Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Tyranid Experience

On Monday night I played my first non-Space Marine army. Recently I realized that I should have just about everything I want to put into my Ultramarines army within less than a year (it will take me much longer than that to paint it, though). I am therefore looking for my next army and want to try out different kinds before I spend a significant amount of money.

I specifically chose to play Tyranids since I had never played with a horde army nor had I ever used a monstrous creature. My experience was... poor. Bryce's previous post pretty much sums up my experience. Even before the game I had a strong feeling that Bryce's Imperial Guard would wipe me out. This past summer, with only a couple months experience, I was able to fare relatively well against a Tyranid army that was similar in composition to the one I used last night.

Stupid bugs

I took away the following from the game:

1.) Space Marines are awesome. The worst armor save in the army is a 4+, for heaven's sake. Only the more elite Tyranid units have a 4+ or better save. Neophyte Marines still have strength 4 and toughness 4. Marines may fall back, but they never run away (unlike those stupid Hormagaunts). Heavy weapons aren't limited to heavy units or HQs; a lowly Space Marine in the basic ten man Tactical Squad can cheaply carry a lascannon and a five man Scout Squad can carry a heavy bolter or missile launcher for a few points.

As I watched my Hormagaunts and Termagants get wiped from the board by weapons that plink off Space Marine armor, and when my entire Warrior Brood was instantly killed by a Manticore's strength 10 AP4 Storm Eagle rockets, I found myself greatly missing my 3+ saves.

2.) Let me get this straight: I have a 205 point monstrous creature who only has a 3+ armor save, no invulnerable save, is very difficult to hide in cover, and can always be picked out as a separate target even if it joins another group? It has a high strength weapon (a Heavy Venom Cannon) but it's a small blast template weapon that is more likely to drift off target than to hit anything? Why am I paying so much for this thing again? Sure the thing's a bear in close combat, but what does it matter when it's forced to march across the board in the face of Krak missiles, lascannons, etc.? Its toughness 6 sounds great, but just like a power-armored Marine the creature will be wounded on a 2+ by any weapon with a strength of 8 or higher. Bryce has generously distributed such weapons throughout his Guard army.

Space Marine HQs, on the other hand, can all be mixed in with another squad (hello meat shield!). Except for Librarians, Space Marine HQs have an Iron Halo (Captains and Chapter Masters) or a Rosarius (Chaplains) that confers a 4+ invulnerable save. Granted most of them only have toughness 4 and can therefore be instantly killed by strength 8+ weapons if they fail a save, but then again unnamed Marine HQs usually cost about half as much as a Hive Tyrant. For only 125 points my Ultramarines can field Chaplain Cassius. Not only does he have a 3+ armor save and a 4+ invulnerable save, but he also has toughness 6 and the Feel No Pain special rule. And his Hellfire rounds will wound anything on a 2+. I'm pretty sure that Cassius would have gotten across the table that night when my Hive Tyrant couldn't. Or, if you have points to spare, you can spend 265 points to field Marneus Calgar; the Ultramarine's answer to the monstrous creature (more on this in a future post).

3.) Monstrous creatures don't really replace armored vehicles. Unless they can shoot directly at the rear of the vehicle, the standard weapons (lasguns, bolters, shootas, etc.) of the troops of most armies won't even go through the armor of a Rhino, let alone that of a Land Raider. However, toughness 6 Hive Tyrants and Carnifexes can be wounded even by a lowly lasgun on a roll of 6. When you have dozens of Guard firing at a Hive Tyrant, the odds are pretty good that a few sixes are going to be rolled. The high point of one of my early games was when a crippled Predator with only a storm bolter still operational finished off a Carnifex.

Additionally, a standard vehicle is guaranteed 12" of movement through clear terrain. It may not be able to fire any of its weapons, but at least you know it can move a certain distance. If a monstrous creature runs, it's a gamble whether it will move only 7", can go a full 12", or is limited to something in between.

If Chaos Daemons can manage to produce a vehicle (the Soul Grinder), then the space-faring Tyranids should be able to make a vehicle.

4.) I will definitely not be doing a horde army after I finish the Ultramarines. Not only am I too slow at painting to complete so many models in a reasonable time, but I just don't have the patience to set up and move dozens upon dozens of figures. A lot of time and care had to go into making sure that I spread the models out as much as possible to reduce the effectiveness of blast templates, which the Imperial Guard has in spades.

More and more it looks like my next army will be some sort of Marine equivalent. I'll be giving Chaos Space Marines/Chaos Legions a close look when their new codex comes out.

Favorite Past Time

One of our group's favorite past times is to comment on my female commissar's... um.. well... let's just say "Huge Tracts of Land" to quote Monty Python. I painted her to reflect these tracts and I hope I did them justice (see her above).

A female political officer in the Soviet Army was called a Kommissarka, so that is usually what we call her. The model has a special place in my army because she single handedly held out in combat with a Space Marine captain for two turns while a Sentinel exploded next to her (by a big spooty Ork Warboss, which by the way the explosion killed the Warboss and wounded the Space Marine captain). The model was one of the more expensive additions to the army because it was a very limited special gamesday release in 1998. I think the following propaganda poster sums up the attitude she carries for my army.

It is total coincidence that my figure is painted in the same color scheme as the poster, but it makes the illustration even better.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Game so Horrible it's Noteworthy.

Gamers have been ranting about the 5th edition Tyranids since their release and James learned their shortcomings first hand last night. I won't go into great detail about the game (it's just to atrocious to speak in depth about; let's just say that the IG won the 1000 point game with 900 points still on the table). I have contemplated the oversights of the 5th edition Tyranids and here are my thoughts:

1.) Poor/few HQ choices. In lower point games it would be nice to have a balanced, low-point HQ choice that can be armed with long range weapon and close combat armament (maybe the Hive Tyrant just needs to be lower in cost).

2.) Lack of armor saves and invulnerable saves. It costs a Hive Tyrant 40 additional points to give him a 2+ save and he still doesn't have an invulnerable. The only two units in the entire army that have invulnerable saves are Zoanthropes and Swarmlords in close combat. Without tank armor I feel that more creatures should have better resilience.

3.) Drifting small blast template rule has DESTROYED Tyranids' ability to engage in any sort of heavy long-range combat. The only gun in the army of which more than one can be fielded is the Heavy Venom Cannon, which now drifts. James sadly felt the poor statistics of these weapons during the game. With a Hive Tryant and a Carnifex shooting the Heavy Venom Cannons for three turns, only two landed and he only scored one crew shaken result on a Manticore.

