Tuesday, November 30, 2010

dramatt's Dark Eldar Review Part 1

Alright I promised a review of the Dark Eldar codex from my own unique outlook and here it is. In this first part I’m going to look at the fluff, army wide special rules, and the some of the more basic infantry units. The next part is going to look at the rest of the infantry, the vehicles, and the weapons, while the last part will focus on each of the special characters.

Hedonism, blah, blah, blah, fall of the Eldar, blah, blah, blah, Warp, blah, blah, blah, raids, blah, blah, blah, rape, pillage, loot, poison, destroy, terrorize, blah, blah, blah, intrigue, blah, blah, blah, Asdrubael Vect.

Army Wide Rules:

Power From Pain: This is the new bread and butter special rule for the dark elder. That first pain token that gives them FNP that will constitute pretty much all the save they have. A 6+ or 5+ sucks less when you get a 4+ after you fail it. You have to get that as soon as possible or be ripped to shreds as soon as someone points a gun at you. Even with it you are going to lose a lot of guys, especially since anything strength 6 or above will rip right through it. The second pain token giving you Furious Charge will be handy, but unless you somehow start with a token or use a Chronos, only your heavy hitters are going to get to this point. Still any unit that does get to this point instantly becomes much more deadly. The third token gives fearless, but I doubt it is going to be that useful as the DE have a decent enough leadership to keep them from running from shooting losses, and if they start to lose combat they are thoroughly screwed anyway.

Night Vision: Yeah, this will be relevant in about 1 in 20 games.

Fleet: Of course the DE still have fleet. It’s what makes them tick. Without it they would be crippled as they desperately need the extra bit of movement to let them get into assault safely, cause if they fail to get into combat they are just sitting ducks asking to be slaughtered.
Combat Drugs: These are handy and awesome. This time around every one of the drugs is strictly helpful. The worst of them practically guarantees you a good fleet role to make sure you get into close combat. The middle four make you much better in close combat by increasing, either your WS, S, A, or letting you reroll to wound, all of which are great advantages. The last one lets you start with a pain token that makes you more durable and that much closer to getting Furious Charge. The only downside is you obviously don’t get to choose which one you get. Still since all of them are handy it is that much of a problem.

The Infantry

Kabalite Warriors: The average Joe of the army. His stats are what you would expect and his armor is paper. They will kill IG and Tau in close combat, but anything past that is just going to look at their 3T and 5+ armor and laugh. Fortunately, close combat isn’t what there were meant for. Their poisoned rapid-fire weapons can do some damage, especially with open-topped vehicles. Cannon fodder, but cheap cannon fodder with a decent gun. Also come in a Elite version that has an extra attack and can buy more special weapons or even switch everyone to shardcarbines, but cost more per dude (especially once you pay for some upgrades) so you just end up with expensive dudes that die like they were cheap dudes.

Wyches: Now this is the unit that I like. You are going to run them into your enemy and watch them kill things. But if you screw up and let someone shoot at them they are going down faster than a drunk cheerleader at a frat party. That 4+ invul save on everyone is going to make a lot of people with expensive power weapon only units cry. The boost from combat drugs is random, but always helpful. Their fleet is going to help them get into combat or at least some cover. One pain token will greatly increase their survivability and if you get two they can hit ridiculously hard. Also comes in an elite version with an extra attack and a higher price tag.

Hellions: If you are confident in your ability to hit an enemy without taking too many shots these are the guys for you. With both jump packs and fleet they can move ridiculously fast. And they hit much harder than they look because of their weapons. The hellglaives they come with gives them an extra attack (making up for the one they lose due to it not dual-armed) and gives them +1S. All this plus combat drugs and assault 2 guns that you don’t want to underestimate make them a good threat. Only problem is 16 points a pop is a lot for 5+ armor. You are going to need at least one pain token or some good cover otherwise you are going to watch your investment go up in smoke.

Reavers: This is what happens when the elder build their bikes out of paper. Their shooting isn’t good, their close combat is no better than a wych or hellion, but they cost just more than twice the price of a wych. The way people are going to end up using them is by using their bladevanes to run through enemy units and cause hits when they turbo boost. This way they get the cover save and inflict some hits, but D3 S4 AP- per reaver probably isn’t going to justify their price tag, especially since you have to move at least a certain distance in a straight line to do it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Return of 40k Radio

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Rites of Battle.

It's been a long time since I talked about podcasts on this blog, but the holiday travel has given me something to be thankful for. Most of you may have heard of 40k Radio already, but let me give you a bit of background. Spencer Harding started the show back in February of 2008 as a project with some of his friends. The podcast gained a large audience and hosts changed, Spencer bringing in more of his friends from his local gaming group. All in all the show was just a few friends sitting around drinking and talking about our hobby.

But things do not always stay peachy for a long time. Alcohol loosens the tongue and sometimes we say something we wish we hadn't. This was the case with one of the guest hosts during a celebratory marathon show. After about 16 hours of fun and drink, a guest going by the name Jar Jar let slip with an off color joke. Being swamped with material to edit Spencer was unable to locate the offensive phrase and it accidentally got published. Jar Jar's word choice sparked a torrent of emails from angry fans of the show. Not realizing he had offended people at the time, Jar Jar apologized publicly and volunteered to not return. A few weeks later, Spencer's co-hosts wanted to give Jar Jar a chance to redeem himself and brought him back for an episode. The fan base of the show reacted negatively again, including a threat against Spencer and his family. Judging his family more important than his hobby Spencer decided to quit producing the show.

Despite the absurd reaction of some audience members, many people wanted to see the podcast continue in the quality broadcasting it had been known for. Romeo Filip, the owner of Battle Foam, contacted Spencer and bought the rights to the show and his equipment. Romeo and his friend Rik Massei have taken up the reins of the show and attempted to bring more guests in, including Les Bursley of AwesomePaintjob.com (if you haven't seen his work, follow the link to be wowed) and Dan Abnett, writer for the Black Library.

