A novice’s thoughts on 40k

After playing my first game of 40k, I thought i’d post a few thoughts on my impressions.

The first thing that comes to mind are how simple the rules are compared to the last Edition. I suppose being used to a more complicated ruleset made these easy to pick up. They also worked very well.

This simplicity is offset by the number of types of units and weapons available and more importantly by the missions and objectives you play. These really are key to giving the game its depth. To expand on this, as a fantasy player I was used to having just 6 scenario types and deployment was part of each scenario. In 40k, out of the box, you have 2 different mission styles. Each of these then has 6 separate missions under them. So straight away the options are twice that of 8th ed. fantasy. You then roll for the deployment type separately (from 6 choices), which gives you a shed load more variations. On top of that, the Chapter approved book gave you another however many variations of mission. Now many of the missions are variations on the same theme and a fair few are not suitable for a rank and file style game but still, I do think the lack of scenario variations are part of what stifled each edition of fantasy. It’s one thing Kings of War has done well (and why I stole some of their objectives for our comp’).

I will say I’m not such a fan of having all the weapon prices separate. I understand it makes updating costs etc. easier in chapter approved but it was the one daunting part of the list build using the army codex and I didn’t find it the easiest thing to follow (downloading battle scribe fixed this though!).

The game was fast and bloody. We finished the game within 3 hours but it only took that long due to my faffing and lack of rules knowledge (I called it after turn 5 as at that point I had just scouts left and no way of achieving any of the objectives I had in my hand in order to take the lead).

The model count was low. Now granted this is compared to 8th ed. fantasy and if I was playing guard or Orcs, then it would be a different matter. Still, being able to transport all the infantry in a Roses tub* and the dreads in another small box, it felt like I was missing half my stuff.

The psychic phase is much improved on last edition and works quite well. It would have helped if i’d read up the rules on it a bit more as only being able to attempt to stop 2 powers each turn (out of the 5 he was able to cast) came as a shock to the system the first time. I’m still not convinced the Space Marine ‘spells’ are that great. Smite seems to be the go to power with a few of the others being not bad but definitely second rate to Smite.

I like the moral phase, it works well but does mean you are pushed towards a more MSU style. With Marines, this doesn’t make too much difference as you tend to take smaller units anyway but it will be interesting to see it on armies with larger units.

The big question is would I play it again? Well I’ll start by saying I still think it is inferior to fantasy but it always was going to be. I have many decades of blood, sweat and tears invested in that game system. That said, I did enjoy it and will definitely be revisiting it. I’m also likely to replay it before I touch Kings of War again. The main reason for this is because of the list building element. 40k retains this (for me) crucial element of the game and much as I enjoyed KOW, I really feel the lack of it in that game.

*approx 10″ round plastic box that previously contained chocolates

40k vs AOS

For a fantasy player, seeing how well 40k works has actually frustrated me even more. You can really see how the fantasy reworking was completely a dry run for 40k and where they learnt from their mistakes. Instead of totally revamping the rules they have taken the best elements from last Edition and also from fantasy and worked them in, whilst simplifying other bits (the way strength rolls are calculated is simple but effective and isn’t really any different to the fantasy table but is presented in a much better format). I hope that for the sake of 40k that they don’t keep releasing new books every year, as they have with AOS, that you need to buy to remain competitive and that keep piling on special rule after special rule so the system becomes just a bit too bloated.

On the other hand it’s made me appreciate the wealth of scenarios in AOS and how they are utterly integral to making the ‘beer mat’ rules work. I only hope that down the line (and not too far), AOS learns from 40k and gets a second edition (as such), or a reworking of the rules. I’m not saying that it would get me playing it necessarily but they at least need to do something about the shooting when within 3″ rule.

It has made me want to see if we can simplify the old 8th edition fantasy rules in a similar way. Combining some of the 40k/AoS stats whilst maintaining the rank and file.


40k First game

A few Fridays ago I played my first game of 8th ed. 40k (and only 4th game of 40k ever) vs one of the club committee members, Nick. (I’ll put my thoughts on 40k in a separate post).

Nick decided to use the game to try out a number of things he hadn’t used in this edition, mainly revolving around the Dark Imperium Primaris.

