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These books are quite a hefty deposit, and I know you guys don't always have access to them. So having picked up mine the other, and spent the time having a wank on some of the beautiful pictures and rules within, I might as well spill the beans.

I'm not a personal fan of the Mechanicum, I'm a true power armour fan, sorry. Same with the Knights, although they are really cool, I struggle to find much enthusiasm for them.

So, first things first - a quick run down of what you get for the Astartes.

General Astartes Legions
- Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pods
- Legion Kharybdis Assault Claws
- Legion Fire Raptor Gunships
- Achilles-Alpha Pattern Land Raider
- Sicaran Venator Tank Destroyer
- Legion Falchion Super-Heavy Tank Destroyer
- Legion Stormblade Super-heavy Tank
- Imperial Castellum Stronghold

Iron Warriors
- Warsmiths
- Unique Rite of War; The Hammer of Olympia
- Tyrant Siege Terminator Squad
- Iron Havoc Support Squad
- Erasmus Golg (Unique)
- Kyr Valen (Unique)
- Perturabo (Primarch)

Alpha Legion
- Saboteur
- Unique Rite of War; The Coils of the Hydra
- Headhunter Kill Teams
- Lernaean Terminator Squad
- Amillus Dynat (Unique)
- Exodus (Unique)
- Alpharius (Primarch)

Imperial Fists
- Unique Rite of War; The Stone Gauntlet
- Templar Brethren
- Phalanx Warder Squad
- Sigismund (Unique)
- Alexis Pollux (Unique)
- Rogal Dorn (Primarch)

Raven Guard
- Unique Rite of War; Decapitation Strike
- Mor Deythan Strike Squad
- Dark Fury Assault Squad
- Darkwing Pattern Storm Eagle Gunship
- Strike Captain Alvarex Maun (Unique)
- Moritat-Prime Kaedes Nex (Unique)
- Corvus Corax (Primarch)

That's a lot.

So, from the top.

Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pods - FA; These baby's are not drop pods to what the SM are used to. These are full blown flyers, that can benefit from the Drop Pod Assault Rule. It can carry 10, or it can carry a Dreadnought - and it's an assault vehicle. Although you can't assault from Deep Strike, you CAN assault on the turn after. With 3HP and 12 all round armour, it's got a decent chance of surviving, especially if your enemy is loaded with anti-infantry nearby rather than Anti Armour. Works best when you have other armour to seperate the enemies Anti-Armour's attention. It further encourages use against enemy infantry by doing the whole Hollywood land-on them and burn them. It's not the strongest of hits, but with the size of the hull, and its 3+D3" range, it can cover a fair amount of targets. However, they are very pts expensive- just shy of 3 Rhino's. It is also a Dedicated Transport unit for Terminator Units of 5 models or less in size, with the added benefit of being able to run them as a Dedicated Transport for Contemptor Dreads used in the Orbital Assault Rite of War.

Legion Kharybdis Assault Claws - HS; This bastard is the Anvillus' big bro. It can carry 20 Marines, 1 Dreadnought, or a Reaper gun battery, follows the drop pod assault rules (which could prove mighty useful for getting your Reapers in position), and is equipped with 5 Heavy 2 S6 AP5 Missile Launchers which can all target their own choice of unit. Along with its heat blast, it can fulfil a similar role as that of a Caestus with it's ramming technique (although the Caestus is a lot better at it, but can't carry the same payload). With 5HP, it's a tough bugger too.

Legion Fire Raptor Gunships - HS; Possibly one of my favourite flyers (I love flyers) produced yet. This shreds MEQ's and light armour, and light armoured flyers (not that there are many Legion Astartes light flyers). Ignore the Quad Heavy Bolter options, you'll want to go for the Reaper Batteries - heavy 4, TL'd S7 is awesome. With Independent targeting, they can even go for opportune Side/Rear Armour strikes while it goes in for a BS5 TL'd attack run. With 4HP's it's tough as nails as well. No transport capacity, but that's why the Storm Eagle is Fast Attack. As a comparison, you're packing Strafing Run, with 8 S7 AP4 shots and 7 S6 AP3 shots, up against 2 Large S5 AP4 Blasts a couple of missiles and either a Multimelta, Missile Launcher or Heavy Bolter. To compare it equally though, it's up against the Caestus, another HS choice - which has Transport Capacity (with Frag Launchers options, can carry 10 Terminators which lose the Bulky rule), two havoc launchers, and a large blast Melta. But it costs upwards of 150% of the Fire Raptor, and that's not including it's transported unit, so I prefer the Fire Raptor.

