Saturday, June 7, 2014

Durgan: enter the dragon

This is the latest hybrid tank I've been messing with - we call it Durgan's Dragon.

Basically we wanted to try and make a form of JCB originally as a piece of scenery for our battles.  We decided to use an Academy 1/35 StuG IV model kit, we wanted really to make some form of "crane-tank".

We did fall in love with the model though, although the side armour just didn't work for us.  The instructions are a bit mystical in places, although when you're hybriding you tend to pick-and-choose anyway.

The back story for this was that this was a tank run by "the clean up crew".  They're basically scrap merchants who comb through the aftermath of a battle, looking for anything they can salvage.  They hang anything they thing has use off the back, and can even tow any semi-working vehicle with them.  But otherwise they keep a loose collection of bits off the back, with any trinkets kept inside.

I wanted to replace the turret with a crane, but (a) it seems impossible to buy a crane kit and (b) the gun just looks so cool!  We fitted the tank with some flamers, reasoning that if they came across any infantry, they'd want to just flame them out of the way.  But in the face of another tank, they'd want to run away.

With so much flame, the name Dragon seemed only appropriate, indeed there seemed an entire backstory to the salvager guy who ran that tank and made a living scouring battle sites ...

Meet Durgan ...

The name’s Durgan, and I hear you want to do a bit of business, and I might just be your man.  Oh, you want to know about me?  Well what’s to tell …

I grew up on the agri-world of Kenzel V on me parents farm.  There was an extended group of us, but we had to be pretty self-sufficient.  Never been much of the farming kind, but the machinery – now that had me interested.  The family tractor had a few quirks, so there was a lot to learn servicing it and keeping it running.  It was a good life, and I have a lot of fond memories, but it wasn’t to last.

It all ended when I was 10 and the sky turned black one afternoon near harvest … it’d come out of the blue.  We’d never heard of Tyranids before, it’s not a name now I’m soon to forget.  Before we knew it, spores were falling onto the farm.  They cracked open, and that yell they gave… before I knew it, all hell broke loose.  We were running to the stormshelter when the Valkeries from the nearby garrison came overhead.

Explosions rocked everywhere.  I was knocked unconscious with my family, but woke up an orphan.  Yeah, life has a way of being brutal alright.  I was pretty much an angry kid, couldn’t wait until I could enlist and get some revenge.  The Astro Militarium became a new family really – I was with the Kenzel Revengers.

I did well enough to become one of the elite Stormtroopers … well most of the time.  I had a habit of having issues with some of my commanders.  That would often mean me getting demoted temporarily.  One of my CO’s favourites would be to assign me Ogyrn babysitting duties.

A lot of people have a problem with Ogyrns, I’m not going to lie, they do stink.  But you get used to it, at least they don’t have their head up their ass like some people I know.  And they’re loyal – something you can’t say about many people.

Anyway, that’s where I first got to meet Kurr, he was the Bonehead commander of a group of an Ogryn unit.  To be honest, we didn’t get off to a great start.  He’d mainly just sneer and growl at me.

But life with the Kenzel Revengers all kind of fell apart at Sherbourne.  The world had been part of a monumental (and unsuccessful) battlefield against a great Ork Waaargh of the past, and the world was littered with Ork, Space Marine and Imperial Guard debris.  The Orks had defeated mankind thousands of years ago, and then moved on, but another Waaargh had return to pick up from the last one.

It was a brutal war – I was still on Ogyrn duty, but my Stormtrooper unit were misplaced on the battlefield by a junior officer who didn’t know his arse from his elbow.  They were placed in the centre of a Nobb unit from a Valkerie and jumped, being killed to a man.  I was the lucky one, if I’d not been subordinate I’d have been dead with them.  Even so, I only survived the battle by sheer luck.  That officer wasn’t done yet, spreading all us infantry units too far apart, and too far away to get support for our heavy armour.  The Chimera I was in with the Ogryns was hit by some burna boys.  We jumped out – they were led by a huge Ork Nobb, and I was glad to be next to some Ogryns that day.  Ogryns can be terrible and brutal, it makes you glad they’re on your side.  I tried to take out that Nobb with my hotshot lasgun, all I got was his attention.  As he charged me I was sure I was done for.  Then out of nowhere Kurr, stepped in front of me, holding his emptied ripper gun, and hitting the big Orks head repeatedly until the skull was smashed into the ground.  Yeah, that seemed to scare even some of the Orks.

But we were being overrun, there were just Orks everywhere, already Kurr was the only Ogryn left, the others having been injured in the melee.  I grabbed Kurr, and told him to fall back with me.  But from out of nowhere a Commissar appeared on top of the Chimera ordering us back into the fray.  I tried telling him we needed to regroup, we were going to be easily overrun here.  The idiot tried to get the drop on me and punish me as an example.  Sorry, but a Commisar is no match for a Stormtrooper, and I got the drop on him.  [I found out much later I didn’t finish him, and he’s out for revenge on me if he ever finds me]

We made it back to our command line, and it was chaos, everywhere was trying to evacuate.  I managed to get Kurr into the Valkerie, but we were hit soon after launch.  The pilot did his best, and he got us several hundred clicks away before we crashed.  We were at least well away from the battle, though only me, Kurr and the pilot survived the landing.  We were lucky though – we’d landed at the site of the previous Waaargh – lots of junk to hide in, lots to scavenge.

