Friday, 31 May 2013

Comission work: Eldrad


With the release of Eldar right around the corner, I thought I might post the photos of the Eldrad I painted for a friend. You'll notice he isn't painted quite like the traditional eldrad, I decided Blue with Red and bone spot colours would look best given his (in)fame(y) as a particularly potent psyker. Note I don't know much about eldar, outside of the little I've read on Lexicanum. I don't know if this is a tragedy or not! 

I'll also note that today, the 31st of May, I've beaten my cap for "Most page views in a month", by about four. This Impressive feat (for a blog of a few thousand views) has garnered me just over 730 views (my original being 726). With that, I'm happy to announce that I'll be redesigning how I format my posts, hopefully with the intention of making them more readable for the viewers. 

If I have sufficient time, I will also do this for previous blog entries, so that I can make them too easier to read. 

The Model: 

Eldrad is one of those models that seems complex to paint. The fact is that he's packed with small details and a fine coat of wraithbone armour, which actually makes painting him little more than controlled fine brushwork and colour choices. I couldn't quite figure out whether or not to use washes on the armour, in the end I decided to use a blue glaze of the basecoat colour - kantor blue - to give the impression that beneath the wraithbone, Eldrad wears the same cloth he has over the rest of his body. 

I used red for the gems as well as to make the loins of the cloak stand out a bit more - I really appreciated the way the gems kinda popped out of the armour and helmet when I was done. 

The sword wasn't too complicated. it's simply a bone colour and a wash over the top. I made sure to do the hands and gems after the wash, so they didn't lose any colour in the meantime.

The cloak was pleasantly simple. a soft blue colour for the ridges to go over the deep blues of the cloak itself. I then drybrushed just a little of an even more cold blue over the cloak (you can't see it, it's not meant to be very noticeable.) 

So that's my Eldrad Model. I'm really happy with this model as a whole and I felt like it was a step up from my older models. Hopefully, this is a sign of new things for the future of my HQ's being painted. This is definitely one of my best works on Pewter. 

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Thinking about the Tau Codex.


Tau is not an Army that suffers from having bad options. No, it has a viable, powerful offensive threat in potentially every slot - even troops! (well, maybe I need to except Fast Attack; Though I think that bomber could be a pain in the right conditions), with some of the best supporting choices I've ever seen in Fast Attack and Heavy Support.

What this means, however, is that it has options that are made subpar. Not necessarily because they're bad, but because there's just simply something better.

During the course of these random thoughts, I hope to shed some light on the abilities of the forgotten units; how they can be utilised and some of the cool things that they can do that you might not have thought of.
I'll be looking also at unit survivability, unit damage output, maneuverability and support potential (both giving and receiving.).


I'm simply going to say it's a Tie between XV8's and Riptides. One puts out a lot of firepower, and can be outfitted variously, the other is just brutally difficult to put down. Both are reliably survivable and both can move quickly enough. Of course, this leaves Stealth suits as the unwanted prom-night dumpster baby (NSFW).  

The troop suits
But, what can Stealth Suits do? They're jet infantry, and they can infiltrate. This means that they can be anywhere. You can deepstrike them onto the field, then thrust them to a good position or you can outflank with them, again thrusting to a good position. Their drawback is being Toughness 3 and having only 1 wound. This is offset by their 3+ armour and 4+ cover save. They can also snipe targets because they put out enough shots to do so, and they can deal with a little bit of armour. 

One trick is to give the Shas'vre a Markerlight and targetlock, Fusion Blaster and some support system (a VRT for example) Although this example costs 65-ish points, it means that you can target the markerlight and fusion blaster at a separate target to the squad's target, and also drop a markerlight on the target. 
Other options include having them man the Quad gun and ADL. Although they're BS3, they're allowed to use the Quad gun in addition to their main gun - remember they're battlesuits, so they have a multitracker. 
What you can do here is give your other fusion blaster a TL, then give him the use of the Quad gun. This way, the squad can shoot at some infantry or light armour target, while the quad gun knocks down a flyer. 

Honestly, Stealth Battlesuits would be best suited to Troops, but don't tell a soul I think they should have their armour dropped to 4+ and moved to troops. 