Achilles-Alpha Pattern Land Raider - HS; It's all about the heavies in this one. I love the Achilles. It's an amazing tank. I love Volkite Weaponry. Lets combine the two. It's not a tank killer, but an infantry killer. It puts out 4 S5 AP5 Templates causing -1Ld Pinning Tests and fires off 8 TL'd S6 shots which cause additional hits equal to the number of unsaved wounds they cause. It can function as a Tank Killer in a pinch, thanks to its ability to fire S8 Sundering (reroll armour Pen) shots. You're paying through the nose for it, but oh, baby, it's sexy as fuck. Sadly, it's not included within LR Squadrons, so you're giving up one of your HS slots for it - which reduces access to Sicarans, Fire Raptors, Predators and Spartans.

Sicaran Venator Tank Destroyer - HS; The Sicaran is a lovely tank, nice to see a "new" STC design. The turret looked fantastic. Then comes the Venator. Get a nice tank. Get a huge laser. Put the two together. Win. It is a nice Battlefield control weapon as well - perfect to take out MC's and Tanks as well, thanks to Concussive reducing their Initiative and Shock Pulse making vehicles suffering penetrating hits from its main gun (it's Ordnance 2, S10, AP1, it's likely to happen) to only be able to fire Snap Shots. It's a lovely idea, but it's expensive cost, Heavy Support Slot, and only 13/12/12 with 3HP means it's a fairly vulnerable unit - especially with it's 36" range meaning you can't pot shot with it.

Legion Falchion Super-Heavy Tank Destroyer - LoW; "Lets put a Titan Weapon on a Tank" was someones bright idea a few years ago. This created the Shadowsword, an epic looking tank. Because Marines are harder, tougher, and better, they get two of everything. The Baneblade equivalent has two main guns, not one. So they thought if it works with that, it'll work with this. And now we come up with the Falchion. An absolutely sexy gorgeous brute of a tank, loaded with a TL'd D-weapon with 120" range. I love it, regardless of D-weapon arguments aside.

Legion Stormblade Super-heavy Tank - LoW; I'm disappointed with this, in that there's no strict Legion variant. I'd have settled for the Falchion to come with an option to replace the Volcano Cannons with a Plasma Destroyer. However, it's a much weaker tank, with less HP's, a weaker, shorter range weapon (not that many people get to utilise it's whole 10ft of range (think along the lines of more than half-again the length of your bed). Not such a fan.

Imperial Castellum Stronghold; This is a terrain piece designed to fit in a RoB board. It's not really playable unless you already have a board set up for it. It's unlikely that anywhere is going to have one set up, or give you permission to switch things around just like that. Short of a "counts as" using defensve lines and the like, the huge footprint will make it hard to do so. Lets look at what it gives you - 5 defensive points to put weaponry on (ranging from TL'd Heavy Bolters to Hyperios Missile Launchers and their command platforms), 1 Large Building and 3 smaller ones, Laser shielded gates relay boosters and hostile signal jammers, and all sorts of defensive goodies. It costs a hefty chunk however.

Iron Warriors
Warsmiths are an option for an Iron Warriors Praetor, which is available 1/army, and they become the Warlord, gaining the ability as a guaranteed Warlord trait to reduce enemy cover saves in a piece of terrain. Also have options for Servo Harnesses, in return for reduced mobility options.

The army itself has access to some variant ammunition for Heavy Bolters, called Shrapnel Bolts. AP4 is typically wasted against Astartes, and S5 isn't much to write home about. So, the Iron Warriors thought about it, and said "lets go for AP5 and cause Pinning instead". That does mean that you do not have the same effectiveness against Recon Squads etc, but not many people take them, or if they do, they have Power Armour, because PA Snipers are fucking cool (looking - I mean. They're shit in game). The IW's special rules include immunity to morale checks caused by shooting and rerolling failed Pinning checks, and have grenades that are extremely effective against Buildings. At the expense of random end-game rolls, the opponent can choose to play to for a full 6 turns. That ranges from a hefty penalty, to almost a nonentity, really.

As for their unique Rite of War (think army modification system, similar to how some characters allow you to change which units can be taken for what slot etc), for a typical "Iron Warrior" army, you're not going to want to change anything else. Free Extra Armour on all tanks and walkers, and an additional Heavy Support slot, in return for limited Fast Attack choices, an additional compulsory troops choice and being forced to take a Warsmith (free upgrade for a Praetor) as your compulsory HQ. Further limitation in that you can't take allies (oh no! *sarcasm*), but you also get the ability to make disordered charges after firing Rapid Fire Weapons (boring! No-one wants to assault). Yes, no. For the sake of a few fluff enforced limitations you'd likely follow anyway you get bonuses, bonuses, bonuses. This is a good Rite of War.

