Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Order: Idoneth Deepkin Part 2 - The Units (Warhammer Age of Sigmar Battletome Review, 1st Edition)

The Deepkin are another in the line of armies which emphasises speed and mobility over taking hits. We have had a fair few of these now, but to the credit of Games Workshop, few of them play in the same way. Afterall, everything from the Sylvaneth to the Overlords can count as this playstyle, and yet both of them have vastly different ways of winning their battles. That and one has arrows while the other has guns.

The Deepkin here maintains more of an emphasis upon mounted attacks backed by light infantry. This is largely evident thanks to the presence of flying sharks, moray eels, and the odd turtle, but it manages to avoid falling into the same niche as other armies. In broad strokes, it's akin to fielding a jetbike centric Craftworld Eldar army, with light infantry moving alongside them. There is much more of an emphasis placed on keeping the right unit in generally the right place in a formation over fast-moving assault lines or swarming individual squads one after the other. So, let's get into the nitty-gritty behind these models then.

Eidolon of Mathlann

The Eidolon serves as the single big gun of the army, the massive monster which can shrug off multiple blows and still dish them out. For the most part it does live up to this requirement, with a 3+ save and 12 Wounds granting it some much-needed durability, while Bravery 10 means it can serve as an essential gathering point for an assault. Plus, there's the added benefit of the fact it can fly. However, what is interesting is that there are two entirely different variants of the Eidolon present within the list, one emphasising melee (Aspect of the Storm) while the other places a greater emphasis on magic and support (Aspect of the Sea). Both are still capable of dishing out plenty of damage by direct means, with plenty of 3 attack weapons hitting on a 3+ and wounding on 2+ and 3+, but their abilities are notably different.

The Aspect of the Storm benefits from a notably stronger set of basic weapons with Fuathtar (a 2" spear) and the Crulhook (a 1" melee weapon) offer four attacks each. They hit at 3+ and 2+ respectively, with 2+ and 3+ to wound as well. Combine that with a rend value of -2 and -1 and you're going to be chewing through most things. Crashing Down Upon the Foe also grants the ability to re-roll results of 1 when you're trying to hit a target, and an extra point of damage to Fuathtar. This isn't noted to already be accounted for in the stats line, so until the errata you can be causing 3 damage with each strike. The ability to heal D3 wounds following a charge also means that you can keep it in the thick of battle.

Drench of Hate also allows it to grant its same re-roll rule to all friendly Deepkin units within 9" of it, while Pulled into the Depths means that it can subtract 1 from hit rolls against a single declared enemy hero within 3".

The Aspect of the Sea, meanwhile, swaps out Fuathtar and Crulhook for a Psi-trident and Deep-sea Sceptre. They fulfil the same overall role, but are notably weaker in terms of basic stats. Atop of this, however, it also gains the ability to use Blasts of Abyassal Energy. This is a 15" attack which can use D3 attacks, with 3+ to hit and wound, with -2 Rend and 2 Damage. So, it's going to inflict a fair bit of harm at range before you close in for fights. Meanwhile, Tranquility of the Abyss allows it to add 3 Bravery to every friendly Deepkin unit within 9" of the Eidolon.

In terms of its magic capabilities, you also have the benefit of Dormant Energies, where you can re-roll one casting roll for the model in each hero phase. Oh, and if you choose not to, then you can heal D3 wounds on the Eidolon. In terms of abilities, it can cast two spells in the hero phase and attempt to unbind two during the enemy hero phase.

Cloying Sea Mists is one of two unique spells to this model, which has a casting value of 6. This one is useful as it's a multi-purpose spell which can be targeted on both enemies and allies. On an allied Deepkin unit, it heals D3 wounds, while against any other force it inflict D3 Mortal Wounds. It's a nice general purpose option, and the 12" range means that you can use it to easily support anything close by. The second of the two spells is Tsunami of Terror, which has a casting value of 7. This promptly then hits every single enemy unit within 12" of the caster, and you then promptly remove 1 from their Bravery score and rolls to hit.

Oh, and atop of all of this, both have Stormshoal, which is a 3" attack which has 2D6 hits and a 4+ on hits and wounds. 

Overall, this model is much better at crowd control and support over all else. It's by no means a poor choice when it comes to being a hero killer or behemoth slayer, and it can cover a broad range of roles at once. However, it seems to benefit most when it comes to quickly inflicting a vast amount of damage across multiple units, weakening them and leaving them open to follow-up attacks from friendly options.

Volturnos, High King of the Deep

This is the only named character of the book, and he's a curious one to be sure. This is a figure with a 14" move value, 8 wounds, 8 bravery and a 3+ save. So, overall, he's going to be fast-moving and can still take a good number of hits. Better yet, his sword the Astra Solus inflicts 5 attacks in a 1" range, with 3+ to both hit and wound, and D3 damage atop of that. Oh, and this is further enhanced by its own special rule, which allows rends to strike at -5 rending instead of -1. So, most bigger multi-wound units are going to quickly fold once he gets within range.

Even if you ignore this, he also has his mount's attacks to fall back on, with 2" ranges each and 3 attacks. Not to mention 3+ attacks and wounds, with 1 and 2 damage respectively as well. Overall, no matter what you are using, he will certainly still harm anything he gets into contact with.

His special rules also cover a wide range of buffs and modifiers, with Crest of the High King granting +1 Bravery to all units within 18" of him and Cealith, the High King's Shield, allowing him a 3+ save against all spells. This alone would be enough to make him stand out, but he also comes with the same re-roll 1s buff that the Eidolon's offered to other units, but this time with an 18" range. Oh, and he has a good chance to immediately inflict D3 Mortal Wounds if he ends up within 1" of an enemy unit at the end of a charge, provided you roll a 2+ on a dice first.

He doesn't stand out nearly so much as many other options in this game, but he's a good overall choice for a smaller and swifter melee option than most. Plus it helps that he flies.

Akhelian King

These are the leaders of the small Deepkin kingdoms and they retain a stats line very close to that of Volturnos himself. Save for one less wound, the two are more or less identical and they retain access to a wide range of weapons as well, from polearms and falchions. 

They retain the same D3 Mortal Wounds on a charge ability as the High King, the Deepmare Horn, and Akhelian Paragon is a 12" version of First Among Arkhelians, offering re-rolls to allies. Storm of Blows, meanwhile, is a simply counts as drawing its falchion while ditching its shield. As a result, it loses a point from save rolls while making these attacks in this turn. Equally, Wave Rider counts for drawing a polearm in combat, as it counts its Damage characteristic as 3 if the model charged on the same turn.

Honestly, i'm not a fan of this one. There are a few too many direct parallels with Volturnos which simply reduces him to a slightly more effective version of them over a legendary warrior. Furthermore, the variety of weaponry they carry is a good idea, but far too many special rules tie directly into them. They're not broken or poorly constructed by any means, but their design is notably uninspired in many regards. I can't imagine many will find this model ineffective by any means, but it could have been far better.

