Wednesday, 5 August 2009

143 Chimeric Ponderings

Hey, All!

This is a lengthy post with no pictures.

Still here? Cool.

I've been thinking a lot about chimeras recently, and whilst passengering on a car trip into Plymouth this afternoon I made some notes (before firing out of the top hatch). What follows is no treatise; nor is it a monograph. It's certainly not a's 1500 words in a sort-of informal essay format, by no means impartial and utterly unresearched.

It's also 0100hrs, so there may be some typos. Sorry!

Essay on a Workhorse:

Personal Reflections on the Imperial Chimera

August 2009

The humble chimera. Often referred to as ‘the workhorse of the Imperial Guard’, this unassuming and venerable APC is becoming an increasingly frequent sight on the gaming table, and I thought I’d explore some aspects of it, including a glance at the model itself in its current (and future?) incarnations and also a brief prod at the rules.

What a great little vehicle. In the fluff it can be readily converted for all manner of improvisatory battlefield roles and the model too can be used in such a way, although so far GW has relied on Forgeworld to expand the range beyond griffons, hellhounds and basilisks. A bit of a pity, but fair enough, and hey – that’s what Forgeworld does well, eh?

So let’s take a look at that model. I’d say its most striking features are its breadth (which always seems to make it look more substantial than it really is) and its dorsal lasguns (which always remind me of L/Cpl Jones’s van in Dad’s Army, for those of you who get the reference. Sadly these just don’t quite work. God knows how the poor guardsmen are supposed to aim them, and their articulation is such that their fields of fire are so limited as to be essentially negligible. The lasgun models are old too, and starting to show their age.

When it comes to assembling the chimera, the tracks (as with the outgoing Leman Russ kit) are awkward to put together cleanly and simply and the body never quite goes together flush at the back. Not a major stumbling block, and by no means insurmountable, but something of a pain, especially (I’d imagine) to less experienced modellers.

Mostly though, the main body of the chimera is essentially a joy to convert, given a decent enough bits box and some bits of plasticard for the more challenging efforts. We’ve all seen some great conversions – amongst my favourites would have to be the BoLS Arbites Black Maria, a command/comms version by ‘Digits’ over at The Ammo Bunker, some of the excellent work in the drop troop army of WD’s Owen Rees (here and here, for example), and – although naturally it pains me to say it – my own (‘Digits’-inspired) Wyvern variant, which was really good fun to make…that being the Most Important Thing. There are some great-looking hydra conversions popping up now too, which is pretty exciting.

What will the new model hold? Well, by the look of the profile projections on the rules pages in the new Codex, it’ll look like the new hellhound. Reports on the interior detailing of this new kit have suggested the same likelihood, but I’m interested in the fate of the lasguns and the look of the turret which – let’s face it – is currently a little lacklustre. We can anticipate it’ll have nice lines, good detail and (again, going on reports) that the parts will be well designed and precisely machined. All good.

But will it be so much fun? It looks like the new kits are less convertible, with more of the old detachable details being moulded on (including the cupola on the Demolisher, which seems an odd choice). Is GW going the way of Lego I ask? When I was a kid if I wanted to build a spaceship out of Lego I had to somehow engineer it out of very basic, prosaic blocks. Now it seems in a Lego spaceship kit [does so generic a product even still exist?] one simply attaches the ‘spaceship wings’ bit to the ‘spaceship hull’ bit et voila. I know GW are trying to make higher quality models using less plastic, and good luck to them: everyone seems pretty impressed, especially with the interchangeable parts…but I hope the new kit still offers some fun for conversions…

Either way, it’ll probably look pretty cool!

Right then. Rules.

Under the last Codex, the chimera was too expensive, especially when compared to rhinos. Its lasguns were – at best – ineffectual and it counted as ‘Open-topped’ when any single model fired from the hatch. I’d like to expand on this a little:

I liked the fact that opening the sunroof compromised the chimera: it made sense and it was very ‘Guard’, although it was of course quite a gamble in game terms. To be more specific, I appreciated the rule, but I didn’t quite agree with it. Here’s why (and I know some of you can easily pick holes in this, but bear with me):

An ork wagon is open-topped. A basilisk is open-topped. So is a griffon. All good so far. Under 4th Edition rules, they were also – by extension – Vulnerable To Blasts/ Templates, and quite rightly so. But I would argue that a chimera with the sunroof open should not have counted as open-topped (as generally speaking, it wasn’t); instead it should have counted for [just] vulnerable to blasts/templates. Opening that hatch isn’t going to weaken your armour, but it could reasonably make you more vulnerable to area-effect weapons.

