Monday, May 30, 2011

Progress Report: Godfrey's Templar II

Hey everyone! As I mentioned the other day, I wanted to put up a progress report on my Templar army. I have been distracted by other projects, and in the time I've owned these guys I have started, finished, and often sold Daemons, Dark Eldar, and Grey Knights. Though I like to play around with alternative armies, this is my baby.

As you can see, my Crusade Fleet has grown quite a bit since the last time I talked about them on here, so I wouldn't mind showing the progress.

Marshal Hector Keys accompanied by Sword Brethren. The model is a Scibor Minis model with added Scibor shield and Holy Orb to give him the correct weapons layout as per how I usually run him.

Godfrey, The Emperor's Champion and the crusader squad he leads. Fun Fact: Godfrey was named after Godfrey the Baron of Ibelin. I also chose to paint the tabard on my Champion to match the Iconography.

Marsha Tyberius Irons. Made using the Helbrecht model with the addition of a helmet, he generally only sees play as Helbrecht. As it is currently the only "actual" marshal model, it seemed fitting.

>Brother Dominus, one of a few models named from the anime series Big O. Armed with assault cannon and a converted DCCW, he makes for a great mid field tank hunter.

Michael Seebach, Master of Sanctity. The model was converted from a Legion of the Damned sergeant. His three cenobite servitors are the retinue of Hector Rex with minor conversions.

Grimaldus. My favorite model made by GW, both in fluff, and game play. This Chaplain in one of the bigger reasons I chose to play Black Templar.

As you can see from the first picture, I still have plenty of unpainted models. I am working to get as many of them done as possible so that one day I can put up a finished review of the entire army.


Thursday, May 12, 2011


I've been able to get in about a half dozen games in with my rebooted Tau and have been having smashingly consistent results. The smashing part has been my army against whatever rocks were nearby, but there are two upsides I've seen in these losses that give me confidence that I can return to playing Tau without hating 40k and the army. A quick recap of the Tau's latest (getting) hits might sum up why I'm loving losing left and right while I race to get the army painted for a Bloomington tournament on the 21st.

I've had the opportunity to play Loki and Meister Kai twice each with my new Tau, all four games were kill points and both pairs of games were similar. I played Kai's mechanized Eldar first on dawn of war and made some major errors in deployment that gave the opening to glean easy kill points. Getting seized on didn't help, but after the game we talked about how I could have deployed and played better. The next game we played we decided to take our time and talk about each decision and why it was a good or bad choice. Over the next four hours we talked about how to set up the next turn's shooting, what units constituted a bigger threat to the army and how to mitigate the influence of dice by moving to a safer position. Where the first game Kai and I played was a slaughter, the second ended with my broadsides as the only Tau survivors and losing by one kill point. The game involved some ridiculous rolls for good and ill, but I was able to be more aware of what I was trying to do with my army and what choices I hadn't seen.

Both times I've played Loki I've been facing his paladin army and can't say it's anything but a royal pain to kill anything. In the first game we played I didn't use my kroot to screen the rest of my army properly and lost a hammerhead to Loki's scout shunting dreadknight on the top of one, followed by poor use of my piranhas and the dreadknight butchering by broadsides on turn two meant that I ran out of weapons able to inflict instant death on the paladins fast. After only being able to get two of his six kill points, the game wasn't close by any stretch. The second game was very different. When Loki won the roll and opted to go first, putting two pallie squads on the midline of the board, I decided to not try to seize or deploy anything. On the bottom of one his squad without Drago was hit by my whole army, dropping it to four wounded pallies. When the sun rose next turn Drago and his squad started working on a parking lot of piranhas and hammerheads that had moved twelve inches to block them from the rest of the army that was almost base to base in a corner behind two units of kroot. One of those bought me the turn I needed to finish the first pallie squad and died to the dreadknight, the other died to Drago's pallies, buying another turn. Disruption pods saved all three shots from the vindicare before a railgun showed him what a real gun was. In the end it came down to four pallies, Drago and a cowardly inquisitor against three suits, an immobilized piranha and a hammerhead. Six models to five models, eleven kill points to three, but a much closer game than it looked.

