Friday, December 18, 2015

First Assault Marine

The release of the 7th Edition Space Marine codex threw my whole modeling schedule for a loop. Just as I was ready to start on a Tactical Marine-heavy list with a cheap Librarian at its head, GW introduced the concept of the Demi-Company and the Gladius Formation and I lost all interest in fielding a solitary CAD. Models that I felt no urgency to build suddenly became necessary additions to the army while certain other models (e.g., Librarians) found their futures in question.

The Assault Squad ended up on my must-build list, not only because it fills a position in the Demi-Company, but because I completely lack any fast attack units. (That's right, I've been playing the game for over four years and I've never taken any units in the Fast Attack slots.) I don't know how many times I've found myself in a mission where I was too slow to grab objectives in time.

Although I already had Assault Squad bits that I bought a few years ago, I grabbed up a new Assault Squad box immediately after its release. The kit has a good variety of bits in it, including normal backpacks and torsos without jump pack straps for those who want to build a foot-slogging squad. It even has a Mk VI backpack (the first ever in plastic, I believe), allowing you to build a Marine in 100% Corvus armor.

My first Assault Marine is a Veteran Sergeant with dual lightning claws. Unfortunately, the model is a tremendously expensive 57 points with these upgrades (a Vanguard Marine with the same exact wargear and stats is only 32 points), but it looks great.

The legs are from the new Assault Squad kit, the right shoulder pad, torso, jump pack, and lightning claws are from the Vanguard kit, the left shoulder pad is from the Commander kit, and the head is a Mk IV helmet from the Betrayal at Calth box. (Yes, I said I probably wouldn't buy Betrayal at Calth, but it was a great value and Bryce and I split the cost.)

I'm very happy with how the model turned out. The Mk IV helmet looks great and I'm fairly proud of my hand painted laurels. The Assault logo on his right shoulder worked out pretty well, too. After cutting off the bottom third of the transfer, I used my usual technique to apply it to the shoulder pad. Once the decal was dry, I used a razor to scrape away the bits of stray decal from the Imperialis on his shoulder pad.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Plastic Heresy-era Armor On Its Way

It's been much too long since I've posted on this blog. Fortunately, I've been inactive because I've been getting a lot of modeling done.

It's been eight months since we first started hearing rumors that plastic Horus Heresy models were going to be released. A few months ago, leaked images showed a sprue of Mk IV Maximus armor and a sprue with two HQs: one in Mk IV armor and another in Cataphractii Terminator armor.

Additional photos have since confirmed that GW will be releasing Betrayal at Calth, a board game set during the Horus Heresy. Pictures of the back of the box show that the game includes multiple infantry models and a Dreadnought:

Although these models are supposed to be part of a board game, it's apparent that GW has much bigger plans than a single game. Space Hulk, which was obviously meant to be a one-off board game, had beautiful models but a minimal piece count and fixed weapons options

By contrast, the Mk IV Marine sprues are part of a full-blown multi-piece model kit with multiple wargear options (in one of the photos you can make out a plasma gun, a meltagun, a missile launcher, and several combi-weapon bits). From the look of them, the Mk IV parts are almost certainly compatible with other plastic power armor kits.

The Cataphractii Terminators are also from a multi-piece kit with a lot of options. It looks like there five pairs of lightning claws (I love the long-fingered Heresy-era lightning claws), five power fists, five chainfists, five combi-bolters, a heavy flamer, and a power sword.

The models on the HQ sprue have the least poseability (i.e., none) or wargear options (a plasma pistol and a power maul on the Mk IV model and a combi-melta and a chainfist on the Cataphractii model). I think most of us have gotten used to having limited options in our plastic HQs by now, and you could do worse than a Terminator Captain with a combi-melta and a chainfist.

Finally, the Contemptor Dreadnought is a little disappointing compared to the infantry sprues, although it's a step up from the usual starter kit Dreadnoughts. The pose is pretty static, but at least it gives you the option of arming it with a multi-melta or an assault cannon (Kheres pattern?).

(Most of these images come from War of Sigmar.)

It seems obvious that GW is trying to get more players into Horus Heresy. Personally, I'm still not interested in playing 30K, especially since the vehicles are likely to remain in resin (but give me a plastic Sicaran Battle Tank and I'll think about it).

Unless some of my fellow Cabal members decide to split the cost, I probably won't be buying Betrayal at Calth. I really want some Mk IV armor for my Tactical and Sternguard Squads, but I don't need nearly as many models as are included in this kit. If and when a 10 man kit of Mk IV Marines is released, I'll be the first in line.

As for the Cataphractii, I was on the fence until I saw the sprue. Now I'm willing to overlook the fact that I already have more Terminators than I can practically field in a standard game. I'm sure I could find a way to fit five Cataphractii Terminators into my army.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

1st Company Task Force

Almost two years ago, I wrote about the changes that the 6th Edition C:SM made to my army lists. Other than encouraging me to build up my Tactical Squads and giving me the option of Centurions, the change from 5th Edition to 6th Edition had a relatively small impact. Right up until the release of 7th Edition, I was working on an army that fit into the standard Combined Arms Detachment (CAD). However, Seventh Edition C:SM practically abandoned the traditional Force Organization chart, shredding all my plans. The new codex still allows you to use the CAD, but the benefits of the Demi-Company and Auxiliaries encourage players to use it as a secondary Formation, at best. The CAD is where you cram the units that don't fit into the other Formations.

This is your main force now, Marine players.

After working out some Demi-Company and Auxiliary lists, I've started prepping models for priming. Although I look forward to being able to fill out some of the new Formations, I may be most excited to field a 1st Company Task Force (i.e., 3-5 units of Vanguard, Sternguard, or Terminators). I'm a big fan of the Veteran models and the rules for the task force seem like they have a lot of potential.

First, all members of the task force have the Fearless and Fear special rules. Second, they have the Extremis Level Threat rule:
At the start of the game, before deployment, nominate one unit in the enemy army. Units in this Formation have the Preferred Enemy special rule when making attacks against the nominated unit.
Finally, the Formation has the Terrifying Proficiency rule:
Enemy units subtract 2 from their Leadership whilst they are within 12" of at least three units from this Formation.
It doesn't take too much to make a squad run when it's inflicted with -2 Leadership and takes a fusillade from Sternguard and/or shooty Terminators. And, unless they're Space Marines or are Fearless, the hit to their Leadership means that most units will fail their Fear test if they get into close combat with 1st Company Veterans.

