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Blood Vow

Happiness is success... (Buddha)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Assassin - Part 18 - Blood Oath

The damaged black battle barge caught in the gravity well of Baal's second moon began the slow spiraling descent down into the upper layer of the satellite's thin atmosphere. Eldar gunships swarming around the barge continued to strafe the ruined outer hull searching for more weak points to exploit. Klaxons sounded inside as clusters of pooled super heated plasma ate away at its innards working in towards the exposed engine room. The last Techmarine manning the station sealed off the barriers and activated the last of the inner void shields. He watched the close by vid screen while completing his final task, a cluster of eldar Warp Spiders had managed to breach the ship and were progressing towards the remains of the command deck. Pressing a sunken rune the Techmarine opened an encrypted audio signal to the bridge.

Just as he was about to send a warning he caught sight of a towering shimmering golden shape moving directly towards the xenos. The shape came to a sudden stop revealing the image of a winged golden warrior held aloft by a pair of black winged crystal shards. Its face was covered by a jewel encrusted golden death mask fashioned in the shape of some forgotten cherubic youth. The Warp Spiders converged upon him quickly lifting their deadly guns, bringing them to bare upon the golden host. The xenos' hand cannons exploded in unison pouring out a blinding load of shuriken stars edged with fractal blades. The Sanguinor's wings instantaneously enveloped him blocking the deadly payload, the stars bounced harmlessly off the hardened wings then opened again revealing a long sharp Blade Encarmine tightly gripped within the the Sanguinor's steely grip. Quickly the golden host began his counter attack severing heads and limbs all in the blink of an eye. What remained of the Warp Spiders littered the floor as pools of bright eldar blood spilled and poured from the rented dead bodies. Stopping for a brief moment the Sanguinor lopped off the rest of their heads and then crushed them with his armored boot soles and continued on his way unimpeded.

"Prepare the drop pods for our final descent." came the order from the golden host nowhere to be seen now over the closing audio link. The Techmarine busied himself preparing the sacred protocol to activate the last of drop pods. There were only three left, two large enough to carry a single dreadnaught each and one for a party of Marines. One venerable Ancient lumbered into the drop bay followed by the last of the Death Company dreadnaughts. Their armor was pitted and well worn but still true. Finally a party of Death Company in fresh black lead by a young Chaplain came in immediately boarding their pod. Another Techmarine and crew of servitors assisted with the straps securing them all tightly within the close confines.

"When you stop believing all is lost but yet we still believe and that is why you were chosen. The fate of our Legion rests in your hands now." said the Sanguinor as he entered the bay behind them. "We are so few now but we are still loyal. Glory awaits you below." In perfect unison the Death Company banged their left fists into their black chest plates and grunted. "And know that I will be with you." Again they clasped their chests all eager for duty then the hangar doors fell away spilling the drop pods towards the target destination.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Assassin - Part 17 - Transition

Sensei watched silently as the Custodes began to approach him. One had a noticeable limp. The Telemon remained still not moving. Temple Guard began to fill the street forming a barrier between the golden warriors and their master. Some were armed with boltguns while others carried the traditional pole arm. Slowly the Custodes came to the end of the road standing face to face with the Temple Guard. Sensei spoke "What brings you here on this most festive of days?"

The limping Custodes answered "My name is Ra and we have been sent to speak with you. The Temple is needed." He spoke with a slight lisp. Ra removed his helmet revealing a deeply weathered face, the left side ruined by long twisting scars. A bionic orb had been fitted into the empty eye socket. His face split into a brief smile. Sensei could see that his teeth were mostly missing on the bad side.

Crossing pole arms the Temple Guard formed a bristling barrier. They stood as tall as the Custodes looking them squarely in the eye through their silvered visors. "Step back." commanded one of the Temple Guard. Ra immediately took a step back resting his Guardian Spear against his right shoulder. Again he smiled.

"May we step inside?"

