Showing posts from October, 2016

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Warhammer 40K, Photos: Happy Halloween!

Ah zog it, Halloween already?! Um, need a themed post.

Here's a series of Halloween pictures:

See, it's Halloween because the Eldar is orange like a pumpkin, and the background for him is all spooky and green. The Dark Angel (get it, like dark night?) is stepping out of a hellfire portal and he's a psyker, so kind of like a witch...?

I'm sorry, I'll do better next year!

Thanks for reading.

If you liked what you saw, and you want to help out, please visit and donate at my Patreon. Every Little helps!

Warhammer 40K, The Myth of Codex Grav: Against vehicles

There's always talk about how overpowered grav-guns are compared to other special weapons.

At a glance, they're right. Good range, a ridiculous number of shots per weapon, no overheating... And the heavy version pack the amplifier meaning they get to re-roll wounds on top of it. You pay a premium for that much beard on a single model, but it's generally worth it.


I want to show you now it's not the auto-take you may think it is, and that you must use finesse in deployment. Hopefully at the end of this you'll consider when to use them more carefully. They are potent, no doubt about that, but they are not a magic "I win" button.

I originally started thinking about this when I was equipping the school's flagship Marine army. It's a drop pod and Rhino duo, with one bit of extra flavour, and I wondered if a Grav-canon in place of a melta-gun. Turns out it might not be worth it, but it prompted this analysis.

We'll be looking at their eff…

Warhammer 40K, Space Marines: What Chapter do I pick?

Oh boy, where to begin?

Even in the early days of Second Edition you had 4 flavours of power armoured super-humans, and that didn't even include Chaos! Dark Angels, Blood Angels and Space Puppies all lined up alongside the vanilla Marines.

These days you can literally have a different chapter every day for a fortnight. And Forgeworld keep churning out new ones on top of what we've got already... and Successor Chapters with home brew rules just compound the problem.

It's no wonder young neophytes are bashing their heads on their Start Collecting! kits and furiously scrabbling through lore to find one that fits.

The challenge here is deciding what character you like, along side what combat style you like, and then factor in a colour scheme. Most Space Marine chapters will give you 2 out of 3 things you'll like, leading to an almost paralyzing glut of choice and compromise.

You may like the tactics of the Blood Angels, but then not want to be collecting Space Vampires. …

Warhammer 40K, How to run a club: Brush care

This is something that a lot of neophytes get wrong, and you will be tearing your hair out over the termly brush budget. I was fortunate in that I got a good number of brushes donated from Games Workshop itself, but at £4-10 a pop, you're going to want to make sure your students can maintain equipment properly.

First thing is this: Educate yourself. Watch the below video.

If you're not subscribed to Warhammer TV yet, fix that.

There's not a lot more to add to this advice apart from the following:

Have a set place for brushes.Make sure students show you they've cleaned their brush.Monitor students painting to avoid them dunking into paint pots.Have a LOT of paper towels ready to hand.Consider enlisting a student to become Master Artificer.

The Master Artificer is a role in the club where a student takes responsibility for maintenance of the equipment. This should be voluntary, but it's very important you pick a popular student for this role. They will often be put i…

Warhammer 40K, Little thoughts: Troops and transports

I recently read an article about how Adeptus Mechanicus armies don't have transports. They complained that they were required to footslog across the battlefield... despite the Scout moves and Dunestrider rules to get these pedestrian armies going quicker.

It got me thinking about the prevalence of transports, and how Space Marines were really only good due to the cheap nature of their drop pods and rhinos.

Troops are nearly always designed to be objective grabbers. In a Combined Arms Detachment they're the only ones with Objective Secured, and in the old days they used to be the only scoring units. The compromise was that they generally needed help to do anything of importance other than camping objectives.

These days the average Troops choice is getting more and more desirable in a list. Tau Firewarriors have always been a nice little battery of firepower. Scatter jet bikes are turning into the horse-artillery of 40K. Skitarii Vanguard are capable of reducing anything with a…

Warhammer 40k, How to run a club: Second Session

The second session of your club is where everyone starts to split apart. Some students will be good at painting, whereas some will not be. In teacher speak, this is where your skill at differentiation comes in.

Things you need this session:

A constructed Marine/Eternal for each studentStarter paint kitBrushesPalettes Source of waterPots for water

In this session they will now paint Their Dude. As I spoke about in the last article, you want them to become familiar with the concept of Your Dudes. Encourage your students to personalise their Marine/Eternal from the last session. Get them choose their own colour for their model.

That said, don't go overboard. A red, green, blue and yellow will generally be all you need, and these are handily supplied by the starter paint kit. Odds are they don't know, or haven't read about, the various Space Marine chapters and Eternal chambers out there, and they'll just be looking for their favourite colour.

Whilst you want them to choose…

Warhammer 40k, How to build an army: The First Step

Starting off in Warhammer 40K can be confusing for students, and can be even more confusing at competitive levels. At a certain point, the young neophytes are going to want to build their own armies. But where to begin?