Have you ever wanted to field a unit of Terminators all equipped with Cyclone Missile Launchers? I know I have. Nows your chance. Equipped with Cataphractii for 2+/4++ funzies, you can now fire off up to 20 Krak Missilse which are highly effective versus buildings. Cool as fuck. They're Elites as well, but expensive as hell, a full unit setting you back 545pts.

Iron Havoc Squads. These units are a little odd. They're equipped with Shrapnel bolt Heavy Bolters natively, giving them Tank Hunters is a bit counter intuitive, especially with Deadly Aim reducing Cover Saves, but their lower AP making it less likely that cover will be needed. They have options for Lascannons, Autocannons, and Missile Launchers (with Flakk for free) however. Although lacking Interceptor, a unit of Missile Armed Iron Havocs can do quite well as AA - not only is the lower strength slightly offset by Tank Hunters, but they don't get the Jink Save quite as high. These are Heavy Support options.

Erasmus Golg. Like the best special characters, this guy can help make a force a force. With his ability to take Terminators as troops, no longer do you have to decide between which Rite of War you want to take (Pride of the Legion, or Hammer of Olympia). He causes Fear, and all Legiones Astartes (Iron Warriors) can use his Ld9 for Morale Checks. In combat, he's not a slouch either - 3 Chainfist Power Attacks on a Cataphractii Terminator base with Hammer of Wrath applied to himself AND his Terminator equipped models in the same unit - he's not exactly a combat monster like Sigismund (but then few are), but for his cost of 5 Rhino's, you can't complain.

Kyr Valen is a odd fish - he's a loyallist - don't worry, it all makes sense if you read the book. He's a shooty-army based guy. Not only does he buff one of your own Fortifications Armour Values, he also provides a unit still in the deployment zone the ability to reroll all 1's (not including Gets Hot). Against counter attacks as well, he can, once a game, force those attacking him to lose their charge attack bonus and their hammer of wrath. Equipped with a Relic Blade and Artificer Armour (assuming Relic Blade is a pre-Errata Paragon Blade), Iron Halo, Master of the Legion (so can choose his rites, er, I mean, 4 Heavy Support Slots) and a Servo Arm, he's pretty damn decent.

So the Primarch. Perty never interested me, and even less so after the shitstain on the Heresy series that was Angel Exterminatus. But lets look at his rules. Typical Primarch toughness - T6 and 6 Wounds, with a 2+/3++, EW, Adamantium Will, IWND, Independent Character etc). The main thing when you're dipping the cost of a unit into a single model is simply "how much of a force multiplier is he?" First things - he provides Stubborn to all friendly IW while he's alive. In addition, you can roll for Reserves ON THE FIRST FUCKING TURN! That's insanely good, if you're wanting to Alpha Strike. Not only that, but units which are in the enemy deployment zone gain Furious Charge. Just load up on all the Scouts and Infiltrating units possible, and then get your Terminators/Flyers/Outflankers in there. As for what else? Well, Precision Bombardment. An Unlimited Range Ordnance D3 S9 AP2 Tank Hunters/Wrecker TL'd Large Blast weapon which can be fired 1/game, with LoS being drawn from any nuncio vox/cortex controller equippedm model. So there's that which can even the score as well. Quite a decent force multiplier, I'd say, but still fairly average. We've already discussed toughness, but he's not slouch in combat, even for a Primarch - WS8 with 4 S7 AP2 Tank Hunters/Wrecker attacks. Combine with immunity to Blind and Concussive Status effects, his brother Primarch's special abilities aren't that likely to harm him either. He can deep strike, AND can pass that onto his Terminators (again, so he doesn't waste the Rite of War). A few final things - he can have Forgebreaker for an added cost, which is one hell of weapon, but due to how good he is, doesn't really improve him over much), a miniature assault cannon in his wrist, and the option to have a Personal Shadowsword Transport capable of carrying 15 models AND a titan void shield. He's a bit ninja.

Alpha Legion
Possibly my favourite legion in the book, and so far, second only to the Night Lords. Infinitely fucking cool.

Unlike some armies which get cool special rules, the AL got "mutable tactics" - the ability to pick and choose a single USR from a short list prior to the battle. Of note include Scout, Infiltrate, and Counter Attack. Tank Hunters is there, but the expense of Tank Hunting units makes that difficult to countenance (with the exception of Breacher and Veteran squads who actually get options other than Bolters). However, AL suffer from giving away VP's if they lose more units than the enemy.

Saboteurs are first new option for AL. Sadly, they don't do well in encouraging their use - they can't join units so are mincement. They always deploy in reserve, but do not count to maximum total, and they Outflank. When they arrive, they inflict a small number of hits on enemy units, or a penetrating hit on an enemy vehicle which bypasses cover. However, after then? Yeah, I don't think these are worth it. I think Marbo scared them off with these style of characters, as these are almost ineffectual now.

