Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Aftermath: Loki

Sorry for the delay on the report from my end. I have been busy with work the past few days and the thought of an in depth post was not first on my mind when I got home, so without any delay, here's my review of the Bloomington event.

Ok so I will give some basic information regarding the event that was missed in the prior post by Brother Ishamael. The event was 1850 per army, with standard force organization allowed. Rules were standard Rogue Trader meaning that Painting accounted for up to 40 points. I will break down how the R.T. rules work.

Each game allows a both players points according to how they performed. Usually its 10/10 for a tie, 13/8 narrow victory/defeat, 17/3 crushing victory/defeat, and 20/0 if the defeated player is tabled. Now on top of this battle points are available for completing goals in the game (such as killing the enemy's most valuable unit, holding the enemy objective, etc.) These usually add an addition point per.

Once all games are finished, the army's standings are determined by adding the points from all of their games, and their painting score, and divided by the number of games they played. As you can see this can give a good edge to those who played well and even more so if you have a well painted army to score in the mid thirties or so.

Here are the tables so you can get a feel for what the boards were all like.

This is the experimental list I ran using a powerful synergy and the best of Kantor's "Hold the Line" rule. If you are not interested, skip to the "Game 1" section.



Sternguard Veterans (10)

Sternguard Veterans (10)
Drop Pod

Ironclad Dreadnought
Drop Pod

Tactical Squad (10)

Scout Snipers (6)

Land Raider Crusader

The sterns had a power weapon and 5 combi-meltas each. The Tactical Squad had a meltagun, multi-melta, a Power Fist, and a combi-melta. Scouts had Telion

Game 1
So this game was against a well known face to me, our own ZerkeX. Having played him many a time in the kitchen, it was a bit of a disappointment to us both as we had hoped to play new faces in the event.

We both played good games, and both experienced good and bad luck. However, I will admit to a degree that I had superior luck in many cases in that game.

Overall, it was an interesting game, and the scenario used victory points, which was a refreshing change, but in the end, the only model remaining on his side of the board through a mistake was his lone wolf, which (following it's rules) gave me points for not dying, giving me a total of 1850.

Game 2
This game was not much of a game in my books. If I were to forcibly throw a game with nothing but pre-game information, I doubt I could have done much more to shaft my army in this round. Keep in mind I am not saying this was the case, only that the odds were very heavily against me from square one.

I had to stare down 20 fleet TH/SS Terminators, on Spear Head Deployment (great... no where to run) with bases placed in a unique style (1 per board quarter) with only a limitation of 12 inches from board edge and each other. My opponent placed his first in the middle of the board, slight offset to one quarter, and his second 12" straight down the middle line in his own quarter.

Now that is a tough nut to crack already... but wait folks there's more. Night Fight for the whole game. WHAT!?!?!? So my inherently shooting based army has to face down an inherently assault based army... with NIGHT FIGHT!?!?!? Where's the balance? I guess it was long forgotten.

Needless to say I was steam rolled, narrowly avoiding getting tabled with nothing more than 2 scouts and Telion left.

Game 3
Well I hope this game gives a benefit to the shooting armies out there since they got raped by the last game... DAWN OF WHAT!?!?!?!

Yeah, Dawn of War deployment for game three was not exactly what I was hoping to see for the final round.

I played against Harly-Lord Eldar (Harlequins and Wraith Lords) and managed a solid win, but it was a tooth and nails fight to the finish.

I attempted to cluster my forces on the left flank after having lost my ironclad to firedragons turn one... A tactical mistake on my part. But it took any a sternguard to finally topple the massive pile of Eldar and Lords stomping towards my force.

In the end, I managed to pile a healthy win using a kill point system based on what slot it was from

HQ = 3
Elites = 2
Troops = 1
Ded. Transports = 1
Fast Attack = 2
Heavy Support = 2

Pulled an astonishing 20 to 5, which surprised me as turn two looked like it was going to be uphill both ways in the snow.

Overall I had fun at the event and managed to place third. I will say the scenarios were not very balanced in that they game assault armies a major advantage (and seeing as the first two placing armies were TH//SS fleet termies [yes them] and Blood Angels, I'd wager I'm on to something). The only thing saving my skin and giving my third was a healthy painting score. The organizers realized this fact, and i am confident they will look to fix this in their future events. I have been to 4 of their events now, and each one has been enjoyable. Baring the game two bum-rape I received, I had a really good time.

So let me open it up to you the readers. What are your thoughts on these style of events? Do you have any ideas for custom conditions (hopefully more balanced than one sided)? We would love to hear them. But until the next time, may your dice comes up sixes.


Liturgies of Blood: It's a Bird, It's a Plane... Nope, It's a Bad Idea

Today’s chosen topic will be deep striking land raiders. Currently this option only exists for the deep-strike heavy Blood Angels, but that isn’t why we are looking at this today. Nope, for today we are going to discuss the retardation inherent in the very idea.
The first time you hear about deep striking land raiders is likely something along the lines of “That’s cool” (if you play space marines) or “That’s broken” (if you don’t). But then you start to think about it and realize that there aren’t very many benefits to doing this due to the following reasons:

1. Inherent in all deep strike is that you don’t always get it to come in when you want it or need it, and it may arrive too late in the game to be much use.