While I have always been a fan of Spencer and company's devotion to the hobby that showed in the effort they put into their show (including organizing a forum and world wide tournament), Romeo and Rik are able to take their time and present a more polished podcast. Both sets of hosts are top notch hobbists and love to bring their fans the best they can. If you don't have a large gaming group or live far away from other 40k fans, this can give you a new voice to consider or just something to listen to while gaming or painting. If you have time go to 40k Radio.com and have a listen to some of the best news and views about current events related to 40k.

Heretic out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Crusades Part V

Revisions to the original Post have been made in light of the newest FAQ. These revisions will appear in red

Apologies first for the delay with Part V. Many films to work on and final projects piling up, along with a tournament this past weekend has had Loki running in several directions at once, so lets dig right in.

Part V of my look into the Black Templars will look at two sections, Transport Vehicles, and the Fast Attack Section of the Codex. As usual (especially with the older codexes out there) there are some good choices, and some not so good choices. None of them are bad, but they can get offal pricey at times.

Transport Vehicles
As most Space Marines players will know, there are generally three major selections when it comes to this area. The Rhino for the bulky Squads; the Razorback, offering support fire for the smaller more static squads, and the Drop Pod for those who like to close the gap early. To each, his own here, but lets look a little bit more closely at these options, and even throw in a surprise at the end.

This is you standard run of the mill transport, commonly seen within the fluff and tabletop when it comes to the Angels of Death. The Templar also make good use of these mobile bunkers to quite good use. The standard 11 11 10 armor with the added perk of "Rhino Repair" makes these babies resilient little boxes to house those marines in while they cross the field. Now we did loose old smoke, but that doesn't mean these little babies aren't still useful.

The down side to all of this is that is is still just a Rhino. Once it's smoke is used up, it will die pretty quick to enemy anti-mech. In Annihilation, Rhinos become points to the enemy's favor quickly. They also won't do much if they are destroyed before you can do anything with them (losing them at the top of 1 for instance). Another down side is the price. Like a lot of things in this codex, it isn't cheap. at 50 points base before any extras, it takes more points than usual just to field it. If all wargear is equal (i.e. smoke launchers, extra armor, and searchlights) the B.T. Rhino costs 9 points more a pop. Granted we have the old smoke rule which is exceptional, but it is still 9 points more that must be taken to field it. I suggest shaving the searchlight for the extra point, but it's you call.

Overall, if Rhino Rush is your style, the Templar can do it quite well. Thumbs up to this choice.

The Razorback
Got points to spend (of course not in this codex), but if you do, these babies work very nicely. To save time, they too have the ability to pop smoke, but on the Razorback, this means you lose the shot you are paying an arm and a leg for, so it's someone less of a perk for this transport. And lets look at options.

The standard Razorback from the newer codexes have 5 options of weapons to take. The B.T. version is limited to 2! This in itself is a sad mark for the vehicle, but of the options of Heavy Bolter and Lascannon (both Twin linked of course) it's a far cry from the options of the newer variants. In addition, the price is outrageous! 70 base before optional wargear, and if you want to add the TL Lascannon, it's another 20 points. This makes it a total of 99 points that this codex does not really make room for easily.

Granted, the squads taking the Razorback will be smaller, and generally ranged so the lack of numbers is negligible. Add this to the wargear upgrade system not requiring specific numbers in the squads makes this tank and it's unit capable of massive firepower for a reasonable price. 6 marines, armed with a plasma gun, a Lascannon, and a Razorback with Smoke Launchers, will run you 204 points. Not a bad unit to sit back on a point and provide good AP 2 support fire.

All in all, the Razorback has it's place, but that place is at range in an army that usually moves forward. Not bad, but not my cup of tea. Though I have seen them used quite effectively by others.

The Drop Pod
It takes a little work to figure out these things, but if you are one for the Shock and Awe Entrance tactic, these will do the trick. Now under Transport options for the Squads I noticed Drop Pod is never mentioned. You have to look in the Army Rules under Drop Pod Assault for the list of units that may purchase the vehicle. Note again they do no get the ability to send in half rounded up on turn one, they simply arrive via reserves as normal.

The list mentions the Command Squad, Sword Brethren Squad, Dreadnought, Crusader Squad, and all types of Terminator Squads (numbering 10 or less) may purchase them. It does say specifically Assault Squads may not purchase them, but If you look at that closely you'll see something odd. Any Terminators numbering 10 or less... this is an error on their part as the Drop Pod itself states that it may only carry up to 5 Terminators.

The neat part about this is that it starts at a base 30 points. So while it does not have the ability to come in first turn, it is actually cheaper than the new variant, which is relatively rare. It follows the same rules for new Drop Pods, including the ability to avoid hitting terrain or other models (Guidance System basically) and has the ability to upgrade the Storm Bolter to a Deathwind Launcher, however remember the BS on this thing is still only a 2.

I myself am not a huge fan of this option, but again I can see it's uses.

And now for the surprise...

The Land Raider Crusader
While not expressly under the Transport Vehicle Section, all multi-model units except assault marines and vehicle units in the army may purchase it as a Dedicated Transport. Yes even our Crusader Squads may take them as a Transport, giving our army (now along with Blood Angels) the ability to take a Land Raider for our Troops. I will cover this more in Part VI since it is technically from that section, but it is nice to see this Chapter Based Variant get the love it deserves. If Land Raider Spam is your style... it's hard to beat this one.

So there you have the transports. All of them have a good place in the army, and as I noticed yet again, there's not a bad choice among them, just some options that will be more pricey than others. So onward to the next part of this review...

Fast Attack
I will give you all a bit of a warning, as I will try to be objective, but I have never been completely sold on Space Marine Fast Attack sections. This army hasn't really changed that for more, though I do not opt to run these units a lot in my personal army... I know others do, and usually pretty decently. So lets catch a gimps of these agile units.