What he actually bought was a modified Guilliman ‘blob’. I believe that is what the ‘technical’ name is and it involves having the core of the force within the primarch’s bubble to make effective use of his re-rolls. His list was something like this:

Roboute Guilliman – 385pts

Chief Librarian Tigurius – 130pts

Primaris Librarian – 101pts


Scout Squad (5) incl. Heavy Bolter – 65pts

Scout Squad (5) incl Heavy Bolter – 65pts

Scout Squad (5) incl Missile Launcher – 80pts

Tactical Squad (5) incl Las Cannon – 90pts

Tactical Squad (5) incl Las Cannon – 90ps

Tactical Squad (5) incl Las Cannon – 90pts


Primaris Ancient – Standard of the Emperor Ascendant – 69pts

Heavy Support

5 Hellblasters – 165pts

5 Hellblasters – 165pts

6 Hellblasters – 198pts

Fast Attack

6 Inceptors – 270pts

Now this list only comes to around 1960pts so i’ve missed an upgrade or two. I’m also not sure on the exact make up of detachments but it must of had at least a battalion, so with that, battle forged and Guilliman he had a minimum of 9 command points (and he had the warlord trait that regained them on a 5+ when he used them – and he rolled a 5+ a lot!).

My list and thoughts can be found here but can be summed up as: try as many different unit types as possible whilst taking all my Dreadnoughts.

Suffice to say, Nick had put in somewhat more thought into his list building.

I’ll apologise straight away as I will quite likely use fantasy lingo rather than 40k in elements of this, either due to habit or because I cannot remember the equivalent terminology.

The first decision thrown up was the type of mission to play. There are 2 styles, Eternal War and Maelstrom. Nick suggested playing the first as he thought it would probably be easier for a learning game. Having watched a number of you tube battles I however completely disregarded this and suggested the Maelstrom games. The difference appears to be that Eternal games have fairly fixed capture an objective(s) style, whereas with Maelstrom you draw random tactical objective cards (which could be anything from kill something, to capture something, to charge a unit etc.). In both styles, the player with the most points at the end wins and similar to Kings of War, the game length can be variable. I also had a copy of the space marine tactical cards and wanted to at least make use of them once, hence I again picked Maelstrom!

We rolled up Escalation, where you start with one card and draw an additional one each turn and always have a number equal to the turn number. We also had the Spearhead detachment deployment, basically a triangular shape and we played lengthwise on the table.

Taking the high ground
I’ll take the high road and you take the low road
Trying to prevent any deep strikes
The blob

Knowing how many shots the Inceptors could pump out I tried to prevent any gaps in my back line where they could deep strike. As it was, it was a fairly wasted endeavour as Nick had no intention of moving much out of range of Guilliman and his infuriating ability to allow rerolls on all failed to hit and to wound dice and the only thing it accomplished was that half my forces had to spend too many turns unable to target anything and had to move up to get into range.

I got the first turn and the Aggressors lived up to their name and decimated the scouts in the central pyramid. First blood to me! The Ironclads popped smoke and charged forward as fast as possible.

The Sternguard (in the drop pod) and my Inceptors deployed in the Ultramarine backlines and proceeded to inflict damage. Everything else in range, shot up the nearest Hellblaster squad. Tigurius’s ability to nominate a unit and make it at -1 to hit didn’t help my Alpha strike. My lack of thought on targets and deployment also hindered it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and they should have all gone into the Hellblasters. Those guys are just brutal!

In Nick’s first turn the carnage continued and he took one Ironclad straight off the board, the Standard of the Emperor Ascendent allowed almost all of the slain Hellblasters to fire off a final Salvo before being removed (and they all overcharged of course as there was no reason not too). The Redemptor also took a shoeing from the remainder.

I won’t go into detail about the rest of the game as it basically involved me shooting up Hellblasters who refused to die straight away and who kept up a relentless barrage of plasma, tearing through everything in their path. By the second turn I was 4-0 up on points and it remained that way until turn 4 when Nick started to reap in points and then he leap frogged me in turn 5. By this point, he had decimated almost all of my force as they advanced piecemeal into his plasma fire. At the end of the game I had just 7 scouts left.