Fast attack

The undisputed king of Fast attack is the Pathfinder squad. they are a cheap effective support squad, that only has one drawback: they have terrible armour. Other than that, it's 22 points per markerlight counter. A perfect early game support unit and mid game firesoaker.

Because of this efficiency, Fast attack is something of a graveyard - this is where all the other options come to die. In the second place, it's a tie between Drone Squads and Pirhanas for me. Firstly, Pirhanas have a small drone squad incorporated in their being, but are otherwise 200 points for 5 suicide fusion blasters - with a jink save. Who could want something better? Drone squads on the other hand, are a nuisance. They can provide markerlight support, but to do so effectively you need a commander with a drone controller. This is a waste of points when compared to pathfinder squads. Otherwise, they can harry an opponent's flanks with small arms fire at an affordable price. Also in this slot is the Sunshark bomber, just because it's a flyer with bombs. 

The Razorshark and it's close cousin, the Sunshark.
This means that the disputed place for worst option are Vespid and the unmemorable flyer with a weapon pretending to be as good as 2 twin-linked interceptor drones and 2 seeker missiles. Yeah. Actually, I changed my mind. There is one terrible option in this codex. This is it. 

As for Vespid, The stingwings aren't expressly terrible. The problem there is that Neutron Blaster. S5AP3 is a niche weapon. It's effective against PAEq, so you don't want to use it against anything with a save better than  3+, while not using it on anything worse than a 3+. That's fine against a Power Armoured army, but some armies will have very little PAEq. So you need to plan accordingly. 

On the other hand, Vespid are surprisingly decent shock troops. Although they're only S3 (I may be mis-remembering, if they're T3 and S4 tell me.) they're I6 which means that they can do a decent amount of damage on the charge, before getting slaughtered. Again, their 4+ save is efficient in combat. 

Heavy support

With the nerfing of broadsides, Heavy support has become a much less competitive slot. While broadsides can still put out a huge amount of firepower for a relatively small price (12 S7AP4 shots that are twin linked, 12 S7AP4 that aren't then 12 S5AP5 shots.) they can't deal with heavy armour quite so effectively. I suppose they can find usefulness if used with heavy rail rifles as anti-air weapons.

This means that the place for top dog has fallen to hammerheads. They are versatile, able to put out multiple kinds of high-strength firepower, with ion cannons being by far the most reliable option in the codex. 
Skyrays work well in conjunction with hammerheads, to markerlight skyborne targets like stormravens for the hammerheads more powerful weaponry. 

This leaves only Sniper teams to be at the bottom of the list, and I'm not so sure that this is a good place for them. They have stealth, markerlights and long range anti-infantry firepower all at BS5. I think sticking a sniper team on an objective with an ADL may be the most effective option available to the codex. BS5 on that quad gun and markerlight support, (remember that a drone, who is BS5 because of the firesight marksman may man the quad gun, so all 3 markerlights may be used.) all this means that sniper teams may be allowed to replace hammerheads in this slot, because they can do what pathfinders do, while putting the hurt on small enemies. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tau Hunter Cadre deployed

The Rise of the Tau

So I bought the Tau Codex when it came out. I was going to have a flip through, see what I liked and then start to paint up some models to use as allies if I liked them. I found an army bursting with codex-level synergy and lacking weaponry below Strength 5. In fact, the only S4 weapons I could find were the Flamer and the AFP.
Suits and accompanying drones

I also found an army with some really nice opportunities to make pleasing models that wouldn't take too much effort to paint.  At writing this, I've painted roughly 430 points. Not pictured here is my Cadre Fireblade (only painted this evening), but 8 Gun Drones, 12 Fire Warriors and 3 Crisis suits. 
I'm now painting some pathfinders, and I'm liking their new kit.

Some Fire warriors and accompanying drones.
Off to their left you can see some objective markers.
Only 8 more drones, 12-24 fire warriors and 0-18 kroot (I haven't decided yet.), 14 pathfinders, 3 more suits and a commander, a riptide and 3 tanks. 
So far, I'm finding my Tau really easy to paint. As you can see, I've gone with a dark green with red for the recesses. I did the red by mixing a bright red with medium then painting the recesses. after this, I overbrushed dark green onto the model and then painted as normal. On the battlesuit, dark parts are painted black. On fire warriors, cloth is brown. 

I used Yellow as my spot colour, as can be seen on gun drone's barrels and comms links. 

