10th edition Warhammer 40k is just around the corner, which means the amazing architects of Drawbridge Games’ mega-events have been hard at work plotting the first big event for the edition launch this Summer 2023. Given that there is a major Tyranid revamp and a lot of players are plotting to start or add-to their Tyranid armies, it was time for a BUG HUNT!
Background: Pocket dimensions are perfect for the mysterious Hunt-Master to stage his little games. And this time he’s crafted one where he can see just how effective the various hunters of the universe fare when set loose on quarry. Across all sorts of armies and races there were strange disappearances, as units turned up missing without explanation. As their peers searched for them, these wayward forces find themselves waking up on a shoreline of an island teeming with Tyranid organisms, from the smallest to the greatest. And given one simple explanation in a carefully filigreed scroll with writing bafflingly in their own native tongue: “Hunt as many as you can. The winners will be returned, the rest kept for eternity. Kill your trophies and compete for the greatest haul… but at least one of your number needs to return to your transport to keep them.”
What: This will be a staged event that runs all evening on Thursday, July 6th. Players can contribute in two ways, both by painting Tyranid models to populate the island, and by bringing a single squad and a transport that can hold them (see more info below) and seeing just what all they can hunt before escaping the island with their haul. There will be multiple GM’s on hand so people can compete starting at different points on the 12 foot island board we’ll have, and we’ll keep a “leader board” through the night detailing which players have the most Tyranid kills on their safari expeditions… while still managing to get a single model back and free. If there’s room, players can even give a try multiple times during the evening with their squads. As always, prizes at Drawbridge will be based upon a random draw amongst participants where additional draws will be entered for not only the winner, but for each unit newly painted for the event that participants bring (as we ask all models in these events be a minimum of three colors and based), and for “best painted” Tyranids and hunting squads alike.
Hunting Squads: Players participating in the bug hunt will bring one infantry squad of their choosing, attach one character (see list at bottom), and a vehicle that can transport that squad and character. Note that while the temptation may be the most expensive transport, note that the Tyranids will have a set of “AI” rules for when they notice something and attack it–so a Land Raider firing off lascannons 48″ away might just alert the entire half of the island. That means no jump infantry or other “doesn’t fit in a transport” types, and that some armies will have different limitations (e.g. Necrons can only transport Warriors in their Ghost Arks, but they can bring a Night Scythe if they want a different sort of unit… tho who knows what flying Tyranids might notice that tasty flying croissant). Also, no Drop Pods… as the point is needing to “get away to safety” in the transport. There will be entries into the prize draw for newly painted squad, newly painted transport, best painted combo squad+transport, and best “Hunters” themed squad (aimed at those who want to convert up a squad of specialized hunters or even specifically Tyranid hunters). And sorry: no Knights armies and no Daemons, given the nature of this event being about a squad striking out from a transport (don’t worry: Knight Night Fight Night 3 will happen later this summer/early fall and we’ll have some Daemon-fight events soon enough).
Bugs for the Cause: The goal is to cover the table in groups of Tyranid models, from large to small. The more the merrier. So to encourage people to paint up those units in the new Leviathan box set, or other models that they have lingering in their piles of shame, each squad of Tyranid models that are painted up for the event give the person bringing them a bonus two draws in the prize pool. And we’d love if the established Tyranid players bring along their masses as well, just to crowd the board with some amazing Nid biodiversity.
How Will it Run? Well, there’s the secret part. We’ll be using 10th edition rules and unit stats. And expect a clear “if/then” set of “Hive Mind” reactions that will guide when and where Tyranid units respond to the attacks of the hunter squads. The sound of battle, the smell of casualties, the sight of long range gunfire, all will have a chance to draw other squads of Tyranids into the fray. Especially dangerous when the last stragglers are trying to get back to their transport with a haul of bug trophies! As always with our big events, the goal is simple, silly, and thematic rules to get us throwing dice together and laughing at the fortunes (and misfortunes) of squads as they compete for glory in the Bug Hunt!
Leaders: As mentioned above, players can choose to have one support-style character attached to the squad as well. These are to be support-style characters only, not captains or warbosses, so we’ve got a pretty tailored list below of the option for each faction of a model to keep them going and in the fight best as possible.
Apothecary (or Wolf Priest or Sanguinary Priest)
(Each Custodes is a hero, no support for them)
Chaos Space Marines
Master of Executions
Leagues of Votann
(Note these are subject to change when the actual edition rules come out if they will work wonky somehow in this format or are changed to Lone Operatives… and they may only work with some units given that units will need to be in their Bodyguard list)
Campaign boarding actions continue, these two weeks versus Enrico, Dave, and Michael. My Ynnari force expanded from last week, grabbing more of the Generator Cluster on the space hulk. The race is on to grab the last portions before it crashes into the planet and spills out into a broader territories game (we think that’s the plan of the amazing Justin and Sean who are running the show).
Also a note: normally Walkers are not allowed in Boarding Actions, but our campaign rules included them to allow people who wanted the icon boarding action Dreadnaught crashing through bulkheads to be able to run them. My first of these three games (my one loss so far in the campaign) I decided to field a Wraithlord just to see. And I saw that while it was funny, I vastly preferred more troops for objective-seeking.
Anyhow, without further ado the write-ups of my latest games. Huge thanks to my opponents Enrico, Dave, and Michael (in order) as each of these were super-enjoyable challenges.
Game Three: Cramped Spaces
“Cut. Maim. Tear.” Aleksandr whispered to himself over and over as his heavy greaves thudded across the decking making the distinct “clunk” of the auto-maglocks at work. “Maim. Tear. Cut.” His helmet’s auto-senses included the dim outlines of enemy targets at the far end of long access halls. The optic tech was old and battered, but it worked enough to identify shapes. Something in Aleksandr’s mind thought “space elves”, but he only continued muttering… “Tear. Maim. Cut.”
Two groups of his brethren World Eaters, along with Chaos Spawn, were cutting their way through the bulkheads in two parallel paths. A group of lithe elves attempted to hold a door shut to delay them, only to have it torn off its hinges by a squad sergeant’s empty, blood-stained hands. Even though the elves’ rapid strikes managed to fell the first warrior through the door, the raw force of the following marines dismembered them. Little room to dodge in such close confines, which left the elves at a disadvantage.
“Cut. Maim. Tear.” Aleksandr uttered again. He and his squad raced forward along the junction lines, heedless of a few bolts of fire that streaked from the darkness ahead. Suddenly, the opening at the far end of an access junction was filled by an enormous form. The elves had brought some manner of dreadnaught of their own onto the ship. It was stooped over and moved slowly, but the two massive laser cannons it wielded began sending crackling beams of illuminating energy at his squad, cooking two members of the other squad into nothing more than ashes. “Maim! Tear! Cut!” he roared, and thumbed the control for his chainaxe as he rushed forward. For all the menace of the crackling power fists of the elf dreadnaught, in that constrained space it never got a chance to swing them. Aleksandr’s axe tore open slice after slice of whatever material it was made of, which along with the blows of his mates dispatched it in short order. Panting with the exertion, he gasped “Tear… Maim… Cut…”
One of the elf witches appeared from a corridor, surrounded by shrouded elves with long laser rifles. Aleksandr could tell it was a witch from the sudden crackle feeling of psychic energy, which enraged him further. “Cut! Maim! Tear!” he bellowed. His onrushing squad would be at the witch in moments, and it must have started the abomination because the witch drew an enormous burst of power and directed it into his squad. Two of Aleksandr’s mates stumbled and fell, their vital signs on his display dropping to flatline. “Maim! Tear! Cut!” he shrieked. But the power the witch discharged was evidently rushed or too much for its own resilience, because with an echoing wet “bampf” the vile creature’s head exploded from its own energy. The explosion was so powerful that the eyes burst out of four of the five shrouded warriors right behind him, their light forms crumpling down onto each other. Even the remaining one’s mono-molecular tripwire couldn’t save him from Aleksandr’s charge and swinging chainaxe. With a single swipe and a gravely shout of “Tear! Cut! Maim!” the last of the elves were dead. This section of the ship was cleared.
Aleksandr toggled his sensor suite to a wider sweep. There had to be more enemies around. “Cut. Tear. Maim.” echoed in his vox as he stalked deeper into the halls of the hulk.
Game Four: Elf in the Machine
Landsyrr followed his Klaivex through the hallways, keen to the sound of grating machinery coming from all sides. The Space Hulk was simply deafening to his ears, but then much of the the sounds of his life in the past three hundred years had been the silence of the Shrine of the Coiled Blade. While some Incubi shrines were rife with competition, with thronging supplicants, or with the screams of sacrifice, theirs had been one of martial training in near silence–only the occasional bargaining with an Archon to use their services saw words echoing the halls. At least until the Visarch–servant of Yvraine–took over, and devoted the shrine to the cause of the Ynnari.