4.) Synapse is now almost worthless. That's all I have to say about that.

5.) Monstrous creatures are too slow. When a player is banking on the strength of a close combat creature that can only move a 6" + random d6 run per turn, the enemy can easily stay out of close combat for three turns if he/she is savvy enough.

In conclusion, I am an old Tyranid player and actually enjoyed the army, but I will wait until 6th edition Codex is released before I will ever take them as a seriously competitive army again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Orks vs. Space Marines, Part II: Revenge of the Ultramarines

[See Part I of this series]

Last Time: Destroyed or damaged vehicles littered the landscape while the Green horde fell on the beleaguered Space Marines...

The Game: Continued
To the Last Man
The Nob and the Boyz used their cover effectively to approach the Devastator Squad and fell on them with a vengeance. One by one the Marines were lost to the Ork's superior troop numbers and greater number of attacks. However, the last Marine must have been swinging his missile launcher like a man possessed. With each turn he would successfully land a hit, and each hit would result in a dead Ork. Rarely have I successfully rolled so many 4+'s in a row. The Orks' attacks would either fail to hit, fail to wound, or would be negated by an armor save. Eventually I lost the Marine, but not before he took out several Boyz. By the end, that mob had been so reduced that it ceased to be a threat.

Timely Assistance and the Shooting Gallery
Around the time that my HQ was lost (instantly killed by Warboss #2's power klaw when the Captain rolled three successful Iron Halo saves but failed one), and while the lone Marine in the Devastator squad was putting up a good fight, the Terminators' reserve roll succeeded and they came in with storm bolters and assault cannon blazing. As I had intended, the Terminators entered on Jon's side and were ideally located. After taking out the last of the DeffKoptas, the Terminators then turned on the Warboss and the 'Ard Boyz. Jon suddenly realized that the bulk of his army was trapped in a shooting gallery since any attempt to approach the Terminators would put them in the arc of fire of both the immobilized Vindicator and the Venerable Dreadnought.

"Did somebody call for backup?"

Warboss #2 destroyed the Vindicator to eliminate one threat, but the tank exploded, the explosion extended 6 inches, and yet another 'Ard Boy was killed. The Venerable Dreadnought was more than 12 inches away and represented a significant march in the face of the Terminators' fire. Jon therefore ignored the Dreadnought and tried to make a run for my remaining troops, but after we saw the slaughter caused by the combined fire of four storm bolters and two assault cannons (and noted that it was well past midnight), we decided to call the game. The Marines were left with 230 points of Terminators and an immobilized Venerable Dreadnought (normally 175 points with an assault cannon; I don't know how much an immobilized vehicle is worth). The Orks were left with a 100 point Warboss and a bit less than 100 points of Boyz and 'Ard Boyz. Although it's likely that the Marines would have eventually wiped out the remaining Orks, it probably would have been done with the loss of at least a couple Terminators. The game was an absolute bloodbath with no clear winner... which is exactly how our little cabal likes them.

The Shooting Gallery

Game MVP
For a sheer points cost to points killed ratio, it was definitely Warboss #2 (~100 points). After killing the Dreadnought (105 points), Warboss #2 killed a full strength Captain (115 points). He then destroyed the immobilized Vastator (115 points). That's a kill ratio of 3.35 points killed per points paid. This number doesn't even include the Tactical Marines killed during the fighting. By the time we finally called the game, the Warboss still had two wounds remaining.

The Turning Point
The Terminators couldn't have come in at a better time. By that time nearly all other Marines had been killed or were in losing combats, a Dreadnought had been wrecked, and the remaining armor was effectively useless while they where immobilized and their guns were pointed the wrong way. Not only did the Terminators bring in some much needed firepower, but by deep striking them into an area covered by the Vindicator's and Venerable Dreadnought's arcs of fire, the damaged vehicles suddenly became useful again.

Lessons Learned
Much of the composition of my army was dictated by the models I had available and were obviously inappropriate for fighting a horde. Dreadnoughts can be effective Ork killers, but not with a multi-melta. The Venerable Dreadnought's assault cannon was murderous and would have been more effective if the walker hadn't been immobilized.

Similarly, four missile launchers can be very effective against light or medium armor, but make mediocre anti-infantry weapons. However, a Devastator Squad with heavy bolters (150 points) would put out twelve shots per turn that would ignore almost any Ork's armor. Or, given that a Devastator Squad can be overrun and eventually destroyed by even non-upgraded Boyz, a better choice may be a Predator with an autocannon, heavy bolter sponsons, and a storm bolter (95 points). This could fire up to ten shots per turn (two strength 7, six strength 5, and two strength 4), eight of which would ignore most Ork armor, while being resistant to being overrun by hordes. Throw in Sergeant Chronus for a total of 165 points and you can get a Predator that ignores stunned and shaken results while firing all those shots with a BS of 5.

Next time, bring a relic blade. In close combat you can only hope to bring down a Warboss with something mean. A Space Marine Captain can be pretty darn mean, but he has to be able to do some damage to a power klaw-wielding Warboss before the Ork can strike back. Although the Captain is pretty likely to inflict two or three hits due to his high WS, at strength 4 a Captain has to roll pretty high to wound a toughness 5 Warboss. In previous games I've given my Captain a relic blade (which hits with strength 6) and have taken down Hive Tyrants with it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Orks vs. Space Marines, Part I: Attack of the Greenskins

On Thursday night Jonathan (i.e., the Ork Player) and I played our first game without Bryce. This meant, of course, that the game ran an extra hour since our walking Codex was not available and we had to spend much of the night flipping through the rule book.

The Armies
I've commented before that I've never had much luck playing lower points games. And I knew that in a 500 point game, a single mob of Nobz would probably squash anything I could throw at them. Therefore, I pulled together an 1100 point list that included a Space Marine Captain with a power sword, two five-man Tactical Squads, a Terminator Squad with an assault cannon, a five-man Devastator squad with four missile launchers, a Dreadnought with a multi-melta, a Venerable Dreadnought with an assault cannon, and my beloved Vindicator, Vastator.

Space Marine initial setup; the Terminators are in reserve

Jon was able to reach 1100 points by using every assembled model he had and by upgrading almost every unit he could. He brought two Warbosses with power klaws and 'eavy armour, three DeffKoptas, a mob of ten Nobz with 'eavy armour, a mob of thirty 'Ard Boyz, and another mob with nine Boyz and a Nob. Although concerned about the amount of armor he'd be facing, I assured him that he had plenty of armor-killing power between his Warbosses and DeffKoptas.

