An Aeldari New Year: 40K After Y2K

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I’ve had the Warhammer 40K monkey off my back for the most part of the last three years, being stationed here in Japan where I had no one to play with. And no time to mess with it.

But now that I’m counting down the days left here (about 17 right now, if you’re keeping track), I decided to bust some nerd kits back out. Actually, I just want to use some expensive Citadel-brand spray paints before I move, ‘cuz you can’t take them with you. Literally, you can’t ship potentially explosive cans of spray paint. I inherited some from another guy who couldn’t take them either, and now I face the same situation. Use ’em or lose ’em.

So I’m using them, trying to put together some models I’ve literally had for YEARS and get a nice base coat of paint on them. The only army I brought with me was my Eldar, thinking that in three years I’d get the whole bunch of them painted. That didn’t happen. Too many higher priorities. But I’m getting some done now. And here’s what I got so far.

Above is another of my custom made Dark Reapers. I used mostly Dark Eldar kits with a fantasy Dark Elf head wearing a skull-faced mask. This young lady fills out a squad of five.

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Continuing my use of Dark Eldar as Craftworld badasses, these are three of what will be six “Shining Spear” aspect bikers. My fluff is that they are Samm Hain Wild Riders with an array of vicious, super-charged weaponry.  The faster they fly, the more kinetic energy their whips, flails, and swords charge up.

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Here are some more of the staple of any good Eldar force, my Dire Avengers. I love me some aspect warriors, and these guys are the noble warriors incarnate. (I don’t bother with Guardians anymore.)

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I don’t mix Dark Eldar parts with these guys. Well, okay, I did throw a head in there. Once painted, I plan to lay his helmet at his feet. I do try to make some unique characters out of some among the squad, even though they’re all alike on the stats.

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I had extra parts for one more model, so I made this guy. He could be another avenger exarch (which I have plenty of), or even an autarch. Though with so many, far cooler HQ choices, why on earth would I take one of those?!  (Unless it’s to get a biker character. I have done that in the past and enjoyed using him.) For this model, I was also experimenting with a ninja kung-fu pose. Turned out okay.

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And finally, one of my favorite Phoenix Lords, though I don’t use him very often: Asurmen, first of the Dire Avengers. This is a classic DA exarch model I’ve had since the 90s. I just add a the catapult bracer to his sword arm and replaced his pointy arm with a new plastic one.

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Asurmen deserves a cooler model, but this will do just fine. He’s bigger and more intimidating than the rest. I’ve never seen one of the official Asurmen models up close, but the pictures just look too bulky and clumsy.

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And, by the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

Personally, I’ll be working night shifts on the 31st, 1st, and 2nd. Sucks,eh?

But those are MY LAST SHIFTS. EVER. I start checking out of here next week, then back to the States mid-month. So I’ll take the holiday hit with a smile. 🙂

Okay, 5am here, gotta get to bed! Nighty-night, 2017!

 

 

 

 

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Fuegan: Eldar Phoenix Lord of Fire Dragons

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Monday was my birthday and I made a resolution for the day: “I will square off a time slot to paint and finish Fuegan’s cape!” And that’s what I did.

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I had some idea in mind when I set about to paint it, but it evolved with each color added. I started with shades of green and imagined some blue on the back but was reluctant to try it. But as I mixed greens and blues and layered stuff (not intending to layer, just to find the right color that suited my mind’s eye), I realized that I did indeed have to use that brilliant electric blue!  And I really like how it came out. I then hit the edges with a lighter green and that really punched it up! Really happy with it.

I then hit the eyes again and watered down some green for the sword, mostly to tie all those greens together. If I had a green cloak on his back, I needed some other point of green at another angle somewhere to bring it full circle.

So my “Black Phoenix” fire dragon lord is not armed with the “Fire Axe” but the “Dragon’s Talon,” a sword that smolders with the heat of emerald plasma and cuts through everything it touches, yes, “like a hot knife through butter!”

