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  1. THE CRIMSON GRASP “War gives the right to the conquerors to impose any condition they please upon the vanquished.” -attributed to Shakespire, Terran dramaturge, M2 I The assault boat floated through the light debris field, ancient and seemingly forgotten, as the strike cruiser approached. Not a single light or control rune blinked to life across its surface, and its engines and weapons sat cold as the grave. It was a truly old vessel - a Trireme-class Assault Boat. Once a mainstay of the Saturnine fleets in the days before full Imperial unification of the Sol System, a handful of Trireme were used by the Legiones Astartes in a handful of their earliest battles, and yet even by the time that the last true rebellions and uprisings died away on Terra they had been almost entirely replaced; the Space Marines had quickly come to favour Dreadclaw and Caestus, whilst the early regiments of the Imperial Army were already beginning to move towards the easier to produce Shark and Condor pattern Assault Boats. The Trireme was quickly forgotten, and now it was rare for a ship in the Imperium’s fleets to even have a way to recognise the obsolete craft in its vast cogitator banks. And that was exactly what Saggar was counting on. Saggar stood in the cramped troop bay of the Trireme, his gaze seemingly locked on his squad’s helms. The light of their emerald lenses were amongst the only sources of light in the mostly powered-down assault craft, and that thin and sickly light caught the edges of the helmet crests of their kin, rendering the Sarum-forged shapes even more monstrous than normal. However, his attention was firmly within his own helm, focused utterly on the runes flickering over his display, showing the approach of the strike cruiser. The plan had seemed so very simple back in the launch bays of the Axeman’s Mercy. The strike cruiser that was approaching belonged to one of the thin-blood ‘Successor Chapters’ of the Imperium, and was unlikely to be able to tell the Trireme apart from the endless debris and flotsam of the void. Built for war in the densely populated Sol System, the Trireme was built to be far more resilient than the later generations of Imperial assault boats - in the battles over Saturn, there was a chance if you missed your target that a ship might actually be able to pick you up, and so the Trireme was able to maintain life support for incredible lengths of time. Especially when most of its occupants had the legendary constitutions of Space Marine Legionnaires. Now though, with the Butcher’s Nails biting hard into the back of his brain, and the vast form of a strike cruiser bearing down on him with no way of defending himself, Saggar was beginning to see all the ways this plan could go wrong. The runes displaying the status of the strike cruiser blinked bright, and Saggar held his breath. Even now, the hundreds of servitors linked to the strike cruiser’s defence turrets would be scanning the Trireme, trying to identify any threats. One long second passed. Then two. Three. Saggar was used to the lightning-grind of melee and the ground war, and each second sat in the dark, simply waiting, felt like a lifetime of agony. Eventually, after five more agonising seconds, a pinging green rune appeared imposed over the strike cruiser rune on his display. Saggar grinned, his tongue clicking off his iron teeth as he opened a vox-link to the hereteks and engine-cultists in the Trireme’s cockpit, Nails at once seeming to calm and tense further as the chance for violence approached. “Bring us in.” Slowly, achingly slowly, the Trireme began to move. It couldn’t ignite its main engines, not without becoming a blazing beacon on every sensor aboard the strike cruiser, and so it had to sputter and limp towards its prey on emergency micro-thrusters - drifting into the cruiser’s path more than actively closing the gap. In the troop bay, Saggar’s squad had begun to notice the movement. To an Astartes, well used to the feeling of an assault craft plying its trade, even these tiny movements spoke volumes. The Berzerkers began to twitch and fidget. The most controlled amongst them ran practised hands over their pistols and axes, performing weapons checks as a small ritual to try and appease and calm the pain engines singing in their skulls. The least controlled began to murmur and convulse, barely holding back their contempt and fury at not yet being in soothing battle. So began Saggar’s main task as a squad leader - trying to keep the World Eaters under his command dancing on the knife edge between mindless, frothing madmen barely useful as even the bluntest of weapons, and the long and painful failure that came from trying to deny the Nails. He laid a hand on the pauldron of one of the nearest struggling Berzerker, Kayst, the sudden and deliberate movement drawing the rest of the squad’s attention. That, at least, was a good sign; before some battles such small social queues had been completely beneath their notice. “Hold steady, brother. Soon, we will be ankle-deep in the blood of Imperials. The Blood God and the Nails will both have their fill and more, and our brothers will praise us as the heralds of yet another glorious victory. Is this not why we are the favoured of the Fell? Trusted above all others to be his preferred companions? We strike smart first, and it does not dull our fury. Blood for the Blood God!” “Blood for the Blood God!” The squad’s response shout was crisp and eager, and Saggar smiled again. Playing to their egos, and reminding them that the eye of one of Khorne’s favoured was on them in part because they could still be trusted to show at least a little restraint, had done its job, and Saggar felt some of his earlier confidence return. A different vox-link chimed, filling Saggar’s ear with the adrenaline-buzz of the Trireme’s heretek pilot-devotee, “Boarding proximity achieved, Lord Saggar. Bringing mag-clamps online.” The assault boat shuddered and hummed as, beyond the thick walls of the troop bay, it gently connected with the hull of the strike cruiser before locking itself into place with an array of esoteric mag-locks and proto-ursus harpoons, sharp as lamprey teeth. “Sealed and airtight, Lord Saggar. Melta-rams are now back online. We fire at your command.” Saggar slammed a fist into the release rune beside him, rising with the unlocked harness and forcing his way through his Berzerkers and the small knot of cultist and subhuman support they had brought with them until he stood at their fore, eyes almost boring a hole through the assault boat’s ramp. “Do it.” Saggar’s squad ran through the sparse outer corridors of the strike cruiser at a speed far beyond a jog. There was little restraint or control here, and even less attempt to move with any true silence or stealth. However, it had not yet devolved into a full and unrestrained charge, and even Kayst was still pausing and changing direction almost immediately after Saggar gave the order, and given how loud and insistent his own Nails were growing, that gave him no small amount of satisfaction. Besides, true stealth would barely have served them here. If the Astartes on this ship had not immediately noticed the assault boat breaching their hull, they would notice soon. Saggar simply had to complete his mission before the Imperials managed to stop him. They had yet to encounter any meaningful resistance. There had been a few knots of mortals here and there, most likely Chapter Serfs trying to eke out a handful of personal, human moments here, far enough from their duties, masters, and the ship’s key systems that the small sins of human inefficiency - love, tabac, and the other tiny excesses of dutiful slaves - were tolerated or ignored. None had survived contact with Saggar’s Berzerkers. He had let Kayst lead the way. The Berzerker had flung himself at each and every small mob of mortals, scattering them like a felinid coming down amidst song birds; with rent lines of blood and shrill cries of weakling panic cast all about him as his chainsword swung. The rest of the squad was barely a breath behind him, chainaxes and eviscerators lashing out at the mortals that tried to move away from Kayst’s frantic swordstrokes. In the wake of each cull (Saggar refused to insult Khorne or his own squad by calling the events ‘battles’, or even ‘skirmishes’) Rell had paused for a half moment to stoop amongst the corpses, the strange tools of his twin disciplines rattling at his waist as he bent to coat his fingers in the rapidly cooling blood of their victims, using it to daub crude runes on the walls and on his own armour even as he rose and moved to catch up with his fellow World Eaters. After the fourth such small ritual, Saggar spared Rell a nod, trusting the old Berzerker to read the implicit question in the gesture. Rell did, but his answer was full of his usual vagaries. “Too soon to tell, Saggar. It’ll all depend on how many thinbloods are on this ship once we are through proper.” Saggar grunted, annoyed but not surprised, before turning back to run with Kayst at the head of the squad. They were coming up on the objective, and there was precious little time to waste. There would be time enough to wrench answers out of Rell later. A few corridors more, and another mob of serfs, and something in the air changed. The keening pitch of the Nails sang higher in Saggar’s skull, and the faint scent of sanctified Mechanicus oils and the burnt residue of gun lubricant began to filter through his helmet. “Kayst, blade up and faster - I taste Imperial corpse-machines on the wind.” Kayst snarled, and Saggar braced himself for a backhand from the Berzerker’s sword, worried for a moment that the bite of the Nails would cause him to lash out at the implicit chains of authority in Saggar’s words. Then the snarl continued, morphing into something akin to a laugh, and Kayst broke into a full-tilt charge, bringing his chainsword up from the lazy and vaguely ready position it had lived in since they had deployed to a proper guard, from where it could be deployed against an actual opponent. Saggar lengthened his own stride, rushing to keep up with Kayst, and as the pair rounded a sharp bend in the corridor, they were met by a hail of solid slugs. A trio of heavy servitors - semi-living and lobotomised human bodies, filled up with simple aggressor machines, targeting matrices, and massive slabs of armour, and literally armed with some form of primitive rotary cannons - had locked their feet against the deck, choking the air down the long corridor with blazing hot ammunition. It was a kill-zone that few forces in the galaxy would be able to push through with ease. The World Eaters had never been a typical force. A veteran of the Long War in the truest sense, Kayst had served in the XII Legion’s Destroyer cadres, even earning the Blood Hand and fighting in the elite Red Hand Squads when Horus’ doomed rebellion had reached Terra. His place had always been in the teeth of the enemy, screaming back in the face of firepower that should have been overwhelming. He had survived the heavy weapons of Dorn’s precious Imperial Fists, the massed fire of entire Aeldari corsair bands, his own lethal and sickening wargear, and even, at the height of the Legion Wars, a full salvo of lascannon beams from the Sun Killer elite of the III Legion. These servitors were nothing in the face of such a legacy. The Destroyer lowered his shoulders, turning as he ran so that most of the howling slugs struck the already scarred Legion badge on his heavy pauldron. The weight of fire seemed to barely slow Kayst, and he howled as he continued to put one foot in front of the other, closing the gap between the squad and the servitors with the unnerving speed of a true Astartes. The bullets could do little against the ceramite of power armour, and where they found the soft armour of joints and armour seals, the sting of pain simply caused Kayst to howl louder and run faster, fury burning his blood as he sought to avenge himself upon the machine-men. As Kayst reached the servitors, he laid into them with his chainsword, crashing into the Imperial cyborgs with a series of heavy, two-handed swings. The first few blows struck at the weapon limbs of the servitors, although Saggar was unwilling to assign that to a desire to help cover the advance of the rest of the squad, or to any sense of strategy or tactics, rather than the blind and mad luck of a warrior lost to the Butcher’s Nails. Regardless of why he had done it, Kayst’s first flurry of blows had nonetheless knocked their heavy guns out of their pre-sighted alignments, and the rest of the Berzerkers were left unopposed as they ran the last stretch of the corridor, their own howls joining Kayst as they joined the fray. There was more of a fight here than there had been with the Chapter serfs. The blade-limbs of the servitors were just fast enough to parry one or two of the World Eaters’ swings, and a desperate close-range salvo from one of their cannons brought Badis crashing to a knee, a string of impact craters running down his breastplate. However, they were just three simple machines, and in the face of ten of the most powerful assault specialists the Imperium and the Eye had ever produced, they had never stood a chance, and by the time Badis had heaved himself back up with his eviscerator, the fight was over. It took Saggar long seconds to silence his own Nails enough to look to his squad after the last of the servitors fell, and even more valuable moments were lost as Saggar and his Brothers pulled the worst of their members back from the abyss. Even once calmed, Kayst paced like a caged predator as he waited for the squad to advance again, and Badis had been lost for a while, furiously tearing into the collapsed servitor that had shot him. However, eventually Saggar was able to drag his squad back from the fog of the Butcher’s Nails enough that he could stand and take stock, grinning as he saw what the servitors