Sensei placed his hands upon a weapon and lifted it away. "We are honored to receive you here." The Temple Guard stepped aside letting them follow their master into the Temple. "I am surprised you did let us know in advance you were coming here."

"It is best this way." said Ra. "This day forms a diversion."

Sensei lead them through the hallway to an open chamber. Temple Guard lined the walls all watching intently. The outer doors of the Temple closed automatically sealing off the small fortress. Bowing slightly Sensei stood in the center and motioned the Custodes forward. "The Temple is guarded. No one outside can here what we say. So tell me what it is you want."

Ra spread out his gauntlets placing his weapon up against the wall. "It is said you have mastered the technique of cloning far exceeding all others and it said you can transfer a being from their existing body to a clone."

The master breathed slowly. "Go on."

"Is it possible you can perform this process on our Master?" asked Ra.

Sensei continued to slowly breathe in and out. "You speak of the Master of Mankind, the Emperor?"

"Yes." said Ra.

"May I ask why you want this done?"

Ra spoke "There are doubts now to the loyalty of Guilliman. That should suffice to answer you."

"It can attempted but you will have to bring him here." replied Sensei.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Post ATC Report Part 2 - Interview with Aaron Aleong - Team Happy

Hi everyone !!! Black Blow Fly here again with the second part of my report covering the recent American Team Championship (ATC). I don't want to beat a dead horse but then again this horse ain't dead just yet. Today I bring you an interview with the mighty Aaron Aleong who is the coach and player on Team Happy - they came in first place this past weekend and this is the third time they have won this arduous event. Three times is very dominating to say the least and Aaron has won many of the major events at events across the country. To me Aaron is a lot like the Randy Couture of Warhammer 40k in the US... he even kind of looks like him too.

So let's introduce the other members of Team Happy and what roles they all play for three years running:

Tony Grippando - Captain
Aaron Aleong - Coach
Justin Curtis - Rules Master
Aaron Towler - Lore Master
Tim - Finances (aka Chief Bean Counter)

To quote Aaron...

"As a team we all give input on lists and test each other to include playing our lists against each other. Our team mixes well and therefore I believe performs well together. Also in our team no one had an issue with biting the bullet and taking a bad matchup for the team. I have seen many teams that aren't willing to sacrifice in this fashion."

Those word of wisdom are solid gold ! So now onto the interview:

Q1) Why did you decide to run Ravenspam and how'd you learn about it ?

Looking at the matchup opportunities of isolating a small drop list againt a large army guaranteeing first turn (except on a seize), and the damage output of A Stormraven (40-44 shots with up to 6 different targets) it was a no brainer to take two Raven lists. I saw numerous Raven lists that were not optimized to do well.

We heard about the list a few months back from an event out west, tested it, and built two seperate lists that were able to perform well. Though I will say in an event where deploy first go first isn't automatic this list won't do as well and I fully support changing this mechanic.

Q2) What are the best natural counters to Ravenspam and what are its worst matchups ?

Natural counters are the bird list, high rate-of-firepower lists with lots of models (i.e., some guard lists), and of course mirror matches. However I f there is deploy first-go first with no rerollable seize.. ravens are too powerful. I am working on a counter at the moment.

Q3) Did you have to play any mirror matches and if so what were your tactics to ensure the win ?

I did not, but my teammate Tim played a Grey Knight raven list and played three other raven lists which he all beat soundly taking home the award for best GK player. Tim had a definite advantage by having less drops and therefore went first most games. He got seized on one of his game but deployed defensively and was still able to crush his opponent.

Q4) How important is it to go first with Ravenspam and are you willing to burn a command point to reroll Seize the Initiative to still have a chance to go first ?

At ATC you couldn't reroll seize. The go first is too powerful in a list like this. See above. :-)

Q5) What are the best buffs for Ravenspam ?

