17 December 2017

Shadespire: First Play Through

Finally after a lot of reading, video watching and theory-crafting, I got my first game(s) of Shadespire. Ryan joined me for a game evening and we decided to give it a run out. The beauty of this particular game is that it is very quick to play so we managed to get all of our 'best of three' games played in an evening. Ryan chose Khorne's Bloodbound so I took the Stormcast Eternals.

As you'd expect, the first game was slow as we both walked our way through the rules – it still only took an hour! I had the distinct advantage of knowing how the rules should play, but of course things always pan out a little different once you actually get stuck in. With their ability to one-shot their opponents, the Eternals quickly dispatched the Bloodreavers, 1–0 to me.

The second game was much more cautious to begin with as Ryan had grasped the fact that his guys were struggling to hit so had to support their brethren in assault. Alas his ability to roll 'swords' on the dice (in complete contrast to rolling a Dodge in Imperial Assault with the same odds) was almost nonexistent. The Bloodreaver lost their second game, however, games are won by glory points not models remaining and the score was a little closer this time.

Despite me having technically won the 'best of three' we continued into game three and things got very interesting. Ryan clearly had a plan, and the cards to back it up, but I had singled out his low wound characters and in a matter of minutes he was down a couple of bloodreavers. The difference this time was that he had clobbered one of my Eternals down to his last wound and another was surrounded. She too was mauled down to her last wound and managed to survive a little longer thanks to me exhausting my power card hand. She had got rid of most of her opponents and was now one on one. Unfortunately Ryan was not about to miss the chance of inflicting his first kill – rolling 3 crits!! – and it was impossible for me to avoid some damage.

Not longer after my other wounded Eternal died and, after some heavy counter attacking, we were down to one man apiece and Ryan had taken a rather healthy 2 point lead. We were down to the final phase and Ryan did the sensible thing and bravely ran away, know my move of 3 would not get me within range. I had three activations I could do nothing with and the game ended with Ryan taking his first win.

Excellent game evening. Very exciting. It was easy to get carried away killing the opposition but as I learned to my cost in game three, it's objectives that will win you the game. Ryan had played a very tactical final round and now has a solid handle of how things work. It will not be so easy to beat him again. For me I found the Stormcast much like the Butchers in Guildball – they kill things so easily you don't really think about the objectives. I'm looking forward to switching things up with the other two warbands I own. Lots of flexibility in the game, very solid gameplay – quite a genius little game I have to admit – and it's so quick to play!! You can get a game in 20 minutes (depending how things go of course).

Another game soon hopefully!

07 December 2017

Shadespire Orcs – They're Very Green!

I know I said in the previous post that there may be a new purchase soon, but even I didn't expect it within 48 hours. A fortuitous need to go to town during my lunch hour yesterday saw me drift by the GW store on the off-chance they had the Shadespire Orcs in stock. Needless to say they did, and the associated green dice, and before I knew it I had completed (for now) the set of available Shadespire warbands and coloured gem dice.

Now, as you may know I am not an Orc/Ork player – never have been, never had any interest in them. Yet, whilst I was sticking them together I took in all the detail on the models and I really like them. I think the poses are a little more clumsy than the other warbands, but maybe that's an Orc thing. Bull has expressed his dislike of the new armoured Orcs on several occasions, but seeing them in their bare green plastic I began to wonder whether it was the gaudy yellow paint scheme that's put on them by GW that's putting him off. The models themselves are rather cool (I think) and if done in a black/rusty metal (i.e. traditional Ork) colour scheme they could look awesome.

One of the most interesting things I discovered, having all four warbands together on the desk, was the variety in model sizes. The scale of the individual warband seems to almost be a correlation with the number of models in the warband. For example – the Liberators and Ironjawz are by far the largest models and have 3 and 4 models in their respective warbands, the Bloodreavers come next in size and have a warband of 5, then the Skeleton Guard are quite small and are 7 in number.

Models aside, the real star of the show is the gaming board artwork. Having compiled the gaming boards for Aetherium, I take a lot of interest in seeing how others solved problems we also had – these are very effective boards indeed. The underlying artwork is simply stunning, yet doesn't detract from the grid, it's all nicely balanced.

