White Dwarf 470 Flashpoints Review

After a couple of months away, Flashpoints is officially BACK in White Dwarf, giving us new Crusade rules for Warzone Octarius. This month goes heavy on the Ork activity in the sector, lining up with the new rules in Octarius Book 2: Critical Mass. These new rules focus on the part of the war taking place on Abundantia, featuring a Theatre of War, new Datasheets, and a new mission. In the past, Flashpoint rules have been a mixed bag. So how do these new rules stack up? Let’s dive in and find out.

Stimm-Saturated Butcher Plains

TheChirurgeon: The new Theatre of War is for the Stimm-Saturated Butcher Plains, large expansives seeded with hypergrowth stimms that create aggressive fauna and flora, turning the battleground into a dangerous area to traverse, while the stimms in the atmosphere increase aggression. Game-wise, the Butcher Plains should be mostly flat with lots of roads, though they can also have fortified shelters, chem-output stations, and other small buildings. 

There are 4 rules in play for the Butcher Plains:

  • Flat Lands lets players re-roll Advance rolls.
  • Transitways boosts the movement of Vehicles or Biker units that are wholly on roads, even if they FLY. Why this affects vehicles with FLY is beyond me.
  • Hyper-aggressive fauna is just another “roll a D6 while you’re near terrain for a chance to take a bunch of mortal wounds as some animal attacks you.
  • Residual Aero-stimms is a full-battle effect you roll for before the start of the battle. One effect lets units in engagement range auto-pass morale, another gives charge re-rolls, and the last reduces the AP on attacks. 

The most interesting of these rules to me is Transitways, because roads are among the more interesting and common things I’d consider modeling in a game of 40k. I generally feel like they don’t feature enough on terrain layouts people build, and would love to build a terrain layout/map around a raised section of highway (and in fact I may do this in the future). The rest of this is just OK but together it combines to make an environment that’s very friendly to units rushing out into the open and getting into combat as quickly as possible. Melee is rewarded, units are faster, and sitting in cover can be deadly.

Flashpoint Datasheets

Deffkilla Wartrike. Credit: Rockfish
Deffkilla Wartrike. Credit: Rockfish

Beanith: It’s a great day to be an Evil Sunz Ork player with two new HQ Datasheets featuring a Speedboss on a Wartrike and Named character tootling about in a Deffkopta… or rather it would be, if Special Characters were of any use in Crusade games. 

Starting with Morbad Zagblasta, which at first glance looks like a fairly standard Deffkilla Wartrike until you check out their melee weapon: The Gitgabba, which replaces the Snagga klaw. For that extra one power level, or 20 points, you get a slightly stronger melee attack with better AP and the bonus special rule, Gotcha! If you successfully hit an enemy unit with this weapon, that unit is considered grabbed by the bearer. So if that unit wishes to Fall Back on their turn, you both roll a D6 and add your Strength, should your result beat theirs, they cannot fall back and must Remain Stationary instead. 

TheChirurgeon: This guy is cool enough that I wish there was a special character Wartrike in regular 40k.

Beanith: Goonhammer Maths Boffin Primaris Kevin could probably give us a rough idea of just how reliable this rule is but I’m going to wing it and guess that since you need to beat their roll, even at Strength 5, you probably shouldn’t rely on this working all the time.

And Swoopin’ Down from the skies in their Deffkopta called Da Gyroblitza is Manik Gorg. Armed with their improved Kustom mega-blasta, the Ded Glowy Blasta has the potential for a few more shots but where they truly shine is in melee as when they are selected to fight, it can make its full number of attacks against each enemy unit within engagement range. It can be a little hard to setup but dumping nine strength six attacks in multiple units would be awesome. And since they have the Character keyword, they can use the Orks is Never Beaten stratagem and go down swinging if needed.

Beanith: We’ve harped on about this before, special characters really shouldn’t be in Crusade Rosters as they generally detract from the narrative and because they don’t gain xp, you also missed out on those sweet upgrades that could have gone to a similar character in your Roster. You’re only just delaying getting that tasty Vortex Grenade Relic. 

BUT, with a little bit of finagling Special Characters could still have a place in your Crusade. My suggestion is with a little bit of storytelling on your part would be the occasional mission where they show up to fight alongside your army to achieve some random objective. Most of the new Codexes have an agenda which does this like the Space Marine’s Recover Gene-Seed for example. 

I would also suggest Campaign Masters perhaps also consider using Special Characters as a leg up for the Underdogs to help prop up those forces lagging behind. I could see why Belial might show up wondering what is taking Greg so long to find an eight foot tall super human masquerading as a shadowy advisor to the enemy General.

TheChirurgeon: Yeah I pretty much agree with you – rather than create special character datasheets I’d rather they give us those characters as an example and then make their relics or special battle honours available. Let us make those characters if we want, or make our own versions of them. Crusade is the player’s story.

Flashpoint Mission: Road Wars

Get in loser, we’re going shopping for Loot Markers, so sit down, strap in and get ready to blast off into the latest Flashpoint Mission – Road Wars where you will be taking part on the Rolling Road so try to keep up, don’t fall behind and prepare to eat our dust. 

Straight off the bat, the Designers point out the map provided are for Strike Force level games and they recommend scaling as appropriate for the size of the battlefield required.

