Helldrake does as Helldrake pleases

Q:  Can Heldrake really do as Heldrake pleases? 
A:  Yes, Heldrake is now an Assault Vehicle.

“The Legions of the Chaos Space Marines have learned to climb onto the back of the Heldrake and ride it into battle. They launch assaults by swooping up high and then leaping down off the back of the Heldrake… DEATH (the the false emperor) FROM ABOVE!!!!!

Models “on board” a Heldrake can launch an assault after disembarking from a Heldrake. Measure from the Heldrakes base (naturally) in any direction (of course), however add 5d6 to their assault range to represent the boost they get from diving off a super-sonic Heldrake’s back. Furthermore, models on board can draw LoS from any point on the board to launch their assault.

Also, all models launching an assault will ignore cover saves, gain the Crusader special rule, have Missile Lock (to be redacted later), have Preferred Enemy (Tau), and naturally, gain Furious Charge.  Models equipped with Plasma Pistols gain the Salvo 4/8 rule.

Finally, the Heldrake himself can participate in the assault to support his passengers. The Heldrake fights in combat as a Walker. However, at the end of a round of combat, the Heldrake is not locked and instead returns to a Swooping/Gliding (player’s choice) state in the same position he was in. The Heldrake does not need to pile-in nor make a charge move nor has to be anywhere near the actual combat to participate. 

Furthermore, in subsequent turns, the Heldrake can continue to fight in any combat he was in that is still ongoing no matter where he is at on the board. 

Lastly, the Heldrake now has the Skilled Rider special rule and can be mounted on a Palanquin for 35 points.”

-Neil Gilstrap, host 11th Company
Neil’s original blog post can be found here.  I stole the whole thing in its entirety, QFT.

11th Company

I’m a fan of the 11th Company, a long running (maybe longest running) Warhammer 40K podcast.  Neil, Pat and the rest of the crew are fun guys to listen to.  Neil is the tactical genius and Pat is the face man.  By that I mean that Neil is a bigger blowhard than I am on most subjects while offering great insight into the tactical value of units and their codices while Pat arranges great interviews with interesting and exciting guests.  See what I did there?  You will…

Anyway, last week I had a bit of a geek out moment.  I was playing in a local team tournament; the last of my old daemon codex, when I got an email from Pat asking if he could interview me for their podcast.  If you have ever seen a 34 year old grown man giddy about anything then you can imagine what an idiot I looked like while telling my opponents that I was a minor internet celebrity (okay so I’m a bigger blowhard than Neil).

Well, today was a cool 40K day, my limited edition Tzeentch codex (damaged) arrived and I got a call from Pat.  Aside from what you hear on the interview I got to chat with Pat a bit about all manner of things.  He is every bit a nice over the phone as he sounds on the podcast.

The reason he originally reached out to me is that I’m in the top 40 on Rankings HQ (or at least I was at the time of writing this).  However, since the last codex is now obsolete he let me talk about my thoughts on the new codex.

So, if you haven’t heard these guys and like 40K, they are a must listen to.  I have 3 pod casts that I regularly listen to:

11th Company – focus on playing games and the tournament scene with interview and the occasional other topic
The Independent Characters – great fluff and hobby talk
Signals from the Frontline – twice weekly rumors and misc (I wish Reece would fix his audio issues)

Sportsmanship – Soft Score or Necessary Evil?

Personally, I think these 3 questions pretty much sum of the issue of sportsmanship, soft score or necessary evil?

  1. What is the genesis of the sportsmanship score at 40K tournaments?
  2. What does one hope to accomplish by scoring sportsmanship?
  3. If you score sportsmanship how do you ensure your players all follow the same guidelines?

Let me start by going on the record, “sportsmanship is of the utmost importance!”  If/when I TO a tournament, I have a zero tolerance policy for flagrant sportsmanship violations.  The issue is that TOs really can’t see enough of what is going on to adequately apply this mantra.  I’m also surprised by how many people I’ve talked to after a tournament tell me about someone who should have been given a stern lecture or even the boot but their opponent didn’t want to cause any problems by pointing out their bad behavior.  I hate to say it but passive behavior like this makes it so that jerks can get away with their bad behavior and the rest of us get penalized as a result; let me explain.