had been guarding: an interior bulkhead door, marked with an eyeless skull emblem - the same heraldry that had been emblazoned across the side of the strike cruiser. Another iron-toothed smile broke behind his helmet. Saggar turned, barking at Rell to get to the door. He paused, his eye lenses rising up to meet Saggar’s. He had taken advantage of the squad’s brief halt, daubing a dozen crude runes in the thick blood of the squad and the vital almost-oil of the servitors, and all but covering both of his vambraces in the strange half-script. The lifeblood was stark and bright against the death-grey of his armour, and as he moved past Saggar to investigate the door, it seemed to move slower than the rest of him, lingering like the afterthought of ritual in his wake. “Can you get it open, Rell?” Rell’s first response was little more than a grunt; a distracted half-snarl of Nail-bite and focus that made it very clear he would answer when he was good and ready, and not when Saggar asked. Saggar felt his anger rise in response to the implied disrespect, and forced his ire back down as Rell set to work, pulling a series of dataspikes and grav-drivers from his belt in order to assault the command console next to the bulkhead door. Long ago, Rell had been an initiate of the XII Legion’s Forge. Having shown a natural aptitude for machinery and mechanisms, he had been pulled from the line and named a Techmarine Initiate. However, Rell had never been sent to Sacred Mars to learn the great mysteries of the Machine Cult; just as his aptitude had been discovered, Angron and his sons had been called to Istvann by the Warmaster Horus, and would soon be embroiled in the all-consuming chaos of Horus’ Rebellion. With the World Eaters dispatched to Ultramar for Lorgar’s Shadow Crusade, and Mars besieged by those still loyal to the Throne, Rell had been taught his trade not in the Forge-Shrine, but in the crucible of war. As a result, Rell had never learned the higher mysteries of the Cult Mechanicus, but he had learned a brutal practicality that appealed to Angron’s Legion. No deep studies of the ancient Cybernetica or the lore-matrices of the great cogitators for Rell, instead he learned to repair a tank whilst under attack by Guilliman’s precious Locutarus Squads. No chance to ever learn the nuances of voltike production or how to set a voxgheist upon an entire world, instead Rell had learned the art of forging weapons from the broken machines of the XIII Legion. Rell might never have been considered a ‘true’ Techmarine, and even now boasted little of the true heretek mastery of the Warpsmiths of other warbands, and yet his ability to function as a rough mechanist under fire and through the howling of his Nails was an asset Saggar had long-since come to rely on. It had left its mark on Rell, though. There was a petty spitefulness that ran through the very core of Rell’s psyche; the old wound of never being allowed to study and master the great war-arts of the Mechanicum had never healed. Saggar had once heard that during the Shadow Crusade, Rell had made it his personal mission to kill as many of the Ultramarines’ Techmarines as he could, robbing the enemy of the knowledge and expertise he would never have the chance to obtain. Those same rumours had claimed that each of the tools of the Techpriest that Rell carried had been taken from those same murdered foes - each dataspike and wrench and plasma-cutter a trophy of a foe slain and a blow delivered to the accumulated wisdom of the enemy. Saggar had no idea if such tales were true, but having seen Rell’s fury in the face of Imperial Techmarines in the long years since Skalathrax, he could well believe it. “Saggar, it’s as we feared,” there was a rumble beneath Rell’s voice, an anger borne of having to admit defeat - admit weakness - for even a moment, “Whoever these thinbloods are, they actually put some thought into defending themselves. The inner bulkheads have a kinlock on them. I could force this one open, but all the others would stay locked shut. My dataspikes and petty scrapcode will never convince the door we are supposed to be here.” Saggar nodded, slapping a hand against Rell’s power pack, hoping that the gesture of camaraderie would reach through the Nails and the Berzerker’s wounded pride. They had always known there was a chance Rell would be unable to breach these sorts of defences - the soft work of corrupting and deceiving augury and identification systems had never been his great strength - and so they had come prepared. Saggar shouted an order back down the corridor, to where a small knot of cultists and mutants were slowly making their way through the strike cruiser in the Berzerkers’ wake. Several bestial mutants lumbered forwards, braying and bellowing in something between brash posturing challenges and pious prayers to their Astartes masters. Two were pure brutes, towering over the mortal cultists and blessed with spiralling crowns of horns atop their elongated heads, and swung their heavy chainswords with the righteous arrogance of bodyguards, but it was the third beastman that Saggar had called forward. Smaller than its kin, the third beast was hooded in the ragged approximation of robes, and carried a long stave - a cobbled-together badge of office made from broken icons, glyph-stained bones, and a twisted skull. The beastherds that dwelt in the depths of the Axeman’s Mercy called creatures such as these “shamans” - petty witches and pseudo-psykers whose extensive mutations had given it some deeper connection to the Warp. As the shaman approached, Saggar felt the edges of a Nails headache press at his mind. It was nothing compared to a purer human psyker or true Astartes Librarian, though - Saggar had often wondered if the beastmen’s sheer Warp pollution registered differently to the pain engines in some way, although whenever he had attempted to discuss it with his brothers they had laughed at his interest. However, the ‘softer’ impact of the mutant witches made it easier for the Berzerkers to stomach their presence, which is why they had been picked for this mission. “Burn their pathetic machines awake, witchblood. Open this ship to the Crimson Grasp.” The shaman brayed a response and lumbered forward, beginning to gesture and murmur in a language uncomfortably close to High Gothic for something with such bovine features. Where Saggar and his kin worshipped Khorne above the other gods, and as a grand warrior and pillar of fury and sacred rage, the beastherds worshipped Chaos as a single, primordial whole - an antithesis to order and civilisation. Whatever magic the shaman had taught itself to call upon was clearly borne from this idea of a Primordial Annihilator; it was the magic of disorder, the sorcery of lies and deception, the song of the twisting of bonds and proper function and loyalty. And it was exactly what the squad needed. The Nails buzzed louder in Saggar’s skull as writhing shadows began to dance between the shaman’s staff and the console, and he bit down hard on the urge to cut the beastman down, casting an eye over his squad to make sure that they were doing the same. The shaman’s dark magic poured through the bulkhead door’s sensor-arrays and gene-protocols, myriad illusions confounding it and overwhelming the simple machine spirit. The sensors scanned and scanned again, and a donut emerged in its protocols. There were Astartes in front of it, and surely they were its masters? What other Astartes could be on the ship? It served the Astartes. It served these Astartes? “Rell, now.” Saggar’s command cut through Rell’s battle with his own Nails, and he pushed his way back towards the console, grunting in disgust as the tendrils of the shaman’s magic caressed his armour. A dataspike slammed roughly into the console, and with that the machine spirit’s defences were finally completely overwhelmed. Rell grinned, feral delight overwhelming him despite the proximity of the mutant’s foul sorcery as he punched in a command. Emergency Protocol Exile Extremis Initiated. Unsealing all inner bulkhead chambers. Ave Imperator. The bulkhead door began to scream and screech as it slowly unlocked and rolled open, revealing the dimly lit corridor beyond. For a second, nothing beyond the bulkhead changed. Then, as the rest of the strike cruiser began to realise what was befalling it, the corridor beyond was lit by the flashing strobe of warning crimson, and the screaming of the door was joined by the wailing of klaxons. Saggar began to laugh, and punched through a vox command to the waiting Trireme. “Pilot, relay the following back to Axeman’s Mercy: Mission accomplished, Lord. We have our way in.”
  2. INDEX HERETICUS: CRIMSON GRASP Brutal warriors of the World Eaters, the Berzerkers of the Crimson Grasp have become the bane of many on countless battlefields and ship-to-ship raids in the long years since the Heresy. Long since disavowed of any notion of ‘wider Legion culture’ or ‘grand visions’ of a final victory over the Imperium, the Crimson Grasp are instead consumed wholly by their own crusade in the name of the Blood God. As with many of the warbands of the Eye, the Crimson Grasp have something of a dual birth; a story of the personality that would come to instil some measure of control and identity over the warriors when the warband formed, and a story of the moment the warband broke free of its former masters - be that some Legion or grand warlord, or the hated Imperium itself. The second birth of the Crimson Grasp is the same as most of the warbands born from the XII Legion, for it took place beneath the freezing skies of Skalathrax. As Khârn shattered the World Eaters, driving them in a broken and mad frenzy into both the Emperor’s Children and their own kin, the World Eaters Legion died. Captains and assault veterans and squad leaders rallied those that they could and held them together, becoming lords and champions of fledgling warbands. The warriors who would become the first of the Crimson Grasp were no different, banding together under the command of Ravager Grarl and seizing the Axeman’s Mercy - a Legion Light Cruiser still stationed above the daemon world. GRARL THE FELL Little is known of the earliest service records of Grarl, who came into the World Eaters Legion from the training fields of Bodt at some point after Angron truly took control of his sons. He seems to have quickly been inducted into the Legion’s Destroyer cadres, and by the time of the Battle of Yarant had been awarded the Blood Hand and was regularly fighting amongst the Red Hand Squads in the vanguard of the World Eater’s assaults. By the time of the Solar War, Grarl had fully embraced the Khornate destiny of his Legion. He, and a number of other devotees amongst the Destroyer squads, even appeared to have begun to gain some of the vitality of the damned, with battle and bloodshed seemingly helping them to endure and revitalise themselves in spite of the heavy toll of their wargear. Much of Grarl’s cohort of Destroyers were destroyed during the Siege of Terra, and he found himself in charge of most of the survivors. It was his first taste of command, and the first time he came to the attention of many within the wider ranks of the World Eaters Legion. Grarl gained a reputation during the long retreat to the Eye of Terror and the early days of the Legion Wars not only for his vicious dedication in the vanguard, but also for his passionate belief in the chance for the Legion to become something greater, even in the face of the Traitor’s stinging defeat. As the Legion fell apart on Skalathrax, Grarl seized the initiative. Taking control of a number of the squads he was dug in with, Grarl led them through a mob of Fulgrim’s swordsmen and seized enough ships to get them back into orbit. The crew of the Axeman’s Mercy were reeling, unable to get a clear picture of the situation on the planet below, and were only too happy when Grarl inflicted a purpose upon them. With a ship, Grarl and his Berzerkers soon became infamous, both as mercenaries in the Legion Wars and as raiders and pirates - Imperial ships too close to the Eye, as well as light cruisers and frigates within the Eye itself were prey to Grarl and his brothers. Soon, many warlords and would-be-princes in Eyespace were calling him “Grarl the Fell” for his fierce boarding actions, whilst his Berzerkers called themselves the Crimson Grasp - amongst their number were some of the last living bearers of a true Legion Blood Hand, and all materials that they needed or craved were rightly theirs to claim. ALL WITHIN OUR GRASP As mercenaries and raiders, the Crimson Grasp’s reputation has continued to grow over the long years since Skalathrax. When they fight under their own banner, they most often do so in order to claim the resources needed to continue their warmongering - enemy ships in particular have become common targets for their assaults. Once all within the ship are dead and dying, or once the bridge is on the brink of collapse, the Grasp and their allies have become masters at stripping every chainsword and bolt round, every drop of fuel and functional servitor, from their prey. Grasp boarding actions often trail heretek cultists in their wake - machine-idolators who worship the Axeman’s Mercy as a lesser god - and these hereteks will point out key machines and components that the Mercy has need of, helping the Astartes rip them from the walls and chambers that house them in order to take them back to heal or improve the Axeman’s Mercy again. Beyond these practical piratical concerns, the Crimson Grasp fight as the Red Hand once did - they fight to prove their worth and to prove themselves as masters of combat and war. They are the template for Grarl’s vision of what the World Eaters could be: the exemplars and speartip of Khorne, blessed and the eternal headsmen of the Blood God. As with all of those who fight beneath the banner of Khorne for any length of time, the size and influence of the Crimson Grasp’s forces have waxed and waned