Welcome to Conflict Valorax, an open-ended narrative campaign for Warhammer 40,000 set deep within the Ultima Segmentum on the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy and close to the limit of mankind’s domain. The purpose of this campaign narrative is to richly detail the setting and history of the Valorax star system in order to bring a depth and storyline to ongoing games set within the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Games of Warhammer 40,000, Epic, Inquisitor, Aeronautica Imperialis, Space Crusade, Space Hulk and Battlefleet Gothic are all set within this greater context, each conflict adding detail to the ongoing plot.

Friday, 27 May 2011

On the Painting Table: Honoured Imperium

Last year I lost my job and in a difficult financial and troubling time my good friend Joao stepped up to bat to prove he was a good buddy. And he bought me the Honoured Imperium boxed set to cheer me up.

Well I guess things happen and you don't always get round to things one way or another; but one day you do and this particular blog is a big thank you to my good friend.

These two scenery pieces are pretty cool. I remember seeing the Aquilla (below) before it came out in a White Dwarf or somewhere and thinking it was just plain amazing!

It's nice to add an extra bit of coolness to the gaming table and hopefully these will do that.

The statue was actually painted the same colour-scheme as my Imperial Guard Chalice Tridents: Graveyard Earth, Kommando Khaki and then Bleached Bone. It's a more benign way of doing cream-coloured stone than my old method: Bestial Brown followed by Bleached Brown: the goal with anything like that being a slow progression of similar colours rather than a big jump from one to another.

The Aquilla is the usual range of greys from Astronomicon to Fortress via Codex.

Notice the yellow tinge though. That's the wonderful Bubonic Brown - perfect for that touch of weathering.

They were a long time coming but I'm glad they're here.

Thanks buddy.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Witch Hunters Tactica Part Two: Acts of Faith

Acts of Faith are one of those rules that it's easy to forget. I've used Sisters of Battle in games loads of times and the number of times I've actually remembered to use these things is rather less numerous.

Top tip here: Get some large colourful counters to represent your Faith Points and keep them in front of you during the game. 

 As you know, certain units grant and can use Faith Points: Heroines, Celestians, Battle Sisters with a Veteran Superior and Seraphims. Certain Acts of Faith are easier to perform with smaller squads and some with larger squads.

Now all of the squads mentioned above come in variable sizes and the key thing here is to bear Faith in mind when choosing how big you want your squads to be. A size-10 Battle Sister squad has various benefits and pitfalls in the game anyway compared to a size-20 one but this adds another level to that.

If your pre-game strategy involves use of a certain Act of Faith that requires you to roll under the squad size then it's worth going for the larger squad.

Remember: using an Act of Faith uses up a Faith Point but you get Faith Points back if the unit that gave you them expires.

And also remember, it's better to use your Faith Points than waste them. Get into the habit of using them and try to predict when to use them based on how long you expect your Faithful squads to survive. If a squad's about to get wiped out anyway, use an Act of Faith, even if it isn't otherwise an ideal time.

Let's look at each Act of Faith in turn:

Hand of the Emperor
(Roll under the number of models)

Grants: +2 Strength but Initiative 1

Notes: The larger squad size, the better here giving greater chance of success and more benefit as more models get the bonus.

+2 Strength is okay, depending on your opponent, though an Armour Penetration bonus would have been nice. I tend to think keeping Battle Sisters out of combat is the way to go but once it inevitably happens, this is a nice Act to push the combat their way. Bear in mind though that Initiative 1 means that casualties you've taken won't get a chance to fight, however at Initiative 3, Battle Sisters tend to strike simultaneously or last anyway.

Use: In most assaults

Divine Guidance
(Shooting or Assault)
(Roll under the number of models)

Grants: On wound rolls of 6 gives AP1 for shooting or Power Weapon attacks in close combat

Notes: Again, the larger the squad size, the more likely it'll work and the greater the bonus.

