RIP Adrienne Roy

DC Comics colorist Adrienne Roy passed away Dec 14, apparently after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer.

In an era when 'four color comics' did not define a type of traditional superheroic comic book action so much as the literal limitations the medium placed on adding color to the illustrated action, Roy was a master; she brought flash, vibrancy and style to George Perez' inspired work on New Teen Titans...but for me it was the sense of mood and atmosphere she added--with an extremely limited palette, and for a variety of different artists--to literally hundreds of Batman family comics I will remember most.

The Batman then did not need deconstructionist writers variously breaking his back, destroying his city, killing him, zombifying him and/or painting him as hopelessly psychotic to make his world seem dark and shadowy. He had Adrienne Roy.

Thank you for your work, and rest in peace.

Christopher Allen
Dallas, TX

Enter--the Helicarrier!

Sometimes something gets made that one just must have. That thing for our household this holiday season is a toy I never expected anyone to make, despite it's unalloyed coolness: the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier! A fixture in the Marvel Universe from it's first appearance in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's uniquely-Marvel answer to the sixties spy craze, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.*, the Helicarrier rose to greatest prominence in the late-seventies 24-issue Marvel Godzilla comic book, as it and various of Nick's supporting agents pursued the great Toho monster across the Marvel universe:

Like so many supporting elements of that comic book universe, however--the Warriors Three, Zabu the sabertooth from the prehistoric Savage Land, Stegron the Dinosaur Man, the Prowler--it's charms always seemed appreciated by too small an audience to ever expect to see it brought to any kind of three-dimensional life. The success of the 'deformed' Super Hero Squad mini action figures line, however, has led to an animated TV series starring same...and a centerpiece therein is their 'flying headquarters,' which has been incarnated as a centerpiece toy for the Christmas season. And though it's name may have changed, and it's design been 'kiddified' consistent with the source--make no mistake that under the garish colours and superdeformed proportions is...the greatness of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier!

Fortunately, this household happens to have an eight-year-old boy who loves his superdeformed superheroes, who will be profiting from his father's decades-long Helicarrier mania this Christmas.

*--and S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division, no matter what irremediably more idiotic and less memorable moniker current deconstructionist Marvel talent insists on rebranding upon it; Stan Lee said that's what S.H.I.E.L.D. means, and that's the end of the conversation, for me.

Does the Hobby Want--or Need--Army Composition Scoring?

Scoring for an Army's Composition in organized Warhammer 40,000 (or Warhammer Fantasy) play--especially tournaments. Is it needed? Does it have a role, if not? Is there a way to do it fairly?

The answer to the first question is, simply, no: it is not necessary to the success of play. The codices for each army, a construction framework such as percentages or the Force Organization Chart--and a determined points value--are the only essential tools for composing armies. And there are numerous organized events and tournaments which do not feature any scoring for Army Composition, or otherwise address the issue beyond the requirement that a participating army be codex-legal and adhere to the indicated points value and Force Organization.

The answer to the second question is the meat of the subject, really. If Army Composition scoring is not necessary, and some events succeed quite satisfactorily without it--why add it? It is undeniably extra work for a moderator, to score and ensure compliance, and there are clearly significant portions of the player base which do not embrace it. The reason for Army Composition scoring in organized play is simply that the game is not an abstract construct, like chess; it--and the codices which allow army construction within it--attempt to do more than balance each army for competition, they also attempt to help players create a simulation on the tabletop, and tell a compelling story. Allowing army builds from codices without prejudice can be likened to allowing chess players to build their side with as many knights, rooks or queens as they choose instead of pawns (thus creating 'power armies' or 'tiered codices' or whichever descriptive phrase of your choice indicates that in the Hobby not all codices and not all entries in codices are evenly balanced, competitively): it wouldn't be 'fair' in chess so chess doesn't allow it--and providing some scoring for Army Composition in organized play attempts to address it insofar as possible, for 40K. In that light, it would seem that yes, scoring for Army Composition has a role...especially as long as there are also events available wherein it is *not* used, as well, for those who do not enjoy or appreciate such restraints.

That role can only be properly filled if the scoring for Army Composition seems to participants to accomplish its intent. Thus, the third question--can it be scored fairly? Of the two reasons players tend not to like scoring for Army Composition (the first being not liking any penalty being assessed for building an army other than how one prefers), it is experience with unfair Army Composition scoring in organized play that leaves the most distaste. We've all heard the horror stories: armies identical in build receiving different scores; armies built to a given judge's hard-and-fast notion of what is 'right' getting high scores when they seem to fly in the face of the game's background; not knowing what judges wanted in a build before--and often after--getting scored.... Army Composition was always a component of Official GW GTs in the 90s and early 2000s--and was always controversial, because they rarely told you what their build criteria were, and/or how they had applied it. You got your score, at the end of the GT--you just never knew why. Things came to a head when a particular judge answered an interview question about ideal Army Composition by saying that his perfect vision of a 1500 point army was 100 space marines on foot; while reasonable players knew what he was driving at (a representation of a company of space marines), a simple application of this Army Composition to the then-extant rules revealed there was no physical way to get a hundred marines into such a list, never mind within a Force Org chart and never mind that such a force, denied mobility or heavy/special weapons or leadership, would get pasted in almost any mission imaginable. Even as this pronouncement raised the already ire-filled argument about Army Comp to new levels, competitive players began trying to apply the philosophy in GTs--reaching the height of ridiculousness when one such was awarded 'Best Army Composition' at one Grand Tournament for a Chaos Space Marine army which featured the then-legal composition of six 50-strong infantry Chaos Cultist hordes and multiple Great Unclean Ones of Nurgle. Not a single actual Chaos Space Marine in sight.

It was in light of such antics that Army Composition went away completely in many events, or took on radical refining in others, the latter in an effort to continue to allow it to fill its role but to do so fairly. The best such--then and still--is Astronomi-Con's Army Composition: it presents players with guidelines that try to address the role indicated above, but does so completely voluntarily--so that a player can break the Army Comp guidelines for a modest scoring penalty if they think they can make up those points in battle with their higher-end performing army--and completely transparently--so that every player knows how his choices will affect his score.

Is it perfect? No--no more than the game itself is perfect, or perfectly balanced. Very often, players have to 'break' the Army Composition guidelines for a simulation- or story-based reason, as much as in an attempt to power-up their build; the best example I can think of from the recent AstroDallas was a Tyranid player whose love for that army has always been built around large monstrous creatures, especially carnifexes, and who had to take big hits to his Army Comp to get those monsters on the table even though almost no one fears Tyranid 'godzilla' builds under the current codex, *especially* the grossly neutered carnifexes. But the important thing is that 1) he knew what doing so was going to do to his Army Comp score in advance, and was able to decide if that penalty was enough that he needed to go out and start adding hordes; and 2) when he decided it wasn't and he'd rather play the army he liked, he could do it anyway.