Since then, Landsyrr and the others in his shrine had followed Yvraine, including this newest endeavor to extract some sort of gain from scourging foes from the decks of this massive Space Hulk. Landsyrr was impressed by her. Such a mystery. So many things at once. Both a herald of death incarnate, striking down foes with her mind or her rainbow-hued power blade. And yet she had that side of the Asuryani kin with odd tenderness at moments, something that was somehow alien to Landsyrr. He saw her once bend down over a fallen Wych gladiatrix who had foolheartedly tried to hold a bulkhead door shut from a raging Space Marine, and issue the softest of kisses on the fallen warrior’s forehead before gently closing her eyes. Landsyrr wondered yet again why he was following this woman in this mad attempt to save their race.
Perhaps it was the chance to strike down so many foes. Their current engagement was against a group of Necrons–such ancient foes. The Space Hulk carried some sort of prize worth fighting for, as all sorts of races found themselves vying for control of the damnable things. Landsyrr’s squad sighted a strange floating Necron surrounded by their strange scarab servitors and charged into their midst. The Necron seemed to be some manner of scientist, as it cocked its head to examine them as a phase shift field went off, protecting him from the first of their strikes.
With a sound like metal scraping across the deck, the thing spoke. “You are in error, no? Records show your heraldry–sub-category reference: “shrine”–to be incongruous to that of the others with you. Yes?” Even as their slicing blades cut through the remaining scarabs and severed the thing’s limbs, it seemed more invested in asking its question than defending itself. After a couple more blows, the light from the Necron’s single cyclopean eye grew suddenly dull.
Landsyrr watched as Yvraine stalked the deck of the ship past their unit. Her blade nearly sang with the speed of cuts it made through the foes. At one point she deftly sliced the hinges on a portal, and the cut down each of the Necron warrior caste enemies that had been waiting behind it.
Yet in his mind, Landsyrr kept again and again turning the phrase that the monocular Necron leader had uttered. These Ynnari, the bulk of them Craftworlders… the Incubi, the Wyches, and the other denizens of the Commorragh were not so much like them. This alien machine could see the categorical difference. Why could Landsyrr and the other Incubi not see that. What was it about Yvraine that made her different? Made her the bridge? Was it simply Vect’s endorsement?
Regardless, there were more machines to dispatch. So dispatch they did.
Game Five: Hero in the Hallways
Narunn the Lucky, Einhyr Champion, had the knack for salvage. The Space Hulk “Dolorous Tidings” was his target, and as his team breached into the hallways Narunn could literally smell the promise of materials to be extracted and absconded-with amidst the various forces vying for control of the massive conglomeration of ships. After moving through a few decks, his vox buzzed from his team member carrying the auspex scanner. “Closest sentient macrofauna are on this deck, moving toward us… by their weapons and uniform energy frequencies they are.. elves.” Naurnn could hear the audible spit noise the operator made after muttering that final word.
While Narunn ordered close drill and careful advances, the elves came pouring out of the dimly lit hallways and right into the midst of his Hearthguard forces. While their armor turned aside much of the elves’ precision shooting and vicious melee attacks, slowly casualties started to accumulate. Strange acrobatic elf warriors with whirling blades danced along their lines, while a wave of blue-armored warriors poured shuriken fire into the midst of them. Each time the warriors were eventually repulsed, but eventually only a single Hearthguard remained in the “Aurachs” squad that was sweeping the far side of the ruins, and only Narunn remained on the near side.
Striding forth from amidst the multitudes of elven warriors came a clear leader–a woman in what elves must count as fancy clothing, bearing a sword that shimmered with the colors of the rainbow. She started with a psychic assault which felt like voices shouting at top volume in his head. Lightning-fast she darted forward and followed the disorienting psychic manifestation with a flurry of rainbow slices. While one scored a hit slicing his leg, Narunn’s armor power field repelled the remainder. The elf-queen seemed taken aback for a moment, having thought her blade would surely fell him. “We’re made of stronger stuff than that, elf harlot” thought Narunn as he swung his powered hammer forward. It connected with her midsection, sending her sprawling. She barely survived it, but it was clear that something broke inside her as she began coughing up blood. She shouted something in her foul tongue–which was echoed by a hiss from her strange cat-like companion–and then retreated into the darkness. “Lick your wounds or succumb to them in the dark” Narunn cursed as she left.
Narunn rampaged forward into the elf forces, who were left reeling with the complete and sudden dispatching of their leader–apparently she was revered amongst her people. Finishing off one squad of elf warriors with his hammer, and ending the stragglers of another with his pistol, Narunn found a central maintenance hatch. His own scanner did a quick translation of the runes–and he knew that good salvage was simply a deck down. He keyed in the location on his transponder to summon labor robots for the extraction to his own ship. The elves were swarming everywhere on this deck, clearly controlling the space. But he had bought enough time to grab some goods and escape. Sad to lose warriors, doubly-so to flower-pickin’ elves. But at least he could eke out some salvage.
The elves mounted one last attack on his position, led by yet another psychic threat–a conclave of their seers. Their blades and psychic assault was just not enough to stop him, and he struck them down as easily as he did their leader. It seemed their more numerous remaining warriors were fine simply controlling the entire deck beyond his locale, giving Narunn a wide berth.
After a tense 35 minutes expecting further attacks–and some holes cut in an exterior bulkhead–Narunn was finally back on his own ship, reviewing what he had acquired in the costly raid. Three large matching crates of goods. Opening them he found deeply disappointing contents. A shipment of uniform patches and fancy berets for some long-lost human guardsman regiment. “Damnation” he swore. He made a mental note to himself, a grudge of sorts. If the rainbow-sword elf-queen survived, and he meet her or her red-uniformed elf ilk again, he would spare nothing to repay this slight in full to her ten-fold.
Lots of painting, not in terms of models but certainly in surface area! I finished a Wraithlord which I was quite proud of.
Which led me to break out and finish up a Wraithknight as well–the largest of the plastic kits for the Aledari. I’m really pleased with the pilot screen and the gem on it.
More painting to go, as we next land on the planet in the campaign (as lots of people are playing so spaces on the crashing hulk were captured fast–a great problem to have!).
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 198 PL / 3,935 points
My three whole readers of this blog (thanks gang!) may have noted that in 2022 we ran a bunch of games linked to a Campaign Map, the Scylla Quintus campaign, at our local gaming store Drawbridge Games. With the release of the boarding actions rules and the forthcoming 10th edition of Warhammer 40k, Justin and Sean (our great Crusade organizers) decided to sort of re-start things again. First with forces trying to vie for control of a Space Hulk, followed by (I think) using that as a launching point for a re-invasion of the Scylla Quintus cluster. A brand new map campaign ahead!
Below is a map of the initial displacement of forces seeking control of the hulk. Kudos to Sean for the design and updating of it! There are also other players who are joining in the campaign who will be adding into it as we roll forward (and at least one change in force already… tho I promise it’s not me!).
My mixed Aeldari force (will be Ynnari, but I had to start Drukhari just because that’s what I had more painted) took over one of the generator clusters initially, and I hope to expand out into those power sections by launching raids via the exterior of the hulk.
The first two games I played are detailed below. Both were wins with pretty solid control of the objectives. The first I suffered a lot more casualties than the second, but both were great fun versus good opponents with some beautifully painted models on really neat-looking terrain. Makes me pretty pleased.
Game One: Expendables
Altaya the Huntmistress heard the “hiss” as the laser cutting charges fired and opened access into the Space Hulk. Her honed gladiatrix’s senses immediately took stock of the sounds coming from the corridors ahead, as well as the peculiar scent. Something… fungal… was in the stale air. Appropriate enough, as fungi deal with dead matter.
It was a curious thing, joining with the followers of Yvraine, Prophetess of Ynnead. Altaya had even fought at Yvraine’s side a few times in the fighting pits of Commorragh–of course before her rebirth. Altaya had watched quietly as Yvraine’s influence spread amongst her people, and in a moment of sudden clarity (in an arena battle versus a hulking Cthellean Cudbear pumped full of Paingbringer drugs) recognized that she herself already walked the path of Ynnead. Altaya killed and killed, so that the power of Ynnead could grow to eventually free her people from the grip of She Who Thirsts. This was the purpose. This was her role.
Amidst the flotilla of ships conveying Yvraine when Altaya joined her, she was tasked with a particularly gruesome first task. One of the Drukhari crafts had a sizeable retinue from a Haemonculus coterie. And their fleshcraft was anathema to the path of Ynnead. So they had to go. But a tool is a tool, so after she slew their Haemonculi masters, Alaya was tasked with using the remaining Wracks to assault their way onto a Space Hulk where there was rumored information that might lead to a lost Crone World. She was given the task with the understanding that the Wracks were “expendable”. That she ought return without them, so the other Aeldari forces could then make their way into the Space Hulk.