As a Stormtrooper this kind of survival had been part of out core training.  I found some old, thousand plus year old rations (which were still kind of edible).  I kept an eye on the sky – it was obvious at night that our fleet had pulled out.  We were here on our own, just me, Kurr and the pilor Mason.  They wouldn’t have lasted without me, or to be fair, me without them.

Mason was alright, a bit of a dick, who’d worked Imperial Navy and thought he was smarter than you because he was better read.  We tried to lay low – the wreckage field was the perfect place.  Occasionally a couple of the mech Orks came to see what they could salvage.  The trick was to hide in something that didn’t have much value.  If it was just the one, we got good at working as a team, Mason or me would run interference, and Kurr would sneak behind them and snap its neck.  Seems fights between the Orks were common, and it wasn’t unusual for two Orks to kill each other over junk/loot.

Eventually we decided we’d just have to make a move – there’d been a lot of activity, and Mason said it looked like the Orks were moving off.  That was good news for us, and a sign to get out of the debris field.  That’s where we found the Dragon, she was hidden in a nearby cave, though one of her treads were broken.  They must have never had a chance to fix it as they became overrun.

She was a tank unlike anything I’d ever seen – painted in Space Marine Salamanders colours.  The moment I saw her was love at first sight, I knew I had to have her.  She’d been there for thousands of years, but sheltered from the worst of it.  When it comes to it, most tanks engines in the Imperium are only a degree or two from a farm tractor.  The engine didn’t work, but even I could tell she was in good shape.  Some new leads, oil, spark plugs.  We were sitting on all the spares you could imagine ever needing, and in Kurr we had the muscle we needed to help get at those parts.  [Note – Ogyrn beats any winch or jack you’d ever need].

We got all the fuel we needed, and some besides, managing to also fill the flamer units on the tank.  Feeling a little braver we started to explore.  But Mason was right – the Orks had moved off.  Sherbourne it seems was always a stepping stone objective.  We ran into the occasional Orks, the ones who’d not quite made the call back to Waaargh, or maybe had pissed someone off.  We had to be constantly on our guard.  We made it back to the command post.  The Orks had looted a lot, but there were still things to take – rations (which were thankfully more recent), fuel, radios.  We tried making contact, but there seemed to be no-one out there.  The Imperial Guard had been beaten back, any stragglers massacred, and were now pursuing the Waaargh.

We were there four years.  We got good at sorting through the debris, finding things that were useful.  If we got bored, we tended to blow stuff up for a laugh.  We had ammunition coming out our arse, so it was worth it.  It was interesting, sometimes you found interesting trinkets, and added to your collection, some fuel here, spare treads and engine part here.

I managed to get my first bolt pistol.  In the Guard you’re told you’re given the most advanced weaponry in the Universe to stop the alien hoard and make him shake in fear at humanities might … and then they hand you a lasgun.  The hotshot lasguns we Stormtroopers had were a bit better, but basically when an Ork charges you, you’re unloading every shot you can at them, hoping you get lucky.  Then you get your hands on a bolt gun.  Okay, the recoil is enough to almost take your arm off if you don’t hold it correct.  But from the first shot, I decided I was never going back to a laspistol ever again.

Collecting weapons became a bit of a hobby of mine.  You can see I tend to carry a multimelta around with me – has to be my favourite.  It’s unsubtle, and you have to hold your nerve given its short range, but it gets the point across that I’m not to be messed with!

Thankfully eventually a Rogue Trader came along looking like us for any scrap – as we’d already looted the good stuff, we were able to trade with them for passage offworld, including for the Dragon, which we’d repainted by now to be more camouflaged.

Now give us credit, we did try and report back to the Kenzel Revengers, but they’d been wiped out during the Waaargh.  And as far as records were concerned, Kurr, Mason and myself were all dead, and the bureaucrats being as they are, they weren’t about to persuaded otherwise.

So the bad news, no back pay.  But the good news, we were free to do what we wanted.  We did okay though, we hadn’t traded everything we’d found for passage offworld.  We managed to find a fence, a squat called Oberon for the rest of it.

We picked up a business partner though, Masons wife Helga, who was a fellow pilot.  I wish I could call her a silent business partner.  He never mentioned her in our time on Sherbourne, though if I was her husband, not sure I’d want to own up to it either.  She’s handy in a firefight, and can be as mean as any Ogyrn if you cross her.  But all the same, she’s a massive pain in the arse.