I am on record as preferring not to have an Army Composition score in events I run. I recognize the inherent imbalance in the codices, and choose to address it by allowing actual participants to include their perception of the opposing army build as an element of their Sportsmanship scoring. This is where I have always believed it belonged, because the relative 'funness' or 'unfunness' to play of an army construction is almost always a reflection of the relative 'funness' or 'unfunness' of an opposing player to play--and on the occasions I encounter someone who has power-built an army but who is really fun and sporting to play against and has put a great deal into the simulation aspect of that army as well, I am if anything inclined to score him the higher for it, Sportsmanship wise, because that is not very common (the inverse, of someone who shows up with a very thematic army they've invested tremendously in the simulation aspect of but who winds up being a complete douche to game against happens, too--and Sportsmanship *still* seems to be a reasonable area to address that, in scoring). Is this perfect? Of course not--the most obvious flaw being, as in any player-scored aspect, that often the least Sporting players will use that very element of the overall scoring in manipulative ways. Play your buddy, who is obviously a jackass to everyone in the room with his contentiousness, and who has tweaked his army to match, and give him perfect marks for Sportsmanship including his build? Yeah--you've beaten the system. Bravo to you, a-hole...but don't think everyone doesn't know you did it, and don't be shocked when *your* Sportsmanship scoring seems lower from your opponents other than your buddy than you thought you deserve, and maybe costs you a placing.

The important thing to remember in either case is that players know this aspect of scoring will be present in advance; it at least presents the opportunity for addressing imbalance, and achieving a higher level of competitive fairness, and if it isn't their cup-of-tea, hobby-wise, there are plenty of 'harder' organized play events out there, for their investment of time, effort and expense. That is 'fairness' at its most balanced.

The Ard Boyz events come under a lot of criticism in discussions of any aspect of the Hobby other than tabletop results--but in my view they shouldn't. They are to gameplay what Golden Daemon competitions are to the painting aspect of the Hobby: an organized event narrowly focusing on that part of the overall Hobby, not a replacement for organized events which fully embrace and celebrate as many aspects of the Hobby at once as possible. Just as Golden Daemon should not diminish the accomplishments of a Best Painted or Best Army trophy winner at a broad-hobby event, Ard Boyz play should not dictate to broad-hobby play. Let them all exist, and let hobbyists decide where they are happiest participating.

And if, in a given area, there *aren't* enough events of any one type or another, and a hobbyist has a very strong feeling about it...there are always plenty of retailers looking for events, and someone with the commitment to run one. Doing so is biting off a chunk of work, to be sure, but will have a much longer-term impact that simply talking about it or posting about it. In the ongoing matter of scoring for Army Composition, as in the rest of the hobby, as in life...effort trumps opinion. I know Astronomi-Con was formed from a challenge to its moderators, after an unsatisfactory organized play experience, to 'see if you can do better'...and they have.

Fine Historical Miniatures Hardcover Released

The price will ensure this fine tome is not for everyone...but for those for whom such things might be a priority, Kevin Dallimore is (like the releasing company, Wargames Foundry) a recognized and respected name in historical miniatures circles, and I expect the quality of this 308 page, 900+ colour photo illustrated volume to match their reputations.

Get it Here!

Night Spinner Summary

The multipart plastic Eldar Night Spinner is now readily available on your local stockist's shelves, but the rules have thus far only been printed in White Dwarf (North American issue 365, June 2010, the same issue which published the Spearhead ruleset). Although most organized events (like tournaments) still require participants to have the in-print version of any rules in order to use a unit, and Games Workshop will doubtless have the Night Spinner rules available as a codex-legal download from their website, this summary should allow purchasers of the kit who may have missed that issue of the Dwarf to begin friendly play (and allow those facing one to begin readying, as well!):

From WDNA 365 June 2010:

Eldar Night Spinner
Vehicle, Heavy Support
115 Points

BS3 FA12 SA12 RA10 Tank, Fast, Skimmer

Twin-linked Doomweaver: R12"-72" S6 AP- Hvy1, Barrage, Large Blast, Rending, Monofilament Web (any unit hit counts as in Difficult and Dangerous Terrain next time they move)

Twin-linked shuriken catapults (may upgrade to cannon for 10 points)

May take: -Vectored engines...20 points
-Star engines...15 points
-Holofields...35 points
-Spirit stones...10 points

Celt Starter Army Deal at Warlord

Warlord Games occasionally puts amazing historical miniatures starter army boxes together for sale from their website for a limited time, usually centered around their core multipart plastics with key blistered metal figures as special features. This time, they've created a starter army box for ancient Celts--featuring almost US$150 worth of models for less than US$100. If you've an interest in 28mm historicals, you can't go wrong with sculpts of Warlord's quality at a price like this...

The Wrath of the Norse!

Interesting in-scale little plastic kit on offer from Warlord Games:

The application for 28mm historicals is obvious; what occurs to me as well is that it would make a great centerpiece for a Warriors of Chaos army in Warhammer Fantasy Battles--and (for those willing to chop something this cool up a bit) an even cooler terrain/objective!

The Modano Quandary

Mike Modano's future in hockey has taken a new turn with reported comments in the last week, and created what local sports enthusiasts are calling 'the Modano Quandary' for his lifelong team, the Dallas Stars.

Let me help clarify. There is no 'quandary.' There's options 1a or 1b, which are unfortunately mutually exclusive due to NHL rules but which either one offers some positives going forward; there's option 2 which will be initially disappointing but is Mike's call and will be just fine, down the line; and there is *any other effing thing*, all of which will make the Stars, manager Joe Niuwendyk, coach Mark Crawford, owner Tom Hicks and anyone else associated with it irremediably hated men in North Texas. For life. Figure that on struggling ticket sales, Stars management.

Option 1a is, Mike decides to play for the Stars another year, affording him and his fans a farewell-tour year something like those final two storybook games of last year's otherwise disappointing season.

Option 1b is, Mike becomes part of a new ownership team of the Stars (which has the ancillary enormous benefit of seeing off the horrific blight upon North Texas that is the Hicks Sports Group).

Option 2 is, Mike retires. We who believe (unlike some other sports icons like the often-compared Emmit Smith) that Mike has proven he can still play as a contributing 3rd or 4th line center, will be saddened...but last year ended so magically for him, and us, and we know he will become a future enormous part of the franchise going forward if it ends happily like this, so we can live with it.

Any other option--and we. will. hate. the. Stars. He goes to another team and plays, and some part of our relationship with Mike will be damaged, as well--but Mike won't be paying for it in lost revenue and ticket sales and skate fees at StarCenters and whatever else.

A Stars team minus Modano, and Marty Turco, and maybe Jere Lehtinen, had better win quickly because the remaining other draws are known for their appeal mostly only to we hockey faithful who are coming anyway. They *cannot* afford to actively piss off the fanbase.

Mike wants to play, we want him back. In black, green and gold. Period.

Screw this up at your *enormous* peril, Stars.