The fungal scent became quickly clear when Altaya noted a tiny green humanoid scampering along a gantry. Orks. At least that meant it should be a quick affair. She advanced with her retinue of Wyches along one corridor, while tasking the Wracks to move down the opposite corridor where the sounds of Orks were loudest.
Quickly the battle was met for the Wracks, as they piled into a room with Ork Boyz, Meganobz, and a frightening Warboss with a massive chain axe. The cruel acids from their liquifier guns melted the initial waves of Orks, but the Mega Armored Nobz and Warboss managed to crash into their lines. For her part, Altaya and her Wyches were carving their way through lighter resistance of Boyz and Gretchin, securing key access points along the way.
The Wracks were no match for the sheer fury of the Nobz and Warboss. Despite their modified and muscled frames, they were not-so-smoothly cut down. The last of the Wracks died being sawed in half by the Warboss. The ping went off on Altaya’s bio-tracker… the last of their heartbeats had ceased. The Wracks were gone, their force used but now disposed of. Make way for the more dignified devotees of death.
As she turned to go back to the entry point she heard a dreadful metal crunch, and turned and saw the Warboss had torn a bulkhead door clean off. Despite her reflexes, the sheer surprise of the Warboss’ arrival caught her off guard. And it gave him just a moment to slash out with his axe and sever her right arm. Altaya tumbled away swiftly, stowing her glaive and putting pressure on the stump that remained. The beast of an Ork struggled to fit through the bulkhead, and that gave her time to sprint away and back to her point of entry.
She’d accomplished her mission, and secured an entry site. But at the cost of her arm. Good thing that she hadn’t… fully… eliminated all of the Haemonculi. One, a vile creature named Oribraq, had bargained with her after she eliminated the others. He worked for Archon Yraleath the Calcimineer, a rising Archon of the Commorragh who was lending troops to Yvraine’s cause (whether he was a true believer or just garnering favor was unclear). And Oribraq indicated she should she need it, Altaya would be free to use his services should anything happen to her. A whole coven of Haemonculi would be an affront to Yvraine surely, but a single one? Willing to use fleshcraft to support her lieutenants? Well, that’s another matter. She cauterized the wound with the glowing edge of her electrified blade, and made her way through the corridors to the newly-hidden workshop where Oribraq had best prove his worth as a fleshcrafter and restore her arm like new.
Game Two: A Crisis of Leadership
“Something is off,” thought Elramyn, as her team of Corsairs rushed down the hallway of the Space Hulk. Their ship had been moored mysteriously outside of Craftworld Fenn’Dara for two days before making the webway route to join the larger Aeldari flotilla assaulting the Space Hulk. The Craftworlders had been led into a private chamber by the Bosun and they had remained locked in there the entire flight. Elramyn caught word from the galley mate that brought them food that they were Banshees, as he saw their masks when he dropped off their food. “Why all the secrecy?” she had wondered then. At least that was clearer now. Elramyn’s raiding team was being led by Jain Zar herself. The legendary Banshee Phoenix Lord. “Supposedly”.
There were subtle signs that puzzled Elramyn. “Was it just a fancy suit of Exarch armor? Why would she go with such a small contingent into the unstable space of a disintegrating hulk? Why was she missing the soft chalk marks on the wall left undoubtedly by Aeldari Rangers that this section had already been cleared?” But could she question the Phoenix Lord herself? And not be just cut down by screaming Banshees?
They had definitely moved into a space where another Aeldari boarding party was located, and Elramyn could make out the distinctive camoweave cloaks of Rangers ahead. They didn’t look good in the ship settings, and the Rangers’ obvious discomfort made it more abrupt. Clearing a ship was not their usual task. Where were their other forces?
With a sudden howl, Jain Zar dashed down the access corridor, launching her spinning triskele into the Rangers, felling one of them. An odd voice sounded over their helmet communicators: “Follow and strike, for she is aberration!” She raced ahead into the access corridor, and Elramyn watched as the graceful paragon of war blithely blundered into a wireweave net that the Rangers had no doubt left supporting their position. The binding fibers tore into the Aeldari warrior’s leg armor, slicing the muscles and leaving her hobbling. Elramyn was in utter shock.
The shock turned to awe at what happened next. Striding from behind the barricades came a regal figure: Yvraine, the Prophetess of Ynnead. Forces of Asuryani and even some Drukhari swarmed at her side. The banshees that had accompanied Jain Zar and some of Elramyn’s compatriot Corsairs rushed into Yvraine’s forces with equal abandon, to sadly equal results–lithe Incubi sliced with huge blades, while Dire Avengers shredded with shuriken fire.
Amidst it all, the stalled Jain Zar hissed and cursed as Yvraine approached. A momentary tilt of her head was all it took, and a sudden burst of necrotic psychic energy shot from her eyes and detonated about an inch behind Jain Zar’s mask. The lifeless, headless body fell in a crumple on the ground.
Elramyn couldn’t help but blurt out: “You killed a Phoenix Lord!”
Yvraine turned and looked at her, and responded with a serene voice.
“Did I, child? Look closely at what you know. Is this the Phoenix Lord Jain Zar, the greatest of all Banshees, first of the Exarchs, student of Asurmen? Would such a warrior be felled so easily?”
Elramyn blanched as Yvraine continued.
“I pose to you, that query does not even truly matter. Because she fell in this manner, she was not Jain Zar. Maybe she believed she was and acted on some misguided concern of rejecting my endeavors in the name of Ynnead. Maybe she was an agent put up to the task by some meddling Archon of Commorragh–or a quite-the-same meddling Farseer in a Craftworld. Regardless. She has perished so simply, she must never have been Jain Zar in the first place.”
Elramyn puzzled for a stretch of seconds in silence.
“Return to your ship, Corsairs, lest I hold you accountable beyond the actions of this charlatan leader,” Yvraine continued after the pause. “There are so many others on this Hulk that we could be fighting. Why give in to base plots and schemes, when you could either be free plying the stars or taking up arms and fighting alongside me. She made the choice to betray Ynnead, and got Ynnead’s embrace instead. Tarry not long in making your decisions.”
And with that, Yvraine turned and led her forces away thru the decking and bulkheads. Elramyn looked at the few remaining Corsairs, who looked back to her for guidance. She was at a complete loss for words at first, then finally spoke.
“Something was off,” she said to them. “I noted it too. Glad we’re through that. Let’s go back to the ship.”
I started by doing up two new leader options for my Boarding parties, Yvraine leading a force of Ynnari devotees herself and a Succubus conversion in case I feel like going all Drukhari on occasion (as I did with my first campaign game).
This was a super-fun model to work on, tho I definitely converted her headdress down and made it so her hair braced on her arm. Because this kit is a heart-breaker if you don’t do that, hah. The slightest bump or drop and it all would break.
I was kinda really pleased with how Yvraine’s sword turned out. I saw a tutorial for a prismatic blade, and I followed that best I could. I think it’s pretty neat.
The other leader I did up was a Succubus, as I wanted a model that was armed with a different weapon set than the Razorflails (which is how I did up my first Succubus). I converted over an Age of Sigmar model that had a great coiled whip, using the normal glaive of a Succubus and some Wyches parts.
I got a few more Drukhari Kabalite Warriors completed, as I want to keep rolling with small squads of them (to do a massed Venom mobile hunting cadre at some point). One of these was an old classic metal model, the crouching one with the Shredder.
I also completed a unit of Dire Avengers too, as doing Ynnari means painting up a new Asuryani unit for every Drukhari unit I wish to field. I definitely need to get rolling on the Craftworlds side of things!
I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out, and I also am really happy with how the Saim Hann color scheme could be layered with their aspect colors. The back banner on the Exarch particularly was a spot to do it, and I also like how the decal transfers worked for it. Huzzah for Micro Set and Micro Sol as the adhesives to make decal transfers perfect.
And I also added an Aledari Warlock just because I was on a roll with painting Aeldari forces! I might be more proud of him than any of the other models in this set, hah.
And finally a non-boarding actions model, just because I wanted to finish it up. An Aeldari War Walker with Bright Lance and Eldar Missile Launcher.
And if all that painting was not enough, I even squeaked in two more Battletech Mechs: first an Adder, a little quick one.
And then a Dire Wolf. Both for my Clan Jade Falcon, which I’m really digging the look for.
Phew!!! All told a really monumental couple of weeks of painting new models this time. Huge progress, and deciding to go with Ynnari for the campaign really helped me put wind into what I was painting.