This one's a bit hit and miss as it isn't a guaranteed bonus but against heavy infantry like Terminators AP1 is definitely nice. I can't be bothered to work out which is statistically more useful in combat, this or Hand of the Emperor. Certainly ignoring armour saves is better than +2 Strength against Terminators or the like but only getting it on a wound roll of 6 is a bit of a bummer. Having said that, when striking Toughness 4 opponents (wounding on a 5+), that makes the chance of this working 50/50 if you wound them at all.

Use: When shooting at or assaulting heavy infantry

The Passion
(Roll over the number of models)

Grants: +2 to Initiative

Notes: Now I don't see any of the Faithful Sisters of Battle units as close combat orientated but striking first is a definite bonus as it stops dead enemy models striking back. I see this Act as more of a desperate measure than Hand of the Emperor but part of the trick here is judging which is more likely to work based on your unit size. If the average roll on 2d6 is 7, that's what you've got to consider, generally playing it safe on the likelihood of which effect will work.

Obviously only use any of these Acts of Faith if they're going to give you a benefit against the specific enemy unit.

Use: In assault when number in unit makes Hand of the Emperor or The Passion unlikely to work

Light of the Emperor
(Morale Bonus)
(Roll over the number of models)

Grants: Fearless for one game turn

Notes: Well... Fearless has its own bad side effects (extra models dying if you lose the combat) so I would personally be more inclined not to use this Act, in favour of the more destructive ones. Having said that it is very useful for bringing a fleeing squad back, especially if they have fallen below half strength.

Bear in mind that your squad size is likely to be six or less if this Act is working so you're in trouble any way you look at it.

Use: For rallying understrength squads and keeping squads in combat as a tar pit unit.

Spirit of the Martyr
(Roll over the number of models)

Grants: Invulnerable 3+ armour save

Notes: A normal 3+ armour save is amazing already so you'll only need this if coming under fire from Lascannons, Battle Cannons, Plasmaguns and the like. And also bear in mind that cover generally gives you a 4+ invulnerable anyway. Your 3+ armour save is your most precious possession. This Act of Faith helps keep hold of it.

Bear in mind that at the squad size where this Act is likely to work, staying alive is pretty critical - especially if this particular squad's survival is important for holding an objective or achieving some other goal.

Use: In combat against lots of Power Weapon or Rending attacks or likely to come under fire from armour piercing weapons if expecting heavy losses and the Faith Points won't be more useful later.

Overall Conclusion

  1. Know what you want your squads to achieve pre-game and roughly plan use of Faith Points beforehand.
  2. Plan squad sizes around your planned Acts of Faith.
  3. Look to the squad size before rolling the dice. Is it greater or lower than 7?
  4. It's better to use a Faith Point for a quite good reason than never use it.
  5. Remember to regain Faith Points when units die and use them while you still have time.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

To Cut Off The Head: Part One - A Dark Light in the Sky

Inquisition vs Valorax Guard | Gill v Tim | 40k | 53 | 109.997.M41

Planetary Governor Ivan Chord felt his feet leave the ground as the explosion hit, tossing him up and back at sixty degrees.
Where he’d been standing, the floor cracked and flame licked through but he was still being hurled backwards. The backs of his legs struck something – one of his aides – and he tumbled, revolving: head going down; legs going up. Until a secondary explosion hit and he flew suddenly sideways, changing direction in mid blast. Except this time he caught a twirling glimpse of his secretary, screaming as she caught the brunt of the blast instead of him.
This must have been what it was like for the normal people, he thought, when I ordered the Immolation.
... the all-encompassing planetary bombardment that had ended the Manticore War against the Tyranids at a terrible terrible cost in lives.
He hit the wall, cracking the plaster and that thought was gone in a pinpoint of agony. Momentary weightlessness; and then he hit the buckled floor on his shoulders, barely avoiding a broken neck.