This is simply the one reason I wanted to play the AL. "The Coils of the Hydra" is the legion's Rite of War. Not only do you get neat little coolio's like +1 to determine who goes first or rerolling to Seize Initiative, and force enemies to suffer -1 to Reserve rolls, you get the lovely little ability to steal a single non-Unique Elite choice from any other Legion.

This is, to date;
- Justaerin (SoH)
- Rampager Squads (WE)
- Red Butchers (WE)
- Palatine Blades (EC)
- Phoenix Terminator Squads (EC)
- Gorgon Terminator Squads (IH)
- Medusan Immortals (IH)
- Terror Squads (NL)
- Firedrake Terminator Squad (Sal)
- Gal Vorbak Dark Brethren (WB)
- Tyrant Siege Terminators (IW)
- Templar Brethren (IF)
- Mor Deythan Strike Squad (RG)

That's immense. The stand out good ones are the Firedrake and Gal Vorbak units, but it's just such a cool idea, it reminds me of the old Ork Lootas from 3rd edition which used to be able to steal weapons from their foes. In return, you must take an extra troop option, if Infantry without a DT cannot Infiltrate/Deep Strike then you cannot be taken (remember that the AL standard rule can give any non-vehicle unit Infiltrate), so that's not an issue, no allies, fortification, only allowed a single Consul unless it's a Vigilator. So, basically, no limitation, for freebies, really. Only limitation is it forces you to play a particular style, and that's the Infiltrator army - and to be fair, if you wanted to play another style of army, there are 17 other legions, 11 of them covered for you to get some idea from.

Special equipment - at Initiative AP3 power weapons are cool as hell - but at the expense of one less strength, which could be a deal breaker. They do also rend, however, which means that the vast expanse of AP2 isn't such a problem any more. Venom Spheres are an upgrade to Frag Grenades which grant all units the Hammer of Wrath rule for a points value - a Venom Sphere Harness being available for Terminator armoured units. These are of arguable use - against 3+ Saves, S4 isn't that good honestly. Banestrike Bolters - mini-Rending - on a 6 to wound, AP3. Legion Veteran and Legion Terminator Squads can take them for a cost while Seekers can replace Scorpios Bolts with them. Now, these are NICE. If there's one thing you're going to have a ton of, it's Elites, and if there's a lot of things to have, in a Legion army, it's Bolters. Might as well make them count.

Headhunter Kill Teams - lovely little unit. Preffered Enemy infantry, equipped with Power Knives and Banestrike Bolters, they can quickly go through enemy PA like no tomorrow. Subtly dangerous in their own sweet way.

Lernaean Terminators - elite WS5 Terminators, equipped with Volkite Chargers and Power Axes. Count as Scoring, with the option to upgrade a Volkite Charger to a Conversion Beamer. Oh so cool. Just a bit disappointed that they didn't give the option for a Power Sword or Power Spear version.

Armillus Dynat is the AL's first Unique Character since Arkos the Faithless way back in, I want to say 4th edition. This guys' tough. 2+/4++, 4 Wounds, and equipped with both Power Sword and THammer with Venom Sphere's, he can put out quite a few attacks, which he can freely choose how to allocate with. As a force multiplier, he's okay as well - give an infantry unit Deep Strike (saving partly on the Rite of War), or if it already has it, giving them a Scatter reroll. To encourage sweeping forward assault, Alpha Legion non-vehicles and Dreadnoughts may rerroll Sweeping Advance and +1 to damage rolls against Vehicles. He's pretty good, but honestly, not that brilliant, which is a shame.

Exodus - this is a wierd type character. Think Vindicare style character.

Alpharius. Alpharius. Alpharius. I am Alpharius. I love this guy. Very bog standard Primarch stats (he's no slaughterer on the scale of Angron or Horus, and he's not a tank like Vulkan), but he's outstanding at being Alpharius. One of the cheaper ones to field, he provides one of the best abilities I've ever seen. All non-vehicle models from the Alpha Legion gain Preferred Enemy. Preferred enemy what? Everything. Preferred Enemy (Yes). Anyone familiar with Warhammer Fantasy Assassin hidden deployment will know what it's all about. So, what else does he do? Sieze the Initiative on a 4+, Outflankers gain +D3" movement, the ability to fuck with enemy reserves (if the enemy is bringing on a unit of a particular kind, on a 4+, if the AL player has an AL unit of the same type in reserve, that gets brought on in place of the enemy). For personal stuff - 2+/4++ with Poison and Fleshbane Immunity. As for melee - AP1 Armourbane Instant Death weapon with 5 WS7 S6 attacks.

Will do IF and RG tomorrow!

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