I have to say I think the starter box is really good value at £35-40 (depending upon where you purchase), and the game itself is neat and compact both in terms of core box content and expansions (unlike Imperial Assault which is taking over my gaming cupboard).

I hear two additional warbands have been announced – Dwarves and Skaven, the latter can be found on YouTube somewhere – and I was told today that there will be another Liberator warband (with crossbows?) and another Khorne warband (with a boss who has a daemon pet). To be honest, none of these really tickle my fancy, so I'm more than happy with the 4 warbands I have!

Perhaps for the first time, there is nothing hobby related that I want for Christmas!

05 December 2017

Scaling Things Back With Shadespire

Well I managed to go the whole of November without posting, mainly due to not much happening.

There's been no 40k gaming since August, and no Imperial Assault since the very beginning of November. Even the buying of Imperial Assault gear has stopped as the initial 'thirst' subsided. In fact it's been a veritable hobby desert for the last four weeks.

I've been doing various bits of reading, mostly about the new Necromunda, but the thought of having another box set full of 20+ models that needed building and painting made me light-headed. After an initial flurry of painting my Dark Templar Primaris marines back in October (and to be fair most of them are now purple), my painting mojo has gone – I've even sold off some of the unpainted Primaris models, including the enormous Redemptor Dreadnought. Gone too are several Zombicide Black Plague survivor models as I attempt to clean house and claw back some of the funds spent.

However, never one to pass on new shinies, GW's Shadespire caught my attention and I had to investigate further. Given that the mechanics are not dissimilar to Imperial Assault Skirmish (and sums up what I've been trying to do with Dark Crucible all these years), it held my attention long enough to watch a game or two online and buy the box set.

To be blunt, the models are stunning and considering they're push-fit (not that I didn't use glue myself), I'm so very impressed. Lots of character and movement – everything I've been crying out for in models for… well, decades. In fact I was so impressed I ordered the Sepulchral Guard expansion to get my hands on more. Of course I had to have the corresponding coloured dice – call it a Christmas present to myself. Games Workshop really do have the quality and presentation thing sorted – in that respect they are the Apple of the gaming industry.

I don't know if I'll ever get to play Shadespire, but I like the idea of the mechanics and I love the setting, game board art and the models. I always wanted to dip my toe into the new-look Warhammer AoS without investing lots of money and time – this may be the solution. I am still missing the Orks expansion, mainly because I've never bought Orks before it never entered my head!

Don't be surprised to see another expansion purchase soon!

18 October 2017

Hobby Update: Space Marines and Darth Vader

The blog may have sat idle for a month but hobby things have actually been good overall during September and into October.

Whilst it's been nearly 2 months since my last game of 40k I made the decision mid-September to get as much purple paint on my Dark Templar Primaris marines as I could. Inevitably this has faltered a little since the arrival of Imperial Assault, but I did manage to get my 7-man Intercessor unit complete but for detailing (above). I'm very pleased with the way I stuck at it through the tedious process of painting space marine armour.

The belle of the ball, however, has been Imperial Assault. It became something of an addiction over the last month, finding new purchases arriving almost every day. We had a demo day at the end of September as part of my annual birthday gaming day, playing the Skirmish version exclusively. I had done my research, mostly watching YouTube videos of others playing the game, but it gave me a good idea of how the game played and even useful tactics and team construction.

With something so Star Wars orientated, containing such great character models, I had to start painting them. Of course it was the Imperials who found their way to the front of the paint queue first and I've had some fun painting models from the core box.

Gaming-wise I've had a total of 4 games now, against 2 different opponents, and the honours are even. My opening game saw a close match against Mr Awdry's Rebels – it came down to the wire and ended when Luke shot Darth Vader in the back (several times) in a very cowardly fashion. Game two saw a tweaked Imperial list face off against Mr Awdy's Scum bounty hunters. Another close game with Vader managing to carry the victory home. My third game on birthday game day saw a first game for Fugs who dropped by to see what the fuss was about. Vader again managed to dominate (and hang on to his last few wounds) for a solid victory.