He lay there, sprawled across something some uneven bulk, gasping; winded. The internal lights were out. Smoke was everywhere. Burning wood; scorched metal; blistering flesh. And wind. He bent at the waist, twisting his body so he could get to hands and knees.
The wall was gone. Fully one third of the building was gone, ripped away in the detonation of whatever had struck. And then he saw what had saved him: his secretary’s body, broken and torn on the floor beneath him.
She used to chatter about her son; a toddler. She used to smile and laugh. But damn him, he couldn’t remember the name of that son now. His mind was a whirlwind of tactical responses and assessments of threat level. However he still didn’t even know what he was up against.
Until he looked out across the cityscape of Qualitat, Valorax’s capital city, and saw what was coming.

White armoured transports and tanks and in the shadows of the ruined and smoking buildings all around: white armoured figures, lithe but stalwart. Red cloaks; bolters and dark bobbed hair. The Adepta Sororitas. Sisters of Battle.
Ivan Chord cursed and got to his feet as the remains of his bodyguard kicked open the burning door and ran to give him aid.
There, don below, striding through the ruins on pistoned legs, supported in the lumbering but entirely potent Throne of Judgment, was Inquisitor Lord Karamazov.
They hadn’t even announced their secession from the Imperium – they’d done precious little to work toward it in the midst of re-escalating conflict with the invading xenos – but the Inquisition had known and here they were to deal with it.
“Well it had to happen sometime,” he murmured, smiling grimly.
“Sir we have to get you out of here!”
Chord focused on the officer. “What’s the evac route?”
“We have a Vendetta gunship on the landing pad at the rear of the building that didn’t get hit in the preliminary bombardment.”
“Then what are we waiting for?!?”

As Ivan Chord and his escorts ran for the faltering staircase, Valorax Guardsmen ran to take position in the ruins below and in flanking buildings. The bulk of their number had been wounded or killed in the Inquisition’s firestorm but there were enough at least to mount a delaying action.
Lasguns, grenade launchers, plasmaguns and meltaguns let rip against the approaching forces as two Leman Russ Battle Tanks rolled up to support them, taking out the lead transport of the Sisters of Battle. Arco Flagellants, boiling with holy rage, bounded down the street toward the line of guardsmen positioned to face them but, impervious as they were, they got whittle down to nothing before they could strike.
Ivan Chord and his bodyguard were down to the ground floor. The devastation was even worse there. This room had been a conference room for lower level officers. Now it was as if a broom had swept everything; furniture and people; into the corner in a grisly mass of broken flesh bone and metal. The sound of lasgun fire was deafening but they kept their heads down and kept running. All of these men here would die – there was absolutely no doubt about that – but the sacrifice had to be made, no matter how horrifying. Without him to lead them, the weakened planet would surely collapse before its myriad enemies. The war would be lost and all survivors would be purged.
But that didn’t mean Chord had to like it.

They ran out the back of the building, even as the Adepta Sororitas closed to bolter range at the front, unleashing torrents of explosive shells into the faltering guardsmen. They hadto get on board the Vendetta! Now!
They ran to the foot of the landing pad and Ivan Chord slammed his palm against the control panel to close the crenulations of the protective shield to protect the craft as they boarded. The machinery clicked and then whirred as it started to move.
Then no more than fifteen yards away, the air ruptured, whining as unnatural tears began to split it, and Ivan Chord’s throat clenched. There was a brief flicker, then a bright flash and out of the tiny warp explosion strode five grey knights, raising their arms and letting fly with Storm Bolter fire that ripped into Chord’s guardsmen, taking three of them down instantly.