As usual, the Orks greatly outnumber the Marines

The Setup
Both of us are still novices, so our strategies (such as they are) are pretty basic. Jon put one Warboss (Warboss #1) in with the Nobz and the other (Warboss #2) with the 'Ard Boyz. Jon's philosophy is that shooting is for armies with an average BS higher than 2, so he ran as much as possible. The DeffKoptas quickly swooped in and tried desperately to destroy my armor.

I had placed the Devastators off in my right corner in an attempt to delay the inevitable swarming. The Vindicator held the center while the Dreadnoughts covered the flanks. The Tactical Squads stuck close to the Dreadnoughts. Jon's Nobz and Warboss have disassembled my Terminators in close combat in the past, so I decided not to let them get trapped with the rest of my forces on my table edge. Instead, I held them in reserve with the intention of deep striking them behind Jon's lines.

I don't have any real scenery yet. The walls
and trees are from a Little People Nativity set.

The Game
A Bad Start for the Greenskins
As expected, the outlook was dark for the Orks early on. My wife, who has no interest in playing but finds our enthusiasm entertaining and will occasionally watch a turn or two, expected a complete rout. At first the DeffKoptas either couldn't hit or couldn't roll high enough to damage my armor. While my Vindicator had little impact during the first turn, things were very different in turn two. By then, Jon's Nobz, along with Warboss #1, were forced into a tight group while passing between two obstacles. Vastator hit the mob dead in the center, instantly killing nine of the ten Nobz. With that single shot, the Vindicator (115 points) killed about 270 points of Nobz (kill ratio of 2.35) and removed them as a threat. The Captain and the rest of his squad eventually finished off Warboss #1 and the remaining Nob. I reminded both my wife and Jon that the game wasn't over yet; the Orks had yet to really get into close combat.

In the meantime, Warboss #2 and the 'Ard Boyz swarmed the multi-melta Dreadnought. Obviously a multi-melta is worthless against a horde, but that's what I have available until I enlarge my army a bit more. The Dreadnought made a valiant effort, but it was quickly wrecked by Warboss #2. The Devastators fired Krak missiles against the DeffKoptas (and brought one down eventually, despite Jon's frequently successful cover saves) and hit the Boyz with frag missiles. Quite a few of the Boyz were saved by cover.

Eventually, the DeffKoptas were able to immobilize the Vindicator and the Venerable Dreadnought, both of which had their weapons pointed towards Jon's side of the table and were unable to get his mobs in their arc of fire. Seeing no reason to waste effort on destroying immobilized vehicles while there was still infantry to kill, Warboss #2 and the 'Ard Boyz mopped up one Tactical Squad and then attacked the Captain and his Tactical Squad while keeping themselves behind or to the side of the vehicles. In the meantime, the Boyz were quickly approaching the Devastator Squad whose Frag missiles seemed to be having very little effect. Things were looking bleak for the Astartes...

Next Time: Will the heroes of humanity fall before the Greenskin tide?

[See Part II of this series]

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventures In Undercoating, Part II

[See Part I of this series]

With my can of Testors spray enamel depleted, the Armory primer acting like spray-on sandpaper, and the Army Painter too expensive to use on anything but vehicles, I set out in search of a new undercoating spray for Sergeant Telion and my squad of Sniper Scouts. The local game and hobby stores only sell the hobbyist spray paints, which I've found to be absurdly expensive and/or unreliable. Several forums suggested using ordinary spray paints available at hardware stores or Walmart. I was attracted to the idea of Krylon's Fusion spray paint, which is specifically designed to bond with plastic. I therefore ran to Walmart and purchased a 12oz can for a mere $4.97.

Krylon Fusion
In stark contrast to my Armory experience, the Krylon spray produced a beautifully smooth coat. The can had a directional nozzle that created a line of spray instead of the usual circular spot. This allows you to better control the spray and ensures that you don't waste a lot of the paint on your cardboard / newspaper / drop cloth / etc. rather than on the models. Not only was the coat smooth, but it gave good coverage with a very thin layer. The models didn't lose any significant detail nor did the undercoat rub off with handling. The only problem was that our local Walmart only caries the gloss and satin finishes, forcing me to purchase the satin. The two Marines I tested the Fusion on looked great... and very shiny. Shiny enough that I had doubts whether or not I could easily paint over the surface. With that, I rejected my can of Krylon Fusion as an acceptable undercoat. Since the can cost me less than $5.00, I wasn't overly disappointed. I haven't given up on Krylon, though; they also make Krylon Camouflage Paint with Fusion Technology. This is effectively Fusion paint with an ultra-flat finish. Unfortunately, our Walmart only carries the brown Krylon Camouflage, so I'll have to look elsewhere.

Rust-Oleum Camouflage
Unwilling to leave empty handed when I saw that Walmart only carried the brown Krylon Camouflage, I noticed that I could get a can of ultra-flat Rust-Oleum Camouflage spray paint for $5.97. Unlike the Krylon Fusion paints, the Rust-Oleum Camouflage paint is not specifically formulated to bond to plastics, but for $5.97 I was willing to give it a try. I first tested it by giving my two ultra-shiny Ultramarines a quick spray. This took most of the satin sheen off while leaving a uniform coat. Encouraged by the results, I made a leap of faith and used the Rust-Oleum Camouflage on the Scouts. I have been very happy with the results. The coat was smooth and even, obscured little to no detail, and is extremely flat, making it very easy to paint over. Despite significant handling, none of it has rubbed off the plastic models. The pewter Sergeant Telion model requires a little more caution to prevent paint from rubbing off the edges, but I believe this is an issue with most spray paints.

I think I'll be using Rust-Oleum Camouflage spray for undercoating purposes for the time being. However, I would still like to give Krylon Camouflage a chance as soon as I can find a can of black spray. Although I doubt that the Krylon paint will be much better than the Rust-Oleum, I really liked the directional nozzle and the slightly lower price tag (yes, I'm just that cheap).

What the Other Guys are Using:
Bryce (i.e., the Imperial Guard Player) has been an Armory fan for years and is reluctant to change. He has yet to have an experience as bad as mine, although I've noticed that Armory has left the occasional rough spot on some of his figures. Between my own experience and that of posters on various 40K forums, I think I'll be leaving Armory alone. I'm simply not willing to take another chance with a company that seems to have a quality control problem.