Isharann Tidecaster

The Tidecaster here is the magic master of the army, and the best option for a high magic output behind the Eidolon. While they, unfortunately, lack the flight and higher stats benefitted of their mounted superiors, they can still offer more than a few notable benefits to any force with them in. The foremost among these is the Spirit Guardians ability, which allows them to pull an Apothecary I.E. ignore the first effective wound directed to them each turn. While they only have a 6+ save, they make up for it somewhat with 5 Wounds and a Pelagic Staff. This is a melee weapon with 2 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and D3 damage.

Oh, and then there is their unique magical ability of Riptide, which has a casting value of 7. This has an 18" range and needs to be visible to them, but it allows you to immediately subtract hit rolls by 1 when it comes to them. Oh, and the unit suffers D3 Mortal Wounds atop of this in the next hero phase, regardless of whether or not the Tidecaster is alive it seems.

With only one spell which can be cast and one they can bind, not to mention a very limited range of options for spells, this isn't the Farseer some might hope for. Instead, it's closer to a Warlock in nature, where they can hold their own in close support, but cannot relentlessly debuff and modify the abilities of units wholesale across the board. Overall, it's a good choice for the style of play Deepkin favour, but a model you will want to keep heavily protected at all times.

Isharann Soulscryer

The Soulscryer here is a navigator of sorts within their lore, allowing them to highlight targets and guide troops to their destinations. They share the same basic stats line as the Tidecasters, but instead they have the benefit of a ranged weapon - the Scryfish Shoal. This is a potentially devastating power with an 18" range and 8 attacks, but it is limited by a 5+ to hit and wound with no rending capability. Furthermore, in melee they have a finger-claw which offers 3 attacks along with 3+ to hit and 4+ to wound. As such, they are very much a glass cannon but can still seriously hurt an opponent when the dice are on the player's side.

As you would expect from their role, Finder of Ways allows them to teleport units about the battlefield with up to two units joining them as they disappear off of one side of the board and can arrive on another. They need to be within 6" of the board edge and 9" away from enemy units, but it's an effective way of withdrawing damaged units from an engagement. In addition to this as well. Their Seeker of Souls ability allows them to pick out an enemy unit within 24" of them. You can then immediately add 3 to all charge rolls from friendly Deepkin units within 12" of the Soulscryer, with the added issue of the first model finishing within 1/2" of the target unit.

Overall, the Soulscryer are the much more useful magic option on here and a better supporting figure as a whole. While they lack the same direct methods of firepower as others, their teleportation capabilities and bonuses to charges makes them worth their weight in gold. Especially given this army's need to quickly engage in melee.

Isharann Soulrender

The Souldrender here is a much more of a durable option than the past two additions, with a 4+ Save and Bravery 8, along with5 Wounds. Furthermore, while they're not mounted, they do have a pair of fairly effective weapons to back this up as well. The Talunhook has a 2" radius and 2 attacks, along with hitting at 3+ to hit and wound. Furthermore, it has 2 damage and a -1 to rend. Their second weapon, the Rakerdart's Serrated Bill is a slightly different one, with 3" range, D3 Attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, -1 to rend, and 1 damage. So, you have a pair of decent damaging options no matter how you try to approach slaying foes.

Its unique abilities are tied mostly into supporting troops while serving as a speed bump/Hero killer option for the army. Lurelight allows them to bring D3 Namarti back to life from a unit within 12", and in addition to this it is further buffed by the model's own damage output. Every model killed by its Talunhook in that same turn adds another point to that D3 result.

The Hangman's Knot, meanwhile, is an ensnaring option which retains a 3" range in battles. On the result of a 4+ (or 2+ if the hero in question is a monster) then you have the option to re-roll Talunhook attacks in that combat phase.

It speaks for itself really, and it's overall a decent option for the most part. While this isn't the sort of figure I would throw headlong into a fight against another full hero, they are a good choice for keeping an enemy tied up in melee and slowing them down until the big guns get into combat. It's certainly a worthwhile option an will definitely prove its worth in the right place, but it's one best left as an additional purchase if you still have room in your army toward the end.

Akhelian Allopexes

This is the first of the beast mob found within the book, and they're probably the one most players will end up using as their vanguard choice. They're the sort you throw in at the forefront of the army to either soak up damage or rip apart a few initial units, as they have the stats to back up that role. As with the majority of beasts/riders in this army, the Allopex has a 12" movement value while also counting as a flying model. Furthermore, it has a 4+ save and 8 wound to back this up, with Bravery of 6 to ensure that it stays in the fight. Given how the Kings or Eidolon can easily buff that last stat, this means that they will rarely be running away in most armies.

The model itself comes equipped with a wide range of weapons, as it has a trio of melee weapons (well, teeth and barbed fins) while also two ranged attacks to inflict damage as it closes in. While the latter might seem like a concession or even a one-shot option they are actually remarkably effective for what they are. One is a Razorshell Harpoon Launcher which has a range of 24", 3 attacks and counts as 3+ to hit and wound, and with a damage of 1. The other is a net launcher, which has an 18" range, 1 attack, 3+ to hit and wound but a damage value of 3. Sadly that latter one is not noted to ensnare or pin down units as they close in.

In melee meanwhile, you have a series of 1" attacks, which offer a variety of benefits and can be used against a multitude of targets. Barbed Hooks and Blaes has 5 attacks, 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and a single point of damage. Allopex's Ferocious Bite (yes, really) has only a single attack, but 3+ to hit and wound, a -2 to rend and a damage of 3. Then there's the scythed fins, which have 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, -1 rend and one damage. Then, if that weren't enough, they also have their Bloodthirsty Predators rule, which allows them to re-roll charges if they are within 12" of any unit which has taken wounds. Obviously it has to be toward that unit, but there we go.

The main downside of the Allopexes, and the one thing which helps keep them balanced, is that they are somewhat surprisingly fragile Their size makes them an easy target during most battles, and despite their ranged weapons, a barrage of attacks from devoted heavy damage weapons can inflict some serious harm at long range. Overall though, they are likely something we will see appearing a fair few times in the years to come as a mainstray of this army.


The Lotann here is about as far from the previous model as it is possible to get, as they are not mounted, have only a 6" movement, a 6+ save, Bravery 7 and 5 wounds. They are relatively fragile, and their main benefit is Catalogue of Souls - which grants +1 bravery and re-rolls to hit for Deepkin and Nnamarti within 12" of it respectively - but they also have a surprisingly large number of weapons to fall back on. Along with the Bone Quill (cue pen is mightier than the sword jokes) which offers 1 attack, hits at 3+, wounds at +5 and does 1 damage, they also have several bonuses thanks to their guardian celephopod.

Ochtar's Cudgel has a 3" range, 1 attack, 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound, -1 rend and 2 damage. Ochtar's Blade meanwhile has a 3" range again, 1 attack, a 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and -1 rend along with 1 damage. Then its tentacles have the same range again but 6 attacks, 4+ to hit and wound and 1 damage each. Why that wasn't buffed to 8 given its usual number of limbs is a bit of a mystery, but balance is likely the reason here.