FFG's Free RPG Day offering was 'Final Sanction,' debuting the next (and most anticipated) offering in their 40K roleplaying line, Deathwatch (allowing play as Space Marines, finally). Though I missed getting by my local game stockist for the day because of Astronomi-Con Dallas (a trade I will happily make any day), I've finally gotten to pick through a friend's copy of 'Final Sanction,' and I like it. The system mechanics are what they are (I am not especially a fan, having dealt already with these rules via Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader), but like those previous offerings the art and production values are up to GW standard, as (most importantly) is the embrace of the Intellectual Property: this *feels* like the 40Kverse.

Using the Deathwatch as an rpg paradigm is an outstanding way to get Space Marines into play (and should allow easy cross-integration with RT and especially DH); the only thing I noticed is that the module clearly genericizes the Deathwatch into servants of any and all Ordos of the Inquisition (rather than the pure alien hunters they've always been). Wonder if this presages any changes for 40K, come the new Inquisition codex?

'Final Sanction' has me jazzed to run a session of Space Marine role-playing; if anyone has a friendly gaming store with a copy left, please let me know (and you get dibs on the first slot in the Kill Team!).

Thank You, Astro Dallas Sponsors

The inaugural Astronomi-Con Dallas would not have been the runaway success it was without:

  • HobbytownUSA Dallas: HTUD donated the table and city ruins for 'Urban Sprawl,' and were the *only* North Texas retailer to take advantage of Astro's unique sponsor a player' program of sending one of their staff 40K experts to participate; anyone who got to play Jeff and his Howling Griffons space marines, thank HTUD! The Post-Astro Apocalypse Megabattle reward for Astro attendees will also be hosted by HTUD, as will the summer-long North Texas 40K Playoffs, beginning with Bracket One this Sunday!
  • Reaper: In addition to prizes, Reaper gave *every* Astro Dallas participant a limited-edition three-pack of their quality paints (I used one of their blues as an accent colour for my Iron Hands to make them notably different from Ultras or Crimson Fists in traditional Citadel blues, and I think it worked nicely). We are fortunate to have Reaper as so supportive a North Texas-local manufacturer.
  • Warlord Games: The full-colour box set of multipart plastic Roman Legion and limited resin Testudo formation donated by Warlord as prize support were admired all weekend; if such quality 28mm historical gaming pieces are something you would like to add to your miniatures-wargaming hobby, let your local retailer know: they will gladly stock what you will buy!
  • Battlefront: Manufacturers of the great Flames of War WWII game, Battlefront contributed the terrain which became 'Truck Stop' and free posters which were eagerly snapped up by Astro Dallas attendees. If you would like to play Flames of War, let your local retailer know!
  • Gale Force 9: GF9 is already wellknown in the hobby for their lines of game accessories and assembly/painting/basing product; they've now added top-quality pre-painted terrain, which covered the GF9-sponsored, classic-Astro 'Sink The Baneblade!' table.
  • Adeptus North Texas provided pre-Astro Dallas promotion, including run-up events, and prizes for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40K to reinforce it's role as a central clearing house for information regarding all aspects of the Games Workshop hobby in North Texas, as well as the awesome Cybo-Skull accessory and a free ticket toward winning it for the first 25 Astro registerees; if your hobby friends are not on the Adeptus emailing list, get them hooked up for the latest locally.
  • Games Workshop: In addition to a wealth of coveted prize support product (including rare Forge World kit!), GW contributed tickets to GamesDay, the premiere celebration of the Hobby, and by making the Astro circuit part of the official Indy GT lineup, admission to two finishers for next year's tourney final in Las Vegas!
  • The Gamers Realm: In addition to their regular beautiful tables and plentiful terrain, TGR built tables exclusively to debut at Astro Dallas, provided prize support, and most importantly, *made* Astro Dallas happen by hosting the event and doing all the ferrying and logistic duty such an undertaking required. Matt, Jack and the TGR staff, there aren't sufficient thanks; hopefully, current and future purchases from TGR will convey the community's appreciation.

To all 38 players who came out--you've proven yourselves hobby champions. Though we drew from extremities of North Texas--west beyond Ft Worth and east as far as Tyler--in the end, Astro Dallas was an *all North Texas* event. That should send a message to GW about how ready the Metroplex is for future major organized hobby celebrations (GamesDay Dallas, anyone)...and bodes well for the attendance at future Astro Dallases, once attendees begin coming in from Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock and out-of-state--including, perhaps especially, the great veteran gaming community of other Astronomi-Cons. If Astro Dallas 1 was the first Astro to ever turn profit in it's inaugural iteration, the sky's the limit, going forward--thanks to the support of and confidence in it, sight-unseen, by this community.

And, most importantly, thanks to Christian Augst, Mike Major and (labouring behind the scenes and across the border--this time) Keith Grant, for the best time it is possible to have playing 40K.

Watch for information on how to participate in the circuit's remaining 2010 tournaments in Winnipeg and Vancouver, Canada (you *know* you want to) and for word on the latest hobby activities in North Texas...and on Astronomi-Con Dallas 2011!

Tales of Battle

'Tales of Battle' is a high-production-value fanzine devoted to Warhammer Fantasy Battle--specifically the WHFB Grand Tournament Circuit--which has just reached its milestone sixth small feat for what is essentially a two-man operation.

Each issue covers the latest developments in the Warhammer world, via reviews of such things as recent army book releases, through the prism of what has happened on the GT circuit. There are, as well as reviews, frequent army showcases and occasional modeling workshops--but even these are geared toward the GTer. An excellent example is local hobbyist Matt Mayer's article about Dwarf entrenchments in issue five: although Matt does a great job expanding on the basics for building the model (presented in an earlier issue), making it 360 and addressing a defect in one of the recommended building materials, and the article would stand as valuable from that perspective alone, the remainder of the article elaborates on how the entrenchment played at the Alamo GT.

It isn't in any way a criticism to point out this emphasis; and in fact much of 'Tales of Battle's' success is probably due to it's catering to a specific potential audience. It is just something potential customers should know: there are frequent uses without elaboration of abbreviations and terminology which have become commonplace over the course of GT play which a non-GTer may have difficulty deciphering, and a general sense of familiarity amongst the circuit's top players (which understandably include 'ToB's' staff) which can leave readers interested in Warhammer but less a part of the GT subculture scratching their heads.

It might be fair to suggest clarity in such matters could be improved by judicious explanatory editing...and it is also fair to warn readers in advance that if they are bothered by the presence of other errors one expects to be cleaned up by professional editing--such as spelling or punctuation errors, mid-paragraph changes in tense, etc--such things are too common in issues of 'ToB' to ignore. 'Tales of Battle' is a fanzine; as it's colour, graphic design and photo reproduction have improved from issue to issue, it is easy to forget that it's creators and contributors are producing it out of affection for the subculture, and by definition are professionals at something else. Nevertheless, five bucks is five bucks; some readers won't stand for muddy or inaccurate photos or diagrams at that price, and others may not for muddy english...

