Monday 1 May 2017

Shadow War: Armageddon - Building a Cadian Kill Team

Having previously published my thoughts on building space marine scout and ork boyz kill teams, I thought I would make a trilogy (I'm into that sort of thing) with a piece on cadian kill teams.This is ostensibly because the rules book that came in the Shadow War: Armageddon starter box included rules for those three factions; but the main reason is I just happened to have a unit of 10 cadians lying around from years ago, which I was intending to use in Space Hulk.

Fortunately, I have a bit of a fondness for the humble cadians anyway. I think they represent Games Workshop at their satirical best. There's something darkly funny and harrowingly bleak about over-the-top heroes that look like they've stepped out of propaganda posters leading a near limitless number of cattle-like soldiers into a meat grinder with the intentions of drowning the enemy in the resulting slurry.

It's also a concept that gives 40K it's most recognisably human element. These poor bastards aren't superhuman gene-spliced warrior monks or blood-hungry aliens. They're just people.

Just us.

They're scared men and women in a galaxy of pain.

But at the same time, they're a virus. Their tactics on the battlefield are not unlike their tactics for expansion across the stars. They spread from planet to planet, infecting and colonising everything, and devouring swathes of star systems in their slurry until it seems like the galaxy unleashes every other race like antibodies to cleanse the infection..

So, yeah. I like cadians. They are at once heroic and villainous, embodying 40K's bleakest and most uplifting ideas. They represent triumph through adversity; but also triumph at any cost. In a universe of larger-than-life monstrous aliens and demonic entities, I feel the cadians have the most character of all; and when I think about a small team of veterans stuck behind enemy lines, fighting a secret war in the shadows, I don't think of towering space marines or slavering tyranids.

I think of the cadians.

All that being the case, there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to build a cadian kill team.

As always, the first step was to come up with a team name. For all my talk of how real and human cadians feel, there is also something very cinematic about them, so I drew influence from a favourite movie of mine about a small group of soldiers in a world of hurt. I called my team The Dog Soldiers.

Actually, that's not quite true. The first step was to head to my local game store and pick up a cadian command unit. My original 10 models would have been enough for a kill team, but I would have lacked some special weapon options, and my leader would have been lumbered with a laspistol, which really wasn't going to cut it.

So, after adding another £15.50 to the ever-growing tally of money I've spent on Shadow War: Armageddon, I was ready to start assembling a team.

First up is Sergeant Wells, the leader of the pack. I just don't think you can go wrong with a power sword and plasma pistol combo, so that's what he got. This model, and both weapon options, are from the new command squad box, and I have to say I'm not 100 percent happy with the way it turned out. The cadian kits are a few years old, and it's amazing how much more advanced newer Games Workshop models are. I like these cadians, but I feel they lack dynamism; and there are a few times the model I ended up with didn't quite match what I had in my mind.

Anyway, Wells is quite a flavourful leader, with his bionic arm and comically large pistol. I was quite tempted to put him together with superglue rather than plastic glue, just to reinforce the thematic connection with his on-screen namesake.

Unfortunately, he does end up sapping almost a quarter of my kill team points. That's always a concern, because it means less meat for the grinder.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team leader

Total points = 220
Leader = 120
Power sword = 50
Plasma pistol = 50

With a leader nailed down, it was time to look at special weapons operatives. The good thing about cadians is you get three specialists, and it's well worth taking them all because... you know... lasguns are rubbish.

Unlike scouts, who can take sniper rifles as a basic weapon choice, cadians can only take sniper rifles as a specialist option, so naturally that was my first choice. I'm a big fan of snipers, and I wouldn't ever want to leave home without one. My sniper is Ryan. He has the basic loadout of a rifle, a laspistol so he can shoot in the turns when he has to move (because you can't shoot a rifle on the turn you move), and some camo gear because camo gear is cool.

This model is another one from the cadian command squad. I quite like it (especially the eye patch over the eye, which I thought was pretty funny for a sniper). However, while the command squad set actually has a pair of crouching legs, the sniper cape only works with standing legs, so I couldn't pose the sniper taking a knee... Well, okay, I could have, but it would have involved cutting off a section of the cape and then sculpting a new bit with green stuff.

I ain't got time for that.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team sniper

Total points = 130
Specialist = 70
Sniper rifle = 40
Laspistol = 15
Camo gear = 5

Talking of crouching legs, I ended up using them for my second specialist, Spoon. He's armed with a plasma gun, which is a pretty expensive weapon but has some good stopping power. He also gets a laspistol just in case he still has both his hands after the plasma gun explodes... which it will. The crouching pose works pretty well for this model, and I added a backpack because it gives the model a bit more character and adds to the idea these people are often on operations for a long time.