It would be unfortunate to fail a Fear test against these guys.

I'm not too far from being able to field the task force. A lot of my current army's points value is already tied up in thirteen models: eight Close Combat Terminators and five shooty Terminators. With two more models I could meet the three-unit minimum. However, since the 1st Company Task Force's Terrifying Proficiency rule only takes effect when at least three Veteran Squads are within 12" of an enemy unit, I want to have more than those three units. Ideally, additional units would provide effective shooting given that the task force will cause many units to fall back simply by inflicting 25% casualties in the Shooting Phase. Clearly Sternguard are the best unit for this purpose.

I've since primed the necessary Terminator models and I've recently started prepping a couple squads of Sternguard. As I was working on the models, it occurred to me that Combat Squads can be used to maximize the effectiveness of Terrifying Proficiency. The rule for Combat Squads states that "A unit split into combat squads therefore is now two separate units for all game purposes [emphasis mine]". Thus, a 1st Company Task Force composed of three 10 man Veteran Squads could act as six total units if each squad were broken into two Combat Squads.

Even more devious is the argument I've seen regarding Dedicated Transports within the 1st Company Task Force. Since the task force's drop pods, Rhinos, Razorbacks, and/or Land Raiders are part of the unit that purchases them, and therefore part of the Formation, the Transports themselves would count towards the three units needed to activate the Terrifying Proficiency rule. Assuming this interpretation is correct, a drop pod that offloads a ten man Sternguard Squad that breaks into two Combat Squads would provide the necessary three units.

All of a sudden, it seems absurdly easy to get at least three units from the Formation within 12" of any particular enemy unit.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation List (~2000 points)

Recently I was asked to post the upgrades to the theoretical Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation list I summarized last month. The War Convocation list is pretty big, so I figured I'd give it it's own post it rather than put it my comments section.

Remember that all weapon and wargear options taken by units in this Formation are free. While this doesn't mean too much for the Cult Mechanicus or Knight units, it benefits the Skitarii units immensely. I haven't listed any default wargear.

Cult Mechanicus Battle Congregation
  • Tech-priest Dominus: Phosphor serpenta and Uncreator Guantlet
  • Kataphron Destroyer Squad (3 servitors): 1 Servitor with heavy grav cannon and cognis flamer
  • Kataphron Breacher Squad (4 servitors): 2 Servitors with torsion cannons and hydraulic claws
  • Kastelan Robot Maniple (1 Datasmith, 2 Robots): Anzion's Pseudogenetor (Datasmith); both Robots have TL phosphor blasters, one has a carapace phosphor blaster
Skitarii Battle Maniple
  • Vanguard Squad (10 men): Omniscient Mask, radium pistol, taser goad (Vanguard Alpha); 3 plasma calivers, enhanced data tether
  • Ranger Squad (10 men): Arc maul, arc pistol (Ranger Alpha); 3 arc rifles, omnispex
  • Ruststalker Squad (5 men): Prehensile dataspike (Ruststalker Princeps)
  • Infiltrator Squad (5 men): Infoslave skull (Infiltrator Princeps)
  • Ironstrider Squadron (1 Ballistarii): TL cognis lascannon
  • Onager Dunecrawler Squadron (2 Onagers): 2 neutron lasers, 2 cognis manipulators
Imperial Knight Oathsworn Detachment
  • Knight Crusader: Rapid fire battlecannon, Ironstorm missile pod

Onagers are definitely better in trios
I wasn't entirely happy with this original list. First, it didn't quite make it to 2000 points (that's a minor complaint when you're getting hundreds of points worth of free wargear). Unfortunately, the list is hard to tailor to a specific points value since the only way to change the size of the list is to add or subtract units or models. Second, I didn't feel like it took advantage of certain abilities, the most obvious of which being the fact that two Onagers in a squadron only generate a 5++ protective field, whereas three Onagers would generate a 4++ field.

My final issue was that several units or wargear options required me to buy more models than I planned to field. For example, the Vanguard/Ranger box only provides one of each special weapon; to take three I would have to buy three squads while only being able to field two. The list also had me buying three boxes of Kataphrons (nine models total) just so I could field seven.

Here's a revised list:

Cult Mechanicus Battle Congregation
  • Tech-priest Dominus: Phosphor serpenta and Uncreator Guantlet
  • Kataphron Destroyer Squad (3 servitors): 1 Servitor with heavy grav cannon and cognis flamer
  • Kataphron Breacher Squad (3 servitors): 1 Servitor with torsion cannon and hydraulic claw
  • Kastelan Robot Maniple (1 Datasmith, 2 Robots): Anzion's Pseudogenetor (Datasmith); both Robots have TL phosphor blasters, one has a carapace phosphor blaster
Skitarii Battle Maniple
  • Vanguard Squad (10 men): Omniscient Mask, radium pistol, taser goad (Vanguard Alpha); 2 plasma calivers, enhanced data tether
  • Ranger Squad (8 men): Arc maul, arc pistol (Ranger Alpha); 2 arc rifles, omnispex
  • Ruststalker Squad (5 men): Prehensile dataspike (Ruststalker Princeps)
  • Infiltrator Squad (5 men): Infoslave skull (Infiltrator Princeps)
  • Ironstrider Squadron (1 Ballistarii): TL cognis lascannon
  • Onager Dunecrawler Squadron (3 Onagers): 3 neutron lasers, 3 cognis manipulators
Imperial Knight Oathsworn Detachment
  • Knight Crusader: Rapid fire battlecannon, Ironstorm missile pod

By cutting out one Kataphron Breacher and two Rangers, I was able to fit in a third Onager. The list comes in at 2003 points.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thoughts on the 7th Edition Space Marine Codex

I was pretty much done buying Marines. Sure, I might have bought a few Bikes, maybe one more Razorback, and a Thunderfire Cannon if it ever came out in plastic. But that was it since I was finally going to start on the Mechanicus and Imperial Knights.

You are not done with the Astartes until they say you are done

And then the 7th Edition Space Marine Codex came out. If GW's motive was to make the army seem fresh and convince me to buy more models, then they succeeded. And I'm not upset about this at all. In fact, I haven't been this excited to work on the army in quite some time.