A Chapter Master equivalent is vital... Dante, Draigo, etc. Being able to keep up with the ravens is the tricky part. Some people took Robby G, but I feel that is a waste since Rowboat can't keep up with the ravens. Any type of probability alteration is extremely valuable with GW limiting the number of re-rolls.

Q6) If you would have had to have fielded a different army what would you have taken instead to ATC this year ?

I would have taken my top secret Nova Open list. Which wont be shown here. My list is imperial and doesnt have flyers... hurrr hurrr !!!

Q7) How do you foresee Ravenspam playing out over the next 6 months with soon to release codices ?

I really hope they are adjusted. It's too powerful the way it is now and I don't really see the new codices fixing them. My hope is GW will step up and alter them... maybe removing POTMS, or increasing costs, etc.

Q8) Will Ravenspam still be competitive at NOVA this August ? If not so much then why ?

I think it will be less successful because of the +1 change. If this list doesn't go first then it's in trouble. Also I feel the missions are better with progressive objectives but then again 5 or 6 ravens cab table most armies quite easily. :-(

So there you have it from the proverbial horse's mouth ! Team Happy had not one but two Ravenspam armies and that's definitely a big deal... so far spam is king.

ATC Post Tournament Report - An Interview with Kelsey Haley and Ravenspam Analysis

Hi everyone Black Blow Fly here to stir the... errr bringing enlightenment to the filthy unwashed masses 24-7 ! Last weekend was the first major 8th edition tournament in the US - the American Team Championship (ATC) and wow what a doozy it was. Do you remember when you were just a kid and you found out the truth about ole Santa Claus... BAAAAAAWHAAAAA !!! Tears were flowing amirite ?! Well basically the same thing happened at the ATC. You see lots and lots of people were saying and even believing 8th edition is basically uncheesable (see foot note before you post). But then the unimaginable happened... like almost every team was spamming the Ravenspam !!

What is Ravenspam:

It is like five to six nearly unkillable Stormravens with some uber buffs (see Dante) and if it goes first well see ya wouldn't wanna be ya ! Yer cherry just got popped real hard... hurrrr !

So this week I have none other than the captain of the third place team Wobbly Modelers here as my guest - yeah you know none other than my man Kelsey Haley ! Kelsey - one heck of a dominant tournament players in the US... I equate him on the Chuck Lidel level of the competitive scene. Something very interesting to note is that his did not bring any Ravenspam and still took home their newly acquired skulls - that's a tall order too.

A lot of people are really up in arms about the Ravenspam and want something done about it because you know... the dream is gone. I'm gonna be completely honest and say I really don't want to see any house rules from sources external to GW. My philosophy is just let it play out to its natural course. Codices will soon be dropping left and right... things are gonna change just like they always do. GW love some change, it's more money in the bank. If and when GW nerfs it I'm totally okay with that - they are the SOLE entity that should change rules.

So let's dive into the interview with Kelsey now.

Q1) I was very impressed your team placed third overall this year ! I have played in ATC several times and consider it one of the most competitive tournaments in the country if not the most due to its unique format. Top players come from all over the country come to participate and the team format is very challenging. Could you provide a quick run down what army you and each of your team mates brought and what was your overall strategy for pairings each round ?

Sure. I ran 2 shadowswords and a stormlord with 5 commanders and 4 man plasma squads with Sergeant Harker.

Ernie ran 8 Nurgle Princes and Belakor with as many Brimstones as he could he fit into his list.

Max ran 32 missile launcher Devs with Guilliman.

Austin ran 98 purestrain genestealers, some characters and 9 armored lascannon sentinels.

Juice ran 7 Crimson Hunters and 4 Ravagers.

Our basic strategy was to figure out which lists on our opponents' teams everybody didn't want to play. If somebody only had one list they didn't want to play then they often became a defender. Past that... we were winging it.

Q2) I was really impressed your team did not bring the much dreaded Ravenspam army list. What was y'alls strategy to counter this list and how did that work out for you ? Did you know going into ATC last week that you needed a solid overall strategy to counter the Ravenspam ?