The models

The first Shas'ui is named Shingen. As a rule, I went with a japanese theme for naming characterful units in this Tau Army. Although the Tau are markedly different form japan in that they fight using ranged tactics almost exclusively (Japan does have a proud history of archery, with the Yumi still being used as a ceremonial tool.)

I'd also like to take this time to point out that I Love gun drones in this codex. They're 12 points for something that can take a missile in place of my 5-times-the-price battlesuit. I love watching my opponent's as I take meltagun shots on my drones and then armour saves on my suits. 12 points and free with boxes of fire warriors and battlesuits? I'm there!

So you might have noticed that this guy's arm is straight. I found this surprisingly difficult. For a kit that supports advanced ball-and-socket joints on its models, the shapes of the arms is surprisingly rigid. However, this Tau battlesuit is able to aim his fusion blaster directly and will be blowing up a land raider near you.

I decided to use that support system module as a Target lock. My plan is to run 3 FB battlesuits with TLs with 6 gun drones - the gun drones shoot at infantry and if need be, can select that as a squad to charge while the Fusion Blasters knock out other targets.

This guy is my favourite. I reposed his left leg so that it looks like he's coming down to curb stomp his opponent after shooting. I purposely posed his head facing away from the feet to give him that "I don't give a flying F***" feel about his utter destruction of his target's face.

Is it obvious I like violent video games?

This is my final player. He's a separate squad to the other two, going with 2 other suits and a commander. They all have Plasma guns and 2 gun drones each, as per my plasma nomad squad,

I decided to use both support systems, to show that the ATS is actually two support systems, each networked to a separate weapon. If I was using it on a broadside, I'd probably give a broad side 3 or four of these upgrades!

Here's a side view of his weapon

These are three of my objectives. I've written their values on the top as you can see. the neat thing about this is that they can be turned upside down to distribute the markers fairly. They're made from the shield generator support system available in the Battlesuit box, I'll be making another 3 when I get my next set of battlesuits. 

I also made a relic using the scenic base from my cadre fireblade and the objective thingamabobious available in the stealth team box.

The Fire warriors

First off, let me say that Fire warriors are the best Toughness 3 infantry in the game. Simply nothing compares. They are cheap at 9 points a pop and carry a 4+ armour save, a Strength 5 weapon (also being one of the only non-assaulting armies with an assault weapon available to such line infantry.) In addition to all this, Fire warriors can support each other and other units in the army, through the miracle of supporting fire and markerlighting. 

Again, gun drones are awesome to protect a cadre fireblade or the Shas'ui of the squad.

My Shas'ui isn't actually noted by his lack of a helmet, but by his yellow tau caste markings. I'm not quite sure how I'll differentiate between squads. I think for other squads, I'll paint the lower part of the shoulder shield a different colour.

You'll also notice that I've used minimal highlights, except for faces. I wanted to make my infantry take as little time as possible, so I don't run out of steam while painting.
Since these guys are going to be running with my Cadre Fireblade, I arranged the models to be in such a stance that they could feasibly be volley firing. The end result is quite pleasing.
Here are all 8 gun drones as a squadron. You'll note two have two antennae. These are the commanders or fireblade's drones, if it ever comes up.

Finally there were these baubles. They're my markerlight counters. I've written two M's on each and used the grenade-like thing from the fire warrior sprue as the counter.

I plan to make between 14 and 16, depending on how many pathfinders I end up running.

I hope you liked my Tau as much as I liked painting them. I expect that, budget willing and painting hand wanting, I'll be able to produce this army within six months - Of a 2k army, I've done roughly a fifth, with a quarter just around the corner in the form of 7 path finders...

Next time, I'll be showing my first ever real commission, a pewter Eldrad in a pleasing blue and red form.

Friday, 24 May 2013

An App Review: Quartermaster List Builder.

Hi guys, I've been using a program called Quartermaster for a long time. It's an iPhone and iPad app that produces clear, cohesive army lists for use in games. In this review, I intend to show the relative simplicity of list building on this app, while making sure that going into the product, you're aware of what you should expect. Firstly, I have no affiliation with the developer, but I will be the first to admit that I have a bias, having been very supportive of the app since its inception. Hopefully, the app can speak for itself. Finally, I apologise for the poor screenshots. I couldn't post them without them being huge or pixelated. I guess I went with the option that didn't overdo your data budget.

