Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Empire Battle Wizards: now with herbs

There came a point - somewhere aroundabout the fourth Empire Battle Wizard - that I realised I was committed to producing one wizard for each of the eight lores of magic. To that end, the fourth wizard to get a spot in the cabinet is Ruprecht Grunwald of the Jade College:

He’s hairy, he knows no bathing habits, and he uses dried plants to fix most problems, but if you called him a tree-hugging hippy he’d... he’d... ok he’d just shrug his acquiescence and offer you a puff on the Happy Pipe.*

The prospect of being able to use any of the eight lores in a game is enticing, but to be honest, the main draw is getting to paint eight very different characters. One generic entry in the heroes section of an army list can spawn so much variety.

This old Radagast model is quite chunky compared to the other models in GW’s Lord of the Rings range, so it fits perfectly among Warhammer models. He’d probably work just as well as an Amber wizard, but I have other plans for that lore, and this dude looks like the hippy druid to end all hippy druids.

This raised the question as to why he’s got a pet crow, because a man can’t just have a pet crow. Even if he’s a wizard.

Eventually, I figured that a magic bird savvy in leaf recognition would be a genius familiar for a herbalist. Got a medical emergency? Need to find some horsetail? Put the crow on it. He’s all over it like David Cameron on U-turns.

Left to right: Light, Heavens, Life, Death

Were I a sensible gamer, I’d make sure anyone using the Lore of Life was a high-level caster. Throne of Vines is a really cool spell that has no effect in itself, but buffs the other spells in the lore – pretty awesome, unless your level one hippy rolls it for their one spell. Regular readers, however, will know I'm a sucker for character at the occasional expense of effectiveness, and as such, Ruprecht is a relatively young wizard, and is only level one at the moment. He’s more there for story and variety than serious battle-ready casting.

I’ve already got plans for the remaining four wizards. Wait, scratch that, I’ve already got models for three of them, one of which is already prepped for painting. Hello, lore of shadow...


*He's not actually a stoner. Or rather, he's not just a stoner. He's got beliefs and stuff. More on that as and when he gets introduced into the campaign.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Liking it large

Greetings fellow bunker dwellers! ‘Tis I, Jeff, with a slightly different offering for you all. Today, I want to talk to you about how size matters to me. See for me, I always prefer as big as I can cram in.

Huh? No, I’m talking about hordes in Warhammer. What else would I be... oh.

Seriously though, I love large units in Warhammer, always have. Even in the dark days of the early nineties when a warhammer unit could be five Chaos Warriors and a “block” of fifteen Orcs looked sizeable I was never happy. These piddly small units never looked like regiments to me. They were five blokes out for a fight with a flag. The spectacle just wasn’t there. I remember, actually, the first time I saw Andy Chamber’s ancient Skaven army, all the bases done as cavern flooring rather than green sawdust, all the units dense blocks of ratmen. That, that right there, that was an army thought 10 year old me. Fast forward 24 years and I still think this. I still consider a unit of 15 to be mere skirmishers and 24-30 to be my natural size of unit. I even do it with “elite” armies (I.E. high points cost, high skill and thus low numbers). My Dwarfs are full of decent, crunchy block units and I’m thinking of adding a horde of greataxe wielding warriors if I can ever find models to do it justice (c’mon GW, give us a new Dwarf core box, please?).

Is this not better? Is this not your natural state of being?
These days though, we have a new and beautiful thing for lovers of large units to play with: the Horde. 10 Models wide – unheard of in previous editions, even I thought 7 was a lot – deep ranked and with rules to reward it. Hordes fight with an extra rank compared to other normal units so with spears deal a punishing four ranks of stabbing. Not to be sneezed at. If you are a “horde” army to begin with (low points, low skill, high numbers) then you can fit loads of these into an army. Consider exhibit ‘A’, my 2.5k Goblin list:

