Sunday, 10 September 2017

Know Your Enemy: Ash's Court Of The Dracon

Welcome to the first Know Your Enemy! While our new edition is still well, new, we thought it would be a good idea to give some insights into how the team behind the game play H8R. Many of the teams we'll showcase in this feature have been brought more or less directly across from HoR7, but this creation of Ash's is brand new for 8th edition. Don't let them take you alive...

When the Drukhari appeared for 8th edition, the Court of the Archon models immediately caught my attention. Single-model units of multi-wound badasses, hand picked by their despicable crime boss? Yep. I thought they'd make ideal candidates for a thematic kill team, so I set out to build my own versions of each, and then basically see what points I had left over...

The Kabal of the Lateral Thorn's "Diplomatic Envoys"

Let's start with Dracon Espina. She rocks a blaster, because at T3, 1W and no Shadow Field, she's not the best candidate to fling into melees. We keep her out of the way. The Obsidian Stone mounted in her helmet lets her attempt to deny a single psychic power in the enemy turn, a valuable piece of kit in an Opus that doesn't contain a single psyker! A Gloom Field gives a degree of protection from shooting attacks for her and her cronies, as long as they stick together. She also has a Phantasm Grenade Launcher which almost never gets used, purely because the list is 247 points without it. Lastly, the Archon's seal increases her Inspiring Presence out to 9". That comes in useful for the next bunch of villains...
Dracon Espina, First Trueborn of the Kabal of the Lateral Thorn

Ur-Ghul, Lhamaean, Medusae, Sslyth.

All of these guys get to reroll all of their Hit dice if they're inside Espina's boosted Inspiring Presence, so that's neat. They can all attempt to defend her from attacks, and the Sslyth does it best of all. Since Espina is a Kabal of the Lateral Thorn leader (as opposed to a Wych Cult or Coven of whatever leader) I can choose to take any of these guys as Core. I nominated the Ur-Ghul, her personal pet, and let the rest be Specials for better campaign survivability and the TP I'd get from filling my Specials section.

Espina's pet genestealer, with skinplanted chain and mind-shackle. Plays as an Ur-Ghul.

Lhamaean Ilex disdains the cult's usual trappings of exposed flesh and fluttering lashes, preferring the stark beauty of the kill.

The Medusae called Goire is a self-styled wizard. No true psyker, his powers flow not from the Warp but the brain parasite he carries.

Eydouxii's serpentine body provides terrifying strength and a shocking turn of speed.


The team features two Hellions from the Blizzard that Bites, a small gang of violent criminals-cum-smugglers who Espina hires from time to time when she needs a turn of speed on her side. These are my only other Core models. The ability to more or less choose their combat drugs is lovely. I normally take the Toughness boost, or the Strength one. In certain matchups though, neither are useful. Fire Warrior Tau are a prime example, where increasing Toughness from 3 to 4 means nothing against S5 weapons, and similarly, augmenting their strength from 4 to 5 wouldn't make any difference against T3 enemies. In these cases I'd take Hypex for an extra 2" move. Combined with their ability to fall back, shoot and charge, it lets these nutters cover ground like nothing else.


"Bring me their heads!"


Finally we have a pair of Trueborn, one of them sycophantically copying Espina by bringing her own (rather small) blaster. Great against pseudo-monsters, sentinels and most enemy leaders, the left-right punch of two darklight weapons doesn't often leave much behind.




To ice the cake, let's have a look at the Tactical Point potential of the list. We get:


  • 1 for having a leader. Ka-ching!
  • 1 for having a full infantry list. Another easy one, although playing without Reavers still feels weird.
  • 1 for filling up my Special section. The ability to take Court models as Core frees up as many spaces as I want, essentially, but I only needed two Trueborn to get that second blaster. (I actually only needed one, as the Dracon counts, but there's not much else to be done with the points.)


So that's a modest 3. I favour the "Keep Them Guessing" philosophy for an extra 2. With the Drukhari and rulebook stratagems to choose from, I've got more than enough tricks up my sleeve to adapt to the evolving battle without having to repeat myself.

Some notes on the models.

If you're interested, the Ur-Ghul's mind-shackle is made from a Reaver jetbike handlebar piece. His wrists are deliberately swollen and bruised, as the chain was implanted under his skin by wrapping thin strips of green stuff around his arms and building the chain directly into it. The chain links are superglued to stop the paint rubbing off as it moves. 

The Lhamaean's mail skirt and torso comes from an old dark elf spearmen kit, and her scarab beetle base is from Element Games.

Espina's blaster is a dark lance with the thin barrel chopped off. Super easy conversion for a nice oversized blaster! The skull at her hip represents the Gloom Field projector, and the back banner her Archon's Seal.