over their long years of service. At their lowest ebbs, the Crimson Grasp has stood at barely a dozen Berzerkers and the Axeman’s Mercy, and they have been forced to act as little more than a single squad in a larger warband. However, at their moments of triumph (including now, as they enter the Era Indomitus), the Crimson Grasp has boasted over a hundred World Eaters of all stripes - from Terminator veterans who fought on Istvann and Terra, to turncoat renegades given the ‘gift’ of Butcher’s Nails by the warband’s Berzerker-Surgeons, and from almost-sane tacticians and squad leaders to slavering and mad possessed elites - as well as packs of Jakhal warriors, mobs of lesser cultists, whole platoons of traitor guard, braying herds of abhumans, and even lesser squads and minor warbands of Astartes Renegades, all packed onto not only the Axeman’s Mercy, but a small squadron of battered but predatory frigates, retrofitted transporters, and crude gunboats. At present, with this comparatively vast force at his command, Grarl the Fell has led the Crimson Grasp out of the Eye for the first time in centuries, seeking to follow the crimson roads being carved through the Imperium by many of the great masters of the World Eaters - Angron the Red Angel, Khârn the Betrayer, Lord Invocatus, Lord Zhufor, Thaurox the Brazen, and many other champions all boast grand banners, and the Crimson Grasp are happy to fight in the vanguard of such chosen of the Blood God, knowing that to stand there is to stand in the Blood God’s gaze. APPEARANCE The Crimson Grasp wear the crested and rune-beaten power armour common to warbands of the World Eaters, and like their kin they make war primarily with the weapons once common to Angron’s Legion - with the Astartes chainaxe first and foremost in their armouries. However, where many of their kin now bear armour daubed entirely in crimson, the bulk of the armour of the Crimson Grasp is a dark ash - near-black, save beneath the knee and on their pauldrons, where they wear the red of Khorne. The origin of this colour for each individual varies - some repainted segments upon swearing to the Fell’s banner, whilst others once wore the white of the Legion of old, now long since stained by sin and by the soot of dying worlds. It appears to have first begun as an evolution of Grarl’s own armour, which all the way to Skalathrax remained the dark, pitted Destroyer armour of the Red Hands. In addition to the brass icons of Chaos and Khorne that adorn their armour as it adorns their kins’ in other warbands, several members of the Crimson Grasp wear the Blood Hand - the honour given to the exemplars of death and fury in the Legion of Old. In the case of the oldest and fiercest of veterans within the Grasp, they have worn the Butcher’s Mark since the days of Horus’ rebellion, and have continued to fight fiercely at the front of the warband’s assaults in the long years since. More controversially, Grarl has taken to continuing the tradition of awarding the Butcher’s Mark to his followers when they perform truly outstanding acts of savagery and violence, and some of the warband have earned such commendation that they wear the ‘Blood Hand’ as a permanent icon - the grasping fist of a rightful tyrant in blood-hallowed brass. To the veterans of many other World Eater warbands, this is a disrespect to the Blood Hand, and might even encourage complacency by discouraging the bearers from seeing the honour as potentially transient. However, there are not any signs that Grarl’s marked warriors have ever been content to rest on their laurels rather than constantly proving themselves worthy of the honour, and flinging themselves at the foe in order to re-earn it time and again. THE CRIMSON VIRTUE Whilst they obviously lack Sorcerers or Witches who can Summon and bind the legions of the Neverborn through psychic might, the Crimson Grasp nonetheless make heavy use of daemonic forces during their assaults. Many of the Crimson Grasp have studied a number of crude arcane blood traditions, and use that knowledge to hurriedly daub sigils and runes in vital fluid (both their foes and their own) in battle in order to thin the barrier between the mortal universe and the Warp - ideally until it is weak enough for the daemons beyond to rip their way through. Unlike many ‘true’ diabolists, who bind and enslave the daemons they invoke with these rituals, the Crimson Grasp leave the daemons free: If they are worthy of Khorne’s gaze, the daemons will fight alongside them as allies and linebreakers, whilst if they have fallen short or disappointed the Lord of Battle then the daemons will offer them an additional foe to fight in order to prove themselves. One daemon in particular seems to have taken a strong interest in the Crimson Grasp. Known to the Berzerkers as “the Crimson Virtue”, this daemon appears to be a lord amongst its own kind, and frequently appears as a towering figure wreathed in shadow and gunsmoke and the flames of war, and clad in the echo of knighthood and angelic grace and monstrous might. This creature has never given a name or title to the World Eaters - indeed no Berzerker of the Grasp has ever claimed to hear it speak - and its name comes from the final words of an Imperial preacher who did not die immediately upon being caught by the edge of its blade. Despite its seeming indifference to the Crimson Grasp themselves, the Crimson Virtue seems to stand at their shoulder - swimming and flying in their wake through the Warp, and it is often amongst the first of the daemons to manifest itself once they weaken the veil. It seems as if this is because it feels the Grasp bring it prey of a scale that it feels is worth hunting - fortresses, armoured squadrons, and in particular starships. When ‘summoned’, the Crimson Virtue will generally seem to fly, the screams of the dying like wings upon its back, towards the bridge of the ship or the fiercest and largest opposition, in order to claim its ‘head’ for Khorne, pausing only to kill those that stand in its way. In exchange for giving it access to its prizes, the Crimson Virtue spares the Berzerkers its blade. Even if the veil is not weakened enough to let through their daemonic ‘allies’ (if such terms can even apply to any daemons, let alone the likes of the Crimson Virtue), the Crimson Grasp frequently benefit from their blood rituals. As veterans of combat in Eyespace, the Berzerkers are frequently more used to fighting in the strange conditions where reality is thin than their enemies: They are used to shutting out the wailing air, the brutish machine spirits of their weapons are inured to the lesser horrors of the Warp, and if the walls start to weep blood that is more likely to sooth their Nails than unsettle their spirits. Grarl and the Crimson Grasp do not see their daemonic allies as ‘patrons’, not even the Crimson Virtue. To their mind, the daemons of the Warp can be allies, and they can be weapons, and they can be trials in order to grow stronger, but if a Berzerker wishes to prove that they are mighty enough to earn the blessings of Khorne, then that Berzerker must do so without the comfort and succour of a patron. This is not entirely a philosophical choice, and Grarl has commented on many occasions that the daemons of the Skull Throne make for poor patrons - the likes of An’ggrath and Samus will rarely tolerate a mortal, the likes of the Crimson Virtue barely even see them, and the only thing Angron could do worse than being a father is being a patron. Daemons are ideals to try and emulate, not masters to pander to.
  3. Version 1

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    A fan-made codex for the Blood Pact from Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels. This is a 54 page document providing all the datasheets and additional rules you would expect to find in a codex from GW, such as warlord traits, stratagems, artifacts and even a new blood-powered psychic discipline - Haematurgy.
  4. With Codex: World Eaters just around the corner, I thought it was time to bring up the topic of how to approach a new codex release with an existing Crusade. The natural reaction to any new Codex might be to simply start again, but I find that solution extremely unsatisfying. Being a narrative format, it would be disappointing to simply throw out all the narrative development I've put into this force so far. On the other hand, the Chaos Warband rules for CSM are pretty powerful, as far as benefits go. I have lost most of my battles, but all three Glory trackers are at Favoured status thanks to a judicious use of Agendas. And when a Chaos Warband is Favoured in a category, they get some significant discounts on important Requisitions - especially increasing supplies and adding WLTs and Relics. Importantly, there's no requirement to use those free Requisitions on CSM units, so you can add free WLTs and Relics to allied units as well... There is one big disadvantage to this, however: if you have started a Chaos Warband, your trackers always go down in every battle, regardless of whether you even use CSM units or not. But to increase your Glory trackers, you must use your Warband Champion in battle. This means your Champion is always exposed to battle scars, and our campaign house rules state that scars can only be removed if a unit skips a battle. This is why Kratus, prior to his ascension, was being used in every battle (even when not the best choice) and had accumulated two very detrimental battle scars. For several battles, Kratus had been unable to perform Heroic Intervention, for example. Ultimately, my concern is that I have benefited heavily from using the Chaos Warband rules, and those benefits might not be replicable with Codex: World Eaters, so they might feel undeserved. But then I did the Agendas and I suffered the battle scars on my Champion, to my detriment in many battles. So, I have a solution: All CSM-specific battle traits and Crusade relics will be exchanged for the nearest World Eater equivalents. Arkrath benefits from keeping all his pre-ascension Chaos Boons. This is something currently unique to CSM, since both Death Guard and Thousand Sons Daemon Princes lose their boons upon ascension. I don't know which way World Eaters will go, but if WE Daemon Princes lose their boons on ascension, then I will need to drop those as well. Similarly to (2), any benefits gained through the Chaos Warband that can't be done using the World Eaters' rules will be reversed. For example, Dreior's Berzerker squad gained a battle trait because I had a Favoured Warfleet - if World Eaters don't have some equivalent mechanic then I'll simply remove the trait. If Berzerker PL changes to account for the new Berzerker Eviscerator, I may need to change unit sizes or I'll be at a significant disadvantage. The main reason they're at 8-man squads now (other than Khorne's number) is to match the 1:20 PL/points ratio. Units that I've lost access to will need to be replaced with their nearest equivalents. The last one will be easy enough for most things: Thrax the Exalted Champion will become a Master of Executions and the Cultists will become Jakhals. But the Dark Apostle, Baruda, will be a bit trickier. I may have to consider giving him a new weapon so he can conceivably use the rules for an MoE as well, but it feels boring to have two virtually identical characters. I'll have to think on that one. Of course, all of this is assuming that World Eaters even get Crusade rules. There's no reason to believe we won't, but this Codex is looking like enough of a departure from existing 9th edition Codexes that there's a small part of me that wonders if maybe we won't. But hey, if that happens then I'll just continue using the CSM Crusade rules!
  5. Terminators have to be some of my favourite models in the game. Personal tank armour? Hell yeah! I've been sitting on a couple of boxes of the newer Chaos Terminators for some time, but have been hesitant to build them with Codex: World Eaters around the corner, especially since some earlier rumours suggested that there wouldn't be any Terminators at all. Now that we've seen all the releases and have multiple leaks indicating that Terminators are still in, I feel a lot more comfortable working on some replacements for Murdax's Butchers. Here are the first five members of the new Butchers: The heads and crests are 3D printed to resemble the old Forgeworld upgrade kit. The heads are a simple STL file, but the crests came from a Berzerker head kit that I modified to fit the Terminator armour body. I also added some weapons and bits from the new AoS Chaos Chosen kit for a little variety, and added some chains to the weapons to resemble the upcoming Berzerker kit. Murdax himself is already made from the new Terminator kit, so once these guys are done it'll just be a matter of making four more Terminators to round out the squad.
  6. Took a month, but Arkrath is finally done! Painting red Daemonic flesh when the model is also wearing red armour is always tricky, so I went with the option of painting the flesh like a redder version of his moral skin tone. Of course, had to slather on the blood for the oversized chainfist! I expanded on the rock that the Daemon Prince model comes with, making it feel more like the type of rocks the rest of the army uses. I also added some more similar rocks made it feel less like a random "hero rock". I'm also particularly pleased with how the bionic leg turned out - I've been wanting to do a biomechanical Daemon for years! That Venomcrawler leg just happened to be the perfect bit and I couldn't be happier. Overall, I'm very happy with how it turned out. The Daemon Prince model is such a great kit, I honestly can't get over just how neatly everything fits together and how many options it has. It did take a long time to paint, though - there are just so many details. I noticed several details that I missed just while taking these photos, but honestly, it gets to a point where you have to call good enough "done". Enjoy!