2. When it does come in it only gets to fire one weapon (thanks to Machine Spirit) and the guys inside don’t get to assault.

3. The land raider is a large model and scattering into another unit or terrain is far far more likely than with small based models.

Now let’s go over each of these reasons in detail. The first reason given is probably the least important as it applies to anything that deep strikes or outflanks, but most units that are held in reserve are back-up type support who are more useful showing up behind enemy lines and blowing something away before getting blown away themselves the next turn, which is something that while more useful early game is still helpful late game if they don’t arrive for the first couple of turns. Often this isn’t the case with a land raider and its occupying squad. These guys are often the big power unit of an army and their presence on the field is necessary. Not having your hammer unit until turn four or five can be disastrous. Furthermore, even if it does show up as early as turn two there aren’t many places that it couldn’t have just moved to with two turns of 12in movement plus the size of your deployment zone. Now a lot of people might say that its showing up without being shot at on the way there, and they are right. But remember it is also showing up with shooting its own guns, or the squad inside doing anything. Plus the shots that would have been fired at it didn’t go away, they just targeted something else in your army, are the kinds of shots that can faze a land raider are the kind of shots that can wreak havoc or other things.

Also we have to remember that when it does come it can only fire one weapon when it does show up. While one shot is better than no shots, it is all you can get while if you moved the land raider you could move it less than the full 12 or not at all in order to get more of the full fire power that the raider can provide. But the point of the land raider is usually not its guns, but its ability to move your heavy hitters up to the front line and have them pop out and kill something. The assault vehicle rule is arguably the most important rule that the land raider has, but when you deep strike you don’t get to use it. What is the point of an Assault Vehicle that you can’t assault out of when you need to?

However, so far all of these problems are only make the idea bad in nearly any situation, while this third large problem catapults the idea into the area of ridiculous. Despite the land raider being a huge nearly unkillable vehicle that is ties only with the monolith for highest armor rating (outside of apocalypse) it has no special rules that allow it to deep strike without horrible consequences. Imagine a giant the giant hunk of metal containing some of the deadliest fighters in the 40k universe, and right below that falling machine of death is a single grot. And then the grot wins. That’s right the grot doesn’t even take a single hit and the land raider goes straight to the mishap table. Now I can understand when this happens to small unstable vehicle like a skimmer, or individual infantry that are teleporting in from the warp, but a land raider falling from the sky? That just seems ridiculous. How much work would it have taken to write the land raider some of its own special rules for deep striking like the monolith?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Aftermath: Ishamael

by Ishamael

Hey fellas, Ishamael here with some quick batreps at the tournament we attended yesterday! Unfortunately, Loki's got the pictures, so I can't give my commentary on the tables until the pics become declassified. At any rate, the Tau I took was the list from last time, only with the upgrade to a Shas'O added, as I had 25 points to spend, and a BS5 suit is everybody's friend. So, the format will be mission, opponent, highlights.

Mission 1
Pitched Battle Deployment
Victory: Score more Victory Points than the opponent, as defined in the BRB.

So, of the 12 players in the tournament including myself, I get paired up with the only other Tau player there, our very own Heretic. His list was something like this:

3 Suits
2 Suits
4x 12 Fire Warrior squads with 3 Warfish
1 squad of 2 Piranhas
1 squad of 1 Broadside
1 squad of 2 Broadsides
Pathfinders w/ Warfish

I got first turn, set up, and got seized. This could have been worse, but essentially our first couple turns were putting the same damage on each other, including the piranha squadrons' drones going into CC with the opposing side's Pathfinders. On turn 3/4 the momentum swung his way when my Suits decided they wanted to go back home and relax on the beach. Lost my Shas'O's team to a leadership check that really spelled my doom. Although, I failed three leadership tests on my suits, and they only ran 4 inches each! Since our officer's game was too much fun, we ended up playing through half our lunch, when we decided to call it there. I lost by a 520 VP margin. But hey, my drones sissy-slapped a Broadside for several turns, and his drones tied my Pathfinders for three or so turns. Very entertaining game.

Mission 2
Spearhead Deployment
Victory: Score more objectives than your opponent.
Special Condition: Night Fighting all 6 turns of the game.

2 things. First, fuck this mission. 2, the TO saying that we should roll for deployment zones then objective placement, is what killed me. I'll get into fixed gamelength at the bottom, as each game was at a fixed length. So, it's Night Fight for six turns, I'm Tau fighting Blood Angels:

Captain w/lightning claws
3x Tac Squads w/meltaguns and some random heavy weapon, with Rhinos
2x Assault Squads
3x1 Multi-Melta Landspeeders
Devastator Team- something like 2 lascannons, missile launcher, heavy bolter. Don't know, wasn't sure if everything was WYSIWYG.

So hey, I get first turn, choose my zone, then he wins the roll off to place the first objective. In my deployment zone. Objectives are placed within one of the four table quarters, with no restrictions on being close to other objectives. I then get seized on. Just about this whole game revolved around my speeders countering his, and once in a great fucking while my Suit teams would see something and get to shoot. Acute Senses rocks for random shit like this. Eventually, it came down to either a contest or cap for me on my own home objective (worth one extra BP if I held it at the end of the game, btw). My Pathfinders, after turns of jerking eachother off, finally got to use of the least-used abilities for Markerlights: let other units auto-pass Night Fight. So hey, I kill things, then my Kroot get Tank Shocked, run away, and it turns into a Minor Loss, his 2 objectives to my 1. For it being so stacked against me, I thought I did decently well at mitigating the circumstances. Damn, I need those pictures. Next time we go there, I'll have a camera ready for better batreps. Moving on!