We also picked up a dedicated mechanic, a Halfling lady called Amber, she’s alright, useful little tunnel rat, and a dead shot with a rifle.  Always happy going outside knowing she’s got her hands on the guns to support me.

Yeah, so we salvage full time – Mason is always hunting for news of battles, and then we come afterwards to help the clearing up.  Its handy the Dragon has a bit of fighting capacity, but we’re not heroes.  If we see a couple of Orks we’ll burn ‘em, but generally we just turn around and run aware REALLY FAST.  That’s why we’ve got a smoke launcher on the rear – to help us get away!

Most times all you get is spare parts – you got to know what’s worth rescuing.  Mainly we just sell back the Astro Militarium and Space Marines their own stuff back.  Weapon systems are always handy if they’re not too beat up, the Militarium tend to be cheapskates, though you’d be surprised how many farmers or industrialists want a lascannon battery to keep poachers and looters away.

Space Marines can be easy to anger if you try and charge too much, it’s best to let them set a price.  They then feel honour bound to give a good price and save face.  Most of their power armour and weapons are prized antiquities, so always worth gathering them.  If the dead is recent, they can harvest geneseed from it, so we’ve got freezer room for 3 in the back.  I typically don’t even talk about charging for their return, it means they tend to pay more for anything else you have.

I do get it though, if someone offered to return the body of my family after the Tyranid attack or one of my Stormtrooper pals, I’d not want them asking for cash.  Space Marines for all their superhumanness, they get that.

But once in a while, you hit a real prize, and we keep an occasional item – Kurr has a Thunderhammer he’s taken a shine to.  Ogryn with a Thunderhammer, now that’s scary.  Some of it we have no idea of, not even Mason, but Oberon always seems to know what’s what.

So anyway – that’s my story, here’s my three rules,

  • No Salamanders.  I don’t want them recognizing the Dragon.
  • No Chaos.  Pretty much all their stuff if cursed.
  • No Necrons.  You never know if they’re dead of not.

Still interested?  How can we do business then?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some speculation on collecting and recent codices ...

This weekend saw me come to a weird experience you only get occasionally in the wargaming hobby.  It's the experience of "done".  You need to embrace it, it doesn't last for long ...

It was a great opportunity to collect up my Storm Wolf army and put them on display.  They look amazing ...

Don't laugh, but Calgar reminds me of my grandfather

Yup - I've got almost a quarter of a chapter there, but I have no desire to build a whole set (I seem to just end up getting more and more marines).  I have a hangup about using any model for a battle without it being "done" (and based even).  So done is a big thing, and it's taken about 10 years to get this army to this state.  Of course in that time I've learned a lot about assembly and painting, and I occasionally notice a model that "needs a revamp" to bring up to snuff.

Of course a new Codex is a mixed bag of emotion.  When I played Space Marines at Call To Arms 2013, it was generally noticed that compared to many of the races which had been updated, they were a hard race to play at the moment.  That's not necessarily a bad thing - in the 2010 Call To Arms, we saw about 60% of players were just various Space Marine regiments.  Diversity is good for the game.

A new Codex means new ways of playing with your existing force.  I have to feel a bit cynical though - as also with a new Codex there are always "new toys" introduced, which typically feel like it's time to dig into your pocket again and buy more Games Workshop merchandise.

The new Space Marine codex in September last year introduced some interesting new weapons,

  • the grav gun.  Typically most codices under 6th edition have been introducing high toughness, multi-wound, monstrous creatures.  With the relegation of the tank under 6th edition, these seemed to be the new "in vogue" killing machine.  Interestingly Space Marines didn't get them, but this weapon is very much the "monstrous creature hunter".  Annoyingly though (thanks Games Workshop), you only get one in a new pack of space marines.  And as you can imagine (I own about 200 of them), the last thing I need to do is buy three new packs of space marine just to get 3 x grav guns.  Hence I've ended up improvising my own - trying to make them look like almost an anti-grav coil/toxic super-soaker ...

  • the anti-flier tanks.  I've been split between buying one of these or an Aegis defence line, with it's anti-aircraft gun.  Ended up going for the defence line, just so again I can improvise the Stalker tank with a Razorback.

  • Centurions.  Hmmm ... in a way very cool, they're a squad of multi-wound tough guys.  They're somewhere between a Terminator and a Dreadnought.  I haven't ended up buying a pack yet, as I'm not won on them.  They don't have an invulnerable armour save, so would be the target of most malicious players (oh that's mean, but we're all malicious players at heart).  But against this they have 2 wounds and a lot of weaponry.  All the same as I saw in this video, I have to agree, "where is our Riptide or Helldrake?".

The codex was nice, and a good read, but of course, release on release there's a lot of repeated artwork and fluff.

Not so cool was my son's update of the Imperial Guard of Adeptus Ministorum as they're now called (technically they were always called this, but this is how they're now sold).  A bit like with the new rules changes, it's a lot of money for very little changes (it felt a very lazy update).