Sportsmanship often contributes to Best Overall.  It is designed to make sure people have fun.  But it is a soft score, and therefore subjective.  Really subjective; even more than paint.

A TO needs to decide if they are trying to reward good sports, keep bad sports away, or ad a wishy washy third value to best overall.  You can probably tell I’m not in favor of scoring sportsmanship.  I have to say that its been a long road getting here, but I am not.  I was a year ago…

My partner and I recently lost 3rd place at the Twin-inked tournament at Great Escape games to another team.  This team scored 1 less point than us, but had perfect sportsmanship, where as our first round opponent docked us 2 points.  Mark, the TO told everyone (who was listening) that if anyone marked their opponent full sportsmanship they would have to explain to him why.  I didn’t hear him ask anyone why later…

So, we played a good game.  I gave our opponent the benefit of the doubt on many rules issues that had I been hardcore I would not have.  We were friendly, we bought our opponents bottled water and we get docked 2 points on sportsmanship.  Did the desired effect come out from including sportsmanship in the mix?  Maybe other teams were on better behavior, but I don’t know what else I could have done.

Factor in the fact that the top table had screaming and alleged throwing of dice and both teams got perfect sportsmanship and I’m not sure where to go from here…

My message to Mark, and any TO listening: have a zero tolerance policy, walk around and enforce it, and quit asking your players to apply a poorly designed and poorly enforced scoring rubric that isn’t consistently applied no matter how much you try.  Unless you are going to rank sportsmanship and paint scores 1 to N (like win loss, or even on a curve) the models don’t work.

Questions about the new codex for a GW FAQ

Dakka is compiling a good thread on all of the questions that are being asked on the interwebs.  Here or some of my favorites.  I also go on record on how I think they should be ruled and how I think GW will rule.

I’ll keep updating this thread for a few days with my thoughts.  As someone reminded me, we should have an FAQ within 9 days.  Everyone knows Tzeentch’s number is best and since Phil and I share the same first initial and last name we must have some connection.  So, on the 9th day (which will be this coming Sunday) give or take a day we’ll have a C:CD FAQ.  Anyone want to wager on the over/under?

So, without further adieu here are some questions and two answers; the right answer/GW’s answer.  In the case where I feel the answer will be different I’ll be happy to eat my hat if GW does the right thing; however, I’m guessing they have an intern answering questions at the direction of the marketing department and/or the senior VP of sales (ala Helldrake farting out its butt).

Army Special Rules

  1. Can Feel No Pain be used against wounds caused by Daemonic Instability? yes/yes
  2. Is a Chaos Space Marine unit with the Daemon special rule and the suitable Mark of one of the 4 gods considered “Daemons of the same alignment” for the purpose of attaching Chaos Daemon Independent Characters? e.g, could a Herald of Slaanesh join a unit of Warp Talons with the Mark of Slaanesh? yes/no
  3. If ‘Punished by the Gods’ manages to kill a character that is riding on a Burning Chariot of Tzeentch or Seeker/Exalted Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh is the Chariot also removed? If not, can another Herald (with the appropriate dedication) now embark onto the rider-less chariot? no and yes/no and yes
  4. Do you decide which type of unit is arriving via ‘Summoned From the Warp’ before or after rolling to see how many models are in the unit? yes/yes
  5. Can any of the Warp Storm results that inflict hits (Rot, Glorious Rot, etc) cause damage to a zooming flyer? no/no because flyers are expensive and GW needs to sell more