The Lotann isn't a bad option and in lower points value games or where you just need something cheap to offer quick buffs it does its job quite nicely. While like the Soulrender, it's admittedly a fall-back choice it does still fill out an important role within the army. So, overall, it's one well worth considering when building an army.

Akhelian Leviadon

This is the big one which tends to draw eyes on the tabletop and in the promotional materials, the gigantic killer turtle which has ballistae mounted on its shell. As a result of that, as you might imagine, it's difficult to bring down and can soak up no end of damage. Along with a 3+ save, there's also the 16 wounds it has and the Bravery score of 7 to keep it going. You might think that the big bow weapon on its back means it's a slouch in melee, but it still has plenty of ways to hurt creatures in combat.

The model's movement value is dependant on how many wounds it suffers, starting at 12" and going down to 7" as it gradually takes more and more hits. Furthermore, this same issue applies to its attacks, with the hitting value of its Crushing Jaws and damage of its Scythed Fins gets steadily worse as it slowly dies in battle. Nevertheless, it thankfully takes more than a single wound for it to start losing its total effectiveness and it remains fairly effective even after taking nine wounds.

Its main methods of attack are a Razorshell Harpoon Launcher (see the Allopexes for the stats of that) and also a set of Razorshell Harpoons. This has a 1" range along with 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 1 damage each. The Crushing Jws have the same close range, 1 attack, a changing hit value, 2+ to wound, -2 rend and D6 damage. The Scythed Fins have a 2" range, 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 2 damage. Then there's the twin-pronged spear, which has 1" a range, 4 attacks 3+ to hit and wound and 1 damage. So, you have no end of options to inflict serious damage with, although Crushing Jaws tend to be a good go-to option in most engagements. There's a good reason for that atop of the great stats, as its Jaws of Death special rule means that any roll of a 6 means that it inflicts 6 Mortal Wounds on its target.

The Void Drum special rule also helps to cover one of the big weaknesses of the army, in that it hides many of the nearby units. All Deepkin units (friendly ones, mind you) within 12" of the Leviadon count as being in cover while being shot at and attacked. This, unfortunately, makes the Leviadon a bigger target, but it does mean that your light armoured infantry won't be shot to bits while getting into close range.

Akhelian Morrsarr Guard

Besides sounding like the result of a drunken bet on who can throw the most syllables into a unit without resorting to Lovecraftian means, the Morrsarr Guard are another cavalry option, but much lighter and faster than those previously discussed. For one thing, they have a 14" movement value, while also retaining a 4+ save and have only 4 wounds each. This is also another unit with Bravery 6, so keep that in mind when fielding them.

Their attacks are once more divided between what the rider wields and what their ocean-going mount is capable of, with the Voltspear counting as a 2", 2 attack weapon with a 3+ value to hits and wounds. It only does 1 damage, but that's made up for by the Fangmora (their shark steed) with its own abilities. The Fanged Maw is a melee only ability again with a 1" range, but it offers 1 attack, 3+ to hit and wound and D3 damage. The Lashing Tail, meanwhile, then offers a 2" Range, D3 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 1 damage. That might not sound much on its own, but keep in mind that unlike the previous riders, these units tend to travel in groups of 3 or more. They also have the benefit of hitting much harder when charging into combat thanks to their Wave Riders Special rule, which grants the Voltspears a -2 rend and 2 damage value in the turn that they charge.

Their final special rule, that of Biovoltaic Blast, allows the eels to discharge energy into battle and do a bit more damage as a result. This needs to be done at the start of the combat phase, and requires the roll of a 3+ to pull off. However, if you accomplish this, it allows them to inflict a Mortal Wound on a enemy unit within 3", or D3 Mortal Wounds if you rolled a 6 at the time. 

As you might have guessed from that little outline, the Morrsarr Guard are a force which works best when moving in and delivering a couple of rounds of serious damage. They can take hits, better than some of the other unit options in the Deepkin roster, but their main benefit is being used as a jousting cavalry of moving in, hitting hard and then withdrawing for a brief moment. Do this right, and they can seriously hurt or quickly finish off most things they run into battle against.

Akhelian Ishlaen Guard

This is another counterpart option, as they ride the same Fangmora Eels as the above unit, have most of the same stats and benefit from the Fangmora's own attacks. However, the rider's weapon and how their abilities work has been notably changed, with the Helsabre being the most obvious among these. While it's an inch shorter in range than the Voltspear, it benefits from 1 more attack than that weapon while sharing the same overall stats line. Furthermore, their ability of Biovoltaic Barrier allows them to ignore Rend attacks against them when making saves. Plus it boosts their save to a 3+ while charging, which robs them of some of their immediate damage, but means that they can withstand the worst of a powerful unit's counter-attacks.

The Ishlaen Guard is a unit which is going to be less useful overall than the Morrsarr Guard, but they do still retain benefits and a place in this army. The Helsabre means that they are more viable as a unit when it comes to sticking it out for a couple of turns longer in combat, while their benefit of a Barrier means that they can charge in, take the brunt of an attack or perhaps take down a potentially dangerous foe, and then allow weaker units to take over with fewer risks to themselves. They're not bad as a whole, simply not great.

Namarti Thralls

The Thralls here are the first of the two big mob units of light infantry which will likely be the backbone of most armies. They're the sorts which will die more readily than the mounted choices, but will be able to absorb those casualties without quite so much of a negative effect on their capabilities. The fact that they move in units of ten and up certainly helps in this regard. With a stats line of 6" movement, 1 wound, Bravery 6 and a 5+ save, you know what you are getting into here. What separates them from pure arrow fodder is a respectable damage output, with their Lenmari Blades. This has a range of 1", 2 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, a rend of -1 and 1 damage. With ten of these hitting at a time, it's going to seriously hurt in most situations.

This is also backed by a good special rule, specifically Sweeping Blows, which adds 1 attack when targeting units with models retaining a single wound. If the unit or model they are fighting has four wounds or more, then it means that they gain an extra point of Damage in melee. I personally quite like this overall, and it gives them a bit of overall versatility against multiple targets and offsets their usual weaknesses without erasing them. They will almost certainly still die, but it means that they will rarely not go down without hurting something first.

Namarti Reavers

So, with the melee options done, now we have the ranged versions here. It's the same overall stats line with a movement of 8" over 6" and they have a variety of missile and melee weapons. Their Whisperbow (ranged weapon) retains two methods of firing on targets with Aimed Fire and Storm Fire as options, which is the difference between greater range and having more attacks. Aimed Fire offers each model an 18" range, 1 attack, and a 4+ hit and attack value with 1 damage each. Storm Fire has half of that range buy 3 attacks each. Keening Blade is a melee attack of 1" which has 2 attacks, 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and 1 damage. The fact that the melee options are not a throw-away or truly poor alternative to their ranged fire.

The unit has two special rules to further benefit them. Well, one and something which is more of a throw-away line. With Swift Tide allows them to re-roll running (a good option for any squad with limited numbers and armour), while Fluid Firing Style just allows them to switch between Aimed Fire and Storm Fire. Yeah, that's it, and it seems like a trick was missed here. 

