The Four Strands Modeling, Painting, Gaming and Storytelling

26Nov/162

Blood Bowl – 5th Edition vs. LRB, or cha-cha-cha-CHANGES

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Got my main rulebook open, and I have the pdf of the old LRB on my laptop as I type.  It's time to see what 5th edition has changed, rules wise.  Here's a running tally as I find them:

  • Handoff and Foul are not in the actions in the Basic Rules; they are instead in the Advanced section, later in the book.  This explains why they're not on the quick start guide cards.  They are mentioned, though. (it wasn't an oversight)
  • Under causes for a turnover, the four minute time limit is GONE!  No more hourglasses or stopwatches!  This assists new players.  I bet it will make a comeback in an advanced book later. EDIT: It is in the Advanced section of the rules.
  • Minor change: several of the rules use the genderless "they" or "themselves" to refer to players, when identical wording in the old book is "him" or "himself."  I think this is for teams with female players, such as Amazons, who will hopefully be included in a later rules set (if only for the die-hard Amazon players!)
  • Rules for team building do not include Skill Types for normal and doubles.  This is corrected in the Death Zone supplement.
  • Human Catchers reduced from 70,000gp to 60,000gp.
  • Assistant Coaches, Cheerleaders, and Apothecaries/Necromancers are no longer listed during team creation.
  • Each player gets Special Play cards, randomly decided (1:1 card, 2-5:2 cards, and 6:3 cards).  A Magic Item deck is mentioned, but not present in the box set (expansions ahoy!)
  • Because a D16 is added to the box set, you don't need to draw chits from a mug!  Not that you needed to in the past, but you had to buy your own D16...
  • Obviously, Cheerleaders and Assistant Coaches are not mentioned in the Cheering Fans and Brilliant Coaching results on the Kickoff Table.
  • The Skills section is MUCH shorter.  Skills for teams that are not out yet have been omitted. (for example, Prehensile Tail is not listed as Lizardmen or other tail-having races have not been re-released) EDIT: most missing skills are in Death Zone.
  • League rules are omitted, as they are in Death Zone.  On that note...

The following is a list of things from the League supplement, Death Zone:

  • Skaven Gutter Runners now have the Weeping Dagger skill, which lets them hurt people better.
  • Nurgle Warriors are renamed Bloaters in the Nurgle Teams, but are identical.
  • Beasts of Nurgle are renamed Rotspawn, identical as well.
  • "Elf Teams" are renamed Elven Union Teams.
  • Wood Elf Treemen now have a new Extraordinary Skill: TIMMM-BER!  Knocked down models with this skill receive a +1 to the roll to stand up, if MA is less than 3.  A roll of 1 always fails.  Assisting models can't be in enemy tackle zones (just like assisting a Block or Foul).  This extra skill does not alter the Treeman's cost! EDIT: This rule has been invalidated by errata, see the bottom of the post.
  • MVP is now LESS RANDOM!  This is an incredible advance on the old rules.  Now, select 3 players from your team and roll a D3 to decide which is MVP!  No more handing out MVP to dead players, or giving MVP to a useless player who already has too many SPP or can't benefit from another skill.
  • Under Inducements, Petty Cash as a concept is gone (which is good, because it was always confusing!) Instead, the coach with the higher team value can purchase Inducements with their gold, then the opposing coach gets gold = team value difference and can spend it.
    • Without the Petty Cash rule, a lower team could spend any amount in their treasury on inducements without penalty.  In the old Blood Bowl, Petty Cash added to your Team Value, and so lower valued teams could only spend their Inducement money and no more, unless they transferred to Petty Cash an amount GREATER THAN the Inducements, because Petty Cash added to their Team Value, and thus Inducements would be reduced by the amount of Petty Cash, making it useless.
    • In additon, higher value teams can now spend away, not giving their opponent any additional Inducement money!  This can mean that a rich team could go into each match with a bunch of expensive inducements.
  • Bloodweiser Babes are now Bloodweiser Kegs.
  • Halfling Master Chefs are gone...
  • Igor is gone...
  • Wizards are reduced to 100,000gp from 150,000gp.
  • Special Play cards are changed, so that instead of drawing randomly, you draw X, keep X-1, and X increases as the value of the higher team increases.  You can also purchase Special Play cards, which increase the value of X for you by one (not your opponent!)
  • EXPENSIVE MISTAKES are a new addition to the post-game sequence!  Now, if your treasury exceeds 100,000gp, your players tend to do stupid and/or expensive things.  The larger your treasury, the stupider they act, as the money goes to their heads!  You roll on a table and lose no GP if you avert the crisis, but if there is an incident, you lose some GP, sometimes most of it!  Hoarding GP is no longer a good idea!  Too bad for teams that have expensive "big" players that don't buy them during Team Creation... Saving up for them is risky!
  • Skills are all back, but skills listed below are in the LRB but not in this supplement:
    • Animosity
    • Ball & Chain
    • Bloodlust
    • Bombardier
    • Chainsaw
    • Diving Tackle
    • Fan Favourite
    • Multiple Block
    • Piling On (note: this IS in the book, but is listed as optional, as it's been reported as OP)
    • Stakes
    • Titchy
  • In addition, these skills are in Death Zone but not the LRB:
    • Monstrous Mouth (similar to Sure Hands)
    • Timmm-ber! (described above)
    • Weeping Dagger (if this model causes an injury of 11-38: Badly Hurt, roll a D6.  On a 4+, that injured player also suffers a Miss Next Game)
  • COACH MODELS HAVE AN IN-GAME EFFECT!  When a player is sent off, roll a D6.  On a 6, the call is reversed!  On a 1, your coach is sent off, and you cannot argue again for the game, plus you get a -1 to Brilliant Coaching rolls!
  • Assistant Coaches, Cheerleaders, and Apothecaries are back.

Note: Death Zone is a proper softcover book with a strong cardstock cover; much more sturdy than the main rulebook, which is a double-stapled booklet! (/print nerd)

...and that's it!  I might try the App next.  Who knows?

EDIT: It seems there are three errata documents already!  You can find them here, at the bottom of the page. Here's an analysis of these documents.

-Blood Bowl Main Rulebook FAQ

Most of these FAQs are straight from the LRB, some of which are even identically worded.  One notable exception is the first one: a player who is sent off for a foul, who then has their coach roll a 6 and reverse that call, still causes a turnover.

-Teams of Legend Supplemental Document

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

HOLY CRAP!  ALMOST ALL PREVIOUS TEAMS, PLUS A COUPLE NEW ONES ARE CONTAINED HEREIN!  The Konquata Monitors are now legal and ready to play!  Here's a list of new stuff, including teams:

  • New Chaos Renegades team: A team of up to 12 human linemen who can get the Mutation skills on a NORMAL ADVANCE ROLL.  IN addition, the team can have 0-1 of EACH the following: Goblin, Skaven, Dark Elf, Troll, Ogre, Minotaur.  Bring a Troll, Minotaur, and Ogre for three big guys on the front line, throw in a Goblin for Right Stuff plays.
    • QUICK THOUGHT: If a Chaos Renegades team has an Ogre (Throw Team-mate), a Troll (Throw Team-mate) and a Goblin (Right Stuff), can the Ogre move up in one turn, and then on the next turn, the Troll throw the Goblin, have the Goblin land next to the Ogre, and have the Ogre throw the Goblin for a double throw?  Such a play would be risky, but could potentially see a goblin go all the way across the field in one turn!
  • New Underworld Denizens team: Skaven with Goblins instead of Gutter Runners, and a Troll instead of a Rat Ogre.
  • Amazons have some name changes for their positions, but are otherwise the same.
  • Chaos Dwarfs also name changes but nothing else.
  • Skills, such as Animosity, Bombardier, etc. that apply to these teams are listed here, if they are not in the main rulebook.
  • Chaos Teams are now called Chaos Chosen teams, and have a few name changes.
  • Halflings are back, and underneath them the Halfling Master Chef is back!  Oddly, the Halfling's Treemen have the Timmm-ber! skill, while it is purged from Wood Elf Treemen in the Death Zone FAQ (see below).  An oversight?  Perhaps the FAQ needs an FAQ?
  • Khemri are now Khemri Tomb Kings, and have name changes.
    • In addition, Igor is back as an inducement, and can work for teams with undead players!
  • Lizardmen have very minor name changes.
  • Norse Werewolves are now called Ulfwerenar.
  • Necromantic teams are now Necromantic Horror teams, and have minor name changes.
    • Both Necromantic Horror and Shambling Undead (see below) gain a Necromancer instead of a coach, that can give your team free zombies!  This is not new though.
  • Undead teams are now Shambling Undead teams, minor name changes.
  • Ogre Teams now have "runts" instead of Snotlings, so you can use Snotlings, Knoblars, or anything else thematic.  This makes the Ogre team canon with Ogre Kingdoms from Fantasy.
  • Vampire teams have minor name changes.

