Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fluff Question: How big is the Space Wolves Chapter? (POLL)

I recently read "The Emperor's Gift" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, and I have to say it was a pretty good read. Probably going to be doing a book review soon on it and several other books I have read recently. But  it lead me to an interesting question: How large is the Space Wolves chapter. It seems to vary at times between authors, and I think too often it is taken for granted that they are about 1000 strong just because they are a Space Marine chapter.

This is much less of a straight forward question than it seems. Before you go rushing off and claiming "They are a Space Marine Chapter, which means they have 1000 Marines", let me offer a counter point that the Flesh Tearers are only about 400 strong. Yes, a lot of this has to do with battle losses, but for the sake of argument, let us agree if you can have one chapter be a little small, another can be a little large.
So to begin with, we know that the Space Wolves are a non-codex Astartes Chapter. They just don't really care about the law of the Imperium, just about the spirit of it. As such they have 12 Great Companies, or 13 if you include those lost in the eye, but we will come back to them. Each of these companies is at a different strength according to the whims of its respective Wolf Lord (Grimnar's likely being the largest). If each of these is at about 100 marines, we already have a larger than usual chapter. And each chapter has it own Wolf Guard, Long Fangs, Blood Claws, Grey Hunters, Wolf Scouts, and Vehicles. Now most chapters will share resources across companies to fit specific missions, typically borrowing from 8th, 9th and 10th companies for their respective Assault, Devastator and Scout Specialists, and sometimes taking from 6th and 7th just to boost numbers of Tactical Marines. Space Wolves don't strike me as fitting this style, each Wolf Lord being fiercely independent and unwilling to show a need for aide from another Grand Company, meaning each company needs the resources to deal with every form of battle, likely leading to larger that normal company sizes any ways.
Now let us go beyond the mere matter of organization. Let's go back all the way to the Horus Heresy. Note, there are some Prospero Burns spoilers here. Legions were all approximately 10,000 strong. However, from what I gather, Russ' legion was larger than this. Not only was it 13 Great Companies, which in themselves must have been each more massive than a chapter, but it must have been large enough that it could deal with the destruction of other Legions, which from what I gather as well he has done 3 times. Now he likely didn't suffer too bad during the destruction of the Thousand Sons at Prospero, as they had an orbital bombardment, where a larger, fiercer legion, and had allies present at the battle. In addition, even if they suffered horribly losses, they would have had time to recover somewhat before the legions were broken down into smaller chapters. And in addition to THAT, it was primarily the Ultramarines and Space Wolves that harrassed the retreating traitorous forces back to the Eye, so they must not have suffered that bad at Prospero anyways. As well, if he had destroyed legions twice before, he obviously was able to recover his numbers fast enough that by the time of the Heresy, some 200 years into the Crusade that rediscovered the Primarchs (meaning he likely destroyed/forcibly disbanded 2 legions somewhere between 250-150 years before the Heresy). So that leaves the conclusion that the SW were still legion sized at the end of the heresy, even with sending 1000+ Marines into the Eye of Terror behind the Traitor Legions. If they were significantly reduced in number, they would not have likely allowed the 13th company to follow the Legions into the eye, and even if they were allowed, it is likely the 13th Company themselves would have been weakened, and what good would a diminished company do against the vast hordes of Traitors that fled into the eye.
Now back to present day 40k. The Space Wolves have only one known second founding, the Wolf Brothers, and they were supposedly given 1/2 of the equipment and Priests of the SW, however this is likely dated info. We do know that they were not just drawn off of the space wolves, like many of the Ultramarine second foundings, and that they were a separate genetic founding. This is evidenced by the Wold Brothers demise and disbanding due to genetic instability and the curse of the Wulfen. Now if they had drawn directly from the SW and were just a new chapter, they should have been just a genetically stable, as all their numbers were Space Wolves and all the priests that administered the rituals creating new Marines were Space Wolves as well, working with directly SW geneseed. So we can conclude that was not the case and that the Wolf Brothers were a separate genetic founding (likely the 21st). And had they truly been given half the SW resources, chances are all that returned to the SW when the Wolf Brothers were disbanded.

Now why talk about the Wolf Brothers. Well my point is that since they are a separate genetic founding and not just a restructuring and that there are no other known descendants of the Space Wolves, then the Wolves must have remained legion sized, unlike the Ultramarines and all other Codex chapters. Diminished by battle loss at the end of the Heresy possibly, but larger than a chapter none the less, as they were able to send the significant resources of the 13th company into the eye. Plus they still had great recruiting stock on Fenris, which was able to maintain their numbers during the Great Crusade, so likely able to replenish their numbers over time afterwards. And for some time they had Leman Russ, who likely remained fiercely independent from Roboute and Dorn, though I can't find how long after the heresy he remained.