Still, for the most part, it's an alright unit option, and a good way of laying down supporting fire while keeping up with the cavalry.

The Verdict

The basic units for the Deepkin are pretty good on the whole. As with more than a few Age of Sigmar armies covered on here, they're functional, capable and well balanced internally. That said, it does seem like something more exciting could have been done with them in a few places in regards to their basic units in terms of equipment or power. They're a marked improvement over the Daughters of Khaine however, and it's enough to fill a specific niche within the game. As such it's difficult to truly complain about in this first step, but they do need something more done to them in the next army book. So, that was this lot done. We'll be finishing them off tomorrow with the remainder of the army's rules.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Order: Idoneth Deepkin Part 1 - The Lore (Warhammer Age of Sigmar Battletome Review, 1st Edition)

While the return of the aelves to the timeline was something celebrate, one section of the Daughters of Khaine battletome turned a few heads. Rather than the three direct descendants of the elves of the Warhammer Fantasy world people suspected we would see, instead, we ended up with four. This last one was mentioned only briefly, but those stories grabbed the attention of readers with mentions of an aquatic race of hunters who rose up to assail those on land in raids. 

Rather than keeping their readers hanging in a Blizzard style dragged-out affair, the book has instead been printed in record time right after it. Unfortunately, that seems to have been for both better and worse. The book is good to be sure, and it does contribute in fleshing out the new setting, but there are a few odd shortcomings which seem to be borne of a rushed production more than anything else.

The Good

The immediate strength of the Idoneth Deepkin stems from the nature of their creation. Like many other books, a great emphasis is placed on their history, development and why we have not heard nor seen them before now. The story is told in a usual manner, informative but with a quality which is trying to still utilise qualities of retold epics. What's interesting in this regard is that Games Workshop has been taking this a step further of late, and making sure that it covers details largely unique to the Deepkin.

The Deepkin themselves were among the first souls to be freed from Slaanesh's captive form, and were taught by Teclis to retake the mystic arts. However, their souls had a few odd qualities to them. The first among these was that they were those tied to the ancient god of the sea, Mathlann and this influenced their creation along with their time while consumed by Slaanesh. As a result, they appeared fine at first only for obvious imperfections and flaws to emerge as time goes by, forcing them to retreat into the depths and part ways with Teclis. This was far from amicable. That's the basic description, but the full version grants readers an immense amount of information in terms of events, actions and how they aelves have been adapting to this new world. The parts surrounding Teclis and Tyrion are of obvious importance, but the book emphasises only the parts the Deepkin themselves would be directly aware of. As such, many of the events surrounding Morathi covered in the Daughters of Khaine Battletome are completely absent.

What makes this such an interesting move is that it leaves several points in question. This isn't quite the whole War of the Beard style unreliable narrator with two intentionally contradictory terms. Instead, it makes it clear that every side only knows so much, and the obvious blind spots are to be delved into by other books. This makes the world much more expansive as a result, because you are not losing anything directly relevant to your faction of choice, but there are certain facts which can be fudged or missed. It also means that, while the book is working to create a single cohesive setting with some variation, rather than having everything set in stone.

Much like a number of previous releases, a great deal of emphasis is placed on establishing the faction's background. As a result there's a real sense of legacy, history and meaning to this faction. They're clearly a well-established part of this world despite their recent release, and the book does an excellent job of working them around many points such as avoiding the previous conflicts. More impressively still, their reveal carries all the impact you would expect. They are drawn further and further into the war upon their discovery and only align with Sigmar's lot out of necessity rather than a true desire to follow his new alliance. What's still interesting despite this is that the book manages to avoid the spiteful or self-serving elements you would expect from this. Several points note that the Deepkin attempt to bury the hatchet with those races they previously wronged, and there is not the inherent sense of malice you would expect to accompany their ruthlessness.

Interestingly still, their background has a storytelling quality to it that most books have struggled to fully capture in many cases. While it isn't the same directly informative works found in many 40,000 books or the overtly stylised versions Fantasy favoured, there is a sense of being a grand epic to it. The discussion of vast figures, powerful sorcerers, fallen gods and reclaimed civilisations really is Age of Sigmar at its best. This is less the low fantasy warfare of the past, and more akin to almost Conan-like works with entirely new concepts to them. It really helps to separate the two, and the style is a type of fantasy that Games Workshop has rarely attempted to examine before now. On the whole, this helps it to stand out, and it makes the Deepkin have a sense of impact to them.

The race itself retains a number of very interesting qualities to them, and perhaps the most prominent among these is how they operate in and out of the water. Obviously trying to adapt any ocean-bound race to land was going to be an uphill struggle, but the writers work around this via a number of spiritual means, which draws a sense of this group being the AoS setting's Wild Hunt. A great deal of thought has been put into many of their powers and methods, and it manages to remain balanced without the typical problems of a single ability being too powerful or underwhelming. It's a good skeleton for the faction to work from, and the timeline offers a multitude of events where this comes into play and reshapes them.

Finally and most pressingly, the various factions here aren't the usual throw-away ideas you would expect. While it's true that more than a few of them still fall into the gimmick angle (one is best at controlling beasts, another has renowned archers etc) others go beyond this. There's a much greater sense of history to them, and it helps to subtly reinforce a few points about them - Specifically, the Greek visuals, in that they are a loose-linked alliance of various kingdoms which have split off from one another. There's more than enough to pick out one a player likes or even to utilise ideas from them to spawn a new kingdom, a-la Adeptus Astartes chapters and their successors. Plus, there's the added bonus of how the artwork depicting them is more than a simple recolour, and effort has been put into each one.

The Bad

There's no easy way to say this - The great failing of the Idoneth Deepkin is that they are this setting's Dark Eldar. This isn't some general comment on their archetype, role within the setting or even their visual concepts. This is a comment on how they are structured and their defining qualities. You have an army of elves who live far apart from the world of mortals and yet outside of that of magic, across multiple sub-realms linked by a magical gateway network. They emerge on occasion to raid other species, because their link to an ancient god means they must constantly feast upon the essence of other beings to sustain themselves. They are the dark mirror of the other survivors of their race, and their society is heavily divided into a caste system. Those of a natural birth are regarded as having greater prestige than those born with flawed and more artificial qualities. Oh, and then you have the whole beast-master trait as well.

Now, this isn't to say that having the similar sadistic corsair concept with them would be bad. Nor that more than a few elements from the other universes could not be lifted to make use of this. However, the problem lies in the fact that it never manages to push beyond those qualities. It's not so much a homage as a duplication, and while their history is the strongest point which separates them, little else here works. We know nothing of their society short of certain dietary and caste elements. Their nature, traditions, views of the world and many other ideas which might help to further define them are either too out of focus or go completely unexplored. As a result, the Idoneth Deepkin never feel like the Idoneth Deepkin. Instead, you read them and think "Ah, Fantasy Dark Eldar, got it!"