The Sslyth took a bit of work. His body is a daemon prince tail, his torso is made from two Cold One Knight torsos placed butt to butt, and fitting those things together took a bit of green stuff work. He has a Scourge head just because I thought it looked cool. His weapons are from Flagellant, Cold One Knight and Scourge sets, with an arm from the old Dark Elf spearmen and a holstered pistol from some Dark Eldar Warriors from the 90s. Couldn't resist.



Thanks for reading! If you have a beloved team you'd like to share with us, get in touch at the Facebook group for the blog or community. Happy Heralding.

- Ash

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Heralds of Ruin Introduces: The Rak'Gol

Or: Spiky Radioactive Space Lizards.

- Words by Jean-Luc Delaroute.

So here you are, wondering what kill team you're going to take rampaging through 8th edition. You're browsing the list of available factions. There are all the usual suspects... But maybe you want to try a more exotic brew this time? As you ponder, something catches your eye:



They were here all along, and you didn't even know it.

"Rak'Gol? What the hell is a Rak'Gol?"

Rak'Gol in Warhammer 40,000


The Rak'Gol are a minor official species in the Warhammer:40K universe. Their largest appearance, save for short references in other material, was as antagonists in Fantasy Flight Gaming's Rogue Trader RPG. 


If you want to antagonize the Imperium, the Rak'Gol have it all: hailing from the Ghoul Stars on the galactic north-east, they are a xenos species of chaos worshippers who occasionally invade the Imperium and harvest technology. 
The Rak'Gol, as obscure and unknowable as they are, have had their background expanded upon much more than some other alien species, and I invite you to go read Rogue Trader material, Lexicanium, and/or the Warhammer 40K wiki if you want to learn more about their history and lore. Oh, and they look like this:


Cute


Why play a Rak'Gol Kill Team?

You want to try out a faction that is outside the boundaries of 40K's usual themes. You like the Orks for their insane tinkering, but you think even they are too intelligent. You went to Chernobyl for your last vacation, and were disappointed to see the wildlife had not turned into monsters. You don't understand why Komodo Dragons are illegal to keep as pets. Your favorite movie is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and you wish Firefly had a second season. If you tick more than one of these boxes, you'll fit right in.

Playing a Rak'Gol Kill Team

Pros:
  • Rak'Gol Ambush.
  • High Strength and Toughness.
  • Large selection of melee weapons.
Cons:
  • Terrible at range.
  • Slow.
  • Low model count (unless you gorge on Youth).

Rak'Gol in HoR: Kill Team are all about encircling the foe with powerful infantry. Boasting an impressive WS3+, S4, T5, and at least two attacks on the majority of their models, combined with the ability to "deep strike" their entire roster minus one unit, they can quickly surround and overwhelm key targets in the opposing team and grind them into a paste. Most of their models are even equipped with Rak'Gol Blades, which help the massacre along by letting you re-roll failed Wound rolls against infantry. 

Still, if you really want to tie up a unit in melee, make sure to commit at least a few models: ambushing means you are charging from 9" away, and Rak'Gol that become stranded in the middle of the battlefield are unlikely to survive for very long. Youth are perfect for this task: while the rest of your units either cost a lot of points or require careful planning, Youth are a mass of bodies ready to prove themselves by swarming your enemy and pinning them in place while you position your pieces - and if your team leader is nearby, they even become semi-competent fighters in their own right.

In addition to the ability to ambush their adversaries, the Rak'Gol have another special rule that is present on the majority of their army: Hunting Frenzy. This lets your models occasionally go on a murderous rampage - specifically, when you roll 6s on your Charge rolls. One 6 means the model will make an additional D3 attacks in the following Fight phase, while a lucky double six means the model will also re-roll all failed Hit rolls for these attacks. A lot of Rak'Gol weapons are also radioactive, and, similarly to the Mechanicus' rad weapons, let you do increased damage on rolls of a 6 to wound.

Your leaders are not chumps, either: while they aren't any better at fighting than their rank-and-file counterparts (which is, admittedly, still very good), they have improved armour saves. If you have the points to spare, your team can even be led by a Broodmaster, who will be more than happy to terrorize your enemy with its three wounds and ability to make friendly models re-roll Hit rolls of 1 in melee.



Core models for the Rak'Gol are Youth, Carvers and Marauders: where Youth and Carvers are here to distract the enemy and to scout objectives, Marauders are a tough frontline unit with characteristics comparable to a Space Marine.