Each issue of 'ToB' can be counted on to include regular features: those present from the start have included in-person coverage of the most recent GTs, Masters of Battle interviews with hobby (meaning circuit) notables, Table One (a fully-diagrammed battle report from climactic tables at recent GTs, a particularly impressive, labour-intensive piece of work) and The General's Tent, offering playing advice. I have found something of merit in all these regular columns; I learned more about Wasteland Wars and it's tireless promoter on the Adeptus North Texas mailing list, Brent Collins, in issue 4 than I had known, for example (all of which makes me want to get out to Lubbock someday even more), and the General's Tent on GT Etiquette in that same issue should be something every hobbyist reads.

The irregular features have been spottier--short WHFB-ish fiction, painting and building articles and army showcases increase the zine's appeal beyond the GT circuit players circle, while commentaries from such players and/or about activities on it can be so insular as to be offputting. Issue 5's At The Crossroads of Overlord is a fine example: an article about four East Coast players' attempts to claim a season-overall championship through play in the last tourney event was fascinating, once into it--but with far too little explanatory set-up about who they were or how they reached that point to be very clear. Doubtless for others on the circuit who know them or know the whole story, it was sufficient; for the remaining potential WHFB-loving audience it took a lot of inference while reading-through, to get satisfaction.

In particular, I would enjoy seeing more reviews: the format in issue 5 which judged the Skaven Army Book by familiar letter grades for Imagination/Excitement, Balance (which it did well on) and Rules Clarity (where it nearly failed) was enlightening.

'ToB's' newest feature will be as an outlet for 'unofficial' WHFB playlists. This started as a well-received, fan-created army list for the long-officially-unavailable Chaos Dwarves, which has been accepted for official play at certain GTs (the 96 page PDF can be downloaded at for the interested); author Kevin Coleman adds the Fimir (for the true WHFB grognard) in issue 6. It is a neat idea, and the initial impression the list makes upon this Black Orc player is positive, ruleswise--but it's credibility is, if not destroyed, badly undermined by the worst case of the aforementioned amateurish proofing/editing yet seen in an issue...

'Tales of Battle' is the brainchild of North Texas' own Ben Burns, ably assisted by Matt Birdoff. Copies are available locally at The Gamers Realm and Area 51 for $5 each; subscriptions can be had for $25 at and, while I am no WHFB GTer, I felt I got my five bucks worth of entertainment and am happy to have found all six issues through local retailers. I anxiously await the seventh.

Rule Clarification: Descent of Angels

The new Codex: Blood Angels is somewhat unclear about which units and characters benefit from their 'Descent of Angels' Special Rule.

The Special Rule verbiage on page 23 indicates it applies to 'a Blood Angels unit with this special rule;' if interpreted to mean therefore only those units with 'Descent of Angels' listed in their individual unit Special Rules, only the HQs Dante, Astorath and the Sanguinor, the Elite Sanguinary Guard, and the Troop Assault Squads appear to benefit from 'Descent of Angels.'

However, the Equipment listing for Jump Packs on page 62 states that *any* 'Blood Angels model with a jump pack has the Descent of Angels special rule' and then specifically refers to page 23 (emphasis mine). This would extend the benefit of the Special Rule to any other character capable of purchasing a jump pack, and to jump pack equipped units which do not specifically reference 'Descent of Angels' in their unit listing. Vanguard Veterans are the unit of relevance here, because 'Descent of Angels' combined with 'Heroic Intervention' could be especially powerful (a possible negative consequence of interpreting the codex this way)...but the ability to join any BAdex character wearing a jump pack to a like-equipped squad, as this interpretation would allow, seems an equal positive.

I think the unit which best clarifies which way this rule should be interpreted is the Death Company. It's unit listing does not confer 'Descent of Angels'--but Chaplain Lemartes, who can now only be bought as an upgrade to the Death Company, does have the 'Descent of Angels' Special Rule, which would be meaningless if his mandatorily-attached squad could not benefit likewise.

As the jump pack listing confers the Special Rule and the rule explanation limits it to those *with* the Special Rule, the interpretation most consistent with both of those codex assertions would seem to be that the presence of a jump pack on a character model or unit of models in an army built using Codex: Blood Angels confers 'Descent of Angels' to that character or unit, regardless of whether the Special Rule is specified in their unit listing alone.

This has the benefit of allowing Independent Characters other than the three (very unique) special characters so identified to strap on a jump pack and run with assault marines, and clarifies the Death Company (and, yes, makes Vanguard Veterans *very* hard).

Unless errata'ed otherwise at some point by Games Workshop, this will clarify how 'Descent of Angels' will be ruled at any events I moderate, and other local retailers and referees are welcome to refer to it, for consistency.

Wound Allocation In V5

Prefacing this with the acknowledged opinion that V5 Wound Allocation is stupid, counter intuitive, unnecessarily time-wasting and fiddly, and a change made almost certainly only so that it was something different from the system put in place by the previous Studio regime--we are nevertheless stuck with it. I understand players who simply choose to disregard it and assess casualties the old way, and frankly I tend to do so most of the time, too...but being less than diligent about enforcing proper V5 Wound Allocation has created multiple ways of playing this locally, several of which conflict--with fairly dramatic consequences. With Astronomi-Con only two months out, I have undertaken to get this right.

There seem to be two ways of interpreting the rule (and in fairness to the local gaming scene, in sorting through the forums to get the consensus correct answer on this, this is a common problem everywhere):

  • You split your targeted unit into as many different (by gear, stats, whatever) types as necessary and assess each Wound, one to a model at a time, *per type*.
  • You split your targeted unit into as many different (by gear, stats, whatever) types as necessary but assess each Wound one per model, only moving to specialist types when the basic type models have all received a wound.

The difference is small but meaningful, especially when only a few Wounds have been made (if there are enough inflicted Wounds to place at least one per model it doesn't matter): taking the book's five man Dev squad (page 25) as an example--what if, instead of the illustrated eleven Wounds (allotting at least two per model and three to one, pretty clear), the squad had suffered only three Wounds--two from bolters allowing a save and the third from a melta allowing no save? Do you assess the Wounds by the three types, as in 1) above, in which case a bolter armed target, a missile launcher armed target and the Sgt each must take a Wound with the melta wound being assigned by owning player's choice (probably the marine in the bolter armed group), or by model, as in 2) above, in which case one bolter armed marine is still going to get vaped, and either the sergeant or a missile launcher marine is still going to have to make a save, but the second bolter armed marine would get to take the last save, protecting one or the other (but meaning at least one type within the unit never gets allocated a wound)?

This really matters even more in larger squads with many more 'bullet shields' and fewer special and heavy weapon toters. It would matter in this example if there were a third basic type (bolter armed marine) model--as then, if 2) is correct, *none* of the other, specialist, types need face taking a save.

As it happens, 2) *is* correct. The rules specify that players must allocate one wound to each model in the target unit before a second can be allocated to the same model. They also specify that models with any differences in profile, etc, must be set out by type...but *do not* specify that this must be done first. Reading the Rules As Published, this latter requirement of setting out affected models in a target unit by type is *only* necessary if the number of wounds requiring saves exceeds the number of basic-type models in the unit, or if (for whatever reason) the owning player wished to allocate wounds to a type other than a basic model. Which would mean, for our example, 2) above is correct Wound Allocation. For an average ten marine tactical squad, six wounds could typically be taken before the owning player has to start dividing into types; for larger squads (orks being an excellent example), many, many basic type models can take an inflicted wound before needing to begin dividing into types, for Wound Allotment.