Even accepting the above, however, there are still more than a few other issues. In their own timeline the Deepkin have a noted lack of victories or true accomplishments. In much of their timeline, events either note them hiding from their enemies or losing battles so badly that they need Sigmar's warriors to win. Save for the odd coastal raid or an offer of aid, much of the time they are losing major battles or being overrun by their foes. It's an old issue when it comes of Elf/Eldar equivalents, but for the most part Age of Sigmar has been subverting this. Even with the Sylvaneth, with much of their history detailing a flight from an advancing foe and repeated losses, were given a chance to seriously turn things around and prove their power. The Deepkin lack this specific type of battle or two, and as a result, they come across as irritatingly weak in a number of ways.

The book also fails to truly provide the reader with more of a definitive impression on just how their everyday life works. As with more than a few other armies, the focus is placed on a few defining traits, in this case largely their hunger for souls, worship of a dead god, and predilection for raids. The problem is that these are notable aspects, but the book doesn't truly do enough to push past this or show them in any greater depth. A few certainly can get away with this at times, with the likes of the Fyreslayers or Daughters of Khaine being absolved due to their nature as a cult. However, the Deepkin are supposed to be a full civilisation, and it seems as if there is one massive thematic and detailed blind spot in regards to how they are envisioned in the reader's mind. Once it moves away from open conflict, there is little to truly sink your teeth into or get more of an idea of how they are supposed to behave as a whole.

Curiously, the book also has a distinct problem when it comes to offering the reader something of an essential aspect in most books: That of an internal perspective. We are told certain things, points known only to the Deepkin are outlined to the reader and the gradual creation of their civilisation is given a satisfying level of detail. With that being said, there are few additional touches or qualities to truly help this seem like an opinionated viewpoint from their own perspective. There are no quotes from their members, no tales of battles from the views of a member of their kind, nor even descriptions of their realms in a manner which makes it feel more real. This creates a sense of odd disconnect as a result, and it lacks a hook to make the work much more engaging as a result.

The issue of a lack of inner viewpoint can be best defined by how the book uses characters. High King Volturnos (the only named Deepkin of the book) is limited only to a small segment of a bigger page, which spends more time outlining his features over any personal quirks or accomplishments, while several are devoted to the Eidolon of Mathlann. One is a member of their species, a figure who can serve as a representation and anchor for a view of the species or civilisation. The other is an arcane creation built out of their history, souls and linked to their dead god, emphasising their religion. One offers a view on their people, while the other tries to comment on their culture. Neither is inherently bad, but the fact that the latter is prioritized over the former, it ends up suffering from the opposite of a usual problem cited in past codices. Were this emphasising an unknown quality such as with the Necrons upon their introduction, the Tyranids or even the Legion of the Damned it might have worked. The problem is that it still desired to make this race sociable and somewhat human, so rather than benefitting from this, it instead ended up stumbling. For a work which needs to make a strong impression from the very start, it misses several vital components as a result.

The Artwork

No matter what you say about any book these days, there's no denying that the artwork is almost consistently top notch. It's rare to truly find a failed book these days, and this Battletome isn't about to break that streak. The art present here is beautiful to behold, capturing the disturbingly elegant qualities of the Deepkin. Effort is clearly made to try and emphasise their distinctive visual qualities and separate them from almost any other army present and, while it typically sticks to more photo-realistic works, it isn't above the odd stylised piece here and there. Equally, while the book shows little of their domains, those which are shown are extremely memorable. From shimmering magical gates to the shadow of a vast creature with a city built into its back, it's enough to keep them in your mind.

Plus, it has to be said, the Greek inspired visual imagery of the army does work to benefit the art in many places. The design department went above and beyond with the design of these models, and many such as their spiritual incarnation (well, Avatar substitute) are perhaps some of the best creations in Age of Sigmar to date. Keep in mind that this is coming from a devoted Kharadron Overlords player.

The Verdict

As a whole, this work has promise but this first impression is deeply at fault. There are more than enough good elements to be found in here, and a number of great ideas which can work as an excellent unique basis. It's also a good depiction of just how to use a marine-based army without limiting them completely to water. However, there's no denying that the core of the work all too closely resembles that of another prominent army, from their driving force to the very way in which their society is structured. Some armies can get away with this for one reason or another, and a few have very closely skirted this territory before. However, the Deepkin are the first to have truly crossed a line, and the next Battletome definitely needs to flesh them out, moving them away from the Spelljammer style Dark Eldar. After all the Sigmarine jokes, it's honestly a surprise to think the company would try this.

So, that's the lore done then. Join us tomorrow when we move onto the rules.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Warhammer 40K Lore: Why the Dark Eldar Get It Right

So, you might be wondering where the Codex: Dark Eldar review is. I'll go into more details on why we're not covering that tomorrow, but for the time being this is going to focus on something we have needed to cover for a long time. Specifically why the Dark Eldar - or Drukhari now - have become a personal measuring stick to judge all others by in terms of lore. 

Some of you are likely scratching your heads at the above comment. As concepts go, the Dark Eldar can seem like the sort of creation which verges on camp. Aside from the BDSM imagery and aspiring for little more than piracy, they're vampires which feed on pain more than blood. Even if you account for their more unique qualities which give them some extra depth such as their history, the nature of the Webway and She Who Thirsts, on its own it doesn't seem to be enough. These issues are likely part of why they lay in something of a slump for twelve years, ignored by all but a few authors.

Even the main characters can often come across as archetypes, with Vect as the Chessmaster overlord and Duke Sliscus as the risk-taking adrenaline junkie. They're not overly cliched, mostly, but their bare essentials seem to be unremarkable. However, there's ultimately one thing which makes this faction infinitely greater than the sum of this parts: The fact that they are treated as a civilization with an army, and not an army with a nation attached.

Whenever you read, examine or even just skim over the lore within the codex, you will likely notice one thing. Far more time is spent building up a sense of a self-enclosed world and ecosystem than almost any other book. Take, just for starters, the descriptions of Commorragh's trans-dimensional state and how it is structured. Each codex goes into detail in terms of how the city is built upon ruins upon sub-dimensions upon forgotten territories. The realm itself isn't simply divided up into sections or districts so much as entirely new areas, and each has a history to it. Even when the codex does not deign to offer a wholly detailed or comprehensive version of this, you're still given a good impression of its nature. More importantly, it also details just why it is there and how it fits into the larger scope of the city itself. Some certainly link to units, but they are not utterly beholden to them and they do more than simply serve to promote or focus on a single miniature.

Many of the unit descriptions themselves did more than merely describe their capabilities. Instead, they often went into detail surrounding how they lived within the Webway and the role they served. This is easy to perform with certain cases, and most armies can pull this off with HQ choices. The likes of the Haemonculus, for one thing, is an easy unit to do more than outline its role on the battlefield. However, the Dark Eldar often take this to the next level. The likes of Scourges and Mandrakes have detailed descriptions which mention how they favour parts of the city, how they operate there and how they are regarded. The former in particular could have easily been a forgettable throw-away cannon fodder unit, but they instead have a much more detailed and distinct background to them than what most other units are granted.