There was one turn that was very close to being potentially game changing. I was one wound off being able to target Guilliman with 5 Lascannon shots. I’m not saying I would have killed him but it was nice to dream πŸ˜€. Damn Tigurius and his -1 to hit ability, I just couldn’t get that final wound!

The Sentinels push forward trying to get into range.
Whittling away at the blob
Inceptors push up to capture an objective
The Sentinels back field forces move up

Evaluation of the list

One game does obviously not give a grounding for any kind of realistic review, however that said, you can generally get an idea for what worked, shortcomings with your list and ideas of what you want to try.

General thoughts

With so many Dreadnoughts I was lacking bodies so trying to cover my backfield to prevent deep strikes, did nothing but ensure I had units well out of position all game. Next time I won’t even bother for the reason given a bit below.

Stating items were starting in deep strike, counts as a drop. Something I didn’t realise until he was able to then place his scout units on the advanced objectives before I laid anything on the table. I’ll know for next time!

Aggressors vs Inceptors. Aggressors are good fun but ultimately vulnerable to a mass of shots (the same could be said of most of the force). Inceptors perform a similar role but with a consistent number of higher strength and AP shots (12 S5 -1 AP each vs 6+D6 S4 each) and greater mobility. They also only cost around 20pts more for a squad of three.

Just saying that makes you wonder why you would take aggressors over them. The answer for that is the Aggressors ability to double the number of shots if they don’t move. Even after one game, I think I’d still rather run inceptors if only for the movement and deployment advantage and the issue with getting Aggressors into a good position without taking the Primaris tank. If I took them again, I’d probably actually use them in a defensive role, guarding an objective in my deployment zone with the ability to double tap anything that came into their 18″ range.

Sternguard in drop pod

My use of these guys was poor. Position wise I deployed them outside of 12 inches so they could double tap and still get the benefits of the Chapter tactics (tick). I then proceeded to retardedly fire them against the tactical marine squad that was (a) in cover and (b) Tigurius had put a -1 to hit on. Not sure what I was thinking. They should have targeted the Hellblasters. To top it off I completely forgot to use their unique stratagem that gave them +1 to wound. I should also have used the aux scan stratagem (where you get to fire out of turn) when his Inceptors dropped in. This might have helped the sternguard survive the barrage that came their way and at the least, could have whittled down the number of shots that helped decimate them.

The question is whether they are worth it. Their guns are basically the same as those on the Intercessors (though with -2 AP) and their points are the same. They gain +1 LD but the Intercessors get +1 wound. I do think they need a delivery system (whether a drop pod or something else). I definitely need to try them out again.


I loved the Redemptor, the number of shots it can put out is fearsome. It is an auto include in my next game.

The venerable dread I used as a gun platform and I went the twin las/missile combo so that both guns had the same range. Against this mostly infantry force he wasn’t very effective but you can see how he could be against a different list.

The Ironclads had potential but again my use of them was sub-par. Charging them straight at the largest threat to them on the board was probably not the smartest move! I also think when I next use them (and I will), they will be sporting hurricanes to present more of a ranged threat.

Devastators vs Hellblasters

Well Nick definitely gave me a lesson in what a swarm of Hellblasters could do. Mine managed very little except be caught up in the plasma blob but I was able to see their potential. With the additional pip of armour penetration over the Lascannons, it meant nothing had a save and that really made a difference.

The 4 Lascannons I took had a great range but putting them on top of the rock meant they were out of my Captains bubble (doh!). They were also a bit wasted against much of his list. The D6 damage almost always ensured that they at least removed every Primaris they hit. They do however need a Captain and probably a lieutenant in range to maximise effectiveness.

Intercessors vs Scouts

I think they both have a role to play. Having a T4, 2 wound 3+ save model in troop choices with a 30″ S4 -1 AP gun is nothing to be sniffed at. 5 of them cost the same as 5 tactical Marines with a lascannon. Which is the most useful, likely depends on the rest of your list.

The sniper scouts did nothing for me all game but they were out of range for much of it so I can’t give any opinion on them. The bolter scouts did ok with the Heavy Bolter being great. I’d definitely take them and that heavy weapon again. It is surprising how much difference -1 AP makes.