Quartermaster is in its 4th iteration, and should cost about $5. I promise you the amount of time and paper this program will save you will be well worth the cost. 

The good:

In my mind, there are 5 things that make Quartermaster fun to work with and useful. 
  1. Simplicity of list Building
  2. On-the-fly list editing
  3. Simple, clear summaries
  4. Forum Code Summaries
  5. Can be very intuitive when templates are well made.


Wow. This App is really, really easy to work with. I can sit pondering something on my current Tau army, bring up the list and change things very easily. As you can see on in the screencap here, it is possible to do individual models separately. This is very useful to me - my Battlesuits can very very differently, and using the "Attached units" option. Effectively, what I've done here is made every bodyguard in Farsight's enclave a separate entity - then the drones are a further separate entity. 

The other thing that quartermaster supplies me with is a running cost that updates as I make changes - so, it always lets me know how many points I have spent at the moment, and even gives me a percentage value for each section - this has made making fantasy lists just so much easier! 

Finally, the program makes it very easy to write your spam - it has a copy function that allows me to copy my spammy 12-man fire warrior troops.

Oh, another nice addition is that it is possible to write nicknames for characters and units into the program, I must admit I don't make much use of this function, but I felt it was worth a mention.

Useful summaries

This is what it looks like when produced as a summary: 

As you can see in this image, each battlesuit has his statline and specific wargear listed separately. This means I can tell my opponent exactly what each suit is wearing. The other nice thing about this form of summary is that Quartermaster produces it as an A4 page (or, if it is particularly long, it makes multiple pages) and at the bottom of the list lists all the special rules for those "magical" items I've entered rules for - this can be very useful for Tau, where there are a lot of different acronyms that are used for weapons. 

In addition to this, Quartermaster can produce an entire list, ready to be placed into a Forum, complete with forum formatting and written notes.

The Bad: 

Template editing

For all Quartermasters timesaving in army building, it has an issue in producing what it calls "Army Templates". Most likely due to legal concerns (we can all respect this. One would only have to look at the companies GW have strongarmed to realise that this is reasonable), Quartermaster requires that the user produce his own templates. This means adding every character, unit and tanks special rules, character chart and wargear options. Armies like Tau that often have a single wargear list have a bit of an easier time; they can write most wargear options once and be done with it. It also means that if a codex gets updated, you have to edit the template to compensate for changes in prices and organisation. 

Of course, the developers have thought about this. And how much of a drag it is to have to produce your own templates, so they have provided a website to allow users to get straight into list building. I tend to make my own list templates due to personal preferences, so I'm afraid I can't comment on how useful these templates are, but I believe most are made by users who own the program.

Slow to change

As far as I'm aware, Quartermaster is made by a one-man team. This means that sometimes issues can take a while to be resolved, but if you do have an issue, the developer is very good about responding to issues. 


As I have said, I've always been impressed with the program that quartermaster constitutes. If you're willing to shell out $5 for this program, I can assure you it won't let you down. I personally believe that it takes all the useful features of computer list builders and brings them to iOS in a very effective manner. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Advantages of a Hammerhead

I played a game today, against a guard playing opponent. He ran a list with 4 punishers and 3 normal Battle tanks, still a very fifth-edition list (He and I wrote it together, so I didn't really stop to think about what I was choosing too much. He had vendettas and a very small amount of infantry.)

I found that, despite the saturated armour on the field, the elysian fields of AV14, just ripe to be destroyed by rail guns, that they didn't manage to so much as blow up a single tank. I was taking two hammerheads for godsake, two! One had longstrike, and even longstrike only managed to glance twice and pen once - by god the pen wasn't even an explosion!

I got to thinking, what is a hammerheads actual chance of blowing up a land raider. How much potential do they actually have?

Well, let's think about it.

A normal hammerhead is 120 points, with BS4 and a single S10 AP1 shot at 72" range.

With a 67% chance, a 33% chance of penning and a 50% chance of then making the vehicle explode, we're looking at an actual chance of about 11% to make an AV14 side explode. 
For AV13, this chance goes up to about 16%.
For AV12, this chance goes up to about 22%
For AV11, this chance goes up to about 27%
and for AV10, it goes up to only 33%. 