Mission 3
Dawn of War Deployment (fuck me running lol)
Victory: Modified Kill Points (HQ 3, every Elite, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support worth 2 each)

This time I got to fight Nidzilla 5e:

2x Hive Tyrants
3x Tervigons
2x Carnifexes
1x Old One Eye
3x Termagant squads

This is about the only mission that I got to use most of the Tau tricks I know. I get first turn, and do NOT get seized, so my Kroot push him back to about the 6 inch mark on his half, and they just fall back to my battle line. This game revolved around me keeping him at arms length and pelting him. Although I got to finally play the Tau this event like I planned, this game was a hollow victory against a baby seal, and Carnifexes only having 4 wounds is asking for death. Ended up in a slaughter, so I really don't have much to say on that. He was a great sport about it.

So, what are my reflections? Well, game 1 was fine, VPs are better than regular KPs, but playing the only other Tau player in the tournament was surprising, as we all had to write down which army we played at signup. Mission 2 was as rotten as Cthulhu's balls, allowing the players that brought assault armies to get a free pass to the next round. Game 3 could have royally fucked me over. Piranhas AND their Drones were worth 2 per squad, then my 3 Crisis Teams, Shas'O, then my Hammerhead and Broadsides. Luckily, only 6/8 of the KPs I gave up game 4 were my Piranhas and 2 for a squad of Drones. Could have been far worse.

The terrain was okay, but some tables blatantly had more than others, including one table having a ridiculous amount of LoS-blocking walls.

So, I've been wondering about fixed game length. Each game in the tournament lasted 6 turns, then ended. In a normal 40k game, it can end on 5, 6, or 7 turns, which makes you think ahead as to what your plans are. Fixed game length leads to players not having to work as hard for their contest/control shenanigans, and I am surprised beyond belief that we did not have a Mechdar player there to show how bad such a length is. 2/3 missions were just "kill shit", with only 1 objectives game, which is entertaining, considering we go from VPs to a bullshit KP scenario.

Here's a quick recount of my experience. When I get ahold of some of the pictures I'll comment on the tables next!

See You Space Cowboy,

Friday, June 25, 2010

How do you prepare?

Well, the cast and crew of Rites of Battle will be chugging down to the Bloomington Game Preserve early tomorrow morning for a day of tournament action, so expect some Battle Reports and afterthoughts to come!

Yet, this has me wondering on how to prepare for the event.

The truth of the matter is that I have had only five games with my Tau army, and lack enough experience points to really say that I'm sure as to how I will approach each table and opponent. Next, have I done enough good deeds for the Dice Gods to strangle the karmic cycle to allow me to hit with Twin-Lined BS 5 suits? In addition, of my entire army, only two Tau'r Rangers suits are painted, and painting can potentially be 40 of the possible 100 points to determine the victor. The rest of my army contains basic painting distinctions for special wargear, as well as knowing which squad of Kroot is which.

My 1850 list is as follows:

1 Commander Shas'el @ 92 Pts
Hard-wired Target Lock; Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker

3 Crisis Battlesuit @ 186 Pts
Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker

3 Crisis Battlesuit @ 186 Pts
Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker

3 Crisis Battlesuit @ 186 Pts
Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker

10 Kroot Carnivore Squad @ 112 Pts
Add Kroot Hounds; Kroot Rifle (x10)
7 Kroot Hounds @ [42] Pts

10 Kroot Carnivore Squad @ 112 Pts
Add Kroot Hounds; Kroot Rifle (x10)
7 Kroot Hounds @ [42] Pts

6 Fire Warrior @ 60 Pts
Pulse Rifle (x6)

8 Pathfinder @ 216 Pts
Markerlight (x8); Pulse Carbine (x8)
1 Devilfish @ [120] Pts
Burst Cannon; Smart Missile System; Disruption Pod; Landing Gear; Marker Beacon; Multi-Tracker; Targeting Array

2 Piranha Light Skimmer @ 150 Pts
Fusion Blaster (x2); Gun Drones (x2); Disruption Pod (x1); Target Lock (x1); Targeting Array (x2)
2 Gun Drones @ [0] Pts
Twin Linked Pulse Carbines

2 Piranha Light Skimmer @ 150 Pts
Fusion Blaster (x2); Gun Drones (x2); Disruption Pod (x1); Target Lock (x1); Targeting Array (x2)
2 Gun Drones @ [0] Pts
Twin Linked Pulse Carbines

1 Hammerhead Gunship @ 175 Pts
Railgun; Smart Missile System; Disruption Pod; Landing Gear; Multi-Tracker; Targeting Array

1 Broadside Battlesuit @ 200 Pts
Team Leader; Twin linked Railgun; Broadside Battlesuit; Smart Missile System; Hard-wired Drone Controller; Hard-wired Target Lock; Shield Drone; Advanced Stabilisation System
1 Broadside Battlesuit @ [80] Pts
Twin linked Railgun; Smart Missile System; Advanced Stabilisation System
2 Shield Drone @ [30] Pts
Shield Generator

The lack of a second Hammerhead might be bad for one of my Suit teams, but either they find some LoS terrain to hind behind, or they just man up and get cover from being behind the Kroot. I know my basic battle plan, but it's going to be an interesting test of generalship on my behalf as to whether or not I do well with the Empire. Tau win or lose depending on you, a farcry from my very fun Khorne list.