  7. THE CRUENTES Arkrath, the Hand of Khorne DAEMON PRINCE, 11PL For ten thousand years, the Astartes who would become Arkrath, Kratus, has led his warband of Chosen Terminators. Entering the Long War as a veteran warrior in the ranks of the XII Legion's Terminator elite, Kratus was frequently found in the most bloody of battles. This boldness amassed for him a significant following of Terminators, and they adopted the moniker of Red Butchers, once a reviled and pitied name but one that had since taken on a new sense of respect in their new worship of Khorne. It was from these same ranks that a warlord named Bardûl rose to prominence, his single-minded devotion to the Blood God eclipsing even Kratus's own. When Bardûl declared the founding of the Aksha'i Cruentes and the start of the Red Crusade, Kratus stood beside him, ready to go to war with the galaxy. As Bardûl's chief bodyguard and confidant, Kratus defended the man who called himself Hand of Khorne, as well as delivering justice to those who impeded the Bloodfather's dominance. It was not uncommon for Kratus to be dispatched to kill other Champions of Khorne who had displeased the Hand in some way. During the War for Janus, however, Bardûl grew impatient with the gifts his Daemonic patrons bestowed upon him, and he drank too greedily from the well of power that is Chaos worship, transforming into a monstrous Chaos Spawn. The power vacuum was quickly filled by the former Terminator Champion, who tore the symbolic chainfist from his erstwhile master's broken Terminator plate and took it for his own. Kratus's ascent was meteoric, and before long he was courting the same Daemonic patrons as his former master. Unlike Bardûl, however, Kratus's ambition and arrogance were tempered by personal sacrifices, having suffered several grievous wounds, including the loss of his own leg. Such losses displayed a certain dedication to the Lord of Battles, however they were still defeats in the eyes of the Blood God and would be punished. After one such defeat, Kratus was whisked away to the Warp before the alien witch's magicks could kill him. It was there that Kratus was first imprisoned and tortured by his patron, known to him as Ska'nzand the Wrathforged. He was held here for eight hundred years, by his perception, however never did his faith and determination waver. Impressed by this, Ska'nzand released Kratus on a quest of penitent rage throughout the Eye of Terror for another eight hundred years. In realspace only hours later, a winged figure manifested before the Cruentes, who were on the verge of tearing themselves apart to find a new leader. Monstrous in stature, this figure was armoured in what appeared to be a mockery of Terminator plate and bore a warped chainfist on its right vambrace. It did not use the name Kratus, for the man who bore that name was dead, it said. This was now Arkrath, the True Hand of Khorne. Warlord Trait: Hatred Incarnate Relic: Gorget of Eternal Hate Rank: Legendary Battle Honours: Scorpion Tail (Chaos Boon) - +1A Serpent's Fangs (Chaos Boon) - +1 to wound in first round of combat Warp Stalker (Chaos boon) - reroll advance and charge Razor-edged - improve AP of melee weapon by 1 Blackstone Shard Amulet - cannot be targeted by psychic powers Null-field Disruptor - ignores invulnerable saves Baruda, Blood Priest of Kharneth DARK APOSTLE, 6PL An early convert to the Cult of the Blood God, Baruda was instrumental in the formation of the Cruentes. He wears the charcoal black armour of Loyalist chaplains in dark mockery of his misguided counterparts. Baruda is an extremely - and some might say excessively - zealous individual, to the point that those around him view him with slight unease. However, there is no denying that his entreaties to the Dark Powers are an effective tool. He knows the Dark Zealotry, Wrathful Entreaty and Illusory Supplication prayers. Warlord Trait: Eternal Vendetta Relic: Mantle of Traitors Rank: Heroic Battle Honours: Detestation (Path of the Righteous) - cannot be targeted by psychic powers Stoic Fervour (Path of the Righteous) - 6+ FNP, 4+ FNP vs mortal wounds Just Killer (Path of the Righteous) - +1S when attacking units smaller than his Daemonic Flesh (via Chaos Reward Requisition) - unit gains +1T Aspect of Khorne (via Chaos Reward Requisition) - once per game free use of Fury of Khorne or Scorn of Sorcery stratagems Razor-edged(?) Crozius (via Victor Bonus) - AP of Crozius improved by 1 Thrax Gorechosen EXALTED CHAMPION, 6PL Thrax is a wandering traveller, claiming to be an original member of the War Hounds Legion and claiming to be the bearer of the coveted relic, Gorefather. Regardless of the truth to his words, the Berzerkers who follow Thrax into battle are invariably inspired to great deeds of bloodshed as Thrax himself frequently seeks out the strongest enemies he can find. Warlord Trait: Flames of Spite Relic: Gorefather Rank: Blooded Battle Honours: Sigil of the Shadowlord - 4+ Invul, 4+ FNP vs mortal wounds Validon's Bloodthunderers 8x KHORNE BERZERKERS, 10PL Validon is one of the Cruentes' longest-serving Berzerker Champions, and has been instrumental to the cohesion of the Cruentes as a fighting force. He instituted a gradual change to the Eternal Warrior's fighting pits: instead of individual combat, the pits would focus more on squad-based combat. Through repeated training in this manner over hundreds of years, the instinct to fight in a squad of brothers became so ingrained that even in the deepest frenzy, Berzerkers would know to fight together. Validon leads seven Berzerkers, collectively known as the Bloodthunderers. Rank: Battle-hardened Battle Honours: Hate-fuelled Butchers - +1 to WS Divine Guidance (Path of the Righteous) - improves melee AP by 1 Dreior's Hunters 8x KHORNE BERZERKERS, 10PL A newer member of the Cruentes, Dreior is a vat-grown gift from Fabius Bile's gene clinics. Implanted with false memories, he believes himself to be a veteran of the Long War, and despite his relative youth, he is a consummate fighter. He and his squad are often seen breaking through enemy lines and hunting down specific targets. Dreior leads seven Berzerkers simply known as the Hunters. Rank: Battle-hardened Battle Honours: Bitter to the Bone - can choose their Wanton state Fervid Focus (Path of the Righteous) - can move horizontally through terrain and models Trusted Hounds (via Warfleet Favour) - can choose a character's aura to always be in range Gorm's Stalkers 8x KHORNE BERZERKERS, 10PL Another long-serving member of the Cruentes, Gorm leads the newest inductees into battle. His strict command gives these initiates their first taste at combat, and puts them on the path to becoming fully-fledged Berzerkers of the Cruentes. Gorm's habit of consuming the flesh of the dead, however, often permeates through the ranks of those under his command. As a result, a significant number of Cruentes share his cannibalistic tendencies. Gorm leads seven Berzerkers known as the Stalkers. Rank: Battle-hardened Battle Honours: Hate-fuelled Butchers - +1 to WS Fervid Focus (Path of the Righteous) - can move horizontally through terrain and models Serpentine Fangs (via Dark God Favour) - Gorm's attacks gain +1 to wound on the charge Covenant of the Bloody Hand 20x CULTIST MOB, 5PL Despite this cultist warband's high attrition rate - or, perhaps, because of it - the cult members rarely have any trouble finding more volunteers for their ranks, as few mortal followers of Khorne can resist being given the opportunity to have their blood spilt on the battlefield. Members of this warband have begun adopting a sigil of a bloody handprint as they are inducted, signifying the dead passing on their covenant to the new warriors. Rank: Blooded Battle Honours: Believers of the True Faith - gain the Let the Galaxy Burn ability Murdax's Butchers 10x CHAOS TERMINATORS, 19PL Led by the dangerously ambitious champion, Murdax, the Butchers are a sub-warband of Terminators within the Aksha'i Cruentes. Fierce warriors all, this warband adopted the nickname of Red Butchers upon their descent into the worship of the Blood God. With Terminator plate being difficult to manufacture amongst the Traitor Legions, and with the World Eaters' excessively high attrition rate, the warriors in the Butchers are, ironically for their namesake, some of the more measured of the Cruentes. However, this should not be taken as a lack of aggression - they are capable of as much as their Berzerker brethren, however they have all trained for millennia to hone their use of the Butcher's Nails. Rank: Heroic Upgrades: Red Butchers (via Specialist Reinforcements Requisition) Battle Honours: Ambition's Edge - Murdax gains +1A, +1W and +1Ld Trusted Hounds - can benefit from certain character auras outside of range Hate-fuelled Butchers - +1WS Fervid Focus (via Path of the Righteous: Glorious Ceremony Requisition) - can move horizontally through terrain and models Vervek the Condemned HELLBRUTE, 7PL Vervek's fate is a cautionary tale for any individual who stands in the way of a mighty Champion of Khorne and his glory, for this former Terminator stole a trophy kill that Kratus had claimed. In the eyes of the Blood Father, of course, such triviality didn't matter - however, in the eyes of the corporeal judge and executioner claiming the god's authority, he was little more than a usurper. Vervek was carved out of his Terminator plate with little care, being no more than a head and torso before he was entombed within a Dreadnought's sarcophagus. Rank: Battle-ready Xarian the Bloody Idiot HELLBRUTE, 7PL Once the champion of a whole Cruentes warband, Xarian - formerly known also as Doomgore - was deposed of his position after it was apparent that he did not deserve to lead. Originally, he was the lieutenant of a rival World Eaters warband, the control over which he seized through betrayal, before he pledged them to the Cruentes. As a reward for bolstering their ranks, Xarian was gifted with command of his own warband and a rebellious Daemon sword. The sword resisted Xarian's ownership at first, having not been seized through combat. However, after several battles, Xarian appeased the weapon by stabbing it through his own stomach. Amused by this attempt at sacrifice, the sword appeared to capitulate. It soon became apparent that the sword still had not deemed Xarian worthy. Even though its power had been unlocked, it still rebelled at some of the worst moments possible, often leading to Xarian's defeat. Out of frustration, several conspirators - including Kratus and his Terminators - turned on the champion, dismembering his body and burying the Daemon sword deep within the Eternal Warrior. Xarian was kept alive as an amusement, more than anything, and was interred within a dreadnought sarcophagus. Xarian is a Helbrute, armed with a plasma cannon and hammer. Rank: Battle-hardened Battle Honours: Hate-fuelled Butcher - +1 to WS Despoiler Without Mercy - +1 to BS Chaos Rhino Motorpool CHAOS RHINOS, 4PL x2 Ranks: Rhino I - Battle-ready Rhino II - Battle-ready Rhino III - deleted Bardûl the Wretched Fool CHAOS SPAWN, 1PL A horrid, mutated mess of flesh, Bardûl is kept by the Cruentes as a "living" cautionary tale for those who would squander the gifts of the gods. Bardûl was once a mighty Champion of Khorne, blessed by the Blood God's favour and a promising locus around which the shattered remnants of the World Eaters Legion could gather. However, Bardûl was tempted with more power than he could bear. One of his Daemonic patrons offered him a tiny sliver of immortality, but the Chaos Lord demanded more. In a painful twist of hubris, the mighty Hand of Khorne was wracked with torment as his wrathful masters poured ever more mutating power of Chaos into the champion, until he was no longer recognisable. Rank: Battle-hardened Battle Honours: Fleet of Foot - +1Mv, +1 Advance and Charge rolls Grizzled - 6+ FNP THE PACT CRUENTES - DAEMONIC ALLIES Gorethane RENDMASTER, 7PL Equally at home hewing through ranks of foes from atop its warped chariot as it is duelling with enemy champions, the Gorethane is a dark master of battle. It can be seen directing its Bloodletter hordes from the front, always eager to slay. Warlord Trait: Glory of Battle Rank: Battle-ready Bloodseeker SKULLMASTER, 7PL The Bloodseeker is a swift butcher, and one of the first Neverborn to swear allegiance to Arkrath during his penance. Wielding the accursed axe Bloodbane and thundering into battle atop a loping Juggernaut, the Bloodseeker is a terrifying foe in battle. Relic: A'rgath, King of Blades Rank: Battle-ready Bloodletter Packs 6PL Rank: Battle-ready Bloodcrushers 6PL Rank: Battle-ready Flesh Hounds 5PL Rank: Battle-ready
  8. For weeks, Kratus's physical form had been in flux. His movement was not a fluid motion, as if viewed through a pict feed at a low framerate. In the blink of an eye, Kratus would appear in a totally different position; blink again, and he might appear to have never moved, as if he were totally disconnected from reality. Kratus has offered many a worthy skull to the Blood God's throne, felling skilled warriors and titanic Knights alike. It was the foul xenoform known as the Salt Wyrm that evaded his wrath: blows that would have landed perfectly, with a ferocity that would tear apart a battle tank, were evaded at the last moment by the Genestealer Patriarch. Bleeding from a dozen wounds and on the verge of a brain haemorrhage from the xenos's cowardly psychic attack, Kratus's blurred form emitted wisps of pure darkness, like smoke made of the stuff of black holes. In a swirl of swallowed light, he vanished. Minutes turned to hours as the Cruentes' menials pulled injured warriors from the battlefield and the xeno-mutants burrowed back into their lairs, with no sign of the Chaos Lord. Challenges rang out amongst champions of the Cruentes, and blood was spilled in a race for the warband to find a new leader before it tore itself apart. It was at the apex of this bloodshed, when it looked like the Cruentes were about to splinter, that a font of blood erupted and coagulated into a dozen or more forms. Most were roughly human-shaped, and several were atop black and brass steeds. One, however, was larger than the rest, its ancient Terminator plate twisted to match its stature. 'Kratus is dead,' it said. 'Long live Arkrath, the Hand of Khorne.'
