Sunday, October 10, 2010

Full Review: Imperial Armour 9: The Badab War – Part 1

Disclaimer – I’ll be discussing the plot in a fair bit of detail, so there will be spoilers. Also, I’ll be discussing rules and the new units / missions, but I won’t be scanning or giving points or the like. Feel free to ask about other stuff though.

The book itself

The book is the standard Imperial Armour fare: hard cover, full colour, typos and weird grammar galore. I also got a squashed bug in the pages of mine as an added bonus.
Compared to the previous IA books, vol9 seems much more lavish. I’m not sure why exactly. Perhaps it is the more extensive star maps and more ‘high tech’ feel of the data-boxes and such (and we know I love the more high tech stuff), but it feels shinier for some reason. Another great part is that it is filled with the aforementioned callouts. There are notations on planets, stellar phenomena, and events not directly effecting the main story. On top of all this there are a few page long stories detailing part of a combat action in the style of a Black Library novel. I only skimmed these in all honesty, as I wanted to get on with the main plot, but they provide a welcome break and different (more visceral) take on the conflict.

New Astral Claws scheme and the mysterious Tiger's Claws

The Plot

The storyline is styled as an Ordo Hereticus account of the true history of the Badab War and the events leading up to the conflict.

It starts a thousand years before the conflict, describing the Maelstrom area, its economic importance (due to great mineral wealth), its dangerous nature (warp storms, pirates) , and then the establishment of Imperial worlds (including Badab, amongst others) as footholds on this wealth. The story continues to describe how one of these worlds is lost to a cultist uprising, and the entire region is nearly destroyed because of the loss. This leads to the establishment of the Maelstrom Wardens, a group of marine Chapters (under the leadership of the Astral Claws) permanently based in the area to cull such activities.

This is a great section, detailing how the Imperial Tithe works and how the distribution of materials and communication is held together. There is a great deal of background information available here about warp jumps, navigation waypoints and the distribution and assignment of Marine Chapters.

Events eventually leads to the Astral Claws getting Huron as their Chapter Master, and taking control of Badab proper, then the whole Badab sector to ‘protect these worlds and those souls that dwell upon them’. Cleverly Huron (and Alan Bligh) reference the realm of Ultramar as precedence. Huron grows more and more successful, and petitions Terra for more Chapters to totally destroy the threats. He is refused without even being heard.
In response he withholds the Badab sectors tithe and blocks trade through it, claiming he needs the resources to continue his fight as he isn’t being supplied by the Administratum.

The story here is very clever, as it makes Huron seem reasonable and within his rights – in fact it is a trick part for the Imperium as, by the laws, he is as an Astartes. But it still puts a number of nearby systems (the Karthans), now without trade routes to the greater Imperium, against him.
These economic rivals petitioned the Adminstratum, who ruled in their favour, and a fleet is sent to Badab to claim the tithe, by force if needs be. Naturally it all goes to hell and the tithe fleet is destroyed. Each side claims the other fired first, however there a few tidbits that there may have been a third party involved...

New Termie armour from Forge World coming up?

The situation worsens, and this eventually leads to Huron and his allies – the Lamenters and Mantis Warriors – to secede. The secession is only in regards to their tithes, as it is their right as Astartes to not have to pay. This coincides with a mysterious rise in pirate attacks on shipping, particularly on the Karthans. The Karthans call in the Fire Hawks to ‘protect shipping’, but it is known they bear a grudge against the Astral Claws and are volatile. Eventually the Fire Hawks come to battle with the Mantis Warriors, and wage a one chapter war against the others (it goes badly). The Marines Errant show up to help, and they do something useful by protecting shipping until the psychopathic Executioners appear to honour a blood debt to Huron.

This part gives a great insight into the different marine psyches and fighting styles, as well as various degrees of honour they give each other. For example the Marines Errant and Lamenters were giving quarter and merely chasing each other off, rather than engaging in full conflict, due to old ties of kinship. The Executioners only come along because they have an oath to do so and, while they enjoy the fighting, they only fight as is strictly necessary – withdrawing once a defence station is out of action rather than staying to finish the defenders off totally.

It is not totally ‘good guy, bad guy’ here either – the Fire Hawks effectively exterminatus a (medieval level) Mantis Warrior planet just to be jerks and as last act of spite as they withdraw. Similarly the Minotaurs kill 20% of the civillain population in a sector through collateral damage in a few months. It’s good (kinda) to see even the ‘good’ marines portrayed as merciless and indiscriminate in their tactics.