He's called Spoon because if his plasma gun explodes... well... after that, there is no Spoon.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team special weapons operative with plasma gun

Total points = 165
Specialist = 70
Plasma gun = 80
Laspistol = 15

For my third and final specialist, I opted for a grenade launcher, simply because grenades are useful and I knew I wouldn't have enough points to give grenades to anybody else. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to splurge on frag and krak grenades, so I went for frag grenades. The plasma gun is my heavy-hitter, while the grenade launcher is going to act as a way to flush out enemies in cover.

This model (I call him Cooper), is from my original unit of cadians. I think it's a pretty boring model really, but it gets the job done.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team special weapons operative with grenade launcher

Total points = 170
Specialist = 70
Frag launcher = 85
Laspistol = 15

With the specialists out of the way, it was time to move onto the grunts. Cadian grunts are pretty cheap at 60 points each, but you don't really get to have much fun with how you equip them. If you're not into lasguns, cadians probably aren't the faction for you.

Having said that, my first veteran guardsman has a shotgun, because I like the mid-range stopping power and the versatility that comes from two different types of ammunition. There's currently no way to buy a cadian model with a shotgun (that I'm aware of) so it was time to break out the tools for a small conversion.

As already mentioned, I had a unit of cadians assembled, and sure enough, they pretty much all had lasguns. Fortunately, I'd assembled them with superglue rather than plastic glue, which made life easier. I popped one of the models in the freezer to make the glue brittle, and then snapped off the existing arms (this is the point where you start hoping Toy Story isn't real). I then cut off the existing lasgun and the hand holding it.

I took a shotgun arm from the space marine scout sprue I had, cut off the left hand holding the pump action, and then shaved down the right hand to make it thinner. I glued it to the guardsman's arms, and reattached the arms. The result is pretty good, and the model doesn't look out of place.

Considering his weapon of choice, and the fact he lost a hand to get it, I obviously called him Campbell.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team veteran with shotgun

Total points = 80
Veteran = 60
Shotgun = 20

My next two choices were really quite boring, and mainly an effort to fill out the team's body count. So, I picked two veterans with lasguns from my small collection. One has a bayonet and one doesn't. That's just to make it easier to tell them apart on the field of battle.

Oh yeah, names... Kirkley and Milburn.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team veteran with lasgun

Total points = 85
Veteran = 60
Lasgun = 25

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team vet with lasgun and bayonet

Total points = 85
Veteran = 60
Lasgun = 25

I only had 65 points left, which isn't really enough to get anything good, so I had to settle for Sam, a guardsman with a laspistol. I built a model especially to represent Sam, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The bits I had available made it possible to create a sorry-looking character with loads of personality. I wanted to really make him look like the runt of the litter: A put-upon underdog who gets all the shit jobs and suffers for it. He's got legs that look a bit like they're limping, and because he only has a laspistol I decided to break his left arm. His right arm is hanging down by his side in a way that makes him look exhausted. He's even too tired to aim.

Finally, I obviously gave him a voxcaster. Who else would have to lug around this heavy, uncomfortable piece of archaic tech?

It probably doesn't even work.

Shadow War: Armageddon cadian kill team guardsman with broken arm

Total price = 65
Guardsman = 50
Laspistol = 15

And that it. Exactly 1,000 points of cadian goodness, ready to brave the battlefields of Armageddon.

I suspect these poor guys have been in the wild so long they've lost all sense of right and wrong, and silly ideas like "sides." They're probably going to attack orks and space marines without prejudice, like the savage dogs they are.

Oh yeah, one more thing...

As a little addendum to my articles about kill team construction, I wanted to briefly mention special operatives. Basically, Shadow War: Armageddon gives players the chance to purchase "heroes" for use in single missions, to help swing the odds in their favour. I'm not particularly keen on the rule for a number of reasons (which I'll probably get into in my forthcoming review), and I do feel a bit like they were included mainly to encourage additional sales. However, I wanted to make sure each of my teams had at least one operative to pick from. Fortunately, I already had a metal commissar figure for my cadians (which remains one of my all-time favourite Games Workshop miniatures), and thanks to games such as Deathwatch Overkill, Betrayal at Calth, Burning of Prospero, and Space Hulk I have plenty of operatives for my scout kill team.

That just left the orks.

A little while back, Games Workshop released a product called Battle for Vedros. It was a cut-down version of 40K designed to encourage younger players. In conjunction with the main release, Games Workshop repackaged a series of figures for use with the Battle for Vedros game, comprising various orks and space marines. In the UK, these products were available exclusively through Game stores.

Fast-forward to now, and there are teasers floating around for a new Vedros-style product (probably as part of the roll-out of the eighth edition of 40K). As such, it looks like Game is selling off it's old stock. In my local store, they were pretty much out of everything, but I was fortunate enough to grab a Gretchin mob for the princely sum of £5. This is exactly the same set of miniatures available from Games Workshop, but with a nice discount.

So, there we have it - three kill teams, each with special operatives. I'm ready for war.

I built my cadian team with a box of cadian infantry and a cadian command squad, but you can actually get started with just the infantry. The models are all readily available from Games Workshop and Games Workshop stockists.

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