He was the cheapest HQ option available and in a different game he might be worthwhile, however all the dreads were wiped out before he even got a chance to heal them. I am not at all sold on his worth in my list, especially as he needs to be within 1″ to heal. I think he favours lists with stationary vehicles. If I ever take a land raider I might well use him.


I’m not sure if he is worth the points, at least not for the powers he brings to the table. As it went, the jump pack and relic armour made him a very useful threat. I think he will be more useful in a combat orientated army.


You almost have to bring a Captain, if only for the buffs. I liked the storm of fire warlord trait and would definitely take it again if he was near units with a high number of shots. I think he would be better off dropping in using a jump pack and then having a second Captain in the gunline.

Going forward

I definitely want to try out some combat troops, so vanguard veterans will be on the list. I also want to bring the land-raider crusader packed with hammer and shield terminators.

With a more combat centric force I’d definitely be bringing a chaplain, if only for fluff reasons.

A lieutenant will also be a must for a gun line list as re-rolling ones, would have made a huge difference in the game. He would be taken over the Techmarine.

I also fancy taking a Culexus assassin. The minus 2 to any power roll if he is in range would definitely hinder the number of spells going off. I suppose the question is whether I would take a librarian in the same list as him.

Hobby Update – Space Marines – Squad: March!

You can normally tell when I’ve not managed to get any game time in, as there seems to be a direct correlation between no games and my hobby output.

This is the case at present, though I do have a game on Friday. Unsurprisingly this is 40k. Why unsurprisingly? Well the second correlation I’ve noted is not only does my hobby output increase but it is normally directly related to the game system I’m about to play, especially if it is a new(ish) system for me. It’s probably the big kid / new shiny toy syndrome. It happened with Blood Bowl when I painted the Norse team in record time and it’s happening again with 40k.

It helps that my paint scheme is rather simple and it will be interesting to see if the enthusiasm to paint Marines continues after my first game of 8th ed.

It also helps that Azazel keeps throwing out challenges to motivate me, in this case ‘Squad: March!‘ and I’m pleased that I’ve actually managed to complete another one well in advance of the end of the month.

But ramblings over, this is my first completed unit of original Marines.

The eagle eyed of you will note the missing shoulder pad on one of the models. No idea how I missed that! I’ll have to dig around in my bits box. You’ll also note the differing base sizes. I have two units of Devastators that each came with the different sized bases and I just painted the ones with the load-out (las Cannon’s) I wanted to use on my upcoming game.

Paul Bonner illustrations

I have to admit that I really like black and white sketches and pictures. It’s probably a throwback to my utter lack of talent in that respect.

Whilst I can’t claim to have any kind of extensive knowledge on the ‘fantasy’ art world, there are a couple of artists who jump out at me.

If I were to name my favourite fantasy artist it would probably be Alan Lee. His work in the Tolkien world is just phenomenal. It just bought the whole world to life and it was always his b&w illustrations that attracted me the most. His art is Tolkien’s world personified.

However some of the earliest works that caught my eye and influenced my childhood were from Paul Bonner. His sketches regularly appeared in White Dwarf towards the end of the 3rd Edition fantasy and there was a certain crispness to them and the expressions captured seemed so much more realistic that other artists.

So with that preamble our of the way, I’ll share some of my favourite illustrations from him. Ones you rarely see when searching online for his work (including a sketch of elves. I mention this as he is renowned for rarely drawing/painting them).

The picture of Muenchbek is probably one of my all time favourites but I also love the wardancer in the final picture.

I’ll have to throw out a mention to davekay and his scent of a gamer blog who inspired the idea for this post as it is definitely not my normal fare.

Hobby Update – Space Marines

++++++ Report to Inquisitor Marleck on the Shadow Sentinel Librarius ++++++

For hundreds of years it has been assumed that the Chapter lacked the gene required to manifest psychic powers (this time fueling rumours that they were an offshoot of the Black Templars). This opinion was furthered by the number of Culexus assassins that had been seen operating in tandem with the Sentinels in an apparent effort to neutralise enemy psykers.