We knew it would be a thing but never cared too much about it. Going into it we accepted that it was something we'd each have to play at some point. Luckily we planned on playing stormravens with multi meltas... but we only played versus heavy bolters.

As good as they are Ravens are easier to counter than GSC.

Q3) There is a bit of an uproar on the internet about the Ravenspam now. What is your opinion - should TOs change rules to nerf it ?

I like the idea of 0-3 of the same unit, but this early in the game I'm generally opposed to changing the rules at all.

On a side note I think Guilliman and the Yncarne need to be nerfed more than anything else.

Q3) Which round was your toughest and how did it go overall ?

My toughest round came versus Dallas on Quality Control. He had a pretty solid GSC list. I really only played him because nobody else wanted to. I wound up being able to hold the genestealers off long enough to scrounge up 9 points.

Q4) What was your favorite game/opponent and why ?

My favorite opponent was probably Jason from Forgeworld Columbia 2. He played a similar list, though he had extra drops. That meant I went first and took advantage early. The game ended after about 10 minutes with me maxing.

The reason I say its my favorite because Jason exemplified class during brutal defeat. He laughed and we both knew that had he siezed I would've been the one picking up models.

It was also my favorite because we had plenty of time for "beverages". Haha

Q5) How do you like 8th edition so far compared to 7th edition ? Is it better designed for competitive play ?

I think its better designed in the sense that good lists are easier to make. Tactically it's become easier, but its nice that more people are better able to run competitive lists well.

Finally feel free to add anything you like. :D

I'd just like to throw shoutouts to Battlegrounds (our local store in Midlothian, VA that tolerates our drunk playtesting) and The Long War for their endless support.

So there you have it... the Ravenspam can be managed in a tournament environment. Of course the ATC format is unique from other large events but at the end of the day you still have top players versus other top players. I hope that 'The sky is falling' mantra will drop to wayside soon. Of course there is the NOVA Open coming soon which features a more traditional format... it'll be interesting to see what competitive players come up with to counter the Ravenspam and beat it plus there's plenty of time to properly prepare and endless play testing.

Is uncheesable an actual word ? Of course not but it's no big deal irregardless how much it might upset you. :P Get over it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Assassin - Part 16 - Celebration Day

Large crowds had gathered outside the assassins' Temple. The people were dressed in bright colors and wore their favorite clothes. Citizens from all walks of life made up the masses, high gender stood elbow to elbow with common folk. Vendors lined the streets serving various dishes and many types of different colored spirits. Fireworks exploded overhead and the crowds roared. A large troupe of mimes performed beneath the towering spires displaying their acrobatic skills to the amazement of all who watched. The mimes wore tights cut in swathes of black and white. More fireworks boomed overhead driving the crowds into a frenzy of mirth. Leaping to the top of the Temple entrance the lead mime did a hand stand then crouched down assuming the shape of a gargoyle. The crowd grew quite for a moment then the acrobat leapt back down leering at those closest. Her face was painted like a Harlequin with a bright red tear dripping from her left eye.

"Make way!" boomed a projected voice emanating from from a small cadre of golden warriors at the end of the main road leading to the Temple. They stood taller than even Space Marines and carried long guardian spears. Sensei immediately recognized the Custodes and stepped out from the crowd. The master bowed deeply then slowly righted himself. "It is truly an honor to have you here with us today." his deep voice carried along the length of the suddenly open path between him and the Custodes. There came a dull clanking sound then appeared a dreadnaught looming above his golden brethren. "Continue with the festival!" its voice droned into the crowds.

The mimes immediately sprang back to work again throwing a dizzying myriad of white rose petals into the crowd. People exclaimed in surprise as they touched the petals. They somersaulted through the people then one by one sprang up onto the close by rooftops. Bowing as one the troupe then disappeared.