My son's really annoyed at losing his penal legionnaires (they were a cool unit), but there's very few changes - the introduction of a new mortar tank, and heavy armoured Ogryns, which although cool, there doesn't really seem much point in.  Certainly in a world of Terminators and Riptides, the Ogryns seem the poor and expendable cousins.  Heck I'd put my money on a Nob with a power weapon over the Ogryn.

Next projects ... I'm actually busy building a tank to use as a piece of scenery - very much a hunt for scenery type object.  I really like the idea of getting either a JCB model or old style tractor (pre-roll cage) to decorate our landscapes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Warhammer 7th Edition quick reference and review

Technically the new rulebook "isn't really 7th edition", however ... the name's kind of stuck.

We were a little disappointed to find the rulebook was being updated - 6th edition has been out only about 18 months after all.  And here in New Zealand, it's a whopping $165 to buy (that's about 80 GBP folks thanks to the weighted price system Games Workshop uses).

It's a sad fact, but thanks to that weighted price system and a few other practices, Warhammer 40,000 has been very much in decline in New Zealand, with many gamers defecting to Warmachine or Flames of War, and with tournaments slightly struggling for numbers.

Our friend Luke summed it up nicely when he said "well ... I do have a lot invested in Warhammer to start over in another system".  I certainly find myself quite cynical about Games Workshops attitudes to fans, esp those of us in other countries (we typically pay a 50% markup on prices compared to UK/US prices).  Games Workshop was never in my 25 years of playing "the cheap option".

But at the same time, we do love the universe of Warhammer 40k, it's just something we love, live, breathe ... and certainly from my army below (I only really collect Space Marines ... although I've got a usable smallish Dark Eldar army) ...

What I've found essential is the Black Library - I bought the latest rules copy electronically - that came out for me as about NZD80 vs NZD165 - that helped, a lot!  Since 6th edition we've managed to get a couple of ebook readers, which has made this edition the easiest to read (I've an old Kindle, so I've been taking and digesitng the rules wherever I travel ...).

Overall as many blogs have said, it's not really a new "7th edition", more version 6.5, with a few tweaks over a major overhaul.  I've been playing Warhammer since 1988, so it's hard to reread the rules, you tend do go "to hit ... know this, to wound ... I know this as well ..." and it tends to be only when you play with someone else you notice "oh - I missed this tweak".  Usually it's the rule you've missed that always hurts the most ... [With 6th edition I'd missed about power weapons now being AP3 ... and I found this out ... at a tournament!]

So an overview of those changes ...
  • Psychic powers get their own phase!  Pretty much a nice idea.  The psychic rules also feel much more like those from 1st edition, a little more powerful but a lot more unreliable as well.
  • Vehicles - they got pawned in 6th edition, which made high toughness, multi wound monsters the way to go.  Now it's much harder to explode a vehicle.
  • Force Organisation mods - you can now cast out the force organisation changes and build any army you want.  This is kind of fun ... we've never been too religious about this, and tried some things "just to see" in the past.

Somethings I'm a bit cynical about,
  • Mallefic psychic powers.  You're able to basically spawn a large host of demons.  A lot of powermonger players already have plans around this "I can spawn even more psykers ... then spawn more".
  • Lord Of War inclusion. I guess the Escallation book started this, but you can now include an apocalypse unit in normal Warhammer games.  I've seen this happen before when I've organised games and someone has included a Titan because "you didn't explicitly say apocalypse was banned".  But believe me, when a player has prepared an infantry heavy army and their opponent brings in a Titan or Baneblade, it's such an incredibly one-sided and no-fun a game.

So these changes, together with "no force organisation" - 'hey ... my 10 Riptide army, woo hoo!'- has me just a bit ...

Of course such gamers will always exist.  What worries me is will this mean really I need to go out and get some form of Lord Of War?  And then does the game become "both sides bring a Lord of War ... first person to kill the others Lord Of War is essentially the winner".  Well that will become quite boring.

I'm quite pleased that our local tournament, Call To Arms has included rules to say "no escalation models" from the off.

Personally I might like to face off against a Lord Of War (I don't have one), but I'd like to know ahead of time one was coming.  I guess it's just basic player courtesy and etiquette.

Anyway, as per last time, we've put together a 7th Edition quick play guide for the new rules.  I find it really useful to have this, and also to go through the rules to write it.  As I said last time, it's actually frustrating that Games Workshop aren't making these available anymore as a downloadable PDF - they did in the 5th edition, and another side of the increasingly ill-manner in which Games Workshop treats its fans.  The site (much like the magazines) used to be about inspiring and supporting the game.  Now it's just basically an "Amazon sales portal" for Games Workshop products

You can buy one only as part of the expensively packaged "limited edition" set, which is something like about NZD650.  So ouch, but no thanks.