So then I got camera happy again…

Here’s “The Prom King and Queen.”

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I call this one “The Color Purple” or “The Prom King and Queen (with Chaperone).”

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And here’s the whole gang, all themed together, “The King and His Court.”

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I also have a warlock I’d like to knock out that was a former dragon with the same color scheme. I think I could get him done pretty quickly, but I doubt that’s going to happen tonight. I’m also inspired to experiment with Howling Banshees but with all the stuff I have to do, I don’t think I’ll be doing any more painting until after the epic move in January. (Except maybe assembling some models and spray basing them, since I can’t take these expensive spray paints I inherited with me.)

40K Eldar Fire Dragons: Finished Up Painting the Squad

After starting them in July, I finally wrapped up my “Black Phoenix” Aeldari Fire Dragons.  And I’m pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out!

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This probably doesn’t look like 3 months of work.  Because it isn’t.  I stuck to a very basic concept: base colors, wash, highlight, DONE.  And I decided not to get bogged down in the fine details, like painting every little gadget on their belts a different color or whatever.  Kept it simple.  It just took forever because I went weeks between painting sessions.  Still spent plenty of hours on them, but as I did a whole squad, one color at a time, I made pretty good progress.

Still didn’t master dry brushing, which I seem to think would make all this way easier, but hitting the highlights very deliberately instead still worked out well.

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I also considered trying to lay some green plasma looking stuff into the grills of their fusion gun muzzles to match their eyes and give the guns a cool look.  (And tie in another color to bring them together.)  It’s still tempting to try, but I’m also afraid of screwing them up in the process…  (What do you think???)

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It’s funny that they’re done now, because I swam laps yesterday and had a flashback to 2009 or 2010 when I used to think about “How am I going to paint those fire dragons?” to keep my mind occupied while I swam.  And now, like 8 years (!) later, they’re done!  (Actually, I don’t think I had my “dark” aspect warriors built then—it was classic Eldar dragon models at that time.)

Almost finished with my custom Fuegan.  I hollowed out a cloak for him that I have to paint and attach.  His sword I might just keep simple too rather than try to pull off some great magical effect that doesn’t turn out how I want.  We’ll see.

 

Compare and Contrast: 40K Eldar and Painting Theory

After a couple days of 13-hour shifts, I was able today to get back to painting a bit.  It was a beautiful day outside as summer slowly transitions to fall, so I sat out in the backyard and did a little more work on my fire dragons.

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Today I mostly accomplished my yellow highlights.  I ended up mixing two colors together: the fresh new but somewhat brown yellow I have, and the ancient and dried up, but nice and bright yellow I’ve had for years.  So I started out with some water and a toothpick, mixing and mixing a hunk of that old stuff to revitalize it, then mixed it with a little of the base color I used on the helmets and knee pads already.  What you see is the model with a red and yellow base washed with a crimson wash, then the highlights hit one at a time with meticulous, tiny brush strokes.

And I like the way those highlights turned out. They stand out from a distance and make the models pop.

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The guy with the sword will eventually be my customized Fuegan, Phoenix Lord of the Fire Dragons.  Not sure what I want to do with the sword yet.  Thinking of making the blade white and then either some kind of fiery orange glow or maybe even green to go with their eyes.  Instead of the “Fire Ax” it can be the “Dragon’s Claw” (or something like that).  I’m also going to do some white drybrushing over his bony helm and make a dragon hide cloak from fantasy Dark Elf models.  (Oh boy, oh boy!)  That might be green too, so maybe a contrasting blue for the sword blade…?

After applying all the yellows, I started to work my way to the next step of highlighting, but was quickly burning out.  It is a more meticulous effort, after all, and I’d done it for 6 models.  So I was tiring rather quickly now.

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Here you see my female dragon.  She alone has a purple helmet with hair, rather than yellow with bladed fins, so I went ahead and did her purple highlights.  I just mixed the same purple I used as the base color (which was then hit with a blue wash) with a little white.  The brush strokes seemed big to me at first but I think they turned out well.  I especially like this model because she comes out as very much an individual.  All of the squad members are unique, no two heads quite alike.  The female also has a pistol and grenade because I ran out of blaster rifles.  Which is fine—just makes her stand out even more!