Fugs bounced back this week however with a keenly fought game. My non-Vader Imperial list had fought back from a poor start and the game went down to the wire. Kayn Somos and an Imperial Guard trying to finish off Luke and Gideon Argus. With Argus hiding well away from the fight Fugs pulled off a genius move, playing the Son of Skywalker card at the perfect time, giving Luke 3 consecutive activations without the chance of a response. My Imperial boys couldn't weather that volume of shooting and Fugs got his revenge.

It's a brutal game, and it didn't take long for us to get into a flow. There are a lot of special rules, but a fraction of those in 40k or Malifaux, so a couple of games in and we're flying. Next we want to look at the Campaign version of the game, though that looks a might more complicated.

I've had a week's break from hobby things now, so looking to jump back in. Looking forward in particular to painting more of my Dark Templar Primaris marines, and maybe even some of my Nurgle!!

Stay tuned.

20 September 2017

Imperial Assault – I Blame Mr Awdry!

It's been a few weeks since the last game of 40k and a new suitor has crept into view.

Imperial Assault by FFG has been on my radar since the day it was first announced 3+ years ago. I had been enamoured with X-Wing for a while so when I heard they were doing character miniatures I was over the moon ("that's no moon, it's a space station!"). I had collected lots of WotC Star Wars miniatures many years ago, and lost them (long story), so this was perfect. However, knowing it would be a complete money sink and unsure how much I would actually play the game (I don't get to play X-Wing much) I somehow managed to stay clear.

Then our good friend Mr Awdry announced that he had "accidentally" acquired Imperial Assault – not only that but the photos displayed on his website betrayed the fact that he had bought at least a couple of expansions and a host of boosters as well! He told me about how wonderful the models were and how fantastic the game was. Zombicide meets Star Wars – two of my favourite things in one game.

Mr Awdry even sent me photos of the amazing miniatures

I was starting to wobble in my hardline stance against a purchase. Then I made a fatal mistake… I downloaded the rules to read. Then I went onto the Chaos Cards website (our local store) and saw everything Imperial Assault related was cheaper there than anywhere else. I couldn't help myself. My finger slipped and before I knew it I had ordered some character boosters.

With the core box game due to arrive in the next 48 hours I picked up aforementioned boosters from the post office today and paraded them about the office desk, basking in their Star Wars goodness.

But you see it doesn't stop there – oh no!

Having just resigned myself to a new board game in the cupboard, with plenty of expansions and boosters to collect, I discovered the hype about a new game due early next year…

Star Wars: Legion is a miniature wargame, akin to 40k by what I am reading. It would appear that this is the miniatures game I have been looking for my entire life!! If I am able to field an army of Imperials with a few bounty hunters and Sith thrown in for good measure I think I may have died and gone to heaven. Rules are due online prior to release, but having seen some demos on YouTube there would appear to be a similarity with X-Wing.

That'll do me – heaven awaits!

30 August 2017

The Trouble With Big Mechs…

Last night saw the latest game in our 40k 8th Edition education.

Once more, the might of the Dark Templar marines faced up to the hordes or Bull's Orks. I was expecting Bull to mix things up this week and had prepared a tasty surprise for him. However, to my own surprise he had almost the same list as last week, but with a few tweaks.

Gone was the Morkanaut (yeah!!!) but it was replace by a Gorkanaut (boooo!) – this turned out to be a problem for me, which I will go into a little later. The big unit of Stormboyz had been broken down into 3 smaller units, and his Wierdboy now had the Jump spell. This would mean that not only would I have 3 units of Stormboyz and a unit of Kommandos sneaking into my front porch, Bull could in effect teleport any unit of infantry he pleased to join them!

Things were going to get close and personal very quickly!!

I had taken some advice from Daniel Grundy after my last battle and employed my two close combat Scout units as buffers to make sure these Orky infiltrators couldn't get close to my main force – and it worked a treat. I held my Reivers and Inceptors in reserve, just like the last game, so that they could have a glorious entrance in a few turn's time. I had left the flame-wielding Aggressors at home – didn't want to become too reliant on them. However, expecting some mech I had brought the Hellblasters, an Assault Cannon Dred, a Plasma Cannon Dred and the king of them all… a Primaris Redemptor Dred.

Yes, that's right, I had spent three consecutive evenings trying to built this bad boy in time – it's one hell of a kit (a little over complicated and over articulated is you ask me… it was only missing some Action Man Eagle Eyes!).