Jonathan (i.e., the Ork Player) has undercoated his Orks with GW Chaos Black spray. The spray gave his models smooth, even coats, although I was surprised that their finish seemed to be more satin than matte. I'm not certain how easy it was for him to paint over the undercoat. As I said before, I refuse to spend $15 for a can of black spray paint. I became even more reluctant after reading several horror stories online about inconsistent quality control.

Kevin (i.e., the Dark Eldar Player) uses Krylon Dual Paint + Primer for his Lord of the Rings and Dark Eldar models. His experience with the spray has been very good. Like the Fusion cans, Dual also has a directional nozzle. Before settling on the Rust-Oleum Camouflage, I had intended to buy a can of Krylon Dual at the local Walmart. Of course, all they carry is the gloss and satin finishes. In fact, nearly all the available cans of spray paint came in only gloss or satin. Are gamers the only ones who actually want paints with a flat finish?

Adventures In Undercoating, Part I

When I first started building 40K models, I had little idea where to start. Bryce had said that I needed to prime/undercoat the models and then paint them the desired color(s) using acrylics. Although I had built model airplanes until I left for college in 1997, I had never used any sort of primer or undercoating technique. Since the polystyrene used in most model airplanes is typically an acceptable final color, I rarely painted large portions of a model. The idea of spraying the entirety of a model and then painting the whole surface was completely new to me.

Testors Spray Enamel
Although not an actual primer, I used a 3oz can of Testors flat black spray enamel ($5.19 at the local HobbyTown USA) that Bryce gave me to undercoat the Space Marines provided with the Black Reach starter set. My experience was that the paint gave decent coverage without obscuring too many details. It gave a nice matte finish that was easy to paint over. However, the coat seemed somewhat splotchy (this was mostly taken care of by two to three coats of Mordian Blue paint), and tended to rub off with some handling. The most troublesome part was the time it took to dry. I live in Idaho, so you'd think the extreme lack of humidity would have taken care of this. Instead, it took days to even be able to lightly handle the models. In the end I was forced to put them in a food dehydrator for 18-24 hours to fully cure the coat (this works great, by the way). The cost of the small 3oz can and the time needed to dry the paint turned me off to spray enamels as an undercoat.

Once the Black Reach Marines were done, I began looking for a different undercoating spray. My next model was to be a Vindicator and I wasn't looking forward to hand painting an entire vehicle. I had read somewhere that spraying The Army Painter's Ultramarine Blue color primer over a dark undercoat would closely approximate Games Workshop's Ultramarines Blue. Although I paint all my Marines Mordian Blue, my vehicles are Ultramarines Blue so there's a slight contrast between infantry and vehicles (photos of Ultramarine armies in the Space Marine codex also show a distinct difference in color). I immediately scoffed at buying GW's $15 Chaos Black spray since I had heard that it occasionally has quality control issues and because I refuse to pay $15 for a simple black paint that can be obtained from other manufacturers for a lot less. I therefore purchased a can of Armory Black Primer ($6.49 at the local games store) and a can of Army Painter Ultramarine Blue ($14.99).

Armory Primer
Unfortunately, I had a poor experience with Armory. Despite thorough shaking and nearly ideal spraying conditions, the paint gave the surface a sandpaper-like texture. Upon handling the pieces, much of the paint simply shed off like grains of sand, while the paint that did stick gave the model a horrendously rough surface. I have read of similar things happening to other modelers in several forums. I had to wash and scrub the pieces to get all the paint grit off. Once everything was dry, I sprayed the parts with the Army Painter and hoped that some of the roughness would be smoothed over with the blue paint. Of course any spray paint that would go on thick enough to hide that degree of roughness would be worthless for detailed models, so I ended up trying to scrape the roughness off with a knife edge.

The Army Painter Color Primer
As I began touching up areas with GW's Ultramarines Blue, I found that Army Painter's Ultramarine Blue is a close copy, but not so close that you can use both paints side by side without noticing the difference. The Army Painter leans more towards the green side of the spectrum whereas GW leans towards the red. Additionally, as has been noted by others, the Army Painter color primer produces a near-satin finish whereas GW paints are more matte. In the end, I had to hand paint the entire model with Ultramarines Blue. One positive that came out of this whole process was that once I had scraped the surface of the model and added several coats of sprayed and hand brushed blue paint, I had achieved a slightly rough surface that is more appropriate for a combat vehicle than the smoother surface I had originally hoped for. Now if only I can figure out how to deliberately achieve this effect...

I was reasonably pleased with the Army Painter Ultramarine Blue as an undercoat. Although Army Painter was a bit too shiny to be a final coat and didn't quite match the GW color, I was easily able to paint over it and only needed one coat of Ultramarines Blue to fully cover it. I'll probably use the remainder of the can as the undercoat for my Razorback and/or Land Raider models without bothering with a preliminary black coat. My only complaint is the price; do I really need to spend $15 to get good results? In my mind, every dollar spent on supplies is a dollar not spent on enlarging my army. I'm willing to spend the money necessary to be able to produce as good a model as I can, but it's even better if I can do so for a fraction of the price.

Next time: can a spray purchased from Walmart do a better job than the specialist stuff?

[Go to Part II of this series]

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Implacable Grey Knight Paladins

[It didn't take much effort to get Bryce to agree to contribute to the blog. In addition to some of his excellent modeling work, I hope he'll also share some of the tactics that have made him so successful (yes, I do have ulterior motives, what of it?). -James]

Last weekend the group got together for another rousing game of Warhammer 40k. The scenario; take and hold mission. Luckily I completed another gaming board so there were two games going; Dark Eldar vs. Ultramarines and Grey Knights vs. Imperial Guard. I was the poor sap who faced off against the Grey Knights (my Grey Knights by the way, a friend was borrowing the army) with my poor "deer in the head lights Steel Legion".

Turn 1 - The game did not start well, the guard just couldn't land a hit except a VERY lucky Hydra Flak Tank landing two wounds on the Dreadknight, but luckily enough the other team didn't do much either.

Turn 2 - The Grey Knights Land Raider unloaded five spooty Paladins on my command squad and they ate soylent green for dinner that round. Not to mention that Castellan Crowe and a purifier squad now held the objective.