Then I went ahead and tried to highlight the red armor.  I had two options: one a lighter but very dynamic red, the other a very orange shade of red with a strong contrast against the washed red armor.  Here you see the results.

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I think he turned out a bit too orange for me.  I envisioned a darker red and yellow combo.  Not really digging the bright orange look.  Might be too much of a contrast with the red underneath.

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So then, after I had already put everything away and dumped my water cup, having decided I was not happy with the orange, I decided to try the other red.  And it doesn’t stand out very well, but I think I like it better.  Thor and I were just commenting that a strong contrast is good on the table, especially if you want models so small to stand out on the tabletop, but…  I think the orange is too much.

What do you think???

The Joy of Painting… Eldar Fire Dragons

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Or is it “Aeldari” now?  I don’t know what that’s about.  (But if I had to guess, I’d say establishing intellectual property rights).

I have been working on these guys off and on since July.  So, mostly “off” I guess.

Today I sat down and spent 2.5 hours on them, and really wanted to keep going.  IT WAS SO DAMN RELAXING.  I had forgotten “the joy of painting.”  With all the stuff going on in my life right now, lots of preparations all just poised to hold for months on end, it was just a huge relief to sit and paint again.  I can’t express how nice that felt.

And on a beautiful day like today, I prefer to sit outside in the shade and do it.  Just being outside is therapeutic for me too.

I prefer the natural light to paint by, too, though it isn’t doing wonders for this photo…  Can’t tell, but that female to the far left has a purple helmet.  (It’ll look better when she’s all done.)

They are coming along nicely, though.  I’m trying something different, something I’ve been talking about but not practicing for a while now.  SIMPLICITY.  I’m intentionally forcing myself NOT to go into the minute details on these guys.  That tiny little thing on their belts?  It doesn’t need to be a different color, no one is going to notice it anyway.  Just leave it and keep painting!

So my plan has been to throw on the base colors (and keep that to just 2 or 3), touch those up nice to get the smooth edges and everything, then wash and highlight and be done!  I’m also striving to be less subtle than I have been with my painting over the past 30+ years.  I’m usually very subtle with my colors and differences, thinking it more realistic.  But the truth is, realistic or not, it makes for some less-than-dynamic looking models.  So I need sharper colors and more contrast.  On these guys, that’ll be more apparent once the highlighting is done.  I’m going to attempt to drybrush most of those brighter edges on, but I’m not very practiced at that technique.  Wish me luck.

In these pictures now, all the base colors and washing is pretty much done.  Now I just have to highlight.  Since I have to work all weekend, this might get done Monday or Tuesday…  And I might even be getting holiday credit on Wednesday (like the 4th of July or Labor Day, now long past), so maybe Wednesday too!

These might not look like your run-of-the-mill Fire Dragons.  I built these guys out of Dark Eldar Warrior parts, mostly, and slavaged as many blasters as I could for fusion weapons.  They look WAY more like thorny dragons than the traditional aspect models.  In fact, I’ve made a lot of my aspect warriors out of Dark Eldar models—cuz the DE are BADASS and the traditional Craft Worlder models are sleek and graceful…  and boring.  I want my craft world to be a rough and tumble place.  My “Black Phoenix” Eldar have been through the ringer and it shows.  My dragons, swooping hawks, dark reapers, warp spiders, and lancers (the jetbike aspect…  Can’t think of what they’re called, probably becuz the models are so lame) are all going to be DE models, and therefore look a lot fiercer on the battle field.  I guess the only ones I like are the dire avengers (and as much as I love those guys, they always let me down on performance), scorpions (who never let me down!), and banshees.  And I’ve considered making my own banshees, too.  Wyches with the right heads might work well…  (Except for being half naked.)