It is this agents opinion, that this is another example of the misdirection constantly employed by the Chapter. Although he cannot offer hololith evidence, this agent has personally observed at least one Sentinel manifesting powers from the Librarius Discipline. Whether this Marine is an aberration in the Chapter or one of many Librarians rarely seen, he cannot confirm.

Of probably greater importance is the question of why have they gone to such lengths to conceal their presence.

++++++ Report ends. Sector agent Lucian Grite ++++++

The latest edition to the Shadow Sentinels is one of the very rare Chapter Librarians.

I kept the paint scheme in the same simple green and silver but added a bit more detail, a completely unblended variation of colours on his hand because, you know, that’s what psychic powers being cast look like… I also experimented on the sword (unsuccessfully) using the Nihilakh Oxide after I had edged it etc. with the various blues. At present I’ve not gone back to clean that up but will do so.


40k First Game incoming

More than 8 months after deciding to retry 40k (after a very brief unsuccessful stint in 7th Edition), i’ve finally lined up my first game of 8th edition against one of the club committee members, Nick.

He knows it’s my first game so said he will not bring one of his nastier lists (which would probably have involved some form of Imperial Knight!) and would use the models from the dark imperium set. Being a glutton for punishment, I of course said bring whatever you like, so we shall see what appears.

I’ve said it many times before on the blog, I’m sure and I’ll say it again (I’m getting older and so repeating myself is not only allowed but to be expected). I suffer from perennial list tinkerer syndrome. It’s a real thing, look it up. I just can’t help myself, I’m sure my laptop is slowly filling up with variation upon variation of lists, most of which never see the light of day but exist just for my theory/list hammer pleasure.

Phew, now I have that heavy burden off my chest, I feel I can safely post my latest creation and chosen list for the game.

The Crusade of the Stalking Tiger

Raven Guard Chapter Tactics


The Light that Guides – Captain – 77pts

Master-crafted Boltgun, Chainsword

The Mind Awakes – Librarian – 120pts

Force Sword, Boltgun, Jet Pack, Armour Indominus

Red Runs the Flesh – Techmarine – 57pts

Boltgun, ChainswordΒ 


The Mist Convalesces – Scout Squad – 65pts

5 Scouts, Boltguns, Heavy Bolter

The Wind It Whispers – Scout Squad – 84pts

5 Scouts, Sniper rifles, Missile launcher

Moons Rise Together – Intercessor Squad – 91pts

5 Primaris Marines, Bolt Rifle, Auxillary grenade launcher


The Storm Gathers – Aggressor Squad – 111pts

3 Aggressors, Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets, Fragstorm Grenade Launchers

The Tranquil Garden – Sternguard Veteran Squad – 180pts

10 Sternguard, Special issue boltguns

The Emperor Draws Breath – Redemptor Dreadnought – 202pts

2 Stormbolters, Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon, Onslaught Gatling Cannon, Icarus Rocket Pod

The Enduring Rock – Venerable Dreadnought – 165pts

Missile Launcher, Twin Lascannon

The Ground Trembles – Ironclad Dreadnought – 145pts

Chainfist with Meltagun, CCW with Storm Bolter

The Mountain Comes – Ironclad Dreadnought – 145pts

Chainfist with Meltagun, CCW with Storm Bolter

Fast Attack

Swift Strikes the Thunder- Inceptors – 135pts

3 Inceptors, assault bolters

Heavy Support

The Light Should Burn – Devastator Squad – 170pts

5 Marines, 4 * Lascannons, Armorium Cherub

The Fires they Cleanse – Hellblaster Squad – 165pts

5 Primaris Marines, Plasma Incinerators

Dedicated Transport

The Sky Must Fall – Drop Pod – 85pts

Total – 1997pts

List Thoughts

The list has 1 Battalion and 1 Vanguard detachment so with it also being battleforged, will have 7 Command points to use. This seems like a reasonable number.

I have no idea how the list will play but I did have a couple of over-arching thoughts.

The main one was that I had to include all my dreadnoughts. The second was that I wanted to try out as many things as possible.

I feel a bit gamey using Raven Guard tactics (-1 to hit them when 12″ away) but I feel they are the most complementary of the list. If I weren’t using them, I’d probably use Iron Hands (due to the 6+++ save and the specific dreadnought stratagem) or Imperial Fists (due to fire ignoring cover). The advantage of these 3 are the consistent benefits, meaning I’m unlikely to forget them!