Turn 3 - Guards Revenge. Dreadknight...dead. Land Raider...exploded. Castellan Crowe...the way of the Dodo. But now the paladins held the objective.

Turn 4 - Manticore is now out of ammunition. Down to one Sentinel, heavy bolter squad, hydra flak tank, and a Basilisk. He's got a four man Paladin squad. The question now is who will win (you might be thinking the guy with the most guns)? WRONG!

Turn 5 - The Paladins hold out, successfully making 11-2+ armour saves and 1-5+ invulnerable save and the Grey Knights pull through to win the game.

Moral of the story, never underestimate the staying power of Paladins and the uncanny ability for your foe to roll AMAZING armor saves. The Guard went home with their tails between their legs that night.

[Models by Games Workshop]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ultramarines Sniper Scouts WIP

With the exception of Bryce, our group of 40K players are all relatively new to the game and are slowly growing their armies. By necessity, our games have been low point affairs of about 500 points per army. I think it's been found by most Space Marine players that 500 points will buy you very little once you've met your HQ and troop requirements. I could easily field two five man Tactical Squads, but that would leave both squads without special or heavy weapons and make my job even harder (Bryce hates that 5th edition requires Space Marines to have ten men in order to field special and heavy weapons). For that reason, we've been playing by a house rule allowing me to bring a single ten man Tactical Squad.

Since I don't want to play by house rules for longer than necessary, I'm working on a Scout Squad with four sniper rifles and a missile launcher. Not only are five Scouts cheaper than a five man Tactical Squad, but they have the Infiltrate and Scout special rules and can carry a heavy bolter or missile launcher. I'm simultaneously working on Sergeant Telion, although I won't be using him until we start playing higher point games.

I primed Telion and the Scouts just before Thanksgiving dinner

Sergeant Telion

Sergeant Telion represents my first pewter model. With Games Workshop replacing all its pewter models with resin, I felt compelled to buy all named Ultramarine figures in metal (in part because I like the heft of a pewter model). By late October, Bryce was able to find Chief Librarian Tigurius at the local game store and picked it up for me, thus completing my pewter collection.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A New 40K Convert?

By the time I played my first game of Warhammer 40,000, Bryce had been looking for someone to play against for some time. It seems that 40K has a tendency to instill a missionary-like zeal for converting others to the game. Within a few months, Jonathan, a friend of mine with whom I walk to the bus stop and whose brother used to play both 40K and Warhammer fantasy had started to show interest. At about the same time, another coworker, Kevin, who enjoys painting the Lord of the Rings figures, also expressed interest. Soon Bryce and I were incorporating Jonathan and Kevin into our games. The best part is that neither Jonathan nor Kevin showed any interest in any of the armies that Bryce or I were playing. Kevin wanted to play Dark Eldar and Jonathan wanted to play Orks. This has led to a lot more variety in our games. In fact, the growth of our little cabal encouraged Bryce to build a new Imperial Guard army. The Imperial Guard had always been his favorite army, but with no one to play with, Bryce had sold off nearly all his figures.

This past Friday took an even more interesting turn. Bryce and I successfully convinced our boss, Carl, to participate in a game. His first game was a 500 point fight between my Ultramarines and a Tau army borrowed from Bryce. Usually my Space Marines don't have a whole lot of luck in such low point games, especially when I have few heavy weapons while the Tau are fielding three Broadside Battlesuits. Usually I'm forced to do a Pickett's Charge, in which I march the Ultramarines across the table while taking heavy fire from the Tau's guns. This is horribly costly and I rarely have any Marines left for the assault. However, this time I teleported a Terminator squad within close range of the Tau forces. Despite the strength of Carl's army, and the coaching he got from from Bryce, the Ultramarines were able to hold their own.

A Space Marine Terminator Squad: Not something
Xeno scum wants to find on its doorstep
[Models by Games Workshop]

After the first game was called, Carl's Tau and Jonathan's Orks faced off against Bryce's new Steel Legion Imperial Guard and my Ultramarines. It was a pretty evenly matched game, with the Imperial Guard and the Tau handling the long range shooting while the Space Marines and the Orks fought it out in close combat. Vastator participated in the game, although it's main gun met an untimely end from a Broadside's gun. As we often do when it gets too late at night for Bryce and I to remember the rules anymore, we finally called the game before either side was annihilated. Although the combined Space Marine and Imperial Guard forces were left with more points on the table, we had no way to counter the remaining Broadsides. Thus, we called it a draw.

It's expected for Guard and Marines to form
alliances, but I can't really see an Ork-Tau alliance
[Models by Games Workshop]

The purpose of the night's game was to introduce Carl to 40K in the hopes that he would enjoy it. We may have succeeded better than we thought we would. Our unconverted coworkers could only shake their heads when they caught the boss discussing the game with Kevin the following Monday. Even better, Carl has decided that the Tau are probably not for him, but that he's very interested in the Necrons. He's even done some research on the army. I had been thinking of playing Necrons after completing the Ultramarines, but I will gladly let a new player have dibs on the army of his choice. If Carl does indeed become our Necron player, we will have a thoroughly diverse little 40K club.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Atomic Spud's Warhammer 40K Blog

Thanks to Bryce, a coworker and good friend of mine, I've been a Warhammer 40,000 addict since May 2011. I immediately preferred Space Marines, the first army I ever played, and quickly began an army of Ultramarines. After several months of playing regularly, Bryce and I were joined in our games by two other coworkers.

I have maintained a blog, The Atomic Spud, since November 2008. The Atomic Spud has primarily been a place for movie and book reviews, political commentary, and other (hopefully) amusing anecdotes from my life. Unfortunately, the blog was quickly overrun by posts about 40K, which appeals to a smaller audience than the other material. For that reason, I've started The Atomic Spud's Warhammer 40K Blog; a more appropriate place for battle reports, army photos, and other 40K miscellanea.

Warhammer 40K-related posts that previously appeared on The Atomic Spud have been reproduced here with some slight editing. Since they were originally intended for an audience that is unfamiliar with the game, there is a lot of explanation that is unnecessary for the average 40K player. I like to think of these posts as a brief history of a rapidly developing addiction.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Warhammer 40K Model

Again I've neglected my blog [The Atomic Spud] in favor of Warhammer 40K. I finished my first figures, a squad of Tactical Marines, earlier this summer. I followed those up with a Terminator Squad and a Dreadnought walker. Now I've finally finished my first tank, of which I'm rather proud. The tank, a "Vindicator" model, carries a Demolisher cannon; the most powerful gun that the Space Marines can field. Since the dark future of 40K portrays mankind as having somehow reverted to a medieval culture that uses elements of the Latin language, I've named my Vindicator Vastator, which is Latin for "Destroyer". Yes, naming a tank "Destroyer" in Latin is the extent of my creativity.