The new codex is not a rehash of the last one with a few Formations added in. There are various points adjustments, stats changes, and new unit options, too. Below are some of the changes that I found the most noteworthy. Some are small and simply correct annoyances I've had in the past (especially the first one). Others are a lot bigger.

Relic Blades on Terminator Captains
Shortly after it came out, a couple of the Cabal members and I split the cost of the Strike Force Ultra box. My official motivation was to get enough Terminators to field the Strike Force Ultra Formation (which is in the new codex with slightly improved rules), but the real reason I wanted it was for the unique Terminator Captain. Although I loved the look of the model, I hated its wargear; the same underpowered storm bolter and power sword found on a Terminator Sergeant. For whatever reason, Terminator Captains have never been able to take a relic blade.

Does this look like a mere power sword?

I figured I could use it as the Burning Blade, but that would add 55 points to an already expensive model. Plus, it seems like a waste to put the Burning Blade, which isn't a Two-handed or Specialist weapon, on a model that doesn't have a pistol or a second melee weapon.

Apparently, someone at GW also realized that this was a silly oversight. Now, for a mere 10 points, a Captain or Chapter Master in Terminator armor can replace his power sword with a relic blade.

Scout Improvements
Scouts are pretty good in this codex. For starters, they now have Marine stats with no increase in cost. I've always been fond of my Snipers, but I sure seemed to roll a lot of threes when shooting with them.

Second, Telion may actually be worth his points now. Until recently, Telion was a 50 point upgrade to a Scout Sergeant. In the last edition, this meant that he actually cost 61 points since he was replacing an 11 point Sergeant. This was an absurd price to pay for a one Wound Sergeant that got Look Out Sir rolls on a 4+.

I've since updated his base to match the textured ones of my newer models.
Telion has gained an extra wound and is now an HQ and an Independent Character (he can only join Scouts, though), meaning that his 50 point cost is actually 50 points. With two Wounds and 2+ Look Out Sir rolls, he's a bit more survivable. Not only that, but now he can fill the HQ slot of a cheap Combined Arms Detachment (CAD).

The Land Speeder Storm is better, too. Not only is it BS4 now, meaning that its heavy bolter or a multi-melta upgrade may be worth something, but its Cerberus Launcher has been improved. Previously it was S2, AP-, Blind, Large Blast. Since Blind only has to hit to work, it wasn't too big a deal if it didn't wound anything. However, the weapon has been changed to S4, AP6, Blind, Large Blast. Not only can you blind a unit, but you now have a decent chance of causing multiple wounds. All this comes with a five point reduction in the Storm's cost.

Finally, the 10th Company Task Force is a very appealing Formation. It's 3-5 Scout Squads and/or Scout Bike Squads with the option of bringing Telion. The Formation has the Concealed Positions rule, which gives Stealth to each unit from the Formation that deploys using the Infiltrate Rule. Stealth is lost when a unit Moves, Runs, Turbo Boosts, Charges, or Falls Back. They also get The Trap is Sprung, which gives them the Precision Shots special rule for the first game turn.

Tank Squadrons
This one could be a game-changer. Predators, Vindicators, and Whirlwinds can now be taken in squadrons of up to three vehicles. (Dreadnoughts and Thunderfire Cannons can also be taken in squadrons now, too.) When you have a trio of tanks, the squadron gains some amazing rules: three Predators gain Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter; three Vindicators gain the Linebreaker Bombardment (replace the three S10, AP2, Large Blasts with an Apocalypic Blast with Ignores Cover!); and three Whirlwinds gain Shred and Pinning.

Now I want three.

I once said that the allowance to take a squadron of Whirlwinds would convince me to buy them. Giving them Shred and Pinning sealed the deal.

Grav Cannon Devastators
If someone had told me two months ago that I would want to put a Devastator Squad into a drop pod and actually bother to upgrade the Sergeant, I wouldn't have believed him. However, the addition of grav cannons with grav-amps to the heavy weapon options has created a build that is so different from the classic Devastator Squad that it might as well be a different type of unit entirely.

Until this edition, all weapons available to Devastators were Heavy weapons (most being Heavy 1), meaning that the squad had to remain static to be effective. The grav cannon, on the other hand, is Salvo 3/5 with a maximum range of 24". This allows the squad to remain mobile, although it limits its effective range to 12". A drop pod is the easiest way around this obstacle, allowing an Astartes player to land four grav cannons and a combi-grav (Salvo 2/3, 18") within easy range of a high value target on Turn 1. Although a grav cannon isn't cheap (each is 35 points versus the lascannon's 20 points), a 220 point grav cannon quartet with a combi-grav on the Sergeant could be expected to inflict 8.9 wounds on a unit with 2+ saves and 8 wounds on a unit with 3+ saves.

Decompressing the Elites
Three types of Dreadnoughts, Vanguard, Sternguard, Assault Centurions, and two types of Terminators have never really fit into the into the three slots allowed by the CAD. GW has fixed this with the 1st Company Task Force.

Now I won't have to run an enormous squad of
Terminators because I'm limited on Elite slots.

The 1st Company Formation is composed of 3-5 units of Terminators, Assault Terminators, Sternguard, and/or Vanguard. In other words, it allows you to bring up to half of the entire 1st Company. The models in the Formation are Fearless and cause Fear, get Preferred Enemy against a chosen enemy unit, and cause enemy units within 12" of at least three 1st Company squads to suffer -2 Leadership. The implications of fielding a Formation that causes Fear while simultaneously lowering an enemy unit's Leadership by two is obvious.

Significantly Cheaper Vanguard Veterans
When 6th Edition changed Vanguard from Fast Attack to Elites, I gave up on them entirely. The only way to make them useful was to load them up with power weapons, which made them prohibitively costly. Not only were they expensive, but they would take a slot away from Terminators, Dreadnoughts, or Sternguard. In my mind, Vanguard could only be remotely justified in a Raven Guard army, where they could use their jump packs in both the Movement and Assault phases.

With the 1st Company Task force, the issue of having enough slots for them was eliminated. Then something utterly unexpected happened; the 7th Edition codex drastically reduced the cost of power weapons for Vanguard, slashing the price of each one by 10 points.

This particular squad is now 40 points cheaper.