His mind flicked to the report he’d read of what they’d named the Valorax Schism, the battle in the heavens with a Grey Knight battle cruiser to secure more troops to bring home. He had known they would come one day, but the combined assault with the Ordo Hereticus he had not anticipated and he had not prepared for.
There was only seconds left now to make his escape: climb up the ladder; get into the transport craft; fly away and hope not to get shot down.
But then the shield guard of the landing pad snapped into place, revealing sky above his head and there was a sudden cooling of the air.
Ivan Chord looked to the man beside him. He was shouting; screaming as more Storm Bolter fire ripped him in half; but no sound reached Chord’s ears. The din of approaching battle was completely blanked out.
The Grey Knights strode towards them, raking left and right with their fire but the shots made no sound.
There was light everywhere suddenly; all around him; centered on the spot where he stood.
All around him, his bodyguard were lying dead or wounded. But the Grey Knights were no longer approaching. They were lowering their gun arms. They were only watching as the light grew brighter and then brighter still.
Ivan Chord’s brow furrowed. The light was growing in intensity. For a moment he didn’t know what it meant.
And then he understood, and his thoughts went again to the Immolation, his order to wipe out the Tyranid threat from space, even at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives.
What had he said before he gave the order? What sound bite of trivial nonsense had he given to both immortalise and trivialise that horrific but necessary loss?
Oh yes.
“I ask you once again to give your lives so that others may survive; to die alongside the foul xenos filth that corrupts our world so that we can at last be free of it.”
He whispered those words now, appreciating the irony, as the ship-to-ship lance on the Inquisition’s gunship speared down and incinerated him in white fire.
The impact burst out across the watching Grey Knights but they did not move.
The Planetary Governor was dead.
The impact of this would be far reaching and devastating.
But the war was still only just beginning...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Witch Hunters Tactica Part One: Inquisitor Lord Karamazov

Inquisitor Lord Karamazov is an amazing character. He’s got one of the coolest back-stories of any character in Warhammer 40,000 (it’s hilarious), and he’s also a particularly nice (if expensive) model. In fact Karamazov’s history and personality perfectly represents the crazy darkness of the forty first millennium. This is a completely uncompromising chap who makes life hell for all around him, all in the name of a greater good that will never come.
He is funny in so many different ways, chief of which being what a great target he would make sitting on this throne waddling into the middle of a battlefield. But what the heck! It doesn’t matter: he is pure coolness.
Now Karamazov is a very powerful figure but he’s also a big target (which can be a bonus in itself: drawing fire away from other units). With his move and shoot Multi-Melta, he can pick out vehicles and heavy infantry as he approaches his close combat target. He hits and wounds on a 2+ against most enemies with AP1 so he’s perfect for taking out just about anything: just point and they’re pretty much dead.

But he’s also great in close combat: rerolling one miss per turn, wounding most things on 2+ and ignoring armour saves. He can do a lot of damage, and with his four wounds, 2+ save and Rosarius 4+ Invulnerable, he can take it on the chin without flinching.
If you have close combat units then they should be close to this guy. He’s good, but added support will get him chewing through enemy units that bit quicker; and close by units benefit from rerolls of morale and pinning tests as well as the +1 Attack once per game that his Inquisitorial Mandate provides.
This guy needs to be fighting tough opponents and taking a poke at vehicles but there’s something to be said for hanging back a little bit until the Multi-Melta has done everything it can. Once he has taken out priority targets then get stuck in there!

Friday, 20 May 2011

On the Painting Table: Grey Knights Dreadnought

Well I did a lot of talk the other day about being inspired to get back into 40k big time but you may be wondering what became of that as there hasn't been that much movement here so far to prove that I'm doing anything.

It's that damn decking I've been building! But things are about to change.

Meet my new Grey Knights Dreadnought. This guy has been waiting to be finished for at least a year and finally I've done it. Although to be honest, I did rip off a load of crappy extra bits I'd added to make him look more impressive. Stripped down and simple he looks a lot better and I'm very happy with him.

He's based on the Dreadnought that came in the latest boxed set and I had him kicking around but I want to have a push on my Inquisitorial forces so he got drafted across to the Grey Knights.

I used Boltgun metal, Black ink and then Boltgun Metal and Chainmail to paint him. The gold bits were Dwarf Bronze and then Shining Gold.

I'm in the process of rebasing and "normalising" my other Inquisitorial forces: Sisters of Battle and Grey Knights, so tune in soon and you'll get to see pictures of them too.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Where the Campaign Stands

Right! This took longer than I thought it would but here we see how the campaign stands at the moment.