The Assault Squad
In an article I wrote called "Jumping the Gun" I mentioned this choice, and my opinion on them has yet to change. They are a decent choice with some nice options. However, they are very expensive, they have no way to take a meltagun, and instead may still have meltabombs. This is not bad, but it means that if assaulting a transport the charge must be wasted on the vehicle itself, rather than hitting the unit inside if the meltagun destroys it. It does provide them with a decent answer to Walkers and the like, but it still is a risky endeavor.

The biggest problem I have is that the unit may not righteous zeal. This is one of my favorite abilities of this army, and can often make them just as fast, if not faster than the assault squad. This is probably the biggest reason I am no a fan of these airborne knights. I personally am very sad as I love the aesthetic of the jump pack.

Now there is a nice perk for this unit that I unfortunately failed to mention before, but in light of the new FAQ, it's a pretty nifty trick. The entire unit may replace it's bolt pistols with the new Storm Shields for 15 points a pop. It's very expensive (and thus not always optimal) but it is a way to make this unit a very durable unit as it will almost always have a 3+ save. Again, you loose duel armed, and they cost a pretty substantial price (37 a model with the shield and meltabombs to be precise) but they might be an interesting addition.

Sadly I can not recommend this unit, but if you like them, then by all means try em out.

The Land Speeder
Again, I do not like the Speeder types on a personal level, but they can be effective. This codex runs the same Speeders are a slightly higher cost than the new codexes. The Typhoon Launcher now has the ability to fire the same style shots as any marine Typhoon pattern, however there is a catch. Terminators have the ability to buy Vet Skills, and thus can have S9 missiles. To each his own on this one all, S9 missiles on the termies, or more and mobile S8 shots here. Not a bad choice.

Solid choice if you like speeders. I would stay clear of the Anti-Infantry build, as the army already has that covered in the troop and elite sections quite nicely. However, the tank busting melta speeder, and the Typhoon patterns are decent choices for adding some mobile firepower to the army.

Bikes / Attack Bikes
Now I can say there is some positive here, but again it is vastly out shined by the new codexes. They are more expensive, have no sergeant, a smaller max unit size, and also loose the zeal movement. I can see a practical use for the Attack bike Squadron for mobile tank bust to support the troops, but neither of these options for the price is very efficiently. As most bike units are, they are vulnerable to heavy shots, and at the points you must pay to field them, along with the small cap size to keep models with additional wargear safe... they just don't seem to be the first choice (to me) when it comes to answering the problems they seem designed to do.

On a positive note, the bike squads wargear is open, so you can potentially have 3 special weapons and a heavy in one squad making them very hard hitting, but it will again cost you mucho point...o's

Once again, if you have points left open, and you're building for speed, these options are all useful, and can easily do the trick, but it will cost you much more than alternative options listed in other sections of the codex.

So there is the Fast Attack. I must say I am sorry that my look is so bleak on these guys, but to me they just do enough to merit their higher costs, and in some cases lack of options. You will all be happy to hear I have much more positive things to say about the Heavy Support section in Part VI. So until then.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Consult the Book of Armaments!

GW has finally revised the FAQ on the Big Rule Book once again. After speculation as to why the FAQ section for 40k was down, I must say I'm rather disappointed. While I do appreciate the answering of the more valid questions (defining turn, transports moving flat-out), I was appalled to see some things defined and questioned answered that made me sick to my stomach. Clarifying that an I.C. and a unit they've attached to is worth 2 kill points, and saying that opponents must set up in the same manner in the opposite board edge in Pitched Battle and Spearhead is not only common sense, it says it right in the rule book! These questions aren't valid, as it is spelled out right in the frikin' book.

I was also not to impressed by the fact this was the only FAQ released. 8th edition for Warhammer Fantasy came with brand new FAQ rulings for each an every army almost immediately as there were massive game changes to major mechanics to the core game. Well having played from 4th to 5th in 40k... I can attest to the fact that the core of the game has changed rather dramatically here as well, but we only get rulings for the Big Book, and not every army. Why do my Templar continue to have several unanswered questions (For example: Does Helbrecht's Iron Halo count as being from the list in Relics & Artifacts?) and other armies out there suffering from old rules in new editions (Chaos Dreadnoughts and their crazed rule with the new LoS for walkers).

In all I was excited to think maybe 40k would finally get that bump in the right direction, but even their new BRB FAQ says "No, we won't errata anything, it's just easier to just wait till the new codex is released." Well that's nice GW, but you mean to tell me we have to wait the years it takes you to release a new codex before we get an answer, only then have to wait even further for the FAQ on that codex to hit so we get all new ones answered.

I don't buy this. Perhaps GW should really consider doing more work than taking the easy route. Sorry for the rant, but while there is some good to this FAQ, it think it is vastly out shined by the crap GW seems to be just to darned lazy to fix.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Space Wolves are good for the game

Certain armies get a lot of flack for their new codices breaking with fluff or having absurdly many "good" units without any "bad" units. Whether units are inherently good or bad is a topic for another time, but I would like to address my favorite whipping boys for being too good, the Space Wolves. There are a lot of reasons for why this is, but I'd like to address just a few and propose why they aren't so bad as you might think and may actually be a good thing for the game.

First the lightning rod himself, the rune priest. Space wolves have historically been known as the chapter that has the second most hatred of psykers, right after black templar. They've always had their rune priests and they've always been psykers, but with the 5th edition codex they've become arguably the best psykers and that shocks some people. These rune priests strike a fine balance between offensive and support psykers, have reliable psychic stop and are priced in line with librarians. In a codex where melee characters can run into the price range of land raiders, being able to select a character who can contribute to the army relatively cheaply is a relief of pressure on building a list. He brings the ability to bring close or long range fire support, buff and debuff spells and an alternative to the focused mindset of melee stomping characters.