With the new Codex, (and with 5th Ed, but more of that anon) things have changed for the ubiquitous workhorse. Now I believe it’s at the right points cost, although habit still makes it seem too cheap [“What’s that? I can buy four chimeras for only 220pts?”], and although I like the flamer options, it’s a shame Mr. Cruddace didn’t provide more scope for a variety of different armaments, especially given the cracking FW turrets and endless spare heavy weapons that everyone has.

The hatch rules are awesome now, with five passengers being able to fire out, and players are really starting to experiment with the possibilities. Personally, I love having a command squad in one with three grenade launchers: they can fire 24” even after a move and the boss can still get his orders out (if I remember to do so)…but then, I love grenade launchers full stop. [NB: Did you happen to see the BoLS Arbites chimera variant with the grenade launcher turret? Sweet! I must make one of those!] Of course, it takes a little more plannng to fire weapons out at 12” range, as the damned hatch is so far back you almost have to drive right on top of the target!

Are the new rules too generous? Probably. I’d probably either keep it to one firing passenger or make it count as open-topped (with my aforementioned reservations).

Two things which haven’t changed are the armour values (12/10/10) and the rear door. I think the AV is absolutely spot-on (although it’s odd GW didn’t model more armour onto the side of the new hellhound models), and that front AV12 can be a real game-winner.

The rear door’s slightly more frustrating. It’s believable – which is great – but a pain in the backside at times when you want to actually get your troops nearer the enemy. Has anyone actually tried getting twelve models within 2” of it, perchance? I’m interested to know if it’s possible. I may even try it myself. I’ve long-term plans for a conversion with a front ramp, just for fun.

So how has the change to 5th Edition affected things for the chimera? Well, from my perspective, I’d say the new ‘battlefield taxi’ rules are very useful with transports; the new version of ‘effects on passengers’ after a hole gets punched in the side is great, and the longer move with disembarkation is very useful.

The new Str 4 benchmark for ‘defensive’ weapons has put the kybosh on firing both weapons, but that’s really fair enough – especially for 55 points. I think my only beef with 5th Edition rules is the way rear armour is used in assaults: I’m firmly of the opinion that side armour would’ve been a more sensible option, and it would’ve given more variety, too, rather than anything with a str 4 attack (including guardsmen, now they have frag grenades!) being able to wander over and ‘have a go’. Now as it happens, of course, the chimera’s side AV is the same as the rear…but my point stands, and I stand by it. So there.

And when you put all these rules together with the old jalopy, how does it all come together? - Pretty well, I think.

I’ve always found (as I know others have) that chimeras tend to be surprisingly lucky; they’re surprisingly hardy too...sometimes. Sure, BS3 is a perennial handicap for any Guard shooting, but putting out 6 mid-strength shots if you don’t move can still make a dent, and the multilaser is even enough to challenge light vehicles.

In conclusion then, I love these little vehicles. I have (I think) about ten vehicles on chimera chassis and they’re all painted, which is highly unusual amongst my real-life (and very occasional) hobbying pals…and to see the chimeras charging across the table genuinely gives me a broad smile on my face. Psychologically, a mech army can be a pretty scary thing to face too, though I guess they’re blossoming in popularity.

Yeah: chimeras are great.

Thanks for making it through; I’m interested in any responses, rebuttals etc.

- Drax.

PS: I finished basing the stormtroopers, so I'll try to photograph them if the reain stops tomorrow.


  1. Bravo - you've more or less summed up my feelings for the ol' Chimera perfectly. The old model was oft-frustratring to assemble, but the near-endless possibilities for conversion work was wonderful.

    I've put together one of the new Hellhounds, and I'll say that while it went together beautifully well (we're talking as easy as a Rhino), it really seems to be lacking in flavor. All the detail work is modeled on, and there were literally no pieces left over on the sprues when I was finished. It more or less has to go together exactly as shown. I definitely lament the lack of a vehicle upgrade sprue, and will be very disappointed if it's gone from the recut Chimera in the future.

    Suffice it to say, I've ordered several old-style chimeras from my FLGS before they go out of print specifically for future conversion work - I just don't think the new kit will be as useful in that regard, more's the pity!

  2. Brilliant post yet again mate... Chimera... the work horse of the Inquisition too for some bizarre reason. I agree with you that any new Codex, not just the new Guard Codex should have more options for armoured units and walkers as your right, everybody seems to have an abundance of heavy weapons, especially vehicle based weapons... which is brilliant but why cant a razorback have a plasma cannon? or any other multitude of weapon options...

    again ... great reading mate.