He had a blistering array of weaponry, but weighing in at over 200 points I was paying a premium. Would he live up to the hype, or turn out to be another passenger from the space marine stable?

I had brought two Librarians – the cheapest HQs I could get hold of to ensure 7 Strategy Points. I camped them and a 6-man unit of Intercessors on my own Objective. I had the Hellblasters sitting is a crater with a full view of Bull's Gorkanaut and my Dred holy trinity sitting behind some woods in the centre. I had positioned my Razorback on the far right to zoom up the flank and take Bull's Objective from the Grots. This was going to be an exciting fight with plenty more lessons for sure!

Without going into tonnes of detail, it was one of our best fights yet. I opened proceedings by dropping an Orbital Bombardment into Bull's deployment zone – a sneaky manoeuvre, that hit 6 units. Alas it killed one of the Boyz and took a Wound off the Warboss. Gave Bull a scare though!

I got a good round of shooting into the nearest unit of 30 Boyz (sorry, 29 – one got obliterated from orbit!). Despite losing over half their number they were undeterred. The Orks marched on, and before I knew it I had 2 units of Stormboyz in my face and a unit of 25 Boyz had Jumped behind me. I brought on my reserves a little earlier than intended, but with a concentrated round of Shooting all the Boyz and one unit of Stormboyz were gone – I had lost 4 Scouts.

The Reivers were on fire, charging 11" twice during the gaming, taking out the Banner Boy and the Wierdboy before being mashed completely in a single melee attack from the Gorkanaut. The Hellblasters on the other hand had failed to wound the big Orky mech in multiple rounds of shooting and were down a man going into the final stages. The last of the Ork reserves appeared, making a final push for my Objective, but they faltered and were wiped out for the loss of 5 Scouts and 2 more Hellblasters.

By now I was beginning to complain about the imperious nature and abilities of the Gorkanaut for a comparative bargain basement price. I couldn't touch the thing, in shooting or melee. I decided to use my next turn as an experiment and had every available unit, regardless of weapon, shoot at the Ork giant.

I rolled a total of over 90 dice to hit this thing and took 5 wounds off it… 5!!… out of the 18 it started with!!

I then charged my Plasma Dred into it, survived the sick amount of Overwatch fire that came at me, and with Strength of 12 vs Toughness of 8 failed to wound it with 3 Hits. My Dred was killed twice over in the return attack.

However, Bull was on the ropes by now and even a gallant charge at my Warlord Librarian by his Warboss (taking 4 Wounds off my leader) wasn't enough to save the day. He had his Gorkanaut left on half wounds and his Grots untouched (and pretty much ignored all game). I had lost 9 Scouts, a Dred, 3 Hellblasters, 5 Reivers (their heroic charge into the Gorkanaut will remain a legend… just not what happened next!)


After my complaining I was still struggling to devise a suitable way to take down the Gorkanaut. Some reading up revealed that (potentially) 3 shots from a Lascannon would do the trick – however, with close to 100 Orks running around I don't want to be spending points on Lascannons! Dilema indeed.

My Reivers and Inceptors are cool (though the latter got bogged down in combat, they're definitely a shooty unit). The Librarians didn't do much aside from kill the Warboss, wasting a hideous number of Psychic rolls by failing a basic target of 6.

The rest of the army was pretty solid. I'm learning that choosing the right unit to fight with in melee (after the chargers have been) can be quite key to turning the game. Choose badly and you can lose units before they've had a chance to strike back.

The big, bad Redemptor Dred was awesome. I swear he killed half of Bull's Boyz by himself. He didn't get to have a go in combat as I wasn't going toe to toe with the Mork after the other Dred dropped so easily.

Where do we go from here?

25 August 2017

The Orks Keep Coming!

Having fought off a veritable legion of Orks in our last game of 8th Edition 40k, I turned up at Bull's this week to discover even more… and a Morkanaut!

After a two-week break we jumped back into 40k, ably supported by Bull's fantastic new gaming mat. Our game of Congo with Mr Awdry has really spoilt us and we're looking to recreate the battlefield at Awdry Towers, though we've some way to go yet. Having said that the new mat makes a world of difference and is a pleasure to roll dice upon – even if there are still a lot of 1s in there!