The best advice you can give is this: Buy the models you like.

Theory crafting an optimization aside, if you love the look of a model you are going to find a way to make it work. Right now, grav-biker Space Marines are a very strong option, but you won't find many people running out to buy them. They're a bit of a pain to construct as there are no kits for them, and the poses on most of the stock models are rather static.

This is why you'll find them in very competitive lists, but not so much in friendly matches. They're a bit of a hassle for the average person, and only tourney types and people who love the bikes are making them.

Contrast this with Eldar scatter bikes, who have a modern and easily obtained model for the tactic. You find them everywher…

Warhammer 40K, How to run a club: The First Session

Last time I spoke about the pre-session for club members.

After you'v got them hooked on the dice rolling, and inspired them with your awesomely painted Space Marines, it's time for them to discover the best bit of the hobby; Your Dudes.

Your Dudes is a concept which makes 40K different from most other games. Whilst some Miniature games like X-Wing are leveraging some other intellectual property so sell models, Games Workshop encourages you to take their ideas and put your own on them. Like Ultramarines but hate blue? No problem, paint them desert khaki and call them the Sandstorms. Like the idea of Tau, but aren't a fan of the authoritarian fluff? Cool, run your own sept in pink and say their Ethereals are democratic in their approach.

Your Dudes means you paint your models however you want them. It's a light form of 'Counts as', a similar concept which allows you to put fizzy pop (or soda for you non-limeys) cans as a drop pod. Fizzy pop pods are a stretch, …

Warhmmer 40K, Little thoughts: Genestealer Cults and Chaos

The new Genestealer Cult rules are awesome.

I simply have to applaud Games Workshop for introducing a new deployment method to the game, which can create such a wonderful atmosphere of paranoia and insecurity. I can already see the Tau clumping in one corner of the battlefield, and refusing to venture forth whislt multi-limbed cultists take all the objectives.

Cult ambush, and the slightly random effects of it are an amazingly new and fresh way to play, and something which is far better than the old ambush rules the Catachan Jungle fighters used to have way back in 3rd Edition.

I just have one problem with it.

Why the helicopter didn't they give it to Chaos Space Marines?!

Chaos Space Marines (CSMs) suffer from comparison to Imperial Astartes. The loyalists are masters of drop pod deployment. White Scars and Ravenwing are masters of the Scout move. Space Wolves have outflanking down to an art-form, and even the 10th Company Scout marines can lay claim to being some of the best in…

Warhammer 40K, Path to Glory: Tau

So getting into the hobby as a teacher carries with it some responsibilities. Looking at the QTS book (Qualified Teacher Standards to the people who wisely avoided education), there are a number here we need to discuss.

Standard 1: Inspire pupils

It goes without saying that if you present someone with a gelatinous cube and call it a space marine, they won't take you or your hobby seriously. What you need is some awesomely painted and impressive models to get the neophytes engaged in the hobby.

Standard 3: Subject knowledge

If you present students with an army of elves and claim they are necrons, you are not going to get students to trust you know what you're talking about. Equally if you present a fluffy list of unbound Greater Demons, they won't believe you know how to play the game properly. You need a solid list, which equally displays good basics and also one or two bits of tactical brilliance, cheese, or as us older gamers used to call it, beardiness.

Standard 7: Man…

Warhammer 40K, Path to Glory: Starting Tau

For most people, starting Tau involves getting the Start Collecting! Tau box, which gives you a seriously good discount on models alongside a formation to use.

For the Tau, this started formation gives you Firewarriors, an Ethereal, and three crisis suits with a posse of drones. The formation is excellent in terms of maneuverability, and is a great way to introduce players to the Tau ideal of massive firepower on the move.

Which most new players throw out in favour of massive firepower camped in the corner of the map with plenty of Interceptor to deal with any irritating Deep Strikers that dare to avoid your shooting gallery.

I have avoided this entirely, as I was fortunate enough to pick up a Retaliation Cadre box set, which is all suits. A lovely bunch of mecha and drones!

In my current stable of robots, I have three crisis suits, a broadside, a commander, and a gaggle of drones. The king piece is the Riptide, which is both the most expensive and closest to essential model the Tau …

Warhammer 40K, How to run a club: The pre-session

It doesn't take a genius to run a club.

It takes several, all with prescience and a super-computer to help you herd the WAAAGGHH!!!-ing cats that like to punctuate their dice rolls with yells of "For the Emprah!!!"

But it takes a while to get to that point.

I mentioned some guidelines earlier about how to manage your school's club. All that advice is valuable, but we'll break it down into smaller digestible pieces.

I mentioned that the first thing that anybody needs to do is roll some dice. This triggers all kinds of reflexes in the brain, and already I'm steering myself into unethical territory. We're activating the gambling reflex here... but it's not a bad thing I promise!