  3. I am also of the same opinion. The old kit had lots of conversion possibilities. The boxiness of the model however never appealed to me as much so that's why I converted mine into a half-track. Another little pet peeve of mine is the side boxes which i felt stuck out too far. Overall though it's a great model (rules wise too, although mine has yet to survive a battle!).
    I plan on buying a couple for varying uses: another transport half-track and maybe a converted Hydra or... Deathstrike!

  4. Great post.
    Am I the only one that doesn't mind the lack of accessory sprue and thinks the new kits are just godly? But that's maybe because I still have tons of those accessiories laying around since I wasn't going crazy in using them. I guess I'll only miss track guards.

    As for Chimera, it is great! Probably one of the best priced transports in the entire game. 5 models shooting might indeed be slightly too much, but I'd reduce it to two at the least. After all two can shoot form Rhino and its hatch is more or less the same size! I think that was the intent actually, 2 special weapons from hatch and 3 lasguns.

    As for Chimeras being lucky, they tend to be. While in most games they pop at one point or another in my recent game against Dark Eldar only one went off, while one was being hit by an Incubi retinue for the entire game in cc! They immobilised it, cut off the guns but couldn't do anything more for 7 turns! And that Chimera was parked so taht they would need too many turns to go around her.

  5. Good post. I totally agree that the Chimera has great conversion potential--I'm working on one right now! (insert plug for my blog for upcoming WIP posts)

    I agree re: legos--when I was a kid, I had to invent my own spaceships--now the pieces are so specialized there's less room for creativity... So here's hoping that there's still room for fun in the new kit.

    I also agree with the side armor issue--these days I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that if any of my vehicles gets caught in assault, it's all over.

  6. That must have been a long bus ride for one to ponder upon!

    Interesting read. I wasn't really sold on the chimera as 55 points seemed steep to pay for a crappy Devilfish (I'm a Tau player too). But now you've got me thinking about the other benefits...such as firing grenade launchers on the move and the command-ability. Hmm. back to the drawing board for my Gue-ve-sa dream army.

  7. Link up Dogg, you've commented on a few other models with some definate models in mind. Convert (Where possible) to links back to original web sites and/or posts. I'd love to have some context where you comment.

    bigg shout out to a boss-playa!

  8. Thank you very much, guys.

    Hal'jin: Yes - I've often found that chimeras make good roadblocks. Taht's real 'Guard' mentality!

    Cmsr Harris, you're quite right - sorry - and thanks for the kind words on your blog too. I deliberately left out links for two reasons: 1) it was very late, and 2) I don't have decent Ammo Bunker links.

    Still, I shall do what I can. Watch this space and thanks for reading.

    - Drax

  9. Great post drax. I'm a strong believer in the old Chug for both tectical and fluff reasons. While the Chug lacks the maneuvability of the Tau or Eldar variants, it's hard to argue with that amount of firepower potential on a AV12 tank for such a small price. In the next round of purchases, I'm buying 2 Chugs to 1 Valkyrie (which I'm only really getting for the novelty and the model) - That's four chugs on the charge ... my personal favourite: Deploy 4 chugs with Alrahem and then flank... That's a lot of mobile firepower in your backdoor.

    On the luck side, my Chugs (and Tau Devilfish weirdly) have shrugged off firepower anything else would die of. On two examples the chug shrugged off all the attacks from a Wraithlord (including 4 brightlance attacks, lance on an AV12 vehicle - chortle) and the Tau devilfish actually managed to 'WIN' a close combat with a wraithlord thanks to wounding it with its fletchette dischargers...

    Viva la APC!

  10. As someone who gets to see Chimeras across the field a lot, I have to say I think it's a very good deal for 55 points.

    You can sit in the back with a Command squad w/ heavy weapon inside, and chunk lead downrange.

    You can advance and fire one weapon, and at this point I'll add that I think the multi-laser/heavy flamer is the best option. Heavy Bolters are 'eh' against Rhinos (They CAN glance, but often won't). Troops in cover don't mind them that much (other than dying every now and then). But, when moving, you get one gun. Why not go for versatility? Or, if someone gets into your lines with assaulty troops, why not make them pay dearly by dumping heavy flamer templates on them? It's not an option you will use in every last game, but times it comes in hand are times it saves your bacon.

    Beyodn that, I think you've pretty much nailed it. And they DO have some bloody small rear doors.


Thanks for taking the time to comment!