These maps show the action currently taking place down the length of Valorax VIII's super-continent, Pariah.

My goal now is to take the conflict across Valorax to a much higher level, going from a series of minor incidents to all out kick-ass war. There are, for example, several factions who have yet to make their presence known in anything beyond a superficial capacity. It's time that they got involved BIG TIME!

Friday, 13 May 2011

On the Painting Table: Sisters of Battle Canoness

Man! How long has it taken me to paint this little lady?

Chuffing ages, I tell you! But here she is!

This model represnts The Saint, a spcial character of mine whose backjground as existed for over a year but has never before seen the tabletop.

Here it is:

Pilgrimage of The Saint

On the sun parched front steps of the Abbey of the Immolated Martyr, a young pregnant girl was found on the verge of death. The Abbey was built into the precipitous cliffs of the Lady Mount at the scorchmost tip of the Chalice with only scorched desert for a hundred miles in every direction leaving no indication of how the girl could have reached it.

Dying without a word of explanation giving birth to a girl child, the woman took her mystery with her to the grave and the sisters of the abbey took the baby on to raise her.

The girl was named Argent Rose and entered training to be a member of the Adepta Sororitas,  excelling at every required skill. On the morning of her final graduation however she announced that the Emperor had visited her in a dream and told her to walk the land until she came to a full understanding of his mission for her. She left the abbey on foot and set out with no provisions into the burning wastelands of the Hellgrove. Over the following years, Argent Rose walked the land, administering to the poor and needy, speaking with the people and learning all that she could about the ways of mankind.

She made her way up through the Chalice and into Lapitar, visiting Qualitat by sea before going on into Paelar and finally Kaltirey, making her way through the streets of the capital before heading out across the frozen plains further and further chillward until she reached the Abbey of the Cold Heart of the Emperor at the freeze. Here she paused only long enough to strap on her power armour and take up her holy bolter for leaving once more.

This time though, as she walked south, she no longer helped the meek, she hunted the wrongdoer, the mutant, the heretic... and she exterminated them. Years of extermination passed as she made her way back down toward the Lady Mount until when she finally arrived, her fame and notoriety had spread. Thousands of pilgrims and Adepta Sororitas were waiting for her and proclaimed her The Saint.

She spurned this title but proclaimed that the Emperor had chosen her for a new task now that she had proven her worth. Taking hundreds of battle sisters with her to the stars, she began a Crusade of Immolation that continues to this day, taking her holy fury into the night.

The Path of The Saint became a huge lure for pilgrims from across the sector and the already strong Ecclesiarchal presence became even stronger, Sisters of Battle guarding the many shrines erected along the route of the Path.

Monday, 9 May 2011

New Momentum

Followers of Conflict Valorax may have noticed that for a website dedicated to following an ongoing narrative campaign in the bleak darkness of the forty first millennium, there has been precious little development in the campaign. Closer friends may have noticed that model showcases have tended to be of older models painted years ago rather than new projects I’m churning out. Well the reason for this is that for the past year I’ve been rather obsessed with Warhammer Fantasy primarily, with 40k very much on the back burner. I have a healthy network of Fantasy-playing friends and I’ve been caught up in the development of my Warhammer blog, Last Chance War.
Well hopefully this is about to change as I’m getting the tingles that mean my interest in 40k is returning.
So first things first, I want to review the current state of war across the planet Valorax VIII; take stock and really get a feel for where the campaign currently stands – prior to catapulting it forward hopefully.
So let’s recap the situation: Valorax VIII is a planet that has recently barely survived invasion by Tyranid Hive Fleet Manticore, a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken. The Tyranids were defeated on the whole but at a terrible cost to the military might and infrastructure of this once prosperous planet.