In 6th Edition, a Vanguard Veteran with twin lightning claws and a jump pack cost 52 points (they were a mind-boggling 60 points in 5th Edition). Although lethal and mobile, he was only as survivable as the basic Tactical Marine with his 3+ armor save. By comparison, a lightning claw Terminator with a 2+ armor save and a 5+ invulnerable save cost only 40 points. Under 7th, the same Vanguard Veteran costs 32 points, making him cheaper than even the reduced cost of a lightning claw Terminator (now 35 points). While still not as survivable as Terminators, Vanguard have greater mobility, can re-roll one or both dice when determining charge range, and can make Sweeping Advances.

A Different Way to Organize the Army
While the CAD is still an option, the new codex emphasizes the Battle Demi-Company and the Gladius Detachment.

The way an Astartes Company is organized is well known, even if the game didn't always reflect it. The Battle Demi-Company is literally half a Company and is composed of the following:
1 Captain or Chaplain
0-1 Command Squads
3 Tactical Squads
1 Assault Squad, Bike Squad, Attack Bike Squad, Land Speeder Squadron, or Centurion Assault Squad
1 Devastator Squad or Centurion Devastator Squad
0-1 unit of Dreadnoughts of any kind
If you take a Demi-Company, all models in the Detachment have Objective Secured and you get the Tactical Flexibility rule. The latter rule allows the Detachment to use the Tactical Doctrine, which is a slightly revised version of the Ultramarines' Tactical Doctrine from 6th Edition.

The Gladius Detachment is composed of 1-2 Demi-Companies (called Core choices), 1+ Auxiliaries (i.e., task forces ranging from infantry-dominated detachments to vehicle-dominated Formations that have their own special rules), and 0-3 Command detachments (e.g., Calgar and his Honour Guard). If the army fields a Gladius, it has the Tactical, Assault, and Devastator Doctrines (the Assault and Devastator Doctrines are revised forms of the old Ultramarine doctrines).

While potent, this system of organization requires the player to make some hard choices. A reasonably well-equipped Demi-Company can easily cost 1250 points (the Demi-Company in the picture above comes in at over 1400 points and doesn't even include transports). If you're used to 2000 point games, there won't be a lot of points left over for other Detachments or Formations. You can't take any flyers or tanks other than dedicated transports in a Demi-Company (which can include Land Raiders if you take Centurions). Nor can you take any Elites other than Dreadnoughts or Assault Centurions. Those other options are only available through a CAD or an Auxiliary force.

What really gets left out in the cold are Fortifications. None of the Astartes Detachments or Formations include them, leaving the CAD as the only way to field staples like the Aegis Defence Line. This may have been a deliberate decision, since most Space Marine Chapters are depicted as being constantly on the move rather than hiding behind fortifications.

The Auxiliaries
The Auxiliaries (e.g., the 1st and 10th Company Task Forces) range from decent to amazing, but the minimum number of units they require can make them pretty costly. For example, the only flyer-based Auxiliary force is the Storm Wing (this is identical to the dataslate released in late 2013). The Storm Wing is composed of two Stormtalons and one Stormraven and costs at least 420 points.

Similarly, the most advantageous way to field tanks is through the Armoured Task Force. This force is composed of 0-1 Sergeant Chronus (he's an HQ now and his tank becomes a character), 1 Techmarine (which now has two wounds and is an HQ; the Master of the Forge is no longer an option) , 0-3 units of Thunderfire Cannons, and 3-5 units of Whirlwinds, Predators, and/or Vindicators in any combination. This Formation is pretty strong, with all tanks within 6" of the Techmarine ignoring Stunned and Shaken results while the Techmarine himself has a +1 to his repair rolls. Unfortunately, the cost of entry can be pretty high when the Formation has a minimum composition of one HQ and three tanks.

The Auxiliaries are strong enough by themselves that I suspect a lot of players will simply skip the Demi-Company altogether in favor of a points-efficient CAD. At an absolute minimum, a Detachment composed of Telion and two basic Scout Squads costs only 160 points.

One Final Thought
If one disregards the points cost, the Gladius Detachment is the best way to field Space Marines. However, it's very hard to fit a Gladius into a standard 2000 point game due to the size of the Core Force and the high minimum cost of many of the Auxiliaries. I suspect that this is GW's method of surreptitiously encouraging gamers to play larger and larger games so they can fit in all their toys. I wouldn't be surprised if 2500 point games started to become the norm.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation

I've been excited for Adeptus Mechanicus ever since GW started releasing Skitarii. Even before I had the Skitarii codex in hand, I used the White Dwarf rules to create a 2000 point Skitarii Maniple list (i.e., 2 Troops minimum with the option for 6 more Troops, 0-2 Fast Attack, 0-4 Elites, 0-4 Heavy Support, and 0-1 Fortifications). I even went as far to develop a 2500 point War Cohort list; a War Cohort being composed of three Skitarii Battle Maniples. This was a huge list since each Battle Maniple is composed of 1 Vanguard Squad, 1 Ranger Squad, 1 Sicarian Ruststalker Squad, 1 Sicarian Infiltrator Squad, 1 Ironstrider Squad (either Ballistarii or Sydonian Dragoons), and 1 Dunecrawler Squad. Not only was the total monetary cost of this latter arrangement quite high (around $1,000), but the model count was extremely prohibitive for a slow modeler such as myself.

I was encouraged when the Cult Mechanicus models were released. With the exception of the Electro-priests, Cult models are reasonably durable and worth quite a few points. Since Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus are obviously designed to complement each other, I ditched the idea of a pure Skitarii army in favor of a mixed Mechanicus army. With the release of the Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation Formation in the recent White Dwarf, I began to develop a Mechanicus list around the new Formation.

The War Convocation is composed of a Cult Mechanicus Battle Congregation (1 HQ and 2 Troops minimum with the option for 6 more Troops, 0-4 Elites, 0-2 Heavy Support, and 0-1 Fortifications), a Skitarii Battle Maniple, and an Imperial Knight Oathsworn Detachment (1-3 Imperial Knights). Where the Formation goes entirely insane is in the Might of the Adeptus Mechanicus rule:
All weapon and wargear options taken by units in this Formation, including any Relics of Mars or Arcana Mechanicum, are free. Furthermore, all weapons with the Gets Hot special rule carried by a model in this Formation no longer has the Gets Hot special rule.
This rule eliminates several of the Mechanicus' weaknesses. The base weapon of the Kataphron Destroyers is a two-shot plasma cannon, while one of the Skitarii's most potent weapons is the three-shot plasma caliver. Under normal circumstances, the likelihood of frying your own troops might cause you to reconsider your weapons choices. As for costs, with the exception of the Sicarians, Skitarii units are generally inexpensive. However, their wargear can be very expensive and can easily double the cost of a Vanguard or Ranger Squad. Similarly, an Onager Duncrawler with a base cost of 90 points can add upwards of 80 points of upgrades.