So I figure I'll end it here with my preliminary thoughts, and with something that will be playing in my head all day tomorrow.

How do you prepare for tournament play?

See you Space Cowboy,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Double Feature

Greetings everyone. I thought I would write an article to entertain the brain with some tactical advice; but while reading through the Big Rule Book earlier today, I came across an interesting bit of information which could cause some interesting effects in the realm of the game. So my inquisitive nature has gifted those of you interested enough for a treat, as this post will be a double feature.

So prepare your brain for some food for thought.

1. Hiding in Plain Sight
"At Least I'm not the one still hiding behind a mask..."
"No... You're hiding in plain sight."

The idea behind this tactical advise is to leave you opponent asking what happened after he suffers a crushing defeat. It is a simple plan, and is often easy to pull off against even experienced players. It involves a little deception, some playing up... and a sacrificial lamb.'

Now before you start sharping your pitchforks and calling P.E.T.A. on me, let me explain. With the ideals of 5th edition being law these days... it is no doubt that many of the armies now facing your front lines may be fortified in armored transports. Often this can leave a unit you would like to get to protected, and therefore gives them the edge to do as they please against your models. So a good plan or contingency for a lack of melta or tank bustin' weapons is always helpful. Of course the plan works against units not in transports just as well... but without the protection for a vehicle, it is more probable they will be dealt with by much easier means.

The gist of this plan is simply to lure your opponent into a false sense of security by leaving a unit relatively open for attack from their better units. For example, the Assault Terminators in a Land Raider can be a tough nut to crack sometimes; so this should help to draw them out into the open, where you can turn the tides against them. Given the chance you'll have some mobility of your own, simply having the bodies to cover area, or surprise units from reserves... these all work to the same ends of catching the enemy off guard.

One you have laid the bait unit on the table, come to terms that they are in fact bait... and you shouldn't worry when they die. This unit will need to be decent in many cases to merit being a "must kill" unit. Note this may change varying on mission type, and even position. Remember to ham it up too, your enemies will wonder why your "oh so special squad" is about to get steamrolled, rickrolled,and flattened into a fine pile of goo that used to be your baby without so much as a wimpy of sadness in your voice. They will probably die a gruesome death to enemy hands, and you should be sad... at least to them you should be; but this squad serves a much more deviant roll than they know. Remember not to leave these guys to fend for themselves, keep units close by, and ready to make a surprise move in once the bait has been taken. Once they have... you spring your trap... or traps, and watch them squirm as their baby falls to bitty pieces on the board right in from of their eyes.

Pull units in from cover, across large gaps in transports, or from Deep Strike, or any place you can... it's an old fashion tactic but the ambush is hard to pull off well in this game, and often isn't seen in large scales as it requires much force to pull of sometimes, and it means dedicating large amounts of force, to gain what looks to be only a little.

This plan works to devastate a key unit, while leaving others to suffer only minor fire, but done correctly will leave the enemy reeling from shock as their "Ace in the Hole" unit falls from over eagerness to attack. This will leave them short handed for later turns, giving you the edge to make a more broad attack from a strong front, or continue to wrecking ball from one squad to the next. The choice... is ultimately yours.

2. Pesky Snakes...

Well if this wasn't an interesting, and yet gut wrenching find... I don't know what is.

CAUTION: This is an often overlooked wording, and may cause disputed feelings. I only bring this up as it is direct wording from the rulebook, and as such should be treated as such. Please be mindful of the observation.

So many of us look at assaults into cover as a risky more, as a bad move through cover roll could be devastating to the unit that couldn't make it, and then find themselves being assaulted later. I myself never thought to look at this, and was one who though to himself

"Well okay... I'll just move to within an inch, and not even snake eyes can stop me!"

The truth is my friends this is not possible. After reading the rulebook, near the beginning (page 3 of the big rule book [BRB]) on the far right hand side of the spread, it defines within under measuring distances. It's wording is

"So, for example, if any model in a unit is within 2" of an enemy unit/model, the unit is said to be within 2" of that enemy unit/model."

This means that the stated measurement of within (insert number)" not only includes a distance under the number, but also the number itself. This may not be much of a factor except for one key difference. This would be the movement phase.

Under the rules in the movement phase under Models in the Way (page 11 of the BRB) it states

"To keep this distinction clear, a model may not move within 1" of an enemy model unless assaulting."

Now, coupled with the definition of within (which includes the number inserted [in this case 1]) a model must not be an inch or closer in the movement phase. This means even if you are a hair's width over, snakes eyes means you'll still be under, and therefore not make it.

This could prove to be a devastating blow to units attempting to get into assault... but it is written by G.W., and as such is a binding rule for the game. I know it's not fun to be on the receiving end of this, but I suppose in this game failing is almost always an option which should be considered, and is there to challenge us the player. Battles are never certain, and attempting to force fate often leads to unexpected failures at times... and it is something we must all look to as a way to challenge our skills on the table top.