"I hope you have enjoyed the performance." said Sensei. Everyone clapped and many cheered as another burst of fireworks touched the sky. "Follow your guides and they will take you to the next Temple. May your day be bright with never ending joy." Slowly the crowds began to dissipate until all that remained was the Custodes.

New Primaris Marines

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Assassin - Part 15 - Conversation

The Sensei lead Paragon through the temple showing him various hidden rooms and sealed chambers filled with exotic weapons then some of their secret labs. He talked about their history since he had left so long ago. "Close to two millennia have passed since I last saw you my son." Sensei rested a hand on his shoulder looking up into his goggles. "Looking at you it seems you haven't aged one one bit in all that time. I know you are a super assassin designed to live much longer than normal but still you should have passed on a long time ago. As I said outside our temple I sense you have been enhanced somehow, made into something beyond our originally intended design. Can you tell me about it?"

Paragon gently brushed aside the hand. "What about yourself Sensei? You yourself should have died long ago too."

"We have created a process of perfect cloning here in our labs. My spiritual and psychic entities are transferred from one to another. In fact your own DNA structure is based upon my own helix but of course it was spliced with select others to make you into the ultimate assassin of all times and as I said before you are truly one of a kind my son. Never did I think I'd ever see you again once you departed from here." Sensei clasped his hands together forming a special sign of the Aquila. "Now will you tell me your secret?"

"It's rather hard to explain. I met a man who decided to share a gift of his with me. Suffice to say it has extended my life well beyond the norm." Paragon replied. "That's really all there is to it. Now I have another question for you. What were those daemons posing as children doing outside the temple?"

"Ah a good question which deserves a good answer. They are the pure essence of a certain Chaos God... I feel certain you must be aware of them now too... I wanted to capture this essence here so that it could be studied in great depth so we lured them here. Of course that's not possible now for the mean time since you drove them back to the warp but I understand you did it for all the right reasons." Sensei cracked his knuckles then continued. "Now we will simply have to lure some more of them." He smiled sagely showing his teeth again as he was wont to do when feeling in good humor. "I feel certain it's a sign that you have returned when you did. I'm sure you must have more questions as I said during our encounter outside. I suggest a meal while we talk."

Sensei lead Paragon back towards the main entrance of the temple then opened a hidden room. Inside was a dining facility. "Would you care for a spirit while our food is prepared for us?"

"It will have no effect on me." replied the assassin. "Water is fine." Paragon replied.

Opening a concealed cabinet the master pulled out a jug from a cooler and took an empty glass filling it to the top then handed it to Paragon. The assassin took s long sip. "Water is an essential element." Sensei said while he poured himself a glass as well. He then pressed a rune on the wall and table and two short benches slid out automatically from the interior. "Have a seat with me." he said then bowed. Both men sat down across the table from each other. "Do you actually need to eat now?"

"No it's not necessary but of course it's an old habit." said Paragon. He took another sip of water then set the glass aside. "I was told during my initial mission that my termination was planned following completion. Is that true?" he asked.

Sensei slowly rolled his eyes back and forth. "Of course not. Who told you that lie? Was it one of the Templars assigned as your escort?"

"It was the man who granted me immortality. I grew to trust him over the course of our time together and found him to be quite honest. I learned many things from him I was never told about here. Everything he said turned out to be true no matter how absurd it might have seemed."

"There could have been those that plotted your death but if that is actually the case I was never informed. The Lords of Terra and their agents are a secretive group indeed. I did fear for your life though. Your Mission was not an easy one. No not at all." Sensei clapped his hands twice then a robed servant appeared carrying a tray with covered dishes. "I have had your favorite meals prepared for you." The servant placed down the tray and removed the covers. One plate was piled high with steaming Udon noodles. Another revealed fresh vegetables. Taking a pair of long ivory chop sticks the master sampled some of the noodles then the ripe produce. "It's all organic which is quite hard to come by these days. Help yourself. I hope you enjoy your meal."