  1. If a model that has a Mutating Warpblade kills an enemy Character or Monstrous Creature with a ranged attack, does the ‘Warp Mutation’ rule still apply? Or is it only from combat attacks made using the Warpblade (like the Staff of Change)? only combat/only combat
  2. For weapons that trigger an ability when the bearer kills a specific model (such as a Staff of Change or Mutating Warpblade), how do you determine who actually killed the enemy model if several different models are all striking at the same Initiative step when the enemy model is killed? this is a stupid mechanic of wound pool/roll separate wound pools
  3. If Necron Mindshackle Scarabs force a character a model with a Mutating Warpblade or Staff of Change to kill himself does the Warp Mutation/Warpdoom special rule trigger as normal? yes/yes
  4. If a weapon inflicts Instant Death on a ‘to wound’ roll of 6 (like the Axe of Khorne, for example), does the attacking model still need to have the possibility of wounding the target in order to benefit from this ability? For example, say a S4 model is attacking a T8 opponent, does he still inflict Instant Death on rolls of ‘6’? yes/yes
  5. What happens if the Doomstone lowers St. Celestine’s Ld down to ‘0’? If she resurrects does she immediately die again because she still has a Ld of ‘0’, or does she ignore the effects of the Doomstone when she returns? dead/dead – this will never get FAQ’d
  6. Can an Icon of Chaos be used to reduce (or eliminate) scatter on the same turn the unit arrives from reserve? In other words, if unit A Deep Strikes onto the table and in the same turn unit B Deep Strikes within 6″ of unit A (and meets all the necessary criteria) does unit B benefit from unit A’s Icon to reduce or eliminate their scatter? yes/no I’ll be happy to eat my hat if I’m wrong about GW’s ruling on this one
  7. Do you roll to see if a Portalglyph creates a new unit at the end of the same Movement phase that it is placed? yes/yes More importantly, will GW sell a limited edition portal glyph like the DE webway portal?
  8. Does the Blade of Blood still grant the bearer ‘Rampage’ even if a different weapon is used to attack in that round of combat? no/no

Psychic Powers

  1. Is the Feel No Pain +1 bonus provided by Warpflame cumulative throughout the course of a game? For example, can a unit that starts the game with Feel No Pain (5+) have it improved up to (3+) after passing its Toughness test against Warpflame wounds in two separate shooting phases? If so, can a unit have its Feel No Pain improved to a (1+) and does this mean it automatically passes its Feel No Pain rolls? yes and max FNP 2+/yes and max FNP 2+ however, if this ever happens you need to give back your daemon card and get a new army.
  2. Does the +1 Strength bonus from the Exalted Locus of Conjuration apply to ancillary hits caused by their psychic powers, such as the bonus Soul Blaze hits or hits caused by a vehicle they manage to explode? no, but it does apply to hits from the blasted standard/what I said


  1. Are the Masque and the Blue Scribes really not supposed to be considered Heralds (for the purpose of taking up to 4 Heralds as a single HQ choice)? not Heralds/not Heralds (I had to think about this one because making them Heralds will sell more models, but since the Masque is old and the Blue Scribes already sold a ton, the best answer – from a sales perspective that screws players by forcing you to buy cool new models – not Heralds.
  2. Does Fateweaver’s Staff of Tomorrow allow him to re-roll a D6 that an opponent originally rolled? yes/no Come on, Fateweaver lost his bubble and needs to be the coolest model in the game so of course it should work, but it won’t.
  3. When the Masque performs the Dance of Caging, should you roll a single D3 and apply that to all moves the target unit tries to make, or roll a separate D3 each time the unit tries to move? separate D3 for each phase/separate
  4. Should the Masque’s Dance of Caging movement limitation apply to a Bike/Jetbike unit’s Turbo-boost movement and/or the Thrust Move for a Jet Pak unit? yes/no answering yes would admit that the rule was poorly written; however, they will FAQ in that the Masque (if played with a counts as Herald of Slaanesh model) gets to use an AP3 torrent weapon instead.