Vastator actually participated in its first game last Saturday. It was mostly complete, although the winch holding the ridiculously large shell wasn't attached, several details weren't yet painted, and it was missing the final washes (the very thin coats that give the model its dirty look). It got off a single shot in the first turn, was stunned and unable to fire in the second, and was destroyed in the third. However, that single shot tore the heart out of Bryce's command squad. The points value of the figures killed by one shot exceeded the points value of my tank and the loss of his command squad hampered the effectiveness of his army for the rest of the game. Once that happened, anything else Vastator could have done would have been icing on the cake.

Now that I've finished the Vindicator, I intend to move on to a squad of Sniper Scouts. And I expect to make another relatively pricey order at TheWarStore later this month to add a Predator tank to my collection as well as a few other squads of infantry.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Warhammer 40K Death Match

Bryce very selfishly ran off to Hawaii with his wife last weekend, so this past Saturday marked two weeks without playing a game of 40K. However, last night we were finally able to get together for yet another round of our favorite unhealthy obsession. Saturday night's game of 40K was notable for a few reasons. First, it was our first game played at my home rather than at Bryce's. Second, it was my first game played entirely with my own figures rather than with a mix of my models supplemented by some of Bryce's. Finally, I showed that an army of standard Space Marines can take on the elite Grey Knights and make it an extremely close fight.

This time around I took the "Sir Robin" approach to the battle; i.e., I bravely ran away while shooting everything I had. Since the Grey Knights are geared towards close combat rather than a shooting fight, this approach significantly leveled the playing field. I lost by a small margin, but the game could have ended very differently if a single dice roll had resulted in a three instead of a two. My Dreadnought simply needed to score one more hit against Bryce's Dreadknight, after which it could have turned its heavy weapon against his remaining two Knights. Unfortunately, I had burned up a lot of my luck earlier in the game, the shot missed, and the Dreadnought was forced into close combat with the Dreadknight. The two Dreads duked it out and annihilated each other. Considering that his model was worth a lot more points than mine, I wasn't too sad about the outcome of that particular fight.

Dreadnought vs. Dreadknight: Grudge match of the week
[Models by Games Workshop]

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Poor, Neglected Blog

A few months ago my blog [The Atomic Spud] was averaging over 100 visits a day, thanks to Google. Well, I guess that Google's search algorithm is affected by how often you update your blog; I've since dropped to about 60 hits a day. I can only blame this on one thing: Warhammer 40,000.

Until Bryce introduced me to that infernal game (that wonderful, awesome game) I was on the Internet all the time. I actually knew what was happening in the world, I followed politics, I read b-movie reviews, and I updated my blog frequently. Now I don't even know what Republicans are running for president (not that it matters, I'd vote for him or her over Obama anyday), the list of B-Masters reviews that I need to catch up on has grown significantly, and my blog was updated only once last month (and then it was a 40K post). Netflix was the best entertainment-related thing ever during the B40K era ("Before Warhammer 40,000"). Now I've had a couple DVDs for nearly three months and I've still not watched them.

How can I not add this guy to my collection?
[Model by Games Workshop]
It's not like I'm playing the game all the time. In fact, we only play it once a week. However, since I'm actively building my army, I end up painting figures almost every night. This process takes a lot of time since I have an obsessive, perfectionist personality. I had told my wife that once my Space Marine army was built, I would have more time in the evenings. Unfortunately, 40K is addictive and Bryce and I have been talking about expanding the number of armies we have to add some variety to our games. Specifically, I've considered getting a Chaos Daemon army to complement Bryce's Grey Knights (the Grey Knights are Space Marines who specialize in daemon-hunting).

So, I hope to get back into blogging by posting a few book and movie reviews, maybe a couple CD (i.e., mp3 album) reviews, and some political commentary... Oh, who am I kidding? This will probably be my only post for the month and I'll spend the rest of September building all of this stuff:

This is about $200 dollars worth of 40K stuff

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Warhammer 40K Post Mortem

mon·o·ma·ni·a /mänəˈmānēə/Noun: Exaggerated enthusiasm for or preoccupation with one thing.

I just got back from yet another 40K game with Bryce. Despite the fact that I lost again (it's hard to beat someone who's been playing it since he was 12), we both agreed that it was one of our best games. For me this was due, in part, to the fact that I fully chose my army without assistance from Bryce. As usual I played my Space Marines while Bryce. played the Xenomorph-like Tyranids. We both started with about 1200 points and he won the game with about 300 or 400 points left. My tactical errors were few (I kept using heavy troops to fire fragmentation missiles against hordes of low-point creatures rather than firing high strength krak missiles against individual high-point monsters). In the end, the game was close enough that it was determined as much by lucky/unlucky dice rolls as by skill.

The results of the most recent game were in sharp contrast to my last two games, in which I felt like my performance was very poor. Unfortunately I've proven to be a very defensive player but I've chosen a 40K army that tends to work better when used aggressively. At Bryce's suggestion I've been gearing my own army towards a slightly more defensive stance than the army that I've been borrowing from him while also playing more aggressively. Thus, I've started using a Devastator squad with long range missile launchers to harass his army while simultaneously attacking at close range with troops equipped for close assaults.

Speaking of my army, it's grown substantially in recent weeks, which meant that I only had to borrow a few models to play a 1200 point game. Most recently I completed a Space Marine captain; my most elaborate figure and the one who proved to be tonight's MVP when he stood toe-to-toe with two hive tyrants (cumulatively worth three to four times as many points as the captain) and killed one of them before being messily devoured.