Finally, there’s a new edition of Warhammer 40k coming out relatively soon–so while I’m doing PL currently for my totals, there will be a brand new points system at some moment that is rapidly nearing. When it happens I’ll convert over accordingly. For now I figured I’d list both the PL and the current points in the edition as they stand.
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 167 PL / 3,315 points
Warlock Baranyl stood on the deck of the Saim Hann command ship, watching the monitors scroll with image captures. Coordinating an attack across two different Craftworlds was a lot of work, and adding in the unpredictable and highly irregular forces of some Drukhari brethren was all the more of a nightmare. Her role was to speak to the ship’s spirit stones that processed battle information and enhanced command-and-control. And the “wraiths” were… unruly… given the strange bedfellows.
The morning would see the ground assault committed in full, landing on a beachside city to extract the Aeldari artifacts that brought the combined assault to this planet in the first place. Tonight was a series of coordinated commando raids to capture some of the nearby villages and destroy some of the heaviest of mech-suits in their motor pools so that forces the next day were divided in response, allowing the assault to slip in and disgorge the troops needed at the site of the main battle.
The Tau ground forces had posted picket lines of sentries around their facilities, and while their heavier units were at the ready there was still some element of surprise. The Tau scouts, so graceless and clunky in their shod footsteps, were all keyed into displays on the system as they patrolled the grounds. Even the stealthiest amongst this young race were like lowing bovine on the plains with the noise they made compared to the silently approaching Aeldari. A number of sentries were eliminated by the fast-moving Drukhari on their skyboards, which opened the window to then bring the drop forces screaming down via Wave Serpents and Venoms alike.
The Craftworld forces were tasked with capturing a hamlet where a number of the larger battlesuits were waiting in reserve. Meanwhile the Drukhari dove into the main Tau infantry and smaller battlesuit forces with abandon. Baranyl watched the feeds and saw the moments where Drukhari were taking pleasure in the torment they inflicted upon the Tau soldiers. A sudden flash, deep within her, rose for but a brief moment. Like a whisper from She Who Thirsts, a memory of what her people had locked away and retreated from all those ages ago. Baranyl shook her head in disgust. The sooner these forces were split the better.
As the Aeldari forces started to reach their target markers Baranyl was pulled out of those dark thoughts. She could feel the various threads of motion all captured in the spirit matrix of her ship, feeding back all the impressions across the battlefield. Her concern focused on the heavier battlesuits, as those would be the ones most jeopardizing their forces in the morning. A contingent of Wraithguard with Wraithcannon unloaded on one of the larger suits, and while a pure hurricane of missile shots and large laser blasts were returned, the Tau suit caught the worst of the exchange as chunks of its superstructure were displaced with the blasts.
Chancing a look back toward the feeds from the Drukhari command net, Baranyl observed that they had deployed numerous winged jump troops they referred to as “Scourges”. At first glance they seemed like the noble Swooping Hawks aspect warriors with their wings, but she quickly realized that those were grafted, living tissue wings. Whether birds or bats, the warriors had mutilated their own bodies to provide them with that mobility on the battlefield. She shuddered in renewed disgust.
The battle was close amidst the barracks sector, where the Drukhari and Tau were near-even in exchanging destruction with each others’ forces. The Drukhari way of war was elegant but cruel, and they chanced far too much at seeing the destruction in the eyes of their prey up close. On her Craftworld monitors she saw much more orderly advance: Falcon grav tanks landing aspect warriors into cover to slowly make their way forward with suppressing fire. She honed in on a bright spot: a unit of Fire Dragons had downed one of the big suits, but was pinned down into cover and losing members from the ranged fire response of the enemies.
A screen started flashing as another Tau priority target was engaged. Baranyl flashed to that screen in time to see another monstrosity–some twisted Drukhari construct–tear into the Tau battlesuit from behind. She could see the flesh of the thing’s neck and arms, but otherwise it was mechanical. It floated on a repulsor motor like a distended marsh suckerfly, full up on blood from some woeful host. Finally it tore free the reactor from the back of the suit, and with a “whoomp” the Tau weapon of war imploded. Chunks hung limply from the Drukhari creature itself, critically damaged in the explosion. Baranyl wished its demise, unsure if because of revulsion or pity for whatever vestige of life remained inside the cruelly-fashioned thing.
Alerts started to sound, as in both drop sites the Tau commanders were taking a toll on Aeldari forces. Some of the most capable warriors on the Tau side were engaging with precision and destructive armaments, landing devastating damage onto the Aeldari forces. One feed caught a Tau commander surging forward on jet propulsion, his missile pods blasting into the terrain where the remaining Fire Dragons were hunkered. While the commander inflicted damage, the loss of all of the larger suits started to be felt and Baranyl responded to the tactical command from the fleet “target complete: withdraw to safe engagement range” by passing it through the varied units via the matrices.
The Drukhari drop site was an utter mess, with both sides in near ruin. The Drukhari commander himself, Archon Yraleath, had insisted on being part of this raid–even tho he was also planning on joining the central invasion in the morning. Despite all the losses around him, he launched into battle with one of the Tau Commanders. From Baranyl’s vantage point it was almost like he was toying with the commander: his blade struck key points numerous times but was always turned in a way to not pierce the armor. What is he up to? she wondered. Why are his strikes so cautious and hesitant? Why is he not slicing them down? She made a note to raise this to her own commander. As the Tau suit blazed away with its firepower despite the close proximity, the Archon was a bit slow and caught a plasma blast that seared away a section of armor on his chest. He immediately sprang backward in a rush, darting back between the obstructions of the battlefield to safety. He’s hearty and capable even injured, so why the hesitance in the fight?
The Aeldari drop site had been thoroughly scoured of heavy troops, and captured by their forces. The Drukhari site much more closely fought–one town building barely controlled by a few straggling troops while the Tau Commander sheltered in the structure that dominated the other side of town. As close to a draw as possible. It was clear the Drukhari needed the Aeldari to pull of this raid in every way, and that applied even to the ground-level combat it seemed. So why did Archon Yraleath hold back so in his assault? What was his game?
Baranyl filed those thoughts to mention to her commander soon, and turned her attention to the other set of commando missions about to unfurl: strikes on the very heaviest Tau weapons of war. She hoped all this was worth the destruction, that the artifacts recovered would lead toward the path of wholeness and peace. Not in the moment surely, but in generations. She could hope.
I’ve been toying with some Ynnari plans for my Aeldari forces lately, so finished up a group of Aeldari Rangers with Saim Hann colors (that of course match my Drukhari color scheme).
I’ve also been working on some Battletech miniatures recently, as the new models coming out for that game are finally not hideous enough that I’m willing to give it a go with my friends. I always enjoyed the crunchy style games with the hit locations, so I’m kind of keen to get into it more. I decided on Clan Jade Falcon mostly because of the cartoon show from back in the day, hah. The colors are a bit John Deere, but I dig them. I started with a base of Elementals, a Mongrel, and the iconic Clans Timber Wolf.
So yeah, a fair amount of painting progress completed. More fun ahead as well!
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 143 PL
Played two games with my Drukhari recently, one a Boarding Actions game using the new set of terrain for that I painted up, and the other the first of a series of games I’m going to tie together this year where my goal is to kill a Commander of every faction in the game before I’m done for the year. Two great games, and the battle reports for both are below.
Into the Dark
This was a Boarding Actions clash between my Boarding Patrol led by a Haemonculus versus Zack’s Space Wolves. It used all the Arks of Omen boarding rules both in force composition and gameplay.
Haemonculus Oribraq cackled to himself as the last quiet whine of the cutting devices died down. They were into the ship. It was a bold plan. A daring plan. A master stroke that would surely cement his worth within the Coven’s hierarchy, and maybe impress his Archon if he was lucky as well. Slipping onto a Space Wolves escort ship on deep patrol in the system of Fenris using a drive-silenced slip, Oribraq had a fantastic objective: the geneseed storage system of the ship. This ship had seen action recently–an Ork cruiser from a neighboring system had tried to land forces on an outlying exoplanet. There were sure to be a few losses, and the ship had not yet returned home. The possibility of both the mon’keigh’s rudimentary cloning system data and their super-engineered clone stem cells whet Oribraq’s lips with possibility. So many variations to craft from flesh, and the knowledge and seeds there could help immensely.
His force of Wracks stormed onto the ship from the hole they had cut thru the hull, and at first their surprise attack was devastating. Early casualties fell amongst the Space Wolves that responded, and while there was some resistance–particularly from the terminator-armored amongst them–initially Oribraq’s silent, slavering creations covered varied decks with their furious assault.