For 1985 points (I was unable to get up to a full 2000 points), I built a list that included a Tech-priest Dominus, one Kataphron Destroyer Squad (3 servitors), one Kataphron Breacher Squad (4 servitors), one Kastelan Robot Maniple (1 datasmith, 2 Robots), one Vanguard Squad (10 men), one Ranger Squad (10 men), one Ruststalker Squad (5 men), one Infiltrator Squad (5 men), one Ironstrider Squadron (1 Ballistarii), one Onager Squadron (2 Dunecrawlers), and a Knight Crusader. Alternatively, I could swap out the Knight Crusader for a Knight Errant and take an additional Kataphron Destroyer servitor. Of course I took advantage of the free upgrades, loading the squads up with quite a few options. I would have added more upgrades, but I'll be integrating models into my existing army as I finish them. It could be a very long time before I can play a full War Convocation and I won't be able to take advantage of the free options until then.

Out of curiosity, I calculated how much free stuff using the War Convocation Formation would give me. The cost difference turned out to be a full 395 points, which is more than the cost of most Imperial Knight patterns. [Correction 5/31/15: It's actually 430 points; I forgot to add in the Knight's upgrades. That puts the value of the Formation at that of a Knight Crusader with a battle cannon.] In other words, the Formation is fantastically broken and will almost certainly be one of the most common ways that Adeptus Mechanicus are fielded.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The New Knights: Not Quite What We Were Expecting

Just yesterday I speculated on the weapons that the Knights shown in silhouette were carrying. Much of my speculation was based on rumors that had been floating around for about a week. Now that images from the upcoming White Dwarf have leaked, it turns out that many of the rumors were in error. First, the new Knights do not have any ranged D-weapons. Second, their armor, Ion Shield, and Hull Point count are the same as the Paladin and the Errant. Without upgrades, the Knight Warden even costs exactly the same as a Knight Paladin.

To be honest, I was kind of disappointed to see that the most jaw-dropping (and thus the most suspect) rumors were false. Once I got over that fact, I found that I'm still really excited for the new Knights. They might not be Shadowswords on legs, but they still add a lot of versatility to the army.

The Knight Crusader is built for ranged combat. Its base weapons are the Thermal cannon or rapid-fire battle cannon, a heavy stubber, and the Avenger gatling cannon with built-in heavy flamer. The Avenger gatling cannon is a 36" range, S6, AP3, Heavy 12, Rending weapon. This turned out to be the gun I misidentified as a possible Volcano canon.

The Knight Warden is armed with the Avenger gatling cannon, a heavy stubber, and a Reaper chainsword. For 10 points the chainsword can be replaced with the Thunderstrike gauntlet. This giant power fist is Strength D, AP2, and has the Colossal rule which causes the model fighting with it to strike at Initiative 1. The gauntlet also has the Hurl rule, which allows the model to throw a defeated Monstrous Creature or non-super heavy vehicle at an enemy unit within 12". The result is an AP- Large Blast with a Strength equal to the Creature's Toughness or half the vehicle's front Armor Value, respectively.

Finally there's what I assume to be the Knight Gallant (none of the leaked photos seem to specifically identify it by that name). The Gallant has a Reaper chainsword and a Thunderstrike gauntlet.

Now we get to the upgrades. From what I gather from the German images, the cheapest is the 5 point cost to swap the heavy stubber for a meltagun. Then there are the three carapace weapon options. One is the Twin Icarus autocannon; a twin-linked, 48" range, S7, AP4, Heavy 2, Interceptor, and Skyfire gun for 35 points. For 40 points you can get the Stormspear rocket pod; a 48", S8, AP3, Heavy 3 weapon. Finally, there's the Ironstorm missile pod; a 72" range, S5, AP4, Heavy 1, Large Blast, Barrage weapon for 30 points. Interestingly, it sounds like the Knights Paladin and Errant may also be permitted to take a carapace weapon. One photo shows the Knight Errant Crimson Reaper with an Ironstorm missile pod mounted on it.

At first glance I wasn't particularly impressed by the carapace weapons. Once I thought about it, though, I realized that the fact that they're mounted on Super-heavy Walkers makes them a good deal. Since a Super-heavy can fire its weapons at different targets, each additional weapon is like adding one more unit to the army. Four 40 points you can get almost as many S8, AP3 shots as a Space Marine Devastator Squad can give you. The Ironstorm missile pod is effectively a 30 point Whirlwind tank. And the Twin Icarus autocannon is essentially a Space Marine Stalker tank with half the shots but with the Interceptor rule.

For a Knight Crusader, I'm considering the heavy infantry-busting combination of the Rapid-fire battle cannon, the Avenger gatling cannon, and the Ironstorm missile pod. That's two S8, AP3, Large Blasts, one S5, AP4, Large Blast, and 12 S6, AP3, Rending shots from a single model.

The Models
The models are about 95% identical to the Paladin and Errant. In fact, the White Dwarf says that the new kit has all the sprues needed to build the original models (as I originally suspected). There are a few additions that are kind of neat, though. For those who didn't like putting tiny aquila heads on their Mechanicus-aligned Knights, the new kit has little Cogs Mechanicus. Sadly, since I already have two unbuilt Knights, I won't be able to replace all the aquilas unless the new kit has extras.

The new model kit also adds a rim to the shield on the right side of the torso. And it includes two new faceplates: a Mechanicus one that looks half armored and half organic and a brutish one with a snout.

[Edit 5/1/2015: Make that three new faceplates. A couple leaked photos now show a third new faceplate with a solid upper half and a perforated "mouth guard".]

My Impressions
I had really hoped that this release would include ranged D-weapons, if only to keep up with Eldar. However, if Eldar are removed from the equation, this is actually a very nice release that gives Imperial Knights a lot more variety and allows them to be a full, reasonably well-rounded army. (And leaving ranged D-weapons out of the army makes it easier to keep friends.) It looks like five Knights, a few meltagun upgrades, a Thunderstrike gauntlet here and there, and a few carapace weapons bring the army up to 2000 points.