Actually, I saw some of the new fantasy Wych Elves and they are dynamic as hell.  If I could get some masked heads they would look really cool charging down the field.

So I hope to be finishing this squad soon (not used to painting a squad at a time either, one color at a time, but it’s been fun), and then move on to more models.  I have made this b=hobby a low priority for the last few years, but really, had I realized what a stress reliever it is, I wouldn’t have marginalized it as I have.

Going forward, this will be a higher priority for me.  It’s healthy, damn it! 🙂

More next week!

Rejoining a Galaxy at War: New 8th Edition Warhammer 40K

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A few more words on my quest to rejoin the 40K Collective.

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I have converted the storage shed in the back yard into a painting studio.  At least a spray painting studio.  My buddy Ross left me some nice Citadel spray paints that he couldn’t take in the move, and I’m finally getting around to using them.

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Here in this tray are the first recipients: my custom made Eldar Fire Dragons, made from the awesome Dark Eldar Warrior kits and other bits.  I always thought the thorny DE Warriors looked way more dragon-like than the smooth, elegant craftworld carapaces.  I’ll have more on these guys when the unit is finished and painted.

Last week, I bought the 8th ed rule book and 3 Indexes: Marines, Chaos, and Xenos 1, which is all flavors of Eldar plus Necrons.  Every time I browse through one, I get excited and inspired for that army again.

My main marine force is Crimson Fists (naturally–they’re obviously the iconic best!) but I also bought a bunch of Space Wolf stuff last year and have a love for those burly, lusty, savages too.  And I’ve always had a little thing for Dark Angels, too, though not enough to win out over other armies.  Right now, I’m tending toward a small contingent of Dark Angels to take along with Fists or Wolves.

And as I believe in embracing whatever it is that makes that army that army, my unit choices are very flavor specific.  Just about every unit in the Space Wolf force is very wolfy, but I especially favor Thunderwolves, Murderfang, and all the awesome HQs.  And in this new 8th edition and its “power level” point system, there’s generally not much difference between generic heroes and the named characters; like 1 or 2 points, versus the old system of spending 150 for a kitted-out HQ instead of almost 300 for a named HQ.  So there’s little reason to make many of your own.  Just take the guys who are cool and fight, fight, fight!

For Dark Angels, I again favor the flavor: Ravenwing bikers mostly, plus DA chaplains, like Azmodai, the really slick DA jetfighter (aside from a chaos dragon, the only flyer I fancy), and the bone-armored Deathwing terminators.  I’d take a squad of green marines to fill the ranks and just go with a small ally-type detachment.

But I have so much shit already, I don’t see me investing in Dark Angels anytime soon.

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Though when I do, I’ll also use those models for Fallen in my Chaos army, along with a homemade Cypher.  He and his tricksy brethren are now in the Chaos index.  I’ve also always loved Huron Blackheart, along with most of the Chaos units, both traitorous and daemonic.  Chaos has endless combinations of cool and fun units, and I could play every weekend for a year and never field the exact same list twice.  Love my Chaos.

But my first 40K love was Eldar.  I started collecting them back when the Aspect Warriors were new in 1991, and they still shine as my fave 40K army.  So that’s where I’m headed right now.  And again, there aren’t many units I don’t like.  (Although my least fave approach is seer-heavy or wraith-heavy, which are both very popular builds.)  Aspect warriors are my bread and butter but my vision is a little darker than the traditional one.  Thus my “Black Phoenix” craftworld I started a few years ago, using mostly Dark Eldar models and kits to build custom guys.  I also love the speed and grace that the Eldar have moved toward in the last few codices, so I’m planning to be kind of jetbike-heavy too.  Oooooh, it’s going to be grand!

Grand, but slow going.  My “plan” (or “intention of a plan”) is to try and produce one completed, painted unit per month for the next six months.  It’s no way to crank out an entire army in short order, but it’s a good goal considering all my other commitments in life.  So we’ll see how that goes.