Even a modified Clawed Fiend from the arena pits was unleashed into the hold, but it was torn down by the hail of bullets coming from some of the Space Wolves’ modified suits. Where the Drukhari could get into combat they slew their foes, but the hail of firepower whittled down even the sturdy frames of Oribraq’s Wrack creations.
The small squad of silent Incubi that Archon Yraleath had dispatched to “oversee” the mission (Oribraq rankled at their presence, but if it got him his target it was fine) moved off to a different area of the ship, where they cut down a squad of the Wolves who were trapped in a small service shunt. However, their destructive power being aimed at a corner of the board rather than helping clear a pathway to the Geneseed repository proved to be a problem.
Two Space Wolves heroes fought side-by-side in the corridors, repelling every Drukhari that tried to make their way past to get to the precious geneseed. Despite the weight of numbers, Oribraq’s forces came up just short of controlling enough of the decks to snatch their prize. Seeing that the numbers were bound to fail, Oribraq decided on discretion rather than valor, and turned his attention to taking some captives from the servile classes that worked upon the ship. The Space Wolves could perhaps be duped that his goal was not their geneseed, but simply an ill-advising capture raid in the void of space. That way, he could return in the future. His agents would watch and wait from their hidden routes of the webway, and keep him appraised of the next time there might be a bounty of Space Marine stem cells to be purloined.
All-in-all a fun game that ended up being pretty close in the results. The Space Wolves were able to be a bit more durable in the key phases of the game, so while they were wiped out except for characters the lead on points became insurmountable for the Drukhari to quick close the door on. A great game: awesome painted models clashing on cool terrain vs an awesome opponent.
A (First) Head Hunted
This was a regular game of 40k where my Realspace Raid took on Dave’s Ultramarines, looking for the trophy kill of his Commander.
Archon Yraleath the Calcimineer had paced the corridors of his mansion for the three hundred fourteenth time when he finally decided. He was an artist, a bon vivant, a profligate sensualist… and his walls lacked the décor they deserved. Yraleath painted with the blood of foes, and had done canvas after canvas with the blood of all manner of creatures from the galaxy. But his best work, the best of inspirations, came from the blood of the very greatest of foes. And he realized–it was time for a massive multi-section mural on the wall of the east wing, just before the doors that opened out onto the terrace and the cold perpetual twilight of Commorragh. One detailed with the blood of leaders of every faction and race that strode the stars. It was time to begin the most ambitious hunt of his long, long life. A collector’s hunt. A trophy hunt. A heads-hunting endeavor of sorts. A painting of the agonies of each foe, with pigments mixed out of their own blood. A worthy décor for him.
Why not start with the most ubiquitous of foes–the most dreadfully hum-drum and straight-laced amongst the mon’keigh’s super soldiers, the so-called Ultramarines. It took his agents mere days to locate a force of Ultramarines in a sector with a webway exit. And judging from his handling of some other threats, their commander was indeed a delightfully fierce opponent. “Perfect” thought Yraleath, “It will be his blood and visage I start with.
Yraleath’s haemonculus advisor Oribraq had returned from a recent raid with a new batch of experiments, so it was time to give him a bit of a knock-back-down-to-size. Yraleath landed his forces on the planet, using the haemonculi’s Coven to provide a distraction on the ground while the two Venoms laiden with Yraleath’s elite shrieked toward their target. The Ultramarines used tactics and technology blended to surround the ground forces, and savaged the assembled Wracks that Oribraq had lugged along on the strike.
Yraleath’s Ravagers had their sights full with the Imperial Knight that supported the Ultramarines, doing some damage but ultimately falling to the firepower of it and one of the Ultramarines’ ancients encased in dreadnaught battle armor. However, an ambitious young Succubus that Yraleath had recruited was not deterred. Even while the squad of hypex-drugged Wyches she led were gunned down by the lumbering titan upon approach, she herself laid into it with an asburd fury. The slicing fever of her Tryptich Whip landed mortal blow after mortal blow on the massive warsuit–and while there was a good amount of luck that was included in her success, her nasty precision with her swirling strikes and deadly weapon was sufficient to just barely down what remained of the titan. Yraleath made a note to watch her in the future–as an ally and as a threat both. Maybe he should give her an impossible task… hmm.
With many of the Ultramarines and their allies cleared from the field, Yraleath himself closed upon the Captain of the enemy forces. Using hidden speed he struck, managing to injure the Captain severely in the first strike. However, it was just not enough to take out the Captain, who had some manner of force projector that protected him from the most lethal of the blows–in addition to the full suit of powerful armor. In turn, his own Shadowfield failed after the second strike of the Captain, leading to Yraleath losing a leg and an arm in the wink of an eye. Bloodied and tumbling backward, the Archon shouted with his last mortal breaths for his haemonculus. Yraleath treated Oribraq quite well (especially considering his forces played decoy today), and he was confident that the blackmail he had on the twisted flesh-crafter was sufficient for him to trust the re-vivification process ahead. She Who Thirsts would not get his soul this day. Yraleath’s last command before he slumped into unconsciousness was to his Incubi. “Bring me… his head… it will aid my own convalescence to do some art.” He blacked out as the cruel blades of the Incubi sliced into the Captain from all angles. He’d need to be more careful ahead, to ensure he gets the full joy of the kill.
Again, a fun game. I managed to win the game and defeat my foe. Dave is a great opponent, and I had a blast facing such a beautifully painted army. So here’s my head-hunting tally, which I’ll update as I go and defeat more leaders/HQ/Warlords.
Finished up a group of five Hellions–the first of many (many). These are fun to paint, and I’m glad that I had the practice of doing my Beastmaster on Skyboard conversion and my units of Wyches before tackling these.
They took me longer than expected, but now that I’ve got down the reminder of how to do them (as it was a while since I last painted those Wyches)
I’m also really proud of the Into the Dark boarding action terrain set I painted up (in the first pictures above, and a few detail examples below). Took a lot of my painting time of late but was entirely worth the labor.
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 133 PL
The air war is done, and now it’s on to the Commando Raids in our continued set of linked games at our local LGS, Drawbridge Games in Pittsburgh, PA. As before (https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/11/assault-neo-normandy-missions-1-strategic-air-war/), I wanted to provide the rules for what we’re doing in the missions in advance of our actual games. The Command Raids will be two missions, representing airborne forces dropping to capture a key location and to sabotage a gun emplacement. They’re meant to represent the Saint-Mère Eglise and Pegasus Bridge drops during the Normandy invasion in World War II–just with Warhammer 40k factions continuing their battles (Aeldari as the Allies, T’au Empire as the Axis).
For a mission with Sentries, the Defender includes an additional unit beyond the PL of the game they’re playing. This unit should normally have the Troops Battlefield Role, contain up to 10 models, and have a Power Rating of 10 or less. In this scenario, note that the options can include Fast Attack—Drones or Pathfinders are valid choices for sentries as well as Fire Warriors, Breachers, or Kroot when T’au are the defenders.
The “Sentry turns” exist prior to the start of the game, where the Attacker’s Units are moving (and potentially shooting or charging) and the Defender’s sentries are on patrol and moving around the board. The Defender’s other forces are “encamped” and do not move until the alarm is sounded.
Each Sentry model moves and acts as a separate, individual unit throughout the battle. At the start of each of the Defender’s Movement phases, both players roll a dice for each Sentry model, in an order chosen by the Defender. The player who rolled the highest can move the model the distance indicated on their dice in any direction (a Sentry cannot Advance as part of this move). If the rolls are tied, the Sentry does not move.
At the start of the game, all is quiet and the alarm has yet to be sounded, but it is raised if any of the following occur:
A model from the Attacker’s army fires a non-silenced ranged weapon. Silenced ranged weapons are weapons that can ignore the “Look Out Sir” rule (e.g. Sniper Rifles). If the Attacker’s army fires any silenced ranged weapons, the alarm is raised if they hit but fail to kill their target with that shooting attack (as the target certainly feels the shots!)—and if targeting units with multiple models, the alarm is raised if any of the models in the targeted unit survive.
A model from the Attacking player’s army attacks a Sentry or a non-Sentry unit in the Fight phase but fails to kill them (in the latter case, the entire non-Sentry unit would need to be killed in the single fight phase). Note that the Defender’s models cannot fire Overwatch during the “Sentry Turns” phase of the game.
A model from the Attacking player’s army is spotted by a Sentry. An enemy unit is spotted if it is within a certain range of any Sentry at the end of any Movement phase (whether or not that unit is visible to the Sentry). The spotting range depends upon the Power Level of the Attacker’s unit, as detailed below:
5 or less
20 or more
*Note that vehicles and anything deemed “loud” (e.g. all Ork units that aren’t Kommandos or Gretchin) double their PL for purposes of this chart.