Your special models allow you to bring even more brute strength through Renders and their four attacks (and S5 on the charge), Stalkers, who splice Carver special rules onto a Marauder-like body, and ranged support with Murderers who compensate for their mediocre BS with more firepower than the Rak'Gol's mostly sub-par ranged weapons allow for. Their ability to fire Heavy Weapons on the move at full ballistic skill keeps them in the fight against shootier teams. 


Rak'Gol can even bring their own psyker, the Techno-Shaman, into the fray. Depending which psychic power you give it, it will be able to put a dent in large clumps of infantry, give your models the ability to ignore damage, or even copy your enemies' weapons. The presence of Techno-Shamans also powers up the last Rak'Gol special choice, Technobominations, who are normally mediocre (if very tough) fighters but become much more capable around a Techno-Shaman.



In addition to their namesake Blades, Rak'Gol have access to a large selection of melee weapons, allowing you to easily equip your models to make short work of almost any threat, especially when falling upon them through ambush. On the flipside, they combine a Space Marines-like model count with a guardsman-like BS of 4+, and a mediocre ranged arsenal means that they will usually be outclassed in a firefight, no matter who the foe, so make sure to put the shooting you get to good use. For instance, the Razor Gun is only Strength 3, but its three shots at 24" can re-roll failed Wound rolls against Infantry, helping you take out specific targets. Similarly, the Rad-Beam Cannon might "only" have a Strength of 7, but not not underestimate the potential of a 36" melta weapon!

As a Rak'Gol player you have access to a good amount of unique Philosophies and Tactical actions. Your Philosophies will reward having a battle plan in advance, such as Terror Incognita, which grants +1 TP as long as you give up the ability to use any tactical actions other than those unique to the Rak'Gol. As for these tactical actions, they help to ensure that you ambush the models you want to, thanks to the ability to deploy closer to the enemy, or improve your ranged ability by increasing the number of shots for your most basic weapons.

The Rak'Gol might be strong ambushers, but they are not without their weaknesses. They lack model variety - only Technobominations are not Infantry models, and even they do not move any faster than the rest of the army. In addition, the Rak'Gol are quite vulnerable to being ambushed themselves: if they fail to reach their targets, or if they kill their target and become stranded on the battlefield, you will have a hard time reaching the rest of the fighting while you get shot down with ranged fire. As a Rak'Gol player, you are something of a one-trick pony, but you are very, very good at that one trick. It's also easy to lose yourself in the amount of upgrades Rak'Gol have access to and to end up with not enough models to do the job. Kit your team appropriately, pick your targets well and overwhelm the enemy with brute force before they can strike back.




No models? 

The biggest obstacle to playing Rak'Gol is their lack of models and unique appearance, which means you are going to have to either proxy the models or do extensive conversion work in order to create your kill team. Your best bet for that is to tinker around with Tyranid and Skitarii parts, as well as the more Covenly aspects of the Drukhari.

 Of course, if you just want to try them out for yourself, programs like Tabletop Simulator will be more than happy to help you without having to invest in difficult conversions.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Scrutinising the Inscrutable

Welcome, Heralds, to Volume I of our (as yet unnamed) tactica collection. We'll probably end up calling it something stupid like Steel Brain.

I thought I'd start with something really niche and optional. You know, the important stuff. Specifically the new Inscrutable Objectives table which, if used correctly, can bring some properly weird superpowers to the game.

You can choose to use these thesaurus-powered Mysterious Objectives in any game of Heralds, as long as it uses objectives of some kind. In this article we'll look at some quick DO and DON'Ts, and leave you to figure the rest out on your own.

Objective Duality

As in previous editions, there are two kinds of objective in H8R: the ones you can pick up and carry, and the ones you just have to stand near. This makes a clear difference to their utility: is it good (or bad) for several models or just one? For the portable ones, you get the extra advantage of being able to take it to where it'll do the most good. For the static kind, you might be able to maximise or minimise their area of effect by placing your models closer or further away.

1. Mundane: No Effect 

Booo, right? Booo for Boooring.
Still though, it's worth thinking about. This won't help you at all, it's just more likely to get you killed since the enemy wants it too.

DO:

Give the portable version to someone who you don't mind Hiding. They'll be able to keep hold of it a lot more easily, and if they're no great shakes in the fight, you won't miss them.

Send someone worth their salt after the static version. Someone who doesn't need buffs to win a tussle. Consider reinforcing it with the Immovable Object action.

That's it. You know how to hold objectives, and we've got more interesting things to talk about.

2. Fury Siphon AKA "Come At Me, Bro!"

Your Team Leader gets to swap their Leadership and Attacks stats - for the rest of the game. You know when you get so hungry that you become extremely stupid and angry? It's that. They can only reverse the change by using a different Fury Siphon. 

DO:

Give this to your Leader. Obviously! Nobody else can benefit from it, so you might as well have the option.