What have I learned? I've learned that I can play Tau without getting a headache and I can stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to win. Odds are I'm not going to win any single game, but it will satisfy me if both armies are bloodied and I've learned something about how to play 40k better. Loki talked about a shift in 40k from a game that had a lot more options whose enjoyability came from their ludicrousness rather than their competitiveness as a choice. I disagree with his division between a 'fun' game and a 'competitive' game because I used to wrestle and get beaten, a lot. In wrestling and 40k, to me, the fun doesn't come from rolling another player over and mollystomping them as one mindset I haven't run into would have it, but from the both of you walking away with (proverbially) broken noses, knowing that you both gave your best and ended up evenly matched. The outcome of the game isn't so important to me as the effort that was put in and any insight gained for the next game.

I'll try to post some pictures of my Tau with the next update, but that would require me to get them painted, which I will, but first lunch. Ribs sound delicious.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

40k: Fun or Functional

Greeting everyone. After a long time thinking on the matter, I have started to at a lot of things about the game that have changed over the years. While a lot of the changes have been great, there's one that makes me sad.

While rules have been added, changed, or even removed, some of the more interesting and fun aspects of the game have gone missing. I look at the ork codex as my large example of some of these more... fun rules. From Shock Attack guns to mine field clearing grots... the codex was and is full of some fun moments. Now of course this codex is designed to be somewhat humerus, it wasn't always the only one to have some unique rules come up.

Codex Necrons has a fun little rule/ability. The Nightbringer has a fun ability to throw units away from him so long as they are S3 or less. He also has a very... very specific rule. If he is hit with a C'Tan Phase Blade... he doesn't take any wounds, and the bearer looses their weapon. Now this only really effects the Caladis Assassin (even though she's been newly redone recently). Of course the rule isn't really "good" but it's funny when it happens. In all the years I've played, I've only ever seen that happen once, and tremendous laughs were had. Either way, his rules allow for some unique moments to occur, and while the rule which applies to only the Caladis Assassin is limited, the S3 push away is something that many players may not see coming.

Lets look over to Daemons. While the codex is kind of a joke as it is (no offense to those who play it) there are some moments in it as well. Fateweaver, apart from his meta, has a funny rule. If he takes a wound and fails his leadership... he runs back to the warp in fear. Now, this makes me laugh a lot as I can easily see any mage running at the first sight of danger... and it's replicated with Fateweaver's cowardice here. Maybe this was put in more as a balance to his powerful re-roll ability, but even if so, it's a fun way to make the model balanced while doing it in a funny and entertaining manner.

Another fun little rule, while not huge, is in the Eldar codex. Prince Yriel has a pseudo daemon weapon that likes to see him squirm. At the end of the game... if he's still kickin, the blade tries like hell to make him stop. It's not huge, but it makes for a funny moment if he does die.

In the end, I feel like the game has shifted from trying to be entertaining to simply being about competitiveness. The new rules which accompany the models and units of fifth edition seem to encourage players to use the more powerful options over others. While in some of the older editions the options were funny vs powerful... fifth has almost no fun choices inherently and pretty much leaves you choosing between powerful or less powerful options. Maybe I'm just missing some of the old days where the game was more about fun than winning... but I sure would like to see some more entertaining moments pop up.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kill Points, Not as Bad as You Think

Good morning everyone, hope you've had a good week or so while we've been working on wrapping up our classwork for this year. I haven't gotten to play as many games as I would like, but I wanted to talk about something that I think a lot of people and I will disagree on and spark some discussion on. Let's talk about having a lot of kill points in your army.

As the win condition for one of the three big rule book missions, kill points are a point of contention between people who hate them and...well most people hate them. As far as I know, this hatred comes from the equality of units in the kill points system. To get a kill point all you have to do is completely destroy a unit. All units are worth one kill point, no matter how expensive or hard to kill they are. A squad of three termigants, a devilfish and a land raider are each worth one kill point which is the major point of contention with people who hate kill points.