First up: my Black Phoenix Fire Dragons, including my own badass version of Feugan.

Stay tuned…

Warhammer 40K 8th Edition: Impressions

As I read through the new rules and my chosen armies’ datasheets, I plan to squawk about it a little bit.  Here’s some of my first impressions thus far:

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Games will likely go faster (like a red-painted war wagon).  Which is especially good for me, ‘cuz the games me and J would play took forever!  But the swiftness will come from the games being way simpler and all the extra rules being on your datasheets, thus eliminating the need to look up rules all the time.

They’ll also go faster because I think models will die faster, overall, despite the addition of more wounds on many of them.  Saves are no longer absolute valued, they are modified.  So the 2+ all but guaranteed save you’ve been counting on for your termies, Phoenix Lords, etc, is no longer rock solid.  Neither is the 66% chance on space marines or any other 3+ save.  Only invuln saves can’t be modified, and even they are no protection against “mortal wounds.” Most psychic powers and special circumstances, like being trapped inside a transport that blows up, deal mortal wounds, which you just take, no saves of any kind allowed.  Many weapons also do more than one wound, so even though your jet bikes and terminators may have 2 wounds now, they might still lose them both to one hit.

A note on shooting: we’re back to you picking your own casualties, which I always liked from 5th ed.  There was something to be said of the “cinematic approach” to first models in the line of fire dying first, but it forced heroes to lead from the back, which is a cowardly skaven thing.  When your guys die, you get to decide who dies, preserving your special weapons and coolest models and allowing the fodder to be the first to go.  Way more fun that way.

More killy stuff: There’s morale.  Models flee the board from failed checks.  Models flee.  The board.  You don’t take additional wounds that you then might get saves on, whole models disappear, no matter how many wounds they have.  And you don’t involuntarily fall back by inches.  Whatever the numeric difference from your check total versus your Leadership, that many models go bye-bye.  Narratively, I would prefer to think some of them left the battle to carry off the dead and wounded, or to rally reinforcements from reserve, rather than bolted from the fight.

The “to wounds” chart is simplified too.  Basic math comparisons dictate what you need to wound.  Is this weapon’s Strength less, equal, or more than the target’s Toughness?  Is it half or twice as much?  That’s all you need to know.  And everything can wound everything!  Even a laspistol might damage an open panel on a landraider’s flank if you roll a 6.  (Much more killy.)  But with the landraider’s high save and wound total, it’s still not going to bring it down with one shot.  (More on that below.)

I’m not saying any of this is bad, I’m just saying models will go faster now.  Which is all well and good.  If you get a game done in short order, then maybe you can get two in on one afternoon!  More fun!

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Unit Types, Vehicles, and Realistic Freedom

Another big difference (and also related to model death) is that there are no unit types anymore.  Everyone plays by the same rules.  Unit types are been replaced by keywords, so certain effects still apply to “the type of unit” a model is, but they don’t have their own sets of rules.  Vehicles now have Toughness, Saves, Wounds, and can even attack in melee combat!  I was weary of how well this would work initially, and haven’t been able to test it out yet, but it sounds grand!

First let’s look at what this really means: that it frees everyone up to do everything!

There are no more Independent Character rules.  Character hero models running solo do not “join” units, and therefore do not have their influence and lives bound to that one unit.  The biggest reason for “joining” before was to keep your hero from getting shot to hell all by himself.  Safety in numbers, hide in the crowd.  Now a “Character” (keyword) can only be specifically targeted if he’s the closest model to the shooter, or if he’s so big as to be an obvious target (designated by having 10 wounds or more).  (He can also be picked out by snipers, if the sniper datasheets say so.)  So they can be in very close proximity to a unit, or multiple units, without having to turn their backs on others to benefit just one.

While we’re on that subject, there is also no more “locked in combat.”  All the effects are kind of still there: you can’t target a unit that is within an inch of the enemy (presumingly fighting) because you might hit them; units so close can only fire pistols at that range, no other guns; they can’t declare a charge against anyone else, etc.  But they are not “locked,” per se.  They can freely decide to fall back, if they wish.