When the alarm is sounded, the Sentry Turns end and the game begins with turn one. If the alarm is raised during the Attacker’s turn, their turn ends after the action that raised the alarm has been completed. It is now the Defender’s turn one. If the alarm is raised during the Defender’s turn, then the Attacker and Defender roll off, the higher roll being the first turn of the regular game. In either case, the Sentries are now under full control of the Defender. The sentries must move in the movement phase toward regaining coherency, and when they’re in coherency those elements “form up” and remain a unit for the rest of the game. They otherwise act independently (shooting and charging) until they “form up” in a movement phase or other movement on the board. The Defender’s units that were “encamped” now are fully active and participate normally.
Mission One: Capture the Town
The Attackers are conducting a night raid to capture a critically-placed town. Their goal is to disrupt the enemy reserves and keep them from massing at the nearby beaches the following morning where the full invasion will be taking place.
The Defender’s deployment zone should include two notable buildings that form the center of the “town”. These serve as the objectives of the battle. Sentries can be placed anywhere within 18” of the Defender’s board edge, and need not be in the deployment zone (can be closer to the board edges). The Defender deploys their army and sentries entirely before the Attacker deploys. See the deployment zone chart below for the layout for the mission.
At the end of the game (5 normal turns), the Attacker wins if they hold more buildings than the Defender—holding both buildings or holding one while the Defender does not hold the other. If both hold one building, it’s a tie. Any other result is a win for the Defender. “Holding” a building requires that a unit be inside the building’s board footprint, and that no enemy unit be inside that footprint.
Mission Two: Spike the Big Guns
The Attackers are conducting a night raid to disable one of the massive artillery weapons of the Defenders—in this case a titanic battlesuit waiting in a drydock staging area. The goal is to destroy the towering battlesuit so the Defenders cannot use its long-ranged capabilities to bombard their landing forces the following morning of the full invasion.
The Defender’s deployment zone has a single additional model added to the game—a Lord of War Battlesuit such as a Ta’unar or Stormsurge (if adapting to other forces use something similar), which counts as the “Big Gun” objective and should be in the center of the battlefield. Sentries are maintaining a close perimeter to the Big Gun, so they must deploy within 3” of the Defender’s deployment zone. The Defender deploys their army and sentries entirely before the Attacker deploys. See the deployment zone chart below for the layout of the mission.
The Big Gun model is inactive for the battle, and the Defender’s forces should not include an equivalent or larger model. This model is not “active” in the battle, and a piece of terrain should be set up next to it to represent the suit being still connected to staging rigging. The staging rigging means the suit cannot be disabled at range (fueled defensive shielding or otherwise encased safely). Instead, the Attackers must destroy it with the demo charges that they have brought for the purpose. A Ta’unar Big Gun has 30 wounds, while a Stormsurge Big Gun has 22 wounds. Attacking infantry units can begin an action in their shooting phase instead of shooting (unless they have a special rule to shoot and do actions) as long as they did not advance that turn and are in base-contact with the Big Gun to “Plant Explosives”. The action concludes at the end of their turn as long as they do not Charge in the charge phase or are not engaged in the Fight phase. At that point, count the number of infantry models that conducted the Plant Explosives action and record it. Defender’s infantry models on their turn have an action as well, called “Clear Explosives”. Their action has the same restrictions as “Plant Explosives”. Again, at the end of their turn count the number of models who completed the action. At the start of each Attacker’s Command Phases (and once more at the very end of the game) the Attacker rolls a number of d6’s equal to the count of Attacking models who successfully completed the Plant Explosives action, counting all dice of 3+. The Defender rolls a number of d6’s equal to the count of Defenders who successfully completed the Clear Explosives Action, counting all dice of 5+. Subtract the Defender’s successes from the Attacker’s successes, and then apply the remaining number of Attacker successes as wounds to the Big Gun. The mission ends after 5 turns. If the Big Gun is destroyed at or before that timing, the Attacker wins. Any other result is a Defender victory.
Capture the Town: This affects the response time for the Defenders’ reinforcements. If the Attackers win, then any Defender reinforcements suffer penalty on their reserve rolls for the invasion missions (cumulative with the penalty for the Strategic Bombing mission from the Aeronautica game if that was an Attacker win).
Spike the Big Guns: This affects the quality of the barrage against the Attackers’ large landing ships, leading to slower deployment of the flotilla of landing craft. If the Defenders win this mission, then the Deployment zone for the Attackers on sea landing missions is only 12” rather than 18”.
More progress on the Drukhari, this time finishing up five Incubi. I’ve been needing to get squads of these together for my force, as they’re quite effective in the game. I’d been fiddling with the paint scheme, but finally found what I wanted. I think they turned out quite well. Setting them amidst the rest of the force makes them certainly stand out, but they still keep the same core colors (just in a different pattern), so I think they click nicely.
I also added yet another unit of five Wracks to my force. That makes a total of 25 Wracks–two squads of ten and one of five, which should make for a really good foundation of warriors for my force.
Next up I’m adding a whole set of models to my Wych Cult for the Commando Drop Missions, so stay tuned for those. I’m also painting up a set of ship-board battle terrain that I’ll leave at my local gaming store (it’s the basic set from GW for Into the Darkness kill team boarding actions, with a bit of an Orky mod to it). I’ve also got a plot for an Aeldari Outcasts/Corsairs/Exodite ship and/or base that is in my long-term plans for my own gaming table which I’ll do up at some point.
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 129 PL
Ezruin leaned in on the stick of the Nightwing fighter jet as it slipped near straight down to the surface of the planet below. He wanted to test the craft out a bit more in atmospheric flight, as he was not as familiar with the craft as some others. Archon Yraleath had connections somewhere on the Saim -Hann Craftworld, and had either bought, bartered, or pilfered thirteen Asuryani craft to form his own squadron of attack planes. Yraleath had dealt them out to his Dracons and Trueborn as gifts. And like all gifts from the Archon, these were double-bladed. Certainly their Craftworld cousins’ technology was excellent, and made for a sleek sky-borne force, and a handsome prize for each of Yraleath’s lieutenants. But at the same time none of them were expert pilots themselves, and Ezruin noted that the pair of Voidraven Bombers that the Archon used to supplement his raiding parties at times were nowhere to be seen amidst the attack. Was this yet another chance to potentially cull the various subordinates within the Kabal? If so, then Yraleath was foolish–as the more skilled would be more likely to survive. But then again, it may be a matter of setting them up in comparison to the well-trained Craftworlders whose blue jets and bombers had joined in the attack. A chance for Yraleath to berate the lack of skill of a Dracon by speaking well of a kin’s craft that beat them to the punch? Ezruin pulled back on the stick at the near last moment, his plane leveling out and barreling along the smoky ground. The distraction of these things would cost him. Focus on the mission.
Ezruin’s Nightwing had been fitted with underslung missile launchers, and served as a sort of torpedo bomber in design. Ride in low over the ground and loose missiles into the varied industrial and command-and-control targets that they had identified. Yraleath had some sort of network of scouts that had provided him information on critical targets of T’au logistics in advance. Ezruin hadn’t seen any Mandrakes slinking around the ship nor in the court of late, so he wondered if this was more collaboration with their Craftworld kin. Before the spread of the Ynnari into the streets and courts of Commorragh connections to the kin had been infrequent and often violent. Yraleath was no Corsair, but a proper Drukhari Archon, so these connections were unseemly to a Trueborn like Ezruin.
The Aeldari planes drew together into a wide formation, screaming toward the set of targets on the horizon. Their instructions were clear: destroy the critical infrastructure, down T’au planes where possible but if the foe hangs at range use defensive maneuvering and elevation changes to keep the defensive force chasing shadows. A trio of three Phoenix bombers raced ahead followed by a swarming cluster of the Craftworlders. Ezruin immediately noticed the difference–the Drukhari were all skilled, certainly. But they were not dedicated to the craft of flight in the way of their kin, not by a long shot. While his Kabal’s red planes flew in straight, swooping arcs, the blue planes of the Craftworld tore into all manner of complicated flight pathing, weaving in and out of each others’ way like some complicated ballet. Ezruin was impressed, will be more impressed if they could weave the death of their foes equally well.
In an instant, the battle was engaged in full, with planes from both sides criss-crossing each other amidst the complete dogfight. Ezruin kept his plane low, seeing the T’au anti-aircraft weapons spooling lines of flak fire thru the smoke. T’au fightercraft wove through the Aeldari forces, dropping plane after plane once they got closer. The thicket of fire was intense, but Ezruin finally loosed his two loads of missiles onto a T’au supply depot. The blossoming explosions caught some manner of ammunition depot inside, and the thing went off like a fireball–causing the hazy smoke of the sky to flash orange and nearly blind Ezruin.