Yeah baby! That’s three 50 strong Night Gobbo hordes with spears. Now Goblins, Undead and Skaven are probably the only armies that can field quite such ridiculous numbers of troops. But at a sensible points value 2-3k almost all armies can consider having a decent horde sized unit amongst their ranks. But why do you want them? Well, there are a couple of really solid tactical options when you have a horde: [continues after the jump]

Monday, 2 September 2013

Index Astartes

Hi Bunkerers and Bunkerettes,

With the announcement of the new Space Marine codex I got a little bit excited about doing a new army. Now that my Dark Angels are up to about 2.5k I was feeling the green fatigue and was looking for something new. I decided, as with most things we do here at the Beard Bunker, to start with building a theme, a concept and a style. After a few discussions and changes of mind I came up with something, and it's slightly different to my normal thing. For a start there isn't going to be any tanks what so ever. Blasphemy I hear you cry. Well, be patient little Beardlings and all will be clarified. How? Well I shamelessly stole a concept from a Mister Mike Fogg, and wrote an Index Astartes. So, without further ado, I present the Sons of Rhea (pronounced Re-aah).

                                                                Index Astartes
                                                                 Sons of Rhea


The Sons of Rhea was founded at the request of the Ultramarines after the second war of Armageddon with the view to creating a force specialising in aquatic operations such as ship boardings, anti-submersible actions and general underwater work. This was in response to repeated use of surface and submersible craft by Ork raiders and an increase in Tau underwater mining operations.

Chapter Badge


After the founding the Sons began the search for a suitable homeworld. The decision to adopt the Pylos system was made due to its composition of several oceanic worlds. The population, whilst nominally loyal to the imperium, were largely overlooked and regularly raided by both Human and Dark Eldar raiders. The first test for the Sons was to claim the world and secure it from the raiders. A series of bloody but brief engagements soon settled the Human threat. The Dark Eldar menace was only increased by the Sons presence as the xenos only saw the defense and counter assault put up by the Sons as an extra element to the game. The Sons 2nd Watch is permanently stationed in the Pylos system to counter the regular raids.

The Sons have been involved in several notable actions against submerged Tau facilities. In these missions the Sons gained the tactical advantage by using drop pods to deploy troops directly into the facilities via low level orbital launches and only engaging the drop pod’s arrester rockets after the pod had plunged through the ocean above and penetrated the outer hull of the mining stations causing a great deal of damage and disorientation among the defenders.

Other notable actions by the Sons involved elements of the 3rd, 5th and 8th Watches making a pre-emptive assault against an Ork Kil-Kroozer making it’s way into the outer reaches of the Armageddon system. They successfully deployed via assault ram and beat their way into the heart of the ship to disable the engines, which left the ship at the mercy of the imperial navy, which took no time destroying the vessel.

The actions of the Sons of Rhea have gain a certain amount of praise and admiration from Space Wolf commanders for their use of shock and awe tactics, particularly when during the Battle of Thresslax the Sons 5th and 6th Watches deployed unannounced directly into the path of the main assault of Hive Fleet Colossus. This prevented the flank of the Space Wolves being overrun. This action cost the Sons dearly as both Watches were reduced to just a handful of Marines before the Space Wolves could provide support.

However, they have gained an equal amount of criticism from many chapters for recklessly interjecting in several situations unasked for. Of note was the occasion when the Sons 4th Watch decided that the Imperial Fist’s siege of a Chaos Cultist strong hold was too cautious and decided to deploy via Drop Pod directly into the main stronghold without sending notification to the Imperial Fists about the action. This disrupted the carefully planned assault and caused the Imperial Fists to launch their assault early.

4th Watch Brother-Sargent


The Sons of Rhea hail from the Pylos system, a series of Oceanic worlds with extensive underwater mining operations. Only 3 of the 6 planets in the system are habitable, Pylos 3, 4, and 5.

Pylos 1 is far too close to the system’s Class A Dwarf star and the surface is mostly molten rock.