Another aspect of this freedom is that entire units of guys don’t all have to shoot at the same target.  Which is more logical and realistic, right?  The missile launcher can target the flying tank that’s rumbling airborne at extreme range while his buds all shoot the more immediate infantry on the ground.  Why wouldn’t the most elite fighters in the galaxy be able to split their fire?

Also, if you wield multiple weapons, you can use them.  All of them.  Split up your attacks in melee and shoot two-fisted.  A guy with two pistols can fire them both like the badass cowboy mutha he is.  Again, silly rules get out of the way for obvious combat fun.

So generally, models do not become artificially locked into modes—firing as a group, stuck fighting one group, stuck supporting one group—but instead are free to act like real people would.

I was supposed to be talking about unit types, right?  So again, no more classifications defining units by certain, separate rules to remember.  Everyone is the same type of unit with different descriptors, though some special rules tend to apply to common descriptors.

“Fly.”  What we’ve known as Flyers no longer inhabit their own celestial realm of hoity-toitiness either.  Full-blown flyers are still harder to hit from the ground, but this is the universal -1 modifier (like cover and firing heavies when moving and assault weapons while running).  They have minimum move ranges but now disappear from the battle if they leave the field.  And they have an advantage shooting at the slow, vulnerable targets on the ground, and can fire all their weapons even if they advance (run).  So, okay, there are some special shooty rules with them.  But after that, they function like everyone else.

And the keyword “fly” isn’t just for them.  Jet bikes, jump infantry, hover tanks—they all fly!  Which means they can all move over models and terrain and, more importantly, they can all shoot at and even assault other flying units!  Makes sense, don’t it?!  So your jet bikes and jump infantry can use the altitude that comes with their very nature to fly up and attack a flyer as it goes by.  The shackles of gravity discrimination by “unit type” are taken off!  Only makes sense.

Another huge change is that Vehicles are no longer their own thing either.  As I said, they all share the same stat line.  They just have higher Toughness, a great Save, and much more Wounds than a walky-talky-fleshy guy.

One of my biggest complaints of 6th and 7th edition was Hull Points.  In 5th, my dreadnought could take several Tau missile hits and, thanks to some dice, only be “shaken.”  My tanks could take great abuse, as they should, and might last the entire battle.  With the addition of Hull Points, three glancing shots that didn’t even penetrate my armor caused my dreadnought to roll over and die.  And with the vehicle damage chart, my mighty Chaos Crab Monster would make threatening gestures with his massive claws from the deployment zone, then get hit by a single krak missile and blow up in a fabulous display of shittiness, possibly taking a few more of my chaos marines with him.

No more.  No more glancing to death.  No more one-shot explosions (unless the weapon just does that much damage to your light assault crafts).  Now, you wound a vehicle’s 7 or 8 Toughness, it makes armor Saves and takes Wounds.  Most (if not all) vehicles, once reduced to 0 Wounds, still have a chance to explode.  Roll a die; on a 6, it blows up.  Simple, cinematic, fun, and fair.  And a lot less likely to deprive you of your proudest, toughest models on Turn One.

Some vehicles and monstrous creatures also reduce in effectiveness as they take damage.  This is another Age of Sigmar innovation that I wasn’t too sure about, but now that I see it, makes way more sense.  As a landraider or carnifex takes damage, its effectiveness in battle wanes.  So instead of an immobilized or weapon lost vehicle damage result, it just slows down and can’t shoot as accurately.

Unit equality (if I may be so liberal) is the same across the board.  No more Jump Troops vs Jet Pack Troops, Cavalry vs Beasts, Artillery vs Chariots, Monsters vs Infantry.  Basic tenants rule for everyone.  Your stats and datasheets tell you all the now-integrated rules that apply.  You have a jet bike?  Your Move shows it, along with a turboboost Ability and the keyword “fly”.  Period.  Done.

It’s nice.