Well, screw you too, GW.

So, here is the first.

As you guys may have previously informed, Daemonhunters no longer have rules to ally with other codices.

Some armies enjoyed those old pieces of wargear, and they just got the big one from Geims Waaaghkshop. Sure, these are now available for free, but what's the damned point, unless you have a royal hardon for Grey Knights?

Question is: might this be an indicator of a new army book coming soon, or GW reminding us what Marcellus Wallace looks like?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Making 40k Your Own

Heretic here with a quick thought. Every army has their own history and great sagas, but in each of them there is a great amount that goes unsaid. For instance, the Imperial codices generally talk about only a few battles in the Horus Heresy, namely the Drop Site Massacre and the Siege of Terra, and leave out the rest. This was supposed to be the end of the Great Crusade, when the Imperium was at its zenith and collapsed in on itself. There must have been more than those two battles. What I'm getting to is filling in the gaps.

I'm currently building a chapter of marines from scratch, as far as backstory; they aren't cannon so there's nothing I can draw on to give them a glorious past. But that also means there are no restraints on how my chapter can have gotten to where they are today. It may or may not be your cup of tea, but I'd suggest you take a few minutes and consider writing a backstory for your army. It really helps me get motivated to work on painting my models and makes me want to get some games in with them.

If a whole chapter isn't your style why not write a story about your favorite model's most glorious victory? Maybe some story of how the Great Wolf rose through the ranks or why your Hive Fleet is awesome. If your army is more exciting to you it might just give you another part of this hobby to enjoy in case you don't get the opportunity to play as often as you'd like.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Liturgies of Blood: Blood Angel Codex Review Part Three

In this final installment of my now very late look at the new Blood Angel codex I will be comparing the new codex to the old pdf codex that the Blood Angels used to run out of. First up, the most obvious benefit of the new codex is that it is an actually bound book and contains a whole section based on the fluff of Blood Angels and a section highlighting professionally done painting jobs of the models described in the book. While this is something that comes standard in every other codex, it is something that the old pdf lacked entirely. However, this isn’t without drawbacks of its own. Most significantly is that by being an actual book it is something that costs money to buy, where the pdf was available for free download. While the fluff and painting display are nice they aren’t by any means necessary for playing the game, so compared to the pdf it is almost like playing the full price of the book just for the binding and nonessential sections. Whether or not this is worth it depends entirely on who you ask, but since this puts us on the same level as every other army I don’t think there is any real justification for complaining.

Next let’s look at the changes to the way that the Blood Angels now play. In terms of army wide special rules the new codex only gave us new things without taking away anything. Before the Bas had no army wide rules available to them that weren’t available to any space marine, while we now have the Red Thirst and Descent of Angels. Both of these rules are advantageous, although they may not be relevant to every possible build of the army, and obviously gaining things without losing is always a good deal. The majority of the units in the army are returning from the old codex and haven’t changed in either stats or wargear options, but they have gotten cheaper (this is mostly due the fact they no longer provide “free” death company, a change covered later in the article). The only real change to the returning infantry units is that the wargear has been changed to be the same as in the new vanilla Space Marine codex (storm shields, I’m looking at you). The biggest changes to returning units take place in the vehicles used by the Blood Angels. The drop pod was now been upgraded to follow the new drop pod assault rule, and by knowing that a unit can come in on the first turn almost where ever you want them and still fire can be a handy strategy. The land raider now has deep strike (a truly weird option that will likely be the focus of my next article). Most importantly is the fact that all rhino based vehicles (the rhino, razorback, predator, baal predator, vindicator, and the whirlwind) are now fast vehicles, a definite upgrade from the old over-charged engines and even that was only available to the rhino. The new baal predator even has the scout rule, which combined with the option to replace its twin-linked assault cannon with a flamestorm cannon, can do devastating things even on the first turn. As for the completely new units like the priests, sanguinary guard, the stromraven, and the new special characters, they are just icing on the cake. They don’t fit into everyone’s play style, but there is no arguing about the fact that they do give new options to choose from without limiting previously existing options and that can only be a good thing.

Finally rare is the change that can be changed without losing something of what it had and the new codex is no exception to this. The special characters changed rather significantly and while the new options can be very good what they do is very different from what they used to do and many people may not like the new versions. Also a big loss to some styles (and a non-issue to other styles) is the change in the death company. Before the death company were a must take as every infantry unit provided a member of the death company (at the cost of the unit costing a little bit more). This made every Blood Angels player use death company and more or less made the death company what set the Bas apart from every other space marine chapter. Now that death company are no longer “free” and must be taken as a Troops choice that can’t hold points and have no way of ignoring the Rage rule once they are out of a transport they require a much more serious investment of points in order to achieve the same results. Furthermore, they now have the ability to take power weapons and fists, but have lost the Rending Rule so the inclusion of some power weapons at additional points is required to make the death company as killy as they use to be. On the plus side the death company has gained a weapon skill, allowing them to hit almost any infantry unit on a 3+, the ability to give everyone power weapons has given them the potential to be ridiculously killy when the points are invested, chaplains now boost the death company even more by allowing rerolls to hit and to wound on the charge, and Furious Charge and Feel No Pain is just as awesome as it used to be. In the end the death company are now something you can build an army around rather than always having, which some people will like and others won’t.