The issue of Wolves' hatred of psychers, specifically sorcerers, is the hang up for most people. Some people accept the GW explanation that goes along the lines of "rune priests are shamans, not sorcerers so it's cool," some don't. I think it was a necessary decision to give people a reason to bring rune priests when they simply don't stack up to the melee prowess of their comrades. But why is he good for the game? To me he is the marine psyker simplified: able to buff, debuff and contribute to the damage output of the army and having a simple version of psychic stop. Some people can argue that psychic stop doesn't need to be simplified, but for new players the rules we take for granted are daunting. Let them have some breaks so they can focus on thinking about the game rather than the rules.

Next another point of "ridiculousness," the grey hunters. These are the space wolf troops you've probably seen if you've played against wolves. They come with the standard tactical layout plus a ccw, trade combat tactics for counter attack and have no sergeant, so they are leadership 8 for one point less than a tactical marine. For that one point reduction, you get an extra attack in close combat and the possibility (72%) to double tap your boltguns (and possibly plasma) and then get the same number of close combat attacks that you would if you had fired your bolt pistols and assaulted. This allows space wolf players to have more flexibility in their tactical choices without leaving them in a very bad situation.

The idea that these are your "tactical" marines is one of the causes of discontent over the codex. These are not tactical marines. Tactical marines focus on nothing and diversify, able to bring a heavy weapon, special weapon and a sergeant with a special combat weapon. Grey hunters do not have access to heavy weapons and their ability to take a second weapon (for free) is offset by their inability to utilize a transport if they want a sergeant equivalent. While they can take close combat special abilities (PW, PF or Mark of the Wulfen), each of these is on a model with one attack base and the lack of a sergeant keeps the squad at leadership eight. While this is low for marines, it is pretty average for the game.

These are only some of the points of contention over this codex, but thinking about the codex in the whole of 40k. This codex is versatile and forgiving, almost to a fault. It simplifies 40k and makes it easier to learn and win with while learning. This is good for beginners. Go back and read that last sentence before you start flaming. The codex is good for beginners, not only good for beginners [Tasteless comment retracted], but it gives beginners a more gradual learning curve, allowing for them to win while they are learning to play. Winning is what we call in teaching "a positive reinforcer," meaning it makes people want to repeat an action that led to the reinforcement. New players wanting to play more 40k helps bring them into the game more. That is good for the rest of us by giving us more people to play against.

Thoughts? Comments?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Crusades Part IV

Welcome back to Part IV of my look into the Black Templar's codex. Today we are going to look into the troop section, and see just what makes this unit tick. I'll throw some information, some tactics, and even a quick comparison in on this unit, as it is one of my favorite troop choices in the game. So lets get to it.

Being one of the most basic and most essential parts of every army, the troop section is built on the principle of filling the space between the other units on the board. However, while they are considered troops, and in some cases need help from other units (leadership for instance), the Black Templar's excel in this category in my opinion. The odd thing about this observation is that they have very little options here; 1 to be precise. But that one option is fanominally versatile.

The Crusader Squad
Lets lay down the basics. The Squad starts as a 5 man unit of Initiates (Space Marines), and may purchase up to 5 additional Initiates at 16 points per model. In addition, due to the way in which neophytes in this army are trained, they are added to the squad as well. For every initiate you have in the sqaud, you may add one Neophyte (Scout). This means you may take as many Neophytes as Initiates up to a maximum of 20 men strong. This alone allows for great flexibility.

For instance, If you are looking to save points here and there, you could opt to run neophytes instead of Initiates. As they are 6 points a model less, these changes can add up quickly at get you the points you require for upgrades, units, etc. Or you could use a 5 /5 squad to get the bolstered numbers of models in the squad while saving points simultaneously. I use this trick on a ranged squad with Plasma Gun and Plasma Cannon... it allows me to take additional bodies to keep from putting wounds on my important plasma members while still saving points for other units that move forward and need to points more.

Finally there is the big option, and big is being used literally here. The "Blob Squad" as we affectionately call it around here is what the Templar can do that no other marines can do. As you can have an identical number of Initiates and neophytes, you may run 10 of each and have a base 20 man strong squad. After adding additional wargear (my suggestion is Power Fist and Meltagun and the frags) you sit at 305 points. for a 20 man unit with a PF and MG, that's a bargain. Add a chaplain to this to make them fearless and zeal faster towards any enemy unit, and you have a vicious unit hitting the board. This is my favorite option as it is a unique unit build for this codex, and it's a hard unit to crack.

I'll get to this more when I cover the special characters, but if you are running multiple Blob Squads, I recommend Grimaldus hands down. His unique rules and abilities are great for helping multiple squads, and for his points he's a steal to help multiple Blobs at once. One great chaplain aiding 3 20 man units is not only efficient, it's amazing.

Now on to their Wargear. The Initiates have Boltguns, which can be traded for a Bolt Pistol and Close Combat Weapon for the low, low price of free! This is nice as it in itself allows the unit to do either ranged or close quarters fighting for the same cost. Likewise, the Neophytes may be armed with Combat Shotguns (remember these are the older ones) which can also be swapped for Bolt Pistol and CCW for free. Now the other neat trick here is that they may be used on a by model basis. This means you can have a few members with Boltguns and others with pistol/CCW. Although this is nifty, I can't say I really recommend it unless you are building to be well rounded. I have seen players pop out, rapid fire Boltgun, then be just fine in the assault. Either way you equal out to the same attacks. This is where the versitility is great as it fits any play style the player is looking for.

Now a unit can't have pure positive so I will give you the few downsides they have. First and foremost they have no grenades base. Starting at 16 per initiate / 10 per neophyte points, they then have to buy frags at 1 point per, and I can't suggest the 2 points per kraks. This makes them 17/11 base before wargear which is already a little steep. Now squads based on range fighting may save the points here, but if you plan to assault, it's nice to have these... but never mandatory. Player's choice here.