Now sure, Longstrike does something to mitigate this issue, but not much.

Longstrike has a 83% chance of hitting, a 55% chance of penning, and as always, a 50% chance of making it explode. This means Longstrike has a 23% chance of making AV14 explode.

I don't know about you, but I won't be paying 170 points for a once-a-game effect.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Unforseen Value of the Neuroweb System Jammer

The Neurweb System Jammer


In this article I hope to show people that the NSJ, the oft-overlooked Signature system for the Battlesuits is possibly one of the most cost-effective weapons in the Tau Arsenal, versus infantry. (It can have an affect on tanks, I know. I just don't care.) To understand its value, we must look at three issues: Its Cost, the Cost of its target, and the chances that the target will die as a result of the rule. I will then look at the Pro's and Con's of this weapon. 


The Tau Battlesuit is notoriously expensive. However, this weapon is not expensive. It costs 2 points and takes up no space on a Tau Commander (where it should be taken.) That's all great and well, but what value does it have? Will it even make back its points? 

Most likely.

If the NSJ kills a Terminator, it's made back 20 times its cost. If it kills a Tactical marine, 8 times. A guardsman or Ork? 2.5 times. IT only has to kill one model during an entire game to do any damage. 

For future, I will be using these squads as examples:
5 Man Terminator Squad, 2+ save. with 12 shots - 10 SB, 2 CML.
10 man Tac Squad - 3+ save with 16 BG, 2 PG and a ML.
30 man ork squad - 5+ save with 60 Shoota Shots
10 man Guard squad - 5+ save with 20 Lasgun shots


the Beautiful thing about Gets hot! is that it doesn't need to wound. That means a Boltgun Getting Hot is just as dangerous as a plasma gun to a terminator. Consider the table above:
Grey Represents the Terminators I described
Blue the Tactical Marines
Dark Green the Guardsmen
Light Green the Orks. 

The highlighted value is an approximation of how many of that kind will die with one round of shooting, under the effects of an NSJ. (Note that the PG in the blue example already has Gets Hot! - I've done nothing to alter the example.)

That's a third of a terminator (so, 3 rounds may kill him.) - 13.34 points, or almost 7 times the cost of the upgrade.
That's 1 whole Tactical marine about 16.89 points, or 8 times the cost of the upgrade
2 and a fifth guardsmen - 11.11 points, or about 5.5 times the cost of the upgrade
and about 6 and 3 fifths of orks - 33.34 points, or almost 17 times the weapons price! 

I hope now that gamers can see some value in the NSJ as a tool. It is powerful in the right situations. I will admit, it may do nothing - but it isn't that likely.


The only real con of this weapon on a commander or bodyguard is distance. The model has to be within 12" of the enemy to use it - you may have just killed 6 orks, and another 5 to overwatch (4 Battlesuits with plasma guns and 8 gun drones, the standard loadout to take the NSJ.) But will can you survive a combat against 19 orks? 

That's actually a silly example; because you can. You'll do about 5 wounds, then hi and run out of combat, hopefully not losing more than a few drones. An even better question is, when they're at a distance of about 11" (you want the commander in 12", not any closer - but you don't want your Shas'o to be the first hit necessarily, so you should have drones in ablative positions.)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tau XV8 Wargear overview


A few days ago, I posted a few notes on XV8 builds, mostly on their tactics and their weapons. I rarely looked at the weapons themselves, but more looked at the tactics of specific builds. With this article, I plan to look into the wargear options themselves, their pros and their cons. 

Ranged Weapons

So, these are the Shooty Killy weapons that XV8 suits make use of. I'll be going through the weapons good and bad points, where to use them and with what support. 

Without further adieu:

Anti-infantry Weapons


Cheap Anti-infantry weapon. Ignores cover and is 100% accurate, at the cost of an extremely short (and thus dangerous) range. When using these, it is recommended that the suits each use this loadout:

3 suits with 2 flamers and Stimulant injectors each, 6 Gun Drones - launch them into assault and watch them hide - probably a good idea to give one suit a VRT, so they can hit and run in their opponent's shooting phase.

Also, if you have a support suit (MSSS and C&CN) run him with a flamer for overwatch.