Your specialized models with better statlines or equipment, in other words, *do not* need to begin being assigned to make saves until the number of wounds inflicted on their unit exceeds the number of basic type models able to take those hits.

Going out Stars-style

There is no question the season, for a Dallas Stars hockey loyalist, has been disappointing; and, further, that perhaps all three bulwarks of the franchise were playing their final home game tonight. But for one night, everything was as it should be, again: Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano set up the team's first goal, Modano scored the second with barely a minute left to send the game to overtime--then in the shootout Lehtinen and Modano both scored again, and Marty Turco stoned the opposing shooters to make the perfect ending stand up, for an electric victory.

I want them all back. There is no question Modano still has it, and makes everyone around him better, and what a helluva fourth line center he could still be; the talk certainly seems to be that he is leaning to retiring, and the argument can be made that the Stars are ready to run Richards, Rebeiro and some combination of Ott/Benn/Wandell down the middle without him; I counter that Modano, returning at the level he is still playing, allows some of those centers to stay on the ice as wings, and the front line becomes even more formidable. Bottom line, he is still greatness and if he wants to play one more, I will be heartily cheering. Lehtinen has had difficulty staying healthy and there have been games where he has looked spent...but those who know far more than I say his mastery of all the little, inobvious, intangible things is second to none, and that if he could be had at a bargain, he will be welcomed back. If he can contribute consistently like he contributed tonight, that would be grand. Marty is likeliest to be gone simply because the Stars, having signed their future goalkeep, will not give him a starting keeper's salary--wouldn't even if they somehow remedy their grotesquely-handicapping ownership situation in the off-season--but...if it happens that he isn't offered giant money elsewhere, one hopes the Stars have kept the relationship open enough that if he is forced to consider a lesser contract, he would welcome the one that keeps him home. I do not expect that to happen: someone is going to realize Marty's biggest problems this season were Dallas' woeful blue line, and realize how much his presence in goal will make them better. They way these things tend to work, it will probably prove to be a team which will allow him to make the Stars pay, repeatedly. But by all reports he is beloved in that locker room, and he certainly is in this community (and in this household, where 'wanting to be like Marty' has turned my seven-year-old into a rabid Stars fan, a budding hockey player...and allowed him to show us things we never guessed he had, as his team's soccer goalie)...and you hate to say goodbye to class like that.

But if they must go...what an amazing way to go. Life rarely follows the script; tonight, for Marty, Jere and Mikey, the heroes rose to the moment, and saved the day, and got to take us with them as they went out in style. Stars-style.

April 1829: The Fall of The Raven

Mention 'Sam Houston' in 21st century America and the image conjured by the name is of a giant of the War for Texas Independence, and in the governance of that same republic once independence was won; a man as big as the towering statue of him which overlooks I45 in Huntsville, Texas.

It is worth remembering that he was all of those things, while still being as human--and flawed--as us all. And his darkest moment of failure culminated almost two centuries ago this month.

Houston was an Andrew Jackson man. He fought under Jackson at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River against the Red Stick indians, where he was nearly killed but his relentless courage was noted by Old Hickory; both were promoted from Tennessee militia to regular army as result--Houston to Washington to recuperate from his horrific injuries, where he watched in fury as the British burned the upstart nation's capital in the War of 1812, Jackson eventually to New Orleans, where his makeshift coalition of bayou Cajuns, southern gentlemen, blacks slave and free and Jean LaFitte's pirates shattered those same British, further idolizing him in Houston's eyes--and when the two turned after to politics, they did so as virtual father-and-son, Jackson eventually to the presidency in no small measure due to Houston's relentless support in Congress, and Houston ultimately to follow Jackson to the governance of Tennessee, and commandery of her militia (whence he would take his title, like Jackson before him, of General). As the tidal wave of liberalized 'western' democracy reshaped the face of the establishment 'eastern' American republic in the late 1820s, there were no small few who believed the tall Virginian who had lived among the Cherokee in his youth and earned the name 'colonneh,' or Raven, would continue to follow his mentor on to the presidency.

His resume lacked only the social touch. The Raven needed a wife.

He took one in Eliza Allen, blonde and blue-eyed daughter of a Gallatin, Tennessee colonel. She seemed the perfect fit, embraced by the gentry of Nashville, and Houston, by all accounts, fell deeply for her.

And never recovered--for within three months, it was over, and Sam Houston's rise with it.

It is still not absolutely clear what happened. Considerable aspersions of character were suggested of Eliza, which so provoked Houston that he swore in print to kill any man who questioned her purity. She slipped after into obscurity, and Houston refused publicly ever to speak of it, the rest of his life; most likely, it was the simple, calamitous combination of a man in love with a woman who loved another, which neither could reconcile.

By April of 1829, the marriage was over (Houston not being of either honor or temperament to demand Eliza remain in a loveless union of politics or convenience), Houston had resigned the governorship of Tennessee due to 'overwhelming...sudden calamities'...and The Raven, once destined for greatness in the East, had disappeared, miserable, beaten and failed, into the west.

Fortunately--for Sam Houston and for the many liberty-minded settlers of the next decade--to the west lay Texas. Without the 'calamity' which took him down so completely in disgrace by April of 1829, there likely would not have been a man of his stature west of the Sabine in 1836, a man capable of making the difficult, wrenching decisions which kept the newborn republic alive in the face of overwhelming adversity, of weathering the bitter scorn of the humiliating 'Runaway Scrape' without breaking; he had broken once, and been so tempered by it he would not falter again. By the April of seven years later, the old Sam Houston was reborn...and when the time came to turn and break Santa Anna and Mexico instead, at San Jacinto, in the name of liberty, freedom, the selfsame rights so essential to the democracy of the west that had changed the American nation a decade earlier and borne him to triumph after triumph, this time, Sam Houston was ready.

The Raven had risen, phoenixlike, and borne a nation up with him. A weight he likely would not have been equal to without the tempering of disgrace, in April of 1829.

Hobby Synergy

There has *never* been a better time to be starting a Warhammer 40,000 army in North Texas.

That is a pretty unqualified statement, I know--but consider how much play value is available to a hobbyist who decides to begin playing 40K right now (or start a new army for same):

  1. a purchase of any basic Citadel box set (a cost of as little as under thirty bucks) from The Gamers Realm gives admission to their months-long Escalation League.
  2. a minimum purchase of forty-five bucks worth of GW product from Lone Star Comics Dallas gives admission to their months-long Escalation League.
  3. there was no additional cost to participate in XMax Games' Moon XM campaign, which included brand-new campaign mission designed to allow new forces onto the table in small points increments and a two-day, five round Doubles tourney Mar 20-21--and they will be starting another all-new, no-cost-to-play mapbased campaign (using Planetary Empires) April 3.
  4. HobbytownUSA Dallas just completed a centerpiece modeling and painting contest.
  5. Lone Star Comics Mesquite will offer a multi-player mega-battle in early June.