So it boils down to this: If the SW are only ~1000 strong, where did the rest go? And if they aren't, how large are they? And if they are still legion sized, why are they referred to as a Chapter? It is a mystery I am sure will never be answered, but feel free to voice your thoughts here and remember to hit the poll on the right!

10000 or more 2 (12%)
5000-9999 2 (12%)
2500-4999 5 (31%)
1500-2499 6 (37%)
1000-1499 1 (6%)
Less than 1000 0 (0%)

SO It looks like we can all agree that they are at least a REALLY BIG Chapter.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rant: No matter how good 6th ed CSM is, GW still made it "Bad"

So the CSM codex is just around the corner. Dark Vengeance had me pumped for it, even though I don't plan on getting any Chaos. I just looked forward to seeing what craziness was in store in the codex and what people came up with for conversions, paint schemes and whole armies (and ideally throwing down against a good mix of the 3).

Then there were preview pics for more models. Anything Marine/Infantry is pretty great. Those new Close Combat Mutilators look like they have Down Syndrome, but that's not awful. Nor is the lack of fluff behind them (Obliterators have a techno-virus, thus all the weapons. These are clearly based off Oblits, but need a new explanation, which would lead me to wonder "Why are they like oblits?" They look to more have a severe case of Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (SFW Wiki page, no pictures). But even that isn't terrible.

The Warpsmith is great. As is the Dark Apostle and Aspiring Champion (which is great to be in plastic). The Raptors are pretty sweet. I Still like the feel of the old ones as well though, and I would likely mix the two if I was building a Chaos Army. I wish they had done the Havocs and Oblits as plastics. Hopefully eventually they will, but what ever. I'd like to see new CSM and Khorne Beserker sculpts as well, but that isn't bad either.

And I have no idea of the rules yet either. They may be the greatest set of rules ever written. From what I have seen, they are pretty good (Warlord Traits and Boon Table). But the rules aren't all that make a release "good".
What I assume the special edition cover  looks like.
What is upsetting and ruins the codex, before it is even released is 3 models. You know the 3. The Heldrake, and the Forgefiend/Maulerfiend. I am not even that too dissapointed in the sculpts. Okay, well for the Heldrake at least, that Forgefiend without a face is pretty horrendous.
These may play a critical role in the codex. We know that the codex needs a Flyer, but this guy?
HE IS NOT THE ANSWER. Don't get me wrong, it looks cool. It look Chaotic. But it isn't CSM. It should have been released a few months ago along with the mini Chaos Daemons release. They need a flyer, and this is PERFECT for them. Daemons only have one Daemon engine, the Soul Grinder, why not more? Especially needed ones. As we have seen, 6th ed is an edition where shooting is needed more than CC. CD is almost entirely CC, so the Forgefiend fits a perfect roll in that codex, and the Heldrake would be the perfect flyer for them. And then the Maulerfiend just looks daemonic.
Chaos Biovore
But these are not CSM units. Codex CSM needs to be the fallen forces of Humanity, not the forces born of the Warp. They still use equipment and technology based on Imperial tech. The biggest evidence of which is in Battlefleet Gothic to be honest. None of they ships are super crazy. Even the Planet Killer has some logic about it.

So yes, CSM does have one daemon engine, the Defiler, but that looks like it was built by humans and then possessed. The Fiends look half daemonic and half robotic, like the Soulgrinder, so they are clearly from the Warp. They may have worked if there had been Dark Mechanicus Adepts in the codex, but there aren't so it is a miss.

GW just really missed the mark here. We are talking about a codex of fallen humanity, many of them 10,000 years old. That's Heresy old. Wait a second. Isn't someone doing the Horus Heresy? Oh yes, Forge World is. Shouldn't Chaos being using alot of that tech? Yes they should. See what the design studios should've done is cooperated on the two projects a little. Codex CSM should have one or two heresy era vehicles, with possession/chaotic kit to them. Then FW could produce cleaner versions/conversion kits for the plastics (so people could afford it and be more likely to buy HH stuff) and produced complete kits of the more esoteric items and vehicles that didn't last or aren't that common. A perfect vehicle for GW to have done would have been a Predator Executioner (plasma pred), Jetbikes or a Spartan Assault Tank
Super Land Raider
This thing hold 25 Space Marines. Sounds like a legion relic. Oh, and can't CSM take squads of up to 20 guys? Sounds like a great transport for them. And not too hard to make a plastic kit. And it fits with Space marines.It is PERFECT! Where this is not:
Polly wants a cracker
These new models just totally miss the feel and mark that CSM should have. They belong in Codex Chaos Daemons, and I wish they had been incorporated into that instead. Plus, then instead of the ridiculous Dragon, CSM could have a real fighter, backed up by Fluff and Fans alike (and super easy to make a plastic kit of IMO).
This even looks like it flies better.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blood Angel Emperor's Champion/Custom Seth with Freehand Banner AND 1st Genswick IG Test Model