Despite upgrading our game to 1500 points, my army looked very much the same as last time. I had introduced some units of Scouts to try and get some extra Strategy Points and to finally try out the Snipers I've had for years. We deployed in quarters and I found myself (as usual) back in the corner babysitting an Objective. The truth is I had nothing to seriously hurt the Morkanaut, and given there was a Big Mek in there healing it of the few wounds I could inflict, I was struggling to see where a win might come from.

Again, Bull had brought his legions, with a gang of Grots to hold the Objective in his own quarter. I had also brought my 3 Inceptors to see how they might possibly pay back their expensive points cost. There would be lessons learned today!

I had taken the Raven Guard tactics, meaning Bull was 6's to hit me with shooting attacks if more that 12" away. This turned out to be crucial as the Morkanaut would hit almost nothing during the game.

As has been the form thus far, Bull dropped his Stormboyz into my front porch – although this time he waited a couple of turns to give the rest of the Orks time to catch up. He decided to charge into my frontline, which included the Aggressors, and he got to see the firepower they wield. The Stormboyz took a withering hail of fire, then failed their charge. I got to burn them again in my next turn as the initial Ork strike faltered badly.

I dropped scouts in to take the Ork Objective but knew a unit of Kommandos would likely turn up to counter… but I went ahead anyway. I shot and hacked down the Grots (despite taking a casualty to Grot shooting) but hit a wall with the Runt Herder. Then the Kommandos arrived and I was in a bit of trouble there.

Back on the front line the Orks were getting closer (or rather the Morkanaut was getting perilously close) and I decided to ignore it and throw everything I had at the 2 big units of Boyz. My scout snipers had done nothing all game (clearly not capable of hitting the 20ft metal barn door stomping towards them), so I supported them with the arrival of Reivers and Inceptors. Both made an immediate impact – the Inceptors pumped out a hideous number of shots, killing 5 Boyz in their first round of shooting despite them having 4+ invulnerable saves.

On the other side the Aggressors and Razorback leaped forward, firing into the other big unit of Boyz, before charging into combat. The Orks had endured a horrible couple of rounds of casualties from the shooting and melee of the marines. Bull was in danger of only having his Morkanaut and a few Characters left, so we called it a day and talked through the game.


Bull came away from this week with a book full of lessons learned. His Morkanaut was not worth the points spent – a Gorkanaut (without all the guns) would be a much better solution especially if it was full of troops and running up the board. His Boyz failed some crucial Advance and Charge rolls (some of which he could have re-rolled with hindsight) and this caused his offensive to falter.

I need to keep faith in the marines, their guns and my dice rolling. Whilst not always blistering, my dice did a decent job this game (clearly no white or green dice present!), and eventually the numbers told. I even forgot to shoot my Aggressors twice for standing still – that could have racked up in the region of 40 dice that hit automatically (nasty, nasty, nasty) and the whole reason I took them in the first place.

The scouts were quite a waste across the board, although a cheap way to get extra Strategy points that came in handy. The Reivers continue to contribute just enough at crucial times and hang around long enough to be a pain. I need to consider the prospect of mech appearing across the board from me, so there will be a change needed in this week's game!

Till next time.

06 August 2017


In a complete departure from the current gaming theme, we headed off to the jungle yesterday. Bull and I trundled down to the south coast to Awdry Towers to partake in a game or two of Michael's current passion project—Congo.

Let's start by saying that Mr Awdry had a table set up the likes of which I have only seen in rulebooks. It was exquisite. He has spent the bulk of his summer break creating terrain features and painting models for a day such as this and it was an absolute pleasure to take part. Not only did the gaming table (which included a swamp gaming mat from Deep Cut Studios) set the scene, you felt completely immersed in the adventure as you played. Kudos to Mr Awdry for what can only be described as the most professional demo game ever. I won't go into any detail about the individual terrain pieces, as Michael has a host of blog posts coming up to explain how he did it!