-Death Zone Season 1 FAQ

Minor changes to skills, including the purging of any use of the Timmm-ber! skill from Wood Elves' Treemen.

...and that's all folks!

Filed under: Blood Bowl, Gaming 2 Comments
25Nov/160

Blood Bowl 5th Edition Unboxing

It's Black Friday, and I went to local games store AFK Games in Holt, MI, to pick up a copy of the new Blood Bowl box set, and Death Zone: Season 1, the supplemental book!  I've never opened a new box set on fourstrands, so it's time for my first unboxing!

In a future post, I plan to read the new rulebook, line by line, and compare it to the old Blood Bowl Living Rulebook.  I'll outline the biggest changes I see.  But first, let's take a look at that box!

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I really like the art.  You get that it's a football game, but also much more violent than ordinary football.  The goblin looks a bit goofy though.

Let's flip the box!

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A basic explanation of the game.  One thing that I looked for in the store and found conspicuously missing was a listing of the models contained in the box set.  I'll list those when I look at the models themselves.

Now, to open this precious oyster to find the pearls of... something related to football... ok bad metaphor...

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Jam packed full!  Already I can see Human miniatures in blue, Ork in green, and templates in gray.  There's also some dice.  First, let's get those miniatures out and get up close and personal!

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Here are the humans.  Poses for these guys are a bit odd.  The linemen on the left side sort of have their arms out.  It's half "COME AT ME, BRO!" and half "I believe I can flyyyyyyy..."  I'm also not a fan of the dancing catcher, who is doing a saucy pirouette with the ball.  The Blitzers are also oddly posed.  I'm digging the thrower though.  Good pose for making a long pass.  What I'm a bit disappointed in is the lack of variety in the minis.  The above sprues are identical so you get 2 of each pose.

Speaking of which, here's the list of Human minis:

  • 2 Throwers (identical)
  • 2 Catchers (identical)
  • 2 Blitzers (identical)
  • 6 Linemen (3 different poses)

Now, for the Orcs!

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The Orcs are in more pieces, so it's harder to see their poses, but they are much more violently posed.  Many are winding up for a good punch, while others are actively charging.  The Thrower is a bit awkward and has a weird look on his face.  One of the linemen has that silly pose that the Human linemen have, but he's squatting a bit more so he looks WAY sturdier, as if preparing for a charge.  All in all, these are the superior minis, with the same identical sprue problem.  Another problem that arises from this: how do you differentiate your players BEFORE you paint them?  If you go back and look at the back of the box, you'll see that the game can be played unpainted.  If both your throwers look identical, things could get confusing...

Here's the model count:

  • 2 Black Orc Blockers (identical)
  • 2 Blitzers (identical)
  • 6 Linemen (3 poses)
  • 2 Throwers (identical)

Next: we replace the old clear acetate templates for some plastic ones that kick ass!

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Better in every way than the old acetate ones.  The pass template even breaks down into two parts for storage!  Fantastic!

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Woo.  Bases.  Glamorous.  Moving on.

Here's the box with the above items taken out.  To protect the board and cards, a dividing paper was placed between them.

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On the other side was an ad.  I suppose we'd better get used to this.  Instead of the last page of the rulebook or assembly instructions, full sheet ads like this are being placed in all new GW boxes.  Oh well, at least you can toss it.

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...wait, what's that?

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There's an app?  I have not gotten it (look for a future post) but hopefully it can level up your roster, even sharing it with a tournament coordinator so there's no cheating!

Next, the item I have been waiting for: THE MAIN RULEBOOK!

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Cover art isn't the most awe-inspiring.  Someone must have rolled a 12 on the weather table, and this shot was taken just before the Blizzard rolled in, as it's very foggy.  Also, the Orc looks surprised to see the Human running at him.  "Hey, man, take it easy!"

Inside, we start with some classic art.

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Bob and Jim!  It wouldn't be a Blood Bowl rulebook without these knuckleheads.  To further the wackiness of the Blood Bowl setting, the book is festooned with comical asides, such as this one:

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As for the rules themselves, once again, that's a later post.  As for now, I have a powerful need for some dice!

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Both players get a full set of dice including three new block dice that look fantastic!  You also get two D6s with the 6 replaced with the Blood Bowl logo, a D8 for scattering, and... could it be?  YES!

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A D16!

*one change of pants later*

Ah, much better.  Good, now I don't have to roll a D20 and re-roll all 17+ when rolling for MVP.

Enough of the small objects, let's get onto the pitch!

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The pitch is big!  Bigger than the old Blood Bowl pitches!  Now large based minis won't have so much trouble fitting on those tiny squares.  You'll need a bit more table space though...

The pitch has a few details that make it more than just a field.  Here's a hatch to the dungeons below!

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...and a poor Goblin who didn't make his landing roll when thrown...

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Even better, unlike the old pitch, the flip side is a completely different pitch!

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Orcs tend to play on a rougher field, with bare bedrock in some places.

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Next: some cards!  They're bigger than I'd expect.  The bonus of such big cards is the text is easily readable.

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Among these cards are reference cards for the Human and Orc teams, and the Star Players both teams can employ.

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In addition there are two Special Play decks, much simplified from the optional Special Plays in the LRB.

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Next there's... another ad?  Oh, well at least this one is super worth it if you want to play the Blood Bowl videogame on Steam.  It includes a code for 50% off Blood Bowl II, and another code for unique DLC for that game.  My codes are edited out (sorry!).

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Next... OOOOOOOOOH!

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BAGGIES!  They perfectly fit the dice and oversized cards.  Excellent addition!  They are thicker and stronger than your bog-standard sandwich bags.  Great idea!

There's a double sided easy-reference guide.  It's great but... WHERE ARE HANDOFF AND FOUL?  (check rules) OH, they're there!  This guide is only for beginners...

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Up next, a sheet of the oft-unused waterslide transfers, but these are very high quality!  Both Orcs and Humans get Black and White versions of the transfers, so it works with any color scheme you choose, except perhaps camouflage.

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Next, another must-have, the dugouts!  Each dugout has a Human side and an Orc side.  I really like that the K.O.d box has an 8-9 and the Injury box has a 10-12, to remind you of where you go when injured!  The art is also very fun.  There's a scoreboard up top, rooms, and then the familiar turn counters and re-roll markers.

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...and that's it for the box set!  It looks like they had a lot of spectacular ideas, such as the baggies, reversible boards, dice for BOTH players, and fantastic templates.  It's a bit lacking in the variety of minis, and the quality of poses, as well as some of the art being bland.

...but wait, we're not done!  I also purchased Death Zone: Season 1!  The main rulebook only has rules for making an Orc or Human team.  DZ:S1 has Dwarfs, Skaven, Nurgle, Elf Unions, High Elves, Wood Elves, and Dark Elves, bringing the total of teams to 9!  They're missing my precious Lizardmen though...

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There are also rules for leagues, conspicuously absent from the main rulebook!

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Minor nitpick, if this book was released at the same time as the box set, are they "new" rules?   Wouldn't they be concurrent?  I guess all of them are NEW, but most of them are like old rules... *grumble grumble*

Next: a definitive breakdown of the rules, as compared to the old LRB!  We'll see what's new, what's old, what's great, and what's questionable!  After that, I'll try to see how the App is!

 

30Aug/160

Highland Library August Game 2 – 1500 Purge the Alien – Azure Flames vs. Tau

Game 2 was against Dominic, a frequent player on this blog who once demoed Epic Armageddon with me!  Today, Dominic brought his Tau.  I was feeling lazy, and so fielded almost the same list (transports were swapped).  We rolled for mission and surprise!  Got Purge the Alien AGAIN!  Oh well, it's a good mission.