And those are just the events local retailers have made Adeptus North Texas aware of; I know the Grapevine and Frisco GW stores have ongoing events which would be complementary (not least of which is their excellent Academy programs), Comic Asylum and Area 51 regularly run events and contests for 40K, most of the other Lone Star locations have their own events (particularly the Plano crew), Comic Book Craze in Garland continues to build their GW presence, etc.

In terms of entertainment bang for the buck--it doesn't easily get better than this.

Supporting local stockists who make space available for play and--perhaps even more importantly--put effort into events which keep the hobby fresh and fun is the best way hobbyists can ensure such stockists remain. When they make such supporting purchases this good a value, everyone benefits. A squad or similar box from TGR, a beast from HTUD and the minimum Lone Star Dallas purchase could come in at about a hundred dollars--and produce *months* of league and campaign play, until summer. That kind of synergy didn't exist in North Texas until very recently. Let's ensure, as customers, it remains.

Space Hulk: The Heresy

One of the (many) things Warhammer 40,000 hobbyists, designers and the keepers of Intellectual Property at Games Workshop seem perpetually of two camps about is playing the events of the 31st Millennium Horus Heresy out in miniature.

If *I* were emperor, the Horus Heresy would never have been explored in the kind of detail the recent Black Library novel series has done--precisely because it has added very little (one really strong book, a couple higher quality books, and a raft of under-par disappointments) and robbed the Warhammer 40,000 background of mystery, stature and scope in the process. Mythic events stay mythic better when we concretely *know* very little about them.

Fantasy Flight Games' new and expansive board game Horus Heresy will provide additional detail...and bring the events of the Heresy that much closer to game play (admittedly still not in miniature--though the game pieces look very much like the sorts of things we miniatures hobbyists will *have* to have...).

And GW itself has occasionally toyed with recreating the Heresy in 28mm--though usually for 'showpiece' events like the GamesDay Seige of Terra table--while steadfastly positing that there will never be official rules or models supplementing the existing forty-first millennium background with armies, characters and events from ten thousand years earlier.

That is pretty much my preference, as well; when you start statting up Leman Russ, Magnus, Horus and the Emperor for 40K play, their magic goes away (see 'destroying the mythic' above).

*If* I had the power, however, I *would* explore the Heresy in miniature, in a very specific way--a way GW themselves have recently templated for us, so successfully: I would release a self-contained game, with the draw being the specific models everyone would like to have from the Heresy, in a limited edition. In other words: Space Hulk: The Heresy. Purists would get it for the ability to possess 'official' Guileman or Dorn or Mortarion miniatures, 40K players would get it to turn the included models into their own elite, ornate Ultramarine or Imperial Fist or Death Guard characters, GW would make a short fortune...and be able to 'officially' say there still weren't 40K minis (or more importantly, statistics) for Heresy-era figures.

If such a game were successful (and does anyone think it would not be?), GW could cover the major Heresy players in supplemental releases, over a series of years.

Imagine the first limited edition game recreating Horus' battle barge in Space Hulk board tiles (compatible with existing segments, of course, and of the same extraordinary quality) and featuring the confrontation between Horus and the Emperor; perhaps in addition to those two awesome miniatures might come Sanguinius, figures of Heresy-era Blood Angels and Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus/Black Legion. I'd even find a way to put the villain Erebus from the Word Bearers in there, to balance the Blood Angel primarch. What hobbyist would not want such a game? Follow that a year later with a supplement pitting Guileman against Alpharius, with Heresy era Ultramarines and Alpha Legion, or Perturabo and Iron Warriors against Rogal Dorn and Imperial Fists. Culminate the series with the piece de resistance: Leman Russ and his Space Wolves against The Thousand Sons and Magnus the Red, all with exquisite Citadel limited-edition 28mm models--40K scale miniatures that still were not 'really' 40K Heresy-era products--and GW could bridge both Heresy a likely considerable profit, besides. Win/Win/Win.

All I ask for suggesting the idea is a copy of my own of each game--and (for purely selfish reasons) that the Mortarion sculpt look especially wicked cool :)

Despatch: Plastic Minotaurs

Acknowledging that I am probably a hard-sell--I love the existing Citadel pewter Minotaur models, they were the core of my previous edition Beastmen army for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and I had a small hand in creating the Minotaur HQ option for same (what became the Doombull) so I have a certain entirely-unearned-but-real-nonetheless emotional sense of ownership toward them--my initial reaction to the all-plastic, multipose Minotaurs released along with the all-new Beastmen Army Book was *not* enthusiastic.

Having assembled my first unit of three, however, my opinion has modified, to the positive.

The negatives remain: I do not like how oversized they've become compared to the existing metals, I do not like some of the strange anatomical decisions made by the sculptors (chiefly the weird non-hooved hybrid feet and the 'bubble-muscle' look), I do not like how fur/pelt detail has become stylized rather than realistic (an aesthetic choice across the new Beastmen line which looks cartoonish and fake and doesn't work at all, for me), and I do not think the heads resemble either the existing Citadel Minotaur look or real bovine creatures. It has been suggested there is a World of Warcraft influence....

Those points made, I observed in building the actual models that much of these (admittedly subjective) aesthetic issues could be pretty-easily modified by a painting approach which geared the Minotaurs either toward the existing GW look, or just toward a more subdued, realistic approach generally; it appears the Eavy Metal versions seen in advance of their release in White Dwarf uniformly opted to accentuate the design choices made in the sculpts (an admittedly understandable marketing decision). This is particularly true of the heads, which are more recognizably Minotaurish in bare plastic.

And as has been the case with GW's multipart plastic figure kits for some time now, the technical execution is impeccable (sharply-cast details in high-quality plastic with little flash and outstanding fit) and the parts value is high (after assembling my three Minotaurs I had two heads, three sets of horns, four sets of arms, almost a dozen weapons and myriad optional extra detail bits left over). Particularly impressive is the ability to model full command, or three hand-weapon-and-shield, two-hand-weapon or double-handed great weapon armed Minotaurs in each box.

Will they replace my mighty pewter beasts, if I ever return to fielding Beastmen? No. But might they augment those worthies? That they might...

The Hoard of Arthur?

In July 2009, an amateur with a metal detector uncovered on of the greatest hoards of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver yet found, buried in Staffordshire, England. The find has now been tentatively dated to the AD 600s--an era to conjure with--and the nature of the treasure does not suggest noble burial, as at Sutton Hoo, so much as hastily-hidden war gain: virtually all of it is military, from helmet fragments to sword hilts, virtually all of it appears to have been used (and recently) as opposed to ceremonial or ornamental in nature, and such things as still-evident rivets on the gear suggest it was ripped from it's original owners hastily, and buried to hide it. 'It looks like war booty,' according to the archeology head of Staffordshire. 'Losing these objects, (a Saxon) king would have lost his status and authority.'