The events lead to a large number of ‘loyalist’ Chapters drawn in to arrest Huron for trial, though things again go wrong when an attempt at parley between the Red Scorpions master Ortys and Huron and the Mantis Warrior’s master Sartaq is interrupted by a number of Chaos vessels (two Iconoclast and one unknown), who proceed to blow up the asteroid. Ortys and Sartaq are both killed, though Huron obviously escapes. Red Scorpions Librarian Loth retrieves the body of his fallen boss through massive amounts of badassery.
Huron has been steadily going more and more mad as we go along, and is full on paranoid rant mode at this time. However all is not necessarily as it seems, as Sartaq had been growing uncomfortable with the standoff and considering laying down his guns. But with his apparent murder by the loyalists his Chapter was out for blood...

The war proper starts, with more marine chapters arriving and those considered too honourable to fight to the death with their brothers re-deployed elsewhere. The Salamanders resisted the orders though, and stayed in the fight. I found this a very well written part as it shows the Imperium is well aware of the different natures and temperaments of the chapters, and uses them to their advantage.

For how the war goes, you’ll have to buy the book for that. Suffice to say the Marines use camouflage, clever tactics and lots of brutality. There are also some surprises about why exactly Huron was withholding his Geneseed tithe, and what his long term plans really were.

Chapters of the Badab War

This section details half the Chapters involved in the fighting. Namely:

The Astral Claws,
The Fire Haws,
The Marines Errant,
Red Scorpions,
The Fire Angels,
The Raptors,
The Lamenters,
The Novamarines,
and the
Howling Griffons

(Book 2 will cover: Mantis Warriors, Executioners, Salamanders, Minotaurs, Sons of Medusa, Exorcists, Carcharodons [Space Sharks] and Star Phantoms).

Each chapter gets an eight page write up, which details their nature and personality, organisation and any variences/strengths/weaknesses, notable battle honours and the disposition of their forces in the war. It is good to see these relatively undeveloped chapters getting some love, though due to most of the loyalists at this point being ‘by the book’ types (who would be first to stand up against Huron’s bucking of Imperial Law) they do get a bit samey.

Also it is worth mentioning the mostly black Howling Griffins scheme (see Terminator below) is a camouflage pattern, not a wholesale change in livery. In keeping with the original Badab article the book features several alternate schemes for the marines.

Not emo, just cammo.

Campaign and Special Missions

The Badab Campaign system is designed to mimic the ‘historical’ events of the war, with five themed phases. There is no rigid battle system, but certain stages award more Campaign Points to certain styles of game.
For example Phase 1, mimicking the early skirmishes in space lanes, awards 3CPs for victories in Boarding Action missions, 2Cps for Battlefleet Gothic victories, and 1CP for any other type of game.
There are no hard rules for how long each phase lasts – the book suggests either each phase is the same number of games or a real world time limit passes. This prevents people dragging out phases to pull back a win, as winning a phase grants a bonus for the campaign – winning Phase 1 gives the Loyalists +1 to reserve rolls, and the Secessionists the option to re-roll Deep Strikes.

There are five special missions, each themed to one of the Campaign Phases, and one is The Angstrom Incident. So after twenty years the exact details are revealed of this, erm, incident and you can play it out even. It has a cool plot hook to boot.

Boarding Action Rules

This section is a mini-expansion in the vein of Cities of Death or Planetstrike – not a simple add-on to normal games like Battle Missions.
There is a modified FOC, with only one HQ and one other unit mandatory. There are unit restrictions as well, with the only vehicles being artillery or walkers on 60mm or smaller bases. The designers do note that they may still not fit everywhere, so caveat emptor!

There are a few special rules:
Hazardous Ground – vehicles and bikes treat difficult terrain as dangerous, as do jump infantry in certain circumstances.
The Cold Void – Weapons of more than Str4 get rending, rending gets better, and blasts are improved.
Catastrophic Damage – there is a table to represent the ship being boarded slowly falling apart. Doors may open or close on their own, the ground may become unstable, explosions may break out or parts of the ship (board) may vent into space!

There is a lengthy discussion about the different types of environments that can be fought over, including decks, holds and the outer hull which has a special rule, The Hungry Stars, to represent guys getting blasted out into space.

To play these rules there are three mission types, and even an optional stratagems section that blows my mind because it brings back the Graviton Gun! Other fun looking options include super Tarantulas (twin-linked Plasma Cannon!), drones, crew gangs, las-cutters and more.

I think this section is superbly done, and very flavourful – combining it with the Kill Team cohesion rules from Battle Missions or some modified system (such as Killzone) would make moving around easier in the confines of the ship though.

You also get a poster!