So a little bit ago I posted a WIP for a converted Chapter Master Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers. The reason I was scratch building my own was because I for one do not play Flesh Tearers. I play Blood Angels. However, in 6th edition, the list I am testing right now works best with Seth, so I wanted a way to incorporate him into my BA army. Best way was to make a new model from scratch. Then I had to figure out what to make him. I didn't want him to be a Captain, as I would want a Captain in an Honour Guard to fit with the fluff. Plus I have a Second Co Captain, and he has a Jump Pack. And the 8th Company Assault Marines I have don't have a Captain, but they will and I plan on making that a Biker. So I am left with not much, but if you read the other article, you'd learn why I concluded on this: An Emperor's Champion. All Chapters can have one fluff wise, not just Black Templars. Plus, Seth has a big BIG Sword, albeit a Chainsword, but Big and Cool = Black Sword to me. Who is to say that the BA just have always used a massive eviscerator instead.

If you want to know the parts, read the WIP article. The only change is I took off the 2nd wreath and moved the grenades to the other side so I could attach a Death Mask to his hip. Seemed a fitting helmet for an Emperor's Champion if he ever need to don head gear (e.g. in a Vacuum). Anyway, pretty picture time.

The Banner is based off an image in the 3rd Ed BA Codex Supplement. The slogan on it is "Ave Imperator" with several letters hidden.

NOW onto the Genswick. I painted this guy really quickly (for my standards. Took 30 min, and this was with me figuring out what colours to actually do!) and I have a feeling my future guard will go even faster now that I have a scheme selected and basic technique established. Much faster than Marines at least. For more Genswick WIP click here.

Well there you go folks. I probably won't get more photos up for a while as I head back to my ship, but I will try and keep some content going for the next few months as I am away, but expect more Marines and Guard upon my return.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5 Perfect Models for 40k (That aren't 40k)

I would say I am a hobby enthusiast first and a player of the game second. I just love modelling, model building, and army composition from a style perspective. I am always coming up with ideas and themes and browsing endlessly over bits and images to figure out what I would need to do it, even though I likely never will (primarily for budgetary reasons). When I do get to do a cool project, I try to capture as much in it as possible. My Genswick army is exactly that, and I will actually be posting more on them this week hopefully (and my plan to make them a Macrusade Crusade army).

What most people fail to do I believe is just look at GW's entire product range to find just the right look or model, or just something different. Hopefully this gets some creative sparks in you minds, but I am just going to rattle off 5 models that are currently in production and available from the GW site that can easily be incorporated in the 40k universe/armies with little to absolutely no conversion work necessary.

1. Be'Lakor, The Dark Master

This beauty of a model was released years ago for the Storm of Chaos summer campaign. This guy makes the perfect Daemon prince for a Chaos Daemons army or a CSM army, and with the right paint job or conversion work, can really be made from an undivided Daemon into one of any of the 4 major powers, as you can see below in a commission I did some years ago for a Nurgle army

2. Empire Witch Hunter
This guy screams Inquisitor, just screams it. So much in fact I plan on using him as Inquisitor Drake in my Macharian Crusade army, as is. No changes needed. And while I think this guy says inquisitor more than any other, almost the entire range of Empire heroes (and even units) make great inquisitorial agents/henchmen.

3. Mordheim Elf Mage
This guy comes from the Hired Swords range of Mordheim, which really has a bunch of great models for any role players out there. My favourite among them is the Elf Mage. While I am going to use this as the wizard for my blood bowl team, a distinctive paint scheme or minor conversion work can see this awesomely posed model used in a number of ways (due to its beautiful simplicity). Most obvious are his uses as an Eldar Farseer or Warlock. Possibly a Harlequin troop leader if you are up to painting patterns (of which there is more than adequate room). The addition of a wide brim hat makes him a really believable Inquisitor for the Imperium. Primaris psyker for IG is another role that comes to mind. Really, there is a lot of potential for this model.