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Bozeman - Azure Flames (Salamanders Flameblade from the Angels of Death supplement) - 1500pts

Flameblade Strike Force

  • Battle Demi-Company
    • Leonidas, Captain of the 1st company (counts as Vulkan He'Stan)
    • Tactical Squad x 10, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Melta, Power Fist, Meltagun, Multimelta
      • Drop Pod
    • Tactical Squad x 10, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Melta, Power Fist, Meltagun, Multimelta
    • Tactical Squad x 5, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Flamer, Power Fist, Flamer
      • Razorback, Lascannon and Twin-Linked Plasma Gun
    • Assault Squad x 5, 2 x Flamer
      • Drop Pod
    • Devastator Squad x 5, 4x Heavy Bolter, Auspex
    • Ironclad Dreadnought, Ironclad Launchers, Heavy Flamer, Chainfist
      • Drop Pod
  • Flamebringers Formation
    • Land Raider Redeemer

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Dominic - Tau

  • Combined Arms Detatchment
    • Commander, Iridium Crisis Suit, Flamer, several upgrades that make him the traditional "Buffmander"
    • Pathfinder Squad x 4, Recon Drone
      • Devilfish
    • Pathfinder Squad x 5, 2x Marker Light Drones, Blacksun Filter
    • Fire Warriror Strike Team x 12, Shas'ui
    • Fire Warriror Strike Team x 12, Shas'ui
    • Fireblade
    • Tidewall
    • Tidewall Gun Emplacement
    • Riptide, Ion Cannon, Stims, E.W.O.
    • Crisis Suit x 3, 6x Plasma (2 per suit), ATS, 3x Marker Light Drones
    • Hammerhead, Smart Missile System, Submunitions, Disruption Pod

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Mission - Purge the Alien (units destroyed = 1 VP)

Setup - Hammer and Anvil (short board edges, 24" deployment)

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Turn 1 - Azure Flames

Land Raider and Razorback move up and pop smoke.  Devastators run toward the silver building.  Leonidas and the Assault Squad arrive, and Leonidas splits off.  Their flamers kill most of both of the Fire Warrior Squads.  Tactical Squad also arrives via Drop Pod, scatter behind the Hammerhead, and blow it up.

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Advance!

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A deadly Alpha Strike ruins the Fire Warrior's day, and eliminates the Hammerhead.  The Assault Squad is reduced to two men thanks to the Riptide's Interceptor shot, but those two were the Flamers, so that was worth it!

Turn 1 - Tau

Devilfish moves up, but fails to harm the Razorback.  Fire Warriors shoot the Assault Squad, kill a Flamer, and the other one breaks and flees!  Riptide trains its remaining guns on Leonidas, but does no damage.  Emplaced Railgun does a crew shaken to the Land Raider Redeemer.

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The Devilfish menaces the Razorback.

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I'm getting out of here!

Turn 2 - Azure Flames

Leonidas blasts the other Fire Warriors again, causing them to break! The Assault Marine runs, and the Tactical Squad tries to maneuver out of the corner.  Razorback fires ineffectually at the Devilfish.  Ironclad Dreadnought arrives and its Heavy Flamer kills most of the Pathfinders in the ruins, while the Drop Pod finishes the last two.

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The Devilfish laughs off the Razorback's fire.

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Pathfinders don't like fire!

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Because the Tau are smart enough to password protect their gun emplacements, Leonidas cannot fire this railgun that the Fire Warriors abandoned when they flee.

Turn 2 - Tau

Buffmander and the Crisis Suits arrive (is that an indie rock band?)  They blow up the Razorback with plasma, which explodes and kills a Devastator.  Riptide moves off, but can't hurt the Ironclad.  Devilfish kills the last Assault Marine for a kill point!

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Buffmander and his boys blow up the Razorback, stunningly!

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The Riptide can't hurt the Ironclad.

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Lone Assault Marine is toast!

Turn 3 - Azure Flames

Tactical Squad in the Land Raider disembark.  Shooting and assault kill everyone but Buffmander, who is locked in combat with the squad.  Ironclad charges and does three wounds to the Riptide, but it kicks off his power fist in return!

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Buffmander is all alone, and in a pickle!

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Epic fight between the Ironclad and Riptide!

Turn 3 - Tau

The Ironclad does one more wound to the Riptide.  Pathfinders get out of their Devilfish and shoot the Devastators, killing one.  Buffmander takes one more wound.

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The Pathfinders attack!

DSCF1640Buffmander hangs on...

Turn 4 - Azure Flames

Buffmander is killed.  An underwhelming combat has no effect with the Ironclad and Riptide.  Devastators charge the Pathfinders, killing two, breaking them, and running them down!  Land Raider's Multi-Melta blows up the Devilfish, and a Drop Pod Storm Bolter kills the two Drones that pop out!

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This side of the board is cleared.

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These guys must be tired, they are just standing around doing nothing.

Turn 4 - Tau

The Riptide tries to use its Nova Reactor, but it overheats, killing it!  Tabled.

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Hey, where did my friend go?

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Final Score

Azure Flames - 9 plus Slay the Warlord, First Blood, and Linebreaker = 12

Tau - 1

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Dominic made one mistake: Buffmander did not start on the board.  Had he been around, he and his Crisis Suit buddies could have punched back against the Alpha Strike.  He could have also been hanging out making everyone better.  Other than that, the list was good and Dominic didn't make any mistakes.

Next: hopefully some Gothic Demos and more batreps!

30Aug/160

Highland August – 1500 Purge the Alien, Azure Flames vs. Deathwatch and Imperial Fists

Time for Highland Game Club again!  I played two games.  My first was with a new player, Cam, who has only been playing for a few months but shows a remarkable familiarity and flow during play.  Most new players can't remember what phase is which.  He brought the new Deathwatch models!  I'm lucky to get to play against an army so new!

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Bozeman - Azure Flames (Salamanders Flameblade from the Angels of Death supplement) - 1500pts

Flameblade Strike Force

  • Battle Demi-Company
    • Leonidas, Captain of the 1st company (counts as Vulkan He'Stan)
    • Tactical Squad x 10, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Melta, Power Fist, Meltagun, Multimelta
      • Drop Pod
    • Tactical Squad x 10, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Melta, Power Fist, Meltagun, Multimelta
      • Drop Pod
    • Tactical Squad x 5, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Flamer, Power Fist, Flamer
      • Razorback, Lascannon and Twin-Linked Plasma Gun
    • Assault Squad x 5, 2 x Flamer
    • Devastator Squad x 5, 4x Heavy Bolter, Auspex
    • Ironclad Dreadnought, Ironclad Launchers, Heavy Flamer, Chainfist
      • Drop Pod
  • Flamebringers Formation
    • Land Raider Redeemer

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Cam - Deathwatch with allied Imperial Fists - 1500pts

Deathwatch

  • Deathwatch Formation
    • Librarian, Lv2, Terminator Armour
    • Aquilla Kill Team x6, 1x Bike, Special Heavy Bolter, Storm Shield, Xeno Blade, attached Librarian, Lv2
    • Land Raider (Phobos Pattern)
    • Furor Kill Team x7, 1x Terminator, Heavy Flamer, Melta-Fist, 2x Combi-Melta, 1x Frag Cannon, Blackshield, Attached Chaplain

Allied Imperial Fist Space Marine Combined Arms Detatchment

  • Combined Arms Detatchment
    • Librarian, Lv2, Bones of Ossrak
    • Tactical Squad x 9, Drop Pod
    • Tactical Squad x 10, Veteran Sergeant, Bolter-Melta, Heavy Bolter
      • Rhino

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Mission - Purge the Alien (units destroyed = 1 VP)

Deployment - Dawn of War (long board edges)

Setup not pictured.  Cam put his Furor Deathwatch squad in the Land Raider, and also deployed the Imperial Fist squad in the Rhino.  For this game, thanks to the new Salamanders rules, Leonidas got an additional Warlord Trait and gained outflank, taking the Assault Squad and Land Raider Redeemer with him!  The Devastators and Flamer Squad in the Razorback deployed.

Lucky!  I seized the initiative!

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Turn 1 - Azure Flames

One of the Tactical Squads and the Ironclad Dreadnought deep strike.  The Ironclad gets a lucky shot and explodes the Land Raider!  The Tactical squad pours fire into the Deathwatch Furor team, but unbelievable invulnerable saves by the lone Terminator cause no casualties!  No other shots have effect.

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The Aquilla terrain represents the ruin of a Land Raider.  The squad inside is unharmed, thanks to the Terminator tanking two Melta hits.

Turn 1 - Deathwatch/Imperial Fists

The Furor Deathwatch team enacts swift revenge on the Tactical Squad, wiping them out!  The other Imperial Fists squad arrives, and their Librarian casts Enfeeble on the Devastators.  Bolter shots kill one Devastator.  The Sergeant of the Imperial Fist squad in the Rhino fires his one-shot Melta out of the hatch, but misses the Ironclad.