Lords of Destruction – Special Characters

There are a total of TWELVE special characters in this book:

Chaplain Dreadnought Titus (Howling Griffons)
Lugft Huron (Astral Claws)
Capt Corien Sumatris (Astral Claws)
Armenneus Valthex (Astral Claws)
Lt Commander Anton Narvaez (Marines Errant)
Magister Sevrin Loth (Red Scorpions)
Lord High Commander Carab Culln (Red Scorpions)
Captain Tarnus Vale (Fire Angels)
Chapter Master Lias Issodon (Raptors)
Master Malakim Phoros (Lamenters)
Captain Mordaci Blaylock (Novamarines)
Knight-Captain Elam Courbray (Fire Hawks)

So every chapter in the book gets one. It is worth noting that aside from Huron the other Astral Claws characters do not appear, so may just be a bonus or may make an appearance later. Additionally the book specifically mentions it is extremely unlikely they’ll make minis for most of these guys.

Most of them get a single page – half background, half rules – though Culln and Huron get two ‘cause they’re awesome like that. They all have special rules, such as making Terminators scoring, better saves, and other unique powers.
All save the Lamenters character are for use with Codex: Space Marines (even Huron), with the Lamenters for C:Blood Angels. This does make the somewhat unique situation that you can’t take Culln with the Red Scorpions list from Vraks BUT he duplicates the list with his Chapter Tactics, so it’s a moot point (and possibly better as you can get Apothecaries in any marine unit with this Culln).

The Tyrant’s Legion – Army List

The book’s army list represents the Tyrant’s PDF forces augmented by his Marines. As such it is a blend of the Imperial Guard and Marine Codexes, being able to take a Guard Command squad or a Marine officer. However there are more restrictions, as the Marine HQ is weaker than a captain and the Guard can’t take advisors. The amount of Marine equipment is restricted as well, so you can’t just take a Marine army with some Leman Russ’ and Hellhounds.
The list isn’t just a mish-mash of existing units, however. There is a creepy anti-apothecary called the Corpse Taker (he steals other chapter’s Geneseed), mercenary fighters, and several other unique pieces. There is also a special rule that the Marines can gain bonuses to their cover saves due to fire passing through friendly guard units, but the guard take casualties as a result.

All in all the list characterful and has a surprising variety for a hybrid, but it still feels like a hybrid. It could even be used by Alpha Legion players to represent a more organised group, though it lacks any psychic powers or Daemon stand-ins. Just a thought for you guys with LatD armies!


Two formations for Marines and one for Guard. The Marines have one made up of three to five Land Raiders that makes them even harder to kill. The other includes ‘one to three Thunderhawk Gunships’ filled to capacity with at least 20 models each and a different HQ choice each (ie Chaplain, Librarian etc). This entire setup (up to sixty guys and three T-Hawks) is an assassination force and all their bonus rules are geared to killing a single target.
The guard’s is four to eight Russ’ command by a Baneblade who gain some situational bonuses to damaging their targets and BS boosts.


Well, you can see that this volume of Imperial Armour is absolutely jammed packed with stuff. And there is a second helping on the way.

Story gets an 9.5/10 due to some typos and misuse of decimate. There was one particularly incomprehensible sentence, though I can’t find it again. Nit-picking aside, this is the primary reason to buy the book.

The Chapter section is 7/10, lower due to the previously mentioned repetition and similarity. The content however is very good, just ‘samey’.

Campaign scores 8/10: thematic, easy to use and flexible – everything you want in a system really.

Boarding Action rules are 9/10, the point lost due to the lack of new movement rules (though I do understand that introducing those would have made things much more complex) and the need for lots more terrain to use them effectively.

Lords of Destruction, 9/10 – each is sufficiently different to the others and lends themselves to different playstyles.

The Tyrants Legion earn a 7/10. The lower score is that while it has some uniqueness, it is essentially a modified mash-up of Imperial units.

Apocalypse – 7/ 10. Feels somewhat tacked on at the end, but the Land Raider and Russ one are pretty good for their cost. The T-Hawk one is very silly, and if I owned three Thunderhawks I’d use it, but these are really just bonuses to the rest of the book.

OVERALL – 9/10
If you’re not a Marinehead it’s probably not worth it (6/10 maybe? Less if you don’t like Imperials), try to borrow a copy first if you really like the sound of the Boarding Action rules or the Campaign.

Part Two has a lot to live up to.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Imperial Armour 9: Badab War pt1 - Quick Review

My copy of IA9 arrived today and I've given it a once over:

"I'm Commander Culln, and this is my favourite book in the series."


Best IA book yet. The first half is setting the scene, describing how the events of the war came to be and imparting lots of info about the Imperial Tithe, 'normal' marine activities (not crusading) and the interaction between the Administratum and Astartes.