Secondly, there is no sergeant in this squad. this means no leadership bolstering built into the squad as most armies have. However, look to the HQ's to help here. But this issue lends a hand with the next issue...

finally, we may only ever purchase 2 additional weapons. We get a special weapon, and then our choice of either a heavy or a melee weapon (power weapon/fist). I'm ok with this as it forces units to build a little for what they want to do. Yes we may not be as well rounded in some ways as other codex marines, however in this army, we'll make do. So where does the lack of sergeant come in here? If you look, we may get that power weapon or fist, but it is on a normal marine, and therefore it losses that bonus attack the sergeants gain from their Term. Honors. So on the charge we have 3 power weapon attacks, or 2 power fist attacks. Now granted we will usually have Preferred Enemy to help us make those lack of attacks be more accurate, but it is something that should be considered.

Now again these issues can be a bit of a pain, as running out of older codex can be sometimes. However, I can attest to the power of this one unit alone in the Black Templars army. I will argue that with it's options, the army rules, and the tactics available, they still have some of the most varied, and useful abilities to offer the army. And remember, they are a scoring unit. A lot of times those internet lists will dictate taking less scoring units to field more of those special units. However, this unit makes a great choice to just hit the enemy lines, and hit it hard. I have seen Crusader Squads hit the lines together and obliterate all that stand in their way based on 3 attacks per model on a large scale.

So lets do a quick comparison based on other assault marine units. My immediate look was at Blood Angels. Now without any other units to bolster either (No Chaplains, Priests, etc.) They have the same weapons (with the addition of Grenades and Jump Packs) at 18 points per. Now of course we don't have kraks, but I rarely see that become a major issue, but for 1 point less we have the frags. So the big difference is the leadership and the Jump Pack... but is there a difference.

A Blood Angel Assault Marine will have a 12" move, with a potential 6" run/assault. so effectively an 18" threat range.

A Black Templar will move 6" and run assault 6". So without any help they have a lesser movement. But with built in rules, if they are shot (which is generally the answer to stop an assaulting unit) they can move up to 6" with a re-roll if seals are taken. making them able to reach the same possible range.

Of course Blood Angels have a 1/6 chance to have Red Thirst, which is helpful, so without aid, they have a slight edge, but on the battlefield, even a priest and assault squad will have trouble with a full 20 man unit, and even more so if there is a chaplain or the Emperor's Champion with them.

All in all, I have to say I really have to tip my helmet to this unit. Great look, great tactics, amazingly reliable, and all while filling mandatory slots. This codex does have more mandatory unit requirements than most, and while options are limited in many ways, they are limited to units that are worth their points. The Crusader Squad is no different.

So that's the one troop choice we have. I look forward to see what you may think of this unit. What do you think of this unit compared to similar troop units? I plan to cover the Fast Attack portion in Part V, so until then...


To all you lurking readers, I invite you to join in on conversations. Jump in and give your two cents. We may not be BoLS, but we love to see your comments. I hope to see more from you guys in the future :).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Towers of Midnight and Some Khador

by Ishamael

Hi there lads and lasses! Contained within this short post are no spoilers.

So, yesterday I had the distinct pleasure to finish Towers of Midnight (one week after its release, 6 days of my owning it :3), and I have to say I am incredibly excited for the next book. Without spoiling a thing, I am certain that fans will enjoy it, and there are even some plot elements from earlier books that went completely over my head that become revealed late in the book. For those of you that have finished the book, that particular romance at the end of the Tower of Ghenjei took me by surprise, and I still never noticed it in my second read through the first five novels.

I figure I will give a more complete book report in about a week or so to give fans time to finish the book, so I'll finish this with a nice smiley face.


post script: Kirby, I would love to discuss the book and series with you when you're finished with it!


Unfortunately, it has not been the case that I have had time to play Warmachine lately, but I have been thinking more and more on what caster to take. While I own Sorscha, Vlad, The Old Witch, and Zerkova, the caster I'm leaning towards for the units I enjoy is Vlad. Given that Signs and Portents works for everything, and I have three Jacks to take advantage of his feat, I will give a sample 35 point list of what I want to test out:

Vladimir, The Dark Prince 5
Berserker 5
Juggernaut 7
Spriggan 10
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 3 Grunts)2
Great Bears of Gallowswood 5
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts)4
Iron Fang Uhlans (Leader and 2 Grunts)7

It just so happens that this falls within the parameters of a Tier 1 Vlad-themed list, so the Berserker gets a price reduction. So, what are the strengths here?
While quite small and elite, I get the units I like, and even have some small plan to keep them alive! The Jacks cover center field B2B under the cover of one Ternion's Blizzard, one casts it on Vlad, and the last casts it on the center Uhlan. Vlad casts Wind Wall, and he advances with the Bears in front of him while B2B completely within 3 inches. The mechanics and Ternion hang out behind the Jacks. So, +2 Def to everything, and Vlad + Bears cannot be hit with ranged attacks unless they are magical, but the +2 Def holds unless it's Retribution I'm playing against. The plan is to pop Vlad's feat when I'm certain that the enemy is within the 11 inches to charge. If it appears further, casting Boundless Charge three times + feat gives my jacks 13 inches of charge range, with 2 inches for Reach on my Spriggy, but it may just be better to use the feat and give focus to the Jacks. Now, the cavalry will come into play after battle has been joined by the Jacks. My current play testing has been ahistorical, given that I had forgotten how cavalry have been used since their inception. For infantry-heavy opponents, the Ternion will hopefully spray them out, and I have the Spriggan's grenade launchers, as well as the cavalry's ability to overrun infantry with their mounts. Vlad and the Great Bears go as needed in a similar manner as the cavalry, most likely with Signs and Portents up. I'll have to sit down and think on what to do with 50 points to spend. It'll probably stop being themed at that point.

So, these are my current thoughts on using Vlad and some units I enjoy. I am hoping for this Christmas I can get ahold of Karchev. I think I will enjoy playing with a caster that is essentially another Warjack with some fun spells. I plan to do a themed list with him, especially at 50 points. I also need to grab Behemoth.

One of these Saturdays soon I plan on playing some 40k, and I also need to get back to painting my Tau'r Rangers.