4. Empire Duelist
Both of these are great models, but I particularly like the one on the right, and he is planned to be one of my Officers for a Genswick Infantry Platoon. As you can see he is very militaristic (the medals drive this home) and would be great in an Imperial Guard Army, especially with Tanks and/or Super Heavy Tanks. The one of the left is once again great for anything Inquisitorial, but also has great potential as an IG bodyguard (many IG officers are nobility from their world, and it would be fitting to have a body guard from their household guard).

5. Champion of Khorne

This has forever been one of my favourite GW models. He just exudes the power that is Khorne and is the very image of the chosen of the Blood God. With the advent of Cultists in the new CSM codex, he has a perfect fit in 40k. To be honest, I think all the Chaos Champions from fantasy do, this one is just my personal favourite. They also are great for any renegade Guard force, and I think some clever conversion work can even see the Slanneesh and Khornate Champions made into Space Marines.

Obviously there is a lot more. Ogre Kingdoms have been used for Ogryns a million times over (not only is this more flexible model wise, but it is very cost efficient). Nearly the whole Fantasy Orc range can be used in 40k, and give a great opportunity to make you boyz really stand out. And there are a bunch of Dark Elves that would make great additions to a group of Wyches in a Dark Eldar army.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rant: GW Hates Close Combat (Characters)

If you haven't seen the new FAQs yet, they are up. I instantly rushed to the Blood Angels FAQ to see what the verdict was on Dante, Astorath, and Glaives. Every single one of them was a turn for the worse IMO, but is what was to be expected.

I'll sum it up, the Executioner Axe of Astorath has fixed stats at S6 AP2 Two Handed Unwieldy. Dante's Axe Mortalis is a Master Crafted Power Axe. Glaives are either a sword or axe and follow the rules for them as laid out in the rule book in addition to being master crafted and two handed.
I don't remember this guy being any slower than the other four. 
So now you can't just model Astorath or Dante with a Giant Sword instead, they will have axes per the rules. And the SG kit Comes with only 3 swords, 2 axes, and a Power fist, so as is you MUST have 2 I1 weapons in that squad unless you bit hunt online, which I think is unreasonable to expect people to do.

This is what I hated about the new changes to Close Combat in 6th ed. Wound Allocation is fine. The multiple pile ins is fine. Everything is fine EXCEPT that my modeling choices now dictate the combat effectiveness of a squad. And not only that now, but the sculptors design choices.
If only they still included this sprue in everything, or at least in their bits online.
You expect me to believe that the most ELITE Close Combatants in the Galaxy- Dante, Chapter Master of the Blood Angels, Astorath, High Chaplain of the 9th Legion, and the Sanguinary Guard, the elite of the elite of the most elite close combat Space Marine chapter- Can't manage to swing an Axe faster than Sergeant McFartface of that Imperial Guard can?

Furthermore, the issue is that now Dante, Astorath, and the SG don't have a chance to kill what threatens them the most. Before, they had the advantage of being able to take out the power fist that could instant kill them if on an S4 character, or easily break their 2+ saves on others. Now that they strike simultaneously, the advantage goes to Sgt McFartface with his S4 Axe or S6 powerfist. Maybe not advantage, but point for point, he wields more power. Especially is he issues a challenge. Maybe if Dante and Astorath were Eternal Warriors, this wouldn't be that bad, but that only hurts higher S opponents. IG and others still have a clear advantage. Dante costs over 200 points. That is quickly becoming 200 points of no thank you.

This leads me to the conclusion that GW hates CC. The new shooting rules are fine and an improvement, and obviously supposed to be the new focal point of the game. The issue with that is that there are entire Armies that rely on Close Combat, and some of the most beloved characters in the game. In addition to the above, Kharn, the single greatest Champion of Khorne, can't swing faster than I1.
This axe is clearly too heavy to swing, so I will just point it at you instead.
GW messed up here IMO. There should have been two rules- Unwieldy and Ponderous. An unwieldy weapon should be -1 I, but +1S. Axes fall into this. Yeah, it isn't a rapier or sabre, it is harder to swing and use, but gains more power. But an axe, especially a one handed axe, has to be a hell of a lot easier to move than a Thunder Hammer or Power Fist, especially since a power fist is limited by the speed of the servo motors inside of it, which I guarantee that at least a Space Marine is faster than with an axe, especially Heroes like Dante and Astorath and Kharn. So that is why there should be ponderous weapons. Fists and Hammers are even slower (I1) but much stronger (x2S).