Soon my army will be positively monstrous. I expect to complete a five man terminator squad before next week's game and a Dreadnought before the following game. But that's just the tip of the iceberg: over the past month I've accumulated quite a sum of money from a portion of an award I received at work, a little bit of money I earned working overtime, and my usual monthly allowance. This past week my wife placed a fairly large order for me that will more than triple the point value of my army. Although I won't admit how much I spent on 40K models this week alone, an incredulous coworker commented that I could have bought a high-end video game system for that much money (I can honestly say that I've had more fun building models and playing 40K than I've ever had playing a video game). My coworker was even more amazed when I told him that I had spent several times that amount over the five years that I was collecting Star Wars Legos. And since new 40K models are released every few years rather than every few months, as Legos are, this week's purchase will form the bulk of my army. I have plans to build a few more squads, but nothing like the bulk purchase I just made.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Space Marines vs. Grey Knights

Bryce and I played two scenarios last weekend between his Grey Knights and my Space Marines. In the first I attempted to defend one quarter of the board while he set up on the opposite corner. I was allowed 30% more troops while he was allowed to set up after I did while also making the first move (usually the one who sets up first is the one who goes first). I made the mistake of setting up too close to his position, which allowed his Knights to charge directly into my forces. The Grey Knights are good in a shooting fight but are excellent in close combat. Since my forces outnumbered his Grey Knights, I had the advantage of having significantly more guns on the board. Unfortunately, I couldn't benefit from this because he was able to charge into close combat almost immediately.

In the second scenario we played a quick 400 point game Bryce called a "soul grinder". This time I was smarter and used my scouts to their fullest extent while taking advantage of the number of guns I had. This game turned out a lot different.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Parents Laughed at Me

Saturday night we made a video call to my parents. As usual they asked how things were going with each of us. When they asked how I was doing, I showed off my recently completed 40K squad. I guess I was a little too enthusiastic about them because it didn't take long for my mother to start laughing. She said that it was the cutest I'd been since I was 12.

My parents are great people (saintly, actually, since they tolerated me for 18+ years). Unfortunately, they're also fairly normal. You know the kind: they watch sports, they read popular novels, they watch a wide variety of movies, my dad likes to work in the yard, they enjoy going to the beach, etc. My mother's only deviation is that she likes to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 with me. Although my general personality and physical features indicate that I wasn't switched at birth, my parents still can't figure out where I came from.

My squad understands me

My parents know me pretty well, and they know I have a tendency to obsess about things. Of course my wife has been telling them about my latest hobby/unhealthy fixation, so my parents couldn't help but to tease me about it. They asked me how I liked the game, how it's played, how I do against my friend, etc. And every time I said that I needed to add an assault squad, or a tank, or any other model to my army they would emphasize the word "need". "Oh, so you need a tactical squad," or "you need a Land Raider," they would say.

I know that Fate will play a cruel joke on me and make my children normal too. Then both my parents and my kids will look at me with a mix of amusement and perplexity.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

First Warhammer 40K Figures

Obviously I've been neglecting my blogging recently. Under other circumstances I would have blogged extensively since my wife and kids met with my parents in St. George a few weeks ago while I had a b-movie and Mythbusters marathon at home. And the seven hours of Warhammer 40,000 that I played with Bryce (6:30 PM to 1:30 AM) while the wife and kids were on vacation would normally have merited at least a few words (as it happened, Bryce absolutely killed me in the first game; I won the second game by a small margin). However, I've simply not been online a whole lot ever since I started working on my 40K army in earnest.

Up until recently all my hobbies were computer related (e.g., blogging). However, as I've mentioned before, I've recently gotten into 40K and have been playing it almost weekly. Until now I've been playing with Bryce's space marine figures while intending to build up my own army. For someone whose longest-lasting hobby was building model airplanes and the occasional ship, much of the appeal of 40K is the fact that you build and paint your own playing pieces. Most of these pieces are about an inch tall, although monsters like the Tyranid Hive Tyrant can be several inches tall. The models are highly customizable and the game's "fluff" (i.e., the extra background story that helps to make the game so much fun) says that the space marines' power armor is highly customized and personalized such that no suit of armor is identical to another. Thus, a squad of ten marines will have ten figures that are all somewhat unique, making them particularly fun to build.

Last Sunday, after weeks of preparation and practice, I finished my first space marine figure. This particular figure was part of a five man squad that came in a 40K beginner's paint set. While it's not nearly as impressive as the professionally painted figures in Games Workshop's catalogs, I'm still fairly proud of it. I was bound and determined to have the rest of the squad finished in time for Friday night's game so I had a marathon painting session from 6:30 PM Thursday evening to 2:00 AM Friday morning with an additional few hours of work before lunchtime. That night I faced Bryce's Tyranid army in a four hour slog (our longest game yet). Of course my new squad was wiped out during the game, which I lost. However, it was one of our best yet and I managed to kill all but about 200 points of his 1250 point army. The fact that my newly finished figures were wiped out in their first game reminds me of this comic.

The first of five

My poor marine was dismembered by a Tyranid Hormagaunt

I keep all my painting materials in a single box that I can put out of reach of little hands. This box has since come to be known as the "Warhammer Happy Fun Box".

The Warhammer Happy Fun Box

Monday, June 6, 2011

More Warhammer 40,000

The Dreadknight
[Model by Games Workshop]
On Friday night Bryce and I played two games of 40K. For the first game Bryce fielded his brand new and still unpainted Grey Knights army. The Grey Knights are a specialized (and heavily armed) Space Marine chapter. His enormous "Dreadknight" killed four of my Raven Guard Space Marines in his first turn. A horrendous series of dice rolls utterly doomed my army, although at one point I came very close to killing the Dreadknight with a partially crippled tank. Next weekend I hope to do better against that particular army.

Space Marines vs. Space Marines

Captain Shrike didn't do
much for me this time
[Model by Games Workshop]
In the second game my marines faced off against a Tyranid swarm (a huge army of figures with relatively low point values) with significantly better results. Bryce did give me some general advice and allowed a do-over when I made a serious tactical error with Captain Shrike (a high value character who didn't end up doing a whole lot anyway), but I think my victory was mostly fair. Although I believe Bryce is coaching me mostly because he's a nice guy, I also think that he's motivated to train me into being a more challenging opponent. As I mentioned before, he hasn't really had anyone to play against in several years.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Warhammer 40,000 and The Sixth Circle of Nerdom

On Friday night I played my second game of Warhammer 40,000. This time we played a 1,000 point game as opposed to the 350 point game we played the first time (each individual figure has a point value; higher numbers mean more figures and/or more powerful figures). This time around Bryce didn't pull (too many) punches and gave himself what he called a "Godzilla" army of Tyranids (giant Xenomorph-like aliens that are very hard to kill). Of course he swept my Space Marines off the board, but I managed to take out 700 points of his army (not too bad for my second game). I would have done a lot better but I made a few serious tactical errors and I had a horrible run of dice throws at a crucial moment. However, the fact that I wasn't absolutely slaughtered was encouraging and I became even more committed to enhancing my nerd status.

