with the abyssmal turnout we've had in the last few months, the last thing I want to do is clear my schedule for a tournament and have six people show up.

I'm looking ahead to the Standish Standoff now, and am hoping to line out some preliminary army lists. I'd love to run the list I ran this weekend, but the composition system won't allow it. I need some Elite and Heavy slots filled, and the four HQ slots I used would be illegal under the rubric. I may have to go to the traditional Tactical Marine list to play with anything resembling a useful composition score. It's a ways off, so who knows?