So, here's a small update on what I am up to, and now I need to get back to finishing Lord of Chaos.

dovie'andi se tovya sagain,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Crusades Part III

Revisions to the original Post have been made in light of the newest FAQ. These revisions will appear in red

Welcome back to part III of The Crusades. Today we're going to continue into the depths of the codex to review the Elites section of the army, and see what tricks can be brought to bare upon the enemies of mankind. I know I said I would also review the Troops section, however I do feel it would be good to keep the post separate, as the troops squad will take a good long bit to explain. But back to the Elites. As a marine army, this section tend to be the bulk of the meat and potatoes of the might in the force, and rightly so. So lets look to them.

Generally seen as the best the force has to offer in skill and ability, the Elites of a Black Templar army are similar in many ways to those of the other chapter counterparts out there. However, the story behind these is a bit more interesting than simply those who have been granted the Terminator Honors and thus become sergeants. The Elites of the Black Templar are those who showed skill on the battlefield and were inducted into the Fleet Marshal's House; these knights are known as the Sword Brethren.

On the battlefield they serve as what you would expect from marines. The general idea would be mostly on the Terminators and the Dreadnought selections, however there are a few other units that make it into the Elites portion.

Sword Brethren Terminator Squad
These guys make up what is classically referred to as the "Shooty Termies." They come equipped with a storm bolter and a powerfist, which is not terrible. They do have the option to take the heavy weapons that most terminators do... but they do it much more efficiently. Like all the units in this codex there is no min or max number required to access this gear, and so it is possible to get 2 assault cannons if you only have the minimum number in the squad. Let us not forget to notice that the new Cyclone missile launchers are now Heavy 2's, and thus we have at out disposal a potential of 4 S9 missiles per squad going when firing at vehicles (gotta love Tank Hunters). However there is one catch that I noticed.

In the HQ section, you can buy the Terminator Command Squad. This unit may purchase the same gear, and also has a sergeant who can access the Templar Armory, which the squad in the elites section lacks. the HQ terminators also have the option to start at 4 models and reach up to 10, while this squad must have a minimum of 5. This becomes a slight issue when looking to be the most efficient with point in this codex (and with the points working the way they do in the BT codex, it is very helpful to save points where you can).

Now, both squads can take veteran skills at 3 points per model, so there is no difference there. The Tank Hunting shooting terminators work very well in many cases, though I myself do not frequent this tactic for a more assault based feel. All in all this squad is decent, but if shooting terminators are your thing, I'd recommend the HQ terminators instead. Obviously it you have used up you're HQ selections, these may be your best bet, so I won't say they are bad. But I do still push for the HQ terminators when possible based on equipment options and point savings.

Sword Brethren Terminator Assault Squad
Now you have a hard time going wrong with this unit when building to assault. These guys are your basic assault based terminators; armed with lightning claws which can be replaced for the TH/SS combo for free. With the newest FAQ we now have the new 3+ invulnerable at all times shields. With that said, i still urge the use of at least some (I prefer more) Lightning Claws, as they benefit more from the Furious Charge skill. and they do usually look to have a land raider, but most Hammer units in the marine codex line up tend to look in the same direction. Yet, this unit has one big thing that really makes it shine when comparing to other terminators.

This unit, like many in the codex has the option to take the veteran skills at 3 points per model, and with an assault unit, Furious Charge is always a good thing. Now couple this with the Preferred Enemy ability the army usually have an you have a combo of much win. This means those bearing the lightning claws are I and S 5 with re-rolls to hit, and to wound. It doesn't take much to see these guys are going to hurt what they hit. Follow that up with some S 9 TH's and you have an extremely smash based unit. I can't recommend these guys enough, and if not going for the expensive command squad as a Hammer Unit for the army, these guys make an efficient and capable unit.

Sword Brethren Squad
I will not lie, these guys show their age, and it makes me very sad when looking into them. Now, by no means is this squad a bad choice... but it is expensive for very little options. They come at base 19 with no more than standard weapons, and need 1 point per to get the frags that is usually standard. On top of this, it is usually a good idea to get the 10 point per Term. Honors they can buy, making them 3 attacks base, and 4 on the charge. They also need to look into additional wargear, but this becomes a conflict of issues in many ways.

The models (still beautiful) come with a set of lightning claws and a power weapon. Though the unit does have the options for things like a power fist, a meltagun, etc. the old metal models do not have the options to do so without heavy conversion work This is a bit of a problem as the usual pushed build (power weapons and pair of claws) does not allow for anti-mech, and thus the squad is not very well rounded. They are also expensive. Coming in at 30 points per without any vehicle or additional weapons is salty fora unit that isn't even scoring. This makes me quite sad.

Now, there is some positive to be taken with them. They do get veteran skills for free compared to other units which have to pay 3 point per to get. The squad (if it takes Term. honors on it's members) may also purchase the new Storm Shields for only 10 points per model. This is 5 points cheaper than any other outlet to the new shield. Keep in mind that this will only further increase their price, and will lose them an attack. However, the thought of adding a combat shield to some models for 5 points may not be a terrible idea, now that it offers a 6+ invulnerable. They also have a few more skills to chose from, though I still strongly urge the use of Furious Charge. All in all they aren't bad, but they are expensive with few options, and in a codex that needs to be as efficient as possible they do take a lot of points to do very little. But if you're looking to fit the fluff, a squad should hit the table if a marshal does. and with models that pretty, a fanatical Templar player should really look to pick some up.

The Dreadnought
All kinds of deadly, the Dreadnought brings the pain in many ways that the normal foot based units in the army can not. They come standard with the Assault Cannon with options to switch out for alternative weaponry, but I suggest keeping what it has for versatility and point savings. For every 2500 points you run (so basically one per army) you may run a venerable dreadnought. Along with the snazzy rule, it also allows him access to veteran skills. And with an army that could use all the tank busting it can get, and Tank Hunting Dreadnought will make even the mighty Monolith cry.