  9. Or: I really need to make a proper urban-themed board for this narrative campaign that is set in a bloody city... 18 November, 2022 The sharp claws hunting us from the shadows have all but confirmed it: an ancient relic is buried under the surface of Hive Secundus, one that is of particular significance to the World Eaters. Rumour and hearsay had led them to this place, and it is time to claim the prize. The final preparations must be made to bombard this city and reach the relic within. Now, Genestealer Cultists have been found swarming the city, and we suspect that the foul xenos may have worked out how to use the fell technology within. Kratus, his flickering form uncertain in the material universe, leads Baruda, Murdax's Red Butchers, Validon's and Gorm's Berzerker squads, Xarian the Bloody Idiot and Vervek the Condemned in their Dreadnought chassis, and a mob of Cultists. The mission objective is essentially kill points (score VPs equal to the PL value of enemy units destroyed). The defender gets Light Cover while they're in their deployment zone, unless the attacker can turn off the objectives, which also earns the attacker VPs. Ever keen to show his worthiness to the Blood God, I have chosen Eye of the Gods (kill characters, vehicles or monsters for XP and Personal Glory) and Reaper (unit that kills the most gets XP) as my main Agenda picks. For my third, I figure that Deploy Vox Relays would be a good narrative choice for the story. I deploy aggressively, as normal with the Terminators and Cultists. I lose the first turn, but decide to rush both units up the board anyway with Apoplectic Frenzy to hopefully keep my opponent on the back foot. I figure the Atalan Jackals (gods, that name is going to be confusing in a few months...) will spring forward and try to threaten my Helbrutes, so I get the Cultists to help screen the machines against the dirt bikers' damnable bombs. Terminators plod up the field, knowing full well that they won't be protected by Illusory Supplication just yet. It's just GSC, how much firepower could they have? I keep Gorm's Berzerkers in Strategic Reserve, in the hope that they can nab an objective late in the game. In my opponent's first turn, the Goliath truck rumbles forward on my left flank. As expected, the bikers zip forward, past the suspiciously xenoform ruin in the centre, to harrass my Cultists. A Goliath Rockgrinder and a couple of light Ridgerunners wheel around to get some shots off at the Terminators. A not insignificant amount of shooting later, and four Red Butchers are taken out of action, their riddled bodies barely held together by their ancient armour. On the left, a wall of fire from the cultists (soon to be Jakhals?) inflicts a minor burn on the Jackals. The bikes charge, killing a few cultists, who in turn knock two bikers out of their saddles while the other speeds away. In my turn, the cultists advance to turn off the objective on the left. Weirdly, this is not an Action, so can be done after advancing - fine by me! Unfortunately, I forgot that they can't score VPs in the first round, but at least they'll be a distraction. In the middle/right, I send the Terminators out to secure the middle objective, and the Rhino to threaten the right objective. The Terminators also deploy a vox beacon for one of my Agendas. The Helbrutes ponder up and inflict a few wounds on each of the Goliaths. The Genestealers' second turn sees some Purestrains leap out of cover to maul the hapless cultists, turning the objective back on in the process. While the Rockgrinder hops on the objective on the right. Despite the Illusory Supplication from Baruda, the Terminators lose three models (note to self: trans-hit doesn't help much against BS4 enemies...), the Rhino suffers significant damage, and the Kellermorph pick off both of Baruda's little buddies and wound the priest himself. Oof. The cultists prove about as resilient as one can expect, and swiftly become a xenos meal. Frustratingly, the Genestealers burrow underground and head into Strategic Reserves. I always forget about that Stratagem... Meanwhile, the Rockgrinder ploughs into the Rhino, destroying it. Four (!!!) Berzerkers apparently tried, in vain, to stop the machine using nothing but their own bodies. It did not work, and half the squad disappears in a blisteringly bad roll. Things are not looking good, but I know I can still get this if I can disable some objectives and kill a bit more. On the left, Xarian the Helbrute atomises a good portion of the Goliath truck, destroying it. I didn't get good photos of this, but the Terminators likewise melt the Rockgrinder on the right, which turns out was rigged with explosives, killing a Berzerker and wounding everything else around it. Turns out that having 90% of your shooting be short-ranged against such a Stratagem is not wise! In my opponent's turn three, the trap is sprung and his Genestealers and the Muscle Beach make themselves known. Some sneaky buggers are also set up to cordon off the table edges against my own reserves. Back in the centre, the Aberrants and Purestrains clobber and scrabble into the remnants of my force. Unfortunately, one of Kratus's battle scars prevents him from performing a Heroic Intervention, so it's pretty much just down to the Terminators and Baruda. In a show of favour from the Bloodfather, Baruda is barely left standing, though the Genestealers' quick reflexes prevent his return swings from landing. The Red Butchers were not so lucky, and the Aberrants demolish the veteran warriors, though Murdax brings a couple of them down with him. My third turn is one of desperation. Kratus flickers into combat with the Purestrains, supported by Xarian, while the remaining Berzerkers from Validon's squad and Vervek launch themselves at the Aberrants. Meanwhile, my reserves move on from my own table edge, utilising an often-forgotten rule to be able to set up close to the enemy by keeping one model within 1" of my own table edge. Sadly, the charges in the middle weren't as successful as I had hoped. Vervek's power scourge was not the best weapon against 3W Aberrants, and the Berzerkers didn't quite finish them off, while the Purestrains proved to be too quick for even Astartes physiology. They finished off Baruda with numerous, viscious slashes. The lone Aberrant did end up fleeing, however unfortunately it wasn't due to my attacks, so I couldn't get XP for it. At least I could get VPs, though! At least Gorm's Berzerkers on the left were a little more successful, wiping out the Purestrains trying to hunt them down. Unfortunately, despite thinning my opponent's force somewhat, he still has tricks up his sleeve. The Patriarch, which we've learned calls itself the Salt Wyrm (though I still prefer "Big Daddy") blitzes through the ruins to stalk Kratus in an eerily familiar showdown. Meanwhile, shooting from the Ridgerunners knock out the last of Validon's Berzerkers, and the Hybrids that had been guarding the board edge throw themselves at Vervek, cutting at hydraulics and power cables, disabling the dreadnought. I try a couple of tricks: first, negating the damage from one of Big Daddy the Salt Wyrm's attacks using the Divine Shield stratagem from the Righteous Path rules. The blood shield succeeds in protecting him from the Patriarch's attacks...but I hadn't factored in the final genestealer. Kratus's blurred form, one second standing and fighting was on the ground bleeding in less than the blink of an eye. Fine, we'll play it that way! I use the last of my CPs on He Is Risen!, also from the Righteous Path rules. For a second, Kratus's body blinks out of existence... ...Only for him to reappear, a blood-curdling warcry on his lips. Kratus lays into both xenos, finally slaying the last of the Purebloods, but the legendary dexterity of the Big Salt Daddy Wyrm saves him from harm. Luckily, Kratus's terminator armour keeps him alive with only one wound remaining. GSC turn four, he still has some substantial shooting left, and Gorm's squad takes heavy casualties, In the middle, the Patriarch's witch powers prove too much, even for the divinely-inspired Kratus. Invading the heretic's mind with dark tendrils of energy, Kratus - standing in a pool of his own blood oozing from many wounds - begins bleeding from his eyes and other cranial orifices. He drops to his knees, but before the Patriarch can take his head, reality shudders around the Chaos Lord, and he disappears again in a wisp of warp smoke. With that, there's not much else that the World Eaters can do, and the Genestealers succeed in defending their territory from the Heretic Astartes once again. I do, however, manage to scrounge two Chaos Points to help keep some of my trackers at reasonable levels. Result: 53-65 Loss Kratus's Personal Glory: 7 -> 7Khorne's Dark God Glory: 6 -> 7Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 6 After the battle, however, Kratus doesn't reappear. At least, not immediately...
  10. It's been a hot minute since I provided much of an update to my Order of Battle! It also took a couple of months longer than intended to advance to the next phase of the Path of the Righteous that my force has begun. A quick reminder: these are optional rules from White Dward 472-476 from earlier this year. They follow your force at it walks a path of pure zeal, potentially leading to damnation in the process. These issues can be found in the Warhammer Vault, if you are a WH+ subscriber. In this phase of the Path, called the Absolution of Faith, a unit's Righteous Inspiration limit is raised from 4 to 8 points. For units with 7 or less points of Righteous Inspiration, several new stratagems are available. Notably: They Are Risen!, which allows the player to resurrect a character for 2CP on a 2+, once per battle. Doing so increases that character's Inspiration by 3 points, so you can only get away with this a couple of times per character! Divine Shield, which allows you to change the Damage characteristic of an incoming attack to 0 for 2CP, once per battle. This also increases that unit's Inspiration by 2 points. The Last Righteous Act, which is a fight-on-death Stratagem for 2CP. This increases the unit's Inspiration by 1 point. The rest of the stratagems do various things to improve a unit's combat ability (or psychic ability, for those inclined), and each increase the target unit's Inspiration by another 1 point. This phase of the Path also introduces a handful of new Requisitions, which simply allow the player to spread Righteous Inspiration points, redistribute Righteous Crusade Relics, or have a Righteous character teach a unit a Righteous Battle Trait. Oh, and there's some psychic stuff, but whatever So far, only Baruda (of course) has any Righteous Inspiration from taking a couple of Battle Traits in the previous phase. For some reason, Kratus also has a couple of Inspiration points - I must have started using the stratagems a few weeks ago, though I have no memory of doing so! Ah well, it's on the Unit Card, so Past Cheex must have been keeping track of something...right?
  11. 11 November, 2022 With news of Hive Secundus housing something powerful, several armies are converging on the city. Kratus, having been thwarted in breaking into the catacombs himself, has resolved to instead locate the weakest crust of the inner city and simply bombard it from space, cracking it open and exposing the bounty within. The Cruentes believe they have found the perfect position. The only problem is that a strike force of Imperial Knights stand in their way. As a further obstacle, something seems to be lurking in the shadows. Superstitious cultists rant about "vampyrs" and "shapeshifters" that have hunted the city's denizens since the war began, snapping up whole communities as they tried to escape the conflict. Indeed, the darkness itself seems to have eyes...and claws... For this battle and the next, units in range of objectives (or in area terrain, if there are no objectives) are at -1Ld and -1 to Combat Attrition tests, as somthing unnervingly stalks the shadows and preys on the unwary. Kratus's physical form is becoming increasingly detached from time and space. His outline appears almost wispy. And his movements, rather than being smooth motion, appear more like short-distance jumps through space. One moment he might be looking away, the next moment he could be turned to face you - only to suddenly be looking away again, all without appearing to move. Baruda, ever the zealot, loudly proclaims it is simply yet another boon bestowed upon his Lord by the god of war. Kratus is accompanied by Baruda the Dark Apostle, Murdax's Red Butchers, Validon's Berzerkers, a mob of Cultists, and Bardûl's wretched form. In this mission, the objective is to secure the battlefield - however, the communication issues present in Secundus and the presences in the shadows have jumbled the orders somewhat. There are four objectives, two of which can only be captured by part of your army, and the other two can only be captured by the rest of your army, randomly determined before deployment. Kratus, Baruda and the Berzerkers are trying to take the nearer two objectives, while the Terminators, Cultists and Spawn are trying to take the farther two objectives. For Agendas, I choose the nearly ubiquitous Eye of the Gods to kill characters and vehicles, and supplement that with one of the Agendas from this mission pack, Machine Vendetta, to get even more experience from killing vehicles. I deploy almost everything on the right flank, hoping to overwhelm this side of the board and prevent the Knights from taking my closer objectives, while sneaking up and capturing one of his for just a turn or so. Kratus himself deploys on the far right with the Cultists, hoping to hold an objective while the mortals are thrown into the fray. As is normal, the Terminators form the anvil in the centre of the battlefield, supported by Baruda's dulcet singing voice. Unfortunately, the Knights win first turn, so I don't have a chance to activate my defensive prayer with Baruda. Despite this, I push on with the plan, and with a blood-curdling roar the Terminators and Cultists move up the field with Apoplectic Frenzy. Baruda uses his Warlord Trait, Eternal Vendetta, to mark the big Knight, Prince Arthur, for death. The chivalrous fools leap at this chance, knowing the Red Butchers' reputation for resilience. The two melta Armigers round on Murdax's squad, supported by the autocannon Armiger in the distance. Prince Arthur likewise moves down the street to offer his - not insubstantial - firepower. On the right flank, a few Cultists were slain by some incidental stubber fire, while a few more were dragged silently into the shadows by the denizens there. (In hindsight, I have no idea why I moved them onto the objective that they couldn't even capture anyway...) The combined firepower of all four Knights sends a storm of shrapnel, high-calibre shells and superheated gas towards the ancient, frenzied warriors. Their priceless plate holds surprisingly well without the machinations of the warp to help them, however six of them are still felled - four of them to the Helverin's autocannons! The ground rumbles as Arthur and one of his Armigers thunder into the survivors. Prince Arthur swings first, cutting open three of the berserk Terminators. Murdax himself survives and, of course, barrels into the Armiger in a Counter Offensive. The junior Knight suffers terribly from the Champion's chainfist as it carves through metal plating, reinforced conduits and locomotive stabilisers. With only four wounds left, the Knight is unable to land a killing blow on the World Eater. Losing nearly an entire Terminator squad on the top of turn 1 is obviously not ideal, however this now means that around two thirds of my opponent's force is out of position. The Berzerkers vault over the pipelines, while Baruda leaps over his attendants to hammer into the damaged Armiger. Kratus - not visible in this photo - moves up to try charging into Arthur as well. Unfortunately, his blasted bionic leg continued to plague him, as he failed his charge even with a reroll from Warp Stalker. The Berzerkers struck first, swarming up the Knight's legs and sawing into various joints and other weak spots, bringing the adamantine giant down to just 10 wounds. Arthur swung back, choosing to mete out his vengeance against the bugs clinging to his hull, killing most of the Berzerkers. Murdax leapt from the Armiger and slammed his chainfist into Arthur's weakened hull, inflicting just enough damage (12) to cause the Knight to lose its remaining power and topple onto its back. Meanwhile, Baruda slammed his corrupted crozius into the Armiger, likewise only bareuly causing enough damage (4) to sever the right hydraulics and conduits to cripple the war machine. In my opponent's turn, having lost two critical Knights, he steps up with his last Warglaive to avenge his fallen. Another punishing salvo from the last two Armigers incapacitates the last Berzerkers and knocks out Murdax. The plucky Knight pilot sees his chance, and launches into Baruda. Luckily, the priest still has two lackeys happy to sacrifice themslves, with one dying. Baruda swings back, inflicting significant damage to the Armiger's hull. In my turn, the Spawn gribbles up to help Baruda in his struggle against the warmachine. Elsewhere, unpictured, Kratus continues to set up his bombardment beacon, while the cultists advance onto one of my opponent's objectives to do the same there. The Spawn knocks a few more wounds off the Armiger, who splits his attacks between Baruda and the Spawn. The Spawn is easilly cut in half, but Baruda's final attendant leaps in the way of the whirring chainblades (an outstanding feat in itself, given that the disciple lacks a face), allowing his master to continue his onslaught, breaking the Knight's steed. Since I controlled more objectives for this turn, I now took the lead in VPs. Now it's just a matter of surviving long enough to keep it that way! In my opponent's turn, the last Armiger makes a good attempt at killing everything left in my army. The autocannons thump away at Baruda, knocking off two wounds thanks to his 6+ FNP, while the heavy stubbers kill off the Cultists (though maybe one or two more were claimed by the shadowy claws!). At this point, I had a choice to make: either keep Baruda on his objective and guarantee the win, or "do the Khorne thing" and charge. I do the Khorne thing and charge. The Armiger lands a single hit in overwatch, killing Baruda. Hmpf. With one model each left on the table, there's not much that either of us can do. He spends the last two turns firing on Kratus, whose Gorget of Eternal Hate easily deflects the heavy rounds while he finishes setting up the beacon. What a battle! The fates certainly swung from one side to the other, and my plan to just nab more objectives ended up working in my favour. Just one single turn of scoring more VPs than my opponent is all it took. Unfortunately, such a narrow victory (I assume) means that I only gain a paltry 4 Chaos Points. Bardûl the Wretched Fool earns the Fatigued Battle Scar. Baruda is the clear MVP for this battle, and so is Marked for Greatness, though this is not quite enough to progress to Heroic level. With the first of the beacons set, the warfleet of the Cruentes begins moving into position... Result: 45-35 Win Kratus's Personal Glory: 7 -> 7Khorne's Dark God Glory: 6 -> 7Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 7
  12. Ok, I promise this will be the last time I update this model! I haven't been happy with my choice of head for this guy, and I wanted something to represent his Serpentine Fangs. The problem is that I couldn't find any models that were doing it for me. So, back to the 3D print solution! This handsome fella's head came from a collection of Vampire Heads by WildMesh, which I digitally kitbashed with some Butcher's Nails by Hellforged Miniatures. (I, erm, paid a lot more money for access to those Butcher's Nails than I'd like to admit...) I thought it turned out pretty well for my second ever digital kitbash! Buuuut you can barely see them in the photos. Ah well. Like the interior of a Rhino, at least I know it's there and that's all that matters... You may also notice his slightly ruddy complexion around the edges of his face. That's not just the lighting, but an intentional effect to demonstrate his Warp-born gifts. As if the scorpion tail wasn't enough... Anyway, I have definitely tinkered with this model enough! Next time will be something new, I promise...