This guide is not meant as a substitute for buying the rulebook, but just as an aid to gameplay.  And on that subject, here's a major feature of the ebook, you can search it!  I've been looking for "dangerous terrain test", just enter it into the search, and you find all the references for it.  This is going to be so incredibly useful!  In fact I'm trying right now to justify buying an electronic version of the Space Marines codex that I already own!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

So, you want to get into Warhammer 40,000?

Getting into wargaming can feel a bit daunting at first, but it really is a superb hobby.  Obviously we're Warhammer 40,000 players although we are interested in Infinity and have dabbled in Flames of War.

The unfortunate fact is that Warhammer 40,000 doesn't come cheap, but I'll make a few suggestions as we go along to help with that.

As mentioned I've been into Warhammer on and off since it was launched.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Storm Wolves - Heroes of the Chapter

A description of some of the leading heroes within the Storm Wolves,

Jurgen Guderian - The Sleeping Chapter Master

Nothing about the Storm Wolves is particularly simple.  Neither is their chain of command.

Jurgen Gudarian is considered the Chapter Master of the Storm Wolves when awake - he is currently over 6000 years old, and the only remaining member of the original (Space Wolf ceded) Storm Wolves.

As the original Storm Wolves succumbed to the geneseed curse, Rune Master Heinz Manheim had a powerful prophesy.  Ragnarok would be a key battle point for a future war that would decide the fate of the Empire. At that point, the only hope would be that current Chapter Master Gudarian was on hand to lead the Space Marine forces, otherwise all hope would be lost.  At this point, Manheim succumbed to the curse and fell dead at the Chapter Master's feet.

Fearing this prophecy, Gudarian set up a the Storm Wolves II who would succeed them, and then had built a cryogenic capsule, where he would sleep for whole decades at a time.  However unlike the Sleeping 300, Gudarian is regularly awakened, brought up to speed on current developments within the Storm Wolves and reviews their current readiness.  He is also known to take part in combat actions.

Over the years he has picked up some awesome relics of the time of the Emperor, as his body has succumbed to the ravage of time, and he has become increasingly cybernetic, but his will is unbended.

Jurgen is a clone of Calgar for gaming purposes from the Space Marines Codex.

Albert Donitz - Acting Chapter Master

Donitz is one of the many veterans of the War Of The Deep Dark, where he was Prowler Group Captain.  During this time he was horrifically injured by a Chaos heavy flamer during on of the numerous battles.

Chief Apocathary Muller and Master of the Force Oppenheimer worked to keep their leader alive, but at a cost.  Donitz's Terminator armour now functions as a complex life-support unit, using some technology salvaged from  Dreadnaughts.  Donitz is already in many respects a dead man walking.

Donitz has a reputation of being brutal in his pursuit of victory, giving no quarter to those who stand in his way.

As Acting Chapter Master, Donitz functions as the Storm Wolves Chapter Master whilst Gudarian is in cryogenic sleep.

As with many of the veterans of the War Of the Deep Dark, Donitz's loyalty has been questioned at times.  It is known that he and Gudarian do not see eye-to-eye on many issues, and Gudarian is careful to have a hand-picked group of honour guard watch over his sleeping cryogenic form, such is the distrust between the two men.  However because of his glorious victories and the fact he led his forces to salvation during the War Of The Deep Dark, Donitz is considered a hero to many.

Rules - Chapter Master in Terminator Armour.  Temperament - think Darth Vader on a bad day.

Karl Rommel - The Caretaker At Mitguard

Rommel is a loyal officer to Acting Chapter Master Donitz.  The position of "Caretaker at Mitguard" is second only to Donitz, and means he is in charge of the Chapters fortress, and tasked with it's defence.

Rules - Captain with Power Weapon.

Marcus Stauffenberg - Prowler Captain

Stauffenberg is current captain of the Prowler Group, and known critic of Donitz.  Some pro-Gudarians feel this is why Donitz assigned him to Prowler Captaincy.

Rules - Captain with Thunder Hammer.

Erwin Planck - The Sleeping Watchman

The title of "Sleeping Watchman" means that Captain Planck is in charge of the fortress at Neiflheim, watching over not only the Sleeping 300, but also the Sleeping Chapter Master himself (when in cryogenics).  For this duty, he was hand picked by Chapter Master Gudarian.

He is a known ally and friend to Stauffenberg, and one of the few Storm Wolves to hail from a Muspell tribe to make it to rank of Captain.

Rules - Captain 

Gottfried Merkel - Captain Of The Hellion Guard

The son of a powerful Hellion family, no-one is sure about Gottfried's loyalty - he seems to be on everyone's side, and no-ones.

As Captain of the Hellion Guard, his duty is the defence of planet Helle in the event of invasion, leading one of the smaller companies in the Storm Wolves.  However Merkel has never been known to complain about this posting.