I usually keep the Assault Cannon and DCCW to allow him to move forward with the rest of the army and provide support, then hammer into an enemy tank with effectively S 11 hits. Now of course you can't go above 10, but Tank Hunters simply adds one to the roll for armor pen, so you get S 10 +1d6 +1. This is pretty nice as you are glancing a land raider on a 3 and penetrating on a 4+. Of course you can go with an alternative route and have a TL S 10 Lascannon and a S 9 Missile Launcher from range, but I always like synergy, and the ability to show off my DCCW conversions :D.

I would not take a dread in this army less you plan to make it venerable, as normal dreadnoughts tend to fall apart quickly to anti-mech shots. That's not to say you can't, but I think the lone Venerable Dread can stand up to a lot of hurt before he falls.

The Techmarine
Serving as a great defense when running mech, the Techmarine has his place. If you plan to run mech heavy here, this is a good unit to take to cover your bases. Coming with the ability to upgrade to the Harness and take Servitors to increase his ability to shoot, repair, and even melee (last one not recommended) he has good options at his disposal. He has one thing that I like above the new standard Techs though.

His servo harness while giving him a 2+ armor save and the same additional weaponry works differently than the new harness. The new ones simply add one to the roll needed to repair, so a 6+ would be a 5+... much like adding another servitor would be to a max of a 2+. His simply says re-roll failed repair rolls. So while he may only get to a 3+ if he takes all tech servitors, he gets the option of a re-roll. I am one for re-rolls (and may I say this army does that very well) so it is a nice difference between codexes.

All in all he's a solid choice if you run mech heavy, but I wouldn't suggest him if you aren't running the tank wall.

So there we have the Elites portion. I really want to hear what you guys think on this section, especially any of the other Templar Players out there. Tell me how you run yours and if you have alternative strategies I may have overlooked. Look for part IV to hit the Troops section.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Upcoming Dark Eldar

As you guys heard earlier from Heretic I’m going to be starting a Dark Eldar army. Now as I don’t have large amounts of cash just laying about begging to be spent it’s going to take some time to build the army up. I don’t even have the codex yet (that’s coming in on this Friday) so obviously by the time I get a codex and build even a proxy army to get in enough games to objectively discuss the pros and cons of the Dark Eldar everyone else on the internet will have beaten me to it. So instead of even trying that I’m doing something completely different. I’m not even going to try to be objective in my review. I’ll write it before I even put the models together. You are going to get a view of the codex from the guy who plays Blood Angels so he can throw assault marines down the board and kill things in close combat. In this respect I guarantee it will be unlike anything else on the net. As for how useful it’s going to be we will have to wait and see. The point is I’m going to be spewing out my first impressions on what I’m going to do with the codex and it’s up to you guys to agree with, mock, ridicule, correct, or just plain insult me. And then some time down the line when I’ve gotten actual experience with the codex I’ll come back and take a look at just how awesomely right/horribly wrong I actually was.

100th post!

Good morning to you all and thank you for reading this. Here at Rites we've managed to hold it together for 100 posts and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading our drivel, or at least mine. The time we've been doing this has brought changes to all of our lives and we've all changed armies, except for dramatt but he will be playing the new Dark Eldar. I've gone away from Tau to Eldar while Ishmael has gone from Chaos to Tau to Khador in Warmachine. Loki has gone from one chapter of the sons of Dorn to another. Dramatt is going from his sparkly vampires to the sex drugs and sadism of Dark Eldar.

I know that Loki has been pulling a lot more than his share of the weight around here due to Ishmael and I having plenty of work for the university. While I apologize for not being able to post more, I've needed the time for things that are more important to me. While we've all had changes in our personal and gaming lives, our love for the game and our appreciation of you, our readers has not diminished. We hope to be able to bring you more witty and informed commentary on our favorite games in the future.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Crusades Part II

Revisions to the original Post have been made in light of the newest FAQ. These revisions will appear in red

Welcome to part II of my look into the Black Templars codex. Last time we covered the back story as well as the special rules for this unique army. Today I'll look into the unit selection from the HQ selection of the codex, and offer both description and uses for each one. So let's get to it.

This army is one that works on the idea of synergy in a lot of ways. For the most part, I have describe marine armies as being full of stand alone units. This means that each unit is self sufficient and able to hold it's own alone, while other armies require other units to aid them (i.e. Imperial Guardsmen - Command Squads, Tau Fire Warriors - Pathfinders, etc.) And while the units in this army are in fact marines, they have little abilities to help with the leadership aspect. This is where the HQ's come in. They provide various abilities to help the army with leadership (and with Righteous Zeal causes us to make tests with even one death, it helps substantially).

Additionally, without the sergeants in each squad, we lose some on the attack characteristics of our power weapon/fists. However, since we don't have to take full squads in order to gain special weapons (I'll get to this later), we can place the HQ's with squads with little consequence. So what options do we have?

The Emperor's Champion
This guy is what makes the army for us. in games of 750 points or more, he's a mandatory unit that takes up no HQ slots... that being said he's worth every point. He has a stat line which rivals most characters of the new edition even from early 4th. (Can't wait to see the stats and rules for him in the 5th ed. BT codex!) He comes standard with a 2+ armor save as well as a 4+ invulnerable in close combat. He wields the Black sword which is basically a relic blade which allows for a duel armed bonus, however as he is one attack short on the stat line from the comparable marine captain, it is pretty much the same thing (3 attacks base, with 4 on the charge).

He has no options to his wargear, which is a little sad, but with his built in frags, bolt pistol, and crusader seals he really needs not but enemies to kill. He does have one set of options though, and that is what Vow to take. There are 4 to chose from, each with a different point value, but the last one stands out above all in my opinion:

Suffer Not the Unclean to Live
Gain a +1 S, but suffer a -1 I as it takes time to gather this holy strength. Remember to use normal I value for sweeping advances and other I tests. However, the S bonus does not stack with other similar bonuses (i.e. Furious Charge).