Welcome to the Seventh Circle
There are, of course, several different levels of nerdom; like Dante's Inferno, you could probably divide it into seven circles. Playing role-playing games (RPGs) and games like 40K has to place one in at least the sixth circle (online versions don't count; it has to be live with cards, books, figures, and/or dice). I imagine the seventh circle is reserved for those who actually dress up as their favorite characters or wear costumes from their favorite franchises.

Anyway, having determined to fully enter the sixth circle, I went to the local gaming store on Saturday to check out their prices on 40K models, rulebooks, and painting supplies. The store was filled with several people playing various games, including two individuals who were enthusiastically involved in some sort of card- and dice-based fantasy game. The gaming store setting (which was as cluttered and musty smelling as you would expect) and the patrons' clothing, mannerisms, and banter proved two things to me: 1) that Big Bang Theory rarely exaggerates in its depiction of its characters and 2) that there exists at least one place in the world that can overwhelm even me with pure, unadulterated geekiness. I almost laughed when one player's cell phone rang. His ringtone? Duel of the Fates from Star Wars: Episode I.

Star Wars is well represented in the Seventh Circle

After determining that had better prices than the game store, I went to a nearby HobbyTown USA. While their selection of 40K models and books was minimal, their variety of paints, brushes, and other supplies was excellent. Once I get June's allowance (I've talked about our allowance system before) I'll probably buy the 40K starter set, complete with basic rulebook, dice, and a generous number of figures, on I can easily get the the paints and hobby supplies I need from HobbyTown. Unfortunately, it looks like the cost of getting into Warhammer 40,000 will initially be on par with that of collecting Lego Star Wars sets, although I expect it to taper off once I have the specialized rulebooks (a.k.a., codices) and a painted army or armies. I'll probably be enlarging my armies with special characters and vehicles over time, but the makers of 40K don't release new models at nearly the same rate that Lego does. Each addition or change to game pieces requires revision of the various codices, which would bring on the ire of the players.

This scene is roughly the same no matter where you go

Whenever I start to think that it's expensive to be a nerd these days, I remind myself that my more normal friends have motorcycles, over-sized trucks, and snowmobiles. I bet I could have a really awesome 40K army for the cost of a cheap motorcycle.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Warhammer 40,000

I really didn't need a new hobby. I really do collect enough things: superhero and Godzilla toys, Star Trek books, Star Wars books and comics, etc. And my computer is loaded with wallpapers, icons, and sound clips from more geeky franchises than is healthy.

Swords, battle axes, and hand cannons: it's The Future!

For the past six months or so, Bryce, the coworker who built my current computer has been trying to get me interested in the sci-fi tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 (a.k.a., 40K). Bryce has been playing the game for years, but has had a hard time finding someone else to play with. Last year he started very subtly by dropping hints about working on a "special Christmas present". Then, knowing that I'm an inveterate sci-fi fan, he started discussing the backstory of the game and of the various armies. This culminated in him lending me the specialized rulebook for the "Black Templars" Space Marine chapter. Along with descriptions of various playing pieces, the rulebook was filled with an elaborate history of the Black Templars. Finally, I agreed to play the game.

A Black Templar
[Model by Games Workshop]
40K originally started as an ornate tabletop strategy game in which players build and paint their own figures and assemble customized armies. The game doesn't have any sort of board; any tabletop will do. Movement and weapons range are limited only by distance, making the use of a tape measure necessary. Characters, vehicles, and weapons have certain point values that indicate accuracy and power, close-in fighting ability, armor strength, etc. The figures are all highly customizable by the player, meaning that no two armies will be exactly the same. During the game, players maneuver their armies into position. Once close enough to begin combat, dice are rolled repeatedly to determine whether one figure is able to shoot another, whether that hit actually damages the target figure, and whether or not the targeted figure is protected by its armor. The figures' point values are used to weight the results obtained with the dice (a relatively high Ballistics Skill value of four, for example, means that a roll of only three or higher on a six-sided die is needed to hit the target). This is a basic description of long-distance fighting; there are other rules for close-in fighting.

Yes, he's carrying a chainsaw that's used as a sword

Originally, I wasn't interested in playing the game. Despite the fact that I've been an irredeemable nerd for as long as I can remember, I've never been interested in complicated strategy games like 40K. I had never even played a role-playing game (RPG) until grad school when a fellow graduate student convinced me to participate in a Star Wars RPG (the three or four times we played were actually pretty fun). So, as I was driving to Bryce's house last Saturday, I was trying to come up with a good way to say that I didn't think that the game was for me, although 40K's backstory was interesting to me as a sci-fi fan and that I might read some of the 40K novels. When I arrived, he had prepared a small army of Raven Guard Space Marines and another of the Tau (an alien race). He patiently walked me through the rules and explained the tactics. Because of how he arranged the armies (and due to a few tactical "errors" on his part), I absolutely clobbered him. Before I left, he showed me the hundreds of game figures he's built over the years and generously gave me an unpainted Black Templar army.

Dreadnoughts are operated by severely wounded
Space Marines and serve as their life support system

Now I'm cursing my Bryce's name for introducing me to Warhammer 40,000. Not only did I enjoy the game, but I discovered on Saturday that 40K seemed to be designed for me. I loved building model airplanes when I was young; now I look forward to building and painting Warhammer 40,000 armies. And the way that the game replicates real aspects of combat strategy is very appealing since I've long been a military history enthusiast. Finally, the 40K universe seems to be aimed at a subset of geeks of which I am a part; it has a dystopian future in which humanity views its own technology with superstitious reverence and awe (similar to Asimov's Foundation series), a pseudo-medieval human society that has revived the Gothic style and which even outfits its elite warriors in suits of armor that resemble the most ornate varieties produced during the Dark Ages (despite their ancient appearance, the suits are actually power armor similar to that found in military sci-fi stories like Heinlein's Starship Troopers), an elaborate backstory that is on par with the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Space Marines who have a Klingon-like zeal for war and honor, a variety of alien and corrupted human adversaries, and even a host of demonic creatures inhabiting 40K's equivalent of hyperspace that would seem familiar to any fan of the early sci-fi horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

A Space Marine army and an Ork army
[Models by Games Workshop]

I really didn't mean to end up with a new obsession. But Bryce was really persuasive and the product he was pushing was very appealing...
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