So much is lost and unknown from these dark ages--called the Insular Period in Great Britain as it seems almost completely isolated from events occurring across Europe, about which little enough is even known--we may never know who the defeated Saxon was...much less who conquered him, stripped him and his warband of the objects which demonstrated their power, and threw them into at least temporary disorganization and chaos by hiding away their status symbols. But it fires the imagination to consider literature, folklore and tradition's likeliest candidate.

Modern 'historical' Arthurian scholarship tends to put its favorite candidates for an historical King Arthur earlier than this, into the early sixth and even likelier fifth centuries...and given what the two great historical documents (the Anglo Saxon Chronicle and the History of Gildas) of the era say--or rather *don't* say, at least explicitly--about the dux bellorum of Roman Britain's successful-if-brief turning-back of the Germanic invasion of the isle, they are probably right. There is no shortage of evidence--including in their own literary tradition, the epic Beowulf--of Anglo-Saxon internecine warfare in these dark times.

But could it have been 'the Bear' and his mounted champions of the Romanized and perhaps Christianized British tribes, who struck this blow against barbarism and brute tyranny on the Staffordshire plain a millennia-and-a-half ago? Fortunately for the poet or romantic in us all, the times were too dark to definitively answer no....

'And here we leave Arthur...who was never historical, but everything he did was true.' --Thomas Berger, Arthur Rex

Source: Kate Ravilious, 'Archeology' Jan/Feb 2010, page 22, Archeological Institute of America

Return of the Legion of the Damned. Almost.

I have a confession. I love the Legion of the Damned.

Their half-page entry in the original 2nd edition Codex: Ultramarines was the coolest thing in a very cool book, and hooked me right from the outset of my foray into the hobby. The Damned's inexplicable, supernatural origins and qualities of mystery and quasi-horror heavily influenced the conceits central to my own DIY space marine chapter, the Void Phantoms (or as they are better known--not coincidentally--The Undying). As soon as I had finished the initial basics of my own marines, I picked out the ten coolest-looking old, out-of-production models in GW's catalog to form my squad of Damned, and placed my first order from the now-gone, greatly-missed Citadel UK Archives. The holy grail of my early, pre-eBay/Internet collecting was the Legion's Sgt Centurius named character (and I can still recount where and how I finally got him). When GW released dedicated Damned miniatures some years later, I was at my stockist for a box first day. I have always had Legion of the Damned in my armies--one need only look as far as the stats and background for the 'Outrider' special character mascot for my blog to understand the depth of my attachment to the Legion--and I am on record as being very pleased both to see the Legion of the Damned returned to the 40Kverse through their Elites entry in the V5 Codex: Space Marines, and with the rules and stats therein, which suit them well. Now GW has upped their appeal even further, with gorgeous new pewter sculpts and a White Dwarf entry slighty rewriting the codex line to make them even more fun to field. The Legion of the Damned are back. Well...almost.

The White Dwarf US 360 article is very good, not only updating the Codex entry to fit the way the new sculpts are kitted out (the sergeant particularly) but also showing several sample army builds incorporating Legion, and nicely re-covering the mysterious unit's over-two-decade history. Almost.

There is a great black hole of Damned background missing in both the V5 rules and the article's history...and the Damned are diminished for that.

It is no secret that there are design philosophy differences between the current GW Studio and those who preceded them, with the former out to redo much of what the latter created, in their own image; fine--that is the nature of work-for-hire, and the right of those left standing (so long as they don't screw up something good in the doing, the consumer/hobbyist loudly qualifies). But any continuity-driven creative work is stronger when it incorporates what has gone before, rather than invalidating it. By ignoring a significant era of Legion history--and even taking veiled shots at it, in the article--GW has undermined something of what it has otherwise accomplished so admirably, in executing their return.

The article recounts well the Legion's debut, in White Dwarf 99, and subsequent V2 Codex entry. It even pictures the limited edition Sgt Centurius model released in 1996 (still possibly my favorite Citadel miniature ever). But it ignores everything done with the Damned in the subsequent V3-V3.5 years...and those were some of the most active developments for the Legion, from a gameplay perspective, in their long history.

It bears expressing that *I* did not much care for this iteration of the Damned, covered mostly in White Dwarf Chapter Approved articles. I was happy, as a fan, to see the Damned return (they went unaddressed in the first third edition Codex: Space Marines), the new entries expanded a bit further on their background and lore, and as noted the gorgeous pewter Legion of the Damned Sergeants, Marines and special- and heavy-weaponsmen, released as both a squad box set and as blisters, were welcome additions. But these rules took the Damned far past the mysterious squad they had been, adding Damned characters, vehicles, even Terminators in successive short, making the Legion a viable alternative full Space Marine army, one which was even GT Tournament legal. That wasn't consistent with what the Legion had always been--a mysterious, small band of interventionist heroes, not an entire army-gone-to-war--and sat badly with at least as many hobbyists as embraced the idea.

But it *happened.* For a period of time--and a time recent enough to be familiar to a significant percentage of the hobby community--that *was* the official conceit GW offered for the Damned. For an article as otherwise comprehensive about the Legion to willfully ignore that entire continuity--to in fact attempt a kind of textual sleight-of-hand suggesting it never occurred (through improper crediting of the previous models' provenance and through a boxed text specifically saying such larger-than-squad size appearances by the Legion were unknown) does the game's background a disservice. Would it have been so monumental a writing task instead to respectfully nod to that era by saying appearances by the Legion of the Damned in strength greater than individual squads 'are the stuff of legend, reported in past millennia of Imperial history by scribes of questionable authority, unverified; consigned to records of dubious' or 'what if' histories--but neither ever unproven.

And I could have done without the shot by one of the new-model sculptors at the first set of Damned pewters from editions ago: yes, those were largely existing Space Marine models with 'bones and flames sculpted on,' but that is exactly what the task required, and what the Damned *were,* and there are a lot of hobbyists still 'in the game' who love those models.

Finally...I would dearly love to have Sgt Centurius back. Not the specific model--as beautifully-sculpted as it is, it was a limited edition release and I think it poor form to advertise something as limited then ever make it widely available. But it would be a very cool thing to have his special character rules updated for V5...

Make no mistake: It is good to have the Legion of the Damned back--and better than ever, in many ways: as good as the previous sculpts were, these *are* even better, and the V5 rules capture the traditional atmosphere of the Damned perfectly. It would be even better if GW had not shortchanged them their full history, in the doing.


If one's view of the Damned permits them to exist in a more-than-a-single-fleeting-squad kind of way, the current Codex: Space Marines provides options for simulating that.

The core of such an army would be the three ELITES Legion of the Damned squads, of course: at maximum size each exceeds 300 points even before any special, heavy or sergeant gear is added. That is two-thirds of a standard 1500-point army accounted for.