Even before getting to the major factions within the city, the Kabals and various cults, you have a full ecosystem. You have a tiered hierarchy, a group of figures and various individual domains which stand apart from one another. Each is also told with an abject emphasis on atmosphere and detailing their impact among the population of Commorragh. To offer a video game comparison, most codices (especially those of the Imperium) are Age of Empires. They have a variety of sub-factions and distinctive visual looks, but ultimately every unit, every creation, is there to fight and die in battle or supply that army. The Dark Eldar, however, are more akin to Dungeon Keeper. Every unit has its distinct quirks, agendas, rivalries and issues to deal with. Your base of operations isn't simply a production line to deploy more units, it's a world unto itself and when not directly commanded your units will wander about fulfilling their own desires. While neither is bad mechanically - and again, this is purely a generalized examination of codices - the latter offers far more character in terms of its narrative depth. It also means that any unit, even the cannon fodder, are directly representing some part of the city thanks to their presence.

Even the stories themselves tend to often focus more on power plays, acts of triumph and political machinations over the usual conquests. When the kabals fly out in search of new prey, it is done in the name of furthering their power and status within the city, along with survival. Their mission, their battles and wars, are ones of industry and survival as much as service to some greater power. There's a bitterly spiteful pragmatism to each act, and when they do claim glory it is in the name of carving out their own personal legend. It's that odd contradiction which slots so perfectly well together, something which is less Space Knights Templars than it is the Godfather meets Hellblazer

So, you might be wondering if this is truly different from other xenos armies. While we briefly discussed the Imperium, others like the T'au Empire, Necron Dynasties and Craftworld Eldar each have cultures and histories in of themselves. That's true, but the focus is always in their nature as a military force. Take the T'au Empire for starters, what do we actually know of the Empire itself? We know there are five castes, that they are divided up into Sept worlds and that they induct species. Fine, but what else? Even when those species show up as auxiliary units, they lack that same distinct individual quality found within those of Commorragh's raiders. The Vespid, for one, are offered only a brief if well-told history, but little in the way of their role as a small cog within a much bigger machine. Equally, the book places a clear emphasis on the Fire Caste over all others, so we learn much of their military, but little of their inner workings. The same is true of the others in this regard as well, and the codices rarely break away from this. It's been a long-standing issue with the Craftworld Eldar in particular, and something that the writers have only just started to remedy.

You can obviously argue that the Dark Eldar have an inherent advantage in this regard, and you would be right. However, the entire army was reworked and retooled back in the Fifth Edition to take advantage of this benefit. Rather than the usual betrayal or horrible botch job that Edition was infamous for, that codex remained true to their core themes and instead only enhanced them. It took advantage of the same core concepts, and reshaped itself to better work with its most essential ideas while remaining loyal to its image. It would be easy for the aforementioned factions to do something along the same lines. Challenging to be sure, given the fact their units are less a part of a city's culture than a devoted military, but it is still possible. Even those of other games have begun following similar themes, with the likes of the Kharadron Overlords retaining a similar structure in how war is often business for them. It's for this reason that, every time someone asks what codex to look into for inspiration, I always end up pointing to a codex of this faction.

None of this is to say that the Dark Eldar (oh fine, the Drukhari) are the be all and end all of this. The Codex: Tau Empire of the Sixth Edition is a stellar example of a fine work with many strengths, while the likes of the Black Legion supplement offers a fine example of how to utilise and build a culture from Chaos. It's simply that the Dark Eldar, of late especially, have always done it most effectively.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Codex: Necrons Part 3 - Stratagems, Tactical Objectives, Relics and Warlord Traits (Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Review)

The latest edition of Codex: Necrons has already seen quite a few notable changes from the past Editions, to the point of reworking entire units. It's still recognisable, but you can tell it has been heavily retooled at certain points. That's not going to change any time soon, as this part still retains more than a few odd alterations. Some are for the better, others for the worse, and one or two seem to thematically clash against the nature of the army in question. It seems to be the case that the development team is trying to have them fit something of a new niche while still fitting into their older role.

However, what needs to be stressed is the fact that this one seems to have also been made with stratagems in mind. By this I mean that, while certain units are relatively useless on their own, they gain a new lease on life when combined up under a formation. On the one hand this does offset the old problem of having certain units remain useless thanks to a poorly written rule or two. On the other, this is yet again pushing strategems to the forefront and rewarding sticking to a pre-set build over true creativity. To see exactly what I mean, take a look at the section below.


These can be divided up into several groups. The first are universal ones, which can be used with all groups. The other are devoted to specific dynasties, as they relate to their personal quirks and styles. I personally quite like this, and it's one of two sets of over-arching rules which tries to reflect the more varied nature of the factions often found within large-scale forces like this.

Universal Strategems -

Adaptive Subroutines (1 CP): A single Canoptek unit can advance while still retaining the ability to shoot on the turn that this is activated. This can stack up well with a few general tactics and works with how the army can quickly fall back, withdraw or regroup as required. It's a nice option, especially if you're using an army largely bereft of transports.

Amalgamated Targeting Data (1 CP): This is activated in the shooting phase and works with Doom Scythe aircraft. However, it only works when you have a trio of them operating within 6" of one another. Rather than shooting their Death Rays, you can pick a spot within 24" of them (in front or behind) and roll a D6 for every unit within 3" of that location. It hits on a 4+, with a +1 to the result if the unit has more than five models in it or -1 if they are characters. It then inflicts 3D3 mortal wounds on them. This is very good for a multitude of reasons, but it is both expensive and difficult to properly set up. That said, it's a useful way of quickly shredding hard targets grouped together and quickly causing all sorts of problems for massed charges by enemy units.

Cosmic Powers (1 CP): This is a power booster of sorts for the C'tan, as it swaps out the powers they have at the time for others. It's an okay benefit for the unit to have, and it does mean that you can pull off a few sneaky tricks. That said, there are much better ones on here.

Damage Control Overrides (1 CP): This is a very cheap and surprisingly useful one, as it allows you to pick out a vehicle on your side (specifically a Necron one) and it uses the highest level on its damage chart. It's a good option for late game bounce-backs and to pull surprise maneuvers.

Dimensional Corridor (1 CP): Welcome to another of the teleporter tricks the army can pull. This allows you to pick out an infantry unit more than 1" inch away from any hostile targets, and then allows you to immediately place them within 3" of a Monolith. While this counts as having had them just disembark, they can move normally, so your melee focused mobs can use it as a method of surprising an enemy squad. Overall, while the downside is that it requires a Monolith, it's a useful and surprisingly nasty one to have.

Dispersion Field Amplification (2 CP): This is one for the Lychguard, as it ups their dispersion fields to have a 3+ invulnerable save. More interestingly, it also causes some damage to bounce back, as rolls of 6 when shooting at them trigger a mortal wound on units shooting at them. This can be very effective in dealing with the Tau Empire, especially in overwatch situations, even if you don't end up killing much with any returning fire.

Disruption Fields (1 CP): This obviously only has a few uses, as it allows you to buff an infantry unit's Strength by +1 for that turn. With the likes of Flayed Ones it's exceptionally good, and there is the additional bonus of how it doesn't bar characters from accessing this ability. That said, outside of buffing a charge or the like, you're not going to use this one too often in most games.