Congo, the game itself, was an unknown quantity to me going in. Michael had been kind enough to send us PDFs during the week to provide a backdrop and basic rules for the game. Alas I am not great with homework and didn't have much of a look. It didn't matter in the end as Michael explain things excellently and we were soon up and running. I won't go into too much detail about the individual games: the opening game (my Explorers vs Bull's Jungle tribes) was a landslide as I was incapable of rolling 5+ on handfuls of D10s whilst Bull was rolling 5+ on D6s at will; the second game (my now more experienced Explorers vs Michael's Jungle tribes) was a much closer affair and came down to a nail-biting 7th turn.

The ruleset has element from several different games. Players choose their actions for the turn from a handful of action cards, mimicking X-Wings dials, so decisions are made before the turn starts. These are supplemented by Totem cards which give bonuses during a turn or can be held on to for later. All dice rolls are successful on 5+, be that attacks, saves, bravery, etc. and skill levels are represented by the dice type being used—d10s for elite troops, D8 for trained troops and D6 for everyone else. It's a mechanic I've seen knocking around for a while and it does work. There are also stress tokens dished out liberally that will impede the types of actions and once this number reaches 4 you're in trouble. Given that the game comes from the Studio Tomahawk stable, the stress tokens were not surprising. I did find some aspects of the rules a little clunky, and melee combat felt a little off, but there is no denying that this is a great adventure game. We had a riotous laugh (especially Bull with his heavenly dice rolling) and came home feeling like we had actually been on some kind of expedition. The background and themes running through this game are superb.

Being a rulebook geek I have a hankering to pick this one up, it is fantastic to look at. We will no doubt have more Congo adventures at Awdry Towers in the near future—I am eager to see some of the other scenarios in action as the 'Capture Kong' one we played was excellent.

I also came away from the day inspired. This is just the kind of adventure game I've wanted 'Hood' to be, and when combined with a set of beautifully painted miniatures and a stunning gaming table it certainly has raised the bar for gaming experiences. I am now keen to create my own gaming table to a comparable level to this one—though let's be honest, Mr Awdry is in a league of his own right now!

Bull's blog has his take on our day out.

04 August 2017

40k Battle Analysis: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

The battle report from Tuesday's game against Bull's Orks highlighted a few points worthy of contemplation discussion.

Our opening game of 8th Edition was all about unlearning old rules. After having a couple of weeks to ponder on that before this week's game, Tuesday was all about getting to grips with the new rules. We used battle-forged armies, rolled for deployment, etc. and used Stratagems for the first time. Things went a lot better, but inevitably a few things were missed. To complicate the situation more, I had a brand new codex, with all the additional rules that implies. It's going to take some time before we truly get into our flow, without unintentionally bending or breaking rules or phase order, but we are only two games in.

For this week's game, my problems began in list construction. The books don't make it terribly easy to create things with points, to know what is/isn't included and exactly what you need to charge for. Wording is a bit vague in places. Anyway, I had priced up all my available units and then took enough to hit the 1000pt mark exactly.

I took the Razorback and Dred from last time (albeit re-armed the Dred with something more appropriate). The Razorback tore chunks off Boss Zagstruk in Overwatch, took his last wound in combat, then killed at least 5 Boyz from Ork unit three. It also absorbed a lot of hits from the Warbanner Boy and multiple units of Boyz before finally exploding. That explosion almost killed Banner boy and took another 4 Boyz down too. From a points perspective it probably broke even with kills, but its tarpit role was invaluable in protecting the Captain and Librarian from follow up waves of Boyz. The Dred killed about 10 Boyz in total, combined 1 round of shooting (the heavy flamer misfiring) and 1 round of combat. It took the full weight of attacks from a unit of 15 Boyz before dying (even then only just). Its main contributions were being deployed wide to protect the line and prevent the Stormboyz dropping in to my left, and then diverting the path of the final unit of Boyz away from the Captain and Librarian combat. In these aspects it did its job well and is a solid unit, though the fact it can be taken out in one solid round of combat is a worry.

Expecting vehicles I had taken my Hellblasters, which turned out to be a waste against Strength 4 Ork Boyz. They killed 5 or so Boyz from unit three, and a few more from unit two, before being overwhelmed in combat, which is not their strong point. My Sternguard were a last minute filler unit to round out the numbers, and that was the biggest part they played, apart from one round of Overwatch resulting in a couple of dead Stormboyz.