All-in-all the new codex is most definitely an improvement. It allows for new options that no other army has and accentuates the “feel” of the Blood Angel army while inflicting minimal losses. I feel that this codex elevates the Blood Angels from just another space marine variant to their own army to be respected.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Positive and Normative Wargaming

Good day everyone, I thought I'd bring some food for your brains. When we discuss and debate wargaming we fall into one of two general categories in what we say: positive or normative statements. There is a very fundamental difference between these two types of statements and ways of thinking. positive statements are based upon verifiable, objective facts, such as the statement "A fire warrior has a ballistic skill of three." A normative statement is based upon personal beliefs, such as the statement "A fire warrior should have a ballistic skill of four." If a debate centers around positive statements there are facts that can be referred to to solve the dispute. If the debate centers around normative statements there is no independent, objective source of data to which to turn to solve the dispute. In an normative debate, all points of view are equally valid as they are based on beliefs, not evidence.

How does this apply to wargaming? When we are constructing army lists, what do we look for? Do we look for an army that is mathematically the most damaging for the points spent, an army that resembles one from a story, or do we try to make an army how they "should be?" The first approach is based in positive thinking: there is statistical data that can be compiled to analyze the amount of kills a unit should get for its points, if used ideally. The second approach has some grounding in each as you are looking at a force whose composition can be verified, but you are sometimes sacrificing more points efficient units for accuracy. The third approach is entirely based on normative thinking. How an army "should" be is based entirely on your own opinion. I may not agree with your perception of what an army "should" be composed of, but that does not make my opinion any more or less valid than yours.

What do you folks think? Which type of thinking do you employ more often when you think about wargaming? Which do you think is more prevalent in the community at large or in our local gaming group?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Battle Report IV: Heretic v. ZerkeX


A battle between Underground Heretic and ZerkeX. Points total was 2000k, and they played a special scenario from the Battle Missions book.

Please excuse the background noise, and a few errors on my part. Also, at one point a picture is referenced from the 40k Wartruck, but I'll post it here so you can all get a good chuckle out of it.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Forged in The Mind

So my original post was going to cover my progress of the Black Templar army I am currently constructing. However, the pictures were not to my satisfaction, and the words have escaped me. So for now I will be putting my efforts towards something of a similar nature.

As a marine player, I feel it is important to make my army have the feel of many things. First and foremost is the daunting and intimidating feel that Marines should inspire in the enemy. Second, to allow them all to have a great sense of self; and to do this requires a lot of work to make them all stand out. Finally, I want them to have a certain feel of anonymity, and to do this, I use helmets.

However, this is where a certain conflict of interests arises in the Templar army. Many (including my army) use Neophytes, or scouts as most marines call them. These models do not wear helms... and therefore goes against my personal views that all soldiers should wear helms. So my answer is simple, and the subject of this article. Conversions!

Now, I know not everyone is comfortable with the idea of making ones own impression on already beautifully detailed models; some because they won't, and others because they feel they can't. But let's look into what makes a conversion so special. When you look at models on the tabletop, often it is to simple see what actually exists for the purposes of the game. But many times people want to see the hobby shine through to this by presenting stunning models. These often times prove to be more entertaining to play with and against than a horde of gray plastic miniatures.

Obviously we all want to be able to paint to Golden Daemon standards, but sadly this is a difficult objective for a great many players. It takes a lot of skill, and even more practice until you find a good style for yourself that really makes an army look sharp. So this is where simple or elaborate conversions come in handy.

Of course the prime example of conversions would come from the new Tyranid codex, as the new book brought with it new units. GW modeled almost all of these new guys on the carnifex so that people could easily create their own units with relative ease. And what a storm of new and interesting new creations have spawned from this. Although painting may prove to be a challenge for some, a great conversion can get the same attention as an amazing paint job.

As for myself, I know the use of the Templar conversion boxes can hardly be called conversion, but it does give the army the feel and aesthetic I want it to have. But I want more, I want it to look like I did it, and so here comes the unique conversions. For example, my Venerable Dreadnought uses a DCCW (Dread. Close Combat Weapon). For this, I wanted to model a large claymore type sword, as I feel it would bring out the Crusader-esk feel the army should have.

All of my scouts wear helms from Bretonnian Knight's Errant, and my marshal (made from the Helbrecht model) has another of the Bret. helms. I must say I enjoy these conversions as they bring a personalized feel to the army, and allow it to have a much more crusader-like feel for even the scout models.

Conversions range from very simple to extreme. It doesn't take must to give your models a personal touch that can really turn heads. Almost any model worth taking time on is worth taking a little more to really create something you love. So go out, grab your bits, you green stuff, and put some extra love into your army.