Dynastic Heirlooms (1 to 3 CP): You gain an extra relic, the quality of which varies depending on the cost. It's as simple as that.

Emergency Invasion Beam (1 CP): This is an odd one, and it's one of those we mentioned before which helps to save a unit from being completely useless. In this case, it's the Night Scythe, as it allows them to become suicide rush transports. In effect, once the last Monolith or Night Scythe is destroyed, the undeployed unit within is immediately placed on the battlefield. 

Enhanced Invasion Beam (1 CP): This allows you to set up two units from a monolith or night scythe instead of one. It's excellent in combination with the strategem above, as it can be used at any point. So the two can double up.

Enhanced Reanimation Protocols (2 CP): This allows you to reroll results of 1 with Reanimation Protocol rolls, but only for one unit. It's not bad but the cost makes it a bit situational. It's best left for times when you are intentionally having a single squad draw as much fire from the enemy as possible.

Entropic Strike (1 CP): This is given to a Necron character before the game starts, and it's clear to see why. In effect, the first turn of attacks it makes bypass invulnerable saves. The obvious downside is that you need to make sure that these are delivered correctly, otherwise you can end up having a player forcing you to waste them on a needless target.

Extinction Protocols (1 CP): It's a reroll all hits and wounds in shooting or melee, but it only counts for units with Destroyer in their name. Yes, that includes the Lord. Pretty good on the whole, and it can cause all kinds of hell when you have them ripping through units like there's no tomorrow.

Gravitic Singularity (1 CP): Select an Obelisk at the start of the shooting phase, and from there on the Gravitic Pulse mounted on it causes Mortal Wounds on a 4+. This turns it into the best anti-air vehicle on the Necron side of things.

Judgment of the Triarch (1 CP): A unit of Triarch Praetorians gain +1 to hit for a full turn, but it needs to be activated before shooting or fighting. It's good but not especially great and you'll usually find yourself discarding it in favour of a few more versatile options.

Phaeron's Will (1 CP): This allows you to use My Will Be Done or Wave of Command twice in the same turn. On the whole, a pretty good deal.

Quantum Deflection (1 CP): A bonus for keeping certain vehicles alive, you activate this once a model you desire to protect is targeted. From there on, you can subtract 1 from the result of rolls made against it.

Repair Subroutines (2 CP): this allows you to have certain units get back up continually throughout the turn, but you need to select a Canoptek for it to work with. This is best used with some of the more fragile choices, but it means that every time they are fired at you have an opportunity for them to get back up. It's a good deal for the right army.

Resurrection Protocols (1 CP): If your character dies roll a dice. On the result of a 4+ they will come back with one wound. This doesn't work with C'tan or Trazyn (for obvious reasons) but it does work with vehicles, so it's well worth considering if there's a good chance your hero will be bumped off.

Self Destruction (1 CP): This turns your scarabs into suicide bombers. Pick out a model from within the unit, have them run in and then select an enemy unit within 1" of it. boom. It dies and on a 2+ it deals D3 Mortal Wounds to an enemy target. You're limited to only one at a time, but with a Spyder to churn out more, it means you have a supply of kamikaze scarabs to cause all sorts of hell within the enemy army. It's immensely fun to use.

Solar Pulse (1 CP): This is another option which removes cover from an enemy target, limiting their capacity to benefit from hiding behind objects. It makes it a useful option for line-breakers.

Wrath of the C'Tan (2 CP): Star Trek puns aside, it's a good one for immediately making a bit more use of your C'tan. Roll a D6 after activating this, and select the appropriate power from the C'tan table. They then instantly use that. This can double up, allowing you to use multiple versions of that power on the same turn. It's a bit costly for something which relies on a random result, and it's still extremely situational. Again, it's one which isn't useless per-say but you might find yourself struggling to employ it in most situations.

Dynasty Specific Strategems -

These are in short supply, and they are only meant to have a slight influence in each fight. However, like the above options there's no truly bad option. Even the worst among them is still a solid bonus in the right situation. These only work with their units, of course.

Blood Rites (3 CP): A Novokh stratagem which activates at the end of the fight phase. You can then immediately launch another volley of attacks, and hurt a few more people. Time it correctly, and this can be a very good way of ripping a hole in an enemy line.

Methological Destruction (2 CP): A Sautekh one here, this activates after one of their units cause a wound on an enemy target. At this point, every single last unit from this Dynasty immediately gain +1 to hit on that unit for that phase of the turn. It's a good versatile and quite potent stratagem which can help to kill off a much stronger and expensive unit. Plus this stacks with Stalkers as well.

Reclaim a Lost Empire (2 CP): A Nihilakh stratagem which starts at the end of your turn. It requires you to select a unit from your own army and if it is within 3" of an objective or was standing still, it gains an additional attack and +1 to their saves for that entire turn.

Translocation Crypt (1 CP): A second Nihilakh one (aren't they lucky) but a much more basic option. During their deployment, you can set up one of their swarms or infantry options to Deep Strike into enemy lines even if they are not usually capable of doing so.

Talent For Annihilation (1 CP): Finally, here we have the Mephrit option on here. It works during the Shooting Phase, as you pick out a unit and then any 6 allows you to make another roll. Sadly this isn't a true "exploding sixes" option, but it massively buffs the output of firepower a single unit is usually capable of.

Faction Rules (Dynastic Codes)

Well, this was a nice surprise to have. It's not quite the old tailored option a-la chapter traits, but it is still quite a good overall bonus here. It's closer in many regards to what Space Marines usually have today, or even some of the stuff seen with things like the Overlords in Age of Sigmar. Overall, it's a nice way of giving a bit of distinction to specific groups. It's just a shame that you can't build your own as well.

Solar Fury (Mephrit): You get -1 to AP when shooting at units within half of your weapon's maximum range. It's good for close range firefights, and it's so broadly distributed among your army that you can use it to completely change your tactics. It encourages greater mobility and close range firefights, which is largely the opposite of the typical Necron method of engaging enemy forces. So, a pretty damn good one even if it's lacking further details.

Translocation Beams (Nephrekh): With this you can always advance on a 6", and a 7" when using My Will Be Done. It speaks for itself really, and it's a good option if you're relying on a relentless advance to claim objectives with infantry.

Aggressively Territorial (Nihilakh): Units that didn't move or disembark from vehicles can reroll 1s to hit when shooting. This counts even during overwatch and overall it's not one I'm a big fan of. It's good, but it doesn't do enough to change the faction's play style or forces them to utilise new methods of approaching a new foe. In terms of rules this will be welcome, but in terms of character it leaves much to be desired.

Awakened by Murder (Novokh): You can reroll every failed hit you make when a unit is charged, charges or makes a heroic intervention. Not bad really, and it does work for mass Scarab armies or the like, along with Flayed Ones. Same criticism as the above problem really, but it's not half as bad. At least this one is encouraging the player to focus much, much more on melee.