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The Imperial Fists arrive to make trouble on this side of the board

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The Tactical squad pays the price of upsetting the Deathwatch!

Turn 2 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the Assault Squad arrive in the Land Raider Redeemer, outflanking behind the Rhino.  The other Tactical Squad also arrives.  The Rhino is exploded, and the occupants are annihilated by the Land Raider's sponson Flamestorm Cannon and the Dreadnought.  The 5 man Flamer squad wipe out the newly arrived Imperial Fists with amazing Flamers, Heavy Bolters, and the Las-Plas from the Razorback.

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The black wall is the ruin of the Rhino, and its occupants have shared its fate.

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The Tactical Squad fared no better, thanks to +1 strength on Flamers and the Tactical Doctrine.

Turn 2 - Deathwatch/Imperial Fists

Aquilla Kill Team arrives via deep strike and kills a few Tactical Marines, aided by psychic powers.  The Furor team advances and penetrates the Ironclad with a Frag Cannon shot that causes Crew Shaken.

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The Aquilla team arrives, arranged painstakingly to maximize their ability to soak fire.  How did they get that bike in the Teleporter?  DON'T ASK.

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The Frag Cannon makes use of rear armour on the Ironclad, but can't do more than Crew Shaken.

Turn 3 - Azure Flames

Combined fire from several sources severely damages the Aquilla Kill Team, reducing them to two members and a wounded Librarian.  The Land Raider Redeemer advances cautiously and peppers the Furor team with fire, killing a few.  The Flamer squad charges the Imperial Fist Drop Pod, causing 2 glances.

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The Dreadnought fails to charge after the Aquilla Team is whittled down.

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The Land Raider is afraid of the Meltafist, and so maintains a discreet distance.

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This Drop Pod is sturdier than it looks!

Turn 3 - Deathwatch/Imperial Fists

The Flamer Squad finishes off the Drop Pod.  The Aquilla Team makes use of a once-per-game ability, is removed, and re-Deep Strikes within 6" of the Furor Team.

DSCF1611

Not sturdy enough!

DSCF1612

Emergency Teleport!

Turn 4 - Azure Flames

Fire from the Land Raider and Dreadnought kill the Furor Squad's Terminator.  Turn not pictured.

Turn 4 - Deathwatch/Imperial Fists

The Aquilla Squad charges the first Azure Flames Drop Pod, and glance it once.  The Furor Squad, now three strong counting the Librarian Warlord, charge the Ironclad.  Re-rolling Melta causes the Librarian to die from Overwatch, and as a result, the charge fails!

DSCF1616

Slay the Warlord achieved in Overwatch!

Turn 5 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the Flamers destroy the remaining Furor Team, while the Ironclad and Land Raider destroy the Aquilla Team.  Tabled.

DSCF1618

With the heavy hitters gone, Leonidas mops up the rest.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Final Score

Azure Flames: 11 plus Slay the Warlord, First Blood, and Linebreaker = 14

Deathwatch/Imperial Fists: 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cam is just trying out the Deathwatch list, and so didn't access the full swath of cheese therein.  His list required units that perform specific things, like the Furor Squad which was meant to be a Death Star.  The Imperial Fists were a bit weak, as they didn't have a clear battlefield role.  Cam also could have hid the Raider behind a hill, so that a deep strike to Melta it would have had to risk scattering off the board edge.

Next: another batrep!

26Jul/160

Golden Rhino Tournament 2016

The time has come.  Will I be able to pull off wins two years in a row?  Read on to find out!

-----------------------------------------------------

Game 1

Opponent: Andrew - Riptide-heavy Tau

Mission: Time is of the Essence - Dawn of War deployment.  Beginning on turn 2, objectives score points = current turn.  After the game, lose one point for each of your units destroyed, cannot go below zero.

Game started off good, as Leonidas and the Terminators got a turn one charge!

DSCF1584

 

However, their victory was short lived.  Reducing the unlucky Riptide to one wound, the Riptide commits suicide by using its Nova Charge!  With the Riptide removed, the Terminators are vulnerable to a charge.  Worse, the Ironclad is lost to overwatch fire during a charge.  In the end I was completely tabled by the bottom of turn 4.

DSCF1587

In the end, I didn't have what it takes to kill three Riptides and a Stormsurge.  Worse, this Riptide formation let them re-roll a huge amount of their failed Nova Charge checks, and gave them a one turn feat to shoot even more.  Honestly, I'm not sure how to make a tournament list to deal with this sort of Riptide spam.  Some people mentioned the right psychic powers, but I didn't have the points for a psyker this time.

-----------------------------------------------------

Game 2

Opponent: Zach - Tyranids on foot

Mission: Maelstrom of Confusion - Vanguard Strike Deployment.  Gain 3 Maelstrom objectives each turn.  At the end of your turn, after discarding, any objective not scored is SCORED NEGATIVE AND DISCARDED!  Objectives 11-16 are from the book, not your codex.  Any D3 for scores for objectives is assumed to be a "2."

Zach's Tyranids somehow brought an Aegis Defense Line, and hid behind it.  This was no match for charging Terminators and Drop Pods.  The highlight of the match was a deep striking Mawloc eating all five Terminators, right behind Leonidas!

DSCF1589

However, at the end of the game, only the Swarmlord and his buddies the Tyrant Guard survived.  Zach drew the absolute WORST objectives, and did not score until turn 5, whereas I drew like a god and scored positive every turn, with one turn scoring 7 points!

-----------------------------------------------------

Game 3

Opponent: Michael - Imperial Guard with Creed and a Stormlord Superheavy tank

Mission: Right Place at the Wrong Time - Hammer and Anvil deployment.  6 objectives.  When an objective is identified, roll a D6.  On a 1, it explodes and is removed!  On a 2-3 it is removed.  On a 4+ it is identified as a Mysterious Objective as normal, but all results of "1" are re-rolled.

To start us off, all 3 objectives in the deployment zones were fake, revealing the three in the center as real!  I rushed in to smash the Guard quickly.

DSCF1590

Most of my army converged on the Stormlord, inside of which was all but 2 of the guard squads.  When it exploded, most of Michael's army went with it...

DSCF1592

I tabled Michael by the top of turn 3.  It was insane.  I have played Michael with a list similar to this before, but I've never seen a victory this one sided.  This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.

-----------------------------------------------------

Final result:

I got 7th out of 16 players.  Ah well, it was pretty fun!  the winner was Josh, who played his Tau with lots of marker light drones and moving defense buildings!

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Big thanks to Ian and Dawn for organizing this insanely complicated event.  Thanks also to all of my opponents and fellow players!

Next: painting hopefully!

25Jul/160

Golden Rhino 2016 Display Board

DSCF1580

My forces are marshaled for war.  Tomorrow: the Golden Rhino Tournament at Highland.  1500 Highlander, three rounds.

I am ready.

15Jul/160

Battlefleet Gothic – 1500 Blockade Run – Dark Eldar vs. Imperial Navy

Stephen and I finally got our schedules to sync up and we got to play Battlefleet Gothic.  I brought my Dark Eldar.  Will they finally get a win, or will they continue their embarrassingly long losing streak?

(sorry about the picture quality, my camera was NOT behaving)

Blockade Run -1500 points

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Bozeman - Dark Eldar - 1500 points (defender)

-Dread Archon (Ld+2), 1 Re-roll (aboard The Bliss of Pain)

-Torture class cruiser The Bliss of Pain, Launch Bays, Mimic Engines

-Torture class cruiser Osan'gar, Phantom Lance, Mimic Engines

-Torture class cruiser Aran'gar, Phantom Lance, Mimic Engines

-Corsair Escort x4 Red Teardrops, Phantom Lance, Mimic Engines

-Corsair Escort x3 Razorlace, Torpedoes, Mimic Engines

-Corsair Escort x4, The Chosen, Impaler Assault Modules, Mimic Engines

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Stephen - Imperial Navy - 750 points (attacker)

-Admiral (Ld8) (aboard the Lance Dauntless)

-Lunar class cruiser

-Dauntless light cruiser, lance

-Dauntless light cruiser, torpedoes

-Sword class frigate x3

-Sword class frigate x3

-Cobra class destroyer x3

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Setup

DSCF1557

Due to my Mimic Engines, I took a free move before the game began.

DSCF1559

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Turn 1 - Dark Eldar

Lucky me, I got first turn!  Razorlace goes on Come to a New Heading and fire Leech Torpedoes at the Torpedo Dauntless, causing a Brace and two Leech effects.  The Osan'gar and The Bliss of Pain do three damage to the Lance Dauntless.  The Chosen take out one of the Cobras with batteries, while their Impalers and the Aran'gar destroy one of the Sword squadrons.  The Red Teardrops cripple the Lunar.