This is a nifty one, and I like it to a point, but compared to other bonuses, and it's lack of stacking with the Black Templars Veteran Skill Furious Charge, I'd have to give it a thumbs down.

Uphold the Honour of the Emperor
You may never claim cover, but all units gain a 6+ invulnerable, and may never be pinned.

Now while and invulnerable save on everyone sounds great, it's only a 6+ and in 5th cover is just amazingly useful; and pinning is rarely an issue with a usually Leadership 10 or fearless army (getting to those perks in just a second).

All in all, thumbs down for this one.

Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch
Before the game starts, BT units (including vehicles) may make a free Righteous Zeal move towards the nearest visible enemy unit, but only if there is an enemy psycher. In addition, any psychic powers which target the army are nullified on a 5+. This is amazingly useful as this is the only real psychic defense built into the army, however, it only really works if there is psychic powers being used by the enemy, and thus is sometimes worthless.

Thumbs up and down to this one, but compared to the next (and pseudo-standard one) way down.

Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds
If a BT unit may charge an enemy, it must do so, but the army has Preferred Enemy against anything they are fighting. In an assault army this is a must, especially with the way Preferred Enemy works to give the re-roll now. I have had units go from 2 hits to 15 out of 20 rolls once... it is a great way to make this army go.

Two thumbs and both big toes way up to this one.

Please note that all vows work on Initiates (Marines) and Dreadnoughts, but not the Neophytes (scouts).

The Marshal
Your standard melee bamf, these guys take the roll of captain in the army. With complete access to the Armory (with options like the Holy Orb, and Terminator Honors, this is a major perk) and a decent stat line, these guys will doe everything you need on the front line. Now they do not start with anything save crusader seals, so that access to the armory is a necessity, however the starting cost is only 80 so it accommodates for this fact. But the big reason to take this option is for the "Rites."

That's right, Rights of Battle hits the field with the Marshal, making every unit in the army so long as he lives, able to use his leadership (10). This is a great perk, as the standard units have no way to increase their leadership for that crossing. Remember all BT units are fearless in CC, so it won't matter there, but it is useful when it comes time to pass a zeal test. I urge the use of this HQ in the case you are running rhino rush, or any build that uses a lot of units. I also recommend putting him with a standard troops choice to bolster their ability to kill. However, if they start with a veteran unit, he may purchase a veteran skill which can be helpful giving him I and S 5 if he takes Furious Charge, or perhaps Tank Hunters, however I recommend the former.

All in all these guys offer a solid commander for the army.

The Master of Sanctity
Now these guys are my favorite, Chaplains with the ability to take the front lines to the enemy of the Emperor with all due hast. They come with a power weapon (crozious) and a 4+ invulnerable save (rosarious) standard, and still have access to the armory to increase their kill ratio.

They make the unit they join fearless at all times, and when they zeal they can make the move towards any enemy unit rather than just the closest. In addition, they may purchase up to 3 cenobite servitors to increase the zeal move by 1 per servitor alive (to a max of 9") and serve as surplus wounds once the gap has been closed. They also have the classic Litanies of Hate. This means good news for those Neophytes who don't have the Preferred Enemy perk from the Champion.

Now, these guys to me are best suited for the Blob Squads. Those are the foot based (or crusader based) units that number around 15 to 20 strong. The Chaplain and 3 cenobites make for a 24 man squad potentially, which I have used to great effect. Not to say they can't work well in smaller squads, but to fully gain from the rules they offer, I strongly urge the use of a larger squad with them.

Now before moving on, I will mention that each the Marshal and the Master of Sanctity have cheaper alternatives (The Castellan and Reclusiarch respectively) however, I rarely use them as the small points difference is a bargain in the bolster to the stats (as well with the Marshall having Rites with a leadership value of 10 vs the Castellan's 9). I always suggest the more potent of the two unless you are dying, and I mean DYING! for points somewhere.

Now the units above make good use to any army for a leadership buff. The following units are still good, and serve a purpose, but I still urge the use of at least one of the above units to help the army in the Ld department.

The Sword Brethren Terminator Command Squad
A mouthful and a decent option. This is a 4 man terminator squad (can be bolstered to a 10 man squad) with the standard shooting pattern allotted to them. They may take up to two heavy weapons and they have a built in sergeant, which is a rarity to the army. He alone has access to the armory, and that is always a good thing, but with only 1 wound he's a little weak compared to other actual standalone choices as a commander.

I have seen beautiful use made of this unit with the assault cannons and the Tank Hunters Veteran Skill. I suggest a smaller size base so they can be a cheap and effective key strike unit.

I'd say they are not a bad choice. I myself do not use them, but I can see their uses.

The Command Squad
Now before I start, I'll say this unit is a guilty pleasure of mine. It is a group of 4-9 standard marines that serve as a similar unit to the Command Terminators. However, they have a million and one options including the ability to take specialist models (like the sergeant, company champion, standard bearer, and apothecary [who now is invaluable as he adds the Feel No Pain rule to the unit]). This unit is expensive with no questions asked... but if you're willing to spend the points, and play them well, they'll annihilate a good deal in themselves.

No Joke, took this unit with Helbrecht (who allows them to add up to 5 neophytes) and that unit alone crushed a 5th edition 1750 Tyranid army which was in a crescent moon shape in 1 ROUND of combat... not even a full turn; I assaulted, and killed the army on my assault. Steven, if you're out there... I love ya man.

Now again, they are EXPENSIVE. My usual unit consisting of Helbrecht, the squad, the neophytes, the upgrades, and the Crusader they rode in on runs around 880 points. I can't say it's efficient, but when it works... look out.

And with that we've wrapped up the HQ choices for the army, and I must say there isn't a bad choice among them. They all serve a purpose (and sometimes more) while being great syngerizer bunnies to the army. Look to part III to cover the Elites and the Troops (or in this case Troop) sections of the codex. Until next time,