Rules - Captain in Terminator Armour with Power Weapon

Nikolaus Luthor - Voice Of The Emperor

Chaplain Luthor is in charge of the spiritual wellbeing of the chapter.  His past is somewhat mysterious, being one of the oldest members of the order, however he never talks of himself and his past, being a zealot to the cause of the Emperor.

He is an ally of Gudarian, and known critic of the survivors of the War Of The Deep Dark, who he suspects of the worst form of heresy.

Rules - Chaplain

Peter Rosenberg - Chief Librarian

Rosenberg is the Storm Wolves Chief Librarian.  He is a close friend to Chaplain Luthor, and shares his passionate zeal towards the Codex Astartes, which he believes the Storm Wolves do not take seriously enough.

Walther Becker - Librarian

Personal student of Rosenberg, who shows utter devotion to his former teacher.  Becker originally came from the Ice Folk of the planet Nifflheim, where one of the Shamans proclaimed him to have "the gift".  At 11 he was given at tribute to the "Star Guardians" (the Ice Folk's name for the Storm Wolves), to be put on a path to greatness.

Tobias Kolman - Librarian

Kolman has a difficult reputation as being utterly ruthless and brutal in his pursuit of victory and the purging of anyone he feels is in his way.  A natural telepath has been known for slaying civilians who he felt were guilty of thought crimes against the empire.

Kolman grew up on the harsh Jotunheim satellite of Hefring, a volcanic world with a large smelting plant on it.  His family were killed in gang wars, leaving him the only survivor.  He survived as best he could scavenging and thieving for his survival, a troubled child disturbed by his psychic abilities.

He was caught as a 13 year old boy, and his psychic abilities soon discovered by the Inquisitor Karl Mayer who caught him, adopted and later trained him.  When tragedy struck again with the slaying of Mayer by the Talon syndicate, Kolman extracted a heavy revenge, seeking out and killing anyone who was implicated in the death of his master.

Aged 17 he volunteered for the Storm Wolves.  He has lost too many families in his life, he will not lose his battle brothers without retribution.

Gerold Muller - Chief Apocathary

A veteran of The War Of The Deep Dark, Mullers practices are considered heretical.  He learned to copy much of his Ork Mad Dok's experimental procedures as he sought to make use of every casualty. He is known for reanimating dead scouts and marines as servitors to continue the battle, with some of these servitor squads continuing to fight long after their original host had expired.  He is responsible for the continued survival of Donitz in his Terminator armour which now functions as his life support suit. Along with many of the battered survivors of that deadly war.

Freidrich Oppenheimer - Master of the Forge, Keeper of the Iron Armour

Another veteran of The War Of The Deep Dark, Oppenheimer like Muller faced difficult choices in that campaign, choosing to compromise and salvage material and equipment even from the hated Chaos vehicles that littered the battlefields of that war.

Oppenheimer was born on the Jotunheim moon of Skaldig, where his mother worked as a mechanic at the Bifrost spaceport.  She taught him how to service the many ships and station systems she worked on.

A young man with a sense of adventure, he signed up to join the Storm Wolves after his mothers death in a shuttle collision, vowing never to return to Skaldig.  He fared well as a scout marine, known for his cunning, outsmarting his enemy.  During his initiation, he actually killed his Ork opponent by synthesising an explosive projectile against him - a never before seen solution in Storm Wolf initiation (and since infamous).

The War Of The Deep Dark was not kind to him though.  He lost his left arm when it was ripped off by the Ork Big Mek known as Mr Green.  Even though Mr Green is still alive, Oppenheimer is known to use an electric cattle prod on him just "because it amuses me".

Worse was to come - in one battle, Oppenheimer was possessed for a time by Chaos psyker.  Together with the stress of the campaign in tortured space, this seems to have broken his mind.  Oppenheimer is somewhat distrusted, and known to sometimes babble to himself.  He has particular affection to the improvised looted wagon/Predator tank hybrid he built called Loki's Guile, which he refuses to dismantle.  He is known to talk and even sing to it, which other marines have found disturbing.  In battle, he will often rush to repair this vehicle before any other.

Oppenheimer is stationed at the Storm Wolves mechanical works known as The Weiss Vergar Forge around Jotunheim.

Ludo von Braun - Master of the Forge, Keeper of the Sleeping Mists

Von Brauns background is a stark contrast to Oppenheimers, growing up as a child of a privileged Helion family surrounded by luxury.  After Ludo's older brother Oscar was convicted and executed for conspiring with Tau forces to attempt a coup-de-tat of the Helion government, it was left to Ludo to redeem the family name, which he attempted to do by joining the Storm Wolves.

Von Braun showed an aptitude towards mechanics, and still talks in awe of his time of study at the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars.  He works steadfastly on restoring some of the older relics of the chapter which date back to the original Space Wolf seeded Storm Wolves, and has contempt for the corrupted creations of Oppenheimer.

Von Braun is stationed on the ice world of Neiflheim, where he maintains the cryogenic units of the Sleeping 300, Gudarian and the sleeping Dreadnoughts.