Liturgies of Blood: Blood Angel Codex Review Part Two

Welcome back to dramatt’s rather late review of the new Blood Angel’s codex. This time we are going to cover the special characters that the Blood Angels have, new and returning. The new codex now contains 6 special HQ units and 2 special upgrade characters. This is up from the 5 special characters that were in the last Blood Angel pdf and up from the 6 that were in the 3rd edition (same number of special HQs though) . This is showing an increase in the number of special characters, but before anyone starts to shout about how we are moving to HeroHammer who have to look at the situation. Now that Blood Angels have a real codex with more fluff than we’ve seen for a very very long time it only makes sense that new characters have been introduced to the Blood Angels stories and legends and having a model for these new guys only makes sense. Plus the point of a new codex is to get new stuff and that means new special characters. People want new things without losing old things, so we end up with more special characters than we had before. I know that lots of people don’t always agree with all of GW’s business practices, but making new things better to sell them seems like a pretty standard idea in the business world. But that is a topic for another day so anyway, on to the characters themselves.

I suppose we should start with the Lord of the Host himself: Commander Dante. In terms of fluff Dante hasn’t changed that much. He is still older than balls (having been chapter master for like three thousand years now) and supposedly venerated for his tactical knowledge and general awesomeness. New to his fluff is how he is supposedly waiting for a time of crisis where he has to save the entire imperium, which would be cool. Dante costs the same as a ten man assault squad with power weapon and meltagun and comes with a jump pack. His stats have been slightly changed grabbing him an extra wound and initiative. He makes the sanguinary guard troops choices (although why anyone would want them even as troops is beyond me). His weapon loadout is still the same, with a infernus pistol (used to be called the Perdition Pistol before the entire army could take it), the Axe Mortalis (which despite the cool name is just a master crafted power axe), and the standard Iron Halo. His Death Mask of Sanguinius has been changed to act like a regular death mask like the sanguinary guard have and to significantly reduce one enemy independent character’s stats (this effect lasts even if Dante is killed). Dante also gives the squad he joins the ability to arrive from deep strike without scattering (assuming they are jump infantry) as well as the rule Hit & Run. Perhaps most glaringly absent is Eternal Warrior. Apparently three thousand years of chapter mastering isn’t enough to stop you from getting blown away by a single melta gun. All in all a pretty useful guy, but if the enemy doesn’t have an IC or you aren’t using much jump infantry to put him with he may have a hard time earning his points.

Next we come to one of the new additions to the army: Gabriel Seth, Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers. Seth is the cheapest of the BA special charters(still a lot more than a regular chapter master though). And he probably isn’t even worth that much. He is one of the only two special characters who is stuck on foot with no way of having a jump pack (along with Tycho). He comes with a pretty blah stat line for an special character HQ: the same as a regular Captain’s with one extra wound and attack (for a total of 4 each). With only regular power armor and an iron halo his saves aren’t anything to write home about. For weapons he has a regular bolt pistol and a huge ass chainsword. This chainsword, called the Blood Reaver, is a strength 8 weapon with rending. The fact that he still always allows armor saves 5/6s of the time makes him a lot less useful in close combat where his special rules kick in. He has a rule called Whirlwind Of Gore which lets him give up his regular attacks to automatically hit every individual model that he is in base to base with. A nice way to snipe out special guys, but as he still allows armor saves its usefulness is limited. His other rule Ferocious Instincts means that anyone who rolls a 1 trying to hit him in close combat takes an immediate strength 4 hit as he headbutts them back. Cool to think about, but not that useful in real life. To sum him up he is the cheapest special character, but probably not as useful as a cheaper non unique Captain.

Another newcomer to the Blood Angels is the new high chaplain guy: Astorath the Grim. Astorath is only a few points shy of the same price as Dante himself. He counts as jump infantry (he doesn’t actually have a jump packs, but uses wings). Fluff wise Astorath is the guy who comes around to the Blood Angels and their successor chapters to finish off any Death Company who lived through a fight and his presence makes regular Blood Angels more likely to succumb to the Red Thirst. His rules reflect this as he removes the 0-1 limit on the Death Company and causes red thirst to activate on a roll of 1-3 rather than just 1 (although if you run Sanguinary Priests the Red Thirst isn’t neccessary). His stat line and the rest of his rules are the same as a regular Reclusiarch (the generic HQ chaplain) except for his weapon: the Executioner’s Axe, a strength 5 power axe that forces successful invul saves to be rerolled. Although he does have some good points in the end Astorath is probably just doesn’t add enough to useful in most armies as the Death Company aren’t nearly as useful as they used to be and can’t hold points and Priests make the Red Thirst unnecessary. His axe is awesome, but doesn’t justify all the extra points from a generic Reclusiarch. If you want to try a Death Company centered army, though, Astrorath is a must have (literally as he is the only way to have multiple Death Company squads).

The last of the newcomers is The Sanguinor, Exemplar of the Host. A mysterious guy who shows up to kick ass when the Blood Angels need help the real identity of this guy is unknown. I’ve heard all sorts of cool speculation, like he is a manifestation of the Blood Angels collective physic powers, or perhaps even a fragment of Sanguinius himself preserved by the Emperor. In any case he is the most expensive special character. His weapons and gear are pretty standard: artificer armor, grenades, a jump pack, and a Glaive Encarmine like those used by the Sanguinary Guard. It is his rules and stats that make him interesting guy. At weapon skill 8 he hits almost anything on 3s. His BS is 5, although that is irrelevant as he doesn’t even have a gun. Strength 5 is always nice, but Toughness 4 is average. His 3 Wounds seems a little low for his points, but he does have Eternal Warrior (the only guy in the BA codex to get it) and a special rule (not wargear) that gives him a 3+ invul save. Initiative 6 with 5 attacks can be all sort of deadly. For rules he has Avenging Angel that lets him chose one enemy HQ at the start of the game and reroll and To Hits and To Wounds against that HQ, The Sanguinor’s Blessing that beefs up one sergeant, Aura of Fervor that gives all units (except himself) within 6 inches +1 attack, and the standard Descent of Angels, Fearless, and Furious Charge. The biggest drawback to this guy is that he lacks Independent Character status, which means he can’t join units to meat shield for him. He has to be all by himself. With good play techniques to keep the enemy from just massing shots on him he can be a real beast, but it is up to you if you want to commit so many points to something you have to baby so much.