There are six options for adding the mandatory HQ choice. None of them are perfect--but a couple get very close. To 'feel' like the Legion, such HQ choices must have the required Invulnerable Save and be able to Deep Strike. The former is conferred to any Independent Character with an Iron Halo (Chapter Masters and Captains), a Rosarius (Chaplains) or who can equip a Storm Shield or can wear Tactical Dreadnought (Terminator) Armour; Terminator Armour also confers the latter (so do Jump Packs, which expands the options slightly but--with one exception explored following--do not get addressed further in this article because to me the Damned *must* materialize as if from nowhere, rather than ride in on a plume of smoke and fire, however admittedly cool that latter imagery may be). A Damned HQ IC can therefore be built either from the generic Space Marine Chapter Master, Captain or Chaplain entries in the Codex and equipping with Terminator Armour--choosing a Storm Shield for the Chapter Master or Captain even makes the Invulnerable Save 3+, to perfectly mirror the V5 Damned (though a skull-faced Chaplain leading the Damned just *feels* more right :). Players who prefer to template an HQ from one of the Codex's special characters cannot get as perfect a match: Marneus Calgar upgraded to the Armour of Antilochus has Deep Strike but only a 4+ Invulnerable Save (though his Eternal Warrior Universal Special Rule more than makes up for it and *feels* very consistent with the lore of the Damned); the omnipresent-on-V5-battlefields Vulkan He'stan has the 3+ Invulnerable Save through Kesare's Mantle but his Artificier Armour confers no Deep Strike; and the best statistical match, Lysander (Terminator Armour, a 3+ Invulnerable through his Storm Shield, Eternal Warrior *and* one awesome melée weapon in his warhammer, the Fist of Dorn--all reasons why he is my favorite V5 template) sees the other two special bonuses he confers--Stubbornness to his army and Bolter Drill to his squad--vastly diminished in impact in a Fearless, Assault Terminator-heavy army (see following). Depending on which option the player chooses, his Damned HQ raises the army's cost by as little as 130 points (a Terminator Chaplain) to as much as 265 points (Calgar).

The only additional units in the Codex which provide for all models an Invulnerable Save and the ability to Deep Strike are Terminator Squads and Vanguard Veterans. Assault Terminator Squads kitted with Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields are perfect Damned--but like all Terminators, are ELITES choices, and all three of your Army of the Damned ELITE slots are likely to be filled with squads of authentic Legion. They remain options to consider for Planetstrike! and Apocalypse games--but you could take as many squads of the Legion as you wanted in Apocalypse anyway. We will come back to them before we are done...but let us consider the Vanguard, first.

The Vanguard Veterans are a V5 codex entry which has, in my experience, been underseen on 40K battlefields...but which make interesting additions to a Damned army. One reason they are taken less frequently than their (admittedly excellent) Sternguard Veteran brethren is that there are such other excellent, effective and economical choices for Space Marine commanders amongst the Fast Attack Org chart; for a Damned force, most of those aren't thematic. And while they do enter via Jump Pack Deep Strike rather than 'materializing from thin air,' as noted above, the Vanguard differ from standard Assault Marines in two critical, Legion-worthy ways: they can all equip with Storm Shields, conferring to them a simulacrum of the Damned's supernatural invulnerability, and they possess a unique ability, the 'Heroic Intervention,' which can allow them to appear at the critical time and place and launch a battle-turning assault from deep striking, in the very best tradition of the interventionist-themed Legion of the Damned. Of course, a full squad so equipped is going to cost in the 500 point vicinity--but nothing in a Damned army comes cheaply...

And there are still no TROOPS choices which fit. This is irremediable with the current codex; there are only the two options, Tactical and Scout Squads--which, great though they are, emphatically are not suited to represent the Damned. The only table-legal solution is to create a non-Damned 'mini army' within the larger Damned framework, a two-TROOP minimum codex marine force which represents, from a background perspective, the imperiled Loyalists whom the Legion materializes to rescue. If any of the previously-suggested supplements to a Damned roster ring inauthentic, a purist could expand this component to whatever degree (though the army obviously becomes less truly a Legion of the Damned force the more this is done), and it is an easy segue toward a Damned army for any player who already has some Space Marine force, however modest (which, face it, is almost all of us).

But it isn't a complete Legion of the Damned. There is no way to get there from here, under the published codex rules.

For fun, however, there are always 'house rules'--localized alterations to standard play created to achieve just such a desired, legally-impossible effect--and here is one for anyone interested in fielding an Army of the Damned:

No Aid But Their Own: A Codex: Space Marine player desiring to field an exclusively Legion of the Damned army--defined as one in which all characters and non-vehicle units Deep Strike and possess an Invulnerable Save, are all converted and painted to visually represent the Legion of the Damned, and of which at least one ELITE choice is an actual Legion of the Damned squad--may take •two• Terminator or Terminator Assault Squads as TROOPS choices.

As mentioned above, Terminator Assault Squads equipped with Storm Shields are particularly good Damned proxies--but contest for the same Force Org slots; this house rule allows an Army of the Damned builder to maximize his three authentic Legion choices, and add two of their nearest proxies, solving the otherwise insolvable issue of the mandatory TROOPS choices, as well.

And add an appropriately evocative character to lead them, and the points tally is hovering right around 1500.

The question of vehicles alone remains. At its 'army of its own' apex, the Damned had access to all manner of typical Space Marine tanks and transports; under current edition rules, none of those could materialize alongside the Legionnaires as they walk out of inexistence. A player interested in adding any will have to justify them as arriving 'just out of sight,' then rolling to the clarion call of rescue. Land Speeder variants (excepting the Storm, which would be carrying Scouts, something the Legion conceit cannot convincingly justify) can Deep Strike in, and although they lack the invincibility of a permanent Invulnerable Save do present some interesting possibilities for conversions. The thorniest question is presented by the Dreadnought in all it's variants--which of all the additions heaped upon the Damned concept as it expanded was always the coolest: while it cannot Deep Strike, a Dreadnought can arrive via Drop Pod...and nothing says that arriving Pod itself did not shimmer into existence out of nowhere, ghostlike, in the wartorn skies above a battlefield, moments before impact...heralding yet another unlooked-for rescue by the Army of the Damned...

Chemical Warfare in 256 AD

Around 256 AD the Persian Sassanid (lately called Sasanian) Empire beseiged the Roman Fortress of Dura, in Syria. Though the Persians never breached the walls, the undersized and unreinforced Imperial contingent eventually fell; everyone within was executed or deported east to live the remainder of their lives as slaves. A recent reexamination of the original 1930s excavation has revealed how: Sassanid sappers digging tunnels under the fort were ready for Roman counterminers tunneling to thwart them from above--when the Romans broke into the Persian tunnels, readied braziers of pitch and sulfur were lit. The resultant rising cloud of sulfur dioxide gas overcame the Roman legionnaires trapped in the dark and congested space in seconds.

This earliest evidentiary use of chemical warfare was not without the consequence that has made it anathema to civilized soldiery throughout subsequent history, however: collateral damage. Along with the bodies of some twenty Roman soldiers excavated in the tunnels were remains of a single Persian soldier...probably the sapper who had set the braziers afire, but miscalculated his escape time and been overcome in the tunnel darkness by his own deadly chemical trap...

•Source: Samir S. Patel, 'Archeology' Jan/Feb 2010, page 26, Archeological Institute of America