  13. This battle occurred a few weeks ago, but real life got in the way. Sorry for the lack of updates! Regular scheduling is to follow. I've also noticed that the recent formatting change on the B&C has deleted all of my paragraph breaks in previous entries, so I will eventually go back and fix them...eventually. 7 October, 2022 Burning with the power of the warp following his last encounter with the Imperial Knights, Kratus presses onwards through the dust-strewn wreckage of Hive Secundus. He's on a mission to uncover something buried in the heart of the city. With an awkward, limping gait, Kratus leads his forces onward to a processional way to the dark belly of the hive. Those who can see Kratus notice something unusual about him - like if they see him from the corner of their eyes, his outline is slightly blurred. Kratus is supported by the raving chants of Baruda the Dark Apostle, Validon's and Dreior's Berzerkers, a mob of Cultists, Murdax and his Red Butcher Terminators, Xarian the Helbrute, and a new Helbrute named Vervek. One of the Berzerker squads is mounted in a Rhino. This newcomer was, in fact, one of Kratus's former bodyguards who stole a glory kill from him several games back, and has been languishing in torture ever since... The World Eaters are defending in this mission, as they must secure this site as a point of ingress to the core of the city. The Genestealers, being the current owners of this mysterious objective, must sabotage this potential entryway by performing actions on the objectives. I choose the following Agendas: Blasphemous Ritual (perform an action in the centre of the table for potential XP and Dark God Glory points) - the World Eaters wish to 'consecrate' their entryway to the city's centre. Cull the Hordes (gain XP for killing 6+ models in one phase) - Khorne demands blood. Assassins (gain XP for killing characters) - Khorne demands worthy skulls. As always with GSC, you get very little information on where they're going to deploy, and I know they can spring up out of nowhere so I try to screen my weaker left flank while focusing mainly on the right. Kratus sees his unnamed follower loping off ahead, moving in a way that Terminator plate shouldn't, apparently unnoticed by the other Berzerkers. The figure, clad in the colours of the War Hounds Legion, turns back and reveals the positions of the enemies. The warning was of little help, however. On the left, the mutants' bikers scream as they surge forward before the battle was even underway, followed by the skittering of claws on dusty pavement. On the right, the jerryrigged civilian vehicles scamper back to try and avoid the fire of the two Helbrutes. In the ruins of some ruins of strangely non-Imperial origin, some shadowy figures can be seen waiting and watching. With a roar, the Berzerkers and Terminators surge forwards using the Apoplectic Frenzy stratagem. Note: these photos were taken after pre-game moves, but before my opponent had taken his first movement phase. The bikers zip forwards, prayers to their Four-Armed False Emperor on their lips as they prepare their demolition charges. Their pure-blooded brothers follow in the dust they kick up. In the centre, a mutant witch saunders forwards, her skull writhing with disgusting energies as she strikes down a couple of Berzerkers with mind bullets. The makeshift explosives do their destructive work, blasting armour plates off Vervek's dreadnought hull and damaging several systems, before barrelling into the Cultists. The cultists open fire in Overwatch, slightly damaging one of the bikes. Elsewhere, other shots ring out across the battlefield, including more than a little firepower directed at Vervek's already damaged form. However, none of them are able to finish off this beast and - despite the photo you see below - he is reduced to a single wound. The bikers run down several Cultists, but their bodies gum up the light steeds. One of the bikers is thrown from the saddle and clubbed to death, while another suffers some damage. Luckily, the Cultists are so intoxicated by the bloodshed that none of them flee. In my first turn, Xarian the Helbrute and the Berzerkers on foot advance up the centre, hoping to draw out the Genestealers. The Rhino moves up cautiously in a position to send reinforcements where needed. Xarian fires up his new multimelta, sighting the foul mutant witch across the battlefield, and in an explosion of superheated matter, wipes her off the table. (Though I have no doubt she used some kind of trickery to escape!) Meanwhile, Vervek lends a hand to the cultists, killing two more bikers as they struggle to extricate themselves from the mass of maddened humans. A few more Cultists are trampled, but again they pass their Morale test with a heroic stubbornness. Vervek gets bored and wanders off to fight the Genestealers...with his whole remaining wound. Meanwhile, I realise I should probably invest in some more disposable bait units, as the Genestealers on the right scamper forwards and make short work of Dreior's squad. And the incredibly fast blue buggers just bypass Vervek entirely to grab one of my home objectives. Some lesser mutants show up to help them out and they sabotage his potential Hive Core entrance. A mutant gunslinger appears with altogether too many arms and altogether too many pistols, taking aim at Baruda, whose chanting is messing with reality around the Terminators in the middle. He(?) succeeds in killing two of Baruda's buddies, and wounding the priest himself. I spend a command point to reroll one of his saves and he survives. The outcome against Dreior's berzerkers was never really in question, but I take a photo anyway. Even less contentious was the other Genestealers against the Cultists and Vervek, however here at least I am able to perform a Counter Offensive to kill a few of them with Vervek before he crumples to the ground. Somehow, the Cultist champion actually survives...and passes another Morale test! Turning to deal with the new threat to the rear, Kratus blurs through reality to charge the mutants. The Red Butchers begin desecrating the Imperial shrine in the centre of the table, knowing they could draw the attention of Khorne to the battle. I seem to have missed a photo here, but Validon's berzerkers jump out of their Rhino and easily take care of the Genestealers on my right. In my opponent's turn, the Patriarch makes himself known, followed by several Abominants as they counter my countercharge. Kratus butchers the lesser mutants in my rear, chasing down the gunslinger that was leading them, but rescue is at hand. Meanwhile, some more mutants appear to demolish another possible route into the heart of the city. They really don't want me in their lair, for some reason. Various combined arms brings Xarian practically to his knees. He retaliates out of rage using the Fire Frenzy stratagem, blasting a decent hole out of the Goliath truck but failing to destroy it. Kratus is surrounded by horrid, blue aliens. His ancient warplate wards off most of pistol shots from the Kellermorph as it disengages, but he is starting to bleed. As he bleeds, however, his silhouette begins to blur more and more frequently. On the right, a variety of mutants, aliens and vehicles launch into the Berzerkers and Helbrute. Taking first swing, the Genestealers tear at Kratus, cutting deep into his armour. His strange warping and blipping through reality continues as he fights off the aliens, before he eventually disappears entirely. Seizing the initiative with Counter Offensive, the Berzerkers launch themselves at the Patriarch and the Abominants, killing all but one of the horrible mutants and almost dragging down the Patriarch himself. However, despite being forced to the ground himself, the Patriarch tears through the Astartes, scattering the squad, while Xarian is knocked over by the truck. Emboldened by their newly desecrated/consecrated shrine to Khorne, the Terminators hurl themselves at the enemy with a mighty 12" charge. Baruda is also feeling lucky, and turns to show the Genestealers his stick. The Red Butchers, unsurprisingly, butcher their way through what was left on my right. While Baruda knocks down a couple of xenos and takes a couple of scratches in the process. Thinking their job was done, the Terminators failed to notice the biotech grafted into the Patriarch's carapace. His Archeotech Nano-meds pump stimulants into his body and he scurries away to join some mutants that had been skulking around my right flank for some time. The Genestealers in my rear, clearly deciding that they had no interest in Baruda's shiny stick, scamper off to take my other objective.... ...while the gunslinger mutant easily caps the priest. In my final turn, Murdax's Butchers close in with the slippery Patriarch, burning his makeshift bodyguards with their heavy flamers, before pummelling the Genestealer lord again. The battle ends there, with the Genestealers having danced around the battlefield and destroying all of the objectives. The Terminators, seeing this fate, head back to the World Eaters' drop zone, leaving behind the Patriarch's corpse. They fail to notice the swarm of nanobots still in the creature's bloodstream, knitting its flesh back together. One of the Terminators turns....only to see the body missing. Back at the drop zone, Kratus rematerialises with cuts and bruises all over. His silhouette is now blurred even when viewing him directly, and his blood is looking unusually black in colour. No units level up this battle and the Rhino (which was destroyed at some point, but I now can't remember how) gains a pretty inconsequential battle scar. However, a solid roll for my Chaos Points after the battle and one successful Blasphemous Ritual puts my force in a better position to when they started. Result: 30-65 Loss Kratus's Personal Glory: 7 -> 7Khorne's Dark God Glory: 5 -> 6Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 7
  14. I didn't get to play a game last week, so instead I got some more hobby done! I hesitate to call it progress, since it's really just a distraction from getting stuff done that's been sitting in the Pile of Opportunity for too long, but hey, it was fun. Not content to just say "Kratus has bionics under his armour now", I went online and found a cheap ($1) bionic leg STL, fired up the old Photon Mono and made Kratus a new leg to represent his recent battle scar. I took the opportunity to fix a few things about the model I didn't like: his old pose made him look like he was leaning a bit, I moved the right shoulder pad up a touch to emulate the newer Terminator design, and I touched up his eyes a tad. It turns out it's very hard to paint eyes when the lower half of a model's face is blocked. Combined with his rather fetching tail, I think this Chaos Lord has quite a bit of character now! Now all he needs is something to represent his Serpentine Fangs (+1 to wound when charging) - any ideas?