Within just minutes the signal was relayed that all targets were hit and confirmed, and that flyers should return to their bays on the waiting Void Stalker starships that had puled back to low orbit after discharging them. Ezruin pulled the Nightwing sharply along a river canyon, low enough that the treeline obscured his progress. This was all part of the invasion plan, but the good part would be next. Fightercraft battles were fine, but the exhilaration of combat in person is where he would truly find some release. He could feel the dark whispers at the back of his mind, the pull on his soul. Soon enough, T’au blood would quiet them… at least for a stretch. The T’au at the actual beachhead should be suitably isolated thanks to this attack–their reserves delayed. While the Craftworlders wanted to get the world back as a whole, Ezruin knew that Archon Yraleath was not the sort to stick around for a protracted campaign. What he wanted and why remained to be seen.
So much painting, so little time. I added three new Nightwings to my Aeronautica force for the game. You can’t see it really clearly in the pics below, but they have missile launchers so they’re suited for the ground attack role (which is why I went sweptwing extended, and a “torpedo run” angle pointing more downward than my other planes.
This was the last Aeronautica event (as our current plans stand, at least), so I also put some energy into painting regular Drukhari forces for the next stages of our Neo-Normandy invasion (as well as for some boarding action fun coming up at our outstanding local game store, Drawbridge Games).
That meant adding even more Drukhari Wracks to my forces. Tried to batch paint them in greater numbers, but working on groups of five ultimately became what I could tolerate. Did five (above) with an Acothyst bearing a Mindphase Gauntlet and a Stinger Pistol plus one model with a Liquifier Gun. Then another five to round them out to ten, with another Liquifier Gun. Again, I remain pleased with how these models look when they’re finished. Having now finished up 20 total of them they’re getting to be a sizeable addition to the force.
I also wanted to finally add some Incubi to my army. They’re such cool models, and great in the game. They took some thinking on how I would paint them, so I’m sharing the test model I did up below. I wanted to ensure they were mostly in black armor, and that there was enough red to tie them to the others. I saw some professionally painted models that did white in part that I really liked, so I gave it a go myself.
Overall I’m pretty pleased, and the full squad of five is next up in my painting queue. This is good as a start, because I’m also likely to be dabbling in a bit of Craftworlds Aeldari as I go forward, so working out the balance of aspect shrines with my own army overall colors will be a long term goal. Incubi are technically aspect warriors themselves, which is cool. So more ahead!
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 122 PL
Kor’Vre Vior’la Ires had been the Navigator and Weapons Operator on his Tiger Shark AX-1-0 for three years. Seconded by the Air Caste to the No’ohrm Ha’an system for system defense, Ires’ combat wing had been stationed on the fourth planet in the system for quite some time. The system itself had strategic expansion import, and there were a few times that the wing had been deployed in full combat status. Most recently an Ork Rok fortress drifted into the system outskirts, and disgorged that race’s motley forces across the sixth and seventh planets of the system. Ires’ plane had downed three Ork Stompas as they raged across the chemical fields of one of the planets, saving countless T’au lives from their cruel guns. With his pilot Kor’El Diaron dodging the thicket of flak fire they monstrosities kicked out, Ires could focus on using the paired railguns of their plane to demolish the Orks’ heaviest of equipment.
The fourth planet was a good spot for a base, as the planet was itself a delightfully relaxing place. Covered in natural vegetation and the ivory and limestone constructions of some past civilization made it smooth for them to all settle down and into the pace of life there. Even amidst military drill, the atmosphere of calm and comfort filled the planet. Apparently the only predator species on the planet were occasional feral gyrinxes, which made the basic animal life of the place calm. Ires was watching a few birds alight on a tree outside the ivory structure where he had made his home outside the barracks, when the peace was shattered. The warning sirens went off–shrill in the warm air. “Scramble” Ires recognized immediately, and without even grabbing his personal pack he dashed fast as he could across the smooth courtyards and garden terraces to reach the airfield the Earth Caste had carved from the greenery.
As Ires settled into his navigator’s seat in the plane, he was already asking Diaron what she knew of the threat.
“Came out of nowhere. A fleet of Aeldari ships sporting all sorts of make and marking apparently. More than just pirates and raiders tho. This is an invasion force.”
Ires’ computer was spitting out threats, both in the space above the planet and the atmosphere of the planet itself. Seems like the fourth planet was the focus–the board was lit up with enemy fighter craft streaking in formation across the skies. They seemed to be targeting the two main air bases, and already the pair of Gal’leath class Battleships from the Merchant Fleet in high orbit were broadcasting distress calls. Had the capital weapons of the Aeldari stricken their main system ships? How did the Water Caste not warn them of potential attack?
Diaron guided their Tiger Shark into formation with the swarming Barracudas and other Tiger Sharks. If the capital ships were crippled, it was a good thing that they had taken the time to build terrestrial bases for some of the air forces perhaps. Maybe the Water Caste were more prepared than they expected.
Drone-captured video feeds of the enemy attack wing registered on their instruments. “At least three different color schemes amongst the Aeldari planes,” he said to Diaron over the comms. “Three Craftworlds?”
“Perhaps,” she replied. “Or perhaps just raiders? Though this is a big force for raiders.”
Ires had never faced Aeldari in actual combat before, only in computer-run simulations. He was prepared for them to have both perfect formations and then break into individual… flourishes… of pursuit when the battle enemy was reached. He was not ready for how flawless their ability to fly really was in person. Even the computer simulations could not capture the daring-ness of their maneuvers, so perfectly executed. Diaron could fly circles around Ork and Imperial fighters, even in their large Tiger Shark bomber. But she might as well be flying a bulk air tractor compared to the Aeldari’s grace and precision.
At least they had firepower volume, Ires thought. The railguns were actually not so effective against the swarming lighter craft, but Ires’ smaller armaments and turrets started to take their toll in sheer mass of fire. The Aeldari were perfection, but delicate perfection. It was all about closing fields of movement. Ires watched a foe plane snake through six columns of fire from four different T’au vessels. Even the slightest gap in fire would be used by the Aeldari to escape. Ires programmed the targeting solutions to closer bursts–waves of fire that hopefully formed a wall. The few Aeldari planes that had been dropped took only a couple of hits to down at most.
Ires managed to down a Phoenix class bomber (according to the ident computer, that was the designation), and proudly broadcast the basis of his firing solutions to the wing’s gunners at large. However, in that moment he noted just how many planes had been lost. The Aeldari first strike had eliminated too many ships, taking out as many of the Barracuda fighters as they could manage first–then turning on the slower Tiger Sharks. Diaron had already gotten the call, and was snaking their way out of the conflict space. They and a sole Barracuda managed to get free and shake pursuit. While the Aeldari had taken losses, it wasn’t as dramatic as what the T’au wing had suffered.
Diaron guided the Tiger Shark up out of the atmosphere, and toward the fifth and sixth planets in system–engaging the gravitic drive to make further distance from the spot of conflict at rapid pace. There were ample ground assets on the fourth planet, and the dense hedgerows of the the green countryside would make for slow going for a conventional invasion force. The T’au might have time to regroup, and with time could surely outnumber the Aeldari. The question was whether the remnants of their fighter wing, the other fighter wing, and the remaining space fleet could protect the skies or not. In the short term, the Aeldari would have the advantage. The air war had begun to be theirs, and if they would start with strategic air attacks or a full-on assault, only time would tell. Ires found himself thinking about his pack, back on the ancient terrace where he had been bunking. Was the design Aeldari? Or some other lost race? Either way, he had lost friends and his dwellings, at least for the moment with the latter. He began writing up a more nuanced firing solution to share with the wing’s Kor’O when they could reach contact. The Aeldari would go no further if he could prevent it.
I painted up yet more Aeronautica Imperialis planes for this game. Two more Phoenix bombers joined the ranks, both with Starcannons to serve as close firing attack craft.
For longer range, I built and painted a delightful Forgeworld model: the Vampire Hunter. It’s a great looking plane, and I love the look of it (please Forgeworld… re-release this one in 40k scale for us). It’s rules in the game are underwhelming. Sort of a long-range heavy damage plane. Not awful, but my Phoenixes and Nightwings did way more work during the battle than the Vampire.
Finally, I’ve also been working on my 40k Drukhari forces. Added another 5 Wracks to my completed pile, which was fun. I’ve got more of these on the docket as well, as I want to flesh out some big squads of bodies for the invasion scenarios. Needs to be those masses of soldiers unloading off of Raiders onto the beach to assault the T’au lines. And Wracks will be part of that.
All told a lot of painting done! Yet more to go. Much more.