DSCF1563

Leech Torpedoes put the slowdown the Torpedo Dauntless as the Lance Dauntless takes fire from two cruisers, crippling it.

DSCF1564

The Swords are wiped out, and the Lunar takes some severe damage, smashing its bridge!

Turn 1 - Imperial Navy

Surviving Sword squadron locks on, but does only one damage to the Osan'gar.  Remaining fire is under the effect of Brace For Impact and so can't really do much.  Torpedo Dauntless rolls spectacularly and fixes both Leech results!

DSCF1565

Leech Torpedoes put the slowdown on the Dauntless as the Swords try Lock On to damage the Osan'gar.  Good brace save protect it mostly.

DSCF1566

Brace for impact plus being crippled equals not a lot of firepower.

DSCF1567

The Cobras make a break for it.

Turn 2 - Dark Eldar

Razorlace reloads and fires regular torpedoes which eat it in a blast marker.  Most of the rest of the fleet finish off the Lunar as The Chosen remove the Cobras.

DSCF1568

Torpedoes have little effect when they don't get there due to stupid Blast Markers.

DSCF1569

The Lunar is reduced to a blazing hulk.

DSCF1570

Cobras are no more.

Turn 2 - Imperial Navy

Torpedo Dauntless goes on All Ahead Full to get away, as the rest of the fleet makes a break for it.

DSCF1571RUN!

Turn 3 - Dark Eldar

The Osan'gar boards the Lance Dauntless and takes it out.  Fire from Razorlace removes the Swords.

DSCF1572

Here comes trouble.

Turn 3 - Imperial Navy

Surviving Dauntless goes on All Ahead Full.

DSCF1575

Will he get away?

Turn 4 - Dark Eldar

Spoiler: no.  Stephen refuses Brace for Impact so he can try to get off the board next turn, but Razorlace and Osan'gar finish it off with a lucky critical hit to the engines.

DSCF1577

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Final Score:

Dark Eldar - 750 points

Imperial Navy - 0 points

----------------------------------------------------------------------

I got very unlucky and 2/3 of my fleet was in the right 1/3 of the board.  Stephen could have taken advantage of this and gone up his left side.  I also got lucky and got 1st turn, turning my Mimic Engine move into a lethal Alpha Strike.

Next: more painting and a tournament!

4Jul/160

Highland June Tournament Prep part 2 – Maelstrom of Confusion

My second prep game was against Drew, who brought his Space Wolves!  Sadly, Drew will not participate in the tournament due to job issues.  This is a damn shame because Drew was a delight to play against and his list was fun, fluffy, and challenging!  We played mission 2: Maelstrom of Confusion.

------------------------------------------------------

Bozeman - Azure Flames Space Marines (Salamanders)

  • Combined Arms Detachment
    • Leonidas, Captain of the 1st Company (counts as Vulkan He'stan)
    • Ironclad Dreadnought, Chainfist, replace Storm Bolter with Heavy Flamer, Ironclad Launchers
      • Drop Pod
    • Terminator Assault Squad x5, 5x Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield
      • Land Raider Redeemer, Extra Armour, Multi-Melta
    • Tactical Squad x10, Veteran Sergeant, Power Fist, Bolter-Melta, Meltagun, Multi-Melta
      • Drop Pod
    • Scout Squad x5
      • Land Speeder Storm, Multi-Melta
    • Land Speeder Squadron x3, 3x Multi-Melta
    • Stormtalon Gunship, Skyhammer Missile Launcher

------------------------------------------------------

Drew - Space Wolves

  • Combined Arms Detatchment
    • Ulrik the Slayer
    • Murderfang
    • Berserker Dreadnought, Shield, Axe
    • Blood Claws x5, Flamer
      • Razorback, Twin Linked Lascannon, Dozer Blade
    • Grey Hunters x5, Plasma Gun
      • Razorback, Twin Linked Lascannon, Dozer Blade
    • Predator Squadron x2, Twin Linked Lascannon, Spnson Lascannons
    • Sicaran Battle Tank, Reinforced Ceramite, Dozer Blade, Heavy Bolter Sponsons
  • Wolfkin Formation
    • 40 Fenrisian Wolves

------------------------------------------------------

Mission: Maelstrom of Confusion

As per all tournament games, terrain is set up by players rolling off and then alternating placement.  All boards will have one large impassable line of sight blocking terrain, 2 ruins, 2 forests, 1 crater, 1 lake or other water feature, and 1 medium building that has the special rule: At Any Cost Necessary - This building may be targeted by shooting or assault regardless of who holds it.

Deployment: Vanguard Strike

At the beginning of each player's turn, they generate 3 tactical objectives.  If it is impossible to achieve (i.e. casting a psychic power but you have no psykers) you must immediately discard it and draw another.  At the end of the player's turn, they may discard one objective.  After discarding, any objective that is not achieved is SCORED NEGATIVELY and discarded!  This negative score cannot bring your victory points total below zero.

------------------------------------------------------

Setup

DSCF1521

DSCF1522

------------------------------------------------------

Uncharacteristically, I seized the initiative!

Azure Flames - Turn 1

Land Speeders try to gain objective 5, and one gets immobilized in terrain!  Ironclad drops in, stuns the Shield/Axe Dreadnought.  Land Raider advances, pops smoke.  I score -7 points, which does not bring me below zero.

DSCF1524

One Land Speeder crashes to try to get objective 5

DSCF1525

Land Raider menaces the right side of the board.

DSCF1526

Hey!  Wanna be my friend?

Space Wolves - Turn 1

Sicaran glances the Ironclad to death.  Blood Claws occupy the building.  Wolves with Ulrik attached advance.  Lascannons immobilize another Land Speeder.

DSCF1528

Wave of wolves!

DSCF1529

In hindsight, I should have positioned the Ironclad so that its rear armor faced the board edge.

DSCF1530The Land Speeders take fire.

Azure Flames - Turn 2

Remaining mobile Land Speeder tries to shoot the Razorback, but does nothing.  Leonidas and the Terminators charge the Blood Claws in the building, wiping them out.  Tactical Squad blasts Murderfang and it explodes!

DSCF1531

The Terminators take the building as the rest of the army advances.

DSCF1533

Tactical Sqaud takes out some wolves.

Space Wolves - Turn 2

Wolves with Ulrik surround the building, but on snake eyes cannot charge the Terminators!  Sicaran kills a few tactical marines, and backs up to control the objective.  Land Speeder glanced by lascannons.

DSCF1535

Wolves needed a "3" to charge.  Guess what they got?

DSCF1536

BEEP.  BEEP.  BEEP.

Azure Flames - Turn 3

Leonidas and the Terminators hang out to hold the building.  Combined fire from Leonidas, Land Raider, and Tactical Squad decimate the wolves.  Land Speeder and Stormtalon fire on Razorback, taking out its lascannon.  Land Speeder Storm comes in and destroys the Dreadnought.

DSCF1537

Wolves are severely weakened.

DSCF1539

The Razorback takes severe damage.

DSCF1540

No more Dreadnought!

Space Wolves - Turn 3

Grey Hunters glance the Land Speeder Storm.  Ulrik and the remaining wolves charge the Tactical Squad, destroying them.  Sicaran takes down the Stormtalon and lascannons fry the Land Speeder.  Turn not pictured.

Azure Flames - Turn 4

Scouts get out and charge a Predator, destroying one sponson lascannon.  Leonidas and the Terminators charge Ulrik and the wolves, killing all wolves!  Ulrik survives against all odds.

DSCF1541

Scouts harass the Predators.

DSCF1542

Ulrik is on his own!

Space Wolves - Turn 4

Shots from the Grey Hunters break the Scouts and they flee into the lake.  Lascannons bust the Land Speeder Storm.  Ulrik goes down.

DSCF1544

Glub Glub

DSCF1545Ulrik is slain!

Azure Flames - Turn 5

Terminators break off to charge the wounded Razorback, and smash it.  Leonidas charges the other Razorback and breaks it.  Scouts regroup and charge the predator, glancing it.

DSCF1546

Scouts won't give up!

DSCF1547

A one...

DSCF1549

...and a two!

Space Wolves - Turn 5

Sicaran puts two wounds on Leonidas.  Lascannon kills one Terminator.  Game ends.

DSCF1551

Ouch!

DSCF1552

Ouch again!