Daryl Rainer - Scout Sgt

Brought up as a child in a tribe on Mitguard, Daryl's father was slain by a gang of feral Orks that roam the planet when he was 6, an event which would shape his hatred of the greenskins, and he and his brother Arno would take to hunting them using their crossbows to defend their family.

At 13, Daryl and Arno helped to rescue the crew of a crashed landspeeder, one of whom was future captain Gottfried Merkel.  For their assistance, Merkel supplied the tribe with autorifles and ammunition as tribute, and promised the two boys a place in the Storm Wolves should they ever consider it.

Daryl and Arno we close brothers until Daryl turned 17, and they both fell in love with the same woman, Inga.  She ended up choosing Arno, and in a rage, Daryl attacked Arno in a brutal fight where knives were drawn.  Though neither were killed, Daryl left in disgust at what he'd done, leaving for the Storm Wolves.

Daryl's background made him a natural scout - silent, hidden, deadly.  He technically passed his initiation killing an Ork, however refused to treat his fallen foe with the respect deserved.

Although known and respected for his skill, he has had a troubled time in the Storm Wolves, being a natural rebel against authority.  He has been known to go absent without leave to return to his tribe when they are in need - he has since repaired his friendship with Arno.  He has been put on court martial several times for this, although his friendship with Captain Merkel has helped him.  His place in the tribe has also had the noticeable effect of increasing the recruitment from that tribe.

Theodor Putz - Scout Sgt

A veteran of The War Of The Deep Dark, Theodor was badly injured in a missile attack.  His battered body was due to be turned into a servitor reserve until Apocathary Muller noticed slight signs of life.  Theodor is alive but only through the use of extensive cybernetics.

For reasons not fully understood, Sgt Putz is now mute.  Muller knows no medical reason for this, and Librarian Rosenberg has commented that "Sgt Putz is a keeper of a terrible secret which he will not speak of until the time is ready".

Despite this, through hand signs and gestures, Theodor is a capable leader of his scout group, who have to learn to almost read their Sgts mind and anticipate him - traits that build good scouts.

Johann Reiner - Scout Sgt

A member of the noble house Ravenor in Hellion, Johann was a spoiled, rich playboy and philanderer, causing many a score.  In the noble culture of Helle, such disputes were often settled by pistol duals, and Johann sent many a rival or wronged husband to an early grave.

However when House Ravenor was implicated in intrigue with a Tau attempt to gain a foothold in Ragnarok, many of it's assets were seized in retribution by the Hellion Committee.   However a young Reiner had made too many enemies with his antics and dualing, and found himself joining the Storm Wolves to get away from the many vendettas he'd caused.

Sgt Reiner has a troubled relationship with Captain Merkel, whose house was one of the many he caused a vendetta with.  He has a better relationship with Master of the Forge von Braun whose family was also implicated in the same Tau conspiracy.

Johann continues to investigate the Tau conspiracy for which he feels House Ravenor was framed, suspecting the involvement of the Talon.

Marlon Landau - Sgt Bike Troops

One of the Ice Folk of Nifflheim, he grew up learning to ride and service snow bikes from an early age.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Storm Wolves - The War Of The Deep Dark

No single event has shaped the Storm Wolves like the War Of The Deep Dark.  This was a 200 year accidental war that caught up a Prowler group in it's clutches.


Three hundred years ago, the 300-strong Prowler group was setting out to support a neighbouring world of Cadia in it's fight against Chaos.  Unfortunately due to erratic Warp Storms, the task force found themselves trapped in the outer edge of the Eye Of Terror.

Two hundred years would pass for the outside world as the Prowler Group faught its way in one battle after another.   In the end a mere 57 marines survived their journey to exit (although for them, less than 200 years had passed).

It was a war of desperation that shaped the lives of many of the survivors.  It saw a desperate alliance with the Meen Chompas Ork warband who were similarly trapped within the Eye of Terror. 

Ork and Space Marine banded together against a common foe, aiming to seek a way out.  Orks were ferried within Storm Wolf craft as they saught a way out.

Desperate Measures

As the campaign raged, equipment dwindled, and numbers fell, sometimes catastrophically.

However, Master of the Forge Freidrich Oppenheimer and Chief Apocathary Gerold Muller began to notice the behaviour of their Big Mek and Mad Doc counterparts.  The Orks lacked the Storm Wolves reluctance to scavenge parts, and so their number of Looted Wagons and walking wounded never dwindled to the same extent.

Both Oppenheimer and Muller worked closer and closer with their opposite numbers, and with it a change of thinking occured.  After battle, Chaos weapons, tanks. armour would be looted for spare parts, never mind it's heretical origins.  This was not about purity, it was about pragmatism.  Many Storm Wolf vehicles still contain remnants from this looting.

Most famous of all is the looted-wagon-turned-predator that Oppenheimer would call Loki's Guile.