  15. Or: It's Fistin' Time! 22 September, 2022 After a series of stinging defeats and anaemic offerings to the Blood Father, the World Eaters are eager for a worthy fight. Kratus, in particular, is determined to prove his worth as a successor to the Hand of Khorne. As scattered bands of Cruentes stalk the streets, they encounter a scouting force of Imperial Knights, presenting them with an opportunity to take some worthy trophies. Since the last battle, I used Repair and Recuperate to remove the battle scar from Thrax, the Exalted Champion. It appears his pact with a shadowy daemon has instilled him with new confidence... Kratus and Thrax lead this force, composed of all three Berzerker squads led by Validon, Dreior and Gorm, and backed by a Cultist mob and Bardûl, the Spawn. Eager to salvage his reputation and silence any possibility of usurpation from within his ranks, Kratus seeks to draw the Eye of the Gods (kill characters or vehicles) and solidify himself as an Instrument of Vengeance (Path of the Righteous - kill characters or units bearing relics). In this mission, half of each player's units (rounding down) must start in Strategic Reserve, at no cost. With seven units in my army, I opt to keep Kratus, two Berzerker squads and the Cultists on the board. Thrax leads a reserve band of eight Berzerkers and the Spawn. The objectives for this mission are simply to kill enemies and end the game in the opponent's deployment zone. We also set up a couple of supply cache secondary objectives, per our campaign's rules. Performing a special Action on these objectives would provide free uses of certain Requisitions. A wave of determination sweeps over the World Eaters, and although my opponent gains first turn I decide to use Apoplectic Frenzy to sprint almost everyone forwards. In the Knights' first turn, their warlord, Prince Arthur, shimmies between two ruins to draw a bead on the Berzerkers on my right. In a storm of extremely accurate firepower, six Berzerkers are blasted apart. On the left, one Berzerker is downed by an autocannon from the shooty Armiger. Following up on his successful shooting, Prince Arthur barrels between the ruined buildings to charge and easily destroy the two remaining Berzerkers. Kratus, still suffering from some Deep Scars, cannot use Heroic Intervention. (Our campaign has a house rule where a unit can only use the Repair and Recuperate requisition if they sit out a battle, and Kratus has been fighting in every battle since gaining that scar.) In response, I abandon my original plan of using the Cultists to just nab some supplies, and instead hurl them at the Knight along with Kratus. If push comes to shove, they can use Fury of Khorne to help get a few extra wounds in if needed. The Berzerkers on the left instead head over to pick up those supplies...but I forget that they have the Battle-weary scar, preventing them from performing Actions. Dangit. Kratus leaps from the corpses of dead Berzerkers to latch onto the Knight's carapace. With the help of the Wrath of the Chosen (+1 to hit with Terminators or Chosen) and Stoke the Nails (puts the unit into Wanton Slaughter) stratagems, as well as his various abilities, Kratus drives his chainfist repeatedly into the Knight's body. Inflicting an impressive 27 damage, Kratus manages to rupture the fuel cells of Prince Arthur's mighty steed, causing a catastrophic explosion that kills several Cultists and wounds the Chaos Lord. Seeking retribution for the demise of their Warlord, the two Armigers in reserve start racing towards Kratus. Six cultists (and a couple of Berzerkers on my left) are slain by the Knights' firepower. Wading into the Cultist mob, the Armigers make short work of the mortals and their remains are sprayed onto the walls of the nearby ruins and silo, leaving Kratus decidedly vulnerable. In my second turn, Thrax and his Berzerkers stream in from Strategic Reserve, taking advantage of the ability to set up closer to the enemy if you arrive close to your own table edge. Thrax's aim with his combi-melta is uncanny, scoring a direct hit on one of the Armigers and stripping six wounds off it. Elsewhere, Bardûl wanders onto the table near my opponent's deployment zone, ready to wander in on the last turn to earn some endgame VPs if things go badly. Meanwhile, Gorm's Berzerkers stalk through the ruins, hoping for a long charge on the Armigers to help out the Chaos Lord. Unfortunately, everyone except Kratus fails their charges. I guess it's down to the Hand of Khorne, now! Kratus has an impressive nine attacks on the charge, so I allocate three to the wounded Armiger and six to the other. Using the Wrath of the Chosen and Stoke the Nails stratagems again, he gains an absurd number of attacks from exploding 6s, but even so he barely finishes off the wounded Armiger and, with a lucky Command Re-roll to wound, he destroys the unwounded Armiger. Unfortunately, Kratus's luck can't last forever. The last Armiger sidesteps the ruin and unloads his autocannons into the Chaos Lord, who fails two of his 2+ saves, so even a Command Re-roll wouldn't help. High-impact, explosive rounds tear into Kratus and he crashes to the ground, ending his rampage. In my third turn, Thrax and all the Berzerkers hurl themselves at the last Armiger, eager for the kill. In the Knights' fourth turn, he knocks out a couple more Berzerkers from Gorm's squad, but the writing is definitely on the wall. Thrax and Validon's Berzerker squad pack into the last Armiger, with Thrax severely damaging the machine (seriously, I can't seem to roll 6s to save my life with Gorefather), and it is easily dismantled by the Berzerkers. What a brutal game. I made one mistake in sending my one Berzerker squad that can't perform Actions after some objectives that require Actions, but other than that things went unbelievably well, and probably need to start screening Berzerkers with Cultists to prevent them from getting charged so easily. I also kept forgetting to use the Skulls for the Skull Throne stratagem, since all of the Knights were Characters. But I think that would've just been rubbing salt in the wound at that point! Result: 50-10 victory Kratus's Personal Glory: 1 -> 7Khorne's Dark God Glory: 6 -> 5Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 7 I only gain four Chaos Points for the victory, but with Kratus killing the enemy Warlord and two more characters/vehicles, he gains another three Personal Glory points. I put another three Chaos Points from the victory into Kratus's Personal Glory (I think he deserved it!), catapulting him from being Forsaken to being Favoured! Evidently, his followers were impressed by his showing in this game. Unfortunately, Kratus does fail his Out of Action test, and it turns out that one of his legs was turned into a pulpy mess by a hail of mass-reactive rounds. His body has not yet accepted the crude bionic replacement, giving him the Lost Leg battle scar (-1Mv, -1 to Advance and Charge rolls). Oof. However, he gained a whopping 8XP from the Eye of the Gods agenda, and a further 4XP (and 2 Righteous Inspiration points) from the Instrument of Vengeance agenda, plus he killed three units and was Marked for Glory for a total of 17XP (including the one for fighting a battle). And this is the part I've all been waiting for: Kratus finally levelled up to Heroic rank, giving him another chance to roll on the Chaos Boons table. He already has serpentine fangs (13) and a scorpion's tail (21), and if I roll either of those two results again he gets to join Bardûl in the ranks of spawndom. I roll the Chaos Boon - and get 23. Warp Stalker (reroll Advance and Charge rolls). My heart skipped a beat on the first D3 roll, but that result was a very good one, and partially offsets the Lost Leg battle scar. Kratus is now at 47XP, so levelling up to Legendary rank is realistically only a couple of games away. And who knows what awaits him when he does...
  16. In today's episode of "What Painted Thing Will Cheex Redo Next?", we have an older eBay rescue that I had already rescued, but wanted to rescue again: Thrax Gorechosen, the Exalted Champion of the Gorefather! This model is a kitbash of many models together. The base model is the current Exalted Champion (formerly the "Aspiring Champion" from Dark Vengeance), with a head from the AoS Skullreapers/Wrathmongers kit, arms from the AoS Blood Warriors kit, backpack from an old metal Chaos Lord, and an axe head made from the Skullreapers daemon axe and a Cataphractii Terminator chainaxe. This guy just wasn't doing it for me, though. The axe looks nothing like Gorefather, the helmet - although grand - doesn't fit my vision of this guy, and the backpack's tassles are swinging the wrong way for his momentum. The whole thing just felt off. But what to do about it? After rummaging through my bits box, I found the model's original backpack. It's a little understated, but at least it has the combi-melta that the Exalted Champion comes with as standard now, so he can start being WYSIWYG again. But I wasn't happy with the assortment of heads and chainaxes. However, after hunting around for some good STLs, I found an excellent (if a touch expensive) set of heads with the Butcher's Nails, and then also found a great rendition of Gorefather. A few hours of printing, curing and painting later, and Thrax's facelift was complete! I also took the opportunity to also improve the painting of the skin on the exposed arm, keeping the same dusky tone but with better blending on the shadows. Weirdly, the shading on the skin and on the metals seems to have been washed out a bit by the lights, but I'm pretty happy with the model. I also darkened the blood pools on his base a little to better match the rest of my army. Aside from a bit of resolution-related stepping on the axe (had I printed it at a better angle I would've avoided that!), the print turned out really well, especially for just a 2k printer. I might have another go at the axe another day, but for now it's fine.
  17. Or: Maybe Don't Choose To Go Second Against Custodes Next Time 16 September, 2022 After being surrounded by the foul xenos forces, the World Eaters only manage to fall back thanks to the enemy armies' preoccupation with each other. Returning in force and hoping to catch these enemies off-guard, the Cruentes are surprised to not see Necrons or xenos mutants, but instead the transhuman might of the Adeptus Custodes. After the last battle, I used the Repair and Recuperate requisition to remove the battle scar from the Terminators. Kratus and Baruda lead the force, consisting of Murdax's Red Butchers, all three Berzerker squads led by Validon, Dreior and Gorm, a big mob of Cultists, Xarian the Helbrute and Bardûl the Spawn. In this mission, there are six objective markers in No Man's Land, which players must perform "loot" actions on to score VPs. Each objective can be looted three times in total before being removed. I choose the agendas Blasphemous Ritual (perform an action in the centre for XP and Chaos God Glory), Instrument of Vengeance (a Path of the Righteous agenda to kill characters) and Reaper (unit that kills the most gets bonus XP). I win the roll-off for first turn, and decide that I want to go second, to draw the enemy forward or something. It sounded like a good idea at the time. At the top of the first battle round, I spend a few CPs on Apoplectic Frenzy to rush the Red Butchers, Cultists and two Berzerker squads forward. The Berzerkers on my left flank rage forward but somehow maintain the wherewithal to take cover. The Cultists move into a position to capture an objective on my first turn, while the Terminators look all menacing in the middle. And finally, the Berzerkers on the right start shuffling around a piece of terrain. Why didn't I Frenzy the other Berzerker squad, you ask? You know, the one in a perfect position to nab an objective on turn 1? Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader. In my opponent's first turn, things move up and start shooting. I quickly realise that I should've taken the first turn, if only to get Illusory Supplication off on the Apostle. Thankfully, my dice are extremely hot - who knew that frenzied Berzerkers would be so situationally-aware that they could make so many saves in cover! A few Terminators are, however, blasted off the table. Remind me again why I chose to go second? In response, everything surges forward in a great, red tide. Terminators begin a mission action in the centre of the table, while Baruda sings them a nice prayer. I didn't want to risk failing the dice roll, so I quite happily used the Fell Prayers stratagem to guarantee it. On the left-centre, the Cultists also begin the mission action on an objective. Near them, some Berzerkers Advance to cover. Not sure why I didn't Frenzy them at the start, since it would've meant that they could do the mission action now...but I digress. Past Cheex is not best Cheex. On my right, Berzerkers file forwards, while Xarian opens up on the Custodes with jump packs (I forget their name). Xarian gets a little too trigger happy, rolling two shots and landing both a 1 and a 6 - thanks to Wanton Destruction, the 6 turns into two hits but the 1 still causes a mortal wound. In my opponent's turn, some fancy bolters kill several Berzerkers out on the left flank, a pile of Cultists are turned to mist, and a couple more Terminators are killed. Many Terminators are saved by the Illusory Supplication, though - against an army that relies on a small number of high-quality shots, nearly halving their ability to shoot is extremely useful. I seem to be missing some photos of my second turn, but simply: Terminators continue moving forward, this time enacting the Blasphemous Ritual on the centre of the table. Baruda again uses Fell Prayers to automatically succeed in using Illusory Supplication on them. On the right, my Berzerkers charge and massacre some Sisters of Silence who were on an objective, while the remnant Berzerkers on the left attempt to charge some bolter-wielding Custodes. Unfortunately, Tanglefoot Grenades root them to the spot (reduced my charge range by a whopping 6"!). On my opponent's turn, he decides he's had enough of the Dark Apostle's shenanigans and sends a Shield Captain over to assassinate him. Meanwhile, more jetbikers head off to intercept the Berzerkers on my right, and a couple of Terminators are killed. The Berzerkers on my left, out in the open from their failed charge, are mercilessly cut down, with four dying to shooting. The few that are left are easily mopped up in melee. Yeah, this turn isn't looking good. On the right, the Berzerkers there are skewered by the jetbike charge. The only glimmer of hope this round is Baruda, whose loyal disciples are cut down while the Apostle himself is merely wounded. In return, he lands a successful hit on the Captain. In my turn, I remember that Baruda has the Mantle of Traitors relic, so he can use the Fell Prayers stratagem once for free. He beseeches his daemonic patrons to splinter reality around the Red Butchers once more, while he turns his attention back to the Captain. Sensing an opportunity for a gory kill, Kratus steps up to claim a worthy skull for Khorne. Xarian stomps forward to handle the jetbikes on the right flank. Meanwhile, the Cultists keep chanting "wE cAptOrEd iT fOr ChAyOssS" into their vox for some reason. They've just been quietly earning me VPs all game, bless their hearts. I've got some good charges lined up, which would give me the opportunity to stay in the game. If I can clear out a few of these enemy units, I'll be able to stay ahead on VPs and potentially win the game. Unfortunately, the dice gods would not agree. Tanglefoot Grenades yet again ruin my day, dropping the Terminator charge by 6" again (my opponent profusely apologised for rolling a 6 twice with that stratagem!). They end up failing their charge, even with a reroll. Even more unfortunately, this leaves his Allarus Captain free to use his own relic, which allows him to perform a Heroic Intervention to anywhere on the table. He chooses to go after Kratus. Had this not happened, I would've activated Xarian first to kill the jetbikes on my right, trusting that I could weather the attacks from one captain. But with two captains squaring off against my characters in the centre, I opt to activate Kratus first. He splits his attacks between the two captains (first mistake). The jetbike captain makes enough Invulnerable saves to barely survive, while the Allarus captain uses Transhuman Physiology to absorb the rest of the attacks. Of course, the jetbikes then interrupt combat and demolish poor Xarian, and a string of bad saves means that both my characters die. From there, my opponent simply had to mop up the rest of my Terminators and Cultists to win the battle. Result: 25-45 loss Kratus's Personal Glory: 2 -> 1Khorne's Dark God Glory: 6 -> 6Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 7 Oof, what an unfortunate series of events. My opponent played his stratagems well, twice using Tanglefoot Grenades to severely hamper key charges, but that last Hail Mary charge just fell apart spectacularly. Kratus's Personal Glory suffered again after that disastrous mishap, while the Blasphemous Ritual and my paltry 1 Chaos Point kept my Dark God and Warfleet glory at their previous levels. Thankfully, no rivals tried to challenge Kratus still. Gorm's Berzerkers gained the Battle-weary battle scar, while Bardûl lost 1XP from a Devastating Blow. I made a few key mistakes in this game again, particularly with regard to going first and not Frenzying my third Berzerker squad. They would've been able to nab another objective early on, while benefiting from cover. I also should've kept Baruda better covered, rather than letting a jetbike character charge him. I also failed a few key rolls, especially the Terminator charge in the middle. Had they succeeded, they probably would've killed the Allarus Captain while Kratus killed the Jetbike Captain and the Helbrute killed at least one or two of the jetbikes. No units gained a rank in this game, but I did make Kratus Marked for Glory (though in hindsight shouldn't have bothered, given his performance!), which put him just 1XP behind reaching Heroic rank...