------------------------------------------------------

Final score

Azure Flames: 8 + Slay The Warlord + Linebreaker = 10

Space Wolves: 11 + First Blood + Linebreaker = 13

------------------------------------------------------

This was a very fun game.  There were one or two moments where I cursed a bit, such as Drew being able to shoot the Stormtalon being only able to see a wingtip, or hitting rear armor on the Ironclad because I didn't think of placement.  I also didn't get access to objectives well because they were set up by a 3rd party.  I also repeat my claim that Maelstrom is not as good as straightforward missions.  Had I drawn (or rolled D3s) better this would have been a tie or win, and you know how I feel about randomness.  However, this was still one of the best games I've played in a while thanks to Drew who knew 7th ed like the back of his hand!

Next: more painting, a display board, and the tournament!

29Jun/162

June Highland Tournament Prep part 1 – Time is of the Essence

Michael and I got down to it to prepare for the Highland tournament next month.  We played Time is of the Essence, the first mission which is... a bit brutal.

------------------------------------------------------

Bozeman - Azure Flames Space Marines (Salamanders)

  • Combined Arms Detachment
    • Leonidas, Captain of the 1st Company (counts as Vulkan He'stan)
    • Ironclad Dreadnought, Chainfist, replace Storm Bolter with Heavy Flamer, Ironclad Launchers
      • Drop Pod
    • Terminator Assault Squad x5, 5x Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield
      • Land Raider Redeemer, Extra Armour, Multi-Melta
    • Tactical Squad x10, Veteran Sergeant, Power Fist, Bolter-Melta, Meltagun, Multi-Melta
      • Drop Pod
    • Scout Squad x5
      • Land Speeder Storm, Multi-Melta
    • Land Speeder Squadron x3, 3x Multi-Melta
    • Stormtalon Gunship, Skyhammer Missile Launcher

------------------------------------------------------

Michael - Imperial Guard

  • Combined Arms Detachment
    • Leman Russ Vanquisher, Pask, Hull Lascannon, Sponson Plasma Cannons, Fire Barrels
    • Wyvern x2, Fire Barrels
    • Stormlord
    • Imperial Guard Platoon
      • Command Squad, Lascannon
      • Infantry Squad
      • Infantry Squad
      • Infantry Squad
      • Heavy Weapons Squad, 3x Lascannon
    • Techpriest Enginseer, 5x Servitors w/Servo Arms

------------------------------------------------------

Mission - Time is of the Essence

As per all tournament games, terrain is set up by players rolling off and then alternating placement.  All boards will have one large impassable line of sight blocking terrain, 2 ruins, 2 forests, 1 crater, 1 lake or other water feature, and 1 medium building that has the special rule: At Any Cost Necessary - This building may be targeted by shooting or assault regardless of who holds it.

Deployment: Dawn of War

After setting up terrain, but before deployment, players take turns placing 6 total objective markers.  Starting on turn 2, at the end of your player turn, you score a number of victory points equal to the current turn (i.e. on turn 2 each objective you hold is worth 2 victory points).  At the end of the game, you lose victory points equal to the number of your units that were destroyed, broken at the end of the game, or still in ongoing reserves.

------------------------------------------------------

Setup

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DSCF1496

DSCF1497

------------------------------------------------------

Michael seized the initiative!

Turn 1 - Imperial Guard

Fire from the Stormlord and Wyverns kill 2/3 of the Land Speeders and Pask shoots the Multi-melta off of the Land Raider Redeemer.

DSCF1499

Can't hide from the Wyvern fire!

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Pask fires a shot, and the Land Raider is down one Multi-melta.

Turn 1 - Azure Flames

Ironclad Dreadnought drops in and puts a hull point on the Stormlord.  Last Land Speeder goes for an objective in the forest.  Land Raider goes up and pops smoke.

DSCF1501

The Ironclad Dreadnought threatens the Stormlord.

DSCF1502Smoke is our only hope!

Turn 2 - Imperial Guard

Lascannon squad aboard the Stormlord takes out the Ironclad Dreadnought.  Wyverns destroy the last Land Speeder.  Turn not pictured.

Turn 2 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the Terminators disembark, and destroy the Wyverns.  Tactical squad arrives via drop pod, combat squads, and takes two objectives.  Scouts arrive via outflank and take another objective.

DSCF1503

The Wvyverns are toast!

DSCF1504

Objectives secured.

DSCF1505

The Land Speeder Storm takes another objective.

Turn 3 - Imperial Guard

Fire from the Stormlord kills one Terminator.  Sponson plasma cannon on Pask's Leman Russ suffers an overheat!

DSCF1506

30 shots kill only one Terminator.  Meanwhile, Pask has trouble with his Plasma.

Turn 3 - Azure Flames

Leonidas and the Terminators blow up Pask's Leman Russ, but one Terminator is killed in the explosion!  Land Raider backs up to protect the Tactical Combat Squad holding the objective in the open.

DSCF1508

Pask is toast.  The Land Raider acts as a wall to protect some bolter marines.

Turn 4 - Imperial Guard

Three Infantry Squads and the Command Squad disembark and bubble-wrap the Stormlord.  Precision shots do a wound to Leonidas and the Stormlord kills one more Terminator.

DSCF1509

The Guardsmen form a wall to prevent a Terminator charge on the Stormlord.

Turn 4 - Azure Flames

Leonidas splits from the Terminators, and his heavy flamer kills the entire command squad, as well as most of the red squad.  Leonidas charges the red squad, breaks them and wipes them out.  The Terminators charge the yellow squad, break them, and consolidate onto the objective.  Fire from the Stormtalon is ineffective.

DSCF1510

Leonidas accounts for two units in one turn, and consolidates to the side of the Stormlord.

DSCF1511

Terminators claim the objective.  Beneath them, two guardsmen flee a pitiful two inches.

Turn 5 - Imperial Guard

Green squad and Stormlord wipe out the Terminators.  Techpriest and Servitors charge Leonidas, but with a heavy flamer on Overwatch, and good attack rolls, Leonidas kills them all before they even get a chance to attack!  Lascannons do a glance to the Land Raider.

DSCF1513

Leonidas prepares the avenge the Terminators.

Turn 5 - Azure Flames

Leonidas burns the Green squad, but can't make it to the objective.  Lucky Assault Cannon shot does three hull points to the Stormlord!  Stormtalon risks a hover to claim the forest objective.

DSCF1516

Objective just out of reach!

Turn 6 - Imperial Guard

Stormlord does one wound to Leonidas.  Lascannons destroy the Stormtalon.

DSCF1517

Leonidas stands up to 30 shots.

DSCF1518The Stormtalon is toast!

Turn 6 - Azure Flames

Leonidas charges the green squad, kills them, and takes the objective.  Land Raider Assault Cannon does one more glance to the Stormlord.  Game ends.

DSCF1519

Leonidas grabs the objective.

DSCF1520Last lucky shot.

------------------------------------------------------

Final score

Azure Flames: 57 points + Slay the Warlord + Linebreaker - 3 lost units = 56

Imperial Guard: 7 points + First Blood - 8 lost units = 0

------------------------------------------------------

When event organizer Ian heard about our score, he was shocked.  Playtest with this mission had both sides routinely scoring 40-50 points.  Why, then, did Michael do so poorly?  In his own words, he created his list to be a tabler.  He wanted to win by killing everything in the opposing army.  This is hard at 1500 points.  Had even one of my models survived, I would have kept all of my victory points.  Michael only scored 7 points, and only by my urging that his squads hold an objective on turns 3 and 4.

Next: another battle report!  Stay tuned!

23Jun/160

A day of mourning, a day of hope

The first week must be the hardest, though Antonius as Captain Dakota of the Azure Flames 6th company briefed him on the resupply schedule of the Strike Cruiser Honor.

“The Munitorum just now has sorted out all of the requests from Imperial Navy vessels that have stayed behind to mop up the Ork forces in the Julius system.  We can finally resupply, and I can see that the Honor has the most stores of any ship in the fleet.  I need to be able to swap out supplies to refresh the stocks of His Hammer II, which saw the most action of any ship during the entire Chasma Spica conflict.”

“Sir…” Antonius began before Dakota interrupted him with a chortle.

“Sir?  You haven’t called me that in a long time.” Dakota said with a smile.

“You have quite a short memory, it was two months ago.”  Antonius retorted.

Dakota dismissively waved his hand.  “That was when you were a mere Battle Brother, Captain Antonius.  Besides, it has been a long two months.”

“That’s an understatement.  Feel free to take anything we have, Captain.  We are all brothers here.”