I also like that there are enough options to give each Knight a specific role in the army. It's easy to see a Knight Gallant with its Reaper chainsword and Thunderstrike gauntlet leading the charge. A Knight Errant and a Knight Warden with their 36" range weapons follow just behind the Gallant, taking out tanks and infantry, respectively. The Knight Paladin with its longer ranged Rapid-fire battle cannon guards their backs. At the rear, a Knight Crusader covers the rest of the army with its ranged weapons.

Unfortunately, I'm now extremely excited about building a Knight army, meaning that there could be a substantial delay in starting my Skitarii army.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Imperial Knights Incoming

Not long ago, we started getting rumors about new Imperial Knights: the Knight Warden and the Knight Crusader. Like the Knights Errant and Paladin, these Knight types existed in GW's small scale game, Epic 40,000. Although there are a few differences between the old Errants and Paladins and the new ones (e.g., the original Errants had giant power fists instead of chainswords), they're similar enough that it's been generally assumed that any future models will share certain features with the old ones.

The original Knights Warden and Crusader were both heavily armed, long-range Knights. Thus, it wasn't surprising when the rumormongers eventually gave us the following:
Crusader is armed with: Quake Cannon, TL Las-cannons
Warden is armed with: Volcano Cannon, Multi-barreled Autocannon
Both models have an optional top carapace missile launcher weapon mount, with multishot S8, AP3 anti-flyer capability
Both models are protected by a single energy field based heavily on the rules for the Stronghold Assault book’s Void Shield Generator.
Armor Values: Front:14 Side:13 Rear:13
Hull Points: 8
Both models clock in well above the cost of the Knight Paladin/Errant
As is now the norm, both Knights were supposed to be built from the same kit. Not long afterward, we were told that the kit would build a third Knight: the Knight Gallant. The Gallant doesn't appear to have an Epic counterpart.

Today, GW released their teaser for the Knights. Although the teaser only shows the new Knights in silhouette, we can guess a few things about them.

For starters, the legs, torso, and shoulder armor appear to be identical. Second, the new models can be equipped with weapons found on the Paladin and Errant. Both the rapid-fire battle cannon and the Reaper chainsword make an appearance. It's very likely that the new kit contains all the Paladin and Errant sprues plus at least one more sprue with new weapons.

Mystery Knight #1
Given that the Warden and the Crusader are supposed to be equipped for long-range combat, I'm going to guess that this one is the Knight Gallant:

The Reaper chainsword and the power fist show that this is primarily a close combat Knight, although the structure on its back is probably the missile launcher mentioned in the rumors. Its shape and location are nearly identical to the missile launchers found on larger Titans like the Reaver:

I'm very curious as to whether or not the power fist has special rules (perhaps it's AP1 versus the chainsword's AP2) or if it's just there to give the model an extra attack. If it's effectively identical to the chainsword (and assuming the kits are interchangeable), hobbyists who want to better distinguish their Errants from their Paladins could follow the pattern of the Epic models and equip the Errants with power fists.

Mystery Knight #2
This one is interesting since it's equipped with two new weapons that are difficult to identify. Obviously, its right arm is equipped with a standard rapid-fire battle cannon. However, its left arm has a large weapon with a complex shape on the end:

It's possible that this is the multi-barreled autocannon that the rumors mentioned, but I don't think the shapes are round enough to represent a rotary weapon. In fact, it looks like it could be the tip of the Volcano cannon, like the one carried by the Shadowsword:

That leaves us with the gun on the carapace:

It's difficult to tell what this is, but the rounded shapes and the loops at the top make me think that it could be a twin-linked or multi-barreled autocannon with ammunition drums and feeds.

It's worth nothing this model doesn't seem to match the rumors, which said nothing about the Crusader or Warden being able to carry the rapid-fire battle cannon.

Mystery Knight #3
Now we're really deviating from the rumors. Mystery Knight #2 may have a twin-linked/multi-barreled autocannon and a Volcano cannon, which would make it the Knight Warden. This Knight, however, doesn't match the rumor's description of either the Warden or the Crusader. It's armed with a missile launcher, the mystery arm cannon (possibly a Volcano cannon), and a power fist. If the model has twin-linked lascannons, they're hidden within the rest of the silhouette.

Given what we've been shown, I strongly suspect that Gallant, Warden, and Crusader are going to be very loose terms for the new Knights. Although the Epic Knights followed rigid patterns, the new fluff says that the weapons are actually interchangeable (GW even put tiny lifting lugs on the guns to suggest that they can be hoisted off their arm mounts) and that it's only by tradition that certain types of Knights carry certain weapons.

The GW teaser was probably meant to show the variety that the new/revised kit has and that those providing the rumors may only be aware of a couple of major builds. As for the missing Quake cannon, the only difference between the Volcano cannon-equipped Shadowsword and the Quake cannon-equipped Banesword models is literally a single piece at the tip of the cannon. It would be very easy for the Knight model to do the same.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

First Thoughts on Skitarii

I've been perusing Codex: Skitarii since I bought it. It turns out that having purchased the last three White Dwarves meant that I had already seen about 80% of the codex. The biggest things missing from the magazine were the description of the Doctrina Imperatives and the Detachments/Formations. Either way, I'm very excited to start this army. Although I wish I were a faster painter and could get a large Skitarii army on the Cabal's tables quickly, the codex seems designed to allow gamers to start out by fielding relatively small Mechanicus forces alongside their existing armies.

Models and Fluff
In my last post, I praised the Vanguard, Ranger, and Ironstrider models. The model line only got better with the Sicarian Infiltrator and Ruststalker models. GW topped it all off with the Onager Dunecrawler.


I love the look of all these models, particularly the long-legged Sicarians. Their torsos and upper legs are clearly those of human beings, but their multi-jointed lower legs are grotesque cybernetic alterations that give them phenomenal mobility. This is reflected in their Dunestrider rule, which gives them an additional 3" of movement during the Movement phase, while running, and when charging. I prefer the look of the Sicarian Ruststalkers, but I think the Infiltrators' Stealth, Infiltrate, and Neurostatic Aura (which reduces a nearby enemy's WS, BS, I, and Ld by 1) will be a lot more useful.