  1. Is the -1 Ld penalty for a Fiend’s ‘Disruptive Song’ cumulative? If so, is this calculated per Fiend model or per unit? For example, if a psyker is within 12″ of 4 Fiend models (all part of the same unit) would he have a -4 Ld penalty? Or if the psyker was within 12″ of two Fiend units, would he have a -2 Ld penalty (regardless of how many Fiend models from each unit were within 12″)? yes, cumulative per unit/no only -1 regardless  But seriously, for how expensive a Fiend model is, it should be per model.  Further more, once GW realizes that changing the answer to yes, for each model, will increase sales we will never see plastic Fiends.
Fast Attack
  1. Does a Screamer’s Lamprey Bite replace all bonus attacks the model has as (such as the +1 attack for charging, for example), or just its base attacks? They should get the +1 bonus from charging/GW will say no
  2. Are cover saves allowed from a Screamer’s Slashing Attack and if so, is the determination of whether or not a model is in cover calculated from the final position of the Screamers similar to a shooting attack? no, wasn’t this already covered in the daemon FAQ?/no
Heavy Support
  1. Does the Burning Chariot of Tzeentch really need to remain stationary to fire the Blue or Pink Fire of Tzeentch as non-snap shots (as they are a Heavy weapon and the Exalted Flamer is an embarked Infantry model)? no/no What a bone head maneouver.  Need to sell models, fix quickly.  This will be the answer that gets the FAQ out the door in 9 days.  I’d imagine the answer will be treat as if the weapon is mounted on the vehicle but use the Ex. Flamer’s BS.


  1. (basic rulebook question) What happens in close combat if a model has an Initiative of 0 (as can happen due to a Fiend’s ‘Soporific Musk’, for example)? Do they not make an Initiative Step Pile-in and not attack? They do nothing/your head implodes from the recursive rules conundrum.  Seriously though, who cares, Fiends are so 5th edition  😉

First thoughts with the new Daemons

After spending last week reading both German copies and photos of the real thing, followed by actually getting my iPad copy Friday night and then playing the old codex on Saturday I got to give the codex a whirl today.  First thoughts:

  • Damn, that’s a lot of psykers.  I have to learn a new phase of the game.
  • What, no…  You can’t double me out I have Eternal wa….  Oh, crap, you’re right.
  • Oh yeah, I forgot to roll on the Warp Storm table, hang on a second.
  • I need more and multiple colors of tokens to mark war charges, warp flames and soul blaze.
  • There aren’t enough psychic cards in the deck for me to use that much divination.
  • I need cards for the Daemonic Rewards so that I can put them next to the models.
  • Discs are jet bikes?  Let’s see what I can do with screamers.
  • Wow, 30 minutes of set-up and rolling dice and we’re now just starting the game…
I got to play a 1500 point game against a local Dark Angel player, Hunter.  I’ve never played against him before and we were both doing a little learning.  Here is the list I played; since I had to make it by hand I hope my math held up.

Army List

Tzeentch Herald – ML2, Ex. Locus Conj., Gr. Reward – 110
Tzeentch Herald – ML2, Ex. Locus Conj., Less Reward – 100
Tzeentch Herald on Disc – ML1 – 70
Tzeentch Daemon Prince w/ wings – ML1, Gr. Reward – 250
20 Pink Horrors w/ Blasted Std and Instrument – 210
20 Pink Horrors w/ Blasted Std and Instrument – 210
3 Flamers of Tzeentch + Pyro Caster w/ Gr. Reward – 117
3 Flamers of Tzeentch + Pyro Caster w/ Gr. Reward – 117
3 Flamers of Tzeentch + Pyro Caster w/ Gr. Reward – 117
Fast Attack
9 Screamers – 225
Tzeentch Soul Grinder w/ torrent and plehgm – 190~1500 points

Battle Report

The game went to 6 rounds and was separated by a single VP.  We played Big Guns/Vanguard.  He brought a shooty DA foot list with 2 vindicators, 2 dreadnoughts with missiles and lascannons, a small melt bike squad and a command squad with the banner of devastation.

Objectives – three objectives equally space right down the middle of the no man’s land.  The left objective was adjacent to a Shrine of the Aquila, the center was in the Blasted Landscape (dangerous terrain) and the right was next to a impassable column.  Locations turned out to be key later in the game.

Deployment – he deployed gun line style with his command squad behind LOS blocking terrain, and his librarian joined to a Tac squad manning a quad gun.  Both that squad and another were behind a long wall of Aegis DL.  His dreadnoughts were placed in upper levels of ruins, so they were stationary for the game and the deployed vindicators on each flank.  His third tac squad deployed far left.

I deployed (what the heck is deploying BTW) a horror blob squad center left, daemon price far left (on foot), soul grinder center and screamers far right.  The screamers got a ML Herald in disc and the two foot squads each got ML2 Heralds on foot.