Equally, the first encounter with 40K needs to be visually impressive. Don't get out your Imperial Guard, unless you have a right and proper multitude. You need your awesome looking models, the slightly weird and wonderful. Eldar fit the bill well here, as space elf is an ea…

Warhammer 40K, Path to Glory

40K is a competitive game.

Yes, the narrative is an important part of it too, but if story is all you're interested in, you may as well be playing Dungeons and Dragons. That's not an insult, it's just that you don't wear snow shoes to go dancing.

Unless you're really hard core.

Stop thinking about snow shoe tap dancing tournament.

Getting back to the point, Warhammer 40K is competitive, and if you want to play it, you want to play it well. Although I'm by no means a neophyte (for though I shave my neck beard every day, it keeps growing back), but I'm not a great player. Or at least, not yet.

Every Chaos warlord starts as an Aspiring Champion, and progresses through bloody contest to fame, fortune, and generally more blood. Whilst I have no intention of decapitating my enemies, I do want to win games. Along the way, I'll be recording and critiquing my own performance in battles. This is for my professional development, and your amusement.

These chains o…


I've debated on this for sometime, so apologies if I trip over my own words now.

Put simply, 40K is expensive.

Shocking, I know. I think I must be the first person in the world to break this to you. Don't worry, it's still fun, but you may want to check how much is left in your bank account before walking into the shop.

The problem is club funds.

Whilst the support from the School's Alliance is above and beyond what you'd expect from Games Workshop, or any private company for that matter, they don't give out models. That's the policy, and quite reasonable when that's how you make your money.

There's also the snag of the time I spend writing this blog. As fun as it is, I have a family to feed, and I can't justify buying and painting models, followed by hours writing about buying and painting models. For those of you who have had mothers/wives/husbands/(gender)-friends roll their eyes at you when you say you're off for an evening playing with…

School's League 2016/17

So rules have been posted, and the next season of the School's League will be getting under way. This is my first time on it, and I'm really excited to get the students involved!
The format for 40k is going to be:
450 pointsBattleforged/UnboundOne Lord of War maximumMission: Eternal WarHouse rule: Slay the Lord of War - If a Lord of War has been removed as a casualty, you score 8 victory points. This is going to be in addition to the regular bonus points students get for turning up with equipment, painted models, etc. All the rules designed to get them involved in the hobby, as opposed to just buying a load of stuff and forgetting about it.

450 points is great! You neuter a lot of the power builds out there, and severely limit deathstars. Although it is possible to squeeze in an unbound Wraithknight or simply a solo knight, the majority of these armies will be hit or miss. Building one pricey unit leaves you with basically nothing for objective grabbing, and you are entirely a…

Tabletop Gaming and Special Educational Needs

The benefits of table top war games are actually very numerous, particularly for students with special educational needs.

For a start, reading codices, army lists and rule books is a great incentive for students to practice their literacy. I myself learned to read from the first Angels of Death book, and I distinctly remember doing some copying out of the Ork codex. I don't think it affected me too mu- WAAAAAGGHH!!


Building army lists is itself n exercise in numeracy, but taken further it can lead to some quite sophisticated maths. It may be an unpopular sentiment, but working out point efficiencies and predicted outcomes against targets is an excellent introduction to statistics and probability.
This may be a new excuse; it's not power gaming if it gets me through GCSE.

I probably don't need to discuss the creative aspect to the hobby. I'm sure a number of space marines have found their way into the A-level Art exam boxes.

But what's probably not obvious is…

Warhammer 40K: How to start a club

This... is difficult.

40K is anything but a simple game, and even though the Battle for Vedros has made things simpler, it is still a complex game.

You are not going to get full games of 40K out of a new player student for at least a month. Don't even try. You'll just lose them to the quick and easy thrill of video games. You're going to need to start small and dirt simple.

Here's a quick check list of how to get new players into the game. I've aken a lot of cues from the X-Wing Miniatures box set for this, as something to gently break in new players. Remember, you'll be selling this to your Senior Management as an SEN tool, and you'll need to make it as accessible as you can.
Streamlined rules.Fast pace of play.Narrative.Loads of dice rolling. The narrative is something you have to sell yourself. You can't just be a robot about this, you need to be the one to guide imaginations as you teach them the game. Remember back to when the Games Workshop store …

How to teach and still play 40K

It might be interesting to know for some of you, that I did not pay for my Dark Vengeance box set.
No, I didn't steal it, and I actually get on quite well with my local Games Workshop store owner.

The trick is simple, and open to any teacher, and virtually any school; I run the Wargaming club. And that gives me about £100 of the school's money to spend on little plastic soldiers per term.

This is probably the only way a teacher can find time for a hobby as time consuming as table top war gaming. You'll always need a few hours to construct and paint your models, and the games alone can take up a whole evening. During term time, this is simply something teachers cannot do (or good teachers at least).

You're constantly under pressure for marking books, preparing lessons, and if you happen to work at a boarding school, making sure the students are out of bed in the morning without their underpants on their heads. I've done some duties putting together Eldar Guardians …