Relentless Advance (Sautekh): This one focuses on heavy weapons as it offers no penalties when firing those on the move, and when advancing all guns count as assault weapons. It's an interesting one, and the benefits to heavy weapons are good, but it feels underdeveloped. Destroyers, for one thing, gain no benefit from this and while the idea is that you're constantly moving about while firing, it doesn't really do enough to dramatically change your army's layout or how you utilise them. It's okay but that's about it.

Tactical Objectives

Pretty boring overall, barring two exceptions.

Endless Legions - The more you lose, the more you win. You need to keep track of how many successful Reanimation Protocol rolls you make, and after getting to 10, this grants you a Victory Point. It sounds odd, but it works well in combination with a few other abilities and allows you to quickly stack up Victory Points. That said, poor luck can work against you still, making any total losses hit much harder.

Dust and Ashes - It's a typical option here. If the character you pick survives the battle then you gain a Victory Point. Basic, direct and a bit boring really.

Reclaim and Recapture - Roll a D6, and if the result is odd or even results then you get D3 Victory Points for holding the relevant numbered objectives at the end of the turn. It's difficult to pull off, and the D3 element can be very, very harsh at times unfortunately.

Age of the Machine - Destroy an enemy vehicle. Yeah, that's it. The only interesting bit really is how it stacks up over time, as if you destroy three then you gain D3 Victory Points, and three extra points if one vehicle blown up counted as Titanic.

Slaughter the Living - Gain a victory point for annihilating an enemy unit. Nothing else, that's it, just wipe them out and you gain a point.

Code of Combat - it's the Highlander one, where if you have a character kill an enemy character then you gain a point.

Warlord Traits

Enduring Will: Reduce all damage inflicted on your Warlord by 1, but to a minimum of 1. A good option if you're looking for something to stack up for an extra point of defense. On its own it's okay, but you will want something extra atop of this if you end up with it.

Eternal Madness: Upon charging, you can re-roll failed wounds. This also counts for when he is charged or intervened heroically, which is overall a good bonus in most situations. A bit generic but far from useless by any means.

Immortal Pride: All friendly units of the same Dynasty from this Warlord within 6" automatially pass morale tests and can deny a single psychic power per turn. That latter point makes it easily the most potent option on this list, as they fall extremely short of psychic defenses otherwise.

Thrall of the Silent King: The Warlord's aura abilities are enhanced by 3". A nice option to be sure and given how many abilities only have a range of 3" in this army, you will usually find a use for it.

Implacable Conqueror: All units of the same Dynasty within 6" of the Warlord can re-roll charge rolls. Best left for those with melee engagements in mind, but shooting armies will find little use for this.

Honorable Combatant: Your warlord gains D3 extra attacks against another character, if he aims them all at the same target. A good buff if you're looking to go through your Warlord's opposite like a buzzsaw, and settle duels quickly. You just need to be sure that your Warlord has been built with melee in mind, otherwise it means bugger all.


Gauntlet of the Conflagrator: This is a Gauntlets of Fire variant, with a 8" range which can only be fired once per battle. On the upside it automatically strikes its target and can select multiple targets within its range. Roll a D6 for every one of those, and they suffer a Mortal Wound on a 6. This seems initially useless, until you consider what effect ti can have on massed swarms. Against twenty or even forty man units, this would inflict some horrific results before charging into battle.

Lightning Field: It offers a 4+ invulnerable save, and when in melee you roll a D6 at the start of the Fight phase. Every unit within 1" of it (enemies only thankfully) suffer a Mortal Wound on the roll of a 4+. It's an extra way of ripping apart units and hurting people all that much more, Plus, it's a nice method of self defense for some of the more fragile characters in the army.

Nanoscarab Casket: This is a one limited only to Destroyer Lords, and it grants them a fair bit more durability. Rather than regaining a single wound per turn, you recover D3 at a time. This also activates at the beginning of the opponent's turn, and the first time the bearer is killed they can revive themselves with 1D6 wounds remaining. This is a must for any army with a Destroyer Lord in it.

Nightmare Shroud: Add +1 to the warlord's standard armour save, and -1 to the Leadership of all enemy units within 6". Nice but not essential.

Orb of Eternity: This swaps out the Resurrection Orb and allows the carrier to offer a second bout of Reinamiation Protocols for any unit within 3" of the carrier. You also have +1 to the result, so for assault focused groups or the like it has its benefits. As usual, the extremely short nature of the range can work against it though.

Sempiternal Weave: It's a returning item of wargear from the Fifth Edition, and it's not exactly the same item. It now grants +1 Toughness and +1 Wounds to the carrier, which is a nice buff even if it's relatively simple in its nature.

Veil of Darkness: An odd one, this allows the wielder to activate it once per game and teleport both themselves and one other unit across the board via Deep Striking. The odd part stems from the fact it's completely free, and how it often benefits any HQ choice. There's really no reason not to take this one in almost any army, especially those with melee or close range combatants.

The Voltaic Staff: A weapon exclusive to the Mephrit Dynasty which is switched out for the Staff of Light. While it works the same as the Staff of Light in melee, it has a few bonuses in range in the form of an extra point of Strength AP and D. Oh, and every roll of a 6 while wounding inflicts a Mortal Wound. Not too shabby really, and it's a good way of inflicting some damage at arm's length if you don't want to get up close and personal.

The Solar Staff: As above, this is something which serves as a replacement for the Staff of Light, offers more firepower and is exclusive to a Dynasty, this time Nephrekh. It has a -1AP, shoots twice as much as usual and blinds infantry models on a 4+ when hitting them. So, that's a -1 to overwatch while shooting at them. Yep, another one to cause the Tau Empire all kinds of hell.

The Blood Scythe: This is a melee version which switches out the usual scythe weapons, and is exclusive to the Novokh Dynasty. It offers D3 more attacks than a usual warscythe, and that's about it.

Timesplinter Cloak: Something which isn't a weapon for once, this belongs to the Nihilakh Dynasty. Once per game you can reroll a hit, wound or damage result roll. Tis would be fine, but it also offers a Feel No Pain bonus of 5+. It's useful for the added durability as much as anything else, and it's a good way of ensuring that they stay standing long enough to inflict a bit more damage.

The Abyssal Staff: Another one which swaps out the Staff of Light and can only be carried by figures of the Sautekh Dynasty. It's the same old song and dance, of the same melee result but with some bonuses for shooting. In this case it's a 12" Assault 1 weapon which automatically hits and issues 3D6 damage. This is extremely potent in overwhelming tough armour or cracking open tough targets which are infantry more than dealing with swarm units, but it's hardly limited on options there either. Overall, probably the best among the Dynasty exclusive options.

The Verdict

Codex: Necrons is good despite a few criticisms and it does push to experiment with past concepts. On the whole, it's a good and fairly solid work in terms of basic firepower while also trying to offer a little bit extra in terms of creativity. I personally think that it could have pushed further with many points, and a few key points are ill formed and seem only partially finished. Still, it's a decent book and a well rounded, fairly balanced option which still retains all that made the Necrons fun. Well, save for the fact they were once the bane of psykers anyway.