In contrast the 4th edition big rule book used a system based on how much each unit cost in points, called victory points. Victory points still exist in the 5th edition big rule book, but in my experience are rarely played, so let's only touch on them briefly. Using victory points a player would receive the points cost of a unit if it was completely destroyed and half the points cost if it was reduced to half strength or suffered a weapon destroyed or immobilized result. This rewarded players more for killing expensive units than it did for killing small impotent units and it made it possible to get some value out of damaging a vehicle that refused to die. With kill points you are left empty-handed unless something is entirely dead.

Tournaments that I go to generally use kill points as a tie breaker in objective games and as a primary win condition. Knowing this and that our gaming club uses the big rule book missions, most people around here are very conscious of how many kill points are in their lists. Their line of thinking goes that if a high kill point army fights a low kill point army it is at a disadvantage because the low kill point army has a lower threshold of kill points to attain before it will win unless it is wholly annihilated.

This is absolutely true, but I think it is incomplete in its analysis of having many units in an army. In having a high number of kill points, a list must also have a high number of units. The vanilla, blood angel and grey knight codices have the ability to break their squads into combat squads under certain conditions, creating new units and kill points. The imperial guard has the ability to combine multiple infantry squads within a platoon to reduce the number of units and kill points in the army. Each combat squad can operate independently and do the same thing their parent unit could do, albeit at half the strength.

The benefits of having these Multiple Small Units is in the more efficient allocation of damage and protection from overwhelming damage it affords the army as a whole. If a platoon's infantry squads combine, they stop conceding multiple kill points if they all die, but they can no longer act independently. While a combined squad of four infantry squads with lascannons can generate four lascannon shots on one target which may be effected by a single order, the four infantry squads can generate four lascannon shots that target independently. While some vehicles are more difficult to destroy than others, any can be killed in one penetrating hit. If all four lascannons fire at a vehicle simultaneously the odds of killing that vehicle are the same, barring any unit effecting abilities like orders, as if they were to be fired at it sequentially. However, if the infantry squad were to fire sequentially from different units, it is entirely possible that the first shot could kill the vehicle. This would allow the remaining units to fire at the vehicle's contents, if any, or another target. If the first shot does not kill the vehicle, the other shots may still be fired at the target, but if all of the shots were in one large unit, they must all fire simultaneously at the same target, baring abilities like target locks. By having more units, rather than fewer larger units, the units are able to more efficiently allocate their damage output.

On the reverse, units must only shoot at one unit, again barring special abilities. Some units have the ability to put out enough damage to eradicate a full squad, be in marine combined guard or any other, in one shooting phase. Consider the possibility that one unit was to receive enough wounds that its full strength version would perish. If the unit is at full strength they will all die, but if the unit has been divided into smaller portions only that smaller portion will die. It is simply impossible to lose ten models out of a five model unit. I will fully admit that those five models are dead and your opponent has received a kill point, which would be true whether the unit was divided or not. However, if you have divided the unit's special weapons evenly, the enemy has only taken away a portion of the full strength unit's damage output. While you have conceded a point towards the win condition or tiebreaker, you have retained more ability to take points in return than you would have if you had not divided your unit.

This MSU strategy is especially effective in objective games where any unit may contest a point and troops may claim them. The same weaknesses and strengths that apply in kill point missions apply here, but the ability to have more units that can claim objectives raises the threshold of units that a low kill point army must destroy to prevent the high kill point army from being unable to claim or contest an equal number of objectives.

These are my heretical thoughts on kill points and I would welcome anyone who disagrees to persuade me that I am wrong. I will attempt to do likewise for you and perhaps we will both gain a broader understanding of the subject. I leave you with a joke.

Why can twelve vanilla marines fit in a drop pod while only ten wolves or angels can?
The pod doesn't have room for the wolves' egos or the angels angst.