Sicarian Infiltrators

Sicarian Ruststalkers

Onager Dunecrawler
I'm also a fan of the crab-like Onager Dunecrawler. The walker is obviously of human design and, like the Ironstrider, clearly shares characteristics with the Imperial Knight (the fleur-de-lis makes yet another appearance). At the same time, it has an insectile design that makes it completely different from anything we've seen fielded by the Imperium of Man. GW has even given the Onager a clever backstory.

As diehard 40K nerds already know, the High Gothic of the 41st Millennium is essentially corrupted Latin, although GW seems to throw in a healthy dose of Greek, too (paleontologists also love to mix up their Latin and Greek when naming dinosaurs). "Onager" is Greek for half-donkey or mule. This High Gothic name for the weaponized crawler was intended to be a translation of the name of its original utilitarian version: the "Mars Universal Land Engine" or "M.U.L.E." The M.U.L.E.'s design was inspired by the (apparently long-extinct) Terran beast of burden, which the designer mistakenly believed was insect-like.

Onager Dunecrawler

The original M.U.L.E. was used to escort early Martian settlers across the planet's wastes. Since the Mechanicus is nothing if not a slave to tradition, Skitarii Battle Maniples of the 41st Millennium are still centered around their Onager Squadron.

The Rules
Leadership and Doctrina Imperatives
Contrary to my expectations, Skitarii are not fearless. However, their base Leadership is as high as that of Space Marines while also having a number of ways to boost its value. We also know now that Doctrina Imperatives boost the BS or WS of the army for a turn. If the boost is merely +1, no other characteristics are affected. However, if the boost to BS or WS is +2 or +3, then an increase in BS will adversely affect WS or vice versa. There are currently six Imperatives, each of which can only be used once per game.

Initially, I had assumed that Doctrina Imperatives were based on a Leadership test since the White Dwarf revealed that "Data-tether" wargear added 1 to the Leadership of a unit affected by an Imperative. I wasn't sure how this was going to work for Skitarii vehicles since they also had the special rule. However, the codex states that to use a Doctrina Imperative, you simply choose one at the beginning of the Movement phase; all units in the army with the Doctrina Imperatives special rule benefit from the Imperative unit your next turn. Apparently, data-tether wargear is meant to reflect the fact that a unit affected by a Doctrina Imperative is subject to a higher level of external control by the Mechanicus Tech-priests, which has the side effect of increasing their effective Leadership for that turn.

Detachments and Formations
Since Skitarii lack an HQ, the standard Combined Arms Detachment is not an option. Instead, the basic Detachment is the Skitarii Maniple, which has no HQ choices, two mandatory Troop slots, six optional Troop slots, four optional Elite slots, two optional Fast Attack slots, four optional Heavy Support slots, and one optional Fortification slot. The Skitarii Maniple gives Preferred Enemy to your Warlord (who is chosen from among the Skitarii Alphas of your Vanguard or Ranger Squads, or from among the Princeps of your Infiltrator or Ruststalker Squads) as well as Scout and Crusader to all models. The universal Scout is limited in that units can't use it to Outflank unless they have the native ability to do so; e.g., Infiltrators, which have the Infiltrate special rule. The Skitarii Maniple seems like the best way to field a 1500 to 2000 point all Skitarii army.

The Battle Maniple Formation appears to be one of the best ways to field 800 to 1250 points of Skitarii with another force. The Formation consists of one unit of Vanguard, one unit of Rangers, one unit of Ruststalkers, one unit of Infiltrators, one unit of Ironstriders (either Sydonian Dragoons or Ballistarii, either of which can have up to six walkers), and one unit of Onager Dunecrawlers (which can have up to three vehicles). The Battle Maniple has all the special rules of the Skitarii Maniple while also giving Leadership 10 to all models within 12" of an Onager Dunecrawler.

For a reasonably balanced 2000 point force, you can run two Imperial Knights and a ~1250 point Battle Maniple. Unfortunately, you're limited to a single squadron of Onagers. The Onager is easily the most flexible unit in the codex. While the basic model has extremely limited close combat ability, if you upgrade it with a Cognis Manipulator, you get a Strength 10, AP1 close combat attack that also gives the vehicle It Will Not Die. (Bear in mind that its WS, I, and A aren't great, so don't get it in a fight with a Dreadnought or a Soulgrinder.) The walker's ranged capability is much more impressive, and has anti-infantry, anti-flyer, and anti-armor options. However, since all vehicles in a squadron have to fire at the same target, it's inefficient to arm each Onager with a different weapon.

For larger games you can field a War Cohort, which is composed of three Battle Maniples. All models in a War Cohort benefit from the rules of a Battle Maniple while gaining the ability to re-use a single Doctrina Imperative. I find the War Cohort appealing, in part because it includes three Onager squadrons, each of which can be equipped for a specific task. Unfortunately, my preliminary lists suggest that a reasonably effective War Cohort will cost at least 2500 points.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Adeptus Mechanicus and Skitarii

My first exposure to the Warhammer 40,000 universe outside of a codex or rulebook was through Dan Abnett's excellent novel Titanicus. At that time, I barely knew what a Titan was and all I knew about the Adeptus Mechanicus was that they worshiped some sort of Machine God and trained the Techmarines that maintained the Astartes' vehicles. I was completely new to the idea of the Skitarii, the Noosphere, or the strained relationship between Mars and the Imperium. By the time I finished Titanicus, I was very interested in the Mechanicus and was disappointed that they weren't a playable faction in the game.

As soon as the pictures leaked, I became tremendously excited for the new Skitarii and the fact that the Adeptus Mechanicus would finally take an active role in 40K. The most recent White Dwarf provides the rules for the recently released models and gives hints of more to come. Presumably the current release and those that are expected over the next couple weeks are meant to act as a companion force for other armies of the Imperium. I can only hope that this release does well and that GW expands the Mechanicus into as large and diverse a force as other 40K mainstays.

The Models
They're amazing. I love the robes, the masks, the cybernetic enhancements, and the archaic weapons. The arc rifle is as steampunk as you can get and looks like it was lifted from an H.G. Wells story. The other weapons look even older; the "radium jezzail" that some Sydonian Dragoons carry is inspired by the long barrelled, muzzle-loading, and occasionally rifled firearm commonly used in the Middle East up until the 1800s. "Arquebus" and "caliver" were terms that originally referred to muzzle-loading smoothbore guns used between the 15th and 17th centuries. The fact that a musket rest is provided for the transuranic arquebus shows how much attention went into these models. Apparently, "arquebus" could be a fairly broad term, with some referring to lighter versions as "calivers" while larger ones that required a rest were called "muskets".