“Thank you, Antonius.  I’m sure that once we have a more complete survey of all the planets in…” Dakota cut off as a faint noise emanated from his earpiece.  He touched it, and a microphone deployed.  “Dakota.  Yes.  Understood.  I’m on my way.”  He turned his gaze back to Antonius.  “Come, Captain, we have a Thunderhawk flight to charter.  There is a meeting of the full Senior Staff aboard His Hammer II in the main conference room.”

“A full meeting?  But we have just secured Iperin as our homeworld!  We have not even begun pouring foundations for the Fortress Monastery.  We can’t be going on another crusade.”

“If the Emperor has need of us, then we go.” Dakota replied in a dour tone.  “Let us hope that no Imperial power wishes to challenge our right of conquest to Iperin.”

Antonius suppressed a shudder.  Without help from Inquisitor Voltman Kalmsan, The Azure Flames may well have come to blows with the Adeptus Mechanicus over the quarantine of the Menelaus during the Chasma Spica conflict.  If those delicate assurances had crumbled…

“Let’s go.” Antonius said.  Dakota nodded.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Antonius and Dakota strode into a darkened hallway, lit only by candles.  The faint aroma of incense wafted from censers on either side of the hall.  Near the end was a door with several bands of plasteel securing it.  Next to the door, a servo skull hovered above an autoscrivener with a roll of aged parchment that rolled up from the floor.  As Antonius and Dakota approached the skull scanned them with a red laser.

“Who comes?  Who comes?  Who comes?” The skull croaked in a mechanically augmented voice.

“Zeraf Antonius, Master of the Marches, Captain of the Strike Cruiser Honor.” Antonius replied as tradition said he should.

“Come in remembrance, and leave with purpose.” The skull intoned as the doors slid open.

“What?” Antonius exclaimed.  The skull did not answer.  “That isn’t the normal greeting.”

“No, it’s not.” answered Dakota.  “Go inside, I’ll be there in a moment.”

Antonius went through the door into a small antechamber.  He knelt before a small statue of Vulkan and offered a short prayer of devotion.  As he rose, Dakota came in behind him and repeated the ritual.  Antonius picked up a small padded mallet and rang a small gong hanging by the door into the main chamber three times.

“Enter.” A voice called.  Antonius carefully opened the door and went into the conference room.  A large table with data displays inlaid stretched from one end of the long room to the other.  Around the table were fourteen large steel benches, built to accommodate power armour.  At the far end, a larger, more ornate throne held the bulky frame of Perseus, the new Chapter Master, clad in his Terminator Armour, armed for war.  Around the table, most of the spaces were taken by the other captains of the ten companies of the Azure Flames.  To Perseus’ right was Chaplain Alexsandr, the Master of Sanctity in his black armour.  To his left, Ory-Hara, the Chief Librarian, clad in a blue hood and a mask that hid all but his eyes.  At the opposite end of the table sat Senior Apothecary Luiz and Jelnac, Master of the Forge.  Several of the other captains were seated in the places they took by tradition, but many seats were still empty.  Antonius took his, nodding to Perseus.  Perseus did not acknowledge the gesture.

He knows Antoinus thought.   Only someone who knew Antonius’ secret would give him that look of both trepidation and admiration.  Antonius turned to Apothecary Luiz who gave him the same look.  One week ago, on the day of his promotion to Captain, Luiz had told Antonius that he was the only gene-son of Atrus, the former Chapter Master and the man who saved the Azure Flames.  Atrus’ visions from the Emperor gave the chapter a new purpose.  Now, with Atrus gone, Antonius felt that he had lost a father.  Again.

Dakota entered quickly after Antonius, and the room was silent again.  Other Captains eventually filled the room until all fifteen members of the Senior Staff were present.  Perseus stood and spoke in a loud, clear voice.

“Let all who have come here speak not outside these walls of our counsel, save for the one voice in which we all speak.  Let loose words not in hatred, save for the alien, the mutant, the heretic.  Fear not your own voice, for here it is all you are armed with.  Do you so swear?”

The room answered as a chorus.  “On our honor, and by the teachings of Vulkan, we so swear.”

As soon as the echo of the group’s reply faded, Perseus sat. “We are not going to war.” he said.  Puzzled looks came from all but a few.

“Then what did you call us here for, old man?” shouted Leonidas, Captian of the first company.  His green gauntleted fist pounded the countertop.  Antonius briefly reflected on Leonidas’ livery; he was a living reminder that the Azure Flames had once been the Sons of the Salamander, and he took the duty of being that reminder very seriously.

“I have called you all here because we have all lost something.” Perseus answered.

“Yes.” the monotone mechanical voice of Edgard of the 3rd Company spoke up. “I have my revenge against the successors of Victor Kalan.  I slew dozens of aliens and heretics for each of my brothers that were taken from us by the Alliance.  Yet now there is only emptiness.  We have no purpose.”  Edgard was slouched over in sorrow, and Antonius heard the servos in his torso actuate as he corrected himself and sat up properly.  Edgard had survived the worst injuries imaginable, but he seemed to be in real pain now.

“We have a purpose.” Khalil of the 8th company retorted.  “Atrus told me just before he died.  He said that a true hero fights until his dying breath, knowing only what is in his heart.”

Jelnac, Master of the Forge, muttered “I still cannot believe that Atrus did not let his Techmarine bodyguard go with him.”  Though he was almost too quiet to hear, the anger in his voice was palpable.

“No one doubts the resolve of any of our brothers, Khalil.” Perseus said as if Jelnac had not spoken.  “We will live up to the memory of the man who shaped our chapter.  However, without his vision and drive, we must re-assess the purpose of the Azure Flames.  We sought to banish the darkness in the vision that Atrus had so long ago, and we did so with honor.  But now we must find a new purpose.”

“What is the purpose of any Space Marine chapter?” mused Zhuang of the 2nd company.  “We fight the enemies of the Imperium, and vanquish foes that give ordinary men pause.  We must simply adapt to this new role.”

A memory floated up, unbidden in Antonius’ mind.  It was pervasive; he could not dismiss it.

***Antonius looked out through someone else’s eyes.  He looked on as a younger version of Zhuang in Scout Armour lay broken and bleeding on the floor of a dark room.  Apothecaries came in to tend him, but he righted himself, pushed off of his knee, and stood.  Bright crimson blood ran from his mouth, nose, ears, and eyes.  He walked out of the room and the vision faded.***

As Antonius looked around the room, the rest of the council seemed to refocus their eyes, recovering from experiencing the same memory.  All but Ory-Hara, who stared daggers at Zhuang.

“Is this why you stood after the Final Trial of Brotherhood, Zhuang?” Perseus’ tone was almost accusatory.  “To join ‘just another chapter?’  No.  You are the only member of the Azure Flames since Atrus created that trial to walk out of the Black Room on your own two feet.  Are you content with mediocrity, Zhuang?”

“No, my lord.” Zhuang answered.

“Nor should any of you be.” Perseus continued.   “Atrus is gone.  We will all mourn him in our own way.  But he did not leave us only to have us turn our backs on all that we have built.”

“I have taught all of you, save Perseus and Alexsandr.” The rough, gravelly voice of Daniel, captain of the 10th company, was so nostalgic to Antonius that his Power Armour seemed far too big for him.  “With those two exceptions, I watched you all fire your first Boltgun.  I saw you go into battle for the first time.  I watched you grow, and I personally made the recommendation to Atrus, and before him Chapter Master Logain, to promote you all to full Brotherhood.” He turned to Perseus. “My lord, you are my oldest friend.  Know that I mean no disrespect, but you know as well as I that no one in this room would ever turn their backs on Atrus, the Chapter, or any of our history.”

Perseus sighed. “You are right, Daniel.  Zhuang, I apologize.”

“No, the fault is my own.” Zhuang replied. “I was avoiding thinking about the future, because I do not know what we are to do.”  He paused for a moment before adding: “Atrus always knew what to do.”

“Indeed, but we are bereft of his advice.” Valerien, captain of the 9th company answered. “We shall always remember the past, but it is our duty now to look to the future.”

“There’s always a choice…” Antonius surprised himself as those words left his mouth.  Everyone turned to him, and he felt the closest thing to fear that he had felt in a long time.

“A choice, Antonius?  We have no choice.  We must carry on, as we always have.” Valerien said.

“That’s not what I meant, but I can’t…” Antonius trailed off.  He knew what was right in his heart, but the words would not come.  Suddenly, he felt inspiration flow through his mind like a bolt of lightning.  “Ory-Hara, I need to share a memory with everyone.  Can you help me?”