Turn 1
My opponent failed at seizing the initiative.  I walked forward with the blob squad and soul grinder, flew the DP up behind the Shrine of the Aquila and moved the screamer forward; after buffing the DP and the blob squad.  My first warpstorm roll resulted in the Khorne attack which did a little damage to my opponent.  I shot at the squad with the Libby, who denied the witch.  I could see the random daemons going downhill quick.  The screamers slashed at a tac squad taking about half the squad out.  The SG killed a few marines with phlegm.

Then I learned how nasty the banner of devastation was.  Holly crap that was a ton of shots.  My screamer squad was taken down to half strength only do to some lucky rolling.

Turns 2/3
I had a turn of +1 inv followed by a turn of -1 inv saves.  Squads of 4 flamers are still pretty nasty, but will not wipe a tac squad by themselves any longer, but the warpfire will take another 2 models on average one in three times (6+ FNP isn’t too bad, so plan to wipe a squad in 2 turns).  I flamed the DA command squad and killed the banner (and the rest of the squad).   A good turn of Pink Horrors shooting with the blasted standard is devastating to your opponent.

I took some pretty good damage on the Horror squad, down to ML2.  The Soul Grinder didn’t make it past turn 3.  The screamers made an assault and did their job.  I mishapped my other blob squad, which my opponent relegated to the back of my deployment zone.  I got to spend the entire game moving and running to claim an objective.

Turns 4/5
The DP vector struck a vindicator and proceeded to get shot to pieces failing all his saves.  Not worth his points.  But, I cleaned up the rest of his scoring units save one and a vindicator.  The other vindicator tried to claim the far right objective, but I was able to contest with a squad of flamers.  I took mass casualties running through dangerous terrain trying to claim the center objective, but made it.

Turn 6
The game ended on turn 6.  I was able to tie my opponent on objectives and won due to having won first blood.  What a game.  I felt like a newb playing this army.  I’m sure I screwed up plenty of things.

A few mistakes I made:

  • Phlegm is now ordinance, which means if the Soul Grinder fires it all other weapons are fired as snap shots.
  • Remember how many warp charges you have and what you want to do.

Final Game Thoughts

Necrons and Daemons are ever so slightly less cheesy.

Yesterday was the final outing for my old daemons.  I say final because I don’t think I’ll be playing in any tournaments in the next 28 days or so, and I think that the local tournament scene generally has a 30 day window on codex releases.  Anyway, my friend Andy and I teamed up for a local team tournament at Olde World Gaming in Elk Grove, CA.  Andy plays Necrons and Dark Angels, and neither very often.  We went into the day with the thought of finishing in the mid/upper tier but I wasn’t expecting 3 wins.

The first game was against a newer player, and while he put up a good showing it wasn’t really a fair match.  He was the ringer playing a single 2k point list against our Necron/Daemon list.

The second game was against a local favorite and his brother.  It was Space Marine bikes and Tau against us in Vanguard.  This was a much harder fought win, but still a win.  There are games like that one where everything goes my way and I see that my flamers are just awesome.

The last game was a knock down drag out “mirror” match where we fought Necrons and Tyranids.  It was Dawn of War and every turn ebbed and flowed.  At any given point the game could have gone either way.  We ended up pulling out a narrow victory, unlike the first two games.  The win earned me a Burning Chariot model, which presents its own set of issues (embarked passenger firing heavy weaponry, d’oh!).

So, when I look back at my experience this last year with my daemons I see a mixed bag.  I did well with them in 5th edition, but not awesome.  That said, I only started playing 40k again a little over 2 years ago, so I consider myself still learning.  The changes to the flamers and screamers made my army better, no doubt, but did it make me a winner?  I can’t say for sure, but it didn’t hurt my odds.

Changes that would have lessened the sting from the nerf bat

I’m going to focus on Tzeentch and things that would have lessened the sting of the change IMHO.