Pylos 2 and 3 orbit the star at roughly the same distance and on a similar orbital pattern but remain on opposite sides of the star. The Twins, as they are known locally, are twice standard Terra sized and are tropical at the equator and temperate bordering in tundra at the poles. The Twins are densely populated and are geared to the mining and processing of heavy metals. However, there are few land masses and those that do exist are only just big enough enough to house the transport hubs and spaceports. The population are confined to floating hive cities that anchor to the seabed to conduct the mining operations.

Pylos 4 is much smaller, half standard Terra and further out than 2 & 3 resulting in a much harsher environment with temperatures only making it above freezing around the equator and has substantial ice fields at the poles. The ice rarely has a chance to compact completely as the surface water is constantly rocked with storms and underwater earthquakes. Even though the planet has a greater land mass above the surface these storms, combined with the mountainous nature of what is available, meant the planet was never colonised. The Twins provided a far more appealing climate and a far greater yield of resources. It was on Pylos 4 that the Sons of Rhea built their fortress monastery.

Pylos 5 was once a habitable, if cold world but was stripped of its atmosphere and surface water by a shift in the stellar winds. It is standard Terra sized and suffers from gravitational fluctuations due to its irregular solar orbit. It is however used by the Sons as a training and proving grounds. The airless environment and unpredictable changes in gravity make it the perfect simulation for both nautical and void based assaults.

Pylos 6 is a tiny ball of ice far removed from the star. The surface is completely frozen and the planet, largely unaffected by the gravity of the star and too small to hold a moon in it’s grip has no tectonic activity and is cold to the core. The only thing of mention is a small monitoring station crewed by an unfortunate imperial guard garrison.


The Sons follow the Codex Astartes for the vast majority of their organisation. With a few minor aesthetic variations.

A Company is usually referred to as a ‘Watch’.

The Scout Company are normally known as ‘The Deckers’. This is either referring to the recruits being taken freshly from the decks of one of the Hive Ships or because of the local underhive word for Ten being Deca.

1st Watch Veterans wear the same helm colours as their brethren, they are only distinguished by the white shoulder pad and knee markings of the 1st Watch. All Sergeants and Honour Guards wear White Helms. All Watch Commanders (Captain equivalent) wear Bronze Helms.

3rd Watch Brother
Combat Doctrine

The Sons preferred tactic is a direct assault and close quarters combat/firefights. They specialise in Assaults on shipping, both terrestrial and space-borne. However, these tactics can be employed on fixed defenses and emplacements. They thrive on any situation where they are fighting in close confined spaces. They tend to equip themselves with Bolters, Flamers and Meltaguns.

A standard assault pattern would involve Sternguard/Tactical Squads supported by Devastator Squads using Heavy Bolters/Multi Meltas/Heavy Flamers and Ironclad Dreadnoughts making the initial breach either via Drop Pod or assault ram and creating a beachhead. Assault/Vanguard Squads and Terminators would then be used to either breakout or to flank and counter charge depending on the situation. Deckers in Storms would be used to contain the perimeters and catch any escaping foe or to fill gaps in the line. Landspeeders are used for longer ranged heavy support and tank hunting etc.

The Sons also do not keep any land vehicles and rely on being air-mobile. The Sons always deploy using either Assault Rams and Drop Pods when they need to punch straight into an enemy ship. Thunderhawks and Storm Eagles are used for standard deployments and the Deckers almost always deploy via Landspeeder Storms. Fire Support comes from Land Speeders and Close Support from Dreadnoughts. The Sons favour Ironclad pattern Dreadnoughts.

Battle Cry

Call -’The Trident is thrown...’
Reply - ‘... and the earth shall shake!’

By creating this I've given myself a firm idea about the structure, styling and tactics of the Sons of Rhea. This will guide the unit choices, how I play and which games I decide to use the Sons in. It was important for me to create something different to the Dark Angels, I didn't see the point in doing something too close to what I'm used to. Also, this was something with tactics outside of my comfortable 'lets shoot it with a big tank' zone. So, this was a fluffy post. I'm working on the first few models and will be able to put up some pictures soon!