And really, this move just doesn't hurt High I Characters, but higher S armies, who benefit far less from Axes than lower S armies, especially when you consider that the divider is pretty much just S3/T3 and S4/T4. Adding +1 S to the S3 makes a world of difference against T4. But adding +1S to S4 isn't as critical facing T3. If Space Marine were base S5/T4, then axes would fit much better, allowing them to double and instakill T3, while still being vulnerable to S3 characters with an axe as well. Alas it is not so.

EDIT: I also just want to add further evidence that GW hates CC characters: The Sanguinor, Mephiston, DC Tycho and SW lone wolves. These guys should be gods of combat (maybe not the lone wolves, but I have always likened them to a void grenade with legs in my head) but because of the fact they are required to be solo units they suffer under 6th. This isn't warmachine, where being a Solo is a good thing. No, now with Challenges, these grand figures of destruction now miss out on all their charge prowess. This wouldn't be bad if only on the turns YOU charged into combat you could issue a challenge. I think this would have balanced the cinematic feel with the reality of gameplay GW was shooting for. This would prevent Sgt McFartface from robbing such awesome characters of their power, which is why they are taken. But now they can potentially die without ever having touched the bulk of a squad. And if I don't want to fight the character that challenged me, it becomes stupid. Imagine this- Mephiston flies forth on his wings of Sanguinius, bellowing rage and oaths of fury and destruction, towards a unit which happens to have ArmyBuffingCharacter (ABC) and SuperCombatCharacter (SBC) in it. Now say the SBC challenges Mephiston, but Mephiston is already wounded and you want to make sure you get some hits on the squad and potentially ABC, but you can't deny the challenge, so Mephiston has to fight just one guy instead of the horde behind him and the critical ABC. What if Mephiston didn't give a jack about the SBC? Yeah, maybe it isn't the most honorable thing to skip out on a duel, but this isn't WHFB. This is 40k! Honor is not nearly as important and survival and killing. And no one is going to think less of Mephiston, so long as he is killing enemies of the Emperor.

At least Seth didn't get wiffed with an Unwieldy ruling yet, even though he is clearly toting around a massive eviscerator.
I'll Whirlwind of Gore any freakin' FAQ that tries to make me as bad as I was in 5th ed!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dark Vengeance, Chaos and Necromunda... OH MY!

So I haven't had a chance to check the interwebs until today for over a week now, and haven't been able to follow ANYTHING in the world of Warhammer for slightly longer. So as I came online today I was excited to get my first look at the Dark Vengeance models. So far, I am by and far impressed and can't wait to see what the plastic kits look like over these snap together versions. As long as they keep going with this, I will be very satisfied.

Looking at the kit, there is a clear winner in terms of hobby and model potential and design. CHAOS. They rendered these guys PERFECTLY. The possessed marines are beautiful, and are very reminiscent of WHFB Chaos Warriors, which they should be IMO. Those guys carry an air of power about them lacking compared to a standard SM or CSM, and GW has finally captured them I believe.

The lord is a little static, as to be expected from a snap together model, but is lovely none the less. The Hellbrute is awesome. The exact right combination of dreadnought, daemon prince and dare I say... Warjack... that is required in a model such as it. Makes it much more fluid and dynamic than the robotic nature of just a pure Dreadnought.

But none of those are really surprising or new. Okay, maybe a little, but the concepts and imagery are just a progression of GW work. What is nice and refreshing are the cultists. GW did a great job in seperating these from renegade guard that is easy to convert or readily available from Forge World. And in fact, these plastic kits will only AIDE in making renegade guard conversions, so that is a bonus (no more having to plunder only a handful of useful fantasy bitz. The simple fact is these Dark Vengeance cultists look like a rabble, an assortment of the fallen, where as renegade guard/militia appear as a uniformed military force of chaos.

What I first saw in them however is not just cultists, but gangers. These guys are PERFECT for any budding Necromunda player, and actually present a lot more options in terms of gang design to to the flexibility of weapons and modeling, especially once the plastic kits come out . Furthermore, what it really allows for the avid hobbyist, is the inclusion of Necromunda models into your Chaos army, especially if you are trying to be more thematic or capture devotion to a god. While the dark vengeance cultists are very Chaos undivided looking, House Goliath gangers and pitslaves would make great servants of Khorne, while House Escher are the perfect ladies for Slaneeshi cultists. Thats not to say that you have to do that. Redemptionists would make great looking zealots spreading the word of Chaos, while ratskins and scavvies make up the lowly unwashed masses. Or maybe you are Alpha Legion and want a slightly more civilized look to your cultists. Orlock and Delaque are there to fit that niche. And of course you can mix all of these in with your 40k cultists to get a diverse look and feel.