Even after the War Of The Deep Dark, Oppenheimer would refuse to scrap this vehicle, which he considered to have a "strong machine spirit".

Muller, meanwhile, worked to reanimate dead marines into servitors, a practice considered with distaste by other chapters.

These pragmatic practices combined with the alliances with Orks serves as a reminder to many other chapters that the Storm Wolves are borderline heretical, and have potentially been tainted by their time in the Eye of Terror to become more like Chaos than they would accept.

The End Of The War

As the Warp Storm subsided, the task force finally made it back into the real universe some 200 years later.  Knowing how quickly their former allies would turn, the Storm Wolves massacred many of the Meen Chompas, with two exceptions.

Their dead allies were treated in death with respect, in line with Storm Wolf culture.  With their time as allies, the Storm Wolves recognised the Orks as a brutal and undisciplined tribe, but a warrior race worthy of some measure of respect.

The two Ork survivors are held to this day.  The Ork Big Mek code named "Mr Green" is held in Mitguard as a prisoner, and occasionally allowed to build devices from scrap, which Master of the Force Oppenheimer analyses.

The Mad Dok code named "Doctor Jade" is a more willing captive, he is allowed to experiment on captured Ork specimens, and the results analysed by Muller.

As a result, Storm Wolves are considered one of the leading experts of Ork technology and physiology.

The Storm Wolves - chapter culture

The Storm Wolves, although played as a variant of the Ultramarines from which they share their geneseed, have a unique history.

They are drawn from the Germanic peoples of the Ragnarok star system, and have a fundamental respect for the "old tales and legends".  By flesh they are Ultramarines, but in their heart they think back to the Space Wolf ways of their first chapter.  However in their minds there is something uniquely pragmatic about the Storm Wolves.  Unfortunately that pragmatism is seen are borderline heresy by some other chapters.

Here is the timeline of the regular initiation of a Storm Wolf candidate ...

Scout Initiation

The Ragnarok system has no major Imperial Guard unit, although Hellion employs a small private army.  This dates back to the Hellion Rebellion of two thousand years which the Storm Wolves brutally put down.

To combat this lack of man-power, the Storm Wolves encourages men throughout the star system to enlist.  Compared to other chapters the entry conditions are relatively lax, hence many are initiated as scouts, and receive initial geneseed.

This is seen as another form of heresy by other chapters, as they see the geneseed being wasted on the less worthy.  However the Storm Wolves see it as a necessity - they require a larger than 1000 marine chapter to function in their many duties.  It is unfortunate so many scouts die due to geneseed rejection, however the Storm Wolves aim to make good use of every candidate on the battlefield before this happens.  And even those who die often can provide extra geneseed before their premature demise.

Prowler Duty

The Storm Wolves main duty is to guard the resource worlds of Ragnarok.  However, guard duty does not make for glory.  Like the Viking longships of old, Ragnarok battleships prowl star systems looking for a fight in the name of the Emperor.

Typically three companies are kept "prowling" whilst the remainder of the chapter is kept peace keeping in Ragnarok.  This is why the chapter aims to keep their numbers above the standard thousand troops when possible.

This Prowler Duty is seen as the ideal test of combat, and duty lasts for ten years, with a mix of veterans and rookie scouts.

The Fate of the Fallen

The Storm Wolves have what is considered a ghoulish fate for fallen scouts.  Many have their geneseed carefully removed, and are then reanimated where possible as servitors, the mechanical servants of the machine spirit.  Hence even the fallen continue to serve in their own way.

It is a brutal reminder to many that service to the Emperor goes even beyond death.


After a scout has completed a ten year Prowler tour-of-duty he can apply to become a full marine and earn his powered armour.

Due to it's infestation from a previous invasion, Muspell is unusual in that it "farms" Orks.  The Storm Wolf initiation has an unarmed scout placed in a combat zone with one of the young Ork Boyz. The prospective Storm Wolf needs to defeat and kill this Ork to find his place.

Whilst the Storm Wolves like many other chapters have no sympathy for Orks, and will kill them without a second thought, they also have a great respect for the powerful warriors Orks are.  This has been formed from several uneasy alliances with Orks against greater foes.

Hence when a Storm Wolf comes victorious from slaying an Ork, it is his duty to watch over the body overnight, and tell it tales of his deeds as a scout, and the life before being a scout in Ragnarok.  It is considered to be the last day he will talk of his childhood, sharing his secrets with a fallen foe.  When the morning comes, the Storm Wolf will cremate the body before the rising sun, and salute a fallen warrior.

This procedure is overseen by either the Chaplain or Captain of the Storm Wolves.  In addition, most Scout Sergeants feel obliged to be present, however none can intervene in the combat, however by this point most scouts are trained to the point that an Ork soldier presents little obstacle to them.

Golding of the armour

Storm Wolves use a silver piping for soldiers.  However when a marine is invited (after 50 years service) to join the Veterans, or if he makes officer, he is allowed to gold his armour.