Try your best to snipe the enemy leader if they spot it first and are closer to it than you. Really ruin their day.

Start killing enemy grunts as fast as you can if the enemy leader gets their forelimbs on it. You want to make them take a Rout test on that new Leadership value, which is probably around 4 if they're lucky.

DON'T:

Use this if you're approaching Rout territory! Unless you can immediately get a charge off, which could well tip the odds back in your favour.

Let the enemy TL take this off the cooling corpse of your flimsy boss. Your average Shas'ui isn't going to benefit much from this, but if that Howling Banshee Exarch gets hold of it, you'll be putting yourself back together with Blu-tack. Faced with that kind of matchup, you'd be better letting someone bigger and tougher keep hold of it, even though they can't use it.

3. Corrupted Waystone AKA "Screw you, Nerd."

Everyone is rightly afraid of psykers, but fear not less! The Corrupted Waystone is here to help. Even the lowliest of psychically-unreceptive morons can deny brain-bullets with this on side, and used properly it can be a serious threat to enemy psykers and their teams.

DO:

Keep your own psykers well away from this! Also laugh with glee if you didn't bring any and your opponent did.

Use a static one as a miniature psychic null zone.  Hold with multiple models, as far from it as you can, for maximum reach. Even if the enemy does the smart thing and keeps their psyker out of the bubble, you're doing board control! Well done!

Chase enemy psykers around with the pocket-sized one. They'll think twice about trying to Smite you if they're worrying about dragging half their team into hell.

DON'T:

Let your psyker near it. Not only is it dangerous but, if your normal less psychically-attuned models are using this to deny enemy powers, your actual psykers can be elsewhere, doing the same thing.

Get too close to an enemy psyker that you're tormenting. If that librarian goes nuclear, you want his teammates to be taking the brunt of his foolishness, not yourself.

4. Decaying Containment Field AKA "Muahaha... I'm invincible!"

An invulnerable save that gets worse every turn? This will be much more useful to some teams than others, but always ends up the same way - getting you and your false sense of security killed off.

DON'T:

Overreact. If the enemy gets their hands on this, don't go panicking and wasting your big guns on them. Anything that their new invul can soak up better than their armour could is wasted. Hit them with small arms fire or, if at all possible, just ignore them for a couple of turns while the save gets worse and worse.

Waste time playing "hot potato." I wouldn't spend turns getting it into the hands that need it most, unless it's super convenient to do so. Just position the bearer so your opponent will have a hard time not choosing them as a Primary Target, and use them as a damage tank for as long as you can.

Assume this will end well.

DO:

Make it a focal area. You want to send everyone who's going anywhere through this point - it'll look like a big, threatening force coming at your opponent, who should react accordingly by wasting a lot of bullets, and by the time the save decays to useless levels, you should be somewhere else!


5. Infra Targeter AKA "HEEERE'S JOHNNY!" 

This one might not seem like the shiniest or most exciting, but hiding is now a useful tactic, which means rooting out skulkers actually matters.

DO:

Think about the model that's hiding. If they're still hidden, but you can see them to shoot at them, it means you can see less than 50% of the model (or they wouldn't be hidden!) That means they're getting a +1 to their Save. Leave them to the big guns; Lascannon Larry and his AP -4 doesn't care what you're hiding behind.

DON'T:

Get excited at the opportunity and put Lascannon Larry in unnecessary danger. To use this most effectively you might have to do some Hiding yourself, just to get into position. That's alright though: what are they going to do, shoot at you?

6. Temporal Disruption Node AKA A glitch in the glitch in the glitch in the...

Let's do the time warp! Shoot or Fight twice; but risk a mortal wound in the process. These objectives really give with one hand and grab with the other.

DO:

Have a think about whether fighting or shooting twice is really necessary. Don't risk a mortal wound just to chop that one guardsman into even smaller pieces!

Have a couple of tactical re-rolls left in the tank, just in case.

Combine with the Unstoppable Force action/stratagem to swing twice against a charging enemy before they get to hit you at all! For the low, low price of 3 Tactical Points, you can do this and re-roll the die to avoid that mortal wound.

DON'T:

Try to take one of these off someone in the Fight phase unless you absolutely have no choice, for the reason outlined above. Shoot them. If you're a full close combat team, use overwhelming numbers to bring them down, or just keep out of their way and negate their advantage.

"But what if it's the only objective on the table?!"
That means it's static, and so you can both benefit. You're more than likely going to be the one making the charge, so make it count.

So there you have it! Have fun with the Inscrutable Objectives, and check back soon for something else. No idea what.

I'm definitely calling this feature Steel Brain.

- Ash.