  • Give all units that start on the board scout.  Seriously, we’re daemons that errupt from the warp.  Placement should be scary for the opponent.  This compromises between normal deployment and complete deepstrike.  Most units would get a 6″ move.
  • Allow Ld tests for pshycic powers to be taken on the modified Ld even if it takes it higher than 10.  Fateweaver is the boss.  He lost his reroll bubble, don’t make him fail psychic tests 3/36 times.  He should auto pass, but still take perils.
  • -1 to opponents DTW.  Seriously, the average marine unit should not get a 1/6 chance to shut down psychic shooting from a daemon (made of the warp).
  • Daemons should be able to manifest witchfire for overwatch.

I can pretty much live with everything else.  Yeah, there is stuff I don’t like, but these few changes would make the stuff that isn’t supposed to be wonky and unreliable a little more paletable.

What do you think?

Pink Horrors Point Efficiency (part 2)

In the early day of 6th edition screamers and flamers were the damage dealers in an all Tzeentch army, but you were forced to take Pink Horrors to round out the army and score objectives.  Most daemon players would take other troops choices, but I remained true to my devotion to the changing tides of the aether.  I liked taking them in squads of 10-20 to keep them alive and deal some damage. I routinely ran a large blob squad of 19 horrors and the Changeling plus a Herald.  This was a mixed bag.

Survivable 4++ save (rerolled near Fateweaver)
Massed fire (60+ shots at 18″)
Great overwatch potential (often poor actual results)

Large deepstrike footprint
360-455 points that can mishap
Low BS shooting

Now that I have a copy of the rulebook I can confirm the rules that have been leaked before.  Namely that they are now 9 points, minimum squads of 10 and gain ward charges as the squad size increases.

One big drawback is the loss of overwatch, but this is countered with the increased 6″ range on the shooting attack.

I’ll compare their efficiency against terminators, marines and guard.  Given that flamers and screamers were majorly hurt by the new codex the horrors will have to stand up to various threats if a Tzeentch mono-build is to remain viable.

Some complained that my comparison before factored in disproportionate squad sizes, and while this was true the point per kill levelled the playing field.  This time I will compare squads of the same point cost to please the nay-sayers.  It just so happens that you can get 17 new horrors for the same cost as 9 old horrors.  Since 9 is the number of Tzeentch there must be something to this…

So, on the numbers, the unit is less efficient than it was before, but arguably has “maybe” some more flexibility depending on which phychic power you roll for.  The problem here is that before you could take a single bolt in a 5 horrors squad and camp an objective and provide some minimal anti-tank/air.  Now you take a large footprint unit that has a single power.
As you’ll see below adding a Herald becomes a must have if you want similar results as before (which wasn’t awesome to begin with).
Now, if you add a Herald into a squad you can slightly outperform the old horrors on MEQ killing, but TEQ and GEQ remain poor by comparison.  The way this comparison works if with the Presence of Conjuration (+1 strength) and using Presience to re-roll your hits.  On avergae you will kill just about 3.5 MEQ in your first turn of shooting.  Then you had better charge your screamers in to finish up the squad, because as soon as 3 of your horrors die your shooting falls of the cliff (- 25% effectiveness).
Now, all of that being said all it takes is a D6 deny the witch to shut you down entirely.
I asked for random, but never in my wildest imagination did I see the much needless random.

Breaking the compact with the gamer

Games Workshop has gone and done it again.  No, not raising their prices, but I’m sure we’re in for that again soon (insert sarcasm here).  This time I propose that they have done the unforgiveable.  GW has broken the sacred compact with the gamer, they have changed rules explicitely to make sales.

What’s that you say?  Everyone does this?  Well, I will agree that this is not uncommon when versions of a game are released, but there is an unspoken agreement between the gamer and GW that a new codex or new edition with shake thing sup and then you (the gamer) can expect a slow decline in the ability of your highly priced models over the course of a few years before they become good again.

A few months back GW released new Flamer and Screamer models in plastic and a White Dwarf rules update.  What is truly amazing is that from reading the updates and the new codex at the same time you can tell that GW already had the codex done.  The WD update made flamers and screamers too good to pass up (thus selling losts of models) and then turned around a few months later once the models were sold and reduced their ability by an order of magnitude (100% worse or more).

I’m not upset that the new rules are underpowered.  I think they’re a little more realistic now, but I am upset that we see such a blatant change of rules once they made their sales (and in such a short order).