The Reivers played their part quite well this week. Buoyed by the addition of two more models (albeit unpainted) the took out the Paindoc and hit the Wierdboy from behind, pulling Ork units three and four across the board to deal with them. This was key to slowing down the Ork advance and, though they may not have paid for themselves in kills, they were big winners on the day. It's nice to be able to pay the Orks back in kind, dropping a unit on them in their own table half.

The Aggressors had a very clear role to play – to burn lots of Orks as they charged in. However, poor deployment and positioning deprived them of using their flamers at all, and they spent the entire battle in combat until they were finally destroyed. They did hold out for a long time against a horrific number of attacks, their Strength 5 proving to be the tipping point. But in the end, the 2+ to hit and pure volume of hits meant that the Orks would kill them eventually. They almost certainly didn't pay for themselves, but their staying power helped tie up the Ork numbers for some time.

And finally my two (heroic) characters…

The librarian didn't manage to cast as many spells as I would like. Having an enemy psyker on the table didn't play a massive part, it was more a case of not rolling high enough to cast. He did hit his numbers when he needed to though, and the Captain spent most of the game buffed to an epic level. The Libby did clock up quite a few kills, notably the Banner Boy, and provided a great support for the Captain, who was the heart of the army.

The Captain, who was upgraded to a Chapter Master owned the table around him, to the point that I don't really recall Bull openly attacking him in combat. I gave him the Burning Blade relic to aid his attacks and it proved essential. I had considered the Salamanders Mantle for +1 Toughness, but being T7 rather than T6 (buffed by the Libby) against these Orks didn't give any additional benefit. His Warlord Trait of Iron Resolve meant that he had an extra Wound and allowed him a 6+ Feel No Pain equivalent. That's T6, 7 Wounds, 3+ save, 4+ invulnerable and 6+ FNP—no wonder he survived untouched! His buff allowing re-rolls to hit for units within 6" was awesome, and when combined with the Salamander Chapter Trait of rolling 1 Hit and 1 Wound miss per unit per fight meant that those around him were doing lots of damage. Yet despite this he probably didn't pay for himself in kills, despite felling bucket loads of Boyz.

Despite that, he was the lynchpin and was ultimately the reason why we prevailed on the day. I could have been more brave with him and often he missed out on combat as Bull strategically removed casualties around him, leaving him outside of combat when his turn to fight came. He needs to be in the thick of things to be at full effect. He is an awesome character, but I need to try him with different combos of Warlord/Chapter Trait and relics to see if there are better options.

As far as the overall game went?…

The big mistake from my perspective was initial deployment and positioning. My gaming experience allowed me to find a way to pull things back from the precipice, albeit only just. I needed to be on my A-game, which is hard when you don't really know your own army or your opponent's capability, or the rules properly for that matter.

The Primaris marines are expensive and few in number, but they are resilient and it took this game to see that in action. I'm undecided whether regular "mini" marines would have been a better choice. Maybe I need to test that theory, quantity over quality. I also ignored the Banner Boy for far too long, only killing him in the final turn. This made my job immeasurably more difficult. I had the opportunity, when the Dred charged into combat, but fearing a low charge roll I opted for the nearest Ork Boyz unit as the only target. Ork Boyz hitting with 4 or more attacks each on 2+ is just horrible and I should have taken him down as soon as I could (note to self)—Scout Snipers may be the way forward on that score, taking characters down from range.

I did ignore the VP objectives (first blood, etc.) and favour of simply surviving. Standing across the table from such a large number of Orks was very intimidating, even for a tournament vet. The Boyz may not have had much defence individually, but the ability of a unit of 30 to pump out 5 attacks each hitting on 2+ will decimate any army. Being outnumbered more than 4:1 and losing six guys in the opening exchange does not do anything to boost confidence.

At the end of the day we pulled a minor victory out of thin air, against a brutal and unrelenting assault by an experienced greenskins general. It felt good, if exhausting. I am now feeding off the buzz of 40k gaming and list building, something I thought was relegated to the past. Thanks as ever to Bull for being an awesome opponent and host, and for not pulling punches when things were going bad.

If you wanted to read his take on the game, go visit Bull's blog here.

Roll on the next game…!