Ory Hara nodded slowly, and stood.  He walked behind Perseus, and came down Antonius’ side of the table.  Antonius leaned his head back.  Ory-Hara’s gauntleted hand hovered above him.  With a click, a rectangular compartment opened in Ory-Hara’s palm.  As the armour opened, Antoinus saw the rubbery surface of the Black Carapace.  In the middle, was a small, circular hole about 2.5 centimeters across, exposing the pale flesh of a human palm.  Ory-Hara lowered his hand to Antonius’ head, and Antonius quickly went through the meditation techniques he learned to empty his mind of all thought.  A candle appeared in his mind, sporting a bright, blue flame.  Into this flame, Antonius pushed his hesitation, his excitement, and his pride.  He floated in nothingness for a fraction of a second, and then let himself remember.

***Antonius walked into the chapel of the Strike Cruiser Honor.  All of the sergeants were there, as well as Antonius’ predecessor, Captain Ganendra and Chaplain Hakan.  Captain Ganendra formally ordered him to take command of the 5th Tactical Sqaud.  Chaplain Hakan distributed devotional wine, and everyone drank.

Except Gehn.  Gehn stared.***

As the room once again shook off the effects of Ory-Hara’s memory sharing, he heard someone spit.  A small plume of acrid smoke emanated from the plasteel countertop in front of Leonidas.

“GAAAAH!  Antonius, you dare to soil our council devoted to the memory of a great man by remembering that… TRAITOR?” Leonidas shouted.

“We have to remember Gehn.” Antonius answered.  “You see, Gehn had a choice.  He could have let his jealousy and anger go.  He could have remembered that his oaths to the Emperor were stronger than his own ego.  Instead, he chose to let that jealousy and anger consume him, and turned to the Ruinous Powers.”  Antonius stood as he gained momentum. “We can choose to fade into the background.  We can take this system and build a fortress that rivals The Fang, and forever cut ourselves off from an uncaring galaxy.  We can be just like every other chapter that squats in their Fortress Monasteries and deigns to bless the battlefields with their presence.  Or…”

Antonius looked around, suddenly a bit self conscious.  Chaplain Alexsandr’s harsh Valhallan accent split the room. “FINISH, boy!” Antonius suddenly felt himself full of confidence.

“Or,” Antonius continued “we can make Iperin our home.  We can turn this world into a bright candle that banishes the darkness.  We can share our home with those who have had their homes and families taken from them, like mine was.  Like Ory-Hara.  Like Edgard.  Like so many of our brothers. Even Atrus himself.”

“Seek not to put yourself above mankind, for from whence you came, so you must serve.” Chaplain Alexsander intoned.

“The words of Vulkan.”  Everyone around the table said as a chorus.

“Atrus gave us a quest.” Antonius continued.  “He led us on a crusade, never settling in any one place, so that we would be ready to face the darkness he saw.  Our quest is over.  Now we have a choice.  Do we let our grief consume us, or do we let it drive us?  We should start a new quest.  To defend those who cannot protect themselves.  To avenge what cannot be protected.  And to bring light to those plunged into darkness and despair.”

Another memory rushed into Antonius’ mind.

***Once more, Antonius saw through the eyes of another.  The huge bulk of Atrus in his Dreadnought body was standing next to him as they gazed upon the smoking but intact silhouette of Tenkath Hive.  “A great victory.” a voice from behind Antonius’ eyes said.  “The shields held, and the traitors have been purged.”

Atrus sighed. “Yes, it is a great victory.”  His tone, even through speakers, was grandfatherly and regal, but tinged with sadness.  “But so many will be trapped in this dark place.  You fought along its streets, Ory-Hara.  You saw the living conditions these poor souls endure.  This place is no Releeshahn.”

“What does that mean, my lord?” the voice that was Ory-Hara’s inquired.

“Ah, yes.” Atrus turned to face Ory-Hara.  “Releeshahn is a legend from my old homeworld.  It means ‘city of light’ in our old tongue.    Releeshahn was a fictional city where none suffered, and there was light and music and happiness.”  Atrus turned to Tenkath Hive again.  “Every human life is worth saving.  I just wish we could give them better than… this.”***

Perseus stood.  “All of you know that I took the mantle of Chapter Master reluctantly.  I felt that I could not do justice to the legacy of Atrus.  That reluctance is now gone.  We have a new quest that will drive us.  For every world that we save, we will offer asylum to those whose lives have been destroyed by war.  For every world we lose, we will salvage what can be saved.  Our Fortress Monastery will be the capital of a shining city of hope.  And we will call it Releeshahn.”

Everyone rose and cheered.  Except Ory-Hara, who remained silent.

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Jelen awoke to darkness, as she had several times before.  Her throat was raw and dry from shouting.  She shifted from the jagged piece of plascrete that was her bed and once again began to feel around the ruined chamber she was trapped in.  Nothing.  Again.  She began to sob.

“I want my daddy…” she repeated again and again.

Suddenly, from outside the rubble, noise.  The bad bugs had come back to kill her.  All sound in her throat died.  Her chest tightened, and she began to shake.

“STAND BACK!” came a voice, loud despite being muffled by the debris.  The words snapped Jelen out of her shock.  She scooted back away from where the voice had come.  A brilliantly shining blue axe head appeared.  It disappeared and returned faster than Jelen had ever seen something move.  As it widened a hole in the wall, Jelen heard shouting with each stroke.  Dark blue gauntlets reached through either side of the newly formed hole and ripped the wall asunder.  Standing in the light was an Angel.

“Are you all right?” the Angel said.

The events of the past weeks all flooded into her at once.  The sirens.  The war.  Her daddy running out to draw the spores away.  That awful sound.  The collapse.  Being trapped for days in the ruins.  She ran towards the Angel and held on to his greave.  Horrible sobs wracked her chest.

“Majeed?  Antonius.” The Angel spoke in hushed tones.  “Bring me some water and a blanket from the emergency supplies.”  He paused. “Yes, I know.  Hurry.”  The Angel gently patted her filthy hair with his dark blue gauntlet.  “It’s alright, you’re safe now.  We will not let the aliens come for you.”

“My…” Jelen hiccupped incoherently.  “My… My… daddy… is… he…”

“What is your name child?” the Angel asked.

“J… Jel... Jel… Jelen.”

“Hello Jelen.  I am Antonius.  The Emperor sent me and my brothers to protect you.”  As the Angel said this, a vehicle appeared from behind a ruined building.  It plowed rubble out of its way with a forked blade on its prow.  It was the same deep blue of the Angel’s armour.  It was boxy with a sloped font, clean lines, and a wicked looking turret with a long barreled cannon and two smaller glowing guns flanking it.  As it approached, it slowed.  Another Angel disembarked through a rectangular hatch on the side, emblazoned with a bright blue flame symbol.

“You had to drive here?” Antonius said.

The other Angel smiled.  “You said to hurry, my lord.”  He handed Antonius a blanket, which Antonius wrapped around Jelen.  He lifted her and took her into the vehicle. The inside was cramped, and full of other Angels.  Counting Antonius, there were six total.  All blue except one which was white.  She sipped water from a canteen the other Angel gave her.

“Brothers, this is Jelen.  She is the only one we’ve found.  We must fall back and relieve Captain Edgard and the remaining defence force of Ifan III.  Make this girl’s safety your first priority.”  Jelen’s howl of grief managed to drown out the growl of the engine as the vehicle jerked into motion.

“I… I… lost my daddy.” she sobbed.

“I lost my father, just like you did.”  Antonius said.  Jelen was so shocked her crying immediately ceased.

“But, you’re an Angel.” she said.

“Before I was an Angel, I was little, just like you.  How did he die?  It’s alright if you don’t want to remember.”

“Daddy was carrying me down the street.  We saw those spore things.  There were lots and lots.  Daddy put me in the storage room, and told me not to come out.  I heard him run away.  Then there was a big boom.  The wall and ceiling fell down.  I couldn’t get out…”  She trailed off.

“Your father was very brave.”  Antonius said.

“How did your daddy die?”  Jelen asked.

Antonius looked down at the floor.

“It’s alright if you don’t wanna remember.”  She said, patting him on the greave.

“Tell her, my lord.”  The white Angel said.  Antonius looked up at him for what seemed like a long time.  His face, taut with anguish, softened slightly.

“Alright.  I’ll tell you how he died, saving me and all my brothers.”  He turned to her.  “His name was Atrus, and he was a great man.”