When the war starts the actions are describe concisely, but still manage to be action packed. One of my favourites involved a team of Raptors wearing customised armor for stealth to infiltrate and shut down (with extreme prejudice) an orbital defence station. There are many more examples of marines doing more than drop-podding or rhino-rushing, so it's good to see them getting some character there.

The chapter backstory sections are good, though they get a bit samey with the loyalists mostly being 'super hardline and noble' types. However this fits with who would respond first to a renegade Chapter. Another good part is that they have the 'nobler' chapters being re-deployed mid-war, obstensibly to refit and rebuild, but with the implication that it is to bring in more psycho chapters who will have the stomach to wipe out their brothers.
Like the Minotaurs - who are total lunatics, announcing their appearance in the war by annihilating a renegade world, and then reducing a sector's civilian population by 20% through collateral damage in four months. Apparently the Spaaaace Shaaarks are worse, but they don't appear yet.

The art is wonderful, with a starchart updating as the story progresses as to who controls where. Also there are lots of little callout boxes with tidbits and asides about minor factors, such as navigators, what the deal is with the Tigers Claws, what the Mechanicus is doing and so on.


The boarding action rules look fun - they're an add on like Cities of Death, where you play with strategems and special terrain setups. There are rules for vacuum fighting (Str4+ get rending, blasts are pinning), and even on outer hulls (you can get blasted into space!).
To add into it there are even rules for the 'shipquakes', as the defending vessel starts to fall apart. The writers suggest playing with planetstrike for a super deadly and anarchic game.

There is a campaign system, which has several special missions for it (though they are optional, but you can play 'The Angstrom Incident'). I haven't given it too much of a look over, but it seems ok.

'Lords of Destruction' covers 12 special characters, and the 'Tyrant's Legion' army list. The army list is prettymuch the standard FW marine list: Marines + human auxillary, though obstensibly loyalist this time around.


There are the usual FW formatting issues. I found a few places that could have done with commas, and one totally incomprehensible sentance. Decimate was used a couple of time when the implication seemed to be more like annihilate.
Also a bug seems to have got squished in the binding machine... I was noticing these weird glossy lines on the edges of the pages, and then I found a small blood smear and what seemed to be the crushed remains of a fly or the like. Brutal. Like the old KISS comic that proclaimed the band mixed their blood with the ink for printing. Or FW are very slowly falling to Khorne worship.


Probably one of the best books they've done, but I am a lifelong Marine player so I am biased. If you have no interest in Marines it is basically useless to buy, but worth borrowing for a read. Marine players will probably love it, and I'm giving it a 9.5/10 so far.
Full review to come soon.

Additionally the catalogue update, featuring the new models, can be downloaded here.

Also there is indication there will be new Terminators on the war from FW - there is a pic of a termie with a Mk5 style helmet, studded shoulders and kinda hooked lightning claws (with a chainblade in the palm). I know someone posted a pic or mentioned seeing it at Games Day, but I can't find where. It doesn't seem to be a special character either.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Studio McVey's Lisbeth Complete

As the title says, Lisbeth (by Studio McVey) is all done now:

(click for larger)

Close up of Lisbeth herself:

Here you can see the re-sculpted right hand, the modifed right arm and the earphones.

Rear shots:

I just went with a few hibiscus on the board, and an Etnies logo since it's kind of like an arrow. Good view of the mods to the pistol holster, grenade and the added singlet. I also gave her proper briefs, rather than a thong, though I decided against trying to write 'bonds' on the waistband (I considered it though).

Roxy logo on the back of the helmet - sorry 'bout the glare - and there's a Dead Kennedy's logo on the left. The rightmost one is based of some public transport system logo (I was trawling google for logos).

Bottom of the board:

Decided to not go totally grommity and cover the thing. I figured a mix of surfie and skatie logos would work best, as she's dressed skate, but is (obviously) surfing. The nosemost is the Independent logo (maybe they make hover dealies rather than board trucks in the future), and the one on the tail is the Sharka Surf co's.
The middle three are ones I just made up - Black Wave sounds cool, WNG is meant to sound like 'wing', and I figured I should put something relating to flying on there. I was originally thinking a wave with a wing coming off of it, but I'd already put a few waves on her already. The green one is meant to be mountains, but it's a bit vague.

The graffiti:

The pink thing and the green girl are based on some street art I found on google, but the thinking stick man and the WCSFC (an in-joke from work) are my own. The background colours were stippled on with a small Citadel drybrush to give it the sprayed on look. After they were done I washed them black and gave them a light grey dusting to weather them.

A very nice model to paint, though the angle I've put her at makes it a pain to photograph her nicely. It's like very shot either has a bucket of glare or the camera auto-focus decides to pick the wrong bit (it's fond of her right knee and the back of her board).

But still, very happy with how she turned out.