I'm a big fan of design consistency, which is another reason why I find the Skitarii so appealing. The recent White Dwarf says that the Skitarii models were deliberately designed to fit in with the design philosophy of other Imperium units; the models share both artistic elements and technical details. For example, the fleur-de-lis emblem on the armored plates of the Imperial Knights, on the Tempestus Scions' armor, and on the Scion/Guard Taurox, also appears on the Ironstrider walkers. And a close comparison shows that, under their armor plating, the legs of the Imperial Knights and the Ironstriders share similar design features. Even the Knight's "faces" resembles a Skitarii mask.

The Rules
I have to admit that, with the exception of their archaeotech weapons, Titanicus made me expect the Skitarii to be something more akin to cyborg Space Marines. Once I accepted that their stat-lines more closely represent Astra Militarum Veterans in carapace armor, I looked more closely at their special rules and wargear.

Honestly, I like the models so much that I would play them even if their rules were mediocre. However, it looks like a lot of thought went into making the Skitarii a useful addition to any army since their rules are apparently meant to allow for some mean combinations.

For example, Vanguard don't seem too impressive as an assault unit by themselves. But when a unit is locked in combat with them, their Rad-saturation rule drops the enemy unit's Toughness by 1. Once the enemy is weakened by Rad-saturation, you can hit them with another unit (e.g., a Space Marine Assault Squad) to finish them off quickly.

Phosphor weapons also have some potential. These S5 AP4 weapons have the Luminagen rule. If a unit suffers an unsaved wound or a glancing or penetrating hit from a phosphor weapon, its cover saves are worsened by 1 until the end of the phase. Combo this with an Omnispex (cover saves taken against attacks made by a unit with an omnispex have a -1 modifier) for some real fun.

My only concern is that we still don't know what "Doctrina Imperatives" are. All the units introduced this week, both infantry and vehicles, include it as a special rule. The only hint we're given is that "Data-tether" wargear adds 1 to the Leadership of a unit affected by a Doctrina Imperative until the start of their next turn. The fact that the special rule is plural (i.e., "Doctrina Imperatives") indicates that there are several Imperatives and the fact that a Data-tether enhance a unit's Leadership suggests that whatever the Imperatives do, they are based on a Leadership test. Some have guessed that this may be similar to Tyranids' Instinctive Behavior and that a unit will attempt to execute a "pre-programmed" task unless they pass a Doctrina Imperative test. Although I hope that this isn't the case and that Doctrina Imperatives are more of a benefit than a liability, it wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me if they do resemble Instinctive Behavior.

Skitarii and Imperial Knights
Just over a year ago, GW released the Imperial Knights. Although I was attracted to the idea of depicting a Mechanicus-aligned house, particularly the Mars-based House Taranis (whose paint scheme I was particularly fond of), I had thought that my Knights were going to go into combat alongside the Ultramarines. I decided against Taranis because:
While the story of House Taranis is interesting, it's obvious that their true loyalties lie with the Adeptus Mechanicus. This would be fine if I were playing Iron Hands or the Imperial Guard, but I play Ultramarines; a Chapter whose captains bear titles like "Knight Champion of Macragge" and "Regent of Ultramar". I want to model a knightly house that will remember a favor and repay a debt millennia after the fact, not one that will ally with the Ultramarines because the Mechanicus' and the Astartes' interests are generally aligned.
Needless to say, my opinion has changed significantly now that we can finally pair up Imperial Knights with an Adeptus Mechanicus army. House Taranis' fluff now makes it the ideal Knightly House for allying with Skitarii. From The Imperial Knight Companion:
The Ritual of Becoming is a hazardous process. Many of those who undertake its stresses do not survive, or if they do are rendered insensate. [...] House Taranis, gifted with the learned presence of the Adeptus Mechanicus and an understanding of the Throne Mechanicum like no other, has a much more practical use for those incompatible with the device's delicate neural matrixes. Known to the Tech-priests of Mars as the Psychosis-Neuracanium, nobles that have failed the Ritual of Becoming and survived are still a valuable resource. [...]

Primarily, the Psychosis-Neuracanium are adapted for use as Skitarii captain-overseers. Their forebrains are implanted with emotive-selectors and memory-catheters to keep their rages and madness in check. [...] The families of House Taranis willingly give these broken sons to the attentions of the Mechanicus, on the promise that the regiments they lead, and the formations they fight in, will find a place at the side of the household Knights.
In other words, I'll almost certainly be building two Knights of House Taranis. Since my fever dreams still include a total of three Knights, the third will either be from House Terryn (as I originally intended for all three Knights) or the Freeblade known as the Obsidian Knight.

Future Releases
Rumor has it that we'll be getting more infantry in the form of the "Sicarians", which will supposedly be revealed this week. While we know very little about additional infantry units, we definitely know that Skitarii will be getting another walker thanks to a single leaked image:

The vehicle, which is rumored to be called the "Onager Dunecrawler", looks to be pretty large based on the size of the gunner.

My biggest concern right now is whether or not Skitarii infantry will get some sort of transport. The Vanguard and Rangers have some awesome rules and weapons, but with the stat-line of a Guard Veteran, they simply won't last long out in the open. The easiest route would be for GW to stick with preexisting fluff and designate the Rhino as a Dedicated Transport for Skitarii squads. The release of the Skitarii Transfer Sheet, which has multiple decals that appear to be sized for vehicles, has made me suspicious that an existing model might find its way into the new army. While I wouldn't be too excited about building even more Rhino chassis, I'd rather field more Rhinos than lose my troops en masse.

Final Thoughts
As I said before, I'm very excited for this release. Not only are fans of the Adeptus Mechanicus getting some great models, but GW's recent history has left the door open for even more releases. Late last year, GW unexpectedly released multiple new Tyranid models, with several of them representing entirely new units. Rather than waiting to release the models with a new codex, the models' rules were simply released in White Dwarf and the Shield of Baal supplements.

If the Skitarii line is successful (and it's hard to imagine that they won't be), I think we can expect the kind of treatment that Tyranids received, with periodic releases of models whose rules are published in White Dwarf and/or supplements. In a few years, the Adeptus Mechanicus might become a full blown army on par with the game's major factions.
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