Because the Imperium at large refused to send aid in this very loyal planet’s hour of need, the population and government are quite rightly a little peeved and now there is some talk behind closed doors of becoming a separatist system, breaking away from the Imperium and telling them where to stick it.
But the planet is still very vulnerable and various alien races have already made landfall in the hopes of taking what they want:
  • The Ork war band, the Shaggin’ Dogz, have invaded and apparently seek only battle for battle’s sake, but may have an ulterior motive as well.
  • The Chaos Space Marines known as the Good People have come to take control of four powerful magical portals, each one capable of granting them dominion over vast daemonic hordes.
  • The Tau are on a mission of vengeance against the Good People but they also wish to absorb Valorax into their own domain and continue to make strikes against strategic targets.
  • The Necrons have risen from their hidden tomb complex in the frozen wastes of The Chill and march toward more populated climes to decimate all life they find.
  • Hidden in their jungle hellhole, the Tyranids are not completely defeated and continue to grow in strength, regenerating their strength for another attack against mankind.
  • After making various hit and run attacks, the Eldar are on the verge of a large scale invasion of the capital city.
  • The Dark Eldar, their diabolical cousins, have arrived on Valorax, but their mission too, remains, as yet, a mystery.
  • Meanwhile, the lost Space Marine chapter, the Crimson Blades, have returned to Valorax after one hundred years of exile to rebuild their power base and having recaptured their fortress, they are now striking out at the foul xenos invaders.

But this is far from all...
As various factions of the Valorax Guard battle against their enemies, other forces of the Imperium make their presence known:
  • The Witchhunters of the Ordo Hereticus are in-system, investigating heresy wherever they find it and though their principle target is the Crimson Blades, it cannot be long before they turn their gaze on the planetary government.
  • The Grey Knights have been attacked in space by the Valorax-loyal Battlefleet Carrion. They too will seek answers at the end of a blade.
  • And the Adeptus Mechanicus are building up a vast stockpile of arms in secret for some mysterious but unrevealed purpose.
With one faction yet to be revealed, Valorax is already at boiling point as secluded battles edge closer to full scale war!
So that’s the situation as it stands.
In my next post we’ll look at the situation on the ground, at the conflicts that are raging, and how they fit into the greater environment of the planet Valorax.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Painting Space Marines: A Change in Philosophy

Periodically I go through each of my armies, repainting the whole army and upping the quality, and I must say, my Space Marines are past due for theirs. As a matter of fact, the army really does need a bit of an overhaul.

One problem I'm facing at the moment, is that I'm more into Fantasy, with 40k coming up a lot further down the list, hence why I post a lot more frequently on my Warhammer fantasy site, Last Chance War. Having said that I have been giving a little bit of thought to colour schemes for my own Space Marine Chapter: The Crimson Blades.

Historically I always painted them Blood Red then gave them a gloss varnish (apart from some black shoulder pads and gold bits). This of course violates my number two rule when it comes to painting: ALWAYS USE AT LEAST TWO SHADES OF EACH COLOURS - PREFERABLY THREE.

I've been wanting to dull down my marines and make them look a bit more real and professional, without changing the basic colour scheme. I'm not turning cartwheels over the red gold and black but I'm a bit nostalgic about it and they ARE called the Crimson Blades.

Check these out.

Apart from being annoyingly blurred, you'll see the one on the left is painted using my old method. Now this isn't an old miniature I just carried on using my slightly amateurish method with my marines even after I'd graduated to better things with other armies.

The on on the right is from my Dinosaur Space Marine army. Same principles really but at least I made a bit of effort on the weathering. My old style base (which doesn't match the war board completes the picture to tell us something needs to be done.

These two guys are prototypes of my more recent aspirations.

They aren't finished but you'll see I'm using a range of reds to get the look I'm going for... which I feel I haven't quite mastered yet. What I want to achieve is to have a pretty extreme overhead lighting effect, with the upper levels red and the lower parts very much in shadow.

The one on the left was done with the whole thing getting a dark red coat to start. The right one still has l=plenty of black in the lower areas.

It's one of these funny things where I'm really not sure. Neither model is getting me excited and without the excitement I tend not to get on with anything.

I think I'm going to need to think longer.

But watch this space. Things have to move forward sometime...