With my first few lists, I realised that I had little or no deep striking units so I revised it so that I had 3 distinct elements to the force.

The Pillar Endures

The first is the fire base. This group should do very little movement and camp any deployment zone objectives.

It will be led by the Venerable dreadnought who can, if necessary, burn a stratagem to act as a captain. He will be supported by the Devastator Marines, Intercessor Squad and sniper scouts.

This will give me 5 Lascannons (with one being a twin and one additional one time shot from the cherub) and 2 missile launchers with which to take out heavy armour. The 4 sniper shots will target characters (probably support characters as they usually have fewer wounds). The Intercessors will be used to help protect the fire base from deep strikers and will be the mobile element of the group.

The Blade is Poised

The Assault group will be led by one of the Chapter Captains. He will start within range of much of the fire base to buff them with his aura and will either stay with them or advance as needed to assist the Hellblaster squad, as their ability to overcharge will benefit most from the reroll to hit of 1’s he provides. I also like the idea of a Captain advancing to cleanse the enemy rather than hanging back. I’m contemplating spending an additional command point before I begin to give the captain an addition relic (the teeth of terra) as I do feel that bar the Dreadnoughts, the list lacks combat punch but it may be a wasted point. The other thing I’m unsure on is what warlord trait to give him. At the moment I’m gravitating towards Storm of Fire to give nearby Chapter units a chance to get an additional -1 save modifier.

The Hellblasters will be the mobile ranged hard hitters. I’ve taken the standard gun over the assault version due to the extra pip of strength.

In some ways the Captain, Hellblasters and Intercessors are fluid option, able to move between the fire base and assault groups as required.

The boltgun scouts are there to provide the second part of the deep strike area denial and if possible to capture mid-field objectives at the same time.

This group will have their own fire support in the form of the Redemptor Dreadnought who will advance with the Captain and Hellblasters. The Captains buff should again help with its damage output as moving will impede its hit rate.

The final element of the group will be made up of the units that will be barrelling forward at all due speed. The 2 Ironclads will be advancing towards the enemy as fast as possible. Their smoke launchers and Chapter tactics will infer a one turn -2 to enemy shooting, that should mitigate a lot of hits. The Techmarine will run with them to try and heal as much damage as possible (or he will help with the Redemptor if required). They will be supported by the Aggressors who have the ability to both advance and shoot and should be able to help thin out any potential horde style units that try to chaff up the ironclads. I’m hoping the 2 Dreads will present a greater threat and deflect attention from the more vulnerable Aggressors.

It is tempting to leave a deliberate backfield space near the Aggressors to entice a deep strike but I somehow doubt Nick would fall for that tactic but would capitalise on it if I moved later on.

The Crushing Blow

The final group is the strike force and is made up of those starting from reserve.

The Sternguard will be deployed in the drop pod to allow them the flexibility to go where needed and drop into short range where their special issue guns combined with sternguard stratagem should cause some decent damage and be a distraction. The increased range of their guns also means they can still benefit from the Chapter tactic when in rapid fire range.

The strike force will be led by the Librarian who will jump in with the Sternguard using his powers either as an offensive force or to help buff the unit. As a bonus, jumping in might mean he starts in range to get a deny the witch boost. I’ve given him the armour relic to boost his save and give a one time 3++ ward. It should make him more survivable, especially in combat.

The Inceptors are very much a distraction. They are to drop in to try and thin out any hordes but I’m happy to make them sacrificial and as a fly unit, they are able to fallback and still shoot.

If you are still reading after that wall of text then I’m impressed. If any of you have played many games then please feel free to off any tips you may have.


Hobby Update – Neglected Model Feb round-up

With February over and Azazel having posted his wrap up of the neglected model’s completed, I thought I’d better post mine.

This month it has very much been wood elf central, concentrating on my mainly 4th edition models all hailing from the early 90’s.

This involved 2 sets of command models, 14 Eternal Guard and a load of plastic archers. Now admittedly the archers were mainly finished at the end of Jan but I thought i’d slip them in anyway πŸ™‚