Now we get to the resident BA-dass: Mephiston, The Lord of Death. The fluff for Mephiston is largely the same with a few hints that he might be slowly giving in to the dark side. The best way to think of the new Mephiston isn’t as a space marine, but rather a monstrous creature. Like the Sanguinor he doesn’t have IC status and can’t be put with a squad. His stats are rather, looking like they were ripped out of the Tyranid codex. The Tough 6 helps make up for the fact that he still doesn’t have Eternal Warrior. His points are smack in the middle of Dante and the Sanguinor and he comes with artificer armor, a plasma pistol, a force sword, the usual grenades, and a psychic hood. If you notice he has no invul save, by far his biggest weakness requiring careful play to make sure a group of lascannons don’t just blow him out of the water. He comes with pre-selected psychic powers that can give him wings for a turn, preferred enemy, and strength 10, as well as the ability to use all of them in one turn. For rules he comes with the usual And They Shall Know No Fear, and Psyker. More importantly is that he is Fleet and that his Transfixing Gaze is now an ability that forces an enemy independent character to pass a leadership test at -4 or Mephiston gets to reroll all To Hits and To Wounds against him. Now obviously without any kind of invulnerable save Meph is weak to a number of things and most other players will just start listing things that they have that can tear him a new one. However, between having wings and Fleet he can be incredibly mobile and easy to hide so that you can choose what he hits. The list of things that eat him may be long, but the list of things he eats is even longer. Of course his points are kind of salty so you have to make sure to use him well and can’t just throw him up front and hope for the best.

The final special HQ is return Captain Tycho. To be honest I’m not entirely sure why he is in the codex as according to the fluff he is already dead. Even on his own page it talks about how he died during the third battle for Armageddon after finally snapping and joining the Death Company. At any rate he is the second cheapest special HQ, being only a few points more than Gabriel Seth (and more useful). The interesting thing about Tycho is that he comes in two different flavors: regular and Death Company. His regular form has the same stats as a generic captain (he is a captain after all), while his Death Company form loses a BS and two to his leadership, but gets an extra WS and attack. Both of his forms have the same gear which is pretty nice as he comes with artificer armor and an Iron Halo, plus some his weapons. His gun, the Blood Song, is a combi-melta that can fire sternguard ammunition. His close combat weapon is the Dead Man’s Hand that acts like a power weapon with built-in digital lasers. He also has the standard bolt pistol to give him an extra attack for dual-armed. Regular Captain Tycho’s rules are fitting for an army leader with Rites of Battle, but no fancy shenanigans. Death Company Tycho doesn’t have Rites or even IC, but gets Rage, Fearless, Fleet, Furious Charge, Feel No Pain, and Relentless (which goes well with his gun). Both forms of Tycho have his fluff based Preferred Enemy: Orks as Tycho hates him some greenskins. If you are trying to get a fair amount of bang for your buck Tycho either form of his aren’t bad choices and are generally a fair amount better than any generic HQ, but his power and rules aren’t as game-changing as his more expensive brethren.

Although Lemartes and Corbulo aren’t HQs anymore they used to be and they are still special characters so I’ll be giving them a quick review of their own. Lemartes is now an upgrade character for the Death Company. Fluff wise Lemartes has had a 180 degree change. Where he used to be the High Chaplain and responsible for guiding the souls of all the Blood Angels he has now fallen to the Black Rage and only holds on to his sanity by sheer force of will and is carted from battle to battle. He comes with a jump pack and costs just a little bit more than the elites slot chaplain with jump pack and combines the special rules and equipment for the chaplain with the rules of the Death Company. Plus he has his own rule where if he loses one of his two wounds both his strength and attacks increase to five. If you were planning on running a Chaplain to boost the Death Company Lemartes is a logical replacement unless you are really hurting for points, but in an army without much Death Company Lemartes doesn’t really add that much. Corbulo is now an upgrade character for the sanguinary priests. His fluff remains largely unchanged as he is still the visionary for the Blood Angels as he sometimes has visions hinting of the future as he searches for the cure to the Red Thirst and Black Rage. Corbulo costs a few points over double that of a plain priest with no extra wargear. His stats are the same as a priest except for an extra wound and attack. His equipment is also mostly the same except for his sword which hits at S5 and has Rending. His Chalice of Blood works the same as a regular priest, but gives him Feel No Pain on a 2+ rather than a 3+. Also he allows you to reroll any one die as long as you do so before he dies. Corbs is a good option when looking for a priest to help beef up a hammer unit, although without a jump pack he isn’t much use for a regular assault squad and there isn’t a lot of point in paying extra just to throw him into a tactical squad.