Slowly the pair began to eat and continued their conversation. "What has come of Terra? There must be much change since I was gone." said Paragon.

"Yes there has been plenty of change. In short the Imperium is now ruled by Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. He is our new Emperor. A new breed of Space Marines has taken over many of the Space Marine Chapters. They are known as the Primaris. I have heard other lost Primarchs have returned as well but it's only a rumor for now. Our temple does not receive nearly as many requests for missions as we once did back at the time you were created. In fact I believe we are now shunned for the most part but we still have our ways and some still are in need of our services. Your return is most fortunate." Sensei smiled and his face looked young again for a brief moment."

"What has happened to the original Emperor?" Paragon asked.

"He still sits upon the Golden Throne and continues to light the Astronomicon. Truly he is more than ever a slave to his own devices now. Some say he is very close to his end. This is what I'm told."

"I have seen the Primaris." Paragon replied. They look almost identical to your Temple Guard in terms of size and strength. I think there's a link between them."

"Indeed." Sensei said. "You were always quite astute. Maybe they are the same. Guilliman too has his own secrets." Placing down the chop sticks the master then took a white cloth napkin and wiped his wizened lips. "Now I must attend to the celebrations. I have a suite prepared especially for you." He pointed over to the servant. "Shoudin will take you there. You can relax. I will return this evening once the celebrations have ended."

"Everything you ever told me I found to be true as well." said Paragon. "I still trust you master."

Sensei smiled again as he stood. "I am honored my son."

Monday, July 03, 2017

Primaris Space Marines are the Nü Black

Black Blow Fly here again to discuss the Nü Marines and I think they are the awesome. Funnily enough it seems like they are receiving some push back and even more funny it seems to be mostly coming from Space Marine players of all places. Sure their background is a lil wonky but in the world of grimdark anything can and does happen from time to time. Nü Marines remind me a lot of Thunder Warriors and that works for me. My first 8th edItion army is going to be purely composed of Nü Marine units. I realize that some people feel threatened that Nü Marines will invalidate their armies but to me that's a silly outlook and here's why.

First you don't have to use them and until they get some transports I don't see them being all that competitive... but sure they are still pretty good (refer to the 3rd point below). However if you do want to use them then they'll integrate well into any Space Marine army. If you don't want to use them just don't worry about it. It's not like GW is going to stop selling all the Beta Marine units any time soon.

Second I've already mentioned their background is a lil wonky. Some people have gone so far as to claim Roboute Guilliman is going to attempt a coup to overtake control of the Imperium... lol. Remember when Mat Ward was screwing up the lore for chapters such as Blood Angels allying with Necrons and Lord Draigo living in the warp ? How dumb was that but I seem to remember Grey Knights being extremely popular back in 5th edition. How about Phil Kelly and Thunder Wolf cavalry ? A lot of people thought that was silly too but again they are popular irregardless of whether or not these types of things are a good fit in the story line. I'm not saying the lore isn't important as most people say this is what really drew them into the hobby in the first place... BUT things do change and you just can't deny ole Tzneetch his right. Given enough time everything settles down and is accepted one way or another.

Third and this very important - Nü Marines represent what a Space Marine should be as compared to the old Beta Marines. Nü Marines' stat line is in line with how I imagine a Space Marine should be in terms of game play. Look it all the great units xenos armies like eldar, Necrons and Tau got back in 6th and 7th editions... it's about time Space Marines finally got some love of their own. Also in many ways the Nü Marine is true scale compared to the old Beta Marine. Some people don't want to admit it but it is what it is so just best to get used to it and move on. I remember the first picture of a Nü Marine leaked onto the interwebz... it got passed off as being a shopped photo but turns out it is the real deal.

I could go on but I think I've made my case so I'll let it rest for now. If you love Space Marines then I bet there's a place for Nü Marines in your heart too. Don't be another hater.