Mission Rules

Imperial Fists Primaris Chaplain on Bike
Imperial Fists Primaris Chaplain on Bike. Credit: Jack Hunter

When putting together your army for this battle, there are four limitations that you must adhere to. You can only use the following:

  • Vehicle Units
  • Biker Units
  • Units embarked within a Transport
  • Units that can Fly

Beanith: I’d probably add Calvary to that list myself if running this mission.

When Deploying your force, you must have everything on the battlefield. No Strategic Reserves or other shenanigans.

TheChirurgeon: Rolling Road style missions first became widely popular in GORKAMORKA, so it’s cool to see them come back here. The general conceit is that the battle takes place on a series of vehicles in motion, and every round the battlefield “moves” forward. My favorite version of these is from Curse of the Wulfen in 7th edition, which was made for the citadel Realm of Battle tiles and played on a 12” wide battlefield where new tiles were added to the end each round and taken away from the start to represent an army racing down a narrow gulch.

The lack of reserves is a bit weird, since having a force ahead outflanking seems fine, but whatever. I would also add Cavalry, but I might put a minimum move of 8” on the units you add. Otherwise you’re cutting out Bloodcrushers, Seekers, Rough Riders, and Thunderwolf Cavalry for no real reason.

Beanith: Speaking of shenanigans, it’s time for your Transports to shine with some Additional Transport Rules. Firstly, there’s no disembarking at all and if that Transport gets wrecked then those inside are destroyed as well. Saving the best for last, Units embarked within a Transport model may use any ability they have as if they were on the battlefield, measuring distances and line of sight from the Transport…

Beanith: This last bit is wild, you’re pretty much giving every Transport the Open Top rule and then making it even more awesome by letting you hang out the back of a speeding Rhino to try and wallop some poor bugger with a Powerfist as you slam into them at full speed. I’m getting strong Goemon Ishikawa vibes imaging a Bladesguard Veteran perched on top of an Impulsor for some reason.

TheChirurgeon: I mean, I love the idea of a Rhino full of Space Marines shooting down the road with its top open and idiots firing out. This might be where I’d reconsider old-school “access point” rules to keep an advantage for open-topped vehicles, but it’s not that big a deal.

Beanith: Now get ready for some Speed-fuelled Violence. This rule comes in two parts. Firstly units can still shoot and charge in a turn that they Fell back but will suffer a penalty to hit. And thanks to the second part, you’ll want to be charging every turn as that will give you a plus one to Hit and Wound rolls in the Fight Phase.

TheChirurgeon: This rips.

Beanith: I really want this to apply to those in the Transport too just for the sheer carnage.

Next we have the Accelerant Boosters stratagem. For 1 CP during the movement phase, a Biker or Vehicle unit from your army can add an additional 6” to their movement if they Advance. Perfect for those in danger of falling behind or who brought a dreadnought along for a giggle.

Loot Markers are a thing because people need a way of keeping score. These count as normal objective markers except you want to pick these up as you zip past. Keeping track of who’s carrying a Loot Marker is important because if a model that was carrying any is destroyed, they will drop any Loot Marker before being removed from the battlefield. You’ll start the game with four Loot Markers on the field which brings us neatly to the last rule.

The Rolling Road, or where things get somewhat complicated, can be largely summed up by saying that at the start of the second battle round and each round after, move everything, terrain included, 9” towards the Trailing Battlefield Edge and then remove everything that is no longer wholly on the battlefield as they vanish into the nether, destroyed. Next you will roll off and then starting with the winner, place a single piece of terrain within 9” of the Leading Battlefield Edge. And then in reverse order take turns placing another Loot Marker each. This simulates the feeling of terrain rolling by.

TheChirurgeon: Ok, I love this mission. The biggest challenge I think however is that it really doesn’t want to be a standard 40k mission. It’s much better suited to an alternating activations process, which will help better simulate the speed of what’s going on. I’d recommend considering something along those lines if you do play the mission, and I think this would be even better as a kill team mission… if there were Vehicles in Kill Team.

Ah shit, now I gotta make a new Goonhammer Approved that’s all about taking down a convoy.

Final Thoughts

Beanith: At first glance I wrote this one off. Faffing about moving the battlefield 9” to the left every round and the limitations on what you could field, the lack of Relics and some more Special Characters taking up valuable real estate in your Crusade Rosters (I have views) felt lackluster. But then I read the Additional Transport Rules and was hooked, visions of Repulsors filled with Intercessors toting auto bolt rifles pouring out buckets of dice.

Deadly Environment, which rewarded additional experience and Requisition points for playing the previous Octarius Flashpoint missions, is missing which is a shame. Plus the fact that unless you’ve built a Crusade Roster where the theme is “Walking is for Chumps”, due to the Army Limitations, you may not have enough to field for the suggested Strike Force sized game. I’ve only just recently reached 100PL with my Ork lads after ten or more games and as it stands, at least one third of my Orks would have to watch from the sidelines with these restrictions. Using the power of Campaign Master, I’m already toying with ideas of granting access to one off bare bone transports to use in this mission to make things more interesting and the mission easier to use.

So solid effort but GW lose points for no cool Relics. I still like the Avalanche in Ice Fields of Death of Bianzeer more.

TheChirurgeon: Road Wars is a win for me but the rest is whatever. I’ll probably steal the rules for roads, though. It’d be cooler if GW released a kind of broad set of rules for designing missions/battlefield elements where they collect the most common rules they use and give you guidelines for writing missions.

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