  18. Or: The One Where I Realised Rhinos Kinda Suck When Forced to Use Strategic Reserves 16 September, 2022 As forces from all factions present on Janus trickle into the Hive Secundus, more engagements break out. The indomitable Necron advance pursues the regrouping World Eaters, however sensors on both sides start pinging with the presence of new enemies... Kratus and his lieutenant, Thrax the Exalted Champion, lead Dreior's Berzerkers and Gorm's Berzerkers, backed by Bardûl the Helbrute and Xarian the Spawn. Two Rhinos are seconded to transport the Berzerkers. In this mission, players are required to keep half of their force (in PL value) in Strategic Reserves, or otherwise deployed elsewhere. Players score VPs by killing things, killing things with Reinforcement units, and killing things in the enemy deployment zone with Reinforcement units, as forces attempt to encircle each other. Per the current campaign rules, each player sets up an objective marker to represent supply caches, which will give players free uses of certain Requisitions. Starting on the board is just one Rhino filled with Berzerkers and the Exalted Champion, and the Dreadnought. Kratus is in Warp Strike, while everything else is in Strategic Reserves. Not wanting to repeat the events of last game, I don't invest much into getting first in the Turn Order. Necrons go first, followed by the GSC, then the World Eaters. Surprisingly, the Necrons choose the central deployment zone. I set up my one Rhino and Dreadnought behind cover. The Necrons set up very cagey, with just some Praetorians behind the central refinery and some Immortals and Annihilation Barge behind the ruin in their deployment zone (ignore the models sitting off to the side). The GSC, of course, are nothing but blips on the auspex. The Necrons move up to take position behind the pipeways, while the Annihilation Barge zaps a few wounds off my Rhino. I move Xarian out of cover to try and plink some shots off at the Barge, to no effect. The Rhino trundles forward, urged on by the bloodthirsty maniacs in its troop hold. The GSC player does his usual shenanigans. Some stuff flings forward to take up positions around supply caches, other things prepare for future assaults. The Patriarch himself holds back, confident in his amazing threat range. In the second battle round, the Necrons get lucky and blast apart the Rhino, killing three(!). Many more Necrons filter onto the battlefield and begin to plink away at the Genestealer Cultists. In my turn, Bardûl arrives on my right flank, getting a long charge on the Plasmancer out in the open. And he proceeds to eat the rather un-nutritious Necron, before piling into the Barge to tie it up. Thrax and Gorm's Berzerkers charge some Skorpekh Destroyers, hoping to draw in the Skorpekh Lord in a Heroic Intervention, but the enemy declines. Ah well. Berzerkers annihilate the Destroyers. I also move up my Rhino from Reserves, preparing the Berzerkers inside to charge in the following turn. Kratus opts to wait in the Warp for one more turn. In the Necrons' turn, return fire from various units knock out three Berzerkers, leaving only Gorm and an injured Thrax still standing. The Skorpekh Lord charges Thrax and Gorm, killing Gorm. Thrax barely survives with a miraculous save (6+ to save, decided to waste a CP on the reroll but it succeeded!). Thrax, unfortunately, fails to land any meaningful hits back. I go fishing for 6s to wound (to trigger both Gorefather and the Flames of Spite WLT), but despite landing several hits and having full rerolls to wound, he rolls not a single 6 to wound. The few normal wounds that go through are saved. Blast. Elsewhere, the sneaky Genestealers continue their domination of the field, nabbing some more supply caches and threatening my flank and rear. Xarian's Dreadnought body suffers some damage from massed promethium from the cultists, while the demolition charges of the bikers succeed in wrecking the Rhino and killing a Berzerker. I forgot to take a photo of the ensuing charge, but the bikes opt to go after the Helbrute, knocking him down to just a single wound. In return, Xarian pummels three of the bikers and causes the last one to flee. Meanwhile, a small unit of Genestealers hits the Necron brick wall and discovers just how resilient they are. Several warriors die, but the melee would grind on for most of the game. In multiplayer games, the Fight phase is resolved in Turn Order, which unfortunately means that the Skorpekh Lord is able to drag down the Exalted Champion. I forgot to take photos in my turn, but with little left in my army I decide to go for some long charges. Kratus and the Berzerkers angle after the Genestealers, hoping to wipe them out before they could rip me to pieces...but both units fail their charges, even with Kratus getting a reroll. That's less than ideal. Xarian shoots something and whiffs (of course) and charges the cultists, only managing to kill a few. The Genestealers and Big Daddy himself swing around to meet Kratus and the Berzerkers head on. Meanwhile, the rock grinders make short work of the poor Dreadnought. The Genestealer and Patriarch charge ends more or less how you would expect, with everything in red dead. With the last World Eaters swept off the field and sent packing, the Genestealers round on the Necrons, but with the way scoring works in this mission, the two xenos forces are drawn in points. Result: Cruentes 20 - GSC 40 - Necrons 40 Kratus's Personal Glory: 3 -> 2Khorne's Dark God Glory: 7 -> 6Cruentes' Warfleet Glory: 7 -> 7 With this rather disappointing display, Kratus's leadership is starting to be called into question, and he is lucky to even make it off this battlefield alive. With such a low Personal Glory score, he risks an attempted leadership coup, but thankfully his champions are quiet for now. Thrax gains the Loss of Reputation battle scar, reducing the range of his auras. However, I decide to mark him for greatness for his epic luck at saving (gotta give it to someone, right?), and he gains a rank. Faced with the frustration of being bested in single combat, Thrax exhorts the empyrean for strength...and is answered by a shadowy benefactor. He gains the Sigil of the Shadowlord Crusade Relic, granting him a much-needed invulnerable save and a 4+ FNP against mortal wounds. Bardûl also ranks up, gaining the Fleet of Foot battle trait, making him much faster. Since I was last in the turn order (and was trailing badly in points for the whole game), under the Catastrophe mission pack rules, I gained a bunch of Underdog points. None of them would've helped me during the game, but I'm able to spend three on gaining an extra Marked for Greatness, which I add to Dreior's Berzerkers. Finally, my Warfleet Favour finally pays off. Shortly after the battle, Dreior and his Berzerkers lead a successful fleet raid, earning him the trust of his Lord. Dreior's Berzerkers also gain the Trusted Hounds battle trait, allowing them to benefit from the aura of one of my characters from anywhere on the battlefield as a Command Phase ability.
  19. No battles this week, but lots of hobby progress! I've mentioned before that some of the models in this force are very, very old. Remaking these classic models has been on my To Do list for a long time, and the release of the Chaos Space Marine Chosen box as a standalone kit gave me the impetus to finally dive into it. Validon Validon's original model was based on the metal Khârn the Betrayer - I had received multiples of the model in a trade about 16+ years ago, so just had to convert one into a unit champion (of course). As the years went on, he received numerous additions and updates, including numerous coats of paint to "fix" his old paintjob, and a chainsword in 8th edition when dual-wielding became a thing. Last year, I received another plastic Khârn in a trade. I already had a plastic Khârn painted, so I immediately knew how I wanted to use the second one: as an update to Validon's classic model. One of my goals with these model updates was to make sure I retained enough details to keep the individual recognisable, as if the updated model was a plausible evolution of the character itself. For Validon, other than retaining Khârn's basic design features, I added a three-pronged spike from the Chosen box (with pennants rotated around to match his movement) to his backpack and a head from one of the AoS Slaughterpriest models to approximate his old helmet's design. Dreior Dreior's original model was an attempt by my to make a "modern" Chaos Marine out of spare parts before the updated CSM kit was released, using an AoS Blood Warrior head, Raptor power fist and DV Chosen backpack. Honestly, the less said about the old model, the better! For his new incarnation, I wanted to retain that right-handed power fist - which, unfortunately, is a bit of a rare configuration. Thankfully, the new Chaos Terminator kit has a right-handed power fist, and (with a suitable arm) it's pretty perfectly scaled to put on a power-armoured body. I decided to give him a plasma pistol instead of his old FW combi-plasma, though I ran into a similar problem: not very many left-handed pistols in the Chaos range. Thankfully, I had a (rather beaten up) Kranon the Relentless model kicking about that was perfect. I also decided against giving him a bare head (which was the original plan) and gave him a 3D printed helmet instead. Gorm Another ancient model from early on in my collection, maybe even one of my first conversions. Gorm was originally built from a Berzerker with a CSM power fist (with the pointing finger repositioned) and a chainglaive built with an old Chaos Marauder arm and Berzerker chainsword. I knew the new model needed to have a similar running pose, and a power fist loosely gripping a chainglaive. This was accomplished using the new two-handed chainaxe arms from the CSM Legionary kit, with the chainaxe head replaced with a chainsword, and a power fist from the Chosen kit. The power fist was very tricky to do: I had to remove the daemonic face from its palm, just the power fist from the elbow, and even repositioned the thumb, before sticking it onto a different arm. The only thing I'm a little annoyed about was that I didn't pay attention to Gorm's original skin tone, but let's just chalk that up him running out of tanning lotion since the Heresy. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how these three guys turned out. The old models were bothering me but the characters had quite a lot of history in my lore, so when I saw the Chosen kit I knew I had an opportunity to give them the update they deserved. That kit is an absolute goldmine of some extremely cool bits (as well as some...rather derpy bits), and I thoroughly recommend it for conversion fodder!
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