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 116 PL
About two years ago now, the amazing Ryan built an enormous 12-foot wide, 4-foot long Space Hulk board for Drawbridge Games’ grand opening celebration at their new location. We ran a special Space Hulk event with it: https://the-dark-muse.com/2021/07/05/drawbridge-grand-opening-celebration/. We ran that event at 25 PL and focused on infantry only with a single HQ character–which is quite similar to what the Arks of Omen rules utilize for those boarding action games. Thus, it’s time to run a new version of the Drawbridge Space Hulk event, with the all-new Games Workshop rules.
When: February 16th, with deployment starting at 6:00pm. Dice roll at 6:30pm sharp. Players who will arrive later can let us know and we can be ready for your force to cut their way in from an appropriate external bulkhead.
Who and What: You! All players are welcome, it’s a $5 entry fee for the event. Bring an Arks of Omen Boarding Patrol, using the mustering rules on page 64 of the Arks of Omen book. Short version is 500 points consisting of HQ 0-1, Troops 0-3, and Elites 0-3. Only infantry allowed and nothing with the Fly keyword, and only a few exceptions (found here: https://www.warhammer-community.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/qPJwZxeX8lH4HarK.pdf). Force Warlords gain a single Boarding Action Enhancement (page 63 of Arks of Omen), but no other Warlord Traits or Relics. If you’ve got questions, just inquire on the Drawbridge Games Events facebook page. All models need to be painted–the usual three colors rule applies. If players cannot bring 500 points, they can bring fewer if they wish (as we want everyone to feel welcome to join in, no matter how much you’ve got painted of late).
Background: Amidst the flotilla of Arks of Omen that have been unleashed by Abaddon and Vashtorr, sails the overhauled and dark techno-purposed Space Hulk Baccillum Dulcis. Thought scuttled by an alliance of Imperial forces, the hulk had burst its way back into the warp where it was re-engineered into one of the fleet. Laden with forces of Chaos in the grand assault, once more a rushed set of Imperial defenses dispatch to take out the Hulk as it emerged once again–this time in the Scylla Quintus system. At the same time, varied Xenos forces have converged on the Baccillum Dulcis–keen to get their hands on lost techno-arcana (or to just plain fight in the case of the Orks, and to just plain eat in the case of the Tyranids).
Three Teams: The assembled players will be divided into three teams fighting their way through the Hulk. They will roughly be Imperial, Chaos, and Xenos, tho numbers may mean some adjustments and allies of convenience amidst them. This time the Chaos team will be set up in the middle, as they occupy the Ark, while the Imperial team establishes a joint assault from one side (and Xenos raiders strike across other varied points.
Procedure: Rules for Boarding Actions will be in play, particularly the measuring, visibility, and allocating attacks rules. There will be a set of defined mission objectives that are given in secret to each player for their own 500 point force to try and accomplish, which will add toward the score for their side. The side that scores the most mission points from these across all team members will win the event: either triumphing and forging onward in the case of Chaos, scuttling the Ark in the case of the Imperials, or making off with particularly choice prizes in the case of Xenos. We won’t use any Command Points given the size of the game, and there may be some other changes that we need to do given the situation–but on the whole it should run using these rules pretty smoothly.
Prizes: As always, we’ll have a few prizes for the event that we’ll give out–and all players can win (not just those who side has victory). Players get one entry into the prize draw for attending, and one entry for each new unit they painted specifically for this event. This time our best painted variant will be “coolest boarding force” which is both about painting skill but selection of units that make up a proper boarding party–and winners of that get additional entries. Finally, there will be bonuses for completing portions of your secret mission, as well as bonuses for every player on the side that wins the event. Players must be present at the end of the night to be part of the prize draw.
As I indicated in my prior post, a few of us at my LGS (the outstanding Drawbridge Games, in Pittsburgh, PA, USA) are doing a Warhammer 40k re-fight of the Normandy invasion in WWII as a series of linked campaign games. The story set-up for the entire invasion can be found in this post: https://the-dark-muse.com/2023/01/02/the-invasion-of-planet-noohrm-haan-d/ We’re doing the missions as Tau as defenders, with Aeldari (both Drukhari and Asuyani) as attackers. I’ll have a blog post about how each of the battles fares as we play them, but I also wanted to set up the parameters of the various games that we’re playing so that if others were inclined to do their own Normandy-themed campaign they could. There are four phases of the campaign, which include multiple games within each phase. The four phases are: the Strategic Air War, the Airborne Landings, the D-Day Coastal Landings, and the Consolidated Invasion. We’ll be using a modified version of the Planet Strike rules from Games Workshop to guide these, where we’ll fight every battle but they result in consequences for further battles down the line, from rules modifications, bonus units, or just different missions based on results. Huge kudos to my friend Ryan for putting together the core of these rules for the set of games and having the idea for it in the first place.
Phase One: Strategic Air War
This phase of the invasion involves the dogfight squadron battles to establish air supremacy, followed by an attempt by the attackers to strategically bomb the supply lines of the defenders in the lead-up to the invasion. We’ll play this out with two sequential games of Aeronautica Imperialis.
Game One: Air Supremacy
The attackers are seeking to gain air superiority by tackling the defender air assets directly. This game played as a standard Aeronautica Imperials dogfight with two equal sides. Points for enemy flyers eliminated are used to calculate margin of victory.
For our game, we’re having a whopping 500 points vs 500 points (or more!) battle, with the mighty Tau Tiger Sharks and Barracudas being struck by swarming Aeldari Nightwing Fighters and Phoenix Bombers. We use the optional damage rules, as tailspins, smoking hits, and on-board fires make for a much more amusing game overall.
For outcomes, a victory by the defenders slows the ability of the attackers to completely own the skies on landing day. However, they still have the strategic advantage at this point of the war in the air, so there’s no bonus conferred for a defender win. If the attackers win, however, the leave the skies of the shores undefended while the defenders’ air force withdraws to protect more inland targets. That awards the attackers the following ability for the D-Day Coastal Landing missions in Phase Three.
Tactical Bombing Run: Once per game in the D-Day Coastal Landings battles, the attackers can call in air support to soften up a visible-by-air hard target and/or defensive position of the defenders. During their Command Phase of any term, the attackers can nominate a single enemy unit or fortification, and roll a d6. On the score of a 3 or better, the bomb hits on-target. They get a +1 to the roll if the target is a Titanic Vehicle (in this game, that’s the KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Suit or the KV128 Stormsurge), and a +2 to the roll if the target is a Fortification. If they target an infantry unit, then instead there is a -2 to the roll. On a successful 3+ hit, the target takes 2d3 mortal wounds. On the result of a modified 6, all units within 3″ of the target take 1d3 mortal wounds. If the target is a fortification, on a hit the fortification takes 2d6 mortal wounds rather than 2d3, and units inside take 1d3 mortal wounds. This also can explode on a modified roll of 6 as above (as ammo stockpiles or critical machinery detonate).
Game Two: Strategic Bombing
The attackers are preparing for the coming invasion by bombing roads, bridges, railways, and landing pads to deny options from the defender in preparation for the looming coastal assault. This game is played as a modified Aeronautica Imperialis bombing mission, where the defender has three bomb-able ground targets that can yield points to the attacking forces. Each has 5 structure points, and yields 5 victory points for each structure destroyed plus a bonus 5 if destroyed completely. Two of the targets have defenses that can return fire as normal until destroyed.
Again, we’re hoping to have 500+ points of planes per side in our fighting of the battle, which makes for a pretty epic air combat, and again use the optional damage rules as well for the game.
For outcomes, again the defenders are trying to just hold on and keep their defenses intact. A win for them ensures that their reserve forces and materiel are un-interrupted. However, a win for the attackers in this mission will disrupt the reserves of the defenders. They gain the following bonus during the D-Day Coastal Landings phase of the battle:
Delayed Reserves: The Defender in this scenario suffers a -1 to all reserve rolls using the Planetstrike Mission Rules reserve charts.
Once the Strategic Air War phase of the invasion finishes these two missions, it moves on to the second phase: Airborne Landings (which will be the next rules post on this site).
Air Force and Airborne units both are things I’ve added to my painted pile. I had four Aeronautica Aeldari planes done, so I added two Phoenix Bombers and a Nightwing to increase the force (and I have more to finish).
And while it’s looking a bit ahead, I also finished up a unit of Scourges to help flesh out the Airborne troops of my force for that phase of the invasion. I’m super-pleased with the Hawk Wing paint scheme on these, which matches the first unit of Scourges that I painted up with Haywire Blasters.
All-in-all a good amount of painting progress to get ready for the Assault on Neo-Normandy invasion missions that we have ahead these next few months.
Army Painted Totals
40k Aeldari (Primarily Drukhari but also Asuryani, Ynnari, and Harlequins): 113 PL total, 5 PL in 2023
Aeronautica Imperialis Aeldari: 198 points, 86 points in 2023