Note that this is an anti-light infantry role. Tau Firewarriors are already awesome at this, so this is probably wasteful.

Burst Cannon

Cheap Anti-infantry weapon. Good Weight of fire, with decent range. Very versatile weapon with lots of roles that it is capable of fulfilling, none of which an XV8 should. 

BurstSuits can be run as anti-air. Take either a burst cannon and a missile pod with gun drones.
BurstSuits can  be run as Precision shot anti-infantry. Give Shas'vre a VRT and the other two an ATS with 2 burst cannons each and watch the sixes infuriate your opponent's lascannon squaddies.

I'm joking by the way. Disown your son if he runs burst cannons on his battlesuits.  

There's something better.

A note on anti-infantry suit weapons:

Both of these weapons are actually mediocre, not particularly bad. The two pieces simply suffer from "better option-itus", whence there is always something that can do it better. 

6 stealth suits can do this, being in range for it turn 1. They can also outflank, which is neat. More importantly, Fire warriors are far better at both of these roles, making burst cannons on Suits a joke and a half. 

Special Issue Weapons

Airbursting Fragmentation Projector

A flamer that has far longer range, works as a large blast and has pinning. Would be an awesome anti-infantry weapon, like the highlander, there can only ever be one. A decent price means that a Shas'ui might take it alongside Dakkasuits, but this weapon methinks would be better suited to a stealth suit than to an XV8 of any description. 

Cyclic Ion Blaster

Short range 3 shot autocannon, or a mediocre S8 blast. Maybe useful as an anti-infantry weapon, or anti-monster at a stretch, but this weapon is realistically a poor tool in the XV8 arsenal. Its AP4 is ill suited to killing its targets (Monsters like Trygons, XV104's and Paladins on overcharge.) and it is a poower anti-air option as it can only be taken once and pales in comparison to HYMP on the XV88 suits. Maybe useful ona commander, if you decide to go full missile pods?

Anti-Armour and Vehicle Weapons

Fusion Blaster

Fusion Blasters are a weapon to be feared. They are unmatched against vehicles, being the marriage of (I was going to say fusion here, I didn't feel like leaving the world with another horrid pun) of a meltagun's versatility and a multi-melta's ranged offensive capabilities. Furthermore, Fusion guns are possibly the best candidate against terminators, surpassed only by plasma guns; they are actually better against Paladins and other T4 multi-wound characters.

On the other hand, Fusion blasters suffer a similar problem to that of burst cannons and flamers; there's simply a better. Against armour, the sure-firing Hammerhead is possibly the most deadly single-shot anti-tank weapon in existence, with a 11% chance of killing a land Raider outright. Against terminators, the weight of fire put out by the plasmagun/gun drone build of the XV8 Plasma Nomad squad is undeniably king.

So it is that a Fusion Blaster is the offspring of two roles; Anti-heavy infantry and anti-armour. It creates a weapon that is competent at both roles, but suffers as a jack-of-some-trades-master-of-none kind of weapon. It is recommended that they're run in pairs on a set of 3 suits. Markerlighting ensures efficiency, and can allow them to fulfil any role very well. These units are surefire ways to hurt their main targets and won't disappoint.

Plasma Rifles

Tau have a knack for creating powerful, high strength weapons capable of eliminating the best combat monsters at short range. Suitable for ruining Terminators, Coteaz (A very memorable Failed Look Out Sir won me one particular game.) and anything that's survivable to small arms fire at the T3/4 mark. These weapons will ruin your opponent's hardest hitters before they have a chance to come to grips with close combat.

Plasma Rifles, spammed have only one weakness: Armour. They cannot deal with anything above AV11. This, of course, is a laughable weakness as Tau, as the army has the power of Fusion Blasters, Rail guns (to an extent, Heavy Rail Rifles too.) as well as a Jet-monster with a 2+5++/3++5+++. Truly, plasma rifles are the best option for the XV8 suit. With a Commander and 3 suits, 8 drones you can reliably kill most squads - if you take the time to weaken them with pulse rifle fire first (Dark Eldar Beast squads make this very important) and set up marker-light support, this unit will Flatten any infantry it comes up against. The only question is, which one do you take down first?

What's next?

My next article will cover the powers of support systems, showing readers how to create flexibility and increase effectiveness within their Tau Battlesuits.